Meaning in Drain Cleaning


I have made an amazing discovery! Cleaning the drain is an excellent personal growth exercise. So, what do drain cleaning and personal growth have in common? They could really almost be synonyms!

Recently, I noticed the drain in the bathroom sink was clogged. I noticed because the sink was filling up even though the plug wasn’t in. Then it would take a long time for the water to disappear. I looked down the drain. It was very dark and it looked sort of slimy; very unpleasant to say the least. It looked more like a job for my husband, but he was unavailable, so I found some tweezers and dug in.

What I pulled out was downright nasty. Chunks of gooey ooze that used to be nice things like soap and toothpaste. Of course, there was hair in there too. Sludge would be a great way to describe it. You get the picture. I really wished my husband could do this job so I didn’t have to be exposed to such grossness. Then I had a change of heart. I remembered the Vividly Woman practice of being able to find the meaning in any task. So I started thinking about the job I was doing and once I did so, it became rewarding. It actually felt really good to pull out those chunks of yuck. I placed the gobs in toilet paper, rolled them up and threw them away. Sometimes just a little chunk would come out and sometimes it would be a really big one, which became strangely satisfying.

On a superficial level, the meaning in this job was that we would soon have a functional drain again and our bathroom sink would be able to perform its duty as it once had. I was also doing something that expressed my love for my family. But even more than that, I was able to find meaning by comparing the drain cleaning to my own personal growth experience. In fact, it became the perfect metaphor.

First of all, it took a fairly significant event for me to notice that all was not well under the surface of the sink. I didn’t notice until the drain was almost completely clogged. The sink full of water was a big clue. Likewise, it took significant signs in my life to realize that not all was well under my happy exterior. At one momentous personal growth course, I discovered, to my shock, that I had mountains of repressed anger buried deep within me. They were choking off my ability to experience emotion.

Secondly, I wanted my husband to do the drain job for me because I knew it would be challenging and would threaten my love of pleasantness. Have you ever wished someone else could do the hard work for you? With personal growth, only I can do the excavation for myself. There is fear involved, but only beforehand. Once I get involved in the process, I actually love it. It was totally rewarding to pull out those big gobs of muck, just like it is to explore my shadowy side. After a really good cry or any other experience where stuck emotion gets to move, I feel amazing afterwards. And I work so much better, just like my drain!

As I persisted with the drain cleaning, I started to be able to see the original white surface of the plastic tube. That motivated me to clean all the sides so that the entire drain was back to its original cleanliness. So it goes with my personal inquiry. Once I get started, I feel very motivated to keep on getting in touch with the most authentic me. When my body is clogged with residue from unfelt emotions, it’s almost impossible to find my higher self. When I allow those emotions to move through me and when I can be the master of those emotions, rather than the victim, my access to my spirit is free to flow.

Finally, when I finished cleaning that drain, I felt enormously proud of myself, just like I do after deep personal inquiry. Both the drain and I were cleansed. Since then, I watch the drain more carefully and when I see signs of the muck, I clean it right away so the job is not so overwhelming or so gross. I am more attentive with myself too. I don’t let emotions pile up anymore. I give myself full permission to feel my emotions, even if, especially if they are unpleasant. It’s much easier dealing with them one by one than as a coagulation of black mire. Now whenever I use my bathroom sink, I’m grateful for its metaphor. It reminds me that life is about flow and feeling and that I’m powerful when I make the choice to be consciously aware (and that I can do “man jobs”).

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Planned Imperfection



I have an amazing painting at my house that is done in the encaustic style. Beeswax is melted and applied to the canvas and there is also some pigment. The artist must work quickly to work with the wax as it hardens. My painting is a black and white portrait of a woman gazing wistfully upward. It is extremely well done, almost perfect, save for one feature. The artist, Bigoudi, always lets some of the wax and paint drip down the canvas, on purpose. She told us that she lets this happen in all of her paintings, to remind us that life is imperfect and so is art and that it keeps us real, just like her paintings. I love that she is not striving for perfection, she is striving for art and beauty and story.

I was reminded of my painting today because of another experience. I have been trying out a new way of eating to see if I can “rearrange” some parts of me that have caused me grief for many years. The regime is quite strict and I was lamenting to my husband that I have lost my enthusiasm for it. I love nutrition and food and am always learning about what is on the cutting edge of information. I have experimented with many different styles of eating and tend to jump in with both feet, into wildly drastic change. Of course, I tire of the structure and abandon it when I feel too deprived. I have learned that feeling deprived is one of the worst ways I can feel. There is nothing juicy about deprivation!

So anyways, I was mentioning to my husband that I was feeling deprived and my enthusiasm was waning, even though I was seeing results after only two weeks. He replied that of course I felt this way, I was trying to do the shift “perfectly”. He suggested that if I were a little more lenient and gentle with myself that I would probaly feel better and less deprived. I have not been one for breaking many rules in my life, although I am learning that not all rules are good rules. So, the last few days, I have planned for some imperfection. Nothing really major, but just some little moments where I purposefully eat what I am not supposed to. So long Good Girl, I am having a blueberry today! How clandestine! You may laugh, and I do too, but it is actually a really big deal. I have never before planned for imperfection. It is really liberating.

Today I was at a health food store with my 7 year old daughter, Zoe, and there were samples out on the counter. I gave her a tiny piece of banana bread and then took a little forbidden square of pleasure for myself. My daughter raised an eyebrow and a big smile grew on her face. She declared, “Good for you Mommy!” She knew I had just broken a rule and that it was a big deal. She likes to follow the rules too, so I feel like I set a really good example today. Definitely not the original vision I had for myself when I was a new mother, but infinitely better and more powerful. I am teaching her that a little fun never hurt anyone, that being gentle with ourselves is a great investment and that planned imperfection can be really, really liberating.

I am so grateful for the lesson I learned from my gorgeous painting. The black drips run down the stark white canvas in places where they shouldn’t be. They are reminders that imperfection leads to deep, deep perfection within because when we accept ourselves for who we are and know that “I am enough”, life becomes infinitely beautiful and fun.

PS Although it pains me to do so, I left a spelling mistake in the 3rd paragraph, at my insightful husband’s suggestion.

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