Insight

A Cleanse of the Heart: KonMari Before & After

Has this ever happened to you?

A friend unexpectedly lets you know she’s in the neighborhood and can stop by for a quick hello, which sounds delightful until you look around your apartment to suddenly realize your place is a cluttered mess! You frantically tidy up the stack of dirty dishes in the sink (not actually cleaning them, just better containing them), stuff mail into a kitchen drawer, and toss dirty clothes onto the closet floor.

In the split second between panic and tidy-frenzy, you’d see your place as if you had to suddenly list it on AirBnb, as if you’re seeing through someone else’s eyes.

Do you know that feeling?

That’s how I felt when I came back from a weeklong work trip, having freshly devoured both of KonMari’s books back to back, as if they were freshly baked jumbo macadamia chocolate chip cookies (yum!)—The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (all theory, no pictures) and Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up (all pictures, little theory).

I stepped into my apartment and felt like I had never been there, the daze of 5 days away compounded under hours of imagining how I would tidy it up as soon as I got back—I’d already envisioned the monumental task having been completed, it was jarring to see that my wistful mirage was a day dream.

It was the week before my upcoming two week holiday vacation and I vowed to go into the new year with an apartment that felt like a spa—a lush oasis where I lounged around in a plush bathrobe and comfy slippers as soft jazz hummed during candle-lit bathes and I sipped red wine. But first, I had to clean out the junk drawer in the kitchen, excavate the avalanche of our walk-in closet, and, most importantly, buy a bathrobe robe (something that has always seemed like an indulgent luxury against my frugal pragmatism).

So, sure enough, I literally touched every object I own over the period of about 2 weeks and tuned in to whether it sparked joy. Yes, this is my idea of a well spent staycation. I loved every second of it. :)

To me, It was more than the tidying of things, it was a tidying of the heart.

Think about it. Everything you own is a manifestation of your life. Your things are a material representation of your choices and life experiences. To touch them and encounter them, one at a time, is to relive your life up until this point. At least, that’s what it was for me.

I was profoundly surprised by how everything has a story. Everything. Take clothes for example, I held a long flowery sundress and recalled an envelope of stories —buying it at Target, wearing it to my sisters birthday party, and sadly remembering when I first realized the seam was tearing.

This wasn’t just true of clothes. It was true of almost every object in my home—art supplied, electronics, paper (so. much. paper!), books, of course. I donated and thanked 60 books. Part of the process is thanking and letting go of the things that no long bring or never brought you joy. Every object has this flash of recollections: a memory that made it special and I wanted to remember forever, or a memory that made it vile and I wanted to always forget, or the moment I decide to buy it/accept it as a gift, etc.

In the end of my whirlwind experiment I was left with only things that spark joy in my life. There truly is a magical art to this.

And, of course, I now own a magnificent royal blue robe and a pair of plush slippers. They are a luxurious joy, but I feel like I value and cherish that in a way I hadn’t before.

Bottom line (for me): I value joy first now, before pragmatism. Before this experiment, my mind, and only my mind, would make a purchase. But now, I start with my heart and then my mind steps in—I now ask myself “Would this item spark more joy in my home?” and “Do I want to give this to my future self?” My home now feels like a lovingly curated oasis customized to my family, where we can enjoy our time together and fill it with joy, love, and laughter.

And as an delightful surprise, my joy spark-a-thon ignited excitement in my mom, sister, and mother-in-law to go on their own cleanse. :)

If you want to embark on your own joy spark-a-thon, then I suggest these two things, in this order:

  1. READ: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (all theory, no pictures). In my opinion, this is really all you need. I’d say this is a must-read to undergo the process on your own and the other book is a nice to read. This is also super short—I read it on a 4-hour flight.

  2. PRINT: This checklist. If you only use the checklist, then I think it’s highly unlikely that you’ll have the same results because the process is almost like a therapeutic exercise—something you won’t find in a checklist. So I do highly recommend reading the book.

