Keep-Donate-Sell Game

When you’re getting ready to put all of your belongings into storage for an undetermined amount of time and then eventually move them across the country, you start questioning what really needs to belong to you. Do I really need to own those cute shoes that I got on sale 4 years ago and probably wore 4 times? What about Brian’s stacks of old Climbing magazines dating back to 2000? How about the mountain of stuffed animals piled up in the playroom? Hmmmm….

Each item in our household is now under scrutiny as we ask ourselves if it’s really worth it to pack it, store it, move it and then unpack it. The answer to this question for most things: it isn’t.  Which kind of begs the question, why did we buy it in the first place? Here are some examples of this decision making process:

This is a mass-produced metal sculpture I purchased at Target to fill the space above our television. I can’t say I had any artistic attachment to this piece or that I really NEEDED to fill the 2×4 foot space above the TV. (I mean, come on. Why can’t it just be a white wall, right?) I vaguely remember being in a “green” decorating phase at that time and this thing has some amount of green in it….I guess. So I bought it, brought it home, popped a nail into the wall and added this to the ambiance of our living room. Mass-Produced-Earthy-Tone-Circle-Sculpture will clearly be a DONATE item because it holds zero value, both fiscally and sentimentally.

This is a dresser that I’ve had since I was 9-years-old. You have no idea how TOTALLY stoked I was when my Grandma Letty bought me a new bedroom set for my birthday (Yes, I was a rather weird child). I’ve toted this bedroom set into 3 apartments and 4 houses over the past 17 years. I can argue that it has sentimental value because a woman I love and respect gave it to me…but does my love and respect for Grandma Letty diminish if I don’t have this dresser anymore? Definitely not! Sorry, Ornate-Dresser-Circa-1985, you are now a SELL item because someone in Chattanooga will get to love you as much as I did. (And I will love Grandma Letty forever even if I don’t have you!)

One last example. This is a fan that I bought on Las Ramblas in Barcelona in 2010. It’s kind of ugly and we’re moving to the mountains when we’re done with this trip, so it’s not like we’re going to be in need of a fan to keep ourselves cool. However, I remember this moment in my life perfectly. It was crazy hot, we’d just gotten off the subway and we were herding 3 young children through a chaotic mass of humanity. One daughter was crying over the scary living statues Las Ramblas is so famous for, the other was in MAJOR need of a diaper change and the third was in LOVE with this fan. “Please, Mommy, please!!” I could say that I wanted to give my daughter a memorable token of her time in Barcelona, but the truth of the matter is I was sweating profusely and had every intention of stealing this fan from her within five minutes of purchasing it. As we were preparing to pay for it, the local policia started walking up, so the unlicensed vendor flung the fan at us in his panic, gathered up his blanket of wares and sprinted off into the crowd. My daughter looked at me and exclaimed “Cool! Free fan!”  Needless to say, the Unnecessary-Yet-Sentimental-Barcelona-Fan shall live in the Carisch family forever!

This gives you a taste of what we’re doing right now. Maybe it’s something to think about doing even if you aren’t going to be storing all of your possessions for an undetermined amount of time and moving them across country. Looking at the things you have and deciding if they are truly worth keeping is turning out to be a cathartic and valuable experience.


About the Author

Tracey Carisch

Mom, wife, friend and change agent traveling the world with my family to learn our place in it. After spending a career in organizational change management and community initiative implementation, I put my career on hold for our family's trip around the world. In April of 2014 we sold almost everything we own, put the rest in a storage container, and departed on this journey. While my husband continued his software development work to financially support our trip, I planned and documented our adventure, homeschooled our three daughters, and found volunteer work opportunities for us to do in the communities we visit. Now that we've returned to the U.S., I'm completing book about our family's adventure and our lessons learned.

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