New Website!

coming soon

Thank you for all the support over the past 3+ years! This website is getting re-organized and remade into an inspiring place to share tools that make life better. In the meantime, I’m delving into the exciting world of virtual organizing and coaching and would love to hear from you.

Cheers!
Ryan 🙂

When change brings GOOD things…

May 27, 2020 — I have always loved that saying that goes, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” It is full of potential and forward thinking. It’s about renewal, being where you are, and going for it.

It allows. It invites. Dare I say it: it MOTIVATES.

During this curious and challenging Spring 2020, I have been “gently forced” into a period of introspection as far as my hands-on professional organizing business goes, along with all of us business owners who offer the type of services that rely mainly on being side-by-side with our clients, in their residences, touching them, or otherwise in close proximity. While I could still be “mad” about how 2020 was starting out to be Love Your Space Organizing’s best trend yet as far as clients served and money in the bank…I am actually supremely grateful that I’m being forced into a re-organizing of my own business. Just because you are doing one particular thing doesn’t NECESSARILY mean it’s the right thing, nor the ONLY thing.

Back track to the start of 2020 (B.C. – “before COVID”) when I had a client who was capitalizing on that “New Year’s” energy to re-focus on getting a handle on the challenging organizational situation in her home. It was inspiring! We were working regularly for 4-hour sessions twice a week and oh, the progress! I could see (and she could FEEL) the wins in her house and in her heart as well. She was on it and dedicated. Then, as you know, the Earth CLOSED.

Everyone has had different reactions and amounts of energy towards getting organized during the quarantine. I have seen people posting all about how many closets they cleaned out, “finally got ‘X’ done”, wrote books, launched courses, and all other kinds of inspired accomplishments. AWESOME and congrats!!!

But equally, I think there are plenty of people that have just had the wind sucked out of their sails. With such uncertainty out there, it’s not surprising. As we approach June, (JUNE!) the uncertainty continues. And that can be terribly draining. Somehow being home ALL the time is too much time, especially for people used to being on the go, doing lots of things…

Overwhelm happens. Deeply paralyzing overwhelm.

So let’s just drown ourselves in the news and social media…easy.

Detrimental.

There’s another wise saying goes, “Things that can be done at anytime get done at NO time.” I think lots of people feel this way and have let things pile up so much that they are in that dreaded place of: “I wouldn’t even know where to start…” and here comes Mr Head Trash Monster!!! (“I suck. What’s wrong with me? I’ll never get it together…”)

The insightful Flylady had it right with her decisive advice to “get dressed, all the way to the [lace-up] shoes.” When you have your shoes on, it sets you in a different mentality: one of ACTION. If you have your shoes on, you can get to work. You can take out the trash or donations to the car without getting a rock bruise. (oh, remember those tough “summer feet” when we were kids running around all day barefoot??) You can go ahead a take a quick brisk walk to clear your head before sitting down at the computer to face that overflowing inbox or stacks of unopened mail.

As I look at the state of my own home right now with way more surfaces than usual covered in stuff, and it drains me. I GET IT. And when you live with others, it’s a compounded feeling. “Am I the only one that cares if this kitchen violates health codes?” (martyr-mom here, too)

I’m telling you: put on your shoes. (partly because if the floor is gross, you won’t feel it on your bare feet, LOL) But more importantly: get set for action. Small action. Not, “okay, I’m going to clean up this WHOLE house/garage/storage room/basement/attic today!”

Baby steps. If you’ve ever read ANYTHING I’ve put out there, you hopefully know that I am a HUGE supporter of setting your sights low and manageable as far as getting started. Celebrate every tiny win and keep going!

You had clean(ish) socks to put on with your shoes? #yayme!
You are up and looking around your house for a place to start? #yayme!
You are going to put one fork in the dishwasher? #yayme!
You are going to ask one child to take one trash can out? #yayme!
You are going to put all the mail in one place? (the Sunday Basket, of course) #yayme!

Just start somewhere and celebrate just that. Then rinse and repeat.

I get you! I am you.

Cheers! –ryan:)

PS Ha! So me!! I neglected to mention that I’m retiring the name “Love Your Space Organizing” and fully embracing my eco-organizing soul. So please go like @organizing4good on BOTH FaceBook and Instagram. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT! We’ve got this!!

If you don’t like today, just wait a minute

May 25, 2020 — This saying has so much deep wisdom that I doubt we even fully comprehend it. We hear it so often, usually associated with the weather, but it can be applied to many more situations. There is innate positivity and hope in this statement if you take a moment and read it, slowly and with intention.

If you don’t like [something], just be patient and wait a minute.

This past Saturday morning, I got out of bed, and as I stood and headed to the bathroom, I thought, “hmmm, my low back’s a little tight…” I didn’t think much more about it until about 30 minutes later when I went from “a little tight” to “full-blown debilitated on on the floor.” Yep: threw my back out…from what, may I ask? A good night’s sleep?? Sighhhhhhh. Ughhhhhhh!

If you’ve had your back go out, it’s so slowly-sudden and inexplicable that you do not see it coming until it’s too late. I don’t know about you, but my mind immediately goes to that place of “why didn’t I appreciate being pain free and mobile when I was?” Which is obviously silly and not at all helpful, but it’s a natural progression. Then, I move to thinking about all the things I CAN’T do when stuck in bad-back mode…anything from tennis to cleaning up “this horribly messy house” to being in any hope of a good mood. (a pre-apology apology: sorry, family members…you will take the brunt of this beast today!)

Then, the ugly DEPRESSION hits. Situational, yes, but no less powerful over you, your attitude and your hope. I went deep, FAST. After all, it was the Saturday of a 3-day weekend, and we were supposed to be packing to go AWAY to Horseshoe Bay and get the first change of scenery in MONTHS. And I was toast. I couldn’t even pack a single toothbrush without having to slink back to the bed. The physical-mental-physical-emotional pain loop was BRUTAL. There was crying, oh YES. There was messaging my mum with statements like “I hate everything” and “my life is a joke” and “so unhappy girl”. (I am an expert at “woe is me…”)

Pain takes over your whole life when it gets the chance. You CANNOT envision feeling well enough to do anything normal again. It is so REAL in that moment.

After moaning and groaning and lots of ice and ibuprofen, my hubby gently suggested, “Hon, do you want to do something different? Change clothes? Take a bath?” I know he was thinking, “What do I do with this heap formerly known as my wife?” Bless his heart, he started picking up our room and getting the kids to get packing.

I HATE being kept down, people. It is the most challenging thing for me. I am very go-go-go and when my body says, “NOPE, not today!” I do not receive that message well. I fixate on all that I “need” to be doing. And even worse, I bludgen myself with, “well you SHOULD HAVE already…[packed/grocery-shopped/planned/etc etc] and then you wouldn’t be in this predicament, you loser” (is this TMI?) It’s the TRUTH.

The Head Trash Monster sure loves someone in pain! It’s the “low-hanging fruit” for him. After all, I had already done half of his job for him. Uggggghhhhhhh.

God love ’em, my family rallied and got us out the door. Coolers, clothes, sunscreen, even the BIKES! And I managed to pack my toothbrush…but I almost forgot my swimsuit. Michelle Obama’s book in hand, off we went.

I’m telling you, a change of scenery is magical, even if you only intend to sit and read.

After a rough, slow-gaited day of much ibuprofen and rest, I woke up Sunday feeling so much better! What a difference both mentally AND physically! I know that I must still be careful…one can’t go from incapacitated on the FLOOR 24 hrs earlier to Dancing with the Stars, but wow, what a gift to feel so improved!!

If you don’t like how you feel right now, wait a minute.

And give yourself a freaking break, will you??

Cheers, –ryan:)

PS As always, with full sincerity, THANK YOU for reading this soul-hemorrhage of a blog.

The Flylady, Mel Robbins, and Marie Kondo, oh my!

…part 2 from yesterday “Are you my mother?”

May 21, 2020 — As a stay-at-home mama of littles, I desperately wanted a house that allowed for fun and creativity, but also could function well and get picked up pretty easily. Oh, you have so much stuff when you have littles! And the stuff changes so quickly, the clothes get outgrown, the toys become obsolete, and legos multiply to astronomical numbers. And if you’re a GOOD (eeek!!) mom, you’re curating the family photos in scrapbooks while the kids napped! (I did, for the first kid, anyway…)

In the mid-2000s, I heard about this awesome homemaking internet phenom called the Flylady, upon who I immediately pinned all my hopes and held full respect that she had the way to save my home, one room, one shiny sink at a time. There was so much goodness there, including ready-made lists and email reminders. It worked for a time, until I got distracted and busier. She was my true organizing OG. The first woman I remember that I met only online and felt pulled to because she had ANSWERS. Answers that I didn’t think I had.

Several blog posts ago, I detailed the heavy hitters in my personal development life, headlined by Mel Robbins, who blew my socks off in 5 seconds with her story! She had all the ANSWERS I needed to tame my squirrel and I was FINALLY going to get shizz done!! P be damned! Then there was Rachel Hollis, full of more amazing ANSWERS about how to wash my freakin’ face and STOP APOLOGIZING because I’m made for more! (I’m an excellent student) And Lisa Woodruff, with all the home organizing ANSWERS in the form of the Sunday Basket, the 100-day program and the Certified Organizer program. YES! I’m in!! And don’t forget Jessica Butts with her brilliant ANSWERS for me to live unapologetically who I am based on my Myers-Briggs type. ABSOLUTELY what I’d been looking for!

Y’all, these programs and awesome women above should have easily given me what I needed to go forth and conquer, armed with the ANSWERS. Frameworks, tools, support, community, clarity, all of it was right there. But, no, I didn’t see it that way. I sought MORE ANSWERS.

I found Marie Kondo and her sage advice about whether your items spark joy. Gretchen Rubin and her Happiness Project (I wanted Happiness!). The One Thing‘s singular clarity plus the 411 planning tool. Dana Adams telling me how to life-map and Live My Gift. Mridu Parikh‘s Life is Organized. The Slight Edge, Atomic Habits, The Big Leap…every book enveloping me, enlightening me, setting me ON FIRE for change. I could go on. There are MORE. And since I was a member of NAPO, there at my fingertips was a portal full of conference recordings done by amazing successful business owners doing what I wanted to do. Be SUCCESSFUL. I wanted to be THEM.

When was I going to STOP?? When was I going to take a minute, BREATHE, and maybe consider I’d learned enough for now?

Last week, after watching Stu McLaren‘s super inspirational launch of his Tribe program and giving me hope that I, too, could start a successful membership site, I felt empowered and like I had direction. But, then, again, although he’d given me all the frameworks and ANSWERS, I kept seeking. I then found Carrie Green and followed her membership too. She definitely had the ANSWERS for me, and way cheaper than the Tribe membership. I mean, I am good at seeking.

Are you dizzy too?

The other morning, I pulled out and placed in a HUGE pile ALL the worksheets, notes I’ve taken, binders I’ve made, journals I’ve started, and took PAUSE. It was a lot, let me tell you.

Look at all that TIME, ENERGY, and MONEY spent on good stuff. But why wasn’t it ever enough?!?

What’s the single common denominator in all those books, programs, communities, memberships?

When I was spinning in circles one more time, somewhere between Stu and Carrie, I am SO INCREDIBLY grateful to Stacey Sorgen, my progress coach in Jessica Butt’s coaching program, for basically going on Marco Polo to give me (with permission) the most loving ass-kicking of my personal and entrepreneurial life. (THANK YOU, STACEY!!)

I think I finally stopped.

So, I repeat, what’s that common denominator in all the things I’ve described above??

ME.

HEL-LO!!

Little old me. I am the special sauce. I am the “Monster At the End of This Book“!!! (Sesame Street reference)

How simple. How complicated. How amazingly SPOT ON.

So, Grover is me. I am Grover.

Hi, nice to meet you:)

Cheers! –ryan:)

PS I am so grateful for your reading time today!

“Are you my mother?” A tale of seeking

Note: I use Myers-Briggs lingo in this post. I am an ENFP, known lovingly as a Squirrel. I refer to the “S” (sensors) which runs opposite of “N” (intuitives) I also refer to the “P” (go with the flow figure it out) versus the “J” (very planned out and focused).

May 20, 2020 — You might think this blog post is going to be about finding my birth mother, which really is an amazing and beautiful story, but that’s for another day. This post is absolutely about an amazing and beautiful journey of discovery, but of a different kind.

I have been on a JOURNEY for the past, well, several decades, but it’s morphed in the last 2-3 years. It’s no surprise that this journey started with the onset of the “end” of the hard-core Mom-ing phase of my life, which has been going on over TWENTY YEARS. In truth, I count the years leading up to the actual production of said kiddos, because I have always DREAMED of their existence. I planned for it; I knew from an early age I wanted to be a mother.

When they arrived, one by one, from 11:14am on Jan 12 of 2000, then 8:09am on July 6, 2002, culminating with the arrival of the third boy on Jan 3 of 2005 (at 1:05pm), I fully, joyfully, 1000% dedicated my whole self to them. Everything in my life was about their health and well-being. All my communities were about them. All my activities, for the most part: also them. It was blissful, difficult, and deeply satisfying work. And exhausting of course:)

I left my full-time teaching job without hesitation after 6 years at the completion of the 1999-2000 school year, holding my then 5 month old. My gut told me that we would be much more successful as a family if I stayed out of the workforce and immersed myself as a SAHM. And I was so right! I regret nothing. It was an amazing life of kid fun, neighbors, mom’s groups, playdates, mom-besties, parks, pools, bouncy places, community involvement, school volunteering, keeping everyone fed, clothed, safe, and entertained.

Then came the really busy years. The car years. The chaos of here-there-and-back-again with school, school functions, sports, band, Scouts, and on and on. Always on the go, but still keeping everyone fed, clothed, safe, and educated. Well-rounded?? Ugh.

I stuck a few side-gigs in there for myself. I was a Spanish tutor for 13 years, never lacking for clients, and I loved the 1-on-1 setting and satisfaction of helping those students. It was a business that basically ran itself. Additionally, I was a Pampered Chef consultant…BECAUSE I LOVED THE STUFF, not because I wanted to start a business. That was short-lived.

Both of those were “S” side hustles. I’m a total, full-on “N”. The things I know NOW that I wish I’d know then…(refer to the note at the top if you forgot what those stand for)

The side-gig that felt the most like “home” to me was offering an after-school Spanish class at my kids’ school one day a week! We tried fun foods, played fun games, and learned lots of vocabulary. Back when I was in college training to become a Spanish teacher, I fondly remember doing part of my student teaching in an elementary school, traveling from class to class doing 30-minute classes, and this felt a lot like that. But then it was just too much…the business part sucked…I just wanted to TEACH and be with the kids and offer them the sense that they could (and should) learn a second language…one that they likely heard daily. (I live in Austin, TX)

In addition to the insanity of the driving years, I had the “Neighborhood Association” years…(I’m a theme at least!) Annually, we put on an amazing 4th of July picnic and parade. I was the connector of local businesses to that event. I LOVED it. I knew everyone. Wow, was it WORK, though! And little bit political, ick. I was the President for years, until we moved. Good times.

At last, I circle back to the Journey…wow, you say, that wasn’t it? Yes, but that was the hard-core Mom-ing phase, remember? This Journey was born because even without knowing what it was to be an N, my N tendency would not be kept down inside me. I’m a helper, a connector, a teacher, a lover of community, and apparently can never sit still! My mom says, “You’re always burning the candle at both ends!” (Yes, mothers are always right)

Enter 2016-2017…and I feel a burning desire to help people in their homes to get organized. I know how AMAZING it feels to declutter and clear out a space so it works better, and THEN donate that stuff to someone else who needs it more. I’d found my THING that I love doing so much that I’d do it for free. It’s THAT THING that when I spend hours doing, it feels like minutes. I am THAT PASSIONATE about it because of the joy it brings to one’s life, especially a busy, dedicated mama who is constantly on the go and overwhelmed with keeping everyone alive, fed, safe, and entertained.

Ok, so I’ll start a business! A REAL business…I didn’t view any of those past side-hustles as businesses I now realize as I look back. It was at this moment, when I joined my local chapter of NAPO, was when I think I stopped believing in myself as an intuitive, creative, capable woman who could have the business of her dreams and help boatload of busy, overwhelmed women far and near. The limiting beliefs and the imposter syndrome raised their ugly heads. The Head Trash Monster got a new suit!

You’re going to have to tune in tomorrow because this entry is already way over my usual word count!

Cheers! –ryan:)

PS Thanks for reading! IF you are curious about clear way to understand and employ the beauty of life knowing your Myers-Briggs type, go to Jessica Butt’s website for all the fun

What you think about, you BRING about

May 18, 2020 — Happy Monday, y’all! I just love a fresh week!

I am certain that you have heard people talking about manifesting-their-dreams or visualizing-their-goals-into-reality…and that they have LEGITIMATELY come true. There are countless undeniable examples.

How do you feel when someone starts talking this way in front of you? (or possibly you’re reading someone’s post about it) There ensues a series of feelings and thought processes that tumble around in your brain, head, and gut when this concept is brought up. Let’s explore.

Reaction #1: (eye roll) “wow, are you actually kidding me with this right now? give me a break!” This is the DOUBTER reaction. We dismiss the crazy notion quickly, maybe even too quickly; there is fear behind this reaction. We don’t want it to be true because we all have our own BHAGs (big hairy audacious goals) that are scary-awesome, and sadly, we are often too scared to approach them even in our own hearts. Food for thought.


Reaction #2: (eyes wide) “hmmm, this is interesting stuff…tell me more!!” This is the INTRIGUED reaction. We have been waiting to hear something like this because only with tools can we achieve what we want to achieve. We have the ideas and beliefs in our hearts, but just need the framework to bring them to light.


Reaction #3: (head smack) “oh no! I knew I should totally be doing this but haven’t yet. Darn it, darn it, darn it!!” This is the FOMO reaction. (I know this expression is “out” but I think it’s timeless, actually) We constantly have this feeling of being “behind” or surrounded by the “shoulds” which only serve to drag us down.

Listen up: it’s okay! You are where you are so that is where you begin.

I, truly, have manifested a few things recently and WOW it feels good. But here is the SECRET:

(don’t you love it when someone promises you the ANSWER??)

It takes time. Patience. Persistence. And OPENNESS.

You MUST be open to the process and take baby steps all the time. Never stop. Never give up.

And lastly, you must be vigilantly observant or you might MISS IT! When you visualize something, you do that in only one form, but the dream will come true in the way it’s destined to, which might not look exactly like you’d originally thought…but the dream knows, so watch for it. (What? Like maybe you get a silver sports car instead of a red one?)

It’s something DEEPER…

SEE IT when it appears to you. Embrace the possibility that it is EXACTLY what you dreamed, whether or not it looks like what you originally envisioned.

How WOO-WOO is that, friends?

I’ll share: (shocker, I know) If you are loyal reader, I might be repeating myself, but honestly, repetition is key to all success.

Ryan’s BHAG #1 – Start a YouTube channel called “out and about in ATX with Organizing4good” that shares all about the missions of the amazing area nonprofits via interviews and on-site videos.

Ryan’s BHAG as it actualized: I am now doing fairly regular live interviews via Instagram with amazing area nonprofits AND helping raise awareness as to how they need help right now, in this New Normal, providing real-time information to the community about how we can help them succeed in supporting their populations!

The same dream, just actualized differently…BETTER even!

Ryan’s BHAG #2 – Run a successful home-organizing business with 1-on-1 clients and do area speaking gigs, spreading the joy and hope of getting more organized.

Enter 2020: (dramatic music please!)

YES, in my 4th year of business, things had started off really well, according to traditional metrics: numbers of 1-1 clients, depositing the checks, all the right steps. Helping my people by working side-by-side with them, addressing their current organizational challenges. Life before COVID-19 and the quarantine, however, meant that long periods could pass between sessions, because that was the crazy life we lived, day in and day out. But still, I was doing my thing: working with my peeps, a few at a time. Slowly increasing “success” in a business.

Ryan’s BHAG as it’s currently actualizing: OH MY GOODNESS. Now that we are all “trapped” at home, we have whole new approach to getting organized and, more importantly, creating a community of support as we are facing deeply uncertain times. Everything is new and different. Things I never specifically envisioned, (yet really did)…like writing my thoughts to you in blog form. Like helping a brand-new client organize her kitchen via Zoom. Like doing 3- and 6-hour online paper organizing workshops (which before COVID-19, no one had time for…) Like hiring amazing business women to consult with me and to solve issues in my business that were really hard for me, keeping me in the crazy. And now I can SOAR doing what I am good at! (FYI life with a working CRM is like playing with beach balls!!!)

I wonder if any of this makes sense to you, but what I am saying is:

KEEP GOING.

Never give up because really amazing are HAPPENING to you right now, and more are just around the corner.

Cheers! –ryan:)

PS Thanks for sticking with me and reading! It truly means so much to me.

Front ends and back ends

May 15, 2020 — Do you have periods of deep thought that can last days or even weeks? During those times you might have people ask you, “are you ok? You seem, distracted or something.” And likely, since they love you enough to inquire about your apparent issues, they might offer to help in some way.

If they offer to help, you will have a reaction based on your personality type. If you are the type who needs input to make big decisions, you might take them up on that offer of support. If you are the type that needs to seek solitude to work through these issues in your head, you will politely decline, thanking them for their concern.

Our brains are so complicated! What I have learned, noticed, whatever you want to call it, is that you can’t actually comprehend something until you are PRIMED and ready to accept that new level of understanding. You can seek and seek until you are blue in the face, but then, when it’s TIME: you will get it. I think of it as RECEIVING the gift of comprehension.

Here’s how that very concept played out for me recently.

2020 is, among many other things, the 4th year I have been in my soloprenurial business venture as a professional organizer and absolutely LOVING IT! Helping people get their heads above the overwhelm and get started on their organizing journey is what I was MADE FOR, no question. As a former middle school Spanish teacher, I get to keep that teaching side of me going, but in a totally different population.

However, being a business owner requires totally different talents! Especially in a world that changes as quickly as it does in the 21st century! The overwhelm is REAL, folks, but you charge forward because your passion is driving you every day. Doing your thing with the people you attract is AMAZING and gets you out of bed raring to go do the thing! You are changing lives, spreading joy, making a DIFFERENCE for your people. At least on the front end you are…

Oh, but the “back end” of business is a COMPLETELY different thing, y’all! I don’t know the statistics, (and I don’t intend to look them up right now,) but SO MANY small businesses fail not because of lack of knowledge of craft, hard work, or passion, but because the STRUCTURE of the back end is really hard to get solid, especially if you burst out of your gate and work too much IN your business, rather than ON your business.

So what’s the issue, then? Just work on the structure, right? Ideally, of course. But it takes some time to figure out what that entails, and also, here’s the big one: you are not good at all the things, and they DRAIN YOU. The more they drain you, the less energy you have for the real reason you started that business. And here’s the worst part, the saddest part: you think you are NOT EVEN MEANT to be a business owner. Surely, if you love what you do, you should be solid right? Oh don’t we wish??

It is hard work, and takes knowledge that you may not have. But guess what? There is HOPE! There are many other people, structures, systems that are there FOR YOU to take advantage of, fill in the gaps, and elevate you so you can do YOUR THING.

Yesterday, in Q2 of the 4th year of my business, I FINALLY got a CRM in place. A CRM is a client relationship management tool. Without a system to follow up with leads, clients/customers, and networking contacts, you will fail. A business needs raving-fan clients that feel loved and connected to you, the business owner. A love-em-and-leave-em MO is not going to help you have a successful biz!

How, Ryan, did you finally do that? It was two-fold. First, I joined a business coaching group that taught me the success path that one needs to follow in order to thrive. And second, that group taught me that you MUST GET HELP on the things that not only drain you, but also start to convince you, little by little, that you were never cut out for this, no matter how passionate you are.

So, I have been getting help on my back end systems and holy shizz!! The boulder I have been pushing for over THREE YEARS all of a sudden feel more like a beach ball!! Oh, it’s still hard work, of course, but it’s the right structure to move my needle forward!

Do you try to make a roast without marinating, seasoning it and turning on the oven to the right temperature? NO WAY!

Guess what? Dinner is almost ready:)

Cheers! –ryan:)

Carpe diem, ugly bits and all

May 14th, 2020 — If we were going to get philosophical for a moment, (it’s rather constant these days…a pandemic sort begs the question, right?) I ask you: how do we view the past, the present, and the future? It’s complicated yet so simple, y’all.

The past is critical for DATA, patterns, and concrete information. History is important to study for what it was, as long as it’s reported accurately…

The future is also essential for those “what ifs?” and big dreams and maybe even some motivation, if you dare to go down that path.

But, the all-mighty PRESENT is just that. It’s a gift, all cliche aside. It absolutely is. It is the only thing on which we can build right now. If we spend too much time dwelling on what happened in the past, it keeps us stuck. If we spend too much time and energy focused on the future, our heads stay in the clouds which actually keeps us stuck, too.

What can you literally control? Yourself, TODAY. Right now. Moment by moment. Yes, right now you are reading a blog. But is this just part of an hour- or (yikes!) hours-long social media binge? Is that your best use of today? Food for thought.

So, friends, I share with you that I journal and read in the morning before I write. I say this with total awe of myself, because if you’d asked me a year ago or more, “Do you see yourself having a grounding morning practice in which you journal, look at your goal cards, read awesome books and write 750-word blog entries 5-ish days a week?” I would have either laughed in your silly face or looked at you like you’d literally fallen off your rocker!

Translation: I clearly don’t see myself as “that person” who is laser-focused on self-care and improvement. (oh, girl…)

Well, why the heck not?? Apparently I’ve sold myself pretty darn short. (all day every day?) Funnily, I was looking for something the other day in the storage room, and found that I have been a dedicated journal-writer since at least the 8th grade. HEL-LO! Not every day, nor every year even, but consistently inconsistently I have plugged in to pen-and-paper and put down my thoughts and feelings about what was happening in my life! I found a cute snoopy diary with a little lock from 8th grade, spirals from high school, a soft cloth-covered journal from my junior year in college, and several others that I kept while on cool trips or internships (those are my favorite).

But I must be honest: reading those things is absolutely terrifying. TERRIFYING. Why?

Because I am exquisitely pure and in the moment in those papery pages. (precisely why so many people are afraid to write, I think!) And now, at my present age, I see how clearly I knew exactly who I was! EVEN BACK THEN. WHAT?? Just let that soak in for a second…

Does that mean I know exactly who I am NOW? Do you understand the PRESSURE of that?? I say that in jest, but not really. That is HUGE.

Friends, I had a life-altering “download” this morning in my quiet time. I will share it with you in a moment of vulnerability for a few reasons. I think it’s obvious to most that I shine brightly with accountability and connection in my corner so I use it like golden fairy dust. And secondly, and more importantly, it is a message that I think a lot of us need to hear. RIGHT NOW. So here you go:

A message straight from my intuition: (DEEP BREATH)

GIRL, STOP WAITING FOR EVERYONE TO TELL YOU WHAT TO F*CKING DO. QUIT ASKING FOR THE “EASY” BUTTON. JUST DO YOUR THING.

Did I WANT to hear that message? Hell no! Let me repeat that: HELL NO! (I want an EASY BUTTON, not something that tells me figure shizz out MYSELF!)

We perfectionists are paralyzed with fear that we won’t do it right, so we don’t do it AT ALL. (Anyone raising their hand right now? Admission is the first step.)

This is a TRAGEDY. A waste of good talent and energy and genius. We hide behind procrastination and excuses. I raise my hand in full disclosure: ME. I am doing that. Every single day.

Excuse #1: well, we have a pandemic…and that deserves all my attention.
Excuse #2: well, my kids need…(direction, nagging, food, butt-kicking, etc)
Excuse #3: well, someone else is doing that, and it’s better than I would do it.
Excuse #4: well, I don’t really actually believe I can do it, so why try?

When I said vulnerable, I meant it, eh? Here are all my ugly bits. I leave you with this today, and I hope you’ll ask it of yourself along side me:

“Who am I becoming?”

Today is a gift, don’t waste it.

Cheers! –ryan:)

PS Thank you for reading, ugly bits and all.

We are MAGICAL beings, so what’s our deal?

May 13, 2020 — In the Old Normal, BC (“before COVID-19”), today I would have awakened in the Hyatt House Seattle/Redmond excited for a day-long training with my amazing coaching group followed by a raucous party to celebrate our 8-month coaching cycle together. Alas, not so, but I don’t miss the rat race of traveling yet. (I’m pretty sure my husband does, though!) Instead, we, as a group, will still connect via Zoom for an awesome 3 hours thought. Better than nothing!! (and maybe we will feel better tomorrow without that “over-celebrating”…LOL)

Book recommendation alert: I am reading Untamed by Glennon Doyle right now. (The gift of quarantine: reading more!) O.M.G. it is incredible. I highly recommend. So often these blog posts are inspired by something I’ve just read because I read right before I write. Glennon eloquently drives home point after point, especially about people (especially women).

She invites people to write down their stories and mail them to her, literally, in snail mail. And she READS them. ALL OF THEM. Imagine the deep, raw insight she receives on the daily about the human experience in real time. I love what she said in her book, (I’m paraphrasing here) “People are so absolutely f*cked up and completely magical at the same time.”

I couldn’t agree more. I love those two adjectives used in tandem.

We are MAGICAL beings. We can and constantly do AMAZING, BEAUTIFUL things. But then, we stop ourselves…damn that EGO. It’s a constant vicious cycle.

I’m living that for sure, right now. It’s a bit cliched, for sure, but we constantly get in our own way. It’s not really our fault, since we have been honing that practice for years, even decades. That is some ingrained crap that takes real work to undo. We are afraid to SHOW UP as ourselves, for fear that it’s not “just right,” “good enough” or (here’s the worst one) “perfect”. Ugh, just UGH.

I took a tennis lesson with my son the other day, and I thought it was a terrific lesson in that we learned a lot about the mechanics of forehands and backhands and what slight adjustments we can make to improve. My son is a natural athlete. As he hit ball after ball, I just wanted to stop hitting and watch him move. So amazing! I marvel at his innate ability and fluidity with any sport he does. It is really something to see.

Afterwards in the car, I asked, “how did you like the lesson?” And his answer killed me.

He said, “Well, I didn’t play very well.”

ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME??? I died.

This is a spot-on example of getting in our own way. Here was a LESSON, not a match, or even a scrimmage, where we were there to LEARN, and he focused on the feeling of “not playing well”. (and I just mentioned above how well he DID play!)

I realize there are so many factors at play here, starting with the fact that he’s a teenager, but also the inherent constant competitiveness of his every waking moment via the media and now, apparently, INSIDE HIS OWN HEAD. It probably kept him from working even harder during that lesson.

Damn. I must say it that frankly, because it BREAKS this mama’s heart.

So, I turn to myself: am I perpetuating any of this on him, too? I’m not getting into parenting today, because we will be here all day, but I don’t doubt that he gets some messages from his parents as well. Messages that are more about achieving than the process of learning. Ouch.

Today, and every day, I seek to own ME and my process and stop obsessing over the outcome or how perfect I am or how much I’m like someone online I want to emulate.

My way is my own way. And that’s how I am supposed to be. It’s way too hard to be someone else, have you noticed? Boulders.

I’m going to play with my own beach balls, and encourage my sons to do the same.

PS Thanks for reading, I really mean that. And in case you forgot to tell yourself today, I will: “You are awesome!!! Just do YOU!!”

Observe your own sunset

May 12, 2020 — Do you have any clue what a mess I was yesterday?? It was Monday, and normally I am raring to go! I love a fresh week! The possibilities, the expanse of 5 days to get-shizz-done, all that awesome energy is usually what a Monday is for me. I love Mondays, and that is the truth.

NOT yesterday. I was an aimless dust bowl of uselessness. Plus, on Saturday I injured something in my shoulder area doing nothing spectacular…grrr! So it was a recipe for trouble.

I know I have referenced Jessica Butts’ work on the regular, and I will again now…her brilliant description of what I was feeling is this: in my BACK SEAT.

Oh, you know your BACK SEAT all too well, don’t you? Before I knew a good term for it, (thanks, Jessica!) I would just say to myself, “What’s wrong with you?? Just get over it, stop being such a mess!” I bet you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Maybe you call it “having a hormonal day” or something similar. Yes, there are definitely truths to that cyclical energy, but sometimes it’s not necessarily hormones. It’s just your Head Trash Monster having its Front Seat Field Day in your brain! It’s all dressed up in its HTM finery, wielding all its biggest sticks that keep you down and small and confused. Not fun at all.

Why, Head Trash Monster, why?? Back seat days suck! It totally feels like we’re pissing away precious time back there.

Alas, how can we reframe this phenomenon? How can we turn it into a positive?

Think of a time when something was going really wrong and the ONLY way out of it was to get SMART, CREATIVE, and/or flat-out INGENIUS. Bad shizz was going to go down if you didn’t put on your big-girl pants and FIX IT.

So you DID. And yay you!! YOU did that.

When you’re in your back seat, you must figure out how to work through it. Only YOU know the things you must do…or if you don’t yet, you must figure out that list for yourself. Because Back Seat Days happen. It’s inevitable.

But guess what?? Great news!!

Back Seat Days are FILLED with information and lessons. When you have to sit with it, get creative, get DEEP and REAL, you get through it. YOU get YOURSELF through it. And then, when you’re back in that beautiful, amazing Front Seat…ahhhhhhhh! So good.

The challenge is to NOTICE our Front Seats as much as our Back Seats.

Your Front Seat is when you’re in flow, doing your THING! Remember beach balls from a few blog posts ago? Notice your beach balls! You get to play with those when you’re in your Front Seat. And that is fun!!

That Back Seat is all about boulders. But, I remind you, those boulders are your lessons. They create obstacles for us that we must figure out. Thank you, boulders! I am a better, stronger person for them. I don’t LIKE them, of course…I’m not crazy! (debatable…LOL)

So today, I am writing to you from my Front Seat again. I am beyond grateful to feel this way today, and I am NOTICING. I think our Front Seat is like a gorgeous sunset…it’s going to happen whether we are out there taking it in or not. It’s so much better if we STOP for a few minutes, observe the breathtaking big beauty of it, and bask wit gratitude in that overwhelming power of Mother Nature.

I have a friend on Instagram that ALWAYS ALWAYS gets phenomenal sky and sunset pictures and I appreciate it so much. She doesn’t live too far from me, so it’s like my own personal highlight reel from a sky that I’m also seeing. She totally had my back the other day when she got some knock-your-socks-off pics of the full moonrise because I had missed it! ACK! Sidebar over now…

So, I am begging you: PLEASE notice your Front Seat. The goal is to spend at least 80% of your time there. The feelings you feel in your Back Seat give you fuel to propel you back to that precious Front Seat. It will take time, but it is work well worth it.

Cheers! –ryan:)

PS Thanks so much for reading!! Unintended shout out here, but if you want to get more guidance on your front and back seats, check out Jessica’s Live Unapologetically course. It is life-changing, and I don’t say that lightly! She has written all the books as well, but if you like a course, then check it out. AND, if you do sign up, then DO THE WORK. 🙂 (and tell her I sent you!)

Eyes on the Prize

May 11, 2020 — I love really powerful statements like these: teamwork makes the dream work, we are better together, just do it, there’s power in numbers, less is more, etc etc. Currently I find myself drawn to this one:

Eyes on the prize. It’s so simple. It’s so good. After a touch of research, I discovered that it was originally, “Keep your eyes on the prize” from a folk song that was popular during the American Civil Rights Movement of the 50s and 60s. Thank you, Wikipedia.

Back to today, 2020. When I feel overwhelmed, lost, confused, snowed under, decision fatigue, pulled in too many directions (many times a day sometimes), focusing my attention on that one statement can make all the difference.

So what is it? It doesn’t refer to an actual, physical prize, necessarily, but something more, something deeper and meaningful.

The Prize. The goal, the result, the ah-ha! the completion of a task, the thing you have been striving for, that thing you have worked for and achieved because of that effort. It helps all other things just fall away and become unimportant. Mere distractions that matter not in the face of The Prize.

Only YOU can focus on The Prize that’s your prize. Everyone else is, or certainly SHOULD be, focused on their prize. Don’t sit there and expect anyone else to zero in on your prize. They can champion and support you, but ultimately, it’s yours to own and pursue, and then it’s yours to celebrate!

I have a friend who just got a later-in-life college degree (woottt!) and what an example of Eyes on the Prize! She couldn’t have more distractions: 4 busy kids at home, job loss drama, a household to run, a pandemic to manage, all the ins and outs of this “online learning” stuff. But she kept putting one foot in front of the other until she GRADUATED!! Getting that important feather in her cap now opens up more options for a new Prize. I bet there were many nights of classes and homework and tests that found her thinking, “is this even worth it? do I have time and energy for this?? I should probably be taking care of (fill-in-the-blank-with-mom-guilt) and not pursuing this…”

Eyes on the Prize, but rephrased: Eyes on YOUR Prize.

I just bet, because I know you, that you’re thinking, “I don’t know what my prize is! How do I know what my prize is??”

You do. You just have to get quiet. You will know.

Or, you could also be thinking, “I have TOO MANY prizes! What do I do with too many prizes??” Now comes to mind the Highlander: “There can be only ONE.” You can have many prizes, and I sure hope you do, but there is only one at a time that needs the EYES.

How? So how do I know which one? Like this: picture yourself this time next year, (and try not to get COVID-19 distracted) and think, “What one thing is so important to me that if a year goes by and I haven’t moved that needle towards it I will be so very (insert appropriate disappointed emotion here) and (insert appropriate ego-destroying emotion here).

THAT is how you discern your Prize.

I was an aimless mess this morning unable to focus on my regular routine, getting my knickers in a real twist by letting literally everything in my path be a huge distraction. My cats, the state of the kitchen, my lack of preparing for this week because of Mother’s Day time yesterday, (worth it obviously), too much head junk, basically!

But then that beautiful, focusing phrase simply rose from the ashes in my mind’s eye and set me straight. Thank you, intuition!

Eyes on the Prize.

Another incredible thing about this powerful phrase is that is doesn’t permit you to spend any wasted time fretting over the “coulda-shoulda-woulda” junk because you are too focused on the “I’m-gonna-so-look-out” stuff to be losing time on that nonsense!

Just when you think you’re directionless and hopelessly overwhelmed with no idea where to start, stick your head above the clouds and you will see so clearly, with laser-like focus, that before you know it, all that pointless stuff that was crowding your mojo not 5 minutes ago, will be in the backseat pouting and totally in your rearview mirror.

Only FORWARD!

So, let’s do this!

Cheers! –ryan:)

PS I would LOVE an email or a comment about what your Prize is. I’m here to encourage you!

Thanks, Lilo and Stitch:)

May 8, 2020 — I have family on my mind this morning for several reasons. Yesterday, May 7, my mother turned 85! It feels like only 5 minutes ago that we were celebrating her 80th with a big party and people and flowers and cake and all that good stuff. She lives in Raleigh with her crazy Chihuahua Rudy and my brother and sister-in-law who take amazing care of her. I am so grateful for them and all they do for her. I love that she lives with her 2 youngest grandchildren within arm’s reach. It’s beautiful. She is and has always been a fantastic mother and dedicated to her crafts. So much talent in this lady.

She’s an artist, a genealogist, an author, a speaker, and one of the most adaptive creatures I have ever met…all with enthusiastic joy on her face and in her heart. In 2004, (wow, over 15 years ago!) she suffered a stroke alone at home, but even that couldn’t keep her down for long. That stroke forever took the use of her left arm (darn it that she’s a lefty) and weakened her left leg but could not touch that iron resolve. Nor that willingness to get back on with daily life. With a sense of humor and tenacity to the core, she re-created her M.O. and just rolls with it, day in and day out. She is my hero and I hope to have half of that gumption and her force of “just going right on” in the face of such a huge life alteration.

I could go on and on about all the 1-handed gadgets we’ve found for her over the years, the progress she made with her physical therapy, and surprising us with her “party tricks” like squeezing a ball!! My hands-down favorite was and still is was when she progressed to the point of giving me a type of TWO-ARMED HUG again!! (Tissue time!) No doubt it’s still a pisser for her on the daily, having an arm that will only allow about 25% use, but selfishly, and OBVIOUSLY, we would so much rather have her here with us than otherwise which could have easily happened!! So incredibly grateful that it wasn’t her time back in 2004. There are no more words I can say on that.

The second reason to be pondering family today is that my first-born, my OG, my absolute heart is coming home on Sunday. He has been in Colorado in school this whole pandemic, where he was safe and functioning just fine, but not in MY nest. He is coming home for the summer on MOTHER’S DAY!!! In the Old Normal, he would have been preparing to go to Brazil for a super-cool study abroad program that correlated with his Environmental Studies degree, but alas, that’s a no-go. Canceled, of course, but Brazil’s loss is my gain! Let’s just say, we need that guy here with us. We are only 4/5ths without him. He is an important part of Team Lanier and I am grateful that he is able to fly home. What that means for the potential virus he may bring here remains uncertain. But we have to learn to live with this thing, so he will fly. We will do our best to disinfect him and his things. Whatever happens happens. My man-child is coming home:)

Family is special. Family is difficult. Family is FAMILY. And it’s yours.

“Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.” – Ha, one more Disney reference in this blog! Thank you, Lilo and Stitch.

Love on them, always, especially when it’s a challenge…

Cheers! –ryan:)

PS Thanks for reading, I deeply appreciate the time you shared with me.

Incredibly, outrageously irrational

May 7, 2020 — It’s hilarious, really, how we expect so much of ourselves. And by hilarious, I mean “incredibly outrageously irrational”. So I’ll restate that sentence:

It’s incredibly, outrageously irrational how much we expect of ourselves. Agree or disagree?

We expect:

-to eat perfectly clean every day
-to exercise like the Rock every day or at least most days
-to meditate, do yoga, take a brain break like the Dali Lama every day
-to be the A++ parent/child/friend/pet parent that we assume everyone else is
-to create the perfect to do list and execute each day with productive precision
-to spend time every day working at deepening a truly meaningful project or life’s work
-to be deeply contributive to the community and the world at large
-to be outraged and therefore champion all the causes everywhere
-to be perfectly green in all our endeavors
-to manage the constant distractions and stay on task at all times
-to have inbox ZERO (really???)

and on an on and on….

It’s exhausting! And by exhausting, I mean poisonous.

Why do we forget so easily that the truly important thing is to just be doing your best in the way that you can? And some days your best is only a percentage or fraction of ideal, but hey that’s how statistics work. 80/20…

I do the same thing. I feel all the things. I tell myself all those lies, too.

Guess what? We are dead in the water with mammoth expectations like that.

And also guess what? We don’t place those expectations on anyone else, do we? Because looking out it’s completely OBVIOUS how unrealistic it is to impose such ideals on one person. Hilarious.

So, can you please give yourself a freaking break? AND, take a moment to identify something that a) is really hard for you and takes forever and makes you crazy b) find a way to get HELP with that thing c) and actually take the steps to follow through. You will do yourself such a favor! Then, you can spend MORE time doing what is easier for you and is really in your Zone of Genius.

For example, I’ll use working out. “I really should work out more” is the worst statement ever made ever by anyone anywhere. I mean, come on. (remember “dead in the water”?)

So, let’s rephrase: (I love rephrasing, it’s so powerful) “I find it difficult to get a workout in. I think I’ll explore why. Would I like a buddy/a trainer/a program? Maybe I could consider a dance party in the kitchen as a workout? What can I do to increase my potential for success?”

Do you see what I mean? EMPOWER yourself and think outside the box.

I struggle BADLY with systems because I’m an ENFP (AKA “squirrel!”) and I would rather dream up new ideas left and right ALL DAY LONG. Let’s brainstorm! Let’s do this new thing now and then this other new thing a nanosecond later! Can I get an “amen!” from my fellow ENFPs?

I absolutely love me and my Ryan way. BUT, it means I need to seek help! I need accountability like I need air and water, people. When I put that critical piece in place, I increase my odds of success, and that feels AH-MAZ-ING!

However, there are other things that I have not yet put parameters in place for that increased success. But I’m working on it, slowly, surely, and SLOWLY. In this immediate gratification society, it’s harder than ever to remember that SLOWLY is most definitely SURELY.

Patience with yourself will serve you well. The next time you think a nice thought about someone else, stop and turn that on yourself for a change, because you need that good mojo more than you think.

You’re doing great! Let’s say it together and often:

“Yay me!”

Cheers! -ryan:)

PS Thanks for reading this “guidance counselor” session. I just never know what’s going to come out when I sit down to write!

Guess what? WE ALL SUCK.

May 6, 2020 — (Ha I bet I got you with that title!) I am flying high after yesterday’s Instagram live with Carole LeClair from Austin Creative Reuse. If you are not well-versed in my obsession with ACR, please read my blog post from May 1st for the full-on experience! Being able to share the missions of non-profits, especially here in Austin, TX, and therefore educate others as to how they can help if they so desire, fills me deeply to my core. And, dear reader, I don’t say that lightly!

So I turn around right now, looking you in the eye, and ask: “What fills you deeply to the core?”

STOP IT.

Right now you just judged yourself. You said, “I don’t know…I must suck” or, “Netflix, so I must suck” or, “I know EXACTLY what it is, but I never do it, so I suck”

Guess what? WE ALL SUCK.

It’s true. So now what?

It’s about sucking LESS. Just a little less.

And right now, in this “dumpster fire” of a time, (thank you to my husband for that image) so much SUCKS that we don’t even know what to do with it on a daily basis. Or an hourly basis. As a country, we are stewing in our own shizz.

I have an amazing friend (oh, I have so many amazing friends!!!!) that posted recently on FaceBook: “Has the US lost its mind??” (Message me if you want to know who that was) But I keep thinking about that simple, yet straightforward, hit-the-nail-on-the-head question.

It has. We have. We are so focused on the negative, or so easily led without being educated that people would ACTUALLY believe that you should inject disinfectant or bleach EVER??!??! Has Mr Yuck failed? Who remembers those stickers?? I suppose with the invention of cabinet child-proof locks people don’t use those anymore? Sad.

What it boils down to is a lack of informing oneself before spouting off to others. (I like to call it “talking out of one’s ass”) Come on: it’s not hard to do a little research. These days, it is so easy. Crazy easy. Too easy. Yet people do NOT do it. They parrot what others say and then lose own their point of view. Why we just hand over our brains to simply any joe-on-the-street I’ll never know…I am guilty of that at times, I fully admit it.

Here it is: take your own point of view. Stand up and own it. I’m not talking about a political demonstration, unless that is what fills your balloon, but just STAND UP and read before you speak. Be the one who speaks with authority because misinformation is what got us into this “dumpster fire” in the first place.

Be the one who does those things that fill your soul, because only YOU can give yourself that gift. Why would you hide that magic from yourself?? Eve Rodsky calls it “unicorn space” in her book Fair Play. I love that!

My amazing business coach, Jessica Butts, cleverly uses “boulders and beach balls” as a spot-on metaphor about how you live each day. I bet if you sat for 5 minutes and thought about your day yesterday, last week, last month and beyond, it wouldn’t be too hard to identify the things in your life that are like tossing a beach ball. Nor the things that are like trying to push a boulder up a hill.

I know you value your precious energy. Don’t you want to fill your balloon with more energy??

Grab on to that beach ball. Have you ever seen people playing with a beach ball that weren’t smiling and laughing and having an absolute blast?

Ok then. I would LOVE to hear some of your thoughts.

Email, DM, FB message, or comment with your beach balls, and even the boulders you are going to choose to stop pushing.

Hopefully we can start, just START, to douse the dumpster fire and rise out of the ashes.

Cheers! –ryan:)

PS I absolutely mean it. I want to hear from you. BEACH BALLS!

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Taco Tuesday on Cinco de Mayo than with #GivingTuesdayNow

May 5, 2020 — Hola! Do you know something that I love to see? When a person out in the world sees that there’s a problem or a need, and then they TAKE ACTION. It is my favorite type of news or story to read about. As a feeler, I get all the warm fuzzies!

Unfortunately, more often than not, people just take the “collective griping” method instead of zeroing in on an issue and then DOING something about it. I bet you’ve heard that saying: “if you’re going to identify a problem by complaining, then you just signed yourself up for creating the solution!” Oh it would be AMAZING if there was a magic spell that actually made that true. The number of problems solved would skyrocket to meet the number of complainers. I wish…but hey, I assure you I will always circle around to the positive in this blog!

Guess what? Today is #GivingTuesdayNow which is “a global day of unity as a response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19” (from givingtuesday.org)

In the media right now (in an among all the CRAP, of course) I absolutely love seeing evidence of fundraisers in action! Remember telethons?? I hated how they would TAKE OVER my favorite TV station every so often. Borrrringgg! But, looking back, that was a pretty viable way to raise money for a cause.

Here’s an easy one for you to celebrate and participate in tonight: the Modelo beer company will donate $1 to #FirstRespondersFirst when you post your toast today for Cinco de Mayo if you hashtag #cincup (I can’t think of an easier fundraiser…woot! Salud!) So let’s help them max out their offer of up to $500K!!

How about this one? Many people have been decluttering while in quarantine but are limited on the ability to donate the cast-offs right now. Here you go with a genius solution to this problem, created by a woman named Monika Wiela who saw the need and created www.givebackbox.com (she actually started back in 2012! what forethought)

As a business owner of an online shoe store, one day she walked past a homeless man with a sign saying, “I need shoes.” She then did some research and was shocked and horrified at how much clothing and household items ended up in the landfills. Inspired, she then devised a plan to help make use of empty cardboard boxes for donating to local charities’ thrift stores. She has partnered with many large corporations to increase the success of the program by getting them to help foot the shipping costs. It’s a great concept! Way to make a difference, Monika!

Right now you, yes, you…can print out a postage-paid label and choose the general charity category like children, animals, homeless, women, people with disabilities. I’d bet the farm that you have at LEAST one box, and AT LEAST enough donations (gently used, please!) to fill it right now in your home. Get it out of your home and into the beautiful ecosystem of #secondhand and #thriftstores. I know we are not thrift-shopping right now, but we will be!!

You could check out thrift ecommerce sites like ThredUp and ShopGoodwill, did you know that?

So raise a glass of anything this evening and I will toast and box up things right along with you.

We are stronger and better together, y’all!

Salud! –ryan:)

PS Thank you, as always, from the bottom of my heart, for sharing your precious time with me to read this blog.

May the Fourth Be With You (this is NOT a Star Wars spoof post FYI)

May 4th, 2020 — I’m not sure how, or why, but I feel so lucky and happy. My house is a filthy disaster, but it is my house and we are safe. My kids are so off schedule and have entirely too much screen time, but they will be fine and re-orient to real school life when the time comes. Our oldest has been in Boulder all this time, out of my protective wing, but he come home on Mother’s Day! (it will be so weird to not hug him, but we will resist) My business posted the lowest net income month in a long time, but it will be fine, even great, eventually. As business owners, my hubby and I work way more than the recommended number of hours these days, but it’s time to double-down, so we do. Especially since we have employees to support. So, I feel lucky and happy.

I think what I’m trying to say is that right now is necessary for tomorrow’s success.

Here in Texas, the City has opened several new avenues of businesses to mixed reviews. We have no idea what is in store for “the next wave” but someone with the power to do that did. Different people have had a variety of reactions and actions. It’s so very tempting to “get out” and see what the world has been up to in the past 2 months.

But right now, staying safe is necessary for tomorrow’s success, I said.

People are funny, not balloon-animal funny, but quirky. We don’t like to be inconvenienced. We really want to go get our hair cut, nails done, go to a restaurant. We definitely want to go happy hour with our peeps! These are all things we miss (such lucky ones we are).

Unfortunately, that can have dire results for others. If people would closely read the city’s website for the most updated information, then they can act with knowledge and care, instead of “well I’m just sick of being home, so I’ll resume normal activities.”

Things are not normal. They are NEW Normal. (masks are a THING, y’all, for a long time to come)

Case in point: #trikini <–look it up!

Think about the conversations you have been having lately and how full of misinformation they are. Our stay-at-home order is current until May 8th (this Friday), but the environment this past weekend was not that vibe.

Has anyone gone the MOVIES? UGH. It’s permitted here in Austin for up to 25% capacity. Why is that even an option?? I don’t get it. And it makes me mad, honestly.

It’s one thing to be at home, safe, and healthy. I am so incredibly grateful for that. The fear and uncertainty that comes with this virus is unlike anything we have really, truly encountered. Heck, the SCHOOLS are closed and we have NO IDEA when they will go back. That is truly mind-boggling.

I hope there is a trove of graduate students frothing at the mouth with ideas for their dissertations. This is societally influential and will be creating a ripple effect for the unseen future.

I desperately hope that we, as a society, are LEARNING. However, there’s more to learn than just “how to properly wash your hands”. It’s about being considerate with your own germ-potential.

For school-aged kids, actually, ALL children, it’s about learning how to function in a completely different way and saying goodbye to many things they’ll never get back. The fact that they can’t go to parks and play on playscapes is desperately sad. I send good, validating vibes to all the parents out there who keep having to repeatedly explain to their child, “no, my darling, we can’t go play on the playscape, it’s not safe.” It’s like breaking their sweet little hearts over and over. I hate that for all involved!

My dear reader, I did not have any inkling that this was going to be my share this morning. So I want to leave you with a message of hope:

PATIENCE. Patience is key. Why rush?? The crazy all-in, go-go-go world will be back again at some point, we can count on that.

But this quieter world (if that is what you are getting to experience, that is…thank you SO MUCH to the essential workers!!!) is an anomaly. It’s a GIFT. Sit with it. It’s not all bad.

Stay informed, be the one who’s read.

Cheers! –ryan:)

PS (note to self) wow this is quite a set of words this morning, ryan. heavy much? so much for some funny star wars ‘may the fourth be with you’ entry. but oh well. gotta write what comes out, eh? i’m not in control of it, i’m simply a vessel for my creativity.

Dreams come true, so keep your eyes peeled!

May 1, 2020 — Hello, May!

So when we were in the trenches of March and early April, it was as if May felt like a year away, didn’t it? Well, here we are and I am feeling a sense of accomplishment somehow. Personally, the month of April was pretty good, all things considered. I put out more blog posts in the last 6 weeks than I have in my whole life! I am so proud. #yayme I was on more Zoom calls than ever, too. Including zooming with family, who knew that would be a thing! And, I have spoken LIVE on the actual PHONE to more of my peeps than in recent history as well. I have done way more yoga, thanks to online classes, and gone on more walks. Not too shabby.

And let’s not overlook the joys of continuous sweatpants!

New things that happened include: reading a story to my nephew over FaceTime (I plan to do THAT more), meditating in my back yard, and my son actually USING our basketball goal!

And the big one: I have actually had one of my dreams come true. Something on my vision board is now a reality! I also learned that when a dream wants to come into reality, it does it in its own way, so you’d better be observant.

For almost 3 years now, I have wanted to start a YouTube channel or some vlog that highlights and educates everyone about the amazing things that non-profits and thrift stores are doing in Austin to serve many populations: some in deep economic straits, and others to keep items from the landfills. The idea was born the first time I walked into Austin Creative Reuse (which is the coolest crafting thrift store with a raving fan-following).

It was love at first sight when I noticed their OPEN/CLOSED sign was made of repurposed computer motherboards! I decided to instantly go on FB Live and was absolutely blown away by every aisle, the whole vibe, and the happy customers! All that stuff (yarn, beads, buttons, fabric, stampers, scrapbook paper, slides, old photos, games, knitting needles, pads of paper, file folders, frame, bins, crayons, office supplies, vintage craft books, and on and on) was DONATED and being sold to other people who wanted it! For CHEAP.

I clearly remember the very moment I noticed that most of the bins that held each category of goodies were made from a yard sign folded into a box! GENIUS. Way to repurpose trash and fill a need without having to purchase bins. It was brilliant. Picture all those political candidate signs getting a second life!

Then…are you ready? There was a whole bulk area where you paid $5 (or $2.50 on half-price day) to carry around a 5-gallon bucket and fill it with items for your next craft project. This is where all that scrap stuff would go in the trash, but here, on the loving shelves of ACR, could become your next creative afternoon or weekend. Or summer entertainment for your kids. For NOTHING, practically. (You’d break the bank at Michael’s for such good stuff)

My ABSOLUTE favorite: boxes of old trophies! (People bedazzle and do crazy stuff with those and make them into newly beloved objects)

And the six degrees of separation mind-blower for me was that I am FRIENDS with the President of the Board of Directors of ACR and I didn’t even know it until that day during my Facebook live! As I was mind-blowing my way around the store, she started talking to me and I was caught in a crazy time-space continuum flux since I hadn’t seen her in about 10 years, ha!

Well, I never started doing that YouTube Channel “Organizing4good out and about in ATX” but guess what?? This week I have begun to interview directors at area non-profits over Instagram Live (where we have the split-screen) and have them share all about their mission, how they have pivoted in the New Normal, and how WE can help support them as they fight to keep serving their communities.

THIS IS MY DREAM COME TRUE, PEOPLE. My heart is exploding!

On Tuesday, I interviewed Marcus from Partnerships for Children and on Thursday, Candy from Dress For Success Austin. The beauty of what those non-profits do to lift others up from desperately difficult situations (exacerbated by COVID-19, of course) stops me in my tracks. So amazing.

Next week, I have lined up two more interviews: the Settlement Home for Children and ACR!! I will keep going to spread their mission to all as long as they are doing their good work, so buckle up! This vlogger is on her mission.

Let’s spread the goodness!

Cheers! –ryan:)

PS If you would like to follow me on IG, my handle is @organizing4good. Thanks for reading!

Happiness Life Hack!

April 29, 2020 — In order to be happy, as in, deep-in-your-soul happy, do things that make you happy. Like float-around-grinning happy. If you don’t know what those things are, go into your past. Look at what you did from photos or memorabilia, or if that’s not available, then ASK yourself, what did I do to be happy? I bet you will find some answers. Life is too short to not do those things.

Maybe you used to sing in a choir or a band? Maybe you used to draw or paint? Maybe you used to write? Maybe you used to read all day? Maybe you used to create something that meant something to your soul? Maybe you were into research and were going to invent something great?

Still coming up short? Do you have a parent, sibling, or long-time friend that you could ask? You might be surprised to hear their perspective on you, your favorite subject.

Yes, YOU are your favorite subject, as well you should be!

Stop, and take a moment in a quiet place with no people and noise (hard to do now that we are at home with all our peeps), possibly take a long shower with no external input. Think about yourself in your teens, twenties, or whenever it was that you were allowed by life to spend time as you mostly wished.

WHAT DID YOU DO that made your heart sing? What was it that you couldn’t help doing because it was so easy for you? And gave you such satisfaction?

Do more of that. As soon as is possible.

You’re welcome.

Cheers! –ryan:)

PS In this crazy time of so many choices, I can’t tell you enough how grateful I am that you read this. Thank you.

Happiness life hack

April 29, 2020 — It burns in me right now to share this with you.

In order to be happy, as in, deep-in-your-soul happy, simply do the things that already make you happy. Like float-around-grinning happy. If you don’t know what those things are, go into your past. Look at what you did from photos or memorabilia, or if that’s not available, then ASK yourself, what did I do to be happy? I bet you will find some answers.

Life is too short to not do those things.

Maybe you used to sing in a choir or a band? Maybe you used to draw or paint? Maybe you used to write? Maybe you used to read all day? Maybe you used to create something that meant something to your soul? Maybe you were into research and were going to invent something great? Maybe you used to spend hours turning somersaults? (Ok, I’m not sure I recommend that…)

Still coming up short? Do you have a parent, sibling, or long-time friend that you could ask? You might be surprised to hear their perspective on you, your favorite subject.

Yes, YOU are your favorite subject, as well you should be!

Stop, and take a deep moment in a quiet place with no people and noise (hard to do now that we are at home with all our peeps), possibly take a long shower with no external input. Think about yourself in your teens, twenties, or whenever it was that you were allowed by life to spend your time as you mostly wished.

WHAT DID YOU DO that made your heart sing? What was it that you couldn’t help doing because it was so easy for you? And gave you such satisfaction?

Do more of that. As soon as is possible.

You’re welcome.

Cheers! –ryan:)

PS In this crazy time of so many choices, I can’t tell you enough how grateful I am that you read this. Thank you.

I’m literally obsessed with non-profits and service…apparently since I was a teenager

April 28, 2020 — Did April feel fast for you? After the drip-drip-drip surrealness of March and early April, until about Easter, things truly feel more swift now. Not quite like the lightning speed of the Old Normal, but DEFINITELY faster. And weirdly, I feel a little anxious about it. I have loved so many things about the slower life in the New Normal and I will fight to keep some of those things alive and fed in my schedule.

But we will have to fight for it. It’s a question of priorities. Conscious choices.

Today I want to share one of my passions that I haven’t written about much so far in this current blogosphere. I don’t know if that’s a word, but it feels right!

I have always, and am currently, drawn to the pure beauty of service and non-profits; basically, people helping people because it’s the right thing to do. I don’t have early memories of growing up in a highly service-focused family, except that my mom was an exceptional Brownie troop leader and I thought I was the luckiest thing in the whole world to have my MOM as my leader. Ah, little girls!

In high school, I was deeply involved in CYO, which is the Catholic version of youth group, initially because I was (and still am) a highly social creature. I recall that we held a church fund-raising pumpkin patch even every year and that I would spend most of my time there selling pumpkins, being with my CYO-buds, and never giving it a second thought about if that was the best use of my time. I loved it.

Also in high school, I remember volunteering to answer the phones for a teen suicide hotline. Or maybe college. How old would I have had to be?? That was an experience!

In college, I specifically remember spending a long month with a group of nuns in Greensboro, NC, who were wholly dedicated to the service of the community and ran a food pantry as well. I have a journal that I wrote in every day. (just now, upon consulting that journal, I realized it was only a week!)

It was just after my freshman year in college. (May, 1989, to be exact) After a brief skim of that journal, I spelled out in great detail how we helped out in so many venues: day care, thrift store, food pantry, home visits, and church office stuff, too. I was clearly impressed by the level of service in so many facets and equally saddened by the level of economically depressed people we encountered all day. I am so grateful that I still hold that little journal in my hands and have that window into my experience as a 19-year old young woman with a service heart in the making.

And then, after the “5-year plan” at UNC-Chapel Hill (Go Heels!), foreign language degree in my hand, I was looking at the fork in the road as I was ready to start “Real Life”.

Choice 1: take a Spanish teaching position at Seawell Elementary School where I’d done my practicum, live in Chapel Hill, NC (a LOVELY place) and have a FINE life for however long I chose to stay in that job.

or…

Choice 2: take advantage of the “unrooted” life and go DO SOMETHING…unusual, semi-scary, and awesome! I was scared to death of the adventure called “backpacking around Europe” nor could I afford that. So, instead, I ventured into a program called Volunteers for Educational and Social Services (VESS) which was basically like Teach for America and it was located in TEXAS! So, VOLUNTARILY, I spent a literal YEAR of my life, at ages 23-24, working as a volunteer elementary school teacher in Robstown, TX. My class totaled 13 students, a combo of 3rd and 4th graders, in a little Catholic school named St. Anthony’s. It was the hardest, best year of my life. (well, so far at that point of my life, anyway!)

Oh, how I LEARNED. So much. EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Life lesson: it’s GOOD to do HARD things.

And those kids STILL have my heart, over 25 years later! I have found a few on social media, and wow, that was a trip! The called me “Miss Leary” as I was a “miss” at the time. A fresh-faced, take-on-the-world young woman from Raleigh, NC.

After that year, I settled in Austin and got a “real” job teaching Middle School Spanish at St. Stephen’s. Also hard, but in a totally different way.

My heart still sings the song of service, and supporting non-profits, because it’s clearly who I am. It’s who I have always been.

And that’s comforting to know.

(FYI this week I will be doing social media shout outs to local Austin non-profits)

Cheers! –ryan:)

PS As always, thanks for reading!

Just put it out there…”woo woo” post alert

Monday, April 27, 2020 — I hate selling things. I really do. 10 times out of 10 I would rather simply give something away. It’s 100% less complicated, doesn’t leave you doubting whether or not you charged the right amount, or whether they will feel dissatisfied with their purchase, etc etc There’s never been a time that I regretted giving over selling.

When I’ve caved to “the pressure” to sell things in the past, I’ve always felt this confusing sense of how to be honorable and set a fair price, not negotiate too low as to feel taken advantage of, trying to take the requests in order, all which add up to, in my opinion, a lot of wasted time and mental energy. Nor do I ever get that delicious feeling of satisfaction as when I give something for free.

When you offer something for free (BTW I’m a card-carrying, flag-waving Buy Nothing Project freecycling groupie), it’s a no-brainer. But selling, I will only do on the rarest of occasions.

Like a piano.

I felt the need to sell (not give) our fine digital piano,; the one that we bought full-price, new, from Guitar Center about 8 years ago…since it was rarely played and I wanted that wall space back. I’ve wanted to sell it since late February, (a MILLION years ago, feels like!) but hadn’t had the energy to start the process. (see above…my reticence well spelled out) I had even thought about getting my kids to do the listing and follow up with any requests that came in.

Along passed February, March, and most of April. I still had not listed it for sale. I still wanted that wall space back and knew deeply that SOMEONE out there really needed this beautiful instrument, ESPECIALLY now, with all this time at home.

And honestly, listing something on Facebook Marketplace is crazy easy. Like, really no-brainer easy. So what was the hangup?

Anyway, fast-forward to this past Saturday: I held a 6-hour online paper organizing workshop called Paperpalooza. I coached 5 awesome ladies as they dug into their piles of paper, trying to ditch files and set up binders as they filled bags and bags to shred/recycle, and provided them with my wisdom, accountability and a sense of comraderie. Shameless plug: (it’s my blog after all)…email me if you want to join in the Paperpalooza fun in May.

I, too, tackled my piles, and lo and behold, I put my hands right on the owner’s manual for our digital piano. Well, okay, universe! Here I was with focused attention on making my life better by crossing off a few to-do items, and that booklet landed in my lap, quite literally.

I know you seeing where this is going.

I vowed right then to list the dang piano. After a quick bit of research on Craigslist to see some comparable items, I settled on a price and listed it on FB Marketplace! (here’s a little advice: ALWAYS list it for higher, so you can negotiate. Always. People who set a price and then say, “firm”…ick. OBO is much more friendly)

The whole listing process took less than 5 minutes.

I expected that MAYBE I’d sell it in a week or two and settled in to wait. It looked like there were plenty of other similar items out there for people to choose from. Well, late Saturday afternoon of that SAME day…an inquiry! After a quick dance of “will you take $X?” “yes, yes, I will” I was excited!

Unfortunately, that one fell through, but shortly after that…a second inquiry, again, with, “will you take $X?” “yes, yes, I will” and “do you take Venmo?” “yes, yes, I do” I was getting pumped! Long story short, she really wanted it, but couldn’t fit it in her car with her little girl’s car seat…I said I could deliver it, and then she immediately upped her offer to EXACTLY what I’d wanted to get for that piano!! Kismut! The stars aligned!

But there’s more.

I cleaned it off, hustled it into the car with my hubby (digital pianos are heavy FYI) and off I went to deliver. (Venmo received, GPS spun up) Within 25 minutes, I drove into some cool old apartments off south Lamar and found her apartment.

Here come the feels!! She was so unbelievably grateful. And genuinely excited and so touched that I would deliver it. She had been searching and searching for a piano, and was THIS CLOSE to buying one from Straight Music, (for more money, of course, and no bench nor headphones included) Then she checked Marketplace one last time; and there was my listing!

Bam. Love it.

Her dog and her little girl gave us moral support as we carried that sucker up only one flight of stairs (thank goodness). She ceremoniously dragged the tv to the side, saying, “This is way more important than the tv!” (choking up here) She was so excited to play, teach her sweet daughter how to play; basically this piano was the newest family member.

If it weren’t for this damn virus, we would’ve hugged like long-time friends.

This story does not sway me from my strong tendency to give over selling things, but this was the exact way the Universe meant it to go down.

Oh, and guess what? She’s a first responder. 🙂 (Did ya just get chills? I DID!)

Every time I look at the empty wall space where that piano was not bringing us joy, my heart will swell knowing she is the long-awaited star of her new family.

Cheers! –ryan:)

PS Thank you thank you for taking your precious time and energy to read my blog!

One of my ULTIMATE #yayme moments

April 24, 2020 — Do you feel things speeding up again a little bit? Is your schedule feeling super booked, even though you don’t have to be in the car running from place to place? I feel it. I notice that I over-book at the drop of a hat. I imagine that it comes from the fact that we are home all the time not seeing people, so it’s imperative to make the effort to “see” people in other ways.

I vow to keep fighting for that “slower” feel while we are still in quarantine. It definitely requires a concerted effort. But I like it so much that I’m going to seek to guard what I can.

I have another thing in my life that I fought for and continue to fight for on a regular basis.

I want to share with you something that I am so deeply proud of. Something I worked really hard at because it was important to me. And it happened in my mid-forties.

My hubby and I had wanted to learn to play tennis together for so long, but with littles it was nearly impossible. I remember when we would try to go to the public court with our “then only child” and let him run around in the fenced-in court with us, but as you can imagine that didn’t hold his attention for long. We gave up on the idea of tennis for the forseeable future…

At that point, I took up triathlon because of the Danksin sprint distance tri and having friends that couldn’t stop talking about how much they loved it. I was in! A training group? Yes, please! I enjoyed the challenge of swim, bike, run, but really, for me, it was the people. I was, and still am, highly reliant on buddies. People that get up and go exercise ALONE, in the DARK, amaze me. But if someone else is there, too, I am all in.

Fast-forward 11 years, several different tri events later, including 2 Olympic-length Cap Tex Tris, and I was OVER IT. I honestly hated the swim part. Too stressful!! I swore it off IN THE WATER of my second Cap Tex: “if you make through this mile swim (in a stupid WET SUIT no less), I will NEVER make you do this again!”

And I never did another Tri again. Funnily, I don’t miss it. Why?

I found TENNIS. Social! Fast-paced! Less cumbersome equipment! And WAY cuter outfits!!

But then I found out something about myself that I didn’t know…and I didn’t like AT ALL.

I am deeply, ferociously, COMPETITIVE.

What? Who, me??

Yep.

I found out that I could get REALLY ugly, REALLY fast. Not Johnny Mac ugly, but maybe more like shades of Aussie bad-boy Nick Kyrios’ drama and pouting. It was like a force that would well up in me that I could not shake during the match, but then afterwards, I could easily come up with a million reasons why I did NOT need to ruin my fun, and everyone else’s as well.

That was the problem: I would stop having fun during my favorite activity. And worse: I kept OTHER people from having fun, too. Doubles, singles, it didn’t matter. I was NOT fun to play with. (I cringe thinking of it)

I hated that ugly person that reared up inside me when I was losing or not hitting good shots. I desperately wanted to NOT act that way. But that didn’t make that monster stay on the bench. I was powerless against it.

Until my team captain said one thing that made all the difference and shocked me hard:

“Ryan, I have to pair you with someone who can talk you off the ledge during the match.”

Wow. Truth-teller. That MORE than hurt. I was the LIABILITY.

I wanted to be the one with whom everyone WANTED to play! I wanted to be the one who made others play hard and have FUN at the same time. But I was the head-case.

I vowed then an there to fix it because I was in danger of throwing away something really important to me. I picked up a sport at age 43. I was freaking proud of that. I’m pretty good most days. But when you act like a JERK, it’s irrelevant (unless you’re getting paid!).

How did I do it? How do I CONTINUALLY do it? (because it is a life-long struggle, and so worth it)

First, I zeroed in on a few of my tennis buddies that I wanted to emulate. Not their skills of forehands, necessarily, but of how they made others FEEL on the court. Their positivity was magnetic and raised the level of everyone on the court.

I wanted to act THAT way. I also adopted the mantra: “What would Roger do?” I have never seen a player that could act as calmly in the face of losing as of winning…a true tennis god. Long may he reign!

And, most of all, I sought to viscerally remember how unbelievably GRATEFUL I was to be a tennis player, playing tennis, with other lovely ladies, usually in gorgeous weather, with able legs and athleticism: how could I possibly be unhappy or angry??

I call this my TENNIS MENTAL VICTORY: but it was, and still is, and will be the next time I’m on the court.

And guess what?? The goal is not to win. I know! Crazy, right? Winning is just icing on the cake.

The goal is this: exercise, fun with my gals, and exciting rallies. Oh, and laughter. ALWAYS.

Tennis can be hilarious if you are in the right frame of mind.

So I seek to be, every time.

Cheers! –ryan:)

PS The fact that you read this crazy rambling means the absolute world to me!!

LET GO OF OLD SH*T (brutally honest post alert)

April 23, 2020 — Growth. Maybe it’s “Earth Day Energy” lingering on me, but I feel this undeniable desire to let go of stuff that does NOT matter anymore, (if it even ever really did) and opening up for fresh, renewed growth.

Take a deep breath, or three.

Did you? If not, do it.

(OK, freshly oxygenated blood flowing now…)

Can you picture a person you love, but are not currently connected with because of some issue or incident that separated you? Can you picture someone you love that if all of a sudden they were sick or unreachable, you would feel some measure of regret for that time spent in separation?

Sometimes separation can be useful, essential: a time for reflection and analysis. Looking at a situation from the outside is always more illuminating than when you are in the thick of it. Separating is often critical for a period of time, but then, for healing to occur, you must return to the person and grow from the experience. Neither party is to shoulder blame nor re-enter the relationship as less than whole. They must meet in the middle, but on a new level, letting go of whatever separated them in the first place.

Then, and only then, the relationship is ripe with opportunity for new growth and strengthening of the bond.

I would bet, too, that you can picture someone you love that you are currently in some contact with, but there are valid issues that strain the relationship. In light of this New Normal, where we are looking at a new, altered way of living, is there some painful piece of that past or recurring hurt that you could consider letting go? Or, even better, could you consider broaching the topic in an open and honest conversation to address that sore spot that might open up some healing and then growth? Just ponder it and see what comes up for you.

Casual, surface relationships can be plentiful and numerous because you can seek out new ones regularly. But deep, long-standing ones are few in number, and if you let them go or be abused, you will lose them.

I can think of someone right now that I intend to reach out to and attempt to bridge the gap. It has been on my mind for almost 5 months now.

Did I say it would be easy? Hell, no. Life is about doing hard things. Risk. When you risk, you are putting yourself out there. That’s uncomfortable. What if you are rejected?

Worse: what if you never even tried? To me, that’s more uncomfortable.

I know you could, RIGHT NOW, make a list of accomplishments in your life for which you had to risk something, and do hard things for, but ultimately brought a high payoff for you. That’s the hard thing about hard things. High risk, high payoff.

Worth it, every time.

But certainly, you can just be “fine”. You can let things lie. But would it really be “fine”?

It’s true that time can help heal old hurt, like losing a beloved dog. But with relationships, there must be two things: forgiveness of SELF, and forgiveness of OTHERS.

It’s completely up to you, but guess what?

It’s COMPLETELY up to YOU.

Cheers! –ryan:)

PS Thanks for entering into this vulnerable space with me today. It means so much that you read it.

Birthdays and other celebrations in the time of coronavirus…

hAPPY Earth Day!!

April 22, 2020 — Happy Earth Day! As I sit down to write today, I am not feeling a particular BURSTING about any particular topic. Undaunted, I will just keep typing, typing, typing (thank you, Dory, for that wisdom)

I might want to share with you how important it is to let go of stuff. I know that as an organizer, y’all expect me to say things like that, but I mean it on lots of levels.

This morning I was standing at the counter, waiting for my toast to finish toasting, and a picture of me in my birthday party dress scrolled by on the digital slideshow and I smiled a deeply satisfactory smile thinking about what an epic birthday party I had! (it was my 50th) It took quite a lot of dreaming, researching, and planning to pull it off. I had the time of my life, and I will treasure the memories forever.

What if I had been in the midst of all that planning, and then: the CORONAVIRUS appeared and “pooped” my party?? That would have sucked. BAD. A few short months later, I would have canceled my party and been saaaaaaad.

So many people are having to celebrate milestones and anniversaries and birthdays in this quarantine. And people are finding out they’re pregnant, having babies, even having their FIRST BABIES in this uncertain time!

Seriously mind-blowing.

What makes me the saddest, as a mom of high school kids right now, is all the seniors who are missing their Spring semesters of well-earned senioritis and riding the wave of college acceptances, Proms, banquets, shows, skirting final exams and across the stage at their hard-earned, well-deserved Graduations.

Again, mind-blowing.

These kids are in a critical stage of their lives, where they are “almost adults” sniffing at the next phase of life…college or a gap year or whatever they are headed to, but it’s got to feel weird right now. I don’t have a senior myself, but there are many kids I am close to that I ache for their loss.

It’s an actual loss.

Ever the positivity nut, the silver-lining seeker, I will do my best in this tough situation.

To all those who are having to celebrate in quarantine, you must GET REALLY CREATIVE. You will have to work a little harder to make it memorable. But DO IT. You will forever look back to said celebration in this portion of 2020, and say, “look what I did to make a tough situation a bit better! I didn’t let COVID-19 poop on my party!!”

Earlier this week, a dear friend of mine did a GREAT job of it, celebrating her birthday with a HILARIOUS video (her FIRST video ever on FaceBook) and she NAILED it!! It was the best thing I’ve ever seen. She basically threw herself a birthday party and could literally go on tour with that schtick!! (if you are FB friends with Sandy Burton, go NOW and watch that video)

Y’all, life isn’t fair. But guess what? It doesn’t have to be for you to take what you’ve got and give it your all. It’s up to YOU to make the memories. Give that gift to your future self!

Go forth and CELEBRATE! Happy birthday, happy anniversary, happy graduation, all the “happys” are so necessary, especially in quarantine!

Cheers! –ryan:)

PS I thank you for reading, it means to much to me!!

Some things I miss, and some that I don’t

April 21, 2020 — Today’s musings from the New Normal…I miss a few things, I DON’T miss others.

I do not miss those days of being gone all day and arriving home exhausted to lots of undone tasks. Getting to stay home, in comfy pants, is something I treasure every day.

I do not miss the long sessions of Mom Taxi, the over-crazy schedule that had me leave the house sometimes 3 or 4 times per day. (in the future, I am going to avoid that as much as possible!) Being with my kids at home, rather than yelling, “We’ve got to go NOW, we are late! Do you have (items)??” is preferable to that stress mess.

I do not miss the awful Austin traffic and the demonstration of poor attitudes behind the wheel. The pointed dagger feelings of desperately unhappy people’s stress out in rush-hour traffic. I know my car is enjoying the break, and I can’t remember the last time I got gas!

I do not miss that “oh crap” I’m out and about and didn’t make a dinner plan…drive thru it is, again. We are cooking and eating at home all the time! Including unearthing things from the freezer…it’s liberating.

I do not miss worrying about my kids at school: drugs, bullies, sadness and stress. They seem happier than ever.

I don’t miss my neighbors zooming past, head down, in a huge hurry. It’s a breath of fresh air to see so many people out and about, walking, waving and talking!

I do miss other things, though.

I miss getting together with peeps at restaurants. I miss group exercise classes. We are social creatures and there is energy to give and receive in those types of settings.

I miss walking into any store WITHOUT wearing a mask and gloves. It’s flat-out scary, unsettling and reminds me of the many dystopian novels I have read. A lit-tle too close to home right now!

Which leads me to share something near and dear to my heart that I miss…

I really miss my regular trips to my favorite thrift stores. I would breeze through if I needed say, a desk lamp, white collared shirts, hard plastic sandwich containers, white dishes, athletic shorts for the boys, a curling iron, a frying pan, pyrex pie dishes, so many things you can get on the cheap, secondhand, before hitting Target or Amazon.

I found this beauty for a DOLLAR and paraded it around at my recent 50th bday bash!

These stores depend deeply on donations and shoppers, which FOR SURE are way down now. Thrift stores are frequented by so many economically-diverse groups, and honestly, I love the accessibility and sustainability of the model. I love a cause.

Because it makes me happy to think of my thrift stores, please indulge me:

FAVE #1: Salvation Army. I know there are mixed reviews of their advertised non-acceptance of all people, but their stores are epic. Color-coordinated, tidy, good prices, and half-off clothing on Wednesday draws a big crowd. Great furniture!

FAVE #2: Savers. Very tidy, arranged by size, even the SHOES!! Great prices, happy people, and a clever way of “bundling” like items in the household goods section. I got my favorite spatula ever there.

FAVE #3: Goodwill. While GW doesn’t brag the best prices, nor the tidiest presentation, they are always well-stocked because they get the lion’s share of donations. The term “Goodwill” has become synonymous with “donate” practically. And, here in Austin, I have witnessed first hand that the mission behind the stores is amazing. I have toured several of their facilities and they are making a huge difference! (that’s another blog post for sure!)

FAVE #4: Austin Creative Reuse. Ohhhh pause for a moment with a huge sigh of love (and sadness)… This arts and crafts (and so much more) thrift store has RAVING fans and recently outgrew its location in the Linc Village. After much push and pull with the City, they found their new home in early March…ONLY TO CLOSE within weeks! I didn’t even have a chance to see the new store yet!! When I say raving fans, I am not being flip. Their typical hours are Wed-Sunday. With the aid of their volunteer army, they moved the whole store’s contents on a Mon-Tuesday, opening up on the next day! http://www.austincreativereuse.org

I’m getting long here, so I’ll save all the reasons I love ACR for another blog post. I could keep us both here way too long if I start in right now:)

Please keep boxing up your donations during your quarantine decluttering. The thrifts still need them!!

Cheers! –ryan:)

Thanks for reading! I mean it every time when I say, I am honored.

Miss you so much, ACR…

Thank you, Bill Murray

April 20, 2020 — Greetings to another week! I absolutely love a fresh week. It is a new cycle starting. Cycles are everything. We live by cycles, they are comforting. We can count on them. The moon, the seasons, the calendar, pregnancy, the butterfly. They help guide our steps, walking us through. Like a mother holding our hand.

I feel like I need to take a quick second to clarify my perspective: I’m a suburban mom with 2 teen sons at home, 1 20 year-old son away at college, my busy consultant husband now at home not traveling, and 2 cats. We have 3 small businesses.*

I have heard and read lots of references to living in quarantine being like the rom-com movie Groundhog’s Day. Personal note: that is one of my absolute FAVORITES…partially because my hubby and I had our first date on Groundhog’s Day in 1991:) We saw Mel Gibson’s Hamlet. But later Groundhog’s Day became a date staple.

If you love that movie as much as many of us do, you know that although it’s super funny and seemingly a classic Bill Murray slapstick, it has an AMAZING message. It’s a message of self-improvement. By living the same day over and over and over, he acquired skill after skill and eventually left behind that self-serving persona to become completely renewed. Living and re-living Groundhog Day was his chrysalis. He stayed in it until he was fully developed enough to emerge as that butterfly.

It’s not a big leap to view this time of quarantine as a chrysalis, especially for those of us who are not essential workers defending the front lines for the masses. (THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!!) Although each day feels much the same, (I just love the term “Blursday”) it would be a travesty to not see the positivity of being with your loved ones more than you have in recent past…believe me, I am not saying it is without its challenges!!! But the opportunity here is, and yes, I’ll pointedly and positively use the currently overused term:

UNPRECEDENTED. But in a really GOOD WAY!

When was the last time (over the past month) that you turned down someone’s efforts to connect because you were too BUSY? How many actual PHONE CALLS have you either made or received? How much attention to projects in your house have you been able to give? How many WALKS and neighborly waves have you taken and given? How many online meetings, exercise classes, and happy hour connections have you made, saving gas and hassle? And how much more time have you gotten back because the Mom Taxi is not constantly running??

And my favorite, how much time in the kitchen have you had together with your family? How many more games have you played and movies have you watched? Is your child FINALLY using the basketball hoop? Are you out on the trampoline or ping pong table? How’s your garden growing??

Yes, the house is dirtier than ever (and I’m envious of you that have more effectively mobilized your juvenile workforce than we have), but who cares??

Yes, there are way more dishes, but there seems to be less laundry! And fewer errands. (if you have gone on errands, it is NOT FUN)

Yes, your hair cuts/color and other self-care appointments can’t happen (and I worry deeply about that economic impact for the service industry). But my hair is enjoying the break from chemicals!

But don’t you just feel…FREER in many ways?

I am basking in the previously unimaginable feeling of being untethered from the Freight Train Hamster Wheel of my overly scheduled life that only stopped a few short weeks ago. And hopefully you are enjoying the gifts of my creativity in the form of these blog posts:)

Let me say this: 2020 is NOT a complete “dumpster fire!” …unless we envision specifically burning the things we should have dumped ages ago. (and I am enjoying the diverted attention from the 2020 election, personally)

And, most importantly, I am BREATHING. I’m spending lots of time looking outside (isn’t Spring beautiful??), but really I am looking INWARD. Some days, it’s scarier in there than I’d like, but more often than not, I’m finding strength and positivity.

I want that for you, too.

>>>virtual hugs<<<

Cheers! –ryan:)

PS Thanks for reading. I’m honored, truly, that you would give me the gift of your precious time. I hope you gleaned something useful, thought-provoking, or simply entertaining!

Tantrums in the time of coronavirus: sometimes the lid blows off the pot

April 17, 2020 — Greetings from my quarantine to yours! Not that I can conceive of this as a “week” but over the last few days that some would traditionally call a “week,” I have ridden the roller coaster, and I must say, NO ME GUSTA.

No, I don’t like it because I have expended entirely too much energy. My energy is a PRECIOUS commodity right now. My time is, too, of course, but it seems like I have more of that than usual. And THAT, I like! ME GUSTA MUCHO:)

The problem I’m encountering is that I need to have enough energy: for myself, my loved ones, my casa, my biz buddies, my community, the world, and finally, importantly, my VISION for my business. Plus, I’m an Intuitive Feeler so my energy pours out of me freely and rapidly. Speaking of my intuition…

I figured out something critical this week that I had not put words to yet, but I had a big ol’ hissy fit yesterday that cracked me wide open. Do you ever get that way?

I proclaimed to the world a few days ago that I am a writer and I will be writing a book, at least one, thank you very much. Then I proceeded to have laptop issues, which continue, because, who can POSSIBLY get through to Microsoft right now? I’m limping along with second-choice technology options, and truly am grateful to have any options at all.

But I forgot that for a moment yesterday: a big, fiery “let’s throw a few things” moment. I’m not proud. Rest assured no thing nor person was injured nor broken, except maybe that unsuspecting, innocent bag of cereal. Wow, that made a mess! If we had dogs…oh, well. But here’s what I notice when I reflect back on that…ahem, outburst.

I absolutely HATE things or situations that make me feel these different flavors of STRESS in any of the following ways:

  1. STUPID, like technology has that special knack for sucking the life out of you
  2. HELPLESS, like you’ve been stuck in a line that is never moving, your car broke down, or you can’t find something (ugh!)
  3. *** (this is a big one) ANGRY at myself, for knowing there are seemingly simple measures I could have taken PRIOR to the technology or other mechanical breakdown that would have paved the way for a less stressful, quicker, more efficient resolution to the problem. (logins, passwords, warranty information, code words, security questions, I think you get what I mean)

For example, you lose your ATM or credit card and need to call an cancel it. Do you:even know what number to call?

Back to my revelation from “post-quarantine-tantrum Ryan” that helped me put a peg in place as for my current relationship with my VISION for my business. I’ve been operating my in-home professional organizing solo-preneurship for 3 years, and wow, I have learned SO MUCH and every day I want to learn much and more. I am one of the lucky ones who has truly found the thing that they love so much that it never feels like work and can get paid for it too. Just pinch me!!

The start of 2020, my 4th year in business, saw me DOING THE THING! Working with clients, getting i’s dotted and t’s crossed, etc. January-March (Q1) was a STRONG start for me and I was loving it! Buoyed with confidence, I contracted with a rebranding website designer to get the visibility I wanted on my website. (FYI, when you hire out stuff you stuck at, you are so much happier!) Chugging along, growing, stretching.

The bread-and-butter portion of my biz is the magic that happens when I go to one of my amazing client’s homes, we have a plan, and we GET TO IT. We assess and discuss, set a timer, and go to town. At the end of the session, their spaces and hearts are lighter and clearer, we are both exhausted and elated, and the magic carries forward as they live in that newly organized space. I drive away in my van with their cast-ff items ready to donate and support community non-profits. Golden.

I MISS THAT SO MUCH. But there’s no crying in baseball, y’all, so we PIVOT.

Luckily, like my yoga classes, family visits, girlfriend happy hours. and reading to my nephew, virtual ORGANIZING is a thing! It entails so many of the same elements, except that I am not getting my hands literally in there alongside my client. It is taking some getting used to, I admit. But I am back DOING THE THING I love, just in a different way. And I’m LEARNING. Still golden.

I hope it doesn’t take you having a huge trantrum to connect the dots, but if it does, that’s okay. You sheepishly apologize to your housemates and sweep up the cereal.

Cheers! –ryan:)

PS Thanks for reading, it means the world to me!

Finding some sweetness in the time of coronavirus

April 16th, 2020 — Are y’all as over the word “unprecedented” as I am? Why that word has gotten on my nerves, I’m not sure. But I am afraid it’s going to become the next “awesome”…a powerful word that has been eroded. The word AWESOME itself truly encompasses its own meaning: “causing or inspiring of awe,” but sadly, it’s been as overused as the song “YMCA” by the Village People or “I’ve Gotta Feeling” by the Black-Eyed Peas.
I’m not saying we aren’t experiencing “unprecedented” times, because we certainly are. For sure. But it’s such a heavy, loaded word that it tends to paralyze us into a fear state and therefore, we can’t imagine pivoting our lives into something new and manageable in these UNPRECEDENTED times. Maybe it’s just me, but I think, actually, I KNOW, that reformulating and establishing your life into this New Normal is the only way through it.
And, more importantly, if you’re sitting there holding your breath, waiting for things to “return to Normal”, you’re going to be sadly mistaken and also holding yourself back from an opportunity to reformulate. There are innumerable gifts to be had here, but you have to uncover them yourself. No one will do it for you. Now is the time. Baby steps.
I have a niece and nephew in Raleigh, NC, who are the apples of my eye and it kills me to not be able to see them. I was going to see them TWICE over the course of March and April, but alas, neither trip happened, of course. To stay connected, we FaceTime of course, and I send them things, but I had an idea yesterday for something a little more special.
I emailed my brother and sister-in-law asking if I could read a story to them before bedtime, crossing my fingers that we could make that work somehow. It dawned on me that if I had one of the same books that THEY had, it would work so much better. So we texted about what time would work and then settled on the book.
Lemme tell you how excited I was for this! I looked forward to it all day.
When it was time, we FaceTimed and there they were, all clean, toothbrushed, and in their adorable jammies. (LOVE LOVE LOVE kiddos in jammie jams!) My 6 year old nephew is a FaceTime pro and was so excited to see me: “Titi Ryan!!!” (“Auntie” in Spanish”… My awesome sister-in-law is from Puerto Rico)
We opened our books and I began reading, voices and all, of course. When it was time to turn the page, I made a solid “DING” sound, harking back to when we would listen to recordings of books in school while holding the copy of the book. Then the best thing EVER happened.


