Apr 20

Time to Start Clean Up


1-3-11 692Some Things Are Outgrown and Lose Their Usefulness

There are times in life when we may look around and see our collection of treasures have lost their luster. During spring cleaning, preparation for a yard sale, or other reasons we may decide it is time to simplify. Although the word seems simple enough, it is a difficult task for multiple reasons.

As a mental health professional I understand the challenges we face dealing with things. When it is time to let go of something that once brought us pleasure it can be very difficult. Due to the fact it is possible to attach memories to inanimate objects, knowingly or unknowingly, a variety of reactions can arise. Fear of forgetting a loved one, a positive experience, or even a portion of a previous identity can cause anxiety to arise.

Everything is for a season, and seasons change. Perhaps one played sports, had trophies and celebrated with team members their success. As time passed the games were no longer played and the trophies began to gather dust. How many trophies do we have stashed away in life? They can take on different forms yet still represent something important that happened in the past.

The unwillingness to release material things, although they are no longer of any use or value may not be understood by family or friends. It is a process that takes time to let go emotionally as well as physically. As we press forward in our daily lives, with the help and support of others, we can simplify and enjoy the beauty of life that surrounds us .

My riches consist not in the extent of my possessions, but in the fewness of my wants. (Pastor Joseph Brotherton)



Nov 09

Digging Out Again


Other people and things can stop you temporarily, Your the only one who can do it permanently.   Zig Ziglar

On a mission to recycle the warmth with others in the community, it was time to dig out those items that were being held on to just in case….. they were needed, a loved one wanted them later, or perhaps they could be sold and make some money, or for posterity sake!

When we want to clean our environment, we may start out on the surface taking obvious things away we no longer desire. As time goes by we may notice we still need a more simplified environment. It is at those moments we will need to dig deeper and commit to letting go of things that could have emotional attachments to them. As simple as used clothing or a familiar book that we read that once brought us pleasure, now can be shared for others to enjoy, It is a good thing to pass it on.

What is stopping us from de-cluttering our mind or our environment? We can blame others, and yes they may be involved, but ultimately we are the only ones that can stop ourselves permanently. It is helpful to get together with others who have the same goals and become cheer leaders as we celebrate each small and large success.

Oct 29

How do you measure up?


Simply put, really living simple and being organized looks different to everyone.

Living the simple life sounds pretty simple doesn’t it? The question is what do we do with all the stuff we may have accumulated? There are definitions or categories that a group of people created that describes people according to the amount of stuff they have gathered.

*Hoarders – Preparers – Pack Rats- Clutters – Collectors – Compulsive Shoppers

Where do you see yourself? There are many who have watched television shows about ‘Hoarders’. Some may think maybe their neighbor, family, or a friend is a hoarder too. Secretly they may even realize they have some type of hoarding issues as well. What do we do about it?

If one Googled the term “hoarder” and read Wikipedia they could get insight to the definition. As a mental health professional, I use the Diagnostic Statistical Manuel (DSM-5) that provides criteria that determines if someone truly suffers from a hoarding disorder.

When we see words that suggest we simplify our lives, we need to recognize it is easier said than done. There are many variables that must be addressed for each of us when dealing with letting go of materialistic things. The unseen ties and emotional bonds that are attached through memories or belief systems make it very difficult to separate people from their belongings.

The word belonging is a powerful image to be used in this context. One might say, “These things belong here, they have always been here”. Another may say, “Those belonged to my son or daughter when they were young, I couldn’t bear to part with them”. Working with one woman, she stated, “My husband used to golf when he was younger and paid good money for those clubs; I know he is almost ninety and hasn’t played in fifty years but still I can’t sell those!”

The list can go on and on, as we justify why we need this or why we need to go buy more of that. Rest assured the time will come when we all have to deal with our stuff one way or the other. Do we have too much now? Can we keep gathering, collecting or storing up for a rainy day? When do we realize we too have the opportunity to become somewhat of a hoarder?

Is it too late to choose to live a more simplistic life? It is never too late, although we now may need assistance from others as we move forward towards our desire to a clutter free environment.

Oct 20

Feeling a little crowded?



Here is a question that may be asked in almost any household; “Do you know where ……… is”? Whatever  object we may be looking for, if we can’t find it, obviously it has been misplaced. The more things we have accumulated, the more likely it is we can lose them. In addition, we will need more space to keep whatever we purchased. Once we begin the process of stacking, boxing, and stashing items in drawers, closets, storage sheds, etc. we will also begin to feel the squeeze as things begin to become overwhelming.

Soon we begin asking ourselves the question,”Where does this belong”? That would be a great question to ask even before we bring home that ‘new’ surprise.There are many times when we are not able to be in the mind set to categorize, organize, and place things where they are most beneficial. By the time we return home after a long day of shopping we may be too tired, or too busy trying to take care of other issues that require our attention.

There are many that are gifted with the ability to keep things in order. There are others who may lay things down with the thought they will put them away later. Procrastination can come in to play. They get busy taking care of other commitments with the best intention of returning later. Perhaps they are a care giver, or have their own health issues that flare up and need to rest. There are many reasons why we may find ourselves in a situation where things begin to pile up.

When we out and about shopping, going to sales, or in the act of gathering in one way or the other, we are vulnerable to the desires of that which we see around us. There seems to be some unspoken promise that a certain product, item, or thing will fill a void, or assist us in one way to make us feel better, look better or live better.

Are we purchasing things for display or for purpose? It matters not, for we are free to gather things in the pursuit of happiness, as long as we abide by the law. For many, less is more, for others, too much is never enough. Whatever the case, that which we possess will cost us, not only in the initial purchase, but in space and energy for the upkeep long after the purchase. How expensive is that?

Oct 19

Packing light?

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How much stuff are we taking we us?

While writing a book addressing the variety of things we gather, and the emotional ties attached to them, I recognize everyone has some thing to deal with. Many are surprised to find out even the homeless may have several storage sheds full of things just waiting to get a home to place them in once again.

We all have gathered, stored, stashed, or pridefully displayed items we have collected over a period of time. As I traveled many years I have learned the importance of packing light. Upon returning home I am reminded once again how much stuff has been accumulated in such a small space.

There have been times when I go for a walk, and I look back and see the place I live. Even from a short distance, as I look down from the top of the hill I get a different perspective. All those things that seem to be so valuable when walking around inside, all the to-do lists that need to be accomplished, nothing looks  like that big of a deal, or that important from that point of view.

When going to the airport, dragging a suitcase behind, what things are really necessary to take with us? While flying, lift off or landing, as we look out the window we can see a variety of shapes and sizes of different buildings and houses. If we had the chance to go inside we would find many treasures of those who live inside.

It is interesting to think about how some things can have attachments to one person, and be meaningless to another. Why? One reason is due to the memories that were experienced as things were purchased, discovered or received. Also, what we value can be traced back to a belief system that we hold, consciously or subconsciously.

What we find most valuable is influenced by what we believe. Many who may not have relationships with others may attempt to fill a void with things to give them comfort, security or importance. Others may give away things to try to fill a different kind of void with the desire to gain relationships.

How shall we view that which we have accumulated while traveling on this journey? The beauty of having freedom is to know we can answer that question any way we desire. Shall we pack light and continue moving on, or shall we be like a rat pack, settling down for the long haul?


Oct 12

Overwhelmed with stuff?



Have you ever been in a place that seemed overwhelming with a bunch of stuff piled all over? What is it, and where does it belong? Obviously it is not put is its proper place, wherever that may be. Looking at all the stuff there can be an emotional disconnect. How did it get there in the first place and whose is it anyway?

What do we do with all this stuff once we acknowledge that things are out of order? We may be asking ourselves who is responsible for this mess? Where did it all come from, and whose is it? Memory begins to fade as time passes. The sales we went to early Saturday mornings, times we went with friends shopping for the day; what about when a mother-in-law decides she is going to clean out her garage and fills ours with all her stuff? Sometimes life is not fair!

Honestly, who would really desire dealing with your stuff? I heard a woman speaking to others about cleaning up her stuff so when she dies her children will not have to bear the burden of getting rid of her belongings. Her friend stated, “I do not want to leave my kids a burden to have to deal with when I leave. Many of us finally realize “whatever we don’t want, they don’t either!” The first time I heard that I realized I need to put into practice that what I have been taking about.It really is time to get busy and simplify my life.

Another great question I heard lately dealing with stuff is simple: “Who really owns your stuff, you or it”? Embracing that concept, I have decided I am not letting my belongings hinder me. When we begin working through this process, a question may come up; “What is this sh##it, and how did we get so much”? The biggest question still remains How do we start, what can keep us motivated to keep up, and are there ways to join with others for tips, support and new friends.

I am so excited, I am determine that tomorrow I will buckle down and really begin dealing with all that stuff! A great environment is important to be creative. If anyone desires to go on this quest send me a message.

Sep 18

What do I do with all this stuff?

DSC02591Writing a book demands focusing on the topic at hand. I have been working for a period of time to write a book that addresses the fact we are a nation of collectors. With every holiday there is some type of materialist item that is attached. Along with it is the memories that are formed as the event unfolds. Whether it is Christmas where traditionally gifts that are given, Easter with special decorations and Easter baskets, Halloween with the perfect costume, or Valentines day and the glass rose; each holiday has items that were purchased to show love, affection, or participation of the particular holiday.

What do we do with the items once we receive them? Emotional attachments occur, and memories of special moments linger long after the initial experience. When this continues to occur over time, clutter begins to develop due to the fact we can’t let go of things. This is where the danger lies. For many, as time passes, they lose their ability to move about freely in their living space.

In addition, there will be many who suffer from what is called hoarding. They didn’t start out thinking they were going to be a hoarder, they just collected things for one reason or another. Unfortunately, now hoarding is written in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM-5) as a mental disorder. For the first time in the U.S. history, a mental disorder can be considered a violation of the law! Breaking health and safety codes can evoke the “Hoarding Task Force” to pay a visit to the home of those who suffer from this disorder.

A Hoarding disorder affects emotions, thoughts and behavior. Signs and symptoms may include:
• Persistent inability to part with any possession, regardless of its value
• Excessive attachment to possessions
• Cluttered living spaces with areas unusable for their intended purpose
• Stacks of newspapers, magazines or junk mail in various places
• Food or trash is built up to excessive and unsanitary levels
• Acquiring unneeded and useless items in the form of trash
• Difficulty managing daily activities due to procrastination with trouble making decisions
• Moving items from one pile to another, without disposing anything
• Difficulty organizing items, sometimes losing important items in the clutter
• Shame, guilt and/or embarrassment
• Limited or no social interactions
People with hoarding disorder typically save items because:
• They believe these items will be needed or have value in the future
• Items have important emotional significance, memories attached of happy times or beloved people
• They feel safer surrounded by things they save.

Hoarding disorder is not to be confused with collecting. People who have collections, deliberately search out specific items, are very organized and categorize every item. As a Heart Mender Specialist, I provide tools and coping skills to help those who are struggling with these issues. Contact me for a free consultation.