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My View: Being organized doesn't mean being perfect

By Lynn M. Lombard

I like to think of myself as being extremely organized. If a bill is coming due, it’s kept in a handy-dandy folder marked as such. Once it’s paid, the date and method of payment is written on it and then filed away.

If you asked me how much we spend on groceries annually, that number can easily be calculated in my up-to-date budget. If someone needs to know when my daughters were at the doctor last, there’s a folder for that, too.

There is a place for everything in my life because if there wasn’t, things would get lost, deadlines could be missed, and I would most definitely go crazy. And crazy Lynn is no fun at all.

Somewhere along the line, though, I began believing that being organized meant I had to be perfect, too. I put this gigantic pressure on myself that I wasn’t allowed to make mistakes.

This past year, I had admittedly let my organizational skills slip. It started small, but then the holidays came, and I continued to pile more junk into our office – the one room I wouldn’t have to look in every day. And as long as I couldn’t see the disorganization, then the orderly, content Lynn wouldn’t turn into the anxious, irrational Lynn who does not know how to focus in a messy area.

As December ended, the piles became so voluminous that I could no longer sit at my desk. I would walk into the office, shield my eyes from the clutter, and run right back out. And though I knew what needed to happen, this organizational guru came up with a million excuses as to why there was no time to clean it.

“I’m too tired to start such a big project.”

“We have that thing going on this weekend.”

“I’ll do it after life calms down.”

“Who needs an office anyway?”

But I yearned to have my space back. So, during the month of January, I spent evenings and weekends camped out on the office floor. I dumped papers upon papers into the recycling bin. With each pile I poured in, the freer I felt. I could hear my organizational crown calling out my name, ready for me to claim victory.

Lynn M. Lombard

On Feb. 1, I was able to sit at my desk again. I swung my chair around and looked at the spotless floor. I admired the bookshelves that once more held only books. Everything had its own place again. I let out a much deserved sigh of relief.

But then a few weeks later, I was searching high and low for gift cards my daughter received for Christmas that had been on that once-messy desk. After a few hours of retracing my steps over and over again, I had no other option but to admit that in the midst of getting reorganized, I may have, gulp, recycled them. As Ms. Organized Queen Bee was getting back her groove, failure was looming in the background.

This is when my inner voice reared her ugly, not-so-understanding head and told me how careless I was.

“How can you throw away gift cards? ... What is wrong with you? ... I thought you were getting your act together!”

I continued to berate myself all evening, unable to pull my mind away from this disaster.
Until my amazing husband reminded me of how far I had come and that I was the most organized person he knew. Until my forgiving daughter said, “Mommy, it’s OK. Gift cards aren’t that important.” Until I decided to give myself some grace.

Because even we organized people make mistakes. And I’m learning to be perfectly OK with not being perfect.

Lynn M. Lombard, of Akron, is recovering from a home recycling mishap.

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