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KonMari™ – Becoming Official

When I got home from New York, I had my first session with a client scheduled for the following day. My sweet neighbor, who cleans houses for others, and rarely has time to focus on her own.  The visit before we begin tidying, is a critical part, not only for me as a consultant, to understand the client’s concerns, but for them, to relax and start the mental process of feeling safe to be real with me.

We started in her closet, and soon, the amazing thing was – I could tell if she liked an item before she spoke, just by her body language. It really surprised me how quickly that became apparent. We worked in her closet and her dresser, and finished in about 5 hours. She views her items in a mostly utilitarian fashion, so tends to quickly determine if an item truly does spark joy for her.

The second session was to discover which of her books she truly wanted to keep. She doesn’t have a lot of books, so I was a little concerned that we might not be able to fill the 3-hour requirement with just books. But as she said, after we unloaded every bookshelf in the house, onto the dining table, “Wow! I really do have more books than I realized!” (I’m noticing that having more in nearly every category than a person thinks they have, is a common theme.) I had recently arranged my living room bookcase in rainbow order, which made me inordinately happy! So part of me wanted to try it with her books, but as it turned out, the books she had were less conducive to that style of arrangement, so we went with a more topic-themed arrangement. She chose to pass along quite a few books to bless someone else. The ultimate ‘going green’!

Papers! I find this to be a fun category, as there is usually a Big visual difference in a short amount of time! We unloaded her file drawer completely, onto the floor of the room we set up in. There were many outdated papers – from insurance statements, bill receipts, paycheck stubs, and multiple random papers – that were no longer necessary. She felt so good when we carried out trash bags full of what was unnecessary, and re-loaded the drawer with the small batch of remaining items. It looked so tidy and accessible!

Komono comes next – the Japanese word for everything else that doesn’t fall in the other 4 categories. This category covers kitchen cabinets, pantry, knick-knacks, bathroom cabinets, towels, linens, art and hobby supplies – you name it. We started in her pantry, pulling everything out, dusting it, checking for expiration dates, organizing appliances, jars, lunchboxes, and more. It felt so awesome when we looked at the finished product and saw a clean, tidy pantry, where all items were visually accessible, and categorized in logical ways. So helpful for everyday functioning of the kitchen.

The master bathroom cabinets were of particular concern to her, and I was so pleased when I opened them, to see the jumble, because I knew what a difference it would make in her life when we were finished! I would estimate she threw away half the items from that cabinet – due to age, or not being needed anymore. She was thrilled with how it turned out, and followed up at a later date, letting me know how much she was enjoying the serenity of a tidy cabinet in an area that she accesses multiple times each day.

The laundry cabinet also was fun, as it is such a practical area, and can make so much difference in how we enjoy doing our laundry – a task that is a constant, so we might as well discover how to make it the best it can be. We took a packed, willy-nilly cabinet, and created a logical, orderly functioning utility, with a little bit of breathing space.

When we got to the last category of Sentimentals, we hefted the big batch of things onto the floor and sat down opposite each other for sorting, and the first thing on the top of the stack was a letter from me to her, when we were little girls! It was a beautiful and inspiring way to start! There were many things in sentimentals that she decided not to keep, and there were others that she knew would always spark joy for her. Those things she lovingly sorted into more logical and accessible categories, some by child, some by theme. When we were finished, there was another couple of garbage bags full of items to throw away, and a beautifully organized Sentimentals storage place.

During the weeks of my practice sessions, I worked with two other clients also, each of whom has a bit different relationship to their items. It fascinates me, and so much of what I’m drawn to in the KonMari™ process, is the fact that it is a personal heart journey for each individual, and getting the privilege to walk beside them as they discover the strings that attach them to their items for different reasons, is something I don’t take for granted. For one of my clients, she expressed intensely, feeling as if it was an impossible task, but that being able to talk her feelings through with me made all the difference in the world. I asked questions. She shared. I listened. Together we persisted. And she has taken every opportunity to let me know how it is changing her life. Her perspective. Her day-to-day functioning. It may be my ‘job’ now, but truly this is a shared friend journey, and one that I feel so privileged to be allowed to take with my clients, who transform into my friends!

After each session, I submitted my reports. We are asked several open-ended questions. There is very little guidance for what information is most important to the KonMari team, so I tried to do a mix of the practical process, along with sharing the relational heart journeys of my clients. Apparently, that suited well. In the email I received after submitting my 10th report, they ask us to allow them 4 weeks to review our reports, then to expect questions we would need to answer that could extend the process an additional 2 weeks for every question/answer. I was amazed and incredibly grateful when I received an email 3 weeks and 2 days after my 10th submission, stating that my reports had passed with no questions or comments needed!

Once the reports are passed, the exam portal opens up. I was both looking forward to the exam and dreading it at the same time. The guidance given, was that if we didn’t pass the first time, we should wait a week or so, study more, and try again. If we didn’t pass the second time, the setback would be much greater. So I told the boys that I had to do something very important, and must have a spell of quiet until I let them know they could be loud again. Then I got a cup of coffee, sat down and studied my entire workbook start to finish. Then I went to my computer and logged in to the exam portal. I prayed, then started the test. I focused on taking my time, to increase my confidence that I had read and understood each question in its exact context. When I was finished, I prayed again, then pressed ‘Submit’. Imagine my joy and relief when the screen popped up informing me that I had passed!!!

The next step was scheduling an interview with Christina – the global supervisor of consultants. I had met her in New York, and really liked her, so I wasn’t particularly nervous about the conversation, but more excited to know what advice she might have for me, and what was important to her that she know about me. She called me at the appointed time and we had a lovely conversation, sharing things with each other about how the KonMari™ method had changed our life, and what my goals and plans were from here. It was with much amazement that I listened as she shared with me that I had completed the certification process the second fastest of anyone so far! That was such a fun and shocking discovery! She let me know that I was consultant #144, spread across 22 countries, and #83 in the US. My goal was to be a number under 150, so I was thrilled to discover I had accomplished that goal!

She shared with me more about the first ever consultant retreat that will be held July 13-14, and sweetly encouraged me to join them – which I absolutely will be doing!

So the last item after our phone interview, was to pay my franchise fee, which I did, and then was sent my Green Consultant Package. Later in the day, I had a moment to check out KonMari.com, and I cannot tell you how incredible it was to see my name and pic uploaded as an Official KonMari™ Consultant! So excited about the next phase of this journey – meeting new people, helping to calm the crazy they feel, as a result of the overwhelm of their closets and cabinets. Walking the journey with them, and feeling the overflow of joy that they receive from the transformation!

 

Sparking Joy in New York City

What an amazing few weeks it’s been! Just now finding time to share with everyone the incredible experience of attending the KonMari™ Consultant Training seminar in New York City!

Eric decided to come along, and explore the city, while I was at the seminar. He had never been to NYC before, and enjoyed the experience very much. We flew in to La Guardia on Thursday evening, and took the metro over to Manhattan. The masses of people still overwhelm me – even in retrospect! But we enjoyed the experience of riding above the city, before going down under the river, and then the metro being fully underground in Manhattan.

We found our hotel, which was about a mile from Home Studios on Broadway, the chosen venue for the seminar. Then we enjoyed a delicious dinner at an Irish Pub around the corner from our hotel. After a good night’s sleep, I excitedly began preparing for my first day!

The venue was beautiful, very light and airy, with large round tables seating 8 people at each one. Cold water pitchers with fruit infused, sat in the center, and our workbooks were placed at each spot. Certified consultants helped us get checked in and gave us our name badges. Then we got to choose a spot from any of the tables in the room. Their only request was that we choose a different table each day, so we would get to know more of the friends who are sharing our journey. All pictures credit of Ryan Soule.

The venue before the flowers and water pitchers were placed in the center of each table.
My table the first day, missing my friend Kate, from South Africa, and me.

On Tuesday evening, we had been informed that there would be a professional movie crew from VICE, for HBO, filming us for a special program on ‘what it takes to become a KonMari™ consultant’. Then when we arrived on Friday morning, we found there was an additional film crew from Japan, filming a special for the Japanese equivalent of the BBC. Both crews were extremely respectful and considerate, not pushy, but open to any questions we had, or interviews we would like to give them. In addition, there was a photographer hired for the occasion to allow us to have photos of our memorable weekend.

The Japanese film crew, doing what they do best!

Soon, Christina gave a short welcome speech, and introduced the KonMari™ Media team from Japan, including Marie’s husband. Then – the moment each one of us was waiting for – Marie came out with such grace, humility, and beauty, and welcomed us all – sharing her joy with us that we were there, then adding sweetly, ‘But I still can’t believe you all want to do this’. Which is, of course, an additional reason we all want to ‘do this’.

Christina, Consultant contact for KonMari™ Media

Marie took several moments to intentionally make eye contact with each person, to take note of the excitement and energy that was palpable in the room, and to crystallize the memories of the first few moments into her memory bank – which encouraged us to do the same. She is a beautiful, petite lady, who has quite a warm personality. When she started sharing her belief that gratitude was an important cornerstone of the KonMari method, I realized with even greater certainty, that I was exactly in the right place.

Marie

Another highlight for me, was that nearly the entire seminar was in Japanese, and translated into English by the very talented Celine. She had an incredible ability to convey, not only the words being expressed in a different language, but the emotions as well.

Marie and Celine

On Friday, the topics covered included the philosophy of Marie Kondo, the important Code of consultants, which include the following five things:

  1. Take initiative to lead a life that sparks joy.
  2. Support clients in achieving a life that sparks joy, in addition to helping them finish tidying.
  3. Hone your knowledge and skills as a professional organizing consultant.
  4. Always remember to have respect for homes and objects.
  5. Spark more joy in the KonMari consultant community by encouraging each other.

Then we went on to the practical aspects of how to get from where we were sitting, to a ‘real-life certified KonMari™ organizing consultant’. So many interesting and worthwhile topics, and the mix of sharing from the front, and round-table discussion was just perfect.

Visiting with my friend Sophie, from Australia

Every day we had delicious food catered for lunch, with some new dishes I had never seen before – and boy do I wish I could get the recipes – especially of the shrimp and sugar snap pea salad. Yum!!!

Shrimp, corn, and sugar snap pea salad. Incredible deliciousness!
My table friends on Day 2

 

My beautiful friend, Jaime, from New York, sharing parts of her journey with me. She also happens to be the Broadway dancer who was in the news when her fiancé’, Mark Stuart, proposed to her on the stage of the Bandstand show last September! Such an amazing and sweet story!
My beautiful friend, and only other aspiring consultant from Virginia, Brigid.

The last day,  we wrapped up our learning session with a Q&A panel from five certified consultants already using their skills to spark joy in the world.

Q&A panel with five consultants already certified.
This special moment!

Then, the moment all of us had been waiting for – receiving our seminar completion certificates, and getting our books signed by Marie, and then our picture taken with her. What a fun and joyous moment!

Altogether, there were 88 of us from 17 countries around the globe. What an incredible opportunity to experience a rich, unforgettable few days together, that will be the starting point of worldwide enriching relationships from here on out. So much Joy and Life-changing Magic!

Roaring with Sparkles

I’m not a big Katy Perry fan. But her song “Roar” resonates with me a lot. I can relate to certain phrases of it well, and it inspires me to step out of my comfort zone, and keep ‘becoming’.

‘Roaring’ is, after all, a very descriptive expression of stepping into who you are. Join me on an imaginary African safari. For years we have been dreaming about this. We have pored over National Geographics, we have seen every Netflix show related to lions, we have read every travel guide and pinpointed the best part of Africa to see the most lions. We read reviews, and carefully booked a hotel in the middle of the African plains, and simply can’t wait to get in that jeep to see and hear the PRIDE!

The day finally comes, and we step onto that trans-Atlantic flight – knowing we will be up for a day and a half, before arriving, but too excited to sleep!  When we get off the plane, a very rustic van is waiting to take us out of the city, and miles into the savanna, where our hotel is located. It’s quite the bumpy ride, but this is the trip of a lifetime, to experience our favorite wildlife – the royal and majestic lions!

Our hotel does not disappoint – with gorgeous views of the savanna, and iced tea and lemonade available on the scenic observation deck all day, we are ready to relax and do some pre-safari wildlife watching from our deck chairs. After a delicious but pricey dinner, and a beautiful sunset, we go to sleep – exhausted, but nearly at the end of this long wait – because tomorrow! Tomorrow is the day we get to observe in the wild, the amazing animals we have loved and admired since childhood.

We love the majestic way they rule the other animals just by looking their way. We love the beautiful mane that sets off that massive, intimidating head, the swishing tail that seems to bookend its commanding presence, but most of all, we love the ROAR! The roar that says “I am here! I am doing what I was created to do! I am aware of my existence in the big scheme of things, and I will not shrink back from the significant impact I am intended to have on the world around me”.

Safari day starts long before sunrise, with a full breakfast and picking up of packed lunches from the kitchen. Then we pile into the jeep – hats, sunscreen, and cameras at the ready. First we come across some elephants – those incredible creatures that shake the ground with each step they take. Talk about impacting the world? I’d say yes. In a very literal sense. We start snapping pics left and right, and switch to video as they start trumpeting the warning to the herd – strangers approaching!

As we drive on, we see the heads of a few giraffes sticking up out of the brushy tree line in the distance. Their unusual markings reminding us that we are in a place where uniqueness is treasured and differences are celebrated.

The sun is getting hot when we stop for an early lunch near an oasis that appears to be frequented by many types of animals, but they all disappeared as the Jeep came into view. We are enjoying the day exquisitely, yet starting to get a little impatient to see the animal that matters most to us – the one that puts to silence every other animal, as it steps with a mighty roar into it’s God-given role as King of the Jungle.

