I have this dream of sanctuary. Okay, I want to be honest. I have sanctuary. My dream may be more that everyone has sanctuary. There are so many days when I drive up my driveway and walk into the front door, lay down my things and find gratitude in having this space to walk into. I think I recognize it more after working with clients and knowing that so many struggle with this in their lives.
I'm that person that when I go into people's space, they apologize. The apologize for the mess, the clutter, the disorganization. They assume that my home is perfect all of the time. Truthfully, I suppose that it is fairly clean and organized most of the time. Even the kids frequently say, "it doesn't have to be perfect, Mom!" It's not about perfection. I promise. It's not.
It's about having a place to have laughter and joy and space to dream and, unfortunately, shelter from the storms that we weather throughout our lives.
Having a clutter free home is not the answer to preventing disease or infidelity or financial woes (though it can help). It does not mean your life is perfect. But, it can be your place of ease when faced with any of these.
So, let's talk about how it can help. If your bed is filled with clean and/or dirty laundry you or your spouse are sleeping on the couch or in the recliner each night and not making a space in your bedroom for the energy of love, then it can create problems. If you are a binge shopper and purchase the same items over and over because you never emptied the bags from the last 10 shopping trips and your home is so cluttered that you cannot find items, thus purchasing new ones, it can contribute to your financial woes. What about your health? Does your home have lots of spaces for mice to live and to create waste due to the mounds of "stuff"? I promise you, if your home is severely cluttered, it's a real possibility and I have seen it in home after home after home. (Mice are a real problem in the cleanest and most orderly of homes and can easily be dealt with as the evidence can be seen, but it is amplified in cluttered homes.) What about your mental health?
Let's stop here. This. This is what I am most concerned with for SOME of the folks I work with. It's the walking in the front door to the piles, then into the kitchen where you do not have room to prep healthy fresh food, then into the bedroom with 6 baskets of laundry and no room to put them. Then, you begin the cycle of overwhelm. For some of you, you know what I mean.
I work with clients at all levels. I have clients who just need some tweaking in their space or dealing with that one hot spot. On the other end are the clients who have a home full of furniture but no where to sit as ever space is covered with things. And, of course, there is everything in between.
I am not here to judge you. It is the last thing on my mind. There are those days when I wish my own home looked like something out of a magazine. I see the door that fell off the cabinet in the kitchen, waiting to be repaired or the carpet in the den that needs to be replaced. And then, there are those days when I teach a class and show photos of my own home as examples and have people in the room say they wish their home were so empty of items and am reminded that the struggle to find sanctuary in our homes is so real.
On August 1, I am launching an online program to support you in your journey to sanctuary. I'm going to be showing you into my home, my less than perfect, but clutter free home, giving you tips and tricks, talking about why we have clutter and so much more! I know I've been hinting at this for a while, but creating a program like this takes some time!!! I'm almost ready to launch this thing and you will be the first to know. Are you ready?
I've been pondering the meaning of life. A lot. Like every moment of every day. Okay, maybe not that much. But, close. What I spend a lot of time thinking about are past choices that brought me to where I am in life and where my family is. This year has brought tremendous emotional growth but has also been full of huge ups and downs and one thing I have come to the conclusion of is there is no "normal". I used to have this dialogue in my head that said, "once things get back to normal".
Once our schedule normalized.
Once my income normalized.
Once my health normalized.
What does this even mean?
I'm going to talk more about this in future posts, but today, I want to take this idea of "normal" and reframe it into "habits". How? The reality is there is no "normal". Not in my world and quite frankly, not in the world of anyone else I know. So, if there is no normal, how do we live life? How do we operate and bring any form of consistency in a world of constant change?
Through habits. This has been on my mind and I decided to make this the summer of developing good habits. I looked up the meaning of habit for this post and here is our friends at Merriam-Webster have to say:
Okay, so we want some repetition, or at least I do. The school year is NOT a good time to develop good habits. What happens during the school year is a big part of the reason I want to develop these habits as more often than not, we find that we are not in "normal" and are frequently in CHAOS as schedules shift and change, holidays fall, illness creeps in. I truly believe it is in a handful of good habits that we will find a bit of normal amid the inconsistency.
We already have a few good habits. Each morning the dishwasher is emptied. There's one! Honestly, that may be the only one.
I have begun looking at other writers to see what habits they have and how they win at life through the use of habit. Of course, there is the iconic 7 Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen Covey (by the way, I just ordered EVERY ONE of his books through our library) and my fave, Tim Ferriss (check out this article). but, are their habits my habits? Some of them.
After reading several articles, thinking of my pet peeves and knowing where the chaos happens in our home when we are NOT in good habit and what we need to be health in body, mind and spirit, I have come up with these habits to work on over the next 11 weeks:
1. Making the bed upon rising. Always. No matter what.
2. Get my diffuser filled with my favorite oils to set our mood for the day.
3. Reviewing my goals and journaling. (I am also working with Elizabeth Purvis over at the Goddess Business School, so for me, that is a huge part of my journaling.)
4. Meditate or read something inspirational.
6. Clean the kitchen (the kitchen is usually clean when we wake up, but when I leave in the mornings, I also want to come home to a clean kitchen). This is a group effort at the Croy house.
7. Reboot the laundry every night before bed.
I may add to this over the summer, but seriously, if we can implement these items individually, we will be able to take the chaos thrown at us each day when life strays outside the lines and "normal" is no where to be found. An example of a not so normal day below. We threw off the shackles of yard work and house cleaning and headed downtown for an afternoon of fun!
Please share your habits with me today over on FB!
I went into Michael's yesterday after my walk with the intent to purchase a new wreath. My vision was somewhat cloudy as we always leave our greenery up until Imbolc/Candlemas (February 2). Making the decision to take it down was a real shift for me so I was THRILLED when I saw the little gem in the photo below - originally $79, marked down 90 PERCENT! Yes it was covered in Christmas ornaments and a big shiny bow, but I knew with a little deconstruction, it would be a simple and elegant wreath for my front door.
So, let's talk about that front door and the entry to our homes. This can be a real challenge for many folks at this time of the year. You may be living with torential downpours or be under 5 feet of snow. For me, I am in Nashville. The weather went from Winter to 60 degrees in about 5 minutes and tonight the temps drop and we are expecting snow by the end of the week (please say it ain't so). So, I took advantage of the day today to change my wreath, clean the door mat and sweep off the porch.
Here's the scoop on my porch. It's tiny. Almost "stoopish", in fact. 8 steps lead up to a tiny landing, though I can assure it can hold at least 4 people as often demonstrated by my family. It is not really set up for decorating. So, what's a girl to do? I hang a wreath each season on the front door. And, for 3 seasons out of the year, I have a lovely terra cotta pot filled with greenery or flowers on a hand-painted stepping stone (painted by moi, of course). Sometimes I long for my old porch. It was large enough for a settee and decorations regardless of the season as it boasted a lovely roof, shielding us (and my stuff) from the weather. But, that doesn't make it any less important in the scheme of this work. I can take steps, and so can you, regardless of how immense or how small your porch is.
Let me tell you a story. Two Sundays before Christmas, my hubby was going out the front storm door to take out the trash and the window in the door shattered. Everywhere. For three weeks we have been without that window as we moved from a shattered window into all four of us coming down with a virus and then Christmas. Now, here we are in the first week of 2017 and I'm staring at that empty frame each day as I leave the house and then re-enter it when coming home. Is it tragic that we have a pane of glass missing from our storm door? No. But, each time when I see it it brings a level of anxiety into my awareness of one more thing to do, the possiblity of the kitten escaping (it did happen once already) and the embrassment of living with a broken pane of glass in the front door. (Okay, that one's on me.) This. Is. Not. Good. Guess what's on my list for the week as we work through the entryway? You guessed it!
In feng shui, the entryway to your home is crucial. It can make or break many things in your life. That is why appearances and entryways were put at the top of the list when creating this challenge. I spent some of my sleepless night last night going through to find a couple of comprehensive articles that highlight the importance of the entryway to your home, apartment or office. Of course, I keep coming back to Katie Weber. Her article on front doors is comprehensive yet simple.
As you are working on your entryway, here are things to keep in mind:
1. Ensure the walk-way to your home is clear of debris, overgrown vegetation, etc. This can be a challenge if you live in the Norther Hemisphere as it is WINTER but you may be in a mild area and can really work on clearing the path to allow for the flow of chi.
