Author: Leasa

Experience: 20 plus years as a transition counselor. Education: Master of Social Studies, Master of Business Administration, Master of Women Studies.
Getting on Top of Mail

Getting on Top of Mail

Getting on Top of Mail

We all have them, that pile of mail that you bring into the house and then stack on top of yesterdays, last weeks, sometimes last months mail. We all know each day we will find something in the mail box. The question is do you really want or need what is delivered to your house? And how do you organize the mail to eliminate the pile approach? I have one friend whose husband will pile the mail all over the kitchen counter. And believe me when I say pile I mean piles and piles, a year or more worth of mail. While I have another friend, who has the belief if I do not need it, I will not bring it into the house. He sorts the mail in the garage and immediately throws away everything that is not necessary before even walking in the door. Most of us are somewhere in between these two extremes. Below find a step by step way to get on top of your mail.

Dealing with the pile or piles already created:
1. Start by gathering ALL your mail into one spot.
2. Throw out any garbage as you come across it in your piles.
3. Recycle or shred any papers you do not need such as outdated flyers, empty envelopes, junk mail, coupons you don’t use, etc.
4. By completing steps two and three your pile should be considerably smaller.
5. Sort through your pile of paperwork to keep and group like items together (bills to be paid, paperwork to file, items to follow-up on, etc.
6. Take care of each category (pay bills, file papers, follow up on things. If you don’t have time right now, then set up a time when you will take care of it.
This should take care of the backlog of mail. Now, to keep it decluttered in the future, follow these simple steps:
1. Create a mail center somewhere convenient in your home. This center should have space for bills to be paid, items that need to be filed, items that need to be followed up on, a holder for coupons and promotional flyers you will use, and business mail if you operate a home business.
2. Throw out, shred or recycle EVERY piece of incoming mail that you do not need, as you bring in into the house. This means going through the mail and immediately throwing out all the junk, flyers, credit card opportunities, and other mail that is not important to you or your household. Believe it or not this is about 70 percent of the mail that enters your house.
3. Create a space for magazines and catalogs you will want to read at a later date. If you are like most people you may get catalogs which you know you will never use, recycle these immediately.
4. Organize your paper bills by taking them out of the envelope, read and immediately discard all flyers inside the envelope, and the envelope it came in. Put the portion of the bill that needs to be sent in with the payment and the return envelope in the bills to be paid section of your center. Place the rest of the bill in the to be filed section of your center. Some people like to pay bills as soon as they come in, while others like to pay them once a week, or once a month. I would suggest paying as many bills online as possible but I will caution against paying bills which are not a set amount by automatic payment. An example, I worked for a phone company at one time and my job was to dispute 900 charges on the bill. For people who had automatic payment this meant that the phone company took the total bill out of their bank and then offered the overpayment as a credit on their bill. This meant their money was tied up and not available for this month’s bills as they expected.
5. For items that need follow up you will need to decide when they need to be addressed. If it is an invitation for an event this weekend it will need to be followed up immediately, if it is a survey from a recent Dr. appointment it can be done sometime within the month. I suggest hanging a calendar above your mail center to place information such as events, upcoming sales you are interested in attending and appointments that need to be remembered. This way your follow up section will not become overwhelming.
6. Coupons which come in the mail may be useful for your house or not. Go through the coupon flyers and cut out coupons you know you will use. File these in your coupon holder. For restaurant and business coupons flyers decide if you are going to use them within the time they are usable and then either discard or file them in the coupon holder. Each week you will get store flyers in the mail. If you are someone who shops using these flyers create a space for them in your mail center but only keep them for the week they are good for. Once you sit down and create your shopping list discard them in recycling. I shop on Thursdays so I go through the flyers the same day they come in, usually on Tuesday or Wednesday, make my list and then recycle.
7. Set up a time each week to deal with paying bills, filing, and follow up activities. Reminding yourself that doing this activity once a week will make sure your mail center doesn’t start to look like your old piles of mail.
8. If someone else brings in your mail but you want to sort through it place a basket in your mail center but make sure you spent five minutes organizing it each day, you do not want to create a pile in the basket.

