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The Maine event

New England owns the fall. I just spent an amazing weekend in Portland, Maine. Went on an art walk, explored a farmer’s market, took a stroll on Higgins Beach, ate delectable meals, listened to live jazz, went on a 25 mile bike ride along th

e coast, saw picturesque light houses, munched crisp apples, shopped the outlets in Freeport, and yet the best part was enjoying time with my family.

But as usual, a family visit isn’t complete without organizing something.

My younger sister Meredith lives in a modern apartment with new fixtures, enormous windows and a view of the mountains (What? Me jealous?) in downtown Portland, steps from restaurants, movies, shops, cafes, parks, the old seaport, and bike paths. And while we took advantage of all the sights, we – well, I – also found time to organize three closets and the kitchen. Meredith has only lived here a few months and like many people, found that just putting her stuff away was good enough.

But not good enough for me.

There’s a rhythm to where “stuff” should go, and having organized hundreds of spaces I’ve got the beat down. While it’s obvious that cups should go with mugs and that jeans should be stacked together, it’s putting the stuff in the right place that makes one finally feel “at home.” But there are people who’ve lived in their homes for a long time and never quite feel settled. I’m constantly receiving emails like this most recent: “Need organizing help! Our apartment is in desperate need of a personal organizer. No matter how hard we try we cannot keep this place in order.”

Nine times out of 10, the biggest issue is that people have too much stuff. While my job is first to help (coax? encourage?) them to part with the stuff they don’t need/use/want, as hard as it can sometimes be for the client, when the job is done, the result is always the same. Folks are overjoyed in their homes, no longer feeling imprisoned by their stuff. It’s ironic, but when we own too much stuff, it’s really the stuff that ends up owning us.

My sister's closet before...

I came across a great short video that hits on this battle we have with stuff. It’s by Graham Hill, founder of, and is called “Less stuff, more happiness.” The video makes a great case for finding happiness by having less.

My sister's closet after...

I couldn’t agree more.

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