I’ve heard it said that we spend the first half of our lives accumulating “stuff” and the second half getting rid of it.
Every now and then, I feel the urge to purge. Some things are easier to get rid of others. For example, I have no trouble dumping food that has spoiled and can be smelled from three rooms away.
But a picture of an unknown relative from the 1800s is another matter. At least I assume it’s a relative. Maybe it’s actually a photo that came with the picture frame that my great-great grandmother bought at Ye Olde Towne Square.
Yet for some reason, year after year, the Unknown Relative continues to make the cut. What do I think is going to happen if I throw it away? The relative/photo frame model is going to haunt me until the end of time?
I’d rather they just write their name on the mirror, so I know who they are. Bonus points if they use a creepy font.
I particularly struggle with tossing cards and letters. I make the mistake of rereading them, then reattaching myself sentimentally to them. I justify that they really don’t take up that much space.
If they say something nice about me, it’s almost a guarantee that they’ll never see the inside of the recycle barrel.
If advertisers ever get wind of my fragile ego and start including compliments in their junk mail, I’ll never throw anything out again. And they won’t even have to bribe me with free address labels.
A close second to the sentimental items that I can’t let go of is the “You Never Know When You Might Need This” trap.
I attend a lot of conferences, and one of my favorite activities is going through the exhibit hall and getting the free “swag” from the vendors. I call it “Adult Trick-or-Treating.”
My sister calls me a “Swag Hag.” I have boxes and boxes of office supplies I got for free. My sister asked me if I was saving up for “The Big Pen Shortage.” Ha Ha. Very funny.
With the supply chain issues, it’s feasible that a giant cargo ship full of pens could get stuck in a harbor in China. Guess who will get the last laugh then.
And when my sister comes begging, I’ll tell her she is just going to have to use a feather and quill. It’s a dying art that somebody needs to revive anyway.
She could write me letters that I’ll ponder tossing until the end of time.
Another enemy of purging is thinking “This Could Be Worth Something Someday.” It really is time to let go of the Beanie Babies, people. They are worth precisely zero and they aren’t ever coming back. Ever.
Same goes for Barbie dolls with missing limbs and Cabbage Patch Kids who are patchier than they once were.
If you find yourself struggling to purge, I suggest you keep this column.
You never know when you might need it.
Columnist Kay Frances, MBA, holds a BS in Education and she is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP).