Even a clean and unoccupied room gathers dust; return after a week and you will see that it needs dusting again!
Padre Pio on Confession
KonMari has become a phenomenon worldwide, thanks to the kind wisdom of Marie Kondo, a Japanese organizing consultant. Normally, her method of organizing is applied to material things in the home, but I can see it being applied to cleaning up our souls as well. Here’s how to apply it spiritually:
Step 1: Tidy Through Examination of Conscience
Set aside some time for solitary prayer. Perhaps have a candle and a journal with you. Open yourself to God’s voice and ask for clarity to see His presence in your life and to see where you have been shutting Him out in sin. The goal is to unburden yourself onto the page. Here is a good list of questions to guide your thinking. Take note of anything that is making you unclean that you need to bring to the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Step 2: Imagine Yourself Clean
While in prayer, meditate with a vision of yourself standing with Mary at the foot of the cross, where Jesus is looking down at you with love. Let Him show you how dearly He loves you and wishes to wash your soul clean with His blood. Imagine what this would feel like to be freed from everything that keeps you depressed, discouraged, and apart from Him. Imagine what it would be like to be holier, to be the self God created you to be.
Step 3: Decide What Truly “Sparks Joy”
Take an inventory of your life on a sheet of paper. Take stock of your relationships, your routines, your possessions, your habits. Examine them courageously with Jesus, asking Him to show you what is guiding you to Him and what is guiding you away. The things that bring you spiritual health are the things that will truly “spark joy.” Get rid of anything that takes you away from the person you want to be.
Step 4: Confession
Take your list from the examination of conscience and anything you noticed in your “Spark Joy” exercise and go to Confession. I know it can sound scary, but trust me, do NOT delay in receiving this Sacrament. It cleanses you in a way that makes your steps lighter, your choices smarter, your heart more receptive, your mind more still, and your soul freed indeed. It is incredibly worth it. I recommend going weekly!
Step 5: Eucharist
Once you have done a little spring cleaning in your soul with God, receive Holy Communion. Ask Jesus to dwell within you, literally, and keep you clean. Savor it!
Do This Often!
Once isn’t enough! We acquire so much “junk” and “dust” builds up faster than you realize. Doing this regularly will change your life and bring you true joy.
Please enjoy this post from guest blogger Anne Glenn of Pollyannie.
(C) 2019, Anne Glenn. Used with permission.
Konmari Your Soul
I’m sure you have heard about Marie Kondo by now and her Konmari method. Well, I’m here to talk about applying her methods to tidying your soul. Chances are, if you think your soul is in a pristine state, you probably have just become used to all of the clutter.
Matthew Kelly talks about our souls being like a car that we need to clean out, as this post mentions:
“We lose our sensitivity to sin in exactly the same way because after a while, a big self-destructive behavior doesn’t look that bad amongst all those little ones, does it? That’s how it works. You go to Confession and when you come out you are sensitive about the things that have stopped you from becoming the best version of yourself, just like when you wash your car and you are sensitive about the things that make your car dirty. “
So why should we Konmari our soul? Do we even need to? What would be the benefit of doing this? And how can we do it in an honest way?
Provide a Dwelling Place
We need to examine our souls the same way we would examine our belongings. We must ask ourselves, does this behavior spark joy in my life? If not, I need to let it go. As a Catholic, I have found there is power in going to a priest who is representing Christ and confessing your sins. When you discard all that doesn’t spark joy, you make room for the things that do like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, forgiveness, understanding, gentleness, and self-control – the fruits of the Holy Spirit. When we hold on to our junk, we grieve the Holy Spirit. We have to tidy things up on a regular basis to give the Holy Spirit a home that sparks joy.
A Long Way to Go
More and more I am realizing that the closer I get to God, the further I have to go in my spiritual life. I feel very good about myself when I am not examining my conscience. It’s very humbling when I take the time to reflect on where I have strayed. . I need God. I need His grace. One way I realize how much I need God’s grace and forgiveness is when I haven’t been to confession in a long time and the difference it makes afterward. All of the sudden my reserves of patience have been restored – whereas before I would be ready to snap with the next spill, or scream, or whatever accident life throws at me.
No Stone to Throw
We are all very good at recognizing the sins of others, amen? I think we would all benefit from examining our own shortcomings and making amends. I am reminded of these Bible verses and a quote from Leo Buscaglia:
“You hypocrite! First, remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of yourbrother’s eye. “
“He who is without sin can cast the first stone.”
