On making a mess to get organized

Well, we are one week into the New Year and my studio looks like a hurricane went through it. There’s a ladder in the middle of the way, piles of papers everywhere, discarded papers on the floor, pencils, scraps, paintbrushes, rolls, stuff I am not sure what to do with – do I need to keep this? May I throw it away? And if I do discard it, will I miss it? Do you know what I mean?

The thing is that this has been going on for weeks now. Me trying to get organized by being disorganized. Life has changed once more and I find myself with an adult son living with me by necessity. And this adult son comes with a young child. Which meant that I had to take out everything that was stored in the guest bedroom – I used the bed to store the quilts that travel with me, plus class samples, etc. and find somewhere to put it (basement here I come!). And it also meant clearing the front bedroom to make room for a child’s room. And there was a loooooot of stuff there.

A few years back, when I started teaching online, I cleaned that front bedroom to make it into a “recording studio” of sorts. But since then, that bedroom has become the place where everything goes when guests arrive suddenly and I need to clear the bed of quilts, and anything else that got piled up. You get the idea …

For the last three weeks or a bit more, I’ve been reorganizing. And that has meant moving things from here to there, from there to here, and anywhere in between. From here to the basement, and from the basement to the upstairs. And what happens then? I’ve decided that while I was doing all that, I might was well reorganize my studio to make more room for the things I use all the time. So I moved books and magazines to the front bedroom, while emptying basket drawers to make room for baby’s clothes and necessities.

I cleaned and cleared drawers in my studio and the file cabinet and threw away a lot of papers I don’t need anymore, and while doing that, I found piles of papers that I had printed through the years on things that inspired me: paintings, quilts, free-motion quilting stuff, abstract, representational, trees … Yikes! Hundred of prints. Do I get rid of them? But all that work, and ink and time searching for some specific bit of inspiration.

Decision made! To organize these piles of inspiration photos and make idea books. Off came the sketchbooks I love for this – courtesy of Dollarama – and the glue stick and the scissors. Now all those piles of sketchbooks are in my living room: on the coffee table, on the chair, on the floor. And at night, once I’m done all the work I need to do, I sit and quietly go through the piles of copies and cut the ones I want to keep and glue them to books in categories: Embroidery, Ideas, Rocks, Trees, Architecture, Abstract, Quilts, Free-motion and feathers … I have a long way to go still. But I am in no rush as I decided to enjoy the process and use the time to infuse my mind with inspiration.

So back to the original statement: my studio is a mess. And I start teaching classes again this week which means that a deadline is looming. I have two days to clear my studio and put away stuff so I can go back to teaching. Guess what I’m doing today?

I also worked on the basement this weekend. If you’ve been reading and following along, you may remember that I had decided to install two IKEA PAX systems along a wall to start to clear the basement so I can – hopefully – teach classes. And then before that was done, I decided to get rid of the carpet. The PAX systems were installed right before Christmas, and I started to tear the carpet out. This weekend, I finished ripping the carpet out which meant tearing the carpet out of one half of the room, grind the glue off the floor, and then move everything from the other half of the room to the cleared half so I could tear the carpet off and grind the glue. Job done! I was exhausted at the end of the weekend. My body hurt. But what a feeling! Of a job well done. Pride that I did it all myself. Never underestimate determination!

I am not sure why I wrote all this. I think I started with one idea in mind and then it all went from there. Maybe because I want to share the thought that sometimes to get organized, it’s necessary to make a mess. Our lives change and we need to change with them. Adjust, bend, flex. Today, it’s my turn.

So I am going to finish this blog and send it your way and get back to some admin work and a video I need to finish before I go back to putting stuff away in my studio. And by the way … it has already started: I can’t find anything anymore! Oh well …

Until I write again, have a great week!


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  1. So nice to know I’m not the only one with a messy, unorganized studio/home office! It’s a small space (a bedroom), but it’s all I have. And I use it as an office and for art. And, about a third of it is for my boyfriend’s desk space so I don’t get it all to myself. Oh, well, better than no space at all!! I once had a huge studio of about 900 s.f., but a divorce changed all that. Like you said, that’s life and you have to go along with it! :)

    1. I know what you mean. But you do have a space so I hope you get to enjoy it, even if you have to share it. Make it yours and put nice stuff around you :) Thanks for writing

  2. I love hearing from you. It makes my day. I have something to send you and need your address.
    Hope you don’t mind sending it to me.

