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Barbara and I were speaking the other day and she asked me, “Louise, how can I communicate to entrepreneurial leaders that they need to do the 8 hour miracle – I have an easier time getting them to pay for the training than to get them to complete it – what is the block? Can you help me figure it out?“ I am a good example. Barbara and I have known each other for 20 years and for 20 years I thought I understood her approach and that I could do it, but that I just hadn’t taken the time to do it for myself. I had resisted Barbara’s teaching over the years thinking that I understood it and could do it myself anytime that I wanted to, but that other things were simply more important right now. Each successive moment of other things being more important, continuing for years and years on end.
My epiphany came while helping Barbara to create this book, while sitting for hours with her words and my images working on the design and layout and sequence and taking the time to feel which image was needed to reach the emotional block corresponding to each pages’ words and stories. Often accomplished Entrepreneurs and Leaders, we spend so much time in our heads, focusing on solving business problems, helping and guiding others’ work and building others’ systems, that we forget to take care of ourselves. Our offices can be a mess, but our companies can run smoothly. The mess however takes a toll on our psyches…the hidden cost. It wasn’t important enough. Something else was always more important.
Finally, I agreed to experience the 8 hour miracle myself. Barbara and I did it over the phone. I had my assistant, April, here with me, and we tackled the creation of the system that would work for my home office. It isn’t the thinking about it, but the doing it, and having the help of someone to do it with you, that makes the difference. Barbara is able to work with strong-minded individuals to help them see what they didn’t see – that actually we are better together, and that how we care for ourselves and do the things that we need, supports us to do our work better.
I feel a weight lifted to know that everything I had in my papers strewn on my desk, beneath my desk, and across the piles in the house, is now on action and reference lists, and indexed so that I can find and work with anything in seconds. We aren’t done, as I still have a few boxes under the desk to process and take through the system we have established, but each day, or week, I end by completing and taking the ten minutes to put things where they need to go, to maintain the system. I feel lighter, free-er, en-abled and my spirit lifts in joy.
Take the time for you!
We are so grateful for this kind review from Merrill Joan Gerber:
“There is a gentle urging in this book that encourages rather than instructs; the message ‘Are you enjoying your work and are you enjoying your life?’ opens in us a dialogue with ourselves. We are encouraged rather then given criticism for the years of our accumulations and indifference to the weight it presses upon us. The photos by Louise Wannier are likewise gentle and peaceful. They urge us to appreciate beauty, space, color, and all nature has to offer. One particular photo of the shadow of a woman against the grass is sweetly seductive, suggesting a walk in beauty.
When I finished reading the book, I sorted through years of holiday cards, keeping only a few photos of those I love, and sent the rest to inhabit some other space, not mine. This book is a deep meditation, and a kind teacher.”
What an honor to be featured in BOOM! Magazine!
Click here to get a closer look at the full article.
For years when someone asked me to autograph one of my books for them or a friend, I always included the book recipient’s name in the inscription. When I started autographing Less Clutter More Life, for some reason, I recalled all the times I was with clients agonizing over what to do with a personally autographed book they no longer really wanted. In fact, for years, the only books I personally never donated were autographed!
With that realization, I stopped adding the recipient’s name, unless specifically requested to do so. If you have an autographed copy, you will see the inscription, “Blessings, Barbara Hemphill.” Now when you are done with the book, you can easily give it to someone else.
That experience encouraged me to give some thought to what other clutter I could be creating for others without meaning to, and what can I do to avoid it. Now when I give a gift, I often say, if it turns out this ____________ doesn’t work for you, please feel free to donate it to your local Goodwill, or someone you think might enjoy it.
Recently during an 8 Hour Miracle, applying the “Does this help me accomplish my work or enjoy my life?” test, my client discovered several photographs of the children of her colleagues. I really don’t need them, she said, but I feel badly throwing them away. I totally understood. I suggested that she say a prayer for the children before she discarded them, but the experience has made me wonder how I could be more proactive in helping others to eliminate what I give them.
I have spoken with hundreds of people who are concerned about what their children are going to do with the things they are leaving behind for their children to deal with because they were unable to do so themselves. I have also worked with dozens of clients who were simultaneously grieving over the loss of a loved one, and agonizing over what to do with everything they left behind.
