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Terri Stephens

Terri Stephens, CPO, CRTS

Certified Professional Organizer®
Certified Relocation & Transition Specialist®




(678) 513-6585

 [email protected]

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Soles4Souls Update
Dealing with Sentimental Clutter
Setting Up a Child's Memory Bin
Displaying Kids' Artwork
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NAPO Soles4Souls Challenge


Thank you for your support of the NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) Challenge with Soles4Souls. Together, NAPO members collected more than 102,000 pairs of shoes family, friends, colleagues and clients in 2011.


While the NAPO Challenge may be over, Soles4Souls shoe collections are ongoing. Cleaning out your closets? Find a drop-off location near you to donate footwear.


Soles4Souls is a non-profit that collects new shoes to give relief to the victims of abject suffering and collects used shoes to support micro-business efforts to eradicate poverty. All donations are tax deductible. Go to to learn more.


Soles4Souls accepts all types of shoes: athletic, running, dress, sandals, pumps, heels, work boots, cleats, dance, flip flops, boots, just as long as they are new or gently worn. Any donated shoes that are not wearable will be recycled. 


You can save money. You'll know what you already own, eliminating the need to buy duplicate items. A professional organizer can help you find the perfect organizing products for your space and lifestyle, so you stop wasting money on things you don't need or won't work.


You can become more productive and efficient. A professional organizer can create order and structure out of chaos. You'll receive systems that work for your dominant learning style, your lifestyle, your needs, your challenges, and your dreams.


You'll have a positive self-image and ditch the shame. Once your home or office is neat and tidy, you won't feel embarrassed to have guests visit. The guilt will fade away as you take pride in your surroundings.


You'll have a healthier environment. Physical and emotional clutter obscures your surroundings. An organized home and office is more easily cleaned. Lose the clutter and cut down on time spent moving piles of paper and stuff around.


Your stress level will decrease dramatically. When you can find what you need, are on top of your to-dos, and arrive on time, you'll feel calmer and have more peace of mind. No more feeling overwhelmed by life -- you'll be the one in control.


You'll discover more time for yourself. When you're organized, your days go as planned, and you get a lot more done. That leaves more time to indulge in a little "me time."


Your energy will shine. Clutter is a mask and a professional organizer can help you take off that mask. Once the clutter is removed, you can showcase your talents, skills, and personality and have the life you deserve.



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Faithful Organizers



February 2012



Most of us have things in our lives that are cherished possessions because of the meaning we attach to them. But until we understand what the meaning is, we tend to resist dealing with the messes that surround us. Sometimes these memories result in a large accumulation of "sentimental clutter." The remembrance of things past can be a real deterrent to moving forward in our lives. Once we're able to let go and clear out what is no longer relevant, we open the door to the other parts of our life and what matters now, not in the past or in the future. This month's newsletter has tips for managing your memories so they are an enhancement to your life, as they were meant to be!


Terri Signature
Terri Stephens, CPO, CRTS
Real Order Professional Organizing, LLC
(678) 513-6585

TrunkManaging memorabilia is an important part of de-cluttering. If you're sentimental, this can be hard to do. Memories are so often tied to the physical objects we keep but when you let go of objects that aren't so special after all, you make room for the things that matter most to you.


Personal memorabilia are those items we hold onto because they evoke pleasant feelings, bittersweet emotions, or a sense of historical connectedness. It's the stuff that we think of as "priceless" because it often has value just to us.


Managing Memorabilia

A simple three-part process can serve as a guideline to managing memorabilia:

  1. Let go of anything that doesn't touch you in a positive or poignant way.
  2. Save only what you have space for.
  3. Keep your meaningful mementos in simple, easy-to-maintain systems.

Begin by gathering all the things you think you're keeping for sentimental reasons. You can also use this process on an item-by-item basis as you come across individual keepsakes.


Let It Go if It Doesn't Touch You

Start by separating your sentimental objects and papers into four categories:


Happy - mementos of positive accomplishments, joyous personal occasions, fun times, and loving relationships

Sad - remembrances of poignant milestones, deceased loved ones, personal transitions, and wisdom gained from painful life processes

Good - stuff that is potentially useful or even monetarily valuable, but otherwise not particularly meaningful

Bad - reminders of upsetting incidents, unpleasant events, or unfinished business


A good rule to help pare down the pile is to keep only your most special Happy and Sad items; get rid of the rest. Be aware that sentimental stuff that's falls into the "Good" category tends to be a major clutter contributor. 


Know Your Limits

The amount of space you utilize for your memorabilia will determine how much of it you can keep. Saving only the memorabilia you have space for requires making difficult choices. But when you do cut the emotional cord, you will feel a wonderful sense of lightness, as though you've been released from bonds you didn't know were binding you.


Maintenance Required

The number of containers (these can be plastic storage bins, trunks, archival-quality cardboard boxes, and more) depends on several factors:

  • How much space you've allocated
  • the types of stuff you've chosen to keep
  • how much stuff you're planning to keep

Store memorabilia in its "place" as quickly as possible so that you don't end up with a backlog that will take hours and hours to sort through.


Purge Regularly

The key to maintaining any memorabilia management system is to establish a regular purge (annually works for many people). Spend an afternoon lovingly revisiting your sentimental stuff, either alone or with family. The purpose of the ritual is to allow you to reminisce (isn't that why you've kept it, after all?) as you weed out stale mementos and make room for next year's memories. Focus on keeping only the best and most representative items from the past year.


Adapted from Online Organizing.


Before starting, consider your goal - in other words, why do you want to save your child's papers, projects, artwork and photos? Questions you might ask are:


Do you want your kids to enjoy their memories now and later as an adult?

Do you want to train your child to make their own decisions and file their own papers?

Do you feel guilty throwing it away?


Step #1 - SORT by child, grade or age. If there's a large backlog of kids' papers stuffed into bins and drawers throughout your home, schedule 30-minute sessions (or longer, if your schedule permits) and put it on your calendar so you don't forget. Make a commitment to yourself that you will wade through the backlog and not put it off any longer.


Step #2 - PURGE! Get ruthless with clutter, toss the ordinary and keep the gems. Seriously consider if your child would want to look at it when they're 30. Does it express their personality? Is it funny or unique? Does it show a stage of writing or drawing? Involve your children in deciding what to keep and what to toss so they can learn these vital skills while they're young.


Step #3 - ASSIGN a home. In other words, set up a system to handle the memories coming in every day. Purchase a 56 quart or larger bin and shoebox size bin for each child, one 12x12 box, and legal size file jackets that expand to 2". As keepsake papers come into the house, drop them into the12 x 12 box for later filing. With a sharpie, write the child's name/age/grade on individual folders. About once a month, file the papers from the 12x12 box into the appropriate folder, which is stored in the large bin. The shoebox size container may be used for small keepsakes like their first baby Bible, etc. Most importantly, don't forget to ENJOY the memory bins you put together with your children! 


Step #4 - SET LIMITS on what you keep. Remember, each folder expands to 2" so when it's full, you're done. Some additional purging may be necessary, especially for those who are very sentimental.


Step #5 - MAINTAIN your system. Even the best system will fall apart if it's not regularly maintained. Put a reminder on your calendar to regularly file the papers that are dropped into the 12x12 box into the large bin, which may be stored on a shelving unit in the basement or closet, if space permits.


Most importantly, don't forget to ENJOY the memory bin you put together with your child!


Here are some creative ideas to enjoy and display your children's artwork:


Stair Artwork

Try not to use the refrigerator, which is really not a place of honor to display art and contributes to a cluttered look in the kitchen. Instead, choose a wall or stairway for a gallery of your budding artist's work.




Decorated FramesLetting children decorate frames for their artwork gives them another avenue to exercise their creativity. When the gallery is getting too crowded, take a picture of all the art - then dispose of the bulky originals - or store them in the child's memory bin, space permitting. 


Book or Calendar - Create a book or a calendar of your child's artwork online at sites like


Screensaver - Scan the artwork and get a colorful reminder of your child every time you log on.




Portfolio - Buy an archival-quality portfolio and make a coffee-table book of art.


Laminate - Turn their creations into place mats with a simple laminator.




Cable System


Curtain Rod - Use to clip up kids' artwork. This one is from from IKEA.


Keepsakes - Order T-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, mouse pads and greeting cards decorated with your child's work at sites like and


Lil DaVinci




Li'l Davinci Store & Display Art Cabinet - Stores from 1 to 50 pieces of art. Available from


Transfers - For the truly special artwork, Little Kids Big Art will transfer and enlarge your child's masterpiece onto a museum-quality canvas. For information, visit


To look backward for a while is to refresh the eye, to restore it, and to render it the more fit for its prime function of looking forward.


~Margaret Fairless Barber, The Roadmender  


DiningMost of us recommend restaurants, movies or mechanics to our family and friends. When you recommend Real Order for professional organizing, we want to thank you with a $25 gift card to Red Lobster or Olive Garden - it's your choice. A minimum of four hours of organizing services must be purchased to qualify. To redeem your gift card, simply notify us of the family or friend you are referring to us. Bon appetit!


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