Fill in the blank! People often forget that life is about growth, change, and evolution. The things you used to do or the people you used to be around may no longer serve the you that you are becoming. Or, it could be you lost your way somehow, overtaken by the chaos of life and forgot to nurture those things you love and be intentional about the relationships that fuel you. Either way, today’s story is about growth, resetting, and how my mom can be a hater sometimes - LOL.
If you have been fortunate enough to meet my mom, Ritie - as so many lovingly call her - adores her children and has rightfully been referred to as the “communal mom.” Now, like EVERY mother who soon forgets what it’s like to be a Momma, not a mother, she loves to remind me of how organized and orderly my life used to be. Somehow they forget the struggles of wifedom and motherhood as they watch their daughters navigate the maze of raising tiny humans and bringing big humans - their fathers - along.
CRINGE! I could literally feel my skin crawl whenever my mom would pop over and our house was not immaculate. Why? Because I grew up in a home where Saturday morning cleaning was a ritual…a celebration! Where you never left the house without your room being made, where water spots on counters didn’t exist - even in public spaces, where the smell of Clorox was like heaven, and where wire hangers betta be eaten up by the trash (or else you would get her rendition of the cult classic movie Mommie Dearest, “No wire hangers! No wire hangers ever!”).
Without reservation, and really without thinking about it, Ritie would lean into her favorite phrase, “You used to be so organized. What happened to you? You were planning things left and right, labeling everything in your house, and just so neat. Now, I don’t know what to say. Where is that Lori?”
“GONE,” is what I shouted in my mind, but if you know Ritie, I wouldn’t dare yell that out loud. Wait, be clear, I wouldn’t yell anything to her. My more calculated response would always be, “She’s gone mom. She got married to a wonderful, but not so tidy husband, became a time-poor executive of a demanding job, and had two beautiful and busy boys. The Lori you keep referring to is no-more, has accepted this manageable and sometimes organized chaos as her new normal, and gave up on order a long time ago.”
CURATE THE CHAOS
Now pause…Think about what I just said, “The Lori you keep referring to is gone and gave up on order a long time ago.” As I read that, and reflect on it, part of me was missing for years and I never even knew. I thought I had “evolved,” yet I had accepted the organized chaos that we called life as my new normal. I honestly think I was discovering the balance between chaos and order. Admittedly, the old me was a little rigid and judgingly despised the disorder of others. At times, it confined me, and if they allowed it, those around me. On the other hand, I had given up the part of me that was familiar and that provided me with comfort. If my husband was messy or kids put things all over the house, I had given up on trying to regain the order and just gave in to the chaos. STOP, that’s no way to live, but as you can see from the wise and somewhat judgemental words of my mom, I did live that way. And, I did it for years, until I no longer had the energy to curate the chaos with the Fam. It was time for me to take back my rightful place as the leader of this house, and get some order going.
CALM THE CHAOS
Anyone raised by a mother who loved that harmonious nostril blend of bleach, Pine-Sol, and Comet or better yet, who had a grandmother who cleaned the homes of others for a living, cleaning and being tidy was your norm. But that kid-life, real job work-life, and added square footage, changed the game for me. So many women around me had found other solutions to maintaining order in their lives and their homes, but I wouldn’t dare utter the words out loud and felt bad even thinking about it. Oh, and the mere notion of telling my mom, or grandma gave me real fear. I was not alone. My other Southern Belle friends shared these same sentiments. Personally, I would rather wakeup at the crack of dawn each Saturday and slave over cleaning my house, then to hire a professional to do it for me. Part of me felt like it was a slap in the face to my grandmother and the other part of me felt lazy and entitled.
But then one day, my loving husband could see the unnecessary stress I was causing myself to keep up this “Stepford Wife Meets Boss Chic” persona and he said our family needs you more than the house right now, so let’s find some help. Okay, not quite that easy, because Eric loves to save a dollar and subconsciously felt like “we” - his wife - should be able to clean our modest home. Then, I snapped and he saw the light…PRAISES!!!
I could feel such a weight lifted from my body at that moment, because sometimes we cause our own struggles and stress and at that very moment he assumed his role as my partner and removed the problem. Enough was enough and the reality was I could no longer do it all. And guess what? That didn’t make me less of a wife, mother, or daughter; it actually made me better! Calming the chaos, and outsourcing the needs of our home was actually the real Boss Move! It gave me an opportunity to reclaim my joy, spend more time with my family, and revel in the order of my home.
CONTAIN THE CHAOS
I adopted this ongoing pursuit in the form of a hashtag called #JoyInOrder, which was actually threefold. It was so cool, because the phrase carried different meanings for me and my life:
JOY is present when our steps are ordered - I am a believer and I wholeheartedly know that when we lean on God and listen to HIM first, he will align our lives with the path that he has set for us; ultimately ordering our steps for GREATNESS!
There is ALWAYS time for JOY - People often ask me, “How do you experience JOY all the time when things don’t go your way or when you lose a loved one?” I always clarify and say that JOY and happiness are similar, but Joy is in us ALWAYS, and happiness is influenced by external factors. I can be saddened, depressed, unhappy, or even angry and still experience JOY, because the foundation to my life of joy is rooted in my power of choice to shift my perspective and resurface that joyful energy.
We find our JOY, in order - When we are surrounded by clutter and chaos, our mind and body reflect that energy. It is so important to seek some semblance of order in our lives, when we can - we are all still human - and be intentional about setting up systems that help us perpetuate this lifestyle. It’s no secret that The Container Store is my fave and I am all about an Excel spreadsheet, some labels, and a planner. But I want to spark joy in my life and in my home, and to do that I have to find my #JoyInOrder.
I am not living a completely “contained life” like I want to, but this is the year for me to start that journey. Fortunately, I got a jumpstart on this new way of life by starting with my pantry - see the before and after pics below. Again, we don’t have to go at finding our #JoyInOrder alone. I recruited the assistance of one of my good friends, Lauren Hill, formerly with The Container Store, now with Target as a lead Merchandiser, Co-Founder of The Order Project and co-star on Chaos to Calm.
I am so excited for her and the crew; they have their own TV show on Aspire!! Eric and I were flipping the channel…CORRECTION, Eric was flipping the channel because he hoards the remote, and I screamed and said, “That’s Lauren!!!” So, please boost her ratings, and do yourself a favor and watch to see how you can find #JoyInOrder.
This will be an ongoing journey for The Robertson Family and I invite you to follow the hashtag to see where we are on our quest to #JoyInOrder.
One more thing…you know what, once I told my mom how that phrase made me feel, and I outsourced this chaos, she never really said it again. Grow. Reset. Evolve!