How cluttered is your home? Did you know that Buddhists believe that sweeping is a way to cultivate mindfulness? For the upcoming new year, I plan to focus on cultivating mindfulness in my own so that I can spend less time daydreaming or stressing throughout the day. I read a recent article from ZenHabits.net on de-cluttering:
Clutter is a manifestation of a) holding onto the past and b) fear of what might happen in the future. Letting go of clutter is a way to live more mindfully and in the present.
The act of decluttering itself can be a mindfulness practice.
Why do we have clutter in the first place? Why do we keep it when we don’t really need it? Maybe we think we do need it — for two reasons:
1. We don’t want to let go of the past. Often clutter comes in the form of emotional attachment to objects that have significance to us. They might remind us of a loved one, or a vacation, or a special event like a birthday, funeral, graduation, etc. It might be a gift from someone. All of this is living in the past. I’m not saying we should forget about the past, but letting go of these objects (and they’re only objects, they’re not the events or loved ones themselves) … it is a way of releasing our hold on the past. It’s a way of living more in the present. I never forget the past, but it’s not a place I try to dwell.
2. We’re afraid of the future. Clutter might be things we think we might need sometime in the future. We hold on to them just in case. Over-packing for a trip is a good example — we bring more than we really need, just in case we need them. It’s the same in our houses — we have a ton of things we don’t really need or use, just in case. We’re afraid of being unprepared for the future, but the truth is we can never be totally prepared. We can’t control the outcome of the future, and trying to do so means that we’re never really living in the present moment. We’re always preparing for what might (or might not) come.
Look at your clutter carefully, one object at a time, and ask yourself why you’re holding onto each object. It’s probably for one of these two reasons, if you’re honest.
Here at Ladies Again, we’re focused on personal growth and self-improvement. As such, it’s pretty easy for us to get so focused on changing ourselves that we forget that sometimes we’re perfect just the way we are. There’s one part of our makeup that we should be content with: our sense of intuition. Our intuition is that small nagging feeling in the back of our guts telling us when someone or something seems strange or odd. That voice lives in everyone, and it’s our hind brains noticing that something is off. The voice exists to warn us to escape from bad situations.
I learned a great deal about intuition from reading Gavin De Becker’s book “The Gift of Fear: Survivor Signals that Protect Us from Violence.” The bestselling book has been flying off bookstore and library shelves since it was first published in the late 1990s. I had to wait months to check out the book at the library. Now that’s a popular book! If you have not read the book yet, I strongly suggest you pick it up.
There are a few highlights from the book that will help you, a person who is interested in self-improvement. First, in order to get in touch with your intuition, you must know what it is. Intuition means “to guard, to protect.” De Becker writes: [Intuition is] a cognitive process, faster than we recognize and far different from the familiar step-by-step thinking we rely on so willing. We think conscious thought is somehow better, when in fact, intuition is soaring flight compared to the plodding of logic.” He continues to argue that “intuition is always in response to something and always has your best interest at heart.”
This book clicked for me. I came away from reading the text understanding that a gut reaction to something is not necessarily a mystical flighting feeling, but a quickly-processed assessment of a potential dangerous or harmful situation. By the end of it, the book made me feel more comfortable about my ability to assess risk.
The author includes a number of tips for people who are concerned with protecting themselves from harm. He talks about getting out of domestic violence situations (recognize the threat of death, end contact and hide low somewhere safely), ending relationships with stalkers (cut off all contact since stalkers like people who hate saying no firmly), preventing workplace shootings (fire problem employees immediately), penalizing murderers (don’t publicize their crimes). He also talks about the ways that role models act as violence prevention officers since many violent perpetrators were abused and neglected as children. This book opened my eyes to seeing the way the role models transform lives. After reading this book, I WILL donate to Big Brother, Big Sister to promote the work that they do to help children.
Some quick tips from the book.
What does your intuition sound like? There are a few common messengers of intuition: nagging feelings, persistent thoughts, dark humor, wonder, anxiety, curiosity, hunches, doubt, hesitation, suspicion, and fear.
Predators like rapists use many tactics to attack people. Here are a few of them: Talking to people as if they are on the same team when they just met (“We’re in this elevator together), premature charm and niceness, sharing too many details, shaming people they just met (called typecasting), helping people without their permission (grabbing grocery bags), saying that they “promise” (thus denying that they will harm you).
