This past December and before the traditional holiday "slow down"...the two weeks when it seems productivity plummets every year...I had no idea what to expect after, you know, 2020 in terms of whether there would be much of a demand for It's Just Stuff services this holiday season. But what does that have to do with having "happy feet", spirit animals and penguins? Well, if you have ever read any of my blogs you know I always connect the dots...
...but I need to set the stage so to speak first so here we go...
In Decembers past when I was still weaving in and out of being a professional organizer on a full time basis I had a pretty steady stream of clients with various needs....
...A few that wanted help with decluttering their home before the holiday entertaining season began.
...Others were going on vacation and needed a pet sitter.
...And, of course, my annual "latke palooza" event. Every year I make a bazillion potato pancakes for clients who, unlike me, aren't crazy enough to literally line their kitchen with tin foil to reduce the amount of oil splatter cleanup, stand on their feet for hours over the splattering hot oil from two electric frying pans going at the same time nor put up with the smell of that same oil lingering in their home for at least a week.
Well, that was holidays past.
Holiday Season 2020, as you know, was like none other. We were still desperately trying to manage a pandemic and traveling to be with family and friends was not recommended. Therefore, I fully anticipated the newly formed #TeamIJS wouldn't be that busy between Christmas and New Years and was going to just plan to work on launching this website on New Years Day. I figured it was as good of a day as any especially since it does symbolize new beginnings and change. Besides, decluttering resolutions are always a big thing every January.
Meanwhile, I really did have the intention to slow myself down (another blog told that story...spoiler, I kind of failed at slowing down...shouldn't surprise anyone at this point) and focus on working "on" rather than "in" the business at the end of the year. As I just mentioned I did fail at that plan to some degree, the website didn't actually launch until last week and "stuff" just got in the way including a request from a client who was referred to me by a local Realtor to purge the contents of a storage unit.
The purpose of this blog isn't to dive into the general story behind the purge. If you want to check out the full "transformation" and the "biggest takeaways" from this job, it is featured on our, you guessed it, Transformation page. However, I will just say that when all was said and done, the unit was completely empty one day before the deadline imposed by the client so she wouldn’t have to pay another month of rent.
Hey, when we are given a job, we do it!
After the junk removal company came and removed what little was left, mostly garbage bags filled with paper, I pulled down the gate, locked it up and dropped off a few random items at the Boulder Humane Society Thrift Shop on my way home.
It was at this point I realized that there was the box of penguins below that somehow ended up in my car.
I honestly didn't remember putting them in there which is very unusual for me. I mean, don't get me wrong, I can't remember where I put my glasses 5 minutes ago. But when on a job like this I really am hyper-focused and I am fully aware of practically every move I make.
So it is at this point I am going to pause and insert a letter I wrote for several family and friends to start the real "dot connecting" for this blog...
Dear Friends and Family,
The enclosed penguin is one of hundreds...yes hundreds...that was part of a recent client’s mother’s vast collection. There were penguins in all shapes, sizes and mediums. You name it, my client’s mother (she passed away in July from Alzheimer’s) had penguins in every form imaginable inside a giant storage unit that I was responsible for purging. And while I didn’t intend to take possession of anything, a box of penguins did end up in my car after the last item was hauled away a few days into the New Year.
I was going to drop them off at the Boulder Humane Society Thrift Store but something stopped me. I don’t know why I suddenly got it in my head that I shouldn’t, but I decided instead to look up the symbolism of penguins.
And I then had my answer. Thank you Google for teaching me that penguins...
...symbolize dreams, adaptability, dual-natures, closeness, family, and spirituality
...adapt to fly through the water instead of the sky – choosing to dive deep into the world of dreams
...travel easily between realms and, therefore, they are a reminder for us to use our dreaming skills during chaotic times, because a breakthrough WILL happen
...bring confusion, contradictions, and the power to handle opposites with its black and white markings and its ability to live in both Arctic poles and hot climates which means they embrace this dual-natured characteristic by not always having to exclude, choose, or sacrifice
...value closeness and “huddling” together as a community and believe in teamwork and social connection to survive.
...represent good manners and right conduct and will follow rules even when no one is looking
But the most important thing I learned about the penguin as a spirit animal is that it is a symbol of renewal and when one appears you need to release your fears and let go of your old beliefs that no longer are working for you.
Therefore, it is my hope that the penguin each of you receive will serve as the symbol we should embrace as we move forward through what will hopefully be a year of renewal for us all and, like the penguin, may we all be able to “huddle” together again very soon with those not only nearby but also far away. For now, though, the penguin you are receiving is my little way of thanking each of you for being part of my pandemic journey last year simply because you may have…
...answered my texts and calls
...patiently watched me ski with very little confidence
...treated me to a meal
...risked traveling to see me for the first time in 18 months
...offered me a place to stay during the months of being a “wandering Jew”
...acted as an incredible Grand Canyon tour guide
...supported me through the trials and tribulations of job loss
...encouraged me to return to my passion and rebuild my organizing business
...indulged me with any of my ideas for properly socially distanced activities
...and, most importantly, provided distractions right when I really needed it
Be well...be safe,
While the above letter was truly written with all of the genuine appreciation I felt for those who were receiving the penguins, I really didn't think through the time, supplies and overall cost to either ship each one to the designated recipient or package and hand deliver to those receiving one locally.
Don't get me wrong, I am all about these kind of gestures, however, I ended up having to go to several different stores before finding the right size boxes for the shipments not to mention the time at the Post Office mailing some and the UPS store mailing others. Trust me, I wasn't intending to split the shipments between two carriers, but I decided to ship some of them while waiting for addresses from...
...my niece and both nephews and my son who all had relocated since the pandemic began
...my sister who happened to be temporally living in Michigan with her husband while he was recovering from a kidney transplant
...and my father who had moved last year and I hadn't updated his address.
And then I had to coordinate the local deliveries, the last of which I finally gave to a friend this past Friday night when we got to eat outside surrounded by heaters on a pleasant but still chilly February evening in Colorado as we are continuing to maintain proper social distancing. The layers of complications from COVID19 are, well, continuing to be complicated it seems...sigh.
Anyway, I did ask everyone who received a penguin to send me a photo where they decided to place it in their home so here they are...
My daughter's in her Brooklyn apartment she shares with her boyfriend...and I can't forget my "grand-kitty", Milly. She has the penguin resting next to a buddha that was part of a small collection my grandmother had that I ended up with after my mother passed away in 2005 so that definitely gave me "happy feet".
My son's perched very appropriately on his windowsill in Telluride with the snow in the background next to a few more buddhas from my grandmother's collection that I had given him when he first moved there in 2019. The fact that there was a penguin skiing could not have been more perfect for a 23 year old living his dream in a Colorado ski town.
My sister and brother in law's also very appropriately photographed but this one in a moving box where she was about to pack it a few weeks ago prior to their departure from Michigan to head back to Florida to then pack up their life there and resettle in a few weeks from now in Arizona. BTW...I picked this one for them because I thought it really represented them as the couple who has been through A LOT together. It has been a rough few years dealing with my brother in law's kidney disease, but the are finally on the other side of it all and I am so excited they will be so much closer to me moving forward so we will have more opportunities to be together.
My brother and sister in law's penguin? I had no idea that they had their own small collection and apparently neither did my brother. The one they received is the blue one...
This one? It was given to the guy I mentioned in the letter who really was a great distraction during the holidays and he actually got an honorable mention in last week's blog too that commemorated the launch of the website.
And these photos trickled in as well over the past month...
But then one of my oldest friends who has been there for me through all of life's ups and downs more than any other over the past 45 years (gulp) sent me this text...
It never ceases to amaze me how my stories always seem to have some very close degree of separation but this? Maybe you think it's a coincidence but I think not. I have to believe that I was supposed to do this storage unit purge and the bin of penguins did not end up in my car by accident. However they got in there doesn't matter. The fact that they did just proves once again how everything really does happen for a reason.
Suffice it to say, penguins are now officially the spirt animal that will guide It's Just Stuff and I am planning on "sprinkling" them around the website and including them somewhere in my branding because why not right?
It certainly can't hurt and after the past year I want all of the good energy from any source I can get. And so with penguins now having a spiritual impact on It's Just Stuff, should I be at all surprised that when I turned on my computer this morning and the Microsoft default background photo was, yep, some penguins, I wasn't surprised in the least. Well, I may have been taken aback for a second or two, but did still manage to snap this screenshot describing the particular type of penguins that flashed before my eyes...
And there you have it...I connected all of the dots or at least in my opinion.
Here's to us all connecting our own dots in the week ahead, one that I hope is productive and gives you a "happy feet" kind of feeling too!