Tidying Inside and Out

A few months ago, my fourteen-year old daughter watched a documentary on minimalism which highlighted the benefits of living a simpler life. Intrigued by the idea, she began researching the topic and soon discovered Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying. Kondo believes that through the process of tidying we can change our entire lives. Tidying enables us to examine every item in our possession to determine whether each item is useful or whether it sparks joy for us. If it does neither of those things, then that item can be released and given away. Once this process is complete, Kondo believes we will not only have a tidier space, but tidier lives as well. 

After reading Kondo’s book, my daughter was inspired to take action. Over the next few weeks, she sorted through everything she owned. She gave away hundreds of items, claiming that each time she gave something away it made her feel more joyful and more free. When she was finally finished, she felt like a changed person and encouraged our family to give tidying a try. After watching the documentary and reading Kondo’s book, I too was inspired to begin the tidying process. As Kondo recommends, I began by placing every item of clothing on my bed: socks, underwear, shirts, pants, belts. My king-size bed was covered with my clothes — I could not believe all the items that I owned. I was embarrassed. Immediately, I examined each item, selecting only the things that I needed or the things that sparked joy for me. I gave away the rest. Large garbage bags filled with clothing went to Goodwill. The more I gave away, the lighter and freer I felt. 

Once I finished my clothes, I went on to other items in my house, feeling more joy as I continued. After a couple of weeks, I had examined nearly every possession and was then ready to tackle the last category: sentimental items. I knew this category would be the most challenging because I’ve always had a strong sentimental attachment to things. But I was determined to give it a try. As I began sorting through my high school memorabilia, I was struck by the realization that so much of what I had kept represented a person that I used to be. Although many of the items brought back fond memories, some of them had the opposite effect. By examining every sentimental item and determining whether it sparked joy for me, I was forced to deal with my past and let go of old emotions. Tidying helped me look back on the person I had been and think about the person I had become.  It helped me decide what items from my past I wanted to take into my future and what parts I knew it was time to leave behind. As Kondo states, “When we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.” Tidying helped me face my past, so I could find real joy once again.

This week, consider the benefits of tidying in your own life. The questions below will help get you started:

    1. What are some of the things you love about your home? Are there any areas that could use some de-cluttering? What areas are those?
    2. Marie Kondo states, “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” What do you think she means by this?
    3. Are you someone who holds onto items or beliefs or emotions from your past? If so, how could this be holding you back from the present? 
    4. Marie Kondo also states, “No matter how wonderful things used to be, we cannot live in the past. The joy and excitement we feel here and now are more important.” What are your thoughts on this idea?
    5. By tidying up your space, it can help tidy up your life. How is this possible? How can tidying help you feel more free?
    6. In the next few weeks, what areas of your house or your life might you plan to tidy up?

Tidying can change the space you live in, but it can also help you discover your feelings about the past, present, and future. Take some time to tidy and feel the freedom that it brings. Keep what sparks joy and notice the difference it makes in your life. Be surrounded with the things you love and see how much freer you feel. As Kondo believes, “The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.” 

Also, be sure to check out Marie Kondo’s new show on Netflix. It shows first-hand the powerful impact tidying can have in our lives. Good luck and happy tidying!

Unexpected Glory

For many of us in December, it is easy to become lost in the busyness of the holiday season. We are shopping, baking, traveling, wrapping, caroling and often have more to do than we could ever accomplish. But the holidays are not the only important thing that is happening this month. For those of us in the northern hemisphere, December 21st is the winter solstice — the time of year when the outer world is the darkest. The winter solstice is a day where we can utilize this time of great darkness to shed light upon any fears or emotions that we have buried within ourselves. The solstice can serve as a reminder that even in the darkest of times, the light will return. As the American author and spiritual teacher, Gary Zukav states, "The winter solstice has always been special to me as a barren darkness that gives birth to a verdant future beyond imagination, a time of pain and withdrawal that produces something joyfully inconceivable, like a monarch butterfly masterfully extracting itself from the confines of its cocoon, bursting forth into unexpected glory."

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A Time for Rebirth

This past week, I've been spending more time outdoors as the temperatures are finally beginning to climb into the upper 50’s and 60’s. For those of us in colder climates, and specifically in New England, the warmer weather is a welcome change. Signs of life are emerging everywhere — birds are joyfully chirping in the trees, yellow daffodils are in full bloom, and tiny buds are sprouting up from the soil. Spring is a vibrant time of new beginnings, reminding us that life is about rebirth — about growing toward our potential. Just as seedlings change and grow, we, too, must be willing to change and evolve into the people we are meant to be; we can give birth to not only new versions of ourselves, but to new ideas as well.

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Through the Lens of Gratitude

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, and although I do love the mashed potatoes, stuffing, and pumpkin pie, there is something I love even more about it. I love that Thanksgiving is a day to celebrate and give thanks for all that we have been given. Instead of focusing our attention on the things we want, we can focus on the things we already have and the important people in our lives. There are many blessings all around us and yet, many of us take them for granted. That’s why Thanksgiving provides us the perfect opportunity to take a step back and look at the world through a new lens - the lens of gratitude. Our feelings of gratitude impact how we see ourselves, how we see each other, and how we see the world. Gratitude creates feelings of compassion, empathy, hope, and contentment. When we are content with our own lives, we begin to view others and the world in entirely new ways. We are thankful for the moments we share and for the connections that exist between all of us. We want to share this love and joy we feel with others, knowing that love is what truly brings us together.

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Be Like a Child

The summer is finally here, and it is the perfect time for us to break from our usual routines and enjoy our lives more fully. It’s important for us to plan some downtime where we can rest and recharge — even if it’s only for a short while. This summer, I’m planning to do exactly that. I’m taking a break from both my blog and my circling events in order to go within and renew my spirit. I know from past experience that when I take this much-needed downtime, it enables me to feel refreshed and re-energized when I return to my activities. That’s why downtime is so important. It helps us not only recharge, but it also helps us see things in a whole new light. So, I invite everyone to experiment with some downtime this summer. On sunny afternoons, take walks on the beach, read good books, or hike in the woods. Break free from your usual routines and have some fun. I know we all have responsibilities, but we can’t let them weigh us down. We have to learn to let go and laugh more — to be more like children, carefree and spontaneous.

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