In the last post in this series. We started to tackle the mound of clutter in our homes and kicked off the beginning of a beautiful decluttering adventure…..ahh all apart from the big box still sitting in your house marked ‘maybe?’ Am I right ? – clothes, books, old toys, that stuff is easy to get rid of (some of it’s not so don’t worry if you’re sat in a pile of bestsellers crying) but the other stuff is hard. The sentimental stuff – the stuff with feelings.
An old phone, some theatre tickets, numerous ‘sorry you’re leaving’ cards from my dotted career history in my 20s (I am responsible now..umm) and a newspaper from when my daughter was born. All stuff in my maybe pile.
THE STUFF THAT HELPS YOU LIVE IN THE PRESENT
Decluttering is all about making a commitment to live your now. The past may have help mould you but you can get rid of stuff that does not serve you anymore. Keeping hold of stuff keeps you in the past and you can’t be in the present whilst you do that. Easier said than done. Let’s tackle it. If you haven’t got it – get our decluttering guide, link below. Yes that’s it – big pink button.
THE STUFF WITH MEMORIES WE WANT TO KEEP
We get confused between memories and things. We have a deep fear that if we discard something we’ll forget it but we won’t because feelings are more than just visual. They’re touch, smell, laughter and joy. A wedding dress or something from your great aunt may seem impossible to give away but if you aren’t using them in daily life they may be taking more from you than you are getting back. You can photograph the item. I like writing a letter to it in my journal or try these tips – which both make new memories of the old item :
MAKING A NEW HEIRLOOM OUT OF AN OLD ONE
“I gave my wedding dress away last year but clipped a tiny piece of material from my dress and my mother’s wedding dress. They are pinned together and if someday my daughter wants to pin them into her wedding dress, she can.” Courtney Carver – bemorewithless
FINDING CLOSURE BY GIVING THE OBJECT ONE LAST HURRAH.
“I put my prom dress on one last time, took a picture, and shared it on Facebook,” says Kell. “People laughed and commented, and that made it easier to get rid of the dress — because it’s really all about your relationships and sharing the memory.” Lauren Piro House Beautiful
THE STUFF WITH MEMORIES WE FIND DIFFICULT
Weirdly, we often keep stuff that makes us feel odd or strange. It might have felt good once but we’ve outgrown it or processed it. A lot of people keep school pictures (or old signed shirts from your last day – do people still do that?) that might have been joyous at the time but now are a bit tired.
A lot of the items you’re dealing with now are ‘stuck’ in a place of indecision. You haven’t decided where they’re going to. Get your clutter together and have yourself a little Q&A (just like on Oprah) and get this stuff out in the open. Aha’s await. You can find the Clutter Q&A in the free download below:
THE STUFF PEOPLE GAVE YOU AS A GIFT OR YOU INHERITED
There’s a world of difference between keeping stuff because someone has given it to you (with the best of intentions) and keeping stuff because you want to. Often we just feel really guilty if we have a present given to us that we have no use for. So we keep it and it ends up in the cupboard. In limbo between indecision and decision. The outcome of which would have always been to give it away.
- People get that gift giving is a lottery of sorts. There’s a chance you’ll love it and a chance you won’t.
- Think about your Christmas/Birthday buying you too are lost sometimes and don’t know what to buy. Consumerism is at fault here, not kindness.
- People won’t check your house for gifts and if they do – it wasn’t a gift. It’s there stuff in your house.
- Gift it to a charity – then everyone can share the love.
Stuff you inherit comes as a double whammy because of the grief you feel and the fact that everything you have inherited has a feeling attached to it. Even if it is a food processor or an old rug. You also usually have to deal with this stuff in quick succession. This isn’t going to be easy and one of the best things you can do is to get someone involved who isn’t emotionally attached. A friend or even a professional. You are likely to pour over stuff for a long time. At the end of the process it’s usually the photos that are the most important. You can scan them so they’re accessible or maybe put them in that ‘Maybe’ box for a little while longer.
If you are in this place you might want to read Joshua Fields, The Minimalist, when he talks about losing his mum. Initially he put everything into storage but soon realized that possessions are not memories:
“I realized my retention efforts were futile: I could hold onto her memories without her stuff, just as she had always remembered me, my childhood, and all our memories without ever accessing those sealed boxes under her bed. She didn’t need papers from 25 years ago to remember me, just as I didn’t need a storage locker filled with her stuff to remember her.”
Another idea is to keep a few items and display them proudly.
“After all, a box full of memories stashed in the basement is far less meaningful than 3-4 specific items displayed proudly in your home. So go through that box of mother’s things in the basement, select the 3 that most represented her life and the influence that she had, display them proudly, and remove the rest.” Joshua Becker – Becoming Minimalist
IF ALL ELSE FAILS
If you’re really in the mire over stuff and it keeps going back into the ‘MAYBE or STORE IT’ box. Box it, Tape it and write a date on it (6 months/3 months whatever you feel you can do). Set a reminder and if you’ve not delved into the box – donate it.
The maybe box has a way of keeping you stuck in a place. However much you manage to get through, give yourself credit for what you’ve achieved. Minimalism is a long journey.
More in this series: