occipital lobe

My stroke of insight

And Happy Two Year Anniversary to me!!!

Two years ago today I had a stroke…hard to believe it but it’s true and it was my moment of insight. The stroke was caused by elevated estrogen levels (undiagnosed) and a recent prescription given containing estrogen. The perfect storm.  Within 6 weeks of starting my prescription, I had a small stroke in the right occipital lobe…the back right side of my head. That’s where the clots split off and one went above my right ear and the other stayed in the back right side, affecting my vision.

Now, in all seriousness, I had no idea I had a stroke. And this stroke was my fork in the road – “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” (Robert Frost).

My decision was simple: do I want to continue living the life I have been living, doing the work I have been doing, OR, do I want to seize this opportunity to change my life, change my career, make any other changes I choose to, and move forward with immense gratitude? Easy!! How many times do we get to experience such a blatant and obvious fork in the road?

It’s taken two years to get to where I am today. I am and have always been fully functional (thank you Lord) since my stroke. The changes I decided to make were to no longer spend time with negative people who also bring negative energy with them, ease out of my Digital Marketing client work, and no longer do contracting work as a Project Manager on system implementation projects. Instead, I have read many books about those who have experienced Near Death Experiences (NDEs as they are called), learned yoga, attended conferences (in person and online) with like-minded people, learned to meditate daily including practicing deep breathing exercises, focused on hanging out with people who bring positive energy with them, and launched a professional organizing business where I can enrich others’ lives and help bring peace into their homes and offices. There is so much more that I am doing to enrich my life, my family’s lives and those around me. The options are endless! And for that I am so very grateful. Heck, this blog was one of my new endeavors too!

In closing, here is a quote from a recent book I read that pretty much sums up the choice we are given every day:

“You are the author of your own emotional experiences. You can choose whatever emotion you want in any situation you are faced with.  Making a conscious choice instead of allowing old subconscious patterns to run you is choosing to evolve and grow.”

Choose to evolve and grow. Live like each day is your last. Carpe Diem!

Messy room needing organization

Tips for When to Hire a Professional Organizer

Are you finding that the act of organizing is not something you do well, especially when you are by yourself? Sometimes just having another person in the room with you helps you to remain focused and continue organizing. Here are some tips to help you know when it’s time to hire a Professional Organizer:

  1. Are you unsure as to where or how to begin organizing?
  2. Do you have more stuff than your home or office can contain?
  3. Do you need to learn organizing systems and techniques?
  4. Does the terminology “organizing systems and techniques” make your head spin?
  5. Do you have a looming deadline for completing an organizing project, such as a move?
  6. Do you need the expertise of someone trained in helping chronically disorganized people?
  7. Are you dealing with medical, physical or psychological issues in addition to disorganization?
  8. Will you need ongoing organizing assistance or maintenance?
  9. Do you need someone to help you organize large quantities of things or papers?
  10. Do you want or need the objectivity of a neutral third-party?

If you answered “yes” to some or all of these questions, you will definitely benefit from the assistance of a Professional Organizer. Please contact me to schedule an assessment. If you are not in the Metro DC area, we can still conduct an over the phone assessment and I can assist you in locating someone in your area.

Organizing, Time Management, Uncategorized

Time Keeps Ticking Tocking Away

Do you struggle with a poor sense of time? Are you often late for appointments, work? Are your kids late for school? This often occurs because of an inability to find what you need in the morning, distractions and sometimes not understanding just how long tasks REALLY take to complete.

Here are some tips to help you plan and schedule your time:

  1. Just like we do with our kids, we (adults) need to plan our morning out the NIGHT BEFORE. This will sound familiar if you have done this with your kids, but figure out what you’re going to wear the next day (I know this sounds really hard because you dress in the morning based on how you FEEL that day – bite the lip and try this technique before giving up). Gather your work items (briefcase, purse, bag, etc.) – put these by the door you will exit! Now do the same thing for your kids (clothes for next day, backpacks, shoes, items to take to school) and place those by the same door. We’re trying to help stop the morning madness!
  2. Hang your keys by the door you exit/use most often. If it’s the garage, then put up a key holder inside your house, next to the door to the garage. Multiple people using multiple sets of keys equals…yes you are right! Multiple hooks on the key holder! As for me, I prefer a small table also in this area to put stuff down on. Yes this can become the dumping ground, but in our prior home when we didn’t have one, everything was dropped right on the floor or onto the dining room table. Um, no. We currently don’t have a table near the door so items come into the kitchen. Our space in the entryway won’t accommodate the depth of a small table plus we have a large row of coat hooks / key hooks / purse hooks by the door. The counter is okay for this instance because the mail gets sorted through and purged into the recycling bin and lunch boxes live in the kitchen anyway. Phew! Moving on…
  3. Who likes to procrastinate doing the tough stuff? Yes, every human being raises their hand. Thank you. Here’s a simple but effective tip – schedule the tough stuff for early in the week – and when you are at your peak energy level – and see what happens! Believe it or not, once you get the tough tasks out-of-the-way, time is easier to manage. Otherwise that pink elephant is staring you in the face…everyday…all week long…ugh.
  4. Since errand running affects all of us (except those with personal assistants who run their errands for them and are named Kardashian, ahem), do you know realistically how long it takes you to run the errands? Try my tip – multiply by a factor of 3. If you live in the MetroDC area, anything can happen with traffic and what might be only 10 miles to run an errand may take you 30 minutes or more. (Note: if it’s rush hour in the MetroDC area, I increase my factor to 4). Yes this is my little secret…if I have to drive 10 miles, I calculate 30 minutes. If it’s rush hour, that becomes 40 minutes. Why is this errand running time understanding step important? Because we tend to not estimate enough time and external factors and then we over schedule and are constantly under pressure – maybe even yelling or honking horns at lights because we’re angry because we are late. Perhaps we made ourselves late by not fully grasping how long it takes to get from point A to point B? Hmm…that’s a thought.
  5. Hubs and I use a smart phone app for our shopping lists. I have a bazillion stores listed and we share just a few. We share lists for two grocery stores and three multipurpose stores (Target, Walmart and Walgreens). The app we use is called AnyList for iOS. I’m sure these apps exist for other types of phone operating systems as well. The cool thing is that NO LONGER are either of us out and about and decide to go by the store and realize we DON’T HAVE THE GROCERY LIST! Hate when that happens. Now we can add to the list on the fly (it updates immediately) and when either of us are in a store, we can purchase what’s on the list. The only thing remaining? Look at the lists. LOL.
  6. Do you have kids to keep track of schedules and messages? I’d recommend a family message center. White board or a chalkboard are fantastic for these areas. A family calendar is also a must since there are only so many adults who can drive the kids to all their after school activities. No, we are not cloned just because we are parents. Another idea is to set up Google calendar and husbands and wives can add their activities as well as their kids’ activities. That way everyone is on the same page when not at home looking at the calendar on the wall. (I’m all for technology if it provides a better solution!)
  7. Feeling overwhelmed at tasks to be done? Set a timer. I have used this technique a long time. If one of your family members struggles with ADD, then use 15 minute increments to focus on tasks. You don’t have to complete a large task in one sitting – done is better than perfect. Perhaps you need to just break up the task into chunks of time and put it on your calendar? I use this technique often – especially when performing home repair/remodeling tasks or yard work tasks. Why? Because I want to work on the task at my peak energy time and I know myself, if I’ve gone past a few hours, I’m going to not be as focused and will start making mistakes. To thine own self be true (and gentle!).
  8. Remember that if you are working on trivial tasks (oh, I need to print off those forms instead of writing a blog!), you are procrastinating my friend. We all do it. Usually it’s the tasks as mentioned in #3 above. Prioritize your tasks and work on the priorities first. Then reward yourself with a fun task!
  9. Lastly, and I learned this in pre-marriage counseling decades ago, usually in a relationship one person is the “tasker” and the other person is the “teamer”. What does this mean? That one person wants to do fun stuff and the other one wants to get things done! How do you overcome this “opposites attract” challenge? Ask the teamer to help you with a task (and yes, us “taskers” need to be specific in how long the task will take or be worked on), and that once the task is done, you will be glad to go “teaming”. Otherwise the tasker gets resentful and will not enjoy their time teaming, while the teamer doesn’t understand why the tasker is in a huff. Simple solution and works well if agreed upon by both people in the relationship. (Hey, this can also apply to kids).

Tick tock tick tock…let’s learn to make time our friend and not our enemy.

Laundry, Uncategorized

Teaching Kids To Do Laundry

At what age can you start teaching kids to do their own laundry? If you children are tall enough (or can safely use a stepstool) and can read, then I believe you can teach them to do laundry. I would say 6-8 years old would be a good age to start.

Because we didn’t have a washer/dryer in our home when my daughter was that age, she didn’t learn until she was 10.

Here are the steps I took to teach my own daughter:

1 – I wrote down on a piece of paper three categories of laundry: darks, lights, and reds. I gave her examples of her own pieces of clothing for each category.

2 – I added the wash/rinse water temperature and set it to COLD/COLD (no worries about reds running)

3 – I added how much detergent to use and took a sharpie marker and indicated the amount on the detergent lid

4 – I taped this chart to the front of the washing machine.

5 – I supervised her doing her wash the first few times until I felt she had the hang of it.

Note: the hardest part is explaining just how many clothes will fit in the washing machine. Since nowadays most machines are free of an agitator in the center, more clothes can fit. Just be sure to explain that the clothes need to create friction amongst themselves in order for the detergent to get the clothes clean…too many clothes means not enough movement or friction.

6 – For drying clothes, I wrote down on a piece of paper the settings and kept it to just one setting (she learned as she got older how to use the different settings).

7 – I added instruction to use one dryer sheet (this was back in the 90s before I switched to non-toxic drying methods)

8 – I taped this piece of paper to the front of the dryer.

9 – I supervised her doing her drying the first few times.

Finally, reward your child for learning this valuable lesson that will help him/her the rest of their lives. Seriously. Imagine them in their 20s and dating and finding out that Joe/Jane doesn’t know how to do laundry and still takes their clothes to their mom’s to get washed/dried? Um, that is not a healthy sign of a potential relationship partner, IMHO.

Enjoy teaching and empowering your children to do their own laundry!