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Blog: Organize This!
Your home and the simplicity of enough!

Hello Organizing Fans, I'm Vali Heist and my blog is entitled 'Organize This!' This blog will be a script of my internet radio program on www.BoomerGenerationRadio.com and is for those who like to read rather than listen. 'Organize This!' is about providing practical tips and ruminations about your crap! I use the term CRAP affectionately and it's an acronym I made up a long time ago: CRAP is Clutter that Robs Anyone of Pleasure. That's right, if it's not useful or beautiful or brings you joy, it's CRAP.

Today my ruminations are about your home. I read a recent news headline that said: "Worst housing market since the 1980's". The news broadcasts also tell us that more families are renovating their homes instead of buying a new home. As an organizer I encourage families every day to make their house work for them instead of against them, whether that means staying in their current home, upgrading or downsizing. The size of the home doesn't always matter; it is what you do with the space that counts! Buddha said, "Wherever you live is your temple if you treat it like one." Notice he doesn't say how big your house has to be!
Sometimes families make the hard choice to downscale because of economics or job changes, but it doesn't always have to be a negative reason. Many families are making the choice to downsize to live a simpler life; to live only with what they need because they believe that the spiritual freedom and the practical freedom of having a very simple life feels very, very good. Increasingly, decluttering and downsizing are being viewed in a spiritual context, as ways to remove distractions to inner growth.
Sarah Nettleton is an architect and she wrote a book called, The Simple Home, the luxury of enough. She helps homeowners make the most of their homes by what she calls "indulging in the simplicity of enough". Her homeowners share a common belief that having just enough of the right things is a privilege rather than a compromise. She also says that it isn't so much the stuff you put in your house, as the way the house allows you to enjoy the simple pleasures of life and celebrate the luxury of your own version of 'enough'. Many of us have the opposite of enough which is too much. And most of us may not have the best of everything, but is that necessarily the goal?
In addition, Sarah Nettleton talks about the prosperity of needing less; that simple thrift is about more than saving money. The word 'thrift' as derived from Old Norse, is historically tied to the word 'thrive'. By the 14th century Middle English thrift meant the "condition of thriving and prosperity", a far stretch from its austere, 'doing without', and budget-driven connotations of today.
Sarah Susanka is the author of the book the not so big house. She is also an architect and she talks about overstuffed houses and overstuffed lives and making room for what we long to have time for. Our lives involve so many obligations, messages to return, errands to run, and family and friends to squeeze in. She suggests that we slow it down, do with less, and actually be present in what we are doing.
Susanka says to give yourself permission to explore beyond the boundaries of your normal life and your normal surroundings and discover the aspects of your own life that aren't being lived. She points to organizing your home and your life as one of the essential ways to be a lot less stressed in good times and bad. Organization has always brought calm to my life. When bad things happen, or when life is especially stressful, I can keep moving forward because my home is organized and I am better able to deal with uncertainty. Another book she wrote, which I love, is the not so big life. In this book she talks about is being conscious of whatever you are doing, but mostly why you are doing it. It is a great book about living life more abundantly, but without so much stuff.
If you are postponing buying a new home because of the economy, maybe a fresh perspective from a professional could help you rethink how your home could be less stressful by reorganizing, redecorating, or renovating your existing space.
So, for the practical side of my blog here's some suggestions on how to rethink or reorganize your home. First, take time to go through your home room by room and make a list of what isn't working, what bugs you, or what needs to be fixed. Then set priorities on what can be done according to a schedule and a budget. You'll be surprised how a few key changes can make a huge difference in your attitude when you walk into your home.
Second, take another walk through your home for a different purpose: to unclutter. Rethink your belongings and how they enhance your life. Do they bring beauty into your home, make you smile, or invoke a positive feeling? Do you or will you use everything in your home? If you haven't used it in the last two years, donate it to someone who needs it.
Finally, after shedding the extra baggage and no longer seeing thrifty as a four letter (or seven letter) word, you'll be a new you! If you want to move to another home at a later date, you'll be taking the things with you that bring meaning to your life, not dread.
My final question to you is "How can you enjoy the simple abundance of daily life and create a home that's right for you?" Think about that question when you go away on vacation, how little you take along, and what you seem to be able to do without. On your next vacation, make of a list of the things you couldn't or wouldn't want to do without. You will find that the list is shorter than you might think. Don't forget to include the people in your life and the activities that bring quality to your life like going out to dinner with friends. You may begin to realize that you have enough stuff in your home and don't want to invest in more.
I'm convinced that the reason they call the end of vacation 'going back to the grind' is because you have to take care of your stuff again! After my trip to Mexico, I looked at my belongings very differently. If they were high-maintenance things, such as clothes that needed to be dry cleaned, I got rid of them! The cost and the time that dry cleaning took no longer seemed important to me. Seeing how simply folks live in Mexico and how happy they are made me think a lot about how lucky I am and how much simpler my life could be.
Let's close today with a quote from Marcel Proust, French novelist and critic. He says that "The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." If you aren't happy with your current home, maybe you need some new eyes to get a fresh perspective. Think about it! 
Thank you for reading 'Organize This'! Your comments and suggestions are appreciated. Have a great day!  

posted on: 10/24/2009 2:30:00 PM by Vali Heist
category: General Organizing Tips

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by maggymay on 9/4/2011 5:23:14 AM:

I have no trouble with any of this. My partner and i live in an apartment, so space is at a premium. Also, my 2 grown up children visit regularly and my grandkids come to stay sometimes. So I have to be organised. However, my partner leaves a trail everywhere, especially paperwork. He will leave paperwork and aftershave on the kitchen bench. He has a whole cupboard and a small set of drawers to put his paperwork and stuff in but it is never enough. He takes up the wardrobe in the spare room with all his clothes. I've tried everything. Any ideas?

by Vali Heist on 9/4/2011 2:41:06 PM:

Does your partner throw his old papers away? Have you ever sat with him and gone through his clothing? Sometimes it's overwhelming if he doesn't have help. If it's hard for him to work with you (this isn't uncommon) then maybe a professional organizer would help. If he doesn't want to get rid of anything, then that's another problem. www.napo.net is the place to find an organizer in your area. Contact me on my email and let me know what the progress is. [email protected] Good Luck! Vali

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Organize This!

by Vali Heist

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About Vali:

Vali Heist is a Certified Professional Organizer, the owner of The Clutter Crew for homeowners, and a Certified GO System Trainer for businesses. She is the author of "Organize This! Practical Tips, Green Ideas, and Ruminations about your CRAP. CRAP stands for Clutter that Robs Anyone of Pleasure! She writes a monthly column for the Reading Eagle called "Organize This!". Vali's bachelor's degree is in Business Administration from Shippensburg University and her Master's Degree is in Higher Education from Kutztown University. Vali has an extensive background of 24 years in Higher Education including training, administration, project management, writing, and editorial production. Her passion has always been organization and how it relates to the simplification of work and personal life in order to enjoy both to the fullest. Her ultimate goal is to continue finding simple, easy to implement ideas that work in the real world and pass them on to her clients.

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