Do you believe in Magic?

I have to admit that I’ve never been a big fan of magicians and their magic tricks (sorry to any magician’s who might be reading this). It’s just not my thing. I wonder why? Can I not allow myself to forget the practical and realistic and believe that what I’m seeing is truly magic and not just a skilled trick of the hand?!

I do, however believe in magic of a different kind.

This past summer I read a book that would make me believe in a new kind of magic, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. I have to admit that my initial attraction to the book was brought on by my love for order and tidiness in my home and life, however, this book offers SO much more than this. The clue to this should have been in the book’s title but before I delved in, I just assumed that it meant that once your house is in order, you magically feel proud and satisfied! IMG_1832

This is where I was wrong.

The book begins by explaining the author’s history of a life-long passion for organizing. Having grown up in Japan, where space is limited, keeping order in the house was essential. From a young age Marie Kondo tried every method of tidying only to find that sooner or later, things became cluttered again. She struggled with the why of this for many years. Her passion to answer this question, led her to develop her own method, which she named “the Konmari Method”.

Let the magic begin.

One distinct difference to the Konmari method is that you tidy by category and not by room. For example, when dealing with your clothing you must gather all your clothing together in one spot. This means everything in your daily closet everything from the coat closet, the guest room closet (don’t pretend you don’t do this!) and out of season storage. This way you can see and deal with it all in one fell swoop! The next revolutionary step is to ask the million-dollar question…

Does this spark joy?

Rather than asking have I worn this in the last year, or does this fit well, the Konmari method asks you to touch each piece and ask “Does this spark joy?” asking out loud is even better! OK, I know it sounds a little funny at first, but trust me, you do get a feeling, and the more you touch things and the more you ask the question, the easier the answer comes to you. Just this question alone has changed how I approach everything in my house and everything I have brought into my house since. This has extended to when I’m shopping. I ask myself this question and I hold everything I buy, from a set of measuring spoons to a pair of shoes, to a higher standard before making a decision as to whether they are coming home with me.

Thank you for your service.

If an item is headed to the “Discard” pile, you don’t just toss it on there, but first you must thank it. This could be “thank you for all the wear I’ve had out of you”, “thank you for making me look so good at parties”, “thank you for teaching me what doesn’t suit me” (for all those things worn once or with tags still on). You get the idea. I got so excited about this whole method and powered through every category in my house. I donated bags upon bags to the local hospital thrift shop every week. When I was having a crazy productive day, I’d be there twice in one day! Many things also found their way into the trash and recycling and with every bag and trunk load that left the building the house breathed a little lighter. My husband never quite knew what he was coming home to every day and just kept saying, “I hope I’m not next!” :) That Randall! There is a recommended order that you approach this whole process, (of course there is) beginning with clothing, books, papers, komono (miscellaneous e.g. makeup, kitchen items, spare change), sentimental items and photos. She starts you out with the easier categories and works up to the more difficult ones, by which time you’ve become a pro at asking the all important question. IMG_1836

Where does the magic come in?

Well, it’s not in the finished result of orderly drawers with space to spare and cleaner surfaces with less to dust. The true magic comes from looking at things in a deeper way, dealing with things you may have been avoiding and the emotions around them, and ultimately in letting go of things. So often our “things” have many memories and emotions caught up in them. Some of these memories are good and some are sad or difficult. For me the hardest categories were papers (due to stacks of medical files), boxes of my mother’s belongings (who passed away 9 years ago), and let’s not forget the BIG bag of bras :) Well, Marie Kondo’s method helped me open up files and boxes and bags that had been “behind closed doors”, not necessarily cluttering my house but most definitely cluttering my mind. We often hold onto these items because of an attachment to our past, or a fear of the future.

Silence is golden.

These things no longer shout at me from inside a box or cupboard. I came face-to-face with them all and I touched them and read them, saved some, and parted with some and even turned some into my photography project “Cups of Prevention”! Who would have ever thought?! Not me! So yes, it was a magical, life-changing, freeing experience and I am now a true believer in…

The life-changing magic of tidying up!

