My friend and Yogini extraordinaire, Deborah Saliby, called me on Sunday asking for my advice.
Deborah has been teaching Yoga for more than thirty years. There are a lot of Yoga teachers out there but relatively few hold the special certification that she does in Iyengar training. The certification signifies that she has undergone extensive training as an instructor in a particular method of Hatha Yoga called Iyengar, named for B.K.S. Iyengar, one of the foremost Yoga teachers in the world.
Whenever I have a question about Yoga, I call Deborah. The moment I feel like my body, mind and spirit are crying out for a little restoration, Deborah is the first person I think of. On Sunday, however, after her class, Deborah’s mind and spirit were crying out for a different kind of restoration, in her home. I am grateful she called me.
“I want to organize three closets in my house,” she told me,
“but I’m not sure where to start.” She asked if I would mind sharing some of my professional organizing tips. “Of course,” I told her. I enjoy it when anyone calls me with a specific organizing question. To me if you are willing to ask the question, you are definitely in the mindset to get organized.
As a professional organizer, the most common questions I get involve the how and where of organizing, as in “how do I do this?” or “where do I start?” Typically this follows an extended period of gradual awareness which eventually transforms into “I really wish my (fill in the blank) was more organized. But it’s not until the defining moment when the thought, “today is the day I’m going to do something about it,” that change can occur.
For my friend Deborah that moment came after she got home from teaching one of the many Yoga classes she leads in Berkeley, California.
“So where do you want to start?” I asked. “I don’t know, she said. So I probed a little more. “Which of your closets bugs you the most, that is, which has the most impact on your daily life? “My bedroom closet where I keep all my clothes,” she said, with a little giggle, “you know how much I love to shop?”
“Okay,” I said. “So why do you want to do this at all?” She explained to me that she wanted to hold a sidewalk sale. “Yes,” I said, “that’s good, but why do you want to get organized?” I asked again. “Because I can’t stand looking at the mess in my closet anymore. I know I have a lot of nice things in there that I don’t want anymore and half the time I can’t find what I’m looking for. I’m wasting time and I want to be able to wear what I love.”
Deborah understood what was bothering her about her closet but even more she knew what organizing it would mean to her (not to anyone else) and she was motivated. Plus she had the added incentive of making a little extra money. I told her, “Yeah, you could sell all the clothes you don’t want anymore and with the money you make go out and buy new ones.” We both laughed.
I offered Deborah a step-by-step plan to get all three of her closets organized. I shared some strategies for how to overcome some predictable obstacles such as what to do with items that had more “emotional value” than “wear-value.” I took her through exactly what I would do with her if I were physically doing the work with her and then I asked her if she had any questions. “Nope, I’ve got it.”
Before we hung up I told her to feel free to call me when she was done with the first closet. Even though Deborah was doing this for herself, I wanted her to know that I was interested in hearing about her progress.
The next day, Deborah did call. She sounded really happy. She told me how she had followed my plan including emptying the entire closet first, sorting items by category, parting with what she no longer used, wore, or loved and got rid of things that brought in bad “mojo.” She reorganized the items she kept by type and color and put aside those things she plans to include in her sidewalk sale. In total it took her two hours. I was impressed.
I offered Deborah some final tips about items she was still undecided about and suggested some ways to contain items on the shelves using what she already had around her house, before saying goodbye.
After we hung up I went in to my living room and took a big breath and stretched. Thank you for that, Deborah.
Have a question about organizing? Getting ready to move or start a home renovation project and need to get things packed, donated and organized? Call or email me. I promise you’ll come away with something you can use.
As I told Deborah, I love to be a catalyst for change.