Minimalism Project Update – Cleaning Out Memories

I’ve been diligently and systematically working on my minimalism project. I’m going through all my stuff and getting rid of things I don’t use or don’t add value to my life. So far I’ve cleaned out my closet, dresser, and two bookshelves. The next section of the project is my memory boxes.

I’ve had four boxes in my closet for years that contain all kinds of stuff that date back to before my birth. I found a few sheets of paper where people tried to predict what day I would be born and whether I’d be a boy or a girl. No one got it right, but two people guessed the right date but that I’d be a boy (and given how unfeminine I am, they were kind of right). My baby box also had my baptismal gown and the first tooth I lost (creepy).

Everything in this pile is going away.
Everything in this pile is going away.

My boxes had a lot of paper – all my report cards and every certificate I got in elementary and high school for academics, sports, and random things like attendance. I enjoyed reading some of the comments that my teachers wrote for me on my progress reports during first-third grade.

  • Ruth is a very enthusiastic and peppy member of our class.
  • She has continued to amaze and delight her teacher with her diligence and great ability!
  • She is spunky and enthusiastic.
  • Her sunny disposition makes her a joy to see each day.
  • Ruth doesn’t walk, she flits.

It was fun to flip through all these papers, and now they’re in the recycling bin.

I’ve noticed that I had quite a few things in my boxes that seemed valuable at the time but do nothing for me now – like trophies and the honor cords I wore during graduation ceremonies. I am keeping the medals I’ve received from running races in the last few years. I’ll get rid of those in ten years when I realize they’ve been sitting in a box doing nothing for a decade.

My gymnastics ribbons: 1992-1997.
My gymnastics ribbons: 1992-1997.

The only things I looked at that I didn’t immediately know whether to keep them or not are my gymnastics ribbons. I was a competitive gymnast for eight years. I had three gallon-size ziplock bags filled with ribbons. Gymnastics was a big part of my life, and in some ways it still is, but the ribbons are just stuff. Owning them is not a requirement for retaining my memories or any of the lessons I learned from the experience.  As I laid out my ribbons to take a picture of them before getting rid of them, I realized I’ve already gotten rid of my ribbons from my first years in competitive gymnastics. Knowing that I’ve already gotten rid of a significant number of ribbons made it easier to let go of the rest.

I started with four boxes of my diplomas and sentimental items. After I’ve sorted all the things I’ve collected over the years, everything I’m keeping fits in one 32-quart plastic container. It feels great to get rid of the excessive stuff and have less clutter around me.

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