Sunday, March 8, 2009

Flying Again: Our Trip to See FlyLady

On Saturday, my friend Amy and I drove to Moore, Oklahoma to meet my other friend (Amy's sister) Sara for a FlyLady engagement. FlyLady (a.k.a. Marla Cilley) is a modern-day organizational guru. Her goal is to help people who aren't naturally organized get that way. She encourages taking on tasks in small bites, doing things in 15-minute increments, and developing and sticking to daily routines.

I love FlyLady. She was a huge help to me when I got married and had to deal with a home filled with things courtesy of my pack rat mother and James' pack rat father. James and I both struggled with what to do with the "precious treasures" they'd collected and kept over the years (i.e., macaroni art, pictures of people we didn't know, third grade perfect attendance ribbons, etc.). If those things were special to them, surely they must be special to us as well, right?

Before we took the time to deal with the all the stuff our parents passed on, we began having children. Bub came to live with us just after our one-year anniversary and very quickly our home was filled with bottles and diapers and toys and gear that consumed so much space we needed a bigger house. We bought a house and moved less than four months later. I was already pregnant with Gracie and went on strict bedrest not long after our move, so not only did I not get the chance to pare down the things that had been passed on to us or organize the already-present baby supplies, even more stuff was added when Gracie was born.

I was so overwhelmed that first year after Gracie's birth. Not only was I overwhelmed by having a toddler and a newborn at the same time, I was overwhelmed by the fact that there was no escape. There was stuff everywhere. Baby stuff, hand-me-downs, things we'd collected together. When I got a break from taking care of the children, I was taking care of the clutter, and I felt like I rarely ever had time to take care of myself. It was a hard, hard time.

Along came FlyLady. I honestly don't remember how I found her, but was so glad I did. I subscribed to her e-mails and pored over the message boards on the FlyLady website. I immediately longed for the freedom people felt just by flinging all the things they were dealing with time and time again. By reading the stories and following the plan, I was able to give myself permission to get rid of the things we kept in those early years. Five-year-old me was not in the macaroni art my mom kept all that time. James was not in an FFA belt buckle. Our kids were not in the clothes they wore once upon a time.

I kept photographs of people we knew and tossed all the rest. I kept a few hand-me-downs that had special personal memories, a couple of meaningful baby items, and some of the things that we'd added together and I purged most everything else. Not too much time later, we moved to a smaller place here in Texas, so I got rid of even more stuff. Though I've had to deal with accumulated clutter from time to time (outgrown clothes, unused toys, surplus items we'll no longer use), I never feel guilt or an emotional attachment to the things that hold us back. FlyLady played a big part in the freedom I now feel.

I haven't followed the FlyLady program quite as faithfully over these last few years. We've had fewer things to deal with, so I let my routines lapse. Now that we have a new family member coming and space must be found for her, I've been feeling the pinch with regards to our present belongings. I've been contemplating resubscribing and taking even firmer control of my zones. What better way than to feel inspired than to hear about the FlyLady program than to hear from FlyLady herself?

The conference environment was very good. We met a couple of sweet older ladies who just gushed over Sara's sweet baby Ainsley and shared some stories of their lives. The church that hosted the conference was well-staffed, beautifully appointed, and thoughtful with guest provisions. The catered lunch was delicious and ample for such a minimal cost. The speaking portion of the engagement, however, was a bit disappointing.

I came to the event hoping FlyLady would share some of her story, but more than that, I was hoping she would touch on all the high points of the FlyLady program. I needed a refresher course and enough inspiration to kick me out of this energyless pregnancy funk. Instead of finding inspiration, we listened to FlyLady and her friend Pam Jones (one of the original Sidetracked Home Executives) tell stories, sing songs, and promote product. I enjoyed hearing them speak and hearing their stories, but as a list maker, I came expecting bullet points.

Fortunately, just being in the room with 840 like-minded people, I came home to inspired enough to clean. I've cleared a couple of kitchen cabinets and the kids and I have filled four large boxes with unloved dress-up clothes and unwanted toys taking up space. Over the weekend, I'm hoping to conquer our closet and sort through the scrapbooking room. I'm not to the point of letting FlyLady fill my inbox again, but I am slowly beginning to imagine where I may someday be able to house a baby.

Images From the Day


  • Randi

    Sounds like a fun time but I'm sorry it wasn't more informative.

  • Christy

    I find it incredibly freeing not to have so much stuff. Nearly everything we own, barring the car and a few items of furniture, fits in a 10x10 storage unit. I find it difficult to even buy things that aren't absolutely neccessary or practical. If only I could inspire the pack-rats and collectors I live, play and work with... :-)

  • taralynn819

    I feel similar disappointment after attending the last few Christian concerts I've gone to. Anymore it's not just song and artist. A third of it is spotlighting each musician (who I could care less about) and another third is about Compassion Int'l. Which is an organization we support but come ON, I paid you to CONCERT me! Not talk talk talk.


    We are moving to West Virginia in a couple weeks (whoo hoo!), and I have to say I am sort of overwhelmed with the task of cleaning out our condo. Jeromy's new company is paying for packers and movers ("Hallelujah! Hallelujah!") but I think I'm overwhelmed because it will take a million magic erasers to get scuff marks off the walls! Being anal can be stressful! Especially when it comes to security deposits! Fly Lady, help!

    Although, it felt w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l to hand over those five bags of clothes to the thrift store yesterday. Yes, five. Ahhhhh.....

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