Posts filed under Organization

You are what you do. #habits

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

Hmm? So what is Aristotle talking about? Let’s go there, habits are the small actions you take and the decision you make every day.  Research by Duke University scientists suggests that habits account for about 40% of what we do on any given day.  I think the other 60% is driven by the MTA.  But seriously, your Dharma and/or your current life is essentially the sum of your habits.  In other words, your health or your malady is a result of your habits; your joy or fear is a result of your habits; your alignment with your Dharma or sense of failure is a result of your habits.


What you are repeatedly thinking about and doing each day creates the persona that you display to the world, your beliefs and who you are.  Everything I teach starts with better habits: my yoga teachings through abhyasa (repeated practice over a long period of time to obtain spiritual connectivity), my organization coaching through performing repetitive tasks to obtain productivity and my yoga health coaching through daily aligned routines.  All habits.  When you learn why you are doing what you are doing, you can learn to transform your habits and you can transform your life.

Best Habits Reads

  • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg – After seeing it on every subway rider under the age of 30, I gave in.  Totally worth it!!!
  • Any Article by James Clear – my habit go to guru – he does all the research and his science base approach is nerdy galore.

To explore more and playfully engage into your personal prophesy, you can come or call in to the next DHARMA SESSIONSa free workshop about clarity and practicality!   You’ll explore technologies like Yoga, Ayurveda, Professional Organization, A Course in Miracles and Yoga Health Coaching to design the lifestyle that will help you thrive in your career, creative endeavors and relationships.  

Posted on April 27, 2018 and filed under wellness, Yoga, Organization.

Sally, there is never a good time for your wellness evolution!

Procrastination Pic.png

Many times we know we want to spring into action and yet we’re stopped by our own inability to act.  Take for example my student and friend, let’s call her "Sally."  Just the other day, Sally was telling me how she knows she needs to make some changes in her life to evolve into the better woman she knows she can be for herself and for others.

I love you, Sally.  

Sally tells me that she even knows what strategies to put in place to become who she wants to be:  She’s gonna do a detox to give her body the space it needs, she's gonna start her days with yoga because she knows yoga works!, she's gonna start talking more with her live-in boyfriend to smooth out all of their communication kinks, and she's gonna revamp her career (or if necessary look for a new job).  Sally got plans and goals, that much is clear.  But then she tells me she's waiting for her life to settle.  You see, Sally has a lot going on, she got some family situation which may affect her traveling schedule in the near future, she has a new boss at work and you know how that goes, she is experiencing a stomach thing that she hasn’t figured out quite yet, and the boyfriend communication thing, you know, makes things at home a bit tense right now.  

Oh, Sally, my heart is heavy for you, because that's a lot, I've been there and I hear you, you're waiting for the right time.  The time when the yogic detox will go smoothly, because who want to do a half-ass detox? You’re waiting for genuine motivation to do your yoga first thing in the morning, because one needs to show up authentically to the mat, right? You’re waiting for the right words to say to the boyfriend, because presentation is everything when it comes to we-have-to-talk moments, isn’t that what your therapist says?  You’re waiting to get clear on what you want from a career because your Dharma deserves an auspicious space, because isn’t that how Dharma works?

Well, this is what I told Sally. There’s never a good time for your wellness evolution.  “Shift” is always hitting the fan, specially when you’re ready to implement your perfect evolutionary plans.  You either sit in peace while the “shift” drips down your walls, making your life feel like a total hot mess or you begin to thoroughly, imperfectly execute your perfect strategy.  

This is what I know to be true, the Universe will meet you right where you’re at, so where do you want the Universe to meet you at?  

If like Sally, you know you need a yogic cleanse to get you started, please join the community Reboot + Reset I'm leading at Abhaya Yoga- DUMBO, get a full description of the reboot and register HERE.   Let your potential emerge this Fall, if you have been waiting for the right cleanse for you, this is it. 

Posted on September 8, 2017 and filed under inspiration, Organization, wellness.

Spring Clean Your Concept of Time or how to dismiss your time scarcity problems

Listen to this post instead - it's quick and more fun...

I don’t have five seconds to spare!

Is this what it’s come down to? I have to ask myself as I read a study suggesting that we, internet dwellers, tend to abandon downloading a file if it’s taking more than five seconds.  Five seconds! Quack, I remember having to walk 15 minutes to my aunt C’s home to consult her Encyclopedia Britannica just to finish my homework.  OK this makes me old, but it also tells me that if these days I don’t have five seconds to spare, there is something wrong with the way I’m living my life.

Why do we feel rushed? Why are we so busy? We got services and technologies to help us expedite almost anything from laundry to cooking.  Our technology is so advanced that we can almost instantly share documents, videos and pictures with anyone around the world.

So here is a truth, it isn’t about having less time, but how we perceive and use time.  

This quote from Albert Einstein illustrates the issue “an hour sitting with a pretty girl on a park bench passes like a minute, but a minute sitting on a hot stove seems like an hour.”

Perception is everything.

We’ve been taught that time is money, a fair equation considering that most of us get paid by the hour.  However in doing so we’ve also brought all our money issues and make them time issues.  How we use it, waste it, save it these are the thoughts that pollute our enjoyment of time.

Life is long if we know how to use it.  

If we’re constantly thinking about the scarcity of time, well, we’ll have a hard time finding time. So here is another truth, time isn’t money, it’s nothing more than the space between events.

This is my proposal for Spring cleaning, let’s invest time in those things that make us feel good.  Let’s dust off all those I-don’t-have-time excuses, we got time. Let’s pack away multitasking, we know that when we do one thing at a time, it gets done way faster and we have way more fun.  And let’s clean up our expectations of what we can get done in a day.

We’re going to look for abundance and we’re going to find her.  

As for the rest of the Spring Cleaning, we have a long life to get to it or as De Gracia wrote in 1965 “Lean back under a tree, put your arms behind your head,  smile and remember that the beginnings and ends of man’s every great enterprise are untidy.”

A Veggie Keeper worth Keeping

So you've decided to start planning your meals and prepping your food ahead of time. Yay!  You're pump, you head to your local market and, of course, get tons of veggies, you're in it to win it!  

