Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Milestone for Mommy

Earlier this week my 2nd grader asked if she could have a friend spend the night. I was so excited for her as this would be her first sleepover! I talked with the parents of the other little girl and made the arrangements to pick them up from school on Friday. Then my baby girl, who is five, came into my room with her beautiful eyes all sad and puffy and asked if she could have a sleepover too. Now I would have no problem with her having a sleepover too but at 5 I really didn't think there were many kids who would successfully sleep out. I told my baby that she could have a friend come home with us and be picked up at 9. So essentially she would have a half sleepover. She thought this was great.
Fast forward to Friday. I somehow had 10 kids and 8 parents at my home for dinner and to get to know each other. All of the kids minus one was to leave with their parents. At some point my baby had her little friend ask if Ava(my baby) could spend the night. I laughed and said, "Oh sure, she can go home with you". A moment that now I will never forget. My baby, who I know can't live a moment without her mommy, looked at me and said, "YES!". She ran to get pajamas and started asking the mom of her friend if they could leave. I'm steadily laughing and assuring the mom that they won't make it out of the driveway.
30 minutes later, my older child Marcelle, is crying because Ava is leaving, how could she leave us, I can't be without her, mommy don't let her go, basically acting the way I thought my baby would be.
Marcelle proceeds to the mother of the child Ava is leaving with and with big crocodile tears tells her, "Please don't take my Ava, what if your house isn't safe?". At this point the family is leaving and Ava starts to cry. I knew it! I was right and she wouldn't make it out of the driveway. But through her tears Ava tells me, "I'm going to miss you but I really want to go." I comforted her and told her that I could not go and she would have to sleep there all night without mommy. Ava cried harder and I thought she wasn't even getting in their car. And then Ava hugged me and said, "I'll miss you." and then she got in the car! And then they pulled out of the driveway! And then they left my street! And they didn't turn around!!
I felt my heart sink. I felt like I was going to faint. Was she really sleeping out?? She's just a baby!! What the hell was I thinking????
My husband began to laugh looking at me. He said not to worry. He was sure as soon as they get in bed we would get a call. All through my sleepless night I waited for that call. I prayed for that call. But the call never came. I cried several times through the night. And this morning she is still there!!
I just can't believe it. How did this happen? She is my baby. She is A baby. How can she be doing big girl things?
All I could think during the night was how fast this day came. I thought about all the times I have had to travel out of town for work and she has had to say goodbye to ME. I love my children. But like most people I let life get in the way of enjoying them as much as I would like to. And father time, well he doesn't stop to wait for anyone. But I'm grateful he paused time last night and gave me the chance to see that this ride is going fast and that nothing is as important as these babies. He also gave me a glimpse into what my sister is feeling now that her oldest has just left for college.
As for me,I will never underestimate little Ava again. I should have known better as she has been shocking and surprising us since conception. "Hey Ava, mommy's coming to get you!!"
Even if I have to wake that family up since it's only 6am!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cookies, candy, and pie! Oh my!

I have been told that weight loss and getting organized can go hand in hand. Well I am already organized but I need to drop a stubborn 10 pounds. I am a petite 5'4" and 128 lbs. I am happiest at 120 lbs. Now I realize I am in no way fat but I need to drop the extra pounds and get fit. I have noticed that over the past few years as I have approached my mid 30's, things are changing. I don't want to hear all of that BS about "oh wait till you're my age". It's starting now and just like everyone else, it has snuck up like a snake in the grass.
I just want to be fit and feel good. Not to mention that my friends; chocolate ice cream, oreo cakester, and cheese puffs, are very bad influences!
So about 5 weeks ago I started working out. I dusted off my treadmill and placed it at the foot of my bed. For days I would stare at it while sharing a late night rendezvous with my food friends. I would think about getting on it and laugh. Then I learned of an upcoming event where I would want to look my best and that meant getting on the treadmill. The first time on it, I barely made my 20 minute goal at 3mph. I started out every other day and would dread the day that I had to get on it.
I told my food friends (ice cream, cookie, and cheese puff) that we had to part ways, and I met with a trainer. And then I made the ultimate commitment to get healthy and shed a few pounds; I told my boyfriend, Starbucks, that we had to stop seeing each other. It was a tough break up but it was necessary.
I upped my treadmill time to everyday and increased my speed to 3.5 and 2 weeks later, you know what? I didn't lose a freakin pound!
2 years ago I could think about losing weight and drop 5 lbs!
So I spent a few days feeling sorry for myself and then I got up and got on the treadmill for 35min. and 3.7mph! I will not give up! This will not defeat me.
So to you out there who are trying to get organized on your own; don't let the disorganization get you down.
You may work hard for awhile trying to get rid of the clutter without too many results, but just keep trying and you will lose the clutter and gain control of your life!
As for me; my next weigh in is Tuesday. Wish me luck:)

