Hoarding...

Jun. 6th, 2017 09:27 am
labelleizzy: (dealing with demons)
My sister in law suffers from something I still fight against, which is hoarding.

She said, "I sort and organize but the actual removal of stuff... is so hard to get my mind around why I have such attachments."

I said, "I can only speak of myself but I had attachments because I had fear. Fear of forgetting, so I kept all the papers commemorating things I went to, movies and shows and concerts I saw. I kept all the birthday cards, even from my childhood, and people I didn't remember anymore, because at one point, someone made the effort to give me a card, and that was meaningful to me then."

I didn't feel loved. I didn't feel safe or secure. I came to an early conclusion (younger than 10) that "stuff was supposed to make you happy" because that's what they said all the time on TV? And back then I thought they weren't allowed to lie to us on TV.

It took me a long time to realize that what I was and what I wanted, was different than what the TV or my family or stories or magazines wanted me to be and want. And to put aside those messages that weren't ME.

I was well past 30, not gonna lie.

I started by reading more about how other people had gotten organized, had purged their clutter.
Clutter's Last Stand.
The Flylady's mailing list and website.
SARK'S concept of "micromovements" to get started.
Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui.

And I realized that thoughts and feelings and attitudes were clutter too, frequently. (*)

Is it useful? Do I love it?

William Morris, the English designer, said, "have nothing in your home which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."

I try to live by that one.

I don't yell at myself or best myself up anymore. My self chastisement is gentle, infrequent, and frequently full of humor. Blaming myself for the past, or for my mistakes, was a toxic cycle that helped NOTHING. Just bogged me down in misery.

I didn't want to be miserable. I started making different choices.

What I wanted was for things to be simpler, and to be happier. So I worked on those things, like I work on a rosebush. If something's dead, you cut it off. If the branches are too crowded, or the flowers are, you make choices to maximize beauty, health, and growth, and you cut away the rest and discard it.

But sometimes the rosebush isn't flourishing, and it doesn't need to be cut back, cut down. Parts of our life can be like that too. There's a lot of times where there's not ENOUGH to bloom. Not enough water, or sunlight, or fertilizer.

Sometimes you can nurse a rosebush back to health, if you can figure out what is wrong.

Sometimes you can't figure it out, and the bush dies. And then you have to discard it and start over.

But honestly? Sometimes you don't even WANT a 🌹 (rose). Sometimes you don't even know that you didn't want a rose, maybe you wanted a 🌷(tulip) or a daisy. Or an oak tree! Or a tomato bush!

But if you started with a rosebush, or your whole family takes care of roses, maybe you didn't know you could choose something different.

I'm just saying. It's YOUR garden. Nobody else's. You spend all your time in it. You spend your LIFE in it.

It should be, it IS, your choice what you cultivate, what you grow, what you discard or compost.

I know nobody gets to choose how they spend 100% of their time. But that doesn't mean you don't have choices.

You do.

Now I'm going to go do some household chores.
Gonna go weed my "garden". :)

(*) Slightly different techniques are required to ditch/purge/prune ugly, dead, or impedimentary thoughts and feelings.
labelleizzy: (how to eat an elephant)
I'm writing today because this subject is Relevant To My Interests at the moment. My house is cluttered and I need to put stuff away, throw stuff away, fold stuff up... Yeah. STUFF.

I'm sure most of us have heard the acronym KISS: it usually stands for Keep It Simple, Sweetie (if we are being kind to ourselves, which is something I DO strive to do)...

This is a good starting point for clutter clearing and house clearing. Keeping It Simple will look different to each one of us. It might mean making our bed every morning so we have one flat clear surface in our house to sit on. It might mean remember to recycle your food scraps out to the compost bin, because you want to keep food out of the landfills when it makes perfectly good dirt, if left alone long enough. =) It might mean OMG I HAVE TO CLEAR OFF MY DESK BECAUSE I CAN'T FIND THE BILLS!

Keep It Simple, to me, means build between one and three good habits at one time, no more than that. And don't kill yourself with guilt if you make a mistake, forget, or otherwise fuck up. Seriously. More good habits go down the toilet because we (the collective We of Puritannically-Inspired America or Western Civilization generally) kick ourselves so violently, and even quit trying when we make a mistake or fail to keep up with a particular habit, or else we spend time in self-castigation or self-loathing at our "inability" to Do Whatever It Is, Perfectly...

Especially if the Habit is a Should. (and THAT is another post, it deserves a detailed examination)

How do we teach children new skills? we encourage them to make mistakes and try again (unless we've got our ego involved in our kids being PERFECT, which I feel "should" be another dirty word, tbh...) How did I practice cross-country-skiing this weekend? I tried, failed, fell down, had to get help getting back up because I couldn't figure it out for myself.

We need to be forgiving of ourselves when we try something new. Be kind, and allow for errors, inconsistencies, and mistakes.

In service of that, let me offer another meaning for the acronym KISS, one that I find very useful in building my clutter-clearing habits:
Keep it Small and Significant.

To explain: OK y'all, I'm Pagan. *waves hello* I find it easier to do household tasks if I assign value or meaning to them beyond the "this has to get done" rationale. What I choose to do is to think of those tasks as service to something larger than myself. I sometimes dedicate tasks to the marriage (i.e. washing the dirty sheets or clearing off the bedroom bureau, which is what I did yesterday) or to my Patron Deity, Hestia (i.e. that's almost the only way you'll get me to wash the floors without someone else helping in the task.)

Keep it Small and Significant. Yesterday I cleared unnecessary things off the bureau, and selected a fresh tablecloth in springtime colors (Hey, I can anticipate!). Today I plan to take *everything* off the bureau, wipe down the surfaces and clean the dust off the candle and candle-plate, and re-make the bedroom "altar". Though, it's not really an altar, it's more like a meditation space.

returning to comment on clutter clearing: Over the weekend I went to visit family, and picked up a big mirror that used to be my grandmother's, and also a bag of smaller items that used to be hers. I know that my spouse doesn't really approve of me bringing more STUFF into the house, but I did it anyway. I have emotional clutter around her, my mom's mom, Inez. I feel the need to spend some time meditating on her and her life, and what she meant to me and to my mom, and by incorporating some of her former possessions into the new iteration of the meditation space, I hope to facilitate that work. This is SIGNIFICANT To Me. Which means that even taking more Things into my house? I'm okay with that, since the Things have a definite purpose.

So. Small and Significant. When my bedroom surfaces (and floor) are clear, I think better. Hell, when ALL my surfaces are clear I think MUCH better. But today I'm only going to hold myself accountable for the bedroom. Anything else I get done is gravy. (though I am fairly strongly motivated to clear off at least the kitchen table) (and that's what SMALL looks like to me.)

Small to me, means doable in a single session, usually between 15 minutes and an hour.
Significant can mean any of a number of things:
It will make Jeff happy. It will make me happy. I will enjoy looking at it. I will use the space if it is a) cleared, b) cleaned, c) empty, etc. We have friends coming over, and I want to be proud of my living space. We're coming up on a festival celebration and I want the whole house clean in honor of the festival.

You get the picture! Just remember: both Small and Significant will look different in how they want to manifest in YOUR life (as opposed to in MY life).

So this is my advice to you: Keep it Simple, Sweetie, and Keep it Small And Significant.

Next Post will be about Not Shoulding All Over Yourself.

ciao!
labelleizzy: (brain dump)
*grin*
I've been studying this for *years*, no lying. I knew I grew up in a house of clutterholics, I knew it was uncomfortable and didn't feel healthy, but for most of my growing up years I had no idea how to get out of the collecting, and, let's be honest, packrat habits.

Here's the first principle, in my opinion the most important principle involved in getting over "hoarding" behaviors. YMMV, of course.

1) Hoarding is never about the *stuff*, not really. It's about your feelings.

In my family, we held on to a lot of stuff we didn't need. I've come to realize there was a real fear of lack involved. Grandma and Grandpa on mom's side both lived through the Depression, and came out with a "save everything, it might be needed someday" attitude.

*narrowed eyes*
This led to junk drawers of all kinds throughout the house, filled with random screws, rubber bands, office supplies (broken and whole), kid's toys, eyeglasses someone had outgrown, small lengths of thread or yarn, twistie ties, and, well, I'm sure you are mostly award of this trend and how it's manifested in spaces you are familiar with. Linen closets with lots of ratty old towels, taking up the space for the good towels. Clothes in the closet that haven't fit for *years* or are a style you'll never wear again but were "too good to give away". Broken tools in the workbench drawers because "someday we'll get that fixed".

Useless JUNK.

I came out of that house and clung to all my STUFF. I conflated my STUFF with my memories, with my feelings, with how people would think of me, with how I saw /myself/. And it was paralyzing.

Too much STUFF! Almost all with mental and emotional associations of scarcity, lack, worry, fear, and not-feeling-good-enough.

And I KNEW that I had too much stuff, and I knew it was helping me hold onto all these unproductive feelings and ideas, but the overwhelm and paralysis meant that it was a lot easier to shuffle stuff around in order to find the useful stuff, than it was to GET RID OF the stuff that was useless.

I'm not sure of exactly my tipping point.
I know I had one, or several; points of OMG WTH have I been doing with my life?!?!

One:
When living with my exspouse, I determined to go through one of the many boxes-o-junk we'd stashed in the "storage room" off the landing to the stairs in the condo we were living in. It was full of mostly papers, mostly five to ten years old, many envelopes unopened.

I was ashamed.
I went in anyway, with a bag for recycling and a letter opener.

And in that box were bills addressed to my college address. Five+ years old, never opened. *toss* *wince*
And in that box were papers that had no meaning to my current life. *toss* "Why have I been KEEPING these?"
...
And in that box was an envelope from the university, and a date-stamp for around when I graduated.
(no, it wasn't anything cool, it was embarrassing.)
I open the envelope, and it's the information on where when and how to return my graduation cap and gown.

So. Much. Headdesk. Something like 7 years later.
I think that I was sometimes too scared to open the bills when I was in college, because I didn't have money to pay them, and in my house you just didn't talk about money. or bills. or owing people money. or ask your parents for money you knew they didn't have, to help you out.

