The Two Reasons Stuff is Hard to Get Rid Of: Decluttering and Time Travel

This morning I was making the bed as usual and as usual, I shoved the blue exercise ball out of the way to reach the far corner of the bed to straighten the duvet. This is the exercise ball that I haven’t used in two years that I roll out of the way every morning.

“Why do I still have this exercise ball?” Two reasons.

Attachment to the past

And fear of the future

I, like many of you, loved Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I love the idea of only having things in my life that spark joy. But I struggle with the items that have positive memories from the past and/or could be useful in the future. I waffle between a vision of freedom I would have when I have less stuff and the desire remember the past and be prepared for what’s to come.

After I reduced my wardrobe (see my post Getting Dressed in 3 Minutes) I saw how much time and energy our stuff really sucks from our lives. Looking at this blue exercise ball you wouldn’t think this is taking up time and energy but there’s a whole set of questions that must be answered about this object.

Where should I put it so I will use it?

Where should I store it when I’m not using it?

If it’s not meeting my needs could it be changed or improved so it will?

Could it serve multiple purposes?

Should it be replaced with something that I would use?

One or more of these questions go through my mind every time I shove the exercise ball aside to make the bed, so once a day. That’s a lot of mental energy used up. Neuroscience research tells us that the more decisions we make on mundane things the less energy we have for decisions about real things. (You can see more about this in the amazing book, The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal). So if I spend all my energy on decisions about what to wear, where to put stuff, what toothpaste to buy and what to watch on TV then I don’t have energy for important decisions like who to vote for, who to marry, what my next book should be about and what to do with my life.

As mentioned, hanging on to things that don’t “spark joy” is done for two reasons; attachment to the past and fear of the future. Here’s my blue exercise ball as an example.

The past: There was a time when I was young enough and fit enough that I could balance on a ball like this and if I fell off I didn’t risk breaking a hip. Sometimes I wish for the past body I used to have. These days I would have to set the phone right by the ball so when I did fall off I would hopefully land on the button that speed dials 911.

I have other memories too. Once I had a party here and so many people showed up that I ran out of chairs. I sat on this exercise ball while we talked, ate, and had a wonderful time. So the ball gives me the feeling of being social and having friends. I have to remind myself I would actually still have friends even if I didn’t have a blue exercise ball. Sometimes my brain is not rational.

The future: Am I envisioning a future where I suddenly have an overwhelming desire to use the exercise ball? Yes, in this future I use it every day for years and years. It becomes the best thing in my life and if I hadn’t kept it I would be missing out on this marvelous experience and perhaps a shot at Cirque du Soleil stardom.

Or do I see a future dystopian nightmare where the world has become so poor there’s no money for furniture at all and I’ll I have left is this blue exercise ball to sit on?

Yes, a bit of an exaggeration but my point is that when I define my feelings about an object I can see more clearly why I’m having trouble getting rid of it.

So if the past and the future aren’t good reasons for keeping something then I need to look at the present. In the present, I don’t need a blue exercise ball or any color ball for that matter. And someone else in the world might need it. So into the car it goes and it will be taken over to my favorite Goodwill store that sells off many other of my former possessions.

One item down…several thousand to go. I know the process will get easier and faster as I continue. Let me know about your letting go process. Do you have items you’re holding on to even though they don’t serve your present needs? Do you struggle with items that bring up memories of the past? Do you hang on to items because you think you might need them in the future? And let me know if you would like to see more posts on this topic.

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How to Get Dressed in 3 Minutes – Feng Shui Your Closet

Here was me a few years ago. Getting dressed took forever. I would pull on a pair of pants and a top and look in the mirror and think “yuck”. I threw the top on the bed and grabbed a blouse. “Better”, I would think, “but it doesn’t go with these pants”. So with different pants on, I felt I needed different shoes. Change socks and shoes. But now my cardigan doesn’t go with this blouse. Maybe I could do a blazer. Now, these pants aren’t right. And so on. Thirty minutes to an hour each morning with a pile of clothes left on the bed and me out there shopping every weekend thinking if I just add another piece to the closet I won’t have this problem anymore. Yet no matter how many pieces I added I ended up wasting time each morning and wearing the same pieces over and over. It was making me crazy.