“Individuals are incensed when it is suggested that they could, under certain situations and circumstances, be a part of any behavior harmful toward their fellow human beings. Yet, innocently, they do so every day. They ignore antipollution laws, refuse to accept responsibility for inferior education, world hunger, the loneliness of their neighbors, the ill-treatment of children and the elderly. They are only too ready to condemn the politicians, the activists, the Communists, or anyone else rather than accept their own thoughtlessness. They are too caught up in the self to evaluate their own prejudicial, hurtful, negative attitudes. If we are perceptive we will find that either by choice or unconsciously each of us engage, almost daily, in some wrongdoing. But this does not mean that we are evil, that we lose our worth as loving human beings. One act is not sufficient reason to devalue a person.”
Powerful, right? Indeed we are all hypocrites because we are all human. None of us are in a position to cast any stones. This is why we need to continually tidy up our souls. Not to make us feel guilty and worthless, but for us to practice empathy and keep us humble.
We can all agree how beautiful a tidy home looks…but what about a tidy soul? And how will you know if something is a sin or not? Does a specific behavior spark joy? Or does it bring about more anger, despair, grief, or destruction? It’s so easy to justify and rationalize our behavior in a way that suits us best. But how can we konmari our soul in an honest way? The good news is the Catholic Church has already done the work in regard to which behaviors do and do not spark joy and it’s called an examination of conscience, and it is not intended as a set of rules to control you, but to help you. The only way to test if abiding by these guidelines sparks joy is by trying to live them. Until you truly try, you cannot give a testimony one way or the other. That is the way spiritual truth is discovered. As G.K. Chesterton said,
“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried. “
Have you tried living a life of Christian virtue? I mean, really tried. Not just follow the morality that suits you, but tried living according to all of the moral teachings of the Church. Did you find that it brought more order, peace and joy in your life?
“When I started living my life according to Catholic teaching the proof was, as they say, in the pudding. It worked. It worked better than I could have ever guessed it would. And since I’ve been able to receive what they say is really the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, my soul, my entire life, has changed profoundly. “
Now we say we “Google’d” this and “Google’d” that. We’re googling all over the place.
I think something similar has happened with organization phenom Marie Kondo.
If I were to tell you I’d miss getting together on the weekend because I needed to spend some time KonMarie-ing my bedroom closet, you’d know EXACTLY what I’m talking about.
Some folks are saying Americans are getting hooked on the KonMarie Method because there’s something about it that makes us admit:
We got too much stuff.
Our souls need orderliness too.
I am all for an organized closet (and I daydream often about the perfect pantry), but also I think this goes deeper. This need for peace, order, meaning, beauty…it’s deeper than an Insta-worthy pic of your underwear drawer.
At a spiritual level, we long for tranquility. At a soul level, we long for peace. But you know what gets in the way?
Even in our souls, we got too much stuff.
I bet you could tell me exactly which kids gave you a hard time and/or were disliked by you in first grade. I know happy people in simple cluttered homes. I know miserable people in beautiful furnished homes. I bet you don’t remember the best thing your boss ever taught you, but I KNOW you could tell me all about the worst, most evil boss you ever had. Every breakup, every bully, every time you encountered an unruly person in a drive-thru!
I know these things because I carry them too. I struggle with them often, and if I don’t consciously get myself into a different mindset, my brain will replay stories of bad stuff happening on a constant never-ending loop.
Do you think maybe it’s possible that no matter what kind of house we live in, we really aren’t going to feel better until we
Let stuff go?
So how do we do that? Well, that’s an answer that I don’t really like.
I don’t like it because it’s tough for me, and I have to practice it, like a muscle. Sometimes I don’t wanna. Really REEEEEEAAAALLY don’t wanna.
Here’s the answer. We have to practice forgiveness.
This post is close to me because honestly, it’s written more as a reminder to me than to anyone else. Very often I need to think about things and events for a long time in order to understand them….but once I’ve gotten clarity, it’s time to take those lessons and throw the rest out the spiritual window.
My sister said something amazing recently:
You won’t have room for love until you get rid of the hate. They simply can’t exist together.
The thing is, I think we as Americans have a much different understanding of what it means when something “sparks joy” (Kondo’s qualifier for whether or not an item or routine stays a part of your life). I think we mistake sparking joy with sparking pleasure.
Joy is the job, not justice. Time to get to work.
