Getting Rid of Hard Things (or, why I tossed my wedding bouquet)

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How to Declutter Memories and Heirlooms (or, why I tossed my wedding bouquet)

Decluttering is easy when it’s outgrown clothing and expired food. Pretty mindless, actually. Doesn’t fit? DONATE!  It’s expired? TOSS! Getting rid of stuff gets harder when it’s in a gray area between not loving it and feeling like you need to keep it. Examples like heirlooms, items attached to a memory, kids art, a cat that scratches the furniture (KIDDING on that last one! We heart our cat!) are much easier to keep shoving back in the box or on the shelf where it will sit hoarding valuable real estate, only to be discovered during your next decluttering spree. But these pieces of clutter are viral, soon to take over your space  and multiply because when you say ‘yes’ to keeping one item it’s so much harder to say ‘no’ to getting rid of the others.

One item that’s plagued me for years is my dried-up, decade-old, un-preserved wedding bouquet. After the wedding I had no intention of preserving the bouquet since I didn’t actually end up loving the arrangement in the first place. But I couldn’t just toss it, so I placed it on a shelf where it sat for 10 years. Each time I dusted I had to move it, wipe off the dried petals, and grimace.  I didn’t love it, but I felt tied to it as a memory of marrying the husband whom I adore. Tossing it felt like tossing out a piece of that love.

How to Declutter Memories and Heirlooms (or, why I tossed my wedding bouquet)

Looking at it the other day, I realized it didn’t bring me joy. {SIDE NOTE: my friend Jenny sent me a link to the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and after reading the reviews I keep walking around my house holding up items and screaming  “DOES THIS BRING ME JOY?!?!?” }

Instead of moving, dusting, and putting it back I instead took it out of the china cabinet. I took a few photos so I could remember it.

How to How to Declutter Memories and Heirlooms (or, why I tossed my wedding bouquet) Hard Things like Memories and Heirlooms (or, why I tossed my wedding bouquet)

Then carefully unwrapped the ivory ribbon.

 and placed it into a bag with a note about my bouquet, the flowers, and the date.

And placed it into a bag with a cheesy note about my bouquet, the flowers, and the date.  I then tucked it into a drawer with my wedding silverware where I’ll see it a few times a year. Seeing the ribbon and note will bring me happiness. Constantly debating what to do with a dried out fugly bouquet does not. Problem solved.

 and placed it into a bag with a note about my bouquet, the flowers, and the date.

Then I tossed the dead flowers into the trash. And it didn’t even hurt.

 and placed it into a bag with a note about my bouquet, the flowers, and the date.

I’d so much rather remember my bouquet looking like this:

 and placed it into a bag with a note about my bouquet, the flowers, and the date.And more importantly, the moment it symbolized, which was this:

 and placed it into a bag with a note about my bouquet, the flowers, and the date.

As I decluttered, I found several things that fell into this category of ‘things that are hard to get rid of’. Or, if you’re the grammar police and hate dangling prepositions,  ‘getting rid of things that are hard’. Or ‘things of which are hard to get rid.’  I don’t know. I hate prepositions.

Kids’ art. Heirlooms. Items attached to memories (that skirt you wore on the first date with your husband). Aspirational items (hello, dust-catching treadmill). These are all things that are hard to part with. With which to part. UGH, prepositions!

Since we’re taking on items attached to memories today, here’s a few ideas of how to capture and respect that memory and still get extra closet space:

  • Take a photo of the item. A photo is much easier to store and will bring up the memory WITHOUT the clutter.
  • If it’s made from fabric, cut off a piece and place in your memory album. Or turn it into a throw pillow or part of a quilt. PUT A DEADLINE on that project though, do not keep it hanging around! Hire out if needed.
  • As with the bouquet, keep a piece. A small, flat piece. Place it somewhere that will make you smile when you see it.
  • Paper degrades. Consider scanning papers digitally and backing up in several places including a hard drive and in the cloud.
  • Hold it up and scream in your head: DOES THIS BRING ME JOY?! If not, it’s time for it to go.

We’ll tackle the kids art, heirlooms, and aspirations later. Make the items attached to memories your first step and soon you’ll find getting rid of the rest so much easier when you’re in the right mindset.

I’m off to declutter the entire dining room, which seems to hold all the hard items. See you next week for the rest!

Looking for more decluttering and organizing tips and tricks? Check out the 31 Day Organization Challenge!

Which memory items are hard for you to get rid of? Do they bring you JOY, or do you feel attached to them for memory’s sake and not because you’ll use it again?

How to Declutter Memories and Heirlooms (or, why I tossed my wedding bouquet)

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2 Comments

  1. NICELY DONE.

    Now, come to my house and follow me around screaming the question at me. I need help. HELP!

  2. I found my wedding bouquet (fake flowers turned yellow) today and I really want to get rid of it! I love the idea if keeping the ribbon, thats exactly what I’m going to do! I think there’s a time in our lives to keep these things and a time to let them go. Wedding memories are so special but I need to make space in our home for a lifetime of memories to come!

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