He just giggled his little head off. Every time I sounded the “ding” to turn the page, he giggled! The best part was that he said, “I’m tryyyyyinnnng not to laugh!” and of course, that ensured we both laughed more. (I’m smiling as I write this!!!)
It was the absolute BEST. My heart was so full!!!! You might be wondering where my niece was the whole time? Well, she is 2 1/2, so it didn’t hold her attention, but the 6YO was all in! Her mom kept tabs on her in the background.
I know I keep charging you with these tasks like, write a letter to someone, and take time for yourself, etc, but this one is a must, if you have the option. Read a book to a kid. And feel the love!
Cheers! –ryan:)

I’m doing something super scary.

April 15th, 2020 — If ever there was an indicator of the “New Normal” it’s the fact that today is Tax Day but not really. It’s a real blessing that people have been given some time to get that together. The gift of the pandemic.

A gift that I’ve received during this pandemic is that of “increased creativity plus more time”. If you have been reading my blog since it started back up in earnest in March, you likely see what I’m talking about. The quarantine pressed the pause button on my hectic, freight-train-hamster-wheel daily life, and I’m so grateful. The struggle is whether I can hold on to it. Or truthfully, the struggle is with the constant DOUBT that I CAN hold on.

Oh, Head Trash Monster, you are so good at what you do. You stand there grinning as the doubt bubbles up like pasta water coming to a boil.

Regardless, I am doing something super scary anyway and it means stepping into the ring with HTM every single day. I’m going to suit up in some shiny, colorful boxing shorts and don a silky, satiny robe and SHOW UP.

I’m writing a book. A freaking book. Not sure how long it will be, but it will be something that can actually be considered as a book.

There, I said it, out loud for someone, anyone, to hear. I need to say it on repeat so I, MYSELF, can hear. As a card-carrying squirrel creative, I know in my bones I have a book in me, but I equally fear being of sound mind and body enough to literally sit down and do the work. The struggle is real.

Fortunately, my wise woman, my 90-year old future self, is watching me and pulling as hard as she can. She knows that if I sit down with her in 40 years and have to say, “I really WANTED to finish that book, but I just never did…” we will both cry. Bitter tears of regret.

I do NOT want that. I want to sit down with her and say, “F*ck yeah I wrote that book, and that other one, and wow, that last one was amazing, wasn’t it??” And we will have a major dance party with Justin Timberlake. (I adore JT)

Here’s what happened yesterday that gave the ol’ HTM a heyday.

I recorded myself talking in a Zoom call, (did you know that’s a great tool?? A modern times dictaphone, if you will) orally processing and outlining my ideas. Then, I sat down and banged out a good 7 or so pages. And I freaking loved it! I loved it as it was hard, complicated and exciting.

Scary-exciting. That’s a thing I intend to embrace in this process. I do love roller coasters for that reason. Standing in line, you have time to think about how scary it is going to be, then you get your turn to sit and buckle in to some bizarre steel contraption that you literally have entrusted with your LIFE, then off you go! The slow, suspenseful climb, the stomach-dropping downs, the loop-the-loops, whatever tricks are in store, you ride them out, mouth open screaming with excited terror!

Then it’s over in a surprisingly few minutes. And you want to do it all again!!

Ok, here’s my mega-rookie mistake that happened yesterday and sent me SCREAMING for the hills and straight into my “back seat”. (If you don’t understand that reference, you must seek the amazing guidance of Jessica Butts, and your life will be forever improved) http://www.jessicabutts.com

Get ready: I saved my book’s Word Doc to my DESKTOP.

I know!! “Ryan, you fool! What a perfect way to invite the inevitable technology breakdown!” You are 100% right. The universe notices that kind of stuff immediately and then sends a huge MESSAGE!

“Who the hell do you think you are?? YOU??? Write a book?? Gimme a break. Authors are special people. Chosen ones. You are not special nor capable. Clearly. I mean, who saves their life’s work on the DESKTOP?”

It’s not important what exact technology glitch happened, but the end result was that I was in imminent danger of never accessing that file again. Granted, it wasn’t 80 pages, but still! The thought of having to start over…

Bam. Straight into my back seat. It was about 9pm when we realized we had a potentially unfixable problem. The Head Trash Monster spiel was on repeat in my head, and I was toast. I set up the coffee pot for the morning, then got in bed.

Nothing left. Pout and watch mindless tv with the hubby. (my sweet guy…”tomorrow is a new day, hon”) It is what it is. I had to just leave it until we could literally recharge the battery on the machine, but more importantly, MINE.

There comes a point in a situation, usually when you are the most desperate and stressed, that you must walk away. You can’t do anything more but give it space…and reset yourself.

For me, it’s sleep. Sleep is magical. It refills me and resets me to 100%. When I’m 100% again, actual, logical thought is again possible and the HTM is relegated back under the bridge with the troll.

If you can just let something sit for a while, and go do something else that fully distracts you enough to get your head back on, anything is possible when you are fully renewed. It works every time.

Problems can be solved. Luckily I married a genius problem-solver.

FYI, the file is now stored in the magical place called Dropbox:)

Cheers! -ryan:)

High-waisted acid-wash jeans came back, so apparently any history can repeat itself

April 14, 2020– As I write today’s date, I muse that if we were still in the Old Normal, we would be freaking out about the typical April 15 tax deadline. Many people would have spent last weekend feverishly seeking to get their shizz together and ready to submit. I remember when people lined up at the post office to get their returns postmarked by the 15th. Another great thing about online services! That must’ve been a bonafide nightmare. (yet another example how last-minute living never fails to slip the Stress Goggles on you)

So now instead of the post office, we line up in super long lines just to get into Trader Joe’s. (I have not succumbed to that activity yet, we can just live without our favorite TJ’s items for now)

I hope you enjoyed my blog post about some things in the New Normal that ring very Old School…I have another one to add to the list.

CHAIN LETTERS. They’re back. Like a bad rash.

I was a teenager in the 80s, y’all, and yes, chain letters came my way, in real, actual paper form! It was like someone had handed me a bowling ball and said, “Don’t let this drop!! You will ‘break the chain’ and upset the time-space continuum!” Back then, before Gretchen Rubin ever taught me what my tendency was, my obliger wiring kicked right in and I sought to keep that dang chain going…and it wasn’t so easy to go make 10 paper copies either.

I do remember using my mom’s 80s home office copier (I was lucky she had one being that she was a full-time genealogist! We can save that for another blog post) I doubt if if I even asked her, but instead bled the cartridges dry and probably accidentally used her nice business stationery.

But the chain was at stake! Honestly, I was so afraid of that BAD LUCK that was darkly promised at the end of the letter if I didn’t comply! I might have even lost sleep or forgone homework to get those 10 dang letters printed, in envelopes and mailed! Yes, mailed! (you HAD to mail them so people couldn’t flat-out refuse them to your face, right??)

Funnily, I don’t even remember what those chain letters even contained! It’s bringing up decades-old stress as I type this.

Wait, now I remember one of them! It was a chain letter for PANTIES!!! True story: I actually mailed a NEW pair of undies to some complete stranger with unwavering faith and excitement that I would be receiving 10 pairs in the mail. Oh, Ryan…

As you’d expect, I received zero panties for my efforts. Who are these people that could ignore the talisman, the monkey’s paw, of Chain Letter Duty? So much bad luck they MUST have received, along with those random knickers I sent way back in the day…

Back to 2020. The Spring of 2020.

I have received 2 kinds of chain letters since the Earth closed a month ago: (1) the ubiquitous “send someone a recipe” chain email, and, (2) “support small biz owners by following their social media accounts.” Let’s discuss.

I have received the former (the recipe request) from no less than 5 people: people that I know, of course, people that assume I cook, people that I liked hearing from because I knew they were alive and well and emailing. But honestly, and I’m saying it right here to the whole world:

I, Ryan Leary Lanier, broke the chain. Every time. Yep. (maybe I learned something from the underwear incident?)

However, the latter chain letter made me feel more inspired to pass along. As a small biz owner who also would love a boost in Likes/Follows, I sent it to some people. But then I started to feel silly. And I had one person smartly reply, “I’d love to follow yours, but I’m not really comfortable following some rando biz for no real reason.”

Oh, the glory of that statement!! I respected them on a whole new level. (Clearly not an obliger! Likely a questioner. Fist bump!)

The moral of this story? How about writing a letter or email or text to a real person who is lonely or that you just love and want to connect with. Chain letters are really just a back-door attempt at connection. They don’t work and actually waste your good energy that could’ve been used to just directly text, email, call, or write someone for real. Start a conversation! Send love! You won’t regret that energy expenditure.

(And if you find yourself mailing panties to a stranger, seek help.)

Cheers! –ryan:)

Your brain is like a salad bar

April 13, 2020 — Alas, we did not have an Easter Egg hunt yesterday nor did I get my teenaged kids any Easter baskets. How do I feel about that? Certainly, I wish I had, but it did not happen. It’s okay and I’m letting it go! (Thank you, Elsa)

Moving on…ever since the quarantine began, somehow, I have easily made time for reading. (And writing, hence these consistent blog posts). But the reading part has filled me in ways I did not see coming! It’s funny about books, (and movies for that matter): people can suggest them to you, you put them in your library, but it may take years until you pull it off the shelf to read. But when you do, it’s the EXACT time you need to read that particular book and receive that particular message or experience that that book was holding for you.

A perfect example happened to me this past weekend.

Nerd alert: I get up really early and take quiet me-time before the world sets in. I get my coffee, sit in my comfy chair, write in my favorite gratitude journal, and then I read. I recently finished Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (loved it!) Next up, The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson had been sitting on my shelf for a long time so it jumped up and down saying, “Pick me! Pick me!”

Holy mind-blowing experience, Batman. It was speaking exactly what I was seeking. But honestly it wasn’t just that one book alone…and here’s why:

My full-blown eye-opening, transformational reaction to reading The Slight Edge was because of the volume of self-improvement books I have read in my recent life. I’ve been planting a garden with books like The One Thing, the 5 Second Rule, Atomic Habits, Girl Wash Your Face (And Girl Stop Apologizing), and I just started the Power of Positive Thinking. Some of these books were written only a few years ago, and one goes all the way back to the 1950s, but is still relevant. Crazy! I love that.

Think of it like eating at a salad bar. You peruse the line, select several separate ingredients, fill your plate in your particular way, then when you sit down to eat it, you encounter this wonderful combination of flavors and textures: the salad experience. Sometimes one ingredient stands out, other times you find an intriguing combination between, say, the pine nuts and some vegetable that you’d never have dreamed possible. It’s always good, always different! (Eating from a salad bar is always virtuous because likely you’d never have chopped nor stocked all those ingredients at home, right??)

NO ONE BOOK IS THE ONLY BOOK. They combine in your subconscious. It’s about planting that garden, cultivating, and then harvest happens when you don’t force it. Just because a book doesn’t totally blow you over today doesn’t mean it didn’t plant seeds that will not grow until you water it with another book, course, or experience that will fertilize your brain. It is AMAZING.

Friends, if you are not reading anything decent (or listening…I love Audible in every way) at least a little every day..(5-10 pages, come on!!) you might re-evaluate that. Social media is not reading anything good, but you know that already!

Today. Every day. The things you do consistently every single day matter way more than things you do every once in a while. Daily habits to improve your life are so easy to do, and yet equally easy NOT to do. (prime example: flossing! ugh!) This is the main takeaway from The Slight Edge. Compounded actions yield gigantic results. Every time.

Truth bomb: BUT, unless the action/habit is positive, the results won’t be positive. You are either seeking to improve or you are sinking. The truth hurts, I know. But we all have the same 24 hours in a day, it all depends on what you do with those hours, minute by minute.

Think about when you see a tiny ant with some tiny crumb in its tiny clutches, then you follow it to its “mother ship” where a huge mound has been built, crumb by crumb.

Your life is crumb by crumb! What you build is up to you. It’s uniquely yours. The good news is that simple, positive actions are easy, and once you discern yours, you go forth and conquer…it’s all about baby steps.

You learned to walk. You didn’t give up until you were WALKING. Then RUNNING.

Cheers! –ryan:)

The “New Normal” is so “Old School”

April 9, 2020 — With this much craziness going on worldwide, affecting absolutely every single person on this planet, it can be daunting to wonder: “but what can I, personally, do to help in the face of this pandemic?” I find myself asking this question of myself often.

We all have our roles to play. If you are in the medical field, your role is clear and obvious: help the sick people get better while not getting sick yourself. If you are an essential worker in an essential business, you get up as usual and go to work and do everything you can to stay well. The majority of the population would never be able to shelter in place without the grocery stores, pharmacies and shipping companies staying open and operating. If you are at home taking care of little kids, you get up every day and do you what you can all day, every single day, without breaks, to keep everyone alive and entertained and safe. If you are working from home, you get up every day and seek to keep your business functioning in the midst of the home chaos, be it from kids, pets, or whatever else that might be. If you are sheltering in place with school-aged children, you get up every day and try to facilitate that loaded concept of “online learning,” and accept that it is what it is. They will be okay and the school year will work itself out. (Driving yourself crazy over it is a waste of precious energy right now)

In this isolation period, there are gifts that come in the form of not racing around on crazy activity-heavy schedules, in and out of our cars, in and out of meetings and sporting events, in and out of social and civic gatherings, in and out of airplanes and hotels. There are gifts that come with being around your family members for more time than you could possibly imagine, (and can present some challenges as well, but ultimately they are your family) and getting re-acquainted. There are gifts that come with more time to smile, wave, and have socially distant conversations with neighbors that you likely had never even seen before mid-March.

And my favorite part is this gift of old-school stuff: more time to play games, cook together, take walks, call friends, craft, color, read, watch movies during the week (wow!), and yes, of course, organize! (I had to throw that in there, gotta be me)

So how can we marry this New Normal with Old School to find small ways to “do our part”? Start really small and close to home. Do you have a relative or beloved family friend in a facility for seniors that is in total lockdown? Is it a tad frustrating to try to call him or her due to hearing issues? Therefore, what is the most old-school thing you can possibly do and will bring untold joy to that relative?

WRITE A LETTER. Put it in an envelope and mail it. Stickers are encouraged!

Does that feel daunting? What about asking your kids to? How about gathering up some of their school pictures (that you always meant to send anyway!) and some drawings and throwing those in an envelope?

Such a small amount of time on your part will warm the heart and soul of someone you love who is unbelievably lonely and isolated.

And make it easy on yourself to spread this love! When you are going to the trouble of getting one card and envelope out, why not get out a few? Go ahead and address and stamp them…that way it won’t be a one-hit-wonder. Clear the obstacles! This is about spreading joy.

And, because you’ve already gotten all the stuff out, why don’t you put a self-addressed stamped envelope and piece of paper in there for him or her to write back to you if that’s a possibility.

COMMUNICATION LEADS TO CONNECTION. And connection is critical right now.

Don’t overthink it, don’t set yourself up to some standard of what the letter’s contents need to be. Simply offer the beautiful, old-school gift of a personalized envelope showing up in your loved one’s mail.

Remember when getting a letter in the mail was the ABSOLUTE BEST?? It never disappointed and usually started a chain of letters back and forth spreading continuous joy and connection. So do it if you can:)

Cheers! -ryan:)

Are you (like me) doing too many things at once??

April 8, 2020 — Greetings! So, the “freight train hamster wheel” lifestyle is on pause…have you noticed? Have you REALLY noticed? If you don’t stop to feel it, now, before it comes back, you will have MISSED OUT. I like imagining places like New Orleans, Las Vegas, New York and Paris with almost zero people out and about. Letting the Earth breathe….nice.

https://mmillmoredigitalimageandculture.home.blog/2019/05/26/street-scene-composites/

Now on to my message of the day.

As described in yesterday’s post, I joined the Power of You course with Mel Robbins in 2017 or 18. For each member, the ultimate objective was to reach deep inside, set a goal, and achieve it without getting in your own way. Mel taught us to have courage and confidence and turn our backs on the Head Trash Monster that stops us before we even start something important.

My goal was to GSD (“get shizz done”) using dedicated time blocking because, wait for it, I’m a squirrel with a million ideas and a lack of follow-through…constantly finding myself following some shiny new object that just went over the moat. (Dory and I really get each other! If only I’d met my ENFP self back when I was in the Power of You course…)

Guess what? I AM STILL STRUGGLING WITH TRYING TO TIME BLOCK.

In my Self Improvement Crush Journey blog post, I neglected to mention a GREAT book that has been transformational for me and continues to aid me in my endeavors: The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. The podcast, the course, the community. All my jams!

What is so simple, so beautiful, so DIFFICULT, about it is that you must zero in on the ONE THING that you need to do to achieve whatever you’re seeking. (If only we had daily access to some majestic mountain top to sit and ponder our ONE THING, right? Well, we might never come down in this current climate of virus quarantine)

But it is not necessary! When you are faced with a quandary, big or small, when you feel overwhelmed and paralyzed with inaction, ask yourself THIS:

“What is the ONE thing I need to do right now, that in doing so, makes everything else easier, or unnecessary?”

If you’ve have never seen that focusing question before, then I encourage you to read it over a few times in a row, slowly. It is powerful.

I love its (maddening) simplicity.

You have probably heard the saying, “Multi-tasking makes you stupid.” or “multi-tasking is a myth/misnomer” These statements are true: our brains can only do one thing at a time, and when you think you are “multi-tasking” then you are actually “task-switching” which has been scientifically proven to slow you down, to the degree of being impaired by drugs. Crazy, right??? But TRUE.

(truth: social media is responsible for so much of my task-switching)

FOCUS. Beautiful focus. Elusive, seductive focus. The things you can achieve when focus is in your tool belt…could you write a book without focus? Doubtful. You could certainly write bits and pieces of great stuff, but arranging it in a cohesive fashion to create an actual book or course or keynote or TedTalk? That requires that intangible yet powerful thing called FOCUS.

Check out this acronym for FOCUS:

Follow
One
Course
Until
Success

I want to credit the right person that I heard this from….Lisa Woodruff of Organize365, I think??…(shoot! that’s what happens when you are a self-improvement productivity junkie groupie like myself! It could have been Mridu Parikh of Life is Organized, Tonya Dalton’s book The Joy of Missing Out, or even someone else)

Regardless, it’s spot on. If you start something and actually intend to finish it, or at least a certain piece of it, following one course until success is a GREAT way to GSD, wouldn’t you agree? As an ENFP, a creative squirrel, I need TOOLS. I wish I had a boring library cubicle with no social media. I wish I had a bunker or a hotel room. I get SO MUCH DONE in hotels when I am on “dance mom” weekends and my kid is in classes all morning and afternoon.

Being at home all day all the time with a hubby and 2 teens, it’s so hard to find focus. LET ME TELL YOU! True, they do not need my attention all the time for basic needs and keeping out of danger like when they were “littles” (God bless all of you that are in that phase right now 24/7…stay strong and treat yo’ selves), but I am CONSTANTLY distracted none-the-less. It’s my own mindset issue, though. I’m not fully committed to finishing, apparently. I love to blame outside forces for my distractions. unless it’s a true emergency involving blood or fire, I am only distracted if I, myself, allow it.

When I’m in the garage gym doing online yoga class, I wouldn’t DREAM of jumping up to take care of something or someone (unless there was blook or fire), RIGHT?

LIGHTBULB!! “go to online yoga class” when I need to GSD. Tell my family that I’m not available and don’t bother me unless there’s a really good reason. I think I just found my ONE THING to help me get some FOCUS on:)

True confessions. I don’t really read other people’s blogs that much. Yet day after day I sit down to blog and am hoping that someone out there is reading it. ah that’s pretty funny actually. I’m not sure why I blog. I am not sure what the theme of my blog is, but anyway…I blog. And I desperately hope I’m not taking myself too seriously!

Or maybe it’s just self-therapy.

Cheers! -ryan:)

Are you a self-improvement junkie like I am?

April 7, 2020 — If you don’t know me by now, I’m a card-carrying squirrel, a seeker of self-improvement and mentors, a community creator, a connector of skills to needs, and a generally dorky positivity nut.

What also floats my boat is listening to podcasts about being your best self, taking your entrepreneurial skills to new levels, and some funny things, too. (If you haven’t followed the Holderness Family, you’re missing out!)

Let’s go on my “Personal Development Crush” journey. (FYI – I mention a ton of books and amazing people here, but I’m offering these freely for no personal gain)

It pretty much all started in the mid 2010’s with my discovery of the Fylady‘s rah-rah “you got this” wisdom via daily decluttering emails and schedules; she offered me the guidance I needed to keep my house afloat when I had littles. 3 of them! (I remember when I first learned she had an actual name, but then that took some of the mysticism out for me, like the Tooth Fairy!)

Then along came Gretchen Rubin with her Happiness Project and subsequent fantastic books: especially The Four Tendencies. (spoiler alert: I’m an Obliger). She came to Austin and my good buddy Ann and I went to the book signing at Book People! Oh, look out, I’m a groupie!

Then, along came Mel Robbins and the 5-Second Rule. (I must have been truly obnoxious at this point, because it was so world-rocking that I had to tell EVERYONE that would listen how great it and she was) As a card-carrying Extrovert, that came as easily as breathing! Mel speaks to me and millions. Then she offered a course, and I unabashedly joined! It was one of the iterations of the Power of You (POY) course. It was truly amazing!! I enthusiastically watched every video, I filled out every worksheet, attended every live webinar with thousands of others. And most importantly, I believe this was when I established my morning journaling habit. Her 5-Second Journal made it so easy, and voila! Journaling! Me! It was fun and so very satisfying when I finished a whole journal and bought another! And, as a true FanGirl, when she and her team announced a POY Meet Up, I totally went. Even though it was in Las Vegas (I absolutely HATE Vegas), I totally went. By myself! I got an autograph and a picture with Mel herself! LOVE!!

My next obsession was for Marie Kondo and all her books and her quiet eccentricities towards organizing. Oh, my closet never saw such a takedown!! I spent New Year’s Day that year (literally ALL DAY) emptying my closet down to the cobwebs. Oh the pure joy. I listened to her 2 books so many times I had several parts memorized. But then, it was time to move on.

After a search in my Audible app for “organizing,” along came Lisa Woodruff of Organize365 into my life! Her book The Mindset of Organization was literally my new bible. She was speaking directly to me. She had a program at that point was called the 100-days to an organized home and I WANTED IN. I immediately got on the waiting list, and counted the days until it the next start date, which was at some point in April of 2016. This program, which is still running strong and furiously, started in the KITCHEN. Ohhhh, hallelujah! Bring on the mismatched Tupperware!! Then she had a paper organizing program in which not only did Iearn how to organize my OWN paper, but I got certified from her to teach others as well! The Sunday Basket system has revolutionized me and so many others.

