What's it all about?

Lessons on living a rhythmic life.
Go with the flow of nature, from the turning of the seasons to your menstrual cycles.
Practical household tips for spiritual people;
because balance is good, messes get old, and we aren't all Susie Homemaker Perfect.


Please read this first if you are new to the blog!

The Single Most Important Change you can make in order to change your life for the better. This is an absolute Must-Read for anyone who wants a better life, or to make permanent changes in their habits.

Podcasts are up!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Rewarding Tradition

Something that many of us have from childhood that we tend to cherish, are memories of traditions. Christmases, Thanksgivings, Holidays of many sorts and sizes are cherished memories (sometimes not so much-- but still memories).

Earlier, we talked about Meal Planning. How important it is to get your family involved using the Food Dreams box, and how it can become a way to teach them about nutrition.

Well, there's an inherent reward in it already-- you get to eat what you like. That's great, and we're all happy about that! But sometimes, that's not enough. Sometimes, they don't want to be bothered, and even the thought of getting their special something isn't going to get them to help you out. Of course, it's perfectly appropriate to sit them down and require that they participate. I do so, myself.

There's a way to make this more likely to happen, though. A simple reward. For my family, the reward for eating dinner together all week, for helping with the Food Dreams box, etc. is that we have Pizza Friday. I eat gluten free pizza, and hubby makes and eats his own regular pizza.

We get to do our own toppings. We do it all together. Spending our time in the kitchen together on Friday night is great fun for us.

However, if you want to order out for pizza, or get some frozen cheese pizzas, this is perfect, too! I don't have this option, being gluten free and only able to comfortably eat certain kinds of cheese, but if you have this option, I say use it!

Let everyone top their own pizza. Get everyone in the kitchen for a short period, together. Then eat together. Ordering out or using frozen pizza can really make this a quick meal prep, so that you have a 'free' evening.

However, don't let non-cooperation get in the way of YOU having a free evening. Fridays can be, if everyone chips in through the week, Pizza Friday. Or, if folks choose not to chip in, decide to be uncooperative or too busy to help, then it can be Leftovers Friday.

Either of these are a tradition. The question is, does the family create the rewarding tradition together, or don't they?

This is especially effective when you have a child that helps, and one who doesn't. The one who helps gets to enjoy their pizza while the one who doesn't gets to have leftovers. This is a great way of teaching the natural consequences of our choices, not only from what you get (or don't get) to eat, but from seeing what the cooperative child gets for their choice.

Also, from another important aspect, this helps to accent the weekly progression. The cycle of the week, in which you begin on Friday to calm down, slow down, ease up for the coming weekend. It is an important part of the weekly cyclic progression, and a nice reminder of the coming free(er) time.

Plus, in years to come, you may be surprised at the laughter, joy, and fun you can create together as you make smilie faces on your pizza, try different toppings, and generally have a weekly tradition of doing something simply for the JOY of it.

Some may argue that this is too often to eat pizza, but I would argue that a weekly treat for the sake of nothing else but to have a treat, makes keeping the rest of the week strict easier.

So enjoy yourselves once a week. Reward helpful behavior, while giving yourself a break, too. It'll be worth it not only right now, but in memories in years to come, too.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A New Paradigm

You've heard the saying, "One step forward, two steps back"?

Well, it's time for a new paradigm. It's time to make a decision to turn this saying around, by conscious acts, day in and day out. "One step back, two steps forward."

We all know that the step backwards is inevitable. We're going to eat. We're going to make messes. We're going to drop things on the floor. We're going to take a step backwards. It's a never-ending chore and fact unless you don't live in your house. I have yet to see this happen, but it's possible.

This often depresses us. We think about the fact that it'll just be messy again soon, anyway, so why bother?

The reason is twofold:

1. Because the next mess will be added to this one, thus making it even more depressing and difficult to clean.

2. Because in between that time, we have to look at that mess and have it hanging over our head as something undone.

If we make the decision to step forward and take care of things right now, if we take the 20 minutes to clean up after the mess we just made, we clear up much of the overwhelm factors inherent to most people with regards to cleaning.

