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Things feel better when they are in their place, relative to the next thing. That’s what helps define comfort. This is natural, especially relative to some other defined construct…that isn’t this.
A peaceful environment also has an appreciation for things in their comfortable place. Like, when a mouse is in the woods, we pay no mind. Or when the dirty dishes are in the dishwasher, it’s peaceful because it’s in its proper place. It’s not to say that things need to be tidy, but relative to here, it’s often better that things are there. This blog is dedicated to zones.
Planning a peaceful layout includes zones. Talk to any architect about functional design. Talk to any feng shui consultant about energy flow. Talk to your child about why the stuffed animals are positioned as such. It’s simply natural to want things in their place, especially relative to where you are standing. Do the toys bother you when they are in the play room? This simple appreciation for ‘proper space’ (not tidy space) is what helps us define a sense of easy peace. It’s something that we can’t ignore – our brains are programmed to auto file. When things validate our auto filing system (the earth is green, then the turf must be grassy), it only makes them stronger. So when we recognize a segment of our kitchen that is meant for food prep, it doesn’t feel right when someone’s homework is there. Even the most relaxed individuals have these constructs, and we say they’re there for a reason. Make the best of them, otherwise you’re defying human tendencies… and why create more work?
Consider proper zone planning – the kids room (or level), the family zone, the entertaining space. This way, when you have friends over, you’re not worried about the dysfunctional layout of your kitchen… (hopefully it is fully peaceful and functional), but it doesn’t matter because you’ve created a zone, on your patio or living room, that supports your needs. No need for extra stress here. Reach out to an architect for ideas for making your space just so.
It’s the end of winter (I hope). The house seems a lot smaller than it should. ”Antsy for spring” is an understatement. I’ve shifted the furniture in as many ways as the rooms allow and still searching for that restful feeling. Before the nervous energy turns to stress chemicals released in my body, I turn to creative outlets, particularly related to my environment. Even thinking creatively about my space helps me to feel less anxious, and chances are, this creative outlet can serve most of you, too.
Take 5 minutes. Peruse some inspiration from Pintrest (creative ideas here, or better yet, have some crazy fun and pin your own collection!) and start day dreaming on your own spatial freedom. Next, check out these blogs that help channel some of that energy into action:
The Inspired Room for good ideas on ways to create a sanctuary in your home, and
It’s Great to Be Home for taking your dreams a step further – they did it – why can’t you!?
Best advice: don’t let the winter blues get the best of you. Until you can get outside and offer your head some endless space, do what you gotta do to be creative and funnel that energy into something that can change your daily experiences!
In support of thinking and maybe even acting in a space-changing way, is AV Architects + Builders and House of Steep. If you’d like to explore ways to act ony our dream space, please contact us! Please share your thoughts with us on other ways to make good use of stir crazy energy.
All we are saying… is peace can be difficult to achieve in the normal course. Sometime it takes a little effort to get out of its way. Sometimes it’s our own minds that stand in the way of fully relating to our mind and body. Then there’s the environment…which is easier to ignore than our heads, but can still pose challenges in the way of pure peace.
Time management is often a dirty word, but if you’re making time for the things you truly love, then it’s all in the name of peace…that’s easy. We’ve spent many weeks talking about ways to just do it in the name of peace. But what if it’s a little bigger than mind-over-mattering your situation. A big example of this is the giant McMansions. They are expansive, vast (take a lot of resources to “complete” (we say “fill”) a space: more shelves just to use the big closets built into these homes. Sure there is often pride for achieving a ‘dream home’ (which we applaud dreams come true!) and more “head room” (which we love because it fosters creativity), but how well do these gigantic, cafeteria-selection homes serve our needs? Often times, the layout lacks prioritization of space. Huge entry ways compared to the size of kitchens. Family rooms in the basement. How often do families congregate in the foyer or go down three flights of stairs to spend time with a family member?
So working for even flow and harmony in this situation, we admit, is a bigger deal. In creating deliberate, core spaces with a built-in hierarchy takes planning (and time…and money), but just think about the possibilities. That’s where finding peace begins, even with the big deal situations. Dreaming of what harmony looks and feels like is the start of it all. Feel it. Own it. The brain will trigger the release relaxation chemicals just with the simple dream or forward thought. Then considering your options. A make over may not be in your current budget, but if you spread it out over several years, how realistic does it look now? Can you add it to your vision board and work towards this peace over the coming months? Sufficed to say, even the bigger deals must start somewhere and “just doing it” kinda applies here too. If your space could be improved, recognize that your environment is second to your mind in terms of connecting with your peace.
We believe you owe it to yourself to explore your options after you’ve envisioned what peaceful harmony looks like. If you’ve done this recently, we’d love to hear how your small (or drastic) changes helped change your life, your perspective, or your overall happiness.
