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What I’m Afraid to Tell You

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Before I broke up with my therapist, he encouraged me to be more vulnerable, both in my relationships and out in the world. Vulnerability does not come easily to me, but I thought I would give it a try. I did pay for his advice after all. 

So, here are a few things I want you to know in no particular order:

I’m Not Wild About Organizing Products

When people find out I’m a home organizer, they often exclaim, “Oh! I bet The Container Store is your favorite place.” Here’s the truth: I’m passionate about helping people clarify what they value deeply, how they want to live, and what they want their home to look and feel like. I am NOT passionate about plastic drawer dividers or file folders. I believe that organizing products can be helpful in establishing clear zones and boundaries, and I like a pretty basket as much as the next girl, but these products do not drive or inspire my work. 

I Judge Myself, But I Don’t Judge You

I have very high standards for myself and often wrestle with perfectionistic tendencies. I’ve been told that clients (and even friends!) get nervous when they know I’m coming to visit. But, here’s the thing: when I walk into someone else’s home, the last thing I’m doing is judging them. I truly appreciate a variety of aesthetics, and I love to see how other people live and choose to set up their homes. I also love identifying the potential in even the most cluttered, disorganized spaces, and imagining how they could be transformed. So, what I’m saying is, I’m guilty of judging myself, but I have no interest in judging you, no matter what state your home is in. Period. 

Organization is My Coping Mechanism 

And here’s the hardest thing to admit. People assume I’m just wild about organization. And I am. But what I seldom share is why.

I was raised an only child, and my parents separated when I was three and had a turbulent divorce when I was eight. My father remarried, had my brother, and divorced again. People came in and out of my life…

Seven years ago, shortly after I had my second daughter, I lost my beloved father to suicide. Throwing myself into renovating my new home, and helping my clients transform theirs, saved me during the deepest loss and grief I’ve ever experienced. 

Throughout all of the challenges I’ve faced, creating an environment that felt good became a critical part of my own self care. Making order out of chaos has always come naturally to me, and this skill has helped me feel sane in a world that often feels out of control. Organization helps me stay focused and strong when I feel broken and my life feels fragmented. 

My career was born out of my desire to help others and share the tools that have helped me navigate even the most difficult transitions. 

So, there it is. Three things that you probably didn’t know about me. I hope that my former therapist was right and that pulling back the curtain a little will help even one of you to feel more connected and less alone. It has for me.

Thanks for reading as always, and for your love and support. 

Xx Shira

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43 comments on “What I’m Afraid to Tell You

  1. Thank you! I believe that sharing your vulnerability helps to empower others by saying ….I’m just like you…I have had struggles and still struggle but I survived and even thrive….This gives us not so instagram visible women the “if she can do it so can I” nudge we need to push toward the life we want or sometimes just get through the day! You are beautiful inside and out!! Thank you for inspiring me

    1. Dear Shira, thank you for sharing this very personal side of yourself, I know it must have been difficult to do so. During the Closet Course when we discussed deciding what to keep, you spoke about clearing out yr dad’s apt after he passed away and how you decided what to keep in yr small home from his many possessions. I felt it was the ‘heart’ of the course because it applied to every other part , and because of today’s post I can see it IS indeed the heart of the course in every way. That work, both physical and emotional, is gave you the focus and strength you use each day to make the world a calmer, happier place for your clients and your family. Thank you for sharing your gifts w us . Marguerite ( @plohni18)

  2. be proud of yourself dearest shira what a gift you are to those you help both your skills and the honest being you are!

    1. Bless your beautiful soul, Shira. Vulnerability is part of our humanity and sharing it is a strength that will empower and help others to do the same. You are a gift. M

  3. It takes incredible vulnerability to pull back the curtain. Thanks so much for sharing. As someone who had a turbulent upbringing and has thrived in, but ultimately, struggled with chaos and the memories it evokes, it makes so much sense why looking at photos of your home and your client projects is so soothing to me. Thanks, Shira.

  4. Thank you for sharing. Makes so much sense that you have been practicing order and organization because it was and is something we can control. It’s harder to learn the older we get but is helping me make sense out of change. Especially right now as I have one son off to college and my second one a senior in high school. Panic and nostalgia feeling set in if I stop focusing on order and decluttering. ‍♀️ But true.

  5. As someone who has known you for a long, long time and observed you, often from afar, I have to say you are a remarkable woman. You are courageous, determined, smart, funny, and uniquely talented. I’m sure your therapist misses the chances to talk with you and peer into your head!!

  6. Thank you for this, Shira. This must have been difficult to share. But look at all the good will it created! I knew you were a beautiful person, inside and out, when you walked in my home (and you made me feel not judged right away!). Now I know why. My home and feelings about it improve every day because of the change you started in my thinking about stuff. Keep inspiring us!

  7. I don’t normally leave comments but I just want to say how much I appreciate your courage to be vulnerable and share. This gives us all permission to do the same and show up real and authentic in our interactions with one another. I greatly appreciate your example to do this-thank you thank you!

  8. I did your closet makeover last winter and absolutely LOVED it (screen name “Mama Jo”)!!! One of the things I liked best about it was how open and humble you were. I never felt like you wanted other people to be organized just for the sake of organization, but because you know how much peace it brings into a home. Love you, Shira!

  9. That is the most honest post I’ve read in a long time. Thank you for that and thank you for the inspiration you give to so many people. You’re doing good work 🙂

  10. Thank you so much for this post. I had to chuckle when you said that organizing is your coping mechanism, because it is the same for me. I grew up in a very small house with a pile of siblings and keeping things neat and organized was my defense against marauding children. I even implemented a Dewey Decimal System for my very own Little Golden Books! To this day, when life gets confusing, I simply start cleaning and tidying up until my mind clears (A good friend of mine who had suffered mental illness as a youngster told me, “When you get lost, do something that you KNOW you can do, even if it is only to sweep the floor.” It is so nice to know that I have a soul sister!

  11. Thank you for sharing and making yourself so vulnerable Shira. It must have been very difficult and is very brave of you.

  12. Thank you for sharing such a personal perspective on home organization. I never thought of organizing as a coping mechanism but realize that is much of the reason why I love to organize my home and the homes of others. Truthfully, the more stressed out I am, the more I want to do nothing but organize! My husband does not relate at all and has many times mentioned that I should just relax. The thought of lounging in a messy chaotic room is one of the most stressful situations I can think of!!!! (arghhhhh!). And quick personal story…my good friend’s 20 year old son (who was a good friend of my son), tragically took his life this Spring. Because they couldn’t emotionally return to their home, they immediately rented a very small house which was about 20 times too small for all their things. And by the way, my friend had a pre-existing problem with clutter . We worked for 8 weeks to purge, declutter, organize and style their new home. I had to be very careful with pushing her to let go of things but we did it and their home is now more functional, organized and lovely than at any other time since I met her. I know that getting control over your things and environment can not only help achieve a lovely home but truly, can help people gain control over their lives, even in the most unimaginably tragic times. Again, thanks for sharing your story and keep doing what you do…what a gift 🙂

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