“It’s awful in here— so messy and smelly. I can’t even think. Why don’t you do something about it? I’ve been trying to get your attention for months.”
The large bottom drawer in my bathroom overflowed with lotions, dental supplies, vitamins, an exotic collection of hair clips, deodorant that had been on sale, extra vitamins, face creams, and all kinds of stuff for my feet…pumice, heel softening salve, corn medicine that had leaked out, and so on. Cardboard packaging fell behind the drawer. Sometimes I couldn’t even shut the drawer without rearranging the stuff. I nagged myself, couldn’t find things, but continued to procrastinate. The drawer was right—if I threw out the junk and organized it, I would feel so much better and would be able to find things.
“Just start. You can do it. You don’t need to wait until I’m jammed and stuck shut. Or until you cannot find that lost packet of migraine pills that you urgently need; by the way, it is buried under the box in the corner.”
Finally, I decided to clean the drawer. It only took 30 minutes, and I finally found out why I was always buying dental floss—there were 11 packages buried deep in the drawer, along with a dozen toothbrushes I had accumulated from past dental visits. Other surprises: dried-out face cream, multiple medicine bottles that had expired more than 5 years ago, and dozens of old crumpled tissues.
“Congratulations and thank you! Doesn’t it feel good? I feel calmer and can think more clearly without all that crowded mess, and I don’t have that awful cardboard poking at my back. I’ll bet you feel better, too. Plus, now you’ll be able to find your stuff.”
After I cleaned out the drawer, I went back that afternoon and admired it three times. Honestly, I did. I felt proud and was amazed how much space there was in the drawer. These positive feelings even motivated me to tackle the pile of papers on my desk and to start a new plan: I would clean one shelf or one drawer each week.
I had ignored the cues from the drawer for months. In the end, it was so easy.
The moral of the drawer story: Listen to cues and then start small so you can complete the project or plan. You will be rewarded with a pleasant feeling of pride and self-satisfaction that will motivate you to take more positive steps. Don’t wait for a crisis, such as a jammed drawer that cannot be opened at all, or not being able to find medicine or ointment you urgently need.
The drawer’s message made a big impression on me, and I’ve enjoyed sharing it with you. Not exactly Marie Kondo, but it worked for me! And, it can work for you too!
What cues are you ignoring? Cues can be within you or in your surroundings; they may relate to your physical, mental, or spiritual health. Consider this list: weight gain; bloating or heartburn after big meals; stiffness or soreness from lack of exercise; irritability; nagging guilt because of too much screen time; a sense of distance from God; or, an ill-defined discomfort at the constant noise, mess, or busyness in your life.
Give yourself the gift of a little quiet time each day so you have a better chance of recognizing these cues.
Decide on one very easy, achievable step. Mine was to clean my drawer. Yours might be to pray for 10 minutes today or to improve your eating habits by cooking a pot of lentils or veggie soup (to celebrate Fall) or cutting up veggies to store in the refrigerator for snacking. When you complete your step, savor the good feeling of accomplishment and plan your next step. This is how you will move you forward on your path to better health of mind, body, and spirit—one step at a time.