I think that as humans we are more willing to change something when it becomes too uncomfortable not to. This could be a habit, a relationship, an occupation; anything we have accepted as ‘good enough’ in the past.
Signs will have been there, perhaps for a long time, that something is amiss, inauthentic, or just plain not right for us. But it seems to me that it will often require reaching a painful threshold before we take action, speak up, change, set new goals or let go.
Life is so much simpler if we pay attention to the signs. We act sooner, waste less time and feel more in alignment to our true selves. Yet is takes courage too.
I have been very fortunate in motherhood with three wonderful, grown daughters whom I adore. Mother’s Day is a happy, celebratory occasion for me.
But last night as I was going to bed, I was thinking of all the moms who have been alienated from their children after a contentious divorce, as my mother had been when I was just four years old (the topic of my memoir-in-progress). I personally know a few of these mothers, and occasionally hear from others whom I’ve never met. They are loving, kind, deeply saddened mothers who desperately want to reconnect with the stolen hearts of their children.
I will not go into detail about ‘attachment-based parental-alienation’ because it is beyond the scope of this blog post (*It happens to dads too). But what I do want to tell you is that last night, without overthinking it or even pre-planning it, I reached out to a large number of these parents on a private online group, and shared my heartfelt thoughts with them. I just couldn’t let Mother’s Day go by without offering my understanding, empathy, and love. And they deeply, sincerely appreciated it.
What does this have to do with decluttering or minimalism? When we are doing our best to get rid of all that does not serve our best lives, including old beliefs, fear, and overthinking our heart’s desires and impulses, often what comes through are the most natural, aligned and effortless words and deeds.
As of yesterday, I added some much-needed structure around finishing up my memoir. I am in the editing stages of my memoir, but have gotten stuck there for so long, I had to do something different.
I suspect the only one to take longer than me to finish writing a book is Joy Imboden Overstreet. I learned through the #amwriting podcast that she ended forty years of procrastination when she finally published her book, The Cherry Pie Paradox last year. Yes, you read that right; forty years! Joy is in her eighties and described the great sense of relief she felt once she did it. Can you imagine? I can.
So to try and end my own procrastination, I joined a May Day Facebook group in which we authors will check in with each other every Monday for the month of May. It won’t be as motivating as hiring a book coach like Joy did, but it will help.
So, with the loose but added structure of my May Day accountability group, my task at hand for the month of May is to make progress every single weekday, whether I feel like it or not. Clear and simple, day by day, I am committed to moving forward. I just know I meant to have my memoir out into the world before I am eighty.
This is the day of the Boston Marathon, a race that takes place every year on Patriots Day in Massachusetts. I grew up just down the street from the start of the race, so it was tradition to see the runners off every third Monday of April. In later years, both of my sisters ran the race, along with an uncle, a niece and a handful of other people I know.
A half marathon is definitely my limit for running, and when I ran The Old Port Half Marathon in Portland, Maine last fall, I gained valuable insight. When my youngest daughter enthusiastically suggested I join her in the race, I went with my very first instinct which was to grab the opportunity. Had I paused long enough to consider the likelihood of failure, or the dread of running on days when I really didn’t feel like it, I would’ve said hell no.
Once I committed, I knew I did not stand a chance of finishing the race without a structured plan to train. I had rarely run more than three miles at a time, so this was new territory. I found a beginner’s training plan online and simply followed it like a recipe. And on race day, I met my goal of finishing.
I don’t necessarily see any more half marathons in my future, but because I had been following “the recipe” for months prior to the race, I kept Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays as my cardio days. The habit was in place.
The experience highlighted my need for structurein facing any challenge, or creating any habit that is important to me. Without it, I set myself up for failure. I believe this insight is what led to my intermittent fasting which I wrote about here: https://danalaquidara.com/2022/03/07/minimal-monday-4/
It is also why I recently joined an accountability writing group in which we check in each week to demonstrate our individual progress.
Left to my own devices, I can be unfocused and unproductive. Alternately, creating structure around my goals – imposing some deadline, accountability, or “recipe” to follow – I stand a chance of succeeding.
