Monday’s Meditation: On This New Day

Monday, December 3, 2018

Today is a new day.

I’ll say that again.

Today is a new day.

Today, you are not just starting back where you left off last night. When you blinked your eyes open in the darkness, you restarted. You left behind everything that happened yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that.

The heaviness of the past is a weight you processed in your sleep. It escaped through your dreams like vapors. 

Today is an open field for you to play in. (Remember recess? Today is like that.) Today, there is nothing but limitless green stretching out in front of you, and every blade of grass stands tall; unbent. Today, you own the field. You wear the whistle. You pick the game. You make up its rules.

Today, all the ways you once fell short are erased. The loop you had going yesterday–the one about your impatience, and your thigh dimples, and your crappy shoes–hasn’t started. Today, it doesn’t need to start.

Today, you can proclaim to yourself all the ways you’re amazing. “You’re amazing!” You can tell your reflection.

Today, you’ll remind yourself how well you’re doing, all things considered. You’ll think about all the forces working in your favor. 

Today, you will be excellent, and you won’t apologize so much for every little perceived slight.

Today, you are already a champion. Already the best. Already the front of the pack in the race that is being run by only you. Today, you are what no other person can be.

Today, so long as you practice compassion for yourself and for others, you will be considered a success.

Today is your chance to set new personal records.

Today is your chance to put your resolve to the test.

Today, you are free to say yes when you mean yes and no when you mean no.

Today, you are better than before.

Today, you are more aware, more capable, and more equipped.

Today, you are showing up and paying attention.

Today, you are thankful for the miracle that is today, a new day.

Today, you promise to let yourself be new, too.

Designing An Organizing System That Sticks

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Just as not having enough of a clearly defined system can be the quickest path to chaos, having an overly complicated system can similarly derail even the best intentions.

I once knew a woman who operated a clothing resale business. To keep track of her ever-growing inventory, she instituted a system wherein every garment received a bag, which was tagged with a code number, which went onto a particular shelf. Now, if hers was a standard clothing retail operation, this might have been a sound system. That level of detail is necessary when tracking inventory.

But small retailers don’t usually carry 400 unique SKUS. They carry closer to 40. 

a key tip to designing an organizing system that sticks.

Image credit: Merci via Just One Suitcase

 

She quickly realized that her hyper-detailed system was not sustainable; she never had enough time to keep up with incorporating new items into the system, it was far too complicated for anyone but her to do, meaning that it wasn’t a task she could delegate to her assistant. More over, it wasn’t actually helping her to drive sales. No one was coming to her asking whether she had a vintage Diane Von Furstenberg sweater dress in an abstract geometric, black and white print and jersey material circa 1970, size 10. They would ask for a dress in their size. 

What was needed was a much Simpler system that required less minute sorting and more reliance on categories–clothing grouped together by type, color, and size.

This is one example of many I’ve seen wherein people’s efforts to get and stay organized fail because doing so requires a completely unrealistic amount of work. 

File folders are commonly created to be way too small in scope, with a folder made for every specific heading (think: Alaska Airlines, and Delta, and American Airlines, and Jetblue, and on, instead of just Milage Accounts). This can lead to overcrowded file cabinets, confusion about correct location, and then, eventually, a giving up, as it all becomes too complicated.

a key tip to designing an organizing system that sticks.

Image credit: Style At Home

 

Laundry, too, is often made to be overly complicated, with such extensive delineation between what constitutes a load, what soap to use with each type of load, and what water temperature to use with each. Socks are segregated; everything with the exception of t-shirts must be ironed; towels cannot be combined with bedsheets, bathing suits cannot be washed with beach towels, and on and on. No one can seem to pull off the feat of cleaning the clothing properly. And so the laundry piles high.

(For reference, there are three very clear rules regarding laundry in my house, which David has come to know like his middle name: 1. Use maximum soap, 2. When in doubt, wash everything on cold, 3. To be safe/avoid divorce, hang dry everything, except the things for which you have been given specific permission to dry.) 

a key tip to designing an organizing system that sticks.

