Tidying Up and Some Tips from Kathleen

Most people desperately need to put their house in order. Unfortunately, the majority of them fail to embrace this as a “special event” and instead make do with rooms that are more like storage sheds. – Maria Kondo

Is your house like a giant storage shed?

Do you have clutter everywhere that is driving you crazy?

Do you stuff things in closets that you don’t want to deal with?

Do you wish you felt more peace in your home?

It is difficult concept to grasp that you are the boss and the employee of your home. We here at The Whole House get it. In fact we did a whole podcast on the subject. (You can find it here). We often think that some invisible “they” is in charge and we must do what “they” say. Another myth is the items we own are in charge of us. We move them. Stack them. Shove them in closets. All the while we desire some space to breathe or a peaceful place to relax. How do we get there? I don’t have all the answers, but here are some tips from someone who likes an uncluttered environment.

  1. The object is not the memory. Get rid of the object. Keep the memory. We often hang on to items because we want to remember the event. One of my girls loved to share candy wrappers, tickets, receipts (basically trash) in bulk in shoeboxes. They took over her closet. She could explain where each bit of paper came from. It took many years for her to understand that a scrap of paper is not a memory. On my live on Facebook last week, I shared how I helped my sister clean out a corner cabinet in her kitchen before a move. She had well over fifty plastic cups from various sporting events her family attended stuffed way back where no one could get to them. But, she could tell me which event they each came from. I’m not here to tell you to change your personality. Just change your perspective. If things like cups and tickets are valuable to you. If they “spark joy” for you , then find a way to display or store them. Use a scrapbook for tickets. Just ask yourself, “Is this item bringing value to me? To my home? To my family?”
  2. A gift is not a blessing if it is frustrating you by taking up space. This is a tough one. We all get those gifts that we aren’t sure what to do with. What if Aunt Mabelle comes over and the giant ceramic iguana she gifted you is not displayed? Will she be offended? If the item is taking up space, you don’t like it and looking at it frustrates you, give it away. Bless someone else with it or return it and get something you do like. Your home is your space. It should feel peaceful to you. If your closets and shelves are stuffed with “gifts that don’t bless you”, take control and do something about it.
  3. Have a specific space for everything. Store things where they make the most sense. Don’t keep paper clips in the laundry room because you have a cute basket.
  4. If you get it out, put it away. This is such a simple concept and yet we procrastinate. I am probably more adamant about this practice than most. Raising seven children, things got cluttered pretty quickly. I gave my kids daily room assignments. In each room, I posted an index card with the instructions for tidying the room.The instructions were detailed and simple: put all couch cushions away, pick up toys (whether they are yours or not), fold blankets, etc… This eliminates so much work and avoids confusion about expectations.  
  5. Purging is not a one and done deal. Although I love Maria Kondo’s idea of doing it all at once, you will have to do again until your habit changes (mine is still in process). This is because we aren’t just consumers. We are collectors.

People cannot change their habits without changing their way of thinking. -Maria Kondo

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 Step number one of Maria’s method with my two-cents thrown in:

  1. Clothing

Place all clothes in a pile. I do this on my bed. When sorting Maria says to hold an item and notice whether it “sparks joy.” If you are putting it in your go pile, thank it. If you need a Christian perspective on this – thank God for the item and pray it will bless someone else. I do hang my clothes a little differently than Maria suggests. I hang mine by color instead of grouping them by like items such as blazers, blouses.

Another practice I finish my sorting with is creating outfits with what I have. I call this shopping in my own closet.

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We women are famous for saying, “I have nothing to wear” when we have a closet full of clothes (raising my hand here). Take some time to sort and then put together some outfits. It will make you feel as if you went shopping!

Here’s a tip from Maria on folding:


Living with Grief

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.

At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.”

C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed


The picture is four by seven and we five siblings lean into each other, smiling. The funeral home is crowded with friends and family. The rich walnut wood work goes unnoticed. We are smothered in grief. Everyone loved my mother. It seemed as if everyone she had ever known was there. I felt numb and floaty.

er told me that grief felt so like fear

You may be reading and thinking my mom died recently. She didn’t. It has over twenty years. January 8th is her birthday. Every year I go through the same cycle. I begin the year with gusto, lists, a word, getting back to good habits and BAM, grief hits me out of nowhere and knocks the breath out of me. Grief sneaks up on you just when you think it has left. I have a few melancholy moments over Christmas when the scents, the music and putting up the tree triggers a memory, like Kathleen Kelly in You’ve Got Mail.

