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Moving soon, need to pack, and don’t know where to start? Here are some Do-s and Don’ts of Packing

Whether you’re moving cross-town, cross country, or internationally, MOVING IS STRESSFUL.  I’ve moved 8 times in the past 20 years and done all the above.  So here some first-hand tips of DO-S and DON’TS to help with your move in the category of PACKING.

As a Klutter Koach, the first thing I’m suggesting is to DO a DEEP DECLUTTER.  WHY? You will

  • SAVE MONEY because you won’t be paying the movers to shlep items you no longer need, cutting costs for packing materials and labor.
  • SAVE TIME because there will be fewer things to unpack and put away.

With decluttering as a pre-packing goal, DO schedule a thrift store pickup date or drop-off day.  (Note: first check to see which of your local second-hand shops are currently accepting donations).

DO KEEP THINGS THAT SPARK JOY. I suggest using Marie Kondo’s method of  “Does this spark joy?” If you like it and use it then keep it.  Nobody ever said to throw out that ratty old concert t-shirt because you haven’t worn it in a year.  If it gives you fond memories then keep it.

DON’T KEEP THINGS YOU NEVER USE. After months of being home during a global pandemic and economic crisis, you should have a good idea of what you wear/don’t wear/ use/ don’t use / like /don’t like.  If you aren’t already using it, chances are you won’t.  I’m sure there are exceptions to the rule (like any) but the “I might use it someday” moment has arrived.  If you haven’t used it, just because you acquired it doesn’t mean you need to keep it for posterity.

DO START WITH A SMALL AREA.  If you are already overwhelmed, start in a small area like a bathroom, not a garage.  In the bathroom, the decision to chuck old beauty care or hygiene products should be relatively simple. Then separate out what you are currently using with what you aren’t and box up (but not necessarily seal) those items.

DO HAVE COLORED DUCT TAPE OR COLORED STICKERS.  Denote rooms by COLOR-CODING.  For example, all boxes going to the kitchen will be color-coded with a yellow piece of tape or sticker, blue for the master bedroom, green for the living room, etc.   There are some great visuals as well as other packing tips on ONECRAZYHOUSE called Moving Tips to Keep You From Going Insane.

DO TAKE PHOTOS.  Take a picture of both the contents in the box and the outside of the box. This will serve as a reminder as to what’s inside, especially if there will be a long gap between when you pack and when you unpack. For those making an international move or making aliyah, I HIGHLY RECOMMENDED this part of the packing process.

DO CREATE A FILE FOR THE PHOTOS.  After you’ve taken photos, send yourself an email with all the pictures. Next, create a virtual file on your computer and move all the emails into this reference file. The purpose of the photos and the file is to avoid the “Honey, where’s the…???” question post-move.  If you have been following my blog, you know I recommend this same technique for turning over the Pesach kitchen.

DON’T SORT SENTIMENTAL ITEMS. You don’t have the time to reminisce over every item. Now is not the time go head down Memory Lane.  For now, put the items in a box and label the contents.

DO PRACTICE SELF-CARE. Be sure you’re taking time to eat, drink, and BREATHE.

Self-explanatory.  Know your limits.  An injury (G-d forbid) will slow everything down.

DO MAKE AN OPEN FIRST BOX.  These are things you will want to access immediately upon arriving at your new home. These are things like toilet paper (yes..toilet paper is always on the mind these days), trash bags, extension cords.  For a FREE OPEN-FIRST BOX MOVING CHECKLIST PDF contact me and I’ll be happy to send one out to you.

DO OUTSOURCE.  If you find the packing to be too overwhelming or you don’t think you can get it all done on your own, enlist the help of a friend, relative, (a Klutter Koach if you’re in Bet Shemesh) or let the movers finish what you started.  If being home during Corona has taught me any lessons, MENTAL HEALTH is CRUCIAL. Respect your limits and do what you need to do.

May your new home be filled with blessings, good health, and happiness!

Karen

 

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The Aliyah Files #28 How to downsize your book collection

DO YOU LOVE BOOKS? I do, plus I’m a self-proclaimed bookworm.  As much as I love books I don’t own every book I’ve read nor have kept every book I’ve bought. Gasp! Is it sacrilegious to give away books? No, it isn’t. If you’re making aliyah or even just moving across town, this is one category of items you’ll probably want to downsize.

Presents are nice (5)

If you want to / need to CULL YOUR COLLECTION here’s how. I call it the Onion Analogy. It’s a process of paring down one step (layer) at a time. 

www.theklutterkoach.com

THE ONION ANALOGY

  • Think of an onion with multiple layers. The first layer to peel (discard) is the books you don’t like. You couldn’t get into the story, it was boring, you liked it once upon a time but no longer. This is the easiest layer.
  • The second layer is books you read once or twice but don’t have an interest in re-reading them. If you’re needing to downsize because of a move this part of the process can have multiple layers to peel. This can be done over a period of time.  You don’t need to do this in one afternoon.  I recommend not doing this too close to a moving date if you’re moving because you may be overwhelmed and might end up taking more books than you would otherwise.
  • My guideline for the last cut of books is to ask yourself: IF I WERE TO GIVE THIS BOOK AWAY, WOULD I CHECK IT OUT OF THE LIBRARY? If yes, it’s a keeper. If no, pass it on.

So what do you do with the books you don’t want?  Many libraries accept books.  You can donate them to a thrift store, second-hand bookstore, or school.  If your community has a freecycle group you can also post there.

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Don’t worry about not finding reading material in English in Israel.  There are libraries, book swaps, books to borrow from your friends.

In Bet Shemesh, the Benjamin Library has a twice-yearly book sale (which is in two weeks) and there is a great book swap in Maale Adumim with thousands of titles.

You can get books from Book Depository, order online, use a Kindle, or download books from the library.

So before I give you any more ideas for replenishing your book stash, keep to the task at hand of DOWNSIZING what you’ve got so only your favorites make the overseas journey to your new home.

Thanks for reading.

Karen, The Klutter Koach      January 6, 2020

 

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The Aliyah Files #21 The Ultimate in Decluttering Part IV

Let’s compare some THEN AND NOW details of my life.  THEN: Prior to making aliyah my husband and I lived in a small house, had four children (KH), and two cars.  NOW: 9 years later after making aliyah, my husband and I live in a small apartment, have six children (KH), and don’t own a car. THEN: My main income came from teaching Spanish to English speakers and after aliyah, my main income came from teaching English to Hebrew speakers.  NOW:  I am a business owner with a business that focuses on home organizing and moving services.

Those making aliyah in the next few months are taking a long hard look at their belongings deciding what to bring.  As a HOME ORGANIZER AND DECLUTTERING EXPERT, I have a few things to say on the topic.

