Compulsive hoarding is a mental disorder that is just beginning to be understood. As a hoarder, I have acquired things over the years with a specific purpose in mind at the time of the acquisition, used some of those items for their intended purposes, forgotten the goal for different objects, but now that I find that they have outlived their purpose in my life I am struggling to rid myself of those same things.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
We were able to install the rest of the crown moulding today. Feeling very good about that! We have gaps in a couple of places, because we didn't do mitered corners. Instead, we bought little corner blocks like these, because we were too intimidated to try to cut the right angles and such. The blocks we used were like the ones in the bottom two pictures. In retrospect, I think we could probably have done it, but we really like the look of the corners the way they are, so we're happy this was the route we chose.
The thought would be that we'd only have to make a straight cut, and push the moulding up to the edges of the blocks so we didn't have to do any intricate cuts. The only problem with this logic is that our walls and ceiling are so not square! As a result there are gaps between the wall and the boxes in a few corners and a few more rather large gaps between the crown moulding and the corner blocks. We'd measure. We'd measure again. We'd cut. It wouldn't fit. The piece would be too long. So we'd shave a little off only to end up with a gap in the end. We realized after most all of it was installed that it had to do with the corners being out of square, and if we slid them in at an angle we could have them match almost perfectly.
At least we figured out how to patch the gaps today. It took several cuts to get the right width, but we just cut some slivers of crown moulding until we got the right size to stick in place. Once it was smoothed over with a little wood putty and painted, you can't even tell where it was patched. Finishing things up with a little bit of caulking, and the crown moulding looks like it's been there since the house was built. Well...about a 10' section of it does. Can you guess what I'll be working on this week?
Our oldest came over today and helped out. She took the Christmas tree down and put the decorations away. The corner of the living room looks bare, though. It's the first it's been empty in 16 months. No. Between the flooding basement, sewer problems and illnesses I'm ashamed to admit that we had not taken the Christmas tree down in over a year. I am beyond thrilled that it's down now, though!
While we didn't get quite as much done as we were hoping for (the treadmill and the pull-up machine are still where they were when I blogged last night), I'm satisfied with what we got done. I'm actually quite motivated. I know I'll be able to finish up filling the holes with wood putty and the caulking this week on my own. If I can also stain the door before Saturday, we should be able to get that installed and finish the baseboards next weekend. We have to wait for the final cuts on some of the baseboards until the door is installed and the trim is up, but it's finally starting to look somewhat finished. We even hid the cable for the television behind the crown moulding and in a channel coming down the wall. I'll paint it the same color as the wall, and it won't be nearly as noticeable as an ugly black cable would have been.
I know it's supposedly a no-no to put crown moulding in a basement. It supposedly makes the room look shorter, but we don't see that at all. Our basement is only 7.5' tall to begin with, and somehow the crown moulding seems to draw the eyes up, and the ceiling doesn't feel as short. It's also supposedly a no-no to put anything but the short 2.5" baseboards in a basement. We say pshaw! We went with the 5", and it looks great! I'll try to post pictures when we're finished.
No. I didn't get the last few papers filed from the empty box. I was distracted by the work we were getting done downstairs. I will do it tomorrow for sure when I'm taking a break and getting reacquainted with my heating pad.
Please make sure to ask me, if I actually got them done tomorrow! I need the accountability! :)
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Got a couple loads of laundry done, the dishes done, and most importantly, we got the rest of the crown moulding put up in the workout room downstairs. (It's back spasming work, I tell ya!) We also finished getting the treadmill put together. At this point, we'll be able to use the treadmill, even though the rest of the room isn't quite finished. That will be nice.
Tomorrow, we have a big day planned. It doesn't sound like much, but it seems to take forever! We'll be filling all the little nail holes in the crown moulding and baseboards, caulk around the edges, and paint any part of them that needs it, so the patches don't show. Then we're going to get the mat down under the treadmill and put it in place, and clean up hubby's pull up machine thing that's out on the back porch and bring it downstairs. We're also going to try to cut some extra shelves for a thing we got for him to use as a bookshelf. I don't know, if we'll get to the point of rewiring the outlets and putting up the light fixture or not, but we'll have plenty to do, and we'll have a room that will be ready to use! We're both really looking forward to it!
I asked my husband, if he would mind me sharing this, before I started writing...
This morning when I went in to wake my husband up I decided to count the books he has on the dresser. He said he realized he feels like he needs to have his books around him-that he doesn't know when he'll need the knowledge contained in the books, and he wants to have it at his fingertips. There were 56 books on the dresser. He also keeps books in his work truck, on his work desk and in his locker at work. We're both hoping that having a floor to ceiling area to keep his books will help. And I'm thankful beyond thankful that books are his vice, instead of alcohol, drugs, porn or other women. :)
We're now going to spend some time together relaxing.
Me with my trusty heating pad.
Him with the remote control ... and a book. :)
I realized that I labeled some files that I'm not going to need, and there are more files that I'm going to have to label. Right now they just have little stickers folded over for tabs, because I have no idea where the little plastic doodads are that are supposed to be the tabs. I'm hoping to find them, as I get through everything in the study.
I had 5, count them FIVE bags of shredables spring forth from the box. "What are shreadables?" you may ask. To which I would reply, "Why they are papers that are bound for the shredder of course!" They take up much less space before shredding than they do after shredding, and the bags are somewhat heavy. I can get quite a few papers in a grocery bag! They are then carted off to be commercially shredded, because I honestly don't have the time to shred them all myself.
