Your Household Is a Container: How to Organize Your Home

Your Household Is a Container: How to Organize Your Home

My beautiful friend, podcast guest, and student Tia (of episode 1) asked me how I kept my household organized without it becoming a cluttered mess or a giant pain in my ass. How can it be organized, stress-free, easeful, etc. This was my response.

Your household is a container full of smaller and smaller containers.

And though I love the Container Store as much as the next organized person, I don’t mean physical containers – although they can be – I mean spaces to contain your life.

Your dresser is a container for your clothes, your under the bed bin for your blankets, or your pantry for your food. You might have a box you keep favorite cards or letters you’ve received, or a place for your jewelry.

Containers.

I think that keeping healthy containers in your life – both physical space and boundaries – help increase your capacity or energy and allow you the space you need in your life to create.

You might have a container around your bedroom – no work happens in there, only sleeping! (Studies support this as a wise move, btw.) You might use a virtual Zoom background as a container to keep your work life and home life separate during the unprecedented pandemic. (If someone gives you shit about doing this, please email me and I will be your workplace advocate.)

All of these are containers! And household containers can support us or hurt us as much as boundaries can.

First and most importantly, please know that it is much harder to return things to a container if it’s not easy for you to do so. For example, short folks who have divorced their tall partners report taking years before they realize they don’t need to use the top shelf. Or in my case, I had a very complicated under the kitchen sink organizing system that was fine when I was single and sent me into a rage at 4 am with a very awake baby. Life changes, containers need to change, and assessing how they affect us can make our lives easier.

However, you can sometimes choose to make the container not easy for you, and if you do, the reason must be more important than the ease. For example, my father gave me an antique pitcher and basin when my husband and I moved in together. The basin is large. The pitcher is heavy. The whole set needs to be – dusted! Dusted, folks, I am not known for my dusting. I have always loved that gift though, and since my father passed away in January, I will *cut* anyone who gives that pitcher set even a side-eye. The pitcher and basin – they’re love. They don’t need to be ease filled because they are love-filled.

But on the flip side, I had a box given to me by a friend who ditched me and then burned me in the rona times. And that box got donated, thank you very much. It made me angry or sad every time I looked at it, and now, it’s bringing someone else joy. This was an effective container change for me.

If you too need to create more effective containers, most likely because the clutter of your household is getting to you when you cannot leave it in a worldwide pandemic – this is how I would tackle it.

Household Container Clearing Steps

1. Get real about your possessions.

No, I am not Marie Kondo. (Her drawer method is life-changing though, it really is.) American capitalism is always pushing you to need and want more and more and more, to the point that most people’s homes can’t even fit everything. If this is you, you will have to do some pairing down to fit into the container of your home. Or move into a new home, I’m not telling you what to do, just suggesting that this part is physics. Mary Poppins’ bag is sadly not available on Amazon.

This doesn’t mean you need to get rid of everything you own! It means you need to be intentional about what you own. Do you have clothes you hate? A hat too small for your head? Books that you read and hated but are still holding on to? Donate or sell, but clear the space.

And be honest with yourself. People tell themselves all sorts of crazy stories about everything under the sun, but no more than they do about their stuff. This blazer makes me a real executive (even though the button can’t close over my giant post baby breasts). This leather skirt makes me a real artist (even though I am scared to wear it because what if I spill?). Etc etc. Don’t bullshit yourself. If you need help, Zoom a straight shooter friend of yours for help.

2. What do you have that can pull double duty?

Ottomans! Shelves! Hooks! Drawers! All the natural containers you already have might be able to fill a dual purpose. I wanted a place to sit down at my front door and put my shoes on, and I had an ottoman that I had been using for toys for my Bean. I organized the toys in his room in a different way – on shelves installed in the closet – and took the ottoman for the door. Now I could sit to put on my shoes and store items near the door. Didn’t need to buy anything, didn’t add something new to the space, plus it serves dual purpose in its new role.

Do you have a need and an item that can be matched? For me, I had these shelves I loved but didn’t know where to put them and couldn’t find bedstands I liked that were in stock in the pandemic. Need, meet your match!

3. What can you replace with something that can pull double duty? Or even triple duty?

Do you have a chair that you don’t really like but an ottoman you do? Could you donate the chair, replace it with the ottoman and store the vacuum in there?

Maybe you have 3 small shelves that make it hard for you to move around your kitchen, but if replace them with one long shelf with hooks, you could move around freely and hang your apron?

These can either be items you already have or items you can source, including buying. Sometimes I will put a new container on my wish list, and I will figure out another way, and sometimes, a friend just gifts me it in the mail.

4. How can these containers be easy?

If you only use something once a year, it does not need to be in the front of the closet.

If the cat litter box is in the closet, can you store the litter and scoop right next to it with the spare bags so it’s an easy chore?

