Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Little Helpers

I have two very willing little helpers, a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old.  If I make a task small enough, they very gladly and joyfully will do their best at it.  If a job is not done "perfectly" is it still beautiful?  What is the beauty?  Is it really in the aesthetic, or the energy put into it?  How am I defining and evaluating the beauty that I so deserve?

My 5-year-old recently requested a job, so I assigned her to dusting, and she declared it would probably be better to un-dust everything.  I coached her a bit while I was vacuuming.  Her heart really was in it, and she dusted as well as one can anticipate from a child her age.  The dining table is smeared from how much she rubbed it, and the bookshelves are still untouched, but my rocking chair has one very shiny rocker.

Do I count this as the weekly dusting completed?  Do I redo it after she goes to bed, or do I recognize the love and joy she put into it and see beauty there?  I will dust again in a week or two, maybe I'll give her a different job next time around.  Maybe I'll rotate her tasks so she can see what dusting looks like when a grown-up does it, while she gives something else a shot.

I asked her to change out the towels.  With great care she took down every towel in the house, including the kitchen towels, and replaced them with clean ones.  She took the Cars2 beach towels and hung them in the kids' bathroom.  This is not beautiful by adult standards, in fact it is a bit unnerving when you sit across from it.  But she emerged from the bathroom and declared it beautiful.  I see beauty in her effort, I see beauty in the pride she feels in a job well done.  She deserves beauty in her life.

My focus has been on the beauty I know I deserve, and now my focus is widening.  What about the beauty the rest of my family deserves?  I am not required to give it to them, they need to find it or create it on their own.  They are no more responsible for the beauty in my life than I am for theirs.  How do I share a home of beauty, when we all have different standards?

The most beautiful thing in my life is the love of my children, and that of my husband.  Our family is built on love, and I treasure that more than any aesthetic I could create.  My definition of beauty is shifting a little bit from where it was even a week ago.  Cleanliness and order are gradually becoming more valued in my home, and despite a few hiccups, I am still feeling driven and successful.  The balance I am seeking is finding where the beauty actually lies beneath the surface of the things around me.  The aesthetic beauty is the obvious first step, but there is also beauty in being able to be surprised and giggle at the state of the silverware drawer after the 3-year-old reorganizes it.

This is a greater, deeper beauty which I have only recently come to terms with.  The obvious messes and clutter were clouding my vision, and blocking my ability to see other forms of beauty.  Now that I am on a path to tidiness and cleanliness, I have nudged aside the roadblock, and intrinsic beauty is making itself known.

I DESERVE the beauty that comes from a tidy, clean home.  My children DESERVE the beauty of feeling proud for helping.  My husband DESERVES the love and joy that comes from a harmonious household.  My family DESERVES the beautiful love we share.  I DESERVE the beauty of a half-dusted rocking chair, because there is love and joy present in each streak.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Conscious? Not Yet.

Living consciously and staying aware of myself are proving to be a massive challenge.  Sometimes it feels like I'm focusing on failure because I am constantly having to bring myself back to now.

While kissing my husband, I had to remind myself three times to focus on what I was doing and the feelings I was enjoying.  I started thinking of work, then about what time I had to get the kids, then what's for dinner.  Each time I had to stop my thoughts and bring them back around to the moment.  I started feeling ashamed that I couldn't just turn off my monkey-brain long enough to focus on my husband and sharing love with him. This is not shameful, this is real.  I am continually hopeful that with each monkey-brain situation that arises, I can be more able to allow my brain to return to now.

Taking my daughter to Kindergarten this morning, I was celebrating with her that this week is her turn to be "Star of the Week".  She made a profile to hang up, and took some treasures for a special show-and-tell.  We were on time, and we were chatting.  I made her a special lunch, and she got to wear her fancy "high heels" to school for the occasion.  What I didn't notice:  I left my cell phone upstairs, and I didn't close the door to the garage all the way.  I was only partially present in the now.

When I got home, there was a Pierce County Sheriff vehicle in my driveway and an officer walking around my home.  I had set the alarm, and it had gone off and notified the alarm company...who called my cell phone, then my husband, then my mother-in-law.  My husband called 911 and had them come check things out.  I cleared things up with the police (a second Sheriff vehicle showed up while I was explaining), and went upstairs to grab my phone.  There were 11 missed calls.  My husband drove all the way home from work in a fright.  I had to make several phone calls and apologies this morning.  I'm working through the embarrassment.  

