Posts Tagged ‘the life-changing magic of tidying up’

Get Going On Great Love, Fun Love, Happier Love. PART 1

Note: Because the upcoming conversation is substantial, I’ll break it down into bite size pieces. Here we go with PART 1.

A couple years ago, I read “Talk Like Ted” by Carmine Gallo, about the qualities of great Ted Talks. Mr. Gallo helps corporate executives craft unforgettable presentations. 

His book was a little daunting (so much to know, so many ways to go about improving), but I read every page, sometimes studying carefully, sometimes flying through. I learned as much as I could absorb. I read things that made perfect sense to me. I read things I know. 

I also realized how much I didn’t know. There were details I had never considered regarding coming up with a great 18 minute talk. As it turns out, not surprisingly, there was a pretty big bushel (or two or ten) I didn’t know.

After reading his book, I found myself thinking about how people most likely feel the first time they see me about their relationship. They are “dears in the headlights” (yes, spelled that way on purpose).

They have no idea what to do about their relationship or how to start or why things feel so awful.

Or they think they know how it should work, and the one who knows how it should work has often dragged the other along to get my assistance in convincing the partner. (Always a revealing discussion!)

Some simply want relief. Help. Extra chocolate. Something! They want something sweeter than what they have now and they have a sense that what they want is possible, albeit a mystery as to how to get there.

In beginning sessions, after concerns and wishes are raised, there is usually a defining moment when at least one of the individuals begins to realize how much s/he doesn’t know about getting along.

This moment marks the dawning of all good things.

There is a point where it is realized that getting along requires something entirely different than once thought, which causes a tiny brain explosion. (I’ve watched this hundreds of times.)

Sitting back in their seats, they wonder quietly if they are up for focusing on themselves and making changes in (only) themselves.

(They were hoping to avoid that.)

But you know what? It only takes one person who is willing. If both people jump on board, that’s a bonus, making the process easier, and also truly something to behold.

A “no turning back” point for couples is when they have the same dawning realization I had upon reading “Talk Like Ted” — there’s a different approach or angle to the story than they thought, and any changes made will be completely up to them!

I understand…

HOLDING HANDS DURING CHANGE

There are advantages to holding hands with an expert while learning something new, that’s for sure.

There were many times I wished Carmine Gallo would leap out of the book (in a superman cape, why not…) and tell me personally how to zero in on information that applied specifically to me and my style of speaking.

It would have been nice to have his one-on-one guidance coming up with a great presentation instead of fumbling a bit clumsily with what he knows. Could his hand perhaps come through the veil of pages and present me with three easy steps to get started? How does one begin a multi-faceted, multi-level change or learning process in a maize of so many improvement trails?

(Cue Julie Andrews singing “Let’s start at the very beginning… a very good place to start…”)

SURE, START AT THE BEGINNING — BUT WHERE IS THAT?

Every board game has a clear starting place. When players place their game pieces in a precise spot, the game begins. It’s easy!

Maybe it’s true with relationships, too, that starting on the same page is helpful. If so, what’s the beginning square in the board game of relationships? 

To answer that fully, I’m going to talk about closets. (Don’t worry, we’ll get there!)

THE CLOSET METHOD

One way to improve something in the absence of a mentor is to apply what you know in an area of your life where you’re successful to an area that could use a little help.

In a recent blog, I spoke of the marvels of closet cleaning.

Let’s say I was a good closet cleaning student. Now I know how to clean my closet and keep it that way.

Could I apply simple closet cleaning principles to improving my love relationship?

Yes, most likely. Let’s see how that would translate.

Learning to tidy my closet successfully, I discovered, is a game-changer.

Why?

Because I had been so sure that cleaning my closet was just, well,  cleaning my closet. You know, clean it up! Move things around. Make it look better.

(That’s also what people try to do with their intimate relationship.)

But as it turns out, until recently, I actually had no idea how to clean my closet because I never seemed to be able to clean it in a way that would keep it naturally tidy. My cleaning methods didn’t maintain the beauty or functionality of my closet.

That was frustrating. Tiring. It got old.

