Monday, June 6, 2011

We American Hoarders...

{Let's face reality, shall we?}

Many. Americans. are. hoarders.
{and there's a good chance you're one of them!}

There have been a few posts on my little bloggety-blog here about decluttering and getting rid of stuff. Of curing "stuffitis" - and my struggle with it. Well, this is another one, but one with a twist as opposed to more pics of my house-in-progress (as much fun as that can be!)

SO, Jeff and I are (still) in a huge stage of purging (three bins in the basement are slated for give-away later this week, woo hoo!) and I got to thinking about it: What are my criterion for what to keep and what to get rid of? What will work to inspire me to get rid of even more?

And then I came home to find this post on the failbook site. Now, Failbook is not always a great site to go to and sometimes has inappropriate postings (I look at the G-rated only posts) but sometimes I find a good chuckle there and, even more rarely something of worth. The post I linked to here is about Ariel - from the old movie "Little Mermaid"  - being a hoarder. It was a Facebook status made by someone in a tongue-in-cheek way, of course (that being the purpose of the site) but when I look at all the things we Americans keep in our homes... well, we're all hoarders, it's only a question of "to what degree."


From the Free Online Dictionary: hoarder - (noun) a person who accumulates things and hides them away for future use
From the Mayo Clinic site: Hoarding is the excessive collection of items, along with the inability to discard them.

Perhaps "clinical hoarding" does not fit  most of us, but how many of us have storage units we haven't opened in years? Or perhaps your garage or basement is stuffed and can't be used for its intended purpose? How many drawers, closets or other places in our homes have we stashed things "just for now" because "company is coming" (etc.) and we haven't gone back to clean them out?

But we're told it's healthier to give things away and the people who have done that - given it all away - talk about how "freeing" it is to live with so much less. Even the Bible tells us to free ourselves of "stuff." Many Christians have heard the verse in Mark (10:17-22) in which

... a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. 'Good teacher,' he asked, 'what must I do to inherit eternal life?' ... Jesus looked at him and loved him. 'One thing you lack,' he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then come, follow me.' At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
 How many of us are like the man - unable to sell our things and bless those who have needs with the proceeds? Or unable to simply give away what we have to bless others?

So then my mind turned to what might help me let go of my misgivings about "letting go." I've heard the advice to get rid of an item if a) I haven't used it in a year or b) if you don't love it, have sentimental value in it or have a need for it. Neither of these was working for me because when it comes to clothes, I've been pregnant so much over the last 11 years that I need about six sizes of clothes on hand. And I can attach "sentiment" to so many things! I suspect many of us are in the same raft of excuses.

So here are my new test strips for myself:

  • If I die tomorrow, will my children/descendants know the story and memory behind this item? 
  • Will they know why it was special to me or will it be one more thing for them to have to get rid of? 
  • What burden am I placing on my children by keeping all of this "sentiment"? Especially when it won't be sentimental to them! 

What an opportunity is wasted! Instead, i want to teach my children the blessings of blessing someone else and passing THAT on to them for when I am gone! 

Pictured throughout this post is what I want to live for instead of wasting any more time in my life sorting, moving, organizing, arranging and STORING STUFF!

For what are you working?

This post is also linked to...

Thank you for stopping  by!


  1. Kathryn WilliamsJune 6, 2011 at 9:31 AM

    Hahaha, this totally applies to me right now. It's definitely time to let go of some stuff and give it to someone that can actually use it. What a great lesson to teach the kiddos! :)

  2. So hard to get most kids to let GO, but I think of how well we did as kids w/ so much less and how many fun games we made up on our own and it spurs me on

  3. You appear to be hoarding children, as well.

  4. They are difficult to get out on their own :D I'm content to wait for that though!

  5. Your new criteria for keeping/discarding material things are thought provoking and valuable tools. The photos of your family are precious and reinforce your idea that many possessions are worthwhile only if they promote the well being of your family and represent the essence of what you believe in and what is important to you.It's also nice to see a photo of your husband smiling.

  6. Richard! Haven't heard from you in ages - and it's nice to see your thoughts once again. I have come to those bits of criteria (criterion?) from spending so much time surrounded and frustrated by it all and unable to give so much away because of guilty feelings over who gave it to me. But I know those people love/d me and would not want me to keep it if it is a burden. And if I keep things I'm not using, I am burdening someone else either by not sharing or by making it so they have to decide to keep it or throw it away. Must admit though that papers still haunt my every spare corner! I'm still working on a formula for that!


I look forward to hearing your thoughts!


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