Category Archives: Inner Space

The Magical Journey of Clutter-Clearing

Honestly, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. But my intuition assured me it was time and that the effort would be well worth it.

I had borrowed Marie Kondo’s little book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, from the library while we were in the process of clearing out my parents’ house at the beginning of the year. I read bits and pieces of it, but life was busy, so I put it aside.

After we closed on my parents’ house, I landed back at my own house where I hadn’t been spending much time, and when I opened my eyes, I didn’t like what I saw or how I felt in that space. It felt cluttered and chaotic, and so did I every time I stepped through the door. It was hard to focus or have a clear sense of direction when I was home. I had the feeling that my real life was buried somewhere beneath all the clutter, and I was determined to excavate it. So I picked up the book again and declared February to be my month of Divine Decluttering.

On February 1st under my mentor’s guidance, I created a bagua (feng shui) map and realized the space that was most chaotic in the house corresponded to the area of my life that was in greatest disarray. Incredible! So that’s where I started, beginning (as Kondo suggested) with my clothes. I collected every article of clothing I owned and made a massive heap on the living room floor. It felt overwhelming, but I knew I had to do it. I held every single piece of clothing in my hand, one at a time, and asked my guiding questions:

Does it spark joy?

Is it uplifting or draining?

Does it support an old, outworn self-concept or the current way I envision myself and the life I am creating?

And that’s what I have done with every single object in my house, including utensils, papers, CDs, personal care items, spices, plastic containers, photos, cards, letters, and absolutely everything else. No fork or pen was left untouched! At this point, I only have two more rooms to go before the whole house is decluttered. However, I could feel a positive energy shift immediately, on day one.

Decluttering the house was a gift I decided to give myself in honor of my 50th birthday. My intention was to have the house completely decluttered by my March 1st birthday. But by the time my birthday rolled around, I realized I’d need another month to complete the process because I’m diving in so deeply and allowing emotions to arise, tears to be released, and revelations to be recorded as I let go of what has outlived its usefulness in my life.

Something powerful happens when you hold an object in your hands and connect with its energy. Clearing clutter has uncovered deeply hidden emotional clutter, relationship clutter, mind clutter, and so much more. With each room I clear, I feel more aligned with my higher Self and my vision of who I am, the life I want to live, how I want to feel, and who I want to spend my time with. It feels so amazing to be surrounded by objects that support that newly awakened vision. This is the journey of a lifetime that ranks right up there with becoming a mother. It is a soulful process that has transformed the home I felt ashamed of into a sanctuary brimming with vibrant, inspiring, peaceful energy.

It is the most incredible feeling to look around, and everything my eyes rest on is there because I want it there. Everything is intentional. Along with letting go of personal possessions, I am releasing outdated concepts of who I was in the past that no longer fit with who I am now and who I envision myself becoming. There is “art and heart” all around me now, which is who I am! My home has become an authentic expression of my true self, simply as a result of mindfully clearing away the clutter!

How does clutter-clearing create such profound inner shifts? Here are some examples and highlights of how it has worked for me.

Clothes

First, I decluttered my coats and washed ones that I didn’t want to put back dirty. I got rid of some of my mom’s coats that might have worked for her but didn’t work for me. I thanked them for serving her and for making her happy and comfortable. Then I put them in a large, plastic bag that I brought to the collection bin for a secondhand store run by a local church. Same for a fleece sweater my mom gave me that never really worked for me. As I put the sweater in the donation bag, in my heart I thanked her for always wanting me to be warm in the winter. I need not hold on to things a deceased loved one gave me, as a souvenir of his or her love. For example, some of the gloves my mom gave me are quite worn now, and it is okay to let them go. She wouldn’t have wanted me to wear worn-out gloves, and because of how she loved me and gave me the gift of warmth, I can now do the same for others…and for myself. 

I discovered right off the bat that deep decluttering is a process of taking a good, honest, conscious look at everything in my life and determining what I really want going forward and what needs to be released with love and gratitude. Now I don’t have to weed through closets and drawers to find what I want to wear because everything that doesn’t feel good or bring me joy is gone. And I have my clothes folded neatly in drawers (using Kondo’s method that I learned from YouTube videos) so everything is visible. I also discovered some treasures buried beneath all the rubble! 

Kitchen

I didn’t plan to work on the kitchen next, but one thing led to another, and before I knew it, the contents of all the kitchen drawers was in a huge pile on the kitchen table. Clearing the kitchen felt overwhelming at times because there was so much to go through, and I knew it would take about a week of hard work. When moments of overwhelm threatened to bring me to a standstill, I imagined how great it would feel to have the kitchen clutter-cleared and then had the energy to keep going!

During my kitchen clutter-clearing, no utensil was left unexamined. I held each fork in my hand to ask if it sparks joy, and some were discarded immediately. There’s one with a rose design on the handle that I don’t find beautiful, nor do I necessarily love the shape of it compared to other forks. Yet holding it in my hands brought tears to my eyes – tears for the family that no longer exists and all the meals we shared together. Even though it doesn’t spark joy, and aesthetically I don’t find it particularly pleasing, I decided I need to hold on to this fork for now.  It seems to want to stay with me.

Since both my parents and my last remaining grandparent all died within the past six years, I have inherited a lot of household items, including two sets of electric beaters – one from my grandmother and one from my mom. Which one to keep and which one to let go of? When I held my grandmother’s beaters in my hand, I felt her spirit very strongly. It made me happy. She loved to bake and cook, and it reminded me of family get-togethers at her house. My mom’s electric beaters might be in better shape or possibly better quality (though I can’t say for certain), but when I held them in my hands, aside from knowing they belonged to my mother, I didn’t feel anything. So I decided to keep my grandmother’s beaters. I feel my mother’s spirit come through other objects much more strongly.

Clutter-clearing is an opportunity to ask many probing questions, such as when I decluttered the cabinet where all the plastic containers were stored haphazardly. After getting rid of anything without a lid and reducing my collection by about 50%, I posted an “after” picture on Facebook. A friend commented that she stores almost everything in mason jars, and that got me thinking…

I use mason jars for food storage, too, to some degree. But I never made the connection between getting rid of plastic containers and using more mason jars because they are stored in completely different parts of the kitchen. So why am I holding on to so much plastic, when I don’t even like plastic? Is it because I can use those containers when I make food for other people? How often do I do that? Is that something I want to do? If so, why am I not doing it more? How can I do more of it if it’s important to me? So it’s a matter of looking at what I hold on to and why and asking questions about why I’m not living in accordance with the vision I have for things in my house. Then it’s a matter of either getting rid of the vision and the stuff or making some adjustments to the way I live my life.

Books, Binders, and Papers

Although I dreaded it, it wasn’t so difficult after all to get rid of my teaching materials. Actually, it was a joy! A master’s degree should not be a life sentence if the work no longer calls to you. I held on to some arts and crafts ideas for young children because I want to do them with my granddaughter. And I ended up keeping my mindfulness and social-emotional activities because that’s where my heart still is. If I ever were to do any kind of teaching or work with children in the future, it would be around mindfulness, social-emotional learning, and/or art. That became very clear to me as I clutter-cleared papers and books.

I also got rid of papers that served as reminders of difficult times. I choose not to carry them around with me anymore. It feels so good to be free of them!

Stairs

No area is left out, however small or seemingly insignificant – like the stairs, for instance. I have a wall gallery of family portraits going up the stairs that hadn’t been touched in years and was collecting dust. I decided to only display photos that spark joy. I love my daughter, and yet there is a certain time of her life that was so very difficult, and it showed in her eyes. I didn’t want to see her in that way anymore, and I can only imagine how it must have been for her to visit and see pictures from that time of life on display. So I took down the ones from that era and framed a stunning portrait of her when she was very ripe with child and filled with excitement and hope. And putting up the first framed portrait of my granddaughter was a big deal in itself. Now the wall gallery on the stairs has come alive with new vibrance. In addition, I took a good look at the potted plants on the stairs, which had become more or less invisible to me, and repotted most of them so that they are more vibrant and alive now, too.

Bathroom

The one and only bathroom in the house is the room that has undergone the most dramatic transformation of all. The bathroom has issues, and we reached a point of throwing in the towel, presumably when my mom became ill. The composition of our well water combined with the materials the bathroom fixtures and appliances were made of required much effort to keep the bathroom clean. The bathroom was an embarrassment that prevented us from inviting company over. When visitors would come, we dreaded them asking to use the bathroom. It was that bad.

It was when I was scrubbing the toilet and bathroom floor that I acknowledged how out of whack my life had become and vowed to never, ever, EVER let it happen again. It took repeated treatments of some nasty, heavy-duty chemicals that I wouldn’t otherwise use to make things right again. I experienced myself shifting into a more empowered state of being and atoning for the ways in which I have gone astray after my mom died. As I scrubbed away the mineral buildup, grime, cobwebs, and dust, I acknowledged that there are things that have become normalized in my life that never should have been, and the toilet was a perfect metaphor. I vowed that I will never live like that again. Since I have experienced how bad it can get, from now on I will be more mindful and proactive – in the bathroom and in my life!

AND YET…

Even though I have gone passively to places I never want to go again, I realize the importance of accepting that I went there, rather than passing judgment and dragging around shame. My biggest takeaway from the spiritual retreat I went on last month is that in order to truly be in a relationship with another person, you have to see him clearly for who he really is and accept him completely. Many people are in relationship with their partner’s potential rather than the actual person, and when you are able to see through your illusions and desires to change someone, you finally can start being in relationship with the person. Once you see clearly who he is, you are empowered to make wise, healthy choices about the relationship.

It’s the same with your relationship with yourself. If you are relating to your potential, you might not accept yourself (or even allow yourself to see yourself) as you are and get stuck in self-judgment and believing you need to change rather than understand what’s really going on. When you keep your shadow material unconscious, you’re not free to embrace and be nourished by your wholeness, which allows for greater insight and understanding. If instead you can take a good, honest look at yourself and accept everything you find (a sense of humor helps here!), you are empowered to make wise, healthy choices about living your life in greater harmony with your higher Self. The truth really does set you free, and what I’m talking about here is the difference between being self-righteous and being self-aware and loving.

Heck, I could have written an entire essay on clearing and cleaning my bathroom.

