Do you really need all those shoes and clothes? A Simple Life Project

Do you really need all those shoes and clothes? A Simple Life Project

So, as you know by now I started A Simple Life Project this week on a mission to simplify, slow down and savor what really matters in life and today I’m looking at all the shoes… and clothes… and I am asking myself, “Do you really need all those shoes and clothes?” And the answer is a wincing “No.”

Now I realize this one may hit so close to home it hurts… but ladies, we must get real here… we just don’t need all of this. It’s wasteful and it’s taking up time, space and is causing stress whether we realize it or not. We need to be willing to take a good look at how addicted we may be to buying clothes and shoes and collecting them and holding onto them.

When I moved out of our 10 year family home I gave away two large garbage bags full of my shoes that either hurt my feet, never get worn, were worn out or just out of style. That was 42 pairs of shoes. It was ridiculous. Want to know what’s even more ridiculous? I still have shoes all over my house. We don’t wear shoes in the house so we take them off by the doors and leave them there or carry them to the closets. We have 6 doors to the outside of our house. And ever door has shoes next to it. Some of them are my daughter’s and my husband’s but most of them are mine. It’s absurd. So, today I’m going to have a sit-down with myself and my shoes and decide which shoes I really need and give away the ones I can do without.

And let’s talk about clothes. I have so many clothes that the laundry is never done. And this after giving away thousands of dollars worth of donated clothes last year when we moved. I know I’m not alone in this ladies! Do we really need all these clothes? I counted. I have 19 pairs of black yoga pants. Granted I pretty much live in yoga pants but do I really need 19 pairs? No. Time to purge.

So in my mission to simplify so I can slow down and savor what really matters in life I am going to boil down the wardrobe to 3 dressy dresses (which are worn maybe once/year) with 2 pairs of dress shoes, 4 casual dresses, 4 skirts, 14 blouses, 7 pairs of yoga pants, 10 tshirts, 2 blazers, 3 vests, 2 pair of clogs (I love clogs. Don’t judge me), 2 pairs of nice flip-flops, 1 pair of pool/beach flip-flops, 2 pairs of dressier sandals, 2 pairs boots, 1 pair of Tevas, 1 pair of water shoes and 1 pair of athletic shoes, 14 pairs of undies and 3 nice bras. Maybe 1 shaper just in case.

Because that’s all I need to be clothed and fashionable. My closet will have an echo and my laundry hamper will finally be empty.

Do you really need all that stuff? A Simple Life Project

Do you really need all that stuff? A Simple Life Project

I started A Simple Life Project on September 6 as a personal challenge for myself to dig deep every day into what it means to choose and create a simple life in order to slow down and savor what really matters in life. Today I want to explore the issue of STUFF. Clutter. What it is. Why we have it. How it’s holding us back and what to do with it.

Now I am no professional organizer. In fact I tend to be a stuff collector. I like stuff. But why? What does it do for me? Some stuff is sentimental reminding me of special people or events. But as I face the big 5-0 birthday at the end of this year I’m really feeling the need to de-stuff my home, office and my life in general.

We recently moved out of our family home where we’d lived for 10 years and we gave away enough stuff to house a small village of homes. It was ridiculous. But do you want to know what is more ridiculous? I still have a load of stuff in my spare room and attic and garage at our new house! So, I’m on a mission.

You see, I don’t need all this stuff. In fact, this stuff is holding me back and weighing me down. Maybe someone else needs this stuff in a way that is beneficial so I can free myself AND help furnish a home for someone who does need it.

So, today I am doing something I call speed-stuff-purging. I will be armed with extra large garbage bags and boxes and I will whip through each room tossing stuff I know I don’t need into the bags and taking them to the local donation drop-off TODAY.

AND, I hereby vow to stop buying stuff unless it is something I really need.

The fact of the matter is all the excess stuff that doesn’t really mean anything to us is clogging up the flow of life for us. A clean, orderly, sparse living space just FEELS like freedom.

So ask yourself if you really need all that stuff and start getting rid of it.

Time to Slow Down and Savor Life

Time to Slow Down and Savor Life

When we reach mid-life I believe our relationship with clock and calendar begins to shift if we allow it to shift. Otherwise we remain slave to the restrictions of schedules and to-do lists. I make it a personal rule to remind myself whenever I become concerned about what time it is to slow down and savor the moment even if only for a moment.

After my labor day weekend trip to a beautiful, serene mountain lake with my family where we were forcefully unplugged from electronic devices due to no cell phone coverage and scant wifi, I had a lot of time and space for reflection on what really matters in life. I concluded that in order to simplify my life I had to commit to a steady ritual of slowing down and savoring minute to minute.

Rather than ignoring the clock and calendar and losing track of time I decided to make it my friend in a pursuit of awakening to each moment as an opportunity to fully taste all the flavors of this human life experience.

For example, right now as I write this little article I am seeing my clock tell me it is 7:43 am. I am aware that I have a yoga class that will start at 9:30 am and that I will need to take my morning walk, shower, and prepare the studio for the students’ arrival before then but I am also aware of the comfort of the oversized arm chair I am sitting in that cradles me as it did my young sons when they were toddlers. I feel the cushion under me and behind me. I hear the sound of the keys on the keyboard clicking as I type and the faint rush of cars passing down on the road below. I feel my lungs voluntarily take in a deeper, fuller breath and release with ease. I see the morning sun streaming in on the floor from the dining room window. I note the scent of coffee wafting from the kitchen. I savor all of this sensory input. I am aware of a worry here and there that gnaws at me and I breathe in and out reassuringly. All is well just as it is. The clock will continue to move and I will savor every moment no matter what is happening in that moment.

Try a sensory break at the top of every hour. As if in slow motion, notice what you feel, taste, smell, see and hear. Feel your breath.

This is what it is to slow down and savor. This is what it is to fully embody each and every moment.


A Simple Life Project: Ways to Slow Down and Savor What Really Matters

From September 6 through January 6 I am dedicating each day to a personal challenge I am calling “A Simple Life Project.” I would love to have you join me.

I just arrived home after three days at a most serene and peaceful lake in the Great Smoky Mountains with my three kids (ages 16, 19 and 22) and two of their darling friends. There was no cell phone service and very weak wifi there. We talked, laughed, got out on the water together, cooked together and as I sat on the deck looking out at the majesty of those mountains and the glassy lake dreading the return to my hectic life at home I realized I could do something about this.

I decided for the next four months I am going to make a change or a shift of some kind every day toward the goal of living a more simplified life.

For four months every day I’m going to post on my Wonders Wellness Facebook page an inspirational idea about how this might be achieved. I know I’m not alone. I hear from women every day who long for this but feel overwhelmed by where to begin. I get it. So, I’m going to jump in the water first and let you know each day how it’s going. I’m hoping to inspire a lot of women to follow this plan and actively simplify their lives.

Let’s discover 125 ways we can SLOW DOWN and SAVOR  life so you and I can see and feel what REALLY matters. Be sure to follow the Wonders Wellness Facebook page and check in there daily to see what I’m sharing there to help you.

The Power of Soft: 10 Ways to Improve Relationships & Life

The Power of Soft: 10 Ways to Improve Relationships & Life

woman in waterWhen I trained with Drs. John and Julie Gottman of The Gottman Institute several years ago, I was introduced to 30 years of research they had conducted observing over 3000 couples in determining the predictors of divorce. One of the behaviors they recognized as very problematic in marriages is when one partner (or both) use what the Gottmans call harsh-start-up which is when a partner begins a conversation with a harshly negative or critical comment. The anecdote, of course, is approaching the same conversation with a soft-start-up which is consciously softening tone and choosing words which are respectful and absent of criticism or negativity.

This same idea is true for the way we lead our lives. If we are able to employ a softer approach to everything we see, do and say, our relationships will thrive in a very positive way and we will likely feel a greater sense of peace in our daily lives.

Here are 10 ways to improve relationships & life by using The Power of Soft:

  1. Check yourself before you speak. Notice if there is any “charge” of anger and take a deep, full breath. Come into awareness and intention to speak softly.
  2. Express feelings, thoughts, ideas, and requests with a soft tone of voice.
  3. If you want to receive something, first give freely and then softly and clearly make a kind request of others. If you are ignored or get a “no” don’t take it as personal rejection rather understand that person is simply not available at this time.
  4. When you hear others brag and boast, know that likely they have some fear and insecurity within. Soften your heart to them rather than rush to judge.
  5. Listen more than talk. Hold space for others and just really listen. As you listen simply hold the space with full attention rather than rushing to respond.
  6. When you feel the sensation of anger, soften the edges and peek underneath the anger noticing there are probably thousands of moments of confusion, fear, pain and doubt under there. Breathe into the sensation of anger feeling it as simply energy in your body. Breathe through it and with it. Watch how it will begin to dissipate simply by being observed with breath and softness.
  7. If someone is harsh with you, attacks you verbally or lashes out, take a moment to sit back and breathe and remember they also have pain, confusion, fear and doubt under the emotion from which they are speaking. Soften your heart toward them knowing this. Then, with a soft, clear voice make a request, “I must ask that you please not speak to me so harshly. I am sorry for what you are feeling and I will help if I can.”
  8. Be like water. Take the shape of whatever container you find yourself. Flow around obstacles. Be softly persistent. Be capable of changing shape and form as needed to adapt to the environment. Be fluid in all things for here is your greatest strength.
  9. Practice softening the muscles around your eyes and jaw regularly. Also, practice softening your belly throughout the day. Drop your shoulders down and away from your ears and notice when your hands are gripping the steering wheel or the pen or the phone. Soften.
  10. Take pause. Learn to wait and not react and jump to respond to what others do and say or to whatever impulsive thought may tempt you. Cultivate an ability to shift into neutral and observe long pauses before taking action.

A steady, dedicated practice of observing the power of soft will improve your relationships and your life. The word power is often confused for hard-hitting, fast-moving, action-oriented behavior. On the contrary, soft-touching, slow-moving, being-oriented behavior with fluidity, flexibility and patience allows for longer lasting joy and peace in life.

One Mindful Breath Helps With Anxiety

One Mindful Breath Helps With Anxiety

Yes. You read that right. Today I am going to teach you how ONE mindful breath can help alleviate your anxiety.

After 20+ years as a practitioner and teacher of mindfulness and meditation I would like to offer you the powerful tool I teach my clients of all ages in assisting with getting relief from the grip of anxiety.

Without going into all of the research and background of why this works, I will mention that recent empirical studies have shown that the practice mindfulness-meditation can reduce the activity in the brain related to stress-response and increase growth in other areas of the brain related to emotion regulation.

Before you balk, thinking you can’t possibly sit still to meditate I want to reassure you that there is a very easy and brief practice you can employ anywhere, anytime that can help you deal with stressful situations. And it only requires ONE mindful breath.

When you find yourself experiencing a swell of anxiety, sometimes all you need is to interrupt this experience by physically and mentally coming into the present moment with 100% attention. This bubble of extreme awareness created with one full, deep, long breath gives you the opportunity to ground and center your entire being and alleviate the spin-out of anxiety.

Here’s how it works:

1. Close your eyes and breathe in deep, long and full. . . and out.

Take a slow breath in to a count of 7, filling your lungs from the bottom all the way to your collar bone. Inhale into your lower abdomen and then feel your middle belly, chest and upper chest fill with air.

This immediately makes connection between mind and body.  You can immediately feel a disconnect from the loop of stress with just this.

HOLD the breath in for a count of 7 following the guidance of #2 below all the while.

SLOWLY release the breath to the count of 7 as if blowing through a straw.

HOLD the breath out for a count of 7.

Relax your breath to natural breath…

2. As you are breathing, focus on your bodily sensations right in this moment and where you are.

Turn your focus to the physical sensations of your body. Notice tightness, twinges, tingles, temperature. Notice the sensation of your shirt tag on your neck, the feeling of the cushion under you and behind you.  Try not to evaluate these sensations as “good” or “bad,” rather just notice the sensation itself.

If you can just hang out with these bodily sensations and just observe them, rather than allowing anxiety thinking to pull you away, you will be able to allow the energy of anxiety to move through you rather than spin you out.

3. Return to a natural breath and bring full attention to your natural breath.

Focus on the sensation of air coming in and out of your nostrils as you breathe. With soft curiosity, observe the feeling right at the tip of your nose. This keeps you in present moment as you stay focused. Here and now.

When observing the natural breath, there’s no need to deepen or slow your breath at all as we did in step 1. Just allow your body to breathe as it naturally will. You are now no longer the breather rather the observer of the breath.

4. Open your eyes and slowly move back into life.

After taking this ONE mindful breath, it is important to re-enter your tasks and interactions with this same mindfulness. Go slowly.

Open your eyes slowly. Notice your feet on the ground. Try to sustain this calmer, more grounded sensation. Be careful not to rush back into activity.

You can use the ONE mindful breath anywere, anytime because it is so brief and subtle.

5. Practice with regularity.

It is a practice that can be repeated throughout your day. You might practice it at the top of every hour or every time you hear a phone ring or any time.

My clients experience immediate relief doing this practice and you can too. If you feel you need some personalized coaching or instruction on facing and working with anxiety please contact me personally and I’ll be happy to assist you.