Keep it Simple and Feel Rejuvenated. 7 Things to Do and 7 Things to Eliminate in 2014

1. Make your bed everyday. 2. Stop receiving junk mail. Remove yourself here.

3. Unsubscribe from emails you do not want to receive.

4. Eat the leftovers.

5. Wear what you have.

6. Clean your car out.

7. Stop making excuses. If that 2 hours of down time is calling you to veg out or take that yoga class, do it.

8. Toss the worn out shoes.

9. Clean up your social media. Anything or anyone that doesn't feel good to you decide to remove.

10. Get rid of your 5 spatulas and 6 wine openers. Extras in the kitchen drawers are taking up space.

11. Sing in the shower. Loudly.

12. Do more of what you love. Never feel guilty for it.

13. Let go of comparing and competing. Keeping up with the Joneses is overrated.

14. Let go of perfection. We are all perfectly imperfect.

 

Where Rearranging and Redecorating Your Space Will Take You

I admit I am a chronic furniture re-organizer and a compulsive re-decorator. From the moment I was old enough to move furniture I started rearranging my bedroom. For me it's about editing, redefining the space, breathing new life into it and creating a new look without spending a dime. There are times that the $5 perfectly matching candle I found at Pier 1, that is tucked away on a shelf, may constitute an entire living room furniture rearrange. I love to witness moving a picture from one wall to another and see the transformation take place. The colors in a photo can appear differently in its new home depending on how the light hits it during a certain time of the day. All of the decorative accents surrounding that picture might even have colors in them that really come through, all because of moving one photo.

"Sometimes there are pieces we would love to highlight in a space but they have gotten lost among clutter and lack of flow. Edit the things that aren't working"

Changing the layout of a room and recreating a space can be just as exciting as heading to the  store and purchasing a new furniture set. Clear out the space completely, sit in the middle of the room and close your eyes. Take a moment to decide what isn't working in the space, decide on how you want it to function, more importantly how you want to feel, and then slowly move the pieces back in. Sometimes there are pieces we would love to highlight in a space but they have gotten lost among clutter and lack of flow. Edit the things that aren't working. They may function better in another room, or they may be the perfect item to let go of.

Clearly defining how you wish a space to function is the key to a successful furniture and decor rearrange. Deciding on the focal point in the room will allow you to determine where the furniture will be best placed. Always avoid overcrowding and blocking entrances. Think simple and light. If you have made a decision to embark on a journey of rearranging and redecorating chances are there is something lacking in the space for you. While it may never be perfect, it will absolutely offer up feelings of calm and peace of mind as it gets closer to functioning the way you want it to.

There are endless benefits to rearrange, redecorate and edit our homes. You will always benefit from having a new and fresh perspective. When moving one piece of furniture or wall art to another room it shakes up the design and the urge to run out and buy something new fades away. Redefining a space will re-energize you and bring a fresh outlook into your new space. It does impact your mental health in a positive way. So when the urge to rearrange and redecorate hits you I say go for it. It will take you on a journey of rediscovering your space, falling in love with its potential and embracing your space in a new way.

Home

When I was 19 my parents sold our childhood home to move not too far across town. I was devastated. I loved everything about that house. From the overgrown bushes and hill that sat next to the house, to the historical cemetery that was nestled between the trees. I loved the memories we built that I felt were permanently etched in the walls. Christmas morning waking up to run down the basement stairs to peak under the tree, to every birthday candle that was blown out at the kitchen table. So many memories built under one roof, to me it was personal. I couldn't imagine another family living there, making new memories. I felt as if I needed to protect it from someone else. Eventually I let go and in the new home we created new memories. Different ones. I realized that wherever my family was, that was home. Home to me is a sacred place. It's the warm bed inviting you to stay in it just a little longer. It's the cozy couch you snuggle up on with you and your loved ones after a long day. It's the sounds the house makes when everything is still. That feeling of peace when you pull into the driveway after a trip or a long day. That place where you can be yourself amidst a world that is always pulling you into different directions.

Wherever you reside, regardless of how may times you move or stay put home is the place that you decide to make your own. From the people that you share it with to the neighbors you feel are family, that's home. Your home should reflect all of you. Inside and out. It doesn't need to be perfect. It doesn't even need to match. It just needs to feel inviting, warm and loving. It's more than a home, it's a feeling. So decorate it with what you love, share the things that matter to you. Keep it happy, keep it light. But above all else keep it in your heart.