Some signs of violent and potentially dangerous spousal abuse: The woman has a feeling she is at risk, the man accelerates the pace of the relationship (i.e., marrying too fast), he resolves conflict with intimidation, bullying and violence, he is verbally abusive, he uses threats to control, he breaks or strikes things in anger, he has battered in previous relationships, he cites alcohol or drugs as an excuse or explanation for hostile or violent conduct, he has a criminal record, he becomes jealous of anyone or anything that takes her time away from the relationship, and he refuses to accept rejection.
If you’re interested in learning more about your intuition, read the book! I highly recommend it.
What does it mean to be gracious? Like maturity, I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it. Here’s a story: I have a friend who worked in information technology at a small company. I worked in the office with the friend and noticed that many older employees would ask the friend to go to their homes to set up new digital tools and gadgets, like streaming services. My friend was very willing to help them. I said to my friend one day: “That’s so nice of you that you help so many people. How do you have time to do it?” He replied: “I don’t have the time to do all of this! But those people help me at work and I like them, so I don’t complain.”
I was shocked by his revelation. He was willing to go above and beyond to help people, and he never complained about it or mentioned it at work. I wondered, do I have the maturity or compassion to help people in this way and not expect something in return? The answer was definitely No. As I age and mature, I desire to become more gracious. Why? Graciousness allows a person to make a positive impact on the lives of others. Let’s define the term.
The gracious person is warm, welcoming and always looking for the opportunity to elevate others instead of themselves. Because they are comfortable in their own skin, the gracious person does not constantly engage in self-aggrandizement; they do not feel the need to assert their superiority over others. Instead, they constantly search for opportunities to make those around them as comfortable as possible.
If you are gracious, then your aim should be to make the day of anyone you interact with more pleasant rather than less, even in the most imperceptible ways. No matter how bad a day a person is having, a person does not have the right to make other peoples’ days less pleasant because of it. Personal difficulties are just that – personal. They are not an excuse for being unpleasant with strangers, family and friends.
What this means that a gracious person does not brag around others to make themselves feel better. Instead, they think of ways to make others around them feel better. We’ve all met snobby people who enjoy putting others down or poking fun of others to make themselves feel better. Here’s another gem from How to be Gracious:
Sometimes people use manners and etiquette to make people around them look bad or seem unsophisticated. This is not gracious – it is rudeness and snobbery. When manners harden into formality or a way to elevate oneself at the expense of others, this is not gracious.
Have you been gracious recently? What did you do to help someone else?
[This is a re-post of a previously-published article.]
I’ve always gotten nervous by the idea of eating in fine restaurants, and my fear of publicly embarrassing myself while dining out seems to grow as I get older. I wonder: Which fork should I use? What happens if I spill food on myself? Or worse, what happens if I mispronounce a word on the menu? Will everyone in the restaurant, waitstaff included, know that I am a phony who does not deserve to eat there?
How much do you volunteer each year? Would you say 10-20 days a week? If you do not volunteer regularly, consider becoming a volunteer and using your time to help others in need. I currently volunteer at a hospital so that you I can learn more about working in the medical field. There are thousands of way ways to volunteer: You could work in a hospital, build houses, pack meals or help a child learn to love reading. Why? First, it feels great to help other people. By volunteering your time, you are increasing your ability to care for other people, which will make you more feminine. After all, compassion is one of the hallmarks of femininity. In addition to the impact that volunteering has on your ability to empathize with others, volunteering also offers a number of unexpected benefits.
Thinking of Others
Volunteering will help you to think about the needs of other people in your community. Though you may be successful or live comfortably, many people in your very same community are facing serious challenges and need assistance. Perhaps, for example, you do not visit your local library that often, but that library makes a big difference for veterans trying to find jobs or local foster teens who need quiet spaces to do their homework. Volunteering helps to remind you that you are sometimes greater than you think: Your few hours of volunteer service may make the difference for a family struggling to feed their children or a homeless person trying to get back on his feet. You can also learn more about your community through volunteering.
Volunteering teaches you to be grateful for the opportunities you currently have. As a lady, you have to carry yourself with grace and humility, and one of the best ways to appreciate the life you have is to meet others who are in need of help. Volunteering gives you a perspective that you may not get at your job or hanging out with your friends.
