Excess, Mess, Stress: Barbara Reich to the Rescue
We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Let’s just say I am not known for my organization skills, at least not in a good way. I was nearly fired from Banana Republic in high school because I could never figure out how to fold properly. My husband is the type that showers three times daily and if you open his sock drawer you will find each pair neatly folded and stacked. I am the type that never puts my shoes or jewelry away and has three shirts on one hanger in a closet bursting at the seams. The title "EXCESSories Expert" has started to take on an unwanted meaning. I live in chaos. It doesn’t help that we live in a Manhattan apartment where space isn’t easy to come by. I’ve used excuses like “I’m never home so it doesn’t bother me” and “I’m just a creative person…this is how we live” for far too long. It finally reached the point where I could no longer deny the stress from my mess. It was time to call in the expertise of professional organizer, Barbara Reich.
Barbara arrived at my apartment with a perfect blowdry, a warm smile, and a no BS attitude. I loved her immediately. She said, “You’re a slob, but I’m going to help make it easy for you to get and stay organized." She wasted no time getting to work, because let me tell you, this was a big job. We unloaded my messy closets and went through every single item. If there was any remote doubt about an item, it went into the giveaway pile. I tried to hang on to a few things with tags still on out of guilt. Barbara’s response? “You can’t keep it just because it has a tag. It’s just a reminder of a mistake that never should have been made.” Also into the giveaway pile? Things with sentimental value I knew I’d likely never wear again…a stained top from 9 years ago is not worthy of taking up space just because I wore it on my first date with my husband. She also encouraged me to keep only one of each style item (one pair of boyfriend jeans, one leopard blouse)…more than that is just wasting precious space. I wasn’t as great with this advice, but I did agree that 18 flannel shirts seemed excessive, even for me. I kept 5. We donated the giveaway pile to Empowerment Through Fashion, the second annual fashion show and auction benefitting the Greater Chinatown Community Association (GCCA). Barbara’s super impressive teenage daughter, Rebecca Reich, will host the incredible event which takes place on December 5th from 3-5pm at the Transfiguration School/Church Auditorium at 105 Mosco Street. To make your own donation, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
After the massive purge, Barbara taught me how to fold, she color-coded my closet, and she made sure all the hangers were uniform (wire hangers from the dry-cleaners should be thrown out!), making it surprisingly pleasant to look at. She told me that there is proof that looking into a cluttered closet actually causes stress and fatigue and makes you feel out of control of your life. She is right. As we worked to organize my closets, I heard Barbara repeatedly use the words “declutter, minimize, edit, and focus.” I am certainly not great at putting these verbs into practice. I am not at all ashamed to admit that it is not my basic nature to be organized. That is why there are angels like Barbara who can teach me how to transform and maintain my spaces. I had a major revelation that organizing my closets was really a microcosm for what I need to do with the rest of my life. If I apply the verbs “declutter, minimize, edit, and focus” to my time I will probably find my days to be a lot more manageable. We’ll see how it goes. At the very least, I won’t be wasting so much time trying to find my black turtleneck. Thanks, Barbara.