Wednesday, January 22, 2014

100 Days of Kindness: Intentional decluttering made my life clear to me

I'm between professional gigs right now so I'm spending time working on my coaching business and re-claiming my living space from the chaos that crept in over the last couple of years. Its so easy to get busy/over focused and neglect care of your own space. My big plan was to finally donate my father in law's things that were still in our garage and to re-organize that space so I could work on home projects, have a nice work out space etc. This little project turned into a far more ambitious and meaningful work.

I was chatting on line with my friend and fellow coach Kristen Lee. She just sagely asked "if you don't love it or use it why do you have it?" She made the point that all the stuff we keep "for later" are just things that have to be taken care of at some point. Why not now?

I started going through cabinets ruthlessly and asking the question "who am I trying to be by keeping this?" Things started going in boxes and going to goodwill! In just over two days my garage was much emptier, organized and felt easy to be in again. I started thinking of the projects I could take on now with that space being open. I got my bicycle fixed and have been riding it around for errands. So much energy came on line I wanted to take it to the next level.

Last week on my trip to Savannah I hooked up for a retreat with Kristen and my other coaching friends. Kristen quietly worked her magic on the room keeping a state of order around us--soon the conversation switched to the topic decluttering and creating a good space. One of the coaches, Amanda Gibby Peters, who teaches Feng Shui started sharing how changing aspect of your home can help increase flow, prosperity, love etc. I could certainly relate from my recent experience working on the garage. I wondered if other parts of my home could use some help.

Honestly, I'm a terrible housekeepers--a lot of my flow problems could be solved by just picking up my socks and underwear. I love my home but I feel some serious low energy from the press of chaos around me--sometimes I feel surrounded by objects that seem to have no category or purpose that just sit there ask me to make a decision. A cloud of unclear thinking seems to descend on me when I try to figure out how to deal with some of this. Inspired by Kristen and Amanda's encouragement I decided to run the same exercise on my home office as I did on the garage.

Earlier this year I gave away a full set of jewelry making tools/supplies. I knew there were other unlived lives hanging out in the form of books, tools, supplies and other objects that only serve to clutter my thinking. Starting with my book shelf, I winnowed out every book and object no longer important or part of my life. I filled five grocery bags. I then went to the closet and started opening boxes. I filled more bags with the tchotchkes kept from old jobs, electronics, and other oddities that were using up space. I turned my eye to my cabinet desk and decided it was ok to release the lovely old Underwood typewriter that didn't properly function--it opened up space for my Olivetti that works beautifully and that I use for writing poetry (but wasn't using because I didn't have a space for it).

I started sharing my project with my coach friends--Kristen and Amanda cheered me on as I culled old paper work and other detritus.

I replaced the sloppy milkcrates I used for storing my personal papers with an attractive cabinet. I moved my photos around so I could see them more clearly and found a new home for my small wishing altar. The space started to feel different--productive and dynamic.

My front door post Feng Shui treatment
Amanda and I continued to chat online about my big clean. I mentioned that I was having some pretty slow responses on queries I'd sent out. I asked if there were there other things I could do in my home to help my personal flow. She had this to say: " Make sure your front door is inviting. Think of hosting an elaborate party but never sending out the invites. Doesn't matter how much effort you put into the planning + decor + treats, no one will show up if the invites aren't mailed. Your door is where auspicious opportunity/good chi shows up. So, wipe down the door. Replace the front door mat. Add something fresh in the spring, like a potted plant. Hang a wind chime. Anything that draws the eye to your front door is good shui."

My front door--ugh. 

Our front porch looked terrible. Dust and leaves had collected in the corners and our safety light had ceased to function. Also, the decorative door bell needed to be wired up. It looked pretty dog patch to say the least. Not only that, our driveway was littered with leaves and things that blew in from the street. Not inviting at all and a real energy sapping mess to come home to.

Amanda's advice lit a fire under me. I replaced the safety light that afternoon and pulled out the broom and some rags and thoroughly washed down the porch. I replaced the frayed mat with a new one and placed a potted rosemary by the door. I swept the driveway. I trimmed the plants in the yard of dead branches. I made an appointment with the electrician to fix the door bell. I fixed the pumps in our back porch and indoor water features (the indoor one I moved closer to the front door per Amanda's suggestion). Just as with the garage and my office, the house and yard now not only looked different but felt different.

And because my surroundings felt different, I felt different too--more relaxed but engaged at the same time. The kind of feeling you get after having a good nap and a cup of tea.

As I look around my home I see clear markers of who I am today in the world and not the reminders of the lives half lived that I was holding on to. By the process of elimination I painted a clearer picture to myself of who I want to be. By extension, that same message is shared out to the world as well.

Oddly (and not coincidentally I believe) I started to get some responses back on my queries--including an invitation to interview at a company I'm very interested in! All very exciting developments. 

This morning I walked outside and appreciated my bright new entryway, walked in my garden and enjoyed the feeling of calm radiating coming from it all. My mind started taking note of little things I'd like to move around or chage but mostly I savored the state of perfect undone-ness. 

What if I paid as much attention to my surroundings as I do to the care of my insides and physical body? None of these are quick fix, one time projects but ongoing efforts in care and mindfulness.

I highly recommend taking a look at your own environment to see where you can free up some flow--not by necessarily taking on a manic cleaning project but by carefully selecting what you choose to share of your life through the expression of your living space. In this way less is definitely more.

If you have an epic tale of decluttering or other home/life experiments I want to hear them! Please leave a comment or send me a message.

  

2 comments:

  1. Love this and your heart for sharing and improving the lives of others!

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  2. I love EVERYTHING HERE. It is of course the oldest cliche in the book to report "I'm so inspired, Sasha!" but there you are. Especially in the area of the entrances, of which we have TWO in front (and none in back). And they are suffering. I will report back! xoxox - thanks for this.

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