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The One To Zen Organizing Blog

Breathe in Calm, Breathe out Clutter

  • Writer's pictureJill Katz

From Clutter to Compassion: A Neurodivergent Organizer's Journey of Self Discovery

Woman in glasses, from the side looking at a brain she is holding in her hand and thinking

I initially became an organizer because I  enjoyed problem solving for clients with brain-differences. As a research loving Mom to a neurodivergent child, it just made sense. However, my life took a sharp turn which led me to reevaluate the “Why”. I will explain.

The History

When you read the “About Me” summary from a professional organizing website, you will often see something like this:

“My name is Charlotte Organized and since the age of 3, I have had a passion for all things organizing.” 

My history is the complete opposite. Since the age of 3, I have struggled with disorganization. I was a messy child, a teenager that struggled to focus on her homework, and a young adult who developed anxiety about showing up late to just about anything. 

In high school, my Mom helped me create a detailed schedule to study for the 9 finals in my dual curriculum Hebrew Prep School. In College, I drew a visual color coded schedule of my college classes and internships so I could see the blank spaces of my free time and make plans. As a young adult, I created routines for myself, slowly experimenting throughout the years to see what worked and what didn’t. I earned a degree in Marketing and got a job that I loved. I got married and then I became a Mom of a child with learning differences.

“Momhood” And A Path To Organizing

Adult hands cupping tiny baby feet

What’s it like to become the mother to a neurodivergent child? It’s humbling, it’s challenging, it breaks you down and you rebuild. I read up on all the literature and learned words like “Executive Functioning”, “Comorbidity” and “Sensory Processing”.

I left my job and became a SAHM (stay at home mom) using my new acronym in special needs support groups (Hi, I am a SAHM of a daughter with these issues…). Every day a new Early Intervention specialist came - a physical therapist, an occupational therapist or a speech therapist and I had a binder to keep track of all their notes and suggestions. Slowly, many of the Moms from the playgroup cohort disappeared. They couldn’t relate to my experience and I couldn’t bear to hear how they reached yet another milestone with their neurotypical child. It all felt very isolating.

Time passed and I had another child. I enjoyed being a Mom of two but I itched to get back to work. A friend of mine became an organizer and she hired me to assist her for various jobs. And I noticed the neurodivergent clients. When you have a kid with differences and have read so much literature surrounding the subject, you end up with a knack for noticing others with differences. And I wondered about them. I mean, I helped to support my child with her schoolwork and other responsibilities, but who helped neurodivergent adults with their own children and other vast responsibilities?

Thus, One to Zen Organizing was born and I started to focus on clients who needed and deserved compassionate out-of-the-box organizing support.

But the story doesn’t end there…

Full Circle: The Journey of Self Discovery & Neurodiversity

Person walking in a labyrinth made of sand on the beach

When I started my organizing business, my goal was to help adult clients by expanding on what I had learned with my neurodivergent daughter. What I didn’t expect was to discover that I was neurodivergent. There wasn’t any one moment of discovery. The realization happened slowly over time as it dawned on me that I had experienced many of my client’s struggles. It’s amazing to me that it took so long to reach this understanding! 

The discovery cast a new light on how I viewed my life. I tried to explain to my confused family what I was experiencing even though they didn’t view me as any different than I was the day before. I worked through the shame I had endured knowing deep down of my differences. I worked through understanding the masking I exhibited to try to fit in. I considered when being hard on myself was helpful and when I should be doling out more self compassion. Overall, I started to notice my differences in real time and worked at accepting them. In summary, it was a rollercoaster of emotions and I am still processing what this means for me.

In Conclusion

How do I explain that this new discovery changes everything? I can practice self compassion and mindfully apply the same executive functioning strategies that I teach to others on myself. I can relate to my clients on a new level and truly understand the frustration of not being able to apply traditional organizing strategies. I can revel in looking back at my successes in overcoming many of my challenges with creativity and perseverance. And I can confidently encourage my clients to abandon perfection and let them know “You can do this.”

For those of you who have had a journey of self-discovery, what did you learn? How did it change your life? I would love to hear about it in the comments.

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