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This Is My Story

This Is My Story

My paternal family in 1939 (my father is the little boy on the front!)

I dedicate this blog piece to my cousins, with whom I share an unbreakable bond and a history that lives in my recurrent dreams of our weekly gatherings at Grandma’s. This photo journey has deeply impacted them all.

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 invited 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.

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 every person that had the good fortune of appearing in any of his pictures (as in everyone we knew!).

When the time came to move the collected photo albums, the cost of this adventure was over $2,000. But the process of selecting the pictures that best represented our life history together could not be rushed. I knew this, and I paid that money with joy.

For many months, those photo albums occupied all the space in our formal living room that had remained unfurnished since we moved in. There were over 400 photo albums! As time went by, I selected the photos that meant the most to me and created brand-new albums with them.

Some months later, we built our new media room, and we made specific cabinets just for these photo albums. At a rate of about one album a month, I started the process of scanning all those pictures. Albums were originally classified by year. That helped me create digital folders for every year, and I organized all my scanned photos that way, electronically. And yes, I discarded those albums and the prints once these were scanned and safely backed up.

The process was deeply emotional, intense, and satisfying. I saw things I never knew existed in pictures. For the first time, I saw my twin sisters that died shortly after birth. 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.

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 there were specific, cherished moments of my life in those slides. I bought a $30 ““contraption”” that allowed me to stabilize the iPhone and the slides. I also purchased a $29 app (Photomyne) to scan and optimize the slides. The scanning process was labor-intensive but a breeze. The emotional voyage was something else.

So after about ten years (I can’t believe this took me so long!), everything is scanned and organized electronically by year. I enjoyed sharing some of these pictures with very special people from our past along this journey. I have discovered that images grab people’s hearts and make an unforgettable and deeply appreciated gift. So many relationships from the past have resurfaced, and many hearts were touched as a result of this process.

Pictures are often ignored inside our phones or in less than carefully maintained photo albums. 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? It turns out 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?

I Have (Absolutely) Nothing To Wear

I Have (Absolutely) Nothing To Wear

Is this what you proclaim in frustration when you face the closet each the morning? “I have NOTHING to wear” (with a sigh!). We have heard it countless times – we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. That surely leads “wardrobe fatigue” (totally made that up just now). But, yes, it does get boring, doesn’t it?

I bet you did not know that it is entirely possible to look well put together, every day, without repeating an ensemble for at least a year.

I am not talking about the wardrobe capsule this time. I have discussed the concept of the wardrobe capsule in the past. The capsule allows you to organize your closet with better quality, fewer clothing pieces. Capsules make your closet more manageable and enjoyable.

However, whether you have a few pieces in your closet or if your closet is full to the brim, I bet you have never used your clothing collection to its fullest potential.

That is where Stylebook comes in. This is a game changer app that helps you maximize the use of your clothes. And by the way, this app is incredibly fun to use (almost addictive).

Stylebook is your own closet in virtual format, at your fingertips. It starts with cataloging all your clothes, shoes, bags, and accessories, so these can be combined into infinite outfit possibilities.

It is possible to import pictures of clothing both from the web and your own closet. The source does not matter- your clothing pieces will look like they were taken from a magazine because the app shows you how to achieve this with minimal effort.

Once your wardrobe is loaded into the app, it is possible to record all kinds of detail about each individual piece for future reference (fabric composition, color, size, brand, how to launder it, and more).

Stylebook helps you prepare packing lists for trips, it keeps statistics on the styles and colors you have worn the most, and even fills your app calendar with outfits for each day. This feature is really handy when you want to eliminate the chance of repeating outfits at the same gatherings. (Yes, I know!!)

Can you imagine approaching your closet and knowing exactly what you will wear, every day, no matter the season and knowing it will look amazing on you?

The Stylebook app removes the bore of wearing the same things over and over or the same way, removes the stress from the process of getting dressed, and ensures you always look stylish.

The app comes loaded with articles on fashion, closet organization, clothing care tips, image catalog to get you started populating your virtual closet, and even a clipper tool to easily capture and input things you would love to get from your favorite websites.

Once your wardrobe is catalogued in the app, you can seriously get addicted to playing with the possibilities you will find in your closet. However, it takes some time to include all your clothes, shoes, and accessories into the app. I would say this is the hardest part.

Regardless, I think every person that spends time, effort, and money in organizing the closet deserves to get onboard with this app. It is the cherry on the sundae.

Did I mention that the stylebook app works equally well for men and children? Check it out!

If you need help get this going for you, just reach out to me. I will be thrilled to help you with this project.

7 Big Tips for Decluttering

7 Big Tips for Decluttering

Here are some fantastic words of wisdom from Joshua Becker, host of Uncluttered, and founder of Becoming Minimalist.

7 tips for decluttering 

  1. Identify the purpose of a room and get rid of anything that doesn’t serve that purpose. If this sounds a bit stoic, hang in here with me for a second. Think about it. Your bathroom doesn’t need a Peloton. Your kitchen doesn’t need a video game station. Find purpose and balance for every space, or everything will remain confused and out of balance.
  2. Distinguish between decluttering and tidying up. Simply put, these things are not the same. It’s like the difference between rearranging the furniture and renovating a space. Decluttering makes tidying up a thousand times easier.
  3. Simplify walls. It’s easy to point at the messy surfaces, cluttered closets, and dramatically stuffed junk drawers, but one of the quickest ways to create more “breathing room” in a space is to declutter the walls. What’s hanging in your way?
  4. Start with the easier spaces and move on to harder ones. Overwhelm is a true mind-killer. Some people say “eat the frog” and tackle the most excruciating task first. While this may work for some, I find it’s better to get some quick wins, create momentum, and work your way up to the bigger tasks.
  5. Choose one of three options for every object: remove it, relocate it, leave it. Success and speed go hand-in-hand. When it comes to evaluating possessions, it’s time to be decisive and categorize each object and then move on. Rinse and repeat.
  6. Count the “clutter cost.” Think about your money, your energy and the days and hours of your life spent addressing clutter. And the time clutter takes away from what matters most. From this standpoint, who among us can truly “afford” to live a cluttered existence?
  7. Focus on the gains, not the subtractions. Minimizing isn’t just about getting rid of clutter. It’s about adding freedom and control back into your life. Celebrate your wins in the form of new freedom, not in the number of items you eliminate (although it can be pretty cool to keep count!)

Find clarity and enjoy your life. The more energy you put in removing the excess, the easier it will be to find and develop habits to better manage the things you keep.

The Mess The Organizer Made

The Mess The Organizer Made

The biggest obstacle to organizing I see among my clients is the improper allocation of their possessions.

We overbuy for a myriad of reasons. We hoard stuff sometimes. Other times, it’s a matter of not letting go.  Whatever the reason, we have a serious problem with space. We seem to need every inch of space available to store all the things we own.  It’s as if we are afraid of empty space. We have drawers available in a spare room and there we go, filling them with the most unimaginable items, just because the space is there.

Too often clients call me to organize a room in their home and insist there is insufficient storage space in the area they want organized. Upon assessing the project, almost invariably, I realize three things: (1) that the space is being used quite inefficiently, (2) that the space contains many things the client does not want or need any more, and (3) that most of the things stored in the space do not logically belong there.  No wonder there is no space for what needs to go in that area! Once all those things are removed from the space and the contents to be kept there are efficiently and logically organized, people marvel at the amount of space there is.

That is until they turn around and see the mess in their living room….Then they are not that happy.

During the organizing process, those items removed from the space being organized are accumulated somewhere else while we continue focusing on the goal – organizing the space we are called to work on.  But the last thing anyone expects is to end up with a mess in other areas of the home as a result of organizing one room.

Once the goal of organizing the areas included in the project has been achieved, all things removed from the space need to be sorted as well, the client needs to decide what stays or goes and what is the best, logical place for these things.

Here are two pictures from a recent project. Our goal was to organize seven areas of the home, starting with three bedrooms upstairs.  Although the living room was in the plan, this area was not cluttered to start with. Ironically, that was not the case once we were done with the first three rooms!  The “before” picture of the living room looks rather like the “after” and vice versa, right? Not to worry, though. It was perfect in the end. The client was elated.