But there is joy in forgiveness; there’s joy in letting stuff go. Yes, that means the most horrible, awful thing that has ever happened to you, the one that you didn’t deserve or ask for, the one that wasn’t at all your fault, the one that really just rocked you. That was painful enough. And again, you didn’t deserve it. Are you ever going to find pleasure in that situation? No. No, probably not ever. That situation–the one you didn’t deserve–has no pleasure in it for you. Not even if you got revenge–and you know that’s true.
So, the idea of pleasure has to be completely removed from the situation. I’m talking about joy. There is joy in freedom from the burden of having to ruminate things over and over and over…there is joy in having toxicity plucked from your life. There’s even more joy in kicking toxicity right out the door.
There is joy in being free of the responsibility of being the sole dispenser of justice. You aren’t in charge of justice. If you were, whatever hurt you wouldn’t have happened in the first place, because it wasn’t just, or fair. Whether you should be in charge of justice or not doesn’t actually matter. Because at the end of the day, you’re still not in charge of justice.
It stinks to write. It isn’t what I want to read, and I’m sure it’s tough for you to read too, depending on your situation. Just know that I struggle with this.
I love you, whoever you are.
But I also know that there is freedom waiting on the other side of hurt. There is freedom after letting go. Is it life-changing to let go of stuff? Well, yeah, I think so.
But don’t ever forget: You are so much more than “stuff” and your neuro-chemical reactions to said stuff. (Is neuro-chemical a word?) Anyway, my point is:
You have a soul. It’s yours. And it was fashioned to be uniquely yours. No one else could ever have a soul like you.
If I could hug you, I would. I don’t want either of us to suffer from keeping around baggage in our souls for too long.
I’m so sorry you were hurt. I wish that had never happened. Please think about finding your way back to joy. Not because a situation doesn’t deserve justice, oh no, I’m not saying that.
I’m saying I love you, and I see you, and you’ve suffered enough.
Do not be provoked by evildoers; do not envy those who do you wrong. Like grass they wither quickly; like green plants they wilt away.
But trust in the Lord and do good that you may dwell in the land and live secure. Find your delight in the Lord who will give you your heart’s desire.
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will act And make your righteousness shine like the dawn your justice like noonday.
This post contains original copyrighted photos. Do not use without permission.
Have you ever been curious about making pasta?
I was curious lately so I thought I’d do some research and give it a try!
It turns out, pasta making ranges from complicated pastas that require lots of skill to super easy recipes (like this one) which are perfect for any beginner.
Tagliatelle is a long flat noodle that is made by rolling out pasta dough. The dough is then folded on itself and cut into thin strips. When the strips are separated and dried, you have fresh, delicious homemade tagliatelle noodles you can swirl on your fork for a mouthful of simple, rustic Italian decadence.
Since Mother’s Day is right around the corner, I opted to use my great grandmother’s scalloped pasta roller to cut my tagliatelle noodles. Even though my great grandmother died when Mom was 5, Mom has tons of memories going to her grandparents’ house. Italian ladies usually do all their cooking in the basement, and my great grandmother was no exception.
Mom, as a tiny girl, used to sit on the steps that went down to the basement and keep her grandmother company while she used this little roller to cut ravioli. She would give my mom a bottle of 7-Up and a straw, and Mom would watch her move like lightning across a huge sheet of rolled homemade pasta. This was a tradition every Saturday.
Nowadays, we keep this tradition on Christmas Eve by eating ravioli. I’m sure Mom still thinks about her Nonna.
I have been reading and studying all about pasta for weeks. Pasta is basically anything you can imagine. Pasta making is sentimental, creative, physical, engages all your senses, and on top of that, is an activity that is both relaxing and rewarding. No wonder so many people do it.
I’m still learning about pasta. What I know for sure, though, is that the BEST kind of pasta is:
Here is my recipe for pasta dough and the steps required to make this scalloped tagliatelle. I hope you’ll try it for lunch or dinner sometime!
In a large bowl, mix flour and salt. Stir with a fork to evenly disperse salt.
Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture. To this, add eggs, egg yolk, water, and oil.
Use a fork to puncture egg yolks and beat eggs. Slowly incorporate flour until shaggy dough forms.
Turn bowl out onto a lightly floured surface. Mix dough together to combine everything. Knead dough thoroughly for at least 10 minutes, stretching it as much as possible and using the heel of your hand to push it around.
After 10 minutes, dough should be silky and elastic. Form a dough ball. Place ball on wax paper or lightly floured parchment paper. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let dough rest for 10-30 minutes.
