Change is a Biotch

Comment

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 It’s a time to review what we wore, delete what’s outdated and know what our true needs are to round out our fall wardrobe.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.



Comment

The Devil is in the Details

Comment

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.

 
IMG_3696.jpeg
 

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.
 

Comment

Creating Personal Space

1 Comment

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. 

IMG_0744.jpeg

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.

IMG_3549-1.jpeg

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. 
 

IMG_3564.jpeg
IMG_3560.jpeg

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!


 

1 Comment

For the Love of Boundaries

Comment

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.  

IMG_2759.jpeg

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. 

IMG_3509-1.jpeg

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. 
 

Comment

Research & Plan

Comment

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?

 

Comment

The Process of Transformation

Comment

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.

Comment

Identifying Stagnation

2 Comments

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.

 
IMG_2472.jpeg
 

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.
 

2 Comments

Be You Now

Comment

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!

Comment

A Judgy Moment

Comment

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.
 

 

Comment

Size matters

Comment

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. 

IMG_2134.jpeg
IMG_0304.jpeg

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.

 
IMG_1540.jpeg
 

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.

 
IMG_1541.jpeg
 

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!
 

Comment

What is Comfort?

Comment

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.

 
smith surf 2.jpeg
 

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!

 

Comment

Reevaluate your year

2 Comments

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.

 
R0010665.jpg
 

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.
 

2 Comments

Dear Lagos

2 Comments

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.

 
IMG_0626.jpg
 

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.

 
IMG_0795.jpg
 

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?

 

2 Comments

The fear thing

2 Comments

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?

2 Comments

Use What You Have

Comment

Use What You Have

I’m still in Lagos having an incredible week with these lovely and inspiring ladies. I’ll report back next week about the trip in its entirety. In the meantime, I’ll tell you about one of my attempts to loosen the grip of my ziplock bag addiction.

I love glassware, especially the super thin and fragile kind. In the past, my heart has broken every time a glass was dropped. I come from a family who still has wine glasses from over 30 years ago, so I recognize that I was taught to believe glasses lasted forever. My husband comes from the idea that glasses break, so there’s no attachment for him.

My mother-in-law Jocelynn and I have had a tradition of making strawberry jelly for years. Since Ross loves it on top of his ice cream, we ended up having a bunch of mason jars around the house. One day I decided, even though they don’t have the thin lip that I prefer, that these were going to be our new drinking glasses. These glasses have broken as well, but I don’t feel quite as sad when they do.

blog 5 image for 4th paragraph.png

Several years ago, I came across these great BPA free lids which I love because they don’t rust out like the normal metal tops do. I love that I can write on the lids to store things as well. Now my glassware doubles as food storage. This doesn’t completely solve all of my ziplock needs, but it greatly reduces the amount that I would normally use.

Mason jars have had a renaissance for those who are looking to live without plastic for many years and now there are quite a few additions to the variety of lids and accessories available. There are lids with silicone straws for kids, lids to create soap dispensers, and silicone sleeves to protect your glass if you take your iced coffee to go.

Let me know in the comments below, is there anything in your home that you can create another use for?

 

Comment

Something is better than nothing

4 Comments

Something is better than nothing

Today I am writing from Portugal, my first day of the 9 days I will be here with a group of women from the UK who are all part of the Fiena Members Club. I recently was asked by Jae Ruax, founder of The Fiena Group, to be one of the founding members of the New York Chapter. Jae created the private members club for contemporary female pioneers to inspire Magic, Adventure and Soul globally. How could I resist being a part of this opportunity? And this trip I’m on? I wasn’t even invited. Jae mentioned it to me and immediately I said, “I’m coming!”

I arrived the day before the retreat began so I needed to find one night’s accommodation near the airport on Faro Island. As I do with many of my trips, I chose an Airbnb near the beach. The first thing I noticed was how clean this beach is. There were plenty of recycling and trash receptacles. I saw women who work at a local restaurant sweeping the sand off of the boardwalk that the wind had blown there. It was with pride that they were doing this work, not the drudergy of having to do a job.

The hardest part about writing the Consciously Creating Clear Space book is that I haven’t figured out all of the solutions for us to live in a world without plastic. I understand it’s not my job to solve the plastic problem, but my mind naturally wants an answer. I have become completely overwhelmed by the idea of all of the plastic out there. It feels insurmountable.

Like when I am on the plane and I notice all of the headphones they are handing out in little plastic bags. Sure, they seem to collect them again, but when I start calculating all of the people on the flight and then start thinking about how many flights there are every day or every year, it’s a huge amount of waste. Of course there are are all of the plastic cups for drinking and the plastic wrapped snacks. 

