Organizing—Enjoying the Process

Organizing—Enjoying the Process

13728817133_08f448f3b1_z“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned”.  Benjamin Franklin

This week I devoted about four (very hot) hours to organizing our attic. As I had plenty of time to think, I recalled some of my clients and the things I’ve learned.

One lady I helped recently made quick decisions as I held up each item from her closet. I was so inspired by her lack of attachment that I spent time going through my closet again and letting go of even more things.

I thought of a project from last year. This client saved everything for a future potential use. We spent quite a few hours together and really connected. We laughed and joked, sometimes in a self-deprecating way. We were Lucy and Ethel. At one point I was literally backed into a closet. I attempted to pull all the discards and donations out, passing them to her as she sat on a wobbly table. While she examined contents of bags and boxes, I started to cry out, “I’m stuck in here, let me out!” It was approaching lunch time and I was, in her words, the benevolent dictator, and insisted that we not stop until everything in the walk-in closet had been evaluated. She was telling me that she had me just where she wanted me and I would not leave until the whole room was in order! I loved her good hearted nature and positive attitude amidst a very difficult season of life. I wanted to have a grateful and cheerful demeanor like hers.

As I worked in my attic, some ideas came to mind:

  • It’s okay to take time making decisions about some things. My dad, who passed away two months ago, was a gifted wood-worker. In the attic I found a large wooden trivet, inlaid with decorative tiles,  that he’d carefully created. I realized, because of its weight and size, I’ll probably never use it. I gave myself permission to defer donating it, for now, as grief is still palpable.
  • An item that’s not loved and used can be tossed. I found the custom made table pad for our antique dining table which we have never used. “I might need it someday” is not a legitimate reason to keep stuff.
  • Let go of things if they were designed for a certain season of life.  They may have already served their purpose.  Bring closure by letting them go. With this in mind, I was able to donate a lot of framed pictures and canvases.
  • Cull things that can easily be replaced should you need them some day. I often say things to my clients like, “That old bed pillow can be replaced for a few bucks.”  “You can donate  your old sheets to the animal shelter. You deserve to sleep on nice sheets!” “Think of the space we’re creating by letting go!”
  • Some special items can be displayed as art. Living on the coast, I’ve helped several clients hang surfboards on their walls. This serves a dual purpose—art and a convenient storage system. Oftentimes people lack garage storage space. Guitars and other instruments can be mounted on the wall. Treasures such as classic record albums, vintage uniforms, flags or baby clothing can be framed and mounted,
  • For memorabilia limit yourself to one container per category. There is one client who has a two-car garage literally filled with boxes of clothing, sports equipment and school papers from her now adult children. They represent her favorite era—raising kids. I have encouraged her to fill one container with favorite items from each child. Removing the plethora of boxes is a big win for her safety and for space!

I’m honored to have assisted many intelligent, creative and capable people. Sorting through, organizing, and evaluating your own personal stuff takes courage and determination. Folks often need an accountability partner, another perspective, a person to keep them motivated, and ask hard questions.

I leave projects feeling tired, but accomplished. Clients feel lighter, inspired and excited about continuing to create order, beauty and warmth in their homes. We enjoy the process!

Homes are our largest financial investment and the one place we can be ourselves and relax with our loved ones. They are worth our investment of time and effort! What’s your next step in creating a place that truly nourishes and supports your family?

“Our life is frittered away by detail . . . simplify, simplify.”  Henry David Thoreau

Some Thoughts on Goal Setting

img_7852“The flowers of tomorrow are in the seeds of today…”

I first heard about setting goals when I was twenty-something. I loved the idea. I’m a dreamer. For several years I would, excitedly, as the new year dawned, write down all the things I wanted to accomplish and the self improvements I would make. My goals would always include losing weight and eating healthier. I may have stuck to my plan for a short while, but I don’t remember experiencing any lasting changes. What was so exhilarating on January first felt like failure on December thirty-first.

One year an awareness came to me. I realized I’d been randomly making lists without consulting God about what His ideas for me were. I began to pray and fast and ask God what He wanted me to accomplish. This changed everything. I realized His plans were much more manageable and doable. “His yoke is easy and His burden is light”, I thought.

I realized something else about goal setting. My “goals” were just fun ideas: lose weight, eat healthy, read my Bible, etc. There were no steps to reach goals, no completion dates and far too lofty expectations. A goal is the end toward which effort is directed. It’s something you’re trying to achieve. What brings success is a step by step process that results in the specific accomplishment we desire.

A few suggestions:

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to bring His purposes to your mind. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10.) It helps me to think in terms of the various roles He has already assigned to me: wife, mom, business owner, mentor; and ask what is next in these areas.
  • Jot down the ideas that come to mind in stream of consciousness style, knowing you can hone in on the main elements later.
  • Try to end up with one or two goals in each area that you’re considering. If you make a long glorious list like I used to make, you’ll be frustrated.
  • Choose reasonable reachable goals. Drinking sixteen ounces of water each day when you usually drink none will be a win! Walking around the block or a set distance four times a week may be more doable than vaguely stating you’ll join a gym and work out six times a week. Joining a gym is great, just don’t set yourself up for failure.
  • Make goals that will challenge you but are attainable.
  • Create specifically written dated goals so you’ll know when they’ve been achieved. Keep track of daily and weekly progress. Set the frequency for your action steps and keep track of your progress.
  • Commit to the process more than the goal. Focus daily on your processes and habits that you’re developing.  Your goal may be obtaining a master’s degree. Track the number of pages you need to read each day or the hours you study in order to cover all material by a certain date. If we focus only on the long-term goal it can seem obscure and impossible. It’s easier to track our daily processes.
  • Post your goals and review your daily plan often. It helps me to write action steps on my calendar.
  • Pause and consider why you’re setting goals. For instance, I’m eating healthy and exercising because I want to enjoy my granddaughter and future grandkids :). I read inspiring and challenging books daily (C. S. Lewis, the Bible, etc. ) because I want to grow in my faith and reflect Christ to those around me. I read books and listen to podcasts about minimalism, organizing and staging so I’ll benefit my clients.

