Monday, December 5, 2016

Practices for a smoother season

     As I type this post today, we are right dab in the middle of the holiday season.  No matter what and when you celebrate this season, the month of December seems to take on a life of its own.  By the time the new year rolls around we are feeling a huge need to reboot our lives.  The feeling doesn't always come from a centered joyful place but more of a panic, frustrated and determined to make this next year better place.

    This post is all about creating rituals and practices that support new habits for the month of December.  Habits that will help create a place for you to celebrate, reboot and refresh.

   The practice I'm talking about is called Beginning, Middle and End.  When I work in a home to help downsize or clear the clutter, there is usually a part of this equation that is missing- maybe two or three parts.  Setting the intention and getting started is the first part.  Staying clear, focused and taking action is the second part and finally there needs to be an ending time to wrap up, celebration and pause.

Like our calendars life moves in seasons and circles.  Starting in Jan, rounding through July and back to December our years are not straight lines but circles.  You can't jump around, you need to stay in the flow of time.  Just like clutter clearing and just like the month of December.

For this month not to feel like a treadmill going nowhere here are a few practices you might consider implementing this season.

The beginning- Setting the intention and getting started
    How you start your day sets the stage for the entire day.  Wake up with enough time for a bit of am movement, connection time and setting the intention of the day.  A cup of warm water with lemon or lime will help get your digestive system flowing.   Movement gets you moving and uncrinks the night.
    Set the intention of the day- how do you want it to feel, to flow?  Ask for what you want for the day.  Say thank you in advance.  Breathe deeply and take a minute of two to set your course for the day.  What would you love to do?  What have you been putting off?  What is essential to this day?  These are wonderful questions to ask yourself. 
   Give yourself a time to start your day.  Depending on when my first appointment is I try to give myself at least 30 minutes of am free time- time to move, set intentions and connection time.  It is also important to start the day with good fuel- not coffee and sugar but foods that nourish and support you.

The middle- Time for focus and action
    You may have a lot on your plate this time of year, more than normal.  And yet this season is the season of reflection and rest.  Be very mindful to add on only things you really love.  We are not creating Hallmark movies here, we are living in the real world. 
    Set little blocks or spaces of time for yourself.  Set your timer, work in segments.  Having little pausing points of the day keeps your day from becoming a giant blur.  Set an intention for your drive to work,  give yourself 42 minutes to go outside and walk, set your timer for 30 minutes to call someone you love.  If you are feeling overworked- take a mid day break to be still for 10 minutes.
   By starting with a clear focus and working in time segments it keeps you engaged in what you are working/playing on.  It gives you tiny beginning, middles and ends to each little project.  We all have plenty of time- we all have the same amount of time. The biggest gift you can give yourself is the gift of less on your list.  Be nice to yourself, add in only what you truly love, let go of what is on someone else's to-do list.

Start with the end- Completing and Pausing
    As tempting as it is to put more in your days and stay up later, I suggest the opposite.  Go to bed earlier.  Set a time for the completion of the day.  For me 9pm is the time.  At that time I'm done with doing.  I give myself 1 hour to just Be.  Washing my face, getting into my pjs, unplugging from electronics.  Now I have about 30-40 minutes of pure freedom.  My task list is not part of this time.  I might add in: deep breathing, reading, maybe yoga, meditation or being still.
    The ending of the day is the perfect time to reflect on moments of gratitude or inspirations from the past 24 hours.  I give myself time to pamper and set the stage for a deep and restful sleep.  Sometimes I do nothing- and that's perfect- the most important thing is to give yourself the breathing space at the end of the day to appreciate the day and to just be.

These are ideas I have cultivated over many years, but the basics are these:
      Create a Beginning- setting the intention and getting started
      Having a Middle- the meat of the sandwich is in the middle
      Every good story needs an ending- let yours be sweet and kind.

Wishing you all a happy holiday season, let your traditions be uplifting and your nights restful,

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A Simple Solutions to One of Life's Most Complex Problems

It is November!  Wow, life is so consistent in its moving forward!!  I suppose this is a good thing but every once in a while don't you wish it would slow down just a touch?  Of course, if it did chaos would ensue, the environment would get out of sink and we would all be praying for life to pick up the pace again.

So now that we have the whole matter of slowing down time off our plate...what can we do instead that will give us a good sense of stillness?

I cleaned my pantry.  As it turns out cleaning is not only good for having company over but it is also very calming.  A clean and organized space is good for your nervous system.

 In a few weeks we will be having what we call our Fake Turkey day.  Instead of celebrating Thanksgiving on Nov 24th, we host our big NW family gathering on the 12th.  The earlier date opens the date for lots more family and friends to attend.  Plus it kind of extends the time from Thanksgiving to the December Holidays. (As a side note to this blog post- I highly recommend the fake turkey day- day.  It was done for practical matters but is now a family favorite!!)

