Although I believe in showing gratitude and feeling gratitude towards people and to Hashem on a daily basis, November is a poetic time to speak specifically of gratitude.
I am grateful for the opportunity to work in a field I love and feel passionate about. I am grateful to Hashem for blessing me with a talent for organizing people that I do not take lightly. I feel humbled that I can use my knowledge of organizing to improve someone’s life. (Sounds like the opposite of humble.) The comments I hear from my clients confirm this thought. It’s not me though.
Spoiler Alert: I am about to share my philosophy. To avoid reading, skip to the next paragraph. I believe Hashem guides our every step, gives us the right ideas at the right times, and sets wheels in motion so that things like conversations we have and articles we read will benefit us in the future. Without his assistance, I couldn’t be an effective organizer. I would be a bowl of jelly on the floor.
I feel grateful for my warm, understanding friends. I appreciate their listening ears, especially when I get excited and talk about my passion for organizing and I realize it is not their passion. I appreciate my friends who are organizers and the conversations we have encouraging each other, sharing a new organizing product idea, or a website or an app that will help with an organizing challenge.
I cherish my beloved clients, and I am grateful to them for what they have taught me. Looking through my client list, I can think of some way each one has pointed me towards an attitude of gratitude. I admit sometimes, after working in a very cluttered home with many collectibles (expensive or not), serving pieces, furniture, clothes, art objects, piles of toys, etc., I feel grateful to have a more minimalist home and lifestyle.
This past year I felt grateful for having the opportunity to have worked on and off for five years with a former librarian who was both a genealogist and a local historian. Over the years that I knew her, she and her family members would share fascinating stories with me of Jewish life in Highland Park and New Brunswick from pre-World War II years into the 1970s. She had file cabinets filled with her extended family genealogy that were precious to her. Throughout her house were keepsakes with labels explaining who and where they were from and why they are important. For instance, she had tablecloths her grandmother and great aunts brought to America from Eastern Europe, wrapped in thick tissue paper and perfectly boxed. It appeared they were never used.
After this beloved client died from COVID and I was helping her family clear out her home, it was evident the clothes would not be used by the younger generations. My beloved client helped me see how the great pleasure and pride she had towards these objects linked her to special members of her family and elevated them from clutter to artifacts. Being a genealogist gave her the skills to certify and collect family memorabilia. This woman’s clutter was not due to a constant desire to engage in retail therapy. It was a loving connection to her past that could be documented and described.
I am grateful to another beloved client, whose mother was a gifted artist. She is a talented artist as well. She lost her mother a couple of years ago before we began to work together. I appreciate how she brought me into her world by sharing amazing stories of how much strength her family exhibited throughout the Holocaust and how they crafted a life for their growing family in the United States. She even taught me how to properly hang art. She explained how to choose picture frames and how to line them up. Together we lovingly went through her mother’s gorgeous artwork. As I was organizing items for her, she was imparting knowledge that you couldn’t find in a book.
I am grateful for the exciting opportunity one of my newest clients is offering me. I am helping her update her living room in a way that expresses her current tastes. Who doesn’t love a makeover?!
The client dislikes almost everything about her living room. Her first step is to remove the desk and armoire. That’s safe, solid ground for me. Then she requested a living room floor plan that would be more inviting, more of a flow. That’s new for me and I welcome the challenge. Then she said she needs to pick a new décor; however, she has not decided what it will be. I suggested she think of this as a fun furniture tour and visit websites of popular furniture stores like Ikea or Raymour and Flanigan, and virtual furniture sites like Wayfair. I listed some décor styles she could click on, like modern, traditional, contemporary, farmhouse, etc.
She identified the style that excited her and realized she recently saw just the right couch at a business establishment she visited. I suggested she call the business and ask where they had purchased the couch. I think that people are usually flattered that someone liked something in their store that wasn’t for sale—enough to inquire about it. I enjoyed helping a client find the decorating style that suits her. I appreciate that this newly beloved client’s needs called for me to step out of my box.
I thought it would be fun to share some of the beautiful thoughts of two professional organizers with whom I feel a close connection. Sandy Kaplan, a residential organizer in Queens, is grateful “to those who trust me and open their homes and hearts, sometimes having to share personal parts of themselves in order to accomplish the work.” Carrie Cooper of Organize A Difference Coaching and Organizing in northern New Jersey told me, “My gratitude goes to God for how he has used my clients to shape me and teach me more about life… [my clients] have taught me what resilience and reaching out for help… looks like. What a precious gift!”
It seems I have opened up the gratitude spigot. This column, however, has a maximum word limit. The most important message of gratitude I want to express is to my amazing, creative, funny, logical and wise husband, who has kept me smiling and has always encouraged me to be the best professional organizer I can be.
Ellen Smith is Central Jersey’s Kosher Organizer and tzniut wardrobe stylist. For over 14 years, Ellen has helped people restore order and create calm in their homes and souls. Ellen believes “Clutter Clogs, but Harmony Heals.” Contact Ellen for a complimentary phone consultation at [email protected].