Getting started...sifting through the stuff of your life gracefully and with kindness!

Sometimes, getting started can feel paralyzing, even for an organizer like myself.  I have honed my skills by implementing ideas, strategies, and systems, with an open mind toward paying attention to what is serving my family well, and what isn't. For me the keys are getting to the heart of what matters and then breaking them down into manageable pieces. 

As I move through my home, my schedule, my life, I keep a clear vision of a home and a life of love, joy, beauty, order, harmony and balance. Theses images and feeling are what I value. They influence how I make decisions regarding my environment and schedule.  The process of decluttering, repurposing, and reorganizing ultimately leads me to less stress and more joy.

Through this process, I juggle time, money, energy and changing needs, as anyone does. And, there are times that I feel overwhelmed just like anyone. I have heard it said that a confused mind says, "No!" I can certainly relate to that!

When too much stuff and too full a schedule are competing for our attentions, it is no wonder that we shut down and take detours that lead us further away from our intended goals. When I feel like this, I ask myself what is the one thing that  I can do or change that will make an immediate difference. And, then, I DO it! 

This shift in focus and positive action are often all I need to find the momentum and encouragement to keep going in the direction of what matters.   

One final thought as you begin to sort through the stuff of your life. Do so with self-compassion and the same kindness that you would show a friend, avoiding the harsh judgmental words that question "what took me so long to get here." The point is that you ARE starting. 

To borrow Dinah Maria Mulock Craik's beautiful words, 

"...But pouring them them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; 

certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, 

 keep what is worth keeping, 

and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away." 

Holiday Thing Management...making peace with your things requires a little courage and a little creativity

There are signs everywhere that the holidays are upon us. And, I LOVE it! But there is a real danger in becoming overwhelmed and overloaded by our THINGS, especially at this time of year!!! As all of the pretty ornaments and holiday themed decorations and wonderful specialty items go on display, we are tempted to throw caution to the wind and bring yet more into our homes, sometimes without thought as to where they will live for the other 11 months of the year, or whether we really even need them.

The need question is simple to answer. But there will be no judgement from me. I just spent an hour at Crate and Barrel sighing over this year's Christmas tree ornaments and even bought a few. What it is different for me this year, however, is that I have a plan and a place to keep them after the holidays.

Last year, I sorted through every box and bag of decorations that had collected over the years, and shed myself of quite a few things that I no longer really cherished or needed. There will be more of that as the boxes come out again this year and I will take another critical look and shed a few more things.

Here are a few ideas for keeping holiday thing management under control:

1. Share/give away/throw away one item for every item that you bring into your home...okay one for every two or three things if you have the storage space and are building your collection. But, be honest, be brave! And, remember that sharing is a blessing!

2. Consider Coco Chanel's motto of less is more and take the last item out of your cart and put it back onto the shelf.

3.  If a THING calls loudly to you, and won't stop, consider it for someone on your shopping list; wrap and label it for that person immediately so as to remove the temptation to keep it for yourself.

4. Decorate early in the season, savor the ambience longer, and move on to the other elements of the holiday that you enjoy!

5. Consider experiences as a part of your holiday to-do list: The Boat Parade of Lights, Christmas Card Lane,  a party or potluck with friends, a trip to Starbuck's on the first day that the red cups arrive! You get the idea. I celebrate Christmas; so am focused there. But the same encouragement holds true for Hanukkah or other Winter holidays and holds true for Thanksgiving and Halloween as well.

6. Find a buddy to make the task of sorting decorations more fun and then return the favor. Have lively music and delicious refreshments on hand.

7. As you sort through your boxes of holiday treasures and decorations, remember that gently used or never used items can be wrapped and given to toy drives and other charity events. Be creative and generous! And do it early in the season so that others have more time to savor their new treasures.

8. Finally, as you make your way through the holiday season, repeatedly ask yourself the tough questions: Why am I keeping this? Why am I buying this?

No, I don't need four plastic pumpkins for trick or treating.  My children no longer trick or treat. The flip side of this record is, yes, I DO need an extra string of lights. Do NOT wait until two weeks before Christmas and expect to find twinkle lights lining the shelves of your favorite stores.

Or, you could consider using fewer lights! For me, this is one place Coco and I disagree. More is more when it comes to twinkling lights in December! Just remember to consider where you will shelter them the remainder of the year.