Then after a few days your enthusiasm gets beaten down by spoiled berries and  wilted spinach leaves.  Part of engineering the lifestyle that you deserve, is planning for those moments that may set you back.  In the scenario above, as part of prepping your food, doing a little research on how to keep vegetables fresh, specially the green leafy ones,  longer may be the key to keep you on track to a healthy eating path.

In terms of making  your fresh vegetables last longer and help your pocket, Progressive International's Prepworks Fresh Fruit & Veggie Keeper is hands down the best thing I've added to my prep routine in the last decade.  I attest that this container not only extend the life of produce, but because unlike the crowded produce drawer or opaque containers, these clear vessels display your produce in a way that makes it even more enticing! And yes, these are BPA-free.  It is especially useful for highly perishable produce, including dark leafy greens, lettuces, and fresh herbs, berries, and grapes. I’ve also used them for sprouts.  Did I mention that it also serves as a colander and it comes with a divider?  It is like kitchen sorcery, I tell you.  

No excuses go and get your greens!



Get Siri to work! or Save Time in Setting Timers/Alarms

I don’t know about you, but once I open my iPhone to perform the simplest of tasks, I fall into a virtual world from where there is no escape.  A world where time stops and I can’t tell you how much time has elapsed from when I entered my passcode and when find myself looking at a picture of my favorite florist in Madrid on Instagram WHEN all I wanted to do was check on the weather. If you think that your phone or tablet is eating away your precious time, we are turning that around today.

Helping my client set up her “virtual home companion,” ALEXA; I was reading all the uses in the kitchen that such device could assist with (i.e., setting timers so you don’t burn your food)- which lead me to realize that my own iPhone has a “mobile assistant:” the legendary, Siri.  Well, Siri may have been resting on her laurels all these years, but no longer, no Ma’m.  I put her to work almost a year ago, and she is tireless and her help is invaluable to me these days.  One of the best uses I would like to share as a Lifestyle Engineer is how to use Siri to set alarms and timers which we know allow you to become more efficient and effective in your daily life. Siri ties right into the iOS Clock app on your iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPad 4, iPad mini, and iPod touch 5 -and your desktop too, now that I think about it- which means if you want to go to bed at 10 pm or be woken up at 6 am, have a timer set for 10 minutes so the cookies don't burn, or find out what the hour is in Paris before you call, Siri can keep you alerted and on time. 

[If you don’t have an Apple product, you could use the same technology with your equivalent mobile assistant]

Here is the basic instructions:

How to set a timer with Siri

Whether you're waiting for your veggies to bake, meditating or your next set of circuit training to begin, Siri can make sure you always alerted at exactly the right time.

  1. Press and hold down the Home button to activate Siri.

  2. Tell Siri to set the timer, and for how long. For example: "Set a timer for 10 minutes".

  3. The Timer widget will remain visible on your screen until the timer goes off, or you leave Siri. Tap the timer widget to launch the Clock app and access the manual controls.

Note: Siri can only run one timer at a time. If you try to set another, Siri will ask you if you want to keep the current one or change to the new one. (Amazon’s ALEXA doesn’t have this issue, you hear that, Siri?)

How to set an alarm with Siri

Siri can set alarms quickly and easily.

  1. Press and hold down the Home button to activate Siri.

  2. Tell Siri to set an alarm, along with the time. For example: "Set an alarm for 8pm", "Set an alarm for 5 minutes from now", "wake me up at 9am".

Siri will display the alarm widget on the screen. If you change your mind about the alarm, you can simply toggle it to "off". You can also tap the widget to be taken to the Clock app.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, go forth and YouTube away the infinite ways you can be assisted by your "mobile assistant."  Get pampered by technology, I encourage you!

The Miracle of Committing to a Specific Action

In our noisy world we are constantly bombarded by infinite ways to be distracted.  We're are asked to stay connected all the time and to make room for introspection. We're asked to be fit and to carve time to restore and relax.  We are asked to be mindful and to multitask.  And that is just my inbox today. No wonder it's very easy to live in a constant state of confusion.  

It doesn't have to be that way.

Instagram @eduardolifegram

Instagram @eduardolifegram

As I savor my green smoothie this morning, I'm thinking of the power of committing yourself to a single actionable goal.  You see, a few years ago I was having a hard time eating breakfast consistently and now for over a year, I have eaten a nutritious breakfast every single day.  As I type I can feel the nourishing Prana (life force) of my green smoothie hitting my veins and I'm reminded of an important life lesson that is often ignored:  if you commit to an action rather than thinking about a desire, you actually get to experience your intention.

The mistake we all make.

As soon as I began my yoga journey, I learned about setting intentions.  Simplified, your intentions are the energetic starting points for your goals.  If you come to my yoga class, as I learned it from my yoga teachers, I'll ask you at the beginning to center yourself and then set an intention.  The intention usually reveals itself naturally and in a simple form: "I will breath fully," "I will be strong," or "I will feel peace."  Whether in a yoga class or not, intentions are the seeds for our desired outcomes.

For example from my intention to "feeling nourished," I arrived to my goal of "eating breakfast."   I really wanted to honor my intention so I would think about "feeling nourished" every day.  Thinking about my intention did bring me to eat breakfast, sometimes.  I figured my spirit would guide my consciousness and it would unveil how breakfast would happen.  This resulted in zero progress and lots of self-disappointment.  Finally, I changed my strategy, I committed to plan my breakfasts for a week ahead of time.  I made the commitment by braking down my goal into small actions.  I studied options that would work for me.  I started focusing on the daily tasks that would make me eat breakfast till things aligned with my intention.

My mistake was that I assumed that because I wanted to eat breakfast to honor my intention, I would end up getting a desirable result.  That wanting to do something was enough.

How often do you do this in your own life?

We often think about our intentions without committing to goals . And if we have goals, we think about them without breaking them into specific actions.  The bottom line is that without an action we won't experience our intention.  We want to "be of service" without committing our time and talents to helping others.  We want to "feel strong" without considering what part of our body we want to focus on and what exercises we'll be doing.  We wish to be "more creative," but we never work or finish a particular project.   In other words, we don't commit to a specific goal: a goal with tasks and a time frame.

