The Blog

Holidays Evoke Nostalgia: How Do You Rekindle the Moments?

menorahAs I celebrate Chanukah this year, I’m feeling very nostalgic.  “It is both the pleasure and sadness that is caused by remembering something from the past and wishing that you could experience it again.”

This is a picture of our very first Chanukah menorah given by my parents for our first new home. For over 27 years, we commemorated the holiday with the very same menorah.  The menorah was ceramic, so it was very challenging to clean.  No shocker that initially after the first few years,  I was thinking it was looking disarrayed and unkempt.

But then came the epiphany.  With each successive Chanukah that followed, it hit me that this was not a merely pile of messy melted wax,  this was a priceless piece of art.  Year after year,  the melting colored candle wax had dripped over that Menorah over and over again, and had left the most beautiful and artistic mark in the most unique way. In fact, each drool of wax, layers upon layers, had traced the rich history of so many treasured Chanukah memories we had shared together as a family.

Unfortunately, it did not stand the test of time. It survived a second move to another home but decades of burning flames on the delicately sculpted figurines had eventually broken their outstretched hands. The candlestick holders had crumbled with age, leaving behind nothing more than a stump of ashes. I tried to repair it multiple times by creating new holders with copper and foil but to no avail.

There comes a time when particular possessions no longer serve a purpose (especially when they are broken), and while they still hold sentimental value, I understood this to be that juncture where there’s a tug of the heart.  I wanted to always remember it, so I took a picture and finally bid it farewell.

So learn from me, when you are deliberating about the stuff you can’t part with or think you can’t live without, take a pic and let it go. You don’t need to keep the physical item to commemorate the memories.  For me, having it in hand or looking at the picture,  brings me equal measures of nostalgia. I will always have these wonderful memories, albeit digitally, it still rekindles the moment.

To date, we bought a new one.  It’s way more contemporary, shiny, and glass. It cleans well but without a trace from Chanukahs before.   Life changes, and so has our Menorah.  We’ve moved on, but our memories live forever.

How do you sustain your memories?  Come join in the conversation, I would love for you to share your holiday nostalgia with me.

glass menorah

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The Synergy in Thoughts & Things; How and When To Let Go

balloons_opt-2As a Professional Organizer, I’m called upon to tour and evaluate your cluttered spaces. I’m in your closets and I’m in your intimate drawers.  I can see the physical overwhelm and implement manageable solutions. But what I cannot see, is what’s inside your head.  Your closets may be bulging but perhaps your brain is about to explode as well.

Thoughts and things go hand in hand, therefore the challenges and strategies of organizing them are very much the same too.  Here’s another way to assess them.

Consider your brain the “closet” that stores your thoughts. Take a look and ask yourself;

  • Is it crowded?
  • Is it disorganized?
  • Are you overwhelmed ?
  • Is it impeding on your productivity and life-balance?

What’s abundantly clear, is overabundance.  Whether it is physical clutter or mental clutter, too much is still too much.  Both can be paralyzing if you don’t routinely clear out these spaces.  The accumulation of outdated possessions is as much a burden as a brain full of to do’s or negative thoughts. When your life-balance is threatened, it’s the opportune time to consider purging.

Although the purging process of thoughts and things may look a little different, they both still need to be organized and managed.

Thoughts.  Write them down randomly as they emerge.  Out of the head and onto a piece of paper is a quality brain dump.  Think of it as a mind/body cleanse, like any healthy nutritional cleanse. Clean house and create space in the brain.

Sort and categorize your thoughts. Some thoughts might require an immediate call to action, others might be just an idea that needs to marinate, or perhaps it’s those nagging emotional road blocks that you’ve been avoiding. Beware that when left unattended, these thoughts tend to get lumped altogether in one big pot,  just like a messy junk drawer.  This causes the overwhelm to mount and that’s when the pounding headache emerges.  Recognize that all thoughts cannot be of equal importance. Everything can’t matter in the same way. Break them down and prioritize them.

Take a pause and look them over at another time. When you step away and revisit thoughts, your perspective may change. Give your brain a chance to process all that is on your mind. This will help segregate the minutia from the significant.

“Seeing” your thoughts on paper is a great way to really “look” at your brain, and even more-so,  a very effective method to organize it. A brain needs to be organized too.

Things.  Assessing the relevance of your things in your life today is the best measure to discern their value, and is an integral part of the letting go process. Faulty thinking can often interfere with this decision-making process so it’s always helpful to recruit an objective voice to talk it out.  This process is much more complex but inherently is guided by parameters of finite space. When your systems break down (or you don’t have any), it may be that “too much” is why you are losing control of your things. The less is more and use it or lose it principle will provide you with a life with less to manage.

