Simplest of the simple, and yet….

IMG_0923Life is a messy business. I really do not know why I keep adding to the mess. Open my cupboards and you will wonder, why does she not keep it tidy? As just now, why is the cheese slicer in the same drawer as the matches? Are they ever used together? Well, sometimes…

Is it more time-consuming to put the named cheese slicer with the cutlery. Well it could be, but I am not that busy am I?

The thing is, I need space and order to think, but I do not naturally create space and order. Another of my great-grandmother’s sayings is “everything that is not stolen or burnt up will return,” could be true,  I just am to impatient to wait for that.

Accordingly this is how I keep just enough organized.

1. I bundle.
For instance :When I empty one garbage can, say in the kitchen, I try to go through the house and do the others as well.
If I buy one gift, I think of others that would like the same and buy more.

2. I use the time I have.
For instance: I clear out my purse, when I change into another. I clear out the named cutlery drawer and not my whole kitchen, while emptying the dish washer. I delete messages when waiting in line.

3. I sort when I need it.
For instance: filing all email concerning one case when I am dealing with that.

4. I always de clutter when looking for something

5. I clear out one space every day, which means I pretty much go through my house once a year.

6. Most of all and through it all, I prioritize. Not according to what others think is important, but according to the bigger goals of my life. Does searching for a cheese slicer make me a bad person? Of course it does not. Using time to search for the slicer, when I could have called someone, written a note, or just being quiet is, if not bad, it sure is wasteful.

Order is never about systems, it is always about what would you rather do than search. On the other hand, if looking for things keeps the treasure hunter alive in you, go ahead. Keep messy, you could even have a go at my drawers.

In November I take part in the NaBloPoMo,  in the BlogHer network. I post every day on “The Untangling Tens” what women do when life gets tangled. These are the ten tools that worked for those I have asked, what are yours?

The pictures in this blog are always by me, Solveig Mjolsnes. This one is of my 150 years old sewing table, which I probably think will help me keep my threads in order.

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Organize yourself

046 (56)I knew I could not cross that river. Just go from one stone to another my husband said, who never thinks of all the things that would happen if or when. So he and the dog jumped from one stone to another and called me dry and sound from the other side. I tried. Halfway my knees were shaking and the next step had to be a long jump. I went back.

Then I continued upstream until the river forked into two smaller streams. Then I took his good advice and went from stone to stone over one stream, then I paused for a while, and then I went over the other stream, and we could continue our hike together.

This is what organizing my self is all about. It is not about creating a magazine like reality. It is taking what you have and who you are to achieve what you want to do.

Even if the river is passable and the advice of one step at the time is a good one, I have to know which steps I am able to take. I know that I have to divide a big task in doable steps, but to organize myself I have to know what I am organizing. As on this picture, from another river, what I see, is all about where I stand. Could be  crooked, could be upside down, but we all have to work with what we got. From there we can go from stone to stone.

In November I take part in the NaBloPoMo,  in the BlogHer network. I post every day on “The Untangling Tens” what women do when life gets tangled. These are the ten tools that worked for those I have asked, what are yours?

All pictures in this blog are taken by me, Solveig Mjolsnes.

The list of now

IMG_1605Ok, lists are for doing, are they not? I will write some highly practical lists too, as of course most of the friends I asked told me they did. One said she wrote narrow lists, with only one word on each line. Then the list was long, but quickly got shorter. I tend to group tasks, and make lists that are as wide as my paper. I start with every possible thing I can think of. To me it is immensely stressful if I feel I have a terrible workload ahead of me, which I do not know if it is possible to do. So I list everything, and then sort.

Of course some of the things are not really stressful, like yesterday I was to pick up a flower for a gift. I love spending time in a flower shop, talking to the florist, smelling the damp green air. Then I listed all the other stuff I had to do, and it just did not add up. Then it is time for a “list of now”, which is my way of saying, this can wait, this I can ask someone else to do, this I can do differently, and this I can do now. When life is running smoothly, these are also the tasks I have to do. Accordingly, I gave a gift that I had bought and wrapped earlier.

When life is tangled, and I do not really know which is the most important step, I cut some slack for myself. I remind myself that I do not know what I do not know, and allow myself to do as well as I can. Then it is time for another kind of “List of now”. Then it’s time for the list of things that I can do now, even if tomorrow or next year looms in darkness. Then it is time to see if something I can do now would make the times I am fearing easier. Then it is time to make a list of all the things that I do not know how to do, and give them a rest. Then I  realize that I can at least do the laundry, clear out a drawer, bake some bread or go for a walk. It is not much, but it is something, it is useful, and the less chaos I am surrounded with, the more fresh bread I can smell and the more fit I am, the more I am able to clear my mind for what I really have to do. If not now.

