Hallmarks of an Adult?

November 16, 2016

Together, success is a given

The other morning I was listening to my local news station as I was catching up on my ‘words with friends’ and I was really surprised. I had only been listening half way, concentrating mostly on my strategy in the game I was playing on my phone, when something caught my attention. It was something about millennials taking classes in what the reporter called ‘adulting’. I didn’t know what that meant and still don’t really. The report went on talking about things adults do, for instance; chores around the house, budget their money, pay bills, file papers, and manage their time (although that’s a subject for another day).

The point of the report was that some millennials seem to be so lacking in knowledge in these areas that they feel a need to take classes.

Actually, I do get that because some of my clients are millennials and they haven’t the slightest idea how to go about cleaning their house, organizing their kitchen, putting away their clothes – I could go on but I think you get the idea. These millennials, the ones I work with (and possibly the ones in the news report), have grown up without any sense of what it takes to lead an organized life.

They have successfully completed school and, for the most part, have jobs. They want to live independently – to be adults.

Unfortunately, schools do not teach home/life skills otherwise known as home economics. I never took home economics in school – I think that was phased out even before my generation. So, what happened? Why is it that some of these young adults are not equipped with the basic skills and information that are the hallmarks of being an adult?

I think it’s a combination of things.

Some of these young people did not have the skills modeled for them. Maybe their parents weren’t great at organizing themselves, maybe they outsourced things like bill paying, maybe they didn’t ask the children to help with routine household chores.

Whatever the reason, I’m happy to know they are taking classes to fill in the blanks.

What are the hallmarks of becoming an adult?

For me, it’s taking care of myself and those in my family, taking care of my home (meaning keeping it clean and tidy), being a good friend, doing my job to the best of my ability, paying my bills, and having fun working on my hobbies which are gardening, needlepoint, and dancing.

What does being an adult mean to you?

PS I have written a book which covers all of these subject areas and more. You can learn more about my book on my website: www.dnqsolutions.com

 

 

 

 

Happiness is .. Gardening!

October 28, 2016

Last week I wrote about a workshop I attended at the Institute for Challenging Disorganization’s annual conference in September. The workshop was presented by Ayla Lewis from the Positivity Institute. To review she taught us that happiness is not a constant emotion. Happiness can be a fleeting experience and we should savor those moments of happiness when they occur.

What makes you happy?

There are many things that make me happy. Going for a nice walk with my dogs and perhaps a friend makes me happy. There are a couple of great places near my house where I take my dogs. One is along a river and another is in a nature preserve. I try and walk them in one of these places at least 4 times a week.

Gardening is another thing that makes me happy. I love to see plants that I’ve planted come up in the spring and bloom! I’m in the process of creating a new garden. You see, I moved in August. The new homeowners of my former home inherited a beautiful garden with lots of perennial plants, shrubs that bloom at different times of the year.

There is no garden at my new house. Perhaps I should say there is no garden yet! When I moved in the entire backyard was over grown. There was ivy everywhere – growing along the ground and up into the very tall mature trees. There were some shrubs planted along the fence. The shrubs hadn’t been clipped in quite some time nor had any fallen leaves been cleared. It was a very sad looking space. I was happy that the entire yard was fenced in and thought that it will (maybe a few years down the road) be a lovely place for me and my dogs to enjoy. I saw potential and a HUGE gardening challenge.

The first step was to make it safe for my dogs. The ivy had to go as you never know what may be hiding in the ivy in Georgia – think snakes… not my favorite creature.

I delegated cleaning up the ivy to some part time helpers. It took them several weekends but they managed to clear all the ivy growing along the ground and up into the shrubs. They clipped the ivy growing on the trees. I guess eventually I’ll be able to pull it down. Once the ivy and leaves were removed I discovered some nice stone paths weaving through the backyard. What a great surprise!

These paths helped to define where the different garden areas will go. 

A few weeks ago I placed my planters and a couple of lounge chairs imagining that there will be pretty shrubs and lots of flowering plants eventually for those of us sitting outside to admire. Last week I planted pansies, snapdragons, chrysanthemums, and cyclamen in those pots.

Watching this backyard come to life little bit by little bit brings me lots of happiness. I don’t have time to work in the garden everyday so when I do have some time to dedicate to it I’m as happy as can I can be.

2015 05 summer mailbox flowers

Do you have something in your life that you’re working on that makes you happy? I hope so. It’s a wonderful feeling to spend time on something that fills you with happiness.

Happiness is…?

October 19, 2016

2015 05 beautiful roses

At the end of September I had the privilege of attending a conference run by a group to which I belong: The Institute for Challenging Disorganization. I love this conference. In fact I love it so much that I decided to demonstrate that by chairing the conference in 2017! But I digress.

One of our speakers was a young woman, Ayla Lewis, who spoke to us about the power of positive thinking and happiness. Her presentation was well thought out, fun, and interactive. Ayla had a marvelous way of engaging the audience to teach the concepts she was presenting.

Many of the concepts presented were not new to me and I’m sure not new to many of us there. However; Ayla included scientific information to substantiate these concepts. It was fascinating.  

So, what is happiness? Ayla told us that happiness is a choice. I believe this to be true. I’m one who likes to look at a glass and say that it is half full rather than half empty. I’m always looking for the positive spin and am generally happy. Or should I say content.

We were told that no one is always happy. We have moments of happiness. It’s more important and better for us if we often experience small moments of happiness rather than striving for that one big fleeting moment to be happy. Have you ever heard someone say ‘I’ll be happy after I …’ or perhaps ‘I’ll be truly happy when I’ve …’ I have heard people say things like that and wondered if they ever had those moments of happiness. And how long the happiness lasted.

Ayla advised us to use journaling to record the brief happy moments that occur during the day. She asked us to write down three things daily. If you’re looking for the small things I’m sure any one of us could find way more than three things to write down.

Let me tell you a little story. I attended a wedding last weekend in Connecticut. An adorable three year old little girl was the flower girl.  She made many of us smile as she ran down the aisle in church during the rehearsal. When she got up to the altar she turned around and faced those of us sitting in the pews, sat down, and just started swinging her legs. She looked like she was waiting there to watch the show begin. She was happy in that moment. And those of us watching her chuckled and were happy too!

Ayla encouraged us to take those moments and savor them. This is happiness. It is something that comes and goes. Celebrate – really be happy – live in those moments when they arrive. It’s ok, in fact, natural, not to be happy 24/7. Acknowledge and experience  other emotions. Then welcome the happy moments as they occur.     

I’ll tell you what makes me happy. Working in my garden, successfully completing a series of dance steps with my partner, getting a phone call from one of my children, getting together with a friend, seeing that a client has maintained the organization, making progress on my needlepoint canvas – all these things create moments of happiness for me.

What makes you happy? Write me back and let me know. 

 

 

Do You Ever Feel Like A Hamster?

September 28, 2016

Business loop

I’ve been talking about moving and changing routines the past few blogposts. I was going to say weeks but I know I haven’t been posting every week – life has been getting in the way.  That leads me to the title of my blogpost this week.

Do you ever feel like a hamster? I’m not talking about a hamster who is idly nibbling on a carrot or a piece of apple. I’m talking about a hamster who is stuck in a wheel. No matter how fast or how long the hamster runs he never gets out of the wheel – until he steps jumps off.

Well, that’s how I’m feeling these days. No matter how much I do or what I change I can’t seem to catch up to the point that I feel in control. This might (you know it does) have something to do with the fact that I sometimes (often) take on many challenges at once.

Have you ever felt this way? Like there’s simply too much on your plate?

I want to tell you how I plan to get on top of all that I have going on. Maybe you can apply some of these strategies to your sense of overwhelm.

1.      Make a comprehensive list of all I have going on

a.      Chores

b.      Volunteer responsibilities

c.      Home improvement wants and needs

d.      Business responsibilities

e.      Hobbies

2.      Under each category make notes about the next steps to take – for example

a.      Errands to run

b.      Tasks to complete before the end of the year

3.      Get out my calendar

a.      Prioritize the tasks

b.      Schedule time in my calendar to complete the tasks

4.      Make a daily list of the things I want to accomplish

a.      Refer to may calendar

b.      Take into account appointments

c.      Remember to schedule time to exercise

d.      Also take time to relax

I know I will be able to jump off this hamster wheel I’m on when I take control of all these things that I have going on.

How about you? How will you regain control and jump off the hamster wheel?

Changing Routines – Part Two

September 14, 2016

A couple of weeks ago I told you that I had moved to a new home and that I am working to create new routines. I have to do this because I’m in a new environment. My first challenge was how to safely walk my dogs in the morning.  I walk very early in the morning and the street I now live off of is busy and there are no sidewalks. I solved this dilemma by deciding to put the dogs in my car and drive a couple of miles down the road to a beautiful park that has nice wide sidewalks and street lights.

My next challenge is to workout. I used to live about 10 minutes from a fabulous gym. I worked with a personal trainer for half an hour twice a week. It was a great routine. All the different muscle groups were addressed and I even got some stretching in. I’m about 20 – 25 minutes away from this gym now. That would mean I’d need to allow about an hour of travel time for a half hour workout. That makes no sense to me. I’m working to establish a good workout routine here at home.

I have space in which to exercise. I also now have 3 levels in my home as it’s a townhouse. No need to spend time on a stair master! I’m walking my dogs twice a day instead of once a day but I don’t want you to think that’s real exercise as my dogs like to stop and sniff every few feet. We walk about 1.5 miles at a time but it’s stop and go walking.

Are you asking yourself what’s the problem here? Well, the problem is that I want to get back to a regular workout routine. Left to my own devices I can find lots to do (other than workout).  I work well when I have a schedule and a plan.

I thought back to the exercises that I did with my trainer and wrote down some of the ones that I can do without machinery. Then I made a plan to workout 3 days a week. I figure since I don’t have to travel anywhere I should be able to fit that in.  The three days don’t always have to be the same – my client schedule is not the same every week – as long as I keep to my plan of three days in a calendar week.

I know that there are some yoga studios not too far from where I live now. My next step is to investigate them to see if I can get to a yoga class once a week which will help me with balance and stretching.

I’m beginning this new routine this week. I’ll keep track in my daily calendar the days that I work out and I will check into the local yoga studios. That’s my plan and I’m going to do my best to stick to it! As I know (and I think you know too) creating a new routine is work. It takes consistent and conscious effort to make a change and then continued practice to create the new habit.

Wish me luck! I look forward to reading your comments.

 To Do List So Many Things

Changing Routines

August 31, 2016

Last week I let you all know that I spent the last month or so preparing to move and then moving. I am going to spend the next couple of weeks talking about what else has to change – other than the physical address. Are you scratching your head wondering what I mean by that?

Let me give you a little personal history. I grew up in New York City. My family moved apartments 3 times before our final move to Connecticut when I was 16. That’s the house my mother lived in until she passed away in 2009 and the house that I think of as my home but I only really lived there for 5 years.

The longest I ever lived in any 1 house is 10 years and that’s the house I just moved out of! I had established really great routines and places to keep all of my belongings. After all, I am a Certified Professional Organizer and I walk the walk. I don’t keep things I don’t use, I do periodically tweak my filing system, and I’m careful about the things that I keep so that I don’t end up keeping too much.

It’s been really hard to change how I tackle some tasks and to realize that I just have to change some of my routines and habits. I’m not planning to change them completely, just alter them to fit better in this new home.

Are you wondering why? Why can’t I just do the same things I did in the other house, follow the same routines – just in a different location?

It’s not always that simple. Some things I can definitely keep the same – others have to change. Where I lived before I could walk my dogs every morning and evening safely in the neighborhood. There are wide sidewalks that are well lit with street lights. Where I live now there are only narrow sidewalks, there are very few street lights and the sidewalks do not follow the entire length of the road. But there is a park only a short 2 minute drive from my new house that has well-lit very wide sidewalks. My dogs and I love it there. We can still have our 30 minute morning walk safely. We just hop in the car and away we go.

