Once upon a time, there was a woman who loved to learn about new stuff. She loved many things, actually – learning, people, trees, dogs, music, Halloween (well, except for candy corn 🤢), and putting things in order, to name a few. Because that last part, Order, was such a big part of her comfort zone, it became more prominent in her life than most other things people noticed about her. And because she felt very much at home teaching and helping all those lovable people, she allowed Order to take over and be the “thing” that defined her for a time.

Many of the people she enjoyed helping were all over this particular thing – like pesto on spaghetti. They were of a tribe that wandered the Earth seeking organization, even as it often remained mysterious and out of reach. This tribe had other outstanding attributes – creativity, heart, spontaneity, persistence, ingenuity – though they usually didn’t take time to acknowledge these soul-level gifts. And so she listened to them and did her best to encourage them in their Life Order journeys, so that the gifts might rise to the surface and support all kinds of nifty pursuits.

But these old ways of working, teaching, and helping began to feel incomplete. The woman recognized that other things in her life were worth digging deeper into, and she became curious about why all the things couldn’t be or shouldn’t be… [cue that annoying needle-scratching-vinyl sound]…

This tale is going to have to be a two-parter, dear readers. Some background is required.

Wholeness is not achieved by cutting off a portion of one’s being, but by integration of the contraries.” – Carl Jung

These past several months, it’s been a challenge to put together language for how my spiritual work fits into how I coach and share life order ideas with folks. If I had to pick a superhero to be, my kids know I’d choose Word Girl (a somewhat obscure character on PBS – any other fans out there?). Words are important to me because, used thoughtfully, they are an external link to inner clarity. Words are symbols of what’s rattling around inside our heads, after all. Symbols bring what is ineffable into clearer expression.

So anyway, it’s been a fun puzzle to find language lately, and explain to people what my spiritual direction education has to do with being an ADHD coach or a professional organizer. Then again, a few people have gotten it without any explanation at all. Maybe I’m projecting a bit – maybe I haven’t known what it has to do with those things, even as I intuitively know it all makes sense together. You know, “holistic life order,” and “stuff behind the stuff,” and all that jazz? I’ve always said that organization and time management don’t exist in silos, separate from who we are, what we choose to do, and what we care most about.

Maybe too, the problem comes with the labels “professional,” “organizer,” or even “ADHD.” The words are fine, but come with certain preconceived notions and biases. “Coach” may come closer to what feels authentic. It still doesn’t totally encompass what I hope to start bringing forward.

I have some ideas about how to help people live more organized lives, yes. Those ideas have resonated pretty well for a while (11 years now 😮).

I have ideas about how my clients with ADHD and/or other neurodiversity can manage more comfortably and skillfully in a world that doesn’t honor their wiring. Ideas, and ways of listening so that they come into their own comfort and skill. I think that’s been working decently well, too.

I’m not perfect, of course. And I’m not everyone’s coach or organizer.

But now I have ideas about how connecting people to what Carl Jung described as “inner work” can lead to a deeper grasp of Life Order. Connecting with and relating to the spiritual (not the religious, mind you; that’s something different) allows us to transcend brain wiring and the labels. I suspect it helps us to trust ourselves more, and I want to test that theory.

No worries – I still like to talk about clearing and organizing physical spaces – and I love, love, love hearing about what my clients do with their own. Give me a cluttered drawer or closet any day, turn me loose with the label maker, and look at me go.

I still enjoy working with time, schedules, calendars, lists, and daily rhythms. I’ll teach other coaches a class on that exact topic here in a few weeks, and I’m super excited to see what emerges.

I will always work with clients with ADHD. At least, for as long as they’ll put up with me.

But underneath all of that stuff is us—whole humans. We are not our bins, baskets, planners, apps, or timers – we’re spiritual beings traveling around in our Earth suits. And if we can tap into who we are, as opposed to what the world expects or attempts to force us to be, how much easier might it be to do “all the things”?

I’m going to assume that some out there are thinking (eyebrow raised), “Why mess with what’s working, girl? Why would you want to change anything?” The response would be that I can’t not change. Maybe I’m not even changing all that much, but rather being more overt about what’s always been true. Besides, clients come to me looking for change. Why should they get to have all the fun?

Stay tuned for Part 2, in which I attempt to finish a fairy tale with a clear ending, make some distinctions about what spiritual work is and isn’t, and share more about what’s coming up with SkillSet.

Editors Note:  Sara Skillen will be a guest on the upcoming Unconditionally Her podcast coming in October 2023.