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.

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

One Thing Learned: Use my Filter!

This past week I experienced my own whirlwind.  I left the house at 10:00 a.m. on Friday to meet my friend from kindergarten at the Cincinatti IKEA. After spending three hours exploring we rested for an hour and then enjoyed dinner at a cozy lodge. Saturday morning she ventured home and I entered an eight-hour long conference. As if three hours weren’t enough, I went back to IKEA after the conference to “pick up a couple needed things.” At dusk I drove to my in-laws 2 1/2 hours back up north,   enjoyed dinner together and then promptly hit the hay. After a breakfast with them I drove across town to the mecca of Easton Shopping Center in Columbus to meet two fellow organizers. We spent three hours grazing each aisle of our beloved Container Store- making videos, sharing stories, talking products, and really enjoying each other’s company. After a 30 minute “rest” we met up with five additional organizers for a wine tasting and dinner.  Trudging through the snow we settled in around 10 pm.

We rose on Monday at 7 ish and enjoyed a meal together before meeting up with 33 people to volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House all day. On our feet moving supplies, trouble-shooting, and getting the job done made for a full day’s work. I got a jump on the traffic and journeyed two hours home, but took a detour to the grocery to pick up breakfast goodies for the meeting I was sponsoring the next morning. After the meeting on Tuesday I met with an older adult for three hours to organize and continued the momentum and drove to Cleveland so I could record three interviews with Jim Brickman about organizing for his radio show. I collapsed in bed on Tuesday night at 8PM.

What on earth? Just because I can do everything in a day, doesn’t mean that I should. My enthusiasm about doing everything can lead me to burn out. I love what I do, want to help, and want to connect. On Thursday and Friday I had three cancellations.  Cancellations = no business and this is usually not helpful.  But this time, my clients unknowingly gave me a reprieve that I needed. It is Friday now.  I am rested, more relaxed, have re-grouped and am ready to go.

I need to follow my own advice and use a filter.  When I am faced with multiple demands and opportunities- my filtering questions are: “Do I have time for this? Is participating going to lead me to my goals?  Am I taking care of myself? Will I pay a price if I do or don’t do this?

Book Review: “Conscious Order: Clear Your Mind, Leave Clutter Behind” by Annie Rohrbach

“Conscious Order: Clear Your Mind, Leave Clutter Behind”   by Annie Rohrbach

Immediately upon meeting Annie at the May 2014 NAPO Conference I knew we would know one another a very long time.  Both of us believe in a Holistic Approach to helping our organizing clients.  


In her book, she gets us thinking about why we want to get organized and then how the power of our choices lays the foundation of creating a less cluttered life.  

One example of a new choice that she shares:  “I choose to let go of the things in my mind, my home, my office, and my life that no longer serve me.” 

Research shows that 90% of our self-talk is negative.  Try reframing the “I don’t have enough time,” to “There is plenty of time for me to do what is most important to me.

The list of specific types of clutter is insightful:

  • Gift Clutter
  • Fix-It Clutter
  • Don’t-Know-Where-to-Put-it Clutter
  • Too-Nice-to-Toss Clutter
  • It-Might-Be-Worth-Something-Someday Clutter
  • Might-Need-It-Someday Clutter
  • The-Kids-May-Need-It-Someday Clutter
  • Should Clutter
  • Inherited Clutter
  • Other People Clutter
  • Event Clutter
  • Unfinished Projects Clutter
  • I’ll-Deal-With-it-Later Clutter
  • Kids Clutter
  • Stuff-It Clutter
  • Heap Clutter
  • Paper Clutter

Here are a few of the great questions we can ask ourselves when “we hit a wall:”

  • If I were moving, would I take it with me?
  • Would someone else make better use of this, or use it more often than me?
  • What’s the worst thing that will happen if I let go of it?
  • Is it in alignment with the life and intentions I am now choosing?
  • Will this just add to my clutter?

Other areas explored in this book are:  fear, awareness, and life transitions.  She offers ways to work through them all. 

Remember, what you focus on gets energized; what you are grateful for increases. 

Book Review: “The Boomer Burden”

“The Boomer Burden” by Julie Hall (The Estate Lady®)


A fellow Organizer Colleague and friend, Deb Heimann made me aware of this book earlier this year and I can hardly stop talking about it. Why? Because as a Professional Organizer I help people sort through their stuff and de-clutter. AND my parents are nearing 80 and guess who will be sorting through their stuff?

“When we lose a parent it is devastating to most and then to face the reality that no one had prepared for this eventuality makes it even more difficult.” The author calls this “the boomer burden.” “If a family has not adequately prepared for the inevitable loss of their parents, the grief at the funeral will quickly turn into a nightmare. For those who are unprepared for this event, the legal technicalities and process of cleaning out the parents’ estate can drag on for months and sometimes years.”

The author got me thinking about how many of us avoid thinking about death. Because life is going at a warp speed, we don’t take the time to ponder the inevitable. And if we do take the time to ponder death, then we must also confront our own mortality. Preparing for your parents’ passing will also prepare you so that your kids never have to go through what you’re going through. Many people just don’t know how to get their affairs in order.

Get things in order!

  1. Create a will and a division of assets (it is a fairly simple process, make an appointment with an attorney and get it done).
  2. Assign an executor and a power of attorney
  3. Locate all important papers
  4. Know the monthly bill and expenses system
  5. Plan end-of-life decisions
  6. Make funeral plans


The 7 Reasons to Get Rid of Your Own Stuff

  1. You will experience less anxiety and worry about all the stuff you seldom use.
  2. You will spend less time looking for things.
  3. You will be helping people in need.
  4. You will have more time to do what you really want to do.
  5. You will find things you forgot you owned.
  6. You will revitalize your routine with a new adventure.
  7. You will protect your kids from ever having to do what you have done/will do/ or are doing with your parent’s home.


 6 Reasons it is Hard to Get Rid of Stuff:

  1. One spouse hoards, and to keep the peace, the other spouse just tolerates it.
  2. Clever advertising screams an irresistible message, you need to buy this to be happy!
  3. We can afford it.
  4. Even if we can’t afford it, its’ easy to buy stuff with just a swipe of a card.
  5. Peer pressure doesn’t stop at high school.
  6. Blurred lines between wants and needs.


 8 Indicators That I May Have Too Much Stuff:

  1. When I go to hang up a shirt in the closet, I have to push apart the other clothes to make space.
  2. I can’t see the floor in my closets.
  3. All of our kids have moved out.
  4. At least one bedroom has been turned into a storage area.
  5. We rent storage space or have a filled a small storage barn.
  6. There are more licensed vehicles that licensed drivers in our home.
  7. We have more than one credit card, and on one we are only paying the minimum balance each month.
  8. We can’t put our vehicles in the garage because we use it for storage.


Have no fear, the great thing about letting go of stuff and starting this process, is that you don’t have to do it all today.


“The best gift that you can give to your kids is to not leave them with an accumulation of your stuff.”


If I could, I would buy this book for every person that I meet. It is a must for anyone’s library. There is a great “Complete Parent Care Checklist” at the end of the book that is incredibly useful.


Crazy thing!  My friend alerted me that this book is available for only $1.99 through Amazon for Kindle for $1.99!  Love it when the “stars align!”