Monday, April 20, 2015

TO BE (DONATED) OR NOT TO BE? THAT IS THE QUESTION.


I have a hard time letting go of things. Whether they be clothes, art work, books, shoes, or just coffee cups, I somehow become attached emotionally.  It takes a lot of effort combined with a lack of storage space to make me part with my belongings.



It’s not that I don’t want to donate and let others enjoy nice things, it’s that there is such sentiment behind them that I feel sad letting them go. Not everything, naturally.  But I was going through my closet to purge it of winter clothes and  discovered several dress jackets and blouses that I haven’t worn in years.  Why did I keep them when I passed them right by each time I was looking for a dressy outfit? Because they weren’t in style. But my husband had chosen many of them with or for me and that was a huge reason why I couldn’t release them.

I did, however, suck it up and finally made a significant pile of many of those precious articles of clothing to go to my church’s resale shop. And now there’s room in my closet for new things! It’s a win/win situation. 

When I downsized, I had to get rid of a cabinet full of mismatched coffee mugs collected over the years. Each one had meaning but I simply didn’t need them all or want to store them. So out most of them went.

Same with bookshelves full of hardback books that my husband and I had collected. Many weren’t my tastes but they were beautiful volumes that he and I loved. I ended up donating them to the local library for their book sale, keeping just a handful of classics that I couldn’t bear to part with.

I am by no means a pack rat. In fact, I’m the opposite of that. I have only a few well chosen–but sentimental items on display in my house and my cabinets and closets are models of organization. So I don’t understand why I make such sentimental attachment to belongings. In my rational mind, I know they are just “things” and don’t really matter. And yet some things” do matter, says my emotional mind.

I should ask my Cozy Chick buddy Mary Kennedy to explain. Mary is a forensic psychologist and usually has wisdom to share.


Are you that way about your belongings? Do you hold onto your things or are you a “one year and done” buyer?

29 comments:

loveamystery said...

My home is chock full of memories and most of them tangible. Clothes I can toss but things I sit and can look at a shelf and tell you where each item came from and the time associated with that, Things purchased at a store for everyday use I can. Let go of but if it has a memory attached forget it. I am however not one of those people that gets upset when you touch things, I love when people look, touch, pick up and if it breaks, it was an accident, I love the tactile.

mary kennedy said...

Kate, I wish I had your organizational skills! (I wish I could practice half of what I preach to my clients.) My sister-in-law gave me some good advice many years ago. She moved 22 times in 27 years, with 6 kids. Her husband was in the British Army and they lived in exotic places all over the world. The military paid for the moving, but she was responsible for all the packing and they lived in houses that were already furnished. She quickly decided to "store" all her belongings (including her wedding presents) in England because it would be impossible to drag them with her. I asked her how she could part with so many beautiful antiques, china sets, etc and she said, "Never get too attached to things, Mary. Always be prepared to let them go." I've always remembered that. But since I have pack-rat tendencies, I have to remind myself of that every single day! Lovely blog, Kate.

Lorraine Bartlett said...

Talk about timely. Yesterday I spent the entire afternoon going through my storage area in the basement and my office purging stuff. Why am I keeping so many pieces of audio equipment that DON'T WORK? Into the tote they went. Why do I keep so many empty boxes. (In case I need them, but obviously haven't.) I wish they'd have more days when you can recycle old computer equipment, because I always seem to miss them. Those day days to get rid of expired drugs. (Why don't pharmacies have a plan in place? They know everything they sell does not get used, and you're not supposed to throw them in the trash OR flush down the toilet.) I realized yesterday I want to hang onto things my Dad and Mom made, but otherwise, it's time to purge. Thanks for giving me even more encouragement.

Kate Collins said...

That's me, too. Things that are on my shelves have memories attached but I don't mind if people stop to look, touch, and ask. I love talking about them. So you don't attach memories to clothes?

Kate Collins said...

Good advice, Mary. I do get too attached to certain things, and often to too many things that just add clutter, like clothing. I'm getting better!

Kate Collins said...

Great points, Lorraine. Pharmacies should have a place to drop off old scrips. My city has two electronic drop off days a year. Miss them and you're stuck for another year. That's just bad planning because then many people just dump them. And good for you for purging. It hurts at first and then it feels so good!

Cindy said...

We can drop off unused drugs at our local Sheriff's Department any day of the week. This makes it very convenient so you don't have to save them like I used to do.

Anonymous said...

Good topic. Especially as I am sitting here trying to purge 3 boxes of cozy mystery books. I can't let go and yet I know I will not read most of them again. Is it the fear that if they aren't there to remind me that I have read them I will accidentally re-buy them? I've done this often enough with them there. So why can't I let go? How do others purge their books? Linda

Cindy said...

When my mother passed away last July, my brother and his family got everything. Took what they wanted and trashed the rest which I'm sure involved things I would have wanted. I'm the sentimental one and I'm at least thankful that I have things from my grandparents. But I get upset thinking of where my christening gown that my son also used could be. Along with who is wearing Mom's 60 year old wedding pearls, wedding gown or did they sell them, photos growing up, all my childhood gone. It's been so very hard to deal with losing my mother. All I have left are memories. I guess the rest is only stuff after all.

Zena Weldon said...

I came face to face with this problem when I moved to smaller and smaller places: four moves; first from a 13 room Victorian to a 7 room Modern and eventually to 3-1/2 rooms. The sentimental pieces were the hardest until I realized I always had the memories. Now it is easy because my question to myself is "Do I want to take care of this?" and I also have come to realize that if it is packed away or placed unnoticed, the memory is not with me anyway. Maybe it's age that makes it easier too.

Once, for the items that were treasured by others and given to me or other special items that I didn't have a space to put in my new abode, I decided to hold a secret giveaway. I arranged the items in a horseshoe shape in one room, had bags and tissue ready, and then invited my friends to tea. When each arrived, I told them that before they could join the tea party (wine too), I wanted them to view the items and take any and all that they wanted. Result: I've been delighted to visit a friend and see a painting from me on the wall, or went to dinner where my grandmother's platter was used. An unexpected bonus: A friend brought his cousin and I included her in the giveaway. No one else wanted the original Hummel figures and she looked at them longingly but didn't take any. I packed them and gave all of them to her only to learn that she started to collect Hummels as a teenager and for decades, and all were stolen from her home.

Diane LaBrie Leverson said...

Since I downsized 2 years ago, I seem to be able to get rid of clothes without much thought. I have trouble with china and Crystal. I just couldn't part with my stuff so have it here with me. My mother's too along with other family crystal. It's packed away and I'm sure I won't ever use it but I know it is there. Some is on display. I had a beautiful dining room set in my house and it broke my heart to have to get rid of it. No one wanted it, so the table and chairs went to Salvation Army but they wouldn't take my large hutch. In the end I left it for the buyers of my home and they said they were delighted. I took the server with me. I have trouble getting rid of anything that was my Grandmother's or Mother's. In this small dining room, I took the almost one hundred year old, warped a little, maple table my Grandmother had in her kitchen. Sometimes I think I would like a new table but I can't part with this part of my family. Family things seem to mean the most to me now. Books I brought with me and put in the library in the community building. Now I read on my Kindle and have a ton of books there in Cloud.

Mary Jane Maffini said...

Well, then will understand why I still have my father's hat (after 18 years) and my mother's dressing gown after twenty-nine. I should have Mary on speed dial!

I really liked this post. XO MJ

spider said...

There are still many cozies on my shelves but whenever I send a package to my daughter in Denmark I include a half dozen or so of them. And now that I am reading so many on Kindle the supply of "real" books has stopped growing faster than I can mail them. I do wish there were still an international book rate. Postage is so expensive.

Leslie Budewitz said...

My mother had that problem with library books, often bringing home a book only to discover she'd read it but had not recognized the cover or jacket copy. So she got a small alphabetized notebook -- maybe meant to be an address book -- and started keeping lists of books she'd read by favorite authors. That solution might help you, too!

Leslie Budewitz said...

What a lovely tea party that must have been -- and I gasped out loud to read about your friend and the Hummels!

Leslie Budewitz said...

Timely column for me, too, Kate, as I spent the weekend helping my mother move to a smaller apartment. Thank goodness my SIL went through the boxes of items from her big hutch with her -- easier for her to say "what about this, Alice?" without getting lost on Memory Lane like I might have. But though all went well, it does make me want to come home and purge!

Anonymous said...

When I had surgery, got a 60 pill prescription for Oxi, and only used 9, I was really concerned because of the street value of the drug. They were water soluble so I put them in a small plastic container with water to cover, let them dissolve, let the water dry out, and put the container in a plastic bag with the used cat litter. Figured nobody would go through the bag and the plastic wouldn't break down for a gazillion years. Didn't cost anything except a bit of time. I also use the bags of used cat litter for empty prescription bottles (those labels just don't peel off) or anything else I want to keep private. I had someone tell me once that she used the bags of dirty disposable diapers the same way. When I moved from an apartment to my house nine years ago, my sister and a friend went thru some of my stuff and ruthlessly threw out most of it. Then when I got a new car 3 years ago and finally needed the garage, I had the same friend help me clean it out because I knew she would be ruthless again. Both times I had to rescue a few things but was fast and efficient. Cordella

Anonymous said...