While some olim move into duplexes or houses, many olim are moving into apartments or smaller living spaces. This new space may be MUCH SMALLER than what you’re used to.  Unless a previous tenant or owner has left closets, you will have to buy them.  You may be lucky to have a machsan (storage room) or you may not.  There most likely will not be an attic, garage, basement, hall closet, coat closet, or space room.  The bottom line, STORAGE SPACE IS LIMITED.

The list below uses bullet marks for categories.  **note**THIS IS  NOT A ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL list but general guidelines.   My insight comes from the categories I encounter when working with clients who have found that even though they “got rid of things” prior to their move, now realize without the storage space they were accustomed to, find themselves in the situation of having “too much stuff”.

  • sentimental items-While sentimental items are irreplaceable, put a limit as to how many to take. Perhaps let each family member have one x-large box and select their favorites. In regards to photos, kids art or projects keep your favorites but you can’t keep everything.  You can photograph items and even upload them to create a keepsake photo book. BUT if a sentimental doesn’t “spark joy” because you have bad memories attached to it, then chuck it.
  • collections-pare them down. One doesn’t need 500 of X.  Also keep in mind it is very dusty here, especially when the windows are open.  The more things you have, the more you things have to dust.
  • clothing -I suggest keeping your current size only.  If you are someone whose weight fluctuates often, then by all means keep a few pieces in sizes up or down but not an entire wardrobe. For kids clothing keep what they currently wear.  If there is a sibling close in age that you are saving clothes for, then ruthlessly save only items that aren’t stained, are in good condition, and more classic pieces that can be mixed and matched. If you plan to save for future, not-yet-conceived children, save ONE BOX of each gender of only clean, unstained items. There are plenty of second-hand establishments, gemachim, and ordering on-line options. Additionally, there are what I call “generous relatives” who will come bearing gifts and more gifts…
  • books-favorites only.  Just because you once bought a book does not mean you need to own it for posterity.  Play this game:  Select a book. If you liked it enough, would you check it out of the library and re-read it? If yes, then keep it.
  • toys-favorites only.  Try to eliminate large, bulky items. Stuffed animals-drastically downsize and keep only favorites, as they are dust magnets.
  • games-if they are currently being played and enjoyed, bring them
  • furniture-In the 9 years we have lived in Israel we brought (and have kept) our dining room table (belonged to my husband’s parents), an antique cabinet with a hutch, and an antique piece called a ‘dry sink’. What we brought and eventually replaced with smaller, more streamlined Israeli versions: beds.  Beds, couches, dressers, and other furniture from chutz l’aretz (outside of Israel) are bulky, and take up a lot of floor space plus often don’t provide additional storage.  I recommend buying new or second-hand smaller, more streamlined Israeli furniture that better fits the space.
  • electronics and appliances-with the exception of a computer or laptop (if you can convert the current) I would not bring anything else and buy here.  Some places give olim discounts when you buy a lot of merchandise.  Here is a GREAT OPPORTUNITY to ditch that box of random cords that have been stored for the posterity and “just in case”.
  • warehouse club items.  I go against the common advice of “stocking up”.  If there is some medical item you must have then that falls into a different category, but it is totally unnecessary to buy disposable items in bulk. I have clients who still have plastic utensils many years after having moved. See The Aliyah Files #17 https://theklutterkoach.com/2018/07/18/the-olim-files-17-ditch-the-warehouse-club-mentality/
Karen, The Klutter Koach
May 21, 2019
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The Aliyah Files #7: To Bring or Not to Bring, That is the Question

Apologies to William Shakespeare on the slight adaption of his famed quote.  To bring, or not to bring (belongings on aliyah) is the next big question after deciding where to live and when to move.

This question repeats itself over and over on Yahoo and Facebook groups with everyone putting in their two-cents worth.  As a home organizer and moving strategist, I have a few things to contribute to the topic. My advice isn’t a “one size fits all” formula but for some general guidelines as someone who assists clients all the time with these questions. The less you bring on aliyah the easier it will be to transition to Israeli living spaces which are often smaller than what you may be used to.

Furniture

bookcases: bring. You can also have a handyman put up wall shelving.

beds: sell, with the possible exception of bunk beds.  The American size mattresses take up a lot of floor space will overwhelm and clutter a room.  We brought our beds and this was the biggest mistake we made.  The first place we moved to was a semi-detached house with large rooms.  We had no problem fitting in our American furniture. However, after that, we were living in standard size Israeli apartments which were much smaller and little by little sold off the beds replacing them with smaller and narrower Israeli ones.

dressers: sell.  We sold five dressers.  There was one tall, narrow one that may have worked out, but floor space is at a premium.  The key is to utilize vertical space versus horizontal space and dressers take up a lot of floor space.

sentimental pieces:  Make your own decision. We kept an antique buffet with hutch and antique dry sink.  We also brought an heirloom dining room table.

couches: sell.  You can find used couches.  There are constantly people selling or giving away.  Also not too expensive to buy new.

Appliances

I advise to sell them.  Aside from the difference in electric current, they may not fit into the Israeli space.

Small electrical appliances: sell.  The motors will burn out eventually even when using a transformer. There is some debate about whether to bring your favorites but I personally didn’t bring any.

Computers.  Bring.  Most convert to 220v.  It is a matter of getting a new plug or using a transformer.

Books

Bring your books, but weed out anything you haven’t read in a while or isn’t a favorite.  Pare down the collection in phases over a period of months.  After each phase, remove more books until you are left with your favorites.  Some communities host book swaps or have libraries where you can buy books for as little as 5 NIS.

Games and toys

Keep favorites only.  If you say “That’s a great game to play on Shabbos”, my question is “Are you currently playing it on Shabbos?” If you aren’t, pass it on. Same advice for puzzles.

Stuffed animals: keep a favorite or two and part with the rest. They are dust magnets.

Clothing

Keep only what you like and currently wear.  Prior to moving is the time to weed out the wardrobe.

Children’s clothing/hand me downs.  This category usually causes disagreement.  I say keep only current sizes and possibly one size up.  The logistics of storage are crucial here.  There is no basement.  No garage. No attic. No large walk-in closet.  You have an aron (free standing closet) and hopefully a machsan (storage room). The machsan varies in size but may be no larger than 2×3 or 2×4 meters. Some may be larger, but space is limited.  Children have their own preferences and siblings aren’t always the same season or build as each other.  It would be a pity to pay shipping costs for items that you’ll never need.  If you plan to bring hand-me-downs, perhaps save only Shabbos clothing or pajamas, not an entire wardrobe.

A final word

Prior to making aliyah is the best time to declutter.  If something doesn’t “spark joy” or you’ve kept something because you “may need it someday”, now it the time to pass it on.  I had previously written a blog post called “The Ultimate in Decluttering” with successive part 2 and part 3 where I share our aliyah process of paring down.  I talk about what we got rid of originally and how we continued to let go of our belonging over the next six years.

The Ultimate in Decluttering

The Ultimate in Decluttering Part II

The Ultimate in Decluttering Part III -6 Years Later

For those readers who want advice or someone to guide them thought the decision-making process (which may be helpful for shalom bayis when disagreements arise over specific items) CONTACT ME.

Thanks for reading.

Karen, The Klutter Koach

 

My Journey to Alternative Health part 2

My journey to alternative health began in 1997 when I went to an iridologist who told me I had candida and sequentially put me on dietary modifications and herbs. Prior to the appointment, I didn’t know what an iridologist was, never heard of candida, and never had experience with healing herbs. The experience was life-changing and brought me to a healthier state. I went from feeling awful to feeling great. You can read about that experience here.

Since this experience, I have dabbled in complementary and alternative therapies including chiropractic, massage, and acupuncture. In the fall of 2020, I came to the conclusion that 2020 (and years leading up to that) had added a few too many kilograms/pounds to my body and with the agreement of my doctor, I was “slightly overweight” and it would be beneficial to lose a few. Whether the blame was too many corona calories, lack of exercise, too much chocolate, eating the kids’ leftovers, “middle age spread”, other, a combination, action needed to be taken.

The first thing I did was hire a personal trainer. Since, in-person wasn’t an option, she brilliantly came up with a series of exercises demonstrated with a GIF on WhatsApp. With practically zero core strength, it was sooo hard, but I saw progress in building strength. Weight didn’t change.

Next, I had a session with a health coach. We made a dietary plan. I changed some bad habits including emotional eating. Weight didn’t change.

I went to an alternative practitioner who told me to avoid wheat and yogurt. I noticed some internal changes. Weight didn’t change.

I spoke to a good friend who is on her own health journey who has transformed her body. She said that it’s not all about the weight; it’s the lifestyle changes, good habits, and non-scale victories.

Fast forward to June 2021. I was feeling EXHAUSTED. I wasn’t sleeping well. Granted 2020/2021 have been a challenge physically, mentally, emotionally. A few months prior my bloodwork said I was anemic. I took iron. The next reading I was just over the line of the range to be classified by the medical establishment as non-anemic, but if the range is between 100-800, being 110 doesn’t seem very impressive and not much different from being 90. (Guestimating the actual number). All other bloodwork was “in range”.

A friend suggested an alternative practitioner who is reasonably priced and helped both her and her son. An appointment was made. I don’t know her exact specialty, but as I describe it, I held this thing that was attached to a machine that was attached to a computer. She asked what my main complaint was. Exhaustion, I said.

She said “You are justified for feeling that way. You’re anemic, your thyroid is low, your sugars are high, you have fatty liver, and deficient in vitamins K, E, D3, and B6.”

Well, isn’t it nice to be validated?

She wrote up a food plan, times I should eat, and supplements. I am apparently highly sensitive to gluten, dairy, soy, and peanuts. For the time being, my meal plan is most similar to paleo for those who need a name, but everything is specific to me.

Until I have a follow-up appointment, I must avoid gluten, dairy, soy, peanuts, beans, rice, corn, white potatoes, nosh, chocolate, sugar, other sweet stuff like honey, dried fruits, and sweet drinks. I can eat tuna, eggs, chicken, vegetables, fresh fruit, olives, tahina, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, and coconut products. That’s it.

I should have meals at 9 am, 1 pm, snack at 4, and dinner at 7. My supplements include liquid chlorophyll, Floradix (liquid iron), vitamin D, a thyroid support supplement, magnesium, and lecithin.

I have always believed I was sensitive to gluten. My research indicates I have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, which correlates with my anemia and vitamin deficiencies.

What’s interesting is that when I told her I had Corona, is that she is seeing thyroid problems in post-corona clients. I never had thyroid issues, regardless of the fact my mom and one daughter has underactive thyroid.

Since implementing these recommendations, I have lost 6 pounds, my energy is coming back so that I don’t feel like I need to sleep after the least amount of activity, my nasal passages are clearer, and I’m getting lots of compliments on my skin. I didn’t have problematic skin, but I’m apparently I’m now “glowing”.

An interesting observation is I can look at a picture or chocolate or some other sweet treat and don’t have a craving to want some. I don’t feel the diet is restrictive, as there is plenty of variety. If I want ideas for something to eat, I go online.

If you feel something is not right with your body, keep pursuing until you get answers. If you have never used complementary medicine, I suggest checking into it. Both in 1997 and now, the answers and solutions were not found in a doctors office and food is what has been my best medicine for healing.

That’s the update. I’m looking forward to my follow-up appointment and how things will continue to evolve.

The Aliyah Files #36 Money and end of year school expenses

The Aliyah Files #36 Money and end of year school expenses

The school year is coming to a close. As the final weeks are being counted down, another thing I’m counting the amount of money flying out of my wallet and wishing the money tree would sprout more bills. Here are some unexpected expenses to expect:

field trips (tiyulim)- some are included in the annual fee, some not

Snacks- whether or not your trip was paid for in the annual fee, a cultural norm is to send nosh for the trip. As if a sandwich or piece of fruit isn’t sufficient, chips, nosh, and candy are expected (at least by the students). Regardless of the exciting places my kids are destined to visit, the snacks are what is the topic of discussion.

Picnics/pizza parties/ barbeques- All these end of year food-related activities come with a price. Whether it’s 5 or 10 shekel, it’s adds up quickly when you have many kids and they have many parties each.

Gifts- Often you are asked to contribute money for appreciation gifts for teachers and staff.

Book fees- Many schools have used book programs. While you ultimately save money by buying used, you pay for the books now for next year at the end of the school year.

Lost book fees- In addition to paying for next year’s books, if any books were lost or damaged from the current year, you have those fees.

School camp-The school year ends and then there is ‘school camp’ for a few weeks. While the cost is nominal compared to other camp experiences, there is still money to be forked out.

If there are any other expenses I have omitted, either because I don’t have them, or I was out back watering my money tree, and I’ll edit for next time.

Karen

The Aliyah Files #35 To bring or not to bring kitchenware

Whether making aliyah or moving house, the volume of kitchenware is something to consider before shlepping all your things from one home to another. In many dwellings, storage space is inadequate. In others, while adequate storage, the kitchen design has me shaking my head wondering “What in the world was the designer thinking?” making it challenging to access and use what you did bring. IMHO, here are some things to consider:

Coffee mugs and reusable bottles- I can fathom to guess you have your favorites. Keep them. The excess is clutter. Get rid of it.

Breakables-the chances of breakage a high, even when handling with utmost care. The counter tops of granite or other hard material spell disaster for glass and ceramic items. The number of ‘fatalities’ aka broken drinking glasses we had in our first year of aliyah fell into the category of ‘too many to count’.
Just keep this in mind when deciding what to bring.

