If you are a fan of the show "Hoarders" on A&E, you probably have a pretty good working idea of what hoarding is. Taken academically,

Mirriam-Webster defines hoarding as:

"psychology : the compulsion to continually accumulate a variety of items that are often considered useless or worthless by others accompanied by an inability to discard the items without great distress"

Do you think you are a hoarder? Suspect someone in your family could be? If all the above criteria are to be met to be considered a hoarder, do we perhaps use the term too loosely?

Take a look at the picture of my pantry. You might say that I am a hoarder.

According to the above definition, I am not. I am an avid food grower. I feel good about the flavor and overall quality of food I grow myself. I control the use of pesticides and herbicides (none). I save money. I preserve our bounty for our family of five for the winter months. I share our surplus when I can. I also enjoy it immensely.

As a home organizer, there is the assumption that I am working with hoarders all the time. This is not true. I can't say that I have ever been in a clinically hoarded house. I have been in some that are probably very close. Some of the clients I have worked struggle with letting things go, some have significant amounts of belongings, and some feel challenged to make sense of disorder.

When I have worked with clients who have significant distress organizing and/or purging, I have referred them to seek a mental health professional. It has not happened often. But if you watch one episode of "Hoarders" and you'll witness the mental anguish surrounding those who hoard and their loved ones, and how they need something more than what an organizer can offer.

When I do a consultation, I do not judge or assess someone's lifestyle. I do not feel voyeuristic when people share their struggles. I take what I do very seriously, and I love my job. I am honest, hard-working, and value privacy and discretion when people invite me into their homes. Most of us are actually way more alike than we are different. We all have our struggles. I am here to assist with those struggling with organization.

If you are reading this and suspect that you would like some help, reach out. I am available for a free consultation. Additionally, there are a variety of resources online, and at your local library. If you feel like your struggles are more significant, get in touch with a professional. You are valuable, and it is not necessary to suffer.

I invite you to join me on Thursday, October 1 from 10-11am to learn more. I am offering a free "power hour" presentation at the Black River Beach Neighborhood Center.

I hope to see you there. Until then, have a great week.