How to Stay at Home While Living Like a Nomad

 Photo by  Arno Smit  on  Unsplash

Photo by Arno Smit on Unsplash

What would it feel like to live as a Nomad, with all of our affairs in order, knowing we are free? Maybe we are happy at home and have no interest in travel, but who doesn’t harbor a fantasy of walking away from it all on a one-way ticket around the world? How many times do we look around at our Stuff and get the sinking feeling we are not free to do as we please because it would mean dealing with the Stuff first–and that is too daunting and we run to pick up a distraction. What opportunities have we already passed up because we did not feel organized in all of our affairs? What if it took a good 30 days of focused (and I mean focused) work to deal with the Stuff and clear the path for options?  Sure, you may not get to touch in on everything, but you will be amazed at how much more clear your path will become to  you when you can actually see it! How would we feel about our lives if we could face head-on the thought of making a change, no matter how major or minor it may seem to us - move across the country, travel, have a tea party, or know where that pesky piece of paper is when we need it?

It would be a world of new possibilities and choices.

When you take back your space, you take back your life.

 Photo by  Florian Klauer  on  Unsplash

Is there anything more thrilling than staring at a blank canvas? Is there anything more terrifying?

What about when that blank canvas is your home?

After you've sorted, and questioned, and culled. And tossed, and recycled, and donated. After bags and bags of stuff have left your life. After everything has been put in it's place, and labeled. Everything has it's space. Everything has it's place. Everything is set up. Everything is waiting for you to make the next move.

After you've taken your space back. Then it's your turn.

Organizing your home isn't the ending, it's the beginning.

"The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” -Marie Kondo

When you take back your space, you take back your life, and after you take your life back, it's time to start living it. How do you want to live your life? What will you print on your blank canvas?

How do you want to live your life?

 Photo by  Roman Mager  on  Unsplash

Photo by Roman Mager on Unsplash

How do you want to live your life? It's a big question, but when you're organizing, it's an important one.

We all want to live in clean & organized homes - living with mess and clutter isn't pleasant, no matter where or how you live. But what "an organized home" looks like for you is probably going to be different than what an "organized home" looks like to your neighbor.

A big part of decluttering is getting rid of things that no longer 'spark joy.' And the things that no longer spark joy are different for everyone.

While strict minimalism isn't necessary by any means, the fewer things you own that don't spark joy, the easier it is to organize what's left. Most of us hang on to tons of stuff that doesn't spark joy, that we don't like, that we don't need, that we don't want - and all that stuff weights us down.

So, how do you want to live your life?

In your idea world, what would you have around you? What wouldn't you?

The Intensity of Cleaning Up & Clearing Out

 Photo by  Paul  on  Unsplash

Photo by Paul on Unsplash

We spend huge amounts of our lives surrounded by "stuff." Piles of possessions. Mountains of things: things we bought, things we were given, things we don't even remember how we came to be in possession of.

And we spend so much time with these things of ours, that at some point we stop seeing them. We stop seeing the piles of clutter as piles of clutter - they just become part of a daily landscape.

We know the piles are there, and that they are clutter, and that we should probably do something about them, but that never quite happens.

And at some point, the clutter becomes comfortable - familiar. We get attached to our piles of possessions, so that when we do decide to tackle our piles - thoroughly and completely, once and for all - it's a very intense experience.

It turns out that many of us, don't have lots of experience detaching ourselves from our possessions - that's why it's so important to have support when you do a major clean out. Where that support specifically comes from doesn't matter quite as much as making sure you have it.

Support can come from friends or family members, an online community, a book, or even a professional organizer - we just need someone to help us get all the way to the end.

Cleaning up, clearing out, and taking an honest look at everything we own is an extremely intense process - it's why we work so hard to avoid it.

But the feeling of being free, unencumbered by our possessions is completely worth the struggles we go through to get there.

The Importance of Having Support While You Declutter

 Photo by  Paul  on  Unsplash

Photo by Paul on Unsplash

At it's worst, decluttering can be a completely overwhelming and paralyzing experience. But what if it didn't HAVE to be that way?

What if decluttering didn't HAVE to be painful & awful & annoying & boring?

But how could decluttering be anything else? With plenty of support and cheerleading.

Support can come from many places, but the important things that all decluttering support includes are:

1. cheerleading - all of us need cheerleading at some point when we're decluttering, so having someone to give us a little pep talk can give us the encouragement we need to keep going.

2. accountability - sometimes we need someone to stop us from just shoving all our piles under the bed, or in the closet, so having someone to help us keep ourselves accountable in a way that works for us, helps keep us from quitting halfway.