Recently, I had the opportunity to be interviewed for a podcast about healing. This particular episode was about the ways in which decluttering can be a tool for healing. I can easily talk about simplifying as a means to free up your space, mind, calendar and creativity. I am a fervent proponent of the many benefits; the freedom, the momentum, the lightness….
But when asked to speak of decluttering as a practice for healing, I have to take a deep breath. The topic goes straight to my heart and conjures up the experience of navigating my own core wound. Indeed, I do believe that decluttering is a tool for allowing and uncovering what needs our attention. Freed from distractions and clutter, we are left to face ourselves, to come home to ourselves.
The conversation took that deeper dive, and if I had to summarize it in one passage, it would be this:
My book, The Uncluttered Mother: Free Up Your Space, Mind & Heart has been nominated for this year’s COVR (Coalition of Visionary Resources) awards. My vision for this book is to inspire mothers to simplify in ways that uncover their magnificent, divine selves.
Pleaseconsider voting and please accept my heartfelt thank you!
I love the momentum that takes place while decluttering. Clearing off my writing space by putting some books back in a bookshelf led to me organizing the whole bookshelf. A few books got donated and the rest are now properly categorized. I no longer feel the need to keep my desk cluttered with writing books because if I need one, I know exactly where to find it now. Simplifying one area often leads to a desire to simplify another area. Best of all, as tolerance for clutter decreases, clarity and inspiration increases.
Iam so very grateful for the 5-star review I received on Amazon yesterday for The Uncluttered Mother! I appreciate each and every reader, and I hope my book continues to inspire moms of all agesand stages.
“The wound is the place where the light enters you.” -Rumi
This morning I awoke feeling especially committed to finishing and seeking publication for my memoir. It is my writing project that requires the most vulnerability, risk, and the biggest investment of time and heart and mental strength.
Several years ago, I took first place at Boston MOTH live storytelling event while performing a piece from my memoir-in-progress. I was recently able to obtain a recording of this event, although I haven’t played it yet. I had been very encouraged after that night at the MOTH – elated even- and I had high hopes for my memoir. But then everyday life and fear and the distractions of other projects kicked in and it was just so easy to deny how much time was slipping by without making a lot of progress. I had excerpts published here and there, but too often I let the work go untouched for weeks, and often months, at a time. Those months turned into years of a project that rarely saw the light of day. I was moving it forward, but at a snails pace.
I guess it has taken me until now to finally give myself the permission that is required to complete such a thing. I think that permission has been building, coming from many sources, both internal and external, but the bottom line is that I finally accept that this book is part of my purpose.
Shining a light on our woundswhile also showing how we are transformed by the wisdom that is granted, or the knowledge, or healing or forgiveness, is the gift of memoir. It is one way, my way, of being of service and finding meaning in a world where suffering happens.
Perhaps I’ve been a slow learner, or a fearful participant, and am finally embracing the work is that is mine to do. I am grateful to be all-in on this project once again, and this time to see it all the way through to the light.
If you have read and enjoyed this book, please consider leaving me a review. It would be greatly appreciated. I want to share my book with hardworking, overwhelmed moms far and wide. Reviews are an important part of making this happen. Thank you!
Like most of us, I am horrified and saddened by the war in Ukraine. It has me thinking about the rise to power of Putin and other authoritarian leaders, past and current, and about the terrible harm that stems from the abuse of power.
Don’t most problems, at their core, stem from an abuse of power? Disconnected from their authentic power, people seek destructive, egoic power. From psychological or physical dominance over a child, a partner, a family, a company, a race, a nation, or the Earth itself, when unempathetic, toxic people hold power, people suffer greatly. And how did these people in power become toxic in the first place? Oftentimes from someone else abusing them much earlier in life.
Contemplating this idea runs the risk of leaving me feeling hopeless and powerless; hopeless for the vulnerable, for the children, for a world where people can intimidate and control and manipulate their way to power.
But feeling hopeless just contributes negative energy to an already chaotic time, so what is the antidote to that? For some it is activism, donations, or prayer. I think for all of us, returning again and again to our authentic power, our true Self will contribute positively, collectively, to humanity.
Meditation, caring for ourselves and others, doing our own healing work, taking a single deep breath.
Moment by moment there is a choice to help tip the scale toward love.