The Once and Future Organized Woman

POSTED ON Jul 30th 2013 BY LESLIE LOFTIS UNDER Housekeeping, Housewifery, Life Admin, Motherhood, Social Media, Writing

I wasn’t always organized. I grew up showing signs of organizational talent, but the Pinterest free days of the 70’s and 80’s did not give me enough inspiration and practice in the necessary skills. By college, I had given up. My roommate used to joke about having to find me under a heap of clothes on my bed.

Then, I got my first real job. I waited tables on a cruise ship. (I was a history major. Waiting tables was my main option, so I tweaked it to make it seem cooler. It was actually just harder, much harder.) Our bunks were tiny and subject to inspection by the First Officer. Luckily, I met Nancy*, another natural organizer. The first time I had the morning shift with her, she started teaching me how to do everything faster, better. Like a city herd dog getting a first shot at a field of cattle, I took off.

I didn't come up with the herd dog analogy out of the blue. This is one of our city herd dogs. She had her first encounter with cows at 18 months. We could almost see her click, "I know about cows." She herded our friend's cattle for three days straight.

I didn’t come up with the herd dog analogy out of the blue. This is one of our city herd dogs. She had her first encounter with cows at 18 months. We could almost see her click, “I know about cows.” She herded our friend’s cattle for three days straight.

After six months working with her, my organized woman status was set. A few years later my husband and brother would share war stories about properly filling the fridge or hiding electronics’ wires.

But eventually we had four children…in five years. It took time for me to learn to relax organization standards. Just relaxing, not letting everything go, that’s the trick. Giving up brings chaos, or at the very least, turns your house into repository of brightly colored broken plastic. But practical necessity in a household of 6+ requires you to simply cope with the refrigerator full to bursting or the mixed up art supplies.

So it has gone for the last five years. But that changed as soon as we got home. I had viewed our family trip as the hump of my summer, the last difficult young motherhood event before the transition to full elementary school mom. (My youngest start Kindergarten in the fall.) When the trip was over, my organizational alter-ego**seized her chance

Our house is a disaster right now because I am rearranging everything. I had thought that the writing bug would hit me first as I have so many snippets of posts to turn into something as well as a book idea I’ve had for years that keeps banging around my head, trying to get out. I expect I will write when school starts.  Until then, I have about four weeks for my organizational alter ego to have her way with my house. She is wasting no time.


*The lady was Nancy Brown from South Carolina. I’ve searched for her on social media, but got too many Nancy Brown hits to find her. Nancy, if you happen to read this, please contact me. I miss you. And I owe you many thanks.

**I should name her. Martha Stewart or Monica Geller first come to mind, but my alter ego is not quite the craftsman as Martha nor the party wet blanket as Monica. Suggestions from anyone but my brother are welcome.


  1. ari said:

    you know, our dog is a sheep-dog. He’s really useful for illustrating the “sheep-shaped hole” in his heart. Eventually, the kids will be old enough for CSLewis, and they’ll understand the “God-shaped hole” idea better than just about anyone. As we are second-rate sheep, at best, and he makes do, they’ll even be set for understanding idols.

    I do wish we knew someone with a sheep-farm that would let him herd for a week. I think he’d be a much happier, more complete dog.

  2. Maverick said:

    We have come up with a great organizational strategy for our unexpected, last minute while the family is still out of town move. We are just not going to unpack. Everything that is needed immediately is getting stashed out of range of packers and movers. Everything else will probably live in a box until the end of the year….who am I kidding, probably years!

  3. Leslie Loftis said:

    Ari, the sheep shaped hole, yep, it’s real. And sheep or cattle substitutions just don’t work as well…wrote the woman who raised a border collie in homes with no yards. Loads of fun, that was. Maverick lived near me then. She knows the time I had raising that black and white wonder. At least now we have a big yard.
    Mav, I can’t believe you’re moving. Way to go. Easier school commute is worth a lot of hassle. Promise.

  4. ari said:

    Well, if you’re going to mention organizing, why not mention what you do, step by step?

    Share the goodness, if you will.

  5. Leslie Loftis said:

    I will, I promise. I’ve got lots of plans for this blog come September. How to posts are part of it, and not typical how to posts like How to Organize a Closet but more big picture concepts, how to “lean back”, how to remain social after children, run a modern household…that sort of thing. Don’t hold me to those titles though. And I’ll happily take advice on what you’d like to see.
    Still in house organization mode for the moment. Extreme temptation to write a post about Amanda Marcotte and the triumph of ideology over experience. Not just the men-just-want-babies nonsense Ace is skewering today. The logic problems get worse.

  6. ari said:

    oh, pile on. ace is just one good start.

  7. ari said:

    and after snakes, bees!

    it is just begging for a good third world thriller writer. the president of Archer, Daniel, Midlands (what is the marking for that- ands, commas, what?) let his workers get used by Reagan and Casey in the Cold War. Right now, Chamber of Commerce types ship people from America to Russia, Georgia, and the Ukraine, to train bee-keepers in business methods.
    They can be unclear on concepts, though. Like, selling bitter-tasting honey, instead of the sweet honey, stuff like that.

  8. said:

    I seldom leave responses, however i did some searching and wound up here The Once and Future Organized Woman
    | An American Housewife. And I actually do have
    a couple of questions for you if you do not mind. Could it
    be just me or does it look like some of the remarks look like written
    by brain dead folks? 😛 And, if you are posting on additional online social sites, I would like to
    follow anything fresh you have to post. Would you make a list of all of your social sites like your
    Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

  9. Leslie Loftis said:

    This is a new and interesting spam comment tactic: insulting a blog’s readers. Obviously, don’t click any of those links. I just save spam of dubious worth.

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