I was contrasting my parents’ different upbringing: my father’s wealthy but austere early years, and my mother’s, which was full of love and song though her parents were poor.

In my mother’s modest childhood, there was always plenty to go around, she said, because everyone shared what little they had (“we were in and out of each other’s houses”) and “we didn’t want much.”

And though my mother loves her home with all her heart, she is not that great a housekeeper…big smile. “Oh, the dishes can wait,” was one of her favourite cheery saying. My father washes up, haha, because it winds him up.

This hangs in her sunny, warmth-filled kitchen to remind her of her happy heritage:



One historical figure who fascinates me deeply is Shams Tabrizi ( (1185–1248). By accounts, he was something of a wild madman, an itinerant traveller, a free spirit, a provocative thinker and the teacher of the great teacher Rumi.

Before Shams came along, Rumi was well-known and well-respected, holding a position of influence in his town. But Shams, with his wild ways, changed Rumi profoundly and irrevocably. He brought pain and estrangement to Rumi and his family, but he was the catalyst that forced Rumi to rethink his teachings.

Shams visited taverns in town and drank with the drunkards; he also visited the brothel because he had befriended the prostitutes. He goaded Rumi into going to a tavern to buy alcohol for him, which was forbidden by religion.

“The real dirt is not outside, but inside, in our hearts. We can wash all stains with water. The only one we can’t remove is the grudge and the bad intentions sticking to our hearts.”

Shams Tabrizi

In yoga philosophy the word sauca, which means cleanliness, is one of the main tenets of this path. We have to be clean to find enlightenment.  But what is clean? Indeed, there are many things that we consider dirty, but according to Shams, the real dirt is what that is in our hearts.

The dirt that we obsess over are actually good for health in the long run, as researchers say.

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You can read the article here.

So relax, chill. It doesn’t matter if your house is messy. It doesn’t matter if there are unwashed dishes in the kitchen sink and dust on the shelves. It doesn’t matter if the floor is not 100% clean. And most of all, it doesn’t matter if there are muddy small footprints or paw prints in your house. These are all the hallmarks of a family life well-lived and of shared happiness. I wrote about this many months ago: Of Happy Homes and Wonky Vegetables and Of small, dirty English houses.


Main photo: looking for something under the bed of my younger brother’s bedroom. Yeah, my Ma is not the perfect housekeeper but she is a very warm and loving homemaker ❤