As with all peace quests, once you’ve found it for yourself, we promise it will be so much easier to recognize it and be in that space more often. Give it a chance, it will continuously give back to you.
In support of prioritizing your peace is AV Architects + Builders and House of Steep. Please share your thoughts with us and reach out if you’d like to hear more ideas on dreaming your peace and then making it a reality, especially during the No-cember-ja season.
Why do we strive for more organization? If only we could get that perfect system to help organize our lives, our admin, our calendars…we’d finally feel ahead of the game. Why do we have to bring in outside consultants to help us be more effective at our lives and businesses? Can’t we just be peaceful just the way we are? Great questions. To these, we respond: how long have you been asking this question? If you’re not able to step away from yourself and either make life easier for yourself, or simply make peace with your chaos, then it maybe time to get some help. Even the zen masters could probably use a little perspective to see the forest through their own trees.
If we believe organization (or fill in the blank solution) will fix the problem of feeling overwhelmed or unbalanced, chances are we won’t begin to feel content until something significant has happened. Like, we took a full day to address the problem AND implemented a new system to ensure life doesn’t happen to, say your desk, again. Sure, we can reframe our perspective to help us look more optimistically at our challenges, and that absolutely helps in the way of peace, but sometimes a little extra influence is what’s needed to make the difference.
Said a little differently, it’s often the construct we’ve created in our mind that has an ability to usher in peace. And, once we’ve decided that’s the shape it takes, we owe it to ourselves to either redefine that vision or to take action to help us. Both take effort, but both beg the question: what are you waiting for? It will help you, and who knows, that consultant, or that day dedicated just to rebalancing your desk (sub life), may be just what you’re looking for to usher in peace.
Something you may want to prepare for is possibly the need to remind yourself that this is what peace feels like (and not continue t0 strive for more/better). This is what you thought could do the trick, and assuming it was done right, allow yourself the gratitude of a job well done.
Another challenge may be practicing keeping in touch with this newfound balance. As with anything, life will take over again, but with a little effort and a sincere desire to achieve this peace you call organization (or simplicity), and we believe you can do it! It’s important. How can we balance our mind and body when our minds are scattered? Whether it be the energy or billable hours lost in getting ahead of ourselves, hiring someone to work within the space you have, or a complete overhaul of the area that makes you feel less than peaceful, it’s probably worth the expense. Just do it and your family, your free time, your hobbies, your fill-in-the-blank zen will thank you.
In support of prioritizing your peace is AV Architects + Builders and House of Steep. Please share your thoughts with us and reach out if you’d like to hear more ideas on how to find more space for really enjoying No-cember-ja (your events, your calendar, your family season) and your immediate environment.
Continuing with the No-cember-ja spirit of downsizing and making space for what matters (and making space for clear thoughts), this week’s blog surrounds the notion of what’s it really for. If you’re saving it for your children, is it something they’ll appreciate? If it has meaning to you, how well are you honoring it while it’s in the closet?
I’ve come to ask myself the question “what purpose am I hoping this thing will assume?” My wedding dress is a perfect example. Beautiful, well-cared for garment that will never be worn again. I won’t ask my daughter to wear it, because I had so much fun picking my own out. So it has assumed it’s high perch in the guest bedroom closet for what purpose I’ve not yet figured out. Meanwhile plenty of brides on a tight budget may very well enjoy a designer gown…and thus my space-taker has a new purpose!
This house-cleaning isn’t just about de-cluttering, making space for an expansion of your zen space, or otherwise simplifying your chaos. It’s about making peace with your everyday artifacts (that represent some great time or place in your life), and acknowledging that it’s the memory they hold that is what matters -the vivid living that took place while you were collecting that piece. If it can still take you to another time and place, then maybe it still has purpose in your life. If it reminds you (fondly) of your grandmother’s kitchen, maybe hang on it it a little longer.
If you’re struggling to remember where something came from, and it really doesn’t speak to you, it’s time to toss it. Feng Shui holds that something should have purpose for it to be displayed in your home or office (even your car). It needs to bring some sort of feeling or inspiration to you in order for it to be worthy of your precious space. And if you have plenty of memories (pictures instead of souvenirs) held elsewhere, consider that it’s purpose in your life has passed if it doesn’t immediately take you back to the place you were when you acquired the thing.
Ask yourself why you’re keeping something. If it’s in storage, how good is your answer to that question? Can you take it with you when you’re long gone. Will the person you’re saving it for really have a need for it, or will it end up in their storage? Think of all the great things you could do with that storage space (or the money made by consigning, or the satisfaction by donating to someone who could really be proud of that lamp). If you aren’t able ask yourself these tough questions and part with a large amount of the items you’ve collected over the years, consider hiring a local ‘de-clutter’ or organizing professional…they’ll ask you the tough questions and help you purge. Plus, you’ll be able to keep your money local – and the rewards compound!
