A few years ago, my local PBS station ran a British show – Life Laundry. Every week, the show would feature someone who had fallen victim to clutter, or may even have been hoarding. The BBC promoted it as “a show about the stuff in our lives and emotions connected to our stuff.” The hosts, Dawna Walter and Jamie Breese, would help the participants de-clutter their homes and their lives. The homeowners would sort through their belongings. A few important items would be kept and salvaged. Some items were donated, some were tagged for a car boot sale (or flea market as we would say here in the USA), some were recycled, and then some items were sent to a big green trash bin called “The Crusher.” Finally, the made-over rooms would be revealed and usually the homeowners would cry.
I would watch the episodes and feel relief, then jealousy. I have a fair amount of clutter, but it is pretty contained, and thankfully it has never taken over my living space like some of the homes featured on the show. However, I would LOVE to have people come to help me sort and purge. I want to throw things in The Crusher!
I haven’t thought about the show, or The Crusher, for a few years. Recent events in my life have caused me to long once again for a bit of a Life Laundry intervention. Here’s why.
I have lived in the same apartment for eighteen years. Even typing that, I find it hard to believe. When I moved in, I never thought I would still be here after so much time. Life has a way of happening though, and it is difficult to find affordable, accessible housing. I have looked at other houses and apartments but this has continued to remain the most functional for me. There are many reasons to explore moving, but there are more reasons to stay. So I have stayed.
It is time (past time) for maintenance in my apartment. My power wheelchair is brutal to carpets, and it is time to rip up what is on my floors. The walls need to be painted. Some appliances need an upgrade. If I’m being honest, these things should have been done two years ago. I had planned to pursue them, then I was hospitalized, almost died, and apartment renovations didn’t seem like such a big priority.
Towards the end of 2014, I started talking with the property manager about repairs. I had, what I thought at the time, was a logical idea. I will be in Australia for two weeks in March. If the repairs were completed during that time, work could progress without any disruption to my daily routine. The workers would have time to move furniture, finish and paint the walls, and replace carpet without worrying about my need to live in the space at night. The property manager agreed to this plan, calling it wonderful. Everyone was happy.
Then it hit me. Before leaving for a trip to the other side of the world, I would need to pack MY ENTIRE APARTMENT AS IF I WERE MOVING! What did I just agree to?! Have you seen my junk room?! I’ve been here for eighteen years!
I NEED LIFE LAUNDRY! I need someone, or a group, to come and force me to spend 48 hours tackling my clutter. I need a Crusher for my junk.
Knowing this will not happen, I have made a plan with my Personal Assistants. We are tackling sections of my apartment each weekend. My pantry is now organized and my CDs have been sorted and packed away. Yesterday I decided it was time to get rid of my albums and my record player. I donated one of my sewing machines to a local senior center who wanted it for a craft class. The past three weekends I have shredded old documents, generating three garbage bags of trash and freeing up space in my filing cabinets. Today I will tackle my yarn stash.
The truth is I love getting rid of clutter. I feel great when I clear up space, and throw things out. My problem isn’t the purging. My problem is making the time to devote to the task. I have no energy on week nights, and when I have time on the weekends I would rather be writing, or crocheting, or reading, or anything else.
So, I am glad I have a deadline. A deadline prevents procrastination. I must have this task completed before I leave, with or without The Crusher.
For inspiration, I searched online and found one of my favorite episodes of Life Laundry on YouTube. Watch what happens around the 24 minute mark – in comes the Crusher!