Reuniting

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Reuniting

I have never had such a socially packed month like this past October. It was amazing, expansive, bittersweet, mostly filled with reminiscing the fun times and making new memories.

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The month started off by visiting my mom and brother in Vermont. Our plans were to be peeping the leaves, but autumn came late this year so my mom took me for a nice drive in the Green Mountain State. My cousin was able to meet us for breakfast one morning and realized we hadn’t seen each other in almost 7 years. I also managed to paint a portrait of my mom’s cat that passed away last year, something I’ve been doing for our family pets for many years.

Several days later we celebrated my beautiful niece for her Sweet Sixteenth birthday. While it’s hard to believe so much time has passed since the day she was born, it’s also been a blessing to witness her during so many stages of her life and exciting to see all that is ahead for her. It was a lovely time to catch up with my in-laws who had recently finished a 3 week road trip on the other side of the country.

The following evening I attended the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce New York’s 10 year Anniversary Gala. This was a fun filled night catching up with some great people I haven’t seen since I first joined the Chamber over 4 years ago. As an Ambassador for the Chamber, I’m usually working during our monthly events. This was a great night for the Ambassadors to play and be guests. Everyone kept saying, “this feels like a reunion” which was fitting because 4 days later I went to my 30 year high school reunion in the Hudson Valley.

The reunion was a blast and my face hurt from laughing so much. We all have different memories and it’s amazing what little details can bring back so much from events that took place so long ago. Many of us overstayed our welcome as the event ended at 11pm and we got to Erinn’s car at almost 2am! We didn’t want the night to end.

Ten days later, I was off to Soul Camp. As I mentioned last week, it was a beautiful way to celebrate the upcoming transformation of this lovely community of humans and to allow myself some respite from the overwhelming month of travel and reconnecting. My dear friend Tonia went to camp with me and we enjoyed a lovely road trip back to her place in Northern Cali. While Tonia and I have seen each other a few times since her baby was born, I was happy to witness this happy and healthy child who was born a bit too early 2.5 years ago.

After spending the night with her and her family, I was off to Nevada to visit my dad. We had a great time catching up and although our time together is brief, we usually cover quite a bit of territory.

It’s interesting that the stars aligned in such a way to have me reconnect with almost every family member and friend this past month and I am so grateful for it. While social media can fool us into thinking we are connecting, nothing beats spending time together in person.

Now that the countdown in on for the holidays, who are you looking forward to connecting with this season?

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Adieu Soul Camp

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Adieu Soul Camp

It’s funny how opportunities come along. My mind can’t even comprehend where I would be now if I never heard of Soul Camp. I can barely remember who I was then. So much has changed in my life which I owe to my Soul Camp experience. It opened my eyes and my heart.

Back in early 2015, I decided I wanted to travel more, so I intended to get out of the city every month. Either for a day trip or full-on vacation. From the time I chose this, all sorts of possibilities arose. One day, while having lunch with Jenny Powers, she told me about Michelle Garside and Ali Leipzig, the amazing women who had created an adult sleep-away camp, a spiritual Disneyland full of soulful experiences. I didn’t even really understand what that meant, but the dates were in September and I had nothing planned for that month.

Long story short, I arrived at Soul Camp thinking I knew everything and I left realizing I had so much left to learn. This first experience had taught me that there wasn’t a limit on happiness, and that it was ok and healthy to release your frustrations. Over the next 2 years I created a network of sisters unlike any bond I had imagined in the past.

Not only did I make wonderful new friends, I was able to deepen my connection with my best friend from high school, my sister-in-law and my mother-in-law. I was gathering my favorite people and we were learning the same language. I now have Soul Camp clients and business advisors which my work more pleasurable than I could have ever imagined.

 
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Soul Camp has not only changed my perception of the world, it’s taught me how we can bring this soulful learning into our business practices. I’ve learned how important it is to be the light to show people a different way of living and also not to be afraid of the dark side that rides along side of it.

Because of my Soul Camp experience over the past 4 years, here are some pretty incredible shifts that have occured in that time:

  • My 78 year old mother was able to avoid shoulder surgery by using Frankincense daily and 3 years later, she continues to have no pain

  • I have no chemicals or medications in my home, I only use Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade essential oils and I know how to use them

  • I have many crystals in my home and don’t leave the house without wearing them

  • I became a Certified Theta Healer and have found ways to use this modality to help my clients clear blocks and heal family and friends

  • I went from working alone to creating a team of 12 people to help me with the tasks I was not good at

  • I have a daily meditation and gratitude practice

  • I wrote a book

  • My work feels like play

  • I understand the importance of being off the grid (and my devices) to recharge my soul

  • I have a network of people who speak the same language as me and we want to make the world a better place

  • I attract perfect clients

On Saturday, October 27, we said so long to Soul Camp. This community isn’t going anywhere, but the platform is in metamorphosis. I can’t wait to see the next beautiful incarnation.

Thank you Soul Camp, it has been a blast!

TTFN



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Grateful Practice

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Grateful Practice

Today I am flying to the final Soul Camp West which is taking place in Sanger, CA. Although it’s bittersweet, the timing is perfect. I need a dose of nature and rest to counteract the last few busy months.

This month has been filled with wonderful new clients along with revisiting clients that I’ve worked with for years. I’ve never had so many active projects at once. While each client has vastly different needs, I’m grateful to be mapping out each day the night before. I cannot tell you how much comfort and clarity this offers me. As I have been intending the outcomes I expect, without any effort, things have shifted to allow my days to flow smoothly. There were many wild cards this week that could have turned everything upside down, but instead, it was all ease and flow, just how I like it.

Over the summer, I came up with a couple of non-negotiable daily practices: meditation and gratitude. I can clearly see the direct connection between the things I am appreciating and the way my days are coming together. This is what encourages me to continue with this practice, even when some days I only have time to do it on the subway.

