Organizing Chaos

A dramatic reorganization of the home causes correspondingly dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective. It is life transforming. ~Marie Kondo

I realized it yesterday, as I tore through the house looking for a Fortnite beach towel. (There may have been four letter words uttered during the search.)

I’ve lost my mind.

I’ve never been particularly tidy. My mom is an artist, and her basement studio was a cacaphony of color. No real rhyme or reason to any of it – just four walls of creative possibility, with drawers full of ideas and stacks of potential. Paint smears splotched the concrete floor. Puddles of dried-up glue gummed up the floor under bookcases piled high with magazines, how-to encyclopedias (pre-google this was a great source of knowledge), bird feathers and rocks and blocks of wood.

Maybe I just follow in her shoes. Our butler’s pantry is full of fossils we’ve found on walks, cool rocks I don’t know what to do with, paints, paintbrushes, glassware we’ll never use again – and plenty of seed catalogs. Plus, I’ve always ascribed to what I’ve referred to as the “bunker style” method of organizing. Important things go in stacks of … important things. (It’s surprisingly effective, and I lose nothing – but to the casual observer I look like a hoarder.) So there are a few stacks of (you guessed it) important papers.

Our family’s clutter-tastic lifestyle would make Marie Kondo cringe.

But in the grand scheme, I’ve always said that I’d rather spend time with my family than worry about tidying everything to perfection (both because of the amount of time you have to spend tidying when you have kids, and also because of the resentment I knew I’d harbor if I tried to make it all “just so” only to have it torn apart within 10 minutes).

But last week I looked around and I just … lost it.

Suddenly everything that was out of place felt … out of place. It felt claustrophobic, and overwhelming, and heavy.

Suddenly I was cleaning out drawers, throwing away old papers, organizing kid art supplies and books and toys (and toys and toys).

Yeah, something’s changed. And yesterday, after losing my mind trying to find that Fortnite towel I think I figured out what it is.

The whole world is a sh*t show right now.

If you’ve got a school-aged kiddo in your home right now, you’re trying to figure out what’s going to happen to your family in the next few weeks – especially if your school district is still putting on a brave face and attempting in-person. If you’re also working, you’re trying to figure out how to manage it – whether in person or virtually – while having a child at home who is certainly not going to to understand why this spring break still hasn’t ended, and why you can’t just goof around and play all day.

And if you don’t have a school-aged kiddo in your home, you’re still trying to figure out all the same things. How do you stay safe when half of the country doesn’t believe the danger is real and doesn’t care about whether you live or die? How do you work, or find a job, or even just stay sane, right now? Especially when everyone right now is focusing on whatever will we do with the children!, the needs of anyone else seem distant. An afterthought. And frankly, that’s terribly unfair.

When life feels so out of balance and so out of control, it makes sense that the first instinct is to control what you can.

So, as I psychoanalyzed myself while tearing through our hall closet, I realized that I was just doing the healthiest thing I could be doing at the time: controlling what is controllable.

Is it crazy? Oh sure. Definitely.

Will it make me feel better? Maybe. Maybe not. But it’s worth a shot, and the worst thing that will happen is a cleaner house where I can find everything. Or mostly everything. And that’s not a bad side benefit.

I have a feeling we’ll all be finding our own ways to take control over the next few months. I’m hoping that will lead to more people registering to vote – so they can finally control who is making decisions. I’m hoping it will lead to more people helping those around them – calming others is one of the most effective ways to calm ourselves.

And I’m hoping it will lead to more people joining us and taking small, regular actions that – when we do them together – result in massive change.

So let’s join together, and control what we can.

And let’s get to work.

Actions for the Week of August 11, 2020

Become a poll worker

Poll workers are on the frontlines of election security. Staffing polling locations appropriately is essential to ensuring efficiency and fairness in the voting process. We need reliable poll workers in every precinct this November!

Postcards for America has created a webpage that organizes state-by-state information on becoming a poll worker. Their database of links helps you quickly locate state specific poll worker requirements (every state has different rules) and directs you to sign up processes to become a poll worker. They also have a Google Document of the information here.

Poll Hero is leading a campaign to sign up high school and college students as poll workers too! If you’re a student or know any students, sign up via the Poll Hero website. 

A job as a poll worker is a nonpartisan, paid gig. There is typically an element of training prior to election day. If you’d like to be a partisan volunteer, you can also learn about the role of a poll watcher on the Postcards for America site


At the end of July, Senator Jeff Merkley introduced S. 4362 to the Senate floor, which would prohibit utility shutoffs during the COVID-19 pandemic period. The bill text also includes drinking and waste water assistance for households. Guaranteeing continued access to water, power, and broadband is vital for keeping families safe, healthy, and housed during the pandemic. The previously passed HEROES Act in House also includes a utility shutoff ban during the ongoing emergency. Such a provision needs to be a non-negotiable for the next COVID relief bill. This is an issue of economic and racial justice, as well as safety and public health during a crisis. 

Call your Senators and Representative to tell them that the next COVID relief bill must include a moratorium on electric and water shutoffs for households. You can also take to social media to share information about the danger of shutoffs using these graphics.  

85 days until November 3rd: Start making calls!

We are beginning the final stretch of get-out-the-vote efforts. I’ve set a goal of dedicating 2 hours each week for the next 12 weeks to reach voters. Those 24 hours of work will significantly impact turnout in November. Will you join me? 

There are SO many organizations ready to support volunteers as we connect with voters. The Democrats’ digital communication game (calling, texting, social media) will be what determines the outcome of this election.

I’m going to spend 1 hour calling with Turnout2020 and 1 hour calling with Texas Democrats this week. Turnout2020 is contacting voters in swing states. Their website is intuitive and sets your calls up for success. On Tuesday, they’ll be calling Arizona voters and on Thursday, calls will be directed to Pennsylvania. My next volunteer hour with Texas Democrats is crucial. Texas has recently evolved to become a battleground state for Democrats; Biden’s campaign is even investing ad money there! There are also several important local races in Texas – affecting everything from climate to education. Before you call, get inspired by two leaders of the Texas Democratic party who were recently interviewed on Pod Save America. Take action and hop on the phones here

The USPS still needs our help

President Trump, aided by his band of loyal Republicans, is gutting the USPS before our eyes. NPR just reported on a story about Kimberly Karol, a postal service workers union representative in Waterloo, Iowa. Karol says sorting machines have been removed in her area, “hinder[ing] our ability to process mail.”

With millions of Americans planning to vote by mail this November, we must protect this cornerstone service of American society. Small business owners shipping packages, elderly expecting medications, and rural families relying on delivery are already feeling the effects of a dismissed and under-resourced USPS.

To protect the essential service AND, more immediately, vote-by-mail, we need our government to act now. Text “USPS” to 50409 and Resistbot will help you contact your Members of Congress about saving the USPS. You can also check out the USPS store to purchase stamps and gifts!


P.S.: Why don’t you make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two? I bet they need it.

If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here. Welcome, friend!

P.P.S.: If you want to help support this work you can do so via Patreon at or via paypal at
My deepest gratitude in advance.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every e-mail. (Really! I really do!) We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.

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