Before writing your will, start with your stuff

Will248Many of my friends are grieving the loss of singer Prince. My generation grew up on Purple Rain and couldn’t imagine someday being thirtysomethings in 1999. For friends a decade older, Prince’s swift death at age 57 is a mortality check, a reminder to value our lives and loved ones.

Recently, we learned that Prince likely died intestate, that is, without a will. After reading articles such as this one, fans are wondering “Didn’t he have an attorney?” and “How could someone so wealthy not manage his legacy?” The truth is… Continue reading at The Valley Ledger

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Five steps to navigating transitions

CompassLife transitions can happen at any age, but my clients in their middle years seem to be dealt more than their fair share. It’s the rare person who gets through these decades without losing a parent or spouse, watching children start their adult lives, changing careers, relocating or downsizing.

Some transitions are planned and welcomed, others spring up on us. Here are techniques I use with my clients when a change is on the horizon:

  • Take stock of previous transitions. How did they go? When I contemplated leaving my corporate job to start Minimologist, I thought back on having turning down a job offer in my hometown to relocate, and later quitting a job to go back to college. Of course I still felt intimidated by the idea of launching a business, but could remind myself of previous daring ventures. When have you faced a transition similar to this one? Remind yourself that you survived, even thrived, and that today you are more experienced and knowledgeable. You can do this.
  • Take stock of your finances. Transition times tend to carry additional expenses. You might need to pay estate attorneys or realtors, incur travel or medical expenses, even eat out more frequently because you don’t have time to cook. By conducting an audit of your financial situation, you’ll be positioned to make better decisions when the pressure increases.
  • Remember it’s temporary. I had a yoga teacher who would tell us that any discomfort we had in a pose was temporary. This was revolutionary for me. Too often I would be in a challenging pose and feel myself tighten up. With her guidance, I could see that my thoughts were increasing my discomfort. Reminding myself that I’d be in this pose for only a short time allowed me to relax and do the best with it I could, which of course increased the benefit from it. Sometimes that’s all we have to do — repeat “this won’t last forever” when a situation feels claustrophobic. Your grandmother was right, this too shall pass.
  • Simplify going in, and expect cleanup coming out. If you’re lucky enough to have some warning of an upcoming transition, use the time to prioritize and simplify. When my mother was diagnosed with a terminal illness, I packed up my lower priority business projects and less favorite hobbies, and cleaned up and donated the clutter puddles around the house. My simplified home was easier to care for, and created space for managing my mother’s affairs. When you’re coming out of the transition, take stock again. Some aspects of your life will likely be changed permanently. Embrace it, and adjust your space and commitments accordingly.
  • What are your strengths? Weaknesses? Just as with your finances, an honest assessment will empower you. Whatever we are under usual circumstances we are more so under stress. Are you good with money? Tend to overeat? Expect a more intense version of your qualities to show up. Your strengths will serve you well, and your family and colleagues will be grateful for your capacity. With your weaknesses, ask for assistance. Hire a skilled professional, and let friends help. Your job isn’t to do all the tasks, it’s to navigate the change. Capable leaders always have a team of trusted advisers.

Finally, keep connecting with the important people in your life. Go to lunch with a friend or watch a silly movie with your kids. Everything is easier with the buddy system.

Need help navigating a transition? Read more about working with me, then contact me to schedule an appointment. All sessions are completely non-judgmental and confidential.

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Help! I fear inheriting a mess

PapersOnDesk“How can I make my parents organize their papers? They gave me power of attorney and named me as executor, but I don’t know where anything is.” I receive phone calls like this several times each year. The caller is usually fearful, frustrated, and worried about the state of the parents’ affairs.
Each time I hear this question, or one like it, I’m reminded of the old lightbulb joke:  Continue reading at the NAPO-GPC blog

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How marriage equality affects your paper organization

HeartSCOTUSdecisionThe Supreme Court’s recent decision recognizing marriage equality made local and international news. Does this mean wedding bells for you and your partner? Even if you’ve been together for years (or decades), here are a few things that will keep your documents accurate and organized through the transition from single to married.

