Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Oh Basement, Where Are You?

Somewhere hidden behind all these bags, boxes and bins is a basement. "Betty's" basement.

She moved into her beautiful home 5 years ago and the basement is where all the extra stuff landed. Many of it is Christmas decorations, long lost clothing and family heirlooms. Betty felt the time had come to sort out the treasures and purge, purge, purge.

First part of the project was to carve out a spot in the boxes to have some room to work. As Betty began to sort through the boxes, I bagged up the donations and sorted out the trash. As you work on a project like this, it is important to move the donations and trash out of the work area as you go. Not only does it create s-p-a-c-e, it also gives you a sense of accomplishment.

There was no shelving on any of the basement walls. Betty had some shelving left over she wanted installed to get some of the items off the floor. (Yeah, a power tool day!)

Before any of the shelving went up, we had to make a run to the local Salvation Army donation site. Two SUV's loaded with very useful items, just not needed by Betty. Once done, we headed back to start installing the shelving. Betty continued to sort and purge, while I started hammerdrilling holes into the walls for the shelves.

There was a group of boxes with family heirlooms that need to be sorted, but they are consolidated in one area. We broke down all the empty boxes and placed them into Betty's car to haul to recycle. Her garage was filled with bags of trashed items ready to be curbed. Along with another truck load of donated items, perhaps this time calling to have them picked up by another charitable agency.

And in the basement, Betty now has a storage area with tons of space. Plenty of room to walk around and begin to think about the plans of turning it into a rec room someday.

Betty did an amazing job getting her basement under control. This was a HUGE task and she conquered it. There is a bit of loose ends to tidy up, but the motivation is there to continue.

When you look at that dreaded area of your home, look at the potential and break the project into small bites so you don't get frustrated. Soon you will find the floor, and you can begin to plan for the future.

What room have you lost control of?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Donating A Woman's Weight In Clothing

145 lbs

That is how much "Ellen's" load of clothes weighed that I took to Cherry St Mission for donation. All of the clothes were in very good condition. 7 bags of Hefty Ultra Flex bags. All of this came out of her two bedroom closets, and her closets are still filled with clothes.

So how do you get a woman to give up so many clothes?
1. Have her sit in a comfortable chair. You want her to be as relaxed as possible.
2. Stand about 4-5 feet minimum away from her.
3. Begin at one end of the closet and pull out a handful of items (5-7 pieces).
4. Show the person each item. You are looking for a quick response.
5. Ask her if it is a 'Keeper' or 'Donate?'
6. Any delay, motion toward 'Donate' pile.
7. Place the Keepers back into the closet grouping similar items.
8. Bag up the donated clothing and get it out of the home ASAP!

Here's a secret: Keep the woman from touching her clothes as you are sorting. Chances are if she touches an item, she will keep that item because of the emotional connection. Hence, you stand 4-5 feet away from her while sorting.

Ellen's closet organizing project took only 2 hours.
... yes, TWO HOURS.

From the time I walked in her door, until I dragged out the last bag to my car.

When was the last time you purged your closet?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Phantom Neighborhood Ghosts

As I walked up to a recent client's home there was this piece of paper taped to her front door:

"We've been GHOSTED!!!"

She explained it is a tradition her neighborhood has been doing for years. You create a little goodie bag to leave on the doorstep. Here's the note that accompanies the Phantom Ghost gift:

Well, my boys and I had fun driving around our neighborhood looking for homes we could "Ghost." We decide to kick in this new tradition off with 3 homes: two families we knew and one complete stranger.

Jacob was armed with our Ghost bags. He dashed up to the homes, rang the doorbell and sprinted back to the car. We had so much fun!!

Now we sit back and wait to see if the neighborhood will participate in our new tradition.

What is a recent tradition you have started?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Let's Talk About Voting

2 weeks to until we (American citizens) take to the polls to vote.
I am proud to say I have voted in every November election since turning 18 years old, many of the primaries too.

My most memorable voting experience was in 2000. Matthew was with me at 2 years old and I was 7.5 months pregnant with Jacob, and I was HUGE! I stood in a long line for about 20 minutes, nearly ready to pass out (I know not very long, but did I mention I was HUGE). Then a man insisted I just step to the front of the line, finally walking me pass all the people waiting for well over an hour. He explained to the registar I should vote now. She allowed me, I thanked the gentleman and I voted.

Here's a fun little quiz:

You Should Be Allowed to Vote

You got 14/15 questions correct.

Generally speaking, you're very well informed.

If you vote this election, you'll know exactly who (and what) you'll be voting for.

You're likely to have strong opinions, and you have the facts to back them up.

Should You Be Allowed to Vote?

