By sharing my writing (Poetry in particular), a life long dream, I hope to inspire others to go after their dreams and goals.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Cherished Memories or Moldy Messes?

I inherited my mother's habit of keeping mementos of her life.  Many of us keep a few things that remind us of our childhood or our children's childhood.  In my case I kept almost everything that belonged to my children.  Their christening outfit, artwork and report cards are some examples but I kept much more.  It didn't matter that they sat in boxes until I bought pretty bins or that they gathered dust, mold and often became discolored.

Then one day I realized I had bins upon bins of "stuff."  I was mortified when someone jokingly referred to me as the "bin lady."  Still I am glad that person joked about it because it forced me to rethink why was I holding on to so much stuff?  Sentimental reasons is my only answer.  Just looking at an item from time to time brought all the memories associated with it rushing back.

For example, the other day I came across a little booklet that my mother had kept of mine.  Inside was a list of books I apparently wanted to read, at around the age of 7, judging by the handwriting.  Coming across this little booklet brought a huge smile to my face and revealed to me my love of books began when I was very young.

As I look at the things my mother kept from my childhood they reveal many things about myself and somehow fill in the gaps where my memory fails me.  Winning an award from an art event I have no recollection of or finding out I was part of a book club early on just reinforces that the things I love have been a part of me my entire life.

While I want to keep memories of my children's childhood I definitely cannot live with clutter.  And sadly, that is what they were becoming.  I made a decision to go through all of it and de-clutter as much as I could.  I questioned myself, why now?  I mean after all I had been saving things for my whole life. I figured it was a combination of getting older, downsizing and all the changes that had taken place in my life. Change can bring an entirely new perspective to how one lives.

It was not easy choosing what to get rid of but I knew I needed to be clutter free. Collections I used to own but never displayed have been donated, broken items that held sentimental value were thrown out and the remaining items have been organized.  It is funny how once I began to de-clutter the physical things, emotionally I felt less weighed down as well.

It is wonderful to collect and save cherished mementos but do you have "stuff" that is overflowing or "things" that are weighing you down? Want to cut back but don't know where to start first?

While I am not an organizer and I do not feel I can advise, I would suggest taking baby steps.  It took me a while to get to the place I am at and I still have more to go.
  • Clean one spot at at time; one bin, one shelf, one drawer.
  • Don't rush, the clutter didn't happen overnight.
  • Take a picture for a visual memory then toss the item away.
  • But don't toss it away unless you are absolutely sure.
  • See if a family member would enjoy keeping the item.
  • Don't lose hope.  Be encouraged by small successes. 

P.S.  Ironically, I am now on a quest to collect the books listed on the little booklet I found!  They are considered "vintage" items now, has it truly been forty years? Sigh, I can always read them to my grandchildren and they will go nicely with what my kid's refer to as "those old books."

Happy De-Cluttering,


  1. What a joy to read this! It's like a hidden message from God. I have been contemplating cleaning out my attic but realized "I can't let go" but after reading this, I realize I can do it!!!

    I thought I was the only one who saved everything that is sentimental. My mother did the same and I followed in her footsteps. I find that your mom and my mom had similar traits just like you and I came to realize :)

    I have been holding on to her stuff since she passed away fourteen years ago. I too enjoy looking at book reports, report cards, and drawings I did as a child. (Although I am sure your grades were better than mine!) Hee Hee. Every time I try to de-clutter the attic, I tell myself that I held on to it this long, and then I toss it to the side. In essence, I just "shit shift" as my mother used to call it and get nowhere.

    The fact is though, it has to be done! My husband and I will be adding an addition to the house as soon as I de-clutter. I love your advice on how to take a picture for visual memory. I would have never thought of that. And yes I will be tackling an area at a time so I won't get overwhelmed this time.

    Thank you for this beautiful blog that really touched my heart and most importantly, thank you for sharing your love for writing. I cannot wait for your next post! xoxo

  2. Thank you Sandy for your taking the time to read and make such a wonderful comment about my blog. I completely understand what you described as "shit shift." I used to do it all the time. Especially around the holidays when I wanted the house to look nice. LOL I am so glad this will be the first holiday I do not have to do that. Good luck de-cluttering your attic. I am sure you will do fine. So glad my writing was able to spark some inspiration for you to begin again. Remember, our mothers are always with us, that can never be taken away.