- I didn’t know I had that.
- I was hoping to fit into those again.
- I don’t know where this came from.
- I was going to give this to my son, but he doesn’t want it.
- Do I need 3 of these?
- Look at all of this space!
- I haven’t even opened this.
- I paid a lot of money for that, I can’t just give it away.
- My mother gave this to me and I don’t really want it.
- I feel so much better.
Prime Real Estate
Let me just start by saying I could not have picked a client that I had more in common with. Mel had the same taste I do in movies, books, art, and is a phenomenal artist. She was doing the job I dreamed of doing when I got my unused degree in graphic design. Sorting through her things was like going through your mothers closet as a child. Everything was a bit magical and I was impressed by her collections.
But there was no place for anything. There are many different kinds of organization. What works for one person can be a fiasco for another. If your home organization system does not work with the flow of your space or how your brain works and organizes, it is not sustainable. Mel had piles of beautiful things, but her cupboards were empty. She had no clue where to put things, so she didn’t. She was unable to use her kitchen table or draw because there was no space clear. It made her feel very claustrophobic and she had no idea where to start in the organization process.
I began working in Mel’s house in the living room. Mel was working from home due to covid, and we felt she would get immediate relief from having a clear workspace that was not set up on her couch (she also ate, watched tv, and rested there). Being able to walk away from work at the end of the day would be a great relief to Mel. The progress was quite visible in the first session, and that would make her see the value of the process immediately, something I really enjoy. It was a bit of a surprise how little Mel actually had to get rid of. This job was actually an organization project, rather than a downsizing project. You see, Mel never learned as a child how to use the space in her home to create a flow. She came from a very cluttered home, and that carried over into her adult life. As we discussed what was ‘prime real estate’ in the living room, Mel had a lot of “ah ha” moments.
Prime real estate in your home is the central working areas. This means putting things directly within reach of the task being performed. Not understanding this process is what kept Mel from putting things away in the cupboards. She had gone through her home several times and found that within a month, it became undone. This was because the placement was wrong for her. Things used everyday were too far away from where she used them, or things that were seldom used were in the prime spots. I could see when sorting through Mel’s belongings that there was a flow based on where things were, in piles and that is where we created space for them. This created a sustainable organization system for her and actually improved her affection for her living space and her belongings. As we uncovered the table, the excitement was palpable. After I left that day, Mel texted me and said “I ate at my table for the first time in years! I even got out my good cloth napkins!”
This is why I love this work. The proof is in its sustainability. Pay attention to what gets undone the fastest in your home and where those items end up shifting to. It is a clue to how to adjust the prime real estate in your home and make it fit your lifestyle. Every pile tells a story. Listen.
If you have downsizing/organizing needs in the Eugene, Oregon area, CONTACT me.
Home Office Organization
I am amazed at how many credit card offers I get in one day. Coupled with insurance renewals, cell phone deals, and all the other crap that lands in my mailbox, it can be extremely overwhelming. I would find myself moving papers from place to place in my home because I felt weary just looking at them. I would gather them all on one place and throw them in my file cabinet. Out of sight, out of mind? Ugh. The future me clearly was not consulted in this though process. When I needed my passport to travel out of the country (!) the mountain of unwanted papers were hiding what I needed. This had to stop.
Does this sound familiar? I have a solution.
The first step is to get a new bin with a lid that to put in a high traffic area in your home. Something that can be kind of tucked away, but isn’t too small. If you are anything like me, a bright color will not make you feel stabby. Now head to that file cabinet (or desk, or table… no judgement here. Could be all three) and dump all of the papers that have accumulated in this bin. Deep breath. Do not pre-sort. This is a trap not to get caught in right now.
Next, go to the dollar twenty-five tree and get three garbage pails with no lids, one file folder, one basket to stack papers in flat, and a sharpie. This is the new organization system for your home. Write on the first pail RECYCLE, the second will be SHRED, and the final will be FILE ( I am assuming you have a trash bin in this space. If not, please get a fourth can for trash). Line the cans up near your new bin and admire how well you have prepared for this job and celebrate your success.
Now, decide when your sorting time will be. It might be while watching TV or right after dinner. But designate a time- at the minimum once a week- to sort one file folder worth of papers. The flat basket is for paper that need attention, and the other pails are pretty self-explanatory. Do more if it feels good, but do no less that one file folder a sitting. Empty the pails you can at the end of each session. Do you feel relief? Do not worry about how long the project is going to take or how long you waited to set up this system. What matters is NOW. Celebrate that your home office organization is happening now. Rockstar! Yes, you!!
When the large bin is empty, what should be left is a FILE pail, and a basket of papers that need attention. The pails can now be moved next to the desk and used as the mail arrives. This is now a familiar system to you and should honestly take less than a minute to do daily or twice a week. Place the “needs attention” bin on the desk, and let yourself feel excited that everything has a home and your journey to being organized in your home office is halfway complete.
The second stage of this process is a bit harder, not gonna lie. The designated time for your home office organization will now be filing important papers and taking action on the papers and accounts that need it. Do the filing one file folder at a time, because you know it works. This can be scary, but it is also liberating. How exciting to be taking control of your business life and making sure your important information is secure. You are on track. If calls need to be made, try to do one or two a week until the pile is gone. How satisfying!
Finally, once all of the paperwork around your home has been sorted, filed and attended to, the system will be reduced sorting the mail as it comes in. Then action and filing only happens weekly. In many instances monthly statements can be scanned to the computer or can go paperless to stop the influx of paper all together. Often companies will give discounts for going paperless. How’s that for a win/win? If a better filing system is needed, it is absolutely stunning how many options there are and how beautiful they are. Remember to start simple and celebrate every single victory along the way.
If you have downsizing/organizing needs in the Eugene Oregon area CONTACT me.
Change is Hard
Standing in front of a beautifully designed built-in cabinet with the dishes arranged ‘just so’ I heard my client say, “No. This feels off.”
Wait. What? Didn’t we talk about what you used the most and put them at eye level? Aren’t the stoneware and the blues and the vintage pieces grouped and all in the exact place that makes sense? I felt disheartened and a bit deflated. This really felt right. It felt decluttered and spacious. In fact, my brain felt at peace when I peered into the cabinet… but why didn’t she like it?
As a home organizer, I make a lot of change happen in a very short period of time. I come into a home, and in 3-5 hours I will ask a client to get rid of belongings, put those belongings in a different place, and completely change what is familiar. It’s a lot. It makes the brain tired. It can make clients feel like they have to explain why they want to keep objects and what they mean to them. Easy, right? No. It’s hard.
I began to wonder as I was obsessing for a whole weekend over that cabinet and how I could have done it differently. I wondered if my design sense was vastly different from my clients, or if it was just an off day. I pondered if we would work together again, or if that cabinet was deal breaker.
I also began thinking about how I never rearrange my home and who was I to be asking someone else to do that?
I tumbled down the rabbit hole of change. I thought of all of the jobs, relationships, and homes I stayed in too long. I pondered that one pair of pants from high school I will not let go of because just maybe I will fit them again. I don’t do change well either.
With all of this self analyzation also came the realization that everyone has a different journey and EVERYONE has things they hold on to. It might be a person or a home, or maybe they won’t switch from a CD player to Spotify, but we all have our comfort zones. Not all are tangible or can be held in your hands, but we all have them. I realized I tried to push a client through that process.
Being in a home and going through someone’s belongings is a sacred process. Each and every client deserves their process to be handled with understanding and no pride of being in charge or correct, because let’s face it, CHANGE IS HARD. My job, running a home organization service, is to help people reclaim and love their space. What a humbling realization, to put your money where your mouth is. What a joy to be in a business where growth happens each and every session.
No two homes are the same and each and every client will process change differently.
If you have organizing/downsizing needs in the Eugene, Oregon area, please CONTACT me.
After working with two different clients in one week who moved into their new homes without downsizing, I think we need to talk.
My first client had been in her home for ten years. A single parent who moved by herself. She moved from a very large, old house with built-ins and to a modern house in the country. The new home is much smaller and has a very different feel. She darn near killed herself moving, and then filled her rubbish bin full of vintage furniture because there was no space and nothing looked right in the new home. She worked from dawn until dusk for 2 weeks and even broke her toe in the moving van! At the end of this, she called me. As we sift through box after box (that are packed in a very haphazard way) I cannot stress how much time and effort could have been saved. This is, unfortunately, not an uncommon scenario.
