The Joy of Organizing: Lessons Learned From My Mother


My mother enjoyed her home. Immensely. It brought her great joy and for good reason. She was raised  with no permanent home and without indoor plumbing until 1958, a standard of living whose periodicity by that time had mostly expired in the United States. After gaining financial stability, she was able to understand meaningful ownership and exemplify gratitude, a lesson I’m glad to have witnessed.

After working for a food production company, calculating ingredient totals, marrying and having a family, she then acquired a home and it was here that her organizing skills developed and flourished. She had organizing systems in place including compartments, dividers, shoe racks, pocket holders, and what is now known as productivity schedules, all which led to order in our family and clear thinking. She routinely handled paperwork during her most productive hours and kept her laundry on schedule. She delegated photo archiving and all things camera related to my father; it wasn’t her thing. It helped her immensely to have a partner and team player in this arena. 

My mother cared for each item with reverence and appreciation. Items for decor, antique collectibles and her unique clothing pieces were purchased with extreme thought and restraint. All purchases had intended use or were for personal enjoyment, usually both. She loved her things. Everything had a place, a home of its own, and when used was always returned to its rightful place in supreme condition. 

To her, ownership was something she proudly earned and not a right. Earned ownership required responsibility and lacked greed; it required reverence and didn’t create spoils or waste. She was an early minimalist, environmentalist and organizer. She worked hard to send me to college not knowing she was herself on the cusp of a future industry. Lacking a formal higher education, my mother’s curiosity was piqued by genetics, world cultures, and music as well as the joy of an organized home. Through so many things she quietly inspired me, a profession and an entire industry. 

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