Whether we are talking about a project, a routine, or a whole life, there is something very satisfying about a reset. To stop and capture the status of our situation and regroup before reengaging, in my opinion, is a worthwhile pause. Sometimes this looks like brainstorming, journaling, or rewriting a task list. Other times, it may look like cancelling plans, clearing out a garage or office or pantry. A fresh list, outline, or shelf can go hand in hand with a fresh outlook. Spring is just around the corner. What will your reset be?
There are several different types of clutter, and one that we don’t talk a lot about is emotional clutter.
Emotional energy is designed to move through the body, and with light emotions like joy, peace, and love, they do. Those feelings are easy to feel, so there is no reason to supress them.
But we tend to want to avoid or suppress the denser, heavier emotions of fear, grief, anger, or other unpleasant feelings, some of them being a result of trauma. Where do those emotions go if we consciously or unconsciously deny them? They settle into the body of course.
I cringe to think of all the things that are said to prevent people from feeling their feelings, such as Be a big boy (or girl) and don’t cry, Leave the past behind (without processing it), Don’t be so sensitive, Distract yourself with this, and Stay silent (this one isn’t said outright, but is communicated covertly). It’s no wonder there are a lot of clogged up humans walking around.
Emotional clutter compromises our energy, our happiness, and our physical and mental health. I cannot think of a worse kind of clutter to have. So while we are clean -eating and clean-sweeping, and clearing our calendars, we can’t forget to breath, get out of our heads, resist all the available distractions, and allow all the feels to come through.
Sometimes doing our best means having a day in which we make great strides on a personal or work project, or help someone else out, or simply stick to our new improved routine and habits.
Other times, doing our best may mean simply prioritizing one thing, and doing that.
Today was a “one thing” day for me. After a lengthy, unpleasant morning appointment, all I wanted to do was go home and rest for the remainder of the day. And I did rest. But at some point, I started to feel like I would regret doing absolutely nothing for the rest of the day. Doing just one thing felt doable and sensible.
So I brought my laptop to the couch where I’d been having my do nothing day. I organized some book edits. That felt good, productive, painless. It was just one thing. But it led to another. And another. Now here I am writing this blog post, because it’s Monday after all.
When we feel like doing nothing, sometimes that is what we need. And having too many things to do can be overwhelming. But I find if I pick just one thing, and do that, it starts a momentum, and other things follow.
Everyone can do just one thing, even on a bad day.
If you believe that everything is connected, then it makes perfect sense that doing even one small thing can improve everything else.
Let’s just take the example of our home or work environment. If it is messy, chaotic or disorganized, it tends to make us feel lazy, lethargic or overwhelmed. Cleaning it up leads to clarity, and calm. If we feel peaceful and clear-headed, we do better work, make better choices, perhaps even eat better. We feel better.
While working to meet my writing deadline, I’ve let some other things go for a while; seemingly less important things like chores and organizing my workspace. I noticed this was fine for a few days in a row, but then I’d hit a wall. I needed to simply give time to the tasks I’d fallen behind on in order to have clarity of thought and continue being productive. Doing so felt like a shot of good energy to my creative brain. It was so worth the time it took to rewrite my writing task list, clean off my desk, put the laundry away, update my calendar and return the pertinent emails or calls.
Taking fifteen minutes, an hour or even a day to regroup can really recharge our mindsets, our energy, our motivation; it’s all connected.
*Note: About three weeks ago, I mistakenly included a post about a new site with book information. That note was meant for readers of my old site. This blog which is part of danalaquidara.com is indeed my current site and it will include all updated book news. You are in the right place! Read on.
Most of the time, before we can take on the world, we need to deal with what is right in front of us. It is my experience that in order to meet our goals and aspirations, or to simply live by our values, it serves us well to narrow our focus.
I don’t mean to imply that we shouldn’t have big audacious goals or that we need to play small. I mean that taking the obvious, sometimes monotonous, small steps is the surest way to clear our own path.
These small steps could mean meal planning, or spending just fifteen minutes on a project, or even cleaning out a closet. It could mean resting or making a to-do list or doing the laundry. We’ve got to manage our selves and our immediate environment if we are to be any good to others.
