News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 28, 2013

Workshop provides insight into organizational skills

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — A person’s home, and how it’s organized, tells a story about an individual or family.

“Your home speaks and has a voice,” says  Sheri Bertolini, author, teacher, professional home organizer and speaker.

A home may reveal someone is a neat freak, or the homeowner could be stressed by many responsibilities — and it shows.

Bertolini conducted a six-hour workshop Saturday titled, “My Intentional Life Seminar,” at Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church. The event was sponsored by SPRAK, or Special People Performing Random Acts of Kindness. About 40 people attended.

If clutter can be defined as “postponed decisions,” Bertolini offered suggestions on how to make those tough decisions about what stays, and what goes.

In an interview, she explained that she has been a professional organizer — of homes — for about the past eight years. Over that time, she began to see connections between the heart and the home, she said.

“The home is almost like a 3-D display of your heart,” she said. “If I can start helping women get a clear picture of who they are now, as opposed to who they’ve been in the past — and where they are headed next — then they can start creating a culture in their home that reflects them and supports where they are headed.”

She described Saturday’s seminar as “a spa day, almost, for the heart.”

Bertolini helped those attending create a tool that outlines their current roles, dreams, core values/beliefs and the direction they want to go with their lives.

They walk away with something they can put on their refrigerator and use as a measuring standard for everything in the home  — the way they spend time, choose furniture, arrange the house or make a purchase.  

If that purchase doesn’t measure against the standard they’ve created, “They need to question whether it should come into the house,” she said.

She hopes people leave the workshop with a fresh perspective about what items are important — and what items aren’t.

Among those attending were Trini Barnes and Beth Andrews — who weren’t quite sure what the seminar was about when they signed up. But halfway through, both were enthusiastic and glad they had attended.

“We’re learning how to become better organized and how we shouldn’t allow stuff to control our lives,” Barnes said.

Plain and simple, “We are a consumer-oriented society” that accumulates too much “stuff,” Andrews said. “We can’t live our lives intentionally because of the stuff.”

Managing all those items in the home “consumes way too much of our time,” Andrews said. Her goal now is to “live life more intentionally and get rid of so much stuff.”

Bertolini gave suggestions on how to de-clutter, including being selective about keepsakes based on the finite space available in one’s home.

The seminar also made Andrews aware that often, people hold on to things after they have experienced something traumatic, such as illness, divorce, death or injury.  

Also attending was Susan Hayhurst, who said her word for the year is “intentional.”

“I wanted to learn more about being intentional,” particularly when it comes to  spending time with family, caring for elderly parents or “doing things I’ve put off for years that feed my soul,” she said.

Currently, she is helping her parents — who have moved from Florida — clear out some of the possessions they’ve accumulated through the years.

Bertolini’s advice will help her and her family as they go about the difficult task of deciding what treasures they will keep as well as what items will go.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or