Hi my little Tornados! I’m doing a gift card contest for your choice of my two favorite stores! Just follow the directions by liking the facebook page http://www.facebook.com/totallynormalchaos and share the pic!
So! Exciting news!
I’ve created a daily to-do list, organizer, daily planner, whatevahhh to keep you organized! It is a combination of some of the best organizing techniques I’ve come across for myself and it is bright and fun to use- it even has a hydration tracker! I added the hydration tracker because your daily water intake is ESSENTIAL to concentration levels and keeping your ishhh together.
You can download it for free OR if you love having a notepad to write on like I do because somehow handwriting things just makes your thoughts come together better, grab the notepad!
If you did plan on buying it, I have a coupon code for ya that is only good for about a week because it’s a new thing and I just want you to have all the snazz immediately!
ust enter your name and email below and I’ll send it to you ASAP.
OH SNAP! We’re about to get ORGANIZED and PUMPED! and HYDRATED!
Also, if you haven’t struggled on over to hang out with me on Facebook yet, GET ON OVER THERE, you silly wombat! >>>> Link to the right!
My client *Nina yesterday started pacing back and forth.
“I just feel really anxious right now. I just feel kind of upset!” she said, exasperated, as she wore circles in the floor going from the kitchen, to the office, then back to the kitchen. “I just didn’t realize how much stuff I had or how bad my disorganization and clutter is!”
I said to her calmly, as I sat with a pile of disks fanning away from me like a ballerina tutu made of CDs instead of tulle, “That is normal. We don’t realize the burden we’ve accumulated because we put it in boxes and folders and closets because it looks presentable and manageable, but all we’ve really done is found a way to store and not deal.”
What she was going through is completely normal. She’s not a hoarder- but 20 minutes into our Chaos session, she felt like she was one.
Why? Because I made her face all of her sh*t. I made her take it all out and go through every bit of it. And she had a mini panic attack.
That’s normal. That will happen, should happen, and there’s something amazing that happens after you go through it.
But here’s the truth for anyone who is an actor, singer, song writer, model, entrepreneur, etc in LA:
You are overwhelmed because you have too much shit (even if it is “neat”) and you’ve made it literally impossible for your career to move forward until it is taken care of.
We were in her tiny washroom which had been converted to her office/music studio. It was the size of a small apartment bathroom. She had a closet, a desk, a chair and small table.
Inside the typically deep shelved, non-functional closet that apartment renters in LA know all too well about (seriously, who designed these terrible closets across the entire city???) , Nina had a massive amount of office supplies, 3 ring binders for organizing taxes and business info, bins of wires for her electronics and music devices, keepsakes, hundreds of CDs for her singing demo and other musical influences, a dream board that was curling and faded on the wall, inspirational quotes cut out of a magazine and pinned to the wall, extra pieces of furniture that had been pushed to random corners that took up prime real estate where she should have had open space, pictures, and on top of all that, dust.
This is not the house of a hoarder. This is the room of an artistic, talented, beautiful, intelligent 20-something fantastic woman who, in the heart of LA, is trying to simultaneously grow a business and jumpstart her music career.
Which is pretty effing awesome, if you ask me. Yet, typical.
Very. Very. Typical. For LA, at least.
In LA, a heavy percent of the population is an aspiring something who has another job on the side. For Nina in particular, she was doing ALL THREE! Job, startup AND music. And she was trying her best to live a healthy and organic lifestyle.
Talk about pressure.
Here’s where the breakdown happens. It isn’t because she isn’t talented, isn’t creative enough, doesn’t have a good enough business idea or even because she doesn’t have the proper connections.
The issue is her power and effectiveness over her environment. She doesn’t have it. But she desperately wants it and needs it. To-do lists make you feel like you have it. Binders and plastic bins make you physically feel like you are achieving it. But those are temporary escapes.
Even though things are (somewhat) neatly tucked away, she is literally drowning in the disconnect between clutter, organizing finances, organizing her career, and keeping papers and other items tucked away that are old, unnecessary and yet another thing added to the always amassing, yet vague, “To-Do List” in the back of the brain.
The problem is common and it is debilitating to anyone who is trying to start a business, move a business forward, increase their income, have a thriving artistic career or feeling at peace. There is always a feeling that something isn’t completed, something needs to be done, something has to be taken care of. And this incompleteness lasts for years! YEARS, on very small, seemingly simple tasks. Like installing a new water filter that has already been purchased and is still in the box.
To battle this and try to be successful at what the rest of the population considers “getting a lucky break” would overwhelm even the toughest cookie.
As the session moved forward and Nina and I, together, battled everything in only her studio/office closet, the panic started to subside and I could see her energy level raise.
First, she hesitated to even throw away a broken straw purse that she had intended to fix the strap of for years. She put it to the side.
Then, as we rooted through her demo cds, boxes of antiquated and outdated headshots, notebooks full of old song ideas, taxes, and motivational self-help books, Nina left the room with a stained ottoman to dump in the trash. When she came back, she picked up the purse. “I don’t need it do I? Do you think this is cute?”
“Honestly it looks like the filler from the bottom of an Easter basket.”
She looked at me, slightly offended at my bluntness, then laughed. “You’re right. I’m being ridiculous. I don’t know why I was so hellbent on holding on. It was just going to stay tucked away neatly for another 3 years. I don’t even know where to go to fix it, and I don’t even have the interest in looking up a place on the internet.”
She tossed it.
Then, it was like a weight had been lifted. Nina started tackling the box of headshots, then the cabinet full of boxes for electronics, you know, the ones you keep for years in case they ever break.
She started moving faster and with ease, as if she knew exactly what she was doing, where things should go, what was necessary to let go of.
We haven’t finished yet- but at the end of our Chaos session, Nina and I have a plan in progress.
Each thing her life that she is devoted to, music and her organic greens business, will have a section of flawless detail.
Paperwork, forms, schedules, supplies, marketing material, tracking of income, tracking of advertising, taxes.
All of it, purged, simplified, and each with it’s own neat area and system. After acknowledging everything that has been tucked away, we threw away the unnecessary, put back the essentials, then formed an organizational plan for her sales, her music marketing, her income tracking and her resources.
Because you can’t reach your potential of success when the clutter overwhelms your creative.
How creative could you possibly be on a canvas that has already been painted and trashed, compared to a blank white canvas?
Stay tuned– Next article is the 6 Steps to take to Battle Overwhelm and Get It Done Once and For ALL! and How to Be a Success in LA
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Well, I wouldn’t be a very great professional organizer if I didn’t know a trick to one of the worst household tasks EVER!
You’re welcome for saving you from ever getting assaulted and embarrassed by a fitted sheet again.
If you like my stuff and want more quirky little tips, tricks, motivation or videos, be a good little Tornado and send me your email below. Let’s get rowdy.
I knew I had hit an all-time low as they put the cuffs on me and searched my car.
They drove me exactly one and a half blocks to the precinct and I was photographed, inked, patted down and stripped of my bra.
I was arrested in front of my boyfriend.
Not for stealing. Not for assault.
I had a warrant. For a failure to appear.
A failure to appear for a ticket I got driving an entire year before.
An easy thing to take care of. On the date on the ticket, you simply go into the court at the appropriate time and listen to how much of a fine the judge will give you.
Imagine that. I turned something small, something annoying and rather un-chaotic, into an EVENT.
We all do it- we create events, even negative events.
We call our destructive chaos many things: absent-minded, busy, ADD, forgetful, careless, bad with money, broke, someone else’s fault, oh and my favorite: normal.
Destructive chaos is none of these things.
Chaos is something we create, whether we have ADD, we miss a court date, or we just think all the tumult in our lives is what everyone else is experiencing, too.
