About Melissa Schmalenberger

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From Hoarding To Hope : A Book Review

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on April 21, 2015 in Family, life |

I just returned from a three day intense NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) conference in Los Angeles where I was surrounded by the best and brightest in the industry. For many years I was the only member of NAPO in the state of North Dakota which forced me to make connections with other organizers outside the state. One such connection I made was with Geralin Thomas when she spoke at the Home Builders show a few years ago. Geralin has appeared on the Today Show and A&E’s Hoarders as well as national magazines. What I like about her is she is down to earth, knowledgeable and kind when working with clients as well as people she meets in Fargo.


When I saw that she had released her book I headed right over to Amazon and ordered it. I read it on the plane flying to Los Angeles and was surprised to realize that she wrote in the same style that she is as a person, down to earth, knowledgeable and kind.


Hoarding is a secret that is kept from close friends and families. I know I have hoarders in my life but I have never been invited into their home, for obvious reasons. But what my hope is by talking about hoarding we start to realize that this is a disorder now diagnosed with it’s own category by the mental health professionals in the DSM-5.


Often when I get the call from clients they start by saying one of two things, “I think I am a hoarder” or “I am not as bad as a hoarder.” What the show Hoarders has done is open the secret world of hoarding. We now have a yardstick to measure our clutter in our own homes. What I don’t want hoarding to become is a stereotype. There is not a one fits all person who is a hoarder.


Geralin concluded many chapters with a major aha moment for me. I usually have a highlighter with me when I am reading a book to underline those light bulb phrases, but this time I was without one. However I can tell you exactly where in the book I read them, as they were that impactful.


“When you address the origin of a hoarding disorder, you begin the healing process.”  One of the first questions I ask when someone calls me who thinks they are a hoarder is “are you receiving mental health care?” To me this is the first step in the process. Hoarding is not as simple as uncluttering in a single session. Instead it often goes back to their childhood or a traumatic event in their most recent past. Understanding how the hoarding began is essential.


“When damaged relationships are repaired, those who hoard can begin to build the support network they need to be successful in moving from hoarding to hope.” Often what happens to hoarders is they become isolated and live a life where family has become frustrated and given up on them. Spouses become angry, children become embarrassed. If you are one of those loved ones, becoming knowledgeable about hoarding is essential.


Not only was the book full of real life interviews with hoarders but it also had the science to back it up with the leading mental health experts in the field contributing. Their input is important as well to help lead people into understanding this is a serious disorder and one that should not be taken lightly. Getting a grasp on the connection with OCD and PTSD is essential. Realizing what hoarding is not, is as important as understanding what it is.


The book is an essential reference guide for both families affected with a hoarding individual as well as the hoarders themselves. I personally do not work with hoarders as I do not have the training, however I am a resource in our community and can help guide a family in the right direction. It is time to stop having this be a hidden disorder and start talking about it publicly in a loving and supportive way.


To Joyful, Simplified Organizing,


MS. Simplicity


Serving the Fargo-Moorhead area as well as North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. Also seeking new representatives for Clever Container in all areas of the country.

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Top Travel Tips

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on April 14, 2015 in life, money |

If you know me personally, you know that I love to travel. I am frugal with my travels and try to look for good deals wherever I go. I look at ways to maximize my travel budget and my time. Because of this I have been able to take some fantastic trips for less money […]

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5 Things That Can Leave Your Home Now

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on April 7, 2015 in Family, life, Moms |

When people start the process of organizing they are overwhelmed. This time of year the pressure is even more as the weather turns nicer and we feel the need to spring clean. Most people simply don’t know where to start. The trick is to start and the organizing bug will bite you and you will keep going! […]

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Laundry Tips

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on March 31, 2015 in Family, life, Moms |

If I had to pick one household chore to do I would always choose laundry. It is a task that I can stay on top of and it feels good to put everything away. I started doing my laundry at a young age, and my kids are all of the age that they can do […]

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We Are Family

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on March 24, 2015 in Family, life, Moms |

We are only as strong as our weakest member. This saying is used in business and in coaching, but I think it can be used for our family as well. I have seen my role as a mother to not only comfort my children when they are suffering and to give them strength when they […]

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Learning to Say No

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on March 17, 2015 in Family, life, Moms |

  We all are asked to do things that we don’t want to say “yes” to. But if you are like me, I am ill equipped with being able to say “no” in a way that I feel will not hurt the other person. We would rather hurt ourselves than say “no.” It makes no sense. I would say […]

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What Would You Grab?

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on March 10, 2015 in Family, life |

Organizing isn’t always easy. We are surrounded by our possessions that often seem to possess us. If we think about buying something rarely do we go past the price of the item. We don’t think about where we are going to store it. We don’t think about having to clean it. We don’t think about how we are going to […]

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Procrastination Nation

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on March 3, 2015 in Family, life |

  Our country is suffering from an illness that is hiding in our junk drawers, cabinets, kitchen counters, kitchen tables, dryers and closets; I call it procrastination. As I was thinking about writing this post this morning I was telling my husband about it. He looked at me and said, “maybe you should get out […]

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Books Are Clutter Too

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on February 24, 2015 in Uncategorized |

  I am a self proclaimed book lover. I was an English major in college. I belong to book clubs. I have a basement full of books. But my book shelves runneth over. Looking at my books I know I have to make another big sweep. I want to get rid of all of the bookcases […]

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Make Time

Posted by Melissa Schmalenberger on February 17, 2015 in Family, life, Moms |

  If I were to look at your calendar right now would I be able to figure out what type of person you are? When my kids were young my life revolved around theirs. My day started before they woke up and ended when they went to sleep. I was a school volunteering queen, because […]

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