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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

Wednesday
Oct102012

How to Get Unstuck - Update your dreams to get moving

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving (a little late)!  I just got back from a lovely weekend visiting family and friends and my feet were happy to find some colourful leaves to cruch underfoot.  Crunchy leaves and crunchy ice just make me happy.  I love you Canada... 

Have you ever found yourself with a dream, a long time dream, but without the motivation to pursue it?  If the answer is yes, I've got a treat for you. 

Jill Priest, funny gal and dog trainer extraordinaire, recently asked a question on facebook about how to get unstuck.  Jill and I have worked together in the past (we once filled 12 garbage bags full of clothes in one afternoon) and I was curious to hear the whole story, so I asked her if she would be willing to share her story with me (and you).

Luckily for us, she agreed.  Read on for Jill's letter and my response.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Hi Cecilia,

So, I've been feeling "stuck" for some time. What I love to do, and what I'm good at doing, is teaching people how to train their dogs.  I've been doing this dog training thing for ten years and it truly brings me joy.

I've always done this as a part-time pursuit. It used to fill four nights a week and both days every weekend, but I scaled back recently.  All the while, I've held a full-time, well-paying corporate-type job.

A few years ago, during a period of "feeling stuck," I "got really serious" with myself and what I wanted to do -- open a school for professional dog trainers. I identified three key things I had to do to make that happen: 1) pay off my personal debt, 2) sell my house so I was no longer crushed by such a large mortgage, and 3) buy (not lease) and pay off a vehicle.

The results of that little exercise were ENORMOUS. As in, within the space of two months, I had found a buyer for my home (without having to list with an agent), used the proceeds to pay off all my debt, and bought a much less expensive place with a more manageable mortgage. Not only that, but my life was heading in such a great direction and I was so happy about it, within a month after all that I met a the man who would become my husband and make me a happy step-mom to two amazing teenagers.

(I seem to remember posting about this on FB at the time. You called me "an amazingly powerful manifester," if I'm not mistaken.)

Fast forward a couple of years. Man and I are now married, we have bought a home of our own outside the city (much better for dog-related life), and have killed more than half the personal debt we carry (I was debt free, but he was not, so it's a common goal we're working against now).

Having someone to share common goals with is remarkably empowering, but at the same time, it can dilute your intentions a little. For example, I had hoped to be working full-time in dogs by now -- that was the plan, and we were on track for making it happen.

A few months ago, rather than take the leap into working with dogs full time, I talked myself into taking another full-time, corporate-type job, that requires me to commute a total of 5 hours a day.  The commute is actually okay, but the job is not. I'm not happy, I feel stupid much of the time, and in my heart, I know it's not where I should be or what I should be doing.

Part of the problem is golden handcuffs. The salary that I can count on every two weeks is a HUGE source of security to me, especially now that I'm married. Before, if I crashed and burned, well hey, it was just me, right? But if I crash and burn now, I have a partner that I'll be letting down. Not to mention all the pressure he'll feel if he becomes responsible for us financially (like a lot of couples, we've created a life that is based on two salaries).

I've been waiting/praying/looking for a sign or an event to signal to me that it's time to make the change -- winning the lottery or something equally securing. But I'm starting to think that I'm going to have to DO something before a change will come my way. And more importantly, that when I finally do something, whatever it is, it will bring the change that I need, even if it's not the one I have pictured in my head right now.

As always, I value your input and insight, and welcome whatever wisdom you have to impart.

Thanks,
Jill

P.S. It's not lost on me that my house is VERY cluttered and I'm certain that if I did a major clearing, it would also help me get unstuck. We were even thinking of renting a dumpster bin to go through a major "clean it out and haul it away" weekend!

(and here is my response)

Hi Jill,

Thank you for this.  It's really lovely to read about your journey.  A few things stand out to me when I read your email. 

The first one is, that I find myself wondering what your intentions are now? 

You write about how a HUGE shift happened when you got "really serious" and wrote down what you wanted and what was in the way.  It's just incredible to hear what happened when you really clarified your intentions.  You met your goals and not only that, but you made some space to meet a wonderful man who is now your husband. 

