This Is My Story

This Is My Story

This Is My Story

It has taken me about ten years, but I just finished scanning family photos dating back to 1919! Pictures are my thing. After my parents’ death, I called everyone I knew and held an open house where everyone was free to get whatever they pleased from home. 

My parents were well-known, much-loved, and deeply respected people. There was never a doubt in my mind that their possessions, too, were to be deeply cherished.

There was only one exception to this free-for-all opportunity: nobody could touch a single picture. Those were the only things I valued, wanted, and needed. Photographs were utterly off-limits.

Picture Overload

My father loved documenting everything and everyone in our lives. As a result, there was a room full of photo albums in my parents’ home. Dad always ordered duplicate photos to gift to everyone with the good fortune of appearing in any of his pictures (as in everyone we knew!).

When the time came to move the photo albums, the cost of this adventure was over $2,000. But selecting the pictures to represent our life history best together was impossible to rush. I knew this, and I paid that money with joy.

A Longer Process Than Anticipated

Those photo albums were all over our formal living room for many months, which had remained unfurnished since we moved in. There were over 400 photo albums! 

As time passed, I selected the photos that meant the most to me and created brand-new albums. Then, some months later, we built our new media room and made specific cabinets just for these photo albums. 

I started scanning all those pictures at a rate of about one album a month. Then, I classified albums by year, which helped me create digital folders. Finally, I organized all my scanned photos that way in electronic format. 

And yes, I discarded all those albums and all those prints once these were scanned and safely backed up.

Tears, Joy, Laughter, Memories

The process was deeply emotional, intense, and satisfying. I saw things I’d never seen before. For example, I saw my twin sisters, who died shortly after birth for the first time. I had no idea there was a single picture of them!

Like that, I went through every facet of the emotional spectrum with pictures of relatives and friends, young and old, dead and alive, reviving the many adventures we had as a tribe. And so many stories came back to me while others came alive for the first time. People, parties, music, dance, meetings, joy, food, drinks, and laughter continuously filled my parents’ home.

Oh, Wait, There’s More!

As soon as the prints were all scanned, I remembered my neglected box of slides and movies. The slides numbered over 3,000. I knew of specific, cherished moments of my life in those slides. 

The scanning process was labor-intensive but easy. However, the emotional voyage was something else.

Telling The Story

So, after about ten years (I can’t believe this took me so long!), I finally finished scanning and organizing all those pictures and slides electronically by year. 

I enjoyed sharing some of these pictures with extraordinary people from our past along this journey. I have discovered that images grab people’s hearts and make unforgettable and deeply appreciated gifts. So many relationships from the past resurfaced! This process touched many hearts.

These days, pictures live inside our phones or in less than carefully maintained photo albums. But unfortunately, they do not tell a story that way. Our kids don’t know about our childhood and youthful adventures. It is hard for them to grasp that we were once their age, with insecurities, excitement, drama, romance, and stupidity, just like them! 

However, reconnecting with our past brings all that emotion, color, adventure, and joy to our present. And guess what? Our children are the most excited, cheerful consumers of these stories.

Knowing our family history makes us more resilient as human beings. Pictures are invaluable to the process of recounting our stories. We need only to listen with the heart for a moment.

So that is my story. What’s yours?

What’s Your Story? Organizing Pictures

What’s Your Story? Organizing Pictures

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What’s Your Story?

Generation Y (The Millennials) and Generation Z are the most photographed people in history. Yet, these individuals see their pictures the least in the context of their life history. Why? Because everyone takes millions of images that remain in their iPhones forever without proper backup, rhyme, or theme. Therefore, what’s your story? Let’s discover this by organizing pictures.


Many people struggle with clutter and find loose pictures from years past, gathering dust, disorganized, among many unrelated documents, or stacked in plastic bags in the most unimaginable places.

But knowing our life stories and family history gives us resilience and enhances our self-esteem. Pictures tell our stories. Pictures are important. We need to provide those photographs with the respect and importance they deserve.

Let’s Begin

But how do we reconcile the forgotten past (printed pictures in plastic bags) with the high-speed present (images hidden in our iPhones) to make them come alive and tell our stories? First, we need to organize the pictures!

So, here’s a detailed guide for you to organize all your pictures. Let’s begin.

Photo organizing | Picture organization

1. Gather all print pictures

Find these pictures around the house, office, car, and relative’s homes. You should undergo a thorough home organization process of your home to start (this is how we find most pictures!).

Remember to round up all those old photo albums and scrapbooks. Photo albums are rarely ever complete or coherent. Include all your framed prints displayed and hidden in closets and drawers. Gather them all.

2. Remove prints from frames and photo albums

Remove all those pictures from albums and scrapbooks because those hard copies might be the only ones. You should use a product like Un-Du to ensure album page glue does not ruin the pictures while removing these.

Remove all pictures from their frames. Let these frames go by donating or discarding them. Place all empty frames you wish to keep in a box or bin. This box shall live wherever you keep additional home décor items. A hallway closet is an excellent place to store these things. Removing pictures from frames and merging those pictures with the others allows you to effectively preserve them without the added bulk of these frames that probably do not work for your space any longer and in the context of the story you are telling.

Consider that once your pictures are safe in digital form, you can easily decide what images might enhance your walls or surfaces. Then, you can choose the best sizes to print those pictures and get a similar collection of frames compatible with your home décor and the picture grouping. In the meantime, your goal is to have all your pictures safe in digital form and a chronological context.

Old framed pictures | Picture organizing3. Sort pictures by year

Gather all those loose pictures and classify them by year (and, if possible, month). If it is impossible to pinpoint the year, start with a decade. Then, after establishing the chronological order, sort them by event if this is an important criterion.

4. Store pictures in bags

Divide and store pictures in plastic bags (for the moment, plastic is not suitable for photos in the long term) and place your labeled bags (with the year) in a bin or a box that will ONLY contain pictures grouped in this way.

5. Digitize all prints

Photos are an essential category to digitize. Having all pictures in digital form has the following benefits.

  • To have all of your images in one single format so that they can complete the story
  • To enhance and repair pictures
  • To use the photos in projects such as crafts, photo books, and scrapbooks, imprint them on mugs, blankets, or other gifts.
  • To intentionally select images to display at home or office 
  • To control the size and format to show your enhanced pictures
  • To change your display as often as you like
  • To share all of your images online with everyone 

So, create electronic folders in your computer according to the year, event, family, or person – Whichever makes sense. But these files will be the framework of your project.

To digitize your pictures, you may get the equipment to do this yourself, send your photos to one of the many companies that offer the service, or contact a Professional Organizer to help you. Some organizers belong to the Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO).

6. Evaluate photo editing needs

At this point in the process, you should evaluate if any of your print pictures should undergo a restoration process or other kinds of editing.
For simple editing, you should get one of the many software programs available, such as Adobe Photoshop, Mylio, Forever, Historian, Google Photos, Flickr, and Shutterfly.

However, if your pictures need restoration, you should contact a member of APPO. They will be sure to help with this. But, more importantly, they will offer a white glove, a personal experience you won’t find anywhere else.

7. Other media to digitizeWhat's Your Story? Organizing Pictures

If you find videos, reels, negatives, and slides while searching for all your scattered, loose-print pictures, you also want to digitize them! In this case, you need professional help.

You can also opt to use the services of companies that will convert all that media into digital files and return that along with the original material. Just Google the service you need, and many options will show up.

In my case, I had to scan pictures and slides. I bought a $30 “contraption” (LOL – love that word!) to stabilize the iPhone and slides. I also purchased a $29 app (Photomyne) to scan and optimize these slides. The process was time-consuming but straightforward.

8. Combine them all!

Combine the photos from all digital sources (iPads, iPods, iPhones, Tablets, laptops, and others) with your scanned images (prints scanned). Remember pictures in Shutterfly, iCloud, and other places where you might have shared photos.

9. Back up the mess!

Yes, you want to back up all that mess before organizing it. You do not want to risk losing any of it.

10. Organize the new digital collection

Once all your pictures are in digital format, it is time to prepare digital folders by year and month within each year (or whatever criteria you wish to use) to organize all those pictures.

11. Eliminate duplicates

You might expect to find several copies of the same digital pictures. Some apps that simplify removing duplicates are Duplicate Photos Fixer ProQuick Photo Finder for Windows, and Duplicate Sweeper.

12. Rename photos in a consistent manner

Rename all pictures in your digital file once prints have been scanned and merged with your other digital images. You want to have the images free of duplicates before you rename them. 

Consistency is the name of the game to rename the pictures coherently. Here are some examples of ways to rename the collections: 

  • YYY-MM-DD-Event
  • Event-YYY-MM-DD
  • Surname-Last Name, First Name

13. Backup again

Avoid losing your life story by employing two or more backup systems for the pictures once these are organized. The most common photo backup systems are external hard drives and the Cloud.

Photo Organization by My Space Reclaimed, LLC

14. Discard original prints (wait, what?)

Yes! Once the process is complete, you can discard the prints. When you digitize your print pictures and toss originals, you recover all the space these take. You can let printed photos go by sending some to others appearing in the images, such as friends or family members with an interest in them.

