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A Guide for Achieving Anything

schedIt’s a new year.
A new chance for reaching your goals,
fulfilling your potential
and turning dreams into accomplishments.
Like starting a business,
losing weight,
even organizing your garage.
Large goals can be daunting,
but they’re not impossible.
The key is to break down your goal
into
baby
steps.
Then complete each step.
Which is where many of us get stuck.
How to get unstuck?
Schedule these baby steps.
Give yourself mini deadlines.
Lose one pound by Valentine’s Day,
Get rid of all the old paint cans in the garage by St. Patrick’s Day.
Deadlines give you a push,
hold you accountable,
and put pep in your step.
That’s where a paper schedule book can help.
Paper schedule book?
Yes, an old fashioned, old school paper schedule book.
Ever since college I have used an At-A-Glance weekly schedule book.
Each blank page is a possible new adventure
waiting to be discovered.
Sure, you can use Google Calendar, but it can be helpful to see the big picture.
A visual reminder of
which tasks still need to be done,
which already finished.
For fun, use a Sharpie or an orange marker.
Make it stand out.
Each completed task, a stepping-stone to where you will be tomorrow.
And the day after that.
Am I nuts for using a paper book?
Maybe. But I’m not the only one.
Sales of printed schedule books last year, according to the New York Times was $342.7 million. That’s million!
There’s something motivating (and rewarding!) when you cross off a scheduled achievement in your book.
Like crossing off a task from your To Do list.
It says, “I did it!”
and encourages you to achieve the next
and the next.
Until you’re one step closer to your goal.
Somehow, hitting a “Delete” button is not the same.
What will you accomplish in 2017?
Only time will tell.

 

 

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How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

With all the eagerness and enthusiasm we put into making New Year’s resolutions, we are well aware that sometimes they don’t stick. Whether a diet, quitting smoking or getting organized, we must keep in mind that resolutions are not a wish, but a promise to ourselves to begin and complete something. To keep that resolution you need a solution. Creating a time line of manageable steps can make a daunting goal less intimidating.

Which is why I created this EASY STEP BY STEP DAILY GUIDE for those wishing to get rid of clutter and in the process, find more time to do the things you love. Since January is Get Organized month, it’s a great time to begin. The chart removes the “Where do I start? I’m so overwhelmed!” block that many feel and makes it easier to reach your goal.

It’s like purchasing a bookcase from IKEA: you don’t open the box and find it assembled, you find a list of steps. The same with a resolution. To get the best results, take it step-by-step.

Happy New You!

Winter Wear: From Woes to Wows

 

It’s winter, which means cold, cold and, oh yeah, more cold. One great way to stay warm these next few months is by wearing hats, gloves and scarves. But what if your Winter Wear drawer/ basket/tote is spilling over with pilled scarves, single gloves or funny hats you bought on a whim while on vacation in Peru that you’ll never wear again? Then it’s time for a Winter Wear makeover.

Which is easy. And fun.

  1. Put on music you like to dance to. This revs up your energy.
  2. Spread all winter gear out on a table, by category. All hats together, all gloves and mittens (paired of course), scarves, neck warmers, headbands, long underwear, etc.
  3. Pick out the things you really love: hats that look good on you, are in good shape, mittens that have a partner, etc. Put them in a new pile we’ll call the Keep pile.
  4. Now, remove anything that looks old, dirty, has lost its warmth factor, is missing a partner, you no longer like, etc. Put this stuff in the Buh Bye pile.
  5. You should now be left with the “I don’t knows.” Try them on. Take a good look in the mirror. Like it? Then keep. Look funny? See ya. And if you’re still not sure, make it a point to wear those items this week. Then when you get home, you should know if you’re going to keep or toss them.
  6. Now, with your paired down remaining items, put them away by category. If you have the space, maybe puts hats in one drawer, scarves in another, and so on. And if you need a visual, check out the video above.

Hope this was helpful. Remember, winter means it’s almost spring!

Happy holidays!

Gone but Not Forgotten

Hi Papa.

Has it really been a year since we last spoke? Sometimes it feels longer and sometimes like only yesterday. Maybe it’s because a day doesn’t goes by I don’t think about you or even talk about you. Sales of “What Papa Told Me” continue to come in, as do requests for me to speak in schools about The Book. As hard as it is to talk about you now that you’re gone, it’s also heartening when the feedback is so positive. Especially after my recent talk at Edward R. Murrow HS in Brooklyn, which, ironically, isn’t so far from where you once lived. Instead of me telling you what the students said, I will let the excerpts from their letters speak for themselves.

letters to papa

In this holiday time, I just wanted to say thanks again for your last gift–this story. It truly is a gift that keeps on giving.

Well, I’m sure you’re busy with shuffleboard and poker tournaments, so please know I am thinking of you and sending a hug. Everyone here is well and sends their love. Hi to Nana. Is she still feeding you? I’m sure your appetite is back and bigger than ever. Until next time.

I love you.

Felice

Do You Believe in Magic?

lib-kids-rmI believe in magic. (I believe in the Tooth Fairy too, but that’s another story.) I believe in magic the same way I believe that people are inherently decent and that eating a little chocolate every day is good for you. I believe in this because I have hope. And what is hope, really, but the belief of something better.

Maybe I’m feeling hopeful today because I’m writing from where I first fell in love with magic: the Centerville Public Library. As a child, books took me to places where dogs grew to be the size of houses and where young girls wore mismatched socks and grew up to be witches. I was six and my world included my parents and my baby sister Jackie. It was a world in which newspapers were delivered to your front door, where markets weren’t super, and where Fridays were sunny not black.

lib door.jpgSitting here now in this same room, in the back of the newly renovated library, (with free wifi and free coffee!) surrounded by books, the sun shining through a large bay window overlooking Four Seas Ice Cream, I realize this is not only the place where I learned to read, but where I felt hopeful about the future.

Maybe that is why many of my childhood friends have returned to Cape Cod. Because life out there, on the other side of the bridge, filled with big cities and big lights and big shots, lacks that homespun feeling. But here, in this quaint little town, remain glimpses of that past world. And it seems that now, more than ever, hope is what we could use a little more of.

I may no longer be the little girl with pigtails and scraped knees curled on a beanbag chair reading about Dorrie the Little Witch, however this room still makes me feel hopeful. And that, to me, is real magic.

Let Go, Let Good(will)

loafersAdmit it, you still wear those old comfy socks with the heel worn through, ignoring the new pair with the tags still on it, right? Or maybe it’s your favorite ripped jeans, that ratty T-shirt (you know, the one from college) or even a piece of warped Tupperware you just can’t part with.

“It’s still good,” you tell yourself as you go through contortions trying to get the lid on. I know. I’ve done this too. Last summer I wore ragged loafers even though I bought a new pair. So I made a deal with myself: I could wear the old, but had to toss them on Labor Day. And I did.

We’re all guilty of holding on to stuff way past its prime, yet there’s a difference between old socks and a family heirloom. Many of us have things in the home that once belonged to a loved one, now passed, but keep boxed up in a closet or down in the basement. I bet your deceased relative wouldn’t like that. It’s hard to part with these objects, but if they’re not being used, why keep them? Maybe there’s another relative, a friend or even a stranger who would use it, which will make you feel good about giving it away.

As for those items you just cannot part with, well, you might as well use and value them. Like your grandmother’s dish set. We often eat off IKEA dishes everyday while Nana’s china collects dust in the cabinet. Why aren’t we using it? Afraid we’ll break one? We could, but it’s only a dish. The pleasure of using the item is worth the risk. The plate is NOT your grandmother; it’s the food she taught you to cook that’s ON the plate that represents her best.

As for those old socks? Wear them next week on Thanksgiving. Then after the meal, when you’re sitting on the couch in a food coma, look down and thank them for the comfort they’ve brought you. Then, assuming you can reach your feet, toss ‘em and start wearing a new pair.

Happy Thanksgiving!

A Little Goes A Long Way

felice-gaspLast month I rode in The Last Gasp, a 60-mile bike ride across Cape Cod, MA to raise money for various charities. I trained for months. I ate well. I was ready.

On the morning of the ride, the sky threatened rain, but the sun fought hard to shine through. It was hot, especially for mid-September. The 300 riders were gathered, tires inflated, back pockets filled with Gu, and after singing the national anthem as a group, we were off.

My legs felt strong, the humidity loosening my muscles, not to mention a slight push from a gentle tailwind. The gaggle of cyclists thinned out with each mile, speedier riders eating up the distance faster. The first rest stop at mile 23 came quickly. After eating half a PB&J I was back on the road.

Folks along the route—Cape Codders with an interest in the charities as well as members of the community—cheered us on, bringing me back to the road. You see your mind wanders on long bike rides as the miles collect beneath you. Past experiences, long lost friends, and ideas for better, more comfortable bike seats pop into your head as cars whiz by, some too close for comfort.

I glided into the second rest stop at mile 43 still energized. Gulped down some blue Gatorade, a banana and was off. This last stretch was rolling hills and that tailwind was now a headwind. My legs stared to tire. I thought about stopping. I thought about thumbing it. I thought about my couch.

That’s when I saw people up ahead on the side of the road. Soon I was upon them, a father and three toddlers holding colorful signs. “Thanks for riding for my mommy!” read one sign, written in the scrawl of a child. That’s all it took. Like a shot of adrenaline, my muscles felt rejuvenated. That little bit of encouragement, that little reminder of why I was putting myself to this grueling test, was huge.

Like a coach yelling, “You can do it!” from the sideline, a teacher writing “Good work” on your English paper, or the simple words of a child, a little encouragement is sometimes all it takes to reach your goal.

