Let Go & Let Life Reorganize You!

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My husband and will be visited Saturday by a social worker who will evaluate both us and our space to determine our suitability to adopt a child. Wow. Big life transition.

The decision to adopt has given us a chance to take a major inventory, both inside (our motivations, values,  strengths and weaknesses) and outside (do we have room for another growing person in our apartment? What  can be cleared away that we no longer need to make room for another person and a whole new identity as parents?) This inventory told us some changes in our space were in order.

To overhaul our apartment, I gave myself an action plan, a deadline, and I took myself on as a client – and having just been on the receiving end of this decluttering transformation, I reaffirm from knowing, what I tell my clients all the time — having some company for the task is SO rewarding!

When a friend put an offer out to come help me, all kinds of uncertainty popped up – what she would think of my “mess”? would she boss me around in my own home? Would she disrespect items I cherished and judge me for wanting to hold on to them?  All the fears my clients have told me they’ve before having me over, were apparent for me.

I struggled with my ego, which told me I was a professional organizer, I shouldn’t need help. And I decided I didn’t NEED help, I WANTED it. I decided it would be an adventure to bring someone into a process that’s always been solitary, and frankly overwhelming and tedious. I decided I’d be vulnerable and let whatever I wanted to protect all hang out.

Bringing someone into my decluttering efforts brought clarity and a sounding board to my indecision. It brought friendship and joy and permission for letting go.  It brought humor to what I can take way to seriously. Our stuff is just STUFF, for goodness sake, but my, how we get attached.  Our things are not who we are, but we do let them hold aspects of ourselves – feelings, stories, beliefs, worries. Being able to share these feelings, beliefs, stories with someone before we toss an item into the trash or goodwill bag can reassure us that whatever the items represents is either still alive in us, or is ready to be gone. I found this so.
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Life is dynamic. It’s a lot easier to move through it when  when we’re not weighed down by stagnant stuff. The result of my overhaul? My apartment is buzzing with the energy of usefulness and vibrancy. There’s a clear path and I feel abundantly full and alive. I feel like I’ve been to the spa, been exfoliated, lost 10 pounds, had my neighborhood streets repaved and won the lottery all at once. What a great way to prepare to greet a baby into it’s new space.

What new adventures are you pregnant with? What preparation do you need to birth what’s next for you? How can you share the joy and lighten the job by bringing in some help?

Don’t Let Your Values Live at the Bottom of Your Piles

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Wisdom has it, a major key to mastering our lives is to live by our values. 

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Disorganization can place a heavy price-tag on our personal integrity. Dreams go unfulfilled when our stuff takes more energy than our visions. Values go by the wayside when unmanagabiity with time and stuff creates distraction, procrastination and avoidance.
 
In my favorite organizing book, It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys, Marilyn Paul, Ph.D.,
shares her journey of coming out of denial around her personal disorganization that rendered her best intentions to shape and shift the world moot, becuase she couldn’t get out the front door with the car keys or the documents she needed. When Marilyn took on her disorganization like the worthy project it was, everything shifted. It took time, curiosity, patience, trial and error, discovery and commitment, but through it she gained dignity, integrity, and power. 
 
Organizing One Value At a Time
Our values lie at the shiny center of who we are. They can become distorted, obscured or ignored, but they remain integral. They can be the spark of inspiration for change. They can also give us the motivation we need when our spirits flag from our efforts to change the habitual patterns with stuff and time that may have gotten us stuck.

 Here’s a small practical, personal example:
I learned a few facts a while ago that put me in action. I learned that 28 billion single-serving bottles of water are purchased each year in the United States. It takes 17 million barrels of oil (enough to fuel a million cars for a year) to produce these bottles. Only 20% get recycled and some wind up as ocean debris – those big plastic islands you may have seen pictures of. As a lover of this Earth, and a supporter of peace, this tugs at my core.

So…..I made a commitment last year to stop purchasing plastic bottles.

Sound like an easy commitment, right?

Well, between forgetting my pretty metal eco-water bottle at home, rushing out without time to refill it, and leaving a series of them on subways and under movie theater seats, I resorted to more plastic purchases than I would have liked.

Finally, with continued determination and refinement, I’ve got a backpack that’s replaced my handbag. It’s got a side holder that perfectly houses my Camel bottle — so the bottle never has a chance to escape under a seat, or park bench. I’ve got two bottles I fill daily, so they’re in rotation – there’s always a backup in the fridge to grab when I’m in a rush, and I always make sure there’s one in my backpack, even at home – so there’s no chance I leave without it. It takes me a few minutes of conscious effort a day to make sure the bottles are filled and nestled into my pack and fridge.  

 
It took almost a year to get this system down. Am I deluding myself that MY re-fillable water bottle is saving the planet? Nope. Do I feel better, keeping my personal commitment to not purchasing more plastic bottles? Absolutely! And by allowing my values to lead my efforts to get organized – I practiced problem-solving skills to find a system that works for me. I can apply these problem-solving skills to other areas of my life that need organizing. And the system I’ve developed has a ripple effect. While I’m filling my water bottles, I’ll often take another 3 minutes to wash up whatever dishes are in the sink, or discard the expired leftovers in the fridge, keeping my space clear, and further enhancing the shiny feeling I’ve cultivated.

The pay-off of esteem I get for living my eco-value gives me mojo I can apply to other areas of my life. I can change my world – and the bigger world – one value at a time. 