Because of the impending day, last weekend, I was feeling a bit of the got to hurry up syndrome.   Instead of hurrying up I started puttering in my kitchen.  Puttering may not be the correct word as I moved pretty swiftly.  I "puttered" into my giant pantry and there I spent the rest of the day- cleaning, purging, organizing and then admiring.

When you putter, you are present but not super focused.  You just keep moving, one bottle at a time, one shelf, one box until you are all done.  Your brain relaxes, your mind wanders, you keep moving forward.  This full clean out wasn't a little process but now that my pantry is back to order, I realize how relaxing it is to my spirit to open that door and see bright colored herbs, nuts and teas all lined up.  There is no weight of an undone task, to should-a, would-a or could-a waiting for me behind my pantry door.

 There is an ease to my life because I cleaned out a pantry that I wouldn't have had otherwise.  A simple solution?  Maybe but isn't that the best kind???

    I wish you all simple solutions for what may appear as complex problems,

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Do you feel stuck in your life?

Have you ever felt stuck in a rut?  That feeling of not moving forward but doing the same thing over and over again?  I so get that. 

When I was a teenager, we took our cows up to a ranch in Wyoming for the summer.  Supposedly, the fence was sound but we soon found out...the hard wasn't.  We ended up searching for our herd all summer.  I loved it!  Of course, I was a kid and the impact of losing our family income wasn't really in my awareness.  What I remember was getting to go to this amazing mountain.  The air so fresh, meadows, aspen trees, babbling brooks and cow searching.  When we did find a cow it was so exciting! 

Anyway, on one of our cow searching adventures, we got stuck.  My dad, mom and I were in our 3/4 ton brown Chevy pickup.  We landed right in the middle of a big old mud pit and there we were.  Our truck was rear wheel drive.  If you gave it too much gas it would just spin out.  Not enough gas and you just sat there.  It took two of us pushing, one driving ( I was a pusher).  Pushing, gas on, rocking, pushing, gas, rocking back in forth until suddenly- out we went!  It felt so freeing!  We were all tired and at least two of us coated in mud from top to bottom. 

This is the visual I get when I think of being stuck.  A beautiful mountain surrounding one little family, a brown pick up truck, probably cows curiously watching and a mud puddle.  While we were pushing and pushing, we didn't see anything but that truck and mud.  It was only after we got unstuck did we once again smell that fresh air, hear the birds and see the mountain.

When you are stuck- for whatever reason, some work is usually needed to get unstuck.  Habits have been formed, patterns, ruts created.  It takes a little effort, focus, persistence and sometimes a bit of help to get your truck and life out of the mud. 

As a coach, I get to work with lots of clients in transition from stuck to free.  Clutter clearing is a perfect example of this, as is moving, shifting careers, changing family structures or finding a way out of the daily grind so you can thrive.  I love it!  I absolutely love helping people get unstuck.  When shifts happen, I get just as much joy as I did when our truck popped out of that mud! 

If you ever feel stuck in life, no need to fret.  Get some pushing help, put your foot on the gas, keep rocking back and forth until you pop out.  When out of your rut, clean your self off and go find your lost cows!

As always, I wish you great joy in your travels,

Friday, October 14, 2016

Long Lost Things

Thank you to everyone who has attended my classes last month.  What a great groups!!   Last Thursday at Kirkland's clutter clearing class, I read this poem from my aunt Velma.  I was asked to post it and so here it is... enjoy

  For anyone who doesn't know this story, my mom and I got a message from my aunt when we were cleaning out her home.  My great Aunt Velma, passed away a years ago. She was 103- vibrant and very curious.

 My mom and I cleaned out her home after her passing.  As many of you know this is a tough job, deciding what needs saved and what needs to be let go.  In many ways it is easier to clean your own stuff than to be responsible for some else treasures.  Anyway, as we were cleaning we came upon a poem taped to the inside of an my aunt's china closet/desk.  She had left us a note...Thank you Aunt Velma!!!  Here is the note/poem she left behind for us non ruthless fingers;-)

I would be glad of fingers
Not too ruthless
But impersonal
Would weed out little keepsakes
I have kept for years
Scrapbook poems
Letters, useless gifts
Once dear with sentiment
                                         Greeting cards    
And other bits of old remembering

I have no need of them
They clutter up my desk
But once I start
To clear them out
And pause to look at them
My hands are stayed
Nor can I bring myself
To throw one single thing away!

I would be glad of fingers
Tender but impersonal
Would throw my little
Long kept things

                                         Written by: Lou…

Stress and Joy two ends of the same rope

 Did you know the top remedies for reducing stress are also the top remedies for creating joy?

When we are joyful we are more creative, resilient, healthy, prosperous, productive, intelligent and flexible. The exact opposite is true for stress...hummmm

These two partners- stress and joy are like two people on the end of a rope playing tug of war.  Joy pulls- we get happier, stress gives a tug and we lose some creativity.