Connecting with other Thoughtful People
Volunteering is a great way to expand your social network! Consider that by volunteering in a tutoring program or in an environmental cleanup project you are meeting others in your area who are also interested in the same activities. Maybe you might connect with environmentalists on a volunteer project that you would not have met otherwise. Many people have met friends and partners from volunteer projects.
I always think that volunteering is one of the best ways to get hands-on experience in a new field or activity. Unlike formal internships, volunteering opportunities give you unfiltered and unstructured access to new career fields. By volunteering on a home building project, for example, you have the chance to learn directly what it is like to work as a construction worker, if that’s a career you are interested in. Similarly, a person thinking about becoming a nurse can learn about all facets of working in a medical setting by volunteering in a hospital.
Will you host a party this summer? Back in the day, it was expected that women would host elegant parties to bring together friends and acquaintances from their various social circles. Middle- and upper-class women would compete to see who could host the most popular parties. Today, many women (and men) have issues finding time to host house parties, so home events are far less common than they used to be. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you have time to read this blog post, then you have time to spare to plan a party for your social circle.
If you have never hosted a party before, start with as easy project, such as hosting a barbeque or beach bonfire. Outdoor events are much easier because you do not have to worry about securing color-decorated table settings or fine silverware. Another easy option would be to host a game night or potluck in your home. You can use recyclable dinnerware and serve food on one central table.
If you want to host an event of medium difficulty, consider hosting a brunch, creative event (i.e., painting night) or dance party in your home. With the brunch, you will have to round up dishes and seating options for your guests. As for the creative events, you will need to prepare for the party by purchasing the craft materials (check Pinterest for ideas). For the dance party, you will need to secure a DJ or a band, plus you will need to make sure that your neighbors are okay with the loud music. Prepare to spend a great deal of time cleaning up after your dance party ends (trust me).
If you are interested in hosting a high-level (top-shelf!) difficult event, consider hosting a dinner party in your home. I classify dinner parties as the hardest events to host because of the amount of pressure on the host to create a seamless and elegant event. With the dinner party, you will need to select a set of stylish table settings, cook excellent meal course options, and secure wine and other beverages. For this event, you will need to also check if your guests have food allergies or limitations.
Here’s a few tips to hosting a party that will be the talk of the town:
Don’t just select a date in your calendar and begin planning your party on that day. You must first ask friends in your social circle if they are interested in your party idea. Do they want to go to a Pinterest-inspired painting night in your home, or are they more excited about a summer beach bonfire? Once you decide the kind of party you will have, you must also think about when your closest friends are available for an event. You want to make sure that you select a date far in advance, usually one to two months early. After all, you do not want people to skip your event because they already made plans.
Prepare for Your Party with a List
After you select a date, begin to think about the theme for your party. Will all of the cups have one central color or pattern? Select a theme, then walk through every step of your party to determine what you need to buy or cook. When a person walks into your home, should they get a name tag? Then purchase name tags and markers for the party. When they come your bonfire, should they receive a flower lei necklace? Think about every item you will need, including paper towels and band-aids.
Get a Core Group of Friends to Help–Thereby Ensuring that they Come
Once you start planning your party, choose a few select tasks that your closest friends can help you with. I say this tip so that you can ensure that a few select people are certain to attend your event, after all, they have a responsibility to help in some way with the event! You may also benefit from their help. Have one friend bring a few bottles of white wines, and have another friend bring the plastic forks and knives. Ask one friend to take photos throughout the event. One friend can bring the pinata, if necessary.
On the day of your party, eat as much as you can before the party so that you can prepare for all of the running around you’ll do during the party. Trust me, you will not have time to eat a full meal during the party. You’ll be too busy socializing, which is a good thing!
Have Fun and Make the Rounds
Make sure to talk to everyone at your party. Introduce your acquaintances to your friends and vice versa. You never know when new connections will be made at your party.
Do you have any party hosting tips? Share them below on online using the hashtag #ladiesagain
On Ladies Again, we write about better ways to take care of yourself because we realize that self-care is important to femininity. It is for this reason that we write about our own journeys with weight loss and finding makeup and self-care routines that work effectively. Below, I’m sharing my own personal journey through one aspect of self-care.
