How To

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.

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.

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. :)