(Similarly, the way many people attempt to maintain their relationship doesn’t work, either. Most relationships tend to be a little on the messy side, and people often use duct tape methods to try to get things back in order.)

WHERE YOU START MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE

By reading a simple, short book with a clear approach, I learned to start in a different place. Marie Kondo taught me to take everything out of my closet, handle each item and put back only what sparks joy.

That’s a different idea for sure! But I found it to be simple, straightforward and something I could do. 

And most importantly, I did it!

She taught me three easy steps.

  • Notice what I have in my closet. 
  • Get rid of items that don’t spark joy.
  • Organize what’s left.

In more detail, to tidy my closet I learned to:

  • Notice each piece of clothing in my closet. Take everything out of the closet. Handle each item. Become fully aware of every single thing that’s there.
  • Sort/purge. As I pick up each item, I ask myself, “Does this item of clothing spark joy?” If it does, I keep it. If it doesn’t, I set it aside to give away or sell.
  • Then, and only then, I organize everything that remains.

THE RESULTS?

Now it’s easier to get dressed. My closet feels good when I walk in.

Also, my choices are clear. There is no thumbing through to find something acceptable because every piece of clothing was deliberately and consciously chosen by me. What’s there makes me happy, so any choice is a good one.

My clothing is hanging freely (it’s not crowded) and the line up of what I’ve got is easy on the eyes. It flows by color. I have room left over, too, and I enjoy the feeling of breathing space.

What’s most amazing, is that I find new combinations that I’ve never worn. It feels like I have a new wardrobe. Never in a million years could I have predicted that.

How would this translate to my relationship with my husband, let’s say, if I did the same process?

First, a sidebar hint.

Don’t start improving your relationship with your partner by practicing with your partner. Start with someone else, preferably with someone you don’t know. It’s easier.

(Similarly, it’s easier to clean a friend’s closet than your own.)

THE TRANSLATION

To take what I know about cleaning my closet and apply it to getting along better with my husband, how would I use the three steps I learned? Here’s the overview.

  • Today, I become more aware of my interactions with other people (not my husband) — what I say, do and think.
  • Sort and purge. As I speak, I filter my words through my heart, noticing how my words make me feel. Does what I’m saying feel good? If it does, I keep speaking. If it doesn’t feel great, I change course if I can. (There is much more to this step, which I’ll cover in another blog.)
  • I organize what’s left. (Again, more about this step in another blog.)

Eventually, I weed out assumptions, interpretations, and responses from me that don’t result in a more joyful me. I remove them from my available choices. I simply “don’t go there.”

Then, because I’ve got fewer (but more enjoyable) choices, I have room to breathe. More clarity. Less clutter. I am able to make better choices for me (not for anyone else).

This causes a “holy-moly” moment.

I notice a pattern of mine begin to change.

Instead of defending myself, I pause before responding. Instead of yelling back, I breathe and consider.

Instead of speaking so much, I listen more. Instead of telling or preaching or talking over someone, I ask questions.

Instead of repeating my past or reciting what I’ve been taught, I am curious. I learn new ways of being.

I take a road less traveled.

As much as possible, I consciously set aside what I used to say that caused stress in me and take a moment of breathing space to see what else I’ve got instead. I sit in the wide open field of possibilities and learn about myself.

I practice curiosity.

That’s holy-moly.

SOME GOOD NEWS

After eventually completing the first two steps, what remains practically organizes itself and what’s there makes me happy. My available responses also match, blend easily and create a natural flow from me to others. I feel freer. Because I’m more natural, my relationships brighten.

I know, easier said than done.

(Here’s where we all need someone leaping out in the superman/wonder woman cape to help us with the hard parts…)

To be effective and real and authentic, every cell of my body and soul must come along for the ride, not just my mind. Changing a habit of response is not a “one and done” decision. It’s a process and often it takes longer than I might prefer.

Compared to cleaning my closet, cleaning up my role in a relationship is a graduate course for sure. Working with my relationship is deeper, more complicated, and more multi-faceted than the simple act of removing a pair of shoes from my closet that I don’t wear and giving them away.

(But go ahead, start with your closet! It’s good practice and prepares you for something bigger.)

