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.

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~ 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.

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~ 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!