Decluttering Challenge #1: the Bedroom!

For this challenge, instead of trying to hit targets of certain numbers of things per area, I want to look at whole rooms and dig really deep into problem areas.

I decided to start with the bedroom. As I said in my last post, before I began I made a list of tasks that needed to be done for each room.

So for reference, here are the things I focused on in my bedroom:

– organize and properly store clothes “for later” as my room had become a storage area for clothes that don’t fit my pregnant self, outgrown kids clothes to save for each younger sibling, and some piles of things needing to be donated that haven’t been yet

– find places for or donate all the extra junk in the closet, including going through some random boxes of things, some of which really did not need to be there

Most of this was centered around my closet and a nearby shelf, both of which had become a big mess of random projects and things that I did not know where else to put.

One of my rules I am holding myself to through this challenge is for everything I take out of one place to either find a place where it belongs somewhere else, or to leave our house entirely. I’m trying to get rid of wandering things that don’t really have any place to go, making space for things that are really important and letting go of things that are not.

So while I moved things that did not belong in the bedroom out, I tried to put them away in their exact places, or at least bring them to the closets or rooms where they will stay, likely finding their permanent spot as I get to those other rooms later.

Now, without further delay, here is my bedroom “before”…

Laundry that is never quite put away, kids toys taken or stashed away, bunches of clothes and random bags and pieces of decorative items or things needing repair or half finished projects. Quite a bit here.

So I started with the clothes. Saphira (age 4.5) helped me quite a bit with this part while her sister napped.

I went though a laundry basket overflowing with things I had taken from the kids dressers as I noticed they didn’t fit, a basket of kids shoes that I had set aside from our porch recently for the same reason, a bag of baby/toddler clothes I was set to purge before I got pregnant again, piles of things I had pulled off our hangers that Drew wanted to purge and that I could not wear while pregnant or in the summer, and whatever else was laying around.

I used a couple different totes, filled one up with clothes of Saphira’s to put away for Trinity for later.

I refilled the laundry basket with clothes that Trinity might be able to use now and put them in her room to go through when we tackle their stuff.

I filled the other tote with my clothes for when I am back to my pre-pregnancy shape,  and with some formal things we just don’t use often.

I filled a small box with clothes we can keep for the baby, which I put back up in the closet for going through further as we gather more of what we need for this next little one.

I finished trying on some maternity pants I got from a friend, hung up what I wanted and put the rest in to the donate bag.

At the end I had two garbage bags full of clothes to just take to the thrift store, and two totes of kids clothes and shoes and our own extra stuff that can be stored in the garage.

With the clothes out of the way I was able to get to the rest of what was on the shelves more easily.

Saphira helped me take out and put away all the kids toys and books that were around.

I made some space for a couple of kids items that I will be trying to get rid of that I need out of their sight.

I took down some decorative things for us to either make room for or add to the donate pile.

I out our extra bags and purses back in the storage bench where they live with my jewelry making supplies.

I bagged up my Waldorf doll pieces and pattern and put it on my shelf where I will actually see it and finish it, hopefully.

I organized mine and Drew’s special books and projects on our own shelves without all the extra stuff around it.

I put the basket of candles and the memorabilia boxes tidy on the higher shelves, after having tucked little cards and drawings and papers of special interest each in their appropriate box.

That is basically it. I may or may not take my box of notebooks and sketchbooks and things to the garage, I kind of like having it on hand lately.

I put the cushion back in the cat bed and set it up on the closet so Link has a place to chill out in there again.

I brought my breast pump and a box of clothespins to the hall closet to be established in there when I get to that part.

I ended up with a very small bag of garbage and a few things besides clothes that we can give away or sell.

So,  I got things put back in a tidied manner and set aside everything that can be taken out.

Here’s the after shots:

So, it’s actually not quite as clear and spacious as I was hoping. Apparently there are still a lot of “things” I think I need, but everything is organized and some long overdue donations will be made, and there is some empty space now if gifts or whatever need a place to be stashed!

I decided to leave the cleaning and regular stuff out of this, so I did not finish putting away my clean laundry or make my bed yet. But I feel like that will be so much easier now! And that means this room was indeed finished in a day, it seemed like a lofty project so I’m proud of that.

I would love to see and hear your own progress if you are following along with your own declutter! If you feel so inclined,  please leave a comment here or an update or a photo on my Facebook page!

