How to find joy? Marie Kondo’s books may hold the secret for some, but I’m happy to share one of my secret portals to this magical state of being.
It begins with an afternoon like this: A picture-perfect Sunday with brilliant sunshine, warm air and a cool breeze. Throngs are amassed at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass music festival in Golden Gate Park. An entirely different array of throngs are gathered on heights and near the water to watch the spectacles of Fleet Week.
Me and my trusty laptop are communing beneath the branches of the old Meyer lemon tree, the central anchor of a garden I’m grateful to have out the back door. Bees are buzzing overhead as they make their rounds to intoxicatingly sweet blossoms. Sipping tea and glancing around as I type, I think about the contentedness and joy in sitting right here right now.
For some, a fear of missing out (a.k.a. FOMO) on any of the big annual happenings would be unimaginable. For me, marching to my own inner compass was made far from fear. The choice was made by knowing what would bring me the most joy.
This variety of joy is something I discovered a name for while waiting for breakfast halfway around the world in mid-2017. Flipping through the newspaper a previous cafe patron left behind, I grinned wider than you can imagine when I came upon a cartoon by the Australian artist Michael Leunig*. Allow me to introduce you to FOMO’s sibling, JOMO, the joy of missing out.
*My photo of the artwork used with permission from Leunig Studio.
I’m a few weeks late for the Academy Awards, but scores have been on my mind. Far from an avid movie-goer, I’d be hard pressed to match most pieces of music to a film, but I’ve been pondering a different kind of score.
These are the types of scores that make hardly a sound. They are invisible to the uninitiated. When then their presence is known and understood, their power is mighty. They are of the variety that pass through my fingertips with some degree of regularity. They were introduced to me during my first museum job. They are not some understated form of decoration. They have a purpose. They are a great tidying force in the lives of those who work with papers. They often elicit some version of, “Ah ha!” or “Oh, so that’s what that’s for!” from clients.
Care to be amazed? Let me show you. Continue reading
Welcome, January 2nd! This vital but underrated day comes without the hype of its first out of the gate sibling. It lacks the rush of enthusiasm that often accompanies something shiny and fresh like the intentions, resolutions, and goals – IRGs for short – declared just yesterday. When we woke this morning the IRGs were waiting patiently right where we left them, but maybe they got nudged out of the way while our attention shifted into the post-holiday-return-to-normal routines.
Integrating something new requires effort and making adjustments to what we’re used to. The process can be accompanied by discomfort or exhilaration or any sensation in between, but key to any ounce of momentum is the readiness to try.
As a client wrote to me after a recent session during which we explored next steps for preparing herself to approach a very patient pile of boxes, her mind begins “reeling with thoughts…realizing there is a lot of emotion, ideas, potential…” Sound familiar? The mind can paralyze us or it can allow us to push forward at whatever pace feels right at the moment.
The brief response I sent back to her was returned to me word for word formatted as prose. It was an unexpected gift sent as the result of an unexpected gift. I present it today as a little offering of support to encourage forward momentum with whatever IRGs you’re ready to embrace in this new year.
Reeling is to be expected.
Change begets change.
You are changing and evolving.
What is boxed up can be unboxed,
revisited, retired, reinvigorated, and more.
All that you are inside will never change.
When you choose to lighten your load,
all that’s inside you will simply be lighter and freer
for more and new exciting thoughts and ideas,
and all their friends.
Moving is often an overwhelming process. In addition to all the planning and the temporary inconvenience, packing up and then unfurling belongings in a space one has yet to become acquainted with is always a tad discombobulating. Moving interrupts the groove and flow of daily life to which one’s become accustomed, and recreating logical spatial layouts and rhythm that support day to day needs can take some time and a little assistance.
It was overwhelm that led a couple of friends to reach out and ask if I had time and interest to lend my organizing expertise to help a client of theirs with her new space. When they told me they were members of the client’s neighborhood-integration support team and that the client had recently moved into a tiny house in our Mission District neighborhood, I was intrigued. This was not just any tiny house but a Transitional Sleep and Storage Shelter that is part of a pilot program of Saint Francis Homeless Challenge.
In all things organizing, like many of my colleagues I employ standard long-established practices for their inherent benefits of safety, efficiency, and optimal results. I’ve learned my ways (and what aren’t my ways) by reading the myriad how-to books, from trading tips and tricks with others in conversation and by working together, and through trial and error. Our underlying skills are the same, but the differences are in how we present, use, and experiment with them.
A case in point is something so incredibly mundane: how I label bags. Continue reading
July disappeared in the blink of my eyes. It was a milestone month that marked both my 25th anniversary as a San Franciscan/Californian and the 10th anniversary of my business. Initially I had visions of a celebration where I’d bring clients past and present together to get to know one another and exchange stories. Instead I hemmed and hawed under the radar about taking off a generous bit of time in the middle of the month and joining my husband, Sven, on a work trip to attend the Ecocity World Summit. Coming immediately on the heels of a long-planned vacation to visit family and friends in Europe, indulging in a second overseas excursion in two months seemed a bit over the top.
A handful of pros outweighed the cons rather quickly – among them being the opportunity to explore the world’s most livable city (as it’s been designated since 2011) on a continent neither of us had yet to visit. And then there was the chance to see former Vice President Al Gore present a keynote. Can you see how all of that added up to a good excuse catalyst to jet off to Melbourne, Australia?
The content of this post was written by my friend, Paul Overton, teacher, creator, seeker, writer, Renaissance man, and as you’ll soon read, active liberator of spaces. He shared it on facebook earlier today, and it kind of blew my mind. It has been reproduced here in its entirety with his permission. You are invited follow him at https://www.facebook.com/dudecraft.
It’s five a.m. and I’m sitting on the floor of my apartment with a shirt in each hand, trying to decide whether to keep either of them. I have been doing this for ten minutes, and god knows how long it might go on.
I’m supposed to have a simple rule in place that keeps these things from happening: If I haven’t worn it or used it in the last two months, it goes. But the practical side of downsizing is always more complicated. Continue reading
Me: What’s the hardest thing about tackling certain projects or items on your to-do list?
(If you have a list, I think I know what you’re going to say.)
You: Getting started.
(If you don’t have a list, I think I know what you’re going to say.)
You: I should probably have a list.
(Yup. That’s what I thought.) Continue reading
The topic of this post was nowhere on my running list of things to write about, but sometimes life or the random or unplanned event zips itself to the beginning of the queue, screams for attention, and ends up being shared like this:
I usually experience the before-during-after of home remodels, construction, and the like through the eyes and emotions of my clients. As the calm and practical voice of reason who can see where they are, where they’re going, and how to bring them back to center, I’m called on to help with the preparation, navigation, and resettlement of their spaces and minds.
As a long-time renter, and unlike many homeowners, I had yet to experience the temporary life-interrupting effects of residing in my home while contractors did their thing. Leave it to some defective paint issues in an old Victorian to provide such an opportunity. Continue reading