Spring in West Michigan is an extraordinary, technicolor showcase of life bursting forth in grand display.
Green is so green.
Cool breezes are fresh with hints of soothing moisture.
Smells are rich with sweet nectars, reminding the world to wake-up after winter's long nap.
Pinks, purples, yellows greet around every corner lining roads and sidewalks with hopeful cheer. It's the season of promise. Resurrection shows itself everywhere.
And so, we all get in the mood.
Wipe it down, throw it out, sweep it up.
Package it, mail it, toss it, file it, scrapbook it.
Get rid of the old, buy the new, tear down, and rebuild.
Till, plant, water, wait.
Saying goodbyes, starting over, ready for something new.
We want change.
We've stored and hoarded and napped long enough.
Time to train for the race, prep for the parties, hang white lights for the cook-outs.
We break open new books, wrap presents for grads, hurry to lose the weight, pack for the beach. We think of moonlit nights by campfires, laughing with best friends, extended days and alluring sunsets, look forward to kids coming home.
We say goodbye to school. We send eager kids off to summer camps and sleepovers.
Life is moving.
We feel it this time of year.
We want to make the very most of longer days, warmer sunshine, slower schedules.
We think we get to finally relax but alas, we're still rushing around.
Our minds are full and no matter the trying, we can't quiet them.
We're surrounded in bulging cabinets stuffed with worn-out clothes, ugly shoes, and childhood games we'll never touch again, nor will our kids, as much as we wish they would.
We have piles for Goodwill, drawers to sort, and a garage full of pails, and cords, and rakes, and broken flower pots, and that game of jarts we're going to take out and use one day.
It never ends.
We purpose to take a moment to sit on the back patio and look over the yard and breathe in the first few breaths of summer. We take out the pink plastic plates, open the shade umbrella, make a tuna fish sandwich, pour ourselves a tall glass of cool lemonade, and recline in the wicker chair next to the fresh petunias, blooming full already.
We dream about all we're going to do, and be, and take care of.
But summer is making its typical early entrance, reminding us how swift this season is and how fast the time will go. A paradox for sure.
We can't waste a minute.
This is the summer we're going to get organized. We're going to block out other invitations so we can finally focus on the garage, the family photo albums, the college files.
We're going to purge and purge and purge again... because we know we'll feel better once it's finally done. We'll have July and August - which we pretend are each 8 weeks at least - to play if we can discipline ourselves in June.
But, the more we live, the more we collect, and the more we collect, the more we spin and toil and try to find an empty crevice to put it in.
Relaxing evades us.
There's too much to do.
So, here's what I suggest...
Get really quiet in your space and be very still. Maybe right there on that wicker chair.
Finish your lemonade and then close your eyes.
Set your phone and laptop in another room.
Breathe in and out.
Feel the feelings in full. Celebrate the swaying oaks and the shade they provide.
Look around you.
Smell the flowers, look at the colors, and the yard you'll need to mow this Thursday, and be thankful.
Then, head into your space refreshed - even for just awhile.
Open one drawer.
And take very careful time to remember.
Pick up that old birthday card and article your best friend sent, the one you tucked away a year ago and never read.
Read the article, think about your friend. Relive the time she knew you best.
Laugh if you need to.
Cry if you must.
And then, start your piles... one birthday card, one old sock, one high school basketball championship medal at a time.
Because the very first step to a brand-new clean life, is to decide clearly that you're all done with the confusing, messy, dirty life you've been wrapped up tight in.
You're not only going to reach for something completely different than a million things you've tried, you're going to find it. You're going to live in it.
The piles become mental filing systems, designed to help start eliminating what doesn't serve you. You're going to feel so much better, so soon.
So make the "keep" pile first.
This one is the most fun to make.
Stick the card in this pile because you just read it and laughed, and laughing like that is worth holding onto. You'll need this again one day, maybe soon.
Don't look at the bookshelf, or under your bed, or in the bathroom under the sink.
You'll get overwhelmed in a hot second.
Right now, you're looking in one drawer.
Just one drawer.
The one next to your bed, where you keep handy stuff, fun stuff, stupid stuff, and maybe a couple secrets. And... the cards you get once in awhile.
So touch and feel that card you love, and smile about that friend who sent it, and take a picture of her special handwriting, and tape it up inside the walls of your heart and then keep going. If there's lots of "keep" in this drawer, then it's okay, keep "keeping".
But go slowly. Stay very aware.
Look, there's an old prescription you never had filled, and a couple dead pens, and way too many paper clips. There's a church bulletin, a stack of old to-do lists, and a really dumb idea you were done with long ago.
Now you're looking at a "toss" pile. Start one.
You find you're not really that attached to the Redbook article about Hugh Jackman anymore so "bye-bye". And before long, you've spent an hour and your drawer is a quarter full, instead of crammed to overflowing and your "keep" pile is smaller, and your "toss" pile is huge and you feel amazing.
And you're on your way.
So, you catch a small glimpse of what Clean could really feel like.
You're not so overwhelmed.
You did it.
You didn't spend money. You didn't overeat. You didn't hurt anyone. You didn't give in to a needless temptation.
The absolute only thing that happened is that you made a way for yourself.
You slowed down long enough to see that you in fact, can do what you set out for.
You decided to start.
And that huge project of organizing your house, just became simple and accessible.
And so you keep going.
For some, it's a paradigm shift. This is new. Feels uncertain.
For others, you do this yearly routine all the time.
Yet for others, you obsess about anything that isn't in a labeled bin.
We're all somewhere different on the journey.
The good news is simply this, the thoughts you had about what was impossible are no longer true. You have a new baseline for what could be.
And this doesn't just count for your closet, and pantry, and desk, and Christmas decorations, it spreads all over your life.
Take a moment now to think about the word, "clean".
What images come to mind?
Water, fresh white bed linens, your hair bouncing as you walk out of the salon, your teeth after a good cleaning, your gut after a detox.
Imagine now that this can be you. This can be your life.
Don't plan on arriving anywhere in particular.
Do plan on a fresh take to what you ever dreamed for your life.
Now, go back to the wicker chair.
Maybe pour a glass of wine this time.
And celebrate. You are on your way.
I'd love to join you.
Give me a ring.