As we continue on, we see kudu, wildebeest, zebras and warthogs, roaming the plains as if they own them. Amazing and unforgettable, but where are the lions?  Something appears to be off. Our tour guide and driver starts to become concerned as we traverse mile after mile of the grasslands with no sign of jungle royalty.

Just before the turn-around point, when we are losing hope and feeling such disappointment, we catch a glimpse of a furry mane. When we drive towards it, the lion runs behind a rock outcropping. As we get closer, we see a beautiful, large lion hiding behind the rocks, tail between it’s legs, head down, and silent. Our tour guide, who is also a wildlife veterinarian, becomes very concerned, and calls in for back-up to check the health of the grand creature, whose frightened actions are in stark contrast to the proud, courageous creature he was intended to be.

We get the unusual privilege of watching the veterinarians examine the lion, and discover that he has contracted a disease, that causes him to lose the ability to care for himself, leading to malnourishment, and without treatment, his life would be snuffed out by creatures that he ordinarily would have eaten for breakfast.

Sadness floods my heart like a stormy river. The tragedy of these beautiful majestic creatures becoming so weak and lifeless was too much to bear. And the disappointment deep, after so many years of waiting, hoping and planning to see them in all their God-given healthy glory!

As we headed back across the plains to the hotel, we drove past a sharp incline with a rocky outcropping, that overlooked miles and miles of savanna. Suddenly the air around us filled with the loudest, most majestic roar I could have ever imagined! My heart pounding with surprise and hope, I looked up, and there, staring down at us, was a young, magnificent lion, with a great, flowing mane, a taut body, and a long tail swishing in the sunset rays. Healthy. Beautiful. Majestic. Glorious. Loud. Fearlessly proclaiming that he was King of the Jungle!

Wow! When my heart stopped pounding, and the sun had set on that most incredibly royal creature – one  I had dreamed my whole life of seeing – and the tears of happiness had subsided, I couldn’t help but consider the parallels between the two lions. Both were made King of the Jungle. Both were created to roar loudly, to have a large impact on the world around them. One was embracing his being and place in the world, with courage and confidence. Understanding the impact he was intended to have on the world around him. The other had been designed for the exact same purpose, but due to a disease that was overtaking it, was unable to step into his rightful place.

It made me think of us humans. We were all made to roar. Not all of us roar the same way, though. None of my friends would probably say I sound like a lion. But I do have responsibility to find my voice, and keep growing and becoming who God designed me to be. There may be physical representations of what’s on the inside, that become a part of your ‘voice’. And friends, for me it’s  sparkles.  Or ‘sparking joy’. So I am owning that in different ways, and practicing my roar.

What about you? Do you feel confident in your roar? Most of us probably need a little nudge to keep finding and growing into it. But don’t let the ‘disease’ of fear or depression, shame, or criticism keep you from discovering your roar, and growing into the best ‘you’ possible. If you’re struggling to find who that person is, ask someone who loves you to support your journey. Taking time for self-care, mental and spiritual nourishment is an important part of the process. Don’t leave it out. And be authentic. If you’re a bird – ‘tweet’. If you’re a seal – ‘bark’! If you’re a lion – then Roar!  But by all means, find and use the voice God gave you, to enrich your world.

What you Allow will Continue

It follows the simple laws of physics. An object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by an exterior force. So it is with our lives, our relationships, our expectations…..

I grew up fourth generation in an isolated patriarchal community, and nearly everyone I called a friend until the age of thirty-five was inside those four walls, figuratively speaking. I suspect a fair amount of you may be able to relate. Over the years since leaving that organization, I’ve had a lot of wake-up calls about the behaviors that were considered ‘normal’ in that environment. The cumulative weight of the observations has led me to speak out about things that I would rather pretend weren’t a problem. But if this can help one person break chains, heal  a relationship,  and step into who God intended them to be, then it will be worth it. A few questions to start –

Do you feel like you’re walking on eggshells around someone you love? Do you feel pressured to do certain things you don’t want to do, for fear of that person’s reaction? Are you afraid to say what you really feel about a sensitive subject matter?

Do you feel pressured to report every conversation you had, or every person you came in contact with that day? Do you feel isolated from friends or family, either through someone discrediting them to you, or outright forbidding you to see them? Have you been asked not to tell anyone about conflicts or troubles in your marriage? Have you been pressured not to seek professional help?

Do you have to prove over and over that your intentions were good, while constantly being treated with suspicion? Does your heart start beating faster in fear, or your face become drawn into a numb expression when a certain person walks into the room?

If you answered yes to some or all of these questions, let me tell you right now – you are in an abusive relationship. It may be a spouse, or it may be another significant or authority figure in your life. But either way – these are indisputable signs of an abusive relationship. How abusive? You will have to take steps to determine that. But you must take the steps. Abuse is in no way limited to being physically harmed. In most cases of abuse, there are no bruises on the skin, no black eyes, no cuts or broken bones.

But underneath the outer layer, there lies a heart, shattered in so many pieces you have no idea how to put it back together. Scars so thick, they have misshapen your soul, and warped your view of life and humanity. Even given you a false sense of right and wrong, of your obligations, and your value to God and to the rest of the world.

The tragedy is that those who are theoretically in a position to help, in some faith community settings, skew parts of scripture in ways which benefit the image of the given community, while disrespecting  the individual. They create an altar of ultimatum, on which too many people have sacrificed their very souls, under the false premise of doing God’s will. Only to find out in the end that they have made a mockery of that very covenant of marriage.

Children’s minds, hearts, bodies, and souls have been sacrificed on that altar, by god-fearing mother’s, believing they were following God’s will by continuing to co-exist in a house with someone who has turned his heart from the covenant he made with God. Out of that brokenness and self-deceit, a need to control others seems to be the most common driving force to emerge – emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, sexually, or physically – in the name of ‘headship’. Demanding ‘obedience and submission’ – as his actions swing further and further from the Christ-like love that is the caveat for that obedience and submission. That is not a marriage – that is a co-dependent abusive relationship, and staying in it without addressing the issue will not bring the marriage back.

Ladies, wives, mothers – PLEASE be courageous in stepping into your God-given place of responsibility, in standing up against intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and yes, of course, physical and sexual abuse. You have a choice. You have the power to change your situation, and you must step into the role God designed for you. If you don’t know what that is, please reach out now to someone who can point you in the right direction. And you will probably have more honest answers outside the four walls of Christendom. If you are told to be sweeter, more appeasing, or more submissive – do not return to that counsellor.

Pleasing a patriarch or abuser is a losing battle. The demands will become more unreasonable, and you will become less of a person, more of a shell. That is not what God intended you to be. He created  you with a mind, a body, a heart and a soul, to be a unique, thinking individual. You are a complete person in your own right, with your own thoughts, ideas, opinions that God gave you, and the ability to have a direct connection with Him.

If you haven’t believed this before, you may need some direction in how to hear Him, but I promise you – He is perfectly capable, and will come through for you. Listen for His voice – but not to other individuals claiming to be His voice.

If you’re married, and never grew into a whole individual before marriage, or if you are co-dependent on the approval of an authority figure for your own personal peace and direction in life, wake up! You must become uniquely who God created you to be. You must stay on your own path, and seek His face directly. When you do that, He will show up for you, and His direction will save you from a lot of heartache and disaster.

In some cases, redemption may come in the form of a restored relationship, a changed heart, and two people who are able to walk the journey together, in an atmosphere of mutual respect. In some cases the redemption may come in the form of one courageous individual allowing the other to face loss of the relationship in it’s current state. This allows the abuser the opportunity to identify and heal the inner pain that is driving the outer behavior. Both abuser and victim are given the gift of space – to breathe, clarify their understanding, and learn what is and isn’t an acceptable way to treat other humans. In all cases, learning proper boundaries is the only starting point for redemption.

We are all broken, but we all have a choice as to how much more broken we are willing to become at the hands of others. Hurting people hurt people. Healing cannot start until boundaries are set and respected.

Dr. Henry Cloud has some life-changing books on boundaries. Starting with the first one, entitled simply, ‘Boundaries’. http://drcloud.com   Another good resource, http://songsfromthecage.com, is the personal journey of a godly wife and mother, out of the dark valley of abuse, and into the light of God’s love. To read an additional perspective on her story, one that sheds light on the potentially misguided role of the church in these matters, go to http://greghowlett.com, (which is primarily a music website) and look for the ‘Abuse’ section on his blog. Very thought-provoking content.

You also must have support for your personhood. Reach out to a few people of your own choosing that you trust, and allow them to be the hands and feet of Jesus on this earth, as you walk through this valley. We were never meant to face battles alone. Be clear with them that you need their active support, and commit to being honest with them even when it’s hard.

Whatever you do, if you can relate to the above descriptions, put a stake in the ground, and declare today as the turning point in your journey. And keep moving forward. Fear is the greatest weapon in the history of the world. But Jesus overcame that fear on the cross, so you can move forward in faith and courage, keeping your eyes and your heart fixed on the the only One powerful enough to redeem your story and make it beautiful.

Seven Steps to KonMari™ Certification

A few weeks ago, Marie Kondo certified her 100th consultant, representing 14 countries worldwide. What does that mean exactly? I’m taking the first couple of steps, and will share my understanding of the process.