Do you have things that shout at you from behind closed doors? Are you ready to embark on a life-changing journey of “tidying up”? Or maybe you have some fabulous tips to share with all of us – we’d love to hear. Please share below. email_signoff1

Start Before You’re Ready

What does it mean to start before you’re ready?

When I thought hard about the times in my life I have done this, my mind took me waaaaaay back to when I was learning to ride a bike. I started out on grass with my older brother running along side of me holding the handlebars, as I weaved down the lawn. I was gaining confidence and was determined to be able to ride my bike by the time my dad came home from work, to surprise him. I waited at the top of the road knowing he’d be arriving any minute and as he turned in, I set off cycling towards him, wobbling away. I reached the now parked car just as he was getting out and was so excited to show him my new skill that I lost my focus and fell into the car and put a nice big scratch down the side! People are more important than cars! Thankfully my dad, (who had the patience of a saint), didn’t yell at me but, as I had hoped, was thrilled to see me (almost) master my new bike. Was I really ready to ride that bike? Not really, but when are we ever really ready for anything? If we don’t try or start, we run the risk of doing nothing. Playing it safe doesn’t make memories like these :)

To boldy go…

The next memory that popped into my head was starting primary school (grade school in the US). I could hardly wait to go. I had my new school bag packed for weeks before the BIG day and everyone who visited our house had to be shown my bag and all its contents. I clearly remember wanting to put an apple in there and my mum telling me it would go bad before it was time to go to school. Of course, I had my outfit planned too :) IMG_0311

The big day!

However, this was not the beginning of a new school year and I wasn’t starting school with lots of other new children. Because my birthday fell in April, I was allowed to start early after the Easter holiday and not wait till after summer. This was “optional” but as I was so anxious to get to school my parents enrolled me. So there I was, the only new pupil at school that day and suddenly all that excitement turned to fear. I walked into a classroom of children who would essentially all be in the year ahead of me after the summer break. Uh, oh, what was I thinking? Just when I thought I might cry, a girl came up to me and took my hand. I never looked back!

Ignorance is bliss

When I think about these childhood events, I wonder what was in me at that young age that gave me the courage to start before I was ready? Maybe the wonderful thing about being a child is that you don’t overthink things or think too far ahead, that you talk yourself out of doing something. As adults we love to come up with all the practical, rational reasons why we shouldn’t do something and we can talk ourselves out of just about anything and make ourselves believe it was the right decision.

What holds us back?

Mostly I think we’re afraid to fail. We’re afraid of being judged… and what will people think of us! Let’s bring back the boldness of our youth! Let’s DO, and TRY, and FAIL, and TRY AGAIN, and SUCCEED and feel BRAVE and PROUD and VIBRANT and ALIVE and BOLD! It’s never too late to start before you’re ready! What would you like to start? Please be brave and share below. email_signoff1_name

It Only Takes a Moment to Change Your Life

We hear it all the time “live in the moment” which is, without a doubt a lovely concept, but not always easy to achieve. Our lives are so busy and so full, that moments can pass us by, barely noticed. Sometimes we catch ourselves in a great moment that we know we should truly be savoring, but our mind is already wondering off to the next thing. Maybe we’re wondering how busy the traffic is going to be, what we’re making for dinner and how we’re going to fit in that load of laundry before the morning. Our minds can be so full and distracted that sometimes we don’t get to fully enjoy the moment, no matter how great it is.

Your presence is your present!

Being truly present in the moment is a continuing challenge for me, and I doubt I’m alone. It is not easy to clear your mind and not think about what you’re doing next and whether you even have time for this “moment”. It could be that you bump into a friend at the post office. You’re thrilled to see them, and enjoy chatting and catching up but in the back of your mind you’re thinking I didn’t plan for this. I only allowed 5 minutes in my schedule for the post office visit and now I’m going to be behind on the rest of my day. Meanwhile, you’re missing out on the joy of being with your friend. Wouldn’t it be nice to just be able to put all that other stuff out of our heads and simply be? IMG_8295

Who said there are no second chances?

