Posts Tagged ‘stress’

A Difficult Transition: Emptying Your Childhood Home

Posted on: March 5th, 2014 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Cathy MendlerIt’s March! 

Even though it’s the beginning of March, it’s still not looking like spring is just around the corner with all of the snow that’s still on the ground. But don’t let that stop you from forging ahead with your plans for this year.

Let’s get started and turn over another leaf! 


Emptying your childhood home is one of life’s more difficult transitions. Whether your parents are moving to an apartment, a retirement residence or a nursing home–or they have passed away–here are some tips to assist you.

If possible, let your parents be in control. Put yourself in their shoes, and remember that it is their home. The process will run more smoothly if you respect their wishes.


Have a plan, and start as early as possible. Don’t expect your parents to clear out their entire house in a couple of weeks. The process takes time, as well as a great deal of energy and patience. Keep your parents’ energy level in mind.

Respect Feelings

Be empathetic. Did they grow up during the depression when possessions were scarce? Realizing that possessions are not worth very much now from a monetary point of view is an unfortunate reality. Often they have far more sentimental value.

Disposal of Possessions

Are there items that children and grandchildren find particularly meaningful to them? Schedule a family meeting. If someone doesn’t want or need items, don’t make them feel guilty. Nowadays, most people don’t want the maintenance that comes along with grandmother’s silver tea service.

Sorting through items will likely evoke many memories, and it’s common for seniors to share those stories. It’s a necessary part of the process and will help them let go. The more meaningful an item, the harder it may be. It’s often easier to let an item go if they know someone else will make good use of it. No one likes the idea of their possessions being discarded. Items that are worth money can be sold or donated.

Avoid packing items in a box and storing them in a basement. It’s not a good way to honour the memory of a loved one. In addition, it will prevent someone from dealing with the items again at a later date.

Remember–letting go of someone’s possessions does not mean you are letting go of that person. The memory of a loved one lives in your head and in your heart.

Organizing a Decorating/Renovating Project

Posted on: June 7th, 2013 by Cathy Mendler No Comments


Cathy MendlerSpring has finally sprung!

Spring is the time of year when we like to clear out the cobwebs, splash on a fresh coat of paint, and spruce up tired areas of our homes.

So let’s get started and turn over another leaf!  


“Among these several kinds of beauty the eye takes most delight in colours.”

Joseph Addison (English Poet, 1672-1719)


If you’re planning to redecorate or renovate, start your plan on paper. Determine your budget.

Renovating can be stressful. However long you think the project will take, add some extra time to your estimate. Unexpected delays are often a reality of renovation projects.


Create a list of everything you will need in order to avoid numerous trips to the store.

Professional Help

Hiring a decorating professional for a 1-2 hour consultation may seem expensive, but one large mistake may prove more costly.

Choose a contractor if you’re not doing the work yourself. Get family and friends to recommend someone. Check out the contractor’s references, and contact the Better Business Bureau.

Outside Projects

If you are planning to build a new deck or outside structure, don’t forget to contact your local utilities in advance.  “Call before you dig” is always sound advice.  You don’t want to cut hydro/power, telephone or TV/internet cables, and/or water or gas lines.  Always think safety first!


Which styles do you like–traditional, contemporary, country, cottage or eclectic? What colours do you like?

A piece of fabric or artwork can be the inspiration for a whole room/area. If you plan to redecorate more than one room/area, think about the colour flow.

Watch a decorating show. Take a walk through a furniture store or fabric store. Peruse some decorating magazines. Canadian House & Home and Style at Home are good ones; they provide the Canadian sources for many of the featured items.


How can you decide what to build for storage if you don’t know what items will be stored in that location? Purge as you pack your belongings, so that you can determine your storage needs. Reassembling your room will be easier also.

Furniture and Placement

Will you be rearranging your current furniture, switching pieces from another room in your home or adding new pieces?

Decorators often recommend neutral colours for investment pieces. It is much easier to replace your accessories than to replace your sofa.

Remember that large pieces of furniture look smaller in the showroom than they will in your home. It is extremely important to take the measurements home beforehand and check to see if the new pieces will fit. You can tape an outline of the furniture on the floor, so that you don’t have to move heavy furniture.

Choose furniture that performs double duty—an ottoman with a tray and storage inside, a sofa with a bed, etc.


Changing the colour of a room is the easiest change you can make, and it will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

Keep in mind that it is easier to mix a paint colour to co-ordinate with your fabric and/or furniture than the other way around. Take fabric samples to the paint store. We can recognize over 7,000,000 colours, but we can’t remember an exact colour for more than 30 seconds.

