Word-Filled Wednesday: Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12

In November of last year, I wrote a devotional on this verse and what it meant to me. Over the last year, as I supported my friend who is battling stage IV breast cancer, this verse has come to mean so much more. Here’s an excerpt from the November devotional over at Pragmatic Communion, entitled, “i am not alone.

“I’m the book lady. Every year, my church has a HUGE rummage sale. Two full weeks, weekends included, are spent unloading storage units, picking up and accepting donations, sorting, pricing and basically setting up an entire gymnasium for the annual “Whale of a Sale” held the first weekend of October.

I’m the book lady.

I take two weeks off from clients and work the Whale, every day. In that two week span, I literally touch thousands of books. They are categorized by topic and fiction is alphabetized by author’s last name. They sit on three rows of 6 or 7 folding tables (the big ones), in boxes, spine up, facing the shopper. Each box has a sign sticking up from it with my handwriting on it, indicating the contents of the box: Cookbooks, Physical Health, Emotional Health, Parenting, Travel, Military History, American History, World History, Gardening, etc. In each box, you can see the name of nearly every book without having to touch a single one. If you are looking for a particular book, just ask me. I”ll tell you if we have it and, if so, exactly where it is. The comments from people who see it range from, “Wow. This is amazing.” to “Who did all this?” (in a “that person is insane” tone of voice.) In the first few years, I did much of it myself, but now there are actually a handful of people who “get” me and can help sort without messing up the system.

The added benefit is that I get first pickings. At a $1.00 per hardback and $.50 for paperbacks and children’s books, I bring home a bookcase worth every year. My I.O.U grows ominously for two weeks as I sneak boxes of books into my house. Some women buy clothes, secretly hang them in the closet and when their husband comments the first time the clothing is worn, the women say, “This? I’ve had this for years.” Not me. I bring home books, quickly pull off the price tag and shelve them. I don’t say a word. I read so many books at one time, I never get asked, “Is that a new book?” My husband can’t keep up. This year was more difficult. I ran out of shelving space and had to reorganize the playroom. A six foot shelf that used to house toys, games and puzzles now houses fitness, diet and health books. (The shelf is right next to the treadmill after all.) . . . “

Click HERE to continue reading and to see photos of the freakishness.

underwear. step by step.

I explained the origin of my foundational organization philosophy in the The Underwear Principle. I’m going to “strip it down” into steps which can be applied in many situations, so it can be used as more than just an organizational tool.

The Underwear Principle, Step by Step:

Step 1:
Let it go. I have to pry my white knuckled fingers off of “MY Way.” I have to consider that “different” isn’t wrong and I can’t force anyone to follow my directions. At least not in the long run.

Step 2:
I have to accept whoever is contributing to the problem. Even if it’s ME. In my family, I know that they are not purposely trying to sabotage me (or make me bang my head on the nearest table in frustration). I try to stay focused on what’s really important. People and relationships. I’m making memories. I want them to be good ones, with no flashbacks of me looking like Cruella DeVille on a self-centered rampage.

Step 3:
I HAVE to pay attention. I HAVE to watch what happens naturally and figure out why. Is someone doing something a certain way because they are taking the path of least resistance? Is there an obstacle I don’t understand?

Step 4:
My favorite part. I gather information. I get to learn stuff. From any source. Books, the internet, magazines and periodicals, friends, family . . . I gather ideas with the mindset that I can figure out how to solve the problem. Some ideas I hate and immediately discard. I might take other ideas and twist or build on them a little to customize something for my situation. Some ideas might be great right from the start.

Step 5:
I implement changes based on what I learned and then watch to see how others react. I don’t change everything at once.

Step 6: Modify and Repeat. Circumstances change and I have to adapt. Application of The Underwear Principle is never a done deal. Some changes don’t work. Some changes make improvements, but don’t work completely. It requires modification over time.

The Underwear Principle can be applied in so many other situations. In the coming weeks and months, I’ll post some of my experiences applying it. See the original Underwear Principle post for links.

Do you have an “Underwear Principle” story? I’d love to hear it!