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Spring-Cleaning for the Soul

Pat TaubPat Taub

Spring is typically the time when we tidy up our living spaces, but what if we applied this same thinking to our interior lives? What if we engaged in spring-cleaning for the soul? What would that look like?

It might involve reworking the formula in Marie Kondo’s bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, where you think soulfully instead of practically. For example, envision your soulful/spiritual life when Kondo recommends that you get rid of personal items that no longer “spark joy.”

Pat Taub, WOW Blog, Portland, ME

Soulful spring cleaning involves making a list of toxic people in one’s life

Make an inventory of family members that have hurt you, people who no longer spark joy.

While you can’t readily get rid of relatives (unless you’re in the Mafia), you can eliminate the source of discomfort. The most effective way to do this is through the path of forgiveness. Once you learn to forgive someone they no longer have the power to hurt you.

Forgiveness is a process that takes time.

Start by considering that the troublesome individuals in question probably didn’t set out to hurt you. Their hurtful behavior is more about them than you.

As they say in 12 Step Programs, “People who hurt, hurt.” Try to imagine what their interior life might be like. I have a relative who’s repeatedly mean to me. I’ve been able to see his behavior as a function of his unhappiness. In time I was able to forgive him.
Pat Taub, WOW Blog, Portland, Maine

Practicing forgiveness through meditation

Forgiveness, Part 2, calls on you to forgive yourself.

Stop chastising yourself for your perceived shortcomings. Be kind to yourself. Imagine yourself being gently held by a great spirit who looks lovingly on all those aspects of yourself you detest. This spirit–God or the Great Mother or whatever image speaks to you–likes you just the way you are. She’s in your corner when you decide to address personal qualities you’d like to modify. She wants you to feel supported in your changes but not to feel like you have to develop new habits overnight.

Soulful spring-cleaning refers not just to eliminating toxic relatives but also to eliminating negative people in your social circle.

Run through your list of friends. If you find yourself in a friendship that is largely one-sided, where perhaps the other person is prone to lots of complaining or demanding of your time, it might be time to let that friendship go.

Pat Taub, WOW blog, Portland, Maine

Close friends enrich our souls

Conversely invest in those people that energize and inspire you—people who are truly soulful. Find a way to spend more time with them. Invite them to lunch, or have a gathering at your home of these shining souls.

Kondo suggests transforming your home into “a sacred space.” Remember when personal altars were popular? When we would take a low table and decorate it with sacred objects and photos of cherished friends and relatives? It might be time to revisit this concept to make a new altar, or edit your existing one.

Pat Taub, Wow Blog, Portland, Maine

A home altar brings the sacred into your home.

For years I’ve been collecting Buddha’s and images of the sacred feminine. They bring a calming element into my home. Many Mainers I know have their collections of beautiful beach rocks scattered among their possessions.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up concludes with the advice: “Pour your time and passion into what brings you the most joy, your mission in life.”

It might be a creative endeavor; working with the immigrants in your community; or befriending people you know who are isolated. Whatever it is, try to make this mission more central to your life.
Pat Taub, WOW blog, Portland, Maine

A woman with a shining soul

The big reward of spring-cleaning the soul is that it offers the potential for a happier life and a life where magic has room to appear.


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Pat Taub is a family therapist, writer and activist and life-long feminist. She hopes that WOW will start a conversation among other older women who are fed up with the ageism and sexism in our culture and are looking for cohorts to affirm their value as an older woman.