I have a confession: I enjoy puttering about the house. I like rearranging pictures, plants, furniture, what-nots and bric-a-brac. It gives me a sense of accomplishment to take a messy laundry room and turn it into a gleaming space emptied of its contents waiting to be washed and ironed – although ironing is not something I personally like to do.
Holidays find me looking about for appropriate decorations to splash around, bringing the outside in and reminding us all of the season. Right now, it is spring and Easter. The cats turned over my hand blown Easter egg tree, shattering it. So I have found little birds’ nests and tiny speckled eggs. They seem to deliver the right message.
Mirrors that sparkle exude a sense of well-being, as does a tall stack of fluffy towels and a ringless tub. Decadence seems the appropriate description of champagne flutes and scented candles waiting on the ledge of the jacuzzi. Add a pillow and a good book, and I can soak until shriveled.
I enjoy walking around the grounds outside of my house, seeing what is blooming or in distress, filling the bird feeder, snatching a weed from the flower bed. In the summer, I’ll go outside first thing in the morning and pick fresh flowers to arrange or a bouquet of herbs to use all week. Then I like to have coffee outside, witnessing the day give birth to all of its creations.
I suppose this is true for most writers. Frost liked his woods, Hemingway devoured the everyday experiences of life and presented them for the world to savor. Where I have to use caution, is in the time consuming nothingness that leaves me full of regret at the end of the day. Although a little puttering can be conducive to creativity – the rote activities clearing a bogged mind and letting itself work on a plot unconsciously – too much of it drain the day away.
Julia Cameron advises writers to spend time outside every day. But I think this holds merit for anyone. Need to work out a personal problem? Go for a walk, trying not to think about the situation that has been bothering you. Seeking a solution for a dilemma, pull weeds. And on days when you can’t be outside, putter inside. Rearrange the pantry, clean out the freezer, align your shoe closet.
Good ideas present themselves when we get out of the way and just them form naturally. Perhaps it is the quieting of the dominate side of our brains, giving the opposite half a chance to be heard. Perhaps it is like finding our favorite sandals beneath a boot box, unearthed by a different activity than frantically searching for them – I can always find the right word the instant I stop looking for it!
Puttering puts my house in order and eases my mind. It promises a good night’s rest on crispy, fresh sheets that smell like lavender. And hopefully, leaves me with several new ideas for writing and life.