To keep myself from wanting any of the things back out of the shredables bag, I tear whatever paper it is in half or quarters. Not only does it make it less likely for me to get it out to try and save it (the taxes I spoke of yesterday are an exception), but it makes it easy to see at a glance that it's shredables and not trash. Some might say I'm on the verge of paranoid about identity theft. I resemble that remark.
I'm going to attempt to file the last little bit of the box tonight, but I'll be okay, if I don't get to it. Sleep is important, too, and I will get it filed tomorrow. No. Matter. What.
We'll be working in the basement tomorrow and Sunday trying to finish up, but we probably won't get it all done. We have to hang the rest of the crown moulding, patch any nail holes and paint over the patches, and caulk them. We still have to get trim for around the windows and paint and install it. We have to use the router on the doors, so we can install the hinges and get the doorknobs installed, and we have to put the final coat of paint on them.
Half of the basement used to be one room. We now have 2 rooms. The smaller one has 2 of the 3 windows that exist on that half of the basement. We decided to get a door with glass panels in it to let the natural light through the rest of the basement when the door is closed to that room. We still have to stain and install that door.
We also have to re-wire several of the outlets and put extenders on them, so they will reach the edges of the walls. Before the basement flooded last year, there was paneling on the walls. We put up drywall instead, and it's amazing how much thicker it is! So yeah. We have to make a few accommodations. After that, all we'll have left is to install the light fixtures.
Yep. We won't finish this weekend, but that's okay. We'll be making a major dent in things, and it will help towards dehoarding in the long run.
Yeah. I think I'll finish filing that handful of papers tomorrow. I've got a long weekend ahead of me, and I need all the sleep I can get!
Besides. The box is empty. :)
Thursday, January 28, 2010
So..my fingertips are splitting from working with the paper, my nose is stuffy, and my eyes are overly dry and puffy. Yep. I'm thinking there's still dog dander in this here room! You know, I'm really anxious and excited to get this all done, because when I am, we can clean the air ducts out, and I won't be having problems with my allergies/asthma then. I really do look forward to that!
I'm frustrated at not being able to get a definitive answer on how long to save my taxes though. I'd looked it up and most places said 4 to 7 years. When I started to tear some of the taxes up from the year we bought the house, I thought I'd triple check. That's when I saw something else that said tax records should be kept indefinitely. :::sigh::: I dug the pieces out of the bag of shreadables and put them back in the file. I won't tape them back together until I know, if I really do need to keep them, but I also won't put them in the bag of shreadables, either.
I figure I've got a couple of hours to work on this before I go to bed, so I suppose I should get going on it. I won't really see the progress on this once I'm done, because the drawers will be closed, but I'll see it in my mind. :) I have to get this organized in order to finish the rest of the paperwork in the house. It will give me some breathing room.
I'm ready to breathe easier - both literally and figuratively!
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
While taking the pictures, I heard myself making excuses again. That this, that and the other thing wouldn't be as bad, if only: I had help. I didn't live with 3 other people with hoarding tendencies. I had been well the last couple of years. I hadn't hurt my back. I hadn't been in such deep grief after losing my dad and my nephew within 5 months of one another less than 3 years ago just months after our youngest had a spinal fusion. If only.
And while there may be truth in each of the excuses, it doesn't excuse the mess I'm/we're/the house is in. I do have a couple of more pictures to take, but I already took the SD card out of the camera. I just can't look at them. Not right now. Maybe when I'm all done with things, but not right now. And I won't be posting them anytime soon, either. I'm not there yet.
However, I am elbow deep in a box of paperwork that's 18" x 18" x 24". Yes. It's a huge box, and it doesn't even touch the total amount of paperwork I've still got to sort. But I'm sorting it now, because I need to get the box out of here. It's slow going, but it's going. I'm over half-way done, and I will get through it tonight. It's already resulted in 2 grocery bags of shreadables, a half a bag of trash, and several newspapers to the recycle box.
I have to remember to not look at the big picture too often. It's a bit too daunting.
But I will keep my eye on the prize.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
I was on the phone with the IRS trying to figure out what I might need to do, when the gentleman asked me, if the IRS had already accepted our return. Well, the last I checked it had, but I decided to check again. They'd rejected it!! I'd accidentally transposed numbers on a Social Security number that I've known for years and don't even have to think about when I say it aloud. Very odd, since I'd double checked the return, but it worked to my advantage anyway.
I was able to correct that part of the return, put in the last little bit of tax information that I got in the mail today, and now I don't have to do an amended return. I'll take what I can get! :)
Now..off to do more laundry and see what I can find to donate.
Monday, January 25, 2010
I don't know that I could ever have a television show come into my house and expose me like those on the show have done. I also don't think I could clean the house and garage out in just two days, if someone were to show up and help me. I think I used to resist the thought of anyone helping me before, because I was afraid that they would throw something out that I truly did want or need.
I know. I know. That sums up what a hoarder is in a nutshell.
But I also know I have boxes upon boxes of paperwork that I need to go through. At this point, I'll only be saving paperwork that proves our youngest ran out of oxygen, birth certificates, and letters that mean a lot to me. However, it's all mixed in with bills that can be shredded, letters from people I haven't been in touch with in years and years, and things that I really don't need. I will have to sort through each box myself, though, because nobody else knows what I will be wanting to keep.
I've got the sorting thing down pretty well for the most part. I'm able to make decisions much more quickly than I ever have, and I'm making good progress on paperwork I've gotten through so far. I am hoping that continues, but we may have problems with our daughter's paperwork. Especially with our middle daughter who is developmentally delayed.
The last couple of weeks, she's been very needy. She doesn't typically whine, but lately it's plagued her speech. We could tell she'd been stressed, but we didn't put two and two together until we got ready to go shopping yesterday. Let me back up a bit...
