After years working as a Professional Organizer, and countless hours considering the topic of home organization, it’s become crystal clear to me that organization is NOT the key to peaceful living at home! It is surely a by-product of living intentionally, but if we are to see meaningful change we need to think about how we got here in the first place. And that means being open to looking at our home and habits in a new light.
The point: we’ve got to go deeper if we are to experience lasting change!
If we are to get the most from our personal environment, we need to approach it with the understanding of what role our homes need to play in the Information Age. Our current climate of busy-ness can feel exhausting as we are constantly being pulled in every direction. We have access to what amounts to 174 newspapers worth of information EVERY SINGLE DAY. The perceived stress we feel is understandable. We need a break! How can we care for ourselves properly when we are being bombarded with such stimulation on a regular basis? We may not even be sure what our needs look like.
Our homes can serve as our respite; our reminder. The word that keeps coming to mind is anchor. This is our harbor, our anchor to reconnect. We may find ourselves paying more and more attention to what others are saying, rather than tuning into our own voice, which oftentimes speaks in whispers and can be difficult to discern.
When we make the decision to disconnect from this outer noise on our terms, we give ourselves permission to plug into something far greater. We have all the answers we ever needed in experiencing a joyful, intentional, purpose-filled life. We are divine beings, and it’s our natural right to have access to this bountiful, infinite supply of well-being and wisdom at our fingertips.
You may be wondering how does this relate to our homes, Michelle?
Well, when we create a space solely dedicated to listening to and experiencing this voice, we find our way home. We need to remind ourselves of this every day. We need to plug in and ask our innermost self – what do we desire to experience while we are alive? What do we NEED to experience while we are alive? As humans, we get to choose this. And as a life coach works with clients to tend to these areas of personal growth and development, it’s of little use if we don’t anchor these intentions at home. We are not set up for success.
It keeps reminding me of a time when I worked as a waitress in New York City. One of my managers kept harping us that if we don’t set up our stations properly before the shift, we will not be set up for success. I can still hear her voice, “Are you set up for success? Are you set up for success?”. Much of the time spent at the restaurant is one chaotic blur, but that one phrase stuck. It’s also become the basis of my home practice. When I began living deliberately this way, my world changed. It is really that simple.
Intenzenden is the practice I came up with to anchor my desired life experience in my space.
Inten (intention) + Zen (mindful) + Den (home) = Authentic Living
To me, this idea is about being free and safe and whole right here, right now, at home. When you think about it, every space in our home is meant to serve a basic need. There’s the obvious rest, bodily care, and nourishment; but then there’s the less obvious yet just as necessary areas that make for a full experience. There’s connection, intimacy, play and joy, self-expression and creativity and even our connection with the divine, that need tending if we are to lead full lives.
Simply put, much of our life happens in our home, in our space. How much of this time are we truly present? Or are we just going through the motions. Intenzenden is about being intentional in these moments. I created this mind map to clarify what I’m talking about when it comes to experience-driven design. When we look at our homes through this lens, we can begin to create a vision of how we’d like to spend our time.
As Americans, we tend to be solution-oriented. We like measurable outcomes, tangible results. We think “controlling” our stuff and being tidy and organized is the key to a productive life. Much of what we do focuses on end results. Well, bad news. I know this is probably the last thing you want to hear, but going after organization as the end result is putting a bandaid on the boo-boo. The dis(ease) is deeper and more pervasive than a simple solution requires, and when we look at our home and belongings with a new lens we can shift the trajectory of our lives. Remember we are the ones who got ourselves overwhelmed in the first place. That’s where we have to look… in the mirror.
It’s messier, and by far more challenging than simply organizing our belongings in pretty bins (and don’t get me wrong I love me a pretty bin on the verge of obsessed), but when we think about what the underlying issue really is, we can begin to heal it. It takes great courage and the daily discipline that developing any new habit requires, but from my own experience, it is worth it.
SO WHAT IS CLUTTER?
Outer clutter is a physical manifestation of our inner clutter. It’s unfinished business. It’s an attachment to an outdated version of ourselves and our past experiences. We need to approach our belongings AND our time considering what we are really after >> and I feel confident in saying most humans are ultimately after joy, connection and love. Experiencing the love that we already are.
We’ve heard it time and time again, that it’s in the journey, not the destination. Yet as Americans we tend to get very caught up in where we are going (the result) without as much thought to where we are. Life can be messy, and that’s perfectly okay! It’s a beautiful, messy experiment. Because on the other side of the painful parts, there is joy. There is always the lesson. There is always the joy. We need to be willing to look for it.
WHY WE HOLD ON
It’s a human tendency to hold on to belongings and habits and experiences that don’t serve us. We get caught up in the story. It’s comfortable, it can feel safe, it’s easy. When we start to unravel our thought patterns, outdated belief systems, and stuck emotions that may be speaking to us in the form of physical or emotional pain, we free ourselves to infinite possibility. It’s not about shame or guilt or anything that makes us feel badly about ourselves. It’s just that we need to acknowledge where we are if we want to move forward. We get to rewrite our story and that means letting go of all the gook that leaves us feeling badly about our past.
Sorting through our belongings gives us the freedom to move forward. Once we give ourselves permission to let go, we can create a vision for where we’d like to see each area of our life evolve. This is the starting point for true change and growth. It’s about saying, you know what, this is where I am…and this is where I’d like to go AND how I’d like to experience the journey.
For instance, when I really think about my kitchen. Am I focused on the preparing of food, the experience of nourishing my body, caring for what we consider to be the heart of the home? Is MY HEART fully engaged in the heart of the home? Or am I mindlessly going through the motions with little thought to what I am actually doing in the present moment. In fact, have I even thought about what my body knows it needs to feel its best? We get so caught up in routine and speed and being productive that we may lose sight of what we need the most to be personally meaningful. How can we show up and serve what we have to offer if we are pouring from an empty cup?
The truth is, we can’t.
Intenzenden is about creating a sanctuary in every sense of the word so that we are so full from what we experience at home we can’t help but overflow into the outside world. Seriously, think about it. If we all operated this way, what would world operate like out there? I can’t tell you the answer, but I can bet we would be a whole lot more civil to one another. My own belief is that we would see miracles. Kindness has a rippling effect. One kind outward gesture can change someone’s life. What would the world look life if we were all just that much more considerate of our fellow humans?
If we are exhausted, overwhelmed at home it is very difficult to be that change. We must put on our oxygen mask.
I will share with you the way I am approaching this practice in my home that integrates tangible results and intentional living. We can have both. We can satisfy the part of us that likes results, while enjoying the process. I’ll be tuning in with my inner navigational system and sharing the experience with you as I fill my own cup.
in good vibes and a full cup,