Personal Growth

My nest is empty, but the stuff remains. Why is decluttering so emotionally fraught?

From The Washington Post
March 4, 2021

 

Last March, when most people were wringing their hands about the shutdown, I felt positively giddy at the prospect of finally getting organized. Time — the rarest of commodities — was now being served up on a silver platter.

So how can it be that, almost a year since the pandemic began, the basement, attic and garage remain as overstuffed as ever? Why can’t I empty my empty nest? I have to confront an uncomfortable truth: It’s not about time; it’s about me.

Although the story about how younger generations have no use for their boomer parents’ stuffhas been well-documented, my lack of progress has nothing to do with dining room tables with seating for 12 or display cabinets. It’s the photo albums, the well-loved baby blankets and the shoe boxes full of letters that have left me paralyzed.

Follow me into my cobwebbed basement, and you’ll find a museum of memorabilia still untouched, despite a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. The bedroom set is a lot easier to shed than the 17-by-20-inch wedding portrait of my mother, who has been gone for 10 years now. It’s too massive and shrine-like to put anywhere else, and yet, how can I just cavalierly toss her in the trash?

Read the rest on The Washington Post.

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Giving the Gift of Organization

Is there someone special in your life who you feel would benefit from a gift of professional organizing services? It is definitely a thoughtful present that would help someone you care about. It’s one less “thing” they don’t need to store in their home or work space. If it’s something they may not be able to afford or would just not spend that money on themselves, then it would be a boon to their life. It’s a gift of love, really. With that being said, there are a few things to consider before giving this generous gift.

Would They Welcome This Gift?

If your brother and sister-in-law seem up to their eyeballs in clutter since the arrival of baby #2, but they are blissfully exhausted and seem fine with their messy home, gifting them a professional organizing service may actually burst their bubble and embarrass them. You don’t want your intended gift of help to create bad feelings for either of you. Think of it as giving a Weight Watchers membership to an overweight friend who has never said anything about trying to lose weight—ouch. But if they often mention how they wish they could finally finish getting the nursery set up, or get the kitchen organized so they can actually cook, or declutter the living room so it’s a more relaxing family space—then time with a pro organizer may be a great help to them.

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7 Habits to Break in the New Year

“New year, new me!”, goes the saying. That is a daunting task indeed. Besides, I like me, and I don’t necessarily want to change me to a new one! However, I do know that I’ve got some habits—as we all do—that hinder me from being my best self. Habits that may interfere with my sleep and my productivity; that may contribute to a cluttered home; and that keep me from being as active as I’d like. Even habits that don’t bode well for my financial well-being or my physical and mental health. So let’s change that saying to, “New year, better me!” Let’s start with these 7 habits to break in the new year.

1. Tossing mail on kitchen counter

You get home, get the mail, and put it on the kitchen counter. Sometimes it may take days to get to it, and now you’ve got a pile taking up counter space. Break this habit by setting up a system to handle mail. Whether it’s a mail organizer or a few file folders, set up a situation so you can come in, quickly go through the mail in hand, and place items in their proper categories such as “To Pay,” “To File,” and “To Recycle/Shred”.

2. Constantly checking your phone

How many times a day do you think you look at your phone? You may think, “Oh, maybe about 15,” but the reality is probably at least 10 times that. Check your iPhone or Android data to find out. Then go through your phone and change settings so that only the very important apps will send you notifications or alerts. These steps from CNBC can help you with even more detail on how to lower your phone pick-ups. This will be better for your productivity, your social life, and your sense of self!

3. Sitting all day

So many of us are now working from home, which means a lot of hours spent videoconferencing with coworkers and clients. No bueno! Hours of sitting can seriously take a toll on your health, both physical and mental. Get up every 45-60 minutes, even if it’s just to get the mail (natch, don’t toss it on the counter) or use the restroom. If you’ve got a longer break, walk around the block. If you find it tough to take these breaks you might consider a standing desk.

