Personal Spaces

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 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,

Jen

 

 

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.

  

Closets, and cupboards, and shelves, oh My!...What to do with15 minutes.

It is raining and cold today, or should I say, "It is cold for Southern California?" We have been known to complain if we cannot wander barefoot in March.

Dare I say, it is a perfect day to tackle a project that you have been avoiding? 

Do you know what lurks behind your closed doors? Those doors hide the yet-to-be-discarded, might-use-it-someday, will-get-to-it-later, someone-dropped-by-and-I-needed-to-hide-it-quickly stuff of life. And those things crowd out what is important to you by making the space tight and less functional. 

These are spaces that can be tackled one shelf, one cupboard, one box, one closet at a time. One rainy day at a time. One, I have 15 minutes and I want to finish something useful in this time, time.

Being the remove the band-aid slowly kinda girl, I am okay with slow and steady wins the race. You have my permission to set a timer, or set a boundary to the physical space that you are going to tackle. Gather bags and boxes for sorting, and begin!

Choose the space that nags at you the most. A sweet reward awaits you.

I suspect you have a closet that fits this parameter. Why? Because, in my experience, and yes, this is anecdotal, closets are a great place to push things and easy to avoid. We all have them, and they tend to fill up as if by magic.

And because they nag at you, decluttering and reorganizing an overstuffed, no longer easy to use closet feels richly rewarding upon completion. It is that simple.

Know for certain the purpose of this space. If a closet is for cold weather gear, then that is all that belongs there. Designating spaces for "like things" makes finding them easier, makes upkeep easier, and makes letting go easier.

You can see that you have 15 red sweaters when you keep your sweaters together in the same space. Maybe you LOVE all 15 and will choose to keep them. Maybe you didn't realize that you have that many. Maybe you just realized that you do indeed have the sweater you sister insists that she loaned to you.

Remove things that no longer fit, that are damaged, that no longer serve a purpose in your current life. Remove what belongs elsewhere. Remove the items that make you cringe. I know you have them. We all do. And remove what doesn't belong in that space. 

Admittedly, the space that has been nagging at me, is my son's closet. I can hear you all laughing. Upon my request that he do some spring cleaning, he begrudgingly agreed to "work on his closet." He had good intentions, and has removed six tee shirts over the past two days. Sigh!

Since he is an adult and it is his room, there are boundaries and limits that he and I have agreed upon. So while I was just delivering laundry to his room today, and listening to the hailstones pelting his window, I spent 15 minutes sorting through the shirts in his closet. That's it. I quickly reviewed two, two foot sections of his closet in 15 minutes. He has already discarded what he no longer wants in that section, at least for now.

And then, like anyone who has ever worked retail, I lined up everything by color, sleeve length, and material weight. The space is calmer and I expect he will remove a few more pieces when he sees how many, many, MANY gray and black tee shirts that he owns. Ultimately, the decisions are his, but will be less overwhelming because I have removed heavy coats to the coat closet, empty coat hangers to the laundry room, and dirty clothes to the hamper. 

Personal Organizer - Residential


As I write, the El Nino rains have resumed. And, since it is my day off, I think I will stay inside and tackle another closet. Happy Monday!



Letting go of clutter...what you might NOT be expecting

We all expect our homes and offices to look cleaner as we purge and declutter the excesses of our lives. The visual impact of order is calming for many people. These people embrace the process of decluttering and clearing the cobwebs.  

But, it can be worrisome and anxiety producing for those of us who are comforted and accustomed to being surrounded by our many belongings, and who have strong attachments to stuff. There is no shame in preferring that someone hold your hand and guide you through the process of letting go. Do what works for you.

Recent work with a client had us working our way through some of the MANY boxes in her garage. After about an hour, she suddenly, and to my surprise and pleasure, became quite animated. She threw her arms wide, began dancing, and shouting, "THIS is SO liberating; it's SO cleansing!"

She had made the decision to let go of some of the stuff that no longer serves a purpose in her life and was experiencing the joy of making space for something else. Together we overcame the fears blocking her path and were able to accomplish a lot in a short time. 

Letting go opens up space mentally and physically for what IS relevant. The value of the stuff of our lives, ebbs and flows. But letting go is not always as easy as it sounds. 

I recently made the painful decision to remove a tree in my backyard. It was too big for the space, had an unstable root system, and sat too close to our house as well as the neighbor's.  With predictions of a wet winter looming this year, taking it out safely without damage to our property made perfect sense. Simple, right?! No longer needed; remove it. Period. 

But, I have looked out my windows at that tree every morning for 13 years. I watched it grow, as my kids grew. Funny how stuff, and trees, can be a metaphor for life. As I begin a new chapter in my life, I am making space for something new and for changes that extend way beyond my garden.

IMG_5481.jpg

What I didn't expect was how good that open space would feel to me. I feel a new serenity and sense of anticipation.  My home feels bigger somehow, and is lighter, literally. And, the empty space where once there lived a tree is now a cozier spot for my hammock. As much as I love birds, I do not miss having 100+ birds perched in the tree over my head as I sip tea and read a book. Need I say more?!

As I prepare to save and publish this piece, it has begun to rain. I can no longer see the mountains in the distance, just the mist and my back yard, full of promise for planting roses, no doubt, and, for daydreaming from my newly discovered quiet place.

Let go of what you no longer need. You may be surprised at what you find.

Decluttering...let clearing the clutter open up space for healthier living

Wouldn't it be great if decluttering could lead to better emotional and physical health? If you thought that clearing your homes and offices of the things that no longer need you and that you no longer need could be a catalyst for healthy changes that go beyond a productive workspace, a tidy little kitchen, or a streamline closet, would you be intrigued? 

Clearing clutter and making changes that streamline homes and offices have had benefits that extend far beyond what I imagined when I first embraced the idea to share my experience and knowledge with others. No, it has not cured cancer or osteoporosis or the myriad of mental and physical health challenges that people struggle with daily.

But it DOES lead the way to  calmer, more grateful, authentic living, by making it easier to access what we truly need in our environments. By simplifying our surroundings and living with less, we have more time to savor what is most important to us. And that feels great amidst the struggles of what ails us.

Here are three places to begin this process:

YOUR KITCHEN 

If the kitchen is the heart of the home, then it should inspire and invite us to prepare healthy food that nourishes and loves us. If you are tripping over 40 things to get to something way in the back of a cupboard, how likely are you to reach for this item on a regular basis?

Time is precious, so keep what is truly important and vital within easy reach. This means purging the old, perishable (way, way, way past its best by dates) foods, the overflow of free stuff that you never use, and the broken pieces that clog your cabinets.  This also means getting rid of the "turned out I didn't use it, want it, or need it" things. For me it was a pasta maker. I used it once or twice, and then it took up valuable real estate. It was a wedding gift from a dear friend; but, it had already served its purpose. Was a fun toy in the early years of marriage, but I learned that I prefer easy, packaged pasta...or eating out.

For you, it might be your ice cream maker, your counter top mixer, or a four-slice toaster. I LOVE my mixer and use it often enough that it has a special place on my counter. My family eats toast daily, so that is an EASY decision. But, hey, some people don't eat toast. So a toaster could be a dust collector. My ice cream maker is in a cupboard for once in awhile. I cannot remember the last time I made homemade ice cream, but it's 95 degrees today, so it might be a good day to bring it out. There is nothing quite like homemade, frozen yogurt or ice cream.

Bottom line, if you have tools of the trade that you don't need, love or use, share them, donate them, let them go.  You may find that cooking and eating at home is more enjoyable with less clutter; and let's face it, you have a lot more control over what you feed your body when you eat from your own kitchen. As you clear the clutter, you will have more room for mindful, healthy choices that suit your current lifestyle and needs.

Your Closet

Why would decluttering your closet make a difference to your health? Think back to the last time you traveled and didn't overpack...or maybe, you came pretty close because you had choices and everything that you needed with a little overflow for unexpected weather and activities, and it worked.

Having a closet that is streamlined and works for your current life can feel so liberating, and reminiscent of vacation that you want that feeling all of the time. Seriously! Who doesn't love that feeling of having just what you need and then getting on with your day? Do you see where I'm going with this? 

It is a great time of year to review what hangs in your closet, purge what is worn out, stained, no longer fits, or that you no longer feel good in. Just get rid of it. I promise, you won't miss it. 

Some of us see a sea of black, white, and grey. And that's okay. For some of us, keeping it simple makes choosing an outfit painless. I love knowing that everything in my closet looks good together and that I have the accessories that I need. A mostly neutral wardrobe allows me to pop my favorite colors or those that the fashion color of the season dictates. Just be sure you are not adding clutter. Only add what makes your heart sing!

If you tend to be a little more adventurous with color, and shapes when you travel, perhaps, your true self is calling out to you. Listen to her. Maybe this is the year to get rid of the excess and styles that you no longer need, use, or love (sound familiar?) and, to add more color. 

