Let it Go

I’ve been parting with a lot of stuff lately. We are downsizing, and so out of necessity and by choice, we have gotten rid of many physical things we no longer find useful. So far it’s been fairly easy to do and even quite liberating!

But I know I’m not ready to part with some things. And that’s OK.

As I was folding the laundry this morning I came across one of our towels. Instead of folding the thinning, blue- floral towel and putting it in the linen closet with the other towels like I’ve done many times before, this time was different. I held it close, folded it, draped it over a chair in my bedroom and smoothed it out.

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This was not just any towel, it was the “hair towel” that my mom used, the one that I used as a teenager, the one that I took into my adult life and the one that my daughter now uses all the time because, well, it’s the best “hair towel.”

It got its name from my mom because it’s thinner and smaller than other towels (the “body towels”), perfect for wrapping up wet hair on top of our heads after a shower. I never really gave it a second thought until now, but it has certainly earned some notoriety.

And so I think I’ll leave it smoothed out over my bedroom chair for a while so I can take a moment to focus on where that towel has been and decide whether I want to get it made into a pillow. 🙂

Deciding when, if and how to let go of physical things can be challenging, but letting go of old emotional patterns can be daunting. You know the ones, fear, self-doubt, grief, anxiety, sadness.

Most of the time I’m able to focus on gratitude and presence, but I do have moments, days, and even weeks of feeling less grounded than I’d like to be. Not really sure what precipitates these feelings but I’ve learned that trying to figure that out gives the negative emotions more room to set up camp and a tighter grip that keeps me from my self-care routine.

So I have to let them go.

I read a quote earlier today in Flow Magazine by German professor and author Wilhelm Schmid. He said,

“Telling yourself you have to be happy mainly results in being disappointed when you aren’t. A far better idea is to focus on what you are doing and experiencing, and to let go more.”

Reading this today really helped me since it made me realize that, rather than get pulled into a negative emotional whirlpool, sometimes it makes sense to just,

Let

It

 Go.

Less is More

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As you may or may not know (thinking you know by now), I’ve been leaning into minimalism for a few years.

Less stuff in my cabinets, less clutter on my shelves and counters, less clothes, less on my calendar, less in my diet and less living space as we downsize to a smaller home.

I have more space in my cabinets and closets, more calmness from clutter free surroundings, more time in my calendar to spend time doing meaningful things and when we move into our smaller home, I will have a home that is more suitable to our lifestyle.

I’ve noticed lately that my weekends actually seem like extended periods of time off. I have the time to do what I need to do AND want to do, like socialize and relax.

Weekends don’t seem to fly by like they used to.

This morning my husband and I carved out a few hours to visit my friend’s daughter’s bakery. We heard she had some vegan items on the menu and were pretty excited to check it out! As we were driving home from breakfast, we passed several neighborhood garage sales.  I realized that I had no interest whatsoever to stop and browse. Come to think of it, I rarely spend time shopping at all. I used to spend at least a few hours each weekend roaming the aisles of one store or another. Now, I only shop when I need something.

Less IS more!

 

Creating S P A C E for Me

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The more curious and open to learning new things I’ve become the more I’ve realized that creating space can make some positive changes.

Space in my closets

Means that I don’t have to spend time picking through outfits that don’t fit, are out of style or aren’t flattering.

I donate clothing on a continuous basis and strictly adhere to the “one in, one out” rule: I don’t buy a new item of clothing unless I get rid of one first. This keeps my closet under control as I continue to figure out my style and what works for me. I’ve gotten many tips from Courtney Carver on how to pare down my wardrobe, and hope to get up the courage for Project 333, her minimalist fashion challenge course (https://bemorewithless.com/project-333/), soon.

Space in my cabinets

Means that I use what I love and nothing goes to waste.

I’ve eliminated duplicates, use quality items and waste less food (hiding at the bottom of my freezer or in the back of my cabinets).

Space on my countertops

Means that clean ups are easier.

Less clutter makes me feel more relaxed.

