Interview with Soul Medicine Owner, Esther Felder

I am delighted to have Esther Felder, owner of Soul Medicine, as my guest for my blog this month about wellbeing!

Esther Felder, owner of Soul Medicine, Nottingham
Esther Felder, owner of Soul Medicine, Nottingham

She is an experienced Spiritual Teacher and Mentor with over 12 years experience in transformational healing. She uses an intuitive and holistic approach to complete wellness, as she focuses on the relationship you have with yourself, with others, your career/business, the universe and Mother Earth. Her mission is to provide an honest and professional service which will leave you with greater clarity and joy in your life. [1]

She has kindly accepted my invitation to interview her and discuss the links between wellbeing and decluttering.

Enjoy!


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Mona: Hi Esther! Tell us about yourself and what does “Soul Medicine” mean in your perspective?

Esther: Hello thank you for having me as a guest blog on your site, I hope I can add some value to the readers’ lives and provide some simple guidance.

Soul Medicine is any form of medicine that can help the mind, body and soul to be more inline.  We carry so many emotions and feelings that do not always serve our highest good that we can feel much better when we have assisted in clearing them away.  When we feel better our lives have more meaning and we are not as burdened by some of the limiting thoughts and fears that can hold us back.   Some of the things we unconsciously say to ourselves are so hidden that we are unaware sometimes what is holding us back.  When these are cleared we can feel much better and start to look after ourselves and others much more which then affects all the relationships we are having in our lives.

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Mona: There is a quote on your website that says: “To end the disharmony and discord with your true spirit, you must first release with healing, then you will discover one’s true self.” How does this fit with the definition you provided above?

Esther: I help men and women eliminate some of the core wounds that they are carrying.  We all have something that is holding us back, whether that’s a lack of love for ourselves, feeling unworthy or not good enough, putting unrealistic deadlines and targets on ourselves or on the other hand procrastinating and stopping ourselves from living the lives we really want. In addition, living in lack in some way, not eating the right foods, addictions, choosing unhealthy relationships plus much more.  We think we know our true spirit but there is so much more to uncover in relation to health, happiness, creativity, love, beauty, inner and outer success.  I have helped many men and women feel much better especially from the inner chatter that has been keeping them stuck. They have been happier in their jobs, found love, healed from painful past experiences, ended the negative self-chatter, started looking after their minds, bodies and souls to live more fulfilled lives.

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Mona: Any person who is going through a decluttering journey will face many obstacles. My framework that I use is (Calm, Agile, Effective) since I know for a fact that being calm and in a zen-like, stress-free position is so important. How can your intuitive and holistic approach help in this phase?

Esther: A decluttering journey can be a very emotional time as you may be clearing away items which have happy or even painful memories. I totally agree to feel calm is extremely effective.  A good idea is to play some music that will help you and light some candles.  Some may choose to listen to soothing music to help calm themselves especially if the decluttering is relating to painful memories such as a loved one passing over, a child leaving home or a relationship break up.  You may wish to have someone with you to help the process in this instance.  Do it in stages and ensure that you are nurturing yourself as much as you can in the process.  Take lots of walks in the country or near some water to help clear your mind.  If you feel like crying then do as holding in emotions can be so damaging.  We have to feel to release.  Don’t feel that you have to rush to clear it all out as you may wish to take some more time to decide what you want to keep.

On the other hand if the decluttering doesn’t relate to painful memories you may wish to play uplifting music when having a clear out to get the job done.  I will always remember my mum playing rock and roll when she used to spring clean the house when I was younger and she made it fun.  I declutter on a regular basis and it’s so good for the soul.   We constantly change and I feel it’s a great idea to live a much simpler life.  I look at my house and think ‘do I really need all of this stuff? does it make me happy or bring me joy?” I look at my clothes and ask myself honestly if I will really wear them and if they suit my style.  I regularly sell things online or take items to the charity shops or the homeless places where I live. I also give things to friends and their children if I think they will be of use.

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Mona: Many people struggle with sentimental items that have either joyful or painful memories attached to it. I normally advise to keep them to the very end of the decluttering process, otherwise, the whole project comes to a stop. What is your best practice in this regard if someone approaches such items?

Esther: I covered a little bit of this in my previous reply.  I would totally agree with you and to take their time and it’s best to clean the area and declutter the items that you know that you no longer need.

It is very difficult for those who have lost someone through death, as this can be one of the most emotional things anyone will ever have to go through.  As I said earlier, take your time and ensure you have someone with you to share the emotional load.  Grieve takes time and you have to nurture yourself as much as you can in the process. Healing takes time and you will go through so many emotions.  You know that you can’t keep all the items and you also don’t want to regret being hasty and wishing you had kept something that’s why some help from someone else can greatly help.  We have kept some of the things my Dad used to have especially the old photos and some of the items that had been passed down through the generations.   Always try and remember the actual spirit of the person and not just the items that relate to them as that really helps.  Some of the people I have spoken to have found it’s therapeutic at times to remember all the memories while they are clearing out houses.  Laughing at some memories while crying at others.

If it’s the end of a painful relationship break down then I do feel that you can try and clear most of the items away. That’s if it feels right to you as we are all different.  I personally do not keep any jewellery or sentimental items from my past relationships.  I have been like this for years as it helps clear the energetic link even if you are still friends with them.  It’s almost like cutting the cords of the old so the new energy can come in.  We have so many ‘things’ these days and we don’t really need any of them.  If anything makes you feel sad when you look at it then my advice is to give it away.  Don’t open up old wounds if unnecessary as only keeps you sad for longer.  Focusing on healing yourself and showing yourself the love you deserve.

When I am decluttering my house or even when I am moving house I have taken photographs of items that have brought me joy so that I can remember the memories, especially the crazy clothes I use to wear when I was younger or items my daughter used to play with or clothes she wore.  I don’t take photos of them all just the ones that make me smile the most.  I have kept things like her first shoes as my father bought them as they make me smile.

Image of myself digging the nail of my index finger into the cuticle of the thumb of the same hand until it hurts
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Mona: Every one of us may have a distinctive way of dealing with everyday worries and negative thoughts. A thing I’ve learnt from Paulo Coelho’s “The Pilgrimage” is digging the nail of your index finger into the cuticle of the thumb of the same hand until it hurts. You then concentrate on the pain as a distraction. I personally do it and it somehow helps. Would you recommend this?

Esther: I have spent a long time understanding why I felt the way I did and to heal my mind, body and spirit.  (Your spirit is your life force, your energy, your personality, your love and  your creativity).  It’s imperative to work on the core issues otherwise they will always be there.  Our biggest job on the planet is to learn to love and accept ourselves more and to heal the negative part of our mindset so that it is at peace. Distraction only leads to more pain in the end.

My way of dealing with everyday worries or thoughts is to listen to my body, to feed it the nutritious food and drinks, to work on eliminating the negative thoughts and feelings I may have from time to time.   I am an energy medicine specialist, therefore, heal myself on a regular basis as well as go for lots of walks in the countryside to get fresh air. I continually work on my mindset to remain as healthy as I can be as it’s a constant journey to wellness.  I do yoga, conscious breathing and I go to see specialists in the field who help me with the hidden issues I may be feeding myself.  The ego is very clever at we can hide it from ourselves. I listen to many meditations and mindfulness techniques plus read many books. I take my self-care very seriously as I want to get the most of the life I have while I am here on the planet.  I think of my mind, body and spirit like I do my house, it needs regular clearing and cleaning and is not something I can do just now and again.  To feel better I have to work on myself.

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Mona: One of our objectives as coaches/mentors is for our clients to achieve their goals and to be happy. I suppose you share this as everyone is looking for happiness! People want from me this equation: (less clutter = happy life). What would your equation be and what would you do to make people maintain it?

I definitely agree with that .. less clutter  = happier life.  When we have less clutter in our minds and our hearts we really do feel much better.  My work is like spring cleaning for the mind, body and the soul.  I am able to bring peoples happiness back by clearing away the old.  It isn’t painful either as we all lose a part of ourselves when we have been through upsetting times or illness.  My wish is that everyone becomes empowered to lead fulfilling lives.

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Mona: Last but not least, what final message would you like to send to our readers?

Having a clear out in any way definitely helps.  Go for it and I promise you will feel much better afterwards. Even if you feel you have too much on already and feel stressed. It will help your stress afterwards I promise.  Look at all the things you have any really ask yourself if you really need it.  Does it bring you joy?  Would you feel better if your house was clearer? Do you really need to buy so much in the first place?  When our homes and workspaces are clearer it allows the space for more creativity and fun.