I have a friend, you know who you are, who rocks color everyday. It matches her personality; she is a joy to be around. And her style suits her. And that is the point...be true to yourself, keep it simple, whatever your style. Then getting dressed every day will no longer be a chore. You won't be digging through the over abundance, to find an outfit. You will get dressed for who you want to be today and can get on with living authentically and with less stress. And, isn't that the point of all this.

 

Your Quiet Place

Finally, as you clear the clutter, look for one space in your home or office where you can carve out a quiet place. As you rid yourself of what no longer serves you, you may find the perfect space opens up. It could be a chair by a window that has soft light in the afternoon, or a table overlooking a hummingbird feeder.

Whether you dedicate a whole room, space in your backyard, or a little corner of one room, isn't as important as the act of allowing yourself this space at all. It is there to remind you to pause and stress less.

My quiet place is the sofa in my front room with a table next to it holding books, a candle, and a few throw pillows . It is away from the television, has a view of a pretty tree, and lots of natural light. I love being in this space and feel the tension of the day melt away any time I pause there.

Whatever shape it takes becomes a haven to center yourself, to feel peaceful and calm. Healthier. Keep it simple and in your style, so that you feel inclined to linger.

And, promise yourself that it will not become a place to deposit detritus. Find a way to create a space in your office as well, even if only a corner of the room, as a visual reminder to center and calm yourself during the stresses of your day, and to reassure you that more of this waits for you at home. 

Creating uncluttered spaces that work well for you open you up for a greater sense of health well-being, and this is a good thing.

 

As always, I thank you for stopping by my website and for reading my blog. I hope that you find inspiration or a single idea that makes a difference to your health by leading you toward less stress and more joy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transitioning an empty nest...Yes, There IS Life after 50

Many of my clients have reached that age when their children are moving away from home or have been out of the house for a few years and they are wondering what to do with all of the stuff that has been left behind as their young adults fly the nest.

I know from personal experience that this is an uncomfortable space both physically and emotionally. As you purge and recreate spaces to suit your life, you will take steps to declutter: repurpose, donate, and recycle. Only, some of this stuff was your kids' stuff, the stuff that made up your family life, and even the seemingly trivial of things take on a larger than life value. How can I part with all of this? Who am I without it? Does parting with it negate its former value? Does letting go make me a bad parent?  What will I forget if their stuff is no longer within my sight or touch? If you are like me, these are some of the questions lurking and haunting your brain.

The thought of losing your purpose as you part with the stuff of your life is very common. It can be enough for many people to cling too tightly to too much for too long. Whether your children have taken what they want and have their own stash of sentiments boxed for treasures' sake, or are just beginning the shedding process, there comes a day when the empty spaces stare back at us. Instead of feeling a sense of possibility and excitement, we may feel overwhelming sadness and a sense of loss. I have heard this breaking point referred to as "The Wall of Panic." Ironic, because this is the point where there is actually enough space to really make changes that will move you forward into the next chapter of the book of your life.

I encourage you to trust that you  are going to fill the voids, if not with things, with memories, experiences, and discoveries. There IS life after 50. But it takes great courage and faith to believe that when the dust clears, and there are empty spaces staring back at you, that you are making way for something really good. Not better, just different. Less stress, more joy! Not erasing what was important, but making room for our lives and our hearts to expand.

Here are a few ideas from friends and clients for honoring memories while limiting the space required to house them. Feel free to share your favorite ideas with me. 

  1. Digital scrapbooks/memory books. One of my favorite examples of this is on    erinfarrellphotography.com

  2. Scanned photographs, slides, and negatives done at home or better yet, by a professional. I trust Nelson's Photography in Little Italy to do a great job!

  3. Pieces of favorite garments crafted into a quilt. This can be made using anything from baby clothes, favorite rock concert t-shirts, to your father's favorite silk tie. If you don't sew, hire your favorite quilter to make it personal for you.

  4. Review old cards and letters, keep a few favorites in a pretty box on display and recycle the rest.

Make it fun when you purge with your adult children. Crank up the music, have tasty snacks, and your favorite drinks close at hand. Letting them decide alongside you,  may be all that is needed to let go and to bless someone else with the bulk of it.
 

Hot Spots...tending the embers Keeps them from burning out of control

Let's talk about hot spots. Hot spots are those spaces in your home, office, car where things seem to come and stay, crowding your clear counters and precious real estate. I hate to tell you, but it's up to YOU to remove things. They will not leave on their own.

Never was it so important to remember the golden rule (or guideline) of one in, one out than in these spaces. I could even compare it to planting mint in your garden. Anyone who has made the mistake of planting a pretty little 4 inch pot of mint in their kitchen garden has learned that mint spreads like wildfire and will NEVER leave no matter how often you pull it out.

Our hot spots are like that.  You set your keys and mail down as you enter the kitchen, and then someone asks when dinner will be ready, and the dog needs to go outside, and the phone rings and by the time you get back to the pile of mail, it may be buried under three more days of mail. You may also have spent time looking for your keys. Are you getting the picture yet?

I would like to offer a suggestion. Simple really and many of you already do this. Yay you! Keep a basket or box near your front door for your car keys and set the keys in it as you enter your home...every time. You will never misplace them if you create this habit.

Secondly, mail collections, wherever yours is, seems to be a common hot spot. My rule of thumb, is to handle paper that comes into your home as few times as possible. I sort my mail in the kitchen when I bring it in and immediately dispose of the unwanted recyclable material. This leaves me one or two useful or important items that need further handling. These few envelopes take up a lot less space than the giant pile of mailers and advertisements. Unless you are a coupon clipper and actually use your coupons, do NOT keep this kindling for later. And, yes, there are ways to have yourself removed from mailing lists. There is information regarding this on the internet, but you and I both know that doesn't keep it completely at bay.

Another common hot spot is your car and handbag or wallet. Make it a habit to remove garbage from your car each day and dispose of it immediately.  You are going to thank yourself the next time you get into your car and it is clean and doesn't smell like yesterday's take out! Remove receipts from your wallet and put them in the box on your desk for data entry. Then when you sit down to look at your spending, the receipts are where you need them.

A third hot spot, and one you may not have considered, is wherever you leave your laundry. Anyone with teenagers knows what I am talking about. But adults are not immune to this either. It is amazing how quickly laundry can take over a bedroom. Many people have laundry baskets near or in their bedrooms, but I prefer that it be taken directly to the laundry room. Bedrooms smell fresher and laundry gets handled more quickly. At least that is what works at my house.

Laundry already in the laundry room, means there is a load ready when I start my morning routine. That is not to say that I won't collect the few items scattered on my kids' floor as I pass their rooms. But, the key word here is "few." Before I leave for the day, it goes into the dryer. Everyone has their own basket for clean folded clothing and they know to check there first before asking me where I hid something. This has been a life saver and keeps those piles at bay!

One final, noteworthy hot spot that many of us recognize, is the kitchen table. For some reason, we are quite comfortable dumping books and bags and groceries and projects and notes from teachers and, well,  just about anything can come to rest here.

I have learned to accept that there will be a few things on my kitchen table that have nothing to do with our dining experience. But what helps at our house is that each person has their designated spot and can only use that spot. Now when there is a note that I need to read, my kids will leave it at my spot on the table. I will read and sign it or whatever the case may be and return it to their spot and that's it. And, since the table gets cleared for mealtime, the piles cannot take up permanent residence.

Putting Things Away...a place for everything and everything in its place

Put things away after you use them.

Keep things where you use them.

Awesome guidelines. But...what do you do when you don't have the space to put everything away much less room to put things where you actually use them?

Whether you have 800 square feet or 8000 square feet there are rules of thumb that will help you feel more organized and zen in your spaces. And following these golden rules, or let's say "guidelines," the possibilities will grow. Making peace with your things and then moving them where you use them is paramount to finding your happy ending. But it won't happen by magic.

Making peace with your things requires heavy lifting; remove unwanted items, keep only those things that make your heart sing, are truly useful to you or you know you will need in the future.

"Removing things and getting rid of the excess is the first step to finding space for what you DO treasure or need. "

Begin by clearing out the trash, and boxing up the items that you will share with others, be it the friend's borrowed book or an extra toaster you no longer need. There are people out there with less than you and your excess is a blessing to them. Be honest about broken and unusable items. They have served a purpose and now must lay to rest.

You may discover after clearing a row of books, for instance, that you now have space for the stack of references for work. Just be sure that this shelf is near your work table or desk or you may forget that you have these tomes of wisdom. For many of us, "out of sight, out of mind," is a reality, reason enough to keep things where you use them.

After you have cleared out your unwanted items, you may discover that you have enough space to put everything away that has been piling up. Yay, get to it!!

I encourage you to put your things away daily, or better yet as you are finished with them. Spending 10 minutes once or twice a day, helps to manage  your clutter and is much less intimidating than spending hours and weeks less often.

Don't despair if you are not at a point where you can put everything away yet. For most of us, this process of sorting,  purging, and decluttering takes multiple chunks of time because it is both physically and emotionally exhausting. Take breaks and stop to appreciate what you have already accomplished rather than focusing solely on what is yet to be done. And then plan when you will continue working.

