In Praise of Less Stuff

“Considering one’s own mortality is a great reminder that today’s all we've got. There’s nothing wrong with stuff. But I want to spend less time cleaning, organizing and thinking about mine. I have too many other things still to do.”

—Donna Brazile
Oprah Magazine, 13 New Rules of Decluttering


I think Donna sums up her article on decluttering very well with the On-line Oprah Magazine. I would like to add we still have too many memories to make. Why are we are so busy with how will we keep the past alive? All the while, we are missing out on the day at hand.

I am all about keeping the best and get rid of the rest. Well now I am…

I used to take pictures everywhere I went and of everyone I knew. Before the digital age and well after it. I kept movie stubs and receipts from restaurants. I’d cut out parts of fliers just to remember the day and time. I would write down who I was with because I didn’t want to forget anything.

I was creating memories with these photo albums I was filling. I was scrap booking before it became a thing. Every year I would have another album, sometimes two. I would sit down for hours to make sure that everything was in chronological order. I would write something someone had said that day or weekend that was funny.

Years and years had past and I kept going. I would look at these books and be proud of my work of how organized I was and how I care about the people in my life and the memories we had made.

As I look back I realize when I would peruse through them I was more impressed with my work then the memories themselves. Every time I moved I would have to have so many extra large boxes just for my photo albums but they always came with me.

I would see these books all lined up neatly on the shelves of my bookcase and think without these I would never remember my past. These albums are who I am. If there was ever a fire I know I would grab these and make the trips back and forth and put my own life in danger. What was my life anyway if I didn’t have these photo albums to validate it?

When I moved to the east village I started to declutter my life. I really got rid of everything. I was living in a 6’ by 9’ room where every inch of space was so important. For some reason I couldn’t get rid of these albums. I had someone custom make shelves just so I could keep them with me. If I had nothing else at least I my albums.

I was literally being suffocated by my own memories.

Now living in LA where space is much more prominent for me I still didn’t want to lose this minimalist quality that I acquire by living in NYC. I got so good at organizing small spaces and really learning to let go of things that I started my own business helping others. To keep up I am always reading books on decluttering and organizing. I came across one called Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston and I’m still amazed at the impact it had on me.

Karen goes into detail about how everything holds energy. Subconsciously we are picking up on the good and the bad energy of our stuff. She was helping a woman clean out old memorabilia; old birthday cards, letters, photos of people she did or didn’t talk to anymore. As she was going through them they made her sad at the lost friendships or bad endings. It was here, from Karen, I got the motto “Keep the best and get rid of the rest!”

So I took a long look all my photo albums. Who am I to tell people how to let go when I have been holding on so tightly? I put all those albums on my dining room table opened a bottle of wine and said to myself I’m going to keep the best and get rid of the rest! I’m only going to keep pictures from the good memories and people I care about and/or still keep in touch with.

Hours and hours later I was left with a stack, about 4 inches high, of photos that still bring me much joy as I look at them. I threw out the pictures of when I went to St Martin and got into a fight with my employer who sent me there. I got rid of the pictures from Atlantic City when my mother and I were at our worst. The pictures of the guy I really liked that never wanted to date me. I still love the picture of my sister and I when we were downtown in Savannah or the picture of my girlfriends that I still can call and it is like only a day has passed since the last time we spoke. The picture of me in the dress my mother made me at the wedding where the couple is actually still together.

I went out and bought one photo album to put all my wonderful memories in. However, I never got around to it. I hold these memories in my heart now. I look forward to taking many more mental pictures of the good times I share with my friends and family.

When it’s my time to go I will be able to take those with me.