My confusion now is...what did I do wrong?  There were two very important now situations that required my attention.  Living fully in the present can't be monocular, because sometimes Mommy has to do more than one thing at a time.  How do I find that balance?  I needed to celebrate with my daughter about her big day and help her be ready for it, but I also needed to set the alarm and make sure I had my cell phone.

These things were not happening at the same exact same time, but there was a certain amount of shifting back and forth of my attention.  How do I focus on now when there are two different things happening now that are requiring my attention?  How do I keep either one from suffering when both are important?

I believe my subconscious is trying to help me.  After I got into the garage, I realized I didn't have my cell phone.  Twice on the way to school, I felt my purse and realized it was missing.  On the way home I was reminding myself to go up and get the phone right away and put it in my purse.  I was not present in the now of driving.  I'm so confused.

My unfocused, unconscious state this morning had an impact on so many people.  It was a real wake-up call about all of the work I still have yet to do.  I feel a bit deflated because I have been feeling so good about my progress to this point.  Being reminded of how far I have yet to climb is discouraging, it is not a beautiful feeling.  I am trying to come to terms with the fact that all I can control is now.  I made a mistake, but there is still beauty right now.  I was unconscious this morning, but I can strive to be fully conscious now.

I DESERVE to be a conscious human being.
I DO NOT deserve to be punished for when I slip.

I DESERVE the kindness and compassion my husband showed me this morning.
I DO NOT deserve this feeling of discouragement.

I DESERVE to listen to my subconscious and give its voice some credit.
I DO NOT deserve to constantly be second-guessing my instincts.

I DO NOT deserve embarrassment or shame.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Slat Blinds = Evil

Whoever invented slat blinds is on my bad list.  Whoever installed them in my house (before we owned it) is a very rude person who clearly has the wrong priorities.

I dusted the blinds this morning.  It was no easy feat, and it was stinkin' TEDIOUS.

I had to talk myself through the process very firmly.

"All I have to do right now it dust the blinds.  I have no other priorities.  I deserve the beauty that will result from dust-free blinds and the cleanliness of it.  This one slat in my fingers is the only slat I am doing.  When it is finished, it will add its individual beauty to the whole.  When I am done, it will be satisfying and wonderful.  I need to do this with care so it is complete and sincere.  I must remain present."

And so on.  

I accidentally broke off the molding at the top, which, in the past, would have ended up tossed precariously onto some junk pile somewhere until my father visited again and he took care of it out of boredom.  I stopped what I was doing, got out the step-stool and pinched my fingers a few times while I figured out how to reattach it.  Now the job is done to completion.  Small victories are so gratifying.

In the past I have hurried through and "zoned out" while doing this job.  For some reason, forcing myself to breathe my way through it, go slowly, and truly experience cleaning the blinds, I can enjoy them even more now.  There is this odd sense of peace and satisfaction.  I have imparted an intentional energy into their cleanliness.  I DESERVE the intentional energy of my dust-free blinds!

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Only Ever Now

My husband and I joined some friends at an "Introduction to Meditation" workshop this weekend at Yoga Soleil.  It is the coolest studio in an old building, just a few feet from a busy railroad track.  There is charm galore.

We have been learning in more depth about meditation practices in the last few years, and our friends are interested in it as well.  So we decided to support them on the journey and go with them.  I was looking forward to it for two reasons:  quiet time to be with adults, and to learn more about personal meditation.  Meditation is a relatively new practice for me, and I have only experienced guided meditation in a group setting, or devotional yogic chanting meditation called kirtan.  Both forms have been so beneficial to my spiritual growth and to finding the strength to really dig deep in my quest for the beauty I deserve.  I would like to start a personal, daily meditation, but I don't know how.

While I already was familiar with much of what was taught from the theoretical standpoint, it was beneficial for me to be deliberately taught various techniques of how to do it on my own.  I encourage everyone to learn about meditation and what it can do for the soul.  I can honestly say I will never be the same.

