I grew up in a work-hard kind of family. When My parents purchased the home we grew up in it was a beautiful mess of chipped paint, creaky floors and caved in kitchen ceiling. They knew it would take work. I remember the Summer they painted the white house with green shutters to a pale yellow with tan shutters. I had a bucket of hot vinegar water and a scrub brush to remove dirt from the exterior. It was an early Saturday morning and imperative we start because the house needed time to dry before they applied the primer. I didn't understand then, why they didn't just paint the house yellow, it was, after all, already white and that would have been so much easier. I understand now that the prep work was part of the project. Each following Summer my parents pulled out the yellow paint and refreshed one side of the house to preserve the wood. They didn't have to back track and re-scrape or prime, they just had to maintain.
I'm sure that's where I got my perspective on the work of life. Take a leap with me, let's say my soul is the house, and in the last 8 years or so I've been doing "prep" work to prepare for the updating of my life. There has been a lot of work. Hours spent pondering my choices, decisions, and actions. Months practicing, changing my thinking, shifting my responses. Getting and accepting feedback from people then doing it all over again.
The longer my parents lived in our home, the more work we invested, the more beauty came out. The gardens took shape, the closets got makeovers, the single bathroom turned into a single and a half. The dungeon went from spider infested wet hole to cozy family space, then got a recording studio for my brother, then changed to an office for my mom. The yellow paint did it's job to protect the exterior and the prep work kept going.
There isn't a right way to prepare a home, some people start with freshly painted houses and already stained wood floors. My parents could have done all the preparing of the house and moved us in when it was perfected. They could have moved us in and done no work, it was a beautiful home already. They could have done all the work at one time instead of spread out over 16 years. What they did was prepare the home as we lived in it, as it grew and as we grew. We never finished preparing that house because we were always growing and they were always growing.
I've been doing that with my soul. Getting to know it and listening to it. Trusting it and making mistakes. Getting feedback and doing it all over again. It's work, rigorous work. It's prepared me to fall in love. To let go of hurt and people. To open my heart for more love, more friends, more family. To lean heavily on the act of service as a way to learn about myself.
When I started the prep work of my soul, I had no idea what I was exactly prepping for, I still don't. I don't have the handbook on how to prepare for big decisions or change. I don't know what the next part of my path is: homeowner? mother? traveler? teacher? Just like we scraped and primed the house so it would take paint better, I've been simplifying my possessions, honing in on my homemaking, learning more about my health, studying more about leadership, and spending less money. I don't know if all this prepping will even leave me prepared. I have a strong feeling that no matter how much preparing I do I will never be fully ready, and I will never be fully perfected. Just like the yellow house, I am always growing and prepping my soul is a way to make room for what's next. So that's what I am doing, maintaining what's changed so I am able to support what comes, holding lightly onto what is, and living open for what's to come.