1. Garden Q & A Column, Somerville Journal

2. Ecological Landscape Association article by Judy Eisenberg

3. VIDEO – Belinda Rosenblum

4. Article on Clutter and Gardening

By Christopher Treacy
Somerville Patch

Clear the Clutter, Channel the Clarity

Somerville Professional Organizer Judy Eisenberg will help you get control of your hoard whether big or small. She’ll also help you plant that garden you’ve been daydreaming about…

While you can still hire professionals to just ‘do your closets,’ the nature of professional organizing services has shifted… from luxury to necessity. Judy Eisenberg, owner of Somerville’s Clutter Clearer Coach, is sensitive to the plight of individuals that have lost control of their space; it’s quite common.

Thanks to trends in self-actualization, a popular pair of hoarding reality shows and a rash of recently published books, it seems like the psychology of clutter is on everyone’s mind. It’s conservatively estimated that three million cases of extreme hoarding exist in the USA alone.

Our Stuff, Our Selves
See, many of us have our identities wrapped up in our ‘stuff’; call it an unfortunate side effect of modern living. We insulate ourselves with it, and therein lays the problem: we come to believe it’s an indispensable part of us.

“The biggest obstacles for the people I’m coaching are emotional ones,” Eisenberg said in a phone interview earlier this week. “There’s a fair amount of anxiety about letting go and fear of losing memories. Parting with possessions drudges up unexpected feelings and can be extremely overwhelming.”

>”Oftentimes these are people that have already tried other means to regain control of their space,” she continued. “They’ve bought books; they’ve attended adult education classes. But they can’t seem to get started on their own. It’s my job to provide them with judgment-free assistance.”

Eisenberg has lived in Somerville for twenty-four years. She went to school for Meeting Management at Bentley College and worked in a number of planning and organizationally-oriented positions prior to opening her coaching business in 2007. She’s a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), and belongs to the NAPO New England chapter.

Make Way for Clarity
The philosophy guiding her services is simple, sensible and universally appealing.
“Having an uncluttered household or office is really healthy,” she explained. “A clean space provides a sense of freedom and an opening for new things to enter one’s life. But when your world is full of clutter, life can get very confusing.”

She says that economic struggle might partially why explain clutter has become such a prominent issue in recent years; it’s difficult to squish the same amount of stuff into a smaller home or apartment, but having to part with possessions makes the process of downsizing even more traumatic.

Eisenberg hasn’t worked with high-level hoarders living in filth or collecting animals, but she feels strongly that the media attention those people have attracted has made it easier for sufferers at all levels to come forward.

“It’s getting worldwide publicity now; the reality of it is inescapable,” she said. “On the positive end, people are becoming much more comfortable with speaking up and letting others know they’re having a problem. It’s getting easier to ask for help.”

Ready and Willing
And therein lays a major distinction between what people are seeing on television and what Eisenberg does: her clients are ready.

“When a client comes to me, it’s of their own volition,” she said. “On television, it’s not usually the person with the clutter problem that calls in; it’s a sibling or a child and it’s resulting from some pending legal action.”

“My clients may be reluctant or scared, but they’re open to suggestion; they have to be if it’s going to work,” she continued. “This is a very intimate process and I have to be discreet; a large part of it is about building trust. It’s my job to meet clients where they’re at and help them over the hump… but they made the first move.”

Both Inside and Out…
As a member of the Ecological Landscape Association and the Somerville Garden Club, Eisenberg also runs a second company called Sun & Shade Gardening, offering side-by-side garden coaching and helping people better utilize their outside space. She writes a twice-monthly gardening Q & A column for the Somerville Journal and says that recently, the two businesses have begun to complement one another. It’s something she expects will increase over time.

“I let my clients know about all my services and I think it plants a seed,” she said. “Sometimes I’ll be helping someone with their garden and the house is a mess, but they didn’t hire me for that. All I can do is let them know I’m available and hope they eventually become ready to ask for help.”

When it comes to keeping tabs on previous clients, Eisenberg’s own organizational skills kick in. “I encourage follow-ups since it’s easy to fall back into old patterns; sometimes behavioral therapy is a necessity to really get a handle on the problem. But I send out postcards every few months to remind people I’m here should they need a tune-up.”

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