I won’t pretend that I love sitting down to meditate. It’s a definite choice and there is resistance almost every morning. It’s kind of like eating vegetables. I know they are good for me, but sometimes the easier road calls. My phone beckons me to check my email, texts and social media. I’ve now taken notice that the days when I start with electronics first thing in the morning, things go downhill quickly.

This week’s tip is for those of you who may be struggling to get organized and just need the proper motivation. Try this on: for the rest of the week, write daily gratitude of how your space feels now that it is in order. Come from the perspective of it already being done and the benefits you have received from being more organized. These feelings will start to seep into your subconscious and you will begin to see ways to create order and make time to transform your space.

How would you like your space to feel? Please share in the comments!

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Watch your auto-pilot

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Watch your auto-pilot

Recently, it occurred to me that it’s not experts who write books. I mean, yes, there are experts who do write books, but the journey I’ve been on over the past year, especially during the editing process, has shown me how writing a book makes you an expert.  I know my content inside-out. I know exactly what I mean when I express an idea, including the backstory and future of that experience. It’s fascinating. At times, I can’t shut up about it and I can rarely get out of analyze mode during my everyday travels.

Last week, I went to visit my mom in Vermont. As I was walking to my gate in Terminal 5, it was as if I was seeing clearly what was going on for the first time. Mindset and awareness are pretty big topics in Consciously Creating Clear Space and all of a sudden, all of these shops in the terminal seemed like big welcoming arms to those in a vulnerable state.

Hear me out.

Our emotions play a big role in our purchases. Shopping is usually the culprit for those who are overwhelmed by their clutter. I started to think about the number of people who are traveling who are:

  • fearful of the the very idea of flying

  • anxious about visiting family

  • have a big work presentation

  • stranded at the airport

These can all be triggers and “stuff” is plentiful and appealing in these malls that we now fly out of. There are also the folks who are just ready to spend their vacation dollars too.

On this particular trip, I recognized that I used to have an “airport pattern” before I gave up sugar. I would find the snacks that I would “treat” myself to and all of other stuff I would end up buying to keep the high going.

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I’m a voyeur. I can’t help it. I still find myself looking. Rather than shaming myself, my strategy is to take a photo of what I find appealing. Like this journal I spotted from three stores away. The colors drew me in. And then, when I saw they were unicorns?!? Forget it. The Soul Camper inside of me was smitten. But . . . I have many, many unfinished and unused journals at home. I’m not allowing myself to purchase any new ones until those are used up. So I took a photo of it, and you know what? My life is no different without it. Had I purchased it, the thrill would be long gone by now and I’d have more stuff in my home. Looking at the photo, I can recall that fun memory so clearly.

I challenge you, for the rest of the week give it a try. Any impulse purchase that speaks to you, take a photo, and let the rush pass. Please share what your were drawn to and any emotions that you connected to it. It’s an easy way to start understanding your habits. If you are too shy to share publicly, please feel free to email me: smith@clearspacenyc.com




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It’s about time

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It’s about time

Happy October! A couple of weeks ago, I shared about the importance of being vulnerable to make progress in our lives, which got me thinking about the most crucial element in getting things done: Time.

The most common excuse I hear from people who aren’t organized is that they don’t have time to do it. My perspective is that time is wasted by not getting organized. It’s estimated that some spend up to a year of their lives looking for misplaced items. Maybe that’s where all of the time is going.

Time is also on my mind is because two weeks ago, my sister-in-law and I decided to hold each other accountable in setting up schedules for our busy lives. I was starting to feel completely overwhelmed by all that had to be done for my book. I was stressing myself out trying to figure out how could I accomplish it all. My concerns were that I would let busywork keep me from doing the necessary tasks to bring my book to completion.

I learned quickly that putting everything down on paper and scheduling it made a huge impact. When I saw the list of things I was trying to manage in my brain, it was no wonder I was stressed out. I could now see it, I didn’t have to think about it anymore. The pressure lifted. My accountability partner allowed me to talk it out and really work this system. We check in twice a week, talk about our plans and cheer each other on along the way.

I’m sure it’s obvious that I really don’t have a problem getting things done, but where I do need help is making space for the stuff I want to do for me: the projects I don’t get paid for: the non-work, filling of my tank and being creative just for the sake of it. I have been “wanting” to make time to paint for a long time, but I never put it on the calendar. Even when I started this new scheduling plan, I had put all of my tasks as appointments except for: workout for 30 minutes and paint. I noted those on the side to “fit in” when there was “time”.

But that’s it, we have to CHOOSE the time to do these things we say are important to us. Rather than wondering why I was resisting, I just sat down one night and painted this fox in the snow:

 
 

Why did I paint it? No reason. And it was an amazing experience! I was in the zone. It was freeing and super healthy time away from my phone and computer.

What’s on your list that you never make time for? Isn’t it about time you scheduled it? Who can you ask to hold you accountable? Please share with us in the comments.

If you are struggling with scheduling time to get organized, I have a few spots opening up this fall for my virtual coaching program. Schedule a call with me to talk about what you’re struggling with and we can see whether this is a good fit for you to finally tackle that area.

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Let’s Get Vulnerable

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Let’s Get Vulnerable

I know you’ve heard me talk about how we have to be willing to be vulnerable in order to break through the shackles of our stuff. I’ve witnessed so much bravery from my clients and been grateful to see the breakthroughs as they happen. Sometimes I can forget the importance of being vulnerable in my own life and the value it brings. Just because I have figured out how to create order and beauty in my life doesn’t mean I have resolved every area.

It’s easy to focus on others and help them through their stuff and make suggestions and be a catalyst. Sometimes this is how we avoid what is truly going on in our own lives and I’ve learned that anytime I get hyper-focused on the way someone else is handling a situation, it’s always a good time to go a bit deeper and ask where I see the same behavior in myself,. Rather than complaining about the way things are, it’s usually a sign that action needs to be taken.

