Memories… – Sentimental Clutter


Photo of David’s great-great great (far left) and great-great (middle) grandfathers

We have come to the last of the kinds of clutter that Colleen at 365 Less Things discusses that are difficult to disassociate from:  Sentimental Clutter.

Sentimental clutter, the final post in the Disassociation Series. Last but not least that is, because this one can be the most insidious of all of the categories of clutter. It sneaks up on you and binds itself to you like a barnacle to a rock. It can be a beautiful thing and a ball and chain all at the same time.

Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying that all sentimental items are clutter. I own sentimental items that I have no intentions of ever parting with and I don’t consider them clutter. I have also decluttered many items that had sentimental value that I wasn’t compelled to keep once I decided what was more important to me, the item or the space. There were also sentimental items that never saw the light of day and under those conditions one has to ask the question ~ How much sentimental value does it have if…

  • I never look at it.
  • I don’t care to put it out on display.
  • I still recall the event, person or place without ever viewing the item.
  • it is more trouble to care for it than I care about it.

Colleen has some excellent tips for clearing out Sentimental Clutter, and a few really resonated with me.  Keep only the pieces that mean the most to you and discard the rest.  Ease into it by picking an item you can live without and releasing it; after you see how you respond to that, let go of another one.  Only eliminate when you are sure and ready.

This quote was really enlightening: “We hold allegiances to these items for what they represent while at the same time realise that we want to live a life with less clutter. That trick is to determine which way the scales fall for each individual item and make your choice.”

I am swamped with Sentimental Clutter.  I have boxes of photos, boxes of memorabilia, boxes of clothes from our pasts, boxes of things that I rarely look at but can’t seem to part with.  In some cases, delaying making choices is counterproductive: by not getting my photos into scrapbooks, I am forgetting the details that made the stories special.  In other cases, I realize that my lack of action is keeping people who could really use these items from benefiting now.  (I should follow Flylady’s advice and Bless the World.)  Mostly, though, I am burying myself under the past, ruining my present by having to worry about it, and not leaving space in my future for the peace I need so much more than stuff.

  • {Clutter} released:  A big stack of catalogs, two big shakers (the kind you would use for Parmesan cheese or red pepper flakes) that were still unused since our wedding 19.5 years ago, and 11 more cookbooks.  (Those darn cookbooks are going to be spread out on the dining room table until this job is done.  There are still 44 cookbooks left to go through.  Did I mention I rarely cook?  That’s some serious Aspirational Clutter.)

2 thoughts on “Memories… – Sentimental Clutter

  1. Oh, and I got my hair cut. What kind of clutter released is that? You know how difficult it was to say, “Go ahead. Chop it all off. However much you think is right.”

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