An astrologer told me years ago that as a Libra I would want everything neat and beautiful and spiffy looking on the outside, but most likely I stuffed things higgely-piggely in cupboards and drawers. She was right. I’m admitting this for the first time, but she was really, really right.
So now, with the horrendous thought of serious packing ahead hanging over each and every day, and the more dreaded image of prospective buyers actually looking into the mess, heaven forbid, I really have to face the task and get-to-it. My daughter Noelle (also a Libra) and I have always had a running private joke that if one of us wasn’t home, the other one would come over and dig through the other’s underwear drawers! The ultimate degradation. So here’s the plan. I decided to tackle the cleaning up problem in the same way I tackle the garden when I feel overwhelmed by the weeding/mulching/pruning that needs to be done yesterday and I do nothing because it looks way too big and I can’t imagine even making a start. What I do with the outside is – take a deep breath – calm down – make a list – and most importantly, vow to do only one bed each week. How hard can that be? Suddenly this seems manageable. I can do this. And I even seem to drum up some measure of enthusiasm that way. And it always goes way faster than I had imagined. And I often feel so accomplished with my day’s work that I decide to move ahead and do more than planned for that one day. And, guess what, I actually started with my underwear drawer. And I felt so good about that I moved on to socks and sweaters.
The scary, shameful thing is that I had much more in the throw-away bag at the end than I did in the newly neatened drawers. That bag contained much of what my Grandma Marie would call “stove rags”. Stove Rags is a common phrase in our family because of her. Almost as common as “Uff Da” (also because of her). I suppose when clothing got ratty long ago in Varmland, Sweden or Comstock, Minnesota, folks didn’t willy-nilly just throw it away. It was just downgraded into wiping up soot and scrubbing the floors. And trust me, my grandmother was an EXCELLENT cleaner. I don’t think she would have approved of throwing away so many good cleaning cloths. But, even more, she wouldn’t have approved of ratty underwear. But she is certainly looking down approvingly on my cupboards.
So I’m on my way. The drawer in the kitchen that holds our daily vitamin regimen no longer looks like we’re health food store hypochondriacs. I moved the spill-overs, the homeopathic remedies and essential oils and occasionally used supplements into the guest bathroom cabinet. The only problem is that while searching for the Trameel for Robert’s shoulder aches, I discovered that he had done a little cleanup on his own, feeling we still looked like health food store hypochondriacs if a prospective buyer should happen to poke in both cabinets. So I was forced to retrieve the two paper grocery bags HE had stuffed into a clothing hamper in the closet. Next stop – the huge supply cupboard in the office. I’ve saved that til last. And I’m hoping he sticks to his garage which is definitely ONE BIG UFF DA!
And yet, there’s a bigger question here. In other words, if the astrologer was right, and it appeared that she WAS right in regards to the stashing issue, and she was right in her assessment of the way I am very particular about my surroundings, wanting them artistic and beautiful and neat and “just-so”. My brain just doesn’t function in a mess (that I can SEE). And I am one of those compulsive re-arrangers in that I have to constantly re-position in just the “right ratio”, items on a table or shelf. So if I care so much about the outer appearance, and slack off on the inner hidden parts, what does that say about my character? The outer world is just a reflection of the inner – right?
I obviously like to look presentable. I care to a degree about my appearance. But not as much as I did at 21. In fact, I am anything BUT a fashionista. In absolute fact I probably wear stove rags most of the time. Good old comfort clothes. Things I say are “good to keep for gardening and cleaning house and baking (because I throw a lot of flour about)”. My night shirts would probably qualify as stove rags but I don’t throw them out because L.L.Bean doesn’t show them in their catalog anymore and I can’t find any that look just the same. I wear the same over-sized t-shirts every day at home and the “Paris-London-Fargo” and the “I Am A Master Gardener” and the “Snap Out Of It” printing is gradually fading into oblivion. I bite my nails to what I think is about the right length and I don’t worry about it because I don’t use gloves when I garden either. Unless I’m pruning a really knarley rose. And I let Robert cut my hair! So, no, I don’t think my outer appearance is of significant importance to me.
But what about the inner self? Not as possible to define and toss off with an easy, flippant phrase. Have I stashed a lot of junk in there? At this late date have I even started sorting and cleaning? Have I time? Would Grandma Marie approve?
The only thing I’m absolutely certain of is my grandma. So that’s a start. If I were to make a list of good thoughts, deeds and core beliefs that feel embedded in my soul, I might begin with some general feel-good mention of compassion for humanity. Not to mention the birds, and all of God’s creatures. Yes, definitely a start, but also true of pretty much every one I know. I could add a reverence for Mother Earth to the list because I don’t use vile chemicals in the garden, and we recycled before it was fashionable or the law, and I wish, wish, wish for a Prius, or better yet, an all electric car. I have, I must admit, an advantage in this inner life because by some twist of fate I inherited the gene and propensity for extra seratonin – and this by the way of both sides, the Johnsons and the Pedersons. For this I am truly grateful. A HUGE advantage, but not one for which I can take personal spiritual credit. And along the same lines and even more importantly, my mother set the stage and truly lived and defined what it was to be an excellent person. Thank you Harriet. And for Faith. So, that definitely is a start. I’ll have to think long and hard about all the higgely-piggely in there too. But I think I’ll take my own advice and work on one thing at a time. I can do this.