So I guess I learned to stick my head in the sand about things that scared me that way.

And it took a rare bit of courage, initially, to dig in to all that STUFF and to face all of those old, fermented feelings, let them out, let them crumble to dust or evaporate into the air.

Yes, sometimes I did get hit with the big feelings, letters from loved ones, job evaluations (good or bad), or reminders of things I had promised to do and hadn't actually done. Disappointments, old pains, frustration with myself and with others.

But mostly, for me, (eventually) the satisfaction of clearing out the dreck and the useless overcame the Other Feelings that were triggered BY the dreck and the useless.

And sometimes you'd find treasures in the dragon's hoard. That helped make it worth it.

Your STUFF is not the same as your self-worth, nor is it the same as your feelings, or your reputation.

I do tend to admire people who live tidy lives, for many reasons but not least of which is that it seems a lot easier to do the things you want to do without having to paw through a bunch of Old Shit to find the things you need.

I work towards that, myself.

And that? That happens A Little Bit At A Time, which will be my next musing on the subject.
labelleizzy: (how to eat an elephant)
Once upon a time there was a little girl.
This little girl trustingly swallowed, hook, line, and sinker, the cultural meme that having more stuff will make you happier. She was not a happy little girl, and there were many hungers in her life that were never properly satisfied.

She started accumulating and collecting stuff. Meanwhile she was puzzled about why she seemed no happier, because she continued to hear the message that having enough stuff, will make you happy. She continued accumulating stuff.

Of course it wasn't really about the STUFF. It was about the unsatisfied hungers.
But it took her many many years to realize, that if you find out what the shape of the hunger is, and you feed yourself appropriately to satisfy all of your hungers, you don't need your "STUFF" as a pacifyer anymore.

and then you can get rid of the pacifyer.
labelleizzy: (fall kitty)
Yesterday I did Just Three Things that improved my life.

1) I took care of my friend MaryBeth by bringing over healthy dinner fixings for both of us and by spending time with her reading children's books and talking.

2) I went to the Rabbit Warren for their Torchwood/Doctor Who night, (though I was a bit late, sorry about that!) got to see again a TW I had seen and appreciate it on a new level, and see a Doctor Who MOVIE I was not even aware existed, so YEAH! and I may now start looking into watching Doctor Number Eight... (yay for a new fandom to explore!)

3) I started on an assignment for [livejournal.com profile] me_and_my_tarot, getting acquainted with my relatively new Universal Fantasy deck... I may have a new Significator or two... time will tell.

Today I am doing at least Three Things that will improve my life.

1) I took a shower (much needed, I hate to admit!) and then I actually lotioned with my expensive floral that I love and adore. And now that lotion is next to the shower for next time.

2) I cried when I needed to. And drank water afterward. And let myself cry again because I was still feeling the feelings.

3) I shredded, in less than 10 minutes, credit card files that included statements from 1992. Let's count shall we? credit card statements that were sixteen years old. Gonna go back and shred more today, I filled a trash bag already. I'll fill more today, we MOVED this box of "To-Shred" from our Concord house, and possibly from Vallejo.

*exhale*
*shoulders down*

I am going to cook something, do laundry, and change the sheets. And shred some more CRAP, and take the bags and boxes OUT of my house... and be a little lighter.
labelleizzy: (gaia)
I wouldn't have thought (or realized) that a Stick of Whapping could be such a satisfying and reliable gardening tool.

heh.

I have an old chair leg (the rest of the chair went bye-bye but since the leg already fell off, I was like, why not?)... and I have had several bushes in the back yard that died (or mostly died) some months ago when the pump for the backyard well failed for several days last summer.

how satisfying to whack the hell out of old dead brush, have it break and splinter and fracture, to aim blows for the joints of the dead plant and see limbs go flying, stir up dust (ok not that so much) and make something that's literally only in the way of progress, get smaller and smaller.

I think when the shrubs are finally gone I'll dig a nice big hole and plant sets of bulbs, or bunches of herbs that grow well in damp soil and indirect light.
labelleizzy: (gaia)
mentioned bout my compost, the last post?

was thinking about gardening today, went to check the bin and see how much work it would be to shovel/rake the stuff out into the garden... saw a plastic ziploc in there.

I was thinking, well, that must have just been us being lazy, not emptying one of the bags of ...stuff we'd collected for compost...

so I reach in and fish it out...

and there's no rotting vegetable matter inside, instead, there's RINGS.

specifically, my high school class ring, and my wedding and anniversary rings from my first marriage.

WTF? I know I was intending to put those away somewhere safe (THOUGHT I'd put them in the safe deposit box), have been planning to do some kind of purification on them (and then return the wedding ring to either a cousin or a niece for future use, to keep it in the family...)

I have a slight idea of the mishap that might have landed that bag in the bin... but it's still weird.

Somewhat karmic, and the end result (energetically) is probably the same as what I MEANT to do with them...

I'm still sitting here with this odd look on my face. The rings are soaking and I'll take them to be cleaned, then figure out the final disposition. It's Errand Day today anyway.

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