Posted by: clearspaces60 | September 15, 2018

Clear Your Mind with Reading

Many times, when my mind is going a million directions at once and I have a lot I need to accomplish, I stop everything and read.  Maybe for a few minutes, or about 15 minutes max.  I find that the need to focus calms my mind and helps me to regroup my thoughts into a plan.  If I just cannot stop all the critics and editors vying for space in my brain, I spend no more than 5 minutes writing down everything that I think I must get done or work on or make time for or think about or remember.  This clears up a little more space.

I am usually in the middle of half a dozen books at any given time, so I may read from one of those or I may pick up something inspirational or humorous, changing gears to free up space for ideas, creative solutions, and often a path to success forms effortlessly.

My current favorite go-to authors are (in no particular order) Mary Oliver, Jhumpa Lahiri, Mark Nepo, Marianne Williamson, Gretchen Rubin, Dennis Merritt Jones, Jim Lockard, Edward Viljoen, Oprah Winfrey, Vicki Abelson, Rainer Maria Rilke, Natalie Goldberg, Ed Asner, Anne Lamott, Charles Blow and Patti Smith.

What authors help you clear your mind for greater productivity and creativity?

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Posted by: clearspaces60 | September 8, 2018

Connections

I love making connections.  My first was connecting the dots. Those books were lots of fun.  The next was probably the telephone connection. Remember when calling long distance was expensive and you didn’t always have a clear connection to hear the other person.  I am sure somewhere in my childhood I heard adults talk about “connections”.  Who knew who and what could they do for you. In some families being “connected” had a whole other scary meaning.  I remember seeing The French Connection as a teen, not too sure I was following the story line, but who cared, Gene Hackman was so handsome and then I would fall for him again as a minister in The Poseidon Adventure a year or two later.

I didn’t learn about electrical connections or connecting flights until I was in my twenties.  One time I had to literally and I mean literally beg and plead with an airline to hold a plane for my boss because his flight was late, and it was the only connecting flight to a little town in West Virginia where our wood laboratory furniture factory was located.  I cannot imagine that even being possible today.  Now of course we talk about connection all the time, cell phones, computers, cable, WiFi.

I think there are more important connections and they are my favorite.  Connecting people to one another.  Introducing my friends to each other, encouraging people to reach out to others with the same interests, or answers and solutions to meet their needs.  I get excited when I can have one friend meet another.  I have created friendships this way all of my life.  Facebook has been great for this, back when it did not connect the same shared post but showed it over and over, I would get my friends and family who posted the same things to become friends.  I did this for two reasons- How awesome is it to connect people from different cities, states and countries who are like minded? And I didn’t want to see the same shared post 8 or 10 times!!

Lately, I have really opened my eyes to the reality that some people do not want their friends and family to communicate with each other.  They want walls and barriers.  They want to compartmentalize their lives and fill it with drama.  I believe that many people do not feel alive if there is no drama going on in and around their lives.  This has also given me an opportunity to see where I have had these types of friendship over the course of my life starting with the mean girls in elementary school.

I prefer people who are open and honest yet know the difference between secrecy and privacy.  If everything has to be a secret to the point that one friend cannot talk to a mutual party, not only is it exhausting but the level of dysfunction surely escalates.

Now I more clearly see that the demand to keep things separate and contained is based on fear.  Many people are terrified of sharing themselves.  Being open and authentic takes courage. I guess I have never felt so ashamed or embarrassed or humiliated about myself that I would not want the people I love to know and love each other.  I understand more clearly that this is a real issue for many people.  I am learning to accept it, and to see it with more compassion and forgiveness.

I will still do what I do, make connections, bring people together, encouraging friendships and business relationships.  Connections-when done in a healthy way with honest intentions- may bring us together in new and wonderful ways.

Posted by: clearspaces60 | July 18, 2018

Please Follow My Blog

What does Paula Poundstone have to do with ClearSpaces?  Follow me and let’s find out.

I have been in a writing rut all year. Other than Morning Pages, a few short personal essays for my writers group and some business emails, I have not done much “real” writing, whatever that is.  What is holding me back? Nothing.  Who is holding me back? ME!  At one point, I just decided to forget about it, let it go, and see if it came back to me. It did!!!

