life lessons

Noticing Life

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The other day on a podcast I heard that the host, as part of her daily routine went outside to sit and enjoy nature with her first cup of coffee in the morning. She just sat and noticed things and took some time to meditate on nature. This sounded so glorious and so peaceful. So, the last couple of mornings I have done this. I have decided that every morning possible I will go out with my tea and just sit and observe nature in my backyard garden space. If the weather is rainy, I will pull my chair up to the window where I can still sit and meditate on nature and notice.

Today as I sat noticing I saw that the light comes through the bottom of the fence at a particular time of morning. I noticed that beautiful sunshine comes through the small gaps in the fence boards. I noticed that a very large bird sat on the top branches of a very large tree, the bird looked like the star on a Christmas tree. It had a very loud call as well. As if it were saying “Good morning! I am here!”

I noticed a squirrel running along the narrow top edge of our fence, then it was joined by another squirrel and they chased each other from the fence to a tree, to another tree. What fun they seemed to have as they effortlessly hopped from branch to branch, playing a fun game.

I noticed all of the different sounds the birds made. Everything from a loud squawk, to a morning dove call, to light flute-like twittering from small birds. They all were in a morning concert together, greeting the light of the day, starting their morning with a song.

I noticed the branches with buds of flowers or leaves about to burst into life. I noticed the color contrast of the beautiful trees against the bright blue sky. I noticed the wind rustling the branches and leaves gently in the breeze. Their swishing sounds adding to the morning song.

When was the last time you sat and just noticed? It seemed to me this morning that there is almost a second world out there that we are not always aware of. I second kingdom of animals and nature that we only see in passing out of the corner of our eyes. But it is so very magical when we sit and notice.

Have you noticed life today?

Phone Addiction: Reclaiming my life and days

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Around a week or so ago, an event happened to a friend of mine that changed my life as well. My friend (and accountability partner) was painting her kitchen and had a bucket of water near her when she accidentally dropped her phone in the bucket. She had to dry out her phone for several days, so that meant no phone for her during that time. Curiously, at this same time I was noticing that I was spending way too much time on my phone, especially continually checking email and social media. At the end of the day, or even during the day it would feel as though my brain were scrambled and confused from information overload. It was such a happy accident that my friend went without her phone for a few days, because it was a wake-up call to me that living without a phone, or reducing your time significantly on it can be so, so valuable.

Before this big change which I will tell you about here, I was spending an average of 4-5 hours a day on my phone. I know that some of that was listening to podcasts, however I know a lot of time was wasted checking too many apps too many times in a row. I was shocked at how much time I was spending on my phone, but I noticed I would go back to the same habits. Since I had been exploring the concept of the present moment so much and wondering why we are all so afraid of the present moment, I decided to create a different daily experience to reclaim my days. It is important to note that I am not perfect. At times I really feel like checking in on something, so I may do that, but my habits have gotten so much better over the past few days and the results have been astounding.

First of all, my first few minutes of the day are not spent checking in on anything on my phone. I have started to meditate, then exercise first thing in the morning. I used to use the timer on my phone for meditation but that caused me to launch into checking other things. So, now I use the oven timer for meditation.

My accountability partner and I have cooperated on how many messages we now leave each other per day as far as our progress and things we have learned. The limit on the messages means that we both have a big part of the day that is dedicated to focused work. That is so very important that you have time during your day to really focus and not be distracted by notifications, messages, apps, texts, emails and phone calls. This means report on what is to get done in the morning and then we don’t come back until the afternoon to report on how we have done for the day. This system works great!

I have also set a short amount of time to post on social media for my business which includes Facebook and Instagram. I do quickly check notifications and answer comments/questions. Over the last few days I have met a friend in person for tea, but I have not really looked at a lot of what is going on with people’s lives on Facebook. At the beginning it can feel like maybe you are not in the loop as far as the news with people that you know. However, I feel much more connected to people when I am able to meet with them in person over coffee, tea or a meal. I am making that type of connection a priority right now. I can text, email or call people as well who are long distance. I don’t have to be “in the know” about every detail at every moment because I have found that it really overloads my brain and I don’t have the capacity to be at my best for myself, my business or my family in that scrambled state.

I have noticed that if I have focused work time from 8:30am-11:30am I can accomplish an amazing amount of work. I can do a lot of writing, following up with people, work on my website and more. This is my real creative time and if I keep my brain clear it can really work for me. I have been amazed at how productive such a short work time can be if you really keep focused and on task.

After I have had lots of productive time in the morning I can then enjoy a lunch break, do some projects or chores, do some errands, spend time reading a book and more. I have more free hours to really explore life. The other day I even got out a paint set and painted on some nice multi-media paper and had a relaxing time.

In the evenings I can relax sooner after dinner, chat with my family, have family reading time and more. Limiting the time on my phone has brought me more time, more peace of mind, more focus and more present moment awareness.

I realize that I really was addicted to my phone. I think often when I was checking email and social media was that I was searching for validation, searching for proof that I was enough. I don’t need that because I have the present moment to tell me that I have infinite possibilities to explore in life.

Have you found that you are spending too much time on your phone? Are you checking email and social media too much? What has your experience been with this?

