Nowhere for the Eye to Rest

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Random Items:

The other day I was working with a long distance client in the U.K. and commenting on the videos of her home that she sent me to help her on. Her main areas to work on were her kitchen and her living room. She wanted to spruce them up and learn what items to move, what to de-clutter and how to decorate her space using what she had.

As I looked around her kitchen I noticed that she had some items on top of her kitchen cabinets that she was storing there. Some of the items were in boxes. I couldn’t tell what all of the items were, but I know that they are items that she uses in the kitchen. I asked her if she could perhaps move them to a different area, like the pantry or inside a cabinet because “there is nowhere for the eye to rest.”

By seeing random items on top of cabinets as our eyes move around the room, it creates a bit of unrest, we are unable to find a focal point in the room and it leaves us feeling more stressed. Even though we can get used to items being in random places such as on top of cabinets, there is a hidden stress that is occurring in our environment on a daily basis. Because there is no one focal point for our eyes to rest on we may feel overwhelmed in the rooms in our homes. Our homes can begin to feel more like storage facilities rather than a cozy, peaceful space to live in.

Allowing our Eyes to Rest:

An alternative that allows our eyes to rest is to place a few choice items of a similar size, shape or color on top of the cabinets so that our eyes can rest on those and we find a place of peace and beauty there. Imagine a small collection of 3-5 vases of a similar color, or 3-5 potted plants that add greenery and aliveness to the room. This alternative allows us to take in the beauty of those few things that we have decided to keep and lovingly display instead of viewing our collection of stored items every day.

Action step:

Look around your home and see if your eyes are allowed to rest, or if there are too many items to look at and you feel overwhelmed. Try de-cluttering those items first. Which ones do you need to keep? Do you use them often? With the items you have chosen to keep, where can you store them so that they do get more use? What decorative items do you already have that you can display there instead, or just leave a blank space to enjoy as well. This is a great action step to take with bookshelves and china cabinets with glass doors.

Let me know how you progress with this action step and comment below!

Thank you so much!

Trista

Silent To Do List

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When we let go of our possessions, our ability to concentrate improves. Why might this be? Things don’t just sit there. They send us silent messages. And the more the item has been neglected, the stronger its message will be. Maybe there’s an English textbook that I gave up on before I even got halfway through it. It might be looking at me now and saying something like: “You look bored. Why don’t you try to study me again?”

Fumio Sasaki from his book “Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism.

I recently read Fumio’s book “Goodbye, Things.” and I thought it was a very interesting take on minimalism. I loved a lot of his viewpoints on our possessions and what they mean in our lives. I particularly think that the silent to-do list that our things give to us is worthy of mentioning.

How many times have you felt overwhelmed by your possessions? Are they silently telling you that you have more things to do, more things to add to your daily list?

I have kept many how-to books like the English book he mentioned in the past. They did call to me to study them, and I have since found that if it isn’t a reference I am either studying right now or one that I have continually come back to, I can let it go.

I think that also as we keep more and more things they silently tell us: “I need dusting" or “I need to be organized” or “Look at me, I’m interesting, aren’t I?” All of this can create so much more mental clutter than we are aware of.

I believe that if we use Joyful Minimalism and truly only keep things that we are using currently or we love to have around in our environment that they silent to do list will go away, or be a very short list.

What are your thoughts on the silent to do list? Are your things calling to you? What are they saying? How can you start to change your relationship to your things?

I would love your comments below or write to me at:

trista.signe.ainsworth@gmail.com

-Trista

Becoming Yourself

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But nothing important, or meaningful, or beautiful, or interesting, or great, ever came out of imitations. What is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. More difficult because there is no zeitgeist to read, no template to follow, no mask to wear. Terrifying, actually because it requires you to set aside what your friends expect, what your family and your co-workers demand, what your acquaintances require, to set aside the message this culture sends, through its advertising, its entertainment, its disdain, and its disapproval , about how you should behave.

…..Look, every day, at the choices you are making, and when you ask yourself why you are making them, find this answer: Because they are what I want, or wish for. Because they reflect who and what I am

—Ana Quindlen from the book Being Perfect

Ana Quindlen’s book “Being Perfect” is the most amazing book that I picked up the other day at the library. It is a very short book, but a very powerful one. In it she talks about letting go of being perfect, how it was such a burden, such a pain and how she emerged into really being herself. It is so beautifully written with such a simple, lovely style. It only takes a few minutes to read, but its spell over you lasts a long time.

Imitations:

I just love the quote above from the book. I had this quote marked with a post-it note and knew I had to write about it before I returned the book to the library. The point she makes about nothing beautiful or meaningful ever came of imitations really struck a chord with me. How many times have we tried to imitate someone “successful” in our lives and it just really fell flat. I believe it was because we were just trying to follow their template to success and we were not being our true, authentic core self. How many times have we unconsciously followed the lead of messages we got when we were children about how they world worked? Those methods do not work either because they are also imitations and often of patterns that do not serve us.

Giving up on being perfect:

As a recovering perfectionist I can say that perfectionism feels physically like a deep pain in my shoulders. I actually remember feeling that during the 4 months that I was working at the coffee shop. I was trying so hard to be perfect in so many ways- working lots of hours and lots of days and still trying to do things at home and stay in touch with people. It all turned into physical pain for me. Now that I am lightening my work load and putting less pressure on myself in so many ways I have not had that shoulder pain much. It is amazing at how you can actually be holding your body in a painful position with perfectionism, and when you begin to let it go, the pain goes as well.

Beginning the work of becoming yourself:

I feel that last year after the coffee shop as well as this year has been the beginning of the process of being myself. I find myself really tuning in to what really lights my heart on fire versus the things that somehow I feel I should do. That doesn’t mean that there is no work involved, it just means that I don’t have to be doing constant activity to find the joy and purpose in my life. I believe that this process is like feeling at home, feeling like you are finally going down the right path, the one you were meant to walk down. This is a continual and ever changing process of realizing who my core, authentic self is and how to go about being her. I believe that learning really goes on forever, so I will explore this for a very long time, it’s the first step of a lovely journey to meet myself.

Do my choices reflect who I am?

I think that this question is one that I need to ask daily. I can take a look at the choices I am making. What am I choosing to work on? Who am I choosing to spend time with? How am I choosing to show up in the present moment? So many great questions to see how I am showing up in the world. Is that who I want to be?

I would love to hear from you on how you are becoming more of yourself. Comment below or send me an email at:

trista.signe.ainsworth@gmail.com

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you!

-Trista

Workaholism

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My name is Trista and I am a recovering workaholic. This is exactly what I would say if a workaholics anonymous group existed. This is a subject that I am continually exploring and I learned a lot about last year after spending 4 months working at the coffee shop waking up at 3:45am and then going home each day at 2pm, picking up my son, & then having lots of work to do at home were just insane! What I learned from that experience was that there is only so much work one person can do in a day and that we need to give ourselves more breaks, more days off and more relaxation time.

Productive Time:

I have always loved to feel productive and busy. I am kind of a “busy bee” type. I am always fidgeting, always going around the house looking for things I think need to be done. I love to do things like iron, organize stuff and de-clutter. However, I am learning that there has to be a balance there. Now when I make my planning sheets for my daily tasks I actually write down things like “break time.” This may seem crazy to some, but to a workaholic like me, it is a lifeline and a way that I can let myself take some time to relax and enjoy life.

