It’s hard to get rid of “junk” but even harder to minimize memories.
When my dad died years ago, he left behind decades of photos, small mementos from his travels and many other things! My mother stored them all in the attic of our family home that she still currently lives in. There are MANY boxes of pictures from the 10 years we shared together as a family and the years they shared together before me. After his sudden death, everything was packed up and stored away because the grief was too much. We kept out a few framed photos and the rest was tucked away.
Over the years we slowly let go of some items but every picture was saved. I wanted to keep them all so as I grew older, I would never forgot the memories captured in those pictures. Every memory provided me with a feeling of joy. This after all was going to be my only tangible connection to him, connection to my childhood, and to my grief.
Seven years ago, my mother who has been a Home Cleaning Specialist her whole life. Always assisting others in keeping their home tidy, clean, and organized was ready to dive into her own attic and start going through the memories. She spent years feeling the energy of all the emotions stored away upstairs. It was difficult, but she slowly started going through each box. I would venture over to her house and go down memory lane, shed some tears, and also share laughter. After going through each box and feeling all the feels, she decided that it was time to let them go. My mom knew that she could visit those memories anytime she wanted in her heart and her mind. She was ready to "clear out the attic", clear out the sentimental clutter, as well as the grief that was tucked away for decades within those boxes. I couldn’t have been more proud and happy for her on her journey of letting go, finding peace and some clarity.
So, what did we do with all those boxes (12) of albums, pictures, and items?
No surprise, I took them all! Yes, ALL OF THEM! I took those special, very meaningful boxes and SHOVED them on the top shelf of our shelving unit in the basement! I thought to myself... “I will go through this and make sure they are organized and stored properly. It will be fun”.
Well, here we are.. seven years later and the emotions from the sentimental clutter in those boxes eat me up every time I think about it or go into the basement. They make me anxious. Anxious because it’s emotional clutter and it forces me to revisit a very sad time in my life. I’m anxious because it’s something that I continually put off. I’m anxious because this is what I do for my profession, I help people with this very same thing, EVERY day! I feel slightly embarrassed because I, myself have a difficult time.
Do you know what I tell our clients when I meet them and they say they are embarrassed? I tell them that embarrassment and shame is a wasted emotion and to be kind to themselves because no one is judging.
How can I do this for others, and not for myself? <--------- Read that again.
We often help others before we help ourselves.
It’s TIME for me to tackle this project with the help of Celeste of course! (my business partner, Professional Organizer, and Friend) I need her help, support, and guidance. I personally need someone to help me because I know that I will get sidetracked and simply not be as productive.
Julie Holland, MD, a psychiatrist says that Sentimental clutter is the adult equivalent of a teddy bear. I felt that! Emotionally charged items explain to us who we are and where we came from. They give us a sense of self.
Here are 7 steps that helped me understand what and how to let go of SENTIMENTAL CLUTTER
1. Box it up (loose items)
2. Get help (if you need it) I scheduled time with Celeste!
3. Work in short intervals
4. Take pictures (of items that you are letting go of physically)
5. Save the best, toss the rest
6. Give items a new home
7. Know your ABCs (Always Be Clearing ).
Part 2 of this blog will be out next week; it will provide detailed information regarding each step
Being Vulnerable is a huge part of this process.
Give yourself permission to get rid of things that you once cherished.