Are you on my list? Get on it!

 

About Cecilia

I am a Life & Clutter Coach and IST Practitioner. I LOVE helping writers, creatives and entrepreneurs just like YOU, make their homes and lives into supportive containers for their creative AND personal lives.  

Cecilia's sharp, crystalline insight has kept me on track in my creative life, my business life, and my emotional life for the past six years: she's a triple threat!

 - Sarah Selecky, author of Giller Prize nominated This Cake is for the Party

Tuesday
Oct022012

The Art of Manifesting OR How I Manifested Borat's Ass

I'm a sleepy tired muffin and I really should be in bed, but before I go I want to tell you a story. 

(Warning, I use the word ass in this story, if you don't like that word, just picture the word bottom or bum instead.  If bottom or bum is still offensive then substitute elbow or pinkie finger)

I really like Sasha Baron Cohen.  To be clear, I didn't really like that movie about the model guy and I haven't seen the latest, but I am a big fan of Ali G, I think he's super cute and before it came out I was really, really, really excited to see Borat. 

Like really, really, super duper, incredibly excited. 

Every year the Toronto International Film Festival happens and most years I don't end up going to see many, if any movies, but the year that Borat came out I got lucky.  My roommate had a job which enabled her to get the special advance tickets so I told her that we needed to get tickets to Borat and the new Michael Moore movie. 

The night of the Borat movie, I had been playing music at a friend's house.  It was a beautiful late summer night and he came out to the sidewalk to see me off.  I took a few steps, stopped and turned around.  I planted my feet in the ground, pointed my finger to the sky and declared.

"Tonight, I am going to touch Borat's ass!"

I can't say that I had given it much thought or really even considered trying to touch Borat's ass, but it's as if the statement came from deep inside my belly and I gave it up to the gods. 

Later that night, I went to see Borat.  On our way into the theatre we passed by some limos and I thought about stopping.  I considered that perhaps Borat's ass was sitting on one of those leather seats just waiting to be touched, but I kept walking and went into the theatre.

Five minutes after it began the movie stopped.  The projector was broken and couldn't be fixed.  There would be no Borat that night.

It was rescheduled for the next night at the Elgin at 9pm.  At 7pm we had tickets to see the new Michael Moore movie.  Where?  At the Elgin. 

My roommate worked with some serious TIFF goers, and one of her coworkers said that we should do whatever we could to stay in the theatre after the first movie to avoid having to go back outside and wait in line again.

So, after the Michael Moore movie was finished instead of going out of the theatre with the rest of the audience, we walked the opposite way toward the front of the theatre and went down a flight of stairs to the right of the stage. 

The flight of stairs ended at a door, which we opened and stepped through.  I was a little disoriented at first, but as I looked around I noticed two things. 

A bar and Michael Moore.

Michael Moore's presence indicated that this was no ordinary bar but nobody seemed to notice our entry so I made my way to the counter and ordered some drinks.  I hoped that the bar tender wouldn't notice my purple backpack as it slid off my shoulder and into my hand.

We found a table in the corner by the bar and sat down in silence.  I pushed my backpack under my chair. 

Soon, Michael Moore came to sit at the table next to us. 

That's when the movie stars began to come in.  Isla Fisher, Dustin Hoffman etc... etc... and where did they all sit?

Why they sat next to us, at the table with Michael Moore. 

In the throng of stars, was another.  Sasha Baron Cohen.  But he didn't sit down, he walked straight up to the bar where he stood talking to a friend.

With the whole length of the bar to choose from, where do you think he stood?

That's right, he stood right behind our table, so close in fact that if I had reached back my hand...

I could have very easily touched his ass.

I asked for Borat's ass, and the ass that plays Borat delivered itself to me on a silver platter.

Did I touch the ass? 

No, I didn't touch his ass.  He wasn't dressed up as Borat, and I didn't want us to get kicked out of the bar.  It was enough for me that within 36 hours of requesting Borat's ass, that said ass came into touching distance of my hand.

