from the inside out

I spent a good number of hours yesterday sorting and organizing things in a utility room in my basement. I would call the room a closet but it feels as though half of the lower level is made up of this room that houses the furnace and other important make-the-place-function things. I would be far underselling my efforts if I just called it a ‘closet.’ 

Anyway, it’s big. And it needed attention. I tend to keep, well, everything. For example, I came across this super old collage frame from high school. No, friends from high school, I will not post the photos. You’re welcome. I have to be honest and report that I did keep the photos but since the frame was half-broken, I tossed it in an effort to make some space. In fact, that’s what I spent most of my time doing … going through things and determining what it made sense to keep and what could go given I hadn’t looked at it in eleventy billion years.

It was actually quite therapeutic. Well, except for my Instagrammed moment from a crate that contained several stuffed animals from Connor’s first couple of years. I had thought it contained only toys and as soon as I opened it and saw all the fuzzy animals, I burst into tears. I’m not even kidding. I recalled that one of them gently spoke the “Now I lay me down to sleep … ” prayer and I pressed its wrist, held it close and smiled as it recited the words. Yep. Yep I did.

When I walked upstairs for a quick break (and to walk upright for a couple minutes), I looked around and thought, ‘Wow, it doesn’t look like I’ve done anything.’ Although my place isn’t a mess, Connor’s prints on the slider window have been there for more than a couple of days.

And then it hit me.

How often do we (especially those of us representing the female variety) expend all of our energy on those things that others would notice? We dress nice (and trust me, I try, but I am no fashionista); we wear makeup; we get our hair and nails did; we hit the gym and … etc. Now, I’m not knocking any of this. In fact, I think it is important to do all of those things if they make us feel good. But what if we spent that much effort on cleaning out the inside? I know that those four or five hours were good for my soul. And regardless of how the rest of my place looked, I know that the utility room is in better condition and that makes ME feel better.

I often obsess over my appearance. I’ve talked about it. I’m never quite satisfied with that (young) woman looking back at me in the mirror. She mocks me pretty often, actually. Do you actually think you look okay in that? Sheesh. But I haven’t spent nearly enough time addressing how i look on the inside. I tend to pack things away and hide what really hurts. Don’t get me wrong; I do wear many emotions on my sleeve, but I’ll also admit that you won’t get the whole picture at a glance. I can put on a pretty darn good front. I think most of us can.

Sometimes, admittedly, we have to. But that shouldn’t be the case all the time. Regardless of the feeling of having to appear brave, we have to get our wits about us from the inside out. Not long ago, I posted a two-word response to what I would say to my younger in my mom’s group. You know what I said? ‘Love yourself.’ I’m sure I could have come up with something better had I really thought on it, but that was honestly the first two-word phrase that came to mind. Because my younger self did not have any such feeling .

But now? I’m coming to terms with myself. I’m finally starting to appreciate a little bit about me. And that’s a really good feeling. I haven’t changed very much on the outside; well, I have gotten older … I can see that; but some of that old stuff that’s just taking up space and some of those things that are partially broken with some working parts are being re-positioned. And it’s helping.

I’m not where I need to be, but I’m closer and praise the Lord that I’m figuring out what’s necessary to do that now because I might not ever have realized how much less I would care if someone noticed those (beautiful) finger prints on the window because I could smile knowing I spent my time getting my utility room’s crap together.

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