I’m a firm believer we can all find the organization we need to live empowered in the world, getting the results we desire for ourselves. If you can trust a process of curiosity, trial and error, and sustained commitment – you will find your own personal organization and you will create the systems you need to thrive.

Drool-worthy desk spaces

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Yes! It’s clear – I’m a sucker for visuals of organized, beautiful desk spaces. Nothing tickles me more than the sense of a cozy, comfortable throne of efficiency and productivity. A place that supports the down-and-dirty to-dos; evokes the wilder, raw creative juices; and cradles big soaring vision all at once. A room/womb with a view.

Check out these spaces I stumbled upon on Houzz, and see what you think. What excites you in the photos…what possibilities do they elicit for you?

For me, the desk spaces with expansive views promise me the day I get to spend six months in NYC and six months in a remote natural world (Boulder, Utah; Provincetown, MA; Hana, Maui come to mind) and not skip a beat in productivity.desk vie

Baby-stepping with your Stuff

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I had a recent session with a writer who was feeling down….the inkwell of imagination dried up….feeling unaccomplished.

She needed to go to her files, her drawers, her closets to pull out all her printed drafts of all the work she’d done and leave them out for a while to “see” her work.

Gratifying, validating for a time, seeing all the paper piled high, she then felt a need to “see” further – She called me in and we began discerning the drafts – we separated – 1st play: version 1-8, 1st screenplay versions 1-6, etc.

At this point, she began to feel ready to purge the old drafts….a feeling of completion took over the need to see her work. In order to move on, she now needed the clarity of an empty space…a new beginning.

This process of interacting with her drafts was part of her artistic process – She was not sure if she was “done” with her plays yet —

Without throwing them out, the exercise of taking inventory re-positioned her. With clarity, she was in a new space to make decisions.

She stood in a place of readiness to be open to the next “direction” form the muse/god/ psyche….

There’s a notion in feng shui – If you’re feeling stuck with your stuff, move 20 objects…..just shift them slightly – move one pile from the left corner of your desk to the right, shift the angle of objects on a mantle piece, move the soap dish to a shelf. Shake up the energy of your environment. Sometimes it’s enough to shift your internal landscape so you can “see” what’s next

Baby steps are effective. Remember when you were learning to walk? You’ve come a long way, baby. Keep stepping.

Overwhelmed by your day?

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I often advocate to clients they plan out their day. It asserts ourselves as the creator, rather than the slave to our circumstances.

Set a clear intention of purpose, then schedule the actions that support that purpose with a responsibility to estimating accurately how much time you’ll need for these actions.

 Life will happen. Circumstances will assert themselves — an unexpected phone call, a traffic jam, a mistake in an appointment time — brings a need to shift your plans. That sense of purpose for your day can help you remain steady, as you recalibrate and recommit to your intention.

And sometimes, even with or circumstances handled, we find internal obstacles to living our purpose in a day. We need to open to something bigger than ourselves to guide us to our purpose and allow our creativity to to find the tangible actions to support that purpose.

I love this quote from artist, Jen Gray. Practicing spiritual time management is sometimes just what’s needed to cut through the overwhelm of deadlines, obligations, conflicts, vagueness, lack of motivation, or procrastination.

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“…the only thing i had to be concerned with was
doing the next single thing that would align myself
with love and spirit.”
jen gray

If you find yourself on a rainy day, whether it’s external or internal weather, ask yourself, “What is the one single thing I could do now that would align myself with love and spirit?”

If you can go outside and be in nature, when you ask the question, see if it doesn’t deepen the response you get back.

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Trust the answer, even if you can’t see beyond the next action. Sometimes we baby-step our way with faith back into clarity.

Hey, New York…Come Clean & Win Big!

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 Submit a photo of your messy clothing closet for a chance to win a Closet Makeover from NY Professional Organizers in honor of NAPO-NY’s 25th Anniversary! One lucky winner will be chosen to receive a Closet Makeover.clost

One lucky winner will receive the following:

  • One-on-one organizing session with a group of New York Professional Organizers, valued at $5000.00
  • One year all inclusive subscription to Garde Robe, valued at $4200.00, which offers museum-quality storage for clothing, shoes and accessories, plus complimentary pick up and delivery. All stored items can be viewed and requested on the Garde Robe Cyber Closet. Garde Robe is the only service of its kind here in NYC and in the nation.
  • $250.00 gift certificate to The Container Store.

Prizes are non-transferable and may not be redeemed for cash; substitutions may not be requested. By participating in this contest and accepting these prizes, participants and winner will be deemed to agree to these rules and policies. Travel is not included unless specifically stated. Contest Providers reserve the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value.

All entries must be received by 5pm (Eastern Time) on Friday May 24, 2013. The finalists must be available for a telephone interview and possible in person viewing of their wardrobe closet between May 25 – June 1, 2013. The winner will be chosen by NAPO NY’s closet Makeover Team. The winner will be announced on Thursday June 6, 2013.

The winner must be available the weekend of June 22 and 23th for the actual makeover. The winner also agrees to be photographed and videotaped during the process.

ELIGIBILITY
The Contest is open to legal residents of of New York City who are twenty-one(21) years or older at the time of entry. All photos and applications must be submitted by the owner of the closet. No second party entries accepted. Void where prohibited by law.

 

DEADLINES
The contest starts on Wednesday, May 1, 2013. Entries must be received no later than 5:00PM (EDT) on Friday May 24, 2013. Under no circumstances will submissions be accepted after the deadline. Applications submitted close to the posted deadline do so with this deadline in mind.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.

Read the rules and policies , take a picture of your closet, and submit your application!