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Not pleased, my can't express what I cannot

Not pleased, my cat expresses what I cannot

I am having a terrible time writing/thinking today. My apologies, in advance. And generally if my writing ever feels in adequate, or off. I am quite dyslexic and on bad days I miss more. I have decided to do as little editing as possible in this blog, as editing, and the editing voice has a tendency to stop me in my tracks. I am writing fairly stream of consciousness. I have been and will continue to do so.

Having got that out of the way:


I am posting at the end what it took me to begin writing. I was going to scratch it entirely, but I think it is an important example of expressed brain function. I think that function is relevant to my hoarding behavior.


Today was a day of many revelations. I felt like my grandmother had been reincarnated while still alive, as me. It feels like I mean this literally, or it did at the time of the revelation I believe that at least figuratively, it is very accurate.

Okay, upon re-reading, I realize that need some explanation, or I just sound silly.

I realize I hoard in theory and in thought as well as physically. I hoard ideas, desires, aspirations, etc. I am clear that this may not be the same as the hoarding of actual stuff, but I am also clear that my, personal behaviors are about much more than stuff.

Yes. I do have emotional attachments to some stuff, but not, for example, receipts I haven’t thrown away, recycling, threadbare crummy towels, empty cardboard boxes and the like. Those things are more about figuring out what to do with things, acting in a reasonable time frame, making decisions.

I also accumulate things because if I can’t see them I forget I have them. I hoard food in response to three or four things. First is that I was taught the behavior by my father, his mother and her parents. It was reinforced in my child hood in moments of scarcity, and when my son was very young and we were (financially) poor and we lived, largely off of what I had saved. There is an over-riding lack of faith in plenty, or I the ability to provide which is made worse by the fact that I can rarely remember what we have in the cupboards. If it is behind closed doors, it may as well not exist, which contributes to the stuff every where part of my problem.

I hoard things because I inherited them and feel they must have some value to have been saved this long… then who am I to do something else with them.

I realized in addition to all of that, today, those same abilities contribute to my difficulty making decisions. Unless one choice has some sort of empirical data to back up it’s superiority, it is neigh on impossible to make a choice, often. There is a great, deeply rooted fear of being wrong, of making wrong decision, about career, mates, etc. There is also ambivalence. Unless I really care about what to eat, and I rarely do, What do I care what it it is? Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook. I don’t love eating so much as it is a pain. I ramble, I digress, I think attention span is part of the problem as well, not always, but often.

I feel at once fairly intelligent (there is empirical evidence to suggest this) and jaw-droppingly stupid this is terribly confusing.

I think I am doing nothing to clarify any of this. I will post it any way.

Tonight, I am getting rid of a pair of orange shoes. They are not the most comfortable, but they are orange, and I do love orange. Orange, however is not the best reason best reason to keep a pair of shoes. I am also going to get rid of a couple of back packs. They are clean and washed, but my kids have new back packs, so I am going to get rid of the back up plan. -In truth, not entirely, as I am keeping one with a leather bottom mostly for my own use, but with an eye to back up, I admit. Every year they wear out their back packs they are so expensive, it makes me panic a little, so it is a think I tend to hang on to.

Orange shoes and clean back packs awaiting donation

Orange shoes and clean back packs awaiting donation

That feels insufficient, so let’s see, what else…

A bed-skirty thing ( I don’t quite know what it’s called or how to use it. It seems top get in the way of the sheets, although as I write it occurs to me it should go over the box spring, of which I haven’t one at the moment. I’m getting rid of it, even though I’ve figured it out! Hurrah! A nice lime green t-shirt. Both items were washed today and smell, and are, nice and clean for the next person.

Green shirt and bed skirty thing

Green shirt and bed skirty thing


More… please stand by …

A poster of the Fossil Record ..

