When I first moved to Jamaica I washed our clothes by hand. We lived in a small rental and the landlords would not permit us to own a washing machine. We finally purchased one and were unable to use or even plug it in. It sat on our veranda gathering dust and feeling superfluous for months. You can imagine the immense relief I felt when we moved into a rental that allowed us to have and run our washing machine (in the house no less). It made my life light years easier. Since that very day, I have washed the majority of our wardrobe in the machine.
Once the clothes have been washed and spin cycle completed. They need to dry. Dryers are a rare commodity in Jamaica (perhaps because sunshine is not) and for most garments, sun will suffice. But pinning the clothes is a hefty task and commands a surprising amount of time, strength and energy. Needless to say, once I had the washing machine I no longer dreaded washing the laundry. I promptly shifted my focus to a different domestic grievance. Pinning out the clothes, uggggghhhhh.
In those early days it all seemed so cumbersome and confining. Especially the line. Initially, I dreaded the task of pinning the collars, arms and waists of our family wardrobe, the onesees, the bibs, the diapers, etc. Believe me when I tell you, I procrastinated a lot and wished that I had someone to manage the doldrums of domestic dailies.
What I should have wished was that I could find a way to enjoy the process a little bit more. It would have saved me some hardship to alter my perceptions about such things. Who knew I could and would come to love the simple and natural chore of pinning my family’s clothes on the line. Something in me has transformed. And believe it or not, for a couple of years now, this line is one of the domestic tasks that I look forward to. Yet another opportunity to commune with nature. Sunrise and sunset inna fi wi (our) yard is goldenly silent. And although I periodically hear goats, birds and the occasional Jamaican sound system in the distance I cherish the quiet.
Remembering how things used to be, I am surprised by the discovery that years later I have accepted my domestic fate. I’ve created little line games to play that involve counting pins and the like. I take deep breaths and meditate, radiate positivity when I’m out there with our wet clothes. I pretend I am a super shero and feel strong and gratified when I hoist up the line with the big stick. It is a simple joy to me. And somehow I feel a comaraderie with women all over the world. I know they are doing the same thing…
There is an ancestral connection in the flaxen, sparkle of morning and evening chores. Hearts in our hands. Women have been hanging clothes for generations upon generations and I am proud to be a part of the inner laundry sanctum. In the greater scheme of things, there is something profoundly rewarding about pinning each and every marina, blouse, skirt and pair of pants on the line with my own, loving hands. My mother and mother in law and grandmothers, have all been stain masters in their own time. If they can’t remove a stain, it can’t be done. They have handed down the ways to me and blessed my hands with the ability. I am grateful.
So, a pleasant reminder to you. When things get to be too much this busy season, take minute, do some simple laundry, wipe the floor, give thanks for your capable hands. It will ground you. I promise. Routine provides opportunity for meditation and clarity, some would say prayer. As for the chores you most dislike, perhaps, there’s a way you might think about these tasks differently? It really is a choice. You can dread domestics or you can find a way to embrace some positive aspect of the dailies. Either way, the laundry has to get done!
How might you transform or be transformed by your least favorite chores?
One Love, walk good, need to do some laundry… 😉