Self-Help


trinny and susannahBook 28: “Trinny and Susannah: What you wear can change your life” By Trinny Woodall and Susannah Cnstantine (2005) 264 pages; Started and finished on June 19.

More inspiring than the home organization book that I read last week, this one is also full of stuff that I already know. But its much more enjoyable to look at the good and bad pictures of Trinny and Susannah and be reminded that no matter how cute and fabulous you are, or how many flaws your body may have (plenty, if you are a normal person), or even if you have gained weight due to current or recent pregnancy, wearing clothes and accessories that suit you can make a huge difference. If you don’t already know this– ie, if you always think you look like crap– then you should get this book, or any of the others by these two Brits who started the “What not to Wear” franchise. They are very smart when it comes to this topic of looking good. And if you think looking good doesn’t matter–or that you can’t look as good as they do in the “after” pics– you are probably wrong. Yes, I got through this book in a day because its full of pictures (and large text) but it was way more satisfying and empowering than flipping a fashion magazine, and more fun, too.

beverly-hills-organizers-home-organizing-bible-linda-koopersmith-paperback-cover-artBook 27: “The Beverly Hills Organizer’s Home Organizing Bible” By Linda Koopersmith (2005) 168 pages; Started and finished on June 17.

OK, I know it has been ages since I have posted (other than this morning’s update) and it probably seems like I haven’t been reading anything at all. Well, the good news is that isn’t true– but the bad news is I probably will not even make it to 40 books, let alone 50. But I did make some headway this week….  Anyway, here is what’s been going on, reading wise: Way back in May after I finished “The Ladies’ Man”, I stated reading this great book called “Angels and Ages” by Adam Gopnik. I love reading Gopnik in the New Yorker, and I was excited to read this book because it is probably the most clever birthday gift I ever received– it’s about Charles Darwin and Abe Lincoln, it was released on the 200th anniversary of their (same) birthdays, and my friend David gave it to me on the 33rd anniversary of mine. But the problem is, it’s not a quick read. So I was making my way through it, and enjoying learning more about Lincoln and Darwin… and then I found myself with a few extra minutes at the library and the next thing I knew I had a stack of fiction (it is summer after all) and I started reading “Love in the Time of Cholera”, which I’ve been wanting to read forever. Thinking that would be a faster read than Gopnik, I vowed to come back to “Angels and Ages” later on, and started reading the Marquez book. Which I love. But I am still only about halfway through. (Mainly because I’ve just not had all that much time do devote to reading lately… and as I am pregnant, every time I read in bed I fall asleep within 3 minutes.)

Speaking of being pregnant: while still enjoying “Love…” I also have started nesting (prematurely, I think– this is a bug that didn’t bite  me  until well into my 7th month the first time around; now I’m barely at month 5 and lo and behold, all I want to do is organize my house….) so I borrowed this organizing book from my friend Tammy. When I was pregnant with Ben, I spent HOURS watching “Clean House”, but didn’t actually do that much cleaning of my own house. Now that I have to make room for a fourth person in a house that already seems too small, I think I had better start being creative. I hoped this book, by the former organizer/co-host of “Clean House”, would be a great start.

I loved watching Linda Koopsmith in action on the TV show– crazily wielding her labeling machine and making every closet and drawer look perfect and gorgeous– so I was expecting this book to make me want to get to work. But here’s the problem with the book (and the reason I was able to read it in one day flat… really, more like two hours) is that every chapter is exactly the same. She shows some nice pictures of a really good-looking, well organized closet/drawer/cabinet and then gives these instructions: Take everything out. throw out what you don’t need. put like with like. Use my favorite organizing tool. (Lazy susan/shelf divider/drawer divider/spice rack/etc etc). put everything back neatly. ugh. those are awful instructions! I already know I am supposed to do all of those things– the problem is I just never want to! Or, I already do do those things, and then in one week the drawer looks like crap again. So, not much help at all. Thanks a bunch, Linda. (And about that silly labeler– this is one case where I think Linda doesn’t go far enough: who needs a labeler when with your printer and some clear tape you can create gorgeous labels, any size and any font you want?)

But there is one shred of a silver lining. In the introduction– all of one page– I got some unbelievably useful advice. My problem is that when I do try to organize, I try to do it marathon-style– “I just need to spend this weekend organzing my whole house!” Well, of course I don’t even get through one room. Linda identifies this exact problem and says that a novice has to train for organizing like you are training for a marathon. OK, sounds silly, but she recommends– no, insists– that you can only take on a 15-minute project if you are just getting started. If you spend 15 minutes, twice a day, getting your stuff in order, not only will you not get burned out, but you will actually see results, and be so enamored of the fabulousness that soon you’ll be addicted. Then you can work up to 20, 30, even 60 minutes of organizing at a time. Linda brags that she can go for 17 hours straight, but that is one goal I have no interest in reaching.

Josh laughed when I told him that this was all I learned from the book– because he says he tells me the same thing every day. Actually, what he tells me is to pick up after myself, and spend 30 seconds throughout the day cleaning up the trails of stuff that I seem to leave everywhere. But actually, it’s not the same thing. “All day, every day” is too depressing and not something that I would find addictive. And putting away and cleaning would be easy– if everything had it’s place. Which it doesn’t until the house is organized! So, not only can I see the logic in this 15-minutes/twice a day plan but I have even started to make some progress. (Last night, for example, in one 15 minute spurt I worked on one shelf in the playroom; today in 10 minutes I re-arranged some stuff in the cereal cabinet, and even did some of the wonderful throwing away that is so desperately needed…) I know for people who are inherently good at this, this sounds either obvious or pathetic, but trust me– this is really good advice for me. OK, maybe the book was worth it after all. I’ll keep you posted.