Cleaning Up Arizona - Part I

My first real organization job happened quite by accident, although there are no accidents!

My mom lives outside a small town, 9 miles out on a dirt road in Arizona.  This quote seems to sum up why she enjoys life there so much.

"I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams."
                                                                                                                   ~Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry

Except the something throbbing and gleaming on her beautiful piece of land, was this huge trailer filled with "STUFF".  Check out those wheels!  This baby was going nowhere fast.


Last year on a visit, I listened while she talked about how much she dreaded going through everything in this storage trailer and I saw first hand how overwhelmed and stuck she felt.  So, I hatched a plan to sort it all out with her.    

I may have used phrases like "It will be fun!" over and over and exuded a sense of confidence that belied the pressure that the plan had to be completed, start to finish in exactly 4 days. 

At any rate, I was convincing (and cute!), so we went to work.  

I'm going in!
The entire trailer was filled with decades of various hobbies, items of interests, memorabilia, photos, books (25 boxes!), household items and furniture that belonged not only to my mom but also to 4 other people.  

Now I have a rule that one should not organize anything for someone else unless one has permission...except that of the 4 other people, 3 are dead and the 4th is not to be found.   

Permission granted.


Step one.  Pull everything out, and I do mean everything. Over 100 boxes of everything.

Can you find my mom?
Step 2:  Sorting
My mom took on the task of wiping the gritty, desert dust off of things while I sorted into rows; the items that were saleable.  The smokin' burn barrel contains items that she discarded  (no trash service in the desert!)  and the truck?  

It's a dog's life.
The truck contained items we bagged up to drop off for donation and also specialty items that we sold to various stores such as musical instruments (3!) and deep sea fishing tackle.  
Deep sea fishing tackle in AZ?  I know...right?

We moved some things to a covered porch to sort in veritable comfort.


Itwas hot, it was dry, it was dusty.  We had a lot of laughs!  Whenever my mom asked me if she should keep something, I said "NO, take a picture of it".  We did not drink nearly enough water.   The wind may have have come up and blown some burning items out of the burn barrel...oh my.

After many, many trips to town to drop off donations, dropping off larger items  that needed to go to the dump, selling some items to specialty stores (cha-ching!) and neatly storing all the items for sale back in the trailer, (a garage sale is planned!),

this is all that was left. 

When I left to fly back home, she had just 10 boxes of photos left to sort.

 A few weeks later I received this photo....priceless.
Fun and Done!
Can't you just feel her exuberance?!  

Last week I received an email from her expressing her gratitude from our time together 16 months ago.

She writes, "I can't thank you enough for the inspiration you have brought into my life!  Getting me started on sorting out my stuff and bringing in Marie Kondo.  it really has been life changing for me.  I have always made do with things or Heaven help me if I got rid of anything before it was totally worn out.  It never mattered whether I actually liked it or not and joy never entered the picture.  I think I never felt worthy of surrounding myself with beautiful things and for most of my life unable (or so I thought) to afford those things.  I cannot believe how differently I feel now and how I look at everything in my life from a different point of view."

Thanks Mom.  This experience inspired me to start my business!

What items have you inherited that are taking up space and sapping energy from your life?