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  • Emily Hankins

Eden is Just an Arm's Reach Away


Or...

How an off handed comment turned into a weekend of truth.



“Let's do a major clean out of the kids rooms this weekend,” my husband said offhandedly.

“Great idea!” I said, all aglow. I imagined us sitting together in their upstairs bedrooms, thanking each of their belongings, asking what sparks joy, and what does not.

Obviously, we too, have been hypnotized by Marie Kondo’s new Netflix show “Tidying Up”

So Saturday afternoon, I sat down on the floor of my daughters room. We quickly moved through her toys.

“Does this spark joy?”

Yes, Joy.

No joy.

Yes, Joy.

No Joy.

No.

No.

No.

This girl was ruthless and decisive. We had several large garbage bags filled in no time.

Out with the old. In with the new “Big Girl Bed.”

On Sunday I sat down with my other child. This child’s room was bigger and messier.

“Does this spark joy?”

Yes, Joy.

Yes, Joy.

Yes, Joy

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

Um…

“How about this arm off a broken action figure?” I asked, trying to keep the exasperation out of my voice.

“Yes! It sparks joy!” my child said lovingly.

“I think this might part of a toy from a fast food Kids’ Meal.” I reasoned.

“Yes! I got that from the time I went to Burger King with my friend! It sparks so much joy.”

Eyebrow raise.

Hmm...

I don’t remember this happening to Marie. What happens when EVERYTHING sparks joy?



What happens when EVERYTHING sparks joy?


“Ok. Sure,” I told myself. “We can just get creative with our storage solutions.”

Deep breath.

He slowly and lovingly picked up each individual piece and worshiped it’s shape with his fingers, inspecting it and then placing it gently into the bin with the other pieces of joy.

“Ok,” I said impatiently, “Let move more quickly. One, two. One, two. Pick it up, put it in. One, two. One, two.”

“Mom, you are going to fast. I’m going as fast as a I can. I feel like you are saying I can’t do anything,” He cried.

Sigh.

Patience.

Lord, give me patience.

We slowly chipped away at the iceberg of mess; an iceberg that could have sunk the titanic. This mess might even sink Marie Kondo!

This child had been promised a carrot in the form of a new set of sheets, but by 3:00 we were both ready to quit for the day. The thought of coming back tomorrow to finish was too much to bare, so we pushed through.

I was growing more grumpy by the minute, and of course my child could sense my frustration.

“We don’t need to get new sheets today, mommy. I’ll be ok without them.” said my little caregiver, trying to fix my feelings.

“No! We are going to get this done!” I exclaimed a little to harshly. Somewhere, in a very tidy house, Marie was shaking her head.

“We are going to go to Target. We are going to get new sheets,” I muttered to myself.

My carrot was target.

I imagined myself wandering the aisles of Target, abundance and beauty at every turn.

But my child’s whining snapped me back to reality.

We plowed on until 5:00 when all the toys were sorted, all the papers disposed of, all the sanity was drained out of my head.

Among the debris we found foreign coins, plastic play money, clumps of black dog hair (from our dog that died a year ago), loose single staples, an old spring, moldy chocolate chips, broken erasers, teething toys, and a nipple from a baby bottle.

As I disposed of the shoebox of flotsam and jetsam that “did not bring joy,” I took a deep breath of winter air. It was dark out, but we were finally headed to Target.

As the red doors opened before us, we were greeted by the carefully staged beauty and abundance.

My Eden.

My child picked out white sheets with navy blue cacti.

I gathered items as we wheeled the rounded red cart through the isles. I reached for bagels, frozen entrees, a Swiffer mop, storage bins and non-scratch pan scrubbers, a candle, a decorative cup, an Instant Pot, and a few other things that I “needed.” It was all right there, ready for the picking. Just an arm's reach away.

My last pick was an impulse buy from a cash register end cap - emoji peanut butter cups.

When we reached the car with our loot, we sat in the dark eating those emojis. I gave kiddo 3, the rest disappeared before we got home. I had eaten them all in a frenzy. I don’t think I had even tasted them.

What just happened?

Why had I done that? What was that about?



The day - no, the whole weekend - had been a perfect storm.

I was mentally exhausted. All that sorting. All those little decisions. My mind hurt.

I was physically exhausted. A million trips up and down the stairs, sitting on the floor, lugging plastic tubs of joy-giving objects and garbage bags (and one shoebox) full of non-joy-giving items. My body hurt.

I was emotionally exhausted. Not only had I gone through patience and perseverance boot camp, but I had faced a combination of all my biggest triggers. Scarcity, shame, perfectionism, abandonment. My soul hurt.

I was desperate for an escape.

Hello Target.

Hello Sugar.

Hello Peanut Butter Cups.

Goodbye stress.

We all have our vices. We all seek refuge from the pain. Life is full of hard things. There are so many brain boggling, body busting, soul & heartbreaking moments.

We deal with our different journeys in different ways. Some of the ways we cope are healthy, some unhealthy, and some are downright destructive. Some of our coping mechanisms are great in moderation, but can turn against us if used as a crutch or as a constant, yet fleeting, escape.

Therapy, exercise, sleep, TV, social media, reading, shopping, food, caffeine, chocolate, sugar, alcohol, pot, meth, coke, porn, sex, just to name a few.


My drugs of choice?

  1. Shopping. Specifically at Target.

  2. Sugar. Specifically Peanut Butter cups. More specifically Reese's Eggs.

Shopping and Sugar provide me a chance to escape.

And addictions do this.

I fly back to the innocence, the peace, the beauty of the Garden of Eden. The bliss is temporary. A quick knock at the gates.

When Adam and Eve chose to eat the apple, they chose knowledge, understanding and consciousness. They sought and gained power.

But, as Uncle Ben said in Spider Man, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

I am stuck with the power and responsibility of consciousness and with the hard things - sometimes seemingly unbearable things - that come with being human and living life.

I am stuck with the power and responsibility of consciousness and with the hard things - sometimes seemingly unbearable things - that come with being human and living life.

That means dealing with my issues.

That means feeling my feelings.


Thanks Adam and Eve. Sheesh.


When I feel the desire to run back to bliss, run away from consciousness, run to Eden and indulge in my vices and addictions, I must face the responsibility of humanity and ask, “What is not being tended to?”


If I am tired I must rest.

If I find myself hungry, I must seek nourishment.

If I am hurt mentally, physically, emotionally, I must heal.


Society makes it easy to forget this.


I eat, but do I nourish?

I sleep, but do I rest?

I hurt, but do I heal?


I work more and more. I plan more and more. I do more and more. How do I ensure that I don't forget to take care of myself?

C.S. Lewis said “Homemaking is surely in reality the most important work in the world. What do ships, railways, mines, cars, government exist for except that people may be fed, warmed, and safe in their own homes? The homemaker’s job is one for which all others exist.”


“Homemaking is surely in reality the most important work in the world. What do ships, railways, mines, cars, government exist for except that people may be fed, warmed, and safe in their own homes? The homemaker’s job is one for which all others exist.” -C.S. Lewis

I am not a stay-at-home-mom. I am a working mom. I will never be a housewife. Been there. Tried that.

When I read this quote, it spoke to me of the importance of ‘taking care,' and being the homemaker of my own body, mind and spirit. I must not forget to be “fed, warmed and safe”. There is no other job or purpose greater than that. I must put self care first.

In the case of an emergency, I must place the yellow oxygen mask over my own mouth and nose first.

Not the kids, not the husband, not the job, not the birthday party. On ME.

As society forgets the importance homemaking and taking care of basic needs, we move farther and farther away from true peace and knowing.

I can not have peace when I am depleted. So I increasingly reach for a quick refuge. A glimpse of Eden.

If I truly tend my garden, listen to my body, listen to my emotions, take responsibility for my whole self, I could find a state of true and divine bliss. In that way, the gates of the Garden of Eden might slowly become open again.


Now, when I spot the Reese's Eggs out of the corner of my eye, I try and ask myself "What is not being tended to?" and "Why am I seeking an escape?" I try and remind myself that, "I am my own homemaker and I can tend to my deepest needs first."


Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes I end up with the yellow bag of eggs in my cart, because I am human.



What are your mental, physical, and emotional triggers that send you in search of Eden?

In which behaviors do you find momentary peace? (we ALL have them)

How can you tend to your true self?

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© 2018 Emily & Evelynn