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

6 Ways I Disagree with Kon Mari

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I have personally been through Kon Mari’s 2 books most recent books on tidying and de-cluttering. I can honestly say that I did really value these books and I do find lots of good things about them. I did actually go through the entire book step by step and followed her methods. However, I can attest to the fact that clutter crept back into my home. At first I felt a lot of guilt and shame. Maybe I had not done everything correctly? Where did I go wrong? Did I fail? Why do I continually need to de-clutter/clear my home? What’s really going on here on a deeper level? What problems am I not dealing with? What am I resisting?

These questions really helped me because it really made me see the deeper personal relationship we have with our things and how it connects to our homes and ourselves. Recently I have begun de-cluttering in my home again, but I do it in a completely different way. Here are some thoughts on Kon Mari’s method and ways that I disagree with her through my own experience.

  1. There is no such thing as a rebound: In Kon Mari’s book she claims that if you go through her method you will never need to do a big de-cluttering session again. She calls needing to do a major de-cluttering session a “rebound.” If we happen to have a need to do more de-cluttering it does not mean that we have a disease that came back. It does not mean that we have failed. It does mean that we have more exploring to do in our homes, to discover what our things mean to us and what our relationships with our things represent in our lives. This is a continual process of discovery, letting go and learning. I believe that exploring your home is a habit that you can develop and one that can happen daily or weekly. It is not a “one and done” process.

  2. Most of us don’t have the time to fold our clothes like origami on a regular basis: I will freely admit that when I first went through her method I was in love with trying to fold my clothes very neatly and spent some time rolling things up, trying to get them to look a certain way in the drawers. Although I do think there is beauty in that, it is not a realistic assumption that we will spend the time and effort to do that sort of folding very often, especially if we have laundry for more than 1 person in our household. I believe that we all have a way of organizing our clothes that works for us. As long as we can reasonably find things that are clean and neat to wear every day, that is the most important thing.

  3. I believe that each individual person will know what areas they are ready to de-clutter rather than insisting that we go through categories in a specific order. I know that Kon Mari has her reasoning as to why she feels we must go through clothing, then books, then papers, then miscellaneous/sentimental items, I personally have discovered that sometimes I am not ready to go in that order. I believe you need to have a curiosity about your things and your spaces and really want to explore then before you will be ready to let go of some items in your home. I do agree that sentimental items are often the last ones that we are able to sort, and I freely admit that there are some that I keep going back and forth about getting rid of (like journals and letters). However, I feel that each individual has an intuition that they should trust in relation to what they are ready for.

  4. I feel that we need to ask more questions of ourselves before we de-clutter and during our de-cluttering. I think that asking “Does it spark joy” is helpful, but only to a certain extent. More questions to ask, such as “Will this help my future self?” or “Is this an item I need for my new career path/transition?” I’m not suggesting we need to ask ourselves countless questions about each item, but we can have them in mind before we start. This I believe will help us to truly let go of items that are no longer serving us in our current lives.

  5. There are no “rules.” Kon Mari has many rules and methods in her books about trying to use only built-in storage, ways to store clothes, etc. I think that especially for a creative person such as myself who loves to explore different art mediums and many crafts it can be limiting to have rules and methods.Rules are so very useful, but there are so many situations in our home where we feel guilt and shame because our method of storage doesn’t fit the rules.I know that I tried my best to follow the rules and strategies in her book, but some of those just didn’t work for me. I believe that as a facilitator in helping people clear/de-clutter their homes that my clients have the best intuition of what will work for them and for their families. I can give people some guidelines, questions and ideas, but often they come up with amazing solutions that I never would have thought of. That is the power of co-creation.

  6. There is no be all-end all one-time transformation of your home. Often when we see de-cluttering shows and read de-cluttering books, we see this amazing, life-changing, perfect transformation. Every problem seems to be solved! The magic of TV gives us the illusion of a very simple, easy transformation and that it will stay that way forever, static and perfect, frozen in time. However, our homes are not static. They are ever-changing, they are flowing and fluid. We must be kind to ourselves and realize that daily habits are more powerful than a one-time transformation. If we don’t develop the habit of exploring our home, then a big transformation will soon fade and we will feel as if we have failed, but we have never failed. We have only learned, grown as a person and need to become curious about our relationship to our things on a daily basis.

Here’s a question I’d love to hear the answer to from you on in the comments below:

Have you tried de-cluttering methods/rules before? How did they work /not work for you?

You can comment below or email me at:

trista.signe.ainsworth@gmail.com

Thank you so much!

—Trista

Junk Drawer

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“I think that a junk drawer is a thing that happens when we’re adults. We get a junk drawer. If you go home, we all have the same stuff in our junk drawer. We all have— for some reason we won’t throw a rubber band away. There are tons of rubber bands, like 24 rubber bands in there, like…a case a bunch of little girls come over for pigtails one day. I don’t know. There’s a red ink pen in there, just in case you have to grade papers or something. I don’t know, just like.. There’s a roll of scotch tape that’s out of the container, just the roll, and it’s , you can’t get it started because it’s halfway broken anyway, and you just keep it. There’ a AA battery. Does it work? I don’t know, I just don’t. I put it in there. There’s a key and you don’t know what it’s to. You won’t throw it away because what if someone finds it and opens something? What do they…like walk around opening. I heard from someone that a junk drawer is like a metaphor for life, like we’re holding on to things that we don’t need to hold on to.”

Ellen DeGeneres from her comedy special “Relatable”

A friend of mine sent me a clip of Ellen's new comedy special on Netflix the other day containing the quote above about junk drawers. How true is that? Wow! She is so right that all of us have a junk drawer of all of these items that for some reason we can’t let go of for fear of needing them someday. I have lots of rubber bands that I never use and plenty of old keys and batteries too. Why are we holding on to these things? It may be a fear of letting go, of some future time where we’ll have a need for these things, or a fear that we won’t be able to replace them. Whatever it is, this shows us how funny and ridiculous it is to hang on to so many things that are no longer serving us. I’m thinking of that small box of rubber bands in my junk drawer as I write this.

I believe that there is a new way of looking at our homes and the lives we live in them. I look at a home as an organic, living being. We bring things in and out of our homes on a daily basis, we live joyful moments and sad moments, our home sees us through it all. For this reason our home as a living being sometimes needs to be cared for in a unique way. We can all become explorers and caretakers in our own homes in our own unique ways.

I have found that with each big life transition comes a reevaluation of possessions and they way that they are stored in our homes. Now that I am making a major change in my life’s work I find a deep calling to look at what I am holding on to and why. I am now exploring my home for a few minutes each day in a process I call “clearing.” This is bringing me more peace each day as I transition to being of more service to others. With fewer physical and mental objects in my way I will be able to achieve my quest to help everyone find a path to joy in their lives.

Check out my Patreon page for ways you can sign up for monthly companion videos, workbooks and more to help you on your journey:

https://www.patreon.com/expansive

Feel free to share about your junk drawer or how you see your things in your home in the comments below. Thank you and with lots of love,

Trista