It's been a long, weird month away from my business and from you, my amazing tribe. I've had a few personal emergencies that threw me totally off my groove and left me putting out some fires - including, at one point, a full-scale top-to-bottom cleaning of my apartment! I suppose it's only fitting, with Halloween and Samhain (the New Year for a lot of Pagans) only a week away. And it's left me thinking about clutter of all kinds: the physical kind, the mental, and even the spiritual.

You don't have to be a hoarder - or someone in a long-time battle with cleaning, like me - to suffer from a buildup of junk. We're reluctant to get rid of things that no longer work for us, to create new systems for our lives, to streamline the world we live in. In honor of the upcoming new year, here are five ways you can cut down the clutter in your life - and feel like you're getting a whole new start!

1. Keep, Store, Toss
Everything has a purpose, but sometimes it can wear out its welcome. Go through your house and take a look at what you have in storage, laying around the house, or in your closets and dressers. Decide what you use all the time, what you need to put in storage (for me it's the books I can't bear to get rid of), and what needs to get donated or thrown out.

2. How's That Working For You?
But this isn't just about physical "stuff"! Spend about a week keeping track of your day, from what you do at work to how you spend your evenings when you've got a moment to yourself. Where are your breaks too long, or too short? Is there a way to cut down on the time your work takes? How effective are you at what you're doing, and is there another way to make it easier?

3. Make Some Sacred Time
It might sound ridiculous to add one more thing to a packed and overwhelming day. But if you're reading this blog, chances are you have a spiritual path you follow and you know how important it is. Set aside ten minutes for some kind of daily ritual: meditation, exercise, yoga, daily devotions, or prayer are just a few of your options. Taking time out for your connection to the Universe gives you clarity and discipline, and most of all, it lets you know you're part of something bigger than yourself. You matter, and we all need that reminder sometimes.

4. The Power of Three
At any point in time, I've got twenty different things I keep meaning to get to "someday". The trouble is, those "somedays" can clutter up my mind and leave me distracted with half-baked ideas, vague plans, and guilt when I don't achieve half of what I wanted to. Pick just three things to get accomplished in a day, and make them your goals. If your goals are long-term, pick three small things you can do to accomplish those goals. Write them down, put the list somewhere you can see it, and commit. When you're done with that list for the day, you can tack on more if you need to, but this will help keep your life streamlined and clear.

5. Don't Be Afraid to Ask For Help
It can be hard to ask for help - but sometimes it's what we need. When everything gets overwhelming, there are places to go. Life and spiritual coaches can help you get a handle on the day-to-day. Friends and family can give you a new perspective, or just a sounding board if you need it. It's scary to admit you don't always "have it together", like you're making yourself vulnerable and opening your life up to visitors all at once. But sometimes, just getting it all out in the open can leave you feeling clear and refreshed. And two pairs of hands can work much faster than one.

Here's wishing you a happy, healthy, and clutter-free week!

The Star is one of my favorite cards. And I'm always pleasantly surprised that it doesn't have more people resisting it like The Tower, or giving it layers of meaning like The Devil or Death. It's a card about faith, hope, and Divine guidance, and yet everyone's as delighted to see it as me.

Okay, I know that sounds ridiculous. Why would people be opposed to the promise of good things to come?

Well, hope is a challenging thing. Hell, the President of the United States made it a campaign topic. It suggests the Divine or angels, an end to struggle, the light at the end of the tunnel. That's tough sometimes. When you're sad or overwhelmed, being told there's a way out can be frightening. It suggests changes that might be large and just as scary. It asks for you to take risks, make adjustments, and be ready to entertain second chances.

The Star follows The Devil, a card about being trapped by harmful patterns and self-defeating behaviors, and The Tower, a card about breaking down the crumbling foundations to rebuild new things. It's a hope that emerges from tough, painful circumstances, a guidepost that points the way home. And the beauty of The Star? Is that all of these things are steps on the road to something amazing. The World, with its completion of a cycle and feeling of having it all, is only four steps away. 

In a way, The Star is a lot like a good Tarot reading. If you're feeling confused, lonely, or just plain in need of clarity, it can show you the road ahead. It can give you new insights on how you change your life. It's been delivered to you at a time you can handle it, when you're capable of making the change - but the change is up to you. It's a responsibility that is purely in your hands.

And making that change yourself, as scary as it can be, will make the conclusion all the more powerful and satisfying.
This week's deck is the Tarot of Prague by Alex Ukolov & Karen Mahony, a collage of photographs from Prague's art and architecture. I love the pensive, thoughtful look of the figure pouring the jars, and the little stars captured in the water. Divine love and new possibilities are wellsprings that never truly run dry, not if we know how to access them. But we do need to remember to take a drink.  

Well, we're at the end of the Ultimate Blog Challenge, and I've successfully written 31 different posts relating to Tarot, history, fear, motivation, diversity, creativity, and my continued ridiculous love for Leonie Dawson.

