“The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.”
If you were to travel back to 1976 and tell a little Debra she would one day choose to write a series of esssays about her love of Keeping House, she would think you’d lost your marbles. And the 1996 version of Debra – a harried young mother with two children under five – would appreciate a new dishwasher, but she could never have fathomed the best purchase of the fall of 2015 would have been a new vacuum cleaner.
Yet, here I am in 2016 writing a monthly love note around the concept that caring for my home nourishes my daily life, feeds my soul, and yes, fuels creative life.
During the process of planning and plotting here at Modern Creative Life, we envisioned a series of intimate letters and essays on Sundays. There is Sunday Brunch from Melissa and Becca will chime in with her Sunday Salon. And at first, I thought the idea of writing about the love of my vacuum cleaner or lamenting my nemesis dust would be silly.
Yet, to pretend that the status of my home environment doesn’t greatly impact my ability to create would be dishonest. Some people do their best work when times are tough and stressful; I do my best work when I feel safe. And, a clean home makes me feel both safe and loved.
My contribution to our Sunday conversations – Sunday Sanctuary – was born.
The concept of Keeping House isn’t new to me, yet it’s something I’ve always struggled with. I’ve never been a naturally organized person, yet I am at my happiest and most productive when my surroundings are neat and tidy.
That is the conundrum for not just me, but many creative people I talk with. Creative genius leads to a messy environment and the messiness distracts us from creating.
To be honest, though, when I first read the Trixie Belden books as a child, I envied Trixie her chores. Trixie was paid $5 a week to help her Moms around the house. Of course, I also envied Trixie her adventures and her friends, but I also envied her having Helen Belden (aka Moms) living an example of how caring for home and hearth equaled love.
Deep down, my intuition was on to something. Moms understood that the efficient running of a home meant that everyone was in a better position to pursue their dreams.
My mother never got on board with an allowance for chores. She suggested I just keep my room clean, and I never could. My solution to a messy bedroom in my childhood was shoving stuff under the bed. Frustrated with my lack of tidiness, she Did It Herself. When I had a house of my own at the tender age of 19, every aspect of caring for a home felt foreign: I didn’t know how to clean, cook, or do laundry.
As I approach my 48th birthday, I can tell you that my skills have come a long way. I get laundry, though I still don’t iron. I love spending time in the kitchen. I strive for a tidy home because it leads to productive days.
Maybe I connected to Trixie and Moms because deep down my soul understood that in order to be my best creative self, I needed to live in a clean and organized home so that I felt free, safe, and loved. It doesn’t come easy to me, but keeping my home neat and tidy means I have a sanctuary where I can create.
About the Author: Debra Smouse
Debra Smouse is a self-admitted Tarnished Southern Belle, life coach, and author of Create a Life You Love: Straightforward Wisdom for Creating the Life of Your Dreams. She resides in Dayton, Ohio where she practices the art of living with the Man of Her Dreams. When she’s not vacuuming her couch, you’ll find her reading or plotting when she can play her next round of golf. She’s the Editor in Chief here at Modern Creative Life. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.