Beauty As The Mother Of Courage

Miss RumphiusOne of my daughter’s favorite books as a child — and one of my favorites to read to her — was Barbara Cooney’s Miss Rumphius. 

While declaring her youthful intentions to see the exotic wonders of the world, a single-minded little girl is advised by her wise grandfather that in addition to accomplishing her goals she must do something “to make the world more beautiful.”

What a lovely Libran sentiment: making the world more beautiful! If someone told you that you must make the world more beautiful today, how would you react … Joyfully? With sheer panic? At a loss for where to begin?

Creating beauty doesn’t require an artistic temperament … Alice Rumphius planted lupines. We each have not only a unique way of creating beauty, but a human compulsion to do so!  A post from Ida Lawrence earlier this spring discusses the notion eloquently:

“A few days ago I tuned in to listen to an interview with trends forecaster Gerald Celente.  The conversation momentarily turned toward the beautiful environment Gerald has created within his office. He quoted a friend, saying, “Beauty is the antidote to fear.” Of course anyone who is mapping economic and social trends in today’s world is going to need courage. He created the office environment intentionally, both because he loves beauty, and because it is transformative – it changes energy, taking us from mind to heart.

The first question for us to consider is, how do we seek out beauty? We seek out beauty however we must! …..

the next question is, what does beauty do for us? It changes our thoughts, and our thoughts change our energy. I’m sure you’ve noticed that certain tones of voice, certain images and certain sounds can put you into a state of fear, anxiety, self pity, aggression and so forth while others can give you comfort, trust in the human heart, a reconnection with spirit, and a subtle energy shift  …

How do we create beauty for ourselves and others? First of all, we don’t have to be fine artists to create beauty. I know She's NEATyou feel the difference when you enter an orderly space, as opposed to a disorderly or cluttered space. You know immediately that someone, some other human being, took the time and used their energy to create order, to place things carefully here and there, to refresh and renew, and that is beautiful . ..

… The dedication of the artist is to their own inner spirit and its connection to the life force: it is an outstanding devotion. We cannot deny that the time we are living in is tumultuous. It requires that we pull something forth from within us, and that we all become the artist, devoted to the renewal of life. Now keep your heart up, and let’s carry on!”

The notion of beauty as the mother of courage is a compelling concept for our times. Alice Rumphius lived in a simpler world yet her grandfather knew the wisdom of it then.  With all the chaos, both natural and man-made, that surrounds us, the need for beauty is greater than ever.

See if you can take some time during this long holiday weekend to create something beautiful. Notice how the change makes you feel calm …  relaxed … more at peace. See if you don’t enjoy your day just a bit more because you have made the world a little more beautiful.

 

 

Jeanne Fiorini TarotWorks http://www.tarotworks.com

Being that she’s a quadruple Libran, beauty is an essential nutrient in Jeanne’s daily diet.
If you’d like  assistance creating order in your environment, or need some help refreshing and renewing the physical spaces in your life, She’s NEAT would be happy to help you scatter those seeds of peace and clarity. http://www.shesneat.com

ALSO:: She’s NEAT has a special 20% off for school teachers who could use help deconstructing their classrooms in the next few weeks. A great gift of appreciation for a teacher in your life…FMI visit http:shesneat.com 

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Lego Land

She's NEAT logoWhile preparing for a presentation to a South Portland “Think Local” meet-up group about my personal organization business She’s NEAT, a factoid appeared on a morning television show which seemed tailor-made for my upcoming talk.

In the context of Earth Day and discussing the small ways by which we all can positively impact the health of our planet, it was pointed out that enough Legos have been manufactured so that 62 pieces are available for every man, woman, and child on the planet.

This is great news for someone with a fledgling de-cluttering service; not so good news for the planet.

Americans are, for the most part, blessed with the problem of TOO MUCH STUFF. We have so much stuff that we’ve become Heavy2inured to all the stuff that is around us. And even if you recognize that you have too much stuff and so are not accumulating MORE stuff, reducing the amount of stuff you already have is another matter.

Our stuff is like those extra 10-15 pounds many of us carry around. We’ve become accustomed to the additional weight and although it would be nice to be trimmer and more fit, it’s way too much work to get that job done.

So we continue to carry the extra stuff, sometimes moving it right along with us as we change houses or apartments, only marginally aware of how it might be holding us back, or at the very least how it may be making things more difficult than need be.

This is where She’s NEAT comes in, with strategies, guidance, motivation, and focus to help live a less-cluttered life of lightness and ease. Just think for a moment how life could be improved with less stuff around you.

Seriously: Give yourself a moment to imagine the space you are sitting in having more space, less junk, and more clarity.

It’s nice, huh?

Jeanne Fiorini TarotWorks http://www.tarotworks.com Jeanne Fiorini enjoys the space and aesthetics which orderly environments provide. She’s NEAT can help bring this clarity to your home or office. Visit the She’s NEAT site FMI.

 

Emotional Clutter

afghanIn an old episode of Friends, a snarky boyfriend of Phoebe remarks to Monica, as she crams cookies into her mouth, “They’re just food; they’re not love.”

Ouch. The truth hurts.

Our emotions impact everything we do, whether we’re aware of it or not. Emotions are the force behind what we say, what we value, and what we cling to, whether those things are memories or grudges or granny’s frayed afghan.

Take a look around the room you’re sitting in and see if there are things around you that you don’t really want or need, but that hold some emotional charge for you. Oh yeah, we all have something that fits this description.

The key words in the above sentence are “don’t really want or need.” Emotional charge in itself is not BAD. In fact, a positive emotionally-charged object can energize a space quicker than you can snap your fingers.

But all objects, and especially clutter, have emotional components. Some of these emotions are conscious i.e. “That tea pot collection was my mother’s and I hate to get rid of it even though it’s really not my style.”porcelain

Some emotions are unconscious, i.e. “I’m hanging on to those size 8 clothes because I was happy then” or “I stockpile food in all my closets because I feel so uncertain of the future.”

A Personal Organizer can help with both these emotional components — and a good organizer is aware of both — but the client also needs to take responsibility for change if anything an organizer offers is going to make a permanent impact.

Anyone can clean up a messy space once, but it takes deliberate intention to keep a space clear of items that no longer serve that space. Here are some questions that can help clarify the issue:

  • “Do I keep this item out of guilt or responsibility?”
  • “Does this thing support the person I am NOW?”
  • “Am I finding things I’d forgotten — or didn’t know — I had?”
  • “Is this a useful or necessary item?”
  • “Do I have duplicates (or more) of the same item?”
  • “Does this object bring joy and beauty to my day?”
  • Is this harder process than I thought it would be?

De-cluttering the emotional debris is hard work, even for the most “organized” among us. But doing the work will help clear the path to the next steps in your life, if and when you’re ready.

Jeanne Fiorini TarotWorks http://www.tarotworks.comJeanne Fiorini can make being organized easier and less painful than you might think.  Visit the She’s Neat website or contact Jeanne at shesneat@myfairpoint.net.

De-Cluttering: Where To Start

Clutter is more than a messy room or a disorganized pocketbook. Clutter can create stress, degrade self-esteem, limit social interactions, and at the very least make everyday tasks more difficult than they need to be.

clutter

New things/people/energy can’t come into our life if there isn’t room enough for them; conversely, by keeping spaces free and open we allow the natural flow of life to enter. This does not mean that we all must get rid of our pretty things, but rather that a sense of space and of order needs to be established.

Sometimes we look at our rooms and feel overwhelmed by the prospect of getting things in order. “Where do I begin?” turns into “I’ll deal with it later.” Later becomes an even bigger obstacle, and ‘round and ‘round we go.

The ideal scenario is that de-cluttering happens every day: something new comes in, something used goes out… things are “put away” after their use … every task begins and ends with a clean slate.

The goal here is that every experience can be managed freely without having to work around unnecessary obstacles and unfinished projects.

