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Thursday, February 28, 2013

I don't always read the flylady emails in my box but this morning I haphazardly clicked on the below testimonial. What a timely dissertation on fabric hoarding! If you are a quilter, enjoy!

Testimonial:Decluttering #28

Dear FlyLady,

This story is about my mother, but maybe it will be useful to some of your other FlyBabies. (I've used the lessons I learned from it myself, and it helped me accept the wisdom of FlyLady later.)

My mother is a True Crafter - she quilts, she knits, she is *amazingly* creative. And over the years, she has collected materials for dozens of projects that, being a busy woman, she has never gotten around to finishing, or even sometimes starting. Adding to the problem is her loving and generous nature - with five living children, and a dozen grandchildren, when she would be working on a project, every now and then she would get "besieged" with requests from all of us to "make me one, too!"

The next thing she knew, her sense of "fair play" would have her buying the material for half a dozen or more of some project or other, and by the time she had made two or three of something, it wasn't "fun" anymore, so it would all get put aside for her to feel bad about not finishing. Plus, she *loves* a good bargain, so, to put it politely, things started looking a little "hoarders" like in the room she stashed things in, instead of being a relaxing and enjoyable work space.

In my father's final years, he went through a series of challenging health crises. My mother sometimes indulged in "retail therapy" with fantasies about "having time to (fill in the blank)", but as his health declined, things were sometimes simply tossed into the "sewing room" as she dealt with the emergency du jour. Finally, after a battle with pancreatic cancer, we lost him, and my mother was left to pick up the pieces of her life without her husband of nearly 35 years.

The sewing room, which should have been a source of comfort, simply became the symbol of how "out of control of everything" her life had become, and that is where I was finally able to step in and help out. I was ruthless with her. We went through her entire fabric stash, accumulated over decades, and anything she didn't LOVE, we put in a pile to find a new home. We went through *hundreds* of patterns - my mother would sometimes purchase multiple sizes of the same pattern to accommodate different size children/grandchildren, and if she had forgotten she had purchased something, would end up with multiples of them if she *really* liked them.

There were five sewing machines in the room (two gifted from deceased family members), and more "UFOs" than I care to count - with me cruelly limiting her to "only twenty-five"! And her zipper collection! She had gotten a "great deal" on zippers on e-Bay, and I had to point out that no human being on the planet would *ever* be able to use 75 red 9-inch zippers, especially when her true passion was quilting/not making clothes. (For some reason, counting them out loud in front of her seemed to help make the point - lol! She only kept ten!) This was *extremely* hard on my mother, but we found a way to make it work. It wasn't trash - it was *valuable* and it didn't belong in the trash, but seriously, no way did we have time to sell it on e-Bay (and there was a good chance that anything that didn't make it out of the house would end up back in the room, especially if she was wiffly about whether she "liked it or loved it" which was the standard for going away).

Plus, it represented hard work - she hadn't just bought JUNK - she bought Good Stuff that had Potential. Who would want to just let all of that go, for nothing except a feeling of "control"? We solved it by making sure her needs were met -- she needed to feel loved and appreciated; if she couldn't get it from people, she was trying to meet the need with "stuff."

I announced a "crafting giveaway" to a dozen friends, and demanded as price of admission "Chocolate and Appreciation." The first time the women arrived, they brought "Hershey bars" but by the third trip, it was Godiva. They sang her praises, while they hauled bag after bag of "treasures" from her house. They fawned over her collection, promised to do good things with the items, and at the end, we *still* filled a van with items for a church rummage sale. Over $16,000 worth of "stuff" left the house - and my mother still had an enviable collection of "the best stuff" worth over $20,000, along with room to put "new stuff" in as she learned new techniques (heirloom sewing!) and discovered new passions in her creative efforts. (The two junky sewing machines, kept out of memory, went away, too!)

The biggest change? Her attitude. We finally worked through the "guilt" of "making the same thing for everyone" and now she concentrates on "one of a kind" gifts, which means she can enjoy creating different things for each of us. The UFO pile reminded her of which things she enjoyed, and she was able to release the boring stuff she really didn't want to do anymore. Meanwhile, the lavish appreciation and tears of gratitude from the recipients of her largess really helped her "release and let go" of items she didn't love anymore. Plus, the Godiva! Lol!

Today her sewing room only has things she loves in it, and it makes her happy. I am *SO* proud of her, FlyLady! She is my inspiration! (And she helped me "let go" of my "someday, I'll get to that!" projects later, when it was my turn, too!) Crafters are givers and dreamers, dear FlyLady. They always seem to be taking care of other people. I don't know why, but they always seem to be married to or surrounded by those who don't see the possibilities in stashes of fabric, but I know that my mother truly felt like her life was back in control when we finished taking back her sewing room.

Just like she had always planned, she made people happy with her generous cleaning frenzy. I hope some of your other FlyBabies follow her example; the local senior center is filled with women whose limited income means they can't indulge in the joy of creating treasures that crafting gives. One boogie in the craft room...?

My Mother's Daughter in Michigan

I learned so much from reading this. Makes me want to go and clean up my sewing room.

You are not behind! I don't want you to try to catch up; I just want you to jump in where we are. O.K.?

Words can be KIND or MEAN; the CHOICE is yours in 2013!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I need to reread that daily and then go and DO something about my stash that is getting overwhelming due to people donating fabric to me because they know I will use it for a good cause.
    1797 days ago
    Oh my gosh, I need to do that!!! I used to have a sewing/ craft business for 30 years. I purchased supplies for, and did make multiples of everything. I also worked in the fabric dept. at Walmart for 17 years. I have a big sign in my sewing room that say "There's no such thing as too much fabric" The Flylady probably doesn't even know what a real STASH looks like! LOL Since retiring I am using up lots of fabrics, though my kids/grandkids will probably get tired of getting comforters/quilts one of these days. emoticon
    1814 days ago
    So good. I know I need to sit and go through my stash - weed and organize. I got so many projects lined up too. Thanks for posting this and inspiring me to get it done this spring.

    1815 days ago
    Thanks, Carol, that was very timely.
    1815 days ago
  • CYND59
    This sounded like me up until a year ago. My daughter came over and went through my crafting room. She could not believe the material that I had bought when she was a baby. No one would ever use some of these hideous materials and patterns I had kept from 26 years ago. She de-cluttered for me with me standing over her shoulder to make sure she did not get rid of something important. LOL!
    If it was so important...I would have used it when I bought it.
    1815 days ago
    This seems right in line with your 40 day challenge. You go girl.
    1815 days ago
    This hit home with me. I think that our intentions are good but then when we can't be superwomen, the guilt sets in and our very sanctuary becomes a place that triggers guilt and frustration. I too, am weeding out my sewing room (as well as my body). Some of the purchasing of fabric is the same as food- cheer me up, break boredom, celebrate. Thank you for reposting from FLYlady. I also get her posts and have followed her for the last 12 years. I am late in decluttering myself.
    1815 days ago
    I needed to read that. Thanks Carol.
    1815 days ago
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