Over the last two years, I experienced a bit of life-changing magic in my own home, which sparked so much joy that I knew I wanted to share it with others. In bits and pieces, I shared tips and ideas with friends who asked questions. Then, I discovered it was possible to receive a certification and officially spread the sparkle.

So I researched the process and discovered that there are 7 steps.

1. Read ‘The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up’ and ‘Spark Joy’ – such small books in size, but with the potential to change the trajectory of your life. If you’re even considering adding calm and serenity to your life – these books will help lead you through some important steps. Warning – if you are not ready to have positive changes in the bigger picture of your life – do not read! This process is about more than just stuff!

2. Tidy your own Home – I started this process as soon as I finished Marie’s first book. There was a snowball effect. I did an initial tidying, then more, as I became increasingly confident in what sparks joy for me, and what has to go, in order for our house to be a calm oasis. (Okay, so with five boys, the house may not always be a calm oasis, but……. you get my point.)

3.(-A) Apply for and Attend a Seminar – This was a teeny bit intimidating, two-step process. Here’s how it works. I filled out the application form, answered some general questions, paid the seminar fee. So my spot for New York was reserved but not confirmed.

3.(-B) Then I had to submit pics of my house in five different categories. Each pic is reviewed, and if deemed insufficient, more work must be done, and new pics submitted. If those pics are not sufficient, the seminar fee is refunded, and the opportunity to attend the seminar is given to someone else. Yikes! I was informed to allow up to a week for this process.  To my absolute delight, within 6 hours of submitting my photos,  all 9 were accepted, and I was presented with the official invitation to join Marie Kondo in New York! Yes, I literally shrieked and jumped for joy!

4. Join the Community – After attending the seminar, we will be asked to join a private Facebook group of consultants and consultants-in-training. There, we can share tips, experiences, and support each other’s journeys.

5. Submit tidying reports – We must complete 10 projects, a minimum of 3 hours each, with at least two separate clients, and submit all that information for review. Once accepted, the next step is the online exam.

6. Pass the online exam – I understand this to be a written exam to ensure that the person has a good grasp on the methods of KonMari, along with some business savviness, and client interaction skills.

7. Apply for certification – Once the exam is passed, there is an additional fee to be paid, then the official certification is received, as well as being listed on the KonMari website as a certified consultant! I can’t wait to get to this point, but will enjoy the journey, and share each step with you as I experience it!  (And yes, I love stair analogies, especially when I get to use one of my favorite stair pics – throwback to the International Rose Test Garden in Portland, Oregon. ) Stay tuned!

 

Six Unselfish Ways to Love Yourself Right Now

Love yourself.

That phrase tends to bring up mental pictures of choices that may seem fun at the time, but things I would later regret  – maybe indulging in junk food all day long, of overspending on my wardrobe, of wasting a whole day bingeing on a movie series….. Honestly, that picture doesn’t feel like the ‘best me’ that I’ve been working towards becoming.

But over the last year, I’ve been challenging my default assumptions, and ‘love yourself’ has come to the forefront as one that I need to re-define. So I’ve been consciously making choices to love myself, in ways that help me grow into the ‘best me’ vision that I’m working toward.  The first step in a process that enables me to love and serve my people better.

Here are a few of the things I now see as Loving Myself –

1. Drinking water, and lots of it. I can tell you that it makes a difference. Without enough water, the body starts to dehydrate, and joint pain, headaches, fatigue, vision problems, and light-headedness are a few of the common symptoms. My favorite way to keep fresh water close by, is my Life Factory glass bottle. It goes pretty much everywhere with me.

2. Taking a walk – maybe not a formal one. I’ve discovered sneaky ways of getting more steps into my day that don’t require a long time commitment – like parking at the far end of the parking lot when shopping. Not only does it give me a built-in boost of exercise, it reduces the risk of my car getting a parking lot scrape.

3. Eating breakfast. Yes, you were right, Mom. I should have been doing this consistently. I’m not a breakfast food fan, so it’s been easy for me to get the kids off  to school, and get into my day without stopping to get some fuel for my body. Then I crash around noon, and crave salty junk foods about 4:00 p.m. Eating breakfast really does stabilize my blood sugar, and smooth out my day on every level. One of my current favorites is ‘Egg in a nest’ – a nest of shredded carrots and kale, topped with a fresh-from-the-farm egg. That’s some good fuel right there!

4. Staying a little bit hungry. Do you ever notice that when your stomach is too full, there is a nagging discomfort? I discovered an easy fix for that! LOL! I stop eating while I still feel hungry. So worth it.

