my quick edit

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Between shopping and pieces given to me I’ve gotten a lot of new clothes this summer. Nothing excessive just more than I normally get in a season so my closet is
pretty full and this weekend I almost had a meltdown. I was getting dressed to go out and had an overwhelming feeling of nothing to wear. I had a conversation with myself and this is how it went:

“OMG, I’m freaking out! I bought all these clothes, I hate them all, and I have nothing to wear!!” Trying to calm myself down I thought to do a quick edit. “My wardrobe is always edited, there’s NOTHING I could possibly get rid of.” It seemed to have made it worse… I went into pro mode and spoke to myself like I would a client; “OK, just for the sake of it, let’s quickly go piece by piece and see if there’s anything in question.” I rolled my eyes (just like my clients do ;O) and pulled 8 things.

Pieces in question are things you don’t wear and don’t know why as opposed to specialty pieces not worn a lot, but are eventually worn and loved. You’re looking for those things that are ‘eh’, things maybe you try to wear but never do. The key is after pulling them to TRY IT ALL ON even if you think you ‘know’ what it looks like.

Here’s what I did:

– Acne Black Dress; purchased a couple of years ago, worn a few times. PROBLEM: the asymmetric hem is a bit trendy now. REALITY: I don’t wear dresses a lot, it’s not silk, and I have 3 other black silk dresses I would wear over this one. DECISION: SELL

– Splendid Oversized T-Shirts, 1 black, 1 grey; purchased a few years ago, both worn a lot but not this year. PROBLEM: they’re a little trendy with the front being slightly shorter than the back. REALITY: after trying them on, they’re actually really nice but they do look worn, the black one has several pulls in it. DECISION: KEEP but for the beach

– Madewell Oversized Sleeveless Silk Shirt; purchased within the last year, worn once or twice. PROBLEM: no obvious problem. REALITY: doesn’t look right at the shoulder and the color is off. DECISION: GAVE to my friend as it looked much better on her…

– DL1961 Blue Jeans; purchased last year, worn once. PROBLEM: prefer black jeans over blue plus I have an over dyed pair and a super light pair that are cooler. REALITY: they’re really comfortable and look great. DECISION: KEEP but for the beach

– Genetic Dark Blue Jeggings; purchased with jeans above, worn a number of times. PROBLEM: they’re a weird color. REALITY: on top of the off-color, they slide down when I wear them (more than usual with skinny pants) which is uncomfortable and annoying. DECISION: DONATE

– White Clutch; had about 10 years, used a lot those first few years. PROBLEM: no obvious problem. REALITY: I’ve tried using it many times but just don’t love it anymore. DECISION: DONATE

– Anya Hindmarch Nude Large Toiletry Bag (used as a clutch); purchased years ago, used many times. PROBLEM: no obvious problem. REALITY: just don’t love it anymore. Thought of using it for travel (it’s actual purpose) but it’s a little heavy on it’s own and large for what I would take with me. DECISION: SELL

Looking at these pieces, they are all nice but the reality is, they just don’t work for me so no second thoughts. By clearing them out (the beach stuff goes into a drawer) it’s easier for me to focus on the pieces I love instead of staring at the pieces I don’t and I’m feeling so much better about my wardrobe now!!

living better with less: think before tossing that

 

 


 


Candle Holders as Drawer Organizer and/or To Organize Your Medicine Cabinet
Opt for beautiful glass candles so you can reuse the glass. The smaller ones are perfect for the medicine cabinet for make-up brushes, q-tips, cotton pads, small tubes of whatever. Even in a drawer or on a desk to hold paperclips, push pins, coins, etc…. Once the candle is fully burned, use a butter knife to scrape out as much of the wax as possible. Then use the scrub side of a sponge with soapy water to get the rest of the wax out.
 
