Friday, December 17, 2010

Inching closer to Christmas ...

This year the energy in the world seems odd to me.  Everyone is on edge and crankier than usual.  Have you found that to be true in your neck of the woods?  It can be more difficult than usual to stay calm and centered. The words of wisdom I have for today are simple: stick to your budgets!  Don't over spend. If you are tempted to do so remember the force behind the desire is your emotions trying to 'drive the bus.'  You stay in charge.  Think beyond the momentary delight of making this forbidden purchase to the day you open your credit card bill in January.  Did you 'sober up?' I thought so!  It works for me every time.

Don't forget those other budgets: the one for your energy is important.  You can't do it all without taking the chance you'll wind up with a cold or in an exhausted heap on Christmas morning. And then you have your emotional budget: how much celebrating will you participate in?  How much time will you give your cantankerous Uncle Albert on Christmas Eve? There's always a balance to be struck between legitimate obligation to those we love and outright manipulation.  Don't give in to the latter.

Other than a lot of sugar and egg nog (joking!), how can you stay focused and centered this last week before the big day?  Remember to exercise even if that's only a brisk 15 minute walk.  Stay hydrated and that means water not more soda or several pots of coffee or tea. And take a meditation break.  It will calm your mind and give you a new perspective on Uncle Albert.  And guess what else is calming?  Are you ready?  Please tell me you're sitting down.  OK.  Getting organized is very relaxing if you have the right attitude.  After all you are exhibiting control over your environment and that's pretty powerful. 'Stuff' won't talk back to you.  It won't make you feel guilty (you're on your own with that one) or ask why you don't call more often.  It's just stuff. We imbue it with magical properties.  As your environment gets more orderly it will be easier to think clearly.  Your self-esteem will rise and you will feel in control.  I can't think of a better gift to give yourself this holiday season ... except maybe that yummy cashmere sweater you're waiting to go on sale.  I understand.  


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Truly useful gifts!

I cut down on catalogue subscriptions last year so the ones I receive now are the ones I really enjoy. Last night as I perused a few of my favorites, I was struck by the number of really wonderful stocking stuffer gifts available this year.  For example, there's one called the Life Hammer which is actually a type of knife that can easily and quickly cut a seat belt in an emergency.  For $20 you can make all of your loved ones who drive a lot safer on the road! I found it in the Solutions Catalogue. (www.Solutions.com; item 86304; $19.95)

There's always someone on your list who doesn't have space for a shredder, right? Well, the Container Store has a stainless steel shredding scissors! They fit so neatly into an office or kitchen drawer.  For a mere $8.99 you can help someone stay safe from identity theft.  It doesn't get any better than that, does it?  Even grandma will make room for one of these. Check out www.thecontainerstore.com.

When I lived through the Northridge earthquake, I wished I had had automatic emergency lights.  The quake plunged me and my golden retriever into darkness. Guess what?  Emergency lights exist!  Bed, Bath & Beyond has one called the General Electric Rechargeable LED Power Failure Night Light.  When you shut off the lights in a room, it provides a soft night light.  In an emergency it turns into a flashlight.  There are many versions of this emergency light.  This one retails for under $20.  I have them in every room of my home!  Check out all the wonderful items at www.bedbathandbeyond.com.  By the way never toss out your Bed Bath and Beyond coupon.  They are honored long past the expiration date.

Have you ever purchased an item and found yourself unable to pry past the sturdy, thief proof packaging? They actually make special package openers.  All the stores mentioned here will have one and they retail for under $10.  Just ask for a 'package opener.'  Ladies, save those manicures!


Finally any one of the books in my One Year to ... series will fit nicely into a stocking this holiday.  You can match the book to your friend or family member's greatest organizing challenge.  I've got one for the home, the office and your finances. 

What practical items will you pop into a stocking this holiday?







Monday, December 6, 2010

Counting Down to Christmas ...