5. Yoga Class on YouTube – I’ve challenged myself to strengthen my core for 30 days in a row, and I’m starting to enjoy it so much! There’s quite a few free channels to choose from. ‘Caroline Williams Yoga’ is my current favorite.

6. Choosing gratitude. I’ve discovered that this is the best secret to happiness. When I can’t change my circumstances, writing down 3 things – or if I’m really struggling, maybe 30 – and focusing on those things, brings  serenity and joy back into the picture.

And there it is, friends. What do you think of when you hear the phrase ‘Love Yourself’? Has your viewpoint changed from one idea to another recently? And what are some ways you’ve found to love yourself, that prepare you to better love your people? I’d love to hear them…..

What’s so Hygge about KonMari™?

 

As my youngest headed off to kindergarten last fall, and I re-structured my time, my micro business, Healthy Happy Hygge was born. It was intended to be a creative way to share joy with others.  As I’ve pondered my heart for H3, this question kept coming up – ” What is the baseline starting point, to successfully creating a Healthy Happy Hygge home atmosphere?  One that allows us to be ready to seize the moments, cherish our people, and create memories that will be held dear forever?”

Two things have come to the forefront.  Gratitude is the cornerstone. Gratitude really does turn what we have into enough. And if we choose to practice gratitude regularly, we have a good perspective on what is important in life.

 

I also believe that an uncluttered space allows a person’s mind to rest, and out of rest comes creativity, joy and sustainability. Two years ago, when I read Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up”, it really inspired me.  As a mom to five boys, we have a lot of ‘stuff’ around here – do I even need to elaborate? Clothes, shoes, hats, swim suits, lacrosse gear, GoPro’s, bikes, toys, DVD’s, backpacks – not to mention the towels, laundry baskets, plates, and coffee mugs that it takes to keep us all going.

Plus…….. I was a bit of a ‘keeper’. For the ‘what-if’s, ‘just-in-case’s’, and ‘you-never-know’s’ of life. But Marie’s book invited me to decide how I really wanted to live my life. How much of my time do I want to spend caring for items? Dusting, moving, resettling, finding spaces to store them, where the closet doors would actually stay shut……..

I made an important, life-changing decision. I only have one life, and there were other things I wanted to do with that one life,, rather than spend it caring for inanimate objects. Traveling, new experiences, meeting people, and spending time building relationships. Volunteering at the kid’s school. Touring a museum. Planting a garden……..

My ‘stuff to time’ ratio was off. I had so much stuff that I was spending more of my life caring for it, than I was spending doing things I really wanted to do!!! It was time for a change, and the Spark Joy journey began.

 

The farther down the path I walked, the happier I became with it, and the more I wanted to continue the process. Going back was impossible, and the mental freedom was exhilarating! In little ways I started sharing with others how ‘Sparking Joy’ in my house was bringing more serenity  into my life. I realized that my KonMari™ journey was an important process that I want to share with others.

I want people to experience the joy of getting up each morning, opening their closet door, and seeing Only clothes they love. With some treasured artwork, or posters from their favorite movies peaking out from behind their favorite clothes.

I want them to be able to quickly put the house in order every evening, and wake up to an airy, cleared space, that allows the brain to get going without the jarring discord of clutter and mess.

I want them to be able to know exactly where to look to find their birth certificate, vehicle title, or tax form. No wasting of precious hours, laced with rising frustrations, because you needed it yesterday, but are afraid you may not even be able to locate it tomorrow………

 

So……next month, I will be going to New York City to attend training to become a KonMari™ Organizing consultant!  Stay tuned as the adventure unfolds!

When Self-care Doesn’t Equal Chocolate

I wish self-care equaled chocolate. That would make it simple. No one would even have to talk about the subject. Unfortunately, it means a lot more than that, and most of it is not simple. It means taking responsibility for my own physical, psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being. And that doesn’t always feel very chocolatey.

Sometimes it means saying no when I want to say yes…………. saying yes when I want to say no.

…becoming aware of how foods affect my body, and deciding if thats how I want to feel

…learning boundaries in relationships, and working through problems, not going around them.

… knowing I need an extra dose of Vitamin D in the winter, and figuring out how best to get it.

… putting on my tennis shoes, and going for a walk when I just want to cozy up by the fire.

…researching my personality, and becoming aware of my strengths and weaknesses.

…asking for help to get out of the ditch – literally or figuratively

…surrounding myself with true friends that turn into cheerleaders when I need them

…enforcing open spaces on my calendar, that is always so easy to fill ……and on and on…..

Sometimes self-care does mean bubble baths and chocolate cake. Sometimes it means broccoli and running shoes. Learning what it means for me at any given time, can be a very tricky process. When I have a foggy view of self-care, it’s easy to get caught up in indulgence, or pretend to be a martyr. Neither of those put me on the track to my best self.

I’ve been on a journey of understanding and defining what self-care really means. Becoming grounded in the long-term purpose of self-care. Will you join me? Our friends and family need what we each have to offer. The world needs what we have to offer. And we will only have the capacity to positively impact others if we have learned to truly care for ourselves.

 

 

Oregon Adventures

I tried awakening my little guy, who had fallen asleep in the seat next to me. “Channing, we are about to land in Portland! We’re almost to Eliza’s!” It was almost midnight according to his body clock, so it took me a few more tries before he fully awoke. But then – one excited kid!

Our first day in Portland, we drove out to Cannon Beach, eating a delicious lunch at Tom’s Fish and Chips.

Then we headed to the beach. Even though it was a windy, cold, wet day, the beach was beautiful! What fun walking on the shore, picking out our favorite oceanside houses, and looking for beach treasures in the sand!

When we were good and cold, we headed over to Insomnia Coffee. What a darling place!

I could have stayed in their cozy chairs with a book and coffee, for the rest of the day. Channing and Eliza, though – not so much! They thoroughly enjoyed their hot cocoas, then were ready to move on!

So we enjoyed some more ocean views, and drove through the incredibly beautiful Ecola State Park.

It was Downtown Portland by rail the next day, getting lunch from the famous food cart block. Visiting Powell’s books, drinking more coffee, and enjoying all the sasquatch lore that is integral to the Oregon culture.

So many interesting sights, diversity, and authenticity in the city. There was a genuine friendliness that was refreshing. The main social imperative in Portland seems to be – “whatever you are, be a good one”. Okay, I’ll take that.

 

Pine Street Market – a lovely indoor food court, with many local restaurant choices all in one place. A great stop if you would like a roof over your head, but don’t want ordinary….

Channing’s first zoo experience was in Portland. A small, but well-designed, and beautiful place. He especially loved seeing the tiger.

The turtle statue adds so much fun, imagination, and whimsy to this little corner of the zoo!

 

Eliza is turning 8! And we get to help her celebrate!! What can be more fun than a Narwhal Birthday Party?  Just add a delicious Arctic Wildlife cake – baked and decorated by the big sisters!

 

Then it’s home we go! Channing is such a good little traveller! Patient when there are delays, fast when we have to hurry to catch the next flight. I see the potential for a lot of traveling in his future!

 

The incredible views out the plane window remind us that there’s many more adventures yet to come… the world is an oyster –

Chicago – so far I’ve only experienced your airport. The best thing about it is this gorgeous reminder to dream, find your way, and go explore the world……

All the fun, the time zone changes, plus extra time in the airport due to a delayed flight, finally caught up with him…..

Home again – the special experience of flying into a small airport. Walking the tarmac like a boss. We love you, CHO!

 

 

The Five

Let me introduce you to our five boys – in all their handsome, crazy, fun, chaotic, talented, kind (most of the time), energetic glory…

This pic is one of my favorites ever of Eric and the Five… it’s a couple years old, but some things just don’t change, and I think this pic captures the overall dynamic of our boy-filled family so well!

Austin, on the bottom right, is 21, and his brain has already done the amount of thinking that most 50 year-olds have yet to accomplish. He enjoys anything that he believes can help him make money. And he’s done a great job working hard and inspiring the younger brothers that they too have ways to earn money and get ahead in life.

Landen, on the bottom left,  is 18, and he is incredibly gifted in music. Even as a toddler, he sang before he talked, and we knew what song it was – not because we could understand the words – but because the notes were spot on….. He sings, plays guitar, and nearly any other instrument he can get his hands on. He’s also a natural at athletics, and anything with wheels.

Kenley, middle right, is 16, and is even keel and steady, with diverse interests. He is becoming an EMT, and also loves biking with his team, dirt-biking, and Go-Pro, Digital SLR and drone photography, which he uses to make videos for YouTube.

Luke, middle left, is 14, and has a very strong talent for drums. He loves being a part of his school’s Jazz band, and is trying to become the first snare-drum-playing  freshman at his high school next fall. He also loves riding dirt bikes, and is very intrigued with race cars.

Channing, on the top, is 6, and is a people lover, and an excellent communicator. He has many friends, and loves to play outside, ride bikes, and try to keep up with his brothers. His voice and music talents are emerging as well.

They are all amazing gifts, and we are so thankful for them! It’s both scary and exhilarating watching them start trying their wings and moving along their individual paths – each so different, yet all together creating a brilliant and beautiful family tapestry.

Hygge Boxes are now available! Get yours here ↣

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