Organized & Productive 
April, 2013 

Spring is finally here, and for many that means spring cleaning (or what I like to call "spring flinging!") It feels so great to get a fresh start on life a
nd m
Lisa S. Griffith
Lisa S. Griffith 
ake our living and working spaces cleaner, more spacious and better organized. If you're feeling the urge to purge, there are lots of community recycling and shredding events happening this month, and many opportunities to pass on those things you no longer need or use to someone else who can benefit from them. Check out the events listed below for more information. As you work your way through all that accumulated stuff, think about what's important and what has significance in your life when you decide what's worth keeping. Read on for more, and happy spring flinging!


What Would You Keep? 



A recent column by Connie Schultz in Parade Magazine reminded me of the work I do with my clients about deciding what possessions stay and what goes in the organizing process. The column, entitled "The Things I'd Carry" spoke about the author's most treasured possessions and why they hold such a special place in her life. They were personal, a little quirky, and thoroughly sentimental. I thought about how difficult it can be for many of my clients to let go of things, even when their space is overloaded, the item has little or no useful purpose in their lives as they live them, and their lives are compromised by the disorganization that holding onto too much stuff causes. I ask them to consider three questions when they are struggling with a decision to keep or let go:

  1. Is it useful in your life as you live it today?
  2. Does it bring joy and beauty to your life?
  3. Does it hold a very special place in your heart?

So much of what people hold on to is kept out of guilt, obligation, or just plain apathy. Inherited objects, gifts from others, and expensive items top the list of possessions of which folks have a hard time letting go. I remind them that their departed loved ones would want only the best for them and probably wouldn't want them to keep a bunch of stuff that affected their spaces and lives in a negative way. The same goes for a gift from someone that just doesn't work in your space or your life. And simply because you spent a lot of money on something doesn't make it useful or beautiful if it just doesn't fit your body, your space, or your life.


So, what should stay? Things that work, things that you use NOW (not that you "may use someday"), things that bring you joy, things that make you happy. Guilt or obligation should have no say in the items that fill your living and working spaces. A few items, carefully and lovingly stored or displayed, will bring you more pleasure or honor a loved one so much more than boxes and bags of stuff crammed into attic, basement, or closets, and left to deteriorate. I thought long and hard about the five things that I would keep forever, no matter what. What would I run to save if my house were on fire, or if I had to evacuate in a hurricane? Some were an easy and automatic given, while others took more thought. What things touch my heart and give a glimpse of my life? Though the reasons for my decisions are intensely personal, I decided to share them with you, with the hope that it will stimulate the same kind of reflection about the stuff in your life. So, here goes! Leaving out the obvious necessities (purse, laptop, cell phone - all replaceable) and photo albums (because those are a given for almost everyone!), I narrowed it down to these precious few:


1. Kendall's Quilt: My oldest daughter spent months crafting a quilt for me in a quilting class that she took after school during her middle school years. She made sure that it contained my favorite colors and patterns and labored long and hard to make it as perfectly as she could. Not only is it useful AND beautiful, every time I look at it or use it, it reminds me of her thoughtfulness, dedication and persistence in wanting me to have something crafted from her own hands that she knew I would treasure.


2. Avery's MVP Picture: My younger daughter had a challenging junior year of high school, full of way more lows than highs. As her parents, we struggled right along with her, pulling her up every time and reminding her that eventually, it all evens out and things really do get better! At the very end of the year, her lacrosse team, to whom she was very dedicated, won their state championship title. And at the end of that game (a real nail-biter), she was named MVP. The local newspaper photographer caught a terrific picture of her reaction at the announcement and her teammates rejoicing in her selection. It's a great shot, and captures a moment of pure, utter joy after a long, hard year of disappointments. The picture, faded and a bit tattered, still holds the memory of our complete and joyful surprise, and warms my heart every time I see it. And it goes a long way towards proving that, eventually, mom is always right ;-)


3. Dad's Signature Stamp: My father was a judge, and growing up, that sometimes made for challenging father-daughter dynamics. He wanted very much to have his teenaged daughters avoid the mistakes he saw people make in his courtroom every day. He was a stickler for ethical and honorable behavior. He was also a loving and caring dad, and had an enormous impact on the person I became. But Alzheimer's disease took his cognitive abilities and, eventually, his life from us far too soon. After his death, his long-time secretary sent me his signature stamp, which was used on many of the court documents she prepared. It still sits in my living room under his picture, and reminds me on a daily basis that the tough decisions a parent has to make that may not be well-received by our children are necessary and right. Because the short-term anger and conflict they may cause create the responsible, happy and healthy adults our children need to eventually be.


4. Mom's Pin: I always joked with my husband that one of the main reasons I married him was because of his mother! She was a great mother-in-law, warm, loving, non-interfering (really!), and took me under her wing from the beginning. I would not have made it through my children's early years without her ever-present support. As someone who had a difficult, distant relationship with my own mother, she filled a void that I hadn't even realized existed. She passed away at the far-too-young age of 64, leaving me feeling bereft, but knowing that I had been blessed by God to have had her in my life for even such a short time. In my jewelry box sits an unusual, old-fashioned pin - an ivory horse's hoof attached to a silver riding crop. She wore it on the lapel of her coat almost every day. Every day, when I open the box to put on my watch and rings, it reminds me of the impact she had and continues to have in my life, and how grateful I am for it.


5. Autographed Music: I spent many years as a middle school music teacher. Many students came and went through my teaching career, some of them very special. The last place I taught before I left the teaching world for good, I had a wonderful group of girls who just loved to sing and were willing to dedicate much of their extra-curricular time to an a cappella singing group. While middle schoolers can be challenging even on a good day, I always enjoyed my time with them and appreciated their enthusiasm and joy for singing. At the end of the school year, at the final school assembly, they surprised me with a rendition of a song that they had prepared in secret with the assistance of my wonderful accompanist and friend, Milly. It was one of my favorite songs from my absolutely favorite musical, "For Good", from Wicked, by Stephen Schwartz. The song speaks of the impact we have on each others' lives, and how we are always "changed for good." Schwartz's wonderful ability to infuse his lyrics with multi-layered meaning is displayed, as he writes,

"I've heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason,  

Bringing something we must learn;  

And we are led to those who help us most to grow if we let them,

And we help them in return.

Well, I don't know if I believe that's true;

But I know I'm who I am today because I knew you."

At the end of the performance, they presented me with a copy of the music, on which each girl had written a few sentences about her experience in the group and signed her name. As a teacher, you often wonder if anything you do will make a difference in your students' lives, and it can be a thankless job. That day, it was incredibly moving to see that these young girls felt that I had, indeed, made a positive difference in their lives. Every time I open my small file of mementos, seeing that piece of music brings me a feeling of accomplishment and joy.


So, what are your five favorite things? What would you grab if you had to leave your home in a hurry? Or is your home so full of stuff that holds very little or no meaning that it would be difficult to find those things that are significant in the clutter? I am reminded on a daily basis in my work that the more stuff we have, the less important any one thing becomes. As you tackle those organizing projects and are faced with what to save and what to let go, remember those three important questions:

  1. Is it useful in your life as you live it today?
  2. Does it bring joy and beauty to your life?
  3. Does it hold a very special place in your heart?

I would love to hear about your favorites and why they hold significance in your life. Post them on my Facebook page if you'd like to share. And remember, the most important things in life aren't things at all, but the people in your life!


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Organizing on the Go  
Tuesday, April 23, 2013  

11:30 am    

Lisa speaks to the Realtors of the Barrington office of Residential Properties.

Residential Properties of Barrington
259 County Rd.
Barrington, RI

The Rx for Stress: How to Organize Your Space and Energize Your Life!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

2:00 pm  

Lisa speaks to the Visiting Nurse Services of Newport & Bristol Counties.

VSNRI of Newport & Bristol Counties

1149 East Main Rd.

Portsmouth, RI 


How to Get It All Organized in 5 Easy Steps

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

 7:30 pm 

Lisa speaks to the Barrington Neighbors & Newcomers Association.
St. James Lutheran Church
49 Middle Hwy.
Barrington, RI




Electronics Recycling & Shredding Event 

Saturday, April 20, 2013
9 am - 1 pm

Free event for the community. Bring electronic or mechanical waste to be recycled, boxes of paper documents to be shredded.

East Bay Chamber of Commerce

16 Cutler St. (facing Child St., next to Tom's Market)

Warren, RI

For details, go to East Bay Chamber of Commerce.

Document Shredding Event 
Saturday, April 27, 2013 
9 am - noon 
Barrington Baptist Church 
25 Old County Rd. 
Barrington, RI 
Voluntary donations accepted, to benefit Barrington Christian Academy High School mission trip.

"Just for Kids" Clothing Sale 
(Children's clothing donations accepted in advance of the sale)
Saturday, April 27, 2013 
8 am - noon 
Covenant Cooperative Nursery School 
165 Rounds Ave. 
Riverside, RI 
For details, contact the school office at 401-433-3196.

In order, in joy, 



Lisa S. Griffith
The Organized Way
Organizing Specialist/Speaker 
Office: (401) 289-0042
Mobile: (401) 529-1674 
Website: www.organizedway.com  View our profile on LinkedIn  Find us on Facebook