On acceptance of hardships, doing what you love, and living an organized life.
We are so excited to introduce Erin Barbee to our community. The mother of a child with special needs, business owner and fellow Inspiration Lab member, Erin owns Plan B Organizing, a professional organizing and productivity company that provides both households and businesses with customized solutions to be more organized & efficient. With a business partner last fall, she launched Turn Key Lifestyle, a lifestyle management company that handles just about anything you can imagine to have a happier, fuller life.
Erin moved to Wilmington from Montana in the summer of 2015 with her daughter Wren, then 5, into an adorable ranch home she had never seen in person. Thanks to friends and family, and the power of Facetime, she toured the house and said yes to a new chapter. Erin was not new to major moves like this. Growing up as a military child meant moving had been a theme in her life. She had also experienced two major moves before this one, both for relationships with extremely difficult, unexpected endings. But this time was different. This time she was taking the reigns of her life and intentionally changing the course of her daughter’s future, for the better. We are inspired by Erin’s honesty and heart and know you will appreciate getting to know her story.
Tell us about life in Montana, and making the move to Wilmington:
My move from Montana was a very difficult & complex decision to make. I moved to Whitefish, Montana in 2005 after the death of my husband. I was 34, he was 44, much too young to experience the death process. No one should ever have to read brochures on what being a widow means, especially when you're in your 30's. I really picked up my life way too soon and moved to Montana. It was painful to stay in Mississippi where I had moved to be with my husband. I traveled a bit visiting friends & family, but coming back to our house hurt every time I opened the door. I was sad to leave our large family network, but I knew I had to go. I ended up falling in love with Wren's father (who lived in Montana & was a friend of my husband), we got engaged & planned to have a baby. Wren was very well planned since we had to go through IVF out of state to have her. I had planned on living in Whitefish long enough to raise her and her 3 older siblings from his first marriage.
What pushed you to make the move?
Sadly Wren's father stopped being a part of her life once she turned 3. I knew she needed a family around her that would love & support her. Wren was receiving new, complicated diagnoses and I knew she would have access to so many more resources in North Carolina than she could have ever gotten in Montana.
I finally realized that I needed to move for myself and my child. My days of moving for a relationship were officially over. As terrifying as all this was, it was SO empowering.
What is Wren’s daily life like?
She is in school full time as a second grader at a local elementary school. She receives ABA therapy 15 hours a week, in addition to all of her other therapies. She does remarkably well to carry the load that she does! She loves equine therapy and she just started riding the bus home from school by herself. (yay Wren!)
Your plate is so full as a business owner and mom of a child with special needs, how do you make your life more manageable?
Schedule like crazy and breathe! It's the only way I can keep up with it all.
What is the most meaningful thing your life right now?
It's 2 things actually...my child and healthy relationships.
Being the sole parent of a child with multiple disabilities means that I am 100% responsible for my daughter today and tomorrow. My love for her is what drives me to make myself a better person, to work harder for us as a family, and to be able to provide her with a secure future. I have had to accept many difficult things in my life, some much easier than others. One of the hardest moments in time for me was the realization that my child will likely never be able to live independently.
Truly accepting that allowed me to make a major shift to push past fear and heartache, and begin a new business that will provide that safe future for her.
And two, my relationships. We are not here to be by ourselves. It does, however, matter who you choose to spend your days with. I made a serious decision some time ago that I would only surround myself with positive, authentic people. A wonderful network of friends and family members has been such an incredible blessing to me. I really could not make it through without all of their love, support and laughter (especially my Whine+Wine Mom’s Group, you know who you are).
What makes your eyes light up?
Wren, even more so when she's beyond joyful.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Be kind and true to yourself, get the right cabinet members on your team and get ready to silver line the you-know-what out of what's ahead of you!
Unplug and take a nature break! I make being outside every morning a priority, even when the wind is blowing and it's cold. I also ditch my phone to truly appreciate what nature gives us. How can you see the beauty in a cloud or a tree if you are checking messages? Seriously people, take a break.
What is your favorite simple pleasure?
A hammock at the beach.
Tell us about your work. What are your favorite parts about what you do?
My clients are my favorite part of my work. It probably sounds so cliche', but it's true. I love working with them to find ways to make their lives more productive, efficient and enjoyable. It takes a lot of trust and vulnerability on their part to be open to make changes.
Being a Professional Organizer and Productivity Consultant is so much more than just color coding a closet. I always learn something from each of my clients because it's such a relationship building process. Last fall with the launch of my Lifestyle Management company that I share with a partner, I was able to bridge a gap and offer more services.
What woman do you most admire:
I have to say that I am blown away from every woman in the #metoo movement. It took millions of brave voices to come together to be heard. This is a long overdue sea change for our country. I really hope it can radiate across this planet to every single country.
Thank you Erin...for opening your beautiful home up to us and sharing your story.
Do you know a woman who has overcome obstacles and shined through adversity? We would love to know them, too. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org