On Dirty Cabinets

During dinner clean-up last night, I dropped a ramekin filled with ketchup and it splattered all over the kitchen floor and cabinets. Instead of getting pissy about it–that would have been my go-to and I would have projected that on to the kids somehow, but I didn’t–I took a breath and got to cleaning it up. After scrubbing the ketchup off the floor, I moved to the cabinets, where I noticed that, not only were some of them covered in ketchup, but all of them were covered in grime and grease. I realized then that these cabinets probably hadn’t been cleaned in years–at least three years, but probably longer.  I was absolutely disgusted. So disgusted, in fact, that I decided that I would spend my evening, after putting the kiddos to bed, cleaning these despicable cabinets.

I got the littles to bed after practically having to pull books out of their hands and started my cabinet clean. Equipped with rubber gloves and clorox wipes, I soon realized that this mess was beyond clorox wipes and required a scrub brush, bleach spray, a tooth brush, paper towels, and a butter knife–yes, a butter knife!

I started with the cabinets above the stove. After grabbing my stepping stool and realizing what i had gotten myself into after seeing grease caked in the crevices of the cabinets, I almost gave up and bounced around the idea of just demolishing my kitchen or burning it down. My rational self (or irrational, depending on how you look at it) chimed in and I began my work. It wasn’t until I started scraping away years worth of grease and grime, that I realized this was work for the soul too. So, here’s my guide to cleaning your cabinets and cleaning your soul.

Step 1:

Take butter knife and scrape grease clumps out of crevices. Cover whatever surface that is under the cabinets with plastic, or you’ll have an even bigger mess to clean up. Let’s translate this. The first step in cleaning your soul is scraping the surface. By this, I mean you have be aware enough to know that your soul needs a good cleaning and realizing that isn’t always an easy process. It gets messy, as life frequently does. For me, soul scraping meant that I had to begin cutting into much deeper wounds and the mess I made fell onto those I loved the most. I didn’t put down a shield, but we survived enough to move to step two.

Step 2:

Take your scrub brush and begin cleaning the layers of grime off. Use bleach spray when necessary. Scrub hard, because that grime has been sitting there for years and years. For your soul, you begin peeling the layers of gunk off–like an onion. I hear people say you start from the inside and work your way out, but  I believe you start from the outside and work your way in (that’s me, though). I had so much built up and weighing me down. It was icky and it was on the outside. I had to deal with everything on the outside–how I saw myself, how I saw others, my priorities, my lack of priorities, the weight I put on weight and appearance. There was so much on the outside for me, that I couldn’t make it to the inside by skipping through the outside. I tried. It was like walking through thick, convoluted mud intricately filled with obstacles like rocks and tree branches. It was exhausting. I couldn’t do it. So, I learned that I had to start from the outside and clean up the mud. When I scrubbed the surface and discovered what was really holding me back, I was able to dig deeper.

Side story: When I  did my Level One Training with the Baptiste Institute, one of the first meditations we did was finding what fear we were holding on to. That deep down, keep you down fear. I remember really connecting with this meditation and being my own observer. I remember (and at this point I had already scrubbed my first layer) seeing deep down what was holding on to me with a death grip–my fear of abandonment. I remember having my hands on my thighs, palms facing up, and receiving the gift I was giving myself. The gift of acceptance and understanding. The gift of acknowledgement for this fear. I cried. None of that would have been possible without having the awareness that I was holding a big shield of gunk up and that I had layers to peel. Also, meditation is the shit.

Step 3: 

Keep scrubbing. It’s that simple. My cabinets are clean now–as clean as I can get them, but they will take on more gunk as time passes. I will have to go back and scrub. I may have to go back and scrape the grimy shield. That’s okay. Be okay with the ability to begin again. Be okay with starting over. Know that you can always go back and clean them again and although it will be hard, you will succeed. Now, replace soul with cabinets. We are human. We aren’t perfect. Life takes its toll and we rebuild layers. We are also strong, capable humans and can wipe those layers away. Take time for yourself. Give yourself ease and grace. Know that fears and intentions change. How you choose (because you have the choice) to handle the tough situations determines how quickly your grime builds.

When I was a kid, I was constantly picked on by my peers and cousins about my weight. I recall wearing a new bikini covered in cute sunflowers and feeling really proud and cool as I walked out to my yard with my beach towel to lay in the sun–I was probably 11. I had confidence. I laid my towel out on the grass and started to sit down in preparation to lay down. My cousin walked over from my grandparent’s house (they lived next door to us. That’s how family works in small town West Virginia) and made a comment about my weight that i don’t distinctly remember, but remember distinctly how it made me feel, and he laughed at me. At that age, you’re sensitive and fragile and making a choice to not take his comment personally wasn’t something I was capable of, especially since that confidence was rare for me. I rolled up my beach towel, went inside, and didn’t wear a midriff baring bikini again until I was 17. That choice to take on his comment left me with layers of grime, and was only built on as I got older. Now that I’m grown and have washed that grime away, i’m able to see–as this cousin struggles with drug addiction and depression–that his comment wasn’t about me, but about him. Dried grease is thick and sticky. It looks similar to thinly sliced chocolate fudge, except you don’t eat it and it smells of dying. It’s not something you can see through, but it is something you notice when you get close. Unless you choose to clean it up and scrape it off, you will never see what’s going on around you clearly. I had trouble letting others get close to me and even had trouble getting close to myself.

Step 4:

Smile knowing you just worked your ass off and even though there’s more work to be done, you know you are capable.

So, last night I cleaned my cabinets, but I also cleaned my soul. I scrubbed until there was a hint of a sparkle, but that hint of sparkle is worth all the smiles and is much bigger than it seems.