Simplifying My Possessions

Recently, there’s been a lot of going through family possessions – my mother and aunt have passed recently and my grandfather moved in with my cousin and still had a fair amount of furniture, etc. As I sat going through another box, I realized something. Going through the leftovers of a life is *hard*, but can also be really really rewarding. My grandparents saved scribbles on paper that my older brothers sent to them, I got to see my mom in her wedding dress ‘behind the scenes’ of her bridal portrait, and so many other pieces of lives fully lived. 

From that “duh” moment, I realized something else. I don’t want my nieces to have to go through a lifetime of things just to find the gems. I want to leave them the gems with as little other stuff as possible. So I’ve been opening my storage boxes and dumping them on the floor and sorting through them all. Every shelf is on the list, too. Literally anything I own is at risk of being weeded out.

Photos will be uploaded, then the physical copies will be organized, labelled, and stored in the attic (just in case – they are fun to go through after all). Most of the postcards I’ve collected from various trips will be sent to people and then one from each will be kept so I can look through them. My notebooks will be (gasp) used instead of sitting on a shelf because I’m too worried to mess them up. Books will be read and given away, unless I want to read them again. Crafts need to be completed, and the extra materials that I won’t ever use need to be donated or given away. 

An important note here is that anything I truly love isn’t going anywhere. There are things my dad brought home from Afghanistan that I will never let go of, even if it’s just in a storage box that I only look at every 5-10 years. My art history book that I’ve lugged through every move we’d made is definitely not leaving my bookshelf. A baby blanket my mom knitted is going nowhere even though I’m mostly likely not going to have children. 

Something I didn’t expect, though in retrospect it seems obvious, is that the Great Possession Cleansing of 2020 is leading me to narrow the things I’m focusing on. I have a habit of getting super interested in things and then dropping them at some point, though I continue to want to pick them back up. So I have a lot of bits and pieces of various hobbies littering my house.

Do I really want to learn to knit more complex patterns than knit/perl, take up cross-stitch again, and also learn to sew? Even if I do, do I need the massive amount of embroidery floss I currently own? Am I going to take up photography to a degree that I need that tripod? Do I still want to learn calligraphy? Are planner stickers a thing I need to hang on to? How many notebooks will I really need for my journaling? I’m hoping that reducing the number of hobbies I can easily pick up will help me pick one (…or two) and stick with it (or them).  

Look, I’m never going to be a pillar of minimalism. Marie Kondo, I am not. I will forever have random knick knacks that mean nothing to anyone but myself, and I truly don’t think that’s a bad thing. Looking at my Buddha statuettes from my (long ago) trip to China still means something to me, so I’m going to keep at least 1. A box of buttons scavenged from my aunt/mom’s sewing supplies make me happy, even if I never sew them onto anything. The Shakespeare book my brother gave me one Christmas will never leave my shelf, but I’m not going to get rid of it. 

I guess what I’m getting at here is that I don’t feel the need to get rid of everything I own and live in an empty house, but I do feel the need to lessen the burden on whoever has to go through my things one day. It feels important right now to not clutter my living space with things that aren’t a tangible positive in my life, or that I’m only keeping around because I spent money on them at one point.  One unexpected perk as I get rid of things is that I feel emotionally lighter/better which is nice during the Year of Never Ending Struggle.

Maybe I’ll photograph me going through a storage box or two and take you along with me.

Caveat: I don’t get rid of anything that Shane has an attachment to – he doesn’t care about the felt fabric I might toss, but he would definitely be upset if I got rid of book he had read/wants to read without talking to him first. We all have different levels of attachment and feelings towards things. This house is as much his as it is mine so I don’t want to make him feel like his feelings aren’t as important as mine.

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