Tell us a little about yourself
I was born and raised in Port Angeles, WA. Until the age of seven, we lived in town with running water, electricity and television. When I was seven and my brother Daniel was five, we moved out to the country to a one-room cabin. That was when all the niceties of living in town went away. My Dad wanted us to have the “experience” of living in a cabin.
When I was 11, we moved into the bigger house that my dad, friends and neighbors helped him build over the previous 4 years. It was a strange existence in the 80s and I think I spent a lot of time wondering when we would return to “normal” which never really happened.
As a teenager, I spent a lot of time escaping the hoard and chaos. I spent a lot of time involved with church activities like the youth group, mission trips and choir. I moved out my senior year of high school and enlisted in the US Navy in the delayed entry program. Thankfully, I convinced my Grandma to let me live with her my last 6 months of high school before I left for the Navy.
Growing up in a hoarding environment made me speak out, and no longer remain silent. I take the pain from growing up and use it to help others. I create a space to talk authentically about this tough issue that impacts millions of people.
I am the founder and Chief Encouragement Officer of “Homes Are For Living, LLC DBA The Hoarding Solution.” This business is proudly Veteran Woman Owned & Operated. I offer virtual consultations, workshops and training on hoarding and also host of The Hoarding Solution Podcast.
I believe in empowering & inspiring others to take their adversity and use it for the benefit of others. I do this by being the voice of #AKOPTH-Adult Kids of Parents That Hoard, and a voice & advocate for #YLITH–Youth Living in The Hoard.
Why do you do what you do?
For many years I thought I was the “only kid” that grew up in a hoarded environment. For decades, I didn’t even realize how many kids grew up this way. A common theme for children who grow up in hoarding households is the isolation. The shame and guilt for something we didn’t create is extremely difficult to deal with. I want people to know they are not alone. Hoarding impacts over 19 million people in the USA, and we need to shift the paradigm on how we are dealing with this issue. I am here to facilitate those hard conversations because we need to have them across multiple industries.
What brought you to your business?
Initially, I wanted to address homelessness and the lack of affordable housing in my area. Through a program called VWISE (Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship) I began planning a business. It took some business mentoring to get me on the right track. It became abundantly clear that hoarding is an issue that impacts housing.
Hoarding was “Plan B” and not something I imagined I would talk about publicly, let alone turn into a business endeavor! This also highlights the value of mentors and working with people who can catch your vision and guide you to the next level of impact and success.
Tell about your process
Listening is key to getting a person to tell me about aspects of their situation. Many folks that hoard are “told” what to do and not asked. My aim is to hear them out. Often people living in a hoard live in isolation, feel judged, humiliated and are fearful. There is a lack of compassion about the issue. Adult children and family members of the person who hoards often feel helpless, there are a lot of traumas or dysfunction that exist in the dynamics of a hoarding situation.
The next piece is to ask valid questions that pertain to their specific situation. One size rarely fits all.
When working with individuals to create space in their homes, I use a simple mantra of Keep/Donate/Discard to reduce churn and help them simplify the decision-making process.
How much time do you dedicate to your career?
I began working five hours a week. Initially, I was working a full-time job, then I did, over time, make this my full-time job. I have spent countless hours blogging, doing presentations and showing up anywhere I could feasibly do so.
How long on average do you spend on your daily routine?
Ideally I like to get up, stretch, make some coffee, feed the dog and then putter in the yard for a bit. I usually spend about 30 minutes writing or journaling in the morning, which includes positive affirmations. Sometimes that rolls right into brainstorming blog content or new topics that need to be addressed.
What is the best money you have ever spent on your career?
The $75.00 that it took for me to be a part of VWISE. It was the beginning of so many great connections, ideas and inspiration. That investment brought me into a different world that I knew nothing about. I had poked at business before and had a business cleaning houses, which was my first taste of setting my schedule and really doing monumental work for people that made their lives easier. After that I would say the money I invested in a mastermind group and then traveling to a variety of conferences that got me out of my comfort zone.
What is the toughest part of your career?
Interestingly enough, severe clutter produces enormous anxiety for me. When onsite, the work was extremely hard for me to navigate, yet I could walk in and see immediately how to sort and how it could look once cleared out. The other part that can be difficult is “living my brand”. I am actually living the experience of dealing with a parent that hoards. The trauma and frustration are REAL and daunting. Yet, I can relate to folks pretty much wherever they land on the clutter spectrum.
What is the best piece of advice you have for people?
Fill your own cup first. Do your self-care and create and maintain boundaries. If you don’t take care of yourself well, how will you take care of anyone else? Use whatever fertilizer you have are given and begin building a beautiful garden and creating a life you want to live.
Who do you look up to?
I always admired my brother who seemed to find humor even though he faced many physical challenges being in a wheelchair and living with Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy. He would look for ways to laugh and make others laugh too. Although he died many years ago, I still recall laughing and having great conversations with him.
There are so many additional people who have helped me, inspired me, and stepped up to make sure I survived another day. You never know what a positive difference you can make with a kind word or a simple inquiry into how they are really doing. My list is super long of people that I love and appreciate!
You can connect with Tammi at https://linktr.ee/thehoardingsolution.
Here is the link to one of my e-books called “Start With the Kitchen Sink” so I am hopeful this will work?