The picture above is of my dad’s home office after I helped transform it for my mother. Now, it’s an elegant sitting room, a parlor, a reading nook. Whatever she wants it to be.
I wish I could have shown you the before picture.
My father had a long, successful career. At the height of his success, he was also very wealthy. His office reflected that. It was an out-picturing of his regal stoicism, his intellect, and the great pride he took in his work and his family. And his wife, my mother. The picture of my mother is actually the only thing that remains in this new space.
I always felt that my father blew it up because he was both proud to have a beautiful wife and that he loved my mother enormously. But the size of it, especially how big it seemed when I was young, made me feel like it was a trophy-wife type of expression. Ironically, this grand portrait of her in my father’s office was the only place where she was taking up space.
She never had her own space in the house. No particular area or room that was just hers. Over the years, and especially during my time helping my mom reorganize the house, I found that she had just started to store things in odd nooks and crannies. She filled corners, little crevices, drawers, and closets all over the house. It was her home too, but she existed like a mouse occupying someone else’s space.
How often to do we do this in our lives? We claim what we desire, but only enough of it and in such a way that we don’t rock the boat. We get clear on what we need, but we only ask for a comfortable amount of it. We exist in our lives enough to be palatable, likable, appropriate, and we store our true selves in secret places.
Someone might feel proud of the fact that they have given up eating meat but will hide it on a first date out of fear of being judged.
A lawyer might have a secret dream of becoming an illustrator for children’s books, but no one in their life even knows they like to draw.
What aspects of yourself have you hidden in little places throughout your life? What keeps you from owning every part of you and letting yourself be truly seen? When we own and integrate all parts of ourselves, we can begin living a purposeful life. We experience a life of real joy, presence, and fulfillment. We are no longer trying to be something for someone else, nor are we hiding who we truly are out of fear of being judged or rejected. We live an authentic life.
If you’re having a hard time nailing down exactly where or how you’re hiding, do what we did for my mother. Clean. Numerous scientific studies have shown that cleaning puts us into a meditative state, that it gives us a sense of control over our environment, and as our outward expression becomes tidy, so does our inner world. We notice things that we were unconsciously keeping tucked away, things we have been holding onto, and stuff that no longer has a purpose. It is incredible what you can discover and release during one afternoon of cleaning.
We’re not only in a brand new year but a brand new decade. This is a fresh start in more ways than one, and anytime we find ourselves in an energetically potent moment, we can harness it. In this instance, by decluttering our living and working spaces and, in so doing, tossing out the thoughts and beliefs that don’t serve us. After, we get to reclaim what has always been ours. We can take ownership of ourselves and our lives in a whole new way.
In regards to my mother, I helped her repurpose her grand portrait in a room that was also hers. A big, beautiful picture of her that hangs in her office. I wanted her to connect it in a way that helps her feel powerful. An undeniable reminder that this her space. A symbol of her newfound ownership. She is no longer living behind a man or playing dress-up in a man’s world. I wanted to help create space for her to discover herself and allow herself to be seen. To create an energy of newness and a clean slate.
What are you claiming this year? Where will you take full ownership? Whatever it is, stand tall and yell it out into the room you’re in. Throw your arms in the air and declare it!