How Cleaning My Garage Changed My Life: A Marie Kondo Blog

How Cleaning My Garage Changed My Life: A Marie Kondo Blog

When Marie Kondo published The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, her approach to de-cluttering and organization shook the world. Her small guide details her method of tidying, the ways in which she discovered it, and why all other ways of tidying are wrong. She refers to specific cleaning engagements or purges as the KonMari Method.

Kondo promises that “When you’ve finished tidying your home, your life will change dramatically. Your relationships will improve, your ambition will thrive, and your career path will clear.” She even adds that this kind of activity will improve your health not only mentally, but also physically, in the form of clearer skin and rejuvenated energy.

After reading such a profound book – one eons ahead of its time – I felt called to have my own KonMari session. Staring at my garage, which has needed a serious overhaul since before I can remember, I decided to test the practice out and see if Kondo really does know her stuff.

My Garage Purge

Tackling any kind of massive cleaning project can seem daunting and overwhelming, that’s why so many of us put it off. But I attacked my garage head-on, just as Kondo said to do, aiming to take no prisoners. That’s what I promised myself when I woke up that morning, suited up, grabbed the cleaners, and waded into the garage.

Cleaning out rooms, and in my case the garage, is actually incredibly therapeutic. As Kondo promises, less is more, and the more items you clear out and de-clutter, the happier you’ll actually be. I found the more I cleaned my garage, the happier I became. I felt like I was shedding negative feelings and memories, making way for a cleaner, more organized future.

As the garage became emptier and emptier, I felt more joy flood my heart. I didn’t want to stop. I cleaned and sorted and organized for hours, until a brand new room was looking back at me. It was a euphoric sensation that Kondo details numerous times in her guide.

The secret to the KonMari Method is that you are not deciding what to get rid of, you are only deciding what to keep. Instead of deciding if something is worth throwing out, you only focus on the items that bring you joy and happiness. Everything else must go.

Cleaning my garage changed my life. I’m writing this blog to share my story, and hopefully inspire others to give the KonMari Method a try.


Understanding the Child Health Continuum: Wellness vs. Adverse Childhood Experiences

Wellness vs. Adverse Childhood Experiences

One of the common threads throughout Social Work is how no one is an island, a stand-alone, nor an independent unit, but is co-existing and co-participating within society as a whole. Therefore, it is essential to look at all of the members of a community as valuable and to help the struggling to regain the strength within themselves, and not to forget that if they are not supported, the effect it can have on the individual and society as a whole. One of the most impactful topics is of how adverse childhood experiences (ACE) effect wellness. This is a brief look at defining the health continuum in adults and children, how adverse childhood experiences can occur anywhere along that continuum, which can lead to children getting involved with the courts and foster care.

Before one can understand what is abnormal, it is essential to define what is normal, both physically and mentally. The principles of the World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition. Healthy development of the child is of basic importance; the ability to live harmoniously in a changing total environment is essential to such development. The extension to all peoples of the benefits of medical, psychological and related knowledge is essential to the fullest attainment of health.” ( Thus, one is said to be on a health continuum, where wellness is more than the absence of disease. This process is called the Illness-Wellness Continuum, which is meant to work in harmony with the treatment paradigm.

The Illness-Wellness Continuum was first developed in 1972 by Dr. John Travis from U.S. Public Health Service Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. The treatment paradigm involves being sick vs. absence of illness, which indicates wellness. The Illness-Wellness Continuum is more than being not sick but enjoying life. The treatment paradigm, which includes options like medications, surgery, psychotherapy, can alleviate symptoms of diseases. The wellness paradigm can move one toward higher levels of wellness and is not meant to replace the treatment paradigm, but to work in harmony with it. Treatment is still required for the sick, but it shouldn’t stop there, one should continue trying to achieve higher degrees of wellness: Wellness is not a static state. It is not so much where one is on the continuum, but the consistent actions toward improving, which does not mean never being sick again.

Defining good health can be complicated. Physical health is anything pertaining to the body. Mental health would refer to people’s cognitive and emotional well-being. Simply stated, good health would be a combination of both physical and mental health and would be exhibited in a person who does not have any physical or mental disorders.

Child health is even more specific. Concerning child health, it is a continuum which starts at conception continuing to the prenatal period and birth, then progressing to infant/toddler/school age developmental, physical, cognitive and social milestones, and ending at adulthood. If a child falls off of the health continuum at any point, the results can be called adverse childhood experiences (ACE). In 1998, the Kaiser Health Facility in Los Angeles did a study of ACE initially in 17,000 people. The study showed that early stress predicted chronic health problems in adults by compromising immune systems and speeding up disease processes causing premature aging.


The ACE Study measures ten types of childhood traumas. Five are personal, including physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect. Five are related to other family members, including one who is incarcerated, an alcoholic, experiencing domestic violence, or has a mental illness, and the disappearance of a parent through divorce, death or abandonment.

An evidence-based screening test was created to measure the number of these ACE traumas that an individual child has experienced. The test results in an overall ACE score that summarizes the number of ACE a child has suffered. Using the ACE score, one can identify likely effects on physical (various cancers, diabetes, heart and lung diseases) and emotional health (alcoholism, drug abuse, depression). A high ACE score can indicate the likely presence of these physical and mental effects that can culminate with the early death of twenty years younger than the average population.

Although some stress benefits and prepares children for future challenges, trauma and chronic, constant stress can affect developing brains. Trauma causes the amygdala, the brain’s alarm system, to engage, triggering the fight or flight mechanism, referred to as the autonomic nervous system. It is important to note that adults and children experience stress differently. Adults can regulate initial reactions to stress using coping mechanisms from previous experiences, but these coping mechanisms have not yet developed in children. Unresolved stores of stress-related hormones released by the brain’s activated amygdala during stress stimulate diseases.

Children do not always remember every adverse experience, but their bodies do, which can cause long-term harm to physical and mental health, and they do not just “get over it” when they become adults. There are four ways trauma can overload a child’s developing system. These four ways are stress hormones increases, immune system changes, neurological changes, and epigenetic changes.


According to Harvard University’s Center for the Developing Child, the first change is the hormones. These include the often referred to as the “stress hormones,” cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones that help one’s response to danger, and have the most significant impact during brain development, especially if they remain at high levels for long periods. The second change is a compromised immune system. The results are increased susceptibility to infections, allergies, and inflammatory reactions. The third change is possible neurological deficits, which can involve vision, hearing, language, and cognitive ability. The final change is regarding epigenetics since one’s environment, and stress levels affect which genes turn on and off. Although there are undoubtedly many negative aspects of adverse childhood experiences, prior to the ACE Study, people with high ACE scores often reported various physical and mental health issues, but they lacked a concise way to communicate the impact of these experiences. Knowing one’s ACE score has subsequently streamlined communications with their health care providers, resulting in Trauma-Informed Care. Another benefit is that besides a freeing feeling from recognizing that all of these seemingly unconnected physical and mental health issues occurred from adverse childhood experiences, knowing one’s ACE score can increase one’s self-understanding and can improve the effectiveness of treatment, including therapy, if necessary.

An exciting aspect of the brain’s self-healing is called neuroplasticity, which is the rewiring and development of new coping skills. One of the best ways to heal from trauma is from resilient thinking. Resiliency is learned, and people can be taught to bounce back from adversity, accept change, actively move towards goals, self-nurture using exercise, nutrition, getting adequate sleep. The good news is that through the knowledge that the body and brain had been harmed by the biological impact of early emotional trauma, one can move toward reducing early adversity. ACE scores do not have to be a life sentence. Even if one has been set on high reactive mode for decades or a lifetime, it can still be dialed down. Additionally, the knowledge of ACE scores can be incorporated into public policy to prevent childhood trauma, promote resiliency to improve physical and mental health. For children, having a resilient parent, or consistent caregiver, who understands good parenting and child development, can be protective.



Photography and Our Perception of It

People often ask me about photography and express various opinions about my photos.

As with anything, the more passionate you are about a topic, the more effort you’ll put in and most likely, the better you’ll be at it.

But, I get the impression that people already know that to be good at photography it takes effort –they’re just lazy and want a quick answer.

The quick answer is:

Just point your iPhone 8 Plus at something and press the white button, but first make sure to wipe your camera clean.

What is photography?

The quick answer is:

Photography is the science, art, application and practice of creating durable images by recording light or other electromagnetic radiation, either electronically by means of an image sensor, or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as photographic film.

Typically, a lens is used to focus the light reflected or emitted from objects into a real image on the light-sensitive surface inside a camera during a timed exposure. With an electronic image sensor, this produces an electrical charge at each pixel, which is electronically processed and stored in a digital image file for subsequent display or processing. The result with photographic emulsion is an invisible latent image, which is later chemically “developed” into a visible image, either negative or positive depending on the purpose of the photographic material and the method of processing. A negative image on film is traditionally used to photographically create a positive image on a paper base, known as a print.

This process is called film photography.

In 1991, Kodak released the first commercially available digital single lens reflex camera, which changed the way we currently take and edit.

Digital imaging uses an electronic image sensor to record the image as a set of electronic data rather than as chemical changes on film. An important difference between digital and chemical photography is that chemical photography resists photo manipulation because it involves film and photographic paper, whilst digital imaging is a highly manipulative medium. This difference allows for a degree of image post-processing that is comparatively difficult in film-based photography and permits different potentials and apps.

Let’s not forget about the variety of devices available in the world today. There’s compact digital cameras, digital SLR cameras, mirror-less cameras, action cameras, 360 cameras, film cameras, and the list goes on. Every single one of these devices captures light, proportions, and images differently, adding to photography variation.

Digital photography dominates the 21st century. More than 99% of photographs taken around the world are through digital cameras, increasingly through smartphones.

Understanding the technology of film photography and how color was eventually added is important in regards to how we currently edit photos. Without an understanding of what you can expect from a camera and a photo, it is almost impossible to consistently get your photos to look a specific way.

Thanks to photo-editing apps and software, you can apply filters with different lighting, shadowing, and coloring effects built in. On VSCO, IG, Mextures, Photoshop, and even the iPhone 8 Plus has some significant photo editing, you can not only choose filters based on color palettes that complement the person and/or setting the best, adding another layer of photographic editing that can dramatically change the picture, you can also add features to the picture that you would have added had you had the proper setting. For example, you can post-add all of the ISO and F-Stop features, like exposure, flash, sunlight, clarity, sharpen, etc. You can even post-add a cleaner lens by using the “dehaze” feature.

Photography As We Know It Today

It seems the world revolves around photography today, with social media, especially platforms like Facebook and Instagram, placing special emphasis on photographs posted and collected on each individual profile.

But knowing about the essentials of photography isn’t the whole picture.

Drama regarding photography occurs, especially on social media apps, because most people are lacking a basic understanding of how a physiology and psychology effect a photograph. This includes how the eye works and processes light and images, how the brain perceives that image, and how to develop a personal perspective and choose subject matter. Also, since everyone has access to various devices and aesthetics, all of the emphasis placed on photography isn’t grounded in any consistent standard. Additionally, since we all see and view the world differently every single day, what we view as important varies from person to person and what another person expects from pictures varies greatly.

For example, a lot of people still expect the olden-timey landscape photos with Ma & Pa Kettle in the middle saying “cheese” with big grins as the Gold Standard.

It’s important to understand how we individually process images and how even a slight variation can change everything.

Here’s the step-by-step process:

  1. Light Entrance:

Through the cornea, light enters our eye, bringing in the surroundings around it. Passing through the iris, the light immediately flips, showing a backwards image to the retina. The retina then takes the light and sends electrical signals to the brain via the optic nerve. The brain actually processes the signal and makes sense of what you are actually looking at. The retina is a complex part of the optic system, containing a variety of cells that process colors, as well as black and white shadowing.

  1. Brain Perception

The images sent along the optic nerve then reach the brain, traveling from the lateral geniculate nucleus to the primary visual cortex, which is located in the occipital lobe. When the information is in the primary visual cortex, your brain starts to reconstitute that image, and send you the information that your eyes use to make sense of what is around you.

  1. Pathology:

Everything stated above assumes everything is working correctly, which is almost never the case. The camera, the conditions and usually even something as simple as the lens is dirty. Everyone has physiological differences from each other; no two people are made the same.

Even something as benign as height changes someone’s perspective.

But let’s factor in just a few pathological examples

ie. pathologies in Cranial Nerves (CN) 2, 3, 4 & 6.

CN 2: Anopsia: visual field deficits

CN 3: Ptosis, Diplopia, Loss of Parallel Gaze, External Strabismus, Midriasis, Cyclopegia

CN 4: Weakness looking down, Diplopia

CN 6: Diplopia, Internal Strabismus, Medial Eye Deviation, Loss of Parallel Gaze, Pseudoptosis

AND THAT’S JUST A FEW OF THE CN PATHOLOGIES. We haven’t even begun on Visual Pathway Pathologies, Neurological Pathologies and Perceptual Pathologies including Psychiatric Pathologies.

  1. Subject Matter:

When someone goes to an event, for example, what each person decides to focus on varies from person to person. Personally, I know that everyone there is going to be taking the olden-timey landscape-type pictures with the people in the middle saying “cheeeese” with big grins on their faces, so I point my camera at the lighting or the shadows or something that catches my eye.

Plus, there are a zillion different subject matters presented to you in a singular photo. Whether it’s the background, the eyes, the mouth, a purse, or a cloud, you choose what you focus your attention on. That’s how one singular painting can have so many different impressions on different people. As part of your brain perception, you have a personal way of processing and recognizing the subject matter in your life.

  1. Personal Point of View

On top of all of that, point of view needs to be considered. Point of view refers to the position the camera is in when viewing a scene. Is the angle coming from the ground, eye level, or a bird’s eye view? Whichever point of view is selected impacts the final image greatly, changing angles, lighting, and an overall perspective of the subject matter. A blade of grass can look like a skyscraper, and a skyscraper can look like a tiny house if shot from above in a helicopter.

Photographic Variation

The moral of the story is: between personal perception, the optic pathway and brain perception, photography devices, photo editing, and photography skill and expectations, there is great variation in what you see on social media compared with what your friends see.


Visual Perceptions

#NOFILTER: Why We’re Obsessed With Editing Our Social Media Photos

If you’ve never edited, photo-shopped, or applied a filter to a photo before posting it to social media, then you’re in the minority. Studies all over the world, like one from, have confirmed that more than 50% of women on social media admit to doctoring their photos before posting them to sites. With photography editing and photo-shopping apps available for free today, it’s easier than ever before for anyone to brighten up lighting, and remove any blemishes on their skin.

Optic Distortion

Not everyone perceives visuals the same way as others. From a scientific standpoint, the eye filters light, colors, and shadows uniquely. What you see when you look at an object outside may not appear exactly the same to the person next to you. We take in sights through our respective optic tracts, which bend and distort lighting to process what we view around us. We then deliver that information to the brain, and the brain gets the “final say” in what we actually see every day.

Essentially, your brain has its own “filter” that’s applied to photos before any doctoring even happens. It’s this visual variation that contributes to aggressive photo editing tendencies today.

Media Pressure

It’s inevitable having everyone edit his or her photos today. Why? The media has been distorting reality for decades now. Back in the 1920s, a photo was a still shot of a person, existing in real-time, with a flash. Today, we have difference lenses, time frames, make-up, photo shopping, fans, professional lighting, and the list goes on. What we see as real isn’t really real at all. It’s an illusion.

The fashion and media industries have been concocting this narrative for some time, as we see time and time again celebrities photo shopped to look 20 pounds lighter. Naturally, we’re going to start to do it, too.

Does It Really Matter?

This brings us to the final point of the article: so what if people want to edit their photos? Personally, whatever makes people feel better about themselves with more body confidence at the end of the day is fine with me. If celebrities, heads of state, and media personnel get to project this perfect image at their discretion, then everyday people deserve the same kind of freedom.

“Realness” ended with the advent of social media. Nothing is in real-time (except Live Video), filters are applied, video editing is cut, sounds are muted, fake news is created, and the list goes on. We can’t demand that photos remain “real” while the rest of the content on social media is anything but real.

Stay Vigilant

The best thing people, especially young girls, can do today is educate themselves on photo-editing practices so they are aware when they are viewing a doctored photo. Distorted image reality can contribute to weight dysmorphia and eating disorders; so instead of ignoring this widespread trend, it’s time we embrace it and learn more about identifying edits from a mile away.

It’s perfectly fine to embrace the #NOFILTER trend on social media right now. But if you want to edit your photos, that’s ok, too. Just take everything with a grain of salt.