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NAPO Michigan represents the best Organizing and Productivity Professional Members in our state. While most of our Blog posts are written from a we, or a Chapter perspective, once in a while we receive a submission that tells the true story of an individual. While the story may be about one of us in particular, this story is compelling and displays the reason why we all do what we do. Organizers help families and individuals sort through their family stories and memorabilia, prioritize those of significance, then determine and create the means to retain that family history for posterity.
Read on. We hope you gain perspective of the value of what we all do from this timely piece by NAPO Michigan Business Partner, Marianne Behler, a Certified Photo Organizer.
A 1918 PANDEMIC FAMILY STORY
My mother, Berniece A. Lewis, was born during the Flu Pandemic of 1918 to Benjamin Frank Lewis and Malona (Barks) Lewis on July 18,1918. She was their third daughter.
Lewis Family - 1911 – Berniece Lewis’ parents far left; Frank and Malona Lewis with daughter, Opal
By November 1, both of her parents had died.
My mother’s sister, Opal later wrote of her earliest memories. “I saw my mother in bed with a lovely new sister that looked like my baby picture. I adored her and enjoyed rocking her”. She continues; “One day our neighbor came to tell us that his son was home from France. He was a soldier and had been wounded while fighting in our army. He was also having a high fever and needed someone at his bedside especially at night. My dad offered to help and after a week or so he, too, became ill. He kept doing the chores and got some of his crops in the barn. Then my mother started not feeling well. By that time my dad was in bed. My mom pumped the horse trough full of water, threw out a lot of hay and baked and cooked extra food. Next morning, she was unable to get up. She took the three-month-old baby to bed with her. I took diapers to her and gave my parents cold drinks of water while feeding my three-year-old sister and trying to keep her amused. That night my dad called me to the bed and talked a long time to me, making me understand how very ill he and mom were. He put my little red coat and hood on me and buttoned my high-top black shoes, lit a lantern for me to carry, and told me to go to our neighbor a mile and a half through a corn field. I was to tell them to contact my grandparents about ten miles away.”
At seven, Opal walked to the neighbors to contact her grandparents because her parents were sick with the flu. The parents died but their three daughters survived. My mother was orphaned as a baby, yet she survived. Because she survived, I was born as were my children and grandchildren.
Each of the three daughters were adopted by different family members from both sides of the family. My mother, was adopted by her father’s sister, Serrah Anne married to John H. Cook. They had one biological daughter Pearl. My mother adored Pearl. She claimed she was her shadow. Sadly, Pearl died on her wedding day of lockjaw. But that’s another story.
Berniece at age three with Pearl
My mother grew up in Arkansas and their family eventually moved to Michigan in the 1930’s where my grandfather got a job in South Lyon. My mother finished high school, started working and went on to marry my father, and as they say . . . the rest is history at least for me, my children and 10 grandchildren.
Senior Trip 1938. Berniece Cook 2nd from right. “They drove in cars, five in each. There were not enough teachers to have one in each car. We lucked out and we didn’t have one!”
So why share this story now? The Covid-19 pandemic is calling me to share it. Many stories are being published about the 1918 flu pandemic history now. My mother’s story is one of them. I am writing about my mother’s story to preserve and share it with my family. I also want to encourage all of us to tell our story of Covid-19 now.
The word I have used to describe both my mother and her story is; perseverance. Adopted at three months, she grew up poor but was determined to finish high school even as the family moved around. She knew that education would be the way to a better life. She loved learning. Her hard work and dedication became a stepping stone to many life-long achievements.
What pictures and stories does your family have waiting to be shared and told? Do stories of your family tell of lives well lived? Have your parents or grandparents overcome adversity? Have they been able to achieve beyond what would have been normal expectations?
I’m sharing this story 102 years later during Covid-19 because what is happening now is defining our lives. Unlike the flu pandemic of 1918, we have an abundance of pictures to help us tell our stories.
