How NOT to get stabbed by an avalanche of DVDs

For much of my life, until recently, I was classified as a “seesaw organizer.”

What exactly is a “seesaw organizer?” Let me describe one for you.

In the past, the spaces in my house – or dorm room or apartment or cabin or wherever I was in life at the moment – would typically fall into one of two categories: meticulous model home or hazardous waste zone.

I still don’t completely understand why I default to one of these two polar opposite housekeeping conditions. Perhaps it’s because I’m an all-or-nothing person. My mind works something like this: “The kitchen floor is really dirty. I’ll clean out the silverware drawer and organize the plastic cereal containers first to kick things off …” “The living room needs dusted. I’ll iron the curtains and redecorate the walls while I’m at it …”

Maybe I’m a perfectionist. Maybe I’m a procrastinator. Maybe I just like to see a really dramatic before and after. Whatever the reason, letting things get really bad and then spending hours – OK, days – making rooms perfect again became a recipe for housekeeping failure.

Eventually, the piles stacked higher and the inspiration and motivation to whip them into shape diminished due to growing life obligations. Don’t get me wrong; I still desperately longed to have spaces worthy of the pages of “Better Homes and Gardens” magazine. When my home was clean and organized, I felt immense joy and peace. When it looked like a war zone, I felt stressed out and anxious.

I would share my plight with friends and listen as they tried to cheer me with statements like, “You have young kids right now. You’ll just have to let some things go.” And while I understood the wisdom and practicality of their advice, I still felt in my heart there were some areas I didn’t want to let go. I had a passion for a beautifully organized home that I didn’t want to bury for a decade while my kids and harried lifestyle took over my schedule.

I needed to start by getting a lot smarter about my time and resources. The pinnacle moment when I knew I was ready to dig in and get organized for real came after one particularly disturbing organization frenzy.

I was in the middle of a seesaw upward, determined to get the closet in our office/guest room dunged out – at least to the point where I could make an educated guess as to what might be in it.

Messy-closet-with-caution-tape(The closet that nearly killed me)

As I was wading (yes, this is an accurate description) through stuff on the floor, I bumped into the top closet shelf, triggering an avalanche of DVDs. Unfortunately, I looked up just in time to get smacked in the face by one of the falling DVDs. Since none of them were in their cases, the raw edge cut my face under my eye. As I sat there clutching my injured cheek, buried in the rubble, emotion overwhelmed me. How did I let things get this bad?

After that meltdown, I vowed to get off the seesaw and find some simple, foundational methods of organizing my life that worked for me permanently. The five solutions I found changed me forever! So I wrote about them in an e-book called, “Organized for Real: How to Conquer Life’s Top 5 Chaos Hotspots.”

Book-cover-low-res-for-sidebar

This e-book will be made available to all of you very, very soon (hint: this summer) and I am super excited about it!

Although I may not have a home that looks like it belongs in a magazine every day, I now feel at peace with the spaces I live in and I’m reaping the rewards of an organized life. Plus, I can find stuff and enjoy a home where rooms are kept reasonably clean and clutter-free on a regular basis.

More importantly, the junk and chaos are no longer hindrances to bigger and more meaningful goals in my life.

The steps I explain in “Organized for Real” are simple and totally worth the effort, although they are not necessarily easy. But if the potential of injuring yourself by the clutter in your home is a real fear for you, perhaps it is finally time for you to get off the seesaw, too.

Keep an eye out for this must read, coming soon from a self-proclaimed recovering “messie.”

What to do when you feel like you’re lacking (Haven 2014 recap)

For the past three years, I’ve had the amazing privilege of attending the Haven Conference in Atlanta. It’s an event mainly targeted at bloggers in the DIY/home niche. Every year I connect with friends that I so badly wish lived down the street from me so we could have coffee regularly.

Beneath-My-Heart

Traci from Beneath My Heart and I enjoyed the chocolate fountain (a little too much) that Home Depot and Ryobi provided for the Haven Mavens on the last night of the conference. The food at that event was, in a word, epic!

My-Repurposed-Life

My friend, Gail, from My Repurposed Life is one of the sweetest and most genuine ladies you’ll ever meet. She is also a repurposing rockstar with a crazy huge Facebook fan club.

MyBreezyRoom

 (Photo courtesy of My Breezy Room)

My roommate this year was Kala from My Breezy Room. She is as cute as a button and I love her style! She is also a bit, ahem, younger than me so she’s helping me navigate all the social media stuff I’m still not up to speed on. ;)

Space-BW-Plantation-Relics

These lovely ladies made me laugh until I (almost) peed my pants every.single.night. On the left is Karah from The Space Between and on the right is Sabrina from Plantation Relics.

Making-Lemonade

I also the privilege of catching up with one of my favorite blogging ladies, Carrie from Making Lemonade. She’s a fellow Pa. girl, which makes her extra special. ;)

In addition to kickin’ it with my blogging sisters at Haven, I got the chance to meet with representatives from brands I’d like to work with in the future. And I took away a ton of information about how I can grow my blog and DIY skills. This conference is priceless!

But despite all the wonderful friendships forged and tips and strategies absorbed, I seem to also come home from Haven each year with a self-inflicted icky feeling that I’m somehow lacking … lacking in style, beauty, business success, notoriety, accomplishment, friends, youthfulness … blah, blah, blah, the list goes on.