Choose an environmentally friendly paint if your budget allows. Large paint chips and test pots are available at some paint stores. If you don’t want to test the paint on the wall, paint a small piece of bristol board. You will be able to move the board around to different locations to see what the colour looks like at different times of the day and night. Light is an important issue when choosing a paint colour.

Did you know that if you paint a cool colour in a north-facing room, it feels even cooler? Did you know that if you paint a warm colour in a south-facing room, it feels even warmer?

If you choose a neutral colour, a variety of textures in the room will make it work well.


Here is where you can use this year’s trendy colours. Take paint chips and fabric samples when you look for accessories. Remember that items don’t need to match exactly—as long as the colours blend.


Plan ahead for easy meals. When cooking, double a recipe and freeze one batch. This is especially important if you are renovating your kitchen. What will you be able to access? Can you cook outside? Consider using paper plates if you won’t have a kitchen sink to wash dishes or use your dishwasher.

If you’ll be ordering take-out, don’t forget to include those costs in your budget.


If you take the time to plan well, your decorating/renovating project should go more smoothly, and your money will likely be spent more wisely.


Planning For the Holidays–Part 1

Posted on: October 9th, 2012 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Yes, I know it’s hard to believe, but the holidays are just around the corner.  Make this the year that everything runs smoothly.  If you start planning now, there’s no reason why that can’t happen.

So let’s get started and turn over another leaf!


“The more prepared I am, the more I’ll be in control, less nervous, less stressed and more focused.”  Marilu Henner

Never has this statement been truer than when it comes to the holidays.

If Thanksgiving was too hectic, think about what you can do differently.  I’m not going to scare you and tell you how many days are left until Christmas.

Start Early
Spreading out your tasks over an eight-week period instead of trying to cram everything into the last few weeks is the best approach.

Family Traditions
Now is the time to think about your family traditions.  Which are your most favourite?  Which are your least favourite?  You don’t have to do something just because you feel it is expected.  It might not be as important to others as you think.  Talk to your family about eliminating the least favourite.

If dinner is at your home this year, and the idea of cooking dinner for 25 people overwhelms you, don’t try to do it all yourself.  Make it a potluck dinner.  Ask relatives or friends to bring their favourite dish.  Remember to keep a list, so that you don’t end up with too much of an item.

Calendar and Activities Schedule
Update your family calendar with school events, parties, concerts, parades and tournaments.  Try not to overschedule yourself.  Remember that it’s OK to say NO!  It may be tough if you’re not used to it.  If you do say no, don’t feel guilty about it.

Create a Master List
Your master list should contain all of the tasks that you want to complete.  Write the tasks on your calendar and plan to do one task each day.

Start a notebook, and make a list of everyone for whom you need to find a gift.  Ask for suggestions.  Listen carefully to people; they often provide ideas without even realizing it.  Don’t forget to jot down ideas as you think of them.

Your time is valuable; perhaps you can order online or use the Yellow Pages.  Call ahead to see if the store has an item in stock.  Most stores will set items aside.

Label an envelope for gift receipts.  If an item needs to be returned or exchanged, you’ll only have one place to look.

Stock up on any items you need–especially if they’re on sale.  Pick up hostess gift items—boxes of holiday chocolates, holiday napkins tied up with colourful ribbon, a bottle of their favourite beverage, etc.

Give gifts that are kind to the environment.  Check out the many church bazaars and shows which showcase talented local artisans.  A gift certificate to a nursery for plants, flowers or trees makes a great gift for someone who loves gardening.

Make your own gift certificates—several hours of babysitting for a friend, a home-cooked dinner, shovelling snow for a neighbour, etc.  Let your children have some fun creating the gift certificates.

For those people who have everything, make a donation to their favourite charity.  Make a donation to a Christmas Goodwill program in their name.  Or give them a card stating that you have bought an Angel Tree gift, so that a child has a gift to open on Christmas morning.

Would four kinds of cookies suffice for the six or eight kinds you made last year?  Organize a cookie exchange.  M
ake sure to order ahead from your favourite bakery, if you decide not to bake.   If you have a friend who loves to bake, ask her if she’ll bake for you in exchange for wrapping gifts or another task.

Try out new recipes ahead of time.  Don’t attempt them on Christmas Eve when you have numerous other things to worry about.

When cooking meals now, double the recipe and put the second batch in the freezer.  You’ll appreciate not having to cook when you have a particularly hectic night.

Make time to volunteer—even if it’s for a couple of hours.  Involve your children.  Whether it’s buying gifts, serving a meal at a soup kitchen, helping at the Food Bank, wrapping gifts, delivering Christmas hampers or visiting with someone who lives alone, there are unlimited ways to get involved in your community.

Realistic Expectations
We all want everything to be perfect, but it’s not good if we’re so stressed that we can’t enjoy it.  Be realistic.  Set reasonable limits on gift-making, wrapping and baking projects.  Don’t add to your stress level by being a perfectionist.

The important thing about the holidays is that you set aside some time to be with your relatives, friends and neighbours or doing whatever means the most to you!

I invite you to share our newsletter with your friends and family. As well, I welcome your feedback and suggestions.

Stay tuned for Part 2 next month!

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Getting Organized for Back to School!

Posted on: August 7th, 2012 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Cathy Mendler

It’s that time of year again!  The relaxing days of summer are almost behind us.



If you plan ahead, you’ll be ready for the first day of school.

Don’t wait until the night before school starts to try and get your children into their back-to-school routine.  Start a week or two before.  The morning routine is under your control.  Everyone will have a better day if it starts out calmly.

Have your children try on all of their clothing to see what fits.  Yes, they really have grown 3 inches during the summer!  Make a list of what needs to be bought.

Let children decide what they are going to wear, and lay out their clothes the night before.

School Supplies
Has the school provided a list of supplies that will be required?  Stock up during the back-to-school sales.  With higher gas prices, saving a couple of dollars by running from store to store may not be worth the extra effort involved.  Remember that your time is valuable.

Backpacks should be the correct size for your children.  Let them choose one with your help; if they like it, they’ll be more likely to use it and less likely to lose it.

Keep your cupboards well stocked with lunch items.  While single-serving sizes are convenient, they are more costly.  Be thrifty and get supplies in bulk.  Keep a pen and paper handy in or near your pantry to make a note of items that are running low.

Older children should be responsible for making their own lunches.  Provide healthy choices, and let them choose what they like.  Make lunches at night to save time in the morning.  Put leftovers into lunch containers when cleaning up after dinner.  When you cook, double the recipe and freeze one batch.  You can use the second batch for lunches or dinner on a busy night.  It will save you time and will be healthier than picking up fast food.

Don’t forget to label all items your children take to school which need to be brought home each night or week.

Post a checklist as close as possible to where your children enter and exit for school.  Make it easy for everyone to read.  Have young children draw an outline of the items they need to take.  Have a designated spot for each child’s coat, mittens, boots, backpack and sports equipment.

Calendar and Scheduling
All activities should be put onto one calendar.  Keeping more than one calendar is difficult; it usually results in missed appointments.  Label each family member’s activities in a different colour; let your children pick their favourite colour.  Limit extra-curricular activities for each child.  To make everyone’s life easier, try not to overschedule.  Your children need some time to be kids!

Set up a reward system to motivate your children to reach their goals throughout the year.  With your encouragement and positive reinforcement, they will succeed!

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Technology and Time Management!

Posted on: July 27th, 2012 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Summer is usually the time of year to take a well-deserved break. Like many of us, you’ve been eagerly awaiting some time off from your busy schedule.
While your business may slow down during the summer months, it shouldn’t grind to a halt.

Did you know “it is a fact that creativity often flows more readily when you are out[side]—especially if you are near water”? In Write It Down, Make It Happen, Henriette Anne Klauser tells us that “Being near water, especially moving water, gets ideas to flow.”

I attended a POC conference session a couple of years ago on “The Impact of Technology on Time Management” and learned a new word – “Thinksomnia.” While Harold Taylor (a Canadian time management expert) did not create this word, he has “adopted it and use(s) it in the context of our extreme busyness and resultant lack of creativity.” The definition for this made-up word is: “An idea that pops into your head just before you fall asleep, which is so big and brilliant, or else so dark and scary, that it keeps you awake all night long”.

For Harold, “it fit perfectly with [his] belief that because we are so busy and preoccupied all day, the only time we get to really think about anything new is at night just before we fall asleep. That’s when the ideas pop into our minds, and we start thinking about them to the point that we can’t get to sleep.” “I recommend to my clients that at least 10 percent of their work day should be left [available] for planning and thinking. Because our success and the success of our companies depend on it. Everything except creativity is being outsourced to other countries…We can’t afford to short-change our creativity – which we’re doing in this age of speed.”

Keep the above points in mind as you think ahead and set personal or business goals for the remainder of 2012. You may come up with your most brilliant ideas yet. Remember to keep a notepad handy to jot ideas down, so that you can put them into action!

Feeling Better Inside and Out–from Coach Fiona!

Posted on: June 5th, 2012 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

How to Feel Better Emotionally and Physically

A Life Coach is trained to help you improve your life by finding the answers that lie within you. Two very basic elements of improving life are to feel better emotionally and physically. There are several different changes or modifications you can make to feel better. Being able to spot and eradicate the high and hidden “life costs” that sneak in to throw you off track is very beneficial. Those costs can be physical, emotional, and monetary or lost time. Realizing the high toll certain situations takes on you is vital to steering life in a fulfilling direction. Often, life circumstances can deplete you of essential ingredients and make situations difficult. Learning how to create a pool of money, energy, time and love is principal to keeping life on track and flowing down a healthy, happy and satisfying path.

The chaos of fast-paced lives can frequently leave major areas of life in disarray. When homes, offices and cars become untidy, it affects your physical and emotional well-being. Clearing out the clutter in your personal spaces will make you feel better emotionally, look better, save time and allow you to focus on the important issues. Having the ability to rid your surroundings of clutter and replace it with organization makes daily life much easier. When you know where everything is and can find the things you need, it enables you to work and play much more efficiently. Keeping your personal spaces in good order promotes calmness and alleviates stress.

In order to improve the quality of life in any way, it is necessary for you to take care of yourself. No exercise and consuming large quantities of fast food loaded with saturated fat and calories makes you sluggish and perform below peak level. Eating right and practicing healthy lifestyle habits keeps your body and mind fit as well as empowering you to be and reach for the best. Taking care of yourself also includes learning how to have your personal needs met in a timely manner. As a Life Coach, I can help you find your voice and use that voice to ask and receive the things in life you need.

If you’re interested in making serious changes in your life but are having trouble getting your plan off the ground, check out Life Coach Fiona.

She’ll help you identify your goals, formulate a do-able plan, and keep you on track with open and honest accountability. She helps people leverage their internal guidance system in order to create a truly inspired life.

It’s never too late to become the person you always wanted to be!

Coach Fiona can be contacted through her website or her Facebook page.

Welcome to Cathy’s Desk

Posted on: February 7th, 2012 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Welcome to our very first edition. My hope is that you will be inspired–as well as motivated–to improve your personal and business life by turning over a new leaf. I want you to live your ideal life.

I invite you to share our newsletter with your friends and family. As well, I welcome your feedback and suggestions.

So let’s get started and turn over the first leaf!

“Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful and believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris (1834-1896), English Designer

Do you need to get more organized in 2012?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  •  How much time does it take you to look for your car keys or other misplaced items?
  •  Have you bought something because you couldn’t find it?
  •  Are you afraid to open your closet because of a possible avalanche?
  •  Has it been a long time since you’ve invited company into your home?
  •  Is your clutter causing problems in any of your relationships?
  •  Have you spent a whole day or weekend attempting to sort through your clutter and ended up with a worse mess?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, don’t worry—you are not alone. It’s never too late to start!

Everyone has clutter to some extent. There are many reasons for clutter. Our lives are so busy. Overscheduling ourselves and our children often doesn’t leave much spare time. Procrastination, perfectionism, traumatic events, indecision and illness are only some of the reasons that clutter collects. It’s easy for things to get out of control over time. Why does this happen?

It happens because we (North Americans) like to accumulate stuff. Why is there such a high value placed on having so many possessions? Are you trying to keep up with the Joneses? Are you drowning in debt in order to do so? This compulsion to accumulate causes clutter. How do you deal with that clutter?

A frequent complaint is that people never seem to have enough storage space. Did you know that buying in bulk is only recommended if you have sufficient storage space for your items? More storage space is often an important consideration when buying a new house. Before moving, a major purge usually takes place—it’s an opportunity for a new start. However, a bigger house just means more space to fill up.

Unfortunately, other than when people move, a major purge doesn’t usually occur unless there’s a good reason. When I tell people I’m a Professional Organizer, a frequent response is: “Could I ever use your help!” Often it is obvious that their clutter is causing them some stress. When you come home at the end of a busy day, you want to relax. It’s easy to understand why sorting through clutter isn’t at the top of your to-do list. There are many more fun things you can find to do with your time.

Did you know…

  •  80% of paper that is filed is never looked at again?
  •  Most people only wear 20% of the clothes in their closet 80% of the time? Do you have an outfit hanging in your closet that still has the price tag on it?
  •  There is an Institute for Challenging Disorganization in the United States?

To quote Peter Walsh, the well-known professional organizer, you need to “Imagine the life you want to live.” Simply clearing out the clutter won’t solve the problem. While change can often be difficult, it’s not impossible.

Are you overwhelmed and don’t know where to start? I tell clients to start with the area that causes them the most stress. Determine which area you would like to organize. The next thing I do is break an overwhelming project down into smaller more manageable chunks. Get out a pen and a piece of paper and make some notes. List the action steps you will need to take. Plan a block of time in your schedule to get started. If you write it down, it is much more likely to happen. When your designated time period arrives, don’t procrastinate. As the Nike slogan says, “Just do it.”