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Aisles of Piles

Posted by Julie_MI_Z5 (My Page) on
Thu, Nov 24, 05 at 7:25

A couple years ago I was inside a neighbor's house. They were apparently re-doing a room somewhere and had things stacked in the living room. Or so I assumed.

This week I was in the house again. The living room looks about the same. There are aisles of piles in the house! Stacks and stacks piled on the floor, in the neatest manner you could imagine, with aisleways through the house. How those tidy stacks remain standing with kids and pets in the house is a mystery to me. It's like a maze. It took every ounce of effort I could muster to look at the neighbor and not stare at the piles and try to discover how they were constructed (some looked like just piles of newspapers, some piles of magazine, piles of books, piles of ???).

In any case, if this neighbor EVER mentions anything about housecleaning in the future, I'm telling her about FlyLady.

P.S. In desperation this week, I asked DH to take 2 huge bags of "stuff" to the Salvation Army. He agreed, then asked if the bags contained only clothes. This was a trick question... DH has a problem with getting rid of anything we might "need" someday. He hates getting rid of anything that is "still good". I admitted to packing up some old mini ice cube trays and some cookie cutters we never used, but nothing else, LOL. If DH had his way, we would also be living with aisles of piles.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Aisles of Piles

A couple years ago I was inside a neighbor's house. They were apparently re-doing a room somewhere and had things stacked in the living room. Or so I assumed.

This week I was in the house again. The living room looks about the same.

Maybe the re-do isn't done yet? I know the progress I've made on my remodel has been excruciatingly slow, and there is some stuff that's been in the "wrong" place for many months....


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RE: Aisles of Piles

Steve,

We're talking YEARS here... maybe five? I honestly think that's just the way they're living. As cluttered as it is, I really was impressed that all the piles were so tidy. My family would have wrecked the maze ages ago. LOL


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I was mostly playing devil's advocate. :-) It's taken me so long to get through my remodel that I've decided to hire it out just to get it done. Having this mess around for years just would do me in.


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Sadly, part of our house has been at least partly a mess for years. DH & are mostly DIY our remodel, so it's been very slow. It's difficult to make progress on a significant remodeling project when both of us work more than 40 hrs/week. However, we don't have stacked piles with paths to get around the house.

I knew a lady like this.I had been told about her house, but it was hard to imagine until I saw it. There were literally stacks of magazines, newspapers, & boxes everywhere with aisles through them. Like you said, Julie, a maze. I only saw part of the house, but my MIL told me that the entire house was like this. She had some sort of problem. Her kitchen cabinets were overflowing & the extra stuff sat on the counters. She saved things like Cool-Whip containers & there were hundreds of them.


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Kittiemom, it sounds like we were in the same house! There were stacks of newspapers & magazines & books, etc. It really WAS an effort not to stare!

I would have never guessed her house looked like this (I've known her for years) and there is a good chance maybe she just doesn't know how to get started. Definitely a good candidate for FlyLady.

Meanwhile, there are stacks of scrapbooking supplies downstairs on my hobby table waiting to be put away. I need to do that this morning, then this afternoon I'll switch hobbies and get out the sewing machine. I do LOVE these extra days off!

Julie


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RE: Aisles of Piles

When it gets to that stage, I think it's past Flylady unless the person is truely motivated to change.

Here's an interesting link on the psychology of hoarding stuff. The problem is actually divided up into different levels, with reasonings behind the behavior.

Gloria

Here is a link that might be useful: psychology of hoarding


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Gloria... OH MY GOSH! I was mesmerized by the website.

As for motivation to change, I do think there is a chance she doesn't know yet that it is "OK" to let go of clutter. These are VERY NEAT piles, and there is an obvious effort at organization involved. And it's a very clean looking maze. Wish I could show you pictures but I'm sure that would be rude to go ask! :)