My second downsizing client also moved into a smaller home. The mom worked with movers, but honestly, she just packed everything and moved it. I walked into a playroom that had had boxes piled in every corner for a year. There was absolutely no room to move around and play. The housekeeper would not even open that door. The playroom was actually a storage room for unused toys and brought no one joy. It was the same in every single closet. As we organized this area, it was amazing how many toys were outgrown, unused, and honestly overwhelming because of the amount there was.
Organization without downsizing is just playing tetris with your time and your sacred space. These situations make the new area unusable instead of joyful and ruin the chances of a fresh start. Much of this could have been avoided by downsizing before packing.
Downsize before moving. Do I need to say it again? DOWNSIZE BEFORE MOVING! I honestly do not know how to stress this more. Even if you are moving into a bigger residence, each house has it’s own character and your new home will probably need different décor. Also, hanging up pants that are 3 sizes too big for you in your fresh start makes no sense. Keeping infant toys when your youngest is 7 is a waste of space. Cleanse your closets, your garage, your kitchen cabinets. Let go of what you don’t use and allow someone else to enjoy it. Getting the opportunity for a fresh start is pretty rare. Seize that opportunity and cherish the fresh, open space and PURGE!
Below are some helpful hints here that will help streamline your moving process and can actually be exciting, when done in an orderly fashion. If you tackle a move in a streamlined and organized way, it can actually be a beautiful life change, rather than a hair tearing nightmare.
- Downsize and pack your least used items first and move steadily towards things you use all the time.
- Clear a wall next to the door and stack the boxes neatly. These will be the first boxes to be loaded into the truck from this room and arrive into the new first, placing them at the back of the room.
- Label well
- Color code, if possible.
- Use a well thought out system. Your friends and movers will appreciate this more than the beer and pizza.
DAILY USE ITEMS
- One week prior to your move, begin packing your daily essentials. Have the really important stuff that you absolutely cannot live or function without come over in the last load, in your car. It will be the last thing to arrive in your new home, and the first thing you unpack.
LOADING THE TRUCK
- Load the room that is in the back of the new home FIRST. The whole room.
- Work your way forward, room by room. Moving is so much easier and less dangerous if you are not tripping over things in the hallways, trying to get to the two back bedrooms. You will thank me later. I promise.
- Unpack from always used, to seldom used, one room at a time. Did you open a box of seldom used items and realize you actually don not want of need anything in it? Good. Donate it.
- Pick up the next thing. Just keep picking up the next thing. You can do it!!
Moving sucks. There is no getting around it. But if you move in a systematic manner, downsizing as you go, you can start off in your new home feeling organized and in control of your new surroundings, rather than stressed out. It sets the tone for your new life. Make it a melody of peace and contentment.
If you have downsizing/organizing needs in Eugene, Oregon area, please CONTACT me.
When I began speaking to my first client about reclaiming her space, she cried.
Having endured 8 months of lockdown in an apartment that was controlling her freedom and stifling her creativity had taken an emotional toll. She had no space.
She lived in a lovely apartment by herself. However, an emotional trauma from a particularly horrible break up had caused her to cocoon herself in belongings. Her clothing was on her table- there was no space to enjoy a meal. The walls were lined with stacks of paper and mostly unused items and there was very little walking space. She needed SPACE. Space to move freely and to just be.
I like to think about the word SPACE. The final frontier. Outer space. Personal space. Breathing space. Emotional space. Holding space. All of these forms of space hold wonder to me. Space is something I think about a lot.
I find that a person’s living space reflects their emotional state. An unkempt bedroom is a sign of sadness. People collect items to fill emotional voids. All of this takes space. In a world where marketing is telling us that a blender, clothing, or beauty products will help us fill the void, it’s no wonder so many are displeased with their living space. As we look for happiness in external items it creates a space that is unwell on an emotional level. This requires some deep thinking and releasing of a broken thought process to mend.