Lots of Love

Esther, Soul Medicine


Check out Esther on her Social Media:

https://www.facebook.com/soulmedicineuk/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/esther-felder-owen-3586a484/

www.twitter.com/EstherRFelder

Plastic Free July Challenge: How did it go for me?

So the Plastic Free July challenge is nearly at an end. I was planning to make a vlog about it but unfortunately, I was too busy to do one. But I managed to write down all my notes, thoughts and practices during this month and post them all together here in this blog.

I heard about Plastic Free July a month ago from a Facebook group I’m in about Zero Waste Lifestyle. It caught my attention and thought I can elaborate more on the subject.

I have heard about the concept of reducing waste and refusing plastic the first time when I watched Ahmad Alshuqairi’s show that broadcasted a couple of years ago. He met with Bea Johnson, author of Zero Waste Home, and showed us how she made drastic changes to her lifestyle and was able to produce only one jar of waste that she couldn’t Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, or Rot.

I admired this lifestyle a lot and I wished that the whole world can adapt it to make our planet cleaner and eliminate plastic usage for good. Blue Planet II is a great show to see how marine life is affected by the plastic waste we are producing. It is strange how this lifestyle was actually the norm around 100 years ago before plastic was invented. You may ask anyone in the elderly community about the way people shopped, the natural ways they preserved food,  the limitation of clothes, and the contentment of a simple way of life.

In Nottingham, there are attempts to bring back the old way of shopping goods, which is buying in bulk and using environment-friendly packaging. One example is Sarah Maloy’s Nottingham Zero Waste Collective pop up shop whom I interviewed in my guest blog this July.  Another example is the Dash Vegan shop on Triumph Road. They offer packaging-free products and alternatives.

This July, I made a pledge to myself to try to reduce, or even better refuse, 3 plastic items to come into my home. Looking how this summer is so hot due to climate change, and how much plastic there is in our oceans, I can do little changes at first, and gradually be plastic free as much as I can. But before I tell you what they are, it’s worth mentioning that there are 3 plastic/non-biodegradable things that I stopped or even don’t purchase at all due to cultural practice.

Here are 3 plastic items I don’t use:

One: Kitchen/Bathroom Cleaning Wipes

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For cleaning my home, I always use cleaning cloths and sponges. Cleaning cloths could be either old vests or T-Shirts made into rags or old towels. I use the normal yellow sponges you get from the shops, but once I am done with them, I am going to buy the reusable ones. I use also black and white newspapers sometimes to polish glass (Good way to reuse them!). Soapy water and other cleaning products are what use with the cleaning cloths and sponges. I never was convinced with the single-use cleaning cloths you use for bathrooms or kitchens. I admit I use hand wipes when I am outdoors, but I am willing to use reusable ones when my current ones run out. One thing that I never do, is throwing wipes in the toilet. Never ever!

Two: Plastic Water Bottles

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I never had a problem with drinking tap water. Where I live, we are blessed with good quality water. When I am out for a walk, I have my water bottle filled from home. I reuse a large glass bottle I have and fill it when we as a family go out. A great benefit of glass is that it keeps water cold. When we are at restaurants, we also order tap water.

Three: Plastic Straws

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After watching a video where a Marine Biologist extracts a plastic straw out of a turtle’s nostril, I vowed never to buy single-use plastic straws again. What’s wrong with drinking from the glass/cup immediately? I don’t need them. One of my daughters insisted that she needs a straw to drink her milk (7-year-olds “rolling eyes”), so she uses now a reusable straw and cleans it after every use. The pain that turtle went through just isn’t worth it.

Here are 3 items I pledged to try to reduce or refuse For Plastic Free July: 

One: Shampoo Bottles

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I am not a shampoo/beauty products hoarder in the first place. I buy one bottle of shampoo/conditioner/shower gel when I need them and I don’t buy others until they are finished. Same with soap. But you can’t help knowing that these bottles and packaging materials are sometimes not recyclable, and they will most likely end up in land fields or in the sea.

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In terms of soap bars, I collected soap scraps I have at home and made them into new bars. Sucess!