3. clear headedness - decluttering can be an intense process, bringing up all sorts of emotional gunk, so sometimes we need someone to keep a clear head while we mourn the single sock that used to make up one half of our favorite pair of socks.

Cheerleading. Accountability. Clear Headedness. The decluttering support system trifecta.

Where exactly your support comes from, is best determined by you. You could call on your friends, your family, an online community, a book, a method, or even a professional organizer (like me!) - but so long as your support system provides cheerleading, accountably, and clear headedness, you should be good to go.

What do you want your home to feel like?

 Photo by  Jim DiGritz  on  Unsplash

Photo by Jim DiGritz on Unsplash

"Life, is for most of us one long postponement." -Henry Miller

If you close your eyes, and imagine coming home, walking up to your front door, unlocking the lock, opening the door, and stepping inside, what does your entrance-way look like? How does it feel? What do you wish the entrance to your home looked like?

If you were to actually walk into your house right now, what would it look like? What would it feel like?

One final question, what do you wish it felt like when you walked in the door? Imagine it felt peaceful, or inviting, or comfortable. Imagine walking in the door and not feeling overwhelmed by all the stuff, the mess, the clutter, the filled to the brim-ness of it.

"…what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life."Marie Kondo, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up"

No one wants to feel overwhelmed when they come home. But more often than not, we do, and it sucks.

Clutter and overwhelm, unfortunately go hand in hand. When we're overwhelmed, we're less likely to organize, which leads to clutter, which feeds the overwhelm, which leads to more clutter piling up. And pretty soon, there's so much clutter that you have no idea where to start.

Clutter isn't usually the root cause of overwhelm, but certainly doesn't help things, and eventually it becomes a source of overwhelm in and of itself.

Having said that, what if we eliminate clutter, so that it can no longer be a source of overwhelm? And if you could walk into your home and not feel overwhelmed by clutter, what lengths would you go to, to keep it that way?

Ask for Help and Fall in Love

 Photo by  Annie Spratt  on  Unsplash

You may not believe it, but I've come to know  that it’s a sign of strength to ask for help.  For the longest time I believed what I was told: that I should be able pick myself up by the bootstraps and power through it – whatever the “it” is – sound familiar?  I've compiled this short list of the many ways you – my clients – support me, and offer these in turn to support you.  I want you to fall in love with yourself, and the tasks you set for yourself. You are making a new relationship to things, and this is my commitment statement to you:

  • You have many talents, some not yet realized. I am here to help you clear space for realizing more of your talents.
  • You feel safe with me and know I won’t judge you. Nothing is a surprise to me.
  • You have been through your share of difficulties and have survived.  Now it is time to fully thrive.
  • You have a sense of humor about your predicament.  I will laugh alongside with you.
  • You are seriously ready for change in your life, and willing to put the effort in that is required. I support you in your effort and will help you take action.
  • You have an appreciation of beauty, starting with your own inner and outer strengths. You can access these more fully when you clear out the clutter.
  • The things you love, you cherish. I will never ask you to give up what you love.
  • You know what it means to take care of yourself.  I can help you do that in this area of your life.
  • You love a good pair of shoes.  Me too.
  • You feel a sense of urgency about your organizing project.  I value your time.
  • You are eager to start and complete this process called organizing, because it will allow you to focus on your dreams.
  • You believe in your dreams.  I want you to realize your dreams.
  • You are excited by imaging how much better your life will feel when things are in order.  It brings me joy.
  • You realize organizing is a process.  No need to rush.
  • Because you want to be happy at Home. Now.  You love yourself and your life. 

Let's change the question from 'what can I get rid of?' to 'what sparks joy?'

 Photo by  Roman Kraft  on  Unsplash

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

Ever since I was first introduced to Marie Kondo's book and the KonMari Method I was enamored by the possibility of organizing my home (and my clients homes) once and for all.

Most of the time we start cleaning/organizing/decluttering by asking the question "What can we get rid of?"

What can we get rid of? When was the last time we used it? Do we have multiples? Do we really need it?

We focus on the "getting rid of" aspect.

The KonMari Method asks "What sparks joy?"

Does this spark joy in us? - This question focuses on the "keeping & fulfilling" aspect.

What would life feel like if everything in our home sparked joy? How amazing would it be to come home to that? And what would you do to keep that feeling?

Once you have the feeling of walking into a home where every object sparks joy, would you ever again tolerate objects that didn't spark joy?

Let's change the question from "what can we get rid of?" to "what sparks joy?"

The Difficulties of Describing, and the Inherent Contradictions of Wabi-Sabi

 Photo by  Cater Yang  on  Unsplash

Photo by Cater Yang on Unsplash

How do you describe or explain an aesthetic that is inherently contradictory?

Perfect imperfection is wabi-sabi's inherent contradiction, and as an aesthetic that embraces life's imperfections, wabi-sabi also embraces life's ambiguities.

So, maybe the best way to describe wabi-sabi is through other author's writings and quotes.

And we're not alone in our stumbling over an explanation for wabi-sabi, in "Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers" Leonard Koren writes,

"When asked what wabi-sabi is, most Japanese will shake their head, hesitate, and offer a few apologetic words about how difficult it is to explain. Although almost every Japanese will claim to understand the feeling of wabi-sabi - it is, after all, supposed to be one of the core concepts of Japanese culture - very few can articulate this feeling."

From the book description of "Living Wabi Sabi: The True Beauty of Your Life" by Taro Gold,

"Wabi Sabi helps us to see the beauty in imperfection, to discover that our unique flaws also can lead us to our greatest strengths and treasures…. What is Wabi Sabi? A universal ideal of beauty, Wabi Sabi celebrates the basic, the unique, and the imperfect parts of our lives. Wabi Sabi is the comfortable joy you felt as a child, happily singing off key, creatively coloring outside the lines, and mispronouncing words with gusto. On a deeper level, Wabi Sabi is the profound awareness of our oneness with all life and the environment. It includes a deep awareness of the choices we make each day, the power we have to accept or reject each moment of our lives, and to find value in every experience."

And from Taro Gold's book itself, "Appreciate this and every moment, no matter how imperfect, for this moment is your life. When you reject this moment, you reject your life. You don't have to settle for this moment, you are free to steer a different course, but for now, this moment is yours, so be mindful to make the most of it."

In "Wabi Sabi Simple" Richard Powell writes, "Wabi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect."

"If an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi-sabi." Wrote Andrew Juniper in "Wabi Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence"

And bringing it back to Leonard Koren, in "Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers," "Wabi-sabi is exactly about the delicate balance between the pleasure we get from things and the pleasure we get from freedom of things."

So, maybe wabi-sabi really is best summed up by the phrase "perfectly imperfect." Everything - life, us, our families, our neighbors, our homes, even the description of wabi-sabi is - perfectly imperfect.

Time to Organize Life Around Cooking & Baking (at least this time of year)

kitchen 5 VivianJohnson.jpg

It’s already Tuesday and I am only slowly climbing, one minute at a time, out of a Monday slump. Today feels better than yesterday.

Progress Not Perfection.

I messed around with a few items on my to-do list but was feeling off – every thought seemed to trail off to the next with no consistency. Looking back on the weekend I realized I was either busy learning or doing, no time for just being.

There was no point in pushing myself and over-riding my feelings..

If I had gone down that road I would have felt more blue and prickly. I racked my brain for a simple way to feel better, more grounded (and I mean back-to-earth!).

Thank god I remembered cooking, and especially baking, which makes everything lighter, dare I say happier? I feel a bit of shame admitting that fact, how crazy is that? Is baking going to get me closer to my goals—sometimes is it not better to just live and be satisfied with ordinary chores, which is what most of the day is made up of anyway: not a glamorous fact.

Luckily I had a bunch of plantains hanging in my studio (first time ever) that were getting to the over-ripe-ready-for-banana-bread-stage. I purged most of my recipes years ago, so next stop random internet searching which brought me to Nigella (first time ever) and then stops at two of my favorite food bloggers Molly and Heidi. I cannot follow one recipe exactly, so I combined the three into one, taking the powder chocolate idea from Nigella. Yes, I felt more settled down after the experience AND it gave me a break from thinking non-helpful thoughts. And yes, I cooked again today.

What my organizing & design clients have in common & it makes me love them!

shelving 2 VivianJohnson.jpg

You know it’s a sign of strength to ask for help, but for the longest time  thought you should be able pick yourself up by the bootstraps and power through it.

You have many talents (some not realized).

You feel safe with me & know I won’t judge you.

You have been through your share of difficulties and have survived (and usually thrived).

You have a sense of humour about your predicament.

You are seriously ready for change in your life, and willing to put the effort in.

You have an appreciation of beauty and independence.

The things you love, you cherish.

You know what it means to take care of yourself.

You love a good pair of shoes

You feel a sense of urgency about your organizing project

You are eager to start (and complete) this process called organizing, because that means you can focus on your dreams.

You are excited by imaging how much better your life will feel when things are in order.

You realize organizing is a process, AND

Because you want to be happy at Home. Now.