Clear the Clutter

Clear the Clutter

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to move into a new home and take nothing, or at least very little, with you?  I have and that’s prompted by my desire to live clutter free.  The less clutter I have, the less stressed I feel.  It’s just that simple for me.  A clutter free space truly makes me happy.

If you came to my house, you’d see several books about decluttering, organizing, and keeping only those things that spark joy.  I love to clear things out and organize spaces because the payoff for me is truly a sense of peacefulness and clarity.  You might think that I have a home that is completely clear of clutter since this is a topic that is near and dear to my heart, and yet that isn’t true.  Some rooms stay clutter free much of the time, and others manage to get out of control occasionally. Why is that?  Probably because the spaces that get out of control are less visible like spare bedrooms, closets, the basement or the infrequently used dining room table.

Clutter is most likely to build up when life gets busier than normal and I don’t make the time for a regular practice.  Before I know it, I have an overwhelming decluttering job to tackle.  Clearing the clutter works best when I make it a part of my routine around the house, like getting the dirty dishes into the dish washer, vacuuming or doing laundry.  Clutter can make me feel distracted, overwhelmed, and raises my stress level, even if it’s in very subtle ways.  I know that when I declutter, even in the smallest ways, I have quite the opposite reaction.  I feel happy, honestly almost giddy at times when the things piling up on the kitchen table, or thrown haphazardly in a closet are straightened up.  Years ago, I worked for a large financial institution and a few close colleagues would joke with me that they knew when I was working on a project that was very challenging when they saw me standing in front of my desk with a very focused look, throwing papers away, and clearing off my desk with a passion.   I seemed to do that when I really needed to focus intently on a difficult task.  Taking a few minutes to clear my desk off completely, and get rid of things that weren’t needed allowed me to clear my mind and concentrate on the one priority I had without being weighed down by the distractions sitting on my desk.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with Marie Kondo and her books on tidying up.  Kondo states that to successfully declutter, we should ask if each item in our home “sparks joy”, and if it does not truly spark joy, to thank it for being in our life and let it go.  I have found that the “spark joy” test to be very profound.  You may think that there are lots of things that you need in your home that do not spark joy, but you still need them.  At first, I thought that too, and then realized that even small things like my favorite knives in the kitchen, my amazing vacuum, or fluffy towels in the bathroom can spark joy.    If you’d like to check out Marie Kondo in action with some of her clients, you may enjoy her Netflix series called Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.  Her practice promotes taking everything out of closets, drawers, etc. all at one time and item by item deciding whether they are worthy of keeping.  If you can manage that, you’ll soon be on your way to being 100% clutter free.  However, I use a combination of ideas that work for me, some pieces of her practice as well as tips and tricks from other sources that work well.

Getting started can be the toughest part of decluttering.  It helps to have a clear vision of your clutter free space.  What’s that look like and how will that make you feel?  Once you have some clarity around your motivation for decluttering, here are a few ideas to help you get started.

First, get a bag for trash and a box for donations.  Set a timer on your phone for 20 minutes.  Go room to room finding things that can either be thrown away or donated and fill that bag and box.  You may be amazed at the progress you’ll have in just 20 minutes.  And, there is nothing magical about the timeframe – do it for 10 minutes or 45 minutes, whatever works for you.  Just keep it simple and manageable.  Then, celebrate that success by throwing out the trash and putting the donation box in your car to deliver to your local charity.  This small step will start some momentum for you, and you’ll feel good about doing a bit more.

Start small – perhaps you clean out the spice cabinet, throwing out the expired items and organizing the remaining bottles, all in one place.  And, think about the decluttering based on categories, for example, books, gift wrap/bags and cards,  files, cleaning supplies, seasonal decorations.  These things may be scattered in several rooms and when you gather them all into one space, it’s easier to create a good space for them and find them easily when you need them.  Having one place to look for each type of item can reduce stress, and eliminate the need to purchase things that you already have somewhere!  Once you have tackled a few smaller tasks, you’ll most likely have the energy and enthusiasm to declutter larger areas for longer periods of time.

Imagine clearing out clutter to bring more joy and peace into your life.  Visualizing that may make the work of clearing your clutter feel more purposeful and impactful.  On Wednesday, July 29th Wholistic Woman Retreats will be hosting a virtual event called Clear the Clutter.  As one of the partner coaches at WWR, I’ll be facilitiating the event and talking about clearing out what I call life clutter.  We’ll talk about more than the clutter in our physical spaces.  We’ll also consider the emotional, mental and spiritual life clutter that could be holding us back or making us feel stuck. You’ll create a customized plan for yourself that will help you to design a life that is peaceful and full of joy. I hope you will join us on July 29!