Okay, this is the Organizer speaking. Experts in photo preservation and photo organization will tell you how you can (and should) preserve your print pictures. Their information is extensive. I will limit myself to saying that if you wish to keep your print pictures, consider two things:

  • Your entire collection comprises the print photos (now digital) and the pictures initially in digital format. Preserving the prints will only tell part of the story. The complete story lives in your newly created digital collection.
  • Use special acid-free, lignin-free, archival-safe, and photo-safe boxes to preserve your prints adequately.
  • Should you create photo albums or scrapbooks, use copies of the prints so the originals remain safe in the specialty boxes. Although a better alternative would be to create photo books, you only need the digital photos, and you can include comments and narratives that help tell the story much better.

15. Have a system moving forward

From this point on, have a system designed to quickly, efficiently, and systematically incorporate all new pictures taken (let’s say, every month) into your primary digital collection, adequately labeled, following the rest of the collection’s scheme. Digitize print pictures as soon as possible. For a one-time scanning of an image or two, any average printer these days might get the job done. Avoid gaps in your story!

Happy Storytelling!

The digitizing process can be daunting and the organizing part even more, especially if you lack time. The Association of Personal Photo Organizers can help! In addition, some Professional Organizers specialize in picture organization.


Organizing Mementos: The Warm & Fuzzy

Organizing Mementos: The Warm & Fuzzy

The Warm & Fuzzy Stuff

Mementos, or “warm & fuzzy” stuff, as I call them, are items that evoke fond memories. They are usually those things that can make us laugh or cry happy tears when we see them. And no matter what we call it, we all have some. It is necessary to streamline the collection so it makes sense and tells a story.

No matter how ruthless you become at minimizing and organizing, there will be a few items you can’t let go of, even when you have a digital record of them. You need to touch, smell, and see it in person, or the memory is not there. In some cases, we are not ready to part with some items. Maybe we never will.

I recommend getting a special box for those things. This box should be a beautiful, high-quality box, bin, or basket with a lid or a cover. It will contain those items that are so special to you.

The box should live in a private space like a shelf in your closet, under the bed, or in your home office.

Not Everything Is Warm & Fuzzy Material

You should probably scan or photograph the things that don’t make it to your “Warm & Fuzzy” box to preserve a digital memory. I discuss these processes in my blog “Organizing Kids’ Memories.” When you maintain a digital image, you keep the memory but not the clutter.

However, as said before, when dealing with your mementos, you will find a few items for which a digital record would never do. These are the items we are referring to.

Keep a minimal number of treasures in your warm & fuzzy collection. Otherwise, if everything seems important, then nothing is. The moments and memories in our lives are most important, not the things. So, carefully choose the items that best represent your most significant moments in life.

The collection is manageable when you become discriminatory with your “warm & fuzzy” collection. It should be a sampling of happy memories that make you smile, not an overwhelming heap of stuff you’d rather avoid.


Organizing memorabilia refers to managing mementos you keep for their emotional value, but they are dispersed around your home and stowed away in drawers or closets. We want to gather these together and assign them a good home in your life and heart.

Memorabilia items of high monetary value or related to famous people, like sports players, antiques, and the like, should have a place of honor in your home so they are displayed and enjoyed. However, this type of memorabilia is a different story.

Should you have this type of treasure, you need to find a way to incorporate it into your home’s overall concept. Things like shadow boxes and glass displays come to mind.

There is an infinite number of options to honor your high-priced memorabilia! Just look into Pinterest and knock yourself out!

Having a neutral party help you with organizing your mementos or memorabilia is of great value. Handling these items might be an intense emotional rollercoaster, and you might avoid the issue altogether. 

Also, it might seem like a giant ball of yarn or a group of tangled wire hangers before it gets appropriately organized. It takes some patience and skill to untangle it all.

If this is your case, don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d love to help you. We can laugh and cry together about this, but I promise to make it more fun than you ever imagined.  

Senior Downsizing

Senior Downsizing

Downsizing Can Be Overwhelming

According to the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM), people aged 65 and up will account for 20% of the U.S. population by 2030. 

Families may no longer be the first line of contact in relocating seniors due to various everyday life challenges. On the other hand, downsizing and moving can be emotionally overwhelming and physically demanding for individuals who have not moved in 30, 40, or 50 years. In addition, many older adults who have not relocated from their current homes in over 30 years have many things to sort through. Families need help! A Professional Organizer can be a much-needed resource when relocating the seniors in your life. 

A Professional Organizer Can Help

The following is a list of services that a Professional Organizer might offer in helping their client downsize:

  • Developing an overall move plan
  • Organizing services
  • Move coordination/oversight – before, during, and after the move
  • House de-cluttering services
  • Professional packing
  • Junk removal
  • Shipping heirlooms to family members
  • Arranging for storage services
  • Unpacking and setting up the new home
  • Connecting the client with realtors who specialize in selling homes for seniors
  • Organizing and staging the property to be sold

SeniorAdvisor.com is a helpful resource for making confident decisions about senior care and services for your loved one.

My Space Reclaimed, LLC is your best choice for selecting a Professional Organizer to help you downsize.