If you’re living life to its hair-raising, breath-catching, heart-pounding fullest, then you know that sometimes the little things have a way of getting past you. And, if you’re not careful to stay on top of it all, you’re looking at the possibility of lost friendships, forgotten obligations and a volunteer coordinator assignment made for you in your absence. Whether you have missed a special engagement or been neglectful of the time you need for yourself or your loved ones, the New Year is the perfect time to resolve for a fuller, more meaningful existence.

Kathi Burns, Certified Professional Organizer and founder of San Diego-based AddSpace to Your Life (www.addspacetoyourlife.com) shares this thought. “People don’t often realize that every single item they bring into their homes is going to require their energy. Even something as simple as a vase must find its place in a home. Then, it must be cleaned, dusted, used and moved from time to time. Before you know it, if you’re not careful—the more obligations you acquire—the possessions begin to possess you.”

Because the New Year is traditionally a time of change and renewal, Burns suggests looking forward to a new life, one that is stress-free and rich with meaningful moments by purging your home and your heart of all the clutter. Her advice for all the scattered souls out there, looking for peace and order? “Add space to your environment. Where there is space, there is ease and clarity of thought. Without space, your mind becomes jumbled and overwhelmed by useless information that gets stuck in an endless loop,” Burns notes in her soon-to-be-released book titled Master Your Muck—Get Organized and Add Space to Your Life.

One way to do this is by ridding your life of unnecessary clutter. Baby steps are perfectly acceptable in the beginning. Pick a room a week and clear out all the mess. Arm yourself with large plastic trash bags and jam them full of all the toys, clothes and shoes that have been outgrown and outplayed. Have another bag on hand for trash. Toss in old memos, junk mail and scraps of paper that are unnecessary and adding to the jumble of chaos you’ve allowed to accumulate. Be relentless. Be brave. Toss it all and watch gleefully as freedom takes its place.


Once you have purged, you can reap the rewards of your hard-won independence by creating a room or a space where you trade the world for some soul-searching serenity. It can be a modest library filled with only the dearest of books and treasures, a sitting room that offers sunset views and not a single sound other than the chirping night crickets or a private room that serves as a sanctuary for meditation with nothing but a trickling fountain and a yoga mat to distract you.

Burns suggests using soothing color palettes in this new space. “Choose colors that are calming to you—like greens and blues. But, be careful. You don’t want to use hospital green for your bedroom, but a warm sage green (could be) the perfect color to help you relax and unwind.”

Greg and Perri Wooding of Studio Design Group Interiors (www.sdginteriors.com), an award-winning interior design and merchandising firm headquartered in Costa Mesa, agree that with the right approach, your home has potential as a power base for vitality.
“One should never underestimate the power of one’s surroundings to bring good things into your life,” shares Perri. “It is a simple concept, really. Surround yourself with only the kind of things that inspire you and before you know it, you will soon have the things you aspire to.”

And, nothing can enliven a room like a burst of color. But, according to Wooding, consider your intentions for each room before deciding on a shade. For example, you can create a serene setting with colors that are blue-based in a bedroom or study; while reddish hues tend to generate high energy feelings and emotions for more lively areas of the house.

Wherever possible, look to expand your new space with light. Not only does light inspire interest and intrigue in a room, but table and floor lamps and strategically placed candles and up-lights can create nuanced little spots in a room that are conducive to reading or quiet contemplation. Dimmer lights are especially good for meditation.


To truly free yourself, try to think of organization as more than just down-sizing and arranging your pantry—it’s about re-ordering your way of thinking so that you can see through the haze of a crazy day. Kathi offers the following example from her new book. “When you have the advantage of time and space, you can see clearly what you need to do to manifest success. To see this principal in action, move your desk a few feet from the wall. You will clearly see what you need to do that your vacuum cleaner did not. Do this in your life. Move a few things away from where they are now, whether it is in your schedule or in your closet and you will begin to see with clarity the things that you need to do to get ‘unstuck’ and express your true nature.”

By sorting out and removing obstacles—both physical and emotional—it is possible to embrace a new way of thinking that offers big rewards. “Once your blocks are removed,” says Kathi, “you will have more time, confidence, and freedom to do what you love. You will be able to step out into the full glory of your New Year and manifest your life as expressed through your joy and your passions.” And no longer be mired in the chaos that has enslaved you.

What kinds of things qualify as emotional burdens? Obligations—both professional and personal—can weigh the heart down and keep you from achieving peace. Kathi cautions that over-scheduling yourself is simply clutter disguised as an active social calendar. Or perhaps there is a relationship that has been draining your spirit. Or a tiresome, unhealthy habit. Whatever it is, remove it—carefully, tactfully—from your life and look forward to a more efficient, more organized life that allows you to focus on the things that matter. Under all that confusion, you just may find a happier, healthier YOU!

Timely Tips

As an author, organizer and image consultant, Kathi Burns has helped everyone from busy moms to high-powered corporations reprioritize their schedules for a more efficient, successful life. She offers these quick and easy tips for avoiding over-scheduling:

•    Strive to make your life less complicated by committing to only the most basic and necessary of tasks.
•    Learn to say no to a new project, no matter how tempted or obligated you feel.
•    Be ready—premeditate your answers and don’t let anyone put you on the spot.
•    Take time to think about how a new project will impact you and your loved ones—it’s okay to hold off and give an answer tomorrow.

Kerri Mabee is a novelist and accomplished writer whose work can be found in dozens of magazines and newspapers nationwide.

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