Winter by Marla Stone

An excerpt from The Clutter Remedy: A Guide to Getting Organized for Those Who Love Their Stuff, by Marla Stone

December is dominated by the holiday season, which often involves lots of parties, visitors, travel, and special meals. Maintaining an organized home is a particular challenge this month, given all the pressure to decorate, buy presents, host gatherings, and cook. This is when having a fine-tuned storing system will help a great deal, since it makes it much easier to find all those special-occasion holiday items.

Family tradition calls for extravagant holiday displays, and if that’s what you enjoy and prefer, by all means pull out everything and go to town. However, when you feel overwhelmed, busy, or disorganized, I recommend keeping things simple. Unpack and put up only half of the holiday decorations you normally put up. String a portion of your lights and get a smaller tree. Put out only some of your special-occasion bowls, vases, and platters, along with only a few scented candles. I guarantee you will feel more rested, at ease, and enjoy the festivities.

People often resist this advice. With a heavy-hearted whine, they say they “do it for the kids.” However, if decorating induces a merry meltdown, reconsider this reasoning. Do kids enjoy watching their parents stress out about what tree to buy and where to put it, running around hunting for family heirloom ornaments while enforcing good cheer? No, they would rather have relaxed and communicative parents who are genuinely content.

Every time holiday decorations come out, go through them and declutter whatever does not make you feel jolly. Similarly, when each season’s décor comes out, evaluate decorations and donate or responsibly dispose of anything that has become tired, worn, frayed, or broken.

After the holiday season, many people struggle with the “New Year blues” due to excess sugar consumption, overdoing it, lack of sleep, and a lower-than-usual bank account. When this happens to you, putting your space back in order will help lift your energy level, and you will feel the contentment of getting back to “normal.” Do it at a pace that is comfortable without pushing yourself. As I say, “When you push, you fall.” And remember, “perpetual organization” doesn’t mean that clutter never appears again. It simply means that your space is organized and restored regularly in ways that allow it to be maintained easily.

Another thing about the new year is that it brings the process of self-evaluation. You will naturally look back on the previous year and consider successes and failures, and then you will look ahead, set goals, and seek to improve yourself with “New Year’s resolutions” and realizations. I recommend using the start of the year to return to the exercises in chapter 1. Get out a pen and reflect on your values and life goals; consider how you will organize your home and your life better to achieve what you want. Perpetual organization means being flexible and adapting your organizational strategies to support your desires. What is still working for you, and what isn’t anymore? What new things do you want to accomplish, and what changes will you make to get there? Focus on positive goals. Think about joining a charity, getting healthier, learning a language, engaging in more socializing, traveling to visit family, starting a business, or writing a book. Every year, creating an ideal lifestyle list enhances your life. This is a magical wish list. Don’t be afraid to dream big. Think large to create your own ideal lifestyle every year. You change every single moment, every single day, so keep thinking and writing about what you want out of life. Be the conductor of your life.

Marla Stone, MSW, is the owner of I-Deal-Lifestyle Inc., which provides decluttering, design, corporate training, and lifestyle coaching services. She is a former social worker and psychotherapist turned professional organizer who helps people live an ideal lifestyle by getting to the root of their mental, emotional, spiritual, and environmental challenges. She lives in Orange County, California. More information at www.i-deal-lifestyle.com

Excerpted from the book The Clutter Remedy. Copyright © 2019 by Marla Stone. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.


Spiritual Experiences in Lucid Dreams by Clare R. Johnson, author of Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Lucid Dreaming

In lucid dreams, we are aware that we are dreaming, and with this awareness, we can guide and shape the dream, or go with the flow of events. We may find ourselves flying over magnificent vistas, breathing underwater, transforming into an eagle, hugging a much missed deceased friend, or simply soaking up the astonishingly real imagery and sensations of being conscious in a dream world. When we engage lucidly with our dreams, we illuminate them from within.

