A Lovely Little Painting
Not too long ago, my husband gave me a lovely little plaque created by artist Kelly Rae Roberts. It’s something I can put on my dresser and look at every day and even though the style or colors aren’t my normal “thing,” the words are and Mitch knew it, which is exactly why the dear man still bought it for me…pink roses and lace and all.
“Beauty matters” the artist had inked on the canvas. “Surround yourself with it.”
“Right,” I thought to myself when I first read it. “I totally agree.” After all, haven’t I seen the practical application of that very idea in my work with clients? Clients with cluttered homes, feeling overwhelmed and beat down, not knowing if they’ll ever be able to “get their act together,” trying to “get organized,” trying to get “unburied”…and never seeming to quite manage the transition from chaos to order until, that is…
…I have them focus not on “being organized” but, rather, on creating beauty…on making one space beautiful. Just one spot…all the way beautiful. And that’s when the transition finally begins to happen.
For “Denise,” [not her real name] it was her bed. This particular client had an entire main floor filled with piles of stuff—piles of papers and mail and crafts and dishes on the table, pots and pans and food stuffs willy-nilly all over the counters in the kitchen, and school backpacks and shoes and sports gear and whatnot thrown…well, you get the picture. All that chaos. All that overwhelm. All those reasons for low self-esteem. What did we do? We just left the monstrous jumble where it was and turned our attention upstairs to her bed.
Just the bed. Narrowing the focus. Just this one spot. “Don’t think about anything else,” I told her. “Just the bed. We’re going to make it beautiful.” (Notice that? Not “organized.” Beauti
And we did. We cleaned the bed and everything under, around, and above it….every last spot…all the way to the corners. We took things away. No more dust. No more dirt. No more trash or lost socks or hair pins or magazines. No more dirty sheets or dead pillows. No more dirt on the walls or on the night stands or on the light switches. Just clean, clean, clean.
Then we began to add. (Because, of course, after the taking-away and the cleaning, it’s time for adding. For putting things on.) So on went the bed skirt and the clean sheets (yes, “hospital corners” and all). On went the new comforter (purchased weeks prior in a fit of desperate hope) and the pillow shams and the new pillows and a decorative throw. We worked fast and we had fun. In fact, Denise was so energized and so totally involved with her creative work that she’d forgotten about the mess-of-a-main-floor waiting downstairs.
Then came the moment. We were done. She’d smoothed out the last wrinkle and tugged the last pillow into place. We stood at the end of the bed and I put my arm around her shoulders. “Now look,” I told her as I had her face the bed. “Look at the bed. Look at what you created. You chose the colors and the fabric. You chose the placement of the pillows and the rest of the décor. Look at what you did. What do you see?”
There was silence and then…“It’s beautiful!” she exclaimed. And it was. And it made her feel so good…about what she had done…and about herself. But then it happened. What I was waiting for. Her eyes began to travel away from the bed and around the room to the overflowing closet and the bags of shopping in the corner, to the exercise bike covered with more clothes, to the baskets of laundry…All around the room to the other spots that she had become so used to that she no longer saw them. The mess had long since become that invisible.
“It doesn’t match.” she said. “The rest of the room doesn’t match.”
You see, creating that one spot of beauty made all the rest of the chaos suddenly “stick out like a sore thumb.” It pinged on her consciousness with a painful intensity and kept her ferociously motivated over the next few days to keep cleaning and beautifying until the entire room matched her gorgeous bed. That’s the power one spot of totally beautiful had on Denise’s life. She didn’t have to force herself to do anything. She wanted to do the work. And she kept at it until the room was done.
Why? Because when Denise looked at her beautiful bed, she didn’t see just a bed. She saw a new her. She saw someone who was capable and talented and who could make a difference. Someone who perhaps didn’t need to feel such low self-esteem. That bed breathed the idea of a new life into her. And she wanted it! And once she saw herself in this new way, how could she bear to keep the rest of the room in its old, cluttered state? She couldn’t. The act of creating one spot of beauty had helped her feel some of the truth about her real self in her bones and in her heart and she was ready to claim it and keep it for her own.
This is at least one reason why Beauty matters. Because it has power. Power (if we will create it and let it) to help us change and grow by showing us a better vision of ourselves…of who we really are deep inside…someone gorgeous or wonderful, who isn’t meant to live in piles of messes or feel low self-esteem or despair.
So Here’s the Tip:
Don’t focus on “getting organized.” Thinking that you have to “get organized” will drain you. Focus instead on making one spot in your home all-the-way beautiful and then, just as with Denise’s experience, that one little spot of beauty will provide you with the power to keep on working and create more.
Oh…and the funny thing about this strategy? The cleaning and organizing will happen automatically along the way.