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Ten Minutes of HOMEage

As we finish up the year of 2011, many people wonder what their new “resolution” should be for the year 2012. In the Mayan world, there was talk about the end of the world, as we know it in 2012. Perhaps, that is the new resolution for you and your surroundings, “as we know it.”

In the world of Feng Shui, the Chinese 2,000 year old study of human life and their environment. there are a few overall principles. The one that most resonates with me is the principle that “all things are alive”. This means that all people, animals, plants, things have vital energy in our world. You might quickly dismiss this notion of “all things are alive” but what does that look like in your home, your sanctuary?

Open your closet. What is your first reaction? Excitement? Serenity? Anxiety? Fear? Yes, these are all very real emotions that can come up in the mere act of opening that closet door. Why? Is it neat and organized?  No, then the fear and anxiety creeps in on finding that exact piece of clothing you had your heart set on. Or are their a few shirts missing buttons, pants that need to go to the Goodwill and perhaps a pair of shoes that are just plain worn old? All these things in our closet are taking up space and come together in creating reactions within you.

Years ago, as a student intern at IBM, I was summoned to office of my boss. Between us sat a warning notice for a  “Clean Desk Policy Violation.” I had left a stack of papers out on the desk that was marked confidential over night. Humiliated in my new job, I learned that every night before I went home I would take 10 minutes to clean my desk completely as to not give the night patrol reason to flag me again. In the morning, when I arrived to a clean and organized desk, I felt ready to work. Did I want to spend that extra 10 minutes every day organizing, not really? Yet, the morning sensation was stress-free, relaxing and without a violation notice.

All things are alive. To put that into tangible terms, look around a very crowded and messy room and notice all the items. What if all these items were tiny living and breathing kittens moving around? Look at the overflowing stack of dishes in the sink and think alive kittens. Can you see how dozens and dozens of living animals would eventually feel like too much? Things that are alive need to be cared for, tended to and respected.

So here’s my suggestion for a new approach to our world as we know it, why not start or finish your day paying ten minutes of homage to you and your environment. The word homage means to respect or reverence paid. So what better way to honor and nurture ourselves than to attend our things that surround us. Wake up just a little earlier to do a quick tidy-up before you leave in the morning. Straighten up a room or two, spend a little extra time making your bed, puts some clothes away, take the newspapers out.

Once a month, take an extra hour on the weekend and extend the homage. So how do you care for your things? It’s as simple as this.

  1. If it’s broken, fix it or replace it.
  2. If it’s old and out of use, recycle or toss it.
  3. If you have too many of one thing, choose a few to keep and give away or store the rest
  4. Downsize the number of things that you have by asking, “when is the last time you used this?” “Do you really need it?”
  5. Take a critical eye to your surroundings, what needs attention? A fresh coat of paint might be overdue or clearing some cobwebs out of a corner. Breathe life and vitality back into your space.

Some time in a month or so, you might forget to pay your daily homage. Don’t give up, just start again. You have a lifetime of honoring yourself. And as they say on the airplane, “First place your oxygen mask on yourself and then take care of others around you.” This daily homage to your environment is that same act of placing your oxygen mask on you first.

Happy homaging in 2012.

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