From the time that she was tiny, she has LOVED paperwork! She would write a little something on a piece of paper and pile it up. She was only 2 when she, her older sister and I were staying with my parents when my husband was deployed. She made 'lists' of all sorts at my folks' house. She'd stack them up on the piano stool very carefully and grin from ear to ear with the most infectious grin you can imagine! She was SO proud of herself! Within days, the pile was several inches tall. By the time we left, because my husband had returned, the pile was a good 2 feet tall, even though Mom and I culled papers from the stack from time to time.
When she was about 4, my husband came home from work one night after everyone was in bed. There our middle daughter sat in the middle of the living room leaned up against a 5' tall, 5' wide pile of her things. Her bedroom was empty except for the bed and the dresser. She had taken every piece of clothing out of the closet and out of the dresser drawers. She'd stripped every bit of bedding off the bed. She'd taken every picture, shelf and nic nac off the wall, and she'd brought all of it and every toy she had in her bedroom and piled it in a heap in the middle of the living room floor. She even took the curtains off her windows and brought them into the living room. When my husband came in, he said she looked like Little Boy Blue fast asleep against the haystack, but she was grinning from ear to ear, once again very proud of her accomplishments and enjoying a Barney movie that she'd fired up.
I wish I could say that things have gotten better with her "piling", as we've always called it. It stresses her out to no end to get rid of things. She currently writes my husband several lists every single day of things she wants him to pick up on the way home from work. Every one of these lists has "COO" written with a circle drawn around it. She says it says, "Crunch", as in Capt'n Crunch. Lately, she's been adding her version of a "K" to the end of the of the "COO", because she wants him to buy cookies.
About once a month or so, he'll grab some "Crunch" for the kids or pick up some cookies, but it doesn't happen often. Still, she reminds him that she wants him to with several lists each day. It makes her feel so good that he has her lists, that he accepts them all. She is always so relieved when he remembers to take her lists when he leaves for work, and she's always distressed, if he forgets one. She always has a smile on her face when she tucks a list into his pocket or his lunchbox and walks away with a smile on her face - proud of herself that she got her point across.
I haven't been driving the car much this winter. I've been sick, and I haven't gone many places, so my husband has been running the errands. He let the trash build up a bit in the car, and he had enlisted our middle daughter's help in cleaning it out a bit before we went shopping yesterday. By the time I got out there with our youngest, the car was all but clean. However, there was still a little trash on the floor in the front seat. She was dutifully cleaning it up while stuffing the lists she'd given her dad, (and he'd left in the car), in her pocket.
When I suggested that they weren't needed anymore, she started to panic. She started to whine. She started saying, "No!" We were able to convince her that the were no longer needed by telling her that they were old lists that her dad had already used, and she'd already gotten the things she'd written on them.
It wasn't until yesterday that I really "got" that she's a hoarder. We knew that she piled. We knew that she collected. But we hadn't really considered that she dealt with getting rid of things like a hoarder does until yesterday.
Put into perspective, the last several weeks makes so much sense! Even though I'm ready to de-hoard and dealing with the changes well, she's not. I'll have to be careful and respect her feelings, so she doesn't get overwhelmed with all that's going on. I will do what I can to encourage her make her own decisions as to what to keep and what to purge. I'm hoping that by doing things one box at a time, that it won't be too sudden for her, and she'll possibly work through a few things herself.
This clutter didn't happen overnight. The process of getting rid of it won't be very quick either, but it will be worth it, and it will happen.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
I've decided to take before and after pictures, but I'm not sure when, or if I'll post them. My friend, Ami, had a good idea. She suggested that I take the pictures and just not look at them again until I'm finished. That maybe I'll be ready by then to face what things really looked like in my house. I like that idea. Maybe I'll be ready to post before and after pictures when I come to the end of my journey.
So my husband cleared off one of his SD cards for me today. I'll take the before pictures tomorrow and then label the SD card and put it away until I'm finished with my de-hoarding extravaganza. I think it will be best. I won't be stressed by not having before pictures, but I also won't be stressed with having them posted here before I'm ready.
Right now, I'm ready for bed. :) Sorta hurt my back with the triple back somersault the other night, so tonight, I'll try a belly flop instead!
Saturday, January 23, 2010
It had tons of storage. It was gorgeous. It was big. The last year or so, it made the living room look smaller and smaller. It made the room seem darker, and I think it added to a darker mood for all of us. So we decided to get rid of it. I put it up on Craigslist a couple of weeks ago at a price I knew we probably wouldn't get. A week later, I lowered the price by $50. Yesterday, a couple contacted me and asked, if we'd drop it by $50. We said yes. Today, they came by with $250 and a truck! Considering that it's almost impossible to sell entertainment centers now that flat screen tvs are such a big deal, we were very happy with that! :)
While they were here, we asked, if they could use a folding cot, since they have kids. We told them they could have it. Besides, the mattress would help protect the entertainment center on the way home. She said, "But weren't you going to sell it or something?" I told her again that they could have it. That we probably would have only put $5 or $10 on it, but I just wanted it gone. She could have it. She gave me $4 for it. :)
When we moved into the house, the home warranty ended up buying us a new stove, because the old one shocked me. We paid a $35 service call fee and got a free $1300 stove. I loved it! It was a side by side 40" range, but when the refrigerator went out on us a few months ago, we realized that the new refrigerators were too wide, if we kept our stove. So we sold it and got a smaller one.