In 2014 I was scrolling through YouTube and I came across a video where a woman was describing how she reduced the number of pieces of clothing she owned from something like 400 to just 100 items. I was intrigued. I had been downsizing my houses for the last decade but my wardrobe didn’t seem to be getting any smaller. I went online to learn more.

There I found Project 333. Project 333 was created by blogger, Courtney Carver. This is the concept of limiting yourself to just 33 pieces of clothing that you wear for three months. Eventually, this came be called a Capsule Wardrobe. The 33 pieces do not include underwear, sleepwear, workout clothes and special occasion clothes. You wear 33 pieces and the rest of your wardrobe gets stored until the next season. Now my interest was really peaked.

I continued exploring and in February 2015 I came upon Jennifer L. Scott who did a TEDx talk about her ten-item wardrobe. Ten items! That’s where I drew the line. I decide 30 pieces sounded good to me. But to further reduce my wardrobe I decided that instead of four seasons – because I’m in Orange County and we don’t have seasons, we only have climate – I would do two seasons, spring/summer and fall/winter. Today I have about 60 pieces of clothing (again not including underwear, sleepwear, my t-shirts and yoga pants, a few formal pieces for weddings and funerals and a big wool coat that I keep in case a stray asteroid knocks the earth out of its orbit and creates another ice age).

By the way, if you’re feeling really sartorially extreme check out Matilda Kahl who wore the same outfit every day to work for three years.

I started cleaning out the closet. In my research, I found a suggestion of turning all the hangers backward. When I wore a piece I would rehang it the usual way. At the end of a couple of months, I could see what I was wearing and what I wasn’t. I got rid of what I wasn’t wearing. This whittled down my wardrobe for the current season. The out of season stuff was in boxes in the garage.

After a few months of reducing my clothing choices, I decided to use the “ribbon method”. I tied a ribbon on the clothes rod in the center. I put all my clothes to the right. After wearing an item I put it to the left of the ribbon. This way I know I am wearing each piece of clothing. After a few months, I noticed that a couple of pieces were always the last ones I wore. Turns out I really didn’t like those pieces so I got rid of those too.

October arrived and I pulled out the box of clothes I had put away the February before (that’s when spring comes in OC, February). It was like Christmas had come early. I consider myself fairly bright but I didn’t remember owning any of these clothes. I suddenly had a whole new wardrobe.

I cleaned and put away the spring/summer clothes and loaded the closet with all the fall/winter clothes. Then I repeated the process first turning the hangers backward and seeing what I really did wear. After a few months, when my wardrobe was paired down, I used to ribbon method to make sure I was wearing every piece.

At first, I thought people would notice that I seemed to be wearing the same things over and over. But all I heard from people was how nice I looked. I received more compliments on my clothes and my style than I ever had in my life.

There have been more amazing benefits. Now I have clothes I love and because there are so few items in my closet I choose items that mix and match. I decided to only wear a few colors, my favorite colors. I may look good in pink but I don’t like the color. So now I don’t buy pink clothes. I stick to black, white, blue and brown. I choose dark slacks, patterned tops and flowing cardigans and vests. In addition, I have a small collection of statement necklaces and simple earrings. Now I get dressed in under three minutes every day and feel great.

Another perk is I don’t shop as much. I have my 30 pieces. Unless I specifically need to replace a piece I don’t have any reason to buy more clothes. I might admire something but then I think of what I have in my closet and most of the time I already have something like it. I also don’t buy things that don’t go with at least five or six other things I already own.

And still another thing is I wear everything in my closet. Before I probably only wore about 20% of the pieces I owned. Which means the variety of what I wear now is about the same as it was before. It just takes me a lot less time to decide.

The final step was I got rid of all the extra hangers. There was no reason to have the 200+ extra hangers so those all got donated. Now when I want to bring a new piece of clothing into the house I first decide what I’m going to get rid of so I can free up a hanger.

This entire process has saved me so much time and money. More importantly, I feel in control of my closet. Anything that can help us feel a little more in control of our lives is wonderful. I don’t worry about what I’m going to wear tomorrow. I know when I go into my closet anything I grab will look and feel great.

This has left more creative energy for my writing, classes, and videos. I have truly Feng Shui-ed my closet. Now what’s in my closet really supports my goals of saving time and money as well as my aspiration of having things in my life that bring me joy.

By the way, I did a video on this back in January 2015. My video production skills have improved a lot since then but here’s the link in case you want to see it.

And let me know if you have a capsule wardrobe or if you plan to start one.

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The Two Types of Feng Shui Crystals and What They’re Used For

There are two types of Feng Shui crystals widely used as remedies to shift the energy. Even though they are both called “Feng Shui Crystal” they are of different properties and have different uses.

First came the clear quartz crystal. This is a natural mineral that grows in a six-sided shape. It does come in many colors (like rose quartz, amethyst, and citrine) and these have various uses. But for this post, we’re talking about clear quartz. Quartz crystals have electric properties and have been used in watches and as phonograph needles. In the 1950’s scientists found how to grow synthetic quartz crystals and this is what’s used in modern electronics.

Natural quartz has one pointed end and one rough end. This is called a single terminated crystal. These can be natural and translucent or highly polished and clear with just a few inclusions.In Feng Shui single terminated crystals are often used to move energy in a direction. For example, you can use a single terminated quartz crystal to point energy towards a door bringing more opportunities to that location.

You can find polished crystal points with points at both ends. This is called a double terminated crystal. In Feng Shui, a double terminated crystal is used to move energy in two directions. For example, if there’s a missing corner of a home (and therefore creating much work for the people who live there) this crystal can be used to fill in the corner.

There are also tumbled quartz crystals. These are round like river rocks but translucent. In Feng Shui, a tumbled crystal can be used as a marker bringing energy and attention to a specific point. This is useful for houses that are hidden or on a dead-end street.

The second type of crystal came later. For a long time, it was called an Austrian Crystal. It is made of cut glass. Originally they were made from leaded glass but concerns about lead oxide have caused manufacturers to substitute other oxides such as barium oxide for the lead. These glass orbs are cut with facets which give them a prismatic effect. When light hits them they make rainbows on the walls and ceiling.

In Feng Shui, we often use these crystals to bring in opportunities that come in manageable parts. This is great for people who want steady business, consistent clients or who don’t want to become overwhelmed by opportunities. For example, a client may wish to have a hit record. The cut glass Feng Shui crystal would be used in their music studio to attract a great producer for the album, some publicity for the launch, building of their fan base and getting radio plays. The rainbow the crystal produces represents the different parts of the goal.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have questions about this or any other Feng Shui, Astrology or Space Clearing topics. And by the way, check out my YouTube channel for videos on some of these topics.

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How the Lucky Money Cat Became Lucky

The Lucky Money Cat is an example of a cultural symbol that is very effective in shifting the energy of a home and bringing in prosperity opportunities.

The story of the Lucky Money Cat.

Once there was an impoverished priest who spent his days looking after a small temple that stood at the side of a seldom-traveled road.

The priest spent each day polishing and cleaning the little temple, preparing it for passersby, and each night he would eat his meager supper of rice and fish outside the temple door by a little fire.

One evening, as the priest ate his supper, a little golden cat with yellow eyes came up to him and sat right down. The priest was a good man and welcomed the cat and shared his small supper. Each evening the cat returned, sat down before the priest and happily shared the priest’s supper.

One day a rich nobleman was traveling and got caught in a great storm. Torrential rains washed out the road, lightning lit up the sky, and thunder rumbled overhead. Soaked to the skin, the nobleman took shelter under a tree on the temple grounds.

In the flashes of lightning, the Nobleman saw the temple and he noticed a golden cat with yellow eyes staring at him from the door of the temple.

To his great surprise, the cat suddenly sat up on his haunches and waved his paw, beckoning to the nobleman.

It was such an odd sight that the nobleman moved closer to see the beckoning cat and as he reached the door to the temple there was a tremendous crack behind him.

He spun quickly at the sound to see the tree he had been sheltering under come crashing to the ground, burning with tall flames sizzling in the falling rain.

He realized this little cat had just saved his life. He went into the temple and found the priest and saw the good work he was doing. From a heartfelt sense of gratitude, the nobleman gave generous amounts of money to help support the temple, the priest and the lucky golden cat.

What Kind of Lucky Money Cat Should You Get?

There is a wide variety of Lucky Money Cat designs and colors. While each one is a good symbol for prosperity and abundance the gold ones are the best for attracting money opportunities.

There are also solar powered ones that continuously beckon money opportunities.

And you can find ones that are coin banks. Just remember to feed the cat with coins, a few each week. When the bank becomes full empty it and take the money and deposit it into your account. Then start feeding the cat again.

Placing Your Lucky Cat

When you place your lucky money cat you want it to be across the room from the door. It should be sitting on a shelf or table facing the door. If you can see it from the door, it’s in the right place. Right now I have two lucky money cats, one in my living room on the fireplace mantle and the other in my home office.

Make sure your dust your lucky cat regularly. If the waving arm is battery powered then replace the batteries when they are spent. If possible find rechargeable batteries or even better, get a solar powered cat.

If you notice you’re no longer receiving money opportunities like you were at first then try moving the cat to another shelf or table. Your lucky money cat can live in your home office, living room or dining room.

Let me know if you have a lucky money cat and what opportunities you’re wanting to attract.

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Reunite with Someone From the Past

Timing gives you an edge. Doing something is great but doing the right thing at the right time is best. Currently, it’s Mercury retrograde and that means it’s a great time for doing some very specific things.

You’ve probably heard about Mercury going retrograde. It does this 3-4 times a year. You may have read some of my past blog posts about it or maybe you’ve read a book on it (here’s a great booklet on Mercury retrograde if you’re interested). You’ve probably heard about all the things to avoid doing on the retrograde such as optional dental work, signing contracts, or driving long distances when your car isn’t in the best working condition. But there are some great things to do on Mercury retrograde where the energy of the retrograde actually benefits the process.

One of the best uses of Mercury retrograde is to bring two people back together. The retrograde energy is all the “re” words (I checked and there are 1965 pages of words in this category on wiktionary) and one of those words is reunite. Mercury, which rules communication, and retrograde motion which brings things and people back, gives you the perfect opportunity to reunite with someone from the past.

So here’s what to do. First, write out on a small piece of paper what you would this meeting to be like and what you hope it will accomplish. Then place the paper where you charge your phone. Then reach out to the person just to say “hi” or “like” something they’ve done on Facebook. And that’s it. Let the Universe do the rest. By doing this during the retrograde you set the process in motion. Then be open to what happens. Things don’t always work out as we expect but there’s always some positive learning we can gain from every process. Let me know if you’re going to try this during this retrograde period.

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How to let go of Grandpa’s table – the decluttering challenge of family heirlooms.

It’s sitting in your garage or attic or maybe it’s in your dining room right now and it won’t fit into the new house (or the new design for this house). But it’s not so easy as just picking up the phone and calling “got junk” to haul it away. You see, it was Grandpa’s table.

This can apply to any number of things; photos, crystal vases, silver-plated silverware, hand crocheted afghans (I’m just mentioning the stuff in my garage). They’re things you know you won’t use…ever. But how can you get them go without dishonoring your family member’s memory (and ticking off the rest of the family)? Here are the steps for letting go.

First, deal with the living, i.e. your family. Send out an email or text to all the local relatives and see if anyone wants this item. Let me them know you are going to be letting this item go if no one else wants it. Let them know there’s a deadline to respond. You may give them until the end of the month or a few weeks.

If they say they can’t take the item AND it must stay in the family then you let them know, gently, that if they can’t take the item and they don’t have an alternative place for the item it will be leaving the family.

Second, take some time to show your respect for the ancestors and this item. I’ve had many a conversation with relatives who’ve passed on. Take a moment while sitting near the item. Think of a happy memory of the person who owned this item. This memory may involve the item also but it doesn’t have to. Thank this person for the gift of this item and let them know that you no longer need it.

Third, take a picture of the item. We often keep items we don’t need because of the memories they invoke. But pictures can bring back those memories also. So take and store (either by printing or digitally) a good picture of the item.

Now you’re ready to release the item. You will find your conscience is clear. The item finds a new life with someone else. And you’ve successfully decluttered a little bit more.

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Using Chinese Coins to Attract Money Opportunities

Chinese Coins are a great Feng Shui cure for bringing in money opportunities. In this video I talk about using coins and coin strings according to Feng Shui principles.

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