photo by diametrik (modified WC Allen)
Ever notice how much ‘stuff’ you have? Crap piled in basements, fat, thin, and old wardrobes? Books you’ve read and will never read again?
Friends, lovers, relatives that you keep hanging out with out of habit?
Beliefs that you cling to, despite their being outmoded and ineffectual?
Start a “pitching them out” campaign.
We’ve moved several times in the last few years, and each time have gotten rid of multiple pickup trucks worth of stuff. With the big moves we have coming in the next two years, we’ll be down to one part of a shipping container. Funny thing. The only thing so far I’ve missed is a rolling pin.
Walk through your space and look for meaningless piles. Start by making a list of stuffed stuff. Then, make another list, say a room a week, and just start. Give away what you can, have a garage sale, and pitch the rest. Then move to the next room.
People become collectible items too.
I’ve written before about dealing with relatives, and it bears repeating. Just because you are related to, in relationship with, or married to someone, does not mean that the relationship is destined to continue. Here’s a good opportunity to visit a therapist. If you think you are clinging to a friend, partner, or relative because you don’t know how to leave, talk to an expert and see if your instincts hold under scrutiny.
The plain fact of the matter is that each of us changes as time goes by. People we are in relationship with may not be shifting along with us and the wider the gap, the more it hurts, and the more effort must be expended holding things together. If, after reflection, you realize you are caught in such a pattern, think about making 2008 the year of cleaning your relationships house.
Weed Your Beliefs
Still believe in good luck, magic, wish fulfillment, or ‘rescue from the sky?’? Still believe institutions, politicians, big business, big pharma? Still believe that anyone interested in collecting money from you is doing things in your best interest? Get over yourself. In 2008, examine your beliefs.
Ultimately, simplification is more than a moving of piles. It’s a way of being that is light, efficient, and self sufficient.
Drop the beliefs, the blind faith, the trusting others to look out for you, and build a spine, gain ‘a pair,’ and stand forth as a whole, complete and ‘simple’ human adult.
Talk about being in rarefied company!
2. Clean Out
A while back I wrote about doing a Fall Body Cleanse. Here’s another opportunity. Read the past article. Then, go stand on your scale.
Me too. I have personally consumed two tons of garbage this holiday, and I’m not quite done. On the 31st, I’m going with my sweetie to a New Years eating fest, with two of our best friends. And Thursday the 3rd is my 57th birthday — I plan to have a nice meal.
Then, time to get back into shape. In my case, carbohydrates and I do not get along. So, the first thing I’m cleaning out is the pantry.
Amazing how many people buy crap food, and then can’t figure out why they are eating it. I was having coffee with a friend, who was complaining that her kids only ate junk. I said, “Hmm. I didn’t know 6 year olds shopped.”
See point 1, above. Clear all the crap out. Do not replace it with new crap.
You might want to consider the cleanse aspects of the above article.
Paradoxically, the Kitchari recipe you’ll find in that article has a some carbs, but given that you’re eating only Kitchari for a day or two, no harm, no foul.
Then, set manageable goals.
I’m aiming to lose 15 pounds or so. A pound or so a month is minus 3500 calories, or 100 less per day.
While you’re at it, clean out your attitude. No point bad mouthing or blaming yourself. Most people get into ragging on themselves for the mess they are in, and then do more of whatever they did in the first place, to compensate for feeling bad. Let go of the griping, finger pointing, etc., and simply start.
Same thing goes for exercise, getting a massage, doing some Bodywork, etc. Get yourself worked on. Pound yourself into shape.
Haul your butt out there, and hand it over to people who can help you clear and clean out. No excuses.
3. Make Manageable Resolutions
Emphasis on Manageable. Most people make these odd lists of things to change, and then try to do everything at once, and of course, fail miserably. If you look again at the two above points, you’ll see a pattern, and it is this. Decide, right now, that 2008 is the YEAR you transform all aspects of yourself. In stages. With delicacy and care.
As you will read in any time management system, projects get accomplished when broken into bite sized pieces. Darbella got quite addicted to the 43 Folders concept at school, and finds the 2x per day paper sort means much less work overall. She’s gotten quite good at it, and others on staff have picked the idea up.
My eating goal, above, is highly manageable. If I go faster, great! But to set an unrealistic goal, as we all know, means failure is right around the corner.
Back when I counselled at the University of Guelph, Masters students typically came in during January, whining about having to write a thesis. Most were science majors, and needed to write 100 pages. (I laughed, as my thesis topped out at 297 pages.) I’d say. You do not write a thesis. You take a page and type “Introduction,” on it, and go on from there, word by word.
Look at the list of things you want to accomplish. Break each one down into manageable chunkettes, stick dates on the chunks, and do them! One by one. Cross them off as you accomplish them.
Oh. Countless studies indicate that if you do not write down your goals and your chunked plans, you are almost certainly doomed to failure. Write them down.
4. Develop a Practice
Dar and I are just back from a new Zen Center we’re checking out. We shot down to Buffalo for a New Years Zazen (sitting meditation.) We sat and meditated for 3 hours, in chunks. (What else?) We’ve determined to do this monthly at the center, and I am committed to making it happen at home, by February latest. I’m planning on a morning practice, and those of you who know my schedule (Hint: 9 am to 1 am, most days) will be laughing thinking of me getting up an hour or two early to tend our Buddha Hall altar and to sit in Zazen.
Nonetheless, I will prevail!
We talked at length with the Zen center’s leader, and I suggested that I have, since I left the church in 1996, felt a decided lack of spiritual practice. Sure, I’ve learned a lot about presence and focus and living in This Endless Moment yet the feeling is that I could do more to be grounded. Grounding is key to living life fully and passionately.
Most people flit around in their heads— thinking, plotting, and planning. And they get nowhere. Our culture seems to be heading more and more into the head, away from the heart, away from the soul, way from bodily practice and centeredness.
I’m going to produce a dvd with exercises to help people with back pain and injuries, and will let you know when its done. It will contain yoga, Ki Gung and Breath techniques that will make a nice starting practice. I’ll keep you posted.
Look for a local Zen center. You don’t have to become a Buddhist to sit. Zen is not a religion — it’s a way of living, being, and engaging. Primarily, it uses body techniques to still the mind and to being your attention to your whole, complete self.
We are also fans of Iyengar Yoga, and Tai Chi is also a good thing for grounding.
In the mean time, have a look at this article about the first chakra and ways to ground yourself.
Dar made this!
5. Create Something
Most people are so busy running around in circles that they fail to bring creativity into being. All of us have talents — for most, they never see the light of day. Paintings don’t get painted (or they remain hidden in the extra bedroom…) stories remain unwritten, beauty remains hidden in the dark recesses of scrambled minds.
Think about what you’ve wanted to bring into being.
Some of the teachers at Dar’s school have taken carpentry courses, and have made amazing things. Dar and I both give ourselves over to our creative energies.
Create amazing relationships. Once you’ve cleared the decks of the dud and dragging relationships, commit to only excellent relationships, from now on. Learn and use a communication model. Speak using “I” language. For more ideas, check out this article from a few weeks ago.
Go play. Hang out with your favourite niece (hey, Lisa…) and teach her to use chopsticks while eating sushi. OK. That’s one Dar and I did with Lisa last week…
Actually, Lisa is walking this path pretty well. She’s making informed relationship, education, and career decisions, with a minimum of drama. This means she’s fun to hang around with, and she’s cute to boot.
Have fun with a kid. Play games, and laugh. Be encouraging, reach out, make physical contact, and let the people you care about know you love them.
Create a beautiful, secure, and serene environment. Chaos in your space equals chaos in your life. Clean your room, hang up your clothes, stop being a slob. Make pieces of art and decorate your house. Set up a little shrine and keep in uncluttered and clean.
Clear the crap out of your house, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and refuse to let it back in the door.
6. Stop Complaining
I mentioned the “Complaint Free World“campaign a few weeks ago. I’ve been really working on this one. I’ve only managed to get through one complete day, with no complaints, a week ago. I seem to be down to one or two complaints a day, and Dar and I are laughing about how often we think one, and then catch ourselves before we give it voice. 21 days in a row? We shall do it!
Have you not noticed that complaining doesn’t work, and only gets you more of what you complain about? Knock it off. Right now.
