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One Down a Day


I’ve been thinking for a while about ways I can de-clutter, simplify, or just plain uncomplicate my life. I wrote a poem in a previous post called Simplicity. That was my real moment of inspiration and I have made some progress having had several donation days since then.

article-new_ehow_images_a08_c1_fr_calculate-donation-based-original-value-800x800But simplifying isn’t something that happens overnight. Life is still busy, kids are still at home, antiques and beautiful items still call to me. So what’s the next step for me? I think I’ve found it and I’m calling it “One Down a Day”. The concept is simple and intuitive – each day I will go through my home – closets or collectibles, and reduce by one item. I might donate it, consign it, or just simply throw it away. I won’t stop with my periodic donation clean outs – those are important to make big progress. But I figure with one less “thing-a-ma-jiggy” in my house each day, I know a year from now when I look around I will feel life is truly simpler. Oh, and there’s one rule – for anything new that comes in (except for gifts that will leave), I have to make room for it by getting rid of something else. This way I keep up the progress and avoid the creep that happens when shopping.

What do you think? Are you looking for more simplicity in your life? Tell me how you are tackling your un-complication and be blessed!!

Tiny Fawn Gift


Yesterday I was graced to see a family of deer crossing by while at a SoulCollage®  class. The entire group was delighted by the brief sighting, which included the smallest little fawn we had ever seen. It was about the size of a medium-sized dog. The legs were so fragile and you could tell it was tentatively and trustingly following mama very closely. It was a sweet moment in my day.

In addition to it being a tender moment of appreciation of the beauty of the animals it made me think of my role as mother.  Right now I’m in that in between stage with my children. They are legally adults and starting to create their independent lives. And yet they are still within reach as they live at home. Well, ok to be clear, they sleep at home. While I no longer direct their moves there is comfort in knowing they are not too far yet. They can reach back to me in a moment of need. They are still close enough that I know their friends. I have some view into their daily lives. I am close enough to see their bold and courageous  moves out into the world. I  am proud that they have kept the essence of what I taught them. They are kind, morale young people with a creative spirit. They are so different from each other but I can recognize myself in each of them. There is something beautiful in awareness. I hope they have learned well and carry with them the best in me.

Yes, that little deer family gave me a gift yesterday. They allowed me to take a moment of awareness to look at my own family with appreciation and gratitude. Nature always seems to bring a gift when I take a moment to really see it.

I am blessed. Be blessed too!

Whiff of Heaven


Once a year I get a little whiff of heaven. You see, while I enjoy all the flowers, bushes, and trees that go on colorful parade in the Spring, I have one favorite. The lilac – she is a delicate beauty that fills the air with a heady sweetness delighting my senses. From the wide range of pinks, whites, lavenders, and purples I bask in the beauty of her gown. With her fragrance I am blessed with sweet memories of both my Grandpas, who had lilacs in their yards. It also brings back sentimental moments, sitting with my kids on the swing in the yard. In those moments I enjoyed both the fragrance of lilac’s sweet perfume and the music of my children’s voices as they shared their day and their confidences with me. Both such fleeting, precious treasures. It is a breath of heaven that is a treat which  lingers in the air for such a brief time that it leaves me longing for more.

This is the week my lilacs are in full bloom and I’m delighted to be off work for a few days. It gives me the opportunity to smell them all through my house, and even in my dreaming hours. It is the small blessings that make each day a treat.

Here’s a picture of a bouquet on my bedroom dresser that lulls me to sleep and wakes me with the first breeze of my morning. Enjoy my favorite and be blessed!

Emotional Rituals


A long time ago I consciously realized how much humans are a ritualistic people. I don’t think we actually measure the passage of time by the clock or the calendar, but rather we mark time through rituals and ceremonies. We create rituals for weddings, births, deaths, graduations, birthdays, wins and losses in sports, promotions, retirements, holidays, new years, and the list goes on and on. They are all important rites of passage that help us mentally shift from one circumstance to another. I believe that’s why traditions are so important for people. They are the actions that mark time and the shifting of seasons. It’s how the human brain allows things to end and begin. It helps us with the difficult shift of change.

But there’s one area of life that we seem to neglect, and that’s emotional rites of passage.

Part of my work in human resources is helping with personnel issues. I started to notice that a lack of ritual was at times keeping people emotionally stuck. It showed itself when a project suddenly ended because of priority shifts or lack of funding and teams unceremoniously and abruptly disbanded. This left people with feelings of separation and incompletion. Sometimes it was when roles shifted and people suddenly found themselves temporarily without a manager. Without warning their career support system was just gone with no idea when someone new would be coming. They felt abandoned, even though they intellectually understood what was happening. Other times it was when someone was demoted and quietly moved to other work. This left a list of emotional stuckness for the person and sometimes for the managers who had to make the decision. People can’t always articulate what is in the way for them but moving forward seems extra hard or nearly impossible. I have learned some things from these struggles and have been able to help people create their own private rituals to make the emotional shift, thus helping them mark one time as over and the next to begin. I’ve seen it work time after time.

Because of that work, I started to notice the times when I am stuck because there was no ritual. I became increasingly aware of the need to create my own private rites of passage. I have found that it has made all the difference. Here’s a few examples:

> Going through a divorce and dealing with the sudden change at home was the first one I noticed. Sure there was the court date that served as ceremony for the divorce and marked the shift in marital status. But where I found myself stuck was with the sudden and awkward emptiness in the house. The way we interacted in the space had suddenly changed and I felt like normal routines were shifting like quicksand. In this case, the house wasn’t filled with loving family helping to box up or sort through personal belongings or memories as would happen if there had been a death. It was just me and my kids, suddenly and obviously filling and using the home differently. So I created a blessing ceremony. My kids and I lit a candle and walked through each room of the home saying a prayer of peace and harmony. I reclaimed the house as my own and blessed it. That made all the difference to me emotionally and whether they knew it or not, I believe it made a difference for the kids as well. It felt like I was “moving in” to my home on a new emotional level.

> As my daughter moved to college, and later to New York for her co-ops, I knew the moves were temporary but they were a shift in my emotions. I felt awkward and alone in a different way. I wasn’t officially an empty-nester yet but it was coming in waves. So after each time she temporarily moves out I have created my own ritual. This one always starts with a few tears. For those who know me – no surprise there! They are not tears of mourning as much as sentimental tears as I do a mini walk down memory lane of the little bitty girl who I’ve proudly watched grow up and become independent. I don’t plan on this part of the “ceremony” but since it keeps coming up spontaneously I’ve learned to accept it as part of my what I need. Then I will make myself a cup of tea or glass of wine and I sit and make a list of things I want to accomplish while I have this time of solitude. I follow that by viewing a favorite movie that I have enjoyed with her over the years and I mark the ceremony as complete. It really has made the transition go more smoothly for me when I’ve done this.

> When I was selling the home that I raised my kids in, it was on the market for 5 years. I had renters for a little while, but when they moved out there was a lot of cosmetic but costly damage. I worked hard and fixed it back up to sell. Through that time, although I no longer lived there, I found it emotionally hard to go through the house in its empty state. I wanted so desperately to sell it, but it felt like the house was clinging to me. I needed to somehow move emotionally past it in order to sell it. So one day I decided to do something different. Rather than avoid the memories and the emotional ties, I chose to have a releasing ceremony. Again I walked through each room of the house. This time, rather than claiming it, I released it. I sat in each empty room and allowed the strong memories to come to me. I smiled. I cried. I forgave. I acknowledged. I mourned. It was all about the people and experiences that had taken place there. I had loved that house so completely when I had moved in. So I energetically thanked the house for sheltering me and my family. I placed a drop of the essential oil named Release in a corner of each room and left a silk flower on the window sill in the kitchen as a gift-giving gesture. I verbally and ceremoniously said good-bye to that house and with a heart of gratitude I left the house differently that day. Yes, I know the house wasn’t actually clinging to me, but I was emotionally clinging to it as my “family” home. That ceremony allowed me to make the emotional rite of passage I needed to move from owner to maintainer. Shortly thereafter the house finally sold. Was it magic – no. Was there an energetic and emotional shift there – absolutely!

Those are a few examples of ceremonies that I have created. They have worked so well for me and I’m thankful that I learned to be conscious of my emotional/mental need for ritual. I encourage you to look for the places where your heart is stuck. Do what works for you as a ceremony. And be blessed.

A Lavish Giver


Today I did something that I never dreamed I ever would. I had lunch with my sister. What?! That’s nothing you say? But it is to me. You see I grew up in an orphanage and was adopted as an older child. The last time I saw this sister I was 18 years old. It wasn’t a particularly pleasant last meeting and I had no intention or inkling that I’d ever see her again.

I grew up, married and had children. I divorced and moved forward. I got my degree. I raised my family. I have a successful career. The pain of my early childhood has been mostly healed and put aside. But something changed over the holidays and I felt that, now in my mid-life, I was ready to let the two sides of my life connect. I reached out to this sister on Facebook and told her I was ready. So we planned lunch. For a week I’ve been feeling a bit nervous. Would I even know what to say?

Fast forward to today. Lunch turned into a 4 1/2 hour visit. For the most part I was speechless but there were things that needed to be said and to be heard. There were a few tears but not many. There was a little awkwardness but not much. I could see the resemblance that comes from “nature” however I have to say I did not see the resemblance that comes from “nurture.” Our lives had such a drastically different trajectory and I was left feeling and knowing that I have been blessed. Richly, deeply, and undeservedly blessed.

My parents (no, not the two people that birthed me, but the ones that raised me) have given me the greatest gift of unselfish love that one human being could give to another. They saved my life. They gave me stability, discipline, guidance, opportunity, and love. They took a small girl who felt unwanted and gave her a home. I tease my Mom to this day that she was the “meanest” Mom in the world and I thank her for it.  She gave me boundaries and consequences. She gave me chores and rewards. She gave me rules and punishments. She gave me a chance and a life. She gave me an education and allowed me to make mistakes and be forgiven. Well, she wasn’t alone – she did it along with my Dad. He is the strong, silent type who worked hard and showed me what a true work ethic looks like. He role modeled patience and self-discipline. He made me feel safe. He carried me when I pretended to be sleeping. He taught me to catch a ball. Ok, I fibbed a little – he TRIED to teach me to catch a ball but I always closed my eyes and ducked. He taught me to drive and to not drink things that fizz along side beer. You know – the practical things that Daddies do.

These two naive and courageous newlyweds opened their home to a ragamuffin child with a lifetime of hard knocks, built-in fears, baggage, and bad habits and they loved me into being a woman of integrity, intelligence, and family values.

So today I regained a start to a relationship that was long ago abandoned. I now know details I never had before. Some I regret had ever happened to anyone let alone children who were my siblings. And I now have a picture of me as a baby – something I’ve never had younger than 2nd grade.

And I remember with great emotion, many hugs, and a boatload of tears, how much my parents  love me. I see with deeper clarity the things that they did to rescue me emotionally and physically. There are not enough words in the English language to tell them how much I appreciate what they have done for me.

And I also am acutely aware that  my God is a lavish giver! He gave me the strength and stubbornness to be resilient and to be a survivor. He gave me healing and mending. He gave me a family.

I am indeed richly, deeply, and undeservedly blessed! I am grateful!