Thursday, July 23, 2015

What to Keep or Not to Keep ~ How to Choose

I have been cleaning out closets, filling boxes with things I no longer use, need, or want. It’s a therapeutic process, once I get into the rhythm of it, and I always wonder why I wait so long to take care of business.

But there is a drawback. Sorting and discarding pieces of my life can leave me in a melancholy mood. I remember the little pink Rothschild wool coat and matching hat that belonged to my daughter when she was just a toddler, and how I sold it for $25 at a yard sale one Saturday, and how, within minutes I regretted that decision and asked the buyer if I could buy it back. But even when I pleaded my case, she said no. A deal was a deal and I had to honor that.

For weeks—months—I mourned my loss and vowed to never be that hasty or foolish again. Maybe that’s why my attic floor moans from the weight of the toys and plastic tubs filled with relics from my daughter’s childhood. Maybe that is why it takes me awhile to get into the swing of cleaning out closets, of saying goodbye to my stuff. I want to be sure.

Once I’m sure, though, I’m happier for it. I enjoy walking into closets that have so much space they echo. The sight of barren shelves makes me smile. I feel free, released from the weight of it all, and I like to think my old things find a new home, a new life.

On Tuesday, I strolled around a couple of antique stores, searching for a small vintage alarm clock, the kind you wind up, the kind that works. My hunt came up empty, but as I walked the aisles, I kept thinking about the things we abandon and I wondered why we choose some and hang on to others, why one day we want it, the next day we don’t.

I passed items that appeared to have been well-used and, I hope, equally loved.

Other things seemed hardly used at all. I tried to imagine who sat at this desk. Who wrote letters here, by the light of a lamp? Who opened mail here, taking in the news of the day? The desk seemed to have so much life left to give. I think, as a writer, I felt a certain kinship with it. I wanted to load it up and take it with me, but there would be no room for it at home.

I’m an advocate for simplifying life, for clearing out clutter, but some things grow dearer with time, while others grow stale. It’s really all up to the heart. And I suppose I've just answered my own question. Why do we abandon some things and hold on to others? It's because the heart either sings, or it doesn't. At least that's the best explanation I have.

So, dear friends, if something still makes your heart sing, perhaps you should hang on to it a little while longer. And if not, well, you know what you need to do.

Until next time, thanks for stopping by and listening to my ramblings. Your company is always a delight.



  1. After reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I'm on a quest to only surround myself with things that bring joy. I'm finding a good deal of those things are old, used and loved. (The book is good except for the strange parts. ;) I skipped those.)

  2. I understand because I stood in your shoes a few years ago. What do I keep? What do I let go? How do I let go of all those precious memories? Very HARD questions!

    I knew God was driving my "purging vehicle". The prayers of "Why/", were asked over and over.
    The answers came way down the road. As long as I knew I wasn't driving, I knew everything was in control.

    I gave all my children their old toys, clothes, yearbooks, wedding dress, etc. That way they were in good hands and out of mine.
    I took pictures of things I knew I couldn't hold onto but wanted the memory.
    I kept telling myself, if the house was destroyed by a fire, at least I can choose what I want to keep.

    What you are doing isn't easy, at all! I cried many tears and had moments of regret.

  3. Living far away from my girls, I think I go through things on a monthly basis, it seems. I iM them an image of the item. "No need for this anymore. Do either of you want it?" And their things from childhood were given back to them whether they wanted them or not so they can be the one to choose. It's their turn now, and so the cycle begins.

    I got a lump in my throat about the coat/hat...

    I hear myself reminding young women a lot, "Be very careful what you get rid of." In all our moves, only God knows where all Dave's love letters are in that shoebox... Talk about a lump in your throat...

    Hugs and happy summertime,

  4. Where are you in Texas? I'm in Houston.
    I know, I know, I know...but it is still SO difficult. My beautiful designer outfits, all too small, all out of style (or, maybe not), some unworn because my life changed drastically in 1 day. 1000's of photographs,
    antiques collected over decades, much too much to keep in the small place I now call home. A 2/2 condominium on the penthouse floor, which in my building is the 3rd Floor, living in the center of all that's happening, but no longer having a yard, pool, huge house. It's hard, it's a life cycle we all come to. I loved this post !!!

  5. I know how hard it is for you, twin sister, to let go. Your heart sings often and long. :-) I need to do some shuffling myself. Big time.

  6. Hello!!!
    I can not believe someone would not let you buy back the coat!!! How heartless!!! Yard sales have become big business and it is very sad. It's taken a lot of the joy out of it.
    I am thinking about a big move and need to purge is hard...but, in the end, it is all just stuff. My motto is: take a deep breath and carry on!!!...then take pictures!!!!
    I loved this post. I needed to be reminded, others have walked in my shoes.

  7. Great advice...if you love it, keep it. My problem is that I love too many things :)

  8. Hello Dear Dayle....Oh gosh, I want to clean out clutter, too. Honestly I do. It's amazing how the procrastination monster starts to growl when I say I'm going to clean out a closet, or drawer or cabinet. I need to GET WITH IT! Susan

  9. I so get this Dayle. I am not a packrat but there are things from my kids that are hard to part with b/c when I look at the thing, I see them at a certain age, wearing the item or playing with it. Great read......

  10. Dayle- you always say exactly what we all need to hear in exactly the right way.
    I have gotten rid of things a little impulsively and then regretted it.

    I know how you feel!

  11. This is, perhaps, my favorite of all your prose!
    (... and I sense you know why!)

    I love what you said about, "The heart sings -- or, it doesn't." When all's said and done, that's what I need to remember. The rest is just, well details.

  12. When sorting out things I have been playing the "moving game". I say to myself if I were moving to a new house with less storage would I take this. In the past I have kept things just because there is room to store them. Silly as it sounds, it is indeed one of life's difficult challenges - letting go of things.

  13. Oh Dayle...this is where I am right now, at this point in my life. I am surrounded by things that I have accumulated and now,I have to sort them and keep some of them. But how to choose? What to choose? your advice is just what I needed to read today...what makes my heart sing! just perfect :0) mari

  14. I could relate to this post. I have always been an organizer, and declutterer. And yet I'm always haunting the antique shop for more treasures! I think, for me, it's a matter of editing, swapping out those things that no longer work, for things that bring joy and beauty. And, can you believe, I was looking for a vintage alarm clock too, just last week! I found three. I'm thinking of going back and getting one. Mostly b/c I use my cell phone as my alarm and I've read you shouldn't sleep with one close to you.


Dear Readers, I adore your company and your comments. If you ask questions here, I respond to them here, so please check back when you have a chance. Kind regards, Dayle