,My personal struggle with letting go of a sentimental item.
As a Professional Organizer and a Mental Health Professional I have a healthy relationship with my stuff - my physical belongings, I mean. But recently a rocking chair really threw me for a loop.
Having worked with people who struggle with clutter and generally too much stuff for the last 7 years, I get the reasons why people save things. Items are typically saved because of intrinsic reasons (they're useful), aesthetic reasons (they're pretty) or sentimental reasons (they have attached memories). When we're talking items that have a great deal of sentimental value, that's where people tend to have a hard time.
I'm no different.
This summer I've been working on making some updates to our guest bedroom. I painted the dresser and a cabinet in the room, I purchased a new mirror and got a few new accessories. In the corner of the room between the bed and window sat my childhood rocking chair. It's a child-size rocker, made of wood, painted black and stenciled with a gold fruit bowl at the top of the curved back. It's clearly very vintage 70s from when I was born.
I was given the rocking chair for my first Christmas. I used to enjoy reading my Amelia Bedelia books in it, watching the Saturday night Muppets Show in it, and just rocking my Strawberry Shortcake doll to sleep in it. My mother even tells the story of how my younger brother was jealous of my rocker and would often jump behind it preventing me from rocking and sinking his teeth into the wood to torment me. Yes, his teeth marks are still there.
As Marie Kondo would ask, Does this item bring me joy? Well it did as a child, but it doesn't anymore. It collects dust like nobody's business and it's easily seen against the black paint. Our cat likes to curl up behind it which makes it even dustier because of her dander and it's a pain to clean because of all the spindles. Not to mention the color doesn't match my decor and it's not practical for me to sit in anymore.
I REALLY wanted to get rid of this rocker, but I couldn't for these reasons:
I could paint it and use it another room.
I could give it to my son.
I could see if my brother wanted it (at least it would stay in the family).
My husband thinks it's worth money and should be saved.
It has memories attached to it.
I would feel guilty because my parents gave it to me to mark my first Christmas.
Here's how I combated those thoughts.
I have poor painting skills and my husband hates having to do anything with a brush.
My son already has a rocking chair personalized with his name on it.
My brother's home is furnished with Ikea goods or industrial pieces he's made himself using pipes.
According to Ebay, similar rockers were listed between $50-100, certainly not the amount my husband was expecting. And they weren't selling.
The memories are in my head and not in this wooden chair.
I can't remember a time my parents asked about the chair.
Here's what I did:
Over the course of several weeks, mind you...
Every time I was in the guest room I'd think of a memory associated with the rocking char.
I dug up some pictures of me in the rocker as a child.
I took some pictures of my son in the rocking chair and explained to him the meaning behind the chair.
I brought the chair to the Goodwill and drove away envisioning the rocker having another life with another young girl in pig tails.
So when I'm working with clients and they tell me they're not ready to part with something. I GET IT. Your timeline for parting with items is your own and whenever it occurs will be the right time for YOU.
Here's a shot from my first Christmas when the chair was gifted to me:
Here's a shot of my 7-year-old son in the rocker:
What "rocking chairs" have you struggled with?