I gave away some of my best friends last weekend and now I regret it. I’ve had a visceral response to this clearing out of ‘things’. Lately there has been purging going on at my house and I’ve heard maybe at yours too.

It’s been over two years since I’ve stopped working as a Landscape Architect. My LA career was over 35 years so you can imagine the amount of ‘stuff’ I gathered.

I will confess to having a BIG passion for books and have collected a significant number that provided information and inspiration. Some books had become dear friends, some had been around since those very early years.

We know change is constant in life and certainly 2020 has shown us that in full force. The time had come to move my friends, my books along – I will admit I had no idea how impactful that would be.

Last Saturday was the big day, dropping off books to Russell Books, a local bookseller who will donate significant funds towards community literacy projects. A very worthy cause indeed.

That evening as I reflected back on the day, my heart was heavy and my mind swirling with regret. I had given away some of my best friends! How could I do that?

So why am I telling you this story? Everyone has ‘things’ in their life that are precious to them. We gather around us things that reflect who we are, where we have been, who we love, what we’ve accomplished – things that help us and inspire us – things we cherish.

I want to encourage you – before giving your memorable things away – take photos of them, maybe sketch them, or write a little story about them. Acknowledge the things you have brought into your life before you say good-bye. Look around now and see the stories that are held in the things that surround you.

You can gather these snippets of stories and images and create a memory book or poster. You can see an example of a poster we created for the Lozeron whose family property of course included family history stories.

This process can be a very therapeutic and I’ve been thinking it would help people who are downsizing from a family home and moving into a new living space. I’d be grateful if you shared this newsletter with someone you know who is about to make a big change in their life.

Cleaning out and purging can be an opportunity to focus on one aspect of your life. Certainly, this shifting of careers has put the emphasis for me on a project I’ve been wanting to do – collecting the images and memories of my landscape architectural journey.

It is an opportunity to reflect back on the difference you have made in the world, something that is hard to do when you are in the thick of the work. Where has your work/career journey taken you? I suspect it’s not been a straight line!

In the spring of 2020, when we first started being told to ‘stay at home, stay at home, stay at home’, I shared an idea for creating a sketch journal about the special things in your home, things that you were looking at every day. You can check out the final look of my journal here. I love this one sketch that shows some more of my best friends.

Do you need help gathering some of your life or career memories together? As a Memory Collector, I can help you create a legacy booklet about the things you have surrounded yourself with, about your family home or about your career journey. You can see examples of projects on the Visual Life Stories website.

Enjoy the process because I know it’s helped me deal with that visceral feeling of regret, and as my daughter said, “you can always go and buy those books back!”

Need help getting started? My free Time Line download will help you organize your stories.

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