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.

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.