Two weeks ago was a challenging time for me. Here are the actions I took when I started to feel some frustration:

1. High School Reunion FB live post: I woke up Monday morning and couldn’t stop thinking about how I wanted people to come to the reunion and I heard that ticket sales weren’t great. I could have just stopped there and shrugged my shoulders, but instead I thought, what can I do, other than complain? So I reached out to the reunion committee to see if they were cool with the idea of me doing a Facebook Live post in reunion group (they were super supportive) and I planned to do it that night. Well, 5 minutes before, I reverted right back to the shy and quiet 14 year old wondering who would possibly want to listen to what I have to say? I did it anyway - many of my old friends commented and we had some laughs. It definitely wasn’t easy, but it helped me connect with some friends, generate some energy and I received some lovely messages from people who thanked me for pushing them a bit.

2. Sept 11 FB post: When I got on FB 10 years ago, I promised myself that I would only post positive messages. I have held true to that. This year, for some reason, I was upset by many of the posts I saw about 9/11 and started blaming. I caught it early and meditated on how I was feeling. During my yoga practice, I realized that I need to write it out. After I wrote it out, I felt the need to share it. I was terrified. How dare I, someone who didn’t lose anyone I knew personally, share my perspective? As soon as I hit share, I cringed, fearful that I would upset someone or get a nasty response. But the complete opposite happened. I had many Thank You’s and Me Too’s and so much love and support that I finally was able to release all of my pent up emotions I had been holding onto for 17 years. Community gives us the power to heal.

3. Last week’s newsletter: Sometimes it’s hard for me to come up with content for webinars or FB Live’s because I need to know I am being helpful and not just creating content for the sake of it. I had been trying too hard to come up with something I hadn’t done before. I didn’t know until I was at the end of writing that post that I was going to offer to to a FB Live of my own seasonal clothing change-over. At first I thought, “I can’t do that!” Why? Because it felt like I might be judged or not do it right.

It’s during these times that we need to share because not only will we learn so much about ourselves, which is always helpful, but when we share we have the opportunity to help others who may feel the exact same way. So I ask you this week, where are you hiding? What might shift if you allow yourself to be a bit more vulnerable? Here’s an opportunity to be vulnerable: share your answers in the comments!

*If you missed the Live on Sunday, you can watch the replay on my Smith Banfield | Clear Space page. Did you watch the live? I’d love to know what was most interesting or valuable for you to learn or what other topics you would like me to cover. Please let me know!

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Change is a Biotch

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Change is a Biotch

With the change of seasons here on the East Coast, it’s a sloppy time of tank tops and flip flops navigating with sweaters and boots. My closet can become as eratic as the weather if I don’t have a plan. While most people say they like change, the reality is they don’t like the sloppy steps it takes to get there.

I see the blind eye people cast upon their messy closet. A shopping spree ensues instead of transitioning and eliminating. By embracing the changing of the seasons as an opportunity to get ahead of the chaos, we are in control. It’s a time to review what we wore, delete what’s outdated and know what our true needs are to round out our fall wardrobe.

Here are some thoughts to help you through this process:

1. Nothing is forever: Well, diamonds I guess, but that’s generally not the quality of items you need to wade through to organize a closet. It’s amazing to me how quickly the items that were so important three years ago, and sometimes only three months ago, are no longer meaningful now. You can’t trust that the way you felt in the past is the way you’ll feel forever. When you understand your own cycle of change, it becomes easier to release what’s no longer serving you. This is why it’s so important to go through, look at and touch it all, and see where your feelings have changed.

2. We are constantly evolving: The resistance that comes with going through our wardrobe is that we are forced to face our poor choices head on. It’s understandable to want to avoid this, but if we can work objectively, and investigate without judgement, we will see our shopping patterns. Who you are now is not who you were a year ago. If we study our layers of stuff, we can start recognizing our patterns. You may be surprised how this information helps you resist future impulse purchases. It’s a perfect moment to identify what becomes meaningless over what period of time. A year, a week? This is the first step to start recognizing waste before you bring it home.

3. Create the change: While it may seem easier to avoid this work altogether, you’ll need to face it at some point. Better to schedule an afternoon to take stock than to realize as you’re already late for work that the sweater you suddenly need because the temperature dropped overnight is now stretched out and ill-fitting. Yes, it takes an investment of time, but that time is on your terms, rather than creating stress when you least need it.

 
 

4. Let’s do it together!: Join me live on FB this Sunday, September 23 from 2-4pm EST and I will show you exactly how I change over my clothes and will answer questions live throughout. This will be a great way to hold each other accountable and learn strategies going forward to help you stay on top of this in the future. The only requirement is that you do all of your laundry before we start!

If you haven’t already, like my business page and be alerted when I go LIVE! Looking forward to “seeing” you then!

Will you be joining me? Let me know in the comments.



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The Devil is in the Details

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The Devil is in the Details

I have been known in the past to get hyper-focused on small details. I love macro photography and have kicked myself for not capturing a full scene while traveling for context. Like the image above of this beautiful on-brand teal jellyfish. There were loads of them on the beach and I only took individual closeups that day.  With this awareness, I have to remind myself in my work to pull back and make sure the whole is working before I finalize the fun finishing touches.

For my recent office update, I kept avoiding the Kallax shelving unit. Sometimes the big open areas of these shelves make it challenging to store without feeling cluttered. This was much easier to get away with when I had the shelves going the long way along the ground because they weren’t in my sightline. Now they were right in my face and I needed them to be functional and beautiful.

What wasn’t working?
-precious items often got knocked over or covered up because the scale of the shelf is too big
-shelves were too deep for books
-divide shelves without creating dead space

Big picture:
I decided to dedicate the left side to business and the right side to personal. Rather than splitting up top and bottom sections, this keeps me focused on both areas of my life to keep balance on my mind.

Browse options:
I’m not even sure what led me to the Ikea website, but I was thrilled to find the perfect solutions for my needs. I purchased all three not knowing if I could or would use them all. I intuitively tried them out in several ways:

-I immediately loved the Shelf Divider, even though I was uncertain if I would use it vertically or horizontally, or on the left side or right side. I love the way it breaks up the heaviness of books and allows me to divide by topics. 