There is also the Nextflix show. I think it’s a good intro to the process, but I still think you’re best off reading the first book. I was actually done with my tidying process by the time the show premiered—I found out about her show the day after my work trip, tidied over the holidays, and binged all the episodes when it premiered on New Year’s Day (in my robe, naturally), along with my January 1st tradition of creating a personal yearbook (this was yearbook 5!). I also think the show’s a bit out of order from the process itself so not a great guide, but a great intro to the process.

Here are MY before & afters:

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NOTE: The shower curtain was the only thing I bought (besides the robe) because the old one was joyless.

NOTE: The shower curtain was the only thing I bought (besides the robe) because the old one was joyless.

We also now have a completely  empty  drawer in our kitchen (not pictured). Yes, a drawer with nothing! We just don’t have anything to put in it. And it actually used to be our junk drawer. Ha! But it makes sense, get rid of junk and you’ll have more space. :)

We also now have a completely empty drawer in our kitchen (not pictured). Yes, a drawer with nothing! We just don’t have anything to put in it. And it actually used to be our junk drawer. Ha! But it makes sense, get rid of junk and you’ll have more space. :)


I don’t have a before for these, but you appreciate their ‘after’ nonetheless. :)

I made a Pinterest board to help envision what I wanted our space to feel like (a technique Marie Kondo encourages in the book) and I noticed plants in all of the photos, so quickly realized that I didn’t have any indoor plants. Not anymore!

I made a Pinterest board to help envision what I wanted our space to feel like (a technique Marie Kondo encourages in the book) and I noticed plants in all of the photos, so quickly realized that I didn’t have any indoor plants. Not anymore!

Now our  yearbooks  are prominently in our living room, rather than tucked away in a hall bookshelf so we pull them out regular when friends and family visit. It’s a like a  where’s Waldo  of themselves. #joy!

Now our yearbooks are prominently in our living room, rather than tucked away in a hall bookshelf so we pull them out regular when friends and family visit. It’s a like a where’s Waldo of themselves. #joy!

We want to hear from you! Share your own de-clutter process or your questions about mine!


How I Stopped Using Instagram So Much and Started Reading More (+get FREE books)

How much time do you spend on social? Probably more than you’d like to admit.

When I downloaded the Screentime update and saw I was spending ~1.5 hours a day(!) on the ‘Gram, I was shocked! That’s about 9-10 hours a week! Ugh! -_- I set out to replace mindless scrolling with something that would actually be meaningful in creating the lifestyle I want.

So I tried capping my time at 30 minutes a day. I’d have to enter a code for more time. Didn’t work. So I tried signing out so I’d have to put in my login info each time. Didn’t work, either.

A good way to stop a bad habit is replace it with a good one.

Want to stop eating cookies? Replace where you keep your cookies with bananas or almonds or have celery and peanut butter already packed in containers so you’re at least ready when a craving hits.

So, I deleted Instagram off of my phone and replaced my Instagram folder with a books/learning folder.

BEFORE = Instagram folder(!)

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AFTER = Replaced that Instagram folder with a Books/learning folder! 🤓

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In the first month of my new books folder, I read 4 books and KonMari-ed my entire house! Whaaat?! Yep.

I still have an Instagram account, but now I have to download the entire app, allow it to do a bunch of stuff, enter my login and password, etc. just to check it or post.

So now I go on Instagram about every four days! Bringing down my daily average to 10 minutes! Woo hoo! Last week I used it for a total of 1 hour and 11 minutes, that’s an 86% reduction—or put another way, I gifted myself time.

Quick tip: I deleted all of the apps in the Instagram folder and put the Books folder in the same place where the Instagram folder was, and the Kindle app where the Instagram app was, so now my thumb automatically opens Kindle like a reflex!

Another quick tip: I always have 1 audio book and 1 Kindle book going so that I’m ready in any idle situation. Car, on it with my Audible book. Check out counter, on it with a Kindle. They’re also of different genres so I don’t confuse them (learned that one the hard way :).

There’s nothing wrong with Instagram. I love it. (You can follow me here.) I just didn’t love that I was letting it take over my time and attention like that!

You either use your attention Intentionally or someone else will find a way to use it for you!

Be intentional about moving your life in the direction of your dreams, after all, you’re the only one Who can.

