declutter with the 4 “p’s”

In tactical training there exists Hick’s Law… the more training options you have, the longer it takes to respond.  The same principle is behind my quest for simplicity.  The more stuff… possessions, bills, tasks, workflows, etc that I have competing for my attention, the more distracted I am.  The less focused and at peace I can be.

But the process of simplifying can be daunting.  How do I declutter?  Where to I start?  Let me introduce you to your new best friend… the 4P’s.  And we’ll start small – say with decluttering a single drawer.  Go find your messiest drawer and…

1. Pile – take everything out of the drawer and make a big pile.  On the bed.  On the floor.  It doesn’t matter. But get it all out.  Don’t sort.  Just pile!

2. Pick – you really don’t use all this stuff do you?  I don’t mean the stuff you think about using… or the stuff you like the idea of using.  Do you actually use it?  Often?  (How many socks/jewelry/tshirts do you actually wear?) Pick out only those things that you use, you like, and are important to you and create a second, smaller pile.

3. Prune – just like a tree needs to be pruned to grow, so does your pile.  Anything that you didn’t PICK for the smaller pile, get rid of.  Sell it on ebay or craigslist.  Give it to a friend.  Donate it to the Salvation Army.  Flat out throw it away.  Don’t be emotional or sentimental.  Don’t be afraid.  If you haven’t used it in a while, you probably won’t use it!   Why keep piles of stuff because you “might need it”?

4. Place – place the essential things back in the drawer in an organized manner.  Neatly.  With plenty of space around each item.  This makes it look neater and simpler.  (Of course, clean the drawer if you need to.)

That’s it!  You now have a much cleaner drawer that you can use to find and store the items you actually value.  And you have either made a little money selling the extra stuff, or have been generous and donated to someone who CAN use it.

And you can do a whole room with this process… just one drawer, one horizontal surface (dressers, tables, etc) at a time.  Just take it a bit by a bit.  Enjoy the process.  And watch as you slowly declutter your whole living space!

Ultimate Forgiveness Challenge

This last weekend at The Ridge, our faith community, we began a series examining the topic of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is one of those things that everyone agrees is important, necessary, decent, etc… and everyone waits until they get around to it before digging into.  So we began what we are calling the UFC – The Ultimate Forgiveness Challenge.  You can listen to our discussion here.

It is important to not relegate forgiveness to an intellectual pursuit… we have to dig in and begin the real work of setting ourselves and others free.  And that work is often painfully challenging.  So we are taking this week to ask ourselves a series of questions – as part one of the challenge.

Journal these… talk about them with someone you respect.  And then do something about what you discover:

Forgiveness Self-Evaluation:

Is there any situation that you need to drop the jawbone?  Give up the right to revenge?

Regarding that situation in your life right now, what’s your next step of forgiveness?  What can you do TODAY to begin forgiving?

Is there any way you have been excusing your own bad behavior, citing “what they did”?

Is there any person, any situation that you need to entrust to God’s justice?  Even if you don’t see it?

Is there anyone you need to wish well?  To bless?  To serve?

the power of mind maps

I speak in public and teach a lot… often as many as six times a week between my work with The Ridge faith community and my training business CBI.  The biggest part of the process of teaching is speaking is the preparation.  I have been doing this for 16 years now, and have been refining my process.  One of the key components is mind mapping.

Mind mapping is a graphical organization of ideas.  Consider it a circular outline.  I grab ideas, thoughts, my lesson plan and throw it into mindmap software. ( I use MindJet on my Macbook and iThoughtsHD on my iPad).  Don’t edit, don’t order… just collect.  Then with the software I can drag individual ideas, or whole thought branches, where I think they make sense.  As I work the talk/teaching over, I can add, delete, move, and edit effortlessly.

Then when it is time to present, i take the mindmap with me.  I use my iPad to read it off of (reading clockwise from 12oclock).  I keep my mindmaps vertical, so they are easy to manipulate in front of a crowd on the iPad.  There is more information than I need when actually speaking, but by practicing off of the same map as I present, I learn the material faster and am able to recal it more completely.  That means that as I present, I simply skim over the big points of the map, but have my notes there if I ever blank and need to dive deeper to make a point.

Here are examples of my maps from a recent series I did at The Ridge on suffering. Note that I sometimes use color as coding for visuals or emphasis.  Sometimes the notes are more intensive, sometimes less, as I need them.

110109 Choice 110116 – All and Nothing 110123 Harp Hangers and a Herd of Pigs 110130  The whole entire everything gets put back together

releasing the power of books

I love books!  But after spending years amassing (and that is the right root word there – mass!) my library I have a lot of them!  And I have to admit I have a love affair with each and every one.

But in my recent quest for simplification I have realized I am hoarding that which I love.  I have read them all – some over a dozen times.  I hold on to them for memories (sentiment), incase I might “need them” again (fear), because I have a lot of money invested into them (greed), and – frankly – because I like the idea of a big library (pride).  Not a great list of motives…

If I release them into the wild again, someone else will glean the learning, insight, perspective, and enjoyment that I have gotten from them.  My library will live instead of sitting dormant!

I have taken boxes of books to the library and used book stores.  I have sold some on ebay and craigslist.  But I have recently found a much more elegant solution.  I mooch.

Book Mooch is a online community of bibliophiles who share books.  Got a book to share?  List it on the mooch.  If another reader sees it and wants it, they send a request to have it mailed to them (thank God for USPS media mail!).  Sending books earns credits that can be “spent” on new-to-you books.  A totally voluntary and collaborative online book sharing community!

I can even make a wishlist of books I would like to mooch… and if someone lists one of them to share, Book Mooch contacts me to let me know.

Simple.  Elegant.  Communal.  And totally free!

I can enjoy my books and then send them on – knowing they will be enjoyed again and again.  Why own when you can mooch?
And in case you were wondering, YES! I do have an RSS feed of my wishlist and available books.

It’s been a while… and a journey

It has been quite a while since I’ve posted… but what a journey it’s been!  I’m glad to be back.  A few highlights that I JUST KNOW will see some future posts:

  • A new design!  Blew the dust off Chrisbellonline and refreshed it a bit.  Going for simple and minimal.  What do you think?
  • Since I have last posted, I have continued down the road to simplicity and minimalism… in some pretty significant ways – including giving away almost half of my belongings and downsizing significantly!  I am very excited about this path of minimalism…
  • The Ridge has moved off of our campus, and started meeting in a coffee shop and a local school.  We are moving toward a model of debt-free ministry – I don’t know that I would ever want to sign a mortgage again!  Bankers, moving, and organizational flux!  Many more posts on this later…
  • Our family adopted a homeless 18 year old, took him in, helped him get on his feet and find a job, and are walking him through various legal issues.  More later…

Religion as an excuse during pain??

I love reading Richard Rohr… here is a great quote Adapted from Job and the Mystery of Suffering, pp. 20-21

An awful lot of religion is an excuse for not facing our fears, our self, and our doubts.  True religion is not denial of doubt but a transformation of it; and often, to be honest, a temporary deepening of our doubt and darkness to get us there.

God walks with us into our fears, to feel them, to own them, to let them teach us.  During that time we are often in darkness and cannot uphold ourselves.  It even feels like a loss of faith.  It is then that we slowly learn to let Someone Else hold us, and we come out enlarged and more hopeful.  As long as I have lived, I cannot explain the chemistry of this transformation, but those who have gone through know it to be true.

Chris Bell International is born…

I would love not to have to take a paycheck from The Ridge… to be a pastor that doesn’t have to be paid.  And in that pursuit…

I have taken the next step toward that dream with the launching of Chris Bell International.

As many of you know, I have a background in tactics and training for law enforcement and civilians, and this business will accomplish just those things.  Firearms training, martial arts, security consulting for church and other NFP organizations… it is all a passion and former business focus of mine that I am restarting.

So if you know anyone who would like Cutting Edge tactical training… stop on by!