Archive for the ‘Garden’ Category

Summer Slow Down

July 12, 2017

 

It’s hot and steamy here in Atlanta. Most afternoons we can count on the clouds filling in and then bursting with rain over one part of the city or another. And, did I mention it’s hot. It’s so hot that doing anything outside in the early afternoon is just out of the question.  Early morning and late afternoon (if it’s not raining) are my times to get out in the garden. My dogs, Miles and Josie, agree. They come outside with me but will typically lie outside the door and go back in as soon as I open the door for them. Just so you know, I always have a bowl of fresh, cool water outside for them!

 

These hot summer days make for a bit of a slower pace. It’s a good time to take long walks in the early morning, relax in the shade or inside during the day, and maybe do some grilling in the evening.  Take this time when the pace of life is a bit slower to enjoy. It’s so easy when the pace is fast to scurry from one thing to the next. Practice being truly present while the pace is not so frenetic. You may find that this is the way you want to be. You may find that really engaging in whatever it is you’re doing brings a greater sense of satisfaction. Perhaps you’ll let this feeling carry over when the pace picks up again in a few weeks.

 

It can also be a good time to reflect on our plans and priorities when the pace picks back up. What will be important when volunteer groups get back together? Do you have a project that you’d like to complete this fall? Are these slower days good days to make some initial lists?

 

Where will you record these ideas and thoughts? Consider putting them down on paper. You know, actually using a pen and putting your thoughts on a page. I love journaling. I take a few minutes every morning to write down my thoughts. Sometimes I talk about what happened the day before, sometimes I write about what I’m hoping to accomplish today. This journal helps me to remember my aspirations. And to celebrate those which have come to fruition. Of course, you can also use your computer to keep a document of these ideas.

 

Here in the South many of the schools start back up in late July. We only have a few more short weeks to relish this relaxed, summer slow down.  I’ll be taking my dogs for long morning walks by the river, weeding and pruning my garden, dancing, and organizing clients.

 

Beautiful nature at morning in misty spring forest with sunHow will you spend this time?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Happy Spring

March 29, 2017

I’m so happy that Spring is here. I think it’s my favorite season followed closely by summer. I love watching the plants as they start this new season. The trees begin to have this haze around them, letting you know that something (leaves, flowers) is waking up inside their branches.

On my morning walks, I’m noticing all the small new things. Grass is greener, tiny leaves are starting to appear on the bushes and azaleas are painting the landscapes with the beautiful pink, white, and rose colored blossoms. I even saw a baby fox the other morning!

You may have read in one of my blogs from 2016 that I moved in August. Well, I left behind a gorgeous garden. I hope the new family is enjoying all the fabulous plants that are probably starting to emerge about now.

My current house had very little in the backyard in the way of plants. There were so many very large trees crowding out the foundation shrubs that had been planted.  And there was ivy everywhere. I do mean everywhere.

Little by little I have been working to transform this yard into a beautiful garden.  I had some trees removed. (Only the ones that were a danger to my house or that were diseased) This let light in. Some of those foundation shrubs are going to bloom! This is very exciting!!

I also hired a company to fix and enlarge the patio.

 The last step was to plant. This happened last week. I love that there are beautiful plants where there was just dirt during most the fall and the winter. I chose plants with different colored foliage which keep their leaves are year: some are light greens, some have a tinge of red on their leaves, some have green and white striped leaves. This provides a wide variety. Most of these plants have blooms but at different times of the year: some are spring bloomers, some are fall bloomers, and some are winter bloomers. This gives me something to look forward to year-round in the garden.

Yesterday, I sat outside in a lounge chair and just enjoyed the view. My dogs were happy laying on the patio in the sun and I was thrilled with my new backyard. I know I’ll be adding some more plants here and there. I’m already thinking about where to add hybrid tea roses! I  just love to dig in the dirt. I also know I’ll be pruning and weeding. Gardens need lots of maintenance and care. But, since I love gardening it will be an easy task for me to schedule the maintenance.

This was a huge project. If I could have snapped my fingers and magically made all the changes overnight I would have. This required planning, breaking the project down into several distinct parts, and scheduling. It also required patience.

 

backyard 03-2017 (1)

Are you working on a HUGE project? Does it have you operating in overwhelm? Talk to me about it. I’d love to help you break it down into manageable parts.

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

Feeling Overwhelmed?

April 27, 2016

It’s not unusual to feel a bit overwhelmed at this time of year. Why? Well, if you have children there are all the end of year school activities. These include awards ceremonies, class parties, prom, graduation ceremonies and parties, athletic competitions and the list goes on. If you don’t have children the groups you belong to may be winding down, finishing up activities.

Then there is the yard. If you live in the South you may be changing out the winter annual plants and replacing them with the spring/summer colorful annuals. If you live in the North you may be guarding the tender perennials that are just starting to grow. In fact, yesterday my sister told me they were expecting snow in Vermont. She was concerned that the plants that were poking their heads out of the ground might be damaged by freezing temperatures!

What to do about this feeling of having so many things to do and a finite amount of time?

First of all, BREATHE!

When I’m feeling this way, overwhelmed, I sometimes forget to take deep breathes. How about you?

Start by getting out your calendar and noting all the due dates.

Then get out a sheet of paper and write down the steps you need to take to bring each event to completion.

Some events may just be a matter of getting there on time. Others may need you to take some actions – like buying or making cookies for a class party or planning a pre-prom parent party!

Once you have broken each of these tasks down into steps get your calendar back out and schedule those steps into your planner. Take into account your regular chores and activities and be sure to allow travel time or set up and clean up time.

I know that this is something I have just done for myself as I was feeling overwhelmed by all the little tasks I have to complete in the next few weeks. I was definitely feeling overwhelmed and under-prepared. Writing everything down and breaking the tasks into their steps helped me. I hope it helps you too.

 

Getting Your Garden Ready

March 16, 2016

Recently I’ve been talking about spring cleaning inside your home. To recap this time of year when the light is newly bright again take the time to open your eyes and really look into all the spaces in your home. Get right into the corners and dark spaces. Clean them. Take the opportunity to look closely at your belongings. Dust them off and put them back or remove them from your home (if you determine they no longer fit your decorating style or lifestyle). Remember that spring lasts a good three months.

Schedule time in your calendar to deep spring clean each area of your home. Tackling your whole home at one time is a daunting and overwhelming task. When you plan it out and break it down into small tasks this project becomes much more manageable.

2015 05 summer mailbox flowers

Now is also the time to take stock of your garden. I should ask, do you like to garden? I do. I love to spend time in my garden! The last few days I’ve been out taking a look at my garden to see which plants are starting to poke their heads out of the earth. I love this time of year when my garden springs back to life! I notice where there are empty spots. Places where plants have not made it through the winter. I’m taking stock and thinking about the different plants I may want to add. While it’s too soon to plant it’s not too soon to make a plan and to decide what you’d like to do with your garden.

My garden is full of shrubs and perennial flowers. Is your garden a flower or vegetable garden? Is it a small cottage garden or do you have lots of space to garden? Are you learning to garden and trying one for the first or second time this year or are you an experienced gardener?

No matter your level of expertise or the size of your garden playing in the earth with plants is a wonderful pastime.

Look at the area in your garden you may want to change. Determine if you’re adding plants in the shade or the sun. If it’s a sunny spot try and calculate how many hours of sun that spot gets. It makes a difference as to which plants you want to consider. Likewise, if it’s a shady spot try and figure out if that area gets any sun at all or if it’s deep dense shade. The amount of sun makes a tremendous difference in the plants that will thrive in a location.

Another thing to consider is the size and color of the plants. Do you need to fill in with some low growing plants in the front of your garden? Maybe you want to add a tall plant in the back to add interest. The possibilities are endless.

Once you have these things figured out you may want to take a trip to your local plant nursery. Generally, the people who work there have great information to share about the plants they carry. They can tell you about how tall and/or bushy a plant will get as well as what you will need to do to promote its continued growth.

Young botanists  in greenhouse

As with everything else this is something that requires a plan. Pull out your calendar and set aside some times to really look at the garden space. It will take several observations at different times of day to figure out the sunlight question. Then schedule time to look at different garden websites to figure out the plants you want to add. Soon enough it will be time to plan the trip to the plant nursery, buy the plants, and plant them!

Garden Maintenance is key but that’s a topic for another time!

Write me back and let me know if gardening is one of your hobbies. If it is what are your plans for this year’s garden?

 

Unfulfilling Tasks

April 29, 2014

I saw this expression last week in an interview between my friend and colleague,Linda Samuels, and Francine Jay. Francine is a minimalist. In fact, she is known as Miss Minimalist. Francine told Linda in the interview that being a minimalist involved not making unnecessary purchases, getting rid of unused belongings, and also eliminating unfulfilling tasks. Doing these three things opens your life up and allows you to live more fully.

I will typically advise my clients to stop making unnecessary purchases. You save lots of money by only buying what you really need and not giving in to impulse shopping. When I’m working with a client to declutter a house, a room, a drawer (you get the idea) we always talk about the items that are consistently used and loved. The belongings that are not either loved or useful are those which we talk about donating or consigning.

The idea of eliminating unfulfilling tasks is brand new to me but it makes really good sense. There are many times when we engage in activities which do not resonate with us. Now, I do want to stress the point that I’m not talking about taking care of basic household chores which we all have to do. Yes, they are tasks and perhaps they do not fill us with joy but they need to be done to maintain order and cleanliness within the home. Having said that, what am I talking about? What are those unfulfilling tasks?

I believe these are the tasks that do not give us any satisfaction at all. Do you ever decide to do something because your friends are engaged in this activity and they think you should join in too? Perhaps this activity is not as exciting for you and, in fact, eats up lots of your time. This, I believe, would be an unfulfilling activity (task). If you eliminate this activity you will have time for the activities that resonate with you. Another thought to consider is out sourcing tasks that you don’t want to do, if that is financially feasible. For instance, if cleaning the house really does not give you any satisfaction at all and you can afford to hire a cleaning service then eliminate cleaning from your task list. Maybe gardening – weeding, clipping, lawn mowing – is not a task you like to do but if you can afford a lawn service then that task is also eliminated.

Think about how you spend your time. What do you do that brings you satisfaction and what are the chores, tasks, activities that you find unfulfilling? Make a list and see what you want to keep on doing and what you may want to eliminate from your schedule. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic so please respond!

Time to Garden!

April 1, 2014

I think Spring has finally arrived in Atlanta. We have had a few days of beautiful sunny weather and the forecast is for more sunny days this week. I’m a sunshine girl so all this bright sunshine makes me really happy! I’m also a gardener. I’m itching to get out and create some changes in my garden. There are a few variety of plants that I’d really like to add to my garden.  I’m also an organizer. I know that first I have to take a good look at what is coming up in my garden. I need to assess which plants can be divided and thinned to make room for a few different plants that I’d like to have. I’ll also take a look at the shrubs to prune back a little to create a little more space. Then I’ll make a plan. I’ll look at my calendar and schedule some time to work on the different aspects of this gardening project. Breaking this project into small, achievable steps so that I have accomplished a task by the end of each planned work session. Once I’ve thinned and pruned to create room for the new plants I’ll go and get them!

How does this relate to organizing? Well, to complete this project I plan the steps I need to take and then schedule them – as I would with any project. I ask what is the vision for this space? How do I want it to look when it is completed? Also, as I would when organizing a room or an area in the house, I first assess the situation, then figure out what fits in the space. Does anything need to be moved to another room or donated out  to make room for the new items being brought into the space? Only after I have these answers and have completed the initial steps can I go shopping for the supplies (in this case, new plants!).
My final step is to plan the maintenance schedule. Yes, I do have a maintenance schedule for my garden. Just like maintaining organization in a house the different areas of the garden must be maintained or they grow out of control. The weeding, clipping and pruning has to happen on a regular basis during the growing season. How do I fit this into my already busy schedule? Well, the daylight lasts longer at this time of year and I pay a little less attention to the inside of my house during these nice weather months and a little more attention to my garden.
Do you have a gardening project in mind? How will you fit it into your schedule? What tasks do you trade off so that you can spend more time outside? Let me know, I’d love to hear back from you.  

A Change in PLans?

June 27, 2013

After a very busy weekend (2 wonderful clients totaling 7 hours of work on Sunday) I had planned for my Monday to be a relaxing day. Everyone needs a day off to unwind, right? This is what my plan looked like: early morning workout followed by some quality time in my garden. My roses, geraniums and petunias are all begging for attention which I was going to give them happily. I was also going to do a little weeding and pruning. After that, I planned to take the July issue of the Oprah magazine and relax in the sunshine in my garden.

I know you can tell by the way I’m writing this that none of that happened. Well, I pulled out of my driveway and the warning low tire pressure alarm came on in my car. So, I pulled back up the driveway and asked my husband to look at the offending tire. Sure enough, it needed air but worse than that the tire had a slash in it and a huge bulge toward the rim. 

I did go and workout. I figured there was nothing I could do about my tire problem at 7:30 in the morning. When I got back I made an appointment to have the tire changed on my car. So, here I sit writing this blog while my car is being fixed. No gardening will happen this morning and it certainly wasn’t relaxing. But, if I turn this around there is a bright side. My car tire didn’t blow as I was driving along the highway. I am often driving on the highway, so I am thankful that didn’t happen! I didn’t have a client this morning that I would have had to reschedule. I brought work with me so that I could make good use of the time I am spending waiting. All things considered it could have been worse.

What do you do when the plans you made can not be carried out? Do you have a back-up plan? Do you consider your options and make the best out of whatever the situation turns out to be?

I find that if I keep myself focused on my priorities things generally speaking have a way of working out. So, I didn’t get to work in my garden this morning and I wasn’t able to read the Oprah magazine. On the bright side, I got some computer work done, the tire didn’t blow on the highway causing me to have a breakdown, my tire will be fixed in a few minutes and I will be on my way! My garden and magazine will be there when I get home.