Dealing With All the Past Life Fashizzle.

Friends. We have to talk. I need your help and input.

I am knee-deep in my past life – in the form of pictures, wedding announcements, baby bracelets my children wore in the hospital. For the love of Elton John, y’all. It is getting so real in this organizing fiasco that is supposed to make all the things more manageable.

What do YOU do with it all? I am seriously looking for answers. There’s no right or wrong one. I’m just curious.

Here’s where I am. (I think)

I’m at a place where I very much want to live in the present and no longer want to be anchored to the past. Making sense? However…I’m recognizing that I have this tendency to hold on to certain things – specifically photos. So many photos.


Now…I came of age in the pre-Internet days. I’m 42. Not young…but not really old (though I know some of you young thangs are like what? Girl. That is old.)

And I get it. We had actual yearbooks (I think this is still a thing – at least in elementary school it is.)

My friends and I actually hand wrote notes to each other on notebook paper. We exchanged wallet photos and wrote little notes on the back.

We printed out photos from our disposable cameras. (I should call this post…the weirdness of being wedged between the print age and the digital age.)

My freshman year of college (1993) was a time where most major universities were transitioning from registering in person (where everybody went and stood in line to get their schedules) to the phone-it-in system. Registering online was still a few years down the road.

I didn’t get an actual school email address until I’m not even sure when. It was a weird time. But…I sort of witnessed the phasing out of paper and moving towards digital.

I’m stuck in between.

I went back to college in 2005, so there was a lot of change in the ten years I was out…and overall I like technology and pick up new things fairly easily.

The cloud and various parts of social media feel a bit weird to me…but anyway…


Now this also means that my parents and grandparents and aunts and great aunts…had/have a little hoarder in them for whatever reason. (they were all WAY pre-Internet.) Many still talk about things I don’t much relate to – like hope chests and fine china.

Oh for pete’s sake the conversations my mom and I had about china before my wedding. I didn’t want to register for china. She couldn’t fathom that a proper young couple was fine to eat on mismatched plates and marched herself right up to the local House of Glass and registered Gil and me for all the fancies. My goodness, people.

And her friends showed up for us.

People I’d never met were rolling over with well wishes in the form of a bread plate that cost $45. Nice thoughts, and while I appreciated the gesture, it all felt a little ridiculous. We had student loans. We did not need a $300 place settings.

I mean, I am most definitely a late bloomer. I’m off-beat, unconventional and not remotely traditional. I do everything out of order. It’s exasperating for me at times (I wish I could be more “normal” – whatever that is…), so I can imagine how challenging it is for someone like my mother who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s.

But here I am.

I’m STILL working on self-acceptance. I’m trying to mother my kids in a way that feels authentic and progressive and sees the past in all its glory — the bad parts that we can learn from while loving the actual people who insist on tradition.

I have a difficult time tweaking out the traditional parts that are worthy (are there even any?) while seeing the big mess that’s left that my generation and certainly the ones after me will be cleaning up. I live in the southeastern US where there is still so much racism and misogyny and people wanting everyone to know their places. On the rare occasion I actually attend family reunions I leave with more talking points than I ever imagined possible.

I have one gender bending child and another who leans that way but is extremely sensitive and perceptive to the outside world and its expectations. Gil and I let our kids express themselves however they see fit. We’ve never been the type to be overly rigid about “girl” things or “boy” things. They see Gil in the kitchen and me avoiding places like PTA meetings and volunteering to coach their sports leagues.

I live in an area where adults remind my kids to say yes ma’am and no ma’am and they’re often regarded as rude for leaving off the ma’am when in reality the yes they delivered was perfectly polite. Why in the you know what do we keep doing this stuff and expecting peace? Maybe I’m naive? I expect peace. Many do not.

At the same time, I absolutely value love and civility. Can we just be kind and treat people civilly and not weight everybody down with petty social norms and expectations? I realize my request is SOOOO lofty. Anyway…


This is obviously a post because I can’t stay on one topic of late. I should edit and get back to my project, but instead I’m gonna just post.

So, I’ll leave you with the question. What do you do with all the stuff — pictures, memorabilia, etc.? What about for your kids? Sigh… Thanks for any input.



8 thoughts on “Dealing With All the Past Life Fashizzle.

  1. I grew up in Georgia and I love the traditions that keep family rooted to one another like intertwined tree roots. But like you, I have never fit into any age or generation and my family had no roots. Having no roots, I’ve packed stuff in the back of my pickup truck and moved more times than I can count, always leaving things behind. Then when I married and came to Scotland, I could only bring two suitcases. So I’m not a good one for answering your question. I carry little of the past with me. I know this world is not my home. It’s temporary. It’s a stopping over place until I get to heaven. So I travel light and free. My husband, on the other hand, keeps everything. But it is a burden to him when something gets scratched, broken, or wears out. Who is wrong? Who is right? I don’t know. The important things in this life, I think, are carried in the heart and in memories instead of hope chests…which I love and which are beautiful. However….that’s just me…just as mixed up about time and place as you are!

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    • Yes – I wholeheartedly agree – “the important things in this life are carried in the heart and in memories instead of hope chests…” Thank you for commenting. Nice to meet a fellow Georgia girl. 🙂


  2. I keep a shoe box for each and have little things like soother or a tiny diaper or their hospital bracelets, teeth, etc. But must fit in there (managed w my 11yo). Then i have a larger box for all of the pics. Eventually i will tackle it. That’s about it! Ah and school stuff i keep a couple of pages only of each grade so fits in a binder. There’s a podcase that she talks about memorabilia Organize 365. Got good tips there too.

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  3. I scrapbook some. I put pictures on jump drives. I pick through their projects from school (usually during the summer) and see what I still want to display…Memories are always a tough thing to sort through although I’ve gotten better at giving away clothing that people have been pictured in at some point in time.

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    • I agree that memories are tough. I’ve always been pretty good at passing on the clothes, but some of the artwork is harder for me. Seems it gives me insight into their inner worlds and shows a glimpse of the people they’re becoming.

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  4. If your anything like me, they all sit in some storage or box somewhere and very rarely get seen. Yes there are some very close things that I keep, but as time goes by I realise it is time to ‘release’ the past to be more present in the now. My heart still holds all the really good stuff anyway ❤

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