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The Catalyst

Some people assume I was neat from birth. There probably was some latent gene there, but I do remember a point in time when I was not neat. I actually remember THE turning point when I decided to get my act together and become neat.

I was 11 years old, very nearly 12. Being from a family of 7 living in a 3-bedroom rancher, naturally I shared a room with at least one sibling for most of my years.  At the time, I was sharing the bunkbeds with my younger sister, M.

There was a boy named Chris who was a friend of the family. He would come over every so often and I would (believe it or not) sit on his shoulders while he rode his bike. Good times. Anyway, I was so pleased to have Chris as a friend. One day, he wanted to see my drawings. I was an avid artist.  So, he walked down the cramped hallway to the hurricane disaster scene that was the bedroom I shared with M. I could not merely lay my hands on my drawings, as they were every-which-where.  I dragged a tangle of paper, gym shorts, odd socks, hair bows and a missing library book out from under the bed, hoping to find some of my drawings in that mess. Which I did, but not before I noticed him regarding my room with an embarrassed horror.

“So – this is your room.”

“Well, M sleeps in here, too.”


*cue chirping crickets*

It’s the first time I recall feeling seriously ashamed of the state of my room. It was also pretty annoying to not be able to find what I was looking for quickly.

It was like a switch was flipped. When Chris went home that day, I cleaned that room like my hair was on fire. It was never messy another day in my life. It was the catalyst. Positive peer pressure. Someone on the outside not saying, but obviously thinking, “Good grief, girl! Get your act together! The good people of the world don’t live in a mess like this!”

I remember reading an article written by a woman who had lost well over a hundred pounds. She had a catalyst situation that flipped the switch and made her decide to get thin. She rode a roller coaster ride at an amusement park, but couldn’t get the safety bar properly seated over her large waist. Embarrassed to mention this, she rode the whole ride terrified she would be flung to her death because she was too big for the safety restraints.  That was her moment. She decided (there’s that word again – “to cut off”) that she would become smaller no matter what. (I no longer recall the source of the article; it was many years ago.)

If you’re trying to get out from under a mess, or too much padding, or whatever else it is, I ask you, what will be your catalyst? What will be the turning point that makes you decide you must act to reverse an unhappy situation? If you really want to use a scenario like this to your best advantage, don’t wait for it to actually happen, just visualize it. Visualize it until you can fully feel how miserable you would feel if your boss (or your mother-in-law, or your snobby cousin or the lady that heads the homeowner’s association) dropped by unannounced and you had to retrieve a proposal from under somebody’s bed. Or whatever. Just something to make you decide. Then take the next step: decide. Then work on your decision every day. Form a new habit.

If you do make a new decision, I’d love to hear about it.


About 25hoursadaymom

Homeschooling, work-at-home, college student mom of 3 kids. Busy, like most moms with such a description. Here to bounce ideas around for squeezing the most out of each day.

2 responses »

  1. Thank you for the great post Danielle! You know I share your love for being organized! We always need to be on the lookout for our ‘call to action’


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