Wednesday, January 11, 2012



Happy New Year to everyone.

The start of a new year is a great time to de-clutter, figuratively and literally speaking. A time to cast off the old and start afresh with the new.

I am a clutter collector from way back. I figure why throw anything out; you never know when you might need it. I inherited the hoarder gene.

“Waste not, want not” was my mother’s motto and she lived by it the whole of her life. Maybe it was because she lived through the great depression of the 1930’s and World War 2, that she would use and re-use, save and squirrel away stuff. Our house was never untidy, because most of the hoarded items were well out of sight. 
I should have learned my lesson after my dear mother died about 20 years ago and my sister and I had to clear out her house. To say it was a nightmare was an understatement. It took weeks. My mother had kept receipts from the 1940’s, even her World War 2 ration book. And speaking of books, she had hundreds of them. Then there were the ornaments, pretty little knick-knacks that reposed on every shelf or level surface in the house. Boxes of china. Well, you get the idea.

Now you would think that after all this trauma and angst, I would have dashed home and gone through my own cupboards.  I didn’t, but I did take a lot of my mother’s stuff with me.  Well, how could I let it go?  All those little treasures.

My mother-in-law passed away, same story, I kept a lot of her things too. I was a hoarder.  It came as naturally as breathing or eating.

Well friends, retribution did come. The youngest of our sons finally left home, so hubby and I decided it was time to downsize. We bought a smaller house, and put our larger house on the market. “We’ve got a lot of stuff here, we’ll have to get rid of it,” hubby says.

Over my dead body. “No, we won’t do anything rash,” I said, “we’ll put it in storage, which we did, and it wasn’t easy, took us several weekends. So, my house was partially emptied and ready for the pre-sale inspections.

A week before the auction of our house, my husband had to have heart by-pass surgery, so I had to go on with the sale alone. After the auction and hubby’s successful operation, I had to start packing, because when he came home he couldn’t do anything for eight weeks. I really hit the panic button because we had a short settlement. 40 days to clear out all our stuff, that of my mother and mother-in-law (that I had kept, and shouldn’t have). Well, it was a nightmare. I did most of it on my own.  I don’t know how many trips I made to donate all these “treasures” to the second hand thrift shop (we call them Op shops here in Australia.  They are run by charities to raise money to help the less fortunate).  And I did help the less fortunate - big time.  The Op shop manager must have thought I was Mother Teresa re-incarnated.

It was terrible. I cried because I had to give away my ‘treasures, mum’s treasures and my mother in-law’s treasures’. Worse still, was the time it took to pack them and deliver them to the Op shop. 

With the clock ticking, I had to be ruthless – and I was.

If you are even contemplating moving house, start to get rid of your surplus stuff early.  In fact, don’t collect it in the first place.  A lady once told me that if she didn’t wear a dress for a year, she was probably never going to wear it again, and she got rid of it. Smart lady. Wish I had such courage.  I still cling to my favourite dresses, hey I might lose weight and they will fit me again???

The moral of this story is -  don’t hoard. De-clutter as much as possible, because one day you will have to sort it out, or your children will have to sort it out.  

The same goes for your writing.  If it isn’t working, discard it. Be ruthless. Start all over again if necessary, but never ever give up.

I am multi-published with Whiskey Creek Press and the Wild Rose Press.


Jannine Gallant said...

I come from a long line of hoarders... YIKES!! Maybe I'll clean out a closet today!

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Margaret,
I did the same when we downsized. What an ordeal! Hope you're still un-cluttered

Alison H. said...

I've moved 9 times since I was married and have tried very hard to take your advice and not "collect" too much stuff. My biggest weakness is my daughter's toys and books. She'd better have a little girl someday and come take all this stuff out of my basement!

Jerri Hines said...

I have to admit I don't keep much around except for my kids stuff while they were growing up. My sister on the other hand has stuff since she was five...

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi ladies, thanks for dropping by. Sounds like we are all in agreement, we collect too much stuff. But it is hard to discard it. Ah all those memories.... See I can't help myself.



Laura Breck said...

Great story, Margaret. I could feel your angst and your urgency.

Hubby and I moved from 11 acres with a barn to a downtown condo. We had a heck of a moving sale!
Our philosophy now is, when we bring one thing into the house (clothes, tschatchkes, tools) we get rid of one we haven't used in a while. Our local Goodwill loves us!