Before - The Mess The Organizer Made

Before

After - The Mess The Organizer Made

After

It might well be that there is “no space available” where these extra things should go.  In such case, the process must start all over again for those areas that will house these items. It might feel like a never-ending story.  But It does end, and it ends beautifully!

That is why when organizing, it is best to consider the home as a unit, rather than looking at the individual rooms or spaces.  We can estimate the time a project might take, but the shift of things that occur in the process of organizing makes it truly unpredictable. “It will get worse before it gets better”; this might be cliché, but it can’t be truer. As Organizers, we want to delight the client, take care of everything and leave it all looking perfect.  Take a deep breath and play along. The mess the Organizer made will go away.

The True Power of Essential Oils

The True Power of Essential Oils

Clutter is anything and everything that no longer serves a purpose in our life. When we think of clutter, we tend to immediately think about the physical clutter surrounding us. But since our environment is a reflection of ourselves, when someone is surrounded with physical clutter, oftentimes it is because there is a myriad of things unresolved within. Did you know there is a direct relationship between physical clutter and being overweight? Not surprisingly there is also a direct relationship between being overweight and having unresolved inner struggles.

So, what about the clutter in our minds? Those ideas, traumas, and beliefs that do not allow us to move forward?

When it comes to the clutter in our heads, Aromatherapy is not usually what comes to mind when we think of therapy to remove trauma from our past or to remove emotional blockages impeding our progress in life. Aromatherapy is perceived as something to relax and uplift but that would be no match for the kinds of emotional problems that people really struggle with.

The reason Aromatherapy has never been (at least in my mind) a serious therapeutic option is because I never new about the power of PURE essential oils. The chemical constituents of essential oils are very complex – they are tiny hydrocarbon molecules. A single drop of essential oil may contain 40 million trillion molecules (got that number?). The human body has roughly 100 trillion cells. This means that a single drop of essential oil applied to the body, if absorbed completely, potentially puts 40,000 molecules of oil into each and every cell in the body. Very little essential oil is needed to have a big effect on the body.

I recently came across a technique that employs essential oils to help people get rid of their mind clutter, so to speak. It is called the “Aroma Freedom Technique” (AFT for short). This technique was developed in 2016 by Dr. Benjamin Perkus, a Clinical Psychologist with over 20 years of experience. He has studied many of the most progressive techniques for body, mind, and emotional wellness and traveled around the world teaching people how to use Essential Oils and lifestyle strategies to optimize brain function, let go of the past, and enhance happiness and well-being.

The Aroma Freedom Technique is an entirely new approach to aromatherapy that that uses the power of pure essential oils to shift a person’s mental state, mood, and ability to take positive action.  Through this process you learn how to identify what you really want in life, what is blocking you, and how to release those blocks in a matter of minutes.  Then, you learn a daily practice to keep you on track.

Since the sense of smell is the sense most associated with memories, this technique makes use of essential oils to trigger memories associated with experiences we want to eradicate. The memories are brought forward, and new associations and meanings related to the events that created those memories are created. We can’t change a memory, but we can change how we feel about a memory and that determines how we react to it and how it impacts our life from that point forward. So, in practical terms, if we achieve a change of heart about a memory that is blocking our progress, we would have found a way around the blockage to move forward. The memory can no longer hold us back.

The AFT technique was developed to be used only with Young Living Essential Oils, though. When you deeply inhale an essential oil, it needs to be pure and of the highest quality. The brain is a very sensitive organ and it is important to ensure we are not inhaling oils that may have solvents, synthetic constituents or pesticides. Young Living’s Seed to Seal Process ensures that what you are smelling is only the purest oil, properly cultivated, distilled, tested and bottled.

To know what these oils might help you achieve or even discover what’s next for you, contact Beverly Chin-Day of The Essential Families, LLC. She can show you the mystic world of true essential oils!

To experience the AFT technique, contact Dr. Elizabeth Naylor at [email protected]. Dr. Naylor is a doctor in Holistic Nutrition and is a certified AFT practitioner.