At the end of May, I had the pleasure to once again attend one of Vicki Abelson’s Women Who Write salons. (I follow her on Facebook and Twitter). She brings together incredibly talented musicians, writers and actors who perform and speak to “regular” women like me (and a few men) who love to write.  Her headliner was Paula Poundstone.!! I have always loved Paula’s work, but I had no idea that she was an author or has a regular NPR gig. Yes, I am late to that party.

A friend who is a HUGE fan of Paula’s was with me and I immediately joined that fangirl club.  Before the program started we each bought a copy Paula’s book, The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness and asked her to sign them.  She sweet, kind and funny.  During her part of the program, Paula was hilarious! Honestly, I think everyone’s face and stomach muscles hurt from laughing so hard.  Her wit is phenomenal.  She did a lively running commentary on all the other people who had read or performed before her, combined with the news of the day and the state of our world as well as sharing a great deal about her personal life.  After the program was over, we talked to her a little more, hugged her, found out that the three of us are all nearly the same age, just months apart, and took some pictures.

Later that week while my husband was watching the The Walking Dead or a baseball game, I picked up her book and started reading it.  I could not put it down.  How could she string these words together and have them feel so effortless that I was actually laughing out loud?  I am always telling people to read books or handing them a book and saying, “You must read this.”  Do they? Well sometimes.  How could I get everyone I know to know about this book?  Well I do have a blog…

I want to write an Amazon review for it, but when you buy the book directly from the author, as I often do at Vicki’s, it can be harder to get the review to show up. Also, our Amazon account is in my husband’s name and no matter how many times I have changed the review to may name, it still shows that my husband’s name on my review of Vicki’s book, Don’t Jump: Sex, Drugs, Rock ‘N Roll… And My Fucking Mother. It starts out “LEAP into this book.  I read this book as if gulping a bottle of Annie Green Springs and inhaling a lunch-size bag of Cheetos, it went by too fast.”- Sounds like every guy I know! Maybe after I get done with this, I will work on a review of Paula’s book which will be more pressure than writing for my blog with my 23 followers of which I am one.

Oh my, how I’ve digressed!

What does Paula Poundstone have to do with ClearSpaces?   In her book, Paula has not one, but TWO chapters on getting organized experiments.  I don’t want to give anything away but her insights are both hilarious and spot on.  I hope it is okay to just quote this one sentence from her book.  In her first experiment, her hypothesis is “I am sure that getting organized will make me happy. I just know it.”  Who hasn’t thought or said this? ) She knows us. She is us. She has three kids (so do I), so every mom can relate to many things she goes through, literally and figuratively; board games, kids artwork, clothes, toys – and the one thing I still don’t know what to do with- school pictures.  I swear I had tears rolling down my face.  When she writes about what she keeps and why, the memories that are evoked, you may have different tears streaming down your face. Then in her second experiment, she talks about interviewing, hiring and working with a professional organizer.  I swear I said, “No, Paula, No!” dozens of times. She did accomplish a lot. I would love to talk to Paula again, discuss her views on the movie “Cinderella” and be invited to her home to play ping-pong. No spoilers, Read the book 🙂

I am finally writing about this because earlier this week Paula showed up three times in one day, Facebook, Twitter and then she was on Stephen Colbert. Three times a charm, so get off your ass and write something.  Plus, she now has a new podcast “Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone”.  So, whether she reads this blog, I will share it on Twitter and @ her as the kids say.  Read her book and Vicki’s too if you are so inspired.  And if you aren’t a follower of this blog but want to be, go over to the right-hand side of this post and figure out how to follow me.  If I could do it, then you can too!

Posted by: clearspaces60 | July 4, 2018

Independence Day 2018

A day to honor and celebrate our Freedom and Independence. Freedom requires discipline in thought and action. Independence invites a heart that is vulnerable and inclusive.

What shackles to you need to dissolve around your heart, your dreams, your desires? What misinformed beliefs need to be set free? Untangle the chains that bind you in fear, doubt, indecisiveness, resentment, hatred and judgement.

What more can you release? What needs to be carved away to reveal the Statue of Liberty that is You?

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
― Emma Lazarus

Posted by: clearspaces60 | December 30, 2017

A Better Mess

One more day to go and it will be 2018.  My blog postings were less than my ideal this year.  Maybe this recap will set a better tone for the coming year.  This entire year felt “off” in many ways and instead of bemoaning my failures and unmet goals, I realized that the things that happened in our lives this year led me to writing more than I have in a long time.  The writing was in the Morning Pages or other personal journaling.

I meditated and prayed more this year. Forgiveness has been another major undertaking, forgiving myself, others, the medical system, the legal systems, the financial system and the political system.  Being present in the moment and remembering to be compassionate with others and myself seemed to be a full-time job.

“A Better Mess” came out of my mouth a couple of months ago after I had cleaned out my closet for the umpteenth time this year.  My closet was already fairly organized, and I realized that by continuing to keep it that way, I was hanging on to something that had structure, purpose and felt complete.  This time I went through absolutely every piece of clothing and pairs of shoes, including my dresser.  What turned out to be a little straightening up turned into a huge mess, piles of clothes and shoes I had not worn in years or had never worn.

I looked at everything on my bed and floor and thought, What a mess!  Then I said to myself, it’s A Better Mess!  And it was!  All the space and energy these items took up was now free and freeing.  I bagged up items to donate and items to gift to a local consignment shop.

Decorating for the holidays always creates its own mess. Looking at it in a new way lessened the overwhelming sensation many of us feel at this time of year. I am hopeful it will feel this way when we undecorate next week.

As I thought more about this concept of A Better Mess, I realized that it had played quite a role in my life this year.  Our business has done well creating more paper and files and major decisions.  We emptied my husband’s office, rearranged some filing cabinets, bought him a new desk which created an entirely new mess, but A Better Mess.  Members of our family have gone through challenges this year with health, jobs, school, finances and moving.  This led to many new messes. Yet as we all faced the struggles and learned about things we had never dealt with before, the education, experience and trusting the process made the results better.  A Better Mess led to A Better Life!

Let’s dive in to this New Year and whether we are embracing new ways of handling our health, finances, clutter, clothes, closets, books, papers, files or the “stuff” in our heads, let the mess that we create be A Better Mess! Then the Clear Spaces we create will bring us more love, beauty, joy and peace.  Happy 2018!

 

Posted by: clearspaces60 | August 31, 2017

Closets! Closets! Closets!

With all due respect to Modern Family, right now, many people across our country and around the world have lost everything they own due to natural disasters, war and other forms of violence.  This destruction and the toll it takes on the human psyche often leads me to wonder why we are so inundated with ways to organize, declutter, rearrange and store our possessions.  Why do we crave order?

Order keeps us sane, it gives us something comforting to hold or hang on to.  We organize supplies, food, volunteers and troops.  When you see footage of refugee camps or evacuation centers, you see the longing for order and space.  Women sweeping the dirt floor of a tent, parents organizing the space within their blankets and cots and people naturally forming lines.  It is inherent in most of us.

My last blog post was about organizing closets.  After I posted it, a friend from church contacted me asking for help organizing and downsizing.  When I arrived at her house and saw her closet, I couldn’t believe it.  Her walk-in closet was a dream!!  Nothing was on the floor or looked out of place.  We even had the same black felt hangers.   What could she possibly need from me?  I had no idea so I went about my same process; I asked her what she wanted to do first, what was bugging her the most and what seemed the most overwhelming.  She told me that her dresser was full of clothes she didn’t wear and there were clothes to put away, but no room.  She also had a pile of socks on her dresser.  In a couple of hours, she had four bags to donate, we matched up all the socks leaving her with  room in her drawers and a clear dresser top.  She did what most of us do, she told me the story of her clothes and why she bought them, who gave them to her, when she wore them, why she still had it and was able to talk herself into letting things go.  She was a dream to work with.

What could she possibly need from me?  She needed me to give her permission to stop and take the time to do this for herself.  This freed her of the burden that was weighing down her mind and heart.  She knew what to do and how to do it, she just put everyone and everything else first.  We know this is not uncommon.