Not sure which question I got wrong. I'll have to figure it out.

Please take the time to vote. It is an act that many people do not have the opportunity to take in our world. Every vote counts.

There is plenty of time to get an absentee ballot. Mine came today in the mail. I will sit down with my boys so we can talk about the process and why I'm voting for who or what proposal. I believe it is important to show my boys this great privilege we have in our country.

Well, are you ready to vote?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ellen, You Are An Inspiration

"Ellen" is having so much fun getting her apartment organized.
"Oh, just toss it."
"Get rid of it. I don't even want to touch it."
"The more you bag up, the better I feel."

She loves her kitchen again, and her livingroom is under control.
We move onto her coat closet and bathroom.

Ellen wanted to leave her fabrics in the containers on the closet shelf. She thought she could sort through those on her own (OK, that's her homework assignment).

I began by pulling out the stuff on the floor. If it was scrap pieces fabric, we bagged it up immediately. If it was larger fabrics, Ellen sorted through them into donate and keep, though this 'keep' was for her daughter's friend not really for Ellen to keep.

Then I pulled out each coat and she made a quick call - Keep or Donate. Carpet was vacuumed and the keepers were placed back into the closet. The trash was placed outside the apartment in the hall (black bags), along with the donated items (white bags).

When you are working on purging an area, get the stuff out of there as you work. Getting your purged items out of the working area allows you to see the progress your are making.

We then moved onto Ellen's bathroom. She hung out in her living room while I brought her stacks of towels and linens.

As we dug into the items to find her shelves, we uncovered a number of blue baskets which we used to store smaller items.

The clothing Ellen had hanging on the back of her doors was moved into her bedroom for the next project. Unless she didn't want the item, then it ended up in a donate bag. We had time to sort out the sink area and medicine cabinet, too. All meds and lotion bottles over 1 year old were tossed, everything wiped clean and keepers put away.

When Ellen walked into her new bathroom, she giggled with delight.
"You are worth your weight in gold!"

Six bags of clothing and fabric along with one box of unopened paper plates and napkins were ready for donation.

Next project for Ellen is her bedroom. I wanted to start with this room, but Ellen felt she was not ready for it. Now, she cannot wait to get in there and get it whipped into shape. Ellen is an amazing woman, quite different than when I first met her.

How has a client inspired you?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Transforming A Woman By Recycling Fabric

"Ellen" blew me away as I walked into her apartment. Not only did she work to clean up and organize an area in her living room on her own, she just looked amazing. WOW!

"You make me want to live better," Ellen said to me.

I was beside myself. To impact a person's life in such a way is stunning.

Ellen went on to say that she has not felt this wonderful about herself in years. She knows there is a lot of work to be done in her home. Seeing the progress made in the short time we have worked, encourages her to keep going:
"I can visualize what my home will look like soon!"

Ellen loved to sew, making quilts was her favorite craft. She had a HUGE collection of fabric. The majority were scraps. Her daughter's friend is taking the nicer items, the rest we are donating. The boxes in the before pictures are filled with fabric.

Most of the donations will be taken to Goodwill. I met with the local Toledo director and learned that they love scrap clothing. It might not be be placed in their stores, but your the old white shirt with red wine stained all over it will be sold to a bulk fabric shredder who will recycle it.

How cool it that?
These five bags of fabric will be shredded and made into who knows what. Scrap fabric recycled into something useful rather than buried in a landfill, and Goodwill earns a bit of money toward education and training people looking for work.

Ellen is happy her fabric collection is not going to be just tossed without any value:

"I touched every piece of this fabric, each piece means something to me. It's good to know that all of this is not going to be wasted."

What recycling tip have you found recently?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Feeling Better Is Only One Large Black Plastic Bag Away

Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge.
Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge.
Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge.
Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge.
Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge.
Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge.
Purge. Purge.
Purge. Purge.
Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge.
Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge.
Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge.
Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge.
Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge.
Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge. Purge.

Remember, it's just stuff.

If you could make a change, what would you do?

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Wizard With A Senatorial Citation

The mystery of the stiff envelope has been solved!

It was a Senatorial Citation from Teresa Fedor, Ohio State Senator.
Pretty sweet.

Then I come home and one of the local papers, The Bedford Now, wrote a little article about the 20 Under 40 Award and called me a "Wizard."

Thank you Ms. Fedor and Bedford Now.

A fabulous way to end the busy week. Now, if I can just get some SCUBA diving in this weekend, along with diner and a movie with some friends. That would be perfect!

What are your weekend plans?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Would You Pick Up a Stiff Package?

