To Keep a Lady Head Vase?

For January “Get Organized Month,” I had a contest where I asked readers to share how three hours of organizing would be of value to them.

The contest winner wrote in part- “One area in particular that I have been kind-of purposely avoiding are the boxes of items I had shipped from my parents house in South Carolina after they both passed away. {4 years ago} I’d love assistance and guidance in determining what to keep and what to say ‘bye for now’ to.”


We arranged a morning to meet and to begin working through the boxes. There were about 10 or so boxes packed with photos, miniatures, books, trinkets, jewelry, glassware, and some hand written notes. One of the treasures we came across was a precious 8×11 black and white photograph of her dad dressed as Santa. The photo sweetly captured Santa looking endearingly into the boy’s eyes, who was clearly telling him what he wanted for Christmas.


As we sorted through the boxes, Sherri began to verbalize that she was not fond of Precious Moments, “lady head vases,” or glass bells. It was the actual cabinet that spoke to her of her mothers (not the stuff that her mother displayed.) It is important to note that Sherri did “try” to display all of what her mother displayed and Sherri realized that it was not her collection – it was her mothers. And she is not her mother and she did not like most of the contents. However, she appreciated the glass case. As the process unfolded, she decided that she would choose a couple items to send to two of her mother’s closest friends. She kept a couple items that she liked, including a small pitcher of her mom’s. Much of her father’s memorabilia symbolized milestones, work achievements, pins, and a plaid bowtie from his long-time successful barbershop quartet; all of which made Sherri smile. Prior to our appointment, Sherri had set aside some of her own childhood treasured memories (a red bear, doll, and some paper-dolls). She decided that it was time to create a display that “made her smile’ that honored both of her parent’s memories, alongside some of her childhood memories.


As we wrapped up the session, we put together a list of tasks so that Sherri could keep up her momentum. Stop by the antique dealer, mail some items to family members, deliver other items to friends/family members, get a frame (that suited Sherri) for the “Dad as Santa” picture and hang it in the kitchen where it could be appreciated on a daily basis.


How is it that many memories stay packed in a box and stored in the basement? How can we best honor good memories? How do we treasure loved ones who have passed without keeping all the material items?

What a gift to be invited into Sherri’s home to guide and support her through this process; one that had been overwhelming her for four years. Her spirits were lifted, her energy renewed, her homework doable, and her front room sorted.


Thoughts from Sherri:  “The three hours I spent with Lynne at Wholly Organized were packed, or shall I say “unpacked” 🙂 with memories, smiles, some laughter and getting more things accomplished than I had even thought possible.  Lynne listened to my thoughts about items, but somehow managed to keep me on task without being pushy or overbearing in any way.    I never felt forced to part with any of the items, but at the same time I was very motivated to make the rational choices that I knew it was time to make.  I was tired of seeing the boxes piled in the front room of my home.  They were a daily reminder of the “job” knew I needed to handle.  My prior, failed attempts just left me with the same boxes, and most of the same stuff.     

I was thrilled to read about the contest, and entered thinking “what do I have to lose”?  I was beyond excited to have the opportunity to utilize Lynne’s wonderful services.  I continue to be inspired by the progress that was made that morning, and I’m able to put to good use some of the tips that Lynne shared with me in other areas of my home.  And,  I now smile inside when I see the glass cabinet, and of course my all-time favorite picture of Santa.”  -SK 


Power Pose into Organizing!

Amy Cuddy is a Psychologist at Harvard Business School who studies body language. She is well known for her TED Talk in 2012 where she talked about “Power Poses.” She wants everyone to know that “you have this, you have personal power and you can bring your best self forward. This tiny difference can make a huge difference. Striking a power pose changes how people perceive you AND your body chemistry.”

I was practicing my Sunday Morning ritual, cozied up in my spot watching CBS Sunday Morning and one of the stories was about Amy Cuddy and her new book “Presence.”  It occurred to me that I can teach power poses to my organizing clients!! AND the photo on the Health One Magazine is a POWER POSE!  I am so excited, I can hardly stand it! I tweeted @amycuddy and SHE LIKED IT!


As the year is winding to a close, I am making  New Year’s Resolutions and setting business goals.  Today I am adding one more to the list -“incorporate power poses during sessions with clients.”  Thank you Amy Cuddy, you are changing the world.

Check out these links:


More Spirit, Less Stuff

Wholly Organized! clients often want to live with less. This is the story of Gene & Margaret. (names changed of course) Gene has developed memory issues and Margaret sees the writing on the wall….there may come a time when her husband will need to move into an assisted living facility.

Margaret called me to help her downsize and prepare for this possibility. One day, as I helped Margaret lift down very large bins, she opened the first one and she said, “I’m ready, it can all go.” What was in these bins, you ask? The bins contained dozens and dozens of Christmas decorations from years past: holly, teddy bears, mistletoe, candles, wreaths, snowmen, garland, and lights. You name it she had it. “I did it for years and I am ready to simplify,” said Margaret. “If I look at it all individually, I will want to keep it. I’ve decorated for years and I’m done,” she exclaimed.


She then lifted up a triangular box and said, “This is it! THIS is our Christmas tree now.” It was a $24.99 Charlie Brown tree. She laughed and smiled and I could see the stress melting away. We later went up to report our progress to Gene, carrying the Charlie Brown Tree, and together with laughter in their voices they said “yes, this is our tree now.” I said, “You are entering a new chapter and this tree represents three of your important values: Simplicity, Humor, and Love.


Margaret is so very pleased with the progress that she is making in the basement. Together we are getting her to her goal.

Another gift came this week. On a moment’s notice, Margaret’s dear cousin showed up to the house with her trailer. We loaded up all the bins and tethered them down and away they went to bless families at Salvation Army.


“It feels so good to finally tackle this stuff, after all it is only stuff,” Margaret shared.

How M&M’s helped my inbox go from 2,432 to ZERO


Is your e-mail box overwhelming?  Mine was. With five e-mail addresses, it’s a challenge to keep up. (I use mac mail, so all my e-mail is in one view).  I devised a plan.  Plan: Play music, follow the calendar, reward myself for the hard work, and use an app.

  1. Play Music:  turned on some peppy music on iTunes. *Kept me energized.
  2. Calendar:  cleaned out e-mail one month at a time. *Gave me a frame work and an ending to the pain.
  3. Reward:  for each month I cleaned out I ate an m&m *Something to look forward to.
  4. App: I enrolled all my e-mail addresses in to unsubcribe, “roll up,” or leave message in my inbox. *A long-term solution to keeping more stuff out of my inbox.

One week later and I am going strong. I admit, it feels weird to not have all that stuff in my inbox, like I am missing something.  Change is difficult, even when it is a “good” change.

What motivates you? Chocolate…in small doses? What plan will work for you? Or maybe you are one of those people that always clears their inbox. If yes, that is cool!

Napkin Scribbles @ Starbucks

No matter how many twists and turns, FOLLOW YOUR DREAM!


My dream was born in 2003 at a Starbucks in Pittsburgh.  I was visiting my cousin and her family.  Earlier that year I had seen the TLC show “Clean Sweep” and I thought “People actually do this?”  While sharing coffee with my cousin, nephew and niece,  I shared my dream of having an organizing business.  We had a joyful time designing possible logos for my dream business.

As is often the case, reality came back into the picture after I returned to Ohio.  I continued my job as a social worker at Towards Employment, a nonprofit organization focused on helping people with challenging life situations gain and maintain employment.   I started working part time at Crate and Barrel thinking that the interior design aspect of the work would fulfill my desire to help people organize their homes and their lives.

Another three years went by as I began to realize that the work at Crate and Barrel really didn’t fulfill my desire to work with people on a deeper, more personal level to help them overcome their challenges with respect to personal organization.  In 2006, I softly launched “Organized Spaces by Lynne”.  What I mean by “softly” is that I was still working a full time social worker job at Towards Employment as well as my part time job at Crate and Barrel.  I had also just started dating the man who would eventually become my husband.  Despite these challenges, I had a handful of awesome clients and I really loved helping people de-clutter their homes and organize their spaces.

I continued this “part time” effort to follow my dream for another five years.  That dating relationship that began in 2006 turned into a marriage in 2008.  When I married Jason, I was fully aware that he was a package deal that included two step children ages 11 and 13.  I put my dream on the back-burner to spend time with Jason and his children while I learned how being married would impact my dream.  We also managed to sell two houses as we combined our separate lives into one home.

