My Back Story

IMG_20150516_172814290_HDR (2)  I didn’t always used to be organized. For years, I suffered under the weight of food addiction. In that time, the only thing that mattered was that I put whatever I wanted ahead of what I needed. What I wanted was food. What I needed was discipline and clarity.

I went for the food.

In 2010, at 45 years old and weighing over 240 lbs, I got sick and tired of being sick and tired. I finally wanted the help I so desperately needed.

In the early days of my recovery from food addiction, I re-discovered my desire for organization. I uncovered the skills that I’d forgotten I’d had due to years of compulsive overeating. The skill of learning to have just enough food for my body led me to look at my surroundings and ask “What does “just enough stuff” look like?”

I can tell you what it DIDN’T look like. It didn’t look like the piles of laundry I kept on the bedroom floor. It didn’t look like the mounds of mail I never opened. It also didn’t look like the amount of clothes I had in my closet, of varying sizes.

I got tired of being overwhelmed by my stuff, so I took action. I applied the same principle to my belongings as I did to my food: get rid of the excess.

Today

God has always been a factor in my life, and in 2016, I felt the calling to reach out and extend my hand in help to others who have let clutter into their lives. Thus, So Simple Professional Organizing was born.

Quite honestly, it is a privilege to be able to pass on to others what I have been so generously given. And it is a blessing to walk with people on their journey to a more rewarding and fulfilling life. Thank you for allowing me into yours.

Kim

On-the-Spot Time Management

What to do when the unexpected happens.

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We’ve all had them. You know what I’m talking about–the days we have planned just so. Then, an item we didn’t know we needed is nowhere to be found. Or an unexpected call comes in and we have to change our plans.

 

All hell breaks loose, right?

That’s how my day was yesterday. Or rather, that’s how it could have been.  That’s how it would’ve been if I had not already realized that I get easily overwhelmed when my day is too scheduled for my comfort.

THE PROBLEM:

THE UNEXPECTED TIME CRUNCH

My plan yesterday was to go to my local yarn store and knit all day, and then go home to chat on the phone with a local professional organizer. I wanted to pick her brain about starting a new career in the organizing field.

But then I realized I didn’t have a crucial item I needed to knit for the day. As if that weren’t bad enough, I’d forgotten I’d told Dad I would stop by in the afternoon. A brief wave of panic set in.

THE SOLUTION:

ON-THE-SPOT TIME MANAGEMENT

When this happens, I ask myself two crucial questions:

  • What’s important for me today?
  • What can I release?

 

WHAT’S IMPORTANT?

The knitting class was already paid for, so I needed to attend to that. It meant purchasing an item I needed before the 10:30 class time.

My father is 85 and very independent and maintaining a relationship with him is important, so I needed to attend to him.

The phone call to the organizer can be potentially life-changing, so I needed to attend to it.

WHAT CAN GO?

As soon as I figured out what was non-negotiable (the class, my dad, and the phone call) what was unimportant became self-evident–as beneficial as it might be for me to knit beyond the  ninety-minute class time, it was not crucial. It had to go.

HOW TO MOVE FROM THE PROBLEM TOWARD THE SOLUTION

Still, I needed to make an unexpected trip to the store. How can I accomplish this without feeling harried to get to class? I like to use two simple time management strategies–buffering and boundaries.

TIME BUFFERING

Time buffering is nothing more than creating space in the day for the unexpected. It can be as simple as leaving for work 5 minutes earlier than the usual time in case you run into traffic, or as challenging as getting up an hour earlier than you do now. The important thing is that you decide what’s best for you.

For me, being dressed, fed and having the bed made by 8 AM is pretty important, even on my days off. So, when I found out I needed to get to a craft store before class, I was ready. I was able to buy what I needed and still be the first one to show up.

Time buffering has worked amazingly in my life. I’m never late for work, even on days when I have to go through a bottleneck of cars.

I’m not yelling for a red light to hurry up and turn green! Thus my stress level is turned down several notches. Who doesn’t want that?

TIME BOUNDARIES

Setting a time boundary around a task or an event can not only help prioritize your day, but can also keep relationships healthy. Sometimes, we even need to set time boundaries around difficult people. This is another way of creating space, or breathing room, in the day.

Yesterday, I had to set a time boundary around my knitting so that I could visit with my father. I had to set a time boundary on my visit to dad so that I could devote the proper time and attention needed for the phone call to the professional organizer. See how this works? There’s space to get the important things done; space for the unexpected; space to breathe.

Who doesn’t want that?

 

Have a great time-management tip? We want to know! Share it in the comments.

A Life of Esteemable Acts

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It used to be that I would do one of two things to make myself feel better–either I would overeat or I would spend money.

I overate to the tune of being morbidly obese with a BMI of 41 and I overspent in the thousands. With the addiction to compulsive eating and debt to income ratio on the rise, I hid perfectly well in society. I was fat and so were you.  My debt matched yours.

With the higher weight and the higher debt came the greater shame and embarrassment. I crawled into a meeting for people addicted to compulsive overeating. I put down the food.

Five and a half years later, I still weigh and measure my food and instead of being morbidly obese with a BMI of 41, I am at a healthy weight with a BMI of 21.

No longer is there shame attached to my eating.

Today, I pay my bills. No longer do I throw them away in the hopes that the creditor will forget all about it. Yes, I really used to believe that. It makes perfect sense in a world where burying your head in sand seems like a good idea.

My husband, in all of his wonderfulness, does not know this part of me. He finds it hard to believe that I used to be that way, despite the evidence of what I’ve shown him (pictures, defaulted student loan notices, etc.) He knows me as the woman who keeps a clean and organized home, sticks to a regimented food plan, goes to meetings a few times a week, and pays the bills on time (mostly).

What happened? How did I go from being a slothful glutton to an organized and detail-oriented person?

A few years ago, a special woman entered my life. We talk everyday, I tell her what I’m eating for the day, and we talk about life in general.  She is a decade younger than me, but we have similar backgrounds. Our mothers are Irish, fathers Italian. We’re both bad at being Catholic, but love the Church warts and all. Our mothers were alcoholic. And we both have the disease of compulsive overeating.

One day, she said to me, “All the positive talk about ourselves and taking our inner child out to play is all bullshit. Want to know how to build good self-esteem? Do esteemable acts. Get your ass up out of bed every morning. Don’t overeat. Be honest.”

It’s really that simple. Today, my list of esteemable acts has expanded to include other areas.

Be available to those who truly want (not need) my help.

Shut up when they don’t.

Pay my bills on time.

Spend within my means.

Save for my retirement.

Save for a house.

Show up for work on time and ready to do the job.

Tell my husband I love him.

Write.

 

Do you want better self-esteem? Do an esteemable act.

Decluttering Sentimental STUFF

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Last week, I attended a webinar by Rachel Jones of Nourishing Minimalism. The focus was on letting go of sentimental items.

Easy peasy, I thought. I’d let go of most of that stuff years ago.  After my mother died in 2001, my sisters and I went through her belongings and trashed or donated all but a few things. I have her Mother’s Ring (do they even make those anymore?) and a stupid turquoise umbrella with a wooden ducks head as the handle. I wear the ring occasionally and use the umbrella when it rains. I’d had this decluttering business down pat. Or so I thought.

There was one item I’d held on to for nearly 14 years. I wore it once, Thanksgiving Day, 2001. That was the first holiday I spent away from my family. It was also the first holiday after my mother died. It was therefore a crucial time for family togetherness.

What could possibly pull me away from family on this day?

It was an important Thanksgiving for the entire nation. We were wounded and bewildered. Thousands died on Sept. 11, 2001 and hundreds if men and women spent the holiday cleaning up the debris.

It was them I wanted to serve. So, that Thanksgiving, I worked at the Ground Zero Respite Center, feeding the hungry workers. This was the best way I could honor the fallen and honor my mother’s memory.

It was still a dangerous area and all volunteers had to wear a hard hat, even if they worked indoors like I did. I took that hat home along with a few other items as a “reminder.”

For years the hat:

  • Sat in the back of my car
  • Lay buried in a closet
  • Moved with me as I moved into a new home and settled into married life.

Unlike my mother’s umbrella and ring, I was not using the hard hat for anything. It no longer served a purpose.

Why was I even keeping it? Quite frankly, I was afraid I would forget the experience. Yet keeping the item and not using it doesn’t honor the experience I had.

This morning I made a decision and took action. I needed to keep a physical manifestation of the experience, yet I could not justify keeping the actual item.

So I took several pictures of it
. One if which is at the top of the post.
I can frame the picture or I can simply save it on my laptop or phone.

After the pictures were done, I kissed the hard hat, thanked it for its service and threw it in the dumpster.

“Good Dealing” Your Way Into Debt

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A few months into our marriage my husband and I were looking for ways to save money. We began couponing. “Couponing” refers to combining coupons and sales to save maximum money.

We took on this project with gusto–buying newspapers, asking family and friends for their weekly coupon inserts. We even bought a banquet-style folding table so could we could cut and organize every coupon into a binder. I became known as the Coupon Binder Queen. By doing this, we saved hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. The new printer I bought was immediately paid for by the coupons I printed out and used.

A whole new world was opened up to us. We bought brands and products we never thought about before, even if we had no use for them.

“We might like these,” we said,  “So let’s buy. Plus, we’re getting a good deal.”

We “good dealed” our way into greater credit card debt and less space for our stuff. We had a stockpile.

Then the nagging conflict came: how can I maintain a clean and spacious one bedroom apartment while having lots of stuff around? Something had to give.

The first thing I did was assess our stockpile. What we used, I kept. What we didn’t use, I donated. Mostly we got rid of brands that we tried once or twice and didn’t care for. The upside to this is that what we stockpiled on were consumable goods–toilet paper, toothpaste, paper towels, canned goods, etc. We kept the brands we knew we would use up and donated the rest.

We still coupon today, only in moderation. We stock up on toilet paper and other consumables based solely on need. We also stock up on goods that can be donated to outreach programs: diapers, laundry detergent, canned food, etc.

We value our time together and couponing this way allows us to do that. No longer do we need to waste valuable time (and money!) running to the store to pick up items we thought we had.  We have what we need. Every once in a while, we re-assess our stockpile and fill accordingly.

We’ve also been able to substantially reduce our debt because we are not buying as much as we were. We are working toward zero credit card debt, and we are a long way from it, but we are also in a much better position today than even a year ago.

This way of minimalism may not be for everybody, but it works for us. And that’s important.