Fitting My Move Into One Small U-haul.

Moving is a great opportunity to shed and start fresh. It’s also one of the most stressful things a human can endeavor. It’s physical, mental, emotional and psychological. Not to mention costly. I decided in my recent move that everything, including my furniture, was going to fit into one small U-haul truck. And- that I’m not going to move again- ever. Well, for at least a year.

Then began a major purge. My, how we accumulate – and I barely shop! I’m like a magnet; people love to give me stuff. And I enjoy going to clothing swaps, where I sometimes leave with more than what I came with. Hence, 365 days later, I’ve got more than I actually need. I’m not hiring movers- I’m doing this myself, with a little help from my friends, which ultimately helps me be more relentless when deciding what to take with me.

Little by little, category by category, I begin to shed. It is the year of the snake after all, very appropriate. I start with books; they are the heaviest. I have not touched the giant dictionary or thesaurus so they are the first to go. I scan my library and sense that only 10% are ones that I actually love, reference, or really will read one day. The rest were cute gifts or ambitious illusions. There’s only so much time in a day and I don’t read that much anymore. Plus there’s always the library or kindle.

I move onto clothes. If I haven’t worn it in the last year, am I really going to wear it now? My “project” bin of clothes to repair (and never did) is the first to go. Then, I think about my style today. Given it changes daily; I don’t dress as hippie as I used to. Honoring that shift, I let go of the long skirts and dresses that no longer represent me. I release the clothes too that aren’t as comfortable or don’t fit as well. And if I own two similar pieces, I only keep the favorite one. I do the same with jewelry and accessories.

When it comes time for the kitchen, I keep in mind that I’m going from living solo to living with housemates. There will already be dishes and such there. So again, I keep my favorites and most valuable pieces and let the rest go. I figure once I move into the kitchen I can release even more as well, depending on what they have. As for furniture, I keep only my heirloom secretary desk that was grandma’s, a couple lamps and favorites; and decided it was time for a new bed and desk. I’m only moving into a bedroom, not a whole house.

I practice these methods throughout my home with all categories over the next few weeks, sometimes taking 10 minutes, other times when I have it, a few hours. Then I have a yard sale and make about $100, selling mostly small items. I post for sale on Craigslist a handful of the most valuable things (computer, music gear) that didn’t sell and place the remains on the curb for the taking.

By the time I’m done purging, I’ve reduced my belongings by at least half! We get everything into the U-haul. Well, if I’m being completely honest, I take a couple more trips with my car. Upon move in, I decide I to get rid of at least 25% more, acknowledging that accumulation and practicing the revolving door strategy (see previous blog) is a lifelong process. As things come in, things must go out. Unless I have a mansion or want to open a museum. And even then!

This type of moving strategy, which touches upon aspects of minimalism, invites us to remain open to releasing fear, doubt, shame or judgement. It asks that we get very honest with ourselves, while still having room to dream. It means having an abundant mindset, trusting that as things go, things will return. It helps to remember that we each enter this world free of stuff- and leave the same way. It’s only while we’re here on earth that we attach to objects and find our identity in them. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. But if it becomes unmanageable- or it’s time to move- you might think thrice! Take it from me. The moving queen.


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Summertime Organizing Workshop: Saturday, 6/29/13

We’ve planned some great content for this Saturday’s workshop and are excited to educate and inspire you on so many levels.


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Year-Round Spring Cleaning Tip: The Revolving Door Strategy

Waiting for Spring to clean?  Something you can do year-round is to keep a donation bin in your home. Then, anytime you come across an item that no longer serves you, drop it inside.

It may be a t-shirt you realize has a hole, stain, isn’t your current size or style; a chipped dish; or an old phone and it’s accessories- anything you no longer use or love.

You can place these bins anywhere, such as the closet or garage.

The next step is to develop the habit of emptying it regularly. It’s important to do what works best for you. Some wait until it’s full, then drop it off somewhere convenient, like Goodwill, Out of the Closet, or a favorite charity or shelter. Or if you have a lot of stuff, you can arrange for a Salvation Army pick up. Some work best scheduling it in their calendar seasonally or annually.

You might even browse through it and re-gift certain items to those you know personally. Perhaps your neighbor is pregnant and you’re ready to release your old maternity clothes. Some like to have friends and guests look through their bin when they visit, taking what they like.

Another neat option is to re-purpose items into something useful or beautiful. Stained or shrunken pants may become cutoff shorts or patches. Chipped dishes may transform neatly into mosaic pieces to decorate a potted plant. Many find it helpful to keep a project bin for things they’re going to fix or make new again. Be selective and realistic, perhaps limiting yourself to one bin or area, or establishing deadlines (i.e., donate this if I haven’t touched it by June 2013).

The point is- you’re putting the Revolving Door Strategy into practice- meaning that as things come into the home, things are also leaving at the same pace. It’s an opportunity to be aware of everything you own and how you’re putting it to good use: creative ways of being neat.

Blogs Coming Soon…

Where to Donate?

All About Recycling

Creative Ways to Re-purpose

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What the Magazines are Saying!

I stopped by a grocery store recently to grab a few things but didn’t plan on also leaving with a couple magazines. However, while in line, bright green, capital letters, appearing like a subtitle to Family Circle, shouted, “GET ORGANIZED! 20 Things to Toss Today.” Next thing you know, Oprah is grabbing my attention with a colorful, spinning flower design inhabiting the words, “So Much Stuff, So Little Space. The Key to Creating a Clutter-Free Zone.” Well. It must be a popular subject!

Being a professional organizer, passionate about the topic, I decided to investigate. What do they suggest and is there anything new or helpful for myself- or my clients?

When I got home, I made some collard greens and put chicken in the oven to bake and boy- is it summer. Note to self: wait until winter to use the oven. Then I got to reading.

Family Circle

In Family Circle, Valerie Rains article, The Clutter Cure: 20 Simple Ways to Say Good Riddance to Unwanted Stuff  lists ten areas in the home, offering two suggestions for things to eliminate from each one. Essentially, the pattern I noticed ~ any items that are broken, expired, or out of date. For example, old magazines (you can visit to unsubscribe), VHS tapes (do you have a VCR?), toys that are no longer age appropriate; and expired paint, coupons, or beauty products.


Family Circle

And alas, her Chuck-It Checklist, which many organizers would agree with:

  • Is the item broken or damaged beyond repair?
  • Has more than a year gone by since this was last used or worn?
  • Do I own something similar that I like better?
  • Are we saving this because it might come in handy one day?


When you go to Family Circle’s website, there’s even a permanent Organization section under the Home tab.  Appearing in this month’s Halloween issue: The 5-minute Clutter Cure, which offers suggestions for what you can accomplish when you only have a few minutes, such as establishing online bill pay. Well that surely takes me more than 5 minutes, more like 65, unless they mean setting up one payee at a time, as the bills come in. Baby steps are better than no steps.


Onto unexpected magazine purchase number two. The Oprah Magazine article of course features Peter Walsh, her go-to expert on the topic of organizing. I actually got to meet him recently at the grand opening of El Segundo’s Container Store. Check me out, on the left!

Members of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), Los Angeles Chapter, with organizing guru, Peter Walsh.


In my opinion, Oprah has helped mainstream the organizing profession, mainly using Peter Walsh’s expertise.  In Meredith Bryan’s article, Make Over My Weird Spaces! she highlights how Walsh is able to help two women tackle awkward spaces in their home, ones that don’t seem to serve any purpose. He transforms an extra hall closet into an office desk area; a small corner space into a child’s reading nook; and an under the stairs closet into a functional storage access area (as seen below, respectively).

For all three, he explains the challenge, possibilities, process, and result. He finds it crucial to develop very specific purposes for each area and commit to it. For example, the desk (left) was designated for sorting mail, working on her laptop, and filing paperwork. Walsh calls it “the nerve center- the place where you can run the business of your home.” Then you must make the area inviting by adding your own style and taste to the mix.

I must say for the reading nook (middle), the shelf towering over the toddlers head has me a tad nervous, so be sure to drill them safely into the wall in case of earthquakes or natural disasters. Maximizing vertical space is wonderful, when done safely.

What I like about the under the stairs closet (right) is a technique I often use in my organizing sessions with clients.  “When the volume of one category exceeds the allotted space, Sohal must make choices, trashing the excess art supplies or storing them elsewhere.” I suggest donating or recycling though, whenever possible, helping keep trash out of our landfills, something Goodwill is strongly dedicated to. With that said, I suggest practicing the Revolving Door strategy, in which you designate a bin for giveaways and make a permanent home for it in a closet or garage. As things come in, place things that no longer serve you well, in the bin to go out. More on this soon in a future blog.

Although Oprah’s website doesn’t have its own permanent Organization section, there is a Home & Garden tab which includes articles and tidbits.  You can also expect an annual  “De-Clutter Your Life” banner across the cover. Enjoy!


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Swap Party

It’s amazing when a group of women come together and swap clothes, shoes, and accessories. Today I walked away with such cool finds! Items I couldn’t believe someone was giving up.

Sometimes we tire of something, or may think, “this isn’t really me anymore”. Perhaps it doesn’t fit well or isn’t our color. We must let it go. Anything that no longer serves us only zaps our energy and messes with our flow.  Let someone else enjoy it, a friend perhaps. Or donate! Everyone knows there are people in the world in need of basic necessities, such as clothes. Let’s redistribute the wealth a little shall we? Sharing is caring! It’s good for everyone, including you.

I have room for these awesome finds now because I cleared out my closet and made room, taking those items to the swap. Then seeing the faces of people so excited to begin enjoying what I no longer wear is priceless!

If you can’t organize your own clothing swap party (though it’s super easy and fun!) one thing I suggest is to always have a bag or bin designated for give away. Then give it a home; you can keep it in a closet or the garage, near an exit is best. You may have friends look through it when they visit. Or discover a charity that speaks to you; Goodwill and Salvation Army pick up donations as well.

Swap before you Shop!

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Clutter Talk Is Everywhere

The other day I sat down at a coffee shop. A guy and gal next to me and began talking about how clean and organized they are- compared to their messy roommates! The girl explained how she needs surface space clear in order to think clearly, whereas her roommates clutter up tables and counters with stuff throughout the week. She couldn’t understand it and her friend was nodding, in total agreement. I wanted to shout, “I’m an organizer! That’s what I help people with. So funny I sat next to your conversation!”

Then a couple of nights ago, I learned that according to numerology, I’m the destroyer- but in a good way- helping people get rid of what they don’t need. Letting go and living fully. Sounds about right. Which brings me to the example of my little succulent plant. I was gone for two months and when I returned, he was looking sad and lifeless- I thought he was done for. Then I removed the dead leaves and viola! Within days he was looking better and now, he’s a vibrant little guy reaching for the sky. I can’t help but think of those dead leaves as clutter. They were taking energy away from the rest of him, which is exactly what stuff does when we don’t use or appreciate it. It’s similar to not working a muscle, it fades.

Aside from the physical clutter, sometimes the people in our lives can be negative, toxic or energy zappers. Even our very own thoughts, beliefs, or habits can behave like clutter whenever they’re not serving us. This includes self doubt, sabotage or being stuck in the past without forgiving and moving forward. Anything that isn’t being utilized or loved becomes clutter. Let it go. All it takes is willingness and practice.  And little by little, your life will change. You’ll feel light, like you’re being lifted toward the sky.

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My First Blog

Welcome to the Creatively Neat blog!

I’m a fan of blogs. Mostly about music, art, events; politics and psychology. And of course, organizing!  Speaking of, I dedicate this new blog series to the world of organizing- and in it, will review books, articles and products, as well as inspirational quotes, tips and resources, along with my experiences. The possibilities are endless.

Organizing happens to be my area of expertise, especially when it comes to de-cluttering. I believe we’re all put here with special talents; ones we can share and inspire in others.

I’ve recently been focused on getting my own self organized at home by starting at the entrance way and working my way around the house. I know it’s what I need to do in order to better focus, have clarity and continue moving forward in life. Both as a professional and as an artist. I also want to be an example to those I’m inspiring. I’m being reminded of the various challenges and solutions that arise in the process of letting go and making space, for all that life has to offer.. Being busy can make inhabiting a clutter-free zone exceptionally challenging, but- it is possible. I call it: Homes and habits. We create homes for everything and then develop habits of intentionally placing them there, as soon as we walk in the door. More of that in a future blog.

When my physical surfaces and surroundings are clear; and when I understand what I own and can find it easily, I feel better able to relax and have more energy throughout the day. It’s about making and taking the time to organize and maintain it- because we believe we’re worth it. It’s about having a clean, beautiful place to call home so that we may feel comfortable, confident- with ourselves and others. Neat!


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