Sentimental Stuff 

Ah, here comes the part of the project that we all dread. Most of us anyway, and some  more than others.  Saying goodbye to the sentimental stuff… You know: Your letterman jacket.  Old school work.  The t-shirt your grandma bought you while on vacation in Cleveland.  

How can we say goodbye to things that have meaning?  

Here’s the thing. Obviously you don’t HAVE to bid anything farewell if you don’t want to. Keep as much stuff as you want, it’s your life! BUT I do think we should ask ourselves a question… Why do we hold onto things that we don’t wear or use – things that just sit in our homes collecting dust, taking up space? So we can occasionally stumble upon them during Spring Cleaning and say, “Aww. I remember this!”? Not that there is anything wrong with that, but, in my own experience, I had way too much of that going on.  I was holding onto items just because… either it was a gift from someone or I didn’t think it needed to go. (It’s doing just fine in the back of my closet, thank you.)

If you’re looking to simplify your home and lifestyle, here are my quick tips for dealing with the sentimental stuff:

  1. FAHGEDDABOUTIT. As you go through your closet, dresser, attic, garage, etc., try to not think about where that item came from, who gave it to you, etc. Just look at it as something you own and ask yourself: DO I USE THIS? HOW OFTEN? There will definitely be things with special meaning that are”off limits” when it comes to this technique (maybe a family heirloom, or the earrings you wore on your wedding day) but if you really commit to being practical and forget about the sentiment (as hard as that is!) you might surprise yourself with how much you’re able to purge. 
  2. USE IT OR LOSE IT.  If you haven’t used or worn something in the past year, it’s probably time to say goodbye. See if anyone you know could use it, or donate it to Goodwill.  Let someone else enjoy whatever it is! 
  3. SCAN IT TO MEMORY. Try scanning certificates, old school work, letters, etc. and save them onto a flash drive, that way you can keep the memories but save on space! Sure, maybe some of the romance is lost in the digital copy but you can always choose to save hard copies of the ones that mean the most, and just scan the rest. 

Now let’s be clear about what it means to get rid of this stuff. 

It does not make you a bad person. 

It does not mean you don’t care about special memories, or your grandma’s trip to Cleveland. 

Of course you care, but it doesn’t mean you have to hold onto everything for the rest of your life. Material items shouldn’t define us, and the guilt associated with letting things go shouldn’t define us either.  It’s one thing if you get rid of a gift someone JUST gave you (RUDE!) but if you’ve enjoyed it for a while and it’s run its course and you’re not really using it anymore, I think you can safely say goodbye guilt-free. 😉 

When I went through my belongings, I was really selective with the items I said “YES” to.  I didn’t get rid of blankets my grandmother crocheted for us, or the wooden jewelry box that Mitch had engraved with a poem he wrote for me. There are several things I kept, but several (boxes of) items I decided to donate.  Of course it helped that this portion of “the big purge” happened at the time of our move and we were trying to fit everything into the smallest Uhaul, but I want to maintain this train of thought as we settle into our life here in Oregon. I want to continue to keep things simple, to own less, knowing life can just as meaningful (maybe even MORE meaningful) without all the sentimental space invaders. 


A KEEPER: My dad’s senior shirt! He gave this to me years ago and I actually wear it quite a bit. It’s the softest shirt ever, and it means a lot to me!


The shirt is so faded now but there he is! Arvid Russell, Super Senior! 😄


DIDN’T MAKE THE CUT: This tournament shirt from my high school basketball days (AKA 4 years of believing I was going get taller.) If you can’t tell, I cut the sleeves off because… well, all the cool kids were doing it.


I would love to hear about your own experiences with sentimental stuff. Have you ever gotten rid of anything that you had for a long time? What special things are you holding onto? 


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