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Weekend: When to Keep and When to Discard

weekend (1 of 1)

Because I wrote about living simply and with fewer things, it’s only fitting that I look at the other side of the equation. Why and what defines what we keep? In Dante’s Inferno, the fourth circle of hell is reserved for “the hoarders and the wasters.” The hoarders spend their lives acquiring wealth and material possessions—represented as giant boulders—and are forever doomed to push the crushing weight of the rocks against the opposing force of wasters. So true. The material things we bring into our lives are a burden; they have to be cared for, cleaned, repaired, ect. Yet there are some things that despite maintenance, I keep and won’t give up. Why?

When I asked myself this question, my blog came to mind. Sometimes I think what I do is silly, maybe even a little narcissistic. “What do you do?” someone will ask. “I blog.” Cringe. Even though Madalynne is not a material possession, it is something I’ve held onto for 6 years and I won’t let go. There have been more times than I can count on my hand when I woke up at 3:30 a.m. to work on a project or a blog post. Yet I never have looked at it as a burden. Never. That’s because it’s part of me. By sharing and connecting with like-minded people, I have become better at my craft. Hell, I even got my current job because of it. Just like a child, I would never consider giving it up. Not after a long night, month, or year. You give life to a child life and I did the same to Madalynne.

When it comes to material possessions, the things I keep are also a part of me. In the middle of my apartment is a bookshelf. It’s actually more a display cabinet. In addition to books by Twyla Tharp, Claire Scaeffer, Richard NicholsJD Salinger, and Malcolm Gladwell, I also have artwork by Janet Hill and Cailtin McCormick and pictures of my mom and my family. An old Martha Pullen Pleater and vintage Barbie (more on that new acquisition next week) are house together in this one piece of furniture. The pieces are all so different, but together, represent me. Girly, reflective, intuitive, and car and sewing obsessed, it’s a culmination of everything Maddie. I just can’t let go of any of it because that would throw off the whole equation.

When it comes to clothes, again, the same applies. If it’s my style, then I keep it. And for me, that’s easy to figure out. If I haven’t worn it in 6 months or for more than one season, I trash it.  Also, if I never end up liking the way I look when wearing it, it goes in the discard pile.Point blank.

So, that’s the line I’m defining between trashing and keeping. We come into the world with nothing and we leave with nothing, but in order to depart fulfilled, you have to fill the in between with the meaningful and the worthwhile. Friends, family, experiences, and possessions all included.

Oh, and that project that involves that polka dot brocade… this masochistic sewer decided to bedazzle it with round, navette and pear rhinestones. Stay tuned!



  1. Reply

    Amanda Russell

    Well said 🙂 Carefully chosen, meaningful possessions have the ability to enrich our surroundings, inspire us, and improve our emotional health. They are not in of themselves what make us happy, but they remind us of the things that do 🙂

    I absolutely love your choice to add those gorgeous rhinestones to your wonderful fabric – masochist you may be, but I am living vicariously through you and unapologetically envying your sparkles! ^__^

  2. Reply

    Meg the Grand

    I think this is beautifully written. I’m trying to figure out my style, and MM2014 is helping A LOT. I’m tossing many RTW pieces that I’ve been holding onto for years, and realizing that they aren’t right for me or how I want to style myself on a daily basis. I’m having a clothing swap on March 23 to address the huge piles that have built up in my front room. This has given my closet breathing room to cultivate its identity, an adventure that I am rather excited about 🙂
    XOXO – can’t wait to see the polka dot brocade!

  3. Reply


    Yes, well said a carefully curated life makes things so much more pleasant!

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