Clear Clutter: Keep What You Love

Imagine having a life where everything you have matters.
Consider taking a day or a weekend to purge your life of mediocrity.
Tear your house apart and put back only the things that matter.
Is this so radical?
We as a society have filled our lives with things that marketing and other people tell us we need.
We buy clothes that we don’t feel good in because they are the fashion.
We decorate our homes with designs we found in the latest glossy magazine.

What if you just keep what makes you smile?

Start with the bedroom

Pull everything out of your closet.
Pile it on the bed.
Put back only the clothes you wear every week.
Pick three of your most loved outfits for work, love, and play.
Bag up the rest immediately.
Work quickly and act on instinct.

If you don’t adore it don’t keep it.

Now dump the dresser drawers on your bed.
Throw away singular socks, worn out underwear, and give away the sleepwear you never use.
Once again, work quickly and keep only what you love and use.
Now look around the room and get rid of magazines, perfume you never wear, and dust collectors,

Get rid of the boyfriend that leaves his stuff around and verbally abuses you.

Kick them all to the curb.

Start fresh.

Next comes the bathroom

Throw away cosmetics or personal care products that are old or never used.
Get rid of old shampoo bottles and the razor that has seen better days.
Donate the little bottles of things you brought back from travels.
Wipe down the drawers and shelves.
Throw away the towels with holes in them.

Put back only the things that you love.

Make your kitchen new again

What kinds of food do you make the most?
Do you eat out all the time yet own every gadget imaginable?
The first thing to do is to clear the counter.
Now you have work space.
Clean out the drawers one at a time.
Don’t stop to think too much.
If you used it this month keep it.
Donate what you don’t use.
If you don’t ever have time or reason to bake then don’t keep baking products or equipment.
We live in a world where you don’t have to “stock up”.
Pick up a simple brownie mix when you feel the urge to bake.
If you have a pantry or keep a cupboard of various goods move on to that next.
Donate anything that you don’t use.
Throw away anything that is outdated or is questionably old.
If you have sworn off junk food then get rid of it now.
Don’t keep things in your kitchen that will make you feel guilty to eat.
Throw away ratty dish cloths, pot holders, and dish towels.
Get rid of dishes that have chips or are a loner unless they are sentimental and you use them.

By the way, have you ever used that china?

Love your living room
Move on to the living room.
Sit down and have a cup of tea and look at it closely.
Take just 20 minutes to really look at it.
The first order of business is to get rid of magazines, catalogs, and newspapers as well as mail.
Cancel subscriptions or make a vow not to renew them.
Digital versions are usually available on the internet.
No clutter and financial gain are yours now.
Get rid of furniture you hate.
Call the Salvation Army or other charitable organization to come and get it.
List it on freecycle.org or sell it but act now.
Don’t put it off.
Put away anything that doesn’t belong in your newly found living room.
Make a habit to put things away as soon as you walk in the front door.
Dust the remaining furniture that you love and straighten the pictures.
Get rid of cheesy knickknacks.
Move things around to make it all seem new if you want.
Clean the rugs and you are done.

Now have another cup of tea and sit in awe.

What to do with the extras

If you have a garage or extra room that is stuffed, choose another time to tackle it.
Shut the door for now and enjoy what you accomplished with your main living areas.
The extras are actually pretty easy.
Donate or toss those things that you haven’t used in the last year.
If you didn’t love them enough to use them last year, you won’t use them this year either.
Free up the space for new adventures with the things you do love.

Keep it simple.

Now when you look around your home you will see that everything you have matters. You are now surrounded by the things that bring you joy. Less is not about deprivation. It’s about what matters.

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Ambition: Friend or Foe?

In our culture we are always taught that ambition is a good thing. It is highly praised when we set our sights high for a goal. Even when we go so far as to spend multitudes of time away from our family and seem somewhat self absorbed it is excused by others all in the name of ambition. That brings the question: Is ambition a friend or foe? Do we admire ambition too much? Are we missing something?

