13 Posts in Honor of the Beginning of 2013

In honor of the beginning of 2013, I’m going to share 13 posts I’ve written over the past 4 years (though my first year I started quite late in the year).  It’s hard to believe that I have been blogging this long and many of you might not have seen some of these posts.  Especially when you consider that I have about 170 posts at this point.


1- Ever feel like a bratty child approaching your dreaded tasks?  I know I have.  Check out “I Don’t Wanna!”

2- My first video where I reveal a dumping ground in our home and the approach we took to reclaim that room – “Revamping the Dumping Grounds in Your Home & Other Lost Rooms.”


3- The title of this brings a half-grimace and half-smirk to my face as I think about how it could be misinterpreted, though the point remains; do you have an “Organizer Problem or Personal Problem?”

4- When you’ve decided to tackle an organizing project, it can be challenging to manage your way through it successfully.  These are some of the questions I ask and suggest for people to consider as they work, “Ask Yourself These Questions During Organizing.”

5- It’s surprisingly common to struggle with handling those lovely plastic storage containers.  Therefore, here’s one take on how to “Tame Your Tupperware.”

6- Have you heard of the O.H.I.O. idea?  It’s interesting as long as it’s used in the manner it was intended, which not everyone realizes.  Check out “Only Handle It Once” and see what I mean.


7- I’ll admit it, sometimes it’s hard for me to remember all the things I’ve written about.  This one stays with me and brings a smile to my face – “Contagious Clutter” can plague all of us.  (And be careful it does multiply when you look away.)

8- There’s a common poem that outlines the “Guidelines for a Happy Home” which I use to illustrate some of the things that apply equally to be organized.

9- Although this title is a little misleading, it’s more about some steps to take when deciding to tackle an organizing project, including waiting until you are fully prepared, “You’re Organized, Right?”

10- This is such a little known planner, yet it remains as the one paper style I think about most as it limits our daily tasks, “Taylor Planner.”


11- We all collect things.  Yup, we sure do.  So, then it’s worth thinking about “Collections, When to Stop.”

12- Arts and craft supplies can be one of the most daunting things to try organizing, there’s so many different approaches and so many things.  That’s why I wrote about “Organizing Art & Craft Supplies.”

13- This was probably the most overdue topic since I only really broached it this past year, how to handle the small spaces – from the storage spaces like closets to the living spaces, “So Little Space.”

There it is, 13 posts to celebrate the beginning of 2013.  It wasn’t easy choosing which ones to share and I’d love to hear if there’s one that I missed that you appreciated.

I hope you all have a wonderful year.  Here’s to being organized – in the real meaning of the word, being able to find what you need when you need it. Happy 2013!

Consider Setting Resolutions – or Not

There’s a certain amount of dread I find as the New Year approaches.  I feel an obligation to talk about resolutions and goals, as this is the expectation for this event each year.  Part of me wonders how many of you actually set New Year’s resolutions.  Or how seriously you take them.  As time passes, I have a sense that people sitting down to make their list has dissipated over the years.  It seemed like everyone did it when I was kid and you needed to be prepared since someone (more likely several people) were bound to ask you what your goals were for the coming year.  I’m not sure how many of us view this event the same now.

And let me be perfectly clear, I am all for setting goals.  I’ve mentioned before that I just personally resist this once a year on January 1st list making.  I strive to incorporate it into my life, throughout the year.  I do dislike how we have the potential for undermining our confidence by setting goals and not meeting them.  This feels extremely contrary to the intention.  What I want for all of us is positive self-regard, the feeling of being successful in all our life.  Anything that challenges that needs to be reevaluated in my book!

So, let’s talk about goals here.  You probably know all the guidelines – start small, set concrete and specific goals that you can measure, and keep the list short.  I’ve even written about these things before in Goals, Already?

Yet I can’t help but wonder, maybe we half-heartedly set some New Year’s resolutions simply expecting that they probably won’t happen.  Most people I’ve talked to know about the above guidelines for being successful in setting goals and yet when they’ve set goals, they’ve neglected to develop their goals far enough to apply those guidelines.  That’s part of why it occurred to me that New Year’s resolutions might have become almost an almost rote task for some of us.

Probably the biggest thing for me is that taking steps to reach our goals can’t be so easily proscribed.  I remember years ago I desperately wanted to lose weight.  I went through phases of wanting a quick and easy fix since I blamed some medication for my weight predicament.  Then I accepted that there wasn’t going to be any quick fixes and made some beginning efforts at exercising.  Those often faltered with the realization of how far I had to go – even 5 minutes on a stationary bike was exhausting.  Then finally I was able to commit to the process, starting small with specific goals at 5 minutes each time 3 days a week.  That progressed to 1 hour 5 days a week and guess what – the weight came off.

Except that this goal had to move through various stages before it was truly prepared to be my goal.  It took me a long time from the “I want to…” until I was ready to set small and specific goals.  That didn’t correspond to any set date on a calendar.

And this really is the crux of why part of me dreads writing about setting New Year’s resolutions, I don’t want to propagate that you need to set goals at this time of year.  You don’t need to be ready to make changes this moment.  Changes take time and you really need to be prepared in all ways to begin to make those happen.

Therefore, if you are ready to make a New Year’s resolution, go for it.  If you’re not, then cheers to you too.  And remember the other part of New Year’s is to review your successes over the past year – I hope there were many. Happy New Year and I hope it’s a fabulous one.

Review: 3M Command Strips

3.5 out of 5 stars

Some of the 3M Command products

Some of the 3M Command products


  • easy to use: no hammer needed, no need to know where studs are or what wall is made of, allows you to hang things where you cannot put a nail (surface being too delicate or hard)
  • damage-free removal
  • various styles and types
  • certain strips connect with any other strips – no “male” or “female” pieces
  • refill strips allow you to only replace one side when you move
  • saw-tooth picture hanger, wire-backed picture hanging hooks, and clips come with 1 refill included in the package


  • don’t address if they come off the item and if it’s possible; i.e. poster strips or frames
  • a 2 step process –> requires an hour between attaching to both surfaces and when you can leave item attached
  • recommend wiping surface with alcohol (no wipes included) and the process can feel long if you’re impatient
  • doesn’t adhere to every surface
  • basically plastic, for the hooks and clips even with various styles
  • some temperature limitations
  • a little expensive compared to a nail or even a picture hanging kit
  • the refill being included means having potential clutter around as well as needing to not lose it


I’ve been hearing about the various styles of 3M Command Strips for several years now and at least year’s NAPO conference received a couple of samples to try out for myself.  In that interim between hearing about them and getting the samples, I’d looked at them in the stores and considered purchasing them.  The thing that always stopped me was that I couldn’t think of where and how I would be able to use them.  And even after conference, back in March of 2012, they sat around for a while.

Let me take a moment here to share that in some ways this post will not be complete – I have not removed any of the Command strips that have been applied, so I cannot comment on how damage-free the removal truly is – though as I have done in the past, I will revisit this when I have more information to share.

Then suddenly I needed them – a magnetic white board we had hung in the kitchen came crashing down, the adhesive that came with it was jiggled loose when we were doing some other work.  Aha, this would be a perfect test for a set of Command strips for framed pieces.  I pulled out one of the packages, read the instructions, and got it put up.  As I was doing this, the handyman working on some pipes in the basement came upstairs and saw what I was doing.  He commented that he loved them – when his tenants use them, the walls are left undamaged.

I found that I was almost paranoid that they wouldn’t hold my magnetic white board.  I kept checking to make sure it didn’t seem loose and each day when I came home, to make sure that it was still hanging.  It has never moved to this point in time – it remains solidly attached, holding coupons and whatnot for our home.

On the other hand, I am quite fascinated by the “velcro” that they use on these picture strips.  It’s not traditional Velcro, there’s no difference between the two pieces, which means that these any one piece can adhere to any other piece.  Unlike Velcro where you need 2 different pieces to connect to each other, any 2 pieces can connect with the 3M Command strip systems – at least with this picture frame style.

3M Command strips from back

3M Command strips on the back of the board and the cabinet.

Magnetic white board hung with 3M Command strips

Here’s the magnetic white board hung with 3M Command Strips.

