It has been quite some time since I have written to you last. I am sorry for the lack of communication, but things have been really busy, even hectic. However, I am back for my commentary about organizing.
The last time I wrote to you all, Nealey and I were about to get married. The Wedding was absolutely wonderful. I always imagined it would be a perfect day and yet it still far exceeded anything I ever dreamed. The ceremony was nice and short, the bar was open, the music was great, the dinner was delicious and the cupcakes were divine. I couldn’t have been happier.
Unfortunately, several days later my Family had to cope with the passing of my Father. He had been very sick for over a year and succumbed to his illness. Many people who are actively involved in the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) DC chapter, expressed their support and good wishes. For that I say thank you. It was very kind of you to do so and I will never forget it.
So over the past year and more specifically, since I wrote to you last, things have been constantly changing. Organizing travel plans, items or actions has taken a back seat to many more serious events. We always need to take a step back and evaluate what is most important to ourselves, our families and friends, and then move forward from there.
Recently, Nealey and I were awaiting an appointment with our accountant. We were preparing to do our taxes jointly for the first time. The two of us were sitting in the waiting room joking around with each other when she asked me what I would write in my next Mr. Blogger Boutique. I told her that I did not know. Shortly after that a song came over the speakers in the waiting room. It was Take it Easy by The Eagles. The Eagles were my Father’s favorite band. He liked a lot of classic rock, but The Eagles were always closely associated with my Dad within our Family. Many times he would tell my guy friends while we were bbq’ing on the back deck that he sang with Don Henley at Madison Square Garden. None of us ever believed him, but if you asked my Mother, she would simply end the conversation with “It’s true,” and we would move on.
So I sat there listening to this song in the waiting room and thinking about my Father. I thought about when he was most relaxed and to no surprise I pictured him golfing. He taught me how to play golf when I was very young and I’ve played it ever since. I would go out with he and his buddies many times and it was always fun. But for those of you who don’t play or have never played, golf can be a VERY frustrating sport. The ball is sitting there perfectly still and sometimes you’ll swing and miss it completely. How does that happen? Then if you do make contact, it’s not worth a damn unless you hit it straight! You also have to worry about sand traps, water hazards, roads and going out of bounds. Shooting a low score in golf is not easy, and if you play a tough course, it can be absolutely brutal to your confidence.
This type of frustration never penetrated my Father. He was like a brick wall. Never have I seen someone have more fun and be more relaxed on the golf course than he. If he hit his ball into the sand bunker (bunkers are very tough to get out of) he would make a joke about being in “sand trap city,” or landing on the “beach.” He also wouldn’t curse. One time I saw him hit his best shot of the day, and the tiniest of branches knocked his ball down over the fairway. This would send your normal golfer into panic mode! Instead my Dad said… “Ahhh, you turkey!” Playing with him was addictive. He was not the best, but he did know a lot about the game. He was a good teacher too, always relaxed and always smiling. After 9 holes, instead of drinking a beer, he would ask for an Arnold Palmer (sometimes he’d have a beer ;-) just because it seemed right I guess. Each time we played it was a success because of how much fun we had. I guess to do something right, you’ve got to be prepared for the obstacles that are in front of you. But if you’re not going to be relaxed or have fun with it, you’ll end up shanking your ball into the gallery (like President Ford did!).
The golf metaphor to me makes a lot of sense. If you have ever seen the movie Happy Gilmore, you know that Happy is a hockey player who plays golf and when he plays golf he loses his temper a lot. He then suffers on the golf course. Happy doesn’t play well until he visualizes his own personal “happy place,” a place where everything is perfect to him. He then goes on to defeat Shooter McGavin. If I just ruined the end of the movie, shame on you for not seeing it already!
The message here is that when it comes to organizing the basics: your living room, garage, office or basement etc, you will not be successful if you are a hectic mess. Calm down. Before you organize something, you need to relax and take a deep breath. If your basement or living room is a disaster, you are not going to be able to put things away or assemble them in whatever category you choose, if you are in a panic attack caused by the current state of whatever it is you are trying to fix up. Just do like Happy Gilmore would and find your own “happy place.” Trust me, it works.
When I am presented with a challenge, I think about what makes me happiest and then I press ahead. For me it’s quite simple. I first think about standing at the top of the grand staircase at the Ronald Reagan Building with Nealey, while the DJ is blasting Queen’s We Will Rock You, as we are about to enter our own Wedding reception with all of our friends and family going absolutely bananas for us. Following, I’ll think about my two stunning sisters, walking down the aisle, as they are about to take their place as bridesmaids, looking absolutely radiant! I’ll also think about my Mother, who joined Nealey and I at the alter to read an Irish blessing. Then, I’ll think about my Father. I’ll picture him in the front row, watching me exchange vows with the girl of my dreams. I’ll imagine him trying again and again to get out of one of those sand traps. And then I’ll see him in the car ride home from the golf course, lean forward to crank up the volume for any Eagles song that comes across the radio. I think about these things and I smile...and I smile...and I smile.
After doing so, I look at whatever obstacle is in front of me and I kick its ass! You can do the same. Don’t think that Happy Gilmore is just some stupid comedy. The “happy place,” theory really works. Do this, and you will be able to confront any sock drawer, play pen, garage, basement or office of your choice. Pretty soon, you too will be a divide and conqueror! Just remember, relax and love what you are about to do. Then go do it.
Once again, it has been a pleasure writing to you all. I will try my best to write to you a little more often from now on. Spring is on the march and before you know it, it will be time to mow your lawn, take the kids to swimming lessons and plan your 4th of July party. With whatever it is you are about to face, I wish you the best of luck. I very much look forward to sharing my stories with you again. Until next time…….
Take it Easy,
- Owen Patrick