Friday, March 13, 2009

Modern Benefits from a Vintage Chore

Since I left my 9-5 career a little over a year ago to pursue more creative and domestic pursuits, I have been struck again and again by a few reoccurring themes.  One of them is mindfulness.  You know--the practice (and I do say "practice" because it is definitely a process for me) of thinking more deeply about my relationship with my resources.  Practically speaking, of course, mindfulness is the art of shutting my wallet when the impulse to consume consumes me.

So it has not been too surprising for me to encounter lessons in mindfulness--poking into the room and out from under the sofa--while spring cleaning this month.  I've already alluded to this in recent posts--about how seeing all my Stuff has forced me to take a pause and contemplate how much a person (me) really needs.  And so I won't rehash what is simple to say, which is that cleaning and decluttering has tempered my desire to rush out to the stores and buy stuff, effectively refilling the spaces I labored so diligently to clear.

There is another quality of mindfulness, however, apart from this consumer conviction, which is a heightened appreciation for the things I have and renewed creativity.  This is the other side of the mindful coin.  While hearing daily reports of resource struggles (foreclosures and shrinking retirement accounts, etc. etc.), it has been an unexpected silver lining to find a bit of thankfulness for what I do have.  Because I have a lot!  If mindfulness is thinking more deeply about my relationship with resources, than I think that I am blessed.  And appreciation--more than conviction--will reform my habits in the stores and the attitude in my heart.

Furthermore, resources have a way of reminding me to be more resourceful.  And my definition of resourceful is the art of seeing new possibilities in old things.  The pleasure of taking a square of  old fabric and printing some Orla-Kelly-inspired motifs on them and then sewing them into tea towels is Far more enjoyable than buying her towels at Target for $5.99 (sorry, Orla).  It is practicing mindfulness at its best!

So, upon those reflections, I have basically finished with the "cleaning" part of my spring cleaning this year.  I have a few odds and ends to do, but the bulk of the work is over.  And as I prepare to tackle a few remaining projects (getting my financial records in order and stored for 2009, reviewing my budget, uncluttering my hard drive, etc.), I have to say that I have been very pleased with the process.  Not only do I have a cleaner house, but I have a renewed appreciation in our sophisticated world for the benefits of simple, old-fashioned tasks.  Tasks that, in review, save me money, improve my wellness, and transform my attitude.

So if you haven't taken up your mop and broom yet, I encourage you to do it!  Nevermind the traditionalism of it--give simple cleaning therapy a try.  I think you'll find a lot of modern benefits in this vintage chore.

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