I aim to have the next challenge post out within the next couple days, so keep an eye out!

Decluttering Challenge Introduction!

I think it’s that time again for me. I do this periodically and I feel like it is always ongoing – trying to clear out all the “extra” stuff so the things we need, use and love are easier to access, use and put away.

And it gets hard sometimes! With young children I don’t always feel like I can allow myself long spurts of dedicated time to really get to the bottom of piles and the backs of closets.

But I feel quite motivated now to give this another dedicated attempt. And unlike challenges I’ve done in the past to get me going, where I’d try to reach targets of certain amounts of items just to make progress, I’d really like to go deeper this time and feel like I have actually finished something at the end of it.

I’ll be sharing my progress here for anyone who would like to follow my own steps or be inspired to create their own structure for getting to the bottom of their own messes!

So, first things first, before getting started, I’ve been working on a list room by room, listing all the things I know need to be done in each place by task. I’ve included some cleaning things in this list, because my regular maintenance is spotty at best, but that is not necessary and will actually be easier to tackle after the moving of “things” is done if you have deep cleaning that needs done, too!

Just to show you what I am working with here, this was before I thought of the laundry room, garage and shed so it’s incomplete. I won’t copy out my list word for word here as it’s specific to me, but I will go through the steps I take in each place as I tackle each area so you can see what I actually did.

So to start, I encourage you to make your own list specific to your own living spaces, and what your problem areas are and what you know you need to do with them. This will help you get to the root of your own clutter and should help you a bit more than just following my template exactly.

I’ve just started in on my bedroom first, it is definitely not the easiest place to start but it makes sense. So my next post will come when I have completed that and it will go over what the state was before and after and what I did to get through it all.

If nothing else, I hope watching me push through and just get things moving will help you get some momentum going too if you’ve been feeling stuck!

Please feel welcome to share your own efforts and progress along the way too, either here or on my Facebook page! It would help me, too, to see what others are dealing with and what they do with it!

Balance and the Wild Nature

I’ve been undertaking magical studies and learning about the hermetic laws. And I’ve been working to understand and to challenge my own prejudices, privileges and perspective in the realm of social justice. And trying to integrate all the things I am learning into my ideals and ambitions, figuring out how things fit together. How to best use my talents and passions to do my work in a way that is helping instead of harming.

 

And I’ve struggled with it so far, as I am now immersed in a spiritual community that makes me feel so safe and connected, so in place, after years of trying to figure out where I fit and where I didn’t. Who I was and who my people were.

Yet white supremacy, colonialism, those attitudes are so pervasive in my world. Even amongst people who are doing their best to heal themselves and others and to act in love, I can see now the ways that we perpetuate harm and resist confronting these dangerous attitudes in ourselves and in the people around us, for the sake of comfort and positivity.

It’s not always obvious which parts of our dreams and attitudes are part of the very system which has and continues to destroy cultures and the wild nature and wisdom from which we all come.

And getting through the first few hermetic laws brings me to a place of looking for balance. And with all the centrist rhetoric surrounding the clashes between white nationalists and anti fascists lately, I’m drawn to dissect what balance and moderation really mean. How they happen as well as why they are important.

We have this tendency to strive to remain in balance. To see both sides, draw from the energy of polarities, to be in a place of relative calm in between the commotion of the fringes. We think highly of that state, we see it as a noble and desirable goal.

But balance is not really a state of being. Balance is a process. In our inner worlds and without, balance is something that we can see by looking at the larger picture of movement and transformation over time.

 

True balance implies a stillness which is basically stagnant. In these bodies, in this place in this time, we are constantly in motion. We are never really at any plateau, we are constantly rising and falling through lessons, hardships and achievements. And the kind of peace in moderation that we revere is not something that we can really hold for any length of time.

So in our outer world right now, there is a great imbalance. The system that we have allowed and supported to rise to dominate the earth, people, parts of ourselves, has grown to such an extreme that it is faltering and simply can not continue to grow without approaching calamity. And, in accordance with natural laws, so it meets resistance.

We have reached a point where the push against so many groups of people, against so many parts of ourselves can no longer be ignored or tolerated even by those who were able to be generally accepting of it thus far. There is a counter.

And clinging to this attitude of balance, of respecting both sides or trying to find a place of diplomatic mediation does not serve us at this time. In fact, it may be perpetuating the strain and increasing harm.

Because the middle ground is not fairness or unity when such an extreme level of force is pushed against us already.