Design an Autumn Self-Care Plan & Become More Resilient

Design an Autumn Self-Care Plan & Become More Resilient

Design an Autumn Self-Care Plan & Become More Resilient

We all know that there are many benefits of an effective self-care plan. It can make you feel happier, more productive, more engaged and connected, and can reduce the negative effects of stress on your well-being. But did you know that a self-care plan can help you build your resilience muscle? Yes, it can. Studies have shown that when we intentionally take breaks from challenges to refresh ourselves, we come back to those challenges more focused and more energized. The autumn season provides quite a few unique opportunities for self-care.

In Maryland, autumn can feel like a quick season, so I like to soak in all the crisp, cool, colorful, savory treasures of this season. A good self-care plan allows me to take a break from my usual activities, and just be present to enjoy myself, relax, and take time to care for my emotional and physical health. I like to think of self-care as a way to keep my happiness tank full.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to embrace some autumn self-care.

Have some fall fun with a friend
Our furry friends really know how to be present and have fun! They love to live in the moment – they are the ultimate mindfulness teachers!

Enjoy some early and relaxed holiday shopping
I like to keep my eyes open for holiday gift purchases, and perhaps buy a few treasures at a fall festival, while drinking apple cider and eating pumpkin frosted cookies. Then my holiday shopping is less rushed and my gift giving isn’t a stressful event.

Enjoy some football
As I’m writing this, I’m also watching the Ravens/Steelers football game, drinking some pumpkin spiced tea. As a child, my house was always filled with the sounds and sights of football, so fall brings with it the happy memories of football games of the past, and today’s fun with friends and family.

Fuel your body with all of the season’s yumminess
I love to roast vegetables, and the autumn season is perfect for that. Butternut squash is one of my faves! If you have a spiralizer, you could make your own squash and zucchini “zoodles,” which is part of my “get more fit in fall” game plan. Soups, especially butternut squash, stews and chili also make me feel warm inside!  And, of course, there is all the yumminess of Thanksgiving. I like to spend some time in October looking for new and interesting healthy recipes to add into the menu alongside the usual favorites like mashed potatoes, stuffing, pumpkin, and pecan pies.

Take a warm bath and include the scents of the season
I love to relax in a nice warm bathtub filled with bubbles, listening to some relaxing music, with a hot cup of pumpkin spiced tea.

Take your exercise outside with an autumn walking meditation
Take a cool walk through the beautiful colored leaves as they blow down the street and just tune into all the beauty around you.

Bring more light into your life
As the days start to get shorter, add some light inside your home. I have a few pumpkins and gourds that are lit from within and I place them throughout the house so as the sun goes down, my home still feels bright and cheery. Nice candles or a fire burning in your fireplace can also bring that cozy warm feeling into your home.

Start a gratitude journal practice
Autumn is a great time to create a daily gratitude practice.  As Thanksgiving approaches, make a list of all the things in your life that you are thankful for and then tell each person you see on Thanksgiving what makes you especially grateful for them.

There are lots of relaxing, fun and refreshing self-care options. Create your own autumn self-care practices and then enjoy the results of your strengthened resilience!  Happy Autumn – take great care of yourself!

Today’s blog was written by WWR Partner Coach, Donna Kettell.  Donna is a certified professional coach (CPC) and a master practitioner in energy leadership (ELI-MP). Her certifications were earned through The Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC), which is accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF).

Design the Life You Intend to Live!

Design the Life You Intend to Live!

Design the Life You Intend to Live!

Isn’t it interesting how one experience in your life can provide new perspective in a totally different area of your life? Several years ago, when my home was celebrating its 21st birthday, I decided it was time for a much needed kitchen renovation project. Over that next twelve months, I spent time thoughtfully planning, researching options, shopping for inspiration, creating a budget, interviewing design consultants, and imagining exciting possibilities. It was fun, and at times overwhelming and a little exhausting. There were a few setbacks and a few challenges that caused me to hit the reset button. There were so many decisions and I wanted to get it right.  Finally the time arrived to say goodbye to the old kitchen, which surprisingly was a little bittersweet. After all, a lot of life had been lived in that kitchen with lots of memories. Several weeks later, that kitchen was brand new from the ceiling to the floor and everything in between. The transformation felt amazing and the changes brought me such joy!

design lifeOne day as I sat in my family room looking into my lovely new kitchen space, I realized that the coaching process is similar to this interior design process in so many ways. We are all our own interior design projects. Every day, we have the opportunity to create the blueprint for the life we intend to live. The word intend is very meaningful. We are creating the life we are living each day, whether we are doing so consciously or unconsciously without any thought. However, when we live with intention, we plan and create a clear purposeful vision for our lives.

