Saving Elma

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I had a dream last night about my yard. It was scruffy and scrubby and for some reason I was surprised to be ashamed of it.

In truth, my own yard has, how shall we say… a natural look to it. It is in fact made up of mostly drought-tolerant, native plants. The front yard came with a towering live oak and preening magnolia, both of which shed leaves all year long. The back yard has an orange tree and out-of-control rubber tree as squatters from the beginning. Everything else we planted.

In the beginning of our occupation we added loads of native wild flowers: galardia, dune sun flower, porter weed, blue curl and our front yard was an explosion of healthy color. We just sort of let the plants take over. We let nature be nature.

Our landscaping philosophy prompted a new, now gone, neighbor across the street to stand with arms folded, one hand aloft to alternately rest on her chin and point to our yard while sharing with another new neighbor (also gone) that “they actually intend for their yard to look like that.”

Nature is messy, and like a child, it should be given certain liberties to explore. But also like a child it needs some discipline. Especially if you’re living in a deed restricted neighborhood. We did receive a lovely letter from our HOA in those early days citing us for our misuse of visible property. We fired back with an environmental manifesto and have been left alone since.

A few years after we were shamed by the HOA, the city encouraged native planting and less grass. We felt vindicated, but our yard was still messy. Again, in the natural sense.

I am compelled to design my yard, like I would an interior space, with a space plan and recommendations. I have, in fact, done this. Even to scale, but I lack the enthusiasm to implement or enforce it. Instead the yard upkeep is the domain of my husband. If I want to change it, I have to change it.

It remains largely unchanged.

Our back yard has been given more consideration. Probably because it is where I spend my time. We planted a winged elm, bay tree, a couple of privets and some other small trees. When I say we, I mean I supported the choices and effort while my husband did the actual work of planting.

We added a stone patio that I actually did work on and design and there’s a hint of a wall we lost interest in around one of the trees.

Our yard is small. If I stood in the middle of it and extended my arms toward our house (the screened enclosure) and the fence that proves this space is ours, I can practically touch both. I would love to have an open patio, with simple columns holding up a simple roof or even a vine covered pergola, but mosquitoes the size of hummingbirds hover just on the other side of the screen like desperate paparazzi, and they’re all looking at me. So the screen stays.

Aside the from the intoxicating fragrance of the orange tree in early spring, the winged elm has captured my heart. In fifteen years he has grown to over 30 feet from just a spindly little sapling. He drops his leaves sometime around December, stands stoic for a month or so then shimmers back to life with tiny green buds in March. Perhaps it is his timely deciduous nature that reminds me of trees from home that tugs at my inner nostalgia. Maybe it’s his happiness to return in the spring that makes me swoon.

Over the years, he has produced offspring, tiny shoots and saplings. They have started grow. Most are about a foot tall, many we have removed, but one has reached about 6 feet. It is a single sinewy stalk with thin, but strong little branches. She can’t stay where she is. There’s no room.

Next to our driveway we removed a diseased some-kind-of-myrtle tree a couple of years ago and that space feels naked. We decide to move the young tree here.

Her roots are long and we lose a few inches on them here or there but otherwise the earth released her easily. A deep hole has been dug and is awaiting her arrival.

It’s been a particularly hot and dry spring and we’re concerned for her survival. We water her daily, usually three times a day.

It has finally rained. And against the vibrant colors of wet nature, she is brown. All her leaves have turned brown. I touch her leaves gently, they’re still very soft, not brittle. I bend her tiniest branches and they still have life, they do not snap.

There is still hope.

I have named her Elma. She deserves a name.

This morning as I am getting ready for my day, Larry (that’s my husband) comes in looking bright, “Don’t give up!”

“On Elma?”

“Yes, two little green shoots around the base.”

“Her base.” I correct.

As he was tending to her and reconstructing the little moat around her tender roots he spied signs of new life. She’s strong. She wants to live out her dharma in our front yard and provide shade during the brutal summer months.

And when she gets bigger and stronger she will be able to see her dad over the house. I’m pretty sure he can see her.

And I’m certain he’s been encouraging her.

 

Island of Excellence

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I have been successful at creating and sustaining two morning habits (if you don’t count coffee). Journaling and reading.

The reading is non-fiction, usually something about writing, or the yoga philosophy. This morning it was both. And this time the messages were the same. That is to say my interpretation of them, while interrupted by a weather delay, was the same.