When I set up a file system for a family, I create yours, mine, and ours areas. That is, each person has his/her…  Continue reading at The Valley Ledger…

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Honoring our humanity

HeartSCOTUSdecisionYup, I’m happy today. The Supreme Court’s decision builds on our history of furthering marriage rights, and I hope, makes it a smidge easier for us to honor each other’s humanity. Next week I’ll start working on how today’s marriage equality decision affects the filing systems of my soon-to-be-married clients. But today I’m just happy that once again, my country and community fixed an imbalance.

As a history major in college, I was often frustrated by how long it took us right our wrongs. How could it not be obvious that claiming to own another human being was cruel and immoral? How could it not be obvious that all adults need the right to vote? Now with another 20 years of life experience since I received my ridiculously-oversized Latin diploma, I’ve seen us delay rights again and again. This seems to be our pattern — deny rights, argue about it for decades or centuries, then grudgingly fix it. Why do it this way? Why spend lifetimes arguing about who can marry, who can sit where on a bus, who can take shop class? It’s a waste of time and energy because in the end we always side with equality.

I’m happy today also because I had a horse in this race. Yes, I’m straight, and I’ve been married for over two decades. So I didn’t get the Big Win. But so many of the arguments against same sex partners were also digs against my husband and me. We were married in a civil ceremony in our garden. We never raised children. Every argument that boiled down to marriage as a religious institution for the bearing and rearing of children stung. And over the years, I began to notice that I had more in common with secular, child-free gay couples than I did with many straight couples. And some of my gay friends were parents. In short, my lived experience is more nuanced than any political platform.

Here’s my proposal. Next time someone takes our blinders off, let’s spare ourselves the thrashing and gnashing and just extend equal rights. With an apology. To my GLBT friends, I’m sorry for the years I didn’t notice the inequality. I fell into the age-old separate-but-equal trap. Thanks for pointing it out. And please invite me to your wedding.

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Sorting out your parents’ estate

Will248“I’m cleaning out my parents’ home and coming across lots of items with sentimental value, how do I decide what to keep?” A friend asked me this question recently. Like so many of us will do in our middle years, she’s facing the dual challenge of grieving while dispersing all of her parents’ possessions. If she’s also the executor of her parents’ estate, she’ll have bills, paperwork, and the responsibility of staging and selling the home as well. It’s a lot to handle at a fragile time. The key to getting through this is…  Continue reading at the NAPO-GPC blog

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Don’t let food go bad! Organize your freezer

FreezerInventory248With the warmer weather comes my impatience for our community supported agriculture (CSA) share to begin. For a flat fee to Good Work Farm, we receive a weekly allotment of greens, squash, herbs, and other farm goodies. This financial arrangement gives the farm money when they need it most — in the spring when they are buying seeds and equipment — and gives us wholesome local food and the opportunity to try new veggies while saving grocery shopping time.

Recently, my friend Lois Sunflower of Bear Honey Farms in Bath asked how to organize a freezer. As I’m about to begin…  Continue reading at The Valley Ledger…

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Pamper your hands

MinimologistLotionIngredients640wideOne of the joys of belonging to the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) is the connections I’ve made with other organizers around the country. These connections have given me business opportunities, assistance with clients’ challenges, and precious friendships. Most recently, I traveled to the Howard County Fairgrounds, just west of Baltimore, to meet up with organizer Penny Bryant Catterall of Order Your Life in Bethesda. We spent the day wallowing in the yarn-based fun of the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. We didn’t talk about business (well, not much), just enjoyed a gorgeous day immersed in…  Continue reading at The Valley Ledger…

 

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Ten years of challenges… and successes!

10-Years

Years ago I read a book in which the main characters got married on Thanksgiving. They reasoned that it would be easy to remember their anniversary that way; they would simply toast themselves over Thanksgiving dinner, and not worry over the specific date. Over the years, I’ve used this method of benchmarking life events when the specific date isn’t necessary. It frees my brain to remember other things. For example, I graduated from college the day before Mother’s Day, and I need to renew my driver’s license during presidential election years.

And ten years ago, on the third Thursday of March, I attended…  Continue reading at The Valley Ledger…

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Minimologist live

Saturday, August 13, 8am-1pm ET
The Wisdom Coalition Camp Connect
Rodale Farm, 611 Siegfriedale Rd, Kutztown, PA

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