Things do not make you feel better. the promise of how the thing will heal you is the end goal, correct? The guitar will make music, and music is something you enjoy. The treadmill will make you fit, and being fit will bring you love. The 12 bottles of face washing system will make you look younger, and appearing younger will solve everything. Every item has an ideology of improvement attached to it. Most of these things are used for a short period of time, discarded, but yet they are still hanging around. When I say to a client “BUT DO YOU USE IT?” the shame is palpable. So is the relief of letting go.
I had a client that had more than 800 pounds of free weights in his home. When I did an initial consultation with him, I found that he did not lift weights. He WANTED to lift weights. When his daughter, who lives across the country came to take care of him when he took a fall, she was stunned by the state of her childhood home and scheduled a consult with me. When I asked him why he had so many weights, he told me that he was looking for the perfect set. When I worked with this man, I came to realize that he had an excess of just about everything. We counted 35 purple button down shirts in his closet! This clients things were occupying so much space that living in his home had become impossible. The counters were buried, the oven was full, only one of three bathrooms were usable. He confided in me that he wanted his daughter to have to sort through his things when he was gone. He wanted to leave something behind. She, in turn, was terrified by the amount sorrow she already felt, being in her fathers space.
With these two examples I have shared, I see two lovely people struggling with how their homes- which should be their sanctuary and a safe space- became a burden. One was trying to fill a hurt space inside of themselves, and the other was trying to leave a space that spoke of who he was.
We all have different reasons for filling our space with excess, and those things must be addressed or downsizing is a cycle, not a solution. As a professional organizer and downsizer, I find that so many people want to fix the problem with bins, baskets, and labels, but do not want to do the emotional work it takes to prevent this cluttering and collecting to occur again. Many organizers are very happy to take your money and move on. But that is a band-aid. I do not think organizers have ill intentions, I just think many do not understand the importance of what they are doing, and how much better it would serve the client to ask WHY and HOW the space got into it’s current state and how can it be prevented in the future. Understanding that your space is out of control because of an emotional need takes strength. It’s hard work, and it takes self reflection.
So- sit back, take a look around, and think about your surroundings. What does your space say to you?
If you are interested in downsizing and organizing services in Eugene, Oregon contact .
Downsizing A Parent
My mother was diagnosed with ALS.
This in and of itself was beyond my comprehension. She has always been “let’s walk, we need the exercise and the air” kind of girl, and to think of her becoming bed bound and immobile was shattering. The silver lining is that my mom has been so active and the model of health, so ALS has moved very slowly through her body. Her respiratory system has remained in amazing condition. But over the course of 4 years it has slowly, day-by-day robbed her of little bits of activity. Through all of this, she is positive and loving, and the best mom anyone could ask for.
I asked myself what could I do? Helpless is not a feeling I deal well with. Then I asked HER. She wanted to downsize her home while she could still talk and sit up. Her motivation was to not leave her partner- who was being an exceptional, full time caregiver- a huge mess to clean up when it was time to punch her clock (her words, not mine). This I could do. This was in my wheelhouse.
I had no idea what an emotional blessing I had signed up for.
I rolled up my sleeves and drank a lot of water. It took many sessions and deep, lovely conversations emerged. I took bags and bags to donation. The huge garage sale was exhausting. The slow but steady results looked amazing. The constant contact between family members that resulted from this was priceless.
One of the huge positives of downsizing a parent while they are still alive is being able to know what has been promised to whom. There were things that I would have donated that had special meaning to people and stories I had never heard. Sitting with my mom and listening to her life story, narrated by her was a gift. Telling me why my daughter was getting a particular piece of jewelry helped her let go of it and ‘gift it’ while she could see how much joy it gave. The pleasure this gave mom was immense and unexpected. Our family felt closer. We all felt like we were experiencing my mother’s life a bit more, rather than sitting and waiting for her to be taken.
The physical unloading of belongings resulted in a mental unloading of stress for her partner. You can only imaging how stressful the thought of sifting through a loved ones belongings after they are gone can wear on you. Especially if you are busy care giving and trying to get through each day healthy, bathed and fed. The physical space helped both of them breathe easier and move through the house more freely. When you are adding wheelchairs, stair climbers, ramps, and bathing seats to your home- every inch matters. Literally. EVERY. INCH. He worried less about mom falling. He also felt loved and considered during this adventure. How amazing to have someone love you so much that they think about your grief process and want it to be as easy as possible for you.
I do not want anyone tho think that this was easy. I cried. I screamed into pillows. I came home so distraught twice that I fetal-positioned for several hours before I could eat or breathe. My love and respect for my mother grew immensely and I would sometimes feel like it would be harder to lose her now. God got cursed at a few times. But at the end of this, I felt loved. Tired and loved.
Just so you know, my mother was a hoarder of fabric, buttons, sewing machines, and anything sewing related. I gifted and sold more than 200 yards of fabric. She was also a square dancer and we found homes for a giant rack of dresses (all made by her), foofy slips, and silk under garments. We all have our vices.
If you have downsizing/organizing needs in the Eugene, Oregon area, please CONTACT me.
When my kids took off to start their own lives, things took on a very strange momentum. My marriage was in it’s 25th and final year (unbeknownst to us) and we were planning a grand adventure to Central America for a month. We had been saving for a couple of years and we thought there was really not a better time to go.
But the house.
The house was too big and too full and just TOO much. Paying to maintain it for a month while absent seemed silly. We wanted to move. We wanted something smaller and manageable, with completely different creature comforts. The school district we were in no longer mattered so the sky was the limit. My husband and I had never purchased a home so there really was no reason not to cut ties with this giant house other than the massive amount of personal belongings. Thus began the journey from a full 4 bedroom home to a 10×10 storage unit and absolutely no home to come home to! Yes, we voluntarily became homeless and got rid of 80% of our- dare I say it… JUNK.
I decided to go through one room at a time starting with the kitchen, because it was completely apparent that I no longer needed nor wanted to cook for 7 people. I have no idea why I had 7 cake pans, 4 pie plates, and 6 sheet cake pans. I had never considered opening a bakery, nor did I go to the trouble of baking for bake sales (I mean, Fred Meyer cookies are so good. Why bother?) much to my children’s chagrin. I did use the cookie sheets every year for my Christmas cookie baking week but other than that, it was perplexing. I had two crock pots (two!!) with a healthy layer of dust on them, air poppers, salad shooters, 2 blenders, margarita/rocks/wine/martini/shot/champagne/pounder glasses aplenty, a waffle maker, corn skewers, taco holders, gravy boats, butter dishes, kool-aid pitchers, mismatched plastic containers (SO many), 3 full sets of silverware and enough plates to host a block party. Why? I sat on my kitchen floor filling bag after bag of unused appliances and kitchen crap and wondered how did it get this far?
As I went through each room it did not get any better. I donated bags and bags of clothing. My family are avid thrifters, so I consoled myself with the knowledge that I never paid full price for anything other than intimates and shoes, but I watched thousands of dollars worth of purchases go out of the house in black plastic bags. There were listings made and furniture sold. All five of the children were contacted and offered things, but we were rarely taken up on it, because no one actually wants your junk. I gave each of my children 2 weeks to come get their things left at the house and they really could not understand ‘why I could not just be like a normal parent and keep their crap forever’?
But I soldiered on.
It actually took two sweeps in each room to get down to a manageable amount of belongings. I feel it would have been easier if I would have had one hour to get 5 bins of what I could not live without in my new home. It is easier to decide what you can’t live without than it is to decide what to throw away. It’s a mindset. A paradigm shift, of sorts.
I began to notice with each carload I dumped off at the St. Vincent DePaul I began to breath easier (they pay power bills for people down on their luck and make toiletry bags for homeless people). I felt free and untethered. I began to get a rhythm in my thinking, “Do I love it? Do I use it? Do I need it?” I began to feel euphoric with each goodbye. I was letting go! I was saying no to my worldly goods! I felt so bohemian, so hippy, so one with the earth. My love of ‘Less is Better’ was born.
I managed to whittle a four bedroom house down to a small storage unit. I kept my washer and dryer, mattresses, TV, 2 lawn chairs, the computer and desk, a dresser, and approximately 10 bins of clothing and household goods. My husband and I put in our 30 days notice and wondered if we were actually planning on coming back from Central America. Like I said, the sky was the limit.
If you have downsizing/organizing needs in the Eugene, Oregon area, please CONTACT me.