I hope my ideas help! Here’s to a happy and productive 2017!

‘”Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment “as to the Lord.” It is only our daily bread that we are encouraged to ask for. The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received.”                                                   The Weight of Glory, by C.S. Lewis


Computers Make Me Cry

Computers Make Me Cry


“Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before you learned it.” Maya Angelou

Change and growth can be painful; also they’re inevitable and imperative. What hard things are you facing that make you want to give up? What purpose or calling looms for you? What ideas and dreams permeate your thinking?

I’ve been pondering those very questions and I’m determined to conquer my own hurdles!

A few months ago, I made some new friends. They were all young and they wore matching shirts. The first night hanging out went well. A patient young man helped me make some big decisions.

I realized I had a lot to learn and what better teachers than these smart people? They all seemed to be bilingual. I first noticed this when a tall, nice looking guy spoke to me across a counter. Our eyes seemed to lock, or maybe it was just that my eyes became completely glazed. Anyway, he said something that sounded like, “Your ‘smpt’… blah blah blah…and your incoming mail… blah blah blah… and your outgoing server… blah blah blah is not compatible and will not interface with the new system…blah blah blah…and basically you made a big mistake creating files for your inbox…blah blah blah…”

I calmly (like a zombie) said to him, “I’m sorry; I don’t speak that language; I’ve been trying to learn it for years, but I have no idea what you just said.”

I spent over a week with my new “friends”, visiting them most evenings and regularly speaking to Jamie, James, Daniel and the whole gang on the phone.  I imagined that we would be celebrating Thanksgiving together at my house in a few weeks. We were all getting so familiar with each other. It wasn’t my favorite way to make friends. It felt too forced and stressful. My situation was unique and more difficult than most. I think they were trying to tell me that I was special. I even told one of them—I think it was Daniel—that having me there would prove to be a very good training for them. “It’s good for you to spend time with me because there are a lot of people out there like me.” I know they were glad for the encouragement.

I came close to giving up; I almost resigned myself to writing on a yellow ledger pad and talking on the phone instead of emailing. Could I survive without a computer? I was seriously pondering this question. My parents, years earlier, had eschewed computer technology, which I didn’t get at the time. Somehow they survived. Now I was beginning to understand why. It is too hard, it’s not intuitive and it made me want to scream.

But, instead, I started to cry because that was quieter and less disruptive. I got away before the tears were very obvious. I made a decision. I’ll go forward and get whatever help I need to learn the new things and the hard things so I won’t find myself lost and behind. It’s the way our whole world communicates, for Pete’s sake. And here I sit writing this post on my new laptop. There is a ton on it that I still don’t understand or have set up properly, but there are helpers out there! I learned that from the friends in matching shirts.

Now, the geek squad and computer technology may not be your Achilles’ heel. But we all face hurdles as we move ahead in life. What do you need today to bring you closer to accomplishing your goals? Today take one small step in the right direction. Baby steps. No one else can play your part.

“She was unstoppable, not because she did not have failures or doubts, but because she continued on despite them.” Beau Taplin



The Art of Procrastination

The Art of Procrastination

T4663527418_282ffe1465_boday I repaired 3 items of clothing. I mended. This is something to write home about. I have successfully, artfully, procrastinated this task for months. The whole process, which included locating a missing item, took approximately 23 minutes. The number of minutes I have burdened my mind with this task and the guilt of not doing it; those minutes are immeasurable. I mean, why in the world would I put off something so simple and doable? Especially when the reward is such a feeling of relief and accomplishment.

Perfectionists are skilled procrastinators. People like me tend to have a low tolerance for frustration and failure. We often wait for that elusive moment when the stage or workspace is set perfectly for the task at hand.  It has been said that perfectionism is the highest form of self-abuse because perfection is not achievable. Rather, we need to seek excellence. We perfectionists are often too concerned about expectations of others. Currently, I’m attempting to silence the thoughts about what others may think, and be true to my passion and calling. This is especially pertinent in the scary writing of blog posts!

There is a great essay on, by Denise Jacobs,  entitled Breaking the Perfectionism – Procrastination Infinite Loop. She states some of the reasons we procrastinate.

  • complicated task anxiety
  • fear of imperfection
  • lack of self-confidence
  • priority confusion
  • lack of focus
  • indecision
  • boredom from minutae

I can relate to all of these points. For me, it all comes down to what do I really want. Is defaulting to Facebook or IG a good choice when I could be making progress on an important goal? Will I put aside the time-wasters, the mindless curiosities, and tackle the first step of a valuable piece of work? All it takes, I have found, is to take that first step. The hardest step! Setting up the sewing machine, sitting down with my laptop, or picking up the phone to call that client. That’s what it takes. The first step can magically move me into the heart of the project and I amazingly see progress where I doubted I would. For me, it’s a step of faith. Knowing that God will assist me to do what He has put in my heart to do.

Now, may I encourage you my friends? What is that one thing that looms in your mind, relentlessly interrupting your thoughts. Please, don’t put it off – begin today. It may take only minutes. If it’s a larger project, take the first step today. Then, divide the project into doable chunks of time and schedule those sessions! Put them on your calendar like an appointment you’d make with someone else. The satisfaction you will feel during the process and at the completion of the project will be so worth your investment. You can do it!

“Putting it off doesn’t make it go away. Getting it done does.’

Ned Hollowell, Driven to Distraction