As we take better care of our possessions by using or releasing them with gratitude,  plus relieving the internal burdens of constant thoughts and lack of action,  I believe we are contributing to a more peaceful world.  At the same time, when we deeply understand that it could all be destroyed in minutes, our love and reverence for our friends, family and everyone else soars.

How will organizing your closet help the world?

Posted by: clearspaces60 | June 22, 2017

Embracing the Resistance

At the beginning of this year, I made a commitment to myself and to my blog followers, to post on the 11th of each month as a minimum.  I have failed to do so these last two months.  Is anyone clamoring for me to keep this promise?  Not really, unless you count the mean-spirited editor voice in my head.

You know that voice, the one that chastises you for not keeping your commitments and then doubles down by telling you that you have no business writing, no one wants to hear from you anyway.  Nothing you write is good, it’s all crap.  Perhaps your voice talks to you about a different subject, but I think the theme song is the same.

Over the years I have quieted down this voice to a mere annoyance, realizing that it is part of the human experience, as most of my friends deal with the same thing.  As far we know, animals to do not deal with this. From birds to whales, I have never seen one look conflicted or distraught or hesitant to act or express themselves.

This year I wanted to focus more on the calling of my Soul.  What is it that I want to do?  How do I want to treat my physical body? In what ways can I express myself more creatively?  I decided to spend a cumulative hour nearly every day in spiritual practice, physical exercise, visualizing, writing, creating and whatever else feeds these questions.

A collective 60 minutes is my goal.  I have had some success with this practice along with acknowledging myself for things I did accomplish or situations that I dreaded but faced anyway.  I learned this technique from Rhonda Britten’s book, Change Your Life In 30 Days.  It really helps combat that voice.  But as I kept up both practices, this voice kept getting louder and louder, thoughts, fears and beliefs from my whole life would pop up.  Stuff I thought I had healed, resolved or at least was aware of and had dealt with in some way.  I do know that this is Shadow work (thank you Debbie Ford for The Dark Side of the Light Chasers) and that you are never done with it.

However, it became quite intense on May 11th, the day I had committed to post on my blog, and my grandmother’s birthday, she would have been 105.  I was missing her terribly that day and all the wonderful qualities she possessed and modeled without every criticizing or belittling me.  She worked hard, sometimes held two jobs while taking care of my dad and grandfather, often along with other relatives. She was organized but not a perfectionist.  She may not always have had everything she needed, but she used everything she had.  She was a great cook and handled the bills and paperwork.  She also marveled at the choices and opportunities that her granddaughters had and supported each of us in her own way.  Then I remembered something else, she was always amazed and appreciated the way I would organize her closet after she was no longer able to do so. I would say, “Grandma, your closets were always neat and organized, I must have learned it from you.”   I have helped a few other people with their closets and I love it.  I am not a professional organizer, I feel like I approach it in a different way, with fun and feeling!

All that day I was thinking, you need to post something, anything, it doesn’t have to be great, just check in, tell everyone what is going on with you.  Why is this so hard? I have a great life, I was under a self-imposed deadline.  What was up with all the procrastination and self-sabotage?  Well that voice was on rapid fire with its list of things I was– lazy, ungrateful, selfish, procrastinator, failure, daydreamer, fraud, loser, weak, pathetic, and was not– successful, writer, blogger, organized, educated, knowledgeable and had anything worthy to say.

I have spent a great deal of time lately unraveling the guilt and lack of self-worth that came on full force that day.  It has been healing and revealing because as you TRULY focus on what your soul is calling you to do, the resistance comes on just as strong.  But this resistance is not something to battle, it is something to embrace and comfort.  I don’t know whether it is your inner child, shadow, ego, psycho or a demon you possess, but being kind and compassionate is the key.  Loving this voice and embracing its strength, conviction and tenacity not to mention its complete lack of procrastination and changing its messages to what you want to hear is absolutely worth the work!

