Monday, February 22, 2016

Decluttering My SLP Brain



My winter break officially started today. I spent the weekend lazing with my kids, binge watching BBC's Doc Martin and relaxing. Today, through some strange metamorphosis, I started a rampage through the house in a pitiful attempt to declutter. I suspect I felt compelled to be productive to make up for relaxing over the weekend, as if relaxation was a bad thing! I was like a whirling dervish grabbing at extra dishes from the cabinet, clothes from the attic, loose books, extra tote bags (many collected from vendors at ASHA conferences), and throwing them into piles. I was suddenly overwhelmed by the urge to just cry! I began to think of the clutter as a metaphor for my life and became truly disconcerted. I sat for a moment and picked up my cell phone to check Instagram, for probably the 15th time this morning, and saw a post by Amy of 3D SLP referencing the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. Coincidence? I think not!

I asked Amy about this book and she said, "Call me!" In her book, (which I have just ordered and have not read), the author provides an approach to letting go of the stuff that clutters your home. Amy shared that the items that are kept are those that bring joy.

This gave me the opportunity to look at other parts of my life within the same context. I naturally landed smack dab in social media-ville. Social media has it all, the good the bad and the ugly (insert whistle here). Every day there is another new-fangled way to put my life in the spotlight. There's Snapchat, Periscope, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and things I have never heard of. There are places to buy clothes, make-up, furniture, books, toys, home goods, and antiques. There are ways to gain support for every cause imaginable: donors choose, go fund me, and more. There are more and more avenues for selling our own goods: Etsy, E-Bay, and Teachers Pay Teachers to name a few.

How does how my participation in social media clutter my life? When I joined the teacher-author bandwagon it was to stretch my limits. I wanted to try something new and scary. I will also admit I wanted to be a part of a talented and diverse group. I somehow convinced myself that I would magically become a member of an elite group and my value would increase exponentially with each new product I created. I joined a plethora of groups for SLPs. Groups for TpT sellers, groups for school-based SLPs, groups for CAS, groups for peeps and RtI, and Language and Literacy. I get thirty notifications a day at least! I joined Periscope and now I can watch videos on how to use products in therapy. I follow more blogs than "Carter has little liver pills." Every week I have to catch up on 99+ posts. I can get sucked into Pinterest and spend 30 minutes looking for an activity where a die and plastic chips would have worked fine.

The excess and time lost are anxiety producing. I am so susceptible to the frenzy. In my attempts to remain current, to have the most motivating and fun games, or the best no-prep packet I have over consumed to the point of not even knowing what I have. I have seen a product on Instagram and clicked over to TpT only to shudder when I realize I already own it. I have purchased materials I have never printed and even worse are still in my downloads file. I have ordered professional books, with the best of intentions, yet still haven't found the time to read them. I have perused the blogs and Pinterest boards reinventing the wheel. I have spent eight hours on a product that I charge $1.50 for and have sold ONE. Yes, I have purchased materials that my students enjoyed and that have made my job easier. Most are well researched and fun. I have even created some pretty swift products myself, but it has come with a cost. I have fallen into a time sucking abyss trying to keep up. After creating my latest little gem with my face stuck in a laptop I asked myself,  "What could I have done in those eight hours?" I could have read. I could have played a game with my children. I could have had conversation and a cup of tea with my husband. I could have visited a friend. I could have done a crossword puzzle. I could have called my brother. I could have prayed.

Why? Who am I comparing myself to? Do I get more street cred if I make more stuff? Am I somehow a better speech-language pathologist if add to my already overflowing speech files or my already jam packed schedule? In a recent conversation with another SLP friend, we remarked that when we started in the field we hand colored our materials. We did a lot with a little. Those of us in the schools were the MacGyvers of speech therapy. We were low-tech and creative. We could make a game out of a band-aid tin and a pom-pom. Oh the time I have lost!

This is what I have concluded, I can't keep up and more to the point, I don't want to. I want my time back. I am going to remove myself from most of the groups AND I am finished pushing myself to create materials for TpT. I set a goal to create twelve new products this year. After asking myself what my motivation is I realize I don't have a good answer. Does it bring me joy? No. No it doesn't. I feel proud of my products, but not joyful. I want joy. I want the joy that comes with simplicity. I want to declutter my SLP world.

I have made remarkable friends through my endeavors and those friends are not going anywhere. They are smart, funny, creative and diverse and I simply love them. They are real and if I can find joy in this, it is that I have I established relationships with those practicing in one of the best professions there is. With that I have decided to leave creative materials production and periscoping and Snapchatting to the young, tech-savvy, energetic SLPs. For me I will happily satisfy myself with my blog that few read, my Instagram posts that are so fun, and a little Facebook time with my family and friends. Ahhhhh, I feel lighter and more joyful already :)

24 comments:

  1. i really liked the first book, i have the second book from the library ( you need to save your money and use the library! you can probably put books on hold through the website!) but her first book was great. i cleaned out my closet and all my workout clothes.i threw/donate so much "but i wore that shirt for this race" or "that race doesn't exist anymore"

    what i sort of gathered from her book was this :i put all my workout shirts (for example) in a laundry basket, then i took what i wanted to wear from that basket. when i did laundry i put the items i wore back into the dresser and i did this for a few weeks and whatever was left in the basket went out the door. i am doing the same thing with my sock right now. it seems crazy but the clutter/etc socks had to go

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    1. Yes, I don't know why I don't go to the library. I LOVE libraries! I have all my shirts from all my races. I cannot wait to purge. Eventually I'm going to have to go through all my computer files and school materials, too. The thought is overwhelming. Amy read the book with her family. I love that idea, because if I can encourage my kids to let go of crap it will serve them well!

