By Susan Gallacher-Turner
“Cleansing,” was the word I heard when I leaned against the big cedar tree the other day. It wasn’t a surprise, because I’ve been cleaning out closets, drawers, cabinets and shelves for the last month. What was surprising was the tone; it had finality to it. A sense of closure. It felt reassuring, like when you’re packing your bags from a long trip for the journey home.
Home. I love my home. But the changes and events of the last 3 years have shaken my sense of home right down to the foundation. Why is it when you’re worried about having a home at all that you take the least care of it? Maybe, when you’re afraid of losing something you love as much as your home, you create distance with clutter and disorganization. Or maybe the fear of not having enough led me to hang onto everything around me like a little kid hangs onto the monkey bars with white knuckles or stashes Halloween candy under the bed.
It’s a new year, now. Life has changed again, this time for the better. Job gains have replaced job losses. We are adjusting to a new routine, a new normal.
One afternoon, I went looking for a crochet hook and next thing I knew I’d cleaned two shelves and rearranged the others. Lately, I’ve found myself cleaning out drawers and cabinets all around the house. I didn’t make a list. Or set it up as a task. It just started happening.
Another day, I opened up the pantry and the next thing I knew I was sorting, re-filing and throwing away recipes. Then, it was my studio shelves, desk and easel. I threw out old work and put out new work. Next, it was the master bathroom, utility room, main bath, kitchen drawers and cupboards and hall closet. In every place and space, there were things to be thrown out, cleaned up, repaired, rearranged and donated.
Questions ran through my mind like a non-stop bullet train: Was I avoiding the studio? Was I afraid of email? Was I running away from writing? Was I covering feelings of self doubt with dusting and scrubbing? Was I becoming my mother?
My train of thoughts sped on while my hands were busy scrubbing, tossing, repairing and discovering. As I worried whether I was lost, I found things I’d forgotten I had.
Boxes and boxes that held jewelry gifts, now empty. A container full of silk paint and tools. A book on writing and publishing, something I’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t done, yet. Old art books. Old car stereo cassette plug-in that my son wanted and I thought was long gone. Grandmother Gallacher’s shortbread recipe. Photos of my 8 year old cat, Terra, as a kitten. Five oil paintings that I’d done years ago and forgotten, literally, came out of the closet and tears came out of my eyes when I saw them again.
Answers were found as well: I am creating freshly washed, open space for new creative ideas. I am re-arranging my life, my priorities, and my thinking. I am finding a new way to enjoy my home, my home life, art, and writing.
Cleansing. Yes. I am cleansing my fear, pain and sadness. I am hearing deep thoughts and feelings that I thought were lost and finding my way back, not only to myself, but to my heart and soul as well. Like a blank canvas, fresh with white gesso, I am beginning again, at home, and moving outward to find my true joy.
If you'd like see my artwork work, please visit my Sculpture website and you can read more about my creative life on my blog Sculpting a Life.