Wisdom and advice for parting with sentimental items?

quasifishJanuary 24, 2012

Hi. I am usually at the Pets Forum, but have been lurking here regularly since deciding I needed to do more serious decluttering- things beyond the obvious outgrown clothes, excess paperwork, and other things that will never get used again.

Anybody care to offer some philosophy on letting go of things that you know you don't need to be dragging around with you, but you have trouble letting them go?

This morning I put a couple of baby sweaters in a donation bag. They were sweaters that my mother knit for myself and my brother when we were babies. I loved to look at them when I was a child, but I never put them on my own child because by that point I didn't like them so much, so I can see no reason to keep them aside from an obligation that it is some kind of 'family heirloom.' Still, a part of me wants to run out to the car and get them out of the trunk.

The other type thing I am having a tremendous amount of trouble with is toys from my childhood. Toys of mine that were kept are generally not found (by my mother, and I believe intentionally so) until after my own daughter is too old to play with them. These are items that may or may not have been nice to share with my DD, but since they always come too late, it's a moot point. Plus, the new toys DD has/had seemed nicer and more appropriate for her to play with anyway so I don't feel like DD missed out on anything by not getting these vintage toys. I would have been happier to never see them again. Still, I have trouble parting with these old toys for some reason. Certainly there is someone out there who would like them and enjoy them more than I do. I had a miserable childhood, so I don't know if the toys represent something tangible and normal, or if I just have guilt because they have been kept for me all these years and why would I get rid of them when someone went to so much trouble to keep them.

FWIW, I'm not interested in selling them on ebay, it's more of something that I just want to be strong enough to donate somewhere and be done with it.

I am stuck on the more sentimental things- and not always understanding why I think they are sentimental. In some ways I feel like they are anchors, weighing me down to the past, but yet they are still so hard to let go. Any advice, philosophy, new way of looking at these things that anyone can offer to make it easier?

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Regarding the sweaters...

your mom knit them for you and your brother to USE... NOT to agonize over many years later.
They were worn, they served their purpose, move them along!

Sorry, but that is a pet peeve of mine.
When I crochet baby blankets for friends, I LOATHE when they refuse to use them and treat them like some museum piece. They were made to be USED!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 4:44PM
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Quasifsh -

I completely understand the feelings that you're describing.

You said that you would rather not have seen those toys. If they do not make you happy when you see them, pass them along. Life is hard enough - why keep something that makes you sad? You could put them on freesycle - post them as vintage toys - someone will snap them up.

Please don't keep them out of guilt that they were kept for you. Your mother kept and gave these to you for her own reasons and if you don't want them, then you should not have that burden.

As far as the sweaters go, if they have happy memories attached to them, then take a picture of them!

I also think it's ok to have a(one) bin with childhood items in it - IF it's contents makes you happy.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 7:26PM
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The only hard part of the process is the letting go. Once they are gone, you are not going to miss them.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 9:29AM
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"I had a miserable childhood"

I think this is the root of everything - glomming onto objects when deprived of people/experiences/safety, etc.

Its very interesting your mother giving you these things past time - and your feeling that this was deliberate.....was she also trying to "preserve" these items? Or do you allude to something a bit more sinister?

At any rate - any of these items that doesn't give you immediate joy when you look on it, should go.

Perhaps do take photos of them all, and in time - you can get rid of those reminders if you feel you no longer need them.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 9:47AM
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Thanks for the feedback, it means a lot to me to get some perspective from others.

LuAnn, you helped me put something in perspective without knowing it. Those sweaters WERE treated like museum pieces by my mother. From the earliest time I remember admiring them, they were sealed in vacuum food bags that could not be opened. It wasn't until after my DD was born that I actually got to touch them for the first time in memory. I wonder if that's why I never put them on my kid- guilt that they were above being handled by mere mortals...

Yes, I do have some issues with my mother and yes, t-bird, it is a bit more on the sinister side. For the longest time it struck me odd that the things she saved were always improperly packed and put away dirty- and then given back in filthy condition. They were not treated like heirloom items, they were treated like trash and came back to me in that condition. I often feel that is a direct commentary on how my mother feels about me. Given that, you would think it would be easy to chuck the stuff and move on, but mother has a tendency to make a big deal out of stuff in front of my young DD, who then can't imagine parting with the stuff. She will "gift" these things to DD after I have asked her not to-- then it feels like they are not mine to get rid of, despite the fact that they are not always appropriate for DD age-wise. I am thinking that perhaps the best course of action would be to box stuff until DD is definitely too old and has forgotten about it and then quietly part with it.

dawn, I like the idea of keeping 1 box- but only truly happy stuff. That is what I have done with DD's baby stuff- one little under bed box. That gives me some permission without overwhelming me.

