Renee TarantowskiFeb 5, 2018

How much is too much?

The basement project . . .

 has been a game changer in so many aspects of my life.

Clearing out the old, unwanted, unused, unneeded . . . as I was getting rid of stuff, I was also getting rid of my old habits that were not serving me.  

Through tears . . . sometimes just one and at other times that hysterical ugly cry, the tears were cleansing.  The water that cleans the dishes each night and load after load of clothes . . . my inner water is also cleansing.  

Help from Friends

Many friends have suggested that I read Marie Kondo's book.  So I wrote about it:

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

This is the title of the book my friends keep referencing for me. I thought it was a load of crap but decided to schlep to the library and pick it up. Standing among neatly stacked books, I skimmed a book about achieving a neatly kept house.

The book, was not a complete load of crap, but did not resonate with me. It has worked for my friends but it didn’t work for me and this is why.

How could a single, Japanese woman, living in a tiny apartment offer any advice on how to tidy up. My chef mentor was a Japanese woman — I know how tidy and precise she was and I imagine Marie Kondo (the author) and Tameko Cowen (the chef) had a Japanese mindset that most Americans do not have. Mommason (Tameko) insisted that I do things precisely her way — we worked in a galley kitchen 8 feet by 4 feet. In that tiny space there was no room for anything to be out of place. The walk in cooler adjacent to our work space was much bigger and I would often escape into the frigid cold. Mommason tried her best to teach me the ways of her country but I was too American. She did teach me how to embrace and respect another culture and for that I am grateful.

I am, by nature, a very organized, neat, tidy, person. When I was single living in a tiny apartment, everything had its place. It was a no-brainer. I imagine that both as single women Marie and I would be fast friends. I can also imagine the strain on our relationship as my family grew to six and she wrote a book about my past life with a clean apartment.

Kondo and a Messy Husband

When Marie Kondo did get married, she didn’t have a messy husband. She has a husband who enjoys neat and tidy AND he cooks all the meals. Again, her life and my life are not resonating.

The Kondo Philosophy

This part I like . . . the idea is that you pile up all of your similar belongings, pick up each item, pondering “Does this sparks joy?” If not, express thanks and get rid of it.

Picture this: I load up all of my shirts, some dating back over 30 years from High School and I ask myself do they spark joy. To tackle this job I would need lots and lots of adult beverages! or a match. Why is it so hard? I love the concept but the ringer is I don’t purchase my belongings with this mindset so getting rid of them in this way doesn’t always work.

If we buy something to make us happy . . . our mindset when we get rid of it is that we will be unhappy. We need to change our purchase/buying mindset.

The Other Problem with the Kondo Philosophy

“Does this spark joy?”

This is where Americans get lost. We don’t know what f-ing joy is!!!

We can’t ask a shirt if it brings us joy if we don’t know what makes our hearts sing and our soul dance.

We need to know what joy is. We need to know what a “spark” feels like. We don’t, we are sad, lonely and own way too much shit!! Our joy is buried in the hoard.

Should you Kondo your kids?


The day after my birthday in 2017, the Wall Street Journal published and article by that name. I read it. Finally, Marie Kondo came over to the other side — frigging reality.

“Ms. Kondo says she has realized her method needs a tweak for parents with kids because it is unrealistic.” No shit.

Here is another great quote, “Ms. Kondo says she isn’t the nagging type and values what makes her children joyful. For example, when my daughter is crying, I try to ask her what she wants and fulfill her wishes as much as possible.”

Ok, we all have different parenting styles but just as Marie’s tidying was unrealistic I think her parenting needs a reality check as well. What will bring her daughter joy is stuff that the other kids have!

I did find it interesting that she declined a tour by the WSJ.

Final Thoughts

As we go through life we think we have the answers. Mark Twain has a great quote that says it better than I can:

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

We are all walking each other home . . . Mommason, Me and Marie.

Until we meet again.

Renee TarantowskiJan 28, 2018

How I Figured Out My Purpose

Hint: Every season of our lives has a common thread

I do what I love!

I’ve always been asked “How can you be so happy?” In a life that has been riddled with yucky situations, broken hearts, death, being abused, dishonored, disrespected . . . the list goes on and on.

You know what?

It doesn’t matter what happens to me, it matters how I respond and I choose love.

My response has always been to do what I love and be loving. Always.

The Seasons of My Life

The 20’s

In my 20’s I did it all. I graduated college, fell in love way too many times, had my own catering company, worked as a pastry chef, I had the honor to be a cancer researcher, hospital administrator, lived on a farm, became a freelance writer, ran 1/2 marathons for fun, cleaned houses, was homeless, worked 2nd shift in a nursing home, went back to school to get a MS in toxicology, worked at so many restaurants and delis in Ann Arbor . . . the common thread is I stepped into each role with unlimited energy, excitement and understood the potential of the moment. Each opportunity was teaching me what I needed to know for the next opportunity.

The 30's

In my 30’s I focused more on my writing — freelancing and working as a contract medical writer for several pharmaceutical companies (at the same time). Once again I went back to school, this time for Early Childhood Education and started working with kids with special needs. It felt right.

I settled down, got married and started a family. The time was right and a dream come true to be a Mom. I quit work, never looked back and enjoyed every moment with my babies. I adored being a Mom.

The 40's

In my 40’s I continued to have a few more kids. Being a full time mom was exactly how I wanted to “do” motherhood. Homemade baby food, cloth diapers, exploring the arts, culture, swimming, having daily adventures with my growing brood was my passion. I had never felt more alive and fulfilled.

I never once questioned what I was doing with my life. Sure people told me I was doing things wrong, that I needed to do this or that — but I ignored them because I was in my glory. I was doing what I loved. Everyday.

The late 40’s early 50's

During this time I did become restless. I stopped listening to my own voice that told me that motherhood was the perfect vocation for me. I fell into the trap of the internet, Social Media and the naysayers who thought I should try and monetize this life I loved. They said everyone would want the joy that I had. Foolishly I believed them.

Joy comes from within — you can’t buy, borrow or steal it. You can’t teach it. You feel it.

The Trap

I took a few online classes that insured that I would make money if I followed their guidelines . . . guess what. It didn’t work.

You know why?

My purpose can’t be monetized. My love of life, my wanting a beautiful looking table with fresh flowers from my garden, my desire to love and understand my children and husband with unconditional love, my loyalty to my friends . . . that is priceless.

I did try. I built the websites. I started the business. I worked tirelessly on getting followers and building my email lists. I hated every second of it. I was told I had to do more. Create the membership site, have a webinar, build a course. None of that is me.

I lost sight of my purpose, to live a life of love.

What now?

I’m living fully and writing again without expectations.

I’m published now in two books. I write about mindful living. I have plans for writing my own books.

I love my family and cook amazing meals. I grow my own food. I may actually complete a knitting project this year.

I create the most meaningful and beautiful jewelry I have ever seen — each piece is born of my imagination and my own hands.

I’m so happy. I’ve never been happier.

I create and love — that’s my purpose.

The Season of Now

This current season of my life is about living each moment in a mindful way. To meet each moment with love. To cast away worry about what I will do next because I know in my heart, the next right thing will present itself. An idea will come to me and I’ll write. A vision will flash before my eyes and I will create it in metal and gems. The seasonal harvest offers a culinary challenge.

I no longer listen to the people who tell me I need to monetize, membershipize, or get a zillion followers. What I need to do is placed before me and I will joyfully and lovingly create.

Full Time Mom

I love my job as full time Mom. It is what fuels my passion. I have no desire to be anywhere else. The only thing I’ve ever wanted to be is my kids mom.

Part Time Writer

Writing part time on my own terms is the perfect for this season of my life. I am free to write about mindfulness from the most mindful place — my loving home.

Part Time Jewelry Designer

Rubies, opals, the blow torch, hammers, saws, the smell of incense as I work. I am able to create works of art that help people on their own spiritual path. Does it get better than that?

My Common Thread

Creating, learning, growing (literally and figuratively), re-doing, starting over, seeing the beauty in everything my eyes gaze upon — these are my common threads that have woven a life of incredible opportunities and experiences. I love this life.

What about you?

I invite you to write out the common threads in your own seasons. I’m sure you will see what you love, what lights you up, when you feel your best — that my friend is your purpose.

Don’t Discount Anything

I had a friend, Ken. He was a taxi driver and the best one in the world. He love meeting new people. He loved driving. He loved his life. When Ken was put in a nursing home that didn’t stop him for connecting with people, he knew every name of every person who came into his room, their pets names, sibling and where they went on vacation. When you met Ken, you felt like you met your best friend. That was his gift.

He didn’t make a million dollars but he did change the life of everyone he met. What an extraordinary life he had.

I know another man, a teacher. He is gentle, loving, kind and humble. He changes the life of his students everyday. He loves history and shares that with his students in such a beautiful way they want to learn more. He turns on the learning button for kids, his ripple effect will never end.

The list of people that I know, and probably you know goes on and on. When you meet someone who is doing what they are supposed to do . . . love overflows.

I could go on and on with the many people who understand the common thread or purpose in their life. They let meeting new people, humbleness, or love permeate everything they did.

Take Your Time

Life is not a sprint. Be still. Quiet your mind. Take a walk outside. Whatever it takes for you to take a look at your life from your own lens. Sit with this idea of what you will do with this one miracle of a life.

I trust that you will be shown your purpose for this season of your life.

Be Blessed as you are a blessing.

Until we meet again.

Renee TarantowskiJan 4, 2018

The Basement Project (Day 3)

Is it day 3 of the full force basement project?

 I think so.

I woke up early, had my usual morning routine--including the 30-minute elliptical workout, despite a sore butt and calves.  I did it anyway.  

You know what?  

It was so easy today that I didn't even realize my time was up.  How crazy is that?  Granted, I'm not doing 5-minute miles up Mt. Everest . . . but I've not used the elliptical with any regularity since last spring.  I love being outside and not in the basement.

Especially a basement that is cluttered and unorganized.  

Recently I wrote an article on Medium about grabbing 2018 by the cojones and making it a great year--but I have a few things that are standing in my way.  A few things that are bigger than me.  Like . . . going through everything that I have boxed up in the basement and deciding if I will ever knit that sweater, make that baby scrapbook, sew that quilt and countless other odds and ends.  I thought of them as failures or reminders of the life that I wanted to live but couldn't.  The dread of the going through the stuff has overwhelming for me, the personal disappointment for projects undone and money spent.  

This situation that I have found myself in is not a new one.  In my adult life, I have almost always had a storage unit OR a large part of the house that was used for storage.  

And it isn't until just writing this, as I'm thinking back to . . .  when I began storing my life in boxes. Living out of boxes.  Homeless in my own home.  Uggghh.  At this time, I can't share all the thoughts that just through my mind but one day I will.  Sorting through life, sorting through boxes, deciding what to keep, what to pitch, what to give away AND the most important thing:

Getting rid of what was never mine but somehow I ended up with it.  

Renee TarantowskiJan 2, 2018

The Planner

I am a planner.

I am a list maker and checker off-er.

I get shit done.  Slow and steady.

This year I have the same planner I have (not) used the last several years.  I start out just fine and then . . . I stop.  Why would that be?

I gave it some time in meditation and long cold walks with Dexter and I had a glint of insight.

The planner ends up being for everyone else's plans.  The kids' schedules, Eric's schedule, even the frigging vet appointments make MY planner.  But not my own plans, my hopes, my deep desires and passionate longings. Somehow along the way, I stopped planning my life despite getting the planner.  

A disconnect.

This is how I know this year will be different for me.  I'm taking back planning my life.  I'm putting myself into my own planner.  My hopes, desires, wants, needs, passions.

How am I doing?

2 days in and I feel like I can live out the desires of my heart and the practice that makes my soul sing.  My planner is divided with family stuff and my stuff with a strong balance.  Some days will be kid heavy and some days will be Renee heavy with every day filled with love--and so it is.

Renee TarantowskiDec 24, 2017

Christmas Eve

Living each moment as if it were the last.  

The food, the table setting, the gifts, the flowers, candles, cookies . . . everything has been carefully chosen and prepared with deep love and intention.

← Newer Posts

Server IP: