Family Living 4 Less

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Oprah called me a hoarder!

Posted by flsquared on November 15, 2009

OK, OK, before Oprah gives me a lecture (does Oprah read this blog???), Oprah herself did not actually call me a hoarder.

About a month or so ago, Oprah had another show on hoarding.  I didn’t actually watch it (we don’t have cable — we only use our TV for watching movies), but I did go to her website and take a look.  These shows on hoarding are a bit like watching a train wreck–you just can’t peel yourself away from the extreme chaos of it all.  Also, as a packrat who has been living for the last 15 years in small spaces, I feel much better about myself and my home when I realize that the clutter I worry about is not nearly to the scale of problematic.

Or so I thought.

Oprah included a quiz:  The Hoarding Self-Assessment.  After asking about 15 questions, you receive 3 scores:  clutter (I scored a 6, which is “mild”), acquiring score (I scored a 3,  also “mild”), and a difficulty discarding score (I scored a 12, which is on the high end of “moderate”).

Concluding the explanation of any “moderate” trait that you have, they suggest that you consider working with a mental health professional to work through your problem.  Ouch!

Admittedly, I have a problem with letting go. Because of this, I try to limit the things that come into our apartment.  I know that once they come in, it’s difficult for me to part with them.  I don’t like the idea of things going into a landfill — I abhor the idea of “disposable living” — so I like to find a home for things that we no longer need.  This can be another family that we know or not (via freecycle or craigslist), a charity, or a recycle bin.  Once things “wear out” and we can no longer find a use for them, I do feel peace about throwing them away.  But since we limit what comes in, “things” are not such a problem.

My biggest challenge is processing information.  I like to make sure that I will not need something before I toss it.  For example, I have a box of old magazines that I have not had the chance to read and 1900 odd email messages in my inbox that I haven’t deleted/filed.  Sure, some of these items have been around and unopened for a few months, but I am paralyzed and just unable to just toss or delete them.

As challenges go, running a close second are unfinished projects.  I have great intentions, but not a lot of energy and extra time these days.  I truly feel that as my kiddos get older (maybe this summer or next year?), I will have more time to dedicate to these projects.  For example,  I have some old mixed tapes that I want to listen to and digitally download the songs I like.  I have a number of books that I haven’t read.  A box of yarn sits in the closet ready for knitting projects (okay, 2 boxes and a small bag).  And don’t get me started on my scrap book photos.

I actually came across an interesting post last night on the blog “Organize More, Stress Less” called 56 Things You Can Toss Now.  What a great list.  I recently got rid of probably a dozen items on the list, but still have 9 others.  I don’t know if I will be able to part with them yet, but it got me thinking.

How about you?  What are the items that you feel most conflicted about letting go?  How do you convince yourself to let go of these things (or hold on to them?)  I would love to hear your success stories.  Inspire me!!!

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4 Responses to “Oprah called me a hoarder!”

  1. Mary said

    I know how you feel about letting go of unfinished projects. My belief is that I’ll get it to it someday; when the kids are able to keep themselves occupied for more than five minutes at a time… I have so many unfinished fictional stories (some since high school… so all on paper, not on the computer) that I want to finish, but never got the chance to. Then I have the stuffed animals from when I was growing up, old school books, etc.

    Moving has definitely got me to get rid of a lot of stuff. I figured I could encourage my children to give up some of their clutter (i.e. toys) if I go through my stuff. I was able to admit that not all stuffed animals are memorable and that a lot of my paperwork has to go. As for my clothes, some of my family members were affected by the big typhoon in the Philippines, so I knew giving up some of my “good” clothes would benefit those who are suffering worse than me.

  2. cwnmamau said

    I’ve found that it gets easier the more you do it. For me, it was difficult at first. But now it’s almost addicting. I love getting rid of stuff. For me the hardest things to part with are sentimental things…things that people have given me or that I felt made up part of my identity. I often have to tell myself “I’m not that person anymore/stuff doesn’t make me me/it’s just more stuff to haul around with me when I move.” Moving a lot is an excellent way to cut the crap. There’s nothing like having to haul all your stuff down to the car on your own to make you reconsider how much you own.

    The best way, I think, is to be honest with yourself. Is that REALLY who you are? Do you REALLY need that? Don’t make excuses, don’t try to hide…be honest.

    • flsquared said

      I think that’s a very good question: “who am I”. It is one that I am currently struggling with as a relatively new SAHM in a new city. I would like to make room for more “me things” and perhaps streamline the things that don’t reflect the new “me”. At the same time, I am scared to give up the “old me”: independent, professional, spur of the moment free spirit. Perhaps as I figure out who I am I will be able to give up a bit of the past. Or perhaps giving up a bit of the past will help me find who I am. Thanks!

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