THEN, change what is changeable. Some stuff can only be changed by others and all you can do is ask, politely, and then let it go. Anything that has to do with you (the stuff we’re talking about this week) is something you can change — either directly, or by describing it differently.
For example, some people fight because their partner wants to and they don’t want to appear “weak.” Yikes. Bad karma all around, and the peace and contentment that could be yours vanishes. Instead, let your parter be, refuse to fight, to complain, to demand.
Live your life as you want to live it, and walk away from conflict. Just refuse to play that game.
Very quickly you will see the conflict end,
as one sided fights are impossible.
Don’t complain about your health, ever again. Do something. Try other approaches — eastern approaches, therapy, Bodywork, whatever. When your body needs a shift, shift. Complaining only brings you more of what you complain about.
7. Do Something Chargy
Or risky. Or scary.
There’s a new show on TV in Canada — called N.O.W. (No Opportunity Wasted) The guy from Amazing Race is helping people face their fears. Example: two people afraid of heights eventually rappelled down the face of a mountain.
Find a way to challenge your fears, including your fear of losing control. This is a biggie for many. You can learn to let go through dance, martial arts, acting classes, learning to give and receive a full body massage, going to a spa, and through countless sports and outdoor experiences.
Travel. leave the false safety of North America and see other parts of the world. Skip the guided tours and meet people.
This is your only ‘go-round’ and it’s a big world filled with really interesting experiences. Stop waiting for the right moment or for ‘permission,’ ask for what you want, and go get it, feel it, have it, savour life lived full bore.
8. Make a Difference
OK. Fair warning. The next points are political, and a bit of a rant. Necessary in my opinion. I’m interested in yours!
Stop trying to blend in — please!
Stand for something, have integrity, and be inspiring. The world is stuffed to the gills with small, petty, mean spirited people, who love nothing more than to rain on other’s parades. Since you’ve cleaned those sort of folk from your life, now is the time to show the world who you are.
Get out there. Be of service. Teach your skill set to others.
Demonstrate authentic living - don’t just talk about it. Your life is your masterpiece, your life is who you are. If you don’t like aspects of your life and your self, add those things to the list, and make a plan to do things differently.
Step by step, declare yourself as a free and independent being, living your truth, committed to your values, and a person of your word. There should never be an excuse for being any different than you declare yourself to be, never a reason to betray your self and your path.
9. Be Steadfast
This year’s list is meant to be life changing. In the past, you’ve likely given up and stopped trying. This year, keep going. If there are setbacks, give yourself a hug, and start again.
Reset your goals (paper is cheap) and go for it.
If you find you’re bogging down, find someone to talk with. Encourage your friends, and accept encouragement from them.
Do not yield to the temptation to give up, to get by, to settle for less than you are and who you are becoming. Not this year, not ever again.
The world needs you to walk your path, step by step, inch by inch, as each person who so commits changes the energy of the world,
just a bit. Giving up when the going gets tough is for wimps and sissies.
Strap it on and get it done.
10. Be a Realist
Remember: No One Is Coming.
No one is going to marry you and sweep you off to Never Never Land. We live in a world where morons strap bombs onto their bodies and kill interesting women and men, maiming in the name of stupid, asinine causes. In a world where power and force is valued more than strength and integrity, being anything less than a realist is a chump’s game.
Realism lies between optimism and pessimism. Just as airy fairy rescue thinking gets us nowhere, lying down and sniveling in fear is equally non-productive.
The realist says, “Here is my world, and it is exactly as weird and nasty as it appears. It is also magnificent and loving. It is exactly as it seems. I can’t change the world . However, how I am in this world is completely my choice.”
You are not forced to join the morons and idiots (lemmings all) in a charge off the cliff. Stuart Wilde, one of my favourite prophets, counsels “walking rapidly in the other direction.” I agree. Walk your own path. Set your own goals and directions, decry the foolishness and madness, and refuse to get sucked into it.
Killing the killers simply means more killing. Build a life of centered, ethical, passionate presence, and invite others to join you.
Abhor violence, and stand your ground. Do not cave in, do not move an inch from what you know to be right… for you.
As Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Think of Lincoln, John & Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Mandela, Steven Biko, and countless other “walkers of this path.” Many died walking, at the hands of “the dark side.” Yet, each touched and shifted the planet, just through the force of their presence.