Cindy Glovinsky, author of the book Making Peace with the Things in Your Life writes that it is not fair to let your personal stuff take up valuable space in your childhood home, while you live elsewhere. Take it with you, or deal with it. Famous Japanese Professional Organizer and author Marie Kondo says; “One thing you should never do, is send boxes of sentimental items to your parents home. That is cluttering up your parents home and that is unfair.”
I left the Netherlands many years ago; it was time to deal with my personal stuff that was getting dusty in the dark attic in my dads home. On a cool summer day (the Netherlands has enough of those, one of the reasons I moved overseas), I went up to the attic to face the things I had left behind. While sorting through the stuff, I came across a big stack of old school diaries. One even dated back to 1986. I was 12 at the time.
Hmm, there I was, the trained and skilled Professional Organizer now dealing with her own reminders from the past.
Those school dairies represented me, as a teenager, in a time of insecurity, fun, dreams, and limitless adventures.
Did I really want to toss that in the bin? Could I do it alone, or did I now need a clutter buddy?
Since I made a promise to my dad to clear my clutter, I knew he would hold me accountable. There was no way back.
I gathered all the diaries, lay them out on the floor in front of me in my childhood bedroom and read each and every page. My little ritual sparked my kid’s attention. They laughed when they noticed my scribbles about the boys I had a crush on (and the ones I hated), and they couldn’t believe that Michael Jackson, WHAM and Rick Ashley were my childhood heroes. Mum, you had an unachieved for science? Yes, I also have my weaknesses.
I made photos with my iPhone and shared the funniest and most memorable pages with my best friends and younger sister, who as a 4-year-old had helped me ‘decorate’ my school bible. I tore some special papers out to take back to my own home and keep in my memories box.
Sharing school memories with people who care about me made it easier to let go of the diaries.
The stories were not lost, they were now part of my friends, sisters and kids life as well and we could bring them back any time we want.
I gently placed the diaries in the recycling bin and poured myself a glass of red wine; my little reward for tackling the job. But to be honest, my true reward is that I created a new valuable memory; the one of the day that I shared my embarrassing, funny, sad, and hilarious childhood stories with the people that love me.
Dealing with the reminders of your past, allow you to experience freedom in the future.
Do you still have items that trigger memories and are you planning to face them “someday”?
Are you holding on to these things because …
… they represent who you are
… remind you of a happy memory
… remind you of someone you lost
… remind you of a time that has passed
… you are afraid to let it go
… you feel empty without them
Sentimental items are very hard to let go of. Do not beat yourself up by calling yourself weak for avoiding that job. It is very normal to feel nervous and emotional.
Let nobody force you to get rid of your memories. The best approach is to deal with it whenever you feel you are ready, like I was. You are the one that has to face the items, recall the memories and them make decisions about keeping or discarding them. Only then you can leave the past behind, and confidently move on.
Just be aware that “someday” may never come. The first decision you have to make is when “someday” is and then schedule that in your calendar.
To make it a little easier for you, download this checklist that guides you through the process.
Feel free to email me if you have questions or need support.