Space in my social calendar

Means that I have time to do what is meaningful to me.

I’d rather give more time and attention to fewer things than rush through an overwhelming social calendar.

Space in conversations

Means that I am a better listener and that I am able to respond rather than react.

I used to let my emotions get the best of me and feel the need to react immediately. Oftentimes, after thinking about a previous conversation, I would see things in a different way and even regret some things that I’ve said. Although I’m still working at this, I feel like I am able to provide a more thoughtful response rather than an immediate reaction.  Sometimes, “sleeping on it” really does make a difference when it comes to emotions!

Space from TV and internet

Means that I am more engaged in mind and body activities (rather than things that are mind numbing).

I was raised on TV and admit that watching television is one of my favorite pastimes, but by watching less I can do more things, especially things from my self-care routine (like yoga and meditation), that have more lasting positive effects. Since it’s easier to pick up the remote after a long day, this can be challenging for me. What has worked for me lately is reducing my screen time slowly or putting my phone out of sight for a few hours or even an entire weekend.

Creating space means

More time

More quality

More calm

More meaning

More presence

More thoughtfulness

More creativity

More self-care

More gratitude

More love

More ME

The Sum of Small Efforts

Did you ever feel as if you’ve taken two steps forward and one step back?

I’ve been feeling this way lately, but my daughter’s dog  Ellie actually reminded me  to look at the big picture and that growth shouldn’t be measured by any one act. She’s so smart.

Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.

-Robert Collier

I may have taken a step or two in the wrong direction, like when I felt I was inconsiderate to a friend,  or when I’ve eaten too much junk food or been a couch potato, or even when I’ve been mildly obsessed with the latest Twitter rant from the POTUS (or the live video feed of April, the pregnant giraffe), but it doesn’t mean I’m inconsiderate, unhealthy or not mindful.

I’ve learned so much  about what makes me happy and healthy  and have been steadily moving forward. THIS is what defines me. I’ll never be perfect (and I’m not sure I ever want to be), but I’m moving in the right direction!

How did I learn all this from Ellie?

I smiled when I looked down to put on my slippers the other day. I found Ellie’s bone tucked inside the left one, the one she had chewed on months ago. Ellie had left me a gift! Such a sweet, loving act. THIS defines her!

slipper

 

 

 

Layer Cake Wisdom

Not sure if it’s that food has been inspiring me to think more deeply about life (read what I learned from a veggie wrap in a previous post here: https://beallthere.net/2015/10/17/a-lesson-in-perspective-from-a-veggie-wrap/) or if it’s the fact that I’m more open to learning these days. Either way, as Alanis Morissette belts out, “You live, you learn.”

This time the lesson began with a picture of a festive layer cake I saw on line. It was stunningly beautiful and I knew the moment I saw it that I wanted to make it and bring it to my sister’s house for Christmas. It was at least a foot tall and consisted of multiple layers (more than two) of snowy white cake and icing with flecks of red and green inside the cake (creating a tie-dye effect), and a dusting of the same red and green bursts of color between the layers, on the sides and on top of it.  It would be a show stopper!

The ingredients were pretty basic and I knew I could easily alter the recipe to make the cake vegan. The most challenging thing to find was the container of red and green “jimmies,” as I call them, or “sprinkles,” as you may know them.

After searching the entire supermarket in town for this pivotal ingredient with my daughter, we spotted the lone container of red and green jimmies in the last aisle on top of the ice cream freezer. Desperate to get the goods, we both lunged for the container as if there were others competing for it, and then laughed to each other about our silliness, since we were the only ones in that competition. We were satisfied with our “win” just the same and knew that no one could have rivaled our split second timing in making the jimmies our own and putting them in our shopping cart!

cake

My mind wandered while we were waiting for the movie to start and I was relieved that I remembered to bake the layers for my holiday masterpiece earlier so I could ice it the next day when it was completely cooled.  I felt happy that I was with my family of four as we continued a relatively new Christmas Eve tradition of going to the movies and out to dinner. My relief quickly changed to regret as I realized that I had forgotten to add the red and green jimmies to the batter! Just as quickly, I was back in my happy place again, seeing the humor in the whole cake thing. It was only a cake and it would still look and taste great.

