Your Possessions Tell a Story

Your possessions tell a story: the story of you, your life, your past, AND your future. When you are in the midst of organizing your life after loss and especially your loved ones possessions, consider the story you want to tell. This step is actually a baby step in the organizing process, but it’s a good one to note!

Your loved one undoubtedly had collections that were meaningful to him/her, if to no one else. Maybe it was tin signs, coca-cola memorabilia, fabric, glasses, or buttons. Those collections tell a story. Is the story a whisper to you? Or do the stories attached to the items have the strength of a steaming locomotive?

You loved on also had items that signified their life force. My husband had a valve wrench that he used to irrigate all of the fields. That wrench spent its’ entire life in the back of his truck. It was a loud and proud story.

Regardless of whether it was a collection of multiples or a few meaningful random items, they all have the ability to become part of the story of your life, and the life you had with your loved one. This is how you can begin to curate the items that you will eventually want to use to tell the the story of your life in a way that is meaningful to you.

  • Designate an area for things you want to put into time out: you need time to figure out what to do with them, but you know they’re not going to be going out the door.
  • As you wander through your house, put items that evoke a strong feeling for you into time out. This process can occur over months if need be.
  • Once you begin the editing phase of your project, try to make decisions, but if something comes up that really tugs your heartstring, put it in time out.

Matt Paxton, host of the Emmy-nominated Legacy List with Matt Paxton, and author of the book, Keep the Memories, Lose the Stuff, calls this creating a Legacy List. This is what he has to say:

The Legacy List involves asking yourself, “what kind of legacy do I want to pass on?” What are the stories about you and your loved ones that you want to be told years down the road? A great legacy item is one that helps people keep people and their memories alive, long after they’re gone from our lives.

Matt Paxton, author & television host

While the beginning of a project is NOT the time to create your legacy list, it’s a great time to have it on your radar as you move though your possessions. When you come across some meaningful items you’ll recognize their potential to be a pathway to those powerful memories and stories in the future.

Here’s a few more tips when thinking about items that you may want to put in time out, and consider for your curated collection.

  1. The financial value of an items is usually not what tells the story.
  2. You may find it’s random items that have the strongest pull, and potentially tell the loudest story. They have tremendous emotional value.
  3. Let those make it to time out.
  4. The goal is not to shift a lifetime of memories and stuff from one space to another (time out). The goal is to shed the stuff, and keep the pieces with the strongest emotional value.
  5. The ultimate goal of editing and decluttering is to downsize. Organized clutter is still clutter!

I have the following items placed meaningfully around the house:

a beaten and worn valve wrench

a chair made from a tractor seat

a picture of the home ranch Jason’s great grandfather painted

a set of horns

a little container he kept next to his chair that was always fully of used candy wrappers (and I left those wrappers intact)

There’s obviously more items I kept, but those are the ones I proudly display, and tell such a strong story of outlives. It’s a story of work, of loving the land, and of creating a legacy for his children (and a little sweet tooth that couldn’t be tamed).

The possessions and presence of Jason is no longer covering every square inch of our home. Those time out items have been lovingly placed around the home, and every time we see them we smile, remember, and treasure that memory of him that will live on forever.

The most beautiful part about the legacy of my husband? The greatest story to be told? It’s in the orchard that surrounds the home ranch. That orchard is still Jason’s orchard. It’s stunning, and a testament to everything that he was and his commitment to our future. In this way, he literally surrounded us with his love.

You’ve got this!

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