First, from Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg:

“Rather than following rules, have a friendliness toward existence… If you are kind you will naturally be doing the right thing… Don’t be a goody-two-shoes, just to be a goody-two-shoes, it’s not based on any reality.”

Permission.

As I was carefully inserting my Ganesh postcard from India between chapters, then placing the book on the short stack on the end table with the big wooden Buddha beside my sofa, to pick up the other book, I noticed a strange quality to the light outside. Yesterday the sky had announced itself by turning pink; this morning it seemed to be shyly hiding behind dusty glass.

Fog! I love fog!

Abandoning the second book for now, I grabbed my beloved iPhone – vowing as I made my way to the front door NOT to react to the red circles on the upper right hand corners of all my social media icons – and went in search of fog. It was so thick I could feel it on the surface of my eyeballs, like that first look underwater in a lake.

I looked down the street in one direction for a mystical shot – too many parked cars – then the other. Out to the main road I headed. I stood in my two sizes too big man’s t-shirt and baggy shorts with my hair in a scrunchy from the 90s, sans make-up or pride and pointed my phone down the curving main boulevard lined with oak trees heavy with moisture and black iron unlit street lamps.

After about 27 shots of basically the same thing I was approached by a man walking purposefully across his side yard directly at me. When I noticed him I turned in his direction. “You taking pictures of the house?” he demanded. “No, the fog,” I managed with a smile and a finger pointing down the street, as if the fog was hovering only there. Muttering as he turned to go back into his house, “Ok, cause I was gonna say.” What? You were gonna say what? Don’t?

I stood in place and lifted my phone with much less enthusiasm, to demonstrate that it was not pointed toward his home but indeed where that fog was living, just in case he went back to the same window through which he spied my suspicious activity in the first place.

It rattled me a little. I do not cope well with being accused of wrong doing. I am a rule follower. I want to be a rebel and in some respects I suppose my behavior and beliefs could be considered outsider, but mostly I’m a law-abiding good girl.

Perhaps this fear of misbehavior was a seed planted as a teenager.

While working at a clothing store in the mall I was accused of stealing clothes. I was shaken. I would never. I had made the mistake of placing my own clothes in a bag from the store and attempting to leave. I explained that my boyfriend was picking me up to go out and I had brought a change of clothes from home. They were from the Spiegel Catalog, I said with great pride. She said okay, but she never really believed me. Never apologized. And that left a mark on my goody-two-shoes permanent record.

I want to make sure all these mistrusting people know I’m telling the truth. But of course I cannot control what anyone thinks of me and in fact their thoughts and opinions of me are really none of my business, but rather a reflection of who they are.

Letting it go – the photo thing – I returned to my perch on the corner of my sofa, next to the big wooden Buddha and opened the Yoga Sutra book I have been studying. And found this:

From The Secret of the Yoga Sutra: Samadhi Pada by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD

“To be born as a human is the greatest achievement, and to die without knowing the essence of life is the greatest loss. The immense wisdom and power buried in our body and mind is clear evidence that nothing is beyond our reach… Our boundless intelligence and power of discernment give us access to the infinitely vast universe inside us and outside us. Nothing is impossible for us. We are extraordinary beings – individual islands of excellence.”

An individual island of excellence would probably not be so concerned with the fear and anxiety of others projected onto them. Compassionate, yes.

An individual island of excellence would move on, break a few rules, write the story that no one wants told, eat left-over cheesecake for breakfast. Ok, that last one maybe not really excellent.

It’s about breaking the rules for good, not for the sake of being contrary. So many of us follow rules that don’t even really exist. We do something because someone once told us to or told us never to and it stuck. They aren’t laws or even policies. It’s a very weak box constructed of shoulds and shouldn’ts that provides the illusion of safety and conformity.

Einstein’s greatest contribution to me personally was his edict to: “Question everything.”

Good advice. One question could collapse that whole silly box. Without walls it’s much easier to be an island of excellence.

Personal History

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I am lost in a sea of personal history. Memories and emotions gently rock my present, nudging my attention this way and that.

My room: the repository of my past. Photos from as far back as 1800 and something. My great-grandparents parents photos and maybe their parents too. Some I know, some are magical ghosts of my DNA.