Specific Actions Lead to Direction

All those intentions we set for ourselves will point us to important, but broad questions "what should I do with my life?" or "will I learn what love is?" or "how is God guiding me right now?"  Very important questions in our spiritual quest but non of these questions will clarify our next step.

When you commit to action driven goals, these are easy to break into tasks and then the steps are clearer to follow. You want to eat a nutritive breakfast tomorrow morning?  Next step:  what will constitute a nutritive breakfast?  So you found out what you want to eat? Next step:  do you have the ingredients at home or do you need to stop at the market?  OK, you got the ingredients? Next Step: how long will take you to prepare breakfast? At what time do you need to wake up? etc., etc.

Your intentions are important as a way to honor your deeper self, but if you only concentrate in your vague desires vs. specific goals, you'll end up confused and frustrated.  

Once you begin to commit to specific actions that work towards your goals, these will inform you of your next step and then the next, etc.  

So often, we avoid formulating a specific goal out of fear that we aren't sure if this goal will align with our intentions. We somehow forget that we can always change our mind later on.

This is perhaps the miracle about committing to a specific goal: if you concentrate in the actions to achieve your goals and not the goal itself, then you’ll begin to thrive and achieve something greater than you ever imagined.

Commit to something and begin it now.

Once you fully decide to start, to paraphrase Pablo Coelho, the universe will find ways to help you finish.

How to get a cat IN the bag in the first place

In my space organizer capacity I have been asked to pack away lots of items.  From dozens of wheel-chair cushions to an extensive collection of virtual art files, I have stored it all.  So when I was asked to help with packing an unruly cat in his carrier, I was stopped right on my organized tracks.  I decided to approach the project with the same open mind I approach all organizational conundrum: first, find out the objective/intention, then learn about the subject and finally the most important step, to follow through with efficient actions that get the job done.  So here is my case study on how to place an unwilling cat in a carrier.

The objective:  Kitty owner is moving, cat must be transported in a carrier to a far away land.  The kitty in question doesn’t like being in a carrier and in the past has made a big fuzz about it.  There is no time to train the cat.

Subject:  these days you can learn about anything from YouTube or Google search.  However the Internet is never my first resource, the first thing I always do is to reach out to the experts in my life.  I don’t know much about cats, except that they are independent and fun (btw, good characteristics for Happy Hour friends), so I reach out to my cat loving friends to get a consensus.  Professional help is always good, Veterinarian & yes, finally consulting the Internet can be good way to further find alternatives. 

Action:  There are ways or techniques to train or recondition a cat to feel comfortable getting into a cat carrier, but that takes time and we are on a time line, so below I am listing the fast learning technique I am calling “the-top-drop-of-the-burrito-cat.” I admit it’s a terrible name but it works.  In less than thirty seconds your cat will be in the cat carrier if you follow these steps:

1-    If you have time,  a day or two before you have to put cat into the carrier (and while your cat is distracted by something) get carrier in the space where you will be packing your kitty.  I am using the word packing because I pack things with love.  Some people suggest bathroom but if you live in NYC your bathroom may be too small to hold two living organisms at the same time.  Make sure you have the right size carrier, do some research on this if you need to.  If you forget to get carrier out before hand,  then bring it out at the last possible moment.  Apparently cats don’t like changes, so you either give them time to adjust to changes in their environment or you use the element of surprise.  The less stress out the cat is the less stress out you will be.  Position the carrier so that the carrier’s door is facing the ceiling, this will let you take advantage of gravity (Apana vayu, my yogis, Apana Vayu).

2-    Locate a lightweight bath towel that is big enough to wrap around your cat and contain all his legs/paws/claws, but not so big that wrapped around your cat you can’t get him through the carrier door.  Either leave towel out around the cat days before or don't bring it out till the very last minute.  Read above, either give your cat time to adjust to the towel or keep it a total surprise.

3-    At the last minute, get the cat into the room with you and the upward facing carrier. Depending on your cat, you may be able to pick him up and carry him in, or lure him in with food or a toy.  Quickly close the door/s.  By now he knows something is up, so let him be for a moment.  YOU take a deep breath.

4-    Gently but with strength & confidence wrap the cat like a burrito in the towel with only his head sticking out.  The towel is over the cat’s shoulders so his front paws are inside the burrito.  You may not get this right the first time! You need to wrap and hold the towel securely enough so the cat doesn’t escape, but please don’t suffocate Mr. Cat.

5- Now lower the burrito cat into the carrier, and swiftly shut the door.  Basically let his butt drop down into the carrier.  Cat will land on his feet and he will unwrap himself, don’t do anything else other than bringing the carrier to its horizontal position.  Cat is good to go.

Resources: Monica Longsdorf (the cat whisperer), Julie Dohrman (legendary yoga teacher & burrito cat expert) and a strange source, Joanie Coles (catering empress & unquenchable researcher of all things, including animals)

Eliminate Surfaces and conquer clutter

As true as gravity will keep your ass from floating in space, so will empty flat surfaces accumulate clutter in your home or office.  That is because clear surfaces provide unstructured, hook-free, often-vertically-unlimited storage. If you don’t believe me, go ahead make a clear surface–table, desk, counter-top, or even inside a drawer–and see how long it takes for it to get cluttered up with all varieties of stuff: unopened mail, brochures, dog leashes, pencil sharpeners, etc.   Our brains seem to be telling us "don’t know where to put this crap, stack it on that table, sure you'll get to it soon."

Here is another truth that will help you deal with this issue, clear surfaces tend to be magnets for stuff we don’t need, use or even want. These clear surfaces are especially useful for holding stuff we don’t want to deal with. Why do you think that “to table” something means to postpone the issue?

If you are looking to de-clutter and simplify your home, try removing a surface or two–one less end table, even one less dresser.  If this is too much for your cluttered mind, create limits on the surfaces you have by adding a small tray or small basket to collect your precious I-don't-want-to-deal-with-this stuff (hint...smaller the tray, the smaller the clutter).  Without easy places to deposit and pile stuff, we often find ourselves compelled to deal with it (or toss it on the floor, I guess, but tripping on it will force you to deal with it).

Are Vacations good for your soul?

Time off allows you to regain control of your mental and spiritual health while building relationships with family and friends.  As I am preparing for a weekend yocation with the fabulous Julie Dohrman in the Catskills region, I decided to do some research on the benefits of vacationing. 

Much has been written about the deadly effects of burnout, workplace stress, absenteeism, and even “presenteeism” or showing up for work but being so listless or sick as to be in effect present and absent at the same time. Cardiovascular disease and hypertension are aggravated by workplace stress. 

Indeed, vacations are more important than ever, as they allow you to regain control of your physical, mental and spiritual health, not to mention cement relationships with your family and friends. “Vacations have the potential to break into the stress cycle,” writes Susan Krauss Whitbourne, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, in Psychology Today

Not all vacations, however, are equally effective when it comes to inducing rest, relaxation, and refreshment. Here, Krauss Whitbourne provides her top very practical tips for a vacation that accomplishes all three:

1. Plan ahead. Do your online research and make sure you know what's available in your vacation destination and come up with an itinerary. Planning ahead will also minimize family stress.

2. Know your destination's rules and regulations. If abroad, know your country's safety rules and regulations. 

3. Don't feel bad because you're going on vacation. The point of a vacation is to rid yourself of as much guilt as possible. But if it really bothers you that, say, you can afford a holiday but a friend or colleague can't, you can elect to donate some of your travel budget to a charitable cause.

4. Head off email anxiety. If you are one of those people who hate coming home to hundreds or thousands of emails, allot yourself a small portion of each day to stopping at an internet café or having a peek at your laptop. 

5. Make your vacation a true adventure.  Research shows that an active vacation involving new challenges is the most beneficial. New activities will build new synapses and give you memorable, bonding experiences with your fellow vacationers. 

6. Pack smart. That means being prepared for sick, getting a sunburn, and losing your glasses. Leave enough extra room in your case for souvenirs, and buy them. 

Whether you are traveling far or planning a“stay-cation,” these tips will help you get the most rest and rejuvenation out of your holiday.

Posted on June 16, 2014 and filed under inspiration, Organization, Spirituality, wellness.

Looking for Recipes That Use Food You Already Have?

After all the holiday cooking, I usually end up with a variety of left  over ingredients that don't necessarily go together in my staple of recipes.  When it's time to use these rainbow of ingredients I typically mix them all together to create what my dear friend Joanna calls "Army Food."  However if you are looking for new recipes to use either left over ingredients or your old staples ones, I found a new app called Su Chef.

The app works by creating filters for recipes based on various ingredients; you can put in navy beans as your main ingredient, for example. Su Chef has other filters like type of cuisine, cook-time, which meal, dietary preferences, etc. LifeHacker says it’s like an “advanced search” for recipes.

I imagine Su Chef won't find recipes for all your needs, but what it will likely do is give new ways to creatively configure your staple ingredients, or show you how to make an all new standard dishes with the addition of an ingredient or two. And Su Chef will surely provide some clever uses for your Holiday leftovers. Get Su Chef for $2 on iTunes

via Lifehacker

Posted on December 27, 2013 and filed under cooking, inspiration, Organization, Recycle.

The perfect gift is in your intention

Looking for last-minute holiday gifts can be stressful when we add all the last-minute activities that we try to squeeze out of the end of the year. When in a stressful situation I always ask the intention, and we can all agree that the objective of a holiday gift is to offer to the people we love and like something that will enrich their lives–things they will appreciate, use and enjoy.  If you are purchasing gifts, unless you have been told what the gift receiver wants, chances are you won’t know how the gift is received and/or if the gift will fulfill its intention.

So what do we do? How do we strengthen social bonds without forking over a ton of money? How do we avoid putting our loved ones in positions where they feel like they must pretend to like something in order to maintain a relationship? Here are a few ideas:

  • Give experiences. People are far more likely to be satisfied with an experience than an object. Treat them to a play, take them out to dinner or cook dinner for them, go to a yoga class with them…whatever. Keep the focus on doing and experiencing, not having and accumulating. If you need ideas, I love a website I found this season, it's called Unstuff and it offers great ideas for stuff-free gift giving.

  • Give a gift certificate or money. It might lack the romance, but these gifts are sure to get used. I usually add a note to the card telling the receiver anecdotes or of gifts ideas I thought they may enjoy.

  • Give thoughtfully. Gift giving is an art. It often takes time, consideration and some knowledge of the gift receiver’s life. If we don’t have those things, we might want to give something with more universal appeal. If we do have those things, choose something carefully…and feel free to throw in a gift receipt and make sure you tell them that they can return. Remember its not your gift once given.

Posted on December 23, 2013 and filed under buy, Organization, Spirituality.

Organizing your accessories en Español

A few weeks ago Nadia Torres from Telemundo NY - Channel 47 News stopped at The Container Store, where I help people stay organized, and asked me some fun question about how to keep your summer accessories organized. You can watch the TV segment in the above video.  Even if you don't speak Spanish you can get that if you keep items visible and accessible you are on the right track.

Most of the accessories we discussed were women's, but guys have stuff too! With father' day's extra ties and belts around,  I thought it would be worth to spell out some of the tips I shared with Nadia about keeping men's accessories off the floor and organized.


Ties & Belts

Ensure the investment made in neckties and belts is properly protected by keeping them organized (and off the floor). Choose a solution that allows you to organize them to hang full length for a quick grab each morning.

 Cedar 4-Hook Belt Keeper                           Huggable Tie & Belt Hangers


o      Huggable Tie & Belt hooks

o      Cedar 4-Hook Belt Keeper



They’re not just for taking out to the ballgame. Ballcaps have become a staple accessory for casual days, workouts and weekends — and there’s always “just the right hat” depending on your mood. It’s important to keep your favorite hats easily accessible, the shape protected and free from dust. Find a small unused vertical space in your closet or even on the back of your door to store and organize your entire ballcap collection.

