I hate to admit it but cleaning my room has never failed me
The Muse Letter No. 118
I sometimes wonder about the people who are always tidy. How do they know when things are awry? Because for me; my immediate environment has always been the seismograph of my inner stress level.
In less than two weeks my book is coming out and looking at the state of my room in the last two months you could tell exactly how well I was doing. If I still had the time to do my laundry: I was on top of everything. When the fresh laundry would lie in a pile on my bed, slowly morphing back to its former state: not so much.
For a whole week I stared at my bookcase, completely disheveled, as I was looking up quotes, pretending I was absolutely fine with the mess that I left behind me. It took me two weeks to mop the floor and I only did so because my flatmate offered to do it himself instead. I am classically under functioning when too much is going on and the first thing that goes is: tidiness.
It just has to go. Not because I don’t like it clean. I love it. I absolutely feel better when everything is in order. But my inner state has to mirror my outer state. It’s how I move through it, my process of dealing with problems. So when the time comes and I need to sort things out, I can do this by tidying. Cleaning my room has never failed me.
Early Spring Cleaning
tidying objects and myself into neat shelves
polishing dusted memories
fresh flowers in vases half-opened
ready to burst
I have started mending things: holes in socks, in jeans, straps of dresses sewn back to be worn in the summer, repaired torn coat pockets, broken hall-stands, replaced the cold light bulbs with warmer ones, gave some plants bigger pots to grow into. Tiny improvements, tiny changes.
In a Marie Kondo manner I threw all clothes on my bed, creating a big pile of fabric. A big question mark lying on top: Who is this person? That is mostly not wearing these clothes.
“Does this spark joy?” I ask the obligatory question. I find a five pound note in one my jackets.
I throw away anything that feels uncomfortable: trousers that no longer fit, underwear that I only wear when all the other ones are dirty, underwear where I hate the cut and thus feel annoyed every time I accidentally grab one of them out of my drawer, woolen stuff that has suffered too much because I still don’t know how to properly take care of them and things that I bought in the first to third lockdown namely: a white victorian sleeping gown that makes me look like an anemic child / ghost. (I didn’t throw that one away but will keep it for next Halloween, I see blood, a lot of it.)
I made a list of things that I need to replace, things that I need because they are missing. I found some moth traces on a coat and ordered a bomb (for the moths).
And then I sat in front of the now tidy and organised clothing rail and felt how I grew calmer. And I took a photo of it and send it to my Mum privately and to everyone else on Instagram publicly. To share the joy, the calm happiness.
And maybe you can mend things. Maybe you can glue things back together again and get rid of everything else that is broken beyond repair. Maybe you can try again, get back to that project that you’ve been neglecting out of fear and start editing, start creating.
And feel light.
And feel powerful.
My new book of essays Things I Have Loved is coming out on Valentine’s Day.
Get it here.
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The Muse Salon is the cosy space of the Muse Letter, where I give insights on my creative process, what I read / watch / listen to and where you can ask me anything in the monthly Q/A sessions.
This week I am giving advice on how not to completely hate yourself, when you’re promoting your art. And what to do instead.