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  2. Thank you for an amazing, thought provoking post! I am going to have to check out the book too. Maybe I'll go look at the library! 😊

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    1. Good idea, Jen!! Thank you so much!

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  3. Annie, you are amazing! I knew that from the moment I met you in Pittsburgh when we had baby blogs! I'm so glad that we have our friendship and it doesn't revolve around TpT, Facebook, or whatnot! Life is precious and we need to enjoy every minutes of it! I'm working on "decluttering" my life also! I have the same book (didn't get very far, maybe this summer!). Enjoy your new found freedom <3

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    1. Well, I'm not free yet, but it's a start right? It is good to have friends and I am grateful for you!

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  4. What a great post! I think it is wonderful that you could take the time to assess your life and what brings you joy. Thinking about what is joyful puts things into perspective, and I hope to incorporate that into my life as well. I love your posts and can't wait to read more and continue to get to know you better. I'm working on decluttering my home, my computer, my life.... Enjoy every moment you have!

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    1. Thank you Jessica! Funny, because I have spent a lifetime assessing. I guess that's what maturity is!

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  5. Oh Annie! You know what brings me joy!! YOU DO! (and your blog that few may read but more should read). I love this heartfelt post- you've got the right idea for sure. I think I'm going to get that book also. When we meet, let's bring crayons and "ditto" sheets (those bluish purple ones you know) and have a little throwback McGuyver SLP time together. You don't need any "stuff" to increase your value or worth- you are golden in my eyes, Annie.

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    1. I still have blue dittos (they don't smell good anymore though). You knew who I was talking about, too :) I think we should do some cut and paste clip art, also. I'll bring the white out so when we copy there are no black lines!
      You are a gift!

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  6. So profound, and so well-written! You are an amazing woman, SLP, blogger, TpT product creator, mother, wife and friend! I will miss the chance to preview your products! For the record, they have brought ME joy over the years and have made my life easier. I think you are courageous and wise for recognizing the need to step back. I'm so proud of you and blessed to call you my friend!

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    1. Thank you so much Pam. I may dabble here and there, just no more goals. If I have a need I'll make something. I know that's what you and Sparklle and others do and that is the right approach. Isn't it odd the anxiety that follows a change?

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  7. Love ya Annie! I can totally relate to so much of what you wrote. Congratulations to you for recognizing where you were and choosing a life that you want. Your perspective is helping me to prioritize.

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    1. You, my dear, are amazing! I admire all you do and I thank you. Let's see if I can follow through, now!

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  8. I can relate to many of the feelings you described in this fabulous post! Thanks for sharing and I too am on the decluttering train (choo choo)!

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    1. Next stop...? I am so glad to learn that I am not alone. I really thought I was! Let's hold each other accountable in our decluttering mission!

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  9. Is it a character trait of SLPs to collect stuff and materials? I have a garage full of materials and still feel the need to shop for more. I feel the need to collect things and save "that item" for when I'll need it some day. I'm slowly trying to declutter too and trying to declutter from time wasted on the phone. Thanks for a great post. Guess it's off to the library!!

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    1. We must stop the madness. I think we should start a campaign! Good luck. Let me know how you progress!

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  10. This post is so timely and poignant for me. I spent all of last evening stressed out because my technology wasn't working the way I thought it should, and one of my goals this school year has been to better connect with our profession. I couldn't get to all of the periscopes, blabs, and discussions that I wanted to, and I felt like a failure. Your post has offered a new perspective, not of ditching all of those resources, but of doing things with intention. Thanks for the insight, and for taking the time to share your thoughts and ideas.

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    1. I know EXACTLY how you feel, Kari! That is how I was feeling. In the aftermath of this post I realized I am an "all or nothing" person. I am either immersed to the hilt or recovering from being immersed to the hilt. I am trying to pace myself. Give yourself permission to give some thing up!

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  11. I happened to come across your article in the ASHA magazine. Since I am always on the hunt for some good SLP blogs, I was happy to find yours. I often feel overwhelmed by all that technology has to offer. I have limited myself to my favorites. I am getting ready to step back from a few activities that clutter my time and my mind. I feel that there are seasons in life. Those activities will come back to me. Right now I want to focus on my son who is growing up before my eyes, a new position I am beginning in August and teaching Sunday school! Thank you for that inspiring post. I Will have to add your blog to one of my favorites!

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    1. I am grateful you have decided to clutter your blog list with Doyle Speech Works! Thank you! I agree, life does offer seasons. I have done a lot of thinking on this topic and realize one of my challenges is the "all or nothing mindset." I am either crafting or not crafting, dieting or not dieting, making materials or not making materials, reading or not reading, to the exclusion of all else. The key here may be balance, but that's another post!

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  12. Took me this long to get through my feed to finally read your post:) this is seriously a great reminder. I have no regrets meeting all the wonderful SLPs I now call my friends across the country, but you are right, that amazing product that I have yet to produce didn't win me the friends! Being you is what we want! I do find joy in creating products. It is a passion, but I often wonder if I will regret the time I didn't spend doing something else. Here's to more games and cups of tea! Love ya!

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    1. Love you back, my friend! I realized after thinking on this that my problem is that I have an all or nothing mindset. I'm either consumed with an activity or not doing it at all. What I need is MODERATION, then I could do all the things I enjoy!

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