Photo compliments of my husband
Day Twelve of the Great Release Challenge! 30 Days to an Awesome New You!
by Silver RavenWolf
Please Note: We apologize for today’s delay. The weather knocked our router out.
Your Mission Today: Clean out the kitchen cabinets — old food cans passed expiration — toss. That errant can of the stuff you never eat? Give it away if it is still good, and if there are no takers, toss it. Cookware. Yes, I know, it is super expensive. I just picked up a new fry pan — argh! The prices on cookware…oh please…most of it only lasts a year or two if you do a lot of cooking. I shuddered as I paid. You may also be like me and have a few duplicates. For example, I have three crock pots. Yeah. The big one is for when I’m cooking for everyone. The medium-sized one was for the immediate family with the idea of leftovers, and the small one was for that tiny window of time when it was just my husband and I for dinner. Okay, so that one got used…three times? I took these out last summer, washed them thoroughly, and then wrapped them in plastic to keep that kitchen grime from settling back on them. Because they are in such good shape, I can give two of these away. It appears I am relegated, for now, to sticking with the big one. However, some of that is by choice. I enjoy having my children and their spouses over for dinner. It makes me feel useful, and I encourage them to share a meal and some of their busy time.
Half-empty, stale cereal boxes, the condiments you bought for one recipe and now languish, unnoticed and unattended…the half used bag of rice that’s been sitting there since 1989. You know. That stuff. Things seem to propagate in the kitchen. Not sure why. Where your socks may seek a divorce from each other, items in your kitchen appear to believe in the old adage — the more the merrier. Three sets of measuring cups, four sets of measuring spoons, fifteen soup bowls (that don’t match). I have a cross-cultural melting pot right in my own kitchen. If you are really into it, wash out the cupboards, too!
If you have a large kitchen and your eyes are popping out of your head right now? Remember the rule: Do what you can, a little bit at a time. Just make a small dent if that’s all you can stomach. Tomorrow is another day, and you will work through it, a bit at a time.
My Magickal Release Diary: I read the individual’s post on how her family is not helping her and I debated for the last two days on how to respond to it. I can thoroughly sympathize with her. I talked to my daughter-in-law about it because I wasn’t sure if I shared a few things with you about how this Release Challenge actually started, that it would be…um…advice appropriate? I’m not a therapist or a counselor. I was just a woman who felt overwhelmed, and decided to do something about it. So, before you hear about what I did, I preface this with — you may not want to do it that way. Your life is your choice. And don’t forget it.
How The Program You Are Doing Today — Started
Several years ago I realized that my head was not in a good place. Empty-nest-syndrome, some of my children in the military and overseas in the thick of the conflict, menopause (yikes), the crappy economy (yes, in my bones I knew this mess was coming) had all taken their chunks out of my hide. My father was already into his stroll down dementia lane; but, I didn’t realize it at the time. I thought he was nuts, cranky, mean, grumpy, and hated him for how his behavior was affecting my family. There were a lot of things I just didn’t realize…then. Like the fact that I’d been dealing with an OCD personality (his) since the day I was born. There’s a lot more to it, which I’m sure dovetails with what many of you have experienced. My youngest child in the years prior, had given me a real run for my money as a parent…yada…flap hand. I felt all used up. Dried out. Desiccated. Not even the things I adored — writing, art and magick — held much interest.
My biggest wish at the time was escape. My most common behavior. Avoid.
That’s gets rather lonely after awhile.
One fine morning I realized that this type of behavior really wasn’t working for me. I looked around this old house and thought, if I am ever going to get out of this place, I’ve got to get rid of stuff. Too much stuff binds you. It weighs you down. It holds dirt and grime. It is a burden. It clutters your mind and crushes your soul. Someday, the opportunity will come for a really nice house, a place where people can come to learn and enjoy the company — a place where spirituality and love will enfold you as soon as you walk in the door — and I won’t be able to take it because I’ve nailed my feet to the floor with all this damned junk.
And so it began. At first, I concentrated on all my stuff. I had become a hoarder without even realizing it. I would go through a box and keep half of it, jam the rest back in the box, and move onto the next. That first season I carted out over 50 bags of trash.
Winter turned to spring and I began my first real garden. Yes, I who killed every living plant I touched for forty-odd years, hiked my carcass out there and dug, pulled, grunted, sweated, and planted.
And you know what?
Darned if that garden didn’t grow!
About six months later I went through all my stuff, again, and threw out another 25 bags more. By now, you could actually walk through my dining room without tripping over junk. And let me tell you, it was a fight to keep it that way (which I’ll explain a little further on). Anyway, a friend of mine chided me when he found out how much stuff I’d thrown away. “You should have called me,” he said. “I would have loved to have some of that stuff.”
