I’ve been off school for the summer and enjoying the unusually nice weather we’ve been experiencing (but now with all the fires in Washington State, it’d be great if the rains returned ASAP!).
I’ve actually been accomplishing a lot of decluttering and cleaning this summer. I decided not to share my process here, though, until I knew it was actually going to work. I was tired of seeing my best intentions end up being for nothing. Again. And again. And AGAIN.
So, what’s been my secret to actually getting all those things accomplished that I’d been putting off for a long time?
Binge watching the TV show, Hoarders.
I also read a book this summer by one of the psychologists who work with the show (The Hoarder in You by Robin Zasio) and realized that without too much effort, I had the potential to become something more than just a regular messy and unorganized person.
That was eye-opening.
And more than a little bit scary.
Hoarding often begins with some sort of trauma and loss (which I’ve definitely had my share of the past ten years or so). Hoarding is sometimes an expression of fear of losing something else. And hoarding is often the result of just being so overwhelmed by life that you give up.
Yes. Yes. And yes. I’ve felt all of those things.
But I realized this summer while watching the show that I can actively choose to let go of the things and the stuff and the clutter that was starting to find it’s way into my home.
A bit about me and why I ended up with so much clutter: After for a few years working at an antique mall and buying/selling items, I’d accumulated a lot of things that were being stored for resale later. When I returned to college full-time, I stopped working the resale/antique business, but still had a large accumulation of things that I just had a difficult time parting with, or even actually identifying as “junk” or “clutter” since the items had been originally purchased for business purposes.
I had an “Ah ha!” moment recently and realized that the investment I’d made in those items was just a business loss, and I needed to move on and let them go. All of them. Books, decorative objects, art, random furniture, dishware, china, kitchen gadgets. All wonderful and useful (and even valuable!) items. BUT they had become nothing more than clutter in my life and my home, and it was time to release them back to the thrift stores from whence many of them came originally.
I found that there were quite a few people on Hoarders who had previously been resale, antique, or junk dealers whose homes had become their storage and staging area for their businesses, and then basically the business inventory had overrun their home and their lives. I was well on my way to becoming one of them.
Honestly, I still have trouble when I stop by a thrift store or a garage sale to keep myself from thinking, “Oh, I could sell this!”
And yes, I probably could sell it. And at a profit.
But I’m not doing the business anymore, I don’t want to do it anymore, and so I consequently need to stop the habits of mind that led to the accumulation of too much stuff in my life.
This summer I’ve also sorted through my personal bookshelves. No easy task — I had over 3,000 books! I still have a lot of books, but I actually emptied several bookshelves, and feel much happier about the collection I currently have. There were a lot of books I no longer agreed with and that actually made me somewhat upset when I’d see them on my shelves. So why was I keep them if I felt unhappy when I looked at them? Because they’re BOOKS. And I LOVE books! But I realized this summer that not all books are created equal, and that some are actually damaging to my personal well-being.
So this is a long, rambling post about how I’ve been spending my summer. Reading, binge-watching Hoarders, cleaning, decluttering, and enjoying the sunshine. Not a bad way to spend the time off before my last year of Grad School.
There’s actually been something very healing about the process, too. I feel stronger. Lighter. Happier.
It’s a good thing. 🙂