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Boy do I recognize myself! I am so embarassed . I have clutter in every room, there are from one to four piles in each room. A pile of clothes in my bedroom, a pile of miscellaneous papers on a dresser. The worst is the dining room, rarely used but there are four piles: one of books, one of bills, one of Christmas gifts to be wrapped, and a fourth of magazines. We moved into our house in 1981, yes 24 years ago, as a "fixer-upper". We had several remodeling projects done. Piles moved from room to room. When we guests came in, I would excuse the clutter by saying "Sorry about the mess. We're painting the bedroom/ wallpapering the bathroom/ expanding the kitchen. . .whatever" Well, I am all out of excuses. Our next remodel is a complete demolition and remodel of the upstairs bathroom, supposed to start within a week. And it's our final job in the house. It will be very expensive and there's really nothing left to do. NO MORE EXCUSES!! When that's done, I will re-join Flylady and finally get rid of the piles. I was not kidding anyone with my excuses. I am a "sidetracked sister" and I need to get back on track and make my home beautiful and comfortable for myself and my dear family. No more aisles of piles!!!


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Jannie, if you rent a dumpster for your remodel, just chuck a bunch of the piles into it. Especially the magazines. You'll never miss them.

Gloria (who was raised in a house of very neat and dusted piles)


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RE: Aisles of Piles

Janniee,
You don't sound like you have enough piles to make a maze. You just have enough piles to be normal! LOL The piles I saw really did make aisles, as they wound around the room making "walls" to walk between.

Meanwhile, think about joining FlyLady now. If you time it right, you can have the whole house decluttered at the same time the bathroom remodel is finished!


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Now I don't feel so bad about my piles. Gee, if you think it's "normal" than maybe it won't be so difficult to get rid of them. No, I can walk in any room. Just a few added piles tucked here and there. The ideas to toss the stuff in the dumpster and declutter while the bathroom is getting worked on sound good to me. Thanks for lending me your ears.


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I have piles like yours, Jannie. I get rid of them, and they come back.

esp. my dresser--it's got all the stuff I don't quite know what to do w/ And I get it clean (and kept it clean once for a month), and stuff comes back. Not the same stuff, but the same TYPE of stuff.

I keep trying to figure out how else to deal w/ that type of stuff. Stop being lazy, I guess.

I'll make you a deal: 2 piles, tonight. I'll get rid of 2, you get rid of 2. OK?


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"In desperation this week, I asked DH to take 2 huge bags of "stuff" to the Salvation Army. He agreed, then asked if the bags contained only clothes. This was a trick question... DH has a problem with getting rid of anything we might "need" someday. He hates getting rid of anything that is "still good"."

I didn't know my husband had a long lost twin out there!

He's the KING of keeping stuff. Occasionally he does use a piece of the flotsam to good effect and that has the effect of strongly reinforcing that he should keep doing what he does. Which is not only to hold on to everything but to bring home anything he finds out and about that is 'still perfectly good'. He rides a bike daily through our neighborhood which contains a lot of affluent folks who do indeed toss out items that are technically still usable. Now, they may not be items *we* will ever use but what the heck, can't let a perfectly good whoozit go to waste can we?!

It drives me nuts, as if you couldn't tell already :). I try to explain to him that we just cannot possibly take on every single piece of physical matter that other people discard but to no avail.

Oops, I've highjacked the thread but this weekend was really a corker. We squabbled about putting some cushions away temporarily in 'his' space, after which I realized that his space includes a 900 SF separate garage/workshop, another smaller but also separate playhouse (probably 40 SF) that he commandeered after our daughter outgrew it. Oh, and most of the one-car garage where he installed shelving on either side and which he has filled with his stuff. The final last straw was trying to clear out our 5 drawer filing cabinet...which ended up having 3 drawers still filled with his stuff. Stuff like annual files containing old tax returns, monthly pay stubs and electric bill receipts...files dating from 1975 to 1985! Yep, we're carefully saving, in a home desperately in need of storage, thirty year old bill receipts. This doesn't begin to cover stuff like the AAA guide to the midwest, 1984 version. Or the pickled turtle fetus he collected when he was 15.

All in all, I"d almost rather have piles :).

Ann


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There are organizational problems, and problems of conceptualization, and problems of habit. Then there are the aisles of piles problems. All of these have an emotional component, but someone lovingly maintaining the piles/stacks is in a different category altogether. Or someone like my ex-husband, who also brought home "good" stuff. I had trouble throwing away things that "might come in handy", but I didn't seek it out.