The next day (Christmas), right before we left for my sister’s, I was ready to assemble “The Masterpiece.” After I put some icing between the two layers, I iced the sides and then the top of the cake. Just as I was about done, my daughter walked into the kitchen and asked why I hadn’t added the second layer of cake before I completely iced it. I informed her that I HAD added the second layer and we both laughed at how flat the cake was, in comparison to our muse.* I hadn’t considered that the vegan recipe might limit the cake’s height and it looked lost on its large palette. When we covered it in red and green jimmies, it looked festive, and I was certain it would taste great.

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We had a wonderful time at my sister’s and the cake looked and tasted fine. Even though it was drastically different from what my daughter and I had imagined, it was so much more. When my daughter thought back to the new Christmas memories we made this year she commented that lunging for those jimmies together in the supermarket with me would be one of her fondest.

As I continue to feel somewhat restless about and unsure of my future, my passion and my place in life, I am reminded that,

Life is a journey, not a destination

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Be brave, be kind, take risks, stay curious, embrace change, keep striving to make what’s in your heart and what’s in your head a reality, have self-compassion when you fall short of your goals, and know when to ask for help.

Happy New Year!

 

Peace, Love and Presence,

Jeanne

 

*If you want a good laugh, just search google images for “green tie dye cake” and you will see what my inspiration was for my holiday cake, and how much I fell short (but not really).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being Present Can Change Your Life

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When I first started focusing on being all there, it helped me dwell less on the past and worry less about the future. As I’ve written about in previous posts, I have incorporated many new things into my daily life that have made me less anxious and depressed and more present (and happy).

Minimalism, meditation, yoga, veganism, hiking, and writing are more than just habits in my life, they have become part of who I am and have changed my life!

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I’ve noticed that my weekends and time off don’t seem like such a blur and actually feel like quality time off.

Being present can change your life in many ways:

  1. Feel less anxious and depressed-By not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
  2. Slow down time by being fully present in each moment-And don’t we all want to slow things down a bit?
  3. Get to  know (and love) yourself more-Being present forces us to take a closer look at who we are and put some time and effort into areas that may need love and attention. This is not always comfortable or easy, but remember, no mud, no lotus!
  4. Develop deeper relationships-By spending more quality time with loved ones.
  5. Let go of comparison-Being present helps us focus on what works for us.
  6. Worry less about what others might think and don’t take things personally-Follow Brene’ Brown’s advice and keep a short list of names in your wallet of whose opinions really matter. Ask people to clarify what they mean rather than add your own commentary.  Most times people act in certain ways based on what’s going on with them rather than in response to us.
  7. Ask for what you need (in a kind, loving, “I” statement way)-Being fully present can really highlight what we need in any given moment and we want to acknowledge these authentic moments rather than ignore them. People have no idea what we are thinking or feeling unless we tell them! I have had to build up the courage to do this, but, I promise that with practice, asking for what you need gets easier.

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This time of year mindfulness has helped me no longer grieve the passage of summer and fear the thought that winter is around the corner (perhaps I grieve and fear a little, but certainly not as much). I’m enjoying fall for what it truly has to offer, beautiful weather, warm fires, gorgeous colors and delicious fruits and veggies from our local farms!

Peace, Love and Presence,

Jeanne

 

 

We Are Who We Are, Aren’t We?

we are who we are

For as long as I can remember I have experienced a range of feelings that made me feel  like I was missing out on life. Social anxiety, self-doubt and criticism, anger, fatigue, fear of failure and, at times, self-imposed social withdrawal. I had so much to be grateful for, but I never seemed content for very long.  I felt that this was my lot in life.

After all, we are who we are, right?