Graywings, I know you are right. Giving away my DD's baby stuff was like that. I'd want to chase the donation truck down the street screaming, "Give me my baby stuff back!" But as soon as they were long gone and there was nothing I could do about it, it was like a big relief and weight lifted off my shoulders. Maybe I need to start small and just donate a few things, focus on that feeling, etc.

Thank you all so much for the feedback so far. It's nice to get some outside input instead of walking around in circles with myself.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 11:35AM
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Fori is not pleased

You'll feel better passing the stuff on to someone who wants it--that's why Freecycle is nice. It's more work to find homes for stuff so you don't want to do that for everything, but if there is just a few bags of vintage toys or something that are especially hard to let go, it might be worth offering it up on freecycle first.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 1:08PM
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"Yes, I do have some issues with my mother and yes, t-bird, it is a bit more on the sinister side. For the longest time it struck me odd that the things she saved were always improperly packed and put away dirty- and then given back in filthy condition. They were not treated like heirloom items, they were treated like trash and came back to me in that condition. I often feel that is a direct commentary on how my mother feels about me. Given that, you would think it would be easy to chuck the stuff and move on, but mother has a tendency to make a big deal out of stuff in front of my young DD, who then can't imagine parting with the stuff. She will "gift" these things to DD after I have asked her not to-- then it feels like they are not mine to get rid of, despite the fact that they are not always appropriate for DD age-wise. I am thinking that perhaps the best course of action would be to box stuff until DD is definitely too old and has forgotten about it and then quietly part with it"

Well - this is stickier - and believe me - I'm was in the same boat regarding dealing with mother issues that resurface as you become a mother yourself.....I figured a lot of it out when I had my first baby, and all the weirdness that occurred, especially since I had to rely on her for day care.

Wash up the toys - see if DD has any interest. If she plays with it, keep it while she's interested. If it's available to her for a week or two, and she chooses other toys instead - and you get no joy form it, out it goes!

My DD is 15 now-my youngest - and believe me, you want to start purging early, and the only things you want to keep are things that were so important to her, not every toy she ever touched.

And - if you have a negative association with it, which brings up memories of negative events or stages of your life - out out out! Make room for new things - new times - new memories. Let the bad go.....don't even give DD a chance to get attached to it - out.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 10:42AM
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I always feel I'm not the best one to give anyone else advice about what to do with their accumulated things. I've dealt with sentiment and come to the conclusion that things go away but the memories stay. And I'm of an age where I no longer want or need to be the repository for everything that has come into my life - either because I wanted it, because it would be nice to have, because it once belonged to people I love but are no longer here.

I can't take the time to agonize over just who might be the "perfect recipient" for things - freecycle, Craig's List. etc. just seem like too much trouble. Household goods go to Goodwill because people of all economic strata shop there and find things that are "perfect" for them. Clothing goes to the church free clothing exchange - "perfect" for someone in need of everyday clothing or a decent suit for a job interview. To my mind, it all somehow finds the right place without much input from me. I'm not dismissive of sentiment, but as you're discovering, it's bogging you down.

I've found the fewer things I keep, the more special they are.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 11:07AM
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"I've found the fewer things I keep, the more special they are."

Agree with this statement. I've just completed a mojor clean/organize project with my mom's help. Some items were of sentimental value but I let them go.

I've kept a very few items and can now give them a place of honor in my home instead of too much "stuff" in storage.

It really is a good feeling to discover how nice living with less is.

We completed two major bad spots in my home and I'm pumped to keep going and have everything be so organized.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 12:35PM
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lol - this thread has me worried about toddy.....my teddy bear......what happens to him after I die? He's just a beat up old thing.....

lol again! While typing, I decided he should be buried with me! Along with the ashes from my cats....2 in urns so far....they were super special, don't think there will be another "super special" pet.....

Who says you can't take it with you?

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 1:14PM
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Gretchen Wood

I have an upstairs full of my mom's stuff when she passed on almost two years ago. I have a friend that offered to help me go through the things and I am going to take her up on it.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 10:14PM
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It doesn't sound like you're particularly attached to these things, but more you don't want the guilt from your mother for tossing them.

"I am thinking that perhaps the best course of action would be to box stuff until DD is definitely too old and has forgotten about it and then quietly part with it. "

I think that's a great idea, at least pack them away somewhere until DD has forgotten about them and your mother may forget about them too. Your mother saved these things for her own reasons and now it's like she's offloading the burden of their keeping on to you, but she didn't save them all these years for you, she did it because *she* couldn't part with them.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 2:04AM
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Thanks everyone. You've really helped me put a perspective on this. I feel a lot less stuck at the moment.

