Meet Karin Solomonson
In addition to reading and writing, Karin also loves creating peaceful spaces. As a young girl, she would sort and line up Breyer horses. In college, she would organize friends’ dorm rooms as a way to de-stress before a test. And as an adult, she helps people to reclaim their space and time with her successful professional organizing business, mundo99. She uses humor, her background in education, and her passion for people to support decluttering and reorganizing everything from desktops to garages. When she’s not at work, she is probably out enjoying nature on her small horse farm, cheering for her family on the sidelines of a soccer field, or walking with friends. Oh, yeah, or writing.
A Sample of Karin’s Writing
CAN Money Buy Happiness?
I recently read an interesting book called The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. For over a decade, he lectured and researched at Harvard, including leading one of the largest studies of happiness and potential. The gist of his findings is that “90% of your long term happiness is predicted not by your external world [i.e. where you work, where you live, who you live with, what you do] but by the way your brain processes it.” He points out that the way our society looks at it, success brings happiness, but in reality, it’s the other way around.
Think about it, let’s say you have a sales goal at work. When you successfully reach that goal & get happy about it, what do you do next? Move the bar and set another goal. Achor says, “If happiness is on the other side of success, your brain never gets there” because you’re always changing the goal post. On the other hand, if you can train your brain for happiness, success will come.
Luckily, he also shares ways to do that training. You’ll have to read the book for all of his suggestions, but he does give 5 ways to rewire your brain:
- 3 gratitudes(he recommends writing 3 new things you are grateful for every day for 21 days, until it’s a habit and your brain begins looking and finding goodness everywhere you look)
- journaling(about something positive that has happened to you in the last 24 hours, as that allows your brain to relive it and feel the same positive emotions again)
- exercise(tells your brain that what your body does is important, as well as the whole endorphin release)
- meditation(counteracts the distraction/multi-tasking culture we have created and allows for better focus on tasks)
- random acts of kindness(he calls these “conscious acts of kindness” and says it can be something as simple as sending an email each day of praise/thanks to someone you know)
So, besides these thought-provoking ideas about happiness, why did I decide to share this book on my blog about organizing? Because of this excerpt:
“Spend Money (but Not on Stuff). Contrary to the popular saying, money can buy happiness, but only if used to do things as opposed to simply have things. In his book Luxury Fever, Robert Frank explains that while the positive feelings we get from material objects are frustratingly fleeting, spending money on experiences, especially ones with other people, produces positive emotions that are both more meaningful and more lasting. For instance, when researchers interviewed more than 150 people about their recent purchases, they found that money spent on activities–such as concerts and group dinners out–brought far more pleasure than material purchases like shoes, televisions, or expensive watches.”
I find it interesting in my work how often the things that people buy thinking they will make them happy eventually become things that get in the way, take up too much space, and are renamed “clutter.” Maybe I could incorporate some of Achor’s suggestions & suggest the following the next time you are de-cluttering:
1) gratitude: choose 3 things out of this room that you are grateful you have. (why are you grateful?)
2) journal: write about one of the things that makes you happy (what’s the back story that still brings you joy?)
3) exercise: as you pick up, throw out, pack up, and give away what no longer sparks happiness (carrying heavy boxes down stairs definitely counts!)
4) meditate: take a break while in the middle of the project to just breathe.
5) conscious act of kindness: donate to charity or to someone who will love something you no longer need.
Here’s hoping you have a happy day!!
(P.S. If you’d like to hear some of Achor’s ideas, check out his TED talk and other videos here.
Originally published on Karin’s Mundo99 blog, which can be read here.
What Karin says about WordPlay
“By resigning as the self-conscious author, I wrote freely.” This is in the introduction to Julia Cameron’s the Artist’s Way. On 1-1-11, I scribbled in the margin next to that line: “I resign as the self-conscious author.” I began faithfully writing three pages every morning in my journal and delighted in hearing the scratch of my newly purchased fountain pen to start each day.
One weekend later that year, I took my journal with me on a solitary retreat at the Well of Mercy. It was there that I first heard of Maureen, as I saw her book I Will Never Forget You in the gift shop. I was intrigued by her “ritual of grief and celebration” and took some of her words with me on a walk through the woods. I’m sure some of those thoughts even made it into my journal. But we weren’t meant to meet just yet.
The Artist’s Way had ignited something long dormant in my soul. Reading it was actually so intense that as soon as I finished, I immediately started again, adding to my reflections…and gathering courage to do more than just write the morning pages.
As a little girl, I had loved reading everything from “excite-lopedias” to Nancy Drew. I always had my nose in a book and everyone knew it. But every once in a while, I would also secretly write. I would write poems about our animals and about the sky. I would create extra assignments for myself to write on something we’d learned in social studies. And as a rebellious teenager, I even wrote a whole novel when I was bored in classes. But nobody read these. Not even me. And now, Julia Cameron was daring me to change that.
So, I looked around for a place to take that leap and finally asked my husband to give me Maureen’s Spinning Words Into Gold class for Christmas. I felt so vulnerable walking into that classroom. My heart was pounding and my brain was spinning words, not into gold but into things like “who is going to want to hear anything you write?” and “why are you putting yourself through this?” But Maureen’s welcoming energy and bright smile kept me in my seat.
It had easily been 20 years since I’d read something out loud that I’d written at school, maybe even longer than that. I had not shared any of my personal writings with anyone. And yet, there I was with a group of strangers, reading a piece that I’d only written 15 minutes before. Having an excuse for not being perfect? Stimulating creativity? Watching words spill onto the page without even thinking about them? Exhilarating! Maureen gave such interesting prompts and encouraging feedback that the words came freely, and by the end of that first class, my soul was so happy to be heard.
Once my soul found a voice again, it couldn’t be stopped. I “won” NaNoWriMo in November of 2012 (http://nanowrimo.org/). In January of 2013, I took another WordPlay class, Step into Your Writing Dreams, to work on a project I’d recently started. Even though this one was a virtual class, it was still intriguing not only to share but also to listen to people’s writings. It was a source of building confidence and writing skills. I can only describe it as even more “courageous vulnerability” with strangers who quickly became friends.
Following in Maureen’s footsteps, I applied for and received a Wildacres Residency for writing in May of 2013. (It was so surreal to see her handwriting in the guest book of the cabin where I was finally seeing myself as a writer, due in large part to having known her!) Although I am fairly certain that book will never be published, the whole experience allowed me to dive even deeper into words and into the process of writing.
Finally, in May of 2014, I decided to have a public place to write. It’s a simple blog, one that I use primarily to share information with my clients. But it has been a long journey for me to “resign as a self-conscious author” enough to share any of my words with the world. And I absolutely have Maureen Ryan Griffin to thank for her huge part in that journey.”