Good luck on decluttering your mail. You will feel so much better without the stacks of paper all over the house. If you have questions please feel free to email me at [email protected] and put decluttering mail in the subject line.

The Emotional Truth of Decluttering

The Emotional Truth of Decluttering

Decluttering: Where Do I Begin? Focusing on Items Which Hold no Memory.

 

This is an excerpt from my booklet, The Emotional Truth of Decluttering. To order for a PDF copy please pay $1o.00 to Paypal.me/Leasathomas and put the book title in the notes. Also include what email you would like the PDF to be sent to. Hope this helps you on the road to decluttering.

Research shows that many family members do not want the task of sorting out your belongings when you no longer need them nor do they want the items. The truth of the matter is owning possessions may become a chore instead of a pleasure. Just the task of dusting or finding an item in a crammed cupboard or closet can add stress to our lives and take time away from doing activities we enjoy. Many will ask themselves where do I begin. I suggest beginning with items which hold no memory for you as a place to begin. We will discuss items which hold memories in another chapter.
There are many ways to begin your decluttering project:
1. Pick a time limit for the chore. Spend 15 to 30 minutes a day decluttering. You may find you spend more than your allotted time which is ok, but definitely do the amount of time you have decided on.
2. Pick a certain area to focus on per day such as a drawer, a closet, or a corner of a room.
3. Pick a certain type of item to declutter such as all the items in a room you do not want or use.
4. Find a reason for a specific type of item to declutter such as the garage sale at your church, or the book sale at the library and then declutter items to be donated.
5. Pick a certain charity you want to donate to and then declutter items needed by the charity such as kitchen or household items for the local women’s shelter or homeless shelter.
If you are uncomfortable about the decluttering process understand that many items in our home hold some type of memory, which may make it hard to discard them. I recommend to my clients to begin the decluttering process by focusing on items of no use to them which do not have memories attached. An example, it is the time that we change our clothes from spring/summer clothes to fall/winter clothes. As you are putting away your unseasonable clothes check them for damage and discard them, check to see if they are items you wouldn’t wear again and if in good condition donate them, check to see if there are items you have too many of and discard the extras. Do this same process as you are going through your fall/winter clothes.
The same can be true for all items in your home. You may have collected too many of an item and if there is no memory attached and you no longer have a need for such a large collection then it is time to discard them. An example, a client was the host for Thanksgiving in her family for many years. As she aged she passed this task onto a younger family member. She had collected 12 glass pie pans because she needed that many when she was hosting. She was used to having them and never thought to get rid of them. Once I began working with her we went through her kitchen drawer by drawer and cupboard by cupboard and discussed why she had each item and their role in her life in the past and what role they played in her life now. Removing the extra 10 pie pans from her cupboard freed up space and also made them easier to use as she had to step on a step stool to get to the top of the stack each time she wanted to make a pie, now she could just reach into the cupboard and retrieve the top one. She gifted the 10 extras to the family member who now hosts Thanksgiving.
Understanding that decluttering is a process that will not be completed in a day or even a week. It is an ongoing process as your life changes. The truth is the saying, “begin at the beginning”, is so true when starting to declutter. I recommend my clients start by making a chart (you can find one that meets your needs by putting decluttering in a Google search) and then focusing on one area at a time. I also recommend that you start with items that hold no memories because items that hold memories are more difficult to discard. If you feel you need help with your decluttering process you can hire an organizer in your area or you can email me at [email protected] and we can discuss your personal needs. I do offer a six-week course on this topic with phone and email sessions to help you stay focused on your goal of finding peace in your home setting.