My room: the sanctuary of my creative aspirations. Over 20 boxes of hundreds of beads – many semi-precious stones that I could just caress for hours. I am partial to rubies, they feel mysterious and rich. Aquamarine gives me space, I can’t help but take a deep breath in when working with them. And sapphires are the keepers of  secrets. In boxes in my closet are unpainted canvases, paper cut for projects forgotten and photos I’ve taken and left to die in the back of a drawer.

My room:  the organizational nerve center. Four file drawers hold the remnants of an abandoned organizational system, files numbered and lettered but empty. Files full of bills paid, places to visit, the history of my pets and cherished documents that allow me to wander the earth.

My room: holder of tiny sacred spaces. An altar that continues to grow even though there appears to be no more room, sits atop a large bookcase. As I was counting it I thought I’d find new homes for some of the excess Buddhas and rocks, but there appears to be no such thing as excess Buddhas.

This was to be the last room on my list but something compelled me to “knock it out.” It’s been a week. More than. I’m almost done counting. That was supposed to be the easy part. But to count photos you must touch them and I don’t know about you, but I must also look at them. And as I do I am mentally eliminating some and finding purposes for others. I am sorting and organizing memories as if I can come back to them when I’m ready.

There are just a few boxes of photos left to count and then all the jewelry supplies. I have set a goal to complete the counting by the end of this week – Sunday. In the meantime I am surrounded by a mine field of unfinished projects. And it’s creating heaviness, filling spaces that I need free and open. Cards that need to be cut, photos to be sorted and culled, letters to be read and overall purging. This is just round one.

As I sort through the stuff that has built me I wonder what I am really hoping to gain by this process. My goal from the outset been space and time. I want to be able to walk into my home and not feel compelled to straighten up, but I sense something much deeper at work.

Urgency. I carry with me, deep in my gut, this sense of needing to get things done. Organizing, categorizing, sorting then storing. Get it done, check it off. But when it’s done will I be sad? Will I look for the next thing to accomplish no matter how trivial? Maybe that need will abate once things are ordered. Maybe not. This is the work of the process. This is why to abandon it or hold fast to rules would dilute the outcome.

It’s cranky and itchy, the process, but in a most informative way. It’s doing its work on me and I like, don’t like it. I think that means it’s working.

16 Tiny Buddhas

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I avoided my room like the plague when I was following the Japanese Art of Tidying protocal to declutter last year. It’s her fault, really, Marie Kondo’s. She recommended waiting until everything else was sorted and purged before beginning on sentimental items. I took that to mean craft supplies as well.

So I waited. And waited. Until this year.

My approach to this cataloging, decluttering, organizing task has me going room to room. I do like how Ms. Kondo had me group items last year and if it hadn’t been for that I would probably be in a heap at the back of my closet, murmuring, trying to rock myself back to reality.

I started on my room yesterday. When I say ‘my room’ I am referring to that space that is sometimes a jewelry studio, or a library, or an office, or most recently, a hole full of flat surfaces on which to put things to go through at a later date.

This is that later date.

I dreaded it. Knowing that there was so much stuff in there. So many little tiny things to go through and count. Craft stuff, jewelry making supplies, 2 filing cabinets, a large bookcase full of books and an altar on top hosting a meeting of the tiniest Buddhas and Hindu deities along with shells, crystals, candles and rocks. Always rocks.

But it has been liberating, as I think I knew it would be.

I wasn’t sure exactly what to count, how to count. Do I count every paperclip or just the container holding them? What about paper for the printer? Why count each piece? I decided, for now anyway, to count loose things. Pens, pencils, pads of paper, staplers, that sort of thing. I counted the containers that held pencils and binder clips and every empty file folder. I counted the furniture and artwork and the lamps. When I got to the bookcase I counted everything, down to the last tiny shell and wobbly bronze Ganesh the size of my pinky fingernail.

Altar items:

3 Elephants
6 Ganesh
16 Buddha
5 crystals
25 rocks – I really need to look into the rock obsession
1 rabbit – born in the year of
2 frogs
1 sealed container of Ganges water
1 Quan Yin
4 packages of flower petals – mostly from temples in India
1 dog
2 old Japanese guys – I’m pretty sure there’s a more eloquent term for these wise men
4 cards
2 oil difussers
1 owl – from Slovenia who always makes me smile. Get it? Who?
2 nuts – from a recent trip up north
2 fabric printing block – from India
2 Durgas – she’s my girl
4 shells
2 coral
3 feathers
1 Om tile
1 Ganesh tile
1 prayer for forgiveness
1 snake figurine
1 good fortune cat
1 angel
2 mala bead strands
1 peacock feather fan
1 framed Radha Krishna – painted by my yoga teacher
2 Balinese marriage dolls
1 strand of lampwork beads  – that I made in a class, rudimentary but pretty colors.

