The Creative Mama » inspiring art, encouraging women

The One with the Secret Office Space

I subscribe to Real Simple magazine.  I get party invitations in the mail at least six weeks prior to the event.  I return emails (usually) within 24 hours.  I have spent significant time in the kitchen-organizing aisles of Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  I haven’t lost a single student paper in 22 years of teaching.

I’m not Monica Geller of Friends fame, but I’m pretty close.

Everything has a place–keys on the hook; hats in the basket; plastic plates in one cabinet, ceramic in the other.

And if you’re familiar with Season 8, Episode 14 of Friends, “The One with the Secret Closet,” you’ll soon learn that Monica and I have something else in common–hers was her closet, mine is my workspace.

It’s not pretty, folks.

What you see before you is essentially an armoire–one that I close (sort of, it doesn’t quite close all the way) when company comes; but the rest of the time, there it is, in the middle of my dining room–centrally located, the first thing people see when they walk through the door.

What’s currently in my workspace?  Let’s see . . . lots of photos of my children (those are always there); my cat’s collar (I miss her a lot), a box of Tic Tacs, some White Out, a Kindle that hasn’t been charged in three months, the latest issue of Cooking Light magazine, an OM (you must check these out), a converter from my recent trip to England, a note from my son that says “I LOE YOU MOM,” a bottle of silver nailpolish, and every paper that needs to find an eventual and permanent home.   We won’t discuss the mess on top.  That’s for another day.

Charming little setup, yes?

I’ve had many people ask how I can work in this space.  But, truth be told, I don’t really see it–at least not when I’m working.  It’s my “Monica’s Closet.”  Every organized person needs one–a place to stash anything and everything.

When I’m writing, I’m elsewhere.  I’m in the sentence, the paragraph, the thought.

And during those times of writer’s block or distractibility, when I look up, I don’t see the chaos of this space.  I see photos of my beautiful and growing boys and love notes that melt my heart every time.

For me, an organized workspace is not a prerequisite for creativity.  In fact, when I do take the time to take this all in, I can see in this small space my family’s history and our love for each other, our life together.

And that just may be precisely the inspiration I need.

About Samantha

Samantha Hines lives with her family in Newport, RI, and is a high school English teacher (twenty-four years and running). In the last several years, she has published in ADDitude and Adoptive Families magazines; and her blog, My Three Sons, was named by Adoptive Families as one of the Top Twenty Adoption Blogs on the internet. She is also the author of "Different Drummer," a blog about her son who was recently diagnosed with ADHD. In September 2012, she began her Ph.D. in Humanities at Salve Regina University. You can follow My Three Sons on Facebook and her blog at

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  • Iiona Virgin

    That is so funny, reminds me of my posts a few weeks ago about my corner…

  • Valerie Westfall

    Now I too can come freely out of the closet…my “Monica’s closet” It feels great to be in the company of other organized women with seeminly disorganized work spaces! Fun article.

  • Carol

    This could be why we each had our own desk when we shared a classroom!

  • Love this post.

  • Bethcullen

    Okay, I’m going to confess something…when I reviewed/uploaded the photos my husband took at Samantha’s wonderful birthday party last Saturday night, I was thrilled to see all the happy, friendly, laughing faces in the room — then, I noticed the jumbled mess on top of the closed and very attractive amoire. Normally, at five and a half feet tall, I wouldn’t be high enough to see this mess, but my husband stands at 6’2″, and the photographs taken from his perspective, were close to eye-level with the mangled pile atop this otherwise lovely piece of furniture. Prior to seeing the photographs, I noted to myself — ‘Wow, Samantha’s home is so neat and tidy — she has mastered keeping everything in its place in this rather small cottage — good on her!’ Then, after seeing this mess — and her coming “clean” in this article — I love her even more now that she’s opened up about her secret stash-ey places!

  • Rana

    I love this. I’m not the only one. Only mine is on my laptop. All of the saved articles, files, folders, photos. This is my hidden closet.

  • Kathy

    Thank you for sharing Samantha! I’m working on organizing my sewing room (once again) but other than getting frustrated when I can’t find something I know I have – I don’t let the disorganization intrude on my creative work!

  • Revhines1

    When confronted with the fact that this is it, then all you can do is, improvise, adapt, and overcome, (Marine motto) And in Samantha’s case what can I say but, it’s in her genes. Looks good to me!