Ambition as Friend
There are many cases that ambition may be called our friend. When goals replace laziness and we engage our brains it is healthy for us. We can set aside time for special activities and projects to accomplish any much needed change in the world. The end results of our actions make some of our ambitions worthwhile. Ambition as friend seems a gentle way to do good for the world and to make our lives better in whatever way we feel necessary. There is no harm in happiness. Deprivation or martyrdom need not be a part of our lives to be spiritual or happy. Our ambitions much like any other aspect of our lives should hang in the balance to remain a friend.

Ambition as Foe
When we allow ambition to take over our lives it is time to take a step back and look closely. Ambition has the ability to create resentments in our relationships by consuming a loved one to the point of no return. It is also many times the measure of a person’s worth in our society. If you don’t have a list of goals you are considered lazy and ignorant. You may work the same job for years and if you have no ambition of making more money or progressing further in the company you may be looked down upon. Leading a chaotic life with numerous goals is considered admirable. The peaceful life lead in simple spiritualism is laughable to most.

The Solution
Creating balance in our lives is the solution to what consumes us including ambition.

10 Ways to Minimize Stress

Are you stressed the moment you wake up in the morning?
Do you have the stress at work?
Do you stress about having little time to reconnect with family and friends?
Do you have health concerns?
How do you deal with everyday stress?

Here are ten ways to minimize stress in your life and enjoy some free time.

1) Don’t over-commit yourself to anything.
You don’t always have to tell everyone yes when they ask to volunteer or help out. Set boundaries by choosing only a small number of projects to commit your time and energy to each month. Remember that being kind to others involves taking care of yourself first. If you are worn out you can’t help anyone and you certainly won’t be kind. Often feelings of resentment and anger creep in when you are doing everything for everyone but you. Don’t allow others to manipulate you to feel guilty. Put them kindly in their place by a simple decline and move on. You may actually be helping someone to be more independent in this way by putting them in a position of having to rely on themselves instead of others.

2) Eat right even if you are on the go.
This doesn’t mean that meals have to be complicated. Eat fresh fruit for breakfast, crunch crisp vegetables for lunch with nuts and fruit, and eat a simple whole foods dinner in the evening with your family at the table. This could be grilled chicken or fish, vegetable lasagne, or a fresh salad with your favorite dressing. Cook simple brown rice and vegetables. If the budget allows it, order pizza once a week, eat out, or let the kids cook to give the main cook of the house a break.

3) Keep moving every day.
Do what you can to move your body every day. For some this may mean a morning walk or run, for others it might be yoga or a trip to the gym. If you have a chronic illness or injury that keeps you from exercising then simply do what you can. Ask your Doctor what is permissible for you to do safely. You may be limited to chair exercises or arm exercises but just do what you can to keep moving in a positive way. By moving every day you ward off such diseases as depression, gallbladder disease as well as other gastrointestinal ailments, heart disease, and poor circulation. You keep your brain healthy by practicing coordination and balance.

4) Keep it simple
Have you ever cooked an elaborate dinner then finished it in 15 minutes and wondered why you bothered? Have you gone to extreme lengths to help on a project only to be left behind? Whatever you endeavor to do, keep it simple. Life doesn’t have to be complicated or elaborate to enjoy it. Do one thing at a time and do it well but keep it simple.

5) Buy less stuff
No need to keep up with the neighbors. Less stuff doesn’t mean you are deprived. Keep only what you think is important. Buy a few quality things. Instead of having three can openers just in case one breaks, buy one good one that is reliable. When you buy something new get rid of the old version or donate two other things that you don’t need. Less stuff means less to clean up.

6) Keep things in order.
Keeping your home, car, or office in order (not perfect necessarily) is important to reduce stress. Take a look at how a typical day flows and store things in sensible places that are easy to access. If something doesn’t have a place ask yourself if you really need it. You never waste time or run around frustrated because you can’t find anything you need. It also keeps your mind calm to look around and see things are in order. Taking a few minutes a day to clean your space is worth it.

