By JANE LOUTZENHISER
We’ve all been there. Too much stuff — in our homes, cars, schedules, as well as in our bodies and minds! As I write this, I’m looking around at various stacks and piles to be sorted and processed. No surprise that the flyer telling of an upcoming workshop on organizing and decluttering caught my eye (and my heart). We talk about and yearn for a simpler way of life, and yet it’s right there within our grasp.
Just ask Noreen Baker, a professional organizer.
Noreen the Clutter Queen, as she has dubbed herself on her blog, fittobetidy.com, offers her professional facilitation in decluttering, organizing, restoring beauty, creating space and efficient storage, and establishing systems to stop clutter before it starts. She smiles as she recounts stories of various clients making new discoveries in their lives as they clear away the old and unused. In every case, she says, “The clutter represents something . . . it’s a block of the flow of energy. It’s amazing how free people feel when they get rid of stuff because clutter keeps us stuck and keeps us from whatever transition is about to happen.”
For many, the first step is not sorting all the stuff, but the sometimes emotional process of letting go. The first hour she spends with people can be the hardest part for them, she says, as they’re not yet in the flow of getting rid of things. They first have to grapple with what the various items signify, why they’ve been holding on to them and what it might feel like to let them go. But once they go through this part of the process, they begin to tap into the energy found in purging and really get into the rhythm of it. For some, it’s a freedom they’ve never experienced before.
And Noreen’s work is not done after the bags and boxes are dispersed. As with any habit (or addiction), a new path must be forged with a new plan and mind-set. Noreen also assists clients in setting up systems to prevent clutter from happening in the first place. “A place for everything, and everything has its place,” is one of her many mantras. Other helpful proverbs she uses include, “When you bring something new in, something old has to go,” and “The more you have, the more you have to take care of.”
Doing this type of work on Martha’s Vineyard has its challenges and also advantages. She cite a common pattern: When people go off-Island for shopping and errands, they typically bring back more than they need. Another challenge involves the summer shuffle. Noreen said she has seen different patterns among people who move twice a year out of necessity. Some choose not to keep things since they move so often, while others feel the need to hang on to certain items since they own no home. She also said the Island is an easy place to recycle household items through the thrift stores, Dumptique, Martha’s Closet and the newspaper!
Tomorrow morning Noreen will share her expertise through an event sponsored by Women Empowered, an organization that has been helping women and men for more than a decade strengthen their life skills in a variety of ways. The event begins at 11 a.m. at the Howes House in West Tisbury. Noreen will share her expertise in a fun, nonthreatening way using a clutter quiz and some exercises to get people thinking. The cost is $10, and $5 for members.
Well worth it, and just think, you could recoup your cost by selling something you don’t really need through the classifieds.
For information call Women Empowered at 508-696-8880.