I realized early in the process that focusing on elaborate room makeovers and applying feng shui remedies distracted me from clutter-clearing and slowed down my momentum. Nonetheless, the bathroom needed more TLC before I could move on. I put up a new, more subdued shower curtain, removed the stained glass paint from the window (which felt even more like penance than scrubbing the mineral deposits from the toilet) and replaced it with mini blinds, added some plants, replaced rusted shower shelves with something much more aesthetically pleasing, took down the mildewed over-the-door organizer that housed personal care products (after decluttering its contents down to about one-third) and replaced it with over-the-door towel hooks, put a two-foot tall shoji folding screen around two stacked wood crates used for storage, put up an attractive accent mirror, added an aromatherapy diffuser and candles for relaxing baths, and asked the landlord to install a new medicine cabinet to replace the rusted eyesore we had grown accustomed to.

Though the bathroom in this circa 1840 rental house still has significant issues and limitations, it was like I had waved a magic wand at it! I made the most of it, and now it, too, sings with fresh, new energy! Hallelujah! We can have company over again! This will delight my son when he’s home from college.

Cards and Letters

Kondo advised decluttering in a certain order because some things are harder to part with than others, and you need to strengthen your letting-go muscles. Personal mementos such as cards and letters fall into that more advanced category.

The happiest discovery: A birthday card  from my dad with a very simple, loving message that sums up our relationship. We might not have understood each other or had much in common, but the bottom line is that we loved each other, nonetheless. (And the gift is that loving someone who was so different from me makes me less likely to pass judgment on others whose beliefs are in such opposition to how I view the world. It humanizes the “other,” for after all, even though my dad and I didn’t see eye to eye about the world, he truly was a sweetheart who didn’t harm a soul. But I digress…) 

Decluttering cards and letters helped me to clarify and appreciate relationships. My grandmother would carefully select cards, and her cards and messages, along with my parents’, mean a lot to me now that they’re gone. Going through cards and letters also inspired me to take time to acknowledge others – their milestones or simply to say hi and let them know they matter – by sending cards. It’s something I want to get back into the habit of because it’s special to receive a handwritten card. I sent out two cards of appreciation this week to important women in my life, to reactivate those relationships. It was a joy to put them in the mailbox!

The most amazing, woo-woo find: A birthday card from my parents that brought me to tears. The inside read, “Always remember what a wonderful person you are and how very much we love you.” For some reason, that message touched me deeply. It was exactly what I longed to hear from them. A little later, I was looking through more cards and came across the exact same card that they gave me another year. It felt like the universe or my parents underscoring that message. The next morning, I found a third copy of the same card! I am the oldest of three children, and perhaps my mom bought three copies of the same card with the intention of giving one to each of us. However, I ended up with three of them! It felt like a message they really wanted me to receive, and finding three copies of the same card after they passed away was no small thing.

Photos

I thought it would only take a few hours to clear one small closet, but instead it took a few days to go through the boxes of photos, cards, and letters stored in it. As with utensils, I left no photo untouched! Clearing photos made me conscious of how I want to redefine myself. I don’t need to accept anyone else’s definition or perception of who I am. I am completely free to sculpt my own definition of myself. For example, I can discard any pictures that don’t represent me as I want to be represented. Goodbye to anything that is embarrassing or shameful or just not the me I want to be.

When I looked through pictures of me throughout my life – many that I received from my parents – I wished I could go back in time and tell my younger self to lighten up and not be so serious and perfectionistic. I reflected on where that came from and generated compassion for myself and anyone else who might have contributed to my attitudes towards life and myself. That’s the kind of healing that can take place when you clutter-clear in silence, without any distractions, as Kondo recommends. You face yourself head-on and can set yourself free.

I’m especially interested in keeping pictures that express someone’s spirit and pictures that support family stories that we recount with joy and humor, whether it’s about a particular event or time of life. For example, I kept pictures of my children (who were voracious readers) reading at the breakfast table. And some pictures might not be as much about the people in them as the spaces we inhabited. I’m holding on to some pictures because they show the interior of my grandmother’s house, my childhood homes, or other homes I lived in, to remind me of long-forgotten details that contribute to the feeling of the spaces.

Another note about photos: In the process of clutter-clearing, you can photograph objects instead of keeping them and create an album of memories that takes up much less space than it would to continue storing the items. I anticipate doing a lot of this when I clutter-clear the rented self-storage unit that houses many of my parents’ possessions that I didn’t have time to go through before closing on the house.

Putting It All Together

Clutter-clearing has set in motion the most amazing transformation I’ve ever experienced. It is so empowering! I guess sometimes things have to become a literal mess before you become motivated to turn them around. I expect to have the entire house clutter-cleared by the end of the month. But there’s so much more!  After I finish decluttering the house, I intend to turn my attention to decluttering: my car, the rented self-storage unit, the garage, my computer, my phone, and my online photography portfolio. I have it all mapped out on my 2017 wall planner. This is my year of massive decluttering. And it’s not just stuff. It’s everything. I’m going to the core of the clutter and eliminating it once and for all.

Being mindful now keeps me in this new energy field and prevents me from reverting to the old, cluttered, chaotic life. I don’t ever want to go back to that! So I mindfully fold each piece of clothing with appreciation rather than toss it mindlessly in a drawer or pile. After a month and a half, my clothes are still folded beautifully, and the kitchen cabinet housing the plastic containers remains orderly. Once my house is entirely decluttered, I will just have to keep on top of the routine cleaning.

Here are some other insights and realizations I’ve had during my clutter-clearing journey:

  • I discovered treasures I didn’t even realize I had or had forgotten about because so much other stuff got in the way.
  • I realized it’s draining to look for something I like/want by having to sort through all the other stuff.
  • I acknowledged that I am in a different phase of life now where things that once felt right to me no longer do. (And that’s okay!)
  • Even if I never wore a particular article of clothing or pair of earrings, I need not regret spending the money because it supported a vision of who I once wanted to be – and therefore served a purpose. 
  • I’ve become conscious of everything I’ve been holding on to and why – and have let go of so much after asking questions I’d never asked myself before. This is profoundly healing and enLIGHTENing!
  • I realized I’ve let some things slide that really bothered me. And when you allow that to happen for years, it creates a big mess and lots of resentment. So the clutter-clearing process has awakened me to the necessity of standing up for what is important to me and not just letting it go and just “dealing” with it. The outer, physical world is a reflection of our inner world and relationships.
  • I find that I am attending to matters immediately rather than putting them aside to deal with later, like mending clothes that need a patch or button and dealing with items on my to-do list more promptly. Just get it done! Don’t put things off because that only contributes to clutter (including head clutter). Take care of it promptly or just get rid of it.
  • Even if I made it, I don’t need to keep it!
  • I discarded so many nature photographs that I once thought were pretty good. It allowed me to see how my photography has improved over the years.
  • I got rid of a number of large objects that were in the way and literally collecting dust and serving no purpose, that had become more or less invisible to me. The elephants in the room all of a sudden became visible!

If you haven’t yet experienced the magic of clutter-clearing and are intrigued, I highly recommend Marie Kondo’s book. She promotes a quick, all-out, down and dirty approach to clutter-clearing because:

When you tidy your space completely, you transform the scenery. The change is so profound that you feel as if you are living in a totally different world. This deeply affects your mind and inspires a strong aversion to reverting to your previously cluttered state. The key is to make the change so sudden that you experience a complete change of heart. The same impact can never be achieved if the process is gradual.

An intense and committed pace has worked wonders for me, for the very reasons she stated above. I had reached a point at which things had become unacceptable and had to change. I had momentum from clearing out my parents’ house, so I already was in that get-it-done-quickly mindset. On the other hand, my mentor, Denise Linn, invites us to experience clutter-clearing as a pilgrimage rather than a sprint. She is less concerned with efficiency and speed than on making it a deeply soulful and regenerative process. And I have to admit that I’ve let other areas of life slide temporarily so I can declutter my home so intensely. I have not been active in my online photography and business development classes or publishing blog posts, which are also very important to me. But in order to be more focused and productive in my home, I needed to clear the clutter in a big way and make it a priority.

However, I am really just beginning the clutter-clearing process. There is much work yet to be done and so much to learn, and I can’t even imagine what it is going to feel like by the end of the year, though I expect it will feel like the positive shift of a lifetime!

If you’re not doing so already, I invite you to follow me on Facebook and Instagram!


The photographs in this blog (except for those attributed to other owners) and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2017. SHARING IS CARING, and I appreciate my work being shared with others! Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (River-Bliss.com). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. In other words, I put my heart and soul into my writing and photography and want to be credited for it and have some traffic sent my way. It’s the high vibration thing to do!  🙂 

Fifty by Fifty

Hello, dear ones! It’s been a while.

The last time I published a blog post was after I finished clearing out my parents’ house nearly two months ago, in preparation for closing on the house. After that, I took a little breather and then embarked on a mission to clear my house of clutter, for life had become chaotic in recent years, and even more so with my dad’s health crises last summer, his death from Legionnaires’ Disease in October, having to attend to estate matters, and the quick sale of his house (my childhood home). Caring for my own house had gone by the wayside, and when I finally landed back home after the house transaction was completed in January and opened my eyes, so to speak, I felt like Rip Van Winkle waking from a long, enchanted sleep.

My life had changed dramatically in the 8 1/2 years since we moved into this small 1840s house on the Hudson when my youngest child was entering fifth grade, and particularly in the last few years. Now my son is in college, and my daughter has a daughter of her own, which of course makes me a grandmother.

My grandmother and parents passed away, a close relative came out as transgender, family dynamics shifted considerably, I resigned from my teaching career, and I was approaching my 50th birthday and menopause. So much water had flowed under the bridge in front of my house (literally and figuratively), and the point is that my house had become quite cluttered and overgrown with possessions from previous chapters that were no longer relevant. This had a strong, adverse effect on the energy inside the house, which felt confused and in disarray.

When I stopped and really took a good look around, I realized things needed to change. It was time to regain control of my life and home so they would better reflect the current vision I hold for my life, and I declared February to be a month of deep, divine decluttering. I envisioned a clutter-cleared home as a birthday gift to myself that would feel amazing. I’m about halfway done at this point and intend to write more about the remarkable process soon. But anyway, that’s how I’ve been spending my spare time over the past month and a half and is why you haven’t heard from me!

