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Packing Up: More Than Just Boxes (Thinking Out Loud)

 

I’m not really sure how to write this post. But I know it’s one I want to write. 

 

I began my process of packing – for my recent move  well over two months ago. I knew I wanted to start early because I wanted to do a thorough round of organizing and purging before the boxes actually came out.  I wanted to take a really serious look at what I was holding onto and get rid of the things I no longer needed. I really wanted this move to be a fresh start.

Just as I was beginning this task of organizing, I was also beginning to read, “the life-changing magic of tidying up” by Marie Kondo – a gift from Dan in anticipation of what he knew I would be getting into.

Kondo’s book helped significantly through this phase of going through old papers, books, schoolwork etc. Her words “does this spark joy?” echoed in my head each time I contemplated whether or not to keep an item. It really does help! By dictating whether that thing you’ve been holding onto actually gives you that little niggly warm feeling in your gut, it becomes remarkably clear as to whether you need something in your life or not. 

“To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.” 

A lot of items I pulled out came as no surprise, as I had already put them into my pre-planned discard pile. Some items however, did surprise me.  Items… which saturated my previous seven years. 

 

Folders and folders of magazine clippings

 

Recipe after recipe taken from “health” magazines…

Packing up more than just boxed Eating Disorder Recovery

Seven day meal plans…

Packing up more than just boxed Eating Disorder Recovery

Low calorie this… low calorie that…

Packing up more than just boxed Eating Disorder Recovery

Basically any article that boasted a sense of regiment or new discipline for how to be… “better.” 

Packing up more than just boxed Eating Disorder Recovery

All ripped out of the various subscriptions I belonged to and saved. Page after page after page. 

 

My shelf full of “anxiety books.”

 

Packing up more than just boxed Eating Disorder Recovery

Years worth of notebooks I carried with me everywhere I went. Like my own personal bibles. There for me to write down anything that was on my mind. A good idea, in theory….

But page after page after page of

Grocery lists

Meal plans

Weight lifting splits

“Things to make” lists

Restart after restart of “Time to reset! No more….” followed by lists of foods I was allowed to eat and things that were… now… in oblivion

 

My journals

 

Packing up more than just boxed Eating Disorder Recovery

All my beautiful journals. Filled with so many pages of dark, dark moments of desperation and hopelessness, anger and abuse. 

Packing up more than just boxed Eating Disorder Recovery

 

All my diaries, print outs, and food logs I had written during my six months in the eating disorder inpatient program. 

 

Packing up more than just boxed Eating Disorder Recovery

Each and every single one. 

And, most sentimental..

My box of cards. 

 

Packing up more than just boxed Eating Disorder Recovery

My box of cards, which began as a place to put the mail I received during my time in the hospital, and then continued on to be the place of keeping all cards with sentimental value.

Marie Kondo writes:

“By handling each sentimental item and deciding what to discard, you process your past.”

I had kept all of these books, these magazine clippings, these journals all through the past seven years. I had taken them with me through each and every move I made. They got their own moving boxes, amidst an already abundant pile. They took up their own shelves amidst already overcrowded living quarters. They were always just non-negotiables. They were a part of me and there was no element within myself that even considered getting rid of them. 

It’s like resetting your life and settling your accounts so that you can take the next step forward.”

But this time, something was different. 

I threw out the food logs. 

I threw out all the magazine recipes and clippings. 

I threw out the anxiety books. 

Something in me knew that this time, I no longer needed these things in my life. Looking through all those pages, I didn’t want to be reminded of that dark place my brain once was. 

But that’s not to say I said goodbye with spite. 

I thanked them. I thanked them for all that they did for me. 

Because in their time, they served a very important purpose. They were giving me what I thought I needed. They provided me with a sense of safety. The only kind of safety I knew. And for that, I need to thank them for being there for me, and helping me the only way I knew how to be helped. 

“You’ll be surprised at how many of the things you possess have already fulfilled their role. By acknowledging their contribution and letting them go with gratitude, you will be able to truly put the things you own, and your life, in order. 

Let them go, with gratitude.” 

But.

I kept the journals. 

And I kept the cards.

Packing up more than just boxed Eating Disorder Recovery

As I began to rummage through my box of cards, I came across the letters my uncle began writing me, each week, once I’d entered the hospital. Then I began slowly opening the cards I received in the mail from friends and family, telling me they were thinking of me; praying for me; wishing I would find even a moment of happiness in my day. And then I had to stop. 

Packing up more than just boxed Eating Disorder Recovery

I can’t go through these cards. 

I tried…

I tried to go through them, like everything else, to discard the ones I wanted to keep and purge what I did not.