Mind Full or Mindful?

mindfulOne day last spring I dropped off my car at the parking garage like I’ve done a hundred times, leaving it in the narrow space where cars enter and exit. Putting the car in park, a text came in which I answered while removing my bags and bike. By the time I walked into my apartment my phone was ringing. “Where are your keys?” shouted the garage attendant. “No one can get in or out!” Instead of leaving the keys in the ignition—like I always do—I took them.

So when my sister Meredith invited me to attend a mindfulness workshop in July, I agreed. Mindfulness is, quite simply, being aware of what’s going on around you. Yet quite often, we’re not. We’re doing two, maybe three things at once, with nothing getting our full attention and things occasionally falling through the cracks. The workshop taught how just a few minutes of conscious breathing every day could help correct that.

Studies show that people who are “in the moment” are happier. Makes sense. If you’re not, then life is passing you by. Along with lowering stress, decreasing anxiety and helping with weight loss, mindfulness can help you stay organized.

Take your closet. You organize it. Better yet, you hire an organizer to organize it. The next morning you pick out a shirt. You try it on and decide to wear something else. Okay, now this is where mindfulness comes in: do you refold the shirt and put it back properly or just toss it onto a shelf? Now it’s your closet, you can do what you want, but being mindful means taking the time to do it right. Putting it back haphazardly also says you’re not worth having a nice closet. If you’re too tired or busy to put it where it belongs, don’t put it away. Wait until you have the time to do it mindfully.

When I returned to NYC and pulled into my parking garage last month, wouldn’t you know, a text came in at the same time. Ignoring my phone, I gathered my belongings as the attendant sprinted out of the booth.

“Keys in the ignition,” he said, more statement than question.

I nodded. “Sorry again about that,” I said. “My mind was full at the time.”

3 Easy Steps for Mindfulness Breathing

  1. Sit up straight, close your eyes, rest your hands on your lap or one hand on your belly to feel the breath going in and out.
  2. Focus on your breathing, feel your stomach expand and lower.
  3. Continuously bring attention to your breathing. Your mind will wander as you do this exercise. Just bring it back to your breath. The whole point of the exercise is to reign back in your thoughts, as it will wander over and over. Start with two minutes a day! That’s it.

A New Venture

Hello Blog Readers!

meri-1

Click on image to watch video!

Taking a moment to thank you for sticking with me through over 250 blogs! Reading your feedback continues to motivate me to keep writing. (“What?” you say. “Felice needs motivating?”) Yep. Sometimes. And while I love writing, I also love actual hands-on organizing–turning chaos into order.

That’s why I started a YouTube channel. It will show Before & After videos of other people’s closets, garages, storage spaces and (fill in the blank) getting organized. Which is where you come in. I need messy spaces to work on. I am often traveling between New York City and Cape Cod, MA, but am willing to travel farther, and if you have a space that needs help, I’m there. So if you’re ready to say “Buh Bye!” to some of your stuff and make your home or office look great, please send an email with a picture of your space to me at: felice@felicecohen.com.

Here’s the link again to sign up for my YouTube channel. Please share it with your friends.

Keep living large!

Thanks again.

Felice

Taste of My Own Medicine

20160911_193149

Click on any of the images to watch the video.

For teachers, there is a moment when the student becomes the master. That’s not to say every once in a while the teacher couldn’t use a refresher course.

I’ve helped many people clean out their closets, unloading out of fashion old clothing that no longer fits. Most are happy to part with the stuff, but occasionally a heartstring gets tugged. One client, five years divorced, devoted an entire closet to her expensive wedding dress. Emotion is often involved. Or history. Or finances. It’s understandable. It takes time. I try to be gentle, but firm. Sometimes they need a push.

Turns out, we all do.

20160910_083612

Let the “buh byes” begin!

Last weekend my younger sister Meredith came for a visit. Over the years I’ve organized every dorm room and apartment she’s ever lived in. But on Saturday the shoe was on the other foot. She orchestrated every move. And move it did. Out of my closet and into a giveaway bag. Well, bags.

 

  • 5 pairs of pants
  • 4 Blazers
  • 2 dresses (one with the tag still on it!)
  • 12 Shirts and blouses
  • 3 sweaters
  • 4 pairs of shorts
  • 5 scarves
  • 2 skirts
  • 3 belts
  • 7 pairs of shoes

20160914_094207

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. I’m constantly culling through my stuff so why was this time so hard? Maybe because Meredith was directing. I felt, what do you call it? Oh yeah, vulnerable. Is this what it’s like to be my client? But I trust my sister when she says, “Too baggy.” “Fits funny.” “Oh, that has to go.” So I tried to relax as the tower of clothing grew higher.

The next day I brought the heavy bags to donation. My arms were burning, but the feeling of separation was visceral. I chided myself: this is not your first rodeo. You’ve given away tons of stuff. Soon the bags were whisked away and I was handed a tax receipt. Walking home, a lightness appeared with each step. Not just physically, but mentally. The burden of ownership of all that stuff was simply gone.

Returning to my apartment I looked inside my closet. White slivers of the back wall were visible between hanging pieces of clothing. The clothes now had room to breathe. And you know what? So did I.

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