July 3, 2014. Cohasset, Mass. USA About 8 (?) days before departure off-the-grid

Everyone Needs A Friend, A Super Awesome Friend. And an Organizer.

I’m grateful to have friends. Did I mention that one of my truly best friends is arriving tonight with her daughter for the next five days? Even though we are packing, sorting, selling, donating, preparing to go off-the-grid?! She is such an amazing friend, that seriously, it is not an inconvenience that she’s coming right now. In fact, it was my suggestion. She will be here for the next five days of guaranteed chaos, whatever happens! With her daughter. Of all the people in the world, “Girlfren” can somehow in the most lovely, low maintenance manner, gracefully handle going with the flow, (be it a quiet gentle creek, or, as we’ve had to do, literally racing from hurricanes) with open curiosity, and seeing the humor in it all, too. We are so close that there’s no need to even try to clean the house before they arrive. Or wash my hair.

“Girlfren,” I call her, (kind of tongue in cheek, and also I have yet to ask her permission to use her real name), and I have been bonded since we were twelve, back in Hawaii days. We’ve been through so many amazing journeys together, you will likely hear of some. One way that she was amazing was that she came from California, very shortly after Sofia was born in Virginia, to help me out, and then again, after Michelle was born, to help me out. During the Sofia visit, my firstborn child, our lives were moderately under control, and it was a really sweet, yummy girlfren time together. She held Sofia a lot while I napped in between periods of semi-consciousness when my Mommy presence was required. Other miraculous friends and family also visited and helped, too. It was incredibly supportive to share Sofia with people that I fully trust.

Fast forward to my second daughter’s birth, in Boston. When “Girlfren” and her daughter arrived in a taxi from Boston’s Logan Airport, (already a suspicious sign for Girlfren, I’m sure: I always pick her up at the airport; she would never take a taxi unless something was really, really off) after I’d given birth to Michelle a few weeks before, she found Sofia, Baby Infant Michelle, and me kind of semi-desperately waiting on the curb outside of our apartment for them to pull up. I could NOT wait to see her. In fact, I think I flung myself into her shoulders and started sobbing, “Here’s Michelle, she is the most amazing miracle, I’m totally in love with her…oh, Girlfren, these last few weeks have been kinda hardddddd…,” … sobbing tears, pass the baby to her, and she kind of gently encouraged and scuttled us inside to the privacy of our new home.

Girlfren non-judgmentally observed the situation for a couple of days. I gave birth about twenty hours after our truckload of stuff from Virginia had arrived, and my hubby was training out of town every other week for the first 16 weeks after our arrival. We were living in a storage room, yet to be transformed into an apartment. We had left a comfortably sized house with a two car garage that was always full of stuff, not cars. We had not calculated accurately how much we should have gotten rid of before moving it into a modestly sized two bedroom apartment with no garage or storage space. We rented a storage room but hadn’t been able to make it there yet. Every wall was lined and stacked with boxes, suitcases, framed pictures leaning against a baby potty. My Aunt, thank heavens, had come while I was in the hospital with Michelle, and had found her way through the boxes to unpack enough for the kitchen to function.

For those of you who are women and have children (or if not, think of a cat right around the time of birth: Nesting, organizing, reorganizing, preparing, nesting, needing everything to be in order…), you can probably get a sense of how it felt to sit in bed with a newborn, a super-active 3 year old asking where her friends are, and not knowing how to find “the box with all the important papers in it,” or “the box with sheets, towels,” or “the box with Sofia’s green monkey.” Night – mare. And somehow, in my haste when I saw and rented this apartment, I did not correctly calculate what it would mean to live up a very narrow set of stairs, with an infant, a 3 year old… and our 60 pound bull terrier who had lived her entire life with a dog door that allowed her to come and go as she wished, in and out of various fenced yards throughout many moves with us. Completing our family with Michelle is the most “meant-to-be” event I’ve ever experienced – and the most challenging, given the circumstances. The agony and the ecstasy exponentially multiplied in all directions. I felt like electrified playdoh. Hard to describe.

After observing and experiencing our situation for a couple of days, Girlfren said, “You know…I don’t know if you’ve heard of these people called organizers?” “Not really,” I replied, through my sleep-deprived fog, “What do they do?” Girlfren explained, “Well, a good one will listen to what you need and pretty much get to work and do anything you need help with. I’d never heard of them either, but DH (code word used in many Mommy blogs, for “Darling Husband”) did a business trade with one of them, and we had an 8 hour block of time that we used in my office – it’s embarrassing at first for them to see how disorganized you are, but obviously they see it all the time, since the organized people probably don’t call very often!”

