The Value in Organizing Your Past

We all spend our lifetimes creating memories. We want to savor the good times and sometimes commemorate the sad ones.  Time does not stand still, and so we must understand that “this too shall pass,” doesn’t merely refer to the hardships…it means that even the happiest of times must come to an eventual end.  All the more reason to appreciate and treasure them.  Sustainable organization is key.

But it takes great effort and TLC to preserve and honor our memories.  So often, we are rushing through our lives and don’t take the time to organize the memories.  Taking digital photos is great, but how frequently do we print them out into albums?  Storing them in organized folders on your desktop is easy and accessible, but is it ever utilized?  I bet, no.  I would guess that friends, family, and even next generation, would enjoy sharing them more in a book they can all touch.

To me, it’s all about sustainable memories, and I’m going to tell you why.  My mother has always had a proclivity to organize everything, especially our family photo albums. She took great pride in creating a pictorial account of our entire family history, organized and labeled each binder in consecutive years. The albums trace the lives of my parents even prior to their marriage, and on through through their golden years.  All of our family memories are captured in those albums; countless vacations, birthday and anniversary celebrations, camp visiting days, holidays, weddings, births, bar and bat-mitzvahs of my children, are all documented.  Truly, it is storytelling at its best.  My Dad has since passed, and so I find significant comfort in glancing through these special albums with not only my Mom, but with the rest of my family.

This past winter, my brother (who resides in Italy for the past 20 years) and I, shared a short visit in Florida, where my mother now lives.  We reminisced through our childhood and had fun connecting the pieces of our past. The best part about it was that we were able to pinpoint a particular year that we wanted to revisit, and immerse ourselves in that album. We took turns picking favorite years and times of our lives. One of my my favorites is still the 1942 album where I can gaze at my Dad as a handsome young soldier.  My own children get to see a different kind of Grandpa too.  Priceless.

These photos are not strewn all over in some random box in the attic, nor separated or torn in tattered envelopes. They were honored, preserved and displayed into beautifully bound photo albums.  These will pass down for generations to come for all to enjoy. They will not be lost.

And as the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I continue the tradition of organizing our family photo albums.  I get kidded for this all the time, but everyone can always depend on me for having the latest celebration in our most recent album.

The organization of your past need not stop at photos. If you have an old collection of favorite tee shirts, there are quilting companies that will sew them all into a beautiful patchwork quilt.  What an amazing way to honor the actual fabric of your life!  You may not be able to still wear them, but you can definitely still enjoy them.  They are a part of your past that can still bring you pleasure todaySustainable.

One of my clients was struggling with letting go of her abundant collection of special cartoon logo sweaters that were just sitting on a shelf in her closet (they are now too small, and she hasn’t any daughters to pass them down to) until I suggested she create comfy blankets out of them for her sons.  She was teary-eyed at the thought of passing down this very special piece of her and being able to still enjoy them, in yet a different way.   It’s something her children will always have and can pass down to their children.  Sustainable.

Ditto to sport jerseys, medals, or any memorabilia…place them in a shadow box and frame them.  Trophies can be deconstructed and then you could just mount and display the award plaque on a velvet backdrop, with pride.

Find innovative and resourceful ways to organize your past and create sustainable memories for your family.  They will find immeasurable value in it because you’ve shown them how to cherish things you love.

Now that’s what I would call a teachable moment with great sustainability.


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