Here are the apps in my Books folder:

  1. Kindle for e-books & Audible for audio books

  2. Libby = FREE books with a public library card! This is my favorite app. It’s saved me hundreds on Audible and Kindle books. #win!

  3. Goodreads social network where you can share and check out what friends are reading. You can follow my profile using that link.

  4. Creative Live (Get $15 with this link) online courses for creative entrepreneurs

  5. Spreeder for learning to read faster, Pocket to organize articles for reading later, and Apple podcast for listening to my fave podcasts (Masters of Scale and Afford Anything)

We want to hear from you! Share what you’re reading in the comments or your own ways for curbing social media use!


Hatch: A clarity notebook

Check it out, I’m obsessed with this new notebook.

It has pre-filled questions to help me figure out which of my million passion projects I should “hatch.” I have so many “side-hustle” projects that there’s barely room left on the “side”, they’re creeping up to be front, top, and upside down hustles🙃😜

The best part is that at the end of the “incubate” questions there’s a little box for you to decide if you’re going to actually pursue the idea by checking off “hatch it”, “back burner”, or “abandon.” Love it!

Get the Hatch Notebook here.


How to peel an avocado like it's a banana

I recently saw an article about avocados being genetically modified to not have a pit because people are getting cut. Who are these peole?! 

Growing up in Miami, where we have avocado trees in our backyards, and my mom had avocado toast for breakfast when I was a kid (it’s funny to me that it’s a “thing” now).

So, I just had to make this little video. Hope it’s helpful! 

How to Perfectly Slice an Avocado with 3 cuts + No Mess


How to Make a Personal Yearbook (a cherished photo book that takes less than 10 mins a week to create)

                               
Here are the yearbooks I've made for each year my husband and I have been together. 🤗It's cool to see our little collection of memories grow 🙂 :)

 

Why create a Personal Yearbook?

Right around the time of my birthday (which is this week!) I sit down and make New Year’s Resolutions.

Yep, I made two set of New Year’s Resolutions -- dork! I’m such a dork!...and I’m proud of it though :)

Along with my Birthday New Year’s Resolutions, I also create a Personal Yearbook, because, of course, part of any new beginning is reflecting on the past and figuring out how to be more present in the important moments.

I love my little (now 3 year) collection of personal yearbooks. They keep me grounded, reflective, and they’re awesome to bring to milestone moments (like your birthday, anniversaries, etc.).



What is a Personal Yearbook? 


Simply, it’s a photo collection for a given year. You can define that as your birthday to birthday, calendar year, or whatever milestone works for you. I like a calendar year because it feels more rounded out.

Mine includes big personal and professional accomplishments for both myself and my nearest and dearest (like my brother's graduation, my cousin’s recital, and my first You’re Already You event), because when I (and others) look back at these I want to see what was happening in both my life, but in lives of people I care most about. So, I also include mundane moments, like random selfies at our place (because as we move over our lifetime, it’s nice to see what our place looks like too), or a nice unexpected afternoon lunch with my siblings.

 

How to Make Personal Yearbook

I love my photo Yearbooks, but I hate making them. The first time I sat down to make one it took over a month. Ugh! But after three years of Personal Yearbooks, I’ve super streamlined the process.

So here’s the cake and recipe to making your own Personal Yearbook:

Ingredients

  • A weekly calendar reminder

  • The Shutterfly App on your phone (because, after all, most of the photos you take are on your phone). I use Shutterfly, but I suppose you can use another app. However, these instructions are for Shutterfly because that’s what I use.

Recipe
(5-10 mins. per week + 20-30mins. at the end of the year)

A. Set up the App (2 minutes)

  1. Create a weekly calendar reminder to upload your photos.

    1. Mine is a calendar block (like an actual appointment on my calendar) each Friday from 5:00pm-5:30pm to reminder myself to select and upload photos. It’s a delightful way to cap off the week :)

  2. Download the Shutterfly App on your phone. Create an account, or login to your account if you have one.


B. Uploading Photos (~5-10 minutes per week)

  1. As you go through your day and week, as you normally would, take photos of special moments and memories.

    1. What’s great about this is that it help you be more present and aware of the joy in your life and of what makes you happy. You already take photos anyway, but now you’ll take them with the intention of printing and remembering them, which makes me feel more aware of the moments as they’re happening. I sort of think to myself, “Wow, this unexpected little lunch with my siblings is really special. Let me take 2-3 pics and then put away my phone to enjoy it.”

