West Coast Christian Writers Conference this Friday!

West Coast Christian Writers Conference this Friday!

The first-ever West Coast Christian Writers Conference starts Friday in Fremont, California, where I am the keynote speaker!

Whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, the place where your experience intersects with fearless storytelling is where you and the reader finally connect. Join me on an inspirational journey to fearlessly put the writer’s heart on the reader’s page.

Walk-in registrants are welcome. The walk-in fee is $149, and you can either bring your own (Saturday) lunch or grab a bite at a nearby restaurant.

For more information: http://westcoastchristianwriters.com  ?#?WCCWriters

 

5 Ways You Can Win the Clutter War (Without Feeling Totally Overwhelmed)

5 Ways You Can Win the Clutter War (Without Feeling Totally Overwhelmed)

 

5 Ways to Win the Clutter Free War (Without Feeling Overwhelmed) by Cheri Gregory

Many of you resonated with last Monday’s “When Facing Your Clutter Feels Too Overwhelming.”

• “This blog post is so me and I didn’t even know it. I am getting ready to move and it is totally debilitating. I can’t do a thing because I get so overwhelmed!” – Kelly

• “It’s Monday morning and I have clutter and I’m escaping to FB instead of dealing with my issues… this hit home for me in so many ways you couldn’t imagine. Thank you!” – Barbara

• “Can I just tell you that I LOVE you! I am going to print out your post today and frame it (and I shared it with my readers too!). You are a blessing Girl!” – Kimberlee

 

What Awareness and an HSP Plan Look Like in Action

Today, five members of Kathi’s Clutter Free launch team are here to share with you their real-life examples of what works for them as HSPs.

Notice how each woman has (1) awareness of her own needs and (2) a specific plan to meet them so she stays out of the “OVERWHELMED ZONE”!

Luna Leverett

When I was sixteen, my boyfriend bought me a real rabbit fur jacket. I lived in San Jose, California where it was too warm for me to wear the jacket.

But I could not let it go. I felt soooo badly for the rabbits that gave their lives. It took me nearly twenty years to give that jacket away. Why? Holding on to it wasn’t reviving the rabbits!

Whatever I feel, I FEEL in a BIG way. In this case, I had extreme emotions towards an item I’d been given. I felt unnecessary guilt and responsiblity.

To help me let go of things sooner, I’m learning to quesiton: “Did I ask for this?” If the answer is “no,” I’m free to let go.

 

Tabitha Dumas

As a Highly Sensitive Person, I have a hard time deciding what to keep and what to get rid of. Every item carries with it a memory, emotion, or attachment.

To make it easier to part with my stuff, I’m focusing on the “why” behind our decluttering efforts: to make more room for what matters most.

So now when I’m making a “keep or toss” decision, I ask myself, “Will this item get me closer to what matters most or detract from it?” Immediately, the decision becomes a lot more clear.

 

Pattie Reitz

I have been actively working on managing my stuff in the nine years since our family began our active duty military journey. With semi-frequent moves, decluttering becomes an annual necessity.

For me, getting rid of outgrown children’s clothing and toys is easy.
But getting rid of sentimental items? Far more difficult.

I feel emotional every time I have to go through my belongings. Everything has a feeling and a memory attached. Unread books are unopened treasures. Boxes of notes and cards are my heart on paper.

I’ve learned to only keep the cards and notes that I will reread. I tape them directly in my journal or place them in my encouragement file.

It’s truly a process: one that’s yielding lighter results.

 

Merri Lewis

Shatter! Crash! Bang!

My 9-year-old’s plan to simulate the sound of breaking glass by dumping a bucket of Legos on our tile kitchen floor is highly effective.

The noise makes me jump as the high pitched sounds assault my ears and the association with broken glass push me near panic.

Then my baby girl runs yelling about another outfit she wants to try on. Off come her clothes as she struggles to put it on “ALL BY MYSELF.”

It’s so tempting to collapse on the couch, exhausted from the sensory assault I’ve just experienced. Or open my laptop to Facebook to help me block it all out.

When the household noises get overwhelming, I put on noise canceling headphones or calming music and encourage the kids to play with quiet things.

 

Terri Goehner

“For two years, I had a stack of paperwork sitting on my kitchen counter…always threatening to topple over as I continued to stack up paperwork.

Every time I saw this pile, I felt almost claustrophobic, a sense of paper overload. So one day, I took an afternoon and went through the pile: throwing out, shredding, and filing.

My new habit is to handle paper once, so I file as I go along. In fact, the paper never even makes it to the kitchen counter anymore. It goes straight to the appropriate location: file cabinet or trash or recycle bin.

For the past 1.5 years, I’ve had a clean kitchen counter and peace of mind.

 

Clutter Free Recap:

1. Ask, “Did I ask for this?” If the answer is “no,” feel free to let go!

2. Focus on the “why” behind your decluttering efforts: to make more room for what matters most.

3. Keep only the cards and notes that you will reread. Tape them directly in your journal or place them in an encouragement file.

4. Put on noise canceling headphones or calming music when household noise gets too loud. Encourage the kids to play with quiet things.

5. Handle paper once. Send it straight to the appropriate location: file cabinet or trash or recycle bin.

 

Remember: Every HSP is unique. Start your own lists so you can become aware of what happens for you…and what works for you!

 

Wonder if you, too, might be an HSP?  Subscribe to Cheri’s blog and receive your FREE “HSP–Who, Me?” PDF.

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Are you ready to be Clutter Free? Start the 21-Day Clutter Free challenge! Sign up now!

For Those of Us with “Open Garage Door” Envy, There is Hope with Marci Seither

For Those of Us with “Open Garage Door” Envy, There is Hope with Marci Seither

When people have asked the question: “What is one thing you wish you could change about yourself?”, my first thought, after a slightly faster metabolism, is being organized. When I drive through a neighborhood and see someone’s garage door open with bikes hung from rafter hooks, tools lined up on hangers, and assorted bins of sporting equipment, I have an urge to stop and ask if I could take a selfie in front of it…just to fanaticize about what my world would look like if a magic cleaning fairy waved her magic squeegee in my direction.

Organized people don’t use saran wrap on their Tupperware, only to find a stack of lids in some random craft box three moves later…after the said Tupperware has been used as a pet dish and eventually tossed.

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One time, I bought a huge three-ring “everything you could ever need to know about being organized” binder. It was obviously written by someone who made Martha, from the Bible, look like a total slacker. The book was full of master copies addressing everything from running a B & B out of your bonus room to keeping track of your child’s fluoride treatments, and the care and nurture of beekeeping. The big selling point was that it came with “a money back guarantee”! If the book didn’t organize my life within a year, I could return it for a full refund or a voucher for home school craft supplies and a pound of fair trade coffee beans.

With hope and enthusiasm, I took out all the relevant pages. I knew once I got everything copied and began the task of filling all the sheets out I would be able to keep track of EVERYTHING! The one thing I hadn’t planed on was having to keep track of all the papers that were now no longer confined to a binder. I lost them. Gone. At the end of the year, not only was I still disorganized, I couldn’t send my half empty book in for a refund. Something needed to change. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be organized; I just was too busy to take the time I needed to really de-clutter and clean beyond the surface. After all, I am a people person who teeters on the edge of being spontaneous. Seriously, we are talking about me. A woman who lost one of her tap shoes and kept the other one for about four years just in case. Just in case what? I run into a one legged tapper who happens to be a size 9?

MARCI IMG_0043This year, I have been reading “Clutter Free” and really understanding that clutter isn’t just something that happens in your house, closets, and under the bed. Clutter can become personal and can cost much more than another filing system. The other day while doing a de-cluttering challenge, I came across a box of random things that had been on the desk, then the table, and finally followed the clutter migratory flight pattern to the far corner of my sewing area. Magazines full of tantalizing recipes, old junk mail, craft supplies, and a small brown paper bag filled the repurposed apple box. I opened the bag and out slipped a simple embossed card. My heart sank. It was a card I had purchased and intended to send to a friend who recently lost her spouse. My clutter and disorganization had spilled over beyond myself. With the card in my hand, I decided that what I have it isn’t about freeing up space in your drawers, but in your life and your heart.

My word for 2015 is BALANCE. It is something I will be talking about for the next twelve months. For now, I am taking it one closet and cupboard at a time and cleaning out the things that do not matter to make room for the things that do. ~ Marci

You can find out more about Marci at her website, and you can also discover her two books, The Adventures of Pearley Monroe and Empty Nest:Strategies To Help Your Kids Take Flight!

Are you ready to be Clutter Free? Start the 21-Day Clutter Free challenge! Sign up now!

 

What I’ll Be Doing While You Stand In Line  to Watch 50 Shades of Grey

What I’ll Be Doing While You Stand In Line to Watch 50 Shades of Grey

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What I’ll Be Doing While You Stand In Line to Watch 50 Shades

A girlfriend told us last week that she’s planning a girl’s night to go watch 50 Shades of Grey with her friends in a few weeks.  And another friend is planning on going to the movie with her husband for their Valentine’s Day night out.

We hope they have a great time.  Really, we do.  But we won’t be going with them.

Because we’ll be at home having sex with our husbands.

We’ll just come right out and say it:  We’re not feeling overly enthused with the entire 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon.   Are these the kind of romantic heroes on which we want to base our love stories?

It doesn’t make sense to us.

We don’t want that for ourselves, but even more, we can’t stand the thought of our daughters believing that 50 Shades of Grey is a modern fairy tale.  And we’re afraid that’s exactly where our culture is headed:  Christian Grey has been elevated to some sort of modern Mr. Darcy and the true romantic heroes of our time—men like our husbands who cherish us and have never demeaned us—are labeled as… boring?

It really doesn’t make sense.

But we don’t have to let it make sense.  We can stand up and say that we don’t want Anastasia and Christian to be our romantic example.  Not when we have so many better examples—examples of men and women who have chosen to love each other fully, to never demean, to never demoralize, to keep sex as a wonderful, intimate gift that always builds, always protects, always loves.

We want that kind of love.

Not boring.  Not prude.  Not a vanilla-missionary-between-the-sheets-every-Friday-at-eight type.  But a love full of passion, full of romance.  The kind of love that dances in the living room naked to the Bee-Jees at 8’o clock on a Tuesday. I want us to kiss often and laugh even more. I want to make our kids say “EWWW!” when we make out while in the minivan. I want us to try new things, to get to know each other, to keep each other guessing, to have a red hot sex life that knows no bounds other than to keep each other fully engaged.  And to show each other that we are fully loved.

That’s what we want.  For ourselves and for our daughters and their future husbands.  And for all of our friends who want the same things.

Which is why we wrote our book series, Hot Mama.  We want sex to be a good thing—no, an amazing thing—and we want the Christian women in America to have the tools and inspiration to make it everything it can be.

And it’s also why we’ve come up with an alternative to watching 50 Shades of Grey.  We’re calling it the 50 Shades Movie Challenge.  It’s pretty simple:  While women across America are standing in rainy lines outside of theaters on February 14th waiting to watch 50 Shades of Grey, you will be at home having sex. Because why watch two people having sex when you can actually have sex with your husband?

Will you join us?

If so, feel free to grab one of the images from this post and post it on your Facebook page along with an explanation as to why you will be doing what you’re doing.  (As if you need an explanation to have hot sex with your husband.)  Let’s start a new revolution.  And make marriages in America hotter.

PLUS, to help make this challenge even easier, we’ll be giving away 10 copies of our new e-Book, 10 Ideas to Inspire Red Hot Sex, to 10 people who share this post on their Facebook pages.  Just share the link to your Facebook post in the comments on this blog and you’ll be entered to win.  Good luck!

