What does my virtual birthday party have to do with organizing and productivity? I promise to weave it in before the end! Thank you for being a loyal and patient reader. I so enjoy your comments and emails.
Virtual birthday party
July was my birthday month! Since we were all social-distancing due to COVID-19, I held a Zoom call with a few friends from different decades. I ordered my own birthday cake: strawberry cake with hummingbird filling, whipped white icing, and pink writing. Exactly what I wanted! One of my friends, Cathy Harrison, who owns Cathy’s Creations, delivered a big bouquet of mylar balloons for some background decor and to make sure I couldn’t downplay my big 6-0.
Thirty minutes before the event, I put on a pink rhinestone tiara that crowned me “Birthday Queen,” took a birthday selfie, and poured a glass of wine. I set my birthday cake next to me on the desk with a fork and plate and started my Zoom event. Then I waited. What if no one showed up? There would have been tears on my keyboard for sure! But they did, and it was just the right sized group.
As each friend signed in, I renamed them with the decade we met (Sandra – 1970’s, Linda – 1980’s). This gave a little context since I had moved a few times (about 20!) during my life. I introduced each person and we shared stories about how we met and some good memories. As we reminisced, I unashamedly grabbed a few forkfuls of cake. Although it was much different from how I imagined I might celebrate my 60th birthday – like taking a little road trip or meeting friends somewhere – this virtual birthday party was surreal and fun!
This event brought back memories, and of course, I thought about how much things have changed over the years. Besides a lack of technology, growing up we had rotary phones, bomb drills during the cold war, weird aluminum ice cube trays, seatbelts that were just lap belts, and jungle gyms. And yes, I stuck my tongue to a frozen metal bar on the playground once.
It’s a wonder I’m still alive. Here are a few near-death experiences:
Laundry baskets make good baby carriers
When my daughter April was born, the hospital staff had to inspect our baby carrier to make sure it was secured correctly in the back seat of the car before they would let us take her home. This is a far cry from my own journey home from the hospital as a newborn. My parents bundled me up and placed me in their laundry basket in the back seat of their 1956 Rambler and off we went. No appalled hospital staff running after the car and calling the police about child endangerment! Once home, my bed was a dresser drawer until Grandma Trapp protested and bought a nice crib for me.
Before my daughter April was born, my mother asked if I would like my old crib. I declined it because it didn’t meet all of the current safety standards of the 1990s with its wider-spaced rails and old varnish. My earliest memory is knawing on that top wood rail! As for the laundry basket? My mother is still using it for laundry.
Mercury is fun!
I learned about liquid metals during third grade at Will Moore Elementary in Bismarck, North Dakota. Our teacher had a sample of mercury to show us and let us pass it around. I do not remember if it started off in a glass beaker, but I remember it ended up in our hands, being passed from kid to kid. It was heavy and cool (not 1960’s slang, but the literal meaning). Then it ended up on the floor, first spilling into a shiny silver puddle and then breaking off into shiny little silver beads that rolled away in all directions. We scurried to catch them all, which (fortunately) was impossible to do with our hands, but it was fun to try. My memory is fuzzy after that…
A glue-sniffing skunk
When I was little, if anyone asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was an actress or singer. But I was pretty shy, so after we moved from Bismarck, North Dakota to Tallahassee, Florida, my parents enrolled me in drama class with the Tallahassee Little Theatre. We met on Saturdays at the Unitarian Church and yelled and jumped around the stage to warm up our expressive young selves.
One Saturday morning, we auditioned for the summer production of Winnie the Pooh. I had a cold and stuffy nose and blame that for my casting as a skunk. But not the real skunk. No, I was the understudy to the real skunk. Nevertheless, all understudies needed their own costumes since the stage needed to be full of forest animals. I even had two lines: “AAAAAAAgh,” and “Kanga’s coming!” I had arrived.
My mother dutifully sewed my skunk costume with white yarn fringe from the top of my head to the end of my bushy tail. On dress rehearsal day we forest animals were lined up for inspection. One thing was missing from everyone’s costumes: noses. Instead of face paint, they decided pink pom-poms would be more visible. Out came the rubber cement! We each got a swipe of it on our noses and had to hold the pom-poms in place for a bit while it dried. It stung, smelled, and gave us headaches. This was repeated for the live performances and we got used to it. We were a bunch of high little forest animals. Ponds lemon cold cream removed the residue and face paint. I still have that nose in the empty jar and it smells like lemons and rubber cement. Why did I keep it? Because it makes me laugh.
My friends chide me for some of the mementos I keep. I still have the ballet flats I painted ruby red for my role as Dorothy in my high school’s production of The Wizard of Oz. Then there’s a pair of wrap-around Sea & Ski sunglasses from the ’60’s that I got at a yard sale with my best friend Donna when I was about nine. She called them ‘boy watchers’ and I decided I needed those for my teenage years. And I have a flattened paper hat from my first job at Krystal, the job that made me realize I had a good work ethic.
Aren’t all Certified Professional Organizers minimalists? It’s all about personal choice. I’m not an extreme minimalist and I don’t push that on my clients. The few things I’ve saved don’t take up much space or cause quality-of-life issues. For now, they spark joy, but eventually, I’ll let them go so my daughter doesn’t have to deal with them. But if I have to choose, I’ll pick my new tiara over the dried-up skunk nose any day. Every woman needs a tiara!
Need help getting your systems in place and decide what to keep and let go of?
Barbara Trapp, CPO®, Certified Professional Organizer® and Productivity Coach
Zen Your Den® and Zen Your Biz™
Professional Member, NAPO (National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals)
Life Transitions Specialist, NAPO
Residential Organizing Specialist, NAPO
Workplace Productivity Specialist, NAPO