On June 16, I celebrated 41 years being organized. When my sister and I made the decision to go from pigpens to paradise, we were filled with a knowing that we’d succeed. It wasn’t that it was our first attempt. Every New Year’s Resolution had “get organized” on the top of the list. The difference this time was we had a partner and we had good reasons. I had made up my mind to get organized to have more free time to play. Peggy wanted revenge. She wanted her mother-in-law and sister-in-law to come to her home unexpectedly as they often had, only when she got organized they’d be blown away by her immaculate and orderly home.
What’s your reason for wanting to be organized? What if you decided to do it so you'd have more free time to play? Right now I know you're playing even though things are in a mess, but often that's guilt-laden play. When you get a good reason, you don't lose momentum. You don't have to watch the years go swishing by wishing to get organized. Instead, when you get a good reason, it's like having a stick of gum that never loses it's juiciness. Then when you get up each day you'll be excited with your good intention and you'll actually have fun getting organized.
This year, my June 16 day was filled with such fun. It caused me to think back on my reason to get organized 41 years ago. As I stood on stage, before a packed auditorium as the MC for a show, featuring some of the best singers of barbershop harmony, I thought to myself, ‘Because I got organized, this is what I get to do.’ I love to make people laugh and there’s nothing more fun than to play with an audience and experience a collective dose of joy for everyone.
When I was asked to be MC for the big event, I froze. I thought ‘I’ve never been an MC. I’m a public speaker. I do keynote speeches. I’m introduced. I don’t introduce.’ Because of the silence while I was thinking, the poor man on the other end of the phone call finally said, “If you need some time to think about it, take a few days.” That’s when Nelly, my inner child who evidently thought it’d be fun (she was behind my reason to get organized), chirped, “No I don’t need time to think about it. That sounds like fun!”
Faced with something I’ve never done before, I did what any one would do nowadays, I Googled, HOW TO BE AN MC! Among other things, I learned that the MC needs to keep the show moving smoothly and that takes ORGANIZATION. Check. Another thing, I would need to be able to tastefully evict an act from the stage if it went too long or got boring. That’s where these scissors came in real handy. (I found them at a garage sale and Nelly just couldn’t pass them up even though we had no idea what we'd use them for.) And the last thing that sounded important to me (because I’ve been a member of many audiences) was to get the audience involved in the show.
What Nelly and I came up with for audience participation was a hit from the moment I explained it. Imagine you were in my audience. Here’s what I said:
“You know how we always clap to welcome an act to the stage? Well I don’t want you to clap for each group; instead I will assign a sound for you to make to welcome the act on stage. We can practice one of the sounds because it’s a little complicated. Pick an animal on the farm and when I count to three make the sound of that animal and make it sound as real as possible. Do Not say oink, quack or bark. Ready? One, two three….”
The sound literally blew me backwards from the podium! Of course every member of the audience knew how to sing and project their voices in “performance mode.” In other words each person in the audience was a performer. I was totally shocked at the sound they created (and so were they). I told them there were too many cows, so if some of the cows could be pigs or ducks it’d sound better the next time we used it.
When I introduced each group I gave the sound first so they could think about what they would be doing. The first sound assignment was to howl like wolves and as the audience howled, the first quartet began howling as they walked to their places on the stage. It was hysterical! We were like dogs that howl when they hear a siren and then they get other dogs to chime in. It was so funny to watch and the audience was really thrilled with itself.
The sounds I chose were: barnyard, wolves howling, laughter, sounds affiliated with a common cold, the 12th man (Seattle Seahawks have one of the loudest fan base in the NFL and they call it the 12th man), tongue roll, car sounds and the sounds of a crowd in a western movie when they’re going to hang somebody. Everyone was priceless!
One of the quartets from LA said to me after the show, “that was the best audience we’ve ever been in front of!” I truly believe that a lot had to do with them being part of the whole show. They were amazing with their sounds and they were proud of themselves. Many came up to me and said they loved doing the sounds and wondered each time what the next assignment would be as the show progressed.
Fun, fun, fun. That’s what life should be. When my reason to get organized was to have more time to play, it was a nice surprise to discover getting organized was fun in itself. Have fun my sweet SHEs! We were born to do it!
P.S. When I wrote The Joy of Being Disorganized, my intent was to give you a door to your own guidance system. I urge you to get organized just enough to please you, not your mom, your sister-in-law, your husband, not anyone but you. Have a fun day!