I'm sentimental. How sentimental I didn't realize until recently. I found a scrap book with ticket stubs and other paper treasures from 7 years ago, and a whole drawer of trinkets from events I've attended that I just can't seem to part with.
I've been struggling for a while with a desire to live a minimalistic lifestyle, and the desire to preserve memories. There is something about an uncluttered life that really appeals to me. The ability to pack up and move whenever you want. Having few things to care for. Your space being cleaner, for the most part. I like all of that. I also like knowing that my kids will be able to see the NASA Tweetup badges I've collected, and the ticket stubs from my trips overseas. With my big cross country relocation happening rather soon, I need to figure out how to find a balance.
Here is what I'm learning.
Last weekend I went through my closet. The photos to the right and below are what happened. I went from a full rack of dresses and business-wear down to a mere two feet of bar space. That space under the empty hangars is now filled with boxes that need to be sold or given away. So far only one is going to live with my parents for safe keeping. I can't say how great it felt to see those 7 (YES, SEVEN!) bags of clothes disappear. I didn't wear them anyway, they were just holding me back.
Sorting through the papers and boxes of memories was harder. I found things I saved from trips to India and Romania, but haven't looked at in years. This is as good a time as any to sort through life and choose what is most important, but that doesn't mean I didn't cringe a little seeing them go into recycling. As I watched the bin fill up, and my memories condense, it made me feel bold again. It's a little reckless to let go and make space for new experiences. I like it. You should try it...
1. Don't do it all at once
I've gotten myself suck in the corner of a room, surrounded by papers and boxes, looking at every single thing, making the hard decisions of what to keep and what to toss. A much better idea is to pick one box or drawer and take that on by it's self. Odds are you are bigger than it is, so you'll win.
2. Do it more than once
Going through a box or set of sentimental items a second time with the same purpose - condensing - will give you an even better perspective on what's important, and a smaller pile in the end.
3. Choose a size and stick with it
Me, I'm limited by the size of my car for the most part. That's how much stuff I can keep. (No matter what, gear stays. I don't care if I have to mail it.) Go to the container store (aka. Heaven) and choose a sturdy box that will fit the space you want to fill and stick to it. If it doesn't go in, it doesn't stay.
4. Remember the objects aren't memories
When you get rid of an object, you aren't throwing away the memory with it. I'm remembering the movie "Up" where the main character decides to move forward with his life and pushes his treasured objects out the door. Things are temporary. Find other ways to honor those memories: Photos, small scrap books, journals... all small space-saving ways to keep memories close.