Here’s the clue though; most happy people aren’t living in destructive chaos. They are living in normal, manageable chaos.
What is the difference? Destructive chaos leads you into a downward spiral and a never ending cycle of unpaid bills, burned bridges, struggling with weight loss, feeling unappreciated at work, being late, missing opportunities and never reaching goals and dreams.
Normal chaos is 5 kids running around while you finish off the tail end of brownie making which they’ve abandoned after they got to lick the spoon. Normal chaos is a family member passing away and having to notify work, book a ticket home and find a place to stay while coping with loss.
The difference is that one is managed by taking care of what needs to be done and the other is caused by letting things get out of control and
The only reason we think our destructive chaos is normal is because it can seem like a good story or we are just plain addicted to the upset of a perfectly calm life. We feel like something needs to HAPPEN. There has to be an EVENT!
Living a life without destructive chaos is not boring. It is not you sitting around wasting the best years of your 20s and 30s, forgoing the miniskirt or the 3 too many martinis. It’s not swearing off all assholes- because we need these things. We need a couple assholes to put what a good man is into perspective, we need a couple blurred nights and hang overs to put consumption limits in order, we need that one outfit that tells us that it is only right for a night out, not around the boyfriend’s parents.
On the other hand, we need that one good man to wipe away all the memories of the assholes which could become destructive chaos, we need that night out with the girls where we only had one drink and still had the time of our lives to let us know we don’t have to be shit shows to get attention or be liked, we need that selection in our wardrobe that makes us feel powerful without showing an inch too much yet turns heads anywhere we go.
Chaos, misplaced, becomes our excuse for destructive patterns.
The habitually late will always find themselves in the midst of some “issue”, for instance.
I found myself in handcuffs because I created a bunch of chaos around resolving a ticket. Something a simple appearance would have resolved.
Something a little saved money would have resolved.
Saved money, which would have been there, if I had written a budget, followed it, and had not just shut my eyes to my spending and limits.
It was when I was sitting there in my cell, head down, tears pooling in my eyes, that I realized that this arrest, these money issues, this body, this
Luckily, we are not doomed to live in destructive chaos.
On the other side of this is a life of power and respect for ourselves, our time, our money and our health. A life you are in control of, a life where you don’t have the constant drama and setbacks keeping you from achieving the life you want.
It can be difficult to wrap your mind around at first because essentially we are talking about changing our entire behavior, which can be confused with “that’s just who I am”. But, if “who I am” worked, we wouldn’t be treading water emotionally, financially and physically, would we?
Luckily, I already endured the broken path to figuring this out. Even though I’ll be blogging about it, enter your email here to get more motivation and info on how you can change your life the way I did.
It took a couple traumatic experiences for me to get myself to where I am, hopefully you can get there without all the extra drama it took my stubborn self to get through first! Learn from me. Trust me. You don’t want to continue down my former path!
Organizing affects everything and everyone- every career, every relationship, every household.
When you have a disorganized house, a disorganized schedule, or don’t have a routine at work, life becomes difficult not just for yourself, but for the people surrounding you in your life.
So, you know that already, don’t you? Everyone knows, a messy house creates clutter in the brain, which actually means your brain was cluttered first and manifested from your thoughts. It’s a never ending cycle.
So you tried to do something about it.
You probably went online and read up on “how to get organized” or went out and bought a book from Peter Walsh or Julie Morgenstern on how to increase productivity or looked up what papers you’re allowed to toss safely if the government should ever, so generously, give you an auditing surprise party.
You probably went on Pinterest and looked up creative DIY solutions to organizing your closet or kitchen.
You may have even looked up free budget tracker websites to get organized with your spending habits.
You also tried to create to-do lists and big calendars with multi-colored markers outlining different important tasks, you tried to get through unopened boxes you never went through when you moved into your apartment 2 years ago, you attempted to open the garage door and wade through the miscellaneous things that had no physical place in your home, so they got pushed outside.
And you probably started off super motivated, too. Didn’t you?