The sense of having something important left undone is subconsciously crippling. It blocks us on many levels, and creates complacency. The root of that complacency is overwhelm.

It also decreases inertia to go ahead and get it done right now, rather than later. I mean this in two different ways, too. One way in which it overcomes inertia is in the simple act of getting it done, you don't have to overcome the contentment of having sat down and relaxed and now you must get up and go into the kitchen for something you don't want to do.

The other way in which it overcomes inertia is that, the larger the mess gets, the longer it takes in a single block of time to clean it. Not only this, but the larger the mess gets, the less we want to face it or cope with it. So by getting it done now, instead of later, there's less buildup in amount of mess and amount of single-block time required to clean it all.

This is also why I advocate, if you haven't been keeping up with your house so far, that you do an extra thing or two each time. When you cook a meal, clean up JUST after that meal so it's not overwhelming. Then clean up a couple extra dishes.

That's it, done. Go in the other room and accept that you did well today. Let go of any guilt or feeling of it being undone-- ALL that was asked of you was maintenance and two extra dishes, and you accomplished that. Pat on the back time. After all, chances are, that's more than you've done in quite some time.

There are other small ways throughout the day to implement "one step back, two steps forward." Each time you go to the bathroom, clean something small. Swipe the sink dry, or scrub the toilet basin. Leaving the bedroom? Pick up some laundry and toss it in the hamper or the laundry room on the way past.

A single, quick, simple act here and there through the day adds up to many small acts by evening. Every one of these acts is progress-- especially if you do them along with basic maintenance acts like cleaning up after/during dinnertime.

Give up the idea of "two steps back, one step forward," and replace it with a new paradigm.

"One step back (the inevitable), and two steps forward (the chosen acts)."

Today is a new day. Make it a day filled with small acts of cleanliness and kindness.

~ Livin the Rhythm with Kimberly Weston

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ho'oponopono and Cleaning

I've already outlined the many reasons and ways to use gratitude, blessing, and appreciation to make cleaning easier, so I'm not going to go through that again here. I would, however, like to tie ho'oponopono in to this method.

Ho'oponopono is an ancient Hawaiian practice of blessing and gratitude. It includes more than what we are going to use here, and you're welcome to look it up further if you'd like. In fact, I would encourage it. But for our purposes here, we're going to use the very simple form of it, which goes like this:

Thank you.
I love you.
I'm sorry.
Please forgive me.

When you're not really in the mood to go into long appreciation or gratitude statements, this works extremely well. It's easy, fast, and still pulls you out of that place where you're chattering away to yourself in a constant and unpleasant mental monologue.

Let's say that you are ready to go clean the bathroom, but don't really feel like it. I mean, who enjoys cleaning the toilet? If you do, don't answer that, I don't want to know...

Seriously, though, most of us don't enjoy this prospect. So you're sitting there, and you're thinking to yourself, "Ugh, not the bathroom again!"

Let's apply ho'oponopono to this situation. Focus on the bathroom, and think towards it, "Thank you. I love you. I'm sorry. Please forgive me."

Why, though? Why would you thank the bathroom? Well, what if you didn't have one? Then you would have to go outside to the trees. Even in the winter. And you'd probably have to dig a hole so that you didn't stink up the neighborhood.

Not to mention the other amenities of a shower or bath, a sink, a mirror... there are many things to be grateful for in the bathroom.

Why would you love the bathroom? Well, again, maybe there's something to love about something that prevents you from having to go outside to do your business. And something to love about the place that shows you all your beauties. Something to love about the place you brush your teeth and keep anyone from spying on you while you eliminate.

What about being sorry? Well, if you're not willing to care for, and love your bathroom (or any part of your house or life), then you're taking it for granted. Everything in your life is either a gift from someone (how about God?), or something you've earned yourself. And everyone in your life is a child of the Universe just as much as you are. So remind yourself not to take it for granted.

Please forgive me-- for taking you for granted. For resenting taking as good care of you, as you take of me. For not appreciating and blessing you as you deserve.

Thank you for reading this.
I love you, as a fellow child of the Universe.
I'm sorry for not writing this a lot sooner.
Please forgive me that it took me so long to even think of writing it.