After dough has rested, cut dough ball in half. Use a rolling pin to roll out a pasta sheet of desired thickness. Allow sheet to dry for 2-3 minutes. Flour the dough sheet before cutting.
Use a knife or a rolling cutter to cut noodles. I like to use a ruler as a guide. I used a scalloped rolling cutter, hence the name "scalloped" tagliatelle!
Separate noodles with your fingers and place on a floured surface, a flat drying basket, or a floured teacloth.
Drying options: Hang noodles to dry on a hanger or pasta drying rack, gather approx 100 grams of noodles (what you would serve as one portion) and shape into nests–let these dry on a floured or wax-papered sheet and freeze, or cook them and enjoy them right away.
To cook: drop pasta in plenty of salted boiling water. Keep watch! These should only take a few minutes to cook. The best way to know if pasta is done is to take out a noodle and taste it!
Here’s a playlist to help you get in the mood while you’re kneading that pasta and cutting those noodles!
Ready to Make Your Own?
Here are some links to products that can bring pasta making into your home. These are affiliate links, which means if you do happen to purchase by clicking them, Amazon will send me a penny or two so that I can continue making posts. Thank you so much for your support, and for letting me share my new pasta passion with you!
The next generation of Nonna’s pasta cutter.
This cutting board is special because it has a lip that hangs over the edge of your countertop. Perfect for kneading pasta dough, since the lip prevents the board from slipping around at all!
Ok, so maybe we can’t be like Nonna every night of the week. A pasta maker machine helps things go along with speed–plus gives jobs for kitchen helpers like spouses or children.
This doubles as a shaper for gnocchi as well!
Even the covers look delicious!
I could go on and on in this post, but I won’t….all this talk about pasta has made me HUNGRY! I gotta go cook something. Buon Appetito, and happy cooking!
We mess up. It happens. Take it from someone who has make one or five colossal mistakes before.
I know you know that, but somehow that probably doesn’t take away the sting of feeling like a failure. I just want to give you a few thoughts to consider during this time.
I don’t want to burst into song, or tell you it’s all going to be alright (even though it really is going to be ok) or pummel you with dumb positive statements.
I’d like to give you some practical things to think about right now, so that you can learn and grow.
Understanding if it’s grief, shame, or both
Are you feeling stuck because you made a mistake or messed up a situation?
Sometimes after a failure, we can feel embarrassed at being in the situation. We can feel super conspicuous; like everyone can see where we’ve been and the mistakes we’ve made. Those feelings are feelings of shame.
But, I think intelligent people (clearly anyone who reads this blog) have it a little bit harder. I think mixed-in with those feelings of shame are feelings of guilt. Why didn’t we do something different, or take different advice, or somehow perform differently under the circumstances when we failed? Why did it have to be us? Why didn’t we see that coming? And now, what lies ahead, if anything? Those are feelings of grief.
With grief, you are mourning the loss of the outcome that didn’t happen, and never ever will happen. You are coping with the rest of your life being an “after” of this event. You are having to figure out how to function in these circumstances.
It’s a life change. It takes recovery. And the good news is, recovery is an excellent teacher.
Set time limits.
How long are you going to dwell in these feelings?
If your self care (hygiene, nutritious food, sleep, time outside) is being thwarted by shame and/or guilt today, how many minutes are you going to spend feeling these feelings before jumping in the shower? An hour? Ok. Half a day or two seasons of a Netflix binge? Decidedly less ok.
But that’s just my opinion; my point is to decide for you. How long are you going to spend on the playground with these feelings today? Decide. Stick to it.
How long are you going to feel your feelings of guilt about being in this situation? An hour feeding pigeons at the park (insert sad piano music)? Sure. Years? Years of never putting your heart out there again because of the guilt you feel? Definitely not ok. You’d be surprised how many people do just that.
You’re not going to do that. You’re going to grow from this.
Here’s the truth about failing: it just is. You just did. Failing is neutral to your emotions. If you were throwing darts at a target, the dartboard is not judging you by whether or not you get close to the bullseye. That sort of thing is the meaning we assign to the task. The dartboard doesn’t care one way or the other. Failing doesn’t try to make you feel good or feel bad. Failing is just what we call not succeeding in a given situation.
Ah, but what you do with it? That changes everything.
What we do not want to do is get trapped by feelings of guilt and unhealthy shame. Think logically about the situation:
What, are you some kind of crazy psycho who meant for this situation to happen in this way? Of course not!
