Getting My Shit Together

About a year ago (maybe it was even more than a year!) my friend posted on Facebook that he and his wife had gotten their shit together. They went to a lawyer and drafted wills, power of attorney, medical power of attorney, and living wills. They’d established guardians for their kids in the even that something tragic happened to both of them.

I felt awed. Here, I thought, was a grownup. Awareness of those documents passed in and out of my radar occasionally  but not until reading someone my age actually took care of this business did I begin to think seriously about getting my own shit together.

Actually, what I did was to put together a pitch to try to sell this idea to one of the magazines I worked with, thinking lots of people should get their shit together and maybe I could wrangle some work out of my process. Instead of taking care of my business, I spent a year hawking the story around.

Finally, I sold the story! Hurray! (It’s forthcoming in the August issue of Bustso get on out there and buy the August issue to read about those documents I mentioned)

Along the way, I read about Chanel Reynolds and her website: Get Your Shit Together. Here is a woman who suddenly lost her young, fit husband and didn’t have her shit together. She didn’t even have his email password. After dealing with probate court and insurance hell for three years, she put together a website with templates and instructions to help other people to get their shit together.

Woah! Amazing, right?

Corey and I moseyed along, starting to get our shit together. We checked out some books and software from the library, and racked up a lot of late fines after not touching them but also not remembering to return them. During April, I learned it was “free will month” or something and actually processed some documents on Rocket Lawyer.

That felt great–I had my shit gathered. But what was getting in my way was the official business of these documents: I needed a notary, I needed 3 witnesses for my will, and I needed to have all these people in one place at the same time while worrying about occupying my children. And, let’s face it since most of my friends have young kids, we’d need to worry about the schedules of ALL of our children.

What a nightmare! It made me just completely avoid the whole business of getting my shit together.

So, then, the week of my birthday, Corey got an email with the subject line “You WILL Come to Our Party.” One of our friends was hosting a Get Your Shit Together party. She got a notary to come to her house and invited friends with booze and potluck food. Everyone would be each other’s witnesses, the notary would stamp away, and people would drink and eat while waiting their turn for stamps and signatures.

Again, I was floored by the brilliance of this idea. This was exactly the sort of thing young families need in order to gather these documents. A will party. A Get Your Shit Together party.

I set about stealing her idea post haste. I threw a meetup online for my parents’ group, hired a mobile notary, sent around some document templates for Pennsylvania, and made sure Corey filled in his name properly on all the documents we had. Also, printing everything was more complicated than I originally thought. So we had to work on that.

Our notaries (Carmella brought her husband, Bob) were awesome and patient and really supportive of this idea. They are mobile notaries, and they’d never heard of a party like this. I guess usually they go to nursing homes and rush to people’s houses on the eve of potential weather disasters, that sort of thing.

At my house, they sat at the dining room table and stamped everything, passing our documents around to be witnessed. They even brought us pens, because these documents need to be signed in blue ink. Who has blue ink pens? Mobile notaries do.

At several points, I was sitting on the floor nursing a frantic Felix, and Bob just leaned over, handed me a document, and held it down for me to sign while I was nursing. He didn’t even miss a beat, as if it were totally normal to lean down and hand over a will for a woman to witness while nursing a squirming baby.

“Oh, I’ve seen it all,” he said. I believe it.

After it was all done, I felt such a burden had been lifted. We have plans in place should something awful happen. We have signed, witnessed, notarized documents. I felt so giddy, I prancercized around my dining room. Oh yes I did!

All that remains is for us to make copies and mail them to relevant people. That will probably take me another few months.

What about you? What are you waiting for? Get your shit together!

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 25th, 2013 at 2:31 pm and is filed under writing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


9 Responses to “Getting My Shit Together”

  1. Allison Says:

    Oh god. I feel guilty just reading this. Jen and I DO NOT have our shit together. We have talked about it for YEARS, but just haven’t done it. I’m going to set a deadline for us –August 31st. Now I just need to get started. (Where do we start?!)

  2. katy Says:

    Do you mean having your shit together in Canada or in the US? Honestly, Allison, in your circumstances I’d use a lawyer because you’re dealing with international citizenship and stuff, not to mention in the US you’d have unique (and unjust) legal challenges for your family! But to start, Suze Orman’s software was really helpful and walks you through everything. Our neighbors were telling me they found a lawyer who specialized in helping same-sex couples get their legal shit together.

  3. Rachel Says:

    Whoa! Mobile notary??? Never heard of such a thing…and it’s brilliant. Jay and I got our shit together years ago (after my dad died and it was a nightmare wading through his messy life), except for stuff like passwords. So, do you have them written down somewhere? In a firebox? (This is the part where you remind me gently to get a copy of your article!) Good work!!!

  4. Allison Says:

    We need our shit together in both countries. Probably it’s a little more important to get our Canadian shit together first. I think a big barrier for us right now is deciding who will take care of the kids should something happen to both of us. The couple we had chosen (family members) are having some serious issues right now, and I don’t think it’d be good for anyone for our kids to go to them anymore. I think if we figured out this piece we’d be less likely to put things off.

  5. Worth reading: Getting your sh*t together Says:

    […] Well, most of us don’t have it together, and this month, writer/mom Katy Rank Lev has an article in Bust magazine about the subject. Katy suggests having a “Get Your Shit Together” party as a way to peer pressure yourself into responsible adulthood.  Invite a notary and a bunch of friends. Truly brilliant, right? Read Katy’s blog post on her own site > […]

  6. Katy Rank Lev » Blog Archive » Still More Shit to Be Gotten Together Says:

    […] feel like I have something really meaningful to say, and I tell them about my article and about the mobile notary party we hosted. The response has been […]

  7. Liebster Blog Awards | The E is for Erin Says:

    […] I still hope to do when I grow up! And also by the way, I totally love her idea of having a mobile notary party to motivate yourself and your friends to get wills drawn up, which Mike and I still have not […]

  8. Katy Rank Lev » Blog Archive » Getting Other People to Get Their Shit Together Says:

    […] For the past year or so, I’ve been researching and writing about getting one’s shit together. Several things have happened in the past year that have made this mission seem ever more important and made me ever more grateful Corey and I finally got our own shit together last summer. […]

  9. Katy Rank Lev » Blog Archive » April Get Your Act Together Event! Says:

    […] For more detailed information about the legal documents we’ll be notarizing, click here. To learn more about my history with these events, click here. […]

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