For about five years, I've been making my own laundry soap, well, minus the past 6 months or so. I felt so passionately about laundry soap that I sold it for a while. I marketed it like crazy, and I was making decent money, until....I stopped.
It wasn't that hard to manage or make the soap, and the buyers were loving it, all except one person.
That one piece of negative feedback was enough to send me spiraling. "I shouldn't be doing this." "Now no one is going to purchase from me." "I might as well give up."
So I did.
99% equaled failure.
About 18 months ago we moved. It was a huge adjustment, and I went through a period of just not feeling safe or energized enough to be me or to do what I do. I bought things to fill myself up. I forgot my connection to my body. I told my soul to just be quiet already and let me be.
During this time of adjustment I hated every part of my surroundings, the ugly gnarly black squirrels, the smallishness of the town in so many ways, not to mention the sheer volume of sweatpants on every corner . . .
Even doing laundry here was different. No matter what I tried, my homemade soap would not clean our clothes well. After a while I got tired of fighting with our water. I found a laundry detergent I liked and went with that.
Then, one day with visions of toxin laden grey water leaking into our eco-system dancing in my head, I open the container of homemade soap that I had thrust in frustration into the back of the bathroom closet, and what did I see? Laundry soap....with the teeniest little bit of actual soap in the mix.
I grate my soap, you see, from these giant bars of clean olive oil soap that a lady made for me, and it takes some energy. I remember trying everything last summer to get this soap to work...except for what took more energy...the actual soap.
I got to work and grated an appropriate amount of soap into the mix, ran a load, and, Surprise, actually clean, good smelling clothes.
This got me thinking, as most things do...there are so many areas where I felt stuck in the grime for the longest time. I applied so many avenues of effort, devised plans and schemes, added all the ingredients, and still, the outcome I wanted (clear vision and purpose) didn't come. Maybe I had been missing the most important ingredient, the soul-soap.
So what is the soul-soap?
Well, regular soap works on tiny particles of dirt in our clothes like it works on a ring stuck on a swollen finger. It creates a slippery surface on the unwanted stuff allowing it to flow away more easily.
There was a lot of unwanted internal junk floating around inside of me. I did everything I knew to do. I reasoned. I studied. I prayed and pleaded. I stretched my mind. I read books and blogs.
I explored who I wanted to really be and took steps to get there....but the junk remained, and I grew more and more frustrated, then more and more hopeless.
Why wasn't my junk washing away??
I had exhausted all my resources, and there I was, still feeling broken.
Looking back I can see that my habit of giving up at the first sign of discouragement and my lack of success in getting unstuck from the grunge are deeply related.
They shared a grand-daddy. His name is Fear.
I was traveling through the world as a disappointed idealist who wanted to be something different. I would let my spirit see truth for minutes at a time, then I would wrap myself up in cynicism to feel protected. I'd been hurt a lot. I didn't want to open myself up to anything or anyone completely. I was tiptoeing around the parameters of my psyche, terrified of what I would see if I stepped inside unarmed.
I had this ingrained belief that it wasn't safe for me to show myself anywhere, even to my own mind, that I was broken and unworthy of my calling.
The irony is that I didn't find out that I was carrying this fear around until I summoned up all of my courage and took the journey within to see what the heck was going on.
I had amazing support from Tara Wagner at The Organic Sister. If you're feeling stuck, I'd highly recommend her as a personal coach. It's the best investment I've made in myself to date. Way more useful than college.
Once I'd faced my deep fears, it unlocked the soap I'd been looking for, the one that could encapsulate the grime and cause it to wash away from my inner workings with the rinse water.
It is the willingness to Allow.
What happened when I faced my fears was that I could finally see myself without the fear, without the misled beliefs and ideas getting in the way. I had always thought that the soul-soap would be some type of ideology, some magic button that I'd find if I just tried hard enough, but there is no such button or ideology.
There is only a constant treasure hunt in which the treasure is our unbridled spirit-self who is a small part of that great Mystery and is always ready to guide us to the work we're called to do.
There is a whole host of aid at the ready, most of which resides right inside you, just waiting for you to be ready, for you to say GO.
Allowing becomes possible when we are able to embrace Trust, to lean into it, and to know that everything is going to be alright.
To get to Allowing, we must trust that the world can hold all that is going on inside of us.
We must trust that Providence does not make mistakes, and that we were born with a purpose that is necessary to realize. No second guessing. No selling yourself short.
We must trust that it is safe, that we will survive what we will see when our past is excavated before our eyes, no matter what it is.
We must trust that we are strong enough, wise enough, and intelligent enough to handle whatever mess is laid before us.
We must trust that we are not alone in our struggle.
When you move from resisting (or coping) to allowing, it has a similar effect to putting more soap in the washing machine. All this time you've been washing and washing and washing without the agent that can carry the grime away, so scrub as you will, the dirt isn't removed it's just moved around.
With a little soap, though, the junk comes out, and comes out quickly, and that is a journey in and of itself. Releasing. While this is happening it is so important to nurture yourself, and soothe yourself in any which way, reminding and encouraging yourself along the way, "There is something extraordinary on the other side of this."
And there is.
It's an uncompromised you.
Wanna chat? Send me a message on the contact page!
Just a sweet, simple reminder and acknowledgement for all of us who are visiting our families this week:
Families are complicated.
Even in the good ones.
So love them as best you can, but be sure to tend to your boundaries.
For those of you who are visiting people who have abused, betrayed, abandoned, robbed, manipulated, misunderstood, or broken you...
I am right there with you.
You are not alone. Not really.
Love yourself. Do not allow anyone to steal your joy, to knock you off your center, or to leave you feeling like you are less than the beautiful gift to the world that you are.
But if that happens, don't despair. Remember that the truth about you remains constant even when confronted by people who choose to see you as less, flawed, rebellious, unfit, weird, infuriating, confused, failing, stupid, foolish, or just all around not enough.
Live your truth. Love yourself. And if worse comes to worse; bless them with all the love you can muster, conjure up all the peace you can, and then the heck get out of there.
Anyone who needs a little pick me up after the festivities can contact me for a hearty pep talk. I'm good at that. (Contact info is on the contact page.)
I might need one, too.
Here's hoping we all have have unexpectedly beautiful Thanksgivings!
P.S. This is really me talking to myself. I've got the holiday jitters. ;)
Anna Turner is the woman behind Little Hearth. She's an ordained interfaith minister, a writer, a believer in purposeful living and healing, a perpetual student, and a full time feminist mother.