Whenever I am in the neighborhood I drive by Randolph St. I will always consider it home since it's still in my heart, housing all of the memories.

 

 

Perfecting the Art of Imperfection

I used to scan the whole house before I left for the day. I made sure the beds were made, there were no remnants from breakfast lingering in the kitchen and the bathroom was clear of towels on the floor. Then I started running late. In my moments of striving for perfection in my home I literally was cleaning and organizing myself into being late. "Being entirely without fault", that's how the dictionary defines perfect. In my moments of being in frantic mode, due to my past obsession with perfect, I've decided perfect doesn't exist, as a matter of fact I think the word itself should be removed from existence. If we spent every moment looking for perfection we'd overlook the details, the flaws that speak louder than perfection. They say I'm real, I'm human and I can't do it all. When we decide to let go of perfection and focus on what we can accomplish, what feels right for us, we have won the battle over being perfect. Ever notice the women on television who wake up with their make-up fully intact? I laugh at how in reality mascara would be smeared and our lipstick would be completely gone. My point is we understand the reality of our lives and where we need to focus on improving. Attempting to wake up with a face full of perfectly applied make-up is usually not on the list.

There are no judges waiting for us when we walk in the door handing out score cards for every bed that isn't made  

We juggle like mad in our lives. We juggle our jobs, family, running from here to there. All the while attempting to keep our homes in tact. Our homes are not meant to be perfect. They are meant to be filled with what we love, what makes us happy and only that. As we go throughout our day, our week and there are areas we feel we cannot control it's okay to let go and embrace the imperfection. Always stay within the limits of what you can accomplish. There are no judges waiting for us when we walk in the door handing out score cards for every bed that isn't made.

We have the power to decide what makes us feel free. Striving for perfection is not the answer, but rather striving to build on what matters most to us.

Breaking Up With Avoidance and Embracing Your Fears

  "Don't tell me the sky's the limit when there are footprints on the moon" Paul Brandt

There are things I've always had a fear of. Spiders, especially when they are on the ceiling. Heights, I've gone to great lengths to avoid them. Including taking the elevator not the stairs, even if it means wasting precious time waiting for the door to open. Confrontation, now there's a big one that's tough to avoid. But it can be done by deciding to hold in how you really feel and just be agreeable, avoid your feelings. Being myself. I struggled with that one for years by following the crowd and taking the road with the most traffic. Fear and avoidance are friends. They dance around together in your head and love it when you decide to take the safe way out. In fact I believe that fear gets stronger as you avoid the situations you fear the most. So what happens when you stare it in the face? When you decide to drop every fear and take the stairs, take that road less traveled by. That's when the magic starts to happen. That's when fear and avoidance decide to go their separate ways and you embrace fear like it was a long lost friend.

 Make a list of all the things you would do if you weren't afraid. Where would go? What would you say? Most important, how would you feel?  

Just as I always knew what I was afraid of, where my fear lived, I also knew what I wanted to go after. It was time to break out of that box and begin believing in my dreams. I simply asked myself the question, what would I do if I weren't afraid? Taking a practical approach to the question, rather than deciding to go skydiving, I made a list. I suggest you do the same. Make a list of all the things you would do if you weren't afraid. Where would go? What would you say? Most important, how would you feel? Take in that list for everything it is worth. That list represents your wishes, dreams and your heart's desires. Tack it up where you can see everyday and read it. Share it with your family and friends. Having a supportive group, even a mentor fuels the belief that you can make it happen! Then step by step begin to take action.

The significant changes within our lives are always subtle. They begin to take shape as we begin to grow and step out of our fear based thinking. Maybe you've always wanted to write a children's book but felt it was too far fetched of a dream. Start and learn the process, make the time. Open the doors to understanding it. Once you realize it is possible the universe will support it. That is true for any dream.

As we begin to embrace our fears and take action anything becomes possible. When I think of how far I've come and where I still have yet to go, it's exciting. Never stop growing, never stop believing and never for one minute stop dreaming. In order to fly we must let go of what is weighing us down.

