>> Friday, February 25, 2011 – Shop-Not Chronicles
I didn't expect it to be so hard. When Vanessa suggested we sort through Janice's clothes and personal items so Jon wouldn’t have to tackle with the task himself, I readily agreed. But I wasn't prepared for how bittersweetly personal the process would be. I didn't expect to find the lists – scraps of paper with Christmas and birthday gift ideas scratched in black ink and stuffed deep into jacket pockets. I didn't expect the clothes – jackets and blouses, tee shirts and hats – to be so drenched with memories. It wasn’t just cotton, silk and wool. It was the jacket she wore to her 65th birthday lunch in the Keys; the spattered tee-shirt she painted in; the fleece sweatshirt she bought when we were in the Berkshires together.
I didn't expect to have so much trouble parting with these items either. I wanted to keep just about everything, even the clothes that wouldn't possibly fit me, even the vases that were, frankly, hideous. Simply because the memories were precious. And because everything was hers.
A month or so ago as I browsed the shelves at Barnes & Noble I picked up Unstuff Your Life, by Andrew Mellen, and spent some time curled in a chair, leafing through its pages. I was drawn to this book like an ant to a sweet peony bud.
I didn't buy the book, but I took copious notes because Mellen suggested great tips for sorting clutter, organizing my home (and car!) and even shopping.
This statement by the author embedded in his chapter about collections and mementos, stopped me short:
"If everything is precious, nothing is precious."
Isn't that the truth? If everything is precious, nothing is precious.
I don't know about you, but that's exactly where I run afoul. It happened when I sorted through Janice's clothes, shoes, purses, jewelry and vases. I wanted to keep it all, because nearly all of it was associated with a sweet memory.
And it happens with my kids' things, too: macaroni ornaments, glitter snowflakes, clay Martians and reams of school papers. Teeny onesies and stuffed lambs and Goodnight Moon. Nearly every item is associated with a memory. Nearly every art project is special.
But the author speaks the truth: if everything is precious, nothing is precious.
So that's my mantra as I continue to sort and separate. I keep the favorites Lambie and Lovie, but I haul two dozen neglected stuffed animals to the Goodwill.
I keep the quilts Great Grandma Hilma made for each of the boys, and the afghan my mom crocheted when Noah was born, but I cram receiving blankets, hooded bath towels and even the hand-embroidered pillow cases stitched by I-don't-know-who into a trash bag bound for the trunk.
I keep two of Janice’s vases, a purse, a skirt, one tee-shirt, a sweatshirt and a few pieces of costume jewelry, including the photo charm bracelet we gave her for Mother’s Day last year. I donate the rest of what I brought home from Minnesota to the Goodwill.
And last week I wore the earrings Janice personally gave to me just three weeks before she died.
Because those? Those are precious.
What's your sorting style? Keep everything or select precious few?
[I'm including this post in my Shop-Not Chronicles, because strangely, not shopping has led to sorting, simplifying and donating, too!]
Linking up with Cheryl for her Saturday Simplify series: