Review: 'Through the Shadowlands’ describes Julie Rehmeyer's ME/CFS Odyssey
I should note at the outset that this review is based on an audio version of the galleys and the epilogue from the finished work. Julie Rehmeyer sent me the final version as a PDF, but for some reason my text to voice software (Kurzweil) had issues with it. I understand that it is...
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Hoarding, minimalism and dealing with personal belongings

Discussion in 'Lifestyle Management' started by L'engle, Dec 17, 2014.

  1. L'engle

    L'engle moogle

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    This is a topic which seems to occupy my mind a lot. My family are natural hoarders and I definitely develop sentimental bonds to inanimate objects. I've gotten rid of a lot of stuff down to the level where it fits in one room, but the room is quite full. When I look at the pictures of minimalist environments in magazines they look so calming and conducive to a healthy frame of mind and ease of living.

    I guess for me the sentimental attachment to various things was overridden by the feeling of being overwhelmed about having to deal with things. I know that if I got much sicker I wouldn't have the ability to deal with my things myself. Boxes of papers and books particularly seem oppressive, since they are too heavy for me to lift myself without strain and also with brain fog I only enjoy the lightweight fictional stuff. Clothes take up more volume but they are easier to to just throw in bags and get rid of, plus they have the ability to keep me warm.

    Where do others stand on the balance between hoarding and minimalism? If you've done a large scale purge, do you miss your old stuff? Books, clothes, decorations, papers?

    This just a topic of fascination for me. I'm not looking for specific advice but it is neat to get others' perspectives. I'd like to attain a state where my personal belongings make me feel happy and free, not tied down. :balanced:
     
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  2. SDSue

    SDSue Southeast

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    I underwent several purges as I left a large home for a much smaller place and shortly after became an empty nester. I don't miss any of my things from my previous life. I got rid of books, holiday decor, half my kitchen things, 2/3 of my clothes (by the time I'm well they'll be far out of fashion), etc. I'm down to mostly the necessities and it feels really good; less bogged down.

    I've always been rather minimalistic, but I find that it's getting harder for me to purge, as being disabled on limited income means once i get rid of something, I fear I may not ever be able to replace it.

    A friend of mine shared some portions of the international bestselling book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up" and it helped me greatly in purging clothing.
     
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  3. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1 Senior Member

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    I have A LOT of stuff but dont really view myself as a horder as I do use my stuff if I can get to it (except things I cant do right now but would do if I wasnt so sick eg my leatherwork tools and stuff). Getting to stuff is an issue for me right now as when I moved house last year, I still havent had the health to unpack it myself and much is still in boxes, hou I do now have an offer from someone from the Salvation army to help me to unpack, the lady thou can only come one a week and its on a day where I usually have something else on. So who knows when that will be done (medical appointments and other very important stuff has to come first).

    When I moved my brother-in-law was on at me about hording so I forced myself to get rid of a few things. This ended up causing problems for me as I ended up having to go out and rebuy those things as I ended up needing them eg I got rid of garden stuff eg my few fence droppers but then when I moved the trees here all started to fall down and break so I needed that stuff. Same with the other stuff I'd got rid of, sucked having to go and buy it again esp when its very hard for me to go shopping.

    So in my case cause I do end up using my stuff, it was a bad move trying to scale back (esp since the only reason I did it is cause another had been on my back).

    I also got rid of some of my books due to him and over a year later are now missing those books :( and wish I never did get rid of them (I treasure books and learning).

    One thing I did hoard but only cause I wanted to make sure I still had it if I improved some as I thought I may not be able to afford to replace if I did, was my horse gear, saddle etc. Im now ready thou to part with it all but only cause Ive given up on hope on getting well anywhere in the next few years or so. Im lost hope there.

    Anyway, I suggest to ask yourself, "Is this truely useful to me?" "Will I use it again?" if the answer is probably no or you cant think of where you would use it, I suggest to get rid of it.

    I do think clear houses free of things all over the place with everything in a special place are quite beautiful and give off a nice light and free feeling. I once dated someone who kept his home like a show home.. I wished my house was like that at the time. In my head, I aim to have my home like that and would if I wasnt sick.

