Housekeeping is messy business. Chores constantly appear and reappear as if there is a trickster standing offstage flinging dirt onto the floor moments after it’s been swept. This is frustrating. But, this is life.

My home is my refuge. And as an introvert, it’s where I return to each day and attempt to create homeostasis, that place where I feel most in balance and completely well. Without this balance in my life, I wobble. Literally! (But, I’ll save that story for another day.)

Not too long ago, I rebelled against keeping house. Washing dishes or vacuuming felt ridiculously mundane and bothersome. Anger took hold because I told myself that those household tasks stole me away from what I believed was my greater work: writing, painting, composing, pondering life, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah–you get the idea.

Housekeeping was not something I learned, not something that came natural to me, by osmosis, or by direct instruction. It’s taken me years to figure out that my chores are often enjoyable if I’ll just relax and do them. Thomas Moore, a fifteenth century philosopher, explains this best: “The ordinary arts we practice everyday at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.”

Now, I understand. I try to feel that soulful connection to the dog’s bristly hairs on the sofa, her nose prints on the patio door. Even my husband’s sweaty t-shirts stained with freshly mown grass and the scorched pan of lasagna soaking in the sink–all these are our creations. And that simple fact leads me to know that within each mess lies something sacred, something that says who we are.

And, each day we are reminded of this, of the messiness of living, of creating, of being a part of humanity. What I have learned is that a clean kitchen feels good. An organized closet is easier to manage. A tidy and warm cottage invites me in and homeostasis is once again restored.

I am in de-clutter mode. Every few months I look around my home, the inside, the outside, the places where I spend the most time. I ask a few questions: what appeals to me? what is necessary? what do I love?

The rest? I give away.



Photo by Ryan McGuire,

Breathnach, Sarah Ban. Simple Abundance. Warner Books. New York, NY. 1995.