In addition to the info on my About page, I'd like to share more of the backstory from the heart... for those of you, like me, who enjoy the details!
Back in 2008, my friend Kelly Woods said she had organized for other people to save up money for international trips she took. I was saving for a trip and sent out a newsletter saying I'd organize whatever they'd been putting off, if they'd make a donation to my trip account. A few people responded. Over the next few years, people continued to contact me here and there for projects, which I loved doing.
In Fall 2012, I took a 40 day cross-country road trip to organize for others immediately following a job loss and the closing of my handmade greeting card business. Both were unexpected and I was in a challenging spot in life. It was a wide open time of finding out what was next.
After losing my job + business in the same week, I prayed, "Lord, what's next?" He brought to my mind, "Clean out your closet." Not what I was wanting or expecting to hear, but I did just that. That spun into a massive month of de-cluttering and de-owning. I went into research mode on these topics, learned a lot about minimalism, discovered writers I still follow such as Joshua Becker and Courtney Carver, and still utilize many principles of what I learned in that time. I dreamed up this cross-country trip & decided to put my (freshly pared way down) stuff in storage and go for it.
During this road trip I visited families and individuals throughout my network and offered to serve whatever needs they had in their homes, in exchange for a place to stay. I am part of a church planting network that has churches all over the U.S. and world. With some help, I reached out to the pastors and staff in Oklahoma, Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Missouri. I also re-connected with several childhood and Aggie friends who had since moved to the Midwest. I wanted to be a blessing to them. I learned that I could have sat in my loss and wallowed in it, or kept moving and serving. I found a lot more joy in finding a need to help meet than in sitting with my journal in a coffee shop trying to figure out life.
The families I encountered on this trip put me up to all sorts of things from organizing a basement, to touch-up painting for a home going on the market, to turning a closet into an office. I vividly remember standing outside Amy Gulley's house in Wheaton, painting the window frames, and hearing God speak to my soul, "I'm priming the pump for what is to come." I felt He was getting me ready for something, but I didn't know what yet. All I knew was that two of my sources of income and livelihood had collapsed at once. He had to be up to something.
I found two of my true passions to be organizing and decorating since it's what I chose to do for free, or even at cost to myself, when I had the time. It energized me and gave me life -- Nothing has changed! ;) I had been organizing for others for several years at that point, always finding great joy in it, but was so focused on nursing school that I did not pursue it unless a friend or family asked for my help. Also, I wasn't really aware that people like professional organizers existed that did this full-time as a profession.
My background is in nursing and taking care of individuals with special needs. However, over a period of a few years, my dreams of being a nurse came to a close as I attempted NCLEX (state boards) multiple times and remained unsuccessful during the allotted time frame. This nursing journey, combined with other concurrent life factors surrounding it such as break-ups and big moves, has led to many self-discoveries, hard questions, and days I couldn't get out of bed because of the grief & depression.
Ultimately it has given me greater understanding of others in hard places filled with grief. Some grief is due to loss of a person, a job, or something tangible. Other grief is due to loss of dreams, hope, and expectations left unfulfilled. It's all grief and it's all hard, and I've been learning not to judge another's grief on whether it is tangible or intangible.
There I was looking back at 7 years of hard (and at times very dirty) work, the investment of paying for a nursing education with no way to reconcile it, and six letters in the mail that I had failed yet again. I remember sitting on my red couch and looking at the mess in my room and quite frankly wanting to quit at life. It was too overwhelming. I wanted to wave a magic wand and make all the STUFF disappear. I know many of my clients feel the same way. "Just take it all away!" they say. I didn't know what to do or where to go, who to call, or even what to pray.
I find that for many, organizing challenges often come during grief, loss, or life difficulties where it just feels like too much to keep it all together. I completely get it. It's one reason I greatly empathize with disorganized people, because I know the mess comes from a deeper place that is sometimes too hard to even put into words.
Other times, that may not be the case, but life is bustling and full, and simple sustainable systems are needed. I'm eager to help both kinds of people! With my clients, we can talk about the limiting mindsets and deep stuff (judgment free), you can do as others have done and invite me into your therapy sessions, or we can stick to small talk and music blaring while cleaning out the garage -- it's up to you; I'm game for both.
Being an organizer doesn't make me exempt from my own set of limiting beliefs around stuff & possessions; in fact it makes me more aware of my thoughts and habits surrounding material things. For example, though I love organizing, my natural tendency is to be an accumulator, so I still have to work hard to maintain simplicity, order and beauty! Therefore... knowing these weaknesses myself... I never judge when walking into someone's home, no matter how messy or unorganized!
I joke that I vacillate between minimalist and hoarder. I crave the simplicity of having only what I use and love, but for various reasons, stuff keeps making its way into my home (gathering creative project supplies, selling stuff for myself and others, and found items with an un-foretold future home), so I have to keep at it to keep the hoard at bay! 😂
My personal solution has been having my bed + bath + living areas on more of the minimal side, where everything has a place and is tucked away. Then, I choose to have only two spaces where extra items can gather (garage + craft room), and go through those spaces at least once a quarter to move out what is no longer meaningful or useful.
I have such a passion for investing in and maintaining my own space, knowing what a difference it makes for my soul. It is an honor for me to be invited into others' homes to coach through this process as well. In 2014 and early 2015 I decided I wanted to pursue organizing more full time. I dealt heavily with depression for some of that time, so my capacity was more limited than usual, but eventually, with God's help, I rose out of the ashes even stronger and more resolved than before.
In early 2015, my friend and former roommate Kat, who is a DJ, called one day saying she and her co-host wanted to interview a professional organizer on the radio to give tips for getting organized in the new year. Something clicked within me and I realized I had something to offer, even in the midst of feeling so low. Again, having a chance to serve or help another person saved me from the inward whirlpool spin downwards.
Another thing that kept me sane was creating an oasis of a bedroom. Environments can be such a reflection of a person's mind. Although my mind wasn't in the best place, I could work on the environment and let it affect me positively, and it did. It's part of the frustration that many of my clients feel as well - their mind feels crazy because their space is crazy.
In Feb 2015 I moved into a house of my own and had a great time decorating it and making it a haven. God knew I needed an outlet for creativity and hospitality. It worked wonders for me simply having a blank canvas on which to create. In June 2016 I moved out of that house, through another unexpected twist of events, and downsized to be able to focus on my business and being able to travel more.
This brings us to August 2016 where organizing (and the occasional decorating client) is currently my full-time pursuit. It is my joy, my passion, and the ministry where God has me, where He can use me to help breathe life back into people. One of the best lines from a client was recently when after touring her cluttered home she said, "I know I've started well and with the right person. You haven't made me feel crazy yet."
A month later she made mounds of progress and expressed deep thanks for the companionship, fun we had, practical ideas and homework I gave her, spiritual conversations and prayers, and overall being able to enjoy her space again after letting it go for over a year after her parents passed away. It's why I do what I do.
Thanks for taking time to stop by & read a bit more about me and my story. Feel free to reach out if part of my story resonates with you, or let me know what area is coming to your mind that you want to organize together!