Decluttering Paper

I’ve been decluttering for a while now. I call it “being on my road to minimalism”. 10 years ago I had not only 3000 square feet of house crammed with things but also a store and warehouse. I had a lot of stuff.

Now I have a capsule wardrobe (this is an old video, I’ve now had a capsule wardrobe for more than three years)

and my tiny kitchen is under control… mostly.

The challenge remaining is paper. Maybe you have this issue too.

I have several categories of paper to deal with. Having my own business means I have boxes and boxes of tax records, at least seven, one for each year that tax records need to be kept.

Then I have my journals. I’ve been journaling since high school. I’ve filled books with some of the most heartfelt and boring prose ever written. This stuff is so boring I can’t even be bothered to reread it…and it’s about me. But I’m also finding it hard to let go.

And then there’s all the rest of the paper. Credit card offers come in the mail almost daily. I have handouts from lectures I found interesting which I saved thinking I would reread some day. I have catalogs, warranty info, and articles torn out of magazines.

So to begin I grab a box of miscellaneous paper and I do a quick sort into three boxes. SCAN, SHRED, and TOSS. Clippings can be SCANned. Credit card offers go into the SHRED box. And the rest, like catalogs and product instructions, go in the TOSS box (all that stuff is online now).

For scanning I have both my Canon printer which can do stacks of paper and then for odd sizes I have my Doxie portable scanner. The trick/trouble with scanning is if you don’t label it properly you’ll never find it again. I try to do scanning and labeling in one session so I have it fresh in my mind what it was I’ve scanned.

Scanned materials are sorted by category into different folders. And everything is backed up into the cloud using the offsite backup service Carbonite. Interesting side note: I got Carbonite a few years ago and backed up my entire computer. It took days. Three days after it finished the backup my entire system crashed. The hard drive was toast including a book I was working on that was 90% completed. I didn’t lose any data. As soon as my new computer arrived I downloaded all the data. Good as new.

For my journals I’ve decided to slowly deconstruct them, tearing out the pages and scanning them into a PDF book. The Doxie scanner has a feature to “staple” the pages together. Now if I suddenly have the urge to know what I was doing 20 years ago I can open up the “book” and read to my heart’s content.

My goal is to eventually digitize all the tax records as well, starting with the most recent years and working backwards. It’s quite a job so I haven’t brought myself to it yet. Many people do this while they’re watching TV but I don’t have a TV – though I could binge on YouTube tiny house videos I suppose. I’ll have to put that in my calendar.

Let me know what you’re doing about the paper clutter in your life. Leave me a comment in the comment section below.

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The Year of Less by Cait Flanders – book review

I just finished reading Cait Flanders delightful new book, The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shoppping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered That Life is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store. 

The Year of Less by Cait Flanders Flanders woke up one day to find herself in deep debt. She started a blog to document her journey of paying off 30k. After that, though she was now debt free she still wasn’t happy with the amount she was saving each month.

She took a radical step. She put herself on a two-year shopping ban.

At the same time, she decided to let go of all the extra stuff in her life. (This is what drew me to the book). She sold, donated and tossed 75% of her belongings. The book also talks about her childhood, her struggles with alcohol and finally, her discovery of a happier life.

What I thought was very interesting was the challenge of both not shopping (she did buy groceries and other essentials – you can see her rules for the shopping ban on her blog)  and at the same time decluttering. In the past, when I’ve put myself on a shopping ban I find the desire to hold on to my things, even things I’m not using because I can’t run out and buy more. The shopping bans I had were much shorter than Flanders did. Mine would last a month or two, not two years.

Overall the book was delightful and fun to read. I’m inspired by her story and as I continue my own decluttering I think I will institute a shopping ban as well.

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The “Earth” part of Year of the Earth Dog

We are heading into an Earth year. What does that mean?

We are just now finishing two Fire years. In Fire years we’re very concerned with actions. We want to get things done. We feel like if we can get more done things will be better. And we get stressed when other people don’t do the things we think they should be doing.

Now, we’re going to have two Earth years. This Element is about stillness, waiting, patience, and peace. We want time to think, meditate, mull and consider.

We want stillness because the Earth is shaking beneath our feet.

We’re just at the cusp of the Earth Element and we’ve already seen more volatility in the stock market than we’ve seen since 2009 (which by the way, was also an Earth year).

