Work Life's more than a balancing act

"It's the most wonderful time of the year!" Or so the song goes.

How often do we hear people say, "My life is crazy busy right now?!" To me, it's a badge of honor that comes with a price. What if we focus upon giving ourselves permission to let some things go, and instead, nurture harmony within our hearts and within our lives? Could this shift in thinking pave the way to a more peaceful sense of calm amidst the hustle and bustle of the holidays? I say, "Yes!"

Less-Stress Organizing Solutions Blog

This season, I've decided to lessen my grip on balance and redirect my energies toward harmony.

What do I mean by this?!  Do you remember the movie, "One Fine Day?" It is a story of a single mom (Michelle Pfeffier) in New York City who has trouble letting anyone help her. There is a scene where the protagonist (George Clooney) offers assistance which she flatly refuses saying, "I've got all these little balls up in the air and if someone catches one of them for me I will probably drop them all." 

I can certainly relate to her statement. The thought of a milion balls crashing around me is overwhelming. Yet, if I don't delegate, prioritize, and share the load, they will fall despite my best efforts. There are not enough hours in the day, as Michelle's character also learned.

By definition, balance is a point between two opposing forces. Balls up, must come down, and this juggling takes constant effort. Harmony, on the other hand, takes a slight detour on a gentler path. Finding a pleasing arrangement of parts, or harmony, requires attention to the details, a vision for the bigger picture, and a willingness to edit. Ask anyone who has been a part of a vocal group. 

Moving past balance to the place of harmony allows us to be completely present and immersed in whatever we are doing whether it is a work project, a meeting, watching a movie, or ice skating by the sea. All deserve our full and undivided attention. 

Just as you declutter and purge stuff you no longer use or need, your schedules and task lists require the same refresh. This is a good time of year to make space in your days to savor and slow down, to be selective when saying yes to social gatherings and festivities, and to leave time for the unexpected. 

Here's what I will keep on my list: self-care and daily activities that provide stress reduction and health benefits, connection to the people I cherish, conversations with stake holders before making decisions, current work commitments, and, a few weekend days for merriment for its own sake. I already feel better with this plan.

This weekend began a little rough. I was fighting a virus. Yet, it turned out to be the perfect time to put my "holiday harmony" plan into action. I worked from home, rested and took a few breaks; and, when I felt a little burst of energy, I made space for a few of my favorite holiday traditions, lights and decorating the Christmas trees. 

A few little trees near my kitchen.

A few little trees near my kitchen.

I expect to find that my quest for harmony will lead to more joy and less stress this year. It is my wish for you as well.

Happiest holidays!

Motivation and productivity...what I Could do is my choice

There are a million strategies and articles written to help motivate us and guide us toward becoming more productive. I'm not going to add heavily to that list today. Instead, I’m going to give you something simple to consider.

I read an article in Darling Magazine recently that reminded me of something I learned more than thirty years ago from a wise mentor. I'm going to share her sage advice with you now. It is a simple shift in thinking.

She told me to stop "should-ing on myself" and to "substitute the word could in place of the word should." It was that simple. This little shift in my mindset is a powerful tool when I feel the weight of external pressures and when my to do list feels unmanageable.

There are many things that we do in our day to day lives, and many demands upon our attention. Some them are not all that much fun. Need I say, paying bills, laundry, and staff meetings are not high on most lists of "I can't wait to do this?"; and yet, they serve a purpose we appreciate.

When we sit down with colleagues to discuss what is important to the group, we are choosing to keep communication lines open and choosing to give people the opportunity to be heard. When we see home caring tasks as ways to nurture our families rather than tasks that we should and must do, the tasks feel different. And, we feel different doing them.

Last week, I had a growing mountain of tasks on my list, along with appointments and scheduled work projects, and felt overwhelmed by the big picture. I heard this rumble of a nagging voice in the recesses of my mind telling me I should do this and should have already finished that!

How did I quiet that voice? I substituted should with could.

I wrote a list of every task that I thought I could do at the top of my planner page. Seeing it in black and white and resetting my mindset was a mental refresh for me. 

For the rest of the week, I looked at unscheduled blocks of time and asked myself, “What could I be doing with this time?” I considered the consequences of procrastinating a particularly tedious but time-sensitive task and opted to do it first thing that morning and felt instantly successful. I also, gave myself permission to take breaks as my energy waned. I savored the lulls rather than allow guilt to steal my joy.