Yesterday I turned 50, and it was the best birthday ever! I had given a lot of consideration to how I wanted to celebrate this milestone birthday and planned activities that spanned a week and a half, including:

  • An astrological reading with someone I’d been wanting to have a reading with for years
  • Creating a “spirit lantern” the evening before my birthday, which coincided with the new moon and Losar, the Tibetan New Year (I sell this kind of custom-made lantern in my Etsy shop)

  • My first adult birthday party in nearly 30 years.

In addition, I had a dream about an old friend and housemate from my 20s that prompted me to get in touch with him after more than 25 years. I stopped by the old homestead on my way home from the retreat center, and the visit resulted in a hefty dose of post-retreat, birthday week magic that left me inspired and uplifted in so many ways. Experiencing the wildly creative and aesthetically and energetically incredible heaven on earth he had created both indoors and outdoors over the past 30 years was powerful beyond words. That visit was a sweet surprise that helped me to recover some parts of myself that I had forgotten about. It left me determined to infuse my life with more joy and play.

In another stroke of birthday magic, yesterday I received from Artful Ashes a beautiful, glass heart memorial that was made with some of my parents’ ashes (the white swirls). It arrived on my birthday, of all days!

One of my retreat goals was to compose a letter to my one-year-old granddaughter, for her to open and read later in life. In the process of doing that, I ended up creating a list of 50 things I’ve learned as a result of my 50 years on the planet – wisdom I want to pass on to my children and grandchildren. I finished the list on my birthday and offer it with love and sincerity as  my birthday gift to you. I’m sure your list would be very different, based on your own personality, experiences, and “issues”, but here’s what I came up with, based on mine…