-The Shelf Insert ended up being ideal for my altar, holding all of my precious items vertically without being lost on a shelf. This easily pops out for access to storage behind it. 

-The “Storage with Compartments” shelf was the perfect way to elevate my essential oils with plenty of room behind them for my tarot and inspirational cards. It allowed space underneath for the basket I bought in Nicaragua from the Women’s Collective to hold other necessities.

I’ve always loved The Container Store’s Water Hyacinth Storage Cubes and they bring a beautiful organic quality to these otherwise basic linear shelves. I was happy to place these on the bottom as they act like glorified drawers and give a sense of grounding to the unit. Best to only store larger items in these bins otherwise they become a mess instantly. On the left side I’ve placed items to give to my nieces and friends. The right side has all of my Theta healing manuals so I can easily grab them either before or after I meditate.

 
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Play around:
These shelves were on my mind for a few weeks before I started to arrange them. I kept refining and asking what was truly needed to serve my needs. When I was finally ready to take action, I had no agenda. I was ready to return any of the items that didn’t work and I wouldn’t have considered it a failure. It's important to remember that organizing is not a one and done solution. It is a continuous study of what’s working and what’s not, and always asking the question, “what would be better?”

Pick an area in your home and ask “What would be better?” Please share with us in the comments.
 

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Creating Personal Space

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Creating Personal Space

Wow! I really took my time with my office project. My pace is usually very quick but balancing my time with editing my book, working with clients and completing my office was definitely a challenge this go around. 

Here are my top 3 tips to help you stay on track and persevere to completion:

1. Your vision needs to be clear and inspiring: I started this project because I couldn’t believe how quickly my office had become a dead zone in my home filled with piles of crap. Granted, I had organized piles of crap - and they were absolutely uninspired. I avoided walking into my office because it just didn't feel good to me. This was the perfect opportunity to walk my talk and look at what was missing from my life: a place to do handstands, a place to meditate, and an inspiring and creative workspace. These were truly important to me and the touchstone to keep me moving throughout the project, even when weeks went by without time to work on it. Your vision doesn’t have to be a picture, it can be a feeling, a memory or even a new way of being. When things get tough or you get off course, remember that everything is ok and keep connecting to your vision. 

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2. Take it step by step: While planning sounds boring to some, I love it. Sure, I have my moments of flying by the seat of my pants and making changes on the fly; being adaptable is absolutely necessary. It’s also really important to understand the steps needed to get to the end. Getting the project out of your head and onto paper is the first step, and it creates ease. When the next step feels overwhelming, it means it needs to be broken down further. Sometimes a step may simply be to keep going when your amygdala is trying to protect you from the scary reality of change. Talk kindly to it and say, I am safe, change is good. Anticipating and welcoming these steps are signs of progress. I was blocked trying to figure out these shelves and IKEA came to the rescue with their perfect made-to-fit partitions.

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3. Celebrate the small victories along the way. As a culture, we are trained to focus on what’s wrong. During a transformation, you have to get through a mess in order to see the light. There is a lot of trust required to get through. If all you can celebrate is that you gave your neighbor an appliance or put a book out on the stoop, celebrate the fact that you were able to let go. It gets easier as momentum builds. Some celebrations may be that it didn’t turn out exactly as you expected. Look for the surprises, happy accidents are part of the fun. The vision and the plan are what help you take action, they are not the absolute end point, merely a direction. Many people get frustrated when they can’t find the exact solution they wanted. Rather than making it (or yourself wrong), expect that something better is on it’s way. 
 

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I didn’t plan on this little creative station on my desk, but I became inspired when I was at The Container Store for a meeting and saw this gold tray. The cup for the paintbrushes is technically for toothbrushes and the glass container I found in the kitchen department.  Remember to think outside of the box when looking for the proper containers. As I mentioned last week, trays are a beautiful way to create order. This little detail may be may favorite part of the whole transformation.

What could clearing some space in your home invite into your life?  Please share in the comments!


 

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For the Love of Boundaries

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For the Love of Boundaries

During the pursuit of re-organizing my office, I’ve found cluttery items around that needed a new solution. This week I will share how to strategically use trays and containers that create a sense of “collections” on your desk or tabletop, rather than clutter. Not unlike the boundaries we need for ourselves, these physical boundaries, as small as they may seem, are crucial to create ease in our everyday lives.

1. Test first: As I’ve recommended in the past, always test out any container with a found object before committing to a new purchase. Too many times I’ve witnessed “The Island of Misfit Containers” in my clients homes when they rush the purchase of pretty organizers without measuring or testing first. And like most people with clutter, you probably have lids of small boxes, or even shoe box lids that will be perfect for the trial period.

Example:  I used the bottom of a pretty little box that my reading glasses came in to hold the essential oils I used during my work day. All of my oils have a home in my bathroom, but for sake of efficiency, it made more sense to have zones for the oils that I used more frequently in different areas of my home on a regular basis.

2. What would be better?: After utilizing the new temporary container for a few weeks, start paying attention to what’s working and what isn’t? Is the location making sense? Is the tray too big or too small? What color would disappear into the background? Would labeling the container be helpful? Would a box make more sense than a tray?

Example: My box lid was proving to be a bit too small. I needed to fit about 5 more bottles and the taller roller bottles were tipping over. Even though the blush color was pretty, it didn’t coordinate well with my current palette.  

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3. Measure and source: Once you have realized the size, shape and color that would work best, take some quick measurements and start looking online or in stores to see what they have. Keep in mind that this may be the first of many containers you may choose to add to your space. It’s always best to stick with a neutral color as you may have to use different sources to find the sizes you need. Also, think outside of the categories they are sorted into. I have found great office trays in kitchen departments and pencil holders in the bathroom departments. Shop for the look and feel you are going for.

Example: I found the perfect container for my oils at Muji. I stopped there for another reason and was pleasantly surprised when I found this odd sized bin that was perfect for my needs. I went with a bamboo box as I have another bamboo container already on the shelf it will be sharing, and I like to stay away from plastic and use renewable resources like bamboo when possible. 

