The imperfect juice fast

Although I’ve always thought that an important component in decluttering is to clean the body, it has taken me to age fifty to finally do a juice cleanse, and only a one day one at that.

I figured I’d start small- I can do just about anything for one day! And I wasn’t looking for any dramatic shift in health or habits, but rather just a simple, quick and efficient rebooting of my body’s energy.

Since I don’t own a juicer and didn’t think my current once-every-fifty-years schedule of juicing was adequate incentive to purchase one, I was happy to hear about a locally owned juice bar: http://purejuz.net/

 

I ordered my one day juice cleanse 24 hours in advance, and the next day I left Pure Juz with five mason jars labeled and ready to be consumed, in a specific order.

20160728_071926Here is what they contained (12 oz each & very palpable):

#1 cucumber, apple, lemon, celery and parsley

#2 cucumber, carrots, beet, celery

#3 apple, celery. Lemon, romaine, kale

#4 apple,lemon,romaine, spinach, parsley

#5 pear, celery, lemon, ginger

On the morning of the juice fast, I still had my one cup of coffee. I need that burst of caffeine to get my running sneakers on.   This made it not a total juice fast, but I was okay with that. I wasn’t  aiming perfection, just a moderate detoxifying.

I was advised to drink water all day long (even though I’d be consuming 60 ounces of juice) and to eat raw nuts or whole fruits or veggies if I got too hungry.  And guess what? I got too hungry.

So I ate some raw nuts.

And two scrambled eggs.

I was not your model juice faster. Perhaps I should call this the Juice Not-So-Fast. 

But despite it being an imperfect and brief juice fast, I learned a couple things:

Feeding my cells nearly 60 ounces of vegetable juice gives them a happy buzz that surely has health benefits.

and   I can indeed get through an entire day without any processed sugar or gluten and feel better for it.

I felt lighter and clearer and the desire to maintain this energy carried into the next day, and the next.

Plus  I get to keep the mason jars.

A clean getaway.

 

 

 

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Clearing a path for the good stuff

If you take care of the small things, the big things take care of themselves. You can gain more control over your life by paying closer attention to the little things.  –Emily Dickinson

What are the little things?

Drinking water.

Getting enough sleep.

Decluttering.

Eating a healthy meal.

Keeping only what you love.

Breathing deeply.

Exercising.

Replacing the button.

Cleaning out the fridge.

Hanging the picture.

Buying the stamps.

Thinking the good thought.

Doing the paperwork.

Planting the vegetables.

Saying the kind word.

Donating the stuff.

Pausing.

 What are the big things?

Inspiration.

Clarity.

Insight.

Healing.

Hope.

Decision.

Peace.

Fulfillment.

Joy.

Freedom.

Success.

Love.

Creativity.

Truth.

Ideas.

Courage.

How does taking care of the little things lead to the big things?

Everything in this entire universe is made up of energy. Food, thoughts, stuff, etc.  This is not a new phenomenon. This is not a New Age theory or an unscientific guess. This has been true for all of eternity.

Einstein reported that “..both the physical plane of our reality of matter and the abstract reality of our mind are made up of energy patterns.”  Every cell, thing, thought, word and morsel of food has a vibrational frequency.

There is positive energy and negative energy and neutral energy. All of it is easy to decipher. How do you feel after eating something? Doing something? Saying something? Thinking something? Being in a particular environment? What adds to your energy, heightens your vibration, and what takes away from it?

Doing the small things cleans up your energy, raising it in order to attract the energy of the the  bigger things. Like attracts like.  Doing the small things creates a magnet for the bigger things. It opens up a pathway. It unblocks us and sets us free to discover our limitlessness.

How simple is that? Just do the small things. One by one. Day by day. Moment by moment.

Clear a path to the big things. You can feel it.

Making room for the big stuff.

Opting for less…ladies first

Every once in a while I like to splurge on the pleasure of reading More Magazine. It’s along the same lines as my frivolous desire for maxi dresses. Not gonna lie, I own five of these dresses, but each one passes Marie Kondo’s test of sparking joy. I’ve stopped looking at new maxi dresses because most of them spark joy in me. I want all the maxi dresses. I notice them everywhere. I compliment strangers on their maxi dresses. I think there is something beautiful yet carefree about them. They are feminine and comfortable. They can be worn with flip flops or sandals. The one piece and unicolor lengthens a body, and they can be worn at any age. It’s one piece, people, no figuring out what goes with what. How simple is that?

But anyway, I digress.

The magazine. This month there is an article called “The Joy of Wanting Less”, written by Susan Gregory Thomas (and now I want to read her memoir, In Spite of Everything, which I have ordered from my library). I never tire of reading or writing or thinking about simplifying. And if my maxi dress fetish is any indication, I could still learn a thing or two about letting go and having less. Here are some highlights from the article:

*Only 3 percent of the world’s children live in the U.S., yet American families purchase 40 percent of the world’s toys. We are toy pigs. I don’t think all these toys are making our kids happier. If we used the sparks joy test I mentioned above, we’d probably own a small fraction of the toys we do. Sure, a few toys will spark joy in kids. But we know what really sparks their joy: playtime. Love. Attention. Joy. Joy sparks joy. Happy parents spark joy. Buried in toys does not spark joy. It sparks overwhelm, for kids and parents alike.

*Experience makes us happier than things do. Quiet time, family time, peace, reading a book, taking a class, traveling, hobbies, pursuing a dream, etc. How we spend our time has a much greater effect on our happiness than what we own does. This is probably not news to anyone, but it’s a nice reminder.

*Across the U.S., more and more women are downsizing. They are shedding possessions, moving into smaller homes or apartments- yes, even women with families.   Why the focus on women? Well, for one thing the article came from a women’s magazine. But in addition, apparently women feel more stressed and burdened by clutter than men do. There are theories on why, and I could name a few, but in the end, decluttering benefits both men and women. It seems that women, though, are the ones taking initiative to act on their desire for less.

20140721_104248Nothing sparks the desire to simplify more than the feeling of overwhelm or of not having enough time. Who doesn’t wish for more time, nearly every day?  Everything we do replaces something else that we cannot do at the same time.  We have the ability to tune in and figure out what feels like an intrusion, a drain on our life’s energy.  Do we want to clean two showers instead of one? Do we want to own things that require maintenance if they don’t bring us joy? Do we want to hang on to outdated friendships or be indiscriminate with new ones? Do we really want an invitation, every month, to baptisms and graduation parties? I don’t. Do the social engagements on our calendar spark joy?

These are all questions that we get to ask ourselves if we want to.  And women are asking them, more than ever.

Speaking of less, I love Ernest Hemingway’s quote: Don’t confuse movement with action (similar to don’t confuse activity with progress). We can run around exerting energy our whole lives, but what are moving towards? What are we gaining? What are the results? Our time and energy are such valuable resources (money is too, but that’s a whole different blog post). They always run out. What are we spending them on?

Alas I am reminded myself, I have more than enough stuff. I surely have more than enough maxi dresses. I will always want more time. I want to be a time hoarder, to gather it up and to remember to breathe in the moments and just be where I am. But there is always the releasing, letting go of the moment, the minutes, the hours, and knowing we are left with just a little bit less.

One simple thing

20150610_081629I bought this basket at Target yesterday to solve the Clirty Clothes Dilemma once and for all. Clirty Clothes is a term my sister coined (I think) for the clothes that aren’t really dirty, but aren’t quite clean, either. They’re in between- they’re clirty.

Clean + Dirty = Clirty

They are the items we wore for  just a few hours and while we don’t want to put them back in our closets or drawers, they aren’t exactly ready for the hamper either.  They end up being hung over a chair for days, or thrown in a laundry basket only to be accidentally mixed in with truly dirty- or truly clean- clothes.

These clirty clothes can pile up after a while, cluttering up our rooms. They are the yoga top we didn’t break a sweat in, the pants we wore to that event for three hours, the white top we managed not to spill anything on that is still, therefore, white. They are the pieces of clothing not quite worthy of being hung back up in the closet, the ones begging to be worn just once more, for a little while.

Clirty Clothes are the pajamas we can wear again before tossing into the hamper, and the socks we wore for a short walk that we took off right afterwards in order to get back into flip-flops.

I decided that Clirty Clothes needed their own space. I was tired of them being the orphans, the not quite belonging anywhere items. For $12 they have a new home, a woven basket that looks pretty in the bedroom- much prettier than clothes strewn about. Clirty Clothes Dilemma solved.   Simple as that.

Simplifying begs the question, what next?

One of the most exciting things about simplifying is what comes after. Simplifying clears the way for this question:

What do I want?

After clearing your home or your mind or your schedule, there is this space that feels like a spectacular opening, an invitation. Sometimes, perhaps, what fills up that space is the understanding that we already have everything we want and now we can enjoy that more. And that is a beautiful thing.

But it is in our human nature to grow, and I think our desires can be the touchstones for that growth. So even if we have most of what we want, there is often something else.

Recently, while my daughters were launching themselves further into their grownup lives, I suggested this:

Take the job that scares and excites you.

Delve into the creative project that you aren’t quite ready for. 

It’s exciting to see them growing into new things, becoming bigger versions of themselves. Though as parents we are not supposed to live vicariously through our children, it is hard to beat the feeling that comes from seeing your own children growing and thriving (just as there is no worse feeling than seeing them suffer, which also inevitably happens).

None of us is really ready for anything that challenges us, are we? At any stage of life, we are all sort of winging it, in a way.

Staying full of all sorts of clutter can be comfortable, like a cushion, a barrier between what we have now and what we don’t dare ask for.   That thing we want that whispers to us- or heck, maybe it screams at us- we want to hush it- because it’s too big, too scary, too improbable, or others might not like it.

OR THIS: It’s so small, so simple that it seems it wouldn’t really make any difference anyhow, so why bother?

OR IT IS INTANGIBLE: Peace. Acceptance. Relief. Confidence. Courage. Connection. Faith. How do we ask for these? We name them.

Sometimes we get what we want instantly. Often there is much work to do to get there- but at least now we are on our way. Anything I’ve gotten that I’ve wanted, came after either writing down my desire ( my form of prayer, in a way) or saying it aloud. The words I WANT hold power. They add clarity, focus, priority.

Sometimes what we want is just to know what we want. Often we know what we don’t want. But that’s helpful too. It gets us to the place of knowing what we do want.

I went through a time of not being clear on what I wanted. I tried different things and though they felt worthwhile, none were quite It. I felt I was squandering my time and energy on too many different things. I guess this was my clutter, distracting me from having to put real effort into one chosen endeavor.  It took time to get clear on what I wanted.  Simplifying helped greatly. It took saying no to all the things that just weren’t cutting it- all the things that would keep me busy but not quite fulfill me.

Now I know what I want. First and foremost, I want to keep being grateful for the intangibles that I already have so much of: love, health, faith, time. I want to always be clear on what I already have and to enjoy and appreciate all of it.

I want some less important, but still worthwhile, things. Some I may get, and some I may not, and all of that is okay. Often, the act of striving is just as fulfilling as the act of getting.

  I want to do well in the Moth Grandslam this summer and also be invited to the Moth Main stage, or some other big venue and I want to get comfortable with this idea. Okay, maybe not comfortable, exactly, but I at least want to be able to channel my nerves into something more like passion. I want to be absolutely satisfied with the way my book comes out. I want it published, well received, and to go on to write others (and it sure wouldn’t hurt to get the fellowship I applied for that would help me do this. It’s not required, but it would be sweet). And I want to know that the thing that fulfills me is adding some value somewhere, to someone else, at least sometimes. I want to keep reading good books.

I want to only crave healthy foods. I want to get clearer.  I want to have the energy, every day, to do the things I want to do. I want to get better and better at living in the present moment . I want to stop the mind chatter that only seems to cease entirely when I am writing, meditating, practicing yoga, sleeping, or listening to others.

I want a new light for my dining room because I really don’t like the gold one that’s there (we’re allowed to want petty things too). I also want a pair of white pants that are the right length so I don’t have to go get them hemmed. And while I’m at it, I want to figure out why the time on my laptop keeps changing to the incorrect time, no matter how many times I reset it. I missed yoga class today because I thought it was an hour earlier than it actually is. I want to forgive myself for still sitting here in my pajamas at noon. I thought it was eleven.

I want to let go of any regrets and judgements and worries. I want peace in every situation, every day. I know this is a stretch.

Wow, writing this makes me realize, once again, how much work I have to do and how far I am from much of this.   I know I will never quite get there. I will never have all of this. But I want to know I am trying. I want to know I am moving forward. It is natural to need to move forward, to grow, to expand in some way. And on the days I take one step backward, because I procrastinate or I give in to doubt, or I simply choose the wrong thing, say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, carelessly or impulsively, I want to notice. Even though noticing kind of sucks. It hurts.

The thing is, when we know what we want, it becomes painfully clear when we choose something that is not that. We know when we’ve chosen in the direction that is away from our desires and it just feels all wrong, like heading east when we wanted to head west. Like disappointing ourselves. Our desires, our goals, at least the reasonably healthy ones, are a reliable compass.

