2014 things

2014 things

So it’s the last day of 2014 and I spent a big chunk of today reflecting on the past year and journalling in my Leonie Dawson 2015 workbook.

It’s certainly been an enormous year for me, particularly these past four months. To be honest, I feel like I need a couple more days of this holiday break to properly reflect on the year – and then I’ll be able to write some sort of wrap up. I know it will be a few days late, but I’m sure you won’t mind.

Today however, I would like to share with you one very awesome goal that I totally smashed out of the park this year.

My “Declutter 2014 things from my home in 2014” challenge.

Yes – 2014 things! At the start of 2014 I was faced with a house full of “stuff” and I decided I needed to take drastic action.

Now, let me assure you that my home wasn’t in Hoarders territory on January 1 this year. It was perfectly respectable. But it was definitely cluttered! After moving home from interstate six months earlier we had tried to cram everything from our 4 bedroom, 2 living area, 2 bathroom Queensland home into our 3 bedroom, one living, one bathroom SA home. With not much success!

We also had a preschooler and a baby – and any parent knows just how much “stuff” you accumulate for the little ones in those early years.

I had this icky feeling that I was being smothered by all this stuff (figuratively, not literally). It was creating some nasty Chi in my life and I wasn’t at all happy with my surroundings. I was also inspired by the gorgeous Denise Duffield-Thomas, who talks a lot about de-cluttering in order to create abundance and wealth. And who doesn’t want more of that!

So I decided enough was enough and because it was the start of 2014 and New Years Resolution time, I set myself the goal to de-clutter 2014 things during the year.

And that’s exactly what I did – my tally of “things” hit 2055 on Monday December 29, when I managed to declutter the girls toy boxes at 3am in the morning, while watching over a poorly toddler snoozing in front of a Minnie Mouse DVD after being a bit spewy earlier that night. True story. #mumsglamorouslife

So what did I de-clutter? Everything!

By far the biggest clutter-culprit was clothing – seriously around 500-600 pieces of clothing. WHAT THE ACTUAL EFF!!! How on earth did I end up with 600 unwanted pieces of clothing? Firstly, our two young girls had sooooooooo many clothes. My youngest moved from a size 0 to a size 2 this year, so we had everything from 00-1 to get rid of. Plus we had been fortunate enough to receive lots of hand-me-downs from people, so we had plenty to get rid of. Also, I was completely ruthless with my and my husband’s wardrobes and got rid of anything that didn’t fit, didn’t suit us, didn’t look nice, was rarely worn, was being kept in the hope of “fitting into again one day”. It’s amazing how many clothes we had that we simply didn’t wear. nb. This tally also includes pairs of shoes, and I counted all socks and shoes individually – so maybe the final number wasn’t really that bad… Of course, most of it went to Vinnies.

Screenshot 2014-12-31 22.26.17

I don’t really want to think about how many Vinnies bins I filled with my 2014 things.

 

The girls "helped" declutter their shoe drawers.

The girls “helped” declutter their shoe drawers.

There was also lots of toys. So many toys! Seriously my girls simply had so many toys that they didn’t even KNOW what they had. We had a couple of plastic containers of toys stored in the garage that hadn’t been looked at in months. I decluttered most of the toys one long Friday night in the middle of the year when the rest of the family were away. I literally scoured the house for every single toy we had and piled them all up on the living room floor. This was what THAT looked like…. A sea of pink plastic….

Toys. So many toys.

Toys. So many toys.

Then I worked through them – deciding what to keep, what to bin and what to give away. The vast majority went to local SA Charity, Backpacks for Kids. I actually found this task really hard, as most of the toys had been given as gifts to my girls from friends and family. I felt quite bad for decluttering these – like I should hold onto them out of respect for those people, even though my girls didn’t like, didn’t need, or didn’t play with them. The best way for me to deal with that emotionally was to know they were being sent on to other children who were desperately in need and would appreciate them so much more than mine.

What else was there? Books, magazines, paperwork, old business cards, plastic knives and spoons, odd and mismatched kitchenware and plastic containers, pens, broken crayons, used batteries, old toiletries and makeup, craft and sewing supplies, knick knacks, bric-a-brac, old towels and linen. Stuff. Stuff. Stuff. Stuff. Stuff. By far, most of it was recycled, sold or passed onto other people or charity organisations. There wasn’t much that was tossed at all. Thankfully. Re-use, re-purpose, re-gift, re-cycle and all that.

Screenshot 2014-12-31 22.28.08Screenshot 2014-12-31 22.27.42

So what have I learned? That I really don’t need that much stuff. That “stuff” doesn’t make me happy. That I now value quality over quantity. That I value presence over presents. That more stuff makes my kids less grateful and less imaginative. That it feels good to let go of the past. That it feels good to know others will make use of things that would otherwise sit at the back of cupboards or the bottom of drawers.

Most importantly – I learned that I really value a clean, light, uncluttered home. I feel more comfortable. I work better. I’m more relaxed.

I need my spaces to be light, bright and airy. Free from clutter and mess and stuff.

The older I get the more drawn I am to Eastern principles such as Chi and Feng Shui – perhaps it’s because I’m better at getting inside my own head these days. But it feels good to be more in control of my environment, because it’s a big part of being in control of my life.

So what about 2015? Well I’m not about to declutter another 2015 things – I’m not sure I have that much stuff left! So my goal for this coming year is to really CREATE my home. Sure, it’s already a physical structure – but thus far I haven’t really created it as our HOME. We moved back in here 18 months ago, and have been somewhat living in limbo. I avoided hanging pictures because I wanted to paint first, we haven’t planted gardens because we’ve had limited time, we haven’t replaced the carpets because we haven’t had the budget. We still have our hodge-podge furniture, a cobbled collection of hand-me-downs and Ikea flat-packs. Nothing really matches and there’s no discernable style. There’s not much in our home that tells the story of US, our family, me.

So that’s my plan for 2015. To turn my house into my home. To create our sanctuary. To make it our happy place. Wish me luck!

Is your clutter making you sick?

Is your clutter making you sick?

Don’t think clutter impacts on your wellbeing? Think again!

I’m sure we’ve all watched those episodes of Hoarders and thought to ourselves – “How can people live like that?” Piles of decades old newspapers lining the hallways, stuffed toys stuffing every single closet, rusty saucepans spilling out of kitchen drawers. Ugh – it sends most of us non-hoarders into a tailspin! Often in these shows, there’s some sort of documented psychological issue that precipitated the hoarding – the compulsive need for “things” often comes from a place of deep unhappiness, anxiety or  trauma. It really is quite a serious condition, and if you, or someone you know fits this category, I’d highly suggest looking for some professional assistance to help you work through it.

But I’m not talking about that level of clutter today. What I want to talk about is our everyday, run of the mill clutter. The type of clutter that the vast majority of us DO have in our homes, and which doesn’t come from a place of mental distress. It just comes from a busy life, full of stuff and things, and potentially with limited amounts of time and space.

Overflowing wardrobes, toys sprawled across every single room in the house, bathroom cabinets teeming with expired beauty products, cans of corn with expiry dates of October 2013. You get the idea. Most of us have clutter. And most of us just put up with it, perhaps telling ourselves that we’ll get around to clearing it out “someday”. Right?

Apart from the mental health aspects, the thing that always strikes me about the people on those Hoarders-type shows is how physically unwell they generally always are. They often complain of having multiple health conditions, many of which disappear once they get on top of the cleaning, clutter and chaos.

As with pretty much everything in life this falls on a continuum. We don’t have to have floor-to-ceiling clutter to be affected by it. Even your average run of the mill clutter can have a negative impact on our wellbeing. All the more reason to make that “someday” today, and take action on clearing your home of the unnecessary “stuff”.

Here’s just a few ways clutter affects your physical health,

  • Increased respiratory stress – due to dust, allergens and airborne particles
  • Increase falls hazards – not to mention the intense pain of stepping on a stray Lego piece barefoot – youch!
  • Mould. This stuff is toxic. Don’t just think about the mould growing on your shower curtain. How about the mould you didn’t know was growing on your winter boots, or that suitcase you put away slightly damp last winter?

But it’s not just about physical wellbeing – it never is! We already know that our physical health and wellbeing is intrinsically linked to our emotional health – mind-body connection, right? So these physical health issues will certainly affect our emotional wellbeing.

But there’s also more direct correlations between clutter and emotional and social wellbeing.

  • Blocked chi – the ancient Eastern practice of Feng Shui sings the praises of clean, uncluttered open spaces. This is because clutter is thought to block the flow of “Chi” throughout a space. “Chi” is the life force, we want it to be able to move freely and swiftly for optimal health, we don’t want it to become stagnant or stuck. When Chi can’t move freely, our energy and stress levels can be negatively impacted. Not convinced? Close your eyes for a few seconds and imagine yourself walking into two rooms. The first, bright, breezy, airy, lots of natural light, plenty of wide open spaces. The second room, piled high with books, clothes, bags, shoes, too much furniture shoved into the room. Maybe you’ve already been in two rooms similar to this. Close your eyes and focus down into your body – in which room do you feel the most comfortable? The least stressed? The happiest and calmest? I know which one it is for me. In fact, I use de-cluttering as one of my stress management techniques. You know I’m getting stressed when you see me emptying my collection of Women’s Health magazines into the recycle bin!
  • Financial stress: Bills that get misfiled and forgotten so you attract late fees, food that gets wasted as it’s stuck at the back of a cluttered fridge. Having four almost identical black clutches because you can never find one as it’s stashed somewhere at the back of your wardrobe so you just buy a new one. Clutter costs us money, and that causes us stress.
  • Guilt – when faced with clutter in our homes, or our lives, many of us experience extreme guilt. “I really should sort that mess out”, “I really need to clean out that spare room”, “I really need to take those bags of old clothes to Vinnies”. We instinctively know that our clutter is detrimental to our health, so we feel guilty about it, which simply amplifies the negative emotions we’re already feeling.
  • Not to mention how clutter affects our ability to manifest the life of our dreams – it’s all about abundance and the law of attraction. This part is pretty new to me, but the total expert on it is Denise Duffield-Thomas from luckybitch.com , check out her website to see how clutter impacts on your lucky (or unlucky!) life. There’s also lots of correlations here to financial stress – just as I mentioned above!

The solution?

De-clutter!!

This is seriously one of my favourite things to do in the entire world. (I know, I’m strange – sorry!) But I simply love the feeling that comes with clearing a space, and feeling the fresh energy flowing through. I always feel calmer and more focused in a de-cluttered space, and I seriously struggle to focus in a cluttered, messy office. So yes, I’m struggling a bit now, as my office has gotten pretty disorganised towards the end of this year, due to a pretty hectic last few months! But don’t worry, I’ve already got a few days over the Christmas break set aside to declutter, clean and sort out my office!

In fact, I love de-cluttering so much that at the start of 2014 I set myself a New Years Resolution – to declutter 2014 items from my home! Sounds impossible? Nope, it’s not. In fact, I’m so, so close, to 2014 items. I’ll blog about it when I hit my target. (And no, I didn’t start with a Hoarders-style situation!)

My de-cluttered bookshelf.

My de-cluttered bookshelf.

But if you’re not a seasoned de-clutterer, don’t despair. There’s a million and one resources out there about de-cluttering so feel free to Google away and find one you like, but a couple of my favourites are listed below:

Katrina, the Organised Housewife – she runs a free year-long de-cluttering challenge, which is awesome and very simple to undertake.

Peter Walsh (from The Living Room tv show)

Denise Duffield-Thomas, of Lucky Bitch

(ps. No affiliate links here, I just love to share the people I think are great!)

So over to you? Are you a de-clutterer? Do you do a yearly de-clutter, or are you more of a de-clutter daily type of person? Or are you just drowning in a sea of kids toys, tupperware containers and “one day I’ll fit back into them” clothes? I’d love to hear your story – let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

Live your best (uncluttered) life.

Sarah xx

In praise of mentorship.

In praise of mentorship.

Do you have a mentor? What about a business advisor? Health coach? Life coach? Think you don’t need one?

That’s what I thought too. But I’d urge you to think again.

For the first 14 and a half of my 15 years as an Occupational Therapist I didn’t have a mentor. For most of that time I worked as the sole OT in rural locations, so I made do with remote supervision from higher level OTs several hundred kilometers away. It was a tough slog, especially in the early years, constantly trying to figure out on my own what and how I should be doing day to day. But really, I was doing “just fine”. I was getting good feedback from bosses and clients, and would always somehow stumble upon a solution or the exact resource I needed at the last minute. We OTs like to pride ourselves on our resourcefulness (rightly or wrongly!).

So mentorship was never something I considered.

I’ve always been a fiercely independent woman. Which is probably because, as the daughter of a fiercely independent single Mum, I grew up with the notion that it’s best to be capable and resourceful and not be reliant on anyone else. So I never sought out a mentor. “Pfft, I don’t need anyone to tell me what to do,” I told myself.

Until about six months ago. When I decided it was beyond time to open my own private practice. All of a sudden I had a ridiculously steep learning curve ahead of me. As fellow SASS sisters, I know you understand what I’m talking about! Running a business is a huge undertaking. There were so many things to be done and all of a sudden I wasn’t just an OT. I was also an accountant, marketing manager, administration officer, business planner, saleswoman and PR agent all rolled into one. I was also the mother of two little girls and wife to a husband I hardly had any time for anymore.

In short, I was swamped. I was trying to do it all myself with no support or guidance – except what I got from Mr Google.

So here I was, about to create an entire future around a business where I support and mentor women towards their health goals, when it hit me – like the proverbial tonne of bricks.

“Sarah – your new business is all about encouraging women to get professional support, advice and guidance – yet you seek none of this yourself!”

Whaaatt!

All of a sudden, it became crystal clear to me how much I wasn’t following my own advice. I didn’t know anything about running a business – it was ludicrous to try and do it on my own. That’s when I knew I needed to seek out professional business support.

Fast forward six months and I now have two clinical mentors, a business coach, an accountant, a graphic and web designer, 15 peer mentors from three in-person masterminds, dozens more from another online mastermind – and of course, the amazing Sass ladies.

It has made the world of difference – not just to my business, but to my entire life. Hand on heart, pinky swear.

I’ve learnt how to do the business stuff faster and smarter, what to prioritise, what to do myself and what to outsource. It means I don’t waste valuable hours on tasks I hate and/or simply can’t do in an appropriate amount of time (hello website development!). It has freed my time to provide more value to my clients, to create more programs, and most importantly, spend more quality time with my family.

I look back now on those 14 and a half years I worked without a mentor and wonder how much more I could have achieved if I’d have had the amount of guidance and support I have now. I’d probably have my own talk show.

So I urge you, whatever your big challenges are right now – whether it be starting a business, overhauling your health, overcoming emotional demons – to seek support. You don’t need to do it on your own. You don’t need to do the hard slog day in, day out, hoping to stumble on the right resource, like I did for so long. Reach out to someone who can guide the way for you – hire a health coach, a business coach, a personal trainer, whatever. If your budget doesn’t stretch that far, seek out free resources, start your own mastermind.

You won’t regret it. I know I haven’t.

Until next time – be well!

Cheers, Sarah

 

(ps. This post first appeared as a guest post over at the fabulous The Sass – a networking, co-working and support group for women in business. Check their website out here.)

My February intentions

Yowzer – we blinked, and now it’s February!

Surely that was the fastest January on record. Or was it just me?

Way back in December (the month before last, now) I decided as part of my 2014 goals I was going to set myself a series of mini month-long personal health challenges. I have since discovered my awesome running buddy is doing the same – so it’ll be interesting to see which challenge we each come up with each month.

For January, my challenge was to start a daily meditation practice. But I have to admit, it wasn’t quite as successful as I had hoped. I probably meditated about half the days of the month, which is still an improvement on zero days of meditation per month. But it wasn’t my goal to only meditate every second day.

What went wrong? Heaps of things really – teething babies, new jobs, start up business demands, blah, blah. But those are simply just excuses. What really went wrong was the fact I didn’t make my intentions public. I didn’t shout it out to the world. It happens so often – we set ourselves a goal – but we don’t actually tell anyone, or even write it down or say it out loud to ourself. So then, if we don’t follow through and the goal isn’t attained, it doesn’t really matter because we’ve got no-one to be accountable for it anyway. Right?

Not this month. Not for February. So in the spirit of FebFast, here’s my intention for this month.

I’m giving up alcohol and chocolate for the entire month. (Insert shocked gasp here!)

How on earth am I going to manage, you ask?

Well honestly, I’m fairly sure the alcohol is not going to be a problem. I didn’t drink at all for an 18 month period while I was pregnant and breastfeeding my little Mooch. In fact, it’s only been in the past three months, since she finally dropped her night feeds that I started having the occasional glass of wine with dinner. So why give it up then? On two occasions over the Christmas party period I had about three or four drinks – which is nothing in comparison to my olden days efforts! But on both occasions I woke up the next day with a shocker of a head cold, both lasting about a week. Initially I wrote them off as coincidence. (Silly me, we know there’s no coincidences in life, right?)

But then, after Australia Day last weekend, it happened again. Third time’s the charm. Fast forward seven days and I’m still recovering from that cold. So clearly alcohol is doing funky things to my immune system and it’s time to call it quits for a while.

And then – the chocolate! This one is going to be much harder to give up. I’ve never really considered myself a chocaholic sort of girl, though I do seriously love the stuff! But I’m quitting it this month because I can see that it does have some kind of hold on me. I have this little habit of “rewarding” myself with chocolate every time I do the groceries. Which I’m now realising really isn’t healthy. Even though I mostly stick to the good quality, dark chocolate. It’s still not cool to inhale half the block on the drive home from the supermarket.

So that habit is going too! Give me strength.

I’ll keep you posted through the month on how I’m doing. So far, I’ve managed to survive two whole days – go team!

How about you? What are you giving up for FebFast? What do you dare live without for the next 26 days?