2. Sweep the front steps, porch, stoop, whatever you have!
3. If you have an old or worn out front porch mat or none at all, toss it in the trash then splurge and find one that makes your heart sing. I am completely serious. I get giddy over a new front door mat. With that said, I invested last year in a lovely black rubber mat (see photo) that I may have for the rest of my life.
4. Clean your front door.
5. Hang a new wreath or decoration of choice on the front door.
6. Add other decorations as desired with the intention of staying clutter free. You can decorate the front of your home as you will, but keeping mind that clutter prevents the flow of chi. I created a Pinterest board for this with lots of idea.
7. Be sure to take any before and after pictures and post to my FB page!
Today, I want to stress to you that this week is about appearances. It's about how your home appears to you (consciously or sub-consciously) and how it appears to you guests. I want to be clear. This is not about judgement or giving a crap about how others view you. I always say that the biggest judger in my life is ME! But, I want your home to be welcoming for you and your guests. I want you to NEVER feel that you cannot have friends or family into your home. The Fly Lady calls it CHAOS (can't have anyone over syndrome).
Gosh, this post is getting long, but I have so much to say on this subject! A few more thoughts.
First, this is not a competition. My gameplan for my entrance, well, all of my entrances (more below), is simply to clean and clear and I added the new wreath to the front door. You need to decide what you will do for your space. It can be simple or elaborate. It may be that you clear and clean now and wait for the thaw to do a more elaborate decorating project. I am a big believer in LESS IS MORE!
Quickly, even if your FRONT door is not your primary entrance, always treat it as such. Actually, it is ALWAYS best to use the front door if possible, but in the US, it is common to enter and exit through a garage door if you are a home-owner. Make that front entrance shine but check your other entrances as well. Sweep the back porch, knock down the cobwebs, add a mat if you need to. Garage door entrance as well, which tends to be where our biggest mess lies.
Now, get to gettin' and post pics! If you post on Instagram, tag me: @fengshuimama
I couldn't sleep last night. Today my husband went back to work and the kids returned to school. I have always had sleep issues due to anxiety when my schedule changes. As most moms I suspect are - I am thrilled to usher everyone back to where they go each day and get back into a regular routine, which is what most people thrive on.
As I lay awake last night thinking about our entryway and this blog post, I thought of my parent's home. I grew up in a beautiful home. My mother had excellent taste and kept a spotless home. Everything was so clean all of time. No feet were allowed on the furniture, she didn't like for us to nap on the couch. She even bleached our toothbrushes. Not kidding. I'll be honest. A clean beautiful home didn't keep her demons at bay. She had her own internal issues that she wrestled with for many years and they finally took over as I (the youngest of four) entered my tween/teen years. There are many reasons that I will not talk about, but it is important to know that this work is not the cure-all for what ails the human race.
What I can tell you (as I will say repeatedly), that this work will allow us to look at why we live like we do, what works and what doesn't, remove those things that do NOT SERVE OUR CURRENT LIVES to make room for the things we love. And, to SEE the truth around us. When looking at my life, my home, my friend's homes, my client's homes, there are threads that run through. Often times we live in such a state or have recurring hotspots that we avoid that our eyes no longer see. Then, disaster strikes, like a leaking water heater that is surrounded by boxes or a surprise guest from out of town but the spare bedroom has 4 years worth of mail stacked around or you have an emergency medical situation and no clean underwear. I've seen it all and quite HONESTLY, experienced it all.
Now that I've waded through some heavy stuff...let's have some fun! Last night in my state of insomnia, I created a new Pinterest board for Entryways, Mudrooms and Front Porches. You'll see beautiful, expensive, DIY, recycled, simple - all of it. I tried to look for things that struck my fancy and things that can be duplicated without stress or breaking the bank.
Let's start with my entryway. (I'm saving a couple of things for a second post, namely the front porch, feng shui, and a discussion of which door you should enter in and what you can do if you do not.) We do not have an entryway in our home beyond the front door, which I find to be a little on the annoying side, to be honest. What we are BLESSED with however, is a coat closet that is immediately to the left when you walk into my home. It is quite organized, even if I do say so myself. I'm not going to say it is pinworthy (remember, I sometimes err on the side of practical). But, I am happy with it everytime I open the door, okay, most of the time, until my son piles up his shoes with no thought, then I'm not happy and he fixes it! But, this closet serves as exactly what it is - a coat closet. Notice
Now, what can you do today, right now to organize or spruce up your entryway?