Feel free to comment below or email me at:

trista.signe.ainsworth@gmail.com

Joyful Minimalism: 

If you are ready to explore your things but need weekly/daily support and would like to work with me one on one, feel free to reach out to me by email and I can send you a client survey and set up a call with you. I can work with local clients and long distance clients. 

trista.signe.ainsworth@gmail.com

Nowhere for the Eye to Rest

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Random Items:

The other day I was working with a long distance client in the U.K. and commenting on the videos of her home that she sent me to help her on. Her main areas to work on were her kitchen and her living room. She wanted to spruce them up and learn what items to move, what to de-clutter and how to decorate her space using what she had.

As I looked around her kitchen I noticed that she had some items on top of her kitchen cabinets that she was storing there. Some of the items were in boxes. I couldn’t tell what all of the items were, but I know that they are items that she uses in the kitchen. I asked her if she could perhaps move them to a different area, like the pantry or inside a cabinet because “there is nowhere for the eye to rest.”

By seeing random items on top of cabinets as our eyes move around the room, it creates a bit of unrest, we are unable to find a focal point in the room and it leaves us feeling more stressed. Even though we can get used to items being in random places such as on top of cabinets, there is a hidden stress that is occurring in our environment on a daily basis. Because there is no one focal point for our eyes to rest on we may feel overwhelmed in the rooms in our homes. Our homes can begin to feel more like storage facilities rather than a cozy, peaceful space to live in.

Allowing our Eyes to Rest:

An alternative that allows our eyes to rest is to place a few choice items of a similar size, shape or color on top of the cabinets so that our eyes can rest on those and we find a place of peace and beauty there. Imagine a small collection of 3-5 vases of a similar color, or 3-5 potted plants that add greenery and aliveness to the room. This alternative allows us to take in the beauty of those few things that we have decided to keep and lovingly display instead of viewing our collection of stored items every day.

Action step:

Look around your home and see if your eyes are allowed to rest, or if there are too many items to look at and you feel overwhelmed. Try de-cluttering those items first. Which ones do you need to keep? Do you use them often? With the items you have chosen to keep, where can you store them so that they do get more use? What decorative items do you already have that you can display there instead, or just leave a blank space to enjoy as well. This is a great action step to take with bookshelves and china cabinets with glass doors.

Let me know how you progress with this action step and comment below!

Joyful Minimalism: 

If you are ready to explore your things but need weekly/daily support and would like to work with me one on one, feel free to reach out to me by email and I can send you a client survey and set up a call with you. I can work with local clients and long distance clients. 

trista.signe.ainsworth@gmail.com

Becoming Yourself

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But nothing important, or meaningful, or beautiful, or interesting, or great, ever came out of imitations. What is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. More difficult because there is no zeitgeist to read, no template to follow, no mask to wear. Terrifying, actually because it requires you to set aside what your friends expect, what your family and your co-workers demand, what your acquaintances require, to set aside the message this culture sends, through its advertising, its entertainment, its disdain, and its disapproval , about how you should behave.

…..Look, every day, at the choices you are making, and when you ask yourself why you are making them, find this answer: Because they are what I want, or wish for. Because they reflect who and what I am

—Ana Quindlen from the book Being Perfect

Ana Quindlen’s book “Being Perfect” is the most amazing book that I picked up the other day at the library. It is a very short book, but a very powerful one. In it she talks about letting go of being perfect, how it was such a burden, such a pain and how she emerged into really being herself. It is so beautifully written with such a simple, lovely style. It only takes a few minutes to read, but its spell over you lasts a long time.

Imitations:

I just love the quote above from the book. I had this quote marked with a post-it note and knew I had to write about it before I returned the book to the library. The point she makes about nothing beautiful or meaningful ever came of imitations really struck a chord with me. How many times have we tried to imitate someone “successful” in our lives and it just really fell flat. I believe it was because we were just trying to follow their template to success and we were not being our true, authentic core self. How many times have we unconsciously followed the lead of messages we got when we were children about how they world worked? Those methods do not work either because they are also imitations and often of patterns that do not serve us.

Giving up on being perfect:

As a recovering perfectionist I can say that perfectionism feels physically like a deep pain in my shoulders. I actually remember feeling that during the 4 months that I was working at the coffee shop. I was trying so hard to be perfect in so many ways- working lots of hours and lots of days and still trying to do things at home and stay in touch with people. It all turned into physical pain for me. Now that I am lightening my work load and putting less pressure on myself in so many ways I have not had that shoulder pain much. It is amazing at how you can actually be holding your body in a painful position with perfectionism, and when you begin to let it go, the pain goes as well.

Beginning the work of becoming yourself:

I feel that last year after the coffee shop as well as this year has been the beginning of the process of being myself. I find myself really tuning in to what really lights my heart on fire versus the things that somehow I feel I should do. That doesn’t mean that there is no work involved, it just means that I don’t have to be doing constant activity to find the joy and purpose in my life. I believe that this process is like feeling at home, feeling like you are finally going down the right path, the one you were meant to walk down. This is a continual and ever changing process of realizing who my core, authentic self is and how to go about being her. I believe that learning really goes on forever, so I will explore this for a very long time, it’s the first step of a lovely journey to meet myself.

Do my choices reflect who I am?

I think that this question is one that I need to ask daily. I can take a look at the choices I am making. What am I choosing to work on? Who am I choosing to spend time with? How am I choosing to show up in the present moment? So many great questions to see how I am showing up in the world. Is that who I want to be?

I would love to hear from you on how you are becoming more of yourself. Comment below or send me an email at:

trista.signe.ainsworth@gmail.com

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you!

-Trista