Clear the Clutter

Recently I went on a manic “clear the clutter” blitz of my apartment.  While the blitz started off as a procrastination tactic it ended up being a perfect reminder of how much my creativity and thought process is impacted by what’s going on in my physical space.

I am in the midst of a transition, and I am often bombarded by thoughts like “What am I doing with my life?” “Where am I going?” “Why aren’t I clearer about what I want?” These are weighty and overwhelming thoughts, and they often get me stuck in neutral with no sense of how to move forward.As I unclutter my life, I free myself to answer the calling of my soul

Desperate to shake off this “stuck” energy I broke away from my brooding one afternoon and took apart my kitchen. Over the next week that was followed by a blitz of my closet, bathroom, laundry room and office. When I started in on my office I felt such a huge sense of overwhelm. How was I going to tackle all the binders, the paperwork, the miscellaneous though possibly useful bits and bobs I had accumulated in my desk drawers?

I wanted to stop as soon as I started. But I didn’t. I chunked the room down and took one area at a time. Before I knew it hours had passed, and I had shredded hundreds of papers, emptied a good 30 binders, had 7 bags of garbage and a huge stack of office supplies to donate. Feeling the resistance and overwhelm then chunking down the project to something that felt manageable was hugely empowering and liberating.

I know that everything is energy, and this clear the clutter blitz was such a wonderful reinforcement of that knowledge. The weight that I felt lifted off of me when I cleared out and de-cluttered an area of my home felt amazing. To let go of “stuff” that had sat stagnant in my home, untouched and unused was extremely cleansing.

While I still have not fully answered the questions that have been looming over me, I can unequivocally say that clearing some of the physical clutter in my life has helped to loosen my thoughts and open up my creativity.

I know I feel alive when my creativity is being fed, and I know that my creativity cannot bloom when I am carrying around sluggish, heavy energy. Feeling open, lighter, less encumbered is a far more productive and fruitful place from which to contemplate Life’s big (or small) choices.

5 Takeaways from Clearing the Clutter :

  • Everything is energy. Shifting physical “stuff” frees up my energy on an emotional, mental and spiritual level.
  • If an area of my life feels stagnant it is helpful to look at what might be stagnant in my physical environment.
  • Remember that clearing stuck physical energy always helps me unstick in other areas.
  • When the idea of de-cluttering seems overwhelming, chunk it down and make the idea manageable.
  • Each action, however small, is action and action breeds more action and more action breeds momentum.
  • Creativity cannot bloom in stagnant soil.

 

 

 

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Lessons From The Car Wash

For a long, long time I have had a serious phobia about the drive-through car wash.

You are probably rolling your eyes and asking yourself, “She’s afraid of the car wash?  Seriously??!”  Yup, seriously!

I used to love going through the car wash as a kid.  I loved the sound of the water raining down on the roof…the thump, thump, thump of the long cloth “fingers” as they moved up and over the car…the “WHOOSH” of the dryers sending water droplets scurrying away.

5 Lessons on Overcomign FearAll that changed one cold, winter night about 14 years ago.  I was living up in the mountains of Colorado running Verbatim Booksellers, the independent bookstore I owned in Vail, CO. My mum was flying in from the East Coast, and I was to pick her up after work.  Since I have a tendency to try to cram too much into a short amount of time I was running late by the time I left work.  I took one look at my car, however, and although I was behind schedule I decided I couldn’t pick my mum up in a dirty, winter-grime streaked car.

I pulled off the highway and raced to the local gas station and car wash, figuring I could get a quick wash and be on my way again.  It was dark that night, really, really dark, and the car wash was set up so that you had to make a super awkward left turn to get the wheels inside the guide rails and onto the conveyor belt.

I tried and missed.  I reversed and tried again, still not managing to get the wheels aligned between the rails.  I tried once more, over-correcting, and ended up getting my left wheels wedged between the outer rail and the payment kiosk.  Please note, I am a good driver, really I am!

No ifs, ands or buts, I was stuck, seriously stuck….and fairly panicky!  I tried to pull forward, I tried to reverse out but nothing worked.  Finally, I just had to gun it.  I can still hear the sound of metal on metal, scraping, crunching, grinding.  To add insult to injury my now mangled car was splattered with soap as I drove through the wash in an attempt to get out.

I finally made it to the airport, picked up my mum and explained what happened.  When we walked out to my car she just started to laugh…there at the curb sat my car covered in a splotchy, foamy mess of frozen soap with a crushed back left side.

With my tail between my legs I went back that evening to determine what damage I had done to the car wash. Amazingly enough there was not even a scratch on the kiosk against which my car had been wedged.  I seriously thought I had broken the car wash and was going to end up on the front page of the Vail Daily newspaper as the dumbass who had had an accident in the car wash.

Grateful that I wouldn’t be the laughing stock of my community I was still traumatized by the event, and since that night I had NEVER again driven through a car wash, preferring to pay the extra few bucks and hand over my keys to the attendant to drive it through.

 Fast forward to yesterday.  I had just driven down to Denver from the mountains, and my car was grubby and dirty. Once again I was picking someone up at the airport, and I didn’t want to show up with a filthy car.  Perhaps that’s the Virgo in me??!

It was a gorgeous day, and it looked like the whole city had turned out to get their cars washed.  The line was ridiculous.  I pulled up and told the guy I just wanted an exterior wash.  He told me to get into the relatively empty self serve drive-through lane rather than the full service lane I usually go through.  I looked at him with wide eyes, and with panic in my voice said, “But I don’t want to drive through!!”  He gave me a “hey crazy lady do whatever you want” look and just shrugged his shoulders!

Rationally I knew this fear was silly but it was still very real for me.  But, with the alternative being having to wait behind a boatload of cars for more time than I had, I decided to feed my fear a “suck it sandwich” and just go through the damn self-serve lane.   (credit for the term “suck it sandwich” goes to Jen Sincero, author of the fab book You Are a Badass)

 Taking a deep breath, I pulled forward following the directions of the attendant.  Managing to get my wheels easily into the track, I shifted my car into neutral and waited.  The conveyor belt started to move, the soft pitter patter of the water began and all of a sudden the little kid in me who had loved going through the car wash was behind the wheel.  I started to laugh!  This is what I have avoided for all these years?

While I may never, ever, go back to the scene of “incident” I know now that if I need to I can drive myself through the car wash without fear…a liberating thought indeed!  I also know that I still love the soothing feeling of being cocooned in the car as it is nudged along through the wash.  A simple pleasure that is now available to me again 😉

5 Things I Learned from the Car Wash:

  • Fears and phobias will be my loyal companions until I am ready to let them go.
  • The tighter my hold on my fears the more inhibiting they become.
  • Sometimes having to face my fear unexpectedly makes it easier to let it go.
  • Remember that it is up to me whether I allow my fears to hold me back or face them head on and let them pull me forward.
  • Things that I didn’t even know I was missing are available to me again when I let my fears go.

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What Exercise Means to Me

I recently read an article called “10 Things I want my daughter to know about working out” and it made me pause and think about what exercise means to me. To check out the article click here.

The crux of the piece is that the author wants her young daughter to know that exercise is about SO much more than getting your body to look a certain way in “that” dress or “that” dreaded bikini.

For many, many years I probably exercised, and over exercised, in an effort to try to “fix” what I believed was wrong with my body.   In hindsight I had very external objectives when it came to how I treated my body and approached my exercise routine. So much of my focus was on how my body was being perceived by others rather than on what having a strong, athletic and healthy body meant to and for me.Lessons from Exercise pin

Over the last few years I have begun to make a shift in my thinking about my body and the way in which I approach exercise. Recently, I tore my ACL in a ski accident. The injury, subsequent reconstructive surgery, and recovery have definitely tested, and in many ways, reinforced this shift in thinking.

Going through the challenge of not being able to exercise in the way in which I was accustomed, having to hold myself back from just “pushing through”, and really needing to listen to what my body is telling me has helped experience physical activity in a whole new way. I’ve had to slow down and tune in. I’ve had to quiet the voices and be patient with myself. And what a gift that has been.

I cannot say I am immune to how my body might be perceived by others, and the gremlins of years of a negative body image still chatter away, but without a doubt I know that much more of my focus and approach is about how I feel “in” my body, how my body functions and moves throughout my day, and what being strong, in my body, mind and spirit, means to me.

In getting out of my head and loosening up on the external and internal pressures to “workout”, I have come to appreciate physical activity in healthier and deeper way. I have found that I love to test my balance on the Bosu ball. I love the freedom I feel when I move my body to booty shaking tunes. I love the cleansing sweat of a good workout. I love the deep sense of peace and focus I get when I am pushing my physical boundaries. I love knowing that a workout can shift my energy, change my mood and clear my mind. And I love knowing that when necessary I can lug my over-packed suitcase up 5 flights of stairs!

Exercise isn’t about how my body looks to others or how my body fits (or doesn’t fit) the latest fashions. When I strip away all that negative chatter, I am coming to understand that exercise is really about tuning in. It is about connecting with my body’s innate wisdom. It’s about being present and centered. It’s about feeling strong, literally and figuratively. And most importantly for me, it’s about feeling empowered within myself.

Shifting my mindset from using exercise as a means to try to make up for what I deemed inadequate about myself to thinking about exercise and movement as a metaphor for how I want to live my life is not only liberating but also energizing

We owe it to ourselves, and to the young girls coming up behind us, to recognize and celebrate that exercise, movement and strength brings so much more into our lives than a certain dress size.

4 Things I’ve Learned from Exercise:

  • Moving my body feels good and makes me feel alive!
  • It is up to me how I choose to experience my body as well as what significance I want exercise to have in my life.
  • What I gain from exercise goes way beyond the physical. It impacts me mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
  • My body is my partner not my adversary.

 

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Creating as a way of life

Being Creative is not a hobby it is a way of lifeIt doesn’t matter to me that I am no great artist; the desire to create in form or idea is a pulse that runs deeply through me. At the heart of my experience with creativity is the idea of taking separate pieces and putting them together to create a new whole, literally and figuratively

There is a feeling of aliveness, grounding and freedom that I experience when I am in the process of creating. For me, creativity comes in many different forms and flavors. Wrapping a gift, vision boarding, doodling, cooking, brainstorming – all these things and more get my creative juices flowing.

When the wheels of creativity are turning I find myself shifting into a meditative state where I can let my mind take a break and just be in the moment – a hugely liberating experience for me!

Creativity helps me to not take myself too seriously. It allows me room to play. It gives me an outlet to express who I am. Creativity truly is a way of life!

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My internal GPS

My brother nicknamed me “Emotional Sue” (Susan being my middle name) because I’m a big “feeler”. The nickname comes with a bit of an eye roll, but I can’t deny that the shoe fits…really well! Without a doubt I approach the world feelings first.

I am in charge of how I feelMy feelings are my internal GPS. They show me my route and steer me towards what I want. At the same time they signal, sometimes quite vociferously, when I have made a wrong turn and have gotten off track.  My feelings let me know where I am in my life, and I have discovered that they are not something to ignore if I want to live a life of authenticity, connection and courage. (more…)

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