For me, this has been a time to call family members and see what if anything was written down about our family during the 1918 pandemic. I located the actual notes and a written account from my aunt Opal. I located the genealogy of both sides of my mother’s family. I pulled out the scrapbook album that my mother and I put together of her life with all of her old photos. I found a small photo book treasure that I created for my mother of her 90th birthday celebration.
Celebrating Berniece’s 90th Birthday – 2008. What a wonderful celebration. Berniece in front in the pink.
At the beginning of Covid-19, I began taking pictures to tell a new story. I have pictures of what I have been doing, of what my children and grandchildren have been doing. I made soup and shared it with neighbors and friends. I have made phone calls to make sure people I know and love know I are thinking about and praying for them. I am holding Zoom meetings. I have started a gratitude journal. All these things are helping me tell my story
A new Story – Zooming with family on Easter, 2020
How about you? What are you and your family doing right now? Many children stopped going to school in March which means many of you are homeschooling for the first time. Are you and your spouse working from home? Are you practicing social-distancing? Are you glued to the news and to the daily briefings? Are you too trying to figure out life during a quarantine?
As a Photo Manager, I am privileged to see my client’s pictures and hear their stories. I work with them to organize their photo collections. I scan the photos, memorabilia and treasures of their lives. I create photo books to help them tell their stories; births, graduations, retirements and life histories. Once the photos have been preserved and their stories told, they are documented for future generations.
Let me challenge you to tell your story. What will you, your children and your grandchildren want to remember of Covid-19? Tell it, write it down now. Let this be a time when you preserve your photos and tell your story.
Article submitted by Chapter Business Partner, Marianne Behler, Certified Photo Manager at Lifetime Photo Solutions.
Now that spring is here and most of us have been stuck at home because of the Covid-19 virus, why not spend a little time addressing your foyer and closet.
These simple tips from the National Association of Professional Organizers in Michigan will help your family get and stay organized.
As always, take out everything from the closet, placing all items into their categories, such as —
· Footwear, sorted by season
· Coats, sorted by season
· Gloves, scarves and hats
· Sports stuff
· Umbrellas, purses, and bags
· Pet items
Start with the coats that you wear most for the spring and summer season. Then match up your footwear underneath.
This might be the time to include a shoe organizer to better use the limited space available.
Depending on the size of the front closet, decide how many items should go back in, with a little room to spare for future additions. If you don’t have a lot of long coats, perhaps you could consider turning this closet into a double hung closet?
Making the most of your vertical storage could be a real bonus.
Next, match up gloves, toss out singles and those that have seen better days, and donate others, if you find you have too many.
Put your gloves, scarves and hats for each family member in a basket, container/bin or over-the-door organizer. This is a great time to see if your child has outgrown any items. If closet space is at a real premium, you could choose to move these down to the basement for the warmer weather.
Place a rubber mat on the closet floor for those wet shoes/boots. You could also place a carpet piece or rubber mat by the door that you use every day as a landing pad.
If you have dogs, start a bag or basket for their winter sweaters and place a handy hook for their leashes and collar in the closet or by the door.
It’s also a great idea to install more wall hooks, especially if you have young children at home. Maybe you can place them at a lower, kid-friendly height. It’s easier for children to place something on a hook than use a hanger.
Lastly, return the items you find that don’t belong in this closet to their rightful homes.
For those items you no longer need or won’t be using, place them in a donation bag to be dropped off at your favorite recycling/reuse place.
Once your closet work is done, you will start each new day in a more relaxed manner. Plus, you’ll be able to have dry feet — and even close your closet door!
Article submitted by Chapter member, Betty Huotari, Logical Placement LLC,
You might be home, working from home or one of our front-line helpers
in Michigan...thank you to those who are serving us.
April 22nd is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.
NAPO MI will post on our social media platforms earth friendly tips, products and statistics all April.
One statistic we’ve recently heard is that up to 85% of our discarded clothing ends up in a landfill. This is not something we often think about when cleaning out our closets.
Here are a few tips on how to avoid acquiring too much clothing.
1. Take inventory. Group items by season, category and color and write down how many of each item you own. This might help you learn something about how and what you purchase.
