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The Basement That Could Never Be Clean

This post was written by Angela
on August 31, 2011 | Comments (3)

I’ve come to recognize my internal signal for when things in my life are temporary. Sure, everything in life is temporary, but some more so than others. My gauge is when I find myself asking, “How long is this going to last?” Sometimes my asking is positive (as in, how long do I get to hang on to this?) and sometimes it’s negative (how long do Io have to do this for?). Whatever the case, if this thought pops up involuntarily and repeatedly, I know I am working on some level to change the situation or outside influences are about to alter my circumstances. This has been the case for my home, but first, the back-story:

In the beginning of 2008 my husband and I bought a house that had gone into foreclosure. It had been trashed, but I’ve always been a sucker for the under-dog and my husband is literally Mr. Fix-It, so we dove into all efforts to give this house a whole lot of TLC. Along with family, we painted, patched, landscaped, reroofed, and in general gave the house a full surface remodel. Well, at least the upper portion. The basement was a future venture that we would get to as money allowed. After three and a half years it hadn’t allowed and had become a nest of cobwebs and “someday” dreams.

It also became a tangled mess of randomness. Don’t know what to do with that rug? Throw it on the pile among the old unused flower pots and box of unfiled papers. Have a stash of pool floating noodles? We don’t have a pool and don’t go to the lake, but maybe one day we’ll need them again; stick them in the back of the holiday decorations in the unfinished bathroom.

After three and a half years of living in a house we love, our basement became nearly un-maneuverable. Since it is a walkout and our dog is let out the back to handle his business, there was usually a tiny walking path among the junk… just enough so you could get through, but only just enough so you didn’t kill yourself.

So what did this chronic basement clutter mean? Why was it virtually impossible for us to deal with it? Just thinking of putting things in order exhausted me to the point of passing out. Our excuses were unending. “It’s a winter project. We’ll do it when we’re stuck inside.” “It’s too cold to work in a basement during winter.” “We’ll do it on the weekend when we’re not so tired from work.” “We’ve worked all week! We deserve to have fun on the weekend.” Etc.

For years I have personally understood that the presentation of your living environment is a reflection of your inner environment. If you ever stop by while I am in a bought of stress you’d likly wonder if we’d been ransacked. My inner chaos cannot be contained and fuels outer chaos and a content breeding ground for my already existent stress. I was reminded of this theory by Tess Whitehurst in her book Magical Housekeeping. Right on page one she says, “When we look at our homes…we see that they are like extensions, or reflections, of our bodies, lives, and emotional landscapes. This is is an illustration of Hermes Trismegistus’s famous magical precept, “As above, so below.” Above, the seen and externally manifested world (our homes), and below, the unseen and internally manifested world (our thoughts, feelings, and experiences), are not only mirrors of each other, but they are also one and the same.”

I kept trying to figure out what the underlying issue was that lay among the basement heaps, but could never figure it out. What was hiding in my subconscious? What were we trying to bury in all that junk? Then this spring I found myself working 30 minutes from home instead of 10 minutes. That’s ok, I said. I could deal with that, though thoughts of Minnesota winters tugged at the back of my mind. Then came summer and we got the news that my husband’s job would be moving 60 minutes from home. That was a bit more of a sting. We struggled for a moment, I’ll admit I shed a few tears, and then we dove again into our work on the house knowing this time we were doing the changes for someone else.

In truth, I now realize that I had been asking myself that unrelenting question of our home: “How long will this last?” And it had been a question always loaded in sadness because I never wanted it to end. I saw so many people in a struggling economy and even though we weren’t struggling, I feared the thought of ending up back in an apartment. That fear had been my basement stumbling block. Why keep it nice or fix it up when there was that nagging feeling that it wasn’t going to be ours forever? Now I have no choice but to face it head on.

I have now shifted my attitude and imagine a new family moving into this saved house. They won’t have to put all the hard effort into it in order to live there. They can eat the apples off the tree and the strawberries out of the garden that didn’t used to grow around it. They can walk up the front step without twisting an ankle on caved in cement and can even enter the house without seeing down to the basement from a hole in the floor! They can love and play in it right from the start. I am happy for them, whoever they are.

I may not get to stay in this home, but it’s shown me what we can acomplish. Now that I’ve rid myself of the emotional and physical junk that had bogged me down (meaning I succeeded in cleaning the basement and even came to terms with the idea of returning to apartment life), I can finally put my energy toward dreaming of our next home and leave all that baggage behind.

How have you experienced outer manifestation of your inner happiness or turmoil? Has decluttering your home helped you in other areas of your life?

Make sure to check out Tess Whitehurst’s book, Magical Housekeeping!

Reader Comments

Written By Courtney Huber
on September 1st, 2011 @ 12:30 pm


What a wonderful post. Kudos to you and your husband for putting some much-needed TLC into a house that really needed it. Your description of the basement and obstacles to fixing it up really hit home (sorry for the pun!). I bought an 80+ year-old house last year. It wasn’t a foreclosure (although I looked at a couple of those poor, mistreated homes that broke my heart to see). I’m in the midst of doing a bathroom overhaul, while my damp and sadly messy basement waits for its turn.

But your post made me think of something else that’s related. When I was touring one foreclosed home, the energy felt so sad and heavy. Did you experience anything like that when you first toured your house, and if you did, did it bother you at all? The house I ended up buying had much “happier” energy, which was a very good thing. 🙂

Thanks for the great post!

Written By Angela
on September 1st, 2011 @ 12:59 pm

Courtney, yes! I did experience sad and heavy energy. My best example was the fact that it took 2 years before I would let me husband rearrange our bedroom a certain way. When I finally figured out it was because there was so much downer energy in one area, I cleared it and everything felt fine.

Overall, I did a lot of clearing work(which Tess also demonstrates in her book).In fact, my whole perception of the house fix-up was as much energetic as it was physical remodel. The house was seriously crying out for some happy energy and I feel like we were partly drawn to it because we could do something to help it, instead of someone else who might have just moved into the muck and both family and house would have suffered for it.

Good luck with your bathroom!

Written By Amanda
on September 13th, 2011 @ 9:04 am

What a great article. I’ve always viewed my home as a part of myself and have done my very best to treat the places we’ve lived as such. I do Spring and Fall clearing and cleaning and it always makes me feel better. When I house clean I direct energy at the same time and it’s just something I’ve always done. 🙂 My friends always comment on how safe and cozy my home feels, no matter where we’ve lived.

I totally know that feeling of having something overwhelming to do and not knowing where to start. It’s hard to overcome, but it is so good when we do.

Glad you have released that energy and are able to look forward to the future 🙂

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