  1. Your most important relationship is the one you have with yourself (your Self). It is the basis for all other relationships. The health of all other relationships depends on the quality of your relationship with yourself and the extent to which you accept all parts of yourself. Your relationships with others are ultimately reflections of your relationship with yourself, and the way you relate to others is a reflection of how you relate to yourself. If you tend to see the worst in people, inflate their flaws, and find them deficient, perhaps you need to work on your own, inner critic and loving yourself. Until you have a healthy, loving relationship with yourself, it will not be possible to have a healthy, loving relationship with anyone else.
  2. Stop compromising on what you really want and then blaming it on not wanting to disappoint, hurt, or inconvenience someone else – because those who truly care about you would want you to be happy, and it’s not fair to put that kind of burden on anyone or to give away your power to make decisions about your life. You don’t need to ask anyone for permission to do what you know is right for yourself. Claim responsibility for your life, and do it!
  3. When you experience rejection, don’t turn it into a story about your self worth and convince yourself that you’re not good enough and should give up what you are trying to accomplish. Resilience is every bit as important as talent, skill, and capability. Trust that you will find the right opportunity at the right time and that any door that did not open for you simply wasn’t right for you. You have no idea what the powers-that-be were looking for. It might be something very specific, such as a particular style or chemistry. Don’t ever let what you perceive as “failure” define you. More likely, it is about whether or not someone or something is truly a fit for you. It is a blessing not to be bound to a person or situation with whom your energy, values, etc. are incompatible. Believe that something even better is in store for you!
  4. If you really want something, don’t give up! You hold a key to a door that will only open for you. All you need to do is find it. Even if everything seemed to go wrong today, tomorrow might be the day when the universe aligns, and you will find yourself drawn to the right place at the right time, interacting with the right people.
  5. No person, situation, achievement, or anything outside of yourself will provide abiding fulfillment, happiness, or peace of mind. This includes finding your soulmate, having a nice house, well paying job, or successful career, being able to go on exotic vacations, etc. Such states of minds can only be generated from within. Any satisfaction that is dependent on external factors is only fleeting.
  6. Relationships and love endure beyond physical death. There are so many ways our loved ones reach out to us! We just need to pay attention.
  7. People really don’t care so much about what you do or don’t do. They’re busy with their own lives! You are only the magnified center of your own universe, not anyone else’s, and this is good news because it takes off a lot of pressure! Worrying about what others think about you is perhaps the greatest impediment to living the life you were made for and fulfilling your unique potential.
  8. It is empowering to take responsibility for your role in situations and relationships! Thinking of yourself as a victim, blaming another person for wronging you, and holding him responsible for your happiness and peace of mind is disempowering. Accepting your responsibility and claiming your power sets you free and feels great. So does forgiveness! Holding a grudge is like ingesting poison. and forgiveness is the antidote. 
  9. The people who seem most confident and sure of themselves are often the least so. Don’t be fooled by appearances.
  10. You don’t need to save the world. Start with saving yourself by doing your inner work and evolving, and then the benefits from that will ripple into your world. Begin within.
  11. Our parents and grandparents are human and therefore imperfect. They are learning just like we are, and chances are they never intended to hurt us. We need to forgive them for the mistakes they made, just as we will want our own children to forgive us for the mistakes we inevitably make. We are not here to be perfect, and we cannot hold anyone’s imperfection against them.
  12. It is impossible to please everybody, no matter how talented, successful, or enlightened you are. Don’t even try.
  13. When people criticize you, take what is useful, and let go of the rest. So much of what others say – including their opinions of you – is more about them than about you.
  14. Do what you love. And if you love it, don’t give it up for anyone, for that is far too great a sacrifice. Don’t give up on your own talents and passions in order to be more appealing to someone who doesn’t value them. Be faithful to what lights you up and ignites your creative passion. Instead of trying to make yourself more attractive to a certain person, put your energy into pursuing your dreams. Then you will be more attractive to people who are more compatible with your vision of who you want to be, and that is who you really want to attract, even if you don’t realize it. Doing what you love is one of the most attractive qualities of all.
  15. Don’t listen to the voices that insist you won’t succeed at a certain endeavor. If it really calls to you, you owe it to yourself to pursue it or risk spending the rest of your life regretting that you didn’t and wondering what might have happened if you hadn’t listened to the naysayers.
  16. Trust and follow your intuition. It is your internal, navigation system that keeps you aligned with your True Self and saves you a lot of pain and suffering.
  17. Strive for authenticity, not perfection. The greatest perfection you can achieve is to be more fully yourself.
  18. When you feel inclined to walk away from someone or something, be really honest with yourself about whether you are truly done and complete with it or whether you are deferring to fear, avoidance, or the hopeful delusion that the grass is greener elsewhere.
  19. Make decisions based on love, not fear. Never allow fear to be in the driver’s seat!
  20. Cultivating gratitude can transform your life. It is a powerful practice.
  21. You can’t change another person. You can inspire someone to change or support him in his effort to change. But if somebody does not want to change, there is nothing you can do to change him. And you need to be okay with that and let go of your need to “save” him (and consider what motivation is behind that need). Focusing on helping others can be an excuse for not doing your own inner work. Believing someone needs to change is arrogant and belittles him. When you can see through your illusions about who you want someone to be, to the reality of who he is, you can choose between accepting him as is or releasing him with love because who he is doesn’t fit with the vision you have for your life. Both options are much healthier than being in a relationship with someone’s potential rather than the actual person.
  22. Don’t beat yourself up for not doing better or accomplishing more. Instead, consider your desire to improve yourself as movement in a positive direction.
  23. Every now and then, it is useful to consider what has outlived its usefulness in your life and to let go of those things (including relationships), to make room for something new and wonderful to come in.
  24. You are enough as you are, right now. Don’t let anyone (including yourself) convince you otherwise. You are worthy of love simply because you exist. 
  25. I used to think there was one, true vocational path I was created for, and I needed to find it or my life would be a waste. But there are so many different ways to shine your light in this world. So many possibilities! You can do it in whatever job or situation you find yourself in. And if you find yourself unable to bring your light to your job, then you need to seriously consider releasing yourself from it or changing the way you relate to it – because you were made to shine!
  26. It is never too late to engage with a creative passion or learn something new. You don’t have to disrupt your whole life and accumulate a lot of debt by going back to school. You need not make it your career. You can find a way to do it on some scale, whether through volunteering or learning on your own, just like my mom took up guitar in her 70s and was able to reconcile her lifelong love of music with her unfulfilled dream of being a nurse, by playing guitar for hospital patients as a volunteer.
  27. When you are considering what vocation to pursue, be honest with yourself about what is most important to you. For example, if living comfortably and having the finer things in life is most important to you, you might want to think twice about pursuing a career in a low-paying or risky field (like social work or the arts). If creativity is most important to you, then you must find the courage to live a creative life rather than stick with what feels “safe”. Have the courage to specialize if there’s something you’re really passionate about, rather than take the generalist, “safe” route that covers all bases. There is always a way to do what you feel called to do, even if you don’t make a career of it. And sometimes not making a career of it or demanding that it pay your bills allows you to enjoy it more.
  28. There is guidance all around us. All we need to do is ask for it and be open and receptive to it. Synchronicity is one of my favorite forms of guidance! 
  29. If you’re feeling down or off, focus on the basics. Are you getting enough rest? Movement? Good nutrition? If not, start there.
  30. You weren’t supposed to know back then what you know now. It doesn’t work that way. So give yourself a break, and be grateful you know it now, without second-guessing what your life might have been like if you had learned it earlier.
  31. Nobody’s life is perfect, no matter how it appears on the surface. Everybody has issues. Other people’s issues might be very different from yours, but they certainly have them! So don’t spend any time hiding behind a wall of shame erected by your perceived faults. So many people have parts of themselves or their lives that feel too shameful to admit to anyone. Things they never imagined they’d experience and that even cause them to question their goodness and worth. But telling the truth to a trusted person often reveals that you are not alone (you never are) in what you are feeling and experiencing. Sharing like that can release you from the shackles of shame. I have experienced so many things I never imagined I would – things I would have judged others for had I not “been there, done that” myself. As a result of all my experiences, I have developed greater compassion for others and am someone people can be open and honest with, without being judged. Everything we experience offers us a gift or opportunity, if we hold it right.
  32. Don’t pass judgment on what you don’t understand. If you truly understand someone, you can’t help but find something to love about her. Everyone has reasons for his/her behavior. But that doesn’t mean you need to take on someone’s problems.
  33. Our obstacles, challenges, handicaps, etc. are in our lives for a reason and have gifts to offer us. They serve a purpose and are perhaps our greatest teachers. This includes difficult people.
  34. The things that are most important are not things.
  35. You can be grateful for the blessings in your own yard and also seek to experience new horizons. Find something to appreciate and enjoy wherever you are. Don’t make your happiness dependent on being somewhere else. You won’t be happy there, either, unless you carry happiness inside you.
  36. Do not guilt yourself into living in poverty because other people in the world have so little. With greater abundance, you can do more good in the world. You don’t have to choose between being “spiritual” and being prosperous. You can be both. It is more about the attachment you have to money and material things and whether you attach your self-worth and happiness to your possessions or bank account balance.
  37. Jealousy is perhaps the most misguided and unproductive emotion of all. 
  38. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. You have your own, unique talents and style. Other people can inspire you, but believe in yourself, and shine your light without worrying how you measure up to anyone else. The world needs you to shine your light. Don’t keep it inside!
  39. Since we and our loved ones are not guaranteed tomorrow, don’t leave any kind or loving words left unsaid. Don’t hold them in or put them off. Let your heart speak when it has something to say, for tomorrow might be too late.
  40. Don’t take yourself or life too seriously! Never underestimate the value of a good sense of humor and the willingness to look like a fool every now and then.
  41. The company you keep matters. Surround yourself with healthy people who believe in you and encourage you to be the best you can be. Stay away from critical, cold-hearted people and those who stomp out your light.
  42. You are so much stronger than you think.
  43. It’s often easier to forgive and have compassion for others than it is to forgive and have compassion for yourself. This is where we your work lies, and it is important and worthwhile work. “Love your neighbor as yourself” works both ways! Don’t deny yourself the gift of forgiveness and compassion.
  44. A pretty/handsome face is but a crumb compared to the banquet of a kind and loving heart.
  45. Sometimes the Universe provides you with an alignment of factors that creates the perfect storm for you to challenge yourself and grow.
  46. There is a big difference between your inherent worth and your sense of self-worth. What you accomplish and how you are treated by others are reflections of your sense of self worth. They do not reflect your true worth. Love yourself enough to teach people how you deserve to be treated.
  47. If you find yourself in a situation or relationship that feels wrong, there is always a way out. If you can’t come up with any options, ask for guidance. Even pray for guidance! Pay attention to what appears, and have enough faith to take the escape chute the universe sends your way. It is a great relief to free yourself from something that feels wrong.
  48. You are a more powerful co-creator of your life than you can imagine, and your imagination is the key to it! “Mind over matter” is for real. Have fun experimenting with manifesting what is in alignment with your true Self. Be very clear about what you want, and imagine how it will feel to have your wishes fulfilled, as if it is a present reality. You could begin with manifesting small things like parking spaces and work your way to bigger things. Creating a vision board can help!
  49. Your true Self cannot be defiled by anything of this world. It is indestructible.
  50. This, too, shall pass.