One thing the teacher said really resonated with me.  She said to look at your watch...what time is it?  It is only ever now.  That sounds corny, but when I thought about it for a while it started to really connect to my current journey.  When my monkey-brain refuses to settle down, I get frustrated.  In basic meditation, you focus on your breath and where you feel it.  I chant "" as I focus on the sensation.  Suddenly, my brain goes to the fifty other things I need to make sure happen this week.  The key to living in the NOW and being fully conscious is when you recognize that your monkey-brain is at work, and bring it back around to focus on the feeling of breathing.

It is a peaceful feeling to recognize that all I can do is NOW.  All I can control is NOW.  I have the strength for NOW.  Tomorrow will come in due course, and yesterday is over.  This evening will come whether I want it to or not.  I want to love and enjoy the beauty in my home NOW.  If I focus on the messes I have yet to sort out, I am denying myself the beauty that is already present.  It is important to plan and have focus for the future, but the practice of living needs to be NOW.  I can clean just this one box in front of me, it's not that big.  The whole room is too big and scary, all of the work I have to do in the other areas of my life is frightening, but this one box directly in front of me is something I can do.

It is only ever now.  Conscious existence can only happen in the moment.  Being fully present can only happen if I pay attention to that monkey-brain and lovingly corral that sucker when it runs away.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Putting It to Bed

Rituals soothe me.  I love going through routine and the satisfaction of a task completed.  When I have a ritual or a routine, I know that I have not missed a step because I do it the same way each time.

I have a new routine that really settles me for the evening.  I sweep the kitchen (I even move the chairs around!), change the hand towels, wipe off the table, turn on the nightlight over the stove, wipe out the sink and then say out loud, "Good night!" to the room as I turn off the light.  It signals to me that my day is truly over and I can start to come down.

A few nights ago, I stood quietly by my counter in the dark and basked in the glow.  The lights from outside shone in and I felt peaceful and proud.  This is my kitchen.  This is the kitchen I DESERVE.  My kitchen is beautiful and I own it.  It is light and airy, and will be a beautiful place to spend some time making my breakfast tomorrow morning.  What a wonderful way to anticipate starting the next day!

Oddly enough, I have started looking forward to putting my kitchen to bed.  There is a consistency and a finality to it, and it is very simple and quick.  Putting my kitchen to bed is becoming a valued part of my day.  No matter what has happened today, I can go through this little routine and feel good about it.

This is the first time I felt ownership, pride and DESERVEDNESS well up spontaneously.  I am so proud of my kitchen.  I am so proud of my efforts and my success.  Not only have I earned the gleam of it, but I fully own the right to giggle about my shiny kitchen, and I DESERVE the pride welling in my chest as a result.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Beauty Box

In 2010, while on maternity leave with my son, I read the book Sidetracked Home Executives: From Pigpen to Paradise by Pam Young and Peggy Jones.  It is an amazing book. The ideas are simple and clear, almost seeming too obvious to actually work.  It is a very quick and easy read.

I was on maternity leave, so I had some quiet time.  After reading the book, I implemented their card system.   It is color coded, labeled as Daily, Weekly, Monthly or Seasonal, and each task that needs to be done is written on its own card.  The cards are then filed by the date.  I can pull out today's cards and know exactly what I will get done today.

This book and box were powerful tools that enabled me to get things in order.  It was great:  if there were fingerprints on the windows, I could indulge myself and ignore them, knowing there was a card to clean the windows coming up later.  The feeling of successfully having a clean home was amazing.  I was walking on air because I finally had the home that my guilt was telling me I was supposed to have.

Then the day came that I had to go back to work.  I was no longer home all day.  The cards were being crammed into the few hours between when the kids went to bed and when I went to bed.  I started postponing my chores, until I had a massive pile-up on the weekends.  It all spiraled out of control until the feeling of failure was too much and I hid the box under the junk pile by the phone.  A few times since then, the box has made an appearance when my shame became great enough for me to want to do something about it.  But it lasted a day or so before I failed again.  The box has sat on the counter for years, and every time I looked at it I felt resentment and the shame of failure.

With the momentum I now feel towards the BEAUTY I deserve, I decided to resurrect my chore cards.  I renamed my box "The Beauty Box", and in the lid I wrote, "I deserve the beauty this box will bring to me."  I wanted to reclaim the energy of this box as my own.  This box has symbolized resentment and failure for a long time.  I did some intensely focused meditation, and removed as much of the resentment and shame from the box as I could, while infusing it with pride and the energy of beauty.

