Tag Archives: home

the meditation of cleaning house

There is a certain sense of accomplishment that comes along with having a clean home.  I find there is pleasure not only in the final product, but also in the process.  I wouldn’t say I love to clean, but I do love when it is clean; but to get to that point, the action has to be taken.

I devote certain days to cleaning.  I do a seasonal deep cleaning, so like spring cleaning four times a year.  I love the freshness of this routine.  It helps me get to the areas that I may have forgotten or overlooked during my routine cleaning.  It is also that sense of accomplishment that rewards me every time I do it.  It also helps me to flush out the unwanted clutter that somehow always seems to make its way back into my spaces.

Yesterday was one of those seasonal deep cleaning days.  It was the three of us working away at it.  Ok, it was mostly me, and my older son was a great help, but the younger one did minimal work because he has been down with a hefty cold and lacking on energy.  Still, that feeling when you sit down, sore back and dried out hands from soapy water washes…that feeling is so rewarding.  Good, old fashioned manual labor.  It still has a place in our technologically driven world.

With a minimalist-style lifestyle, the seasonal cleaning sessions, as well as the weekly and daily I might add, they have become easier and shorter sessions.  They no longer take a week, or a weekend.  They take an afternoon, give or take.  Another reason why I adore this philosophy.  Now there is more time to do what I want, and I was able to sleep well last night knowing that the chore of house cleaning was completed.

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the gift of joy

The old adage “‘Tis better to give than to receive” has been spoken so many times.  I feel like sometimes it has no meaning left anymore.  In this world of materialism, of keeping up with the Jones’ despite what it does to our bank accounts or stress levels knowing the financial strain it places on us just to keep up.  The world we live in wants more and more.  Gluttony abounds.

For so many years, I would go and buy presents for myself (including when I was still married because my ex couldn’t make any effort to do anything for anyone).  I would wrap them and place them under the tree.  On Christmas morning, as I unwrapped these gifts that were labelled as being from everyone else, I would pretend to be surprised by the gifts.

I am no longer doing this.  This year, I have been forthcoming with my children and told them that I do not need gifts under the tree.  You see, my sons, knowing that there is not a significant other in my life and knowing all my family lives far away, they realize that there is nobody who can take them out to buy me Christmas presents.  Their father? I think he would sooner see me dead than help them buy gifts and they know it all too well.  They don’t dare ask.

So this year, I have invited my boys to join me in choosing a senior from the community who is in need of items.  We went down to our local London Drugs and chose a card together off the tree.  They wanted to choose a man, so we did.  Many asked for essential items such as deodorant or razor blades.  Our senior did also, but he also needs a blanket and would like some socks and such.  We have gathered up the items requested, and added in some chocolates, tea, and handmade men’s slippers.  I am currently making a new hat for the gift also.  We will together write our holiday wishes into a Christmas card, and when finished, we will take the package back to the store where they will give the gift to our senior.

The other gift I am giving myself is the gift to another single parent.  Being in the position I am, I know how sometimes the holidays can be difficult without extended family nearby, and to do all the Christmas stuff yourself as a single parent.  I am gifting a photoshoot to a single parent (maybe two, dependent on time), who has no family nearby.  The photoshoot is for the parent and their family.  No strings attached.  No contracts.  No expectations for ordering images.  The photoshoot is going to be done because it feels good to give something to someone else without any expectations.  The parent will receive all the photos edited on a memory stick and they can be printed or not, shared or not.  Totally up to them.

This, to me, is what the holiday spirit is about.  It isn’t about how much you get.  It isn’t about how much you spend.  It isn’t about outdoing the other parent in a bidding war over the children’s love.  It’s about integrity, compassion, and caring for those in our lives and our communities.  Christmas is about loving one another regardless of race, creed, personal preference.  Christmas is about harmony.  Christmas is about joy.

I believe this will be my best Christmas yet.

me without you

If you pay attention, there seems to be consistencies in life.  Things that repeat, or certain days or times that seem to be relevant.  Perhaps this hasn’t happened to you, or perhaps you just haven’t noticed it?  I have.

November 12 has been a recurring important day in my life.  Some for small reasons, and others are more monumental.  The biggest one in my life is that it is the anniversary of my breaking free of my marriage.  Yesterday was my four year me-anniversary.  As I reflected back on how far I have come in those four years, I do believe all the hurt and pain, all the problems and fear that went along with it was worth it.  Breaking free from an unhealthy relationship, a controlling relationship, a manipulative relationship was the absolute best thing I have done for myself and my children.

I saw that in those four years, I have stood on my own two feet.  I have found my voice and learned how to use it.  I have stood up for what I believe in, learned to give in a little to the things that matter less.  I have learned that it is not just ok to show affection and emotion, but that it is the only way I want to live my life.  I am unapologetic in how I live, for it is my life, not yours.  I have bought a house but more importantly, built a home with love where my family can feel safe without judgement.  I have grown a family beyond blood that includes all kinds of friends and furfriends.  In those four years, I have learned to explore, to take the next step, to not let my fears restrict me, and to live on the cusp of my discomfort and continue on because this is how we grow.  I have learned to say no when I need to, and to say yes when I want to.  I have indulged myself and grown a passion.  I have let go of the things I thought I needed to be without regret.  I have learned that it is ok to have my own style and that the only one I need to please is me.

In those four years, I have found me.  So the only thing I can say to those who are currently at the start of their journey, or looking at ending a marriage is: I know where I was at and had no idea where the next step would lead me to, but looking back at the path I took, I have no regrets.  I survived as countless others have.  And at your four year you-anniversary, look back and see what it is you have been able to do for you.  You might be amazed to see that the person you are right now is not who you will be four years into your own story.

the concept of happiness

I think we all struggle with being happy from time to time.  The ebbs and flows of the emotional sea don’t stay constant in an euphoric state.  There are a myriad of quotes that attempt to explain why it’s ok.  

Without the rain, there would never be rainbows.

Insert your favourite quote here…

Sometimes I think happiness is a choice.  Sometimes I struggle with the hand I’ve been dealt in life and wonder why I’ve been given what I have, then wallow in self pity because of it.  I think it safe to assume we have all been there.  

So here I am, contemplating this concept of happiness.  As I read more and more about those who have less and less, it really does appear to be a conscious decision on whether or not we choose to be happy.  Interesting concept.  I’ve been reading how we can only have enough energy to make so many decisions in one day, so paring down to necessary items can reduce the number of unnecessary decisions being made in a day which leaves you with the energy to focus on the more important  decisions.  Maybe there’s something to that.  Less trivial decisions mean you can devote time to the meaningful stuff. By not putting off the meaningful stuff means less stress of knowing there is a weight on your shoulders waiting for you to address it…that looming dark cloud of problems needing to be tackled.

Happiness as a choice means you choose to let some things go. Like in meditation, we notice those thoughts entering in, acknowledge them, and mentally sweep them away.  Perhaps unhappiness can be something like that in our consciousness.

What if happiness truly is independent of our possessions?

There are a lot of people who would argue against this statement.  Any business who depends on consumerism. If the concept of happiness independent of material goods caught on, many of these businesspeople would no longer be making their millions of dollars a year. My materialistic ex would never agree with this statement, particularly when he bought four brand-spanking-new vehicles in a span of two years.  But there are many, many people in our first world countries who choose to subscribe to this concept of minimalism and the decision to be happy.  This happiness seems to resonate on a higher frequency. This is something I have experienced. It is incredibly satisfying. Then to find the consumerism re-enter my life, slowly at first, it has made a negative impact on my life.  Decisions to clean and declutter make me depressed. It’s like a punishment that keeps me from doing what I love.  I want to create. I want to write, paint, be creative in my post production for my photography, but it all gets put aside because how do I justify doing things that bring me joy when I have a mess everywhere, no space to work, and have problems finding the things I would need to accomplish my creative product?

So, here.  This is the concept of happiness.  I am choosing to be happy. I am tackling the evils of consumerism and materialistic ways.  I am removing these unnecessary things from my space and allowing happiness to move in.  Happiness is a much better housemate. 

I choose happiness.

motivation to declutter

It takes making a mess in order to have things clean and tidy.  I know this, and perhaps sometimes that’s the deterrent to decluttering.  It’s already feeling like a mess, but I’m going to be making a bigger mess.

Keep the end product in mind though.  Decluttering and removing those unwanted, unloved, unneeded items will clear your space for those things you do want, love and need.  Removing those items that bring back hurtful memories and the past that you want and need to part with will also clear physical space for the joyful pieces, but more importantly, it removes the negative items from your head and heart, allowing you to move forward in your life.  One of the most liberating things I had done was finally removing my old wedding dress and wedding cake topper from my home.  Removing those key items from my house was in a way, permission to move forward with my life.  To say yes to my new path, and to be excited about it.

We all tend to collect stuff.  It’s a result of living in a consumer driven environment.  We end up with too much.  It becomes overwhelming.  We look at the mess, knowing we need to clean, but it becomes too much.  The mental work is exhausting.  Let’s put it off for another day…but that looming overhead creates mental clutter.

The mess you make today will serve you for tomorrow.  Don’t wait to get started.  The result is worth it.

the art of minimalism

I have been doing a lot of reading lately. A lot. Much of it has been blog posts and articles on minimalism.  I need that extra encouragement and motivation to get back to some simplicity, as many of us do from time to time.

When my exhusband and I first parted ways, I bought a home for myself and my sons. We didn’t have a lot to put into our home, and it seemed rather bare.  I wanted to buy quality furniture that would last for a good long time, but I also wanted it to fit into our lifestyle. I also didn’t want to go into debt just to furnish the house.  So, some pieces came from Ikea, or ikea-esk shops.  Relatively inexpensive, but will do the job needed until I was ready to get the real deal.  And it was fine to start with.  We were just incredibly happy to be moving on with life in a positive note. 

After about five months, I found the dining set that spoke to me.  It had a rustic style, was made with refurbished wood, and the hardware was handmade.  It spoke to me on so many levels.  The style, the reuse of resources, the handmade personal touches.  It felt very earthy and helped me feel connected to nature the way I like to be.   I had saved the money needed which was great because that meant I wasn’t going into debt to buy this gorgeous piece of furniture.  

This was the only piece of furniture I have purchased for the house.  In all fairness, we don’t need anything else at this point badly enough to warrant the spending.  But where we did go wrong was the little spending.  The toys that add up but don’t get played with.  The extra craft supplies that we bought without specific purpose but had grand ideas for.  The extra stuff for Christmas that really wasn’t needed, wanted, or used, but was bought for the sake of volume for Christmas morning. 

Clutter affects us in so many ways.  It affects us mentally because there’s this mess looming over our heads that we know needs cleaning.  The dust that accumulates because we can’t properly dust around the extra stuff.  We just feel better when there is less around us.  I know that, yet I still fell into the trap of having stuff.

So, over the next 50 days, I am embarking on a personal challenge to declutter my home, and prepare a healthy and welcoming environment.  What I am hoping to achieve is mental comfort, a clean home that houses simply what we need or truly want.  Those things that are no longer necessary need to go.  Those things that hold negative feelings and negative memories must leave the premises.  These things create mental clutter, which is just as harmful.  Once this is done, my creative living can have the freedom to expand into the open spaces. And for me, this is very important. 

I encourage everyone to consider how the things in your environment affect you…both good and bad.  Minimalism is not for everyone, and it looks different for everyone too.  What is the same is the stress relieving effect it should provide. 

life is lived in the mundane

I’ve pondered this statement all week. Life is lived in the mundane.  Such a simple statement that holds oh so much truth and wisdom.  Live is lived in the mundane!  We live our lives day by day.  Some constantly live in the past.  Others live in the future.  Who truly lives in the present?  My Buddhist side tells me to live in the present, to believe that it is important to be present and mindful in order to bring joy and happiness to our lives.

Life is lived in the mundane.

This is what it is to live in the present.  We should consider the daily joys of life.  The little things!  When we are constantly considering what went wrong in the past or how we could have changed our present if only we had done this, or hadn’t done that, we are not living in the present but rather living in the past.  When we are constantly looking forward to that next vacation or that next new adventure to get us out of the drudgery of daily life, we are not living in the present, but rather living in the future.  These things steal the joy from the now.

Life is lived in the mundane!

Consider today.  Consider where you are right now.  What joy is present in your life?  It doesn’t need to be expensive or dependent on anyone but yourself.  Find the joy in the now.  Life is lived day by day.  Be present in the mundane.  Find the precious in the every day.  Observe.  Ponder.  Watch the young and impressionable humans discover the beauty in a dandelion.  Relish those little conversations while stuck in traffic on your way to dance or soccer.  Breathe your lion breath in yoga practice today and really consider how wonderful it feels.  Meditate.  Dance.  Create.  Live.  Because one day you just might look back into the past to see that you never truly lived.

Live your life in the mundane.

 

 

thanksgiving

My own personal challenge was to post a weekly blog post every Sunday for a year (at least).  I have been quite good with keeping up with it, but today has been a challenge.

Today is Thanksgiving Sunday here in Canada, and while I do try to be a positive person, I am having a very difficult time with today.  It is difficult to be miles away from family on the holidays.  And it is even more difficult to say goodbye to your children on Thanksgiving Sunday because they have to go to their father’s house despite where they want to be.  To send them off with tears in their eyes because all they really want is to be home is heartbreaking.

stress

How do you deal with stress?  I think sometimes it depends on what causes the stress as to how I deal with it.  This week I was given some news that was unsettling regarding my mother’s health.  I live too far away to be of much help to her, and I think this is one of the most difficult things about moving away from family. 

I cried.  I stress ate.  I had a few drinks. I fidgeted around and let my imagination run wild.  Then I realized that what I really needed was something that could take my mind off the emotional trauma I was putting myself through. What I needed was to feel the physical exhaustion of manual labor. 

So off I went to Home Depot. And back home I came with supplies to replace the flooring in the master bedroom.  It’s something I had been wanting to do for three years, so it wasn’t a total spur of the moment decision.  I lost myself in the project and went to work clearing out the space, pulling up the carpeting and underlay, cleaning everything up, and laying down new flooring.  By the time I was finished, I was tired, physically sore and spent.  But this way I had something to show for the pain I was feeling, and it did take my mind off of things.  

This isn’t always the answer for me, but I think this time it was.  I’m still worried about her, but at least now I feel like I can think more objectively about it.