If you could give the reader one good piece of advice, what would that be?
One of the big problems in our culture is that there is a lot more information to process; we have a lot of demands on our time; we do too much; we are stressed, overwhelmed, and disconnected.
If we took a moment to slow down, pay attention to the simple daily tasks that we do every day anyway (mostly on autopilot): like put the dishes away, round up the clothes off the floor, sweep the front steps, make the bed, move a pile – with awareness – we might actually feel better.
Simple practices done with awareness have a powerful effect on the nervous system. They quiet the mind. They lead to well being and lasting change
How did you get into writing?
Great question, since I started out as a high school Spanish teacher nearly forty years ago. You could say I accidentally bumped into writing, or it bumped into me. It was definitely not on my radar.
In 1996 I walked away from teaching at one of Boston’s preeminent schools at the height of a twenty-year career. I was at the top of my game, and burned out. I didn’t know what I loved anymore, or who I was. As someone who prided herself in being neat and tidy and super-organized, my discovery that I had a lot of clutter came down like a sledgehammer on my self-concept and world view.
I started writing as a way to explore and process my own colorful (and messy) relationship with clutter, and to decode, in the simplest way possible, why most clearing efforts, though, well intentioned, don’t last. Never in my wildest imaginings could I have predicted that clearing out my drawers and closets would lead to my becoming a passionate writer and an author with four books!
How do you define clutter?
Clutter is anything that prevents us from experiencing our true nature and best life. It is not just the junk you see spilling out of the closet. It can also be a thought, a fear, or a memory that doesn’t serve and support you anymore. My definition of clutter is much broader than the usual, and includes the myriad ways that we humans hold on and create imbalance in our lives.
What is the difference between Your Spacious Self and A Year to Clear?
Your Spacious Self is the foundation for a whole new way to clear. It introduces four key principles that are at the heart of this work. I believe that when we combine these four “pathways” – intention, action, non-identification, and compassion – in equal measure, that is when the real magic happens.
A Year to Clear is the journey that gives the reader ample opportunities to practice and integrate the key principles that I teach about in my first book. Most people who are solely action-driven, however, are missing the real hidden goodies that clutter and clearing offers. This book offers 365 days to mine all these goodies by cultivating what I call the “5 S’s”: slowing down, simplifying, sensing, surrendering, and self-care.
Though both books stand on their own and do not need to be read in sequence, they work like a team.
My hope with these books is to help us all come out of our respective “cluttered closets” and experience the innate spaciousness that we all have inside ourselves. If all of us did our own little bit to clear our homes and lives, imagine what that could do to bring about change to the planet!!
What can the reader learn from reading your books?
My books are deceptively simple and work on many levels. They are designed to guide the reader on a journey of shedding layers of stress and stuff, and of discovering more of who she or he is – one nourishing step, drawer, or moment at a time. What makes these books unique, I think, is that they’re forgiving. They meet people exactly where they are.
The clearing practices and journal questions at the end of each chapter are designed to raise awareness and soften resisting patterns, a bit like an acupuncture needle releases stuck energy in the physical body. The inspirational stories and exercises “needle” areas of stuckness – on purpose – to help the reader uncover and release their own unique attachments – for good.
How is inner and outer clutter connected?
As a longtime professional space clearer, I have become intimately and acutely aware of the interconnectedness between humans and their homes; how the spaces we occupy respond to our attentiveness (or lack of it) and how they, in turn reflect us, affect us, support us (and oppress us).
Our homes are not just these big empty boxes that we fill with our collections of stuff, life experiences, and unique personalities. They are alive and dynamic, just like we are. When we tend our homes in small and mindful ways, we care for ourselves. When we nourish ourselves, we bring our lives, and world, back into balance. There is no separation.
What is the difference between the book A Year to Clear, and your 365-day online course on DailyOM, “A Year to Clear What’s Holding You Back!”?
While both resources take you on a 365-day journey of clearing and self-discovery, that appears, at first glance, to be two versions of the same thing, they are quite different. The course eases you into the “slow drip” clearing experience by delivering core teachings, audios, and videos in your email inbox every day. The book, with double the content (personal stories, practices, and inspirational wisdom), expands and deepens the work. Though both stand alone and can be enjoyed separately, I recommend you begin your yearlong journey with the online course, and when it’s over, give yourself the gift of a second year to clear with the book as your guide. At the end of year one, you will not be the same person you were when you started. The book is more like the advanced course in clearing. It revisits many of the teachings, and gives you new ones that you’ll be more ready and able to receive. It offers a fresh perspective on how far you’ve come and new tools to take you where you want to be going.
Does one ever get done with clearing?
The bad news is that clearing never ends. The good news is that clearing never ends. It becomes more enlivening, juicy, and fun!
As I see it, clearing the things and thoughts that do not serve us is a journey to be lived and cultivated, not a linear task to be completed by a certain date or deadline. To the degree that we can enter into the experience with wonder and spacious detachment is when clearing becomes a thing of beauty: a spiritual practice that reveals that divine essence and mystery that we are.
Why would we ever want to stop doing that?!
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