How to Design Intentionally when You Don’t Have Control over Your Home

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that I am a big advocate for decorating your home and removing excess clutter from your life. But, what can you do if you don’t have full control over your home? What if you are living with your parents? What if you are renting a room in someone’s home? Or what if you share your home with a messy partner who refuses to be organized?

There are two things that are important to keep in mind in this situation. First, you always have some control over a bit of space, even if it is just your bed or a space in the closet. Secondly, it is important to be respectful with those you live. You can express your needs to others but also be mindful to not try and force another person to change. When we cannot accept others, I guarantee that it also means that you are not fully willing to accept yourself.

So, let’s first look at what you can control. I want you to take a moment to think about what is within your control and what areas in the home those you live with might be willing to let you take over in the organization and decoration department. For the areas over which you absolutely have control, what kind of state are these areas in? Do you have dried toothpaste stuck to the inside of your drawer in the bathroom? Is your closet or dresser stuffed with clothes that you no longer like or that no longer fit? Clean up these spaces. Make them work for you and be aligned with who you are today, not who you were ten years ago. This is about taking personal responsibility. Your life does not have to be on hold just because the circumstances of your life are not exactly where you want them to be.

Now, consider what spaces you can update over which you have full control. Maybe it is time to take down an old poster and put up a framed photo of a place or person you love. Maybe it is time to give yourself a nightstand rather than continuing on with a pile of stuff by your bed. Again, remember to live for now, not for some perfect day in the future when you can afford an exquisite piece of furniture. If you need to purchase something off of Craig’s List and spray paint it your favorite color then do that. Own your space and take care of yourself today. You are always deserving of your care and attention.

As you think about other common spaces within your home, consider if there are other areas in which you could make your mark. Perhaps other people in your home might even be grateful if someone took charge of organizing pots and pans, the pile of shoes by the front door, or the towering pile of DVDs in the living room. It may not sound so glamorous but this is part of taking responsibility for the state of your home and life. Ask before you take charge and be mindful of your tone. Let others know that this is what you would like to do for yourself and the benefit of the community, not because you are trying to control others or passively act out your aggression.

When it comes to actual decorations, you may or may not have much control. Perhaps you live with someone who couldn’t care less how the house is decorated and is fine with you stylistically changing things up. But perhaps you are living with someone who is intent on keeping their 1980’s decorations intact. Or perhaps you are living with someone who feels threatened by you changing things in the common areas. Working with these situations is a fine line and can also depend greatly on your living situation. If you are renting a room in someone’s home, that situation can look very different from sharing a home with your significant other. You always have a right to respectfully let someone know what you would like to do but it will take some discernment to decide whether or not to press an issue and when to let go.

Something that I would like to encourage you to keep in mind is if the person you are living with is being difficult about you changing the space, while they may undoubtedly be difficult, they are also being difficult because they are having an emotional struggle on some level. If this is your significant other, it could be appropriate to ask them what concerns them about changing the space. If it is your landlord, the conversation may or may not be appropriate.

Regardless of how far you are able to make progress on changing the common areas within your home, I encourage you to remain committed to updating what you can. And for the areas that you cannot change but wish you could, I encourage you to make peace with the situation. Not everything in our life is within our control and yet we can still have peace and joy in life. A messy common area does not have to define you and it does not have to be what steals your peace. The more that you take ownership for what you can control the more you will find joy with your space and subsequently joy in your life.

Have heart. Life is always a work in progress and we do the best that we can.

Why You Should Redecorate Your Home during a Life Transition

Unless you regularly take time to take stock of your life and your habits, chances are many of your day-to-day actions are on autopilot. But new transitions in life almost always require us to update our thinking. The trouble is, we rarely realize this necessity and then wonder why things are working less than optimally.

Take for instance entering into a long-term relationship. I am reading a fantastic book right now called What No One Tells the Bride by Marge Stark. It is revolutionary to have someone say that although I may be in a fantastic relationship (which I am); it is perfectly normally to miss your old life, to squabble over basic things like how to load the dishwasher, and to struggle with forming new patterns of communication. Entering into a new phase of life requires new thinking and sometimes an updated set of beliefs. For instance, maybe it doesn’t matter if the dishwasher is loaded just right.

Taking the time to update your home is a perfect process for taking stock of what in your life needs to change and how. When we take the time to change our home, we give ourselves permission to change our beliefs and actions too. Think of it as a refresh. Every aspect of our life needs a refresh from time to time.

As you look around your home and identify what no longer serves you, you will – even if subconsciously – begin to do the same with your beliefs and actions. It is easy to get stuck in a particular way of being, perhaps even a way of being that may have worked well for you in the past. We are creatures of habit by nature after all and most people are uncomfortable with the possibility of being “wrong.” But if we can give ourselves the chance to make changes, we can breathe fresh air and new possibilities into our life. Think of how great your relationship with your partner could be if you didn’t waste energy squabbling over how the dishwasher ought to be loaded?

So, how can you start the process of updating your home? First, I recommend clearing away the clutter. Clutter keeps our minds cloudy and unable to think clearly. Clutter is distracting and keeps us attached to the past whether we mean to or not. And then secondly, clean. Do a really good, thorough cleaning of your home. As you clean your home, you are telling yourself that you are worthy of your care and attention. Cleaning is cathartic and energetically updates the energy in your home.

Now, it is time to take stock of what is around you. If you can identify any energy sucks in your home; the items that bring on any negative feelings when you look at them like guilt, disdain, or maybe even anger, let them go now! No matter how beautiful or expensive something might be, if it brings your energy down, then it will never be valuable enough to keep in your home. While others in your life may have an opinion about what to keep or toss, only you can know whether or not an item is adding value to your life. So, trust yourself first and foremost on this one.

And now, finally, it is time to decide what to add into your home or what to update. While you may have loved your green and purple bed set in college, if it doesn’t feel like you any more, then maybe it is time to update it. Maybe you can envision a better layout of your living room furniture. Then let the rearranging begin! Maybe you have always wanted to start an herb garden. Then breakout the soil and seeds!

If you can afford to update an entire room and you want to, then go for it. But if you can only afford to make more minor changes, then I still recommend you do that. Do be fiscally responsible (or else you will have a whole other set of problems) but do take the time to add some new energy to your home; to make your new intentions known to yourself and to others who might stop by for a visit.

Updating our home provides us with new energy, a new sense of empowerment, increased motivation, and a clearer sense of who we are, what we are doing, and why. The more that we can consciously enter a new life phase, the more likely we are to enjoy it. So here is to life transitions and making the most out of them!

How to Attract More Opportunities into Your Life through Interior Design

Because our physical spaces always reflect what is going on internally, you can design your home to attract new opportunities into your life. The best place to focus on in your home is your front door. Think about. Your front door is how you arrive home. It is the portal through which you bring in the new and send out the old. It is the place where friends and strangers knock; asking for permission to enter your life. This is why I recommend paying attention to your front door if you are looking to attract new opportunities into your life.

Think about what kind of message your front door is currently saying about your life. You can also consider any side doors from which you might enter your home on a regular basis. Is the entry way clean? Is the path clear from clutter, dead plants, out of season door wreaths, etc.? Is there good lighting by your door? Is the door damaged and does it open and close easily? Is your front door easy to find? Are there house numbers nearby?

Whatever the state of your front door may be, I bet you can find a parallel to your own life. If your door is hard to find or open, perhaps you are having difficulty finding new opportunities or getting people to pay attention to you. If the path to your front door is cluttered or filled with old, neglected items, do you feel unclear about what you want to attract into your life? Parallels between the state of your home and the state of your life are often strikingly strong. This is because whatever level of consciousness we are operating at will be fulfilled in both our physical space and the state of our life. So, let’s take a look at what we can do to update our level of consciousness.

Here are some of the best things you can do to your home to start attracting new opportunities into your life.

Clean Your Front Door and the Space Around It

Cleaning is always the best place to start. Wash your door, sweep your walk way, and mop or vacuum the floor in your entry way. Cleaning shows the world that you are serious about being taken seriously.

Remove Clutter

If you have any clutter or neglected items by your front door or in your entry way, it’s time to toss the mess. Clutter keeps energy stagnant and keeps you holding onto the past. If you want new opportunities to enter your life then you need to make the space for them to enter.

Improve Light and Labeling

If it is at all within your control, make sure the lighting by your front door is in working order and that your home is easy to find. Making sure your home is clear and visible is also how you can improve the chance for new opportunities to find you.

Add a Welcoming Atmosphere

Finally, consider and then implement a few things you can do to make your front door appear more welcoming. Perhaps you can add a fern or a pot of flowers by your front door. Maybe you could paint the door, hang a wind chime, or add a small bench to the area. Whatever you can do to make this space appear more welcoming will help new opportunities be attracted to you.

The reason why these improvements work is because while you are improving your home, you are improving your mindset too. You are improving your mindset in several ways. First, you are taking yourself more seriously and being more self-loving. We are much less likely to be mere spectators in our lives when we are taking loving actions of self-care on a regular basis. Second, you are building awareness around whether or not your actions are helping or hurting you. As you improve the visibility of your home, you are also encouraging yourself to think honestly about what you are or are not doing to make yourself noticed in the world. Third, you are helping yourself gain clarity on what exactly it is that you want to attract into your life. Sometimes sheer inertia keeps us confused about what we actually want. By shaking up your routine, you are reenergizing yourself and allowing new clarity to come into your life. And fourth, you are giving yourself the needed energy to reignite your sense of motivation. By taking action to improve your front door, you are much more likely to start taking other positive steps in your life. Like begets like. Once you start moving, it will be much easier to keep the momentum going.

You’re on your way!

What You Must Do Before Designing Your Home

As a person who can spend hours at a time thinking about, looking at, and creating interior designs, I understand well that there is a whole world out there filled with endless design possibilities. And so much of what I see, I love! Perhaps like me you might find yourself daydreaming about a modern, blue couch, and then trolling around on-line for a Kilim rug, and then pondering if it’s time to go more minimalistic or overstuffed-romantic in your home. You too might be attracted to a variety of design styles.

But the thing is, as much as we may love a variety of styles, there are only a few styles that will be an ideal, energetic match for who we are today and where we want to go. This internal set point changes of course throughout our lives but if we want our homes to help us evolve, it’s important to pay attention. To do this, let’s see where we can start.

First, I want you to get comfortable and close your eyes. We’re going to do a little visualization exercise because when we let go of expectations and allow our minds to relax, a whole lot of interesting and useful information can rise to the surface.

As you take a deep breath with your eyes closed, let your body and mind let go of the day. Allow yourself to have a break and relax in this moment. Take another deep inhale and exhale and then imagine yourself walking through a door and into a room that puts you at ease. What is it about this room that makes you feel good? What colors and textures do you notice around you? Is there furniture? If so, what kind of style is the furniture? Are there any sounds or smells that you notice? Allow yourself to spend a few more moments just soaking up the feeling of this room. Let that feeling work its way into your body and take a few more deep inhales and exhales as you luxuriate in this feeling. Do this short exercise before you read any further.

Now, with your eyes open, turn to a computer screen or piece of paper and write down a few adjectives that describe how you felt in this room. And once you have done that, if there are any style specifics about the room that you remember, write that down too. Maybe the room had a lot of natural light, smelled like vanilla, was all white or a deep shade of crimson, maybe a certain kind of music was playing, or maybe this room was dedicated to a certain kind of activity.

As you read over these descriptions about how you felt and what you noticed, you should know that these qualities are actually the kinds of qualities that speak to your internal point of equilibrium. Everyone’s set point, in terms of what puts them at ease is different but the qualities you uncovered are what are specific to you. You might have even visualized yourself at a rock concert or sitting by yourself in a quiet place in nature. What you visualized is your mind’s creative way of telling you a bit about yourself.

Because the design of our home is a great way to help us along the path of finding peace, clarity, and joy in our lives, this is why we need to know how we want to feel. If we are not at ease in our environment, we are much less likely to find the permission to be ourselves and make decisions that are in alignment with who we really are. We may be inspired by photos of dramatic black and white rooms but if we change our decor to all black and white and don’t feel comfortable in our space, then we have done ourselves a disservice. Like me, there are probably a multitude of styles that you enjoy looking at. But, even more likely, there is a smaller range of styles that actually sink up well with you on an energetic level.

To learn how to take this information to uncover your design style and start transforming your life, download my free e-book, Designing by Intuition. After reading the book and doing the exercises, you should have a clear sense of your style and a plan to begin making changes to your home and subsequently your life.

How to Use Your Home to Amp Up Life Clarity

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably spent some years of your life lacking life clarity. You might have asked yourself: “What is my purpose?” “What should I do?” “Am I wasting my time?” These may be familiar questions that have rolled through your mind on repeat. While unfortunately I cannot tell you what you should do with your life (head’s up: no one can and there is no such thing as “shoulds”) I can help you with the process of making space for your own inner clarity to rise to the surface.

Within you, there is always the answer on what would be the best next step for your highest good. It may not be the answer we want that delivers the 30 year, life picture in high definition color but there is always some best next step. If you were really willing to listen and follow through on what your inner voice has to say, the answer might be something like: “Please, turn off the T.V. and just go take a nap,” or “It’s time to end this relationship,” or “Don’t give up on yourself too fast. Apply for this job,” or “Just take today one step at a time.”

It can be frustrating to only hear snippets of information. We resist this information because although our wiser self knows that it is true, our egos want certainty, clarity; some kind of guarantee for our happiness and success. I’m sorry, but that’s the way our higher selves work and still we must listen and develop self-compassion if we hope to find genuine happiness.

Now, developing this process on just the mental level can be quite taxing. I know; I’ve consumed so many spiritual books and have meditated and journaled for hours to only varying, temporary degrees of success. But, to make progress, the work does not have to be just internal. We can tend to our external world too, which reflects back to the Self messages of “I love you,” “I am caring for you,” “I am providing you with peace, joy, and clarity.” Because the state of our internal and external world is such a strong, reflective, two-way street, we can tend to either one and experience benefits for both.

So, let’s look at some specific steps we can take to amp up the clarity in our lives.

Clean your Home

You thought I was going to start by saying clearing clutter, did you? Well, that’s step two but step one is to clean. And cleaning is even more important that clearing clutter because one, we tend to have less resistance to cleaning than getting rid of things, and two, because a clean home is the number one way to send the message to ourselves that “We are worthy of being tended to.” Living in a mess is chaotic and depressing. It zaps our clarity and sends a strong message to the Self of unworthiness. Even if you are struggling with depression or low self-confidence, clean your home, or even a part of your home, and the message of self-love will be registered internally. It’s true.

Clear Some, A Little Bit, Any Clutter

Now I’m definitely not insisting here that you need to manage all of the clutter and unused or unnecessary items in your life. You don’t need to aim for outer perfection because you don’t need to aim for inner perfection. Aiming for perfection is not congruent with self-love. You just need to aim to sometimes be kinder to yourself. This is a doable place to start just as is sorting through the mail pile or throwing out your socks with holes in them or donating the clothes your kids have outgrown.

Each time you take a small step to clear some of the clutter in your life, you will experience a dose of relief, an internal sense of some more freedom and clarity gained, and a jolt of joy. Imagine walking past the counter that no longer has a pile of unsorted mail. Relief! Imagine opening up your sock drawer that only contains socks you know you can put on for the day. Freedom! Imagine no longer having to push through piles of unused clothing in an overflowing closet to get what you actually need. Relief, freedom, clarity, and joy!

Small steps really make a difference and are an excellent way to cultivate self-compassion because the Universe cares for you and now you know that you care for yourself too.

Identify the Energy Sucks and Let Them Go

Every object in our life has the potential to uplift us or drain us. While of course many objects may be neutral, some can have a particularly strong pull. What do you think about the art hanging on your walls? Is there a picture that you once bought with an ex before the relationship came to a painful end? It may be a beautiful picture but it may be time to let it go if every time you look at it you feel bitterness or loss. Only you can know but remember: your feelings don’t lie and your feelings are the perfect barometer for discerning whether or not you have an item that is an energy suck in your home.

Letting go of the energy suck items in your home allows your mind to have more clarity and neutrality in your own home. Less than pleasant emotions are not a reflection of who we really are. The truth of who we are is love, joy, and beauty. So, I implore you to ditch the items that bring you down because they will only keep you focused on an idea that does not reflect the truth of who you are. And if getting rid of an item is too much right now, it’s okay to put it in a box or stash it in a friend’s garage. This is still a self-compassionate step and a way to regain some of your clarity.

Add Some Inspiration to Your Home

What is inspiration? Inspiration can be anything that fills you with a jolt of excitement, makes you feel motivated, or fills you with a sense of peace. For some, inspiration in their home might come in the form of a beloved and frequently used tea pot. It might be a gym bag, ready to go, by your front door. It might be a photo of someone who inspires you or a quote on your computer monitor that helps you feel grounded.

You don’t need to worry about how specifically the inspirational items in your home are going to bring you more life clarity. What you need to know is that anything that feels inspirational to you is a reflection of the truth within you. The joy you feel in the immediate moment will continue to resonate within. It serves as an energetic homing device; helping you stay focused on what is real and bypassing what isn’t. Even if you are struggling to have coherent thoughts about what to do with your life, trust that your feelings are there to serve you; they are there to help you find your way if you know how to use them. And now, you do!

In summary, following these steps are excellent ways to start building internal clarity. You don’t need to sit in front of a blank computer screen and start generating a list of what you should do with your life. Besides, even if you do, you will likely doubt these ideas and remain in a state of homeostasis. Cultivating the ability to turn within and hear from yourself what is the best next step to take in life that will serve your highest good can take some time. But the more that you can take concrete steps to cultivate this clarity through a self-compassionate process, the more likely you are to start experiencing some results. So, pick up your broom and a bottle of cleaner, and have a little patience.

What Your Home Can Tell You about Yourself

As I’ve said before, your home is the perfect reflection of where you are at in life. Don’t believe me? Take a look around! Take a moment and look around your home? Without judging yourself, what are some adjectives you would use to describe the state of your home? Go ahead and write down these adjectives, they will be useful in a minute. See if you can write a list of five to seven adjectives.

Now, it’s okay if some feelings come up for you. If your feelings are negative, just know that the feelings are there to help you understand what is going on; they do not reflect the truth of who you are. The truth of who you are is never negative and that’s a fact.

As you looked around your home, you might have noted your home is clutter, unorganized, half finished, dusty, or in transition. Or maybe you noticed that your home seems serene, lively, orderly, a perfect reflection of you, or maybe beautiful but not really you. There is no good or bad way for it to be. It just is what it is right now and a perfect tool, just like your emotions, to tell you how to move forward in your life in a way that serves your highest good.

Now, take another look at your list and see if some of the adjectives are a reflection of where you are currently at in your life. If one of your adjectives was “in transition” do you notice that you also feel that way yourself? Do you see the words “un-loved,” “dumping ground,” “chaotic,” “dull,” or “overly stimulated?” None of these words are bad news. In fact, they are great news because they can help you objectively see what is happening and whether or not you are actually okay with what is going on.

Maybe you do come up with the word “in transition,” but you know that that is exactly where you are at and feeling good about the work you are doing to move through the transition. Or maybe you have the word “in-transition” but know that you have done nothing to move your life forward since losing your job or relationship six months ago. Then, this is a great opportunity to use your home to help you transition even if you are not exactly sure how to change the emotional state or specifics of your life. Your home really can be that tool to help you start making some positive shifts.

Maybe one of the words on your list was “dull.” Only you can know whether or not this is helping or hurting you and the way that you know is by the reaction or feeling you get when looking at the word. Perhaps to you dull is a relief after having lived too chaotically for too long. Maybe you instinctively feel that you need this subdued time in your life to restore some inner balance. But maybe you have battling depression for a long time and you instinctively know that a dull environment is only adding to the weight you feel in your life. It’s okay if you don’t have the vision or motivation right now to overhaul your life. But you can make some adjustments to ease the dullness in your home, which will absolutely have some positive ramifications on the way you feel.

As a final example, perhaps one of your words is something like “stifled.” You might have a beautiful, curated home and yet still the word you chose was “stifled.” Why do you think that might be? Your feelings don’t lie; they are always on point but sometimes we have to dig a little under the surface to understand them. So, what might stifled mean when living in such a beautiful home? Here is where you can get curious and ask yourself some questions like: “Does my home feel like a reflection of me?” or “Do I feel safe or welcome here?”

If your answers are no to these questions, you can be sure that this is also how you feel about your own life. Perhaps these “no” answers mean that you are not really living your life in a way that is a good fit for who you really are. This realization doesn’t mean that you have to overhaul your life in one fell swoop. You may not have the clarity for that at this moment and it may not even be practically possible. But, there is always something you can do to begin making positive shifts towards more enjoyment in your life. Changing your life for the better is always a process that slowly brings about more clarity. And changing your environment is a great way to move you along this process and experience some tangible and some times more immediate moments of satisfaction.

As you see the parallels between the state of your home and the state of your life, go ahead and write down more specifically what you notice taking place in your life. In a future post, I will show you how to take this awareness and turn it into some fun, concrete steps you can take to start moving your life forward for the better. Hang in there; your home and your life are always a beautiful work in progress.


How to Choose the "Right" Colors when Decorating

Today I came across a fun, on-line post about decorating with color and the effect it can have on our psyche. Loving anything about decorating, Feng Shui, or personal awareness, I clicked on it in mild amusement.

As I have read many times before, the post talked about what colors to use in certain rooms and why. However, this time, I came across recommendations that I haven’t read before. The post recommended green in the bedroom, rather than the typical red, and to use yellow in the living room rather than the home office. I’ve read before that red can increase feelings of romance, thus possibly making it a good bedroom color, and that yellow is mentally stimulating thus making it a good office color.

But here’s the thing, you’ve probably also read something different than the article I read today or the advice from other sources I have read in the past. It is true that color can affect our mood and that keeping color in mind can be a good idea when updating your home or moving into a new office.

But, this advice is never one size fits all. For instance, blue is a calming color for most and is generally not recommended to use in a work environment. This is because it is thought that a more stimulating color is better for alertness, mental concentration, and creativity. But, perhaps you have a high stress job or work in a soul sucking, contentious atmosphere. Perhaps then blue is exactly what you need to make it through the day.

Or perhaps, for you, blue is actually an invigorating color. Maybe it makes you feel rejuvenated like a day spent by the ocean does. No one really knows but you. And that is the single most important factor when it comes to decorating with color: know yourself!

It may be tempting, especially if you are not into decorating or consider yourself a person who does not have a strong sense of style, to follow someone else’s advice. But strictly following someone else’s advice will lead you to living a life that is not in sync with you. You won’t end up with your desired feeling at the end of the day because you haven’t listened to and acted upon your personal preferences.

It can be overwhelming to figure out where to start but remember, it isn’t necessary to aim for perfection right out of the gate. You just need to start with one or two things that you know to be true for you.

To figure that out, I encourage you to take a moment to be still. Get comfortable, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. Now, let your mind wander to a place that feels really good to you. Maybe it’s a place that makes you feel alive and inspired. Maybe it’s a place that makes you feel expansive and tranquil. Maybe it’s a place that feels soothing and grounded. Let your mind take you to a place that feels good to you in this moment.

When you get there, try to notice as many details as you can. Are there other people there? Are you in a man-made space or a place in nature? What are the colors and textures around you? What is the temperature like? Is it noisy or quite? If there is sound, from where is it coming? Soak up all of these details and notice how your body feels. Notice how your mind feels. What kinds of emotions are you experiencing? Would you like to feel this way more often?

When you open your eyes, take a moment to write down the details you saw and felt. Our imaginations have a brilliant way of telling us what we long for. In your visualization did your imagination show you that you long to feel more energized? More grounded? Calmer? More attractive or put together? What did you experience and what types of colors and textures did your imagination show you that for you represents those feelings?

This is the first step to understanding how your environment can affect the way you feel and how visuals in your environment represent those feelings. From this centered place of knowing, now you have the beginning of your road map to decorating your environment in a way that feels nourishing to you.

As you read articles about color, see whether or not the information resonates with you. If it does, that’s nice. If it doesn’t, allow yourself to set that information aside. As you look at inspirational design pictures on-line, see if there are certain pictures that match your desired feelings. You may come across many beautiful photos but only a few that make you feel the way you felt during your visualization. That match in feeling can serve as a guide for how to update your space.

When updating your space, your confidence or budget may have you start with only adding a small potted plant to sit by your window or a colorful scarf to throw over the back of your office chair. Small starts are perfectly fine because what you are doing is adding visual elements to your surroundings that are a match for how you want to feel. You are claiming a space, however subtle, and positively affecting your psyche.

Now, go on and do that visualization and start making the changes that you have identified to be right for you! There is no need to doubt yourself when it comes to decorating with color. You are the one with the answers after all. :)

Why Excess Stuff = Excess Baggage

As a spiritually minded person who pays close attention to intentions and design, I’m naturally a big fan of Feng Shui. And now that I live in a new to me place that is being renovated and shared with another person and my life is undergoing a lot of change, my interest in Feng Shui has been renewed.

During times of change, a lot of old behavior patterns or unresolved fears can crop up. It’s important to remain mindful and intentional about our actions and do what we can to keep ourselves feeling nurtured and balanced. As environment has a big effect on our psyche and can tell us a lot about our internal environment, is particularly important to pay close attention.

Right now, Nat and I are in the phase of his condo renovation where stuff gets moved from room to room on a weekly basis. Last week we were sleeping in the living room, today all of our tools and personal stuff is piled high in the living room. As a person who has systems and pays close attention to detail, even I am having trouble locating things. For instance, my computer mouse. Has anyone seen my mouse? Oh how I’d really like to find it.

The mess!

The mess!


One of the foundational points of Feng Shui is that everything has energy. It’s not just you and the other humans and animals and plants in your home that have energy. Everything has energy and everything is talking all the time leaving with you memories, feelings, and impressions. The quilt on your bed that your mother made for you leaves you with thoughts or feelings every time you walk by it, every time you cover yourself to go to bed. The blender you received when you married your ex-husband leaves you with a feeling every time you pull it out of the cabinet to use. The dying plant by your front door leaves you with a feeling of guilt or indifference every time you walk by it and decided “I’ll water it next time.”

Our world is full of energetic people and objects that either give you energy or take it away. And that is why it is important to be very mindful of what you keep. A sparse home could be much more rejuvenating to you then a home full of beautiful but useless objects that leave you feeling overwhelmed and unable to find what you need. (Still looking for that mouse...)

The right balance for each person is an individual thing but within you is the ability to discern whether or not your environment is nurturing you and whether or not you are nurturing yourself. If your life feels overwhelming or chaotic or just a bit off kilter, know that there are adjustments you can always make.

This past weekend, our neighbor accidentally knocked the fire safety sprinkler in her condo. Her home was flooded within minutes and it took a while for the fire department to show up and turn off the water. When Nat and I went over to see if we could help her move some of her stuff, she said that she knew she needed to clear out her overabundance of possessions. In fact she said, she had been thinking about doing this for a while but had kept putting it off. Now, she didn’t have a choice.

Our thoughts our powerful. Our desires pull towards us what we need. Either you can step into consciousness and do the work yourself, or life will throw your desired change at you in a way you would have preferred not to have happen.

I’m sure some cleansing and healthy growth will occur for our neighbor, she predicts it too. But she also said that she wished she had made the change sooner. As I look at the mess in my own living room, I can see the overabundance of items I do not actually need. I think I’ll take this as my cue to begin simplifying and let go of that which does not nurture me.

A Letter to Those Obsessed with Finding Their Purpose

( flickr )

Purpose is an amazing thing to have in life. It gives us drive, meaning, and even joy when our actions are fueled by it. But I don’t believe purpose is something we can find on our own, ego driven, rushed timelines. And therefore, searching for purpose is a bad idea. It will drive you mad. Purpose is something that finds you. You don’t find it. Purpose appears hazy and far off in the distance. If you think you can just make out its undefined edges, that’s great but don’t go running towards it. Keep your head down and get back to what it was that you were just doing.

Purpose begins to clarify; make its self-known when we have given up the search and have gotten busy with what we love. Purpose can be much too big for us to understand the full view. Purpose hangs out with God and we are fragments of God’s expression – one heartbeat, one pulsation of love.

Find something you enjoy, something that makes you curious, or something that you see needs fixing and get on with it! You don’t need to know where it will take you and that is just your ego getting in your own way anyhow.

Do what moves you even if it’s only a small step that will fill the next 30 minutes. That’s okay. There is always a small voice of knowing; a pull, an instinct there to guide you. Take a step forward. And if the next is not clear it’s only because you are again standing in your own way. And that’s okay.

Again, do what you can to calm down, slow down. Know that you are safe and not alone in this infinite universe. Once you do, your next bit of knowingness will appear.

The sooner you can get out of your own way the sooner you will move from fear and into the flow. You will find joy and purpose will take another step towards you.

You are not alone. You are not without purpose. You were not made to suffer. Joy and celebration are your birthright. But will you let it in? Will you claim it when it makes itself known?

No one is keeping you on the outside but yourself. No one is keeping you on the outside but your ego. Insisting life look a certain way is what keeps you from realizing life as a celebration. Your demands are fueled by your ego.

It’s okay. You’re human. We all feel stuck some (or most) of the time. But we can change. We can set aside our demands for the next 30 minutes. We can set aside our self-punishing thoughts (really, you can!) and jump into the moment. You can jump into what moves you. Honor your impulse to pull out your cookbook, write a letter, go for a run, or volunteer your time. Do the next thing, which might be the only thing that you know to do. In the process of following this instinct – this pull that no one but you can decipher – you will find joy and eventually, purpose will find you.


Why I Have a Spiritual Practice

Since I was a kid, I have been spiritually focused. I know there are a lot of ideas and definitions out there on what it means to be spiritual but for me, I take it to mean how I look at life. When something happens that may on the surface seem unpleasant or unfair, I try to look at what I am learning. I ask myself “How can I grow from this situation?” When someone is hurtful towards me, instead of being angry, I try to think, “Okay, from where are they coming? How are they hurting and how can I be compassionate?” Of course I don’t always get it right, but more often than not, my commitment to looking at life from a spiritual perspective encourages me to ask such questions. I know that there are some who think it is weak to place a value on forgiveness or not reacting to others' less than kind behavior. Some might think it weak when I accept what is rather than fight to make a situation different. On the surface, it might look like I ought to fight but if my heart tells me that this is not my battle, then I know to let go.

Of all the things that spirituality requires from us, I think letting go is the absolute hardest request of all. We invest so much energy into envisioning our lives turning out a certain way not to mention all of the work that we put into making our dreams a reality. There are real things that bring us much happiness in life such as the ability to dance, make our own decisions, fall in love, buy a home, and have the career of our dreams. And just as easily, or perhaps even more easily, we can lose our health, our independence, our lover, our home, and our wealth. And with these things we can lose our sense of security, our sense of place in the world, and all upon which we had banked our future happiness.

Sometimes, I think that believing in something higher than ourselves isn’t just a choice, it’s a necessity. To believe that the world is a benevolent place might be at a minimum essential. If we pin our happiness on certain experiences and people and because life is nothing if not unpredictable, how can we ever be hopeful if there is no guarantee to our happiness? Here is where a belief in something higher than ourselves and our willingness to let go comes in.

It isn’t weak to still be able to find happiness when our dreams fall apart. It isn’t weak to say “Wow, I’m disappointed but perhaps that job wasn’t the best fit.” It isn’t weak to say “She broke my heart but I guess she wasn’t ‘the one.’” And it isn’t weak to say “I’m in so much grief but perhaps he’s in a better place.” Despite our disappointments, pain, or our all-out, soul searing grief, it is okay to let go and look at what we have learned, what we have loved, and how we have grown. And it is okay to believe that it is all to our benefit; that perhaps there is some order to this seemingly chaotic world.

For me, if I didn’t have a spiritual practice, I think I would be a lot more pessimistic, regretful, angry, and discontent. Life doesn’t work out as we plan but if we can see the beauty in what has happened and how life is unfolding, then there is much to smile and be joyful about from moment to moment.

The hardest experience I have had to endure so far in life was the death of a friend over ten years ago. Willie was extremely intelligent, charismatic, compassionate, loyal, funny, and a beautiful musician. Had he lived, he would have turned 30 yesterday. For years my grief over his passing was absolutely unbearable. His passing and other events in life pushed me into a deep depression for several years. I could logically look at the situation and try to rationalize myself out of the grief but it never worked until I became committed to letting go of my desire to make the situation different.

Getting to that place unfortunately took years. For a long time, when I thought of Willie I allowed myself to be consumed by the intense grief associated with his passing. It probably took about five years before I was willing to take the ownership that was necessary to change the way I looked at the situation. Although I tried to focus on what was beautiful about having known and loved him I always came back to my desperation to have him back. It probably took me another five years after committing to change my mindset to actually make peace with what was.

Today, I still feel pain and sometimes my grief catches me in disbelief. But what is different is that the most difficult layer of my grief: my desire for a different outcome, is gone. If I need to cry, I cry but I no longer torment myself with wanting to change the past. Instead, there is more room within me to smile when I remember his silly antics or to let my heart melt when I remember how much he loved his family and mine. I have compassion for what he endured and hope that I am a better person because of him.

Letting go of our desire to control life isn’t weak. Relaxing into what is and letting our hearts expand even in the face of pain is brave. Believing that the world is a benevolent place and that we all have a place within it is wise. I choose to look at life from a spiritual perspective and because of it; I think I am a happier person.

Mapping the Bagua of Your Home

Overlaying the Bauga Map with the layout of your home is a very interesting exercise and one that I encourage you to do. Even if you don’t end up making any adjustments to your living space, the awareness you may get out of this could be astounding. For instance, maybe you end up realizing that your wealth and prosperity space is in your garage, where you have piled up so much forgotten junk over the years that you don’t even bother to go in there anymore. Are your finances in disarray and frightening for you to look at? I’m pretty sure you will end up finding a correlation or two between your life and the state of your home.

Because our outer world tends to reflect our inner world, it’s fascinating to see all of the correlations when you take a moment to really look at things. Mindfulness is powerful! So, as I said in my last post, the Bagua Map can be mapped to any space; your home, your bedroom, your office, or even your desk. To map your space, first draw out the dimensions of your space and then overlay the Bagua Map with your space ensuring that the lower quadrants of the map line up with your front door, the entrance to your office, the front of your desk (the side at which you sit), etc. If your home has more than one story, simply overlay the Bagua Map in the same direction to your upper or lower floors as you have done for your primary floor (the floor in which your front door resides).

While the Bagua Map is square, your space may not be and that is okay. For example, my home is rectangular and some of the Bagua map lies outside of my home. In Feng Shui, it is recommended to define and enhance that missing area in some way. If you own the missing space outside of your home (say the missing space lies in your front yard) you can define the space by adding a lamp post, water feature, plant, sculpture, fence, or anything that for you helps to symbolically define the space. Some people have even chosen to bury a natural quartz crystal (pointed part facing up) an inch or two below the ground with the intention of energizing and lifting the energy up in that quadrant of their Bagua Map.

As for me, I live on the second floor of a condo. While I’m not sure what I can do with the space outside my window that is a part of my Bagua Map, I’m choosing to believe that whatever intention I set about enhancing this “missing” area will suffice to energetically enhance that space. For example, I’m thinking I might put a crystal on my windowsill and have that symbolically represent the inclusion of this “missing” space.

As an example, below is a map of my home and overlaid on it is the Bagua Map. Here is where the interesting part begins. Part of my wealth and prosperity area exists on my deck. Currently, my deck is neglected, not messy but neglected. I have a lot of empty pots, some dirt, and gardening tools waiting to be used on my deck. They are all neatly organized on a piece of outdoor furniture but they are not in use. There is potential but currently no growth. In Colorado (where I live) people advise to not start planting until after Mother’s Day since the snow is so unpredictable around here. Thank goodness this Sunday is Mother’s Day as I think it is time to start enhancing this area of my life.

Bagua Mapping
Bagua Mapping

Another interesting thing I notice when I first mapped my home is that my bedroom was in my helpful people and travel area while my love and marriage area was a catchall for outdoor gear and the cat’s litter box. Below is a picture of the state of that room before I began to clean things up. If our outer world is a reflection of our inner world then it definitely doesn’t look like this space belongs to someone with a happy and flourishing romantic relationship, which sadly is true… Oops! :)

Since mapping my home though, I have switched my bedroom into the guest bedroom and have moved my office and guest room into the master bedroom. When my bed was in the master bedroom, so was my desk, computer, printer, work files, etc. This room is also close to the condo’s front door where the inhabitants of three other units are also constantly coming and going. No wonder I woke up each morning never feeling quite rested. This space, the helpful people and travel area, is meant for movement, new ideas and new opportunities. Since I have moved my bedroom into the smaller room, which is tucked into a quieter part of the house, I have begun to sleep much more soundly. And because the room is small, it only contains my bed, a closet, and a dresser, which is all that is really needed anyhow.

So, are you ready to start mapping your home? If you do, I bet you will find it to be a fun and insightful process. You do not have to tackle making changes to all areas of your home but perhaps there are one or two areas you will feel inclined to modify once you have seen how the state of your life is a direct correlation to the state of your home. If you have any questions on how to do this or would like some help on coming up with ideas on how to modify the energy in certain areas of your home, feel free to comment below.

Happy mapping!

Feng Shui 101

Perhaps the most fundamental tool in Feng Shui is the Bagua Map (pronounced baug-waah). The Bagua Map is used by correlating it to the structure of your home and then making adjustments in your home to align with energetic patters of vitality, happiness, and good fortune. This map was developed several thousand years ago in Ancient China. Today, millions of structures and designs have been influenced by it. Even if you don’t believe in the contents of the map, setting and acting upon your intentions is likely to bring about a positive change in your life. For me, this is reason enough to make some adjustments in my home because I believe greatly in the power of intention. To use the map, align the front entrance of your home with the lower quadrant of the map (the lower quadrants consists of Knowledge and Self-Cultivation, Career, and Helpful People and Travel). The front entrance should be the door that was designed to be the official entrance to your home. For instance, if you have a door at the front of your home but always enter your house through the door in the garage, you would still want to align the lower quadrant with the door that is at the front of your home.

Naturally, not everyone has a perfectly square home and sometimes, depending on the shape of your home, certain areas within the Bagua Map will overlap with your yard or the street; areas that are not necessarily inside your home. This is fine but do note that this space could also use your attention to correct for any energetic imbalances. Also, if your home has more than one story, you simply want to translate the map of the first floor directly above or below your home’s main story.

