energy

On Living an Abundant Life

Does living an abundant life mean that you have great wealth? Does it mean you have nothing but good things in your life? What do you do when real life sends you something that isn’t exactly good? Just what does an abundant life look like?

I consider my current life to be an abundant one. No great wealth, not that I’m not open to that (hear that, Universe?). And I do have good things in my life: a place to live that has running water, working heat and air conditioning, a (small but) nice kitchen with working appliances, a sweet cat, an even sweeter husband (seriously, he’s such a good guy), two wonderful daughters out living their lives.

But it’s not all good stuff here. If you’re new around here, you probably don’t know that I’m disabled (two autoimmune issues that require lots of rest and have a tendency to flare up, not just when I’m stressed, but when the weather changes, or just for kicks). My family has been dealing with cancer issues this year, since my dad was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in July. My husband’s sweet and salty cousin Sel died on the 14th, not long after I posted my last blog post about choosing abundance.

Yet while we have been grieving for Sel, and I’ve been using more pain management stuff than usual (heat, salt baths, pain meds, and CBD oil on some spots), we’ve spent more time than usual with family. The funeral, shiva, and Thanksgiving found us with Sel’s wonderful family, and seriously, they are some terrific people. Also leading abundant lives, despite their own issues.

So I guess the answer to the question of what an abundant life looks like is that it looks like anyone’s life. Because the answer depends on you and your viewpoint. If you acknowledge and celebrate the good things in your life, chances are pretty good that you’re leading an abundant life. If you prefer to focus on the things you lack (whether they are objects, cash, or people), or on the things you dislike, chances are a bit higher that you’re not living in abundance.

It’s up to you to turn it around!

 Karen Salmansohn knows what’s what.

Karen Salmansohn knows what’s what.

If you are interested in more about abundance or other energy work, I hope that you will sign up for my newsletter. It goes out roughly weekly with information related to living with more positivity in your life.


Before I go, I wanted to invite you to shift your energy just a bit this holiday season by coming out to THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME: a Holiday Shopping Party, which I am hosting here in Williamstown, NJ. I am opening my studio up on Sunday, December 2nd, from 12 noon to 4 p.m., and I’ve invited three other women I know who are makers and who own their own small businesses to join me and sell their things as well. And everyone accepts cash or credit cards. So if you come out, you will not only get snacks and mix with happy people, but you’ll be shopping local, supporting woman-owned small businesses, and shopping handmade. Win-win-win!

Below is a gallery—if you click on the image below, you can cycle through and see some of the items that will be available here:

Just a hint of what you might expect to find this Sunday! If you need the street address for my studio or directions, let me know!

Choosing an Abundance Mindset

When I talk about abundance, I think of this definition of it “plentifulness of the good things of life; prosperity.” Or sometimes, I think in terms of enough-ness. Having enough good things to be in a positive state. Which can actually mean not having mad amounts of money or luxury items. It can mean having a place to live, feeling relatively safe, having food on the table, and so forth.

As you may recall from last week, my younger daughter is in the Peace Corps in Lesotho. She has to fill a five-gallon bucket at a communal tap that’s nearly a quarter mile from her house, and carry it home. That’s used for cooking, bathing, washing up, etc. And she uses a ditch latrine. For her, and for the people she lives among, running water and an actual toilet are a luxury. Yet she manages to maintain a sense of enough-ness because she has water and a private rondavel in which to live, and she always has food and clothing. Early on in her time in Lesotho, she met a volunteer who focused on the things that she didn’t like; sure enough, that volunteer opted to go home rather than finish her assignment.

Which brings me to the salient point of today’s post:

chooseabundance.png

You get to create your reality; you get to decide whether you are living an abundant life or a life of lack. To borrow a cliché, you get to say whether the glass if half full, or half empty. Choose half full. When you focus on the positive, you are far more likely to attract positive things in your life.

Choose Abundance.

Creating Space for Abundance

Here in the United States, November is almost entirely overtaken by the preparation for and celebration of Thanksgiving, which falls on the fourth Thursday of the month. Thanksgiving at its core is all about celebrating family and experiencing gratitude for having enough food to eat, though of course it has gotten a lot of other things added to it over the years — parades, football games, family squabbles, celebrations of friends, overeating and more. Usually I think of Thanksgiving as a day to recognize the abundance in our lives. And I’d like a lot more of that gratitude and abundance in my daily life.

A few months back, I shared a blog post that included Six Tips on Clearing Clutter, which you can find here. And I stand by all the things in that post, and have lots more to say about decluttering and/or downsizing, which I’ve decided to share with you because hey, who among us doesn’t have clutter that needs dealing with? (If you don’t have any clutter, please tell me how you achieved and maintain that status. Seriously.)