Fossil record poster standing by

Fossil record poster standing by

Wait, I like it a lot. Now it is on our front door, using double sided tape I’ve been saving (which I used earlier in the week to help make a graphic) and tacks saved from fly paper, I know odd. But I have used them!

Fossil poster up on door. My daughter started reading it just after I put it up. How cool is that?

Fossil poster up on door. My daughter started reading it just after I put it up. How cool is that?

 I’ve replaced the fossil record poster with a sandwich maker I got at Paul Bunyan for my son, as he had one and it broke in our move here. Turns out the boy has some sense. He says they don’t work very well (generally, and that it is easier to make a sandwich.

Sandwich maker as sacrificial lamb for poster : )

Sandwich maker as sacrificial lamb for poster : )

Okay, that’s it for tonight, long post. Lots to think about.

At least they have an excuse! They also store where they (and customer, I assume) can see. Worth a try!

At least they have an excuse! They also store where they (and customer, I assume) can see. Worth a try!



Weasel says it best, again

Weasel says it best, again

Blooper reel (as it were) at the end!

Off to read submissions from fellows in my writing class. Two down x to go and comment on. Wish me luck!

I am generally and specifically overwhelmed today. I have half a mind to post pictures of every crappy little corner of my house, my storage shed and my Grandmother garage. While I’m at it I have half a mind to do the same with her house/possessions, etc.!

I think, And I vaguely remember thinking before, that my problem is not about stuff, or rather it is, but the bigger problem is with categorization, with life in general. I think my wiring is wrong. I want to be gentle today. I strive to be a gentle person, but it is so hard to be gentle when I feel sad, or frustrated, or overwhelmed. It is easier to be angry and chastising.

This whole day has been like this entry to a larger and lesser degree. I am especially dyslexic, having great trouble expressing myself, when I try to express what I am thinking audibly, I begin to stutter like crazy, while writing, I am spelling poorly, stutter typing and rambling like crazy.

There is some kind of psychological phenomenon going on here. Something deep seated trying to emerge.

I have started this blog, and re-started  it least four or five times this afternoon. I have had a day that was simultaneously frustrating and rewarding. I know, odd, right?

Holy Toledo, enough already! I am doing everything but writing. I can hardly stay in my seat. Must be uncomfortable stuff, right?

Hold that thought, seriously! I am going to see what I need to make some gluten free brownies. I must resist writing, a little longer, but I’ll be back when I’m done resisting. I am too far in the future and not in the present. Let me try to adjust my attitude!

I did, in fact not make brownies, as that is simply further avoidance behavior and so, I was avoiding doing it, and decided to come back to the initial source of avoidance.

I must go back to the beginning, of the thought, of today’s blog. There is nothing terribly earthshaking, or at least not externally. Just realizations today. and a heavy cloud of big voice in my head reminding me I need to get rid of stuff still tonight. To the voice a respond perhaps I will get rid of circuitous thoughts and feeling s of overwhelming  … what doom, genetic predisposition, theory … not sure. As for the rest I will dive in.

If you feel like you’re trying to go swimming, or that I am, and I keep dipping my toes in and backing up, I think that is what I am doing. It appears to be the only way to go forward tonight.

I feel like I am exposing big dark secrets, or bringing a monster, uninvited to a dance. -I’ve left the oven on as part of my previous avoidance behavior, I can smell it getting hot. I will deal with it in a bit. In the mean time, it can help warm the house.

Okay, again. Today was a day where I realized some things. The crazy thing is, as I realize them, they seem to evaporate. I feel more like I am exposing myself typing this than I have with any other posts or photographs, so far, and I’m not sure why. I think I am far enough into this project that some part of my psyche is beginning to fight me in earnest while another part is simultaneously cheering me on!

I took my grandmother to the chiropractor today.  Her appointment was at 10:30 with a FANTASTIC local chiropractor. If you are local, he is right next to the Glass Beach Inn in Fort Bragg. I recommend him HIGHLY!

In any event, the appointment was at 10:30. I was running late, initially. Or I felt I was. I got to Gran’s, out Dusty the house chickens out with the other chickens, then came inside, gave her her eye drops did her hair, helped her to the bathroom.

Wait, back up, before any of this (sorry for being disjointed, today you get mostly stream of consciousness, or I won’t post at all. Gran called just before 8 am And asked me, somewhat pointedly if I had over-slept. … I thought at first I was reading the clocks wrong, then I realized it might be her. I reminded her that we had planned on my being there around 9 am and that it was not quite 8 now. I still need to get my son off to school.

What really matters here is the shift in time at the beginning of the day, I guess.

. I had things scheduled for myself I wanted to get done, specifically, Two friends and I are trying to start a printing press for broadsides, small book, collections of poetry, journals, etc. I had planned to go over there this afternoon




4 bags ready to be loaded up and donated

4 bags ready to be loaded up and donated

Partial picture of clothes in my room I am working on dealing with tonight
Partial picture of clothes in my room I am working on dealing with tonight
the rest of the clothes tonight, with appologies for sub-standard photography tonight!
the rest of the clothes tonight, with apologies for sub-standard photography tonight!

Tonight I am exhausted. I’ve been running around with Gran, cut my son’s hair, all the regular sorts of things and have been writing since five or so.

This posting is after midnight, and so technically, I am late. I choose to post late rather than not at all, as I strive to miss no more scheduled blog entries

The long and the short of it is that I have tackled, at least initially the pile of clothes in my room. I have no dresser, at the moment, and the clothes I’ve kept need to be re-washed and hung up in ward robe boxes I got off the local list serve to fill in as a closet and keep the cats off of them.

I am posting the before picture and the bags for donation. I will take tonight’s and the three or so already in my car down tomorrow for donation. I will post the receipt, just because it makes me happy to do so.

I feel dis-satisfied with the post, the blog, and my level of participation in the process.

I do applaud myself, or at least acknowledge that I a, posting, even though I can hardly see straight, I am so tired. Sometimes this seems Herculean and as if it will take forever.

One step at a time, even when they are baby steps!

It keeps occuring to me that I do not have to wait until the day of the post to do the work, photograph the process and post, I can do all but post ahead of time.  I mustn’t take myself so literally!

More Friday!

Not perfect. The floor is clear, but the book shelf still needs lots of help. I'll get there!

Not perfect. The floor is clear, but the book shelf still needs lots of help. I'll get there!

Finally, my dog can lay on the rug and take a nap!

Finally, my dog can lay on the rug and take a nap!

Lots of room for my dog to walk about!

Lots of room for my dog to walk about!


The floor is finally exposed. My dog can lay on the rug. WOW! I must confess there is more to do, more than just the book shelf. However, I can finally set up an area to print. Phew!

I’ve been beating myself up about not meeting my own challenge on time, which in turn has helped me to remember that it’s okay to be imperfect, in fact it’s normal, expected even.

As I shovel myself out I have an eye to the fact that the kids and I will be moving in with my grandmother who has her own shoveling out issues. I wonder how I will make this all work. All I know for sure is that small steps are important without expectations that are improbable to achieve.

I am reading Rick Aster’s Fear of Nothing. I’m not very far in, but it has reminded that at my core there is a fear of nothing, in a literal and figurative sense. I will keep reading, and keep you posted on my progress in the book and on my progress in my house. Sorry for the short post. I’ll get back into the swing of things again soon, I hope!

Stretching Out

Stretching Out

Little Grandma, as I knew her when I was a kid.

Little Grandma, as I knew her when I was a kid.

Gran as a young woman.
Gran as a young woman.

I have come to a conclusion, of sorts. My children and I are going to live, largely with my grandma. A sort of trial run. I will attempt to soundproof their bedrooms, and we will try to make the best of this for everyone.