Unfortunately I'm sick, sick, sick (with a cold) today, and have company coming tomorrow, so I'm not going to get a chance to sort anything much today, but I'm feeling a lot better about some of these things and saying goodbye to them, one way or another.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 12:09PM
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Congratulations on confronting some emotional stuff, and working through what will be best for you. It's not easy when many items are double-edged swords, memory-wise, like toys from an unhappy childhood.

The thing that has helped me the most with being able to let things go has (surprisingly) been the time I have spent shopping on eBay. I came to see that nearly anything from my past that I could think of wanting for sentimental reasons was pretty easy to find there. There were a few things I wished my mom had kept for me to share with my kids and she hadn't--she's not a keeper of things--and I simply bought them for myself.

It makes much more sense for me to spend $50 on replacing the vintage nursery lamp I loved than for my mother to have stored it for 30 years and moved it across country five times.

Later, when I was tempted to save too much of my kids' stuff to give to my grandchildren "one day" I was able to let most of it go with a promise to myself that if I want to give a really nice dollhouse (or whatever) to my grandkids, I will buy them one.

I am not a millionaire. In fact, I'm not even a thousandaire ;-) But I figure if it's important enough to me to give that particular gift that it would have been worth storing the item for 20 years, it will be worth the money to simply purchase it when I'm ready to give it.

As for items that are sentimental but have sharp-edged memories to them, like perhaps your baby sweaters, I try to focus on what the best intention around that item is. A handmade sweater speaks of love and effort on the behalf of new parents and/or a new baby. That is the sweater's best intention. I can provide that best intention to my child or grandchild in lots of other ways besides handing down that particular sweater, and I will. So I can let go.

Hope you find peace with your decisions :)

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 12:05AM
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Leafy, I like your post, very nice way of looking at things.

I hadn't thought about it much recently, but my mother has always been the type of person to save so much stuff because "it will be worth a lot of money someday." Looking on ebay at some of the toys that have come up, it's pretty obvious that's far from true!

I've thought about it a lot lately and in so many ways I don't want my DD to have the toys from my childhood. Bad memories and all that aside, it sometimes makes me wonder if my mother is trying to recreate a different time period with my DD with these toys (she is the kind of person who always seems to be stuck in the past). I want my little girl to have mostly toys that are from this era, one or two vintage toys might be nice, but not ALL of them. There's a line where it just starts to feel weird.

t-bird, among my most prized possessions are the cremains of a few beloved pets. Some of my friends think I'm nuts that they are so important to me, but they are.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 2:20PM
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I've had pets cremated. I spread their ashes in my flower garden and one dog is at a dog park where she loved to run. You don't need to save remains. just more clutter. Let them go.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 9:50AM
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My mother passed away last year. My brother , because he was named the "executor" has felt compelled to handle every aspect of her estate, some money (not much), her house and belongings. Mom was pretty much a "hoarder". I remember she had a shabby china closet (pressed paper board) in the kitchen which she one day replaced with a nicer cabinet. I asked what she did with the old cabinet. "Oh, I put it on its' side and put it in the living room" And there it stayed. After she died, brother found a lot of our old dolls in a box in the attic. Trouble is, the attic gets to over 100 degrees in the summer and there had been a roof leak. the dolls were hideous! She also saved a lot of our games from when we were kids. She always said they were "worth a lot of money". Well, they ended up at the estate sale, sold as a lot for $30. So much for sentiment.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 11:13PM
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Thank you to everyone who contributed to this thoughtful thread. I am inspired to begin (again!) to release so many things that: a) I have moved many times b) have little monitary value c) may be desired by others d) take up physical and emotional space and e) that I really don't need for any specific use, joy, beauty or memory.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 3:37PM
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ah, Wisdom. Think I need much of that. I'm 'the Mom' who, after living a military life for many years and leaving my kids treasures behind on two continents and two coasts, has re-purchased many of those dolls (mostly).... and now at age 77, realize that I did much of that for my own sentimental reasons. Maybe an "empty nest" syndrome? They aren't interested. Nor are they interested in the grandmothers collectible china and incredibly beautiful 'elegant' glass. For me, those are such sweet memories, including the old china etc...I loved and cherished while I was able to dust and clean and admire.

I have photos taken of every item that is packed in boxes in the garage. I KNOW they will most likely never be used again by me. The dolls are stuffed into the china cabinet here in the house and I did send 3 or 4 (one large) dolls to the Salvation Army just a week ago (no room at the inn). That "they are worth some money" phrase has crossed my lips as well. I really don't "need" anything to make selling that stuff easier to release...to let go. I'm a work in progress and trying.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 1:32AM
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I can so relate to this timely discussion. Last weekend I had a professional organizer come to my house after purchasing a $99 coupon on Angie's List for 4 hours of organizing. I was just simply unable to start on the upstairs closets. Even though it was not the result of hoarding, it became a nuisance not to be able to walk into any of the closets due to stuff just being stuffed in there willy nilly. Most of the stuff I have is from decorating left overs from previous homes. I simply do not know what to do with it. I have found myself saying things like that cost a lot of money and I just hate to give it away but in reality I would not have a garage sale or do e-bay. My husband doesn't want strangers coming to the house or backing over the grass or knocking over the mailbox which has happened in our neighborhood. Anyway, while my husband is against those ways of purging he won't help me go through anything or help me bring it downstairs so I just decided it was all going to Goodwill. The professional organizer (PO) and I must have packed up at least 20 large plastic bags of stuff to give away and we haven't even started on the attic or bonus room. I made a second appointment with her which pains me a little paying someone to give away my "stuff".

Suddenly I realize that I am not going to live forever and worse, I am not going to be able to haul things around and even go through all this stuff forever either. I don't know if we will be staying in our house forever as we had planned when we built it. It's big and what I have also noticed is that I am tired of going into our savings for a huge roof to be replaced, painting this huge house is thousands whether inside or out and we just can't do it ourselves anymore. Some of the ceilings are 22 feet high. I just spent $260 getting the huge tall windows cleaned and all of this is starting to overwhelm me. I am not ancient and mostly people think I am much younger but life does at some point come into focus and our mortality if not just our future frailty creeps into our thoughts. We don't have any children and no one to pass things on to. I am the youngest of my family and my husband's family is thousands of miles away and the youngest of his family is my age.

Still, why don't I feel better about getting rid of so much of our stuff that is not of great value but sort of is evidence of the life we lived? I have not felt that good about giving it all away and especially how the PO lady that was here just stuffed the items in bags as fast as she could.

Anyway, back in the kitchen we managed to get some things out of the cabinets so that it functions much better but there is still so much to do. You would never know from entering my house that so much is behind closed doors. I hate clutter so there is no clutter in evidence in my house but I have a real problem keeping my cabinets/closets straight ~and forget organized. It has helped the last year with updating the bathroom and kitchen with having to purge things. So all in all I don't know what my comment is except to say that although I did get rid of a lot of stuff and I should feel good about that, I don't know that I do. First of all I think I was appalled at how long things have been put off as far as organizing and cleaning out of unneeded things and also my sneaking suspicion that I have been lazy about getting on this chore. But it takes all of me to keep the rest of the house clean which I am adamant about. I don't have a house cleaning person and I have two dogs and a husband that do nothing to ease the cleaning situation. These dogs shed like crazy and my husband simply does not see the need to get rid of anything. I am glad that I am doing something about it but I just didn't think it would be so hard to do and then I feel like I should be selling some of this instead of just giving it away. It would be nice to have a little extra money and it would make me feel like at least I got some money for all of this stuff. But in the end, I know I don't have the energy to have a sale or go through an e-bay or CL scenario. I need to get rid of it because of all of the above mentioned reasons and there are no children to pass anything on to, no help from anyone unless we pay. We always bought as nice as we could afford. But the truth is as one poster said above that you could easily find anything we have if you looked for it, even my prized Baker dining room furniture.

One thing I have learned in looking at all of the things in my closets is that life is short. What are we accumulating all of these fine things for? For a time that never really comes, some easy relaxed years that never seem to come after all, all the dreams that never came true. The situations that never really got resolved but were forgiven or forgotten. Looking at the "stuff" of our life brings back a lot of memories, some welcome, some not.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 10:39PM
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". I am glad that I am doing something about it but I just didn't think it would be so hard to do and then I feel like I should be selling some of this instead of just giving it away. "

gr8day I think this is something a lot of us can relate to but I've found shifting my thinking makes it easier. The reality is that the money has already been spent on these things long ago, and people on CL and garage sales etc wouldn't give you anywhere near what these things are worth, you'll have people haggling over paying $5 for something that cost you $50 :). I agree life is short and IMO it takes too much time and effort to sell things unless it's something really valuable. Giving things away is just a much easier quicker way to deal it and you don't have the stress of people rummaging through your things and coming to your house and expecting you to just about give things away.

