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Lost In Space - A Professional Organizer's Story About Loss and The Void Left Behind

A few weeks ago I attended what has become my “go to” yoga class most Sunday mornings. I stumbled upon the instructor on social media and from the second he dropped his first “F bomb” I knew I had found my tribe.

Hey, we all need to figure out how we connect with others…if you want someone more “woo woo” and politically correct I promise there is a never-ending supply of those instructors out there.

But the guy I am now following like, well, the badass yogi that he is, truly resonates with me. He may not be your cup of tea but anyone that can make me laugh when feeling overwhelmed, tired and a little sad due to the never-ending stream of crap life seems to want to throw at all of us that I know I cannot always control but desperately want to? That is my person!

So the theme of that particular week’s class was “loss”. And I was thinking about so many recent losses.

Most importantly?

I was thinking about my brother-in-law who lost a significant amount of time over the past several years fighting for his life due to kidney disease. And my sister, his primary caregiver, obviously lost a lot of time too being able to enjoy life with him.

It was not the way their love story should have played out and unfortunately, it ended when he lost his battle this past week.

And my sister lost the love of her life.

My heart really aches for her and my nephew and I hope they know how much our entire family all so desperately wishes we could have done more to help especially in the past few years navigating the disaster we call a healthcare system in this country.

So what does any of this have to do with being a professional organizer?


A large majority of It’s Just Stuff clients are going through tremendous losses when they hire us.

Loss of a marriage…

Loss of a family member…

Loss of a friendship…

Loss of a job…

Loss of their health…

And for those affected by a natural disaster like so many here in the Greater Boulder Valley affected by the Marshall Fire 5 months ago, loss of a house and sense of home.

Meanwhile, I have been struggling with the quote below about loss that my yoga instructor shared during the class two weeks ago...or at least I think it is the one he shared. If not it was one with a very similar message...

“Anyone who has lost something they thought was theirs forever

finally comes to realise that nothing really belongs to them.”

― Paulo Coelho

Yeah, I understand we don't "own" people, they aren't belongings. But people die…it’s inevitable...

...and that results in a loss...

...and I refuse to believe those people were never meant to be part of/belong to our lives.

I suppose some would argue that the loss of a spouse or significant other due to a divorce/break-up rather than death is ok with Coelho's mindset, but despite whatever pain and suffering one goes through over that type of loss, I have to believe I was meant to have the experiences I shared with my exes and will never believe my children didn't "belong" as a by-product of my first marriage.

When those marriages ended, the loss I felt was so deep at the time they happened, but I’ve carried on and even decided to go to Las Vegas last week for the first time since my divorce from my second husband and managed to be there without getting emotional or thinking about all the memories I had there with him.

It’s really not a place I enjoy visiting but have to give my ex a lot of credit for making it a lot of fun every time we went together. I mean, come on, the guy planned a rather elaborate surprise engagement at the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel and a year later we celebrated a commitment to one another (the actual marriage didn't happen for another 18 months) with 50 family members and friends at Liberace's Mansion. And we were there several other times through the years so it definitely was a place that held a lot of memories.

All that said, I’m just not a fan of gambling, lounging at a pool or shopping. So that pretty much leaves eating and going to shows. Not enough of a reason to go anymore…except when your adult children get you a ticket to see a particular concert that is only in Vegas, you go and create new memories like I did with my son who was there with me this past Wednesday evening to share the experience of Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak's "Silk Sonic" show at the Park MGM. And while we had an incredible time together at the concert, we woke up the next morning to the very sad news that my brother-in-law had, indeed, passed away.

As it turns out he passed away right around the time that Earth, Wind and Fire's "Shining Star" was playing over the loudspeakers while waiting for the concert to start. I turned to my son and told him I had a weird feeling that I thought he was taking his last breaths at that moment. When he asked why, I reminded him that the song playing was not only the one I mentioned at the Anderson Paak concert we went to together at Red Rocks in June 2019 (one of AP's songs had a similar vibe) but also and much more importantly, the one my brother-in-law/his uncle made his theme song as he was being taken into surgery for his kidney transplant in October 2020.

Life is filled with moments where we go from such a fabulous high to a tragic low in the blink of an eye and as a professional organizer, I hear the stories from clients all the time. It is often the very reason they call on me to help them get through whatever grief/pain they may be experiencing after any kind of loss and begin the process of "letting go" of their stuff that carries too much of a burden after their loss.

It is definitely the reason a recent client contacted me after having more than her share of losses this past year. Her daughter lost a lot of innocence when she had to move halfway across the country to get away from the kids that had been bullying her at school right when she and the mother found out that the father/husband had brain cancer. Sadly, he passed away in February but it took another 3 months before my client and her daughter were able to move into their now permanent home in the Denver area after living in hotels for the better part of the past year.

Team IJS arrived at their house 10 days ago for the first of many days to help unpack and get everything properly organized and contained. Suffice it to say, it was an emotional process as we began to open each box one by one only to discover that the movers that were hired to pack them up in their absence did a mediocre job at best. We were finding sets of glasses and dishes spread out over several boxes and only after we thought we had found all of the ones in a particular set and figured out which cabinet shelf they would be placed, then we would find a random box in the basement that wasn’t marked as "kitchen" and have to pull stuff out of cabinets to reconfigure what we refer to as all of the “pieces of the organizing puzzle”. It really does become quite the Jenga/Tetris scenario.

From the moment I walked in the door with my team, it was clear we were going to be feeling so many similar feels as I had just found out the night before that my brother-in-law was being put into hospice care. After my sister pressed the doctors for some idea of “how long” they said a month at most but more than likely no more than a few weeks. I was admittedly distracted by this news, but was trying to keep it together for my client who understandably burst into tears several times over the next few days I was there.

And every time she started to weep, I walked over and gave her a big hug thinking about how my sister was no doubt going to have many crying fits like this in her not too distant future. I wish I could have hyperspaced myself to her and given her big hugs too, but maybe I was meant to be right where I was with this particular client at the exact moment we both needed comforting. People do come into your life for a reason, season, and lifetime and while it remains to be seen what category this particular client will fall under, I am just so grateful she was the client I was working with that week.

And then I read the review she wrote on Yelp the other day and started to cry hysterically.

We had a major move from IL to here. My husband just died of brain cancer a few months ago and I am in overwhelm. Beth was the first to respond to my thumbtack request. We set up time right away and she listened to my needs. She showed up the next day and it was magical. Not only did she unpack my kitchen with deft precision but she provided recos and was incredibly resourceful in helping me with other needs. As we reflected on the day, we came up with a plan and she was collaborative and communicative to help manage the unpacking methodically. She is a ninja and hardcore. She helped me regain some sleep and her team has the same high standards and kindness. She was sensitive to our situation and helped me push through this difficult time with hugs and an abundance of empathy throughout the day.

I realize on the surface this was not something I should have had such a deep and visceral reaction to but maybe you just had to be with us meticulously going through a lot of stuff and hearing the stories about this particular husband/father and everything they had gone through together in the past year. And you definitely would need to better understand my relationship with my sister and brother-in-law to connect some dots with this client. All I know is the sense of loss was palpable for both of us.

So now what?

Well, for my sister, she will begin to build her new life in a city she barely knows, a life that she didn't anticipate building without her husband when they made the decision to move there at the beginning of 2021. They really thought he had made it through the hardest of times, including the kidney transplant in October 2020 and he would finally start to recover. But infections began to ravage his body repeatedly and a year and change later he just couldn't fight them anymore.

And for the client mentioned above? She will no doubt begin to build her new life here in Colorado and I fully anticipate her being someone that will be in my life for more than the initial reason she contacted me. I told her she is now a member of my tribe and I will be taking her under my social butterfly wings and "carrying" her with me to any of the social activities she wants to attend. I think that means we somewhat converted a loss to a win, don't you?

I would be remiss at this point if I didn't mention the fact that it is Memorial Day Weekend and while we treat it as a chance to celebrate the beginning of summer, it really does have a very somber meaning. To all who are mourning the loss of a loved one who fought so bravely to defend our country and died during service to our nation, my heart go out to you.

And while we are still discussing loss, the latest school shooting has me and Team IJS at a complete loss for words. Well, that's not entirely true because I made the decision to put this statement out on social media this past Wednesday and truly stand behind it...

I would rather lose a few clients moving forward than gain a few dollars. I am aware that making this statement will not change anything in terms of gun control/regulation, but it will hopefully help me sleep a little better at night knowing I am not doing business with anyone that apparently values some antiquated "right to bear arms" over the lives of innocent people.

And on that note...please be safe this holiday weekend and, most importantly, always be kind,



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