Well, it’s certainly spring. In fact, judging by my sunburn, it may even be summer. Anyway, you’ll probably be very surprised to learn that this weekend I have been…..spring cleaning!
Now, don’t be too shocked. I still managed to spend a good deal of time lazing in the garden with a book. (My preferred mode of housework avoidance.) But it is the particular book in question that’s responsible for my uncharacteristic domestic spree. And the book is (as you’ve probably guessed by the large book cover <<<…) Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston.
This book is an absolute gem. I love it because it delves into the psychology of clutter and how clutter affects us on all levels; mentally, emotionally, physically, even spiritually. Karen links these effects with the traditional feng shui tool – The Bagua, to illustrate precisely which area of your life that ‘harmless’ pile of magazines is infiltrating. This alone is quite a powerful motivator to get busy.
Yet, the book contains a good deal more advice beyond the influence of feng shui. In fact, it could be one of the most comprehensive self-help books I’ve ever come across. Karen covers the whole gamut of human issues; health, happiness, potential, relationships, spirituality, forgiveness, life priorities and body clutter. (The colon-cleansing section was particularly eye-opening and prompted a considerable spending spree at my favourite organic apothecary).
All this information makes for a really motivating read. I found that I couldn’t read more than a couple of pages at a time without feeling an urge to go and sort or tidy somewhere. Powerful stuff! This weekend has seen several bags of superfluous ‘stuff’ leave the premises and I’m becoming very popular over on freecycle.org. (One woman’s junk….)
I’ll be doing a full review soon (children willing…) but in the meantime, let me share with you some of my favourite nuggets from the book. I challenge you to read the following without being inspired to bust some clutter!
Each small area you clear releases energy for you to do more.
The speed at which the positive changes will appear in your life is relative to the gusto and decisiveness with which your clutter is cleared.
Most people carry some form of emotional baggage. It prematurely ages us and gets in the way of everything we want to do.
An ordered home means an ordered mind. Whatever your personal situation, it is important to get organised so that the mundane level of your life supports you.
In lab experiments, animals given control over their environment live longer, have higher antibody counts and less ulcers. Your choice.
It is safe to let go.
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Or Life Lessons From My Garden.
After a few weeks of admiring the fruitful bounty of my plum tree, I decided that today was harvest time. (Much to the dismay of the slugs who have been gorging themselves silly with the dropping fruit…).
So, armed with my biggest bowl, I began tentatively, ever-so-gently squeezing each fruit to identify the ripe ones. However, after the first flushes of homegrown pride and joy, I began to get a bit fed up. Especially since my beloved Victoria Plum has produced a bumper crop this year. This was going to take a while.
So, I added a little haste to the proceedings. Big mistake. One particularly over-eager grab resulted in completely squashing the fruit. Which would have been bad enough, but this particular plum had also been the home to a not-so-friendly wasp. And judging by the look on his face, he was even less pleased than me to find himself on the end of my finger. Luckily my Dance of Horror & Disgust (complete with shrieking) managed to dispatch said wasp without any stinging rebukes.
Then – as so often happens during monotonous tasks in the garden – inspiration struck.
During my many musings over this housework malarkey, I’ve frequently come to the following conclusion:
being in good physical condition makes the whole business much less of an issue.
For one thing, it takes considerable energy to keep a home. When you’re tired and exhausted, mustering up the energy to scale the Laundry Mountain might be a chore too far.
As well as affecting your everyday energy levels, health – or rather lack of it - can be very time-consuming. If you have to take to your bed for an hour/day/week, something else will have to give. And if your schedule is already pretty tight, there will be even less time than usual for domestic demands. (I know from experience that in times of illness – ironically, when you most need a healthful environment – housework can be one of the first things to slip.) So in a sense, being healthy, ie dodging the ‘inevitable’ common ailments, can also bring the gift of time. Prevention is not only more pleasant, it’s more efficient, too.
But wait, there’s more!
“You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone.”
~ Joni Mitchell
Warning: This post may seem a little over-emotional. Unless you have ever loved and lost a pet.
My cat, Mojo, died this week.
My quirky, handsome, wonky-eared, wild-whiskered, crazy and curious little tiger has gone, leaving a huge, cat-shaped hole in our family.
We’re all utterly heartbroken but it was time for him to go. We had to make the reluctant, painful decision that the kindest thing we could do for him was put him to sleep. How my brave-hearted husband found the strength to take Mojo on his final journey to the vet’s, I will never know.
The children were distraught – they have only ever known life with Mojo in it. But with their healthy take on the whole mortality business, they are slowly turning their attention towards the prospect of new kittens. Their bereft parents, however, are still recovering. We had Mojo in our lives long before the children arrived, almost as long as we’ve had each other. It feels strange and wrong to not have him around, taking his rightful seat at family mealtimes or shadowing us up and down the garden path.
Amid the many fond memories, though, I feel bad about the days when the upkeep and maintenance of my human family felt like too much, and I’d grumble about the extra mess and work that comes with caring for an elderly cat. Now we are catless, and smelly puddles and extra laundry are no longer a feature on my never-ending list of chores. Yet I wish with all my broken heart that they were.
Kind of puts things into perspective.
Goodbye and God bless, beautiful Mojo. An unforgettable, irreplaceable friend.
• • •
As an eternal Life Troubleshooter, I am on a constant mission to improve things. So I like to learn from people who have mastered whatever I am trying to achieve. I regularly consult experts in subjects ranging from health, business, relationships and, of course, the state of my home. I’ve noticed that there is one common idea in many of these varied realms which seems to make total sense. It goes like this:
If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got.
It seems obvious – if you want things to change, then things will have to, well…change
. This is the difficult bit, and understandably so – there are reasons why we do things the way we do. I’m currently reading the fascinating Quiet
(by Susan Cain) and it is just bursting with revelations about why I operate the way I do. (It appears I am something of an introvert. My family are not exactly shocked…) I find it enormously comforting to learn the causes behind my seemingly random or inexplicable actions. I was moved to tears when I discovered my Myers-Briggs profile. (INFJ, in case you’re wondering.) These eye-opening explanations can be really helpful in making sense of who we are.
But knowing why we do things our way doesn’t automatically change things. For that, we need to: do things differently. As Einstein famously quipped,
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing
over and over again and expecting different results.”
Now I can totally understand if you have been driven to insanity by Housewoek Overload (I have also visited that particular brink), but it’s probably not your ideal destination. So, in the hope of reaching a happier, healthier, more harmonious state, it may be time to shake things up a bit. Embrace the prospect of doing it differently. If the old way ain’t working, try a new way. Change what you normally do. If your current habits and responses aren’t taking you where you want to be, it’s time to reroute.
Ah, success. That elusive, mysterious magic that blesses the lucky ones. It’s what we’re all after, in one way or another.
I love success. I’m sure everyone does, I can’t imagine anyone would ever prefer failure – but I what I mean is, I love the topic of success; what works, what doesn’t, and why some things work for some but not others. Much of my writing so far has been devoted to discovering the path to success in the domestic realm (for those of us who were not born with that knowledge).
But regardless of the specific topic, success seems to follow a pattern, and it’s a pattern of…. mess and failure.
You may have seen the little cartoon that shows success as an arrow, going from A to B, with a tangled mess of chaos in the middle. This is a pretty accurate reflection of my successes and it seems to be the norm. I recently heard a successful businesswoman explaining that any successful enterprise is an ongoing project involving much failure/feedback. It doesn’t head straight for success in a linear fashion, and then stop. It’s a continual process, a never-ending cycle of: action – review – course correct. And along the way there is a lot (a lot!) of trial and error.
So how does this translate to the home?
In the domestic battle, three formidable forces are health, energy and inner calm. With these on your side, you are well-placed to conquer those housework demons and make peace with the demands of your home.
So, in my bid to cultivate these allies, I regularly join forces with the beautiful Maya Fiennes via her suite of yoga DVDs. I highly recommend enlisting Maya and her troop of fun, relaxing yet subtely powerful workouts – which have improved the state of body and soul, as well as the state of my home.
If this sounds like your kind of solution – here’s my review of Maya’s Journey Through The Chakras series.
Enjoy & Namaste!
Maya Fiennes – A Journey Though The Chakras (DVD sets)
A Journey Through The Chakras is a set of 7 DVDs in which Maya Fiennes focuses on the body’s main chakras using her signature Kundalini yoga practice (This series has also been featured on Body in Balance TV)
In these DVDs, Maya briefly explains the characteristics of each chakra, for example, how we behave when the chakra is open and the disadvantages of it being blocked. The yoga sessions that follow are designed to target (ie, strengthen/open) each particular chakra. All the sessions follow the same format, beginning with a 15 minute warm-up followed by approx 15 mins of kriyas (yoga poses/techniques) and a 15(ish) minutes of meditation.
Why I love them
I have tried all sorts of exercise regimes. I’ve gone to aerobics classes (never again). I’ve been a gym member (so not me). I’ve done Body Combat (too aggressive). And I’ve tried the stairs workout (effective but soon got fed up of running up and down my stairs). None have lasted for more than a few months. I’ve cycled, run, walked, jogged, swum etc but nothing inspired me to do it again on a regular basis. And given that I’m the least competitive person you will ever meet, team sports are a non-starter. I have also dabbled with yoga over the last 10 years but even that has been a sporadic and half-hearted interest.
And then I found Maya.