She seemed very trepidatious at the prospect of having a stranger stay in her house. This whole thing has made her take a look at her own level of independence and conclude that she really is no longer, safely, able to live on her own. Bringing a stranger in adds insult to injury, so the kids and I will make the best of this we can, as, I am sure, will my Gran. This won’t be a cake walk I’m sure, but is better than any of the other alternatives.

The bottom line as far as I’m concerned is that she has always been there for me when I needed her, and I need to be here for her.

I intend to return to the premise of my blog on Wednesday. I should have the area done and the press set up by then. Fingers crossed!

No time like the present! I am moving in with another hoarder (Gran) and can’t begin to get my own stuff under control too soon!


Gran and Dusty Peepers as a chick

Gran and her pet chicken Dusty Peepers, as a chick

Tonight, I am writing a little off topic, please bear with me, as I work out some thoughts out here in the public arena.

My Grandmother has always been there for me, from the time I was born to the present. In June of 2008, she fell. She wasn’t  hurt, but she wasn’t able to get up for a long while and was shook up as a result. At the time she was 92.

My dad and step mom have been living near her for quite some time. More accurately, she has been living near them for quite sometime. She moved here in 1997  from the San Francisco Bay Area, where she spent most of her life. She was in her 80’s at the time and incredibly self-sufficient. Since then, time has passed, as it is inclined to do. My step mom teaches full time and my dad is fairly disabled himself. When she fell last year, it became clear to that my step mom needed help. It was no longer enough to check in on her in the evenings and on weekends. My step mom has been wonderful and amazing, but Gran’s care is no longer a one, or even two person job.

I was teaching in a full-time tenured job when she fell in June. Contracts renew every year in July where I was, so I had a very short time to make the decision to move or to stay with my children where we were. We had finally bought our first house (With help from my gran) on five acres, and I had a solid teaching job. Things were pretty good for us, but, in truth, there was an air of discontent. My son has Asperger’s syndrome and hadn’t  completed a full year of school since 6th grade (that’s five years). While it is true I had a very good teaching job I loved in a school community I respected and enjoyed, it was also true that I was a single parent raising two children on my own and working more than full time. We lived in a very rural community and were any where from half an hour to an hour away from our closest friends and family. I am not entirely sure how things would have panned out if we had stayed, but when Gran fell, it seemed to me that the only thing was to take a leave of absence from my job, or barring that, resign, and come here and help out. It was a very tough decision, as we had moved to Nevada, in large part, to be closer to family, there dad, my sister and her family. The move here would take us farther away from our friends and family there.

I ended up resigning my position and packing up my two children, our dog, cat and turtle (the chickens we gave to a good friend) and moving here, to Fort Bragg, California to help. Initially, we lived with my grandmother, in her house. We were not able to settle in terribly well, as she, like I, has a lot of stuff and has been living alone most of her adult life with the exception of her own, somewhat short, marriage and the years she spent taking care of her parents. It was hard to combine our households, not just because of stuff, but because of personalities, and individual needs. My son needs a lot of down time and quiet to function (I think this is pretty true of me as well). My grandmother is quite deaf and listens to the television loudly enough to be heard outside, as a result. By the end of the first week of school, my son had shut down completely. I think it was a combination of the (abrupt change, the noise, the lack of familiar surroundings, and the lack of control over his own environment among other things. By the time I think my grandmother was feeling a bit cramped, as we all were.

Flash forward a year later. My son completed his first full year of school in six years, with good grades. He, along with his sister and I have just finished acting in a local little theater production, which seems to have done wonders for him in terms of self confidence and social skills. My daughter has adapted well and has made a number of good friends and is fitting in nicely. I have been able to spend not just more time, but more quality time with my children than I have been able to since they were infants, and my grandmother seems to be doing well, over all.