Seeking balance now means embracing the opposing forces within us and without, to truly neutralize the threats that can no longer go unchecked.

And I have always thought of myself as a pacifist. I really admire lack of aggression as a tactic, as a response. To truly make peace, from a spiritual perspective, I try to recognize the fears and motivations of those who are the aggressors as well, in the sense that we are all here to learn and every experience has some truth and something for us all to learn from.

But there are other parts of me too, other parts of all of us, that know how to defend, to take a hard stance, to stand up and say that enough is enough. This is an important part of us, with an important purpose that should not be dismissed or repressed just to keep up the appearance of balanced calm.

Because the idea of enlightenment that beings us past the “lesser” emotions of anger and fear is a construct of the same oppressive system that is terrorizing our world right now. We are spiritual beings, and in a sense we are beyond all of the drama and strife that can seem so overwhelmingly powerful.

But that is not all that we are. We are creatures of this Earth. We are creatures with passions and instincts, with potential for great love and a great protective nature that can cause us to become quite fearsome adversaries when what we hold dear is threatened. These are our abilities, our gifts and challenges for a reason.

Imagining that we must overcome our defensive nature for the sake of some imagined peace is a patriarchal stifling of our feminine, feeling wild selves. It does not serve us, it does not serve anyone who really needs our service right now.

I follow a principle of “do no harm”. And I could interpret that to mean do not act, do not cause discomfort, do not confront, but I do not see it that way.

When we are in a time with such a great imbalance of power, poised to destroy so much that we hold dear, taking no action or trying to stay neutral actually serves that harmful force, helps it or allows it to continue.

The duty now is to add our energies to a resistance. Whether we choose to push back, turn the wheel hard in the other direction, to engage in violent situations to physically protect people, to have uncomfortable conversations and call things out so they don’t slip by unnoticed – the way to do no harm now is to resist. The only way to find balance and peace now is to counter the oppressive forces in whatever way we can. Any effort to stay in a state of unaffected repose ourselves only serves as selfish comfort and it is not something I will promote or allow to be idealized anywhere around me. We need to feel the fury and the pain here, get ourselves right into it. We need to expose ourselves to the truth of the mess all around us, so we can feel the truest reactions we have to it, the natural responses that will lead us to act in the most meaningful and purposeful ways. Trust the instincts of our wild nature as it connects us to those who are suffering the most, because that is what is at stake. And it knows exactly how to protect itself, if we will truly listen.

 

Card of the Day – Bear

 

Today, I pulled the Bear Card, signifying strength.

Sometimes bears are portrayed as quite fearsome. I know I would not want to find myself in a fight with one. But I think of their strength as more complex than just muscle mass.

The biggest common bear imagery I can think of is the mama bear. Fiercely protective of her young. You should never step in between the two! But that strength comes from a place of love, and protection.

As hibernating animals, bears can also signify periods of withdrawing to conserve ones energy. We are sometimes warned not to wake the bear, and in that statement we relate our own way of lashing out when our rest is interrupted.

Bear can guide you to protect your own home, your own sanctuary or that of your family. It is okay to take space for yourself, and it is okay to be grumpy sometimes. Just be mindful as to whether the threats to your safety or security are real or imagined. You can take urges for self-defence in mundane situations as clues that something else is going on, beneath your own surface.  Then perhaps a time of introspection is needed, or a filling up of your own reserves.

As we are closer to spring time here, I’d like to add that some of us may be feeling like we are waking up from our own hibernation. We are stirring and wanting to move, and feel the Sun on our faces. We are hungry for the warmth! But it is still just a little out of reach, and that may be making us all a little ornery. Be mindful of your place in the seasons!

 

Alone

She sat, cross legged

At the edge of the field

Staring past the treeline

Into the deep, dark of the forest.

She waited,

A picture of calm,

But her pulse quickened

And the beating of her heart

Throbbed with the rhythm

Of a reckless dance around a fire,

Where spirits run heavy

And feet run light.

She waited,

Knowing that something in that darkness

Was looking back

But no face emerged,

No voice rose from the stillness,

From the haze of the twilight.

Not even her own.

She stood slowly

And turned abruptly

And walked back home, alone.

This entry was posted in Poetry.

Faeries and Monsters

I used to believe in faeries. At least, I think I did. I know I wanted to.

