Be a Giver (Day 14 of 31 Days of Organizing)

The Giver

Last weekend, my hubby and I watched a remarkable movie called “The Giver.” It starred Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline and was a based on a book by the same name.

I know we’re talking about 31 Days of Organizing this month, and just for today I’m going ignore that. The movie was just SO GOOD that I couldn’t wait to share my thoughts on it with you. I felt similarly about The Secret Life of Walter Mitty a few months ago.

So, about The Giver (from IMDB): In a seemingly perfect community, without war, pain, suffering, differences or choice, a young boy is chosen to learn from an elderly man about the true pain and pleasure of the “real” world.

Basically, the elders of this community have decided that dulling emotions from people (via drugs) will keep them safe. However, because of his chosen status and the lessons he receives, the young boy can’t keep his enthusiasm to himself once he’s introduced to the pain and pleasure of the “real” world.

Here’s why I loved The Giver:

  • In this perfect community, people share “automatic” pleasantries. This triggers me into thinking about the people I know who say, “I’m fine” or “I’m busy” when someone asks them how they are. We seem to have our own automatic pleasantries!
  • There’s wisdom and lessons to be learned from our elders and from our past (recent and ancient, good and horrifying). The idea of not having access to that wisdom and those lessons is frightening to me!
  • The young boy chooses the unpredictability of emotions and feelings over the illusion of safety. Every entrepreneur I know chooses the same!
  • The young boy shares his newfound learnings with his young female friend. He encourages her not to take the emotion-numbing drugs. She begins to feel things she’s never felt. And the glorious part happens when she feels affection for the young boy, helps him escape to save the community from themselves, and is captured. She knows she was right to help him “because I feel it!” She is feeling her feelings and owning the truth of them, one thing many people I know are afraid to do, right now, today.
  • At one point, one of the elders says, “Sameness keeps us safe.” That’s one of the lies we tell ourselves. As a kid, that might have been true. But as adults, I believe with every fiber of my being it is our responsibility to figure out who we are as individuals and let our freak flags fly!
  • The boy experiences a miracle when he goes beyond the edge. I love this because it shows we are capable of more than we think we are (and there’s something out there looking out for us).
  • Before the young boy sets out on his journey, his elder teacher strengthens him and his traveling partner with memories of “enough” and with memories of joy. When their journey becomes very difficult, it is those memories that pull them through. The same can be true for you and for me.

Basically, this movie tidily packages up a lot of what I believe about life: decide what you want, choose your own path, and make a difference in this world with your voice and your talents. Know that it will be hard. Know that some people won’t be happy about it.

Do. It. Anyway.

Make Some Room,


P.S. At one point in the movie, the young kid says to his elder teacher, “Okay, if I’m the chosen Receiver, what does that make you?” His teacher smiles and says, “That must make me the Giver.” How can YOU be the Giver in your life?

What brings you joy? (Day 13 of 31 Days of Organizing)

what brings you joy

Let me ask you a question: are you in love with your stuff? Your clients? Your friends, family and followers?

Have you ever even thought about being in love with ALL of those things?

I recently listened to an interview on NPR featuring Japanese Professional Organizer Marie Kondo. Ms. Kondo has created a method called the KonMari Method.

Her focus is a simple question: What brings you joy?

Her methodology speaks directly to an earlier post I wrote about decluttering your stuff.

I love her concept of what brings you joy?

I think this concept applies to EVERYTHING in life.

  • Does every “thing” in your home bring you joy?
  • Do all your clothes bring you joy?
  • How about your clients in your business?
  • What about your friends?
  • Family?
  • What about your social media friends and newsfeed?

I’m so intrigued by the idea of choosing what brings you joy because so many of us DO NOT.

Instead, we “put up with” so much “because “that’s just the way it is”:

  • Abusive family members
  • Mean friends
  • Negative Nancys in our social media feeds
  • Clients who waste our time and are rude to our staff, or who don’t pay on time (and/or who complain about our rates)
  • Clothes that hang in our closets or sit our dressers because we don’t like them (they fit weird, feel scratchy, pull in strange places, or just don’t make us feel GOOD)
  • Shoes we own but don’t wear because they squeak, give us blisters, or make our feet sweat
  • Kitchen gadgets we used once and forgot about
  • Books we meant to read or even started reading, but quickly hated
  • Food we tried and didn’t like
  • Husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, wives, and even employees who just don’t fit right either
  • Activities we do, boards we sit on, TV shows we watch, committees we’re part of
  • Behavior from anyone (even ourselves) that we tolerate

A client and I talked earlier in the week about a big change she knew she needed to make. The situation was definitely not bringing her joy. “But,” she explained, “sometimes the Devil you know is better than the one you don’t.”

I’m a curmudgeon and played Devil’s Advocate (heh). “What if you just make the decision to make this big change? What kind of space are you creating for something new and joyful to happen?”

This question applies to everything. By releasing anything that doesn’t bring you joy, you immediately open up space for something joyful – even it’s simply the absence of the old, annoying thing for now.

Take a deep breath and let those things go that don’t bring you joy.

Make Some Room,


P.S. I keep trying to make these notes shorter, and I succeeded with a few of them. I’m a storyteller at heart, though, and that takes some space. Thanks always for reading what I write!

#UNPLUG (Day 12 of 31 Days of Organizing)

#UNPLUG Fast Company Magazine

#UNPLUG Fast Company Magazine

My favorite part of snail mail is getting magazines. I don’t subscribe to many, but I love the ones I get: Inc. Magazine, Mother Earth News, Fast Company, and Our State.

It was the July/August 2013 cover of Fast Company that grabbed my attention:

#UNPLUG: My life was crazy. So I disconnected for 25 days. You should too.


I let that headline sink in. See, when I read that article, I had just disconnected for 16 days myself. No smartphone, no email, no internet service of ANY kind. Heck, we didn’t have plumbing or electricity, either! In June of 2013, I rafted 225 miles of the Colorado River through Grand Canyon. It was epic – and life changing (but that’s a story for another day).

Now, to be clear, the dude who wrote this article in Fast Company Magazine was a busy guy: Mayor of FourSquare in his area,involved in EVERY social media outlet possible, and a bigtime journalist and writer. You, gentle reader, may not be quite so connected. It doesn’t mean, however, that you don’t get his reasons for wanting to unplug:

  1. His life was indeed crazy. Crazy busy. 24/7 crazy busy.
  2. He wanted to be mentally free of obligations, most of which asserted themselves in some way in digital fashion.

Can you relate? If you think about it, I bet A LOT of the requests for your time, your money, and your energy come to you digitally. Probably mostly via email, but messages on LinkedIn, Facebook and other social networking sites are gathering momentum.

And it is stressing you out. It’s making you distracted. And you’re suffering from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).

I see you checking email in the middle of networking meetings; as your employees are trying to talk to you; while you’re driving (or at best while stopped at red lights); in the middle of dinner wth your families; and as you soon as your eyes pop open in the morning.

You are afraid. Afraid of missing out: on the big deal; with the next big potential client; with the angry client (we have to be responsive, don’t we?). And you’re afraid of just not being “in the know.”

There are ways to regain control and sanity. As the Dog Whisperer Cesar Milan would say, “We must create and use rules, boundaries, and limitations.” It’s the only way to beat back the crazies and allow ourselves to #UNPLUG.



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