Regardless of whether the forecast is fully aware of it, it’s officially spring! Which means it’s also time for spring cleaning. Or, at least, around here it’s time for spring cleaning. I need to pull open all the windows and let the kittens sniff the fresh air while I pull apart both the house and the studio and ask what’s totally essential and what’s just a remnant of a warm winter nest. The process is always one that seems romantic at the start, like fresh hell throughout, and like such a wildly refreshing gift at the end. Spring cleaning is self care.
Like some of my favorite words, self care has been borrowed by marketing and now feels like a sour or limp thing to say — even though it’s still vastly important. (This list also includes ‘curate,’ ‘authentic,’ and a few others. Important? Yes. Overused? Mmmmyeah.) Grossly applied connotations aside, self care is anything that makes you better — anything that makes you more you.
I feel most like myself when my hands are caked with dirt from my garden. When I’m uprooting plants who never properly thrived and composting them to better tend to plants meant for the aeration and environment I can provide, my mind slows and my body moves through tasks methodically and knowingly before exhausting. During that time, I can think without stress, and I can plan without fear. I also get to run my hands over tiny saplings and tender succulents, and I feel like I’m one with nature more than I am one with invoices and spreadsheets.
Cleaning is the removal of what doesn’t make sense anymore and the tending to what still does. Spring cleaning is my annual giant refresher — whether I want to quit midway or not — to do the same with my life. It’s easy in gardening, and it’s easy in cleaning (there’s also typically music, so that really helps) and it’s noticeably less easy when it’s financial or relational or professional. Those areas, though, are the most important for honest self care. And the strain of them is probably why popular self care rituals are generally limited to cosmetics and yoga retreats.
Spring is about fresh air and being able to sleep with the windows open and shedding layers and watching new growth take bud. It only makes sense to step into the spirit of the season and afford yourself the same goodness on a personal level.
So, hop, skip, and jump beyond the bubble baths if those aren’t your jam. Write a budget that’ll mean you aren’t scrambling at the end of each month. Figure out which poet can make your skin light up with goosebumps the fastest (personal favorites include Mary Oliver, Pablo Coehlo, and Rumi). Dig in the garden. Step away from friendships that are no longer loving or healthy. Apologize for mistakes that ended old relationships too hastily. Take care of yourself, but do it on your terms and do it so you return to yourself. Spring clean, and know that the process is the roughest part, but the reward is the most refreshing gift.