Tag Archives: style

Want to Write Better? 21 Reminders about the Elements of Good Style.

Writing tipsWhether you write all the time, or only occasionally, you’ve probably thought about how to write better.

One of the best books about writing is The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr., and E. B. White. It has been in print for forty years.

I don’t know anything about Strunk, but I’m a huge fan of the writing of E. B. White.  I love his children’s books of course — masterpieces like Charlotte’s Web and The Trumpet of the Swan — and I also love his brilliant essays, like Here Is New York, and the Letters of E. B. White.

So I pay close attention to whatever he says about style.

The reminders from The Elements of Style include:

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The Importance of Following Your Inner Voice

inner voiceBy Kristin A. Meekhof

When a well- known author gave me the opportunity to guest blog on her website, I did a happy dance. I had to reread the email several times to take it all in.  At the same time, I was a ball of nerves. I actually felt a knot in my stomach. I worked countless hours on this blog entry, and even confided in a friend, who is an editor, that I was filled with angst.  As a professional editor, this dear friend offered to review my work. I didn’t hesitate to accept this generous gesture.  I felt that a second set of professional editorial eyes was just what I needed.

After exchanging a few emails with my friend, I felt confident that I had the polished and perfect article ready for submission.  My friend’s editorial remarks and insights were nothing short of genius.  Now, my sentences were crisp and alive. Moreover, I felt that I captured the true essence of this blog assignment. I submitted my work, and waited, and waited. No word. Finally, I got a generic email back stating that I was rejected. The words stood out like a black eye. My ego was bruised and my self- esteem tanked.  I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I’ve been published numerous times by a national well- respected publication and now, this- rejection!  In a panic, I contacted my friend. She reassured me that revisions and edits are part of the game.  She kept repeating “No worries”, in a calm tone.  Honestly, I was worried.  I asked the author’s assistant for feedback as to why I received the rejection. No response.  I resubmitted a revised version, and I was rejected- again.

I set aside the article for a day, and went back to reread what I wrote.  I realized that the writing did not sound like me. I had lost my voice. I was intimidated by this “big” author. Wanting to impress others, I tried to write for them instead of myself. In the past, my writing voice has served me well.  After all, it is what earned me this author’s blog invitation. After some hours of rumination, I called my trusted aunt and explained the situation. With a very maternal voice, she said, “Listen very carefully to the (writing) voice inside you.”

I had compromised my writing voice in exchange for something that I thought guaranteed sophistication. When I set aside my own style in favor of a voice that I assumed was fancy and fabulous, I rejected my own voice.  A voice that is strong, that I’ve relied on, not only to obtain other writing assignments, but a voice that has guided me through some very difficult decisions.

I think we all have our own inner voice that guides and teaches us. For some of us, that voice is strong and courageous. For others, the voice is hesitant and passive.  I’m not suggesting that we have all the answers. Of course, there are times when we can’t be afraid to ask for help. In fact, there are times when obtaining outside professional help is necessary. What I am speaking to is listening to that voice within you.  Some call this voice, “a gut feeling” or “intuition”. Whatever you may call it, listen. Listen to its whispers, to its laughter, and to its tears. These are the sounds and songs of the heart. This is what will connect you with the goodness in others, and what will bring out your own truth.  Be brave. Listen.

My intent is to listen to my own voice and to the songs and whispers of my heart.

***

Brief Bio- Kristin Meekhof is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post. Her writing has appeared in Author online magazine,  Ecclesio, and the University of Michigan Cancer Website blog. She is currently working on her upcoming book– Just Widowed,  and can be reached at www.kristinmeekhof.com

Dîner en Blanc: The Biggest, Classiest Dinner Party in the World – Tonight!