Who would want my old stuff? I thought; but, I nodded and promised that the next time I went through my things, I would let friends know. If they wanted the stuff, they could come and get it. I did just that with the rider that they had to come and get it within a given timeframe. If they didn’t show up to collect, out it would go. As the seasons marched by, I carted out more of my stuff — from the attic, from the basement, from the storage room. I held several give-away nights, and this past fall season I gave away all the herbs I raised in the garden — all of them except one bundle of white sage.
As I carted, threw, and gave away, my inner self changed for the better. I lost weight (a good thing), I learned to accept help from others (okay, that was a really hard one), I concentrated on my behavior to my family and toward others. The changes within myself didn’t happen overnight. My interest in art, magick, and writing returned…slowly…but, it did come back. I taught myself to knit and crochet and when I was really stressed, I would spend hours upon hours with needle and hook, mindlessly creating and working toward a better me.
During these years I began doing daily, morning cleansing rituals. The Braucherie Morning Prayer you are practicing is this year’s choice. In the past, I’ve done others, and changed them as I changed and became more self-empowered. I began to teach myself to release the negativity within myself and within my environment. Monthly, around the new or full moon, whichever felt right, I would do a complete house cleansing. As the seasons rolled one into the other, things got better, I felt more at ease with my new, aging self. One reader remarked on banishing those piles of junk — yup, I did that one, too.
Good material came out of my experiences. During that time I wrote MindLight and HedgeWitch –two books that truly concentrate on the power within you, and how to tap into that quantum magnificence that is, and always has been, available to you. As I taught myself new ways to deal with day-to-day issues, the melding of mind, science and magick became part of my living experience. Ritual and magick wasn’t something just for High Holy Days or Circle Night, or a lucky bag to pull out when a crises arose — it became a way of living. And as I zapped the day fantastic, so my life, and how I felt about myself, changed in a positive way.
Concentrating on my stuff was all well and good — and an excellent beginning — but, then I ran into two problems. Everyone else’s junk that hadn’t moved and their behavior and habits destroying what I’d worked so hard to attain. It wasn’t a matter of respect with me, no…for me it was…you’ve watched me work so hard to clean this up and you made a mess and left it, anyway. This meant, to me, that my family didn’t love me. That they didn’t recognize my efforts to make their space a physical and spiritually healthy place to live. That I carried no real importance in their lives.
This alone almost led me to defeat.
I knew on the surface that this type of thinking was ridiculous. Of course my children loved me! But, as day after day slogged by with continued spit on the bathroom mirror, dried iced tea blobs on the dining room floor, and errant junk thrown hither and neigh as soon as they walked in the door…let me tell ya…
getting into the car and driving to a destination unknown and staying there was definitely on the edge of my mind on more than one occasion. As soon as I would clean something out…someone came along and pigged it up. Whether it was clearing the dining room, cleaning the bathroom, or emptying the refrigerator, within minutes (and I am not joking) it would be a mess again.
Socks here, tools there, magazines, books, sunglasses, food splashed on the wall, whatever. I was so frustrated that I just wanted to sit in the center of the room, any room that maybe had a patch of space, and cry.
Except, instead, I got mad.
At first, I nagged a lot. I yelled. I admonished. I tried every psycho-trap I could think of, including bribes (which worked on occasion — still do). Unfortunately, this disrupted the environment quite a lot, and drove me to the point of pure battle-Goddess-mentality.
That’s right. I invoked the Morrighan.
And, what truly did it (and, mind you, I simply cannot recommend it) was the following Morrighan-esque threat: “If you don’t pick that up, it is going in the trash.” Except, it wasn’t a threat. And not only did it go in the trash, it went totally off the property that day.
Oh yes it did!
I would ask them to pick something up. If it wasn’t gone in two hours, out the door it went. And, no, I didn’t replace it, either.
What I found amazing is that in most cases they didn’t miss their shit. Months would go by, and then someone would say, “I can’t find…whatever.” I would shrug employ my famous cocked eyebrow, and say firmly: “I cleaned!” with a strong edge of finality in my voice. And then, if I got an argument, I would say: “Don’t whine. It was your choice. If you are angry, be angry at yourself.”
And if I got a super argument, I would say: “I’m not and never will be your maid. Get over it. You have two hands and a brain, use them!”
um, like I said? I’m not a therapist and I don’t recommend my own behavior.
Anyway, if the item was very valuable, I would put it away where they couldn’t find it, which meant they had to ask me for it, which earned them a lecture on leaving their junk lying around, with my added, “You’re lucky I didn’t throw it out,” because they knew darned well if I was really mad enough, it really would have been gone. They were lucky!
Like Pavlov’s dog — it took about two months to really sink in. Then, I heard this (and have heard it ever since): I can’t find my hat (or whatever). You didn’t throw it out, did you?
