These days, my mental health is inexorably linked to packing boxes. The more pieces of my life I seal in cardboard, the better I feel. Although our moving date is a solid month away, it makes me feel like a 3-year-old waiting for her birthday party. “Twenty-three days ’til the Big Move!” I shout in a nervous, off-Broadway sort of voice to no one in particular.

I’ve actually had to encourage my family members to remind me from time to time to sit quietly and focus on my breathing. My anxiety about our cross-country move spans a physical-spiritual-mental-emotional plane in my being, and as the big day gets closer, its largeness looms, well, larger each day.

All I see is flagrant consumerismThe enormity of packing a house that has lodged seven people for the last nine years is beyond draining, on all levels. When I get stuck in the intensely physical side of packing, all I see is flagrant consumerism where the daily maintenance of things like clothing and feeding my family should be.

While I am in this head space, dust takes on the persona of all that I dislike about myself, hissing at me from behind books I didn’t even know we had. It stares me down, triple-dog-daring me to disrupt its residence. Inevitably, I do, and in defiance the dust seeks shelter in my eyes and nostrils—clouding my vision and dulling my senses.

Pencils with chewed-off erasers, invitations to bar mitzvahs we never attended, a guitar I never make time to play, high-grade jigsaw puzzles with just one piece missing, top sheets without matching bottoms, old school art projects with varying degrees of sentimentality and an obscene number of hair rubber bands remind me how disorganized and inefficient I often allow my life to be. There seems to be no limit to the random things that have to be sorted through and weeded out. My absolute power to decide the fate of these things is downright daunting. Decisions about the value of a defiant humidifier or a particular vacuum-cleaner attachment or a half-full bottle of almond oil add clutter to my already cluttered head, and I begin to wonder why we even embarked on this move in the first place.

But every so often, I choose to see things differently. There are mornings when the baby takes a nice, long nap, and I really start grooving on the domestic front. When I’m really into the mode of cramming cartons, I can see my progress unfold. At these times, the physical packing takes on a pseudo-spirituality that makes me love moving. In this head space, I see each sealed box as a completion—a closure in this chapter of us and an opening of the next. Closed boxes confirm that we have lived and that we have impacted. Closed boxes represent “the worthy” of the material things among us, elevated and esteemed guests with a private invitation to our new home, and I am the judicious gatekeeper who decides who is on the A-list. I love the power in this.

Closed boxes confirm that we have lived and that we have impactedStaring at complete sets of Talmudic law resting in boxes that once housed salt-free pretzels pleases me deeply, and although I can’t quite put my finger on the symbolism, I am sure it exists, and that it’s rich and beautiful. Family photo albums, teacups, winter jackets, prayerbooks, flower vases and lighting fixtures all become pieces that tell some version of the life we have lived until now, proof of their endurance and value in our lives.

I never imagined that such a reductive view of my stuff could so aptly tell the story of us, but in many ways, it does. When I am saturated with all the details of this cross-country move—the whole process—my life feels overwhelming. But when I reframe the move and focus on the blessings we’ve sustained, the meals we’ve shared, the guests we’ve entertained, the progress we’ve made and the sweet promise of what lies ahead, then moving and packing become elevating and cathartic. How my life actually is, is entirely dependent on my interpretation of it. In the words of John Milton: “The mind is its own place and in itself, can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.”

When I allow myself to become stressed and overwhelmed by the details of my life, I leave no room for G‑d. I squeeze Him out with my big, fat, negative perspective. But when I take the macro view, step out of the picture a little bit and let Him in, my perspective is calm, rational and resolutely positive. From this vantage point, all I see is blessing.

This week is Tisha B’Av. The day that we commemorate the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The Temple was the center of our lives, the meeting place between Heaven and Earth, G‑d’s “home.” While bouncing back and forth between perspectives on the moving process, I’ve come to realize that it is entirely within my power to make my home a meeting place between Heaven and Earth, a place where G‑d feels welcome, and a place where ultimate redemption is possible. No matter how many things I amass in my life—from the broken to the whole, the practical to the inane—it’s all about how much space I create in my life for that positive vision to take hold. Even when our home is in shambles—a mere shell of what it ought to be—if we create an atmosphere that is open to growth and positivity, a space that is hospitable towards G‑d, there He shall dwell.