If I Hear “Just Do It” One More Time I May Scream

If I Hear “Just Do It” One More Time I May Scream

If I Hear “Just Do It” One More Time I May Scream
I am not satisfied with my life. I want to make a change in my life. When I talk to family and friends and mention I don’t like my life as it is they say, “Then change it. Just do it”. Like it is easy to make a major change in my life. I don’t have the resources to make the change I am seeking. I don’t have the energy, time, finances, support or knowledge to make the change. This overwhelms me and therefore, I do nothing and continue to feel discontent in my life. I wake up tired, I go through the day tired, I go to bed tired. I feel depressed, overwhelmed, angry, worthless, abused and disappointed sometimes because of my situation. These statements are examples of what I hear in my life guidance/coaching business. Knowing change is difficult in the best of circumstances and can seem almost impossible in the worst of circumstances, I have created a plan of action for opening up the possibility of change when a client comes to me with this dilemma.
I am a firm believer in writing things down. Some call this journaling, others list making, others just keeping my thoughts in one place. When you are desiring to create a change in your life I offer you this list of questions to begin the process of clarifying what you want looks like to you.
1. Clearly state the change you wish to make.
2. What has brought you to the decision to make this change in your life?
3. Describe past actions you have undertaken to make this change in your life.
4. Clearly state your successes and failures surrounding these past actions.
5. State your feelings about making this change.
6. What steps will lead you to successfully make this change.
7. What resources do you need to make this change?
8. Clearly state what you hope to gain from making this change in your life.
Once you have answered the questions with thought and reflection. Break down the resources you will need to make the change. Be realistic. If you are not able to complete heavy physical tasks brainstorm on ways to get it done without you doing the task. If you don’t have the financial resources to complete the task in one push, break down the tasks into financial chunks you can manage, or plan a savings account amount that is reasonable to accomplish this task. Do this breakdown with each of the necessary resources.
Remember the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. And some changes may seem like the elephant in the room. Always there but not always addressed. If you do one thing each day to move toward the change you desire when you are ready with your resources the task will be easier. Keep a written list of what you have done each day to reach your goal. The reason for this is that in life we tend to forget what we have done to positively affect our life and you truly will be surprised when you read over the list what you have accomplished. If you are in a situation where the change you desire is impossible, and while some will tell you nothing is impossible in truth some changes are impossible, create small changes that are possible that will make the situation acceptable instead of perfect.

 

Fear of Change

Fear of Change

Fear of Change

All authentic change goes through four stages:
1) Anticipation
2) Regression
3) Breakthrough
4) Consolidation
Anticipation is the exciting stage of change where we anticipate the benefits and make our transformational plans. Regression is when things get worse before they get better. Breakthrough is when we finally see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Consolidation is when we turn the benefits of change into business as usual.
In the regression stage anxiety may present itself and this anxiety can limit us from making a change. Anxiety and fear work together and allows us to stay stuck where we are instead of obtaining what we desire. These fears are broken down as:
Fear of the unknown: Not knowing what to expect and just ‘taking a leap of faith’ can add to feelings of anxiety. The first step to relieving the anxiety is to gather knowledge about the change you want to create. Creating questions about what you fear, and then seeking answers will allow you to understand that what you fear may not happen. Consider this a reality check on what you fear.
Fear of failure: Fear of failure is the top reason so many do not create change in their lives. You may not consider yourself to be a perfectionist but getting things perfect may stunt your ability to try new things. Failing can be painful but if you change your mindset to see failure as just a way to teach you how not to do something instead of a negative, you can get ahold of this fear and move forward in a more positive way.
Fear of success: This may seem to be an oxymoron because of course we want to succeed in anything we set out to do. But success comes with a different set of problems and we can get anxious thinking about this new set of problems. Our base fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is the light we possess within in that most frightens us. Have you asked yourself, “Who am I to believe I can be (fill in the blank). To reduce the anxiety around this fear we need to truly know ourselves and our value and remain true to them.
Fear of loss: Understand loss is part of change. You will lose known routines or things that defined you with change. You may also loose friends, family members, or parts of yourself with the change. To relieve the anxiety around this fear, create a written how-to plan on what you fear you will loose and what you will gain by losing that part of your life.
Fear of upsetting others: How others react to us depends on who we are. When we make a change, others are effected by the ripple effect. You can be stopped from making changes if you allow what you ‘think’ about how others will judge your change. Know you have the ability to change while keeping those closest to you on your side. Discuss with these people how they fill about the change and inform them as to your reasons for the change and then it is on them to accept the change. You cannot live your life to just please others.
Fear of leaving your comfort zone: We are creatures of habit. Sometimes these habits are negative but we become comfortable in the uncomfortableness and do not like facing changes to them. Know that changes allow for growth and new experiences. We have to leave our comfort zone to grow.
Fear of Self-doubt: Our internal script will say I am not good enough, who do I think I am that I believe I can accomplish this change. Again, this is a mindset shift to decrease the anxiety. Write down all the reasons you have the right to create the change and how you have the ability to create the change to focus on the positive aspects of you.
Fear of guilt: Putting other people’s needs before yourself will likely make you feel guilty when you make a change. Knowing when you change others will have to change in relation to you. People will use words such as should, must and have to when discussing the change with you. Do not buy into their beliefs. You are the one person who knows what you should do, have to do and must do.