Where can you store the laundry basket so it’s easy to handle? If you have a bad back, maybe storing it in the laundry room makes the most sense. If you have a bad back, maybe a laundry basket in addition to the hamper makes the most sense. Do what works for you and your life.

I have a basket on the kitchen breakfast bar as a COVID-19 catch all. Masks, hand sanitizer, wipes, etc. live there. My husband hates the basket, and he desires it to move. But it is the absolutely best location for it, and we can easily find these items related to our safety. Practicality combined with safety combined with ease of use make this container more important than the annoyance of having it on the counter.

Is this an overnight process? No. Sadly no. It took my years to find my container balance. But bit by bit, it got better and better, and easier and easier.

My only other tip is that after finding this delicate balance, you must work every day to keep it. I personally prefer to restore items to their home throughout the day. I would not say my husband and son agree. They usually pick up about half their items before bedtime, and I walk through once and finish the job. In theatre terms, I restore the home so when we wake up the next morning, we are ready to go, starting off on the right foot.

Is that emotional and physical labor? Yes. Am I carrying the mental load? Yes. But does it make everything easier for me in the long run, yes, it does. And I think we make incremental progress as a family pack all the time, especially in the pandemic because we get to practice every day.

If you try this process, let me know how it goes for you. May you feel lighter and grounded and ready to kick ass. Godspeed.

Untamed Book Club Questions

Untamed Book Club Questions

Our first book club selection was Untamed, and our Society of Notable Women members loved this book!

I thought I would bring our Untamed book club questions here so other people can enjoy them as well. Our members felt like they helped them think about the book in a deep way. These questions also generated a lot of conversation, as all good book club questions should do (amirite or amirite?).

You can read the announcement for this book, why I picked it, and more about the book itself and the author right here.

Without further ado, here you go:

Untamed Book Club Questions
  1. What are your own preconceived thoughts about what your life is supposed to look like?
  2. When have you personally listened to your intuition?
  3. What did it feel like in your body when you listened to your intuition?
  4. How can you continue to create opportunities for you to listen to your own body?
  5. Have you ever had a physical reaction to another person like Doyle describes from when she met Abby Wambach for the first time?
  6. Have you ever come to a decision because you gave yourself advice like Doyle does with herself around loving her husband?
  7. How have you witnessed women being martyrs for their family? This seems to be very common in the pandemic.
  8. Why do you think Doyle was able to pivot even though her audience was primarily Christian women, and she was now dating (and then marrying) a woman? (PS If you are new to the Notable Woman, this is not something that we would consider problematic, as we believe love is love. Read our community values here.)
  9. Do you practice anyway to get quiet with yourself?
  10. What beliefs have you found for yourself that you actually don’t believe?
  11. Did you already know about how/why conservatives chose social justice issues to rally their base in the 1970’s or was this new information for you? How does that change how you feel about them (if at all)?
  12. What hard things do you want to do but you are afraid of disappointment?
  13. In what ways are you becoming an anti-racist? (This is a practice we have to commit to every day.)
  14. Do you feel like you’ve ever tried to force your life into a script?

And that is that! Those are the book club questions we worked through while reading Untamed.

Next Steps

We would always love to have you in The Society of Notable Women. Request to join today!

And we welcome you to join us for our next book club selection, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson.

 

 

October Book Club Selection: Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

October Book Club Selection: Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

I’m excited to announce our October pick for The Notable Woman Book Club – Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson.

I had the pleasure of meeting Isabel Wilkerson during her book tour for The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. At the time, I was working at Riverside Church, a social justice church housed in a gothic, beautiful building in Morningside Heights in New York City. I have absolutely no idea how I heard that Wilkerson was speaking at the Church that day, and I had not yet read her book. But what I did hear about her and the event intrigued me so even though I was exhausted after a long day in the theatre, I went to the talk. Wilkerson did not disappoint. She was a delight, a wealth of knowledge, and opened my eyes to a part of US history that I did not know anything about. I’m forever changed from her talk that day, which is why her new book has me so excited.

What’s Caste about?

In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.

Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people’s lives and behavior and the nation’s fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people–including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball’s Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others–she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day. She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their out-cast of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.

Oh my gosh, right? You know this is going to be good.

And who is Isabel Wilkerson?

Isabel Wilkerson, the winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Humanities Medal, is the author of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller The Warmth of Other Suns. Her debut work won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction and was named to Time‘s 10 Best Nonfiction Books of the 2010s and The New York Times‘s list of the Best Nonfiction of All Time. She has taught at Princeton, Emory, and Boston Universities and has lectured at more than two hundred other colleges and universities across the United States and in Europe and Asia.

What are people saying about this book?

