The Origins of Zen Organizing

How Regina Leeds Simplified Her Life

When my mother was dying of cancer, I took care of her at home. One day I walked into the living room and found my mom crying. "What's wrong?" I asked, afraid it was some new physical pain related to her illness. Imagine my surprise when she responded with these words:

"I look around at all the things I love and I know that after I die, you'll get rid of them. They'll be treated like garbage."

You have to give my mother credit. She had a flair for the dramatic.

I made her a promise that I would keep everything. And I was true to my word. When I moved back to New York City, I paid a hefty price for this loyalty to stuff. When it all traveled to Los Angeles with me, it cost a king's ransom. People think I grew up in a lean environment. Actually the concept of Zen Organizing developed over years. The need began with this simple exchange with my mother one spring afternoon.

The Seeds of Change
The phone rang one day in my apartment in Los Angeles -- it was a new friend inviting me to a unique party. We began the evening with a potluck supper. After this shared meal, we gathered in a circle. The idea was to bring an item from your home that had great personal significance to you. We went around the circle first, telling the story of our physical object. After we completed this round, a second one began. Now the goal was to give your treasure away and tell the person receiving it why you wanted them to have it. You might be the recipient of several treasures or you might leave empty-handed. There was no guaranteed outcome.

I went through emotional changes getting ready for this party. My apartment was jammed with the treasures of my mother's life. The fact that there was no room for anything of my own did not occur to me at the time. It takes patience and work to unlock all the ties that bind us to the past. As the hour came for me to leave for the party, I was still in a quandary. I didn't want to give anything away. Finally, I took two small fake Hummels off the hutch. I decided my mother wouldn't mind their departure. After all, the real ones were staying put!

Something magical happened that night. When I gave those silly statues away, I broke the invisible cord that tied me to that promise made to my mother years before. By the time I got home, I was ready for a major purge. I realized that I had too much furniture crammed into my apartment and far too many decorative items scattered about on every available surface. I needed breathing room and a place for the things that meant something special in my life. And those inanimate objects needed a new home and a fresh start. Someone just like my mother was waiting to love and treasure them.

This season we're going to open the door to a new life for you. Some of you will rush in and others will peer in taking notes until a later date. There is no right or wrong. This challenge is your invitation to come to the party. Do you think you're ready? Great.

Find out to have your own Simplify Your Life party!

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