I researched for Shampoo/Conditioner alternatives, and found a couple of options:

  • Buying original Aleppo soap (made from olive oil and lye) which you can use not only for your hair but for your body as well. Most of these soaps come in environment-friendly packaging.
  • Buying Shampoo/Conditioner Soap Bars which lathers on wet hair and is mostly made out of natural ingredients. They are normally sold to you in paper bags.
  • Taking a clean empty jar or bottle with you to a Zero Waste Shop, fill it with shampoo/conditioner there and buy by weight.
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I did all three of the above as a matter of fact. The Shampoo Bars were good for me but difficult for my children as they found it very fiddly to use. So, liquid shampoo and soap for my kids are more practical for them.

But they do not come cheap. A 55g shampoo bar costs around £6 comparing to a £3-4 250 ml bottle of shampoo. It is advertised that they last around 3 months. Well, I will do the math in 3 months time!

There is another option as well, which I haven’t experimented with yet but will do when my shampoo finishes, which is buying liquid castile soap in bulk and customising it as you like with essential oils. You can use it for your hair, body, hands and even as dishwashing soap. Will give it a go soon!

Two: Cling Film

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I was worried about this one, but with a quick check in my kitchen cupboards, I was able to:

  • Use my glass Tupperware
  • Put plates over bowls
  • Use parchment/baking paper to wrap sandwiches, fruit and veggies.
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I don’t know if parchment/baking paper is the best way to store food in the fridge, but I think it works for me. Unlike kitchen rolls, they don’t absorb moisture. So all my fruit and vegs are staying fresh for a long period! That’s a win-win!

Three: Fruit and Veg Packaging

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This is probably what I am finding the most difficult to tackle, as I normally shop at supermarkets where packaging fruit and veg in plastic bags, wrapping or boxes are very common. Even though there is loose fresh produce without packaging, but it is doesn’t apply to all.  I depend on frozen fruit and veg a lot, which obviously is in plastic packaging as well.  

To try to buy my fruit and veg with no plastic, I had to go to either a Farm Market or small deli shops. This led me to make several shopping trips to different destinations. I am still on the hunt for shops or supermarkets in Nottingham where I can do all my shopping in one place! Just like the one Bea goes to:

It was a busy and exciting Plastic Free July for me! I have still a lot of research and findings to do, but I think I’m on a good start. This is not the end of course! I will keep on looking for plastic-free alternatives that suit my family and I and smarter ways to sustain the only planet we live on.

At the same time, I think as a concerned community in Nottingham, we need to see how we can arrange to get a Zero Waste shop. There is a lady in Leicester who did it:

 

Did you take the Plastic Free July challenge? What swaps did you do? Let me know in the comments below!

Enjoy your summer!

Interview with Nottingham Zero Waste Collective Owner, Sarah Maloy | #PlasticFreeJuly Blog

I am honoured to have Sarah Maloy, owner of Nottingham Zero Waste Collective, as my guest for my blog this month for Plastic Free July.

Sarah Maloy, Owner of Nottingham Zero Waste Collective
Sarah Maloy, Owner of Nottingham Zero Waste Collective https://www.facebook.com/nottinghamzerowastecollective/

She had a Plastic-Free Pop-Up shop running for a couple of days back in April, May and June this year at the THINK in NG Meeting space in Nottingham City Centre.

I passed by her stall once and we had a chat, finding that we have a lot in common and the passion to make a better change to people lives and the environment. I noticed that Sarah had a copy of Bea Johnson’s book sitting on one of the shelves: Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life. We both expressed our admiration for this woman who started a blog that gradually lead to a worldwide movement.

We hope that we might inspire you while reading this interview with Sarah to use less plastic this month and think about other alternatives.

Enjoy!


Mona: Hi Sarah! What does “Zero Waste Life” mean in your perspective?

Sarah: Hi Mona and the Organising Ninja Gang! Well, a Zero Waste life to me means to ‘consume consciously’ so that you are taking steps to minimise the waste you generate in your life.  Blue Planet II highlighted the problems that plastic is causing in our world; polluting our oceans, injuring wildlife and also likely affecting the health of us all. So I empower myself with information so I can live more consciously. This means that I plan as much as I can, my meals and shopping for example, and I always carry my reusable water bottle, take my reusable cup, straws and produce bags wherever I go so I don’t get caught out and end up with any plastic packaging.

