Confessions of a would-be hoarderMy daughter is coming to spend a week this summer. I can barely wait.
By: Judith Liebaert, Superior Telegram
My daughter is coming to spend a week this summer. I can barely wait. She’s decided to take me up on the cooking lessons she decline as a teenager. I’m sure we’ll be tackling all of her favorites — broccoli and cheese stuffed meat load, seafood Alfredo, chicken with rice bake, and chop suey hot dish. It’s important to note that in her cookbook, as a proud Wisconsinite cum Minnesotan, it is always hot dish and never casserole.
In return for bestowing her with the magic of the family recipes, I am enlisting her help with a project that I’ve dabbled at for so long it’s becoming a second job — purging and reorganizing.
My attempts to rid my house of the clutter are only creating more chaos. Too often, I am distracted from my purpose. I get bogged down in the minutia of categorizing to the point that nothing has a place and everything is misplaced. Or, I simply become lost in a vortex of nostalgia and accomplish little more than reminiscing
Take a decade’s worth of magazines accumulated from subscriptions to half-a-dozen home and garden titles. Tucked into baskets, cubbies and bookshelves throughout my house, they were taking up too much space in our cozy cottage, where storage is at a premium.
Yet, each time I tried to rid myself of these magazines I’d end up paging through them instead. Last winter, while getting my fix of gardening ideas for this summer, I realized something. Year-by-year, the monthly themes of any given house and garden magazine are nearly identical.
It was then that I was enlightened with (what I think) is a brilliant idea. I saved a small, mixed batch of the oldest issues from each of my favorite magazines, donated the rest and did not renew my subscriptions when they came due. When the urge to gather new ideas for my gardens or find an interesting way to redecorate a room strikes, I reach for one of my trusty, old magazines.
Several corners are turned down on pages with ideas I thought I’d try . . . three, or five or ten years ago. I never got around to most of the projects, but I still like many of them. This clearly illustrates my proclivity for procrastination over inspiration.
The whole magazine thing might also point to a bit of a problem with hoarding. This is where my daughter comes in. On two recent trips home, I asked her if she could go through a few boxes and bags of things I’d packed up from her room. Okay, to be honest, it was four trash-can-sized bags of stuffed animals and two large boxes of miscellaneous memorabilia.
The first time she dove into two bags of stuffed animals. She left with one bunny that fit in the palm of her hand. The second time she released the rest of the plush menagerie and kept some of her mementoes — about as much as would fit in a cereal box. Everything else was disposed of or donated.
Throughout the process of sifting through honors awards, semester projects and artwork, she continuously questioned me, “Why did you even keep this?”
I’ve never witnessed such fortitude for releasing things no longer necessary, useful or beautiful; which is exactly why I need her help.
If I put my daughter in charge of clearing my clutter, I’m sure our little home will have space to spare. I don’t know if I’m brave enough to give her cart blanche in my closets, but if I do, it would rival any episode of What Not To Wear — where hosts Stacy and Clinton will ruthlessly eliminate a fashion victim’s entire wardrobe before giving her or him a cool $5-grand to spend on new attire.
One year out of college, my daughter is doing well to purchase her own fashion ensembles and certainly can’t bankroll mine — so I guess, at least some of my clothes, will have to stay. But if I plan on keeping that box of mementos from my high school days, I’d better get it out of the closet and stash it in the trunk of my car until she leaves.
Judith Liebaert was raised in Superior and now lives in rural Douglas County. She blogs online as the Mad Goddess™. Send your comments or story ideas to email@example.com.