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."