But I couldn’t. The tears quickly became too much. 

The feelings that come up – of this time, and who I was – are just too hard. And this may always be the case.  

These cards, and these letters, mean more to me than I could ever know how to express. Even if they bring up the deepest pains. It may forever be too hard to go back and read them, but I simply cannot discard them. 

Packing up more than just boxed Eating Disorder Recovery

 

Recovery has been on my mind a bit more recently. Where I’m at is a topic to think though on another day. But I know I am in a new place. I am not that same person from 3… 5… 7 years ago who held onto these items as if they were a part of her. Because they aren’t a part of me anymore. They are a part of who I was, and what I needed during that very difficult time of my life. So this time as I was packing…I left them behind me. I thanked them, and I let them go. 

Packing up more than just boxes. Saying goodbye to things that were part of my past.… Click To Tweet

Tell me,

Have you ever held onto things that were a part of your past?

Have you ever had difficulty letting things go?

Do you keep cards?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

34 COMMENTS

  1. Gail | 9th Nov 17

    This. This is a beautiful metaphor for life. Messy, heartbreaking, inspiring life where we are given choices at every turn and need a vision to help us stay the course. I too have a pile of journals that hold so much negative emotion and have been thinking of letting them go. They hold who I was and do not spark joy. I have cards and letters from people I love and they mean a lot to me but I also have correspondence from old boyfriends, from friends who I no longer have in my life and this second pile needs to go. It represents seasons that have passed and do not spark joy for me.
    I have all that I need inside me. It’s time for me too to let go of things that aren’t serving me and bringing me joy. Thank you my friend.

    • Cora | 10th Nov 17

      “I have all that I need inside me.” …. This. <3

  2. Jamie@TheMomGene | 9th Nov 17

    I’m a keeper…I save everything because it “might” be sentimental later. I like my totems.

    But recently I started going through the kids’ old clothes and folding each piece and putting it in bags to take donate. It has been hard. Really hard. Because it means we are at the end of our baby journey. Our family is complete (even though I’ve held on to these clothes just because case). It’s hard letting go of the possibility of more kids. But Charlie doesn’t need less of my attention. He needs more. And so do the twins. And so I keep packing.

    • Cora | 10th Nov 17

      Hard – no kidding. End of journeys are very hard to accept. What helps is simply the hope of the next journey being that much better <3

  3. Sarah @ Bucket List Tummy | 9th Nov 17

    Ah, this is just such a powerful post, my friend. You are motivating me to get my hands on this book more. I came across my old box from college recently with notes from old boyfriends, and clippings from my times playing college softball. Some fond memories, some not, but I couldn’t get myself to throw anything away. I always feel like “what if?” Someone took the time to write this to me – same with cards. I think it’s amazing that you were able to rid what you know you don’t need anymore – anxiety books, old meal plans, healthy recipes, etc. That says alot about how far you’ve come and I applaud you! I think we start to figure out when the time is right as we mature..
    Sarah @ Bucket List Tummy recently posted…My Nutrition PhilosophyMy Profile

    • Cora | 10th Nov 17

      I think those items that are simply that sentimental to you don’t need a reason to be kept. You just simply keep them, because their presence means something to you. If there does come a time, you will feel that their presence isn’t needed anymore. But until then I don’t think we need to feel like we need to get rid of them.

  4. Naomi @ Naomi Why: Roots | 9th Nov 17

    How beautiful both that you let go of things that no longer have a place in life and that you were able to be thankful for what they’d done for you. That’s huge–it really is. While clearing out my room this summer before coming to college, I finally let go of many things that I’d been keeping because they felt like part of me. Mostly papers that I realized are not things I want to feel attached to anymore. Tossing them all into the recycling bin removed a weight from my shoulders, one I didn’t know I was carrying. I love that you saved your journals and cards–those are things I’ve saved too.
    Naomi @ Naomi Why: Roots recently posted…another day in the life: bread machines, washi tape, and power napsMy Profile

    • Cora | 10th Nov 17

      Wow. Good for you. I still have a really hard time with papers or anything I put time into. But yes, you do feel a crazy sense of relief and weight lifted when you finally do.

  5. Emily Swanson | 9th Nov 17

    WOW. There is so much significance to throwing away those things that you’ve held onto for so long and moving on; I know what that feels like and it’s tough! I keep many cards too, but I have thrown out a lot of things that remind me of my years of obsession with exercise and my weight and now I pray and hope that I won’t be calorie counting in a few years from now. I can imagine how much emotion you would have looking at those cards, and maybe some day you can show them to others to show them how far you’ve been brought!
    Emily Swanson recently posted…Comment on The Story of Jess: How Learning God’s Love Trumps Eating Disorders by Nicole @ Bento MomentosMy Profile

    • Cora | 15th Nov 17

      Good for you for throwing out those things that remind you of those times. The thing is, the memory will always be with us – and it should, as these were times that shaped us into who we are. BUT we do not need the mementos near by to keep us from moving on into the future.