I can think of at least three well-known creatives who called out to God in times of desperation, from their bathroom floors. Why do women tend to cry on bathroom floors? It’s kind of gross. Anyhow, the answers to their cries came as directions or powerful urges to GO TO BED, and CLEAN YOUR ROOM.
We make life more complicated than it has to be when we try to skip the next right thing; the thing that is so simple, so small, that we are tempted to dismiss it. When we do this, we miss out on the clarity, momentum, and peace that is meant for us.
What I love most about a minimalist philosophy is that it can cover our inner and outer worlds, our belongings, habits, thoughts and defenses. It is not a mindset in adding, doing, changing, but rather one of uncovering. Simplifying is subtractive, not additive. It is stopping the critical thoughts, removing what is blocking your innate joy, peace, and authentic self.
Here is an analogy: If your diet was poor and it caused your body to feel bad, and so you added some healthy food on top of your daily junk food, that would not solve the problem. But if you first eliminated what was making you feel unwell, you’d start to feel better pretty quickly. That is an oversimplification, but you get the idea.
There is so much information available on how to improve ourselves, and information is good. But it also makes it easy to busy ourselves with strategies and distractions while avoiding what we need to stop doing, saying, thinking, judging, avoiding.
I think we are already amazing, powerful, creative and good. We just have to remove all that stands between us and our true selves.
Linda Cliatt-Wayman is a successful leader in education and is powered by her belief in the potential of all children. Her love, passion and unwavering focus on improving the future of children living in poverty is admirable and inspiring. I am not sure how I missed her acclaimed Ted Talk in 2015, but I am glad that I came across it this year. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe2nlti47kA.
She invoked powerful methods to transform a Philadelphia school and there were no tasks too big or too trivial on her watch. First and foremost, she made the school a safer place. Everyone knows children cannot learn while they are scared, uncared for and unloved. In addition, she upgraded the aesthetics of the school by recycling or discarding unused furniture and materials. The school went from chaotic and filthy to organized, orderly and colorful.
Doesn’t everyone deserve an environment that is safe and pleasing? How wise to recognize the importance of the physical environment in showing students – or anyone- that they are worthy human beings.
What a remarkable leader. If you have not yet seen her Ted Talk, I invite you to watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe2nlti47kA
I want to pivot back to the kitchen today and express my love for a clean and organized refrigerator. I know it may sound trivial to some, but if it is true that “how we do one thing is how we do everything”, then I declare our kitchen habits are important.
A simple way to stay on top of refrigerator hygiene is to get in the habit of checking it before every grocery day. The thought of adding more food to a fridge that may have expired items, sticky shelves, or condiment chaos, is unappealing. On the other hand, emptying groceries into a clean and well organized fridge is a pleasure.
If we have tidy fridge habits, we will likely also have tidy pantry habits and organized shopping lists, and sensible meal planning patterns. One small area can have ripple effects in other areas, on peace of mind, time, energy, and health.
I invite you to try on this belief: Your best, most authentic life and Self are lurking just beneath the clutter and baggage.
If that is true, what is one thing you could do today to excavate what is buried? It could be something big or small; give something away, delegate a task, clear out a closet, throw out the junk food, face the old wound, have the conversation.
What would you do tomorrow and the next day to keep the momentum going? It’s okay if you don’t know what you might find. Sometimes we have to get through some sludge before we feel lighter. Just stay curious and allow the treasure to reveal itself.
My husband and I are helping to move our youngest daughter out of one apartment and into another. Due to the nature of medical school, and now residency, this will be her fourth move in four years. Moving is a lot of work and the more stuff there is to move, the harder it is. She has learned how to make do with the essentials and not accumulate – and therefore move- more than is necessary.
It got me thinking, doesn’t it behoove us all to live like we are moving? I don’t mean that we should never get attached to a place, or that we ought to deprive ourselves of things we really enjoy. I just mean that if we thought about what we’d really want and need to bring with us if we moved, what would we choose to leave behind? Can we let go of those things now?
It’s a lot of work to move. Packing and unpacking forces us to face every single thing we’ve accumulated. How much freer would we be with less?