The Ugly Truth.

In the past 3 weeks I have unloaded more than 10 very large boxes full of clothes, shoes, toys, home decor and crafts.  And I predict that in the next 30 days another 10 very large boxes will leave my home with more trash, donations and things for sale.

At the end of 2012 I came to the difficult and factual realization that I was a hoarder.  A disorder that I believe came from seeing how my father hoarded many things and "TO DO" projects when I lived with my parents.

Just to help you truly understand what hoarding is, I found this excerpt here, and thought it was exactly what I was going through just a couple of years ago.

Hoarding is the compulsive purchasing, acquiring, searching, and saving of items that have little or no value. The behavior usually has deleterious effects—emotional, physical, social, financial, and even legal—for a hoarder and family members.
People hoard for many reasons, among them the belief that their possessions will be useful or valuable in the future, have sentimental value, are unique and irreplaceable, or because they can’t decide where something goes, it’s better just to keep it. 

Although I never looked through our garbage thinking my husband might've thrown away my magazines, or ran out of living space, I did avoid social interactions, felt the need to stay home around all my stuff and began to isolate myself with my things.  Which are just a few of the beginning symptoms of becoming a hoarder.

In 2013 I made a conscious decision to be #hoardfreein2013 and immediately put myself into downsizing mode.  I got rid of a ton of stuff that I was not using like makeup, craft supplies, clothes, shoes, even hair products.

The kind that you purchase because you read the reviews, but it didn't quite work on you, even after a couple of uses.... but you spent that money already and didn't want to toss it, so you figured you'd give it another try in 6 months (when the weather changes), but you never got around to it...

You know what I mean because you probably have a basket right now tucked under your closet or bathroom sink waiting to be looked at again.  I know I do.  lol.

These are the beginning stages of becoming a true hoarder.  These were the symptoms I found myself developing after giving birth to Giovanni, and this is what I wanted to avoid.

I unloaded tons of stuff from my home and in 2014 I continued with the #hoardfreein2014 movement because I felt I still had too many things.

And as I sat here looking for organizational tips by watching some room tour videos for the past 2 days, after having moved into a new place 3 weeks ago, I came across many thought provoking clips that have left me sad, bewildered, humbled, ashamed, worried and feeling the need to share my story.  I also came across some haul videos; and what used to prompt me out of my PJs to head to the stores to shop, now gives me immediate anxiety.

The feeling of being overwhelmed and surrounded by endless craft supplies... now makes me want to downsize even more... i feel sick to my stomach over how much money we waste everyday on things we'll never end up using.

I am not here to judge or belittle or get snarky towards anyone who has accumulated many things.  The fact is that making purchases to improve your life and to decorate your home and to upgrade your style is all awesome and fun and cool and exciting and wonderful.  That's not what I am talking about here.  I am talking about weekly/daily shopping to the point where your home is so overstuffed and so cluttered that you don't have easy access to the things that you fell in love with 3 months ago, purchased and never used.  I'm talking about shopping to fill a void or get over a heartache, or take your mind off problems.  I was there and I wasn't happy, even with ALL MY THINGS.  The instant gratification of shopping and getting and bringing home was temporary.  The need to buy 4 lamps and 7 pens and 15 stamp sets was fun because I was able to save money with coupons, but I wasn't really making any use of these things.  And sure you can save those 15 stamps til next year when the value of them go up, and sell them at a profit, but that is probably not likely and you'd have to store them for all that time.

The more I shopped and filled my house with things, the more isolated I became.  I was ashamed to have company.  I was embarrassed at all the stuff I had that looked cluttered, because even though I tried to stay organized, there was just too much stuff to keep it functional and neat.  The more merchandise I bought, the more I stayed home and didn't really live.

So I'm writing this blog and sharing my story in the hopes that it will help someone, who is on their way to consumerism.  Who finds themselves trapped in a spending whirlwind and doesn't know how to be selective, or say no or just save the money for a rainy day.  I want you to read this because I wish I had read this sooner.  Like in 2007, when I started to craft and all I did was collect things and things and more things that eventually made me need more storage to keep those things, and once I finally got it to something that pleased me, I found myself buying more things because the seasons and styles changed, and I JUST HAD TO HAVE everything I saw.  I had to have it because everyone else was getting it and I didn't want to feel left out.  Or regret in 2 months when I would actually come to use it, and not have it on hand.  So I kept shopping.  And the more I shopped, the more storage and cubbies and bins I needed.  And the more cubbies I purchased, the more space I had to store more things in to.

What a continuous ugly cycle I was in.

I was in over my head.

I was stuck with 290 baby boy stickers and 314 ribbon spools and 978 pieces of 12x12 pattern paper, some of which were doubles and triples.  If I even used 12% of all that, in the last 5 years it was a lot.

Now that I have more or less an idea of where I am headed creatively, and what my strengths are, I know what I need to focus on.

I was the type of crafter that wanted to try everything.  I felt like, "well, I can do that too", which led to spending an other $300 on a new craft that I probably used $20 of and had to sell it for $100, losing $180 in the process.

Now, when I think about what I want to do and what I want to spend money on, I ask myself really tough questions, and force myself to be honest.

1 - do you have something similar already?
2 - are you going to use it within the next 30 days?
3 - do you really REALLY need it?
4 - can you live without it or will it keep you up at night?
5 - is there something else you want or need more, that you'd be willing to give this up for?

These questions help me be extremely picky and tough when it comes to consumerism.

I want to shed light on this growing epidemic.  It's just as bad as anything cancerous that's living in our skin cells.  It's unseen.  It goes unnoticed and it's eating away at our wallets and our emotions.

I want to make a difference in my generation (30s - 50s), and I want to be an example for those who are stuck.  For those who are afraid to face reality.  For those who hide behind things because it's easier than talking about what's really going on inside.  I want to share my story and open a dialogue with anyone looking for a way out.  With anyone looking to start making changes towards a clutter-free life.

There were a few books I read (some free) through Amazon Kindle that helped me on this journey.  I encourage you to search for those "clutter-free" and "simple living" titles and make some time to educate yourself on this subject.  It's a harsh reality that I had to confront and at this point in my life I am so excited about getting rid of the clutter.  About organizing.  About making space for the things that I do value and that I do love.  Imagine being able to do what you love, have fun with your family and not having to spend so much time cleaning and organizing everyday, just to keep up with the amount of things you have collected?  That's where I strive to be.  I'm not there yet, but by the end of this year I would have achieved that goal.

So far I was able to eliminate 50% of our things, and I am more happy now about living, about making new memories and about documenting all of it and being an inspiration to others.

I won't be giving up my crafty addiction entirely, but I will be focusing more on what I absolutely love to do and what I love sharing.

Soon I will blog/vlog an update to my craftroom, which I now call my craft loft... lol.  It's a small space that I absolutely LOVE and I am very grateful for.

Til next time, I hope you are encouraged, enlightened and spend your week going anywhere, but to a store to shop.  Spend time with your family and take photos, so you can use up your goodies.

I love you all and value you dearly.

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