Living Arts Weekly: Glass Houses

March 13, 2022

This week’s blog post comes from author and early childhood educator, Judy Frizlen:

When I was a child, we used to say, “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”. It’s a catchy reminder that when we call attention to others’ flaws, they may point out ours. Not to forget, we all have flaws so maybe we should just focus on our own and stop pointing fingers.

This old saying was common in the 1960’s and it made sense, a kind of sense that seems to have disappeared from our public discourse. Repeating phrases were like this were a drip, drip, drip method of teaching truths to children and they worked.

At about ten-years-old, I starting dreaming of living in a glass house. Although I like modern architecture which involves a lot of glass, I did not mean it literally. I was inspired by the old saying.

I was dreaming of being the same person at home unseen as the publicly seen one. In other words, to take off my mask and be my authentic self in the world. Or said the other way, to be as kind and caring to those at home as I was toward those I encountered outside.

It boils down to transparency, and vulnerability. If we are the same wherever we are, it is easy in a way, though not always comfortable. We don’t have to don a mask before going out. There’s nothing to hide. No need for walls to conceal what goes on inside our homes – even evidence of our flaws. We live in a sea of humanity.

Why does that matter? it matters because accepting ourselves is how we move toward realizing our human potential. When we accept ourselves as human beings who have flaws as well as gifts, just like everyone else, we can then release the flaws and use the gifts.

As a child, I remember noticing that adults have a social persona and an at-home one. It was a startling observation and one I have gone on to know firsthand. I still strive to be the same inside and outside of my home with varying degrees of success.

To learn the authenticity that I craved since childhood, I needed a role model to emulate. I had one in my grandmother. She was who she was wherever we saw her – both outside and inside of her home – even the morning we went to tell her that grandpa had died.

I will never forget that day when I accompanied my father, their minister, and my uncle to her house to bear the news. Grandpa had been in the hospital and was nearly ninety years old, so it was not a big surprise, but after over 65 years of marriage, it was still a shock. What did she do?

She sat in her chair, raised a hand to her forehead and sighed with grief. Then she continued being her elegant, self-contained, and caring self. A sovereign entity, strong, grounded and centered. Even experiencing grief did not throw her off; nor did she hide how she felt.

This time of year, while anticipating celebrations of Spring, we often prepare by cleaning our homes. Certainly, if we live in a glass house, cleaning is key because the inside may be on public view. In my modern home, yes I do live in a modern home, I have the windows cleaned in spring so the sun shines in during the coming months.

But beyond cleaning our homes, there may be clutter in our minds and souls that needs cleaning out. It’s a good time of year for inner cleansing. It’s that mental clutter, unresolved feelings and thoughts that get stimulated or stirred up by those closest to us when we are at home.

Soul-cleansing takes more time than house-cleaning, time to ponder, to allow things to emerge and to change habits of thinking, feeling and doing. I like to do my house-cleaning before delving deep into soul work. There are questions I have found helpful in addressing soul clutter. I ask them one at a time with an open mind and wait for answers to emerge.

Spring Soul – cleansing questions:

  1. Am I present to feelings connected to what is happening inside and outside of my home? Avoidance or denying reality does not change anything, but reduces the ability to respond. Knowing and accepting reality is foundational and may involve sitting with uncomfortable feelings.
  2. Is there anyone I need to forgive? Resentments are like swallowing poison and expecting it to harm the other person.
  3. Is there anywhere I have been holding back my authentic self in order to please others, prove something, or to hide anything? If what is inside is not expressed, it festers or withers like grapes on the vine.
  4. Can I be kinder and gentler in any area of my life? In the rush and goal-orientation of modern living, it can be easy to forget kindness.
  5. Am I living my destiny, contributing what is mine to do in the world? There is only one you who has been given the things you have to do.

Pondering these questions, one at a time, I see what resonates with me and choose an action step. It could be any of these: to accept what is, to forgive someone, to not hold back our self-expression, to be kinder and gentler, to contribute to the world what we are meant to do.

Choose at least one of these action steps as your spring soul cleanse, knowing it will refresh your heart and mind. They are linked – forgiveness, love, authenticity, kindness, gentleness, contribution and acceptance are woven together in our higher selves. And they involve vulnerability.

After winter’s hibernation and an extended period of isolation, we are preparing to re-emerge, to live an unmasked life. When we clean out our souls, we can bring our higher selves into a world that sorely needs our autheniticy, contribution, kindess and love. We may need to let go of a belief, a story or a fear to do so, so take it slow. I like slogans to stay on track. This one is based on a ten-year-old’s dreams.

I strive to live courageously, unmasked as in a glass house – a sovereign entity, whole and complete, fulfilling my purpose and destiny.

You can visit Judy’s website here.