Closet confessions plus a de-clutter party!

I confess. I am a closet clutterer. 


My living spaces look pretty good most of the time, aside from a pile here and there.  But I have a bad habit of shoving things into closets.  Until they start to look like this: Oh my. Whoa.

I also have a bad habit of putting off decisions about items.  Saving them and waiting to decide what to do.  Or just saving them for waaaay too long.  I have a strong nostalgia streak too.  So all that adds up to easily finding myself mired in clutter, even if it is hiding behind clean white doors.

However, I'm learning.  I'm changing.  I'm committed to tossing clutter.  I've made tremendous progress in this arena in 2013, and there are a few more days left in the year for one last clutter hoorah!  Look at what I did with this closet in just an hour or so!


Ahhhh.  Lovely. There's even an empty shelf - a place to store a temporary project out of sight, or just a place to rest my eye.  Feels fabulous.  It feels light.  Organized.  I recycled and tossed about 40 percent of what was in there.  There's some more stuff that probably could go, but I'm kind to myself about that.  It's great progress and that's perfect for me!

Decluttering is more fun when you have someone to do it with, so I'm inviting you to an end of the year Virtual De-Clutter Party! Six hours in two days.  3 two-hour blocks. December 29 and 30. Join me for all or part of it! You'll choose some spots in your home that need some de-cluttering TLC - maybe somewhere that looks like this cabinet that I just worked on!  We'll hop on the phone together and I'll start out by sharing some tips and tools to help you with the process, then you'll get going!  I'll stay on the line so you can call in and get coach-y help when you hit a wall or run into that thing that overwhelms you, or whatever.  Then we'll celebrate at the end of each block with what we've accomplished!  Sooo fun!

Want to begin 2014 lighter and happier with less unwanted stuff in your living space?  I know I do!  I'm so excited to do this in my own home and I can't wait to support you to do it too!  Come join the Virtual De-Clutter Party!  Click here for more info and to sign up!  6 hours of supported de-cluttering for a cool $39.  Chuck the junk and make space for all the goodness that 2014 has to bring!

Tame your to-do list with the 4 Bs!

091013 todo list
091013 todo list

We’ve all got to-do lists a mile long. Sometimes something languishes on my to-do list for months.  Or years!  There are just those tasks that I never get around to, and the to-do list starts to feel like a big shame list.  How can it be a week/month/year later and I still have those things on my list?  Ugh. What does your to do list look like?  Does it make you go, “Ugh”?  Then it’s probably not working as well for you as you’d like.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to cross things off a list – it feels great!  And I bet you love checking stuff off too. But strangely, as soon as I cross something off, there are three new things to add.  It’s never done.  It’s never empty.  There’s always more to do.  It’s like the little brooms in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice that keep multiplying and multiplying.

So I have some tips for taming that to-do list, since it’s probably not going away.  These come from my mentor, Martha Beck – and she’s one smart cookie!

They’re easy to remember – the Four Bs.

1. Bag it.  This is a really good one.  We have a lot of shoulds – I should go to yoga, I should go to that party, I should should should rearrange the towels in the linen closet.  Sometimes we even tell ourselves we have to.  I have to join that committee.  I have to do this myself so it gets done right.  Actually, you don’t have to do much of anything.  There might be consequences if you don’t, but it’s very freeing to know you don’t have to.  You can choose to.  Choose to join the committee because it’s important to you.  Or bag it and say no, you just don’t have the capacity to do that right now.   You have a choice!  And if you’re sleep deprived like most humans on the planet these days, maybe choose sleep.  I regularly bag all kinds of activities in order to get the rest my body craves.  And so far the world has not exploded because of it.

2. Barter it.  See if you can find someone who loves to do that thing you can’t stand.  This works great both at home and at work.  I do all the dishes, but my husband does all the laundry. I feel like I’m getting a great deal!  Someone else at work might love to organize, and you love to write and edit.  Can you barter certain tasks?  Can you trade?  You can also hire out tasks as well.  If it’s not getting done, and it’s stressing you out, maybe it’s worth it to have someone take care of it for you.

3. Better it.  This is my absolute favorite.  This works for anything.  Face it, there’s a lot of stuff on our to-do lists that we don’t want to bag, and that we haven’t figured out how to barter.  We’re gonna do them ourselves.  So how can we better it?  Think about your task and something you can do before, during or afterward to help you enjoy it more.  Can you play music?  Take a walk in a park before or afterward?  Buy yourself a little treat when you finish the task?  Oh, and here’s the cool thing about treats: Our mind processes all treats about the same.  A treat is a treat.  So a pack of gum or a magazine at the checkout to better your trip to the grocery is just as effective as something much bigger that might cost way more money, like a new pair of shoes.  Lots of small treats all day long are super-great for your brain, and help you stay happy while you’re doing your regular routine.   Take the dogs for a walk.  Enjoy a hot bath.  Play a game with your kids.  Look for ways to make others smile while you’re getting your work done.

4. Batch it.  I love this one too.  This is great for getting a whole lot of similar tasks done, like emails or bills or some other project.  Sometimes it’s helpful to block out a chunk of time and just do it all in one fell swoop.  Take a Saturday morning to straighten your closet. Block out an hour to clear up your desk.  Set a timer.  Avoid distractions. And then reward yourself with a treat when you’re done!

I love to help people with big dreams, but the reality is that most of our daily life is full of regular tasks, so enjoying those and really savoring all the little stuff makes such a difference in our energy levels and then gives us the boost we’re looking for to accomplish something big like writing a novel or changing careers.  So give these simple 4 Bs a try – let me know how you do by emailing me at or leaving a comment below.  I’d love to hear from you!

