The Christmas season is here and I am wondering how the world out there is experiencing it. Mine was rather uneventful and very laid back, because I am not going into the season with expectations. I believe that this is just a big pull into consummation. The true message has been forgotten. Our kids are past the believe that Santa Claus is real. We do enjoy decorating the Christmas tree, savoring the lights and watching a fire crackling in the fireplace. Isn’t this enough? By the way, wouldn’t it make more sense if people in the southern part of the equator celebrated in June, when it is their winter, to live up the lights on a chilly day? Even so I am far away I feel this year for the people in Sydney, Australia, having to deal with massive fires due to global warming. Of course, celebrating their Christmas in June would not solve the problem, but how dramatically topical is the message that lies within Christmas in times of climate destruction and a renewed nuclear arms race as well as an inhumane gap between the poor and the rich.
I am not going deeply into religion, but Jesus was an itinerant preacher, gifted provocateur and probably the most important person of all time with a far reaching message. None of the written stories, man made churches and built crosses are proof that there is a heaven and a god. He did not speak Greek, the language from which all the Bibles in the world were translated, he spoke Aramaic. That is why every second word of Jesus in our books are incorrectly translated or incomprehensible. The outrageous message of Aramaic Jesus 2000 years ago is simple: “Blessed are the peacemakers”, “Blessed are those who fight for justice”, “Blessed are those who practice tolerance”. When this gifted provocateur announced: “I will do everything new”, the representatives of the old were not exactly delighted. This man had to be eliminated. Can you imagine how difficult he would fare today in the Vatican. He would be the eternal troublemaker he was back then, fighting for change in the world, women rights, female popes, refuge, supporting the LGBTQ community, celebrating diversity and reveal misleading people like Trump…
Judaism at the time was a legal religion with over 600 complicated regulations – similar to today’s canon law: a super-morality that the Jew Jesus rejected. The Nazarene knew only one real religion: a good human heart. Today many Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, but also atheistic and agnostic fully agree with this religion of Jesus. And so does the Dalai Lama. Jesus is not the founder of a new religion, he is the conqueror of all classic religious boundaries. In the Dalai Lama this means: “Ethics is more important than religion.”
So simple: Life is sacred, on earth we are one humanity under one sun! Why have a huge gap between what we know is right and then not doing it? If we have not changed our outlook it is time to do so and act on life, love, peace, justice and global warming!
Why am I making this a subject on my blog? Not because I am a religious believer, rather as a supporter of an important message. Practicing a simpler life will contribute to a healthier being, more time and care of the environment.
A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death. – Albert Einstein
I am currently visiting Germany, Finnland and Estonia, keeping my eyes open for decluttering ideas and interacting with family, friends and strangers in life altering subjects and thoughts on happiness. I am always searching for different views and approaches; traveling and engaging with new cultures opens doors… Stories are told and black and white views develop color. New possibilities become alive and different opportunities open.
Traveling with a receptive mind is always good. On this trip I have noticed that pretty much all of us are longing for a simpler life, BUT with too many construction areas it is difficult to finish them, because we are not focused and are to distracted. When I say “construction areas” I am referring to ideas and jobs we have started or want to start, but so to say can’t see the tree in the forest and never finish them…
What is your agenda? Are you realistic in what you want to accomplish and are you clear about it? Can you be still? Can you be quiet? Can you do nothing? The best ideas come and things happen with a quiet mind. Is it possible for you to focus on just one thing? Some things are long term projects, others take only a short moment. Try to be in the present.
Do you need stimulants, like caffeine, sugar, alcohol or nicotine to keep going? Or are you seeking methods to calm you down, like sleeping pills or other drugs? Maybe you keep yourself distracted with social media, unnecessary work and constant conversations?
None of the above is helpful and you should take care of yourself. Often we take care of things that are not as important and too many times we give advice to others without following through ourselves. Fact is: At lot of things are easier said than done. Make sure you are not a hypocrite!
So what has focusing on one thing to do with declutterring? Simply put, you get things done. I meet people with great ideas but their lives are to full and this keeps them from acting on their ideas and they get very little done and further away from their goal of simplifying. Often their mind is going a 100 miles per hour and they talk about one idea while already coming up with the next. Listening to them is like riding a roller coaster, eventually you have to get off.
