Monthly Archives: December 2013

Money Can’t Buy Happiness

When I left my “real” full time job, I knew the biggest thing I was sacrificing besides my paycheck was the great medical, dental and vision insurance they provided. Admittedly that was the hardest thing to let go of. To be honest, I’ve had well over $4000 in medical, dental and vision expenses since I left. Thanks in part to a breast cancer scare.

While I could dwell on that or question my decision, – I don’t. I knew with 100% certainty that I was supposed to quit my “real” full time job. I know I’m following God’s direction and He won’t let me fail. As I always say “He’s got this!”. Plus, I have been continually surrounded by unbelievable blessings ever since.

My Ever Growing Family

My Ever Growing Family

This past summer both of my daughters had babies – 16 days apart from each other! Unbelievably, one of them was named Noah (I blogged about that here)! I’ve had time to declutter and organize my own stuff – including aspects of my business that I had just been winging since I started it. Boy has that ever felt great! With this additional time I’ve been able to get more clarity about a lot of things in my life and in my business. I’ve been able to hang out with my children and new grandchildren more. And I’ve actually started having a social life again – something I haven’t had AT ALL since I started my business 7 years ago!

I’ve gone away with girlfriends for the weekend, seen Elton John in concert (I’m a self-professed groupie at heart), lost 30 pounds, redecorated several areas of my home and so many other things that I hadn’t done in years. I have also been able to live a more authentic life now and that is very important to me. My happiness level has increased ten-fold! So much so that I had to laugh when I caught myself humming the other day because I was so happy. A big part of my motto and underlying motivator is that you only live once and I want to live the best life I can NOW.

Why Do We Search When We Already Know the Solution?

It’s funny how many times we know the solution for our struggles, but rather than taking action with what we know works, we search for easier answers elsewhere. This is true with so many things. If you want to lose weight, we know that you should eat less and move more. Yet we search for quick fixes and other solutions that seem more appealing and easier like diet pills and potions. If you want to be more organized, you should keep less and assign a home for your things. Yet we buy organizing tubs or books hoping that quick and easy purchase is going to fix it all. I don’t know why we do this, but we all do it. Recently, I realized that I’ve been doing the same thing for several years now with another situation without even realizing it.

When I first started attending church, my focus was always upward on God – praising Him, thanking Him and getting to know Him better. As my focus continued to be on Him, it is amazing all of the wonderful people and things He brought into my life – including my organizing business and opening my eyes to what I was really created for. I was super active and super involved at church and the people there became very important to me. They were my family, my support, my everything (I was estranged from my own family at the time – thankfully that’s been rectified now).

Unfortunately, about 4 years after I started attending this church, the Pastor left. Slowly one by one, all of the people I loved and now considered family were leaving as well. I didn’t understand it. I was completely confused. Why would they leave? I felt hurt, sad, rejected and confused by it all. Top that with the fact that at the very same time the church was falling apart, my marriage was ending. That came with its own losses, changes and feelings. Though I struggled hard to keep my eyes focused upward, it became increasingly difficult because I was so heavily burdened with my own feelings.

Confused

Confused

Eventually I ended up leaving too because it was just too painful to keep losing more people each week. That was 7 years ago! For the past 7 years I have visited and joined so many churches that I’ve lost count. Some of the churches I would simply visit once, some of them I’d spend a year or two there. However, I never felt like I really found my new church home. Because of all of this loss, the past 7 years have been an unbelievably painful period for me.

It’s been hard to get up every single Sunday for the past 7 years and make myself walk into a church completely alone where I don’t know anyone. My experience most of this time has been that I walk in alone, go unnoticed and then walk out alone. I’ve been angry, hurt, confused and a million other things during all of this. Because I really never wanted my other church home to fall apart, I was looking for the same church out there somewhere else. Of course, I never found that.

What God has impressed upon me for the last month is that my focus has been on the wrong thing. When I first came to church, I came because of Him. I came because I loved Him, I loved that He loved me, I wanted to know Him better and I wanted to thank Him and worship Him for all that He’d done in my life. I didn’t go to church looking for a church family, looking for my life’s purpose or looking to start a business – those things all just came because my eyes were focused on Him, where they should be. While visiting churches I’ve tried to keep my eyes focused on Him. But I realize now that I was more caught up in myself and what the church and people there could do for me, rather than just praising Him.

Once God started opening my eyes to this, I shifted my focus completely 100% back onto Him. It’s unbelievable how He has shown me all of the ways I was making this transition more difficult on myself. He showed me all of the ways that I was not letting people in, all of the while blaming them for not doing their part to help me fit in. Honestly after going to my new church relatively unnoticed for 2 years, since my focus shifted back on to Him, there hasn’t been a week that someone hasn’t stopped me and asked me to sit with them.

My point is that as a believer, you’re given the solution to all of your problems the minute you give your life to Him. When you keep your focus on Him, everything else falls into place. Rather than continuing to read scriptures to know more about Him, I shifted the focus on to me and what He could do for me. I wanted a Bible passage that explained step by step exactly how to transition to a new church when you are full of hurt. Guess what? I never found that passage. But, when I stopped looking for how the Bible and church could serve me and shifted my thought pattern back to Him and all that He’s already done for me, everything fell into place. I knew the answer to my problem from the beginning was prayer and keeping my focus on Him, but I went off looking for a different answer with a quick fix instead!

Guard Your Spirit

I know all too well how powerful it is for people to declutter and rid themselves of those things that they no longer need, use or love. I am so fascinated by the psychology behind people and their stuff – why they have it, why they keep it, why it’s so hard to let go of it and the damaging ways it affects their lives – that I’m writing a book about it.

