Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Search the past to enjoy the present!

December 10, 2008

I have noticed that the current financial crisis is causing everyone to think more sensibly and creatively about how to celebrate the holiday season. In the glory days of excess, most people had no idea what the holiday cost them until the credit card bills started rolling in. Today the air waves and the newspapers are filled with creative ways to save and still participate. With a wealth of creative gift giving and holiday party ideas out there, my thoughts today turn to holidays past. What about you?

Do you find that no matter how 'flush with bucks' you are at this time of year, there is a feeling of lack deep in your Soul? Why not take a few minutes (a nice hot bath would be the ideal place) to think about the celebrations of your childhood. Were they always happy? Did your mother decorate the house to excess? Did your dad complain all month about the money being spent? Or was it your Uncle Bert who ruined everything with his wicked tongue on Christmas Eve? I had a dear friend whose mother meant well but her caustic tongue cut everyone to shreds on Christmas Day. Whether it was in the distant past or resides in the present, is there something about the season that makes you sad?

When I ask people to check the past for clues, some think I am suggesting they assume guilt over the current set of circumstances. This is never my intention. Guilt, fear and shame have no place in zen organizing. What surrounds us are the effects or results of causes we have set in motion. If we understand where we have been wounded or how we made less than great choices, we are empowering ourselves to set new causes in motion...and this will lead to a new set of physical, mental and emotional results. As one of my favorite teachers once said: 'There are no victims, only volunteers.'

This blog applies to our lives whether at work or at home. As you become acquainted with what I call 'zen organizing,' you will see that the basics apply to everything. What changes are the items we deal we are concerned with how we celebrate this busy, beautiful time of year. Tomorrow you might turn your attention to your files and the next day be concerned with how your kitchen cupboards are arranged. We will apply the same tools to all of our physical challenges. And in zen organizing the first step is a nod to the past.

At the end of "One Year to an Organized Life," I tell the story of my best friend who, in the darkest hour of my life, showed me how to apply my organizing techniques to the battle against cancer that was before me. I can never repay her. What I try to do in my work is 'pay it forard.' What worked in my life will work for you! It's now 6 1/2 years since the diagnosis. A survivor at the time said to me: 'Right now you feel like cancer is doing things to you. One day you will see that it's doing things through you and for you.' No kidding!

My wish for you this evening is that you free yourself from the sorrows of the past. Today is a gift. It's rich and beautiful no matter what challenges you face. Let's do it together. I've got your hand. Are you ready to try?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Shop with your head, not with your heart!

December 8th, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...and Chanukah, and Kwaanza and...whatever end of the year holiday you wish to honor by purchasing gifts for loved ones, friends and colleagues.

Here is THE most important thing you need to decide before you ever set foot in a store or make out a gift list: how much money can you spend? It's critical that you be realistic. I encourage you to shop using your left brain, not your emotions. The latter will find you making purchases that will come back to haunt you in January when your credit card bills start arriving in your mail box. The latter will give a false boost to your low self esteem as folks open the gifts you can't afford and gush over your 'generosity.'

Here's an exercise I offer in my New York Times best seller "One Year to an Organized Life.'

1. Take an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper and write your budget in the upper right hand corner. Remember this is the maximum amount you can spend for gifts. You may also need money for holiday entertaining, travel, gift wrap and ribbon etc. Factor those expenses in when you make your gift giving budget.

2. Make a list of everyone for whom you'd like to purchase a gift. Write down at least two gift ideas for each person as well as the total you feel comfortable spending.

3. At the end, add up the amounts you have allocated for everyone. Expect to be shocked: 9 times out of 10 it's much greater than your budget total.

What to do?

We need to go back and start eliminating some people from the list. Maybe this is the year these good folks get a letter of appreciation from you rather than a gift.

You also want to get creative! This is truly where the fun starts. Here are some non traditional ways to honor someone.

A. Go to a charity like Oxfam and purchase some chickens for a poor family in your friend's name. You will receive a gift certificate. Of course it doesn't have to be a chicken...cows, pigs and other animals are also available.

B. Check out the class list from your local Community College. How about some dance lessons for that special couple instead of a tired old tie and a pair of earrings?

C. Food prices are high, right? What about starting a tiny herb garden for a friend who loves to cook? You won't need to purchase a kit. Go to your local nursery and pick up the supplies yourself.

What would you add to this list?

I'll be back tomorrow. In the mean time start work on your list!


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June 2009, in China

June 2009, in China
At the Summer Palace outside Beijing

About Me

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I will always be grateful I grew up in Brooklyn, New York.  It was a rich atmosphere that introduced me to different races, creeds and professions.  It seemed that anything was possible if you were willing to work hard to achieve your goals.

I'm a yogi which means that my spiritual path is that of yoga principles that have been handed down for over 5000 years. Yoga is an ancient philosophy based on the Gita, the sutras of Patanjali and yes, the Bible. The postures are a key element as is meditation. We honor all paths.

I got my first dog when I was 6 years old after a full year of begging.  She was a collie and her name was Queenie.  As an adult I've had 2 golden retrievers.  A female named Miss Katie who came into my life when she was 3 months old and an ancient male golden who came to me when he was 15.  I'd like to have a Great Dane next but we'll see what the universe has in store.

I've been organizing clients for over 24 years and writing about it for over ten.