Sunday, April 19, 2015

It's on Sale!

$1 off the Kindle edition of Casting the First Stone, for a limited time. Anybody thinking beach reads yet? :-)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Saturday Special: Closet Inspirations
Inspired by this week's thoughts of organized rectangular spaces, I tackled three of my (kitchen and dining room) drawers yesterday (when really all I meant to do was empty the dishwasher). Now, if only the dining room table looked as good as the insides of the drawers!

I've also been spending some time on Pinterest, looking for pictures of drawers and closets that inspire me with not only the end product, but how easy it would be to replicate. This board is a work-in-progress; it's very small now, but I'll keep adding to it during future Pinterest binges.

And that was the driving force behind today's Saturday Special. I wanted to find something photo-heavy -- pictures of closets that look good, but don't require a budget that rivals a month's pay, and would be do-able for someone (like me) who suddenly gets inspired to make a change, but only has a few hours to kick off that change.

Since HGTV's (now defunct) Mission: Organization (recommended by my sister) got me started on this journey, it seemed only fitting to use an HGTV resource today. And for those who dare to drool, check out the last picture in this Babble piece!

Whatever you're doing with your Saturday, have fun! And, if you're making progress on your organizational journey, please share your successes in the comments here!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday Freebie: Mysterious Lyrics
As someone who has fond memories of singing "American Pie" (in harmony, no less) over pizza after theatre rehearsals, I had to choose "'American Pie' and the History of Mysterious Rock Lyrics" as this week's Friday Freebie. This song, like so many others, brings back a flood of memories, including discussions about the "deeper meanings" of song lyrics.

My favorite one of these chats took place in my friend Alison's room our senior year in college as she and Cindy and I attempted to decode "Jungleland" one Friday evening. We never did come to a consensus, but we had a great discussion nevertheless.

How about you? What song lyrics leave you puzzling?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Big, Rectangular Space
Imagine a typical bedroom. What large storage spaces come immediately to mind? 

Closets and dressers, right? Great for some styles, but a nightmare for others.

If they're a nightmare for your style, what do you do? These aren't exactly organizers you can replace at the dollar store. 

Ah, but you might be surprised.

Take another look in the closet. What's neat and what's not? Are clothes hanging from the rod, or strewn across the closet floor? Are shoes lined up in pairs, or tossed haphazardly? Can you see what's in your closet at a glance, or is your closet more like Fibber McGee's?

If you're a cram and jammer, that last description probably fits. If you're an I need to see it person, clothes are probably hanging from the rod, but they may be hanging from other hangers, too, as you mixed and matched in an endeavor to put outfits together. And the I know I put it somewhere person may find all sorts of forgotten treasures tucked in among the clothes.

So how do you make these large spaces work? 

Let's begin with the closet. At its most basic level, a closet is a big, rectangular space. Once upon a time, a Type A organizer decided that closet should come complete with hanging rods and a shelf (or more, if you have the luxury of a walk-in closet). And the Type A organizer, a rule follower who likes hanging rods and shelves, lived happily ever after.

Maybe -- just maybe -- you're not a Type A organizer. If you aren't using the space as it is, redesign it to suit your style. 

Take another look in the closet, keeping in mind that everything you see is a style clue, not a character flaw. What parts of that rectangular space are you using well? 

Cram and jammers might love the lone shelf -- so much so that it's packed with clothes. And the rod? Well, it may have clothes on it, too, even if they're draped over the rod rather than hung on it.
I need to see it folks may have the opposite problem. Because hanging things on the rod allows them to see what they have, the rod may be packed. It might even be "coded" by color or season. The shelves may be sparsely populated, so the owner of the closet can see what he or she has, or they may house a haphazard mix of colors and fabrics. If the I need to see it person has figured out his or her style, the shelf might even be neatly organized. 

Similarly, I know I put it somewhere organizers might actually be using this particular space very well, with the possible exception of those buried treasures. But, if they remember that the closet is where those treasures are housed, and they have space for them there, who am I to say that they should go somewhere else?
If your closet is working for you, take a moment to celebrate. Maintaining an organized closet is no small feat. If it's not working for you, it's likely that the set-up is the problem. Re-think. Re-organize. What would work better? Can you use your containers to make that happen?

Next week, we'll talk about the personal styles when it comes to closets and drawers, as well as ideas for rearranging the narrow rectangular spaces that are drawers. Meanwhile, here are a few things to think about.

