As I grew older I would go on cleaning binges, resolving that I would never be messy again. I loved the sensation of peace and clarity that came with a clean bookbag, a clean room, but I could never maintain it. I didn't know why. As a grownup, a mother of four no less, I continue to struggle, sometimes sinking beneath a deluge of mess, sometimes feeling more in control. Sometimes I have maintained a consistently ordered home by giving it my undivided emotional and mental attention, while squelching or derailing dominant aspects of my personality--dreaminess, prayerful contemplation, making pretty things with my hands. I now consider such complete attentiveness to maintaining outward order dangerous and self-destructive for me, so usually I clumsily juggle my responsibilities and aspirations, trying not to neglect either my inner or outer world too much but not doing anything as well as I want to.
Until the last few weeks. Perhaps I speak too soon, but I feel that I am finally figuring out how to maintain a consistently ordered outward life that does not suppress but enhances the inner life and creativity that is core to my identity. It's very simple, so simple it's a little embarrassing. Several times a day, I set a timer for ten minutes and work nice and fast on a category of mess. When the timer goes off, I set it again and work on something else. With the time limit, I don't get swallowed up in a single cleaning project that I complete but don't maintain. I have put boundaries around the cleaning and ordering part of my day, to make sure it doesn't overtake the creating part of my day, and I am happy to say I am getting more time in the studio without feeling so burdened by outer chaos, and I'm getting some parts of my life in order without the frustration and sadness I feel when I neglect my art.
From my kraft paper sketchbook: