Archive for the ‘appreciation’ Category

Thank You?

December 28, 2016

Thank youMonday this week was National Thank You Note Writing Day. I never knew there was such a thing. That’s a great idea! To sit down the day after Christmas and write notes to thank friends or family for their gifts. Traditionally in my family we make a list of people to thank as we open their gifts and we plan to have our notes written by the middle of January.

My mother was a stickler for thank you notes. She was very particular and (when I was a child) she read my notes before they were mailed to make sure they were good enough. My mother had me writing notes for all sorts of gifts – not just Christmas gifts.

She taught me to write a note after spending a weekend with a friend. I didn’t actually write my friend, I wrote a note to my friend’s parents to thank them for hosting me for the weekend. This is a tradition I still enjoy. I write my friends and relatives as soon as I return from a trip. If you’re wondering why I do this, the reason is simple. I write to let my friends know that I appreciate their friendship and the time spent with them.

My mother also taught me to write a thank you note to express my thanks when someone has gone out of their way to do something for me.  It can be something like helping me with a project or including me in a family event.

Handwritten thank you notes are very powerful tools. First of all, they indicate to the recipient that you have taken the time to put pen to paper, written your thoughts, purchased a stamp, and made sure the envelope actually was mailed.

You may choose to write a personal thank you note to someone who has taken the time to interview you for a job. An email thank you is important because the person receives it right away. A handwritten thank you note is also a good idea as it shows the interviewer that you are sincere about your interest in the job.

There is a simple formula to use when writing a thank you note.

  1. Thank the person for the gift – be sure to say exactly what the gift is.
  2. Indicate how you might use the gift – if it is something to use.
    1. NOTE: if you don’t like the gift just thank the person for their thoughtfulness and skip from step 1 to step 3
  3. Tell the person something about yourself – what you are doing for your job, about your family or your home – maybe you are working on a home improvement project.
  4. Close your note by wishing the person well and repeating your thanks.

While it’s great to write thank you notes following this wonderful season of gift giving and receiving. I suggest that it’s important to write thank you notes whenever you feel like expressing your gratitude.

Write me back and tell me about your experience writing thank you notes.

 

 

 

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. 

 

 

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

Reward Yourself

January 27, 2016

Over the last several weeks I’ve been talking to you about creating change in your habits. The way to go about making a lasting change and the benefits of taking small steps toward your stated goal.

This week I’m talking about the benefits of rewards. I don’t know about you but I do my best work when there is a reward to work for. Now, the reward is not always an object.

I like to treat myself: to an extra hour of reading time

woman reading

a mani/pedi

Closeup photo of a female feet with beautiful red pedicure

a massage

professional masseur doing massage of female back

or a movie complete with popcorn!

Popcorn and a remote control for the TV background

Sometimes my reward is the joy I receive from knowing that I’ve completed a task to the best of my ability (notice I did not say perfectly).

How about you? What sorts of rewards will work for you? Think about that. When you’re trying your best to create a new habit or a change in your routine and you successfully stick to your plan for the day consider rewarding yourself at the end of the day. If there’s no time for a reward today then schedule time in your calendar for that reward sometime very soon.

Make a list of the rewards you like best so that when it’s time to reward yourself you can treat yourself to something wonderful! Try to make your reward an experience.

I believe the more you can reward yourself for a job well done the more success you will have!

Now, what did you do this year?

December 30, 2015

 

Happy New Year

As the new year is dawning and 2015 is drawing to a close I want to take a little time to reflect back on this past year. I do this to remind myself of the many things I accomplished. Sometimes it’s easier to remember the things that have gone wrong, to focus on the things left undone.

I think back through the year month by month. I keep a paper calendar so this is a fairly easy task. I can look at the weeks and see the appointments I kept, the places I went and the projects I worked on.

I believe if you keep an electronic calendar you can set it to keep your schedule for the year. I hope this is true because it’s so helpful to be able to look back.

As I look back on the year that was I can celebrate the things that went well and learn from the things that did not go as well as I would have liked.

I encourage you to take some time over the next couple of days to look back on this year. Write down your accomplishments. Think about the things that you would like to have done better.

I have decided to make a change in one of my habits. I realize upon reflection that I tend to put off the housekeeping side of my business. I fit in all those little tasks in and around other things. I don’t think my business really suffers but I know that I don’t give it the attention it requires to grow. I’m going to change this in 2016 and dedicate a few hours every Monday morning to these business tasks.

Is there something you would like to change in 2016? Write me back and let me know.

Remember to celebrate your accomplishments from 2015 and have a fun, safe and Happy New Year!

 

Now What? The Perfect Time?

November 18, 2015
if not now,when?

if not now when concept on blackboard

Is there such a thing as “the perfect time”? Sometimes we look for the perfect time to do .. you can fill in the blank with whatever project is looming on your horizon. Often we think something like this project will take a long time. Then we go on to say to ourselves ‘there’s no point in starting it now because I don’t have enough time’.
I tell clients to take just five minutes to get that project underway. My clients are always amazed by how much they can get done in the five to ten minutes that they have available. This jump starts the project and gets it off the ground.
I was looking for ‘the perfect time’ to make a phone call to a friend. For several months (that’s right, I said months!) I put on my calendar that I wanted to call my friend Jeanne. It never happened – there was never the perfect time to make that call. I should have picked up the phone even if just to say ‘I’m thinking about you’
Last week, sadly, I lost her to cancer. Jeanne and I became friends from the moment we met. We met at the pool at our apartment complex in Singapore. She was there with her 2 children and I was there with mine. I remember it was an overcast day and we were the only two families out by the pool. So, naturally, we started talking. Jeanne and her children had only arrived in Singapore a few weeks earlier. I had been there a few months so I could share some tips about the American School. It turned out that her son, Matt, and my son, Alex, shared the exact same birthday! They were not going to be in the same class but they would see each other at school. Jeanne’s daughter, Meghan, and my other son, Andy, would be in the same class. Another coincidence was that Jeanne and Andy shared the same birthday. Needless to say, she and I were inseparable. We played tennis, went exploring, and participated in volunteer activities together.
Since we moved back from Singapore we were in sporadic touch. Jeanne lived in the Midwest and I was in the Northeast and then in Atlanta. I didn’t plan visits to see my friend. We phoned and then were in touch on Facebook. I loved seeing her ‘likes’ on my DNQ Solutions Facebook page.
I knew Jeanne had been diagnosed with cancer but she made light of it. This was typical of Jeanne – always looking at the positive and talking of things other than herself. As I said before,I made a note to call her in my planner once a week for several months. Sadly, that phone call never happened. I thought to myself that I wanted to be able to sit down and have one of our long heart-to-heart talks for at least 30 minutes. I never set aside that time. I was looking for that ‘perfect time’.
I have learned a painful lesson. I recall the saying ‘there’s no time like the present’. I will now reach out to my friends even if only to leave a message saying I’m thinking about you when the spirit moves me. I want my friends to know that I value their friendship.
If you have a friend that you haven’t been in touch with for a while take a few minutes and reach out to them with a text, a phone call, or a letter – even if it’s not ‘the perfect time’!

Under Pressure?

October 10, 2014

I know I’ve taken a break from writing this blog for sometime now. Usually, I’m all about not taking on too much – knowing that when I say ‘yes’ to someone to do something I not only know that I will do that task but that the task will take time away from something else. Well, I have really been over scheduled and over-committed the past few months and the pressure will not be off until the middle of November. That’s still almost a month more of living in a time-sensitive pressure cooker.

Are you wondering what tasks, projects, and chores I’ve taken on or maybe you’re wondering why I did this to myself? Let me answer the last part of the question first.

I took on all these projects because each one appealed to me on some level. Have you ever taken on a project because you are friends with the person asking you for help and you didn’t want to let them down? Well, I have and I did recently. I agreed to do the other projects because I believed (and still do) that they are very worthwhile. So there you have it. I over-committed myself without any regard to the fact that all these projects would be due within several weeks of each other. If they had been more spaced out during the year I would not be in this state of over-whelm.

The tasks or projects I took on are widely varied. One is a volunteer project for the community in which I live. It’s a great project, I like the people involved and wanted to join forces with them. I just didn’t count on the project being quite as time consuming as it is. Two of the other projects I’m currently working on will have an impact on my role as a certified professional organizer. I’m excited about being involved in these projects because I love being a professional organizer and these projects (if I do a great job – which I plan to do) will reflect my passion for organizing and the clients I serve. My final project is to get the word out that my book: Now What? A Simple Organizing Guide is now published! YIPPEE It is available for purchase on my website and will be up on Amazon within a few weeks. I know I should have been marketing this book for months now – building a buzz – but I was working on all these other projects and simply didn’t do it. So, now, marketing my book is another project.

I truly understand what it feels like to be under a lot of pressure with time demands hitting you right and left. Coming to the end of this season of over-whelm for myself I can fully appreciate just how heavy the pressure can get. Having said that the next time someone asks me to volunteer for a project I plan to ask what the deadline is, how much time they anticipate it will cost me (double whatever they tell me) and then I will check my calendar before jumping at the bait!

How about you? Are you under pressure? Can you relate? Please let me know! Also, if you have any marketing tips for my book I’d love to have them!

Manners?

June 10, 2014

I was reading the June 2014 issue of Real Simple magazine this week. I love this magazine and always read it cover to cover. I find their articles informative, fun and often thought provoking. I was very interested in their article on manners. Actually, I was intrigued that they started out by talking about the word “Etiquette”. I have a book coming out later this summer and the final chapter in my book is titled “Etiquette and You: Why it Matters”.

Does the word “etiquette” fill you with fear? If you have read the article in Real Simple, you know that it’s not at all scary – or shouldn’t be. Etiquette is more about following socially acceptable conventions. For instance, remembering to thank someone when they’ve given you a gift, or let you stay at their home for the weekend, or even granted you an interview. Yes, I am talking about a handwritten pen and paper note sent via the United States Postal Service with a stamp. I have more about exactly how to write a really good personal and business thank you note in my book.

Other points the article raised were about when to use or not to use a cell phone. I was so happy to read that the authors of the article and I agree that the dinner table is no place for a cell phone. Conversation is a wonderful thing! Enjoy the time you’re spending with the person or people and don’t even think about checking your phone. Any message (phone or text) will be waiting for you when the meal is over. Be truly present at the table, turn your phone off and put it away. I believe you’ll find that you relax better and enjoy the food and camaraderie more when you are unplugged.

The article also talks about the place setting. Have you ever been asked or have you ever asked the question – Is this my water? I put an illustration of a place setting in my book because I get asked that question often. I know which is my water and you should, too. In case you’re wondering it is the glass on the right-hand side of the place setting, above your knife.

There’s lots more to this article, just as I cover lots more in my chapter. This is a good start. Are you curious? Next time you see newsstand carrying Real Simple magazine pick one up. You won’t be disappointed!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on etiquette. What does this word mean to you?

Maintenance is Key!

February 5, 2014

Are you thinking about getting your home really organized? Do you like the thought that once all your belongings have a place to be you will be able to find what you need when you want it? As a professional organizer I think these are beautiful concepts. The caveat here is that once everything is organized you must maintain the system.

Think about this another way. If you have a car you need to make sure it has gas in the tank. Every now and then the car will need to have the oil changed or undergo a routine servicing so that the car continues to run smoothly. The car will also need to be washed so that you can see clearly out the windshield – front and back. If there is trash in the car – like food wrappers, empty water bottles, or soda cans they can be thrown out so the car can be vacuumed. It’s also good to remove the trash so you have room for people and other things, like groceries, that you really want to carry in your car.

Your home is much the same. You can’t expect to organize once and be done. Schedule a few minutes every morning to make sure the bed is made, dirty clothes in the hamper, and the dishes washed and put away or rinsed and put in the dishwasher. Plan these chores into your morning routine so that when you return home from work you don’t have these chores to tackle before you can begin preparing for dinner.

Schedule a few minutes in the evening to sort the mail. Take the time to at least separate out the mail to be recycled or shredded from the mail that needs attention – like bills or invitations.

As you go from room to room in your house if you see a few things out of place put them where they belong. You’ll thank yourself later. A few things are easy to attend to. That will only take you a short time. It’s when things are left out of place that they tend to multiply. Then it will take you much longer to take care of the out of place items. Don’t indulge yourself by saying “I’ll do it later”. In my experience, later never comes.

Plan time into your day everyday to clean and maintain one room of your home. Just as it’s impossible to organize once and be done it’s impossible to clean once and expect your furniture to remain dust free. It doesn’t take long to dust and vacuum a room when it’s done regularly. As you’re cleaning the furniture put aside anything that has lingered in the room and doesn’t belong there. When you’re finished cleaning take the time to put those out of place items where they belong.

Rotate through the rooms in your house taking care of one a day. Doing this regularly means that nothing is actually that dusty or dirty and it won’t take you very long. This way you don’t have to dedicate an entire day to cleaning your house. It’s much more rewarding to spend your day off doing something you want to do – maybe something fun with a friend or family, maybe something indulgent like a spa treatment, maybe some gardening… the possibilities are endless.

If you have a spouse or partner and/or children involve them in the maintenance routine. Teach them to put their belongings away. You can make a game out of it. Put on some good music and let everyone know that now is the time to gather things up if they are out of place and put them away. Let each person have a part in keeping your home clean and tidy. Doing this you accomplish several things. You teach your children how to pick up and put away and you teach them to care for their home in a responsible manner.

Remember the key to having a clean and well organized home is maintenance. Create the system and then work it.