Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

This summer, I have two family reunions to go to. I know that for many people, a family reunion is an obligation much more akin to a root canal than a party. I’m rather looking forward to them, but one of the reasons is an idea I have for capturing stories.

I’m thinking of setting up a video camera and several “cue cards” in a corner of the hall, and inviting guests to come share their stories. The cue cards would ask them to introduce themselves, name their parents, spouse and children. Then, several prompts would be listed like, “Please share a story from your childhood,” or “Tell us about your first job” or “How did you meet your spouse?” They could choose one or two, record themselves sharing, and then I hope to compile the video to share with the family.

What do you think? Do you think something like that would go over well at a family reunion?

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A collection of medals and awards from high school.

I was a star student. I’m sure people hated me for it, but I have always been me and I don’t apologize for that. I remember with both pride and embarrassment the number of school assemblies during which I was called down to the floor to accept some kind of medal or award.

What I’m struggling with now is what to do with them!


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I’m so crazily excited over my newest weapon in my war on clutter – this time digital clutter – it is almost embarrassing. I love to take photos – they tell stories in such a rich way. One of the nastiest things about digital photography is how easy it is to amass hundreds of photos, dump them onto your hard drive, and never name them, or sort them.

Most folks will tell you how super-important metadata is when organizing your photos. I’ve been slogging along with the software that came with my camera. While great in some respects, tagging photos with metadata was horribly slow and tedious. My photos were left tagless. Poor photos.

No more. Enter Picasa. Yes, I know, I’m a noob.


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Sometimes decluttering is as simple as getting rid of obsolete items. Yesterday, I took a box of VHS tapes to the secondhand store, along with another box of clothes that didn’t fit right and items I didn’t use.

That’s the easy part. The hard part is getting rid of the things you’re attached to for some reason. For me, this tends to fall into three categories:

1) stuff I think I can use for something someday, whether a craft project, or some other good use.
2) stuff I just hate to see end up in a landfill, in spite of the fact that they are broken and unusable for their intended purpose
3) stuff I have some kind of emotional attachment to, but don’t really like, use, and/or honor.

This blog is mostly about the last type, but sometimes I think I’ll end up venting here about all of them.

What are your decluttering stumbling blocks?

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Start something for you!

Falls Park

Falls Park, Sioux Falls, SD, at night

I really need to be writing this blog like I need an extra 100-pound weight tied to my shoulders while I swim away from the edge of a waterfall. I’m plenty busy as it is being a full-time employee, a mom to a two-year-old and a half-time graduate student. But yet, I feel like I need this blog. Why?

Because Stories, Not Stuff to me is about more than getting rid of stuff. It is about a passion for life, and in particular for life’s stories. For the “stuff” that memories are made of. It is too easy to get caught up in the in the mundane, in the negative, and in the “stuff” that drags you down.

Today, I received a link to a post in Marc & Angel Hack Life. In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, they’ve written a post about 30 things to start doing for yourself.  A few examples:

  • Start spending time with the right people.
  • Start enjoying the things you already have.
  • Start creating your own happiness.
  • Start listening to your own inner voice.
  • Start noticing the beauty of small moments.
  • Start being more open about how you feel.
  • Start actively nurturing your most important relationships.
  • Start concentrating on the things you can control.
  • Start noticing how wealthy you are right now.

So here I am, listening to my inner voice by creating a blog I probably don’t have time for…so I’m making time. And the point of my blog? Enjoying what I have, creating memories by spending time with the right people, noticing beauty in the small moments, and nurturing my love of photography in the process.

What are you starting… for yourself?

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For years now, I’ve been looking at random items in my home. A bookmark here. A figurine there. A silver box on the shelf…and so many more. These are items that I’m attached to, that I can’t seem to part with.

The most frustrating part: I don’t use them. In some cases, I don’t even like them. But yet, they maintain a place in my home. Unused, and only moderately loved.

Because it isn’t the item that is loved, so much as the item’s story. The memory it invokes every time I catch sight of it in the drawer, or run across it during a closet clean-out.

I’m resolving to clear them out. To take their photographs, one at a time, and to tell their stories. Then, to find them new homes where they can be used, loved and honored in the way they were meant. Otherwise, they deserve to find lasting peace in the trash bin instead of their nomadic existence moving around my home.

But this is more than cleaning out my house, though I’m certainly motivated by a desire for a cleaner home. It is about creating a life of memories, of stories, not one cluttered with things. My daughter deserves to know that her mommy loves her, not by the objects I give her, but by the memories I create with her.

And I deserve it, too.

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