You may be wondering why I am telling you this story about Borat's ass.  Well, I'll tell you what I learned.  I learned that sometimes the things that are the most far flung are the things that actually manifest when you ask for them.

Never in a million years did I think that I would touch Borat's ass, so I could throw the request up to the universe with enthusiasm and abandon without worrying about how it was going to happen or what my mother might think.

Most of the time when you want something, you're grasping it so hard that it can't actually happen.  You think you know how it's going to happen, when it's going to happen and where it's going to happen.  And when it doesn't work the way you thought it would, you lose faith.

What you need to do is throw your intentions high up into the wind and allow it to carry them far away like seed pods.  Let them find a sweet patch of fertile soil to gestate and become themselves.  Without you over watering them or checking on them every five minutes.

Let it go.

I want you to ask for something totally silly. 

Ask for it after you've had a laughing fit or you find yourself smiling at a tree. 

Ask for it and don't care if you get it, how you get it or when you get it.  Bring all of your conviction and might and ask for it and mean it. 

Rake up those leaves and throw them up to the sky.  And then, walk away before they hit the grass and never look back.

That night at the bar I wasn't looking for Borat's ass, but Borat's ass found me just the same.

Do you have any thoughts, ass finding experiences or questions about this?  If the answer is yes, than get your ass down to the comments below, and if you have a friend whose ass you think would enjoy my little story, go ahead and send this on over.

Take care,
Cecilia
oxo

Monday
Sep242012

Grow Up! It's time to move (your clutter) out of your parents' house

Fall isn't kidding around with this equinox.  I've got my belly warmers (if you don't know what these are I highly recommend them if your love handles get chilly) and my portable tea cup out of storage and keeping me warm.

I have a question for you... 

Do you still have stuff at your parents' house? 

There might be a few things in your old bedroom or stashed in boxes in their basement.  Your old cabbage patch doll with that shiny spot on his nose, notes passed back and forth in chemistry class about what to wear to the Polish Hall dance, Choose Your Own Adventure books and your old High School year books. 

If the answer is yes I have one thing to say to you.

Grow UP! 

I don't mean it in a harsh way, I promise.  It's just that, according to Feng Shui, everything that belongs to you is connected to your energy, which means that if you still have stuff at your parents' house, then in a way a part of you is still living at home

And what's hard to do when you live at home?  That's right...

Grow up!  

(Something to point out.  This counts even if your parents don't live in the same country as you.  You can't just move away from your clutter, no matter how far away it is, it's still connected to your energy.)

So, if you still have some stuff hidden in your parents' basement what are you going to do? 

That's right, you're going to go get it and deal with it!

It's not just for you, it's for them too.  If you have 10 boxes still living at your parents' house, then they don't really get to live their lives fully either.  They don't get to figure out who they are without kids living at home and that's just as important as you growing up.

Everything above can be applied to stuff you may be keeping in other peoples basements too.  Exes, friends, aunts, old roommates, cousins, etc... 

Just think about it...  What do you think is happening if you still have stuff in your ex's basement or they have stuff in yours?  Hmmm...

Do you still have stuff living at "home" or in somebody else's house?  How does it feel, how would it feel to get it out?  Do you even know what's there?  I'd love to hear from you so mosey on down and leave a comment below. 

If you know someone who is always complaining about her mom and still has her old bedroom in perfect condition back at her parents' place, go ahead and pass this post along, I'd love it if you did and she'll love you for it too. 

Take care, 
Cecilia
ox

p.s. If you're reading this and you're not on my list, you should really get yourself on the list!  I send out a fun and useful email just about every week on clearing clutter and living life.  Just pop on over here to get on!  All the cool kids are doing it!

Tuesday
Sep182012

Who Do You Think You're Packing For? 

Summer is (almost) over, but my shoulder still hurts from lugging around my way too big suitcase on the many trips I took in July and August. 

Doing what I do, I have cleared a lot of clutter in my home.  There is always more and there will always be more as I grow and change, but there is something seriously funny going on when I pack for a trip. 

I rarely run at home, but when I'm on vacation, I bring along my running shoes.  That book I've been meaning to read for five years, it can come along as well.  I bring high heels to a house in the woods.  Makeup to the cottage.  You get the idea...

I'm not the only one.  A writer friend of mine admitted to carrying around five empty notebooks in her suitcase while she traveled for a year.  Five!  

This points to an optimism that comes with leaving home. 

Just think about those five notebooks.  You're a writer and you want to write.  What if you get struck with inspiration on a remote beach and you only have two notebooks with you, and one is half full?  You're going to wish you had five notebooks, because when the Muse visits she won't wait for you to run to the convenience store and buy a black and white composition book.

The thing is, when you're carting around five empty notebooks, the Muse is a little overwhelmed by the amount of blank space she's expected to fill and decides to go swimming instead.

You imagine that as soon as your foot boards that plane, train or automobile you become a different person.  Your best self.  The self who writes stuff, reads stuff, wears stuff, makes stuff and does stuff that she doesn't do at home.  All the things you've been meaning to get around to, but you haven't, whether because of lack of time or desire.

So what's the truth? 

The truth is, you don't magically change when you go on vacation, at least not in the way that you think.  Something does shift when you leave home and the best thing you can do is to leave all of those shoulds, mights, ifs or maybes at home, so that you can discover who you are when you get a little distance between you and your stuff. You may be surprised at what shows up when you do.

Like that time I went for a unexpected mountain hike in my sandals.  I suddenly felt like running, and what do you know, I didn't need my running shoes to do it, I just took off my sandals and ran barefoot down the trail. 

Are you an hopeful overpacker, or are you a t-shirt rolling minimalist queen?  Let me know below and if you like what I have to say, go ahead and share it with a friend.

Have a lovely, lovely week.

Take care, 
Cecilia
ox

Monday
Sep102012

Who's Hiding In Your Fridge?

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I have a very sad looking watermelon in my fridge.  It's still whole, some of it's skin is still green, but it's covered in little brown spots like an old woman who spent her life by the ocean.  Not very appetizing. 

Why is it there?  Well, I suppose I must have bought it.  I got it at a nice health food store in my neighbourhood, they had a huge octagonal box outside full of these tiny watermelons, perfect to carry home and enjoy.  It was a hot day when I bought it and it had a super cute name like, "the sweetest most adorable watermelon you'll ever know!". 

I couldn't resist.  I could just see me and my little melon living it up in the sunshine, running through sprinkler rainbows, grooving on the slip and slide, intimidating each other with our super soakers.  We'd sit on the curb, as the sun set and the cicadas turned up the volume, our heads almost touching as we told summer secrets, summer crushes, bruised knees and sun burnt noses.

But tonight I realize that all those promises of the best summer ever, didn't materialize .  The sweetest most adorable watermelon, is now none of those things, it's promises unfulfilled, it's tasty pink pages closed.

Where am I going with this?  Good question. 

It's just that this watermelon situation, it is not the exception.  More often than not there is something mouldering in my fridge or shivering in my freezer, something that I bought and then forgot I had.

Farmer's Markets are the worst.  The produce isn't displayed in boring old rows like at the supermarket, it's been merchandised.  They have samples!

Little baskets overflowing with perfectly ripe strawberry tomatoes (those ones are new and 110% more enticing to buy than boring old cherry tomatoes, *yawn*).  Hand woven bins with a medley of new potatoes, the reds laughing it up with those rare purples and the regular white ones.  Carrots!  With tops!  Candy striped beets cut open so you can see the carnival inside.

There's the stuff you've never heard of and you're not sure what to do with, ramps and sea asparagus, ground cherries and romanesco. 

"But it's so pretty!  It's from the farmers market!" 

My Achilles heel is leeks.  A little while ago I was at a little fruit and veg shop and saw the fattest most beautiful looking leeks.  They were huge, organic and the greens were so green.  They were perfect.  I'm aware of my fresh produce issue, so I tried to leave them there, but I couldn't. I was worried that someone else would buy them who didn't care how perfect they were.  I put them in my shopping bag and hoped that I would come up with a suitable recipe for such gorgeous leeks.  

I didn't.  I found them a couple of weeks later, grey and slimy, and they were so disappointed in me.  

So, now I have a rule.  I can only buy pretty produce if I have a specific plan for it which includes a date.  So it can't be some vague plan to make Vichyssoise, with those incredible leeks, I need to know the specific day and meal. 

It's just that simple.

I'm going to run and clean out my fridge now, but I'd love to hear what's in yours.  Do you have food clutter?  Is there a kind of food you just have to buy even if you never end up actually eating it?  Mosey on down to the comments and spill your beans (ha ha, get it, beans are a food!). 

If you liked this, I would be delighted, like big fat leeks delighted, if you shared it with a friend. Seriously, I'll cook you up some ramp stew, but not until next Spring, it's a seasonal thing...

Take care, 
Cecilia
ox

p.s. Hey!  Remember last week I was talking about those books I was going to either read or get rid of?  Well, I just wanted to give you an update.  I am almost done The War of Art.  It's really good and has inspired me to sign up for an Art Journaling course.  AND, this is even more exciting, remember the rock and roll dreams I had?  Well, after getting rid of Rock and Roll will Save Your Life, guess what I did last Friday?  I sang!  On a stage!  In front of people!  Mind you, I was one of about 100 people, but still, I did it!  I don't think I would have if I hadn't really looked at that book and remembered my rock star longings. Here's a peek of the singing, super extra bonus points if you can find me (psst, look to the right).
 
p.p.s. If you're reading this and you're not on my list, you should really get yourself on the list!  I send out a fun and useful email just about every week on clearing clutter and living life.  Just pop on over here to get on!  All the cool kids are doing it!

Tuesday
Sep042012

What Story Are Your Unread Books Trying To Tell?

You know that book? The one on your bookshelf, by your bed, in your spare room, in the box in your closet?  The book that snickers at you behind your back? Every so often you pick it up, just to see.  You read the first page and a half and then it goes back on the shelf. 

You decide to bring it with you on vacation, because the reason you're not reading it is because you never have time to read at home.  But the whole time you're away it stays zipped up in the front pocket of your suitcase, no hope of getting a tan, only to be dutifully unpacked when you get back home. Passed over once again for more Fifty Shades of the latest bestseller.

It stops snickering and starts to feel a little left out as the books around it are taken to the favorite chair, one by one.  Their pages mindlessly caressed as hair is twirled and their words are read. 

Every so often you think of letting it go, when you're moving, or dusting, but then you read the first page and a half again and think that it might be useful someday.  That someday you'll be the person, have the time, have the desire to commit to this book.

It's a good reference, despite the fact that it has never once been referred to in it's long life. So it goes back on the shelf, back to sleep. 

After awhile you stop seeing it.  It's part of the background, an extra with no lines.

It's not as if it came into your life by accident.  You chose this book.  You stood, your weight on one foot, leaning against the shelf, your finger tracing the embossed lettering on the cover as you read the first page and a half at your local bookstore.  You spent half an hour reading all the reviews on amazon and goodreads before adding it to your cart. 

It was recommended, your best friend loved it.  It changed her life!

What is it about these books?  I know there's more than one, there always is.  They form a little collection, a little library of their own.  There is no fear of the corners of their pages being creased or smudges accumulating on their shiny plastic covers.  No names and dates accumulating in the pocket in the back.

The books you buy and don't read.  Why is it so hard to let them go?

I have a theory.  Do you want to hear it?

My theory is that the books that you don't read are trying to tell you something.  They have a story to tell, but it's not the one that's between the pages. 


Will you do something for me?  Go over to your bookshelf and take a look at the books.  There are probably a number that you've carted around for awhile that you've just never gotten around to reading.  Go grab a few and then come back. 

A hint...  Take an especially good look at the books in these categories:  self help, creativity, non-fiction, travel, health, pretty coffee table books and cookbooks.  

I'm going to do it too, hold on just a sec...