I can’t really put my finger on why I feel this way other than, when I see all the amazing things these ladies around me are accomplishing, I guess my default reaction is to feel like I’m somehow missing out. And this makes me sad because I know deep down that what I’m really missing is the clarity to see how abundant my life right now truly is.

I recently read a post by Michael Hyatt that explored the roots of this icky feeling. What I discovered after reading his post was that this comparison trap that often has me in its clutches is a common one.

The tendency for us to focus on what we should go after rather than expressing gratitude for what we already have is a by-product of what researcher Brené Brown calls our “culture of ‘never enough.’”

Speaking from experience, I can say that falling into this trap leaves me discouraged and even sometimes debilitated, and it masks the tremendous gifts and blessings I’m currently experiencing in my life.

So, in an effort to take the great from Haven but leave the feeling of inadequacy behind, I’ve decided to look at my experience through a different lens, the lens of gratitude. This lens has the power to focus my view on all the awesome things happening to me right now, and there are honestly too many of them to count.

If you’re like me and you sometimes feel like you are lacking, here are some tips to help change your focus and view your circumstances in a more flattering light:

  1. Start each day with praise. For me, this means that after I wake up and get my bearings, I set aside a short (but highly effective) quiet time where I begin by thanking God for all the blessings in my life.
  2. Embrace a “to-don’t” list. One of my biggest weaknesses is saying yes to too many things. Recently, however, I’ve gotten better at the “to don’ts” (i.e. saying no to the wrong activities and avoiding low-priority tasks). This practice helps me accomplish my top priorities. It also allows me to feel OK with the fact that I will never be able to do it all, but I can do the right things for me and my family at this moment.
  3. Lend a helping hand. The easiest way I’ve found to get out of the “why me” slump is to reach out and help others in need. Volunteering time for a cause greater than myself always has the profound ability to completely change my focus - in nearly an instant. The shift in my attitude and outlook that I experience after I participate in a mission trip, worship practice or nursing home visit is a blessing far greater than my contribution to the cause.

I’ll leave you today with this wise quote from Michael Hyatt:

“We will never have more of what we truly desire until we become fully thankful for what we have.”

What I’m wearing to Haven

I am so incredibly pumped to be flying to Atlanta tomorrow to attend my third Haven Conference. This conference is geared primarily toward DIY bloggers. Topics at the event center around DIY and design instruction as well as blogging and social media strategies.

Like a bird who needs pushed out of its nest to learn how to fly, conferences like Haven push me out of my comfort zone in so many ways. I have to take a really deep breath when I embark on trips like this (I can be a bit of an introvert). But the experience always turns out to be extremely positive, teaching me to be a more skilled DIYer, blogger and all-around-better human being. So I’m grateful for and blessed to have the opportunity to go. 

Each year, I’ve approached the Haven Conference a little differently, which I think shows my growth as a DIY blogger and also shows how helpful this conference is for folks at any level.

For example, my first year I focused on learning some basic DIY tricks, like painting, using small power tools, etc. Last year, I focused on learning more advanced interior design techniques and how to build stuff from scratch. 

This year, I’m approaching the event even more intentionally. I plan to focus primarily on learning about the business of blogging. Hopefully, I’ll have the opportunity to connect with some of the brands I love and, most importantly, network with fellow bloggers that I can build more long-term collaborative relationships with.

But, of course, I must put first things first … what to wear to the conference. ;)

I actually haven’t done much shopping at all for this event. (We’re trying to live rich on less around here, you know?) So I mostly relied on my trusty Fashion board on Pinterest to help me put together a few outfits out of stuff I already had in my closet.

Tomorrow is a travel day, so I’m doing comfortable. I typically like to wear layers when I fly because the air conditioning in the plane is often chilly, while the airport waiting areas can be warm and stuffy.

Thursday-morning

Tomorrow evening is the welcome reception, which has been a cocktail and hors d’oeuvres event in the past. Here’s what I think I’ll wear:

Thursday-night

  • Dress – Ann Taylor from Gabe’s
  • Necklace – New York & Company from Gabe’s
  • Shoes – Shoe Dept.
  • Purse – New York & Company

Friday is a conference day. Here’s the outfit I have planned:

Conference-day

  • Jacket – Gap Outlet
  • Shirt – Sam’s Club
  • Necklace – Claire’s
  • Shorts – Gap Outlet
  • Shoes – Target

If I need to kick things up a notch for dinner, this is my go-to dress:

Dancing

  • Dress – New York & Company

Saturday is the final conference day. Here’s what I think I’ll wear:

Conference-day-2

  • Shirt – New York & Company
  • Pants – Express

I may throw in a maxi dress and another outfit that can go from day to night. But the pieces pictured will make up my basic wardrobe. One thing I’ve learned: I’ve got to keep that suitcase as light as possible to fit the swag bag without going over the allowed weight on the way home!

What do you think of my outfit selections? Do you have any travel or wardrobe advice for me before I head south? I’d love to read your feedback.

Also, before I begin packing, I wanted to share a fun board I recently curated on Hometalk. It’s a collection of ideas for DIY swings for the summer. Yes, there’s still time for you to make a swing this summer. And you’ll definitely want to after you see all the inspiration.

livingrichonless3006

Special thanks to Duluth Trading Company for providing, at no cost to me, the shirt and skinny jeans I’ll be wearing as I travel to Haven this year.