I am reclaiming this box as mine, and the beauty it will enable me to maintain.  They were my "chore cards".  That name sounds too much like a "should" or like I'm maintaining my home for reasons outside of myself.  These cards are no longer chores, they are now my daily tasks.  I have also changed the wording on some of the cards to be more positive, as well.  The card that said "Clean junk table" has been replaced with one that says "Tidy surfaces".

For some reason, it is not innately obvious to me what should be done each day, or at what frequency.  This gives me the checklist I need to feel like I am successfully maintaining, and allows me to focus on just a few tasks every day.  When my cards are done for the day, I am done.  I can leave the dusting or vacuuming for another day, without shame or guilt, because I am trusting myself that they will be done then.

Now that I work from home, I can spread my tasks out throughout the day as work breaks.  My Beauty Box gives me a very nice middle ground between feeling anxiety over having to keep it all clean, and feeling empowered to maintain the home I deserve.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Stress and Fear of Failure

When I see a mess forming...I feel stress riding on its heels.  I fear that one dirty dish that starts the cascade.  You know the one.  The dishwasher is full, I'll empty it later, so I'll put my dish on the counter instead.  After that, they pile up almost instantly. I am living with a good-sized dose of fear.

I have worked hard to get my house in this condition, and I am working hard at consciously maintaining it.  In years past, I have found systems to whip the house into shape, only to let it slide in a month or two.  It is all a bit different this time, the drive is coming from a deeper source.  The goal is beauty, for ME, rather than abating shame over what I think I should be doing.  There is a change...but I am still me, and I still share the house with 3 other people who are not going through the internal changes that I am going through.  Am I strong enough?

How long until my desire to "do it later" wells up and kicks me?  I fear my procrastination. This inner saboteur is trying ever-so-hard to make its way out, and I don't know how to release it to the wind.  It is still an integral part of me.  I am trying to learn to love this side of myself.  At some point in my life, these tendencies filled a need and I had convinced myself that they were serving me.  I am trying to love them as part of what has shaped me, and release them for healthier behaviors.

Am I setting myself up for failure by even trying to succeed? I am still weak.  My fingernails are chewed completely off.  I overate on candy.  I lost my temper at my children.  I chose not to do my set cleaning chores for one day and I still feel guilt/shame...I want to learn how to relax and get over it.  The bathrooms are not so bad that they can't wait another week.  Bathroom cleaning day is Monday.  It's not the end of the world.

This fear of failure is painful, almost as painful as the fear of success that it results from.  Sometimes, this sense of looming dread and anxiety wells up in me and I feel almost paralyzed.  I have failed at this housekeeping gig before, I feel like it is only a matter of time.  I have grown beautiful fingernails only to chew them to oblivian during a movie.  Weight loss is something I've done with success several time, and I'm even better at putting it all back on with a vengeance.

There is a new weapon in my arsenal.  I DESERVE BEAUTY. This was not present before.  This time, it is all about me and there is no shame in it.  I not only want and should have beauty in my life, it is something I deserve.  I do not have the right to deny it to anybody, especially myself!

The beauty within my home is gaining momentum.  I feel better at it every day.  It is like starting a new relationship.  I'm in the middle of the giddy, awkward and shy stage, and but I am starting to wonder about where this is headed.  I still have a long way to go, a fierce uphill battle.  I am really putting off the Master Bedroom, that is going to be a big job, but based on how I feel now I think I will feel exponentially more proud when that is accomplished.

Once the house is complete, then what?  I don't want to stagnate, but the idea of moving on to another part of my existence terrifies me. What is up next? My body?  My yard?  My job?  Remaining present and fully conscious is my goal, and presently my beauty project is my home.  Once my house is in order, the next step will reveal itself with greater clarity.

Wow.  Those words sure come out easy.  My head is really swirling over it all.  I'm still figuring out what I seem to believe I should think and what I should do, versus where I really stand.

I DESERVE my beautiful home and the good feelings I have.
I DO NOT deserve anxiety over what is coming around the corner.
I DESERVE success.
I DO NOT deserve failure.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I Can't Stop Smiling

I shined the glass top of the coffee table.  There was sticky stuff on it, grime in the edges, and I even flipped it and did the other side.  Every time I see it, I smile like a fool.  I am giddy watching TV because every time I glance down I see my beautiful coffee table.