And with that, this very tired birthday girl is heading to bed, hoping to write very soon about the magical journey of clutter-clearing!


If you’re not doing so already, I invite you to follow me on Facebook and Instagram!


The photographs in this blog (except for those attributed to other owners) and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2017. SHARING IS CARING, and I appreciate my work being shared with others! Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (River-Bliss.com). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. In other words, I put my heart and soul into my writing and photography and want to be credited for it and have some traffic sent my way. It’s the high vibration thing to do!  🙂 

Every Morning

I woke up this morning feeling more peaceful than usual, with some words going through my head: The sun still rises every morning, no matter what is going on in your life or in the world. It rises whether the sky is clear or covered with a blanket of clouds. It still rises at the darkest time of year and on days that carry an emotionally charged significance. The sun still rises every morning, no matter what is going on. Attune to that as you discern what to do about everything else.

The words kept spinning in my mind like horses on a merry-go-round, and I watched them go around and around again until it finally occurred to me that there might be a reason why they came to me at that moment, like a morning alarm, with such persistence. So I opened my eyes and looked out my bedroom window, and sure enough: The sunrise looked more compelling than I had seen it in quite some time, although I was catching the tail end of what I knew had been deep, fuchsia clouds becoming lighter by the moment. Had I opened my eyes the first time the words spun through my head, the colors would have been much more dazzling.

It feels great to wake up on the river again every morning, after spending so much time away tending to my parents’ house. But I return home with greater clarity and a better idea of what I ultimately want and am considering moving this year due to changing circumstances and certainly not because of the view. I have become accustomed to a fabulous sunrise view of the river and love being able to store the kayaks on the dock and simply walk across the street to paddle during the warmer months. I would miss that view and the easy kayak access so much.

Then I remembered that, for a few years, I wasn’t even able to enjoy kayaking on the river because of the massive General Electric PCB dredging project that one year took place literally right in front of our house. Other years, it happened so close that the constant boat traffic made it unsafe to venture onto the water.

It was anguishing to live on the river and not be able to do the thing that made it so worthwhile to be here in the first place – the activity I looked forward to during the cold months. Kayaking was the way I released my energy after a rough day at work and how I restored my peace of mind. I called it “paddling for peace.” Many summer evenings, I’d float close to our dock, taking in the sunset sky canvas and wishing I could bottle the feeling and share it with everyone. That’s why I started this blog four and a half years ago.

