Lisa Geraci Rigoni says a lot of people don’t know why they keep things until they start talking about them.
Whether it’s offloading junk before moving or transforming a home that’s paralyzed by long-forgotten boxes, the professional organizer thrives in giving spaces, and sometimes people, a fresh start.
Rigoni, the founder of an Ashburn-based business, The Organizing Mentors, tells the story of 20 years of working to help clients organize in her book published last month: 17 Spatulas and the Man who Fried an Egg — Reclaim Your Space Mentally and Physically.
“It doesn’t matter to us what you keep, but know why you’re keeping it,” Rigoni says. “A lot of people don’t know why we keep things until we start talking about it.”
At the age of 40, Rigoni was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and with the diagnosis came answers about her tendency to organize.
“I started organizing when I was younger to calm myself and to put order in things around me when I had no control over my emotions or what I was feeling,” she says.
She turned that desire to bring order into a business in 2008, but she says her mentors do more than just color-code clients’ homes.
“We have to find what works for them, and it might not be the prettiest,” she says. “Better Homes and Gardens, is not coming to take photos of their house, but they can find everything and they’re calm.”
Her clients around the DC region include people who are moving, senior citizens, and those dealing with divorce or other unexpected life events.
Rigoni describes a three-story condo belonging to a “hoarder,” as “beyond cluttered,” in the book.
The man, who is referenced in the book’s title, was suffering after experiencing some traumatic events. His home was so crowded with stuff that he was confined to the first floor and couldn’t use the oven or dishwasher.
After working through his emotions tied to his stuff with Rigoni and a therapist, Rigoni says the man’s life was “completely transformed,” along with his space.
“You hold onto things — and this is a lot of my clients — for fear of ‘what’s in that box?’” Rigoni says. “Or for him, the rooms that he just pushed things in and just cluttered up because he was afraid of the memories he would uncover.”
But Rigoni says opening those boxes is often cathartic. She hopes readers feel less alone in their struggles and that they learn to question why they are holding onto stuff, even if they aren’t ready to see what’s inside every box.
“We hold onto stuff to comfort ourselves and support ourselves, and almost cocoon ourselves, if we’re surrounded by pain, so letting those things go is hard. It’s shedding,” she says.
But for others, it’s different.
“Some clients just want to get their cars in their garages,” she laughs.
Rigoni’s book is available on Amazon.
Feature image courtesy Lisa Geraci Rigoni
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