How are self-care and organization connected?
When I first started exploring the idea of self care, I had no idea how narrow my view of it was. I thought that it was something that I needed and wanted to commit to, but how? I thought that manicures, pedicures, massages, haircuts or shopping all fit the bill. That’s what we think of when we think of self-care, but honestly they never quite hit the spot. Yes, perhaps I’d feel good for a few days, but then what? Was that it? Or was there something that I was missing?
After much trial and error, I realized that you can’t take care of yourself until you know who you are. So who are you? Who am I? What do I love? What is my purpose?
I am creative.
I am an introvert.
I am a wife.
I am a mom.
So how do I take care of each of those individual pieces of me?
I cannot sufficiently express my creativity with acrylics and cursive; or with watercolors and brushes. I do however feel like I can express myself through words on a page or screen.
So how do I do that? Can I pump out an insightful and touching blog while I sit at my island with cereal bowls to my left and right, toys everywhere, laundry surrounding me and dishes in the sink? Maybe some can, but I cannot. What I needed was a space that was mine. Just mine. Clean, organized, beautiful and free from the distractions of daily life.
Enter: Jessica. She's owns Brooklyn Home Organizers, a local business that specializes in professional home organization and she is LOVELY. She advertised her services within a local mom group that we're both a part of, and I immediately knew that I needed her in my life.
When I first talked to Jessica on the phone, I knew that she was going to be a joy to work with. I wasn’t wrong. I explained to her the overwhelm that seemed to dominate my life and the disorganization that attributed to it. She listened to me throw some (uninspired) ideas around and then shared her own ideas with warmth, honesty, wisdom and clarity; those qualities didn’t change as we spent hours together and my closet became less disaster and more office.
I had sent her a video of the space that we had decided to tackle and honestly I was worried that she would suggest that we choose another space to organize. Not that she wasn’t up to the task; she certainly was, but it was JUST. THAT. BAD. It was about 12x5 and filled to the brim with CRAP. A broken mirror, boxes upon boxes of outgrown AND yet-to-fit boy’s clothes, Amazon Fresh bags, old rugs, games, halloween costumes, 2 bookshelves and a bajillion books, old curtains and BBM inventory were just a few of the things that were living in this space. However, with insightful simplicity upon arrival she was able to categorize the items that I had, determine where they belonged (whether it was the trash, a thrift store or elsewhere in the apartment) and start emptying the space of all the things that didn’t belong.
We spent a few hours together the first time that she came over, and she was very determined to come up with a few solutions, while not leaving the house a mess when she left (how many of us know that when starting a project like this, it always gets worse before it gets better?). The first 3 hours consisted of taking inventory, seeking out alternative homes for items that were in the closet and measuring. She then left me with a small list of tasks to complete before she returned (including moving a bookshelf, relocating the boys clothes to their own closets and getting rid of the Amazon Fresh bags).
She took care of details. I had a plethora of excuses for not organizing this space and so many of them came down to the tiny details. “I have no idea what to do with that mirror”, “Where am I going to put my BBM apparel?”, “How do I get that rug cleaned?”, “What should I do with *fill in the blank*?”. There were too many questions to be answered, so therefore I wouldn’t even try. Jessica however kept a notebook with her, and would write down any questions that we had and between sessions would come up multiple solutions for me to choose from. For example, I had no idea what to do with the rug. Should I donate it? Have it cleaned? Sell it? This is what she came up with:
She dealt with my (literal and figurative) dirty laundry (of course there were dirty socks and underwear buried under the heap of chaos), but not once did I feel embarrassed or awkward. We were too busy for that, but she also had a way of making me feel comfortable and validated. I was never shamed for hoarding old journals, puzzles with missing pieces or newborn pajamas, but rather she continually reassured me that she could understand my situation from an outsider’s perspective. She could see that there were so many demands for me to meet on the daily that anything above and beyond the usual routine was difficult to face without additional help and accountability. Help and accountability was exactly what I needed and she was the perfect person for the job.
She repurposed items. Another reason that I didn’t want to take the plunge and turn this closet into an office was because I thought I’d have to buy a bunch of new officey things for organization purposes. Yes, that’s an option, but my budget loved the fact that Jessica loves to repurpose. We ended up turning an ottoman into a makeshift couch, wire cubbies into a side table/storage and the bookshelf into an aesthetically pleasing focal point in the room (as opposed to piles and piles of books and papers on shelves). I bought a couple of chalkboard/desk organizers, and a hanging organizer for my BBM inventory but that’s pretty much it.
Jessica just sees things in a way that I cannot. She was the perfect balance of “How do you feel about this item?” and “This thing NEEDS to go”. She had solutions that I had never even considered, yet they were obvious to her because her mind works more systematically than mine. She was able to see the space differently than I did, and that became more and more helpful and apparent as the hours went on. Sometimes all you need is a fresh set of eyes to see the solutions that are right in front of you, but Jessica was so much more than that. I kept saying, “Everyone needs a Jessica in their life” and I continue to stand by that statement.
Maybe you're the kind of person who is already hyper-organized and doesn't have a single junk drawer in your house. If that's you, you're AWESOME (and I kinda envy you). However if you're like me and are in desperate (or not so desperate) need of some organizational wizardry, I cannot suggest Jessica highly enough. Email her at BrooklynHomeOrganizers@gmail.com or find her on Facebook (you'll also find some great tips and tricks over there).
This was more than just organizing a space, it was about a choice to let my actions reflect my heart. I wanted to commit to taking care of myself by doing something that I loved - writing - and creating a space in which to do so was one way to do that. A space to be uninhibited, uninterrupted and free to breathe. A place where NO ONE ELSE'S MESS EXISTED. A place that's quiet, comfy and perfectly me.
What could that look like for you?