I decided that I will indeed continue to work on “living in the moment” but I also thought that perhaps there was something else I could do to honor the very concept of “moments” while I practice. Here’s what I came up with.
I will take a moment (or two) everyday to recapture a past moment in my life. To visualize it and enjoy the wonderful feelings surrounding it and to appreciate it for all that it was. It will be like I’m giving that moment a second chance and giving myself a second chance to be more present in it.
There are so many moments that change and define our lives. I know that sometimes these moments can be sad, but for now, I am choosing to focus on the happy, positive ones and I encourage you to do the same.

So I’m asking you to join me...

And maybe take some time in your day to recapture a special moment in your life and to appreciate how that moment made such an impact. When I started to think about how many moments there are that brought me joy or changed my life in a wonderful way…well, wow! I don’t think I’m going to run out! So for now, I’m going to continue working on living in the moment and spending a moment re-living some life changing ones too :) Will you join me? email_signoff1_name

Be Kind to Yourself… “I Can Hear You!”

Have you ever considered that your own thoughts could be hurting you?

You’ve heard the saying ”you are what you think you are.” DSC_0166 If a friend came to you feeling down because of something they felt they failed at or did wrong, you would comfort them and do your best to make them feel better. You would tell them not to worry, its not your fault, and don’t beat yourself up about it. You would never say, “Oh, you’re right, that was a really dumb thing to do. What a poor choice you made, you deserve to feel bad”.   Yet, we beat ourselves up about all sorts of things, big and small, on a daily basis. So you ate the whole bag of chips when you promised yourself you would just have a handful. Now you’re telling yourself you know what... So, you promised to bake four-dozen homemade cookies for a school fundraiser and ended up buying them instead, because you ran out of time. You tell yourself what a bad mother you are, what a poor planner you are with terrible time management skills. “I just never seem to be able to do anything right.” So, you don’t workout for a week. You start criticizing yourself and your poor body. Look at that roll. Wow, my butt is getting big. No wonder I don’t have a boyfriend. Who would want me? I’m a fat loser! So, you drop a whole bottle of olive oil on your kitchen floor as you’re rushing to get dinner on the table. There’s glass and oil EVERYWHERE! This is a bad one. You yell at yourself! You’re mad at yourself! You tell yourself how clumsy and stupid you are. Now, dinner is going to be even later, because you‘ve got to stop and clean this up. Stupid, Stupid, Stupid!!! STOP THE BUS! My calm thoughtful husband always manages to help me put things in perspective by asking me “did anyone lose an arm?” Thankfully, I have always been able to reply “no”! Then, it’s not that bad and not worth getting upset over. Ah, I feel better already.

So why do we have such a hard time being nice to ourselves?

We have great compassion for others. Are we not just as worthy of our own compassion? We put such unreasonable expectations on ourselves, and when we’re not as perfect as we think we should be, or we don’t achieve all that we think we should, or when we think we mess up in some way, we beat ourselves up about it.

I can hear you!

Do you really think your negative thoughts are not affecting you? You can hear them! If you keep telling yourself something long enough, you start to believe it. Those thoughts become part of you. Every cell in your body takes on the energy of your thoughts. Speak nicely to yourself. Just like the critical words of others hurt you, your own critical words hurt you just as much, if not more. We say things to ourselves that we would never dream of saying to another human being. So give yourself a break! Fill your mind with positive thoughts, not negative ones. Go ahead; tell yourself how great you truly are! Compliment yourself on that fabulous idea of yours, how infectious your laugh is, how beautiful your eyes are, how strong you are, how kind you are, how creative you are. Thank the universe for giving you so many wonderful talents. Fill your head with positive, kind thoughts and feel the difference. So the next time you catch yourself being mean or critical of yourself, STOP! So what if you mess up! Be kind to yourself! With Love, email_signoff1_name