1. Take an assessment. Do you have an entryway that is it's own space? Do you have a coat closet? Do you need to create either of those spaces?
2. Declutter!!! I cannot stress this enough. As I tidied up the coat closet for this post, I pulled a coat that my daughter has outgrown and a plastic coat hanger that has no place in that space. Pull out the coats of years past that have not been worn, shoes that are no longer in style, mismatched gloves. Put them in your Goodwill box. (You do have a Goodwill box, don't you?) What about the items that don't belong? Sports equipment floating around, toys that were hastily shoved in, anything else that does not serve you leaving the house or walking in the door. Dedicate this space and make it a clutter-free zone!
3. Now, organize. What can you have remaining. Take a look at my Pinterest board. Also, there is a great article on Apartment Therapy on entryways. My fave picture is the 6th one down. It's for the home with an entryway but no storage and has some great ideas. Hooks on the wall. Open baskets for shoes. Love it!
Here are a few images of my own entry closet that allows us to have a clean organized space just inside the door! I'd love to see some photos of yours as well. Share them here, on my FB page or in the Clearing the Way for Your Best Life group.
I'm somewhat addicted to space clearing, feng shui, and home organization books. I have purchased, checked out or sat all day at bookstores reading many, if not most, said books. Through the years I've whittled my own collection down to a handful of really great books that I use as a reference when recommending books to friends and business associates. This book will be among those. In 2005 I became a certified Feng Shui consultant and have acted as both organizer and sacred space cleaner since then. What I have found lacking in most of the books on the market is the deep act of looking within to see how we came to this place of needing one more organizing book, tool, plastic bin, etc. This book offers that. Not a typical organizing book - though it does offer tips - this book offers a chance to look inside ourselves to see what we need to or can change to allow us the freedom to live our lives unburdened by the weight of the emotional and energetic "stuff" masquerading as physical "stuff" and clutter within our home (car, office, etc.). This book is an easy read but offers challenges to help us move through our own stuff. In fact, though I like to think that my home is fairly clear, I have found myself doing another purge of my family's home! I even filled an entire giveaway/sell box that we were happy to release! Before you purchase your next organizing bin, purchase this book!
Spring has sprung and I am in serious decluttering and cleaning mode! Since I love doing things with others, I decided to share this with my readers and shout it out to the world. Why now? Well, the aforementioned Spring has arrived in Tennessee. It is time to throw open the curtains, raise the windows and come out of our Winter hibernation.
As a feng shui practitioner, I have an eye for how we use spaces in our home. As my mother's daughter, I cannot stand clutter or dirt. Unfortunately, as we have burrowed out from Winter, I realize we have both. Not. For. Long. In addition, as I take on clients with my business, what I realize is that many of my clients need not only my help in web design or system development for their business, but they need help digging out of the holes they are in. In other words, they are SERIOUSLY OVERWHELMED with the amount of "stuff" surrounding them physically and are having a hard time moving forward with their goals and dreams because of it.
So, this week and next (one room per day), I'll be cleaning and decluttering and sharing with you my thoughts on this as well as resources to help you become unstuck from the things holding you back. You can go to vibrational healers, burn candles, dance naked in the pale moon light. But, if you have a truck load of sh*t around your house holding on to negative energy, forgotten dreams, past projects, you are holding yourself back from living the life you want.
Yesterday I started with my front room on Periscope (@danacroy) and today will be moving into the kitchen! Follow me on Periscope or check me out on Twitter (www.twitter.com/danacroy).
In the meantime, I want to share with you an online resource that I follow. Ruth Soukup over at Living Well, Spending Less just released her new book Unstuffed. And, she is running a 10-day decluttering #challenge on her website and Instagram.
Don't forget, follow me on Periscope to walk through my Spring Cleaning this week and live your best life in 2016!
Okay. You now have a command center or are thinking of having one. You have been given the basics and lots of great ideas on how to execute them. Now, you have to utilize these ideas and not only that, stay on top of them to prevent chaos from reigning and losing command. How do you do that?
The first thing is to purge. Yes. As painful as it is. Do it. Just do it. When we purchased our first home I was interested in landscaping. To be honest, I wanted to rip up what was there and start over. So, I asked a friend of mine who was a horticulturist at a local botanical garden if he had any advice for me. Two words. "Be ruthless." That's my advice for you. Recycle the outdated coupons, post-it notes, old sales papers. If you are not sure if you should keep it or toss it then take a look at the Container Store's document retention guidelines. Regardless, one of the keys in this entire thing is to PURGE. What you have left after purging is the makings of how to organize your space.
Next is to stop the inflow of stuff into your space in its' tracks. What I mean by this is do not even let the recycling, the junk mail, etc. into your home. Though things occasionally slip in, most days I stop at the mailbox and check the mail in the car. Anything I do not need goes immediately into the recycling bin before it ever makes it into the house. I am not kidding. After YEARS of struggling with paper I drew my line in the sand and said ENOUGH. We are not big shoppers, so there is little temptation to bring sales circulars, catalogs, etc. into the house.
Did you read that? We. Are. Not. Big. Shoppers. We do not purchase for the sake of purchasing or because it's on sale or because I need that 5th pair of black heels. Nope. (This is an ENTIRELY different topic that I will in a later blog post.) The point is that those unimportant papers that came uninvited in the mail have no place in my home.
Going back to purging - look at your papers. Do you have notes sent home from your child's last year teacher reminding you to [fill in the blank] or the reading list from your child's 2nd grade teacher (oops, that child is in 5th grade now) that needs to be recycled? Why are you holding on to these things?
So, in wrapping up this series on getting ready to manage the influx of information and stuff that is part of back to school, I'll go over a few things one more time:
Good luck and let me know how you are doing!
My own command center/home office has the functionality of the spaces on my Pin Board. But beyond that I am inspired each and every day that I sit in my space. My space includes what I call my vision wall:
Did you have a chance to browse my Home Office Pin Board? Did you happen to notice what they all have in common? I know, there are several things. But beyond the file folders, calendars, baskets, key hooks....there is beauty and inspiration. With one or two exceptions (due to space limitations) they all have something unique, beautiful and inspirational for the family using the space. Look closely and you'll see photos of children, artwork, favorite quotes and more that bring the space together.
As you are looking at your own spaces - be it a cabinet, closet, wall or entire room, remember that it is YOUR space. You can funk it up, Pottery Barn it, minimalize it, do it any way you want - it should be unique to you. Beyond the basics and a little bit of inspiration, the key to a working command center that is ready for back to school or life in general is the ease of use for you and your family.
Last week I began a series on the home Command Center. I talked about the big picture and then the basics.
Today I am going beyond the basics. If you visit my Home Office Pinterest page you'll see so many great ideas on how to organize your home office and/or command center. I want to talk a little about these images, my home and your home. My home is not your home. My home is also not an ad for West Elm. My home is...well...my home. A little messy, a little wild and a lot imperfect. Just like me. There are those days when I come and sit down at my little Command Center/Home Office/Creation Station and think to myself, "Why can't my space look like....." and then someone walks into my house and sees my little space and says "this is SO cute and clever" and then I think I've got it going on.
In my first post on this topic I addressed this to a degree.
Follow Feng Shui Mama's board Home Office on Pinterest.
My favorites (other than my own) are the smaller spaces, the ones that do not scream excess or overindulgence (I like those too but they are not for me or my space). Take a look at Organizing Home Life and her cute kitchen cabinet command center. If you are living in an apartment or small home or TINY house, this is perfect for you! Over at Better Homes and Gardens they feature a slightly larger space which is perfect if you want your command center to be in the middle of it all or if you have a little more room to devote to your space. And, Inspired Snaps offers pics from around the web of some great larger spaces that, like mine, serve many purposes.
The fun thing about a series like this is I am looking even more closely at my space, looking at what I can add (or take out) that is not serving me and by the end, I'll have tweaked it and will have some final pics. Next up, "What's Your Vision" and creating a vision board to keep the inspiration going.
I’m Dana Croy and I am a modern day mama. Balancing family and work is not always easy (not to mention a little self-care). Though being Mama to two fantastic kiddos is a huge part of my life, that was not always the case. I wear many other hats and invite to sit down and find harmony with me.