I’m here to help, not judge. I love sorting out messes and seeing things set right! People often ask how I got started as a professional organizer. Well, the career found me.
In 2003 I became Conservator of an aunt who had paranoid schizophrenia, dementia and depression. In her 90’s, widowed for 20 years and fiercely independent, she had cleverly managed to stay below social services’ radar and refused all help from the family. By the time State agencies finally got wind of her, her living situation had deteriorated so badly that the Conservatorship truly was a rescue. My aunt hoarded; her house was packed from floor to ceiling, making it impossible to enter most of the rooms. She slept sitting up on the living room sofa because it was the only space left, and she wasn’t getting enough to eat. We found a contract from a “church friend” offering to buy her house for a tiny fraction of its worth. Though willing to take on the task, I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the wonderful, terrible, sublime journey that lay ahead; with its myriad legal and financial hoops, countless estate and yard sales, incompetent doctors, crazy contractors and unscrupulous funeral directors.
And then there were exquisite moments that made every difficulty seem unimportant…
- My aunt’s reaction to modern psychiatric medications: among other things, she was able to sing again
- Her expression of wonder and enchantment when reunited with the beautiful old family portraits buried in her home – images she hadn’t seen for decades
- The way her eyes glowed when, unable to speak after a stroke, I explained her life story to the hospital staff
If the process had gone more smoothly, it would probably never have occurred to me to become a professional organizer. The issues were critically important – literally life and death in many instances – and the ‘experts’ sometimes anything but. It became apparent that I had a natural talent for sorting out big, complicated situations requiring diverse skills and experience, caring and compassion. My aunt lived another seven years, and her life altered the course of mine. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to protect a person so vulnerable, and for the chance to make her last years as comfortable and happy as possible.
My aunt’s home was an archaeological dig. Sifting the house’s contents revealed 150 years worth of photos, letters and documents; family history that I knew absolutely nothing about. It was a huge, tantalizing puzzle waiting to be reassembled. Toward that end, I began an online family tree. I didn’t know it at the time, but my aunt was sending me on another adventure. Genealogical research has become a source of enormous satisfaction and interest, and I love helping others discover, organize and preserve their own family stories.
More About Me:
- BFA Graphic Design
- Museum training in textile conservation
- Professional training in photo conservation
- 30 years experience small retail business owner
- General knowledge of many kinds of antiques and collectibles
- Knowledge of most textile arts; sewing, weaving, lacemaking, etc.
- Miscellaneous art & design background, including interior design and architectural restoration
- I’m good at finding homes/uses for things, and keeping things out of the landfill
- I prefer to use green cleaning products and methods whenever possible
- Member of NAPO: National Association of Professional Organizers
- Member of NAPO-SFBA: San Francisco Bay Area Chapter
Contact Sarah by phone: 415-221-6126 or by email: sarah415info(at)gmail.com