In terms of organizing projects, memorabilia can be the most difficult category to tackle. We keep tangible objects to remember an event, a place, an experience, a loved one, or just because it makes us happy.
In my personal journey of living with less, I'm no exception - this category has been the toughest for me to address throughout my life. At its peak, I had one banker's box FULL of journals, yearbooks, letters and cards and one banker's box full of childhood keepsakes.
And through the years I schlepped this stuff around the midwest and then across the country - not once, but twice. Every time the boxes would get shoved in an out-of-the-way place, like the very back of the closet. It felt so HEAVY, but I thought I needed to keep my blue personalized Snoopy license plate from my childhood bike and my surprisingly super-creepy baby doll that sported a blonde mohawk and a pink polka dot onesie.
Since moving to our 780 square foot condo in Midtown ten years ago, I've spent little pockets of time going through my memorabilia (read about it here, here, and here). I've gradually whittled my memorabilia down, little by little, and now only a handful of letters and cards remain (that I may choose to digitize at some point).
Do I miss any of those objects? Nope.
Do I feel guilty for getting rid of these items? Not one bit.
Was it easy? Sometimes, yes. A lot of times, no.
Was it worth it? Absolutely.
How'd I do it? First, I had to make the conscious decision that I didn't want to carry around these relics anymore. I also recognized that I didn't want to wait until an upcoming move to deal with it. Finally, I made a commitment to carve out time in my schedule to work for a few minutes or an hour every so often. By working on the project little by little, I was able to work through the physical stuff as well any emotional stuff that came up.
I took pictures of a few of the items before tossing them, and some letters and cards were digitized. Over time it got easier to ditch stuff. For example, if it was a sweet card or letter, I would read the message, take in a deep breath of gratitude, mentally thank the person for their lovely wishes, then let the item go.
But I had to do the work. I had to create the intention to go through the stuff. I needed to motivate myself. I needed to recognize that the benefit of having less memorabilia to lug around was greater than the cost of dealing with it, and I had to remind myself of this on a regular basis (i.e. what is my “why?”). I had to be ready to dive in to the deep end and shed light in the (potentially) dark spaces. And I had to be willing to go back for more.
By ditching the weight, literally and figuratively, I was able to shrink my memorabilia from two boxes to two handfuls of stuff. It's incredibly freeing!
Thank you, Year of Courage.