One of the things I have to manifest in the world, is that I can find an analogy anywhere. In particular, I seem able to find the profound in the ridiculous or the mundane - often as I undertake menial and apparently meaningless tasks.
Take vacuuming the floor. Living as I do with four humans and two animals, our floors take a serious hammering most days. Living in the UK during the winter (or indeed the summer) equals a lot of mud, and a heck of a lot of muckiness trampled through our house on a daily basis.
I'm not the biggest fan of housework. But I am the biggest fan of the effect of housework, in particular the energetic shift that happens when an area of the house has been decluttered or cleaned. I love the sense of possibility that fills the air when things that have lain dormant collecting dust are moved, cleaned up or rearranged. I swear the air feels different. Lighter. Fresher. Better.
So on days when I'm feeling a bit funky or stuck, or simply in need of a change of energy I drag the hoover out and start vacuuming. I don't tidy first or dust surfaces, or do anything sensible like that. I just start hoovering. And I listen for the satisfying rattle that tells me the mud and dust is being sucked away, revealing something shinier and more appealing beneath.
And because I don't tidy first I have to pick things up as I go. I simply have to move them out of the way so I can get under them. As a result, all the stuff - the pieces of lego, the random socks, the crumpled up artwork - gets picked up and put on a higher surface to deal with once the hoovering is done. Because my focus in this moment is to clean this floor. To make it shine again. To release that lovely, fresh energy back into my house.
And because I'm deeply imperfect at housework, and have a lot to pack into the 6 hours my children are at school, the hoovering is often all I make time for before attending to something else. I hoover the floor. I pick stuff up and I put it on higher surfaces. Then I get on with my work.
While this might not sound like the best way of achieving a tidy house, mysteriously it works. Mysteriously this approach results in more than just clean floors.
When I've released the fresh energy into the house by hoovering the floor, and raised the floor clutter so its closer to eye level, I find myself dealing with it. Quickly, easily and without an enormous amount of effort. In a way I never would if the clutter remained dusty and neglected on the floor. I find myself returning these items to their homes with an ease that doesn't feel available to me when they're all over the floor. By prioritising a vacuumed floor I literally and metaphorically do the ground work for the rest of the house.
And for whatever reason, this totally speaks to me of the value of self development work, something I do more and more of these days. Whether it's therapy, or meditation, or prayer or cleaning floors or coaching that floats your boat - finding that way of releasing good energy into your life means that the dusty emotional clutter you've been wading around in gets picked up. The issues you need to deal with rise up to the surface for you to attend to. The emotional equivalent of dusty lego pieces, and random socks that you've been treading on for days (or even years) are suddenly visible in a different way. You suddenly have a clearer sense of the parts of your life that need wiping down, rearranging, or best of all, can be dealt with by someone else entirely (a particular favourite of mine!).
Like a spot that's ready to be burst, or the scum that rises to the surface when you cook lentils (feel free to insert your own more appealing metaphor here) when you start working on your self, the issues that have been holding you back will make themselves known to you. And as a result, you will start getting your house in order. You'll start dealing with it. Some of it may be easier than you think, some may be kind of painful to deal with (I refer you back to the spot metaphor), but deal with it you will.
And trust me, that's definitely better than the alternative - which frankly feels a lot like muddy floors and lego imprints on the soles of your feet.
This post was originally featured on Michaela's blog Parenting in Public. Read more from her there.