Based on my experience in over three decades, one of the most wonderful gifts you can leave your children is the message that whatever they do with your belongings is fine. After all, as the Good Book says, “This world is not my home.” Everything I have has been loaned to me by my Creator, and I’m off to an even more amazing place where I can truly accomplish my work and enjoy my life.
This week I was planning a luncheon for my husband’s cousin’s 86th birthday. All of the attendees are women who enjoy food, and especially trying something new — not a thrill for my husband whose philosophy is “Why mess with a good thing?” I thought of all the recipes in my recipe box that I hadn’t tried for years — decades in some cases, so I decided this was a good opportunity to take a look at what I was saving. As I began browsing through the recipe box, I realized that the majority of the recipes I would never make again. A few I could toss easily, but others were more difficult — not because I would use them, but because of the memories…
I frequently tell my clients that I teach what I have learned, or in many cases, am still learning. I realized the recipe box was another great place to apply the principles of Less Clutter More Life. I didn’t actually do the math, but I’m sure it was a great illustration of “80% of what we keep we never use.” I decided to do what I recommend: start by doing what is easy. The first ones to go were the those made with Jello — a popular ingredient of recipes when I was growing up on the farm, but not something I would do today. Then there were the ones I would never make now because I can buy them from the store 10 minutes away, probably for less than it would cost me to make them. (Quite different from the farm where the nearest grocery store was 20 minutes away and not open 24 hours!)
The box is less than half full now. I’m sure there are many that I’ll never use, but I’m not ready to let go yet. I think of my own advice: “You can keep everything you want if you’re willing to pay the price: time, space, money and energy.” And for now, I am. I’m sure that at some point in the future, I’ll be ready to let go of more. In the meantime, I found the recipe for “Summer Corn Casserole” made with fresh kernals of corn, radishes, and scallions. Everyone loved it.
This evening, together with 15 other B’Nai Mitvah students, I will be completing a two-year course of study by helping to lead the services and will be called to read from the Torah portion for this week. I wish everyone much joy, as I feel, in being able to reach this point in my life and choosing to complete that which I began and interrupted when I was 12. At the age of 12, I didn’t have the life experience to appreciate what it means to connect to our spiritual roots and the joy that is visceral in singing the ancient hebrew text. I am not religious as a person, but I am spiritual and I am so happy to now have the calm to focus and enjoy this experience.
Beginning the process of releasing clutter has helped me to see clearly what is most important in my life. I wish each of you the same discoveries.
I’ve always said that I teach what I need to learn. From K-8 grades, I went to a one room school where I was bullied. Whenever it was recess and we were playing games, I was the last one to be “chosen.” When I graduated from college with honors, my diploma wasn’t signed because I hadn’t finished my physical education requirements.
Recently I started working privately with a physical therapist. Today I went to class with other patients. In the past I have been afraid to go to any class that involved physical activity because I was afraid that I would be the worst student. To my amazement, I wasn’t!
My emotional clutter has been thinking that I would look stupid if I tried to exercise with other people. The Bible says that the sin that God most hates is pride, and I realized that my pride has prevented me from moving forward. The truth is that I might look uncoordinated, but so what? I’m tired of being stuck in my own emotional clutter. What is yours?
As Charles Dickens expressed it so well, Christmas is “the best of times and the worst of times.” It is certainly a time to apply the clutter-eliminating principle of asking “Does this (item or thought) help me accomplish my work or enjoy my life?” Yesterday, my assistant Amanda and I spent the afternoon clearing out the clutter out of my office — it felt SO good. Earlier this week, I was sitting in my counsellor’s office talking about some family issues with which I have been struggling. I made the comment that I felt like a “fraud” having written a book about eliminating emotional clutter, when I was struggling with my own. She asked me a question: “When you clear up the physical clutter, does it stay gone?” And so it is with “emotional clutter.” She reminded me that there are three ways to distance yourself from people with whom you don’t get along: 1) in anger, 2) in indifference, or 3) in love. May we all find the love we need to make this Christmas Season a time of blessing for everyone — just as Jesus loves us!