There is a growing acknowledgment of the heavy load the boomer generation is carrying. Many of us — even Rabbi Address, the leader of this site — are juggling work, caregiving, and navigating the increasingly complicated healthcare system for ourselves and our loved ones. With all that energy going out- how do we recharge? One way is to come home to a house that invites us in and replenishes our energy.
Our homes are our respite from the outside world. Over life’s stages, our homes play different roles for us. As the roles transition, sometimes we are faced with conscious changes; for example if we move. But sometimes the changes are organic; for example, slowly taking over a grown child’s bedroom for a closet or office. In either case, it is helpful to occasionally step back and objectively ask ourselves if our home is providing us a safe, comfortable place to recharge.
The more you are expending energy out, the more important it will be for you to replenish. So, if the idea of cleaning, straightening, and organizing your home seems daunting, ask yourself if there is another path that you can take at this time that will refuel you. The main take away is to remind you to take care of yourself as you are taking care of others.
What are some ways we can create a soothing home environment?
- Evolve chores into rituals
- Fix glaring repairs
- Straighten and organize
From Chores to Rituals
Once you start to think of your home as sacred space, then tending to your home may feel more like rituals than chores. For some, preparing for the Shabbath or for Pesach provides a prescribed time to clean and ready the house for rest and contemplation. But for many of us, the tradition has become disconnected from the task. We go through the motions (or not), but we are not always conscious that we are tending to and creating sacred space.
When you tend to your plants, garden, or yard work, you could be reminded of the presence of nature in your home. Dusting your pictures or art work can be considered cleaning, or it can remind you of the beauty of the art on your walls or shelves. As we prepare meals and set the table, we can take a moment to appreciate the abundance and can offer an intention that the meal will be nourishing and that everything we eat may become health and harmony within. When we honor our space, we provide ourselves an opportunity to be refueled.
Setting intentions may help; when we set intentions, we bring consciousness to the task at hand. Before beginning your cleaning rituals, you could take a few seconds to set an intention, such as
- I am creating healthy flow of energy in my home
- I am preparing my environment to be a respite
- I am preparing our home to be enjoyed by family and/or friends.
Fix glaring repairs
If every time you walk by a particular spot in your house you say to yourself, “I have to fix that”. Then do. Slow leaks, small holes, broken stairs… in many cases it will require a weekend with you and the supplies from your local hardware store. Or take a few hours to do research, ask friends, and find a local repair person and make an appointment. The sense of relief you can achieve from addressing these glaring repair needs may surprise you. And as we start to think of our homes as sacred space, it can provide a sense of peace and relaxation to know that our space is in good order.
Straightening and organizing
Some will approach this recommendation with zeal, and others may have a negative physical reaction just thinking about it. If you do have any physical reaction to thinking about straightening and organizing, know you are not alone. If you have accumulated piles over the years, allow yourself some time and kindness as you approach this task. But also, ask yourself why there is such an emotional charge; what might you be holding on to? By exploring and addressing your subconscious reaction, you are on your way to creating a sacred space.
It is helpful to begin by assessing the room. Approximate how much time you will need to complete the room. Time per room should generally range from 1 day to 2 weeks. Then it is time to begin straightening and clearing. One approach is to look through everything in the room including the corners, all the papers, drawers, and the closets. Categorize each item into groups. For example: things that you would like to keep in the house, things that you would like to box and store, items to give away, and items to throw away. If you decide to keep something, it is best to identify a location in the house you would like to keep it. If you know you don’t have a place for the item, but you do not want to part with it, a storage box is a nice compromise. The important thing about using the storage box method is to label the boxes clearly. Once the storage boxes are filled and neatly labeled, they can be stored in an attic, basement, garage, or rental storage unit.
As each room is complete, take time to soak it in and enjoy the peace it brings. The flow of energy in the room and the relaxed way you can find and access everything in the room may create a space for unwinding and recharging.