The Magic of Tidying Up

I just finished reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondo.  If you haven’t read it yet, I definitely recommend it and following the advice, not that I’ve done all of what she says but it definitely has changed my life.

She provides strategies for creating space and decluttering so that we can get the most out of life. Her advice is simple and her words keep resonating in my head. Her basic premise is to consider all that you have and ask yourself whether each item brings you joy. If it doesn’t, she tells you to get rid of it so that you can create space for what does.  I absolutely love this and keep thinking about everything I see now and wonder if it brings me joy. If it doesn’t, I’m letting it go and clearing it out. It feels so good to get rid of stuff, I can’t even tell you.

My mom was here last week and I was telling her about the book and how I want to get rid of everything but that it takes time to clear things out. I pointed to a cabinet in my kitchen and she started asking questions and the next thing you know, we’re clearing out the cupboards and now they are empty. The space is ready to be repurposed and I can’t wait. Right now I love just knowing that the shelves are empty and that there is order.  I can’t wait to do more.

I called my sister to tell her of my a-ha moment and she told me she was reading the same book and was already clearing out her closets! She sent me pictures of the pounds and bags of stuff she was ready to recycle and sent me pictures of her newly organized closet. She was so happy. I couldn’t believe we were both reading the same book at the same time and sharing similar experiences.

My favorite part of the book is the end. The book is about learning how to declutter and find a space for everything and putting things back every day so that you have more time to do what you love and to spend less time wasting life on tidying and looking for things you can’t find.  She helps you to learn how to make decisions and to chose what is meaningful and these processes relate to all other parts of our lives.

She says, “pour your time and passion into what brings you the most joy, your mission in life. I am convinced that putting your house in order will hep you find the mission that speaks to your heart. Life truly begins after you have put your house in order.”

I think by deciding what you want and don’t want and by being actively present and aware as you make these decisions, these small daily decisions will actually help you to decide what else you really want in your life and to take action right now.

I already noticed in a change in my thinking. This morning I woke up and decided I wanted to go to the Farmer’s Market. Usually I’ll sit around and read the paper and make excuses why I shouldn’t move or go out. Today was different and I made a decision to go and invited Jeff to join me. He said yes, and we went on a spontaneous date together that made my day. I loved walking around, seeing friends, gathering food for dinner tonight, and eating breakfast together outside.


When we came home, I decided I wanted to cook Thai food and learn how to poach chicken. I spent several hours in the kitchen cooking and preparing dishes, just for fun. I didn’t procrastinate, as I usually do, and I enjoyed cleaning out the kitchen and just being home, playing and cooking. I loved seeing the kids come in to pick at my food and to enjoy my work and that an impromptu dinner was ready when they were hungry. I loved bringing out my beautiful dishes that I love, and actually using them just for me.  I think this is what Marie Kondo was talking about.

I created space. I made decisions. I enjoyed what I love and today was good.

I wish the same for you. Clear out the clutter. Create space. Do what you love.  nAMaste. xo

Wanting to Be Several Places At The Same Time


Ever have days like this? 

I wanted to be four places at the exact same time. I see this becoming a trend – at least this week and I’m struggling with making decisions.  One of my birthday goals this year was to be more decisive, more quickly. I tend to think of all the possibilities and what will make everyone happy or cause the least discomfort and sometimes (no most times) I have the hardest time making a single choice. I’m practicing. Isn’t that what this life thing is all about anyway? It’s the practice… no one really has it all figured out. We’re just practicing. Don’t you feel better just knowing that?

So today I had to drop off Charlie and then I wanted to watch the USA – Germany game, hike at Rancho San Antonio with Julie and play grass volleyball with the volleyball girlfriends, who I adore. I decided to do all three, but that didn’t work.

So I decided to actually hike while the weather was still comfortable and checked the game score on twitter wherever I got reception. I had to postpone playing volleyball another week and just hope the ladies will play again next week and I won’t have to miss out on the bumping, setting, and spiking!  It was a crystal clear day and a beautiful day to be up on the mountain.

It made me miss my BFF Michele who has recently moved and won’t be hiking with me weekly. That’s ok though, because we’ll just find new ways to explore nature and solve the worlds’ problems in the couple hours we’re disconnected from the “real” world.

Julie and I actually stopped at the top to sit on the little bench and just soak up the sun and magnificent views. Now that she’s a working woman, we don’t get much time to work out together like we used to. Working out together used to be our social time too. Luckily she has this summer off for us to play more and get stronger together!

We saw a few deer, lizards, a snake,

birds, goats, and chipmunks while we were out.


I especially loved the big oak trees too, that remind me of Thousand Oaks.


Life is good and I’m glad I picked the hike today, especially since the USA lost. 

Hope you had a love filled day. xo

Day 310: Making Decisions

Life is a journey, not a destination

I had to push myself today to make three “big” decisions and I struggled with the process more than I should have.

I learned that three things affect my decision making process:

1) not having enough structure or pressure to make a decision (I tend to procrastinate and then work better under pressure)

2) having too many choices or options

3) trying to balance the needs and wants of others with my own desires

My first decision was whether or not to go to yoga this morning. Sounds so stupid, but I was feeling down today and didn’t want to go, even though I knew it was good for me and needed to go. I put my yoga pants on first thing this morning to inspire me to go after kid drop off. But I had to push myself three times to actually get me there and I had to actively talk myself into going vs. out of going and felt like I was my own freak show in my head… go to yoga, no go home and have a cup of tea and be lazy. You’re late, no you can make it.   Turn right and just go home, no go straight and find the new studio!  And then I was late and convinced myself I wasn’t going but I’d just drive by anyway to find the studio because I didn’t want to walk in 5 minutes late and I was mad at myself. Luckily for me, the instructor was standing at the door and recognized me and told me where to park and said he’d wait for me.  Can I just tell you how happy I was?  If he wasn’t standing at the door (which I don’t know why he was), I would not have gone in. But there he was and there I was rolling out my matt and so thankful that I kept moving one foot in front of the other despite all my negative self talk not to go.  Phew!

The second big decision I’ve been struggling with all week is when to move back home. I weighed all the pros and cons and discussed it with Jeff and the kids and made a decision, but then second guessed myself. Sometimes even making a good decision is difficult because you have to leave other options behind that have benefits too. Even this sounds stupid to me, but when a decision becomes emotional, it’s harder to feel good about even your good decision because it might hurt others.  I made my decision and then felt sad all day for deciding to return home earlier than Jeff and our original plan. I’m happy with my choice but sad for having to forgo travel plans and time together and leaving Jeff to close up the house alone.

The third decision wasn’t as big, but followed a similar pattern. I wanted to go for a bike ride this afternoon to Ouderkerk and I wanted to go with Jeff and the kids, if they wanted to join me. I knew I really wanted to go and I patiently waited for Jeff to finish his conference calls and the kids to have some down time before asking them to join me again. It doesn’t get dark here until after 10 pm, so I was happy still going at 8 pm. But by 7:30ish, the rest of the family started having second thoughts, the weather began to chill, and the little one wanted to stay home and order pizza.  I stil wanted to go on the ride and see the sheep and open fields and the river, but they all had other ideas. I almost and I think I did say, fine, we won’t go, and then changed my mind and struggled to get out the door with a few little ducklings behind me. But at first no one was happy, except me.  Jeff and I decided to go and the rest stayed back and then two changed their minds and hurriedly tried to catch up with us while one stayed home. I struggled to decide whether to go because I wanted to make everyone happy and in the process almost made everyone miserable, including myself.  In the end, it was a great decision and we were thankful we pushed on despite the resistance and had a fabulous time together. Next time I want to be more decisive and convincing when I make a decision to help everyone with the clarity. I don’t expect them to do what I want, but it would be good for me if I was clear and firm about what I want.  I’m still learning.

Listening to Charlie whistle and sing on his bike because he was so happy made me thankful I didn’t give up and that I made the “tough” choice to go anyway despite the No’s.  On the way back home, after our ride along the river and a stop at a pizza parlor that was open, he rode up next to me and said, “I love you mama.”  He was just thanking me for taking him on a bike ride. Who knew?

I Am Content.

Here are the beautiful pictures from our Friday Night Bike Ride to Ouderkerk and along the Amstel.   Life is good!

Riding into OuderkerkI love this cityAlways love seeing windmills

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love the sunlight as the sun begins to set



Day 156: Adaptable and The Art of Negotiation

The kids have been home with me for 2 weeks now. I’m feeling shiny!

I wanted them to choose what they wanted to do on their vacation today, and they had three options to consider. I think they practiced and might have learned a bit about:

Not screaming or crying to be heard.
Giving in.
Making a group decision.
Picking what’s good for the whole.

They made a decision with a little gift of chocolate from one sibling to the next. Hmmm… I guess they learned about bribery and influence too. But they decided, and I was pleased with the process.

They decided to go to an indoor water park called Duinrell, about 30 minutes away. It felt kind of strange to be driving in the rain and feeling cold but feeling good about swimming and sliding and burning off some energy in a heated pool. We were all happy to be doing something together, out of the house. But when we got there, there was a sign that said they were closed. The place was too crowded and it would be unsafe to add more bodies. We could wait for people to leave and then go in, but still it would be over crowded. We chose to leave, even though our friends were already inside. A tough decision but remarkably we all easily agreed.

I was proud of the kids for being adaptable and flowing with what was. I think that’s a great life skill – we can’t always control what happens but we can control our reactions. And they were so cool. We decided to go with Plan B, which was what one of the kids originally wanted to do in the first place! Ironic how that works! And he got chocolate too!! Lucky kid.

We came home and changed out of our bathing suits and flip flops and put on layers and layers and warm shoes and umbrellas and headed into Amsterdam to go to the Nemo museum. It’s like the San Francisco Exploratorium, with hands on science exhibits and exploratory fun. Even though it was a crowded Christmas holiday off with everyone there, we used our museum cards and enjoyed a couple hours together playing and having fun.



Afterwards we met up with Jeff at his office so the kids could see where he works. We went for dinner at THE Mexican restaurant in Amsterdam.

It’s hard to come by Mexican food here and we sure miss it! The restaurant was called Los Pilones, in case you are looking for Mexican food too, or know of another place to recommend. We enjoyed a margarita (but it tasted nothing like Steve’s!!) in honor of Stacey’s birthday, and ate some chips and salsa and guacamole. It was pretty good and the ambiance was definitely nice. I think we’ll go back until we can get good Mexican food back in Cali!

Happy Birthday, Stacey!

101 Days

In 101 days from now, our new adventure will begin. Today we decided on our departure date – July 25th. Actually, we let little C pick it as his birthday is towards the end of July. We asked him if he wanted to celebrate his birthday in the USA or Amsterdam. He wants to go to Laser Quest with his friends, so we picked a date a few days after his 8th birthday. Somehow that just made the change feel more real. I put together a checklist breaking down what we need to do between now and then, in weekly increments. I think 101 days will go by so quickly. This week I start my dutch lessons and will work on renewing my driver’s license, taking Juliana in for her latest immunizations, and I’ve scheduled appointments for us to renew the kids’ passports. Tonight I’m working on filling out the International School Applications and hopefully will fax those over so the schools will have them in the morning when they arrive for the new week. So much to do and only 101 days to go…I hope you all had a great weekend! xo