In support of reestablishing sense of what is really important and parting with that which isn’t is AV Architects + Builders and House of Steep. Please share your thoughts with us and reach out if you’d like to hear our ideas on how to find more space for really enjoying your family season and your immediate environment.
Holiday season has begun and will fill our schedules with family and events. This annual season of making time for family, gatherings, things that matter is what we’re calling No-cember-ja and it will last for a few glorious, busy months. What does it mean, aside from time passing really quickly? You’ll surprise yourself at how much you’ll get done in a period of time, but it also means you’ll likely be offered a few quick reminders of how important this time is for you, for your family, for your religious values.
Extracting the fulfillment from this season is easy. Preparing for it may be tricky. As the schedule fills up, we begin to wonder how we’ll find time to organize the closet to make room for the extra coats, for shopping for the meals you’ll be preparing, finding ways to make the most of the space where your family convenes as meals are prepared, right near the place where meals are enjoyed…the kitchen.
Sorry to bring it up, but it’s going to be okay. Take a deep breath and get ahead of it:
Step 1. Carve out 1 work day in early November to tackle the organization. Get rid of clutter- admit it’s a stressful element in your life. You certainly can’t take it with you, and waiting for the opportunity that you’ll need it is like waiting for a good opportunity to relax. If you won’t miss it when it’s gone, then it’s time to let go of it. Of course, it’s recommended to donate so it can take on a new life in someone elses’ home.
Step 2. Think about how important this time is to you and if there is something that you could do to make that experience easier, more fulfilling, or more functional. If it’s huge, like knocking out a wall into a storage room (storing stuff you really should purge in step one), to make more room for your family to gather in the kitchen- the new living room of today’s modern family, then maybe it’s worth it if this time of year is of high importance to you. It may be within your economical means, and the dividends can be invaluable in terms of family time.
Step 3. Get real with what’s important. It’s not about filling the menu with excessive food, or is it about getting to every event. It’s about extracting the most fulfillment with each experience. If you can remind yourself about this, the No-cember-ja time can be all-rewarding, and non-stressful.
The rest of this No-cember-ja series will come with more ideas on ways to really feel this intended joyous time. You need it, your soul needs it, and it’s in your heart, you just may enjoy our gentle reminders for ways to approach it peacefully.
Taking a moment to declutter, really embracing a renovation to make the most of your space, or redefining your thoughts in a busy time isn’t as out of reach as it may seem. Really think on it.
In support of reestablishing sense of what is really important and preparing to make the most of it is AV Architects + Builders and House of Steep. Please share your thoughts with us and reach out if you’d like to hear our individual ideas on how to find more space for really enjoying your family season and your immediate environment.
It’s Wednesday and we’re behind schedule for the weekly peace post. Even us peaceful-living proponents get caught in a busy week from time to time. Our apologies to anyone who missed us yesterday.
In the spirit of still appreciating life, our bodies and our natural need for sanctuary time, even amidst the most hectic week, this post will be short and to the point. Peace is yours for the taking – and 5 minutes can be all that is required. Try these and let us know what you think:
- Take a cup of tea on a walk. Let nature, both in the environment and in your mug, carry you to a different place – perhaps think about the location where the tea was grown, or your very own origins. Either way, nature has safely carried you to a relaxing place.
- Spend some time in a room in your home that you rarely visit. Your purpose for those 5 minutes is to find potential with that space. Let it offer you something that you hadn’t appreciated before. If it’s a small space, maybe a perfect spot to yoga or read. Alternatively, it could be a spot you’d like to renovate or update. Either way, your positive and creative juices are flowing and look at that, you just lowered your heart rate a bit!
- Set a timer and do nothing but stretch. Challenge yourself to find muscles you haven’t used in a while.
- If you can’t get away from your desk, go to websites like pinterest and look for images of what relaxes other people. The vivid images will carry you far away from your desk and offer a feeling of refreshing calm for having taken in some breathtaking images.
- Book yourself a massage in the not so distant future. Just the act of doing something for yourself, and especially that promises relaxation, will bring a smidge of relaxation to your day.
- Read about meditation or QiGong. Just the act of reading about it may relax you…and hopefully inspire you to incorporate into your week.
- Indulge yourself. Grab the darkest chocolate you can find and eat it slowly, tasting the deep flavors and health benefits.
We’d love to hear your ideas for Quick Fixes. We’ll call this series Quick Blixes and bring it back to include your suggestions regularly. In support of finding peace, even for a minute, please share your ideas and reactions to being so fond of your peace that you’ll take it however you can!