OK, I just received the funniest damn email EVER!!!!
(well, at least hysterically funny to me)


In today's mail came an envelope for you from State Senator Teresa Fedor's
office - it is 9 x 12 envelope and stiff. Please let me know what you would like me to do with it.

[name withheld to protect the innocent]

I have NO idea why I would be getting a package from an Ohio Senator, I live in Michigan. I can't think I have done anything wrong in quite sometime, so it must be something good. Right?

My Friday is pretty busy, but I must find out what is in this "stiff" envelope.

What do you think could be inside?
... c'mon, be creative

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Slow And Steady Wins The Organizing Battle

As I knocked on the door of "Ellen's" apartment, I could hear she was vacuuming her apartment.

"You're not suppose to be working before I show up," I said to Ellen.
"Well, I just wanted some part of my home to be presentable."

Ellen has lived in her apartment for a few years and things have gotten out of control. She recognizes it and wants to get her place back in shape so she feels good about it again.

We decided to tackle her kitchen. Ellen is older and we are working in 2 hour blocks of time so she doesn't get completely wiped out. This does take a bit more time to complete the project, though when working with older adults you must consider their abilities.

In Ellen's kitchen, she had a lot going on. Items covering the countertops and cabinets stuffed with pantry foods, plates and cookware. We began with the countertop to the left of the stove and worked our way around to the right. Using big black bags to toss all the stuff that Ellen no longer needed. When we got to the frig, we began to work our way back through the upper cabinets.

Many things were tossed (5-6 bags) because they did not work, they were old or just plain "crusty" as Ellen stated. With the countertops cleared off, there was working space to pull everything out of the upper cabinets, wipe down the shelves and return the items Ellen uses to the cabinets. Everything else was removed from her apartment.

Ellen's pantry items were also thinned out and reorganized. Creating areas in her cabinets for fruits, veggies, soups, pasta, spices and baking. Now she can go into her cupboards and knows what she has and where it is. Everything is grouped together.

Her neighbor stopped by as I was hauling trash bags out for the dumpster. Ellen's neighbor was stunned at what we accomplished in only 2 hours. I was pleasantly surprised we got as much done, too. Most importantly Ellen is psyched and ready for her next 2 hour appointment. She feels energized and relieved that control of her home is returning to her.

The 2 hour time blocks work perfect for Ellen. The momentum was there to keep going, but she knows herself best. Her project may take a bit longer to be fully completed with these shorter appointments, though that's OK.

The goal here is to get Ellen's home organized.
We don't have to sprint to the finish to get it right.

What do you take a bit more time to do?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Rainy Days and Mondays Can Be A Challenge

"The difference between a warrior and an ordinary man is that the warrior sees everything as a challenge, while an ordinary man sees everything as either a blessing or a curse." ~Don Juan

Today is a rainy, Fall day.
Not the most energizing type of day.
I'm feeling I need a bit of pizazz to get this day started. Think about what the warrior quote and begin to view these rainy days as a challenge. An opportunity to get some stuff done that you have been putting off.

Here are some Rainy Day Challenges:

1. Purge your coat closet. Take out EVERYTHING, and pile it on floor. Separating into Keep, Donate and "Oh, this is gross" (also known as Trash). Winter is approaching and there are soooooo many people that could use your old coats, hats, scarfs and boots.

2. Thin down your linen closet. Take out EVERYTHING. You can match up your sheet sets, sort out the gross towels from the nice ones and you will likely find some lost items along the way. Shelters (animal and human) all need your extra towels, blankets and sheets. Put away all your keepers.

3. Sort out your bedroom closet. I admit, I must do this. Take out EVERYTHING. (Have you caught onto the pattern here?) Make piles of items to Keep and Donate. Once you put your keepers away, you'll know what new items you need to purchase. Treat yourself to something fun, you just knocked off a challenge.

4. Old toys. Holiday's are approaching and the barrage of new toys is eminent. Clean out your kids' toys now, get them involved too. Encourage them to donate their toys. Better yet, take them with you when you donate so they can see where their stuff is going.

5. Schedule friendly appointments. When was the last time you chatted with one of your best friends? Massages and facials are great ways to treat yourself. A coffee or lunch with a friend you have not had face time with will likely be far more beneficial. You will laugh and share some recent dramas which will release all sorts of stress. If you are separated by distance, schedule a time to share coffee or lunch and chat on the phone or a webcam if you each have one.

Curling back into bed sounds and feels great when you're dragging. Though if you can challenge yourself to accomplish one thing, your day will become successful.

What challenge do you tackle on rainy days?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Invest In You

Getting organized is investing in yourself.

in·vest: to use, give, or devote (time, talent, etc.), as for a purpose or to achieve something

How are you taking care of YOU?