For the past several days I have been at the beach house my brother and sister-in-law are renting in Ventura County. I actually came to California at the beginning of the week and spent the first few days in LA so I could see my daughter who is also here, partially for work but also to see several of her friends she hasn't seen in a very long time. She lives in Brooklyn and works in the film industry so she had planned this trip a few months ago once she knew she would be fully vaccinated and could schedule some face-to-face meetings with a few producers about a project she is working on. To say I am proud of her and all of her accomplishments to date, well, I am one #proudmama.
Would I have liked more than 8 hours with her?
Absolutely...but I was well aware that it was all I was going to be able to get when I made the decision to come here as well this week to see her for the first time in 6 months. So I'll take what I can get these days especially if it means we get a photo of us together because we all know that unless something is memorialized on social media it really hasn't happened right? Love her expression in this one. Mine? Well, I've made peace with the fact that I am not very photogenic...
We had an incredible lunch at Katsuya at the Glendale Americana Way outdoor mall and I am not kidding when I say that the sushi melted in my mouth like butter...
Living in a land-locked state like Colorado has deprived me of amazing sushi. Sorry to any sushi restaurants in the Denver/Boulder area but there is just no way I will ever be able to say any of them are "great". Besides, sharing these delicious morsels with my daughter on a beautiful SoCal afternoon post-pandemic life only enhanced the experience.
After lunch and a little "retail therapy" we made our way back to my brother's house in North Hollywood so I could make some chocolate chip cookies for her to take with her to share with her friends over the remainder of her stay. I had to smile when I grabbed a spatula from my sister-in-law's collection. She loves to bake too and has many...as every baker should. But this spatula? It was the exact same one I used a year ago this month when I was staying with them during the pandemic lockdown, a story I shared in a previous blog about my pandemic journey.
This past Wednesday's batch of cookie dough above
Just a little over a year ago this month during a cookie-making
Zoom event on Mother's Day below
I shared the story about last year's Mother's Day in a blog on Mother's Day this year. I know...I tell a lot of stories. And I repeat some version of them because I have found that it helps me connect the many "dots" of my life day to day, week to week, month to month, and year to year. In other words, they really are part of how I reflect on the past to be able to move forward. I think it is a very healthy and cathartic exercise that up until recently I did every Sunday since I launched this website in February with the exception of one week when I simply did not have the time or, dare I say, energy, something I tend to never run out of. I often say that is a blessing and a curse but I definitely use it to my advantage when working with any It's Just Stuff client. It takes a lot of physical and emotional energy to be in the role of a professional organizer and anyone that thinks otherwise has never spent even an hour attempting to help someone truly struggling with TOO MUCH STUFF.
With that in mind, I had made the decision last week before coming to California to write only one Sunday blog a month from now on. It is part of my "moving on" theme for the month of June. Trust me, I don't imagine anyone will be heartbroken by this decision. I've said before that I have very low expectations for getting a lot of readers so this was not something I decided out of frustration or disappointment. I am simply putting less and less pressure on myself these days. I still hustle A LOT and work VERY HARD but as we are really starting to "move on" from pandemic life, my priorities are definitely shifting to maintain a better work-life balance, something I have, yes, shared in a few blogs including a recent one about getting the COVID vaccine
But I digressed...a bit...as is often the case... #iamwhoiam 😉
My daughter left after dinner to get ready for her trip the next day to Joshua Tree with a few of her friends, a place on my bucket list for sure. I had hoped to stop there last May when I left LA and was meandering my way back to Colorado but it was closed due to COVID so I was admittedly jealous that I couldn't go with her this weekend. But, alas, she is an adult who has her own life and gets to have her own experiences without her mother tagging along. It is definitely a "moving on" moment in the course of a parent-child relationship.
I do wish she had been here at the beach to hang out this weekend especially so she could see her cousins. In fact, I wish all of my immediate family was here. Like many families, it has been a very long time since we've been able to even think about being together thanks to COVID but I am incredibly grateful that none of us got sick with the exception of my nephew who goes to UCLA. (Despite how careful he had been, he still ended up with a relatively mild case of it.) Fingers crossed, though, we will figure out a way to be together at some point later in the year.
Being here this week was, of course, an opportunity to see family and a few friends but more importantly, I had to literally travel 1500 miles to force myself to work "on" some things for my business.
I can get some of the mundane tasks done on a day-to-day basis after I finish with clients but to dig deep into creating better systems and planning out marketing for the remainder of the year to follow the idea of a "moving on" theme literally required removing myself from all of the distractions at home. It's just too easy for me to say "yes" to a client that calls last minute needing help if I am physically there. As it is, I have been getting leads and calls while in California from people desperately needing something done before the end of the month. A lot of the requests were for It's Just Stuff's move management services . There is so much demand right now due to the insane Real Estate market and while I never like to say no to anyone, there just wasn't any way I could assign myself or my team any more jobs this week or weekend. Fortunately for the people needing help I was able to refer them to a few other organizers and packing specialists that I have met over the past few years that I trust and knew would provide equally great service.
It's been a crazy spring not only transitioning from pandemic life slowly but surely but also with regard to business. I think there were only 2 days since March that my team and/or I didn't have a client and as of this moment, it seems we are booked out pretty much through mid-July which I have to say I am extremely proud of that fact. I have always been confident in my ability to generate business but I worked relentlessly over the past 6 months since going "all in" and committing a lot of marketing dollars to create the leads that have converted to clients. So when I got a request the other day through Thumbtack asking for packing assistance that evening, I knew it was time to "hide" my profile until at least next week.
Am I afraid I will miss a few potential clients?
Last year I know for sure I would have been. It's one of the reasons I decided to accept a full-time job in August after waking up on a Monday without any clients for the week and, dare I say, freaked myself out a little. But that was before I had a website and a legitimate business plan. The job lasted all of two months. I knew going into it the owner of the company had made a mistake in hiring me but was willing to give it my best shot. That and I thought a "real job" was more stable.
If there is one lesson we all should have learned from the pandemic, life can turn on a dime and our entire economy was vulnerable regardless of any W2 vs. 1099 employment status.
This year, I really "worked" the lead generation thing, especially the Thumbtack platform's direct leads and opportunities over the past several months and have achieved a high ranking thanks, in part, to my clients that have posted incredible reviews . Therefore, I feel like I have hit a good stride for "moving on" through the summer and into the fall.
Suffice it to say, this trip became the decluttering "reboot" I often recommend to my clients. Taking a small step back really does help propel us all forward. So whether you need a service like It's Just Stuff to come in and refresh a particular area every so often or you are the owner of said business, decluttering our minds every once in a while is just as important as decluttering our homes. The relationship between internal and external clutter is something I talk about a lot and, in fact, discussed as a panelist for a Zoom event I did with Mental Health Partners and Journey To Wellness this past Wednesday as part of Mental Health Awareness Month.
We are all kind of "Zoomed out" after this past year so I had no idea if anyone would show up but they did and several participants submitted their compelling stories for a chance to win It's Just Stuff's current giveaway's grand prize, 10 hours of our decluttering/home organizing assistance. That actually amounts to up to 50 hours of our labor since up to 5 members of #TeamIJS will be assigned to go to the winner's home over the course of two days and really be what we claim to be right on our website's home page...
I was hoping to announce the winners in this blog but alas technology was not my friend on Friday and there was a glitch with the entry form. So I made the decision to extend the deadline to today, 5/30/21 at 5 PM MT. If you are reading this after that time I regret that it really is too late for this particular giveaway but I am in the midst of creating several community partners that will be sponsoring pro bono jobs moving forward. This has been my biggest goal this year and I cannot wait to finally be able to take on more clients needing financial assistance thanks to the amazing support of some Denver/Boulder businesses. Stay tuned for more details!
Meanwhile, the winners of all of the prizes will now be announced on Wednesday, June 2nd. I have been continuing to read the very emotional and compelling stories with each entry. There is no doubt the need for my services goes well beyond reorganizing a pantry or a closet. Entire homes are overwhelmed by "stuff" and so many people are struggling to figure out how to maintain any type of order, especially if they are dealing with physical and mental limitations. All of the stories really do break my heart. But at the same time, nothing fills my heart more than when I can help anyone even if it is just for a 30-minute free consult. So just like with yet another story told recently, I will always look forward to getting to the end of a project and sharing the transformation in the hopes that they will inspire others to take even the smallest of steps for reducing the chaos swirling around them. For me, it is the ultimate form of "moving on" with respect to what I do on a day-to-day basis for others.
One of the biggest steps I ever took to reduce the internal clutter that was swirling around me was when I came out to Colorado in the summer of 2016, thinking I would get the "head-clearing" I needed to return to Florida and "move on" after what I do refer to as a sad and disappointing divorce. Instead, I made the decision to stay in Colorado. I truly "moved on" and never looked back. I actually arrived in Colorado on June 5, 2016 so this week mark's my 5 year anniversary. It's been a helluva ride and will no doubt continue to be.
Yes, it is scary to "move on" and away from what is comfortable and safe but it is also very exciting and if for any reason it doesn't work on you keep pivoting and moving in some other direction.
This is, of course, the season for some traditional "moving on" moments. Historically spring is about rebirth and renewal and so it makes total sense that major life events like graduations and weddings feel like organic celebrations despite all of the planning and anticipation surrounding them. And even though these celebrations are still not playing out quite how many people may have wanted again this year, I still have to believe anyone whether graduating from high school and starting college in the fall, graduating from college and starting a career or getting married and starting a family all still feel like they are "moving on".
I'll be moving on later today and heading back to Colorado after a week of creating the clearing I knew I needed for the remainder of the year. Right now, though, after pushing the publish button on this blog I will be heading to the beach to take a yoga class with my sister-in-law and niece who just got here last night from San Francisco. It remains to be seen, though, if I will be able to even "move into" any pose after the HUGE dinner I ate last night.
Hey, I said I was "decluttering" my mind...I didn't say anything about my stomach!
Be well and be safe the rest of the holiday weekend and please, be kind always,
P.S. Just in case you are wondering if I ever turn off my need to organize every space, the answer is no. All it took was for my sister-in-law to say she needed help figuring out how to organize her new refrigerator at the beach and I was on my way to The Container Store about 20 minutes away. Again, #iamwhoiam and #organizersneverstoporganizing !