That's the only word that comes to mind right now as I sit looking out of my open office window. Birds are chirping. Leaves are changing and dropping. Neighbors head in and out. Dogs are being walked. Seems like I've 'got it all' working from home while my child is in a good pre-school and my team and business are thriving. Yet only 2 months ago, we were technically homeless.
I usually write about fun / new organizing tips, trends, and case studies for our audience. This fall I'm looking at things through a different lens; a more self-aware and personal one. And I feel it's important to let our readership and broader public understand that professional organizers are human too.
Often we are called upon to help, assist, guide, 'fix', and empower our clients through our work. We are sometimes put up on a pedestal and regarded as perfectionists, anal, type-A - usually in a good way :) Folks who don't know us really well usually drop comments like:
"Your home must be sooo organized."
"I'd never let you come in my house."
"You can NEVER see my office."
"You must have it so together all the time!"
Well guess what? We're human too. I'm going to repeat that a few times. It's hashtag worthy. Back to my little story...
I moved my family in late February of this year. 3 months after we moved into a newly flipped property, a pipe burst in the finished basement, resulting in the pulling back of carpet and some baseboards, etc. As layers of floor and wall were pulled back, we found mold. A LOT of various species of mold. Floor to ceiling throughout the perimeter of the home in fact, due to wet paneling having been covered over / hidden by new studs and drywall.
We also had a gas leak that couldn't be located and other issues that surfaced quickly once serious inspections were done. I won't dredge out all of the details but the end game was this. The home was deemed uninhabitable within 10 days of that pipe bursting. We were displaced and had enough time to pack some suitcases and laundry baskets. A dear friend took us in for the first week and another dear friend (with 3 small kids of her own) took us in for another 4 weeks while I frantically looked for a temporary place for my family to live. So no, we weren't on the streets or anything, but if I had not had these dear friends (who happened to live in close proximity to jobs and school), we very likely could have been in a shelter.
'Finding another place to live' wasn't so easy. After all, it took us 8 months to find that little perfect flip in a good school district, in a town that everyone sweats. Not to mention, we had just dumped our life savings into that house. So by all accounts of the term, we were suddenly very house-poor. Left with a property that we could not live in, could not afford to fix, and could not sell or rent. So what do you do? Well, the saga is long from over but I digress.
As soon as I found a great little rental and jumped on it, the first task at hand was to call in the big dogs for help. I was tired. Physically and emotional wrung out. For almost 2 months, I had been dealing with sellers, nosy neighbors, realtors, attorneys, banks, contractors, the fire department, BGE, inspectors, apartment haggling, coughs and colds, AND downsizing AGAIN ... All while trying to get my child to school every day (as normal) and continue to run my business. While at night, (all in one room) I'd stay awake to my snoring husband, my toddler, the cat (and his litter box), and my own stress and anxieties. I needed help. Real, dependable, fast and furious help.
I happen to belong to the Baltimore Chapter of NAPO (the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals). My chapter is full of people who are technically my competitors, but who are nothing less than phenomenal colleagues, true professionals, and caring friends. In the space of 3 days, these heroines arrived in droves, packed us up in the condemned house and unpacked us on the other side. And the service providers that were necessary to make everything happen also were colleagues of mine through our chapter. They answered my call for help within 24 hours. So special shout-outs to The Flood Department and MyWay Mobile Storage.
The moral of this tale is not about sympathy or sadness or pity. It is not to compare our hardship to anyone else, for better or worse. I just felt it was time to offer the thanks to those who need to know (good month for that :) AND to remind all of us that it is not only right and good to ask for help, it is also necessary. Having been in this industry for 8 years now, I truly wish our clients would be more able to let go of some of the shame, guilt, anxiety, and negative self-talk that comes along with disorganization. It can happen to any of us, at any time, for many different reasons.
Productivity Consultants and Professional Organizers are ONLY in this business to HELP people. You call a doctor when you have major pain. You call the fire department when your house is on fire. You call a therapist when you need mental unblocking and more. We are simply one more armed professional with a fabulous tool kit at your disposal.
I am openly and sincerely grateful for my circles who pulled us through this. As I have mainly been the one who others turn to for help, it is most difficult for me to let down my guard and finally ask for and receive help. And I'm so glad that I finally did.
Thank you NAPO Baltimore. Thank you to my own team members at Charm City Organizers. Thank you to my friends and family that helped get us through this. #organizersarehumantoo #NAPOBaltimore #askforhelp
Submitted by NAPO Chapter Member:
Mary Cate Claudias, CPO®
Founder / CEO of Charm City Organizers