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If you happen to be in Paris, France tonight and are privy to the underground communications of the Dîner en Blanc, then you are in for a treat! Founded nearly 25 years ago by François Pasquier, this ongoing dinner party – the largest in the world – convenes yearly in public places undisclosed until just an hour before the event. Diners must be personally invited by organizers, friends of organizers, friends of friends of…you get the picture. But apart from that layer of exclusivity, the event is grassroots, diverse, and non-commercial. Though technically not legal as it often descends upon landmarks, including in past years the Eiffel Tower site, the Louvre Pyramid, the Trocadéro Esplanade, the Château de Versailles, and the Esplanade de Notre-Dame, officials tolerate the innocent revelry of this “dinner in white.”

The “en blanc” part refers to the all-white outfits, linens, and decorations diners come equipped with, creating the aura of a chic, classy restaurant as opposed to the makeshift, outdoor picnic it truly is. Picnic or no, the event is all class. As outlined on their website, guests are responsible for bringing:

A table, two (white) chairs, a picnic basket comprised of quality menu items and china dinner service. They must wear white and be dressed elegantly. Originality is encouraged as long as it stays stylish and denotes taste.

It might sound a bit stuffy, but as the organizers urge, the guidelines are in place mainly to create a container for a magical, festive (and photogenic!) event. And the rules haven’t kept other communities from initiating their own local versions of the Dîner en Blanc, now in eighteen countries around the world!

Dîner en Blanc, a new documentary, captures the whimsical nature of this non-traditional dinner party, and the trailer alone is bound to whet your interest:

Looks like fun, eh? Good luck finding a way in to this exclusive party – but if you have a contact for any of the cities, can we be your plus one? 🙂

Photo credit: Dîner en Blanc

5 Best Sources of Home Improvement Inspiration

Home improvement is an important topic for many homeowners. If you’re a current homeowner, you may just want to give your house a little pick-me-up by refreshing walls, installing kitchen upgrades, or simply buying new curtains to complete a look.

On the other hand, it’s a buyer’s market, and if you’ve recently purchased a home, you’re probably looking for inspiration to make it your own. If you’re a visual person or just looking for ideas to jump-start your creativity, here are some of the best sources of home improvement inspiration:

5. Pinterest: Where Your Inspiration Board Becomes Digital

Image via Google Images

Pinterest is the very popular online inspiration board website that just keeps gaining users left and right. Create specific boards for yourself based on what items you want to save from the internet and then “pin” images from your favorite sites.

With more than 40 million users, Pinterest is sure to offer inspiration for anything imaginable. Want to explore DIY improvements? Interested in viewing specific color schemes? Need to find a picture of a bathroom with bamboo? Pinterest has a whole page of search results for that.

4. Home Depot & Lowes: Specialty Stores You Can Connect With

Image via Flickr

Speciality stores Home Depot and Lowe’s have created inspiration magazines that are available for free download via iTunes. The Home Depot’s Style Guide and Lowe’s Creative Ideas Magazine both provide gardening and other visual inspirations to design ideas and trends, making both digital publications invaluable for home improvement inspiration.

3. Zillow Digs: Combining House-Hunting & Improvement Guides

Image via Flickr

If you’ve been in the market for a home, chances are you’ve heard of Zillow. This popular website is a great tool for buyers to view valuations and other data. With the new iPad app and Web service called Zillow Digs, Zillow is now competing against Pinterest for those users looking for home improvement inspiration.

Just like Pinterest, users can “pin” their favorite images, but unique to Zillow Digs  is the ability for users to view the estimated cost of the featured rooms and easily connect with local professionals in the industry. And if you’re looking for a way to protect your investment on a a particularly costly project, see this page for some good home security options.

2. Houzz.com & Merrypad.com: Inspiring Trends for Do-It-Yourselfers

Image via Flickr

Aside from online boards like Pinterest and Zillow Digs, there is an unbelievable number of websites dedicated to home decor, improvements, and DIY projects. Houzz.com features house tours, advice, how-to help, and more. Merrypad.com is a website dedicated to DIY projects and those homeowners who want to embrace the do-it-yourself lifestyle.

1. BrightNest: Your Guide to Innovating & Renovating

Image via BrightNest.com

Possibly one of the most artsy and most places on the web for home renovators and innovators is Brightnest. The site is a great resource for almost any aspect of home improvement. The site also recently launched an excellent iOS app that not only offers advice and inspiration, but it also helps you to organize your tasks.