I was reminded recently how this holiday means different things to different people.  I teach people how to shop within the framework of a budget and a gift plan.  I teach them how to plan menus and throw a fabulous party.  When it comes to my own life, I must say I have something of a 'been there, done that' attitude.  I don't want to crawl around a crowded mall, drive the freeways with thousands of my fellow drivers or cook a big meal.  I did all of those things for years and I have to say it all brought me great joy.  But now I'm content to help others and concentrate on the Spiritual aspects of this beautiful season.  

I have friends who are in the same boat with me.  One told me recently that she had everything she needed.  In lieu of another gift, she wanted 'an experience.'  We grabbed another friend and went to the theater!  I like to meet friends throughout the year in different places to spend a few quiet days catching up on our lives.  Instead of gifts in boxes we get memories for a lifetime. 

But I am not holding one type of experience above another. It's more of a cautionary tale: if we are the same at 50 as we were at 20 something is missing ... like growth!  What concerns me is how rocking the holiday boat causes some family and friends to become quite upset.  It's as if we're saying we reject them personally.  Somewhere between what we need to do to honor friends and family and what we wish to do to preserve our own sanity lies the perfect holiday. Have you found yours? Did your new tradition meet with opposition?  I'd love to hear your story!

May you have a holiday experience you will long hold in your heart as one of the more 'perfect' experiences of your lifetime!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

We all have holidays we enjoy more than others.  I have to confess that Thanksgiving is one of my three favorites in the calendar year.  (The other two are Christmas Eve and Easter). You can't beat a holiday that is about sharing a good meal, expressing gratitude and doesn't involve gifts. What, as they say in Brooklyn, could be bad?


The big challenge for the inexperienced cook seems to be getting a big meal on the table at one time.  I remember a Thanksgiving where the hostess had several dishes and each came to the table at a different temperature.  She offered to nuke our plates if we needed a boost in temperature. She was embarrassed and it was a wee bit awkward.  But it doesn't have to be this way!


When I wrote One Year to an Organized Life I worked with a professional chef to give you all the tips and tricks you'd need to master what I lovingly call 'The Mother of all Dinner Parties.' Once you master this meal, all the others are easy.  If you have a Kindle, why not download One Year and make a plan to enjoy the day yourself! Too often the host and hostess wind up in an exhausted puddle on the floor.  If friends and family offer to help, have assignments ready for them.  You don't have to do it all.  Slavery was outlawed.  Besides people like to contribute and feel more a part of this day.  If you have children, unless they are under five, I think they too need an assignment.  The best way to learn how to be a great host is to start learning the ropes early in life.






If circumstances find you alone this holiday, try and make the best of it.  Sometimes being alone is just what the doctor ordered.  My sweet old male golden retriever was not long for this world two years ago.  I just knew in my heart that would be his last Thanksgiving with me. I asked my host to forgive me and decided at the very last minute I needed to be home with him.  It isn't the food on this day, it's the fellowship.  And my 'little old man' and I had a wonderful holiday together.  He passed away the following February and I was so glad I listened to my heart.


Not alone by choice this year? Why not call around and see if a mission or some other charity needs a volunteer? Being of service fills us up in a way that can't be described.  Perhaps you have a neighbor who is thinking of staying home because he or she couldn't get a dog sitter.  Maybe you and Fido could celebrate together?  Be open to doing something fun, outside the norm and if possible of service.  Don't sit home and feel sorry for yourself. Whether alone or with a large number of people, take time to count your blessings. We humans tend to focus on what we don't have rather than what we do have in our hands and our hearts.  Make that the first order of business this Thanksgiving. 



Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Do you have a long lost love?

When I was a little girl there was a lot of interest in what I would be when I grew up.  I was a late in life accident for my parents.  They hadn't planned on having children and then after 10 years I entered the scene.  They wanted a doctor or a lawyer.  And what did they get?  An artist! One day when I was about 5 years old,  I announced that in addition to being a surgeon I also wanted to be a singer.  My mother's best friend said: "If you want to be a surgeon you have to abandon the silly idea of being a singer." I was shocked! Why couldn't I do both? I was told I had to pick one.  As you might imagine I made the wrong choice in my mother's eyes.  Out went the idea of surgery as a profession and in came the idea of a life as a performer. I majored in Theater in college and when I graduated my father couldn't tell people I wanted to be an actress.  He was too ashamed.