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There are a few more collections for me to create before my office is complete. Little by little it’s getting there, and I’m grateful that I’ve managed to stay patient and do it the right way. 
 

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Research & Plan

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Research & Plan

Much of my success with projects not only has to do with my experience, it also has to do with stopping and taking time to plan. All of the previous mistakes I have made by not planning has also taught me how many problems and additional time can be avoided by really thinking through the project from start to finish. For anyone who haven’t done a particular project before, research is your best friend.

I have never wallpapered. My mother wallpapered every wall in our home except for the kids bedrooms. I remembered it seeming like a pain in the ass at the time. Wallpaper has always symbolized “old-fashioned” to me and I’ve never really considered it. Over the past few years there have been great strides in this market with cool graphics and inspired modern designs. 

As I mentioned last week, wallpaper was not my first solution. I went with the super creative and overwhelming idea to paint a mural of birch trees. Wallpaper was the best solution with the time and resources I had available. I know removing wallpaper is a huge nightmare, so the self-adhesive option was the only way I would consider doing it, especially since I know that I get bored easily and didn’t want to be locked in. 

Before purchasing the paper, I read hundreds of reviews wanting to understand other people’s perspectives. What’s interesting about reviews is you have to read between the lines to consider: a. if the person writing speaks intelligently and offers helpful insight, b. the complaints are not just from one or two reviewers and c. that the person writing isn’t just being a jerk. It’s a tricky process but I do it before any big purchases and even some small ones. 

After reading many reviews on Amazon, there were some comments that made me realize I wanted a textured wallpaper that added depth to the overall effect, which they weren’t offering. I didn’t even know textured was an option.  One reviewer had mentioned the peel and stick wallpaper at Target and the reviews were mostly favorable, so I went for it.

Another website had a calculator to know how many rolls to order so I used that to find the quantity I needed. One of the reviewers said it was important that all of the lot numbers matched, meaning they were printed at the same time to avoid color or printing variations. I could only find the 4 rolls I needed online and when they arrived, there were 2 different lot numbers. I called my local store, and they said they had 2 rolls with one of the lot numbers I already had. When I went to pick it up, none of the numbers matched. I opted to keep what I had and hoped for the best.

Other reviewers said it was impossible to match up the pattern of the brick - super important to make it look good. I am extremely patient with this kind of stuff, so after reading a few more reviewers who explained how many inches the pattern repeated, I knew I could figure it out. I finally found a couple of hours one Sunday when I was supposed to be editing my book, and decided it was time to do this project. At least my procrastination helps me be productive in other areas of my life.

I went on YouTube to find step-by-step instructions and step one was to wash the walls and wait 24 hours. UUUUGGHGHGH! But I wanted to do it now!  I had to really talk myself out of proceeding, and the key reason I didn't move forward was because of all of the reviewers who had posted photos of their wallpaper that fell down overnight. That was my biggest concern but I quickly realized that probably happened because they didn’t follow the instructions. 

As you will see in the time lapse video below, This really was a breeze for me to do. I think beginning to end it was 3 hours, although I had to take breaks to speak with a few clients that afternoon. The hardest part was matching up the last three areas. It wasn’t easy, and you will notice, I spent as much time on those last spots as I did on the whole wall.

 
 

Overall I am beyond thrilled although I still have some work to do to complete the space. I am happy to report that I have meditated, done handstands, yoga and even mini trampoline workouts here. The space already feels refreshed and I’ve even spent time working at my desk!

Please share in the comments: Have you ever wallpapered? Would you? Why or why not?

 

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The Process of Transformation

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The Process of Transformation

What I have become present to is how most people aren’t aware of how often change happens in our lives and the ripple effect that comes from it. Within a year of switching from a desktop to a laptop, my office was abandoned. And I didn’t even notice. This was a pretty small shift, considering all that happens in our lives.

Last week I talked about the necessary transformation I needed to pump life back into my office. The image above was the “after” shot from the last time I transformed my office at the end of 2015. 

At that time, I was really excited to have finally raised my desk by adding drawers on each side and could now stand and work. My desk had been behind my sofa, and it had become convenient to have a surface there. I took the upright bookcase and laid it on it’s side and now had extra surfaces area for my work and to place a drink while sitting on the sofa.

From the time I was old enough to manage moving the furniture in my bedroom, I would often rearrange my space and I was always delighted by the new vibe it created. I knew immediately that freeing up the wall that the desk was currently on would help get my handstand practice back. This meant that the cubbies would have to go upright again and by placing them on the wall closer to the entrance of my space, it offered some privacy for meditating and a place for my altar.

I quickly became aware of some issues:

-the desk was taller than before. The back of the desk, which was just a countertop, was unfinished and unattactive. I could see the back of the top drawers and needed to solve for that. 

-the wall that the desk was on was stained and dinged-up from holes created by the mounted utility board that was above my desk. If I repainted this wall, all of the other walls would look dull by comparison. In no way was I prepared to have the entire room painted.

I opted for a very easy (and temporary) fix for both. Using what I had on hand, matte board (used for framing art) and brass nail heads, I was able to create a clean finished edge on the sofa side of the desk. It’s not perfect, but it gives me peace in the interim. 

For the wall, my ideas kept evolving. First, I was going to paint white birch trees along the entirety of the wall. I knew it could be beautiful, but I also know any spare time I have now has to go towards finishing my book. I remembered self-adhesive wallpaper was a thing, although I had never used it. I started googling “birch peel and stick wallpaper” but ultimately, the choices I found in my budget were a bit too cartoonlike. I knew the look I was going for and didn’t see it represented. I kept browsing and decided on white painted brick. 

I already have a contrast wall in my space, a dark blue wall going down the stairwell. Introducing another contrast wall had to be well thought out. I have small areas throughout my renovated pre-war home of exposed brick and thought it would be a cohesive choice.

I did a TON of research once I knew the effect I was looking for which I’ll talk more about next week.  