Due to the advancements of technology, it’s become easier for homeowners to find improvement inspirations to make renovations fun and easy. By taking advantage of all the tools in front of you, you’re most likely to generate the most diverse and creative ideas.

What sources do you use for home improvement inspiration?

The World’s Most Powerful Makeover

This is #26 of 108 Ways to Livin the Moment. Let’s take back our lives one beautiful, funny, and delicious moment at a time

#26 of 108: Get a Free $261,000 Makeover

“By accepting yourself and fully being what you are, your simple presence can make others happy.” –Unknown

I have a hard time looking at myself in pictures. Can you relate?

If you are halfway normal, you see all that’s wrong and say things like:

“Oh I look terrrrrrible in that photo!”

“Now I understand why they called me Boom Boom in college…”

“Oh My God l look like Gargamel with a moose knuckle!”

How you look in pictures, how you really look, is not based on what you were wearing or how fit you were at the time.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/36512942@N07/4988644763
Photo: AshleyCooper

How you look in pictures is based on how present you were in that moment when the shutter snapped.

Presence beats the greatest look, the hottest shoe, the finest handbag.

Presence is stylish.

Presence is rare.

Presence is sexy.

For cryin out loud, presence smells good.

So here’s your challenge today…

If you want to look shinier than the woman with a Chanel Diamond Forever Tote (cost: $261,000) or bolder than the dude with a Alexander Amosu suit (cost: $110,000)…

…if you want to be more evocative than the girl with the sick body or more powerful than the dude who runs the Ironman while you sleep…

Be more attentive.

Be more forgiving.

Be more loving.

BE MORE PRESENT.

 

photo by: AshleyCooper

Bliss is the New Black

If there’s anything that this downturn in the economy has taught us, it’s that our happiness does not depend on the money we make. We have learned to be creative, to downsize, to “make do” and to accomplish more with fewer resources. Like it or not, we have learned lessons from these experiences, and I venture to say that we are the better for it.

It’s even become trendy to shop in thrift stores, to re-purpose items we already have, and do partake in extreme couponing. It started out as a challenge, and it has developed into an art form. We blog about it, make TV shows about it, and have even begun to enjoy it! We have found a way to happiness through our creativity, resourcefulness, and ingenuity, and we are reaping the rewards of our efforts. We realize that there is an element of style in being frugal, a simplicity that makes us feel good. Bliss is the new black!

Abraham Lincoln, now experiencing a resurgence of popularity thanks to a new movie portraying him as a vampire hunter, said: “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” This is as true today as it ever was. Tom Shadyac, the successful Hollywood director famous for blockbuster hits Ace Ventura, Bruce Almighty, and others, had a personal experience that caused him to question what is wrong with this world, and to turn this quest for answers into a documentary entitled “I Am.” The big eye-opener in the film is that at a certain point our society veered off from being one of cooperation to one of competition. People started feeling the need to accumulate, to hoard, to get more and do better. Instead of acting as a community out for the good of the whole, we isolated ourselves into looking out for the good of the individual, often at the expense of the whole.

And yet, this did not make us any happier. Through much research Shadyac discovers that at a certain point, we really are about as happy as we make up our minds to be. A bigger house, more cars, more conveniences, all of the peripheral “stuff” that signals our success to the outside world, does not do anything to change our base level of happiness. In fact, by isolating ourselves, separating ourselves from the community, it can even have the opposite effect, causing us to feel lonely and out of touch. As humans we crave connection. The law of relationship says we are here to help each other learn and grow. We need relationships, we need people, to allow us to do that. In his film, Shadyac explains that the Aboriginals believe that to accumulate and strive for anything more than what you need to live on is mental illness. We need to look out for each other, not just for ourselves.