Designing the life we intend to live takes thoughtful contemplation, and it is a daily personal growth process. Just as I experienced with my kitchen design project, there is also a lot of work that goes into our personal growth. It can feel a bit uncomfortable at times, and it may feel uncertain.  But, with the right tools to guide you, you can create a process to allow your life to transform, one design piece at a time. And just like a simple coat of fresh paint, or a few new throw pillows in your home, each small step can bring you closer to the life you want.

On the evening of Wednesday, June 27, 2018, I will be facilitating our Be Redesigned event.  We’ll all explore the different areas of our lives and assess where we may want to redesign some pieces. At the end of the evening, you should feel empowered to take your new customized interior design skills and use them in your daily life to constantly create the life you intend to live! I hope you will join us. Bring your inner interior designer with you. This fun night is all about you creating the best version of yourself!

Today’s blog was written by WWR Partner Coach, Donna Kettell.  Donna is a certified professional coach (CPC) and a master practitioner in energy leadership (ELI-MP). Her certifications were earned through The Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC), which is accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF).

Inspired by Spring

I am writing this blog on a very blustery day when there is still a remnant of snow on the lawn.  Despite that, I can see that spring is determined to arrive. With the lingering snow, I have also spotted one of my very hardy red tulip plants starting to make its way above ground.  That little plant was a gift for a Mother’s Day long ago from my awesome son, and its reappearance surprises me and makes me smile every year about this time.

tulip, spring, winter, snow, garden

As I look out the window,  I also see one of the bushes in my backyard with the slightest sign of new light green leaves.  All that new life makes me happy, and gives me a feeling of joy and hope.  Spring is such a good reminder that no matter how hard or cold the winter has been, literally or figuratively, spring will always reappear in its full glory.  Spring seems to be nature’s way of telling us “hang in there, it’s all going to be OK!”, and I love that feeling of renewal that the new season carries with it.

spring, nature, reflection

Spring usually has a way of getting me motivated to walk more, eat healthier, take time to enjoy the outdoors, and maybe even do some spring cleaning. What is spring telling you? If life has brought some challenges recently, what would you like the spring season to bring your way? I love the change of seasons. It always feels like we get a bit of a clean slate when the weather changes, and I take advantage of that and try to do some personal self-assessment. I ask myself, where am I right now, and what would l like to do, be, and feel in this new season that is about to start?

spring, nature, reflection, quote

I’ll encourage you to take a little time to mediate on that for yourself and think about all you are grateful for from this past winter.  Let the challenges teach you what they may, and then make the commitment to spring forward and visualize what could be next for you! Just imagine, like my sweet little tulip plant, spring could surprise you in the most wonderful way!

Happy Spring Visualizing, Everyone!

Today’s blog was written by WWR Partner Coach, Donna Kettell.  Donna is a certified professional coach (CPC) and a master practitioner in energy leadership (ELI-MP). Her certifications were earned through The Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC), which is accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF).

The Perfect Gift – Let it BE YOU!

The Perfect Gift – Let it BE YOU!

The holidays are here and they can bring lots of fun with family and friends, perhaps baking your favorite Christmas cookies, or decorating a beautiful tree!

At the same time, the holidays can sometimes be stressful, expensive, and leave you feeling very short on time to take care of yourself.  I might have just the remedy this year. Consider the idea of giving the gift of YOU rather than a material gift.  This can really be an especially nice idea when the whole family or several friends join in. 

What’s the benefit of doing this?  Well, there are several – you can save some money by giving someone the gift of service and your time. And you can save some time over the holiday season when your gift is “delivered” in 2018! Remember, you will have more available time after the holidays are over.  Last but not least, you can give a unique gift, one that only you could ever give — YOU!   Give your time to a family member or friend in a way that’s uniquely meaningful for them. 

Here are a just few ideas:

  • Be the gift of helpfulness to your elderly grandmother by offering to do her grocery shopping or other errands for the winter months.
  • Give the gift of a sanity break to your wonderful neighbors by offering to babysit for their small children so they can go out to dinner on their own.
  • Give your sweet parents a handmade gift certificate good for one home cooked meal at your home once a week for the year, so you can spend more time with them.
  • Offer to clean out your sister’s closet for her, since you are good at that and she desperately wants the help!
  • Offer to sit with a friend as they tackle a task they are dreading –  just the company can make the task less daunting!
  • Tell a neighbor that your gift to them is to shovel all of their snow during January, February, and March.
  • Offer your busy brother and his wife the gift of a much-needed break by driving their kids to all of their sports practices for a month.
  • Tell your good friend who just lost her job that you’ll create a fabulous new résumé with her and show her how to create a LinkedIn profile.

