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The Overly-Creative Hoarder

The Overly-Creative Hoarder
By Raette Meredith

Recently I inherited an estate from a woman who taught art classes to adult women and men. This estate included thousands upon thousands of magazines and instructional books, thousands of paints of various colors, painting mediums, painting brushes, quilting fabric, half finished projects, hundreds of frames, stained glass and knitting materials. My job is to filter through it all, sort and get rid of it in one way or another, and perhaps make a little money.

At first I was so excited and half tempted to keep it all and use it, either by starting an art class, or simply making things and selling them on etsy or ebay. I was overwhelmed with creativity, just looking at the stuff. As I began to sift through the items, I started to feel claustrophobic. I realized there were so many things I could do, I didn’t know where to begin. Judgment kicked in. How could this woman actually believe that she had time to use all of these supplies? There were simply too many projects and not enough time. She had spent thousands upon thousands of dollars on projects she would never have time to complete. It would take years to sell or dispose of all of this stuff that took a lifetime to collect. It's no wonder her children wanted no part in her estate.

As I looked through her things, I couldn’t help but get to know her. She began with knitting in the late 1950’s.  Her knitting gave way to tole and decorative painting for the next 30 to 40 years. As her hands got tired and shaky with arthritis, her creativity found its relief in quilting. She was a perfectionist. Each and every item I found of hers was immaculately cared for, and each half-painted item executed with perfection.

I couldn’t help but self-reflect as I listed items. I began relating to her impulsive creativity. Every penny she earned, she spent on crafts, surrounding herself with things that allowed her to create on a whim. Once I completed listing the first box of books, I walked into my own art studio and looked around. In one cupboard I found several full bags of art supplies from Michaels. In one was everything I needed to make dolls. In another bag, I found a crochet kit. Further down in my drawer I found fabric for starting a small quilt. Unfinished projects and instructional manuals haunted me with every turn in my own studio.

I began to feel claustrophobic again as I looked around and tried to make decisions about when I would create the dolls, or finish the quilt, or crochet scarves for everyone in the family. It simply was not going to happen, and I was turning into the estate lady.

Knowing what I had to do, I turned off my creative mind and turned on my mechanical mind. I simply took photos, and listed each item online, considering each for their base value. Getting rid of the items was the goal. Not using them. No emotion, no creativity. I had to barrel through the emotional need to create as I examined each item simply for the purpose of selling.

It is now 8 months later and I am still filtering through this woman’s collection, but at the same time I am filtering my own studio and home. No longer am I keeping each item. I am keeping only those things I need to paint, and basic necessities.

I notice as things disappear, I feel more clear-headed, more focused, less agitated.

I used to feel that if I had more items available to me, I would feel more creative.

I am realizing now that removing the clutter makes more room for creativity. This remains true for an over-committed schedule. As I clear my schedule of obligations that are not necessary, I have more room for being creative.

I began reading books about hoarding. I never considered myself to be a hoarder, but then I read a case study about a woman just like me.  It's called "overly creative hoarding". My mind is on overdrive and I simply have to create something I think of. I cannot take my mind off that item until I have created it. Unfortunately many of these ideas go incomplete because there simply is not enough time. It is a painful process to pass by those creative impulses, made easier by thinking of my estate lady. I force myself to schedule a time to finish a project. If I can't schedule the entire time needed for the project, I simply don't start.  Instead, I add it to my idea list. This process forces me to think ahead and saves a ton of money in the long run.

Raette Meredith is a mother of three, wife and artist. She is the creator of ARTAZINE Magazine and is pursuing her Bachelor's Degree in Business - Marketing.

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1 Responses »

  1. You are Preaching to the Choir my Creative OCD/ ADD Sister you!! I'm feeling your strain! Chug-a-chugga-chuga-chug-chug! Keep your train on the track, I know it is the Siderails that get ME EVERY TIME!! :)

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