In the mid-1980’s Joseph Campbell, mythologist, author and speaker, explained what it takes to be happy, and his philosophy can be summed up with the phrase: “follow your bliss.” He derived this idea from the Hindu Upanishads. He said:

Now, I came to this idea of bliss because in Sanskrit, which is the great spiritual language of the world, there are three terms that represent the brink, the jumping-off place to the ocean of transcendence. Sat-Chit-Ananda. The word “Sat” means being. “Chit” means consciousness. “Ananda” means bliss or rapture. I thought, “I don’t know whether my consciousness is proper consciousness or not; I don’t know whether what I know of my being is my proper being or not; but I do know where my rapture is. So let me hang on to rapture, and that will bring me both my consciousness and my being.” I think it worked.

And yet, also during the 1980’s, we became familiar with the mantra uttered by the character Gordon Gecko in Wall Street: “Greed is good.” Reportedly, when some of Campbell’s students took Campbell’s bliss statement to be encouraging hedonism, Campbell came back at them with: “I should have said, “Follow your blisters.”

We face the same sort of disparity in messaging today. If bliss is the new black, and our values are less on the material and more on the spiritual, than why are the Kardashians so popular? Their reality TV show flaunts an uber-luxurious lifestyle complete with private jets and international family vacations. A 16-year-old doesn’t just get a sweet-sixteen party for her birthday, she gets a blow-out catered bash at a chic hotel, her own brand new Range Rover, and the whole experience gets made into an E! Network Special. All of the opulence comes at a price. The mother is a workaholic who explains her lack of presence by saying on camera “I’m working to keep us afloat.” The father figure disappears for 3 days to make a point that he has been largely ignored and no one notices. Family members show their love by calling each other names that I can’t repeat in a G-rated publication, and adults drinking to excess and often acting like children wrestling each other to the floor. And then there’s that million-dollar wedding that resulted in a 72-day marriage. The priorities seem to be, at least to the viewers, quite skewed.

According to Vedanta, life is the co-existence of opposites. We can’t have one without the other. It’s a matter of balance. We need to keep all of this in perspective and know that the choices we make, with our purchases, and with our TV viewing habits, make a difference. Maybe that’s why it is so disturbing to us when Oprah, the queen of quality TV and the arbiter of taste at her very own television network, chooses to have the Kardashians on her TV show. And as a part of the deal, supposedly, Oprah has agreed to appear on their show as well. In the interview with Oprah, the siblings say that they are indeed very spiritual, but that this part of their life isn’t shown on camera. Maybe this is what Oprah wanted us to see, that even with what seems to be the most decadent lifestyle, there is a flip side. I respect Oprah, so I have to trust her judgment. Maybe it was a savvy move. If it gets some Kardashian fans over to OWN then good for her!

How refreshing it would be to have the option to watch a reality show about real people, doing real good in the world. It’s not about what happens with pampered housewives in gated communities, or the black tie fundraisers. There are so many rich stories about what really takes place right in our own neighborhoods. There are heroes in our midst, with heartwarming, life-affirming examples of how to follow our bliss by helping others. If bliss is the new black, don’t show us the closets crammed with designer shoes; show us the moments of human connection, the relationships, the growth that takes place. That’s the real character arc. That’s what sustains us. That is what is real. Everything else is just an illusion, a version of reality edited for the sake of ratings. When presented with options over time people will eat a balanced meal – we are compelled to nourish ourselves. It works the same way with the television, too. The media can be a real instrument for change. Then maybe we’ll see that bliss, like black, is a classic that never goes out of style.

Take the Style Self-Exam

I once worked with a branding client who had a closet full of clothes fit for a strumpet. Purple animal prints, a sequin skirt (with the price tag still on it,) lacey itty-bitty things. Yet, she told me that her ideal outfit was a crisp white shirt, straight-legged jeans and a single strand of pearls. "I could wear that everyday," she pined. "You know, Jackie O with a twist." Uh…huh.

 

So I raised my eyebrows and held up a red leather vest. "Yeah…not very Jackie." She admitted. "So what’s going through your mind when you’re shopping?" I asked. "Really put yourself in the scene. You’re standing at the clothing rack and the day-glo leopard print says exactly what to you?" Her eyes widened. "It says to me: ‘Your mother would hate this. Buy it!’" she blurted out.

