• An Important Lesson

    “Throwers” relish clearing out and will empty a house quickly; “keepers” want to preserve special things as well as memories, and will linger over the process. People who balance these attributes have come to the realization that the most valuable thing in a house is the life that has been lived there. Read more about how “keepers” and “throwers” work together to downsize and declutter.
  • Press for our Book

    “…a downsizing bible” Oregon Home
    "...some items have special sentimental meaning... Huffington Post
    "clearing out the clutter...a wonderful gift to your family..."USA Today
    "sharing tips for getting the job done..."PBS’s Next Avenue
    "Downsizing: What to do with all that stuff?" Forbes
    “…discussions [help] avert misunderstandings…” The New York Times
    “…creative ways…of maintaining peace while dividing the family heirlooms” BloombergBusinessweek
    “practical suggestions for sorting through a lifetime of items…” The Washington Times
    “…about memories, feelings and people…” Chicago Tribune
    “tips on preserving relations and memories while sorting clutter...” The Salt Lake Tribune
    "lessons from two who have 'been there, done that'..."Your Organizing Business
    “…a useful resource...” Senior Living Institute
    “…help is on the way…” Illinois Public Media
    …the only book mentioned in the Comprehensive Checklist for Downsizing a Home Organize and Downsize

  • On Our Bookshelf

    Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home by Linda Hetzer and Janet Hulstrand
    Buried in Treasures by David F. Tolin, Randy O. Frost, and Gail Steketee
    Caring for Your Family Treasures by Jane S. Long and Richard W. Long
    Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern
    Organizing Plain and Simple by Donna Smallin
    Sell, Keep, or Toss? How to Downsize a Home... by Harry L. Rinker
    Who Gets Grandma's Yellow Pie Plate? by Marlene S. Strum

  • Our Favorite Blogs

Sentimental Journey

Why do we hold onto so many of the things that we do? Is it because we’re sentimental? J.D. Salinger had one of his characters, Seymour Glass, define sentimentality as giving “to a thing more tenderness than God gives to it.” Perhaps we ‘keepers’ need to become less tender and more tough with our things.

In their fascinating new book Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things, Randy O. Frost and Gail Skeketee, say that one of the reasons we keep objects is that they preserve our personal history. Someone called these objects the ‘footprints of your soul’. (I love that phrase; does anyone know who said that?)

The Frost and Skeketee book is a comprehensive look at hoarding, including scientific studies of the behavior as well as personal stories. I found the case studies to be compelling, if a bit heartbreaking, and many of the reasons for hoarding to be enlightening – a real eye-opener for me. This book spoke to the ‘keeper’ in me and made me aware of some of the reasons why I keep things.

On the other end of the keeper-thrower spectrum is actor Harvey Fierstein, a ‘thrower’ who says he had no interest in keeping the memorabilia from his career: posters, flyers, scripts, photographs, and videotapes when he renovated his house. (Fortunately for theater lovers, he made a call before he tossed everything and the collection is now at Yale.) Fierstein credits a saying from a 12-step program for giving him good advice: Look back, but don’t stare. He feels you can’t live in yesterday.

Frost and Skeketee remind us that each possession holds a story and often just telling that story loosens the connection to the object and allows us to let it go. Perhaps Fierstein has told his story so often that he no longer needs the objects. For most of us ‘keepers’ the stories are ongoing.

What stories would you like to tell about your possessions?



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