If you have homeless stacks of truly usable, necessary items, you may need to add organizing furniture pieces. Be sure to take measurements and be honest about your budget. If having a nice desk is not a priority but you need a place to put your work papers at the end of the day or a place for your computer or printer, consider a folding table and chair. Costco sells both at a very reasonable cost. A comfortable, ergonomic chair is a high priority if you spend hours each day sitting at a desk.

A few of my favorite places for finding organizing pieces are Staples, The Container Store, and local salvage and antique stores. You will find shelving units, and stacking carts and boxes and bins in every style, size and color.

When my children were young, I purchased Elfa Units for their toys for functional and efficient use of space. At the time it felt like extravagant spending but those carts have been used for years and for different purposes as my family has grown. They have been worth their weight in gold!

Toys and outgrown treasure...a topic for another day! Meanwhile...forge on!!

Spring Into New Year's Action...begin right here, right now

Why wait for Spring to get started. If you are motivated and inspired, then why not start today?

One of my favorite movies is "Under the Tuscan Sun." The protagonist, Frances, has purchased a house in Tuscany and in a moment of panic and overwhelm she says, "The trick to overcoming buyer's remorse is to have a plan. Pick a room and make it yours." I do not have buyer's remorse, but I DO understand the feeling of overwhelm. Whether you feel a sense of dread over post holiday clean up, or feel overwhelm due to life changes, I propose that you pick a room or a space in your home that is not being used to its best ability and consider changing it to make it your own.

Whether you have 15 minutes or 15 hours at your disposal, there are small tasks and projects that will make a tangible difference to your comfort and use of your spaces. Take those increments of time and repeat often until you feel and see the change that make a difference to you. Block out time on your calendar and commit to creating an environment that works for your life as it is right here, right now.

First step is choosing one space or room in which to work your magic.  Let me share what I am doing in my own spaces in hopes that it will help you to visualize.  I found myself with New Year's Day completely open and at my disposal. I wandered through my house, room by room and found one space calling to me for change. The space felt heavy!  Despite pretty furniture and freshly painted walls, beautiful art and good lighting, it was missing something. And, I acknowledged that no one spends much time in this room. Even guests will gravitate to the family room, which although always a bit messy and dusty, has an air of comfort, a welcoming quality. My daughter weighed in on this and with her careful honesty shared her thoughts on what would make the unused room more inviting. Real estate is too valuable to sit empty as they say; so I listened with an open mind!

Step two is to move and use existing materials. I urge you not to rush out to bring more into this space. Live with it and look for things in other parts of your home that will make this newly repurposed space work even better. You probably have many treasures that make your heart sing.

Step three, keep only those things that bring a smile to your face, or serve the purpose you choose for this particular space. This goes beyond de-cluttering and cleaning. This is about creating a new energy in your surroundings. Remove unwanted items from the room. Period! These items go into one of three places, the garbage, the sharing pile, or the recycle pile. Do not bring them back into the room. If they belong somewhere else in the house, put them away! The space will begin to feel different, more open and lighter. At this point in the process, I like to sit for a minute and savor this feeling before moving on to the next steps.

Step four, look at the space from several angles while positioning the furniture. No one likes to sit facing away from the door or entry. I am currently working on the room that you enter from my front door. Adjusting the seating has already made a difference to how the room feels and I noticed that my son came in, sat, and chatted with me few times over the course of the afternoon. He had helped me schlepp the heavy pieces and is now a stakeholder in the success of this project.

Step five, finishing touches may include dusting and cleaning the floors and windows and  a little paint touchup on newly exposed walls or baseboards. No time like the present. And if you have put your label maker to good use, the paint cans in your garage will be easy to sort through and this little refresh will take but a few minutes. More on labeling later.

For now, Happy New Year and let's do it it with less stress.

October...anticipating the holidays with a happy heart and clean windows

I LOVE this time of year! The evenings are cool and the leaves are falling from my birch trees.

I'm  not sure how much my neighbors appreciate the leaves that blow their way, but these are signs that some of my favorite holidays are approaching. I have yet to make my lists. I am pausing first to reflect upon what is truly important to me. And, I have chosen to treat myself to something simple.

This year, I am beginning the season with clean windows. Yes, you read correctly! There is something wonderful about having squeaky clean windows. Turns out...again...that mom was right! I have a lovely view from my back windows and expect to see even more of it through clean glass.

Whatever is it that lightens your load a little bit before the holiday madness begins, consider it for yourself. Be prepared to enjoy the rush headlong into the fray from October to January.

Clean carpets

Polish floors

Clean gutters

Fill the bird feeders...but be prepared to repeat frequently!

And then sit with a cup of tea near your favorite window, make your lists and hang on to your hat!!