When I was in South Carolina for most of the month of October, I noticed two things about my mom and dad’s house: (1) That the public areas (great room with living space and dining areas) are largely tidy and clutter-free and (2) that clutter hides inside closets and drawers at their house (sorry mom & dad, but I peeked in the closet and drawers in the room I was sleeping in). I decided that when I got home, I wanted to focus on clearing clutter so we’d have a more zen space to live in, and also because decluttering is good feng shui.*

*Feng shui (pronounced fung shway) is the ancient Chinese art (some would say it’s a science) of balancing yin and yang energies within a space, with the aim of achieving “good feng shui” or energy flow to improve health, happiness, and abundance. It’s something I’ve studied and tried to practice in my own life and home for the past 13 years or so. One of the precepts is that you have to create space in your life and home in order to make room for abundance (in all forms) to join you.

As Jayme Barrett says in her book, Feng Shui Your Life, "Instead of focusing on what you are getting rid of, concentrate on moving towards your dream and goals." And the idea of clearing clutter in order to make space for abundance turns up in any book about the universal Law of Attraction as well. If you want to manifest abundance, you need to live an abundant life, which includes appreciating the things you have and not treating them poorly by allowing clutter to overtake everything. For instance, Denise Duffield-Thomas, who is a sort of mentor of mine, is dedicated to helping women find financial success. In her book, Get Rich, Lucky Bitch, she say that step one to manifesting anything is “declutter everything in your life”. (Your house, your car, your wardrobe, your email . . . everything.)

It's really helpful, as I start to slog through the everyday parts of clearing out spaces and assessing items in my house this week, to lift my head up now and then and remember why I'm doing it. The drudgery of working can sometimes obscure the happy goal I'm working toward, if I don't remind myself. Perhaps I need to put on the soundtrack to Disney’s Ever After and sing a “happy working song.” (No vermin need come to my aid. Seriously.)

Jayme Barrett’s book reminds me to keep "only those objects that encourage and inspire you", and to get rid of objects that affect thoughts and emotions in a negative way (things that are about sad subject matter, whether written or visual, or failed projects) and things that sap your energy (her examples include "photos of people who disapprove of you, gifts from a past relationship, and inherited furniture you've kept out of guilt"). 

I also really like and approve of Jayme Barrett’s rationale for getting rid of items you've been keeping "just in case":

Each item you keep "just in case" further roots you in fear and lack. Be confident that you will have everything you need and want to lead to a happy life. An effective way to start a cycle of abundance is by giving away items that no longer serve you. As you give, you receive. Create a vacuum for new and wonderful things to enter your home.


I find that when I keep these ideas in mind - that I am freeing up space for the qi energy to flow, giving to others who need something, and creating room for new and wonderful things, it is much easier and almost refreshing to let things go. (Almost. I mean, it’s still a bit of a struggle.) This of course applies to those things that are actual things, and not trash or recycling.

Getting rid of items in order to create space, whether it’s to improve abundance or get ready for a move, is good feng shui. Isn't that great? And since this blog is as much about art as it is about words, here is a painting I did entitled “Abundance”. It started with just that word painted on the canvas:

 “Abundance” 24”x36” on canvas.

“Abundance” 24”x36” on canvas.

Here’s hoping that this post supports you if you are cleaning/clearing space this month, and that the tips on how to reduce clutter help as well. And here’s to abundance! If you’d like more tips on things from reducing clutter to how to hang art to discounts on my work, I hope you will subscribe to my newsletter.

Six Tips on Clearing Clutter

Earlier this year, we put an addition on the back of the house to serve as my studio. It is full of light and air and usually pretty high vibrational energy, though it's not always the tidiest spot in the house. 

Now, when I first started furnishing the room, it literally had my worktable and chair in the center, my teal IKEA cart with some supplies, and my easel in the corner. Everything else was boxes, baskets, and piles of jumble. Over time, my sweet Morris built me a table that I just love (and which isn't being as well-utilized as it could be, but I'll get there), and we brought in another cart and an IKEA shelf unit that had been stashed in the garage when I moved in with my sweetheart a few years ago. 

The shelf unit had it's top shelf removed to work in the garage under the electrical box, and it came in the house just that way. You can see it below on the left, in a photo taken just after I tidied it (and before too much junk got piled on the floor in front of it). But of course, we bought a bunch more canvases, and my card rack (for greeting card display) needed a home, and eventually it was all I could do to reach the shelves, I had to stand so far away from it. 

And that's just not good feng shui, y'all. Also not good housekeeping, probably. And likely unsafe, since it affect the pathway to the sliding door to the outside, the frame of which you can see to the left on both pictures.