Dry Cleaner Bags to Help Your Bags Keep Their Shape
Your dry cleaner should take back the hangers for reuse, but they won’t take the bags so you can use them to pack; click here to find out how; and use them to help care for your handbags. Tie a bag at the end and stuff as many bags as needed inside, then tie it off at the other end (so you only have 1 thing to pull out when you use your bag instead of a flurry of loose bags), and stuff in your handbag to help keep its shape.
 
Paper Towel Rolls To Keep Your Drawer Organizer in Place
Paper towel rolls (and/or from a lint roller) keep your drawer organizer in place. Sometimes there’s a inch or two left over. Shove the rolls in the back of the drawer to help keep the tray from sliding every time you open the drawer. You may have to fold up and stick one roll inside the other to make it stiff. In the pic above from my kitchen I have several stuffed back there.
 
Catalogs / Magazines as Boot Shapers
If you don’t want to drop $10+ per pair for boot shapers, just roll up one (or a couple) magazines or catalogs that you would have otherwise recycled I hope, and place them in your boots. voilà!
 

spring cleaning fever

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It’s spring time here in NYC, the perfect time to give your space a good deep clean (whether you’re in NYC or not!). Pull the curtains, open the windows, and get some fresh air and light into your home. The goal is to clear out what isn’t adding to your life, fix what needs to be fixed, move some furniture around and give your space a fresh new perspective.

 
Just pick one spot to start and move around your space dealing only with the things you know are going to be donated, sold, trashed, recycled, etc. The idea is to get things out of the home quickly so you can see and feel the change in the space immediately.
 
DO
  • focus on your immediate decisions.
  • start with the things that are out (in plain site) before digging into closets, cabinets, and drawers.
  • do one area/room/closet/cabinet at a time.
  • clean as you go: vacuum out drawers, wipe down shelves, hinges and tops of doors.
  • clean out the insides of closets completely including baseboards, inside door frame, shelves, and clothes rods.
DON’T
  • get caught up in decision making (a common mistake!), if you’re unsure about whether to keep something, just keep it and move on. you can always readdress it at the end.
  • hold onto things for donation until you’re ‘done’. it’s better to make several trips over time than to have too much sitting around clogging the space.
  • move onto another area until you’re finished with the area you started.
NOTE: Spring cleaning is yearly maintenance, so if you haven’t gone through my process of completely going through your space, click here and get to work!
 

why are you holding on? case #3

 
Case #3:
Misc reasons people hold onto things they aren’t actually using/enjoying. Shocker alert: sometimes it’s a GOOD reason to keep something, I don’t believe in getting rid of things just for the sake of it. I believe in people having an honest dialogue with themselves to make the right decision for them. Helping people (re-)learn to listen to their gut, figuring out how they really want to live so they can surround themselves with the things that will allow them to do it.
 
EXAMPLES:
>It needs to be fixed…
How long has it been waiting to be repaired and how has your life been without it. How much will it be to repair it? If it’s clothes to be tailored, try it on to make sure you still like it.
 
>It’s a good thing to have…
Sure, it’s good to have extra candles and a small battery operated radio in case of an emergency or blackout, but do you need tons of specialty camping gear when you haven’t been camping in 10 years and don’t see yourself doing it again anytime soon?
 
>I’m saving it for when I live in a bigger space…
Ok, if you realistically think you’ll live in a bigger place, you’ll actually use it, and it’s worth the cost of storing then moving it. But if there’s something you’d like to do someday, why not now? Like have a tea party? Or learn to cook? I encourage people to live the life they want NOW!
 
>It’s an extra…
This is definitely where I push the ‘how much would it cost to replace over how much it costs you to store it’. Keeping some cheap old toaster on the off chance your current toaster is going to break isn’t a great reason, especially if you live in a small apt and you have to store it under your bed. If something is expensive or a hard to get item, then it may be worth holding onto.
 
