Why Organize and Where To Start . . . .

I love watching the CBS This Morning Segments “Note to Self.” Lately, I have been longing for my younger self to give her some tips on organizing her priorities.

There are goals that I could have reached sooner had I realized how simple it would have been to make some commitments early —

  • Pick the first home to be a starter to help build a real estate portfolio of rental properties — I so wish I had kept my first home that was bought for $75,000 in 1979.
  • Don’t be fooled by lower interest rates and refinancing too often, you lose ground every time you re-up any loan for the same term.
  • Don’t start the habit of accumulating things — get out and have adventures instead. It’s really only the big occasions in life that you remember what you wore — BUT — you always remember a trip and who you were with.
  • Keep active forever — feeling good is essential to getting up every day and looking forward to new life experiences.
  • Never stop learning — be curious and stay current on all new technology.

I never asked myself where I want to be in 20/30/40 years. It was not even a flicker of a thought. I never worried about retirement and what that would look like. I thought every book that professed a new idea for success was mandatory reading for me. Buying a family home was huge in my life plan but I never realized how the percentage that it took of the family income would keep adventures out of the realm of possibility. I stopped riding bikes and running on a regular basis — why?

Don’t feel bad for me. My life is good:

  • I have learned to not accumulate clothes or books — there are many of both that I have donated over the last 10 years. Especially those instant business success books that didn’t translate into my success.
  • The closets and cupboards are not hiding unknown surprises. I don’t buy the stuff that used to fill them up — never to be seen again.
  • I graduated from college with my Bachelor Degree later in life. It was a regret I could not ignore — it was worth everything to have that piece of paper.
  • I go over my financial picture every week with the help of Quicken.
  • I love to work and have created a career that incorporates all that I do well and look forward to in my day — I have had many jobs and took the pieces of each that I loved and created When House Is Home.
  • I created this website and am learning how to live in a paperless world (at work and at home). I must admit though, Minecraft still escapes me.

What would you tell your younger self? Do you regret the choices you didn’t make? Is there still time to reach your goals? I say YES!

It’s Never Too Late To Be What You Might Have Been

P.S. I still need to work on bike riding and running — I will update you on my progress. . . . .

Mom Thoughts

I want to think that I was a fun mom — BUT — I do remember worrying most days about keeping the house clean and organized. My kids have all told me at one point that they would stop making their beds when on their own and there was nothing I could do about it. I don’t blame them for rebelling. No glass ever sat on the table for longer than five minutes before it was dishwasher bound. Kids want to grow up with a certain amount of dirt and chaos and mine were deprived of that most of the time, All of my television role model moms of the 1950’s and 1960’s kept their house spotless. My own mom kept our house spotless. As a kid I had chores on a list and each one done paid me five cents. Making my bed was on that list.

I have thought about who might have been a hilarious mom and Lucille Ball comes to mind.

Her daughter, Lucie Arnaz, was asked about that and this was her response:

Now, Arnaz’s favorite memory of Ball, who died in 1989, is decidedly unglamorous.

I sort of always come back to the idea that any memory where she’s just home and has time to just be with us, any of those simple, the simplest of dumbest of memories, you know, making a grilled cheese sandwich in the kitchen,” Arnaz says.

This was the funniest woman ever on television. She made life a hilarious string of unbelievable ideas on how to live daily life. She helped families at home watching television laugh together. Her daughter simply wanted a grilled cheese sandwich and time to just be with us.

It sounds so redundant to say but truly the time the kids are home until age 18 does go fast. I look back now and realize it is impossible to make time slow down while raising kids. There is always so much to do, somewhere to be, homework to get done, chores to complete, meals to cook and emotions to soothe. Kids are loud, they fight, they leave fingermarks on walls and wet towels on floors — they are busy living their thoughts. I was longing for quiet and order when I should have been listening and laughing — helping them live their thoughts.

So, it’s time for me to start to focus on each rare moment of the day as best I can. I needed to find more laughter and started listening to a podcast where I thought I could find some hilarity — “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” — He is hilarious with no script. I wonder how his kids feel about him? Is he funny at home? Does he give them time outs? Do they think he’s as funny as I do?

What about Melissa McCarthy? Does she have her kids make their beds? Can you just decide to be funny and it magically happens?

Here is Melissa’s take on disciplining her very funny kids:

On The Struggle To Discipline Funny Kids

We have very funny kids. [When they try to get out of trouble by being funny, we’re like,] ‘Good bit, strong bit. However, you still have to go clean up your room.’ It’s a balancing act. Kids are really smart. They pick up on everything and then you still have to not laugh in front of them as you tell them that something’s not appropriate, or something might be too aggressive. Then, when they leave the room … Ben and I try to write it down so we don’t forget, and then laugh a lot without them seeing. It’s a system in a web of lies. That’s what it is.

