It has been an another long stretch since I last wrote anything for this blog. Two years really. I never meant to drop it, life just happened. Mostly I’ve been doing dishes, and holding a baby, and well some laundry, sweeping, oh and lots and lots of picking things up from one place and putting them down somewhere else. Not too unusual I’m pretty sure that lots of readers can identify with this. Our little girl Elora came into the world nearly 26 months ago already. She is the sweetest smelling whirlwind and has grown into a master mess maker. As it is with so many of us parents, upon her arrival Rachel Cruse the artist went to sit on a dusty shelf so that Rachel the mother could do what needed to be done.
Now at long last the winds have been lessening in intensity and showing hints of change. It seems more and more likely that in the coming weeks and months my paintbrushes will once again know the sensation of being dipped in those creamy paint colours. I have been itching to get back to the canvas, back to painting, writing, crafting, just all of it. It’ll probably be slow, 30 minutes here and there eventually adding up to something. This blog is a part of that new start.
Recently (and before that) l have been sitting in a stunned kind of disbelief at the seemingly endless onslaught of bad news in the world these days. I question my daily activities wondering how best to proceed, hoping to be part of the solution, feeling bad that I have yet to make a significant contribution towards world peace and climate stabilization. Fretting about what I a busy mother of limited resources could possibly do to make it better, to heal such big gaping wounds in our collective conscious. Wondering if all my attempts at optimism, my efforts to meditate on life’s infinite beauty are after all just futile symptoms of a deep denial.
But then this past week I saw something that brought me back home, rather unpleasantly, to a truth I already knew. Honestly I was shaken up pretty badly --what I saw was what should have been an empty house (without sharing details I was asked to go rescue a small pet). Instead this house was filled with denial, pain, anger, and self pity. And it was the messiest house I have ever seen in my life. To be fair I’m sure there are far worse out there, but I hope to never see one.
Now this house is recently vacated, in a hurry, and clearly done with no love or concern for whoever was going to have to clean it all up. There was at least a full moving van full of trashed and abandoned belongings strewn about in heaps, mixed in with garbage, broken stuff etc… It was in every room, every closet, every corner, across the floors, against the walls, everywhere. There were layers of sticky grunge on counters and furniture, the fridge was full of rotten food, and oozing black mould. Every room displayed ill conceived half finished reno projects, some walls were smashed the crumbled drywall and dust all over the floor. Here and there you could see glimpses of good intentions, and the signs of a family that loved one another despite difficult circumstances. But in the end what they left behind was a frightening, filthy mess. A flea infested, frightening, filthy mess.
I was only there for 5 minutes. As I left, frantically scratching my ankles and attempting to brush away an army of ravenous fleas from my shoes and pant legs, I was struck by a thought. I saw that what I had seen inside that house had a whole lot in common with what I am seeing happen on a more global scale. People are not cleaning up after themselves, on so many levels. People are blaming others for their difficult circumstances, they are not looking after their belongings, and they are using and wasting far more stuff then they really need to.
What happens in our homes reflects out into the world. How can anybody possibly hope to fix the worlds co-created problems if they have not first attended to their own homes, circumstances, & families. The homes we live in are our own personal manifestations of health, happiness, and wellbeing for ourselves and our families. What we individually manifest at home, is what we are capable of co-creating with others on a greater scale in our communities.
This truth that I already knew but needed to be reminded of, was that my tedious daily acts of washing dishes, sweeping and picking up the same things of the floor over and over (and teaching my children to do the same); these things rightly are my first order of business. Despite those alluring social media posts touting so temptingly things like “Art before dishes” and making a virtue out of the idea of a messy house, I have learned this week that the best thing I can do for the world right now is to keep on cleaning up the messes in my immediate surroundings. I'm making the world a (slightly) better place by creating a happy, healthy, simple home. One that is not necessarily Pinterest worthy, but that nurtures the lives and souls of the family living within it. This is the first (and possibly hardest) thing I must do if I hope to help heal the world. For now my life as an artist will be one that is pieced together one brush stroke at a time, in-between chores.
-I am a feminist.
-I am not a clean freak, I’m not even particularly organized. I don’t much like cleaning up after other people.
-I am not advocating casting aside life's creative passions in favour of obsessive dusting. I don’t think a showroom house is healthy either.
-As a mother of 3 (toddler & teenagers) a larger allocation of my time is necessary just to keep things from going all to hell. If you are not in that situation by all means create first, you probably only have a few dishes to wash anyway. Just as long as you actually do them eventually.
-I still think it is okay to go to that big political/climate rally if your chores are not done.
-Hugging a tree first will leave you energized and make housework go much quicker :)