It sometimes takes me a day or two to recognize grief. It is not a stranger to me, but sometimes I don’t want to recognize it. I want it to stay a stranger in the shadows and leave me alone. My body aches. I weep at weird times. I’m an introvert, so I isolate. Because I’m adult and have some experience, although my epiphany may be delayed I recognize grief and call it out by name.

God gives us peace for this unfathomable pain.

But, peace is not an antidote for the pain, it is more likened to an antiseptic to keep the wound from festering, but the wound is still there, fresh and deep.

It’s okay to angry with God.

He can take it. Just don’t stay stuck there and let bitterness eat you up.  I remember when my mama’s death was so painful and fresh. I couldn’t figure out how to go on or why people were out shopping, eating, and just living when there was such a gaping void in my life.

The church tells us to rejoice that our loved one is in heaven and no longer suffering. That is true. However, we are the ones that have suffered loss. Don’t let anyone discount that. The pain is real. The void is there. What we humans must do is cope with the pain. Live with the pain. Remember the person. The time with her. The lessons taught. Celebrate the life that she lived. Don’t copy it completely per say. Find the guts to live the life the way you were meant to. I’m getting ahead of myself.

Grief must not be brushed aside. It must be practiced.

In the book a Severe Mercy, Sheldon Vanauken, practices grief through writing letters to his wife and listening to her favorite music. My mother-in-law wrote letters to her mother to practice grief.

Grief is different for each individual, but ignored only turns into bitterness or depression. We must practice grief, tell our story to an empathetic listener and often work through doing the things that person loved to do.

I participate in many of the traditions that my mother taught me. At first they are painful to the point of ugly crying, but after a season, they become a comfort.

Grief can give physical symptoms as well as emotional. Grief can knock the breath out of you. It’s not a one time event, its a process that must be practiced. Don’t shy away from grief. Practice it according to your personality. Do the things your loved one loved even if that means crying all the way through the process. Tears are cleansing. Healing is a job. Don’t be hard on yourself. Allow the feelings to wash over you and process them in your way- journal, listen to music, see a counselor, hike, paint, bake, whatever it is, do it with your whole heart and your whole heart will be on the road to healing.

Want to hear more on the subject of grief? Listen to our podcast:

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2019 Word of the Year – Immerse

*by Kathleen Guire

I started choosing a word a year many years ago because some friends told me about it. Actually God chose it for me. Some years it took months for me to hear it. Some years I tried to reason it out of existence. It would sneak into my thoughts again and once I wrote it down in my journal. About three years ago, I found out Debbie Macomber wrote a book –

One Perfect Word: One Word Can Make All the Difference,

I checked out of the library on cd and listened to it on a solo trip to South Carolina. I had lots of aha moments during the listen and wished I could write and drive. If you are wondering what all this “Word of the Year” stuff is, I recommend you read or listen to her book! On to my word.

From my journal:


Go deep. Hold your breath.

Go under. Come up breathless.

Enjoy the ride.

Take the plunge.

Do things that are exhilarating.

Get out of your comfort zone.


Immerse- 1. Dip or submerge in a liquid. 2. Involve oneself deeply in a particular activity or interest. Absorb, engross in, engage in, lose oneself in, involve with, bury in, swamp with, occupy with, fixate on.


Roaring deep calls to roaring deep at the thinger of your water spouts: all Your breakers and YOur roaring waves have gone over me. – Psalm 42: 7

Deep calls to deep.

When you go deeper, you are more prone to deep thunder, water power.

Breakers, waves- power surges.

I think of waves crashing over me at the beach. I have had waves of fear wash over me. Wouldn’t it be cool to have waves of joy? I’ve had waves of revelation. Wouldn’t it be cool to have bigger waves of revelation wash over me? I have sometimes had huge waves of revelation, but in order to have these, I have to set aside the time to dig deep. To immerse myself. Guess what? This is free for those who ask for it!

“Wait and listen everyone who is thirsty! Come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Yes, come, buy [priceless, spiritual] wine and milk without money and without price [simply for the self-surrender that accepts the blessing].

Why do spend your money for that which is not bread and your earnings for what does not satisfy? Hearken diligently unto Me, and eat what is good and let your soul delight itself in fatness [the profuseness of spiritual joy].”


Thank you for the Word this year and for the opportunity and invitation to go deep and immerse myself in your word. Thank you that immersion will bleed into other areas of my life and my soul will delight in joy.



Would you like to be part of The Case of the Missing Person Launch Team?


When 12 year old Sera is adopted from Colombia, it opens a whole new batch of mysteries for her to solve. This Nancy Drew loving tween and her best friend Mandy are itching to solve a big mystery. Join them as Sera attempts to navigate social media and discover some clues about her long lost Colombian friend, Isabella. Celebrate with her as she learns the joy of having a family, even if some of them aren’t always happy having a sister. You don’t want to miss the plot twist at the end!

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Want to join the pre-read team? It’s simple. Just comment. Follow The Whole House by email and I’ll send you a pdf copy of the book to read. What do I ask in return? A review. That’s it. And if you really like the book, you could share it on your social media along with any promotional materials I put out on my the page.


The Case of the Missing Person releases February 14th, so don’t wait. Comment today! I’ll continue to post about the book on social media, so watch for those.


In this age of social media, we want to teach our kids the benefits as well as the dangers of sharing too much. What better way to share than reading someone else’s story. Sera, a Nancy Drew loving middle schooler is new to the social media concept. Your child can learn through her story instead of you just giving directives. Here’s a snippet of Sera’s take on social media:

“Mandy said she could help me with social media, whatever that was. She had logged into my Kindle and signed me up for Facebook. It had pictures of peoples faces. I wasn’t sure exactly how to use it. I was scrolling-that’s what Mandy called it. I just looked at pictures of people. I didn’t know how to find Isabella that way, so I just kept looking. Mandy showed me how to comment. I didn’t have many “friends.” That’s what you called them. She helped me friend some of her friends from homeschool co-op. I hadn’t officially started going there yet. I’m sure I would meet more people there to question.

People took these things called “selfies.” Weird. Basically, it meant they took photos of themselves all the time. Drinking coffee. After exercising. Eating food. I finally understood what a “post” meant. Once a person took a photo, they posted it in weird places like Snapchat or Twitter (That one makes me  laugh. You tweet. How funny is that?) and Instagram.”


You can share your reviews with me via email positiveadoption@gmail.com. I will use the first three in the book or on the back cover (due by January 21st). If that’s not your jive, just save your review and post it on Amazon February 14th!

Don’t know where to find me?

Instagram and Facebook.



BY JESSICA McHUGH SOAR FITNESS STUDIO EMAIL: soarfitnessstudio@yahoo.com

First, let’s look at some facts about resolutions/goals. About 49-50% of Americans make them at the beginning of every New Year. Of those millions of people, only 40% of them are still applying them in June. That essentially means that 60% of people FAIL. That’s a lot. The number 1 commonly broken resolution is…. lose weight and get fit.

Hopefully, the information below will help you succeed if you have made a resolution going this new year.

Make your goals attainable.

Sure, it sounds great to say that you are going to lose 50 or more pounds by the time summer rolls around. Is that possible? Sure. Likely? Not so much. Studies of goal-setting are pretty universal in saying that the more manageable your goals are, the more likely you are to succeed. It’s also important to keep in mind that when you set a goal to lose weight, you are not 100% sure how your body is going to react. It’s a lot of trial and error. You HAVE to do your research and revise your expectations, especially if you have not done this in awhile, or are completely new to the idea. Having an attainable goal also can indicate how you do in your future endeavors. Research shows that people who don’t meet their goals are more than likely to fail in subsequent attempts. They begin to tell themselves that it is impossible to do. They will only remember their failures and not their victories. Once they fail, it makes it hard to start again.

Make your goals attainable

Have an accountability partner(s).