New space, new energy!

We have a saying in coach-land - your outer world reflects your inner world.  So if you're feeling stuck, jumbled, overwhelmed or otherwise out of sorts on the inside, there's often a part of your living space that reflects this. I see this with clients - they have a breakthrough and then they clean their entire home, or totally change their hair and clothes, or redo their bedroom, or toss all the old Tupperware in their kitchen.  And over the years I've seen it with myself.  Things that seemed so important to keep are suddenly needless clutter that is sucking my energy and making my space less livable.

My favorite example of this shifting is my new work space that I'm so in love with I can't even express it!  I now have a real place to work in my home - dedicated to just that!  The creation of this space has been in process since summer 2008.  That's when we converted the "junk room", which was basically like an indoor garage, into a serene space with French doors going out to a brand new deck.

Here's the transformation in pictures:  Before any changes, this space was a clutter repository and place to store the bicycles, cat food, tools, cleaning supplies and any and all other stuff we didn't know what to do with.  And it looked like this:

blue room
blue room

Talk about blocked energy! Then, when I quit my teaching job in 2008 and began working from home, the space became this - a complete transformation!

bamboo room 1 web
bamboo room 1 web

It was still where we stored the bikes, but there was a fabulous futon where I could work. I was always a person who worked on a couch or on the bed, partly because my "official" desk in our house looked like this - still surrounded by the piles of teaching materials that I hadn't yet given away, sorted through or chucked.  It was a repository for papers and stuff I didn't want to deal with.  If you could do an "energy reading" of the space, I'm sure it would read something like BLOCKED, BLOCKED, BLOCKED!  STUCK!  BLECH!!!


It was the Hoarders nook of the house.  I felt the energy suck from me every time I walked past it.  It didn't always look as bad as it does in this pic - sometimes the piles were small and there was nothing on the floor, but it was still a place for papers and other junk to go to die.

Interestingly, I've had a space like this in my life for as long as I can remember.  My childhood room grew messy fast.  Sometimes I got super-organized and fixed the room up just right, but it quickly deteriorated into paper piles.  The same thing happened in college. I had a place for everything in my little dorm room, but the desk was often the place where the disorder would start.  And I wouldn't ever sit there to work.  I would work from my bed or couch.

I had a friend in college who teased me about being a witch, because I could take my dorm room from completely wrecked to neat and orderly in about half an hour.  I just didn't have habits or routines to keep it that way. This continued once I was on my own.  I always had a dysfunctional desk space somewhere, and a whole lotta papers and junk around it.

So what's changed in the past week or two? Well, finally I have created a place to sit  and work, for real.  I have made a room I already love into a beautiful work space!  I feel all grown up and productive!  And my old desk area where that messy accumulation of papers was?  It's disappearing.  Nothing will be there soon, so it can be the new storage place for the bikes.

This transformation didn't happen overnight.  I had images of  beautiful work spaces on my vision board. I began collecting some little items that would eventually decorate the new area, like two ceramic bird candle holders in colors I loved. I just needed something to pull it all together.

Then everything changed with the big catalyst:  A table. My friend Elizabeth gifted me a beautiful round painted oak table that she no longer wanted.  Months before that, I had carted a bookshelf off the street, and added another piece of furniture to hold art supplies and other creative goodies.  But the table shifted everything.  Suddenly I had a place for those ceramic bird candles. And a place to sit and create.  With a view to the hummingbirds and blue jays outside.

Getting rid of the old desk space has shifted the energy in this house in amazing ways.  And having a place to "officially" work, that I LOVE, is making all the difference. I'm excited to sit down and get started, and then put it all away at the end of the day.

Here's the new space with the French doors open - it's almost like working outside!

sunshine windows
sunshine windows

And being a person who loves re-purposing and saving things from landfills and consuming consciously, I love the story of the table before I received it.  Elizabeth rescued it too, from a relative's porch where it was languishing.  She did the hard work of cleaning and painting it, and used and loved it in her home for years.  And when she was ready to let it go, having rearranged her space (she's an excellent re-arranger of spaces) she passed it to me.

Want to make space shifts in your own world?  Here are some easy steps.

1. Find a space in your home that you're currently not happy with.  Imagine that space just as you'd like it - no holds barred.  Cut out images, draw pictures, collect color swatches - just imagine away!

2. On a regular basis - daily or weekly or whatever feels good to you - take away one thing that doesn't resonate with you in the space. Something that doesn't belong, that no longer serves you, or that you just don't like anymore.  Toss it, recycle it, sell it, donate it, relocate it.  Then replace it with something you love.  Or sometimes, just as effective, enjoy the open space of having nothing there! My little ceramic bird candles nested among the clutter for over a year while they waited for their perfect spot - but seeing them there reminded me that eventually I would fix a space for them that was just right! Little by little, one item at a time, you'll transform your space.

3. If you come from a long line of savers (as I do) be patient with yourself.  Take your time and just keep paying attention.  Something you thought you had to keep a month ago might now be clutter and ready to be released. If you rearrange and toss items more easily, you may be able to speed up the process and make a big change in a weekend!

4. Watch for big items (like my table!) that will catalyze the change and help your vision from step one become your reality!  And when you have a personal breakthrough, note how your space might not reflect the "old you" anymore, and be open to making the new space meet the needs of your new self!

5. If you need to, seek professional help.  Find someone who can help you gain some momentum.  If you're in the New Orleans area, try Stasia with Clear the Clutter - she comes highly recommended!

I'd love to hear your stories of shifting space and energy in your home or work space.  What have you done to create a space you love?