  6. Heather @ Polyglot Jot | 9th Nov 17

    Love this! I felt this way with a lot when we moved last March too. I hold on to cards from close family and love looking at them for a pick me up. I especially love cards from Daniel.
    So awesome you were able to get rid of those things that we dont need but hang on to for no reason.
    Heather @ Polyglot Jot recently posted…5 Truths of Natural ChildbirthMy Profile

    • Cora | 15th Nov 17

      I have a box specifically for my cards/letters etc. from Dan. Those types of things will never be thrown out <3

  7. danielle | 9th Nov 17

    yay!!!!! honestly i’m so happy for you. i know it may ‘feel’ hard but oh my goodness you’ll be so glad. you are moving into a new phase. i think we remember what we NEED to remember… if that makes any sense. and what we need to remember changes as we love ourselves.
    i got rid of everything that reminded me of my ‘sad’ old self… however i still have some things on my list to get rid of: diet books, old photos (sad face) because honestly they trigger me.
    some things i decided to keep are my old dresses. i’ve gotten rid of so many but then i stopped myself from getting rid of them all. i’m keeping them because i remember growing up and seeing my mother’s old dresses and being so awe struck. her old dresses told me something about her… something i would never have known had she not kept them. so for me, my old dresses (dating back for several years) mean so much more to me than an ED. they are pieces of my past that i want to share with my daughter because despite the tough times, there were some special memories. and gosh darnit they are some gorgeous dresses!

    • Cora | 15th Nov 17

      “we remember what we need to remember”….. yes. 100%. And if something was meant to be, it will come back to you, or you will find a way to bring it back.
      “what we need to remember changes as we love ourselves.” Oh my goodness even more YES. I haven’t thought of it this way but yes yes yes. Thank you.

      Don’t ever get rid of those dresses. Your daughter is going to love meeting them. <3

  8. Susie @ Suzlyfe | 9th Nov 17

    Just so much yes. So many people hate moving, but I love it for just this reason. It is the chance to cleanse. To get closure. That doesn’t mean that it is easy, or even enjoyable, but you will never feel lighter than after that purge.
    So proud of you, and I am glad that you kept those journals.
    Susie @ Suzlyfe recently posted…Have I Run My Last Marathon?My Profile

    • Cora | 15th Nov 17

      I think moving is just a really important excuse for us to finally do things we were meant to do

  9. Kat | 9th Nov 17

    This is so beautiful dear friend.
    When I moved I went through this exact same thing, however for some reason, I tend to hold onto my old food logs, dairies and notes for a completely different reason. I actually keep them for those days when I find myself struggling. I’ll go back and flip through the weathered pages of an old journal and it helps me to realize just how far I’ve really come. It sets me on the right path again – they are like reminders for me, reflections of a past that I’ve overcome and moved away from.
    But I do think that there comes a time to purge all of these things and start fresh. Maybe one day I won’t need them to rely on them as “reminders” anymore.
    Proud of you <3
    Kat recently posted…Banana Crumb MuffinsMy Profile

    • Cora | 15th Nov 17

      I can totally see this side of things as well! I think its totally dependent on the person, the writing, the phase of life etc etc etc. It could have been that way for me, but I went to those readings and were only filled with really hard, tough feelings. No sense of motivation or recognition of how far I’ve come, unfortunately. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with them being reminders… as long as they do something positive for you, they should be kept.

  10. Ellie Pell | 9th Nov 17

    I read that book a few weeks ago as well and I loved her tips about getting rid of things. I threw out a lot of stuff like that a while ago, but I do have that little voice in the back of my head “what if I need that?!” and I usually never do.
    I totally remember all those magazines I used to read in college about “the perfect snack” or whatever and I had no idea what all those messages were doing to my brain. It’s still sometimes hard to see that (on the shelf because I don’t remember the last time I read a magazine) and mourn for my past self. I wish I didn’t feel so self-worthless (is that a phrase?) and actually believed in myself.

    I also hurt for those who continue to be and will be influenced. I wish there was more I could do except not give them my money and practice what I preach about how every body is different and not better than any other.
    Ellie Pell recently posted…Products I’m Enjoying: November 2017My Profile

    • Cora | 15th Nov 17

      Ugh that “what if” voice just never goes away, does it!