Standard issue isn't always standard. Do you need to ditch the rod? Add another one below it for shorter hanging things? Add more shelves? Roll in some clear drawer units?

Divide and conquer. If you're storing more than clothes in your closet, how can you create distinct, logical homes for everything that's housed there so you can find what you need quickly?

A season for everything. If your closet is overstuffed with clothes for all four seasons, what might be a logical home for your out-of-season items? 

But I live here! Is your closet a logical home for everything that's stored there? 

One final caveat. I'm not suggesting a complete (expensive) closet overhaul -- just a re-vision of your space and how you're using it. Even if you can't replace your closet itself with organizers from the dollar store, you might find a few things there that will help you whip this large, rectangular space into shape in a budget-friendly fashion. I'm thinking that the bins below might be a great way to organize my closet shelf.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Money and a Room of One's Own
When I retired from public education, I knew there would be things I wouldn't miss. Early morning meetings. Faculty meetings. Irrelevant inservices. (Are you sensing a theme?)

But it didn't take me long to realize that there's one thing I do miss: an office.

I also miss the people and the parts of the job I loved, of course, but I expected that. I didn't expect a small, cluttered room with hand-me-down furniture to leave a void.

At first, being able to work at home -- anywhere I wanted -- was exciting. Tired of sitting at a desk? Move to the sofa. Tired of the sofa? Relocate to the dining room table. Sick of the house, or just plain distracted? Head over to Starbucks.

The wardrobe was better, too. Well, not better quality or more professional -- just cheaper and more comfortable. Sweatshirts and pj bottoms were de rigeur and makeup was optional.

I'm not sure why it surprised me to discover that adjusting to this new lifestyle also required adjusting my perception of who I was. For 27 years, I'd been a professional educator and a semi-professional writer. My new work environment and wardrobe, though functional and comfortable, didn't feel like professional anything. And even though articles and books got written and edited, classes got planned and correspondence got sent -- all amid the comforts of home -- the lack of a traditional workspace, though romantic and freeing in theory, made the limbo created by an early retirement less gap than chasm.

A year into this adventure, I was hired as an adjunct professor, adding a new role to the midlife collage, and bringing with it an unexpected bonus.

Office hours.

Once a week, for an hour, I pulled an office chair up to an L-shaped desk in a shared room with little to offer in the way of decor -- a far cry from the crazy quilt of animal prints and bright colors that had been my home base in an elementary school across town.

And I loved it.

Three semesters later, my course load has grown and with it, my office hours. I'm required to offer an hour for each course I teach, but I typically spend more time in the office than that. It's peaceful -- mostly -- and the academic atmosphere fills a void I didn't expect to have, but that -- once again -- shouldn't have surprised me. After all, you can take the counselor out of the school, but, apparently, you can't take the school out of the counselor.

At home, I'm working on making my office less haphazard and more of a true workspace. My Wednesday posts (and new blog) on organization have nudged me toward more efficiency, as well as more personalization.

If Virgina Woolf is right, and "a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction," then I think, perhaps, I'm on the right track.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Saturday Special: Recapturing Time
As someone in perpetual organization mode who also writes about organization, I'm a sucker for any title that promises de-cluttering assistance. And when I see the word "clutter" in a title, my mind immediately goes to the physical stuff that creates a barrier between me and an organized life.

But in today's fantastic and optimistic article (Eleven Ways to De-Clutter Your Day), Jeff Haden offers tips on reclaiming an all-too-precious commodity: time. Even better, he makes it sound easy. I can just feel the extra minutes returning to me.

I'm planning on printing this piece out and using it as a sort of checklist (though I don't think he'd approve of that plan, based on tip #5). That way, I can pick one idea each week, chipping away at the list and recapturing lost minutes as I check the relevant items off my list.

How about you? Where will you start?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Friday Freebie: What I'm Reading in Ten Minutes or Less: Mantras
Aphorism: a terse saying embodying a general truth, or astute observation (according to 

Doesn't sound so great when you simply look at the definition, but when you find one that rings true? Quite a different story. 

I was drawn into "7 Mantras to Live By" by the colorful background behind the titles (which matches that behind my favorite mantra of the bunch, above) and I enjoyed reading the story of how the writer chose those particular aphorisms.

If I had to add one to the bunch, I'd go with one I struggle with often, though less often as I grow older: "Let go and let God."

What would you add?