If life is feeling out of control- just like the weather outside today.  Your best and most productive way to get your grove back on is to de-stress!  As a bonus, when you are stressed you usually don't realized how stressed you are.   With the kicker being, you lack the creativity and intelligence to work your way out of stress.  It's kind of like being stuck in a wet paper bag but having no idea how to get out. 

If you are feeling less than joyful then consider stress as the culprit.  One of the best joy inducers and stress reducers is going outside and moving!  Fresh air and exercise is a two dose pill for a happy spirit.

As always wishing you a healthy, happy and prosperous life,

The Northwest is having one doozy of a storm.  Today I went running in the wind and rain.  Talk about getting the stink blown off!  Fresh air bring fresh energy.  It is hard to get too wrapped up in the day when you are running in a storm

Monday, September 19, 2016

Go Off Road Today

Inspired by one brave cook who went off road with a pair of calf's feet.

   This weekend I was flipping through an old cookbook and came across a recipe that both amazed me but also turned my stomach a bit.  Beyond my reactions to this slightly odd recipe, I was in awe.  In awe of the person who creatively came up with such a recipe.  Some brave soul said, why not, let's try this.  It may be out of the box, unusual, weird, unconventional, etc but what the heck, let's give it a try anyway.
     The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  Trying something new, no matter how unconventional takes your life off road.  Off road is where there is fresh energy.  We need to go off road.

  Today, do something out of the blue, raise eye brows and shift your day.  Our lives are meant to be explored not set on auto pilot.  Go play- shock your friends, wear white after Labor Day.

If you are wondering what wild recipe got me going, read it is word for word:

      Calf's Foot Jelly

A set of calf's feet:  Boil them in four quarts of water until reduced to two.  They should be simmered, not boiled.  Set the jelly away after being strained until the next day.  When the grease must be taken off carefully, and the jelly boiled with the juice and rind of three lemons, one pint of wine, a little cinnamon, a pint of sugar, and the whites and shells of four eggs for twenty minutes.  Then pour it into the jelly strainer and allow to drip without disturbance.
 Nebraska Pioneer Cookbook by Kay Graber

I told you!  After I got over my shock about this recipe, I thought, this is actually kind of healthy- a little like bone broth jelly.  Hummm, I don't think I'll try to make it but if given the opportunity, I would try it.  

Wishing you many days of sanity, off road adventures and living outside the box,

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Walking into conversation

Sometimes you need to go off road.  My hubby, Dallas and I have discovered when we go out of our kitchen and into the woods our communication lights up and starts flowing.  After being married 26 years and in business for 25 years we have naturally developed patterns, habits, a sort of relationship dance.  This summer we got a new dance-a woodsy two step.

 A few years ago I got to travel to Iona, Scotland.  The folks on this little island had a great tradition.  They held tough or important conversations at what they called the crossroads.  That is literally what it was- two little dirt roads crossing. The wise residents would go to the crossroads to settle disputes, differences or come up with creative ideas.  They left their personal homes, their comfy chairs and went outside.  Standing in nature, fresh air - sometimes very fresh - they would talk on this neutral stetting until they came to some solution.  I remember thinking this was a brilliant idea but never thought to use it in my own life.

Fast forward to this summer, Dallas and I started going to the Dash Point State park to walk/run the trails.  A funny thing happened along the way...our chats started flowing.  We found our conversations got deeper, lighter, easier and more productive all with less effort.  Movement gets you unstuck- just like de-cluttering does.  Movement of any kind creates flow.  Gone are the meetings at the kitchen table, we are now outside, walking talkers.  

How great is this?  So if you find yourself needing to conduct a business meeting, solve the world's problems or just open up a new flow of communication with someone- take it to the woods, or to the beach!  

Yesterday afternoon, Dallas and I were on such a walking/jogging/talking journey.  Here is a picture Dallas took on our walk!  Maybe it is the beauty that makes conversation so easy...

Wishing you beauty and joy in your daily conversations, 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

An unexpected gift

Have you ever had a day go slightly astray?  Your carefully planned schedule just won't behave. This shift is not always a bad thing.  It might even be called a gift.

When life is truly flowing, life's events seem to mysteriously fall into place.  I find the less stressed I am the better life flows.  My intuition is on point.  Serendipity shows up frequently.   Life's little moments of happy coincidences occur as if by request and I seem to be in the right place at the right time.

Today, I had such a gift.  My day got greatly altered from what my schedule book had planned.  I needed this reminder to remember to say thank you when life gives me an unexpected shift.

This week was full to the rim.  My business is flourishing.  But today both of my appointments got moved to another day.  I find myself with time to write, create, research, think and even watch the clouds go by if I want.  I sit here with a beautifully open and uncluttered schedule.  I have been handed a gift: a treasure of free time.  Breathing space!  ahhhh my breath deepens just thinking about it.

