What to Do With Other People's Stuff

We all have those leftover things that we just can not seem to throw away, from a child's first art project to a strange gift from a favorite weird aunt. There are hand-me-downs, 'the good furniture' from deceased relatives, household items from those who moved, freebies sent through the mail, impulse purchases; the list goes on and on. The problem is when we have such a problem getting rid of such things that the home is overwhelmed by 'stuff'. Here is a new diagnosis for the pack-rat syndrome: Hoarding.

The cases presented on the television series "Buried Alive" are so extreme and the people so obviously mentally ill, that the rest of us pack-rats breathe a sigh of relief as we tell ourselves "well, I thought I was bad, but those people have a problem ". As if that excuses our own hoarding tendencies, we go about our lives feeling better about ourselves.

Check yourself with these questions:

Do you find yourself talking about the lack of space?

Are you tripping over things in the bedroom or other rooms?

Do you have multiples beyond three of items that last a long time?

Are you keeping paperwork from thirty years ago?

Is it impossible to keep your home looking neat?

Have you been renting storage more than six months?

If you have answered yes to any or all of these questions, you are a pack-rat and in danger of becoming overwhelmed with stuff. Either that, or you are on the road working and have no idea when you will be settling down again-and do not want to get rid of your favorite things. You would still likely be a pack-rat, without before putting things in storage you really examined everything and got rid of whatever is not irreplaceable or something you absolutely love.

Spring is a great time for passing the old stuff on to other pack-rats, as evidenced by the popularity of garage sales. Redecorating is another great time to get rid of the old and bringing in the new. The good news is, there is always someone who can use your old stuff and probably someone, somewhere, is looking for exactly what you have. eBay is full of things people need to get rid of and there are now people who will take your stuff and put it on eBay for you. Those entrepreneurs are making a good living out of helping others pass their items on to those who want them.

Most people just do not have fascinating enough lives to have all the stuff they have collected. By fascinating I mean having a lot of different talents and abilities that require a stock of raw materials to create with. Many people just work and go home to watch TV, maybe read or use the computer, and go out to movies and social functions. None of that requires a whole lot of 'stuff'. I am still amazed at one woman who had the neatest house I have ever stayed in. Whatever she was not using at the present time was discarded. There were a few items from her grandkids but other than that, not much other than furniture. Even her kitchen was sparse by my standards. My gourmet cook side had apoplexy from trying to work in her kitchen.

For those who shivered at the mere idea of ​​living in sparse surroundings, consider the art of feng shui, which preaches the more Zen model of décor, to allow the chi (energy) to flow smoothly through a home, bringing health, peace and happiness . For those of us who are so fascinating that it has a strangle-hold on us, I have the perfect solution … closets, lots of well-organized closets. It works and it also allows for the more Zen-like decorating that I prefer. You do not have to go through life without what you really love. Just figure out that that is and dump the rest.

© 2010 Dr.Valerie Olmsted All Rights Reserved