By Susan Gardner
Welcome to my new blog in Focus Middle Tennessee, where we take a realistic approach to simplicity. The January/February issue theme is Fab-YOU-lous. In this first article, I will share how I came to know the Fab-YOU-lous me, journeying through messes in life and turning that into self-confident energy in life.
As a professional organizer who specializes in chronic disorganization, I know about clutter. As a survivor, I know about being an inside mess that is reflected as an outside mess. As a pastor, I know about grace and regeneration. Together we will see where my knowledge invites less clutter and increasing calm in your life. Through your comments, we will learn from each other.
FYI, I’m a mess by nature! Part of my DNA. For a period, it became extreme. Read on while I tell you about it. It can be the baseline for our shared journey.
While parenting three school-age children, we kept a messy house. Not dirty, just messy. With an average amount of clothes, toys, games, and electronics, we had an ocean of things on every horizontal surface – stairs, tables, floors, sofas and chairs. All five of us would walk over and around things, seemingly unaffected.
But we were affected. Not just when we were having company!
Over the next few years, prompted in part when we were fired as clients of the Merry Maids (we didn’t pick up the house enough for them to clean the house!), we came to understand that our mess was reflecting an internal mess, mostly mine. I sank into a funk and things were overwhelming. During the next 10 years, two layers unfolded in our lives. One layer went through my PTSD diagnosis and recovery. The other went through the physical clutter of the house, family priorities and schedules (did one of my kids tell you about the time I forgot to pick them up?). For a while, there was serious chaos, tinged with confusion. But, over time, as I became aware and healed, things were getting calmer. We were growing in affirmation of our family strength and respect. Over more time, we realized our physical space reflected this growth and change.
Healing happens, and messes became controlled, not controlling.
There are a few things I want to point out as you process this autobiographical story.
First, sometimes a mess is just a mess. Life gets hectic and we throw things on the bed, and from the bed to the floor, and eventually, things calm down and we tackle the mess. This is normal.
Next, sometimes a mess is on-going and cumulative because there is an underlying cause. People with ADHD tend to lose focus and messes meander, unaddressed, around the house. Creative types tend to have multiple projects unfolding around their space. Families with small children tip-toe around Lego’s and bags of outgrown clothes. People with illness deal with limited energy and extra bottles and equipment. This is explainable.
However, some messes bother us to our core and cause us to turn inwardly or to react outwardly. These messes may be trying to tell us something about our life energy. We can learn to quiet ourselves and listen to what the mess is trying to say. Mess can open dialog toward positive change.
How we learn this listening skill is the topic of February’s blog, where we explore de-cluttering as a healing art.
I look forward to being part of your Fab-YOU-lously unfolding life. Let me get to know you, too: your thoughts, your story, your questions. Respond in the comments to the community or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.