For years, I struggled with an obsession that I hid in secret. I would think about it every day, like when I showered, when I was at work, when I was in the library, when I watched television and when I read magazines. I would think about it especially when I noticed my reflection in mirrors and building windows. My obsession was my skin, which was plagued with large cystic acne.
For years, I coasted through high school and college with little to no acne. I had a few small forehead bumps occasionally, but I never had substantial pimples or breakouts on my face. My skin was so clear and smooth that I sometimes received compliments from others about the quality of my skin. All of this ended after I graduated from college and decided to stop taking hormonal birth control. Suddenly and without warning, I started getting large red blotches on my face and massive cystic pimples under the surface of my skin. Shortly after the pimples subsided, dark-colored and deep-pitted acne scars started to form on my face. My beautiful clear skin became rough, blotchy and pitted. I started to have serious anxiety about my skin. My friends and family started to notice the acne breakout happening on my face. Like it or not, your physical appearance is the first impression you make to the world, and I was cognizant of this fact more than ever before. I felt helpless and I was confused about what was going on with my skin, and I felt ashamed and embarrassed.
Makeup did not work to cover it up, and neither did over-the-counter acne facial washes and acne creams. Products that were supposed to help the acne ended up drying out my skin, which encouraged my skin to produce more oil. With the additional oil production, I ended up using more drying creams, and the cycle continued. I also spent a great deal of money on pricey dermatologists. One sinister (and highly-respected) dermatologist convinced me to take powerful antibiotics for months to keep the acne at bay. Doing so led me to have serious gastrointestinal issues as a result. Nothing worked.
Collectively, I spent hours researching acne treatments online and in libraries. I tried one quack acne method after another. I gave up peanut oil and I applied ice packs to my face every day. At one point, at my craziest point, I was sleeping every night with a few cold green teabags on my face. Crazy and desperate, right?
One day, by sheer luck, I stumbled upon a book that described the role diet plays in supporting overall health. The book, Clear Skin Weekend, specifically detailed the way that processed sugar in particular increases the production of hormones that create oil. Bacteria is attracted to excess oil, so skin infections (acne) happen when bacteria invade the oily pores. People with acne-prone skin have unique skin that is prone to trapping oil, which is why they must take additional steps to minimize the oil and subsequent harmful bacteria on their skin.
Clear Skin Weekend changed my life! The book made it is easy for me to understand the connection between diet and skin care, and gave me simple steps to take to improve my skin and overall health on a regular basis. I learned about all of the different ways that acne-prone skin is unique. Usually acne is caused by a hormonal imbalance paired with acne-prone skin. But sometimes, acne can be caused by a fungal infection or a reaction or allergy to a product.
The book also helped me to realize that sometimes conventional wisdom is wrong. For years, the medical profession has said that there is no link between diet and acne, but new research is showing that they are wrong. I now realize that the birth control impacted my hormones levels in a drastic way, which was altered when I stopped taking the birth control. Then, my hormone levels continued to spiral out of control when I began eating a diet high in refined sugars and low in fiber. Clear Skin Weekend gave me a list of steps to take to change my diet for the better and get my skin back to normal. Not only did my skin improve, but my overall health changed. I had more energy and I lost weight.
The book also discussed ways to improve the skin through select products. I learned that products, like skin exfoliants, that work for many people may be abrasive for individuals with acne-prone skin. Acne-prone skin is unique in that it needs to be exfoliated more often than other skin types to stay acne-free, but the methods and products used to exfoliate the skin must be gentle in nature. So, think gentle enzyme exfoliants, not abrasive sea salt exfoliants. The book also detailed hair and skin care products that are harmful to the skin.
If you struggle with acne, consider reading the ground-breaking guidebook Clear Skin Weekend. It’s worth the investment if it will change your overall physical health and improve your self-esteem.
What are your experiences with acne and skin care? Talk about your experiences reading Clear Skin Weekend using the hashtag #ladiesagain.
