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Ways To Find Calm In The Clutter

I walked to the kitchen this morning and was grateful for two things…

1. That I washed the dishes last night but a few items were still left dirty in the sink.

2. That the dining room table was taken over by a puzzle.

Funny how it’s the little things lately that bring joy 🙂

The thing is, for so long my home had to be perfect. If you walked through my front door you might have asked yourself “does anyone live here?”

I was proud of how tidy things were, how people commented on the beauty and flow of my environment, how everything was in place…. until the pandemic hit. 

While I sat in my clean, organized, and beautiful home I realized I craved a bunch of shoes in the front hallway, dirty dishes in the sink, and random potato chips underneath the couch cushions!

Why? Because that would mean life was actually happening and people I love were experiencing it with me.

I now realize the extreme need for order was a veiled sense of control. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE organization.

  • When my desk is clear and pretty with a vase of flowers, I tend to enjoy work more. 
  • If my bed is made before I start my day, my experience that day feels more settled.
  • How my keys hang on the little hook in the coat closet does in fact make me feel calmer knowing I won’t be running around searching for them in a panic while I am already 5 minutes late.

Yet with anything, there exists this dance with moderation.

  • The flexibility we allow within our schedules.
  • Being OKAY with the late night, Netflix binge watching oily popcorn pan sitting in the sink overnight.
  • Averting your eyes to the dust in favor of a present and mindful conversation with a friend. 

I knew I had encountered a positive turning point when my niece moved back in with me and commented on the “here and there” clutter by saying… 

“IT ACTUALLY MAKES YOU SEEM MORE…HUMAN”

OH…. M…. GEE

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry!

That comment has lingered in my heart and soul and has saved me each time I want to run the vacuum OR call my parents back…wash the dishes OR sit down and watch the latest episode of The Crown with her.

It’s brought me back to reality when I get anxiety about a missing remote control or glasses or airpods (funny how they ALWAYS eventually show up especially when the only places I go these days are the grocery store and on walks!)

In all seriousness, I’m grateful for the clutter.

No, I am not talking about extreme clutter that holds you down and drains your energy. I am talking about loving that Thanksgiving dinner had to be on the little pull out table in my kitchen because the Parisian puzzle my niece is joyfully working on is holding court on my pretty dining room table. 

I am talking about leaving the bed unmade on a Sunday in favor of watching CBS Sunday morning.

These and many other moments are where I have learned to feel a sense of contentment in what used to be viewed as “clutter.”

Let’s take it a step further and branch outside our home into “relational clutter”… in the form of friends, family, and colleagues. 

How “okay” are you with the messiness of life when it comes to differing opinions? There is a ton of that going around these days with the two big “P’s”…

POLITICS

PANDEMIC

Now more than ever, it’s important to be okay with this kind of clutter.

Everywhere you turn, you may have people in your life like I do who have differing opinions on both topics. For me, it’s been an experiment in being curious and (trying) to firmly plant myself in my own business while resisting the urge to control, judge, or change anyone’s minds. 

This mantra has been life saving and thank you Wayne Dyer for letting me adjust it a bit…

“What another person thinks of me and how that person thinks is none  of my business.”

There is freedom in letting go of the need to be liked and instead loving yourself enough to let go of trying to manage other people’s perceptions of you. 

When you release the need for outside validation regarding how pretty your home is or the opinions you possess, a sense of peace arises and you finally have the time to focus on what actually brings you joy, contentment, and calm. 

If you find yourself, like me, looking outward for control perhaps it might be useful to go within and investigate what you might be avoiding internally. Becoming vulnerable with ourselves, making peace with ourselves, and finding healing within ourselves is really the only kind of control we have in this life. 

So this week, if you find yourself freaking out about the clutter, take a breath and know that the answer to any roadblock or challenge lies within you. The world and any hiccups that come your way is an invitation into growth. 

I’ll leave you with 3 tips that have helped me navigate this sense of moderation as it relates to the many forms of clutter….

1. PCC

Pause, Challenge Yourself with A Question, and Make a Choice.

Whatever clutter triggers you, simply pause for a few breaths and ask yourself “how do I want to feel in this moment/during this conversation?” The choice you make will literally dictate your reality. 

2. Prioritize

Even though it’s driving you crazy having the pile of laundry sitting on your bed waiting to be folded, does it really make sense to quick finish it while risking running late to meet a friend?

Is it helpful to linger too long about a loved one being upset with how they perceive you or your opinions… OR would it make better sense to protect your precious joy and focus your attention on cultivating more of it today?

3. Focus On And Delight In “Mini Miracles”

The sun rose today just for you and there wasn’t anything you needed to do to make that happen. 

The rose tea arrived  (from “The Tea Spot” in Boulder, CO!..highly recommend) and waiting to be enjoyed this morning.

There are hundreds of things you could do today to bring joy… which one will you choose? Adopt a dog? Make banana bread? Host a Zoom family call?  (Need inspiration? Click here for my favorite “Tranquility Treats”

That’s it for this week my friend. I am off for a walk so the dishwasher, laundry, AND BED can be attended to later. Who would have thought!!! But it’s Sunday, right??!! 

Have a great week 🙂

Sending Lots of Love and Light,

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