Thank you everyone for making the first month of my book, Creative Women’s Devotional, so successful! And don’t forget, it makes a thoughtful gift 😀 .

I wrote 50,000 words in November as part of NaNoWriMo. My husband, Logan, also completed his novel that is a post-apocolyptic story set here in Mid-Missouri. Such fun to be a writing couple! Every evening you could only hear the sound of our keyboards: click click clicking away. Now we get to relax and enjoy the holidays.

Below is a speech I gave this week in my Downtown Toastmasters club. I thought you might enjoy it too. Blessings to all—keep shining bright despite the long nights!

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I collect home organizing books. I have more than a dozen. I read them, highlight the important parts and add notes in the margin. With all these organization books, you can imagine how my house looks. I’ll tell you.

It’s cluttered! It’s cluttered because of all these home organizing books.

 

If I had an organized house, I wouldn’t buy these books. But I have hope. Even though I have been a clutter bug my whole life.

When I was growing up, my room was full of books, papers, plastic horses, clothes and an electric typewriter. Once a year, I cleaned my room. It was painful to clean it. I took the piles of papers and books and stuffed them in the closet. I shoved them under the bed. I wrangled my belongings into a temporary state of behaving. When I was finished, after a day of work and tears, I needed to document the occasion. I took a photo of the floor after it was done to prove the rest of the year that my room did have a floor.

I didn’t learn ordinary organizing skills growing up. Add my over-attachment to things with a shred of sentimental value plus my difficulty making a simple decision, and I end up with a wide array of “collections.”

 

I have confessed my yarn obsession in this Toastmasters meeting before. But you might not know I collect crochet and knitting patterns. From the 1970s. Yes, I could use the web to find a pattern online that would take no physical space. Or I could scour thrift shops for paper copies of 1970s patterns.

Clearly you can see the best choice.

I have an entire bookshelf full of the books and patterns. Sunday night I took a pile of them in my lap. The 1970s was a time of unrest. There were economic pressures and political conflict.  There were protests on campuses and racial tensions. Veterans came back from a war and weren’t given the support they needed to reintegrate into society.

IMG_20151204_090545I look at these old crochet patterns and the people in them. I wonder what happened to the baby wearing the crochet hat in the photo. Did he get married? Did he get divorced? He would be about my age now. Is he happy with how his life turned out? Is he at peace?

I also collect a special kind of book. I buy them blank and fill them with words. I have more than 200 journals I have written in since I was 7 years old. I have them by the stacks, in the closet, on the bookshelves, about to topple over on me. I can’t stop the words flowing out of my hands. I hold the journals open to catch them.

 

I recently read an article about Richard Scarry and how he changed his book from the 1960s to the 1990s version. I have the 1960s version here from my childhood.

The newer version shows a more progressive attitude toward gender roles and race. The 1973 version of “firemen” shows a “beautiful screaming lady”. The 1993 version of “firefighters” shows a “cat in danger” (see the comparison).

Words are important: the words we use and the words we learn. Language can and should change.

I appreciated learning about how he changed his book. I love the original. I love that he made changes to better reflect who we became.

If he were alive today, I believe he would make even more changes.

 

I have many books—books on organizing and books from the 70s. I have many thoughts, many words and many feelings. I read the suggestions on how to tuck them away so it all looks neat.

But I haven’t been able to do it yet.

I confess, I still feel messy!

But I will keep trying. I’m willing to change. I have hope and I have faith.

The good news? If you were to come to my house right this minute, you could see my floor!

 

http://genevievehoward.com

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