“Magnificent . . . a trailblazing work on the birth of inequality . . . Caste offers a forward-facing vision. Bursting with insight and love, this book may well help save us.”O: The Oprah Magazine

“Extraordinary . . . one of the most powerful nonfiction books I’d ever encountered . . . an instant American classic and almost certainly the keynote nonfiction book of the American century thus far. . . .Caste deepens our tragic sense of American history. It reads like watching the slow passing of a long and demented cortege. . . . It’s a book that seeks to shatter a paralysis of will. It’s a book that changes the weather inside a reader.”–Dwight Garner, The New York Times

“[Caste] should be at the top of every American’s reading list.”Chicago Tribune

“Wilkerson’s book is a powerful, illuminating and heartfelt account of how hierarchy reproduces itself, as well as a call to action for the difficult work of undoing it.”The Washington Post

We’ll be discussing this book in The Society of Notable Women. You can request to join here.

I recommend you buy the book from Bookshop and support a local indie bookstore. Or you can get this book from your local library! Lastly, you could get it on Amazon.

Looking forward to chatting books with you!

The Notable Woman Book Club is here!

The Notable Woman Book Club is here!

I’m excited to announce the first pick for The Notable Woman Book Club – Untamed by Glennon Doyle.

I’ve wanted to launch a book club for Notable Women for years now. I love to read, you love to read, it’s a match made in heaven. But it was always so time-consuming on top of everything else that I wasn’t really managing. It got pushed to the side over and over again. But now, I finally do have the time, and I can’t wait to get started.

Picking our first book is also really challenging, but since this book came out during the pandemic and all the normal exciting book events have been canceled, I think it’ll be fun for us to gather to discuss. (Virtually gather, of course.)

What’s Untamed about?

There is a voice of longing inside each woman. We strive so mightily to be good: good partners, daughters, mothers, employees, and friends. We hope all this striving will make us feel alive. Instead, it leaves us feeling weary, stuck, overwhelmed, and underwhelmed. We look at our lives and wonder: Wasn’t it all supposed to be more beautiful than this? We quickly silence that question, telling ourselves to be grateful, hiding our discontent–even from ourselves.

And who is Glennon Doyle?

Glennon Doyle is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Love Warrior, an Oprah’s Book Club selection, as well as the New York Times bestseller Carry On, Warrior. An activist, speaker, and thought leader, she is also the founder and president of Together Rising, an all-women led nonprofit organization that has revolutionized grassroots philanthropy–raising over $20 million for women, families, and children in crisis, with a most frequent donation of just $25. Glennon was named among OWN Network’s SuperSoul 100 inaugural group as one of 100 “awakened leaders who are using their voices and talent to elevate humanity.” She lives in Florida with her wife and three children.

What are people saying about this book?

Untamed will liberate women–emotionally, spiritually, and physically. It is phenomenal.”–Elizabeth Gilbert, author of City of Girls and Eat Pray Love

“Some books shake you by the shoulder while others steal your heart. In Untamed, Glennon does both at the exact same time.”–Brené Brown

“This memoir is so packed with incredible insight about what it means to be a woman today, what it means to be ‘good, ‘ and what women will do in order to be loved. I swear I highlighted something in EVERY chapter.”–Reese Witherspoon

We’ll be discussing this book in The Society of Notable Women. You can request to join here.

I recommend you buy the book from Bookshop and support a local indie bookstore. Or you can get this book from your local library! Lastly, you could get it on Amazon.

Looking forward to chatting books with you!

40. COVID-19 ‘s Effect on An Increase on Domestic & Intimate Partner Violence

40. COVID-19 ‘s Effect on An Increase on Domestic & Intimate Partner Violence

What I would hate to learn is that someone felt that they could never reach out for help because they would be taking away from people who truly needed help in the situation, and victims always truly need help. So, we’re here to support them.

Have you heard the news that COVID-19 is causing an increase in domestic violence and intimate partner violence instances? Maybe you have from journalism like this NY Times piece or this article from the Washington Post.

In China’s Hubei province, domestic violence calls nearly doubled. In Spain, their state run domestic violence website saw a 270% increase in traffic. Here in the United States, South Carolina saw a 35% increase in March from February, Houston a 20% increase, and North Carolina 18%. And most states didn’t start social distancing or lockdowns until mid March.

I have been reading the above articles so I went to my friend and guest from The Notable Woman Podcast, episode 20, Kelley Rainey, to find out what was going on and how we can help. Kelley is the Director of Domestic Violence Programs for Family and Children’s Services, and she readily agreed to be on the show and provide resources for all of us, whether we be experiencing this or be fearful that someone we know and love is.

In this third episode focused on COVID-19 episode, we talk about:

  • what domestic and intimate partner violence instances look like pre-COVID-19,
  • what’s driving what’s happening now,
  • what resources are available for people who need help,
  • what not to do that might bring harm to those that we love, and
  • what help we can give to our friends and family we’re worried about

Resources Kelley provided include:

  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline – 1-800-799-7233
  • RAINN – 1-800-656-4673
  • Family & Children Services 24 hour line (Kelley’s organization) – 443-865-8031 (This is call or text)

Although Kelley’s organization serves Baltimore, Maryland and its surrounding counties, her counselors are trained specifically in COVID-19, and they can help create a safety plan that will work for you no matter where you live. You don’t need to provide your location or any identifying information.

