There are a lot of tools and resources that professional organizers use these days that definitely make our jobs easier but it seems like the one that has "evolved" the most in recent years are label makers. If you have walked into Michaels or The Container Store in the past few years the shelves are loaded with pre-printed labels in all kinds of fonts.
Anyway, as much as I believe in using label makers to help most clients maintain and contain their "stuff" in terms of the literal use of a label maker, this blog is actually more about the figurative use of them and how it impacts how I and my team have navigated a dramatic increase in how far too many people are literally having labels "slapped" on them to the degree they become paralyzed and I for one am so frustrated by this trend.
Before I begin to work with any client I always have a FREE 30-minute virtual consult to get a better sense of their specific needs and to make sure we really are a good fit for one another. In the past few years, I think I have had close to 500 consults, at least 85% of which the client has expressed to me that they feel ashamed or guilty because they can't tackle any decluttering and organizing on their own for a variety of reasons...or "labels" as the case may be.
Whether they suffer from depression, anxiety, ADHD, OCD or anything else, they become "labeled" for life in a very negative way and those labels make them even less productive and less organized. That is the total opposite of what the literal labels are intended to do that my team and I put on bins and baskets...they are there to help not hurt.
And yet here we are in 2023 hurting millions of Americans every year by making them feel like they are lazy, not worthy, incompetent, stupid, etc. because they don't know the best way to organize their pantry???
I received an inquiry several weeks ago from someone who has been "labeled" a lot of things and went through a horrible divorce from an extremely narcissistic man. Like most narcissists, he made her feel like she was incapable of doing anything and over time it has taken a toll on her physically and mentally. We have yet to meet in person but have had several conversations by phone. Unfortunately, she doesn't have the bandwidth right now to do virtual calls...Zoom can still be very intimidating, not to mention exhausting for people even after relying on it so heavily during the pandemic.
I agreed to help her at a discounted rate since she has limited funds but knows she needs to get back in balance post-divorce. Fortunately for her, she is part of a self-directed program that Medicaid recipients are eligible to tap into called Public Partnerships and can temporarily hire me as a W2 employee to receive the help she decides she needs, not an insurance company or doctor. I wasn't aware this type of program existed but am sooooooooooooooooo glad I found out about it because it will now become a resource I will recommend to all of my clients that qualify for Medicaid and are struggling with their "labels" and getting the proper help to overcome them.
We have a lot of problems in our society and I may not be able to solve any of them, but I am doing my best to at least be open-minded and compassionate toward helping It's Just Stuff clients reframe the labels they've been given.
Putting labels on tangible things in any space may be timing consuming but after we have implemented them they will still have a positive impact on how our clients function in their homes moving forward.
Putting labels on intangible things (i.e a person), though, will never benefit anyone and just keep the cycle of chaos in anyone's life going for the rest of their lives.
As we enter what I am certain will be a very busy spring move management season there are so many leads coming from Realtors who are trying to get homes listed as soon as possible. But out of the dozen Realtor calls I received in the past few weeks, the vast majority of the homeowners were "labeled" by the Realtors as hoarders and are, dare I say, freaking out that they'll never be able to sell the homes.
Listen, I get it...If you are not seeing these situations on an almost daily basis as I do you cannot begin to understand why the sellers don't understand that no one is going to want to buy their home in its present state unless an investor comes along and plans to just gut the place or tear it down altogether. And while there is plenty of those type of sales still happening everywhere, a seller who has spent years accumulating so much stuff can become incapacitated with fear at the thought of letting go of anything.
My team and I can come in and do these types of cleanouts but we will do it with as much intention as possible...unless there is a biohazard situation and that means partnering with a company that specializes in situations where it is truly dangerous to be working inside the home due to mold, mildew, rodent, insect infestation, etc. Just because you may only see their "stuff" as junk, doesn't mean it is to them and we always do our best to give our clients the time and space to prepare for the decluttering process.
Does that sometimes cost more money?
Sure, but the ultimate goal is to reduce the burden they carry forward and that is, in my opinion, priceless!!!
For the record, I was "labeled" as neurotic by people in my past that didn't understand my need for order in my life. And I wish I knew as much as I know now about the psychology behind how I operate vs. those that are habitually disorganized and lack any executive functioning skills. I promise I have tried really hard not to impose my needs on anyone but it is how I function and I'm sure my kids and ex-husbands would beg to differ as to whether they felt I made my desire to maintain a calm and organized home more of an obsession that affected them. I am sure there were times it seemed I was out of control as I never liked anything left on a surface for very long but it's actually how I felt in control and I think we are all entitled to having control over our lives unless it really is hurting someone.
I suppose one could argue that we are all capable of hurting someone by just being who we are at our core, but at my core I know I am a good person and never wanted to intentionally hurt anyone. So I would ask that we all give each other a little more grace please for trying to function in a way that feels most natural to each and every one of us.
On that note, I am going to quit while I think I am ahead and not belabor this particular matter. And yes, I do believe that makes this the shortest blog I have written in over two years but hopefully still got my point across. I haven't even spent any time looking for relevant photos or memes so nothing to break up the monotony of a bunch of words on your computer screen but hope you still found value in what I put forth.
With that said, just as I was getting ready to set up this blog to post on social media I came across this meme...
I'm sorry I couldn't find the actual source of the meme but hopefully the cyber police will not come after me for being a messenger of good, well, messaging. I just thought it speaks to what we all need...a lot less overall judgment and a lot more overall compassion for ourselves and others.
Bottom line, the literal use of labels is great for keeping our lives relatively organized.
But the figurative use???
It is damaging our society on so many levels and it just needs to end.
Nothing good will come from any of us belittling and disparaging one another, especially over how someone's closet looks.
Honestly, who cares?
If you are able to function, don't spend a lot of time searching for things or waste a lot of money on things you probably already have and you are not affecting anyone else's life then stop worrying about whether anyone else thinks your closet is Pinterest, Instagram, Tik Tok or anything else "worthy" because these days I am really questioning the vast majority of many social media influencers credibility. And the vast majority of my clients??? They just want a calmer, "label-free" feeling in their homes and however that is achieved is truly a personal choice.
Yeah, think about that and if you don't feel anything then maybe you would like to come help me and #TeamIJS one day to see how truly difficult it is to overcome any "label". I promise it is heartbreaking but if you are willing to be empathetic it can also be incredibly heartwarming.
I'm really not kidding!
I am always looking at hiring more team members.
So if you happen to live anywhere along the Colorado Front Range or in California between Santa Monica and Santa Barbara and would like to help our clients go from chaos to calm, those are the areas I am currently looking for more help so please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to coordinate a time to chat.
Be well and always be kind,
Chief of Chaos To Cam