There has to be some compelling reason to change anything that's an active practice. I've come to value space more than stuff, but it took forever, and many leaps of faith. I try to focus on the value of empty floors, rather than reliving the small triumphs of having something when it was needed after 10 years of storage. But it took a heck of a long time, and dedication to finding the value of space, for me to change my ways.

Honestly, I think for many of us who don't have full-blown disorders, it's a problem of modernization and/or relative affluence. Not going to go away, and too overwhelming to face without a serious, long-term motivation. When working or living with collectors, I try to carve out my space; it's all I can do. I myself have a dual personality; but I let each side have its geographical areas. The streamlined side abhors the junk-pile side's areas, but that's better than forcing the issue and having a full-blown meltdown. I used to be a collector and would have exploded if I had been surrounded by too much empty space. So I would have filled it up, just to be safe. JM2CW


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Heh. I once helped a family move; the moving van contained a car that he had planned to restore "someday" (hadn't touched it in several years), several file cabinets full of outdated product information brochures, and a freezer (still plugged in) that she hoped would keep the food cold for the next 1000 miles.

You people have nothing on these folks ... :-p


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When we first moved in this house 20+ years ago, saving little things that we MIGHT need someday wasn't a big deal. We had PLENTY of extra room.

Two kids later (plus the addition of junk from dead relatives) we had NO extra room. I started to enjoy the look of "empty" spaces, but DH didn't catch on. He comes from a family that does NOT part with "might need it someday" junk. His sisters houses look like some of the photos in the website Gloria posted.

I haven't had the guts to toss the coffee can of rusty nails DH inherited from his dad (though I have been told the rust can be removed with sandpaper or steel wool or something... I don't want to sound wasteful, but we CAN afford new nails if we ever need some...).


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Julie- the story about the can of rusty nails reminds me of my Dad. He saved all kinds of nuts,bolts, nails, screws, etc. in the basement in jars. He also had a garage full of lawn mower and bicycle parts. He would drive around in his car with the back seat removed and use it like a truck. If someone threw out a lawn mower or bike, he would pick it up and haul it home. He told me he had two snowblowers and a tractor in the garage. He was convinced these items worked. After he died, my brother threw out everything in the garage. It took a dumpster to hold it all. Nothing was worth saving. And we never did find the tractor and snowblowers.


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My Dh is the king of pack rats -- and after losing his job -- we now run a small business selling things on EBay -- so junk has become our way of life. I hate having it around the house -- so we use the garage -- and built a carport for the cars.

We argue about "where" and "how much" can be in the house for any length of time -- because he literally would take over every available space. It may be a leftover "greedy" phase from his childhood (four boys who fought over everything -- from space to rooms to ......)

I'm simply trying to keep things contained -- and within some sorts of boundaries ........ very difficult!


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My DS (sister) has obsessive compulsive disorder, along with Bipolar. She just, last Thursday, attempted, and failed, thank goodness, suicide for the second time in her life. I mention this because she is a packrat and actually has episodes of illness and the deepest of depression around having her stuff being moved at all. She can tell, no matter how little someone moves the stuff. Three days before the latest suicide attempt she cleaned up some of her stuff with the help of a family friend. Four years ago, without permission, my oldest and youngest sisters cleaned up her place, and she had a psychotic break. I can't even begin to fathom what she goes through with the OCD, coupled with the bipolar. OCD is often associated with Bipolar, but they are quite separate diseases, requiring two very opposite therapies. I hope your neighbor has nothing like what I described. My DS is in hell on earth, with very little hope of adequate treatment.

Yeona


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Yeona,

I'm so sorry to hear about your sister and her battle with mental illness. That must be very hard for your family.

My neighbor, though, is more like me before I found FlyLady. She works full time, has kids at home, and volunteers a lot of time at church, with school activities, etc. People like me just need someone to tell us it is OK to go through the house filling up trash bags, and get rid of the clutter guilt-free. The bonus is that FlyLady gives us a plan to do it 15 minutes at a time so we don't have to schedule a vacation day to get caught up.


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MY MIL WAS RAISED IN THE GREAT DEPRETION ERA OVER NIGHT HER FAMILY LOST EVERYTHING THEN A FEW YEARS AFTER GETTING MARRIED HER OWN HOME WENT UP IN SMOKE LOST EVERY THING AGAIN. SENCE THEN SHE WON'T LET GO OF ANYTHING, YOU MAY NEED IT, YOU CAN REUSE IT REMAKE IT OR FIND A NEW USE FOR IT. HER HOME HAS ALWAYS BEN AISLES OF PILES BUT YOU CAN ASK HER FOR ANYTHING AND SHE KNOWS WHERE IT IS SHE WILL SAY, LEFT OF KITCHEN DOOR 3ED PILE ABOUT HALF WAY DOWN, SURENUF THERE WAS MY DH BIRTH CERTIFICATE STILL IN THE ORIGINAL ENVELOPE POST MARKED 1946 OTHER THAN THAT SHE IS A VERY ORGANIZED AND COMPTANT WOMAN AT 80 PLUS YEARS SHE STILL HAS HER WITS ABOUT HER, LIVES ALONE GOES OUT DANCING AT LEAST ONE NITE PER WEEK DOES VOLLENTER WORK AND DR SAYS SHE WILL PROBLEY OUT LIVE ALL OF US SHE HAS HER REASONS FOR AISLES OF PILES WE MAY NOT UNDERSTAND THEM BUT WE HAVE ALL LEARNED TO LIVE WITH THEM BECAUSE IT PART OF WHAT MAKES HER SPECIAL TO US- NONE OF HER CHILDREN OR THERE SPOUSE COLLECT PILES LIKE HER


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Gramie,

Your family-in-law is lucky. My FIL also developed the hoarding behavior because of the depression and growing up poor. All his kids turned out to be hoarders, probably because their father instilled in them such a strong guilt about giving away "you might need it some day" junk.

I always meant to read Suze Orman's book "Power to be Rich" (or something like that). It's about how to break the cycle of hoarding and letting go of things.


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My mother is somewhat of a hoarder, not of junk, but very expensive stuff that she collects. She has giant collections of folk art, paintings, etc. My old bedroom and playroom (an entire 3rd floor) are now filled floor to ceiling. She can't seem to part with anything of value, even though her friends try to clean her out every couple of years. I am dreading the fact that as an only child I will inherit all of it! Since pretty much all of it has monetary value, what the heck am I going to do with it? Just tons and tons of stuff I will never need.


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Emmhip,

It doesn't have to be as bad as you anticpate. You can hire an estate auction company to come in and take care of it for you. You'll pay a commission out of the sales, but you won't suffer the aggravation of dealing with everything on your own.


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My mother collects dishes. Some of her sets are very beautiful. Over the years, we have bought her additional pieces of the one pattern she likes best. She now has a complete set for 20 people of Noritake Azalea dishes, plus many serving dishes including coffee and tea pots. Mom is now 82. I know I will oneday inherit the collection. I plan to take a set for four people and sell the rest BACK to the antique dealer we all bought from. She deals in estate sales. I am sure we will get peanuts.


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Jannie,

There is usually quite a market out there for collectible dishes, especially full sets. Skip the peanuts and find a different dealer who will sell it for you and just take a commission on the sale.

There's also a company that deals with old patterns who will quote you a price and buy it from you if you agree... what is the name of that? It's in one of the eastern middle coastal states (don't ask me why I remember THAT part and not the name, LOL).


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I think I know the name of the company. Replacements Inc. Thanks for the advice. Maybe they would give a better deal. I remember paying over $100 for certain serving pieces,like the coffee and tea servers and platters.


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That's the name I was trying to remember! How funny that you could guess.

I think the important thing to consider is that you are not obligated to use the local antique dealer, and you can shop around to find what'e best and easiest. Ebay might even be an option, and you might be able to find a local storefront that would handle the transactions for you for a commission.


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In fact,I would recommend looking on eBay to see what this set is going for - that will give you a better idea of what you could get for it. There are people who will sell things on eBay for you - like people who run estate sales, or consignment shops, they take a cut - I don't know how much that runs.

The next 10 days may not be the best time to do this, but if I were you I'd monitor prices on eBay for a month or so to see what the pieces actually sell for, on average. If it's a very rare pattern, you might have to folow it for longer. Also, you can look at what Replacements Ltd sells it for on their website.


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