It had been on my mind a few weeks and today was the day to take action. Eddie needed a new space for ALL his work shirts. (When you are in construction, it can be hard on the wardrobe, and A LOT of t-shirts are needed.) He had slowly been encroaching on my recently organized shelves in the closet, so I was determined to rethink the whole setup.
We have an armoire in our bedroom that has become, yet, another catch-all space. If I could spend some time decluttering it … maybe Ed’s t-shirts could have a new home.
The first box I pulled out of the armoire had about 150 cards in it: birthday cards, Valentine’s Day cards, Mother’s Day cards, anniversary cards… etc!
WHY am I hanging on to ALL these cards?!
I’ll tell you why…
I’m super sentimental and it’s hard for me to let go of anything that marks a memory. Never mind the fact that I haven’t pulled out a single card in YEARS to relive the memory!
Being unable to simply toss the cards, I began reading EVERY single one and sorting them. NOT the way I recommend doing this… BUT… I had time that afternoon, and this crazy system allowed my emotions time to catch up to my will to declutter.
My system worked like this:
- If someone took the time to write a personal note and it ‘struck a chord’ in me, I saved it in a ‘family pile.’ (Meaning… “this might be something they want to show their kids someday.”)
- If it had a personal note, but ‘no chord struck’… I put it in a baggie labeled with the person’s name for them to glance through and decide if they wanted to keep it.
- IF no personal note… automatically moved to a recycle pile.
(At this point you’re probably thinking… people just blog about anything these days. And you’d be right!)
The cards were cut in half. I felt pretty good about that!
As I went to pull out the next box from the armoire, guess what I found?
Not just one, but TWO MORE BOXES of cards; each box containing a couple hundred cards!
Oh my word!
This is now inching toward ‘hoarder status!’
THIS is what happens when I shove things, rather than make a decision.
Clutter can be defined as a delayed decision. (Kathi Lipp shares extensively about this on her podcast Clutter Free Academy.)
Are you still reading? Or have you decided to abandon this crazy-card-lady ramblings?!
I persevered and continued my sorting system through all the hundreds of cards. This took a couple of hours, but I gave myself permission to enjoy the stroll down memory lane, DETERMINED to not accumulate this many cards ever again.
And… I discovered I have bought Eddie the same anniversary card THREE times!
It’s interesting how God always seems to use my decluttering moments as hands-on object lessons with almost everything coming back to decluttering my thoughts.
What will I allow in? What do I want to hang onto? And, specifically for me, how can I prevent my thoughts from triggering anxiety?
In fact, while writing this, Eddie called and I instantly braced myself for stressful news because… that’s how we seem to roll this month; big issues to navigate!
Before I answered, I took several deep breaths and began an internal coaching session. I’m working on being an intentional gatekeeper of my thoughts, purposefully making decisions on how I will respond. I have a couple phrases I tell myself, depending on the topic. For example, if it’s something high-stress to do with one of our young adult kids (which has been every day, so far, this month) I choose to say to myself in the midst of the challenge, “Thank you, God, for the plan you have for (insert kid’s name) life.”
It’s a work in progress!
Last night I TOTALLY did not do this and ended up STRESSED OUT before I had accurate information. My mind hooked around one piece of news and before I knew it, the floodgate of thoughts opened and I allowed ALL kinds of thoughts in.
Philippians 4:6-10 are the verses I am clinging to. Imagine them being posted on a sign at the gatekeeper’s station of your mind. Specifically, verse 8 states the contingencies for entrance: no thought may enter unless it is authentic, real, honorable, admirable, beautiful, respectful, pure, holy, merciful and kind!
“Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ. So keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always. Follow the example of all that we have imparted to you and the God of peace will be with you in all things.” Philippians 4:6-10 (The Passion Translation)
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Do you have strategies for protecting your thought life?
Do you save cards given to you?
How about Christmas cards? Is it hard for you to toss them?
And just for the record… If you sent me a Christmas card this year, I promise to open it, read it, take a moment to think about you and then…
Let’s just say…
It won’t be shoved in a dark corner of a bedroom armoire!
Lori I really enjoyed your blog. I read all of them. They usually hit home. This one came over the welcome mat and sat down next to me. Ha ha. Are you sure you didn’t have one or two of my boxes of cards? I have a hard time tossing them out. My strategy is on a day I am feeling “heartless” is when I am able to toss some of them. Notice I said “heartless”. Not. I love the graphics, then who gave it to me, then how guilty will I feel if I toss it? It is not a great strategy but I never thought much about it the way you have described it. I use Flylady to help me declutter. She has a website. I learned about her from one of our church retreats years ago. Monica introduced her. Any how. I am still baby stepping even after all these years. Needless to say it is definitely connected to decision making. I can’t count the times I have come close to tossing a card I have had many years then went oh wait. Not yet. It is especially hard if there are animals on the card. So thank you Lori. Not a great help but I sure can relate. Lol. Thank you. Bless you.
Janelle! Great to hear from you and share our mutual struggle. It’s interesting because each time I declutter something, I feel I get a bit more ruthless. I think it’s totally fine to take baby steps until you feel empowered. I have heard of Flylady, but haven’t looked into it. I am going to check out the website! Blessings!!
Haha! Oh my gosh, I had no idea you were a card hoarder! Lol! You are so funny and I LOVE your honesty here!! Those verses in the passion are AMAZING!! I think I’m gonna post that all over my house this week! So proud of you Lori! You are doing an awesome job as gate keeper!! ???❤️??
It’s true!! I didn’t even realize how many cards I was ‘hoarding’ !! … not anymore though!? And I LOVE those verses in The Passion Translation! Powerful! ??
oh my, do i relate to the card “hoarding”, lol, and don’t get me started on boxes of pictures with nothing written on the back. When i go, there will be no one who knows who is pictured. My mom can’t speak anymore, due to Parkinsons so she can’t fill in the blanks and i’m forgetting alot. So unless i get out the marker and start going down memory lane, like watching an old movie you know will make you cry, the cards and pictures will stay in the boxes. i admire your strength and resolve, Lori.
Oh Kathee! You just HAVE to schedule time to start on your pictures; just do 20 minutes once a week! We have pictures from my dad, and even though most are labeled, it drives us CRAZY not knowing details of the unlabeled ones.
I’m sorry to hear your mom is unable to speak now. It’s a tough journey to watch our parents aging.
Lori, i will (wanted to type “plan”) on small bites of that elephant. Once a week seems reasonable for one box or half a box at a time. Mom has Parkinsons and is unable to move or speak. She is trapped in her own body, but she has always loved the Lord so i’m sure they are having great conversations. She’s always been a prayer warrior. I didn’t send out any cards this Christmas. I love and admire your honesty and find it hard to imagine you stressed.
I was “rushing” and de-cluttering my inbox and I almost skipped this. But then I remembered how much I always resonate with your postings so I opened it! The idea of an intentional gatekeeper really struck a cord. YES, I know that God has a plan for each of my family. I will try to focus on that and be thankful for each time one of them is on my heart. I have the privilege to pray for them. Oh how easy I can go down a track I’m not intending. The passion translation of these verses will be a new index card for me. 🙂
As for cards…..I only save ones where the person wrote a personal note to me that was really encouraging.
love you much! Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family.
Thank you for not de-cluttering me and skipping my post.?
The intentional gatekeeper has become a mental image for me and a way I purposefully am managing my thoughts. It really works, especially tied in with the verses in the Passion translation.
Praying for you and the amazing journey of faith God has you on.
and Happy New Year my friend. ?