 

Becoming Clutter Free with Sharon Paavola

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Clutter Free and Me

You know Linus and his blanket from the Charlie Brown cartoons, right? Well, there’s Sharon and her clutter, okay? As a little girl I was challenged with all my dolls and accessories. I shared a room with my older sister who did not do clutter. Every Saturday was clean your room day. What an ordeal for me! It continued on into college. Spaces were getting smaller and I was collecting more “things”. My dad was amazed at my ability to pack it all into the trunk to go home each spring. As I married and had children it became like a snowball rolling down the hill increasing in size and multiplying.

I recall a friend visiting for a playgroup, who commented on how messy our dressers were. She never returned. I felt shame realizing not everyone lived like I did. There were neat people. How could I become one?

Over thirty-five years have gone by since that day. The ebb and flow of clutter remains… on my mind constantly, always like a foreboding storm. My friend, Kathi Lipp has written a book for people like me. She understands that shame, that forever overwhelming feeling, and the energy-zapping demon of clutter.

“The problem is that clutter can become so overwhelming that to try and attack even a little of it can feel defeating. So instead, you give up and live in the piles.

Sharon P 3Clutter never lets you settle on one thing. There is too much distraction, too much stop and start; too much ‘I’ll get to it when I can.’

It shames us. It steals our joy. It makes us exhausted. It brings up bad memories. It keeps you guilty…

Clutter keeps talking to us, weighing us down, and keeps us from living the life we were designed to live.”

She gets me. But then she offers words of hope:

Sharon P 2“In the next several chapters, we’re going to talk about how our head keeps us bogged down in clutter – the lies we tell ourselves to keep clutter alive and how we can retrain our mind to stop trusting in stuff to meet our needs.”

Really, Kathi?

I have read several of Kathi’s other books. Most recently The Cure for The Perfect Life and her practical, spiritual, and humorous ways to handle my procrastination worked wonders so why not trust her with my clutter? She invited me to be a part of her book launch and I accepted, willing to be clutter vulnerable with the world.

Clutter Free discusses how to get rid of stuff, how to keep it from coming into my home; and why I keep it, and more.

The chapters on what it is costing me tugged at my heart knowing my clutter keeps me from entertaining, from enjoying my hobbies, and from following God’s plan for my life.

As of today, at least 25o items are gone, most of them trash and some to give away. My mom’s piano and unnecessary items from my remodeled kitchen have found homes.

Freedom, peace…HOPE

Sharon P

Sharon Paavola

Sharon writes about hope, healing, and God’s love along with book reviews.

Purchase Clutter Free – Quick and Easy Steps to Simplifying Your Space on Amazon or Barnes & Noble now!

Becoming Clutter Free with Alexandra Kuykendall

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I’ll Just Put it Here for Now by Alexandra Kuykendall

We have a house with a front door that almost never gets used. Sure we open it to go on the front porch to get the mail, but almost everyone who comes in and out of our house does so by way of the garage and our mud room. The “mud room” is a landing place between our kitchen, laundry room, garage and stairs to our basement. In other words, it’s a vortex of stuff.

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And because we are a family of six, we’re talkin’ a lot of stuff. Six people’s worth of backpacks and cleats and sweaters and artwork and leftover lunches, to dump every time we walk in the house.

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On top of the regular inflow of clutter, its snow season where we live. Which means for the last month and a half we’ve needed snow boots, hats, gloves, scarves and snow pants for sledding about two times a week. The rest of the days, a single jacket will do because it’s back to Colorado sunshine.

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A few days ago, I could barely walk through, not to mention over, all of the MESS that had landed in this spot. Visitors coming in and out of our house were greeted by this “welcome mat” of coats and socks and school papers and lunch boxes strewn everywhere. I needed to do something about this disaster of a space.

I grabbed Kathi Lipp’s newest book, Clutter Free: Quick and easy steps to simplifying your space. This is what I found:

“It’s so easy to just put things somewhere “for now” and then leave them there day after day, week after week, month after month until our house becomes a cluttered mess.”

