Weighing in on the Sentimental Clutter

Day 12: (May 8 ) Peter Walsh’s wise words are ringing in my ears today.  “It’s not about the stuff, rather its about your relationship with the the stuff”.  Weeding is an emotional process, and today was filled with  bittersweet reflection and discoveries. I chose to sort through my personal boxes, (my organized childhood boxes passed down from my Mom) containing my high school and college years, and life before marriage and kids. Since I  sensed this to be an intense and emotional journey, I decided to make the weed a joyful experience and celebrate my youth. The weather was spectacular, sunny and bright, and rather than enclosing myself in the basement on such a beautiful day, I carried each and every box upstairs and outside to my deck to sort.  There I was, by myself (my choice) surrounded with my entire life’s trail.  Couldn’t wait to dive in.

It was actually like a visiting day of my life… a chance to check into my past, visit the memories, reflect, remember, and then let go of some of the physical things that ignited them. I needed to feel what I wanted to feel, process the emotions, store the memory in my heart, and then I was able to let it go.

Interestingly, some of the stuff I put aside yesterday, I was able to let go today. Stepping away from it for a day really helped me detach from the emotional connection. My 32-year old wedding gown was never loomed or preserved in any way (who knew?) , it was yellowed with age, not bride-worthy, so I took a picture and let it go. Same for the wedding mementos.  I was thrilled to visit with them, but today I had no real issues with letting them go.  Saving the honeymoon suite keys, or hotel bills, etc.. served no purpose.  It didn’t even rekindle a moment, I had saved it….. just because.

The best revelation about today was that sometimes there is a good thing about keeping and saving stuff. My Mom had kept and organized (of course she did!) all my summer camp letters from age 6-15 yrs. old, passed them on to me, and I simply boxed them for safe keeping.  First thought was to just skim through, but believe it or not, I decided to read each and every one!  As I got immersed into my childhood memories, I couldn’t stop.  This was an awakening. I will now be so much more sensitive about how time-consuming the weeding process can take, in regards to sentimental clutter .  Dare I risk missing out on a priceless letter? If it was important enough to save them in the first place, I thought I should at least respect the choice, and read them.  Letter after letter, postcard after postcard (yes…postcards! dating myself, for sure) my childhood unraveled before me.  Every now and then, a memory would reveal itself as sharp as a tack, recalling that very day, the way it smelled, moments described with such accuracy, that I actually remember writing it.

The earlier years were extraordinary and even with my awkward misspelled handwriting still captured the core of me.  Through the later years, my personality was unfolding and it was at that moment, I realized that I had to share this very personal journey with my children.  What a wonderful gift for them to see the ME before I was their Mom; to get acquainted with a person they never knew.  It’s one thing to talk with your kids about your childhood, but it’s quite different than bearing witness to the actual growth with the authentic tactile letters.  How sweet and rich this is to have my kids catch a glimpse of my innocence and vulnerability. Priceless opportunity.

As I read through the letters, I set aside only the precious ones and filled a shoebox,  and labeled it “Read and Toss”, so when the kids come home tomorrow, we can share, laugh, cry, and then I will be able to let it go. I can’t wait to share this part of my life with them.  Small treasures discovered today.  Sometimes it’s a great thing to save stuff!