    4135 Old Homestead Dr.
    West Bend, Wi 53095

  3. Oh my goodness, you’ve been in a busy tizzy! Make room for son and grandchild and all else will come along too. Love reading about your busy life.

  4. I so appreciated this. I am in the midst of moving things from one space to other spaces so I can sort through things in the space that I want to organize. Then there is the deciding of whether to keep something or decide if I miss it as I progress along my creative journey. So it feels like a bit of teamwork in separate places. 😊

    1. I know exactly what you mean. I just hope that we both can find stuff when we need it. I knew exactly where everything was before (sort of) and now …? we’ll see … Enjoy your rearranging!

  5. oh my goodness Ana, what a nightmare! Courage ! 2024 promises to be a rough and bumpy ride. We haven’t got to panic , ask the Universe for help and trust. Blessings you can do it.

  6. I’m happy to hear that you get to spend some time with a new grandchild. I hope your son is able to help you with your reorganizing, and future baby proofing, See you in class on Saturday. P.S. I am really impressed with all you have accomplished, especially the basement floor.

    1. Thanks so much Julie. I’m having fun doing it – even if it sounds strange to do so. I’ve discovered some stuff I had forgotten I had and had an opportunity to clear out stuff that I don’t need anymore. I’m taking it one day at a time and allowing myself time to do nothing in between! :)

  7. Hi Ana – Thank you for sharing your re-org process…we can all relate. I especially like your idea of cuttinng and pasting your inspiration piece clippings into category notebooks. I am going to follow this wonderful idea with my own pieces of inspirations from the years. Sheryl

    1. Thanks for writing Sheryl. Having “idea books” is a great way to organize images, ideas, you can write notes as you go along, draw thumbnails of ideas, anything else you can think of: pieces of fabric and threads as one of the images sparks an idea … endless! Enjoy organizing and working on your books. I hope you’ll love it as much as I do.

  8. Hi Ana:
    I really enjoyed reading your post! You see. I was into an effort to reduce possessions,
    including everything in Fiber studio spaces on two levels plus everything else I
    had accumulated in 79 years. THIS CAME TO A SCRETCHING HALT!

    My entire condo is up-side down! Over two years ago, I injured my right Patella
    (kneecap). After surgery, I had to wear a full leg immobilizer (from crouch to ankle)
    for most of a year. That was followed by PT, trying to stand, walk, move with some assemblance of normalcy once again. There has been rather a long learning
    curve as I recognized that my entire skeletal frame had been impacted.

    After over a year, where I gained strength, improved range of motion and increased
    flexibility, I am able to function quite well. I will turn 82 on May 3rd and have always
    been healthy, active, energetic and independent. However, I always tended to moved fast. As the years went by, I failed to be mindful of how some of the changes in my body were impacting the stability of my movements. In fact, it was sometime during
    the last year that I finally began to really focus on some of the subtle factors that
    were contributing to what I called – being a “Clutz”. It was related to physical changes
    in my knees as well as my hips relating to a previous knowledge of how I came
    into the world. My left hip is noticeably lower (to me) than my right hip and my left leg a bit shorter than the right leg (my parents took me to an Orthopedic Doctor when I
    was a child because of aches in my left knee) when this was discovered.

    While I was never limited physically, with aging and changes in my knees and
    spine as cartilage compressed and has significantly disappeared in the left knee
    but only a little in the right knee. Stability and balance was being impaired; and, I
    failed to really understand that I needed to slow down and be more mindful of
    my actions. I have worked on standing and walking building better balance ,etc.
    In addition, slowing down my movements as well as really gaining mindfulness!

    This Winter, I finally got to the point where I really began to regularly tackle small clusters of stuff in file boxes, on shelving units, in cubes, cabinets or drawers, etc.
    – going through boxes of folders, or fabric, notions, old papers, etc. As I sort, I divide
    into trash, redistribution, keep and a small amount of short term-undecided.
    The process is working – especially because my strength, flexibility and mindset
    are working together. I have no end date – I am enjoying life and have setup mini-workspaces so I can continue designing and creating my fiber art!

    I live with my four cats – all of whom are feral cats, I have rescued. They don’t
    mind the boxes and stacks. In fact, they seem to quite enjoy all the shuffling
    around of stuff – finding new places to climb, play or take a nap!

    Thank you for sharing!

    Elizabeth A. Franck

    1. Thanks for writing Elizabeth. I admire your spirit amidst all the issues you’ve had. I can just imagine how much fun your cats are having with the boxes! Keep creating! Sending love your way,

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