Yesterday I watched part one of “Oprah’s” two-day episode on hoarding. The show features a woman who lives in a 3,000 square-foot house, filled to the brim with stuff.
It’s not filth, but stuff. Everywhere. In every corner, everywhere you turn around. One of her grown sons hasn’t been inside the home, where he grew up, in five years. He’s mortified. You really have to see the episode to understand the severity of this woman’s problem. It’s tragic.
It takes a team of 100 people, 8 weeks to clean through the house — it’s no longer a home. The importance of a show like this isn’t for to be a voyeur, but to see how clutter can take over anyone’s life. Yours. Mine.
I’ve been a fan of Peter Walsh, organizing expert, since I first saw him on TLC’s “Clean Sweep.” He understands that’s it’s an emotional journey to get rid of stuff. We all have that junk drawer, or the out of control closet. For some of us it’s a garage, but for many it’s worse. I’ve seen episodes of “Clean Sweep” where families can’t get to the dinner table because it has so much junk on it. Or entire rooms with so much stuff in them that the room is unusable, it’s a storage unit.
My favorite part of Peter’s advice is that if you really love an item, especially those that contain sentimental value, then you must give it a respectful place in your home. He finds objects that people claim they can’t give away, but he uncovered it from layers of dust. Not respectful. It really makes you think. If it’s that important, it needs to be taken care of.
We purge items from our home about every 6 months. It’s an emotionally draining exercise, but gets easier the more we do it. I have to admit that we do it from necessity, not because I’m anxious to get rid of stuff. My house just isn’t big enough to keep everything that comes though the front door. I keep Peter’s advice in the back of my head so that I don’t loose sight of what’s important: I want a home, not a house full of stuff.
After watching part two, last night, I was wrong about the house not being filthy. It’s not that the woman was unkempt, but there was no way that house was livable as a clean space. In the end, they had to remove all the flooring, furniture and even the drywall because it was a health hazard. Mold had taken over and the house was a mess. I’m still amazed that two people lived in this house. It makes me really want to evaluate my “things” even more.