Memories Aren't Kept in Material Things

Monday, February 24, 2014

After my mom passed away in 2009, my sister and I had the task of cleaning up the house and putting it up for sale. This meant going through all her things and deciding what was what. We trashed a lot. We kept a lot more.

I moved out of the house and brought more than half of it with me in storage boxes and shoved it into my spacious size 1300 square foot townhouse. It wasn't comfortable but it fit. Then, I downsized to a modest 900 sq. foot apartment with the husband and half of the went into storage and the other half is clogging up our closests and floors.

We have stuff EVERYWHERE. And I mean everywhere. Our apartment is bursting at the seams along with our extra storage unit where we keep everything else. ok, by "we" and "our", I actually mean, "me" and "mine."

This is one area where the, "What's mine is yours," concept of marriage does not apply. It's my junk and my husband is in now way responsible for it explosion. And quite frankly, he might just be ready to ship me and my junk overseas. I have heard, "Why do we have all this stuff?" more times than I would like to count. I never got it. Never really understood.

I mean, I might need that sparkly shirt I haven't worn in 2 years if I'm invited to a 16 year olds birthday party. Or i I am ever out of hobbies, that clarinet could come in handy. My favorite one is the fact that I should save that for our future home/future kids/future life.

But something else also hit me, most likely that fell out of a closet. Or I fell over something one too many times. It could also be me struggling to get our storage unit open because it's stuffed like a turkey at Thanksgiving. Enough is enough.

I found I held on to a lot of stuff that was my mom's or in our old house, just to keep the memories and the joy. But lately, these items I held onto to keep the happiness from my mom's life are actually causing me more stress. Every time I open another full closet. Every time I have to take a drive to the storage unit. Every time I think of the boxes at my in-laws.

It's time for these material things to move on from me. Let them move to a house where they will make new memories with a shelf my mom had my grandma's bells on or playing my mom's old records. My mom's smile will not leave my memory just because these "things" are. The memory of her dancing in a Disney store won't mysteriously disappear when I ship off a carton of holiday decorations.  And I will still remember the shopping trips that were made for the shirts I can't seem to say good-bye to.

Four piles of trash have made their way out the door in the past month. Another full pile has made it's way to donations. (Hello, tax deduction.) And I am finally feeling a little lighter.

The emotional weight is starting to lift and my closets are starting to look a little more roomy. Those material things don't make me. My family, friends and who I am as a person make me. It wasn't hard letting those "things" go. That's because they are just" thing." Not memories.

Have you ever held onto sentimental items? Do you live a minimalist life  and would like to share some tips?


  1. Well you know I'm minimalist, and I know sentimental stuff is the hardest to let go of. Two tips I can give you. 1) Take a photo of the item, then let it go. Photos take up less room. 2) Only keep the best. You don't need to keep all the holiday decorations or shirts to remember those times. Just keep one. One best holiday decoration that will bring back all your memories. Let the others go so someone can make new memories with them.

  2. I'm guilty of the same thing. I keep so much. If it was a gift, I always feel guilty getting rid of it, even if I don't use it/wear it anymore, so I usually keep it. My husband is always saying we have too much stuff and he's right. We still have stuff sitting in our office from when we moved in...1.5 years ago! If we haven't used it in that amount of time, why do we even have it? I need to get serious and go on a major Spring cleaning session in our always feels so much better to get rid of clutter and have a neat and organized room/house.

  3. I am the same way! I keep a lot of things for sentimental value and then I reach a point where I just get so frustrated and throw everything out!

  4. Thanks for the great tips, as always. Fingers crossed, I will have at least 2 vehicles less of stuff to move in June!

  5. I can't wait for it to get warmer for this reason. It will be even easier to trash things because right now, the trash is far away. And it's cold. Very cold.

  6. Let's call it.. the frustration binge? When we're frustrated, it all goes!


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