Who has tried to be their own accountability partner? How did that work out for you? You probably just answered, “it didn’t”. That’s because accountability is KEY for your success and one of the most powerful principles you can follow on your quest. Just knowing that someone is going to ask you how you are doing on your goals will more than likely do the trick. You can keep it simple. You can find 1 or more people (family, co-workers, friends, a virtual buddy, ANYONE) and set in stone how often you will ‘check in’ with each other. It can be daily, or even weekly. You don’t have to make a production about it, you can do it over email, facebook message, support groups, whatever. YOU JUST MUST DO IT!!! I know for me personally, I love my support group I run on facebook. It’s a group of like minded woman that check in daily with what we’ve done to help meet our goals. I can tell you that it absolutely helps keep me motivated. On days that I just don’t feel like getting off of the couch to exercise, I log in to facebook and see them talking about their workouts and it inspires me to do the same. ** If you are interested in this group I will gladly add you. Email me or private message me on facebook. https://www.facebook.com/jessica.s.mchugh **

Give yourself some slack.

You are going to screw up. AND THAT’S OK!! If you eat something that you shouldn’t during a meal, don’t think that your whole day is ruined. If you do, research shows that people will say to themselves things like, I’ll just start again tomorrow, next week or next month. And how many people actually start back up? It is better to acknowledge the mistake and IMMEDIATELY get back on track. I, personally, hate the idea of a “cheat day”. I think that “cheat meals” are perfectly acceptable and much needed for most people to stay on track but whole days dedicated to “cheating”? NO. One meal with a slice of pizza or 2 is in NO way a legitimate reason to give up on a weight loss goal altogether.

Commit to change.

 Changing our routine is HARD. EXTREMELY HARD. That’s why 60% of people fail. It’s easier to sit on the couch than get up and workout. It’s easier to go through a drive-thru than it is to cook yourself a healthy and balanced meal. That is why it’s a MUST to sit down BEFORE you start and MAP OUT what will be different about your life and how you will manage that change.

Let’s say you eat out with your friends/family once a week. How will you now manage to do that with your new lifestyle? You will get frustrated and quit if you think that you will, for some reason or another, have to give that up. Instead, HAVE A PLAN. Figure out what works best for you. A couple examples would be:

– Work out a little harder in the morning in order to indulge


– Eat before you leave your house that way you’ll be less likely to binge eat all the food.

– Use portion control and moderation. Do things like having one less glass of wine or skipping the bread.

Make it visual.

 Start by writing down your goals. (Again, make them attainable) Why write them down?

– It will force you to be specific about what you want. – It will help you plan accordingly. – It will motivate you to take action. – It will help you overcome resistance. – It will help you see & celebrate your progress. 75% of what we write down, goal wise, happens. It sets the brain in motion. Always use the word ‘will’ instead of words like ‘would like to’. For example, “I will exercise for at least 30 minutes daily”. “I will eat clean the best that I possibly can”. I personally like to do this weekly. On Sundays. Goal setting is an ongoing activity and if done correctly, should be ever changing. Once you cross off a goal that you’ve achieved, what would you have to strive for if you didn’t then add another goal? The end goal may remain similar over the long term but your map to get there can change significantly.

Declare it.

 You don’t have to tell everyone that you know, take out an ad in the newspaper or even make an updated facebook status about it but telling SOMEONE what you are going to achieve and by when will remind yourself of your goal and help keep your eyes on the prize. It will give you confidence in yourself and your ability to achieve your goal. It helps others believe in you also. These 3 people just may end up being in your accountability circle. If you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect others to believe in you. Declaring your goals on a regular basis will provide yourself with the strength, courage, and emotional fortitude required to see them through.

Keep trying.

What happens if mid February comes around and you want to quit? The answer is simple, DON’T. Instead, look at the list above and start fresh. Re-evaluate your goals. If you are not writing down your goals frequently, it’s easy to lose sight of them and they may seem too far to reach. Recommit yourself for 24 hours or a week. By doing this the short time increments will soon build on each other and before you know it you’ll be back on track.

I truly wish you all the best of luck and want to offer my services to help you reach your goals in the new year. Once again you can email me with any questions at soarfitnessstudio@yahoo.com or find me on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jessica.s.mchugh 

– Jessica McHugh, Owner & CPT

Soar Fitness Studio 729 Fairmont Ave Suite 99 Westover, WV 26501 vagaro.com/soarfitnessstudio 

Want to hear Jessica talk about the subject of goals and resolutions? Listen to this week’s podcast!

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May each and every one of you have a blessed New Year!