Have you ever been in a disorganized, cluttered and filthy home? You know, one that is filled with stacks of papers, crowded kitchen sinks, overflowing trash cans and grimy toilet seats? I, unfortunately, have experienced the horror of being inside filthy homes before. These of the homes of my colleagues, classmates and family members. I’ve been in homes so messy that I was not sure where to step or sit down, for fear of sitting on an item or stepping on clutter. The clutter is not just limited to the home: A messy person is messy everywhere. I’ve also had the unfortunate luck of being inside of someone’s cluttered car or messy work office.
There could be a variety of reasons that explain why a person a person could have a cluttered home. It could be that messiness is in some way related to a lack of conscientiousness, or a lack of inattentiveness to detail (messiness is common among people with Attention Deficit Disorder). Or, the person could just be busy and does not make cleaning a priority for some reason. It’s also possible that a cluttered person may have hoarding tendencies and feel an unhealthy attachment to material items. Or maybe, some messy people just feel more comfortable living in cluttered environments, similar to pigs in a muddy pigsty. I once had a roommate who, when the subject of cleanliness came up, said that she preferred her house to look “lived in,” and that too much cleanliness was overbearing. Yuck.
Cleanliness is a subject of utmost importance to feminine ladies. A clean home is a welcoming home. You should feel pride in being a responsible person who keeps their home clean and organized. Hold yourself to high standards because it is up to you to make cleaning a priority. Neglect is not sexy nor is it healthy. Additionally, a messy home communicates instability of some sort. And think about how productive you could be if you maintained a clean and organized home! I have always believed that messiness, in general, is bad, but I think it is unforgivable if a messy home belongs to a woman. I have just always imagined that our kind and compassionate nature would naturally lend itself to help us keep our homes clean. But, alas, some women struggle with cleanliness more than others.
Perhaps cleanliness is a challenge for you. You may want to keep your home cleaner, but you just do not have the time. Below, we offer a few easy ways to keep your home clean.
Get to the Problem First
If your home is frequently cluttered or unorganized, what is causing the clutter? Are you too busy? Or, if you are honest with yourself, do you dislike cleaning? Do you live alone and lack pressure to keep your house clean until guests come over? Are you unorganized in all aspects of your life? Are you busier than you should be? Take some time this week to think about what is causing the clutter in your life. Think about specific examples to get to the source of the issue. Think about your bathroom, for example. Do you empty the trash every on a schedule, or do you just dump the wastebasket when the trash overflows? If it is the latter, what is stopping you from cleaning the bathroom regularly? You need to get to the root of the problem before you can solve it.
Make a Schedule
If you wait until your home needs to be cleaned to get your home in order, it will never look clean. You should not wait until your trash piles up or there is mold growing on the shower tiles before you decide to put your gloves on and do some cleaning. You should set aside at least an hour every week to clean your home. You may need to set aside more time than that depending on the size of the home. Pick a day in the week to schedule a time clean your home, which includes doing a deep cleaning of your kitchen sink, dumping the trash, disinfecting the kitchen counters, mopping/vacuuming the floor, scrubbing the tub, washing your bathroom sink and cleaning the toilet. Set aside an additional 20 minutes to file and sort any paperwork or tools that are lying around your home.
Have a System
Do you mentally have a system for how you like to clean your home? Create a cleaning methodology. Decide, for example, that you want to prefer to clean your kitchen before you clean your bedroom and bathroom. Then, move on to cleaning your car or closets, if that is a part of your system. Make a habit to keep a certain amount of bleach and other cleaning products in your bathroom and kitchen. Create a system that works just for you.
Figure out how to make cleaning more enjoyable. When you figure out how to make it a fun activity, you’ll be more inclined to do it regularly. I love cleaning because it is the one time every week when I have downtime to myself. I can de-stress from the week’s activities when I’m mopping or cleaning my refrigerator. I also like to listen to music on full blast when I’m cleaning. I might even dance a little when I’m cleaning. Some people may listen to a television show or film while they clean. Find a way to make cleaning fun!
What’s your cleaning technique? And do you have any horror stories from visiting other people’s homes? Share in the comments below!
How do you show love and care to others on a regular basis? In what ways do you like to show your spouse that you care about them? How do you care for your family and friends? And if you have them, how do you show love to your children?