It feels good at first, writing the to-do list, taking things out of a box, THROWING THINGS IN A BAG TO GET RID OF, being on time, planning in advance.
But then, after a couple hours, or for the extreme go-getters, a couple days, … it gets exhausting.
It gets overwhelming.
All of a sudden, panic sets in because there is just too much around you to take care of, too many tasks built up on the list, you don’t know what to start on first and then you find an overdue bill you forgot about.
It seemed so easy at first, putting your life back on track, keeping in that way. The plan was there! The resources were there! The shiny books with toothy smiling celebrity professional organizers had fun ideas and some prolific words!
So, what happened?
I’ll tell you what happened.
The #1 Roadblock to staying organized is FINISHING.
Sounds simple and obvious, doesn’t it?
Oh, Monica Fay, really? Finishing is your answer?
Finishing the task, no matter how small or how big, is crucial to becoming organized.
A major problem I used to have, and still work every day at overcoming, is the ability to complete the tasks and goals I’ve set for myself- to honor my commitment to being organized and living a life that flows effortlessly.
Stubborn as I am, I didn’t discover this roadblock until AFTER I became a professional organizer. At the time, I was still a live-in nanny, and editor for a local magazine, trying to finish up college (late as usual) and trying to get old credit card bills from when I was 18 under control.
As ambitious as I was, as much as I wanted to live this life as a responsible adult who could live easily and happily, I realized I was fighting the same battle every single day and never completely taking care of one task to its finishing point! I would make new task lists every day, I would tackle portions of my room, I would spend time writing for the magazine or encouraging my staff of writers, but at the end of the day, there was no satisfaction that anything had really actually happened! It was pure stagnation of life.
At one point, when I was 30 minutes late to pick up the youngest child from school, after I had just worked an organizing session for a client I was also late for, AND my phone shut off because I hadn’t allocated the funds for the bill so I didn’t have a means to call any of these people to let them also prepare for disruptions in THEIR hard-earned life flow, I realized that my disorganization, my failure and inability to FINISH, not only made my life very difficult, it forced others to feel the effect of my actions!
That is when I realized that FINISHING is the biggest problem to living a life of ease and success.
So many times, we create the lists, map out the schedule, attack boxes or stacks of mail, we buy the bins, baskets and wall hanging devices, answer emails, but fail to accomplish the daunting task of perfecting flow and organization.
This is because we do not give importance to FINISHING. It doesn’t matter how many things you need to do, how many boxes to go through, how much paper is on the counter, how junky your closet is, how hard to reach someone is.
You cannot be organized and at the same time have half completed goals/tasks.
When you finish something, a small bit as it may seem to be, you can successfully move on to the next increment of organization.
Being organized is the act of several small repetitive systems put in place to make life flow, and each system has steps that have to be completed in order to move forward and work.
When I finally got this concept, and I mean REALLY got it, that is when I was able to finally share this authentically with my clients and teach them through my own mistakes in an easier to understand and easier to accomplish method, and it changed the nature of the relationship I had with these people completely.
I also realized, who would be more effective at getting you to make a permanent change? Someone who made the mistakes before and has come to correct them? Or someone who has always lived a certain way and never felt the sting of failure or has never known the struggle of how to rise from the bottom?
So, as I told you before, I used to be a disaster. A complete tornado. I was actually still a disaster when I started down the path of creating a Professional Organizing business.
But, I wanted to create something different than all the other know-it-all perfect Pattie organizers already out there. I wanted to show people that I know what it’s like to have the ADHD brain, in fact I made up my own glam name for it: Glitter In The Carpet Syndrome. This stems from the exaggerated belief that those with ADD and ADHD will be distracted by even the most remote piece of shiny. AND my term makes attention deficit sound so much more LA. I like that.
I wanted to show others that frolicked with Glitter In The Carpet Syndrome that they aren’t a lost cause. They aren’t ditzy. They do have a functional memory. They CAN be successful and not be wrought with anxiety, driving around in circles trying to figure out which task on their “To-Do” list to actually start first.