>So and so gave it to me (or it was a gift)…

A. Stop it from coming in: Ask that person (nicely) that gives you things that you feel ‘I guess I have to keep it’ not to give you gifts anymore (did this with my mom, it’s now a funny joke in my family). Or ask instead of gifts, you enjoy time together. For kids, start a savings acct and ask people to give to your child’s future instead of cluttering up their present.
B. Keeping the right stuff: People keep things for ‘show’ in case they see the person again, I say use your own judgement. If you’ll never see the person again and don’t have a ton of emotional attachment to it, then pass it on to someone who will love it by donating, selling or giving it to someone you know.
 
>It’s from my (family member)…
If you have something from a family member that you don’t really love but feel guilty getting rid of, think about if there’s another family member that would like it. If not, do you really think that the person who passed this down to you would be happy knowing that it’s become burden to you? If you don’t have the space, can’t repurpose it in any creative way, then it’s time to seriously think about passing it along to someone else.
 

why are you holding on? case #2 continued

 
Case #2:

Wife, mother of two young girls. Lives in a good size apt, has done a nice job of setting the place up but can improve some areas. The main issue is being more conscious about what comes in and getting a routine system for getting things out.
 
This post will show you some of her real responses for how/why she has a hard time editing and getting things out of the home.
 
“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”, a brilliant observation by Voltaire. Perfectionism is something that I see quite often as a reason so many people don’t get things done. Check out The Happiness Project‘s great post on this topic.
 
EXAMPLES:
>I don’t like the idea of going though my children’s things without them, but when I try to do it with them, they get upset and don’t want to let go of much.
Be age-appropriate when editing; under two years of age is generally fine to do without them, but use your discretion. Kids are hyper-observant of what you’re thinking and feeling more than what you’re saying. You’ve admitted you’re uneasy about editing your own things so they sense that and mirror your emotions. Once you become comfortable with the idea of letting things go as part of life, they will become more comfortable with it. Editing should be a routine thing done at the same time every year, a good time is right before you know there are going to be a lot of new things coming in; around the holidays or birthdays.
 
I highly encourage parents to involve their kids in the editing process (at an appropriate age), and explain to them why you’re doing it and where the things will eventually go. Most kids want to help and ‘do good’. If you explain to them that the toys or clothes will go to another child who needs it, they may be more motivated to do it. Use your judgement; if you think your child is too young or sensitive about hearing about children in need, than phrase it in a way you’re comfortable.
 
>My husband and I aren’t completely sure we’re not going to have another child. Should we save the clothes and toys our kids have outgrown in case we do? Same question for maternity clothes.
Good question! Same answer for both: edit out of things you don’t like or didn’t use and keep a manageable amount of things in case you need them for the future. Whatever you keep should be cleaned and stored in a way that will be easy for you to find when/if the time comes to use it (dividing by age is the best way). When/if you decide you won’t have more children, donate them to a good cause.
 
>My lifestyle has changed after having two kids and I don’t spend as much money on clothes as I used to. I have a hard time editing the clothes I have from my life ‘before’ because even though I don’t really wear them anymore, I feel like if I get rid of the nice cashmere sweater I don’t really wear now, I can’t afford to buy a new one when I may want it again.
I don’t advocate getting rid of things for the sake of it, or if you haven’t worn/used it in X amount of time. If you have clothes that are too nice to wear around young kids but you still like, they still fit you and your image, keep but archive them. Clean and pack them up nicely for when you can wear them in the future. You should pack them away so they aren’t taking up valuable space in your drawers or closet which should be for your everyday things. Keep a few pieces out for date nights, special events, or when you have adult time (if you don’t have any adult time, maybe it’s time to get some). Edit out anything you don’t like and wouldn’t wear now if you could. You could also downgrade certain pieces; wear things in a more casual way than you did before so you can enjoy them now.
 
>I have a hard time getting rid of things I’ve spent a lot of money on even if I honestly have no use for it now.
Don’t let guilt force you to keep something that isn’t adding to your life in some way. Nothing in life is a mistake if you learn from it. We’ve all spent too much on something, it happens, oh well! Try not to do it again. Try to sell it if you think you may get a decent amount for it. Just remember when trying to sell things, think about how much time and effort it will take to do so and how much you will get in return. Sometimes it’s better just to get the write off when you donate it.
 