This landing had become our “for now” spot with all things coming in and out of our home. Kathi asks, “What is causing you to put things down “for now”? Are you feeling too rushed in your everyday life? Is there never a chance to reset?” Ummm….does she have a nannycam positioned in this mudroom of mine? I needed to take the hour required to clear this space of its clutter.

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I decided our mud room should hold only immediate needs. The jackets, shoes, backpacks, and gloves we need TODAY as we walk out the door. There shouldn’t be soccer backpacks hanging on hooks because it’s not soccer season. There should be no flip flops in shoe bins when we have snow on the ground. And there should not be four coat options per person when we can only each wear one jacket, one hat, one pair of gloves at a time. All of these things we “put here for now” have overstayed their welcome and need to be tucked away in coat closets and bedroom closets to be brought out in a few days or a few months when we need them.

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So I did just that, moved everything back to its designated spot (and in the process redesignated some locations) and gave a bag full of shoes and hats away in the process (tips I also learned from Kathi’s book). With all of the piles cleared out it felt as though I could breathe when I stepped in my house. And when my husband walked in the door he proclaimed, “Praise Jesus!” Well, yes, always. But also thank you Kathi Lipp for a practical nudge to get the clutter out.

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Alexandra Kuykendall is a mother of four, ages twelve to three, Alexandra Kuykendall spends her days wiping. Wiping counters, wiping bottoms and wiping tears. Alex lives in Denver with her family where she serves as the Specialty Content Editor for MOPS International (Mothers of Preschoolers). Her first book, The Artist’s Daughter: A Memoir, chronicles her questions of identity from girlhood through motherhood.

Find her at www.AlexandraKuykendall.com.

Are you ready to be Clutter Free? Start the 21-Day Clutter Free challenge! Sign up now!

Purchase Clutter Free – Quick and Easy Steps to Simplifying Your Space on Amazon or Barnes & Noble now!

When Facing Your Clutter Feels Too Overwhelming

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When Facing Your Clutter Feels Too Overwhelming by Cheri Gregory

  • “You take everything so
  • “You over-react to everything.”
  • “You’re just too

I’ve heard these accusations all my life. I’ve also been labeled

  • High Maintenance
  • Attention Seeker
  • Drama Queen

For four-and-a-half decades, I thought there was something very wrong with me.

That I was defective.

Beyond repair.

Then, I read Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking and learned that I’m not defective, just different.

I’m an HSP: a Highly Sensitive Person.

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HSPs and Clutter

According to “16 Habits of Highly Sensitive People,” an HSP is likely to

  1. be overwhelmed by strong sensory input.  (i.e. visual, auditory, etc.)
  1. be bothered by intense stimuli, like loud noises or chaotic scenes.
  1. feel more deeply.
  1. be more emotionally reactive.
  1. take longer to make decisions.
  1. become more upset if she makes a “bad” or “wrong” decision.
  1. take criticism more personally and experience its effects more strongly.

De-cluttering can trigger every one of these, causing me to over-react, shut down, or both. (Sometimes simultaneously!)

I’ve learned that in order to stay out of the “Overwhelmed Zone” while de-cluttering, I need two things: awareness and an HSP-specific plan.

Awareness

In Clutter Free, Kathi says,

Owning is not bad. But we must understand that there is a price to be paid for everything we own. Owning too much chips away at our freedom.

HSPs can pay a higher-than-average price for owning to much stuff, and the de-cluttering process can be especially stressful.

For years, I felt blind-sided by my own reactions to the de-cluttering process, even though they happened every time I tried. When I started to accept and even predict them, they became far more manageable.

Every time I de-clutter, I have three main reactions:

  1. The visual chaos becomes over-stimulating. Suddenly.
  1. Sorting through my stuff evokes emotions. BIG emotions.
  1. Deciding what to keep and what to toss takes time. Lots of time.

