One Real Thing #1

This is the first in a series of posts meant to help us introduce tranquility to our day-to-day life. Play along with me on these. We’re so much better together.

I’ve been on a quest for the last few months to find more peace in my life. We all could use some of that, n’est-ce pas? The unrelenting to-do’s and meals to prepare and appointments to keep, the constant droning noise, the crumbs and dirty dishes, and other people’s junk all over the house creates a climate ripe for a stabbing.

Since I love my family and would really prefer a non-stabbing household environment, I thought I should try to minimize what it is that gets to me.

I thought up this concept as a way to share with you what’s worked for me, and to learn from you what has helped you.

This time, our One Real Thing is a question that can help you decide what you might need less of in your life. Weeding out the toxic (read: stab-inducing) leaves more room for the beautiful.  Here’s what makes me crazy; tell me your crazy-making stuff in the comments.

Q: What are three things that create anxiety for you, or make you irritable?
My Answer: Clutter, loud noises, being interrupted

So what do I do with those answers? Well, for me, it helps me focus on what areas I can spend time and energy addressing.

Keeping our tables and counters clear goes a LONG way for me in terms of making me feel calmer. So if I’m starting to feel irritable, I know spending a couple minutes tidying up our family room and kitchen will send some of that angst away. (Confession: A LOT of stuff left within my reach gets pitched. Our daughter’s art work, my husband’s unopened mail, perfectly good food, occasionally a slow-moving cat.)

When it’s up to me, I turn off the TV and plug in my homemade rock fountain. Just having less chaotic noise and more soothing sounds around me is like a cue for my brain to unclench. I cannot, as it turns out, mute my daughter or my husband. I’ve been told it’s disrespectful.

I’ve also learned (with a lot of help from my therapist) that it’s OK to ask for some quiet time. Even if it’s for a moment, it re-centers me.  Having a space bubble around me where no one asks me questions, or drones on about irrelevant stories involving people I don’t know, or needs me to do anything, can be a life-saver (for them, I mean).

These are my 3 go-to’s that take the edge off the chaos. I like that they’re quick and easy. Once I have a quiet, neat(er) space, it’s so much easier for me to address other issues.

Share with me what makes you a little crazy? How can you minimize that in order to make your life less stabby more peaceful?


Desperately Seeking Serenity

I would love this blog to be about my tidy, calm, tranquil house. I want to post photos of our perfectly clear coffee table, my shiny kitchen counters, the lone candle I light each night that shines upon my serene home.

I’d really love to.

But that’s not my house.

My house is awash with crumbs, dirty laundry, toys, messy piles of papers, and somebody’s shoes (always, always somebody’s shoes in the middle of the damn floor).

I can’t even light a candle. It’s not fair to the poor candle. No candle in the world can emit enough calming energy to outshine the blinding clutter my family generates and then flings about wildly.  Seriously, I think they’re competing with each other.

Especially our family room. That’s the one that makes me crazy. We spend so much of our time there, and it’s where my husband and I collapse after we put our daughter to bed. Seeing our collective clutter and crumbs and crap at the end of a day gives me anxiety. I get grouchy, and resentful. I need that one room to be tidy.

You’ve probably heard of the Japanese “tidying up” book.  You throw away everything you own and then bask in the peace of an empty house. Can’t make a mess if you have no possessions.

It actually worked for me, for about a week. See, unlike our tidy author friend, I have a husband. And a child. And some cats. We have seasons and we celebrate holidays. Things pile up. I do not always want to spend my precious free time cleaning my house.

And yet I covet a tidy house.  When we’re surrounded by order, we can clear our minds and focus on our goals. We can plan and learn and grow. That outer harmony encourages an internal one that seems so elusive as we go about our daily lives.

I need some more tranquility in my life. I’ve decided to spend just 5 minutes a day tidying, particularly our family room. I know that’s counter to the “Tidying Up” lady’s advice. But it helps, and sometimes taking bite-sized actions can be a successful path to change.

I want to hear from you – what’s the one area of your house you ~need~ to be clear?  What's just one thing you can do to create a little more serenity in your life? How can you make it a little better today? 

I'll share my progress with you here, and please let me know what you're doing to create harmony in your life. 

The family room I'd like to have.

The family room I'd like to have.

The family room I have.

The family room I have.