Check out my quick video below to see that this is a process. I didn’t have solid blocks of time to complete this over a weekend. To transform completley, it’s good to take time to settle in. Next week I’ll reveal the wallpapered handstand wall!
 

 
 

Have you ever moved the existing furniture around your space and had a profound new feeling of energy in your space? Please share in the comments below.

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Identifying Stagnation

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Identifying Stagnation

A little over a year ago, I had to say goodbye to by 27” iMac as it had finally pooped out. This wasn’t the first time I’ve had to deal with this but, with all of my talk about living with less, I wanted to explore simplifying all of the gadgets I owned. 

I opted for an iPad Pro instead of a laptop and spent an entire year trying to make it work. While overall it was a success, with the upcoming job of laying out and designing my book, Consciously Creating Clear Space, there wasn’t a solid solution without having access to an actual computer. 

Just before I left for Portugal, I decided to get a MacBook Pro. As much as I love, and still use my iPad Pro, it feels good to have the confidence of not having to deal with the glitchy-ness of apps and know that my book, and all of the energy I have put into this project, is safe. 

That said, with literally cutting the cord from a desktop computer over the last 15 months, a funny thing happened. I abandoned my office. I was so happy to be free from my desk that my entire book was written while laying on the sofa, making room for both the cat and my laptop. I enjoyed my newfound freedom to work sitting outside on the deck or at the kitchen table, and a few times, in bed when Ross was having a meeting upstairs.

 
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One day this spring, I looked at my office objectively and saw what it had become, a dumping ground. It was sad and uninspired, no wonder I didn’t want to spend time in there. The image above may not seem too bad. It does have order, but I didn't like how I felt when I was in there. 

This became a beautiful teaching moment for me: I had to reinvent that space because it’s what I preach about and I would document it along the way. I can’t authentically do my work without walking my talk. And the interesting part is, now I have the first-hand experience of how quickly spaces can become invisible and stagnant and how easily they can be turned around.

I’ve been needing and wanting personal space for a while. I was always frustrated that I had no available walls to do handstands against. I wanted privacy to do my yoga and meditating rather than in the middle of the living room, and as always, a space to be creating, drawing and painting. 

Knowing my needs and creating my vision were all that was necessary to motivate me into action. For the rest of the month, I will give you my process for reinventing my space, along with the pitfalls, struggles and epiphanies that happened along the way.

In the meantime, look around your home, do you see any dead spaces that could use a reinvention? Please share in the comments below.
 

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Be You Now

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Be You Now

Working with and hearing from people who give me all the reasons why they should hold onto their stuff has offered me many different perspectives. By “stuff”, I mean all the objects that have no purpose in their everyday lives and act as a magnet for all of the dead energy that comes through their home. While the stories may be different, the underlying issue is fear. There is desperation when they speak about these things, and also shame.

I am happy to help someone create space for any item they would like to have in their lives but the reason to hold on or to let go is never about the story they tell. Their body language, facial expressions and the emotions they exude give me all of the information I need. I share what I see and ask deeper questions. Why are they so conflicted? Is the item a burden that has been put upon them, a life-sentence they must endure, or simply and old pattern of thinking that’s no longer serving them?

I shared before about a woman and her weight-loss endeavors. She had moved from California about two years prior and had brought a large amount of clothing with her - most of which, she admitted, no longer fit. They were in garbage bags under her bed - the only storage space she had - where she was saving them for when she finally released all the extra weight she'd been carrying.

This clothing hadn't been worn in almost three years and took up a lot of space in her apartment, and in her head. I asked why she was holding onto the clothing, and she answered honestly, "Because I am afraid that if I get rid of the clothes, it means I quit on myself and gave up on this goal.”

Here’s what is true: getting these objects into the hands of someone, or many, who can use them to improve their life right now, allows space for something else to come into our own lives, whether it be a lover, a new job or the wardrobe we’ve always wanted. We are the only reason our life feels stuck.

When we take the time to question ourselves with curiosity, not judgement, and learn about who we are today, and who we want to become, we have a new lens through which we can view our stuff from the past. 

There may be good intentions behind why we keep certain items, but in the end, we're left with bad feelings. What may seem like just a bittersweet memory is actually a subtle form of self abuse that impacts the energy of our space and mind.

Think about yourself for a minute: Is the person you are right now represented in your home and in the items that surround you or are they holding you back? What's something you've been holding onto for reasons that may no longer make sense to keep? Please share in the comments!

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A Judgy Moment

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A Judgy Moment

While I’ve been editing my book, Consciously Creating Clear Space, I find myself questioning what I see around me all the time. I've realized over the past 6 years that in order for most people to clear their space and let go of things, we are inviting the wrong things into the environment, like plastic and other objects that are harmful to the earth, and therefore, harmful to us. 

There aren’t perfect recycling options for many things, like styrofoam or used ziplock bags, and when will we have another option other than PLASTIC GARBAGE BAGS?!! It can be maddening at times and I have to remind myself over and over again, we all just need to do the best we can for now.

Until better solutions are found, I am asking for all of us to look at our current shopping habits and start realizing that everything we purchase will ultimately end up in the ocean. When we can refrain from buying the unnecessary and make the earth's health our number one priority, and start looking for eco-friendly choices, the plastics industry will have to change the way they do business. 

A couple of weeks ago, I stopped in Nordstrom Rack to grab a white tank top. Like most who shop in these types of stores, I browsed a bit, but I’ve become very good at staying focused on what I need and getting out. As I was waiting in line to make my purchase, I noticed the woman in front of me pick up a bottle of water. You know how they do it in these stores, line up all those "convenient" items so you can mindlessly grab them.

I thought about her actual NEED of this bottle of water. Surely, she should have a refillable water bottle instead. Maybe she could wait until she got home, it wasn’t that hot out. As I judged this woman, I started noticing where my thoughts were headed and let it go. It’s none of my business what this woman’s choices are and I should just focus on myself.

