Saturday, April 19, 2008

Confessions of a Hoarder

I am a hoarder. If you'd asked me a few weeks ago, I'd have said that I have hoarding tendencies. It's obvious that I have trouble with stuff. The tops of every flat surface in my home is full of stuff: stuff that has no home, broken or ripped stuff awaiting repair, stuff moved so that Annika can't reach it. My poor decorations are choking.

I come by my hoarding naturally. Along my maternal line, we are hoarders back at least 4 generations. As a little girl of maybe 8 I remember making the trek to Iowa to meet my great-grandma.

Nothing I recall seemed odd about the outside of the house. But when we opened the door we were greeted with stuff. Boxes, bins, furniture, clothes, papers and heaven only knows what else, was piled so high that I couldn't even see across the room. My grandma's voice called to us and we wound around the piles on a path to the sofa. There wasn't enough space for us to sit, so, at Grandma's orders, my parents carefully moved piles of stuff onto other piles of stuff so we could sit. I remember wondering how you could live like this. It was so sad. (For anybody who saw the Oprah show on hoarding, this was the level of problem for my grandma, or perhaps she was even worse.)

But each generation has improved on the one before. And since I'm not anywhere near as bad as Grandma, I would never have called myself a hoarder. Until I read, start to finish, Peter Walsh's book, "It's All Too Much."

There was a quiz at the start of the book that placed you in one of three categories, No Clutter, Clutter Victim or Hoarder. I fell into the later group.

What I learned in this book is that I don't need more boxes or bins or organizational systems. I need to get rid of stuff that doesn't enrich my life. I didn't even know I could do that. I mean like the gingerbread sponge holder that one of my grandmas gave me for Christmas several years ago. I've never used it and never loved it. I can throw it away. Can you believe that? In the garbage?

Our spring break project was to empty out The Room We Do Not Go Into. (My kids all know the room by this name. Kinda like "He Who Shall Not Be Named" in Harry Potter.) This room contained boxes that we never unpacked 6 years ago when we moved in, furniture that we'd long since stopped using and all excess toys. Whenever the family room would become over run with toys, Wendell would shove all the toys into all the boxes and bins we had, then stuff all the extras in the Room We Do Not Go Into. By the time we decided to rescue the room, we were about knee deep in crud.

The room is almost clear, only a few boxes of books and memorabilia remain. And I am inspired. I'm throwing away or DIing* stuff left and right. This is going to be great. In a few months I may have a party. Now that would be cool.

*Mormon 101: When Brigham Young and the Mormon Pioneers settled Utah, they wanted to name it Deseret which has a meaning about being industrious. They were denied, but any numbers of things were already carrying that name. Among them Deseret Industries or DI, as we call. It's a thrift store, run by the LDS church, and provides employment to handicapped people and those having trouble getting work. It's big and clean and nice and there are amazing finds there for not much money. Plus, there's no sales tax.


Jessica said...

I'm here via the blogapalooza blog list.

What a fun post to get introduced to you on! Love your honesty! You'll have to post pictures detaling your journey...

Jenna Wood said...

Yea, I thought about posting pics, naw! Nobody wants to see this kind of mess.

Unknown said...

I am not in any of those catergories becsue I throw everything away or send to the DI. If is sits in the same spot for more than a few days it is a goner. It is rather theraputic fo rme to throw thins out! maybe I have a problem in the other extreme. :)

Jenna Wood said...

I will trade you problems. :)

diane said...

Good post! I'm afraid to read that book, because I'm right there with you. I need to start tossing stuff!

Unknown said...

I LOVE THROWING THINGS AWAY! My hubby and son, however, hate it. I have to wait until they are not looking to dispose of their "junk." They have both been known to rescue things from the garbage or a DI bag. I am now better at hiding the crap I throw away. And once it's gone they NEVER miss it!

Jenna Wood said...

Diane, Read the book!!

It suddenly makes tossing stuff sound fun. And it is!

*Tanyetta* said...

I need help.

Did you see my closet I posted on D-Dawgs blog that one time?

Yeah......I am going to cry in the corner now ;)

Alisa said...

I am so proud of you! I think that is so good that you are able to realize it and take action. There are many people who still wouldn't be able to part. I hear a lot of this hoarding stuff about the people who lived during the depression. I am guessing it made those without a problem have one and those with a problem worse. Seriously the fact that you are working so hard and learning what you did in the book is chaning you is awesome.
I can't help but wonder now what I am. I think in the middle. I part with much and don't mind tossing. There is the tinge of guilt for things like the gingerbread sponge-- but I get over it pretty quick. My problem is with clothes. I usually have a reason to keep most of it. Also it is a lot of work to de-junk. For my clothes I have to try everything on first to see if there is any reason to keep it. I need something for different weight flucuations etc.-- sad that we plan for that, but it can be helpful!

Jenna Wood said...

I just did a shirt intervention with Wendell. He had, not counting sweatshirts, jackets, clothes in the laundry waiting to be washed or clean clothes that hadn't been folded or clothes waiting for the dry cleaners...96 shirts.

I kid you not. 96 Shirts!!

I put them all out on the couch and he gave away 35 just like that. I have since found 7 more shirts so he still has probably over 70 shirts.

zippy said...

Ooo, sounds like a book I need to read and then pass on to my mother and sister!! I like that you pointed out how each generation improves on the one before it...I've come a lo-ong way from home and have much farther to travel on the path to an uncluttered life, but it's been good! In fact, I'm not anywhere near where my mom and sister are which is probably why I feel so claustraphobic when I go home to visit...sad really!

Way to go on the progress thus far! I'm glad you're feeling the theraputic effects of your efforts. : ) Spring time is always such a great time of cleansing and renewal...sounds like your spirit is enjoying this new path! : )