 

 

The Closet Diaries- When You Have Nothing to Wear. Revelations from a Reformed Shopaholic

I have nothing to wear. That's a bold statement as you stand there in front of the closet just staring, not bothering to move anything around or dive in to really take a look. Just stand there thinking maybe the perfect top will fall off the hanger and magically appear saying pick me! Nope the blank closet stare continues. Most of the time we do have something to wear. It might not be exactly what we had in mind for the day or our night out, but it will do. So we reluctantly put it on and then go shopping the next day. That top that used to be the perfect thing to wear, isn't so perfect anymore. It needs a replacement. So the cycle continues. Well I was sick of the cycle. Sick of saying I have nothing to wear and then shopping to replace things I already had, because then I had two or three of them. My clothing was crushed together like a trash compactor in my closet. Filled with new and old clothes, waiting to be replaced with the next best thing. I could scream when I think of all the times I thought I had no clothes. I shopped for every occasion, and every non-occasion. I shopped when I had a bad day or saw something cute in magazine. I shopped, just to shop. So I did what any shopaholic would do when they are throwing in the towel. For one year I tossed items every week with the same enthusiasm I had as a shopper. I filled garbage bags up and donation boxes like it was an Olympic sport. Every week I couldn't wait to see what I could let go of next. But I didn't replace anything this time. I wore what I had for about a year and a half. If I got the urge to say I have nothing to wear, I just sucked it up and wore what I had. This wasn't easy at first, it was horrible actually. There were weeks I would wear the same pair of pants or yikes! the same shirt. These strange preconceived notions of never being seen in the same thing twice in the same month flew right out the window. I let it all go and I completely could care less. I became a reformed shopaholic and it felt wonderful. Then Friday happened and I said the dreaded 5 words, "I have nothing to wear"

My new gig requires a business casual dress code. I've been in jeans for the last 5 years. Then yoga pants on the weekend. I knew about the dress code in the interview, it was mentioned a couple of times. I just didn't let it sink in I guess. Won't be an issue at all is what I told myself, until I went through my closet. I looked for those black pants I used to have that went with everything, they were gone. Then I looked for my gray dress pants, which I had, but I seemed to be that size in another lifetime. My clothes all fit in one closet now, not three. They are perfectly spaced, organized by color and when you open the closet it's all there. Every single item I own. There are no tops that are going to magically appear. In this case...I have to shop.

Make an investment in your closet, one that requires a well thought out plan. But don't over shop.  

I'm not saying over shop. Don't over shop, ever. It will make you crazy, overwhelmed and lacking serious space. Space in your closet and lacking space within your life. Shop when you have to. Take inventory and try things on. Keep practical colors, items that you can wear with other things. If you haven't worn it, don't love it and don't need it then donate it. In my case a new chapter in my life has caused me to re-evaluate my closet, and created the perfect lesson in shopping. It is somewhat refreshing to know that this time when I head out to the stores it is not to buy a bunch of things I don't need and that don't fit. It is in fact to buy clothing I do need. Every dollar will be spent, not wasted. When I open the closet I will say, I have something to wear and I also have learned my lesson.

Don't buy it unless you love it and need it. Don't toss it if you need it and love it. Don't under any circumstances think for one second anyone cares that you wearing the same shirt twice in one week. If you are it's because you love it. When I head out to shop this week I can confidently say I need some new clothes, but I won't be over shopping. 

 

 

When The Time Is On You, Start & The Pressure Will Be Off

Time is a funny thing. Some days it drags on. The days that you swear the clock isn't moving, that maybe somehow time stopped. Almost as if it knows you are waiting desperately to leave your cubicle and head home, that you want be the first person in line at the bank rather than the last. Wanting the hours to pass so your delayed flight can finally take off. Other days you don't want time to pass, you want it to stand still. Those moments you are so fully engaged in life, where you dove right in and are having the time of your life. Your wedding day, the perfect vacation, time with friends and family. The thing about time, whether we are spending it doing something we love or waiting for it to pass, it also seems to somehow go by. It is the one thing in our lives we can depend to slip away from us. But I say don't let it, take the pressure of the clock off your hands and seize it. There's this dilemma that gets created when you are constantly planning, thinking and feeling you have to take action because you are against the clock. The wanting to get it all done, without ever focusing on what's in front of you. Working on one project and thinking ahead to the next. Tough to avoid in a world where everything is at our fingertips, we've somehow grown impatient. Truly deciding what it is we want to accomplish however cannot be done when we aren't focused and we are feeling rushed. So how do we let go of the pressure we've put on ourselves and decide to start without a race to finish?