I guess the feeling that I get is that perhaps your intentions are a little stale.  You had a clear vision for your life and that life has changed significantly. 

This doesn't mean that you don't still want the same thing (to open a school for professional dog trainers), but the way you want it has probably changed.  When you first set out on that goal, your life was one way (you were single, you lived in the city, you had lots of big dogs) and now it's another (you're married, you have step-kids, you live in the country, you have lots of big dogs). 

There's one thing I know about you Jill, and that is that when you put your mind to something SHIT HAPPENS!

Yes, there's a part of you who wants to play it safe, keep the boring job and know that every two weeks you'll get a deposit in your bank account.  I just have to say, of course you want to play it safe.  It's totally sane and natural to want to pay your mortgage, buy food and support your hubby in his goals of reducing debt. 

I guess what I feel when I read your email Jill is that you're trying to figure it all out before you take a step.  As you know, the perfectionist is a huge fan of all or nothing thinking.  The perfectionist wants to know EXACTLY how you're going to get from A to B before she'll even put on her shoes to walk out the door.  She also thinks that you need to choose between the "golden handcuff" security of a full time job and the fly by the seat of your pants insecurity of working for yourself.  The truth is that you'll probably fall somewhere in between. 

You don't move, because you don't know what the journey is going to look like.

Who says that you have to give up your financial security to follow your dreams?

This is what you're going to do. 

STEP ONE: Bring your dream up to date!

You're going to write your destination.  You're going to write down what you want and how it's going to feel when you get there as Jill Priest, October 10th, 2012.

You don't have to figure out how you're going to get there, just paint a picture of your new life, with your school, your sweetie, your step-kids, your house in the country and your dogs.  Reconnect with the part of you who loves dogs and who loves teaching.  Get in touch with the joy and excitement that you feel when you consider living a life that is truly meaningful and fulfilling.

If the picture is a little fuzzy, than focus on the feeling.  How do you want to feel when you wake up in the morning?  What does a great day feel like?  What kind of work gets you excited about life?

STEP TWO: Clear out that clutter!

You lady, I will remind you again, can make shit happen, so ask for what you want and then make some space for it to come in.  This is not about choosing one life over another, it's simply about asking for what you want and opening to the possibility.

When you're sorting through your clutter ask yourself if the item supports you in the new vision you have for your life.  If it doesn't then out it goes.  It's so hard to see a path toward the future if you're bogged down with things from the past.

STEP THREE: Let your dream breathe!

Let it go to let it come.  Once you've decided what you want and you've made some space for it, give it a little breathing room. 

I get the sense that one of the reasons you feel stuck around creating your school for dog trainers is that you're stuck on it looking one way. 

Either you think it's going to be the way that you've done it in the past (working four nights a week and every weekend, uh, no thanks) or maybe you think you have to do it somebody else's way.

Let your dream grow organically.  It feels like this school could be something totally different than what you imagine it to be.  Get clear on the ingredients (how you want to feel, what you want to give etc...), make some space and then allow it to grow up on it's own. 

You may find that there are some things that will make it easier to grow (working a different job, using your five hour commute to brainstorm, moving to a part time job, video training, offering a weekend intensive rather than weekly classes etc...) but it's important to allow both the business and yourself to be pulled in the direction that feels exciting and enlivening rather than the direction you planned many years ago. 

Good luck Jill!!!  I can't wait to hear how it goes.  Once you put your mind, heart and soul into something it can't help but become something fabulous.  I've seen you do it too many times, it has to be true.

Oh, and you know that "sign" you've been looking for?  I think it just might be here.  As Bob Dylan once said, the times, they are a-changin.

ox

Cecilia

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thanks for reading Jill's letter and my response.  Now it's your turn.

Do you have a longtime dream that you can't seem to get moving on?  If the answer is yes than follow the steps above.  To review:

Step One - Bring your dream up to date!

Step Two - Clear that clutter!

Step Three - Give your dream some breathing room! 

I'd love to hear your experience with this so let me know how it goes in the comments below.

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!

p.p.s. I love questions, so if you have any questions on clutter or life, just drop me a line and I may feature your question and my answer in an upcoming post.

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!