That was then. This is now.

Sunrise Photo

The Christmas holiday has passed and I turn my thoughts and actions towards the new year that’s around the corner.  I find myself meditating more often as I contemplate where I am going in life.


During a late night mediation, it became clear that it is time to tell the world about my journey over the past 13 months.  You see, unbeknownst to most in my life, I went through a huge life transformation during this past year.



My marriage of 30 years had fallen apart and although I was living in the same house with my husband, we had been living separate lives for over a year.  It was what felt like a precursor to the dissolution of our marriage.

My relationship with my two adult sons was strained at best; they were busy living their independent lives and didn’t want to get in the middle of their parents’ relationship issues.  What kid wants to acknowledge that his parents are breaking up?  My interactions with them weren’t very fulfilling for the most part; they left me empty and feeling alone much of the time.

I felt there was something more, but didn’t know how to make the changes to find out what it was.  During therapy, I was encouraged to separate from everyone in order to return to an independent way of living and explore what I really wanted out of life.



The catalyst to change came about when Thanksgiving loomed in front of me and no one wanted to celebrate in a traditional way.  A lot of emotions were stirred up in response to that reaction and to exacerbate this heightened emotional response I faced an ultimatum from my husband: continue living in no man’s land or leave (since he had no intention of doing so).

And so I left.

I rented a house out of state for a fresh start.

I filled my car with as much personal belongings as I could.

I temporarily secured my canine companion and

said a tearful goodbye to my sons, my home and the town I had lived in for 30 years.



Over the next 6 months I would be required to make so many life changes that it was like I had been through BOTH a hurricane and tornado all at once.

The future I had envisioned at the beginning of my husband’s retirement and after I became an empty nester no longer existed.  My future had to be redesigned, but I was no where near ready to think about it as I was just struggling to get through each day.

Somehow I managed to survive those beginning days.

It was one step at a time, one task at a time, one room at a time … some days even one thought at a time.

I outfitted the house with the basic necessities to live and slowly moved most of my personal belongings and small furniture from the home I left.  I traveled back to that home several times throughout the year, each time dissolving a different tie.

I muddled through several passing illnesses, a few minor surgeries and established myself with a team of medical doctors to handle my health conditions.

I survived.  And…



My life continues to change…even grow.  I’m continuously learning about myself every day.

I am finally settled into a house that I now consider home.  I’ve become familiar with the area and although I’m not sure it will be my ‘forever’ location, it will do for now.

I’ve spent a great deal of time over the past year understanding my inner emotions and dealing with the effect they’ve had on my psyche. I’ve healed many hurts as well as resolved several lingering childhood issues.

I’m working on making my relationship with my sons stronger & healthier; setting boundaries and holding them accountable while expressing how I feel at times and not allowing anyone to diminish those feelings.

I created a temporary backyard garden for creative inspiration and even put up decorations for the Christmas holiday this year.  The house feels more like a home than a just a temporary residence and I find this grounds me.

I’ve even started rethinking my business and taken baby steps to change its direction.  As well as (and this one’s the big Kahuna) I’m starting to plan for next year; defining personal dreams to explore and detailing business goals, all through a vision board.

I’m embracing life as it is now.  So…



The ending is unclear.  I consider my life a work in progress and I’m okay with that.

I haven’t completely figured out where my marriage is going.  Is it ready to be dissolved or can it be resurrected?  The answer I’m not sure of yet, but I DO know that I will know what it is when it’s time for me to know it.

I realize that the beauty of designing one’s own life is that you can change it at anytime.  For only YOU are the writer of your own novel and YOU get to write each chapter and the ending however you choose and as many times as you like.

So, finally, I am able to tell the story of That was then…This is now.

And I can easily say that I’m pleased with how it reads….for now!




LIST-A-PALOOZA: 90 Day List Building Challenge


The 3 Phases of Growing Your E-mail List

by PJ Van Hulle

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How do you go from no e-mail list at all, to adding a few people here and there, to adding hundreds or thousands at a time?