>I get stopped with certain things that I know I want to get rid of. I really want to make sure they go to good home rather than just donating it or selling it on craigslist.
You are not responsible for finding the perfect home for something you’re already given a life to. You are responsible to make a good home and take the best care of your family and to yourself, not to your things! You bought your dining table on craigslist, did you know the person who sold it to you? Didn’t you give it a good home? If it were one or two items you were talking about, I would say ok, but you have bags of things that need to go out that you KNOW you’re just bringing to a local church and you barely have time to do that. It’s these little tasks that you think are easy enough but they add up to where you are now, with piles of things that never get done…
 

why are you holding on? case #2

 

Case #2:

Wife, mother of two young girls. Lives in a good size apt, has done a nice job of setting the place up but can improve some areas. The main issue is being more conscious about what comes in and getting a routine system for getting things out.
 
This post will show you some of her real responses for how/why excessive things come into the home and how she can stop it. Tomorrow’s post will focus on why she has a hard time editing.
 
The main thing to remember is that things should be seen as tools that help you live the life you want to live. That your things should add to life not take over it! Be conscious about what you take in and you’ll have less to deal with at home. It’s hard at first, but it’s just a habit to get into; think before buying/taking…
 
EXAMPLES:
>I love the look of joy on my child’s face when I buy her a little something when we’re out. I really just want to make them happy. Though I will admit when we get home it usually ends up at the bottom of some drawer never to be seen again…
Relationships are more important than material things. No object is more important than the time and love you share with your family. Children need love, affection, and attention not more stuff.
 
>So many people offer me their outgrown clothes and toys for my kids. I pretty much take everything, cause I feel bad saying no, but after going though it, if and when I finally get to it that is, there’s usually only a few things that I would actually keep.
You’re allowed to say no when someone offers you something, whether it’s a friend with kid’s clothes, or free gift with purchase at the make-up counter. You pay for things in more ways than money; you pay in time, energy, and space. And I don’t know anyone (especially a mother of two living in nyc) who has extra time, energy, or space! Yes sometimes it’s nice to take things these kinds of ‘gifts’, but at this point you shouldn’t take anything until you’ve gone through the bags and bags you’ve already have.
 
>Toys are always coming in, especially at birthday time, help!?
For children who are old enough, get them involved in non-profit organizations or charity. Instead of asking for gifts you can take donations, and instead of giving gift bags you make a small donation. You can still get your child a gift and give it to them before, during, or after the party. Tell people not to bring gifts for kids 1-2 years. The child doesn’t know the difference anyway. I know parents who wrap up toys a child hasn’t really played with so they ‘at least have something to open’, which while I don’t love the idea of the whole ‘something to open’ part, it’s a pretty good idea.
 

why are you holding on? case #1

 
So much of what I do is figuring out why clients hold onto things. This week, I’m going to address some of the common reasons and the method to work past them. If you haven’t noticed, I believe in keeping things simple, but don’t focus on quick fixes. I believe in going a little deeper but also not constantly reinventing the wheel for every situation in life.
 
3 STEPS TO LETTING GO:
– Identify the origin of the behavior, feeling, or tendency so you can release ownership of it.
– Understand you don’t have the power to stop the thoughts in your head but you do have the power to control your response to them.
– Anticipate the feelings and thoughts that stop you from doing something you want to do so you can prepare your response. Write them down and keep them accesible so you have them on hand when you need them.
 
3 MAIN THINGS TO REMEMBER:
– Figure out what’s most important to you in life, and how you want to live in your space.
– The things in your life should be seen as tools to help you live the life you want to live.
– You don’t have to (nor should you) entertain every thought that comes into your head.
 
