July 15th, 2007

We’ve lived in this house for 10 years this month. Ten years: it’s time to either torch it or have a garage sale. And so I am on a tear. I am tearing through the closets and drawers, under beds, behind shelves and beneath the tidy veneer of a life seemingly well-scrubbed. Scouring through the books and nooks, the outgrown everything, the forgotten extras, the dusty yesterdays, the once-cherished sentiments, but mainly, the toys toys toys toys toys.

Nothing quite like this time of year for feeling the full-on urge to purge. It always comes this time of year for me. Does it for you?

One week from now I leave home for a full seven days’ retreat at my temple, the culmination of our summer practice period. That kind of time away might seem radical, but it is so terribly, urgently, critical to our home that mommy go away at least a few times a year and, as they say, “de-clutter.” I find it curious that the term is suddenly all the rage. De-clutter is so, well, antiseptic when what you really mean is “decapitate.”

Recently I recovered the notepad I kept with me last summer before I left for retreat, and I read the words that fled from my head back then:

I found myself in the flower beds again this morning. From my office window, from the computer chair where in more ways than one I watch my life flicker past, it came to me yesterday: I must deadhead the dianthus before I go to retreat. Suddenly I’m struck by the perfect dharma words in the garden, where the dianthus wilt, their blooms withered into straw, waiting to be deadheaded. Deadhead: to cut the faded bloom from the stem so it will flower again. It’s always time to deadhead.

Off with it!


  1. Have a good (?) sesshin.

    Comment by Chris Austin-Lane — July 16, 2007 @ 1:22 am

  2. You have given me new way to look at de-cluttering, one I will not soon forget.
    As for going away, I too, must leave my family and retreat a few times a year. I have had writing retreats and spiritual retreats and do nothing but stare at the wall retreats. all of them feed me and help me let go. It is the only way I know how to be a mom, at least the mom I want to be.
    Enjoy this time away at your temple. I will be holding the space for you until you return.

    Comment by bella — July 16, 2007 @ 2:04 pm

  3. Beautifully written. I love the image of deadheading the flowers. Perfect!

    Comment by Mama Zen — July 16, 2007 @ 2:06 pm

  4. Yes! Deadheading…a fabulous verb.

    Glad to hear you’ll be heading off on retreat, though we’ll miss you here in the blogosphere 🙂

    Comment by Leah — July 17, 2007 @ 1:27 am

  5. I’ve never been shy about deadheading in my life, yet in my pregnancy I’ve been more avid. I also used to purchase a lot of stuff that felt good at the time but later became a nuisance, and I’ve stopped this practice. I find it liberating.

    I hope your retreat brings you the freshness you need.

    Comment by kathryn — July 17, 2007 @ 7:04 pm

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