In November I take part in the NaBloPoMo,  in the BlogHer network. I post every day on “The Untangling Tens” what women do when life gets tangled. These are the ten tools that worked for those I have asked, what are yours?

All pictures in this blog are taken by me, Solveig Mjolsnes.

The list of who

IMG_1643I have not been particularly busy today. I have walked in the glittering snow in the woods with my daughter and my dog. I have had dinner with three of my kids, and I have gone through all my e-mail. I have even posted a post on wordpress! The problem of course was that I had not written it yet, which makes it slightly less interesting I would say.

I had decided on todays theme though, it is still lists, it is your list of treasures, the persons that makes your world. AS I forgot to write the post today I might as well tell you that I have a shortlist to not forget. My husband is on my list and I am on his. We are getting forgetful, so we jokingly say ” even if our brains are not working, good thing is we have two to share”. The real list is longer luckily.To get more insight and other perspective, even to remember, it takes more than two.

Sometimes I start to list everyone I know, why? That is to deal with that feeling that I need to do something to clear up something, make a call, write a letter, invite for coffee. To nourish friendship and relations is the best gift we can give our selves. Making a list is like poring over a treasure chest being reminded of the joy I have with each of them. Which in turn reminds me what is important in life and what is not.

I do never make a list of people to see what they can help me with, that is a career tool, not a way to grow and untangle. To untangle, you remind yourself who you belong together with, that what you do is needed in the world, that we all need each other. I believe that this is what makes my life worth living.

 

In November I take part in the NaBloPoMo,  in the BlogHer network. I post every day on “The Untangling Tens” what women do when life gets tangled. These are the ten tools that worked for those I have asked, what are yours?

All pictures in this blog are taken by me, Solveig Mjolsnes.

The list of you

IMG_0640At times the best picture of my life is a ball of wool made of all kinds of yarns, wonderful threads or lints from my sewing room floor, all mixed together like if my dog had played with it. If I want to finish my project I have to know which thread I am looking for, and slowly untangle and ease it from the rest.

The day I started the untangling tens project was the day I was told that we did not have enough work for everybody. After a day of ups and downs, of doing my chores like a sleepwalker, of walking the dog for hours, I found myself with a list. It was almost finished before I reflected on what I was doing. I studied it closer, as I realized that this was my preferred tool to sort my tangles.
The next thought was of course, if this is what I do, what do others do? Which is the content of this blog series. Some of us do everything, others have a favorite method. When I asked, these are the most popular tools we use to untangle our tangles: to do nothing, to walk, to sleep, to eat, to light a candle, to give thanks, to make a list, to organize, to call a friend, to start.

Seems I am first of all a listmaker. We do different lists though, my go-to-tool is my list of me. I realized I have been doing that at every crossroad.

On that day, I did not list the bills that were due, or the jobs I could apply for. I listed all the words that I know to be true when I am at my best. At times like this, I look back and search for the days when I have felt energy and joy pulling back my shoulders, lifting my chin and filling my chest. One of my moments is the strength I felt when I knew I had won a design contest. Another is when I facilitated the solution of a conflict and succeeded where everyone else had given in. Another is skiing into the woods, standing on a hilltop and watching the sun set. Another is the glimpse of understanding when praying with a friend. They are not hard-sell skills, they are who I am.

I also list the words that tell me of situations I hated. Where someone was unjust, when someone left me with responsibility I was not able to handle, all the days where what I did, did not add up to what I want to be.
These moments help me see what to avoid, and what my values are.

These lists are not orderly, there are flowers and clouds, boxes and sentences all over the page. In between I put some words that comes to my mind. Like color, snow, ocean, church.

When I feel there is something to work on, I take a look on my list, adding, underlining and connecting. A list like this is not a to-do list, it is a to-be list. It is my tool to remind me what I need to have present in my life. It is not a tool that makes my tangle less, it is the key that helps me know what to look for, what to keep and what to add. It is not the finished project, not even the start of the project itself. It is getting to know the quality and the color of the yarn I want to keep to start knitting, and then the work may begin.

In November I take part in the NaBloPoMo,  in the BlogHer network. I post every day on “The Untangling Tens” what women do when life gets tangled. These are the ten tools that worked for those I have asked, what are yours?

All pictures in this blog are taken by me, Solveig Mjolsnes.

What are you entitled to?

IMG_9080The world is unjust.
If you look at the statistics it is quite clear.
I do not have my share. So many people have more hunger, war, fear, illness, poverty and violence in their lives than I have ever known. It is just not right.
On the other hand some have more wealth, fame and health too.Totally unjust, I know.
Without making saints of the poor, or villains of the rich, I do think neither situation has anything to do with how much gratitude we have in our hearts. If you are not able to live in the fact that you are worthy of love and responsible for both loving your self and others, you will never feel that you get what you are entitled too, whether you are poor or rich. Insecurity and self-hate can both make you crave more than you need and hinder you from standing up for yourself. Loving only yourself will make you greedy and needy, whether you have more than your share or nothing at all.
Of course we, who live in the middle, with relative wealth, could start to list all the goods we have, to force gratitude out of sheer numbers. It would not necessarily make us thankful though. If I look for gratitude that way, I will either feel shame that I have so much and give something away, or I feel resentment that I do not have the riches others have. I could even make it a semi-pious thought like” I would have been so much better at sharing that wealth than he or she is”. Neither approach fills me with wonder about the fact that if I am alive to ponder such thoughts, I obviously have one thing to be thankful for.

To give thanks is to change focus from what we want to what we have. Which could be less than we need, and make us look for other options. It could also be a reminder that what we have more than we need, which means we are keeping somebody else’s share which of course is not ours at all.
As such it is a very practical untangling tool, and not a spiritual experiment. It works if my tangle is emotional and relational too. To look at something differently, you have to look at the problem from a different angle, which you do by placing yourself somewhere else. Like going for a walk and then think about your tangles. Or lighting a candle and see what issue comes first to your mind. Or  listening when you name your worry dolls. Or seeing what you do when treating yourself as well as you would a friend.
Chances are you would see what is really important. That is your tool to redefine your tangles, and after all find the one thing you have that will help you go on, for that be thankful. That one thing will show you the wisdom you have gained from experience, the knowledge you have learned from living, the trust you have learned from love, that is life. For that be thankful.

In November I take part in the NaBloPoMo,  in the BlogHer network. I post every day on “The Untangling Tens” what women do when life gets tangled. These are the ten tools that worked for those I have asked, what are yours?

All pictures in this blog are taken by me, Solveig Mjolsnes.These horses are grazing the dry grasses in Foxen valley.

Knee deep in pastures green

002The world was all new, a summer morning in June, where every living thing was thriving and growing. We were all in the car, going into the countryside. As we were at breakfast that day a neighbor asked if I would join some friends for a cup of tea in the evening, and I had declined. We were all worn out I had said, we really needed some quiet time together before getting ready for the next week that would be really busy. The promise of being led to “pastures of green” felt very far from being fulfilled (Psalm 23). When we arrived at the picnic spot our usual place was taken. Even so we manged to secure a peaceful place on the riverbank. While eating we kept making plans for the next week. The kids were also not in the mood for playing, there were ants, there were bees, they wanted to go home. We did not stay long. The obligations of the next week loomed over us. Better just to go home and make a head start on it we thought. We did not talk much in the car, but my mind was racing, what would be the most logical sequence to do the tasks when we came home? Dinner first or laundry first, the email or the phone calls? We were not rested.

Later, when I put the lasagna in the oven, I realized that both the green pastures and the quiet waters had materialized quite literally. Just where we had been that day, only we had not brought our minds with us. After dinner I dropped my plans and went to join the others, at least to soak up the blessings of the quiet waters of a teacup.

This keeps happening. In the middle of the most hectic and chaotic times, there is suddenly an unplanned pocket of quiet. I am learning though that what happens is not a time we forgot to fill with tasks but the blessing and necessity of being led to green pastures and quiet waters. We just have to allow ourself to receive it, as a gift. To me this is one of the first lessons of thankfulness. Not to ask for something new and give thanks if it happens, but to realize what is already there.

In November I take part in the NaBloPoMo,  in the BlogHer network. I post every day on “The Untangling Tens” what women do when life gets tangled. These are the ten tools that worked for those I have asked, what are yours?

All pictures in this blog are taken by me, Solveig Mjolsnes.