The universe has a funny way of sending things your way, especially when you need it most...
The past few weeks have been very stressful for me- nothing out of the ordinary, just typical work-life balance struggles amplified by the presence of summer. Yes, I know... summer should be a relaxing, lazy time, but for the working mother, its really not. Summer is one of the most challenging times of the year for me. During the school year, I am grateful for the free babysitting from 8 to 3:30, but come summer, I find self desperately in search of the perfect camp that simultaneously provides daycare and some semblance of enrichment for my two daughters. At the same time, I would love for them to enjoy the luxury of slow, summer mornings lounging in their pajamas while watching a few of their favorite TV shows. For that to happen, I have to enlist the help of my retired mother who usually shows up at my doorstep grumbling about how she is too tired or too busy to come to my house at such an ungodly hour (though it's never earlier than 8:30). We often end up getting into an argument, and by the time I leave the house, I feel like I've committed a crime. Believe me, I've tried hiring nannies, but when you're neurotic like me, they don't last very long. Bottom line...summer is a season laden with guilt for me.
So this and a multitude of other situations were bringing me down when my sister mentioned she was reading a book called "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" during her week off from work. I didn't think much about it except for telling her, "My whole life needs a cleansing! I feel like I'm suffocating."
"You'd love this book!" she told me. But by the time we hung up on each other, I couldn't even remember the name of it.
When I drive to work, I usually listen to audiobooks using an app that allows me to borrow them from our local library. For the past several months, none of the books had been particularly stimulating or insightful. In fact, a few times I was forced to switch over to the local radio station in order to stop from falling asleep at the wheel.
A few days after my conversation with my sister, a title spontaneously appeared on my recommended list that instantly caught my eye. It was the book my sister had been talking about! I immediately quit the uninteresting book I was listening to, and started hearing what Marie Kondo, the author, had to say.
Over the last week, I have been listening to Marie's advice on to how tidy up, and I can tell you her words are magical. I haven't started implementing her techniques with regards to cleaning my house yet, but what she suggests doing has already started the process of healing my mind. Her techniques which she calls the KonMari method are simple and sweet: (1) get your clutter out in the open so that you come face to face with it; (2) keep only the things that resonate with the person you are today; and (3) let go of everything else so that what are you left with brings only joy.
Of course, in my world, everything has a way of coming back to the kidneys. The technique of getting everything out in the open and then sorting through the mess to keep what we need and discard what we do not is the way our blood is cleaned. Our kidneys have been tidying up our bodies the KonMari way all along!
Each kidney is made up of a million functional units called nephrons. Simply, a nephron is made of a ball-like sieve called a glomerulus and a tube which loops down and then up and terminates as a long collecting duct. Almost 180 liters of blood are filtered by the glomerulus each day. The filtered fluid is called filtrate and contains water, electrolytes, small amounts of proteins, sugars, urea, creatinine, uric acid in similar composition to blood plasma.
Not everything that is filtered is discarded. Even for the kidney, it is easier to get everything out in the open before sorting through it. The filtrate makes its way through the ascending and descending loops of the tube and then through the collecting duct. Along the way, what the body needs and does not need is sorted and only the substances which gives our blood joy and vitality are reclaimed by various cells lining the tube. The final product, urine, is ultimately discarded, leaving our blood cleansed and revitalized.
Because tidying up occurs continuously and daily, almost 99% of what is filtered by the kidneys is then reclaimed. Of the 180 liters of blood filtered everyday, only 1.5 liters gets discarded daily. This is a sharp contrast to what Marie Kondo finds with most of her clients. Most people discard a large portion of their accumulated possessions. They find that most things they own do not spark joy and that they can do without many of them. In our practical lives, we do a thorough overhaul of our houses maybe only once or twice a year, sometimes even less than that, so we have much to discard in each session. If we lived our lives like healthy kidneys, tidying-up daily, we would avoid accumulating too many things, have less to discard at one time, and find ourselves surrounded by what we love on a more regular basis.
Kidney disease occurs when tidying up becomes inefficient, causing toxins to accumulate. Likewise, when we avoiding cleaning our surroundings on a regular basis, our possessions pile up and our living space becomes toxic. After awhile, the space starts to feel stagnant, deplete of energy, and sick. That is why tidying up is an essential function of our lives. Once we realize this, we can truly experience the life changing magic of tidying up.
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