STEP ONE, I NOTICE 

“I’m reacting strongly here.” 

“This conversation makes me tired. I want to go to sleep.”

“I’ve lost my patience.”

“I think he needs to change his ways.”

“I don’t like you…at all.”

“I’m mad as a wet hen about this.”

“I want to quit. Give up.”

For Step One, I don’t do anything about what’s hanging in my relationship closet. I simply start to notice what’s there — the “good, the bad and the ugly,” as well as the compassionate, the loving, the open-hearted.

Everything. Notice everything. Make notes.

In upcoming blogs, I’ll talk more about noticing what’s in your closet.

I’ll also talk about the game-changing twist to the tidying principle that messes up relationships fast. And, oh by the way, understanding this twist is no small thing — it can single-handedly save a partnership, work relationship, friendship, or family connection.

Alright, everyone, put your “noticing” glasses on, and begin to be more aware of your reactions, responses. This includes words, thoughts and feelings. Don’t worry about what to keep or what to throw away.

Have fun with Step One and feel free to ask questions or report how it’s going. 

PS There’s always more to the story. At this point, there are 3 more installments to this story, but it depends on what you say back, what questions you have, what you want to know. Keep me posted if you’re willing.

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When Less Is Truly More

I’m lightening.

Unburdening.

Every day I get rid of things. I give away, recycle, donate, sell. The energy in the house is moving again, and that feels good.

It’s amazing how much there is to do when someone dies. Everything a person owned, wore, used, collected, emailed, read or filed has to be dealt with in some way.

While I knew that (how could I not?) I didn’t really know that. Not really.

Unfortunately or fortunately, my house has great closets, a giant walk-in pantry, and other roomy storage spaces. All the better to stash things, all the better to say “I’ll deal with that later.”

Which is exactly what we did.

Unfortunately.

So now, every day I’m lightening. Sorting. Giving away. Going through. Discarding.

And then I fall into bed and get up the next morning and do it all over again.

THE JAPANESE WAY

A few months before Eric passed, I knew there was going to be big work ahead. To prepare myself I read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo.

My emotional and attitudinal state while reading her book ranged from fairly OK to complete horror.

Fairly OK: “Alright, alright, I’ll sort. I have too much stuff.”

Appreciation:  She says tidying doesn’t mean you are choosing what to get rid of, you’re choosing what to keep. That’s a nice focus.

Total agreement: She believes that discarding is always a first step. Then store. That made perfect sense.

Silent awe: She proposes that those of us who can’t keep a tidy home don’t have an organizing problem, we have an excess problem. She says we simply have too many things.

Complete horror: She advises sorting belongings by category, not location. This means, according to the tidy Ms. Kondo, that you bring ALL the clothes in your home to one location for sorting. (Oh, Gawd, no… me and whose army is going to do this? Shall we break out the tequila? How does one get through this project in any sort of timely manner?!?)

She’s got a legitimate point, though. It’s the only way to see the enormity of what we own. With or without the tequila, a sobering exercise, I’m sure.

All in all, she’s got a great book full of helpful hints, including mystifying categories such as photos, sentimental items, lecture materials, credit card statements, and yes, even spare buttons. She is thorough.

TWO GUYS WHO TEACH “LESS IS MORE”

For inspiration to party on (keep cleaning and sorting) I’ve  listened to the gentlemen who call themselves The Minimalists.

They point to research saying that spending money on experiences rather than things makes us happier. (I get this. It could be my new trend.)

One of their experiments, however, involved an awareness exercise — don’t buy any new gadgets, clothes… (I don’t remember the extensive list) for a year. Obviously, they bought food. While I get their point, the challenge sounds unnecessarily stressful to me. 

After that, they began a practice of waiting before buying. If they saw a cool new toy in the store, they waited a certain period of time to see if it still rang their chimes. If it was a must-buy after this waiting period, they bought it. Otherwise, they let it go.

The minimalist approach to living touts that clarity increases when you’ve sorted your possessions and keep only what sparks joy. Life is simpler. More manageable. There’s time for more important things when our stuff is in order.

I get it.