      Yes… it is hard to both think of how influenced you once were by those things, and how your self confidence and your belief systems must have been in order to want to read, and believe, all that they were telling you. It’s sad. And it continues to be sad to think of those who are “us” those number of years ago. So we become advocates for self love and change, and hope that they will – one day – become the same.

  11. Joyce @ The Hungry Caterpillar | 9th Nov 17

    I’m with Kat. This is such a beautiful post, Cora.
    I didn’t realize you were in inpatient for six months. Wow. What a hard thing that must have been. And how hard to have all those memories coming back up again.
    Getting rid of those cards sounds like an impossible task.
    Joyce @ The Hungry Caterpillar recently posted…Low-FODMAP Cranberry Citrus Sparkling “Rosé”My Profile

    • Cora | 15th Nov 17

      Yes I don’t think the box of cards will ever be thrown out. I can leave them for my grandkids to decide what to do with them….. aha.

      Yes, it was a big part of my life. 6 months. Hard to believe.

  12. Ellen @ My Uncommon Everyday | 11th Nov 17

    Aw I love this and I’m so proud of you! I’ve gotten better at throwing things away over the years, but I’m not perfect. Another thing I struggle with is deleting everything from emails to old (terrible) stories I’ve written. I think I’m in for a big life purge when I get home. Gotta get my act together before I move into my own place!
    Ellen @ My Uncommon Everyday recently posted…Day in the Life: Study Abroad EditionMy Profile

    • Cora | 15th Nov 17

      Moving is a good motivator :). But don’t rush yourself, either. I believe things take their leave when the time is right.

  13. Alyssa | 12th Nov 17

    wow- this gave me the chills. i have been there finding old stuff from hard times. it’s such a weird feeling because it brings you back to that moment. i have thrown away old notes, journals, etc. from those harder times too. old food logs, old meal plans.. deleted old book marks of diets and healthy eating sites. i am proud of you for letting this stuff go. i love to see your journey unfold cora, you are one strong gal.
    Alyssa recently posted…Highlights from This WeekMy Profile

    • Cora | 16th Nov 17

      I am proud of you too, Lyss. I think its important we decipher which of these things from our past are still serving us – if they, even just the memory they bring up, bring us joy in any way – and those that are just holding us back.

  14. chasetheredgrape | 12th Nov 17

    That’s my girl. These things are such a mental and physical weight on our lives. Thanking and letting go means finally leaving the past in the past and living in the present. And in time you will be able to look at those cards and journals… But one step at a time.
    I am actually reading this book right now. A lot of the principals I simply do anyway, it’s just a part of who I am as an organiser and someone who defintely lives the less is more life. But I am still addicted to the book, and it’s some of the little things like paperwork that has me completely believing that another mini clear out is due!

    • Cora | 16th Nov 17

      I was the same. A lot of the things she talks about I had already been doing, or close to. But something about the book just lures you in…

  15. Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets | 13th Nov 17

    I am so proud of you and your willingness (or Okness) to let go of some of the meaningful things from your past. It really shows just how far you’ve come. Go you.

    I keep a box of cards and other mementos. It’s sweet and also OK to want those items.
    Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets recently posted…Week in Review: Food, Frolicking and Felines (#108)My Profile

    • Cora | 16th Nov 17

      I think its more than okay to keep those mementos that bring you any sense of joy or positive memory – its very important.

  16. Nicole @ Laughing My Abs Off | 13th Nov 17

    Oh Cora, this was such a beautiful post, and thank you so much for being so vulnerable and sharing this. I think it’s so wonderful that you found the strength to throw out all those pieces of your past. I think that takes a tremendous amount of courage, but I’m sure it felt like a complete load off once you did. And I love that you still kept the letters. Because I think those show how loved you are and how strong, which are such valuable reminders.
    Nicole @ Laughing My Abs Off recently posted…WIAW {Disney Music and Self-Care}My Profile

    • Cora | 16th Nov 17

      Thank you so much, Nicole. Even though it’s hard to look back on the cards, I think it is very important to keep them because yes, they remind me how much I am and have been loved.

  17. Kristy from Southern In Law | 13th Nov 17

    Girl, this is such a huge step! I am so proud of you for letting go of the bad of the past – but also for recognising that what you once held as important really isn’t important at all.

    I keep a box of cards too! They’re only really from Jesse and my family – but there are a few where friends have written heartfelt birthday cards or thank you cards that I’ve kept too.
    Kristy from Southern In Law recently posted…Recipe: Easy Harissa Hummus DipMy Profile

    • Cora | 16th Nov 17

      “that what you once held as important really isn’t important at all.”…… huh. Yes. Without even thinking of it this way, I think that is what I learned. Thanks, Kristy.

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