    Books, I'd get rid of them if you cant nicely display them in a book shelf. I dont think books should be kept in boxes where they are never really looked at, if you cant treasure them, maybe another would (I really have a thing about books even if I dont read much now due to my health). I have huge bookshelves covering completely two walls.

    I do keep just a few clothes which arent my current size but that is only cause I dont keep a stable weight and every few years I'll either drop several sizes or gain several. My weight is all over the place. So I keep a few of my best things, favorite things in sizes Im not currently in but got rid of the rest. I have currently a plastic container which is 45cm heigh and 60cms long and in that is all these clothes of all different sizes Ive been in past 8yrs where Ive varied from a size 7-8 to a size 16. My bra size changes 2-3 times a year, so I probably have about 7-8 good bras in that container. (I dont keep anything like knickers which no longer fit, nor would I ever hoard anything which has gone out of fashion).

    i also wont keep any presents given to me which I wont use or that cause issues for me eg my mother kept on getting me for xmas some collectable figurines. I hated that as those things you need to dust and I dont need extra work and it just wouldnt be right to not be displaying them.. so I got rid of them.

    My elderly friend is a shocking hoarder. He's selling his second house right now and soo very stressed over what he will do with the stuff in it as he doesnt want to get rid of the stuff in it. he has much beautiful stuff in there but reallly does he just plan to have it all just in boxes never used? He also had his shed full of stuff on that property he was hoarding too.

    He's talking about building a room outside of the current house he's living in, just so he can store the things from the other house :rolleyes: (poor thing, Im not being very supportive about that, he's driving his wife crazy with all the stuff). He like myself has a bookshelf in that house which takes up a full house wall. Unlike myself, he dont believe in getting rid of any present another has given him!! He has 70+ years of presents given to him even those from when he was a child. I couldnt help myself, I laughed when I saw some of the stuff he was keeping due to that, real junk but obviously cause "it was a gift" it holds great value to him.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2014
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  4. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1 Senior Member

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    That's exactly the issue I had, a well person got me to get rid of some of my stuff and when I then needed it, I had a lot of trouble replacing it. I really regret listening to the other person. Im a quite practical person and other people have not a clue of what or what not I'd myself use.
     
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  5. GracieJ

    GracieJ Senior Member

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    This has been a tough area for me, because I like keeping things that remind me of happy times, I have several hobbies, and frankly, I am not dead! I had to move 14 times in eight years, and stubbornly have hung on to a lot of things I suppose my children would have preferred not to help move over and over. I felt bad when anyone would say I had a lot of stuff with that tone that tells you they think it is too much. I know I still downsized with every move. Finishing long- overdue projects always helped.

    I stubbornly hung in, for several reasons. Why others expected me to just have a suitcase or two is their misconception. It was very interesting to invite my daughter and son-in-law over for dinner when I finally landed in a permanent situation. Everything was unpacked, and surprise, I had a sweetly decorated, fairly stream-lined and nice home. This son-in-law looked around and quietly said, "I get it now."

    Others do not see the long silent empty hours. I have years ahead of spending a good deal of time alone. Yes, I want my things and my projects. Of course!

    The only thing I have that counts as hoarding, really, is an unusually large collection of paper memorabilia dating back 35 years. Ironically, moving that has been respected, though it was the most bulky and difficult to move. I am now in the process of scanning it into the computer and writing down the stories that go with it, and it is shrinking. I hope someday it is appreciated. If not, that is okay. It has been a happy thing to go through and relive the years.

    I am still a "family" of one, a woman who raised a family, has several hobbies and interests, keeps enough kitchen wares around to cook decently, and loves musical instruments and antiques. I do try to cut it down on a regular basis so I am not overwhelmed with cleaning or maintaining my home, and face it, a studio apartment only holds so much before you go a little nutty!

    If something happens to me, yes, I guess it would take a while to clean out... it took eight of us a full day to clear my minimalist father's rest home apartment of furniture and personal items. Because so much would just be piled into a truck and off to Goodwill, I keep a loose leaf binder marked "Read Me First" organized to direct my daughters to the items most important, and if the rest were hauled off or sold, so be it. I figure I am here another 40 years, so maybe I will downsize as time goes on.