I also try to look at the positives from it. To me storage space is like valuable real estate in a house and wasting it on useless things just ties it up. When my cupboards were stuffed it was just stressful going in and looking for anything, and often it was just too hard so I'd give up and walk away. I also got sick of things falling on top of me and just not having any spare storage. When you think about how stressful it is trying to find anything in that jumbl,e giving it away all starts to feel worth it.

I can guarantee you that after a short while you won't even remember what you got rid of because you won't miss it.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 1:07AM
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I know you are right and have decided to press on with the purge. It's frightening to think that in the end strangers would just come in and haul it away anyway. It's not that much stuff but sorting it is a lot of emotional strain. It's great to see what we have gotten done and it does look better and so nice not to have things falling on your head or have to lean on the door to shut it. In reality even if I sold every little thing it would probably not even net $500 if I'm lucky. I've had tag sales before and people will offer you 25 cents for things. It's pretty awful, lol.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 7:42AM
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gr8day, I relate to a great deal of what you posted, especially having that realization that life is short and this stuff is not enhancing it.

I am currently purging a lot of stuff that is related to hobbies I have, but it is also stuff I know I won't use.

I also do not want to bother with selling much, if any of the stuff.

Stuff is also memories to me, and for a long time it eluded me that some of these items triggered not so pleasant memories and feelings.

I do have a child, but realize that most of my stuff is just stuff and not "treasures," and even that stuff, she will probably not be all that interested in. Honestly, if she decides to get rid of the "treasures" later, that won't matter to me. Someone said to me a few years age "never love anything that can't love you back." He said it to me in regard to a person, but it is good to remember that even your beloved stuff is still just stuff.

One thing that helps me is to think about the great finds I have had at thrift stores over the years. I like to think that the nicer things [we aren't using anyway] get found as those types of treasures by others at a thrift store- and maybe get a place of honor at their house.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 11:31AM
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Very good advice. This is one solution that just came my way. One of the ladies who is employed at the church we attend posted on her Facebook page if anyone had stuff they wanted to get rid of furniture and good stuff as she put it to let her know. I told her to come on over and get it. At first I thought she might be needing it for one of her kids or herself but she said she wants to sell it!!! ...so some of my stuff may end of on e-bay after all, but it will help her. I think she could certainly use the extra money as her and her husband are employees at the church. I would be glad for her to make some extra money from it. So, maybe all of this will be worked out in a way that is satisfying for all.

Some of the things that are hardest to part with are a few pieces of clothing from the 80's before I was married. I had a certain style that I loved and this was before clothes were massively produced in other countries. They are so well made and you just don't see clothes like that anymore. Of course they are tiny little clothes for a person I used to be. Size 5 and 7's. My favorite store back in the day was the 5,7,9 Shop, don't know if any of you remember that store. My wedding dress was a 5 with alterations in the waist. That was back before clothes sizes were changed to make us feel better now that we are bigger and still wear the same size. How is it possible to gain 30-40 pounds and still wear a size 8 or 10? LOL!!! I think the clothing people got smart and decided we would buy more if we thought we were still as small as we were in our teens and 20's. But anyway, my wedding dress is still on the hangar I hung it up on 26 years ago with the same champagne stains on the front of it. My going away suit for our honeymoon in Maui (yes we had a going away suit) a tiny pink suit still hanging in the closet along with a couple of unique blouses and a pair of knickers that girls wore with slim knee high boots back then and a silk blouse. That's all for the clothes. I think that is the painful giveaway. Why can't we give away our wedding clothes??? I almost let her talk me into putting it into one of the bags and I just couldn't do it. It had a full skirt so the huge slip is still hanging there as well. So anyway, thank you for letting me indulge in a walk down memory lane for a few minutes and for all of the helpful advice. It's so true we shouldn't love anything that can't love us back but what we love are the memories of the time frame of the stuff and who we were at the time. Did you ever hear that statement "the older I get the better I used to be"? How true that is and how silly we (I) get as we get older. Please forgive me for taking up your time with my little mid life crisis.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 4:29PM
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I loved 5,7,9! Yes, I KWYM about size changes. Don't know if you sew, but sewing patterns have stayed standardized- a size 6 at the store is a size 12 in sewing.

The solution with the woman at the church sounds like a good one. That way your stuff will definitely end up in loving hands, and that's always good to know.

You know, I am a believer in that you don't have to get rid of everything at once, even if you think you should. If you aren't ready to get rid of some of those clothes, then I say wait a little while and revisit them later. Tomorrow I have a thrift store pick up coming and one of the items that will be going are some beautiful lace curtains that hung in the kitchen when I lived near the beach (beautiful curtains, the last really happy and carefree time of my adult life). A year ago, I probably could not have imagined letting them go, but a lot has changed for me psychologically over the past year and I have no problems letting them go- actually, I feel no real attachment to them anymore.

