I must admit I take little pride in my culinary skills, am not a fashionista, and may not be up on pop culture or as knowledgeable as I should be on world events, but one thing I am is organized!, Yet over the years little did I know that organizing would actually become my second career!
My first career – my real 30 year career – was spent as a school librarian. Over the years I ran several school libraries, started one from scratch, and lived through the technology revolution when the old card catalog – the wooden one we remember with all the little drawers – became a thing of the past. (See The Diary of a Young Girl, Library Lesson and Magazines for the Principal )
And the truth is when I was in library school the course that my classmates found dry, but I found to be most exciting, was cataloging. In library parlance that means putting books in their proper classifications by subject – organizing in it’s strictest sense.
Actually in the past when librarians ordered books from book vendors, they came pre-cataloged, each labeled with it’s proper classification number, and accompanied by a set of catalog cards – author, title, and subject/s – ready to be filed into the card catalog. And then when library catalogs became online servers, those paper catalog cards were replaced with computer disks.
Yet in both those cases, I often tweaked the classifications, re-organizing them to better match the school’s curriculum and class assignments.
I loved my years working in libraries, but when the time came to retire I was ready to hang up my keys. I joined the board of a literacy advocacy group, played more tennis, went to Wednesday matinees, and lunched with friends. But I still had a lot of free time.
Then one day I was having coffee with my friend Barbara who was still working as a busy lawyer while caring for an aging parent and trying nevertheless to find time for her many interests. She complained that she and her husband had too much stuff, much they no longer used or needed – clothes, linens, books, papers, photos, files, sports equipment, kitchen gadgets, things their kids had left behind, and more. They knew they wanted less clutter and more breathing room in their apartment, but they didn’t have the time nor did they know where to begin.
Knowing I was an organized type, Barbara asked for my help. Of course I said yes, and I so enjoyed helping her and found it so rewarding, I decided to make home organizing my second career..
I founded my company ROOMS FOR IMPROVEMENT, created a website, joined a trade association of fellow organizers, and told friends to spread the word.
And I soon discovered that when people let you into their homes, they often let you into their lives. Once I had gained my clients’ trust, they would share their stories, their memories, their guilty pleasures, dare I say even some of their family secrets.
My elderly client Judy wanted help going through boxes and boxes of old photos and memorabilia. In one we found a packet of love letters an old beau had written to her over 60 years ago. Judy asked me to listen as one by one she read them aloud.
So this new year resolve to get organized and declutter your own space, you may be surprised by what you find!
Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!