  • Clear your head and grab a pen. Rather than focus on how you will never have time to start that project you've been wanting to begin, focus on how great it will be when you begin it. Write down the way you will feel once its accomplished and what it will mean to you when you've completed it. Pressure already feeling off? Now when the time presents itself, start. Jump right in and get going, without thinking about other to do lists you've created. Take it one decision, goal and project at a time. One day at a time.
  • Rather than a daily to do lists create a list of ten goals you want to accomplish that month, big or small doesn't matter. What can you commit yourself to? Throughout your day pay close attention to the moments that may present themselves to you as an opportunity to begin, rather than waking up and thinking I have no time to get anything done today. That thought process will boomerang itself right back to you and you will feel the pressure of the clock. Stop any dialogue within your head that says I don't have time. Clear your mind of the lists and instead focus on the here and now. I promise you the time will present itself in more ways than one.

We all have goals, dreams and commitments we've created in our lives and in our minds. We don't always have to beat ourselves up for not completing these tasks, but instead shift our thinking and focus on the reasons we set these goals...the end result, not the time standing in our way. So get out of your own way, clear your mind and relax. Then watch as the universe unfolds itself and presents everything in its divine timing.

 

When It's Ok to Hold On

I was taking a few minutes yesterday to clean out the bins in my home office and came across thank you notes I had received. They were a pile of thank yous from my clients. Whenever I am cleaning up I always have a throw away pile next to me. It usually consists of insignificant things. Magazines I'm done reading, old receipts I no longer need or a few pens out of ink. Things that you can toss without a hint of remorse. They are taking up space, collecting dust and ready for the trash. Sure these thank yous were taking up space in one way or another, but I couldn't let them go. Gratitude spilled from each thank you letter when I opened it. I read all of them front to back and smiled after each one. Think for a moment about how many times we say thank you throughout our day, even to perfect strangers. Thank you to the cashier for bagging your groceries. Maybe a thank you wave from our car window when someone lets us through the stop sign. It says I appreciate you, I appreciate they way you just helped me. The thank yous that come from those in our lives such as family and friends, or someone we helped- those are always truly from the heart. They speak loud and are full of gratefulness. They are meaningful and beautiful. You made someone's day with your gift, your words or your help. A thank you goes for miles in our lives regardless of where it stems from, three very powerful words.

I could not let those thank you notes out of my hand and into the trash pile. They didn't belong there, they had no place with the old magazines and post it notes with scribbled words. It dawned on me how hard it can be at times to let go of things we cherish, that make us feel good on the inside. Full of gratitude and at peace. So I'm keeping them, every single one. They are held together by a purple bow in my office tucked away neatly in a bin, as a reminder that I touched someone's life with my work. In this case it feels better to hold on, rather than let go.

When you are torn between holding on and letting go, sit for a minute and dive into how that item makes you feel. If it brightens your day, fills you up with gratitude and puts a smile on your face, it just may be ok to hold on.

How to Stop Saying Tomorrow and Start Today

  Procrastination is the art of putting off today what could be done tomorrow, or possibly waiting even a few more days....because well you're just procrastinating. We procrastinate at work when those little tasks come up that aren't necessarily a priority today, but before we know it they have become a priority and the clock is ticking to complete it. We procrastinate at home, and hold off on cleaning and straightening things out and suddenly we are frantically trying to clean the entire house because we're expecting guests. There are always unfinished projects around the house, mail that needs to be dealt with and you're saying to yourself  "I'll get to it". Sound familiar? According to a study twenty percent of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators (Carleton University, Ottawa Canada). So why procrastinate when it may be followed by panic mode, elevated stress levels and a general sense of lack of accomplishment because we've consciously decided to wait until the very last minute?

 

While the reasons may vary as to why we decide to put things off until the last minute we can certainly try to overcome these obstacles we set for ourselves. By beginning to lighten our mental load and deciding to take things on when we should, our stress due to avoidance as well as our sense of accomplishment will take off. I dont know about you but that sounds like a sweeter deal than being in panic mode. I listed some ways below that you can begin to overcome procrastination and embrace your to do list with enthusiasm and excitement! Well maybe in some cases, depending on the chore of course. Regardless of the task, always remember one important piece of the procrastination puzzle- keeping procrastination to a minimum will lead to a happier and more productive life.