I think that so many of us feel that it’s impossible to make big changes and we just hunker down and “armor up,” as Brene´ Brown would say. Rather than focus inward, which is too painful and overwhelming, and wade through the heavy fog of emotions that never really seem to lift, we distract ourselves with drugs, alcohol, food, shopping, social media, work, over scheduling, and by accumulating, organizing and maintaining more and more stuff!

There are some bright spots along the way, but the years pass and we never seem to be able to lift ourselves completely out of the fog.

After all, we are who we are.

Well, I disagree!

Change is possible! But in most cases, things just don’t get better. We have to make an effort to work through what we’re not satisfied with in our lives.  We have to get to the point of being so sick and tired of hearing ourselves complain about the same things over and over again in order to take action.  Or, as was the case with me, we get a major wake up call. A big life change (or many smaller ones) or trauma can cause a shift in our thinking, feeling, what we choose to let into our lives and what we choose to eliminate.

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I’ve been on this journey for two years now and I have discovered so many things that have helped me be who I WANT to be. There are books, blogs, and e-courses that have inspired me whose authors range from everyday people, like Courtney Carver and Joshua Becker, to research psychologists like Brene´ Brown and Kristin Neff  (ALL superheroes in my opinion!). I’ve shared some of my favorite reads below.

Other things that have helped me greatly and which have become part of who I am are yoga, meditation, writing, nature and outdoor activities (especially hiking), minimalism and nutrition. These things help me focus on being present and positive and make me feel so alive! I am extremely lucky to have a supportive group of family and friends who love me unconditionally and who I can rely on for encouragement. I am so grateful for them!

It’s been a slow, DELIBERATE process of trial and error. It literally started with going outside on a daily basis and gardening- planting, repotting or even just weeding. I’ve tried many different activities and if I enjoyed them, they felt good and they fit into my lifestyle, they became part of my routine. If not, I moved onto something else. I’ve read things that have been extremely helpful and even life changing, and other things that have not really worked for me.

I realized that things weren’t going to change unless I put down the armor and started to move forward and pull MYSELF up out of the fog.

I want to encourage you not to give up! If you are not happy or satisfied and you feel it in your bones that there has to be a better way, then take action! Big changes can come from small steps you take on a consistent basis.

Try something different today. Take a walk, read a helpful book or blog, meditate for a few minutes, stretch, do yoga, go for a hike or run, paint, write or draw, eat better, or just sit in the garden and put your hands in the dirt. Start small. Baby steps. Slow and steady. If it doesn’t feel helpful, try something different. If it resonates with you and makes you feel good, keep doing it, until it becomes part of your daily or weekly routine. Once it becomes habit, experiment with something else.

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You might even try something called, “habit stacking.” Courtney Carver explains this as the pairing of two new habits each for brief periods of time, like a few minutes. Over time, you can extend the amount of time spent on each of these. I started with a short meditation (3-6 minutes) followed by a journal entry where I wrote 2 brief statements: a gratitude statement and an intention for the day.

Before you know it, you’ll have several things in your self-care arsenal! You can pick and choose which will be helpful to you on any given day rather than fall back on old habits that were more numbing than healing.

Reach out to positive, encouraging people who will support you. Embrace change!

I used to think that there was some secret to peace and happiness, but what I’ve discovered is that these things are well within our reach. We just have to make an effort to move in a different direction. Just like the lotus, we may have to go through some mud before we can rise above it.

My journey, with its twists and turns, achievements and setbacks is what life is all about and I’m glad to finally be in the game!

Here are some inspiring reads that have helped me along the way:

The Gifts of Imperfection-Brene´  Brown

Daring Greatly –Brene´  Brown

Rising Strong-Brene´  Brown

The Four Agreements-Don Miguel Ruiz

The More of Less-Joshua Becker

Buddhist Boot Camp-Timber Hawkeye

Faithfully Religionless-Timber Hawkeye

Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself– Kristin Neff

http://bemorewithless.com/

http://www.rowdykittens.com/

http://www.becomingminimalist.com/

http://www.timberhawkeye.com/