CASE #1
Recent college grad who moved across the country with a tendency to hoard. We identified that her hoarding tendencies were passed down from her parents. She felt much better knowing that it’s usually passed on to children.
 
After much discussion, she nows has a good idea of how she wants to dress, feel and function in her space. She knows this may change over time but for now, she has a direction that is suited for her. Acknowledging that she tends to hold onto things, and knowing that doing so is not helping her to live the way she wants to live, is the most powerful tool she has against falling trap to her old ways.
 

q + a: childhood memorabilia

Jess asks: “Hi! I am 25, and my mom recently gave me all of my childhood papers, artwork, etc. I have ruthlessly been going through it, but I get stumped up. It would just sit in a tub of storage if I keep it, but I don’t want to erase all of my childhood memories. My husband also has several totes of his childhood/high school memorabilia. Do you have any suggestions? I also struggle with what to do with the doll crib and high chair (larger items) that were mine. Keep for a little girl someday? Or will she be into her own things? They are in good condition. Thanks for any advise on this!”

First, don’t let anyone else put THEIR feelings of how much and what personal memorabilia YOU should keep (and vice versa, a common mistake with spouses). Some people can’t bear to part with anything from their past, while others like me keep very little. You need to figure out where you fit in the spectrum.
 
I don’t believe that by editing down your memorabilia all your childhood memories magically disappear. It’s fun to see pictures we drew and report cards from grade school, but is it necessary to keep ALL of them? Keep the ones that get more of an emotional response then others. As far as the big stuff, think of this way; is it something you can properly store (keeping it clean and functioning) for the amount of time you’d need to in order to pass on to someone that may not love it as much as you did? If you do decide to let it go, take a few pictures of it beforehand so you can see it again when you like. And you must feel good about passing along something to someone NOW who will make just as many happy memories with it. Getting rid of something from your past is not disrespecting the past, sometimes it’s a matter of clearing some room in your home and mind for new memories and new energy to come in.
 
Deciding to keep or discard something is much easier when you let go of the idea that you HAVE to get rid of anything. Take that pressure off yourself for now. People lose momentum when editing when they stop making decisions; go through piece by piece saying definitely keep, definitely toss (or donate, sell, recycle) and when you get to something you’re unsure of simply put in a ‘maybe pile’, move on until all immediate decisions are done and THEN tackle the leftover items.
 
One more note. Not all of your memorabilia has to be boxed up and put away. For the things you don’t necessarily want out for everyone to see, why not hang on the inside of a closet door, back of a cabinet, or in the bathroom?
 
I hope this helps!
 

q + a: organizing the past

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(image courtesy of the artist chantal powell’s flickr page. be sure to check out her website and her blog)

g.c. asks
I’m curious to know your opinion on the matter of keeping old love letters and letters from people who are no longer a part of your life. My bag includes letters from a former friend (who betrayed me), as well as former beaus. Aside from two of the beaus with whom I’ve stayed distant friends, I have no contact with the others. Part of me wants to keep them all, as they are a log of my past loves. However, I wonder what purpose that serves? I could justify keeping everything because ‘it’s just one piece of paper or one letter’, but times that by 100 — and you’ve got quite a stack of paper!”
 
My philosophy is to only take and keep things in your home that you love, use, and that add to your life in some way. There are so many things we can’t control, things that make us feel bad, but we can control what we surround ourselves with in our home.
 
I suggest keeping only the things that bring back positive memories, or elicit some kind of a positive response. After time, memories become detached from certain physical things and contact with them doesn’t bring up any memories – those things should be easy to let go of. As for the those that bring up bad memories I personally don’t see any reason to keep them. Forgive, let go and move on.
 
I will add (as with anything else in your home), you may not be ready to let go of it and maybe that’s ok. Keep it until you are, unless you believe that by holding onto it you are holding onto the pain which is affecting you in some way. Then this is a good time to go through the process of letting go. Some people burn old letters and things as a way to cleanse themselves or whatever… I just recycle them!