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It all started with a phone call to the police on March 21st 1947 saying someone was dead in the Collyer mansion.  It took two hours for police to find a way into the house.  After entering through an upstairs window and climbing an eight foot high pile of stuff (the house had 10 foot ceilings) 65 year old Homer Collyer was found dead sitting in the middle of the room.  He had suffered a heart attack brought on by starvation.  The search for his caregiver (Homer was blind and was nearly paralyzed with rheumatism) and brother, Langley, began shortly after.  After nearly three weeks, Langley was found in the same room, hardly ten feet away from his brother .  He had been crushed beneath bales of newspapers.  His brother Homer probably knew what had happened to his brother and had no choice but to wait for the inevitable.  Workers clearing the house removed over 170 tons of stuff, including fourteen grand pianos (one of which was a gift from the queen) and a model t ford.  All of their belongings were sold at auction and netted less than $2,000.  Both men were college grads and quite successful in their careers.  So what happened?  What causes us to hold on to more than we need?  Although this is an extreme case, it is easy to see some of the same feelings, thoughts, and attachments in our own lives.

This true story (although a popular one) is featured in the first chapter of  STUFF – Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee.  This book is a fun, quick read that is written by people who have extensively studied this subject.  I recommend you check it out from your local library (seeing as how you aren’t going to buy it or anything else this week!)  For those of you in my area, this book is the featured book for the Chardon Book Club meeting on January 17th at 7pm.  I will be there if anyone wants to join me!

How about today we let go of something BIG!  I know I’m going to hear “but I need all of the big things in my house”.  And the Collyer brothers would have said “I need 14 pianos”.  Look around – you can find something!  Make it something big.  A piece of furniture, a musical instrument, an extra cupboard in your garage or basement, even a playground or yard toy.  I got rid of my piano over the summer, so I think I am going to part with a bunk bed that is not in use and totally in the way.  What did you find?

Don’t forget to add to your tally and NO SPENDING TODAY!



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