What I’ve realized is that even though I can’t stop using all plastic, I’ve create an awareness around it so when someone hands me a shopping bag, I can politely say no thank you. I was in Target the day I was leaving to get a few last minute items for my trip and I opted to scan my items myself instead of waiting for a cashier. As we all can be at times, I was on autopilot as I was doing the self checkout. I’m so grateful that the register display asked me how many bags I brought. I had already started to fill a plastic bag and then removed them and put my items straight in my backpack. The convenience of the bags being right in front of me had me operating without thinking. I’ve already quit my drinking straw habit and now I’m focused on a replacement for my guilty pleasure, those handy ziplock bags.

Once we have awareness around the problem, we can start noticing our unhealthy habits and create new ones. This doesn’t mean that you beat yourself up for using a plastic bag, but don’t be so quick to throw them out. Definitely give it a second use and if your supermarket takes bags for recycling, make a new habit of bringing your collection of bags back to the store once a month.

There is a lot of great news out there where single use plastic items are being banned in other countries, which gives me hope that the US will follow suit sooner rather than later. I feel that ultimately this will become a problem of the past, but in the meantime, you don’t have to wait  for laws to be changed. By simply paying attention to the present moment and seeing your options: to decline plasticware with your take out food, bringing bags when you shop, or like me, just living without needing a straw everyday.

Please tell me, what is one category of plastic you can give up to help the environment?
 

4 Comments

What Are We Doing?

2 Comments

What Are We Doing?

On our last day in Nicaragua, we traveled from Monty’s to the El Limonel Dump in Chinandega to cook lunch and feed the families who were displaced here after a volcanic eruption devastated their village. It was about 95º and we were there to cook soup for the 200 families that called El Limonel home. 

IMG_0666.jpeg

I had been hearing about the dump since I arrived in Nicaragua and I was trying to understand why a community was living there. One story was that they were sent temporarily during the evacuation and then forgotten about. I also heard that the community chose to stay. Either way, we were in a severely impoverished area and the sight of the old school bus we arrived on sent the kids chasing us through the streets. 

It’s always amazes me to see the pure joy that comes from those who have so little. In 2006, my mom and I traveled to Thailand and visited an orphanage. These kids were so much fun and full of happiness. I often wonder if the abundance we have created for ourselves and the accumulation of things is somehow connected to the millions who are suffering with depression.

I was relieved to see that we were preparing a soup from fresh vegetables and chicken, which we chopped up with rusty, dull and dented knives in a makeshift outdoor kitchen. The soup was cooking in three enormous cauldrons over a wood fire. While the soup was simmering, a group of us went to see the dump. Walking over to the dump, I saw some houses that had been made from cement blocks while others were more like what one might see in the impoverished areas of India. Makeshift dwellings that a swift wind could dismantle. Again, we were surrounded by children who wanted to hold our hands, get piggyback rides, all laughter and smiles.

 
IMG_0591.jpeg
 

The sight of the dump stunned me. The first thing I thought was “What are we doing?” This dump, in a small area of a small country, was enormous. This country doesn’t even have close the resources and money that we have in America. It made me wonder how vast and full our dumps are in America that we never see. The garbage men just take it all “away”.

While trying to hide my tears behind my sunglasses, one of my friends was holding a girl who was about 4 years old. She lifted up my glasses, totally exposing me and I feared that she would think I was sad for her. I couldn’t be more wrong. All she wanted to do was make me smile again, and she succeeded.

We are a disposable society basing our choices primarily on convenience. I’m not excluding myself from this, I’m not pointing fingers. I am truly confused by how to proceed in my life that is so full already, and how to now make my choices that are both good for me AND for the planet. 

In my forthcoming posts and the Consciously Creating Clear Space book, I will share alternatives, ideas and strategies to strike a balance and always look for the win-win. For years I’ve been talking about donating things we no longer use to those who are in need, but there is a tremendous amount of waste I come across with my clients that has nowhere to go but the dump. It’s time for a shift and with that shift, new opportunities and solutions have to evolve.

I would love to hear your thoughts on what small shifts you can make to keep things out of the landfill.

2 Comments

Cycles of Nature

2 Comments

Cycles of Nature

A few weeks ago I went to the country to work on my book for a long weekend. I stayed at a lovely Airbnb where all I could hear were the birds and the river. I grew up in an area not far from this place and it was good to get back to my roots. 

As a child, I would spend a lot of time in the woods and revisiting that experience was like teleporting back to being a kid. The forest looked and smelled the same, moss and fungi covered stumps of trees, brambles and thorns to navigate, critters scurrying here and there. 

What was surprising to see were all of the enormous downed trees, pulled out by their roots. I can only imagine that this destruction was from Hurricane Irene or Sandy six or seven years ago. It got me thinking about how the earth is constantly changing, destruction and renewal. The past year there have been so many devastating natural disasters: floods, fires, mudslides and most recently the volcano eruption and earthquakes in Hawaii.

I’ve never thought much about volcanoes, as the only portrayal I’ve ever seen was a movie altered version of it. Seeing a video on Facebook of the slow ooze of the magma crossing a road and engulfing a car is enough to give me nightmares. 
 
Back in Nicaragua, one of our crazy adventures was to climb up an active volcano, Cerra Negro (Black Hill), and ride a board down it from the top. The ride down was fun, even if I ended up with a mouthful of ash. The highlight for me was the view during the climb up. It was a rare perspective to see the flow of lava from the past eruptions. Life was destroyed up until the point where the lava stopped flowing.

 
IMG_1002.jpeg
 

Mother Nature clearly understands the need for renewal. I think we can learn a lot from her. It doesn’t have to be quite as dramatic, but letting go of the old stagnant energy in our lives is necessary for new growth. Many of my clients often talk about feeling stuck. The stagnant energy of clutter is like cement, holding us in place. We need to break it down so we can free ourselves and move on to the next stage of our lives. Holding onto our past doesn’t prevent us from growing older. It actually makes time pass us by.

In next week's post, I’ll be sharing another profound experience from Nicaragua when we visited a community that was displaced due to a volcanic eruption.

In the meantime, tell me, what area of your home is due for renewal?

2 Comments

Baby Sea Turtles!

4 Comments

Baby Sea Turtles!

It’s hard to believe how much has happened in my life since I started writing Consciously Creating Clear Space six months ago. Those who have been cheering me on in the Facebook group know that the title occurred to me several months ago and it still feels right. I’m currently in the editing phase which is a completely new process for me. The momentum has slowed a bit and I am doing my best to be patient with myself and get the message truly clear, motivational and relevant.

The most significant realization while writing is that I didn’t expect for the book to have a life of it’s own. My adventures unexpectedly gave me lessons that had to be included and expanded the scope of the message I am putting out into the world.

Last December, I traveled to Nicaragua with Chantelle Adams as part of her Courage Ignited retreat with 11 other women. These women are all up to great things in this world and Chantelle created a beautiful combination of business, fun and adventure.

IMG_9871.jpg

The absolute highlight of my trip was releasing baby sea turtles almost every evening at sunset, almost 1000 were released the week we were there. Donald Montgomery, founder of Monty’s Beach Lodge, created a hatchery on his property in hopes of keeping these beautiful creatures safe from extinction.

To be able to witness these creatures as they emerge from their shells was fascinating, they are ready to go from that first moment, instinctually tracking themselves towards the ocean. Their strength was surprising and I fell in love with each and every one of them.

We all seem to know about the plastic that washes up on the beaches and the “island of trash” floating out in the Pacific and more recently, in the Caribbean. I keep coming back to the thought that this is just the trash that is floating, the stuff that is visible. There is so much more garbage that we don't even talk about that is below the surface and all over the ocean floor.

We learned from Monty’s that only one in a thousand sea turtles will make it to adulthood. Sure, there are a lot of predators out there who will prey on them, but I became acutely aware that the disposable plastic straw that is offered to me for my iced coffee or green juice, that I don’t think much about, is a big factor in marine life. While I wouldn’t dream of littering or throwing plastic into the ocean, as a society we need to learn that by simply using these items, even when we dispose of them “correctly”, we are a part of the problem. 

The goal of Consciously Creating Clear Space is to help people learn how to live surrounded by only the things that light them up, how to create systems of order that work the way their brain does and live in a home environment that truly feels customized to them. In addition, I implore my readers to think globally with each purchase they are making or items they are unconsciously using. If we could all think a few steps ahead before we buy something, these very small shifts that we will hardly notice in our lives, have the power to save the planet.

IMG_0829.jpeg

My commitment is to give up buying beverages to go while I’m out and about. I carry my reusable water bottle with me and I’ll be sure to have paper straws in my bag *just in case* I need a green juice on the run.

In the coming weeks I’ll be sharing more about my Nicaraguan adventures and lessons, and more updates about the book. In the meantime, please tell me in the comments below: 

What is one small shift you can make in your life today?
 

4 Comments

Clear Space - the book!

Comment

Clear Space - the book!

Thanks for your patience as I’ve been diligently working on my book over the last 6 weeks. 

I will be on hiatus with the newsletters until the book is finished. Please watch the video for more information and join me in the Creating the Clear Space Book - Cheer Me On facebook group by clicking here. I'd love your support! ❤️

 
 

The newsletter will resume in the new year - hope you will join us in the group - have a great week!

smith sign.png
 

Comment