The 5 Spot: Spring Cleaning

Bouquets of hopeful snowbells peek up through the earth by the side of my house, and as the daylight hours begin to lengthen, I can glimpse spring’s arrival on the horizon. My pulse is beginning its annual quickening, awakening from its winter hibernation. And along with it, I feel the urge to clean out all the dust that gathered in winter’s dark corners.

Here are five ways to throw open the doors and let the spring energy flow, through home and workspace, body and spirit.

  1. Check out my new favorite book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by the Japanese organizing expert, Marie Kondo (available at BookPeople in Moscow). The very first step toward greater flow, she says, is to get rid of all the excess. Her criteria for deciding what to keep and what to discard is simple (simplified further here for brevity): If it sparks joy in you, keep it. If it doesn’t, pass it along. Her books provide step-by-step instructions and if you follow all the way through, you’ll not only be able to see the surface of your kitchen counter and your desk again, you’ll also have a home filled with objects you love. The resulting uplift is a great way to move into spring.
  2. Where to send those no-longer-loved items? This column has in the past suggested donations to any of our local charities or thrift stores. Choose the one(s) that most resonate with you, where you think the objects would get greatest use.
  3. Moderate exercise. According to Chinese medicine, in spring, the liver wakes up, and it can use a little support to get the qi (or life force) flowing again. Moderate exercise helps, like walking outside for 30 to 45 minutes a day, or digging in the dirt to prepare your garden plot. Take your children for a hike at a favorite spot, and challenge them to find five signs of spring. Then soak your tired feet in warm water before bed, another way to support the free and easy flow of your energy. Stay well-clothed, though: wait until summer arrives to kick off your shoes and toss away your long pants in favor of shorts. If you like t’ai chi and qigong, try this easy Liver Purification Qigong on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrjrUOAGVtM.
  4. A serious bout of good, old-fashioned housecleaning – without the toxins! All you need is some white vinegar and citrus peels. Citrus peels contain D-limonene, an oil that is a powerful solvent for dirt and grease. Soak the peels in vinegar, letting the mixture sit for two to four weeks, then remove the peels. Add a pile of rags and you’re ready to clean the whole house! Use baking soda to scrub hard-to-remove grime. And, if you want some help, hire one of our local green housecleaning services, such as Sacred Green Cleaning, LLC, which has been cleaning area homes with non-toxic products since 2008 (sacredgreencleaning@aol.com), or Clean Green Organic Cleaning Services, a Co-op Business Partner.
  5. Align your diet with the new season. In winter we eat dense, warming foods, which satisfy the body’s need to burn more fuel to keep warm but can also bog down our digestion. As spring comes on, it’s a good idea to begin to lighten up our diet. You may still want warm foods like soups and stews, but cut back on the creams and heavy starches and quantities of meat. Add a little sweet flavor to help your liver keep the qi flowing, but avoid too much sour flavor and spicy food. Here’s to clearing the way for spring’s warmth and light!