In all 101 items on top of the bookcase along with a lamp. Four equal sized shelves beneath it containing 120 books and myriad other trinkets and mementos. But I got to touch every one and consider its purpose, conjure its meaning and decide if it was necessary.

So often we set things where we want them then walk away. We may dust them or around them, but that can be a mindless chore – something to get through – and we don’t fully appreciate those things we chose to bring into our homes. Some of us don’t even dust our own things, some of us don’t even dust. Not naming any names.

While I was counting and cataloging I made some initial decisions and purges. I dumped quite a few magazines in the recycle bin, along with some papers I had been holding onto until I uncovered their importance. There was none. I filed papers that had been lingering in my in box that I had to rifle through on more than one occasion to look for something, which had it been filed in the proper place would have saved me lots of time. That’s part of the end game here – time. I filled a box with items to go to others and added to bags sitting in the garage intended for Good Will or some other thrift store.

I also made note of further culling that needed to take place: files that needed thinning, books that could be appreciated by others now that I’ve absorbed what I could from them. I made some decisions about making jewelry and crafts that surprised me and glanced at the boxes and envelopes of family photos – dating back to the 1800s – I have yet to further organize and scan.

This room has been so many things, so many colors and sometimes a complete design and organizational conundrum. I think I may have made some decisions about that too.

I will tackle the rest over the weekend. It will be completed, the first round of purging and cataloging. That will feel like an accomplishment.

Letting go of what I don’t need so someone who does need it can have it feels noble and sometimes scary. What if I need that someday?

Like a coloring book. Purged 11 of those. Still have 9. I think I’ll be okay.

Master of the Bedroom

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908. That’s how many items are in my master bedroom before I even count my husband’s clothes. I did count every piece of jewelry, scarves (I have a problem there, for sure) and unmentionables. I counted earrings and socks as pairs.

As I was counting, and getting so sleepy, I pulled some items out and put them aside. There is a lot more I want to rehome. I get into that space that I just don’t care about any of it anymore, just want to let it all go. And then I come across something with a sweet memory attached and emit a tiny little swoon, the angel on my shoulder stroking my hair as I fall deeper into my personal history. Or, on the other shoulder, that snarky devil in a hissing whisper baits me with, “you may need that one day.”

There is no easy way to do this.

I have to touch every single item in my home. I brought them all here, they deserve that consideration before letting them go.

I keep reminding myself that so much stress in the world has to do with the management of things. Aside from actual noun-stuff, this also includes appointments, social media, food, relationships, pets, health and I’m sure I’ve forgotten 437 other things.

So if I have less physical stuff, I am jumping to the magical conclusion that I’ll have more peace. More space. I may even at some point find a way to organize all my computer files, delete, shuffle, file. But that’s for another day. Maybe a whole ’nother year

Nine hundred and eight. That’s a lot of stuff. If you saw the drawer in my nightstand (which you can, above) or my tiny “walk-in” closet you would think that perhaps I already live minimalistically (word?); things are neat and there’s space. My nightstand drawer only has about six things in it now. All necessary, if I may be so bold: 2 eye pillows, my Nook charger, a reading light (for late night nook-less reading), a few emery boards and book marks. It’s really pretty pitiful looking. But I’ve made my peace with the space.

Although…up rises another voice, the interior designer in me that say, “oh you need a cute little box, or maybe several to keep that stuff from slidin’ around.” (She’s from the south.)

In the process I did remove 43 items from the drawer – 29 were book marks. The book monster will appear more than once in this love story…

The objects on top of my nightstand have been there a long time. A candle from Jamaica, a photo of the Lare and I, a mala, a rock from Long Island with a small stuffed animal sitting atop it and a large quartz crystal along with my lamp. And lotion, there’s always lotion.

The photo stays, it’s almost 20 years old. I feel like the crystal is doing some good so it gets a pass, but I could offer the candle to someone who might appreciate its sweet honeysuckle scent. I could gift the little stuffed animal and I could put the rock in my garden. But do I need to or am I being ridiculous?

For now it all stays.

