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Friday, June 02 2017
MEMORIES vs. CLUTTER

I was recently listening to NPR (National Public Radio) and heard a story about a book called "Salthouses" -https://www.halaalyan.com/salt-houses/.    

“The war may have only lasted six days, but its impact echoes through generations of a Palestinian family in this ambitious debut novel…This is a moving story about a family’s battle to salvage what remains when their home is taken away.” - —Booklist

Aside from the interesting topic, I was drawn to the fact that the author spoke about how the family in this story was so traumatized by their experience that it had lingering effects that lasted for years to come. 

They felt that because they had been displaced for forced to move away from their homeland, they did not "belong" anywhere. They could never return. As a result, their photos and other physical momentos are so important to them, so much more than others might find themselves to be.

I began to realize that aside from refugees, people who have had a great loss in their life - whether it is a loss of a home due to fire, the loss of a beloved family member or other type of trauma could experience the same intense need to hold onto their possessions in order to feel a sense of identity and belonging.

There is a direct correlation between traumatic loss and the need to fill a space with physical contents. An example of this is a hoarder.

As a professional organizer, I recognize the need to be sensative to my clients' individual experiences and life history when helping them eliminate the clutter in their homes and their lives. I then can help them get organized. My goal is always to create an environment for them where they can function efficiently and create a home in which to live and enjoy.

There is a difference between memories and clutter and I help my clients go through the process of making those determinations in a supportive and understanding way. 

If you are struggling with determining what to keep and what to get rid of, contact me at A Better Space. I am here to help. 

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 01:03 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, October 01 2015
SO, WHAT IS IT THAT YOU DO, EXACTLY?

Most people these days understand what a Professional Organizer does.  We have come a long way from the days when people thought we were a cleaning service or an interior designer.  We have magazines, newspaper articles, social media and the like to thank for that.  Over the years, since I began my business in 2004, you cannot miss seeing tips on how to eliminate clutter, get organized, set up a garage sale, etc.  

However, I still get the question from time to time "So, what is it that you do exactly?".  

I thought this might be an opportunity to explain in greater the detail just exactly what a Professional Organizer, such as myself, does to help my clients get and stay organized, and the advantages of hiring a professional, as opposed to going it alone.

First of all, you do not need to be a packrat or a hoarder to need the services of a Professional Organizer.  Although most professional organizers are skilled in these areas, there are so many other areas that we help with.

For example, there are those that are overwhelmed, not sure how to begin, too stressed out, too limited with their time causing an organizing project to take them too long to complete on their own, unable to envision a room or an entire home that is de-cluttered and organized, or in need of new ideas for space planning, interior redesign, paper management systems, tools for better time management.    

Sometimes, a husband and wife will hire a professional organizer because one of them tends to be neater than the other and is frustrated.  They cannot motivate their spouse to "get onboard".  A third party like me can be objective and provide an unbiased, new perspective of the situation and find the middle ground that works for both spouses, relieving the strain this issue is causing in the marriage.

What you see on TV shows such as Hoarders or other reality TV shows sometimes provide a distorted idea of what is involved. In reality, your clutter problems cannot be solved in a 30 minute episode.  

There is more to being a professional organizer than just setting up three containers marked "Keep", "Toss" and "Donate" and shopping for product that will magically transform your space into a home that looks like a designers catalog. The key is "comfort".  Providing a space or a home that you enjoy spending time in is the goal.    

A misconception is that you are "lazy" if you cannot get organized on your own.  I hear this time and time again from women who tell me that their husbands cannot understand why they just can't do it themselves.  I always say, if they could, they would have by now.  

As a Professional Organizer, I am trained and skilled to help people overcome the obstacles they are facing and create order in a comfortable setting and put in organizational systems that will work in the long term.  I always provide customized options to meet my clients' specific needs.  I have many resources available to me that I share with my clients, including contractors, organizing products, donation sites, etc. that they might not be aware of.  I help make those decisions about "what" to keep, trash and donate when my clients are not sure.  

One of the biggest benefits of working with a Professional Organizer is their ability to set up a system that will prevent you from falling back into old habits that no longer serve you.  My focus is not on the "stuff", but the person and tapping into what works best for them.  

Sometimes, I work with clients who are preparing for change in their life - whether it be a new baby, empty nesters, new business, downsizing and staging a home for sale.  The list goes on.    

