organizing strategies

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

 

 

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. 

 

 

 

 

Everything I need, and nothing that I don't...beginning with the end in mind

 

I listen to many genres of music, but one of my favorites is country. For me, the lyrics are plain, sweet truths and often get to the heart of what matters. One that has caught my ear many times is, "Homegrown," written by Niko Moon, Wyatt Brown, and Zachary Brown. The lyrics sing joyfully of having just what you "need and nothin' that you don't." I like that! 

What if you were to begin with the end in mind and expect to find joy with less stuff? Would you feel inspired to reevaluate your surroundings, home and office, and to consider letting go of what no longer fits into your current life?

What if I told you that having just what you need and truly want in your life opens up your spaces and redirects your energy toward what is important to you?

It is now the second month of the new year. What will you do with your space and time? How do you get to the place of joy with less?  

It is easy to become overwhelmed when you look at the big picture, especially if it has been a long time since you spent time organizing your home or office. I am going to give you a few guidelines  to help you stay focused on your goal with a manageable first step.

Clear your surfaces and open storage spaces. 

A lot of unnecessary items congregate and fill up surfaces and open storage/shelves until they are overflowing and the room no longer functions in a way that pleases you. And let's be honest, facing the clutter and disarray is stressful, anxiety producing, and even shaming.

I have a client who didn't used to take the time to file or purge no longer relevant materials. He is a busy man, and his time is best spent doing what he does best.  The problem was that there was nowhere to sit in his office, and no surface for a notebook during meetings. This is not ideal when you have daily meetings with staff and colleagues. Keeping surfaces clear on a regular basis has made a huge difference in the function of his work space. 

Keeping surfaces clear for the work that needs to be done there, whether it is peeling carrots for dinner or taking notes and brainstorming the next big project at work, is critical.

Before you start, grab 4 boxes or bins and label them…Trash, Donate, Recycle, Relocate

I find it helpful to begin at one end of a counter and then work clockwise through the room. That way I don’t jump around and miss something. 

Here are a few questions to ask as you touch each item.

            1. Is this item useful, relevant or important to me?

            2. Do I use it in this room?

Sounds obvious, but things have a way of migrating into other parts of our homes, offices, and lives. If it needs to stay in the room and has a designated place, put it away. If not, then put it in the Relocate box. If the answer is "NO" and it is no longer relevant or useful in your current life and does not have a purpose in the near future, it either goes into the trash, the recycle bin, or the donation bin. You decide.

Clearing your open spaces is a practical first step. You will be greeted by clear, calm spaces every time you enter the room which may be just the encouragement you need to look behind the closed doors.

Organizing Solutions


But that is a next step. And, we will get there, one thing at a time.

           


Travel planning off the beaten path...The Who, what, where, when, and why of it all.

I have traveled alone and with friends, with my husband, and later, my ex-husband & kids (yes, really!), pregnant, and solo with my children at every stage from infancy to adulthood.  What I know for certain is that each trip brought happy moments, adventures, and, yes, challenges to finding joy. Such memories!

Being the resourceful (stubborn) woman that I am, although I find anticipatory planning is critical to my comfort, I also find it equally important to be adaptable and find ways to enjoy and cherish my travels along the way. On those rare trips where the challenges overwhelmed me, I learned valuable insight into what I truly need to be happy when I travel. I would encourage you to search your heart for the same discoveries. It will make your travels all the richer for it.

No matter who I travel with, where I go, or what hiccups we meet along the way, I have noticed a few common threads that have made it easiest to relax, immerse myself in the present moment, and to return home refreshed. 

1. Know why you are traveling.

Sounds simple enough. But honestly, you are setting yourself up for anxiety and conflict if you cannot answer this simple question: "Why am I going?" Following someone else's list of "must sees" can be a recipe for disaster. If you are fan of art, then entering 30 art museums may be your version of paradise.

If you become bored after the fifth Monet then daily visits to art museums does not belong on your list. If seeing sculpture but no paintings is what makes your heart sing, then skip the sections of the museum that do not interest you. There is no one right way, just your way! It is YOUR vacation. So honor your own agenda.

Before leaving for my recent travels to Ireland, someone asked me "Why Ireland?" My initial, silent response, was "Are you kidding??" But it is a fair question. We are all drawn to different places and experiences.

Ireland is one of the most beautiful and inviting places that I have visited.  The Irish exude a fierce pride in their hard fought independence and anguish over memories of centuries old losses. Yet the Irish are some of the most genuine, and generous people I have ever met.

Keem Beach, Achill Island, Ireland 

Keem Beach, Achill Island, Ireland 

I was traveling with my son, cameras in hand. We agreed that our focus would be seeking local lore, megalithic tombs,  ancient fortresses, and majestic coastal views. Ireland was the perfect place to venture with these purposes in our hearts. We have family history and living relatives there, connections that called us to explore for ourselves. It is liberating to let go of someone else's to-do list and to focus upon what makes your own heart sing! 

2.Keep it simple, Take Time to linger- WHAT YOU DO MATTERS

Again this seems obvious, but an overly ambitious itinerary doesn't leave time to savor unexpected discoveries. I had booked two nights on a working farm near Kilkenny, called Lawcus Farms. It had wonderful reviews on Trip Advisor; but they honestly didn't come close to describing the magical essence of the place. I felt an immediate ease and sense of calm upon entering this beautiful place and as if I was leaving family after only two days with Ann-Marie and Mark. We came home with much more than beautiful photographs, in part because we did not hold tightly to a prescribed itinerary. We allowed time to linger.

Lawcus Farm, Stoneford, near Kilkenny. There is a mixture of humor, history, and sentiment in this home. I was deeply moved by a personal photograph in their kitchen with this inscription, "if it is meant to be, it will not pass you..." Lovely.

Lawcus Farm, Stoneford, near Kilkenny. There is a mixture of humor, history, and sentiment in this home. I was deeply moved by a personal photograph in their kitchen with this inscription, "if it is meant to be, it will not pass you..." Lovely.

3.Travel off season WHEN you have a choice.

If you have had the luxury of traveling off season when places are less crowded, then you know how wonderful travel can really be. It is easier to find lodging, the lines are shorter, and wait times for entering points of interest are almost nil.

Knowing that you can change your plan without consequence is attractive to many people. Booking lodgings as you go can be freeing, and safely done off season. That said,  I have found that knowing where I am staying each night allows me to relax and enjoy the daily excursions. Even traveling off season, having my lodging arrangements in place gives me a framework for my travels and the peace of mind to become immersed in the moments. 

After a long day of explorations and driving on some of the tiniest roads known to man, (okay I haven't been on every road known to man, so this COULD be an exaggeration), we arrived in Strandhill, Sligo. There are no street lights and very few signs to guide you. But I had booked a bed and breakfast inn ahead of time. All I had to do was find the white house with the dormer windows, IN THE DARK, on a country road barely wide enough for two cars. Yup! 

Needless to say, I phoned the inn and spoke with the couple who run it. I was asked what landmarks I could see...really!! It was pitch black but I finally passed a pub, clearly marked, and shortly after, the church where he asked me to stop and wait. Five minutes later he drove up, flashed his lights and escorted us to our destination..white house, dormer windows, warm welcome! 

Megalithic tomb, Carrowmore, Strandhill, Sligo, Ireland                       

Megalithic tomb, Carrowmore, Strandhill, Sligo, Ireland                       

 

4.Know WHERE TO STAY-When in doubt, find a Bed and  Breakfast Inn

I highly recommend Bed and Breakfast Inns when traveling, especially when journeying to a foreign country. The proprietors know the local lore and sites and will recommend good restaurants and alternate routes that take you past incredible sites that are not always found in your typical guidebooks. You are guaranteed a warm, hearty breakfast, interesting conversation, and a warm welcome upon your return from your day's adventures.

One of the locals at Park South Bed and Breakfast Inn, Mallow, Cork

One of the locals at Park South Bed and Breakfast Inn, Mallow, Cork

Choosing places where my own family have stayed in the past made sense as I was making reservations. Having a trusted advisor recommend a place so far from home was reassuring. And, we were greeted like old friends. Charming!

5.know who you are with and your own limitations

No matter how much you enjoy the person with whom you are traveling, travel requires patience, consideration, give and take, and a good sense of humor. Having open communication and a willingness to compromise are critical. Discuss ahead of time with your travel mates their most important agenda items. 

Know each person's requirements for privacy, and factor those things into your itinerary as well. It is up to you do your own homework regarding dietary restrictions and medications before you leave for your destination so that it doesn't weigh heavily upon everyone else.

At the same time, know that unforeseen illnesses and injuries are a part of daily life no matter where you are. Be prepared to slow down if need be and accept this change as an opportunity to linger or read that book that is at the bottom of your suitcase.

Finally, remember that you are a guest whenever you travel. Be grateful for the opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture and know that please and thank you are welcome sounds in any language! 

Sláinte!