Review of The Organized Heart: a woman’s guide to conquering chaos

God has appointed all my tasks – my work is planned by Him from the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 2: 9-10) Do all that I do with enthusiasm and purpose because I’m doing it for God. (Colossians 3:23) These are things that I remind myself of often, and that Staci Eastin also thinks of when she goes about daily life. In The Organized Heart she uses her 103 pages well, to with humility and grace, skip the fluff and hone in on why we do what we do. Motives are examined (I can hear you now – I just want to have order so I can think!) and dealt with so we can live our lives with peace in our hearts and heads. (You will be able to think.) From putting things off, to doing something else we’d rather do, to working our fingers to the bone to maintain a ‘perfect’ home, this book has something to say.

Most books on home and life organization are all about the tools we need to get the job done. Staci starts with the heart of the matter, which is our motives. In four chapters, she deals with Perfectionism, Busyness, Possessions and Leisure. Each chapter ends with “Explore” questions to help us see where our hold ups are and what to do about them. After dealing with heart issues she discusses the tools we need – calendars, lists and such. I think the difference is when we deal with our motives first, we use the tools rather than being slaves to them.

If you need a little extra kindness Staci Eastin has that, too. She addresses single moms and those who have health issues. She writes with wisdom about the different seasons in our lives and the fact that our personalities are not all the same. I appreciated her tenderness for those who are discouraged and feel hopeless. This is a book that I will refer back to many times. It is written by a wise woman who knows how to shine light where it needs to be shone in order to help us face ourselves, but who also applies God’s abundant grace to help us heal. I’d rather read this book than any of the other home organization books I’ve read over the years.

Looking for a Way to Clean House That Takes No Time At All

I’ve done FlyLady’s routines – adapted to my own life, which is how we are supposed to use her system, since…oh, wow…since July 4, 2001. I didn’t realize it had been that long! Wow. So, I guess we could say it works for me, huh? Either that, or I like to torture myself.  Nope. It works. I have the Control Journal all fixed up and everything, as well as a notebook for Christmas and another that I put together for all other holidays. Yep, I’m in it.

There is one main thing I have to remember and that is that nothing is in place exactly the same way all the time. There are times that situations change and things have to be tweaked to fit, like this past year. We changed the purposes of two rooms (actually, one of them year before last), my husband had surgery on his wrist and elbow, and I found out the reason my digestive system felt like it had been to a rock concert and my energy level was pretty dismal was diet-related. Add to that the fact that since my husband went back to work (after six weeks off for surgery) he has an ever-changing schedule with sometimes no two days in a week with the same hours – he might go in as early as 7 am or as late as 1:30 pm…it’s just been tough. I still have my Control Journal, but it’s time for a major tweaking.

I’m moving some things to the Afternoon FlyList that were on the Morning one and vice-versa. Also, since I want to spend more time doing things related to art, writing, sewing, garden and yard, this house stuff is going to have to get done really quickly. Just in case you want to know, I won’t be dust mopping floors in the morning; I’m moving that to the Afternoon FlyList. I’d rather get up in the morning with clean floors and be able to get started on those other things that much quicker. Birds are being fed in the afternoon now since I read that suggestion (somewhere) so that they will have food ready for them in the morning after a cold night. This is much better for them since when hubby has worked late, they are out there looking for groceries before I’m even awake. I’m doing the 15 minutes of FACE (Financial Awareness Continually Empowers) in the mornings rather than afternoon, so I can get it behind me. It’s a paperwork/money thing and ignoring this stuff could create problems, but I don’t like messing with it, so if I do it early it’s out of the way for the day.

Since things were being moved all over the house while turning a bedroom into a study and a den into a studio, I figured it was as good a time as any to do a really deep cleaning and reorganizing of the entire house since it was pretty much all involved anyway. This was wall washing and everything! It has taken me a long time (I’ve painted my shed and enlarged our garden and worked on other yard projects, too) but I’m now down to just my closet and bedroom. Then I’ll redecorate the house with pictures and such and be finished. Ha. We know there is never a “Finish” when it comes to house stuff, don’t we?

Since I want to effortlessly maintain what I’ve done, last night and this morning I read an entire book. I gobbled it up! The name of it is “The House That Cleans Itself,” by Mindy Starns Clark. I wish I could borrow a few children so I could do the “Room Ownership” system that she describes. There is more than one way to maintain a clean house and she explains three of them. I don’t have children here, so I’ll have to go with one I can do myself, and it looks like I pretty much have it in place with FlyLady. I just want to get some deep cleaning worked in on a regular basis without it taking much time. In order to do that, I’m going to make Zone Missions (FlyLady thing) part of my deep cleaning routine; maybe I’ll just spend 10 minutes a day tending to shelves or drawers. Since I seem to be a pretty visual person and I forget what I own if I don’t see it, (Mindy Starns Clark is visual, too, so her book was easy for me to relate to) this will be a good way for me to keep up with what I have, and donate what I don’t need on a regular basis.

For anyone who is cleaning challenged, as Mindy and Marla, aka FlyLady, both describe themselves, these two systems are really good. If you aren’t cleaning challenged, but don’t want to spend your entire life cleaning a house, these two systems are really good and I think they integrate pretty well. I’d recommend reading both ladies’ books (Marla Cilley wrote “Sink Reflections”) and websites; they are similar, but each has some different little details that different folks will find helpful. While you are reading, my advice would be to get started on the FlyLady site with her step-by-step missions. You will begin to see progress in small increments and this will motivate you to keep going. Both ladies are great cheer leaders. So…here’s to more time to CREATE (or whatever it is that you want to do) and less time spent cleaning. Sounds good to me!


I have a cat who has ringworm. Fun. So he sheds spores (it’s a fungus) constantly and I clean the house every day. And you know what? If you have to dust your stuff every single day it becomes junk. I am also sweeping and mopping. Every day. (Well, technically, 5-7 days per week….that’s about all my body will hold up to.) And the more I have to sweep and mop around stuff the more I want to get rid of. So, I am. And THAT has me jazzed!

I am also going through cabinets and other storage and guess what? Of course….I’m getting rid of more stuff. I figure if one day God lets me move to West Texas and I don’t want to tote something clear across Texas then I don’t really want it. I am really really having fun with this. At the end of each day I have gathered up stuff that I will have cleaned for the last time and I am thinking of more that I will get rid of the next day! And I’m not a shopper….I have no idea how on earth I accumulated all this stuff. Shoot, I’d rather hike a trail any day than go anywhere near a store!

When Henry David Thoreau lived in the cabin on Walden Pond he said he could get up early in the morning, carry out all the furniture (a bed, a chair, a small table and a chest, if I remember correctly), sweep out his house, carry sand and water from the pond and scrub the floor, rinse it, let it dry and bring his stuff back in and be done with the day’s work by the time the rest of the world was just getting started. I wish I could have known him.

I have been thinking the past few weeks of what I might want to keep if I only lived in one room and had one other room as a studio with art and craft and sewing supplies. I’ve enjoyed reading what different people do to motivate themselves. Yesterday I read about a fellow, Dave Bruno, who has been working on this challenge he gave himself. He wants to get down to only owning 100 things. He calls it the 100 Thing Challenge and he blogs about it. Someone who commented on Dave’s blog said he puts a plastic storage box in the middle of the room and puts stuff from the room into the box. When he’s done he puts the top on and sticks it in his closet for two months. During this time he is adding things from the whole house to the box. Then after two months he goes and opens it up and takes out 1/2 the stuff and gets rid of it.

I heard someone on TV either this morning or yesterday morning say that Americans always want to get out of the house on holidays but with gas prices being what they are more people are staying home. I thought about what one of the declutter gurus said about people buying stuff because they are trying to buy an emotion and create an atmosphere in their homes and it ends up being clutter. So, Americans fill the house with stuff and then run out the door on holidays? Are we nuts?

Thoreau said if someone was walking down the street carrying all he owned in a pack on his back people would say they felt sorry for him because that was all he owned. He said he felt sorry for the guy because he owned ALL THAT. If he had to dust it every day I feel sorry for him, too.

Addendum, 2009: The cat did NOT have ringworm. It was a misdiagnosis. He was sensitive to fleas. I had a ‘crazy clean’ house though.