4 Steps to Stop Procrastination and Start Today 

1. Zone in on how you're feeling before beginning a task. Feelings of stress, anxiety or anxiousness will combat your strategy to get the task at hand completed. Take a deep breathe, go for a walk, put on some relaxing music or your favorite song. Relaxing your mind and taking a moment to breathe will help you stay focused and on target. Once you begin your task those elevated levels of stress will melt away.

2. Take a break. Already? Absolutely! Taking a break when you mentally feel it's neccesary is important. Getting burned out from a project may lead you to stop in the middle of it and never go back to it. Keep your eye on the time and set a break schedule for yourself. Sometime 5 minutes is all you need to get right back on track.

3. Set realistic goals for yourself. If you have 5 outstanding projects you've been meaning to complete, write them down and give yourself a goal as to when you'd like to complete them. There are so many factors in our lives that can steer us off course. Be honest with yourself about the timing of your project. There are things that may take an hour and others that may take a month to accomplish. The idea here is to strive for that end result and be consistent and realistic with your goals. The less pressure you put on yourself the more likely you will complete it.

4. Make a schedule and stick to it by breaking up the tasks. This differs than setting realistic goals because it zones in specifically on the timing of the project. Grab a calendar, break out the tasks into smaller steps and write down the plan you've created for yourself to complete it. Make it work for you. Think for instance about deciding to clean out your basement. If it's very unorganized it could take a week. Before you get overwhelmed and decide to save it for a rainy day, break out those tasks into much smaller and achievable tasks. If it's a project that may only take an hour, commit to getting it done the moment you can. By putting the breaks on "getting to it later" you are slowly but surely opening up time into your day, week and month!

Procrastination doesn't have to dwell in and out of our lives. We can decide when to break the "put it off for another day" habits and focus on accomplishing our goals. If we are waiting for the perfect conditions to start we will never get anything done. So stop saying tomorrow and start saying today. Your future self will thank you for it.

 

What's With All the Stuff? 3 Fun Ways to Declutter

Our stuff is everywhere. It's packed in our garages, our basements and our closets. We have it sometimes hidden under our beds and stashed away in kitchen cabinets. Sometimes it's just sitting there collecting dust, other times it might make it's way to the trash when an unexpected sighting occurs. How does it all end up there? Years of living in our homes sometimes create these mountains of unused, unworn items. As time goes on we're busy living our lives. We're watching our children grow and doing what we can to keep them active. We're heading to work so that we can maintain a good life, take vacations and occasionally relax. We are also accumulating more stuff as time passes. Our inability to purge what we do have suddenly creates crowded garages, basements and at times just closing the door and ignoring it. So where do we begin letting it go? Enjoying life is #1 on our lists. Yes the cleaning can wait if it's a beautiful day. Sitting down on a rainy afternoon to dive into a book or watch a movie is also so important for our well being. Our ability to stay busy is just as important as the act of taking it slow. So sometimes when we think about the purging process we say to ourselves, I will get to it another time. Have you ever considered the idea that another time could be today, and that it could actually be fun? Starting today and going through the process will free up time in your future calendar. Having fun with the process might make de-cluttering a frequent occurrence. Those days when you're relaxing will be even more amazing because you will never say to yourself, I shouldn't be doing this when there is so much to get done. Here's 3 fun ways to de-clutter and a list of a few of my favorite organizations that make giving back not only rewarding but very inspiring.

1. One day a week create a challenge. Have everyone choose 5 things- 5 to donate, 5 to toss and 5 to bring back to where they belong in the house. Even if the kids aren't interested, you still just got rid of 10 things and 5 are back where they belong!

2. Take pictures of the rooms in your home that are cluttered then visualize how you would love for them to look. Visualizing in our minds how we want to transform our spaces is a powerful tool in starting the process. Decide what can stay and what needs to go, even take the photo with you to work and ask some trusted co-workers or friends. Before you know it you will have purged the space and now that room is your favorite spot in the house. An improvement in one room will spread throughout the house.