Monday, May 3, 2010

I have mentioned before that my life is crazy. I don't mean crazy bad. I mean crazy busy, crazy fun, crazy funny too. There is never a dull moment and just when I think things are getting settled, more crazy comes a knockin'. Lately I have been tested. There are a couple of things I really want and like having in my life and I am in jeopardy of losing them. It has been a rough few months and through it all I have tried to keep my head up and push through. Yesterday before church I broke down and cried, feeling overwhelmed and ready to throw in the towel. I pulled myself together, left my husband and sick baby at home and my older daughter and I went to church. While there I got some strength and remembered the saying, "when the going gets tough, the tough get going". So I'm picking myself up and moving forward. And it's hard. Sometimes when we feel beat up and pushed down, getting up is the last thing we want to do. What I really want is to crawl in bed, pull the covers up, and veg out. But as I told my sister last night, I have to get up and get out of the way or continue to get kicked.
So many of you are reaching out to me in the same way for help with organizing. You are busy men and women with your own crazy life and the disorganization is kicking you when you are down. I can help you get up and get out of the way. One of the things that I hear all the time is, "I should be able to do this on my own". That is like nails down a chalkboard to me. Your life is busy and you have tons to do. When exactly is your life going to stop moving forward in order for you to clear up your back log? Answer: it won't. You are going to do it on your own, you just need help clearing the back log. I come in while you keep up with your normal routine and get rid of the excess, create easy to use and maintain systems, and then it's all up to you.
Another thing people want to know is, "if I'm not working side by side with you then how can I learn to be organized"? Well, I'm like Mr Miogi (who knows how he spells it) from the Karate Kid. You know; wax on wax off. This is of course for those of you with normal disorganization and problems that relate. Now for those with Chronic disorganization or hoarding we offer a different approach. You will learn through the simple techniques, through the repeat questions, and other techniques I have created over the years that have worked so well for so many. I have clients that I worked with over 5 years ago tell me how much their life has changed so I know the process works.
But first, get up off the floor for Christ's sake and ask for help!
I did:)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Organizing the Organized

When someone decides to become an organizer, it's usually because they have been gifted with the talent of being super organized all of their life or they have learned the skill after battling disorganization and want to teach others. Either way, for those of us in this profession, it's definately a passion. This is no different with me. I am one of those people who has been organized since birth and I have the gift of being able to walk into a space and see the finished product. I see life as it could be. I am crazy about what I do and if I couldn't do this everyday I would go crazy!
There is a downside to being an organizer and especially one that is borderline OCD. I tend to overorganize myself. This is a terrible habit. I see and hear about all of the latest and greatest organizing trends and products and I get soo excited. I go into a client's home and do somehting new and great and suddenly I want to redo my pantry! This can be very time consuming and a little pointless. Organizing is an on-going process and you need to stay on top of your systems with purging and making sure that new items have a good system. I am all about that process, but I can really take that to the next level.
I asked my project manager and good friend Patty to come over and help me tweak my kitchen and pantry. (I may post pics so you can see how it looked when she got there). These 2 spaces are more organized than even other professional in my field would ever think of doing. But the tweak took 4 hours! Patty and I laughed through most of the process. We call this kind of project a "next level project". It's not necessary but oh my gosh is it awesome.
Recently we found out about the possibility of several people who would be looking through my house at all of my systems. I began to break my house into 21 projects and start attacking each room. Why?? Like I said I'm a a little crazy!! I love to organize and I want them to see the next level project. I want to lead by example.
I was reminded by my sister this morning that if they wanted to look through my house at this very moment, it would look more organized than probably anything they had ever seen. Isn't she so sweet!! I know she thought that would make me get rid of my list but umm. . . no.
I don't advocate this for my clients, but I do have some clients who come to me strictly for the next level type project. So. . . I help all kinds:)
Well, I must go. Time to close the store and get home to work on the project #4, the playroom!
Wish me luck.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Opportunity Cost

Today is Valentine's Day. As a gift to me I am giving myself some downtime. In that downtime I have decided to write.

This week I have 2 organizing projects going on. Actually most weeks we have 2 projects going on at the same time. This takes some planning, dedication, and organization from my organizers. I have a Project Manager that has been with me for over 3 years. Her name is Patty and she is amazing. What I love most about Patty is her ability to see through all of the chaos and come up with a plan for the client and for her team that is both efficient and easy to implement. I never have to worry when I have Patty running a project. My clients are truly lucky when she steps into their house.

When anyone is doing a project or running a business they have to have things or people in place that give them that sense of peace. Patty lessens my stress at work. The systems I have in place at home lessen my stress there. I have very little down time. I have 2 small children with a full plate of activities, a husband with his own very full career, and a business with many employees to keep organized. Can you imagine on how many levels my organization exists?

I am never perfect. I am always striving to be my best. I know that without being organized I cannot be my best and I cannot give my family what they deserve either. So I have color coded calendars and a pantry that looks better than grocery store shopping, and closets that allow me to dress in style every morning. It's also why it's important to surround myself with positive and capable people.

For a business owner, the right staff, can make or break you. I am looking to hire a new organizer right now. I have a stack of resumes and a very clear opinion of what I am looking for. Anyone who becomes and Amanda becomes family. That is scary and such an important decision.

All of these decisions are mine. I choose to be organized, to hire the right people, and to do what's right. I could at any point, give up, admit defeat, or not do what I need to do.
My clients and each of you have the same choices. Sometimes making those choices means bringing in capable people to help. I can't do it all. If I didn't have Patty, I couldn't grow and develop my business to the same level that she provides me. The same goes for all of the other people who help me. I made the decision a long time ago to hire someone to come in on a weekly basis and clean my house. I made that decision by using opportunity cost. Opportunity cost is the only thing I really took away from my economics class in college!! But it was enough to impact my life.

Opportunity cost is the cost of an alternative that must be forgone in order to pursue a certain action. We use opportunity cost on an almost constant basis without even realizing it. For me the opportunity cost of paying someone to come into my home and clean it far outweighed the cost of having to do it on top of my already crazy schedule. It's important for us to stop sometimes and think about what the opportunity cost is for the decision you are making at that moment. Every decision comes with one.

Oh and by the way I can't stand the show Clean House. I don't agree with their methods and the way they make fun of their clients for ratings. It's not the way I would hope that real organizers go about helping people get organized. It's certainly not how we do it! Can't change the channel fast enough when it comes on! OK. Thanks!

See you later!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How it's been and how it will be!

I have been bombarded with questions on why I quit blogging. The answer: I haven't had time and like I always say, "sometimes you have to choose and prioritize".

The good news is that we opened our new store: Clutter Prescription by The Amandas.

I completely underestimated how long this project would take and how much money too!! As most of you know we have had a retail store for the past three years. Not that any of us took it too seriously. As we made the decision, my rationale was that it would be an easymove since we had the fixtures and the product and knowledge of how it would all work. Boy was I mistaken!! My office manager of three years moved on to another career and a new office manager came in. As good as Lauren(the new right hand) was, she was still new and needed time to learn and get up and moving. So I did as I always do with new people, I threw her into the deep end, without a lifesaver, and shouted at her to "swim or die!!". Luckily for me Lauren speaks crazy and so she is swimming. Not only is she swimming, she sometimes swims enough for multiple people.

The store is doing GREAT! We love it and the people of Birmingham do as well. We have created new and unique services, support groups, and community programs that are all beginning to bloom. The organizing and in-home services couldn't be better. I dropped to my knees on Monday to thank God for all of the blessings in my life. I am lucky and just saying thanks didn't seem like enough. We have a new project on the horizon and I have promised God as a way to say thank you that I would give 10% of the gross to the church. Now I just hope it all goes through!!

As we moved into the new building, I was dealt a gut wrenching blow. Both of my organizers in New Orleans were leaving. Not only were they leaving but New Orleans had been so neglected from some bad apple employees (not necessarily the ones leaving) that it was in deplorable shape. How could I have looked the other way as people destroyed what took me so long to build? Why did I make the mistake of letting unqualified people in the door in the first place? As my sister always says, "It's never good to make decisions when you are desperate". I look back and see how desperate I was to hold on to New Orleans. It's my home and my heart. The clients I have in New Orleans are family. I sat in my new store surrounded by the best employees you could have and I was filled with sadness over the mistakes that had led me to watching the New Orleans territory fall apart.

I wish I could sit here, even now, and tell you how I had a miraculous moment and figured out how to save it all. I haven't. I do still have great clients there. The ones who's trust I lost with bad apples, I am gaining back. The competition who pounced on my weakness, well there day will come. As for New Orleans; I may not live there but my heart is still there and I will rebuild what others took for granted and let fall apart.

I do not place all of the blame on them. How could I? It's my business. I chose to leave them in charge, I chose to hire them. They did what they could and more often, what they wanted.
Along the way I had some incredible employees there who just got caught in the middle of bad management. I hate that happened.

I have taken the bull by the horns and decided what the people of New Orleans need from my company is ME! That's who they feel comfortable with and it's what is best for growth. So, I am back to one week a month in New Orleans. As it grows back I have knowledge of how to better set it up for success and I will.

And . . . now that things have calmed down I will blog again. We will discuss organizing as it pertains to real life and not some fairytale rambling about how easy it is to get organized! It's not easy but it's doable and it's worth it!!