This is a huge thing for me, because while I love my blog to pieces, and I love everyone I've met through it, sometimes I slip up. I don't write a post every day, so I write extra posts and backdate a day or two. I don't always promote every post perfectly. Some of my ideas have been great, some not so great. I could write for a month or ten years, love it no less, and still have it be a learning process. So accomplishing this, having everything to show for this month, is a big deal for me.

Why would I tell you this when I'm a life coach? When I use my gifts as a Tarot reader, along with creative exercises and a guiding hand, to help others to learn, plan, expand, and grow? 

Because it's okay.

I have ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder. That means things like schedules, repeated tasks, and details are sometimes difficult for me. I've had to learn, over a long period of time, that Getting Stuff Done and Being Organized doesn't come as easily to me as it does to other people. 

That means I've done more to learn how to make it happen for me, what works and doesn't work, what fits into my personal rhythm and needs. And that means I've learned how to make mistakes: with acceptance. Understanding what happened, and how that's where I'm at. Resolving to take what I've learned, and try again tomorrow.

I've had times in the past where I'd decide that overnight, I was going to be a master of everything. I'd plan to work my tail off until my house was sparkling, my eating habits were flawless, I'd accomplished four or five different projects and still have time to read a book about spirituality or self-development at the end of the day.

That just doesn't work. Even when I finished most of what I planned to do, I was exhausted. The things I loved felt like chores, items on the checklist of life rather than something that could genuinely benefit me and be enjoyable. And the stuff that wasn't so great? I'd punish myself over it - until I learned that not only was this biologically supposed to be difficult, but learning it was a process.

So I set a few things to do each day. I broke it down and made it simple for myself. I slowly chipped away, and I kept moving forward. No punishment, no judgement. If I had an unproductive day, I'd look at what happened, and I told myself I'd do better tomorrow. 

And when I got the website made, the class finished, the story written, I'd be able to look at it and say: "I did that."

Congratulations to everyone else who completed the Ultimate Blog Challenge, and to anyone worrying about what they haven't accomplished: nothing is impossible. The only way you could ever lose your way is to stop moving completely.

The card for this week is the Ace of Wands, and again it's reversed, showing a lot of blocked energy in terms of focus, drive, and creativity. The things that are blocked in our lives are often the things we most need to unblock and learn. To me, that's why one of the interpretations of Tarot reversals is to pay special attention to the card and bring it into focus in your life.

The deck this week is the Forest Folklore Tarot, a deck by illustrator Kessia Beverley-Smith that draws inspiration from the New Forest in England. All the Wand cards in this deck have the same blonde, dainty fairies as shown in this first card -- which is interesting to me, because I'd have taken that kind of coloring for an Air fairy, and I've seen horses used to represent Earth. Associations are often so subjective, which can sometimes make them hard to navigate when you're using them to perform magick, or even to inspire you personally. But they can also lead to some really cool outside-the-box thinking.

Because I look at that image and I see a very powerful, spirited, free animal standing as a backdrop over the very beginning of the Wands cycle, a small light of inspiration and spirit that will soon grow and increase. I'm going to be starting a group read of The Fire Starter Sessions soon, and I'm really excited to see what changes it creates in my life and my business. I do have dreams and visions for my life, visions I want to create - but it's so easy to get our way blocked by the fear and the overwhelming choices. We don't know how to just keep moving forward in a continued exercise in growth.

But the beauty of the Ace is that it'll soon expand into two, three, four wands crafting the foundations of active and inspired life. The trick is to keep that spark ignited, to keep moving forward and not be crushed by the overwhelm of it all. I had something told to me in a dream once, that I've kept with me forever since: 

"Don't worry about where you are right now. Just keep going."

There are a lot of eye-rolling cliches about how talking to yourself is a sign of some kind of instability, the first sign that you're "losing it." It means you're fragmented, freaking out, unable to "keep it together."

Personally, I think it's a great idea. And I keep on learning new ways to do it.

You know the old jokes in cartoons, when you get a look at a character's brain? There are all these little mini-selves running around, like highly specific Smurfs. 'Anger' sets his head on fire at the slightest insult. 'Love' is scattering flowers. 'Fear' is cowering in a corner, trembling at every little noise. 

Of course, it's never that easy to pick specific things out. Emotions are complicated, wrapping themselves in layers and sometimes carrying two completely contradictory feelings at once. It can seem like a huge, frightening task to even sort through all your feelings, let alone pick them out and give them a face.

But maybe that's exactly what we need to do sometimes. Take a look at the complicated thought that's been hanging on to you for a while, keeping you blocked or sad or overwhelmed. Start picturing it as a person. What does it look like, and how does it dress? What's its body language? Does it have a name? Draw it, if you're artistic.

Set aside ten or fifteen minutes where you can sit quietly, undisturbed. Then turn in towards that feeling and have a conversation with it. Introduce yourself to it, and ask what it's doing there. Learn who it is, and make friends with it. Find out what it needs. See if you can transform it, and find some positive work for it to do. 

Any kind of communication with yourself is just one more form of meditation. And the more we sort through and get to know ourselves, the more we're able to transform ourselves into stronger, happier people.

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