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The art of Unstuffing

For some reason, Thursdays are usually a peaceful time for me. Especially in the morning.

I have no idea why.

I’m able to relax a bit, although there is no shortage of things to do around here. I come home from my early morning errands and think I’ll get started on the long list of projects that await my attention.



The porch swing opens her wide arms, offering me respite in the comfort of her big red pillows.

There might be a cat there, with an ear the needs scratched.

The sounds of a dove envelops me in a moment of zen-like breath.

For a few minutes on a Thursday morning, I just exist.

Sometimes, although I’ll admit today wasn’t one of them, I’m even able to turn off my phone and just be.

Eventually, on my peaceful porch swing, I do have to come to some sense of what to do next.

And today, that thing was the next right thing.

“Next right thing” is something you learn in addiction recovery. When you’re trying to figure out how to live without the substance you thought kept you alive, it’s a little like walking on air. You’re not sure where to put your foot as nothing feels as it should. So, you just take the next step. The next right thing. You work moment-to- moment until you’re used to your new reality and then maybe you work hour-to-hour or day-to-day until you are strong enough to walk anywhere your path takes you.

Today, writing is the next right thing.

Or the next “write” thing….hahaha.

I have a lovely office.

My computer is big and bright so I can see well.

The room is warm and rose-colored with a big blue chair to sit in when I don’t have it covered with project piles.

It’s in an old house about the equivalent of a city block away from my main house. We use this as a guest house when needed, but mostly it’s my studio. It is quiet and welcoming.

Well, I guess I should say I am working on it being more welcoming. For many years I just stuffed things in here. Things I didn’t want to deal with for a variety of reasons. In the last 6-9 months or so, I’ve been trying to un-stuff.

I pulled everything out of my office. It was like Christmas – all sorts of items I’d forgotten were here. I could tell when I started stuffing. About 10 years ago, maybe 11. My marriage was a little shaky. My mom died.

I stuffed. I piled. In my office. In my sewing room. In the kitchen. In my mouth. In my heart.

I think I stuffed and piled to try to fill up the holes in my heart and in my soul. The breaks and the cracks that I didn’t allow love to fill. I tried to mend them with pretty paper and scrapbook supplies, fabric I never cut, appliances I didn’t need and food I didn’t really want to consume.

Lots of food.

And then, oneday last fall, I realized I didn’t need to stuff.

So I started unstuffing.

In my head I figured it would take me a month to get my office organized so I can use it.

It’s taken far longer and that’s ok. It took me more than a decade to fill it.

I realized that stuffing my feelings down with food didn’t serve any one, especially me.

Hating myself for not fitting into some societal standard of physical success also serves no one.

My body, like my office, is this amazing, comfortable and peaceful vessel. But I have to love and embrace it.

So while I threw away old papers and sorted pictures and repaired scratches on my desk, I also peeled away the band aids of self-loathing and threw out the notions of what others thought I should be and how I should look.

What I’ve found as I’ve unstuffed is a freedom that I can’t even explain. It is breathtaking. I can move freely in my creative space to do the work I love.

I can move about in my body and do what I need to do to take care of me – not what others think I should do to take care of me.

On a beautiful late summer Thursday, I’m thankful for this freedom and for space and for feeling unstuffed.

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