• Health
  • Intense Times: A Call to Return to Soul

    woman looking left

    Last week was intense. I haven’t felt pulled off track like that in a long time. My partner of eight years moved out on Sunday. And the pandemic intensified tenfold.

    An Unfortunate Rendezvous with Old Habits

    My regular spiritual and self-care practices started to slip the week before. The difficulties of ending a longterm partnership had me reaching for some liquid relaxation again; something I had stopped doing for several months.

    As I took in the possibility of spending weeks alone at home (aside from going to work), I stocked up on all the essentials including a large case of beer. I got all the goods tucked away nicely and neatly in their respective homes in my kitchen, including the beer. Then the my soul spoke…

    “Paula, what are you doing? You stopped drinking to be present and available for your spiritual practices and work. And you’ve greatly enjoyed all the benefits of not drinking. Now you’re a daily drinker again when your relationship ends and a pandemic hits? Let’s think about this. Does this decision feel good?”

    It was a gut-wrenching truth. My soul had me thinking twice. I spent the entire day thinking about how it would be nice to just have one beer. Just one. I fought with myself. I told myself no. Then the end of the day came.

    I walked to the fridge as I browsed my email. I opened an email from Lee Harris. Ah! A new podcast with a woman who wants to share all about the sober life. My jaw-dropped. Then I opened the fridge and grabbed a beer anyway.

    That first sip was great. Bubbly goodness. But the night wore on. I didn’t like how I felt. And I began to realize that I couldn’t do my Akashic Records work the next day since I decided to drink. Alcohol impairs my ability to read the field so my teacher recommends waiting 24 hours after consuming to do readings. Dang.

    As I crawled into bed that night, I realized it just wasn’t worth it. I’ve spent the last several months reducing my alcohol intake. I used to drink regularly; one or two beers a night for several years. I saw no issue with it. But this year things changed.

    I realized I didn’t like how I felt when I constantly consumed alcohol. It really kept me from being in touch with my soul and the energetic realms. It often left me hazy the next morning. I didn’t feel as motivated. And it left me feeling disconnected from my feelings and the direct experience of my life.

    So last year I started to slowly reduce my intake. I drank about once a week. And then at the end of the year, I pretty much stopped altogether. I drank only about once a month if even that. But that changed.

    In the fires of transformation, my vulnerable self gave in to old habits to try to find a way to make myself feel better. I see more clearly than ever how the use of alcohol and TV keeps people from truly facing the reality of their lives.

    If I drank a beer and just relaxed, I could forget about all the difficulties I was experiencing. So I let myself do that. But then I didn’t want to stop. That’s when I realized that drinking had turned from a one-night enjoyment into a tactic to numb myself from my problems.

    It’s a subtle and slippery slope. Fortunately, I caught it early. I am so grateful I did this for myself. It occurred to me the morning after that last beer while I was out walking Rupert, my corgi, that I didn’t want to drink. I didn’t want to drink because I wanted to be completely present for what was happening in my life.

    The transformation that’s occurring through the ending of my relationship is way too important to me. I care too much about this ending to numb myself to it. This ending deserves my complete and utter respect. I show that respect by being present and available through all the ups and downs. That means no drinking.

    Fear rose up within me. I knew instantly that if I chose to numb myself to all that was occurring I’d be missing out on important lessons and energetic clearings that require my attention. I would inadvertently create more karma for myself rather than aid in its clearing if I kept drinking. That’s when I knew that drinking every day was no longer an option for me.

    The Intense Distraction of the Pandemic

    I see more clearly now at the other end of what has been an insanely intense week. I see that what’s needed now more than ever is my complete presence and my dedication and attentiveness to all my practices. It’s not just for myself during my own personal transformation but it’s also for the whole world during this pandemic.

    It’s easy in today’s world to get distracted. People are scared and alone. And all the systems and patterns are undergoing an insane overhaul. The energy in the collective right now is extremely erratic and wobbly. If you don’t take conscious control of where you place your focus, then the collective will do it for you. And you might not enjoy the outcome.

    As I sat on my sofa yesterday afternoon, I realized how important it was for me to buckle down in my spiritual practices and to engage with others who are choosing to do the same. I reached out to my soul sisters and told them about my plans. I then got off the couch and took action.

    I started with what felt most right. I picked up a stick of palo santo, lit it, and slowly walked around my apartment. I continued to light the palo santo and walk as I drew my attention inward, gathered my presence, and opened to the moment. I felt the sacredness of life fill my chest and my steps. I felt the collective energy push out and away as I created a field of calm and peace. My entire body relaxed. The whole apartment filled with palo santo’s sweet fragrance. But it didn’t end there.

    The ceremony had only just begun. I felt my soul taking the lead. She knew exactly what was needed: a slow, hot, nurturing bath. I lit candles, gathered the perfect selection of essential oils, and played one of my new favorite albums. I gave this to myself. I meditated on my senses: the smells, the heat, the music, and the light. I took slow deep breaths. I touched each limb of my body and gave great love and gratitude.

    In these moments, I took charge of my focus and attention. Where the forces at play in the world at large would rather we endlessly obsess about the ongoing pandemic, it is radical to reclaim your attention and focus on that which you’d like most to expand.

    It is easy in these moments when the pressure is hardest, when feelings are difficult, when fears are grand, to give in and give up. But it’s a true spiritual practice to continue to consciously choose for yourself.

    No, I will not give in to old behaviors.

    No, I will not allow myself to be incessantly consumed with the fear and anxiety of the pandemic.

    No, I will not allow my sovereignty to be compromised in times of difficulty and challenge.

    Instead, I see here a great opportunity for me to hold stronger to my personal sovereignty, to stand taller for the new way of being I desire to see in the world, and to speak louder about the higher vision for all of humanity.

    Now is the time to claim what we most desire to experience in our own lives and to be an advocate for that. Do not let yourself be overcome and carried away. Or even if you do, trust that you will notice. Notice yourself being carried away in the thick of it but then stop, draw your energy inward, reclaim your power, and make a new choice.

    Yes, we need to be aware of what’s going on. Yes, we need to help where we can. Yes, we need to do what we must to protect ourselves and others. Yes, an immense amount of compassion is called for. Yes, how you feel is okay.

    And…

    We can remain sovereign beings who choose to anchor higher levels of light amidst the chaos by choosing to consciously guide and direct our attention and focus.

    Choose today to take a break from everything. Forget it all for a moment and listen to the birds. Forget it all and lay on your couch and listen to one entire album of music. Forget it all and go make love in the woods. Drop in to that space in the middle of your chest that pulses with love. Melt into that.

    With love,

    Paula

    Photo by Sandra Kaas on Unsplash

  • Love
  • Blessings for This Day

    woman hands in the air

    Today…

    May your fears be set aside for love.

