Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Prepping for Spring/New Beginnings

I've recently arrived at the idea that I'll probably never wear out any of these clothes. I will get tired of them or they will go out of style before that happens. I have an abundance of clothes, which offers me a wide variety of ways to coordinate my appearance. That said, I tend to wear my favorites so it's time for another closet clearing. Anyone want to come shop? This is a seasonal event for me. I'm actually looking forward to it this time. This month is packed so come April, there will be significantly fewer items.

The only things I've truly worn out are my welcome at certain places, with certain people and these:

I bought these babies in Boston and haven broken them in past their prime.  After recent excursions, it's time to say goodbye and transition them out. They're super light and they offer toe protection so they will become yard/river/rodeo shoes. I do my best to keep my walking shoes out of the dirt and grime. When they've put in a ton of miles, I find another use for them. I wouldn't have to do this and I KNOW I have an abundance in the shoe department, so it's one of the areas of downsizing that I'll look at. Followed by bag/totes/backpacks and planners. I love these items too.

Although I am a *recovering* shoe addict, I have taken steps to streamline this area. I still have quite a few pairs but those are also being pared down. Shoe clutter has been one of my big challenges. I enjoy the variety and styles and find that I do switch out often, so nothing drastic but I've already spied four pairs that will are headed to the release pile.

Shoe clutter can easily become passive clutter. We buy a pair, wear them for dress or work and then they remain untouched until we need them again. Knowing what our personal styles are important, but so is being clear about what we actually need. Case in point, I had a pair of black ballet flat that I loved. I wore them everywhere. They were light, packable and I could pull them off with a skirt, slacks or even shorts. I didn't wear them out, but they were certainly worn. They would leave black dye on my feet and that's just uncool. I recycled them and started looking for replacements. It's taken me over a year to find suitable ones. I'm not sure that I'm in love with the new pair, however this style is definitely one that goes with A LOT of the clothes that I wear.

What I know is that clutter creates blockages to forward movement so I'm really looking into the more subtle areas and items that I've housed. My fall detox was successful, but I can already see that things are seeping back in. I have noticed that it takes far less time to clean up because there are fewer items present. That has been especially helpful as I've had two intensely busy months.

I am a habitual clutter creator and it's something I'm working on. I am getting better about letting things go, especially items that I know I don't really love or need. I usually create the type of clutter known as active chaos. In the midst of movement, travel and daily living, I don't always put things away. Even though the laundry room is a few steps from my bathroom, if I'm tired I'll lay the clothes on the counter, rather than popping them into the hamper. It's silly for sure, but it's also extremely easy to do if I'm not thinking about it. The good news is that it doesn't take me long to bring things back into order.  It doesn't take much for my space to look and feel like a wreck because it's small. It also doesn't take much to make it look and feel clean and clear. Results are easy to see, either way.

For example, my kitchen was in an utter state of disarray. It may appear that I am a completely lousy Feng Shui (flung schway?!) Consultant. I mean, I know all about the art of placement but one walk in the front door would certainly suggest otherwise. Unless we understand the true meaning of active and passive chaos. Active chaos is what happens when we are in the midst of creating a masterpiece (of disaster?! Awesome. I'm very skilled at this and so are my offspring.) Passive chaos is what happens when we do not clean up, tidy and bring the environment back into order and alignment. In other words active chaos becomes passive chaos when we just keep letting pile up, untouched... or rearranged to a different location or just forgotten about.

Case in point: This was how my house looked after a busy weekend a few weeks back. It looks... lived in and messy.

Electronic debris and "stuff"

But hey, there's coffee and that is what is important.

It's not that I don't, can't or won't bring order to the space. I will because it nearly drives me insane to see this when I walk in the door. However, if I am tired and walking in the door at 10pm from orthodontist appointments, I focus my energies on the SLEEP.  Cleaning, clearing and organizing are't on the list, but they will be. 

Being a tidy person may come naturally to some. It doesn't to me. In full confession here, I have pretty slobbish tendencies, yet I appreciate order. I was one of those person in college that would have a disaster of a room and then make my bed before I went to sleep.... 

The difference for me now is that this is not the state that I like to live in. It happens as a result of my choices and lifestyle. Since I've downsized my possessions it looks (and believe me it IS messy) but it doesn't take a week to whip things back into shape. In fact, I can have the counters cleared and every room in the house brought back into shape in one night. It's a good workout. (I wish that my body would come back into shape that quickly!)

Daily life happens. Papers come in door, clothes, shoes, bags, books, jackets, caps, sunglasses, and an assortment of other items trickle in too. The best way to manage the chaos is to work with it. I find a time and space to dive in. This isn't my favorite thing to do, not at all, but there is great satisfaction in tidying up and knowing that when I walk into the kitchen the next day, it will feel GREAT to have a clean, clear space. 

