Clean House, Messy Heart

Today, I am going to get personal. I often talk about things “out there,” or I am ambiguous on purpose because what I’m writing about can have more than one meaning. I usually want the reader to find the one that resonates with them. So I’m going to do something in this post that I don’t frequently do — get personal.

The hubs and I have one of our best friends coming to visit for a quick overnight stay. We haven’t seen her in two years, where we normally would see her and her family three to four times a year. She and her husband moved out of the state a couple years ago and, thanks to COVID-19, we haven’t had the chance to see them or their kids. She’s “home” for a spell and is making the two hour+ drive to see us. Because of this, there has been an amount of “getting ready” happening in our home.

Something about tidying up and rushing around the house reminds me of my father. He was a tyrant. He was fastidious, to say the kindest and the least, about everything, and definitely about the inside as well as the outside of the home. The majority of my chores were outside for some reason (no clue why). It’s probably no shock that I’m way better at taking care of the outside of the house than I am the inside. But there’s more to it than that. I actually get sort of frozen-in-place when a project inside is a giant one, or when someone decides they want to rush me around. Nothing was ever good enough for him, and he never cared how hard you tried.

So, back to our friend that’s coming over. I got up this morning with a migraine and tallied up the things that I felt needed to be done before her arrival this evening. There weren’t many, and even those were pretty simple things. I had already washed sheets, dusted and cleaned the bedroom, and made the bed. I dusted the living and dining rooms a couple days ago. But there are dog nose-prints on the front window and mulberries squished on the floor from dogs that run around the backyard and then track them inside. The mulberries are a several-times-a-day project until the tree stops dropping them. Well, shoot, my vitamins are out on the counter in the kitchen and the kitchen rugs could use another wash. Some of the placemats on the dining table don’t match. Recyclable trash needs to be emptied, and there’s a stack of mail on the dining room table. My desk – well my desk has always had a life of its own! Laundry is in the dryer, so that means it probably won’t get folded and put away before she gets here. I sort of sat there with my cup of coffee in a trance, frozen-ish, headachy.

By the time I finished my cup of coffee and cottage cheese with blueberries, I was over it — not over our friend’s visit, but over being overly-concerned about what there was to do. First of all, we love her and she loves us, and I know for a fact that she is not going to come into my home and begin examining everything, and I already know she has no expectation of walking into a showroom model home. Secondly, I’m not going to have friends who are that judgy anyway. (If you are, I might just hand you some spray and paper towels and invite you to clean the dog nose-marks yourself.)

I realize that my first reaction this morning was really coming from someone/somewhere else, and not from me. I just happened to let it in. It was coming from people who have been in my life who really need to do as much heart work as they do in other areas of their lives. My heart is full of love for our friend, and I know it’s returned. My home is clean, comfortable, and welcoming. Save my desk and a set of shelves in my bedroom, my home is orderly. You can open my cupboards and look under the rugs and furniture.

I know some people who insist on a spotless home who are actually not great at being good humans, or whose lives are in complete disarray. (That’s not to say that everyone who has a spotless home IS a terrible human, so don’t email me.) But it occurred to me today that we can work so hard at looking good, appearing competent, acting organized, etc., but forget or refuse to give as much attention to becoming the person our exteriors claim we are. We may have a clean home, pressed clothes, a nice physique… but a messy heart. Take for example the person whose home looks clean and tidy when you walk in, but you better not open a drawer or a cupboard because the mess was never really cleaned, it was just stuffed away out of sight. A funny thing about that process is that even we forget sometimes that the stuff is in there or forget where we even put something!

Things become lost – like souls.

I’m not at all saying that someone cannot master both home and heart. What I am saying is this: Be kind and loving to your people, especially if you’re raising children. Our children grow up to be other versions of us, or worse, versions of the mess we stuff away in cupboards or sweep under the rug, and you never know how that’s going to come out. For me, it comes out as anxiety, a kind of frozen, soft-serve mess. For others it might come out like a spotless home, but a frozen heart, and for still others it might look like abuse. We raise these little people sometimes without remembering that other people have to deal with them after they leave our care or we leave this world. If you’re going to leave a mess behind, let it be the dog nose-print on the window kind, or the home overflowing with fun kind — not a person, or not the mean-spirited, heartless, not enough, or anxiety-in-skin kind that hides away or projects onto others. Your spotless home might be something to be proud of, but don’t make it meaningless in the grand scheme of it all, or a miserable place to be for those with whom you share it.

Appearances are just that – something to see; but a kind and giving heart is something to behold and cherish.

In the Heart Lives Justice

You can enslave a body.
You can even trick a mind into believing it’s so.
But you’ll never enslave a heart that knows its right to be free.

You can cage a body.
You can manipulate the mind to believe it’s locked.
But you’ll never smother a heart from being free.

You can cast a body into darkness.
You can convince the mind that it’s in an abyss.
But you’ll never consume the light from the heart.

You can refuse to see the effects of bondage.
You can let your mind choose deafness.
But you’ll never silence a heart that longs for justice.

You can turn away from the past.
You can silence your mind to the facts.
But the heart that has been chained will not let you rest.

You can busy the body endlessly.
You can overwhelm the mind with details.
But you can’t silence a heart that grows toward the sunlight.

You can use a body as a barrier.
You can chain a mind to the fools.
But another’s heart you cannot own.

You can kill the body.
You can kill the mind.
But the heart’s beat will be heard beyond its life.

You can take a body.
You can take over a mind.
But the heart chooses why it beats.

You can jail a body.
You can incarcerate a mind.
The heart roams where it wants.

You can beat a body.
You can gaslight a mind.
But the heart is made of freedom.

You can chain a body.
You can warp the mind.
You can’t fool the heart.

You can blind the body.
You can persuade the mind it’s captive.
But the heart will always know it beats for the whole.

You can keep a body in poverty.
You can train a mind to believe it’s stuck.
The heart will always know it belongs to the universe.

You can separate a body from its birthright.
You can teach a mind to hate.
But the heart yearns to be free from that bondage.

You can engulf the body in hegemony.
You can train the mind to ignore bias.
The heart absorbs the toxins.

You can dress a body like it’s free.
You can teach a mind to live in the masses.
But the heart will continue to cry out: No justice, no peace.

Debora Lynn Garcia


Gut • Heart • Head

Waging peace is how I learned from her.

I wrote this on January 12, 2013, after finding out about a dear friend transitioning (passing):  

An earth angel has left us behind to take her place in Heaven.  As is her usual way, she made one last check of things and flew off with her delicate little wings out the window to begin her new journey.

Feeling blessed and thankful today to have known and been touched by such a wonderful spirit.  I’ve tried to find them, but words do not exist to explain the kindness, gentleness, patience, and example of unconditional love she so quietly exhibited to all who paid attention.  She was living proof that strength and wisdom can come in the gentlest, quietest way.  I celebrate her life – quietly.

My heart goes out to the George family, and a little piece of it with “Mom.”  Prayers of condolence, healing, and the grace of light and peace….    

All I can say is, you had to have known her to fully “get” this.  I hadn’t seen her in about 10 years, and refused to say goodbye to her the last time I had a chance.  I wasn’t mad at her.  I adored her.  Circumstances at the time felt like I may not see her again, and I was too brokenhearted to face her.  Odd thing is, I know she never harbored judgement about it. I know this because I knew her.  Damn… I wish you would have known her.

Challenge!

Allow me to digress for a moment to catch you up:  My new game on this planet is “wage peace.”  Our pastor gave a fabulous Sunday lesson several months ago about focusing on war, fighting, and struggle.  It was about what we focus on will persist.  For some reason this really resonated with me that Sunday, and continues to whisper in my ear.  So I am on a mission to wage peace.  How this looks for me is that when something that comes up that feels hard, uncomfortable, a struggle, or defying reasonable explanation, I seek to find the lesson in it rather than resisting it or being angry.

With that explained, my friend transitioning was a perfect opportunity to go inward and see what I learned from her.  It was easy to figure out, though I was surprised at what a big deal it was.  Here’s what I learned:

I was lost in thought today about my friend that made her transition, and considering what I learned from knowing her, and recognizing what I wish I had learned sooner.

I like to garden – play in the dirt.  I was thinking today about self-propagating plants.  Those are the kind from which you can pull a piece off and start a completely new plant, i.e., jade plant, coleus, cactus, etc.

Here is what I learned.  Our hearts are like those plants.  When we give a piece away, it lives on; and who knows how many times that piece might be parted out again.  It is so worth it and keeps you alive.  Sometimes it might get broken, but it still lives on even outside of you because you shared it.

If you lock it up and never give it away, it withers and may shrink away or forget what it is like to be shared.  It cannot thrive that way.  So give pieces away freely and often.

Freely give pieces of your heart away.  The return is great.  Plant pieces of it wherever you go — even if you do not get to see what comes of it.  When you pluck a piece from your heart, new stems grow and your capacity becomes greater and more opportunities to give it away appear.  Much like a plant NEEDS to be trimmed and plucked for its vitality and further growth, so it goes with our hearts.

Giving your heart away is not the same as giving up your heart.  It is also not the same as “giving it up” or “putting out.”  You must love yourself FIRST so your heart can take root and grow strong to weather the storms that WILL come.  When you love yourself first, you can give pieces away and be stronger for having done so.  If not, you may give your heart up to someone or something – abandoning it, neglecting it, forsaking it.  It will uproot easily like that plant that has not been cared for properly.  Its roots are shallow and poor.  So love yourself first and grow a strong foundation and deep roots.

So plant away!  Peace out….