This month's focus: The Sentimental Stuff
Tip of the Month: 8 Ways to Sort Through the Sentimental
The souvenirs from your last 10 trips. The Christmas cards from 1998. The prize-winning science project your son or daughter did. Your grandmother's china. How do you sort through all of this, and decide what to keep? Here are some guidelines to help.
1. Decide to honor the past, but not be chained down by it. And realize that disposing of an object does not in any way reflect on your respect and love for the person who gave it to you, or who owned it before. If we don't ever dispose of things from our past, we leave no room in our spaces for the present and the future.
2. Be selective; consider employing some rules of thumb. For example, you may decide you don't need to keep any Christmas cards that don't have a personal note or a photo. (And please don't save cards from your newspaper carrier, your dentist, and people you don't particularly like - or even remember!) Watching and listening to my clients, it's usually easy to tell which items are the keepers - they are the ones that bring on the big smiles or the laughter.
3. Consider setting limits. Limits can be numeric (I will only save x number of my child's drawings from this year) or space-related (I will only save what fits in this box). And if you are deciding about your children's artwork or schoolwork, it's often wise to involve them in making the choices.
4. Consider space-saving alternatives. Sometimes taking a picture of a bulky item will preserve the memory just fine, and you can let the item itself move on. I horrified a friend by ripping up my high school yearbook - but I really only wanted about 10 pages, not the whole heavy thing.
5. Be realistic. Do you like making scrapbooks? If not, it's perfectly fine to save memorabilia in a nice box.
6. Preserve what you're keeping. If it's worth saving, it's worth either displaying, or storing it appropriately. I'm always sad to see mementos that have been ruined by bugs, water, sunlight, etc.
7. Be gentle with yourself. If you are dealing with the belongings of someone who has recently died, or are grieving from some other loss, you are often best served by taking things gradually and deferring many of your what-to-keep decisions.
8. Be cautious about what souvenirs you buy in the first place. It's easy to get carried away when traveling and buy something that you'll find less enchanting once you've been home for six weeks.
Quote of the Month
Be sure you distinguish keepsakes from aftermath junk. . . This consists of keeping something to remind you of a terrible experience, like the knife that cut the tendon in your hand, that old cast, your kidney stones, your ex-boyfriend's insulting letter and even his frayed jacket, the cleats you were wearing when you scored the goal for the other team and lost the national tournament.
--Don Aslett, Clutter's Last Stand
Service of the Month: Preserve Your Memories in Unusual Ways