    The sentimental items I am trying to go through now and photograph, and after about six weeks, if I can look at the photo and feel the same way as with the item, the item goes. This really helps.

    It would be so nice to be minimalist.... sigh. Too many fun things, not enough time.
     
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  6. GracieJ

    GracieJ Senior Member

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    The oddest part of this is going through the apartment and seeing how many items survived the move from a house in 2002. Actually, I have very few things from then. That was a new perspective! If it went sometime in the last 12 years and I haven't missed it, what else can I purge?? I hope to have all sentimental things photographed, all my books digital, all photo albums digital, with only practical items and minimal decor left behind. Is it possible? Um, not sure, but working on it.

    Feeling happy and free in one's space sums it up well. Thanks, @L'engle !
     
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  7. ahmo

    ahmo Senior Member

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    A topic that's near and dear to me. I've also had the experience of finally throwing something out, only to find that next week I need it. i come from a family of hoarders, have always tried to be mindful of balance. But I no longer have energy for all those decorative items that once brought pleasure. And so many household items will never be used. I have someone in mind to create a garage sale for me in the not-so-distant future. I've been getting rid of books for the last few years, no longer have much of any attachment to those that remain. And as for the papers of my former life...many have gone, the rest can follow. For the first time in my life I'm ready to have a minimalist living space. :balanced:
     
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  8. beaker

    beaker ME/cfs 1986

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    I think there is a difference between hoarding and saving. Where the line is I'm not quite sure. But it is a difference in attitude I think-- and in healthy living space.

    I just wanted to say Tania, that I think it's a good thing to keep your saddle and riding equipment. It's good to have hope of possibilities of getting better.
    Again, there is a line-- the line between desperation to get well and the hope of getting well. If you keep it for hope, and you have room, I say keep on. My 2 cents : )
     
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  9. SickOfSickness

    SickOfSickness Senior Member

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    I have a serious problem getting rid of things. I often regret donating or trashing an item, even if I gave myself a long waiting period to change my mind.

    I see a strong appeal in being a minimalist, but I am a mild hoarder. I doubt I could be convinced to give up more things by any of the books.

    However I have finally started to get so upset at myself for the amount I own. It is too hard to access items because they are buried beneath other boxes. I also need to give up a lot before my next move, so I must find ways.

    I am balanced toward my kitchen and other areas of life, and even tend toward minimalism in some areas, but I am bad in numerous others. I am horrible with starting and stopping new hobbies, and like Tania said I will just rebuy things if I gave them up.

    One of my biggest problems with getting rid of items is the money and energy I put into an item. I know that sometimes it is a sunk cost, but many items have retained some value. I would gladly sell the item, since I feel I can recoup the money and energy that way. But the illness means I can only sell a few items a week, at the most. If only I had a healthy friend, or if I were healthy.

    I think it's harder due to illness and it provides me with some excuses. We are already having difficult lives, so why we do have to put ourselves through this loss of possessions? I know that reason and my other reasons (too many to write out) are not good enough excuses, but I struggle with all of this very much.

    I plan to take photos of some items and let them go, but I'm sure that near the end of my life, it would be nicer to hold an object instead of peer at a photo. I just can't afford the energy and money and space to keep the items.
     
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  10. ukxmrv

    ukxmrv Senior Member

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    We live in a succession of rented flats and that makes it complicated. None of the flats ever have enough storage space for ordinary needs. It seems as if the UK has stopped putting closets and built-in storage into homes. That means that so much of my stuff stays in boxes and I simply cannot get at them if I want to use them. It could be argued that I don't need them but these are things I would be using if I could.

    On top of that my other-half ran his own business for a long time and we ended up with masses of paperwork that needed to be kept for x number of years. To make matters work I also have boxes of paperwork on my various attempts on legal action and trying to obtain benefits. All of which I go back and refer to. On legal case took 6 years and the paperwork associated with that was immense. It would be a good idea to scan the lot of it but I'm simply not well enough to do it.

    I'm not well enough to sell things. Have put items on Ebay and then crashed before. I have black bags of things to go to charity shops but I am usually not well enough to get them there and none in my area collect.