Healthy Ways to Deal with Disappointment

Healthy Ways to Deal with Disappointment

Healthy Ways to Deal with Disappointment

First: take a moment to wallow in the disappointment. Accept how you are feeling and try to name the emotion. This may be by crying, stomping around, saying out loud what is disappointing you, questioning why this happened. Accept that what is happening is a disappointment. You did not want or expect the event to happen. This is not what you perceived happening.
Second: do a reality check. Is this really a bad thing? Can you fix the situation to turn it around to not be so disappointing? Look objectively at the problem. Reduce negative self-talk and do not go down the blame/shame/fault road.
Third: remember you have control over how you react to disappointment. You are the one to choose if you react negatively or positively to the situation. Decide right up front can you turn this around before your disappointment turns to irritation, anger, resentment or another negative emotion.
Fourth: do not stay in stuck in the negativity. The longer you wallow in the disappointment the more it will grow and the more you will be discouraged. Judge Judy speaks of disappointment and states she allows herself 15 minutes to cry and wallow then she seeks solutions and moves on.
Fifth: avoid anxious reactions in order to lower stress around the disappointment. Meditate, take a walk, drink a cup of tea, do something to reduce the anxious feelings before they overwhelm you and make you stuck in the disappointment.
Six: put the disappointment in perspective. Is this something that will lead to a better outcome? Is there some lesson to be learned from this disappointment that will help me live a better life? How can I frame this situation for a more positive outcome?
Seven: do not continually speak of the disappointment without informing people how you found a solution. Sometimes speaking of the disappointment over and over feels like it is helpful but when others begin to attack you or judge you for your reaction to the disappoint the conversation moves from this happened to me and I am disappointed to you are bad because you were disappointed.
Eight: do not take it personally. This is difficult because you may feel as if it is a decision you made that lead to the disappointment but know up front that the decision you made was made with the information you had at the time, and if it lead to disappointment, then you need to research ways to not make the same decision again.
Nine: journaling your disappointment can lead to a solution. Name how you are feeling, what the situation was that led to the disappointment and how you can control your life to change the situation.
Ten: self-preservations are a human function. We truly do focus on the negative in our lives. Develop positive thinking strategies to not become stuck in the negative.
Eleven: create a gratitude list each day. This will support the truth that not everything that happens to you is negative. It also will allow you to realize ten minutes of disappointment in a 24-hour period should not make your whole day negative.
Twelve: take a deep breath and clear your mind after a disappointment. Give yourself time to relax and then attack the situation with positive solutions. Practice the art of letting go, do not allow the disappointment to swallow you up or taint other situations in your life. Letting go is important once you have found a solution.

