Sunday, July 26, 2009

Room for Change:Controlling Clutter, Opening Opportunites

My procrastination in the writing about clutter held me captive for days. As I reflected on this procrastination I considered several things and the greatest of these is that I have not been an expert in clutter control. My downsizing and purging of items in my life has not been easy. I must admit it is always easier for me to do clutter control for others and with others. With the death of my spouse, my daughters moving away and my own transition to a smaller abode, I am becoming more confident in my abilities, but even more confident in the profound effects that controlling clutter can create for those in grief.

In grief , de-cluttering offers room for growth in your physical setting and in your mind. Items attract our attention in ways both great and small. Too much clutter can make it difficult to bring something new into our environment or even too difficult to find something cherished already existing in it.

In grief our minds as well as our environments can be cluttered with things, with thoughts, with decisions to make that we may have not been prepared to make. In de-cluttering or redesigning our physical environment, one's goal is to put back items that support not hinder. Perhaps the mind cluttering and activities we perform could also use a bit of redesigning.

Clutter affects different people in different ways.

Clutter can

Keep you in the past
Confuse you
Be unhealthy physically and even a fire hazard
Decrease financial resources available to you: insurance, storage lockers, maintenance and cleaning
Keep you ashamed: limiting access to your home of friends and family
Keep you fatigued: just thinking about the clutter can "tire" you.
According to Karen Kingston, author of several books dealing with clutter and energy, clutter can be divided into four categories.

1. Things you do not use or love

2. Things that are untidy or disorganized

3. Too many things in too small a space

4. Anything unfinished

The time of transition in your life is also a great time to reap the benefits of purging or clearing house of the items above. This is also a task that friends or professionals can assist you with completing. There is no hurry to do it all at once but little tasks like cleaning out your "junk" drawer one day will offer you a sense of accomplishment and create some order in your life.

The first thing to do is to assess an area to tackle, be it the junk drawer, the front closet or even your coffee table or book shelf.

Second is to set up a simple system. Four piles or boxes are a good start. One pile is for donation or recycling or selling. Selling could be done through garage sale, Ebay or Craig's List. This is a prime opportunity to enlist your friends help. The second pile is for trash. The third pile is to save. The fourth pile can be items that will be going back to the drawer, closet or shelving. If you do want to save it, label it with a listing of general contents and the date packed . My preference is a clear bin that can easily be accessed if I need something. If I do not go and seek something within a year in that bin, chances are that I do not need it. Of course important tax papers or receipts are an exception. If what you want to keep is a keepsake item, keep it or them to a minimum. Or if they are keepsakes for someone else, maybe you can box them up and give them to them now, freeing some space for you.

To reiterate, clutter tends to keep you in the past, keeps you tired, confuses you, makes you ashamed to have people to your home, keeps things on hold, entails extra time and energy to clean and is a health and fire hazard.

There is always the opportunity if you stow something away for a while you may not miss it. There is also the opportunity to bring it back out and stow something else in its place and really enjoy the novelty of this object in your surroundings again. Things are always changing and providing yourself with a change by de-cluttering creates such space. This space can create wealth and space for others.

Learn to lighten the load. Professional Organizers and Redesigners are excellent resources to help you jump start the process. Remember the task is done is small steps. One drawer at a time or one cupboard at a time is truly enough. What truly supports you? The things? The items? The stuff? Or is it the people around you that support you and what happens within your space? Open it up, lighten in up and ask for help if needed. You will be surprised what such a space will attract! A smile in the least.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Room for Change:On the Road Again

Change your outlook. Change your perspective. Change your location. All three can create unbridled opportunities for you.

During my first "solo" Christmas a friend presented me with an overnight bag decorated with dogs in bright red. Would I have picked that out myself? Probably not. Did I use it? Still do , but now it holds my hip scarves when I travel to dance class. ( Did I belly dance before my husband died? Not)

My friend suggested it as my new overnight bag and I am suggesting one for you. In addition a list of things to tuck into it is suggested. Let's call it the "Sunrise Satchel". This satchel and spontaneity will keep you afloat. Place it in your car ( or closet) and you will always be ready.