Then in 2017, strengthened by all the aforementioned powerhouses (take note that self-improvement includes your home living environment, not just your personal self), I started my own business as a residential professional organizer! Me! Yes I did. And when your profession has a conference, you go! I attended the NAPO2018 conference in Chicago and met the woman who would become my first real business coach. Enter Jessica Butts, in the pinkest, most fabulous suit, with the loudest, smartest, most on-point keynote that spoke DIRECTLY to my core. She showed us THE WAY to live in our Front Seat. She explained that if you are trying to run your business like someone else, who has different skills than you do, you will fail because you should not do stuff you suck at! You can only run your business as YOURSELF. And your life, for that matter. Mic drop. Without knowing your Myers-Briggs type and all its strengths and weaknesses, you are trying to swim against the current and will wear yourself out never getting anywhere. So I bought her books and got the Jessica train! Even as a student in her business coaching group, I just joined her brand-new course: Live Unapologetically. When someone speaks directly to your soul, and you benefit deeply from that message, you don’t leave her side.

As a teenager of 18, my very first major in college was Psychology. I have always been fascinated by human behavior and emotions and what “makes people tick”. But in my 20s and 30s, I was missing out on figuring out what makes ME tick. In my 40s I was hot on that journey. From Gretchen to Mel to Lisa to Jessica, with high marks also to Rachel Hollis and Brene Brown, I have climbed that ladder, and solidified it with knowing and living my Myers-Briggs type.

My latest crush is not a self-improvement guru nor an organizing powerhouse. Be it known that Elizabeth Gilbert is my author and creative crush right now, and her book Big Magic is outrageously influential for me! Funnily, I absolutely hated her most successful book, Eat, Pray, Love, and even refuse to watch the movie! Bravely, in Big Magic, Elizabeth addresses the wildly polarizing effect that book had on her readership. It’s one of my favorite parts. (but I still hate EPL)

Well, this was a serious commitment, if you read all this. It has taken me way too long to write, but I was 100% committed to taking this journey. My hope is that you will look into your life and notice who has influenced you, and go back for more!

Cheers! -ryan:)

As we grieve for the Old Normal and settle in to the New Normal

April 3, 2020 – Hello and Happy [some day they call “Friday”]!

This morning I was pondering the recent 2- to 3-week “settling in” process – I bet you’ve been whirled around in a process of confusion, wonder, upset, anger, exploration, and occasional settling. We all have.

Eternally fascinated by the human brain, behavior and personality types, I find comfort in exploring my curiosity about how each individual I encounter is handing the New Normal. I, myself, am aware that I went through, and am still on the looping path of a “settling in” process.

I feel strongly that there are significant parallels here to the 5 stages of grief and loss.

“The 5 stages of grief and loss are:
1. Denial;
2. Anger;
3. Bargaining;
4. Depression;
5. Acceptance.
People who are grieving do not necessarily go through the stages in the same order or experience all of them.” – as proposed by Elisabeth KĂĽbler-Ross

1. DENIAL – I recall when “things were getting real” and everything was getting canceled…well, it’s just for big events…the group number kept dropping and eventually settled on 10. No more than 10 people together. But we can still go to people’s houses we KNOW, right? Come on! Ok, just a month, or two, max. Did we get dropped into Jumani??

2. ANGER – Looking for someone, something to blame. Easy target: Wuhan, China. I have heard: “How could they be so irresponsible? Look what THEY have done to the world?” Well, we all know this is not just because of Wuhan. We have been overtaking the natural spaces of the earth, sticking our dirty human-ness in the most ecologically complicated and earth-sustaining places for a long time. (another blogpost for another day)

3. BARGAINING – I hear people say, “Well, my life hasn’t really changed that much. I’m an introvert anyway…been waiting my whole life to be told to stay home!” etc Making memes to keep the sense of humor up which is, in all seriousness, critically important. we seek to protect our brains from descending into darkness.

4. DEPRESSION – Needing way more naps. Running out of energy by noon. More time spent just staring off in space. Often as a result of watching too much news…submitting yourself to death by a thousand cuts.

5. ACCEPTANCE – Using the term the New Normal. Casting off the old filters and applying the new one. Seeking to celebrate the undeniable benefits. Truly saying goodbye to things that are no longer and not just waiting around for that to be the norm again. Patience. Being in the NOW.

As in the typical grief process, you may experience some, not necessarily all, of the stages, and not in a typical order. and most importantly, not just one time. It’s a loop-the-loop ride, folks. we can be circling up and back multiple times in the process, sometimes over a week, even in a particularly tumultuous day. And the more information that is released, even if it’s not necessarily accurate, will affect which stage you’ll be in at any given moment.

I scrolled through my blog feed over the past 2 weeks, and I can see the stages, not necessarily anger because I’m not that kind of blogger. (positivity is my jam, but I have felt all of them, trust me). I am overjoyed that I feel about 10% more normal and settled in. That percentage can be perceived as low, but not to me. I’ll take it. Remember the new filter? The New Normal is not to be trifled with. You take what you can get and celebrate your wins. 10% feels awesome.

Do what it takes to get “there” and let “there” be what it needs to be for you at any given time. Read all day? Do it. Bake all day? Awesome. Call and/or video chat friends and loved ones all day? Absolutely.

Partaking in those activities right now are like medicine and will fortify you. Listen and observe what you need right now. You do you and then you’ll look in the proverbial rearview mirror and say, wow! Yay me! I’m kinda sorta getting more into “acceptance”. And that’s good enough, because that is strength.

Cheers! -ryan:)

You can’t deny the wisdom from certain Disney characters

April 2, 2020 — I hope you made it through the most surreal April Fool’s Day on record. If you were a prank-ER, or even a prank-EE, I hope it helped you have a small sense of “normalcy” is this new crazy world.

It’s funny how often we can quote the wisdom of Disney characters…as Dory said, “just keep swimming, swimming, swimming!” I love that. Swimming is always forward! and forward is the only way to go, mark my words. We must keep on going. (LEARNING A FEW LESSONS would be nice icing on the cake)

And Elsa, so very wise (and possibly a minimalist)…repeats “let it go, let it go…!” We must let old things fall away to be gone forever. We can and must choose move forward and feel the good vibes. Look back for strength and lessons learned…not for regret and should-haves, blames and shames. We are in a constant state of re-frame. re-adjust, re-center. re-prioritize.

What needs to change? What historically did not work, but now it’s gotta be changed?

The answer lies in (SAFE, obviously) people-to-people interaction and support. SIMPLE yet POWERFUL support. Helping people fight isolation. It’s undeniable how time spent reaching out helps you feel better within. Every single time. The difference between feeling good about something you did (for yourself) and something you did to help support someone else?? Honestly, there’s no comparison. It’s great to do stuff for yourself, but it’s GOLD to do something for someone else. You get two-fold goodness. Two-fold “GOLDNESS”. (I just made that up! It’s a thing!)

Our world is so big and so small at the same time. Does anyone else feel that? Thanks to the media and the internet we can be easily in touch with people far far away.

cup of sugar society

My crusade, if you will, is to connect both far AND near, especially near. When it gets down to it, the “cup of sugar society” is still there. We can’t hand off sugar right now, (and sugar has been demonized anyway ha), but we CAN connect in a neighbor-to-neighbor way. If we were all of a sudden cut off from all the media, who would we turn to?

Our neighbors.

“Won’t you be my neighbor?” Thank you, Fred Rogers. Oh how before your time you were! (Such beauty in his message. But that’s a blogpost for another day)

I hear you already: “But Ryan, I’ve literally never even spoken to my neighbors and they probably think I’m weird..” “But, Ryan, I’m pretty sure my neighbor hates me. I mean, we’ve never even made eye contact much less had a conversation.”

So what? Allllll that garbage is just your Head Trash Monster having a heyday. And all that garbage is thinking from the Old Normal. Elsa called an said, “let that shizz go!” (paraprashasing of course)

Y’all, these times are different. We have been unified by this mysterious, powerful unbiased enemy.

If we can’t unify and connect with our neighbors now, in the face of THIS…I hesitate to say, what a lost opportunity. And detrimental to moving forward through this.

So just start with a wave. Eye contact. Even a smile. Everyone is afraid and unsure. Let’s seek to be afraid and unsure as a community…you never know what treasures lie in there.

Cheers! -ryan:)

Please someone say, “April Fool’s!”

April 1st, 2020 — Hello, April, 2020. I can’t say that this particular March flew by like every single month before it has. Hello, April in the New Normal. And it’s no April Fool’s joke…

March 2020 was without any shadow of a doubt, the MOST life-altering month in my life EVER, including January 2000, when I became a mother for the first time. Wow, there are people becoming mothers for the first time in this New Normal. That is brave, scary and amazing, as if becoming a mother isn’t already all those things and more.

March 2020 was when pretty much EVERYTHING was simply canceled. “the Earth is closed”. It hung up its shingle and said, “none shall pass”. I remember when my husband told me “they’re canceling SXBW” and I thought, “really? wow. that’s really something…better to be safe I guess” Then no March Madness, NBA season, and pretty much EVERYTHING following that. Including school. Uh oh.

March 2020, when everyone went cuckoo for toilet paper, Lysol, and hand sanitizer. A bit different than when I was growing up on the east coast in North Carolina and “a hurricane was a-comin’!” The stores were swiped clean of batteries, water, BREAD, coffee (my mother had her priorities straight of course), ice, and canned goods.

March 2020, when the Spring Break vacation started for kids that hasn’t ended yet. Full transparency: it’s Lord of the Flies at our house. Our 2 teens that are here at home have become vampires, and only come out to feed. (that’s a blogpost for another day!) Sigh.

March 2020, when one of my hardest-working, most dedicated clients with whom I was working 8 hrs a WEEK and we were KILLING it together, making great progress, had to say, “I can’t have you over now?!?” Nope. I can’t go into ANY of my clients’ homes right now and it breaks my heart! There’s magic there that I miss so much.

March 2020, when we found ourselves with more time at home than we’ve EVER had, except for when we had our first newborn, but even then my mother-in-law was at home with us, supporting us in that special New Normal of tired confusion and deep love.

January 2000, new mama

March 2020, when we all found out that we were going to be home-schoolers. Y’all, I was an actual teacher for my entire 20s, and have an actual teaching DEGREE and training and skills yet I don’t even know wtf is going to happen with my kids’ schooling! Yikes.

March 2020, when everything went into Zoom, FaceTime, including all meetings, exercise classes and even hanging out with girlfriends! The other day I was doing a Zoom yoga class and there was my around the corner neighbor, ha! Big, small world.

my awesome March of writing!!!

March 2020, when I uncovered my true, unadulterated LOVE for writing because the freight train hamster wheel that was my life, and all our lives, was put on PAUSE. My morning practice of gratitude journaling became longer. I started reading too! The book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert finally made it off the shelf and into my hands, changing me forever. Opening me up to what had been inside, but covered up by manic SCHEDULES. The PAUSE button has given me that gift. I am, in turn, hopefully, sharing that gift with you, too. 🙂 The picture is my March “record” of writing using the 750 words website. A bright spot in this new crazy world.

A treasured gift, and one among many, actually, if we are being honest and awake.

Have you seen ALL THE PEOPLE OUT WALKING??? (Ok, Austin has great weather right now, but still) Have you enjoyed the NOT RAT RACE? The “mom taxis” are not running. We are eating up all the food in the (albeit dirty dirty) house. Everyone’s pets are in Heaven with their people home all the time!

Have you been loving on your friends and family more than ever via phone and over Zoom? I’ve talked to more friends live on the actual phone that I’ve not spoken to in years. Why? Because we are all in this TOGETHER. It’s a unifying force.

Heads up RIGHT here, people. If you’re still reading this, here’s the GOLD:

Have you noticed a re-prioritization of your true values?

If not, drop everything. (you have time now) I mean it. Stop, and get QUIET.

Sit alone, preferably early when no one else is up. Or when everyone is napping or asleep. Or on a walk with no earbuds in. Welcome some silence.

You have beautiful things that have been knocked loose are now swirling around in your head that absolutely need your attention. They are jumping up and down like a 4 year old that needs to be taken to the potty RIGHT NOW. Listen.

Please.

Accept the gifts that are right here, for YOU. Now.

Cheers! -ryan:)

When EVERYTHING breaks…

March 31st — Yesterday was a Cat in the Hat rainy weather day. Perfect for a Monday. It started like this:

Me: “Alexa, what’s the weather today?”
Alexa: “I’m sorry but I can’t connect to the internet right now…”

Yesterday we experienced abject fear.

In the grand scheme of things, where the health and safety of humanity are the ultimate goals, it truly seems petty, I know. I’m fully aware of that saying of “1st world problems”…

But when you realize that everyone’s offices now are in Zoom and on the internet, technology is a must. It’s not a luxury. Face-to-face meetings can only happen in video chat now, and let’s be honest, phone conversations are just not the same sometimes. And if you haven’t tested out keeping up with distant family over FaceTime and Zoom yet, it is so much fun and facilitates that imperative connection…it’s absolutely essential right now.

As my husband said, “To shelter in place with working, reliable internet: no big deal. Easy peasy. But shelter in place with failing, dicey technology?!? Watch the heads start spinning in complete circles. NOT AN OPTION” We have businesses to keep afloat, keeping ourselves and our employees who trust us also afloat and not panicking. You can’t do that without the ability to be on the internet reliably.

Personally, I’m way more old-school than anyone in my family in that I will still watch tv or a movie and not also be on my phone. I sometimes sit and eat without my phone. (Crazy, huh?) I love to sit outside and look at the sky tech-free. I even talk to people on elevators and in line…I know!

But you take away my internet at home during shelter-in-place, and we have a PROBLEM. This extrovert needs her ZOOM time both for business and social. This ADD mind needs focus. Her kids become super irritable, which cuts into everyone’s flow. Basically, everything tends to come a screaming, chaotic halt.

It was a real mess.

We spent literally all day (and some of the previous day Sunday) in some form of troubleshooting, waiting on hold with Spectrum (oh the joys), entertaining workmen, and my favorite: testily asking each other, “OMG what are we gonna do?? Who do we call? And some barking, too: “Get someone over here to fix this!! Go buy another router, go buy SOMETHING from Best Buy to FIX THIS NOW.”

Good times, right? But hey, burn through the hotspots. We gotta work!

If you read my blog from a few days ago about “other peoples’ ZOGs,” here’s some evidence to back that up.

Luckily, we got Michael Bennett of Bennett Technologies to come over and peel us off the ceiling and FIX all our issues. His ZOG. NOT ours. A real godsend!

Let me just say that my whole family is quite tech-savvy and they do all kinds of stuff tech-related that makes my head spin, but when you have the dreaded STRESS GOGGLES on, all bets are off. One literally cannot think straight.

So, after all the drama of the energy-draining day of panic and stress and burning our phones’ hot spots, we are good. We even got our Spectrum plan lowered in the process: go figure! So there was actually a bright spot from having had to endure a 1 hour and 11 minute phone call with 3 different Spectrum representatives (crazy googly-eyed face here).

What’s the lesson? It can be best relayed in a favorite saying here in Texas:

If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute!

PATIENCE, y’all. Persistence, and patience. (breathing helps, too)

I make no false promises of that being easy, but you can’t force it. Calmly, methodically approach a situation and identify the next, best step.

Instead of calling Spectrum back not ONE HOUR after the worker left and all ceased working, we realized we should call that awesome network drop guy we have used in the past and see if he could possibly come fix or at least identify the problem.

Consult someone else’s ZOG. It’s a win every time. (and we supported a local small business!!! Win-win!!)

Not 20 minutes after all the wifi was back up and humming, my amazing sister-in-law popped in with a video call to the Google Home and we had the greatest catch up full of chuckles, stories and shared frustrations with raising teens (especially right now).

No wonder I feel so good today. I’ll take it.

I might even seek out a Dr Suess book in the house and read it, soaking in all those warm fuzzies.

Cheers! -ryan:)

Heads up: vulnerable blog post

March 30, 2020 — It’s a fresh week! I love a fresh week but honestly I’m still pretty off.

Morning is my time. I have energy and bandwidth. Later in the day it’s a real crap shoot. I can’t count on getting anything done really.

I think imposter syndrome is rearing its head. We wear so many hats and there’s an accompanying imposter for each of those: mother, sister, daughter, friend, neighbor, yogi, athlete, household manager, community activist, business owner, professional, you name it. If we think we have some sort of perceived role then we line right up to tear ourselves down about how we suck at it!

What is it about control? Does control equal

focus?? The very idea of control right now is laughable.

The concept of failure stops us in our tracks, often before we can even get started. The expectations are large and heavy. Self-invented, yet they feel real.

Today I will avoid over-investing in expectations of any particular outcome, progress or system for myself. It’s back to basics. Nothing more. The moment I think “ok, today I’ll do (something that I’ve decided is important)” and then when I literally can’t and the day is falling away, it’s that mental battle on repeat. It’s over before I can even start.

I am ok, really, but I’m suffocating under layers of global uncertainty and it’s going to take some time to wade through and claw out from under.

Here’s my one and ONLY plan: (and feel free to try it yourself)

I will get energy from looking back over the past 2 weeks and noting with a sense of accomplishment and wonderful gratitude for what I HAVE DONE and what positive things are now a welcome part of my life.

Like having my husband home not traveling. Like going on countless walks and seeing friendly people out everywhere. Like hearing kids outside! Like not feeling time stress. Like blogging my head off and feeling like a WRITER. Like reading books that have been staring at my from my shelf for ages. Like cooking up the produce before it goes bad. Like doing online yoga many days. Like playing fun tennis with fun friends. Like calling distant friends relatives and having warm, engaging conversations. Like sitting out front in the evening and chatting up the neighbors as they venture out for walks.

I just re-read that list and already found myself defaulting to those thoughts of “but here’s what you should be doing…“

BACK OFF, Head Trash Monster. Nobody is buying what you’re selling today.

Life is actually great and I’m doing a great job!

And so are you!!

Cheers! -ryan:)

Your “pause” button has been pressed…

Stress goggles!

March 28, 2020 — Is anyone feeling a bit trepidatious of when we are “let out” and then it’s going to be a wild frenzy of running around again, a RE-reprioritizing of the New Normal but with revived elements from the old? The second school is back in, the classes, the activities, the meetings are all back on in person, you will be forced to make choices or they will be made for you.

The Stress Goggles are waiting…

Right now, when it’s a relatively calm environment, albeit an odd, strange calm with an unfathomable element to it, it’s still calm. You can’t deny it. If you’re NOT feeling it, then you need to take a second and notice if you’re applying the old filters. Laundry and dishes can wait, they will be there.

Take a few deep breaths. What can you gently yet firmly take advantage of right now that will be very difficult after the air horn goes off and they say, “GO!!!” and the lunacy begins anew?

I want you to sit for a moment, think back to 3 or 4 weeks ago, to your life “B.C.” (before coronavirus), and catalog the things that were difficult, challenging, keeping you in that (here come the cliches) “under the gun” “behind the 8-ball” state? Another way to put it is:

If someone could’ve pressed the Pause Button for you, what aspect of your day or life would you have immediately re-evaluated and put a doable system in place for yourself?? What small, yet tactical set of actions would you have created or implemented? Something seemingly minimal, yet so very helpful, that would then become essential, and seamless?

I am a constant seeker of new systems that I hope will work for me. I join and purchase memberships into communities that offer structure and accountability that will raise my success rate a little, but honestly, I’m always hoping for it raising a lot. But that all depends on if it is something I, Ryan, can fully integrate and make it something that easily (read: automatically) runs itself inside my life and brain and actions.

Before the shizz hit the fan and sent “normal life” into orbit and was replaced by this New Normal, I was specifically working on the One Thing I felt would give me tools to solve issues that were bringing me down on a consistent basis, shredding my confidence as a person, mom, so-called organizing expert, all of that:

It’s called last-minute living. Hair on fire moments. Running around in Stress Goggles.

Feeling like I sucked, all the time. Spending energy tearing myself down by giving the Head Trash Monster free reign in my brain.

Last-minute living is characterized by, but not limited to, the following stressors:

poor calendaring
arriving late
missing events completely
overpaying for items or re-buying
arriving unprepared
doubling back for forgotten items
time wasted going in circles looking for things
wasted time that then consequently consume time set for [exercise, self-care]
expired opportunities that would have been fun
wasted gift cards/coupons that would have provided fun experiences or monetary gain
yelling at family members

Just writing all this down ignites all those above-mentioned emotions in me that helped me identify the absolute need to examine what was happening daily and what things I could do to have any hope of improving (or even, SOLVE) some of these issues. I was desperate. Interestingly, my particular flavor of last-minute living was way more prevalent before the ‘shelter-in-place’ order, but it’s still relevant.

As a P, (a creative, right-brained, not type-A, a squirrel), it means that I function most easily when I “figure things out as I go along”. I’m good on my feet, I can pivot, I don’t stress too hard about details. Wellllll, that type of functioning has its negative outcomes, (see the list above!)

People who are more J, (structured, left-brained, type-A, planners), can more easily dedicate their focus to tasks that contribute to a more planned out, prepared execution of their day, a project, whatever it is on deck for them. (that takes more effort for me)

Don’t get me wrong: I love how I am. It has as many benefits as detriments. Everyone is a work in progress, and knowing your strengths and weaknesses is the special sauce. Your super-power. I have the tools in me to create the systemic habits that will raise my success rate and therefore, silence that Head Trash Monster and let me have more and more Yay Me Moments.

CALM is what I seek. When I am calm, I am successful. When I FEEL successful, I am unstoppable. You’ll find me in my Zone of Genius.

Cheers:)

Collect lots of ZOGs in your life

March 27, 2020 — (This post was inspired by some good energy flowing around)

Naturally, we spend a lot of time thinking about ourselves and our faults and our to do lists and the demands on our lives and time. It’s all-encompassing. It’s never-ending. It’s a full-time job, actually. It actually is our job. If we don’t do it, then who will? The need for self-improvement in our lives, our work life, is an ongoing process that began when we were little and continues every single day.

The driving need to achieve, be productive, access our talents and give them to the world gets us out of bed every day and as well it should! The more you work at it, adjusting it as you learn more about yourself, the stronger you become in your resolve that you are on the right path.

The critical piece is to focus on and zero in on what you are absolutely, brilliantly amazing at.

You are capable of countless things.
You are good at lots of things.
You are even excellent at many things, too.

But you are GENIUS at a few special things, things that originate directly from your soul. Those special skills are what make you dance in your skin, where everything flows so easily because it’s your ZONE OF GENIUS. Each and every one of us has one. (Book suggestion: The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks)

Ironically, you recognize everyone else’s ZOGs long before your own, when you get caught up in that magic that radiates out from them making your world a better place. Stop and make a list of people you go to for their ZOG or, if you don’t know what I mean, then make a list of those people that you seek out specifically for that “it” factor. If you’re lucky, you will have a long list!

There are people you (gladly) pay to benefit from their ZOGs: your doctor, your massage therapist, your chiropractor, your fitness trainer, your yoga teacher, your business coach, your counselor, your favorite author, your professional organizer, your aesthetician, your graphic designer, your mechanic etc etc. You KNOW when you have these people in your life because you wouldn’t DREAM of missing an appointment with them and you cry when they move away!! You go to them for their magic and bask in their superpowers and are better for having sought out their help.

Equally important are the are people you befriend for their ZOGs: your amazing friend (the bff) who always listens to every single one of your stories and problems like there’s nothing more important in the world to them, your workout buddy (the accountability partner) that draws you to show up and be the best athlete you can be just by being with them, your neighbor (the connector) who literally knows absolutely every best contact for any problem you might have, the family member (the archivist) that remembers literally everyone and everything about your family, including every story, memory and birthday! These people provide something essential yet so easily to your life that you couldn’t imagine how you’d function without them.

If you’re lucky, you’ll have list of teachers, too, that found the Golden Ticket and were able to pair their ZOG with their career. I know I have a few in mind!

Pay full attention to this next point:

Each one of these “go to” people, the paid and the unpaid, let me be crystal clear, never ever makes you feel inadequate about yourself because you know that you are the benefactor of something that they uniquely are so amazing at that you’d never fault them…instead, you THANK THEM! Even your Head Trash Monster is temporarily silent because it too recognizes and respects a Zone of Genius!

I find that gathering others’ ZOGs around me fills in my gaps, which is a relief because it would be exhausting (and impossible) to try and be AMAZING at everything. So, my advice is to not bark up that insurmountable mountain. Instead, accept the gift that comes your way when you are around someone’s ZOG.

And then, shout out it out to others!! Champion and trumpet their gifts out to the world! (ZOGs grow and strengthen with use) If we all connected with each other’s ZOGs…wow!!!! Fireworks!! Maybe even world peace?

PS — Identify YOURS if you haven’t already. You have one! EVERYONE does. And there are people who NEED YOURS, too! (refer to the book suggestion above, or simply google “find my zone of genius“)

Time for some new filters, but not the Snapchat kind (although those are so fun!)

March 26, 2020 — Here’s a lesson I welcomed into my reality yesterday: sift your priorities through a new filter. If you’re hitting walls, feeling…. yes, I’m going to say it, UNPRODUCTIVE, you absolutely need to reassess your priorities. There’s a new filter on our collective lives right now. The virus. It’s a filter though, not a wall. Stay with me.

If you were all of a sudden house-bound back during the “old normal”, you would just carry on and be productive in the old normal way. You’d likely be killing it because you just got all this staycation time and everything is as you have known for ages. You have ALL your energy and focus PLUS time??? What a gift!!

However, now you’re housebound, but almost everything is radically DIFFERENT. Your brain and heart are stuffed with “what if??” and all these unknowns about how long this will be, and so many certain dire ramifications on the economy and social interaction going forward that it’s like the proverbial square peg in a round hole.

But it’s just a different filter. Life carries on. Of course it does.

So, I encourage you to PICK UP a new peg and search for its right hole. You will likely have to pick up several pegs and try several holes. And some days the peg will work and other days not so much. All of a sudden I’m reminded of those plastic shape-sorter toys for toddlers that encourage them to put different shapes into their matching holes, teaching them mental and physical dexterity…star, square, circle, oval, triangle. After getting them all in, you then open the toy releasing the shapes, and START ALL OVER. Learning and practicing, on repeat.

That’s what it’s going to take in this period of uncertainty, change and reprioritization.

I’m actually looking forward to that time when we are allowed back into society and then our lives “return to normal” not just for the reasons that are obvious, but because I’m going to have re-adjusted my priorities. I will have seen and felt what it’s like to have my family at home all around me, being together with all its ups and downs, felt that “slower” life of not driving everywhere all the time, enjoyed a not psychotically over-scheduled day, done yoga or taken walks every single day…and I’ll realize:

OHHHHHHHH. This is how it’s meant to be. More like when the babies were little little. Parks, sprinklers in the yard, sidewalk chalk, puzzles, reading, cooking, extended bath time, tending to the house and each other. Being home a lot more.

There was a certain deep sweetness to that slower pace of life. Even though it’s crazy and scary right now with the virus threat, I still feel some of that sweetness now. I hear more kids outside and see lots more people on walks, riding, walking dogs. I hear fewer cars whooshing down the street. We are cooking and talking. (Not so much CLEANING…ha!) Truly, my house is filthy, but I don’t actually care that much right now. Not a priority.

It’s nice in this surreal yet real way.

I encourage you to cast off old filters and seek to try on these new ones, and note how nicely that square peg fits into its right hole.

Cheers to you on your daily journey. And always tell yourself, “yay me!” because you rock!

Are you getting distracted by “OPGs”? I sure am…

From my daily affirmation book today!

March 25, 2020 — Hello, Wednesday that feels like any other day…are your days blurring together, too?

Caveat: I am a creative. If you are super Type-A, this blogpost may turn you off! I will not be offended if you click away right now and go enjoy something else with your time. Now let’s get down to it…

Words that describe how I’ve been feeling during this New Normal:

rudderless
unsure
expansive
creative
relaxed
deflated
introspective
grateful
connected
thoughtful
unhurried
panicked
overwhelmed
concerned
overindulging
stripped down to the basics

We are in a period of constant re-adjustment: of our schedules, our priorities, our businesses, our basic day-to-day functioning. And there is literally no operations manual by which to be guided. Even if there was, it would change daily, if not hourly. Until 3 weeks ago, we were living in oblivion as to how RADICALLY our lives would be changed. No one saw this shizzshow coming.

Personally, in the Old Normal, I was focusing hard on honing my daily schedule and seeking to be on time and prepared and feeling pretty good about my strides there. Now, that feels unimportant. And frankly almost silly! How quickly things changed.

If you’re online at all, and likely you are, it’s not long before you’re getting lots of advice: (and I fully admit to being one of the advice-givers!)

keep to a schedule
exercise and eat well
get dressed (wear a bra LOL)
don’t watch too much news
find connection
make a meal plan
get lots of sleep
brush and floss your teeth
use this time for something important
meditate

At this point, I’ll refer back to my list above of the emotions I’m feeling during this period of “wtf happened to the world”… it runs the gamut.

I wonder if you’re feeling oppressed by OPGs? “Other People’s Goals”

You gotta do you right now. Everyone is at different mind-places multiple times a day. Until you’re ready to “keep to a schedule” or “find connection”, you’re going to drill yourself down thinking, “keep to a schedule? but I just can’t right now!” Give me a few hours. “Find connection? Okay.” Then you spend 5 hours calling people. (I’d say time WELL spent actually, but I bet you’ll beat yourself up for “wasting time” am I right?)

It’s not about planning out whole days and weeks (and a month??? what even is that??? seems like a year). It’s about HOURS right now. I know I am cycling through a multitude of energy highs and lows each day. I am wandering through my dirty dirty house and thinking “someone should vacuum! I should have taught my kids to vacuum when they notice (LOL) the floor is this dirty.” (Oh the Head Trash Monster is having a field day right now with everyone’s pysches…tabling that discussion for another blogpost)

But I don’t want to vaccuum. I really don’t. I will ride the energy of what is working for me. (I did actually get the vacuum out and it’s sitting in the middle of the floor…progress)

True story: I was so rudderless yesterday afternoon that I went upstairs, downstairs, out to the garage, the front yard, the back yard, and THEN, finally, I grabbed my computer, sat in the living room and went to town deleting pointless files off my desktop, and loaded and tidied my Google Drive instead! What an unexpected win. (and when I opened my laptop this morning it was so gloriously tidy)

But that was NOT on my “to do list”. Do you get what I’m saying?

MY goals are governed by my ENERGY right now. And that’s totally okay. It’s like physical therapy after a car accident. You can’t run until you re-train your legs to even walk steadily.

Give yourself grace, which means do what feels right for now. No judgment. No thinking about OPGs. Just yours. Hey, if you take a few quiet moments to be introspective, you will find the things that ARE working well for you right now. And you’d better say “yay me”! Again and again.

I’m sitting down right now to revamp my 90-day goals. Or I might not:)

Thanks for reading this as a gift of your precious time to me. Cheers! Comments welcome!

A thank you to someone I’ll never be able to directly thank (a tale of perspective)


Old Hag or Fair Maiden?

March 24, 2020 — I woke up really “off” this morning, partially because I had some really weird anxious dreams which I won’t upset you with, but also with some random leg pains. So, my normal morning joy was a bit compromised as I sat down with my gratitude journal and a lovely cup of coffee in my comfy chair.

Luckily, with all this “new” time we currently have on our hands, I am less concerned with judging my energy or mood, because the day ahead is simple: staying at home instead of rat-racing around doing a million unimportant things. What a change in perspective from a short 2 weeks ago.

I want to share another radical alteration of perspective I had a few short months ago.

This past January as I started the new decade, I turned the big FIVE-OH. Yep. No one loves a big birthday like that, let’s be honest, but I wasn’t overly dreading it. But I wasn’t jumping up and down excited about it either. When I think back to when I turned 30 and 40, I sought to honor each decade beginning my life’s new phases. (and truth be told, I usually mentally frown upon others who vocalize such dread about 30 and 40-don’t you? oh those foolish babes!)

But, approaching 50, I definitely experienced more of those “50 is the true start of OLD” thoughts. Thanks to greeting cards of black balloons, being almost 11 months older than my hubby, and ribbing from BOTH my big AND little brothers (it’s their job, I get it!), it was easy to go there and think, O.L.D.

So, I went to yoga class on the Monday before my actual birthday, and the teacher went around the room to check in with each of us. When he got to me I said, “Wellllllll, this time next week I’ll be (drama here)…50” Obviously I was expecting (and clearly inviting) some reactions from fellow attendees in the tone of “welcome to the old club, you poor thing” type stuff, but what I heard instead rocked me in a such beautiful way:

Someone sighed out, “Ohhhhh…fifty….”

Like it was 21, or 25 or 29 or something super YOUNG.

Right then, in that micro-moment, I cast off that “50 is the start of being old” shizz and donned the “50 is freaking YOUNG!!! Let’s do this!!!” True story.

I will never know who gave me that amazing gift of perspective change. I would like to thank her with a huge hug (assuming we will be able to hug strangers ever again!) because what a GIFT.

Whenever I grumble, ache, or look at what I still want to accomplish in my life and think, “if only I’d gotten started 10 years ago on…[this business, this project, this relationship with myself] I would be able to do so much more…” I channel that mysterious, generous voice in the yoga studio:

“Ohhhhh…fifty…..”

Let’s do this staycation thing. The earth, the universe, whatever you believe, is TELLING YOU SOMETHING.

Listen. Hear. Act.

Don’t overthink it. Just invite the space to move the needle forward on something you couldn’t possibly imagine doing in between mom-taxi, demanding work travel, caring for everyone but yourself, over-volunteering, whatever!

I bet you signed up for at least one program to do SOMETHING fun, important, whimsical, introspective or collaborative but then lost touch with it. I have a LONG list of those too.

Pick one! Log in. Just play and explore. I’d love to hear about it if you want to share! I’m here to cheer us on:)

Make Frida proud!

I had a “lightbulb moment” this morning in my creative thinking time: the USE IT OR LOSE IT CHALLENGE…

We are in a life-altering state right now, as a GLOBE.

I want you think of this period as your “Frida Kahlo time”. Frida Kahlo, one of the greatest artists of all time, in my opinion, possibly would never have painted her great works and given us the gifts of her soul’s pain in the form of the art that she did. Her life took a hard left turn after a bus accident and landed her in bed, in deep pain, for extended periods of time. Did she throw away that time? No. Likely she spent much time wallowing and sad and angry at her situation…but who wouldn’t? Medical advancements were not amazing in Mexico City in the mid-1920s. It is documented that she was in incredible pain but she channeled her desire to improve and BECOME a true artist while in bed in a body cast. I share this from Wikipedia:

“Painting became a way for Kahlo to explore questions of identity and existence, and she later stated that the accident and the isolating recovery period made her desire ‘to begin again, painting things just as [she] saw them with [her] own eyes and nothing more.’ ”

She is described as “self-taught”. Does this not blow your socks off? (If you have never seen her art, it’s powerful, frightening, captivating and repelling, all at the same time. Her whole life’s story is. You can lose hours reading about it! But finish reading this blogpost first!)

Another example is Wesley Hamilton who was shot when he was running around in tough crowds and was rendered a permanent paraplegic…consequently he established the “Disabled but not really” movement and his mission to empower others in similar circumstances to focus on health and fitness. He truly and firmly believes that his injury that landed him forever in a wheelchair was the BEST THING that ever happened to him. The trajectory of his life was altered radically, but he turned that into a positive, not only for himself, but for countless others.

And take Drew Lynch, after getting hit in the throat with a baseball and his vocal cords forever rendered with a severe stutter, became a STAND UP COMEDIAN following his deeply depressed recovery. Now, he shares that it was the BEST THING to happen to him, because he knows, in retrospect, that he was a 1st class jerk. He treated others terribly. It took a completely life-altering injury to shine a light on himself, and he transformed that experience lesson to now bring laughter to countless others: laughter mostly at his own expense!

My husband, a super-smart man with a big brain and talent for decades, just last week, finally wrote an article that had been in him waiting to be unleashed as soon as he could find time, which he had none of in his crazy travel schedule. Out it came, with ease! Thank you, quarantine.

You have so many options as to how you’re going to deal with this time. And we have no idea how much time it is!

There are active and passive methods. You can just “ride it out” and get up every day and do your regular stuff like exercise, eat well, work, and wait for the world to give you the next instructions. That is not a bad tactic, if you are content with that. That is the passive method, and you can look back on this time of change and note, “I kept on keeping on” and I assure you, there is nothing wrong with that.

You can also 100% commit to running around your house cleaning up all the messes that others are making, and your house will look better for that. That is your choice if you make it. No one is making you do that, so accept that you are choosing that route. (And you can un-choose that FYI)

Or, and this is my wish for you, you can be open to EXPANDING YOURSELF in this time of change! You have way more time at home and so much less running around either on kids’ schedules, or social schedules, or travel schedules. Remember that freight train hamster wheel? (It will be back…)

What program(s) or group(s) did you sign up for, paid MONEY for, and have barely ever even logged in? What were you hoping to gain from that? It’s very common to envision that improved you, sign up, and NEVER follow up. How about now?? NOW???

Please view this time as a gift with which you have choice. I can’t stress this enough: DO NOT beat yourself up for any past choices or money spent. JUST LOG IN. Sit there and learn what you told yourself you wanted, and likely paid money for. GO. Expand yourself.

Personally, I am walking around my dirty, dirty house with its piles of laundry and sink of dishes and doing stuff I CHOOSE to do (like writing!) Funnily, I don’t find the laundry and dishes as high on my list as they used to be, because we are all home. It will get done. It’s liberating. I may go on a 30-minute cleaning spree, or I might not. I will follow my energy!

People, I am an ENFP and I take it seriously: I am an “inspirer” and I find it my mission to nudge you towards your creativity and saying “yay me” often.

So, what’s it going to be? Just be OPEN. Be STILL. Receive your energy and use it where it needs to be used! It’s a gift. NOW. Allow it to land on you.

Cheers! You’ve got this.

#useitorloseit #makefridaproud #chooseyou

Advice for our “New Normal”

March 18, 2020 — It’s undeniably crazy out there, y’all, so here’s my advice: FOLLOW YOUR ENERGY. Be real and raw and from the heart, but keep your head on your shoulders and do those things that help keep you on your path.

Normal will be back, in whatever form it will take, but now is survival mode. You must do what you can do to get the ship righted. And, you can’t expect yourself to “presto” and be something you weren’t BEFORE all this like:
1) perfect homeschool mom 2) daily workout queen 3) organize every single thing in the whole house 4) gardener extraordinaire 5) community leader saving the world 6) scrapbook every baby photo in the house for all of your kids 7) read every item in that 15-book high stack on your nightstand…do you hear what I’m saying?

But you CAN work slowly in any of these directions if you HONOR YOUR ENERGY. You have to evolve, more than ever. Notice what is working and what isn’t. Do you need to take little nap at 10:30am? Do you need to just get out and walk because you’re antsy? Do you need to pull everything out of the junk drawer? Do you need to bake a boatload of baked goods and share with the neighbors? Do you need to call all your relatives one by one and check on them? Do you need to look at all your babies’ photo albums and cry? Do you need to sit in a chair and read all day? Do you need to order pizza and play games with your family? Do you need to go through every paper in the filing cabinet? Then do just that. It’s so important.

Do not set yourself up with some “ideal” that will just squash you before you get started. Baby steps following your energy will get you through each day, and we don’t know what each day will bring because it changes on a dime. We are in a state of adapting, multiple times a day! Remember 3 days ago? We had 4 extra kids over and watching movies and swimming in the pool. Now, today? We wouldn’t dream of being so inconsiderate of others’ health and safety!

Ride the wave. Listen to your energy.

However, you must still continue to do some of those things from “old normal” because that’s who you are. That was when we could focus on something that didn’t change with every other news report. Morning mediation, journaling, exercising or whatever you can do to start the day with only yourself and your thoughts and feelings…this is more important than ever. Keep boundaries against TMI in the news. Check in with your heart and what keeps you on your path. Others are counting on you to keep on keeping on.

No one has the answers, we are in this together.

What is PaperPalooza? And why do you need to attend? read on…

March 12, 2019 — Yes!!  Your paper sucks.  Admit it.  When you need an important document, you have to carve out half a day (and therefore letting your other stuff pile up…) to SEARCH.  What if you need to get out of your house because there’s a gas leak or something worse?  Will you have the insurance info with you?  How easily do you get those taxes papers together as the big date of April 15th approaches…FYI it happens every single year.

PaperPalooza 1

Getting your papers organized on your own is about as much fun and clean out the storage shed or the garage, on a hot day.   But there is HOPE and it’s called PaperPalooza!

Yes!!  It’s fun!  Distractions from family minimized.  Food and beverages provided.  Shredding bins to feed all your old papers into.  And a BIG LONG TABLE to work at.  Of course, personal guidance from me, your own on-site professional organizer and cheerleader!  Look at these busy bees in the pictures:  they arrived with hot messes and left with LESS PAPER, a clear vision, and relief from chaos.

You want to sign up NOW.  Space is limited.  Time is of the essence.  Click here:

You need this.  You’ll be so happy.  You’ll breathe easier in the CRAAAAZY world.

The weirdest things end up in your closet.

(this odd blog post was inspired by one of my client photos from 2018)

You know it’s true. You go into your closet, you find…odd things. You have no one to blame but yourself. Who else would have brought these things in there? Unless they are kids’ toys…I used to LOVE playing in my mother’s closet. Oh, the dress up options! (the long flowy nightgowns, belted of course, heels, and lots of jewelry were my jam)



Looking at this picture reminds me of the Sesame Street segment called “One of these things is NOT like the others” LOL My favorite item in the left-side “before” picture in this closet is…can you guess?? Yes, the roll of tp!

How does toilet paper, just ONE roll, get in there? If tp could talk… Chances are, the person was on the way to refill the roll and needed say, to change clothes??

We do odd things these days because we are distracted these days by all. the. things. So look up occasionally, because you might just find a roll of tp in the closet.

Tidying up plus EDUCATED donating: a combo that SPARKS JOY for this eco-organizer

March 11, 2019 — “Tastes great!! Less filling!!”  Remember the ferocity of that chant?  Well, it has nothing on the polarizing effects of “Marie Kondo talk” in a room full of professional organizers.  LOOK OUT!  However,  this blog post is not about the pros or cons of the KonMari method, nor of the merits of decluttering. (there are already plenty of those out there)

After reading how thrift stores are overrun lately with worthless, unusable donations, I’m here to passionately addresses a this newly pressing issue:  Americans do not get HOW TO DONATE in such a way that their cast-offs MAKE A DIFFERENCE to someone else.  Here’s an opportunity to LIFT OTHERS UP with items they need and you no longer want!!

Way before I even became an organizer in people’s homes, I recall pulling together items in my own object-overrun house, being very excited to “get rid of it”, but then noticing a few things:  “the school really needs those school supplies and good shorts” and “the lady down the street loves books for her grandkids” and “my friend needs these maternity clothes” etc etc.  So, even though it took more effort, I ALWAYS distributed items instead of one-stop donating.  I literally couldn’t force myself to take it all to a big-box donation spot. (and imagine if I’d known about Austin Creative ReUse back then!?!! Or the H4H Restore?)

Am I advocating that everyone do this?  No, of course not!  (I’m realistic) but get online and find FB groups like the Buy Nothing Project, Craigslist free and Offer Up free who are making it so very easy and satisfying to get your castoffs into someone’s else hands.  Once you start participating in this FREECYCLING life, you’ll be addicted in 0.0 seconds.

But just honor some basic donating etiquette, citizens!  Do NOT donate your dirty, ripped, USELESS trash to donation sites.  They are almost exclusively run by volunteers and do not have time, money, or resources to then toss YOUR trash!  Nor will they likely want to return to that place to spend their precious volunteer time and deal with YOUR GARBAGE.  Please, either throw away your stuff, or even better, take them to places that recycle textiles, electronics, batteries, lightbulbs, or basically anything that shouldn’t go in the landfill.  A quick Google search will fill you with hope and options. Or simply find a local church to drop off your GOOD stuff and benefit others.

Go forth and donate, properly!  And check out my tab Give Where You Live🙂img_0828

 

on being “too” prepared…

July 23, 2018 — Are you automatically frustrated when you get home with items you just purchased and can’t even put them away without a major project of trying to make room??

Thanks to Costco, Amazon subscriptions, and stores everywhere, we have gotten into a habit of being PREPARED. Sure, it’s great to have things you use on hand all the time, but are you keeping too much around? Are you “too” prepared? Are your supplies becoming clutter? Do you accidentally re-buy things because you didn’t know you already had PLENTY of plastic cutlery for the party you’re having? Guilty!

Before After Sundries

I’m spending more time looking at what I have on hand, and trying to be purposeful about it. I’m more likely to use it if I can FIND it easily. It’s having a calming effect on me.

Things are so easy to buy now, via Amazon, Instacart, and more online shopping than ever before, so just use what you have! And fill in the gaps only when they happen. And enjoy the space that you’ll recover, both in your cabinets and your mind:)

Peace, y’all!

Obvious question: Are your kids BORED?? (Help is on the way!)

 

img_0315July 10, 2018 — I know, Master of the Obvious here, but I want you to know that there’s HELP for this problem!  It’s July and summer is already half over (yikes!) and you pretty much want to murder your kids.  They are USELESS, RESTLESS, and way OVERSCREEN-TIMED, wouldn’t you agree?  Why won’t they get out and DO something?!?

Reason #4639 why I love Austin:  we have a plethora of funky, interesting places here.  And this one hits all the good points:   it’s cheap, it’s earth-friendly, it’s awesome.  And it’s getting a cult following!

Austin Creative Reuse stole my heart in early 2018 when someone told me there was a place to donate office supplies, games, art supplies and the like.  My clients always give away that kind of thing, so I took a load to donate and was blown away!  I immediately went on FB Live and well…watch here!

So, get out the door and go to ACR and let the creativity flow!