You’re going to find this episode a short, information filled podcast with resources that can help you now or in the future.

The other episodes in this COVID-19 series are COVID-19’s Exponential Growth with Amy Simpkins and COVID-19 and Public Health Communication with Karen Hilyard.

Click here to listen on a dozen different platforms!

Rate, Review, & Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

I was a fan before I was a guest. Now I’ve been a guest and I’m an even greater fan! Cristin Downs is an amazing interviewer and host. She is insightful, professional and just a pleasure to work with. What comes across in the stories is as much a product of Cristin’s fierce talent in conceptualizing the episodes and finding the stories as it is the a reflection of her interesting and engaging subjects. Fantastic, Notable Women. Listen and enjoy!

If you love the show, please consider rating and reviewing the podcast! This helps more people find the show and listen to these amazing conversations. Click here, scroll to the bottom, tap to rate (with five stars, I hope!), and select “Write a Review.” I’d love to hear what you enjoyed about the episode.

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38. COVID-19’s Exponential Growth with Amy Simpkins

38. COVID-19’s Exponential Growth with Amy Simpkins

In this bringing the podcast back episode, I interview self proclaimed data nerd Amy Simpkins about COVID-19’s exponential growth.

I’ve been personally off the grid due to the death of my father. He was one of my favorite people to walk the earth. A good egg. He went on hospice in December and then passed away in January. While we sat together each evening, with my mother too, we saw reports about a virus in Wuhan which eventually became a global pandemic.

Not quite sure what to do – who really knows right now? – I decided to create a series of resources Notable Women might need to get by right now, and they’re all housed in “The Social Distancing Summit.” You can find that in The Society of Notable Women right here. 

We’ve got experts on fear. anxiety, and stress; activities for tiny humans, and interviews like this one here with Amy Simpkins.

Amy is the CEO of muGrid Analytics, and she and her husband Travis created a data project looking at the exponential growth of COVID-19. You can find their work at humansvsvirus.com. The more we flatten the curve, the more likely we can beat the virus!! (I always see Bill Pullman’s speech in Independence Day in my head at this moment.)

One of the things I’ve noted as I talk to people about this virus is that don’t understand why people freak out when there’s 3, or 7, or even in the case of New York City, 300 cases in your community. Ah, my friend, that is what Amy is here to explain.

IN THIS EPISODE, I EXPLORE:
  • Why Amy’s the right person to talk to about this
  • Why Amy’s personally interested in the data around COVID-19
  • An explanation of some of the terms you’ve been hearing – R naught value and CFR
  • What COVID-19’s doubling time is
  • How we can #flattenthecurve

I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did creating it. You can listen now, right here from this webpage by clicking the play button below.

Prefer Apple Podcasts? Android user? Go to Overcast here or Google Podcasts here. Pocket Casts? Radio Public? Something else? And of course, if you loved the episode, a review is always appreciated! 

EPISODE RESOURCES INCLUDE (affiliate links included):

Today’s Guest

Amy Simpkins

“Seriously, get your head around – it’s going to be awhile. And if it’s less than that while, we’ll all be super duper happy.”

Hi, I’m Cristin, and you’ve found The Notable Woman.

If not us, then who? If not now, then when? Here at The Notable Woman, we’re energizing 51% of the population to forge the new norm. Podcast, summits, online community, and more, all designed to connect you to your power within so we can transform the world. Join my free Facebook group, and let’s get started today.

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About Amy Simpkins

Amy Simpkins is the Chief Executive Officer of MuGrid Analytics, and has over 15 years of experience in technical engineering and project management of complex systems and software.
 
Prior to joining muGrid, Amy was an engineer and spacecraft systems architect with Lockheed Martin, where she worked on advanced R&D and design integration for earth observing and manned spacecraft. In this capacity, she assessed architectural choices based on design performance, operational power constraints, and program finance. Amy also spent several years in flight operations for unmanned scientific exploration spacecraft, where she helped monitor and manage the solar array performance, energy storage systems, and power budgets of long duration deep space missions. Her technical expertise includes system and software architecture, system-level performance modeling, and design tradespace analysis.
 
 
Amy has coached and consulted on product innovation, business strategy, marketing, and sales for startups and small businesses in the renewable energy, healthcare, and SaaS sales spaces. She is an internationally recognized speaker on innovation and integration for entrepreneurs and is author of the book, Spiral: A Catalyst for Innovation and Expansion (Amazon). She holds an MS in Astronautical Engineering from the University of Southern California and an SB in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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