The purging part of this grand experiment comes later. I want to identify my collections, shine a light on where my tendency to hoard comes into play. I have to confess to inordinate number of pillows – 11 just in this room – an excess of potted plants and hand towels. So far.

I know where the desire to accumulate is coming from, but that’s a deep dark secret we all hold. I’m not alone. We’ll chat about that at a later time.

Total stuff count to date: 1,893

Let me remind you that I have not even counted a full room. According to the website Becoming Minimalist, the average American home has over 300,000 items.

This may take a while.

 

 

Where to Begin…

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Okay. So I’ve made this decision: The Year of Living Mindfully or Consciously. Or The Year of Counting All My Stuff. Or The Year of the Purge. Now where do I start? How?

As I meander from room to room in my not at all large home I become overwhelmed with all that I know is hidden. Desks, chests, cabinets, closets, even vintage suitcases are home to “things”. And some stuff is flat out mocking me by boldly sitting out for all to see. I have to start somewhere.

This is where most people get stuck. Where I am in danger of procrastination.

The whole mess put all together, especially if I start thinking about the black hole that is the garage, pushes me backward onto the couch in analysis paralysis. I look around for clues. Stare blankly at a plant. Gaze outside hoping for a distraction. I can clearly see the organization necessary, the putting back of things. I see that this needs to go here and that needs to go there, but the thought of pulling stuff out of their secret little hidey-holes and exposing them to daylight makes me sleepy.

I could start the old-fashioned way: pick a drawer or small closet to tackle first. Use a timer so I don’t overwhelm myself. This would be the advice of the Fly Lady and countless other organization gurus.

I could take the advice of Marie Kondo in the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, and compartmentalize my stuff. Start with clothes first, then papers, books, etc. Her strategy is to pull all the pieces of one category together, touch each one, hold it up and ask yourself if you love it, or something along those lines. I did this with my clothes, books, papers, then shifted to spaces like the kitchen. Mostly it worked but I got a little stuck when it came to art supplies, artwork, and memorabilia.

Or I could use the Minimalists tactic of boxing up everything I own. Everything. And as I need something take it out of the box. After a month or two, whatever I didn’t pull from the boxes gets donated or otherwise released.

Or I could simply keep researching the best way and avoid the actual work.

I need to think and start small, the garage IS NOT the place to begin, or even look, until I get this project underway.

I will start with my master bedroom. It’s a simple space. Clean. I’ll begin with the contents of my bedside table drawer. I never open it except to retrieve my Nook charger. But there are other treasures in there.

Or, no. As I contemplate this I am sitting on my back patio. The weather is perfect, there’s a breeze and my bird friends have come to sip from the makeshift bird bath on top of the table. The table, birds and bird bath are all outside the screened enclosure, but the patio itself, inside the screen, is home to 675 square feet of hiding places. THIS is where I’ll begin. Stay tuned…

Cluttered Mind

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The whole idea of cleansing is a mental one. Amassing stuff, weight, debt – all stemming from the same root cause by the way – happens first in the  mind. We feel a sense of lack on some level so we eat, purchase, expend undue stress and energy.

Your mind created it. It can fix it.

If clarity is what you’re seeking a dedicated meditation practice is all you need. Really.

But if your mind is so occupied with thoughts about work, the kids, aging parents, cleaning, cooking, laundry, car trouble, illness, I forgot to exercise again, etc. how are you expected to quiet your mind enough to meditate?

If losing weight and getting healthier is your focus, simply changing how you eat, what you eat and moving more should take care of that.

But if you are stressed and your body is constantly “on” in flight or flight – and believe me it probably is – the weight will be stubborn. It’s quite comfortable right where it is. Giving up often seems like the only clear option.

If creating more physical space by decluttering and purging your stuff is your goal, that’s simple enough. Go through your things and get rid of whatever you no longer need or want.

But what if you uncover some attachments to weird things. An old handkerchief becomes a memory of a long passed grandmother, the broken chair was the one your dad always sat in. How are you going to release anything at that rate? And what if your partner, kids or other housemates just keep bringing more stuff home?

The reason behind the purge has to be solid; it has to be enough to keep you going. You know you will feel lighter and more open to possibility if you have less stuff, more time, and get healthy. That clear picture of the results – the space – has to become crystal clear to keep you moving forward.

Start slow but steady and determined. Habits will try to remind you how everything was just fine the way it was.

This is ultimately a mental cleanse; the clearing out of old habits and they will fight back.

