Smothered by ‘Inherited Clutter’: A Reader’s Success Story

collectiblesMany of us who work in a ‘helping profession’ have moments when we wonder if all the energy we put out there is making a difference. I consider myself blessed because, every once in a while, I’ll get a heart-felt note from someone which reminds me why I do what I do. The email below is a perfect example. Cindy’s* message inspired me and, with her permission, I am sharing it with the hope that it may inspire you as well – especially if you are dealing with items you’ve inherited from loved ones.

Cindy* writes…

I adore your show and find it to be such an inspiration.  Thanks to you, this weekend I have finally started to purge and organize in my own home – something I’ve been putting off for over 4 years!


It started with my Mother passing away in early 2009, and then my Dad a few years later.  I am an only child and my parents left me all their possessions.  Growing up in the depression era, they had accumulated so much stuff over the last 60 years and were so proud to leave it all to me.  Even though I have no use and no room for most of these things, I felt guilty getting rid of them and it’s been smothering me ever since!  I’ve been feeling stuck, depressed, and overwhelmed for all this time.  It’s amazing how clutter can affect every aspect of our lives!!  It ruined my ability to concentrate at work, at home, and in social situations, I was anxious all the time and just couldn’t enjoy anything anymore because the mess and clutter was bothering me so much, yet I was too overwhelmed to deal with it.


Last week I discovered your show on Ion Life TV, and your approach and outlook in “Neat” really got through to me!


The ultimate wakeup call was when I recently put in an offer on a 3000 square foot house because of all this [unwanted] stuff that doesn’t fit in my current 1500 square foot home.  You see — even if I sold all my parents’ items and got top dollar for them,  that amount wouldn’t be anywhere even close to the extra cost of this big house I was planning to move to just to have room for it all!


Fortunately the new house deal fell through and you and your wonderful program “Neat” have helped me get a grip on reality again.  I look forward to each day again now and to the progress I am making to transform my house from a dingy cluttered “Fossil Museum” into a home that brings me calm and peace!

I’m so glad Cindy* shared her success story with me. If you have any success stories you’d like to share, or if you could use a little support from this online community around this common challenge, please comment in the section below.

*name has been changed

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This post has 9 comments

  • Jessica says:

    ‘Neat’ is STILL an inspiration, and if I could watch those episodes again, I would. I felt like I learnt something new every time, and the best part was the feeling that watching the show gave me, as though I had accomplished something, reorganized something, even though all I did was watch someone else do it. I was often inspired to reorganize after watching, though it seemed I could usually only reorganize one shelf… Still, I miss that show, and wish it were still running! I’m so glad to be able to follow Helen’s tips, newsletters and blog and keep up with new ideas as continued inspiration for cleaning the clutter.

  • Lisa Washington says:

    How can I purchase your books, and specific shows on time management, organizing a small area used as an office, un-cluttered paper, and creative ideas that are on paper, etc.

    Thank you!

  • sylvie says:

    One of my favorite “neat” inspired projects – under my bathroom sink.
    I started by taking an inventory of all I needed to have there. I created a small shelf at the back of the cupboard out of an old piece of left over pressed wood. Instead of as is… I painted it to give it a more crisp clean look. Then I rummaged through old boxes to find all those sentimental containers I never used but could not get rid of. Little crystal bowls are now the perfect Q tip and cotton ball holders. A beautiful alluminium planter now holds my hairdryer and iron. The delicate mesh basket my mom gave me, has my face cleaning products. Love it!
    … I too miss your show.. but thanks to your newlsletter, I receive regular reminders of how to better Hellen-nize my space. Thanks Hellen

    • Hey Sylvie, what a great idea! It’s such a practical way to enjoy your sentimental items every day. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on Hellen-nizing your space (love it).

  • Carolyn McDowell says:

    I really enjoy your show on Live Well Do you go to other cities? I would love to have u help me purge and organize. The stuff does make me crazy. The show has helped but I would like a quicker resolve.

  • Janet Vosman says:

    Neat was my wake up call to get organized and to purge. I had saved every piece of art and school work my 2 kids had ever produced. All that really adds up quickly. We moved 4 years ago and I cut those boxes down to 1 box each for their elementary school years. The school projects (castles, pyramids, solar system,etc) were recycled after a I took photos of them.

  • Barbara says:

    Hi Hellen,

    Love watching “neat” on ION Life TV! The before & after transformations are so inspiring! I’m stuck at home now with a broken foot, so I’m finally tackling some clutter issues I’ve been procrastinating on. How’s that for inspiration?!

    I also have “inherited clutter”. How can I deal with oil paintings done by my mother? She’s in her 80’s and hasn’t mentioned her past artwork for some time. But I feel guilty getting rid of them. One painting in particular is very large and of me as a child picking flowers. I’ve had it in storage for many years hoping I’d someday have room to hang it. I’ll probably never have room and no one in the family does either. I hate to think of it being tossed around at a thrift store but just don’t know what to do with this big sentimental object. Any ideas? Thanks!