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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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In The Other Side of Organized, Linda Samuels, CPO-CD® will encourage you to get organized enough to reduce the stress of life’s details and make time to embrace your passions. Already, thousands of clients and readers have found help and inspiration in her advice, personal reflections on change and connection, and vision of what can be accomplished when you find that sweet spot between chaos and perfection.

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« How to Better Experience the Season of Gratitude | What Treasures Will Be Discovered When You Are Organizing? »

How to Joyfully Embrace the Human Side of Organizing

Let’s face it. For some of us, there is nothing joyful about sorting, editing or organizing. Even for those of us that love to organize (guilty as charged,) there can be certain types of projects that can be challenging. As shared in some recent posts, I’ve been organizing our family home of 56+ years and preparing it for sale. It’s been an emotional journey mixed with challenging and joy-filled moments. On the positive side, connecting with the human side of organizing has helped me to more easily navigate the waters. I’ve done this by honoring the treasures instead of focusing on loss or pain. Along the way I made some wonderful discoveries, which I’ll share with you.

Last week in the post, What Treasures Will Be Discovered When You Are Organizing?, I wrote about the rich history of love that was part of my family. Today I’ll share a few more things I found from my childhood. I’m grateful that my Mom chose to keep these because they provided me with insight into where I came from and what was present early on.

This week’s shares are about humor, art and love. Finding them supported me as I sorted, edited, and let go. Their discovery, gave me some much needed laughter, smiles and warm feelings. By pausing to reflect, the treasures allowed me to embrace the joy experienced from the wonderfully human side of organizing.


Empathy and Humor

I wrote this pink-papered note to my Mom when I was eight or nine years old. “Ludwick” short for Ludwig Von Beethoven was one of our cats. It must have been bedtime and my Mom wanted me to turn out my lights. However, I had a different plan, as expressed in this note. Reading it 50 years later made me laugh, especially that last sentence, which reads almost like a punch line.

”Tonight is one of those nights.”

I liked seeing how I advocated for the cat and myself at this young age using an interesting mix of empathy and clarity.




Creativity and Art

What a surprise to find this drawing I made when I was eight! While I don’t remember creating this exact image, I do remember making these types of crayon and India ink scratchboards. I loved making them. On white cardboard, I colored crayons over the surface. Then I brushed black India ink to cover up the crayons. With a pencil or end of paper clip, I scratched out designs in the ink, allowing the colored crayon and white cardboard to show through. There is nothing special about the drawing. However, it brings back that happy feeling and intense focus I had while creating something. My parents gave me ample opportunity to make art, both informally and formally. To this day I love creating whether it’s through writing, baking, taking photos, setting the table, or making something with my hands.



Family and Love

Sitting on the couch in our family’s living room, there I am on grandmother’s lap surrounded by all four grandparents and my Mom. I’m sure that at age five, I didn’t fully appreciate the importance of having the love and attention of my family. Several years after this photo was taken, both of my grandfathers passed away. I am so grateful that my two grandmothers, Nana Stell and Nana Roe, lived into my young adulthood and that I have strong memories of my grandfathers. Discovering this photo, which I had never before seen, brought back warm feelings of unconditional love that my grandparents gave to me.


When you’ve organized, have you encountered that human side of organizing? I’d love to hear your stories or thoughts. Come join the conversation!






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Reader Comments (12)

This is one of the reasons I love working with senior clients... the stories! It seems that most of an object's value is in its story. Antique dealers have always known this, hence their desire to understand an object's provenance. How much fun is it to learn about the history of Mother's pink china or see an old photo of New York City? After all, things are inanimate. It is the connection between items and life that stirs our hearts:) Loved seeing these!

November 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

@Seana- I know exactly what you mean. Honestly, though, it's not just elders that have the great stories. All of my clients have stories about life, about the stuff, about the process of organizing and letting go.I love hearing the stories and understanding the importance of different things in their lives. What you said is so beautiful..." it is the connection between items and life that stirs our hearts." WOW!!!

November 13, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

After my mom passed away, I discovered that she'd kept a number of letters (probably all of them) I'd written her over the years. I was delighted to read them and I'm really sorry I never thought to keep the ones she sent me (I'm assuming she did) because it would be even more wonderful to read those.

November 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

@Janet- What a beautiful thing to share...and what a gift! I'm sure that reading and seeing those letters just reinforced for you how much you were loved and how much those letters meant to your mom. Beautiful.

November 13, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Recently, I've been participating in a closed facebook group belonging to individuals challenged by the hoarding disorder. I encourage their progress and offer tiny bits of advice when asked. The other day someone posted a picture of their mother's cookbook with the question should this be tossed after all it's old-fashioned. I suggested they keep the cookbook. It was small but more than that it was full of notations in the recipes. How wonderful to be able to cook from this cookbook once the kitchen was cleared!

November 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Quintana

@Diane- That sounds like an amazing group that you belong too. They are lucky to have you as part of their community to share advice as appropriate. What a beautiful way of thinking about the cookbook as a motivator to use for when the kitchen gets cleared. I came across many cookbooks when clearing my parents' house. Some the family wanted and others were donated to a local library. But I also found a file box of recipes that belonged to my grandmother. No one in the family wanted it, but I had a hard time letting go, so I kept putting it off until the other day when I looked through it. Many of the recipes were cut out of magazines. But some were handwritten by my grandmother and aunt. So I sifted through and ended up keeping about a half dozen which I will test out one of these days. I'm looking forward to that.

November 13, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

What a beautiful post, Linda. You're so lucky to have the chance to find all these treasures, and I'm so happy you're focusing the love you received from your family.
That picture of you and your grandparents and mother is priceless.

November 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHelena Alkhas

Linda, having had to move from my home filled with memories galore, I can relate to both the joys and heartache of revisiting our pasts. Interesting that with some sentimental items, I was able to feel the memory in that moment, recall and embrace it (with laughter or tears), but then it go.

Other heirlooms were too hard to let go and will remain as sustainble memories to retell the stories to my grandchildren. Handwritten letters from my Dad are priceless and will always take the journey with me.

Letting go is a different process for each of us and when we are asked to do this of ourselves, I find we can be more empathetic with our client's struggles. We all have such unique "heart barometers" that guage our decisions, don't we?

November 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNancy Borg

It’s wonderful when we can find surprises in the clutter piles. Thanks for sharing.

November 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina Quairoli

@Helena- Thank you so much. It's been quite the journey of discovery...and affirming in many ways. This photo is particularly unusual because I'm the youngest of three kids. So having just me in the shot with my grandparents, yet without my siblings present too, is surprising. What a treasured moment being surrounded in this way.

November 13, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Nancy- You've been through this yourself, so you know. I understand exactly what you mean about some items being enjoyed at the moment and then easily let go of, where others...not so much. The treasures ARE the treasures. How beautiful that you have handwritten letters from your Dad. I can imagine how they support you in so many ways as you travel along your path. I love your phrase "heart barometers," as our decision gauge. Fabulous!

November 13, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Sabrina- Yes! Lots and lots of surprises. Happy to share.

November 13, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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