On Friday, I had a neighbor girl come and help me clean my house for 2.5 hours. This was the greatest decision in the history of holiday decisions.
Last year, our Christmas season far outdid any other Christmas season. It was tear-jerking and magical and sometimes I’d sit down and just soak up the peace and joy like a parched sponge on the beach. This year has been different.
I’m numb and also lost.
I am so busy that I don’t feel true joy, neither do I feel true pain or sorrow. I just am.
I am also so busy that I keep messing stuff up. The first batch of fruitcake didn’t get the spices at the right time, the second and last batch got baked at 365 for one hour instead of 265 for four hours. I once lost my phone, used my husband’s phone to call mine and heard it ringing behind me, behind me, behind me.
I did two full circles before I realized it was in my back pocket.
I’m working three part-time jobs, and while managing them all NOT in the holiday season is pretty easy, right now it isn’t. Next year I’ll make changes to simplify, but this is a learning year. And that’s okay. Sometimes I need weeks like this to learn from, to help me simplify and appreciate the present moment more.
We all know where my cleaning skills sit. I can’t hide them or fake them, especially in our little house. On top of working my jobs, I’ve also still been dealing with chronic stomach issues. I don’t remember what life was like NOT sick.
But for some reason, I still think I should have a clean house.
Last week, it hit me pretty hard: it’s not possible. With everything going on, including health issues, my house looks exactly as it should! In fact, I can’t possibly think of a way for it to look differently at all.
The glorious prospect of cleaning help.
There came an eye-opening moment of acceptance when my husband was rubbing my back. He’d said he felt prompted to run me a hot bath and give me a massage. It was really nice, and it was the first time I’d felt anything since before Thanksgiving. The self-care given to me (since I’d been too busy to TAKE some myself), had opened up a rare window for my emotions to be FELT.
I felt peace and warm and calm. I felt grateful.
But I also felt my body SCREAMING FOR ATTENTION.
I haven’t been feeding it right or listening to it.
As Danny ran his hands over my spine, it HURT. My inflammation is bad right now.
That’s when acceptance hit me.
I’ve spent YEARS trying to get rid of my inflammation, trying to discard it and go on my way. But you know what? I’ve never accepted it as part of my journey.
So I took a breath and I realized this:
I have to pay extra attention to my body… Yoga is a non-negotiable, as is meditation. I have to eat differently.
Instead of pouring time into figuring out where the inflammation comes from, I can pour time into taking better care of myself, knowing that inflammation is part of me now. This means more water, more walking. This means saying no to things I used to be able to say yes to.
My dirty house has been part of the result of my LACK of acceptance. I keep thinking it will get clean when I feel better, when my stomach stops hurting, when my joints feel normal.
But how about I just PAY someone to clean it instead? I feel better, the kids feel better, and it frees up my time to do things like yoga. I can hear myself better in a clean house.
I don’t expect it to stay clean, but I am okay hiring help once a month. That’s the upside to my three little jobs. I have just enough to pay for help, and it feels like God gave me that gift.
Paying someone is FREEING for me. When folks come and clean for free, I apologize and apologize and never ask for what I really need. But if I’m paying? Shoot. Give me two hours and I’ll have a ready list of what I need.
This morning, I woke up to a clean space. I can effectively work all three jobs from home -since on top of the usual health stuff I’ve also got a holiday head cold -and when I’m done easily clean up my space. Maintaining is easy. I imagine Christmas Day will bring all kinds of crazy house work back into the picture.
So I will set aside more cash.
And now I’m going to stretch out on my yoga mat, drink some water, take more vitamin C, gargle some apple cider vinegar, meditate and then get to work.
Do you think that taking care of myself counts as a 4th job? It feels like it.
I hope your holiday season is reminding you of what’s important, whether because you’re able to actually tap into it or because you’re so far from it, you can’t wait to find your way back.