When we were getting the entertainment center out of the garage, I noticed the range hood we'd purchased to go over the stove, because the old one didn't work, and it was entirely too small. Trouble was, we never installed it. We never had the money or the know-how to make it work, so it sat unopened in our garage. I looked up the model number on the computer a bit ago. Sears still sells the exact same model. Of course my next move was to call Sears and see, if they'd take it back.
The department manager is going to talk to a store manager and call me back. She did say that the best they would likely be able to do is give us a store gift card that never expires for the price it's currently listed. It did go down $54, but you know, I can deal with that. We wouldn't have a problem spending over $200 at Sears, and it would be better than taking yet another loss, if we have to sell it on Craigslist. I'm hoping she calls soon. :)
The night I found the Applebee's gift card, I also found the receipt for a Gentle Leader dog collar thingy. The receipt showed we paid $25 for it 2.5 years ago. Then I found out I was severely allergic to dogs, and we had to get rid of the dogs. :( I'd tried selling the collar on Craigslist for $18 several months ago. It didn't sell. So I told our oldest daughter that I'd split the money with her. Whatever she could get out of it, she'd get half. The best they could do was a $20 store credit. When I told her about the Applebee's gift card, she said she'd babysit for us for my half of the store credit. I can do that!
Hubby's on his way to Sears. They did a mock return without a receipt (I didn't have the receipt! I bought it 8 years ago!!) They had to go with the lowest sales price they had, which is about $65 less than we were hoping, but it's also been 8 years. And like I said before, we can always use a gift card up that never expires. We might have been able to get a little more for it on Craigslist than by returning it, but we may not have, either. It's not like there's a great need for 42" range hoods. If there was, you could buy them in the store and not have to order them! And $162 is better than nothing! Plus when you consider that we made $50 over what we paid on the entertainment center, it's pretty much a wash.
Today's been a good day. Between the gift card I found the other night, the entertainment center, the dog collar, the babysitting and the range hood, we have 'found' over $450 in just two days! And even better, we've got a lot more space! Oh! And I almost forgot! Got the taxes filed today, too!
Yep. Today's been a good day!
Friday, January 22, 2010
Finally got the paperwork with the losses we had when the basement flooded several months ago. I'll be working on getting things together for a claim now.
Went through several old gift cards last night. Called to check balances. Of course the were all empty. Except for the Applebee's card I found with a $20 balance! Now I just need a babysitter!
Met with the people who will be out tomorrow to buy the entertainment center. I'll start a bank account for the things we sell while we're de-hoarding. If we can keep from using it, it would be a nice reward for when we're finished with everything.
Feeling a bit like a deflated balloon tonight. Not because I didn't get as much done as I wanted today. Just because I'm exhausted.
Not too tired to do a triple back somersault into bed, though! Mustering up the strength now...
Thursday, January 21, 2010
I have a tendency to use things more readily, if they look nice, so I wanted to rid the box of the marks. I tried rubbing alcohol, and while it lightened the scribbles, it didn't remove them completely. I remembered that I had a sample of one of those little Magic Erasers which work wonders on things great and small and started to walk into the other room to get it.
I'm not sure, if it's the ADHD or if it's the curse of the 'middle age', but I took three steps and forgot what I was going in the other room to get! I had to retrace my thoughts. I didn't have to retrace my steps, since I'd taken so few, but gad that irritates me! I remembered right away what I was looking for, but it's such a pain to be so forgetful sometimes!
I refuse to make excuses for my house getting to its current state. Granted, a lot of it is situational, I'm sure. But I am afraid if I go down the road of saying that this contributed and that contributed to the mess that I'll fall into the trap of blaming everything else instead of my poor choices. So as much as I'd like to say, "I can't remember squat! No wonder my house looks like it does!!" I'm not going to. My house looks like it does, because I struggle with making decisions and letting things go. I have to take personal responsibility. I am responsible.
Things may slow me down, like the kids being ill, or my own illnesses or back injury, but I will not be permanently derailed. I will get this done. I owe it to my family. I owe it to myself.
On that note, I did get several boxes sorted last night. I'm working on more tonight. I'll be sorting more tomorrow when I get back from the doctor's with our youngest. She's been sick and/or feverish more often than not since she got the Swine Flu the first part of October. I'm looking forward to getting answers! I'm also looking forward to making some more progress.
All in due time.
Now. What did I come in here for?
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
As I write this, I struggle to keep my eyes open. The acrid smell of a self-cleaning oven fills the air, the fumes singeing my eyeballs and burning my throat. I hate using the self-cleaning option on my oven almost as much as I hate the fumes from the spray oven cleaner.
I should have waited until tomorrow to clean it. At least it wouldn't be quite as cold to have the window open and the fan turned out and on high. That's okay. I'll take the cold. I'll have a clean oven and drip pans. In fact, the oven itself wasn't super dirty, because it's not that old. The drip pans on the other hand had some stuff burned on. I didn't want it to get too burnt on to be able to clean, so I stuck them in the oven. We paid a little extra for that feature when we bought the oven. I mean how cool is it that we can put the drip pans in the oven to clean them and not worry about them turning color?
I've been working on sorting boxes again tonight. I'll have to post my total on my list tomorrow, after I know how many I've finished. Some of the paperwork is sort of hard for me to figure out whether or not it should go. Especially medical paperwork. It's been such a big part of our lives that it feels quite odd to throw it out.
For years, we had to keep all medical records. I'm hoping I still have some in particular for our youngest from about 13 years ago. I'm 99% sure I still have them. If I can find them, we will possibly have recourse for brain damage that was done as a lack of oxygen when her tank ran dry. That's on top of the genetic condition. If she hadn't been deprived of oxygen, she could potentially live on her own or in a group setting. That will never happen now.
