Wednesday
Oct122016

Making a Summer Wardrobe Capsule

There are days that I wish someone could wave a magic wand over my closet and make it all perfect. I am a simple girl with only a few wants. I want to open the door and know that I have the perfect outfit to wear. I don't want to spend a lot of money to make it happen. I want to work with what I have. Even as a professional organizer I continue to look for solutions.

 

About 9 months ago I divided my closet into seasons. Before that my closet was organized by color and sleeve length. And very organized! But living in the Midwest I really used only half of my clothes in the winter months and the other half in the summer months. I had a spare closet in my house so I had some flexibility with the space. I found out that there is a fancy term for dividing clothes into seasons and you can now use the fancy term too. It is called a capsule wardrobe. If you have never heard of a capsule wardrobe type it in the search bar of Pinterest and you will be flooded with images.

 

Capsule Wardrobe can be defined as a set of clothing, typically around 30 items that are considered essential pieces to create a wide variety of outfits for all occasions created seasonally.

 

I do mine twice a year, I do not create ones for all four seasons. Because of where I live, it is difficult to do it four times a year. In May I could be wearing a dress or a sweater depending on the weather. The swing of temperatures can even happen in one day.

 

Here are things I have used to help me figure out my capsules:

 

1. Clothes that make me happy. I am done wearing clothes that don't bring me joy. I usually gravitate towards things with color and patterns. Needless to say I am tall and can be found in a crowd with my vibrant clothes.  I want to grab a shirt and be happy when I put it on.

 

2. Clothes that make me feel beautiful.  Last week I put on two different tops that fit me but were not flattering. Just because it fits is not reason to keep it as part of your capsule. I truly need to feel beautiful in it. I am old enough that I don't need anyone to tell me what outfit makes me beautiful. But just in case I have my best friends that keep it real for me.

 

3. Focus on timeless pieces. I have one sweater that I have had for maybe four years. In fact I loved it so much I bought a second one as my first one got a hole in it. My closet now contains two basic black dresses that I love. I can put on a different necklace and a different pair of shoes and it looks like a different outfit. True capsules focus on the versatility of the basic pieces.

 

4. Focus on a number. The blogs I follow on this topic use the number 33. I just counted my clothes and I have 46 items. I do not count shoes, purses or jewelry. The hardcore capsule people do. My goal is to just get my clothing to 33. I know I could easily get rid of 13 items right now if I had to. I have found with my organizing clients that they like have a number as a goal. Pick you number and see what you come up with.

 

5. Give yourself permission to not be perfect. Going hardcore with 33 pieces is a daunting task for most of us. If you work in a professional setting and go out in the evenings it can be even more difficult. My life is pretty flexible so I don't need to worry about wearing the same thing to work everyday. In fact you will find me wearing some clothes two days in a row because I only wore them for three hours the day before. As long as I am not seeing the same group of people I am ok with that.

 

The goal in all of this is to realize that you have enough clothes already. We really wear our favorite pieces over and over again. Why not take the time and focus on the ones you wear and removes the ones you don't. I moved the ones I don't wear to another closet. I had already pulled the ones to donate and consign. Some people box them up and donate them after a few months of not wearing them.

 

Take some time this week to have a look at your closet and start putting your summer capsule together. And don't forget the most important part in all of this, to have fun. Call your friends and make a party of it!

 

 

To Joyful, Simplified Organizing,

 

 

MS. Simplicity

 

 

 

 

Melissa is a Productivity Consultant and author living in Fargo, North Dakota doing her best of living a life full of adventure. Filling a life of memories and not of things! 

 

 

 

Melissa's e-book on Kitchen Organizing can be found on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday
Oct122016

What if Hurry and Stress Went Away?

Here is a really bold statement: one day I decided that hurry and stress were no longer going to be a part of my life. I knew that I function at a high energy level. But I am tired, like bone dead tired. I have people tell me that they don't understand how I can get so much done in the regular 24 hour day. Yes I get a lot done but what was the sacrifice? If you looked at picture of me in the last year you can see the stress on my face and body. You could see the weight creep back on my body and the worry in my eyes. I worked hard four years ago sheading more than the weight. But over the last few years it has settled back on my body.

 

I allowed the stress to come in and take over my day to day operation. It caused me to not have family meal time. It allowed me to fall into bed exhausted every night. It had me awake at night filled with worry and dread. It didn't allow me to go and exercise and sweat out the stress.

 

But my brain finally said enough. It told me to stop and to start paying attention to what was happening. And the beauty of being aware and waking up is the answer was right in front of me. I felt like Sleeping Beauty waking up after a long sleep.

 

I have had two friends tell me in the last week that they hope that my whirlwind life calms down. What? I thought that everyone worked at this pace and my life was calming down? I think this hit me in the face last week while I was sitting in an ER with my middle son a thousand miles from home with only hours remaining of putting him on a plane to Hong Kong where he would intern for 8 weeks. I really had to calm myself down. I kept exhaling loudly in the ER. He kept asking me what was wrong with me. I said I am trying to remind myself to breathe. No joke. I found myself holding my breathe involuntarily.

 

I have had to break the habit of no longer being in a hurry. I thought I only had one speed and it was fast forward. I remember telling a friend in the mental health field that I thought I had ADHD. She laughed at me and told me I was just a busy mom with too much going on.

 

Here are a few things that I have been doing to rewire my brain and to learn to no longer be in a hurry and to stop the stress.

 

Start your morning with intention. Take time to meditate, pray or start with gratitude. When I start this way my whole day seems to go better. I like to visualize how my day is going to go and then I go out and make it happen.

 

Pay attention to your breath. I don't know when I learned to hold my breathe during times of stress, but it is a skill that I have mastered. At times I have had a note on the dash of my car reminding me to breathe. How bad can I be if I have to write a note to remind me?

 

Remove yourself from toxic situations. If you find yourself gathering around the proverbial water cooler and gathering gossip, stop. Just stop. If you are not supporting and lifting people up in all situations make sure that you take yourself out of the situation. For some it may be not logging onto Facebook for the daily hit of peeking into the private lives that people put on public display. For others it could be delaying replies to gossipy texts.

 

Find an activity to center you and help bring peace and calm back to your life. I love taking a bath to help relax me. There are some days that I would be in the tub twice. I kept waiting for that Calgon moment to take me away. But even when I was in the tub I wasn't able to escape. I finally found a meditation Pandora station that I would play that would help me learn to relax. In order to bring peace during the work day, my husband takes a walk over his lunch hour, by himself. He is a quiet person and for him to just escape and be by himself relaxes him.

 

Pay attention to when you are stuck in traffic. When that red light hits and sit in my car and breathe. If I am stuck in road construction traffic I pause and think about what is going on in my life. There is a reason that I am stuck with the traffic of the light or the train, give pause and think about what it is. Don't be frustrated, just sit in the moment and think and perhaps look at the post it note on your dash and remember to breathe.

 

If you are like me and find your life full of stress and you always seem to be in a hurry, take time to pause this week and simply start to breathe again.

 

 

To Joyful, Simplified Organizing,

 

 

MS. Simplicity

 

 

Melissa is a Productivity Consultant and author living in Fargo, North Dakota doing her best of living a life full of adventure. Filling a life of memories and not of things! 

 

Melissa's e-book on Kitchen Organizing can be found on Amazon.

 

 

 

Wednesday
Oct122016

Tale of Two Closets

 

 

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times and I had nothing to wear. This is a refrain spoken by women (yes I know I am generalizing but I am a woman so it is my prerogative). I have a large closet with lots of clothes that I mostly don’t wear. Last fall I did an experiment to see what I actually wore. I created a capsule wardrobe with items that would mix and match easily. I removed all other clothes from my closet to an empty closet in my house. It felt good having the empty space in my closet. It was pretty looking at all the color coordinating items in my closet.

 

I discovered a few things while doing this experiment. First I found I still grabbed only a few items over and over again. I had my boyfriend jeans that hung lose on me and rolled at the ankles. I had my oversized sweater cardigan with the pockets. And I had a super soft long sleeved shirt in a charcoal gray. I felt comfy. That is my style, comfy. Midwest winters get harsh and I wanted to be warm and this outfit worked perfect. I would change my look from time to time by wearing one of my signature necklaces.

 

Second, I discovered that I still had nothing to wear. Despite my creation of capsules I still looked at my limited items of clothes and struggled. So I did what we all do, I put on the same thing over and over again. It was almost like I had a uniform. I found myself more and more wearing sweats for most of the day. I work from home so few people see me. I also found myself apologizing to my husband as he came home and saw me wearing the same thing every night. I would laugh and swear that I left the house and wore something besides my yoga clothes or my boyfriend jeans cardigan sweater combo.

 

But why do we wear the same thing over and over again? My capsule of 30 pieces of clothing could easily have been 10. I understand the theory of Pareto’s Principal of the 80/20 rule. I was in fact living it on a small scale. No longer did I decide from 150 pieces of clothing, but from 30. I still picked the same ones over and over.

 

Oh and those clothes in another closet were not ignored. I would go downstairs and visit my other clothes from time to time. I enjoyed seeing their flamboyant patterns and bright colors. I thought wistfully to myself that I will one day again wear that flower dress and the white jeans that are too small and the fun shirt with the funky pattern. But even with extra clothes to choose from, I really had no desire to even wear them. I still was left with the feeling that I had nothing to wear.

 

I will say that I am good at one thing and that is not buying new clothes. I had no desire to shop. It really isn’t my thing. I shop just a few times a year and buy my essentials and am happy. If you are discontent with the items in your closet, please do not think that adding more will solve the problem. Having more does not make this problem go away.

 

I discovered a few other things regarding my thought process that may also go through your head when you have nothing to wear.

 

I turn to the same comfy clothes all the time. When I do buy new clothes I need to try them on. I need to make sure that the gold thread or the 10% wool or the tag on the back does not itch me. I have plenty of very nice clothes that fit and I simply pass over because the fabric in some way irritates me.

 

I wear clothes that people complimented me on. It feels good to be told you look nice in something. Yes my hubby is great at the complements but we have been married for a long time and I don’t always ‘hear” him like I should. But when a friend or a stranger tells me I look nice I take notice. This indicates to me that I need to tell people when they look great as well. Today I told the man in front of me in the TSA line that he had a great suit on. He thanked me and quickly broke eye contact as I think I surprised him with my Midwest nice. It feels good to surprise someone with a compliment, so sprinkle those everywhere.

 

I need to figure out the story with why I am saving clothing. Did I spend too much money on it? Did I receive it as a gift? Did I need to lose 10 pounds to have it fit? Other people may have the story of not having nice clothes as a child, or not being able to afford them. And believe me, I have seen my share of messy closets where the clothing simply cannot be accessed in a reasonable manner.

 

If you struggle with the same problem I have, take some time to see what your clothes story is. Promise me though that you will not buy any more clothes until you figure out your story. Your story will be individual to you. We all have one. Mine is that I want to look fashionable but be comfortable. I am on the hunt for the comfy and classy wardrobe. I am almost there. The last six months have been a fun social experiment in my own closet and I have learned a lot about my style.

 

 

To Joyful, Simplified Organizing,

 

 

MS. Simplicity

 

 

Melissa is a Productivity Consultant living in Fargo, North Dakota doing her best of living a life full of adventure. Filling a life of memories and not of things!  

Melissa's e-book on Kitchen Organizing can be found on Amazon

Wednesday
Oct122016

The Answer to Simplicity is not a Better Basket or Storage Vessel

When a client calls me for their initial consultation they typically ask me two questions. The first question is how much can we accomplish in the three hours we work together. The second question is wondering what they should purchase to prepare for our session.

 

The answer to the first question is easy, it all depends on their level of motivation. Some clients have a hard time going through a stack of birthday cards. While others can plow through a kitchen in three hours. I match their level of speed and try to increase it. Paper clutter is some of the most time consuming clutter we conquer. It is important to be gentle with yourself when sorting paper, as it is very tedious.

 

I can usually tell during a conversation how motivated my clients are. I will be honest with them and if I go to their house and all they want is for me is to swirl their clutter, I will leave. I don’t want to take money from someone who is not motivated.

 

The second question is easy as well. About 99% of my clients do not need to purchase anything after we have an organizing session. This may surprise you and you may be saying to yourself that your stuff needs to be put in containers and look all pretty. Let me tell you a secret, you already own everything you need.

 

Most of my clients are organizers at heart. They see a bin or a pretty basket and they buy it. When we are cleaning out their clutter and I am left with what remains, I ask them if they have a certain bin or basket. Almost 100% of the time they leave and come back with the perfect container. I see a glint in their eye and they dash out of the room and return with a sense of finishing a marathon with a basket held high above their head. I want to play some music to celebrate their accomplishment, like the theme from “Rocky” when he climbs those famous steps. The words that follow are almost always the same, “I had this laying around waiting for the perfect opportunity to use it.”

 

A friend reminded me today of a message I had written about but had forgotten, that the answer to simplicity is not a better basket or storage vessel. That keeping your stuff in better stuff just means that you have more stuff. While good and practical storage containers can be useful, going on a buying binge in IKEA isn’t going to free you of the clutter.

 

I think I surprise each of my clients when we work together that I do not pressure them to buy more stuff. I am there to get rid of clutter, not force them to buy more things. Once their clutter is cleared suddenly they have extra hangers, drawer and counter space. There is a sense of freedom with the new found open areas.

 

So this week I challenge you to start clearing clutter and see if you need more boxes or if you already have them in your possession. The first step to organizing is clearing the clutter, not shopping.

 

 

 

To Joyful, Simplified Organizing,

 

MS. Simplicity

 

Melissa is a Productivity Consultant living in Fargo, North Dakota doing her best of living a life full of adventure. Filling a life of memories and not of things! 

Melissa's e-book on Kitchen Organizing can be found on Amazon

Wednesday
Oct122016

Being a Lifelong Learner

Last year I set a goal of reading a book a week. I read 37 books and felt I could have worked a little harder and read a few more. This year I decided to see if I could do it again. I just checked my list of books that I have read so far, and I am at 6 books. Uggg….that is barely a book a month. Wow I am a little disappointed in myself. I can tell that my tank is empty. To me reading fills me up, always has. Reading allows me to escape to distant lands or times. Reading allows me to learn a new skill or perfect an old one. Reading is a way to light my spark. My spark is really not there. I have too much on my mind and I get stuck with work or personal issues in my head and I stop to go to the escape that a good book provides.

 

My middle son is home for a bit from college and I saw him reading something on his Surface. I told him how I really admired him that he was a lifelong learner. All of my kids are. We visited my oldest last week and we passed a used book store that he works near and he commented that he should go and buy a new book. Both my youngest and oldest were known in their school libraries. My middle son is always recommending business books to me.

 

When I made the comment to my middle son about how proud I was that I raised children who are lifelong learners he told me the importance of curiosity. Over the last few years I watched him do daily French lessons on a site called duolingo where he now holds a certificate from his University saying that he is fluid in French. I also watched him teach himself a programming language as he thought it would help in business if he could understand programming. Yesterday he was studying art history for the fun of it.

 

What happens when you are a lifelong learner? You can hold conversations that can be in depth and not superficial. You get past the basic watercooler conversations of reality TV, the weather and sports. Even though we don’t have cable TV I have found that I am wasting too much time on mindless activities. Sadly I have not been spending my free time wisely since my book consumption is so low.

 

How startling is the lack of reading our country is doing?

 

·       The average person watches TV 2.7 hours a day and reads for only 18 minutes.

 

·       33% of high school graduates never read another book the rest of their lives

 

·       42% of college graduates never read another book after college.

 

·       80% of US families did not buy or read a book in the last year.

 

·       Reading one hour per day in your chosen field will make you an international expert in 7 years.

 

·       57% of new books are not read to completion.

 

I like to read both digital download and physical books. While physical books add clutter, there is still something satisfying about holding a book in your hand. The smell of the pages are almost nostalgic. Right now I have three books that are following me around in my travel bag to read. I just ordered two more today. I do not want to fall into that statistic of 57% of new books not being read to completion.

 

If you are someone that has a stack of books that have been not been completed here is a challenge for you.

 

1.       Gather all of your unread books into one place.

 

2.       Sort into piles of, want to read right away and will read once you get some time.

 

3.       Take a look at how realistic your time is with the amount of books that you have. If you have more books than time, donate the pile that you will read once you get some time. Be ok with letting them go.

 

4.       Put a post it note on the ones that are staying. Set a goal of when you will have the books read by and write the date on the note. Order the books by priority and start reading. Once the date has passed put it in your donation pile. Set a goal and stick with it. You will start to find pockets of time where you can suddenly read for 15 minutes.

 

5.       Celebrates success by buying or borrowing a new book! Take a look at your local library or used book store for low priced options.

 

6.       Get your friends and family onboard and start challenges with each other.

 

But what if you are not a reader? There are so many options out there to support you in becoming a lifelong learner and keep your curiosity alive.  I challenge you to find something that sparks your interest and learn everything that you can about it. Take a class, watch YouTube videos, listen to podcasts or attend a conference. Just do something.

 

And remember, learning is sexy!

 

To Joyful, Simplified Organizing,

 

MS. Simplicity

 

Melissa is a Productivity Consultant living in Fargo, North Dakota doing her best of living a life full of adventure. Filling a life of memories and not of things!  

Melissa's e-book on Kitchen Organizing can be found on Amazon