Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Question that Crushes

Tomorrow marks 5 years since my mom took her last breath after a 17 month battle with cancer.

I am pretty open to talk about it, but there is one spirit-crushing question that many people ask that puts me on the defense, and makes my heart sink a little deeper into my stomach.

I wanted to write this blog post to caution others who might think to ask this question.   I am hoping that - by reading this - you may have a heart softened toward someone who has lost a loved one to this particular kind of cancer.  I hope to heighten your sensitivity toward a surviving loved one, and how they might feel when asked said question.

So what is the question?

Here is a typical example of how it comes up in conversation:

Person: So where does your family live?
Me: Actually, we're all over the place!  I have a sister in Chicago, brother in Florida, another brother in North Carolina, and my Dad just moved here to Indy.
Person: Wow! And how about your mom?
Me: Oh, my mom is with Jesus.
Person: I'm so sorry.  How did she pass?
Me: She had cancer.
Person: That's terrible.  What kind of cancer?
Me: Lung cancer.
Person: Oh... did she smoke?

And there it is.  "The question."  The person says, "Oh, did she smoke?" but what I hear is, "Oh, did she deserve it?" "Oh, was it preventable?" "Oh, did she bring that upon herself?" "Oh, did she have that coming?"

I understand that for many, that is far from what the question was intended to mean.  However, I think anyone who has lost someone to lung cancer would agree, it is not a fair question.  And honestly, does it really matter?

My mother's family was riddled with cancer.  My grandmother had brain cancer, grandfather had stomach cancer, aunt had colon cancer.... I honestly believe that had it not been lung cancer, a different form of cancer could have taken her life just the same.

So friends, I just wanted to make a quick post about this.  I hope that when confronted with this situation, instead of asking for details, you offer comfort and your sympathies to the one who lost someone they dearly loved to a horrible, ugly disease.

Thank you for reading to the end and tolerating my little vent session. ;)  Please share if you think this would help bring awareness to someone who may not realize the impact of this question.

Much love to all!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Organizing... Your Home Pharmacy

This medicine cabinet got a facelift for $10... all purchases were made from the Dollar Tree!

The "home pharmacy" or "medicine cabinet" is neglected in many homes.  Often times, it becomes a stockpile of pills, bandages, ointments, and more.  Allergies acting up?  First let me dig through this cabinet of vitamins, pain killers, and sunscreen to find what I need.  Or how about when you get a paper cut and the only bandage you can get a hold of can cover the whole surface area of your hand?

More importantly, when someone is truly injured or in pain, there shouldn't be any time wasted on finding what is needed.  This is why it is important to maintain your medicine cabinet.

How should a medicine cabinet be "organized?"  First things first.  Wherever you choose to store your medications, make sure it is in a temperature-controlled, dry space.  The kitchen, laundry room, or bathroom are popular choices.  Second, you want to make sure it is out of reach of pets and children.  For example, the picture shown above was located in a bottom drawer of the laundry room.  This worked great for the couple... until their grandchildren came to visit.  In this particular instance, we chose to move the medicine cabinet from the bottom drawer to some upper cabinets.  Not only was this safer for the grandbabies, it was easier on my clients because they no longer had to bend over to get what they needed!

Moving right along... using the ESCAPE method, first Empty out your medicine cabinet.  Next, Sort all the medications.  This is when you sort what you will keep and what you will dispose of.  Begin by checking the expiration date.  I get a lot of push back for this, but you know how the saying goes... better to be safe than sorry!  Also, many medications lose their potency over time.  If you view the expiration date as a mere "suggestion," your headache/backache/pain won't go away if your medicine doesn't work!  You'll also want to get rid of anything you no longer use. Be sure to contact your local pharmacy to determine the safest way to dispose of unused, unwanted medications.  Next, Categorize your medications.  I tend to separate by use - for example, pain killers, stomach meds, cold/allergy, prescription, vitamins, etc.  This is a great time to make a list of anything you need, or will want to have on hand.  I always restock my bandages, anti-itch ointment, and benedryl before summer hits. After you've sorted and categorized, it's time to Purchase and/or Put back.  In the example above, we purchased items from the dollar tree.  Many people tend to use the plastic shoe box sized containers.  Risers are another great choice.  You don't have to break the bank on this one.
TIP: Choosing a container without a lid makes for easy access, and increases the chance that items will be put away.  Placing a few labels using a simple label maker will finish things off.  Finally, Enjoy!  It is amazing to see the time you'll save by making sure things have a place, and that they are in their place.

Happy Organizing, friends!  

Friday, January 15, 2016

Organizing... Your Kitchen Countertops

Kitchen Countertops.  

Is it just me, or does every horizontal flat space beg to be covered? It cries out, "Fill me!! Fill me!! Look at all this glorious room for STUFF! Like that toy you just took away from your kid... yea, bring that over here.  That hammer you just used to hang that picture? Give it to me! All that mail/school papers/bills to be paid/coupons... right here, baby!  Oh, and how about those appliances that might get used once a month.... I love a good quesadilla maker in my life! That purse? Right here, please! Keys, coffee mug, laptop..."

Can you relate?

This week's FREE TIP FRIDAY, brought to you by H.O.M.E w/ Sarah, is all about ridding your kitchen counters of clutter.  Here are 5 tips to clearing off that counter space and keeping it that way:

1. Give Items a Home
Everything that enters your home must have a home! No nomads here.  Wanderers not welcome!  One rule of thumb I tell all my clients is "store it where you use it."  Also, try and create 'zones' in your kitchen.  Food prep, bill command center, etc.  Your spices and knives should be in the food prep area. Have some kind of paper sorter/stackable paper trays to sort your mail/bills. Be sure to relocate things in your home if necessary.  Once you have established this, the rest will fall into place! 

2. Change your Mindset
It is easy to think of your kitchen as a central area of the home.  In fact, it may literally be at the center of your home.  This makes it an easy pass-through and very convenient to place items you'll get to later.  So first things first... get rid of the 'counter is convenient' mentality.  Deal with tasks as they occur.  Now that you've given a home to everything, this should be relatively painless! 

3. Out of Sight 
Store away items that are only used for merely minutes in the day. Take a toaster, for example.  You might make toast in the morning, and not use it again until the next day.  That means it is taking up valuable counter space for 23 hours and 55 minutes every day while it's not even being used!  Storing this appliance in a cabinet (mine is in my pantry) is a far better option.  It only takes seconds to bring it out and put it away.  One other example would be cooking utensils.  Mine are stored in a container in the cabinet with my pots and pans next to the stove, not on my countertop. Address each item on your counter and see if it fits this bill. You may need to rearrange some things to make space, but it will be well worth the initial time investment. 

4. Two-Minute Tasks
When you have a lull in the day, or at the end of each day, try to complete these 'two-minute tasks' to keep your counters cared for and clutter-free.  Loading the dishwasher, putting clean dishes away, sorting through mail (see blog post Organizing... Your Mail), wiping the counters down, etc.  These are tasks that appear overwhelming, but in reality can be tackled in merely minutes.  Don't underestimate the power of completing a task, no matter how small! This sense of accomplishment is quite motivating.

5.  Get Everyone On Board
Unless you're single and/or living alone, there are likely multiple people using countertops as a dumping ground.  Once new homes are found for things, be sure to share with family members where those homes are.  Set the expectation that if you take it out, you put it back.  Be an example for everyone in your family.  This may take some time (as most routines do) but again, consistency is key.  They'll catch on!

And there you have it!  Be sure to visit www.homewithsarah.net for more organizing tips under Portfolio: Sarah's Snapshots & Tips.

Happy Organizing!