Mona: As a Nottingham resident, spreading awareness in our local communities about clutter and its negativities is a social responsibility for me. If you agree with this, how would you approach people who haven’t heard about Zero Waste Life?

Sarah: When I talk to people about following a zero waste lifestyle I generally explain that I am reducing the waste I create as I am concerned about our environment. I originally trained as a Biologist and I know that we are part of the environment and not separate from it. We have a responsibility to protect it as it provides us with so much; the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat.  I often talk about Blue Planet II as a lot of people saw that.  I explain how sad that makes me feel, and that makes me want to take some action.  

Mona: There is a strong connection between the “living with less clutter” concept and the Zero Waste Life movement. I had a client where after a big clear out, they wanted to make sure they won’t accumulate clutter again. How can adopting a Zero Waste Life help them in that?

Sarah: When you become more aware of the waste you create, you automatically start to reduce it.  I started out following the 3Rs, in this order – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle but over 2 years ago, when I read about the zero waste movement and the damage that our waste is doing to the world, I added in some more – now I start with Refuse!  And also include Repair in the Rs, so, with a fantastic group of people, I also coordinate Nottingham Fixers, a voluntary community repair group who run repair cafe to help people fix their broken things rather than throw them away and buy new ones.   

Mona: I have visited your “Plastic Free Pop-Up Shop” at THINK in NG. The aroma of your products reminded me of shops in the good old days where goods are displayed in front of you. Do you think millennials would be interested in buying in bulk instead of buying conveniently from a supermarket?

Sarah: We are social human beings and it’s in our nature to want to interact with each other, they can do that is a ‘slow-shopping’ experience at a bulk market such as the one I run with Nottingham Zero Waste Collective.  I also think that people are wanting to make a connection with their food when they buy in a ‘market’ type environment they are doing that. Finding out where our food comes from, knowing that it’s been grown in a sustainable way, shopping locally, are all connections that people crave, and for good reason.

Mona: The temptations of consumerism nowadays lure people into making the wrong purchasing choices, and that sometimes end with accumulative clutter in their homes and might end with hoarding issues, along with serious mental and health problems. I saw this in many homes and it is sad to see this happening. From an environmental point of view, what would be the shocking element to use to make people wake up from this?

Sarah: With all this ‘unconscious’ consuming the human race has become detached from our impact on the environment. In nature, things come into being, they die, decay and go back to the earth and support new things then to grow.  It’s a beautiful cycle that keeps on repeating itself as it is so successful and makes sense.  As humans we are taking from our environment and generating new things and then we are discarding them; we are not completing the circle. When I visit schools, I show the children a plastic bottle of water. I say that when you have spent your few minutes drinking the water from the bottle, where does this bottle go? What happens to it? Then I show them the landfill hole in the ground, some plastic bottles littering our streets and on our beaches some bottles on our beaches.  Then, there are also some shocking images of wildlife… but I always follow up with the positive changes we can easily make!

Mona: I support a minimalist lifestyle, and I coach clients who want to live a simpler, richer life. It is sometimes a drastic change and close family members, or friends can stop them and not support them in this journey. I believe that you face many challenges in your “Plastic Free Pop-Up Shop”. What are they?

Sarah: Unfortunately society isn’t really set-up to minimise our waste. Many of our food staples are packaged and it’s not always convenient to shop in our own containers.  I think the biggest challenge is to buy staples without plastic, like pasta, rice etc. Then there’s coffee and nuts and seeds. Packaging from these types of items were ending up in my bin so these are the things I decided to sell.  I think once people become aware of the single-use plastic around them they start to want more information about other choices they could make, such as ditching wipes and using a flannel. Or refusing straws, or covering their leftover food with a plate rather than cling film.

Mona: Last but not least, what final message would you like to send to our readers?

Sarah: If you’re concerned about the state of our environment, don’t despair, there are always things you can do. Plan for some simple plastic swaps such as using a reusable water bottle and coffee cup for when you’re out and about. How about walking when you can and not driving your car? Maybe go on a litter pick or join a local wildlife group. Or perhaps de-clutter and send some items to charity for others to use!

Good luck and go and make a difference!


Check out Sarah on her Social Media:

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/nottinghamzerowastecollective/

https://www.facebook.com/nottinghamfixers/ 

Instagram: 

@nottmzwc

@nottinghamfixers

 

6 Tips For Writing Better New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year!

Hope you all had a swell time celebrating!