When I was little my mom started what she called quiet time.  We lived on a farm in Wiggins Colorado.  My mom was a stay at home mom/farmer with three little kids.  In order to maintain her sanity she instilled what she called: Quiet Time.

After lunch we were all required to be quiet for 1 hour.  We would go to different parts of our home.  There were only 3 rules:  we needed to be quiet; stay inside; be safe.  Naps we supported but not required.  During this time I learned the value of play time, alone time, creative time and free time.

To this day I still crave quiet time, it is as essential to me as running in the woods.  I may not get it every day but I still need this space for my sanity.  Today, I was gifted a whole day of quiet time.

If you are ever gifted with such a day, do not fret, clutter up your gift or give it away.  Savor this gift of freedom.  Maybe you didn't make as much money or check off as many to-do items off your list as you had hoped for.  That is just fine.  Take this gift and say thank you.  The energy you gain along with the creative enrichment will pay off in dividends later.

Enjoy every moment of quiet time. Let your spirit and soul become refreshed, rebooted and realigned with what you are really alive for.  A happy you is the best gift you can bring to this world

 I wish you great fun in your adventures of life,

Saturday, July 9, 2016

21 day practice to lighten up the world

The 21 Day Practice to being Happy.  
with the goal to Lighten up the World...
 or at least make it a wee bit nicer

26 years ago, when Dallas and I got married, we were given two bits of wisdom for a happy marriage.  One was from Dallas's mom, she told us to be nice to each other.  The second lesson was from a class I took, that we are all responsible for our own happiness.  These tips may not seem earth shaking but wait...

When we are happy we are creative, full of love and compassion.  How we live touches those around us like drops of water rippling out on a still pond.  How we live extends well beyond ourselves.  Feeling fulfilled, connected and joyful spills out into our families, our companies and our world.  Being joyful and loving is not selfish but a means bring lightness to our world.  We can not give what we do not have.  What we focus our attention on grows.

Lately we have felt the pain and desperation of too many life ending tragedies.  Pain begets pain.  Innocent people die and more waves of pain spread. 

Sometimes it may seem like we are powerless for this kind of pain and violence in the world.  This isn’t so.

I think of each one of us are like drops of water in a pond.  We ripple out.  We connect.  We influence each other.  Now is not the time to sit back and wait for someone else to come fix our world’s pain. Now is the time to personally take action.  It all begins with each and every one of us.  We are all responsible for the ripples we send out every day.  "We are responsible for our own happiness."  We are responsible for our own actions.

It is time to practice what we most desire.  Love begets love.  Peace begets peace.  Joy begets joy.  If we want more love then we should give more love.  If we want more kindness in the world, maybe we can start the motion by being kinder to those closest to us.  Kinder to ourselves.

Our circles if influence are directly connected to us.  The more light we bring, the brighter our ripples, the stronger they flow.

21 day Practice of being Happy

For 21 days, every night, just before you go to sleep, write down at least three highly specific ways you showed and felt Love/Joy today.  What did you absolutely love about the day?  How did you show and give love? How did you receive love?  What touched your heart today?  What made you smile and shine?   What made your eyes sparkle?  What made your breath expand and your mind relax?  Did you have a moment of spontaneous joy or see beauty? Write it down.

 A new habit can take anywhere from 18 days to 254 -when done with intent and consistency.  Do this challenge with a clear intent and consistency.  Start with a solid 21 day practice.  Lets change the world one drop of water, one day, one person, one act of Love/Joy at a time. 

Resources and credit...

This 21 day practice- was created off a little article in the June issue of Natural Awakenings.  In an article on simple daily practices for a happier life by Judith Fertiq talks about Shawn Achor- and his book the happiness advantage. She quotes Shawn: "When the human brain is positive, our intelligence rises and we stop diverting resources to think about anxiety."  "Creativity triples and productive energy rises by 31 percent".   Shawn Achor suggests this 21 day happiness activity of writing down three highly specific, positive things about their workday.

The habit information about how long it takes to create a habit comes from Tom Corley's book: Change your habits, change your life. - great book!!

This work isn't my creation, I'm merely the messenger...
Happy travels into a lighter and brighter world...

Friday, June 17, 2016

Travel Kindly Today

Good morning,
   Yesterday, I went for a walk with friends, There were sweet peas blooming along our path.  A few years ago I walked with one of my girlfriends 60 miles and countless training walks.  Along the way we became sisters.  On one of those walks there were zillions of sweet peas blooming.  We walked, took pictures of sweet peas and chatted about life.
   Now whenever  I see sweet peas I think of my friend and our magical journeys together.   There wasn't a lot of clutter in these walks.  Simple   Clear   Unhurried.
   Life is a journey not a destination- when we travel lightly we give our lives time to breathe.  We give our spirits time to play.  We give our curiosity time to explore, we take pictures of sweet peas, walk with girlfriends and just be.

