I haven’t always been this organized ~ it’s true! While I’ve been incredibly organized most of my life, I’ve had seasons where I have barely been able to keep my organized head above water, much less keep things going in the way both I and my family are used to. I’ve been a stay at home Mom turned work from home Mom for 18 1/2 years. I”ve been truly blessed to have what I think has been the best of both worlds ~ time at home with my kids and work that I love. And because I’m here so much, there are many things I do to live well organized each and every day. I’m always tweaking, looking at how we use our space and live our lives to make things run just a smidge more smoothly. And because of that knack for an organized point of view, it makes sense that I started my business and this website. After all, you are supposed to do what you love…and I’m so grateful I do!
Here is what I don’t do. I don’t do clutter. Call it what you will, but as a busy sports Mom of kids with an age range spanning 8 years, I don’t have time for anything we don’t need and neither do they. I don’t do piles. While the other 4 people I live with are fine with leaving things in a pile until they can get to it, I don’t and am constantly working with them to outsmart their own chaos. I don’t do waiting until I feel like it when I can tackle something now. I’m that person who wakes up at 6:30 on Saturday morning and has to fight to stay in bed till 8 attempting to “sleep in”. I make the most of the time I have to keep our lives running smoothly so that I be completely focused on the things we want to enjoy in the moment. And oh how I don’t want to do messy ~ who does? But life can be messy and you and I both know I’m not talking about the mess people make with their stuff. I’m talking emotional messy.
In early 2008 we made a huge business decision to end what had been a modestly successful license partnership. It wasn’t a good fit any longer and while I didn’t know how, I knew it was time to move on. At the same time, two very high profile projects I had so enjoyed and anticipated would carry forward that year did not. In the first 3 months of that year, my entire business platform had shattered. Shortly thereafter, the economy fell apart and I found myself staring at a completely unexpected clean slate. Looking back now, I could not have had more opportunity in my hands if I had tried. Only at that time I couldn’t see the forest through the trees. I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me. I consulted with my closest colleagues, talked with family and friends, and spent many sleepless nights questioning myself, asking God where I had gone wrong, and wondering what was next.
This weekend I found 2 big boxes in the attic full of paperwork that should have never been saved. Old bills, receipts, random personal papers, unrelated things but nothing you’d find necessary to keep for more than 1 month, 1 year, or even 3 years based on those lists financial gurus give us. Nothing overly important, but the details of our lives shoved in a box and put away in the attic. As I opened them up, I was surprised at how much pain was buried inside. These boxes were full of things I couldn’t face because I was having such a hard time dealing with what was right in front of me. I could tell that I had attempted to sort them but gave up actually dealing with the paper at hand or the situations they represented. Life was too messy. I was overwhelmed with too many unexpected changes and left with so many unanswered questions that when it came to processing that paper, I couldn’t cope. I needed them out of my work space and out of my way so I shoved them in a box and am sure I told myself I’d deal with them later. When I wasn’t so stressed. When I could spend more time on them. When I was feeling more confident. When I felt like it.
I can hear you now saying “Molly, its just a few boxes full of old papers ~ what’s the big deal?” Those boxes were full of my emotional mess from that season in my life. Shoving the things I could not change ~ bills and obligations ~ into a box without resolving them. I could have chosen to face them head on by shredding, filing, and dealing with whatever needed to be resolved. But I did not. I look back on that season and my heart will never forget how hard I struggled to keep things going, to manage our home while I had no idea how I would rebuild my business and continue to contribute financially. I will never forget how guilty and ashamed I felt for not being able to contribute financially as we worked to transition our boys from a wonderful private school back into a public school system we had no faith in. And I will never forget how hopeless I felt about the future and that sense of despair stealing my ability to enjoy our children’s lives which were unfolding in front of me every single day.
So I grabbed a glass of wine (yes it was after 5 o’clock!) and began to shred every single piece of paper inside each of those boxes. About half way through I was overcome with how sad it was that I had been so afraid ~ truly afraid, knots in my stomach, not able to sleep at night afraid. How sad it was that I did not trust God as I could have to know that He had this. How sad it was that during that time, I could not accept what I could not change but that I could accept the promise of good things to come in their due time. I have often found comfort in this verse and while I must have prayed it a hundred times during that season, my stubborn “let me fix it heart” often keeps me praying it a hundred more than I might otherwise have needed too.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Looking back now I can so clearly see that this less organized, shove it in a box season in my life was all about trust. I was hiding what I couldn’t change. I was trying to contain what I couldn’t face. I was trying to control what I could not answer. I’m the kind of person who likes to be able to make things work. I’m a doer. I want to fix things. Sometimes you just can’t do that. Sometimes you can only manage things as best you can while they work themselves out. Sometimes you are so completely a passenger and not in charge. And so you have to trust.
Fast forward to today and I am blessed to work in ways I could have never imagined at that time. By all accounts public school has been fantastic for our children. By the grace of God I’m still happily married to my husband of almost 24 years. And I live a generally well organized life ~ okay maybe even exceptionally well organized. And that makes me happy. Being organized has ALWAYS made me happy ~ I have my color coded calendars from high school to prove it. I’m happy when things run well, both in process and structure. I’m happy when I’m able to make life less chaotic and more joy centered. And call me selfish, I’m REALLY happy when I can outsmart the chaos at home because I also give myself the gift of being able to live in the moment, to be joyfully present with my family and to not find my mind in a thousand other places trying to make things right.
Paperwork has no power over you. Its just something you need to do on a regular basis to keep the process of your life running smoothly. Yes its a roadmap of where you’ve been, sometimes unexpectedly and occasionally telling a scary story. But its not the story of your future. Your future is unfolding before your very eyes every single day. Choosing to be organized frees you to live in the moment instead of being held back by your past. Being organized takes work ~ believe me I KNOW how hard it can be. But you can do this. You can totally and completely do this.
So grab a glass of wine, get that shredder out and get rid of what you don’t need. Get rid of the baggage your paperwork represents. Because if you shove it in a box and leave it in the attic for 5 years without even remembering its there OR looking at it even once, your probably don’t need it. And I can promise you with all my heart that you will never need the pain it might represent.
Thanks so much for stopping by~we’ll see you next time!