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Live Life Fully: For better balance, try 'ordering in'

By Linda Arnold

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I've been running on empty lately. It seems my life's been "out of order."

Too many commitments, scheduled activities and back-to-back trips out of town. After a while, they take their toll.

I know my outer world is a mirror of what's taking place in my internal world, so I started to examine the chaos to make sense of it all. I decided I don't need any more speeding tickets to remind me!

We all know it feels better to have things in order. I often give thanks for systems in my life that are "there" for me.

And, yet, I've allowed the chaos to dominate lately -- and I haven't kept the systems in place to accommodate the overload. Maybe you can relate.

My research led me back to one of my all-time favorite books, "Simple Abundance." Author Sarah Ban Breathnach provides a reading for each day, divided into sections of six principles:

  • Gratitude
  • Simplicity
  • Order
  • Harmony
  • Beauty
  • Joy
  • "These are the six threads of abundance living which, when woven together, produce a tapestry of contentment that wraps us in inner peace, well being, happiness and a sense of security," she says. To which my weary soul responds, "Put me in, Coach!"

    I'll cut right to the chase with the concept of order because this is what's screaming most loudly to me.

    "Whenever I'm feeling overwhelmed by outside circumstances -- worries about money, concern over a sick family member, or anxiety over prolonged business negotiations -- instinctively I turn to homegrown rituals to restore my equilibrium," says the author. "There is an immediate emotional and psychological payoff to getting our houses in order."

    That's when it hit me: I need to "order in." While we can't always control what's happening externally in our lives, we can learn to look to our own inner resources for a sense of comfort that nurtures and sustains us.

    If you're constantly feeling adrift and don't know why, you might want to explore the role that order, or the lack of it, plays in your life.

    Seven warning signs

    1. Are you forgetting appointments?

    2. Are you misplacing things more often?

    3. Are you noticing more clutter around you -- at home, at the office, in your car?

    4. Do you seem to have a shorter fuse?

    5. Are people around you starting to annoy you?

    6. Are you having trouble sleeping? Or staying awake in the middle of the day?

    7. Are you starting to feel hopeless about "getting it all done"?

    If you answered "yes" to two or more of these questions, you're an ideal candidate for "ordering in."

    And we're in the perfect season. Spring cleaning can also refer to a psychological sweep -- a timeout to confront the emotional clutter that's accumulated in our mental closets.

    One way to start seeking order within is to come to grips with what drives us crazy, but what we've been too distracted to do anything about, teaches "Simple Abundance." Run a video of your typical day through your mind and view the person hanging on at the end of the rope with compassion.

    What parts make you cringe? It could be anything from rushing off to work convinced that you've forgotten something you need, to never finding anything that's suitable to wear, to that gnawing feeling that you're spinning too many plates and one of them may fall any second now.

    All these situations cry out for order, just as our fragmented souls do. Here are a few tips. Start "ordering in" by bookending your days with reflections first thing in the morning and last thing at night. You can make the choice every morning to live in the world but not be caught up in the frenzy of it, especially a frenzy of your own making.

    Now, to get your toolbox ready. For the morning bookend, think about the day ahead and how it might unfold more smoothly. Keep some inspirational readings close by. You'll be amazed at what five minutes can do to help you set the stage -- and to restore your soul. The important thing is consistency. Over time your mind, body and spirit will begin to trust you'll provide this sustenance on an ongoing basis.

    Same thing in the evening, just a few moments of reflection will do. I have a note under the glass on my nightstand that says, "Today was a good day." And I drift off to sleep every night with an affirmation by author Louise Hay: "All is well. Everything is working out for my highest good. Out of this situation only good will come. And I am safe and protected always."

    This past Memorial Day weekend, I "unplugged" for the most part, and I found myself relishing the silence. Every once in a while, I'd stop and ask myself, "What's that sound?" And then I'd respond, "Oh, that's quiet." The long weekend definitely provided some much-needed soul balm.

    The big takeaway for me is that I don't need to have a three-day weekend to recharge my batteries. The trick is to keep them charged with daily doses of self-care in small but consistent increments -- and not to run myself ragged to the point that I need intensive care!

    As "Simple Abundance" points out, "You may not believe this, but Mother Time does not rush. Seven o'clock does not tell six o'clock, "Get a move on -- there are places to go, people to see, emails to send."

    It's just not on the "order in" menu.

    Linda Arnold, MBA, is a certified wellness instructor and chairwoman/CEO of The Arnold Agency, a marketing communications company specializing in advertising, public relations, government relations and interactive marketing. Reader comments are welcome and may be directed to Linda Arnold, The Arnold Agency, 117 Summers St., Charleston, WV 25301, or emailed to livelifefully@arnoldagency.com.


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