June 5th, 2015
Confessions of a Hoarder
When people learn that I am a professional organizer, they often assume that my house is clutter free and contains only the things I absolutely need. They assume that I am a professional organizer because I am in some way better at getting rid of stuff than they are. The truth is, I think I learned to become so organized because I could not get rid of things, yet wanted everything to look nice and pretty.
When I was little, I saved everything that could possible be used for anything. I would even save the tiny round holes of paper that are created when you hole punch something – for art projects! It’s no surprise to me that in my adult life I have actually turned recycled things into art – Lola Dart Art.
The issue in adult life for me in this regard, is that the older you get, the bigger the stuff gets. Instead of saving little round holes because they may be used later, I had saved boxes. Instead of being able to fit my collections in tiny well-organized areas, they were ginormous, organized areas.
My breaking point came one year ago. I had recently gotten all of my childhood things from my parent’s house, so I had two huge collections (Barbie and Coca-Cola) hanging around. I also had bins upon bins of memorabilia and old school work, all mixed together. Then came the boxes. I had just packed and unpacked a client’s home and with that came a plethora of boxes. We had only used each of them once and they hadn’t even left the house, so they were perfectly good!
There are places to recycle boxes in New Orleans (Target will even take all of them and recycle them with their own boxes at the end of the day) yet I wanted to actually get another use out of them. Plus, I thought I was moving. Six months from then. That is when the problem started to get so big that it was difficult to ignore. No matter where I stored the boxes, they took up almost half of the room. Sometimes it would be in my bedroom, sometimes it would be in my living room. I would try to decorate the area or hide them behind furniture, but the truth was out. I had hit capacity and I had too much stuff!!!
The truth came to me one day when my girlfriend came over to see my latest apartment transformation (moving some furniture and all of the boxes around to create a different feel). When looking at one particularly crowded area of the apartment she said “As long as you have a path to walk.”
That was the beginning of the end. I have worked in many hoarder homes and often, that is the mentality. As long as you have a path to walk, you are okay. I did not want to be that person. So from that day forward, I made a change. I recycled the boxes. I kept my three favorite Barbies and donated the rest to Ronald McDonald house. I started to clear the clutter.
That is when I created project closet, which I have written about before. I took all of the items from around my home that were essentially projects and I put them in one space.
This project is ongoing and my space is far from perfect, but I am learning to manage it. Last night, I moved all of my clothes from my old bedroom closet to my new bedroom closet. In doing so, I found 6 articles of clothing that I am willing to part with. Baby steps.
It is all about taking it one step at a time and constantly focusing on how far you’ve come. Last night, I text that same girlfriend and told her I had finally combined the closets. She said “Can I just say how much I love your new space compared to this time last year?”
That’s when it really hit me. The leaps and bounds of differences I have made since this time last year are truly astounding. Nothing has happened overnight, slowly but surely I have parted with things I no longer need and consistently reorganized to make better use of the space.
Progress not perfection.
I am so proud of myself and the difference a year can make. I’ve spent so much time focused on all of the little wins each day and each week that when I sit back and truly think about my space a year ago compared to my space now, it is breathtaking!