In Earth years many things change around us. Our inclination is to hunker down and hold on. The warning is to not do this for too long. Be still, yes, and collect the information needed to make a decision. Then move forward with certainty.

In Earth years it’s time to finish projects or release them. These projects can range from old stuff on your to-do list (do you have “learn Chinese” on your list too) to decluttering the garage to making a quilt out of all your old rocker t-shirts. The peace and stillness you crave now come from finishing or releasing that which has been weighing on you.

In Earth years we want to have a clean, peaceful space. Minimalism will become more popular. Having less stuff in the house means less to take care of, less to store, less to dust. As I let go of more and more things I find my space more welcoming, inspiring and relaxing.

In Earth years we benefit even more from the practice of meditation. Even five minutes of meditation is helpful. Clearing your mind and focusing on your breath is all you need to do. It will help you feel less reactive to circumstances and more able to find your balance in the rough waters of the world today. Instead of being hit by the wave you can surf the wave.

You can find out more about this and what’s in ahead in 2018 in my new book, Chinese Astrology 2018 Year of the Earth Dog.

Chinese Astrology 2018 Year of the Earth Dog

Or consider having a private session where I answer your questions about love, money, family and more.



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The Best Dining Room Color for Healthy Eating Habits

There’s really no wrong color for a dining room. But there are choices you can make that support your coals. Color can indeed affect our feelings, thoughts and therefore our decisions.

If you want to eat more veggies and be more health-minded in general consider painting your dining room green. Choose a green found in nature, a shade that looks vibrant and alive. In a few weeks, you’ll notice you’re naturally drawn to healthier foods. That is of course if you dine in the dining room. If you’re eating your meals in the living room in front of the TV this won’t work.

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5 Things You Can Do to Feel Better (and each takes less than 3 minutes)

Sometimes I just wake up in a funk. Maybe I didn’t get enough sleep. Or I’m feeling behind on my projects. Or sometimes I spent a little too much time on news headlines and suddenly I realize I’m depressed.

There are plently of things that can happen these days to leave you feeling down. But there are also ways to light the spark of hope and have it blazing within you. Here are five things I do to feel better right away and each take just a few minutes. (And you only have to do one to feel good).

  1. The Meditation of Loving Kindness.  I learned about this in Tim Ferriss’ book Tools of the Titans (which is an amazing book  by the way). He got it from Mingyur Rinpoche. Here’s how I do it. I sit comfortably in a chair or on the floor. Close my eyes and for 30 seconds or so I picture someone I care about having everything they ever wished for (health, wealth, happiness, etc.). Then for the next 30 seconds or so I picture an acquaintance or a colleague I know and that they have everything wonderful under the sun happen to them. Finally, for another 30 seconds I choose a stranger or a person in the public eye and wish them happiness, love, joy and success. And that’s it. I have found this amazingly effective for lifting the mood and it lasts all day.a woman meditating
  2. Dance. I put on some happy music and dance. Zumba works great for this. Exercise shifts our body chemistry and dancing is great exercise. I let go and dance like no one is watching.  Three minutes of dance and I feel better.Zumba
  3. Make a Clean Spot. This is what I call “spot decluttering”. I find a few items that can be tossed in the trash or put into the donation pile. Or I shred a small pile of papers. When you open up any space, even a tiny one, it feels like you can breathe. There’s a YouTube channel I enjoy called “Clean My Space”. I put on a quick video while I’m cleaning for inspiration.YouTube Channel Clean My Space
  4. Go Smudge Yourself. Smudging is a Native American-inspired method of clearing a person, place or object. Take sage (you can use whole leaves, ground sage or a smudge stick). Light the sage and move it around your body. You may feel an energy shift or that something is being lifted from you. You may not feel anything in the moment but in just a few minutes you feel better. I have a website on smudging with more information.Small Sage Bundle Burning
  5. Do Something For Someone Else: For me, depression happens when I focus inwards instead of outwards. It’s when I start thinking too much about myself and not about my service to others. I need to redirect my power (my gifts or just my energy) out into the world. So I pick up the phone and call or text other people offering to help them with what they need. Miraculously, this helps me most of all.Three Women Holding Hands

Let me know if you found this helpful. What you do to balance your energy and feel better?