    May your tenderness shine through.

    May your eagerness for life spill over.

    May your anxieties direct your attention in and down to the silent core of your being.

    May you know your own strength and courage.

    May you be inspired to do things you wouldn’t otherwise do.

    May you take the time to cherish yourself in new ways.

    May your family be blessed by your presence whether in person or virtually.

    May you light up someone else’s life.

    May you know the truth of who you are.

    May you bask in the blessings that change and disruption inevitably bring, even if you’re not aware of them yet.

    May you know patience at a time when uncertainties are high.

    May your presence be a day-to-day practice.

    May you take the time to stop and notice spring blooming all around in covert and secret ways or in obvious in-your-face ways.

    May the earth ground you and bless you and kiss you endlessly.

    May you be in a harmonious relationship with the spirits of the lands.

    May your benevolent and wise ancestors be our biggest supporters.

    May you continue forward with hope held deep in your heart for a future vision even greater and grander than anything you’ve ever known.

    May you know and engage with your breath intimately and frequently.

    May you share the kindness of your heart with others.

    May you and yours be blessed until the end of days.

    May abundance follow you wherever you go.

    May good things rain down – for all of humanity.

    Thank you.

    Amen.

    Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

  • Wealth
  • Vision: What It Takes to Go All the Way

    vision

    It can be easy in a moment to follow a flash of inspiration. Riding on a high, one inspired action leads to another. Complete works come into existence from the void. Whole new worlds are created. But for what?

    One-off projects here and there get you things. Lots of things. Intellectual property in the bag. But soon the clutter mounts on tables and chairs, in corners and cracks. The hypothetical room is full of things and no long-lasting impact to show for it. Just stuff.

    I love inspired action. You might even say I’ve been an inspiration addict. It used to flow through me like the Nile flowing north after a strong rain. I’d cling to a beautiful tree branch with buds, drag it out of the water, and a dig a deep hole to stick it in. I was stoked. I built… a tree?

    My inspiration led to this – action taken and completed. Unfortunately, one lone branch in the ground doesn’t build a house. One lone action doesn’t put up four walls, a chimney, and a roof and then maintain it for twenty years. One hurdle towards a goal on the back of inspiration easily breaks down and into nothing without the most important piece.

    A Vision is Your Driving Force

    A vision is the ultimate driving force. It’s the great aligner. It’s your roadmap.

    It gives you clues to your next step. It shows you which turn to take. It encourages you when you’re down. It reinforces you when you’re up. It gives meaning and depth to your actions. It reminds you about why you’re doing what you’re doing.

    It takes you beyond the initial stages of excitement through the dark post-inspiration void and to the path of steady consistent disciplined action.

    When you have a vision for the future you can see your way forward through the highs of divine inspiration and through the lows of human messiness.

    Because, trust me, the lows are coming. They are always coming. You can’t have a high without a low. It’s the cyclical nature of life. Look out your window for this wisdom. True power lies in capturing this awareness and applying it to your life.

    When you know you must face the downward dive of a once great high you can plan your way through it. You can see your way through it. Know where you are going and why. See yourself getting there. See yourself in the highs. See yourself in the lows. Anticipate what every low might be.

    Anticipation requires self-knowledge. You can’t anticipate what you don’t know about yourself. But you can anticipate what you do know. So take what you know (your weaknesses and strengths) and integrate that into your vision and how you see yourself fulfilling that vision – no matter what.

    For example, I know that during certain times of the month, and even during certain times of the year, I’m a lot less motivated than at other times. I know this. So how do I apply this knowledge? Well, I forecast it into my vision.

    I look into my vision in my mind’s eye. I see myself working my way towards it. I see myself in those moments when it’s hardest, when I least one to put forth the effort. I visualize myself doing the bare minimum that I need to do to keep on track. And then I see myself still going.

    I get through those hard times. I make it to the easier, lighter, and fun times. I see myself move through it all, doing whatever I need to, even if it’s only the bare minimum, to keep making progress towards my vision.

    No Vision = Failed Projects

    For many of my projects over the last several years, I failed to have a realistic vision for the future. Sure, I had a goal. I wanted to start a business, make money, create this thing. But these goals were one dimensional. They lacked legs. Legs get you places. Without legs, you aren’t going anywhere.

    A few years ago I wrote an ebook for nursing students. I also held a workshop to teach the same material. I planned to make a business out of it to make some money. The idea was solid.

    I set up a website and social media. I promoted my workshop and ebook. I launched my ebook and held the workshop. But then everything sputtered to a quick end. Why? Because I had no clue where I was going with it. I reached my goal: create an ebook and hold a workshop. But then what?

    I didn’t think about where I was going with these projects. What vision did they serve? None. I didn’t have a vision. I didn’t think about the longterm plans for my creation. So the entire thing came to a firey end.

    I played out this same pattern for several other projects over the years as well. I started a coaching business and a freelance writing business. I committed to personal projects of writing and sharing. I branded whole new websites for my writing. But for what? What was my vision? I knew I wanted to write. I knew I wanted a business. But, again, for what? Where was I going with it?

    I never considered the longterm implications. I never considered what would happen when I wasn’t inspired or motivated to work on the project. I didn’t consider what I truly wanted in the end. I didn’t consider what I was willing to give to make it a reality or what I was willing to do when I didn’t feel like doing anything at all.

    Inevitably, those moments came and went. And out went my project with it. I never took the time to see my projects making it through the other side of those deep lulls. I never envisioned my projects in their full glory with all their inherent implications for my life. So none of these projects made it anywhere other than just over the edge of the launch pad.

    Did I complete a bunch of projects? Yes. But that was it. Completed and done. The story never truly got told. It was like writing an amazing introduction to a book that was never completely written.

    Discipline and Commitment

    What’s difficult is having the capacity and wherewithal to continue forward towards a vision no matter what comes. But what makes it easier is actually having a vision worth moving towards through every high and low.

    It takes commitment and discipline to move towards your vision no matter how you feel in the moment. Inspiration will come and go. Commitment and discipline keep you on the path. And it’s a hell of a lot easier to stay committed and disciplined when you have a vision worth working towards; one that aligns with who you are on a soul level.

    A true vision, a soul vision, draws you out of yourself into action when you’re inspired and when you’re not. It’s an inner kick in the butt that you need to show up for yourself every day. Because if you don’t show up for your soul vision then you’re letting yourself down. And self-betrayal cuts deep.

    But more on all that at another time. Today get crackin’ on your vision for your life. What do you see yourself doing for your career/profession, in relationships, or for your self? What vision pulls you in and out so fully you can’t say no?

    Photo by Max Bender on Unsplash

  • Love
  • Do You Hear the Cry?

    Life is changing rapidly these days. You can see it clearly on the world’s stage. Our darkest shadows express themselves in politics, warfare, natural disasters, and hate crimes in our own communities. Every day we think, “It can’t get any worse, can it?” And then it does.

    People are more polarized than ever before. We are choosing sides, laying stakes, and not budging. People take pride in being stubborn, calling names, and hating their fellow humans.

    God knows no sides. Life doesn’t differentiate between one or the other. That “other” is you. There is only one. One humanity. One spiritual body. One planet earth. One ecosystem calling for healing. And that healing begins with you.

    Do you hear the cries of the planet? The hurricanes that ravish our shores. The earthquakes that shake our cities. The floods that wash away our homes. Who are we to think that we can go on living the same way we did before? Let’s get all Einstein for a sec and acknowledge that we cannot find the solution to a problem at the same level of thinking that created it.

    We must start fresh, new, again, for the first time. And we are given that chance today – right now, and every day, over and over again. You are given that opportunity. You.

    Yea, it’s easy to sit back and look at the world and think about how there’s all this crazy shit going on out there. It seems easier to have another drink, another smoke, another cupcake. It seems easier to beat yourself up at the gym or force yourself to work longer hours. You can’t seem to stop watching TV or movies. The video games suck you in each night and every weekend. But those problems, the ones you see played out over and over again on the 24-hour news cycle, aren’t going away.

    Some of us will see these images and weep. Our hearts will break. And tears will flow down our faces, drench our shirts, and create a puddle on the floor around our bent over bodies.

    Some of us will see these images and get angry. Someone is to blame and it’s not me or you – it’s them! They need to be killed, beaten, isolated, or exterminated. We become red in the face and so heated that we take it upon ourselves to do the killing. We bring out our biggest gun and kill the innocent kids playing in the yard at the mosque on the corner.

    Some of us will see these images and die. The weight of the world has become too heavy. There’s no reason to live. Killing one’s self is the answer. Suicide, cardiac arrest, car accident, or cancer. Our time is over.

    But then some of us will see these images and know. We know what these images really are. We see the light beneath these shadows. The light that makes these shadows possible. And we give praise! We praise God, The Universe, for answering our prayer. We kneel before nature and give thanks to her beauty and bounty. We bless our fellow humans. We call forth all those who wish to welcome this light to earth with open arms and hearts. We worship!

    These problems are a reflection of the deep healing occurring within us collectively and individually. And it is you and I who are being called forth to heal this planet, to heal ourselves, and to heal each other. That means you, because YOU MATTER.

    No longer can you pretend that your individual life doesn’t matter. It is naive to believe that you can be on this planet and have no effect whatsoever. It is selfish to ignore the power that lies within you. It is reckless to think the world’s problems exclude you. And it is insane to think you can stay the same throughout this all.

    Do not be a vapid, ghostly body walking this planet. Because you have purpose and meaning. Because you matter. In that lies great responsibility. And you knew that when you came to this earth. You knew what you were signing up for. No longer are you allowed to shirk your responsibilities to this planet, to its people, and to yourself. In so doing, you put all in harm’s way.

    You need not run out to join a political campaign, activist group, or volunteer activity. You don’t need to write a manifesto, work longer hours, or give away all your money. You don’t have to do these things unless you feel called. At this time, what you’re called to do first is to love.

    Learn to love. Learn to let love in. Learn to see love as the driving force of the Universe. Learn to welcome love into your heart. Learn to give love to other people’s hearts. Learn to be love. In that journey, you will find a path that suits you. A path that heals this planet, its people, and you.

    We are each an individuation of the whole. And in the whole, we see reflected all that is within ourselves.

    Stop waiting. Stop denying. Stop hating. Stop thrashing. Stop resisting. Stop forcing. Stop talking. Stop shitting on this planet. Stop for just a moment. Take a deep breath. Let go. Surrender. And let in the mercy of God. You are needed now more than ever.

    Do you see the tragedies in your own community? Do you hear the cry of the coral reefs dying? Do you taste the poor quality food that’s poisoning you and your children? Do you feel the sorrow of your fellow humans losing their homes? Do you smell the rancid sewer waste filling our oceans, crowding our creeks, and polluting our streets?

    It’s time to get right with your soul. It’s time to come together. And it’s time for being love and allowing that love to move through you in miraculous ways. When you let the hand of God, the Universe, guide you, all you do will be like Midas. You will have a powerful touch that heals the planet.

    Remember: you matter. You mean something to this world. You have a gift. You have a talent. You have a vibration that affects the environment and the people around you. You matter. And now’s the time.

     

    Photo Credit

  • Love
  • How to Take Your Relationship to the Next Level

    take your relationship to the next level

    It’s easy in the beginning. You fall madly in love. You can’t get the other person out of your thoughts. You can’t wait to see them on the weekend. You buy gifts, go on dates, and do sweet things for no reason at all. Warm, fuzzy feelings fill your relationship.

    And then one day they don’t. You argue, disagree, or need some space. The other person disappoints you, doesn’t meet your expectations, or lets you down. You discover… a flaw. And unless the other person throws some serious red flags, this is the point when you decide whether you’re truly committed or not. This is where the rubber meets the road.

    A committed relationship gives you several opportunities, again and again, to go to the next level. And it all starts with you. You must first be solid within yourself (as much as possible) before your relationship with another can take on added layers and deeper meaning.

    Let’s just say, for now, you’re ready. You’re both ready. So what does it look like to take your relationship to the next level?

    You may be imagining some crazy ass shit like wild sex parties and threesomes or getting married, having children, or buying a house. These are natural desires and dreams for a couple for outward expansion. But there’s an inward expansion that must first be undertaken: trust.

    Trust is fundamental to the health of any relationship. And it’s the ingredient most frequently discarded in pursuit of outward expansion. Many people fail to develop deep levels of trust before getting married, having a threesome, or even having children. Our society pays no mind to the deep bond necessary to make such undertakings successful, yet encourages that young people get married, have kids, and buy a house pronto. But these achievements remain hollow when your relationship hasn’t undergone the natural inward expansion necessary to withstand such changes. The development of trust creates the foundation for the entire future of your relationship.

    Here’s how trust has evolved in my own relationship:

    A couple Sundays ago, my love and I were enjoying the one leisure day we would have together for three weeks. The one day. My guy had to take a bit of that time to meet with his business partner, which was understandable. That had been the routine for many months now. He said it would only take an hour. But it took three. And I was furious.

    In all my furry, I could feel this voice inside me say, “It’s okay. Everything will work out.” But I couldn’t let the furry go. It was so convincing. I stay committed to it, even after he got home. But I knew that I didn’t want it to ruin what time we had left together. Despite how hard it was to let those feelings go, I decided in that moment to trust that it was all okay, and I opened my heart.

    This same scenario has played out over again and again in varying situations over the last several months. I find myself with all kinds of feelings of irritability, frustration, anger, fear, sadness, and doubt. Usually, my expectations aren’t being met. He’s not being the person I want him to be. Situations aren’t turning out how I’d like them to be. And I don’t understand what’s going on. I feel out of control.

    When I feel out of control, I get angry, frustrated, and hateful. I feel insecure. I take it out on him by closing my heart, walling myself off, and hiding. Which only hurts my relationship. Despite, and with deep acknowledgment of, my feelings, I’ve learned that it’s up to me to return to love. And that requires deep trust. Trust in my self. Trust in my relationship. Trust in the Universe and Life. And trust that everything will work out.

    Trust can be hard to define. But I’m going to give it a go…

    Trust means letting go of your negative thoughts and beliefs and expectations about the other person. Trust means choosing to see the positive and expect the best until proven otherwise. Trust means allowing the Universe to work within your relationship and to be the guide. Trust means putting down the walls and defenses to be yourself freely without shame, guilt, fear, or insecurity – or despite these feelings. Trust means allowing yourself to love deeply so that you may be loved deeply in return.

    These deeper layers of trust happen within you, with your relationship with yourself and with your relationship with God/the Universe/Life first. As you cultivate these deeper layers of trust, you find that trust reflected within your most intimate relationships. And all your relationships for that matter.

    From this space of deep trust, which must be cultivated within both partners, you can take new actions to outwardly expand your relationship as a couple. With each new level of inward expansion, a new level of outward expansion can evolve. The process reveals one layer after another on an ever-evolving journey. More feelings. More love. More feelings. More love. The deeper your commitment to one another the deeper you both will go.

    It’s difficult to trust. An open heart is vulnerable. It’s scary. And it’s understandable that feelings of insecurity would arise. Past hurts surface. Future fears confront you. It’s a natural reaction to defend or hide. But that next level in your relationship requires your diligent practice of being vulnerable, heart wide open, with full faith and trust. Whatever the outcome, it’s the perfect experience for you and your relationship. Your open heart ensures the health and longevity of your relationship, at least with yourself.

    In those moments when it’s hardest, choose to trust that there’s something there for you. Enter that vulnerable, soft place within yourself. Meet your partner from that space. Go there together. And share yourself with him or her deeply. That’s how you take your relationship to the next level. From there, expand out with vigor and enthusiasm.

    Where have you closed your heart in your relationship? Where have you built a wall? Where are and in what way are you cowering from the opportunity to take your relationship to the next level? How can you trust yourself, the Universe, and your partner more? And what inward action can you take today?

  • Love
  • The Artist’s Path: An Exploration into Consistency as the Middle Way

    The Artist's Path

    As a nurse, I care for people of every race, religion, sexual orientation, attitude, and family dynamic. Care does not discriminate, nor do I. In taking care of such a wide range of individuals, I’m often surprised and intrigued by what I uncover about the humans I care for.

    One of my patients had a secret talent. After three days of caring for him, I learned from the doctor that the patient was a phenomenal artist. The doctor heard from the patient’s friend. Curious, I approached my patient, “Tell me about being an artist?” He said, “Well, what do you want to know?” I said, “What’s your art? Your medium? What art do you go about arting?”

    He explained that he’s a painter. He’s been painting since the age of four. He can render any image into an exact replica on canvas. He’s so good that he’s had people approach him about creating counterfeit art. They offered good money, but after some thought, he said, “I told them no.”

    It’s no coincidence that as we’re talking I’m thinking about my writing. I’ve been wrestling with my art the last several weeks. I’ve explored many avenues with my writing in the last couple of years but I hit a wall again and again. My writing has slowed to the pace of a blooming flower. I journal with vigor about the need, want, and desire to write. I write words on a blank page. But then never return to them. My publishing rate has dropped to a low level. And I’m turning in circles, wearing holes in my shoes.

    The artist went on to explain that he’d get a build up of energy like, “I just had to paint.” An image would enter his mind and stay. A pressure built in his head. Any new thoughts or ideas stifled in the presence of the one idea that wouldn’t go. Painting was the only answer. “I’d paint for hours or days. I’d get it all out of me. And then it would be gone,” he said. He paints by pressure alone unless someone specifically asks him to make a painting.

    I asked if he could draw me something, since we don’t have paint, but he said he didn’t know what to do. He didn’t feel like it. “No pressure,” I said.

    I walked out of the room and returned to the nurse’s station. Pressure. And no pressure. Inspiration. And no inspiration. The game of the artist.

    The pressure builds to a point that you can’t sit back anymore. You must take action. No matter the quality, you must at least take action. Relieve the pressure. And go on your merry way. But know that the pressure will build again, and you’ll be called back to your art, again and again. Maybe you like the back and forth, the tug-o-war between your logic and your art. But maybe you don’t. The cycle can be broken by adhering to the middle way.

    The Buddha suggests that enlightenment can be found between the extremes. And while I don’t need enlightenment, I desire a path that centers my being, keeps me focused on the heart, and allows me to endure, experience, and explore life in a way that satisfies, heals, and integrates. The philosophy of the middle way can be a source of continual inspiration for any artist, myself included.

    What fruit can blossom from consistency?

    Consistency, or practice, centers the soul. Consistency is a guide, ever returning your attention to the heart of the matter, the why, the work, the play, the life. There’s a quietness in consistency and commitment that allows the flow to keep flowing and life to keep giving.

    The artist explained that his friends and even strangers would praise his work and encourage him to do something about it. The quality of his art is worthy of great galleries and great money. But he reservedly shook his head and said, “No,” time and time again. Despite the urges of the Universe, the sirens calling to him from as close as they could possibly get, he turned away. He engaged in the cycle of extreme creation and extreme stagnation until he reached a point where he no longer created.

    Where could he have been if he had heeded the call? Where would his art be today? What homes and people would proudly boast the art on the walls? What beauty would be dispersed in the world? What inspiration would fill hearts and move souls?

    When you engage in the cycle of extreme creation and extreme stagnation you open yourself to the struggle of the return and the possibility of never returning. It’s harder to sculpt, mold, and transform the puddy of inspiration as it rebuilds itself within you each successive cycle. Inspiration will only call so many times before it leaves you empty handed as the artist who wouldn’t commit.

    I’ve never been a gambler. Why should I gamble with my art? And why should I deprive the world of the beauty and inspiration that could arise by sharing my work? Who am I to think that the world doesn’t need it? Who am I to believe that it’s too hard or not worth it? Who am I to turn down the call to heal the planet at a time when we so desperately need it?

    Answer me this:

    What art are you not creating today that could serve humanity in profound ways?

     

     

    Photo Credit

  • Love
  • How to Create the Life You Desire

    How to Create the Life You Desire

    If there’s a life you’re trying to create, then there’s an easy way you can create it. But for most, you do not realize you can create your life the way you like, and you do not know how to do it.

    When you first hear that you can craft and design your life to your liking you might think of all your problems. And then you set out to dissolve your problems as a way to create the life you want. The whole time you’re solely focused on your problems. Your problems persist. Instead of seeing relief, you see more financial burden, more fights in your marriage, and grumpy kids and unrelatable friends. All while you’re still unhappy. Then you believe it doesn’t work. You give up. You think it’s all a sham. You can’t actually get the life you want. If you could, you would have had it by now, but no proof has appeared – not even a twinkle in the sky to give you hope.

    But you shouldn’t give up because there’s far more to the process than knowing you can create your life. You have to know how to create your life. If you stop with simply knowing, then you’ll fail. You’ll give up. You’ll think you can’t do it. Stick around and learn what more there is to the process. And soon you’ll have the life you desire.

    If you want to create your life, you must know that it’s a collaboration. Yea, you’re working with someone. Not a person or being, really. More like the Universe. God. Source. Your Higher Power. Your Highest Self. You know, that expansive, all-knowing force. The creator of life. Yea, you have to recruit the Creator of Life to help you create your life. This ain’t a solo journey. Can you get down with that?

    So that’s a big step. Well, it’s a big step to learn that you can create your life. But it’s an even bigger step to know that you have to recruit the help and aid of the Universe too. There’s power in this step that shouldn’t be overlooked. Because here you either make it or break it. You’re with it or not. If there’s any inkling of doubt, hesitation, or uncertainty about this step, then you need to figure out what that’s about. Do you struggle with the concept of God? Do you have beliefs about God that could be interfering with this broader, deeper, more supportive idea of God?

    If you can’t get on board with this step in the process, then you might want to stop now. Because this whole thing hinges on faith, surrender, openness, and trust. Those are big concepts and even bigger in practice. If you’re going to collaborate with the Creator of Life, these qualities are necessary to brew up your best life ever. Otherwise, you risk working with the wrong team: the ego.

    The ego plays an important role in human life. Well, we wouldn’t be quite human without it. It’s our personality. It’s how we engage and interact with earth and other humans (since we are spiritual beings having a human experience). But you can’t do much with it, other than interacting with others. Its function was not created to be the source of life. That’s God’s job. And that’s why you need to be on Her side to get the job done.

    So now that you’re with God. You get that God has to be in the picture if you want to be a collaborator, co-creator, of your life. God’s role is very important. Here’s what you can expect. God gathers the forces of nature to bring what you truly desire into physical form in your immediate reality. That means your new best friend, boyfriend, or dog (of their own free will and with the inspiration and guidance of God) are brought to you by the power of God. But not by the power of God alone. While God plays an important role (conjuring unseen forces to materialize in your reality), you have to have a desire for something specific first. That’s where you come in.

    As co-creator of your life, it’s your job to know what you want. Back to what we were talking about earlier. You just learned that you can create the life you desire. So you start to think about all the things going wrong in your life that you want to change. As we’ve already discussed, one thing wrong with what you did here was that you forgot to call on God to be a part of the process. Now the second thing going wrong is that you are focusing on your problems and all the things you don’t want in your life. And that’s exactly how you keep co-creating more of the same. You can’t expect the love of your life to appear when you can’t stop thinking about the broken marriage you’re still a part of. You can’t have a new car if you’re obsessed with talking about the old, broken down car sitting in your driveway. You can’t focus on your problems – what you don’t want – and expect to get what you do want.

    Instead, you must clearly and specifically define what you do want. You want a new car. What kind of car? By when? And most importantly, what will it feel like when you’re driving your new car? You want a new best friend. What qualities do you want in your best friend? What will you do together? And most importantly, what will it feel like when you’re with your new best friend?

    Now take out a piece of paper or open your journal if you have one. At the top of the page, write about what you want. Talk in detail about what you desire. What color? How many? With whom? Where to? And most importantly, what does it feel like to be in the experience of what you desire?

    Do you not know what you want specifically? Maybe you have a vague idea, but you’re having a hard time clearly defining it. That’s okay. Because you can use the most powerful tool of all to assist you in clarifying your desire all while attracting it you from the get-go. What’s the tool? Your feelings. Your feelings are your guide. They tell everything you need to know.

    Start like this: I know I want a new car. What does that feel like? Turn your focus and attention into the center of your body – your chest, belly, neck. All your attention should be on the midline of your body. Here is where you’ll receive the feeling. Sink into the knowing that the solution is available. There’s a car available for you. You’re not sure what kind, how many miles, or whatever. But you know it’s time for a new car and you’re ready to start attracting it to you now.

    Of course, you’ve got to actually need a new car. The desire must spring forth from inside you. It must. You’ve gotten the value out of your old one, and it’s truly time for a new one. It’s called a true desire.

    See you can’t (or at least you can try but it might not work well) attract things into your life if it isn’t a true desire. True desires come from within. They come from being in alignment with God. Here comes that collaboration piece again.

    When it comes to co-creating, you bounce ideas off God. You’re like, “Hey man, I think I really need a new car. What do you think?” You ask God what he thinks. And God says, “Nah, you don’t need a car. Not Yet. There are other more important things you should be focusing on.” So you say, “Okay, God. I get you. I don’t need a new car. But what should I be focusing on? What’s the next step?”

    If you sit with yourself in silent meditation, journal, or spend time in quiet contemplation, God will open your heart to your true desires. You’ll receive intuitions in your quiet time. Someone you know will mention something to you. Or you’ll get an idea from the TV or radio. If you’re still unsure about the specific details, simply focus on defining the feeling. Think of the situation you want to attract into your life. Ask yourself these questions: what is it about that that I want or like? What feeling do I think I’ll get from that? How do I want to feel when I receive that situation or experience?

    It’s more important that you know what feeling you’re going after than what it all looks like. Often what we think we want is different than what would actually feel best and be best for us. So when you go with feelings first you’re going to attract the perfect situation rather than attracting a situation that meets a mental picture but doesn’t necessarily feel right. Once you know what you truly desire. You use that powerful tool (your defined feelings) to assist God in manifesting what you desire.

    It’s a process. Overtime your desire may change or alter based on new information. The information may shift your idea or vision of what you desire. But your feelings should always be the same. These core feelings inform a vision that will build in your mind’s eye. The vision may or may not be clear. What’s most important is the feeling behind the vision.

    In time, as you focus on your core desired feeling, enhance the vision that develops, and stay open to new ideas or opportunities, you’ll begin to see signs that what your desire is coming into form. As doors open, walk through them. Say yes. Take the help when someone offers. Go out and see that car you drove by on your way home from work. Take steps forward all while remaining focused on your core desired feeling. You’ll know your desire has manifested when your core desired feeling is matched by your experience – you get a new car and it feels amazing because you paid in full. Or a new friend reaches out to you to hang out. You meet someone while out on a hike. A family friend emails you about a new job opportunity.

    In time, as you stay committed and focused on your core feeling and intention, your desire will be made manifest. And you will successfully co-create your life with God. But you have to be patient. All good things come in time. This is where you can misstep again. The final step in the process: patience. It could take weeks, months, or even years for the perfect opportunity to manifest in your reality. But simply because it doesn’t arrive on your timeline, doesn’t mean it’s not on its way. And here’s where step two comes in handy again. You have to have faith. You have to continually surrender. You have to remain open. And you have to trust in the process.

    I heard once that manifestation is like being out on a boat that’s coming into shore on a foggy, gray morning. You can’t see the shore. In fact, it feels like you’re still light years away. But you see driftwood. Then you begin to see driftwood with birds perched on top. Soon you see other boats. And eventually, you see the shore. As your desire manifests, you’ll receive small signs or clues that you’re going in the right direction – don’t give up. Stick to your desired feeling. Your feelings are your guides. Every day remind yourself of the feelings. It should feel good, so it shouldn’t be any problem to slip into that good feeling place and coat yourself in the good stuff. Your continued faith is a key ingredient in this process. And without it, you won’t get very far.

    You may even forget about your desire for a while. Because life happens and other things come up. Your focus draws to other things. But you already put your order in for the Universe. So the Universe silently works on bringing your desire to you. Next thing you know, you look up and there’s your desire, in full form, right in front of you.

    What’s most important here is that you know what your true desire is and that you have clearly and specifically defined your desire, right down to the core feeling. And then you follow that with faith, surrender, trust, and openness as you patiently wait for your desire to come about. In the meantime, you live life, you say yes, and you take action.

    So if I had to break it down into a few simple and easy to remember steps, then this is what those steps would be:

    1. Know that you can create the life you desire
    2. You must recruit the help of the Universe
    3. Identify your true desire and core feeling
    4. Embody these qualities: faith, surrender, openness, and trust
    5. Say yes and take action
    6. Be patient
  • Wealth
  • How to Declutter for a Simpler Life – Part Six: Final Thoughts

    I’ve spent the last four months turning my life upside down from the inside out.

    I’ve scavenged every nook and cranny. I’ve touched every item I own. And I’ve asked, “Does this spark joy?” more than 500 times.

    I’ve traveled back and forth from Goodwill to clothing resale shops to electronic stores to my mother’s house. I’ve used dozens of white and black trash bags to discard items. The dumpster has become my friend. What remains are items that I truly enjoy and the 10 lessons I’ve learned.

    10 Lessons from Decluttering

    1.Sometimes you get it wrong.

    After a day of decluttering, I would rest and relax until the next day. Then I’d wake up and re-evaluate my situation. Where am I? How have I done?

    I found that in my excitement or emotional turbulence I kept several items that didn’t spark joy. Or I failed to properly ask the question in the first place. So I returned to certain categories.

    I reviewed the items that remained. And parted with several more things. Until I felt complete.

    I choose not to judge myself. I’m only human.

    So keep in mind, should you choose to declutter, you might also do it wrong, forget a few things, or not ask the right question at the right time. But that’s okay. Because you can always go back.

    2. We often hold onto things out of fear.

    Fear of the future. Fear of not enough. Fear of what others will think. Fear of emptiness and spaciousness. Fear of ourselves.

    Feel the fear and let it go anyways.

    Living in fear is far from inspired. And never leads to a happy, empowered life.

    3. Stuff carries emotional baggage, some of the time.

    You can’t predict what will be the hardest to let go. And other times, you’d be surprised by how easy it is to discard things.

    Remember when I cried over perfume bottles? Perfumes I hadn’t worn in a couple years. But then there were mounds of books I plowed through in minutes. I knew it was time.

    You’ll know, too, when it’s time to let go. And you’ll be stopped in your tracks by things that pull emotional cords.

    4. You’ll just know.

    I get what Marie Kondo means when she says, “You’ll just know.”

    Decluttering is about finding a balance and a knowing with your belongings. It’s about everything you own having its right place in your physical, mental, and emotional space.

    You’ll love what you have. You’ll have less stuff so you’ll care for it more. You’ll put it all back where it belongs. Therefore, your home will be tidier.

    And at the end of your decluttering process, you’ll feel at peace with your belongings. Until you do, you’re not done.

    5. There’s more involved than you might expect.

    It’s not just a matter of getting rid of things. It’s a whole process.

    Collecting everything in one spot from all the locations your stuff could be – all corners of your home, your car, your parent’s home, your friend’s home, or your work.

    Then entering the process of discarding. One item at a time, “Does this spark joy?”

    Then collecting it all to remove from your home. And dispersing all your stuff to the dumpster, the resale shop, your mom or dad’s house, or your best friend’s home. It takes more time than I expected. No wonder she gives you six months.

    On top of that, you can’t predict the emotional impact each session will have. Your emotions will either slow or hasten your desire to declutter. Remember my need for space? Sometimes you have to resolve emotional issues and face fears before continuing. And that’s okay.

    6. Many businesses are unsustainable.

    Most businesses these days are unsustainable. In our consumer and producer world, we believe that we can keep creating “products” to make a living. Yet the living we’re making is destroying the world we live in.

    The belief that we can continually reach for more and more, produce more and more, is unsustainable. But all businesses think about is hitting that next big profit goal without considering the impact it has on the environment – in the short and long term. 

    We buy clothes continuously because there’s a seemingly endless supply (to the detriment of workers in sweatshops in third-world countries).

    Planned obsolescence forces us to purchase the next best gadget. Otherwise, we can’t install the latest app to check our email or listen to music.

    To live in a healthy world, our business practices must be sustainable. Which means our purchasing practices must be sustainable as well. As consumers, we have the power to direct the market. The power of our purchases guides businesses.

    So make no mistake. The power is in our hands.

    7. You can declutter more than physical items.

    Other areas of your life can be decluttered, too. Like your goals and projects. Your chores and daily tasks. Your activities. Your friends. Your beliefs. And your digital world.

    Maybe just start with your home.

    But consider the impact that decluttering can have on your entire life. Simply ask yourself, “Does this task/goal/friend/belief spark joy?” 

    8. Decluttering impacts those around you.

    My boyfriend started his own decluttering process. It’s not the same as mine but he’s inspired to live a decluttered life as well.

    I didn’t encourage him to do it. He simply noticed the impact my decluttering has had on my life – which affects him, too. So now he is joining.

    Also, he has gained a lot of joy from reading my old high school journals. He wanted to keep a few of them. And I let him. About once a week he opens one and reads it allowed. We laugh at how ridiculous I was in high school. And we bond as he gets to know the person I used to be.

    9. You learn a lot about yourself.

    I learned the most when decluttering the sentimental category. It’s as though I forgot who I was over the years. And decluttering helped to remind me that who I am today has ties to my past. My interests and passions can be traced back to my youth.

    Beyond the sentimental, I’ve learned about myself by uncovering my beliefs about stuff. My fears. My emotions. It has been an eye-opening and empowering journey.

    10. You don’t need to buy more things to be happy.

    I don’t feel as a strong an urge to fill my home with stuff.

    It’s easier for me to say no to things. My boyfriend has offered to buy me several home good items that I’ve had on my “want list” for a while. But each time I think about going out to buy something new, I reconsider and realize I don’t really need it.

    So I mostly say no. Unless it would feel joyful to have. This saves us money.

    My purchases are more powerful and thoughtful, and they have greater meaning.

    Finally…

    A major overhaul such as this one only comes every once in a while. Once you’re done you should be good for at least a few years. You should have discarded enough things that your home is tidier than ever. And you’ll mostly likely be far more thoughtful about what comes into your home, too.

    Yea, my home will get messy every once in a while. But it is easier to keep tidy. I have less stuff. And the stuff I do have has its spot.

    Decluttering is not only an overhaul of your belongings but it’s a personal overhaul. It’s an opportunity to re-evaluate your life and your values. It’s an opportunity to align your values with your actions.

    You can confront your habits and choose to change them. And then you can create new habits. Healthier habits. And in the process, you’ll discover that you’re happier for it, too.

    My hope is that you’ve learned about the decluttering process. Not only the physical task of how-to but also the unexpected twists and turns. And I hope you’re inspired to take stock of your life – your belongings, emotions, time, attention, and loved ones.

    How are you spending your precious time? You only get one life.

    Are you shopping every weekend to fill a void? Are you continually cleaning and keeping up with all your stuff? Are you too distracted by all the stuff to spend quality time with friends and family? Have you lost touch with life? With your passions? With what lights you up?

    Maybe now is the time to get out from underneath the stuff, come up for air, and align yourself with what brings you joy. Start a decluttering process today. And send me an email and tell me about how it’s going (writer@pauladjones.com).

  • Wealth
  • How to Declutter for a Simpler Life – Part Five: Sentimental Items

    declutter-sentimental-simple-living

    Alright, here it is. I have made it to the final category of the Marie Kondo method to declutter. It is as big, bold, and intimidating as you might think.

    It took me more than a month to get to this section of decluttering. As you’ll recall from previous posts, I moved fairly quickly through clothes, books, paper, and komono. I enjoyed the process but also needed to create space for myself along the way. I gave myself that space before jumping back in. And this week I was determined to give the last category a go.

    Getting Started

    I started with my apartment. The sentimental items I kept here were limited. I had already collected a small pile of papers (love notes, pictures, gifts, cards, etc.) that I had laying around in various spots. That pile had been sitting beside my desk for weeks, waiting for this day to come.

    I also had a laundry basket full of childhood photos as well as all my childhood artwork and schoolwork that my mother had dispensed a couple months ago. I spent a Sunday evening sifting through these photos and papers.

    I discarded duplicate photos easily. I reveled in the memories of each one while selecting only a few to save. I made a small pile of items to keep and a big pile of items to toss. I collected all my journals and piled them up, too. Not one went in the trash. These I’ll keep.

    “Alright,” I thought to myself. “One pile down. I’m well on my way to being finished!” And then I went to my mom’s house…

    I knew I had some stuff in her attic. Boxes of recent items that I had forgotten about since I moved out. And boxes of stuff from childhood and high school. I took each one down, one by one. All ten of them.

    In the back of my mind, these boxes always seemed less obtrusive than they turned out to be. They seemed like “just a few” boxes in the attic. But I was wrong.

    They contained the entirety of my history as a human in all ten boxes. From birth to high school graduation to my most recent ex-boyfriend. That’s over twenty-two years of stuff (not including the last five years).

    All that stuff had just been hanging out in my mom’s attic, taking up not only her physical space but also her psychological space. Not to mention the amount of psychological space it was taking up for me – unknowingly.

    I put all the boxes around the dining room table, pulled up a chair, and lifted the lid on the first one. I stared into the abyss that was my childhood. Photos. Photos. And more photos.

    Photos

    I knew I loved photography but I never realized I loved it this much. I think I was the only one of my siblings to take photos. If I could get my hands on a disposable camera, I did. And then when I got to high school, I got a non-disposable film camera. I purchased rolls of film and developed them like it was going out of style.

    My love for photography was evident. I had about ten full photo albums. On top of that, I had loose photos. Some still in their packages with the film strips. Others on CDs. I had photos in boxes inside my boxes. I had photos mounted as art. I had photos in all sizes. Photos. Photos. And more photos. 95% of these photos went into the trash.

    Between all the photos, I uncovered my baby blankets, stuffed animals, and Christmas ornaments that my mother had saved. I took out art supplies, forgotten housewares, and college notebooks and papers. And then I tackled my boxes within my boxes.

    Time Capsules

    Growing up, I remember watching movies where children would find tin boxes that held secret treasures. Treasures that unlocked secrets to the past. I developed an obsession for creating these boxes for myself. Time capsules.

    The first time capsule I created was in a wooden box I got when a great-grandparent passed away. It had a lid that lifted on brass hinges with the top to a toothpaste bottle glued to the lid so you could open it. Inside this box, I put a written time capsule. A note to my future self from my fourth-grade self with clear instructions to open on January 13, 2020 (my birthday).

    This note is super special. I have thought about it every year since I wrote it and have always looked forward to opening it. I think I know what it says. But I won’t know for sure until 2020.

    That was my first time capsule. I created four more time capsules for each year of high school. I didn’t have cool wooden boxes that could fit all my crap, so I used shoeboxes. Most of the stuff in the boxes had zero meaning for me today. Literally, just crap. Other things were sweet to find, like notes from friends, pictures of old beaus, and clippings from trips. 99.9% of everything in these boxes went into the trash.

    My photos and time capsules took the bulk of this decluttering session. The photo albums that I found as well as my journals were pushed to the side. I collected these items as well as several others to take back to my apartment. I needed to be at home, in my own space, away from my sister and mother (who sat with me while I decluttered) to complete these final steps.

    Marie Kondo suggests doing the decluttering alone with no music since it is a deeply personal journey. It’s distracting having music on or other people around. I can attest to this. I keep things I wouldn’t have otherwise kept. And I could feel my mother’s peering gaze encouraging me to keep certain things. That’s why I decided to take these final, more challenging pieces home with me. Everything else I tossed was pretty easy to discard. I knew it was time to part. And we did.