So, here it is. Here’s a picture of me at 19, when I had lost some weight on my college cheerleading squad. I was trying to show my body’s progress, but take a look at the utter CHAOS in the background. Look at the comments people made.
To say the least, it was a wake-up call to my lifestyle that was barely working for me.
Something had to give. And I’m not going to lie, I am one of the most stubborn minded people you’ll ever meet. But I learned how to reign in my disorganization and actually manipulated my ADHD so that it worked for ME instead of me being a victim of it.
And every day I love teaching people how to do EXACTLY what I’ve done.
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Hi there! My name is Monica Fay. I am a professional organizer and I am a self-proclaimed DISASTER. I know, confusing, right?
I own Totally Normal Chaos, a professional organizing business based out of Los Angeles and Washington, DC, and I just started the project, Shoe-lutions.com, who’s website is underconstruction, which focuses on creative ways to store and organize shoes from small/cramped spaces to walk-in closests and products to buy to create the best solution for your shoes.
You could say, at the very least, I am in the business of chaos management.
Like most people, I have a story of where I came from and how I got to where I am today.
And unlike most professional organizers, I didn’t start off as the kid who “loved being organized and cleaning” from a young age. No, I was the barefoot, eccentric kid who couldn’t let go of my Barbies until way past 8th grade and who always had some type of skinned knee from playing outside and whose room was an utter disaster. A hoarder of The New Yorker, I’ve collected almost every single issue since I was 15 years old… and I just turned 26 on Dec 2nd, 2012, so… that should tell you something. I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was 5. I was re-diagnosed with ADHD when I was 20. I’ve hit every down any of you could ever think of from being broke, to ruining my credit to going to jail for the most ridiculous of reasons to owning my own business, being a successful college cheerleader, writing a book and changing my entire life around.
It wasn’t easy- I’m stubborn, they say. They all say, actually. I don’t see it. But I’m a stubborn learner in addition to just being stubborn. I repeated the same mistakes over and over until after multiple self-inflicted wounds to my own success, something shifted and I finally GOT IT. I still make mistakes, but I’ve come a long way- and my goal is to teach what I’ve learned and inspire people to kick their lives into high gear by eliminating the hold ADHD has, becoming so organized there is no reason to become discombobulated and anxious, become so efficient that there are multiple streams of money coming in and plugs on every financial leak you have right now.
What makes this girl so qualified to lead people from chaos?
Well, you can follow my story and read in each coming post how I first became a hilariously disastrous girl who ended up having a popular blog making fun of my struggles while struggling painfully on the inside, to flourishing and having my own business… then you can read about the disasters I endured as a business owner starting a business with NO money in my bank account and how I fixed the issues and created something out of nothing.
There is so much to go into, but I will brief you on one of the most impactful things I learned in my struggle:
I was attached to my chaos, attached to my disorganization, attached to the struggle. I noticed that every time I was doing well, I was happy but it also made me uncomfortable. Pretty soon, I would end up back in the same struggling position as I was before.
Disorganization and chaos are both deep commitments we make to ourselves whether it be as simple as not tracking our finances so we always end up broke, not staying consistent with our workouts and meals so we always stay overweight, or even for small businesses/entrepreneurs: not creating and sticking to cancellation policies/deposits so that we end up always at the mercy of our clients financially and time-wise.
When you live in a world of chaos, everything is late, unorganized, unexpected and dramatic.
I also learned that you can create and worsen your ADHD by living a chaotic life. Yes, you heard me: You can take a mild attention issue and turn it into full blown self-induced ADHD. And it will destroy you.
But what I learned most importantly is that all of this, all of this chaos and struggle, it can be fixed. I’m not going to say it’s easy, but I’ll teach you how.
Does this resonate with any of you? Are any of you living a life of totally normal chaos?
First blog ever