7) Stop thinking like a Royal.
Give up the idea that life should be a fairytale. Get rid of the princess dress that collects dust in the closet. Stop buying things you will never use just because marketing tells them you need them to be happy. Sell the big house that causes you more stress than happiness. A simple life is surprisingly joyous when you lose the illusions.

8) Take time for yourself without guilt.
The greatest gift you can give is some time for yourself. Take time every day to sit quietly or to pamper yourself in small ways. See where you can take a few moments to do something you enjoy. When you make time for yourself you don’t feel as stressed.

9) Ease into the day.
Get up early to ease into the day. Instead of jumping out of bed and out the door in five minutes take time to sit down for a cup of coffee before everyone else gets up. Use this time to think about all the things that are going right for you.

10) Embrace routines.
Routines may seem boring or needless to you but they get the job done without needless worry. A standard morning and evening routine helps things go smoothly all day and you sleep better at night. Not everything has to be a routine but when things get crazy it’s comforting to know that there are a few things that you can rely on.

Minimize stress by following some of these simple solutions. The best stress buster is to smile and have fun. Don’t worry about being perfect or keeping up with the neighbors. Enjoy the moment with those you love.

What a Cluttered Desk Says About You

It would be nice if it were true that a cluttered desk shows the amount of intelligence one has. Instead it makes others question your reliability, your ability to finish a project, and sometimes even your ethics. Consider the doctor that has a messy desk. He leaves patient charts and information there along with stacks of medical journals that may or may not be out of date. He is likable and seems intelligent but he has trouble finding things and won’t admit to doing wrong. Luckily his patients never see his desk, but his staff does. It makes them doubt him ever so slightly. It tarnishes the image.

In order to be productive and be organized enough to do business, we have to maintain some sense of order about our desk.
It’s easily done by dealing with each category of items that cross our desk. To organize is to prioritize quickly.

* Incoming mail and information
* Outgoing mail and information
* Reference materials
* Current project materials
* Personal items

These can be organized easily with one good file drawer with labeled files for everyday use and vertical files for materials that are in/outgoing. Reference materials may be stored within reach on a bookshelf or other suitable space.

Consider the way that work flows across your desk as well as your current desk setup and establish a place for standard items that you use for communication or creation.

* Computer
* Phone
* Fax machine
* Other equipment exclusive to your job

The idea is to make movements efficient as well as healthy. If your desk chair doesn’t fit you correctly you won’t be efficient or healthy.

Reduce the eye sores on your desk. Do away with hanging papers, visible sticky notes, and cheat sheets. Use apps and programs on your computer and smart phone to clear the clutter and streamline your work. Keeping your cheat sheets for quick reference on your smartphone guarantees you always have them with you wherever you go.

Your desk doesn’t have to be spotless. Take the time to make it efficient and tidy at the end of the day. Walking into a clean desk in the morning always makes the day brighter and you can prove your intelligence every day.

Gearing up for the Holidays

The Holidays bring with them a mix of emotion. There is the excitement of glimmering lights, plans for family gatherings, and getting just the right gift for that certain someone. There is also the financial stress as well as coordinating everything for a perfect event. Here are a few simple points to remember for the holidays that will take the stress down a notch and make for a pleasant celebration without the hassle.

* Keep it Simple
Simple is elegant. Keeping the table, decorations, and food simple but tasteful is always the best decision. If you want to cook gourmet then make the entree impressive and surround it with a few well-known side dishes. Avoid large centerpieces on the table. A low greenery arrangement with a bit of festive red is always a good choice.

* Keep your Expectations Reasonable
If you know that cousin Joe is always late, tell him dinner is at 11am and plan for noon. (It’s a bit mischievous but it works!) Perhaps plan for the meal to be more towards evening if guests have to travel a long way. Evening dinners by candlelight are beautiful and it sets a relaxed mood.

* Interact with Guests
Plan to interact with your guests instead of making everything picture perfect. Ask for help in the kitchen if you need it or make a simple meal ahead of time that can stay warm in the oven while you mingle. The idea of the Holidays is to celebrate not to be isolated in service.

