We’ve had a tremendously positive response to our “Ask the Expert” feature on The Other Side of Organized blog. In February, John Ryan of The Life Change Network talked about change. In March, Yota Schneider of Open for Success spoke about next steps. This month, I’m excited to introduce you to the vivacious professional organizer, Geralin Thomas to share her wisdom with you about letting go.
Geralin is a wonderful friend and colleague with tremendous energy, style, and grace. My gratitude and thanks goes to her for taking the time to join us.
Geralin Thomas is a professional organizer that trains new professional organizers, provides residential organizing services, and works with hoarding clients. She is founder of Metropolitan Organizing and has been featured on A&E’s Hoarders, The Nate Berkus Show and Today. Geralin is a wife, mother, gardener, painter, documentary lover, and has a passion for fashion. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, blog or website.
Linda: You are a professional organizer helping clients transform their homes from chaos to calm. You also specialize in working with people that hoard. Why is letting go so challenging for some?
Geralin: Some folks are sentimental savers. They might say, “Oh, my son made this macaroni necklace for me when he was in 1st grade; I’ve gotta keep it.” Others are utilitarian savers. They could say, “The reason I hang onto all these old tuna cans is because I plan on welding them together to make a lamp for my dog’s house.” A person with a hoarding disorder has these same exact struggles, but they are much more intense. They over-accumulate and find it extremely difficult to let go of things they’ve acquired.
Linda: If someone is struggling with letting go, what do you suggest?
Geralin: When someone is struggling with letting go, I encourage them to read a blog post I wrote related to this topic, “The 4 Personalities that Save Stuff.” It’s been useful for many of my clients. In addition, I’ve heard from several therapists and social workers that shared it with their clients say it was helpful for them as well.
Linda: What has been your biggest personal challenge around letting go?
Geralin: Oh, I always dread this question because I’m not a sentimental person and our culture seems to believe that women are supposed to be sentimental. For me, letting go isn’t a challenge. I don’t save cards, awards, certificates, photos, trophies – none of that stuff matters to me; it’s just stuff. Same for projects – I’m very aware of how much or little time I have for projects so typically, all those DIY projects look and sound great but at this point in my life, I don’t have time for them so I don’t accumulate a lot of task-related stuff. I’d rather spend my time painting or gardening.
Linda: Do you have a letting go philosophy?
Geralin: I ask someone struggling with clutter if they want to surround themselves with meaningful things. If they answer in the affirmative, I ask, “Is this [thing] beautiful? Useful? Helpful? Does it resonate with who you are right this moment?” Sometimes people hang onto things that represent who they used to be. Examples include “special occasion” serving dishes or “trophy” sizes of clothes.
Linda: Is there anything you’d like to share that I haven’t asked?
Geralin: How about I share one of my challenges? We all have our challenges and mine is packing a suitcase. Let’s just say that if you are stuck on a runway for three hours, you want to sit next to me because I’ll have nuts, chocolates, reading material, manicure supplies, dental floss, tissues, etc.
Warmest thanks, Geralin for taking the time to share your insightful, clear thoughts about letting go. I invite all of you to join Geralin and me as we continue the conversation. What are your thoughts, experiences or questions about letting go?