Monthly Archives: March 2015

Asking for Help is Hard



There’s story I like that illustrates my style when it comes to asking for help.

There are three workers on a river.

The best worker asks for assistance the moment he notices the current getting faster and waves growing larger.

“There’s a waterfall up ahead. I’ll need some help.”

The average worker asks for assistance when he actually sees the waterfall up ahead and observes branches and other floating objects disappearing over the edge of the fall.

“”I see a waterfall, I need help!”

The very worst worker asks for assistance as his boat is going over the waterfall.

“Heeelp meee! Arghhh!”

I like to imagine myself as the best worker. The one who is proactive. The one who chooses an ounce of prevention over a pound of cure.

But the truth is, I’m usually the worst worker. I only ask for help after I’ve tried (unsuccessfully) a dozen or more ways of trying to do it by myself.

And then, only when I’m going over the edge and see the rocks coming up fast do I finally have the willingness to reach out and ask for help.

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Having an Open Heart in Business

We don’t usually put the idea of “having an open heart” together with business. Quite the opposite.

But that’s the only way I’d want to be in business. Two designs I created to keep me inspired.

This one inspired by a vintage store sign;



and this one which looks more like the “Yes! We’re Open” signs seen in most stores today:



If you own a business, do you try to have an open heart? What does “open-hearted” mean to you?



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Day 8: Clutter-Free Forever! – Clean Your Mess First


I didn’t make as much progress last week as I planned because I ended up finding and buying a new elliptical machine and most of my time was spent getting the elliptical and setting it up.

One nugget I read in Tidying which I found valuable and had experience implementing was the advice to always begin with m own mess before I get annoyed with the messes other people make.

This came up yesterday when I found myself feeling upset with my family because the kitchen was a big mess and I had spent a couple hours the day before getting the kitchen completely clean. Now there were dirty dishes seemingly on every possible surface: countertops, the stove, and tables. The sink was filled with dirty dishes. And even though we have plenty of drawers and cabinets, food and clean dishes hadn’t yet been put away.

When this happens I get angry and I feel like my family doesn’t care about me and what I want. Unchecked, I would have started yelling at my family, “Look at this, everything was perfectly clean and now it’s a disaster!” My family would have felt bad and probably felt resentful towards me for being so unreasonable. They might have cleaned up but it would have been in a very grudging way (I’m only doing this because you’re being such a total bitch and making me feel guilty).

Instead, I followed the advice in Tidying which goes “when you’re angry with other people’s messes, first clean up your mess.”

Even though I like to think I always clean up after myself, I checked and, yep, my breakfast stuff was still sitting out not yet put away. Similarly, the dining room table was covered with all kinds of work-related stuff I’d taken out for a project.

Seeing all the mess I’d left was humbling and I took care of all the stuff I’d left out and forgotten about.

By the time I’d finished, my husband was carrying a stack of his dishes into the kitchen and helped me empty the dishwasher so I could get the dirty stuff out of the sink.

This was a good lesson for me on two levels:

  1. It reminded me that I’m not such a paragon of neatness and that very often my irritation has more to do with my own mess than my family’s.
  2. To remember one of my favorite bits of advice which is before I start anything new, put away everything from the project I just completed.
  3. Like most people, I have a tendency to focus on what’s wrong with everyone else and think “if they would just change, I’d feel happy.” The truth is happiness begins inside and I need to first address what isn’t working within. By the time I finish addressing my own shortcomings, the outside world seems to have magically come into alignment with what I want it to be. Go figure!


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Day 7: Clutter-Free Forever! – Attack of the Resistance Monsters!


In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, the author, Marie Kondo, advises that we follow two rules when we are deciding what to keep and what to discard:

  1. Discard by category: Collect everything in a particular category and put them in one place (for example, all my coffee mugs)
  2. Criteria for deciding what to keep: For item in the category, handle it and ask, “does this spark joy?” Only keep the things that spark joy.

My initial reaction was a feeling of relief and excitement. I felt these two simple rules would finally get me off my proverbial “should I or shouldn’t I?” fence when it came to trying to decide whether or not to keep stuff.

But then the doubt monsters crept in.
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Day 3: Clutter-Free Forever! – The Joy Scale


Because it’s so important and because I tend to lose sight of it, I’ve added the “Joy Scale” I use to rate my daily activity.

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March 12, 2015 · 6:59 pm

Day 3: Clutter-Free Forever! – What to Keep? What to Toss?

