Streamlining Moving

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 d├ęcor. 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.

PACKING

  • 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.

LABELLING

  • 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.

UNPACKING

  • 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.

SPACE.

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 .

My Journey

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.