Stop and think, realizing that if you knew how things would end up, you would have made different choices. There was no way to know what would happen. Sure, you might have been able to make a prediction, and other people may have too, but there was no way to know for sure.
Healthy vs. Unhealthy shame
I’m not saying all shame is bad. Hey, if you made a mistake, own it.
If you contributed to the failure in this situation, figure out how.
Understand that if you feel ashamed, there is a limit that is healthy. The right limit of shame is what is going to teach you not to do the same actions again. It tells you what you don’t want to repeat.
Unhealthy shame would be beating yourself up about it or somehow deeming yourself as the scum of the earth, or something.
It would be like getting out of a relationship that failed, and dooming yourself to only go after shallow, meaningless relationships as punishment for the intimate one you failed with. Like you don’t deserve intimacy, or something. That’s just not helping anybody, so knock it off already!
I tend to excuse subhuman things like slugs and sewer stuff from any form of self-improvement. But I’ve got news for you: You are not garbage. You are a human, who makes mistakes, and you are not excused from learning and continuing in your life. You are not excused from improving where and how you are able.
You can get mad at me about that all you want. Go ahead, I can take it.
Accept the process.
We all like to think that we are better than other people at one point or another. We all do it! That’s why it’s so devastating when we mess up–we are shown to be full of baloney, and suddenly we don’t feel better than anyone. We feel like the worst, lowest creatures on the planet!
Well, you aren’t meant to be superhuman. And you aren’t meant to be sewerhuman….meaning sub-human. You are meant to be human.
You are a person. No more, no less.
And so am I. And so was everyone else involved in the situation you’re stuck thinking about.
So if you’re worried about other people talking about your big mess-up? They probably aren’t nearly so concerned about it as you are. It’s a much safer bet for you to just not fret it to death. Accept your consequences and learn from them. Make amends where you need to. Get movin’.
Humans are capable of wonderful things. You’re no exception. It is entirely reasonable (and encouraged) to expect that you would use this experience as an opportunity to learn about yourself, to see that life is beautiful even if it isn’t always easy, and to relate to your fellow man. After all, we’re all in the same boat, doin’ stuff, messing it up, learning, growing, thinking, loving, hoping to do better next time.
I believe it’s all going to be ok. But of course, what comes next is entirely up to you.
Here are some books and things from people who are much smarter than I am. I’m including descriptions, and affiliate links–which means if you do happen to purchase anything through this site, Amazon will send me a few pennies to keep writing blog posts with. Thanks for your support!
Healing the Shame that Binds You by John Bradshaw I can’t say enough about this book. This book teaches all about healthy shame and unhealthy shame. Reader beware: This is like getting intense therapy, and it’s gonna sting before you get your first breaths of joy-inducing, lifechanging FREEDOM. For anyone recovering from low self-esteem, from so-called “legacy traumas,” or if you constantly find yourself in poop jobs and poopier relationships, give this book a try. The first half is a little daunting, as it describes more neuroses due to unhealthy shame than an entire season of your favorite crime drama. The second half of the book is totally transformative, bringing you out of the darkness and into the light.
Failing Forward by John C. Maxwell If your brain had a well-trained response to dealing with failure that ALWAYS resulted in more success and growth in the long run, would it even matter if you messed up in the first place? This book is all about making failure a vital part of a growth mindset. Highly recommended for business folks and just us regular folks alike.
The Success Principles by Jack Canfield The Chicken Soup guy gives us practical advice on how to actually take steps towards your goals. These are rules for life, for work, and for relationships. Eugene and I actually take his advice about having weekly conversations about how we’re doing in our relationship and we’ve benefitted from this for years. It’s never too late to start moving in the right direction in life, love, and work.
The Ten Minute Quit, by yours truly! I originally wrote this book to describe how I got out from underneath the guilt and shame associated with being hooked on cigarettes. It’s amazing to me: I get feedback all the time from folks who say this book helped them recover from guilt and shame in all kinds of areas, not just smoking cigarettes! Some of my readers never smoked a cigarette in their lives; but they’ve still found comfort and practical actions to take towards better self-esteem, confidence, and freedom. I hope this book can help you too!
Pollyannie – Feel good, think positive, and read about Annie Glenn’s adventures in the Californian hills. No Body But Yours – News flash: you have a soul, and it is worthy of health and wellness. Mel Robbins – Everybody needs that voice of reason.