                       PerfectCurve® CapRack™ 9



o      Perfect Curve Cap Rack

Find out who you are by eliminating clutter - Office

One of my sweet students sent me an article from the Boston Globe titled Free yourself by letting go of the clutter in your home, office, and finances, the article is about balancing your finances and it points to a book written by Gail Blanke- “Throw Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life." I am sure the book explains why "fifty" is the magic number, but I haven't read the book.  I do love the idea to start with a random number.  Engineering school taught me to analyze numbers and patterns, but it  also taught me  to trust numbers that don't quite make sense because at the end of the day you are looking for results (my Catholic upbringing just reinforced this methodology).   I've counseled hundreds of folks in how to organize a space and the most difficult part of the process is editing one's belongings.  I know it is very difficult, I struggle myself with parting from items I've attached myself out of nostalgia or out of fear.  So this is an experiment on how to free oneself of material things that aren't serving one's life anymore and I know for a fact that the process can become a metaphor to embrace the present and face one's fears.

As an unscientific experiment,I will throw out fifty items. Yes, I will become the subject of this experiment as I downsize my already pocket-size belongings in hope that the process will help you cope with the editing process of simplifying your life into a richer and healthier one.  If it doesn't do that, at least I hope it brings a smile to your day.

I am going to start with my Office Space.

So where do I  start?  I need to get rid of 50 things, so I guess as any good editor I am gonna look at every item in my office and ask  how is this item contributing to my work?

I think the key here is the active verb, contributing as supposed to contributed.  Many times I hold on to the stories in my head of how wonderful a book was, how nice a workshop was , and how one day I will use that stationary again.   Embracing who I am today means honoring those items that helped me move forward.  I need to trust that I don't need "the story" that the item evokes and let it  go from that place of confidence where I am.

- 28  Books:  this was a tough one since these books were not just books I read, these are books that moved me.   I love stories and if I find a good story like in the many novels I've collected through my adulthood I feel that parting with the book will not let me hold on to the story.  This isn't true, these stories will be with me as long as I can recall the connection I had with them.  Public libraries and electronic books are my friend, if I decided to reconnect with any of my favorite books, I know where to find them.  20 books were donated to the Dobbs Ferry Library.  I also have carried with me textbooks since graduating from college.  I sold most of them right after graduations but I kept  a handful after school thinking that I may need them, I never did, but they represented hundreds of dollars and the fear of being wasteful made me hold on to them.  Truth is that no only I never use these books and no one can use them neither.   I can't sell them or donate them, no one wants them.  So holding onto hundred of dollars that can't serve me or anyone else IS wasteful.  8 Textbooks were tossed (yes, no alternative, I even consulted with theater  prop shops).

- 1 Box of envelops,  these 81/2 " x 11" white3 envelops have been with me since college too.  I used them to send resumes to potential employees.  I don't send mass mailing anymore and PDF electronic files is the standard.  Recycled them.

- 1 Day Runner Day Planner; I have been using my iCalendar for two years now, very successfully.  The repeat/end by date function is a huge help and the fact that I can syncronize with my mobile devise is awesome.  Why do I keep this day planner? I spend a lot of time and money creating my personalized day planner, but it is not useful anymore.  Recycled.

- 2 Decks of playing cards.  Last time I used playing cards I was in Vegas, and casinos make playing cards super available.  Tossed.

- 1 Desktop lamp which has been broken for two years.  I thought I could find a small repair shop to help me with this, but I didn't find one or made any effort.  Tossed.

- 2 boxes of postcards collected in coffee shops.  I had the great idea of forwarding these post cards to friends as I thought of them in my often thinking afternoons in coffee shops.  Texting has become then new postcards.  Recycled.

- 8 pens/markers that do not work properly.  I accumulate so many pens and markers that it becomes hard to keep track of which ones are working.  60 seconds of testing, but I know I can pick up a writing devise with total confidence of success.

- 4 File Folders.  These folders contained finished projects with relevant information, which could come handy for me or my clients.   I scanned all the documents, store the electronic copy my DropBox account and shred paper files.  I  have feared that the information will be stolen or lost in the cloud network, but it could have been  stolen and lost in my house or through all the e-mails I have sent.  I surrender to is indeed a good thing.

- 5 Yoga  DVD.  These were some of my first yoga teachers.  RodneyShiva were there to help me build my yoga practice, they are still in my practice, but I haven't use these DVD's in years.  I can honor their teaching by just donating these to the library.

- 1 Mouse pad.  I haven't use it in three years...bye bye, my friend.

Who am I?  I am space.  I am efficient. I am open to new experiences.   The whole experiment was very difficult to start, but once you start the process, it is relatively simple.  A great side-effect: You will find your mind more open and more willing to let go of thoughts that are not serving you.

Drop me a line if you find this helpful.

Saucha for Your Home Office

Saucha is one of  the observances of  Patanjali's eightfold path of Yoga.   Saucha can be translated roughly as cleanliness; and there are many amazing interpretations and explanations on how utilizing Saucha will align us with our Yoga path.   A way in which I apply Saucha is through awareness of my surroundings (i.e., how are my surroundings honoring my experience of life?).  In a yoga setting, a simple way to apply Saucha may be placing back the props in the yoga studio so that the next students can enjoy their yoga practice as well- little by little you can see how practical Saucha can be.   But this concept, just as yoga itself, doesn't stop when one steps away from the mat.  In this post I am trying to utilize Saucha to help you deal with paper management at home.

As I work with clients, a common issue that most of them face  is  document management.  I can't stress enough that you best friend when working on  paper management is a sleek and dependable shredder !   However when it comes to dealing with the IRS we must still keep some document handy.  Below are some guidelines which I hope can help you decide what to keep and what to throw away.   For more information speak with a financial expert or your accountant.

To make it easy, I divided the paper load in three categories:

1- Documents you don't dispose- long term storage box or filing cabinet are the best for these documents.  Keep these safe and protected.

  • Annual tax returns
  • Year-end summaries from financial service companies
  • Stock and bond certificates
  • Deeds of property and ownership, auto titles, insurance policies
  • Home improvement records
  • Health records, wills and powers of attorney
  • Birth certificates, adoption and custody records, death certificates

2- Documents you will eventually shred. Accordion-type files, desktop file boxes work better for these.

  • Paycheck stubs; phone and utility bills for one year (or seven years if business-related);  monthly bank and credit card statements for one year; and monthly mortgage statements for one year- however if you ask to receive these bills/statements via e-mail, it will be one less thing to keep around the house.
  • Brokerage or mutual fund statements until they’ve been reconciled at year end
  • Year end statements from credit card companies for seven years
  • W-2 and 1099 forms for seven years
  • Cancelled checks and receipts for all tax-deductible expenses for seven years

3- Discard and/or shred

  • ATM, bank-deposit slips and credit card receipts after cleared on a statement
  • Non-tax deductible receipts for minor purchases
  • Old magazines and articles not read within the past three months
  • Receipts, instructions and warranties for items you no longer own (or warranties that have expired)

Keep breathing through the process and remember that just like all yoga poses, you've got to start somewhere.

Less <3 More

“What if we could save money, radically reduce our environmental impact, and have a freer, less complicated life?”  Now that is an attention-grabbing-question, isnt’ it?  This exactly is the premised behind the interior-design project LifeEdited.  In the project, Graham Hill challenged interior designers to create a space using technology and common sense to transform his NYC 420 square foot apartment into a comfortable place to live.  I mean, comfortable: home office, space for 2 guests to stay over, a sit down dinner for 12, lounge space for 8 and even a workout/steam room!! I totally recommend you look at the designs submitted- the winning designs are outstanding, and you can also see all the submitted designs.  It is a feast of multi-function and organization.  However, you don’t have to move or remodel your home to achieve this Less = More status, you can start right now and I think that  we  can all use technology and common sense to make more out of our living spaces.  Here are some life-editing steps we can all implement immediately:

Multipurpose spaces:  allowing your real estate to be multifunctional doesn’t have to involved designer or custom-built contractions (though I have seen some amazing work at my friend Lalita’s renovated apartment).  If you want to transform, for instance your living room into your personal yoga space, add casters or furniture sliders to your coffee table and sofa and listo, you have created the necessary space for your yoga mat.  Another example could be packing your laptop computer and file folders in a canvas tote when you are not using them, this can clear a lot of space of your desk or kitchen table.

Store everything digitally: this may require some effort and time, but the amount of space you will gain will be lucrative and satisfying.  First sign up to receive your bills electronically-don't ask any question, just do it.  Additionally, little by little you can download your CD and DVD to your computer.  Donate the hard copies to your local Library.  Chances are you have a bulky printer that scans, faxes and make copies; it is time you put it to use and begin to scan to your computer all those snapshots from the 90’s that you have been carrying with you for decades.  You will be surprise the amount of embarrassments you will inflict on your facebook friends.  Worried about computer memory?  You can use countless sites to store your information.

Think Accessibility vs. Ownership:  Netflix, eBooks, SoundCloud…should I continue?  You get the idea, why have excess DVDs, Books, CDs collecting dust and taking space.  The only way to allow for the divine grace of new/fresh ideas to come into your living space is to have space for it (spiritually, mentally & YES, PHYSICALLY!)

Only Keep Essential Necessities:  Constantly, ask yourself how is this item serving my vision, my values and everyday harmony?  That is a tough requirement to fulfill, but aren’t you and your home worth it?  Think about it, how could you take space from your everyday existence for something that isn’t allowing you to live a better life?  Edit, edit harshly.

Find + Abundance in your Day with these Free Services

One of the most re-occurring contemplations that occupy my mind is that of ABUNDANCE… I spent a whole summer trying to find abundance through butter; please ask me about it when you see me next. As we come to celebrate the harvest time, it could seem that we don’t have enough, and yet if we take the time to stop and become a receptacle of the always abundant power of the universe we can see how many amazing thing are always available to us.  On that spirit, I decided to share some of my favorite sites that are available to all of us that have access to the Internet. - The best free way to manage your money.

Mint brings all your financial accounts together online or on your mobile device, automatically categorizes your transactions, lets you set budgets and helps you achieve your savings goals.  This may be a scary thing to do, but it really pays off to have a personal secretary keeping track of your expenses and your INCOME! - Amazing free way to practice Anusara yoga on the go

Elsie is this fabulous Anusara yoga teacher that has been my cyber teacher for years.  I absolutely love her Free Online Yoga Classes.  She also has a very cool App available for your mobile devices.

There are over 80 audio yoga classes on the site. They range from basic yoga/beginner yoga classes to more advanced yoga practices. The length of the classes also varies. Classes can be from 45 min to 90 minutes. The average class runs about 75 minutes.

You can find those classes easily via the categories on the side bar, as they’ve been split up for greater accessibility. Each class has it’s own post, that begins with a small intro article, a link to the mp3 file, which you can download or stream directly from your computer or mobile device and the corresponding sequence of classes highlighted by pictures.

Dropbox - Best free way to store and share electronic files online

My friend Xavier introduced me to this service.  For those of us that are not willing dedicate time to technology this is the perfect "cloud computing" site.  It is the easiest way to share documents of all kind among all your computers and with other people.

Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. Dropbox was founded in 2007 by Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi, two MIT students tired of emailing files to themselves to work from more than one computer.

Today, more than 25 million people across every continent use Dropbox to always have their stuff at hand, share with family and friends, and work on team projects.

Free your T's and the rest will follow

If there were a sartorial symbol of American summer freedom it'd be the cotton T-shirt.  They are audacious, cool and comfortable.  However, these freedom-fighters can get easily lost and forgotten while piled on top of each other inside a drawer.  Any yogi could tell you stories of summoning peace and calm not to go crazy trying to find a T-shirt lost in a messy drawer.  Here is an organization tip that will allow you to have a greater visibility and accessibility to all your T-shirts (while at the same time reuse those old bookends left over from the pre-e books era) This is what you need

An L shape bookend.  It is amazing what you can organize with items you already own and are not using.

This is what you do

Fold your T-shirts (I know.  In order for this idea to work you gotta do some work).  Any classic T-shirt folding will work.  I like to fold them in thirds, lengthwise as per pictures.  Then fold them in thirds again.  Nine-fold style.  I learned this technique from a pair of twins that are over 6' tall, they should know how to make all their clothing small to fit in a drawer.

Once you have your T-shirts folded, instead of placing them onto each other, stand them next to each other and use the book end to keep them in place.  As you can see from the picture, you can now see all your T's at once and the book end will keep them from becoming a mess.

Chronicles of a Closet Cleanse

My smart, beautiful and ever pragmatic friend Jennifer Rose did what most of us are afraid of doing; she plunged into the arduous yet rewarding task of excavating, cataloging and yes, organizing her closet.  Jenifer hosts a style blog.  I recently caught up with her and we talked about the scary mission of organizing one's closet.  Please read her anecdotal accounts below, at the end you can also read the unedited Q&A session we held; I enjoyed so much exploring the very spiritual and practical ways in which organizing can elevate the status of the spaces we have, I hope you enjoy it too.

What I Did Over The Long Weekend - J. Rose Style

So my first post is about what I did this weekend.  The weekend started simply enough, I went to the library to pick up some movies and while perusing the non-fiction books section I found this, "The Shopping Diet: Spend Less to Get More", by Phillip Bloch.  Reading the bio on the back one can ascertained that Bloch is a jack of all trades, stylist, writer, commentator, the list goes on.  The book is aimed at people with shopping compulsions or addictions, the promise is that by considering what you actually wear in your wardrobe you will become more aware of what you need, what your style is and what looks good on your body, therefore less likely to make those unnecessary purchases that lead to a budget crisis.  I was intrigued. I am not a compulsive shopper, but I always felt like a terribly uninformed or unaware shopper.  Constantly buying something I like without considering what I have at home to go with it or even if it was really flattering to my figure.  As a result my closet was a mish mash, without enough solid pieces to build an outfit with and a bunch of clothes that didn't fit right.  My closet was in desperate need of editing.  Following the steps in Part Two of the book (Part One is about assessing your style, what you wear frequently, etc...) I emptied my entire closet, in season, out of season, accessories, jewelry, socks and underwear.  My bedroom looked like my closet threw up everywhere.  Ahh!! However my closet was completely empty.

Using the tips Bloch outlined, I separated my clothes into categories and then I began to edit.  Trying on everything in front of a full length mirror and deciding if it stayed in the closet, was fixed, was sold on eBay or donated.

Jennifer Closet after cleaning it outMy very well edited closet.  Not sparse, minimalist darling.

It took an entire afternoon, but the process was very cathartic and eye opening.  I don't have a lot left in my closet, but what is left are clothes and accessories I truly love and wear constantly.  The pieces that I feel are missing from my, now very well edited closet are written on a list that will go with me whenever I go shopping.  I don't feel like I need a lot of clothes, in fact the more clothes I had the more stifled I felt.  Yes, I thought that all those clothes gave me more outfit choices, but they didn't.  Having too many choices made getting dressed too complicated and overwrought.  I think that the key to style is knowing what works for you, on you, having great accessories to spice up any outfit and carrying yourself with confidence wherever you go.

Q & A - A Yogic Perspective in Organizing Your Closet

Q- So Jenifer, what motivated you to look into the closet?

A- Mornings are always crazy,the most challenging part of my mornings were when I went to get dressed, I would open the closet, see it stuffed with clothes and feel completely overwhelmed. In February, I was reading Philip Bloch's book "The Shopping Diet" and it had a statistic like women do not wear 80% of the clothing they own, instead they wear the same key pieces that are comfortable and fit.  Major aha! moment, choices in terms of my closet are bad, instead of feeling empowered by the choice of clothes, I felt overwhelmed.  I knew the closet needed to be purged and resolved to do it immediately.

Q- What was your vision or intention when you finally decided to get your closet re-organized?

A- When I started I knew I wanted to cut that "80%", the extra stuff, the fat.  I wanted my closet to be well edited to suit my current taste, only containing pieces that fit well and make me feel great when I wear them.  Every woman wants that, I just didn't realize how much I didn't need till I dug in.

Q- Did you use any organization technique in particular?  What tips or advice was most useful for your closet cleansing?

A- The first thing I did was to remove the extra hangers, this freed up a lot of space in the closet and made it easier to work.  I put the hangers in a box to the side in case I needed them.  Next I took everything out of the closet, in-season, out of season everything.  When everything is hanging up in a dark closet it's hard to evaluate, bring it into the broad light of day so you get a clear picture of what's been lurking in there.  As I was taking things out of the closet I sorted them by type, skirts, shirts, pants, etc... I made piles of like items so I could evaluate what I had, example why do I have three pairs of black pants.

I know a lot of people are probably grimacing at the prospect of this kind of deep cleansing, but you need to "make a mess" to get things in order.  Also do not, I repeat do not go out and buy things to organize the closet before you clean it out.  Clean it out first then see what you need.

Q- How did you decide what garments or accessories had to go?  What were you looking for when you looked in the mirror?  and What did you do with items that you weren't sure if they had to go?

A- In order to decide what stayed and what went I brought in a full length mirror.  I tried everything on and was brutally honest with myself about, what worked, what didn't and what was just so-so.  If you aren't able to be that honest, invite over some friends that will be.

For sorting the things to get rid of I pulled out four bags, I labeled them all, one for donations, one for things that I like but need to be fixed, another for things I thought I could sell on eBay (new or almost items) and the last one was for sentimental clothes (things I won't wear, but have a special meaning and maybe one day I will part with).  I also brought out a garbage bag for things I couldn't salvage (happy to note, that the clothes in the garbage were recycled into cleaning rags).

If there was a case where I couldn't decide I took a picture of myself wearing the item.  Usually the picture didn't lie, if it didn't flatter my figure out it went.  Clothes that don't suit your shape are like backstabbing friends, they'll tell you that you look great to your face and then turn around and reveal your flaws to the world, who needs that.

