Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Place for Everything Part 1: Embracing My Inner Type A

I have a bit of a split personality. I find great value in being lazy, and at the same time I love order and neatness. I live most of my life walking in one of two extremes it seems. But in this case, if I have chaos around me in the form of clutter, it is like noise in my head. That said, there are moments when the couch is too lovely to bother myself with the messies. Perhaps you should also know that I have hypothyroid and adrenal fatigue and even when I want to deal with the messies, sometimes my body just won't let me. But that's another blog post for another day. Today, I'm sharing with you how I locked up and threw the key away on my Type A side and how I've since come to embrace my inner "A"...

I was living in the "color coded" side of my personality quite contentedly for some time. I had a house keeping routine (which I usually kept up, but not always), my kids had 'chore packs' (which they only kept up when I reminded them), I had a 28 day rotating menu plan (quite handy for my grocery shopping budget, not a luxury but a necessity), and I had my homeschool lesson planner all set up (which kept my brain from exploding in my head). I was in my element for a season.

But then it happened.

The comments started coming in from people who lived on the outside. They would say I was 'so organized.' Well, they didn't see the daily grind and that it is because I am so unorganized that I have to uber-plan! Or that my best laid plans often didn't go according to schedule (which is ok, by the way.) I also heard, "Oh I could never do what YOU do. I'm just not that organized." One day over tea a fellow homeschooling mama said to a mutual friend, "DON'T feel like you have to do school like HER, MOST people are not even close to this organized! She's over the top!" That fear of man was creeping in... you know, more worried about what others think than what I need to do in my own life for my own family under the guidance of my own God. I was beginning to feel very self-conscious. I felt very judged by people. I don't believe for a minute that they intended to come across this way. But nevertheless, it is how it was received. So, I would try to reassure people that I'm not always good at follow through, but I love to plan. I found myself trying to convince people that I was really a mess, and that if they only knew me better they'd see that very clearly. I love color coding and sticky notes and colorful markers. I'm an office supply store addict. But just because I like to plan and organize doesn't mean my days always follow said plans. However, my Type A was becoming an issue. I grew tired of hearing how people just could never do what I do. As if they were required to by someone. We moms are so good at comparing ourselves to others! But I was worn out from the comments people made.

I started letting my Type A side go a bit at a time. And then my adrenals started really giving me fits. I couldn't keep up with things no matter how I tried, and I was already letting so many things slide. The 'noise' was getting to me. Some time went by, I got some help with my adrenals and was up on my feet again. But it still took a while to feel like digging out my washi tape and colorful markers.

The Lord had been tugging at my heart for quite a while, I was sure I needed to 'get my house in order.' I learned something about how my brain works. I have to have order around me, and a place to jot ideas so that they stop swirling in my head. My husband pointed out to me once that I never really "rest." I didn't understand. He pointed out that my brain never rests, I'm always thinking and reading and doing something. He was right.
So how do I find rest? (Second only to the rest I get in the Lord...)
I create order.
I make things look pretty.
I plan.
I use colorful markers.

And so I slowly started reading organizing books and books on living simply. I started to do a small purge in my home in 2013. But recently we had our hopes up to move to a slightly larger home. And that didn't happen. Twice. In the process, I realized just how annoying the clutter is to me. And part of my problem was that I had too much stuff in too small a home. If we were going to stay in our small home on our small lot, there needed to be a change. I wanted our home to look like those staged homes, ready to sell, all clean, open, airy, and peaceful!

It occurred to me that in addition to too much stuff, there wasn't a place for everything. I actually enjoy putting things where they belong, but when I don't have a place for things, they just pile up. And then I have clutter. And then... noise. And this was really beginning to bother me emotionally and make me feel physically drained. It was past time to get things in order. Less stuff equals less maintenance, which equals more time! More time to be with my family and enjoy hobbies! More time for spontaneity! More rest! Less "stuff" equals more joy! So, time to get to work!!

I will talk in more detail on the "how" and "what" of my 2014 purge and organizing in another post in this blog series. But I will say that we've been working on a large 2014 purge in our home. And I've discovered Bullet Journals and Disc Bound planners, and more! These will also be covered in depth in this series. I'm happy to say, we've made great progress in these areas. And I have dusted off and embraced my Type A side again. Because guess what... I like her! I like washi tape and office supplies and colorful markers and labels and bins and poly envelopes! I really enjoy these things and I like a neat, organized, smoothly running home. It doesn't mean it's always smooth or that it always goes according to plan. But I'm ok with that. I'm not ok with not having the plan. It turns out, God gives us unique gifts. And I've decided to embrace my gift for planning and organizing. I also have realized that with my health issues, I have to have things running as smoothly as possible because, for me, it takes too much energy to live without a plan. And when this mama is not feeling well, my kids know what is expected, and they can pick up where I leave off.

Oh and please don't think for a second that I live in a spotless paradise. As I type this I am looking at the piles of homeschool books to be sorted, the dishes on my counter, and the various projects just waiting for me to finish! People do live in this home, after all... This is all a process and we are nothing if not flexible. And with my thyroid and adrenal issues, there are just seasons where all good plans go out the window and a nap takes precedence. And that's ok!

I know this isn't everyone's gift or talent. And that's ok. I never expected it to be. It it isn't your thing, HOORAY! You save a lot of money on colorful markers and fancy planner systems! But now I am going to stop worrying about making everyone else feel comfortable. It is not my responsibility. And I no longer need to apologize for my quirkiness. Instead, let's try to enjoy the talents each person has rather than feeling less-than if we don't share that talent. And maybe we can even glean something from people who have different strengths than us. So, here's to the Type A's and the Messies... and everyone in between!


Watch for Part 2: The Bullet Journal
Part 3: My Discbound Planner
Part 4: Discbound Student Planners
Part 5: Home Sweet Home