There are a handful of objects in my apartment that don’t do any work. They sit on shelves collecting dust until the time comes when they’re taken down to be cleaned and placed somewhere new. Yet, I keep them around. I recently had to sit myself down and go through all of those dust bunny collectors to decide which ones were those I truly love.
I think it’s important to point out that – during a journey toward minimization – you don’t have to get rid of everything and start from scratch. There are things that Sawyer and I have kept. We kept my parents’ old dining room table and chairs that I’ve known since childhood. We’ve kept our one and only coffee table which happens to be the first piece of furniture we decided on and purchased together. We’ve also kept a couple of things to remind us of the time we’ve spent together, such as the Vermont Teddy Bear cubs I gifted him for our first Valentine’s Day. I want to stress the importance of cherishing the things you love.
When I sat down to go through all the items that had been left over from the going away party last weekend, many of them were easily answered: toss them in the donation bin. However, there were a couple of items I didn’t put into the going away party piles that were still taking up space in Sunrise Spot and now that I’ve finally donated the left overs from the party, the apartment is at its peak of beauty, minus those extra trinkets I was mentally wrestling over.
In the pile of sentimental items that had been hanging on by tooth and nail for dear life when it came to my purge of the apartment, the Vermont Teddy Bear duo (along with several other teddies), my mothers’ old jewelry cabinet (with an old music box built-in), the snow globe my grandmother gave me for Christmas when I was seven, and an adorable watercolor painting by local watercolor artist Hattie Saville that Sawyer and I found at the Champlain Valley Fair last August. Of course there were other items that didn’t quite make the to-keep bin, but I decided to keep each of these items for special reasons.
The teddy bear duo had to be kept – they were a big milestone for Sawyer and I as a couple and we like to display them throughout the house (and they will be beautiful welcome home gifts for any baby-to-be in the distant future). The Hattie Saville watercolor is the only piece of artwork I own in a white wooden frame and – while I generally like darker wood frames – I couldn’t resist the charm of the picturesque moment painted nor the sentimental memories of exploring the fair with Sawyer during our first year together. I have been using my mother’s old jewelry box since I was a teenager; I don’t own all that much jewelry anymore, but I use the drawers not storing my simple jewelry for simple items such as notes and cards from friends and family, a few of my sketches in pocket notebooks or scraps of paper, and tiny treasures such as a pressed flower that Sawyer gave me or a pebble I found on one of our walks by the lake. It is a lovely piece of furniture, the music box still works, and I have more than enough reasons to hold onto it, so I proudly display it on my chest of drawers in the bedroom. The snow globe is a simple reminder of the love I had for my grandmother, and the reciprocal love she felt for me. Also a music box, this snow globe sits on the shelf above the rack in my closet so that every time I open my closet door, I’m reminded of my family’s love for one another, and of my grandmothers’ fierce and passionate love of family.
It is a simple gesture, giving a gift to someone you love, but the meaning stretches far beyond the physical item itself. If the item has no meaning, it is easy to part with it. However, we’re able to associate so much with so many different items that it makes it difficult to let go of the things we amass throughout the years. I felt poorly about donating a cute set of salt and pepper shakers shapes as pandas that my friend Katie had gifted to me for Christmas last year, but I know that I get far more use and think of her much more often when I use the Carol MacDonald screen printed pocket notebook that she gave me. There is always an element of give-and-take when it comes to simplifying your lifestyle, and thankfully my friends and family have become some of my closest allies when it comes to being on this journey. They have supported me every step of the way and understand the trials and difficulties that minimizing has posed for me. I am so thankful to each of them, and as I draw even closer to my exodus from Burlington, I am recognizing that there are small physical tokens from each person that I cherish and will bring with me to Philadelphia simply because of the memories we had made that each item reminds me of.
With only 20 days left on the countdown clock, Sawyer and I have slowly begun to pack up our things and move them into the trailer we will be using to head to the city. I haven’t locked away any of these cherished trinkets, however, and I know they will be some of the last pieces I pack before the move. I believe that surrounding yourself with the things you love and the things that remind you that you are loved is one of the most healthy things you can do for yourself when you are building a home for yourself. Whether you live in an apartment with less than 500-square feet or a house with ample room to spread out, allowing yourself to keep the items you love will do you untold amounts of good. If you’re on this journey with me, I hope you believe me when I say that you don’t have to scrap everything and start building your way up from the bottom. There are things that are important to keep, just make sure you see the line between a lovely, cherished item and one you might find useful someday. Just like the little teddy bears I decided on keeping – while they might be useful in the future – they have an importance today, and that was the deciding factor.