It's usually not until the first rays of spring sunshine come streaming through my window, until I feel the first bit of warmth on my skin, that I realize just how low my spirits dipped during the winter.
I tend to let my home get a little dirtier in winter because I just don't have the energy or motivation to keep it all together. The darkness hides the dust anyway, right?
But what about my heart? Does the darkness of winter hide the cobwebs that creep into my soul? Or do I just choose to ignore them, hoping that no one else can see them, pretending it will get better? As much as winter is a season of celebration and coziness, by the time February rolls around, it's all lost its luster and I'm slipping into old habits. Discontentment. Criticism. Clipped words and clipped wings.
Just like I do a few rounds of purging and spring cleaning for my home, I'm finding that I need to do the same kind of cleaning for my soul. If you're in need of some soul-level spring cleaning, I hope you'll find these practices helpful.
1. Take stock of what you have.
A good spring-cleaning purge starts with figuring out what you have that's useful and beautiful. At the soul level, this means taking stock of the things you're grateful for: relationships, a hobby, upcoming events, a way you've grown. These are a few things on my list:
- My husband, Dan. We just had our first baby, and even though marriage is tougher than ever to prioritize, I love him more than I ever have.
2. Purge the things that are weighing you down.
Just like you'd purge the items that are broken, no longer used, or taking up unnecessary space, do the same thing with your life. Consider your schedule, your work, your relationships, your hobbies, your kids' activities, your habits.
What needs to go? What is sucking the life out of you? What are you doing that doesn't have a purpose for you or your family? Here's a small picture of what I'm purging.
- Skipping straight to the worst-case scenario and letting my mind spiral out with worry (which my husband so lovingly calls "catasrophizing").
- Slathering on the mom guilt like it's a necessary moisturizer. (It's not.)
- Scrolling my phone whenever I have a few minutes to spare.
- Jumping from task to task to task without finishing one.
- Assuming I'm the only one having a tough time at any given moment.
3. Notice what's missing and take steps toward closing the gaps.
When you purge the old from your closets and your cabinets, it's often apparent that there are holes to fill in and things that are missing. Getting rid of the old helps us to see where these gaps are. As you sweep away the broken pieces of your soul, notice what you need to fill up with instead. It could actually be nothing, just silence. It may be directly related to what you purged. It could be something new altogether.
I know there are many holes that we often can't fill ourselves. You may be dreaming of a husband or a baby or to be debt-free, and you know that these things are not entirely within your control. That said, consider what small steps you can take to move toward your good desires.
You may want to step out of your comfort zone and talk to someone new once a week. You may choose to change your diet or have a conversation with your husband. You may need to talk with a financial planner. These are not solutions or quick fixes, but they are healthy steps that are within your control.
Here are the steps I'm taking to fill in some gaps:
- Repeating my current mantra for as long it as takes for me to calm down or to believe something better about myself: "One day at a time. One day at a time."
- Keeping a book with me at all times and reading it whenever I have a few minutes.
- Closing the extra tabs, literally and figuratively, and focusing on one task until it's complete.
- Asking my people how they're doing, what I may be missing, and how I can support them.
It's spring. It's the season of lightness and brightness and freshness. Let's do the work necessary to refine our souls, not just our homes. Let's stretch our limbs and our comfort zones. Let's turn our faces to the sun. Let's become something new.