Note that the entire Bagua Map can be applied to any space such as your bedroom, office, or even your dining table or desk top. You do not have to have access to an entire home in order to make these energetic adjustments to your life. With the right attitude, wherever you choose to put your intention, you can surely reap positive results.

Below is the map and in my next post, I will show you how to map it to your space. Yay, for energetic adjustments!

Attitude: the Greatest Affecter of Your Quality of Life and You Can Control It

Here is something I have been working with recently. It’s okay to have a bad attitude, even a really bad attitude but only for a very short amount of time – say an afternoon or a day. Having a bad attitude is sometimes our way of recognizing how we feel. Life isn’t always rosy and we don’t always feel great about it and it is healthy to acknowledge our feelings.

Acknowledging how we feel is not going to hurt us. Rather, it will likely help us understand what is going on in our internal world and perhaps figure out how to make links to our external world so we can start to change what needs to be changed. So, as a form of acknowledgement, a bad attitude is okay. As a way of being though, a bad attitude can be very detrimental. The mind set in which we allow ourselves to exist will very quickly take over as what we believe to be reality. And what we tend to believe internally is nearly always reflected back to us by our external world.

If we believe that the world is a kind and benevolent place we will often see examples of this around us. If we believe that others are out to get us, that tends to be the experience we have with those in our lives over and over. This is why people tend to attract the same type of partner and friends again and again and again. Until we shift, our world will remain the same.

So, when I woke up this morning with the same bad attitude that I carried with me yesterday, I realized that I had to make a shift. My mind was feeling so moody and frustrated and out of control. Thank goodness though I am a pretty positive person in general because as I went to make some tea this morning, I felt a glimmer of my bubbly self rise to my emotional surface and invite me to choose a new perspective. Feeling different I knew was a choice.

I think it must be hard for a lot of people to recognize that our feelings are a choice. In fact, just reading this might frustrate some readers. If that was your reaction, I understand why you would feel that way.

It’s true though that our feelings and our thoughts are a choice. Just like we can choose where to focus our attention or what activities to engage in for the day, we get to choose our thoughts and feelings. The process of being able to do this well though does become easier over time if one is committed to a mindfulness process – whether it be meditation, writing, exercise, or even talking out loud to one’s self as I tend to often do in the car. :)

There are times in life that are more (or a LOT more) challenging than others. Throughout it all, we get to choose our attitude. It’s easier to start practicing this when life is not too difficult so you have some saving grace to draw on when life gets really out of control. Know that your quality of life is extremely affected by the attitude you chose to have each day.

If you are unable to internally cultivate a new frame of mind, use the resources around you; watch a funny movie, listen to an inspiring TED talk on-line, play with an animal, go outside to breathe some fresh air and soak in the sunshine. While our internal world greatly affects our experience of our outer world, there are many resources around you to help pull you into a better frame of mind. Use what you need as you work to cultivate your inner strength. It’s all a process and you are definitely capable of getting there.

In closing, here is something that I recently wrote on a Post-it Note that I carry with me daily. It’s my reminder and promise to myself to have a good attitude especially when navigating difficult chapters in life.

I choose my attitude which influences my experiences and determines my quality of life!

You can do it!


Two Important Steps to Help You Access Your Intuition

Truth: on some level, we always know what we need. Sometimes, I get concerned that I am a little too dense to be able to hear my intuition. And then other times, I am surprise by what I know. Recently, after returning home from a two-week road trip, I began to become aware of a lot of subtle nudges about what my body and psyche needed. This felt like intuition….kind of…but it was so subtle that I thought perhaps these nudges were more just emotional desires than wisdom from my higher self.

However, within the next few days, the information I got on an intuitive level was being confirmed thorough books and articles that were coming into my life. Literature has a way of being a main message carrier for me. Perhaps for you you receive confirmation through music lyrics, conversations you overhear, or dreams that leave you dumbfounded in the morning. The synchronicities are everywhere if you are willing to have an open mind and look. For me, the words that were coming into my life were the proof I needed to know that what I have been feeling was in fact my intuition.

The messages carried by our intuition can often be so subtle that we doubt what we are sensing. Maybe that’s just gas? Am I making this up? It’s so easy to dismiss the information we receive from our higher selves. There are two important steps we can take though to strengthen our intuition.


Listen and act. The more we take our intuition seriously, act upon it, and reap the benefits from this divine guidance, the more audible our intuition will become. Like any muscle, our connection to our intuition can be strengthened.


Remove what you can from your life that doesn’t add to your clarity. Naturally, there is a LOT that we could remove from our lives to help us gain clarity. Diet can be improved, toxic friendships can be removed, resentment could be released, forgiveness could be given, compassion could be bestowed.. upon ourselves, more sleep could be added, gentle exercise could be introduced, a regular centering, meditation practice could be adopted. There is much that we can do to remove the debris of confusion that is constantly swirling around in our lives.

Because insights from our intuition can be so subtle, clearing some of this debris will increase our chances of making contact with this wisdom. And if anything, there will be less guessing for us to do – do I feel this way because I’m tired? Maybe it’s because I’m stressed over the disparaging remarks my “friend” made yesterday, etc. You get the idea.

There are going to be a lot of times in our lives where we are unsure of what to do, unsure of which direction to take, or how to add quality to our lives. Luckily, we are never without our intuition to help guide us through any situation in life. Whether or not we are capable of hearing this wisdom though is another matter. Therefore, if you want access to your inner GPS system, it’s time to start listening and cleaning up your life.

Take a moment to get calm and quite. Then, from a centered place, asking yourself: “What are a few things I could do to add clarity to my life?” I’m willing to bet that you will find at least a few good points that rise to the surface of your consciousness. The truth is you already know what you need. The next step though, is learning how to listen.

Jealousy. It’s Not as Bad as You Think

The only time you feel jealous is because you feel you can’t have something. If you saw what you wanted in another and believed you could have it, you would feel inspired, not jealous. Here is another gift for our awareness. We don’t have to beat ourselves up for feeling jealous or even try to make ourselves not feel jealous. It’s like meditation. When meditating, if a thought comes into your head, you don’t need to beat yourself up for loosing track of your breath or even try to force the thought out. Instead, you can just observe that a thought has entered your mind. In a neutral space, the thought does not have to be a negative or positive occurrence. It just is. And of course it just is. Only humans label experiences as negative or positive. Before we came around, an experience was just an experience. Nothing more, nothing less. So…. back to jealousy (my, I do tend to get off track!). :) Jealously is just a feeling; an indicator for you, not necessarily an emotion that should be indulged or banished from our thoughts. Think of the last time you have been jealous. What triggered it? What were you observing? How personally empowered and confident were you feeling while jealous?

Heck, you don’t even have to just limit this helpful observation to jealousy. When have you ever been witness to someone’s good fortune and rather than feel great for them or inspired about what you too could accomplish, you instead felt weak, unsure of yourself, left with some doubt, or even feelings of self-loathing? In any of those situations, your beliefs about what you can have or be in life are really low. And this is what is limiting.

I think, before we can ever be or have what we want in life, we need to feel like we have permission to achieve what we want. This permission of course does not come from anyone but ourselves. Who cares if your dad doesn’t think you should take a nice vacation. If you however don’t think you should treat yourself well and take a nice vacation, then you can be absolutely sure you will never make this dream a reality.

Let me give you a personal example of one that I find difficult and probably one with which many of us struggle. Money. Ah, that’s loaded, I know! So, here is my situation. I envision myself one day writing books and being very successful at what I do. I believe that my books will help millions of people and that they will bring in more than enough money for me to be financially secure. And it’s tough because I am not that financially secure right now. I have a mortgage and I need some type of income to pay it. However, doubting that I can one day be financially wealthy certainly won’t help me obtain what I hope to achieve. And so, whenever this self-doubt arises, I remember that thoughts are extremely powerful and I immediately chose a new thought. I choose a more empowering thought like “Of course I can! The world is full of successful writers. I believe in what I have to say and I am a decent writer so why the heck couldn’t I be a successful writer?!” Even if I am just playing with logic (of course the possibility of being a successful writer exists), this contributes to establishing a healthy belief in myself and contributes to the odds of me achieving my dream.