"The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak."
                                                                   Hans Hofmann

In this case the necessary are sweet peas in spring noticed while walking with friends.
                              Travel kindly today,

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Living Small Doesn't Serve the World

Do you ever doubt yourself? Are you ever afraid?  I wish I could say: no, not me I'm always super confident and amazing.  The truth is there are moments I doubt, I shrink, I fret.  Sometimes, I think who am I to write, coach, create workshops, give presentations, even garden or create recipes?  But then there are other times, more and more, that I smile and know.  I like those times better.  Don't you?

Today, a friend of mine and I were visiting about this very topic.  She sent me a poem by Marianne Williamson.  If you are having a moment of doubt read this and see if your inner knowing doesn't perk up a bit.

As always, I wish you oodles of confident and splashes of brilliance,

"Our Deepest Fear"
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn't serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us.  It's not just in some of us;
It's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fears, our presence automatically liberates others."

Marianne Williamson

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Senseless Acts of Beauty

Yesterday, I was working with a client and dear friend.  Clutter clearing tends to do that...create friends.  Anyway, during our downsizing travels we came upon an old bumper sticker.  I have heard the phrase of practicing random acts of kindness lots of time which is great message.   But on this particular bumper sticker was the addition of ..
and Senseless Acts of Beauty.

There is something in those simple lines that has struck a cord with me.  Senseless Acts of Beauty.. I'm not even sure what it means but I do know it is magnificent to the soul.

   What is a Senseless Act of Beauty and how often do you Practice Senseless Acts of Beauty?

Today is Saturday.  I'm working and I will also be discovering and practicing this idea and the uncharted territory of Senseless Acts of Beauty.

This is why we let go and clean out our discover what lights up our souls...
As Always, I wish you a happy home and today may I add Senseless Acts of Beauty,

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Secret to Happiness....

Over the past 958 days I have been on a personal 1000 day practice.  A practice that is really a journey of learning to live from my heart.  I'm on the final stretch of this 1000 day journey.  

Would you like to know what I discovered today?

 It isn't the length of the journey that matters most.  It is staying connected to the moments in that journey that count.  As day 1 turned to day 32... 445, ... 768 and then to today - day 958, the specific numbers mean less and less.

Staying fresh in the practice becomes the greatest challenge.  Just is it is with life.  How do you stay fresh on day 18,250 of your life?  Now that is a good question.

Life is a series of moments and events.  Refreshing, rebooting, re-creating, resetting your life again and again become our practice in staying fresh and alive.

If we don't connect to this precious day, we end up getting caught up in a merry go round of days.  Life becomes like the movie Ground Hog Day.  And just like the movie, until we get "it", we will keep living the say old day over and over again.

Today, I cleaned off my desk, cleaned out my pens, posted notes and stamp drawer and then emptied and cleaned my bookcase.  I'm washing my office curtains as I type.  This morning, instead of doing my morning "normal" quiet/yoga/meditation time, I slept in and then jumped right into the day.  I didn't not start in a panic, I was not late, I was different.

Life is your habits.  Your habits can uplift you and they can deplete you.  Even seemingly healthy and positive habits can be come stale.  Maybe the secret to happiness is being connected, awake to the moment, trying new patterns, taking new paths and revisiting old paths.  And every once in a while to remember to hit the refresh button.

As always I wish you great joy on your path,

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Wild Guide to Spring Cleaning

Spring clean like you are packing to hike the Pacific Crest Trail

Have you read the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed?  If not I highly recommend you do.  This book is an excellent guide for understanding what is essential to pack on your travels.   Cheryl needs a change in her life and decides to walk the Pacific Crest Trail- alone.  Along the way she discovers what's truly important and what isn't.

Cleaning out and letting go is tough but maybe a shift in perspective is just what you need this spring.  Wild is fun read and a good metaphor for de-cluttering.  As you read, substitute your home for her back pack.  What is essential and what is dead weight?

Before hiking we need to pack.  You don't take everything you own.  There is critical selection process.  You ask questions.  What do I truly need?  What do I truly love?  What do I feel obligated to take? Ask Ask Ask

 I loved the beginning of the book.  Cheryl has filled her huge back pack with life's "essentials".  She can barely even lift her pack and yet plans on walking the Pacific Crest Trail trail. It is a humble beginning.  But as she travels she lets go, gets stronger, lighter, braver and much wiser!

 How far do you want to travel this year?  How light to you want to live?

Spring is the season to get our packs/homes ready for our travels.

Spring Packing tips.....
    *  Pack light- a light and well packed backpack is essential for a successful trip
    *  Start by taking everything out of our pack
    *  Clean your pack- get rid of all the dust bunnies, gum wrappers and broken sticks
    *  Organize your essentials- you need to be able to find your matches in the dark
    *  Ask a zillion questions- be ruthless as you assemble your essentials
     * Take with you only the things your truly need and love.  Be clear and focused.
    *  Finish the process.  Put your pack back/home back together again.
               Complete what you start.

 Your journey will be so much easier when it is light and well packed.
            Begin walking.