Quote-6An HSP-Specific Plan 

When I de-clutter, I give myself these permissions and reminders:

  1. DO start small. Set a timer and do what you can in a short time span. Then take a break.

Don’t force yourself to keep going–that break is vital. (And whatever you do, don’t haul everything out of a closet and spread it out all over the room to “force” yourself to deal with it all!)

  1. DO acknowledge your feelings. De-cluttering is a loss process. Every item has a story; much of your stuff holds memories. Honor your heart even as you let go.

Don’t get stuck in guilt or shame. You don’t have to keep gifts to “prove” that you love the giver. You don’t have to hang on to old purchases to “punish” yourself for spending so much money.

  1. DO develop criteria ahead of time. This prevents analysis paralysis. For example, deciding “If I haven’t worn it in ___ months, out it goes!” puts you in an objective frame of mind.

Don’t force yourself to make big decisions on the spot. It’s okay to say, “I’m not ready” about an area or an item. It’s okay to move on for now and come back.

Finding What Works for You

Every HSP is unique. Make your own lists so you can become aware of what happens for you…and what works for you.

Be sure to check back next Monday, when several special guests will share their HSP Clutter Free stories and tips!

Wonder if you, too, might be an HSP?  Subscribe to Cheri’s blog and receive your FREE “HSP–Who, Me?” PDF.

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Are you ready to be Clutter Free? Start the 21-Day Clutter Free challenge! Sign up now!

Becoming Clutter Free with Luna Leverett

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A year ago we moved into a wonderful home after living in a tiny apartment for three and a half years. I had visions of making this place a home, but we ended up dumping boxes on the floor and leaving them there.  When people came to visit, I picked up all the stuff around the common living areas, stuffed it into grocery bags, and hid the bags next to the boxes in my master bedroom making sure to keep the door closed. IMG_8582

It isn’t fun to sleep surrounded by chaos, but any time I would set out to clean things up, I was so overwhelmed not knowing where to start or what to do with all of the things in the piles on the floor.  I’d end up literally feeling exhausted and take a nap.  The chaos was like kryptonite defeating my best plans.

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Reading Kathi Lipp’s Clutter Free gave me the information I needed to not only deal with the physical aspect of the chaos but also understand the mental and spiritual aspects of WHY I make the choice to hold on to things or continue to believe that purchasing more stuff will make me happy.  The first part of the book had such great insight that explained exactly what is flawed with my thinking about stuff.  IMG_8577

It’s tempting to skip this information and just get to the “how to” part of the book, but understanding the WHY was the permanent change in the way I think about everything in my house that I needed.  Even though I focused on decluttering my master bedroom first, I found myself questioning the value of items I came across in every room and closet throughout the house. IMG_8666Now, I can’t help but declutter as I go about my daily routine and come across items asking myself, “Do I currently use it? Do I really love it? Would I buy it again?”  Heck, I even watched my husband throw away a piece of equipment when he finally admitted that it wasn’t worth keeping around because when he did try to use it, it only worked half of the time.

I spend my time blogging and speaking to women about identifying their priorities and arranging their lives to reflect those priorities. Whether it’s Christmas, your New Year’s goals, or how you want to raise your children, when you identify what means the most to you, you realize what DOESN’T and you can get rid of those things. Kathi hit it on the head when she wrote:

At some point, we need to end some things so we can hold on to the things that are most important to us.  And when we define the things that are truly important to us, we can start recognizing the things that are not important to us and eliminate those things from our life.

Once I got that concept regarding my stuff, the chaos no longer had control over me.  I had the power to look at sections of my house and attack them with the game plan Kathi explains so simply.

This book isn’t about micromanaging the possessions we have, it’s about not letting the emotional aspect of the possessions run our lives.  Because of understanding the “why” and learning the “how to” that is in Clutter Free, I know what to keep and what to give away. It’s freeing and now when I go to bed, instead of being surrounded by boxes, bags, and stress, I’m surrounded by peace, comfort, and beauty.

You can find out more about Luna at her website!

Are you ready to be Clutter Free? Start the 21-Day Clutter Free challenge! Sign up now!