Lightbulb momentKat had not yet managed to drag herself out of the funk brought on by her moment of identity crisis. On one of her restless, sleepless nights she turned to her self-help bookcase. She chose a selection of books and added them to the stack on her bedside table.

There was Speed Cleaning by Shannon Lush, Paper Flow by MaryAnne Bennie, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, and Buried in Treasures from Dr. Randy Frost, Gail Steketee and David Tolin. Surely she would find an answer somewhere in that pile of books.

She started with Speed Cleaning but quickly realised this was not a cleaning problem.

She picked up Paper Flow next, got halfway through and put it down. If only it were that easy! Her problem was more than just papers anyway.

She had high hopes for the Marie Kondo book. Everyone was talking about it and she had enjoyed the TV show. There was that time she’d tried the “spark joy” technique on her clothes, and it hadn’t gone well. But maybe there was something else she could learn from rereading the book. At around 3am she gave up. There was nothing in that book sparking any joy for her.

Finally, she picked up Buried in Treasures. The front of the book said it was help for compulsive acquiring, saving and hoarding. It looked like it was for those people on the TV shows, not people like her who just needed a bit more space. What would a bunch of doctors know about that? If nothing else, maybe it could put her to sleep.

Her reading didn’t produce any shuteye, but it was at least interesting. There was a quiz in chapter 3 – Do I have a hoarding problem? As she answered each question, she became more and more uncomfortable. She could feel her hackles rising.

“These people probably lived in mansions with plenty of storage space”, she thought. “I wouldn’t feel any emotional distress if people would just leave me alone.”

Then the book mentioned Perfectionism. She thought, “What’s wrong with perfectionism? My mother always said, “A job worth doing is worth doing well.”

But something at the back of her sleep-deprived mind came forward. Those ladies at the library talk had mentioned that perfectionism and procrastination were best friends. Maybe perfectionism was a problem after all? But what could she do about it? Was she supposed to lower her standards? “I know what I believe.”

Then the lightbulb moment came. Maybe the problem wasn’t about the stuff at all? She kept reading. There was more talk about bad guys and things that led to clutter building up. There was no chance of sleep now. Her mind was racing with flashback to previous conversations. A lifetime of stashing and storing, reorganising and hiding, searching for the perfect solutions hadn’t made her happy.

LightbulbShe’d spent her whole life trying to create perfection and it hadn’t worked.

The perfect Christmas decorations hadn’t created a perfect Christmas.

All those homewares, tablecloths, bed linen, candles, figurines hadn’t created a perfect welcoming home.

All the clothes, handbags, makeup and shoes hadn’t made her more popular with the ones she loved, or the people she wanted to impress.

Another lightbulb moment suddenly dawned on her that she was not Martha Stewart, she was not Marie Kondo, she was Kat. Everyone thought Kat had a clutter problem. But Kat knew that it was something much deeper and much, much harder to fix.



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