DH and I are about to celebrate our 20th anniversary. Last night I said to him, "You know, I don't feel any smarter than I did 20 years ago. Either we're still really dumb, or we must have actually been pretty smart at the time..." Yeah, I know what you mean!

I'm doing a little bit of the midlife crisis thing, and I think that has a lot to do with my need/want to declutter. I completely understand where you are coming from, and please feel free to share whatever you would like.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 6:51PM
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I gave my wedding dress to Goodwill because I was so angry about getting divorced. It is about the only thing I regret giving away, ever. Not because of memories of DH or the wedding, but becuase my mom and I worked on it. I bought a clearance dress at Penney's. My mom and I added lace, beads, sequens (it was the 80's), took the waist out and re-cut it, and made the veil. I gave the entire box to Goodwill, veil and all. I wish now I'd kept at least the veil. My mom and I had a lot of fun working on it for months and months before the wedding. At least I have those happy memories, and don't need the actual dress or veil to keep the memories.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 9:22PM
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"You know, I am a believer in that you don't have to get rid of everything at once, even if you think you should."

absolutely agree! gr8day, if you don't feel like you want to part with them just leave them for now. Decluttering is an ongoing process so you don't have to be perfect at it, you may look at those clothes in a couple of years and just feel "meh, I don't need them", or you might keep them forever. It's ok to keep a few things if you aren't ready.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 7:58AM
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hi, I usually am in the pets forum too but had to add my take on this. I also have some 'baggage' from my family. When DH & I decided to finish our basement, I had to do something with all the big boxes of child hood stuff I'd been carrying with me for many moves. Most of it was just sentimental stuff. There were 6 large boxes. I know some of my hesitation was tied up in family drama, memories of happier times, etc.

When I went downstairs to start going through them, I asked myself before I opened one box, "what is in these boxes?" And I had no idea, other than a doll I had when I was really young. I knew before I went any further, I wasn't invested in them any longer. I don't have kids, & if I did, would they want toys/mementos from my childhood?

Out of the 6 boxes, I kept less than half of one. The rest was pitched. I love my finished basement space, and do not miss that stuff at all. I read a book by Peter Walsh, I think it was 'Lighten Up: Love What You Have, Have What You Need, Be Happier with Less'. He discussed the emotional pull we have to objects and it really helped me clear my space/mind up. I think it's time to revisit that book, my kitchen is getting cluttered.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 11:44AM
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Lots of good advice and thank you all. I hope to get some energy to go through the rest. It's feeling better to be rid of at least a lot of stuff that was really cramping my clutter free style in the rest of the house. I know it's silly but just needed to be told again from someone other than myself just how silly it is to be attached to inanimate objects of great age but little value. Thank you all so very much. I enjoyed reading each and every one of the posts about your own personal experiences. Seems like we all go through this at some point to one extreme or the other. Thanks again : )

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 3:56PM
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I wanted to give an update. I have been on a tear cleaning out closets and getting rid of stuff. It's appalling what I put in the closets thinking I would get back to it later. It's such a relief to be getting rid of so much and to have people come and get it that want it and can make use of it. One thing I was sort of shocked at is how damaged some of the stuff has gotten. The lady from my church came over and got a lot of stuff from the bonus room attic (which are little shallow spaces on each side of the sloping roof bonus room with little doors that lead to the spaces). I still have the big attic to do and the basement and my closet. But I can tell you that it's been a huge improvement and what is so strange is that it really doesn't take that long to do once you determine to do it. The lady that came to get the stuff is using it to fill her new consignment space that she has rented to help her husband earn some extra money during his retirement. Some of the stuff needed to be fixed so he will have a lot to do. They took window treatments, fabric, lamps, accessories, bedding, pictures, vases, wall sconces, lighting fixtures, etc. We filled her truck to the brim. She is coming back on Tuesday to get some more stuff. I feel good that I know where it is going and that it will help someone I know. I still wasn't able to give up my wedding dress and a couple of disco dresses, lol darn!!!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 8:11AM
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My church friend is coming again today to collect more stuff. I've become ruthless!!! My Italian linens from past decorating schemes are in the garage waiting to be whisked away. I got down from the attic a few things such as old French fireplace screen and fender and tools. She will like that. I found an old armoire up there that she said she wants too. If they can get it down she can have it.