The conundrum, now is that my grandmother has been having problems with her legs of late, a sort of aphasia, in her legs, as it were. She speaks of telling her legs to move and them not responding. Today, she was stuck standing in her kitchen for nearly an hour, as she couldn’t navigate her walker and coordinate her legs into a position wherein she could be seated. There she stood, stuck by her refridgeratoe, standing on ninety-three-year-old legs for nearly an hour. Finally, she pushed her life line and the good folks on the other end called my parents house. My Step-mom called me, and between the three of us we got her back to her chair in the living room. This is not the first time this has happened to her. I noticed it a month or two ago, but this is the first time it has left her stranded for such a long time, and in such a dangerous way.

My conundrum is, what do do . I know someone that might be able to come and stay with her nights, in exchange for room rent, but I am not sure either of them would be terribly happy with the arrangement. Gran expressed some trepidation after the idea was proposed. She has been independent for so long and she feels like this is admitting she can no longer live alone. Also, she has lived alone for so long, she is not sure she can live happily with someone else in the house, especially as stranger.

I am not sure what the right thing to do is, but the kids and I are playing around with the idea of living in two houses at once, as it were. At least for a little while.

I am just going to sit with this a while and see what feels right. I think I made the right decision last year. I hope I will be able to again.

Four Generations of Family

Four Generations of Family

Making progress, slow and painful ...

Making progress, slow and painful …

Three Blogs Three Boxes ongoing challenge sec 2

Three Blogs three boxes, ongoing challenge sec 3

Progress has been slow, and unwilling. I notice that as I get down to smaller and smaller bits it becomes more and more difficult to be decisive. That I am fairly exhausted doesn’t help either.

I am not sure what to do with old bills, junk mail, etc. that may have important personal information.

I have gathering things into categories, to some extent : tools, art supplies, power cords, bills and other paper work to be dealt with, recycling …

There were some very nice comments from readers that helped me at least get something done today. Thank you all!

I have some thoughts about why I hoard having to do with feelings of safety, psychic, physical and other wise. I am going to let them roll around in my head for a bit and will get back to you!

I leave you with some pictures from Labor Day weekend to contemplate.

 Remember: even small progress is better than none!

Lambs Ears, so soft!

Holly hock growing in Fort BRagg, reaching all the way to the roof!

Holly hock growing in Fort Bragg, reaching all the way to the roof!

I know that technically it is now Thursday, and that this part of my post is late. My most sincere apologies are offered up.  Since I have not yet gone to sleep, I am counting this as Wednesday.

I took a very big bite with this challenge and have worried all day that it was too big a bite. There is however, light or rather rug, at the end of this tunnel!

Just quickly, allow me to whine about my day,  poor me! Actually as days go it wasn’t too bad, just busy. I had to take my grandmother to a doctors appointment to get her need for oxygen re-certified. Let me just say, she is 93 years old and gets winded between the kitchen and living room. I need to take her next week for a pulmonary test wherein she will need to walk from admitting across the bulk of the hospital to the pulmonary section. Need I say more? That is for another blog, health care, that is.  In any event She had an appointment that took much longer that I thought it would. This was no one’s fault in particular, and certainly not the end of the world, as I did move here to help take care of her and do this very thing.  Not stressful, just longer than I had anticipated.  After the appointment she wanted to look for a small pot, for cooking small things. She did not want to pay full price for a new pot as that might be anywhere from $23 to upwards of $40.00 depending on brand and the store where purchasing would take place. Instead she directed me to a series of thrift stores. The irony, of course, is that on a day I had intended to set aside for going through and getting rid  my own things, I was pawing my way through the kitchen ware at, literally, every thrift store in town. Fortunately we live in a small town and there are only five thrift stores that I know of. On the upside, I found a new place to donate to. I did not find a pot today, but I did find two very nice garage sale signs, two baskets for the chickens to nest in, a small citrus juicer (that I actually do need) and a plastic container with a screw on lid to store nut milk in after I make it. I am hoping to place my two children and myself on the ADHD/Autism diet, at some point in the not too far future. That is another story as well.