Anyway, I spent weeks (probably months) trying to figure out better storage in the room. And one day I was meditating out on the patio, as I am wont to do, when I opened my eyes (literally and figuratively) and it occurred to me that I could add the top shelf back. In fact, I have several extra shelves and their hardware, come to that. So yesterday, I added that top shelf, and lo -- everything that had been on the floor made it up onto the shelves, and my dreaming Buddha found a perch, and the whole studio feels lighter and clearer again, because all that heavy energy that was being pulled to the floor got moving again.

I get that it doesn't  involve rocket science, but I was quite literally stumped and frustrated for quite a while before the extremely simple solution presented itself one day. And I am willing to bet that you have experienced something similar in your own space.

Which raises the question Where is your problem area? Do you have an area that is constantly cluttered? Often clutter exists because the items don't have a home anywhere. 

Here are some tips to help you with your clutter:

  • First, ask whether any of the clutter is actually trash. (This happens with me all the time - an empty envelope I don't need, receipts, etc.) If it IS, then throw it out.
  • Second, ask whether it is something you need to file in some way. If you have an envelope because you wanted to copy down a friend's address, put that address in your address book and get rid of the envelope. If it is a receipt, statement, or bill that you need to file, FILE IT. 
  • Third, ask yourself if it's there because it's broken and needs to be fixed. If so, decide right now if you really want to get it fixed or you want to throw it out. If the former, then fix it or schedule a time to take it somewhere to be repaired. If the latter, throw it out.
  • Fourth, ask yourself if it's there because you mean to donate it or otherwise give it away. If it's a gift for someone, either give it to them or find a place in your house that you want to keep gifts and store it there. If it's a donation (or you are not sure you want to keep it but haven't decided yet), put it in a donation box. You can box up all the "maybes" in one box and stick them in a closet and if you don't feel compelled to rescue them within two or three months, donate what is left in that box. 
  • Fifth, ask if the item has a place it's "supposed to" live. If it does, put it there. If it doesn't, think about where you would like it to be. Can you find a shelf or drawer that it belongs on? A box, bin, or basket to contain it with its friends? Sometimes it's just that easy. Sometimes . . . it isn't. In that case, it may take some thinking or planning, or the purchase of a storage container. But hey -- if you've gotten this far, then hopefully you don't have too many un-homed items left.

One last bit of advice

 A throwback photo from when I first moved in with Morris.

A throwback photo from when I first moved in with Morris.

Above you see the note I wrote for myself (and posted in plain sight) when I was decluttering and downsizing and moving in with my sweetheart (who is now my husband of nearly 21 months). I had one sign at my old house, and one sign here, and I still have a copy of this posted in our walk-in closet where I can see it every day. It helped for me to have guidelines or criteria with which to make decisions. A hairbrush has purpose; a piece of jewelry might bring pleasure or beauty. Some things hit the trifecta, like a beautiful flower vase. But these guidelines really helped me with the sort of clutter where I had to decide whether to keep it or get rid of it (by donation, gift, recycling, or trash). 

And invariably, getting rid of some clutter will allow energy to flow a bit better in your space, and leave room for positive things to show up.

I  hope this helps at least one reader out there. I'd love to hear what space or clutter you're working on! Oh--and if you are at all interested in getting updates in your own inbox now and then, please sign up for my email list!

Weekend Fun

This weekend (August 18-19) is the Collingswood Crafts & Fine Art Festival, and I am super delighted (can you be super delighted? I think so!) to have been selected to be one of this year's participants. It's my first juried show, and I. Am. Stoked.

 You'll find me in Booth #6, down near Powell Street (and the Devil's Creek Brewery)!

You'll find me in Booth #6, down near Powell Street (and the Devil's Creek Brewery)!

I will be taking along a bunch of work at different price points, including some new pieces: Martha's Garden (30x40), Janet's Light (16x20), A Rose by Any Other (24x30) and Muriel's Garden (24" square). All four of the pieces are super high vibe florals:

I will also be bringing some of my more spiritual work, including a set of seven chakra lotuses mounted on a wooden plank, four 12"-square Buddhas, some framed goddess pieces, plus a large Buddha head and large Winged Goddess. Plus, of course, art tambourines and original collage  pieces and greeting cards and even some bookmarks that are original art on heavy watercolor paper. Below are the five Buddha pieces I'll be bringing - the first four are 12" square ($150 each), and the last one is 24" square ($900).

I sure hope the weather holds - it looks to be super nice and not too too hot - and that lots of folks roll out for the event! If you are in the area, please stop by!

Seven ways to clear and raise your own energy

In mid-June, just ahead of solstice, I shared a post with 5 ways to clear the energy in your home. Happy energy inside your home (or your workspace) is definitely a good thing, and helps to support positive energy for you and anyone else who lives, works, or visit there. But there are times when we all get bogged down. Maybe we are tired and hangry; maybe we've had one thing after another go wrong, or nothing is going our way; maybe we've been hanging out with people who drag us down.

