What My Clients Teach Me

I’m very fortunate to have worked with and become close to many of my extraordinary clients. Along the way, as I teach them about organizing, they school me as well. I’ve gotten everything from reading recommendations to medical information.

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Often I work with senior citizens, and I’m blessed to be able to tap into their wealth of knowledge.

Recently, I’ve been working with a couple that’s been married so long that the wife couldn’t remember how many years when I asked her. It seems as if, basically, they’ve always been together and she can’t remember what life was like without him. I asked her what the secret was and she smiled and looked thoughtful.

“You need someone who respects who you are and what you do. That you are your own person. My husband was always very good at doing that.” Of course, she said this even as she sat at her usual station at the table, with his space that was almost always occupied right across from her, book open on a stand where he had been reading it. I knew although they knew how to be their own people, they were also one. Interdependence, I thought.

She continued, “and you need to be able to feel free to talk about it when something is bothering you. BUT you don’t yell. You sit next to each other and work it out. That’s it.”

Soon he came in and took his space with a bowl of soup he had poured. He started slurping and carried on a lovely conversation with me himself. I could see why she likes him.

Sometimes, with my clients, I wonder which of us is reaping the greater benefit. Although I went there to organize this couples’ belongings, they taught me to organize heart matters. They certainly seem to have that together.

Thankful.

Organizing Advice for Creative Types

Know what you get when you mix all the colors together? An icky brown.

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After having several clients who are artistically inclined, I’ve learned a few things. The most important being that the artistic mind is so busy creating wonderful things, that eliminating clutter is often not considered amidst creative bursts– it seems unimportant in the moment. However, there comes a time when the artist or musician deems it important; when creativity suddenly feels limited due to untidiness that causes stress and may even be keeping them from finding what they need to make the art they love.

If this is you, I want to first say: Please, let go of the guilt. I see this often, and we need to realize we each are made with different gifts. You bless my life with beauty and song, and I’ll bless yours with organizing it so you can continue with your gifts. Please feel comfortable enlisting the help of a friend or organizer.

Secondly, I want to change the way you see your life and space, and I believe this shift will help you in your efforts. Please consider:

  1. An artist starts with a clean brush and blank canvas. A tattoo artist typically begins with bare skin. A musician begins with a bare staff. Similarly, it helps to keep your space tidy, because…
  2. You love beautiful things. Beautiful music and beautiful colors…why should your eyes be forced to look at anything less than beautiful and pleasing in your every day life?
  3. You know that art and music can be created in a messy, jumbled up way, with dark colors or dark melancholy notes. AND you know that those things are purposely used to elicit a certain response in your audience. A messy room does this to your subconscious. It will wear away at you over time if you don’t change your tune.
  4. You can’t use your favorite brush or colored pencil set if you can’t find it. And looking for things takes time when you could be productive.
  5. Space is finite. A canvas and a sheet of music both have edges and you don’t go beyond those. Similarly, once you’ve filled a space, there’s no where to go but to overlap.
  6. There is a point where art becomes gaudy. A few colors or chords delicately balanced make something wonderful. But mix too many together and you either get icky brown or in the case of music, a song becomes noise. Too many paint layers on a canvas, or writing a notes on top of a totally different song in another key– neither of those would produce a pleasing result.

In short, I hope I’ve made you see your life and your spaces as another outlet for your creativity. Living art, living in art. Time to create a beautiful life.

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For the Love of Books- Share the Joy

Many of my clients and friends love books. Not Kindle, not Audible– but paper-smelling, book-spine-cracking, dog-eared books. I think they are always afraid at first that I will try to push them toward the digital age and suggest they do away with old-school reading.

Quite the contrary. I understand this love.

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I also understand the need for new material and I know that libraries sometimes don’t have what you want, and so you buy. However, the resource of space is limited. And we don’t always read books again as there are continually new titles to explore. What to do?

  1. Consider setting up a Little Free Library. This is a little box you set up outside your home. People are free to take and leave titles as they please. This is a great way to share the love and maybe be exposed to titles you hadn’t even considered without paying for them.
  2. Surround yourself with book loving friends! When you’re finished with a book, put it in the hands of someone you know will like it, and ask them to pass it on to another friend when finished.
  3. Release your books into the wild!!! http://www.bookcrossing.com/ is a site that allows you to register your books and “release them ‘into the wild’ for a stranger to find, or via ‘controlled release’ to another BookCrossing member, and tracking where they go via journal entries from around the world.”
  4. Look for books at the thrift store. You can buy them for pocket change and then donate them back when finished.
  5. Set up a regular interval to go thru your books and see what can be passed on. Depending on your reading habits this could be every quarter or every year. Consider taking them to your library!

Hopefully, these tips will help you tame your shelves while maintaining the love. Best to you!

 

Letting it Go- an organizer’s confession

Something has really been bothering me. Getting under my skin. I can’t believe I’ve put up with it this long. It’s a real irritant, and I’m going to take care of it as soon as I finish this post. What is it? Well, I hope you take a good look at the picture below because it’s soon to be gone. Not the picture but the contents.

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See, that pile of stuff has been sitting in my corner for weeks since I’ve set it aside (the blue bin on the bottom is full as well). I went through my belongings, mostly my closet, and had pulled some things for removal. I don’t often keep things for that long, but there were some pieces that could have sold, so I listed them online. Unfortunately, with the current season upon us, not many used things are selling– only new.

And as it sits there day after day, in my apartment which already feels tighter than usual due to the addition of the Christmas tree, it has eaten away at the peace in my subconscious. Honestly, even the picture was so ugly to me that I had to edit it quite a bit. So today, I’m taking it down to the thrift store and I’m also getting rid of some other belongings I’ve pulled from elsewhere. Am I missing out on money I could have made? (This is often an argument we have with ourselves) Although the items seem somewhat valuable to me, I guess not really. Remember, no one has been interested.

Finally, I think about what this is costing me: emotional equity and space. It has to go.

Now my mind will be free to look on the beauty of my holiday decorations and not on piles of junk.

 

Tiny Traditions & Big Love

We call him “The Tiny Santa”. I’ve always loved miniatures. And I suppose that’s fortunate since I don’t have much room and keep very little. Very little, in this case– we’re only talking millimeters, in fact.

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Can you see him?

I can’t remember where I first found The Tiny Santa, but I do know I used him as a gift in an Advent calendar box some years ago. Most of the other trinkets are long gone but Santa has been with us for years now. When we put up the tree, the first to come across him among the decorations will hang him on a not-too-obvious branch. His small stature makes him awfully difficult to find, and sometimes it takes days. Once discovered, he is then rehidden by the finder, and the game continues through the season.

When the time comes to take the tree down, he is tucked away in a Ziploc bag labeled Tiny Santa so that he won’t be forever lost. There he waits to play hide and seek again the next year.

Although the usual Santa is seen bringing huge bundles of toys, this one knows his gift is in his smallness. He knows that Christmas joy doesn’t necessarily come from excess. And he knows that tiny traditions, looked forward to year after year, add up to a big love.

Merry Christmas 🙂