2. If you find a category you overbuy, think about why. Did you not know you already had something similar? Is it hard for you to resist a good deal?
3. Shop with a list. If you know your inventory, this helps with knowing what parts of your wardrobe needs filling in. Don’t just buy because you love it or it’s a great price. There will always be things we see that we love and always another great price around the corner.
4. Keep your inventory or photos of your closet on your phone. While shopping you can quickly access your list or photo to be reminded of what you already own.
5. Categorize your closet by silhouette, color or activity. Then use garment dividers so you put things back where they belong and have a quick visual of what you have.
The Container Store sells these for 99 cents each.
If we take a little time to consider what we own and think before we get your credit card out, we could all make better purchases and give old Mother Earth some much-needed relief.
We recognize that we could all use some relief right now.
NAPO Michigan wishes all of you and your family peace, health and safety. Thank you for reading.
Follow us at:
Facebook - @napomichigan
Instagram - @napo_michigan
Submitted by Leigh MacCready, Re-Nest LLC.
MESSIEST ROOM CONTEST WINNER RECEIVES ONE-DAY HOME OFFICE MAKEOVER
In the world of Professional Organizers, January is deemed GO Month. That is “Get Organized Month.”
As a Chapter, each year we plan a service project in which we assist groups or individuals with organizing challenges they face. In the past, we have concentrated on helping non-profit groups like Habitat for Humanity or a Human Trafficking home for women and girls get their storage spaces organized in one day. This means a team of about 20 organizers comes in for one day and divides up the project into manageable tasks to get store rooms or individual offices better organized.
This year, we decided to help a person in the community with our residential Messiest Room Contest. This required a smaller group of Organizers so we were a Committee of five. Chapter President Leigh MacReady and Chapter Secretary Betty Huotari, along with Members Terri Closs, Cindy Greenleaf, and Erica Herker planned and executed this fun project.
A special thanks to Chapter Member Jane Hale, who was a photojournalist in another life, for taking the great Before, During and After pictures featured in the newspaper and in this post. Some of the pictures shown here were taken by Cindy Greenleaf.
Planning began in late October as we decided on the rules for applying, preparing the application form and obtaining sponsorship donations. We knew we would need to buy organizing supplies for whatever room was selected. Planning continued right up until and during the day of the project.
NAPO Michigan partnered up with the Detroit News Homestyle section to announce the contest on November 2.
Mark had not seen the contest announced in the newspaper but a friend told him about it so he submitted his application.
We received over two dozen submissions and narrowed it down to three finalists. Each finalist was interviewed and the winner chosen was a unanimous decision. It was announced in the Detroit News Homestyle section on December 7, 2018.
As our contest winter, Mark Steele wrote this in his submission: “This room was originally my computer room. Slowly but surely my wife took it over. She beads, does handcreams, knitting, collecting...My wife passed away in March from cancer. I can’t bring myself to go through this pile of things for fear of reminders of the past and/or not being able to let things go…Please I need help.” He also said he had had a rummage sale and done five carloads of donations as well. He seemed “stuck” with where to start in this room (as a lot of clients are) but was also “ready” to do it with our help.
Ever wonder what it takes to do a large project like this?
It was only a 10’ x 10’ room but it was chock full of stuff.
Here’s how we did it.
Once Mark was selected, Betty and Leigh went to see the room in it’s cluttered Before state and discuss Mark’s goals for the room. He wanted the room to be his computer room again. He’s a Corvette car guy who owns two of them. In addition, he had a lot of Corvette art, model cars, manuals and magazines he wanted displayed once the clutter was removed.
Here are two Before pictures were taken that day.
Photo credit Jane Hale
Once we saw the room and reviewed the pictures, planning began. We selected Billy bookcases (which Mark put together), Magazine files and a rug from Ikea, and a lamp from Target. Mark selected new window blinds from Lowes, which we installed to remove the turquoise vertical blinds that were in the house when they bought it twenty years ago, completing the look.
On Project Day, in mid-January, we arrived at 9:30 am. Mark’s homework had been to build the book shelves and remove any personal items he or his children wanted from the room so this was done when we arrived.