A literal moment later, as I moved closer to the register, I was face-to-face with dark chocolate covered caramels and dark chocolate covered toffee. If you don’t know this about me already, I am quite the candy connoisseur and a serious sugar addict. I don’t say this for exaggeration, it’s actually true. This was one of those moments when I got swept away by “caramel or toffee?” They were both salted and beautiful; I could tell either would be a spectacular treat. I opted for toffee. I wondered if I had ever actually had salted toffee.  

At the register, the cashier gave me further evidence of my expert eye and said “Ooooooh, these are GOOOOOD! I have them at lunch everyday!” I may have felt another drip of judgment here, but I refocused on paying my bill so I could get outside and delve into my treats that were sure to make my taste buds go wild.

As I continued to walk down 6th Avenue on my way to an event, I wrestled with the packaging. Because of my sugar blindness - a term I just made up to explain that I can’t see anything but candy when it’s in front of me - I didn’t even notice that my chocolate delights looked so amazing because they were in a clear plastic box, sealed with tape. My heart sank. Who am I to be telling people to be mindful when they are shopping? I had just judged a woman for buying water seconds before I made my own mindless purchase that was not only bad for the environment, but also feeding my sugar addiction.

So here’s the bottom line. We aren’t perfect! It’s not possible or healthy to expect ourselves to be. We need to celebrate the small victories and do our best to eliminate some plastic from our purchases. Doing something is better than doing nothing. We have to be kind to ourselves and others if we want to make any sort of progress. I am celebrating that I gave up my daily drinking straw habit. It may not feel like enough, but as our awareness and forgiveness grows, powerful shifts will happen.
 

 

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Size matters

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Size matters

Recently while working with a client, I was reminded of one of the most common mistakes I see: The giant sized storage container. 

I understand why someone might think this is a good choice. It can hold a lot and it’s easier than buying a bunch of smaller containers. It appears to solve problems. The truth is, it creates many problems that we don’t think of until it’s too late.

I was helping my client by transforming the closets and storage areas in her Master and Guest bedrooms. Her previous renovation left her with extremely heavy wood sliding doors that were very difficult to open as they had never been on track properly. We ended up choosing The Container Store’s TCS Closets which are customizable and quite lovely. 

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Once we made it through the challenging demolition and installed the beautiful new closets, we worked on making order of her previously stored items as the space had changed. We found several jumbo sized bins that held her holiday items. My client had lovely upholstered and padded bins that held all of her precious and delicate ornaments. They were quite organized and luckily those bins fit perfectly back in the top of the new closets. The rest of the Christmas paraphernalia: wrapping paper, bows, cards, tissue paper and decorations, were randomly placed in 3 gigantic bins. 

Much like when we move, I recommend adhering to bins and boxes no larger than what a case of liquor comes in. This is not only a back saver; when storing anything up above your head, or that requires us to get on a step stool or ladder to access, it needs to be a more manageable size to protect us from getting injured.

 
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When we have the big bins, we fill them up, and while the items I listed don’t sound heavy, in a container that large, it’s awkward, unbalanced and very difficult to navigate. I chose The Container Store’s Deep Sweater Box which allowed us to separate all of the items into categories and will be much easier for my client to access when needed from her new beautiful closets.

 
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There are so many different sized storage containers because there are so many different things we can store. It’s great to keep in mind that the smaller an object you are storing is, the smaller the container needs to be. For example, when storing sewing supplies, it’s good to have a bin for fabric, a bin for thread and smaller containers for needles and thimbles. Those smaller bins can then live inside the fabric or thread bins. When the possibility exists for stuff to roll around or create a mess, dividing and conquering is the only way to go.

One may wonder what to use those big bins for. Ideally, we want to store lightweight large items, like extra comforters or pillow. Maybe rolls of bubble wrap or packing supplies.

Where do you have big bins that could use a bit of love? Please share in the comments!
 

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What is Comfort?

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What is Comfort?

We are so fortunate to actually be able to choose to be comfortable or not. Many in this world have no choice in the matter and are living very difficult lives. It’s wonderful to have comfortable furniture and a comfortable bed, but is the endgame really about having a comfortable life?

When I traveled to Portugal, I knew there would be discomfort to deal with: the overnight flight in economy, the language barrier, keeping up with the physical activities to name a few. Sophie Everard, founder of Mad to Live Retreats, mentioned quite early on in the trip that surfing was not glam, nor easy. It’s scrappy. The surfboards are heavy and need to be carted down the beach so we didn’t have to worry about crashing into other people. The water was 62º and the wetsuits needed were damp and stinky. Once we had a few drills, into the water we went, hoping to not get slammed by a wave, your board or someone else’s board.

So why do it? 

When we step outside of our comfort zone, we are usually faced with something we haven’t done before and that can be scary, or maybe, exciting. The great quote from Robert Heller says it all, “Fear is excitement without breath”. These two emotions are the flip side of each other. If we can remember this when we face our fears, and look for the excitement, progress happens.

Many people decide to deal with their clutter or disorganization when they finally can’t take the discomfort anymore. The funny thing is that they don’t realize how comfortable they were in the clutter until we start dismantling it. All of the fears come flying out. While they were living in disorder, it was familiar to them which registers in the body as comfort. When we start to spread it out and make a bigger mess of it, they are tested.

This is why having a vision they are excited by is so important in the process. It offers a beacon of hope, a path to follow, a way to see what’s been holding them back from living a life that is truly comfortable, not just the one they are used to living. It’s not a perfect ride, there are a lot of obstacles to hurdle, literally and figuratively.

 
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On the very last day of our retreat, I finally got out of my head long enough to stand up a few times on the board and it was thrilling! Had I gotten up the first day, maybe not as much? Sometimes when we try over and over again without giving up is when we truly feel victorious. It’s easy to try and fail. Persistence is what pumps us up so we can reach our goals.

When was the last time you were rewarded for stepping out of your comfort zone? Please share in the comments!

 

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Reevaluate your year

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Reevaluate your year

On the eve of the July 4, I offer you a new perspective. Yes, this is the holiday that we celebrate our independence from the British, but that doesn’t really resonate with me. For many years I have looked at the Fourth of July as a reset button for the year. I review all that I expected to do or implement for the year and give myself a second chance at reaching my goals. 

