“Letting Go...Embracing Change...”
Living the Life I Dream
I wonder how it would feel if I had to sit my children down and explain to them that even though we live in the United States of America, a country founded on freedoms, that they are not afforded these freedoms. That because their skin was not...
“I would rather die of passion than of boredom.” – Vincent Van Gogh I have friends, many friends to be precise, who annually choose a word to use as a touchstone or a reminder of how they want to live for the year. Over the...
I recently had the pleasure of being in Miami for nine days to experience for the second time what is known as Art Basel Week. Galleries from all over the world descend on this tropical paradise bringing with them the best works of art they...
This post is really only for the person who finds themselves being swallowed by their possessions and who sincerely want to change their situation. If you’re happy just the way you are, by all means, carry on.
The first step to decluttering is to stop buying new stuff.
If we really want to get a handle on the stuff we have, we first have to stop adding to it. We have to commit for a month, a week, a day, that before purchasing anything new we will make sure that 1. we don’t already have one, that 2. we don’t have something else that can get the job done just as well, that 3. we can’t wait and make the purchase later, or that 4. we maybe, just maybe, can get by without the item.
Not buying stuff is challenging. Not running to the store to get that thing-we-are-convinced-will-make-our-lives-oh-so-much-better is a difficult habit to break. Making due is not always fun. Not distracting ourselves from the grind of our lives with a trip to the mall to look at pretty stuff and letting go of the high we get from the purchase isn’t easy. None of this is easy. I know first hand.
So, why should we stop buying new stuff?
We stop for the peace and clarity of mind that comes from knowing how much stuff we have and being able to find it when we need it. We stop because having less stuff means we have more money and more time to invest in the people and things in which we truly care. We stop because we want to live lives that are focused on people and experiences, not things.
Easier said than done? Always. A constant practice? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely.Read More
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” ~ Lao Tzu
My daughter finally chose her dress for prom. A lovely black and gold number that I’m sure she’ll look stunning wearing. As she finalized the order, she realized she would need new shoes. She has a pair of strappy, silver heels, but they would clash with her dress.
It occurred to me that I might have exactly what she needed. Excitedly, I hurried to my closet and pulled two plastic shoe boxes down from the top shelf. Each box held one pair of shoes. These were my fancy shoes. Since we wear the same shoe size, one or the other should be perfect.
As she tried on the beautiful, beaded sandals, I had to agree, they would clash with her gown. She dubbed the black pointy-toed pumps “ugly,” She was right. They were ugly and not in the style of the minute.
Shoe shopping trip planned, I placed my fancy shoes back in their plastic boxes and tucked them neatly on the top shelf of my closet. Over the next few days, even though they were out of site, I couldn’t keep them out of mind. I questioned myself as to why I was holding onto these two pairs of shoes.
I couldn’t honestly remember the last time I had worn either pair, and even after careful thought, I had no idea where I had bought them or how long I had owned them. I tried on both pairs again and teetered around the house to my husband’s amusement. Neither pair was the least bit comfortable.
Since they were in good repair and I have the space to store them, I argued (with myself) that I should hold onto them just in case something comes up. Every girl needs a pair or two of fancy shoes, right? Finally, I had to admit that in reality if something did come up, I would probably go out and just buy a new pair of shoes.
I’m a professional organizer, and while I’m sentimental, I’ve never even come close to being a hoarder. I throw things that are damaged or stained in the trash. I happily give away items that others can use. I’m on a first name basis with the employees at my favorite donation center. I encourage my clients to do the same.
In the past six months, I’ve redone every closet in my house, my pantry, and the garage carefully scrutinizing every item in each of these places. Tools, hardware, linens, kitchen ware, clothes, pictures, and decor were sorted through and those items we no longer needed were donated, sold, or trashed.
So, as I contemplated my fancy shoes, the ones that made the cut just a few months before, I had to ask myself why I held onto them. Even though they were in perfect shape and even though I had space, there really was no reason.
Then, it occurred to me that if I let them go, I would have extra space in my closet. An entire eight inches of emptiness. Excited, I racked my brain trying to think of what I could put there in place of the shoes, but nothing came to mind.
I realized that I would have to leave the space empty and that is when a deep, deep discomfort swept over my entire body and a knot slowly began to form in my stomach.
I know that in order to bring new, better, and right into your life you have to let go of old, lessor, and wrong. My mantra for the past five years has been “letting go…embracing change.” Yet, here I was with a death grip on two pairs of fancy shoes terrified of the eight measly inches of empty space on the top shelf of my closet that I couldn’t/wouldn’t be able to immediately fill.
I breathed deep. I settled into the discomfort. I stayed with it until it passed.
The next day, I tried on each pair of shoes one last time to confirm that they were indeed uncomfortable and out of date. Then I walked them to the dining room table and placed them there to donate.
I wondered what other things I had overlooked in my recent purge. As I poked through closets and cupboards, more and more items were added. The nearly new red shoes that I promise are filled with invisible razors and make me cry in pain at the very thought of even putting them on for one second, the plastic cup from the car dealership that nobody in my family will ever use, and several pillow cases, their mates lost long ago.
As I pulled each unneeded item, I made an empty space, and each time I felt the discomfort rise in my body, I breathed through it.
I keep going because I know that it is only in the empty space, in the quiet silent moments, in the free fall that begins the minute we let go of old things, old feelings, old thoughts, and old ideas that change can happen.
I’m making space and holding the emptiness sacred and waiting patiently for the change.