  2. At the time you set your weekly reminder:

    1. Open the app

    2. Select the “Upload” arrow icon

    3. Select the “All Photos” album from your phone

    4. Tap the photos you like best from that week. Don’t worry about curating them down, just select with your heart all the memories from that week that you want to remember.

    5. Select the “Upload” button

    6. Select “Add to Album”

      1. For your first Yearbook, select “Create an Album” and name after the year you’re in.

      2. If you already created an album, just tap that album and the photos will upload.

  3. Voila! You’ll do this weekly until the end of the year.

C. Creating Your Personal Yearbook (20-30mins per year)

Once you’re ready to create your book…

  1. Log onto your Shutterfly account online (not on the app)

  2. Hover over the “Photo Books” and select “Make My Book Service”

    • I *LOVE* this service. For only $10 someone saves me hours and hours and hours and hours, and their layouts are always better! It’s awesome and super quick. You also actually don’t pay for anything until after you’ve seen the book and reviewed it.  

  3. Select “Make My Book” and follow the prompts to select the size and style.

    • I always get an 8x11 in Modern White.

  4. It’ll ask you to add your photos. So from there select “My Photos” and select the albums you’ve been using to upload your photos into all year.

  5. No here is where you can curate your photos:

    • You can either do this yourself by selecting only the ones you want.

    • Or you can have the photo service do it for you and select all of them to add. You’ll then be prompted to choose if you want the best, the most, or all of them in your book. Don’t worry, you’ll get the chance to review it later.

  6. You’ll then be prompted to choose if you want few, some or many embellishments -- little designs in your book. I always choose some.

  7. Follow the prompts to choose a title and add any special instructions.

  8. In about 2-3 days you’ll get an email saying your book is ready for review. Woo hoo! This is the best part!

  9. You can then review the book, make changes, add captions, etc.

    • I usually look at it with my husband over a bottle of wine -- it’s so fun to look back on the year together and now it’s a little tradition -- and we add a caption here or there so we remember what happened then.

    • You also actually don’t pay for the book or service until after you’ve seen the book and reviewed it.  

  10. Order it :) Pro tip: Shutterfly always has mad deals on their homepage, so open a new browser to look at their homepage for coupon codes. I always get one for at least 30% off. And if you do this around holidays, they have even better promos!

Woot woot! Now you'll have amazing and cherished Yearbooks for years to come. The best is once you order your second one and you start putting together your collection. It's awesome!

Comment if you started (or created!) your own Personal Yearbook! Do you have a photo service you like that helps you be present and cherish memories (without the stress of creating the actual book)?

 

What are you waiting for?

There is no such thing as “the powers that be” -- you are the power that is. You are what you are seeking and waiting for. Be and do the things that you daydream of and let yourself run wild with fear as you make them happen. Yes, fear.

It’s okay to be afraid, and then just do it anyway.

You are the manifesto you are seeking in everyone else.

Do not let anyone tell your story, do not look for it in anyone else, do not let anyone give you a doubt in what your story is or who you are. Tell your story to yourself -- in the actions you take and in the priorities you express through those actions, in the dungeonlike cavern that you keep your dreams locked in.

Let your dreams explode out into the world like a phoenix blazing with the energy of a supernova.

Be vigilant, be wild, be free within yourself. Be free within the skin that binds you and the body and mind that keep you caged. Not only do you hold the key you are the key.

The next action you take after reading this is the key.

Keep going in the direction of your dreams. No one is there to help you, but you.

You’re already you -- but you just don’t see it yet. Go go go and shine on fearless with the art, poem, book, writing, idea, innovation, philosophy, dance, love, film, design that burns within you.

One day, one lifetime, one year from now -- you decide when is right. But no matter what, it’s alright right *right now*.

Close the computer, the phone, the tablet and just let yourself be free. Let yourself be unshackled from a plan from thinking from feeling like you have to go and figure it out and be out of debt, and be a millionaire, and be skinny, and be something you’re just not right now. You don’t have to wait for any of that.