Image credit: IKEA

 

I love that people actually love and crave structure, that we do better when we establish rules for ourselves and our household, that we live more freely with more self-selected discipline. And I admire the goal of designing and executing detailed systems. I also know the importance of designing a system that yields to reality. I know that a system that requires that necessary 5% less upkeep has a 95% higher chance of maintaining over time. 

We all have a limited number of hours in the day. As we grow, our lives usually become fuller and busier, leaving us less time for the riff raff of the unnecessary, and, some may say sadly, less time for the overly vigilant systems. It is what it is.

Better to have the toys put away than to not ask the kids to clean up because they won’t be able to successfully put each toy back into the respective bin. Ya falla?

a key tip to designing an organizing system that sticks.

Image credit: Jamie Lynn Sigler via My Domaine

 

If you’re the owner of a very detailed system that’s mysteriously, against all your preferences and ambitions, devolved into chaos, ask yourself: is my system designed with reality in mind? Are my standards unmatched with my current free time? Would I and my family be better equipped to maintain order were I to Simplify the system?

Report back. 

10 Host Gifts That Are Practically Guaranteed To Please (And Thank You)

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The holiday hosting season is now un-officially officially underway. Dinner parties will be held and tablecloths will be unfurled and guest room closets will be emptied (or pushed to one corner).

And lovely, well-meaning guests will show up NOT empty-handed. They’ll come bearing candles that their hosts can’t stand the smell of, and platters that their hosts wouldn’t, and didn’t, select for themselves. They’ll bring beautifully wrapped bundles of hand soap and lotion, of specialty vinegars from recent trips, jars of homemade jam, and hot chocolate mix, and my goodness lord of seasoning, they will bring the salts. Truffle and vanilla-infused and rosemary. Salts from Italy and France and their local grocer down the street.

There is no travesty in gifting, even if it’s gifting an unnecessary or unwanted item. The sentiment is the thing, truly. But if we can avoid clutter-prone items, that would be preferable, we agree?

Well, in the spirit of hosting and gifting, and with my personal, firsthand experience of the items in people’s homes, the ones they want to keep, and the ones they forgot existed, I’ve put together my best suggestions for winning host and hostess gifts.

Naturally, there is no one size fits all. But in my experience, sticking to the following gifts is advisable:  

10 Host Gifts That Are Practically Guaranteed To Please (And Thank You)

1. Kitchen box set  Dishes, but make it fashion. (Set Includes copper ball, beech wood dish brush, sponge, and cotton-linen tea towel.)

2. Magic silicone dishwashing gloves with scrubbers Because clean up is compulsory, and these are downright awesome.

3. Multipurpose Silicone Pot Holders, Trivets, Jar Openers, Spoon Rests Because in my experience, people’s hot pads and oven gloves are in the saddest possible state of affairs. 

4. Baker stripe dish towels Ditto the above explanation, but substitute dish towels for hot pads and oven gloves. 

5. Copper watering can Because people are out here watering their plants with the jenkiest possible vessels, which are desperately in need of being upgraded. (Pair with plant, like orchid, or basil.) 

6. “The Martini” Emotional Detox bath soak Because holiday hosting = stress, man.  

7. Himalayan salt mortar and pestle Because gifting salts makes sense, but has been thoroughly exhausted.

8. gold chip clips Because not every one decants every possible pantry item into a canister, and the standard chip clips in people’s rotation are as depressingly pedestrian as they come. (Throw in a bag or two of a treat for which you know your host has a penchant.)

9. French kitchen marble lazy susan Because marble goes with every thing, and lazy susans are always a good idea. 

10. Sweeper and funnel dustpan Because elevated cleaning instruments are things people rarely splurge on for themselves, but are very often happy to receive. (Because who doesn’t want a lovelier version of a broom and dustpan??)