A good organizer can help you focus on just one thing and get it done. Eventually you will recover from the hamster wheel and pick your battles according to your needs.
I like teaching my clients to go by the three pillars that seem to create harmony and balance: Enough sleep, exercise and healthy food!
By the way, many of my customers will try to convince me that they already go by these three pillars. Please don’t. I am not judging anybody, because who am I to do so? I am here to help. Fact is, if you are experiencing a chaotic life style there is something wrong with the framework of your basic needs.
Maybe you can take a longer vacation or just a weekend or a couple of hours off. A scenic change helps to distance yourself from your own thoughts. I am offering for that particular reason time for Space Travel, weekend retreats as well as short workshops. With a clear and open mind you get the chance to slow down and find what’s important to you. With that you can take the first step. The second will follow and soon you are on a new path.
The massage table is also a great place for many to let go. As a certified TouchLife massage practitioner, I also recommend and provide relaxing body work sessions. Do not forget to pamper yourself!
The life you have lived so far does not need to be the only life you have – FRITZ Space Maker
One of my friends tells me often that you can’t argue with someone who doesn’t understand the subject. It seems to me a bit to simple, like putting your foot down and saying “I am right and you are wrong” because I do not agree. It may be correct for a math problem, but certainly not when different people with their experiences and believes come together.
When you look up the word am·bi·gu·i·ty you get the answer: the quality of being open to more than one interpretation. Clearly, it is the mind alone that defines the experience. One person can look at one thing and see it in one way and another person can look at that exact same thing and see and experience it in an entirely different way- one person seeing the positive and one seeing the negative in it. Likewise, on one day we might feel different from the next. Our thoughts and emotions might be completely unalike from the day before, so we experience the day in another way. That means that it matters how we relate to our thoughts. That does not mean we always like what goes on around us; I think this will never be the case. What we can do is stop blaming and start changing our perception throughout. When we change the perception and start looking inward we can create a space of calm and clarity and therefor can make skillful actions.
What does ambiguity have to do with decluttering? I think it is the base between my client and me. I need to be open to their directions, dreams and goals. It is a balance, a give and let go, and my customers also have to be open to various scenarios if they want to change their chaos and find a simpler way of living. It is the individual, that is letting me do everything without working on their root problem, that will not achieve what he or she is longing for.
If you would like to change the situation you are in for the better, than it is easiest done with very little. Less clutter eliminates unnecessary responsibilities and leads to more time and eventually a clear focus. Say “no” to things that do not serve you, distance yourself from people and situations that are not good for you.
The end result of ambiguity is a whole new perspective maybe even a new life. Some end up moving to a different city, maybe even country. Some change their relationships or workplace- or both, others their occupation and some go back to school to learn something completely new. Others stay right where they are and just change their viewpoint. There are so many different ways of living your life, that is right for you and many opportunities that open up once you are available to more than one interpretation. I am thinking about ideas like moving to the country or the city, working and earning more or less, smaller or bigger home, houseboat, trailer or tiny house- just becoming involved in who you are. Once you start looking around you will meet many that have done exactly that and they are not crazy, they just figured out that life is ambiguous!
Ambiguity is difficult because you think you know you are right, right? – FRITZ Space Maker
My Parents House is a discussion workshop that I included recently to my declutter business. My goal is to support, understand, share ideas and experiences, to help our parents live and relax into old age. It is often said that you can’t replant an old tree; well, I think it is possible and sometimes there is no choice. We need to be gentle and bring some of the old soil along and yes, there is a wonderful possibility that it will work. We should not underestimate the elder and their capabilities to learn and continue. Instead we should help them to let go of things that do not serve them and restart into a simple and beautiful new life.
Of course I am thinking about my own parents here. My father died a few years back and my mother is starting to struggle with age related issues. She is in her eighties and partnered up with a nice man her age. Running her household, a large flower- as well as a vegetable garden is making her happy, but at the same time her body is aching from the work.