Paper goods, plasticware, and baggies-DO NOT STOCKPILE THESE ITEMS. DO NOT GO WAREHOUSE CLUB SHOPPING PRIOR TO ALIYAH. Many advise to do so, I am staunch against it. You can buy them here. READ ALIYAH FILES #17 Ditch the Warehouse Club Mentality.

Storage containers-The joke is that the missing lids and your unmatched socks have run off together. If there are containers without lids, or lids without containers, chuck them. Also, consider keeping only the ones that nest together, as it will save space.

Multiples-For example, take note of how many spatulas you have. How many do you have? How many do you realistically use? Just because you bought a package of three, doesn’t mean you need to keep all.

Gadgets-Do you really need the egg slicer, strawberry huller, apple corer? Maybe yes, maybe no. I can’t answer that for you. If you don’t use it or use it so rarely, you can probably live without it.

Small electrical appliances-IF and only IF you have a transformer IN THE KITCHEN and the storage space then and only then consider brings your Cuisinart or other loved appliance. I’ve worked with so many people who brought their foreign voltage appliances to eventually put them curbside. I personally did not bring anything with cords.

You can always err on the side of “might need it” and bring it, but since you are paying to shelp, is it worth the cost of “might”? Only you can decide.

That’s my two cents on what to bring for kitchenware.

If you found this article helpful, there are 34 other Aliyah Files to catch up on.

-Karen

The Aliyah Files #34 What To Bring on Aliyah: The categories of Might and Maybe

Might and Maybe are dangerous words to use in moving. Items given this designation fall into the blackhole of possibilities and good intentions. Putting it bluntly, most of these possibilities will NEVER happen.

Think back to March 2020 when the world was on lockdown. Think of all the possibilities where ‘might’ and ‘maybe’ came into play: ‘I might learn to play guitar, maybe I’ll learn a foreign language, I might read all the books on my bookcase’. REALITY CHECK-survival mode and Netflix. I can fathom to guess, the guitar lessons and foreign language went by the wayside.

Also remember during this times the games, books, crafts, cookbooks that had lain unused for many moons may have gotten some usage. Or maybe they didn’t….


As I say, if you didn’t use what you had during a global pandemic, chances are that keeping it for ‘someday’ probably ain’t gonna happen. REALITY CHECK: You aren’t going to use it. Pass it on. Don’t bring it. To reiterate from other posts I have written, STORAGE SPACE IS LIMITED. You will probably have a challenging enough time fitting items you do love and use.

If you are already utilizing and enjoying something, keep it. Bring it. Continue to enjoy it. That cookbook with the recipe your might try, you won’t. Save space, find a recipe on-line and say goodbye to the cookbook.

Need a little virtual hand-holding in this process? Zoom appointments are available to make the initial process less daunting, and as always, questions welcome.

You can do this! In the end, it’s all just STUFF.

The Aliyah Files #33 To Bring or Not to Bring Your Furniture

As I write this, I’m sitting in my 3-bedroom (4 room) Israeli apartment. Looking around my home, I’m taking note of what remains from our move nearly 11 years ago.
1. dining room table

2. antique dry sink

3. vintage (possibly antique) buffet with a hutch

4. wicker foldable screen

5. free-standing coat rack

That’s it. Yup. Nothing else. Prior to moving we sold/gave away our bookcases, couches, Lazyboy recliners, an antique armoire, and dressers. We brought all the beds, and little by little replaced them with the more narrow and practical Israeli counterparts.

Furniture from the USA is bulky and heavy. If you move into a house, it may fit, but if you’re trading a house for an apartment, you’ll be unpleasantly surprised how furniture can overwhelm and take up tons of floor space.

For the inquiring minds, other non-furniture items still in our possession since making aliyah:

Wall art and framed photos, of which only 25% got hung. We are allowed to hang things in our apartment, but I don’t have the proper drill for cement walls covered in drywall.

Photo albums

Special tchatckes/collections like our Lladro figurines

Favorite books

Towels, bedding, blankets

Special toys like Legos and wood blocks

Special memorabilia

Our China (we use real dishes during the week and China on Shabbos). Note-we’ve lost a handful of pieces since we moved and no longer have a complete set

Silverware, Shabbos items like kiddish cups, candle sticks, challah board, etc.

Favorite tote bags and backpacks

large plastic drawers and large plastic storage containers

plastic stackable storage shelves (from Home Depot)

Winter coats for myself and my husband (all kids things have been outgrown). They are LL Bean are phenomenal quality… and yes, it gets cold in winter.

high-quality water bottles

pots and pans, but only the ones in good condition

folding chairs, set of six but kept in storage. We use the stackable plastic Keter ones instead.

Besides a few other odds and ends, that’s it. Everything else we bought here if we needed it.

There is no “one size fits all” formula on what to take, but as a general rule of thumb, less is more. In regards to furniture, if something is scaled small enough and sentimental, bring it. Your big sectional couch, say goodbye.

Questions? Need a neutral party for advice? Contact me. Don’t stress too much….it’s just “stuff”.

Just Be, a poem

Be brave

Be bold

Be yourself

Speak up for truth and justice

Have integrity

Be kind

Be thoughtful

Be honest

Have no fear

Stand up for what you believe in

March to the beat of your own drum

Be confident

Be positive

Add your own music to this technicolor canvas called life

Just Be

April 16, 2021-one month before birthday #50

A Bag of Hand-Me-Down Clothing Has Arrived-Now What?


Hand-me-downs are great.  You can save lots of money and avoid having to shop. A wonderful opportunity of free clothing has presented itself, but I suggest to act immediately and sort/select which items you want to keep. If you delay, the bags tend to pile up, causing overwhelm. Additionally, the items you don’t want become clutter.

Be HONEST with yourself and keep only what fits and what you/the children like. Even if you select only a few “goodies” then you have increased the wardrobe choices. You have no obligation to keep everything or anything.

The next question to ask yourself is how and where are you going to keep everything. If children’s clothing, I suggest keeping only the current size and season. If you choose to keep more, I wouldn’t go one year past the current size. I personally have only two boxes of stored kids clothes. Even with this little and labelling the contents, I still tend to forget what I have.

I have many clients who are concerned about finances and want to keep things “just in case”. I can appreciate this, but if dealing with so much volume becomes overwhelming because of lack of storage space or no retrieval system, it’s not worth the stress of managing the clothes.

Need proverbial hand-holding? We can do this together either in person or virtually. Hand-me-down clothing is great, as long as you have a way to manage it.

Have an organizing question? Contact me.

-Karen, The Klutter Koach

3 must-use cleaning tools that you probably already own

Shmutz and grime ends up everywhere. If you have the right cleaning tools, then cleaning becomes easy and not such a bothersome chore. You probably already own them and if not, you can spend only a few dollars and you’re good to go. What are these amazing items?