Accessories are only as good as the clothes they go with, if I had any scarves, belts and shoes, that never matched the clothes I have, I got rid of them.  It's probably because they were colors I never wear.  Also I got rid of any belts or shoes that didn't fit, they were just taking up space.

When I put everything back in the closet I knew it was only things that fit, that flattered and that matched what I owned.  I sorted the clothes by type when hanging them up (making it easy to sort through) and the color.

More isn't always better, sometimes it's just more.

Bound me up, bound me down

I'm fascinated by words that follow.    Last week I encountered the word boundary in many forms: while teaching,  while designing, during my yoga practice, while talking to my friends and ultimately listening to my teacher.  My yoga practice (Anusara) deeply involves the concept of freedom and its love relationship with boundaries.  Sometimes I feel the 1990's  film ¡Átame! is about yoga.  We are constantly asked to recognize the freedom in which we dwell, AND the best way to show that recognition is by creating boundaries that work for us.   So here is one of those examples of boundaries that I saw this week, probably not the most prevalent, but it is the easiest one for me to explain.   I decided to stop carrying every artifact I thought could help my day go smoother (it isn't very smooth when eight pounds of stuff follows you around, unless you are pregnant).   I started using the GRID-IT from COCOON.  This is a very open version of a zippered pouch.  In limiting the items that I can bring with me, I have expanded time and space, cultivating a fresh way to move with the belonging that make my day better (and knowing that I can choose what comes with me everyday, allows me to recognize my freedom everyday).  Bound away!

Posted on February 17, 2011 and filed under Anusara, design, Organization, Spirituality, Yoga.

Romance Your Yoga Mat (a.k.a. how to clean your mat)

This is a love story.  If you have practice yoga for any amount of time, by now you have develop a trusting relationship with your yoga mat.  Yes, you have blamed it for your short comings, you have step all over it, you have tried parting with it, you have even cheated on it, but your heart and practice always comes back to it.  So as any good relationship counselor will tell you, today is the best time to pamper this relationship and I suggest you start with a bath. Now lets face it, after the bliss of Savasana, picking up a spray bottle may be the last thing in your mind.  But as with any cleaning strategy, maintenance is your friend.  If you keep your feet clean and your practice isn't, lets say, a sweat fest, a quick spray and wipe once a week if you are an active practitioner (or every other week if you are a passive one) should be enough to keep your mat fairly clean and free from smell-inducing-bacterias.

I have tried various methods to clean my mat; from good 'ol soap (bad, bad, bad idea), to fancy prepackage wipes, I didn't find them very effective.  If you own an upscale yoga mat, chances are that the manufacturer has instructions for cleaning it (and you are welcome to follow those instructions), however after many trials I am telling you this works. Below I will provide you with my inexpensive, environmentally friendly recipe for a yoga cleansing solution (i.e., for the quick spray/wipe) and I am also including a deep cleaning method in case your mat need further cleaning.

Things you will need

for the yoga mat cleansing solution:

spray bottle

white vinegar (a natural bleach, disinfectant)

water (Universal solvent, ask any Alchemist!)

alcohol such as vodka (natural drying agent, ask anyone who drinks martinis)

Tea Tree Essential oil (any other antibacterial Essential Oil will work, Thieves is a great alternative for all of you Young Living lovers)

for bathing your mat:

yoga mat cleansing spray

a bath tub

two towels

drying rack (or two chairs, though you should really consider having a drying rack at home)

backing soda

scrubbing brush

This is what you do

So this is my formula for a yoga mat cleaning solution, which I have created after trying various versions.  There are products out there in the market to clean yoga mats, by all means try them out,  I am sure some are fantastic.  Whatever you use, make sure there isn't any surfactant (i.e., a fancy way of saying soap) in it or you will be sliding on your mat like an iguana on marble floors - not pretty.

To prepare the yoga mat cleansing solution mix in a spray bottle 1 part white vinegar, 2 parts water, 1 part alcohol and 1/1000 parts tea tree essential oil or Thieves essential oil.  [For example, 1 cup vinegar, 2 cups alcohol, 1 cup alcohol, ~15 drops of essential oil]  This is a very inexpensive way to create a disinfectant and cleaning agent that does not contains any type of surfactant and it is also great to clean windows/mirrors!  This solution works great, just spray it on your mat and use a cleaning cloth to wipe out the mat.  Let it dry and store away.

Now, if your mat is dirty, you may need more than a spray and wipe to get it clean.  Here is when the romantic bath comes in.  Now I have read that you can place your mats in a washer and clean it that way, but are you really going to waist a whole load in your washer to clean a single item?  You are green; wash it by hand, isn't doing things like this a side benefit of building all those muscle doing yoga?  To give your yoga mat a bath, you will need about twenty minutes for the bath portion and a space to hang to dry your mat for at least 48 hrs.  Set the drying rack onto a towel, this will save you time.  Take you mat and roll it out into your bath tub, the fitting may depend on the size of your tub and mat, so do the best you can.  Spray the yoga mat cleansing solution as described above, if the mat is really dirty, add baking soda (this may work for a date too, but that is a different post).  Fill the tub with about 1 to 2 inches of water and begin to use the good 'ol elbow grease with the scrubbing brush.  I will not show pictures of the resulting water, for the same reason I won't show pictures of ear candling;  it is disgusting.  You can repeat the spray, baking soda, water and scrubbing as many times as your mat needs it.  When you are satisfied, rinse the mat.  Here is where your muscles come in place.  You must wring out as much water as you can, this is also when having a significant other can come in handy, ask for help.  When you are exhausted, roll your mat and one of the towels together as shown in the picture.  You can step on this roll to get as much water out of the mat as possible.  You can even practice Ankle Loop - Anusara joke, sorry.   You can hang your mat on the drying rack for 48 hrs or so, make sure the mat is dry before you start using it again (remember the image of the iguana on the marble floors?)   You will feel so good and proud of your mat.  Keep cleaning it with the spray/wipe method and you probably won't need to do the bath more than once or twice a year.