Back to school, a new season, and a feeling of change – in the air temperature, in daily schedules, in traffic patterns. The kids are settling into their own schedules and perhaps setting their own goals for their school year, their athletics, or recitals.
As much as now is a time for change from the summer speed, it’s also a chance to implement new habits before the newness of change fades to normal. See the change in season as a chance to set a new peace plan before a new groove makes it difficult to change habits. Don’t wait to settle into your new groove to set your plans for peace.
Set an example for yourself and for the kids or others around you, as well. If yoga has been on your mind, go ahead and incorporate yoga into your plans now. Not only will you help yourself through your own zen plan, but you can also help those around you get used to carving out time for themselves. If you’ve been talking for a while about doing something about your crammed quarters, why not work that into your peace plan? If your children seem to be struggling with time management, why not show the way by prioritizing what projects or aspects of your day really matter. And then demonstrate action.
One can never be too young or too old to implement new opportunities for your own harmony…and theirs. Start them early. Get them used to taking time for themselves and be the example to keep it going. In support of being the inspiration for peace you and others need is AV Architects + Builders and House of Steep. Please share your ideas and reactions to present living and implementing a peace plan.
For further reading, consider the blog Be Well, which offers a venue for sharing ideas of being peaceful in daily life with other readers aiming to do the same.
Ah, sweet vacation. We get excited for, look forward to, and channel our happy thoughts towards an upcoming vacation week. Sometimes, it can’t get here soon enough. A tough week at work? No worries – this time, next week, vacation will be here and all will be good. Looking forward to such a peaceful and relaxing time is often what we need to keep our cortisol (stress) levels down and our positive thoughts winning. Thank goodness we have rituals and norms that send us away every year for a unique experience, or simply to step away from our daily worlds to enjoy some time off.
Especially when your vacation is pure bliss – you’re able to get there fast, settle in and turn off the Smartphone from the moment you arrive, and totally disconnect. It is something that is set apart from your daily or weekly experience, is held in such high regard in your mind for ways to be peaceful, and of course, sadly, is unique and isn’t as easily accessible throughout the year.
Some people are fortunate enough to have a weekend vacation home that is utilized to the fullest, several weeks off from work per year, or have the ability to take days here and there. If this is the case, perhaps their entire years’ relaxation isn’t categorically defined by a week or two at the beach in August. Good for those people! For the rest, we’re here to help find ways to relax throughout the year, so it doesn’t come down to counting the days to a future target.
- Find a local park, tea house, or other destination that you find peaceful and go there frequently enough to find it rewarding but not as often as you may take it for granted.
- Call a friend who you don’t see often and ask what they do for relaxation. Simply appreciating the story they tell can spur ideas for your own zen.
- Consider remodeling your home. Create spaces that fit your lifestyle and leave you feeling blissful and harmonious all year round.
- Rent a book on Feng Shui from the library – learn about ways you can transform your office or bed room to balance the chi energy in your life.
- Take a walk when you feel stress rising. Getting moving will cause the blood to flow and the endorphins (the feel good hormones) to circulate.
Do something that feels like a treat often: every day or every week. The main thing is to make a point of it and follow through. It’s easy to say you’ll start to, but it takes a commitment to repeat the behavior so it will have an impact on your peace and relaxation.
For further reading, consider 365 Ways to Relax Mind, Body & Soul by Barbara Heller, which explores unique and fun ways to meditate, relax, and step aside from your daily life.
Welcome to placidhouse.com, a blog promoting harmonious living in our often fast-paced and unbalanced world. The authors aim to provide regular ideas on achieving peaceful living, either through their own experiences or through ideas they come across through friends and blog followers also in search of relaxation and rejuvenation amidst daily living.
Francisca Villarroel Alonso, president of AV Architects, and Lyndsey Clutteur DePalma, owner of House of Steep, both in Northern Virginia, decided to collaborate on this blog because each of their very different businesses share one thing in common: a message that you don’t have to depart from your daily life in order to find relaxation.
In the busy DC metro area, where both of these entrepreneurs live and work, it is very easy to fall into a pattern of haste and speed with so much to access and so many obstacles (traffic and volumes of people). But rather than feel weighted down by these elements, move to a different part of the country, or board a plane for several weeks to recharge, the authors believe you really can find your own zen not so far from your home.
AV Architects designs homes that aim to truly help the homeowner relax through high-quality materials and well-designed layouts, specific to the needs of the homeowner. House of Steep is a tea house and foot sanctuary that is an accessible and comfortable place to relax, re-center and heal your body while sipping a pot of hot tea or relaxing in a hot herbal foot bath.
We’d love to hear from you. Please share your thoughts and ideas with us.