  1. toothpicks
  2. q-tips
  3. an old toothbrush

That’s it! Use them for scrubbing, swiping, and picking hard to reach areas. For example, scrub the area around and behind the sink taps with the toothbrush. Scrape between keys on your keyboard with a toothpick. Clean the grooves of the top of a reusable water bottle with a q-tip.

Some choose spring cleaning as a yearly time for more detailed cleaning, so think past the snow (if it’s pertinent) and think Spring and think Clean.

28 things to easily declutter from your home

There are 28 days in February, at least this year. Take one category per day and you will be on a good path of your decluttering journey. No, you don’t need to go in order. No, you don’t have to do everything on the list. There are no “rules” here, just suggestions.

KITCHEN
unmatched storage containers/lids
expired food
kitchen gadgets/appliances you never use
anything broken or chipped
unidentified items in the freezer
cookbooks you don’t use
extra coffee mugs/bottles/glasses

BEDROOM
clothes that don’t make you feel fabulous
stained or torn items
the items in and on the nightstand
dingy or very old sheets or linens
books and magazinesde
clutter the “chair” where things pile up
the top shelf/back of closet where things have often been forgotten

FAMILY AREAS
booksknickknacks/tchotkes
toys
craft supplies
office supplies
old media/outdated technology
old projects/school papers

MISCELLANEOUS
extra benchers geniza/shaimos
scarves/head coverings
magnet
sold invitations
old calendars/candle lighting charts
old school class lists/community directories 
So now you have a bag/box or two of giveaways.  Now what? There are various places to route it.  Check with your local second-hand establishment to see if they are accepting items.  If they aren’t yet because of Covid, G-d willing they soon will.

Firstly, anything broken or damaged is trash.  It you have a clothing recycling receptacle, put it there. 
Shaimos/geniza also has a place.  
Paper items-recycle
Toys/books/games/craft supplies-schools , friends, neighbors
Clothing in good condition-2nd hand shops/post on local social media, community email, or WhatsApp groups.
Kitchenware-donate to someone getting married or post in the places mentioned for clothing

When I declutter/downsize with clients, I take the giveaways with me and manage to “rehome” almost everything.

AVOID THE PRE-PESACH RUSH and start your spring cleaning/decluttering ASAP.  As an FYI, many gemachim and second-hand places stop accepting giveaways a week or two prior to Pesach.  So if you don’t want to be stuck with your giveaways, act sooner than later!

I’m always happy to answer questions about organizing and decluttering, so shoot me a message.

Karen

Dealing with Friday Morning Pre-Shabbos Overwhelm

I am writing this to give myself my own advice. If you, dear reader, can benefit from this advice also, then I am glad to be of assistance. IT’S FRIDAY MORNING. The dishes are piled, the remnants of yesterday’s children’s messes are still scattered, the bathroom needs a good wipe down. The dining room table, which serves as my “office” is also a dumping ground for everyone’s stuff. Happy Friday! NOOOOO-not yet. How will I deal with this pre-Shabbos morning overwhelm without losing my mind? Here’s how.

First, I put on some upbeat music. Spotify or YouTube cranks out a playlist. Pick a favorite song or genre to match the mood and music helps get me moving. If I’m not feeling “lazy” I’ll turn on my aromatherapy diffuser with some calming scents. Today I am listening to Abba (the 70s Swedish rock band) and diffusing eucalyptus and lavender.

I start with dishes. First the meat side and then the dairy. I wash and dry in rounds: silverware and bowls. Then plates. Next cookware. Finally storage containers. During the process I drink water, sometimes with lemon when I remember “it’s good for you” and I’m “supposed to”. Breakfast lately has been delayed. I wouldn’t per se call it “intermittent fasting”, just a delaying of breakfast until I know I’m hungry, not just eating out of habit.

By now, the younger kids aged 6 and 9 are awake. One of the duo is super-cleaner and will clean up, which will shortly be undone after the process is finished. It’s a cycle, which will be repeated for the next many years. Play, mess, clean up repeat. We will power clean-up as Shabbos comes closer. For the most part, I don’t need to deal with this for a few hours. I have to put on my “mess blinders”.

With excavated kitchen counters and dish drainers cleared, I’ll move on to the bathroom. I avoid the dining room table for now. Quite honestly, it overwhelms me. To clarify: MY OWN table is overwhelming me. I love tackling everyone else’s. Unfortunately, I can’t outsource myself unless I roleplay I am someone else and look at it all objectively, so we’ll get to the table soon.

We have one full bath and one half-bath. I clean the counter, toilet, and tub. With the exception of the tub, I do the other surfaces daily. The floor will wait until later. The less surface clutter there is, the quicker and easier this task.

Now a break for breakfast. If I watch an episode of How Clean is Your House? This British reality tv show (no longer running) has a team of two ladies and a cleaning crew that helps people whose homes are in such horrendous condition return to a state of order and cleanliness. No other motivation is needed to deal with the table after watching.

You may wonder about cooking. I have a spouse who enjoys cooking, so this falls under his jurisdiction. While I might prepare a side dish or two, my Friday role is the household management-dishes, cleaning, and kids.

For those who are the one and only CEO of the domain, then it takes more planning to spread out the tasks prior to Friday.

If I had before and after photos, I would gladly give the show and tell of this routine, but for now, that’s another project for another day.

Wishing everyone a healthy and peaceful Shabbos.

Karen

How Clean is Your Home? A list of surfaces to sanitize

Whether you did/didn’t have Corona, are/aren’t getting vaccinated, it’s important to pay heed to how clean your home is to kill germs. I was recently introduced to a British reality show (no longer running) called How Clean is Your House? Watch the show on YouTube, even for a few minutes and you’ll be donning rubber gloves and running for the disinfectant cleaner. In this time of heightened time of cleanliness, here’s a quick list of some surfaces to be mindful of.

Granted, most of our homes aren’t in that condition of disarray seen in the show, but you really get thinking that your frequently touched surfaces need a good wipe down.


If you have s a lot of clutter, you know I have a few things to say about that topic. Clutter will hinder your cleaning. Declutter. Declutter. Declutter. Enough said.

So presuming you’ve got the clutter under control, I’ll move on to some frequently touched surfaces you may consider giving a good wipe down. I’m not going to mention every possible surface in your home, but ones you might not think about regularly and get lots of traffic from multiple fingers.

I’m not telling you how to clean it or what product to use, so here are some places to wipe down:

KITCHEN

refrigerator and freezer handles or grooves where you put fingers, refrigerator drawers

cabinet and drawer handles, cabinet doors

the handle you use to open your oven

keypads to the microwave and other digital appliances

the lever you push down on water dispensers

FREQUENTLY TOUCHED SURFACES

mezuzahs

light switches and switch plates

toilet flush lever

sink handles

door knobs

sides of doors (children who can’t reach the handle touch here often)

lighter guns (for lighting stoves, candles, etc.)

ELECTRONICS

phone / cell phone

chargers

mouse

keyboard

knob for volume on speakers

gaming joysticks

Make a wiping down surfaces part of your daily routine and spend 5-15 minutes each time.

May you and your loved ones stay healthy/be well!

Butterflies, Diamonds, Mindset and Corona

A butterfly flew past me while I was on route running an errand. 🦋 It’s quite unusual to see a butterfly around here, especially one in mid-January. At first I thought it a figment of my imagination and then realized it was real. The butterfly hovered a second in front of me before it fluttered off to its destination before I could give a second glance.

On the way back from the errand, the diamond in my ring light refracted the 💍 and little rainbows danced about. 🌈Also, an usual sight, as I had not purposely held my hand up to make it sparkle. These two events were both happened within an hour of each other. My inquiring mind wondered WHY, as things are never random. What was the meaning in these two occurrences?

Maybe it was a heavenly kiss from above. Hashem sent me something else to focus my attention on besides lockdown-kids home- a hospitalized relative (not Covid)- distressing policy updates to my communication sources – rising numbers of infected persons- political upheaval – nobody knows what the heck is going on- brain feeling like a computer with too many tabs open.

Maybe G-d was telling me to change my focus. Look for the little things. Control what I can and let the rest go, as it’s not good for my physical, spiritual, or mental health. Just like my abdominal muscles that could use some strengthening, so can my positive thoughts. Both take time and practice to start doing habitually.

I’m strong and beautiful like the diamond, yet delicate and rare like the butterfly. Look for the good, as it’s there just as much as the seemingly bad. It’s all a matter of mindset.

“The Becky Box” and Donated Clothing

I’ve always loved the quote “One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure” though I’d replace “trash” with “giveaways”. Good, useable items one person no longer needs can be exactly what someone else is looking for. My involvement with the distribution of second-hand items goes back almost 5 DECADES! Let me tell you a story about “The Becky Box”.

When I was a little girl, whenever an item of clothing was outgrown or no longer needed, we put it in a large moving-sized box in the laundry room affectionately called “The Becky Box”. When the box was full, we loaded the contents in the car to give to Auntie Becky. Auntie Becky, was not a blood relative, but one of my grandma’s best buddies of many years.

Auntie Becky was a volunteer at her synagogue’s Hadassah resale shop. At the time, I didn’t understand the concept of “thrifting” or “second-hand” shopping, but at my young age, I knew the items sold made money and people were happy to have a place to buy inexpensive goods. My grandmothers on the other side of the family were active Hadassah members and I knew it had to do with tzedakah (loosely translated as ‘charity’) and mitzvos (‘good deeds’), so I comprehended that putting things in The Becky Box as a good thing.

The value of giving away / freecycling usable items is strongly ingrained in me because of this experience with “The Becky Box”. In addition to helping others, good, usable items are kept out of the landfill. These two reasons explain why I am so passionate about my “clothing shadchan” initiative, which matches donated clothing with families seeking those sizes, as well as the freecycling aspect of my business, where I take clients’ decluttered or downsized items and find new owners.

It all began with a quote and a box. If you don’t already have a “Becky Box”, consider implementing one in your home. When the box is full, donate it to your local gemach or second-hand establishment. No promises, but I can imagine you’ll get a “warm fuzzy” feeling knowing you’re doing something important with your giveaways.

That’s the story. May each donated item give an aliyah neshama to Rebecca “Becky” Rubenstein Pearlman z”l

Thanks for reading.

Karen, The Klutter Koach

Thoughts on Socializing in 2020

The balagan of 2020 has had me on a rollercoaster of emotions. It’s one thing to be flexible, but when every second is a potential fight-or-flight, its very unsettling It feels safer to be at home, insulated within the coziness of my nest, surrounded by things that “spark joy” and bring comfort. Saturday evening after Shabbos ended, I ventured out of my comfort zone and went to a social event “within Corona guidelines”.

The travel time was one flight of stairs up and the attendees were the eight women who live in my building. For the first time since February, I was socializing on a Saturday night. The occasion was two-fold: to celebrate Yud Tet Kislev, the “Rosh Hashana of Chassidism” and a goodbye party for a neighbor who is moving.

What struck me as interesting was the “reintegration” of being social. The questions running through my mind were: Am I sitting to close? Is it ok to take my mask off? Is asking “How have you been?” a loaded question? In any event, it reminded me of a first date until everyone loosens up a bit.

As we sat around the table learning stories from Tanya, eating, and singing tehilim (psalms), our varied backgrounds never cease to amaze me, as we all are living in the same building. There’s me, a former Chicagoan. The others come from New York, Belgium, France, Morocco, Yemen, and Argentina.

So while 2020 has had its share of isolating experiences, it has also brought both neighbors and community closer together with all the kindnesses and chesed. Though 2020 has wrought havoc in all aspects of being, there has definitely been revealed good. My social night out is a testament to that.

Thanks for reading,
Karen


The Aliyah Files #32: 5 tips for downsizing photos from the pre-digital photo era

In the pre-digital era of photos, you may recall dropping off rolls of film to the nearest photo processing establishment and eagerly anticipated their return, hoping that pictures weren’t blurry or otherwise disappointing. These long-ago prints are now stockpiled in envelopes, bags, drawers, boxes, and albums. If the mere thought downsizing this collection CAUSES ANXIETY, don’t worry, here are some TIPS to assist you with this task.

  1. If you’re beginning to downsize your home DON’T START WITH PHOTOS. Begin with a more neutral category like toiletries or kitchenware. Once you’ve gotten used to paring down a category that carries less emotional attachment than memories, you’ll have strengthened your decision-making skills only then you’re ready for Step #2.
  2. Practice downsizing photos by deleting some digital photos. Once you feel confident about deleting digitally, then move on to the prints.
  3. Throw out photos that are blurry, unflattering, associate bad memories, you dislike them, have too many of the same subject, don’t recall the subject, or doubles. There is no “rule” saying “keep every photo you ever took.”
  4. Label the back of the photos with a photo-safe pencil. Write an approximate ‘what, where, and when’ such as “Karen, circa 1975, Grandma’s house in Milwaukee”. This will help you recall the details of the photo. *Note: For vintage black-and-white photos, write the information on a sticky note or other paper.
  5. Store the photos in a archival photo-safe box. Be consistent in the the brand and size you purchase, as it makes for an organized look. The two link I added are from a highly reputable company called Created Memories, of which I have personally used, but there are other fine products out there for all budgets.

When I was in the process of making aliyah, I used these steps. It was so freeing to get rid of all the excess photos as well as KEEP ONLY WHAT YOU WANT TO REMEMBER. I kept select photos of memorable events, but not every photo that I ever took nor was in.

Little Karen, approximately age 4

These 5 tips are a good first step in tackling your photos. I’m not going to discuss making albums or digitalizing, as these are more time-consuming ventures, and recommended only for those who are motivated to do so. Also, a rule of thumb, in the famous words of Marie Kondo, the world-famous home organizer from Japan, “If it doesn’t spark joy, don’t keep it.”

This is a PROCESS. Do it in short blocks of time. Power sorting isn’t recommended unless you want to, as it can be overwhelming.

Additional note: if you think friends or relatives may be interested in some of the extra photos, put them in pre-labeled photo mailing envelopes for hard-copies, or take a digital photo and send electronically. For the sake of time, don’t focus on redistributing anything, just consolidate and sort what you’ve got and what you are keeping for yourself.

If you need support in your downsizing efforts, feel free to reach out and CONTACT ME. #BeenThereDoneThat

-Karen

Quaranteening: Tips for Quarantine with Teens

My family spent 36 days in quarantine. No, that wasn’t a typo. While not easy for anyone, I think it was most difficult for my teens compared to my younger kids. My teens are 13, 15 and 18 and their younger siblings 5 and 9. I was conversing with someone who said their teen just went into quarantine and asked me if I had any tips. Since my friends have dubbed me a Quarantine Rock Star, here’s what I advised:

  1. Let their friends to drop off treats, sweets, or care packages. My teens got so much joy from knowing their friends were thinking about them. Anything edible is highly valued. One friend delivered a bagel with cream cheese from a popular local eatery, and the recipient of that bagel had a grin a mile wide. One friend brought homemade cookies and another replenished a diminishing stash of chocolate. Other goodies they received were puzzles, craft supplies, and books to borrow.
  2. Allow more time on screens and phones than normally allowed. While it got a little out of control in total daily hours, it did keep them connected to their friends as well as give them time to chillax.
  3. Outdoor time is crucial. If you have a patio, porch or a yard, spend some time outdoors and get some sun and fresh air. Don’t stay cooped up indoors all day. To note, it’s said vitamin D boosts immunity which comes from the sun.
  4. If the teen shares a room, be sure he/she can have “alone time” in their personal space. Consider this point is if the entire family is quarantining together.
  5. Maintain a daily fitness routine. Whether dance, yoga, or other, keep the body moving for all the health benefits exercise provides.

For those inquiring minds as to why we were in quarantine for 36 days, in the most condensed version (which could go on forever in the long version):

We thought our child had a cold, allergies, or strep. We went for a strep test, requested a Corona test, and got denied because the “criteria” weren’t met for testing (no high fever, cough, breathing trouble, or direct exposure to someone positive). The school wouldn’t allow the child back without negative test and until it came to light there had been “an exposure”, only then it became mandatory to do the test and go into quarantine,

When the results came back positive, we were quite honestly surprised. Everyone else got tested and the ones who tested NEGATIVE had an ADDITIONAL 14 DAYS of quarantine AFTER the last person was considered covered (10 days from when the testing occurred, not from the onset of symptoms) resulting in a grand total of 36 days from start to finish.

While our extra-long quarantine was difficult for everyone, I think it was hardest for the teens because they are more independent and want their freedom. Younger kids can play with toys, play in the splash pool, have stories read to them, and will generally think anything to be fun if the parent has a positive attitude and downplays the experience. The teens are in a different stage of life so the more they can stay connected to their peers and the outside world, the better.

May you not need this advice but reference it if you do.

Here are the links to the other posts about my Corona experience

Quaranteening. Tips for Quarantining with Teens

I’m Corona Positive. What they Don’t Tell You and What to Expect: The Story Continues

Post Corona Recovery. How I’m Feeling and What’s Changed

Thanks for reading,

Karen

Body shaming, language shaming, just don’t!

Body shaming has gotten much publicity. It’s hurtful, wrong, and nobody’s business how you look. Today I got shamed by a stranger, not for how I look, but for what I said, or rather for what I didn’t.

For me, acquiring Hebrew has been an uphill struggle. I’ve tried and haven’t given up. After 5000+ correspondences this week of WhatsApp messages and emails, my new best friend is Google Translate. The number of times I had to rely on it indicates there is much room for improvement in my language skills and I’m very aware of my limitations.

Today I was attempting to communicate something with a receptionist using limited vocabulary of a subject matter when an older man in the line, asked how long I’ve been in this country. I reply 10 years and then has the chutzpa to tell me my Hebrew should be better after that duration of time. Often the best response is no response and since I was so stunned from the exchange I had nothing to say except SERIOUSLY??? (said aloud in English) and plenty of things left unsaid.

To note, I had a similar exchange when I had lived in Israel less than a year, so there is something to be observed that the (unrealistic) expectation of native language speakers for new immigrants. As a language teacher of 24 years (Spanish, English, and ESL) I can say with confidence, it takes YEARS to learn a second language. Never-the-less, it still bothers me to the core to be shamed and I should be getting an A+ for effort.

I have a few thoughts over this exchange which reflect themes of this pre-Rosh Hashana time:

  1. Don’t judge. You never know what storms people are walking or have walked through.
  2. Criticism is not helpful. You attract more bees with honey than with vinegar.
  3. Shaming someone is like killing them. The Torah says “embarrassing someone in public is considered a serious crime, akin to killing someone.” If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything.

In regards to my Hebrew, I’ll be the first to acknowledge I would like to be more proficient. Just like body shaming, the individual already knows what needs to be changed; and it takes time, motivation, and patience. A few years ago I wrote The Unbrag Post on Blog Times of Israel how I had managed to complete a weekly school update and how proud I was. One day, I’ll bid farewell Google, but that day hasn’t arrived.

Learning a new language is difficult and takes time. Children generally pick it up faster than adults, especially since they are immersed in it during school hours. Be encouraging, don’t shame. Now I’m going to ‘declutter’ this experience from my thoughts and carry on with preparing for Shabbos. If you are a new Olah or soon to be making aliyah, my words of wisdom are to go to ulpan, find a buddy to speak with, and just do the best you can because there will also be those blessed souls who will tell you you’re doing just fine.

Thanks for reading,

Karen, The Klutter Koach.

My Post-Quarantine Decluttering Frenzy

Today I went on a decluttering frenzy. It felt fantastic to reclaim the space and get a boost of joy at the same time!  After 34 days in quarantine, it was time to raise the standard from survival mode to reclaiming my space.  Here’s a bullet list of what I accomplished:

place of retreat (1)

  • Under the bed.  This week’s FlyLady Zone of the Week is the master bedroom so I started there. I removed everything which had been stashed under the beds.  This included a bag of clothes for the seamstress,  giveaway clothing, a basket full of papers, and other random items. The under the bed area is now clean, swept, and washed.
  • Bedroom closet.  My closet is tiny, as in 2 feet of hanging bar and three drawers.  I removed items I no longer wear, took out extra hangers, and organized by color (a home organizer thing…I like my clothes in rainbow order). Now that I’m re-entering the world, I need something to wear besides yoga pants, go-to skirt, and two tops. My closet looks very appealing and will be easy to find something to wear.
  • Bookshelf.  I decided to part with 10 books. My favorite books never get decluttered.  These books were secondhand and cost 5 shekel apiece, hence no guilt on decluttering them. Let someone else enjoy them.
  • Donatable items.  My donation pile has been growing for months.  I finally loaded the pile on to the stroller and strolled over to my favorite second-hand establishments. The corner where they were stashed is now empty.
  • Bags.  We usually shop with reusable bags.  Since we were unable to go to the store we had our groceries delivered, everything comes in paper or plastic (excepting Rami Levi with their hot pink reusable bag).  My ‘bag of bags’ had morphed into multiple bags of bags.  For those of you who save bags, you know what I’m talking about.  The paper bags got recycled and the excess plastic ones got donated.
  • Borrowed items.  We are extremely grateful to friends who lent us things to keep us entertained during our quarantine. Now it’s time to return them.
  • Recycling.  I’m a lucky mama that my kids enjoy making creations with cardboard boxes, egg cartons, etc.  Give them a hot glue gun and some materials for the recycling bin and they are busy for hours.  At this point, enough is enough.  I’m out of space to store the supplies.  But no worries, there will be more soon enough to replenish the supply.
  • Excess toys.  Whether blocks, Lego, or marbles, less is sometimes more.  The kids may disagree, but if my naked toe is about to come in contact with yet another stray piece, it could mean there’s too much to clean up.  I decided to half the excess and it’s going into the machsan (storage room).  I’m going to decrease the volume to see if that facilitates cleanup and reduces clutter.

It feels GREAT to reclaim the space.  Even though our home is small (100 meters), we generally make due with the space.  But it’s like that famous story where the man goes to his rabbi to complain about his small home. The rabbi has the man bring in his chickens, goats, cow, etc. etc. Then the man goes back to the rabbi saying how even more crowded his space is. The wise rabbi says to take out all the livestock and lo and behold, the man thinks his home is quite spacious.  That is the feeling I am experiencing now.

Thanks for reading.

Karen, The Klutter Koach

Post-Corona Recovery: How I’m feeling and what’s changed

My family has been in quarantine for 30 days.  Of the seven of us, the four who tested positive have been officially “released” from quarantine and considered “recovered”. The three who tested negative for having been “exposed” to the rest of the family, have 6 days of an additional 14 days left. Don’t ask… I’ll explain why later in the post.

Post Corona Blog post

I appreciate all the well-wishes and virtual love coming my way.  The encouragement is strengthening my spirit and giving me the courage to know this imprisonment of quarantine will be over soon.  A 100 square meter apartment for seven people isn’t enough space to be all together for 24/7 for over a month with no respite.  When the whole world was on lockdown, we were all in the same boat.  But when you’re stuck home and everyone else is out living life, it’s very depressing.

Post Corona Blog post (1)

Thank G-d we had mild cases, it could have been much worse and I can’t compare our experience with anyone else’s challenges.  Noted, in no particular order, is a bullet list of how I’m feeling and what’s different since I came down with Covid-19 in mid-July.

  • Loss of smell. The sense is returning, but there’s no pattern for which things I can detect and which I can’t.  When I had some motivation to make soup. I hardly noticed the chopped onions, yet I was able to notice the aroma of mango in a smoothie.
  • Reduced energy levels. The recovery process is taking more time than it “should” (as compared to a common cold). Since there is so little knowledge about the recovery process, I don’t know what to expect other than hearing it “takes a long time”.
  • Low motivation. I’m not motivated to get things accomplished. There are no “extra activities” in my day, only essentials.
  • Craving nature. Too much time on screens, virtual existence, and time indoors has me craving green space. The kids and I started container gardening and have daily time on the patio caring for our plants. I would love a Beach Day or a getaway among flowers and trees.  I want to be in nature, not indoors.
  • Perception of time. Life outside of quarantine seems to have moved on and I still am incredulous that August is coming to a close.  Wasn’t it just May?  I know the year, but don’t ask me day or month. There was no schedule, no appointments, nowhere to go. The day had a pattern to it, but nothing specific to mark the hours. It was either “not Shabbos” or “Shabbos”.  I’m not in the “back to school” mode because “summer vacation” proceeds back to school and summer hasn’t happened yet (for us).
  • Thirst. I’m very thirsty. I wake in the middle of the night to drink 12 ounces.  When I awake in the morning, I drink the same amount, as my mouth is parched. I drink frequently throughout the day.
  • Reduced hunger.  I have little appetite. Not being hungry should, in theory, have a silver lining of shedding a pound or two…however this hasn’t happened.  I may have lost my sense of smell as well as my appetite, but I didn’t lose my sense of humor.
  • Reduced sugar cravings.  In all the “diets” being promoted, the common denominator is to reduce things like sugar, refined flour, animal products, etc.  By default, this happened.  This isn’t a bad thing, only something to note.
  • Mental health awareness.  All we’ve heard about are physical symptoms of Covid-19, but the mental health challenges aspect of this pandemic has been overlooked.  There is anxiety, loneliness, stress, worry, and frustration. This is a holistic illness, not just a physical one. The nurse would call daily how we were feeling (physically) but nothing in the realm of asking about fears or feelings. It’s a very isolating experience.  Those in the mental health field need to do a media blast of resources available if someone needs support and someone to talk to.
  • Live-in-the-moment attitude. If I want to put on purple lipstick or paint my nails some wild color, I’ll do it.  If a book bored me, I’ll quit and break the “rule” of “finishing what you start”. I don’t care what everyone else is doing, I just want to be me and enjoy my time on this planet. I’ve come to appreciate the attitude of living in the moment because things can change in an instant.
  • Giving it over to G-d.  Whether income, health, or some other challenge, I’ve given up worrying about it (for the most part…).  I pray for the best but I simply don’t have the mental energy to sit and worry about things I thought “I” could control.  I’ve concluded I can only control my attitude and emotions.
  • Social media. In addition to losing my appetite for food, I lost my appetite for social media.  For one thing, scrolling made me ill. Second, I got bored.

To explain the additional days of quarantine:  from the time when the last person was tested, there are 10 days they could be contagious and healthy people could “still come down with symptoms on day 10, so two additional weeks are added.

What’s really maddening is that the last person who tested positive had symptoms for nearly a week before the test administers came to our home.  For my test, I was tested 24 hours after the request was made.  For the other family members, the request was made on the same day but it took 6 DAYS to be tested, which is an additional four days of unnecessary waiting.  The 10-day count started from the test day, not the day the symptoms appeared, as it had previously been done. (Note: My family is on two different health plans, so that is why all the tests were not administered on the same day.)

That’s the update.  This is a process without precedent so we’ll see what happens next and what’s around the corner.

Thanks for reading.

Karen