Years ago while vacationing, my husband and I stayed with his cousin in California. His cousin had to work during the day, so while he was gone we relaxed by his pool. During this time, I decided to teach his dog, Rocco, some fun tricks.
Rocco was an eager student so I taught him several tricks a day. At the end of our stay, he performed his surprise show to everyone’s delight.
Many years went by before we were able to go back for another visit. I could tell Rocco’s memory of me had faded. I asked if Rocco still knew his tricks. His cousin said, “Of course he does, watch this.” Sure enough, Rocco performed with much enthusiasm. I noticed he left out one trick though, so I asked if he still knew how to wave. His cousin had completely forgotten that I had taught him that trick. I looked at Rocco and gave the command, “Wave.” Rocco looked at me intensely as he was trying to recall this word from his past. I said again, “Rocco, wave.” This time his leg raised up and down in a mock wave.
We were all amazed he remembered how to wave, since he hadn’t been asked to for many years.
Like Rocco, we also have things we have learned ingrained within us even if we don’t readily recall them. Whether good or bad, these habits stay within us directing our decisions. Instinctively, we respond to situations based on what we were taught.
I find this happening when I work with my organizing clients. Their past experiences and habits direct some of their decisions. I constantly have to remind them their past doesn’t have to determine what they keep. I need them to think about how they live their life, and to not let the habits of other people influence them.
Sometimes, we have to change these habits and begin to live our truth before we can get organized.
Let me share a habit that became important to me because it’s what my mother taught me. She made sending out Christmas cards a priority. She sent her cards out every year up until she passed.
Early on I took on her same habit and started sending out Christmas cards. Even though I felt they were more of a burden than a joy, I dutifully sent them out every year.
When my Mother became terminally ill, she came to live with us. I cared for her, my five children and my clients. Needless to say, I was extremely busy and often exhausted. Regardless, my Mother’s Christmas cards had to go out. We sent them one final time, and she passed away in January.
Ironically, because I was caring for her, mine didn’t get done that year. A habit I had done for years ended abruptly. It felt freeing instead of depressing. I decided right then that I didn’t have to take on my Mother’s habit of sending Christmas cards. I donated all my unused Christmas cards. Now at Christmas, I do something I find joy in doing, like baking cookies and sharing them.
As you organize your home, think about whether you are holding on to something out of habit. Let go of things from past habits and your home will become more peaceful, more you.
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Lori Firsdon owns Forte Organizers in Centerville. She does onsite organizing and speaking engagements. For more organizing tips, visit www.ForteOrganizers.com.