After the thrift stores, we did a very small amount of grocery shopping and got a little lunch. Then I took Gran home, went to the middle school to pick up my daughter’s missed work (she was home sick today), and brought it home.

Once home, I began to sort out the mess I posted pictures of earlier today. Just as I was really getting into it, it was time for my three o’clock counseling appointment. After that I checked in at one of our local elementary schools to confirm that I had changed my schedule so that I can sub one afternoon a week in the after school program. Next I went to the school district office to make sure I am still on the sub list and check on any possible part time teaching positions. Then I came home, checked on my daughter, dug back in to the pile for a little while, and greeted my son when he came home from school. I worked a little while longer and then it was time to get ready for a local play the kids and I are in.  As an aside, I think acting is fantastic for people with Asperger’s Syndrome. It has done wonders for my son.

We were at the play from 7 pm until approximately 11 pm. (Far too late for a school night I know, but it was the last school night performance of a month-long run). We came home, I checked on my daughter’s progress with homework, had some dinner and I got the kids settled in for the night, and got back to it. So, To make a very long story short, I am posting pictures of my progress so far. I have one bag to donate to a thrift store, and three garbage bags of recycling.

I can see the rug. It is dirty and I can only see part of it but it is, in fact, there, so that counts as progress. I am going to resist the temptation to undermine and criticize. Instead, I am going to hold on to the progress I’ve made today and reserve the right to extend my own deadline, as family (and quite a bit of it) is coming for labor day weekend and I’ve got to get my grandmother’s house ready. -You didn’t think they were staying here did you!

See you all Friday!


Part one, after day one dig out (Compare to today's earlier, picture, please, or it is just too sad for words!

Part one, after day one dig out (Compare to today's earlier, picture, please, or it is just too sad for words!

Part Two

Part Two

part 3, second part of my challenge

part 3, second part of my challenge

Donation ready to go!

Donation ready to go!

Recycling all ready to go, with additional cement bags for flavor!

Recycling all ready to go, with additional cement bags for flavor!

I’ve added a new widget to help raise funds for To Write Love on her Arms.

I ttok 5 bags and a bike rack to the thrift store and didn't even bring home anything extra. Hurrah!

I took 5 bags and a bike rack to the thrift store and didn't even bring home anything extra. Hurrah!

Tools ‹ Three Blogs Three Boxes — WordPress.

How can I work like this?

How can I work like this?

I am a, self diagnosed, compulsive hoarder. Hoarding is an anxiety disorder. Ironically the more I hoard, the worse I feel about myself, the more “anxious” I become, the more I hoard … and so on and so on. It is a vicious cycle that I am attempting to break, in part, by way of this blog.

I intend to post three blogs per week and release 3 boxes of stuff per week, 1 with each blog on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The very though makes me feel ill, which I think is a sure sign it is high time I did this. I will post pictures of where I am starting (the blog) from, and progress as I make it.

I hope that ‘outing’ myself will give me motivation to change and the structure to do it in. i also hope to help other hoarders lift their own shame and find a vehicle for releasing their stuff as well as their hoarding tendencies.

I challenge others to join me in the three blogs three boxes endeavor. There is no set size or requirement. Join me in releasing, you can post pictures and your story, you can write and release with me three times a week, or as often as you feel like it. Try it once. You may find it’s not so bad.

Let’s uncover our couches, kitchen tables, garages and hopefully, in the process, our lives.

I may be getting rid of actual boxes of stuff, cleaning out my email box, the ice box(refrigerator, for those of you who aren’t stuck in a previous century) need to be dealt with and organized, etc.  Hoarding is a state of mind. It has been with me for most of my life making me feel at once safe, and trapped. I feel I live a lie, won’t let people into my house, and use hoarding, subconsciously, as a way to barricade myself from the world.

My first ‘box’ is outside, ready to go. it is a large size garbage bag filled with clothes we no longer need.  To the thrift store in the morning.