Having less is a good thing. Keeping only things that bring me joy is a very good thing.

I’m on it.

Now, back to sorting…

 

 

 

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Rise Up by Andra Day

What a great set of words for these oncoming days.

Rise Up

 
You’re broken down and tired
Of living life on a merry go round
And you can’t find the fighter
But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out
And move mountains
We gonna walk it out
And move mountains
And I’ll rise up
I’ll rise like the day
I’ll rise up
I’ll rise unafraid
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again
And I’ll rise up
High like the waves
I’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again
For you
For you
For you
For you
When the silence isn’t quiet
And it feels like it’s getting hard to breathe
And I know you feel like dying
But I promise we’ll take the world to its feet
And move mountains
Bring it to its feet
And move mountains
And I’ll rise up
I’ll rise like the day
I’ll rise up
I’ll rise unafraid
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again
For you
For you
For you
For you
All we need, all we need is hope
And for that we have each other
And for that we have each other
And we will rise
We will rise
We’ll rise, oh, oh
We’ll rise
I’ll rise up
Rise like the day
I’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
I will rise a thousand times again
And we’ll rise up
High like the waves
We’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
We’ll rise up
And we’ll do it a thousand times again
For you
For you
For you
For you
Ah, ah, ah, ah
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Cassandra Monique Batie / Jennifer Decilveo
Rise Up lyrics © BMG Rights Management

Terri’s book of photography combined with poetry is here! 100 Words: Small Servings of Whimsy and Wisdom to Calm the Mind and Nourish the Heart.

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Rippling Abs, Anyone?

Rippling Abs, Anyone?

During this strange time in history, I noticed y’all were tackling all sorts of interesting projects. I decided I needed one, too—something positive to remember the pandemic of 2020 by.
 
I decided to pay attention to something I had abandoned…
 
Nope, I’m not cleaning my garage. I am not organizing one single thing. I’m not planting a garden or cleaning up my yard.
 
Instead, I decided to take care of myself better. This, folks, has made all the difference for me.
 
With relatively little time and effort on my part, I feel so much better than I did a month ago.
 
On March 30, I got on the exercise bike and the yoga mat for the first time in a long time, and did 30 minutes each. I liked it so much that I decided to do it every day. But I fell short of that, and changed my commitment to every other day, which felt more manageable, reasonable, and doable.
 
I also get off the bike after every song, take a couple of sips of water, shake out my legs and arms for a few seconds, and get back on. This makes the bike project a reasonable proposition, too.
 
Daily walks of any length—by myself, or with my little guy, Jackson—are a fresh air bonus.
 
My recumbent exercise bike has pulleys to work my upper body while I pedal, which gets my heart rate up fast, and also helps my whole-body strength. It feels good to get up from writing, or doing a consulting session with a client, to do something physically challenging while listening to good music.
 
After only a month, I feel a sheet of muscles on the front of me I haven’t felt for a very, very long time. Goodness gracious. Who knew they were there. I’ll be posting rippling ab photos soon, I’m sure.
 
I have no idea what the scales have to say about my bike/yoga project—I don’t care. Paying attention to scales tends to send me sideways, and therefore, I’m ignoring them completely.
 
But—I LOVE the way I feel! Hang in there, everyone.
 

Terri’s book of photography combined with poetry is here! 100 Words: Small Servings of Whimsy and Wisdom to Calm the Mind and Nourish the Heart.

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Check Out This Troublemaker in Relationships

Check Out This Troublemaker in Relationships

Sometimes we ask intimate partners to do for us what is actually ours to do.

We ask our partner to give us the reassurance, love or appreciation we feel is missing in ourselves, with the hope that they will give us what we’re asking for—and then we’ll feel better. They’ll take care of our problem.

But when they do give us what we’re asking for, it can never be enough, because we have insufficient context for what they’ve given. We haven’t build the inner foundation to receive it, hear it, welcome it, believe it. They try to help, but their love for us falls into our void, our black hole, our love bucket with no bottom.

As always, there’s hope. Check out the video below.

Terri Crosby. http://www.incareofrelationships.com/.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

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Terri Crosby

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