As always I wish you happiness in your travels, your cleaning and clutter clearing.

We Make Our Own Happiness

Dairy farming is hard work.  It is a 365 day a year job.  Twice a day you milk cows.  In between milking you fix fence, plant crops, feed cows...etc.  Both of my grandpa's were dairy farmers:   Grandpa Alton and Grandpa Biddie.
This week I got to thinking, both of my grandpa's made music as they worked.  Grandpa Alton whistled, Grandpa Biddie hummed.  Even though the work was long and hard, I never had the feeling they resented the work.  They seemed to enjoy the day.  They hummed and whistled along.

My grandpa's were good teachers.

When you start your spring cleaning or clutter clearing or anything you may hesitate on, try humming or whistling while you work.

Don't take my word for it, watch the science of happy.  It's a good watch.

To watch Dan Gilbert's TED Talk- The surprising science of happiness Click Here

As always I wish you great happiness and health in your daily life,

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Spring Cleaning is Good for the Soul

 There is magic in cleaning and cleaning out.  Maybe you have read the best selling book "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up".  But have you experienced the refreshed-rebooted-clean slate-new beginning feeling of a cleaned out space?

You can't read about this experience, you must live it. We think we are present - awake and yet we are creatures of habit.  My shoes go here.  This lamp sits against the west wall.  I drop my right shoulder when I type.   Tuesdays we have chicken for dinner. I have a cup of hot water in the morning. Afternoons is when I walk my dog.

We are wired to create natural habits.  But these habits or our daily norms also become our blinders.  When you have a old pile of books or a procrastinated project, the longer it sits the more embedded in your norm it becomes.  We stop seeing what we see everyday.  Life gets stagnate.  Life gets stuck.  We get stuck.  Dust bunnies rule.

Spring cleaning shifts this stuck rut.  When you clean your home.  You refresh your space.  You shift and move what has been stagnate for a year.  When life moves, life looks different.  

When I work with a client to clear their clutter, there is a palatable shift when old stagnate heavy habits and things move out and away.  The room feels lighter, the color's are brighter, life seems easier not so heavy.  Breathing expands.  Fresh energy fills the space.

Lately it seems, I am constantly having conversations with others in transition or wanting to be in transition.  There is a desire to live our life's purpose.  A stuck life feels bad. It depletes and diminishes.

That's the bad news... The good news is this:
       The simple act of cleaning our your clutter- your over stuffed, your unloved, unused, unfinished and untouched... gives your spirit, your soul a little breathing space.
        When you deep clean a space- take everything out and wash, rinse and dry every little corner -you bring fresh energy into your life.

Call it a metaphor, magic or a miracle but cleaning and cleaning out are powerful partners to finding your way in this life.  Maybe this shift will lead to a new path or maybe it will give you a new way of walking on your current path.

Once one part of your life starts moving and flowing there seems to be a lovely side benefit of flow and movement in other parts of your life.  

Clutter clearing simplifies our life.  It give us clarity.  It give us a re-boot.  By clearing our clutter we create flow in our homes.  Flow is movement.  

Clean out your garage or desk.  Or clean out your your inbox, calendar or your to-do list.  Sometimes we just need to stand back, lighten up our normal and then look at our lives from another perspective.

As always I wish you a happy and healthy life.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The life of a cleaner

Cleaning is being transformed in my world.  As a professional cleaner for the past 25 years I now find myself no longer a cleaner.  This is an odd feeling and freeing feeling.

Growing up, I hated to clean!  Hated it.  I lived on a farm, cleaning meant I was not outside but inside doing the menial work of housekeeping.  Life is really very funny.  After college I took the next logical step, I became a professional cleaner. Seriously, who makes this stuff up???  Thankfully, I found I loved running a business, helping others and when you clean for someone else, cleaning brings great satisfaction.

Over the years of cleaning, I have cleaned everything from mastic off terrazzo floors, carpet for exhausted moms, filthy daycare chairs to award winning stone bathrooms.  I have cleaned for the ultra rich to the very poor.  I have cleaned for families moving in and families moving out.  I have cleaned for kind people, inspiring people, stressed people, families welcoming in a new baby, families hosting weddings and families after a loss.  During this time, I have also cleaned my own home.  I have cleaned, pondered cleaning, researched cleaning and taught cleaning.

As it turns out, cleaning was good for me.  It became my teacher as well as my vocation.  I learned from cleaning. I discovered residue and then taught residue free cleaning.  The value of cleaning and its history became visible. I found myself, in the process of being a cleaner.  Wax on ...Wax off.  There is wisdom in cleaning.  And there is a gift in learning to love your work whatever it may be.

As I write to you I'm in the process of becoming a certified transformational life coach.  As I help families clear out their clutter and live residue free lives my daily work is now my passion.

You see, as I cleaned, I learned that cleaning is also a tool for removing the residues of life.  The residues on our countertops and the residues in our soul.  Cleaning is a beautiful form of daily meditation.  Good cleaning creates a healthy home. Cleaning helps keep your home flowing with fresh energy.  Cleaning creates clarity and cleaning helps keep clutter and stagnation at bay. Cleaning gives you something productive to do when life throws you a curve ball.

I thought about closing out this blog and starting fresh in another blog.  But if I had done so we would not get to continue our chats.  If you call today wanting your travertine floors cleaned, I can no longer help you. I can refer you but I won't be your cleaner.  I can however help you enjoy your life,  I can help you clean out your clutter and life's residues. I can help you find clarity and joy in your daily work. I can help you discover what you love.

I thank all to whom I have had the pleasure to meet and work with over the years.  My husband Dallas and I have been blessed beyond measure.  We thank you.

As always, I wish you great joy in your home and in your life,

Saturday, February 13, 2016

7 Essentials of a Healthy Home: Resources

Thank you for everyone who joined me the other night for my 7 Essentials of a Healthy Home workshop.   What a great class!  I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and I hope you all did as well.
In our conversions I mentioned a couple resources.  Below are the links to those resources as well as a reminder of the 7 essentials.  If you would like help or would like to schedule a consult for creating a healthy and happy home.  Please call anytime.  Thanks again!
Entrance Mats:  The entrance mats I have purchased and sold over the years come from American Floor Mats.  Click here to go directly to their web site  
    I like this site/company for a couple of reasons.  First you can get high quality commercial entrance rugs at a very good value.  If you would to actually see the mats before you buy, no problem just call and have them send you samples of the ones you are most interested in.   On this site you have a huge section of types, colors, sizes and qualities.
    Check on any specials and for purchase minimums.  Around holidays they will often give a 10% discount and if you order a certain amount will give you free shipping.
     I have quite a selection of samples and have ordered from here many times.   If you would like help in your order, let me know and for a small fee I can help you get exactly what you are wanting.
Commercial Microfibers:  With microfibers you very often get what you pay for.  Buying cleaning supplies from our local retailers may not be as cost and quality effective as is buying from the suppliers who supply us cleaners.  Over the years I have got a lot of my cleaning supplies from Coastwide Laboratory in Tacoma and Seattle.   For Microfibers they stock the Rubber Made commercial line and I think a couple types of microfibers.  Buy quality over quantity!  To connect directly to Coastwide click here.  If you are not a professional cleaner, don't worry Coastwide is open to the public

Absorbing Towels:  This last tip comes after class.  As we were all chatting a gentleman mentioned he was having trouble getting the residue off his countertops.  A common reason for this is either applying too much cleaner or not effectively rinsing and drying the surface to remove the cleaner.  I had forgotten to mention the importance of using absorbent towels.  Please do not clean your towels with any sort of fabric softener or use dryer sheets in the dryer.  Both of these products tend to diminish the absorbency of your towels.   Also, do not clean your towels with bleach.  Bleach tends to be damaging to the fibers.
 We used to get our while cotton towels from Costco.  We used the white cotton hand towels and white cotton shop towels.  
  In class I showed a demonstration of cleaning with the microfiber and then rinsing with a cotton towel.  This is a very productive combination.  Here you get the benefits of microfiber technology along with the absorbing power of cotton. 
As a reminder of our class- here again is the list of the

7 Essentials of a healthy home.
1.  Keep it well ventilated
2  Keep it dry
3.  Keep it clean- the residue free style!
4  Keep it free of contaminates
5.  Keep it safe
6.  Keep it pest free
7   Keep it well maintained

These 7 essentials come from The National Environmental Health Association and The National Center for Healthy Housing.  These are the organizations I received my healthy home certification from.

Thanks again,
    Wishing you all a big splash of curiosity and abundance of fresh air,


Saturday, January 16, 2016

5 gems of wisdom from an 80 year old company

On Dec 29th, I took a whole day from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm and visited with the staff of     D. A. Burns.   Why would I do such a thing?  Don't I have better things to do with my time than go hang out at another company? We'll, yes of course, my inbox and list of to-dos were high and deep but this day was worth every minute.

You see this past year we started working with DA Burns helping further train their staff in the wonders and wisdom of natural stone and tile cleaning.  In Jan of this year, we partnered with DA Burns to take over the stone and tile cleaning part of our business.  While working together, we got to discover a very special company.  A type of company you may think was only done in our grandparent’s era.  Well apparently there is still a company where the bottom line is not the top priority but doing the right thing is.  As we continued to working together, I became more and more intrigued and impressed.   And so I went on an exploration day.

I treated the day as if I were a “reporter”, trying to see why and how an 80 yr old company thrives.  How has this company stayed a front runner in the cleaning business for 80 years? Why do their clients have such a high level of customer loyalty?  Why does their staff average about 14 years? Why would any employee be willing to commute up to 3 hours per day for 29 and 38 years?  Hmmm, there is something special here and I was going to find out what.

As the owner of a 25 year old cleaning company, I know a wee bit about cleaning and running a cleaning company.  After this day of inside “reporting”,  three months of working side by side D. A. Burns plus knowing them from our industry during my entire cleaning career… I think I have uncovered some of the secret that have led to this company's success.

Below are 5 of the hidden gems I discovered.  I could go on but this already long blog would reach epic levels… So without further ado…

Gem # 1:  The Spirit of Mr. Dave Burns Jr. lives on

Sadly Mr. Dave Burns Jr. passed 10 years ago, at age 91, and yet his life continues in this company.  As I interview the staff, Mr. Burns was mentioned over and over, not like a past owner but like a beloved friend, grandpa, dad and mentor.  Curtis the facilities manager- who I think can fix anything, told me about a cleaning process Mr. Burns thought of for removing carpet odors that they still use today with extraordinary results.  Janet in front office and Mike the GM both talked about how after Mr. Burns had retired he would still come into the plant, with his yellow lab Beau.  He brought a spark of fun to the day but kept a watchful eye; making sure things were still being run well.  Richard Dix, owner of 40 years, spoke of him more than a business partner but like a dear friend, mentor and family member.  It was quite clear Mr. Burns was a man that was loved by this company and they still hold space for him.

Gem # 2:  There is an Art of Elevating People

How can you explain a company where the average employee has been there 14 years?  This is a cleaning service company.  I know from experience, cleaning is hard work and not always thought of with the value it deserves.  It can be tough to find good employees and yet this company is loaded with an amazing staff.  Bryan, the operations manager, who believes in small but consistent and continual improvements 38 years; Mike the general manager, who I met in 2010 when I popped one day and he kindly gave me a tour- 32 years; Jerry a craftsman who does the custom rug binding 27 years; Katherine who loves the entire process of cleaning 30 years; Jericho- front desk whose motto is "I please the people" 9 years; Julie area rug repair artist 17 years etc.....   Kelsey, one of the technicians Dallas and I worked with said he had been with D. A. Burns for 7 years and he was still considered a newbie! 

How is this possible?  As I interviewed and asked questions, this is what I heard from the staff:   they feel safe to own their work; to be creative in problem solving; to learn new trades when they wanted; to even make mistakes when a plan didn’t work out.  They felt protected and supported by the owner, Richard.  Mike, the GM believes Richard takes care of his staff and they take care of the customers and the business thrives.  It is like a circle.

Gem # 3:   A Family of Co-Workers Work Here

While in my ”reporting”  mode I asked the question:  “Why do you like working here?”  Over and over I heard “I love my co-workers”.  This staff is more than co-workers; they are friends, family and supporters of each other.  Janet and Toni who have worked together for over 15 years said they can finish each other's sentences.  I met with some of the new guys: Julian, Craig and Nic.  Even though they are fairly new to D. A. Burns, they love the feeling of no hierarchy.  And said they felt like what they thought was valuable and heard!  Dan, Don and Jericho seem like friends that would hang out together and genuinely like each other.
Everyone mentioned over and over again how much they love and appreciate Richard.  I'm guessing that's how everyone felt about Mr. Burns too.  Loving the owners seems to be a theme at D. A. Burns.  

Gem # 4:  Craftsmanship is alive and well

Then there are indeed hidden gems working away at D. A. Burns.  Julie and Em are master craftswomen in repairing rugs.  Julie said she can tell the age, origin; weave, if it was a prayer rug and much more.  A 17 year veteran at D. A. Burns and a master Oriental rug medic, she and Em of 10 years work together and do extraordinary work.

Jerry of 27 years is a carpet binding and fabrication wizard.  When I was there he was cutting and binding a rug to go into a yacht.  I was mesmerized watching him hand sew the binding on the corners.  He told me there is a machine that does this sort of corner binding but he wouldn't want to use it because it does sub-par work and uses cheaper materials.

Gem # 5:  You don't have to own the company to have pride and ownership of your work.

While working with D. A. Burns, we discovered you don't have to own the company to own your work.  D. A. Burns lets their staff own their own work.  You can see the pride they have in working for a company that is so highly valued.  They are proud of their individual work but maybe more so they are proud of their team work.  Coming together they are able to create something more impressive than anyone could do on their own.

On Jan 5th Dallas and I sold the Stone and Tile cleaning portion of Blue Sky Services to the D. A. Burns team.  After all the months of training and figuring out the how, when and where’s we came out of this process more impressed with this company than we went in.   During these past months we were treated kindly, with a generosity of spirit, with respect and with enthusiasm.  In our country larger businesses are often thought of as greedy and impersonal.  It was refreshing to know there is a company thriving right here in Seattle that changes the rules and runs their business with heart.

If you would like to meet this company, feel free to call or pop in like I did back in 2010.  I have no doubt they will greet you warmly and take great care of you.  Below is the link go see for yourself.