* Stay Within Your Budget
We have a habit of being frugal with flexible spending such as groceries and entertainment beginning each October at our house. That enables us to spend within our budget at Christmas and still have a few nice extras. Trimming a little here and a little there in the budget isn’t painful especially when we know that we won’t have to stress over finances.

* Celebrate Your Own Way
Many times we feel obligated to share the holidays with distant relatives or doing the same thing year after year just because it’s tradition. Spice up the Holidays a bit. Take a trip to the mountains to ski, go someplace warm, or make something new that everyone will enjoy. Be gracious and make an effort not to hurt anyone’s feelings if you decline an invitation. Be flexible if you’re the one that loves tradition and see what joy there is in something new.

* Spend the Holidays With People You Love
There is no need to spend any holiday with someone you truly dislike. It doesn’t matter what relation they are or that their life is in a shambles. Holidays are miserable if you always thing you need to invite someone out of pity or because they are related to you. Do your best once again not to hurt feelings but move on to a happier place.

* Make a Plan
Make the Holidays easier by making a plan. It’s doesn’t have to be intricate or extensive. Start in late October and write down what you want the Holidays to be like this year then make a list week by week of the things that will need to be done. In early November list things such as fall cleaning, clutter control, and ordering center pieces or food items to be delivered closer to the actual date of the holiday.

The Holidays are meant to be a joyous time of year spent with loved ones and enjoying the festivities. Take a step back and remember that the focus is peace and joy not stress and worry. Have a great time!

The Kindle Fire

We can’t say enough about the new Kindle Fire. If you want to stay organized as well as have all of your books at your fingertips this is for you. You never have to dust or move a bookshelf again. No more searching for that book you want at the bookstore or waiting for it to come in the mail. Download to the Kindle Fire and start reading immediately. Buy Amazon apps for it and see what you can do. It’s as easy as pie and full of fire! The Kindle Fire saves you time and money by allowing you to download hundreds of books for free. If you subscribe to Amazon Prime for $79/year you can enjoy free two-day shipping on all purchases as well as borrow books for your new Kindle for free. Amazon Prime also allows you to watch hundreds of movies for free streaming or download. What could be easier?

Identifying Your Challenges and Strenths

In order to do our job or take care of our families we must first take care of ourselves. The analogy used here to give a clear picture is the flight attendant giving safety instructions before a flight. They demonstrate how we must put on our oxygen mask before we help a child or elderly person put their mask on should an emergency occur. If you think this is callous, consider that you may fail to help another if you can’t breathe. To avoid burnout you have to take care of yourself. That may be a hard concept to those that are used to being “other-directed” instead of being “self-directed”. You may rarely think of yourself at all. Moms habitually take care of everyone else before themselves. To overcome obstacles, first make a plan that includes taking into consideration challenges as well as strengths. Then aim to balance your life.

What are your challenges?
Do you have a lack of:

knowledge?
time?
support?
patience?
willpower or spirit?
coping skills?

How will you meet them?

Once we identify our challenges we will be able to find the tools needed to meet them. The process of learning about Compassion Fatigue helps us find out what is causing our burnout and sapping our energies. We then are able to look at what our strengths are now as well as the strengths that lie ahead with further education.

What are your strengths?

Knowledge?
patience?
self-awareness?
self-respect?
coping skills?

Unfortunately the colleges of today rarely teach anything about the emotions they will experience or coping skills needed to students that will be professional caregivers. If we are lucky we may get the opportunity to “debrief” with a counselor from time to time if we have dealt with serious trauma but there is nothing out there as yet that helps caregivers deal with the day to day grind of their work. Identifying our challenges and strengths encourages us to start from where we are. This is the first step in creating a self-care plan to help you ditch chaos and stress.

Email us to register for our upcoming seminar on identifying your challenges and strengths to move forward towards a healthy and satisfying life. Leave the frustration behind while you enjoy your new confidence.