So...  What did you find?  I'll show you mine, if you show me yours... 

Here are a couple that I found on my shelf:

  1. ROCK AND ROLL WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE by Steve Almond
  2. the WAR of ART: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield

And yours? 

"Ah yes...  I see...  How very, very interesting...  Lie down on the couch and I'll tell you all about your inner workings..."

This is my theory.  The books that you don't read, are trying to tell you about something that you want.  You may or may not be conscious of wanting it, but if you're honest, you do.  You really really want it. 

So, what do I want?  What will my books reveal?

Let's look at the first book, ROCK AND ROLL WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE by Steve Almond.  What does it mean?  Do I have a secret desire to be a rock star? 

I have a confession to make, I have always wanted to be a rock star!  I've dreamed of being on stage, with the lights, the moves and the screaming fans singing along.  I've bought domain names for pretend bands, jammed in garages with friends and even recorded a song or two.  I've been a super fan, a t-shirt wearing groupie and traveled many miles to see my favorite bands.  I have fantasies about being invited on stage to sing duets with my favorite stars. 

Even as a little girl, I used to lie in the bathtub with my ears under water and my white blonde hair a gorgeous floating crown while I sang all the ABBA songs I knew and pictured myself as the fifth member of their crew.  OK, so maybe, just maybe, I want Rock and Roll to save my life...  

What about the WAR of ART by Steven Pressfield?  What does it have to say?  Am I at war with art? 

In grade two I became convinced that I couldn't do art because I couldn't draw the bowl full of fruit our teacher plunked before us.  I made a decision that day that I would never draw again and started telling myself the story that I'm just not creative. 

I've done a lot of work on deconstructing those limiting beliefs.  I've drawn cows with crayons, taken writing classes, worn ill fitting artsy clothing and hitchhiked around Europe.  I'm not sure how much the last two helped, but the first two have shifted my self perception around "art" and my own creative process.  It's still a struggle though.  There's something I want, and I'm not totally getting it when it comes to creativity.  I do want to win the war.

When I've done this exercise in the past I've found books on money, success and procrastination.  When I've done this exercise with clients they've found books on Florence, Italy, having better sex, reading faster, improving vocabulary, healthy eating and clearing clutter.

You buy the book because, on a conscious or subconscious level, you want what the book is trying to sell.  You buy an exercise book because you want to feel different in your body.  You buy an organizational book because you want to feel different in your home and life.  

Books can change your life, there is no doubt about it.  But in order to change your life, you actually have to read them.

So you have two choices.  You can read the book or let it go. 

If you try, one last time, to read the book and you put it down again after the first page and a half, do yourself a favour. 

Let it go! 

Acknowledge that the book represents something that you want in your life and then let it go.  You're not letting go of the dream, you're just letting go of one of the things standing in between you and your dream.  

What am I going to do with my books?  I'm going to let go of rock and roll and give the WAR of ART one last go.  If I can't get past the first page and a half, don't worry, I'm letting it go.  Who knows, maybe this time next year I will have rocked my roll with the best of them and covered a canvas with cows.  I'll be sure to let you know how it goes. 

I'm so curious...  What did you find on your shelf?  What do you think it means?  Please, please, please let me know below and if you enjoyed this, please pass it along to any friends or family you think might have books they're just not reading.

Take care, 

Cecilia

ox

____

2014 Update:

I don't think I knew how powerful this exercise would be.  Within two weeks of letting go of ROCK AND ROLL WITH SAVE YOUR LIFE I was singing on stage with choir!choir!choir! in front of a packed house at the Bloor Cinema.  In the last two years, I can honestly say that rock and roll (among other genres) has totally saved my life in the form of choir.  It brings me so much joy every week and has given me incredible opportunities like the one I had this past March to sing with Tegan and Sarah at the Junos.  Here's a link to the video of that performance:

 


p.s. If you're reading this and you're not on my list, you should really get yourself on the list!  I send out a fun and useful email just about every week on clearing clutter and living life.  Just pop on over here to get on!  All the cool kids are doing it!