Going back to work/school after 2 weeks of overeating and partying could be the most unpleasant feeling in the world. That’s why I waited 10 days after New Year to write this blog, just to get back to my routine, get things settled, and start planning for this year.

Now, I know most of you write down “Resolutions”, which are your own personal goals or objectives to achieve during the new year. But before doing that, ask yourself this question:

Did you complete all your goals for last year?

Or: Did you have any resolutions at all last year?

If your answer is no for any of the above, it’s ok. You can move your unachieved resolutions to complete this year, and for those who didn’t do any last year, here’s the chance to make some.

Check these tips for creating your New Year’s Resolutions:

  • Reset your mind for a fresh new start. You can use meditation, yoga, praying, or any method to reflect your inner self.

  • When writing down resolutions, choose a place where you can see them visually every day. It could be in your diary, planner or a board.

  • Make your resolutions SMART! As the above graph, it is important to follow these rules to make sure your objectives are completed during the year.

  • Don’t write too many. 3 major goals and 5 minor ones on average is enough.

  • Share them with your close family members and/or friends to help you with them. They will keep you motivated and committed.

  • Stay optimistic and keep a smile on your face! There will be days where you will feel down, but after a rainy day, there is always sunshine to follow it.

If decluttering your house or organising your life will be one of your resolutions for this year, my advice to you is to not make the time frame short. Spread out the tasks on a period of 6 months at least, give it time. It is like losing weight, making small steps at a time in the long-term will make astonishing results.

A professional organiser can always guide and help you with your decluttering and organising goals. It is worth the investment if you are struggling to commit. You may read other blogs of mine to give you an idea on how to start.

Good luck!

Fasting & Decluttering. What do they have in common?

We all heard about fasting, which is a willing abstinence or reduction from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. A lot of recent reports are praising fasting for its medical benefits. There is even a medical clinic in Germany that specializes in Fasting! Individuals fast for various reasons, either for religious, spiritual or dieting purposes. Of course it is hard in the beginning, but then your body gets used to less food and water and adapts to this new routine.

Whatever your purpose is, fasting is a form of decluttering. Why? Because you are minimizing your intake of food and water and detoxing your body from toxic and unhealthy substances.

Hunger and thirst, and therefore eating and drinking, preoccupy us sometimes from certain aspects of our lives, our relationships and our belongings. Same thing with clutter, it makes a barrier between yourself and the outside world.

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When you are willingly fasting in a correct manner, you suppress your hunger and thirst and eventually you become more aware of the surroundings around you. Since eating & drinking are no longer a priority during this period, you can be able to focus on other things.

And that is the same thing with house decluttering. It is a process of removing unwanted items in your crowded home, making room and learning to take in fewer things in your home. After this process, you will have space in your home and an emptier mind. Therefore, you will be ready to take in new challenges and new resolutions.

Fasting and decluttering both have common teachings and findings. Some of them are:
  1. Minimalism: Going through these journeys teaches you accept less, and cherish the true treasures and riches in life.
  2. Social Responsibility: Giving excessive food, clothes and other items in your home for donation while fasting or decluttering raises your awareness for people in need.
  3. Concentration: as clutter or food/water are shifted away from in front us, you will find the time and space to focus on other things, like contacting your relatives, going out for activities and experiencing the environment around you
  4. Inner Peace: They will lead to less stress and more calmness and relaxation in your life.
  5. Controllability: You will be able to resist temptations easily and be in control what goes into your body or home.

 

Fasting, like decluttering, must be done slowly on a long period of time with no exhaustion. Preparing yourself mentally and physically is a vital key for successful results. Consult a doctor or a professional organiser for an effective plan.

My Nan’s Tweezers

When a close relative or friend of yours passes away, you will go through a tough grieving stage. Grieving differs from one person to another, but it is important to have someone to support you during this hard period. One factor that is similar to all grieving cases is the deep attachment to items that belonged to the deceased.

We feel so emotionally attached to those items that it will be so difficult (maybe impossible) to let them go. It is absolutely normal to keep some items as a memory from our loved ones, but how much is too much? My friend referred me to (N.M) 6 months ago who wanted my advice: They still keep their mother’s paintings, large antiques, and other small items, in their small apartment even though she has passed away 7 years ago.