Et voila! Mystery solved.

As it turned out, when she was growing up her mother dictated what was proper and not-so proper to wear. And even though she was now a grown up in her own big house with her own big job, her fashion decisions were based on little unconscious ways to rebel against her conservative mommy.

THE POWER OF PREFERENCES
Our preferences define us, yet we rarely think twice about why we’re actually attracted to something. "I like it, I want it, I need it, I gotta have it." But, why? Our personal fashion choices are often the most unexamined parts of our lives.

A Minute With The Style Shrink

So tell me…

Why do you buy what you buy? Do a mental scan of your wardrobe. Think of the your most recent purchases, or your most-worn pieces, or the regrettables collecting dust in your closet. What motivated those choices? Were you feeling…elation? Rebellion? The deep craving to belong? The drive to appear powerful? Sentimental for the past? Sweet, sensual inklings? At one with the style gods?

Who do you take shopping with you? Not literally, but, psychically. Do you have your own what-not-to-wear committee on your shoulder? Are your inner style advisers jeering at you or cheering you on?

Do your clothes feel like friends or foe? Do you have to psyche yourself up to get into that navy suit that sucks the innovative thinking right out of you? Or do you look at that linen tunic and think, "Ahh, old friend, we work so well together?"

Every choice is an expression of what we believe. On a daily basis, we make material and aesthetic choices that tell our story. Bold. Understated. Glam. Earthy. We are constantly showing the world who we are — or who we think we are. And the world responds accordingly.

Danielle LaPorte is the creator of WhiteHotTruth.com … which has been called the best place online for kick-ass spirituality. An inspirational speaker and CBC TV commentator, Danielle helps entrepreneurs rock their career with her signature Fire Starter Sessions. You can find her on Twitter @daniellelaporte

 Photo: CC Flickr//Darwin Bell

Distressing Times Well Worn

I have heard that fashion often reflects the mood of the times.  When we are optimistic as a society, hemlines tend to go up.  When we feel gloomy, we see more dark gray hues.  So it really is no surprise that the fashion trend of the moment seems to be the “distressed” look.   

I’ve seen this everywhere.  Jeans have manufactured holes in them, strategically placed rips and sanded down seams.  Shirts are wrinkled on purpose, just enough to give that worn-for-a-long-time feel to them.  Gone are the starched collars and in is a more “easy” fit.  Our new shoes are to be worn not only without socks, but also with the laces conspicuously missing.

Our clothes are mirroring our distress.  We’ve got a monstrous unemployment rate, and a seemingly endless war or two going on at the same time.  We are dealing with natural disasters all over the globe, and an oil spill with repercussions that reach far into the future.  The economy basically, well, is there any better word than “sucks” right now? And on top of all this, there’s the whole Tiger letdown, Jesse cheating on our beloved Sandra, and the Gores’ divorce!  Yes, “distress” is putting it mildly.

The fact that we have chosen to wear the distressed look tells me that as bad as things are, we have hope.  We know we can get through this.  These are the kinds of clothes we wear when we’re ready to get down to the business at hand.  Those paint splattered khakis?  They say: “I can handle anything!”  That faded denim shirt?  It says: “Put me to work!”

Volunteerism is at its highest level since 1992.  We may be pinching pennies, but we were able to scrape up $1.3 million dollars in just 2 hours when Larry King went on the air to raise money to help clean up the Gulf.  This is definitely a “can do” society.  We are keenly aware that things are bad, and we’re making a concerted effort to do what we can to make things better.

We are banding together more.  Those “six-degrees of separation” have all but disappeared with social networking.  Alyssa Milano personally tweets the importance of the mosquito net in helping to combat malaria and with just a few clicks we are sending a net to the cause.  Jenny McCarthy and Holly Robinson Peete have raised awareness and inspired us to take action on behalf of families struggling with autism.  Philanthropy has gone viral!

