Clutter, Stockpiling, and Hoarding: Taking a hard look at my life…
Before we get started, I am not a hoarder. Not even close! I am however in the middle of a HUGE life re-organization project that got me thinking about how I am maintaining my home and my life. It pains me to say this but my life for the past 5 or 6 years my life hasn’t been rocking the way I would have liked it to. I have spent the past year blogging about my money, a little bit about my weight, friends, and home. As I blog about these different aspects of my life it had become clearer and clearer how intertwined they are and that in order to get a handle on my money I had to get a handle on what seemed to be unrelated to money but is at the heart of everything. My home.
You have to understand that I have been at times called OCD when it came to the cleanliness of my home. It was my regular habit to make my bed after I got up (still do), no dishes were in the sink, and everything had a place. I bought a home in 2007 at the peak of the market. The problem with that purchase and subsequent move was that it occurred during a very stressful time for me personally and I really wasn’t financially ready to purchase a home. My finances were in complete disarray. Though I could technically afford the home (it’s really cheap), I had years of financial disorganization dogging my heels.
I moved into my new place during the spring of 2007, then the Market crashed. Though my home was affordable and I loved it-I wanted to quit my job at that time and couldn’t because there were no jobs to be had. The Great Recession had started and I like many other people were f$cked, financially, and it took an emotional toll on me.
I was always a food stockpiler and I think that the majority of Americans tend to fall in this category because of the amount of space we have available to us for food storage in our homes. I love looking at food, cooking, farmer’s markets, and food shows. I found it easy to accumulate food stuffs under the guise of stocking up. I would spend amazing amounts of time thinking up recipes, researching recipes and going to markets and grocery stores to purchase ingredients in the event that I didn’t have them. Preserved lemons, I had to have them. Sumac spice, I needed to pick some up. You get the picture. I proceeded to gain 25-30 pounds from 2007-2013 and I am sure that I’ve lost around a thousand dollars in food waste since 2007. I was literally feeding my misery at not being able to change my job and move on. My cabinets were fairly organized but had tons of food in them. When my best friend came over to visit from England a couple of years ago she commented that I was one person and didn’t need all of that food. She didn’t realize that I was worried about “What if.” What if I lost my job? What would I do? How would I eat when the Zombie Apocalypse came.
My new home was smaller than the previous apartment that I was in and as I slowly wrapped my head around the feeling of owning my home I struggled to keep things as organized and together as I used to in my old place. I found myself happy that I had bought a home, but in general kind of depressed with my life.
I also ran out of energy when decorating my bedroom having painted it 3 times BADLY. The second time looked like a bad slasher film because I had chosen a maroon color that looked great in a magazine but looked like I had made animal sacrifices in my room. By the time I repainted it a third time, a light lavender I ran out of energy to clean up the red and pee yellow splashes along the walls from the previous paint jobs. The kitchen, and living room were cute but the bedroom and bathroom looked crazy and try as I might I had lost the energy to deal with it.
Slowly, as time moved on my entire home became a lot more cluttered and disorganized until I found myself being called out on two separate occasions. My mom and an ex (who had known me for a long time) mentioned the state of my bedroom and not in a good way. You have to understand I didn’t have clothing on the floor, or used dishes…but, it wasn’t the space that it could have been. The bed was flush against the wall, the bad paint job was still there, and I had 2 pieces of furniture too many for the size of the room. The clutter and the calling out on my sh$t took me by surprise, I was offended and hurt. I’m glad that they cared enough to say something. I had shut down between 2007 -2012 and was dealing with things by not dealing with them.
Things never got so bad that I was hoarding but I was on the edge when it came to household cleaning products and body products. I decided to stop purchasing those items until I’d used up a substantial number of those items saving me money, time, and space.
Clutter, Stockpiling, and Hoarding all come from the same mental space: fear, the idea of “not having enough,” and lack of control over all of the things that affect one’s life. There have been a number of studies done that show a clear connection between financial problems and clutter, weight gain in a home. If you get a chance I recommend reading some of Peter Walsh’s books on clutter (of Oprah fame). They are pretty quick reads and offer interesting insights on the affect of clutter on your life.
As I go through the process of getting rid of excess furniture, clothes, books, and product I feel the metaphorical weight of all this excess coming off of my shoulders. There is a bounce in my step again. I knew I was feeling weighted down by my debt, I hadn’t realized that the lack of organization in my home was making it even worse. It’s getting easier and easier to let stuff go. If an item is not going to help move me forward then I’m getting rid of it.
Have you ever dealt with clutter? Are you a stockpiler (food, product, etc)? Have you done a major declutter project and noticed a difference in your life? Did you discover things that you didn’t know you had?
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