"Where the heart is willing it will find a thousand ways, but where it is unwilling it will find a thousand excuses."
-- Dayak Proverb (Borneo)
Part of simplifying our lives is being a good steward of all that we currently possess. That means not only our body and our health, but our chosen material possessions as well.
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines "stewardship" as "the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care." To me, that means truly appreciating and taking care of what we do have. It also means letting go, consciously and with grace, those things in our lives which we no longer need, and not having a need to accumulate more "things" in order to be happy.
My husband and I moved into our present home a few years ago. The previous owner, or steward, didn't give it the care it really deserved, and it took much of our energy to bring it back to its present condition. For example, in repairing our house, my husband and I had to fix numerous electrical problems including the replacement of several light fixtures. We didn't want the old fixtures to just end up in a landfill. Instead, we did some research to find a party who could use them. It can be a balancing act, the simplicity of just throwing things away versus finding a good home for them. And as time went on, and the repairs went on, we realized that we were presented with this situation so that we could lovingly care for this beautiful house and land. Now the property looks great and even our fruit trees, which originally were not very productive, are now extremely abundant. Dedicating some of our energy to appreciating and caring for our property is a conscious choice we make on a daily basis.
Appreciating and taking loving care of our possessions can be a natural extension of a slower-paced, more conscious life. It's a lot easier when we pare down our belongings and surround ourselves with only those things we love and use. It's tremendously liberating to re-evaluate our possessions from time to time, repairing or replacing and releasing the rest.
Perhaps you could dedicate some time in the next few weeks to begin a period of cleaning up and clearing out. It's a processes that can reap big rewards in how you feel and how smoothly your life runs. Remember, it doesn't have to be a major project. Just do a little at a time. Also use this project as a tool for grounding yourself and awakening a fuller appreciation of the things you love that are entrusted to your care.
All of us have different needs for order. Some people need an immaculate home with nothing out of place while others function quite well with a more relaxed standard. For me, I've noticed that when my property and possessions are clean, orderly and in good working order, I have more energy and time to spend doing the other things I love to do.
1. Appreciate EVERYTHING. Appreciation is a potent tool for happiness. Even if you hope to change something, like your car, home, or wardrobe, you can still appreciate the way it is now. And don't stop there. Appreciate a flower, a friend, your skin, indoor plumbing, the Internet, you name it.
2. Make a "to do" list of things in your home you need to mend or replace. Start at the front door and work clockwise through your home. Extend the list to your car, garage, yard or other property. Keep that list handy and schedule a couple of items per week to fix, replace or let go over the next few months.
4. Choose one possession that does mean something to you. Then, carefully and deliberately, so you can enjoy the process and the end result, wash it, clean it, polish it, mend it, fix it, or refinish it. Do whatever it takes to bring it back into your full appreciation. Then put it in its special place.
3. Clear clutter consciously. If you have a lot of clutter, start with one small area such as one drawer or your medicine cabinet. Set a timer for 15 minutes, and then remove all the contents. Take each item in your hand and ask yourself, "Have I used this within the past year? Does it lift my spirits? Is it something I truly love?" If the answer is yes, put it back into its own place. If the answer is "no," out it goes.
5. Whatever tasks you choose, let them be a meditation that can keep your attention in the present. Afterwards, step back and take a look at your accomplishment. Your possession is warmed from the attention, and if you check inside, your heart may be too.

By Linda Manassee Buell, Personal and Business Coach. Linda can be reached at http://www.simplifylife.com

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