Dear Lois, How do you press the restart button?


When people go through a major life change, it’s not an uncommon occurrence to do a massive purge of items around the house. Cleaning and decluttering can be an act of rebellion and healing. Seizing opportunities for growth and maturity during times of change has the potential for major shifts in thinking, approach and circumstance.

There is no doubt that we are all going through a major transition and paradigm shift. COVID-19 changed everything, and we have some choices in behaviors that we need to make. Do we go back to the way things used to be or take a new approach?

Two weeks after my ex moved out, I feverishly cleaned and purged the whole house. I started in my bedroom; the most vulnerable and personal place in my home. I worked my way around the room, methodically addressing every item that was filling the space and the energy that enters my subconscious. I took every item out of the closet, each drawer and under the bed. I did a deep cleaning of the empty space and purposefully put things away, while placing everything that reminded me of my ex in a box.

As I chose what would stay or go, I had a decision I had to make: How long was it going to take for me to bounce back from the hardship I had been living in? Was it cold and heartless to make a clean break and “wash that man right outa my hair?” I got rid of every picture, card and sentimental (not-so-) keepsake. I knew that I needed to rip off the Band-Aid and press the restart button—the sooner the better.

“I honor domestic work as a healing practice…It’s in how we engage with life that makes us who we are.”

Now that it’s been over a year since that deep cleaning, I look back in awe of my grit. When I was at my lowest, I took control, washed away the heartache and made my bedroom a place where I could get proper rest, free from fault and addiction. I took ownership of my life right then and there, in the thick of it. I didn’t wait until I thought I was ready, I didn’t put the memories in storage, I removed his energy from my home, letting my mind and heart heal from years of wounds. What seemed harsh at the time was exactly what I needed: a reset.

Cleaning and purging my home was an intentional act that I chose to do to love and take care of myself and my girls. Afterwards, I saw firsthand what messes that I had made and the messes that I didn’t have to partake in anymore. I took back control and made my home sacred, clean and intentional. I reclaimed our house so we could clear our hearts to forgive with the hope to not dwell on how bad it had gotten. I made a vow that I would preserve the true peace that I was creating with my domestic work. I will never forget the work it took to clean my home from top to bottom so I never get myself into an unhealthy relationship like that again.

Illustration by Lois Volta.

Illustration by Lois Volta.

There was a beautiful and high-quality nature to life that ascended on the house after I had cleaned up the rubble of a tornado. My actions, decisions and work that I poured into my home were valuable. I honor domestic work as a healing practice.

Mud comes into the house on our shoes, grease builds up on stoves and soap scum happens; the same goes with heartache, loss and sorrow. It’s in how we engage with life that makes us who we are. Do we let apathy, indifference and neglect make us a self-fulfilling prophecy of shame and guilt? Or do we get back on the horse and clean the kitchen again and again and again?

There is a temptation to chase fleeting pleasures during times that are trying, but where does that get us when we look at the mess, dust and memories in our homes? Escaping the hard work that life brings to us is a form of denial. The true gift that life brings is that the sublime is easily accessible through the mundane; we have to look for it, but it’s always right there, waiting for us.

For instance, now when I do a deep cleaning of my bedroom I use love as an action to take care of myself—my love feels good, and it is something that I savor and experience for myself. All of the love that I pour into my space is felt.

I take my time and enjoy the feeling of “love as a verb” and the fruit that it bears. I let it run through me to make me stronger and develop new habits, mindsets and approaches. But, I also let my actions be an example of my tenderness, kindness and care.

Experience yourself by how you treat yourself in your space.

Cleaning a toilet on your knees with a happy heart has the potential to teach you lessons that mountaintops never will. Humbly being open and partaking in the actions of love change old patterns and lay new grooves in the brain for us to deepen with good form. Now that we know better, we can do better again, again and again.

Lois Volta is a home life consultant, artist and founder of The Volta Way. Send questions to info@thevoltaway.com.

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Latest from #147 August 2021