“When a glance is not enough…”

By on July 10, 2014
dusting wand used to clean

By Clara Jones –

“My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance”. —Erma Bombeck

Living is messy. Just like in our homes things get dirty, broken, misplaced or even lost. Disasters and disruptions to a smooth running order arrive when neither expected nor welcome, while all along dust never stops gathering. I don’t know whether you are house-proud, or a bit of a free-spirit as far as housework goes, or somewhere in between.

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There is another question on my mind – how about “Your” house?

Rumer Godden mentions in one of her books that “there is an Indian proverb or axiom that says that everyone is a house with four rooms, a physical, a mental, an emotional, and a spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time but unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person.” These words, when I first read them, captured my imagination and became the foundation for my coaching work. But let’s carry on with the question I’m asking. Keep it in mind as we are about to engage in a different kind of house cleaning. I’d like to invite you to come with me and spend a moment in each of the four rooms and reflect on what’s there.

Physical Room
This is our physical self, our body. Most of us are in the habit of taking our bodies for granted as there isn’t much they can’t cope with, especially during our younger years. By mid-life though we begin to encounter endless surprises when the recovery from late or broken nights takes longer than it used to, when multitasking takes a double toll on our ability to think straight, when I am sure there are different changes for each of us that we are still learning to accept. At times however we still choose to ignore the facts and push harder, in our futile efforts to keep up with our younger selves. It is time to stop and consult with our bodies.

  • Has my body already been trying to tell me something?
  • Does it feel loved and accepted, or neglected, or even abused? How? Why?
  • Does it feel comfortable to live within my body? Or has it become a heavy burden to carry around?
  • Do I feed and water my body with wholesome fuel? Or do I expect it to run on chemicals, empty calories, processed foods?
  • What does it crave? Movement? Sleep? Touch? Nature? Fresh air?
  • Where is it in pain or discomfort?
  • Do I give consideration to my body’s environment? Is it nurturing or depleting?
  • Do I expect my body to function well under all conditions, demanding it always ‘blooms where it gets planted’?
  • In what ways am currently attending to the physical room? How much time do I spend there? What needs are asking for my attention?

Mental Room
This is where our minds reside. Our thinking and our imagination operate from here. Like with our bodies, we often let our minds just be, not only underestimating their power, but also being oblivious to their needs. It’s time to listen.

  • Has my mind already been trying to tell me something?
  • What is my self-talk like? Is it positive, affirming, supportive? What kinds of emotions, sensations, actions does it produce?
  • What does my mind’s diet consist of? Pre-digested and inconsequential facts and ideas or solid and varied substance that promotes growth?
  • Do I overload my mind with multitasking or information?
  • In what ways do I use my imagination?
  • What does my mind crave? An occasional shutting down? Stretching? Challenging? De-cluttering? A change of diet?
  • In what ways am I currently attending to the mental room? How much time do I spend there? What needs are asking for my attention?

Emotional Room
At mid-life we are likely to have accumulated quite an assortment of emotional experiences. Their content, attended to or not, has played a big part in our becoming who we are today. Yet, so often we play our emotions down, forgetting that ‘our biography becomes our biology’. Let’s stop and allow ourselves to feel.

  • Have my emotions already been trying to tell me something?
  • What’s happening in this room? Is it full of boxes I dare not open?
  • Am I aware of my emotions? Or am I so out of touch with them I don’t even know how to identify them?
  • What do my emotions need? Acknowledging? Expressing? Validating? Addressing?
  • In what ways am I currently attending to the emotional room? How much time do I spend there? What needs are asking for my attention?

Spiritual Room
This is where it all begins. And ends. This is where it all holds together. Our core, our center our spirit form and dwell here. This is our foundation. Our engine-room. Our meaning-making workroom. When neglected we might just as well sit and watch the fabric of our life disintegrate before our eyes, no matter how much time and effort we put into attending the other three rooms. It is here that we ask the big questions of life -Who am? Do I matter? Where am I going? What is my purpose? How am I to live? And it is here that we forge our answers.

  • Have my spirit, have my life already been trying to tell me something?
  • Do I pay any attention to this room at all or do I ignore it?
  • Do I live authentically and with integrity?
  • Do I know my values? Are they reflected in the choices I make, relationships and activities I pursue?
  • Am I at peace? With myself, others, God?
  • Have I acknowledged my story? Do I know who I am?
  • Do I tend to my passions, dreams and aspirations?
  • Do I know my destination? Am I keeping ‘on course’?
  • In what ways am I currently attending to the spiritual room? How much time do I spend there? What needs are asking for my attention?

This is your invitation to attend to the house of your life and to do some serious housekeeping. What better season than now, in mid-life to tend to your house? Out with the old and in with the new, my grandmother used to say. There is time to keep, and time to throw away, time to take stock of what’s in your house and plan for the future.

The best is yet to be. Start here. Start today. But remember, “a glance is not enough”.


Clara Jones is a coach, facilitator, photographer and writer based in UK and passionate about equipping women to integrate self-nurture into their lives. You can find out more about her work at www.4roomsliving.co.uk and in the meantime why not book a complementary session ‘Opening the door to self-nurture’ or sign-up for a monthly “Niceletter” with creative self-nurture strategies.

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“When a glance is not enough…”