Archive for November, 2010

Omega Institute of Holistic Studies

One day my mom got a catalog in the mail from Omega Institute. This was the only issue she ever received and we have no idea how she ended up on the mailing list. She showed it to me after she flipped though it and noticed that my favorite folk singer Arlo Guthrie was running a writing workshop. My heart skipped. She also showed me the page where it said they hire people to work at the institute. Working there meant you got a discount on one workshop.

A few months later I was hired and packed, had saved money for a plane ticket to New York, and was on my way to go work thirty-hours a week and live in a tent in the woods. Omega is a heavenly retreat center with everything you could imagine – fake sand next to a lake you can swim in, a spa, library, multiple gardens to walk in, meditation areas, vegetarian food, endless holistic workshops, yoga to the max, and much-much more.

Living in a tent was an experience. I was a hike away from a bathroom. I had a co-ed shower with no curtain. Working in the kitchen and housekeeping were hard work. I had to mop vast floors and serve food to hundreds of people at once. However, it was all I could eat, and when I wasn’t sweating in the kitchen I was walking around in paradise. Amazing spiritual speakers from all places come to Omega and help to make it a magical place. I could have never afforded to attend Omega, but my motivation to get there was strong enough that I found another way in. I ended up encountering two famous people. I had a strange conversation with the director of the movie Amélie, and ‘I spied with my little eye’ the character Janice from the television show Friends. I also got to meet Alex Grey who is an amazing artist and does a lot of artwork for the band Tool.

Hard work pays off. I got to meet Arlo Gurthrie, confess my undying love to him and even get a hug. The workshop was dry because Robert Bly was there and I’m not a huge fan. They were talking about how to put poetry into music. I wanted to say… “well, Bob Dylan and Hip-hop have already been there, done that”, but being one of the only females in the workshop, it was hard to get a word in.  But I had followed my heart and dream and managed to get to New York. The whole time I sat five feet away from Arlo. My mission was accomplished.

I wanted to share with you a few photos from my trip to New York because it was a beautiful place that meant a lot. After three hot summer months in a tent I was a different person. Just thinking about the trip makes me insanely nostalgic. The point of this blog is a cheesy one about following your dreams. Sometimes you have to take a chance. This chance brought clarity to my life. It can be hard to take chances when you are tied down to emotion, physical stuff, a career. Still, there are smaller ways to make changes. It’s good to keep your eye out for the possibility of who knows what.

California Christmas Inferno – What is a holiday?

My ex-boyfriend’s parents were multi-millionaires. The reason I mention this is because it was my ‘class issue’ holiday.  They disliked my dating their son Zach. I usually get along with just about everyone. This whole holiday shocked me to the core. There was no welcome mat. They were socially forced to involve me in their festivities (Christmas dinner, gift opening, and even family photos).

I was in an episode of the twilight zone. Zach and I went to pick up the homemade holiday dinner. This meal was not made at home. It was made by a family business that makes Christmas dinners every year for people who can afford it. Seeing as I was in new territory I peeked over the counter at the check. It was five hundred dollars. I can’t describe the feeling I had at that moment. Seeing as Zach’s mom doesn’t cook this was their tradition. It was perfect. The food was a complete meal, but lacked heart.

The gift opening was embarrassing because my gifts for Zach (even the handmade one) were upstaged and looked at awkwardly by his parents. It is difficult to shop for someone who has everything. I was blessed with the gift of a romantic engraved ipod.

Everything was perfect, expensive, immaculate and filled with disappointment. The underlining factor was that the parents were disappointed that I existed, sad that their kids were not following in their footsteps. Zach took the role of the whiney kid. I’ve never seen an adult go so quickly from normal adult to childhood regression. They didn’t drink, so everyone was over-eating to compensate for the lack of conversation. I felt uncomfortable through the whole visit.

There is nothing wrong with having money. And every family has their own personal dysfunction. There is a positive spin to this. Maybe I’m trying to talk more about ‘what not to do’. I want to talk about finding the heart of the holiday. You can follow a rulebook or take things as they come.

I ask the question ‘what is a holiday?’ I’m not even sure. It could be family, food, consumerism, the showing of love, festive feelings, trying to reenact our childhood, trying to give our children something to remember. In my last story-blog Christmas, it was about the food, drinking and fighting. That was the normal they were happy with. For Zach’s family it was about covering up what each person was really thinking, and expressing things in passive aggressive ways. For me, I think a holiday is about cookies and lights, and maybe a little reenacting of my childhood. I don’t know the answer to this question. I’m sure it’s different for each person.

Please comment and let me know what a holiday is or means to you.

– Thank you

What to Think About – Office Cleaning

Peter Piper picked a peck of people paper problems. It is that simple. We have a fear of missing out. Throwing away that one article we had saved for seven years for a now forgotten reason.

I had a conversation with my friend about cookbooks. Cookbooks can be amazing and full of great recipes, but in a crunch (and I’m almost always in a crunch with cooking) I run to google.com and quickly find my recipe or answer. Not to say that we shouldn’t have cookbooks, but we need to understand that reading something once might be good enough. Paper might seem harmless and valuable, but the value of a stress free life is invaluable.

If you have the paper in a box and have forgotten about it for over six months, then it’s probably clutter. If you love it and need it then scrap book it, laminate it, have it visible and clean. If it’s not quickly accessible then it becomes clutter.

If you don’t love it dearly or actually need it, then it becomes time to give it away! Recycle, or donate it. I think Goodwill is an amazing resource for letting things go. One easy way to have clean space it to get rid of stuff you don’t actually want. We tend to hang on to things we don’t want without even thinking about it. When cleaning an office, the first step would be to take out things that don’t belong or are not needed. Make it your creative space.

One of the main problems is finding efficient ways to store or file paper. An office will always feel cluttered if we have piles of paper. It is important to have some sort of system. There is not one right way of doing things. It’s about finding the organizational method that works for you. Don’t just go to an office store and buy a bunch of plastic. Try to be creative first, and then get what you need. Often the plastic containers we buy to organize our clutter become clutter themselves; it’s an evil cycle.

Make sure you feel comfortable in your space. Have pictures you love and a really comfy chair. If your office becomes a place you want to avoid there will be no movement. Without movement clutter gathers. This is how important documents get lost. Keep your mail in one spot. Mail can be a trouble area for people. If you are going to stay caught up on one thing you might want to make it the mail.

These are just tips. I would love to answer more questions or go into most detail. I’m afraid of I make this much longer it will get dull, so I’m going to keep it crispy. But don’t worry, there is so much more to come. And please email me with questions.

Clutter Shopping & Love VS Primal Instinct

An old friend who was medicated on high levels of estrogen told me “I want to find a man who can kill deer and feed my children”. This line has always stuck in my head. It brings up the question for me. How many decisions are made from hormones and instinct?

How much are humans shaped by our current society and how much is our personality hardwired or maybe historically build into our system?

Call me superstitious but I believe if you want a partner in your life you should clean out half of your closet even if you haven’t even met them yet. You are making space for life instead of living in the potential. I love nothing more than walking into a clean room with a flower on the table, a clean kitchen counter, and no piles of paperwork in sight. This becomes difficult if we keep hunting and gathering.

We go into Target with an intention such as toilet paper. However there are lots of shinny things at Target. They have sales and bargain deals. I personally am a sucker for dollar bins. It’s hard to leave without having done one run around the whole store. We don’t even know what we are hunting for, but we find it.

So we are shopping hunters. We crave the moment we go home and open the box, take things out of the bag, rip off the plastic wrap. Then we have a mess (packaging to throw away or recycle) and merchandise that has turned into space consuming joy. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want you to burn your TV and join a commune. We do need to shop. We do need toilet paper. I see nothing wrong with wanting a Playstation. It’s about how every time we go out we tend to end up with extras things, things that turn into clutter.

Lets talk more about how much fun it is to put on brand-new make-up, socks, or to open a Nintendo DS box with the fresh smell of plastic and cardboard. We find shopping relaxing, healing, and it’s even a sport. We often buy stuff thinking about the possibilities it might bring to our life. The problem is that we might already have enough socks, but just like that there is a sale – we don’t always need more.

Overall it’s about training ourselves to get what we need, maybe indulge, but don’t go the extra shopping mile. Before you get to the checkout line really take a good look at your basket and maybe even take a few things out. When you get home you will still feel satisfied.

Light

When we walk into our home after a long day of work we should never have to feel depressed or overwhelmed. I’m not going to go over the reasons we sometimes feel this way. I want to say something about light, and the ultimate outcome of bringing light into our homes. Look at this picture and please comment about how it makes you feel or what you see in it.

This picture is cluttered but at the same time looks clean and is full of light. When I look at it I think ‘I want to walk down that street’. It’s nice to feel that way at home. The feeling of walking in the door and feeling comfortable or comforted.

The reason I like this picture is because of the energy and light I see in it. I also feel movement when I look at it. Making a home beautiful is one thing, making it functional, with beautiful movement would be ultimate.

What is the movement like in your home?

How is the light in your home?

Is your home clean enough that you can feel uplifted when you walk in the door?

If these areas need improvement this is a good place to start. For me living in Washington it’s a battle to have the right kind of light that makes a home feel warm and functional. However there is hope and many different things one can do to improve their light and warmth.

When I clutter clear I also house clean on a deep level. The two things together make for the most efficient path to long-term success.

Please let me know what you think!