Scrubbing the Stain Out
I hate to clean. I don’t mind sweeping and tidying, but I don’t enjoy anything that requires getting “down and dirty.” I hate doing dishes, cleaning toilets, scrubbing etc.
You get the idea.
So this is my confession; I am a mom who hates to clean! There- I said it.
A month ago my kids made Popsicles out of juice by pouring it into plastic Popsicle makers you buy at Walmart. It was fun and it was messy. When we took one out to eat it, it broke and a little piece of bright purple ice fell to the faux wood linoleum.
I asked my eight year old Oliver to pick it up. Later that day I walked past the site of the Popsicle operation and noticed he had not picked it up. The broken piece was now a bright purple stain dried to the floor. I groaned.
I decided not to clean it up. I would ask him to do it. However, I soon forgot all about it. Days went by and every time I passed the stain, I noticed, but was usually alone in the house. I would make a mental note to ask Oliver to clean it up when he got back home from school, but I never did. Life gets busy. Finally I had enough of this and decided to get a cloth and clean it up, after all, who the hell leaves a juice stain on their floor for days (ok maybe it was weeks who knows?). It’s a simple task Grace. Just get it done.
I began to scrub. It would have been such an easy task if I had done it right away. I started to laugh to myself at the irony laid out in front of me. Bent down sweating in the heat of the summer, I was madly scrubbing this sticky mess of the floor. It didn’t come off easily and as I scrubbed the metaphor started to become clear- me vs the stain. As I scrubbed I noticed that to get the stain off the floor it required friction. Friction, which builds heat, like fire creates change.
Tapas is the Sanskrit word meaning “burning zeal for practice”.
Like many Sanskrit words, there are many meanings or translations. To me it means a repetitive discipline or focus with zest! Building heat and friction through repetition. If you think of heating something up – like an egg it changes the egg entirely. It’s still an egg, but it’s drastically different.
While scrubbing, I realized that in order to remove the stain and create friction, I had to repetitively slide the cloth and my hand back and forth over it. I noticed that I was annoyed, and grew bored and tired. A part of me wanted to just say, “screw it, good enough,” and get up, leaving some of the juice stain behind but I thought – nope, I need to remove this once and for all. Why did this insignificant moment of cleaning – something so small, cause so much contemplation for me?
I often think in metaphors, they help me at times to make sense of life. Today it was the stain. What is this stain revealing or showing me that has a bigger meaning or significance? Making changes in my life, to improve my health and well-being, requires a lot of focus and repetition. I rub the same stains over and over to create change and transformation. These stains are experiences and beliefs I have neglected to take care of and prevent my true self from shining.
I keep coming back to the same thing over and over again asking myself – have you not learned this yet? How many times do we need to revisit this? The truth is, that like the juice stain on the floor, how long it takes to remove a dry sticky, habit or pattern depends on how long it’s been there.
Fast forward to today, as I scrubbed the stove top in our trailer, it hit me again that this was a moment of learning. Standing there doing something I didn’t want to do, I reminded myself to pause and get curious. Was there anything here to be revealed?
I took a step back and became the observer of the situation and my own thoughts/judgments. First I tried a cloth and some water – nope nothing. I stopped for a moment and heard my thoughts “this isn’t going to come off, just give up” and then I looked around – there was a steel wool brush and some soap. So I poured the soap on it and got the brush wet and scrubbed. Would ya look at that, it started to come off. I smiled. I just need to look further, think a little harder and most of all stick to it. As I scrubbed it came off little by little and I felt like I was in a meditation, watching so closely to see if what I was doing was working.
It reminded me a lot of my journey with depression. I have suffered under the weight of my depression since I was 12 and it’s been a heavy burden to bear. I feel sometimes that I am not 33, but rather 103. The days can be so long when depression casts a dark shadow over our will or desire to live our lives, more on this another day…
However, in my search for relief I have felt at times that I have tried it all – to no avail. After finding Cate Stillman and Body Thrive I came to the realization and acceptance that not only do I have to repeat these practices and habits over and over again, but I have to get really clear on why I need them, before I could see real change. I had to notice when what I am doing isn’t working, I need to look around for new support and/or resources. What do others know that I do not? I need to take note of what is working, and what is not. Sometimes I have to throw away the cloth and grab the steel wool brush and scrub a little harder to create enough friction for change to happen.
The medical system never asked me what time I went to bed, or when I ate or what I ate. It never looked at my tongue or my eyes, or my skin. It just looked at the symptoms and tried to alleviate or even suppress them – kind of like pushing down a lump and it popping up somewhere else.
Today I fell in love with scrubbing the stove. The deep level of satisfaction I felt when the stain started to lift and brush away had me beaming inside. I did that. I dedicated my time and energy to cleaning away that which wasn’t serving. Both on the stove and in my life.
I am still scrubbing. It really never stops. I have learned to love to scrub both metaphorically and literally. When I stood at the stove today, I smiled to myself and thought about what this stain is showing me.
Where is there a stain that I have left on the floor in my life or with my health that it’s time to put some attention and elbow grease toward?
Do you have any stains in your life that need a little elbow grease?
Are you needing to change tools to remove this sticky stain from your life?