Tag Archives: organizing

Musings: A Product of Our Parents

Today’s topic is: “Are you more like your mother or your father? Tell us why.” 

My older sister Sarah and I inherited more than just genes from our parents.

Physically, everyone says I look more like our dad, while Sarah looks more like our mother.

Sarah and Mom are alike in other ways too. Mom is very outgoing. She will march right up to a stranger, strike up a conversation, and discover that they both went to the same vacation spot or have eaten at the same restaurant or something random twenty years ago. I occasionally have moments of bravery when I channel my mother and offer to take a photo of a family so everyone can be in the picture, but I’m more comfortable keeping to myself.

My mother told me just this weekend that my dad liked to find treasures at yard sales, a trait I certainly inherited from him. After all, who wouldn’t get excited to find an entire set of BRIO wooden train tracks, bridges, buildings, and cars for only two dollars!? (That’ll be my next five-star reward for the girls… well maybe I’ll make it a ten-star reward.) This weekend, I also found a $70 OXO mandoline slicer for a buck! SCORE!

In some areas of our lives, my sister and I have used our parents as an example of what not to do.

My mom is a wonderful artist and craftsperson, but she has an entire room of unfinished projects. Our stepfather once joked that when Mom is buried, he will buy a second coffin for her unfinished projects. So when I struck out on my own, I decided that I would only have three works-in-progress at a time. That way, I force myself to finish one project before starting another. (Of course, two of my current projects are hand-stitched queen-sized quilts that I haven’t looked at in five years.) But at least when my daughters clear out my house after I pass on, there won’t be an entire room of unfinished projects. (Instead, there will be two unfinished quilts and an entire room of new yarn, waiting to be knit.)

Our father was a bit of a pack rat too. Over the years, he collected antique farm equipment, tools, cars, and motorcycles. A few years ago, when his health started to decline, he moved into a small apartment and most of his old treasures were once again dispersed.

To be fair, my mother has done an amazing job in recent years of paring down her possessions and decluttering her home. My sister and I have already inherited some of the treasures that Mom no longer uses, which is great for us because we get to enjoy them now!

As a result of our folks tendency to collect things, my sister became a simplicitist (I know that isn’t a real word, but saying that she has expertly embraced the concept of simplicity in her life is too much of a mouth-full) and I became a professional organizer. I launched my Boston-based business Organized Offices back in 2005 and helped my clients tackle their clutter, organize their treasures, and use their time more effectively. When I moved to Minnesota in 2011, I had to leave my clients behind because organizing via video conference isn’t nearly as efficient. But in 2014, I decided to rebrand my business to DeCook Organizing and switch my focus from offices to families.

But over the coming years, I’ll have to be careful that my love of yard sale bargains doesn’t turn into the burden of clutter in our small house. After all, it’s part of my genes.

~ Phoebe DeCook

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