Week One: Pare Down Your Stuff

If you are participating in this challenge, odds are you aren't delighted with the state of your home or office.

Our physical world mirrors our mental state. I tell my clients and students: "Want to see what your mind 'looks' like? Open a closet or cupboard or drawer and look without judgment. Now you 'see' your mind!" Once you get organized, the same reality will apply. The calm physical environment that surrounds you will reflect the peaceful, calm interior of your being. This is a two-way street that constantly reflects and feeds both sides.

One of the key elements in making lasting changes in our lives is to accept responsibility for what we have created. "Wait a minute," you say, "I'm very tidy. I can't deal with my pack-rat hubby!" Well, I have to ask you: Out of all the men on the planet, do you think it's a freak accident that you chose him? I don't believe in accidents.

Now, understand, I am not remotely interested in making you feel guilty. My goal is to empower you! You created this reality, and you realize it no longer serves you. Great! You and you alone have the power to change it.

I have studied many types of disciplines in my life. I can't think of one that was a cakewalk. Tiger Woods practices, as does Shaquille O'Neal. Opera singers do vocal drills every day. Chess players practice. You catch my drift here. If this isn't the easiest area of your life to face, take heart. This challenge unites you in a common bond with women around the globe. We are going to do this together.

The first thing we need to do is establish realistic goals. Please take some time to answer these questions in your journal. If you took the January challenge you already have a special journal devoted to healing and growth. Please use it now. If you are new here, I hope you'll take the challenge when it runs in January and use your new journal for that purpose as well.

Please give yourself some quiet time to thoughtfully reflect and journal about these questions.

  • What bothers you the most about the present reality of your home?
  • Has it always been like this? If it has, could you say it mirrors your childhood home? If it hasn't, when did the change occur?
  • What would a simpler life do for you? Please be specific.
  • How would it affect your family?
  • Having read the introductory articles, what actions are you going to take for the next 21 days?
  • If your physical environment is organized, is your life chaotic? Do you habitually volunteer for assignments at work or committees at school or church? Is it time to pare down your commitments?
  • Do you feel rested or chronically exhausted most of the time? What could you do to remedy that?
  • Are you getting something out of the chaos you have created around you? Do you, for instance, get disorganized to avoid a responsibility that scares you?
  • What would be the specific results from living in a simplified environment that nurtured your soul rather than sabotaged your best efforts?

These questions will keep you busy for more than a month. You are free to revisit them over time. Your answers today may not be the same as in two weeks. Be open to incremental changes. You don't sign up for the Masters the day after your first golf lesson. We're going for realistic, incremental, soul-stirring changes that will last a lifetime.



Daily Exercise
Please try to come to the Message Board twice a day (briefly!) if your schedule allows. Having to "report in" will assist you in being responsible. Please answer these questions each day:

Morning Question:

  • How do you plan to simplify today?

Evening Questions:

  • What were you able to accomplish today?
  • If you accomplished everything on your list, how does that make you feel?
  • If something derailed your plans, what was it? Was it out of your control? Will it affect your plans?

Please be sure to read the posts of your fellow challengers. Someone may have faced a similar life "adventure" that day, and the way they handled it may inspire you. By the same token, your actions and words may lift and console someone else.

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