Many people set unrealistic expectations that are forgotten by mid-February. With the summer in full swing, I find it’s a great time to look back over the last 6 months and celebrate what I did take on successfully and also, at what didn’t happen. 

For example, I had an unusually busy spring with larger projects that allowed me to hit my financial goals easily. I’ve traveled to Sedona, had a personal retreat in the country and most recently returned from a delightful trip to Portugal. On the flip side, I expected to complete my upcoming book early this year. My workload became such that it wasn’t possible to work effectively with my clients and still make time for the editing process. I’ve always been hard on myself about not doing enough and I’m loosening that grip a bit without completely going into sloth mode. 

When I connect with WHY I had success in certain areas, I can then see how that information can be used to motivate the me where I didn’t. My choosing that travel be an important factor of my life allowed travel opportunities to show up. I didn’t seek any of them out. My choosing to have an abundance of clients brought them to me. In terms of my book, I learned a lot from my clients that reminded me of the important information I had left out. I can see the positive benefits of not rushing this process without beating myself up.

 
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I hope you are enjoying this brief vacation connecting with family and friends. If you can take some time to yourself, celebrate your victories of the past 6 months. Really appreciate all that you have accomplished. Then look at what you had hoped for this year, find your why and share with us! It’s not too late to achieve all that you want this year.
 

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Dear Lagos

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Dear Lagos

Twenty-six years ago, almost to the day, I arrived in Lagos after traveling without a place to sleep for 3 nights. I know this only because I read my one and only journal I’ve ever had, recording each days’ adventures for the 2 months I backpacked through Europe. Lagos was the true respite of my trip.

Prior to going to Portugal last month, I looked through my contact sheets and slides from that trip and was surprised to have only found 3 slides and one roll of film. Not much information for me to recall my time there. When I returned home, I read my journal it became very clear why I didn’t have it in me to take more photos.

I literally ran into a guy I had just graduated college with and his 2 friends in Bordeaux. I was running out of money - a big topic in the journal - and I was tired of making decisions, so I joined them as they were on their way to Pamplona to see the Running of the Bulls and from there we would head to Portugal. The three nights leading up to our arrival in Lagos were kinda crazy.

One night we couldn’t find accommodations so we tried to sleep in a park but it started to rain. We went to the train station and as we waited through the night for our train, the police officers would kick or hit you if you were sleeping. Obviously my eyes were wide open. The next night we ended up on a beach in San Sebastian. My not so chivalrous friends had tents, I only had a sleep sack, a sheet sewn on 2 sides to keep you from having to touch the hostel beds. Not only was I terrified to be sleeping out in the open, the sand was so cold, I couldn’t sleep at all. We were taking an overnight 8-hour train to Lagos the following evening. It started off fine, until we got kicked out of our seats because we didn’t have a reservation. I spent the entire trip standing or squatting in the aisles, I honestly don’t know how I did it.

 
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Without reading my journal, I knew Lagos was my favorite place of my entire European journey but I wasn’t sure why. When I arrived for the surfing retreat, it all came back to me. The lack of advertising, small crowds, white buildings with colorful and interesting doors felt so peaceful to me.  The streets, some closed off to cars, are made of white, black and red cobblestones that have beautiful patterns. If you’ve ever been to Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, the same designs can be found there. The history and richness of a long past are obvious and celebrated.

 
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I am overwhelmed on a daily basis by all of the advertising, signage and logos that are plastered everywhere in most modern cities. In comparison to other cities, Lagos would be the Clear Space version of city life. Lagos feels peaceful, you can actually see the ancient buildings and gorgeous landscape. The pace, relaxed and inviting.

Our environment impacts us, inside our homes and out. The clear space in my home has been necessary in order to decompress from all of the stimulation that has been outside my door for the past 24 years in NYC.

Please share with me, where do you find your respite from everyday life?

 

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The fear thing

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The fear thing

In January, while Jae Ruax, founder of The Fiena Group, and I were catching up, she told me that the UK founding members would be heading to Portugal for a surfing adventure in June. The second she said it, I knew I had to go.  Sophie Everart, total surfer babe and Mad to Live founder, who believes strongly in empowering women to play all out in life, created an amazing adventure for our crew.

It wasn’t until April that I learned the dates and location of this retreat. Lagos, a lovely beachside town in the Algarve which I remember fondly from my post-college backpacking trip from 26 years ago (time sure does fly!). I was really excited to go back to Europe after all of these years, spending a week with like-minded women who were up for magic, soul and adventure.

A few days before the trip I started to look at Sophie’s previous retreats. Suddenly, I wondered if I was in good enough shape to keep up with all of the activities. Sure, they were optional, but how was I going to miss out on any of it? And the other women on the trip, as I checked them out on social media, suddenly I realized that I was the oldest one on the trip. Another fear rearing it’s ugly head.

It’s normal for our fears to pop up when we are doing something outside of our daily routine, but I was surprised. I mean, I consider myself adventurous. I don’t perceive myself as old. I certainly haven’t been in top shape for awhile, but suddenly I was making myself wrong for it. As I’ve mentioned in many posts in the past, in my current business, I have spent most of my time feeling the fear and doing it anyway. I recognize clearly that this is how progress is made but it doesn’t mean it’s comfortable or easy.

When I am working with my clients, I am there to support them through these moments of self-doubt, fear and judgement. Most of my clients think they are alone in these feelings when in fact, anyone who is struggling with their space has to deal with them at some point.

Of course, now being on the other side of this trip, the fears were unfounded and kind of silly, but I wouldn’t have learned that if I let the fear stop me. Of course, new fears popped up along my week in Portugal, that were more serious and by working through them, I have had new revelations about myself. I have many stories to share about this trip, and I will in the coming weeks. I thought I could wrap it up in one post, but there are too many significant moments and I don’t want to water any of it down.

Please share in the comments below, what fears have held you back in your life?

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