Updated: Dec 11, 2020
Who knew that Professional Organizers could work on the A&E show Hoarders. Well guess what? we absolutely do and this is how. A few months after choosing to start a small organizing business I found myself engaged in everything business. My time was fully devoted to growing what I had started; Aligned Chaos. I was attending a class for small business owners and as usual the first order of business was to introduce yourself/business to the other participants. As you can imagine my introduction was none like any other, I received a few blank stares and curious looks from those who wanted to know more. Afterwards a young lady approached me and referred me to a professional organizer who had been in business a while, okay years. I met this PO and she allowed me to pick her brain, quite interesting for someone to assist you without viewing you as competition. Several months after that meeting I received an email from a production manager from the show Hoarders. OMG is this really happening? The woman I had met months ago referred me as a PO to work on the show. (Only God can place you in the right place at the right time.)
First Day Jitters
I showed up to my first major project in Byhalia, MS to what seemed like a complete junk yard for 10-12 hours a day outside in November. My initial thought was, "What did you get yourself into"? For the rest of the day I met the other PO's on set, the production & filming crew, the well known Matt Paxton and Dr. Zasio. The family being profiled were Cindy, Cody, Amanda, DeeDee and Amber. The rest of that day was spent waiting and watching all of the pieces of the puzzle come together. Did you know there are several moving pieces that have to come together to cohesively produce an entire show and ultimately the final cut? Believe me when I say, not everything that happens or is filmed is shown. In fact now that I have experienced what happens behind the scenes, these shows are definitely like any other reality show. Yes, I said it Hoarders is a reality show, but hey that can just be my perception of it.
Second Day Lets Get to Work
Lets get this thing going, I came here to work. Now that I know what to expect I have a hint of curiosity about Cindy. Surely this beautiful, well kept, small statue of a woman doesn't live here. How does she emerge from total chaos and appear like this? You can truly never judge a book by it's cover.
The Next Day and the Next Day
Over the course of the next few days I began to form a bond with Cindy and her family. What was particularly interesting to me was how loving Cody and Amanda, her son and daughter in law were. They both were kind, sweet, compassionate and respectable people. What the show doesn't reveal is the daily prayers, led by Cody. This family knew what they were up against and their willingness to seek God's guidance was something I didn't expect to see, amazing right?
Not Everything Makes the Final Cut
The most memorable moments of working on set was getting to know the other organizers Summer and Katie. I really enjoyed most of my time talking to DeeDee; Cindy's sister, we kind of like became buddies. She and I talked a lot in our waiting time about the family more in detail. I'm always wanting to know about the back story, like how did Cindy get here? There are definitely some confidential things I can't share but I can expound about the infamous "black trailer" Do you guys remember the scene? In this scene we are clearing out the trailer, and DeeDee becomes upset about particular items being discarded. There were over a dozen vintage Barbie Dolls that were believed to be purchased by their mother. The auctioneers interested of course and ready to pounce on this deal. This became a NOT FOR TV moment quickly. This moment was particularly emotional for DeeDee and I was trying my best to console her so, we were walking away from everyone so she could have her moment. The producers call out asking "Where are you guys going? come back so we can film that." I told you its a reality show right?
I guess you may be wondering if hoarding is real, YES it is REAL. I had the opportunity to experience this hands on. It equipped me with a better understanding of why and how people can be led to hoard. I now have empathy for hoarders who are consumed by things. For Cindy these things filled a void for her that occurred after experiencing grief, loss, sadness, disappointment and probably some other things we know nothing about. While I am definitely a Type A personality with the belief that everything has a place, I now view Cindy's life from a different prospective. Our efforts to assist Cindy didn't result in a total life change but we did give it our best shot.
Until the next opportunity to appear on a national tv show, choose Aligned Chaos to Align your Chaos rather its a hoarding project or simple organizing project we are here to assist.