Whenever I have done a deep cleaning and organizing of a space in my house, I have found money.
Last May I excavated my big plastic bin of historical notebooks (dating back to my first diary in 1976) and found an envelope full of gift cards. I forgot I even had these. I thought I’d spent them long ago. They were worth hundreds of dollars.
(It would be cool if this were a metaphor about how there is gold in my forty years’ worth of notebooks and diaries. Reading through my old notebooks gives me the unsettling feeling that I’m meeting myself and shaking hands. It’s a novelty for a minute and then it gets weird. The metaphorical value is limited. But I did find literal value because underneath there were four movie tickets, one gift card to Best Buy and two gift cards from Macy’s for fifty bucks each.)
My advice to myself today is to realize that the material world deserves tending. Keep my bags from collecting loose change, abc gum and post-it note reminders from last week. Organize my spaces for ease of movement and use.
The truth is, even though it’s fun to find money, I shouldn’t be losing it in the first place. Losing track of my material world means I am not in presence. It means that I have checked out and that’s not cool.
There is nothing like cleaning the house, organizing my desk at work or vacuuming the inside of my car for a feeling of control in a chaotic universe.
Keep the material world in order. Maybe the rest will take the hint.
List five places in your home, work, or other places in your life that could use cleaning up. Try devoting one hour or less to one of the jobs, then reflect on what you found, what you tossed, how you feel now that it is done.
Reflect on an item in your life that you have lost. What did it mean to you? Under what circumstances did you lose it? How are your life circumstances different now?
List ten things you would like to find. They don’t have to be lost in the first place, and they don’t have to be material (i.e. support for my latest project, co-inspiring friendship) but they can be (i.e. a pack of Uniball Elite Blx Ink pens including brown, a gift card). Make a clear intention to find each one. Reflect on how wonderful it is to know they are already on the way.
Play this game: List something you lost, AND something you found.
Example: I lost seeing my awesome Carondelet friends all the time when I moved to Sacramento, AND I found countless amazing people in my new hometown.
Hint: Use AND instead of BUT. This isn’t about silver linings or everything happens for a reason. Neither of those notions are my jam. This is about noticing change and being present to it.
P.S. As someone who loves to clean and loves to write, I groove on this montage from the movie LIMITLESS. Drugs are terrible, but if there was a pill that made me a magnificent cleaner and writer I would be sorely tempted.