Spring Cleaning for the Soul

By Kerry Slavens

Spring reminds us that resilience is just a season away,” writes blogger Angie Weiland-Crosby. That’s especially true for me this year after a wintry season of personal change.

But now that spring is within touching distance, I feel myself taking my cue from the resilience of nature. On my walk through Rockland the other day, I noticed tiny purple buds pushing up where there had only been trampled mud the week before. As the light returns, so too does strength, optimism and that mysterious force called spring fever that inspires people to become light-hearted, fall in love and take up spring cleaning and clutter clearing.

I was diligent about clearing clutter when I moved from a large heritage flat to a compact urban condo, so I don’t need to “Marie Kondo” my home this year. Instead, I’m clearing mental clutter following the end of a long-term relationship. Sweeping out cobwebs and creating internal space to invite good things into my life.

“Without internal space, it’s hard to hear the whispers that guide and direct us in life,” writes Dr. Christina Hibbert in her book This is How We Grow

Here’s some wisdom friends and experts have shared with me that may also inspire you:

Set the stage.

One of the best ways to do this is meditation because it’s almost impossible to clear space in your mind when your head is cluttered with thoughts of the past and anxiety about the future. With its focus on being in the moment, meditation improves focus and helps wipe away stressful, irrelevant mind chatter.

Clear out outmoded goals.

In our society we’re often told “never give up on a dream.” But what if the dream isn’t serving you anymore and your inability to achieve it is causing you to feel inadequate or guilty? It’s time to make a “keep” or “throw away” pile and get honest about what actually serves you. 

Deal with what you’ve been avoiding.

“Every time we avoid doing something we know is good for us, we chip away at our self-esteem,” says Haley Melikian on the DEN Meditation blog, “and every time we make the decision to tackle something we don’t feel like doing, we make giant strides for our courage and confidence. You will feel such a sense of ease and accomplishment that it will make up for any initial discomfort.”

Sweep out unhealthy relationships.

Do you have people in your life who are negative, emotionally absent or demanding? Or maybe you just have nothing in common anymore. Ask yourself: Do I really want to give them time from my “one precious life”? In this, I take inspiration from Virgina Woolf, who saltily said, “Spring has arrived — and I owe nobody nothing.”

Change routines.

Outmoded routines are clutter. So give yourself permission to switch from coffee to tea or vice versa, pick a new shade of lipstick, tune into an audiobook instead of CNN, switch up the exercise routine you hate. Make your own rules, fueled by the new energy of spring.

Change can be everything from painful to uncomfortable to exhilarating, but it’s a part of the cycle of life, just as the seasons are. We can’t stop it but we can turn it to our advantage and start fresh. I don’t know who said it, but it’s true — spring really is a lovely reminder of how beautiful change can truly be.