Sometimes there is a big difference between being “busy” and being productive. I can have a tendency to spend too much time on social media, thinking that staying in touch with everyone is super productive when I should just take that time to read a good book, enjoy my lunch, go out for a coffee or go for a walk. I am now working on having a specific time window that is for productive work time activities like writing blog posts, marketing, writing newsletters, writing course materials, creating videos, setting up appointments and things like that. After that time window is finished, then I can spend time taking a lunch break, working on some fun hobbies like learning Japanese and more. Social media time is best spent during a short time in the evening and limited to just a few minutes. I admit that last week the screen time count on my phone as atrocious! That is why I am taking action to work on that and spend time doing things that really matter in moving myself forward and create more joy in my life. Also, I have stopped doing any work of any kind at around 6:30-7:00 pm every evening. I make sure to read a book, hang out with my family or watch a video with my son and have fun talking about it.

Home Management/Asking for Help:

Especially speaking for women (and some men) we can still find ourselves in charge of home management as well as having a job or business. With this we can put added pressure on ourselves and get overwhelmed by the number of tasks we need to accomplish. There are daily tasks like: dishes, laundry, recycling, going through papers, taking out garbage and more. Then there are other things like home and car maintenance.

There can be a huge list each week and each month that we feel responsible for and feel we need to take care of. This is why I am slowly working on asking for help. This is an area that I have been working on for a long time. I have a bad habit of trying to do everything on my own and then getting overwhelmed by it. This is not a good cycle to be in because your attention can get really scattered and that is especially tough when you are trying to build a business or work on your career while still balancing home, family and friends.

Lately I have begun to ask for help from my husband and son on a regular basis. Here are ways I have started to ask for help and hopefully some of these can give you some good ideas too.

  • My 10-year old son now has daily chores that he is responsible for- laundry- putting it in the washer, dryer and folding it. He also goes to the mailbox to get the mail. I also have him clear his dishes at mealtimes and also help put leftovers away, set and clean the table before/after meals. I have also been working with him to do 15 minutes of de-cluttering in his room each evening. We actually do this activity together and it’s fun to see what we discover. So far he has filled 3 grocery bags to give away to charity. He has been capable of doing these things for a long time, it was just a matter of me being consistent in asking him and reminding him. It will take a while to instill these habits and although sometimes it may feel like it is simpler for me to just take care of these tasks I feel that it is important to teach him: daily cleaning habits/chores, home management skills, to contribute to the family/household and to be responsible.

  • I ask my husband to help with specific tasks- I often ask him to help with vacuuming and he also helps clear the table and does the dishes often. He is also great about going to the store and the library for us. He is fantastic about helping out and is always willing to help.

  • Family clean up- On the weekend I have started a simple cleaning routine where we each take a cleaning task or chore and do it all at the same time. For example, last Sunday my husband vacuumed while my son folded laundry while I cleaned the bathrooms. Within a short amount of time our chores were done and then we had a fun evening together. Things take less time when you all work on them together.

Saying No:/Setting boundaries:

For a long time I have had trouble saying no. I still have trouble saying no sometimes. However, I guard my time a bit more closely now while still leaving time for fun, friends and family. It is important to me to be productive during certain days and then schedule ahead of time coffee dates, parties and other events with friends and family. The lines can often blur between work time and social time when you are running your own business from home. Because you don’t work at a “regular job” at an office sometimes people get the notion that you can meet up during the week at anytime. But, if you don’t set boundaries as to what are your work times and hours then you will overwork yourself and not enjoy time that you have set aside for social time or time to do things that you enjoy as hobbies. You are actually robbing yourself of time by creating such a fractured schedule.

If someone wants to meet during a time that I have scheduled to work then I have to say no. Also, if I get a phone call in the middle of a work session I will let it go and call the person after I have finished my work time. I also have to say no to myself sometimes if I put too many things on my list. I often cross those out and re-evaluate how many things I am trying to accomplish in a day. Saying no can be very hard to do and I am still learning how to do it.

I would love to know from you:

How are you suffering from workaholism?

What are you doing to combat it?

How do you ask for help?

How do you say no and set boundaries?

Please leave a comment below or feel free to email me at: trista.signe.ainsworth@gmail.com

Thank you so much!

-Trista