Archive for the ‘Broom Closet’ Category

Un-Paletteable Foundations

Broom Closet, Radical Rants | Posted by Kim
Oct 03 2011

Nerve-wracking racks

Un-“Paletteable” Foundations
A D.I.Y. Solution to Dye For

After another Unfruitful-of-the-Loom shopping trip for undies recently, I hereby nominate packaged underwear for the Semi-Awful Society.

The Semi-Awful Society was, until now, a secret society dedicated to hearing complaints about things in life that, though not really awful, are still pretty annoying. Founded sometime in the 1970’s when this heretic was vexed by a pesky problem, the Semi-Awful Society is a place to have your petty rant heard, duly noted, and filed away in your own confidential folder labeled “catharsis”. Its headquarters are located eponymously. That is, with a membership of one, it lives in my head. Still, I’m open for more nominations.

This herbal heretic ventured out recently to face the daunting and dizzying gaggle that is the department store packaged underwear display. No longer wanting to pay boutique prices, or department store “foundations” mark-ups, especially since they don’t last much longer than the big box or department store packaged panties, I set out on a mission: Find the cut and color at a reasonable price to stock up on the bare essentials for at least the next half year.

Previous attempts left me overwhelmed and, well, you-know-what all in a knot. This time I ate a good breakfast, pumped up the B12 and took many deep breaths before carefully sifting through the entire display. The chaotic and confusing offerings proved overwhelming yet again and I left the store in defeat. It seems, no matter how carefully one pores over the packages, one’s choices are limited. If one is looking for one type of cut, in a certain color range, one has to accept that there will be a rogue beige or juvenile pattern included. Why can’t they just offer a six-pack of solids? Or all patterns? Or sell them singly? Then, just when I was ready to concede, accept that buying four colors I detest in order to get two colors I love was worth it, they didn’t have my size. Or the colors were great! But, oh, it’s a different style…

What’s going on here? Is it an apparel industry plot on par with the Hot Dog Bun Conspiracy, or are the manufacturers just trying to sell more with the widest selection to a bigger demographic? Either way, I don’t want them dictating my color choices.

Things could be worse. I understand. Most of us, if asked in the middle of the day what color underwear we are wearing, would be hard pressed to even remember. Still, color is important. Color has wavelength energy and what color we feel good about having on our skin is highly individual and personal. So important that, having the wrong color, or discordant vibration, against our skin can ruin our mood just as much as a ‘bad hair’ day.

I have a remedy, which  has been in plain sight, on those very packages, all along. No matter what collection of prints and colors are inside the package, the model is always wearing white! So, find your size and favorite style in white and dye them in your favorite colors!

My all-time favorite dye is Jacquard iDye Fabric Dye. These procion dyes come in a handy packet that dissolves in water and can be used in the washing machine. Their rich palette of brilliant colors is a colorist’s dream. Procion works on all natural fabrics: cotton, rayon, linen, silk and more.

From Clutter to Clarity- An Organizing Expert Talks About Ordering a More Joyful Life

Broom Closet, Mental Health | Posted by Kim
Mar 22 2011

Spring has sprung! Time to clear out the cobwebs and other accumulations, real and metaphorical, of our winter hibernation.

To kickstart Herbal Heresy’s Spring Issue, I spoke with organizing expert and author Donna Smallin who shines some light into those cluttered corners of our lives and talks about the benefits of an organized lifestyle.               

HH: What inspired you to become an organizer?

Donna: I’ve always been pretty organized and I live an uncluttered life. I’ve also always been a writer and, one day, decided to write a book about uncluttering your home that was published in 1999. Believe me when I tell you, I had no idea that it would lead to seven more books about uncluttering, organizing, simplifying and cleaning up your life. Or, that we would sell a million copies worldwide in 15 languages. Or, that I would become one of the leading organizing authorities in the world! Obviously, there’s a need for this kind of information. So if you want to get organized, I hope it helps you to know that you’re not alone.

HH: If one is a slob, or a pack rat, so what? Why is organization important?

