By Jenna Baltera, Resourceful Consultants
As I stepped into Sweat Life founder Aly Teich’s West Village apartment for the first time, heaviness hung in the air. There was the physical heaviness of having so much packed into five-hundred square feet; boxes of products were piled against walls with no indication of what was inside and stacks of mail sat unopened everywhere. The windows were even covered with ivy, suggesting that this was a place that had been uninhabited for a long time. Then there was the emotional heaviness. Aly was suffering from the fresh tragedy of losing her beloved mother to ovarian cancer, losing a best friend to cancer, and permanently moving back into her apartment after a tough break-up with a boyfriend. As is often the case, physical clutter mirrors emotional stress, and both Aly and her apartment needed some major TLC.
The first step for us was to eliminate anything no longer used or wanted. I constantly reminded Aly that eventually a new skin would grow, but we were going to have to make some difficult decisions as we sifted through piles of yoga pants, memories, and heartbreak. This was where I got to know Aly in a deeper way as she shared stories and recollections about each piece of memorabilia, bag, and shoe. We discovered letters and jewelry from her mother that she had thought were lost. One of those notes still lives in a frame next to her bed today. We slowly made our way through the endless drawers of running gear and papers until the floor was no longer a path of sports bras and barre socks. As Aly opened up about her life, she became more open to the idea of letting go of the psychological clutter that was literally burying her and preventing her from taking the first steps required to move forward. After we had opened and purged every box, drawer, and pile, we were able to put everything away neatly. When Aly and I finished working together, her clothes were properly folded and labeled, her pantry was filled with rows of neatly organized bins, and her shoes were lined up in closets according to season. The items she used most were in places that were easy to reach, and what she used infrequently was stored in less accessible places. Everything was labeled, and her home, while not yet her spirit, was intact.
A year passed before I heard from Aly again. This time, she needed my help for a move to an apartment in Tribeca. When she greeted me at the front door with a giant hug, I could tell she had emerged from the darkness and life had been breathed back into her. Everything about her was different… lighter… happier. She was excited about moving into her new home/work space and she was game for anything. We filled bags of clothing for donation and determined what would be moved and what would be put in storage. I was tougher on her this time and pushed her to eliminate anything she no longer loved. When Aly was settled in her new apartment, I noticed how it was filled with sunlight and seemed to have more space to live and breathe (and do yoga)! Aly was free from the possessions that were holding her back, and her uncluttered physical space mirrored her emotional state of being…. LIGHT and HAPPY!
If, like Aly, you’re ready to shed the old and welcome a brighter, lighter you, here are some tips to help you.
Love it or Leave It. Only keep what you love and cherish. Part with the rest.
One in, One Out. For everything you bring into the home, get rid of the same amount. Everything should have a home!
Efficiency is Key. Items should be stored so that what you use most is most accessible.
Sentimental, Schmentimental. Create one box for memorabilia or sentimental items. Ask yourself if a picture can take the place of an item.
Maintain the System You Created. Put a strategy in place so every room in the house can stay neatly organized.
Go Crazy with a Label Maker. If everything has a properly labeled home, there will never be any confusion about where it lives.
Jenna Baltera is an associate with Resourceful Consultants, LLC, a firm founded by Barbara Reich, specializing in the organization of people, their lives, and physical spaces. Known for creating solutions that are as aesthetically appealing as they are practical, Resourceful Consultants has helped hundreds of people, ranging from powerful executives to busy mothers, eliminate clutter and maintain order in their lives. Services offered by Resourceful Consultants include: clutter purging and control, time management and efficiency, space planning, closet design, one touch paper management, digital organization, organizing for academic success, apartment staging, household scheduling, management , and staff training.