There are all kinds of moms who do their best with limited skills. I think there should be a mom class that teaches how to laugh not only at what kid’s introduce to your life but also at yourself and how you handle it. Maybe I can start one — it will start with a house full of unmade beds and I have to let that go for a day.

Life gets very complicated when you have to keep order in every room in the house. We all need creativity to express what our brains are trying to help us focus on. Noise is good — it means everyone is still alive. Wet towels eventually get washed and smell better. Fingermarks get painted over on walls but we treasure those plaster school projects with the hand imprint. Siblings stop fighting and turn into life-long friends. Scrapbooks reveal the memories that remind us that we did have fun and laugh at least once a month.

Breaking The Rules Once In A While

I See You

I was in my local coffee shop and just finished my order. I noticed the line behind me had 2 people when a group of 3 went straight to the register and ordered without noticing that there had been people waiting behind me. They never looked, just ordered.

The lady who was bumped in line was so kind and just let them go ahead of her. I decided to walk up to her and let her know that I SAW HER and that she was not invisible. She explained that she just felt like it was a fight she didn’t want to start. The barista also spoke up and said that he saw her too. She appreciated that we noticed her.

It may seem like a small thing but I started thinking about people who do not feel seen. It got me wondering about how such a simple moment can change someone’s day. It woke me up to the fact that sometimes I am not paying attention either, especially when I’m in a hurry. Why has kindness taken a back seat in our society? Is everyone just in our way and an annoyance? Do we even care to realize that every person matters?

I started thinking of all the situations that trigger frustration:

  • On the road while driving — especially in traffic
  • Pedestrians who have the right of way
  • Any elementary school playground
  • The waiting room of a doctor’s office
  • The airport
  • Trying to reach customer service by telephone

It’s okay to:

  • Let someone into your lane, even if they decide at the last minute — we all do that once in a while
  • Look for pedestrians — show them you see them
  • Help kids learn to work out their conflicts right there on the playground — make sure they each listen to the other’s feelings — then send them back to play
  • Create better systems in waiting rooms — update everyone who is going to be taken in late — everyone’s schedule matters
  • When flights are delayed, update every 15 minutes and be honest as to what the problem is —
  • Customer service is the first line item when running a business — if that is not pleasant for customers, everything else will fail behind it.

I decided to change my routine and while taking my normal walk around our reservoir, I looked up at everyone I passed. Everyone smiled — people took the time to say hello.

Taking a Walk

I stopped on a street near my house last week and noticed that the neighborhood goats were set up getting rid of our dry brush. This sight attracted so many people — they all got out of their cars to see this extraordinary service take place and everyone was amazed, smiling and taking pictures. Kids don’t see this sight every day.

Thank You Goats!

It doesn’t take much of our time to value people. It just needs to be a part of our day. Who knows, it could become a habit —- I SEE YOU!

Why The Moon?

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

President John F. Kennedy at Rice University, Houston, Texas September 12, 1962
A Daughter’s Reflection

It’s funny the things that stay in my memory.

I was seven years old when politics started to become a part of my life. President John F. Kennedy inspired my parents and that positive energy kept me curious as to what a President was and what he did. People liked him and he made them laugh. He challenged the country to give back and serve. He had an adventurous spirit and loved the ocean. He was an Irish Catholic and my grandmother beamed at that fact. He had a daughter that was my age.

It also was the first time I realized that evil could take him away forever. No child was protected from the news that our President had been killed. Our country cried for days and the sadness left a mark on all that remember that time in November, 1963. I kept thinking about his children. There were no neighborhood kids playing outside. Every business was closed. We were frozen watching Walter Cronkite on CBS News hoping that he was wrong.

Disbelief and Shock

We got to the Moon and beyond. His words repeated over the years as one of his greatest speeches — we choose to do things not because they are easy, but because they are hard . . .

I learned to be sad but to keep moving forward. Our neighborhood organized a talent show in our garage and sent the money to the Kennedy Family to help build the Kennedy Library. We were so proud to collect our coins and send them in the mail. We received the card that gave us hope that he would be remembered forever

Sadness/Giving Back

This week has been full of news reports about the 50th Anniversary of getting to the Moon. How could he predict such an accomplishment? It was said today that the technology that led to that famous landing set the course for all of our technological advances as we know them today.

I’ve heard many times to dream a dream bigger than you can imagine for yourself. Accomplishments come from doing hard things. Pride comes from a humble and hard-fought win.

I kept going in my life even when things got hard. I’ve made mistakes but worked hard to get back on the right path. Sadness takes a piece of our heart but it builds resolve.

The other night I saw an amazing and bright moon outside my window. I never want to lose that image of it’s bright light inviting adventure.

Brave Enough

What I’ve come to notice is that if we are brave enough to allow parts of ourselves to die — old roles, old beliefs, and old identities that no longer serve us — then we can evolve more fully into our authentic selves. Sit with that.

Maria Shriver

Change is scary and hard. It is easier to stay in the comfort zone of every day life. Problem is there is a moment when the question becomes “what if I’d…….”

I got comfortable with the safe pattern of being a nurturer rather than a dreamer. I avoided risk and set myself up for zero growth as I aged. I wanted to make sure that no one was ever angry or disappointed in me. I was becoming a very uninteresting and sad person.

Funny thing, there always comes a day of reckoning with yourself. Here is when it happened for me:

  • I was in the walk-in refrigerator of our restaurant crying for the thousandth time;
  • I had lost my laugh;
  • Our life savings was in that business and I could not walk out;
  • What the heck did I want — no one knew.

I decided it was time to find someone to help me sort out what I was feeling. I found a counselor who did not let me feel sorry for myself. Instead we worked on a finding out what I wanted and setting goals week by week. I lost my tears and gained a plan.

We sold the restaurant a year later. I enrolled in college. I got busy and had to restructure my day so that my kids, my husband and my home did not take the hit for me finding myself. I made the decision that even if I only had the ability to take one class a semester, I would not stop till I completed my degree. It took me almost 15 years but I graduated and found my strength in the process. I did not quit when it got tough. Tests and term papers became my challenge. Although going to school was tough on my family, they never wavered in their support for me.

How does this story relate to When House is Home you ask? Through it all our home was a part of all the changes I went through. I always felt relief that I had this space to give me comfort when I opened the door. It was filled with chaos and love. It was set up to be a happy place. No matter where I was in my world, it never failed me. When a home recharges your spirit — you know it is meant to be yours.

I learned to trust my instincts that the paths I had taken all these years were exactly what I was meant to do. What role do you want to shed? If you could wake up tomorrow and be doing anything, what would it be? I am paying more attention to people who do great things with a simple idea — one of them is 4Ocean. They are two surfers who started cleaning up the ocean trash, one pound at a time.

When House Is Home

What I Learned This Week

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.” Henry David Thoreau

My struggle has always been to stay in the present. Writing is my tool to keep me humble. My outward demeanor does not always match what my brain is thinking. I want to laugh all the time but I am so serious most of my days ~~ is it possible to find those waves that Thoreau is talking about?

I subscribe to Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper ~~ she makes me laugh in her quest to be unique, she too is trying to figure out who she is and what she wants aside from expectations and she interviews interesting people with thought provoking problem solving ideas on her podcast “Meaningful Conversations” ~~ all the ingredients that keep me coming back each week. I like the way she approaches life and inspiration is a great way to move forward.

This week my husband and I made a major life decision:

When Downsizing is Not Downsizing

We have been looking at smaller homes in our area. We knew downsizing would be hard but would open up possibilities ~~ smaller yard, smaller inside, more free time. Turns out downsizing would have been more stressful to achieve than we hoped:

  • We would be making a lateral move financially and the security we have built up over our last 36 years would dissolve.
  • My husband’s creative vision for our yard would disappear with a sale and I reminded him, “when our family and friends step outside, they feel your love.”
  • Every room has meaning and that was our plan.
  • A larger home means more movement each day ~~ a good thing for our health.
  • Our neighborhood is familiar and comforting.
  • Watching a moving van pull away would take too much of the life we built together with it.

Home is a feeling ~~ not stuff. We must come up with a new idea for an adventure but we want to come home to the place we love.

And so, we are staying. We are relieved. We laugh more each day. We have to rely on our imaginations to come up with new ways to explore our need for change. We must stay healthy to keep up with our home maintenance schedule. Creative financial planning must become a date night topic.

We are still those two young marrieds with four kids who created a beloved home with meaning. We are not ready to let it go . . . . .

When House Is Home Family

Before Anything ~~ There’s Organizing

Has this ever happened to you?

  • Walk around the house and wonder where all the “stuff” came from
  • Find that you’ve put everything under beds and shoved in closets and drawers
  • Feel anxious when you walk in the house
  • Never feel done with chores
  • Procrastinate paying bills and reconciling accounts

How to start. . . .

  • Pick a small task, start a timer and finish it within an hour
  • Pick one day a week devoted to organizing — no more than 2 hours and write it on your calendar
  • Put on your favorite podcast, music or tv show to keep you interested in finishing
  • Hire someone to help you start

I want this for you. I want to make it fun and something you look forward to. I want you to have more time for the things you want to do and not feel weighed down by clutter.