Gandalf chooses to pace his busy day of grooming, eating, and sleeping by stopping to smell the roses. 

Gandalf chooses to pace his busy day of grooming, eating, and sleeping by stopping to smell the roses. 

Slowly but surely tasks on my could list disappeared along with a few other tasks that I added later, just because I could. Imagine that! 

When we say could, we take ownership for our actions and feel empowered. What we could do with our time may be exactly the same as what think we should be doing with our time. But the pressure is lifted. Should sucks the joy out of life. Could gives us back our joy and allows us to set our own course! I like that.





Small Homes...making the most of small spaces is largely about knowing your priorities and being creative

I have always considered myself to be an efficient packer and unpacker, a master setter-upper of sorts. After moving several times as a military spouse, I learned how to quickly settle into whatever new space was deemed home. I had it down to a science. Given six weeks, I had everything unpacked, sorted, and cozy. Everything quickly in its place and where I would use it.

I have been fortunate to have enough space for what I need, use, and love. And, I enjoy finding creative ways to use ordinary things.

Recently, I moved into what has become affectionately know as ma petite chateau. I moved more than ten weeks ago into my little castle and am still making decisions about furniture placement and what will ultimately stay in residence. I have slowed down the process and am savoring the choices that I am making. No rush this time to finish in under six weeks. 

This petite home has all of the elements that are important to me, but in smaller proportions than I have had in the past. Making this work has given me the opportunity to stretch myself creatively. Smaller requires resourcefulness and out-of-the-box thinking as I repurpose my favorite things. Smaller has demanded honesty about what is most important to me, and courage to let go of the stuff that does not fit my life here. 

I am making space for new memories as I shed the excess that is no longer relevant. I kept a few large pieces of furniture that make me happy and have found that they are just right as long as I keep accessories and decorative items to a minimum. But the reduction in square footage from my last home necessitated saying farewell to the treasured antiques and heavy furniture that I have collected in my travels. They no longer fit.

Knowing my priorities has been pivotol in personalizing ma petite chateau

My priorities are space for solitude and rejuvenation, space for a little garden, space for books and reading, space for my desk and creative projects, space to linger over coffee and food with friends and family, and a pretty view from my kitchen sink. These are my simple pleasures. 

I am fortunate to have found just what I needed nestled among pretty trees and profuse honeysuckle vines in a city that I love. And, best of all, the beach is a fifteen minute drive away. Could it be that down sizing has given me room to breathe! I say, "Yes!"

That said, I am still making make tough choices about what to keep and what to discard. So, when I worry about not having enough space, I revisit my priorities. Too much in a small space feels overwhelming. I choose calm and the tranquility that it brings to my life.

This morning, I took a few minutes to do a little gardening...watering, deadheading, and a quick sweep of the dust from recent Santa Ana winds.  Although I miss my beautiful rose garden, I cannot help but enjoy the time that smaller has opened up for me. Waffles and coffee while I write, all the while knowing I have time for a few hours in Solana Beach when my work is done. Heaven!

While my garage is a holding space for the undecided items and the projects in process, there is still room to park my car in it. Most of my packed boxes have been sorted and put away; the sturdiest have been broken down for the next organizing project with clients. But, until a week or so ago, there remained several unopened boxes of books.

I was patiently awaiting the arrival of a bookcase to house my library, in the space I had designated as my "reading nook." I had ordered a bookcase that would fit perfectly in a corner of my bedroom. 

Keep pathways clear and open while unpacking. Better to have boxes than precipitous piles while you decide furniture placement. Yes, that is a sheet taped to the window until I choose window treatments because privacy is a priority.

Keep pathways clear and open while unpacking. Better to have boxes than precipitous piles while you decide furniture placement. Yes, that is a sheet taped to the window until I choose window treatments because privacy is a priority.

As luck would have it, when the bookcase arrived, the delivery men refused to carry it up the stairs. They said it was too big. I had forgotten to allow for the tight turn at the bottom of the stairs. There was no doubt in my mind that the bookcase was staying. I just had to find wall space for it without unbalancing the entire room.