So, even though it's sad/odd/frightening that I still have all that paperwork, I do have to say that I'm hoping I still have the paperwork we need to prove what happened to our youngest.
In the meantime, I realized tonight that I don't really need the insurance paperwork from dental work the girls had 3 years ago. If I really do need the paperwork, then I can contact the facility for records.
Now. If I can just figure out which bank statements to hold onto!
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I'm feeling accomplished today, but I'm dragging a bit. We've been sick again with some little piddly thing that seems to zap our energy, so I haven't been able to do as much as I've wanted the last few days, but no day has gone by totally unproductive.
Today, I got the cabinet I've been working on for an entertainment center almost finished. I lined the inside with some striped contact paper. I didn't want the inside to be dark. Spiders hide where it's dark, and I don't really care for spiders much. I especially don't care for them in my house.
The cabinet will house the kids videos. It will be nice to have a place to put the videos, so they can be immediately put in their proper place. I'll sort through them when I'm filling the cabinet, so we're not keeping anything we don't need. One thing at a time, right?
It will be nice to have the sawhorses cleared, so we can put another cupboard on them, and I can get it painted. It will be the other half of the entertainment area and will hold the television and games. I just need to get it painted. I'm hoping I can get it done before next week.
Even though they weren't physically cluttering things up, my email accounts were hanging over me and cluttering up my mind. I deleted 3 accounts today that I never use, and I cleaned the old emails out of a couple more. Thousands of emails. Some from several years ago. It was very freeing, and it didn't hurt my back which is always a plus!
I am trying to remember that all of these things are helping me reach my goal of getting the house cleaned out. That there will be some days that I don't see much physical progress. I have to remind myself that there will also be days that I'll be impressed at the physical progress I've made. I am happy with anything that moves me onward.
Mr. Jefferson had the right idea.
"Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude."
Good ol' Mr. Jefferson was a wise, wise man!
Monday, January 18, 2010
At least 75% of the furniture we had downstairs was ruined from the water. The company that was hired to help clean things out worked for 2 days and then didn't come out again until several days later. By then, several pieces of furniture mildewed all the way through and were ruined. We've been replacing things a little at a time.
We've done most of the rebuilding ourselves, and it's really coming together. We do still have to finish installing some of the crown moulding and the trim around the windows, but we're almost done. It will be SO nice to finally be finished down there! It's been hanging over our heads for months now. We will be basically starting with a clean slate.
The walls have been painted. The carpet installed. The treadmill's been taken downstairs. Other than 2 cupboards I'll be using in my craft area, a cupboard I painted for an entertainment center, and a bookshelf for my hubby's books, it's empty. Well..empty of permanent fixtures. We still have the table saw, the sander, and a couple of projects we're working on to finish the basement up on sawhorses, but it will be empty when we're finished with our projects. The sawhorses, cans of paint, sander, drill and saws won't be kept there indefinitely.
We have a huge pod on our driveway full of the things that were taken out of the basement. I'll be sorting through the stuff a box or two at a time instead of bringing everything in at once. It won't be as overwhelming this way, and we won't have to worry about the progress we've made down there being overshadowed.
Like I said earlier, we've been replacing things a little at a time. We've gotten most of the replacements from Craigslist, because we can't afford to buy new. At one point this summer, after having made Craigslist runs a few weekends in a row, my husband came home tired and a little irritable. He wasn't mad at me in any way, but he was tired of running around. He let me know in his own little way.
Him: Hey! I have a question for you.
Me: What's that?
Him: Is Craigslist closed yet?
We both laughed, but I got the point. We haven't gotten anything from Craigslist for awhile until today. Someone was selling solid oak shelves for $5 each, and since we missed out on them this summer, my husband picked some up today. We need them to make sure he has a place for all his books, and I need some for my craft area. But they're quality and aren't going to warp, and they'll hold up to the heavy use we have planned for them. They were a good investment.
I think we're done for now with Craigslist. I'll still list things for sale. I'll still be hanging onto any bit of money we make on there, but we won't be buying anything anytime soon. I'm even done window shopping for now.
For us, Craigslist is closed!
Sunday, January 17, 2010
On the plus side, it would be really nice to have cash in hand by having a gigantic garage sale this summer. We're going to have tons and tons of stuff to sell, and we'd potentially make several hundred dollars which we could really use. We'd still be able to get rid of things but see the reward right away. It sounds appealing!
The cons of a garage sale would be that we'd have to find a place to keep everything. That in and of itself is not a small feat. We'd likely have to set it up, work it, and tear it all down in the heat of the summer, and then when we were all done, we'd still have to haul the rest of it off. Plus, there's the possibility that I'd see something during the garage sale and want to keep it. But it's VERY tempting, because we could really use the money.
The pros of donating it one box/bag at a time to ARC or Disabled American Veterans is that it would be gone from the house, and I'd never have to think about it again. We'd get a tax deduction from it, and I wouldn't be tempted to pull something out to keep. The decision would be final.
The cons of donating it all is that we really could use the cash from a garage sale! We'd also have to wait until next year's taxes were finished to see any sort of monetary reward from it. And we'd have to get rid of it a little at a time.
I'm leaning toward Option B. As much as I'd love to have the cash from a garage sale (that we really could use, did I mention that?), I think it is maybe more important for us to see the empty space that the items used to inhabit. We will see physical progress, and that will do more for our journey than cash would. I think we'd feel like a physical weight was lifted from our shoulders to have it gone.
I did fix a notebook up that says 2010 Donations on the front of it. I figured I could list the contents of the boxes and bags that are donated and date them, so I have the information when it comes tax time next year. I'd also be able to just staple the receipt to the page(s) of donations, and I'd be ready to go. I wouldn't have to keep track of receipts in a box. It would be organized. It would be easy.
