Monday, June 30, 2008
My house used to look like yours. Through my Little Moments of Peace practice, I figured out the baby steps I needed to transform my house hell into home heaven. Here's the first step: 1) Choose the one room you spend the most time in. (I know there are many you inhabit daily but you must choose one and only one. This room could be your bedroom where you can sneak away from the rest of the mess to refresh and renew yourself. Or it could be the great room where your whole family congregates.) Once you've chosen the room to declutter, gather 6 boxes or bags and a sharpie™. Label the containers with action verbs as follows: Toss; Recycle; Donate; Sort; Move; Treasure. Now choose just one drawer or shelf or corner. Do not allow yourself to ponder the clutter in any other area of the room. Dump or move the contents into the middle of the space. Every item must be moved out from the mess to another clear space. Dust/wash the once cluttered space. Sit next to the "junk" pile and pick up every single item. Ask yourself: Do I love this item? Is it beautiful and worthy of display? Is it a treasured memento or keepsake that can be labeled and packed away in storage? Is it broken? Should I repair it or not? Have I used it in the last three months? Could someone else use and appreciate it? Is it a piece of paper I can sort later or might I recycle it now? Decide which box/bag the item belongs in and drop it in NOW. If you have to think for more than a few seconds, put the item in the "keep" bag for the time being. You can deal with that box later. Make sure you keep moving and that your energy doesn't thud from indecisiveness. Once all items are sorted through, 1) take the "toss" bag and empty it in the garbage can 2) take the "recycle" bag and empty it in the recycling can 3) put the "donate" bag in your car or a corner of your garage (to be removed later) 4) put the "sort" bag in a closet or a corner of a room where you can later quietly deal withone bag at a time 5) pick up the "move" bag and redeposit each item where it belongs in your house (if you can't easily find a place for each item, consider putting it in one of the bags that's leaving your home.) 6) carefully wrap and box all treasures, place them in a cardboard box or plastic container, label the outside with the word "Treasure," your name, and today's date. If it's full, tape it up and place it in your basement or attic or upper shelf of the hall closet. If there's still room left, continue to add treasures you discover as you purge. Look at the one small space you cleared! It is clean, dust-free, and ready to accept items that truly belong there. Or not! You decide if the space should remain clear or can be put to functional use. You will begin feeling a welling up of energy and will want to keep going. Choose the next logical drawer, corner, shelf and repeat the action steps. Only work while you have energy. You might want to limit this to one hour a day. But by all means keep going while you feel the fire! I look forward to hearing about your process. Feel free to ask me questions as you proceed.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
... and I'm going to be happy in it. —Groucho Marx In each bedroom of our home, my family awakened today. Our feet touched the floor and we set out on an unknown road. Some days, my tracks are first on the path. Other days, my children lead. Every step takes us to a place with a new view. Happiness and love or sadness and fear? The power of choice is ours. I choose a happy day. Sprouting in September: THE HAPPINESS TREE: Celebrating the gifts of trees we treasure http://us.macmillan.com/thehappinesstree
Thursday, June 12, 2008
My children show me a true picture of myself. Knowing this helps me become more conscious of my words and actions. When I see a reflection that displeases me, I try not to feel guilty that I have set less than a perfect example. I use the information I have learned from them to improve myself. By talking to even the youngest children about my process, I teach them how to deal with a life they will lead as imperfect people. They will make mistakes. They will fail at times. They will hurt other people's feelings. It is my job to teach them how to repair and forgive, how to accept weaknesses as well as strengths, and how to love themselves as much as I love them. What do you see in the faces of your children?
Monday, June 09, 2008
... when awake, a whole mat when asleep. —Old Japanese saying I contemplate the simplicity in this wise and humble teaching and decide to spend more time on the floor. Though I don't sit on a tatami mat to eat or visit with friends, I imagine how content one can feel occupying just a small space. We are all the same in our desire for a full belly and time to linger with those we enjoy. An hour on the floor with my family gives new meaning to the phrase "down to earth."
How I have come to love the lock on my bathroom door. I sneak inside and pray that no one under ten saw me slip in or heard the surreptitious click. I am grateful that quiet privacy is assured for a few sacred moments, that I am protected here in this snug, little room from two sets of curious, prying eyes. I sit down on the toilet, glad to be off my feet for only the second time today, and truly appreciate that I haven’t fallen in. I am alone. This is heaven. It is tranquil in here. A fine layer of condensation clouds the view out the window so I rub an oval patch dry and peek through at a bird winging by. She is alone, too. And free. Sometimes I mourn the loss of my freedom. Recently I was thumbing through my pre-motherhood scrapbook and found a cartoon of a man holding a set of jail window bars in his hands and pushing with all his might against the metal with one raised foot. His face is anguished and I imagine his agonized grunts as he tries to escape. But there are no walls surrounding him. He is in a prison of his own making and simply needs to drop the bars and walk away, free. The door knob begins to rattle furiously. Time is up. I look at the clouds in the sky one more time, then flush and open the door. My children are waiting, glad I'm back. And so am I. I choose to surrender to the next moment as Mom, knowing that soon enough I'll find another little moment of peace.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
A flurry of agitated activity marks my departure from home. The phone rings as I pull the door shut and I jump back inside, jarred by its urgent shrill. I answer with a clipped tone of voice. Instead of telling my friend I will call her back later, I talk for several minutes, am now late for my appointment, and after hanging up, groan internally, Why did I pick up the phone? I rush out the door. My pace is hectic and driven. My face wears a look of consternation. I am unpleasant. I drive too fast. I feel impatient with the slow strollers in the cross walk and stressed by stop signs and the wink of red brake lights. I don’t notice the scenery of my drive, just the confounding obstacles. When I arrive at my destination, I can't recall the streets I drove to get there. Today I decide I must transform “leaving home” into a more peaceful set of thoughts and actions. I will change the way I think about my availability by telephone. I will stop hearing the ring of the phone as urgent, knowing that it is a privilege for—not a right of—the caller to reach me. I will allow voice mail to answer and return calls when I am able to give mindful attention to the caller. I listen to the way I express it is time to leave: I have to go. The message this sends to myself and others is: I am at the mercy of time, of someone else’s schedule. I change this to I am going now, an assertion that I want to go, I am ready to go. I do not need to ask permission or make excuses. I am going now. I feel the power, the pleasure, the I AM in that affirmation.