Can you imagine getting ready to leave the house in the morning or making a meal at the end of the day without having to move through leftover debris?

The next best solution to the de-clutter-every-day scenario (yes, the ideal is a high bar) is to make a once-monthly pass through the space, on whatever day works best for you: the first Sunday of the month, the 15th of the month, etc.

Setting a “De-cluttering Day” on a seasonal schedule is also an excellent habit to establish. The weekend before bringing out the holiday decorations or the last weekend in June before the summer’s activities begin to roll are great opportunities to clear spaces before hectic schedules ensue.

Here’s a simple starting point to begin de-cluttering: obtain 2 large plastic bags and go through your space(s) putting “throw aways” in one bag and “give aways” in another. Once this pass is accomplished, whatever remains in the space can be filtered through, re-organized, packed up and/or used for a different function somewhere else in the home.

The best-de-cluttering projects do not involve bringing anything new to the space “to fix the problem” unless it increases functionality and/or aesthetics. Most people have plenty of attractive and useful things in their home, it’s the organizer’s job, like Michelangelo with his marble, to release the beautiful forms hidden within.

Jeanne Fiorini TarotWorks http://www.tarotworks.comJeanne Fiorini can make being organized easier – and more fun – than you might think!  Visit the She’s Neat website or contact Jeanne at shesneat@myfairpoint.net.

Composing A Life

February Purge DeClutter The February purge continues here at my house.

I’ve long since stopped trying to understand why some things have been saved for as long as they have. Regardless, if it doesn’t strum the heart strings in February 2013, out it goes.

I’ve found old photos which have since been posted on Facebook and are getting some good laughs; there are letters from assorted family members, some poignant and heartfelt while others reflect someone just being silly. Much of this is still save-worthy.

Stashed in a box alongside these mementos was a Xeroxed copy of the introduction to Composing A Life, a book written by Mary Catherine Bateson, daughter of anthropologist Margaret Mead.

The book was published in 2001, and I have no recollection of how/why the copy of the introduction came to me, or for what purpose it was saved. But on this – another– snowy Sunday I sat with a cup of coffee and recognized the value of these 11 pages.

The introduction, beautifully written, states the author’s essential observation: the world no longer supports a single, monolithic vision for one’s life. Improvements in health and longevity, technology, economics, and changes in society have forced us move past  “Plan A” and require us to now be able to perceive—and then create — a Plan B, C, D, and beyond.

How do we learn “improvised living,” being flexible in the face of the certainty of change, learning to become creative with “what is” as we cobble together a life of meaning and purpose? Are we even capable of it?  Bateson writes:

            All too often, men and women are like battered wives or abused children. We hold on to the continuity we have, however profoundly it is flawed. If change were less frightening, if the risks did not seen so great, far more could be lived.

           …when you watch people damaged by their dependence on continuity, you wonder about the nature of commitment, about the need for a new and more fluid way to imagine the future.graspinghand

That phrase damaged by their dependence on continuity really struck me. There is an essential “truth for our times” if I ever heard one! And the words are even more relevant today, twelve years after they were originally published.

The world we have invented now forces our hand. We’ve done this to ourselves, via science, technology  and social change, have called it “progress,” and yet we buck at the notion that there is no longer ONE correct path for our life!

It isn’t even about doing it efficiently and gracefully, but about being able to move past the familiar, to improvise rather than play the notes correctly, to think abstractly rather than recite from rote memory, to communicate spontaneously rather than have the “correct answer.”

Like it or not, IMPROV is the name of the game in the future that we’ve accidentally designed for ourselves, so we’d all better get on board.

I know I’m going to be musing on the ways I am damaged by my dependence on continuity.

How about you?

Jeanne Fiorini TarotWorks http://www.tarotworks.comJeanne Fiorini is a self-employed Tarot-reading, football-watching, yard sale-ing neat freak comedian who’s just trying to make sense of things. 
TarotWorks
She’s NEAT

February Purge

IMG_0735This is the time of year when people who live in Maine get antsy.
Enough with being indoors for days on end! Enough with listening to the furnace run incessantly! Enough with eating way too may carbs just for the fun of it!

It’s not just me; I see people around me cleaning out and clearing up their living spaces. Out of boredom, as a result of cabin fever, or simply a matter of recognizing that “it’s time,” the stuff is hitting the curb.

To the casual observer, my home is, as you’d expect, organized and tidy. (It may not be clean, but it’s neat.)  But even in this space there is so much around me that I really don’t need.

And to my surprise, once I started culling, there is so much that I no longer want.

Things change. We all change all the time, whether we like to acknowledge it or not. (For a more thorough look at the notion of change, click here to visit a past blog on the topic.)  Things which used to pull on our heart-strings can loosen their grip pretty quickly if we’re not attentive to the holding on.

The February purge at my house started with needing some extra cash to pay taxes come April. Ring the bell for Round One: Gather items for resale at a local consignment shop. This pile included pottery, framed prints, objects d’art, and jewelry. If all the items sold for their full price during the first month of consignment –-which they won’t – I’ll make $350.

Now I’ve got some momentum going … ring the bell for Round Two: Clear out old photos.MP900384902

This is a tough one for many of us. It pangs me to toss holiday-card photos of friends and family, cramming those cherubic  faces alongside the coffee grounds and used tissues. Was I ready to part with images of my daughter at age 6 on her new bike, or me in my 80’s outfits and hairdo visiting New York City?

Out, out, out! By the time I was done with Round Two, a shoe box full of past experiences and most of the pages from my wedding album were in the trash. I did save a few photos of grandparents and family, the kind of thing my “future heirs” might enjoy. But do they really want to deal with photos of rocks taken in Colorado circa 1992?

Now I’m seriously on a tear. Scanning the house like a CIA operative….what else can be jettisoned?? Ring the bell for Round Three: Cast off old relationship mojo.

Honestly, this one was not difficult, but was more a case of paying attention to what had just “hung around” long after relationships ended. .. my wedding dress included.

I’m not sure why I was keeping it; there was no sentimental attachment to a marriage that ended over 20 years ago. It’s not as though I wanted my daughter to wear it – she would be horrified. The truth was, I still thought it was pretty. I still liked it, the covered buttons and heavy lace and its flowing simplicity.

Out.

Once recognized as a piece of a past with which I was finished—out. No pangs.

I had to purchase a new bedroom clock since the one I’d been using was remains of a 10-years- gone love affair. For years I’d been sleeping next to “old lover” time. It worked well and fit with my décor but lordy what a bad vibe!!

Sold my bentwood rocker on Craig’s list, a much-loved chair received as a gift on my first-year wedding anniversary, at which time I remember saying, spontaneously, “”I’ll rock our grandchildren in it.”

Yard Sale Documentation Project Which I have, and now can let it go; the chair has done its job, served its purpose in my life. Do I have to tell you that the woman who bought the rocker had been looking for this exact piece of furniture for months and was thrilled to now own it?

Whether you do it out of boredom, for extra cash, to release yourself (and others) from past relationships, to cleanse the energy in your home, to create more physical space for your life as it is NOW, clearing out is GOOD MOJO.

Make room for what is important to the YOU you are today; it is time and energy invested in the YOU you are becoming.

 

Jeanne Fiorini TarotWorks http://www.tarotworks.comJeanne Fiorini offers easy ways to simplify and clarify your life.
Visit the
 She’s Neat website or contact Jeanne at shesneat@myfairpoint.net.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Torte

chocolate Torte

Here’s the recipe for the chocolate torte mentioned in the recent Super Bowl blog post. Yup it’s made from chick peas, which gives it a rich dense texture while being relatively low in both fat and “bad” carbs.

You’ll see that this torte is simple to make. The one thing to make certain: when the mixture hits the processor/blender be sure that it purees to a smooth consistency; lumps and grittiness detract from the dense yummy-ness of this cake.

I”m sure you’ll enjoy this excellent dessert … or midnight snack …. or breakfast treat. You’re likely to forget that it’s good for you.

