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I know what you’re all thinking.  Isn’t it convenient that right after that post about technology and boundaries, that I drop off the face of my blog (is that even grammatically correct?) :-).  Well, it was not intentional!!!

What happened last week was some serious, inadvertent, spring cleaning.

You see, we live in a beautiful tourist town and the summer is prime vacation time so we usually rent our home (that we had originally bought as a vacation rental) for a few weeks or weekends of the warmer months.  It never used to be a lot of work to get it ready earlier but since a few months before the baby, our vacation home had become our only home when we weren’t on the road teaching.   We’d officially moved here and so had the “stuff” of our life, clothes and shoes and surfboards and in our case books and more books: cookbooks, yoga books, books on philosophy, fiction, non-fiction etc. etc.  And finally, the baby stuff, which I’ve managed to keep minimal, yet somehow with the busy-ness of everything else, I had allowed the baby things to find a few resting spots around the house, this despite my being a very hyper-particular neat freak – I take the niyama about “saucha” or cleanliness to heart.

Somehow we managed. While the baby napped, I labelled boxes with a handy new toy, a portable “labeler” which somehow made the “Computer cables” box seem so official and the “Ananda’s 6 month old clothes” a work of art. I devised recipes out of the leftovers in the fridge – thai green curry with everything (?), and baked banana bread as we had too many frozen bananas in the freezer – perfect for a father’s day treat. My partner took boxes out to storage.  We made bagfuls of things to take to the thrift stores in town, a pile for an upcoming garage sale, and laughed as we discovered an old camera, photos we had missed, and various other objects that turned up in the organizing frenzy.

And in an ironic twist, we left our sweet home on the coast and went up to Tofino, the neighboring town, while some guests enjoyed our home for the weekend. I complained and complained and wondered aloud at how this miscommunication could have happened (we weren’t originally supposed to rent our place out this past weekend as the baby and I were around) until it finally struck me that if I was going to enjoy any part of the day and what had become a way to be on vacation in our own neighbourhood, i would have to let those negative thoughts go.

After all, without that external deadline we wouldn’t have gotten the house together, all the little home improvement projects tackled and a lot of reorganizing and purging done, if we absolutely didn’t have to.  Though my goal is to try to create internal deadlines that I honor and stay true to, sometimes you need an external deadline to really get it done!

And I was reminded of a quote I read recently about how we are never stuck in our lives, the only thing that is stuck is our perspective.

Such a simple lesson, yet so profound.  I’m learning it in new ways every day, most often now with a little person testing all my beliefs and perspectives on how time should flow and what I should do and when.  Yes, I can work towards setting up routines but ultimately how things evolve is no longer simply up to me.  It’s all about constantly shifting perspective, dancing with it actually and in the process you can get quite creative, emerge beyond your own limitations and have fun.

I wish I had taken a “before” picture of our living room, but here is the after.  A talented neighbour put up the wall shelves for us last Thursday and all of a sudden, much of the clutter was organized!  🙂

My tips for a good spring cleaning session:

For clothing:

  • Discard any items you have not worn in the last year (so you cover all seasons).
  • Give the rest away to friends, swap clothing, donate it to goodwill shops or sell it to a consignment store.
  • Organize your closet so things are within reach and also so you know exactly what you have.
  • Be non-attached – all those old festival / fundraiser tees: you don’t have to hang on to them, especially if you don’t wear them.

Reduce, Reduce, Reduce

  • If you’re one of those crafty people who can repurpose and up cycle things, kudos to you, for the rest of us get rid of all those unfinished projects that you’ve set aside for “when you have more time.” I do think (and think that Feng Shui experts would agree) that there’s a weight to things that pile up in our homes – sort of a “deadweight” and just as we send our breath in our bodies in yoga to places that need some activation and aliveness, a breath of spring cleaning air can help you move stuck places in your home and life as well.
  • If you have children, run a critical eye over their books and toys.  An easy place to start,  give away half of your child’s “stuffies” they are probably not attached to most of them anyhow and it can become a fun thing to do with your child if they’re old enough to understand and participate in the sorting.  Then move on to other things.  Local community groups are always looking for donations so are libraries and schools.

Other things:

  • Plan out the flow before you begin so your entire house doesn’t look crazy (ours did!!!).  I tried to tackle one room before attempting the second one and so on.  It kept me focused and less overwhelmed.
  • Open all your windows for even 20 minutes each day so you get some fresh air into the “lungs” of your home.
  • Keep some healthy snacks around and be sure to take breaks!

And finally, realize that de cluttering is an ongoing process – we’re primed culturally to hold on to so much.  And just like we honor our minds and bodies through practices like yoga and meditation, tai chi, gardening, whatever you practice, our larger selves, our homes being a part of that, also need the same sort of “detoxification” the same sort of letting go.

What else happened this weekend?  I went running in the rain on some of my favorite beaches in Tofino, I got to enjoy some delicious and cleansing raw food with the lovely Shani Cranston of Milagro Retreats, walked through the forest and played on the beach on a clear Monday morning with my baby and enjoyed staying in a small wood cabin for three nights, which made me think, wow, I can do with even less. hmmm

I hope you had a lovely weekend and are excited for this week that brings (for those of us in the northern hemisphere), some of the longest days of the year.

Coming up on Yogue this week:
A conversation on yoga and creativity with Alma Romanelli, the talented designer behind one of my favorite new yoga lines To Yoga from Bali.  

And travels to Toronto, I’ll do some studio tours and insights from the road!