Sparking Joy

When I’ve decluttered and organized in the past, the place where I always get stuck is when I try to decide, “Should I keep this or get rid of it?”
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My Ministry in the Church of “What’s Happening Now”


I like the title of this post because it sounds like a Flip Wilson skit from the old Laugh In series (maybe it is and I’m excavating an old memory).

I’m feeling inspired to write about ministries today after listening to a Maryanne Williamson talk from Letting Go and Becoming.
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Day 1: Clutter-Free Forever!


I promised myself that once I put together our tax-related documents and handed them to our accountant for filing, I’d begin the “Clutter-Free Forever” project in earnest.

Still, the title of this post fills me with a certain amount of apprehension because, I’ve been trying to clear clutter in my home and office for 15+ years. I’ve achieved success but inevitably, the clutter would creep in again.

This time, however, I’m using the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, as my guide. I expect to be more successful using this book because:

  1. It got rave reviews on from self-titled skeptics.
  2. Homes in Japan are significantly smaller than those in the U.S. and I’ve always admired the minimalist approach of having only what you need and no more.
  3. I love the author’s advice to keep only items which “spark joy.” I’ve tried so many different strategies to figure out what to keep or not keep and the idea “Does this spark joy” feels so straightforward and easy to implement.

I’m feeling apprehension because:

  1. The author counsels making “organizing an event” where I need to set aside large chunks of time to clean an entire room. This freaks me out because I have so much crap, I’m afraid it will take me months to truly dig through all my stuff.
  2. I have all this junk because I struggle with deciding whether to keep it or throw it out. I’m worried I’ll still find ways to “sneak around the “joy” or not rule.
  3. One of the things Ms. Kondo says is that keeping clutter is a distraction from the real problems I need to tackle in my life. I wonder if I’ll sabotage myself simply because I like having the excuse of “I can’t work on this yet because I have all these rooms to clean and organize.”

Nonetheless I’m moving forward and I’m just about done with Chapter 1: Why Can’t I Keep My House in Order?  I stopped reading at the section that begins “Make Tidying a Special Event Not a Daily Chore” because of my aforementioned anxiety. But I’m committed to finishing Chapter 1 by the end of the day tomorrow.

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Those “Feelings” I’m Running Away From


Every time I talk about my recovery or therapy or any type of self-improvement program, somewhere in the conversation, I’ll say something like, “I don’t want to feel those feelings.” The phrase “those feelings” seems to be a weird sort of shorthand that is universally understood but I’ve never heard anyone actually say what “those feelings” are in a way that really nails it for me.

I think at the heart of “those feelings” is the idea that I’m unworthy.

Unworthy to be loved. Unworthy to be a part of the family or tribe or team. Deemed to offer nothing of importance.

It’s the black terror every infant must feel when they’re wet or hungry or cold and that discomfort doesn’t go away and there’s an nonverbal understanding that “I need something and I don’t always get it.”

And at some point in our very early development, I imagine, we begin to try to understand why. In the small world of an infant or very young child where parents are almost godlike, it can only be because “I’m bad.”

I  used to believe that there were things parents could do to eliminate this pain. My husband and I used to carry my infant son around in a snuggly so he’d always be close to us. But I’ve come to believe that this separation is part of the human experience and defines what we think of as “free will.”

Because at some point in our development, my development, I learned that that terrible sense of separation wasn’t so much about connection with another human being as it was my longing to connect with God. My ego, which I see as a servant whose purpose is primarily to insure my physical survival on earth does everything possible to make those feelings go away.

And in our culture which reflects the combined input of many egos tells us the answer is have more of what will solve the problem from the ego’s perspective: distract yourself or numb yourself. Neither of which work for any sustainable period of time (which makes for a thriving consumer economy).

What’s interesting for me is the lengths to which I’ll go to avoid this feeling.

In December last year I wrote about online shopping as a way I avoided my feelings. But it can really be anything at all:

  • Spending hours messing around on Adobe Illustrator to create the perfect outline.
  • Hair pulling.
  • Too many margaritas.
  • Too much junk food.
  • Watching an entire television series over a period of two days.
  • Picking lint off a sweater.
  • Or simply obsessing about how wrong and bad other people are.

It’s Wack-a-Mole: deal with one addiction and another will pop up in it’s place.

That’s not to say it’s hopeless. The hope lies in when I realize my ego is once again trying to run things and I need to turn that responsibility over to my Higher Power.

The pain of separation and unworthiness doesn’t go away. I think it’s part of the standard operating equipment that comes with being human. It’s actually about choosing to focus on my heart and spirit the reality of which is unity. It’s about making that choice more often on a day to day, hour to hour basis.




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Filed under Getting Out of My Own Way