So, feelings of jealousy or self-doubt? Hooray, what a gift! Now we have another clue to recognize what is standing in our way of where we want to go in life. Where in your life are you lacking permission? What limiting beliefs are standing in your way? Now, what positive thoughts can you choose to replace these limiting beliefs? Let’s chat about this this week and help each other adopt some more empowering beliefs. We all deserve to achieve the life we want. I truly believe that and I truly believe in you.

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Clutter. Why Have You Allowed It into Your Space and What Can You Learn from It?

Is your home and/or office filled with clutter? This includes the items that may be shoved in the closet out of sight. Items that you truly do use once and awhile are fine but what about all the items you never use? I have them. A lot less than I did a few months ago but I still have some. I do understand that it’s hard to let things go. What about that denim jacket I haven’t worn since high school? I might have some purpose for it, though that purpose has yet to crop up in the last ten years. What about those crystal candle stick holders my mother unloaded on me? I don’t even like the shape of them… but still, if I were to ever throw a really fancy dinner party, they might come in handy.

Okay, so it seems like life could be filled with a lot of what ifs. However, what if there is something deeper; below the what ifs? What if our clutter is actually a clue to understand more about ourselves and possibly even our next step? I remember once reading an interesting story in a book about a woman and her clutter (I would cite the book but it’s been too long to remember from where it came). Anyhow, this woman was a client of the author and the woman had stacks of paper EVE-RY-WHE-RE in her apartment. She had tried for years to tackle this problem yet the issue kept getting more and more out of hand. One day, the author asked the woman to go home in the evening, turn off the lights, light one candle and then just sit and be quite with herself. Given the chance to just be present, the woman might gain some insight into why these papers were such a persistent issue.

The woman took this advice and shortly into this process the answer came to her and she broke down sobbing. Among all the papers, the woman realized that she had notes on bits of paper here and there for a book she had been dreaming about for years. She was afraid to get rid of the papers because with it, she might lose her dream. Having this realization finally gave her the clarity and motivation she needed to clean up her apartment and start going after something she really cared about: her book. This woman then worked with the author to devise a plan and be held accountable to working on her book each week – in a much more organized manner. Once she began this process, the mounds of paper quickly dissipated. Naturally, this woman felt much more rejuvenated with a clear home, a clear mind, and a clear purpose.

So, let’s look at our own lives. Yes, the clutter isn’t nice and we have considered doing something about it many times. Maybe like me, you have made piles, put things in bags, even put those bags by the front door and then thought…but what if I really do need those items? I might regret it. And so the bags go back in the closet or under the bed. What if, instead of dropping the whole issue at that point, we instead considered whether or not there could be something deeper behind this issue. Why actually is this so difficult? What is it about this item that I am hoping might one day serve me?

Here is my personal example. I used to be a ballet dancer. I spent much of my childhood dancing and particularly dancing ballet. I continued some ballet in college and thus I had leotards, pink tights, hair nets, and a pair of ballet shoes. For years now, I have moved these items with me from one place to the next thinking that I might need them. Once I decided to get clear on why I still have these items here is the conclusion that came to me.

I love dancing. Dancing is extremely important to me and a vital part of my self-expression and happiness. Ballet however, is not a form of dance that I care to ever again formally pursue. With this level of clarity, it was easy to let go of the ballet gear and reassure myself that dancing will always be a part of my life. I already dance regularly but if I didn’t I would have begun to identify ways to incorporate it into my life. Having the clarity though that ballet was something I didn’t need to hold on to, even though it was once a significant part of my life, allowed me to clear my space and add to my mental clarity as well.

I hope this process becomes a tool that is useful for you and that you can use often.

Finally, it is important to be conscious about your choices moving forward. If your space is cluttered, that is because you let the clutter in. If you have taken the physical, mental and emotional energy to clear your space, are you going to allow the clutter to waltz right back into your life? It’s unfortunately much easier to fall into that trap than you might think.

For instance, I have a friend who is in the process of moving and gave me two of her items that she is getting rid of. My initial reaction was “These are cool items and they are free!” But then I realized, wait, she is getting of the exact same types of things I just got rid of in my own home. Items that could be useful or items that are pretty to have but items that I don’t really need and won’t actually enhance my life. It was with this realization that it was then easy to say “Thanks but no thanks.” I had a commitment to myself to keep and that resolve actually made me feel lighter and more in control of the life that I am actively creating.

So, if you remember to do so, always ask yourself before bringing something new into your home if it is in alignment with how you want your life to be. Try to be as conscious as possible with your choices. Will this item in question add to your joy or will it be in conflict with your personal resolve? Happy de-cluttering and inner gift finding!

Returning to Self; It’s a Moment by Moment Practice

As I have said before, I believe that all the answers we ever need are already within. We were born with our own innate compass and wisdom. I know firsthand however how easy it is to start believe that we need what is around us. Of course there are many great experiences to be had outside ourselves or even more seductive, there can be many sources of validation outside of ourselves. I think it is easy enough to understand why we don’t want to become dependent on outside sources for validation: if you lose the validation, you lose yourself, which can be especially true with relationships. Yeah, yeah, most of us have been there. ;)

The former point though (needing what is around us) can be a bit trickier to discern. Here is my personal example. For a while, I have been taking classes at a school that has given me a nice community and wonderful tools to further and deepen my personal growth. Recently however, I have found that I needed to take some personal space to be more present with myself and really integrate what I have learned thus far. I do think that was a perfect decision for me however within a few days, I found myself starting to grasp at the lessons that I might be missing by not attending class.

I had to come back to a place where I remembered what is most important to me in life; my spiritual growth. I’m not here to be on a fast track but I am here to know myself and deepen that relationship. By coming from a place of grasping or thinking that there was one answer or way to help me in my spiritual growth, I had lost sight of the truth that all I will every need is already within me. If I become fixated on needing something outside of myself, then I give up my personal power and the ability to do real, honest spiritual growth.

I can see now, that returning to self is a moment by moment practice. For now, I have decided to return to myself, to go within. However, tomorrow, I might be convinced that there is a yoga teacher in town that I absolutely must learn from until I myself become a yoga master. Who knows what it could be because there are many genuine and helpful sources of inspiration. Eventually though, I think that I will always remember that no matter where I go, there I am. All of the tools outside of ourselves are just that - tools (and wonderful experiences!) but they are never a substitute for our divine self. We are the answer that we seek; we are the source of peace that we are longing to find.

I hope that through every experience you have in life, you choose to bring yourself along. What I mean is that rather than losing yourself you chose to find yourself. It certainly is a commitment to bring yourself along because often times the way we feel or where we are at in this moment in our lives is a place we would rather escape. However, how can one find peace, which can only truly come from within, if we don’t ever choose to move through that which is uncomfortable? The beautiful experiences around us are opportunities to go within and cultivate our own peace and joy. The beautiful, inspirational, transformational, etc. experiences are not meant to just serve as a temporary salve to our pain.

Are there any times in your life where you have come to this conclusion? Or, are there any experiences you are having in life right now where you could shift your perception to see how these experiences are helpful but may not be the ultimate answer to finding you if you don’t allow yourself to be fully present? I suppose it is easier to see this from the opposite end of the spectrum. Perhaps you have experiences in your life that you really do not love but you know that they are still serving you to learn more about yourself and grow. Just as we know that the negative experiences are not the answer to ourselves, so too are the positive experiences. It is the returning to self, moment by moment, experience by experience that brings us to the peace and joy our soul is yearning to find.

Balance: Why It’s Elusive and Not Worth Your Effort

As you have guessed by the title, this post is not about a quick answer or solution to achieving balance. Rather, I am going to write about my experience in the hope that this might bring you some relief if your own quest is to find balance.

So, I have the personality type that loves to go all or nothing. When I decide I’m going to do something, I love to go all in. This especially comes to mind when I think about health. I can’t tell you how many diet books (this has to be in the hundreds) I have read. I haven’t ever been particularly interested in losing weight (for me that hasn’t been one of my struggles) but I have been absolutely obsessed with health. I have been obsessed with optimum health. Therefore, I have tried a lot of different, very strict eating regimes. Naturally, these have been impossible (for me) to obtain. And so, I would get discouraged until I came across the next great healthy diet book and once again became obsessively inspired to achieve optimal health.

I remember one day, when I had been through this pattern enough, that it clearly hit me that I would likely never achieve the self-discipline to maintain an immaculate diet. I laughed at myself and then said, okay, I still want to try but I just won’t take myself so seriously before, during, and after the process. The truth is I still love diet books on healthy, clean, optimum health. I enjoy the process of discovering such books, devouring every page as soon as I get home and then trying to figure out how to integrate the book’s recommendations into my life. I already know the outcome; I will try a few recipes, throw out all the dairy in my fridge (again!), and then drop the whole process before the week is over. But now, when I do this, I have fun. Even the after is fun when I can laugh at myself as I return the book to the library and buy more cheese because I don’t know what else to feed myself that is as convenient.

So, what is balance? Well, like everything in life I definitely believe it to be a process. I don’t think walking a fine line is that realistic or that it ever really contributes to any sustainable sense of joy. If balance is a process, I think the process is being in the moment, finding some lightness, and compassion for ourselves. So long as our actions are not self-destructive, I think it’s okay to swing a bit to the right and then leap a bit to the left.

Just like the seasons, change and extremes may not be all that bad. If I am feeling lonely, why not spend every night of the week being social rather than insisting that I need time alone to meditate? If a tree wants to bloom, it allows itself to go to the extreme of dropping its leaves and remaining dormant for the winter so that it may have the energy it needs to then go to the other extreme of producing full, beautiful blossoms in the spring. It’s okay, it’s a cycle and somehow, by being a part of the cycle, balance is achieved.

What do you think about balance? Is it elusive in your life or have you been able to achieve and maintain it? In what areas of your life are you striving for balance and what is your frame of mind if you don’t achieve it? If you are frustrated, what can you do to add more humor and lightness to your situation? I would love to hear your story and what you have learned along the way!

Why We Need to Ask Ourselves “What Do I Want?” More than Once

Sometimes, to get to the heart of the matter, I think we have to ask ourselves “What do I want?” more than once. For instance, I might say, I want to quit my job. Q: Okay, why? What do you want? A: Well, I don’t want to spend the majority of my time doing something that doesn’t make me happy. Q: Okay, what do you want? A: I want to do something that brings me meaning, something that brings me purpose. Response: Ahhh, now we are getting somewhere! Just with that identifier alone, it should be obvious that with the exception of showing up to my job every day because it is currently my responsibility until I make a change, I should not commit to other activities in life that do not bring me meaning or purpose. I sure as heck shouldn’t quit my job and take a new one that does not bring me purpose.

But we do silly things all the time that take us further and further away from what we want. And why do we do this? Well, there could be many reasons but certainly a big one is that we haven’t gotten to the root of what we really want. Let’s take the job example again. Say you don’t want the job you have. But rather than getting at the root of what you really want you engage in all sorts of self-sabotaging behaviors like eating junk food because you are bored, fighting with your significant other because you are frustrated, or jumping into another pointless job because you are desperate.

All of these activities add more drama to your life and enhance your lack of clarity. If you were able to identify the real issue and come up with a plan, imagine the clarity that could be added to your life. For instance, you might say, “Well, I don’t know exactly what job will bring me meaning but I know that I like fishing. Fishing makes me feel good.” Great, what a good thing to have identified! With that piece of knowledge in mind, you might decide that on Saturday you will leave your house early and go fishing for the day. Even before you actually go finishing, odds are good that just thinking about Saturday is going to make you feel more positive. After a day of fishing, or doing whatever it is that makes you feel good, you will likely feel much more clear headed. Coming from that space, I would imagine that it might also be easier to treat your body better by making one or two healthier food choices because the ache of boredom isn’t there to push you on at that moment. That evening, you may not feel the urge to argue with your significant other because the frustration that desires a release may not be present. You may also have enough clarity at this point to see through how silly it would be to jump into another pointless job just because the opportunity presented itself.

Although our long term goals might not be achieved immediately, it does help to ask ourselves “What do I really want?” By asking ourselves this question, it tends to add to our clarity and serve as a means for getting closer to or on the path of where we want to go.

So, where is an area of your life right now that currently gives you angst? Why are you in resistance to that situation? How would you like that situation to be different? If you achieved that change, are you sure that same resistance wouldn't come up in another area of your life?

What is it that you actually want? What is missing from this situation that is the real source of your pain? Once you have your answer, do you see an immediate way that you can solve this lack? If not, what instead is one gentle, kind and loving thing that you can do for yourself? Often by doing this it helps us step out of our head and into the flow of life. When we are out of the flow, answers elude us and we tend to make poor choices that don’t address what we really want. When we are in the flow, calm and clarity have a way of stepping in and presenting us with solutions we never could have reasoned our way into.

Listen to Yourself, Not to Me or Anyone Else

In every article I write, I am going to write from self-experience. I only want to write what feels authentic. That being said, I don’t believe that my truth is going to resonate with everyone. I believe it is extremely important to find your own truth. I have read (at least) hundreds of self-help and spiritual books and you can bet that many of the messages from all of those books are in contradiction with one another. I don’t however find this to be a problem. We are such diverse human beings that of course one person’s way is not the answer for everyone. For instance, some people are not the least bit concerned about living without health insurance. As for me, I’m not sure I could live without health insurance because the stress of the risk I would be taking would kill me long before any accident or illness.

Before I get to my point, here is one more thought that just came to mind. I read once that there are a great number of people who do not get on with living the life they want until their parents die. Many people are so concerned with what others think that they put their life on hold and only permit themselves the freedom to live their own lives once their parents have died. And some – like I did—might add even more misery to their life by expending their energy trying to justify what they want their life to be like in hopes that they will finally win approval and be free. Can you believe that was me!?! Thank goodness I learned that sooner than later because I think my parents are going to be around for quite some time.

Okay, now onto the point. The point is that I fully support you in finding your own truth. Even if the whole world agreed with what I am saying except for you that would never justify you adopting my truth over your own. If it doesn’t resonate, don’t keep it. It won’t help you on the path to finding your true, authentic self and I think that matters more than anything.

One of the biggest lessons I have been learning in life is to find my own voice and then live by it. I am obviously very much in process with this lesson. I have struggled greatly in the past to gain my parent’s approval of the unconventional path I would like to take in life. But why should I need my parents’ approval? Even if they agreed with me, there are likely still millions of other people in this world who would not agree. Am I going to try and convince every single person on this planet before I get on with my life? Heck no, that’s ridiculous! Even I know that! :)

Of course, setting aside the approval of others, or whatever your struggle may be, is always much easier said than done. But it is important to start somewhere. I think that one good place to start is to choose your own thoughts. Case in point: how could I ever have the confidence to quit my reliable job and launch my dream career if I was still stuck on needing my parents’ approval? I really don’t think I could. I don’t think I could create my ideal life from a clear, peaceful, inspired place if I was running through the drama of needing approval.

So, what do you think? Use this blog as your low risk, first step. If you don’t agree with my posts because they don’t resonate as true to you then that is great! I won’t judge you for it but I will nudge you to ask yourself what you do believe. What contributes to your peace? What do you need to find your authentic self? And if you do agree with the posts in this blog that too is great so long as you are clear that my thoughts really resonate as being helpful for you in finding your authentic, confident self.

I think you are wonderful and 100% deserving of having a life of joy, peace, and purpose. I hope you are able to find what you need to achieve that.