    One thing that I have changed is that I rarely read paper books now as I have a Kindle. I was allergic to the paper and chemicals as my books aged anyhow so that is a relief. All my paper books have gone now into recycling, to friends as they came to visit or a charity shop. Took a long time.

    We sometimes needed to put things into storage when we moved home and last year we did a big purge and sell of the contents of one locker. Really regretted after some of the things we sold.

    It's my clothes that I find hard to get rid of. I still hope that one day I'll be well enough to wear a beautiful ball dress and other items I have bought over the decades. Then there is the mending. I can't physically keep up with the buttons that need to be sown back on or small rips mended. That goes into a pile as well.

    Maybe I need that book?
     
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  11. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    Things going digital does make it all a lot easier.

    Future generations are going to be bemused by the massive amounts of storage some properties have.
     
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  12. SDSue

    SDSue Southeast

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    Hope springs eternal. As pessimistic as I often feel about ME/CFS, deep within me is a hope I'll someday be able to use things again.

    People don't understand this. But to list, package, mail, follow-through…. it's too much and I can't count on myself to be well enough to complete all that.

    It really helped with purging clothing. It sounds absolutely silly, but the author asks you to hold each item, see if causes a happy emotion, and if not, thank that item (or God) and send it on to be a blessing to the next person. For some reason, it really did work. Somehow it gave me permission to let things go.
     
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  13. GracieJ

    GracieJ Senior Member

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    I stopped mending when my kids were small. Seemed they would outgrow clothing before I got the mending done. Venting this to a friend one day, she responded,

    "Oh, I darn socks. You darn sock!" Mimes throwing it away.

    I have never mended a thing since.
     
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  14. GracieJ

    GracieJ Senior Member

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    This is what taking snapshots of items does for me. If I feel nothing when I look at the picture, the item can go. If there is a feeling of nostalgia that the picture alone brings, I let the item go and know I can live with an image to bring back a memory. If the feeling is stronger, I know the item had better stay right there!

    So glad there are good ways to break oneself of keeping too much.
     
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  15. belize44

    belize44 Senior Member

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    I can relate to that! I love looking at post and beam houses on line. They look so spacious and breezy with the essential furnishings and plenty of open space. I was doing a good job of purging my house of extra junk, then I got married and guess what? He's a pack rat!
    I did a large scale purge before I left my home state for Florida. I found that it was easier than I thought, when I applied some newly learned Feng Shui principles. Each item that I looked at, was examined for usefulness (meaning would I likely use it again,) then for sentiment; did it make me happy when I looked at it? Or did it bring up sad or anxious memories?

    There was a knitted afghan and a ceramic pitcher that I had held on to for nearly 20 years. I realized that a cat that had since died, used to cuddle on that afghan. I now had another cat. The afghan had also belonged to a deceased former roommate. So out it went. The pitcher had also belonged to the deceased roommate. I hadn't gotten along with her, and had ended up with a few of her things when her family cleaned out the apartment. There was no compelling reason to hold on to items that brought up sad memories. So out they went. Old greeting cards that I had held on to for so long that I no longer recognized the names on them? Out they went, too.

    Books are harder to part with, so I usually decide if I loved it, or just enjoyed it but am not likely to want to read it again any time soon. These got donated. Since I collect books, I still have plenty of books. Papers are now examined for importance and relevance. Junk mail is either composted or just shredded. Important papers are filed in my file cabinet with labeled folders. And believe me, it took years to learn how to deal with things this way!

     
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  16. L'engle

    L'engle moogle

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    Wow, such great responses! Thanks all.

    A lot of people mention the fact of keeping things we would definitely use if we were well, things with happy memories attached. The advice for healthy people always says to get rid of things to do with hobbies that you aren't realistically going to participate in again but I think it is different for us. We need a link to our happy times and to hope. In many ways I feel like part of my belongings is a 'museum' of who I was before I was sick and who I am now. On the other had there have been some things where I felt owning it was just taunting me, reminding me that I would never be well enough. So it really varies by whether something gives you a good feeling or not.

    Tania I can really see why you keep the horse equipment. Hard to imagine anything more associated with freedom and life!

