Once the broomstick check was done and Professional Organiser Jane had shared her concern about the fire safety aspect, they were ready to get started on the spare room. Kat braced herself. She expected to be told what she could and couldn’t keep, just like family and friends always nagged. But that’s not how Jane started.
Jane didn’t arrive with a garbage bag, but by producing a sheet of paper and inviting Kat to sit at the dining table. Where was this headed? Kat cleared a chair and a corner of the table. Kat could see Jane’s sheet of paper had a heading – Discard Agreement. Jane wanted to know what Kat would be willing to let go of. They talked casually, Jane encouraging decisions about categories of items in the hoard in that spare room.
In the category of Kylie’s old schoolwork, Kat agreed that she would let go of maths tests, except if Kylie had scored 100%, but that all creative writing pieces had to stay. All the decisions were recorded on the agreement. There was something different going on. She trusted Jane and she wasn’t sure why.
When they had finished, Jane declared they were ready to play the game she had hinted at earlier. Kat was intrigued. Feeling more at ease than she expected, she stepped into the hoarded room.
“We’re going to play favourites”, Jane announced. “Let’s start with the clothes on the bed.”
Kat was confused. They were all favourites. Otherwise, she would have gotten rid of them years ago. They were mostly Kylie’s clothes from school and teen years. She’d been holding onto them to show Tiffany. Maybe Tiff would even be able to wear some. Kat had tried giving them to Kylie, but they’d been rejected. Kat sure knew how that felt. Kylie was adamant that girls these days didn’t wear those styles. And now Kat was stuck with the pile on the bed. Honestly, why did people make it so difficult for her?
Jane refocused Kat’s mind back to the task with a question. “Which of these is your favourite?”
“I told you. They’re all favourites.”
“Not everything is equal, Kat. When you hoard everything, you end up not respecting any of it. If you could keep just your favourite one or two pieces, you could store them safely, give them a place of honour, showcase them. They’d make you smile instead of making you recall unpleasant conversations.”
“Ok. Well, if I had to choose, I’d want Kylie’s high school dress and her first pair of jeans.”
“Great! And I have an idea of what you can do with some of the rest before you get rid of them. It might just help you to let go. What if you and Tiffany had a little fashion parade? She could try them on, and you could tell her a story about some of them, and even take a photo so you’d remember the moment.”
With this plan in mind, Kat found it easier to set aside those clothes that had caused friction between her and the family. But the flow stalled when they came to Kylie’s moth-eaten school blazer.
“This cost so much and I can still visualise Kylie walking out the door every morning wearing it. It hung off her in the early years and by the time she graduated, it was short and tight. That school was so much a part of our lives. All the school plays, the parent-teacher interviews, the school camps, the friends she made.” And then Kat thought of Kylie’s words, “I don’t want any of it. To me it’s just a constant reminder of being too embarrassed to have friends over. All that stuff in there is the reason I could never have a birthday party like other kids.” And she knew she had to find a way to get rid of the blazer.
Jane again had an idea. “What if you cut the pocket with the school emblem off the blazer and just kept that?”
Kat felt like, for the first time, someone heard her and didn’t belittle her for being so emotional. She’d never considered that she could compromise and feel ok about it.
At the end of their time together, Jane had a big bag of clothes to take away, Kat had a small pile for Tiffany to try on, as well as one school dress, one pair of jeans and the pocket from the school blazer to go into a memorabilia box. And the hoard was a little smaller.
Catch up on all the past Adventures of Kat here.
We teach how to deal with a hoard using discard agreements, playing favourites and other useful strategies in greater detail in our online training.