Posted by: clearspaces60 | April 19, 2017

Living with the Questions of Clutter

There is a famous quotation by Rainer Maria Rilke that invites us to “live the questions”.  I love this quote and it pops up in my life from time to time, last week it showed up three times.  To me that is a sign to write something about it. What to write? I had to wait for the answers.

I received this e-mail this morning and it touched my heart. https://unclutterer.com/2017/04/18/saying-goodbye-musical-instruments/#comment-260866

Unclutterer is a great website, has a FaceBook page and you can receive e-mails notifying you of their posts.  There is a book that I have not read-yet, several bloggers, all professional and, well- dare I say it, organized.  I wanted to respond to this post this morning but thought, who I am to tell this guy what I think he should do?  Even though he did ask for feedback.  All day long I have either been cleaning the house or paying bills or sorting through and filing paperwork.  I also wanted to write a blog today, but wasn’t sure I had time.  The response to this blog and creating my own blog post have been simmering along all day.

I finally looked at the comments to his post and as I suspected they were varied.  I was not surprised to find a deep emotional connection to musical instruments.  I think this is a global feeling as music is in all of us.
Here is my comment:

“I agree with a few of the others, you are not ready to decide yet. I have a couple of friends who attended Berklee which means you are extremely gifted and talented. Since you cleaned out your basement, maybe you can set up your drums and sit behind them once in a while. Do your children know about this part of your life? If they do and they aren’t that interested, maybe your talents skipped a generation.

We have many musical instruments in our home that see little use, but I believe that this kind of thing comes in cycles. I have a close friend who plays violin, but she set hers down for well over 10 years, she plays the same very expensive violin, but now she plays for the joy and passion and her love of music. I have two friends who have baby grand pianos that are being “borrowed” by two different churches. So the church situation is a possibility. I also have a friend who was a drummer for years, he does not play very often, but when he does he is awesome and his son is now a professional drummer.

This is NOT clutter, this is history, the present and perhaps your future or someone else’s in your family. I strongly suggest that you give this some time, live with this question for a time.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

― Rainer Maria Rilke”

Now I certainly can see where my comment needs some editing, but when you are in the moment and afraid if you hit the return or enter key at the wrong time and your words will be posted before you are ready, I chose to speak from my heart and release it.

Whether it is releasing my words or releasing clutter, we must live the questions.  There is not one right definition of clutter.  Spouses, siblings, parents, children and friends can certainly attest to this when working on designing or organizing a space.  What helps us when we are working with someone else is asking those questions and not assuming the answers will come immediately.  We must honor that something may be important to another person whether we understand or agree with them.   If this is important to you or them, brings up strong memories of joy with the possibility of more joy, then let’s sit with it for a designated period of time and see what answers come to us and come through us.

 

Posted by: clearspaces60 | April 11, 2017

Time to Begin Anew AGAIN!

Between the Pink Moon, Passover and Holy Week, the reminders of a new season, freedom, liberation and rebirth are limitless. Opportunities for a fresh start, a new way of living, and pursuing our desires seem to be everywhere.  We have several obvious reminders during the year beginning with New Year’s Day, the current Spring events and the new school year in the Fall to start over.  We know we can start over at any time, in any moment, but many of us look forward to some sort of grand event thinking that this time it will be different.  Too many of us vow to begin again, Next Monday.

What are we waiting for? What are we looking for? What are we dreaming of?  I made a commitment to myself to post on my blog on the 11th of each month at the very minimum.  Imagine my surprise last night when I was putting the date on a piece of paper and thought, Oh Shit, tomorrow’s the 11th!!  It’s not that I don’t want to write for my blog, I love writing for my blog but so many other things get in the way and I don’t always manage my time as well as I could/should/want to/need to etc.

I have been doing a couple of things differently this year.  Although I can easily assist another person in organizing their shit treasured possessions, doing that for myself is often draining and overwhelming.  I battled this for decades and had an epiphany several years ago.  I turned this around and embraced the fact that when you are emotionally involved or your livelihood depends on the situation, then asking for help is the healthy thing to do.  Just like you should not edit your own writing, you cannot always be objective about yourself or your shit stuff.  Once I stopped fighting this belief, things flowed.