Tips to start . . . .

  1. Watch the Marie Kondo Series On Netflix ;
  2. Follow Clea and Joanna on their instagram organzing journey The Home Edit — they have built an amazing business and their pictures are inspiring ;
  3. Go to The Container Store and just browse all the possibilities for your home (it’s better to walk the aisles first, then you can shop online ;
  4. Make a list of all of your bank accounts, credit cards and loans to start painting a picture of your finances — You can start with Mint Money Manager it’s free ;
  5. Start following Houzz on Facebook for ideas and pictures of your dream home ;
  6. Walk your neighborhood to see what you drive past every day!

Your Home is Your Biography

I counted the other day and I have lived in 13 homes in my life. I have lived in my present home for 36 years which is by far the longest time period of any of them. I think all biographies could begin and end with a chapter on each home you have lived in. They tell the stories of growth, adventure, frustration, joy, finances, clutter and stir memories like nothing else in your life (except maybe our cars that hold stories within their doors).

I’ve always had a feeling about home. Each one becomes a part of the history of you. Moving in is tiring and fun. Leaving is sad for all that is left behind. Every house I’ve been in tells my story. I can be funny. I am a positive curious girl who daydreams a lot or I am extremely responsible and organization overtakes my day. My first house was simple and small. It was a fun neighborhood and it was easy to just grow up with few worries. My second house was two story and held all my teenage decisions. I had my own room and learned to meet new people. I’ve lived in apartments, rented homes and condos I bought too fast. Every place held promise.

FAST FORWARD 45 YEARS ~~ I’ve been in my home for all these years and I wake up every morning wondering if I will regret selling it for a smaller home. Our kids were raised here and we created an art studio for Chris. It is a large 1/2 acre yard and we spent every weekend caring for it and the kids. Is it possible to wake up in a different home and start over?

I lack a sense of adventure. I want to change that. It is okay to let my guard down and try new things. Chris and I have the chance to create a home without worrying how it will affect anyone but ourselves. We have ideas we have never been able to create.

My friend, Monday, has sold her home and her whole family has taken off on a trek across the United States. Even though she is scared, she made it happen. Her stories are hilarious and honest. It is not easy but I can almost guarantee that her kids will thank her for this one day. Even with all the sibling fighting, bonds are being made. Will our kids have nightmares about the new family that will be living in their house?

So this is the first step. Saying out loud that this is going to happen. Making a promise to myself and Chris that we will stay on this path and see it through. Now how in the heck do we start downsizing our “stuff?”

The Start

Transition

Take a step back and really know that you want to be a homeowner. If those reasons outweigh your worries about the market, then you are on the right track. When we bought our home 36 years ago, interest rates were 12- 1/4% but we bought to build a family environment that helped ease the stress of a blended family with our kids. Our home is part of the family and has provided a safe refuge to rest, energize and get back out in the world for our kids (we have four) — even though they are now on their own.

Life At Home

If you have a five-year plan to stay, try to buy something that you can keep, pay off and possibly rent out for future retirement income — my biggest regret is that we did not keep the first home we sold when we bought this one.

Make a Plan


If you decide it is time to buy your home, it is likely that you will walk into a house, look around and say “This is Home” . . . . Your journey has begun.

Your Journey

When House is Home

Your home is your recharge station. It starts and ends your day. It is such a good feeling when you walk in the door and look around and love what you see.

Create Your Vision

How many times have you passed by a room, your closet, the garage, the yards or your office and said “it’s time for me to do something about that space.” Months can go by and you still have not found the time to work on the space that is driving you crazy. Contact us — we can help!

Make Your Home Yours

It all starts with a “to do” list and your budget. A simple start is best and we begin with the end in mind. If it was all done — what would it look like? We have used this process to update and organize our own home over the last 34 years — the best feeling is knowing something is getting done and that your list is working.

Set Your Goals

Chris can help with the landscape design or updating of your yards. Start with the basics of making sure the sprinklers are working and then planting of each section can be done over time.  Believe me — our yard did not look like this when we moved in! Over time, following a plan, we realized our vision.

Our Yard Over Time

Sherry can help with organizing those closets, the garage, your office, photos and paperwork. It can be tough to let go of things that you think you might need in the future — but clutter can keep you anxious. Clothes that you save for “some day” can make room for new items that update your look. Photos that have been stored in the back of a closet for years can be brought out and shared. Income tax time can be made easy when paperwork is organized with files that keep getting updated every month. The garage can stop being the “throw and close the door.”

A Simple Place For Everything

 

Go to our CONTACT tab and email us with your “to do” list.  We offer a free first consultation and service all of Orange County, California.