In 2011, after a few years of getting accustomed to married life, the urge to help people organize their stuff as well as their lives was still alive and strong and my dream needed to be “born again”.  I wasn’t sure what to do next to make that happen.  There was the typical amount of nerves and uncertainty about how to move forward when my husband Jason asked “What would be the worse thing that could happen if you followed your dream of starting your own organizing business?”  I thought about that question for a few seconds and replied “If it doesn’t work out, I  would get a social work job closer to home and stop driving an hour or more (in the winter!) each way to work.”

That simple question “What’s the worse thing that could happen if you follow your dream?” released me from the worries and stresses that had been holding me back from following my dream.  I firmly believe if you think about the worse thing that could happen and plan for it, you can follow any dream!

After a year of planning and transitioning from full time work to part time work to then resigning from my social work job at Towards Employment, I launched Wholly Organized in 2012.  Every day when I wake up and think about “going to work,” I have never felt more happy or fulfilled!  I acknowledged my dream and I made it happen!

No matter how many twists and turns, FOLLOW YOUR DREAM!

Four Beliefs You May Want to Stop Now!

Do you have good intentions to read articles you’ve clipped and countless magazines? And then don’t do it?

What are your beliefs about reading articles and magazines ?  “I need to stay on top of the latest trends.” or “I don’t want to miss an important tip that could dramatically change my life!” or “I paid for these magazines, I don’t want to waste them.”  “Someone thought of me enough to mail me this article, I should read it.”  Examine these beliefs and decide whether these beliefs still suit you. Do you need new beliefs?

You can choose how you spend your time.  If reading articles and magazines is important to you then schedule time in your calendar right now to do it. If more pressing issues and commitments are at the forefront of your mind than reading, then try reframing your beliefs as suggested below.

Create new beliefs by reframing:

Shift this belief: “I need to stay on top of the latest trends.” to perhaps “I am on top of the trends enough.” “Being on top of the latest trends is no longer important to me.”

Shift this belief:”I don’t want to miss an important tip that could dramatically change my life!” to something like “Tips that I need will make their way to me when needed.” or “I can always google search new tips!”

Guilt sets in with this belief- “I paid for these magazines, I don’t want to waste them.” Give yourself a second chance and schedule reading time this month and if you don’t do it, cancel the subscription and donate the magazines to the local shelter.”

“Someone thought of me enough to mail me this article, I should read it.” Look at the article as a gift. It is yours now. You can do what you please, so honor the thought and recycle or toss what you decide to make time for. A new belief may be: “When people send me articles, it shows me they are thinking of me, what I do next is my choice.”

You determine how and what you’ll spend time doing.  Let go of high expectations of yourself, old beliefs that no longer serve you, and unnecessary stress.  You will strengthen your sense of self when you take a minute to reframe your thinking and shift to a path that makes more sense to the person you are now.

Professional Organizer hires a Professional Organizer

I love taking photos and looking at photos.  I went digital in 2005.  Before going digital,  I would return from a trip with a bag of film, take it to the local developer and immediately create photo albums and mail pictures family and friends.  The photo books and negatives were labeled and put in a box. IMG_9086

When I went digital, I did not figure out a “workplan” to take the photos from the computer/phone/camera to the printer to enjoy.  I was halted because I never took the time to create a plan.

Now in 2015, it’s ten years later.  Tens of thousands of pictures later; no kidding! They have been counted by the talented Natalie Gallagher of Refined Rooms LLC.

IMG_9088I crave being able to access and enjoy my photos on a regular basis.  I am an organizer, and I “should” be able to do this.  But the thing is that I haven’t done it and don’t really want to start it alone.  I met Natalie Gallagher through NAPO, and  photo organization is one of her niches. Yep, a Professional Organizer hired a Professional Organizer!

Natalie has an organized approach (of course) to tackle what to me is a HUGE project. The collaboration is valuable on a number of levels.  First, I have started the process of tackling my photos and I have someone helping me that knows about photo tools and processes that I am not aware of. Secondly, I have heightened my awareness of what MY organizing clients feel when they work with me.  It can be exhausting….going through countless photos, papers, and sometimes emotional stuff.

But with Natalie’s help, I say “bring it, photos! I can do this.”  I don’t feel overwhelmed, and I am excited already about the end result: being able to access all my photos and enjoying them more frequently! And that thought is incredibly motivating!

See a quick video here!  http://youtube/UpcHXy4dp80