The key ingredient in this process is to really imagine what your gift recipient would wish for that would add more joy, relaxation, or just a great big smile on their face. Your gift will leave the recipient knowing that you really thought about them and what they truly needed in their life right now. When your gift is received, your kindness will be remembered far longer than any material gift you might have given.  

There are so many fun possibilities, and none of them cost you any time or money over the holidays. You save money, take time to do something nice for others when you have more available time, and wind up feeling pretty blessed in the process! 

Happy holidays everyone!  Enjoy the season of giving YOU!

Today’s blog was written by WWR Partner Coach, Donna Kettell.  Donna is a certified professional coach (CPC) and a master practitioner in energy leadership (ELI-MP). Her certifications were earned through The Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC), which is accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF).

One Small Step….The Power of Momentum

Have you set an intention to do something in your life but feel overwhelmed with all that is required to see that intention realized? Often it seems that you couldn’t possibly have enough time to accomplish this intention and if you’re like me, you may even find yourself mindlessly binge watching a Netflix series instead of tackling this thing that needs to get done because you don’t think you have the energy for the work ahead of you! Sound familiar?

OK, maybe you don’t indulge in a binge watching marathon at all, but you probably have your own personal way of avoiding overwhelming things that you aren’t sure how to tackle effectively. And I’m not just talking about a task like cleaning out a messy closet or losing 10 pounds. It might be something much more significant, like improving a relationship in your life, finding a job that’s aligned with your life purpose, or taking steps to change your life in a significant way.

What do you do when you are trying to avoid getting that significant task, project, or intention addressed?

Focus on momentum not perfectionAt times, I have heard myself saying, “Why try to start tackling this mountain of a goal if I can’t imagine getting this completely done today, or sometime soon?” Maybe that thought is driven by some level of perfectionism. When that bubbles up, I remind myself it doesn’t have to be 100% complete, I just need to make progress today or create momentum—that’s a word that really resonates with me. When I wake up in the morning, my mind often runs down a mental checklist of all of the things that I should be getting done. As that mental exercise plays out, I find my energy draining because I know that I have so much more on my to do list than the time I have in the day. I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

To raise my energy level, I often do a few simple things that allow me to feel as though I have accomplished something small before attempting to jump into that bigger endeavor. Perhaps it’s making my bed before I go downstairs for breakfast. As I type these words that feels a bit silly, but I have to admit there are days I don’t make my bed at all because I think that there just isn’t time for that. There are just too many other things that need to get done.

P.S.—I know I’m in desperate need of perspective when I tell myself this! Making my bed takes 30 seconds. And do you know what those 30 seconds do for me? They create MOMENTUM for my day! It makes me feel good that I got something done and it makes me feel good that my bedroom looks neat and organized and prompts me to tackle the next bigger task with renewed energy. It’s not the act of making the bed that works (or whatever small thing you do), it’s the fact that any small step can create momentum that launches you into a more productive day.

What small thing could give you that positive energy boost for your day?

secret of changeSo many things can create momentum. Some of my favorite things include mediation, prayer, visualization, and positive affirmations. All of these can quickly shift your mindset and put you on a positive trajectory for your day. Other simple things can also work to create a shift in my perspective. Music is a huge energy shifter for me. Great songs like “Beautiful Day” by U2, “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, “Dream On” by Aerosmith, or another oldie but goodie like “Ain’t No Mountain (High Enough)” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (turned up loudly with dancing involved, of course) never fail to lift me up or remind me that nothing is impossible!

What is one small thing that you might be able to do each day to start your positive momentum?

Once you get the momentum moving for a good day, what is one small thing you can do specifically to get momentum for your important intention?

create momentumSomething that has worked well for me is to set the stopwatch on my iPhone and tell myself that I am setting this for 30 minutes, and for that time I am going to exclusively work on this task that I don’t really want to tackle. I give myself permission to stop working on it after the 30 minutes no matter how much or how little is done. The only requirement I give myself is that I work with laser focus for the full 30 minutes. I often feel so good about the progress I made because I focused 100% on my important intention and have a sense of accomplishment from that, that I keep going. That’s momentum and it’s critical to keep yourself moving forward!

Today, think about challenging yourself about whether you are carving out the time to focus on the thing that is most important to you right now. Give some thought to what inspires and motivates you. Start your day with those things and build on that motivation to keep momentum throughout your day. You may find that your intentional daily small steps create the momentum you need to keep climbing whatever mountain you need to climb!


Today’s blog was written by WWR Partner Coach, Donna Kettell.  Donna is a certified professional coach (CPC) and a master practitioner in energy leadership (ELI-MP). Her certifications were earned through The Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC), which is accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF).