Archive for February, 2008|Monthly archive page

Sometimes my plans work out, other times things come out better

by Margaret Lukens, New Leaf + Company

Last weekend I went to Santa Cruz, California to see the migrating monarch butterflies in their winter home. My chosen destination was Natural Bridges State Park, which features a natural stone bridge formed by the Pacific Ocean tides (hence the name) and groves of the monarch’s preferred eucalyptus trees (hence my visit).

My husband Joe and I headed to the coast by the most direct route, but found our way blocked by bumper-to-bumper traffic headed over the hill to Half Moon Bay, so we turned south to go over the hill through the tiny, tone-y town of Woodside. We seized the opportunity to enjoy lunch at Buck’s, a diner with smart and thoughtful cooks in the kitchen, where half of Silicon Valley’s venture capital deals are struck over waffles and coffee before 9 am. I had the crab cakes in pita bread with red-pepper mayonnaise; Joe had the corned beef hash.

Arriving at Natural Bridges S.P., we strolled down the wooden walk-way that reaches like a finger deep into the chilly eucalyptus grove. Peering up into the 30 and 40-foot tall trees, we saw — not a blooming thing. At less than 55 degrees, the butterflies huddle together for warmth high in the trees; to venture out is for the butterflies to risk an early death, before they make it to their breeding grounds among the milkweed plants of Colorado and points east. We felt as though we had gone on a snipe hunt; we made jokes about topping off the outing by taking in the local submarine races.

On the way back, we stopped at a farm to purchase an ollalieberry pie (ollalieberries are a cousin of the blackberry, and they make a truly fine pie), and arrived home feeling as though our jokes about trying to get the monarchs out of our hair only added to the pleasure of the day.

Which made me think of what happens to our business plans. Sometimes we don’t get exactly what we hoped for (sorry, fans of The Secret!), but we often get something wonderful.

What unexpected results have your plans brought recently? Please share your thoughts here.

Does this clutter make my butt look fat?

Yesterday Peter Walsh’s new book, Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?, was released with a home-and-body makeover televised for Oprah.

It has been my delight to meet Peter on a couple of occasions. While he is known for his skill as a “clutter expert” and adorable media star, he is also a passionate and dedicated professional with an advanced degree in educational psychology. He uses his deep insights into human motivations and learning to help his clients address the source of their organizational problems, not just the symptoms.

Professional organizers know that while people call us for help with their “stuff”, there is often a problem beneath the problem, which we must address with the client in order to achieve lasting change. And so it was with the family featured in Thursday’s program.

Peter helped the family of four (including two pre-teen children) to address the difficult emotions – grief, overwhelm, anger, shame – and the disorganized thinking that led to the mess in their homes and lives, and contributed to their collective weight that topped out at over 700 pounds.

Recently I received a call from a client after we had worked in her office, doing an executive launch for the GO System workshop. She said that people had asked her whether she had lost weight, or been on vacation – something about her was different, and they couldn’t quite identify what it was. What it was, we agreed, was the sense of ease and control that she had gained from our work organizing her time, paper and projects. She was able to set priorities and know what to do next. She could finally leave all her work at work. And she was positively affecting the stress levels of those around her.

What are some of the results you’d like to get from improving your organization? I invite you to post your thoughts here.

Organizing Awards? This must be L.A.!

by Margaret Lukens, New Leaf + Company

On Friday, February 1, it was my honor to be among the presenters at the Third Annual Los Angeles Organizing Awards, hosted by the L. A. chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers.

Sherri Shepherd of ABC’s “The View” kicked off the evening with revelations both funny and touching about her work with her beloved organizer, Jodie Watson. Professional organizers are familiar with that “blankie” that many of our clients have — the object, collection or habit from which they must not be parted. For Sherri, she confided, it’s her large collection of wigs. When Jodie wondered aloud whether Sherrie really wears all the wigs she has, Sherrie recalled shouting down Jodie: “I’ve GOT to have my HAIR!!” Now her collection is safely organized, labeled, and in containers: curly, straight, fun, short, long. Sherri got to keep “her hair” and find it, too.

The celebrity line-up of presenters continued with NAPO founders Ann Gambrell and Beverly Clower, authors and “Oprah” guests Julie Morgenstern and Peter Walsh, NSGCD president Lynne Johnson, organizing coach Dorothy Breininger, NAPO president Standolyn Robertson, and others.

Many of those who took to the podium had stories to tell, and film clips to share, of lives changed by organizing work. One powerful moment included Peter Walsh pushing for a clear commitment to boundaries on the much-talked-about “Oprah” episode “Inside the Lives of Hoarders” featuring his client with a serious hoarding problem. Another organizer’s clip showed a client overcome with emotion when the final work in his home office was revealed. What touched him so deeply? Not just relief at being rid of the mess, the visible signs of disorganization. No, it was the wonderful way the organizers had displayed his collection of baseball cards, honoring what really mattered to him and allowing him to enjoy it more fully. Moments like these reminded everyone present why professional organizing matters — because it allows people to do more of what they value most, and do it with more ease.

With two colleagues from San Francisco, I presented The Green Award for the most eco-friendly organizing product of service. Finalists included 1-800-GOT-JUNK and Hecht of an Organizer, with this year’s award going to Hecht of an Organizer.

I hope that the LA Organizing Awards will encourage more companies to partner with professional organizers to design and market innovative products and services that provide a dramatic benefit in the lives of clients.

Do you know of any organizing products or services that you feel should be nominated for the 2009 Organizing Awards? Please take a moment to post your favorites here.

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