I haven’t told my daughters that faeries are real, yet. I don’t want them to think that the monsters they imagine are real, too. Like I used to.

I remember hearing tales of pixies in the tree leaves, and of hell hounds in the forest at night.

I spent a lot of time dreaming, playing, enjoying, but I remember a lot of time spent worrying and wondering, too.

And some things don’t really change. Maybe they concentrate with age. I see a lot of fear in myself, still.

And I haven’t been believing quite so much, and I haven’t been playing quite enough.

I’ve been worrying and wondering about the monsters.

About the ache in the space where I used to be connected to my magical family tree.

About the time with them I missed that left me hardening my shell for the sake of survival.

About the anger that rises up inside of me when I don’t feel like I have everything figured out and running predictably.

About the fear of not measuring up and the difficulty in admitting that by asking for support.

And mostly, so often, I am worrying and wondering about my kids.

Why they are suddenly whiny, why they are annoying each other, why they can’t just share, why my oldest panics when things don’t go her way, why my youngest can’t just leave some things alone, why they both want my attention when I seem least able to give it, why they drag their feet getting ready, why they run away when I try to talk to them….

And I think, well, it must be that I have left the TV on a little too much, and I condemn myself a little.

It must be because this place is so cluttered, they can’t relax, and I feel frustrated with my inability to get on top of the never-ending mess.

I think, it must be because of all that junk food, maybe I should have made lunch a little earlier, they haven’t been eating enough greens… and I wish I had more talent and passion for food, that I could prioritize it.

It must be because they lack consistency, they went to bed too late, and I struggle to force us into a rhythm only to fall back out, again and again and again…

And when I blame the TV, I turn it off suddenly and in anger, in a great big huff.

And when I blame the mess, I rant angrily about how they have contributed to it, how they can’t seem to help enough.

And no matter what external condition I try to point the finger at, my discomfort is coming from deep inside. A pile of crumbs, a junk food lunch, those are not monsters. And what I am really lashing out at when I try to fight those things is my kids. And they are not monsters…

It’s been really hard grieving and doing this healing work while being a mother to young children.

And I catch myself feeling like I need to work so hard, strain, live up to these expectations to insulate us from harm, from fear, from uncertainty.

But the monsters still come.

The only thing making my kids act out is me. My disconnection, my anger, my impatience. My monsters.

And they don’t really need a beautifully orchestrated daily rhythm, the greatest of all foods made from scratch all the time, a tidy minimalist sanctuary, or a world completely free from media to feel content and happy.

They need me. They need me to be present with them. To accept them, to accept their feelings. To accept the ways that they show me what they need, however messy. To care for them. To stand firm in the centre of the bad days and bad feelings, and to play and to laugh with them, without fear.

My children need me to show them all about the faeries.

And I need for my children to help me remember that they exist.

Pendulum Swings in Perfectionist Parenting

I’ve been reflecting a lot on what seems to be a boom and bust cycle I have been going through, in terms of parenting and households ambitions.

There are a lot of ideals I hold. I have been wanting to practice more discipline with myself, more regular cleaning, more rhythm and schedule to our days that we can feel more confident and content within. And I had so many ideas about what I should be doing – what kind of food I should be cooking, how present I should be, what kind of days I should be guiding the kids through.

And I have been having so much trouble pushing myself to be more productive in so many different areas at once. I would get some motivation, have some days without TV, wake up a bit earlier, get more time outside, have more regular meals. But I would burn out very quickly, feel like I was pushing just a little bit too hard. And instead of easing off into moderation, I would just slack off completely and we would have times of too much indulgence, too much distraction, too much mess. And any relief I might feel from giving up on trying so hard to live up to those expectations would soon be replaced by frustration about clutter, sticky floors, kids acting out after too much media, days gone by feeling like I hadn’t really done enough.

I still can’t be sure if my discomforts at those times of rest and leisure are because I really want and need more structure to function, or just because I feel like I am not good enough when we are eating commercial food, don’t have everything organized and cleaned, and aren’t having Pinterest-worthy days full of crafts and love and magic.

Since I got past my initial parenting phase of being way too tuned into my child and not having any interests or projects outside of her, I have felt bursting with ambition and creativity to work on my own things again. And that seems to be where I have the most trouble balancing my parenting goals with my personal ones – if I want to have adequate time and opportunity for self-care as well as creative expression and to pay attention to my own interests, it seems that I need to sometimes leave the tv on, or let the kids make a mess, or let my high standard of routine and cleanliness slide. But sometimes I let it slide just a little too far, finding I want to lose myself in my own work like I could before I had kids.