May you be blessed in all that you do, including cleaning your house, dear reader.

Gratitude as Motivation?

Okay, so you're ready to go into the kitchen and clean the kitchen. You're not in the mood. You're tired, you've had a long day, life's difficult, and everything's going wrong. Now, to make things worse, you've got to cook and clean.

Is the only answer to force yourself into cleaning? Is the only alternative to that giving up and doing nothing and living with that guilt?

No, there are other alternatives. Let's start with the simplest alternative-- saying "Thank you."

Before you even get up, tell yourself, "Thank you, Kimberly, for being willing to be ready to go make dinner."

Then, if you're making dinner for someone else, too, thank them for the good they bring into your life: "Thank you, Kira, for being so cute and funny. Thank you, John, for loving me so much."

As you begin to say these things, you'll find that your attitude will begin to shift ever-so-slightly. Then start to bless: "I bless you, Kira, with good food and lifetime joy. I bless you, John, with good food and a life of peace and joy."

Then get up and go into the kitchen. Let's say that you're going to make some hamburgers. Pull out the carton of burger meat. Thank the cows (or plants if you're vega/tarian). Thank the people who prepared the meat for delivery to you. Thank the people who made the carton.

When you pull out the pot or pan, bless the people who had a hand in getting the meat to you, and then thank the people who made and delivered the pan. Thank yourself for getting into the kitchen, "Thank you, Kimberly, for making this food for my beloved Kira and John." Then bless the people who made the pan, and bless the food, "I bless this food with great nutrition and good flavor."

Saying grace, being grateful, blessing your food and everyone who had a hand in making it-- it's not just for prayer anymore!

Then when you're done cooking the meat, rather than just setting the pan aside, take the time to clean it. As you do so, praise the pan, "Thank you, pan, for the great job you did cooking that meat! It all cooked completely, without burning. I'm very grateful!"

Take the opportunity that cleaning gives you to practice blessing and gratitude. Because living a life of blessing and gratitude will change your life faster than anything else you could possibly do. If you want cleanliness around you, you've got to get yourself out of the 'burden' mindset.

The way to do this is with blessing and gratitude. Praising yourself, praising your children, praising your spouse, praising the things that are in your life. This is the answer to getting yourself into a mindset that aids and supports you.

Consider this time to be practice. Practice in finding ways and reasons to be grateful. Practice in blessing (Bless those who curse you). Practice in living a life of gratitude.

As you practice this, you will find yourself done with cooking and cleaning before you realize it. It'll go faster, and it won't be quite such an onerous task as it was before. It's a great feeling to be grateful for what you have, rather than taking it for granted.

It's a great feeling when having that feeling of blessing and gratitude results in a tasty dinner, at a clean table, with little post-dinner cleanup left to do.

These small changes can make huge changes in your life. It seems simple, even slightly absurd. But the fact is, the positive, relaxed mind always performs better than the stressed, distracted mind.

You can extend this into every area. Vacuuming the floor? Praise the vacuum. Be grateful for it. Thank goodness you don't have to sweep the carpet instead (yikes! been there, done it, hated it). Bless everyone who made that vacuum for you.

Bless the men and/or women who installed the floor. Bless the people who delivered the vacuum to the store. Bless the people and be grateful for them. Be grateful for and bless and thank the people who are going to benefit from the clean floor.

Don't worry, if it doesn't make it easier, you can always go back to cursing it again.

Try the opposite for a while, though, if cursing it hasn't served you too well up til now. You might be pleasantly surprised.

~ Livin' the Rhythm with Kimberly Weston

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cleaning With the Flow

It's an interesting truth about human beings-- women are different from men. It seems such an obvious statement, when you consider that their dangly bits are down low, and our dangly bits are up high... But of course, we all know inherently that the differences go beyond that.

What we don't often do, though, is make those differences not only okay, but something to work with. We women are expected to be like men. To think their idea of logically, to try not to be emotional, and to ignore how our hormones effect us.

Today, I'd like to invite you to ignore that advice. Be like a woman-- you are one!