BUT WAIT!!!  First check on your art supplies, craft supplies, games, office supplies, wrapping supplies and see if you have some stuff you thought you’d use, but NEVER WILL.  The last thing I want is for you to bring a bunch of stuff into your house (even though it’s cheap and environmentally sound) and then come crying to me that your house got more cluttered.  Even one small shopping bag will make you happy. Click here to see a list of what they accept.  Trust me, after you go, you’ll want to come home and fill 10 bags to take with you on your second visit!  Take pics with your phone to help jog your memory when your get home.

I hope you have a blast there and set your kids up for some crafting fun to get you through the rest of the summer!  Check on their hours; since they are a non-profit, they have limited hours.  I know you will LOVE IT!!  They offer workshops and volunteer slots, too.  Like them on Facebook, and follow them on Instagram, too!

Challenge:  in August, talk to your favorite teachers about ACR!!  They can outfit their classroom 1000 times cheaper and donate their extra clutter.  Offer to help them, since they are strapped for time, but ALL TEACHERS need this place!!

 

I love surprises…

June 28, 2018 — There’s nothing that makes you feel more “legit” as a business owner than when you check your email and find a message from your online scheduler that says: “(name of complete stranger) has scheduled a consultation with you”.

A mind-blowing moment, I assure you.

Recover. Click over to the scheduler, and yep, there it is. A real live person found MY website and scheduled with ME. Too exciting!

Now what?

Ok. Email her and ask if she’s good with Facetime-ing the consultation so I can see her organizational struggles in real life while we talk. Check, that works for her.

At last, the appointed time comes and I “call” her via FT and there she is…

A MILLENNIAL??!!  

Back up. All of my clients up to this point have been Gen-Xers or older; or younger, like teens, so imagine my surprise and delight! I was immediately impressed with her proactive stance towards getting herself on the path to “adulting” as a grownup who purchased her very own condo. However, the pace of her life and work had taken a serious toll on her living situation and left her condo in such a state that she was reticent to invite anyone over.

I encounter this all the time. We are living by fast furious schedules which don’t lend kindly towards having a home where we want to have guests.  Frustrating!

But, impressively, she knew about the existence of people like me, professional organizers who know what to do and how to teach skills and strategies to change things for the better. Therefore opening up the possibility, even the probability, of inviting some peeps over for Millennial-type activities, probably involving juicing and/or quinoa.

KIDDING!!! (Disclosure: I love quinoa.)

Seriously though, after several wildly productive purging and organizing sessions, she’s most looking forward to having her family over for their next visit.  Just because we have become adults, we still want to make our parents proud of us!  And they are in for a welcome surprise.

I’m not her parent, but I am quite proud of her, too! Here are a few pics:

Living area, right when you walk in…

Entertainment and storage/display center:

Closet:

and her treasured and varied crafts for babysitting jobs and personal use:

After hours of targeted work, looking way better!  Her ability to FUNCTION has dramatically increased as the VOLUME of her possessions has greatly decreased. (it’s a marathon not a sprint, don’t forget.)

Let go of material things, and you will be rewarded with sanity and time to spare!  Cheers!

 

 

 

Thred Up Goody Boxes can make any ol’ day feel like it’s your BIRTHDAY while still keeping it Earth-friendly (& a link to my new YouTube video)

June 22, 2018 — Whew.  I write that date and wonder “where did June go??”  I’m here to tell you fabulous news:  ANY DAY CAN FEEL LIKE YOUR BIRTHDAY!

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I, along with many smart and clever people, have discovered this AWESOME thing called the ThredUP Goody Box, which is like Stich Fix but “thrift-style”.  Meaning: MORE AFFORDABLE and environmentally RESPONSIBLE.

I recorded an “unboxing” video that you can watch here. (It’s about 7 min long…but hey, there’s a laugh a minute!)

I hope you enjoyed the video, (and you’re still here reading this post, woot!)  Without further ado…

 Here’s a little fashion show for you.

This was so fun!  I HIGHLY recommend it.  Let someone shop for you, with very low commitment and very HIGH excitement factor.

Ok, you KNOW you have to try it.  Here’s a link:  (if you use this link we both get a $10 break)

Well, here’s what I kept!  6 things:  1 short, 2 pants, 2 tops and a dress!  I dropped the rest back in the same box and sent back with the pre-paid shipping label.  Win-win.

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You know you can’t wait to try the ThredUp Goody Box.  Happy Birthday every day!!

Why organizers need to get organized too…

June 5, 2018 – It’s been a little while since I have posted here so I’ll blame May: end of school, graduations, etc. Congratulations to the class of 2018 of which my firstborn was a part!!!

So, I often get told: “you don’t even need to exercise!” (referring to the fact that I am naturally slim). To which I always reply: “everyone needs to exercise!”

I also often hear: (after telling someone I am a professional organizer), “oh your house must be perfect!”.

Ha! Bien au contraire!!

Case in point: this photo shows that I have 3+ bags EACH of walnuts and pecans. Where did I hide them such that I keep buying more?

Also, I double buy my spices! How do I lose track of spices??!?!

Anyway, I’m sharing with you that this summer I am going to focus on having “less less less”. At 9 AM every day my Google Calendar asks me: “what is leaving the house today?”. I am really looking forward to having less stuff and more time to do fun things with my family and nature, which is especially important since my oldest will be leaving the nest this August! (sniff sniff)

I’m calling it my House Detox.

With my new best friends Instacart and Amazon, I don’t really need to keep so many things on hand and in my way. So watch my journey by following me on Instagram at @organizing4good

Hoping to inspire you as well! Let it go!!

“Thred Up” for Dummies…clean out your closet and do a good turn. (win-win-win)

May 22, 2018 – Wouldn’t you like to combine having cute clothes in your closet (chosen for you by a personal stylist), saving time & money, while bettering the planet all at the same time?!?  Thankfully, there IS an option that hits all the high points.

Watch my YouTube video here:

I spent a good portion of my Mother’s Day organizing my WHOLE closet, and I loved it. (I’m an organizer, not weird!!!)  While it can be daunting and time-consuming, it can also be exhilarating when you’re paring down your collection to the items that you really love and feel great in. Also, it never fails to reunite you with a few items you’d lost track of over the past months (or years??) since you last did a deep dive into your closet.

Closets are such an integral part of our overall self; they get us prepared to tackle life EVERY SINGLE DAY. The opposite is also true: a wildly disorganized closet holds us back and adds stress to our already stressful lives.  I know you can relate!

So you’re ready to tackle it: you start taking things out and making decisions about what to keep and what to let go. You stop for a second while considering an item: a really cute dress you thought would work brilliantly but just turned out to be…meh.

You launch into the typical struggle we all have when deciding whether to keep it or let it go: but I paid MONEY for that/it’s a good brand/ I’ll probably wear it again…someday.

Hate to tell you: NO, you won’t. It will still be there waiting for you to clean out your closet again, and you will participate in the same conversation in your head!

What helps us let go of those things? Knowing they can go to a better place and be used, appreciated and respected by someone else!

Today’s current trends are: online shopping, eco-fashion, online personal styling (Stitch Fix), boho/retro dressing styles, saving money, and finding kinder avenues towards our Earth.  What’s NOT to love about those?  So guess what??

Thred Up is an online thrift store that lets you send in sellable clothes!  Unload those duds and get a few dollars.  Or, donate what you make to a worthy cause.  Win-win-win!

It’s so incredibly easy!  Go HERE request a bag. Then just bag up your items and drop it at the post office or leave it for your letter carrier.

I sent mine off yesterday.  But I am ordering another one today since I had more to send in than would fit into the bag.  Did I mention the bags are POSTAGE PAID???  Meaning: no charge to send in the clothes!!!  So every excuse you might come up with is gone.  So get your unwanted items GONE!  Let me know at Love Your Space Organizing on FaceBook!

Why I can’t drive past this and not create a blog post…

May 4, 2018 — Wow, it’s really May!  While we’ve been enjoying a cooler than normal Spring, people are still in that “get it out” mode that is brought on by Spring Cleaning energy.  It happens every year and we should capitalize on those urges that lead us to open up windows, change out heavier blankets for lighter ones, and fill boxes to cart off to donate.

With education though, we know now that there are items that we don’t have to toss in the landfill, like this copier!  I called the City of Austin Resource Recovery and asked about one of my favorite things: “large item trash pickup” which happens every 6 months.  It is FASCINATING!  It’s freecycling in it’s purest form:  put it out, and someone picks it up, no questions asked.  And then, whatever remains, gets picked up by a truck and carted off to the landfill.  Yes, from your curb directly to the landfill.

Electronics should NOT go in the landfill.  It’s so easy these days to donate electronics for recycling:   google “electronics recycling austin” (or follow my link) and you’ll be overwhelmed by the choices!  And that is precisely why we have trouble: it is too overwhelming.   This is why I am here for you.   My calling as an eco-organizer is to make it simpler and very do-able for you to “get stuff out” without not wrecking the environment in the process:)

ACTION ITEM:  Set up a bag, box or bin in which to toss your electronic cords, devices and the like and then take it to a proper electronics recycler.  I personally use Z TechGlobal Solutions these days, but if you’re walking into Best Buy, look at the bins they have to collect all sorts of things.  There are pick up services for large items like the copier above.  Yes, sometimes you have to pay a little, but hey, aren’t you glad there are companies out there dedicated to recycling ELECTRONICS?!  I sure am.

Cheers, y’all!

Why 3 hours in a garage can be the most fun and valuable time you’ll spend all week!

April 8, 2018 – Do you know the saying, the days are long but the years are short?  Lately, though, it seems that the days are short and the years are going by at warp speed!  Such is the truth surrounding the piles, boxes, and bags of random stuff that we drop in places during these days and weeks that zip by, and before know it, your kids are teenagers and you still have legos, coloring books, and the like collecting dust in your garage, occupying space you need for serious baseball and golf equipment!

You know that your messy garage/playroom/bedroom is costing you time and money and leading to frustration over feeling perpetually behind and ill-prepared.  So you say to yourself:  TODAY I will clean out the garage/playroom/bedroom!  You set out with every good intention of progress, you really do!  But then, you check an email that needs attention. You answer a phone call that takes close to 30 minutes…

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Gone now is that time you were “going to finally make progress”!!!

Recently I spent a gloriously productive 3 hours with a client in her garage that shaved 10 years off that space.  For starters, we donated a crib, threw out multiple dead bouncy balls, and boxed up many toys that will benefit a school carnival soon.  As well as finding things to donate or toss, we also found some important items that she needed to pass on to someone for an upcoming event; things that if she’d been actually looking for, she’d likely not have found!  Think of all that time and stress she saved!

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Why were we able to shave 10 years off this garage in 3 hours?  WE SCHEDULED THE SESSION.  She set aside the time to dedicate to the task.  We talked about the goal for the space, and we worked hard without getting distracted.  Yes, we drank water and took short breaks, but truthfully, we FOCUSED.  And wow.  Check it out.

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You deserve to have similar victories in your space.  Don’t you want to LOVE YOUR SPACE?  Call me.

Note:  all photos and anecdotal material used with permission from client.

 

Musings on my most recent experience of selling our old bed frame (instead of giving it away)

img_0594March 22, 2019 — To sell or not to sell? While donating something doesn’t actually give you that money-in-your-pocket benefit, my recent experience of selling a bed reiterated to me how selling something always costs more in time and mental energy than I really want to spend. I have become an avid and frequent freecycler (most of it done through my local Buy Nothing Project Facebook group); and second only to the joy of giving something to someone is the ease in which you can release the object. (and third is receiving something from someone else that you didn’t have to go buy!!)

Here’s how it went down:

Recently I decided our old bed was destined to leave the attic, and “good enough to sell” (I knew my husband would appreciate the effort). So I took time to wipe it down & shine it up (to make it look desirable), took pictures, did a little research as to how I should price it, then posted it on some social media selling sites. Then immediately came the multiple requests wanting to purchase it…most of them started with “will you take X dollars less?” (I don’t mind a good barter so I priced it higher knowing I would be willing to take less)

But the exhaustion came from fielding all the different requests and finally getting one person commit to buying it and holding off the ocean of continued requests until I had confidence that I had a solid buyer. Then the arranging to pick it up and get paid took another round of energy and time I did not want to spend. I had to rearrange my schedule to be home. Then came the doubt as to whether I’d overcharged for the bed after I started to evaluate how dinged up it looked on every surface! Energy drained! No joy acquired.

Now let’s turn back the clock and say I instead decided to Freecycle this bed.

Here’s how it would go down:

Time to release that bed taking up space and being useful to no one but dust bunnies! I took a quick picture, posted it on my local Buy Nothing site, checked back for comments, then p.m.-ed someone my address. Last step was to put it out in front of my house. No need to try to spit shine or even worry the slightest little bit. Bed now will be loved and not camping out useless in my home.

Easy. Release. Joy. Done.

I know you can’t argue with the joys of some cash in the pocket, but consider that your time and energy are better served by giving things away and spreading the joy.

Peace out!

Don’t think about EVERYthing you have to do, just think about the NEXT thing you have to do…

707406fa-2917-4dd1-97ea-6cd1da224d35-9615-0000090760147d51_fileMarch 20, 2018–Wow, March is flying by!  This Friday I’m going out of town for 3 consecutive trips (Cincinnati, OH;  then Victoria, BC;  finally Fort Worth, TX)!!  And let’s say, that’s a stressful proposition as you can imagine.  My lists are daunting.  How am I managing?  I just “put one foot in front of the other” and do the next step of the next task.  That’s all I can do.  And you can too!  Prioritize and perform, no need to seek perfection.  Be proud of yourself!  Have a great week.

Tip of the day! Spring Break is coming SOON…

Are you going on a trip in March?  For some of us that is NEXT WEEK!!  Start your packing list NOW.  And get down the suitcases you will use.  As you do laundry this week. start tossing in the essentials and then you’ll get that packing bowl rolling.  What kind of list do you like?  (electronic or good old paper?)200565778-002

on being brave…

 

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Feb 27, 2018 – OH BEAR OH BEAR!!  🙂  Those of you that know me personally and/or on Facebook most likely know that last week was extremely hard in that we had to put our dog to sleep:  a decision that is NEVER easy, but ALWAYS kind.  Dealing with difficulties is something we all have to do daily, but we don’t have to do it alone, y’all!  My Facebook family and friends got me through the hardest parts and it’s only because I put it out there that I needed support.  And wow, did they rally around!

And a huge shout-out to my kids, who were strong and vulnerable throughout the whole thing.  I’m not trying to make you cry here, but they made me so proud as they stayed by Bear’s side to the end.  We didn’t make them, but we invited them to.  I know that as hard as it was, they will always know they did the right thing and feel proud of their bravery.

In case you didn’t know, you can call a vet to come to your home instead of having to take your animal to the clinic.  The next time it becomes necessary in our household, (and when you have pets, it’s inevitable) I will absolutely choose the in-home ceremony.  What a relief to know that when it’s time, you can be in your home with family if you choose.  I recommend Dr. Brady Bennett of Austin Pet Loss at Home.

Sorry if this seemed like a heavy post, but it’s not, really.  I felt loved and supported, and I want that for others, too:)

So…how “expired” is expired, really?

Feb. 18, 2018 – Hello, all!  One of the main objectives I have for this blog is to educate you about stuff that you just don’t have time to look up on your own time, but will benefit you in your daily life and help Mother Earth at the same time!  (Disclaimer!  I’m looking up the resources and passing them on to you, not doing the RESEARCH myself)

Medicines! How “expired” is expired?  I found an article that uses research done by our military program when they were faced with replacing thousands of dollars of medication every few years.  What they found from the study is 90% of more than 100 drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, were perfectly good to use even 15 years after the expiration date.  That’s GOOD NEWS!  Excluding nitroglycerin, insulin, and liquid antibiotics, most medications are as long-lasting as the ones tested by the military.  Read the whole article here.  It’s short and interesting.  I’d likely still have lots of bottles of ibuprofen if I’d known this sooner…ah, well!

What about disposing of medicines?  I think we all grew up with our parents disposing of meds by flushing them down the toilet…until such time that common knowledge taught us that we were poisoning the water supply this way.  Hindsight’s 20/20… so now what do we do with them?  I found some guidance here about how to recycle/dispose of them.  Ideally, we’d like to take them to our local take-back centers and let them deal with them en masse.

If you’re lucky, you know someone who takes meds to developing countries on mission trips.  Another example of good deeds that give our cast-offs second life and purpose!

I hope you found something useful from this post, I SURE DID and I wrote it:)

When an obsession turns to inspiration!

Feb 10, 2018 –  Greetings, all!  I am constantly amazed at the power that ONE PERSON can have to change something for the better, just by doing something small.  What are some famous examples?The powerful movement of Pay it Forward is the first one that comes to mind.  With the internet and social media, we are seeing trends and deeds spread like wildfire, sometimes for the better, sometimes for worse!  (Crocs) 🙂

Now, I want to introduce you to someone known mostly as “The Styrofoam Lady”, but her actual name is Lynnette and she lives in a sweet neighborhood in NW Austin called Milwood.  I lived there for 16 years and raised all my babes there; it embodies so much of what I consider perfect in a neighborhood, but that’s probably another blog post!

If you ask around in Milwood about the Styrofoam lady, I bet you’ll get big smiles and reports of:  “YES!  I take mine to her, too!”    Recently I called Lynnette and asked for an interview because people need to know that she is someone who is truly making a difference by allowing others to BRING THEIR STYROFOAM TO HER HOUSE AND LEAVE IT ON HER PORCH!  She then takes regular trips to the City of Austin’s Resource Recovery drop off center.  Why does she do this?  And how?!

Obesssion!  It leads us in various directions, often to chocolate, but also to helping Mother Earth.  Lynette told me that once she started researching the statistics, about how long, long, long styrofoam takes to break down, she knew she needed to start repurposing and recycling her own styrofoam, which she then offered to her neighbors to take theirs, since the drop off site is fairly far south.  She first got the idea out to her neighbors using Nextdoor.com and word of mouth.  Also, she advertises at the neighborhood’s Fourth of July Picnic every year.

Here’s what her porch typically looks like!

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While this scene looks neat and tidy, Lynnette has learned through experience to set serious parameters to those of us that bring offerings to her porch!  She has received lots of soiled and wet items which stole her joy immediately as it would anyone’s.  She was not to be deterred though. After trial and error, she has come up with this system:

Egg cartons, ice chests, cups… Lynnette likes to repurpose!!!  Sometimes the larger pieces work well for kids’ science projects, or whatever creative outlet someone might need it for.  Lots of folks receive medicine shipment regularly and wind up with multiple ice chests which could work well for someone else.  Also, egg cartons get distributed among those neighbors with chickens!

Lynnette is after my own heart with this behavior and I bet yours has grown too after reading this post.  Maybe you’re thinking that you might collect styrofoam or corks or Box Tops or old towels in your neighborhood, too.  Tap into your own OBSESSIONS and see what difference you can make!  Need ideas?  Peruse our Give Where You Live tab.

In my recent post about Box Tops and Pop Tabs, I encouraged each of us to embrace that the little things matter.  We are all so VERY BUSY, but when you figure out a way to make it easier to spread the love, then it becomes just part of “what you do” and “who you are”!  I’d love to have you message me and tell me of more people doing these things near you, or what YOU are doing in your own way.

Peace out, y’all!

Box tops, pop tabs, and more

Feb 4, 2018 – Wow!  My 2nd blog post ever. What’s whirling around in my mind right now?  (fingers crossed here…) I’m planning on no less than 1 blog post per week, and do a FaceBook live from Love Your Space Organizing on Fridays.  I feel it’s important to set the bar “low” here, so I’ll feel that progress is being made, not perfection!  Honestly, I feel victorious writing this very post, so yay me!!

Did you click on the title because it intrigued you at all?  My mission is to help you help others, easily and effectively.  I bet you are already trying.  Do you save Box Tops, Campbell’s labels, soda can pop tabs, and other items that en masse add up to some sort of benefit to some entity?  Or do you save your newspaper bags for your neighbor to use as poop scoop bags?  Do you save kitchen scraps for your neighbor’s chickens?  (I do!)  Do you save hand-me-down clothes for someone’s children younger than yours?  Do you save household items for your church’s outreach?  Yay for this habit!  Has someone asked you to save something for them for a specific purpose?  My mother-in-law used to save K-Cups for a friend who had an art project she was needing them for, so my MIL, bless her heart, would peel back the foil, rinse out the grounds, and collect them en masse for this friend’s art project.

Challenge:  if you are collecting things, go ahead and deliver them to the place that they were intended!  keep an eye out for any collecting going on that you could easily contribute to.  OR, ask for something that YOU are needing!  Again, my MIL, who always comes through when asked, is collecting her plastic grocery bags for me now that we have 2 litter boxes! (Austin is anti-plastic bag)  See how the circle goes around?  I would love hear what YOU collect for others or ask others to collect for you.

Let’s celebrate my 1 YEAR Biz-versary!

cropped-logo143945881.jpgFeb 2, 2018 — It’s mind-boggling for me to believe that I’ve already been in business as an in-home professional organizer for a whole year already.  Not only has it flown by at lightning speed, but it’s been the most amazing and rewarding work ever.  I feel privileged to have been invited into people’s homes to help them tackle areas that have been holding them back for years.  In hours, we rescue the area and bring back joy and TIME into my client’s life!  I think my favorite part is how my client will text me (repeatedly) telling me how happy they are and how much fun they are having in their newly organized spaces.  And I’m not ashamed to say that I’m GOOD at what I do.  Maybe it’s having 3 boys (plus a hubby!) for all these years now that has made me learn that chaos holds us back from getting ahead and truly enjoying life.  Life is a wild ride, with or without kids, and if you spend more time LOOKING for lost items and missing deadlines than participating in activities that make life worthwhile, then you need to STOP!  It’s time to PLAN and ORGANIZE in order to make things go more smoothly for yourself and your family.   Right??  Anyway, it’s not a celebration until there are some PRESENTS, right??  So, I’ll run a special!!  Aren’t you glad you read all the way to the bottom?

If you book an organizing session during the month of February, it will be:

10% off 3-hour sessions, 15% off 4-hour sessions, and 20% off 5-hr sessions!!                     Or, 20% off if you book more than one session!

Happy 1-year Biz-versary to Love Your Space Organizing!

Why Choose Love Your Space Organizing?

Why Love Your Space Organizing?

Let’s face it; we could all use a little help.  With the demands of family, home, work and health, it is really tough to keep up.  Let the confident hands at Love Your Space Organizing help you clear and clean out the areas of your home that are holding you back. Walk in the door every day and love your space again!

What services do we provide?

Based in Austin, TX, we offer tailor-made sessions of professional, functional organizing in your home or small business.  Also join one or more of our effective and fun paper organizing workshops:

Home Organizing Sessions – this is where the magic happens…we work together in your home tackling those closets, kitchen cabinets, or whatever is needing attention.  

Paper Organizing Workshops – tame that Paper Tiger that has your to-do list in a strangle-hold!  Attend live or virtual fun workshops that turn your late bills and lost papers into “paid” and “done” ON TIME.

Small Business or Direct Sales Organizing Sessions – with the crazy pace of trying to succeed in your business, the paper and systems sometimes fall by the wayside, so we can help you get back on track to help you soar.