As I talk about in the book, clutter is not just physical stuff. Clutter is anything in your life that isn’t serving a purpose or moving you closer to your ultimate goals. It’s anything that you no longer need, use or love. And it’s anything that is clogging up your life or space and preventing you from being all you were meant to be.

Henry David Thoreau Quote

Henry David Thoreau Quote

As hard as this may be to believe, my “real” full time job was the biggest piece of clutter in my life. Though it paid very well and provided me with excellent benefits, what I did for my full time job went completely against who I am innately and what I stand for. I absolutely thrive on helping people. Working in customer service at a utility company as I did for my “real” job, I learned that you really can’t help people in that role. There are too many things out of your control. If they don’t pay their bill, you can’t stop the inevitable eventual disconnection of service. If their heat goes out and all of the company’s servicemen are prescheduled on other jobs, you can’t send anyone out to help them. And so it goes, on and on.

The majority of the people that would call took no responsibility for the situations they found themselves in. Rather, they truly believed everything was my fault and they weren’t afraid to tell me so. Because I am an extremely sensitive person, I took everything people said to me very personally. Even though I knew they were really venting and taking out their frustration with the company on me, being told how horrible you are over and over everyday is a very difficult thing for someone like me to shake off. It really weighed on me A LOT. I think I even eventually started believing the negative things they were saying about me after a while.

Whenever I see a problem, I immediately think what can I do to make it better? So working at a job talking to people all day that have problems and I can’t do anything to make it better for them was excruciatingly difficult.

You do what you have to do though, right? When I started working there 27 years ago, I was a poor single mother with 2 very young children to raise by myself. This job provided my children and I with the things we needed and so I never looked at this job as optional even though it felt like I was serving out a life prison sentence.  However, after I came to know God in such a close way later in life, it was hard for me to look past the damage it was doing to my spirit. I could feel it killing and eating away at my spirit. And I struggled with sitting idly by and allowing it to continue doing that.

Having been set free from this job (my clutter) for almost 10 months now, it’s amazing how much lighter I feel. How much happier I feel. How much more alive I feel. And how my spirit is healing and soaring like never before! I can see the beautiful sprouts of my new happy life coming out everywhere. And to date, I have never once regretted my decision to leave!

There’s a Monkey on my Back

When I started my professional organizing business, Simplified Living Solutions, I knew that it was extremely important to me that everything my team members or I did presented a very professional image. I wanted potential clients to know that we were a real company that they could take seriously and trust.

From the beginning, I made the decision that I would never tell anyone that I had another full time job. I was afraid that if people knew I worked another full time job, they might think that I was just sort of dabbling in professional organizing and that would not have projected the professional image that was so important to me.

Monkey.on.back

I consider myself to be an extremely authentic, genuine person and so from the beginning this decision has felt like a lie to me. In all reality though, in the 7 years that I’ve been in business, there have been very few people that directly asked me if I had another job. So in that sense, I really wasn’t lying per se, but rather I was withholding information about myself. Nonetheless, whatever you want to call it – lying or withholding information – it felt so yucky!

It’s funny how this innocent enough decision became a big monkey on my back. Even though my decision to withhold that information wasn’t really shared with any of our clients and didn’t really impact the level of service we provided them, it really impacted me. That one minute decision started decaying away at my true authentic self. Even though most people weren’t even aware that I was withholding this information since they never asked, I knew that I was lying – or that I had made a decision to lie.

That’s one thing that has been so freeing about leaving my “real job”, I can begin to confess, and let go of, these little white lies. In the end being able to do that will bring me closer to living a more authentic life which is truly what I desire. What I’ve learned from all of this is that even though the decision I made to tell a little fib didn’t really impact anyone else, it had a very strong impact on me. I found that this decision alone caused me to be a little more guarded in my interactions with clients than I wanted to be. I love nothing more than having real conversations, with real people about real stuff and you can’t do that 100% authentically if you’re not being 100% authentic.

I’m 52 and Having Labor Pains!?

For at least 4 years, there has been a book inside of me that has been waiting patiently to be written. The longer I wait to write it, the more I feel its desperation to get out of me growing stronger and stronger. I have heard many people say that writing a book feels a lot like it feels when you are pregnant, and waiting to give birth. I have to admit that I couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s so true!

It’s hard to explain why writing a book is like being pregnant and finally giving birth. It is similar in the fact that you see a small glimpse of the book in the beginning when the seed is planted, just like when you see a little dot on the screen at your first ultrasound. You know it’s there but it’s hard to make out all of the little details. As you watch your belly grow, your baby (and your book) is developing and getting bigger. You start to feel a little more pressure as the size of the baby (and your book) begin to weigh more heavily on your body. As the baby continues to grow, you begin feeling it moving within you, pushing on your stomach to get out. As clarity about your book’s details begin to grow, you can feel them pushing within you to get out as well.

Labor Pains

Labor Pains

By the time your child and your book are ready to be born, they are fully formed and ready to enter the world. It just takes a little more work from you – a couple good, hard pushes, some deep breathing and focus. Voila, they come out screaming! In the same way that your baby is going to come out one way or another, so is your book. Having a book within you ready to be born is not optional, or something you can just tuck away. It’s got to get out of you one way or another. When it isn’t born by its intended due date, it continues to grow bigger and bigger, really pushing hard on you to get out.

While I have waited to give birth to my first “book child”, it seems that I have gotten pregnant with a couple other books I want need to write, including Modern Day Noah. Now, they’re all battling to be the first “book child” that is born. My book writing pregnancy and its increasing labor pains played a part in my decision to leave my “real” job so that I could finally have time to give birth to these books. Just as childbirth brings us children that fill us with joy, I know that my impending “book births” will bring books that will help, encourage and motivate others so that hopefully they will have more joy in their lives and feel less pain.