– Want to join in? We’d love to have you. Use #making_space and post photos of what you’re letting go of. If you want to see what else I get rid of, please feel free to follow me on Instagram or Facebook. If you’d like to receive updates in your inbox, you can subscribe using the box on your right. –
“All is well. Everything is working out for my highest good. Out of this situation only good will come. I am safe.” – Louise Hay
Yesterday, I woke up early and I sat in the pre-dawn hours, cup of turmeric tea close at hand, working on my May calendar. This monthly calendar ritual has become a favorite of mine. Frustrated with the limitations of every “time-keeping organizations” system on the market, I eschewed them all and created my own.
It’s a time consuming task, but I love it. Using a Moleskin, I carefully write each day and date on the top of each right hand page. Then on the top left side of every single page I write a daily affirmation. Finally, I fill in appointments I’ve already confirmed for the month leaving a space to list my accomplishments for that day.
I also have a monthly calendar pages for appointments and to help with long range planing. I tuck both into a leather portfolio given to me many years ago by a mentor. The the smell of the leather, the sound of the pen scratching out the details of my life, and the turning of each page filled with promise for the future centers me.
The night before my husband and I had a long talk. He has lovingly supported and encouraged me to find my path. I’ve been searching for my direction, but after several false starts (via career paths that were not good fits for me), it would be fair to say I’m a bit cautious. I don’t want to end up investing time and energy into something else that in the end does not ring true.
So for the past few years, I’ve treaded lightly. I’ve looked, listened, and contemplated. I’d like to be able to say that I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt where I’ll end up, but I can’t. Not, yet. But things are getting clearer. I’m beginning to own my truth.
In addition, we’ve been able to set things up at home so that I can guiltlessly take more time to delve into these interests I’m pursuing. My responsibility gene is large. It’s difficult for me to pull away from that which I think I need to do and focus on that which I was put here to do. My husband was adament, “if not now, then when?”
I knew he was right.
So, I gave myself permission to lean in a bit. I decided I would take the time and invest. I made appointments with myself to learn and explore. It was scary but exhilarating, and as I finished planning out the month it felt right…very, very, right.
Literally at the moment I closed my May Moleskin feeling braver and more convicted then I ever had, my phone rang. It was my husband. One of key pieces we had in place allowing me to guiltlessly take more time to delve into these interests I’m pursuing had fallen away.
I tried to stay in gratitude, but I was livid. At the exact moment that I leaned in, the bottom fell out. I spent a most of the day racking my mind for a back-up plan, that is when I wasn’t fighting back tears or ranting about the unfairness of it all.
It was not some of my finest moments.
I capped the day with a bit of bad TV, then crawled into bed exhausted. I woke up this morning still angry. Normally I meditate first. Today, I checked my email and popped onto Facebook for a few minutes to make sure everyone was safe and sound.
Then I meditated.
I could hear my dogs, who are always close, breathing gently. I could feel the warmth of their bodies. I allowed all the thoughts, all the feelings, all the hurt and anger and confusion to drain from my body and as I sat, empty, I realized that key piece in place or not, nothing had really changed.
There’s always going to be a bump or a wrinkle to work around. Life is in flux. Life is always in flux. Always.
I just have to stay my course. I have to stay in gratitude. I have to accept what is. I have to keep moving forward in spite of the fear…that’s called brave.
So, that’s the plan. Whether the bottom is there or not, it doesn’t matter. The details always work themselves out. I’m staying focused. I’m moving forward.Read More
“I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” – Martin Luther
Lately, I find myself faced with an endless to-do list that in spite of my best efforts just keeps growing. It’s all good stuff. First world problem kind of stuff. It’s just that there’s a lot of it and for every thing I’m able to cross off, I end up adding two or seven or ten new things. We all have busier times. I assumed that after a week or two, things would ease up. Sadly, they haven’t and weeks later this list of things I need to take care of just keeps getting bigger.
I’ve tried breaking tasks down into smaller chunks. I’ve tried scheduling tasks to a specific date and time. I’ve tried making a master to-do list. I’ve even tried delegating. While each of these strategies has it’s merit and some items were completed, many more are still left undone.
The worst part of all this is how I feel. I feel guilty that I can’t seem manage it all. I feel stressed about the magnitude of what I’m facing. I really want to schedule these appointments and run these errands and make the calls. I really want to finish my docent tour and gallery talk for the art museum and wrap up my EFT certification. I really want to join the class and paint the bookshelf and have lunch with my friend and write. No matter how hard I work, how much I do, there’s just more at the end of each day and I end up feeling like some incompetent looser.
I wasn’t surprised when the crash came. The alarm went off that morning and I just crawled back into bed. I couldn’t do it. Not that day. I stared at the bare branches outside. I contemplated the quagmire in which I found myself. I asked for guidance.
Then I got up and did some laundry. I cleaned my son’s room, hung a rack in my daughter’s closet, and fed the dogs. I sorted through items in the garage and changed the cat liter. I had tea with a friend and chatted with another online. I watched a movie and a television show. I waited for divine intervention.
Finally, it came.
And I realized that I really just needed to let it all go. The answer is not in doing more. It’s in focusing on doing more of the right things. I realized then and there that I needed to redouble my efforts with the important, if I was to have any chance at getting a grip on this crazy making to-do list.
So, I decided that instead of thinking about what I was grateful for, I would write it down. Instead of meditating once a day, I would do it twice. I committed to walking an hour instead of my normal thirty minutes and doubling my time on the yoga mat as well. I promised that every single time I felt the least bit of stress or overwhelm, I would stop and tap. I decided I’d continue to focus on family and friends. I vowed to pray for guidance and pay attention to the signs instead of going it alone.
I realized for me, the best strategy to get a grasp on the overwhelm is to dedicate myself to those practices that strengthen my connection with spirit and honor this earthly existence. A to-do list has it’s place, and I need to keep mine in it’s proper place. I need to remember and focus on what’s most important. I’m trusting if I can do that, everything else will fall into place.Read More