Journaling and It’s Postive Outcome

Journaling and It’s Postive Outcome

Each person will journal in their own way. It is a personal journey to greater self-understanding. Some journal each day, others when they want to work out a problem or document an “ah ha” moment. Know there are many articles and books available to teach you how to journal but the key to journaling is to understand up front what you want to accomplish by journaling. Some different types of journaling are: daily writing of the events of the day, working in your journal only when you have a situation you want to work out, setting a time limit of say six weeks and setting up your goals as to what you want to accomplish before you start the journal (I use this technique in my courses. Setting up a particular problem and then working it out in a set amount of time), using the journal as a place to record specific activities such as eating, weight loss, medical conditions, or any other issue you are working through. I have my counseling clients journal during our sessions, making notes of questions I ask them to work on that week, recording insights during the session and allowing them to continue the journaling with the homework I give them for the week. In this way, they can look back and see not only progress but can use it as a reference if a similar situation should arise again. You can also use your journal as a place to keep positive reminders of your life like a scrapbook. If you find a picture that speaks to you place it in your journal and record how you reacted to the picture. Kathy pointed out that she used journaling when working with grief counseling. I use journaling with my clients to allow them a space to focus on a problem/solution activity.
Journaling can have a positive effect on your behavior and well-being and behavior if it: Makes you step back and evaluate your thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Explores solutions. Brings your emotions and motivations into alignment with your deepest values. Converts negative energy into positive energy. Lowers your emotional reactions to others. Increases tolerance of ambiguity, ambivalence, and unpredictability which are part of normal living. Helps you take a definite course of action.
Journaling can become a negative activity if you focus only on negative things that have happened to you without seeking solution/understanding of the experience or becomes a vehicle of blame instead of a road to solution acquisition. You control what you receive from journaling by creating a clear series of sentences about a problem or negative feeling you feel you need to express and then take an objective look at the feelings; were they fact based, what from your past may have impacted how you reacted to the current situation, define the feeling/reaction to decide if there is a positive way to react to the same situation in the future. Can you turn this negative experience into a positive experience by learning from it to create positive self-growth? Create a plan of action in case the situation presents itself again so you are prepared as best as you can to meet the challenge with knowledge instead of just feelings.
My surrogate grandfather, who would be 103 if he was still alive, had a large calendar where he would document his life. If I would have told him he was journaling he would have scoffed at me and told me not to bring that psychobabble I was learning at the new-fangled University into his home. But that is what he was doing. In the right top corner of each day he would put the weather as it was important to him. On the right bottom corner, he would put a number from 1-10 which documented how he was feeling, since he was wounded in the war and suffered pain from the scrap metal in his hip. He would put a smiling face or a frowning face in the left bottom corner to document how the day was. He always documented his visitors for the day by naming them and if they did something interesting or celebrated something he would put it on the calendar. He would document where he went and who he went with if he had an outing that day. As he aged family members used his calendar to know what was going on in his life. When he passed on it was a nice way to celebrate his life by looking back at the 40 odd years of calendars he had saved.
If you would like to begin journaling, do a little google research to read about different types of journaling and decide what will fit your needs and what type of journal you would like to keep and then go and enjoy the documentation of your life.

Do you believe you have the power within?

Do you believe you have the power within?

Do you believe you have the power within you to rise above? What does it take to create a brighter, stronger version of you? Belief in yourself and your abilities. You may have been told your whole life, from childhood forward, that you could not obtain a goal because you don’t have the power to do so. Shutting out the scripts in your head that continue to tell you this lie is the beginning of changing your situation to rise above. Creating affirmations to replace the past scripts whispering in your head will allow you to move toward believing you do have the power within to rise above where you are now and where you want to be.

What affirmations will you repeat to yourself? You will have to decide within yourself what scripts you have running in your head and then create opposite statements. Examples would be: you heard that you are not smart enough to succeed to the affirmations I can learn anything I need to succeed or I have the ability to use my intelligence to create transformation in my life. You have heard from a child that you are unable to complete tasks to the affirmations around repeating times you completed projects.

Understand that when we are children we have no control over what is said to us or how we internalize it. BUT as an adult you have control over what you say to yourself.

Choosing a positive outlook in life.

Choosing a positive outlook in life.

When we wake up in the morning we have a choice on what our day will look like. Yes, we have to fulfill our obligations such as work, school, taking care of family, etc. but how we go about our day depends on us. If you choose to not be overwhelmed by the negative aspects of the day, and instead focus on the positive aspects of the day you will be happier and more self-aware. Understanding that positive attitude and positive outlook will change the way you react to the negative aspects of your day. An example: you are on your way to work and the car in front of you is moving slowly because the man in the driver’s seat is talking on his phone, drinking coffee, and generally not paying attention to traffic. You have two choices, you can become frustrated and angry that you will be late to work and try to go around him or you can take a few deep breaths and decide to use the time to plan what to have for dinner tonight. Either way you are going to arrive at work at the same time. Making a conscious decision to not let outside forces bring negativity into your day, allows you to live a happier life and not invite stress into your life.