Thursday, June 16, 2016

Make two inner voices, instead of one.

Several talks about stuff and messages I give myself about how my stuff reflects who I am have reminded me the way I deal with self-hate has evolved quite a lot this last year. The most helpful thing for me is to remind myself that loving myself well is (for me) more about respect. I say and do things to myself I would never want anyone else to say or do to themselves, because "I need the hard truth," or

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

(Un)fashionable Me

Over the last 30 or so years I've dipped in and out of fashion (I have a love/hate relationship with sewing and mending/modifying). Sometimes I like to be cutting edge, sometimes I like being purposefully out of fashion, for the last five years I mostly just wore jeans and nondescript t-shirts. But continuity has been a linchpin of my looks - wearing a dress for ten, even twenty years in different ways, cutting it in two to make a top or skirt when another part is damaged, that sort of thing. I still held on to vintage or unusual clothes I'd had back when I lived in Hamtramck, and wore them sometimes to class at Boise State University; but I mostly stopped wearing them when I left Idaho. I didn't want to stand out. I wanted to not draw attention to myself. I wanted to seem more normal, more responsible, more hire-able, more like my old boyfriend's friends,

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Our possessions define, portray, and heal our mental illnesses

I've been giving some thought to this subject lately, for personal reasons as well as thinking back over all the people I've worked with through the years. I've written before about how PTSD from an earlier trauma resurfaced when I experienced other loss. It turned ownership of family things into a kind of obsession for me: I could not let go of objects that reminded me of love I once had (or wished I had) and they became "holy objects" even though not one of them was "valuable."

I cringe when I remember screaming at my then-husband for breaking a teacup

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Story of Stuff

Here's a short movie that gave me much to think about today as I am organizing closets. Thinking about waste helps me keep focus on how to help people understand what to save, what to buy, and what to recycle - and how to find the right folks to trade with. We do a lot of re-purposing in my house (broken jewelery gets pooled and remade, books are passed all around the family, clothes get taken apart and re-imagined for someone else or sent along to the thrift). How do you feel after you watch it?

Monday, May 2, 2016

Why I don't watch shows about hoarders

When I describe what I do, people sometimes enthusiastically say "Oh, I watched that show Hoarders on TV" and then they launch into gory details about so-and-so's house. I kindly but firmly interrupt and say "I don't ever watch those shows." Well, honestly, I hardly ever watch TV, but even if I did, I wouldn't. For me, rarely do I ever meet someone who doesn't actively seek me out to help with a mess. I don't look for the work, it finds me. I don't ever want to work for someone who doesn't personally want to change. I also find train wreck media in general low and well worth avoiding; it lowers my tolerance for others and lowers my ability to be compassionate. I don't need (or want) to say 'at least that's not me.' I have too many dear friends (not to mention myself) who struggle every day with stuff issues, no way am I going to point and stare. Here is what I say next.

Firstly, I don't even like the term "hoarder," especially when it's overused and little understood. Hoarders don't want to give any of their things up. Clutterers and creatives are overwhelmed and lack organization, and would start somewhere if they could figure out where, or find the energy or time. Sometimes I think it's my job to come in and plant a flag