This past Sunday afternoon I was home with my husband and three kids. This is pretty typical for a Sunday afternoon.
The difference was that it was Superbowl Sunday featuring our hometown team - the Patriots. The kids were geared up and ready to watch the game by lunch time. And we still had six hours until kickoff.
So, I did what any normal parent would do in that scenario, and I picked up my cleaning supplies and went upstairs. If I am cleaning, they leave me alone so they do not get roped into helping.
I decided it was a day for a big project that could take up a good chunk of that six hour window. I tackled my office.
Now, I would describe myself as a neat and organized person. And I would insist that my office is just a fluke: Papers strewn across my desk, piles of folders on the floor, books on their way in and on their way out, slips of paper with addresses or phone numbers that I may or may not need, various notebooks, clipboards, photos, business cards…
I have spent the past fifteen years loosening up my expectations for order and tidiness. I have been consciously relaxing my anal tendencies for the sake of co-habitating, for the sake of embracing good enough, for the sake of releasing some of those control needs.
For the most part, I think this has been worthwhile work. My kids will create set-ups of legos or army guys, or build a labyrinth for hexbugs or an elaborate castle made out of wooden blocks. I am willing to step around their creative efforts for a few days because this is their space, too.
Looking at my office, however, I could sense that the freedom to let it all hang out had perhaps gone a bit too far. To be fair, my office space is also the sewing, knitting, crafting, ironing and gift-wrapping space. It is also supposed to be the meditating space, but it lost that job a while back.
So, to escape the pre-game restlessness, I tackled my office. I filed and recycled miscellaneous papers, organized files and books, cleaned up Christmas wrapping, dusted, vacuumed and introduced several spiders to the cellar.
Now my desk is clear, with a small stack of papers to sort, a book that I am currently reading, a jar of pens and a pair of extra reading glasses. The floor is clear, and everything is in its place.
I have order here.
The most significant impact is on the inside; the clutter in my mind has also dissipated. I feel mentally focused and clear. I feel present and calm. And I am getting shit done!
I am not sure why this feels unexpected. I talk about this phenomenon with clients; my husband and I comment on our relief and sense of ease having a clean kitchen and living space; I have tackled Marie Kondo’s method for decluttering in years past.
Perhaps the mistake I have been making is this:
I forgot that my office space was living space.
Just like out in the world when we busy ourselves with doing and forget the being part of living.
So, this morning I ask myself, What is the doing of this space?
Writing, talking with clients, crafting, creating, meditating…
And then I ask myself, What is the being that I want to cultivate in this space?
Calm, simple, safe, creative, warm, inviting.
Having a clean and orderly office space is the first step in creating a calm, simple, safe, creative, warm, inviting space. The second step - remembering to breath in this space.
Obviously, I am breathing as I sit here. But I can up the ante a little. I can be conscious about my breathing, slow myself down and be present to notice the warm and inviting atmosphere, the simple decor and the creative music playing in the background.
I can breathe in the sense of calm and safety that the room now holds. I can breathe in the invitation to create, the invitation to reach out, or even the invitation to simply be here.
What are you noticing about the space you are currently in? How does it mirror your internal space? What is a quality of being you want to call forth for this space - both internal and external?