I think I might give that a try. Will try to find one that I can keep in my purse and add to when I need to. Simple! Thanks, Linda

Kate Collins said...

Cindy, I'm so sorry. Sometimes wills bring out the beast in people we thought loved us. One thing that's a comfort to me is that even when I give something away, I have the memory of it. So it's not sitting in the back of a cabinet getting dusty. I can always retrieve it from my memory.

Kate Collins said...

Diane, I have the same problem with china and crystal. I have a LOT of crystal. Young people don't want those things anymore. They don't have room in many cases. They also don't want or need china hutches, which is why they don't' sell. I practically gave away my beautiful cherry dining room set when I moved. Broke my heart -- but now I have a chic new smaller table and chairs that I really like. I guess it all evens out in the end.

Kate Collins said...

There are some things we will just never part with, that's all!

Kate Collins said...

It really helps to have a super-organized buddy. My best friend was ruthless when she helped me clean out before my move. Her main question: will you ever use it again? Followed by, when was the last time you pulled it out? Ruthlessness works!

Kate Collins said...

We're on the same page, Cordella. I answered Leslie's post above before I read yours. Ruthlessness is the way to go.

Anonymous said...

Coincidentally, I was trying to "thin the herd" yesterday....same debate...not much accomplished :( but did remind myself of many sentimental things.

Kathleen Bylsma h5apby@yahoo.com

Tonette said...

I've been a terrible 'keeper' over the years.I guess it's was insecurity or the fact that I didn't have everything I wanted or the funds to replace good things much of the time. I married a 'keeper' who developed into a 'packrat', and we have been fighting for years...mainly because I can never find what I know I have and need, so I make-shift or do without.Now, my strength isn't what it should be with my many problems, so moving 10 things to get to what I need is ridiculous. We suddenly have to down-size so now he's pretty game,(I think.).
It has always been hard for me to let go and now that I have to admit that my strength and days left are going, I have really begun to get rid of tings that I will not realistically use again.It hasn't been depressing at all, but freeing! I was bogged-down with, "Oh, I don't have the energy to do that", to, "Someone else might enjoy this like I did." And the books! I don't know how the husband is going to deal with all of his.I'm keeping plenty, but realistically, are we going to get to so many or get to so many AGAIN?. Time to trim.It's really started.

Margaret said...

I go through "purging fazes" all the time. As far as clothing, I have no problem donating. I do have three special sweaters and one special dress tucked into the back of my closet on a top shelf. I don't wear them, but I love them (they are one of a kind.)
Althought there are somethings I wish I still had; and when I think about them it makes me a bit sad I didn't think to save them!
I only keep books I love or series I continue to follow. If I get tired of a series and don't follow it I will donate them to the book store run by the Friends of our local library system to sell. And books I didn't enjoy go out quickly.
As for everything else, like home textiles. I change everything every 5 years, so I usually donate them. "Knick-Knacks" and other treasures are usually things I aquire on my travels or tend to have special meaning; so I keep them.
Although it seems like I am very "well adjusted" I am not quite that perfect. I have been in my home for 20 years and I can most definitly say moving would be a nightmare! When I had moved into my home it was my third move and each time it got a little bigger than the last.
But, it is not the getting rid of things that keeps me in check, I live alone so I don't have to share storage space with any one. LOL
That being said I do have a few bins stored away high up in my dressing room filled with all sorts of weird little keep sakes. I guess as long as they are not cluttering up the house and tucked neatly away they are fine. Maybe it is time to pull them out and take a look, it might be good for a few laughs.

Cindy said...

Kate, my mother having no will was a big part of the problem. And I live 1000 miles away. Dad is in a nursing home so no will again but really nothing is left. My brother even managed to get the small life insurance policy Mom had for her final expenses and her bank acct. I got the funeral home bill and when he didn't pick up her ashes, I had them shipped to me. So I imagine he has also sold the funeral lots they had. It's been one really bad year.

grammajudyb said...

Same in my city as Cindy's. The police department takes unused drugs. And I found out recently the local Medicap Pharmacy will take them too.

That being said, I still have a small box that needs to go from the house to the car to the police department. "sigh"

Jacki said...

That was a whopper of a last line! :)