Finding Inner Peace at Home While the World’s in Turmoil
This COVID-19 quarantine, I’ve decided, is going to change me. And I’m not only going to let it change me, I’m going to encourage it to do so. In some ways, it already has. I find myself striving – even more than usual – to find meaning and satisfaction in the “simple” things. To find a sense of profound, inner “enoughness” and peace. And that means approaching the minutes and hours of my days with mindfulness. I’m hoping to nurture a new relationship with time and how I spend it.
Today I woke up and, instead of going directly to my laptop to check news and email, I took two glorious hours for myself. No media – not even music – just me. I spent the time in “my” room – one of the spare rooms upstairs where I keep my favorite things: memorabilia, keepsakes, photos… I guess you could call it my “she shed.” It’s currently in shambles – more like a huge walk-in closet than a room – so I don’t spend as much time in there as I would love to.
But today I did spend some quality time there. I pushed aside boxes and bags of stuff to clear a pathway into the room. My gaze fell upon the view outside the window. I’d forgotten that we were expecting a dusting of snow last night and I noticed how it had settled in the crotch of the big ‘ol oak tree in the front yard. The sky was cloudy but bright and the street quiet, but for an occasional passing car. From out the window, my eyes moved to the sill, lined with Beanie Babies – cute and meaningful reminders of the years I spent as a daycare provider. Then to inside the room, to the rocking chair (another remnant from daycare days). It was piled high with random…stuff: Games, photos in frames, books, a couple old purses, the jar from a long-ago burned Yankee Candle containing little random bits from around the house.
This room also contains my altar, which I spent a generous chunk of time regarding this day. The altar was the one part of the room that’s been arranged and maintained for a long time. It’s comprised of shelves in a nook on which I’ve arranged some of my life’s treasures. Childhood books, dolls, stuffed animals, photos, items that evoke memories and, in many ways, represent me like no others. I’ve only referred to it as my altar since last year, however, when I began Kelly Carlin’s Women on the Verge course. Early in the lessons, she encourages us to claim a sacred space for yourself and assemble that which is precious and centers you. I didn’t need to start from scratch; I just refined my shelves and I had my altar!
I decided to follow my whims as I began this day in this new way. I sat on the beautiful oak floor – a lovely surprise that, in an attempt to set up the room as a special place of reflection several years ago, I’d discovered beneath the carpet. I moved a few things from here to there, organizing like items, consciously trying to avoid having a plan and follow my heart. This was the mission: to play with my stuff, like I did as a child, without agenda or any purpose other than to be in the experience. I did decide that, while the floor was good, the chair would be more comfortable. I moved the mess onto the floor, took a seat and rocked a while. From that vantage point, I sipped my tea and wondered what treasures were contained in that jar. So I investigated, and discovered:
- Two tiny keys, maybe from luggage?
- LOTS of paper clips (Why do we have so many paper clips? We are not an office!)
- Crystals from a pair of Mom’s candle sticks that I’ve always wanted to repurpose
- More key rings than two people need
- Some sort of electronics adapter
- A pair of earrings I’d forgotten I’d lost (and two earring backs)
- Two tiny incense holders
- A nylon strap for…something
- Three buttons
- A zipper pull that I wanted to put back on a favorite hoodie
- An adorable little sun dangle that “someday” I’ll incorporate into a craft project
- And to prove Mom was with me, two safety pins. Backstory: After Mom passed away in 2010, my sisters and I cleaned out her bedroom. When we got to her drawer of slips, we noticed every one of them had several safety pins attached to the straps. They weren’t holding anything together, she just always had safety pins on her person, should the need arise. I took a safety pin and strung seven more of them on it – representing her seven children. At her wake, I pinned it to her slip, in case she should need one, we’d be there.)
It was like finding a mini time capsule from a previous attempt to clean/organize clutter. And sorting through these tiny things occupied me for minutes on end. Where did they come from? Why did we keep them? My focus was steady on these tiny objects for a while. I wasn’t raging at the news. I wasn’t anxious about the uncertainties we and so many others are facing. I was, for a little while, at the beginning of my day, giving myself the gift of feeling free, unburdened and truly alive.
I’m already looking forward to spending a couple more hours in my room tomorrow, playing amongst my stuff and rediscovering myself. I wonder what I’ll find – and feel – when I look in other places and find more long-forgotten physical memories. I’m also looking forward to the resulting calm that ran through the tapestry of the remainder of my day. I’m amazed how profoundly an affect a couple hours of respite had upon my spirit. I felt nourished and revitalized.
With this crisis, the world is offering us a huge opportunity to reset our lives; to reassess what we value and how we spend our psychic and emotional energy. It’s calling for us to just be still and notice our lives as they are, right here and now. I’m heeding its call by looking inward more deeply. I hope you can take some time while the world is on “pause” to find something that helps you recreate and check in with yourself at a slower, more centered pace. I believe that’s the silver lining of all this; it may be saving us from ourselves. If we listen and stop resenting and resisting it can change us all for the better. Sometimes even nature has to use her outside voice to get our attention.
Bonus because you deserve to hear one of the most beautiful songs ever written.