Sunday, May 18, 2008

This Apple Didn't Fall Far from the Tree

Sally Allen, Founder and President of A Place for Everything, presents a free seminar at Capabilities on June 5 at 10:30. (See Events to learn more and RSVP.) Sally has a most fascinating job as she gets invited into people’s lives to help them sort through their treasures, make room for what’s next, and ensure that loved ones are considered. In this seminar, she introduces you to Right Sizing, and offers some tips for everyone who loves “stuff.” Sally offers courses on Right Sizing as well. Read on for one of the typical situations Sally often finds herself in. If you love stuff and have too much of it, tell us about it here. To contact Sally, please email her.

A month or so ago we received an apprehensive phone call from a prospective client who was having a life altering change in her thinking. She was nervous, she was excited, and she was challenged. Her family was coming for Christmas and did she have a secret surprise for them!!

We will call her Betty. Betty had just spent an entire year culling through her mother’s home that no one in her family had been allowed to enter for 12 – 15 years. When her mother passed away and Betty was allowed to turn the key and open the door, she realized the why and the magnitude of the why.

The scene was apocalyptic. The narrow channels leading from the entrance to the rest of the house were lined on both sides with 5-foot high piles of stuff and probably “treasures” hidden in among the accumulated stuff. Betty wondered where her mother slept, how her mother ate, and what her mother was feeling in this environment. Betty was shocked, but also realized that she had been raised in a smaller version of this environment, and that she was a close relative to this phenomenon. Without going into the details of the hoarding environment and the full year process of elimination and preparation in order to settle Betty’s mother’s estate the upside is the beautiful part of this story.

When Betty would take a break and come home for some R&R she saw it, got it, and felt it. "It" being the same tendency for hoarding that she inherited from her mother. When Betty phoned us it was with such passion that she said, “I saw it, I went through it, and I will not do this to my children.” Can you help me?

We began the downsizing process the very next week. My team of two worked with Betty one room at a time. We are on our sixth session and have about four more to go. It has been such a pleasure and experience to work with Betty who is so determined to make the change and is doing so with much enthusiasm. We have taken at least 5 bags to Good Will and 30 garbage bags to the curb, and many trips to the recycle center. I asked Betty, “What is it like for you to have so much uncluttered space?” She admitted that it was uncomfortable at first, but every day she was allowing herself to absorb the space and allowing herself to enjoy it. Betty was and is totally committed to this process. This is what I love about my profession. This is what gives me so much joy when I see our clients, feel it, get it, and understand it.

Hoarding is a sabotaging disability, which can be overcome bit by bit, with understanding and determination. We do not expect Betty to make a complete overhaul, but we can certainly help her take small steps to get where she wants to be. I would love to be the fly on the wall when her family arrives for the holidays and realize what a powerful gift she has given them.

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