Getting organized

What do you need?

I know it’s trendy right now to get organized. I know that’s a thing. But I’ve never been very good at following trends, so let me challenge that for a minute.

Let me tell you how I used to be. I used to think I had all the answers. I used to have a perfectly kept house. I used to scrub my shower until I could eat from it and fold all my laundry and put it away while it was still warm from the dryer. I used to alphabetize my DVDs (back when DVDs were a thing).

Let me tell you how I am now. There’s a stack of shoes by my back door that sometimes creeps out under the dining table, causing us to trip so we toss them back under the buffet. There’s currently three full laundry baskets awaiting folding that my family rifled through this morning to get ready for their day. My desk is covered with a stack of months of backed up filing, paperwork, and keepsakes from my boys’ school projects.

What happened? Life. That’s what. And it is good.

Life got very real for me. I lost all control of every little thing. I spun down and down and down into darkness so deep and scary and unknown that I thought I’d die. But I didn’t. In fact, the exact opposite happened. I finally – finally! – learned to live.

Because here’s the thing… If your priorities are a perfectly kept house and alphabetized filing systems, you’re getting it all wrong. There’s nothing wrong with wanting things to be neat and tidy. And there’s something to be said for having your poop in pile.

If you look in my closet, it’s still very orderly. Everything still has its place. I grew up with a hoarder. I will always be averse to clutter and collecting things I don’t need. If it doesn’t serve a purpose, I get rid of it. I still get satisfaction from putting things in their proper place.

But let’s keep it in perspective. There is more to life than sorting stuff. The goal is to minimize your stuff so you can get on with living. Get rid of all the stuff you don’t need so you can focus on what you DO need.

What do you need?

You need just enough clothes to cover your back. They don’t need to be name brand. They don’t need to shine and shimmer and impress everybody else. If you want to look pretty or shiny because that’s who you are, then by all means, shine away! But think about why you’re doing it. Is it for you, or for them? For you is okay. For them, not so much.

You need healthy food to sustain yourself. You don’t need Pinterest worthy meals that look good on camera. You don’t need gourmet meatballs. You don’t need restricted diets unless the doctor says so. You also don’t need Twinkies or Doritos or Snickers or Diet Coke. Just eat the healthy stuff because it’s good for you, and enjoy a little ice cream with the kids now and then.

You need a roof over your head. You don’t need to keep up with the neighbors, or the president of the PTA, or that guy that shows up at the gym in an Escalade every morning, or your dentist. Are you warm and dry? Do you have running water, proper sanitation, electricity, heat? Bonus points for air conditioning. Then you’re better off than 90 percent of the rest of the world’s population. You’re doing just fine.

You need community. Do you have support? And I mean real support. Are the people around you making you feel like you need to wear brand name clothes, fold your laundry as soon as it comes out of the dryer, wipe the crumbs off your counter as soon as the toast is made, bake the best cookies in the neighborhood, post pictures of your gourmet meals on Instagram, drive a brand new car, have perfect highlights, worship God the same way they do, mow your grass when it grows over three inches, live in a house with at least four bedrooms, own a mid-century modern couch, pluck your eyebrows, get Botox, sign your kids up for more sports, get married, have babies, get a promotion at work?… You get the idea.

Your friends and family should not shame you for being your authentic self. There is a difference between inspiring you to be more, and making you feel less than. Surround yourself with a community of people who inspire you rather than shame you. These are the people who will be there for you when you fall, and who will celebrate with you when you rise.

You need love. If you’ve built a community of people who truly support you for who you really are, the love will be genuine. Even on your hardest days, you’ll feel a sense of peace. If you have built a community based on brand names and alphabetized filing, your good days will feel hectic and your bad days will feel lonely.

Do you have what you need?

Some of us really do need to get organized. As a culture we have learned to collect too much stuff and it takes over our lives. Just remember as you are eliminating the clutter that it isn’t just external. We clean out our closets, our refrigerator, our garage, and our storage rooms. But what about our hearts, our address books, the contact list on our phones?

How often do we do an inventory of our relationships and ask, “Does this person inspire me to be a better version of myself?”

If the answer is no, do we need them in our lives? I used to spend so much time perfecting my external world, while my internal self was left entirely neglected.

I only have so much energy these days. So I have shifted my priorities. I leave the laundry and the shoe pile by the door. I take the time to pray, to read, to write, to exercise, to build a better version of myself. I show up for my own life.

If you have the energy to do it all, that is fantastic! But if you don’t, I’m giving you permission to give yourself grace. Do what you must to meet your own needs. You don’t need to be perfect. You just need to show up. Redefine Love.

Related Links:
The Friend Connection
The Family Connection
The Shame Cycle
How Do I Redefine Love?
The Health Connection
The Big Picture

Published May 7, 2019

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