I’ll never forget my Aunt Betsy walking out of her bedroom ready to go to a party with her gorgeous straight, jet black hair down to her waist in hexagonal blue and white bell bottoms. I was mesmerized. She was beautiful and I wanted to be just like her.
Clearly, this memory is circa 1978 but it is crystal clear to me. My Aunt Betsy was not only beautiful (and had a fashion sense to boot) she was The. Most. Organized. Person. On. The. Planet. For a seven-year-old to even notice and then clamor after the organizational skills of an adult illustrates just how odd and dorky of an organizing geek (or wannabe) I am.
Aunt Betsy was an early pioneer of realistic minimalism, easy meal planning, sock pairing before washing, color-coded filing, and year-round household chore tracking. I mean, this gal had an index card system reminding her of weekly, monthly and annual housekeeping duties such as flipping the mattresses and dusting behind the refrigerator. What seven-year old doesn’t want that??!
Visiting my Aunt Betsy and Uncle Don’s house through the years simply fanned the fires of my own personal organizational plans and dreams. As newlyweds Matt and I were setting up our first home, when I exclaimed to my poor, unassuming husband that my dream was for my Aunt Betsy to come into our house and exclaim how impressed she is at the way our basement shelves look and the order of my kitchen cupboards. Matt rolled his eyes, tucked his head and moved on knowing that he was now permanently hitched to a crazy train.
Through the years, homes, babies, dramas and joys, I have lessened my demands on my poor, sweet husband, and myself, in the organizational arena. As we all know, real life comes in swinging with crazy twists and turns. I quickly learned that having four kids and trying to keep my home “Aunt Betsy ready” is unrealistic, to state the obvious. But the lessons I learned from Aunt Betsy about “less is more” and “all things in their place” still ring true and are honestly the cornerstones of why I wanted to start a professional organizing business.
What I couldn’t understand when I was a starry-eyed, organizing crazed seven-year old was that organization has to be realistic and that all of us have different levels of needs and abilities when it comes to organization. Organization is like breathing to people like my Aunt Betsy. Some are just naturally orderly people who don’t really have to work at keeping things tidy, running on time, or early, and having everything in its place. For the rest of us, who have to work at it, organization can be a pie in the sky kind of dream. But the simplicity, calm and peace that being organized has to offer really can be all of ours if we slow down, resist the world’s influence to constantly consume the next best thing, practice the “less is more” philosophy and implement the “everything in its place” rule.
I still marvel at my Aunt Betsy. She has long since cut that waist length hair and ditched the bell bottoms, but she remains the most organized person I have ever met (not to mention loving and kind and not a bit judgmental of the rest of us) and will forever serve as my organizing idol. I just have to remind myself to keep it realistic and in perspective for myself and my family.
Do you have an Aunt Betsy in your life? Or, are you someone’s Aunt Betsy?