I believe we all have our roles in life. For years my sister Lorijo’s was to make sure that my side of the room stayed clean. I was perfectly happy to co-exist with my messy side, but she wasn’t. She dreamed of being a Cleaning Lady when she grew up and I did everything in my power to give her the practical experience she needed. This came in very handy for the entire childhood we spent sharing a room.
Me and Lorijo in 9th and 7th grade
But old habits die hard and after leaving the Midwest and moving to both coasts and Atlanta, twice, she was a little sick of flying out to unpack my stuff and set me up at my new locations.
Many years and four kids between us later I can no longer take advantage of my sister and her career aspirations. P.S. She cleaned houses to get through college but is now a successful yoga teacher and photographer in Portland, Oregon.
One of my roles has always been being masterful at functioning in the midst of chaos. Not only functioning but existing quite happily. It’s a special skill, I’m convinced. I can find anything for anyone at any given time. I have radar on all of my stuff and everyone else’s, and although it might not seem orderly or systematic, up until now I have been perfectly happy to exist in this semi-disorganized state.
Although this is probably a great trait for responding to natural disasters or family crises, I am fairly certain that maintaining a war-zone-like environment in closet, car and purse, is hell on the adrenals.
Since I like to keep my adrenals in good working order I decided to hire an organizer to help me smooth out the rough edges of my life.
Enter Collected Spaces professional organizer extraordinaire, Teresa Nicola, who is Lorijo’s friend from Portland. Are you detecting a pattern here?! Our first agreement was to dig in-deep.
Teresa doin her thing
One look at my closet and it’s a wonder I can put any outfits together. I’ve got my talents but honestly, organizing isn’t one of them.
Not one to judge,Teresa wasted no time and before I knew it had the entire contents of my closet emptied onto my bed, or what she referred to as the staging area.
We began with an acronym she uses for successful organizing.
SPACE: S=Sort; P=Purge; A=A home; C=Container; and E=Equalize.
We powered through at a crazy pace. Forty minutes into it I hit a hypoglycemic wall. I was starving. I have a crazy fast metabolism or as my friend Amy once said, “Your metabolism is on crack”. Seeing all of my stuff piled up before my eyes was making me break out into a cold sweat. I believe it is part of my fight or flight. I chose flight and retreated to the kitchen.
While I took a nutrition break she continued to sort my clothes by what she referred to as “like with like.” Similar items sorted by color and a system called “Cap the Rainbow.” The good old Roy G Biv capped on both ends with neutrals. White, cream and brown on one end and gray and black on the other. Prints are worked into the like-with-like mix with the predominant color determining the placement.
Well three hours later the results were pretty impressive.I had purged about two trash bags of items and I could make out every piece of clothing individually. I had the habit of collecting more than one item on each hanger, with the logic that I was already predetermining outfits I would need, for auditions and life’s other roles. Teresa quickly disabused me of this system and I was rapidly running out of hangers.
We made some major headway, but, I still had some homework to do.
The next day I found myself feeling quite cranky, with a lengthy to-do list and a pile of undetermined items that still needed sorting and hanging. I was off to the Container Store for the first time ever. How could this be?! How have I have lived and shopped for this long and never set foot in this Oz-like place! Within minutes of my walking in, employees Brett and Dawn were leading me around and helping me fill my two carts with anti-slip hangers, flat wire stacking shelves, linen storage boxes and a box made especially for my handbags! What?!
Once I was back home, these items transformed my closet into a kinder gentler place, a place where finding a pair of matching shoes was no longer an all-day affair.
This new way of life may take some getting used to, but I am beginning to have some respect for the system.
I still have some work to do. Teresa and I will be attacking my desk soon and then I will team up with each of my kids to get their closets in order. God help me!
I encourage you to find a partner and dig in. Check out Teresa’s site for some tips and ask her questions on her blog.
Good luck and happy organizing!