Over the next few weeks I’ll tell you about other habits or routines that I’m changing.

My big take-away is that sometimes we are so comfortable in our routines and habits that it’s hard to imagine doing what we want to do in any other way. This move shifted me out of my comfort zone and put me in a place of discovery. Everyday I’m tweaking my routines a little at a time so that I can still do what I want to do – just differently. It’s all good! In fact, it’s even better.

Is there a routine or habit that you want to change or have to change because a shift in your circumstance makes change necessary?

Write me back and let me know!

 

 

Moving Again?!

August 24, 2016

Yes, I took some time off writing this blog because I was preparing to move again. I did what I tell all my clients to do. I took a long hard look at my things. I emptied out cupboards and only packed that which I really wanted to take with me. I donated some things, sold some things and put some things out for the trash. And I scheduled 3 appointments with a professional organizer. Yes. Even professional organizers need some guidance and encouragement when tackling difficult tasks!

Then the move happened. I didn’t go far – only about 8 miles or so from where I had been living but it seems light years away. More about that in a moment.

It doesn’t matter how organized or prepared you are – moving is stressful. There is a chaotic feeling about the day of the move. I knew this would happen so I took my dogs, Miles and Josie, to be boarded for a week. I didn’t want them to get even more upset watching the process of dismantling their house. Also, with all the doors open there was a chance that they may get lost!

The truck made its way to my new home. Everything was unloaded. Furniture was placed. And then the boxes. OH, BOY were there ever boxes!

I gave myself a week to unpack, put things away, and hang pictures. That was a very tall order. I did get all the boxes unpacked and everything put away. I am pondering the placement of a few pictures but most of them are hung and look great!

Miles and Josie came home to a house that was full of familiar smells, familiar pieces of furniture in unfamiliar places. They have adjusted well and so have I.

I’m resuming a normal work schedule and feel really settled. I am attending to some volunteer tasks that I had let slide while I was preparing to move.

Yes. I still have things I want to do. I want to tweak the shelving in a few places. I want to paint the rooms. I have HUGE ideas for my garden. These things can wait. I will get to them one project at a time.

The most important thing I want to share with you is that while moving is undeniably stressful there are things you can do to speed up the transition from one home to another.

1.      Be mindful of your decisions of what to take with you when you move

2.      Only bring things you Love, Need, Use

3.      Unpack and put away as quickly as you can

4.      Unpack your bedroom first so you can get a good night’s sleep

5.      Pace yourself

6.      Recycle the packing paper quickly

7.      Cut down and flatten the boxes (my moving company reuses the boxes and came to collect them)

8.      Board your pets – moving is stressful for them too!

I’m so happy to be in my new home! I hope if you move some of these suggestions will help you in your transition to your new home!

Workers Putting Furniture And Boxes In Truck

 

 

Free To Be …

July 6, 2016

In light of recent Independence Day celebrations I just wanted to take this opportunity to let you know how thankful I am to be a citizen of the United States of America.

Yes, I was born here. However; I am very aware of the freedoms that we have as I spent a number of years living overseas in Asia. We are able to travel freely across the continental United States and to Alaska and Hawaii. We can speak our minds and not be worried we might be overheard, misunderstood, and taken off to jail or worse. We can practice our own religions or not – it’s our choice. We can change religions or not. We are free to do as we choose – as long as we are not disrupting the peace or breaking any stated law. We are very lucky.

I do not take these freedoms for granted and am very thankful and appreciative of all those men and women who choose to serve in our armed forces to insure that we in the United States continue to enjoy these freedoms.

I choose to celebrate these freedoms by mindfully acknowledging that if I am awarded these freedoms by living here in the United States of America then all those living here with me are also awarded the same freedoms.

I believe that by acknowledging and celebrating the differences between us, learning about the ways in which we are the same and the ways in which we differ, brings a wealth to each one of us. We can learn about other customs, other ways of dress, different religions, other foods and let our lives be enriched through these discoveries.

These are the things that make our country great. Letting each of us be free to be who we are not forcing anyone of us to follow a certain path just because that’s the way it is – without the freedom to choose.

I am a Christian, a mother to two children, a certified professional organizer, a certified professional organizer in chronic disorganization, an author, a speaker, a gardener, a ballroom dancer, an animal lover, a nature lover, a baker and more. These are some of the things that define me. Things I love about me.

Who are you free to be? IMG_0754

Pursue Your Hobby to Improve Your Work

June 29, 2016

Do you have a hobby or sport that you love? My brother loves to play golf. I know that several times a year he and his wife travel to play golf. They combine their love for golf with their love for travel. It’s a win/win. Even though he works at this sport – perfecting his swing, strength training and more, I’m sure – he finds this a great distraction from his regular work. Playing golf allows my brother to focus on something else. Interestingly, having this other outlet makes his focus at work that much greater.

I love to dance. I’ve always been involved in one way or another with dance.  For the past four years I’ve been studying ballroom dancing. What exactly do I mean by that? Well, I’ve been taking ballroom dance lessons and learning the intricacies of this beautiful art – which is also a sport.

There is so much to learn. When I first started taking lessons I thought; great! I’m mastering these steps. My instructor started off teaching me what I thought I already knew – the waltz. We moved from there to the foxtrot and the tango. Great! And then I learned that there was more to this than just moving my feet correctly. My instructor taught me about the continuity of the dance, the rise and fall, the sway, the timing, the musicality and the list goes on…

I went from a lesson a week, to several lessons, to where we are now – practicing 10 hours a week. That works out to be five 2 hour sessions.  I also decided to start competing at ballroom dance competitions. This is an amazing experience. I get to dress up in beautiful ball gowns and demonstrate that which I’ve learned on a huge dance floor, dancing with other beautiful dancers and being judged by a panel of professional ballroom dance judges.

In fact, I just came back from a competition in Orlando. It was fabulous! My partner (also my instructor) and I competed in three different styles of dance: American Rhythm (Cha-Cha, Rumba, Swing, Bolero, Mambo), American Smooth (Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz), and Standard (Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz, Quickstep).

It was exhilarating and exhausting at the same time.

I’m telling you about this because I believe that participating in something other than what I do professionally allows me to cultivate different sets of skills. I’ve always had a good memory but learning so many different dances and dance styles requires me to focus and memorize dance positions as well as dance steps.

Pursuing this hobby lets me come back to my work refreshed, refocused, and ready to purse my other passion which is creating organizing solutions which work for my clients.

102, Julio Aguirre_M2016_30322What do you do that is different from your work? Do you have a sport you’re passionate about or another hobby? Write me back and let me know.

Can You Ever Really Be Done?

June 15, 2016

 

Close-up embroidery

I want to continue a discussion about getting to the bottom of your ‘to-do’ list. I talked last week about finishing the tasks on your ‘to-do’ list and a strategy I have been using with great success! The strategy is to assign a group of tasks related to a specific topic to a day.

Now, I’m wondering if any of you reading this have ever felt the way I do on occasion. Sometimes I find myself thinking ‘when I get this, this, and this done then I will have time to relax and take care of something I really WANT to do’.

The truth is that there will always be things to do. That’s what life is all about. Some things are chores, some things are fun, some things are hard and some are easy. But there are always, always things to be done whether or not you chose to put them on a list.

How do you fit in the little (or big) things that you want to do that you (I) keep putting off until I get all these other things done? I have decided to schedule time into my weekly plan for the projects that are near and dear to my heart. For me, it’s needlepoint. I have a beautiful needlepoint canvas that I’ve been slowly working on. Actually, I had been thinking about working on it but had been neglecting it as I was so focused on getting other things done!  I had hope to have it finished by the summer. That’s not happening. I had been letting other things take priority over my needlepoint.

Since I started last week grouping my tasks and getting to the bottom of my daily ‘to-do’ list I’ve been able to plan time into my day – every day – for a little needlepoint. I talking about a ½ hour or so. This small change in my routine has made an incredible difference in my ability to feel more in control of all the things (tasks) on my mind.

Is there a small change that you want to make in your routine that will help you feel more in control? Do you have things that you’ve been putting off until everything else is done?