This brings me to notice the divide that still exists in me, between what I think of myself as an individual, and how I see myself as a parent. I would love to work to bridge those two aspects of myself, and find ways to live a magical and creative life as a parent, instead of feeling like I need to compartmentalize everything, and totally shirk off my responsibilities to do things that make me feel good.

I am working on finding a balance, here. I am trying to be more honest and more realistic with myself about what I really need to do, what I can do. And looking more at my particular skills. I really believe that I can have a lush creative life and be more present with my kids. As long as I am not spreading myself too thin in other areas, too!

So I’ve been easing off on the push to perfect all the crunchy, connected, spiritual parent things. Trying to worry less about accomplishing the external things that I have convinced myself that I need to do to be doing a good job at this. And I have let things slide just a bit too much into indulgence, it seems, but even though I would like to do just a little better than I seem to be right now, I have been open to having a lot more fun with my kids. I have been managing to keep the house and my kids from falling apart, and I’ve still been able to get involved with a lot of crafts, writing projects and social collaborations.

I am learning to trust that movements towards healthier eating and better schedules can happen for me, without me trying to work them all out and force them to happen. But for now, I am learning to be content with my own gifts, and my own challenges, and am noticing the ways in which I am still appreciated and valued. And the ways that I appreciate and value myself! As a creative, mindful parent. As a sort of philosophical writer. As a friend, a partner, a family member.

I’ll be sharing a lot more of this journey as it develops. It is still hard for me to feel like I don’t seem to have things under control. But trying to act as if I do, to put on that show is a lot harder. And I much prefer being in the swing of things. I am really excited to see how this might work for us!

….We’re Back!

Welcome, welcome, old followers and new explorers!

I am very excited to be working on this relaunch!

I have made some great strides in learning where my own focus, skills and passions lie and what I would most like to share and to offer out into the world!

Over these next few months, I’ll be adding new content in some exciting new areas. I will still be doing some regular blog posts and sharing poems, but I will have a new focus on creating and sharing some tutorials, and focusing more on the potential for healing in the space between the mundane and challenging events of our lives, and our own creative expressions or interpretations of how all things fit within the stories of our lives.

I’ll be sharing as I go along my own journey of balancing parenting with self-work, my chores with my most sacred work and recreation, and I hope that sharing my own genuine experience – the troubles as well as the treasures I uncover – may encourage and inspire you to dig a little deeper into yourself along your own path!

I welcome any feedback and exchanges along the way, as I love the ways in which we learn from each other!

And I hope to develop ways that I can offer more specific services through this website, to my strange friends and to friendly strangers alike, that I hope to develop and refine with feedback from all of you lovely folks!

So very excited!

Thank you so much for your past support and for baring witness now, as this new venture comes to life. Please stay tuned for developments, things are moving quickly now!

The Temple

She stood, proud and defiant in the centre of her sacred chamber.

Her eyes burning wildly, jaw set firm even as she spoke,

“You do not get to speak to me of vulgarity. You who count your wives among your possessions, guarding jealously, pushing your daughters into modesty and shame.

You do not get to tell me what the holy wants from me. Your temples reek of hypocrisy and greed.

You who spit at me and shout your shame into my face. You know nothing of the work I do. You know nothing of the sacred and profane.”

The intruders steeled themselves against their fear of self realization, not willing to back down and lay their fragile egos on the line.

But still, she spoke, with a strangely gentle conviction,

“I will not bow meekly down into the service of your King. I surrender my body to a higher calling. This is a place of sanctuary, and your forcefulness is not welcome here.”

This had been her home, her oasis. She had touched the tendrils of many weary spirits there. She had enlivened, emboldened, healed and revealed with the energy that ran through her flesh.

But one man just would not open himself up to the source, and had become fixated on her as a means to such radiant energy that he could not get for himself.

Now he was angry. He had not expected to be spurned. He was not about to allow anyone to deny him his claim.

She had never known danger like this before. Her skills were disarming, her diplomacy was extraordinary, but this was a new territory.

Now her very way of life was seen as an insult by a very sour man who exerted a great deal of control over her people.

She had watched them feeding off each others fear, lashing out, wasting away ever more since his rise into power.

Now he was getting desperate, and she was not sure how she should stand her ground.