Aunt Geneva was a diva; a genteel, gray-haired diva. She was born into a poor farm family in 1918 and achieved two distinctions while attending college in Cincinnati during the Great Depression. She was the first person from Turkeyfoot, Kentucky to go to college, and while there became the most popular girl on campus, despite a wardrobe composed in entirety of three dresses. She lived the rest of her life with the work ethic and self-confidence endowed, or revealed, by these remarkable accomplishments.
I admired her style and appreciated her encouragement. She liked some poems I wrote and submitted them to a leading children’s magazine. Although they weren’t published, she often told me I wrote well. She gave me my first journal, and introduced me to quality literature through the good books she read.
After retirement, Geneva and Uncle Dick moved back to the ancestral farm. She loved the place, but as years passed upkeep became a burden and they sold it. When it was time to move, Geneva declared it too stressful to leave the place that had always been her home. She took off and let others do the move.
Mess-Makers or Fixers
It seems to me that people you come across in families, workplaces, and organizations are either mess-makers or fixers. One person uses the printer until there is no ink left, the other puts a new cartridge in. Someone drinks the last orange juice from the fridge and leaves behind an empty, dirty pitcher. The previous owner of my home left dozens of old paint cans, rolls of carpet, empty boxes, and broken lawn equipment hidden away under eaves, behind fences, in closets or crawl spaces. I cleaned it up.
Are you a mess-maker or a fixer? Ask your family and co-workers and see if their answer agrees with yours!
Change It Up
It’s tough to release old habits and roles. What would happen if the mess-maker has to fix the toilet she clogged? If you keep finding messes to fix, maybe you’re the one that needs to change.
That’s why, as I moved from a house I love, I decided to Pull A Geneva. I was not there on moving day.
I did not see the old nest dismantled, disrupting memories of my dad’s last Christmas and Easter. I did not face a new place piled so high with boxes that I couldn’t find my toothbrush or wash my face.
I hired a personal organizer. Someone who said crazy words: “I love moving!” How does one love moving? Moving gives me nightmares and a nervous stomach and a twitchy eye. For over thirty years, I’ve moved about every three years, and most moves were not my choice. So perhaps I’ve earned my aversion.
Mess-makers: please. Hang up your clothes. Put new toilet paper on the holder at least every third time or so.
Fixers: You will always be a fixer. You like the sense of accomplishment, and the thrill of seeing all the Legos in their proper boxes instead of jumbled together in one bucket. You may even pay a hard-working, diligent personal organizer and then linger to help her, until she makes you stop, and says, politely, “Don’t you have somewhere to go?”
Try something different. Pull A Geneva. Then watch, amazed. Everything works out.
What about you? Do you need to pitch in to fix something, or let go?