We have a saying in coach-land – your outer world reflects your inner world. So if you’re feeling stuck, jumbled, overwhelmed or otherwise out of sorts on the inside, there’s often a part of your living space that reflects this.
I see this with clients – they have a breakthrough and then they clean their entire home, or totally change their hair and clothes, or redo their bedroom, or toss all the old Tupperware in their kitchen. And over the years I’ve seen it with myself. Things that seemed so important to keep are suddenly needless clutter that is sucking my energy and making my space less livable.
My favorite example of this shifting is my new work space that I’m so in love with I can’t even express it! I now have a real place to work in my home – dedicated to just that! The creation of this space has been in process since summer 2008. That’s when we converted the “junk room”, which was basically like an indoor garage, into a serene space with French doors going out to a brand new deck.
Here’s the transformation in pictures: Before any changes, this space was a clutter repository and place to store the bicycles, cat food, tools, cleaning supplies and any and all other stuff we didn’t know what to do with. And it looked like this:
It was still where we stored the bikes, but there was a fabulous futon where I could work. I was always a person who worked on a couch or on the bed, partly because my “official” desk in our house looked like this – still surrounded by the piles of teaching materials that I hadn’t yet given away, sorted through or chucked. It was a repository for papers and stuff I didn’t want to deal with. If you could do an “energy reading” of the space, I’m sure it would read something like BLOCKED, BLOCKED, BLOCKED! STUCK! BLECH!!!
It was the Hoarders nook of the house. I felt the energy suck from me every time I walked past it. It didn’t always look as bad as it does in this pic – sometimes the piles were small and there was nothing on the floor, but it was still a place for papers and other junk to go to die.
Interestingly, I’ve had a space like this in my life for as long as I can remember. My childhood room grew messy fast. Sometimes I got super-organized and fixed the room up just right, but it quickly deteriorated into paper piles. The same thing happened in college. I had a place for everything in my little dorm room, but the desk was often the place where the disorder would start. And I wouldn’t ever sit there to work. I would work from my bed or couch.
I had a friend in college who teased me about being a witch, because I could take my dorm room from completely wrecked to neat and orderly in about half an hour. I just didn’t have habits or routines to keep it that way. This continued once I was on my own. I always had a dysfunctional desk space somewhere, and a whole lotta papers and junk around it.
So what’s changed in the past week or two? Well, finally I have created a place to sit and work, for real. I have made a room I already love into a beautiful work space! I feel all grown up and productive! And my old desk area where that messy accumulation of papers was? It’s disappearing. Nothing will be there soon, so it can be the new storage place for the bikes.
This transformation didn’t happen overnight. I had images of beautiful work spaces on my vision board. I began collecting some little items that would eventually decorate the new area, like two ceramic bird candle holders in colors I loved. I just needed something to pull it all together.
Then everything changed with the big catalyst: A table. My friend Elizabeth gifted me a beautiful round painted oak table that she no longer wanted. Months before that, I had carted a bookshelf off the street, and added another piece of furniture to hold art supplies and other creative goodies. But the table shifted everything. Suddenly I had a place for those ceramic bird candles. And a place to sit and create. With a view to the hummingbirds and blue jays outside.
Getting rid of the old desk space has shifted the energy in this house in amazing ways. And having a place to “officially” work, that I LOVE, is making all the difference. I’m excited to sit down and get started, and then put it all away at the end of the day.
Here’s the new space with the French doors open – it’s almost like working outside!
And being a person who loves re-purposing and saving things from landfills and consuming consciously, I love the story of the table before I received it. Elizabeth rescued it too, from a relative’s porch where it was languishing. She did the hard work of cleaning and painting it, and used and loved it in her home for years. And when she was ready to let it go, having rearranged her space (she’s an excellent re-arranger of spaces) she passed it to me.
Want to make space shifts in your own world? Here are some easy steps.
1. Find a space in your home that you’re currently not happy with. Imagine that space just as you’d like it – no holds barred. Cut out images, draw pictures, collect color swatches – just imagine away!
2. On a regular basis – daily or weekly or whatever feels good to you – take away one thing that doesn’t resonate with you in the space. Something that doesn’t belong, that no longer serves you, or that you just don’t like anymore. Toss it, recycle it, sell it, donate it, relocate it. Then replace it with something you love. Or sometimes, just as effective, enjoy the open space of having nothing there! My little ceramic bird candles nested among the clutter for over a year while they waited for their perfect spot – but seeing them there reminded me that eventually I would fix a space for them that was just right! Little by little, one item at a time, you’ll transform your space.
3. If you come from a long line of savers (as I do) be patient with yourself. Take your time and just keep paying attention. Something you thought you had to keep a month ago might now be clutter and ready to be released. If you rearrange and toss items more easily, you may be able to speed up the process and make a big change in a weekend!
4. Watch for big items (like my table!) that will catalyze the change and help your vision from step one become your reality! And when you have a personal breakthrough, note how your space might not reflect the “old you” anymore, and be open to making the new space meet the needs of your new self!
5. If you need to, seek professional help. Find someone who can help you gain some momentum. If you’re in the New Orleans area, try Stasia with Clear the Clutter – she comes highly recommended!
I’d love to hear your stories of shifting space and energy in your home or work space. What have you done to create a space you love?