When Tears Flow

Judith Guertin Posted in Getting Organized

What is behind the tears?

When Tears Flow

20 years ago, just after opening my business, I got a call from a prospective client. Before we started to work together, she asked me to meet her for lunch so we could discuss her needs. She was not willing to let me (or anyone) into her home until she knew we were a good fit to work together. We spent a couple hours talking about the process, my philosophy of organizing, and why she wanted to become more organized now.

Here is what I learned. She was organized at work where there were rules and structure, but she could not recreate this same order for her home life. She had friends at work, but could not invite them to her home for fear being judged for her the clutter and disorganization.

Her goal was to have a home where she could invite family and friends to visit, to relax, cook a meal to share, and to sleep in a furnished bedroom, not a mattress on the floor with piles and baskets of clothes all around.

When we finished lunch, she paid me for my time and scheduled an appointment the following week to begin the project.

It was a bright sunny July day, when we met at her home. I arrived with my toolkit in hand. The doorman announced my arrival, and the client met me in the lobby to take me to her unit. There was silence in the elevator as we passed floor after floor.

When we arrived on her floor, she walked hesitantly down the hall to her door. Once there, she stood silently in front of the door. Thinking she needed my help, I put my hand on the doorknob to open the door. Tears flowed down her cheeks. Standing there in the hallway, I knew the stuff was not the only issue. She was so ashamed of her situation and her inability to solve it on her own. She feared judgement and rejection. On the outside, she was a brilliant, funny, and driven professional, living in a magnificent building.  But, on the inside, she was ovewhelmed and freightened.

My heart went out to her. This was the turning point. What I would do or say next would be the most important in our working relationship. I softly said to her, "I know this is hard; it is scary, but here is the thing, you have already done the hardest part by asking for help. I am here to help. I cannot help unless we open the door. Are you ready to let me open the door?" After a few minutes of letting those words sink in, she was ready. We opened the door. We started...

The most profound thing she said to me in our work together was this: “I would put things away, if only I knew where that was.”

I know there are many of you who understand the depth of this statement. You leave things out so you will find them later, when you need or want them again. Those piles feel comforting; you “know” it is "in there", somewhere. Even if you waste hours looking through those piles, you know  where to look. You, like my client, would like to put things away, but…Those words are on my heart with each new client. I say them often, even now.

Whether it is in paper files, digital files or physical items, the insecurity of not knowing where to find what you have is what my fellow organizers and I can help you overcome. We help you understand where in your home or office to store things, and how to find them again. We help you create your personalized finding system. Once you are confident about where to put something, and how to find it when you need it, the clutter retreats and order takes its' place. With that confidence, your mind and heart find peace.

That said, the most important thing to remember is “life happens.” It happens to me, and to everyone I know. You get super busy at work, someone in your household becomes ill, someone close to you dies, you lose your job, or your job responsibilities change. When these things happen, order and organization take the back seat. It is quite normal to feel defeated as you see clutter gaining momentum once again. 

My clients find it comforting to know, that when this happens, they can recover by using the tools we put into place when we created their finding system. You might call this the maintenance phase, or in the Productive Environment™, it is our 5th and final step of the Productive Environment Process™. We call it, “Sustaining Your Success”. Remember, any time life gets out of order, taking some time to perform this step will help you regain control and the feeling of peace you long for returns. If you need help, reach out and let’s have a conversation.

Let's open the door...



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