Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Toolbox is Handy to Have Around!

In order to be organized, things need to be where you use them. Sometimes this means installing a hook or a shelf where there isn’t currently one. Plus, I always have little jobs around the house that I want done; hanging a picture, loosening a sticky door knob, tightening drawer pulls, etc. I used to avoid these tasks (or have to wait for help) because I never had the required tools handy and I did not feel like running to the downstairs workshop to hunt for what I needed from my husband’s tool bench. I found this frustrating.

I finally realized that what I needed was my own set of tools, (labeled as mine, of course) kept upstairs, so I could use them whenever I needed and always count on them being there. So, I purchased a small, inexpensive toolbox like this, to tote my tools. Make sure whatever one you buy closes and latches tightly and easily. I like the kind with the storage compartments built into the top, so that I can keep nails and screws.

Here's what's in my toolbox:
  • 4 in 1 screwdriver (with small & large, Phillips & regular heads)
  • Small hammer
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Metal measuring tape
  • Safety glasses
  • Small level (to use when hanging pictures)
  • Knife (retractable)
  • A basic cordless drill (with charger)—this one also comes in red, but the pink is so pretty)
  • A small assortment of drill bits (for hanging hooks which require anchors—in drywall)
  • WD40-pen size; for loosening stuck/tight metal things, and removing sticker adhesive
  • Plastic zip ties (short and long) great for tying things together that you want to stay put, such as replacing a broken luggage strap or tying up a plant to a stake.
  • An assortment of short and medium nails, screws and anchors (small and medium)
  • Plastic zipper baggies (snack and sandwich size)
  • Scissors
  • Black Sharpie marker
  • Pencil
  • Velcro One-Wrap® Straps; very useful for wrapping cords which are too long. These are easy to undo and redo, making them ideal for cords of appliances that are used often (these are 8". They come in 12", too.)
  • Command Hooks; Stick on, removable hooks for hanging all kinds of things. The previous link is for use with .5 lbs or under, but this link leads to the whole page with a range of options.
When you want to hang something on drywall, don't let it scare you. Plastic screw anchors are easy to install. I have even taught my 10 year old girls to do it! It is simplest to purchase the anchors like the ones linked above, which come in combination with the properly sized screws. Note the size of drill bit needed, it should be just a little smaller than the diameter of the anchor so it grabs when pushed in.

Mark the place where the hole is to be drilled with a pencil, tape a plastic baggie underneath and drill the hole. If you need to drill a second hole, make sure to use the level before you mark/drill the second hole to make sure the shelf or hook will be straight when you are through. Push the anchor in (use gentle hammering if needed), then screw the hook into the wall. That’s it! You’re done!

For help with any organizing project simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.
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~ Counter-intuitive, I know, but it's a Blogger quirk

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Simple Solutions Series: Six Steps to Getting Organized

One of my first goals after starting my business (in 2007) was to publish an article about organizing. As it is with any task, getting started for me was the hardest part. My self talk sounded a little like this: “I really should write that article—but noooo, not now, I only have five minutes.” “I really should write that article—but noooo, not today, I have too much to do.” “I really should write that article—but noooo, I don’t know where to begin.”

It was not that I did not have any ideas. In fact, I had too many ideas. That is exactly what made it difficult to begin; my mind was overstuffed with ideas! That is what made me realize I could write my first article about simply getting started. Organizing is basically about making choices. It is about choosing among too many or too much of something……..…….anything. When we have too much, our minds get dull, overwhelmed, stuck, and shut down. We avoid doing anything about it, which makes it worse the next time we think about it.

Many of us know, that if only we could get a handle on “X, Y or Z”, we would feel so much better, but for many of the reasons I stated above, we just cannot get started. Sometimes it may help to choose a friend or relative to sit with you while you organize, or turn on music you enjoy. Alone or together, choose a first organizing project you know you can begin and finish in one sitting, in a short amount of time, approximately three hours or less. Examples may be organizing a desk drawer, a small closet or pantry.

Got the project in mind? Okay, now schedule that three hour block on your calendar. Make sure you have support from your family or make it at a time when you know that you will not be interrupted. Now follow these simple steps:

  1. Begin by making four index cards and writing on them: “Keep Here”, “Keep Elsewhere”, “Donate/Give Away”, and “Chuck(Trash)”. Arrange these four cards in quadrants around you, far enough apart to have clear boundaries between them.
  2. Take each thing out of the space that you are going to organize (the drawer, shelf, closet, entryway, etc.) and place it into one of the four piles. This may be difficult and painful, depending on the types of items you are going through. If you really cannot decide which category it goes in, come back to it or put it in either the “Keep Here” or “Keep Elsewhere” pile.
  3. When you have finished sorting into piles, box up the “Donate/Give”, take the “Chuck” out to the trash or for recycling, put the “Keep Elsewhere” either away where it belongs or set it aside (in a container) to put away later.
  4. Next, look at the “Keep Here” pile. Begin to sort that into natural categories of items that go together.
  5. Decide if you need additional storage containers to house those natural categories. If so, make a list of “Supplies to Purchase”. You may also have discovered a few “Tasks” that need to be completed, such as hanging hooks or shelves. If so, make a list of “Tasks to Do”, as well.
  6. You can return the items to the area you are working on, as soon as you are satisfied with their category, container and useful placement. Try to think about storing things where you use them. For example, if you live in a condo or apartment, keep the keys to the basement near the front door. If you have “Tasks to Do” or “Supplies to Purchase”, make a date on your calendar to do them.
Congratulations! Just like me, now you have accomplished your task! You have organized your space and narrowed your choices. You have decided what to keep and what to part with. Just like me, you first had to make one overall decision; which project to focus on, then, many smaller decisions about what to include in your final space. It is difficult, but rewarding, and hopefully encouraging, as one good finished project will inspire more.

For help with any organizing project
simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.

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~ Counter-intuitive, I know, but it's a Blogger quirk

Monday, August 18, 2014

"Things Will Often Look Worse Before They Get Better"

In the midst of the project

This is a quote from my welcome letter, once someone engages me as an organizer. I say it, because it's true. As we begin to sort through things and move them around, it can look as though things have exploded, similar to the big bang, when the universe began. This has to happen in order for things to come back together again, in a new, more functional order. Change requires change and it cannot happen without disruption.

My goal when working with clients is to help them to work through the transition of change with the minimal amount of stress, using a systematic approach and pacing. Even so, there is always a time during the project where things look worse, and then suddenly, once over the hump, begin to get better. It's important not to give up before that happens, or worse, not even begin the project because the idea of it is so overwhelming.

I have experienced this up close and personal this summer, as we embarked on the project of re-doing my 15 year old daughter's room. This was something she initiated and really took charge of and I was very happy to support her as she transitioned her room from childhood into sophisticated young adult. It involved lots of emotional sorting and purging and I watched her struggle with letting go of the concrete representations of her younger self to make room for her new, mature interests.

We purchased a new headboard and huge desk from Craig's list, which not only displaced her old furniture, but also commandeered the garage for several weeks as she began painting all her furniture to match. The contents of her room moved into every nook and cranny of the rest of the house. Everything came out of her dresser, nightstand, desk and closet to enable all the painting and the installation of her closet system, all of which, as you can imagine, created quite the chaos.

In addition, this summer has been a super busy one for our family. A visit from my mom for one month, hosting a young woman from Spain for another, overnight camp for the girls, summer school for the younger kids and me trying to work in between it all. Throw in several more projects, including installation of a fan in our downstairs bathroom, some much needed and long awaited major landscaping in our backyard, a new shed, rearing and tagging of 180 monarch caterpillars in our dining room and the rehabilitation and taming of our new rescue cat, Lucky, and you get the idea of how it was.

There have been several times this summer when I have felt very exhausted and cranky because of the crazy state of things, when there wasn't one room I could go into that did not have a mess of miscellaneous things that didn't belong there, epitomizing the proverbial "worse before better".

I coped by doing lots of deep breathing, some complaining (which always relieved me) and mostly by just giving in to the chaos. (Click here to read another post about Living with (Some) Chaos). Surprisingly, when I let go of my own expectations that things will be in control, I am able to push past it.

Finally, I am beginning to see the light at the end of many of the projects. It will still be a while before all the leftover debris is dealt with (extra furniture and items) from the transitions as I have to sort through a few more closets and the attic to make room for new things to store and purge out unneeded. For now, I am happy with the progress we have made and with my ability to cope during the chaos.

Here are the "better" photos at the tail end of my daughter's room re-do.

For help with any organizing project
simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.
Comments Welcome!
If the comment box is not visible, click on the "No Comments" link
~ Counter-intuitive, I know, but it's a Blogger quirk

Monday, August 4, 2014

Learning to Be Organized

Last week, I visited a client that I have been working closely with over several months, on  paperwork and project management. Before we got started on our normal trek to her basement office, she excitedly showed me her linen closet. Proudly, she said "Look what I did by myself!" She had applied the concepts of sorting, purging and organizing that I had been teaching her about her paper, making this beautiful space, complete with labeled shelves.

She had found that it was no longer difficult for her to see the excess that she accumulated in her closet and to make decisions about what she "really" needed and what was just visual/emotional distraction. I was super proud of her, as that is my goal for each client I work with; to become as self sufficient and independent as possible in managing their affairs. Everyone varies with this, in terms of each person's abilities and limitations of course, but I encourage everyone to reach their potential, whatever that may be.

I often get calls from Prospective Clients who want an idea of how much it will cost to "Get Organized".  First of all, this is a very difficult thing to estimate, as it depends, among other things on the scope of the project and the client's readiness for change. Sometimes, when they hear my organizing rates, they decide it is too expensive. I understand that. However, I encourage clients to see it for the investment it really is. When we purchase training  that broadens the mind and emphasizes development of a skill set which results in life changing results (such as a college education), it's not only a good decision; it truly is an essential investment.

Working with a Professional Organizer to learn the skill set to be organized and efficient is that same kind of high value, big payoff investment. When I work with a client, it's usually on a very intimate level, talking about vision, philosophy, previous relationships and experiences, unresolved issues, trauma, fears, hopes and dreams. While what I do is not psychotherapy, it is very therapeutic and occurs naturally as we handle different pieces of their life. Clients talk to me about the items and their relationship to them. What they eventually come to realize is that it is Hardly Ever About the Stuff. It is about the Emotions and Beliefs About the Stuff. Which, in turn, affects what we do with the stuff. This new found knowledge helps us to make better, more practical decisions that simplify our lives.

So my work involves talking about broad values, examining past ideas and habits, deciding intentionally how to believe and act from this point further, so that- based upon these new realizations- when the old system is dismantled and the new system is developed, it works because it is based on a well thought out, healthy, functional philosophy. As Stephen Covey says, when you get the the top you want your ladder to be leaning against the right wall.

So Kudos to my dear client! Who has worked so hard to make sure her ladder is leaning against the right wall, and who has achieved the highest goal in my mind; the ability to generalize her new skill set to a different project. I am proud and honored to be a part of your growth and success!

For help with any organizing project
simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.

Comments Welcome!
If the comment box is not visible, click on the "No Comments" link
~ Counter-intuitive, I know, but it's a Blogger quirk

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ask Linda: Any Ideas for Garage Organization?

Last week, a friend posed this Question: 
"Linda, I just emptied out my disaster of a garage, epoxied the floor and painted the walls. Any ideas for garage organization?"
The garage is a tough project, similar to the basement. It is thankless and dirty, but "Oh So Rewarding" when finished.

Nothing will make it easy, but if you follow these tips, it will likely ensure satisfaction at the end of it all.

Be ruthless: Keep only 2/3 or less of what you currently have. That means for every two items you keep, get rid of one! Toss/recycle anything that is beyond repair, or not worthy of donation. Think about how often you have used that item in the last five years. Be honest. If you are afraid to get rid of it, ask yourself if you could easily replace it, or if you would buy it today if you saw it on sale at the store. Most things we keep are from guilt, or because we "might" need it some day. Someone else may be able to use what you don't need. Consider my post on Freecyle and my WNY Resources Donation Page.

Choose the right storage to keep the stuff that's left: We use these storage units, in our basement and garage and they work really well. They come in two depths, 18" and 24". I recommend purchasing at least two if you have the room, as they look nicer when they are placed next to each other in a uniform way, and it makes it easier to store things if you have a little wiggle room on the shelves. They are sturdy and durable and no maintenance. I recommend them for utility storage as well as in a basement playroom.

Getting organized is a process, not an event: I say this all the time to myself, my clients, my family. There will not come a moment where a rainbow comes out and you are Finally Organized. Instead, there will be a transition period where you begin to see the order of things and visualize the possibilities and pleasures of living more simply. This will feel wonderful! Of course, it will slowly clutter up again, and as things change, you age, have other people living with you, change your interests, ideas and capacities, you will need to continue to organize and declutter. But once you do the big job, as my friend did when she painted and epoxied the floor, you create a new canvas where you can design a more functional, organized and beautiful space. You will feel So Much Better.

Recognize that you cannot force people to get rid of things: If you live alone, this won't apply. But many of us don't and we have other people's stuff sharing our space. This can be difficult. This year my son was willing to part with some very outgrown golf clubs, but I couldn't convince my husband to pass along the snowshoes that hadn't been used since (possibly) the Storm of 2001 (if even then). Be flexible if you are organizing others (as in the case of older parents-- see post Helping Older People Get Organized), don't push beyond the limit. You can use the Paper Towel Technique described by Judith Kohlberg (see post How Do I Get Started) to break things down into manageable pieces. Once people get used to the idea of parting with things, they often can let go of more because it falls into the same category as what they have already decided they can live without. This is when the most progress will be made.

Good luck to my friend, with your garage project and kudos to you for beginning and following through and thanks for asking the question!

For help with any organizing project
simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.

Comments Welcome!
If the comment box is not visible, click on the "(No) Comments" link
~ Counter-intuitive, I know, but it's a Blogger quirk

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Lesson In Life

 I was driving home from church in June, east on Sheridan Drive between Youngs and the fire station. A little way up, on the other side of the road, traffic was stopped, so I slowed down. I couldn't see what the problem was at first, but since I was the first car in my lane, I could see that about 60 geese were crossing the road!

Adults and babies of all sizes were sauntering across, in more or less straight lines, following each other but with gaps of changing length between the groups. Just when it seemed a car might squeeze through, another gaggle of geese started across. Four lanes of traffic were completely stopped and although I was anxious to get home, I was smiling to myself about the cuteness of the sight in front of me. I had one of my 10 year old daughters with me, in the backseat, and she, too, was enjoying the geese.

Suddenly, a big, black SUV pulled up in the center lane facing West. Two men, a young man maybe in his late 20s, and an older man, got out of the car and the younger man released his large brown dog from the backseat. His dog raced at the geese and chased them all out of the street. Chaos reigned as geese began running for their lives. I watched in horror, as this giant dog, teeth bared, overtook the geese as they got onto the sidewalk and killed a goose, five feet from my daughter's window.

Of course, as soon as this happened, two things occurred simultaneously. One, the traffic started moving because the geese were no longer blocking the road, and two, the terrified geese began to return to the other side of the street, to escape. This created more horrible chaos and I watched helplessly as geese of all ages honked and cried to protect themselves and their babies.

By this time, the man had caught his dog and I was quite close to him. I pulled forward and yelled to him "Why did you do that?  You could have waited like everyone else. They were doing just fine on their own. That was the cruelest thing I have ever seen!" He laughed at me and said "The goose is fine." I said "The goose is NOT fine, it's DEAD and your dog KILLED IT and I have my child in the car. He killed it right in front of her!" by that time I had to move on, as the traffic was clearing. I was so shaken up and my daughter kept asking me "What happened"? and "Why did he do that?"

I had no answer but that he was an arrogant man who wanted to prove himself to the world that he could take care of the problem. I was very close to home and found my husband and collapsed into tears of grief for the geese. I hadn't realized until that moment what I needed, but what I needed was to go back, to see what had happened to the geese.

He and my 19 year old son took me back and we found the dead goose, which we then realized was a baby. My husband and son gently picked him up in a box and took him back across the street and left him in the woods, while I mourned the innocence and fragility of life. We slowly drove down Sheridan wondering if any had been hit by cars as they were crossing.

Just at our street, we saw a solitary baby goose wandering alone, pecking at the grass. We realized that he had become separated from his flock and was unable to cross busy Sheridan Drive by himself. We knew we had to help him. My husband and son managed to catch him in a towel and we brought him into the van. My son held him on his lap and soothed him. We drove behind Wegmans and the AAA looking for his flock. We finally found them, far from the original crossing site, on a lake in the corporate park. We released him to his family, where about 30 baby geese were roosting with their parents. He quickly waddled off to rejoin them, welcomed back by the others.

I don't know who that young man was, but I hope he reads this or someone recognizes him and shares it. I hope he allows himself to acknowledge and regret his impulsive and careless decision to release his dog to "solve" the problem. Life is fragile and special in all of the earth's creatures and to hunt something down in cold blood is neither admirable nor brave. Everything we do has an impact on others and the world is a series of interconnected emotions and experiences. As my daughters learn in school, he should "Stop, Think, Go." I am grateful that each of my four children demonstrates empathy, compassion and patience; that they know that the response to bullying and violence is to stand by and protect the victim. I am grateful that my husband is a strong, sensitive, loving man who supports me unconditionally and doesn't hesitate to help when I say I want to rescue a baby goose. He just grabs the keys and joins me.

For help with any organizing project, including aligning the priorities in your life,
simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.

Comments Welcome!
If the comment box is not visible, click on the "(No) Comments" link
~ Counter-intuitive, I know, but it's a Blogger quirk

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Accomodating More When We Think We Can't


About two months ago, I was driving home from a client's home, with my van full of various rummage that I needed to drop off to charity, on my way to have some dental work. I was stopped at a light; the first car in the left lane. Across from me, I saw the traffic had stopped and what I saw surprised me. There was a bright orange cat, flinging himself back and forth in the street, obviously in distress. I realized that he couldn't move himself where he needed to go to get out of the street; as if  his brain wasn't making a connection with his body. I reacted immediately, without hesitation. I turned left into the side street, quickly parked my van and ran a few hundred yards down the street where the cat was desperately trying to survive. While I bent down to scoop him up, he looked right into my eyes. I could see them going back and forth, consistent with a concussion. He weakly hissed at me, which I of course ignored, and I rushed him back down the street and into my car. He quickly crawled under the front seat and fearfully peaked out at me. I said to him, "Cat, you have no idea how lucky you are"! After that, I sat and wondered what on earth I was going to do next.

I didn't need another cat. I already had two. I had a senior dog, two gerbils, two fish, and four children. Already a full house. I didn't want another cat. Except that here he was, in my car, looking at me as if to say "What's next?" So, I called the vet and said I was bringing over an injured cat. To make a long story short, he wasn't badly hurt. He had a nasty bump on his head which was swelling into a large egg, he had fleas and earmites and was filthy dirty and was an un-neutered male. Very stinky. He had lost several claws trying to grab the road to right himself. And we suspected that his tail was broken. He was obviously a street cat, wary and independent. But as cute as a button, and oh so grateful for the food, water and attention that we gave him.

Lucky, when he first arrived

Buffalo Humane helped us get him neutered and vaccinated and gave us a crate to borrow until he and our other pets adapted to him. It took lots of patience because he was a bit uncivilized, often biting and scratching us as though we were prey. The other cats were not too happy at first. It took about 6 weeks of slow isolation and integration before all the hissing died down. Poor Whisper, our shy senior whippet, still doesn't understand why the cat swats her every chance he gets. Plus, having upgraded to 4 litter boxes has created a challenge to our space, time (for scooping) and senses (of smell).

Whisper wondering why another cat came into her life.

This new cat has created chaos of a sort, but not entirely unwelcome and definitely not unneeded. He has bonded deeply with my 19 year old son, and they have a wonderful routine together, as they both like periods of deep relaxation and privacy during the day. At the same time, we find him constantly underfoot and racing to beat us to whichever room we are heading into next, then acting like he has been there all the while. He makes us smile with his silly kittenish behaviors and his endearing, soulful expressions. When we scratch him, while he only allows it above the shoulders, he pushes his head into our fingers as hard as he can.

Aptly, we named him Lucky, at first only because HE was lucky that I rescued him that day. But truthfully, we found out how lucky WE were for letting him into our life. He is truly a wonderful blessing and simply adds so much happiness to our home. And we are adjusting.

Even Whisper
 Just when I think I can't do one more thing, I find not only that I can, but that it's Good!

For help with any organizing project, including adjusting to changes in your life,
simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.

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~ Counter-intuitive, I know, but it's a Blogger quirk!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Kudos to Your Child!

Recently, my friend's 10 year old son did a wonderful job of presenting his part in a program at church. He spoke with such amazing grace and sensitivity that I was moved to write him a special note and acknowledge his contribution to the service. It reminded me of notes that had been written to my older children when they had shared of themselves in similar ways. My friend was touched and said the note was "one for the scrapbook". I shared with her something that was suggested to me, many years ago by a wise school staff person. 

I created a Kudos! book for each of my four children where I keep their paper mementos. Every time they receive a certificate of achievement or completion, I put it in a sheet protector (two documents per sleeve, front and back) inside this 3 ring binder

~ I just put about 50 of the sheet protectors inside so they are there when I need them.~

I keep things like certificates from swim lessons, sports participation, religious school, extra curricular clubs, honor roll and awards of achievement and excellence. I also include programs from special musical events and productions, samples of excellent work, poems and personal notes of acknowledgement and encouragement written to them by others. Each year, I include the class photo of the grade they are in.

A certificate from the beginning of his math path.

My kids have enjoyed collecting these mementos in one spot and over the years they love to look at them and see what they have done in the past. It is an excellent chronological sequence of their lives and when it came time for Matthew to apply to college, it was a helpful review of the many ways he was involved over the years. I am still adding to his today, after his induction into his college Math Honor Society!

Graduation from HS with 22 College Credits in Math

To access a free template like the one I made for my binders click here. It will open a window in Google Drive and you can download the template to edit in your word processor.

Notes: I recommend using higher quality binders and sheet protectors like the ones I linked to. Economy ones just don't feel as nice or hold up as well. The Kudos! book is going to be around for a long time, so the few extra dollars are well worth it!

For help with any organizing project,
simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.

Comments Welcome!
If the comment box is not visible, click on the "(No) Comments" link
~ Counter-intuitive, I know, but it's a Blogger quirk!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Stuck in the Maze??

At some point in our lives, we all become stuck. For all kinds of reasons. Some of us stay stuck for a short time, a few minutes, a few days, weeks or months, some of us for years. Some are stuck with emotional stuff, some with physical, but dealing with it has to happen inside first. In my organizing business, I don't just reorganize clients' stuff--- I reorganize their brains!! This is so important to lasting change.

Sold on Amazon
One of my favorite books about dealing with Change is "Who Moved My Cheese", by Spencer Johnson, MD. As the inside cover states "Written for all ages, the story takes less than an hour to read, but its unique insights can last for a lifetime."

The book is about 4 characters, two humans; Hem & Haw, and two mice; Sniff & Scurry, who all live in the maze. Each day they go to Cheese Station C where they find "Cheese". Cheese is a metaphor for what they want in life; happiness, power, money, success, family. The humans become complacent in their Cheese and begin to take it for granted while the mice continually look around them and anticipate change. When the Cheese in Cheese Station C starts to dwindle, they are not surprised and they begin to prepare to change. The humans, ignore the signs and one day when no more Cheese is left, the mice quickly run back into the maze to search for more cheese, but the humans, being caught up in their analytical ways, with their complex brains, resist the idea that change is needed and continue to search for the missing Cheese in Cheese Station C. They even dig out the wall and try to find it. Haw finally begins to see the "Handwriting on the Wall" and the futility of their behavior and he tries to convince Hem to go out into the maze and search for new Cheese.

Hem is absolutely stuck. He is terrified to make any changes. He won't even look out into the maze for alternatives, despite Haw's pleading. Haw is indecisive and asks himself "What would you do if you weren't afraid?" Finally he decides that change is essential to his survival. He simply cannot get different results unless he makes a change and takes a risk. Which he does.

Meanwhile, Sniff & Scurry, who were not hampered by the humans' complicated analytical brains, have long ago found new Cheese in the maze at Cheese Station N. When Hem decides to take a risk, he learns so much about himself AND he learns to laugh at himself and some of his self-limiting ways. He even goes back to encourage Hem, but Hem is unwilling to change and so Haw reluctantly goes on without him.

Finally, Haw arrives at Cheese Station N, where Sniff & Scurry have found an ample supply of New Cheese. Despite the seemingly endless supply and variety, all three continue to keep noticing things around them and preparing for change so that when they need to, they can deal with it. What happens to Hem? Well, he is still stuck.... or is he? Read the book to find out; hard copy or kindle. Also, here are links to a great (10 minute) movie on YouTube based on the story and a brief Power Point for additional ways to understand and experience this life changing parable. While my story is a brief summary, these two links will give you all the depth and insight that is woven into "Who Moved My Cheese?"
Has your Cheese moved?
What would you do if you weren't afraid?
For help, simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Possibility of an Open Doorway, Pt 2

Last October, I wrote The Possibility of an Open Doorway. It was about my real life dream that we could create a doorway through the wall, linking our front hall to the family room. This has now become a reality and I am excited to share it with you! As I had hoped, it has truly increased the functionality of the house and connected everything together. It was a bit difficult at first, as our motor memory continued to route our bodies through the old traffic patterns, but after a few weeks it seemed as if it had always been there!

Another unexpected consequence was how disappointing the view of the family room was from the hallway. Now that the doorway was open, it became evident that change in that room was in order too. This spurred me on to rearrange, purge, consolidate and reorganize the family room so that it was both more attractive, more roomy AND more functional for our current family needs. But that is for a future post.

For now, let me praise my wonderful husband, Eric, who moved two water pipes, a baseboard and electrical lines to make this happen. I am so grateful and appreciative of all your hard work!! We still aren't quite finished. The walls need to be painted and the wooden step still needs to be installed, but it will get done eventually.

The beginnings of an idea

Opening up the wall, figuring out what's inside. The supervisors on hand for the demolition.

Breaking through the other side

Change can be hard. Temporary supports must be put into place while the old supports are removed and replaced.

The new view may not be as great as you want right away. Change begets change.

Eventually, it works out, better than ever!

And even when not perfectly complete, seems like it has always been that way.

I try to listen to that little voice in my head that suggests possibilities to me. Often, they result in wonderful surprises. Read Make Room for Joy, another time in which I listened to my inner voice and share the beautiful outcome.

Your turn. Tell me about a time you let
Possibility change your life!
For help with any organizing project,
simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Simple Solutions Series: Kitchen Utensil Storage

I have a spacious kitchen, but limited storage space in the area of "primary real estate". I qualify that because I am a "petite" woman and the cabinets that are in my reach are limited, without getting a stool. I am willing to get a stool occasionally, but not for everyday needs.  So, I only have one drawer available for utensils and it is pretty shallow. I have purged this drawer several times and use everything in it, although admittedly, not everyday.

I decided to give a utensil caddy a try. I really don't like them as a rule, because they tend to get dusty and take up important counter space (another thing I am limited on). But, given my tight quarters in the drawer, I thought it was worth a try.

I had been given this beautiful cut glass vase and thought it might be perfect as it was really bottom heavy and stable. I chose the top 6 or 7 utensils that I use on a daily basis (ladle, thin spatula, large spatula, small spatula, spork, slotted wooden spoon and flat ended wooden spoon) and stuck them in. Any more would not have fit and I wanted them to come in and out with ease. My husband immediately told me how handy it was and how much he liked it. We both really appreciated the extra space in the drawer, making it so much easier to put away, open & close.

This simple reorganization and re-purposing of our utensils has made such a difference in our kitchen. Would it help you in yours?

For help with any organizing project,
simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.

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Friday, February 7, 2014

Organizing the 2014 Photos & Videos

As I mentioned in my last post, I have LOTS of digital photos; 18,856 to be exact. While I view, edit and organize them through Picasa, my basic file structure is a folder hierarchy that is based on year/month. (My folders have a little, green check mark because I sync/backup my files using Skydrive.)

My instructions depend on the prerequisite that you know how to make a folder on your computer. I have included three links to Youtube videos to help you with this. Even though you may know already how to do this, you may want to view all three as they are brief and they have handy tips- I even learned some new things!

Create a new folder - Windows 1

Create a new folder - Windows 2

Create a new folder - Mac

After you have viewed the videos, first go to your Pictures folder (or create one in your Finder if you are on Mac) and create a folder named @Yearly Photos or 1. Yearly Photos. The @ sign or 1. merely prioritizes it so it sorts to the top automatically when alphabetized.

Next, Create a Folder named 2014, then create 12 more folders that name the months of the year, as follows. If you mimic my name labels, then your year will sort in order, like mine does. If you just use the month name, it will sort alphabetically unless you number them in the name, i.e. 1. January.

 If you have other photos & videos from previous years that need filing, follow the same procedure for each year. You can simply highlight and drag the files (copy & paste) into your new folders, as shown in the videos.

As you download photos & videos from your phone, camera or emails, search for the appropriate month's folder and save them in it. You can certainly make sub-folders within the month, such as First Day of School, Trip to China, if you want to. I do this for some, but not all of the photos.

I keep most of my photos this structure, however, I have other topic titles for certain ones I like to keep separate. School Portraits, House Photos and Business Photos are all examples of additional folders I keep in my Pictures folder, in addition to Yearly Photos.

Good luck with your photo sorting. Let me know how it goes!

For help with any organizing project,
simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.

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~ Counter-intuitive, I know, but it's a Blogger quirk!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Less is More: Capturing the Spirit of the Moment

I have a dear friend from my church, who shared something with me this Sunday that really resonated. She gave me permission to share her experience, as we both agreed that it was something many of my readers may relate to.

She and her husband have 5 children under the age of 11, including two sets of twins. Christmas morning is always exciting and a bit chaotic, as you can imagine! This year, something happened that affected the whole mood. My friend and her husband couldn't find the camera.

At first she was disappointed, thinking that she would miss out on all their excitement, but then as their children began to come down the stairs to see the magic under the tree an interesting thing happened. My friend, who in previous years had always been focused on capturing the moment on camera, realized that she had to capture the moment in her mind! Instead of seeing her children's emotions through the lens and worrying about framing the perfect shots, she was able to be present with them in a way that she was not free to do before. She experienced Christmas morning in a totally different, deeper and more meaningful way! Christmas for her this time, had a relaxed and pure innocence focused on the Current Moment, and not on preserving the Past for some Future Moment.

I have had this same revelation many times, as I sort through my photos, digital now topping 15,000 over 12 years or so. So many of them are buried in folders, never being looked at. About 5 years ago, I began to be a lot more careful of what I preserved. I no longer felt compelled to take thousands of pictures, nor keep ones that are "outtakes". I try to be thoughtful of what I take, and make sure that I at least get one desired shot, and not worry about documenting every step of the event, or that everyone is perfectly ready for the photo! For example, on my son's recent 19th birthday, it was important to me to have a photo of us together so I made a special point to ask my husband to take it!

Another thing I have noticed, is when we go to school concerts (and my husband and I go to them all- (orchestra, band, choral), I always see parents (and often now- younger siblings) with their video cameras and ipads (sometimes blissfully unaware they are blocking the view of those behind them), dutifully recording every song that their child is featured in. I mean, it is wonderful to record a special song or a sample of the playing, but recording each and every concert in it's entirety seems a bit excessive and I often wonder how many times those lengthy videos are viewed again. While I don't grudge those parents their pride in their child, I just feel that listening to the music in the present and enjoying their child's performance without the lens has its merits and rewards!

The funny thing is that my friend and her husband realized later that they had their camera all along, it was just in a coat pocket, tucked away. It turned out that they both were glad it had been missing after all, as it showed them the Joy of the Present.

So, to quote my pastor of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Amherst, who this past Sunday quoted Albert Einstein as saying "Learn from Yesterday, Live for Today, Hope for Tomorrow".

And stayed tuned for my next post: Hope for Organizing 2014 photos!

For help with any organizing project,
simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.

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