One Rule to Simplify Your Life

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In my life, there have been two times when I have sold everything I own to move to a new city. Each time I have done this, I end up needing less for my new place. I would ask myself these questions before each purchase: “Do I really need/love this?” “Will I want to move this again?” The more I asked, the less I realized I needed. I adopted simplicity as a lifestyle after the first big move.

I have a 12 month rule: If I haven’t worn it or used it in 12 months, I donate. Chances are, if I haven’t needed the item in a year, I most likely will not find a use for it any time soon.  I have been doing this since 2008 and with very few exceptions, this rule has worked.

The first time I tried simplifying, it was painful. I felt like I was letting go of the most important items I owned, including a large box full of every paper I wrote in college. I had been moving this box around for 5 years, never opening it to re-read what I had wrote. It was just this heavy thing that came with me to every house. When I threw the box and papers into the recycling bin, I felt my heart sink and then I felt lighter. I thought about the room that box took up and the weight I would never have to carry again. It was liberating.

By simplifying, I had made more room for new things to enter and provided myself the space I craved. I’m a collector of experiences and several came up the more I de-cluttered my life. I was able to save money by cutting back. I even said no to some experiences in order to go after the ones that truly moved me. The beauty in simplifying is that you start to go after the things that you really need or love. This approach has brought a richness to my life.

The process of getting rid of stuff is similar to weeding a garden. In order for the healthy plants to grow, the gardener must pull out the weeds or prune dead branches. After the weeds and dead growth have been removed, the plant can deepen its roots and sprout new growth.

Are there things in your life that you are holding onto for no apparent reason? Is there clutter that needs to be organized? Where can you simplify in your life? What things have not been used for more than 12 months?

At first, it will be hard to let go of things that have been held onto for years. Attachment is a source of pain. However, there is freedom in letting go. Visualize the newly cleared space, feel the freedom of simplifying. There are a few more weeks of Spring, the perfect time to take action and remove all that holds you back. Make room for what you really love and what wants to grow.

“Remember this, that very little is needed to make a happy life” -Marcus Aurelius

Rising Above Fear

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I had a recurring nightmare as a child involving rats. In my dream, I would wake up to rats and mice eating my feet. I had been terrified of rodents since before I can remember and flinched at the thought of them. Even squirrels would send shivers up my spine. I babysat a kid once who had 2 pet rats. I felt the surge of anxiety every time I walked by their cage.

Last year, I rose above my fear in Bali. I was in a spa getting a pedicure when all of a sudden a huge rat leaped from the clean towel pile. It scurried across the room and up the wall into a hole in the ceiling; long skinny tail last to get through the hole. I felt myself want to pee, flee, scream or cry. Instead, I took a deep breath and then just sat there staring at the hole in the ceiling, calming myself down.

As I sat there staring, I realized the rat fled in fear. This creature was terrified of me, the woman working and the man who had walked in. I felt the anxious adrenaline dissipate and could not wait to leave and process what I had just realized. After that day, I saw several more rats on the roads, alive and dead. My reaction was numbed.

I don’t particularly enjoy seeing them now, I just feel a difference in my reaction. The anxious fear is gone. My nightmare has been replaced with logic of the rat’s fear of me. I was literally bigger than my fear. The universe directly provided the physical lesson and I consciously agreed to face the fear and learn to overcome.

Recognizing that I am bigger than the thing I feared helped me overcome the anxiety. This can be applied in most cases where fear and anxiety are involved. I let the thing I feared become greater than it actually was and gave it the power. When fear rears its head, it signals me to acknowledge it and try to move forward. This is where bravery steps in and power can be regained. When I harness my bravery, great things happen.

Some questions to ask when fear presents itself are: What fears are you currently dealing with? What can you do to harness your bravery? What is on the other side of your fear (accomplishment, freedom, love, security, knowing the unknown)? How is this fear serving you?

Answer the questions honestly and don’t forget to breath. Fear is a gift and is natural. It is a messenger and when paid attention to, it can reveal valuable lessons.

“Don’t give in to your fears. If you do, you won’t be able to talk to your heart.” -Paulo Coelho

For more information on overcoming fear or coaching past a fear block, please email emily@soulsadventures.com.