My mission is to help you reign over clutter.
In case you were wondering about my qualifications, I am:
- A certified professional organizer© (CPO)
- A member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO)
- The Organized Auntie on the Savvy Auntie blog
- The in-house professional organizer at a major cancer center
For the last 12 years, I’ve had the honor of working full-time in this last role at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. My job is to organize some really bright, caring people so they can focus on what matters most to them professionally. I help them keep their desk, computers, offices and minds clear so they can continue to compassionately treat people with cancer or continue to search for a cure for cancer.
I do one-on-one appointments with faculty and staff to tackle:
- Productivity and time management challenges
- E-mail, computer, smart phone and iPad organization
- Organization of computer and paper files
- Work file and e-mail short-cuts
- ADD/ADHD issues
- Perfectionism and it’s evil twin procrastination
- The eradication of towering stacks of papers and journals
- The de-cluttering of messy offices
What I Believe about Life and Organizing:
- I believe in quality over quantity.
- I believe anyone can become organized if they want to be.
- I believe in the power of humor.
- I believe in the restorative powers of dark chocolate, grande non-fat lattes and naps.
- I believe in using what you have first.
- I believe in my nieces and nephews.
- I believe that everything works out for the best in the end.
- I believe Crave Cupcake’s chocolate and peanut butter cupcake is SO WORTH the extra time at the gym.
- I believe the best cure for a bad day is to talk to one of your best friends.
- I believe what my friend, Donna Smallin says, that “done is perfect.”
Get to know me. A lot.
I grew up in a small town – Elgin, Oklahoma, where I went to school from kindergarten through my senior year of high school. My dad was a construction worker, and my mom was a housewife who had a knack for sewing. I’m adopted and so is my sister. My brother wasn’t adopted. Surprise!
My parents liked to keep stuff. They couldn’t help it since they both grew up with parents who went through The Great Depression. So I grew up keeping stuff too, but more about that later.
During junior and senior high school, I discovered that I liked writing, but I really wanted to be a rock star and be in music videos on MTV. Just one problem with the rock star dream: I have a serious lack of musical talent. So I focused on the writing thing and worked on my high school newspaper.
Police beat toughened me up for professional organizing
I attended Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma, and I majored in Communications with an emphasis on journalism and a minor in theater. I worked at the college newspaper for four years as a reporter and the editor. Also during college, I worked for a weekly city newspaper then for the city’s daily, The Lawton Constitution. These jobs are what people call “paying-your-dues jobs.” I wrote obituaries, police news, birth announcements and other stories. As a theater minor, I acted, danced, wrote one-act plays, handled costumes and dabbled in technical theater.
After having fully explored the world of print journalism in college, I swore I would never work for a newspaper. Then I got a job as a newspaper reporter for The Galveston Daily News (now The Galveston County Daily News) in Galveston, Texas. I covered the police beat and the arts (that theater minor on my resume stood out). It’s important to note that I can’t swim, am allergic to shellfish and have to wear SPF 5000 in the sun, but I moved to an island.
On the police beat, I regularly covered homicides, suicides, shootings, stabbings, robberies, car wrecks, prostitution, the early 1990s crack war and other such things. Because of my time on the police beat, I tell my organizing clients that none of their clutter shocks me. Actually very little shocks me.
School districts need organization too
Almost five years later, I found myself out of the newspaper game and landed at the Galveston Independent School District, trying to rediscover myself. I became a Jane-of-all-Trades as a media coordinator and was in charge of the school librarians (the ultimate organizers). I also managed the district’s textbooks, designed flyers and helped out with public relations. At night, just for myself (because I just had to add more to my plate) I earned my Master of Arts degree at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. My degree was in humanities, which, for me, included communications, literature, art history and creative writing.
Organizing found me
After 10 years of living on Galveston Island, I decided to move up to the big city of Houston after landing what I didn’t know at the time would become my dream job at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
I was part of a new department called Faculty Development, offering career development programs for the faculty. During focus groups, our faculty said they needed help with organizing and time management, and the boss noticed that I had a knack for it. She found out about the National Association of Professional Organizers conference in Austin in 2001, and she sent me off to it.
At the NAPO conference, I realized that these organizers were my people. So I became a professional organizer and began offering services to the faculty and staff at MD Anderson. As far as I know, I’m the only in-house professional organizer working for an academic institution. And the rest is organizing history.
Another life-altering moment happened in 2001. Two weeks after 9/11, I received the call from an adoption intermediary who had located my birthmother. Overnight, the size of my family and heart doubled. Because of my experiences, I’ve also helped and advised friends and colleagues who are part of the adoption triad. Life is always an interesting journey.
Was I always organized?
If you asked me in college about becoming a professional organizer, I would have looked confused, tilted my head and said, “A what?” But when I think about it, organizing has always been lurking in the shadows. Growing up, my sister and I shared a room. You know how it goes. Possession is nine-tenths of the law, and you had to keep your stuff on your side of the imaginary line. I also liked re-arranging my stuff to make it look better.
At the newspaper, none of us had clean desks. We were reporters, after all, so we accumulated a steady stream of newspapers, press releases and reporter notebooks. But like I said, the organizing gene was lurking. My files inside my drawer were always organized though.
Little did I know, I craved organization too
Like I said earlier, I grew up keeping stuff. After leaving the newspaper, I realized that I was buried in newspapers, papers, T-shirts (I swear they always give reporters T-shirts) and stuff at home. I started reading about organizing. The first organizing book I read was “You Can Find More Time for Yourself Every Day” by Stephanie Culp, and it changed my life. I started getting rid of stuff. Then Julie Morgenstern’s “Organizing Your Life from the Inside Out” cinched it all for me, and everything came together. It all made sense.
To sum it all up again, Today, I continue to organize the masses at MD Anderson, and I share my professional organizing experience here on The Clutter Princess blog. Helping people de-clutter and de-stress makes me feel good. I’ve made it my mission to help people reign over clutter.