The other day I was cleaning my bathroom sink. As the warm water ran over my hands and wash rag; a flood of childhood memories came rushing in. I was approximately 4 years old as I stared in awe of my aunt washing the bathroom sink in my grandmother’s home. She took great care to wet the rag and sink, then sprinkled the cleaner into the sink and onto the rag. She would methodically scrub the sink perfectly and then rinse thoroughly. The sink was white with two different faucets, one for cold water and the other for hot water. It was part of a double shotgun house in Lakeview, an area of New Orleans. The house was meticulously clean and uncluttered. A sharp contrast to the messy home that I was living in. Growing up, my mom didn’t seem to take the same interest in cleaning our home. It could have been because she had three children ages 4 and under at the time.
Years later when my aunt married and had a house of her own, I continued to admire her clean and decorated home. She had this brass trunk that sat in front of the sofa. On top of it was a floral arrangement. One day she told us, kids, “Don’t touch it, if you move it even an inch, I will know”. “Wow, how could she know this?”, I thought. I had determined that one day I would have a house and it would look like hers.
Cleaning a bathroom sink and memories
Years later my home was just like hers, decorated and clean, but it didn’t fulfill me. I had thought that if my house was perfect then I would be happy. I lived with constant anxiety and depression over issues of the past and current turmoil along with the guilt from my parents. A beautiful and organized home was all I thought I could control in my life. I’ve had some of my clients say to me, “My wardrobe is all I can control”, but all it brings is clutter and not joy.
Funny how a simple act of cleaning my bathroom sink could bring in so many memories and thoughts. I have come to realize as a professional organizer that our external surroundings are sometimes a reflection of what is going on internally. A recent client replied to that statement, “So what is the solution?” I jokingly said, “A therapist, but really once you understand why you do the things you do, it makes change easier.” “I like that”, she said.
If you are challenged by clutter and would like to work past it, contact me for a free virtual consultation.
Lisa Giesler, Professional Organizer, Life Coach, Author