She should let me help her find a gardener and a cleaning lady, just to reduce her workload. She refuses to take my financial support and rather keeps struggling until the day comes and she can’t do it any longer. Then we all have to act fast and I am not sure if that can be called a gentle replanting…
In the meantime, no one talks about it. My mother holds on to the idea that it will all continue as it is and that she will have a sudden death at home. My sister has stopped communicating with me a long time ago, and while I have lived on another continent, thousands of miles away, she has made sure that she has the full authority to act alone on my mothers behalf. Her intents are not the same as mine. My mother is not innocent on this decision and not necessarily the mother she wants to be, but she is acting in fear of being not taken care of, which is really understandable. The determination to exclude me, split the family even further and came with whole load of other problems. Now that I am moving back home I am confronted with a broken family.
I guess there are many broken families and this makes it even harder to move on. In our case there are very many unspoken problems and a big lack of honesty and even bigger egos. My mother has violent outbreaks of anger and used to hit us. I know that my older sister had a lot more of this when she was little. My mother said that my sister was a very difficult child, not like me- not a nice thing to say, nor is it an excuse. At some point my sister was taken away to a therapy place, not exactly sure what for and why; nobody really talks about it and it was before I was born, but apparently it was very painful for my sister. After I was born my sister always disliked me, maybe she felt that I had it easier- who knows, she has never told me. Everybody is in denial. Could be that I had it more trouble-free, but my mother has physically hurt me as well and put great fear in me. Till this day she makes it out to be just an anger attack and that she did not mean it. I believe her and I do understand that she had a painful time growing up, with an abusive father that was numbing his problems with alcohol. She had no mother, only five older siblings and all this during the war, with a great amount of fear herself and a hungry belly and not much of anything else. Therefor I have not much to complain about, because luckily everything worked out for me and others are off much worse. On the same page I had to make sure that this does not repeat into my life…
My sister married her first love and moved out very early and had children. It turned into four kids from three different men. All these years were a disaster, and her first husband tried to have sex with me. He started to touch me in places I did not want to be touched, when I was just twelve years old. Again, this was not handled at all. I was told by my sister that it was my own fault. My father, mother and sister just ignored it. The drama in the family continues when one of my nieces finds out that her father is not her biological father. Just another story that was hoped to be ignored forever. I received the blame for unraveling the secret, but it was not me. After that I was blamed for telling my niece who her father is, after she asked me. By then she was 20 years old, shocked- learning that she was an unwanted baby that was tried to be aborted. You know, when you have family secrets and they are not spoken about, they are still there and felt on a different level. No matter how painful they are, the pain stays and grows if not addressed and the worst: You are not suppose to talk about it. Shortly after this my father past away, the whole family fell apart. Physical and sexual abuse, a niece born out of wedlock, are still kept as a secret. Even so we know what is going on within the family, it is made out to be that it is nobody else’s business and if I would not bring it up, it would be long forgotten and healed. Truth is, if the family would stop pretending that we are the perfect family and deal with it, it would heal! Depression and suicide run in my sisters first husband’s family and are ignored. We tend to take a disease that is not tangible not as serious, and mental pain is often seen as a weakness.
You should always try as a parent to never let this happen to your family; it takes a lot of clarity, honesty, awareness, strength and a good heart. This much said, it is clear how difficult it may be to change for the better and make that last move.
I can’t fix this for my mother. She is convinced that she has done nothing wrong. The fact alone to blame others, not excepting responsibility and not actively working on fixing the problem, will never restore this family. My mother and sister are basing the future on ignorance. Ignorance is never an answer in the long run – not for my mother, my family, myself nor for anyone else. Her hope for a peaceful death and no changes is wishful, but may come differently. Who knows? Knowing all this, do not wait until it is too late to think about what you want when you are older and do not wait to work through family issues until you are on your death bed.
In the perfect situation, it should be a family act of participation to help the parent move on. Besides finding the right living set up and making it to a new home, the family should pull on the same string to make it happen, without being pushy or harsh- because change sometimes needs a bit time to be digested. Grandchildren and great grandchildren should be involved and learn that getting old and dying is part of life. Your parents home should be respectfully emptied and not rushed through. Take only what is loved and needed. Sell or give away what could get a second chance. Up-cycle, recycle and throw away what needs to go.
Last, do not forget your mother or fathers passions and hobbies and teach them something new! A wonderful example is one of my neighbors, who moved to be closer to her daughter. The whole family was involved to help her settle into her new, beautiful, but simple home and go through her belongings in the old house. She learned how to use the cooking sites on the internet and cooks fabulous meals and is now actively involved helping in the kitchen, in a refugee camp. The journey is the destination!
After years of hard work and for the longest time not even understanding what to and why I was reacting in a certain way, my own picture is finally coming together. I am always determined to figure things outs with my children and husband. If I catch myself being false or ignorant, all kinds of alarm bells are going off in my head and I am extra careful to do the right thing and to not fall into the foot steps of my parents. I have forgiven my mother, but will never let her hurt me again. My door is always open for my sister and I feel her frustration. I am sad that I did not have that perfect family and I often imagine how different it could have been, but it is what it is and it could be a lot worse. I am trying to give my children the best possible life and I know now, how challenging motherhood can be. I moved out from home when I was 19 years old and I did not start my own family until I was much older. I always had an interest in relationships that were very different from my family at home. Maybe that is the reason why I married a foreigner and moved often and far away. Now I can return home, replanting myself with quite a few new blossoms!
Even so, I come with a personal story, just like everybody else, I believe that all of us can contribute to my workshops when it is time to reorganize your parents house and life, or your own! The topic of getting older and still enjoying a life that is right for you should not be left unplanned!
I have reached an age where if someone tells me to wear socks, I don’t have to – Albert Einstein
It is somewhat easy for me to help my clients with organizing their homes or work spaces. Often it does not last and they build up their chaos very quickly because their mind is not uncluttered. In my experience it is the old habits, that return without mercy and of course without clear intentions and a calm mind, there is little chance to conquer them. I am not suggesting that people with a chaotic lifestyle have cluttered minds, as a matter of fact I have seen the opposite. Many of us are very happy and successful with a crowded desk, a messy home and the habit of being late.
I, for example had to learn how to let some things sit and am very proud of myself, because I used to be a control freak that needed it spotless in order to feel right. Others collect and can’t let go in order to feel safe. Some of us have completely lost their senses and are unaware of their surroundings. We tend to hoover in the past, going over the same thoughts again and again; or we are pondering the future, planning, imagining, hoping… We should be here, taking the moment as it is, at least equally. What else can you do to give your brain a rest?
There are many different categories of cluttered minds and really, everybody benefits from the practice of awareness. Some are overwhelmed by their chaos and many are longing for less. Most of my clients need to realize that while reorganizing their homes, in order to find lasting peace and simplicity they need to work especially on decluttering their minds..
It is often easier said than done, or lets put it this way, we want fast results with minimal effort, but this is not possible. What we can do, is take it step by step, room by room, day by day. By the way, clearing a space does give you immediate results and you will encounter great satisfaction- it will just fade without the right mindset! So dwell on the satisfaction and progress that is made everyday, instead of the negative, and use that momentum to take the next step. Out of my own experience, practicing awareness and decluttering has quite the positive snowball effect and once you get going it gets bigger and better!
The thing is, that nobody can do it for you and you can’t do it for anybody. Which means I can help my clients with guidance, ideas and a hand, but they are responsible for the changes. Luckily, since everybody has to create their own lives, that means that there are many different ways of doing so! I believe that everybody has their own story and it is alright to find your own way. Therefor everybody needs to experiment and search out what is good for them and the only way you can truly do this is by practicing awareness.
I use different approaches in my everyday practice of awareness and I give my clients the following three pillars as a foundation: Enough sleep, healthy food and daily exercise. You can practice awareness throughout the day, sitting still in meditation may be one way to start the day but it is not the only. A good friend of mine laughs at me when I talk about yoga and Headspace, a meditation app that I am using, and he would refuse to try. He does not realize that when he makes music, sings and writes songs that he is fully in the present, performing awareness! Try to find your way of exercising being in the moment. On my website I offer workshops and one is precisely on “Meeting the Present”. Maybe you want to read up on it, because for some of us it helps to feel the “present” in order to recall it again.
Enjoy your practice!
From a small seed a mighty trunk may grow– Aeschylus