Never a dull moment to be had!

Feb 8, 2023 | Ryan's Blog


What a week it was last week.  

Ice-pocalypse 2023. Most of Austin lost power for 3-6 days, depending on where you were. The trees were decimated. It looked like there was a tornado that only affected the trees. Poor trees.

Unlike Snow-pocalypse 2021, this was much shorter in duration and intensity, meaning the temps were only in the 29-32 degree range for 3 or so days.  

But still. Wow. It’s going to take some time to get back to feeling normal. The streets are lined with 8-feet high piles of branches waiting for the over-taxed city services to come collect them.

I was super lucky: I had already planned a trip to visit my family in NC and SOMEHOW I was able to get a flight out at 3p on Wednesday. It seemed touch and go; I’ve never been in such an empty airport. And the “departures” screen had more RED “CANCELLED” flights than “on time” listed.

But I made it out.

And it was such a lovely visit!! (Not JUST because they had power LOL!)

Any time I get to spend with the woman who raised me from a 6-week old is golden time and I treasure it!

Helen Leary, almost 88, is a goddess. She’s absolutely BRILLIANT. She’s my hero.

A smoker for much of her life, she suffered a stroke in 2004 that took most of the use of her left arm (cruel twist that she’s a lefty), but the blessing was that it left her personality intact! (And never touching cigarettes again!) Grateful beyond words for that gift, we are! 

She is extremely independent and functions at a high level in spite of her physical limitations, including being extremely hard of hearing (she reads lips like a pro). And, for the majority of the time, she has a phenomenal attitude!! That’s her superpower for sure.

When I was a child, she sewed all our clothing and window treatments, embroidered, knitted, painted, all those creative things! I learned to sew and knit from her. Sadly, when my parents divorced, she had to forgo all those “non-paying” activities for gainful employment. 

A woman ahead of her time, she took her love of history and mystery and dove head first into the world of genealogy and started taking on clients. She was so good that she could barely keep up with the demand of people wanting to know their heritage, mostly so they could be accepted into certain groups like the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and the like. Not long after hanging her shingle, she started rising in the ranks of the National Genealogical Association and the speaking circuit. She has more letters after her name and plaques on her office wall than most doctors do!

Now that she’s wound down her illustrious, decades-long career, she is sitting on a huge body of work that is a real legacy for the world of genealogy. She wrote books and a gazillion articles, gave speeches on all topics both for her fellow researchers and the DIY home types who discovered and got hooked. She has LOADS of our family’s historical documents on aged, brown papers that only she can decipher.

It’s a LOT.

She lets me force my organizing energy on her and help her declutter and optimize to make things work better for her.

We dove into some really dusty stacks while I was there last week. And while I wanted to keep up the pace and trash as much as possible (in order to reveal the gems!), the pace was determined by her going down memory lane over each file, recalling the relationship with her clients, some good, some really BAD (AKA they refused to pay!). 

My main takeaway from that process was the joy and love she has for the “hunt” of finding people’s ancestors. Intrigue over discovering what “really” happened…often disproving the original findings! (And many people would refuse to accept the truth because they didn’t like it!!)

We have a big job still. Curating some golden nuggets from her extensive career. It’s very important. We can’t do it without her, so we will make time. We will honor her legacy and contribution to the lively world of genealogy.

It’s one of the things I love most about being an organizer: when my clients get to re-live and re-visit touchpoints from the past.

So what paper are YOU sitting on? Or what paper projects are giving you major energy leaks? Is tax time breathing down on you hard??

Come join us at Paperpalooza/Binderpalooza and make some progress!!! Mark your calendars for the last Thursday of the month 7:30-11a CST. You deserve this; and working alongside others will propel you like rocket fuel!!

And PS by some beautiful miracle, my mom has figured out how to KNIT AGAIN!!! Christmas presents: done!! I told you she was a goddess…

In case you missed it…

The Goal-Grounding Workshop was amazing!!! So many lines were drawn in the virtual sand, so many goals GROUNDED and made actionable!!! 

You still can. I encourage you to write the following equation down and work on it in some quiet time:

“Because I want to do or be (fill in with a goal), I will take these actions (describe here) over the next (fill in period of time).”

I bet you will ground some goals quickly! Please share in the friendly and positive place we call the CALM Collaborative!!

Back to Just Log In this week so come join the fun! Register to be live on Zoom with us and/or watch it live in the Facebook Group. Please request to join if you aren’t already in there! As always, the replay will be available in the CALM Collaborative FB Group


Ryan 🙂


My name is Ryan…

I love teaching people how to let go of the crazy and live a less stressful life. My book The CALM Method: A Guide to Ditch Last-Minute Living is full of guidance and tips for you, but the real magic is in our community. The Find FOCUS Membership is a great place to get more done alongside your peeps!!!

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