Throughout my career as a Professional Organizer many things have come to light. I've come into my own, I've made realizations about how best to help others help themselves and above all have noticed how much things line up in a very synchornisitic way throughout my life, and when I'm organizing it is no exception. This occurs to the point that a friend told me while we were doing a play together that I live "a life of synchronicity." My clients notice it too. I don't remember when the word synchronicity became a regular part of my vocabulary or when I realized not everyone notices the little things that I see as arrows saying, "Keep going, you're headed in the right direction" but I do know it brings both me and many of my clients a great deal of solace when it happens. It weirds us out too. People around me a lot will notice how often I exclaim "That's so weird!" in excitement and wonderment at how things line up. Destiny, lining things up to come together the way the divine order intended. Little indications of the good stuff the future holds or warnings on what to prepare for when the storm hits. I can't count the number of times I've heard my clients say in the past six years "I feel like you're here for a reason" or "I've never had goosebumps so many times talking to anyone as I do with you" or something along those lines. These little nuggets of moments add up to an unexpected treasure in the form of stories whose meaning has not fully come to light...yet.
When I was a little girl I often found myself organizing my friend's playrooms or bedrooms and this continued into my teen years. I would organize and we would talk, share secrets, laugh and be goofy. As a grown woman I find myself doing much the same thing but now for a living. While my journey so far has not been an easy one it is significant to me that I am filled with so much gratitude for what I get to do for a living. That, in general, while I don't fully understand all that's gone on or why, I am internally happy. Obviously not happy all of the time but there is a constant undercurrent that bubbles up that is happy, even when I don't expect to feel that way. The moments when I get to pursue acting in addition to organizing and then on top of that make time to write, that completes the circle for me. That's my professional life but it's also engrained in who I am. We're often told we are not our work and I do believe that in that we are more than our work, however, I also believe that we should do what is our gift and through that we've found our purpose. I often say you should do for a living what makes you a weirdo. That's how you should make money. It's what sets you apart, it makes you different. I use the words weird and weirdo very affectionately and to keep it all in check, we can't take ourselves too seriously, after all. When you hit that sweet spot through how you make a living, it becomes very personal and meaningful. Just like the spaces my clients let me into in their homes, businesses and lives. Just like the space the playwright, screenwriter, director or fellow actor lets me into when I get to share their words, emotions and experiences. Just like when I write for you in this blog. We're sharing not only our professions but but our lives. That's very meaningful. We may not be our work but we are our purpose, that's the meaning of life. Because of this, I feel pretty strongly that there is a spiritual aspect to my work as a Professional Organizer. There's a lot of healing that can happen when someone is open to the process and that's why I hear from clients that our work together is "life changing." The amazing stories I get to hear when items are rediscovered, the tears that are shed, the laughter, the swear words. It's all the momentum we're building to take back our lives rolled into our belongings. It's struggle emerging as clutter which is then released through purging and reorganizing. It never ends and is always beginning. It is intertwined in all aspects of our lives.
Recently, I met a new client named Roberta that shared her basement with me and has given me permission to share this story. She believes, just like I do, that the best way to help others is to share stories like this. Upon my arrival, she told me she doesn't normally let people down "there" and I replied that's a very common theme for my clients and for basements in general. I thanked her for letting me go there with her. We went downstairs moving from her really cute, newly renovated kitchen to the dark, clutter filled basement. We dug in, starting with Phase 1: Sort and Purge after I told her gently but directly that this was more than an 8 hour project. I explained that I didn't think we would get through the floor in 8 hours but not to worry, we would get a big chunk done. This was a large project but in turn it would give her the great results she's craving. It was worth it. She told me she didn't know where to begin which was a part of how things began piling up so I showed her my Start Here Arrow, at the door on the floor. I explained we would work through only the floor 1st, making it Candyland simple. Life is complicated enough, follow the gameboard like you did when you played Candyland as a kid. Decisions started, trash moved up the stairs and out the door, eventually filling the recycle and trash container with a line of trash bags flowing along the side of the house. Treasures were unearthed, sorted like with like.
While we sorted and purged we talked about the things she found, the experiences they reminded her of, the people they were linked to. She had a difficult year last year and told me it had been a very dark time for her. We talked about the people that stood by her and reached out to her anyway, even when she wasn't responding. We talked about the people that didn't. We talked about why that might be. She told me that there were times where she was suffering so much that she couldn't reach out to others for help. She was normally the "strong one." She mentioned that she was thankful for the people that weathered that storm with her. I shared a bit about myself as we talked, not sharing details but that I know what that feels like and sometimes the storm is the very people that you thought would weather it with you. I was really moved by what she shared with me and I was grateful she had found me. She told me she had circled around me quite a bit, she researched me and checked out my Organized by Melissa facebook page along with my website. Then she took the plunge and purchased time. She became very sick once she had the appointment scheduled with me and had to reschedule. The day I was supposed to organize with her the first time was the day I wrote my last blog post about Kate Spade dealing with anxiety and depression which led to her suicide. A dark time for a successful woman, a story many of us can have empathy and compassion for. I told Roberta about the post and then we started to talk about her upcoming trip to Italy with her friends that she had to cancel, to her disappointment, and that she was instead thinking about doing a West Michigan vacation, possibly alone. Something she has never done before. Little moments of synchronicity began to ting. We both have Italian heritage and love Italy. She was on the East side of the state, about 3 hours from Grand Rapids, where I live, in West Michigan, where she was thinking about vacationing to. I exclaimed, "You have to go to Saugatuck!"
As a little girl we vacationed in West Michigan which is how I ended up going to college on this side of the state. I wanted to go to school where I would be close to the Big Lake and the beach...priorities of a free spirit at heart. Saugatuck was my favorite spot we would go to as we went up and down the coast of Lake Michigan. My Mom took all of us girls (I have four sisters) on vacations without my Dad who was busy working and running the family grocery store. As an adult, I admire that she did that. It's hard to do things alone, let alone with a bunch of kids and teens, especially strong willed girls. As an adult I now hit the beach and Saugatuck (among other places) alone a lot. I'm writing this while out alone, something I never used to do. Just like Roberta. I grew up in a big family, always had a lot of roommates in college and never lived alone until 2013 and even at that point got together with friends and family a lot. Then, out of necessity, that had to change. After years of navigating some confusing situations resulting in a pretty massive purge of people from my life which has been really difficult I started to spend a significant time alone to sort through things and leave a gap for new people to enter and for reconciliation or re-connection with those that are meant to come back. At first it was weird to do things alone and I retreated within my home. Eventually, I got a lot more comfortable getting out solo, even on a holiday. I recently made a new friend and when we met in Saugatuck she told me she had seen me earlier eating dinner on a patio of a restaurant alone. She had told her husband that you don't see a woman doing that very often, she told me I looked so confident and that she loved I was out alone. I told her I needed to hear that and thanked her. It meant a lot to me. I told Roberta this story. Now, I should note, that while I may be alone when I'm out and about I know, like they always teach you, that you're never truly alone. I mean, I do believe that something greater is at work and connecting us all, for me I believe that something is God. I get nervous talking about this when linked to my business but have found that people often want to talk about this while we organize and find it comforting. When I'm out and about I know that I've got my army of Guardian Angels that I keep working overtime (not intentionally), my passed away loved ones and the Saints at my side. Not in a creepy way but in a comforting way that gives me faith it's all going to be okay. A lot of my clients feel the same or start to feel that way when the dark times start to lift. The more I focus on this the easier it is to hit the road solo. Here I am, in a stranger's basement, three hours from home, connecting in a very meaningful way talking about traveling alone. I went into cheerleader mode and I told Roberta that I thought she should definitely do her trip even if her friend couldn't join her.
I told her if she goes to Saugatuck she should check out my favorite bookstore above my favorite gallery. The bookstore is owned by an artist that makes the most beautiful glass vases with glass embellishments on the front that are so delicate it's hard to understand how she could possibly create them. The gallery below was owned by another favorite of mine and I shared with Roberta that I owned four paintings from there and there's a fifth that I want and often visit to check-in on, imagining it in my home. I described where the two shops were in Saugatuck and I watched amazement come over her face. She said, "I know which gallery you're talking about." She lives four hours away from this gallery. She told me that she has a painting that she loves from the same gallery, she purchased it two years ago when she was on a trip with her friends. When the doctor she used to work for passed away last year his wife let her pick out some things to have and one of them was a faux decorative stalk of flowers that, when she got home, she realized matched the painting exactly. I couldn't stand it anymore! In my normal fashion, I exclaimed (restraining myself from leaping at the same time), "That's all so weird! That's synchronicity!" I went on to ask if she knows who Deepak Chopra is and explained that he calls this sort of thing Synchrodestiny. Her face lit up again, she knew who he was. I told her about the free 21 Day Meditation he's doing online with Oprah and she said, "I just clicked on that online a day or two ago." "Synchronicity again!" I exclaimed. "I love this." Then I paused. "I'm going to go upstairs and look at the painting." Roberta followed. I came around the corner to look at the painting that I hadn't noticed the last half a dozen times I passed by it while I was so focused on the basement getting sorted and purged. I stood there in shock, speechless. Roberta looked at me, "What?" "Oh my word. That's the fifth painting that I want. Only yours is in landscape and mine is vertical. You bought the same one that I want." What are the odds? This was synchronicity at its finest. You can see in the photo that the painting is very bright, full of trees and streetlights in the rain with a couple walking, nestled together under an umbrella, embracing during the storm. I find it extremely comforting. It represents what I hope for in a relationship with the love of my life, a man to walk side by side with, under the umbrella, making the storm seem not so bad since we were walking through it together. It's a beautiful painting. Roberta told me that to her, that painting represents protection. I told her I felt the same way. We had the exact same interpretation of the exact same painting. She purchased hers two years ago and here I was looking at it after admiring it many times recently in the gallery.
Needless to say, we both felt that this was pretty odd but also significant. She told me that she really needed something like this to give her courage to travel alone and I told her I needed a sign that I was on the right path, I had actually prayed for one on my way to her home. And in her home there was Saugatuck, my favorite gallery and the painting that I hoped to own that represented what I hope for in my future. Now, I was no longer in a stranger's home. I was there with a new person that brought me a great day organizing in her basement and a remarkable story of synchronicity. How remarkable. How comforting. How grateful I felt.
"This gives me validation that things are actually okay, it's not the end of the world to do this trip alone. Talking to you makes me feel like I can do that Western trip." ~ Roberta
You can do it. And remember, you're not really alone.
I hope you have a trip filled with synchronicity, moments of gratitude and a lot of good times.
I hope you all do, for your whole life.
These are the stories that I keep collecting as I sort and purge with my clients.
The painting, I found out when I went to visit it yesterday, was purchased by someone else.
I wonder who got it. It doesn't change what I hope for. It doesn't change this story or these moments. And if I've learned anything it's that it's very likely