I love playing with acronyms! When my sister and I started teaching our system for getting organized, we knew we wanted to name it something catchy. We loved the thought of calling ourselves “Home Executives,” but we knew we would never be home executives like our BO (Born Organized) mom who ironed Dad’s underwear, baked everything from scratch, kept her high school figure and “freshened up” fifteen minutes before our dad came home from work every night.
We liked the sound of SHE and since we had the HE part, all we needed was the “S.” The “S” would have to be an adjective to describe the kind of HEs we were. So what kind of Home Executives were we? Scummy didn’t describe us; we weren’t sloppy, shifty, sneaky, skittish, sassy or stupid either. (Great names for another clan of dwarfs, but not for us.)
One day we were on our way to teach our first class and we went under a railroad bridge and I squealed, “SIDETRACKED”! My sister was driving and she almost ran off the road!
“Sidetracked, where, what?”
“Our “S” word,” I beamed.
“Our “S” word?”
“Yeah, for our company name.”
“Oh, that “S” word! Hmm, sidetracked, I like that.
“Yeah it’s a word that implies temporary.”
“And fixable,” she added.
Sidetracked was the perfect word to describe our natures. Sidetracked Home Executives. There was something very comforting in knowing our sidetrackedness (I knew my spell checker would fuss on that one) was a temporary state of affairs and that it could be fixed with a little direction.
Now if you stay sidetracked, you can get buried. Not buried like you would in an avalanche, but buried by being overwhelmed. When you are overwhelmed it’s just a sign to remind you it’s time to see where you are and get back on the main track.
We live in a very small town with a railroad going through it. There’s a sidetrack just out of town and a train has been parked there for several months. At first I didn’t notice it was sitting still (sometimes it’s hard to tell when you’re driving past a stopped train if it’s moving or not) but as time went on I realized it wasn’t moving and noticed that it was covered in graffiti.
When we get overwhelmed our graffiti shows up in stacks and piles, sinks full of dirty dishes, unmade beds, backed up laundry, fast food, bulging garages and such. In addition to that graffiti there’s inside graffiti and it’s far worse. It collects as guilt, shame and anxiety.
Those negative emotions are harmful to your spirit and are as useless as a shower curtain made out of toilet paper, especially when you’ve decided to change your ways. Why would you feel guilty or ashamed because you lost your direction? That doesn’t make any more sense than graffiti.
Finding direction is like being lost at the zoo and seeing the layout map of the whole place with a nice, big, red dot that says, “You are here.” We used to get lost in our homes as far as knowing what to do next. Direction came in the form of our get organized system, using 3x5 cards. That system was so simple and fun and in six weeks we were lead out of the jungle of chaos into the pleasure and liberation of being organized.
The acronym SHE has stuck after 35 years because it describes who we are; women who love our homes and families, who tend to over-produce everything from a kid’s birthday party to a Christmas gift for Uncle Fred, have the best of intentions and a love for life that creates more ways to be sidetracked. Little did I know that the acronym SHE would be on the cover of a book we would write that would sell more than a million and a half copies (we think 750,000 SHEs bought it and lost it and had to go buy it again).
Thank you to all of you who are keeping my acronym alive! Go SHEs. (Of course GO is an acronym for Get Organized.)