My shower has one of those overhead tropical rain-shower heads. You know, the kind that looks like a giant flat silver cheese grater. I can’t say exactly why, but for a year now I’ve steadily observed the water’s flow each time I turn it on. Maybe because it’s a bit hypnotizing, watching the water fall directly down instead of in the traditional arch. Or maybe because I was seeing a subtle change I couldn’t quite name.

As months passed, the water’s flow transformed. More a transition, I think. From the steady familiar patter of the liquid back-up singer on an R. Carlos Nakai flute track into a more subtle mist-like rain blown in various directions, as if caught by a sudden breeze or rerouted by an immovable object. 

The other morning I opened the heavy frosted glass and silver shower door and one subtle stream spit directly in my face. 

Didn’t see that coming.

Over time, the water’s hardness clogged enough tiny holes with calcium deposits to make the ritual cleansing experience less than satisfying. The clogged shower head wasn’t a truly unexpected event, except for getting spat on first thing in the morning. 

A part of me had recognized something wasn’t quite right. I knew eventually I’d need to clean the shower head if I wanted my experience to change in a positive way.

Luckily, I had one of those handy dads growing up who was forever teaching me DIY tricks. My list of childhood chores included running cream of tartar through the coffee maker to clean stains and remove built up hard water scale. The chemical reaction cleaned out everything and anything that made the machine less efficient – making a much richer, more satisfying morning ritual. 

What’s the chemical reaction? According to the experts at The McGill Office for Science and Society in Canada, combining this mild acid with water activates carbon dioxide bubbles which loosen the accumulated gunk. Who knew?

Clearly, cleaning an overhead shower head on a closed plumbing system would be more challenging than simply injecting the cream of tartar solution into the pipes like I did the coffee pot. 

I needed a way to let the shower head soak. Finding a watertight plastic bag big enough to soak a dinner plate-sized shower head in mid-air wasn’t going to happen. I examined my other options while I showered and dressed. 

I dragged a short step ladder into the shower, climbed aboard and assessed what would be required to remove the shower head.

With my beloved steadying the ladder, I balanced on a little step in thin air, slowly rotating the shower head and learning new things in the process. “Ooh, it swivels,” I excitedly proclaimed, tilting the head to demonstrate. 

A gush of warm liquid poured straight inside the neckline of my tank top, flowing all the way down past the waistband of my sweatpants. I froze. My instinct to jump off the ladder to stop the flow was overridden by fear; the loose shower head might fall, damaging itself or the tile floor. 

I stood, in the moment, getting all wet and messy. And wondering. Was this situation really messy? Or was the “messy” part a cleansing? One necessary step in the process of improving my everyday life, moving forward something I had claimed I wanted, allowing my old patterns to be washed by the water and made new. 

What do you think? Tell me about the places where you welcome the “messing” in your life!