Spring is here, now. One of the best things we can do is to set up an action plan and start taking steps to alleviate some of the passive chaos that has settled in from the previous seasons. This may entail a lot of work or just a little, depending on the state of your environment. The more possessions we have, the longer it will take. I've been on a clutter clearing, downsizing mission since last October. I've made progress but I still have a long way to go. My ultimate goal is to travel and write. Those are the things I most love and want to spend my time doing. That's my motivation.  So when I am faced with the drudgery of tidying up and bring my chaos into workable order, I think about how nice it will also be to pack my bags and go on an adventure. I feel a lot more excited, clear and ready when my space is in order. Yours may be something entirely different. The important things is that you identify what you'd rather be doing, instead of continually cleaning and clearing. It's a never ending cycle, but it is manageable. 

Those things won't necessarily go away, but it will take you far less time to bring your space into alignment. For those of you, like me that have seemingly slobbish tendencies, spring is an excellent transitional time to change patterns and habits. Identify what you'd rather be doing and make steps and changes within your body/being, life and space to support those actions. We can't think our way into doing them, we have to take action. 

Here's the evidence of my efforts:  

What? An actual table surface?! Who knew?! I bought this vintage runner several years ago and I use it quite often. In the fall "purge" I released a mini yellow pitcher. Apparently I was done with it. I went to look in its usual spot and it was gone. Oh well the runner looks just fine without it. 

I cleared out all the debris on this counter. Typically this is where I set my computer, plug in speakers, kindle and cell phones. Once everything is charged and ready to go. I put the cords in a drawer. I've made it a habit to store items in the same place so they can be easily accessed. 

This corner would look MUCH better if it weren't for the microwave. I don't use it. However, my children do. That's a long story, maybe for another post? 

And speaking of new beginnings, I'm excited to share that I will be teaching classes at MidPlains Community College, in North Platte. March 29th is Feng Shui Basics and I'll share some suggestions and insights on how to work with active and passive chaos. The content is completely revised so if you're interested in these topics, please consider joining me. Class starts at 6pm. For additional details please message me on Facebook or email me at 

Monday, March 14, 2016

The real reason for doing what you're doing....

I didn't really feel like going for a walk tonight. I'm short on sleep and I have a lot to get done before I rest tonight. 

That said, I already know the benefits of walking and why I do what I do. Surprisingly it's not about loosing weight, although that's been a nice side effect. Walking is the therapeutic. It gets me out of my head and helps me process my thoughts in positive ways. I feel better after I've walked and so good day or other wise, I stick to my routine because I know it'll make me feel good. 

On days like this, when it would have been easy to fall into an old mindset of, "I'm tired, I'll catch it tomorrow...." Instead I pondered on the greater good, my reason for walking. There are many reasons, but the most important is because I will KNOW it's what my body needs, not my mind. My mind can talk me into and out of just about anything. It's great for analysis and evaluation, not so always so good when it comes to motivation. My mind can be a lazy pig. Given the choice it would rather not make my body move (unless it's golfing, hiking or other fun things). 

So what to do when I don't want to do what I know I should do? I do it anyway. It's taken me a long while to discern what to listen to, what to believe and what to follow. I think it's easy to be on a sort of auto-pilot when it comes to doing things we don't like but we know we should do and in some cases, have to do. Most of the time, in those scenarios, I just want to get whatever it is over with and done, so I can get to the good stuff. I'm still working on that one...

I shared that my previous method was to push myself and that is outdated. It's not productive and in the end, it really depletes my positive outlooks and energetic reserves. There will always be things that I don't necessarily enjoy but have to do. And it's at such moments where I have a small window of opportunity, a quantum choice point of going left, right or staying in the middle. No one way is perfect, yet our entire lives are based on the choices we make in these moments. This is significant because over time we see the results of these choices in action, we experience their after-effects and those shape our reality. It's a very empowering to realize that we have the ability to change the trajectory of our lives through conscious choices and daily action. It may not seem like much at the time, but in long-term vision we see those steps adding up. There's no one else to blame if we aren't living the way we want to live. No one is responsible for our happiness. Anyone can contribute but the truth is that it is up to use to make those choices. 

No matter what I do, I strive to find the good, the inspiration and positive spin, even in the seemingly worst situations. It's not always immediate though eventually it finds me. Notice I'm not always the ones that finds the inspiration, probably because I'm trying to hard and forcing it. That's where walking comes in, that's what I do what I do. Walking is a mind reset for me and something that I've become very fond of. Take tonight for instance. The weather was indecisive and I didn't want to get wet, (instead I got blown down the road! Oh well, that was interesting!)

Without looking for it, inspiration found me through was a fleeting glimpse of a brilliant rainbow. Rainbows are special to me, it's sort of a thing between God, Grandma and myself. It's been my "wink" since I was young. My Gramdma Ruth noted the connection and collected cute little rainbow mementos for me. Most of them are gone but the memories are still bright. I've seen rainbows at various times, seemingly out of nowhere without a drop of rain in the sky... (Yes, I know these are called sun dogs... please allow me to have my spin here!) Of course these are unplanned so I'm always a little surprised and instantly happy when I see one. I know that whatever I'm worried about at the time I see a rainbow, it will be alright. I've been worried about a couple of things ---and though I try to keep things in perspective there's can still be that raw, nagging feeling inside. I've completed the necessary steps so now...I wait and waiting is not easy. As I was walking along, attempting to say upright, I looked up and saw a glistening splash of color against the deep blue northern horizon. I got my confirmation, my "wink" thats what I've been worried about will be fine. 

