Hello, My Name Is Doris Sheds Light on Hoarding

I’m so glad I read this blog!
I find that hoarding disorder is a powerful and mysterious phenomenon.
I work with many clients who are “keepers” (what a wonderful phrase!), and they generally are attached to their possessions with a very strong psychological superglue. Practically impossible to separate them.
Thank you for voicing the view that patience and understanding is called for, and that they deserve respect.
The last sentence is very powerful.
Looking very much forward to the film!
Thank you again.
Alison Lush, CPO-CD

downsizing the home

I was lucky enough to be in the audience last week, on the night “Hello, My Name Is Doris,” opened at the E Street Cinema in Washington D.C. This lovely film, starring Sally Field, is the story of a 60-something woman who has sacrificed much of her own life while serving as caretaker for her mother, who was a hoarder.

While the hoarding part of the story is really just a subplot, coming from a family of what my coauthor and I prefer to call “keepers,” I found one of the many pleasures of watching the film to be the sensitive treatment of this ill-understood disorder. In an interview in Glamour magazine, Field, who consulted with psychiatrists in preparation for playing the role, says, “Doris is not a hoarder on the level that you’ve seen on television shows. There are degrees of these disorders…” And indeed, this is made clear…

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Our new normal

our new normal
6 years ago, our home was truly overcrowded. I did not yet have the skills to manage the ebb and flow of things we lived with. I am very happy to say that things are very different now!

The following are my favorite strategies that have gradually made this transformation possible.

  1. I have learned to bring home less. I am much more discerning. I do not seek shopping opportunities. When things are offered, I stop and compare to what we have and what we use. I do NOT want to add more clutter. I am very clear about that.
  2. Containers help me know when enough is enough. I have learned to respect the boundaries I create. For example, I have my folded clothes on a Kallax (Ikea cube shelving), with one shelf for long-sleeved tops. When the pile is squished, something has to go, that’s it. It took me some time to reflect and decide my own personalized boundaries, but now it is a cinch to know how much is enough.
  3. Everything has a “home”- Everything! It can take time to reflect and create a good home for a thing, but once it is done, putting it away is a breeze!
  4. Done is better than perfect. I do my best today, with the resources, knowledge and energy I have now. I don’t wait for perfection: I just do my best.
  5. No guilt! I do my best, and do not feel guilty for being imperfect. Nobody is perfect.
  6. I cultivate the feeling of abundance. When I feel rich and comfortable, I need less.
  7. It’s an organic process. Our habits and routines change, and so do our things.
  8. Higher housekeeping standards help us stay organized. Make the bed every morning. Wash all the dishes so the sink is empty regularly. Hang the coats up. Don’t leave piles of stuff randomly lying around. All these small gestures combine to create pride and ownership, and contribute to being well-organized.
  9. “For Charity” zone in the foyer. When anyone in the family realizes they no longer have a use or desire to keep something, it is so easy to walk it over to the front door charity zone. And because it is very visible, we take in the donations on a regular basis to clear out the foyer.
  10. I collect mentors! I have identified a whole bunch of people who inspire me and give tips that I find helpful. I’m on a learning curve. It’s great to learn from others!

I’m well aware that none of this is new, nor is it important when compared to big challenges in the world. But it does make a significant difference in the quality of life of the three people who live in our tiny home. Our home welcomes us and allows us to recharge our batteries. We are functional, and therefore more self-sufficient. We don’t waste time looking for things any more. We don’t waste lots of money buying stuff we don’t need. We don’t spend money buying things we already have but cannot find!

This is our new normal. Hooray!

#1 Building block for a more organized life

Came home from work today feeling sluggish.

It’s only 4pm. Hours of potentially productive time ahead of me. What to do?

Scrolling down the mental list- “I could do that… or that… or maybe that. Even enough time to take on that.”

Looking around our little home: Clutter. Disorder. Piles. I feel myself sinking…more and more sluggish.

I remember a gold nugget of wisdom from one of my Organizing classes for when one is feeling overwhelmed and it’s difficult to get going.

Do one thing.” I pick up my hat, gloves and scarves from the table and put them in the front closet where they belong.

I notice the action: That was easy. I notice the feeling: That feels good. I like the system I created last year for my accessories, and it gives me satisfaction to see them put away.

Do one thing.” I empty my bag from work and put it away.

I notice the action: That was easy. I notice the feeling: That feels good. Dirty clothes are now closer to being washed. Empty bag ready for tomorrow. Feels like progress.

Sluggishness gone, starting to feel energized

We often feel stuck or overwhelmed in our physical spaces. Too many things we could be doing or think we should be doing. DO ONE THING is a powerful approach.

Choose ANYTHING to do! The point is to create forward movement.

One step, even if it is small or slow, is STILL ONE STEP, and that is a very different thing from doing nothing.

Surprising experiment in authenticity

image

For the first time, I had no desire this year to decorate, think of gifts, or cook traditional fare. Rather than forcing myself out of a sense of obligation, I respected my instincts and did almost nothing. Putting up the tree was very important for my daughter, and she could have decorated it had she wanted to. I got the bins of decorations out, and yet the tree remained natural.

Looking at this photo, I see that my Christmas was authentic for me. No wasted energy. No financial regret. No new clutter in my home. I simply relaxed and enjoyed my time with family and friends.

Good organizing is meant to improve our quality of life. Sometimes just keeping it simple can do the same.
It’s a great theme to begin the new year.
What might you want to experiment with?

Déjà cinq ans

On travail la configuration…

Alison Lush, certified professional organizer

Ma meilleure amie m’a sauvée, à nouveau!

Il y a cinq ans, je discutais avec elle de ce que j’aimerais dans une nouvelle carrière. Elle m’a juste répondu : « Organisatrice professionnelle! » J’ai répondu « C’est quoi ça? »

J’ai vite découvert sur la toile que ces professionnels avaient leurs associations et que des programmes de formation existaient. Je m’y suis inscrite sans tarder et j’ai vite commencé à prendre des cours.

J’étais emballée à l’idée d’avoir des clients dont j’aiderais à relever les défis d’organisation. Je ne m’attendais cependant pas au cheminement intérieur qui s’amorçait.

Je suis devenue ma propre première cliente. J’expérimentais tout ce que j’apprenais, sur moi et sur les amis et membres de ma famille qui me soutenaient.

Vous n’avez pas idée à quel point j’envisage mes biens et mon espace personnel différemment aujourd’hui!

Moi qui pensais que si je n’avais rien payé pour un article, il ne me coûtait…

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Five years and counting

Best friend to the rescue again.

Five years ago I told my best friend my criteria for a new career, and she suggested “Professional Organizer”. I replied “What’s that?”

With just a little internet research I learned that there are associations of professional organizers, and education available. I signed up on the spot and started taking classes.

I was eager to work with clients and help them with their organizing challenges at home. What I did not foresee was the personal journey it would take me on.

I became my first client. Everything I was learning about, I tried on myself (and my supportive family and friends).

I can honestly say that I view my space and my possessions quite differently now.

I used to think that if I did not pay money for something, it was free. I now know that everything sitting in my home is costing me space, daily.

I took many photos of “The stuff that walked out the door”, aka donations to charity.

I am amazed that I hardly remember what all that stuff was, and I miss none of it!

I love having space. I love having learned not to bring home stuff unless it is a better treasure than what I already have.

I’m really glad a Professional Organizer came into my life.

Déjà cinq ans

Ma meilleure amie m’a sauvée, à nouveau!

Il y a cinq ans, je discutais avec elle de ce que j’aimerais dans une nouvelle carrière. Elle m’a juste répondu : « Organisatrice professionnelle! » J’ai répondu « C’est quoi ça? »

J’ai vite découvert sur la toile que ces professionnels avaient leurs associations et que des programmes de formation existaient. Je m’y suis inscrite sans tarder et j’ai vite commencé à prendre des cours.

J’étais emballée à l’idée d’avoir des clients dont j’aiderais à relever les défis d’organisation. Je ne m’attendais cependant pas au cheminement intérieur qui s’amorçait.

Je suis devenue ma propre première cliente. J’expérimentais tout ce que j’apprenais, sur moi et sur les amis et membres de ma famille qui me soutenaient.

Vous n’avez pas idée à quel point j’envisage mes biens et mon espace personnel différemment aujourd’hui!

Moi qui pensais que si je n’avais rien payé pour un article, il ne me coûtait rien de le ramener et de le garder chez moi… Aujourd’hui je suis consciente de l’espace qu’il prend et qui me coûte d’autant plus que l’article en question reste chez moi longtemps.

J’ai pris de nombreuses photos des « arias qui s’en allaient, » plus souvent qu’autrement en direction d’un organisme de charité.

Je suis surprise de constater comment j’ai oublié ces affaires, comment aucune d’elle ne me manque!

J’aime avoir de la place. J’apprécie de m’être mise à ne rapporter de quoi à la maison que si le nouveau trésor me donnera plus que celui qu’il remplacera.

Bref, je suis heureuse de l’impact que ma rencontre avec une organisatrice professionnelle a eu dans ma vie.