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When Your Empty Nest Refills

Has your empty nest been refilled in light of this year’s unprecedented events? Guess what, you are not alone! According to a recent survey by Country Financial, 1 in 5 parents have had adult kids move back home in 2020. For younger millennials (24-29 year olds), 39% of them are either planning to move back home or have already done so. In some cases a child who was supposed to move out is staying home instead because their university is currently still remote-only. Whatever the reason, having a kid or two at home when you were expecting to be an empty nester is probably a surprise. We’ve got some tips on how to keep things positive and harmonious while enjoying this extra time together.

Set Expectations

Your kiddo is now an adult, and not only should you treat them as such, but they should also behave accordingly. Let them do their own laundry, give them chores, take turns doing groceries and making dinner—you get the idea. Unless you want your house to feel like your adult children’s personal “bed & breakfast,” set these expectations early on. It’s easy for your relationship to regress to the parent-child dynamic, but really try not to let it. Instead, move it towards more of an adult-roommates dynamic.

Communicate Needs

Everyone will have specific needs and these should be addressed and agreed upon. For example, if you and your spouse are accustomed to having dinner at 6pm but your late-working daughter likes to eat at 9pm, work out a compromise involving cooking and heating up leftovers. If your son has a daily 8am call with his boss, move your daily morning treadmill date with Van Halen earlier or later (or get AirPods!). It’s also important to communicate about finances. If your child is working, do you want them to help pay for utilities and groceries? If not, do they need financial support, and how much? Talking about it and clarifying details will make it a bit less stressful for both of you.

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Creating Your Very Own Real World She Shed

She shed sea shells by the seashore. That’s what she shed. Wait…what?! The whole “she shed” concept came about several years ago as the woman’s equivalent of the man cave: a personal sanctuary to recharge, relax, and de-stress. Doesn’t that sound divine? Search Pinterest for “she shed,” however, and the photos can overwhelm one with their full-blown cottages replete with high-end decor, skylights, a mini fridge, porch swing…you name it. While the concept of a private retreat is a major plus for self-care, creating a she shed shouldn’t become yet another burdensome house project or expense. And honestly, most people don’t have an old garden shed, gazebo, or cottage on their property to transform into an English garden- or fairy tale-inspired she shed. We’ve got ideas on how to bring the she shed idea back to a realistic and manageable level so that every woman can create one without stressing out or spending a lot.

Find Your Space

If you do happen to have a structure on your property you want to convert into a fabulous she shed, that’s awesome—more power to you! If you don’t, you’ll need to get a little creative. Think of “she shed” as a concept, and not necessarily a building. Is your kiddo off to college? Consider transforming their bedroom into your she shed, and having them bunk with a sibling when they’re home for a spell. Does your garage have an extra bay? Do you have a screened-in porch? A sitting area in your bedroom? A never-used “formal” dining room? A really big walk-in closet? See where I’m going with this? Find even a corner that you can make your personal oasis; then cordon it off with a room divider or screen for more privacy.

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20 Great Book Club Questions for When Your Group Gets Stuck

Real Simple
February 2020

Thought-provoking questions that work for virtually any book.
The best book club discussion rises above each group member’s likes and dislikes, instead seeking to understand the book on a deeper level than each person could have on their own. With that goal in mind, ask questions that tap into the building blocks of stories, like characters, plot, settings, and symbolism. Don’t stop at what the author is doing. Try to understand why the author made their choices and how those choices affected the story. Here are some questions to help guide your group discussion. Read the entire piece at Real Simple.

 

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Questions to Ask Yourself for 2021

We’ve all done the New Year’s Resolutions thing umpteen times. We’ve made lists with ambitious goals, hopeful ideas, and grand declarations. Everything from getting fit to managing finances better to organizing your home to hiking more with your kids. Raise your hand if you’ve gotten to March, with that list long forgotten, or with very few items checked off. (Raises hand.) I have found that lists of lofty goals can sometimes make me feel worse if I have not come close to achieving everything in due time.

For the past few years, instead of making a list of resolutions, I’ve made a list of questions. Seriously, questions! Questions that may help me prioritize factors in my life, that make me think twice about some things, and yes, that lead me to question what I have taken for granted. But of course, you don’t want a brain explosion! It doesn’t have to be all so deep, life-changing, and philosophical—it just needs to help you give more thought to what’s already in your world, and what you’d like to add or improve.

To help you get started, I’ve categorized the questions. These are just ideas to kickstart your own question-making process.

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