Simplifying begs the question, what next? What do I want? What do I really want? It’s the best question in the world to ask, I think.   It’s the one that is always worth asking.

Not knowing is unsettling, like flapping in the wind, like living by inertia as time ticks away.

Even if the answer is the faintest of whispers, or scary or unlikely or very, very difficult, it could be the answer that is worth so much. A gift that helps us navigate the denseness of day to day life. It is the answer that only comes when we dare to ask the question.

What do I want?

The Stories We Tell

20150421_193254I have so many things I want to write about, including spring cleaning. I am stubbornly waiting until the weather actually turns spring-like so that I can open the windows and actually call it spring cleaning. Today we are due to get some hail, (yes, hail!)so I continue to walk across my sticky kitchen floor and watch the dust balls grow.

I also want to write about the time I wrote an article on assignment for a magazine. It was about a vision quest in suburbia. Talk about an oxymoron. I remembered the assignment while driving home from writing group last week, after discussing freelance writing. Oh, and there was that, I thought. I’d forgotten about it. And now I want to write about it because it was so bizarre that I have to dust it off and churn the experience into a new story.

And I want to write about writer’s block and how Julia Cameron, author of the Artist’s Way, rescues many writers from this misery. She reminds us, when words become as elusive as water in the dessert, to not call it laziness. Call it fear.

Thank you, Julia Cameron, for reminding us of this when we are blocked. We are not losers! she is telling us.  We are cowards. Believe it or not, this really does help.

I want to write about these things and more, and I will, but I am currently preoccupied with the Moth open mic story telling. I first wrote about my Moth Story Slam adventure in an earlier post here:  https://musingsimplicity.wordpress.com/2015/03/05/the-moth-story-slam-live-storytelling/

Happily, I sold my winning Moth story to an online magazine and am now working on lengthening it a bit, at the editor’s request. They will own exclusive rights for six months, and after that  I can do what I want with it-submit to other publications, blog, etc.

I am still waiting on the date for the Moth Grand Slam where I will compete with ten other story tellers. I think it will be over the summer and I can hardly wait!

In the meantime, I plan to perform again this week at another story slam just for practice, so I am preparing for that, right down to picking out my mothfit

A mothfit is what I now call the outfit I wear to these things.  A small detail, I know, but I reason that it requires at least a little thought.  It should be authentic, and not pretentious. Comfortable, but not frumpy.  Chic, but not shabby.

So after this week, with the story revisions and the Moth Story Slam behind me , I will be free to focus on other writing again.

And it would be great if this coincided with spring making her grand entrance.  Because for me, bogged down by winter’s layers- of clothing, cold, and grime- are dichotomous with writing freely and moving forward, lightly.

Here in New England, we are going to appreciate spring like a blocked writer appreciates fresh words.

When that time comes, I will throw open my windows. I will wipe away any dirt and excess, and clear the way for the sunshine and the muse to come through, light and warming. Because this simplifying thing, it really does work.

Cars and keeping the journey light

Cars have long been a universal theme explored in literary works such as The Outsiders. Do you remember the two groups of teen rivals, the Socials and the greasers? The Socs had cars which represented power, protection and mobility, while the greasers had to travel on foot and were therefore much more vulnerable.

stock-photo-30594346-hands-of-driver-on-the-steering-wheelAnd who can’t relate to feeling vulnerable when our car doesn’t start up, or it stalls on the side of the road? Maybe this is a distant memory of our younger years when we had less control over our lives, or perhaps it happened yesterday. We’ve got somewhere to go and this is our mode of transportation. To lose it is unnerving.

Or how about the elderly driver who has to give up driving altogether? This denotes a loss of freedom and independence. How could it not? They’ve crossed over to having to depend on others to move them from one place to another.

signs-1-777531-s

Dreams of cars symbolize how much control you have over your own life. Are you in the driver’s seat or are you along for the ride as a passenger? Do you know how to navigate from one place, or stage, to the next? Or are you lost?

And just like any other area of life, clutter in a car can take an emotional toll. It’s restricting, slows us down, and in the case of a moving vehicle, can even be unsafe.

Cleaning a car is a simple and symbolic way to take charge of our lives. It’s so much more pleasant to take the journey free of clutter and crumbs. Cleaning out one’s car is a step towards traveling with mental clarity and space. It is moving forward with both hands on the wheel, free of the stuff that bogs us down.stock-photo-36568830-driving-on-an-empty-road-towards-the-setting-sun