Start now.

You can be wild and aimless and “fail” or wild and aimless and “succeed” but make no mistake, only you can decide what those two terms mean. Only you can let yourself be free.

So close the facebook/twitter/instagram quote and move from consuming to creating. Create like a wild and fierce wind. Let your heart dance in that way it once did.

Stop waiting, and manifest forth the phoenix, rise above the ashes of your insecurity, and go boldly in the direction of your dreams.

After you take just one small step you will gain momentum. Just one.

You -- as you are, have everything you need to be your best self.

Where will you be one year/month/week/day from now? Still wishing you were doing that thing? Or so caught up in it that you won’t even feel the year pass?

What are you waiting for?

Yourself.

Don't follow your dreams. Make your dreams follow you. 


List of 100 Dreams

Whenever I have downtime online (instead of checking social media again) I look at my list of 100 dreams and make plans to work towards them. It's a list of anything I want to do with my life. It's more than a bucket list. I have everything from "sleep" to "take my mom to Hawai'i." There are no rules, just unabashed desires. Writing down the first 30 or so is easy, but then it actually becomes a bit harder. 

I also use this as a motivator for how I want to spend my time, energy and money. So, rather than trying to save time doing dishes, or optimizing all of my errands into one afternoon, or, in other words, focusing and planning around the things I don't want to do that drain me of energy or are lower priority, instead, I focus on what I do want to do and what gives me energy. Everything else just then falls into place or gets de-prioritize (as it should). 

More concretely, one of my dreams is to read a book a month. So while doing dishes I'll listen to an audio book. The $14/month subscription for audio books is worth it to me because the fee is nominal to me, and getting to hear the books I've chosen is awesome, a priority for me, and thus worth it. 

Bottom line: Proactively prioritize your time, energy, and money around your dreams (the things that give you energy and make you feel excited), rather than letting your time, energy, and money be retroactively swayed by the demands that drain your energy and excitement. 

Shout out to Laura Vanderkam, whose workshop I learned this in. Check out her List of 100 Dreams, and the course I took from her that helped me be more proactive with my time.  

My List of "100" Dreams

italics = done!
bold = in progress
plain = new/pending
 

  1. Get a black belt in something (I did boxing for 20 years, and tae kwon do for 4)
  2. Try Aikido
  3. Take my mom to Hawai'i
  4. go with my husband to New Zealand
  5. have a super fun wedding
  6. show in a gallery
  7. create a successful creative business
  8. inspire others
  9. buy a house
  10. have multiple streams of income
  11. take my husband to Morocco
  12. work on a feature film
  13. bake more bread
  14. teach an online course
  15. oil paint
  16. create scrapbooks from old memories
  17. shoot on analog still photography film again
  18. publish a book of my artwork
  19. speak at events
  20. lead workshops
  21. take classes at the folk school with my husband
  22. have a family day each month (rock climb, cycling around the beach, LEGO museum, jet ski/wakeboard, aqua jet pack, hiking)
  23. read a book each month
  24. organize a monthly girl's night potluck
  25. visit Chicago yearly
  26. cook 
  27. learn to throw pottery
  28. do my nails more often
  29. get a monthly massage 
  30. go shopping more often
  31. sleep
  32. scuba dive
  33. start a scholarship program 
  34. mentor high school students
  35. Learn Japanese
  36. Learn Portugues
  37. Visit Kyoto
  38. Visit Japan 
  39. Stretch canvas
  40. Attend workshop by my favorite artist
  41. learn to use a speed bag
  42. ride a bike without handlebars
  43. Eat healthy
  44. Excercise
  45. volunteer helping sea turtles
  46. visit the turtle hospital on marathon key
  47. learn to make Moroccan tea
  48. learn to ride a motorcycle
  49. learn to skateboard
  50. get over my fear of flying
  51. get a hot tub
  52. buy a house
  53. serve as a White House photographer
  54. learn to do a handstand
  55. fit into this one pair of black jeans again
  56. create work that inspires others to move their life forward
  57. mentor
  58. become a CFP
  59. watch a rocket launch from Kennedy Space Center
  60. spontaneously take a trip to Venice, Italy
  61. learn glassblowing in Venice
  62. spend more days at the beach 
  63. throw a surprise birthday party for each member of my family
  64. start a documentary film foundation that funds “studying up”
  65. meet an astronaut
  66. get up early
  67. visit Tahiti
  68. climb a volcano
  69. donate 10% of my income
  70. learn to sail from my husband 
  71. grow an online business to sustain my lifestyle
  72. host a monthly friends and family bbq 
  73. help someone get a job
  74. have someone tell me that a portrait I made of them is the best picture they’ve ever seen of themselves
  75. send a sun design into ‘Sunday Morning’
  76. visit the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville
  77. go to Morocco with my bff
  78. help someone start a business
  79. plant an avocado tree and nurture it through maturity
  80. successfully grow a watermelon from seed
  81. sustain a butterfly garden and feeders
  82. reproduce a Salvador Dali painting
  83. show at Art Basel Miami
  84. learn to play guitar
  85. give abundantly 
  86. fund clean water initiatives in developing countries
  87. publish a book of poems
  88. get a dog
  89. fund a Pencils of Promise school
  90. curate a museum exhibit
  91. kite surf
  92. get a NatGeo commission
  93. love louder
  94. go to more concerts
  95. get lasik
  96. take my husband to Chicago
  97. visit the Museum of Surgical History
  98. visit the Tate Modern
  99. see the entire Louvre
  100. visit the Art Institute of Chicago