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N.M was not willing to give away any of these items, even though they are affecting their lives on a daily basis. Space is very scarce in their home and they needed the extra bedroom (where the mother’s things are placed) for an expected baby. So, in order to convince N.M to let go of some items, I told them the story about my nan’s tweezers.

The story goes like this:

My nan was the most elegant, sophisticated, loving grandmother in the world. She was a respected figure in the community and was known for her beauty and wisdom. She was loved by every member of my family and going to her house during the weekends was a delight to me, my siblings and my cousins.

Unfortunately, she had Rheumatoid Arthritis the last 10 years of her life, which affected her knee joints. She stayed most of her time in bed but was able to move around the house with her walker.

My nan had a very distinctive scent that was similar to baby skin. It was so comforting and soothing, that I used to love lying beside her and talk to her for hours and hours.

I lived with her during my studies at university, and managed to catch up with her the last 3 years of her life. Her health deteriorated the last six months and then gracefully passed away on 8th March 2005 (on International Women’s Day).

The shock, the tears, the sadness, and the pain were very distressing and blinding to the extent I can’t remember when my aunties managed to sort out her stuff! After the funeral, I started to look for at least one of her night dresses so I can keep it for myself to remember her scent, but alas, all her clothes and personal belongings were gone.

I was very mad, that I wanted to beat myself up for not being aware of what was going around me. I kept looking around the whole house to find anything that will remind me of her. Before I completely gave up, it occurred to me to look under her bed.

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For my surprise, I found her tweezers. Yep. Old rusty, chipped tweezers that I am sure they were hers because she had asked me previously to pluck some of her unwanted facial hairs with these tweezers.

Could a pair of tweezers be a satisfying object for me to keep as a memory from my nan? Since that was the only item from her in the whole house, I put the tweezers in my pocket in dismay.  Even though I wanted a piece of her clothing to remember her scent, my auntie told me that the best way to remember our loved ones who passed away, is by mentioning their good deeds during their lifetimes, giving charity in their names regularly, and pray for peace in their afterlives.

I carried out my auntie’s advice, but my longing need for that scent never left my mind. I tried all the perfumes in the world to match it but couldn’t find any to my satisfaction.

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It was not until I gave birth to my twin daughters, when I found my nan’s scent beneath their skin! I cried that day so much and realised my mistake. We should never assume that keeping items that belonged to our loved ones will keep their memory. It is their legacy and their family members that will keep them alive among us.

Funny as it may seem, I held on to those tweezers till this very day. I still use them; they are functioning very well, probably better than any tweezers I bought later on. I can’t say I remember my nan whenever I do my eyebrows, but every time the twins sneak into my bedroom to play with my makeup things (including the tweezers), we always end up talking about my nan and how a wonderful woman she was.

N.M laughed after hearing the tweezers’ story, but I wasn’t sure if they will take my advice.

I haven’t heard of N.M for a while but was told they gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby. N.M called me a month ago, and told me: “I found a silver hairbrush among my mum’s things. I want to keep it and let go of the rest. I want my baby to have a decent nursery room. When are you available?”

I laughed this time. After that phone call, I went to my bedroom, took out the tweezers and said: “Thank you Nana. May you rest in peace.”

Open the windows and smell the fresh air!

I can’t stress enough how ventilating your home or office is EXTREMELY important. It helps new supply of fresh air to enter the space you are in, and eventually maintaining a healthy, cleaner and fresher environment for you and your family or colleagues. I don’t use air freshers because it only gives fragrance to the room and it all falls on the floor. It can never be a substitute for ventilation. So, here is my ventilation routine (especially in Winter):

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I open my windows fully first thing in the morning for 5 to 10 minutes on a daily basis to allow fresh air in and get rid of all the sleepiness odours. You may imagine that this may seem a bit harsh especially on cold mornings. But believe me, you will notice the impact of this practice later on. During this period, fluffing pillows and making beds are essential since any dust particles generated from this task will lead itself out of the windows. After shutting the windows, that is where you may turn on the heating system, light up some aromatic candles or oils, and enjoy a fresh and warm atmosphere.

I do this same routine while I am dusting as well. Even if I have good absorbing dusting cloths, there are no problems in ventilating while doing so.

So don’t underestimate the power of ventilating your home or office! It is one of those little things that make a big difference!