One of the hallmarks of being a lady is being empathetic to the needs of others. Feminine women know how to show others that they care about them, and that they are understanding and attune to the needs of others. The difference between feminine women and masculine women is in the effort made to think about how to care and support people other than themselves. They know how to listen carefully to loved ones to find ways that they can support them better. Perhaps that includes bringing soup to a friend feeling sick, baking muffins for a neighbor, or offering to drive a relative to a job interview. It might even include occasionally sending a friend a card or hand-written note to show them that you care. Feminine women are masters at recognizing ways to help others around them.
As I continue on my journey to to improve my sense of femininity, I am always looking for ways to improve myself every day. It sounds crazy, but one of the best ways to improve compassion for others is to start small and get a houseplant. I know, you’re probably thinking, how is a nonverbal, static houseplant going to help me improve my compassion for others? Plants are great way to train yourself to think about other entities on a regular basis for several reasons. First, having a plant improves your sensitivity to the needs of others. The only way to keep the plant thriving and healthy is to pay careful attention to its needs. Does your plant need new soil? Is the plant dry and limp? Does it need sunlight? As a plant owner, you will need to think carefully about what the plant needs to stay alive. Depending on the plant, some houseplants require more care than others―think orchids, not peace lilies―so you can actually train yourself to be more caring by purchasing very delicate plants.
Second, plants require regular and consistent care, and having one in your home reminds you that the world does not revolve around you all the time. Other people have needs too, and having a plant teaches you to think about things other than yourself and your needs. Much in the same way that plant owners must remind themselves to water and re-pot their plants, feminine women also might remind themselves to call a distance relative to check up on them, or to make plans to visit a long-distance friend.
If you are interested in learning how to improve your sense of femininity, start small by getting one plant, and build up to buying 10-12 plants for your home. Your home will look better as a result of your efforts. If you have enough space in your home, consider upping the ante and starting a small garden. At one point a few years ago, I had a small vegetable garden on my balcony that brought me so much joy! I could not wait to get home from work to check on my tomatoes and zucchinis. At the same time that I had my balcony garden, I spent a lot of time caring for my partner and friends, and I attribute some of that caring to my garden. If there was a barometer for care and kindness to others, my levels were off the chart that summer thanks to my garden!
How do you show love and care through plants? Take a photo of your plant and share it using the hashtag #ladiesagain.
It’s been a very busy few months for all of us at Ladies Again. I joined a salsa dance team (to learn how to be more feminine, of course) and African Femininity started a fabulous new job. We’re also in the process of bringing on new writers to Ladies Again, so that is exciting!
Sometime in the last month, through the rush of all of the things going on in my life, I set aside some time to watch a short TED Talk called “Relationships Are Hard, But Why?” While watching the video, I had an epiphany: So much about what we’ve written on Ladies Again has been about attracting the right person and learning to be more feminine for that person, that it never occurred to me that it was possible that we could be the cause for our own negative relationship issues. I never realized that early childhood attachment issues could re-emerge during adulthood. According to Dr. Stan Tatkin, the TED Talk speaker, attachment issues have the power to negatively influence our ability to maintain healthy functioning relationships.
Dr. Tatkin defines people as anchors, waves and islands. Those individuals who are waves and islands experienced insecure attachment relationships during their formative first years. He defines the three groups in the following ways (summarized by Clinton Power):
Characteristics of Islands
People who are islands tend to:
like to be alone, enjoy their own space
have been raised to be self-sufficient and tend to avoid people
learn early on not to depend on people
often feel crowded in intimate relationships
be in a world of their own
self-soothe and self-stimulate
not turn to others for soothing or stimulation
find it hard to shift from being alone to interacting
under express their thoughts and feelings
process a lot internally
Characteristics of Waves
People who are waves tend to:
feel a great deal with their emotions
have strong attachments in childhood, but they were inconsistent
have helped soothe a parent or both parents who were overwhelmed
have felt rejected or turned away by one or both parents
focus on external regulation: asking others to help them soothe them
find it hard to shift from interacting to being alone
over-express and like to talk about all the details
stay in close physical contact to others
often think they are too much and nobody can tolerate them
Characteristics of Anchors
People who are anchors tend to:
come from a family where there was an emphasis on relationships
have experienced justice, fairness and sensitivity in their family
love to collaborate and work with others
read faces, voices and deal with difficult people well
Do any of these descriptions sound familiar? Read more in Tatkin’s illuminating book “Wired for Dating.”