Here are the 3 phases of list-building and some of the most effective list-building tactics in each stage…

PHASE 1:  Getting Started

When you’re just starting out, it is recommended to reach out to your sphere of influence and inviting them to receive your special newsletter or tips (whatever valuable free goody you offer on an ongoing basis).

Here are some places to start:

  • Stacks of business cards you’ve collected
  • Contacts in Gmail (or whatever e-mail provider you have)
  • People in your cell phone
  • Facebook friends
  • LinkedIn connections

Send them an e-mail message to reconnect, inviting them to opt in to your list.  I’ll share some specific templates for this in the Opening Ceremonies call of the List-a-Palooza 90 Day List-Building Challenge.

By the way, you need PERMISSION to add someone to your e-mail list.  Otherwise, it’s considered spam.  When someone gives you their business card, it does NOT mean they’ve opted in to your list (unless they specifically say, “Here’s my card… please add me to your list.”)

PHASE 2:  Launching

Just like a rocket uses most of its fuel to get off the ground, adding the first 1,000 people to your list is the hardest, in my opinion.

You can accelerate your results in this stage by asking for referrals, regularly posting on social media, public speaking, attending networking events, and investing in paid advertising, like Facebook ads.

If you’re really ambitious, you can add hundreds or thousands of people to your list in a relatively short period of time by hosting a tele-summit where the speakers that you’re interviewing help promote the event.

PHASE 3:  Leverage

As your list gets bigger and bigger, it’s easier to find strategic alliances and affiliates with bigger lists to promote you and vice versa.Once you have an online sales funnel that converts well, it’s less scary to invest more money in paid advertising as well.  Therefore, once you’ve reached this stage, it’s a lot easier to add hundreds or thousands of people to your list at a time.


The intention with List-a-Palooza 90 Day List-Building Challenge is that it will help you get to Phase 3 more quickly or accelerate your results in Phase 3, if you’re already there.  Join us in the challenge today!


Picture of PJ Van Hulle

   PJ Van Hulle is an acclaimed international speaker and author who works with speakers, coaches and   consultants who love what they do but get frustrated with the marketing part. She is the creator of the List-a-Palooza 90 Day List-Building Challenge.

LIST-A-PALOOZA: 90 Day List Building Challenge


List-a-Palooza Banner



By PJ Van Hulle

You’ve probably heard that, “the fortune is in the follow up,” but if you’re like most of the 1,000’s of entrepreneurs I’ve worked with over the last 11 years, your follow up systems leave something to be desired.

Here’s why
“the fortune is in the follow up,”
and what that looks like…

According to my friend and online marketing expert, Vrinda Normand, in most niche markets, or the specific group of people you serve:

    • 3% are actively shopping for what you offer
    • 7% are aware and open to your services, but not looking
    • 30% are not aware of their problem or your solution
    • 30% may know you exist, but it’s not the right time
    • 30% are simply not a fit

This means that if you’re not following up, you’re leaving behind the 67% of people that might be ready to sign up for your products or services down the road!

When you follow up consistently, you will STAY IN FRONT of these people.  Maybe they’re not ready now, but when they are ready, you’ll be at the top of their mind and therefore you’ll be the one they hire over someone that didn’t follow up.

Imagine how much more money you could put in your pocket just by staying in touch with those 67% of people who may need you in the future.

The easiest and most effective way to follow up and nurture those relationships is to build an e-mail list of clients and potential clients who have “opted in” and given you permission to send them e-mails.

A good rule of thumb for monetizing your list is to shoot for $1 per subscriber, per month.  So if your goal is to generate $10,000 per month in income, focus on growing your e-mail list to 10,000 subscribers.

With a profitable e-mail list you can:

● Fill your seminars and programs

● Attract more clients and sales

● Turn current clients into repeat clients

● Promote other peoples’ programs that you believe in and earn $1,000′s in affiliate commissions

Building your list is like taking advantage of compound interest.  The sooner you start, the better.  And the longer you nurture your list, the more profitable it will be.

To quantum leap your e-mail list to the next level, I recommend participating for FREE in the List-a-Palooza 90 Day List-Building Challenge.

Picture of PJ Van HullePJ Van Hulle is an acclaimed international speaker and author who works with speakers, coaches and consultants who love what they do but get frustrated with the marketing part. She is the creator of the List-a-Palooza 90 Day List-Building Challenge.



I’m so excited to share with you an amazing challenge that just started! During the month of April, I will be participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge hosted by Michelle Shaeffer and Michele Scism.  Let me tell you what it is all about!


This is a 30 day challenge of daily blog writing.  It is designed to encourage the daily habit of blogging, motivating the development of creative writing and help spread each participant’s message while connecting with other amazing bloggers.


I chose to participate in this activity because I have always been motivated by  challenge and have been trying to sharpen my writing skills.  Since I missed the last challenge, I made certain to calendar this one early.  It’s certainly going to be interesting trying to keep up with the daily accountability, but I really think the effort will be worth it and may even turn out quite interesting!


What will be so different, you may ask?  If you are checking in frequently on the blog here at LS & Co, you will find three things different this month:

  • There will be more posts to read (that’s a plus, isn’t it?)
  • There will be many different types of posts (funny, inspirational or even sad) and not always connected to organizing or business.
  • You will find some interesting things about me personally (personal based posts are welcomed)


By participating in this awesome challenge, I’m hoping to widen the reach of the blog, develop more skill with my own writing (which I love to do), build connections with other like-minded individuals and share the amazing benefits of organizing.

I want this blog to not only be instructional and motivational, but have dimension.  Most importantly, I want the readers to get know the face behind the writing and connect with me to build a relationship.  Lofty goals I agree, but I was always one to shoot for the stars and settle for the moon!

I hope I’ve piqued your interest and you’ll CHECK BACK OFTEN to read what I’ll create for you.  To make it easier, why don’t you SIGN UP to receive our blog posts & newsletter (targeted launch is April) directly into your inbox!  CLICK HERE (to sign up).

I begin this amazing challenge with great excitement and hope you’ll join me on my journey.

P.S. If you’re interested in joining this challenge with me (and so many other wonderful bloggers) CLICK the image below to find out more.




Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who are still suffering the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Our blog has been quiet during this week and we have not posted a great deal as we’ve been working through our own issues with the storm. However, we have not encountered anything that was not easily solved within a short period of time; it’s quite humbling.

It saddened us to watch the news and see that those in our extended community did not fare as well and we have been thinking all week how we, as a company, can do our part to help those who are in need of what we have in abundance. The answer came when we read on Facebook that members of our local fire department were collecting donations that they would personally deliver to dropoff points in Queens and Staten Island, NY. Our company, along with my family members, quickly decided to take action and contribute to this local effort.

Together, we created 25 personal hygiene bags which were dropped off to the local fire department for delivery tomorrow. What an awesome feeling to think that somewhere someone will be able to brush their teeth and feel clean for the first time in a week or more because of our care package! We truly are proud to be a part of our local community’s relief efforts.

Check out our pictorial below where you can see how we created our donation packages. Several of us worked together to shop, assemble and deliver the packages; with many hands the work was light and the time was short. Our company, family and generous benefactors pooled resources to pay for the products and packaging; a donation was even received from Walmart! Combining all of our efforts eliminated one person/business having to bear the brunt of the expense. We hope the simplicity of how one small act from each of us will inspire you to do the same!

Packages of Travel Sized Products

Purchased travel sized personal hygiene products for the packages.

Gallon & quart sized zippered plastic bags

Used gallon & quart sized, zippered, plastic bags as the “package container”.

Assembly line of products

Organized the products into a production line for quicker assembly of packages.

Final product

Created personalized hygiene care packages customized for men and women.

As a small company, we’ve done what we could afford, but we do not want to stop here.  We would like to continue our efforts to help those in need, especially our canine and feline friends who also may be without life necessities or displaced and separated from their families; they are tired, hungry and alone – THEY NEED OUR HELP!

“Animals are such agreeable friends — they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.” — George Eliot


Alone we can only climb a small hill, but
TOGETHER we can climb an entire mountain!

PEARLS OF WISDOM to First Time Students Moving to a Dorm Room


Heading off to college and staying in a dorm room for the first time can be very challenging, stressful and even a little bit scary.  Students experience such a variety of challenges during this time:  lack of space, storage issues, living without amenities, keeping things organized and clean, lack of privacy – the list can go on and on.  I’ve put together a few tips to this make this process easier, less stressful and even fun!  I call them my Pearls of Wisdom….

PEARL #1 – LESS IS MORE: Resist the urge to bring “everything but the kitchen sink” from home!   The best thing to do is bring only the absolute necessities needed to live for the next few weeks (as if you were going on a trip).  This premise should also apply to sports equipment; only bring what is needed for the current season, not the next.  Keep in mind there will be a break in a few weeks and out of season items can always exchange things when students visit home during the break.

PEARL #2 – A LITTLE TIME NOW SAVES MORE LATER:  Plan on spending at least some of the first day setting up the room and putting away what was brought; factor in an additional period at a later time in the week, also.  Take advantage of having help during move-in weekend, too, by setting up the most difficult items and organizing the most important spaces.  Let those who came with you help; that’s what they came for.  If the student doesn’t have assistance, connect with another student and help each other move in.

PEARL #3 – USE YOUR SPACE WISELY: Take advantage of listening to tips from those who came before the student. Returning students have usually tested out all the room configurations and found what works best and RAs (resident assistants) are happy to share their wealth of experience (since it’s usually the third year they’ve been rooming in a dorm).  Some colleges even post suggested room layouts on their website.  Most importantly keep the layout simple and be prepared to make changes later in the semester.

PEARL #4 – MAXIMIZE STORAGE AREAS: Use bed risers to raise the bed and create storage underneath; the height of risers used will determine how much storage you’ll gain and what storage containers to use.  One set allows for a 7” container with wheels, two sets allows for a 12” (26 gallon) container and loft kits will open up space for a desk and chair.  Don’t forget to maximize the closet space: double hangers or closet rod extenders create more than one area to place hangers and are a great organizing tool. 

PEARL #5 – THE STURDIER THE BETTER:   Be careful of purchasing too many inexpensive products; instead opt to purchase items that will withstand the rigors of college living.  These could include Huggable Hangers®, 4 tier swing arm hangers, rolling wooden drawers or a closet dresser (both available from a home improvement store).  Investing in products for the long term will be more cost effective and save a lot of time and aggravation with the need for less replacement.

PEARL #6 – IT’S NOT CAST IN STONE: Don’t think that organizing a dorm room is a one shot deal; it will take some time to customize the room and to make it comfortable for the student.  Keep expectations realistic and stay flexible; be prepared to make changes as time goes on.  The first year of dorm living always involves a huge learning curve as students find out what works best for them.

These pearls of wisdom should provide the student some simple and straightforward strategies to meet the challenge of living in a dorm residence for the first time.  The student should now be able to reduce the stress that the challenges might create and alleviate the anxiety of a new environment.  He/she will now be able to enjoy creating a new home, learning all about school life and experiencing this new adventure; by the end of the school year, they won’t even remember that they once thought it was even difficult!

Be sure to step over to our Recommended Product Section for a list of organizing products suggested by area local post-graduate students.  Let us know if there’s any suggested products that you have found helpful … we’ll be happy to add it to our list.  Here’s to a successful school year!