I mean, all of that happens. And sometimes more than one of those things happens at once. It's easy when that occurs to lose a bit of our shine, and even to allow ourselves to wallow. After all, what can we do to change it?

Well, I'm glad I asked. Because I have some thoughts on this one. 

 Love, Breath, Air

Love, Breath, Air

First, do what you can to release any negative energy that may have attached to you (or been pushed on you) by other people or the general state of the world. Then, do what you can to raise your vibration (your own personal energy vibration) and get yourself into a better frame of mind. Here are some specific actions you can take to clear, raise, and protect your own energy levels

Salt baths: 

You could choose to literally wash away and neutralize negative energy by taking a salt bath: add two cups of Epsom salts to a warm-to-hot bath and soak for 20-30 minutes. Sea salt also works, and some folks swear by a combination of Epsom and sea salts; others add one quarter cup of baking soda to help neutralize chemicals present in the water (such as chlorine), though I'm not 100% clear on the science here. I typically add 8-10 drops of therapeutic-grade essential oils to my tub as well. Oils smell good, and they can have their own health benefits. Lavender is calming and relaxing; peppermint is invigorating and good if you have sinus issues or a headache. 

Epsom salts have all sorts of health benefits, since they are composed of magnesium sulfate: the magnesium is absorbed through the skin, and can help with migraines, digestive issues, and more. One trick is to keep your feet in the water during the bath to allow all that warmth and salt to wash around the reflexology points all over your feet. Another is to slide down and get the back of your neck into the water for a while as well, to allow the warm water to work its magic on any tension you carry there. And finally, pull the plug (or, more likely these days, flip the drain switch) while you are still in the tub and imagine any and all negativity washing away from you and down the drain. 

Happy tunes:

We all have different ones that we like, so I'm not giving you an exact playlist. But play the music that makes you smile, or makes you want to shake your groove thing. Bonus points to you if you actually shake it, since that will get the qi circulating in your body and circulating is better than stuck any day.

Go outside.

Yes. Outside is an amazing place. During the daytime there is sunshine (or the cleansing power of rain or snow), and at nighttime there are stars and the moon. Maybe you can't see them, but you can feel that they are up there. You can get some fresh air. Feel the breeze or wind (if there is any). And even in a city, you can find places where you can hear the birds as they call to one another. You can share some tree energy if you'd like (from admiring them to sitting in their cool shade to literally hugging them). But just being out in Nature is a proven energy booster. 

Exercise:

Good news! You can pair this one with being outside AND listening to happy music, for an energy-boosting trifecta! Turns out that getting a move-on, whether it's walking or running, Pilates, yoga or weight-lifting, hiking, biking, swimming, surfing, skiing, or tai chi, is not just good for your physical health; it's also good for your mental health and your energy levels. Yes, I get that you may be tired afterward and feel you have less energy than before you started, but the energy levels we're talking about are more like mood and state of mind. Those are likely to be elevated after exercise.

Meditate:

I mean, I'm sure you figured this would be on the list, right? And that's because meditation works. If you can't get around to exercising (and hey, I get that -- sometimes I am physically unable to do too much due to two chronic autoimmune conditions that cause pain and fatigue), meditation can be just as effective at helping your brain (there are studies on this) and can reduce pain, boost mood, and more. And there are some forms of exercise that marry meditation with movement, such as qigong, tai chi, or walking a labyrinth. Any form of regular meditation works to reduce stress and can improve mood and energy levels by detaching from other people (and their energy) and finding your own center. It helps to stabilize and recalibrate your own energy vibration. And it helps you remember that YOU are the one who gets to decide how to react and/or how to view things that happen in your life. When paired with any of the other energy tips in this post, you are bound to raise your own vibration.

Essential oils and crystals:

Possibly more "woo-woo" than some of the other items on the list, but so many people swear by these that I'd be remiss in not mentioning them. It turns out that essential oils each have their own energy vibrations, and those with high vibrations can raise a person's energy vibration. The same thing goes for crystals, which vibrate at their own frequencies as well. Some of them (black onyx, jet, black obsidian) are supposed to offer protection against negative energy; others such as rose quartz enhance love and reduce stress; amethyst helps to quiet the mind. I'm not going into great detail on these since there are so many oils and stones out there, but if either of those options appeals to you, by all means get in touch and I'll do what I can to point you in the right direction.

In closing

When I make my art, I first make sure that my studio is full of positive energy, often using the techniques I described in my solstice post. I also make sure that I'm in a good place energetically, and that I'm putting positive vibes into my artwork and my paint strokes or other techniques. It's my way of making art that vibrates at a high frequency.