Be A Subtractor

“The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don’t.”
― Joshua Becker

The past several years I have written down everything tangible I have discarded, donated, or gifted.  Generally my average for a year hits about 500-600 items.  But this year is different, I am aiming for 1,000.  I am nearly there with 750 items.  Yet this year is different.  I am moving from a four floor house in the UK to an apartment less than 300 square feet in Paris.  Although I will be having a large storage unit, my stuff has caught up with me.

Ever since I read the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I have become great at downsizing my clothing closet.  I know what brings joy and what no longer serves me.  What is difficult is all the other little things that I have shoved to the side to deal with at a later time.  This includes excess paperwork at work I’ve needed to shred.  8 ½ years in one job adds up.  Yet additionally it includes things I never got around to: the holiday cards I never sent, the old computers I never donated, the Halloween costumes I swore I would wear again, and even old gifts friends or family members gave me that I never fully embraced. 

         One interesting side effect has happened with one large purge.  I am literally losing inches in my waistline, not anywhere else on my body, but my waist.  My jeans are loose.  Inches are gone.  Excess baggage of the past has left my body now that I have allowed items to be departed.  

         I am not a pure minimalist.  I call myself a subtractor.  I still have a rainbow colored library that exists at home.  But this brings me comfort, joy, and wisdom.  And I’m okay with it.

         There is beauty to letting go of what no longer serves you or ridding yourself of stuff that you never enjoyed but kept for the guilt of it.  What you are left with are things that make you excited your atmosphere or getting dressed for the day.  Imagine what your home and belongings would feel like if they had space to breath.  

“Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
— William Morris

The Desire Map

“Your life is your art. When you make tough choices in favor of your Soul, you’re making a masterpiece out of your existence.” ― Danielle LaPorte, The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul

Do you ever read a book that’s so inspirational, you have to share it with another?  At the moment, for me that book is The Desire Map.  This came into my life at the perfect time, recommended several times by another creativity coach.  I’ve always been one to set goals, do vision boards, utilize the SMART Technique (Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Time Sensitive), and have accountability partners.  I find I either achieve them or realize I didn’t really value these goals in the first place.  But lately, I’ve been feeling a bit disconnected to goals.  Life is more than achievement.  And this is what I wanted to balance the part of me that likes to achieve and the part of me that wants to reside in the enjoyment of the moment.  Perhaps you may feel the same way at times. 

The Desire Map is a new way of setting goals.  It’s not about going after checking something off a list.  What the author Danielle LaPorte encourages us to do is actually reflect on how do we want to feel.  What are the emotions we ideally want to feel in our bodies and soul?  What does that look like?  What is arising in our five senses to know we are experiencing it?  It’s through focusing on our emotions first, we then can craft the goals we want to achieve for the year.  But you may find that the types of goals you set are not ones that would typically come out of your mouth. 

For example, I was speaking to the individual who recommended the book to me, Dominique.  I shared about a magical moment I had in Paris years ago, that has lingered with me.  After years of obsessing about the film Before Sunset, using aspects of it on my social media accounts, quoting it incessantly, stars aligned one day to manifest this into my life.  I found myself at The Shakespeare & Co. Bookstore (a bookstore featured in the film) at the launch day of the book that was about the history of the store.  Serendipitously I was in Paris at the same time this occurred.  Attendees mostly consisted of contributors, but somehow I was there.  Who also was there was Ethan Hawke, star of the film.  The night was filled with wine, friendship, and serenades of Ethan Hawke to the intimate group.  It was as if I walked into the film set.  The next day I got a tattoo to commemorate this by Antoine de saint-exupéry “Fais de ta vie un reve et d’un reve, une realitie”, which translates to “Make life a dream and the dream a reality.” I told Dominique that Paris has always been magical to me in retrospect, which is part of the reason I have decided to move there.  When I shared this to Dominique, she said, “What if that’s your goal?  Make everyday magical?”  I began to wonder why couldn’t that be a goal?  Wouldn’t that be a successful life if everyday was magical?  And so I read the book to begin to unravel more of what I desired.  

If you are longing to go on a reflective retreat, but cannot at this time.  Listen to the book with a lit candle, under your coziest blanket, and your journal in hand.  Take time to write out answers to the dozens of questions that are shared. There is no need to rush with this.  Let the responses reveal themselves to you.  Try emotions on if they fit how you want to feel.  This is an investment, and you won’t regret it!

“Awareness is realizing that our life could always be better. Growth is doing what it takes to make it better. When we choose the positive over the negative, liberation over repression, truth over illusion, we become real creators.” 
― Danielle LaPorte

Post October Reflections

         October seems to be the most pivotal month where the season shifts from warm balmy sunny summer days to those of the autumn.  We pack away the tank tops, shorts, and flip flops, and embrace denim and sweater weather.  The rest of the months of the year appear to take a gradual approach to change, yet October shines the brightest.

         For some individuals I know, October is their favorite month.  This is not just because Halloween is their most beloved holiday, but they prefer to take time off and embark on staycations during October.  These weeks are not just periods of autumnal moods, but a time of reflection.  They witness change as the leaves morph to bright colors just before they drop to the ground and are reminded they too must shed old versions of themselves to make room for the new.

         Before the busy-ness of the holidays set in, and the push for new year resolutions to be set, we have time to pause and take stock of where we currently reside.  We can harvest all that has planted throughout the year, the goals, the dreams, activities, daily routines and investigate is this how we want the rest of the year to go?  The year can still be pivoted, eight more weeks to navigate closer towards the life you want.