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A Conversation with Bridgit Dengal Gaspard, author of The Final 8th

No one enjoys being stuck and the misery is amplified when we have accomplished multiple steps toward a cherished goal — whether breaking a bad habit, losing weight, building a business, finding a mate, or finishing a degree — but just can’t seem to complete it. In The Final 8th: Enlist Your Inner Selves to Accomplish Your Goals, author and therapist Bridgit Dengel Gaspard calls this demoralizing quandary when someone is so close to the finish line but just can’t seem to cross it “the final 8th” and introduces a powerful technique called voice dialogue to help readers recognize and overcome internal blocks that are preventing them from achieving their goals.   We hope you’ll enjoy this short Q and A with Bridgit about the book.

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The Humming Effect by Jonathan Goldman & Andi Goldman

| by Cheryl Shainmark

For those searching for a way to improve their health without medicine, or intrusive measures, The Humming Effect really rewards the reader. This slim book covers a lot of ground showing how humming can make a difference to one’s well being. The authors build a strong case through research and anecdotal data that humming can lead to increased oxygen levels, lowered blood pressure and heart rate, increased nitric oxide, release of endorphins, enhanced lymphatic circulation, and more.

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Mysterious Realities by Robert Moss

| by Cheryl Shainmark

I have enjoyed and benefited from all of Robert Moss’ books over the years, but Mysterious Realities may be my new favorite. This collection of “just so stories,” as the author calls it, is fresh, intimate, and surprisingly topical. If you’re like me and find these current times murky, dense, and difficult to navigate, you need this book.

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Letters to a Dead Friend about Zen by Brad Warner

The night that bestselling author and Zen teacher Brad Warner learned that his childhood friend Marky had died of cancer at the age of forty-eight, he had just arrived in Hamburg, Germany where he was scheduled to give a talk to a group of Zen students. It was the last thing he felt like doing. Instead, Warner was thinking about all of the things he never said to his friend, since topics like spirituality and meditation didn’t exactly fit with the passion for punk rock they had shared since they were young.

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Life is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age

| by Cheryl Shainmark

In his new book Life is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age Feiler notes that the idea that we’ll have one job, one relationship, one source of happiness for most of our lives is outdated, and that we now live in a non-linear world that forces us to make transitions. While this trend has been occurring for some time, what is new right now is that the whole world is going through these transitions at once. How we face these life altering changes, and what tools we can use to help the process these events is at the core of this book.

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Understanding the 9 Warning Signs: an Excerpt from Bulletproof Spirit by Captain Dan Willis

There are numerous specific warning signs that should alert you, as an emergency first responder, and your family members to the fact that you are becoming a victim of your profession. These warning signs and associated problems never simply go away on their own. Instead, they progressively, insidiously, worsen over time if not corrected. You need to become self-aware, realize when you are displaying these danger signs, and then choose to proactively address the problem in a constructive way…

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Robert Waggoner on Lucid Dreaming

| review by Cheryl Shainmark

For the past seven years, Robert Waggoner has co-edited the quarterly journal, Lucid Dreaming Experience , and most recently has written a wonderful book titled Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self . He explains: “Through experimentation, I realized lucid dreaming could be used to get ‘unknown’ information; apparently from the deeper part of yourself or some kind of collective unconscious. Moreover, lucid dreaming could be used to explore deep spiritual concepts, focus healing intent on your body, seek out telepathic and precognitive information and learn about the nature of reality (from the unique perspective of being aware in the dream state). In my book, I take lucid dreamers to these deeper aspects of lucid dreaming…”

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When Antidepressants Aren’t Enough – A Q&A with author Dr. Stuart Eisendrath

Seventeen years ago, Dr. Stuart Eisendrath piloted research into the therapeutic effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) on people experiencing clinical depression. Ever since, he has been helping those who struggle with depression dramatically improve their symptoms and quality of life by changing how they relate to their thoughts and feelings. In When Antidepressants Aren’t Enough: Harnessing the Power of Mindfulness to Alleviate Depression Dr. Eisendrath outlines an easy-to-implement MBCT program that has been scientifically proven in a National Institute of Health study to bring relief to chronic sufferers of depression

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