Oh, 2020. There are so many important big picture issues rightfully vying for our attention. It’s easy to focus on all the things wrong with the world and feel like it’s falling apart. This year has been heart-wrenching and narrative-shifting and life-changing for us all, no matter where we live or what our daily lives look like.
But right now, I want to zoom in a little. I want to go smaller, more micro…into our souls, our homes, our living rooms. How are those things looking in 2020?
Back in July, yes 7 months into the year, I decided on my “word of the year.” The fact that it took me that long to choose a word shows just how much of a prime candidate I was for reading Anne Bogel’s newest book, Don’t Overthink It, in which I found this quote:
“What if instead of wasting our time overthinking, we focused on the good we might do? Small destructions add up—but so do acts of renewal. What if we sought out these small acts of reclamation? How great might the ripple effect be for our families, our communities, our world?”
As soon as I read that paragraph towards the end of the book, I knew I’d found my word.
It jumped out at me, and now I’m seeing it everywhere. We’ve lost a lot this year. It’s time to reclaim some of what’s been lost.
A few weeks ago, I went outside first thing in the morning to pull a ton of weeds and grass runners around the base of the 100 feet of zinnias I planted back in early spring. In late summer, the flowers were starting to look exhausted, leggy and scraggly, and the runner grasses were trying to completely take over the row. I feel ya, flowers. They were the perfect analogy for the exhaustion we’re all feeling.
As I began to rip out the grasses and weeds and free my rainbow zinnias from their captivity, I felt empowered. I felt more free. I realized I was saying “RECLAIM” in my head with every rip.
Reclaim, reclaim, reclaim.
Around the same time as my zinnia-freeing party, I found myself deep-cleaning my bedroom like there was no tomorrow. On an ordinary September weekday, I’d finally had enough of the random desk shoved next to the closet door that I was scooting around several times a day and the piles of paperwork and layers of dust on all the surfaces. Moving the random, unused desk out of the room was the catalyst.
I wiped down the ceiling fan, window sills, windows. I decluttered surfaces and put sentimental items from my girls in a special folder in a drawer or hung the latest on the wall. I found a permanent spot for my essential oil diffuser and filled it with Purify oil. I took down all the hanging plants and gave them a good watering in the claw-foot tub. I moved a leather chair over 3 feet from the corner of our bedroom to under a window, and it literally changed the entire room.
I cleaned behind and under everything, and Lord have mercy. If you haven’t done this lately in your bedroom where you should be the most relaxed and peaceful, I highly recommend it.
In the process of reclaiming my bedroom, I realized that the way I was treating it—neglecting it—was the way I was treating myself. I was so swept up in all the hard decisions and debates and opinions this crazy year has brought that I was allowing the smallest, truest parts of my daily life to be choked out by weeds.
By reclaiming the state of my bedroom from chaos to the haven it should be, I was reclaiming kindness to myself.
“Reclamation” infers that there is something that needs to be brought back under cultivation. Something that is under our stewardship, which I believe is given to us by God. Peace. Freedom. Joy. The honor and privilege of planting and growing and beautifying.
I would argue that there are no “small” acts of reclamation. Every bit matters and counts. But we definitely see the cost of letting things go too far for too long…
The longer we leave things untamed that need to be tamed, the worse it gets. The runners and weeds around my rainbow zinnias were so bad that they completely covered the landscape fabric walking path that I had laid down. I could no longer see the path.
So I ripped those weeds out.
My plants can breathe again. I can breathe again.
Here are some other ways I’m experiencing reclamation lately….
As an organic farmer, I have the privilege of doing my part to reclaim and redeem the land with every act I do on the farm, even the hardest ones—taming the weeds that bite back, pushing through discouraging days when I feel aimless and exhausted, poring over growing plans and financials.
This year, I’ve also been writing my first book, something I’ve dreamt of doing since I was a girl. It’s time to reclaim the true parts of myself that have been dormant—the unafraid person I was before people-pleasing, before caution, before insecurity.
I use my voice and resources to speak up for orphans and the estimated 40 million people who are currently trapped in modern-day slavery. I do what I can to help reclaim freedom for them.
As an enneagram 9, I’m learning to reclaim my own opinions and desires. What do I actually want for my life and relationships, aside from what others want for me?
Reclamation takes active work. It also implies that we have a right to something that’s always been ours. And we do. As children of God, we have a right to live freely.
How about you? I’d like to encourage you to reclaim it now. Whatever “it” is…
Boundary lines around your family’s time.
Your children’s childhood.
Your own voice.
The dirt in your own backyard.
Your bedroom as a haven.
Your home as a place of peace and freedom.
There’s so much we can’t control right now, but there are many things we can, in a good, healthy way. We have agency, and what we reclaim on that micro level—our souls, our homes, our living rooms—flows outward as we have more to offer the world.