Creative people are often not gifted with organizational skills.

I hope that’s true anyways, because believing it helps me feel better!

Maybe I should just stick to what I can say for sure, and that is I’m pretty creative and pretty lacking in the area of organization.

Behold: my college dorm room in it’s natural state.  This is exactly how I remember it.

Now don’t get me wrong, I value organization and can crush over magazine images and Pinterest boards of beautifully organized and clean spaces like the best of them.  But getting and staying organized is not a natural rhythm in my life.  Said differently–

Once upon a time I had only been married a few weeks and boasted to my husband, “Look!  I washed, dried, and hung up all your clothes for you.”

Husband said, “Stacy, thank you so much.  Now, the only thing is—can I teach you my system for where all my clothes should be hung?”

System?  I was horrified.

{In the photo above, taken in our closet door mirrors, you’ll notice his neatly organized shirts hanging on the right and everything falling out of my cubbies on the left.}

I thrive when there is at least some level of chaos.  Picking out my clothes in the morning is an artistic experience of collaborating color, mood, weather, and fabric—how could anyone possibly have a system for that?  At some point that evening as my husband and I struggled to understand each other, I shed some tears.  Not my proudest moment.

And then, to my surprise and dismay, two weeks later in my beloved Martha Stewart Living magazine, Martha had the audacity to suggest the exact same system as my husband’s.  True story.

The good news is that slowly, as a lover and follower of the organizational website Space for Living, something has begun to click.  I realize now that creative, free-spirited people have something to learn from the organized, structured souls.  And vice versa.  {And yes, of course I’m generalizing a bit.  In reality most of us are a combination of both.}

For much of my life, I’ve tried to be organized and pretty much failed at keeping up with it; after awhile, I wrote myself off as an organizational drop out.

But if I imagine a Type A,  organizational guru telling me he or she had given up on ever trying an artistic endeavor,  I know exactly the pep talk I’d give them: “Embracing creativity is something you can learn, through small steps, and I believe being open to the power of art will change your life for the better.”

Alas—I need to take my own advice.  Learn.  Small steps.

These days I’m excited to learn from Space for Living, my own organized husband, and other people whose strengths aren’t mine.  And equally important,  I commit to give to my family, community, and blogosphere out of my strengths, too.

The funny thing is, as I’ve made effort to become more organized, the biggest improvement has been in my creative life.  For a long time it’d been a pattern for me to be struck with inspiration but then not be able to locate all the little supplies I needed to pull off the project.  Imagine hearing me say, “I know I saved that thing….somwhere…..” several times in a row until I give up and decide making coffee sounds like a nice alternative.

This frustrating, annoying trend has not been the case since I seriously tackled organizing my art supplies.

{first–what needs the most help?}

I have so much paper, and I use paper a lot, so it was top priority!

Using two Target paper sorters right in front of each other made a home for all things paper:  full sheets of scrapbook paper, construction paper, magazine clippings I love, even specialty paper for t-shirt iron-ons. 

The only paper that doesn’t belong in these sorters is stationary.  I have so much of it, it needed it’s own space.  Below you’ll see my super-handmade yet super-helpful organization system.

That’s right–just a small storage container with post-it notes taped to index cards, but I tell ya what–I know exactly where to find exactly what I need when I want to send someone a note.

{a space to be messy}

I mentioned before I thrive in chaos. This is the designated area for chaos on my desk, and I’m more than ok with it being a tad messy.

I made this “treasure catcher” pictured above out of plates and goblets. I love having a place to quickly toss things when I need to clear off the desk. The small supplies are up and out of the way, yet easy to relocate if I’m going to finish the project soon.

Our filing cabinet, lovingly maintained by the husband, fits under the snazzy craft desk we bought at Goodwill for $7.  I probably put in another $7 to sand and paint it.  And I’m in love.

So there we have the craft desk!

Now let’s venture over to my slightly ugly but very effectively organized craft shelf.

{like things get stored together}

All things adhesive and sticky go in the same crate {a garage sale find} pictured below.  Boy is it nice to know where you can find what you need.

The perfectly sized basket shown below was from a Christmas basket I received.  Re-purposed and free, it holds somewhat miscellaneous “earthy” stuff.The gallon sized clear bags make my treasures easy to find without creating a huge mess.

I love these purple boxes from Wal-Mart for holding small supplies like stamps, tags, and miscellaneous items.

{only so much space}

I have a strange fascination with glass jars.  Now that I have a place just for them, I don’t feel badly about letting them collect….. but when there’s no more room on this shelf, I can’t add anymore to the collection without using or getting rid of something to free up room.

So, care to eavesdrop on a more recent conversation of my husband and me?

Husband said, “Wow.  It’s so clean under the sink!  It looks really good.  Where did you put everything that was under there?”

{put it where you’ll use it}

Beaming, I said, “The only thing I did was organize the grocery bags–they were taking over!  We don’t use paper bags very often, so I tidied those into one bag and took them to my car where I’m more likely to reuse them for shopping.  And, I created this for our plastic bags:

A coffee can turned bag holder.  We’re not keeping any more plastic bags than this little guy will hold.”

Husband said, “Wow.”

And I thought, “Wow.  There’s hope for a creative, organizationally challenged fool like me!”

Given my Martha meltdown a year and a half ago, I think the fact that my husband said “wow” about something that had to do with me being organized is pretty wow, indeed.


Photo credit for messy dorm room:  the one, the only, Kristin Raley.

12 Responses to me? organized? one girl’s journey to the other side.

  • Pingback: {Home Tour: week 3: kitchen and dining room} | {foolish for light}

  • Phillip says:


    Stephanie and I have a very similar system for our closets like you and Ben. The difference is my hangers are all the same color ;p

  • Angel says:

    This made me laugh as I’ve had similar conversations with my husband (including the closet conversation). The most recent conversation about organization was two days ago. I was floored when he said all his CDs in his car are in a particular order, and if I put a CD in the wrong place, he wouldn’t be able to find it. Mine are just in a little CD book holder and I flip through until I find whatever I’m looking for. I also love Martha Stewart!

    • Stacy says:

      Oh man–it’s so good to know I’m not alone! Your cd example is a great one….I would never, ever attempt to organize my cds like that, but to each his/her own, right?! :)

  • Kristina says:

    I LOVE this! You are so adorable!! Love how creative and bubbly you are :)

  • Dave (Dad) says:

    Hey SEE SEE,
    I enjoyed reading this posting from you. I had smiles on my face as I reflected over the past…how many years did we live in the same house?? At one point Grandpa made a comment (he was sitting next to me) about looking in your room when you were about 13 years old. We laughed again!! Love you SEE SEE! P.S. SEE SEE is the name that was given to Stacy by her sister Ashley at the age of 3. Ashley tried her hardest to say Stacy…SEE SEE was pretty close and has stuck with me as Stacy’s name.

    • Stacy says:

      Dad, you are the best! I also laughed thinking about my room as a 13 year old like you mentioned here. That was WAY worse than my college apartment!

  • Kayla-Bug says:

    In all fairness, the messy dorm room wasn’t all YOUR fault (ahem, Katie Jo). :)

  • Ashley says:

    This may be my favorite post so far! I really need to tidy our closets, and I’m actually excited about it now : )

    • Stacy says:

      I’m so glad you liked it, Bess! I didn’t know what people would think of my silliness. I’m always glad to hear feedback.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


It doesn't always make sense-the way we live. We decide that's ok. People don't have to get it. Welcome to Foolish for Light, a place for exploring the counter-intuitive life of a light-chaser.


Foolish for Light is a place for anyone willing to challenge the way things have to be done. I'm kind of perfectly fine being called foolish as I chase the Light of the world. You?