Question: What Are You Holding On To?

Decluttering sentimental items

Last week, I received an email from a lovely reader asking for help dealing with her old, sentimental items. For her and those of you struggling with the same issues, this post from earlier in the year should get you sorted! x

 

So far this year I have rid our home of hundreds of unwanted, unneeded items. Some big, some small, some expensive, some cheap, some important, some meaningless. And I’m proud of how level-headed and realistic I’ve remained. The attraction of a slower home and a simpler life have been strong enough to keep me focused. To see the bigger picture.

And then two cheap Made in Taiwan ceramic figurines, a tacky piece of the Berlin wall and some empty cardboard boxes turned me to tears.

Because sometimes, things are more than things, aren’t they? At least that’s how we feel.

The cheap figurines? Hand-me-downs from my grandmother, to remind me of her when she’s gone.

That tacky piece of the Berlin Wall? A gift from my Dad when he was on a business trip, to let me know he was thinking of me.

The hundreds of empty jewellery boxes? They are dreams and hopes for my self-founded business. They are also the failures that saw me close the business down.

And we hold on to them.

But in this quest for a simpler, slower life, we need to realise that things are just things. They may remind us of the grandmother once she has passed away, or the love of our father, or the dreams we once had.

But the knick-knacks? They are not my grandmother’s memory.

The Berlin Wall encased in perspex? Not my Dad’s love.

Those empty jewellery boxes? Not my ambition, my intelligence or my dreams.

They are just things. And not even beautiful or useful things. They are things that are a weight on me. Because I don’t love them. I will never use them. But I feel that I have to keep them because someone I love gave them to me. Or because I invested so much time, energy and money into them and what they represent.

So they weigh heavily.

But do you know what I discovered when I finally let go? When I eventually tossed 251 jewellery boxes in the recycling bin?

We can be light instead. We can feel free. Free from useless clutter. Free from failures. Free from whatever we’re holding on to.

 

Believe me, I understand this is infinitely harder to act on than it is to write.

Confession: I still have the ceramic figures. Which is OK.

But it’s OK because I’ve gone through the process. I truly understand they are not the love, the memory, the realness of the people who gave them to me.

And for you to know what is OK to keep, you need to go through the process too. So tomorrow I will give you three questions to ask yourself when decluttering sentimental items.

But in the meantime, answer this question, “If I was completely free, what would I let go of?”

 

There’s no doubt life can be fast. Often too fast. Too much. Too stressful. Too overwhelming. On days like that we will tell ourselves there’s no time to slow down.
But there’s always time for a little slow, even on the busiest day. Join us for 365 Days of Slow and commit to a moment of slow, every day for a year. Learn more and sign up right here.

One Response to Question: What Are You Holding On To?

  1. What a wonderful post. I struggle with this one thing more than anything else. It took me literally years to throw out the files of research for a PhD I never finished – *years*. But similar to what you say, there was a process I had to go through (possibly the acceptance that a PhD was no longer what I wanted or needed) and only once that was done was I ready to chuck them. Man, it felt good :)My mom collected carved cat figurines for years but when she died I really could not bear to cart them all to my house on another continent where space is already at a premium. So I chose the teensiest one – a little stylised metal cat with an arched back – to slip into my pocket. It sits above my computer now and I smile and think of my mom each time I see it.

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