Archive for the 'Memories' Category

Precious Memories

Precious Memories………….Treasures or Clutter?

Chances are, if you watch any television, you have seen this sweet Mother’s Day commercial of a daughter, Jenny, giving her Mom a Mother’s Day card. Jenny gives Mom a card and a hug. Mom goes into her home, takes down a small wooden box from a shelf above her desk,  opens it and takes out all the Mother’s Day cards that her daughter has given her over the years. You see Jenny’s handwriting change from a primitive scribble, to an adolescent’s writing, to a young woman’s script. You notice both short and sweet, and longer, more sentimental notes from Jenny. Finally, you see the note that Jenny has written on this year’s card, “From one Mom to another”, along with a picture of Jenny and her baby.  A proud moment for Mom, indeed. Precious memories treasured.

As much as I love the commercial, as a professional organizer, what I love most is the fact that Mom can actually find, look through, and appreciate the cards that her sweet daughter has given her over the years.

Too often, in our sentimental fashion, and in our attempt to savor and appreciate our memories, we keep every card, letter, photograph and sentiment ever given to us. As our piles accumulate, they become overwhelming and, by the sheer volume alone, become our clutter instead of our precious memories.

It is not unusual to find a scene similar to this picture, with boxes and bins filled with memories, haphazardly stored in the garage, basement or attic, simply because they had taken over the living space.

So, how do we keep our keepsakes and precious memories from becoming clutter?

  • Keep the most precious (and be willing to toss the rest)! If you hold on to EVERY picture, note, card, and memorabilia, the volume becomes overwhelming and you won’t be able to enjoy any of them. The idea is to pick the most meaningful, organize those beautifully, and toss the rest. That way, you can actually find and enjoy your memories.
  • Dedicate a specific space and container for your memories. You might have a specific memory box in your bedroom for cards from your husband. A special box in the family room for saving notes, cards and art work given to you from your children or grandchildren.  A few beautiful, well placed, magazine holders  on a shelf might do the trick.
  • Remember that your decision to keep or throw out a card or piece of memorabilia does not reflect a corresponding sentiment for the person who gave it to you!
  • Ask yourself a few questions before storing away that card, note or picture…….
    • Does it bring me joy, make me smile, and bring specific memories of the person who gave it to me?
    • Does it show off the qualities or personality of the person who gave it to me?

Baroque Storage Boxes from The Container Store

Basic Magazine Holder by See Jane Work

Handcrafted Wood Memory Box

Find a storage box that matches your personality and style. Something that you want setting out in your home. There are 1,000’s of options! Then, save and enjoy those precious memories!

Happy Mother’s Day!


It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

The countdown is on. It is The Most Wonderful (and busiest)  Time of the Year!
“And the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people;'” The Bible, Luke 2:10
Celebrating Jesus. Come to earth as a baby. For me and you!
Over the years, our celebration has come to include SO MANY things…… and friends, meals out, gift giving, serving others, evenings in, shopping, cleaning, decorating, baking, cooking……..and the list goes on……….
In the midst of it all, life doesn’t stop. So, HOW DO we fit it all in?
Plan 1st. Do 2nd. You have heard it all before. Make your list. Check it twice.
I think we are skipping a very important step………..
Make your list. Simplify your list. Then check it twice.
Most of us shop too much, bake too much, cook too much, EAT WAY TOO MUCH, plan too much, commit to too much, and generally wear ourselves out. At a time when we want to slow down and appreciate all Christmas  means and the people in our lives, we are bogged down with our “TO DO LIST”.
Absolutely, spread joy, celebrate, shower those you love, shop, bake, cook, decorate………
Just go about it as simply as possible.
As you look forward to and plan for the the holiday season, take a few minutes to make a list of everything you do to celebrate……..all your traditions………from baking and cooking, to decorating and Christmas caroling, to service opportunities and giving. Then ask your family members what is important to them. You may be surprised! Finally, simplify that list.  Pick those things that have the most meaning. Be realistic and be kind to yourself!
Check back during the next few weeks as I give you practical hints on Gift Giving, Holiday Meals and Baking, and Cleaning and Decorating.
Happy Holidays!

The Keeper of Memories

“There is no childhood home to return to for holidays or long weekends. My mother long ago packed my bedroom items into a box marked,”Amy” ,and brought it to me in Birmingham. Letters from old boyfriends, photos from school dances, moody poems I wrote at 13-I keep them safe. I am the caretaker of my own past.”
Excerpt taken from “Going Home Again” By Amy Bickers Mercer,
Southern Living Magazine, April 2008

Parents, you are the caretaker of your child’s past. How do you accomplish this without being overtaken and overwhelmed by mounds and mounds of memories, which when out of control, become clutter rather than keepsakes?

The answer really is simple: You save the BEST and the MOST special keepsakes, photos and memorabilia. If you save everything, it diminishes the value of those SPECIAL items. They will get lost in the shuffle, and you will be left with clutter, not keepsakes!

We tend to start out strong, with the first many pages of the baby book (for the 1st child, at least!) filled out completely. But then, life takes over and we might pile papers in the back of the book for a rainy day. The “rainy day” becomes the “rainy years”, and before we know it, our children are ready to launch out on their own, and if we are lucky, we have boxes of “memories”, which may or may not be clutter, to pass along to them.

So, how can we reign in the clutter and sort through the toys, books, clothes, artwork, school work, and photos? Will we, like Amy’s mother, be able to pass along a wonderful, handpicked history of our children’s development and memories?

First, think LONG TERM and SIMPLE.

Think through the “categories” or stages of your children’s lives. Possible categories might be Baby, Pre-School, School Age and High School.

Secondly, think through how YOU operate.

Next develop a “system” of saving memories for each “category” based on your own personality. Are you a detail oriented person who will actually fill in the blank spaces in the baby book? Lovely! Then simply set aside a few minutes each week or month, depending on your child’s age and rate of development, and do it! You know yourself and your life. If you are not someone who has time, energy or motivation to fill in those blank spaces in the baby book, then come up with a plan that will work for you. You can choose to use a calendar to record the milestones of your child’s development along with cute and funny sayings and incidents. You can hang the calendar in whatever room you spend a significant amount of time, so that it is often accessible and you can record your child’s milestones “on the run”, as they occur. An alternative is to simply set aside a photo box, clearly labeled with your child’s name and, using dividers that come with the photo box, simply slip in the memories you jot down, photos and memorabilia in chronological order. Look how simple it can be!

The same system can be used to record the preschool years.

As your child approaches school age, consider purchasing a file box with 12 dividers or a banker’s box with 12 large envelopes. Then as each year slips by, keep a plastic or cardboard crate accessible and toss in all your child’s potential treasures……….., all the sweet cards, pictures, awards and brilliant writings. At the end of each school year, sort through and save the best and most meaningful. Then transfer them to the appropriate file or envelope. By the end of high school you’ll have a wonderful, handpicked history of your child’s life and development (with very little effort).

To borrow a phrase from Nike, “Just do it”! You’ll be glad you did (and so will your child)!

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