    Re-discovering My Self

    What I enjoyed most about this part of the decluttering process was re-discovering myself. I re-learned several things. For one, I loved time capsules. For a person who loved to capture history and lock it away, I’m surprised I forgot this. Another thing was that I loved photography, which I never realized I loved as much as I did, even though I’ve known it to be a hobby of mine.

    These learnings, on top of several others, made this part of the decluttering process worth the entire journey. I initially thought to declutter was a way to enact a newfound philosophy, but decluttering ultimately was a means of self-discovery. I can see how over the years I lost sight of who I was, where I’ve come from, and how I came to be the person I am today.

    I picked up negative beliefs and stories about myself and my past that were obliterated by this process. I’ve seen clearly the amount of love I was given as a child. And I can see all my positive (and negative) qualities in a way that supports who I am today more than I could have ever imagined.

    I can see my talents and natural abilities as they popped up even as a young child and into my teenage years. Which makes me appreciate who I am on a profound and deep level. I feel like I take myself more seriously now than I ever have.

    Decluttering my sentimental items has given me a perspective a new perspective on my life. And if you’ve been hesitant about the decluttering process, I hope that my experience encourages you to jump in with your heart wide open, ready to discover the blessing that is your life.

    More to Go

    I’m still not completely finished decluttering. There are a few more loose ends I need to tie up. I’ll do those in the next week or two and get back with you about the final steps in my decluttering journey. My next post will be my final post. I’ll include my take-aways and leanings from the journey, a recap of the experience, and how exactly I brought this sacred ritual to a close.

    Stay tuned for the next installment by signing-up on my email list. Until next time!

  • Wealth
  • How to Declutter for a Simpler Life – Part Four: Komono Cont

    declutter for simpler life part four

    Honoring Your Need for Space

    It has been several months now since I started this journey. My attention has waned in the last few weeks as I’ve given myself space from the decluttering process. But I’ve returned. The emotional turbulence of the project requires time to assimilate and attune to what’s taken place.

    I’m a big proponent of honoring our individual needs for space and time to heal and renew one’s self. And that’s what I’ve been doing. Yet I learned a lot in my last round of decluttering. In this post, I’m going to share with you the rest of my experience in decluttering my komono.

    If you didn’t read my last post, komono is the Japanese word for miscellaneous items. These are items like make-up, CDs/DVDs, knick-knacks, decorations, wires, pens, papers, etc. These items can add up quickly. And this category contains sub-categories, which can consist of a large portion of items.

    In that post, I discussed the mundane task of sorting paper as well as the emotional summersaults I experienced as I discarded – possibly sentimental – perfumes. Each round of decluttering shows me life’s stability and instability. The ups and the downs. The boring and the lively. This teaches me that objects take up space on all spectrums of our emotional Richter scale.

    With each object we own, we set aside a certain amount of emotional space in addition to psychological and mental space. Each object registers as an emotion from joy to anger to boredom. And, often, we thoughtlessly keep objects that register as fear, obligation, boredom, dissatisfaction, or even sadness. We fail to recognize that these objects no longer bring us joy. And we never stop to contemplate whether or not we have the power to part with what doesn’t spark joy for us. (P.S. We do have the power.)

    If I’m not happy with it, I don’t have to keep it.

    Recognition of Fears (Limiting Beliefs)

    During the komono category, I began to recognize certain fears getting in the way of my letting go. These are the same fears that prompted me to keep what I have in the first place. As I recognized this, I decided to step back and ask myself: what are common fears that come up in response to discarding items?

    Here’s what I came up with (please add your own):

    • I’m being wasteful
    • My family member’s or friend’s feelings will be hurt
    • What will they/he/she think of me
    • What if they/he/she gets mad
    • It’s irresponsible of me
    • It’s still in good condition
    • I might use it someday
    • I might like it again
    • It might come back in fashion
    • I’ve had it forever though
    • I use it… sometimes
    • It brought me joy… once
    • I’ll feel sad if I let it go
    • But others have so little
    • This is bad of me

    In other words…

    • Might, might, might (future-tripping)
    • What if, what if, what if (future-tripping again)
    • Fear of other people’s feelings and reactions
    • Self-criticisms
    • Fear of own emotions

    These are what’s called “limiting beliefs.” Limiting beliefs hold us back from making personal changes. They keep us from expanding into a new level of personal growth. We can’t reach the next step if we allow these thoughts to go unseen and unquestioned. In decluttering the remainder of my komono, I came up against limiting beliefs such as these.

    I can see now that I didn’t get joy from at least 75% of what I’ve kept. The only reason I’ve kept these things is because I thought, “What if I have to buy this again in the future? What if I don’t ever find one quite like this one? What if I like it more next month or year?” Or other thoughts like those above.

    I heard these thoughts bubble to the surface as I cleaned out my patio closet. And in particular, when I reached for the fire starting logs.

    The Unquestioned Fire Starting Logs

    Evan and I have a fireplace in our apartment – that we never use. And yet we’ve managed to get a bounty of fire starting logs. They come from family and neighbors who give them to us out of kindness and simply “thinking of us.”

    Most recently one of our neighbors moved. And she dutifully brought her logs to our front door. I smiled and said thanks, as though it were some kind of departure gift. A “farewell for now.” Or, “Take luck!”

    As I toted them to our patio closet, I reflected on how I haven’t started but one fire in that fireplace – and we’ve lived here three years. Now our living room furniture is arranged in a way that it would be unsafe to start a fire. And I don’t intend on re-arranging.

    I knew we didn’t need them from the moment I took them in my hands. As I walked to the patio closet, I looked down at the logs with a frown on my face. I felt like a sheepish child scooting away from a poor decision. And yet it didn’t cross my mind that I could throw them away. Instead, I stored them in an already overcrowded closet.

    It didn’t cross my mind because I bought into the limiting beliefs that said, “Maybe I’ll need them one day.” Well, those beliefs went in the trash. And so did those logs.

    The Decluttering Continues

    As far as my komono decluttering goes, I’ll be here for at least a few more days, if not weeks. I find myself unable to move forward to the final category: sentimental items. I’m just not there yet.

    I’ve given myself space from decluttering, since it’s a deeply emotional process at times. But now that I’m ready to move forward, I see areas in which I can still go back and declutter further. I see things I wasn’t wholly honest about. Items that can be discarded still.

    As I mentioned in the first post, decluttering can take up to but no more than six months (Marie Kondo insists). So I’m giving myself until the end of June to have this process completed. I think I’ll be finished before then, but that gives me time to comb through previous categories before moving on to the final – and hardest – category: sentimental items.

    Stay tuned for the next post to see if I’m able to move forward!