As you see, thoughts and things are linked so closely and they typically slip and slide together.  Chances are that if your closets are overflowing and overabundant with clutter, your brain is experiencing similar chaos.  And vise versa, if your thoughts are jumbled, there’s a good chance that your spaces will reflect some evidence of disorganization.

So are your closets bursting at the seams? Does your head sometimes feel likes its going to explode? If you are overloaded with thoughts and things, try exercising that letting go muscle.  More room to breathe,  more life to live.

It may not be realistic to do a closet cleanse daily, but I would recommend a brain dump nightly at bedtime.  I promise you a more restful night’s sleep.  It really works. Would love to hear your thoughts about things.  What’s on your mind?


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Assessing the Now: Have You Outgrown Your Clutter?

clutterLook around.  Room check.  Some of your spaces may be seemingly crowded. But imagine that there’s a chance that some of the clutter that’s hanging around just might be irrelevant to you now. Wouldn’t that make it easier to part with?

So let’s start there. It’s hard enough to manage and organize all the things that we are currently using, so let’s go the easy peasy route first.  Here’s the long and the short of it;

Assess the now. Time changes us and we continually evolve.  And so it would make sense that even the clutter should align with our current lifestyle and priorites.  Let go of those things that no longer provide value, any longer. Above all, don’t feel bad about it.  You can make space for new things to enjoy.

Recently inspired from a colleague’s interview with Erin Rooney Doland, author of Unclutter Your Life in One Week, I’ve realized that so many of us hold onto things we’ve outgrown. It’s simply there because, it just is.  Ignored, neglected, perhaps even invisible, but probably for good reason.  It’s just not that important to us anymore.

Here’s a great way to think about letting go of the insignificant. Erin refers to clutter like a bad book you don’t want to read anymore, it’s OK to let it go. Just because you bought it, that doesn’t mean you have to torture yourself to finish it. If it no longer interests you, no need to keep it. It’s just taking up unnecessary space and certainly not deserving of prime real-estate in your home.  Apply this simple thinking to all of your possessions.  Are they a good “match”?  Do they still “fit”?

My favorite depiction of how personal change impacts our values is in Erin’s claim that “one day, a pair of earrings can be your go-to piece of jewelry. You’re a little heartbroken if one earring goes missing from the pair. Two years later, the same pair of earrings is taking up space in your jewelry box and you wouldn’t even remember it was in there. The object hasn’t changed, but how you value it has.” How true. We are indeed capricious.

Time is the operative word for just about everything. Time can ‘manage’ us, time can ‘heal’ us, and time can also ‘change’ us. With the passage of time, we all evolve, and so our priorities shift along with us too. Hence, our clutter changes and so does its significance in our lives.

Have you checked your clutter lately? Ask yourself if it reflects who you are today.  We’ll talk about organizing it all another day, another blog 🙂

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The Shelf-Life of Hobbies: Love ’em or Leave ’em

craft-office_optHobby\noun: a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.

By definition, a hobby is an activity we choose to engage in because it relaxes us.  It brings us immeasurable pleasure. Some hobbies live on forever because they are active and well-preserved.  For the most part,  I’ve seen them come and ‘go,’ in theory, but they rarely seem to actually exit the home.  They often remain in the home on a dusty shelf somewhere in the attic or buried in a box in the basement and/or garage.

During the organizing sessions with my clients, I often discover neglected hobbies.  Here’s how the conversation usually goes during the organizing process;

Organizer (me):  I notice you have an abundant yarn inventory, knitting needles, instruction manuals, etc.  Are you an avid knitter?

Client:  Well, I use to knit all the time many years ago, but I don’t anymore.  I rarely find the time and my interest has waned.

This is a tough one.  As life changes, our interests and passions change too. The longevity of our hobbies may be questionable.  ‘Letting go’ of a hobby once loved can be emotionally difficult. It’s bidding farewell to a piece of your past. Perhaps establishing some criteria would be helpful in the decision-making process.

If you have abandoned your old hobbies and they are strewn all over your house or living on dusty shelves, ask yourself;

  • How important is it in your life today?
  • When was the last time you paid it any attention?
  • Do you still love it and intend to return to it?
  • Does it have any monetary value?
  • What personal value does it serve you to hold onto it?


Clearly, if your hobby and its components are dated, in disrepair, or unusable, consider letting them go.  If they are no longer relevant in your life but can benefit someone else’s, think about donating it to those who will enjoy it. No need to clutter the home at all, albeit with a neglected hobby.

But if you have a hobby that still brings you continuous pleasure, whether it be crafts, painting, pottery, carpentry, books, coins, etc. designate a beautiful space for them. It is far more enticing to play and enjoy when you’ve created a proper home and can organize all the accompaniments.

Honor and respect your hobbies with “pride of place. ” If your hobby or hobbies are active, housing the hobby is an essential piece of its preservation.  These are some of the key elements to consider;

Storage is paramount.  It doesn’t have to be fancy or super high-tech, but a simple system will keep the hobby accessible, organized, and live in an exclusive place.  Things can be easily be retrieved and returned back to their proper home.  It’s important not to impede on other family common spaces.

I love clear organizing cubes for storing tiny crafts (buttons or beads) or for small hardware (nails, screws, hooks)  You can corral them all in one place and ‘see’ them.

Space matters.  Anticipate how your hobby may grow.  Too often, the original space is outgrown in a short period of time because it wasn’t designed for growth and change.

Lighting is also an integral component of happy hobby space. Poorly lit spaces emits negative energy, does not foster a high functioning environment, and can cause chronic eye strain.  It’s likely to discourage you from delving into the hobby and enjoying its space. If you are fortunate enough to be near natural lighting or directly adjacent to a window, that’s an ideal setting.  If not, there are multiple halogen lamps and specialty lighting available that provide superior indoor lighting.

Ergonomics of the hobby space is crucial. The hobby table should accompany all that you require in order efficiently work on the project.  Consider purchasing this flexible hobby table that can adjusts to your preferred height. Optimize vertical space with ample shelving to give you additional storage and easy accessibility.  Ditto to the chair, especially if you plan on sitting in it for countless hours.  It may or may not be critical for it to be on wheels, but it is important for it to be comfy. 🙂

So make your hobby or your kid’s hobby succeed and design with optimal functionality in mind.  Children’s Legos and jigsaw puzzles need happy homes too.  Think about it. Have you really invited your hobby into your home?

Don’t leave them out in the cold garage or dark corners of the basement.  Unattended hobbies generally find their way there. Invite them back in or send them on their merry way.  Love them or let them go.

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How to Purge the Invisible Clutter

8417579244_optDoes your head ever get so full that you can’t think straight?  Is it getting in the way of your routine? You might chalk it up to, “it’s just one of those days,” but in the eventuality that it bleeds into another day or two, your inner voice begins to nudge. It’s impeding on your productivity.  You know when you know.  Something’s up.

Ironically, in some cases, this sense of overwhelm has nothing to do with the physical clutter at all. In fact, your home could be very orderly and closets fairly organized and yet, you are still distracted, and somewhat anxious.  You feel off. You’re more forgetful and definitely not on your game.

Chances are that if you not addressing your anxieties, they are likely to mushroom into a heavy cloud of emotional clutter in your head. This can be just as paralyzing as physical clutter.

When self-defeating thoughts invade, it not only clutters our brain, it drains our battery.  It can stop us dead in our tracks.  We can become both unglued and stuck at the same time.  In the attempt to ward off this uneasiness, many of us internalize the anxiety and bury it deeper through either avoidance and denial.  But if left unresolved, in time it will fester.  It will grow and build like tumbleweed.

Clearing emotional clutter is so very difficult and complex.  It’s not tangible yet it’s something we hold on to. We feel it deeply.  So how can we possibly toss it?

As with the clearing of physical clutter, there are some steps we can follow to begin the shedding process.


Acknowledge that you may be emotionally stuck. Pay attention to the signals.  Recognizing and admitting to the struggle is the very first step and will allow the buried emotions to surface.


Sort and organize your feelings, just as if they were things.  Too many contrasting thoughts swimming around in your head can compete for your attention. Try to write them down and pinpoint them.  Some emotional clutter can be clear and definable while others may be less conscious. You may be overwhelmed with negative self-talk, worry, guilt, shame, doubt, fear, or stress. Classifying your emotions and distinguishing your frustrations with all your life relationships (personal, family, and in the workplace) can be a very cathartic process. This process alone can provide some clarity.


Once you have sorted the emotions, you can evaluate how they are getting in the way of your “stuckness.”  Before you can purge the negativity,  you must find the pain.  Identify the source of the negative thoughts and feelings through honest introspection, or by enlisting help from friends, family, or a professional expert.  An objective eye is sometimes more accurate than self-talk.


Give yourself permission to feel the emotions but not to inhibit your daily productivity.  Confront your demons. Unburden. Look to resolve the conflicts in your personal relationships. It is unlikely that they will fix themselves.  Release and let them  go. As with physical clutter, by letting go, we can create more space for positive energy.


Now that you’ve sorted, evaluated, and purged the emotional residue, you’ve cleared the clutter and can move forward with an untroubled focus.

Understand that over time we all accumulate some measure of emotional clutter.  The more self-actualized we become, the more skillful we will be in managing it.  When it interferes with our life-balance , it’s time to repeat this process.




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Are You Getting A Return On Your “Savings?”

Nope, I’m not talking about the green stuff in the bank. I’m talking about the other stuff you are saving….the stuff you are holding onto because you can’t seem to let it go. If you are thinking about saving things that you might use one day, or holding onto clothing you might wear someday….think again.  Someone else can certainly benefit from it now, so let it go. If you are a parent and you’re thinking about saving stuff for your kids, thinking they might want it…think again. Generally speaking, (and I don’t mean to offend the exception to the rule), chances are great that your kid’s don’t want your old stuff, they have their own. Trust me, I’ve learned from personal experience, and I’m just passing on the sad truth. I too, have been guilty of  justifying hanging on to similar clutter.  So do yourself a favor, evaluate your savings. Are you enjoying them? Are you reaping great rewards from them? If your riches are sitting in a box on an inaccessible shelf somewhere, or buried in a drawer, or tucked away in a dusty attic, how valuable are they really? Save the stuff that brings you joy as you live your life today. Let go of the hobby that never sustained the passion and toss its stuff. Or better yet, while weeding through your life’s clutter, perhaps you will make a new discovery and be inspired to re-invest in the old dream. That would be a unique twist, don’t you think? Imagine converting clutter into liberation. Now that would be an immeasurable savings!

Either way, make realistic and attainable investments in your present self. Don’t save the old stuff unless the returns are great.

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Junk Junk Go Away

Day 23: (June 14) There are all kinds of junk.  After 33 years of accumulating so much , there comes a time to assess what’s dated and no longer cool to hang on to, and the things you’ve outgrown.  We grow, we age, we change. Through the years and if we have the room , we tend to keep a historical trail of our taste in artwork, decor, and so much more.  But hey, I’m moving and now I HAVE to choose.  My entire home has been re-modeled in the past eight years, with the exception of an upstairs sitting room.  The sleeper sofa in that room looks ugly to me now, and the hanging artwork is much too contemporary for my new decor. My children’s rooms have TVs that work, but they are as old as dinosaurs. Think it’s time purge and let it go.  So, although they really shouldn’t be classified as junk, they might as well be to me. So what do you do with all this stuff?

You call JUNKLUGGERS! They are an amazing and reliable junk removal company based out of Port Chester, N.Y. ( which picks up your junk, recycles and donates your undesirables. To be honest, I was very concerned about how they were going to negotiate this huge sofa out of that small room, and make a very challenging turn down a mahogany banister, and skirting by a large crystal chandelier hanging in my foyer!! I was quite impressed with their professionalism and their genuine respect for my home.  They took great care in protecting my hanging wall-art, my ceilings, and padding of my banister.  Most importantly, I was pleased with the organization of it all.  They had to have a plan, and talk about it prior to the actually moving and lifting.  There were pauses along the way so they could stop, rest, and re grip the couch.  It was a successful team effort, and while they had each other’s back, I had my eyes closed!!!

When it was safely out my front door, I sighed with relief, and enjoyed the continuous exiting of multiple old TVs, area rug, old beach chairs, and other random items from my garage.  They hauled my junk away, and knowing it was going to good places, I was a happy camper. In these regard, letting go wasn’t so hard.  High recommendations for these guys, for sure.  Thank you Asher and Kevin.

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Moving On In A Digital Way

Ceramic Chanukah Menorah

  Day 21: (June 7) There were some particular possessions that I knew no longer served a purpose (especially if they were broken), but yet they still had a sentimental attachment to me.  Like our first Chanukah menorah for our new home, a gift from my parents.  For over 27 years, we commemorated the holiday with the very same menorah.  The colored candle wax had melted and dripped over the ceramic piece year after year, over and over again, and had left its mark in the most beautiful artistic way. Each drool of wax had formed thick layers representing the rich history of our celebrations.  Unfortunately, it did not stand the test of time and burning flames. The candlestick holders had crumbled with age, leaving behind nothing more than a stump of ashes.  This past year, we bought a new one, and of course, I saved the old one for posterity.  There is not ample room for moving with all the things that I still do use, albeit for old broken things, so I took a digital picture and let it go.

So learn from me, when you are deliberating about the stuff you can’t part with, take a pic and let it go.  It works.  I feel the same about the framed jigsaw puzzles that my daughter and I labored over, and though they are physically departing, I will always have them, digitally, that is.

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Kid’s Organizing Their Past

Day 17: (May 22) Today I insisted the kids come out to clean out their respective rooms.  I would never take the liberty to toss their stuff; it’s theirs! 

Interestingly, the kids thought it wasn’t going to be such a big deal to sort, weed, and pack up their rooms, but every time I peered into their room, they were completely entrenched in their personal photo albums and making little progress.  Intermittently, both my son and daughter shouted out for me to come share something they discovered. I laughed to myself and realized that they too needed their own special time to revisit their past memories. But shortly after, (hah-hah) the relentless commando organizer took over and I insisted they speed up the process.  I was very mindful that don’t live home anymore, so each visit had to be a very productive one.  Not surprising, at the end of the day, they only made a small dent and I might add, a very large mess! My son was quick to toss and purge his old clothes and miscellaneous items that he hadn’t missed, so made another big pile for donation.  My daughter, on the other hand, was far more reluctant to part with a favorite tee shirt she’ll never wear.  Of course her photo albums were organized, labeled, and ready to pack.  Like mother, like daughter.

They will be back to finish, begrudgingly.

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Emotional Organizing as a Teachable Moment



Day 13: (May 13) OK, so it’s Mother’s Day, the kid’s came over to obviously celebrate with me today, but what they didn’t know was that they were going to be a key part of a significant, personal and emotional purge.  I insisted they indulge me and sit down beside me to help me through this process.  After all, it was Mother’s Day…and I got to choose how to spend it!   

We were all mindful of the fact that it was my husband’s first Mother’s Day since her passing, and the vibe was a solemn one.  The emotional triggers for the day were already present, and reminiscing my past only exacerbated the sentimentality of the day.  We all gathered on the den couch, and as I read aloud each letter, I realized how grateful I was for that moment.  For me, it’s all about the family, and I was so touched that they could support me in a way that I needed them to.  This was very important to ME, not so much for them. At first they were casual and light-hearted, resisting the gesture to get all sappy,  but as my voice was cracking, and my tears puddled down my cheeks, they soon got that this moment was something more.   

With some of the more tender cards, I could barely read the words inside.  You see, with my family, one simple Hallmark card could never capture or express adequate feelings.  It was never enough. We always felt the need to embellish and fill the inside pages with our own thoughtful words. I might add, we also have a tendency to buy multiple cards for the same person, same celebration. I tossed most of them yesterday and saved only a couple of really special ones. So when I read some of the anniversary and birthday cards my husband wrote years ago, we were all moved by the beautiful sentiments expressed.  The kids were engaged with his words, now privy to his personal promises and dreams, and were happy to see that the ink on the page was not the only thing that persevered.  Their Dad is their mentor, and has always been their rock , but he was also once a young romantic, naive, and vulnerable young man . This was a teachable moment, for sure. My kids could not believe I had saved all these special memories and now I can appreciate their immeasurable value.   

We laughed and cried together, mostly poking fun of my earliest camp letters exposing embarrassing moments of my summer experiences. It was amazing how similar my daughter and I were at the same age.  She laughed with a joyful identification, but then we tossed them. Found a letter, dated 1969, the very day the man walked on the moon, and wasn’t surprised that at 14, I didn’t understand that history was being made!  I merely thought it funny that it happened on a Monday and I wrote that everyone that day renamed the day “Moonsday”!   The last letter I saved to read was one asking my mom about falling in love (i.e. “how do you know”? and “who should say it first”?…I was only 10!) Laughed, read and tossed.  Once we were done, I filled two huge trash bags with nothing but letters, postcards, birthday and anniversary cards.  Purging the  sentimental clutter emits a different kind of grieving. Certainly, this is not “death”, but a loss and sense of finality just the same.  The camp letters were gone forever, but the memories of today will always remain. I was OK now with loading up the recycle bin.   

On the other hand, re-read a letter from my deceased Dad, who wrote me a letter (at age 15) while away on a business trip abroad.  It was a letter about having a positive outlook on life, and convincing me that the world needn’t be a scary place.  I can recall it was a period of adolescence where I was filled with trepidation and self-doubt.  I have read and re-read this letter multiple times throughout the years after his passing, and his guiding words still comfort me.  It is written in his signature handwriting, on air-mail stationery from a London hotel. I shall savor this forever and you can be guaranteed this will never be tossed.  This a keeper, for sure, and I hope to share this with my future grandchildren one day.   

Dad's Letter



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