I highly recommend meditation, yoga, walking, juicing. They’re all powerful tools for clarity.

We have 12 full months to turn this ship around. Just take one step today. Just agree with yourself that you are going to create space for clarity and magic then let the ‘hows’ unfold.

Still chomping to get started or whining a little?

If you did a little internal groan at meditation might I recommend Yoga Nidra? It is a meditation practice that is guided. You are laying down and simply listening. Doing this practice everyday or even twice a day for a month, or less, will change everything. Well, it will change your perspective of everything.

If yoga or walking prompted an eyeroll, just do some research on your local studios first, find a truly gentle class and start there. The big secret: Yoga is less about physical flexibility and strength (although that naturally comes) and more about mental flexibility and clarity. Or go for a walk. In regular old street clothes and some comfortable shoes. Take your phone – not to talk, try to be completely present to everything around you – to take photos of magic. You’re bound to see a beautiful flower, a bird, a sunrise. Capture it, it’ll get you back out there tomorrow.

fullsizerender-20If juicing sounds like yesterday’s hot thing or pure quackery, give it another chance. It takes a little more work. First you need a juicer and lots and lots of raw veggies and a few not too-sweet fruits. Or do you? There are some high quality cold pressed juices out there. I’m a big fan of Suja. I’m a bigger fan of juicing myself. Smoothies are great too, but with juicing you get a shot of nutrients right to the blood stream without the time it takes to digest the fiber of eating a whole bunch of kale or a carrot. If you don’t have a juicer, start with the store bought variety or make yourself a healthy smoothie in your blender. Just get some more high-quality raw veggies in that amazing body of yours.

“What about all my stuff?” you may be thinking. Take that one step at a time as well. We’ll be talking in great detail about physical objects and clutter. For now take a look around your home and determine where to start. For most it will be inside something. My own home neatly hides tons of mysterious secret stuff: drawers, closets, desks. Maybe start somewhere simple and mostly neglected. Or maybe you’ll choose to start with a category of things like clothes. There are as many techniques out there as there is stuff, we’ll go over a few that seem to be gaining some traction in the coming weeks. For now, just observe. Notice how things make you feel.

None of this has to be started today. Or ever. Remember your goal? Your reason? It’s yours, it’s personal. If any of these things can help you get on your way to more clarity give them a shot.

There will not be just one answer, one solution. It takes a village of ideas and practices working together – along with a support system – to feel safe enough to drill down and begin to create a shift.

With clarity comes enchantment, freedom and purpose.

Wait, purpose, what?

 

 

Making Space for Enchantment

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I have too much stuff. And this is the year I am going to get to know it on a very personal level.

If you saw my home you might not agree with me and I have to admit I love my home, it’s warm and cozy and many – most really – of the objects I own have some sort of special significance or I just fell madly in love with them. But I’m done collecting and storing. I’d like to think.

This year for me is going to be about living mindfully. Consciously. In every way I can without becoming some reformed fanatic and without walking away and giving up when something becomes too daunting or difficult or even boring – there’s magic in those struggles.

I have been obsessed with purging and organizing since almost forever. When I was in middle school I actually wrote down everything I owned on a notepad. Of course I only had one room to catalog. As an interior designer I used the Chinese art of placement – Feng Shui – in every application I could, and still do in my own home. I’ve read the Japanese Art of Tidying and purged over 350 books, bags of clothes and shoes, chatchkes that had lost their charm and broken plates, furniture, etc. I read Minimalism in a day while I was at my brothers and organized his house with a plan for him to finish and my suggestions.

It’s in my DNA.

So If I am always purging you’d think that, a.) I am a hoarder and therefore have an unlimited amount of things to remove from my home or b.) there’s really nothing left for me to do and I’m obsessive compulsive. There is a third option that I’ve wondered about: do I continue to purchase things so I can continue to purge? Am I perpetuating this because it makes me feel good to clean out?

This will be the test. I do not want to simply organize – although I do love that! – I want to eliminate stuff and exchange it for space and clarity.

My plan:

  • Catalog every item in my home. I will start with just my stuff, but eventually get to my husband’s as well. He’s part of my conundrum. While I could live simply with a few precious items, he hauls stuff in on the regular to fix, keep or sell at one of his various antique spaces. Then there is the pile(s) of “I might need this…” stuff. But we’ll address that, and him, later.
  • Purge what is no longer useful or meaningful. Mindfully putting it in the best hands for what it is. Maybe even selling it to pay off that looming student loan (more on that…).
  • Eat clean 90% of the time. We do this pretty well, but I want to become even more conscious of the companies and people from whom I am purchasing my food.
  • Reduce my carbon footprint any way I can. Reducing the amount of plastic and paper we use, how we wash our clothes and our bodies (making conscious choices with shower products), growing some of my own food.
  • Create a mammoth spreadsheet of my stuff, categorize it, tell it’s story and along the way release what I can
  • Ask myself, with everything I do or bring into my home, “Is this the best choice for me, the planet, my home?” “Do I need it?”
  • Reduce my trash and recycles to next to nothing.

I don’t expect to come out on the other side of this with a chair, a table and laptop only. I won’t be reducing my place settings and silverware down to two sets. But I can make some sound decisions and profound changes that will impact my overall sense of well-being, improve my health and be kinder to the planet.

Wanna play along? Comment often with questions or what you’re doing. Let’s make this a practice we do together. It’s not about making sacrifices so much as honoring your own time and energy and creating the space for an Enchanted Life.

 

 

21 Day Challenge

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I am issuing a 21 day challenge. To myself. I have always resisted the word challenge, pretending to be non-competitive. But I feel it’s suitable here. What I am challenging are deeply held habit patterns that I want to change or eradicate all together. This is not a challenge to lose weight or achieve a specific goal, this is a challenge to live my most enchanted, magical life.

I have been a planner as far back as I can remember. To be honest, more of a dreamer. My plans sit on the pages of my journals full of hope and promise, lost as I turn the page to dream anew. These plans are not grandiose. On the contrary, they resemble mundane to-do lists instead. But the underlying theme is always, do this to get that. Once I get, do, have, etc. THEN…  It’s a common malady. But I plan to end it now.

It takes 21 days to make a habit – I intend to make several.

You should know that I am using you. I have assigned your presence, real or imaginary, to be the gatekeeper of my conscience. It is you that will keep me on track.

The impetus for this change? I am a charlatan. I am not walking my talk.  I am a yoga teacher that rarely does yoga. A holistic health counselor whose favorite late night snack is pinot noir and Ruffles. A jewelry designer that rarely wears any of her own creations and an interior designer who has lived with peach Formica counter tops for the past 13 years. The only thing I’m doing with any consistency lately is writing and taking pictures. But how long can that last, really, given my history?

So the challenge is this: daily yoga and yoga nidra twice each day. Write for at least 2 hours and take fresh photographs daily . No alcohol and the gym twice a week. For three weeks.

I am publishing this declaration as a way to motivate myself. Even if I suspect one person is reading this and thinking,” I wonder how she’ll do?” or secretly wishing failure upon me (maybe even more motivating),  I’ll rise to the occasion. For some reason I, like many people I suspect, will meet and often exceed other’s expectations, but seldom rise to meet any goals or terms I set for myself. I forgive myself way too often, making excuses that sound like reasons. Mind trickery.

I am not going to weigh or measure myself or drastically change my diet. My baseline diet is very good. I suspect focus these goals will lead to more dedication to overall health and well-being which will organically spill into other areas of my life, like dark chocolate.

It’s not about weight, although it would be a nice side effect, it is about fire. That crackling radiance at everyone’s core. Those who focus only weight or wrinkles or aging or anything superficial for that matter, have not yet met their own light. Those who have, recognize these outward appearances as temporary, they tell a story – excess weight, gray pallor – but they are not the person who dwells beneath the extra pounds. With a little encouragement, if your light is strong enough, it can help reignite another’s flame. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Sharing the light, uplifting? That’s the gift and the responsibility. It’s nothing more than showing up as yourself. Authentic and comfortable in seat of your own soul.  I have felt the heat of my own flame. Now I’m calling it back. For me it is the height of creativity and synchronicity. It is joy for no reason. And it’s where I intend to live.

The physical component is a necessary balance. I know that if I do yoga and yoga nidra on a daily basis, I come from a different place. My mind is clear, I am calm and inspiration crackles all around me. If I add the gym component it accelerates the whole process. It’s about opening the windows and letting the fresh air in. Airing out old belief systems, dismantling self-defeating habit patterns and recognizing the magic in everything.

I promise to post every day. Even if I fail to meet the daily challenge. But I suspect you’ll keep me in line. Perhaps there’s something you could do for 21 days that will enhance your fire.