In my craft studio, I keep a small box of sumptuous ribbons. It’s a jewel box full of lush velvets and shining satins. Gazing into it transports me back to the ancient, hole-in-the-wall shop in New York where I found many of these treasures.
While organizing my studio some years back, it was these same ribbons that stopped me in my tracks. Practical, unsentimental me didn’t know what to do with them. Too special to actually use in a project, they didn’t seem to serve a useful purpose. Why was I holding on to them? Where should I put them? What do I do with them?
The answers to those questions led me to give myself permission to keep them for purely aesthetic and sentimental reasons, just because I loved them. I arranged them in a pretty box that would keep them safe and put the box on a shelf near my cutting table. Now, anytime I need to look at something beautiful to inspire my creativity, I open the box and visit with my special ribbons.
What special ribbons do you have in your life? Maybe it’s the china that your grandmother passed down to you. Or maybe it’s the artwork that your children made. Perhaps, like my husband, you still have the train set that your parents gave to you for your first Christmas.
These things are not practical or especially useful. But they have meaning to you and you want to honor that meaning.
It’s OK to save things that have no useful function. It’s OK to save things just because they are dear to your heart.
3 Rules for Saving Sentimental Stuff
1. If everything is special, then nothing is special.
Be discerning about the special things you save, otherwise it’s all a mass of clutter. Be sure you’re saving just the best of the best. Save the stand-out pieces, the most precious, most beautiful, most monumental.
2. Know why you are saving it.
Does it inspire you? Remind you of a special person? Take you back to a great time? Don’t save things that remind you of bad times or make you feel guilty.
3. Store it in an interactive way.
Why bother saving something special if it’s packed in a box in the attic and you never see it? Instead, think about how you could store the item in a way that allows you to interact with and enjoy it?
*4everbound is an affiliate link because I think they’re a great company with a great product that you’ll love. At no extra cost to you, I receive a small commission if you make a purchase.
The middle of winter with the lousy weather and post-holiday lull is such a cozy, indoor time. Not surprisingly, this is why TV consumption peaks in the winter. So... what are you binge-watching this month?
Have you seen my new favorite Netflix find, the BBC’s The Repair Shop? It’s a sweet show that reminds me of if Antiques Roadshow met How It’s Made crossed with The Great British Baking Show. Its charming personalities, beautiful thatched-roof barn, fascinating antiques, and stories of family history make for a “can’t-stop-watching” program!
Let me tempt you with the show’s intro:
“Welcome to The Repair Shop, where much-loved but broken treasures are brought back to life. Furniture restorer, Jay Blades, and a dream team of some of the country's most skilled craftspeople bring their talents to bear on beloved pieces of family history. Utilizing expertise passed down the generations, transforming priceless pieces of family history, the Repair Shop team will resurrect the items, the memories, and the stories behind them.”
Mementos are among the most difficult things for us to organize. That’s not because it’s hard to figure out how to make a photo album, put things in a memory box, or save a precious heirloom. No, mementos trip us up because of their emotional significance in our lives. We agonize over decisions about which ones to keep, how to honor the items, the best ways to preserve them, and even whether or not to use them.
We worry that if we get rid of anything our children touch (much less make!), we’re heartless parents. We worry that if we don’t hold onto everything that belonged to our parents, we’re ungrateful children. We worry that if we use grandma’s china, we’ll break it. We worry that if we don’t sort through and organize every single photo, we might lose a moment that was captured on film.
This all-or-nothing, fear-based perspective puts so much pressure on us that we end up storing these emotionally-charged things away, never enjoying them for fear of doing the wrong thing with them.
Let’s set aside the worry and instead come up with creative ideas to get our precious mementos out of storage boxes and into regular circulation in our lives! After all, the point of saving these items is to enjoy them with gratitude and appreciation for what they mean to us.
Children’s Art and Schoolwork:
Instead of throwing your children’s art into a crowded bin that will be opened like a time capsule when the kids are adults, find ways to use and enjoy their creations now. Remember, you’re saving this stuff because it makes you as a parent happy to see your child’s creations, not because your child will remember and want them as an adult (They won’t!).
We take photographs because we want to remember the moment, so don’t hide them away in boxes or the cloud! Comprehensive photo organizing is great if you can devote the time to that project, but if you can’t, don’t let that stop you from digging in and bringing some of the photos into the light for you to enjoy now.
China, Crystal, and Fancy Things:
It doesn’t honor your grandmother to keep her china hidden away in boxes. Why not figure out some ways to use it? The worst that can happen is that you chip or break a piece, but that’s better than never seeing it at all.
We all need a place for the miscellaneous stuff that we collect: love notes, the playbill from your first Broadway musical, a flattened penny from a vacation spot, an honorable mention ribbon, etc.
These are just a few ideas that can help you enjoy your mementos in a simpler, less stressful way. The idea is to bring these beloved items out into the open without agonizing over them or committing to a time-consuming project.
What are your ideas? How do you display and enjoy your mementos? What’s your most unusual, conversation-starter keepsake?
If you’re struggling with clutter, I recommend you read The Hoarder in You: How to Live a Happier, Healthier, Uncluttered Life by Dr. Robin Zasio. Don’t be scared off by the title, this book is not just for hoarders but for all clutterers great and small.
I just finished the audiobook version – a great way to learn while on the go! Because the author is a doctor of psychology, the book provides great insight into the motivations behind why we hold onto things and get into trouble with clutter.
One part that I found particularly helpful details the difference between a collection and a stockpile. As I see it, a collection is an intentionally curated (and routinely culled) group of like items of value to you. A stockpile, on the other hand, is an accumulated mass of vaguely similar items. The distinction lies both in motivation and in method.
Here’s my synthesis of Dr. Zasio’s distinctions:
with clutter I urge y
Did you discover that you have a stockpile instead of a collection? Multiple stockpiles? If you're ready to start overcoming the clutter that's overtaking your life, drop me a line. I have strategies to help you work through the piles!