So, yes, with all the events that are happening seemingly at the same time, we’re distressed.  But maybe in this state we finally have our priorities straight.  Maybe we are starting to understand what is important to us.  Our style is changing, and evolving.  I see the current trend as a statement that “fashion” as we know it doesn’t matter right now.  What matters is that we take care of the issues at hand, and that we take care of ourselves and each other.

Eschewing Leather for Eco-Materials

Cri de Coeur—“cry from the heart” for those of you Francophobes—is all vegan, all the time.
 
We got a lot of flak for featuring non-vegan shoes on the site last month. And though we still entertain the argument that the environmental scale may tip in favor of wearing veggie-tanned, heavy-metal free leather (arguably a byproduct of the meat industry), over the petroleum-based materials favored by many low-priced, leather-free shoe lines, the absolutely oil-free Cri de Coeur makes us want to wear all vegan, all the time.
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Because although the line eschews skins in favor of eco- and animal-friendly materials, it’s as haut as any leather line on the block—chrome free or not. Founded in 2007 by Gina Ferraraccio, Cri de Coeur—which means “cry from the heart” for those of you Francophobes—is out to change the face of footwear, one vegan shoe at a time.

Those London Sole demi-flats you’ve been lusting after? CdC does them in luxurious faux suede for $100 less. Going Grecian this year? Check out the Abigail sandal—t-strapped with a hot-pink ‘80s twist. Like your heels high? You’ll love the suede open-toes with the three-inch stacked heel.

But to transition us to fall—especially with (organic cotton, of course) tights—our vote this month goes to the Helena ($295), two-tone, cutout ankle bootie in midnight blue and black suede. Or maybe it goes to the Alexa ($260), an open-toed boot with cut-out sides, crafted in canvas with faux black patent accents.

It’s like going on a date with George Clooney and getting hit on by Robert Pattinson. Who could choose?

Luckily, you don’t have to decide, as we’re—surprise!—giving away one pair of Helena and one of Alexa this month. Enter to win, and you could take home a pair of one (thus justifying the purchase of the other).

Then your cry from the heart would be one of joy.

Putting the Om in Your Home

The defining assignment of my 7th grade French class was to create Ma Maison de Reve ("my dream house") through an elaborate process that involved my classmates and I hoarding our mothers’ copies of House Beautiful and Town & Country, toting them to school, scouring their glossy pages during class, and selecting the bedrooms, kitchens, patios, etc. that we hoped to inhabit someday. Wielding scissors, glue sticks, and French-English dictionaries, we each embarked upon the design and description (in French) of a home to suit our individual tastes. Like our personalities, our homes were drastically different. Some were traditional while others were modern. Some belonged in America, some in France, and others in more exotic locations. Come to think of it, it’s possible that my home was less of a home and more of a hotel in Greece, likely clipped from the pages of Conde Nast Traveller. The beauty of the project was simple: There were few restrictions. Your home needed to have at least one kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom, but beyond that, anything else was fair game. Tree houses, game rooms, menageries, Olympic size pools, baseball diamonds–if you could draw it, photocopy it, or clip it, it was as good as yours.

Today, my options are more limited. The leasing office for my apartment building in Boston vetoed the baseball diamond I proposed for the roof deck, and my pet otter, cockatoo, and tree monkey have already outgrown the bathroom menagerie. Alas, my design prowess is relegated to a world of more modest resources than it was in 7th grade, namely, reality.
 
To this end, I’ve compiled a few more feasible home design tips for simply and inexpensively creating your own "maison de reve." Scissors, glue sticks, and French-English dictionaries not required.
 
Friends Are More Important Than Furniture
When I consider the most comfortable and calming homes I have ever visited, they all have one thing in common: They are filled with good people. They can be sprawling second homes just as easily as teeny studio apartments, but the same rule holds true.
 
While it’s nice to outfit your personal space according to your sense of style, with design elements such as furniture, light fixtures, artwork, etc., incorporating people you love into your home will always give it a sparkle beyond spotless granite counter tops and a coziness to exceed that of a cashmere throw blanket. There are a couple ways to do this. First, you can invite people into your home, to add their warmth and energy to your space (this is the idea behind housewarming parties, of course). However, if you’re not the entertaining type or your home is too small to host friends, you can accent its design with personal touches, like my friend Alexa does (known on my blog as NYC Gal). Like most New Yorkers, Alexa makes due with limited living space. Entertaining friends would be cramped, so she’s found another way of integrating her loved ones into her home, by filling her apartment with artful photos of friends and family. These are not the conventional refrigerator door family photos, these are chronological, geographical, autobiographical collages and collections that instantly capture who she is and what’s important to her. She continually updates these pictures, keeping the energy in her home fresh and friendly.
 
Less Clutter = More Happiness
For me, few things are more liberating than the act of clearing out clutter, whether the clutter is physical, such as piles of mail on the kitchen counter, or psychological, a la the incessant, scrolling to-do list in our brains. Regardless of how clutter encroaches upon your life, you need to take proactive steps to remove it. Rather than saving a messy house for large, sweeping organizational overhauls, tidy up every day. Begin to scrutinize what comes into your home by ditching junk mail before it hits the kitchen counter or quietly sending unwanted gifts to Goodwill (I know it sounds heartless, but honestly, burying that tchotchke from Aunt Mary under your bed isn’t doing either of you a bit of good). If you can identify the key areas in your home that generate clutter- which, in turn, generate, stress and stuck energy- you can address them and begin feeling more relaxed immediately.
 
You May Multi-Task; Your Bedroom May Not
Some areas of your home (i.e. your bedroom) should be clutter-free zones, no matter what. This rule is paramount to creating bliss within your personal space. Bedrooms are for sleeping and sex, and little else. Got that? Repeat after me: Sleeping and Sex. Bedrooms are not for trolling the Internet on your computer, sending text messages via Blackberry while propped up on your pillows, watching aimless hours of late-night TV (I recommend removing the TV from your boudoir completely or, at the very least, concealing it), stowing piles of laundry, or housing purposeless clutter. People often pine for a place where life’s minutia cannot find them, but the truth is, that should be your bedroom. Stop waiting to be whisked off to a remote tropical isle without cell phone reception. Banish tech toys, information overload, and household headaches from your bedroom and you will have a relaxing retreat at home, each night, which will pay dividends in your daily life. If you have limited living space, devise a way to organize the room so that anything not relating to sleeping or sex is not in the vicinity of your bed. Buy a chic room divider or use furniture to create natural barriers. Remember, for the health and happiness of your body and mind, your bedroom should not be permitted to multi-task.
 
Invite the Outdoors In
Though we are highly evolved animals with lots of shiny gadgets that enable us to stay home and order take-out rather than hunting and gathering for our meals and communicate without actually convening in the same physical space, we are nonetheless animals. We thrive in nature. We are meant to breath fresh air, absorb vitamin D from the sun’s rays, and explore our natural surroundings. For this reason, it’s important to incorporate elements from the natural world into our homes. Whether it’s a plant, fish, or stunning environmental photograph, natural elements bring a space alive, literally. Start small- a cactus perhaps, if you’re wary of your horticultural skills- and go from there. Natural, recycled, and "green" fabrics and materials are en vogue now, so take advantage by incorporating them into your home. It will transform not only your space but your mindset as well.
 
Create With Color
When cultivating your personal space, nothing makes a bigger impact than color. If your home feels drab or energetically stale, it can usually be remedied with a few doses of one of your favorite hues. Refer to elements in the natural world as a guideline. For example, if you want a room to feel a certain way, opt for colors associated with a corresponding natural element. For a soothing effect, opt for colors that evoke water. If you want a room to feel warm and upbeat, use accents that suggest fire elements, such as reds, oranges, golds, and yellows. If you’re timid about using too much color at once, try small, thoughtful accents instead, including throw pillows and area rugs. Like any home decoration or reorganization, you’ll find that a little goes a long way when creating your own "maison de reve." Plus, how often would you really use that baseball diamond anyway?
 
May you always find the om in your home,
Om Gal
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