After a couple of warm days that seemed to promise that spring was just around the corner, we are back to enduring frigid temps here in the Twin Cities. Sweet. Not. In an attempt to keep busy inside the house for yet another weekend, I decided it was finally time to do some spring cleaning. Perhaps this will encourage warmer days to arrive sooner, right?
Spring cleaning has always been therapeutic for me, both physically and emotionally. Once I start a major project like cleaning out closets and dresser drawers I can’t stop. I have energy. I have motivation. I have a goal. And this makes my mind and body feel good again. As winter progresses, I find it more difficult to focus on working on small projects around the house and my personal goals. And this makes my mind and body feel weary. You know that desk I started painting in September? Yeah, I haven’t touched it since November. You know that children’s book I planned on writing in January? Yeah, I have one rough, rough draft of a first page, which is one sentence long. I’m worthless by the time March rolls around. But I am ready for spring. I am ready to embrace a new season. I am ready to plant new seeds. I am ready to grow.
I like to start my spring cleaning by going through all of my family’s clothes. I take note of what the kids will need for spring and summer after outgrowing their clothes from last year. I trash items of clothing that my husband has had since college. And I bag up other articles of clothing that we no longer wear to bring to consignment shops or to donate. This time around, I actually stuck to my plan and got rid of everything that we no longer needed to hold on to. Well, almost everything.
Getting rid of tangible objects frees up more space in my house, and it also frees up my mind in some strange way. The act of removing clutter somehow helps to restore balance in my mind. Those jeans that no longer fit after having two babies? Get rid of them! Embrace the extra junk in your trunk. That cute dress that your daughter has outgrown? Give it to someone else who could use it! That t-shirt with holes and stains on the pits? Gross, you should have thrown that away two years ago! That newborn outfit your new daughter wore during the first car ride home from the hospital? Now wait a minute…
I was able to let go of almost everything.
Yes, spring cleaning allows you to let go of many things you no longer need. Spring cleaning allows you to free your house and mind of clutter. Spring cleaning brings you back to some powerful moments that changed your life forever. And spring cleaning helps you create more space for what is most important in your life. Over the years, some things become treasures that are worth holding on to.
After shedding some tears from thinking about how small my babies used to be and what it felt like to hold them when they were just 7 pounds, I moved on to cleaning my drawers that hold random items like old cellphones, receipts and broken baby monitors. I came across a ring my great-grandmother had given me a year or two before she had passed away. I stopped cleaning for a few minutes to admire its beauty. I thought about my great-grandma. I think I was 13 or maybe 14 when she passed away. I thought about what I didn’t know about her. I thought about what I would ask her now if I could. What was it like moving from Mexico to the United States? What was her marriage like? How did she raise her children? What were the hardest moments she had to endure? What were the happiest moments of her life? What were her parents and siblings like? After staring at the ring for a few minutes, I realized I barely knew anything about the woman who had given me this ring. I do remember that she was independent and stubborn. I do remember that she knew how to joke around. I do know that she worked in the sugar beet fields when she came to this country. I do know that she survived the 1997 Red River Flood and refused to move after the devastating event.
My great-grandmother, Soledad, had spunk. As I admired the ring she had given me, I replayed my favorite memory of her. She didn’t live in the Twin Cities, but when she would come to visit, my mom would plan special outings for us girls. My great-grandmother would sit in the middle of the backseat of my mom’s car between me and my sister, and she would always place one hand on my sister’s knee and one hand on mine saying, “Hold on to your chonies!” as my mother started the car (chonies is slang for underwear in Spanish). Yes, she had a lot of spunk, which leads me to believe that she lived an interesting and adventurous life–a life I’d like to know more about.
Although I wasn’t old enough or mature enough when my great-grandmother was alive to ask her the questions that have been burning in my mind these past few days, I do realize that I still have a chance to ask these questions of other important women who are in my life right now. There are still so many things I do not know about these women who have raised me, cared for me, and who have helped me raise my own children. Why haven’t I taken more time to sit down and chat with these women over a cup of coffee? Why have I been too timid to ask some of these questions? I didn’t know my great-grandmother Soledad as well as I would have liked to have known her, but I am fortunate because there are other important women in my life to learn more about. I want to know their stories better. I want to know what they treasure most. I want to know what remains a mystery for them. These women are beautiful. These women are strong. These women are my family. I treasure these women, and I need these women because they have helped to keep our family together; they have created a wondrous treasure.
Oh, spring cleaning. It is a wonderful thing to do when you need to let go of the clutter and make more room for what is truly necessary and important in your life.
Tell me, what do you treasure?