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Life Souvenirs and Bright Red Socks

This photo was taken a few years ago at my 50th birthday party!

It reminded me of two things, one how hard I had worked to fit into that dress and two for the first time in my life, I actually felt glamorous. The photo was in a box that was full of birthday cards and mementos but down at the bottom under this red gift bag was a stash of plane tickets, menus and all sorts of other crap all with post-its attached. Why on earth, in amongst all this positivity had I kept the biggest pile of negative "souvenirs" that dragged me back to parts of my life I had buried and survived? The post-it note excuses were

“I’ll hang onto this because it will remind me what a b****rd he was”

“I kept this menu and receipt because it shows how much I had to pay in cash and emotions that night"

”Looks like you had a good time! Nice dress but doesn't look like you. Told you before you don't suit girly clothes ... joke!“

The last one was an actual note written on the back of a card that came with a bunch of bright red roses a few days after my party. I had sent the photo to this person and he responded with that so called "joke" and the one flower he knew I didn't like. Why on earth had I held onto that card???? When I looked at the photo and all the other bits and pieces in the bag, they made me smile. The napkin, the sparkly brooch, the Prosecco cork, the jellybeans, the words to the song my brother had written, all positive and affirming messages. But the other stuff covered in my own excuse filled, handwritten post-it’s ... it just made me confused and angry at why on earth had I kept this crap and why was it making me feel so annoyed at my scribbled reasoning?

How often do we make that excuse that the reason we hold onto stuff is as a reminder that we won't make that mistake again? But guess what, we make it over and over and holding onto stubs from plane tickets won't stop you from hurtling down a runway at full tilt ready to take off into another disaster.

I guess the beauty of a good clear out/life laundry is that that one dirty sock you keep missing is eventually found, washed clean or binned. We can so easily hide emotions behind excuses why we keep things, but when they come out of their hiding place our brain and heart divide causing confusion to reign yet again.

So the conclusion to this tale of old photos, dirty socks and train tickets? Like any laundry day, as my Granny taught me, you need to separate things so they don't run in the wash. Make sure that these life souvenirs make you smile, make you feel like you survived and are strong enough to tackle any emotional t shirt found at the bottom of the basket. Hanging onto the past can easily allow a red sock to mix in and although pink can be a very nice colour on, it can stain everything for ever more. Choose what you keep carefully because all those life souvenirs maybe cluttering up room for what really makes you smile and be happy. Thanks to four bin bags and a small bonfire, I now have a brand new life souvenir box, with room for lots of positive new things from precious dried flowers, cinema programmes, opera ticket, gingerbread loaf label (long story) and maze map to name but a few, all safely tucked away for days when they are needed. A good clear out of life is confusing but in the end we come to realise it is very cathartic as it helps re focus and stops the dreaded red sock mucking up the rest of our life.


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