It looks beautiful near my kitchen and petite living room; and, I see it every time I stand at my kitchen sink.  Now I have a view of the trees out the window and my books. Have I mentioned that books make me happy?!

Less-Stress Organizing Solutions_Small Spaces

The little nook that is my living room has a cozy rug, a sofa, a television and a place to rest a few coffee cups or dishes while relaxing. It is truly the passageway to go upstairs. But, a large mirror hangs on one wall reflecting light and giving the illusion of more space than actually exists. And books are close at hand. 

Today marks ten weeks and one day since I received the keys to ma petite chateau. And, everyday I find something to appreciate about smaller home living. I have everything I need.


Moving...a change could be just what you need

Today, as I sit on my patio with my iced coffee listening to the birds, and the cars rushing past ma petite chateau, I am grateful. Grateful that I have all the packing and schlepping behind me, grateful for the end of the myriad of paperwork and intrusion into my personal life, and grateful for the opportunity to begin again in my own little corner of the planet.

Getting here was not easy and not for the faint of heart. But, it was just what I needed.

Have you considered relocating? Downsizing? Upsizing? Right sizing? Do you need to change your living arrangements due to a "change of circumstance?" 

In February, I answered yes to right sizing and making the final move toward my independence. "Let's put the house on the market in June," I said. "Okay," he said.

You may have noticed that today is May 21. My taking it slow and easy plan looked great on paper, but ended up moving at warp speed!

I found a realtor who was aligned with my need to look first before listing the house.  I wanted to be excited about this move. I was leaving the home where I had nurtured and raised my family, and where I had spent years developing a beautiful garden and bird sanctuary. I was leaving this all behind. I could take the memories with me, but not the visual peace of it all. And, this was a final goodbye to my married life.

Off I went to find a little place that I could afford near the new life I have built, where I could find peace, inspiration, and restoration. I found it sooner than expected and then sold the family home just as quickly. Blessings both, I know, along with the lessons learned through all of this.

Here's my checklist of do's and don'ts refined after recently practicing what I teach my clients.

1. Know what you can afford and stick to it. Prequalify for your home loan. Take a hard look at your expenses and budget for rent or for a mortgage.

2. Know what is most important to you. Can you give up an office space for a pretty patio garden?  Bigger kitchen for a smaller than optimal living room? I found, "Loving The House You're In," by Paige Rein, to be insightful and helpful as I navigated my transition to a smaller home.

3. Interview more than one realtor and loan officer/broker and find a good fit for you. They will see the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of your temperament. They will also help to put the bumps and bruises of buying and selling into perspective.

4. Trust your gut. 

5. Start decluttering long before you list your home. In fact, start now even if you aren't  thinking about moving. Get rid of anything and everything that is weighing you down. If you don't use it, need it, or love it, let it go!

                                                        Recycle, repurpose, and share.

                                                        Recycle, repurpose, and share.

6. Not sure what you will need at the other end? Believe me when I say that I appreciate this. There comes a point in  the moving process when you feel exhausted from the endless decision making. What remains will be boxed up and taken to your next home. The down side is that you will need to pick up where you left off at the other end. 

7. To garage sale or not to garage sale, that is the question! If you have items that are probably not going to fit in your new residence, why pay a mover to do the heavy lifting when you are most likely going to let go of the overflow of furniture? A moving sale is win-win. 

8. If you have friends and family who will drop everything to help you, then get on your knees and give thanks! And, don't forget to feed these angels well.

9. Hire movers for the heavy furniture and boxes of books. 

10. Pace yourself or have your chiropractor on speed dial. 

   Set up a work space as soon as possible so that bills and paperwork don't overwhelm you.

   Set up a work space as soon as possible so that bills and paperwork don't overwhelm you.

11. Set up one bathroom and the essentials in the kitchen as soon as possible. You can't go wrong with a stash of chocolate, almonds, and iced cold Lacroix. 

12. Have lots of cleaning supplies on hand.

              Have a few of your favorite things in sight as you are moving in and unpacking.

              Have a few of your favorite things in sight as you are moving in and unpacking.

13. Have I mentioned pets? This is where it gets tricky. I have two cats and a dog. They knew change was brewing and reacted with predictable behaviors. Having a place for pets to feel safe during the transition is paramount to everyone's happiness. Bring blankets and bedding that smell familiar to them.  

14. Enjoy the process of moving in. It may feel good to "get it done," but some decisions need to simmer awhile and that's okay. 

I have unpacked many boxes, cleaned every inch of my new home, helped my daughter paint her room, wallpapered my bedroom for whimsy, planted a little kitchen patio garden, and have clocked many, many, many steps along the way to settling in. 

My pets have adjusted, I have found a beautiful path to walk my dog, and I just saw my first hummingbird. If you know me, you know this is a good omen!

My garage still holds many treasures and a growing donation pile. I brought more than I needed, but I do not regret it. I have found resourceful ways to repurpose some of my favorite things. The rest will be sorted one box at a time.

Moving to a new home is a change that I can live with and that I am embracing whole-heartedly. It is just what I need.

Closets...when it comes to getting dressed, less is more

Is your closet bulging with clothes that you no longer wear, clothes that you might wear given a different life, clothes that no longer fit, clothes that have seen better days, clothes that have lost their appeal or just bring a frown to your face? 

If you answered, "Yes," then I understand because I have been where you stand...just outside the closet door, dreading it even though it holds an abundance of beautiful things. Why? Because they are crowded by the other "stuff,"  the stuff that needs a new and grateful home. 

Spring is just around the corner and wouldn't it be nice to open the door to your closet and love what you see? How much time would you save having just what you need to get dressed quickly and in a style that suits you? Wouldn't it be refreshing to have room in your closet for that something new that makes your heart sing?! 

If you have been following me on Facebook, then you know that I have been exploring  closet organization strategies. My reason for doing this was two-fold.

First of all, a personal closet review was long overdue. Second of all, several people have asked my thoughts regarding Marie Kondo's Konmari Method.

So, I began there, utilizing "The Magic Art of Tidying Up," by Marie Kondo. How convenient that she asks that you begin your "tidying up" journey by sorting and purging your clothing. 

I admit that I was tentative at first which only served to slow down the entire process. But, once I embraced her "pull-it-all-out-and-only-keep-what-sparks-joy" methodology, it worked. I honestly love everything in my closet, well almost everything. There are still a few pieces that I am holding in reserve.

That said, less is definitely better! But what to do with it all?!

My mother will tell you that she loves my style. But, she has to say that though 'cuz she's my mom. I LOVE styling others. As for myself,  I struggle a little bit unless I adhere to my must-have trifecta: Cut, Color, and Comfort.

Enter my second closet strategy: reading and studying the content in "The Curated Closet," by Anuschka Rees.  Such a useful book filled with beautiful visuals and practical ideas regarding building a wardrobe that reflects what you need for the life that you lead. 

closet organization

I spent an entire weekend reviewing my pared down closet, studying colors and shapes and patterns, thinking about where and how I spend my time, and remembering what I love about clothing. I know, I can hear you laughing or scolding now, wondering how you are going to find an entire weekend to devote to your clothing and closet overhaul. Sadly, or as luck would have it, I had a nasty virus and needed something to keep my cabin fever at bay.

As they say, when the student is ready, the teacher will come. I was a captive audience. 

So here is my take away from my weekend of closet review, reflection, and revision:

1. There is no shame in having nice things in your closet. After all, we cannot run around naked. Feeling good in your clothing allows you to get on with your day in a confident manner.

2. Less IS more. It takes less time to put outfits together when everything you own suits your style and your life. 

3. Play with outfitting and take notes and photos for later. Really! 

4. Keep a few go-to outfits ready for those times that you are rushing or are over-scheduled (who me?!). You will thank yourself later, trust me!

5. Sharing feels good. Let go of the garments that you no longer wear, need, or love while someone else can still benefit from them.

6. My three personal criteria for clothing must be met or I am throwing money away. If a garment is not comfortable, not a good cut for my body,  or not a color that I feel confident wearing, then I say, "No!" 

7. I am clear on what I like and on what I need , but am in no hurry to add to my wardrobe unless I LOVE it.

8. I have a good foundational, neutral wardrobe. Adding pops of color is where I will focus my efforts next! I see shades of red, raspberry, and greens in my future.

9. Strategic placement of my garments has streamlined the time it takes to choose an outfit. As I returned garments to my closet, I considered how and where I would be wearing them. Work clothes are together, clothing for outings are separate from what I wear when I do heavy organizing jobs. You get the idea.