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Best Crystals for Feng Shui: How to Use Clear Crystals

In Feng Shui, we divide crystals into two categories. There are natural crystals and cut glass crystals. The natural crystals include everything from gemstones to common crystals such as quartz and agate.

Cut glass crystals are faceted crystals that are usually hung to catch the light. Originally these were made from leaded crystal glass but these days they are usually made from glass without lead.

Both types of crystals are available in different shapes and sizes. Natural clear quartz crystals usually have a point at one end and the other end is rough like it’s been broken off of a larger piece (which it has). These are ideal for pointing energy in a certain direction. If you want positive energy from the outside to come into the house you can place these types of crystals (called single-terminated quartz crystals) by the street, pointing at your front door.

clear-quartz-pair-smallYou can also find highly-polished, tumbled clear quartz crystals. These are useful in bringing positive energy to a location. For example, you might have a bowl of these on your desk.

tumbled-crystalsCut-glass crystals are different but are also highly useful in Feng Shui. Because the crystal acts as a prism and splits light into rainbows it helps bring in energy. This energy takes the form of opportunities that are easily identified and very accessible. In other words, cut-glass crystals bring you the job opportunities or the love opportunities (based on placement of the crystal) that you can clearly see whether you want or not.

Cut-glass crystals come in many shapes, colors and sizes. For this article we’ll focus on the clear crystal in the ball shape.

crystals used in Feng Shui

These crystals are hung in places where there’s a light source. That can be a window or on a lamp.

Crystals in a window

Crystal on Plant

Sometimes these crystals are used outside to attract energy to the house. When using outside it’s best to use several and as many as 18. These could be hung from trees, bushes, potted plants or hung on the porch (taking care that they don’t bang together in the wind as they will crack and break).

With any Feng Shui crystals you want to “clear” the crystal before use. If you’re unsure about how to do this leave me a comment below and I’ll do a post about it. Also clean and dust the crystals you have in the house, especially cut-glass crystals, about once a month. This will give you a boost of positive energy.

If you have more questions about crystals please leave me your questions in the comment section below. And if you would like information on the Feng Shui in your home send me an email at


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Desk Lamps: The Feng Shui of Lighting Your Cubicle Work Space

When you think about it, your cubicle is a private area that is public to all the people you work with. This means others will derive an impression of who you are by what they see in your work space. One glance and they will decide whether you are organized, effective, and efficient. They will see if you’re family-oriented, whimsical, ambitious. Your space will show if you are a team-player, open to new ideas and innovative. Your decor could also give people impressions you don’t want them to have such as that you don’t like your job, that you don’t work well with others or that you are lazy and don’t care.

This is more than just whether your space is neat and tidy. When we enter any office space we quickly assess the surroundings and make a judgment. This impression is not always conscious but affects how we see and interact with the person on a deep level.  Noted authors such as Tim Ferriss and Gary Keller talk about the importance of having an environment that supports what you want to achieve. In this series of posts I’ll be talking about public work spaces and how to create an environment that helps not only your own mindset but helps other people support your goals.

Desk Lamps: Adding light and focus

Even though most cubicles have adequate overhead lighting, a desk lamp can literally put the spot light on an area.

Desk Lamps can be functional, decorative or both. A functional lamp is best placed to illuminate your work surface. Decorative lamps can add positive energy to the space (and are especially good when placed in the Wealth Area of the cubicle).

Mini Lamp with Round Base

For example, this mini lamp has a round base. Circular shapes represent wealth. The color white is associated with the Metal Element which also indicates wealth. This would be a good lamp to place in the Wealth area of the cubicle.

Minimalist Lamp

Here’s an example of a desk lamp that is very utilitarian. This gives the impression that a person is efficient, no nonsense and ready to get down to work. This lamp would be placed on the desk to illuminate the current project.

Old Fashion Desk LampThis vintage-inspired desk lamp gives the energy of one being more rooted in the past. If your company has been around a long time and values tradition then this would be a good a choice. This would give the impression that you’re practical, methodical and follow the rules.

Ball Lamp with Himalayan SaltIf you want to give the impression that you’re innovative, fun and creative then this lamp would be the answer. Here the combination of the modern shiny surface with lights and the Himalayan rock salt interior pulls together to different concepts into one focal point. Place a lamp like this in the Wealth area of the cubicle.

Want to know more about this topic? Leave me a comment below.

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