Sunday, June 1, 2014

Honoring Memories Through Possessions

I was recently inspired by one of my Your Simple Home clients. While at her home, my client explained that she had a hard time letting go of gifts family and good friends give her even if she absolutely hates the item. Because the item was given with love, she was filled with feelings of guilt at even the thought of letting it go. We decided to start off small and tackle a bookshelf in her study. We came across a lot of clutter, however, she shared some extraordinary items full of family history and amazing memories.

One item was a framed, handwritten letter from her great-grandmother.  She wrote the following story: "...this letter was written by my great-grandmother to (in the voice of my grandmother) announce the birth of my maternal grandmother. I cherish it not only because it is a family heirloom, but because it is written in a very different era (hand-written, even) after World War I but before World War II. Simply put, it was a period I cannot fathom but this piece at least allows me to imagine."

The second item was a vintage Ken doll,  She wrote,  "When my paternal grandparents came to this country after the Holocaust, their financial resources were obviously limited. My understanding is that both of my aunts received Barbie dolls... sort of. My oldest aunt was given a Barbie doll, while my younger aunt was given Ken. You can imagine the disappointment that my aunt felt. So my aunt gave this doll to me when I was about 13-years old. It serves as a reminder of what my family went through in order to thrive in this country and the sacrifices---big or small---that had to be made by all. It is not particularly attractive nor is it in good condition, but it's of great importance to me."

We discussed how these items made her smile, brought her joy and many positive family memories.  We then worked to declutter the items on the bookshelf that did not bring her joy and that took up space and energy.  By getting rid of the excess styff, these treasured items could be displayed and honored in a way that they could be enjoyed by her and her family on a daily basis.

She wrote, "Being able to have both items represented in the room has been wonderful!"

We all assign emotional value to our possessions, and if an item carries memories of loved ones, they can bring all sorts of emotions to us.  When clutter is an issue in our lives it comes time to take stock of the possessions we have and think about why we have them.

Questions to consider:

Does the item bring me good memories or bad ones?

Do I enjoy having this in my home and in my life?

Am I able to enjoy the item on a daily basis?

Sometimes we love the sentimental items we own but they become lost on shelves, in piles and in storage.  When this happens, we do not honor the memories the item gives us and we miss out. Getting rid of the excess, of the items that do not invoke positive emotions, we make room for the ones we cherish.  Our homes should be places of comfort and joy.  By making conscious decisions of what comes in we can maintain those feelings.

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