I looked around at the storage room – apartment and said, “Ok..do you think she would come from California?” Girlfren emailed the organizer and she WAS willing to fly out from California for a week to help! Wow, there was hope!!! Then we started to email back and forth to the organizer about where she would sleep, how we would manage the time, transportation, etc. My amazing Girlfren mulled it over, and thoughtfully suggested, “Maybe there’s someone like that, already here? This could be a job that requires more than one week…” We both looked around and agreed, it was bigger than a one week job. Girlfren did some quick research – love, love this girl! She googled and found, National Association of Professional Organizers. OMG OMG. Through this service, we found Lisa Dooley (Lisa gave me permission to use her name:). She was one of the few people listed in my area, one of two that called back within hours, and when I kind of sobbed out my story and explained where we were at, she simply said, “Yes, I can help. What’s a good time for you?” Like Mary Poppins might say, except in a totally warm way!

Lisa Dooley at http://www.yourorganizedlife.biz If you live anywhere on the planet Earth, I highly recommend her if you find that you are in any kind of disorganized situation. Any. She came over to our storage room apartment and I think she was fascinated in a kind of Organizer type of way, probably like “Holy Mess! This is a challenge! Let me at it.” Fortunately she looks and energetically feels like Sandra Bullock, so you feel like there’s a competent, level-headed, but regular kind of person in your home. I think I would have died of embarrassment if she’d come in a super glamorous high end couture type of outfit, and if she shook her head in disappointment as she tiptoed through our disaster. She did not do this. She is down to earth, yet absolutely on track. She admits we have amazed her with our — well, our ongoing adventures and organizing challenges! – yet I think she is fascinated by the challenges we present and embraces it all with good spirit and hope. She said that our family has helped beef up her resume in a variety of ways. You cannot imagine. You should have seen her face a couple months ago when I said at one of our appointments, “Well, let me go first today, okay?..We are going to move…again..” (she not only unpacked and organized our storage apartment, but then unexpectedly was asked to re-pack and move us to our cousin’s house in the winter of 2012-13 when several felonies in the (expensive, pretty) apartment complex creeped me out to the point of moving. Then she helped re-pack and move us again last spring when we were ready to come back to town…). She stopped, put all of her papers down, and professionally collected herself. “You’re moving. Again. Okay. And, if I may ask, where are we moving this time?” (I love that she said “we” cuz she knows we can’t move without her help!). I paused, not to be dramatic, but really, to give her a moment to gather her breath. “Ummm…to a rainforest farm in the middle of nowhere in the Dominican Republic?” I asked, rather than told. Can you believe, just a couple of minutes after I told her, she was right back to her professional Self, asking all of the right organizing questions and getting ready for “The Challenge,” as she calls things such as this. Or maybe she just uses that phrase for our family: The Challenge. Either way, it fits and I get it.

So Girlfren and Lisa are connected. Girlfren helped me find Lisa so that when Girlfren isn’t around, she knows that there’s someone who can help me keep things pulled together during this Challenging Time in my life. And tonight! – Girlfren is coming! And Lisa will be back soon, too. Probably even sooner than the next appointment we have scheduled if she sees how I’m avoiding the “to do” list with this blog writing. It’s still early in the day, Lisa! I’m heading back to the Toiletries cabinet just as soon as I can run over and pick up my green juice, oh, and look at that one box of memorabilia I’ve been trying to pare down…oh, and go to the store so I can pick up a few items for Girlfren’s daughter…

If it takes me a few days to post again, you’ll know why: Girlfren is here! May we all have a Girlfren like Girlfren, and an organizer like Lisa. And of course, may we all find and share – peace, love, happiness, health, safety, and goodness. xoxo

3 thoughts on “July 3, 2014. Cohasset, Mass. USA About 8 (?) days before departure off-the-grid

  1. Wow – I just read an earlier post and just love this line: “I watched Sofia and Michelle running through the night under an infinity of stars, chasing fireflies.” That was my childhood (along with storms, and all kinds of other things. A beautiful post!

  2. Pingback: Taking that leap of faith… | Your Organized Life,

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