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Rabbit Test

A client who keeps two miniature donkeys, nine chickens, a rabbit, a cat, some ducks and a dog recently checked in with me.

“I have a new bunny,” she said. “A lady down the street gave us another rabbit thinking that one more animal wouldn’t make a difference, but this bunny is going to send me over the edge.”

Since her original rabbit turned out to be a territorial bully, the new bunny needs his own hutch, and his own watering and feeding. It adds just enough extra work to stress my client, who is also the mother of two young children, to her breaking point.

Since it’s a bunny time of year, my client’s story got me to thinking of how easily organizing problems can multiply. Whether it’s real bunnies, dust bunnies, chocolate bunnies or metaphorical bunnies, just one or two extra can derail us.

I’ve had to be very careful lately to monitor my own metaphorical bunnies. I have an addiction to art, and if I’m not very conscientious about walking out of a gallery without opening my handbag and reaching for my wallet, I can get into big budget trouble (not to mention marital disharmony) fast.

I’ve also been having to watch out for extra portions at meals — maybe it’s the exuberance of spring that’s got me in “more!” mode, but whatever it is, awareness is the first step toward keeping it in check.

For other clients, shoes in the closet may have multiplied out of control suddenly, or a vacation away from the computer may result in an inbox hopper full of emails. Taking on too many new projects might cause your paper to seem to be cloning itself. It really doesn’t take adding too much to life to tip the balance in a chaotic direction. Just ask someone whose daughter is getting married or whose adult child needs to move back home.

Some tips and tests for keeping spring growth under control:

• Just say no, no, no. No to the second helping. No to another volunteer commitment. No to more animals, boards, trips, food than you know is good for you. Test yourself: Are you already full? Check in with your belly, your calendar, your space.

• If you do slip and say, “yes,” to something and later realize it is too much, don’t be afraid to renegotiate your commitment. Test: If you are resenting, not enjoying, the commitment, it may be too much.

• Take a walk around the block before you buy something new. If it doesn’t pull at you quite as strongly after a little walk, try giving it 24 hours. Test: Are you still thinking about it?

• If you still can’t live without the item, and it won’t bust your budget, go ahead and get it, but think about what you could let go of in a similar category.

• Let people know that you are trying to keep life simple and clutter-free and that you would appreciate experiences rather than gifts when the occasion arises. I am finally at the point that almost all my near and dear take me out for meals or spa days rather than buy me gifts.

• Plan well for vacations and big projects to make sure you can manage the onslaught of email and paper at re-entry. Is there someone who can answer the less-than-crucial stuff for you? Can you check in briefly and periodically from your trip or make time for intense desk focus now and then in the midst of wedding planning/moving/remodeling? Unfortunately, turning off the phone and the computer for longer than 24 hours doesn’t work for most of us anymore.

• What tends to multiply in your life causing chaos? Can you stem the tide using one of the above tips? Can you do some prevention by doing a big garage, file or barn clean out? Spring is too delicious to waste in overwhelm; the simpler and lighter you’re able to keep things, the more you will enjoy this season of renewal.