Children mean changes in the Home

Written by Karen Jessee.

Children bring change to our livesfriend bemoaning his weight gain commented, “You have children, these little characters that cry and eat and poop. And then they become verbal, and then they become verbally abusive, and then they grow just tall enough to smack you where it hurts. Sometimes it takes beer and Oreos™ to remind yourself that these are the greatest little things in your life.”
Fact: children mean changes in the home.

SHOPAHOLICS

Written by Karen Jessee.

ShopaholicA friend recently wrote me that a buddy contacted her to help clean out a closet and organize some clothes. Her second sentence was complete disbelief that I did this for a living and that anyone could ever have the compassion and patience to be a professional organizer.
She had been greeted by a closet the size of a bedroom with shelves and racks overflowing with shoes and clothes.

“I Need My Dining Room for the Hedgehogs”

Written by Karen Jessee.

Clean off the dining room table -organize your lifeThis was the response to my last question, “Would you like to have your dining room be a dining room again” during a phone consultation. And upon the first visit, true enough, the dining room was filled with cages of sleeping hedgehogs; nary a table nor china cabinet anywhere.  

Meet Christine Matarese, a certified hedgehog rescuer, whose passion began in the 90s after recognizing that these “spiky balls of love” were the pet for her, and later realizing that these little creatures actually needed to be rescued.  

The Optimist vs. Reality

Written by Karen Jessee.

The Optimist vs. RealityA few years ago, a friend sent his manuscript of historical fiction to a publisher.  Imagine the joy and sound of popping champagne corks when his manuscript was accepted on his first try.  No pile of refusal letters, nothing to dash hopes or egos; everything that touted that his last eight years had not been for naught. 

The Real Legacy You’ve Left Your Children Part IV

Written by Karen Jessee.

The Real Legacy You’ve Left Your Children Part IVOh, Tidings of Comfort and Joy (Part IV – The Real Legacy You’ve Left Your Children)

"Jeez Dad, what are we supposed to do with all this crap when you die?"

Those charming words of endearment were uttered by Elliot's forty- something daughter, Trish, as she gazed around his basement. The pictures you see here were taken in Elliot's basement with his proud permission to set an example for all those granddads still in love with their man caves. This is a fraction of the joy in Elliot's basement.

The Real Legacy You’ve Left Your Children Part III

Written by Karen Jessee.

The Real Legacy You’ve Left Your Children Part IIIThe E-mail: "Dear Karen,

"I am inquiring on behalf of my parents without their knowledge. They are both retired and in their early 70's. The family home that I once knew as clean, organized, and well kept has become a complete mess and a horrible embarrassment.

"My mom will not get rid of anything because she feels that she may need it one day. She keeps saying she's going through things but this has turned into a slow process of her moving things from one area or box to another. The house has become overrun with boxes and general clutter.
"My father has basically given up which has led to some marital discord. I have tried, as have my siblings, to talk to her or offer assistance but we get pushed back with excuses. They want to declutter and move to a smaller home but the task is well beyond their ability at this point.
"I am at a point where I don't know what else to do to help them and I think its time for professional help but don't know how to get them to accept it. Hoping you may have some answers or guidance? Thank you in advance...Phyllis"

The Real Legacy You’ve Left Your Children Part II

Written by Karen Jessee.

The Real Legacy You’ve Left Your Children Part IIEllen

Ellen had taken seriously my recommendation for a clean out company. Three bedrooms in her mother's house were strewn with garbage and trash as was the front porch which had become the designated dumping ground. Ellen didn't even want to discuss the basement.

I asked her to think about how many days and weeks, of tedious sorting, how many garbage bags; how many dumpsters, how many trips either up stairs or down stairs this cleaning out could take should she try this herself. I asked her to think about the possibility of becoming so weary that accidents...tripping, falling, failing to see a red light or stop sign... would become real and devastating. We were meeting a deadline. I gave her my resources and she called for help.

Christmas Lite

Written by Karen Jessee.

Professional organizers love Christmas.  It’s one of the reasons we have jobs.  Closets and drawers are stuffed and glutted with gifts received years ago with the best of the season’s spirit.  Bins and boxes labeled “Christmas” filled with every decoration, ornament, garland, music box, singing, jiggling character, and Christmas collectible are stacked and shoved into every available space in attics and basements.  More bins with items purchased throughout the year to give, but that were forgotten instead, languish in corners.  The Christmas Season begins earlier every year  - Halloween and Thanksgiving apparently are there to help us be polite as we head toward commercial gusto and frenzy and the relentless scream of retailers to shop and buy.   How about thinking outside the box...and the bin...and creating some alternatives?

Holiday Doom and Decor

Written by karen Jessee.

From October to December, retail brings on the sights, sounds, and smells of the season. The fragrant candles will be up front, the lights will be blinking and the music will all be there to help you open your wallet.   Inspired by the seasonal influx of catalogues and the many people who have given up their basements, garages, spare rooms, and attics to store far too many holiday decorations, I bring you this bit of silly

How Did It Get Like This?

Written by Karen Jessee.

What a mess

We all have that spot. It’s a desk top, closet, bedroom, office, garage, a basement; a space so cluttered, so unorganized, so filled with stuff and nonsense that it is no longer functional. And one day, for some reason, we look at it all with new eyes. A new reality sets in; we gasp in dismay and wail out loud, “How did it get like this?” 

Organizing Emotionally: It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys

Written by Karen Jessee.

organizing

 

Magazines touting the latest in organizing solutions with glossy images of clean and perfect spaces do not deal with individuals or their lives.   Staged with new furniture and quaint products, these articles are advice with the underlying hint that buying something pretty will put one’s life in order. There’s the panacea of visual fantasies: ten beige outfits in a closet; six bathroom towels rolled with ribbons.  Glib. 

Friends, Acquaintances, and Strangers - What’s in Your House?

Written by Karen Jessee.

For the last several months I’ve written about keeping Christmas and the rest of the year simple and light, finding alternatives to the holiday stress and frenzy, and giving yourself permission to say “enough” to keep debt at bay. It’s all a matter of making sensible but sometimes difficult choices.

Anyone who has ever planned a party knows that decisions and choices are basic beginning ingredients: what to serve, whom to invite. I’m revving up for a holiday gathering at my house; a brunch, followed by a trip to a small, local theatre.

The Real Legacy You’ve Left Your Children Part I

Written by Karen Jessee.

The Real Legacy You’ve Left Your Children Part IStory #1: Dale
"I will never do to my sons what my father did to me."
Sounds like a salacious headline in one of those believe-this-if-you-will tabloids, conjuring up images of abuse; maybe dungeon-like living quarters or unspeakable horrors.

This is actually a statement from a friend who had to clean out his father's house after his dad decided to downsize and move.

Some Assembly Required

Written by Karen Jessee.

"If the box on this year’s Christmas present uses "some Assembly required", you might want to be fully armed and dressed for battle"

When I was growing up and my mother would announce that she would have to call someone to fix or assemble something, my father would respond with the typical male growl,

“ That’s ridiculous; I can do it.” 

Love is Not made of Plastic

Written by Karen Jessee.

Love not plastic

There's the start of a college education in the back of my car. There's been a small down payment on a house and a gently used vehicle back there too. I've carted away a cleaning service, a couple of moving men, and a contractor who could have done some serious home repairs.

When America is Disorganized: Mistaken Identity and Mayhem

Written by Karen Jessee.

 For the past 23 years, I have been housing theatre people, mostly opera folks when opera is in season here. There is always a spare room for out- of-town singers, directors, or costumers who need a place to stay.  

Six years ago, I met Domingo and  Alexandra, two world-class opera singers from Argentina who spoke about wanting to leave their country.   The government there had taken over the banks, had taken the money from their accounts, had taken over the opera house and then had failed to pay either of them for their performances. Unable to pay their mortgage, they lost their home, as had many others.

Organizing Emotionally: It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys II

Written by Karen Jessee.

Organizing Emotionally

Marilyn Paul, a  professional woman with a doctorate, confessed to being the poster child of disorder in her personal life.  Home and office were jumbled and confused; her lifestyle frenzied and disorganized. In her book, It’s Hard to Make a Difference When you Can’t Find Your Keys, she relates how she was able to finally get organized personally and professionally when she began to organize emotionally. 

In my last article,  we covered ...

  1. Purpose for becoming and staying organized.
  2. Envisioning the life and environment one would like to have. The journey continues with some serious questioning.  
  3. Reality, Taking Stock  Most people eventually learn that there is a relationship between habits and comfort.

Divide and Conquer - Paper Management Part I

Written by Karen Jessee.

Every personal organizer who has ever answered the plea for help in paper management has seen the following organizing “systems”: the floor, the kitchen counter, the desk top, the entry table, the dining room table, the coffee table,  the family room, the laundry room, the laundry baskets, the wicker baskets, the tote bags, the paper bags, the plastic bags, the shoe boxes, the cardboard boxes, the plastic bins, and my personal favorite, the dog kennel. When we’ve been shown actual filing cabinets, they are either empty or filled with buldging, toppling files labeled “miscellaneous” and “stuff”, which is right up there with naming all your children, “Hey You”.  Anyone can answer that call including the neighbors next door whom you weren’t really seeking.

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