I had a luncheon at my house last Tuesday and since this lady is employed as a cook at our church she said she wanted to cater it for me free of charge for giving her all of this stuff! She did and it was such a hit. It took such a load off of me, too. I was able to devote all of my time to cleaning and setting up the house for the lunch complete with china, crystal, silver wine and various other beverages. It was a nice thing for her to do for me. : ) I had three other ladies that were bringing dessert, soup entree and the bread and wine but my huge Waldorf salad and pimento cheese was the main dish. It was delicious. It was a Southern Living Recipe from January 2012 called Waldorf spinach salad. Yum!

This has become quite liberating. Still have my eye on that disco closet and my wedding dress and going away suit and those tiny ski clothes from the '80's. My basement, ugh..I used to ride horses, dressage, and there is all of that equipment down there. I sadly haven't owned horses since the mid '90's, it was just too expensive. I can't think about that now or I will get discouraged with all that lies ahead!!! I did donate quite a lot of that to riding schools but still have a couple of saddles and some tack to get rid of. I guess I have to accept that I won't be getting back to riding anytime soon if ever. It's that age thing again!!!

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 7:53AM
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gr8, you've overcome so many hurdles and accomplished a lot, I was just reading these posts now for the first time, high five to you !!!

I think you are on the verge of being able to discard your "tiny" clothes .

good luck to you and keep us posted.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 9:48AM
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great work gr8day! it sounds like you are really getting a huge momentum going now. It is so liberating isnt it? once we get over that fear and doubt and just get started it seems to take on a life of its own and it starts to feel GOOD to let go. You are going to have so much space, so much less clutter and you're also helping someone to boot! It's all win-win in every direction. keep up the good work

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 10:55AM
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I am amazed by your productivity and generosity.You are doing something profound. I know you will gain much from the mental freedom that clearing out the clutter will give you. Your "tiny" clothes no longer "fit" your life. Give them away so that another woman can celebrate her own tiny frame! And you can enjoy the countless benefits that generosity gives you. Thank you for sharing with us this progress with us.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 10:07PM
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good job, gr8day! So glad to read an upbeat resolution to your situation. You'll finish I'm sure, and already you feel better about it.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 2:24PM
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I am usually on the home deco forum but this is my new hangout. I think there is a peace that comes from decluttering and organization, and I need some help, esp. with the sentimental items.

I am not sure if you got rid of your baby sweaters? If you didn't and are still on the fence about them, I guess you could make them into a quilt/blanket. But, since you have bad feelings about your childhood, I think it would be better to let them go, and cut the chains from your mom in this case.

Anyway, it sounds like you are really "blessing someone else" with your things and it's working out wonderfully. Congrats on your freedom!

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 12:29PM
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Thanks everyone, I was starting to think I was just here by myself, lol. This is getting addictive...I am trying to figure out why I have been hauling around that bookcase since college days. It's outta here.. Last week the "church lady" came by with a horse trailer and took the armoire and two French chairs, window treatments, all that fireplace equipment, some Christmas ornaments and myriad of other stuff. She was so excited she and her husband carried that heavy armoire down the steps by themselves. I have never seen a tiny woman carry that big of an object!! It was superhuman strength I guess when you want something that bad it pumps you up!! So I open the armoire and there is even stuff in there! OMG, I have always prided myself on being the anti-clutterer. It was some sort of denial. No wonder! It is all behind closed doors. So anyway, she took all of that stuff too and the fake ivy!!! There were pillows, yet even more Italian linens and some tassels from who knows what. They would have taken more stuff but it started pouring down rain. I told her about the drop leaf table in the basement that needs fixing and she said her husband could fix it and the two matching chairs. In the meantime I finished the kitchen cabinets and got rid of about 20 lids to tupperware/grocery store storage containers that have no bottoms probably my dogs chewed them up. Of course I almost got away with getting rid of more lids but my husband was there getting them back out of the garbage saying he might need those for something. I even cleaned out the "junk drawer" that everyone has, that scary kitchen drawer full of old curtain hardware, errant screws and picture hanging apparatus from days gone by. Even telephone hook up stuff that probably doesn't exit anymore to some fossilized princess phone. There was another cabinet with these special diet mixing devices that whir up fabulous healthy drinks that you never end up making and has been in the cabs since the '90's. Gone!

Remember the lady with the horse trailer is the chef from church so she brought me dinner for that night. Some wonderful herb pork chops with these twice baked potato things that were heavenly, guess I better give away those tiny clothes because this isn't helping that cause and not to mention another whole batch of her special jalapeno pimento cheese. Nirvana!! I could get used to this.

This might be moving along faster but I have to sneak and give some of this stuff away or my Archie Bunker husband is standing there saying you're giving that away? That's worth something and having a running repertoire going on the whole time with hands on hips watching things go by: YOU'RE GONNA NEED THAT@#$%!! He doesn't look like Archie more like Gerald McRaney but his personality is eerily similar these days. What's up with that? Do all men turn into Archie Bunker after about 25 years of marriage? FYI: I don't look a thing like Edith, not that there's anything wrong with it. Anyway, I have to schedule these sneak horse trailer hauling soirees when he's out of town.

My neighbors are getting nervous seeing all of this Sanford and Son going on over here and think we might be moving, the height of all insults moving from the neighborhood. But I assured them I was just doing spring cleaning so all is well on "Wisteria Lane" for another week.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 6:56PM
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I forgot to tell you I also cleaned out the garage taking to the basement some left over tile from the bathroom reno and all this sewing stuff such as fabric and pillow stuffing some more curtain stuff to Goodwill. I organized my golf stuff and hauled to the curb for trash pickup all these made for TV cleaning devices for dusting that never work and we always go back to the tried and true. Let's face it housework is housework and no $19.95 object is ever going to change that. I also have one of those Shark things out there ~it's in danger...I've got my eye on everything, nothing is safe. Take nothing for granted junk o mine..

I was thinking I should start a new thread because I def hijacked this one. I am not the lady with the sad childhood and baby sweaters. I'm the disco days lady who used to be really, really tiny and well, stuff happens is all I'm going to say about that... : /

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 7:28PM
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Gr8day, you are inspiring!

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 8:40AM
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Gr8day, do you do Flylady?

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 8:45AM
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No, but I have read about her on this forum. Do you have a web address for her?

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 8:52AM
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I posted this over on 'Organizing'....maybe it fits this thread too.

by nanny98 (My Page) on Tue, Mar 13, 12 at 13:33

Years ago when my DM moved into assisted living,I found all those newspaper clippings, birth and death announcements, and postcards....her memorabilia and photos while doing that dreaded job of clearing out her house. I boxed them up and took them home where I photo copied, cataloged, transcribed most of into a geneology program and folders. Originals are still in photo boxes. I think I did photo albums for 7 family members, trying to share photos of themselves and their history. Computers and copy machines are magic wonders. Now, our history is spread around in the hope that someone else will continue to save and share those things. It took, at least, one whole year, with my dinning room table ebbing and flowing with such a multitude of 'stuff'. I have not looked at it again for the last 10 years, but it is done.

And now a new phase is about to begin. Yesterday I sold my long cherished Sterling Silver flatware. I can't remember when we last used it, but it did represent a time in my life when I was young and expecting to live that "Leave it to Beaver" life of pearl necklaces, elegant dining, dressing for dinner, etc.etc. ....long gone days that were quickly replaced by being a mother in 1955 when we did not have washing machines, dishwashers, disposable diapers and being a military wife was very foreign to me.

My DD tells me that I have had a 'charmed life' and I do not deny that at all. Married 58 years to my high school sweetheart; 24 of them with the USMC and luckily traveled to foreign places with him. Twenty 24 years with the State of California...again, living in many diverse locations in the state where he was born. We never had an abundance money; our children knew that if they wanted and needed something we would do our best to provide it. They began working as soon as they could and their lives have not been as blessed as ours. DH and I are in our 77th year and struggle to do the stuff we did so easily just a few years ago, so it is time to start re-evaluating what we have and what we do with our "stuff". We have so many memories attached to so many items that are cluttering up our lives. Those memories have caused some sleepless nights but the best thing for me has been a new insight of my mother. She would be 100 years old this October and in releasing that silver, I was taken back to the day we picked it out to put into my 'hope chest'. I didn't think of it then or since, but how proud she must have been to see her little girl attaining some of the dream that she never dreamed could happen to her. The sad thing is that I don't think that she even thought that...it just was. But, as a poor farm girl in Ohio, she and my Dad and two little girls DID set out on a cross country gamble, looking for a better life in 1938. They really did succeed in launching me out into a world they could have never imagined.

Sometimes 'revisiting' those things provide insights that make it all worth it.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 1:46PM
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Flylady dot com. Love her!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 5:07PM
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Nanny98 that was a beautiful post. Time does fly and one must change their perspective in nearly every category. It seems to happen suddenly after about the age of 60. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and wisdom with us.

gr8 glad you are making some headway. Carry on!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 8:37AM
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Nanny98, lovely post indeed.

It made me recall the time when my precious mother and I picked out sterling silver (beautiful Reed and Barton Francis I). We alternated making the monthly payments ($10) and we shared the use of them. My DD smirked when I told her they would be hers one day; so I guess I will sell the set considering the price of silver and the tough times.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 8:56AM
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