The dredging years were long ones, but now they are in the past. We got through them. Now we can kayak again and enjoy the peace of this quiet stretch of the Hudson, without any dredging traffic barreling past us, only the occasional pleasure boat.

I remember the day we went kayaking on the river and paddled around the bend only to discover a fleet of dredging equipment anchored there. So that was the source of the increased boat traffic! The feeling that, “This is really happening, and right in our own neighborhood!” was sad, infuriating, surreal. It felt like an army had invaded, and there was no escaping it. 

It wasn’t the only time there was tension and danger around the Hudson River that flows by my house. My next-door neighbors still have the remnants of a Revolutionary War field hospital on their property. This is where the Battles of Saratoga took place, the Turning Point of the Revolutionary War. And predating that, there were conflicts between Native American inhabitants and French, Dutch, and English settlers. Some quiet evenings, I would go paddling after sunset and think about how dangerous it would be to navigate the river alone throughout history, and yet, there I was. I could almost feel the spirits of former inhabitants and soldiers around me. Even though the dredging project was a big deal, the river has known worse. Despite all the struggles and strife it has been witness to, it still flows.

The year when the dredging project was scheduled to take place right in front of our house, we considered finding alternate housing because we were concerned about safety issues such as airborne PCBs. So I did lots of research and had informal, off-the-record conversations with scientists who did not have a personal or professional bias or vested interest in perpetuating any kind of propaganda. I monitored the data recorded online daily and contacted the media when I noticed airborne PCB levels were elevated for a number of days in a row. I also found a more inviting body of water for kayaking, where there was a kayak available to me. I made the best of a challenging situation.

Aside from having limited or no access to kayaking on the river, the greatest challenge during the dredging years was discerning fact from fiction between the two opposing camps. Simply stated, pro-dredging environmental groups asserted that removing as much of the PCBs as possible from the river was integral to the long-term health of the river ecosystem, whereas local, anti-dredging groups countered that the PCBs had sunk deep down below the river and that wildlife was returning to the river because the river was taking care of itself naturally. The anti-dredging camp believed the PCBs were less of a problem if you just let them be and that dredging would stir them up again and create a “toxic soup” that would set the health of the river ecosystem back decades. So one side was saying to leave it alone – let the PCBs stay way down below the river – and the other insisted they must be removed and that G.E. must be held accountable for its actions and make it right. Yes, dredging would be a massive, messy, disruptive undertaking, and the PCB levels in the water would increase for a while, but conditions would improve over time, and the river would be much healthier. The conversation was about maintaining status quo vs. literally stirring up a huge, toxic mess.

Not a scientist myself, I listened to the arguments coming from both sides. Once, I sat quietly on the riverside, asked the river what it wanted, and listened deeply. It seemed the river preferred to have the toxins removed. My personal preference was to be able to continue enjoying the river – my little paradise – but ultimately I wanted whatever was best in the long run, for the greater good. If dredging would produce widespread, long-term benefits, then it was worth some personal sacrifice and temporary disruption. Believe me, there was nothing fun or beautiful about dredging up suspected carcinogens that had been put into the river decades ago. It was disturbing to watch the sloppy process up close, and we had front row seats for a time.

Meanwhile, I watched great blue herons gulp down fish that were swimming in PCB infested water, only to migrate in the fall and bring traces of PCBs with them, contaminating other parts of the earth. It is impossible to separate a river from the rest of the world. It flows to the ocean, which covers the whole planet, and has a whole ecosystem of its own that attracts wildlife that comes and goes. It’s also part of the water cycle that involves vapors rising in one place and falling in another. 

You see where I’m going, right? This isn’t “really” about PCB dredging any more than the movie, Field of Dreams, is “really” about baseball. Though the dredging metaphor may not be perfect, I have been getting that feeling again.

Whether the massive, ambitious, and expensive Hudson River PCB dredging project will be viewed in the long-term as a success, a catastrophe, or something in between has yet to be seen. All I know is that we got through the dredging. It didn’t last forever, even though it felt like it would at the time. And from experiencing it, I learned there are times when we must defer our personal interests and preferences to pave the way for more widespread, long-term benefits and perceive the process from a far greater perspective…or we will make ourselves crazy. We must have patience. To do this is a radical act of faith that hopefully is neither ignorant nor complacent. Sometimes short-term disruptions produce long-term benefits and greater awareness because they motivate us to do our research and inspire us to take action. To come together and be more involved. To speak up and communicate from the depths of our hearts. To look out for one another. Sometimes situations that seem dire and threatening serve to raise our personal and collective consciousness and show us what we are really capable of.

Although the dredging years were challenging and sometimes scary (especially when PCB levels seemed to spike), we finally made it through to the other side.

And we will do it again, one sunrise at a time.


If you’re not doing so already, I invite you to follow me on Facebook and Instagram!


The photographs in this blog (except for those attributed to other owners) and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2017. SHARING IS CARING, and I appreciate my work being shared with others! Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (River-Bliss.com). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. In other words, I put my heart and soul into my writing and photography and want to be credited for it and have some traffic sent my way. It’s the high vibration thing to do!  🙂