    I ended up getting getting rid of a lot of fancy vintage clothing that was in my closet. The way I made myself feel ok about that was to get a few basic things to wear around the house that are practical but that I also feel good about. It is hard to get rid of pretty clothes and be left with only flannel pyjamas and I think that was holding me back. I'd like to make a robe that I feel really good about lying around in. I made an attractive thermal shirt by handsewing because it's something I can do just sitting in my bed. I realized I didn't have much of an association with the vintage clothes anyway because I had never worn them that much. Now the old cotton hoodie with worn sleeves, that is also hard to get rid of! :D

    I'm mixed about books. I did get rid of a lot of my university books as they jut didn't feel 'fun'. I've kept some old picture books from childhood and those make me very happy and take up little space. I have a couple of little bookshelves in the room. Tania, I also didn't want my books in boxes.
     
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  17. Valentijn

    Valentijn Senior Member

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    As an American living in Europe, the attitude toward "storing" items in Europe is completely different, and I think it's a lot healthier. There usually aren't spare rooms - at best, there will usually be a TINY room which doubles as a small office and single spare bed. And even when people do end up with spare rooms, etc, such as after their children move out, the rooms tend to stay uncluttered.

    Basically we don't keep anything which we just "might" need at some unlikely point in the future. Have we used it in the past year or two? If not, might as well throw it out. Are we going to use an item on a regular basis, or is it more cost-effective to rent a piece of equipment every few years? It might be better not to buy it in the first place.

    Gift giving is quite a bit different and rarer over here too, so people aren't accumulating trinkets and such from friends and relatives on a regular basis, which they would then feel bad about throwing away due to the personal/sentimental connection. To indulge my American need to give gifts, I stick to edible/consumable items (nice chocolates, exotic beers, or fancy coffee) with very very few exceptions.

    Our only storage is a small shed, and two medium sized closets, one of which also contains the hot water heater. We keep a few tubs of books under the beds, but other that that it's all stuff we use regularly: luggage, tools, cleaning implements, and a bag of Christmas decorations.

    Purging unused items can be brutal, but you're really just putting them out of their (and your) misery. Then you have space which you can use constructively, and where you can easily access the items which you do use frequently. I also find that the neat and uncluttered space just feels nice and calming.
     
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  18. Strawberry

    Strawberry Senior Member

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    This is a great thread! I am (not very successfully) going through this myself, and I really like the "holding items to feel its sentimentality, then thanking it if you choose to get rid of it." I am going to try that. :) THINGS must now make me happy, or why have them?

    Another angle on the horse tack and saddle, we all need the hope and the dream of getting better and being able to do something again. But can (sorry I can't seem to find who to tag) you maybe borrow a horse and saddle when you get healthy enough to ride again? Or rent? Riding again would be a very liberating feeling, but the work involved with owning a horse could set you back again. And the new horse may not fit the old saddle... I would vote to get rid of it since you now feel you can, but find someone/someplace that you can ride when you are able. That way selling or giving away the saddle won't feel like losing hope of ever riding again.
     
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  19. beaker

    beaker ME/cfs 1986

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    Another issue w/ cleaning things out that I have not seen ( or remembered? ;-) mentioned : neuro-cog issues.

    I have trouble reading and processing and memory,etc... I have trouble w/ decisions in general b/c things swirl around in my head. Too much fog , short term memory deficit ( did I decide to keep this or get rid of it ? I can't remember ( even when in piles, cause I get mixed up about them and put the opposite stuff in piles and it all gets mixed up at times)
    When I do have enough energy to go through a file or box of stuff -- it can be majorly overwhelming to my brain.

    I cannot pack a suitcase to go away on my own I get so confused. Deciding a permanent stay or not is more so. I have hired help in the past. But the main person that I had found to help was injured and couldn't work anymore.

    Right now I am too sick to do any of it. Mostly papers are an issue. Years of medical stuff.
    That and I live w/ family, so everything I had for living on my own is boxed up. Much gone. But some saved for that someday of being much better and in my own place again.
     
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  20. L'engle

    L'engle moogle

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    @beaker Exactly. That's why I get overwhelmed too. What looks like a box of papers to a healthy person is a huge waste of mental energy to me that is multiplied by the number of times I sort through it. When I got rid of my university papers all I could think was 'there is a stack of paper I never have to carry or waste hours deciding on again'.
     
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