peaceful space

Stuff that makes me Wonder

Do you wonder how you can show your love and appreciation during the holidays, without buying so much stuff? Consider alternatives to clothes, housewares, and electronics. We’ve all been in the position of receiving gifts we won’t use (gravy boats) or don’t want (sparkly Santa socks), but feel stuck with the gift because we don’t want to appear ungrateful. There are lovely ways to let others know you’re thinking about them AND skip the mall. Kiva is one of my favorites and is highly rated by the detail-oriented folks at Charity Navigator, an organization whose mission is to, “guide intelligent giving.” Kiva is a micro-lending charity with networks around the world to support small business owners needing no-interest loans to create or build a business. I have been loaning small amounts of money to this organization for over 10 years and have let my money ride from one loan to the next; as one business pays me back, I choose and invest the same money with another small business. Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. I appreciate that the focus is to help people, to help themselves, there is beauty and dignity in this model. Learn more about how it works go to their website, http://www.kiva.org/
 

From my Closet

 

“When we diversify our experiences, we’re more likely to come up with new ideas or ways of looking at the world.” I am unable to cite the wise person who said this, but boy it feels true for me! Packing away all of but 33 items of clothes, shoes and accessories for 3 months is offering me a new way of looking at my belongings as I experiment with Courtney Carver’s Project 333 http://bemorewithless.com/project-333/  On June 26th I picked out my 33 favorite items of clothes, shoes, and accessories and put the rest in the basement, (not counted as part of the 33 are gym clothes, underthings, loungewear and pj's).

I was inspired to experiment with this after hearing about Courtney’s journey to live more simply as a way to reduce stress and its impact on her health.  As I listened, it was clear that Project 333 wasn’t just about the clothes, it was about discovering ways to reduce the stressful “noise” in her life.

After sorting through the items in my closet and dresser, my bedroom feels very different. I notice a sweet spacious feeling when I open the closet door. Although I only have 33 items from which to choose, it’s enough. This feeling of enough-ness is solid and peaceful; this stays with me throughout my day, and I am happy to have it tag along. I’ve also noticed that I have more time, money and energy. I spend less time and money shopping and managing my clothes. And because there are fewer options from which to choose, I waste no energy trying to figure out what to wear….it’s straight forward and effortless.

Maybe there is an area of your life where you would like to create more peace, re-claim time and free energy. Might be your closet, maybe your schedule or perhaps your office? What can you let go of in order to create more clarity and peace and that delicious feeling of enough-ness?

Here is a list of the 100+ items that moved out of my dresser and closet and into the basement.

Clothes: 13 tops, 3 slacks, 5 dresses, 1 jacket, 5 pairs of jeans, 2 pairs of shorts.  Plus a bag of clothes tucked in the back of my closet that I had forgotten about.  And of course the 5 pair of shorts and 3 pairs of slacks I had stashed on the top shelf in case I lost 10 lbs.

Shoes: 2 boots, 1 flip-flops, 3 heels, 2 flats, 1 hiking shoes, 1 wing-tips, and a 4-shelf shoe rack.

Accessories: 1 hat, 2 purses, 2 belts, 8 scarves (and the fabric covered box where they lived), countless earrings, necklaces, and rings.

Photos of what feels like enough...here are the 33 items I am wearing for the next 3 month.

Open Your Door

Sometimes, the stuff we’ve accumulated weighs on us so much that we don’t feel free to open the next door. We can’t see the next step, the opportunity or the gifts. We only see the piles of clothes, shelves of dusty books, boxes of dishes, drawers of old electronics. We may use physical clutter as a way to slow down our movement forward in life, as a way to distract ourselves from imagining a bigger, more fulfilling life for ourselves.

It’s helpful to wonder what’s underneath of our stuff, what’s the next possibility, what’s on the other side of the door?

Want out of the Clutter?

The process of de-cluttering is often spurred by a significant life transition. A transition holds the place of just before and just after, the line to cross, the threshold to step over.  These are the markers of life. I find myself referring to events in relationship to these transitions, “oh, that was before I moved,” or, “that happened after my daughter left for school.” Regardless of the initial reaction to a job change, divorce, or empty nest, I’ve may come to appreciate the experience for what I eventually learn about myself and what the “after” has to offer. I feel energized by the newness and openness of my reality. I am driven to re-set my personal surroundings to mirror the inner shift in perspective.

Often, while in the process of clearing what now feels like clutter, I expend a lot of emotional energy. After about an hour I feel stuck, sad, tired and overwhelmed. I try to remember to be kind to myself, it takes some effort to consider each item and choose which to keep and which to donate. These uncomfortable feelings are typical but they don’t have to stop progress. I pay attention and do the following when I feel stuck:

  • I step outside and focus attention on what is around me. How my feet feel on the ground, what I hear, what I see. I breathe slowly and deeply.
  • Go for a walk around the block, stretch or dance.  
  • Treat myself to a cup of hot tea, sparkling water or glass of wine.

When I feel rested and clear, I resume the de-cluttering for another 30 minutes, knowing it’s okay to take a break if I feel stuck again. Here are a few more things I do be successful:

  • Deal with de-cluttering projects in short chunks; no more than two hours at a time.
  • Take before and after pictures to share and remind myself of how much I’ve accomplished.
  • Spend a few minutes appreciating myself for focus and efforts, even if I don’t finish the whole job.

Nikki Crawford, Ph.D. is the owner of Your Peaceful Space, where her focus is to help you clear the clutter and create more peace in your life. To learn more, contact Nikki at yourpeacefulspace@gmail.com or call at 913.908.2298.

The Next Trip

As I peek into the openness of next year, I wonder which of my habits served me well enough in 2015, to help me create the life I want in 2016? Are there some I should leave behind?

These are the kinds of questions I asked Leah as we looked into her den. Leah asked me to help her create a room where she could peacefully read. Standing in the doorway I saw that all of the corners were packed with stuff. The couch was used as a large storage bin and every horizontal surface held deep piles of things.  I helped Leah mindfully consider how she wanted this room to feel, what it would look like if it were exactly the way she wanted. We talked about the stuff in the den that made sense to keep and the items that just didn’t fit with her intention of a reading room. At the core of this process was a focus on what Leah wanted to create, a focus on creation rather than blame. It is not helpful to spend time talking about how this den got so cluttered; lots more engaging and energizing to focus on what’s next.

This week I am going through a similar process. I am taking the time to thoughtfully consider how I want to feel as a walk through the days and months of the new year. When I focus on what I want to create for myself I consider the habits that are helpful, and which are inconsistent with my intention. Which enlivening habits will I tuck into my purse for the 2016 trip?

Wonder about the clutter

Some people comfortably live among stacks of books, weeks of newspapers and old coffee cups.  For me, the tidiness and aesthetics of my surroundings has a big impact on how I feel.  Walking down an old road in Tuscany I feel open and calm.  Drop me in a cramped, worn-out, motel in the boot heel of Missouri and I don’t feel quite so expansive or clear. I prefer to make my surroundings beautiful without too much stuff. I find it easier to appreciate lovely things when there aren’t so darned many of them. What’s going on here, are some of us more sensitive to our surroundings? If so, why? And perhaps more interestingly, where do you fit into this continuum? Let’s explore how you are impacted by your physical surrounding.

Take a moment to get settled in your chair and take a few deep, relaxed breaths.

Now, imagine a time when you felt completely comfortable and relaxed.

What were the physical characteristics of this place?

Describe the sights, sounds, smells and other sensory details.

Stay with the pleasantness for a few minutes and enjoy the feelings you experience.

You may have remembered a place that was akin to walking in the country or maybe closer to the boot heel motel, and either is perfect. I don’t think it is helpful to judge ourselves to be right or wrong...we are creatures continually in the process of changing our preferences and even habits. But it is good to be aware of the relationship between how we feel and the specifics of our surroundings.

Let me know what you think!

Nikki