These small successes are exhilarating.  I am ever-so-slowly reclaiming and owning the beauty that can be my home.  For so long I have disliked the energy of my home, disliked how mish-mashed it all feels.  Every time I own a part of it and claim the beauty as my own, I get a small thrill.

I can't stop smiling, my face is starting to hurt.  My kitchen floor is awesome.  My coffee table is gleaming.  My carpets are clean.  In under a week, the kids have figured out that they have to put their toys away if they plan on eating supper. I took apart the vacuum and washed the filters, even using an old toothbrush on the components.  I even wiped down my kitchen appliances and used the bread maker again today.

These feelings are wonderful.  We spend a lot of time questioning why we feel bad, what the causes of bad feeling are, and where we feel them.  I am trying to study why I feel so good, and where I feel it.  I feel it  most strongly in my chest and in my scalp.  These feelings are so good, I am trying to really focus on them and anchor them in place so they are familiar.  I plan to use them for a reference point when the low days come and when things start to get tough.  Closing my eyes, I am imagining myself feeling this way, ALLOWING myself to feel this way, and believing that I DESERVE to feel this way.

I am so proud of what I have done.  My parents gave me a really good push out of the gate, but I have kept the ball rolling.  My efforts to live consciously are a challenge.  Periodically I realize that I have set the TV  remote down in some random spot in another room (why was it upstairs on the changing table when I was home alone all day?).  Seeing and absorbing the positive energy of the BEAUTY around me is helping.  It is getting easier to sweep the kitchen in the evening, and I hope that some day this will become an automatic activity that I do without having to deliberately set myself to the task.

Meanwhile, I can't stop smiling, and I plan to ride this wave absolutely as far as it will take me.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Projects Are Not Living

My distaste for having to dig for what I want and then having to bury it again is rearing its ugly head.

The wrapping paper and gift bags are on a shelf that will require the use of a step-stool to reach.  How often do I actually need these items?  Is it really so bad to have to take three more seconds to climb onto a stool to get them down, and then three more seconds to replace them when I am done?  For some reason it is bothering me that I have to do any climbing or digging to access anything I want at any time.

As I was crawling under the antique dining table/sewing table/craft storage table to access my sewing bin, it occurred to me: Projects are not living.

I deserve organization and beauty in my everyday life.  I DESERVE it.  I am WORTH a shiny and beautiful, uncluttered and tidy home.  I only sew a couple of times a year (Halloween and, well...I guess that's about it these days).  When the time comes to sew, is it really so awful to crawl between the table and the wall to pull out the bin of sewing supplies?  I can keep them out while I am using them, then squirrel them away again when the project is over.

Projects are not living.  What this means to me is that while I am LIVING my beautiful life, I don't need daily, easy access to my sewing bin.  I have ready access to my mending kit, but even that takes a little bit of reaching.  I don't need to mend every day.

The urge is to have everything in my home at a level where I can see it and reach it at a moment's notice with minimal effort.  For 30-something years this has not served me in the least.  When everything is reachable, nothing is accessible because it is all jumbled up and confusing.

I am learning that everything I felt was a waste of time is ultimately a time saver.  If I sweep the floor every day, there is never time for it to get gross.  If I squirrel away the wrapping paper, it is easier to reach and use because nothing is burying it.  If I keep the sewing bin under the table, I don't have to remove the mountain that has accumulated on top of it.

Projects are not living.  Beauty and love are living.  Projects come and go, and can be accommodated for as they come.  Beauty surrounds me and I need to open my heart and my mind to allow it to engulf me.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Monday, January 21, 2013

It's Really Faster Up Front!

I have always been irritated by having to stop what I'm doing to pick something up, clean something or put something back immediately in its place.  The flow of what I am doing overrides my better judgment.  It is annoying to have to stop to pick up something that has dropped, or to get out the step-stool to put something back on a shelf.

Nothing triggers my defenses faster than the old saying, "A place for everything, and everything in its place!"