Organizing is more complex than just "picking up your stuff" and paying someone to haul it out of your house. It's about dealing with tangle items, time management issues and the anxiety of finding a solution. 

These are some of the top reasons that I am contacted to help get people organized:

1. They don't know how to get organized or where to start.

2.  They don't have the time to spend doing it all on their own.

3.  They want that accountability partner and motivator to keep them on track to get the job done.

This is not a situation where, like on TV, you leave, I do all the work, and you come back to a big reveal.  We are a team and we work together to provide you with the best solutions that meet your specific needs.  No television show, book or magazine article can provide that.  

That is what A BETTER SPACE provides and now, you no longer have to ask "So, what is it you do, exactly?"

If you are ready to get past that feeling of overwhelm and frustration that the clutter or lack of systems in your home which is keeping you from moving forward, don't hesitate to contact me.  I am more than happy to speak with you about your particular sitation and provide you with solutions that work.  

You deserve A BETTER SPACE!

  

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 01:07 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, February 19 2013

I cannot tell you how many times people say to me "My husband/wife/partner/roomate has so much clutter" or "They are such a slob" or "I think my spouse is a hoarder".  I hear the frustration in their voice and their struggle to understand.

I thought perhaps that I might be able to help you understand why.

The tendency to accumulate items on flat surfaces is, contrary to popular belief, not necessarily because of a psychological issue.

There are other possibilities:  

  • Some people simply prefer the visual aesthetic of many items. (It gives them comfort.)
  • Some people have a hard time remembering where things are so they find them more easily if they are out in the open.  (I believe that if something is put in a logical place, it can be found.) 
  • Some people have positive memories associated with photos and knick-knacks.  (I believe that several items can evoke the same emotion or memory as a lot of items and therefore, you only need to keep out a few at a time.)
  • Some people have issues with visual processing and literally don't see the items that others consider "clutter".  (My son is a perfect example of that!)
  • Some people feel it is a waste of time to put things away when they're just going to use them again.  (i.e. Why make the bed every morning when you are only going to sleep in it again that night!)
  • Some people say they don't care about how their space looks.  (I have to believe they also don't care about themselves either.)  
  • Some people say they have other pressing problems and don't have the energy to put things away.  (This is common among people who are depressed.)  
  • Some people say their schedules are so packed that they don't have time to put things away. (My theory has always been that if you put them away as you go, it will not be a project.  I believe you can find 10 minutes at the end of the day putting things away if you cannot find time throughout the day.)

You might personally be trying to overcome this tendency yourself or, perhaps, you are frustrated with your spouse or significant other.

If you can pinpoint the source of the clutter habits, I believe you can find a solution.  If you need assistance in determining why the clutter continues to exist, contact me.  I can help.

In the meantime, have a great week!  

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 01:34 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, July 31 2012

Are you familiar with an old song done by Neil Sedaka - Breaking Up Is Hard To Do? 

Well, he's right.  I recently ended a long relationship with a man and it was so hard to do.  It took me some time to get up the nerve to do it and prepare my thoughts for how I was going to break the news to him.  It included lots of anxiety.  Now that it is behind me, I am experiencing a sense of relief.  I have cleared space in my life for new opportunities. 

It got me thinking that the same is true when you are in the process of decluttering and parting with items that you believe are so near and dear to your heart that you can have anxiety attacks, become frozen and emotionally distraught.  

Eliminating clutter can be difficult and overwhelming at times, especially when you have to make those tough decisions about certain items.  As a professional organizer, I work with most of my clients, at one point or another, on just such issues.  Sometimes there are tears, anxiety or even resistence to what they know, deep down inside, needs to be done.

Emotional attachment issues connected with material things need to be dealt with by taking small manageable steps.  I always tell my clients that, although they may have collections of items from a relative or friend that either passed away or reminds them of a special time in their life, they all tend to evoke the same memory and can be downsized considerably without erasing the memory of the person or event.  People are afraid that they will forget - they won't.

Sometimes it's guilt that prevents them from getting rid of things.  Someone gave it to them and, although they don't particularly like the item, or collection of items, they've held onto them because they feel bad about letting them go.  

My philosophy is that once the item is given to someone, the giver of the item gives up their right to it and it becomes the responsibility of the person they gave it to.  It is up to that person to decide whether to keep it or get rid of it.  If the giver is keeping such close tabs on what they give to you, causing guilt, you need to have a conversation with that person.  This emotional burden needs to be lifted.

Being realistic about what makes sense to hold on to and what makes sense to get rid of is not always easy.  It helps to remember that less is more.  As in ending a relationship with a person, ending a relationship with a material thing can be very very difficult, yet very freeing.

Although "breaking up IS hard to do", it can be done.  By eliminating the clutter that inhabits your space and that sense of overwhelm that comes as a result, you will feel free as well.   

If you are having trouble letting go of those items, utilizing the services of a professional organizer can help. 

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 09:05 am   |  Permalink   |  2 Comments  |  Email
Friday, May 14 2010

I have worked with so many people in the past 6 years and am so fortunate to be able to help all kinds  - women, men, children, busy moms, entrepreneurs, younger, older, single, married, divorced, widowed.

There are times when I work with someone who believes they have a strong emotional attachment to certain items in their home and feel they cannot let go of them. Sometimes, however, when we delve a little deeper, we discover together that it's not the emotional attachment to the item itself, but the guilt of letting go of an item that formerly belonged to someone who has passed away.

This situation occurred recently with one of my clients.  She has been widowed for quite some time now and still has possessions that belonged to her late husband's mother in her home.  She has held onto these items for many years.  Among other things, she had a large box of linens from her late mother-in-law. 

When we were going through the items, I explained that it is not necessary to keep "all" of the items to evoke a positive memory of that person.  The important part is not the item, but rather the memory it evokes and holding on to numerous like-items becomes clutter.

Another issue that arose is the fact that she felt guilty for letting go of the items she knew she did not want to keep.  I helped her recognize that now that her husband and his mother are deceased, and she possesses the items, it is now her decision as to what is to be done with them. 

Letting go of a deceased person's possessions falls on the current owner to decide what to do with them and that's okay.  With that realization, my client was able to easily let go of all but a few linens which will be kept in a special box (much smaller than the one she originally held them in).  Some were in poor condition and were thrown away, but since there remained others still in good condition, they were donated, so that others could enjoy them.

When you inherit items as a result of someone passing away, look carefully at the items and decide whether you LIKE them or not.  Don't hold onto something simply because someone gave it to you.  If you don't like it or need, it's perfectly fine to pass it on to someone else.  Don't keep anything out of guilt!  Your home should reflect what you like and enjoy.  

If you are feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of getting organized, please feel free to contact me at A BETTER SPACE.  I will be glad to help you weed through your possessions, eliminate the clutter and assist you in making the right choice as to what to keep and what to get rid of.

In the meantime, have a great week!

 

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 09:49 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, March 27 2009

I recently finished working on a clean-out involving a home owned by a "hoarder". 

What is a hoarder, you ask?

A hoarder is a person who suffers from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) a compulsive behavior wherein they are unable to control the amount of stuff they bring into their home and save.  They continue to save and save until the clutter starts to create problems in living.  It get's to the point where the possessions own them rather than the other way around.

Compulsive hoarding is thought to be present when the following criteria is met:

1.  You accumulate and then have great difficulty discarding objects that most other people would consider useless or of limited value.

2.  The clutter is so severe that it prevents or seriously limits the use of living spaces in the manner for which those spaces are intended.

3.  The clutter, acquiring or difficulty dicarding causes significant impairment or distress.

The good news is, however, that compulsive hoarding is recognized as a diagnosable (and treatable) behavioral syndrome.

This is a complex condition that requires the support of family, friends, psychologist and professional organizer.

My role in my recent project, as a professional organizer, was to coordinate a plan and implement it with a team of assistants to systematically work through the home to clear it of it's excess and return the home back to where it is again functional and enjoyable. 

Now that the "clean-out" has been completed, I will continue to work with my client to show her how to make choices and set limits as to what comes into the home.  My work will be supplemented with the help of a psychologist to work with the client to get to the route of the problem.  (In most cases, hoarding is triggered by a traumatic occurrence, i.e. death of a loved one, which brings on loneliness.  The loneliness is then substituted with this uncontrollable desire to go to a store or garage sales or even, in some cases, trash dumps to bring items into the home to fill that void.) 

The result of hoarding is that the person can no longer function in the home.  The piles of possessions continue to grow in every room of the home until they cannot open the front door, walk down a hallway without stepping on piles of "stuff", climb the stairs, eat or cook in the kitchen or even use the shower or bathtub because they are filled with "stuff".

If you think that you or someone you know has the symptoms of hoarding, there is help.  Contact A BETTER SPACE for more information.

 

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 09:32 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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