10. Time spent planning and organizing saves you time in the long run!  

My advice to you as I close this chapter is this: Take time to review, reflect, and revise what you already have in your closet before adding anything new. Be honest with yourself and let go of what is just getting in your way. You may find that you already have what you need. If not, you will definitely have a clearer picture of what is missing to make getting dressed easier.

Cheers to finding less stress and more joy in your closet. 

Much love,




Plan B...How to ride the ebb and flow of life

Riding the ebb and flow of life requires that we let go of unrealistic expectations and perfectionism and embrace Plan B.

I did not have the perfect, happy new year that I eagerly anticipated. In the past 10 days, I have lost a dear brother-in-law, and had a thug come to my home and threaten harm to me and my family. Yes, this really happened! How dare he intrude upon my grief and threaten my nest.

Not much that the police can do until the thug is more specific with his threats. I know his name, but not exactly when or how he plans to hurt me. I guess even criminals need to show SMART goals to be taken seriously by the police. 

That would be enough to send anyone into a tail spin. But to add insult to injury, I have experienced technical challenges with a brand new computer, and the wi-fi connection in my home which made simple things that I take for granted, more difficult.

And, it all happened in the space of a few days.

This challenging first week of 2017 has been a good reminder to appreciate what is working in my life, to count my many blessings, to remember my priorities, and to dig deeply to find joy. 

Enter Plan B and letting good enough be good enough which is better than constantly judging and worrying. Right?!

If you set one intention for the new year, let it be permission to enjoy good enough. I promise there is more joy in good enough than in chasing elusive perfectionism.

You may find, as I have, that there is enough of you to go around to meet the deadlines that are truly most important to you, to spend time with those you hold dearest, and to keep and have what is really most needed and useful to you. 

It also leaves cushion in your days for the unexpected. Life is messy and there will be curves ahead, no matter how carefully you plan and strategize. Travel is cancelled due to weather, computers crash, clients cancel due to illness, budgets change with health challenges.  

I have learned that when I am not solely dependent upon a specific outcome to the detriment of all else, I channel the arts of resilience and resourcefulness allowing the creative side of my brain to shine.

Kaleidoscope Inn, Nipomo California

Kaleidoscope Inn, Nipomo California

I feel more joyful when perfectionism is not a driving force in my life and I tend to savor my time and efforts by allowing myself to become more fully present in whatever I am doing. It doesn't mean that I don't strive for excellence. I do. Nor does it mean that I don't feel irritable or impatient when Plan A goes awry. I just don't let these glitches completely ruin my day, at least not for long. This week has certainly tested my peace of mind and resilience.  

Let me be clear, I am not suggesting that you throw out your planners or lose sight of your goals. Planning is a must. We all know the benefits of writing our goals, scheduling appointments, making lists, breaking projects into tasks and then doing one piece at a time. 

I am just suggesting that when the unexpected curve-balls of life hurdle straight at your head, set down your carefully detailed plan, focus upon your breathing and do one thing that is within your control. And when you finish that, repeat. 

This is what I have done the past few days, and it has made all the difference. I am still grieving and will spend as much time with family as I can. I have made my family and home as safe as possible. I have worked with tech support to fix my computer. And along the way, I have remembered what is important to me, have let others lend a hand, and have prayed more than I have in a long time. I still retain my sense of humor and have taken a little time out for myself, despite feeling the walls close around me.

Plan B is working just fine. 





Living With Less...Consider The Cost of Keeping your Stuff

Declutter -  Less-Stress Organizing Solutions

There is value to becoming organized. No doubt! There is a sense of calm, order, and control attached to managing your spaces and to managing how you spend your time. But it DOES take time to find the sweet spot that is just right for you. Organizing is personal.

All of my clients want to get organized.  Most of them accept that there will be disruptions and discomfort during the process. Some of them willingly reduce and remove the stuff that is no longer useful, the stuff that is unnecessary, and the stuff that they no longer love or want in their lives. They are ready for the benefits that come with reducing, sharing, decluttering, and organizing.  

The benefits of living with less in a calm, orderly environment are appealing. Yet some of us are stuck? The process IS uncomfortable, and sometimes costly. Believe me, I can personally relate to reluctantly digging in my heels. Getting to the point of having less comes with angst. We ask our selves, "What if I need it someday? What if I eventually remember what this thing fits and then I no longer have it? What if this thing is worth money and I give it away? What if I could have sold it at a garage sale? What if my kids want it someday? What if I move? What if, what if, what if...?"

What if I told you that there is a cost for keeping your stuff? Small, over crowded spaces are more difficult to clean, limit freedom of movement, and feel stagnant. Upsizing to bigger housing is an expensive option. Storage units are sometimes necessary and useful, but they cost money and are not as easily accessible as having things at your fingertips.

Time spent looking for things buried behind the other stuff that we don't use very often is time that could have been spent doing something else. Keeping every surface covered requires frequent movement of stuff when you begin simple daily activities such as food prep, mail sorting, and bill paying. 

Formal dining rooms become collection rooms, and guest rooms become large, full closets for the overflow of life until we need to use them for their intended purposes and then you know what happens next?! Frantic movement of the stuff to another room. It is endless, it is time consuming, and, it is exhausting!

And yet, we keep things because these items represent hard work, sentimental moments, difficult decisions, and a different space and time in our lives that may no longer exist. And, we are busy! We may feel rushed in our day to day lives, dropping things where we land rather than put them in the same place every day. Time spent searching for keys and wallets is a common theme.

And, as useful as technology can be, there is inherent risk when we spend more time managing our devices than the time we spend connecting to the people around us.

One of the most common complaints that I hear is regarding the inordinate amount of time looking for that one important email that is buried under 6000+ advertisements. Rather than take the time to clear the unwanted, un-needed, and unloved messages that bombard us, and unsubscribe to the messaging that is no longer relevant, we complain and we stress about the ever-growing inbox. 

And, finally, the stress attached to managing too much stuff and too full a calendar eats away at our health and well being. And, to me, that is too high a cost for keeping "stuff."

Creative solutions to these challenges and obstacles are abundant. Feeling motivated and eager to do the work takes energy, patience, and perseverance. Sometimes it takes outside help and sometimes we can do it ourselves. But, we always need to feel confident that we are in charge of the decisions.

I have seen first hand the lightness of being that results from having less both in my experience as an organizer and in my personal life. I have watched an ill client jump up and dance around her garage and tell me how freeing it is to finally let go of the weight of boxes stagnating in her garage. I have listened to a voicemail that moved me to tears from a client who donated her excess to a food bank. She witnessed first hand the most basic of needs right here in our own community and was humbly motivated to do more. 

I remember a point in my own life when I decided that I was going to "fit" into my home. I have moved many times in my life, and became comfortable with keeping things for someday. Although masterful at organizing my stuff, I asked myself the tough questions, "Do I need it, use, it, love it?" I have been in the same house now for 15 years. And, yes, I may have a move in my future. But for now, having less has brought a new level of peacefulness to my life that I cherish. I look around and marvel at the open spaces and the coziness of it all.

There is still more that I will remove, but as I tell friends and clients, the process is like peeling an onion. We take it a layer at a time, wipe away the tears that sometimes result, and then let it sit until we are ready to peel again.

Eventually, we get to the sweet center and wonder what and why we were waiting because we are so happy to be there.


Minimalism...when all else fails, Kiss! Keep it simple, sweetheart!

One of the most interesting and relevant buzzwords of the day is "minimalism." And, it is frequently misunderstood, ill conceived, and too quickly dismissed.

The very thought of living with eight plates and four white shirts, for example, has absolutely no appeal to me; and, yet this is a choice that some people make and it suits them. I would not feel joyful, nor would it be practical for me to live so sparingly. Yet, it is just what some people need and want. And THAT is really at the heart of minimalism, choosing to live with what YOU truly need, want, and love.

And, if this is true, then minimalism is not a tick in the box or a "thing to do," but rather a lifestyle of "living with intention" that will evolve and grow to suit you personally.

In the spirit of minimalism, I offer a short list of guidelines for setting down a path of intentional living. 



Keep what you “love & need”


Integrate your “wants” based upon your  space, time, budget & priorities


Share, sell, or discard the remainder


Sort & organize your spaces & schedules


When the work of redefining your spaces and belongings is done, you are left with a sense of order, harmony, joy, and peacefulness. At least, that has been my experience. You are free to move on to the work of living and being truly present in the world. Beginning a more intentional life is just a kiss away.

Personal Organizer


Best regards as you ponder if this choice suits you!

Jennifer xox


Vacation Mentality...simply clearing a path to enjoy your daily travels

Have you ever wished that everyday could be a vacation day? What if that that sense of calm and relaxation could become more of a daily experience? I know I would say, "Yes, please!"

A recent conversation with a customer had me thinking about vacation mentality. She fell in love with a dress at the store where I work part-time. I could see it in her eyes! When I offered to take it to the fitting room, she declined the offer saying that she would buy it in a heartbeat if she was shopping for vacation because it was "truly the perfect dress." Cut, color, quality, comfort were all 10 out of 10. 

She continued to say that she would never spend that much money on herself for everyday use even though she admitted that she could picture herself wearing it for different events and activities and could see the styling options that made it a versatile garment. 

I couldn't stop thinking about this. Some of my favorite outfits and go to pieces in my wardrobe are garments that I have chosen for vacations and travel. They are comfortable, fit well, are versatile, and are a breeze to launder. And, yes!  I do wear them frequently! The cost per wear makes them the best values in my closet! Even the plaid rain boots that I bought for a trip to Ireland, although rarely worn in southern California, add a little whimsy on those rare wet days. 

This train of thought led me to ask myself, "What if we approached daily life from a vacation mentality?"

Hear me out. I'm not suggesting that we stop working or cleaning or preparing food at home. But what if we were to streamline our decisions as if we were packing and planning for travel? Would this be the start of a shift toward more enjoyment in daily living by living with a little less.

Del Mar Beach, California

Del Mar Beach, California

I propose that we test out my theory with a three practical steps that will clear the path to finding more joy and contentment in your daily routine. 

1. Clear the clutter in your handbags, briefcases, backpacks, cars, trunks, night stands and keep only what you really need and use in those places. These are hot spots that grow if untended and can weigh you down and spoil the ease of movement that is otherwise possible. Think back to the last time you traveled. Carry just what you need.

As for me, my car console looks something like this: sunscreen, phone charging cable, a non-perishable snack, water bottles, a book, and a few quarters for the rare parking meter that still requires your pocket change.

My handbag ritual looks like this: I remove receipts and take them to my desk, add one lipstick to suit the mood of the day, sunglasses, a small Emory board, cell phone, wallet, Advil, and an epi pen (bee stings).  Years of schlepping too much has led to neck strain and I am proud to say that I have finally learned my lesson. I now carry a smaller, light weight bag and love the freedom this allows.

All summer long I keep beach chairs, towels, sunscreen, a sunhat, and flip flops in the trunk of my car for impromptu stops at the beach. Yes! I live minutes away from the ocean and have found a favorite stretch of sand where I sit and listen to the waves even if only for 30 minutes.

2. Review and purge your clothing. There are many books and articles explaining the benefits of a limited, capsule wardrobe.  I personally like clothes and costuming too much to limit myself solely to 20 or so garments. Although if I'm being completely honest, I wear the same 20 pieces mixed and matched 80% of the time. I suspect this is true for most of us.

Wear colors that look good on you and make you feel like a million bucks! Keep pieces that work well together and give you options for styling. Remove the items that no longer fit, that are worn and damaged, that you no longer like, that you haven't worn for a year or more, and move seasonal clothing to garment bags or to the sides of your closet making your "capsule" more accessible.

When you have a few minutes and the inclination, play a little with accessorizing so that when you are rushing off to an event, you can leave with confidence knowing that you look put together. Those predetermined, go-to outfits are a God-send on tightly scheduled days.

Once you clear the clutter from your closet, notice what is missing to complete outfits and if it's in your budget, go shopping for those pieces, just like you would if you were preparing to leave on holiday. You will be less distracted by things you do not need with a clear agenda for shopping. Vacation mentality!

3. Savor what is special to you by using it every day. Keep only what you truly love, that you need and use, and that makes you happy whether they are photographs, seashells collected from a special trip, your expansive collection of books (I get it), or what ever "sparks joy" for you.

Do you still use your chipped old dishes and keep your favorites for company? Why not use your favorites everyday to make every meal special?

