“We missed you this afternoon,” my friend Robyn emailed me. “Is everything OK?”
Huh? I was counting on seeing her at a friend’s Memorial Day party tomorrow. On, you know, Memorial Day. I checked my calendar: Yup, Monday, 4 p.m. That’s Memorial Day. I hadn’t forgotten. I even had a loaf of chocolate chip banana bread in the oven to bring as a hostess gift.
The only problem was the Robyn was right. The barbecue, bounce house and Hawaiian-themed “welcome summer” party was today. Sunday. We weren’t there. And it was my fault.
If this had happened a few years ago, I would’ve been a lot harder on myself. But I’ve become more forgiving since becoming a professional organizer. I thought I’d hold myself to a higher standard, but instead, I’m much more understanding of obstacles, backsliding and mistakes.
Many of my clients start out extremely critical of themselves for harboring piles of clutter, losing important documents or lacking an organizing system. I try to dispel that assessment. Instead, I see them as very brave–they’re willing to admit they don’t know something and are tackling a problem by seeking an expert’s help.
And most of their “problems” are challenges we can successfully overcome together. Once they learn organizing skills and gain some confidence, their self-judgment diminishes. And they can view a pile of bills and paperwork as simply a side effect of having a busy, active life, rather than a judgment of their self-worth.
After I spoke with Robyn, I called my hostess to apologize for missing the party. She was not angry at me or offended that I’d missed her annual event. She laughed and told me how the same thing had happened to her a few years ago: She and her husband showed up at a friend’s home with a bottle of wine and were greeted by a puzzled couple who informed them that they were right on time–but 24 hours late.
Moral of the story: Memorial Day parties aren’t always ON Memorial Day. And you can bet I won’t miss my friend’s party next year. Assuming I’m still invited, of course.