If you caught my Sunday Instagram, you know I spent lots of time yesterday cleaning my refrigerator. I won’t give you all the gory details, but suffice it to say, I realized it wasn’t clean in hidden (and not so hidden) places. It started with my noticing a nearly empty shelf with frittlins (yes, that’s a word in Laura Speak) on it, so I popped the shelf off and washed it in the sink. It sparkled so, I decided to do another and another. All told, with taking out and cleaning the two broad glass shelves covering the produce and the deli drawers, I spent an hour and a half working on it. Oddly enough, I had a good time. The television was off, and I didn’t have a podcast or music playing. It was just me, and the warm water, the scrubbing, and the pieces of refrigerator scattered about the kitchen, drying. When I put everything back together I felt ridiculously, thoroughly proud of the result (thus the photos).
Once upon a time in my life, my refrigerator would’ve been far less mucky because I cleaned it regularly. In fact, I cleaned everything with precise regularity. For a few years cleaning was a bulwark against my internal unhappiness. Thanks to FlyLady (which I do highly recommend), my house was sparkling and anyone could drop by and find only a few toys out of place. But inside I was miserable. I had a toddler who was more challenging than I could imagine any toddler had a right to be, my marriage was floundering, and I was depressed. The state of my house was the only thing in my life I felt I had control over.
My cleaning routines had a lot of anger in them. While they made life seem to run more smoothly, I know they puzzled my family. Control. I was desperate for control.
Somewhere in those busy days, I did make time to write. And I sold a book. Two, in fact. Life changed again. I found the approval and personal satisfaction I’d been searching for in my writing work. My toddler was still frustrating, and emotionally I was still a bit of a wreck, but I’d discovered that not only was my writing a necessary creative act that fed my starving soul, it made other people happy as well.
It wasn’t magic. The sale of that first book gave me a boost, but the real key was satisfying myself, and that’s what keeps me going. Work is necessary to the soul, whether you feel fulfilled by cleaning a house, writing stories, raising and teaching children, nursing strangers, selling cars—whatever. And the most fulfilling work both pleases us and makes a difference—even a small one—for someone else.
We are not meant to live alone, and we find others when we are looking for ourselves.
May 21st Words
Journal: 129 words
Long fiction: 0 words
Short fiction:1570 words
Non-fiction: 0 words
Blogging: 508 words
Exercise: Outdoor walk w/ hills, 1.25 miles