Monday, February 25, 2013

SoulSpace Book Review & Top 5 Quotes

I'm really glad that I made Xorin Balbes' SoulSpace one of my top ten goal related books to read in 2013. I totally enjoyed reading his book and wish I could hire him to help me with my own home. He clearly has a gift for bringing out his clients' true selves and helping them achieve their dream spaces.

Although I borrowed the book from my local library, I'm considering buying a copy to keep as a reward for creating space in my bookshelves (of course, first I will have to make that space). While I'm not at a place to implement his system right now, after I've finished decluttering our home, I do plan to try it. When I do, I plan to revisit each chapter, reading the relevant stage and implementing it before moving on to the next one. I think following his plan will bring me closer to achieving my home vision.

His process consists of eight stages: 1) Assess 2) Release 3) Cleanse 4) Dream 5) Discover 6) Create 7) Elevate 8) Celebrate. Xorin Balbes is very inspirational and encouraging and I loved all the personal examples from his own life and from his clients' lives.

Here are five of his quotes and questions that I found most inspiring:
  • "Every day you're alive is a special occasion." page 88
  • "Who are you in your wildest dreams?" page 107
  • "What do you have that you could be using more or better or differently?" page 118
  • "Be clear about what you dislike about your home and what you want from it. Then make it what you want." somewhere between page 123 - 134
  • "Let yourself create the environment you dream of so you can begin to create the life you want to live." page 135
Best wishes to you in creating your own SoulSpace! May God bless you and all those who enter your home!

Full links (embedded above and/or related to the article above): 
My personal home vision post :
Easy exercise motivation trick: 
Clutter Clean in 2013 Facebook community:
My 2013 reading goals: 

Friday, February 22, 2013

16 Minute Desk Decluttering Project

I love quick and easy decluttering and organizing projects that immediately make a difference. Above is a photo of my desk after I spent 16 minutes (and one second) decluttering, cleaning and organizing it.  That 16 minutes included removing everything but the computer, emptying my trash can, putting in a new trash can liner (a repurposed plastic grocery bag), purging the clutter, categorizing what I decided would go back, dusting everything that needed it, going in the closet twice for dust rags (I needed more than I thought I would!) and putting everything that really belongs somewhere else away or into a basket for distribution later (which took 3 minutes). I started by putting everything where it goes but then remembered that I find it more efficient to do all the putting away it at once (instead of running from room to room every time I see something that belongs elsewhere). 

Below is the "before" picture of my cluttered desk.  As you can see, it's kind of busy and there's too much stuff out. My trash can (right hand bottom corner) is an overstuffed eyesore.

It's surprising what you can accomplish in around 15 minutes. I have a tendency to leave things out to remind myself to do them. That's something I'm working on combating to promote a more peaceful environment. Instead of having a pile of stuff on my desk I can put the things where they belong and make a note on my calendar to do them.

Below is the "after" picture. Ahh, much better!

Although water will go back when I'm at the computer and my working notebooks will be out when I'm working (they're tucked to the left of the hard drive right now), this is a much more attractive space. I kept only what I really use or love and moved all the "reminders" (books I've finished reading but intend to review, cds to be ripped, etc.) to more appropriate places. It's a lot nicer at my desk now. I'm glad I took the 16 minutes to declutter and organize it.

I hope this inspired you in some way! If so, I'd love to hear about it. You're also welcome to join my clutter busting Facebook community. Whatever your goals, may God bless you and keep you!

Full links: 
My personal home vision post :
Easy exercise motivation trick:
Clutter Clean in 2013 Facebook community:
My 2013 reading goals: 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

My Home Vision & New Series on Decluttering and Organization

I find it helps to have a vision whenever I'm trying to accomplish something. One of my big resolution goals for this year is to declutter and organize my home. But the driving force behind that goal is my home vision.

Phyllis' Home Vision: A beautiful, peaceful haven where love reigns, God is honored, and my husband and guests feel appreciated and welcome.

The whole vision statement is a bit long so sometimes I just focus on the two words in bold, "peaceful haven." For me, peacefulness includes cleanliness and organization. Life is more peaceful when I can find what I need when I need it. A haven includes beauty, a place to relax and rejuvenate and quiet from the outside word. While our home needs a lot of work, it feels good to make progress! But it's a process and I'm battling multiple health challenges while trying to turn my vision into reality. So if you're a praying person I'd appreciate your prayer support for my health challenges and homemaking pursuits. If there's something you'd like me to pray for please comment below or email me at and I'll be honored to pray for you.

There are plenty of great places like on the web for people looking to declutter, but I figured that some of my own friends were also looking for a place of mutual support so yesterday I started a free Facebook community called Clutter Clean in 2013 and you're welcome to "like" the page and join in the fun. My hope is that we'll spur each other on to success and provide an atmosphere of encouragement for one another there.

Do you  have a home vision? If so, I'd love to hear it! And how you use it too.

May God bless you!

Full link to Clutter Clearing in 2013:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Lovely Winter Moment Haiku (Short Poem)

Image by JulesInKY

A Lovely Winter Moment Haiku Poem 

Lifting my head up
Clouded sunshine warms my face
As snowflakes dance by

This weekend while I was looking out a window I simultaneously felt the sun on my face and saw snowflakes flying by horizontally (it was windy). I guess there was just enough of a hole in the clouds for the sun to warm my face. It really was a lovely winter moment; like a kiss from God.

Have you had a lovely winter moment? I'd love to hear about it!

May the God of all peace bless you today!

PS You can see more of my haikus here:

Note: Poem written 2-17-13 by me (Phyllis Wheeler)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Cute Green Bird Video Drives My Cats Crazy!

Blue-Crowned Hanging-Parrot Photo By Ben Wheeler
I took this cute little bird video (below) at the Smithsonian National Zoo's Bird House today. The bird house is a fantastic place to visit in cold wintry weather. The birds are beautiful and usually quite a few are active.

Another one of the birds was making loud sounds and this cute, beautiful and funny little parrot seemed to respond by grooming itself on the branches of the tree in which it rested. The video is cute enough on its own, but I found that with the sound on it makes my cats come running and they love watching it! I hope it makes you smile and maybe entertains your cats too (I'd love to hear about it if it does!). In our house it's definitely a cat magnet!

Our God is amazing in His creativity! This little bird is another testament to that. May God bless you!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day & Funny Cat Photos

Moose the cat doesn't appreciate her Valentine monkey
Happy Valentine's Day! I thank God for my wonderful husband who showers me with love every day of the year but also takes the time to make Valentine's Day special! I admire and love him beyond what I ever thought possible! Thank you for loving me, Ben!

I hope you are blessed with someone special to love today! If you aren't you could still make the day special for someone else. You could call, write or visit someone who is suffering, volunteer at a charity that speaks to your heart or otherwise reach out and make the world a more loving place. In addition to helping others, you'll probably feel happier for having done so.

My cats weren't too interested in their annual Valentine's Day photo shoot but I thought some of the photos were still funny and/or cute so here are my favorite five. I hope they make you smile. 

I suspect Moose (our old, fuzzy cat) is thinking, "Just hand over the treats already. How many pictures do you need anyway?" I almost titled this photo "Anti-Valentine Cat"

Here Moose the cat is yawning (looks ferocious though, doesn't she?) and Baby cat is just watching and waiting. I think I've spoiled them with post photo treat expectations.

Baby cat did enjoy marking the prop Valentine bags though (I think I made that wire "Love" decoration in 2011).

Moose the cat tried to eat the Love wire art decoration so I ended the photo session. These two cats bring a lot of love and joy into our lives. May God fill your heart with His love and joy on this Valentine's Day and always!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Snowy Morning in Maryland

I took these photos a snowstorm or two ago but figure better late than never with the posting. I hope to post some zoo and flower photos to brighten your winter over the next few weeks too.  Above is one of our bushes covered in snow and glowing with soft morning light.

I think this is our variegated mondo grass. It looks nicer covered in snow than without the snow. I love how things look purer and more graceful when covered with fresh snow.

These four birds took turns feeding and watching for predators. Their activity knocked the snow off of the top of the feeder but it's still piled on top of the seeds inside the feeder.

Snowy sunrise in a Maryland suburban neighborhood.

Hope you enjoyed my snowy photos and that you and yours are safe and warm. Please join me in praying for all those who aren't. May God bless and provide for them and may He bless you too!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Native Trails Performance Photos By Barry Walker

Copyright © by R. Barry Walker, February 2013; Used with permission
I'm thrilled to share Barry Walker's fabulous photos of the Native Trails performance at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Someday, I'd love to see this in person. In the meantime, I thought you all would appreciate this vivid glimpse into Native American performing arts to brighten your day and bless your soul. You can see more of Barry's fantastic photos and get details on these photos at his travel blog.

Copyright © by R. Barry Walker, February 2013; Used with permission
Barry explains, "Every spring, the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts presents a lunchtime concert called Native Trails It features Hopi, Navaho, Apache and Pima dancers and musicians."  The warrior dance is pictured above.

Copyright © by R. Barry Walker, February 2013; Used with permission
 Amazing eagle dance is captured above.

Copyright © by R. Barry Walker, February 2013; Used with permission
Native American Flute performance. You should be able to hear Barry's video of the beautiful flute music by clicking this link (it said it was set to public).

Copyright © by R. Barry Walker, February 2013; Used with permission
 Skillful hoop dancing by "Derrick Suwainha Davis, a five-time World Champion."
Copyright © by R. Barry Walker, February 2013; Used with permission
Mr. Davis in spectacular full ceremonial dress

Hearty thanks to my friend Barry for sharing his photos and to Native Trails performers for sharing their culture with us. May God bless them and may He bless you too!

What trip have you always wanted to make? What travel experience sticks in your mind as the best? 

Full links and sources:

I have no material connection with Barry Walker or the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts and wasn't asked to write this post. All opinions are my own. Quotes are taken from Barry's Facebook page and blog.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Never a "One" & Free Inspirational Art

Today on my prayer walk the phrase of the Beatles' song "One is the Loneliest Number" played through my head. This surprised me because, even though I was walking by myself, I wasn't lonely. I wasn't even alone. God is always with me. I am never a "one!" And then I realized that God was giving me a post for today.

Dear friend, YOU are NEVER ALONE! At least you don't have to be. If you are a born again Christian who has accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, He is always with you! How amazing is that? No matter where you are, what you're doing, or who else you are or aren't with, God is with you. He loves you beyond anything you could ever imagine! This is an amazing and comforting thought for me and I hope for you too.

So, as a little reminder that we're never alone I created a little piece of inspirational Art using part of Matthew 28:20 (the Paint photo (.jpg) above) as a free gift to you. You can download it and use it however you like. If you post it on the web a link to my blog would be great but isn't required (sample: photo courtesy of Phyllis Wheeler at

May you feel God's loving presence in your life today and always!

PS The three hearts in the photo symbolize God the Father, Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit.

Full links:

Monday, February 4, 2013

Orchid Delights at Longwood Gardens

This weekend my husband and I took a trip up to Longwood Gardens, PA for their Orchid Extravaganza. It was a visual delight! Above is my favorite orchid photo from the trip.

This amazing orchid arch looks even more impressive in person. I suspect it is over twenty feet high. Behind it you can see another huge orchid display (hanging from the ceiling) and further in the background there is a circle of roses surrounding a lotus fountain.

 Here's a close up of one of the featured orchids.

Here's one of their huge orchid balls. I think it was about 10 feet in diameter. They had some behind the scenes employees showing how they put the giant orchid balls together and, while I don't expect to ever make one myself, I enjoyed seeing how it was done.

This is the orchid display that greets you when you enter the Longwood Gardens conservatory from their "new" side entrance. You can see the back side of this display in the first photo of this post.

Hope you enjoyed my photographic mementos of our trip. I love to visit conservatories in winter. What are some of your favorite winter activities?

May God bless you!

PS To the couple who asked me to take their photo and let me take one of them with my camera - mine didn't turn out that well so I didn't post it on the blog but if you want a copy just email me at and I'll send it. And if you want to be featured just send me the one I took with your camera phone (assuming it came out). It was great meeting you!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Baby Cheetah Sneeze & Pam with Cheetahs

This week my friend Pam and I had a fun trip the the National Zoo in Washington DC. The baby cheetahs have grown so much they're almost as big as the adults, but they are still much fuzzier and more playful. We enjoyed watching them snuggle and play in their outdoor den and I was excited to catch the baby cheetah sneeze on video.

Here's beautiful Pam in front of the cheetah den. You can barely see the cheetahs in the shade of the den but they're there. May God bless Pam and may He bless you too!

More cute cheetah posts:
Baby cheetahs photos from first week in public view:

Baby cheetahs in July:

Baby cheetahs later in July: