Tuesday, August 11, 2020

I miss working with my clients face to face. I miss the interaction with the client, helping them transport items to new “homes” other than the trash, hearing their stories and really listening to what’s going on in their world to know how to orient the organization session. I really miss the usual life of an organizer!

On the home front I’ve put off changing over my closet from winter to spring because of the extended winter weather feel. Reality is, despite that the calendar says it is May, I have been quite comfortable in my sweaters and warmer skirts. Another alibi I’ve come up with for not having time to clean my closet is a nearly five-month-old Berna-doodle puppy, Shepsi. Her rigorous training and playing schedule has kept me on the run.

Recently, I told myself the warm weather is coming very soon. This is the week I will change over my closet and drawers! My absolute favorite thing to do with my clients! How I miss it! Then the thought hit me that I could “hire myself” to clean out my closet. Everyone can use a little help, even from themselves.


I would be both client and organizer. I will encourage myself to part with the clothes that I have so far resisted removing from my wardrobe. I will be my usual gentle, supportive self and bag up my clothes and bring them to various gemachs or charities, or I will arrange a carrier to haul them away. Oops. Due to COVID-19, no charity is picking up, all huge collection boxes located in parking lots are cordoned off, and consignment shops and thrift shops are closed.

I do have a plan B. I will bag up all donations, label them clearly and store them in a clean, dry place in my home so that when the gates reopen and if there comes a time that donations will be accepted, I will deliver the bags. If not, I must create a plan C.

My appointment with myself was to begin promptly at 9 a.m. after my 50-minute walk with my puppy. In the middle of the walk Shepsi decided to lay on the grass and not move. The trainer advised us to let her chill on the grass until she’s ready to walk on her own. Ten minutes later Shepsi was ready for the five-minute walk home.

Wow! Fifteen minutes late for my appointment with me. That’s so rude! Should “organizer” me refuse to see “client” me? I will let it go this time.

As I led myself to my closet, I carried my portable clothes rack to keep clothes off the floor and started a conversation with myself. “So, Ellen, we will evaluate every item of clothing. We will ask if you have worn it in the past year, if it is in wearable condition, whether it’s comfortable and still working for you, and if you feel well dressed when you wear it.”

“That’s SO MANY questions! Organizer Ellen, do your clients answer each question for each individual piece of clothing? That’s a lot of dialogue going on in a closet.”

“Client Ellen, we are going to begin with sweaters. I am looking at this black cardigan.”

“I love it!” I responded to my organizer. “Don’t put it in the bin.”

“To be frank, it is ratty.”

“Hey. I thought I promised to be non-judgmental to ALL my clients.”

“Yes, of course. But we are always hardest on ourselves...I will place it in the bin for you. Moving on, your husband pointed out, kindly, that this beige hooded sweater has seen better days.”

“Hey! Are you listening in on our conversations? Oh wait. My conversations are your conversations.”

“True, Client Ellen. Because I am you, I happen to know you have at least three attractive hooded sweatshirts. So, you don’t need this old beige sweater. Toss it, Ellen.”

“Ok. You know my wardrobe. Organizer Ellen, I would like to take a look at all my winter skirts now. I realize I have several. You know, those that are from the 80’s and 90’s are such great quality! They don’t make things like they used to. Look, this wool plaid skirt is fully lined.”

“Don’t get nostalgic on me, Client Ellen. Wool skirts need to be dry cleaned and the pleated ones need to be ironed just so. Who irons anymore and who needs high dry cleaning bills? If you said goodbye to them you would reduce your dry cleaning bill. Here, hold each of these wool skirts in your hands as Marie Kondo would, and thank them for their many years of service. The many, many, many years of service.”

“Organizer Ellen, that’s not very nice. True, I am getting older...”

“I was trying to point out the age of the skirts. You, Client Ellen, unlike these skirts, will keep fit and youthful as long as you continue Zoom classes with Marla Rottenstreich of Mekor Fitness. Until we are back exercising along with her, we follow her specially created routines every day via Zoom.”

“Hmm. Maybe you do have a heart, Organizer Ellen. Anyway, it looks like we are finished with skirts. I want to go through my shoes now. Look, I am using the boot shapers I bought as a demo when I spoke at the library on—what else—organizing your clothes closet for the change of seasons.”

“If you gave a talk at the library about changing out your wardrobe from one season to the next, why did you need to hire me, Client Ellen?”

“Well, it is always harder to do something by yourself. I wanted the company. But so far you haven’t been the best companion.”

“Client Ellen, am I being too judgy? I’m really sorry. All my clients say I am so non-judgmental. I guess I want you to have a really efficient and beautiful wardrobe.
Perhaps I went to an extreme. Deep down, I knew you were considering getting rid of these items of clothes because they were either worn out or too fussy.”

“No harm done, Organizer Ellen. You have helped me greatly. I can take it from here. But I do want your opinion on something. I believe when the gates are opened and we can be social and go to our offices, stores and restaurants, women will choose to wear their casual, comfortable clothes over fussy, fitted and extreme outfits. We have been working hard at home in our casual clothes and we are appreciating the comfort. Also, it is likely we won’t need to buy as many dressy outfits because weddings and other simchas will be smaller so we won’t be invited to as many as we used to. We are realizing we can survive happily with a smaller amount of clothes if we hold our purchases to what we love. By going without those frequent trips to the mall, we avoid buying on impulse or frustration. Perhaps while we have been quarantined, we have been evaluating our wardrobes and wearing our favorites. I think our goal is to purchase and wear what we love.”

I would love to know what all of my readers think about this. Please drop me an email at [email protected]


Ellen Smith is a professional organizer and wardrobe stylist and a member of NAPO, the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals. Her company, iDeclutter, LLC was formed in 2012. Ellen is passionate about organizing and helping people restore order and calm in their homes and their souls. She can be contacted at [email protected]