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Everything King: Heartstrings and hoarding

No, I'm not a hoarder, but letting go isn't easy
hoarding messy junk stock

It is like a spring cleaning of the heart!

I am not a hoarder!  I am not!  I know this because I have watched dozens of Hoarders marathons on TV and I have never had to climb a mountain of junk to get into my bed (stepping over is quite different) nor have I actually lost my cat in the clutter.

However, I do have an issue with letting go.

I have begun the purging of numerous rubber totes teeming with newspaper clippings, old greeting cards, letters, pictures and artwork.  It usually starts out with going though every little thing to see if I can actually part with it or not.  I understand this is important.  Allowing the alleged hoarder to touch and inspect each item gives them a feeling of control.

Here is where you are going to get bogged down. You will find the need to read each item which is going to slow you down to a sloth- like speed.  The pictures will trigger a memory which will require a cup of tea (or possibly a stiff drink) while you relive the moment.  That will lead you to take a picture of the picture to share on Facebook and then it’s a whole afternoon gone.

I keep telling myself no one cares about this stuff and nobody will want to move it when you croak. Still the yearbooks, the badges, the newspaper write ups — it is all part of a personal history.  Hard to let that go. (Harder, I assume, if you have children.) It is like throwing away a part of your life.

If I have no proof of the accomplishment, did it happen?

I was reading recently how millennials do not want their parents old junk — not their furniture or dishes or paintings or books.  That seems sad to me but then again I am someone who is still bringing pieces of wallpaper, bricks, rocks and sticks from the family homestead.  I cherish all that stuff — more as I get older. Still, I can understand young people having different tastes and lifestyles.

Organizing experts all report that you must honour your possessions.  

If that photo or vase or ticket stub means so much to you, it should be showcased prominently where you can enjoy it daily.  Frame it, put a light on it, use it!   How many place settings of “good” wedding china is still packed away?  One thing I always remembered from clutter expert Peter Walsh was him saying 'How important is it if it is crammed in a cardboard box under your bed for years on end? That is not honouring your history.' 

It is so true.

The other thing I did take to heart that Walsh says in his book Does This Clutter Make my Butt Look Big — was that the amount of material you hold onto because it belonged to someone you loved and lost — doesn’t have anything to do with how much you loved them or how much you mourn them.  I get that intellectually but those are some strong heartstrings.

“If I throw out that Easter card from my parents from 1989, does it make me a horrible daughter?”  “Will it mean I didn’t love them or am forgetting them?”

Of course not and yet I wrestle with it and usually end up just moving things from Box A to Box B and setting it aside for another day.

Here’s a list of what keeps me stuck.  Do any of these sound familiar?

  1. There’s nothing wrong with any of these clothes (Except I haven’t wore them in 15 years and shoulder pads ain’t coming back).
  2. As soon as I throw it out, I’m gonna need it (The chances of me ever finding “it” when I need “it” is slim to none).
  3. I want to check and see if any of my friends want them (Rather than being generous, this is more likely a stall tactic to hold onto it a while longer).
  4. It might be worth some money someday (Doubtful).
  5. I don’t like to be wasteful (But now you are wasting space, time and energy moving it around).

Sometimes, I envy people who have no real attachments to possessions. It must be very freeing!  Those homes that are all feng shui’d to the max with literally one item on the coffee table look so clean.  To be honest, though, they leave me cold emotionally.  No heart!

It was suggested to me once that I couldn’t possibly care about all the possessions on display.  I went from item to item and described where I got it, when, how much it cost, the circumstances surrounding the purchase and how it makes me feel.  I know it may seem like clutter to some but I honestly do appreciate it all and it gives me cozy comfort.

Like most everyone, I guess, I am a work in progress.  I am trying to live with less.

It would be nice not to stub my toes over the furniture and have some open space.

My search is to find what has true meaning and what is meaningless.

Meanwhile, does anybody need about 125 coffee mugs???? Free to a good home.

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About the Author: Wendy King

Wendy King writes about all kinds of things from nutrition to the job search from cats to clowns — anything and everything — from the ridiculous to the sublime. Watch for Wendy's column weekly.
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