Another time, my husband and I were talking about our coat closet (it lives in what is now the study – see the videos and blogs about re-vamping) and what to do about one of his hats.  Aha, I was given a 3M Command hook as well.  I immediately went and grabbed that and hung the hat up.  Somehow I was much less concerned about that falling, though it too hasn’t moved.  I find the white plastic appearance of the hook to be less than ideal, though considering what it is and what it’s used for – it’s fine.  It’s also completely hidden when the hat is hung on it.

3M Command hook without the hook attached

3M Command hook without the hook attached

Hat hanging on the 3M Command hook

Hat hanging on the 3M Command Hook

3M Command hook

3M Command Hook – this is what it looks like on the wall

There is quite an assortment of products within this category – from the picture and frame hangers, hooks, to clips, and poster hangers.  They offer different colors – from the standard white, to clear and metal appearance, and now a designer option.  3M has considered the dampness of bathrooms as well in their design – they offer a number of hooks for use in the bathroom, even in the shower itself.

They do talk about some temperature sensitivity – they cannot be applied without some pre-treatment at temperatures below 50° F and the adhesive can soften above 105°F.  None of these products are made for use in cars, where the temperatures and sun exposure can be so varied.  These are available in many stores – OfficeMax, Office Depot, Target, Walmart, Kmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Menards, Ace, True Value, CVS, and JoAnn’s.

These might be quite useful for some of your needs.  They’re worth considering and trying out – if you can find a way to use them.  As with everything else, figure out what and how you would use them before running out to buy them!  🙂

Here are a couple of other examples of the 3M Command Strip products:

Wire-backed picture hanging hooks from 3M Command product line

Wire-backed picture hanging hooks from 3M Command product line

Saw-tooth hanger from 3M Command product line

Saw-tooth hanger from 3M Command product line

Reorganizing and Remembering

Have you ever had a time when you’ve been looking for something and can’t find it?  Of course, this is part of being human.  Let’s add another piece – you can’t find something that you know you “organized”?  This too is quite common.  Many times over the years I’ve had clients call me after an organizing appointment wondering where we put this or that.  Frequently I’m able to tell them – within one or two possibilities.

Nevertheless this can be supremely frustrating.  “Oh my, I went to all this trouble to make things logical and get organized and now I feel even more lost.”  Believe it or not, I’ve been there and done just that.  It can happen to anyone – from the most organized (which isn’t me by the way, I’m only mostly organized) to those who struggle more chronically with stuff.  The reason no one is exempt from dealing with this has to do with several factors – and these factors can give us insight into steps we can take to minimize this happening.

First, when do you work on an organizing project?  This is something to plan – design things with a clear intention.  And to be completely clear, that doesn’t mean you can’t sort and purge in the meantime.  It does mean to make intentional decisions, ones that you have thought out and considered for a while. There are times when our mindset can hinder our efforts – so if you’ve suddenly decided to reorganize those shelves, you might forget where you moved that one thing to that you didn’t want on the shelf after all those years.

Have you heard how it takes a minimum 30 days of doing something consistently before it becomes a routine?  Consider the impact of moving one thing somewhere else after all the years you’ve lived in your home.  You’re likely to automatically go to the shelf (or wherever) and be surprised that it’s not there.  Then you run the risk of not quite remembering where its new home is.

Choosing to change things is something to do only when you’ve had time and energy to consider your options.  If you’re tired, this probably isn’t when you are your best nor is it when you are making the best decisions for yourself.

A good example of this can be when dealing with papers.  How many names can you think of for your car?  Car, Auto, Make, Model, His/Her Car, Old Junker, etc.  This can be applied to most papers, and the title needs to make sense to you or the person doing the filing.  It’s amazing how one title can seem logical in one moment and completely illogical the next – it becomes hard to locate the correct piece of paper.  This can be avoided by taking time to think about what makes sense to you and let it marinate – see if something better comes to mind.

Second, if you cannot wait to organize and don’t have time to make a plan, make a map.  You can create essentially a cheat sheet of where things are; it can be as simple as a list, i.e. 3 ring binders – lower right shelf in bookshelf in spare bedroom (behind doors).  This can be helpful too when your memory isn’t as good as you’d like.  I have a list of our files – the category, the file name, which drawer – and it’s in order so I can always find it even when it’s slipped down and looks like it walked off!  The map can even be more literal – a sketch that lays out what your space looks like and what lives in each space.

Another option is to label everything.  My husband and I joke that it could be so easy for me to take labeling to an extreme – where the cat would walk around with a label – “cat”.  Nevertheless, creating labels can be a good solution to help track where things have been moved.

Here’s a potentially disturbing truth – there’s no absolute answer for escaping our forgetfulness.  There are many factors that affect our functioning and therefore our effectiveness when we reorganize.  Keep these points in mind when you decide to tackle your next organizing project and minimize the chances you will need to send out a search party for that moved item.

Checking Tasks Off Your To-Do List

One of the questions I ask people when we’re talking about to-do lists is “do you write in tasks so that you can check them off?”  There are a fair number of people who admit with some embarrassment that yes, in fact they do that.  And I smile and say, “yup I’ve been known to do that too.”    I want those check marks – that symbol of having used my day productively.  Yet, it’s simply one-way to have the validation that the day was productive.

We all want to feel like we are accomplishing things – both those that are necessary and those that help us feel like we are moving forward.  The way that we feel about our to-do lists can vary.  It also varies over time – there are times I love my to-do list and times when it simply fills me with dread.  As with everything, there are many variables that affect our behaviors and feelings.

My biggest struggle is to feel productive – how many tasks are reasonable to accomplish?  There’s this nagging feeling like I could have done more, “if only…”  With all the variables of life, what is realistic for a person to do in a given day?

I’ve looked into this, from extensive reading to polling my friends and family.  The answers vary dramatically as well as the response that it’s hard to quantify – “it depends.”  There was a flaw in my polling – often we each view our tasks differently.  Does doing the dishes count as a to-do? Does taking a shower?  You can see how defining a reasonable number of to-dos can be challenging.

Tasks take a different amount of time to complete.  In a to-do list each item takes a line and can appear equal, even when they’re not.  Ideally everything on your active to-do list needs to be able to be completed in one step.  This means that projects are kept somewhat separate – like the brain dump to-do list, and only the next step goes onto the smaller daily or weekly to-do list (see my discussion of this in: Decide on the Next Action).

When it feels like I’ve been struggling with accomplishing my tasks, often I will write an estimate of the time I think each task will take.  This allows me to see how much I have set to do and gives me the chance to move things to another week (I currently make weekly to-do lists from the brain dump list).  Sometimes I will even take a list of tasks completed and note the time spent on each – this provides me with a realistic view of what I accomplished.

Too often I see people discounting the things they did do, as they view those things as minor or mandatory.  Nevertheless, everything we do takes time and energy – it counts.  During the times when I wasn’t really keeping a to-do list, at the end of the day I would sometimes write down everything I had done that day – another way for me to see what was accomplished.

Unfortunately there is no easy answer about how much you can realistically accomplish on a given day.  One thing to consider is how long the things on your to-do list will take – do you have time on this or that day?  Based on Harold Taylor’s planner, I recommend limiting your daily to-do list to no more than 3 tasks, above and beyond all those things you do each day anyway.  Those 3 tasks can be whatever you choose and of any length as long as they are able to be completed within a reasonable amount of time.  Test this and see how it works – when does it work for you and when does it break down?

Calendar Considerations

It’s getting to that time of year when many of us might be purchasing calendars for the upcoming year.  There are many factors involved if you want to consider something different for yourself.  And let me say up front, I strongly feel that if you have something that works for you, it’s ideal to stick with what works for you.  Period.  If the system you’ve been using isn’t working as well, then it’s time to as least think about the options you have.  So, let’s jump right in and discuss the variations in the way calendars are designed.

First, we have the big choice between paper and digital.  As I’ve already said, if what you use works, then stick with it.  Even if that means you have a paper calendar.  There’s nothing wrong about sticking with a paper calendar in our growing digital society.  On the other hand, if the paper isn’t working for you, then it’s worth considering if a digital calendar would be more effective.

When using a digital calendar, most people think of the more portable – the phone and tablets – although some people still use just their computer calendar.  There is a learning curve if this is new to you – as with anything new.  You need to get used to how it works and often learn to trust it.  The digital calendars often have multiple ways to view it – similar to the paper calendars – you have daily, weekly, and monthly, which give you the flexibility to focus on your schedule in the way that works for you.

One of the features that I appreciate in the digital calendar is the ability to set alarms – I choose the amount of forewarning I want (or if I don’t want one at all).  Another positive aspect of the digital is how I can create repeating events easily and have no need to enter the information more than once.  It just occurred to me also that there’s no recurring cost for the digital calendars or getting it up to date for the coming year – I have some appointments repeating forever.

Second, when you are looking at paper calendars, you need to decide on the format you want.  Most calendars have a monthly view in addition to either a daily or a weekly view.  Depending on your needs, a weekly view is usually sufficient for most people as it allows you to put in many appointments as well as some tasks (if you chose to do that).  The weekly view also gives you an easy overview of what’s coming up.

I reviewed 2 planners last year, both of which I still think about and appreciate: Planner Pad and Taylor Planner.  If I was still using a paper calendar, I would be using one of these and I would be torn about which one.

Something else you want to think about is how you handle your to-dos.  Do you put them into your calendar?  Do you put them in another place within the calendar or are they completely separate?  What other things do you want or need to track with your calendar (or calendar system) – phone numbers, grocery lists, websites, projects, ideas, etc? Digitally, this would likely require different programs or apps on the device, whereas with paper it could all be contained together or divided, as you prefer.

The only time to change your calendar is if you’re struggling with your current system.  With so many choices of calendars, it can be challenging to decide on which one to use.  Therefore, before rushing out and simply grabbing something, consider what your needs are for your system.

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Here I am about to state the obvious – my blog always comes out the day before Thanksgiving.  This causes me to have mixed feelings – I want everyone to be focused on enjoying their day.  There are times to be thinking about our habits, our organizing, our time management, and etcetera.  Then there are times when it’s time to set that aside for a while – other priorities are more important.

One of the things I talk to people about is setting priorities.  When everything holds the same value, everything can lose its value.  Think about it in terms of stuff – if you are so surrounded by things you love, how can you love everything when you can’t see or find it?  This applies just as much to our interests – if you want to do everything, you need to figure out what exactly you want to focus on first.

Even more importantly, you need to decide what can wait – when it’s time to set something aside – either permanently or just for the time being.  This is part of what causes someone to feel overwhelmed – the feeling that there is just so much to be done and not being able to leave something undone.

All of life is a journey – like organizing – there’s not an end point.  There’s always more to be done, more to organize, more to improve, and on and on infinitum.  It’s part of what makes life so interesting.  It’s also exactly this that frustrates our efforts.

My vision of this is walking down a road, coming to the familiar crossroads, and choosing a path.  Sometimes this path is about setting something down for a while – I leave that thing, the interest or desire, by the side of the road – because it’s just an image, I know I can pick that interest back up again after I’ve traveled for a while.

Often the holidays are full of routines – we always get together with so and so on Thanksgiving.  As with virtually everything I talk about – I encourage you to figure out your own needs and values – for Thanksgiving as with anything else.  It can be challenging to align your priorities with your life, yet it’s important to do.

Organizing Jewelry

It’s always interesting to me how even I approach some organizing projects.  I’ve been working my way through our home, room-by-room, doing some rearranging and deep cleaning.  I did the bedroom quite a while ago now and pulled the jewelry boxes out and set them aside.  I left room for the 2 I knew would go back in and continued on my room journey.  When I finished with all the rooms, I went back to the jewelry.

I figured that it would take me between 1-2 hours to go through it and get it set up.  I don’t even wear much jewelry.  So, I sat down and spread the 9 jewelry boxes around me, all opened up.  And suddenly I felt overwhelmed.  Ugh, where do I start?  Bah, maybe I don’t really want to do this after all.

Yet my motivation from the outset prodded me – remember you don’t want 8 jewelry boxes, that’s too many.  Then I jumped in and I won’t mislead you, it didn’t suddenly become easy.  It was still with dread that I moved through the various pieces, struggling with feeling overwhelmed.

Depending on your situation, it can be helpful to know how you are going to arrange your jewelry.  I knew there was a minimum of 3 jewelry boxes I was keeping and each of them had a distinct purpose for me.  There are times that this isn’t possible or practical – and getting a sense of what you are keeping can lead you to deciding the best way to keep them.

Even though I know better in general, when I started I didn’t empty those 3 jewelry boxes – I tried to move the pieces around.  This rarely works – in any situation – as it’s most effective to completely empty the receptacle (whatever it is you’re working with) – and in this case, jewelry boxes.  I quickly realized my mistake and emptied all 3 of the ones I was keeping.  From there it was relatively easy to put some things in their places, as those loved pieces weren’t even being considered for donation.

Consider what sub-divisions there are with the broad category of jewelry.  These will vary from person to person.

  • Sets: necklace and earrings, bracelet and earrings, and all 3 (necklace, bracelet, and earrings)
  • Watches
  • Bracelets
  • Necklaces: independent and then pendants (that I put onto chains to wear them)
  • Rings
  • Earrings
    •    Dangly
    •    Non-dangly (or studs)

I started at the top of the list, with my sets, and looked at each of them.  Although I often ask how often is something used, I knew that most of my sets were extremely rarely worn.  This didn’t mean that I got rid of them – a couple of them are from our honeymoon in India and likewise important.  Yet, by evaluating, I found one set that I had no sentimental attachment and little appreciation for – and I simply set it aside. Then I moved on to the next subdivision and then the next.

With each grouping I would gather them together.  From there, sometimes I would grab a piece I knew I wanted to stay and move it off to the side.  Other times I would grab a piece that I knew could go away and put that into the give away pile.  Often it’s easiest to pull out our favorites and least favorites.  It’s those things that fall into that middle ground that can stymie us – uh, how do I decide about this other piece?  Those can be easier when those are the only ones left – although I leave the favorites close by so they can be seen as I evaluate the ones that bring more ambivalence.

With each group I needed to ask myself how realistic it was that I would wear it and what I was saving it for.  I have a whole group of jewelry that I couldn’t bring myself to part with – they were too sentimental while I know that I will never wear them again.  Sometimes it’s important to challenge yourself – would you be able to wear and appreciate all your jewelry?  I know I tend to re-wear my favorites, in order to fully appreciate them.

It ended up taking me about 4 hours to sort and organize my jewelry – double from my high-end expectation of 1-2 hours.  I ended up getting rid of 3 of the jewelry boxes and have limited myself to using those 3 jewelry boxes I’d already decided on keeping.  You can see from the jewelry box below with jewelry in it, what I am getting rid of.

2 empty jewelry boxes and 1 filled one

2 empty jewelry boxes and 1 filled one – all being donated

There’s no point in my saying it was easy or fun.  It wasn’t.  It feels wonderful to have done it and to be more consolidated.  The more we can break an organizing task into sections, the more successful we can be – maybe even more so when it comes to jewelry. And remember, it’s easiest to regain order by completely emptying the thing you are organizing.  Does your jewelry need to be sorted and organized?

Feeling Stressed and Overwhelmed?

There has been a lot going on with me – both personally and professionally.  I see how I am cycling through feeling overwhelmed and feeling balanced.  As a professional organizer, I do feel a need to largely be balanced.  Yet I am human and therefore not perfect.  This also means that I can relate to many of the struggles my clients face.  So, what to do?

Most of us end up feeling overwhelmed at some point and even more often than sometimes.  I’ve talked about this before in Overwhelmed? and in Coping with Feeling Overwhelmed — all my points can help someone move through things even when feeling overwhelmed.  Except there’s something that probably needs to happen first – you need to consider what you need.

  • What’s contributing to your feelings of being overwhelmed?
  • When do you tend to feel this way?
  • What connections can you discover about this?
  • What would help you in the midst of this feeling?

There’s a time to push through, to take the first smaller steps of dealing with things.  Then there’s a time to give yourself a break.  Only you can hope to discover which of these is right for you.

If you are anything like me, you might be filled with self-doubt that you are going to be too easy on yourself.  How can one really, truly know when it’s time to allow some space instead of plodding ahead?

Are you able to step back and recognize your own tendencies with objectivity?  This world is filled with all types – and I tend toward that Type A driven personality.  I expect a lot of myself.  Meanwhile, there are some people who are comfortable and even yearn for all the time off they can get without any inner drive to do more.  Since I recognize that I can be hard on myself, I then can pause to consider if it’s time to give myself some slack.  This won’t necessarily eliminate the inner doubts, yet it’s a step in the right direction.

  • What are those things contributing to your feeling overwhelmed – and how critical are they?
    • How many of them could wait?
  • How much better could you accomplish them if you took some time to rejuvenate yourself?

There are times I wish I could disappear for just a little while – yet for me that feels too much like trying to escape.  It usually improbable that we can abdicate all our responsibilities when we’re feeling overwhelmed.  This simply means that we need to identify the most important things to focus on – notice I said important – which doesn’t necessarily mean the most critical.  And what is most important for you might be completely unique to you.

As with everything I write about – there is no one way of doing anything – and that includes how to take the best care of yourself.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed, I would encourage you to take that as a sign that it’s time for you to pause and consider what would help you to be revitalized.  Feeling stressed and overwhelmed is often a signal that something is out of balance – figuring out what that is can only help you through it.

Thinking about Money

Sometimes I think money is thing that causes people the most anguish.  Even if you have “enough” it doesn’t eliminate the concerns and issues that come with needing money.  And really, how many of us feel like we actually have “enough” – there are so many unknowns in this world.  We tend to have strong opinions about how it should be spent or saved.  I’m not here to tell you any of those things, yet to encourage you to think about money more.

Several months ago my husband and I were talking about some purchases.  We checked prices online and it gave us pause.  The lovely picture we were considering for over the sofa was a bit more than we’d expected.  Since we’ve already recognized the temptation for making purchases without enough thought, we consoled ourselves that we weren’t making a decision in this moment.  There was time to see how we felt later and moved on with our day.

It was a weekend day and we headed to the Renaissance Faire.  We had a few vendors we wanted to visit and were considering a purchase there.  It’s a tapestry shop and we discovered these exquisite tapestries – a set of 4 – and it came with a discount when you buy at least 2.  Oh was I drooling over them.

Fortunately my husband and I had established a good pattern before buying anything unplanned.  We walk away.  We found a place to sit and talk about our thoughts regarding these tapestries.  He liked them as much as I did and had the same temptation to bring them home.  Still we moseyed along, visiting another vendor, knowing we still had time to get back and buy the tapestries.

Then something interesting happened.  My husband was struck with the irony that just that morning we were cringing about spending about the same amount on one thing yet somehow we weren’t reacting in the same way at the thought of buying several things.  We’d been sucked in by the idea that by getting more for the same money it somehow wasn’t the same – never mind that we’d get a discount for getting more than one.

It doesn’t matter what it was or how much – it’s about how varied we can be about things.  In one context, we pause and consider; in another, we barely pause and almost rush in.  We practice being thoughtful – controlling our impulses in order to discern what matters most to us.

Have you ever bought something and later regretted it?  I’d be surprised if you haven’t.  We’re working on cutting down on those regrets, hence why we walk away in the first place.

  • What is it about that thing that makes you want to take it home with you?
  • Will this feeling fade or will you feel the same way in a year?  Are there alternatives?
  • Are you simply wanting to buy and not so concerned with its use and value?
  • If you were to spend the money on this thing, is there something else you’d rather spend the money on?

Buying things is necessary – we all have to do it.  Yet how mindful are we of how and on what we spend our money?  If we begin to recognize our own patterns about money, we can take steps to lead a life that supports who we are and our values.  Money causes enough headaches; don’t let it cause you unnecessary pain.

By the way, the beautiful tapestries stayed with the vendor and the limited edition print was ordered a while later.  Months later this still feels like the right decision for us.