I grew up in a culture (USA) where we're taught that as women, we are inferior because our hormones make us unpredictable, irrational, and prone to quick changes of opinion and mood. This may well be true, if certain laws of nature aren't heeded and obeyed.

Of course, in our culture of attempted androgeny, these laws of nature are rarely obeyed. Women are supposed to tough it out-- that's what men would do. Women are supposed to control their moods and force themselves to things they don't feel up to doing-- that's what men would do.

In short, we are expected to go against the grain of who we really are. We're supposed to ignore how we really feel, and "act right" (like a man).

So what does all this have to do with cleaning and decluttering, you may ask? Well. Everything.

Here's a very, very simple way of explaining. Using myself as an example, there are times of the month when I actually feel motivated to clean. This also happens during the end of pregnancy for a lot of women, too. Now, if I were going by society's standards, I would clean the same during the times when I'm feeling sick, tired, and miserable the same as I would during this "nesting" time.

I would force myself to do it, ignoring all physical symptoms, all emotional feelings, and everything else. Or, conversely, I would just give up because the whole thing was so depressing. This last, in my experience, is the most common response.

It's just too hard to fight our nature. And for me, the problem is that I happen to get my "nesting" instincts at the same time that I get physically drained and exhausted. Thus, I can make one of several choices

  • I can give up, sit around and feel bad and depressed
  • I can feel guilty and ashamed because I cannot force my body to feel better, thus cannot take advantage of the drive to clean
  • I can choose to supplement my body in such a manner that it feels better, and thus take advantage of what energy I can get from supplementation
  • I can choose option 3, as well as getting regular exercise and eating well, too

This is why it's important, even for something as basic as cleaning, to know your cycle intimately. Not only when to expect your period, but also when to expect things like the nesting stage. Charting your moods, your weight changes, your libido, and various other important aspects of your day-to-day experience can make all the difference in keeping your home-- and life-- clutter free.

So when the day comes that you are desiring to clean a bit more than usual, take advantage of those days by cleaning. Then when you're not feeling up to it, reach only for maintenance, and let that be enough! By accepting that some days, all you feel up to is maintenance, you will find yourself free of the guilt that comes from society's expectation that you always be in the mood to be Susie Homemaker.

Maybe it'll take a lot longer to get your house spic and span if you allow yourself days of maintenance only. But then again, your house will get clean a whole lot faster if you aren't crippled by guilt 100% of the time. If you're feeling in the mood to get something done, but your body isn't really up to as much as you really want to do... let that be okay.

Next month's nesting is just around the corner. Do what you can, or what you feel up to, and let that be enough for now. Don't cripple yourself with guilt because your hormones spend half the month making you feel like maintenance is all you can manage.

There are benefits to those parts of the month, too. It's time to learn them, and appreciate them. But if you're not charting your cycles, and you're not paying attention to what your body's doing at each stage of your monthly cycle besides just your period, you are missing the joys of living a Rhythmic Life.

~ Livin' the Rhythm with Kimberly Weston

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

You're the Inspiration, I Wanna Have You Near Me...

Finding inspiration. You probably find it a lot. It comes, it's big, it's overwhelming, it gets you up off your duff, moving and doing and excited! It's so wonderful!

It's so gone a few days later, sometimes faster.

So what happened? Well, this kind of lift is caused by dopamine, and unless you want to run around finding new, exciting experiences every single day, you'll probably need to settle for a more subtle form of inspiration-- motivation.

Again, this is going to seem like a completely obvious thing, but the way to make changes is to either get inspired repeatedly, or to continually remain motivated. So if you find something that motivates you, keep going back to it!

Re-read books that have inspired you. You won't be getting the same rush of dopamine, most likely, but that doesn't mean it won't continue to motivate you. See, one thing that I've discovered with a lot of people is that they read a book or a site, and they think that's it. They've learned and gotten all the use out of it that they're going to...

They expect reading each post on this blog once, for example, is all they need. Now they know the information, and they're done.

But if you will keep going back to that book or to that site that inspired you, it will be a source of motivation. Don't go on to the next thing, until you've given something that inspired you a REAL effort.

Don't read it and discard it, try what it says for a week or two, and then move on. Because inspiration is just your soul's way of saying, "This is a key to change! Stick with this!"

We often don't stick with it, though. We don't continue to revisit it. We take the inspiration and think that inspiration is what changes us.

What changes us is actually persistence and motivation.

That's how we create habits, through persistence. Very, very, very rare is the thing that can inspire us to lasting change. Why, because it's not something we need to do? Because it's not inspiring and worthy of changing us?

No... because we don't stick with it.

I don't care who or what it is, very few to no things are going to change you. Nothing you hear or read is going to create lasting change...

Unless you PRACTICE it!

What is practice? Practice is persistence in action.

Thomas Alva Edison said: "Success is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration."

This is a guy who made THOUSANDS of failed light bulbs before he got ONE working model. I think this fellow knew a bit about persistence, huh?

Follow Edison's example by choosing motivation. Read and re-read. If it inspired you, re-read it and let it motivate you.

There isn't going to be a book or site that changes you. The responsibility for changing you is yours, and yours alone. And 90% of that work will be persistence. Create habits by sticking with it.

Just as Edison didn't create the light bulb on the first try, you won't create permanent changes in your life on the first try. So keep going back to the sources of inspiration over and over again. Keep going back until they're dog-eared and floppy and you can barely keep them together with a rubber band. Make them your homepage.

What inspires is your soul's call to utilize it for motivation. Motivation is the slow burn compared to the brilliant blaze of inspiration. You need motivation to support persistence.

I hear all these stories of people who were changed by going to this or that seminar, etc. But at the end of the day, every person I know who made real, lasting, powerful changes in their life changed their habits.

Habits of action, and habits of thinking.

You change habits through persistence.

You might find other ways, faster ways to change. That's fantastic!

But you can definitely, no doubt, for sure, rely on persistence to change yourself. It's a sure thing, it's free, and it's always available to you. If your answer is, "yeah, but I'm not persistent," then that's where motivation comes in. Get motivated by returning to the places or books that inspired you.

You may have learned all you needed to from it, but now it's time to practice it. A daily read of it reminds you to persist in it. Putting it down and walking away doesn't remind you of anything.

Re-Mind yourself right now of the things that inspired you.

~ Livin' the Rhythm with Kimberly Weston

Pill Minder Addendum

I showed you how to make a 28 day pill minder, but I forgot about those of us like me, who have "off" cycles. Not everyone has the standard 28 day cycle.

One of my ovaries likes the 28 day cycle, but the other ovary shuns it for a 30 day cycle. Therefor, every other month, I need 2 extra days worth of pills. Always add these extra days to your "up" cycle, not your PMS or Period cycles, unless you have charted and it has come out otherwise.

So, for my extra days on my off period, I simply fill in an extra, basic 1 week pill minder like this one.

I put stickers over the "sunday" and "monday" that say simply "x-tra 1 AM" and "x-tra 1 PM" then covered the next two with "x-tra 2 AM" and "x-tra 2 PM."

I wouldn't have put the days of the week on my regular pill minder box if I'd realized that I had off cycles at the time, but back then, I didn't know. Because once you introduce the extra days, the only thing that matters is cycle day #.

Always do the regular pill minder for a 28 day cycle, and add the one or two extra days in. This keeps it simple and easy to refill, which is ultimately the whole point.

(Original post is here)

~ Livin' the Rhythm with Kimberly Weston

Monday, September 7, 2009

Guilt Busters: Creating Roadblocks is Good?

There are habits that I've formed over the years that I have chosen to replace with new, more beneficial habits. That's the best way to get rid of a habit you don't like. Don't try to break the habit, create a habit that counteracts and overcomes it.

Here's a simple example that some might find a bit odd-- but it works for myself and my family. We set the table after we eat.

You read that right, your eyes are still working. We don't set the table before we eat, we set it after we eat, prepared for the next day.

What possesses us to do such an odd thing? It's because doing so is a roadblock against clutter for our family.

When my husband or I come home, both of us have gained this habit of putting things on the dining room table. The unfortunate outcome of this is that it makes it a lot easier to simply go in and sit down in front of the TV... where there's not only a clear space, but a distraction from the mess on the table.

But now, since the table is always nicely made up (sans glasses), when either of us go to put something on the table, we are immediately reminded of what the table is for-- it's NOT a catch-all spot!

This simple decision, while odd on the surface, has changed our life for the better. The reminder of the proper use of our table, and how much we have enjoyed that use, helps keep us from a habit that both of us rather wish we'd never formed.

So while technically one habit may be broken, the secret key to doing so was creating a new habit that was a roadblock to the old habit.

Be creative in creating roadblocks for yourself. Don't let what other people might think of you get in the way of creating habits that aid you in creating the life and environment you want. I mean, who sets the table after they eat and lets their dishes sit out all day?

I do. And if others think it's crazy, that's okay with me. Because I'm happier setting the table after I eat than I am with a cluttered, unusable dining room table.

And isn't that what it's all about, being happy?

~ Livin' the Rhythm with Kimberly Weston

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The First Rhythm: The Pill Minder

We're going to talk about supplementation according to the natural rhythms of life and your menstrual cycle as we go, but first, let's get prepared.

I'm going to explain how I remember when to take what pills, and how I even make it easy for myself to refill the pill minder any time during my monthly cycle. I can refill it any time, and still have it filled properly.

For example, a week and a half before my menstrual cycle starts, I have difficulties getting to sleep, and staying asleep. I've found that a 5 mg. dose of melatonin taken before bedtime helps me to get excellent sleep during those nights.

On the other hand, if I were to take it at a time when I'm NOT on those weeks, it would be quite difficult for me to get up in the morning (I learned this the hard way).

In fact, let me tell you a little story about that real quick. It will help you understand why charting can be extremely important.

I finally decided to try melatonin the first time because of difficulty sleeping. I decided that my irritability was from that, so I became obsessed with fixing my sleeping. I tried the melatonin-- but here's the problem. I tried it two days after my period had started. So I tried it right after my sleep problem would have gone away on its own anyway.

Thus, I discarded this useful supplement because I thought it made me sleep far too heavily. But if I'd known and understood my cycle, I wouldn't even have been trying to supplement for sleep that night-- because I would have known it was too late that month to test the sleeping supplement.

So this is yet another benefit of charting your cycle. So that you don't try a supplement for sleeping on nights you'd sleep just fine anyway. Or so you don't try an energy boosting supplement on a day when you'd be over the moon anxious. Etc.

Let me show you how I manage my supplements, using two pill minder cases:

I got two MEDIPLANNER II pill minders that look something like this:

Then I modified them with stickers and a Sharpie™ marker, like so:

The lovely model is my daughter. Here's a closer view of the important stuff, though:

The top row includes the day of the week. I use a special Calendar that has 28 days per month, with 13 months in the year. So it probably won't help you a whole lot to bother with dating it as I have done.

But... what will help you is the second row. On this row, I write down what part of my monthly cycle it is, and what day of my cycle it is: Period, 1 (My period, cycle day 1).

Now, technically, the pill minder wants you to use it as a weekly pill minder. It has 4 daily times on it. So there's Sunday Morning, Noon, Supper, Before Bedtime on it. This is why I covered it with stickers. I take my supplements twice a day, morning and before bed. So I turned both pill minders into two week pill minders.

Then, when I wrote the cycle day on the bedtime dosing section, I could then remember when to put melatonin into cycle days 20-2 (of the next cycle). Then, even if I were filling the pill minder on cycle day 8, I'd still put the correct pills in the correct boxes.

This is especially important for me personally, because I don't really remember to take pills very well. Nor do I remember to fill it particularly religiously on my "down" cycle (pre-menstrual).

But on my "up" cycle, I tend to want to fill it every few days.

Thus, I use this natural tendency I have towards industry during my up cycle to prepare for the natural tendency towards sloth and forgetfulness during my down cycle.

As a result, I always have the right pills in the case when I need them.

Another quick tip: I keep these in my refrigerator, because this is one of the only places I go EVERY single day, no matter what day of my cycle it is.

Happy charting!

(Please see the Addendum here if you don't have regular 28 day cycles)

~ Livin' the Rhythm with Kimberly Weston

Friday, September 4, 2009

Time Savers: Meal Planning Repeats

Some weeks, some days, some times... I just don't feel up to planning a week's meals and a shopping list. This is one of the really exceptional reasons to bother yourself to chart your cycle... so you know when to expect these feelings.

So here's a simple tip: Don't throw away your shopping lists, or your weekly meal plans. Get a nice folder, stick it in the cabinet, and staple your shopping list to your weekly meal plan and stick them into the folder when you're done with them.

Then, when you're busy, or you're not in the mood to bother, or things come up... you can go back to an old meal plan and shopping list, and you've got a ready made weekly meal plan.

Simple, quick, easy.

You and your children might not relish a repeat, but at the same time, they'll probably far appreciate it over the alternative of a week of disorganized, disjointed eating with not enough of anything in the house.

Having a plan can be helpful. Keeping your plan for future use, may eventually turn out to be even more useful. It's very easy to save time this way, and it's an excellent way to take up the slack if you have a week where you just can't think of anything to do.

So, this simple expedient, taken now, can make your life easier and faster down the road. It's an easy step, but if you have something happen where you need the speed in shopping and organizing a week's meal, it can feel like a real saving grace.

~ Livin' the Rhythm with Kimberly Weston

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Guilt Busters: Make Meal Preparation Efficient

We discussed what Guilt Busters are last time. These are simple ways to remove some of the pervasive, overwhelming guilt from your housekeeping life.

Today, I'd like to discuss something simple and obvious that a lot of people don't do: Making meal preparation efficient to keeping your kitchen clean.

Much of what I'm about to say will sound obvious, maybe even condescending. It couldn't be anything further from condescending. These simple methods are often ignore or overlooked, but they can change your life and the state of your kitchen entirely.

When you go in to prepare a meal, rather than leaving the kitchen, stay there. Shut down your chats, or IMs, or whatever on your computer. Bring your children with you. Make a place for any young children such as a play yard or even a gated area like the living room/ dining room.

And then, BE in the kitchen. Stay there, prepare the meal, set the table. While the food is cooking, put away dishes from the drainer, put dishes in the dishwasher, take clean dishes out of the dishwasher.

Employ your children in these efforts. They don't need to be watching TV, playing games, or running around. They may not like having to actually do chores, but since when does life give us only what we like?

You need the help, they need the life lesson. Win-win.

While you're cooking, don't alter your attention between the kitchen and any other room. This doesn't just lead to burnt food, it also leads to a dirty kitchen, depression, guilt, and self-esteem issues. So make the decision to BE in the kitchen while you cook. Make the decision to bring your children with you, and put them to work.

Even young ones can do simple things like shutting the door behind you, drying the plastic dishes, tossing the garden salad in the bowl, and various other small chores. You will be surprised to find that they LOVE IT, because it allows them to feel important and useful, it's fun for them, and they are directly involved-- which children absolutely love.

So next time that you decide to make a meal, put everything else aside. Focus on meal preparation, focus on putting away and cleaning dishes as you use them in preparation, and focus on being very aware of what you're doing.

If you get your meal preparation done and most of the cleaning up from it, you can get back to what you were doing far more quickly. Not only is this true, but you will do so WITHOUT the feeling of pervasive guilt and embarrassment.

Nothing you do, whether it's your hobby, surfing the 'net, or chores... is going to feel as good, as fun, as enjoyable, or as pleasant as it will in the absence of guilt.

Want to feel better about life in general? Give up the things that create guilt in most of us. Give up the things that prevent you from living the life you really want.

Then, you can pick them back up in an hour or so, comfortable, confident, and free. Now, you can enjoy them, because they are no longer in the way of what you really want in life, but are simply something that enhances your life.

Internet (my personal guilt producer) is much more fun and enjoyable when it's guilt free, when I KNOW my house has been taken care of, my child has had quality time with me, and that I'm now free to enjoy it without anything whispering to me that something more important is undone or unfinished.

Giving up what you want to do for the space of an hour can make the next two or three hours of doing it feel like actual recreation, rather than a shameful and selfish act of negligence.

~ Livin' the Rhythm with Kimberly Weston

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Guilt Busters: The Mini Praxes

Guilt is the most common reason for paralyzing overwhelm, next to expecting too much of one's self all at once, from what I've heard and seen.

So I'm going to start a little series on ways you can help to release guilt from your everyday housework/ housekeeping. This first installment of the Guilt Busters is about doing a little mini Praxes several times through the day.

First, of course, you have to know what a Praxes is. This is a word from Simpleology, so if you've not started it, do so now. I've explained often enough why, if you do nothing else to change your life, do that.

So for those not far enough along in Simpleology to know what a Praxes is, it's basically writing down everything you really NEED to get done through the day, and then doing it first before you do ANYTHING else from your day. You've heard the old saying, "Do your work first, then play," and that's what the Praxes is partly about. It contains other very important elements, but this is the part of the Praxes we're going to focus on for our Mini Praxis.

Based on that, what is a mini Praxes? It's doing a sort of "Praxes" after each mean, and right after putting your children to bed, or right after arriving home from school. Whenever it fits into your life appropriately.

So, here's the basic idea we want:

I just did my Daily Target Praxes, and now I'm making lunch. I make lunch and we all eat. Now, before I go on with the rest of my day, I close my eyes for a moment, and think how I want my kitchen to look. I enjoy and bask in this vision for a few minutes.

Then, real quick, I hammer out cleaning up the lunch dishes, and clean two or three other dishes, too. I have my child help me, with the understanding that if she will help me clean up the lunch dishes, I will spend 15 minutes of quality time with her.

Then the rest of the afternoon, until either dinner time, nap time, or home-from-school time (whichever fits your life), I can go on about my day without guilt for enjoying something like reading a book, browsing the internet, or whatever.

This teaches our children to do their work quickly and efficiently, focusing intently... and then to spend the rest of the day guilt-free. It teaches them to do a few short Praxes after important daily events, and then to enjoy the rest of their time.

With time and devotion to this simple practice, you will eventually have that kitchen that you envision after each meal and before cleaning it to head out and do other things. You'll also have spent a total of at least 45 minutes of quality time with your children-- as well as having taught them valuable skills for their own lives.

So the Mini Praxes after each meal, or after a nap (a Mini Praxes here might be to make the bed and pick up the morning's toys), just before bedtime (where we pick up the afternoon's toys), and at other events throughout the day; helps us to relinquish guilt about what's not being done.

It helps to slowly get the house in order, as well, because we only do a couple of extra things each time-- yet up til now, most of us have been not only not doing the extra, but not even the basic maintenance.

This is your daily maintenance. This is the secret key to keeping your morning (or afternoon) Praxes simple, short, and easy, as well. At least with regards to housekeeping. If you've kept the kitchen clean of the meals you've made the day before, you don't have to do make-up work.

Always, with everything, involve your family in what you do.

You do enough work through the day that your husband can help you clean up after dinner. Your job is the household, his is outside of the household, but by evening, you're both responsible for the house.

When you value what you do, and expect help, you're more likely to get it. And you DO deserve it.

Plus, it's healthy for your family to have a meal together and to clean up together. The key word here is "together," which is a word that has become less and less of a real, concrete experience for families these days.

Eating and cleaning up together is better than no time together. And as a mother (or father), it's time for you to start insisting on it. Getting the help and assistance you deserve isn't the only good reason to insist on it.

Which is a good thing, because most of us wouldn't insist on it if that were the only reason. Too bad, too, because it's a fully legitimate reason to insist on something.

But if "because we need family time together" is all you can manage to insist on right now, I say roll with it. It will help everyone in your family, on many levels:

  • It improves your relationship with spouse and children both
  • It creates together time
  • It teaches your children excellent life habits
  • It helps decrease your overwhelm by keeping the house cleaner
  • It improves the mood of the household (cleanliness almost always does)
  • It gets rid of a lot of the clutter that closes in and overwhelms
So as you can see, with even this small list of benefits, the need for Mini Praxis and the involvement of your children and family is a clear.

~ Livin' the Rhythm with Kimberly Weston