Letters 07-21-2014


While observing Fox News, it was disheartening to see what their viewers were subjected to. It seems the Republicans’ far right wing extremists are conveying their idealistic visions against various nationalities, social diversities or political beliefs with an absence of emotion concerning women’s health issues, children’s rights, voter suppression, Seniors, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid...

Things That Matter

All of us in small towns and large not only have the right to speak on behalf of our neighbors and ourselves, we have the duty and responsibility to do so -- and 238 years ago, we made a clear Declaration to do just that...

An Anecdote Driven Mind

So, is Thomas Kachadurian now the Northern Express’ official resident ranter? His recent factfree, hard-hearted column suggests it. While others complain about the poor condition of Michigan’s roads and highways, he rants against those we employ to fix them...

No On Prop 1

Are we being conned? Are those urging us to say “yes” to supposedly ”revenue neutral” ballot proposal 1 on August 5 telling us all the pertinent facts? Proposal 1 would eliminate the personal property tax businesses pay to local governments, replacing its revenue with a share of Michigan’s 6 percent use tax paid by us all on out-of-state purchases, hotel accommodations, some equipment rentals, and telecommunications...

Fix VA Tragedy

The problems within the Veterans Administration identified under former President Bush continue to hinder the delivery of quality health care to the influx of physically wounded and emotionally damaged young men and women...

Women Take Note

I find an interesting link between the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby and the crisis on the southern border. Angry protesters shout at children to go home. These children are scared, tired, hungry and thirsty, sent to US prisons awaiting deportation to a country where they may very likely be killed...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Getting Organized
. . . .

Getting Organized

Kristi Kates - February 21st, 2011
Getting Organized with Connie Huizenga
By Kristi Kates
“Do you use or need this?”
“What do you use this for?”
“What do you need it for?”
These are just a few of the questions calmly asked by professional
organizer Connie Huizenga, whose business, Details, Et Al, strives to
de-clutter and reorganize people’s homes, and, by intent or merely
association, their lives, too.
A professional organizer now for nearly 20 years, Huizenga’s informal
training was largely accomplished on her own, a process that began when
friends and family called upon her innate skills to help put their homes
or projects in order.
“Whenever my friends had to organize their homes or organize for a party,
they’d call me,” Huizenga explains, “that led to them telling their
friends and relatives about me. Some of those people would hire me to be
on-site to help them pack up an old house, then be on-site at the new
house to put all of the rooms together.”
While to some people, this might sound like the ultimate chore or tedious
exercise, for Huizenga, it brings her a great sense of accomplishment.
“I am absolutely passionate about it,” she says, “there’s a lot I’m not
good at, but organizing for me is a gift. There’s not one piece of it that
I don’t love.”

Huizenga’s job is part tidy, part psychology. It’s a proven fact that
cluttered surroundings can add stress to one’s life, while serene
surroundings - as evidenced by such philosophies as feng shui and the
orderly, clean, meditative design of such places as yoga studios and spas
- assist one in becoming more grounded, calm, and focused. While not all
of today’s homes necessarily prescribe to something as white and spare as
what we just mentioned, there’s still a huge benefit to having your things
organized and your rooms more tranquil in appearance.
“I find the most rewarding and gratifying thing is seeing not only the
change of a room, closet, or garage, but often, without realizing, I’ll
look over and see that the client is breathing deeper,” Huizenga says,
“when a connection to the puzzle of what a psychological issue has
manifested in clutter is realized, it’s very humbling and indescribable.
It means a lot that I was honored with such incredible trust to be part of
that, and that gratification is as transparent as an organized room.”
Huizenga’s business arrives in an interesting fashion. She says that most
clients will meet her or acquire her contact info, and then walk around
with her business card for anywhere from six months to a year before they
actually call. From there, the process is a carefully constructed one that
respects both the person and their home or office.
“I meet with them first for a free estimate,” Huizenga explains, “My
approach is to work alongside them. They’re in charge. I can’t know the
best way to organize their things until I learn more of their taste,
lifestyle, needs, frustrations, and their household or business functions
and needs.”
Most clients know that their clutter is in the way, Huizenga says, but get
overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin.
“I see a room or a garage full of stuff floor-to-ceiling, and I just dig
right in,” she says, “asking questions about what they need and why they
need it. So basically, it’s emptying out a ‘closet’ - going through and
deciding what needs to go; what can be utilized or honored in a better
way; or what goes back in. I always encourage there to be what I call
‘breathing room’ within a room, to not let things just get stuffed back

For those naturally-tidy folk reading this article and thinking, “well, I
could do that” - the lessons learned via Huizenga’s services, and
sometimes for Huizenga herself, aren’t necessarily that simple.
“The easiest organizing jobs are the people who are in touch with what
it’s all about and what needs to go,” she explains, “those jobs are quick,
and far less painful.
“Given the fact that I have genuinely loved every organizing job I’ve ever
had, I can’t really pinpoint the ‘worst’ case I’ve worked on. I guess the
ones that I find myself physically and emotionally exhausted at the end of
would qualify as the most challenging,” she continues. “Those often fall
among people who might be in the ‘hoarding’ category, and involve tears,
laughter, anger - the whole gamut. I am very sensitive, and I have a
humble understanding of how vulnerable this process is - clients feel very
exposed, and can suddenly, after several days, remember that I’m really a
stranger that is making them get rid of their stuff.”
Huizenga says that for more sensitive clients, she often takes a pause to
stop and explore what’s going on, to remind the client that they are the
ones in change.
“Often, they’ll come back, wiping tears, saying, ‘oh! I need to go back
and talk with my therapist,’” she explains. “The feedback I’ve gleaned
from psychologists is that my work with some people is like churning up
emotional muck that has been sitting stagnant. What would have taken them
a year to help them heal, the client and I churn up in a few days.”
But even in the least disorganized jobs, whatever the clutter, Huizenga
says, she’s found that every experience has some emotional attachments,
both negative and positive.

A wide range of people can use a service like Huizenga’s, from busy
business people, doctors, nurses, and accountants, to harried parents, new
homeowners, those working on decorating/organizing their first apartment,
or freelancers who work from an office in their own house.
Even Northern Express’ own Peg Muzzall, as accomplished a sales manager as
she is, found Huizenga’s assistance useful when it came to putting a sense
of calm and focus back into her own home office.
“I’d been talking for years about getting my office organized, but it
always seemed like too daunting a task,” Muzzall explains. “I had a friend
who told me about someone who had helped her with some office organizing.
I knew it would be such a positive change in my life to make this a clean
break, so I called Connie.”
Muzzall’s before pictures, while not the worst possible scenario, show a
lot of clutter, an overloaded bookcase, and an overtaxed desk, all
detriments to her busy workdays. Muzzall and Huizenga met on a Monday, and
three days later Huizenga arrived with banana boxes to sort things into;
they spent an 11-hour day getting the project well underway.
“The best thing about the whole process was completely clearing the space,
and immediately dealing with the stuff at hand,” Muzzall says. “One box
for donation, one for resale shop, one room for things to keep, and many
large trash bags. When you’re working side-by-side with someone like that,
the albatross that has hung over your head for years melts away.”
In Muzzall’s case, the only things put back into her office were the
things she’d actually be using.
“Nothing else makes its way back into the room,” she confirms, “Connie
does her job incredibly well, and she’ll tell you right up front that
she’ll be tough on you, but also sensitive to your feelings. Now I can
breathe in the much larger space I’m in, and I love my new office - I know
exactly what I have in there, and everything has a specific place. It
feels wonderful.”
For Huizenga, it’s this kind of feedback that both keeps her going, and
helps her keep in mind the many rewards that she gets from helping people
restore order. So far, it’s mostly been referrals that have kept her busy,
but she has plans for 2011 that will expand her business, and pay back her
community, too.
“I have always maintained a successful business by word of mouth,” she
says, “but I am also working on a website, and plan to be involved with
some charities this year. The best offer is a 25-hour package deal that
will save the client $120-200. I also offer certain trades, and I plan to
offer a free day of organizing to charities I support.”

Connie Huizenga’s Details, Et Al may be contacted at 231-330-1777, or via
Huizenga’s email, ppliris63@charter.net. Charges vary based on each
individual project.

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