Clients are always in charge when it comes to deciding what items are kept, donated or be tossed. Organizers offer options if they are unclear but the client is in charge of the decluttering process and their goal for the room.
Since the room was too small for all of us to work in, Betty and Leigh worked with Mark in the room and Erica, Terri and Cindy worked at tables in an area around the corner from the Office where we had set up tables in a U-shape to sort and box items for donation. We had boxes donated to us as well. The goal was to have the room emptied of the clutter by noon. Some of the wife’s craft stuff was already boxed up so Mark was easily able to release those items for donation.
Mark had a great attitude towards lots of his clutter. He said, “Everything I need to remember my wife is in my heart and memory. I don’t need these things around to do that.”
In the end, we had 38 boxes of donations by the time the room was emptied just before lunch. Twenty-eight of those were craft items. A second desk in the room was deemed unnecessary and donated as well.
Photo credit Cindy Greenleaf
Professional Organizers always bring one or several different types of tool kits with them to a client’s home, depending on the project at hand. This includes sharpie markers, labeling machines and various types of tape. Since we knew we’d be doing the blind removal and installation, two of us brought drills and screwdrivers as well. Leigh even spackled some picture-hanging holes in the wall. We wanted to be full-service in this office as we tend to be detail-oriented on the small things like that.
Organizers do not ordinarily do things like spackle wall holes or take down or install blinds but we wanted this room to be completely finished when we left so we did those things here.
Mark’s readiness to release the items that he didn’t use or need made this an easy project for us Professional Organizers. He had shown that by his prior actions and his attitude towards clutter, this was going to be a relatively easy project. Clients may say they are ready but when faced with actually releasing clutter, sometimes it’s a different story. Not so with Mark.
Mark took this opportunity to sweep and mop the room just before lunch so it was a clean slate when we got to work after lunch. Leigh gave that beautiful desk a once over with furniture oil, making it glow.
By noon, we took a short lunch break and with the decluttering done, got straight to the organizing and decorating of the room. As a committee, we had discussed one potential space plan for the desk, file cabinets and bookcases before arriving there. So once the room was empty, Mark decided on how he wanted the room laid out. We used furniture sliders to make it easy to move a bookcase around to see how it looked to Mark.
Terri, with a little assistance from Cindy, removed the old blinds and installed the dark wood ones which matched the window sill perfectly. It took about an hour to get that done.
Betty and Erica put together the Magazine files outside the office in preparation for the final bookcase placement. Once that was determined, Mark had additional art he wanted hung so we got that up. Leigh polished up the star of the show, the beautiful oak roll top desk Mark had. The new lamp on roll top looked great and the new area rug completed the look.
An antique child’s school desk sits in one corner awaiting a visit from his grand-kids.
In another nod to his wife, beside it sits a small trunk with key rings his wife collected from places they had visited in their cross-country drives in their Corvette. With the Corvette model cars on the shelves, including a pink one in honor of his wife, his computer room was complete. It was his again free of the crafts and clutter there at the beginning of the day.
It took five Organizers about six hours to get the room complete. So including Mark’s time before and during, it approached 40 hours of work that day to get the amazing After pictures shown here.
Mark was as thrilled with the result as we were. We checked in with him a couple weeks after we left him and he says the room is very productive and he loves it. No clutter has crept in as he likes it so much.
He also said doing that room has inspired him to tackle other parts of the house that need attention. He continues to spend an hour or two in a room and loves the momentum this Room Re-do has given him to continue decluttering in other areas of the home.
As for us Organizers, it was very fulfilling to give a very deserving man a productive Computer Room that was all his again. Plus working as a cohesive team of Professional Organizers is always a fun day.
Here’s the link to the Detroit News article:
Participating Professional Organizers were:
Terri Closs, As You Wish Organizing, LLC
Cindy Greenleaf, New Leaf Organizing LLC
Erica Herker, Erica Organizes
Betty Huotari, Logical Placement LLC
Leigh MacReady, Re-Nest LLC
Sponsors include Studio Z Architecture, Momentum Construction LLC, and Joe Tiberi Agency.
Chapter Member Sponsors include Need to Organize LLC, As You Wish Organizing LLC, Logical Placement, Nia Spongberg Organizing and Coaching, and Re-Nest.
Business Partner Sponsors were College Hunks Hauling Junk and Frisbie Moving and Storage.
We thank them all for their generous financial donations which enabled us to do this inspiring project.
This article was written by Cindy Greenleaf, Professional Organizer and Owner of New Leaf Organizing LLC
The lucky winner is Mark Steele of Farmington Hills, Michigan. We will be tackling a room that was his wife's craft room with a desk area as well. His wife has passed so he wants to use it as a productive office space again by decluttering the craft items in the room.
The project will happen in second half of January so keep an eye in the Detroit News Lifestyle Section and here for the Before and After pictures.
The team is really looking forward to helping such a deserving winner!
Do you or someone you know have a Messy Room that you wish would just magically get organized?
Have we got a contest for you?! \5Our NAPO Michigan Chapter (Professional Organizers and Productivity Specialists) is partnering with the Homestyle section of the Detroit Free Press by having a MESSIEST ROOM CONTEST.
You must submit your application by Noon on November 15. The Application is at our website at napomichigan.com.
The Winner will get their room tackled by Professional Organizers in January.
Read below for details. Exclusions apply.
MESSIEST ROOM CONTEST
One lucky Homestyle reader will be chosen to have a team of Professional Organizers from NAPO Michigan come into their home, tame the clutter in the room of their choice, and give their space new life!
To enter your room for consideration in the contest, you must download and complete the application. The application deadline is Noon on November 15.
The winner will be announced on December 7 and the makeover will happen in January 2019.
If you have questions please contact Betty Huotari at email@example.com.
If you only have one rod and one upper shelf in your closet, you are definitely missing out on available storage space! Items are tossed up to the upper shelf, only to topple down when you are trying to find something in the pile. And who can find matching shoes and your favorite tote bags in the deep dark bottom of the closet?
The National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals in Michigan wants to share some tips on organizing your closet and finding extra storage space:
1. Add a helper shelf or two to the top of the closet for extra things you don’t use every day. Bins work great to contain items on shelves and can be decorative too. Don’t forget to add labels so you can quickly find what you’re looking for.
2. Make your closet have room for double hanging by using an adjustable closet rod extender. This allows much more hanging space in a small area, especially if you're using those awesome velvet thinner hangers.
3. Place portable storage drawer units in the bottom of the closet. These affordable storage solutions come in many sizes, materials and can store anything more efficiently.
4. Use the back of a solid closet door to add an over-the-door shoe storage rack. So easy to install and use!
5. Fill any unused spaces with hooks for scarves, bathrobes, hoodies, totes, etc. Command hooks are removable and permanent ones come in many styles and finishes now.
Organizing your closet and finding extra space is easier than you think!
By keeping what you love and wear, and arranging what fits nicely, you will have an amazing, organized closet.
For more organizing tips, visit www.NAPOMichigan.com.
Article submitted by Chapter member, Susan Carmody. Owner, www.perfectlyplaced.net.
When your Mom stays over, she seems to throw all her and Dad's stuff into the guest bathroom drawer. Your Dad finds it difficult to identify his things in the guest bathroom versus your mother’s things.
So, you try to think of ways that you can assist your parents during their stay at your home.
One way you can help them be organized is to make the space guests share organized BEFORE they arrive.
The big question is: How do you organize a bathroom drawer for multiple people?
NAPO Michigan would like to share some tips on how to organize a bathroom drawer.
Here are three tips on how to organize a bathroom drawer.
1. Insert interlocking drawer organizers
The interlocking drawer organizers assist in creating areas for various items in the drawer. You can pick these up at dollar stores, Walmart, and other retail stores. For adjustable drawer dividers, the Container Store has customize-able solutions.
2. Separate and Label each bin for each person
Creating areas for each person’s stuff allows everyone to easily identify where things are located and where to put things back after each use. For regular visitors, label their bin or drawer so they know where to put their stuff. Finding their stuff will be much easier.
3. Create a cleanup schedule
Creating a cleanup schedule ensures that after each person finishes grooming, their items are expected to be organized immediately following their use and the space will be clean, so the next person can use the space with ease. Ensuring everyone knows the expectation for picking up after themselves will make for a more pleasant home life for everyone.
Organizing your bathroom drawer is easier than you think!
For more organizing tips, visit www.NAPOMichigan.com. You’ll find other informative articles under the BLOG tab.
Article submitted by Chapter member L. Patterson.
January is National Get Organized Month! Or as Professional Organizers call it "GO Month."
Real Simple magazine readers list Getting Organized as their #1 New Years resolution.
If Getting Organized is a goal of yours, have we got an event for you!
NAPO Michigan Chapter Members and Professional Organizers Donna Lindley from Organize Your World, Terri Closs from As You Wish Organizing, and Kari Grady from Need To Organize, will help you learn how to tidy up, downsize, and get organized in the New Year.
This event is FREE and open to the public.
Registration is required and begins December 8 for Bloomfield Township residents.
Nonresidents may sign up beginning January 1, should room still be available.
To register, go to the Bloomfield Township Library website:
We stock up on new holiday decor, new party attire and start buying gifts for those on our list. Products are marketed to us as the absolute “must” of the season or “best price ever”. Black Friday and Cyber Monday can cause anxiety and fear, if we miss the mark. All this can lead us to buying lots of extras for the wrong reasons.
I am not talking about the well-thought-out purchase of items for us or family members.
I am talking about those last-minute decisions we put in our basket to fill a void, even up the gift count or make the holidays even merrier. Those little finds we convince ourselves we or someone else needs.
I am a gift buyer. Give me a theme for a gift and I am off to the races. Unfortunately, my buying and overbuying makes me guilty of leaving traces of clutter in other people’s lives. Many years ago when my oldest daughter and I were cleaning out her room, I was surprised she was willing to donate all these turtle trinkets I had given her. She liked turtles, we had a turtle tank and therefore, I bought turtle stuff as gifts…for years! When I questioned why she wanted to give it all away, she told me “mom, I like turtles, just not turtle stuff”.
Ouch! But I was glad she felt comfortable enough to tell me the truth. I have had the same types of gifts given to me, but mine all were cat themed. For many years, our family bought stocking stuffers for one another. Inevitably each year, I received a note pad with a cat on it. I would smile and be thankful and when I got home I put it in the drawer with prior years’ note pads…all with cats on them.
Can anybody relate to this?
As Professional Organizers, many of us see the gifts our clients receive. In some cases, we help them deal with where to put the gift, how to store the gift, help them decide if the gift has out lived it’s use and help them deal with the guilt of not wanting it anymore.
Since my children are young adults, I am trying to figure out how to fulfill my desire to give to them, without over giving, filling a void, or thinking they will be happier with more. I do give gifts of need, adventure and grocery-type items that help their pocket book.
I have never believed that gifts need to be kept forever. Gifts don’t have to be purchased to let someone know you love them or are thinking of them. Gifts of time and service are most valuable. I don’t want my family to have to deal with too much stuff because I happen to over buy for them.
I write this partially as my own retail therapy. My husband and I spent this past weekend on a road trip. We stopped and did a little shopping along the way. My oldest daughter said she would like a new flannel shirt for Christmas. I ordered the black and red buffalo plaid.
While in line at Bed, Bath and Beyond, I saw a black and red buffalo plaid hot pad…and in another store, the matching coffee mug. My husband politely reminded me that she just asked for the shirt. Rats! He is so right. She has coffee mugs and hot pads. I know she would think it is cute to get her matching pieces…. but it’s not like she is going to cook in her shirt and use the matching hot pad while sipping hot cocoa.
I am happy he stopped me.
No matter how you celebrate your holidays, take a few minutes to check that list and keep unnecessary clutter off of it.
The following was written by Leigh MacReady, President of NAPO Michigan and owner of Re-Nest LLC.
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