Donna: Disorganization is only a problem if it’s creating problems in your life and/or relationships. If you’re okay with a disorganized environment, that’s fine. But chances are, if you live with someone else, they are not okay with it. That’s a problem. I do believe that clutter is representative of obstacles we put in the path of our success.  Whether or not it be personal or professional success. There’s also a cost for disorganization. Think about it. If you spend 15 minutes a day searching for things, that’s seven hours a month, or 84 hours a year. What do you make per hour in your job? Multiply that by 84. That’s your annual cost of disorganization. And it’s not just time that’s an issue. I generally equate “mess” with “stress.” Organized people are generally less stressed and less overwhelmed by their daily lives. In addition, getting organized can create more time and space to do what you love, and less time looking for lost keys and bills to pay.

HH: In your experience, what tips or methods do you find are the easiest for people to adopt or are the most sustainable for them?

Donna: The hardest part of getting organized is getting started. You’re never going to find time to get organized. You have to make time. And the best way to do that is to schedule organizing appointments with yourself – and then honor those appointments just as you would any other. I suggest 15-30 minutes of organizing activity every day, focused on one small area. Let’s take your clothes closet, for example. It could take 2-8 hours to organize your clothes closet, and trying to carve out that much time is difficult, especially if you have more fun things to do! But, if each day you focus on uncluttering and organizing one small area of your clothes closet, it seems much more doable because it IS more doable. For example: On Day 1, you can just go through your shoe collection. On Day 2, go through purses and jewelry. Then focus on one foot of clothes rod at a time, trying on everything and keeping only what makes you feel fabulous (why would you want to wear anything less?).

HH: In what areas do you find the most resistance?

Donna: Letting go. To truly unclutter your home, you need to let go of the bits and pieces that no longer serve you, which I define as things you no longer (or never did) love or need. The biggest worry is that we might need it someday. So I ask you to ask yourself: If you’re going to  need it again someday (and that’s a big “if”), could you get it again pretty easily and inexpensively? The answer is usually yes.

HH: You’ve heard the term ‘herding cats.’ Are some people simply unorganizable?

Donna: Anyone can learn to be organized – if you WANT to get organized. It’s just like anything else. You don’t have to have natural talent to learn to play the piano. All you need is the desire. If you have the desire, you have the potential within you to acquire that skill. Otherwise you wouldn’t have the desire. People learn in all different ways and no one way is better than any other. The key is to be an active participant in the process. You can’t just ask someone to organize stuff for you. You need to be part of the solution or it won’t be a lasting solution.

HH: Can you tame even the wildest of the chronically disorganized?

Donna: Chronic disorganization is a term that encompasses challenging situations such as compulsive hoarding. It typically requires the help of a professional organizer who is trained in this area. I’m not one of them. Hoarders, in particular, also need the help of a psychiatrist. There’s a group called the Institute for Challenging Disorganization that specializes in educating professional organizers, and the public, about these issues. Public fact sheets can be found here:

HH: Much of your speaking engagements and videos talk about the theme of paring down or giving away, which is another term for “letting go!” Easy for others to say.  What insight have you gained from teaching others to let go of their beloved yet cumbersome objects?

Donna: There’s a lot of fear out there! As I mentioned earlier, there is often the fear that you may throw away or give away something you will need again someday. You have to weigh the pain of letting go against the pain of keeping it. Huh? What I mean is that most people have too much stuff and as a result have to deal with not having enough space, or wasting valuable time every day looking for things, or taxing an already taxed relationship. These are painful issues. To get yourself moving in a more organized direction, I’ve found it helps to reward yourself every step of the way. Allow yourself to flop down in front of the TV only AFTER you’ve spent 15 minutes engaging in un-cluttering or organizing activities. Take the money you make at your garage sale and treat yourself to a massage. Just, don’t buy more stuff!

HH: What goes around comes around. But, what goes out leaves room for more! Yes?  : )

Donna: Now you’re talking about maintenance! Uncluttering and organizing is not a one-time project. It’s something that you need to work at continuously. A few things I often suggest: 1) Purge paper files annually. There’s a lot of outdated information such as insurance policies that you can shred at the end of the year. 2) Don’t buy anything without knowing exactly where it will go in your home (décor) or when you will use it (clothing, appliances, etc.). 3) Keep a donations box in your closet to collect items you no longer love or use. When it gets full, take it to the nearest donation station on your way to or from work.

HH: Plain and simple is another theme that’s often echoed in your work and in modern society. How do you think this reconciles with our “more, more, more” culture?

Donna: I’m not so sure we have a “more, more, more” culture anymore given the state of our economy these last few years. I think we’re in one of those phases where we are realizing that less is more.  i.e., the most important things in life are not things. I know that I personally prefer to spend my money more often on experiences: fun times with family and friends, learning experiences, travel. I love the Oprah Winfrey quote, “If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have, you’ll never have enough.”

HH: Isn’t organization just for the uptight, or for people who need to be regimented?

Donna: Um. Who are you calling uptight and regimented? 🙂 Most definitely not. There are varying degrees of organization and it’s up to you to decide how “organized” looks to you. In other words, how organized do you want or need to be? I’ve been asked if I alphabetize my spices. The answer is no. Is my home always perfectly organized? No. But can I comfortably invite in unexpected guests? Yes. And can I find important documents including bills to pay when I need them? Yes. I personally find it difficult, even debilitating, to have to deal with a messy desk or closet. I can get dressed a lot quicker if I can see what’s hanging in my closet (because all the hangers are not jammed together) and pull together an outfit, knowing that it fits (otherwise, why would it be in there?) and is ready to wear (vs. being all crumpled up on the floor or missing a button that I’ve meant to sew back on).

HH: Won’t I lose my identity or my originality if I move my life into little compartments and boxes? What’s wrong with a little chaos or wabi-sabi?

Donna: Nothing wrong with a little anything! You actually sound like a very visual person (most creative people are) so I would recommend that you look for organizing solutions that are very visual and appeal to your creative side such as colorful file folders. I do think you discover more about yourself versus losing yourself in the process of getting organized. Uncluttering helps you figure out what’s really important to you as you make decisions about what to keep and what to toss. Most people who go through the process of uncluttering describe their experience as “freeing.”

HH: Talk about how the benefits of an organized lifestyle extend toward, not only personal well-being, but even overall community health.

Donna: Because I keep an organized pantry and plan my meals each week, we eat good, healthy food and spend way less on eating out than most other couples we know.  Not to mention less on groceries because I always shop with a list.  A side benefit of keeping an organized pantry is that my husband and I, both in our early 50s, are in excellent health. Generally, being organized allows me to live a wonderfully full life that includes, in addition to being an author and speaker, being a CEO of my own home-based business, weekly piano lessons and daily practice, volunteering three hours a week for the Leader Dog School for the Blind, 6-8 weeks of business and personal travel each year, training for a half-marathon this year, daily workouts, cooking classes, book clubs, and regular get-togethers with friends. I seriously doubt that I would be able achieve as much as I have and do without being organized.

HH: Tell me about the joys of de-cluttering and organizing. Do you have a favorite success story?

Donna: This is my favorite success story – told to me recently in an e-mail dated 2/23/11:

My name is Melanie D. I live in Christchurch, New Zealand. You may have heard about the devastating earthquake our city suffered on Tuesday this week. Our central city has been completely devastated, many lives have been lost and hundreds are missing. I just wanted to say thank you for helping me to get my home de-cluttered and organized to the point that we were able to cope very quickly and efficiently in this terrible disaster this week.

Prior to this earthquake, we suffered a 7.1 magnitude in September 2010. My house was completely disorganized and cluttered, and we sat through a long and scary night with just a candle. Our kids were traumatized. We have always been terrible hoarders and refused to throw anything out. I kept buying “stuff” just because I liked it. We were honestly in a very bad way. I could relate very easily to a lot of what you say in your books.

We then suffered a large aftershock on Boxing Day 2010, and at that point I decided I had to change our home and our lives. I turned to your books and have followed your ideas and instructions quite meticulously. Needless to say, things have been far easier for us this time round. Thank God our family is all safe and well.

As is the case during times like this, we all open our homes to each other. People visiting here have been stunned at how well-managed our home is at a time like now. Clean-up was minimal and we were able to open our home quickly to neighbours. This has helped my own state of mind immensely.

Thank you for making a difference to our lives at such a terrible time for our city.

Donna Smallin is the author of The One-Minute Organizer and 7 other books about de-cluttering, organizing and creating a more free and simple life.           


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