Last month, I hired a dear friend to help me declutter our kitchen and it was worth every cent.  The work went faster than I ever imagined, my family answered all her questions when sorting items, she saw things that were too close for us to observe and she did a lot of the work as well.  Emptying cabinets, dealing with shelf paper that either would not stick or stuck so well we could not move it and going to different stores with me to purchase items that would work for us.  Her objective eye was a true gift.

I also started working on a better way of organizing our business and personal files for this year, even though I have containers of archives to sort and purge.  Keeping current now and getting help with the older files is a new and different way for me.  It has relieved a burden of thinking that all that past stuff had to be done first.  Why did I think that?  I don’t really know! But being present in the present makes more sense to me.

I spend a great deal of time managing our money, both personal and business and it got me thinking about budgets and spending plans.  Do I do that with my time?  Do I consider it as valuable?  Do I consciously choose how I spend it?  Does the guilt of wasted time serve me in any form or fashion?  How can I approach budgeting my own time?  How many times can I begin anew, again and again and again?  Honoring my commitments to myself is a good place to start. See you May 11th if not sooner 😊

Happy Pink Moon! Happy Pesach! Happy Easter!

Posted by: clearspaces60 | March 11, 2017

What Do I Do Last?

I have been wrapping my head around this question. Not “What do I do first?” but “What do I do last”?  I flipped it around when I felt like I had more to do than time to do it.  Not an uncommon feeling for many and getting started can be difficult, so I began with the ending.  Like visualizing how you want things to be or feel, seeing a project completed or feeling great about a party you hosted, you focus on the end result and prioritize from that point.  But what would be my last step or action? Why did it appear that looking at a problem from this point would help?

I decided to apply it for a couple of weeks and see what happened.  My first situation was creating a budget for our monthly bills and calculating how much money we needed.  We own our own business and take salaries and sometimes distributions.  I wanted to deposit enough money into our account to pay the entire month’s bills but I also had bills to print and a couple of weeks of mail to open. When I first get the mail, I tend to only open things that are urgent or extremely important. I asked myself, what is the thing I will do last?  Open all the mail was my answer.  This seemed counter intuitive because that is usually the first thing I get caught up on. Yet the more I thought about it the more it made sense.  This usually creates a pile of paperwork, recycling and shredding, not to mention the bills that are emailed to me that I need to print.  Since I create a budget everything month in Excel, I decided to estimate payments I did not know for sure and if necessary, search for one or two envelopes for a specific  statement.  I was able to figure out what we needed, make the deposit and pay the current bills while the neat stack of envelopes stayed that way until I could focus on only that task.

The next opportunity to ask myself this question came about when I decided that my husband and I would host a lunch in our home for my visiting sister, our family and friends.  Getting the house clean, decluttered and ready for feeding many guests can be time-consuming and exhausting.  My husband was doing the shopping and cooking which he loves to do. Getting the house ready and clearing off our dining room table which I use as a work space was mine to do.  What do I do last?  Many things came to mind, more like a list of things that I would like to do if I had the time.  That really wasn’t the question.  For example, I thought about getting fresh flowers and putting them in a few vases and rearranging the bookshelves so they looked open and highlighted certain books or displayed items like all the designers tell us to do. Wake up!! These were dreams! The last things I would do came to me so that I would not have to do them more than once or took very little time. I would vacuum, clean the bathroom and set out the plates, utensils, serving dishes and wine and water glasses.  This end result planning helped me manage my time better and see the house ready for guests.  I wasn’t redoing any cleaning or vacuuming and it all was finished with time to spare. It all came together in a beautiful way and we had a lovely afternoon with a house full of people.  Dreams do come true! Two of them brought me fresh flowers!

In the past few weeks, I have used this question to get me through a couple of piles of filing, working on pulling information together for our upcoming tax appointment and even with laundry.  Washing and drying what takes the shortest time to the longest time works when I am in a time crunch, but when I am doing one or two loads a day, having a load of sheets or towels or items that need to be hung up or lay flat to dry doesn’t really make a difference in my schedule.  What works for you? What do you want to do last? See the end result and find out if working from this vantage point gives you a new perspective.

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