A 48-hour disappearance into the depths of my studio was finally interrupted late yesterday by a well-meaning friend. He peered in to find me on hands and knees wiping out the lowest shelves with damp paper towels.

“Jeez. Still at it?”

I swiveled and growled like a rabid dog, sweat pouring down, hair plastered, eyes raccooned by melted mascara. “I can’t stop now. This is important. This is soulwork” He faded without a word.

Panting, disheveled, covered in cobwebs, I sat back on my heels. WTF? Why did this reorganization seem like a matter of life and death? Taking a swig of ice water, I collapsed on the floor. Presently, it came to me why it was––and is––such a big deal.

Periodically tearing apart and reorganizing my studio, office, closets, garage or kitchen is an uber soul-cleanse. It forces me to see and physically touch every tool and material I own. It affords me a chance to reflect on how and why I acquired them; to remember what I’d hoped and planned to do with them; to recall what creative forays had been imagined. To reflect whether they’d been realized, and if not, why not?


Work Reorg Ink Drawing_cropped
Susan Dworski

I muse on my failings and successes; paths dreamt of and not taken. Those twinkly pink crystals I once found so charming seem embarrassing now, whereas the odd, olive tube beads appear strangely alluring. Time passes, skills evolve. One’s eye for beauty or significance shifts in unexpected ways. Trusty Rapiograph pens, stalwart pals for dozens of years, lie dusty and clogged, replaced by newer, throwaway technololgy. My cherished Japanese watercolor brush pens, absolute musts, are now endangered, only available online. They must be husbanded with care; when they’re gone, they’re gone forever.

Work Reorg BW Drawing
Susan Dworski

These periodic reorganizations feed my soul.

Unlike invisible software, realworld tools and materials for artmaking/cooking/gardening are repositories for memory, and they’re imbued with great power. For they hold out the promise of exciting new possiblities ready to manifest in my hands. Handling, cleaning, and polishing my pots, pans, spatulas, spoons and knives, stones, metal, fabric, paint, paper, yarn, soldering iron, needle, thread, bodkin, crochet hook, ink jars, scissors, x-acto knife,hammer, pliers, paper, pen, glue pot, sponge, brush, ruler, and rolls of masking tape, allows me to slow down and bask in memory, taking my own sweet time to relive and reassess the past, to give thanks for the good, to let go of the bad, to laugh at the mistakes––to recharge creativity.

The hand knows, the heart remembers, the future beckons. Try the master cleanse. Your soul will thank you for it.

Susan Dworski

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4 replies on “Reorganization as Soul Cleanse

  1. Thanks for this, Susan. It resonates deeply with me. The “master cleanse” is akin to moving house — the work of touching every thing you own, deciding its fate and place wakes up the pathways of our creative soul. And like moving, we can start anew, again, to form a better way of living and doing in the world.

  2. I echo with my heartfelt thanks, Susan. There’s something about this time of year, too, that brings on the need for the soul cleanse. I’ve been (and still will be for a few weeks) buried in squirrel behavior…. canning, dehydrating, freezing, cooking, and putting it all away against the winter. It’s a seasonal compulsion, that seems to get stronger every year! And I love getting out the canning tools, some of which I’ve been using for 40 years, and reconnecting with their steadfast utility. My Foley mill was my mother’s, who was born in 1909 and used it all the years of her adult life that I spent with her. My kitchen/preserving tools are as important to me as my art-making tools, and hold as many powerful memories and dreams. As always, your observations make me smile…. and reflect!

  3. Jeanne –

    My thanks for your thoughtful comment on the importance of soul cleansing.
    I want to share with you another thoughtful piece on a similar subject that ran in the New Yorker recently about the demise of CDs, in case you missed it:


    I do believe that the death of analog is not quite so immanent as we have been led to believe.


    no, not a Luddite, but a passionate lover of the real


  4. ” the tyranny of objects ” resonates with
    this cleanse

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