I always felt that it was such a nuisance to bother with making sure something is square in its spot or put away correctly.  Having had a relatively tidy home for almost a week now, I am learning that this nuisance is so much more bearable than the alternative.  I still find myself resisting it, but the (still very intentional and consciously invoked) mantra that I DESERVE the beauty that will result is really starting to make the resistance wane.

I cleaned out the cabinet in the kitchen that started its life as a medicine shelf and quickly became a catch-all.  I gutted it, threw out all expired medicines and tidied it up.  There is a lot of space in that little cupboard!  I put a packet with the lighters for my candles, and the stick I use to light my jar candles, in there.  After using the packet to light my candle and replacing the lighters and stick neatly, I realized how much calmer I felt.  Rather than going through the frustration of hunting for the lighter, second-guessing whether or not lighting a candle was worth the trouble, locating the lighter and having a cascade of papers, gum and medicine fall on the floor, then throwing it all back into the pile when I was done...I was able to light my candle, put the lighters away in their neat little spot, close the cupboard and go about my life.

It seems like such an obvious thing.  It takes a little bit of time to make sure things are put away where they belong, but when you need them again it is a much less stressful experience.  Like the dishes.  I can just let them sit dirty and grumble while I scrub them clean when I need them, or I can wash them right away so when I need to get supper on the table it is a matter of pulling them from the cupboard.

These things are all so easy to say.  I have had them said to me, and modeled for me, all my life.  Intellectually I KNOW this, I am only just now truly understanding and internalizing it for myself.  For some people this is a natural instinct, like it is for my mother and my mother-in-law.  So much of my life has been spent feeling like a housekeeping failure, like a lazy slob, like I'm just too dumb to really get how to do it, wallowing in shame.  I've spent so long feeling like all I deserve is to be buried under my own mountains and incapable of living a full life.  Something has changed and I can feel it growing ever-so-slowly.  The "I don't wanna!  It's not worth it!"  that really translates to "I'm not worth it!" is ever so slightly waning right now, through a very conscious and often difficult process.

And the little cupboard is now beautiful.  Having the things in their places leaves no room for the frustration and embarrassment of the messes, and the space is left open for the quiet pleasure of the tidy space and room for me to enjoy my candle right away.  I DESERVE the beauty of my tidy cupboard and the aroma of my candle. I DESERVE the freedom of knowing where my things are.  I DESERVE the added time for enjoyment of my beautiful things...which I can allow for myself by consciously taking that small time up front to put things away.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Two days

My parents agreed to spend 2 of the 3 days they were visiting with their sleeves rolled up and helping me get un-buried from the clutter and mess that I had allowed my house to become.

I DESERVE their love.  I DESERVE to understand that they are acting in love and not in judgment.

My mother says that from the time I was knee high I would not accept help.  No matter how lovingly it was offered or well-intended it was, I would refuse.  I know that for as long as I can remember I have felt that if I let others in to help me with my messes it was a cause of shame and they were judging me.  My sense of self-worth would go right out the window.

It was an exciting two days.  I think swallowing my pride and asking for the help, and then recognizing the REALITY of the love with which it was offered, was the hardest part.

On Day One I think we were all nervous.  We started in the easiest room, the Front Room (or formal sitting room, I guess you'd call it)  We diffused the tension with humor, and we worked hard.  It was so easy to stay focused because I had done a lot of work before hand to prepare myself.  I kept reminding myself to stay present and in the moment.

After a few hours, I lost focus and felt myself running around.  You know, when you pick up one little thing, run around with it, put it down, pick up something was not useful to the process at all.  I recognized it and stopped.  I closed my eyes, took deep breaths, felt my feet ground to the floor and stabilized my energy centers. The rest of the day I managed to remain completely honest and present.

The afternoon was met with a greater challenge:  The Dining Room/My Office.  It is the depository for crafts,  paperwork, bins, and the "what do we do with this thing" items.  I had a meeting (it was still a work day for me) so I had to sit out for an hour.  My AMAZING parents continued working.  When I came back, the garbage was all gone and all of the things were laid out in the floor for me to decide about.

Talk about a process!  I made a point of making rapid decisions.  Each thing was handled only once.  I tried to be as harsh and realistic as possible.  I asked myself two questions:  Is it beautiful?  Does it serve a purpose?  The ideal items were things where I could say "yes" to both.  I went as fast as I could.  Keep!  Toss!  GoodWill!

At the end of a seven-hour day, we had the Front Room completely organized and cleaned, the Office/Dining Room cleaned up and decluttered, and my mother had made a huge dent in getting some appliance-cleaning done in the kitchen.  I sat down and looked around and felt discouraged.  After all those hours of tidying and purging, I was still surrounded by STUFF.  I was really hoping to minimalize and it just felt like it was binned up again.  My mother encouraged me by saying that there still is a lot of STUFF, but there is less of it.  Also, my house has no closets.  (Seriously, whoever designed this house was a real dope.  There is not a single closet on the first floor, and the only non-clothing closet upstairs is an 18-inch-wide linen closet.)

The second day we approached with a very different energy.  On Day One we had all been in the two rooms working together on furniture and the scary pile.  On Day Two, my mother cleaned the was such a chaotic mess that it took her all day.  My father manned the kids' closets like a hero.  He arranged them to be such an efficient use of space it is highly admirable.  That took him all day, too.  I organized my desk, and the "junk table".

I realized that this "junk table" only collected junk because it is there.  So, I made the executive decision to remove it entirely.  HAH!  Junk...find a new home!  I also went through some plastic drawers and threw out some old correspondence.  There was a lot of negative energy that I was preserving there, and I read some things one last time and disposed of them.  Why do we hold onto that garbage? I can remember it just fine without cluttering my life with it.  And if I what?

I was brutal again about what to keep and what to throw out.  After Day One, I had some real momentum, and on Day Two it really kept flowing.

I did lose my temper with my mother one time, but I immediately apologized and excused myself to go and get grounded.  She was pushing for answers about what to do with some things, and I had already told her not to get rid of them we were storing them.  Every time she came across them she would push, and I lost my temper.  After that, and my apology, she didn't ask again.  I'm not proud of the fact that I lost my temper, but I am proud of myself that I had the wherewithal to apologize right away and to move on with no judgment.

I feel so light.  There was a lot that was removed from my life this past week.  A trip to GoodWill feels freeing.  I DESERVE to feel this way!  I DESERVE a home free of garbage, negative energy or clutter!

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Self Talk

My childhood was a good one, by all accounts.  I was raised with love.  My parents are together, and my home was peaceful, clean and comfortable.  I have a brother and we got along as well as siblings can be expected to.  I never lived in want.

Who told me I was unworthy?  Who told me I am despicable?  Who told me I deserve punishment and neglect?  Who told me I am inferior to my peers?

None of the adults in my life were cruel or mean.  I was not repeatedly given these messages from the outside.  You can blame the media all you want, I am sure "they" contributed to the over-all picture, but they are not responsible for my believing it.

Self-talk got me into this mess, and self-talk is the only thing that will get me out of it.  I am buried so deep in my own shame and self-loathing, that it is like a spring-board, bouncing away all external attempts.  If it doesn't come from within, it simply will not do the job.

I don't know many times a day have I looked at my home and felt my lungs deflate while I mutter, "This sucks.  My house is a pit.  I'm a failure."  Would I ever say this to someone I love?  No way.  I would never walk up to someone and say the things to them that I say to myself.  Who tells a friend that they are a miserable human being and deserve to live in their own filth because it is all they are worth?  If I don't love myself enough to recognize this, there will be no progress.

Self-talk.  I have heard that with children, it will take at least 10 "atta-boys" to counter one negative comment...not removing the scar of the comment, but at least reinforcing the love that lies deeper.  I am a PRO at negative self-talk.  After a lifetime of negative messages, I owe myself countless positive messages if I anticipate any change.

I DESERVE a beautiful home
I DESERVE a clean kitchen floor
I DESERVE to get enough sleep
I DESERVE a beautiful body
I DESERVE my shiny vase collection

I DO NOT deserve dirty sheets on my bed
I DO NOT deserve a mile-high pile of laundry
I DO NOT deserve the stomach ache these 5 Hershey Bars will give me
I DO NOT deserve headaches from stress

There are things I do and do not deserve simply on merit of the fact that I exist in this world.  I believe that the self-talk that gave me those negative views of my own worthiness can be counteracted by different and deliberate self-talk.  Things don't become habit unless they serve a purpose, serve it well, and serve it consistently   I hope that one day I will fully internalize the new things I say to myself about what I do and do not deserve.   Until then, I try.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Conscious Living

The phone rang.  I got up to get it.  When I returned to the living room, I had no idea where the remote was. Turns out I had taken it to the kitchen with me and didn't even remember.

I pulled into the garage.  I got out of my car.  I came in the house. Next time I needed to go somewhere I have no idea where my keys and/or purse are.

I am at my desk working.  I look down and see two empty boxes of Wheat Thins and have no clue where they went.

In my attempt to welcome beauty into my life, I recognize a need for consciously becoming a part of my own life again.  There are so many things that I do without even thinking or realizing it.

I don't know where my mind (or spirit) goes, but I do know that I am not consciously present much of the time.  How else does my house seemingly fall into disarray around me unless I feel I am so undeserving of a beautiful home that I must sabotage it, and disappear in shame when my sabotage succeeds?

The belief that "I'm just lazy" no longer serves me.  If I am consciously aware of my body at all times, I will know where I put my keys...or better yet, I will be aware that they are in my hand and I need to put them on the hook.  It really isn't a matter of laziness, because I walk by the hook with the keys in my hand to turn off the alarm.  I'm right there, but for some inexplicable reason I am unconscious of my keys.

Living consciously is exhausting.  Deliberately reminding myself to breathe deep and really feel my physical presence is a strange habit to be fostering.  Until I started making myself be aware of it, I hadn't realized how often I all but stop breathing during the day.

For now, I still anticipate losing my keys on a regular basis, and hunting for the remote that is still in my hand.  The best I can do is work towards the goal of being fully aware of my body at all times.  Small steps, right?

The more I become aware of my own physical presence, the more straightforward it will be to allow and retain beauty in my life.  I can only imagine the amount of deserved beauty and bounty awaiting discovery through heightened awareness!

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Monday, January 14, 2013

I Deserve?

I have a personal goal to allow beauty into my life.  I don't know where it is going to take me but I have had some recent experiences that are causing an internal shift.  The first step I plan to take towards that goal is to live in a clean home full of natural light and beauty.

For so long, my home has been a manifestation of how I feel on the inside:  sloppy, gross and generally unpleasant.

I have been repeating to myself for my entire adult life, "I want a clean home.  I want to tidy up."  Then my inner saboteur takes over and says, "I DON'T want to clean the house!  I DON'T want to tidy up! I am a terrible housekeeper!"  This voice is really loud and oh-so-tempting to listen to.  It really is easier to close the curtains, turn on the TV and disappear into self-loathing, shame and is a temporary release until the sun comes up the next morning and I have to shift through piles and pick gross things off my socks.

For right now, I am choosing to repeat to myself, "I DESERVE a clean home.  I DESERVE love and beauty."  It is a very radical shift and will take a great deal of practice.  There are so many things I have convinced myself I am incapable or undeserving of.  

I have always iterated that all people deserve love and goodness on merit of the fact that they are human beings.  For some reason, I lost myself in the mix.

My parents are coming to visit this afternoon, so this morning I vacuumed the family room and the kids' rooms.  I wiped down the counter and toilet in the kids' bathroom, and put fresh sheets on the beds in E's room so they have somewhere to sleep.  All the while I was saying, "I DESERVE a clean floor.  I DESERVE a clean floor..." and gradually it became less about doing what I was supposed to do and more about doing something kind for myself.  It is a baby step, but I opened all of the curtains and blinds to shine natural light on my freshly vacuumed floor.

I have high hopes.  There have been several failed attempts at housekeeping.  I have created for myself a badge of shame and failure as a result.  I have set some clear goals this time, and I am trying a new approach:  I DESERVE a clean home, rather than I SHOULD HAVE a clean home.  It is small, but I can feel the difference already.  There is even the help of a professional organizer in my future.

It is not selfish to feel you deserve beauty.  I am learning this.  What a difficult thing to understand and accept!

A friend send me this in an email:  I really appreciate what Louise Hay says about abundance and deserving what we want. She says "allow yourself to have, whether you think you deserve it or not". Also deserving is not about "getting things." Everything is already there, waiting for us. It's about "allowing ourselves to have it". We CAN just let it all in

I am deserving of beauty!