Why not take your coffee in your favorite travel mug to your favorite park or beach and savor a few minutes rather than rush off to the next task? Isn't that what we do on vacation?! This simple pause in the day can be just the mental rest that you need.

Removing the unnecessary leaves you with what you do need, want, and love, front and center and visible in your life. Just like when you go on vacation, you are free to cherish the day and get on with whatever you have planned.












Breaking the cycle of overwhelm...critical first step in taking back your life, ADHD or not

Whether or not you live with ADHD, there is benefit from today's blog post. I hope that you will find a golden nugget in this discussion and break your cycle of overwhelm. We all have them.

Palace at Versailles, France 

Palace at Versailles, France 


One of my favorite resources for those learning to manage their ADHD is called, "Odd One Out," by Jennifer Koretsky. She describes life from her point of view in a simple, clear manner and then breaks down a plan for success that makes complete sense to me.

If you have not read it, and have the good fortune to know someone challenged by this neuro-atypical brain style, I highly recommend spending the two hours it will take to read her book. There is benefit to improved understanding whether or not you live with ADHD. I guarantee that most of you work with people challenged by this brain style. You can be of great service to them and to yourself.

In the meantime, I will fast-forward you to the critical first step.

Ms. Koretsky describes the first step in managing ADHD as this: to break the cycle of overwhelm. I agree.

I have known this to be true for many years and, have found it to be a critical first step with all of my clients and in my personal and professional life whether challenged by ADHD or not. No matter what has led a person to feeling overwhelmed by the clutter in their homes, office, and heads, "breaking the cycle of overwhelm," is the key to taking charge, moving forward, and finding less stress and more joy in day to day living!

Sounds simple, right? The challenge is in recognizing that you are overwhelmed, stepping back long enough to acknowledge your feelings, and then choosing to focus your attention upon one thing. Your most important or nagging, worrisome space.

I am frequently hired to "help sort a few things." This invariably means "come help me dig my way out of the detritus of the past 20 years and find the golden rings buried in the ooey gooey center of it all." And, I LOVE what I do. Truly!

My clients feel overwhelmed. There is no question about it. And, if I am completely honest, I have been known to experience a momentary sense of overwhelm when I first arrive. But this feeling quickly passes because I have learned to break the cycle of overwhelm but placing my focus upon what is most important to them. I always work from this perspective.  

For me this has two layers, emotional health, and safety. Yes, I am a safety girl. Grounded and sensible. And, I LOVE a 1000 piece, 3-D puzzle. So I can see past the messes and piles of stuff towards the potential and possibility of a healthier, less stressful environment for my clients to live and work. They have asked me to help them declutter, to make sense of their things, to let go of what no longer serves them well. We do this one thing, one space, one room at a time. And it works.

My advice to you, if you are looking at your home or office, and you want or need a change, but feel overwhelmed and are unsure where to begin, start by asking what is stressing or overwhelming you the most, and begin there.

Get rid of what you don't need unless you cannot bear to part with something.  I urge you NOT to organize what is really unnecessary. Throw it away, donate it, recycle it, give it back to its proper owner, but do not let it take up permanent residence. It is crowding out what is important and adding to your mental clutter. 

For those of us with ADHD, keeping everything in sight is a common strategy for finding things. This is not the most effective strategy in reality, because over time it becomes difficult to distinguish what is important from what is not.  If you have ever spent 20 minutes looking for something that is right in front of you, you know what I am talking about. 

I beg of you, put things away that have a designated drawer, cupboard, closet, or space when you are done using them. If you always put things in the same space, you will create habits that make it easier to find your stuff over time.

You may have items of value and may hesitate or hold on to them for later. This is a double edged sword. Keeping things for a garage sale or to resale can bring a sweet little chunk of change. And there is definitely a time to do this. But sometimes, especially in those truly overwhelming periods of your life, it is more freeing and more gratifying to "just let it go," now. The sooner the better. If you are asking for help, wanting help, looking for change, then you ARE ready. 

Organizing Solutions San Diego

Give it away, throw it away, bless someone else with it. Let go of what no longer serves you. Put things away. Keep only what you need and use, and love. ADHD or not, break the cycle of overwhelm.

Your peace of mind and your new, healthier, less overwhelming life is waiting for you.


photography by Jennifer Raphael