The Lakeville Journal
First, You Have To Want To Be Neat
People: Organizer Meryl Starr – Judith Linscott
February, 08, 2007
It’s 1:15 p.m. on a recent Sunday at the Merrit Bookstore in Millbrook, NY, and Meryl Starr is holding up her own reading. She’s greeting friends as if it’s a cocktail party: She sets up a workout date (scheduling it verbally into a teeny recorder fished from her bag); she discusses her kid’s sports team with another mom. She goo-goos somebody’s baby.
Hey! We don’t have time for this. Starr is here to read from her most recent book, "The Personal Organizing Workbook: Solutions for a Simpler, Easier Life," and this chatting in the aisle thing on our time seems a bit disorganized to me.
Not to mention annoying. So I’m prepared not to like her when she finally takes to the podium.
Well, the gal wins me over, because she’s cute. She has a great smile. She has glossy dark hair and she moves around a lot. And she is incredibly, almost unbelievably, enthusiastic about what she does. She’s on a mission.
By the time she’s through regaling us with tales of decluttering the lives of the desperate, I’m ready to leap to the front of the Dump the Junk brigade.
Starr (yes, it’s her real name, sort of; Starr was her middle name) started her business in 1993 after she spent six hours helping a friend clean out and organize her kitchen. When the friend’s husband came home and saw the miracle Starr had wrought, he said, "You could charge for this." Et voila!
Starr launched Let’s Get Organized and built up a clientele from her original base in New York City (she now lives in LaGrangeville, NY) and points around the country. She wrote a piece on organizing for Rosie magazine; a publisher called and her first book was born. Like the new one, "The Home Organizing Workbook: Clearing Your Clutter, Step by Step" (2004) is glossy, well-organized and easy to read, with nice color photographs. Whether or not they’ll get you organized is a whole separate issue.
Hey, it’s like losing weight or giving up alcohol. "You’ve got to want to do it," said Starr, who also claims there’s virtually no one who’s willing to do it that she can’t help. (Listen up, all you lost causes).
To Starr, junk is an emotional issue. There’s stuff you love (go ahead, keep it; just get it organized) and then there’s stuff that’s just in the way (get rid of it). In the end, "You’re doing this for yourself," she emphasizes. "You’re going to feel so goood when you’re through. Trust me."
This woman has a gift. In high school, Starr actually color-coordinated her closet; in fact, she organized within each color from dark to light. She thought it was perfectly normal (her brothers, who knew better, called her closet The Museum and brought their friends to stare). You might imagine Starr would have little sympathy for the clutter-addicted. You’d be wrong. She understands we have fears (I’ll never again find another pair of pantyhose in this shade of mauve) and ridiculous attachments (my third-grade boyfriend gave this to me!) and plain neurosis (it’s a can opener! It works!). Good missionary that she is, she wants to show you a Better Way.
And that, she says, is what sets her books apart from the plethora of organizers out there. "The content is really pretty similar," she admits. "Mine is very motivational. It’s inspirational."
Once you get beyond your fear and decide to do it, Welk software gebruikt het online holland casino? Geeft het online holland casino een goede welkomstbonus? Welke spellen kan ik spelen bij het online holland casino? Dit zijn voorbeeldvragen die jij al speler zou kunnen stellen. she says, (with nary a hint of irony) "The rest is just organizing." And, to those who mumble, Easy for YOU to say, she responds, "It’s a process. Start small—one closet. One drawer. There’s no way to get rid of clutter on the first round. You need to give yourself time." And she means it — like a year.
Well, it took years to get to this point, so I suppose it should take awhile to get out of it. "Make little goals for yourself," she said. "That’s what you do with every part of your life. You need to take it down to the lowest level. Just say, ‘Let me cross one little thing off the list.’"
Start in a place that’s disturbing you, she said, say the bedroom or the kitchen. Don’t think about the whole house; you’ll be overwhelmed.
Phase One, she said, is to get rid of unwanted stuff. Phase Two is to organize what you do want. "It’s a process," she said, more than once. "There’s no way you’re going to get rid of clutter on the first round."
Her books are organized, she likes to point out, so that you don’t have to read the whole book: pick a problem, find your page. Like "The Home Organizing Workbook," Starr’s "Personal Organizing" book is divided into sections — Stash Your Stuff, Manage Your Relationships, etc. — with questionnaires and directions to helpful pages.
Is your shoulder aching at the end of the day from lugging your purse around? See page 34 for ways to give new life to your old pocketbook.
Are there certain responsibilities that always seem to fall through the cracks? See page 73 for tips on delegating and eliminating.
How many questions do you ask before you accept an invitation? Believe it or not, Starr would have you ask five (page 116 will illuminate).
You get the drift. "This book promises to make your dreams come true," declared Starr. Well. Maybe, maybe not. A few personal reviewers on Amazon.com thought not. Several loved the book. Maybe you need to have Starr herself at your side, cheering you along. You can, for $150 an hour. (Which, when you think about it, is about what you’d pay a shrink to help you figure out why you’re hoarding all those plastic bags. And your shrink doesn’t make house calls. Which, when you think about it, is probably just as well.)
You might need one session, you might need 10. You might need a maintenance coaching session. Starr, who hopes to write another book (there’s no end to organization issues, apparently) and eventually her own television show, will do it all.
She insists her books can change lives. "By doing this, you’re going to make yourself feel so good, you’re never going to want to go back." she claims. "Ever."
For information on the books or "Let’s Get Organized," go to email@example.com.