One of the most helpful concepts my therapy has touched on has been the idea of “making space” before getting started on your work, whether that work is of the physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual realm.
The very basic example my therapist first gave was of pushing all the furniture to the sides of a room before starting on a really big project. Making space before engaging in our work not only allows us to spread out comfortably, it also gives us a chance to take stock of things and see what we have to work with before beginning. And although this is a concept we’ve spoken of quite a bit, only in the last few months has it percolated through my mind enough to result in ways of making space occur to me organically, and tending to them has made an enormous impact in my life.
The first was deciding earlier this year that I was finally ready to let go of the four remaining embryos we created when undergoing the IVF in 2011 that resulted in our precious wee folk. This decision was a long time coming, as I really thought I wanted ALL THE BABIES. But as the months and then years marched on in my new life as a mama, I became less and less stoked on the idea of undergoing IVF again–this time with two littles at home to care for during the arduous process–let alone the thought of being pregnant again and then actually adding another little to our brood. Perhaps things would have been different if we hadn’t struggled with infertility for years or started off with a two-pack of adorable progeny, but although The Barbarian and I always wanted a big family, over the past year, I have finally come to realize I don’t want any more children.
And again, maybe if things were different, if we were wealthy or not struggling with mental health issues, that wouldn’t be the case. But at some point you have to come to terms with the reality you have, not the reality you might wish for, and so, one night in mid-January, I woke in the wee hours and knew I was ready to let them go. Just knowing they were out there, frozen, waiting in stasis, a potentiality, was holding a piece of me enthralled, using up precious energy I need for other, more immediate things. And the proverbial weight that was lifted with that decision had an immediate and enormous impact that came from knowing I made the best decision for myself and my family at this point in our lives. Making a decision of that magnitude with zero regrets is an extraordinarily empowering feeling.
The Barbarian, ever supportive, readily agreed, and so those potential babies, the ones we worked SO hard to create, have been donated to science in the hopes they might in some infinitesimal way make a positive impact on humanity at large. And I am fully, wholly, and completely at peace with it. Not running through the mental exercise every now and then of how and when we might be able to add to our family has given me the emotional and mental capacity to begin focusing on what comes next, and it’s been a very, very good thing.
The second instance of making space resulting in a net positive in my life in recent days seems slightly insignificant in comparison to the first example, but the result has made an enormous difference in my daily life and really speaks to the practical, physical side of making space.
I rearranged my kitchen.
See? Doesn’t quite grab you like the other, does it? However, it was actually a really powerful breakthrough for me and, by extension, my family.
To back up a bit, when we bought this house a year ago, the kitchen, having just been remodeled, was a huge selling point for me, as my kitchen is my happy place. And with mostly new appliances, new (white) cabinets, a huge new stainless steel sink, and gorgeously spacious granite counters, even though the kitchen is removed from the family room, is located in the front of the house, and isn’t particularly sunny (none are my ideal), I could see myself being very, very happy in this new happy place. And because I will damn well put an island in any except the narrowest of galley kitchens, I headed to IKEA right away to buy what I had determined was the perfect sized island cart. And I fucking LOVE my island cart. It has a white wooden frame, two stainless steel shelves, a butcher block top, and came at IKEA prices.
I. Love. It.
Since our kitchen is not a pass-through kitchen, the island created a somewhat narrow rectangular roundabout along the u-shaped counters, a path that was constantly filling up with small humans and their various accoutrements like step-stools and toys, as well as the ever-present dogs, of course, and I found myself becoming my mom in my constant exasperated refrain of, “Just get OUT of the KITCHEN!” (Love you, Mama!) And eventually I just stopped wanting to go into the kitchen myself. It felt cramped and full and not at all where I wanted to be, and the prominent stacks of dirty dishes were ever present to prove it.
But it never occurred to me the island was the problem–until I moved it on a whim and the effect was immediate and AWESOME. It’s so spacious and open in the kitchen now with room for me to still maneuver by as the kids dance in the middle of the floor. It also opened up the requisite configuration of efficient kitchens, the sink, stove, and fridge making an easily traversed triangle. And being that the island was located in front of the only window that gets sun (and only in the afternoon, at that), moving it actually brightened up the whole room, as the light now shines past the space previously taken up by the island and bounces off the shiny, lighter hardwood floors.
And it solved more than just the flow problem in the kitchen, as the island became the answer to my desire for shelving under my wall-mounted pot rack near the kitchen table instead of the wee folk’s wee folk-sized table and stool set, which I realized totally answered our need for an outdoor set for them for the deck, because honestly, who needs two tables right next to each other in the kitchen anyway?
So, there you have it.
Making space for awesomeness is good for what ails you.