by Ellen Santistevan
This year has been a puzzling one for people who like to live by the seasons. In the spring and summer, normally a time of outward expansion, we were being encouraged to stay home and stay in, due to the pandemic. (I find it difficult to stay indoors in the best of times, so I put my energies into my garden. Judging by all the people buying plants at the hardware stores, a lot of others had the same urges.)
And now that it actually is time to start drawing ourselves inward for the winter months, everyone is so bored from being cooped up that they are bursting out in groups and parties, heedless of the spread of the virus. It could make you feel despairing, wondering if we will ever get through it! But there is always reason for hope. The passage of time is a constant, and changes are inevitable with time. We always have opportunities for help and hope. Every life has blessings in it, even as we have to train ourselves to see them sometimes.
Like so many others, my business was closed for public health reasons for several months. On the one hand, it was a real blessing to really rest and to have time to assess my priorities and actions going forward. On the other hand, I had to get creative in how to continue my mission with people, to help them “Let Go and Be Free.” On the bodywork side of my life, I have begun to work with visceral mobilization, which takes “going inwards” to a new level of awareness in your body. Most of us have internal scarring from surgeries, accidents, or illnesses, and these can cause distortions in even our skeletal frame. Visceral mobilization can help free you from noxious feedback loops between your organs and your brain, which feels extremely liberating. I want to bring this work to as many people as possible, and so I have established a sliding scale for my practice.
But because so few people seem ready to return to close-contact, intimate settings like a bodywork practice, no matter how Covid-safe it is, I also now offer a service called “Döstädning”, translated to “Swedish Death Cleaning”. Not too many people in America have heard of this, and despite the name, Death cleaning is not sad. It is a way for you to make peace with your home and your belongings, to decide what to keep and what to let go of.
Death cleaning is not about mopping and dusting. It is about organization and priorities. It is about taking care of things yourself so someone else doesn’t have to do it later. Death cleaning is not fast. It is thoughtful and considerate to yourself as well as to all you have accumulated in your lifetime. And Death cleaning is not just about things. It is about the story of your life. It is about feelings and memories. It is about letting you be honest with yourself. Death cleaning is not about shedding everything you own in order to live a minimalist lifestyle. It is about your comfort and enjoyment of your own life, your space, your home; what you choose to surround yourself with and what you can comfortably manage.
Death cleaning is about taking care of yourself.
Death cleaning is about your comfort.
Death cleaning is about your own values.
Death cleaning is about affirming your own life and your own story.
Death cleaning can help you keep what you treasure, find meaning and memory, and know the worth of what you choose to keep with you.
In this season, I hope to see people learning to treasure what is really good and important in their lives, keeping safe, and keeping love for all of the earth and its wonderful expression in our hearts and minds as caring stewards for our planet, our neighbors, our families, and ourselves.