No Stranger to Sentiments

Many of my clients have sentimental objects or family heirlooms that are not even considered when we are in the purging process of organizing their lives. I have a lot of compassion in this area; we all have items from a memorable time that justify hanging onto them. Ask yourself a vital question: why am I keeping this?

Sentimental items are meant to be admired and enjoyed, loved and used. Keep them where you can see them. If they are among clutter and covered with dust how special can they be? Are they stored in your garage or attic; how memorable are they? If you have china that has been passed down several generations, but no one has ever used it, it may have value, but it is not sentimental. People make it sentimental, not things.

My mom gave me a Raggedy Ann doll when I was a young girl. She had red wool hair, pretty clothes, a big smile, and a heart on her chest that read “I love you”. I treasured that doll, not just because she was beautiful, but because my mom had given her to me.

I kept Raggedy Ann on my bed for years. I would wash her clothes to keep her looking fresh. She even made appearances in family photos with the cat!!

Many years later, I got married. It didn’t seem appropriate to keep her on the bed any longer, so I very carefully placed her in a box and put her on the shelf.

Annually my husband and I would clean out the basement, we would purge all kinds of things; Ann however was not up for discussion. I would open the box; feel warmth in my heart, love for my mom and joy to see Ann’s smiling face again. She may not have suited our bedroom any longer, but she was not leaving that house!

After my organizing and purging skills were finely honed, I realized it was crazy to keep this beautiful doll a ‘prisoner’ in our basement. I was done with her, and probably had been for years. Only the guilt of letting her go, and the idea that my mom’s love for me was in that doll, kept me from releasing her sooner.

We often project our feelings onto material objects making them impossible to let go of. I just knew it was time. That beautiful doll was meant to be noticed and loved daily!

I pulled Ann out of the box, washed and pressed her pretty clothes, re-dressed her and took her to work. I gave her to a co-worker whose young daughter loved dolls. She took Ann home and told me her daughter was elated to have received her.

I felt good. Good turned to great when we were invited to my friend’s house for dinner. It was our first time there, so they gave us a tour of their home. Nothing could prepare me for the feeling when they opened the door of their daughter’s bedroom. There sat Raggedy Ann leaning on the pillows on her bed. She was surrounded by a bunch of other stuffed toys and dolls. That smile on her face was much bigger than I had ever remembered!  I felt a lump in my throat.

Ann was being used for her intended purpose. The little girl was happy and I was released from the burden of holding Ann prisoner in our basement.

The most important part of this lesson for me was that the love I share with my mom had nothing to do with that doll.

Letting go can be challenging and emotional, but the other side is alive with freedom. When we let go we create a space for something else to show up. It may not be a thing; it could be an idea, a person or an opportunity.

Sometimes our relationship with a certain thing ends; it doesn’t change, we do. We cannot decide for someone else when they are done with a particular thing. Equally, hanging onto everything can make for a very unhappy home. Our relationships with each other are far more important than the things.

Sylvia Robinson says “some think it’s holding on that makes one strong; sometimes it’s letting go”.

To your clutter free life!