Fast forward in time to the Presidency of Bill Clinton.  I remember the day he said that in the current world economy people would most likely find themselves having several jobs/careers in one lifetime. I thought that was great.  I realize that the idea of surgeon by day / singer by night probably still wouldn't fly, however, here's my question to you:  is there something you've always wanted to do that you left behind because you were told it was (pick your adjective) silly, stupid, irresponsible or ...? Here's a radical idea: find a way to incorporate that long lost love into your life this fall.

I'm not suggesting you abandon your career as a Wall Street analyst to become a starving artist.  Nor am I suggesting you quit your job and go back to school full time if you have a mortgage, a family and adult responsibilities.  I am suggesting that there just might be a way to incorporate your love into your life in a sane fashion that actually feeds your Soul.  Let's say you wanted to be a doctor but right after college you met the love of your life and started a family.  Could you set aside time to do volunteer work in a hospital once a week or even once a month?  Does the atmosphere of a hospital make you happy?  Could you go back to school and become a nurse or an LVN? What about acting or singing?  I was talking to a man last year who had just retired as a judge.  I asked what he wanted to do as a teenager.  I was floored when he said he had wanted to be a song & dance man! Now he's free to join a Community Theater.

Maybe you wanted to paint but had no way to support yourself as an artist.  Do you belong to your local museum?  Why not do that this year and pour yourself into an atmosphere that will bring you joy?  What did you leave behind?  How can you re-engage?  Whether it's volunteer work, a class or an internship, there's always a way to embrace an old love. Fall is a wonderful time to start no matter what your journey looks like. 

Remember that being organized will give you an edge because you will have control over your time and how it's to be spent.  Your home will be a nurturing space that supports your creative endeavors.  The easiest way to succeed at getting organized is to have the right motivation.  What better motivation could there be than making time to re-claim a part of yourself you put away to make others happy?  Let me know how this works out for you. You can e-mail me from my website.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Back to school! Holidays! It must be mid-August...

I feel like one of Pavlov's dogs this time of year.  

All I have to do is hear the words 'Labor Day Weekend' and I'm ready to go back to school.  I start thinking about trick or treating on Halloween.  My mouth waters for Thanksgiving dinner.  I start a Christmas gift list in my mind. I can only presume that most of you are wired the same way.  We are after all creatures of habit.

The same old / same old can sometimes be translated as 'tradition.'  It doesn't have to be a bad thing.  But if you are always frustrated by the way your home runs during the school year, if you are always behind the proverbial 8 ball when it comes to the holidays, if you wish you were going back to school to learn something new but feel it's impossible ... well, how about a fresh approach?  Perhaps 'same old / same old' needs a tune up.

School Days

Take about 15 minutes and sit quietly with your Zen Organizing Journal.  It might be a word file on your computer or a special notebook you purchased just for this purpose.  What matters is that it's special to you as well as private. Please answer the following questions:

  1. Is the school year always a nightmare for you? 
  2. Do your children get out the door on time?
  3. Can they do homework easily in the late afternoon / early evening?
  4. Do they have too many after school activities?
  5. Is your family eating healthy foods or would Chef Jamie Oliver cringe in your kitchen?
Let's see if we can't implement a few simple organizing tips and tricks to change your experience.  If any of these areas is not an issue for you, please give yourself a big pat on the back for me. Now sit quietly with your journal.  If thoughts came up for you as you reviewed the questions, feel free to journal about them and see what discoveries, insights or new ways of being you can invent.

Think back on the year just past.  Why was it a nightmare?  Be specific and list the culprits.  Take them one by one and consider what the antidote would be.  School won't get better because your children are older or you have more experience.  it will get better if you do things differently. We live in a cause and effect Universe.  Set new causes in motion and new results are sure to follow.
  • If everyone in your home is racing out the door with a sugar loaded donut heading for Starbucks, stop the madness!  There are several things you can do to heal the morning rush: get up 15 minutes earlier and have breakfast started in advance of everyone else getting up; set the table the night before; stagger wake up times to avoid a rush in the bathroom(s); assign chores if your children are old enough: set the table, clear the table, wash the dishes, load the dryer, put dishes away, feed the dog, walk the dog, make beds and take out the trash are right off the top of my head with little or no effort. There is no end to the way children can help. Be sure you assign age and skill appropriate assignments.
  • Improve or change where homework is done. Have you provided adequate lighting, a quiet atmosphere, the right school supplies and healthy snacks? Do any of your children need a tutor for specific subjects?
  • Unless your child is literally training for the Olympics, does he/she really need all the after school activities they had last year?  We've become a nation obsessed with extracurricular activities!  Rest, reading and unstructured play time are all important if your want a well rounded child.
  • What is the quality of food in your refrigerator?  Is everything brown? Does your family eat fresh fruits and vegetables every day? Take a look at the labels on those processed packages. I bet you find a sodium content that would bloat a Marine in boot camp.  Do a little food research. Check out other markets in your neighborhood for better prices and/or fresher produce.  Shop your local Farmer's Market.  Start planning meals and shop with a list. And of course never shop when you are hungry.
Trick or Treat?

While that phrase is usually associated with Halloween, next week I'd like to take a look at your life.  Has fate played a trick on you?  Are you in a situation you never imagined?  It's never to late to find an old dream and a new way to make it real. That's a real treat.

See you soon!

Blessings,
Regina



Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Thank you for your comments...

...however unless they are written in English I will have to delete them.

Thank you for stopping by and supporting my work.

Regina Leeds

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

How have you been touched by this tough economy?

Work Place Organization


It's always important to have an organized workspace.  But now with downsizing and job loss spreading throughout the work sector like a fever, being organized is a great insurance policy.  You can use your organizing skills to demonstrate to your employer how invaluable you are to the day-to-day operation of the business.  And, if you are the owner of the establishment, you can just as easily show your employees by example the kind of office space and productivity you hope to find throughout the organization. Are you looking for a job?  Being organized will not only help you organize your job search, it will be a skill you can present to your employer.  You see?  There isn’t a single down side to being organized!

If the world of organization has been an area of challenge for you, consider this: getting organized is a skill.  If you wanted to play a musical instrument like the piano, master a sport like tennis or learn how to dance, what would you do?  You’d read some good books, find a qualified teacher, practice and hope to reach your individual potential.  Getting organized requires the same steps.  It isn’t solely for those who seem to have been born with a natural proclivity for order.  Learning a new skill is one of the best ways to keep our brains active and stay youthful.  There’s no time like the present to begin the journey. And "One Year to an Organized Work Life" is the ideal companion. 



Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Farewell Mr. Bill....

Life is amazing, isn't it?  You never know when you're going to wake up and be given a gift.  Twenty-five years ago I was still a professional actress.  I was cast in a one act play (The Girls on the Porch) that went on to become part of a Festival of One Acts that played for several months.  I won a local award for my performance and I was given a special gift: a friendship with the playwright, Bill Derringer. My beautiful friend slipped into Eternity last week.  The landscape of my life will never be the same.


Bill was a gifted actor as well as a playwright.  He was also a great raconteur of stories from the theater. The thing I admired most about Bill is that his love of acting, theater and writing were as fresh and alive on the day he died as they were when he discovered his love for them at 13. No matter what life tossed Bill's way he remained a pure Soul.  He was never jaded or cynical.  He didn't care about riches and fame.  He was all about the craft. 


His life partner of 30 years Bob Bak is an extraordinary man who took care of the business of life so that Bill was free to be an artist.  I can't imagine one without the other.  If you have someone in your life who has contributed to the quality of your life, give them a call today.  You never know when you will hear that voice for the last time.


Mr. Bill, across time and space I send you my love. Your friendship made me a better person.  And your words as a playwright made me a much better actress than I dreamed I could be.  I love you for always.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The 'Stuff' of life and the chaos it creates




I've spent more than twenty years helping people eliminate the 'excess stuff' they've accumulated. But it isn't just 'stuff' that needs to go from the physical environment. From time to time it's also people, places or jobs.


We sometimes hold onto relationships for years after they have ended. We all know one sided friendships or marriages that are dead. We witness destructive relationships that seem to go on forever. What's the old saying? 'The devil you know is better than the one you don't.' This was no doubt stated by someone who was frozen with fear. After all, what if the devil got his walking papers and a bevy of angels was invited in to stay?

There's a law of physics that states that two objects can not occupy the same space at the same time. You won't have more nurturing friends, a better love relationship or a great workplace if you don't create the space. I'm not suggesting you wake up tomorrow and do a wholesale cleaning of your life. I am suggesting you take some time to examine every aspect of your life and see if something needs to be eliminated. You may discover what needs to be done is some serious nurturing of current relationships whether they be personal or professional.

I helped a client recently who had some plants. She adored them. She simply forgot to care for them on a regular basis. She found it heartwarming to see how quickly they could bounce back with a little water. I suggested she nurture them on a regular basis so that they didn't have to come back from the brink every few weeks. There's a metaphor for life in this story. Do you nurture your relationships on a regular basis? Do you nurture yourself by creating an environment that supports you on every level? Or are you the kind of person who senses distance in your friends and rushes in with last minute invitations to dinner? Does your home get so messy you have to tidy up every few weekends?  Do you wonder why the order you created never lasts? Only long term and consistent care will create the results you want whether it's people or places.

I had to walk away from a long term friendship recently. Something happened that hurt me deeply. When I examined the relationship I realized that for several years it had been falling apart. Had we been honest we would have seen the hand writing on the wall and parted years ago. My environment 'speaks' to me in much the same way. I look around and suddenly something I treasured and loved looks old or out of place. I realize I've outgrown the item. And then I have the fun of replacing it with something that reflects who I am in this moment. If the original object is still in great condition I can compound my fun by giving it to someone else. Now even the object has a fresh start.

I took a leap of faith when I created my organizing business. I took another when I decided to write my first book. Both have developed in ways I could never have imagined. These leaps of faith have given me experiences, friends and creative fulfillment beyond my wildest imagination. I never considered that my business would take off and I'd be organizing 21 years later. Nor could I possible have dreamed that I'd one day be writing my 8th book.

What can you eliminate that may open the door to greater possibilities?


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Summer is here ... what are your plans?


Have you ever noticed that winter drags on forever but the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is about 3 seconds? At least it feels that way to me ... I love all the seasons but summer has a special place in my heart. There is something about the lack of clothing for one thing that makes me feel free. Years ago I helped a client move from Los Angeles to New York City which is my hometown. We were leaving a lunch counter when she looked at me and said: "I feel like a beast of burden!" I had to laugh. I grew up in Brooklyn where my mom taught me to count to seven before I left a location. If I had my: hat, gloves, scarf, coat, purse, boots and shoes, I was good to go. If not, I had to start looking around for 'my parts.'

My home base now is Los Angeles. June is traditionally when we experience 'June gloom.' In the morning the sky is overcast. No reason to complain, however, as it will be in the triple digits soon enough. The hottest weather of the year is after Labor Day Weekend. It took my East coast Soul some time to adjust to that reality. It's really hard to work on getting organized when it's that hot. Thankfully most of us have AC. My sweet golden retrievers are gone now but when they were alive I had to have fans as well. Goldens run a little hotter than other breeds and my babies had to be comfortable! Writing a book without a dog at my feet is a sad experience. My female Katie seemed to know when I was working on a book. She would sit by my side for the entire process. Once the book was ready for press, she went about her business. How do they know these things? My old male golden whose name was Spirito Divino or Spirit for short was the Dalai Lama of dogs. He was close to 15 when I rescued him. Spirit just wanted to sleep, eat, love and float through the day without cares. I miss that guy. He taught me how to relax and 'hang out.'

How are you spending the summer? Are you going to take a trip or hang around the house working on projects? In the interest of balance, I hope you plan a combination of the two! I've just completed a new book and I'm waiting for editorial notes. This is my 8th book total and the 4th in the One Year to ... series. It's called One Year to an Organized Life with Baby. I wrote it with Meagan Francis who is the mother of five and a published author in her own right. We hit it off like gang busters! Even though our lives look different, we're wired very much the same. And we certainly share the same work ethic and many of the same beliefs. When this one is ready for press, I'm going to miss my daily chats via e-mail or phone with Meagan.

The book takes a pregnant woman from the start of month three through delivery and covers the first 5 months of baby's life. It was a joy to write and I hope it is embraced by readers. There is so much to get organized before a child enters the world. There are the things we remember (plan the nursery, get a diaper bag, stock up on supplies et al) but there are also important items that can easily slip through the cracks like updating your will, discussing with your partner how emergencies will be handled and setting up a college account ... just to name a few! You know me ... I like to plan and have all my ducks in a row.

Let me know what you have planned this summer. I promise to post here more often.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Food for (money) thought...




"Your relationship with money is like any relationship: it needs to be tended like a garden."
Regina Leeds

What is your relationship like with money on this day?

What about the relationship you have with your home? Is it a nurturing sanctuary?

And what about the relationship you have with your work space? Does your set-up enhance your ability to do your best work or are you sabotaging yourself at every turn?

Spend a few minutes in honest communication with these aspects of your life this weekend. Let me know what improvements you put into place.


Regina

Thursday, January 14, 2010

What if....

... you blasted out of the New Year's starting gate with vigor and now find yourself embracing the eternal comfort of 'same old/same old.' Take heart: this is the human condition. Change is scary! Just remember that every midnight ushers in a fresh start. It is never too late to go after a more organized home, a well functioning office space or to have control over your finances.

The common denominators to achieve success are: dedication, determination and a willingness to expend good old fashioned elbow grease. Where do you want to be in life next year at this time? In order to get there, what are the step you have to take? Will the people in your life support you? Who are the voices of doom in your life? (We all have them.) Don't give them the power to hurt you.

It seems to me that love is at the heart of the matter. Do you love yourself enough to face your fears and give all you have to offer to the waiting world?

I came across a beautiful quote the other day. See if it inspires and touches you ...



Life does not accommodate you; it shatters you. Every seed destroys its container, or else there would be no fruition.
Florida Scott-Maxwell










Saturday, January 2, 2010

The start of a New Year and a New Decade!

The reality of a New Decade didn't hit me until I got to the New Year's Eve party I attended this year. It was quite a delight to consciously leave behind not only the personal, emotional wounds of the past year but also the big challenges of the decade. In reality marking time is a man made concept but still these inner releases are powerful. What did you leave behind at the stroke of midnight? Have you decided to be on time for all of your appointments? Will you be paying your bills when they are due and avoiding late fees? Can your children count on your help with homework? Will you create/update a file system? Or have you resolved to be healthier, slimmer and free of stress? What is the personal transformation you wish to embrace in 2010? Life without new direction produces the 'same old/same old.' Step out on a limb this year. Let go of the past in some way. Make a joyful noise. Take a step to offering the world the unique gift only you can contribute.

What type of information would you most like to find here?

June 2009, in China

June 2009, in China
At the Summer Palace outside Beijing

About Me

My photo

I will always be grateful I grew up in Brooklyn, New York.  It was a rich atmosphere that introduced me to different races, creeds and professions.  It seemed that anything was possible if you were willing to work hard to achieve your goals.

I'm a yogi which means that my spiritual path is that of yoga principles that have been handed down for over 5000 years. Yoga is an ancient philosophy based on the Gita, the sutras of Patanjali and yes, the Bible. The postures are a key element as is meditation. We honor all paths.

I got my first dog when I was 6 years old after a full year of begging.  She was a collie and her name was Queenie.  As an adult I've had 2 golden retrievers.  A female named Miss Katie who came into my life when she was 3 months old and an ancient male golden who came to me when he was 15.  I'd like to have a Great Dane next but we'll see what the universe has in store.

I've been organizing clients for over 24 years and writing about it for over ten.