birthday card, letters with airmail stickers on envelopes

When clutter is proof you’re loved

A surprising amount of the clutter that fills our homes falls into the category of evidence that we’re loved.

Here are the notes and letters all my friends from school sent me.  I’m likable.

I’ve kept every Valentine and birthday card I was ever given.  I’m lovable.

Here are the torn, stained, hand-me-down baby clothes from my cousin. My family might tease me but they look out for me. I belong.

Here’s the furniture Mom and Dad gave me when I was setting up home thirty years ago. Dad never said much but he dragged that dresser up three flights of stairs for me. My Dad cared about me.

But the things aren’t the love

And holding onto them doesn’t make that so. Either you felt loved or you didn’t, and a houseful of clutter doesn’t change that fact.

Are you holding onto anything because it tells you a story about being valued or loved? Can you begin to separate the weight of the emotional ties that swirl around it from the fact that it’s a thing?

Things wear out, they fall apart, they get outdated, and they stop striking you as beautiful. That’s true wherever they came from and whatever meaning your mind has previously attached to them.

Take a second look at a thing you once gave great meaning and evaluate whether or not it’s serving you now. If you cherish it only for its connotations, take a picture of it and let it go. Or write a story about it and what it means to you, and then let it go.

Better yet, do both. Start a small scrapbook of photos of those items along with handwritten descriptions of why you’ve been holding onto them. Tell the stories, capture the memories and then allow the things themselves to move on.

When it comes time to downsize, you’ll pick up the scrapbook and take it with you if it’s still meaningful or let it go if you no longer need it. Either way, boxes and boxes of old correspondence, bags of moth-eaten baby clothes, and big heavy pieces of ugly furniture won’t be a part of your downsizing process.  An excellent way of proving to your future self that you loved and cared about them enough to deal with this now.

READ MORE >>> What to do with sentimental clutter

by Lucy Kelly


  1. With your push I managed to shred many many letters and diaries yesterday. Not without a wrench in my heart, but I’m feeling lighter today. Your blog is absolutely inspirational. 🌼

  2. As usual, you are right. But, sigh, this time I cannot find it in me to chuck out all those loved items, heavy, outdated or not. Maybe next week!