July, 2012

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Some Hoarding Help, Please!

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Recently I received a question about hoarding on my website so, I thought I would share with you my response.


Hello Rachel,*
I don’t know if you are struggling with hoarding yourself or have a family member with hoarding tendencies. Either is a hard situation, wears on the mental state of the hoarder, and can have devastating effects on family relationships.

Hoarding is an extreme case of chronic disorganization, usually accompanied by another medical condition such as Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCD), Depression, Social Phobia, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD), or Dementia. In other words, there is a mental/emotional component that either triggers or feeds the hoarding problem.

I am currently working with several hoarders. We are making headway on de-cluttering, slowly and surely, so it can be done. Maintaining order and how to avoid over-acquiring in the future will be something we will work on as well. :)

These are a few resources I recommend for info on hoarding.


Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) Resources:

This association, founded by Judith Kolberg, was formerly called The National Study Group for Chronic Disorganization (NSGCD). ICD does a tremendous job at disseminating information helpful to professional organizers and mental health professionals on working with folks with CD.

Free fact sheets for public :http://www.nsgcd.org/content/fact-sheets-public-0
Free Clutter-Hoarding Scale assessment tool:http://www.nsgcd.org/content/clutter-8212-hoarding-scale
Teleclass recording:  Introduction to Hoarding, Presented by Geralin Thomas, CPO-CD® [pro organizer seen on television show Hoarders]

This class will provide an overview of hoarding.  We will discuss the fundamental components, complexities and characteristics concerning issues involving those with a hoarding disorder.

Purchase and listen to this teleclass

Excellent Books on Hoarding:

  The hoarder in you


What Every Professional Organizer Needs to Know About Hoarding [Paperback]Judith Kolberg (Author) [founder of NSGCD now ICD]

Buried in Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding [Paperback] David F. Tolin (Author), Randy O. Frost (Author), Gail Steketee(Author)

The Hoarder in You: How to Live a Happier, Healthier, Uncluttered Life [Hardcover] Robin Zasio (Author) [Therapist seen on television show Hoarders]

I hope you will find info to help you, Rachel.*

Exploring the End of Life as We Know It

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

Jeff, Emily and I went to see the latest Steve Carell movie, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. Some parts were hard to watch (and I don’t recommend this movie for anyone under 17!) I don’t think anyone could see this movie without asking, “What would I consider important if I had 21 days left to live?”

Interestingly enough, I have recently finished several fictional accounts of what life in the U.S. would be like if (when?) energy resources fail. The main characters draw upon courage and resourcefulness when our cushy American life is turned upside down and food/other essentials are no longer on the shelf.

These are the books I read and one more I want to read next:







In a Perfect World by Laura Kasischke










World Made By Hand by James Howard Kunstler









Last Light Restoration Series #1 by Terri Blackstock



I guess you don’t have to read an apocalyptic novel to focus on what is important. The emotion evoked by a character’s struggle simply makes it easier to imagine all the extra trappings of life being stripped away. What you will fight most not to lose, that is your answer to the 21 day question.
Can you hold on fiercely to those and let go of the rest? That is my challenge, too.

Tips for Getting Your Life in Order Starting NOW

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Today’s article is meant to be an uplifting “You can do it!” cheer from your biggest fan. No matter where you are or the problem you are facing, you can start now to get your life in order.



These are a series of actions you can take in one minute from Donna Smallin Kuper*, a wonderful organizer I have had the privilege of meeting at our NAPO conferences. Read through the list, select one or two, and just get started.

  • Think about your motivation. What do you stand to gain from getting organized? What do you stand to lose if you don’t?
  • Make today the day you decide to get organized. Tell someone about it.
  • Create a one-month plan. Choose five things you most want to organize in the next month. Number these items from highest to lowest priority.
  • Take immediate action. Pick a single organizing tip… and do it today. Or take 5 minutes right now to organize your sock drawer.
  • Start with today’s mess. Do whatever it takes to keep up with daily mail, dishes and laundry. Then set aside time to catch up.
  • Commit to spending a set amount of time everyday on uncluttering and organizing activities. Schedule your organizing sessions for a time when you are mentally fresh. Make an appointment with yourself and write it in your daily. Then honor that appointment as you would any other appointment.
  • Decide in advance what your reward will be for completing each organizing project or room. Ideas: Plan to buy yourself flowers, treat yourself to a pedicure or massage, or invite friends to enjoy coffee and dessert in your newly uncluttered family room.

“You don’t have to stop everything to get organized; you just have to start. Make organizing a part of your daily life. Do it first. Do it fast.”*


*This article consists of quotes from The One-Minute Organizer Plain & Simple: 500 Tips for Getting Your Life in Order by Donna Smallin Kuper, from Storey Publishing.

Donna Smallin Kuper is a nationally recognized author and speaker on uncluttering, cleaning, and simplifying life. Her organizational tips have appeared in Reader’s Digest, Woman’s Day and the New York Times. Find more of Donna’s tips on her website: www.unclutter.com.

Are you clutching your plastic pearls?

Friday, July 6th, 2012

As I’ve considered topics for this week’s newsletter, I haven’t been able to get the illustration my pastor used in his sermon yesterday out of my mind. This is the short story with a message:

A little girl named Ruthie, around 4 years old, saw a plastic pearl necklace in a store display and thought it was so beautiful she had to have it. Ruthie brought her savings with her next time she want to the store with her mom and spent all of $2.25 on the necklace.

Ruthie loved the necklace and wore it everyday, everywhere she went. Her mother had to move it aside to wash her neck during her bath. Ruthie must have worn that necklace for 3 months straight.

One night, the little girl’s father was tucking her into bed. “I love you, Ruthie,” he said. “Do you love me?”

“Oh yes, Daddy, I love you!”

“Would you give me your pearls?” he asked.

“Oh no, Daddy, I can’t give you my pearls. I would give you my doll house and everything in it,” Ruthie cried.

“That’s OK, Ruthie. Goodnight and sleep well,” he said as he turned out the light.

Over the next few weeks, Ruthie’s father asked the same questions several times – Do you love me? Will you give me your pearls? – with the same answer. Ruthie would gladly give anything except the pearls to show her love for her father.

One night Ruthie was waiting on her father with a sad expression. Before he could ask why she was sad, she caught his hand and put her necklace in it. “I love you so much, Daddy. You can have my pearls.”

Her father hugged her with tears in his eyes. Then he said, “I love you, too, Ruthie, and want you to have this.” He pulled a long slender jewelry box from his pocket. When Ruthie opened it, her eyes opened wide. Inside was a real pearl necklace for her very own.

The original message was that the omniscient, caring Creator God wants to give us good things, but we may have to let go of lesser things first.

The more I think about this parable (a story with a message), the more I can identify with Ruthie. I want to hold onto:

  • The accolades I earned that show how good I once was at school/job/sports
  • Unfinished projects that I will never get to but don’t want to admit defeat
  • Leftover drafts and other obsolete souvenirs of a project I did complete that took days/weeks of concentrated effort (that’s a chunk of my life sitting there!)
  • Slights and grudges I can recount from years past (the perpetrator has definitely moved on)
  • Equipment and supplies for a hobby I have outgrown
  • The less-than-perfect way of life I know rather than the unknown possibilities

In order to move forward, there are some attitudes, feelings, fears, and other baggage I will have to chuck out the window.

What is the “plastic pearl necklace” you are holding on to? What would you rather experience in its place? We can only love others as much as we love ourselves. Let go of that ratty, fake, stringy thing and truly value yourself by opening your life to the possibilities!