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups (19-oz large can) chick peas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
4 eggs (or 1 cup egg substitute)
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

In a small bowl, melt chocolate (over water or in microwave) until smooth. In a blender or processor, combine beans and eggs. Add sugar,  baking powder, and melted chocolate until smooth.Pour into lined 9″ round cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until inserted knife comes out clean. Cool, and sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.  Cut into 10 wedges. Top with raspberry sauce.

Raspberry Sauce
1/2 cup raspberry jam
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 pint fresh or frozen raspberries

Combine these ingredients by hand to desired consistency.

Per Wedge with Sauce:
318 calories
10 grams fat
56 grams carbohydrates
2.8 grams fiber
5.8 grams protein
116 mg sodium

Jeanne Fiorini TarotWorks http://www.tarotworks.comJeanne Fiorini loves chocolate. Period.
http://tarotworks.com
http://shesneat.com

Tips For Keeping Your “Neat” Resolution

Fireworks ShowSo…. Did you make a New Year’s resolution to be more organized in 2013?

How’s that going so far?

If you’re having trouble staying on track, here are a few suggestions for how to be successful in that resolution all year long:

1.  Use something you love as a focal point in the room. If it’s your office, maybe you have an antique desk that you treasure; if it’s a living room maybe it’s that one-of-a-kind coffee table or bookcase; maybe your bedroom has a pair of lamps that are to die for.  A space http://shesneat.comthat holds a positive emotional charge is more likely to stay neat, clean, and organized.

2.  If you bring something new into the space, take something else away…either put it into storage or take it to the Goodwill.  This tactic — especially important for closet spaces –keeps stuff from piling up.

3. Recognize your de-cluttering efforts as socially responsible and/or eco-friendly. For instance, isn’t there someone who would benefit from those sweaters you never wear? Wouldn’t someone love to read those books that have sat on your shelf for 2 years? What “good deed” can you do with the money you can make from selling some of the unused stuff treducereuserecyclehat is clogging up your basement or attic?

De-cluttering can make you feel good about yourself and can help someone else feel good in the process.

And Remember: When you clear out your office space, be sure to recycle the paper that has piled up rather than just tossing it into the trash. Reduce/Reuse/Recycle is a key phrase in the neatness game.

De-cluttering can make you feel good about yourself and help someone else in the process.  And the emotional reward from the de-cluttering process goes a long way in maintaining good “neat” habits.

Jeanne Fiorini TarotWorks http://www.tarotworks.comJeanne Fiorini began She’s NEAT with two basic principles: Being Organized Does Not Come Naturally to Everyone and Neat is Beautiful.  

Visit She’s NEAT to see some photos of the work! It’s pretty cool what a little organization can do!

Being Organized: It’s Not That Simple

She's NEAT Personal OrganizationI’ve been much too busy these past few weeks to post a blog. Sleeping late, eating cookies, and watching pro football has been taking up most of my time and energy. But I did complete a few projects as owner/founder of the new business She’s NEAT, and have a few thoughts to share about that.

Over the last 20-something years as a Tarot reader, we worked alongside the metaphysical maxim that whatever is happening in the inner planes is reflected in the outer planes: that what we believe determines what we experience, and that our thoughts and feelings do not exist only in the intangible float-y places within us but manifest themselves in our physical appearance, the health of our bodies, and our overall sense of safety and security.

Because of the nature of the Tarot reading process, most people would agree that Tarot works “from the inside out.” That is to say, Tarot makes its effects known by making conscious certain experiences and realities, by bringing specific information into our awareness, by putting things in plain sight right out there on the table (pun intended).

To use a metaphor from one of my Tarot video tips, reading the Tarot is like using a straw to draw forth unseen molecules of milk from the bottom of a glass.

Kitchen table:, Voilà, milk!

Tarot table: Voilà, truth!

Whatever you do with that truth is, of course, up to you, but information has nonetheless been provided for your consideration.