So my goal is to have at least 2 things -whether they're furniture or boxes/bags of donations ready to be dropped off each week. I've been working mostly on paperwork this week, so I don't have my 2 things right now. By next weekend I will for sure. I may set aside some things that I know I will be able to sell on Craigslist or eBay, but only if they'll bring a decent amount of money and make it worth my while. If they don't sell, they'll be donated.
I feel better having made my decision, but I still wouldn't mind hearing ideas on how you might handle it. Feel free to let me know! :)
Saturday, January 16, 2010
That being said, I fear I fall quite short of the mark in his parents' eyes. I have for the last 25 years. I never have and never will measure up as far as they are concerned, and I am honestly okay with that. I am all my husband needs or wants, and that's really all that matters. Still, it hurts when they are judgmental or full of condemnation toward me.
The other night, they called my husband to say that they'd be driving through town. They live several hundred miles away from us, and they don't visit often. They wanted to come to our house to see how we were progressing on our basement projects after having been flooded last Spring. He said that he didn't want to put me in that sort of position, and that we could meet them somewhere for lunch, but he didn't want them coming to the house.
He said his mom started kind of going off on me. That she basically blamed me for the entire mess we're in, and that they knew he had nothing to do with it. He got a bit irritated and told her that it was NOT all my fault. There are 4 of us living in the house, and all 4 of us have our own hoarding or OCD issues and add to the mess, and it's not fair to put it all on my shoulders. While I was saddened that he had words with his mom, it made me feel so good knowing he has my back and always has.
Honestly, I'm not sure how he turned out to be such a wonderful person with the condemnation he had growing up. Instead of an 'atta boy' when he got good grades, he got an 'it's about time'. It didn't change after we got married, either. I have heard only one time from them in the almost 23 years we've been parents that we're doing a good job. Once.
Needless to say, I'm not going to be sharing this blog with them. I know that in their own odd way that they do love me, they love the kids, even though they don't like being around them for more than an hour or two, and they love my husband. But I also know that I can't handle the stress and/or condemnation that may come from it, and we'll invite them to our home when we're ready.
I'm just glad my husband is the man he is. They obviously did something right! He's an amazing person, and I'm glad he's ours!
Friday, January 15, 2010
Today, I'm feeling quite accomplished. I've sorted through several things. Mostly paperwork, but I have tons of paperwork through which to sort, and it's a start, so I'll take it! Any dent I make at this point is better than no dent at all!
I called Goodwill today and asked, if they accepted prescription glasses. I knew I'd never seen any on the shelves, but I also didn't want them trashed. Sure enough, they accept them and better yet, they don't throw them away. Once they accumulate enough of them, someone from the Lions comes down and picks them all up to distribute. Good! It saves me having to track down anyone from the Lions and the glasses will get to someone who can use them!
I got even better news when I called the company in charge of our health savings account. A health savings account is a benefit offered by some employers. The employee contributes pretax dollars to a fund to pay for medical expenses throughout the year. It saves the employee quite a bit of money by not having to pay taxes on it, and it's nice to be able to pay for medical expenses that come up throughout the year.
When we opened the health savings account several years ago, we were told that we needed to save every receipt, so we could prove the charges, if we were ever audited. Knowing that this is paid with pretax dollars and knowing that you must save your tax returns for years in case the IRS decides to audit you, we assumed it was the same with the health savings account. So I made a call to find out how many years we needed to save the receipts.
The gal I spoke with had no idea, and I'm sure that a bit of what I was trying to say was lost in translation, because English was not her native language, but she was very sweet. Still, I asked to speak with a supervisor, because I wanted clarification. When I told him that I have a pile of receipts/faxes/confirmations/etc. from 2007 for purchases on the HSA, he was a bit taken aback! He said, 'Why do you have receipts from 2007 when it is 2010??" I explained that I'd been saving them in case of an audit, and I didn't know how long to save them. I told him that I knew that with the IRS you must save all your paperwork for several years in case of an audit, so I assumed it was that way with the receipts.
He assured me that it is NOT the case, so I can get rid of 3 years of receipts/faxes/confirmations/etc!! I'm SO excited!! He said we only have to hang onto each receipt for a matter of a few weeks or so. So I'm going to get one of those expandable files with the different months marked in them for the receipts. At the end of the 2nd month following the month in which the receipt is dated, I'll purge that month. So I'll purge January's receipts at the end of March. It should be long enough for us to keep them 'just in case', and it will take up MUCH less room than saving them for an entire year (or three!!).
So tonight, I'm dancing on the inside! My life just got a little simpler!
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Our two younger daughters are severely developmentally and physically delayed. They have a rare genetic condition that resulted in roughly 2 dozen hospitalizations for our middle daughter and right at 3 dozen for our youngest. I basically had round the clock nursing responsibilities for several years, and I never got enough sleep. Our youngest was so sick that she was essentially a 4 year old infant weighing in at 21 pounds and not able to sit on her own. I was doing daily tube feedings, breathing treatments, wound care and diaper changes that in a hospital setting would normally be split between several nurses on a daily basis. This was my normal, and I still had 2 other children, a husband and a household to care for.
Most people looking at our lives thought we were so strong, and I suppose in many ways we were. We had no choice. Our children depended upon us, and they were our number one priority to be sure. When we got the news that our second daughter was going to have numerous health issues along with unknown developmental struggles, Mom thought I was joking or not dealing with things, because of my reaction. After crying for a very short while, I pulled myself up by the bootstraps and said, "Well, we can't put her back! Time to get on with life!"
While it was my way of dealing with things at the time, I wasn't really dealing with anything. I was simply stuffing my feelings. I realized a few days ago that I had never allowed myself to admit that it has been excruciatingly hard at times. I had been stuffing my feelings all these years, because I was afraid that admitting it has been extraordinarily difficult was saying that our daughters have been a burden to us and that I didn't love them.
Although things have been formidable for us over the years, we have never considered the girls a burden. Loved ones aren't burdens. And we couldn't love any of our children more than we do to this day. It is physically impossible, and we have been blessed beyond measure by all of them.
Finally being able to admit things have been trying at best on good days has given me such a release of stress. In fact, when I went to the doctor today, my blood pressure, which is normally very good, was 18 points lower than typical and even better than good. I feel the best I have in years, and the most optimistic than I have in . . .shoot. I can't even remember! I have a peace that I am going to make it.
In the meantime, I think of something our second daughter said for years during difficult situations. Because she had watched us move and carry box after heavy box during our move, she knew it was beyond normal. It was hard! And when things were demanding for her she would say, "The box is heavy!" followed by a really big sigh. When one of us were having a particularly rough day, she would sympathetically ask, "The box is heavy?"
Yes. The box is heavy.
It's also been worth carrying.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
I think he had something there!
Several well meaning friends have offered advice. I know that they're only trying to help me. I really do get that. But I have to attack this hoarding issue in my own way, and the extra advice overloads me mentally. If I don't take someone's advice, I really do hope they don't take it personally. I love them and the fact they care enough to want to help. It's just that this is something I must tackle on my own.
I've had problems getting started today, but the night's not over!
I did go through my medications and purged what was outdated or that to which I'm allergic. I need to get my medicines organized again. It really helps me to remember to take all the necessary ones and to take my vitamins. I have been disorganized in this area for the better part of a year, and while I've been taking my prescription meds, I'm sure the lack of vitamins has taken a toll on my health. The expired medicines are in a bag to be dropped off at the recycling center that takes them. I have so many, and I am just not comfortable tossing them in the trash. It will be on a master to-do list, and I look forward to the day I can cross it off once they've been delivered!
Yesterday, I worked on getting rid of the cabinets. The thrift store that said they'd be out to get them Monday never called. When I called Tuesday, the woman I was supposed to talk to had already gone home by noon, so I had more calls to make. I found out that one of the national thrift stores doesn't pick up in my zip code no matter what is being offered. Another one said they'd come out this morning and look at the cabinets, but they didn't know for sure, if they'd take them until they saw them. So I listed them on Craigslist for free. Just for fun, I put an invisible counter on the page, and I was shocked to see that it had 1242 page loads within just a few hours! I have to admit that the best part was seeing the empty driveway when they were gone!!
I think I should have put a coat on when they came over to pick them up last night, though. A sweatshirt wasn't quite enough, and I woke up this morning with a gargantuan cold sore. I think it stressed my body, because I got a bit chilled. Thankfully, there are medicines that help with cold sores, and sleep always does a body good, so I'll be trying to make it a somewhat early night. I do have to get some laundry done, but I will go through at least one box before bed.
Who knows? Maybe I'll get through more than one. ;o)
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
So today I made the choice to give up moderating the most demanding of my groups, even though it's not horribly busy. I've been on the group for several years, but it's time for me to pass the torch or delete the group. I can live with either. I just need fewer things pulling me in different directions. I feel relieved at having made the decision.
Today has been somewhat productive. I found homes for several things today, and I'm waiting for someone to come pick up the cabinets I mentioned the other day. If they aren't picked up tonight, they'll be picked up by a thrift store tomorrow. It will be nice to be rid of them!
Last night, I was able to sort through several small boxes and save only 5 or so papers from all of it. That was nice. Granted, 2 boxes were full of packing peanuts, but they're gone now. Someone picked them up this morning, and they're out of my hair. Other things were sorted into a 'shredables' box, newspapers or trash.
Physically, I'm exhausted. I think I'm coming down with something again. Mentally, I feel the best I have in a few years, even though so much lies ahead. I've made my decision. I am going to beat this thing.
To quote Albert Einstein, "If a cluttered desk signs a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?"
I will never have an empty desk, nor will I have an empty mind. However, both of them will eventually be clear!!
Monday, January 11, 2010
I see the value in minute things. Things that most others see as trash I see as what I can turn it into. In many ways, it's been good, because it's saved us money over the years - money we didn't have, because I couldn't work outside the home due to our children's health issues. In other ways, it's been nothing less than disastrous.
It's obvious that my creativity is in overdrive whenever I see a situation that needs a solution. Here's an example that happened today:
Our daughter came home from school. Her coat had ripped out when she tried to unzip it. I'm not sure how it happened, but she's stronger than the average girl, and I think she got frustrated and put a little too much strength into it. At any rate, she tore the seam in the lining, and the innards were showing.
She was quite upset, so the first thing I did was told her where to find the other coat just like it. It still had the tags on it. I'd gotten it for 75% off a couple of years ago several months after we bought the one she's been wearing. I was going to sell it on eBay, but I was very thankful I hadn't taken the time to put it up for auction yet. So she was very relieved when she knew she'd have a coat for school tomorrow, and we wouldn't have to go out to buy one tonight!
Next, I took a look at the damaged coat to see, if it could be mended. It could. Normally, I would not have tried to mend it immediately. I would have put it off, but I am really wanting to change things, so I mended it with some fusible tape, and I had her try it on again. The mending was fine on it, but the zipper was shot. At this point, I had a decision to make.
I know most people would just automatically toss it in the trash, but I'm not most people. I had to weigh the options. Because I can use a sewing machine fairly well, I knew I could replace the zipper, if I wanted. I also knew that I'd likely never get around to it, as can my mending pile from over 20 years ago attest! Yes. I still have some mending from over 20 years ago. I don't know where it is, but I have it. I couldn't bring myself to throw out something that was perfectly usable, if I only took the time to fix it. Somehow, I thought I'd have more time than I do.
Next, I thought about how I could make a pillow out of it for her. She really would love it, and it would be soft, plus it would have her team's logo on it. I got stuck here in this thought process for awhile. I mean..she really would like a pillow made out of it. No doubt about it! It would be very easy to do. I could give myself a time by which to have it sewn, and get it done, but I know me. If I didn't have it sewn by the deadline, I'd probably extend the time limit I'd given myself, and it would live somewhere in our house for several years.
A couple of weeks ago, I'd have probably saved the coat to make a pillow. But would I actually make it? I don't want to see it days, weeks, years from now calling my name and making me feel guilty. "Hey Judy! Didn't you promise to make me into something usable? Why do you go back on your word like that? Why are you so worthless? You always make promises to yourself you can't keep! What a loser!!"
I have a lot of things calling my name. A lot of things calling me "loser".
I'm done. I'm worth more than the junk I have accumulated in my house.
I threw the coat away.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Also got the gigantic cupboards outside. Actually, my husband and daughter did, but I did my best to help. They so wanted to take a sledge hammer to them, because they're so incredibly heavy, but they didn't. They're professional cabinets from a business of some sort that have a pretty laminate around the outside. I'm sure someone will put them to good use, but it won't be us!!
I have an amazing husband and daughter for which I'm eternally grateful! I will be making a couple of calls to get rid of them. If the person who was slightly interested in them is interested still, then I won't have to make the second call. If I make the second call, it will be to a thrift store to come pick them up to use or sell. I just want them gone! One way or another, they'll be gone by Friday. Earlier, if I have any say in it!
It may not seem like a lot to have accomplished, but I feel good about it. It's progress, and as long as I'm making a forward progression, I will be successful in this!
My husband and daughter are very supportive. My husband even asked whether or not counseling for all of us would be beneficial, so we can get this under control and keep it there. I think it will help. I'm not sure when we'll be going in, but it will happen.
We want to love the life we live. :)
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Other times, I've either made the list too detailed, and it takes as long to write the list as it does to finish the task, or I find I have problems, if I'm not detailed enough. I think what I may try to do is break it down to rooms, and try to just get one room finished at a time. Granted, there will be lots of lists for each room, but it may not seem quite so intimidating, if I can get one room finished and have a visual reminder of what I've accomplished. Still, it's likely going to take a year or more to get the house where I want it to be.
I know in a general sense what needs to be done. I think I'll be getting back on my antidepressant. I went off it for awhile due to some health issues I was having. The antidepressant wasn't causing the health issues, but going off the meds gave my body a much needed rest. I find I think a little more clearly on it, and I am still battling depression a bit. Plus, I'm fully expecting to have a problem parting with certain things as I get to them, and I don't want it to waylay my progress. I'll be talking with my doctor about it next week when I see her.
My progress probably won't be that great to start with. I have a lot of irons in the fire right now, but I'm going to try to do a little each day. I haven't decided yet, if I'm going to take before and after pictures or not. I probably will, but I don't know yet, if I'll share them. At this point, I think I'm a little too chicken!
My husband and I have talked a bit about what I'm going to need for support. He promised he's not going to threaten to pull a dump truck up to the garage and just start pitching stuff in. It sounds so stupid, but I get very anxious when he's threatened that in the past. I am so afraid I'll lose something important like pictures of the kids when they were little, or our wedding pictures, if he does it. His promise helps. It takes quite a bit of pressure off.
I didn't do a lot today but start the blog, list some things on Craigslist to sell and make a list of things to get done tomorrow. We have some big cabinets downstairs that are super heavy that need to be taken outside. I won't be able to do a lot as far as the lifting, but I will do every thing in my power to make sure they're gone tomorrow. They've been hanging over our heads for awhile now, and I've been going back and forth about whether or not I want to keep them. Indecisiveness is the bane of my existence!
I'm hoping to do more tomorrow. I did make a hard decision today though. Just a little baby step, but it was still a step, and it was still hard. I threw a paper Christmas stocking our youngest made in school. It had beads she'd glued on it, and some little pieces of puff noodles, but it was bent and torn in a couple places. I second guessed myself several times, because I know it would really hurt her feelings to know I'd thrown it out. It really bothered me, but I also know that it will be better for all of us in the long run, if I can get rid of these things that are holding me and my family back from living the life we want to live. Eventually, we can make a new stocking (out of felt, so it doesn't wrinkle or tear!) and make new memories.
I desperately need to make this work.
I believe I'm one such person.
While I don't believe my house is nearly as bad as those spotlighted by the show, I fear that I could easily slip to those depths. However, saying that is like a person justifying being overweight by having the mentality of "at least I'm not as fat as that person". I am that person, and this is my journey through the darkness.
My goal is to rid my home of the unhealthy clutter I've accumulated. For whether or not it's affecting my physical health (although I believe it likely is - the stress alone can't be good for my health!), it certainly is affecting my mental health. In the days, weeks and months that follow I will detail my progress here, so I have a record of where I've been that I may never go that way again!
I feel if I have the accountability of those of you who may read this, as well as the support of my loved ones, I can and will get through this. It's going to be a long road. It will start one item at a time.