This doesn’t mean that my house became pristine. Every spring various members of the family still drag crap out onto my porch, and every spring I spend a few days and about fifty bucks on trash bags to get rid of it. On occasion I’ve really had to dig my heels in with my children who have left the house; but, didn’t take their junk with them…OR…tried to bring it back. No, no-no-no-no-no-no-no-no-no! No rest for the weary.
For the piggy who slobbed up the floors, the mirror and such — I stood there, handed them the cleaner and paper towels, and declared it would be done, and it would be done now. And, if it wasn’t done, I would clean it up and dump it on their bed, where they could darned well sleep in it.
And they did.
Sleep in it.
One night of that was all it took.
I’m sure there was a better way to do it — one that was more politically correct, or psychologically sound — but, after years of wading through junk, it was either it went — or I did. Unlike Custer’s last stand — I won. Okay, so, realistically, I’m somewhat ahead. We still have mini battles; but, they take on more amusing twists rather than downright war. The house isn’t perfect. It never will be. I can’t keep the dining room floor clean of dirt to save my soul, even though I sweep and wash it almost every day. It is the most used room of the house, and it is going to get dirty, and that’s all there is to it. My husband and I are still doing the push-me/pull-me thing with the living room (that’s his area). Eventually, step-by-baby-step, it will be renovated, even if I have to rip out one bloody wall at a time. Which, actually, I’ve just done.
Throughout my entire saga of learning to release, I taught myself to maintain what I’d already done. For example, the bathroom? I now keep a large container of Clorox Wipes in there, and, at least once a day when I’m in there for whatever, I wipe down the bathroom. Takes five minutes tops, usually only one or two. When it comes time to really clean it, it isn’t so bad. I’ve made it such a habit that my husband does it, too. Every single day I take the trash in the bathroom out of the house. Now, it is a matter of common routine and not viewed as a chore. Same thing in the kitchen, although this is a little harder. I do my best, before I go to bed, to make sure the sink is empty, the counters are washed down, and the trash is out. This is a mini-battle area because the world doesn’t turn in for the night when I do. Ergo, I may get up in the morning and find crap everywhere. Like I said — it ain’t perfect. Too, there are nights I’m just so exhausted I leave it; however, I make sure to finish it in the morning.
This also doesn’t mean we don’t make fun messes. When my granddaughter comes over the house turns inside out. We play, we do art, we drag dirt in from the garden. I’m not all over her about making messes. Heck, we roll potatoes across the floor into tin cans and play drums with the pots and pans. We do our thing, and then we clean up. Sometimes the clean up part doesn’t come until Mommy comes to pick us up, and then Mommy helps to pick up. Wonderfully, after she is gone, Grandpa (my husband) always helps to put things back in order.
At this point, here today, I’m not done. I still have half the attic and the basement to complete. There’s also my oldest son’s room, that I didn’t touch for many years (he’s happily married now living in their own place). I avoided that room for two reasons — it was painful to know he was gone for good (he was the third child to leave, and so it seemed to hit harder) and because he was overseas, I wanted him to know that his space at home was always there for him. An anchor, if you will. I wanted home to mean to him that he was still very much loved and very much missed. And so, the room sat empty for a very long, long time. When he married and returned to the states, I began to slowly clear that room. It isn’t done. But, almost.
Your junk and your emotions are very much tied together, aren’t they?
My personal Release Challenge had an added benefit, though it took me awhile to adjust to it — my shopping habits changed. The plummeting economy had much to do with this, too, so I can’t claim it all happened because of my release work; however, the release work helped me to adjust to the lousy economy a little easier than I would have. I found myself purchasing only those items that I thought would last, or had a definite purpose, or would in some way help to facilitate my goals. Yes, I still did the occasional splurge; but, just buying to stuff that I didn’t need to make myself feel better stopped.
Of course there’s more to my release story (there always is) but, I’ve bored you enough and we have to get moving on your challenge! Suffice it to say that my release activities were so successful for me, that I decided to share a mini-challenge program with readers last year. I chose the holiday season because it is normally such a stressful time, and if you are tripping over junk and wading through grime, it just seems all that much worse. Too, focusing on releasing, clearing, and cleaning keeps that monkey mind from expanding small issues in your life to ones that might otherwise drown you during the holiday season. By releasing junk and setting goals, even for a short time (like 30 days) we can embrace the benefits that the new year has to bring. There’s only so much space in your life — how you fill that space is truly your choice. The more space you have — the more cool stuff you can fill it with!
I realize that as we slide into the midpoint of your Release Challenge that you may be hitting some emotional roadblocks. That’s okay. It is expected. You will get through them. How do I know that?
Because I did.
And, you will, too.