Suggested Contents for Your Satchel

Water bottle and tea bags... you can always get some hot water or put your tea bags in your water bottle and place it in the sun, for sun tea

A journal, magazine and local map

A change of clothes, PJ's, and toothbrush

A flashlight

A 20 dollar bill

A small directory of important phone numbers

A small appointment book

A small bag of nuts and/or dried fruit

This satchel is not only for overnights. This bag helps when you may just need a respite.It is also great for any road emergency or an impromptu afternoon in the park. With the basics wrapped in your satchel , you are on the road again.

Go pick out that sachel. The one that is out of the ordinary and extraordinary just like you! Have fun and safe travels.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Gaps in Grief

Last weekend I attended a gathering of about 200 widows in San Diego. Whew, that must have been exciting I hear being whispered. She really is reaching I hear in hushed voices. Well, reaching yes, but more than that, receiving.

In grief, there are voids, there are gaps there are wide pauses that appear endless. As I sat on the plane for the trip to San Diego I reviewed how far I had travelled in space and time since my husband's passing. More striking was in this stillness , the sitting beside a stranger over the past 5 years and what had happened. What had transpired in that gap or void in my existence?

1. A Friar who missioned with orphans in India, switched seats and prayed with me.
2. A newly divorced woman who cared for abused dogs gave me her number and sent me a note and a Christmas card.
3. A young mother from India, complemented me on the color I was wearing and we shared our common thread of moving and now a lunch last week.
4. A college girl gave me her mom's name and address and then her mom and I became friends.
5. A older woman, never married, showed me the courage to go out and do something for me on my own.
6. A young couple wished me well traveling to this conference and acknowleged my "strength" and believed in my unrealized succeess.

The people- all kinds- all walks- all visions.
The place- a seat next to me on an airplane.
Why? Because we all care and we all matter.





In this 5 year anniversary , HE says well done great and faithful servant. Thanks to all of you!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Room for Change:Nourishment for Body and Mind

The kitchen, the room designated for food preparation and eating, is considered the heart of the home in many cultures. When people gather it creates a natural haven for conversation, fellowship and nourishment. Nurturing yourself with good food that supports you is important at all times, but especially during grief with the potential stressors of change.

Savor the Start. Start your day by honoring the progress you are making. Ideas might include a new mug filled with your favorite drink, the lighting of a new candle as you prepare breakfast or the reading a fresh quote from an inspiring book. Honoring yourself for your achievements with gratitude can be a great morning platform.

Support Yourself.With change arises opportunities to create new patterns to support yourself. It could be having dinner in a newly created space or simply adding a new routine. If you find that the television is your dinner partner, go with that. Set yourself a portable tray in the kitchen that can hold a plate, cup and condiments. Place a colorful washable place mat underneath it for quick clean ups and to prevent sliding. Consider buying yourself a new place setting to bring some newness to the dining experience. You can find inexpensive ones at a Dollar Store or even T.J. Maxx. It could have the colors you like, a motive or even a hobby. Little pleasures like these are non threatening and if you change your mind, the investment was not great. Using a nice piece of crystal stemware often reserved for special occasions or china plate is also pampering. Why wait? Celebrate the progress you have made as little as it may seem.

Consider Carryout. Getting Carryout and going to a local park to eat is another option for your solo dining experiences. You may be solo, but watching nature or a ball game or hearing children play can have a soothing effect and change your perspective if only for a short period of time. It may be a great spot to share with your dog as well.
Request the best. When friends do ask what they can do for you, maybe this is the time to ask for some mini meals that will freeze. You will benefit from the support of friends and sharing food that can nourish you both. Receiving is as important as giving , so look for opportunities to share this time. Maybe your friends could present you with a packet of "coupons" for a selected number of dinners at their home. Often it is easier to decide when you want to go out and when to stay home and this option can be helpful for both of you.

Open up to Opportunities. The first time my mother and I went out to dinner, I cried at the bar as we waited for our table. She inquired what was so amiss. I spilled forth, " I don't want to be a barfly." She chuckled lovingly and hugged me. Expressing yourself is great. New experiences can be trying but can be rewarding as well. She found " barfly" napkins at a novelty store and now we had a standing joke. Shortly after my husband died, my father did as well .We laughed with our new roles but could cry with our common stories.

Nourishing your entire body to support your new activities is of utmost importance in moving through grief. If your eating spot has changed, make certain it is comfortable,bright and colorful in flavor. You deserve the best!