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. -E.E. Cummings

Before (me 2 years ago) = Analysis Paralysis
 

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 Two years ago, I self-diagnosed my brain with a serious case of analysis-paralysis. A condition I also like to call the "Once X happens, then the time will be right to follow my dreams/be happy/do that thing I've been meaning to do/[Insert whatever else you're putting off]." 

Analysis Paralysis is what happens when you spend more time deciding, and not enough time actually doing. I spent a full year just *deciding* what the name of my new project would be. How much did that get done? NOTHING. 

Taking action can be scary, but it can also be thrilling, exhilarating, and refreshing. 

 

What have you been over analyzing? What can you do right now to move forward on it (besides planning or deciding)!? Start now!

 

After (me 2 weeks ago) = Boom!


Two weeks ago I QUIT MY 9 to 5 AND AM NOW A SELF-EMPLOYED FILMMAKER + PHOTOGRAPHER! Woot woot!!!

6 years ago I started my side-hustle with a tiny hidden dream that has slowly sprouted and is now blossoming into my greatest joy. 6 years of doubt, day jobs, wondering if it's the "right" thing...of course it is! It's time for a whole new chapter! It's time to dream big, work hard, and make it count! BOOM!  ‪#‎DontBelieveMeJustWatch‬


Analysis Paralysis cured!

"But How?!", you might ask.

Two fundamental actions:

1. Doing: I had a vague idea of what I wanted to spend my time doing (I didn't have a perfect website, target client, etc.) I just had an idea -- taking pictures, and teaching -- and I made the intention to do that every day.

I literally set a stop watch for 5 minutes and did that every day for at least 5 minutes. No deciding, no analysis, just at least 5 pure, glorious, unanalyzed minutes of doing. This grew to more than 5 minutes, but the idea here is to build a habit and without analyzing it. Nike knows best here. 

2. Feeling safe: I faced the root cause of my analysis paralysis = fear. I literally made a list of everything I could think of that could go wrong if I became self-employed. And then, next to each item, I wrote how I would overcome each fear if it happened and what I could do to proactively mitigate it (i.e. getting Health Insurance would be a proactive step to take from going bankrupt should I need to go to the hospital, etc.).

Then, I took all of the proactive steps I could to mitigate the risk, so that I felt safe making the shift to self-employment. I created a list of about 15 things that needed to be true for me to feel safe becoming self-employed, and then I did those things one by one. 


Bottom line: You're already you. Time will pass whether you're ready or not. In a year from now, don't let thinking/deciding be the thing that held you back from a year of manifesting the life you dream of. Go forth. Take actions today that your future you will thank you for.