I know my reason for doing what I'm doing. I don't know the results yet, I don't know when or even if things will pan out, but I don't have to. That's NOT my reason. Instead I shift my focus out and away from my worries and sometimes, like tonight there's an added bonus, a little treat to keep me moving. I'm watching for those now and I greatly appreciate such packages when they arrive. 

I encourage anyone reading this to get very clear on the reasons why you're doing whatever you're doing. While all of us have things to do, I can share it's much easier if we our values are in alignment with our actions. This is when we eventually see results. Is what you are doing positive and productive? Does it allow you to feel accomplished, confident and free? If the answer no, don't worry, just keep asking the questions and then follow where those take you. Pushing ourselves can be what is needed in the moment, but making a habit of that, as motivation may not yield the desired results. Being open, aware and willing to acknowledge those spots that are still in progress and celebrating the tiny moments of successful forward movement are what help build a foundation for positive changes that we're ready to experience. 

I'm not by any means an expert on self-help. I do know that we all have the ability to offer insight and inspiration to others, if we're willing to find it for ourselves. I think that is a key point. We have to know why we are doing what we are doing so that when we do it, we can recognize our efforts, celebrate our success and keep finding our rainbows. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Room to Breath...just a little

photo credit: Leah Bryant

I'm so glad February is over. I had about 15 blog posts that I wrote but never published. When I read them over it sounded like I was extremely depressed. I'm not, but I have been under an intense amount of pressure to complete several projects. I have many "irons in the fire" and February brought on plenty of heat.

I am now seeing progress. Forward movement is always welcome and I tend to get frustrated when things feel constricted, heavy and non-moving. I've done my planning for this month and I'm happy that I will be traveling/adventuring. It truly feeds my soul. I know that there are times that I need to stay put, concentrate on my children, home and obligations but I most LOVE to be on the GO!

I haven't yet launched my spring detox/clearing. This month is dedicated to movement, which I am craving! April will be my full on release mode.... I may have to rent or borrow a larger vehicle to re-home my former possessions. Up for gras are kayaks, bikes, a load of decorations, clothes, caps, kitchen items, bags, shoes and anything else that no longer fits. I have again amassed a large amount of items (and this is just from walk-through's). If I've seen or thought about something that I know I won't use or doesn't match my style, it goes in a pile. I now have to walk around said pile to get to the dryer. I haven't taken the time to haul it out, but that is coming and I'm ready to let it all go, let it go, let it go. The items are all in excellent shape, they just aren't a fit for who I am and where I am headed next.

I can't always tell that I've changed, I mean I'm pretty close to ME so change/transition is harder to notice. Lately though, I can feel change happening within my very cells. While I've had a lot of emotional ups and downs and at times, I have felt like I am moving sideways, but hey sideways FORWARD still counts! Thanks to all the patient people in my life, that have/are supporting me during times that I have been a tearful, blubbering mess.... not a pretty sight to see, but a necessary part of growth and letting go of the old.

I started the year with several BIG projects on my plate. Some of them I could only work on a little bit here and there. That's frustrating for me because I like to knock things out right away and get things done. I don't like the "in between" phases of started but not finished or progressing but not complete. Arrrrrrg. And that friends, is e x a c t l y where my life has been for the past several months. I've made commitments, I've started, I've gone too far to stop but there hasn't been enough forward momentum to help me see tangible results. Saying my patience has been tested would be a vast understatement.

Things have shifted in the past few weeks through! Two BIG things I've been working on have been submitted and so my part with those projects are done. I have one more project to roll through and that will be completed by the end of April. There are more FUN and EXCITING projects in the works, but for now, the deadlines and requirements aren't as constricted, which helps me feel like I have more room to breathe.

The recent experience has helped look more deeply into how I approach challenges and what I require to get through them. I have realized that I enjoy being productive, but not busy. I am learning to listen more intently, graciously and lovingly to my mind, body and spirit. Traditionally I tend to listen to my mind, power through whatever obstacles are sitting in my way and I don't quit until the job is done. While this has helped me accomplish some major feats (paying for, taking and finishing graduate classes for example).... it has, at times, left me strung out, empty, exhausted, frustrated and depleted. That is not the way I want to show up.

I tend to have a hard time relaxing until everything is done/completed/finished, but we all know that only happens when one leaves this life. I'm not ready to do that. Instead I am learning to find pockets of rest here and there, being more discerning about what I take on and more aware of how much energy I spend getting things done. Time is a precious commodity. I am learning to identify my personal rhythms, not push past my reserves and to respect my own boundaries. It's a beautiful experience and it is allowing me to see the grander view of my life and what I am creating.

There are some exciting ventures in the works during the months ahead (a new website/blog/offerings) and a lot of traveling. I won't be home much this summer and I couldn't be more excited. I have places to go, people to laugh with and things to see! My dream is to live a mobile life, learn, write, share, and inspire. I have no idea when that will come through so in the meantime, I'll continue to grow, expand, experience and LIVE!

“The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.”  

~C. JoyBell C. 

Pink Cup. Planners. 5:2 Weekly Review

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