3.  When you shop have a one in one out challenge. If it's clothing head over to the closet and donate or toss an article of clothing, a pair of shoes or even a piece of jewelry. Maybe you purchased a video game? Head to your child's video game collection or even your basement where items are hiding. Donate or toss one item and that new item will replace it. This rule can be the same for magazines, kitchen gadgets and even books.

Here are links to some of my favorite organizations that give back.  Read their inspiring stories, share them with friends and thank yourself for a job well done throughout your de-cluttering journey.  Also look within your local communities for more ways to donate.

Shoe donations http://www.soles4souls.org/

Bra donations http://freethegirls.org/about/

Greeting card donations http://www.stjudesranch.org/shop/recycled-card-program/

Professional attire donations http://www.dressforsuccess.org/whatwedo.aspx

Toys http://www.secondchancetoys.org/why-toys-children

All items http://www.bbbs.org/site/c.9iILI3NGKhK6F/b.5962335/k.BE16/Home.htm

 

 

 

 

Everyday Inspiration

My Permanent Top Ten to Do List To do lists. They are ever changing and on going. They are written or typed up almost as if we have an automatic "list it" button that goes off daily. There are the weekly grocery lists, always the least or most popular, depending on how you feel about them. I am certain to carefully plan them out days prior to my food shopping extravaganzas. You may even prefer to plan your food menu list for the week, which could include your children's lunches.The appointment lists run a close second behind the food to dos. The appointment times and locations are always in plain sight on my fridge's magnetic dry erase board. Then of course the lists of gifts to purchase around the holidays or the decorations needed. Every occasion needs a list! I can safely assume these to dos have morphed into daily life assignments for all of us. As an organizer I recommend lists and praise them. They do offer a moment of clarity as you write down your tasks. In what could be a jumbled mess swirling around in our heads, somehow seeing them on paper offers us a brief sense of accomplishment as we cross begin to cross things off.

Two years ago I created a permanent to do list. One that is not defined by how busy I am or how I ran out of soy milk and eggs. It doesn't list all of the appointments my husband and I have, or the bills that need to be paid. The only change it does require is from within. It encompasses the broader aspects of our lives that we sometimes can miss out on because we are too busy making other plans. A midst the daily tasks of life it does help to put things into perspective.  I'm going to share with you my top ten to do list, or as I refer to it my "permanent top ten".

  1. Once per week part with one item in my home and donate it.
  2. Take time everyday to be a good listener.
  3. Be grateful for what I have, it is enough.
  4. See everyday challenges as a learning opportunity rather than an obstacle.
  5. Call friends and family every week to say hi.
  6. Go through one area of my home monthly that I feel needs some organization inspiration.
  7. Face fears and hesitations with confidence, never losing sight of my dreams.
  8. Replace I wish with I will.
  9. Do not let comparison steal my joy.
  10. Everyday be myself.

My permanent top ten.

Creating an Organized Closet

creating organized closet organized closet

Here's a photo recap of just a few of my client closet projects. The intention is to allow you to become inspired within your own home. Always remember your space is a part of your life and journey, meant to tell a story about yourself and those you share your home with. Every piece counts. Creating simplicity, organization and getting creative with incorporating the things you love into that space is so important! Maybe you are considering installing new shelving systems, similar to those pictured. Maybe you're just starting the purging process or strolling through stores looking into options for becoming better organized. Regardless of the inspiration you find keep one thing in mind, keep it simple and take it one step at a time!

Before heading to stores evaluate what you have and what you will be letting go of to determine what is needed in terms of storage. It can be overwhelming to see so many different ways to store items, however having a clear vision for your closet space is an important tool within the process!

The hanger difference! Before and after!

Closet before organize bins

Closet after organize bins

Items I used to give the shelving a little boost and incorporate organization, a basket and bin from Target and my favorite Martha Stewart labels from Avery. Take the initiative to work through those sweaters, tank tops and t-shirts that are taking up shelving space! Store them, colorized, in baskets to save yourself time. Use labels to identify the contents!

Shoe closet organization

Yes you can use shelving for shoes! The shelving units shown here, in the top right photo, are from Ikea. Perfect solutions to display heels! Once the shoe boxes were gone I was able to maximize the space by using over the door shoe organizers as well as pant hangers to hang the boots. Keep it colorized and like with like to easily grab and go.