Well it seems we have finally made it to the final lesson of the Konmari method. It's been interesting for me to go back and re-read this book. It actually made me notice things I didn't notice the first time, but it also had me questioning things I hadn't put much thought in to the first time.
I have realized that I will always be decluttering my home. There are things I have chosen to keep but they won't be lifelong items in my home. Some of those items are things that the kids use now, but will outgrow eventually, and that will be the time to discard them. I actually get joy out of purging things. With just one exception.....
Yep, I am a sucker for photos, and kids school work. So while I could get rid of almost anything, the sentimental stuff is not that stuff.
When I got to this part of the book the first time, I struggled with it. I had a lot of stuff I knew I shouldn't be holding onto and wondered why I was, but I still could not let it go. Things like old high school memorabilia, random old photos, and old notes. I also wondered if other people actually kept all this "stupid stuff" as I began to call it. I called it stupid because it was starting to make me a little nuts. I got to the point where I wanted to get rid of it, but still felt guilt for doing such. So I read the sentimental chapter again that same day, and it finally hit me...I don't need to feel guilty.
Do you still have memorabilia from high school? Such as awards or sports stuff? I am here to tell you it's ok to get rid of it. The awards you earned in high school have served their only purpose which was to give you a sense of pride then, and maybe increase your confidence to help you in the future. But that was a long time ago. You aren't 17 years old anymore and you should be living life here and now not in the past. Smile at the memory of those awards you got then let them go. You will not lose the memory just because the item is gone. You will always have the memories because those are in your heart not in the object. Those items were stuck in a box, that you probably never thought about until now. There is no need to feel guilty for letting go of an object that has already lived it life and fulfilled it's purpose. You'll be happier if you do because you won't have some object from the past weighing you down.
Do you have any sentimental items that actually conjure up bad memories? If so, then you REALLY should let them go. You really don't want or need those bad memories to come back every time you see that object laying around. Let those bad memories go so you can heal those wounds. These items could include photos of people who may have done you wrong, and you no longer have a relationship with. Do you really need those photos laying around anywhere where it could bring back all those bad memories? Probably not, especially if you are going to heal from the heartbreak.
Maybe you lost a close family member, and after the funeral the funeral home gave you the guest book. If you still have the guest book, or sympathy cards, PLEASE get rid of them. The funeral home only gave you the guest book so you could write thank you cards to those who came or sent flowers. Which, I never even knew you were supposed to send until my mother passed away, and my dad gave me that job. But once that job is completed you will want to throw out that guest book, and all the cards. Those will never conjure of good memories. There are probably so many other things you could keep as mementos and to honor your family member. Things that will fill your heart with joy and make you smile remembering that person. You already have memories stuck in your brain of the day of the funeral. You can't un-remember that day, so why do you need memorabilia to help you remember it more. Do you really want to remember that day even more than you already do? I know I would much rather forget that day and remember all the days from when she was alive.
How about old letters and notes from friends or old boyfriends/girlfriends? Do you have any of those? It's safe to throw those out too. The purpose of the letter was fulfilled the instant you read it the first time years ago. Chances are the person you sent it doesn't even remember what they wrote, or even sending it. People normally write notes to let another person know their feelings. To get some things out of their brains about something. Most times, the note is sent, and then forgotten about by the sender. You won't be hurting anyone by tossing them.
When I look around my house, the sentimental stuff is mostly photos. I realize that I have more photos than I have space for. You wouldn't think so by looking at the photo cabinet in my office. Everything fits nicely in there. However, I have a huge bin of old photo albums in my basement. I should add those photo albums weren't mine initially. They are all photo albums from my parents. So it's photos from when they were younger.
You see, when my mom passed away 4 years ago, I was given the task of putting together photo collages to display at the memorial. I managed to make 2 large collages (that I still have put together) thanks to about 10-15 photo albums my dad gave me to get photos from. So those 2 boards didn't put a dent in the amount of photos I still have in those albums in the bin. And those albums didn't put a dent in the amount of albums my dad still has at his house.
I know that I don't need to keep all those albums, and I know what I want to do with them, which is digitize them, but I know I couldn't possibly digitize them all. There is bound to be photos in there of people I don't know. There are photos in there of people my dad doesn't even remember. But every time I think about this, I always question if it's truly ok for me to get rid of those photos. I always wonder what my mom would be thinking if she knew I was getting rid of some of her precious photos. You see, my mom was truly a photo fanatic. She loved taking photos, and loved having photos all around the house. When she was alive, we all gave her a hard time every time she tried to take "yet another" photo of us. She would just stick her tongue out at us and say "just get in the damn picture!" And she said things like "you'll be glad I have all these photos one day", and imagine this...SHE WAS RIGHT! Yep, mom was right! I am very glad she took so many photos. But I still worry she will strike me down with lightning if I get rid of them!
In all seriousness though, if you also have tons of old photos, then let's get them in order. We need to remove them all from their albums, and look at each one, one by one. If there are photos of scenery that you can't identify, then it's safe to throw out that photo. If there are photos of people you don't know, it's safe to get rid of them. If you have duplicates of photos, go ahead and throw away the duplicate, and just keep one. Remember the days when pictures were taken with film? Remember waiting to use the whole roll to get it developed, and never knowing how a picture turned out until it was developed? You know those photos that were taken with your eyes closed? You know that photo where you making a weird face, or not even looking at the camera? All those are photos you can discard. There is probably a copy somewhere where you are actually smiling and looking at the camera. Remember taking pictures of your kids playing sports? Remember how blurry they looked when the photo got developed or how you can't even tell which kid is yours? Those are also safe to discard.
Before you go head first into sorting photos, remember a few things and get yourself prepared emotionally...
1. This is not going to be a quick process. Depending on the amount of photos, it could take weeks. Set aside a space in your home where you can sit a do this where you won't be in the way of your family being able to function.
2. You are going to stop at look at each individual photo. Don't be too quick to make a decision but don't take too long either.
3. Don't try and get through this in one day. Take breaks. But come back to your task later that day or the next day. If you take too long a break, you'll end up stopping and never finishing.
Once you have finished sorting your photos, you have several choices for keeping them. There are several photo storage products on the market. I'll share links for them on my Facebook page. The products available to you range from good old fashioned albums to gorgeous storage boxes. Then you always have the option to digitize them. If you choose this route, you can either do it yourself or you can use a service to do it for you. This depends on your budget, financially as well as time. Doing it yourself can be quite time consuming. So there is some give and take. Spend more money but save time, or save the money but spend the time. That's a choice only you can make. Just do yourself a favor, and if you choose to do it yourself, spend the time and do it completely and fully. Meaning spend the time to finish the project from start to finish. You will only end us backsliding into more clutter if you start the project and never finish it.
Other sentimental items include videos, which I happened to come across today. I found a box of about a dozen VHS videos. Half were not labeled so I have not clue what's on them. But a couple had labels and one of them was my wedding video! Yep, I have been married long enough to have my video on VHS. Sadly, I don't have a VCR to watch it on. This is being added to the list of items I want to digitize. I would love to watch the video again, as I haven't seen it in 16 years, and my kids have decided they want to see it also.
So I began researching digitizing services, and I found that stores like Walgreens, and Target, and Costco will convert those old VHS tapes to DVD or even digital download. And some of these places may even digitize the old photos as well. Look into them as very good options. In addition to these stores, I found services like Legacy Box and Kodak Digitizing, where you can send in a certain number of items and they will send you back a disc or thumb drive in return. These service can convert all types of old media.
So it appears there are many options for digitizing old photos and videos that could save you tons of time. My choice would be to use one of these services since I don't have the proper equipment needed to do it myself. And to purchase the equipment seems needless. What would I do with it when I am finished my project? That's more items I would have to deal with later on. Think about this also when deciding to do it yourself or not.
Thinking of my photos, I am remembering that I have a gorgeous old photo of my grandparents when they got married. This is a photo I can not part with. But it's not being valued in a box. So I have decided I am going to have it framed to hang in my home. This is truly how those special items should be treated. If it's really special and truly makes you happy, you should display it proudly and in a way that memorializes those relatives no longer with us. My grandparents wouldn't want to be stored haphazardly in a box.
Now you may have objects that were given to you by a late relative. If this is truly an object that brings you joy, then keep it but display it proudly, and it a way that honors that person. If you don't get joy from the object then you should find it a new owner, who will proudly display it and honor the item the way it deserves. Your relative wouldn't want you keeping the item out of obligation. So it's ok to pass it on to someone who will enjoy it.
I hope you found some useful information in this week's post. Remember, a simple habit change is all it takes to maintain the order you are bringing to your home. This week I will share some inspiration on my Facebook and Instagram pages. So make sure you are following me.
Until next time, Happy Organizing!