Purging Sentimental Stuff – Part 4

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

It’s done!!!

This has taken hours and hours and hours and I have gone through such a range of emotions – grief, anger, wonder, surprise, sadness, happiness, pride and finally… RELIEF and FREEDOM!

This was my sentimental collection back in August 2010:

sentimental hoarding

And here it is now:

sentimental box

The sorting process has actually taken around three passes over the last three years, but I am SO PLEASED that I don’t have all that crap hanging around any more, not least because of the sheer amount of space it was taking up.

I really did have a terrible problem with hoarding mementos. Why, I wonder?

Did it stem from the psychological insecurity of growing up in emotionally deserted home?

Was it an attempt to validate my life and my experiences because my parents didn’t ever really provide that for me?

Was it just that I have an archivist-type personality and love to keep and categorise things?

I really don’t know, but I feel so, SO much better for finally completing this job. And that box isn’t quite full yet ๐Ÿ™‚

I feel like I’ve got my life in order, like I’ve somehow got my past in order, if that makes sense.

I need to do a short post of the inventory of what’s left (there are some cards that I am doing a crafty project with, plus Boy 1’s nursery ‘learning journey’ folder, which I haven’t included in the box).

Meanwhile, here’s the pile of everything that has gone out over these last few posts:

sentimental declutter

And for the number lovers (like me), here’s the final count for Part 4:

  • 1 letter
  • 1 magazine clipping
  • 28 cards
  • 6 A6 diaries
  • 5 photos
  • positive pregnancy tests (DS2)
  • 1 passport photo
  • 3 studio prints + CD
  • 25 pieces children’s art
  • 1 ultrasound CD (DS2)
  • 1 alumni newsletter
  • 1 green A4 folder
  • 33 birthday cards
  • 2 thank you letters
  • 1 party invite
  • 1 nursery ‘award’
  • 1 set of diary pages
  • 3 maps of France

Total out

115 items

Ongoing total

572 items!

Purging Sentimental Stuff – Part 3

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

The pile of things to go is getting ever higher.

The last couple of days were a struggle – I reached a point where I had saved loads of things from a time when I was unhappy and alone. Various members of my family were suffering with mental issues, addiction problems and money problems, and I had just ended a destructive relationship after months of anguish.

NOT a great period in my life!

Wading through all the things I had saved made me feel so grateful to be where I am now.

And it also made me realize how much I wasย mired in the past because I had all that stuff hanging around in our house.

Making the choice to let it go has made me feel lighter.

Lighter, freer, and healthier.

I think if you spend too much time thinking about, organising and collecting the past, you cut off your enjoyment of the present and take away time that you could be using to plan the future.

I am terribly guilty of this, but sorting it all out and releasing it all has helped me realise that it’s not good for you.

So, I’m up to my 2009 folder now (4.5 years left to rummage through!) and I have only 2/3 filled the box I set aside ๐Ÿ™‚

Probably only one more update after this (‘Hurrah!’ I hear you all cry).

And here’s the boring bit, all the things that went out (did I ever mention how much I love lists and numbers and facts?):

  • 1 A5 diary with entries cover to cover
  • 2 A6 diaries with entries cover to cover
  • Set of pages from an old filofax
  • 5 luggage tags
  • 17 entrance tickets
  • 1 entrance receipt
  • 2 magazine clippings
  • 13 bus tickets
  • 1 travel itinerary
  • 1 bungy jump certificate
  • 1 lonely planet guide
  • 1 map of New Zealand
  • 1 map of Ko Samui
  • 1 map California
  • 1 map Brussels
  • 1 map Seattle
  • 1 map Bruges
  • 1 UK forest trail map
  • 2 business cards
  • 1 office pass holder and pass card
  • 2 xmas cards
  • 1 old vehicle registration document
  • 1 car details sheet
  • 2 A4 folders
  • 12 attraction leaflets
  • 2 CDs of photos
  • 3 wedding invites
  • 6 birthday cards
  • 1 valentines card
  • 1 card from an ex-boyfriend
  • 1 car crash report
  • 1 festival wristband
  • 2 postcards
  • 1 letter to an ex-boyfriend (never sent)
  • 1 post-it note
  • collection of ripped out diary pages
  • 1 membership certificate
  • 4 programming training certificates
  • 3 work awards
  • another collection of ripped out diary pages
  • 1 itinerary suggestion for Brussels
  • 1 Eurostar booking receipt
  • 10 cards
  • 1 leaving card
  • 1 poem
  • 1 programming magazine
  • 1 letter
  • 9 photos
  • 1 anniversary card
  • positive pregnancy tests from DS1
  • 4 pregnancy scan photos (blurred)

Total out

133 items

Ongoing total out

457 items!

-> Part 4

Keeping Body Parts

Why do people I feel the need to keep body parts?

I ask this question because in sorting through my sentimental collection today I found my wisdom tooth.

And I know I’m not the only one!

Umbilical cords, hair cuttings (from our babies, or from passed-on spouses), surgically removed organs…

I have seen all of these things.

Do we keep them because they are a part of us, or someone we love?

Do I really need to keep my wisdom tooth?

Would any of us be any less whole if we didn’t keep these things?

I already said goodbye to my entire tooth collection in March 2003 (must tell you about that someday), so I will make a point of putting this one in the same place the very next time I am there (a stream at the bottom of my Dad’s garden. One day anย archaeologistย is going to have a lot of fun digging up all my old teeth with no trace of a skull).

I know this is a totally weird post. I’ve had wine. I am the kind of person that saves their own teeth. I’m wandering very slowly (and sometimes painfully), down memory lane.

Forgive me.

Purging Sentimental Stuff – Part 2

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Since this is a big job, I thought I’d post an update.

I am currently stuck on sorting through a big folder of stuff from a time in my life when things weren’t very good and I am struggling with how best to deal with it all.

So in the interim, to take my mind of the oppressive task ahead (and it IS oppressive, having to go through all these things and hopefully release some of the terrible emotions that they contain – see what hoarding stuff does to you?!), here’s an update with what I’ve released so far (mostly into the recycle bin, heh heh).

I have scanned quite a bit of the stuff I’ve chucked. A lot of it is a record of my various travels, so I need the information (until I get around to doing what with it, I wonder?), but I don’t want the physical clutter.

  • 3 A5 notebooks with handwritten diary entries cover to cover
  • 1 dance certificate
  • 2 web development certificates
  • 1 joke poster
  • 8 beer labels
  • 14 postal stamps from Zimbabwe
  • 1 telegram receipt
  • 1 printed journal entry
  • 23 printed emails
  • 11 European maps
  • 2 Indian paintings
  • 3 postcards
  • 1 letter
  • 1 magazine clipping
  • 2 newspaper clippings
  • 1 newspaper
  • 1 employment letter
  • 2 old handwritten notes
  • 1 old address on a slip of paper
  • 1 fax

Total out today:

80 items*

Ongoing total:

324 itmes!

* I have listed each item separately here, even though it may only be a single piece of paper, because I have stored them individually and intentionally. Each single item holds a memory, so unlike a collection of bank statements (which I would class as one item), I think sentimental things warrant a count that represents the memories, if that makes sense.

-> Part 3

Purging Sentimental Stuff – Part 1

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

I am finally ready to deal with something that many of us find really hard to sort through.

Sentimental stuff.


This is such a tough one for me.

Sentimental things seem to be so much more important than other possessions and they are nightmarish to say goodbye to.

It’s like getting rid of little pieces of myself…

BUT – it’s important not to think like this. I must repeat the mantra:

I am not my things. I am not my things. I am not my things.


Having lost three grandparents between me and the hubby in the last 18 months, we’ve had our eyes opened somewhat to the needless hoarding of sentimental things.

I’m not talking about things we should keep, like war medals or old family photographs, I’m talking about diaries, souvenir pens, and all those random objects of no value (cups, pieces of furniture, cutlery, wedding favours, etc.)

When someone dies, someone else, somewhere has to sort through everything they own. Every possession, every piece of paper, every piece of furniture, is all handled by someone else who makes a decision about tossing it, donating it, selling it or keeping it.

Harsh, but true.

I was the executor of my late Grandmother’s will, and I spent hours sorting through her papers. In among them were photos of her and her husband, her children, wedding portraits, unlabelled pictures of friends, souvenir tickets, and a million little items of a life lived but imperfectly recorded.

What would someone find if they had to sort through your things tomorrow?

My husband and I talked about this a lot and it really made us both think about the irrelevant and unnecessary stuff we hang onto.

Are our children going to be interested in our school maths books? Will they read our college essays? Would I want either of my sons to read my tattered old diaries from the days before I was married? I blush to even think of it.

So a few days ago I started sorting through the whole lot – years and years of things I have collected – each item soaked in some emotion from a significant event, sometimes decades before.

And here’s the plan:

  • I have a box about the size of a large shoebox. That is my limit on things to keep.
  • I’m trying to throw out as much as possible.
  • I am scanning/photographing everything that I want to keep.
  • Then I am only storing actual, physical items of the most precious nature (my school reports, old passport, plane ticket from a trip round the world, etc.).
  • The contents of the box will not be too boring or embarrassing for anyone else to sort through ๐Ÿ™‚

-> Part 2

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