Additionally, like a straw resting idly on a table, the Tarot does not do its work in a vacuum. To read Tarot for other people requires “the other” to give permission for the reader to visit their private world, to step into their unseen places and wander ‘round a bit. What an honor and responsibility.

Am I surprised to be observing many of the same dynamics while providing Personal Organization Services through She’s NEAT? Does it startle me to recognize the many ways that the new business is a mirror image of the old? I must admit that it does.

In order for She’s NEAT to “work,” a client gives me permission to visit their home, to “come inside” so to speak; to see their stuff; to observe their messy corners and the places in their life where they are real and imperfect.

Again, an honor and a responsibility. AND an opportunity to change more than one’s physical surroundings. Here it is in a nutshell:She's NEAT mirror http://shesneat.com

The Tarot works from the inside out; She’s NEAT works from the outside in.

One of my first clients said it well when she stated that this work “makes room for what really matters in my life.”

De-cluttering forces us to look at what we’ve allowed to accrue around us. Oftentimes, much of what clogs up our life has not been given direct permission to be there. Busy schedules, old attachments, memories either happy or sad, force of habit, and the power of procrastination fuel the fire. Before we know it we’re knee-deep in “stuff” that no longer serves us in any way whatsoever.

The beauty of de-cluttering is that by taking concrete action to clear one’s physical space, we set the wheels in motion for the inner life to respond in like manner. Clients have reported shifts in their mood, self-esteem, and even in relationships within weeks of taking control of their living environments.

This transformation of the psyche through the mere reorganization of physical space is more amazing to me than the fact that Tarot “works!”

But of course the rearranging of outer environs enables a shift to occur within the inner realms, Newton’s Third Law explains it succinctly: “Every action creates and equal and opposite reaction.”

There you have it. When science and metaphysics concur, truth has been told.

So — take an easy step toward personal growth and fulfillment and de-clutter your life.

I can help with that.

 

Jeanne Fiorini TarotWorks http://www.tarotworks.comJeanne Fiorini created She’s NEAT with an understanding of 2 simple truths:She's NEAT logo
1. Being organized is not a trait that comes naturally to everyone. 
2. Neat is beautiful.
Visit the She’s NEAT site and LIKE us on Facebook!

New Blog Topic: She’s NEAT

In addition to musings and ramblings about the world of Tarot, comedy clubs, and yard sales, you’re apt to be seeing some posts here about a new business I’ve got going called She’s NEAT.

I’ve come to understand that not everyone desires — or is able to — be neat … be organized … know where to find things in the house … provide compartments for various types of screwdrivers .. make sure their spices are lined up in alphabetical order.

OK, I don’t do those last two things, but I wish I had a dollar for every time someone remarked on my tidy home and/or my organizational skills. I’ve decided to put this surely-genetic trait to some good use and am offering it up as She’s NEAT: a personal organization service offering practical esthetics for home and office.

The business will provide de-cluttering services, space clearing, furniture placement and rearrangement, closet overhauls,  functionalization of work spaces, and in essence, find ways to create a functional and harmonious environment in which you can go about your business.

It might not be readily apparent, but this new business has a great many similarities to the Tarot work.

A Tarot reading de-clutters the mind. A Tarot reading clears the air of misconceptions; it rearranges and compartmentalizes thoughts, feelings, and plans. A good Tarot reading paves the way for more intentional action and decision-making, and creates space for a more functional and harmonious life.

What I’ve been doing for chakras 3-7 will now also take place in the first and second.

An essential principle of feng shui is that a neat house is a lucky house. In the same way that we can’t  make a good decision when our heart and head is spinning with confusing and sometimes conflicting agendas, we can’t get out of the house in the morning if we can’t find our car keys. Turns out, neatness counts.

I work in the Southern Maine area, but even those of you who live “away” can send along your 2-minute videos! Send me the pics of your chaotic or inefficient spaces and we’ll cook up ways to get your everyday environment working more effectively for you.

Jeanne Fiorini is congenitally neat and organized, as is evident by the She’s NEAT Facebook page and the TarotWorks web site. So much to organize, so little time.

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