Let me shoot it to you straight here – when I was growing up, I literally saved every. single. thing. I saved so much memorabilia that after I graduated high school and moved out of the house, my parents had a “Wynne’s life closet” to keep all my treasures. Well, you know the story. The daughter gets married, the parents move homes, and that life closet is just in transition. You know you are a full-fledged adult one day when your mom drops off about 13 tubs of “your stuff.” Literally, so much stuff, that most of it had been sitting in our storage unit the past few years.
Until quarantine 2020.
One weekend early in the quarantine, I loaded us all up in the truck and we packed tub after tub to bring home and sort through. This has honestly been the PERFECT time for this kind of project. No one is coming over, so I was able to make a mess and leave it out until it was done.
Here was my process to making my life tub:
First, I set up a folding table in the room I knew I’d most be working on this project.
Then I got a big trash bag + a tub for recycling.
I also set up tubs for things to donate, tubs for things to consign, and tubs for things to sell.
Then, I got after it!
I would make little goals, and night after night when the kids were asleep, I would go through and touch every single thing. First, it was big things like decorations, old t-shirts, quilts, hats, etc. These things weren’t that hard to sort.
I sorted by things to donate, things to sell, things to consign (clothes, etc). There were some pretty hilarious things in this pile like my old beeper from high school, one million college t-shirts, old bible studies, autographed JTT pictures, BSB posters…ya know. HAHAHA. I got a good kick out of this part of the process! I was taking pictures and sending them to old friends. This was a good old fashioned walk down memory lane.
The next part of project I focused on was PAPER.
Notes, yearbooks, newspaper articles, sorority stuff, high school stuff, basically all the paper memories I had saved. This part of the process was pretty sentimental. It was fun + hilarious to look back on my beauty pageant days, or Pi Phi sorority days. Seeing old notes from my high school year book, and every program from Camp Mystic was sweet. It honestly did take me back to the memories, but I had in my head something my friend Brynn told me when we started organizing my house fall of 2018. “You can have the memory without the item.” That has stuck with me. So, there were for sure some things I simply took a picture of (and saved it to a folder in my phone) and tossed. But there were special things from each season of life I saved.
This is where the “life tub” comes into play.
Instead of having 13 tubs full of stuff, I now have 1 clear (size) tub of everything I want to save from my life. My tub is from birth to college. I also have an “Elder family” tub, and each of my kids now has their own tub.
So Wynne’s Life tub, what does it look like?
I ordered these tubs from Target
And these dividers too
I had some big manilla envelopes at home, as well as standard white envelopes. (Brynn taught me this.)
Basically when I was going through all my various tubs, I put them into categories:
Birth – elementary school
Junior high/ high school
On my folding table, I had a box for each time frame, and when I came across something I would put it in the coordinating tub. I feel like I need to stop for a moment and remind you that this project took me WEEKS. I didn’t work on it every day, but at the same time some nights, I got on a roll and would organize past midnight. This really required some heart work, friends! There was a stack of letters that I legit put in a ziplock labeled “take these with me to counseling.” So just know going into it, that potentially when you start digging up stuff, old feelings and emotions will come with it.
After sorting everything by time period, then I went back through it and really only kept the things that I personally wanted to keep. I asked myself questions like:
How am I going to feel when I look back on this in 50 years?
What will this tell my kids about my life and my story?
Can I still have the memory without the item?
I wanted everything to be able to fit in the 1 tub, so I was pretty ruthless. I had 1 divider for each major season in my life and within that divider, I had manilla envelopes labeled with the contents. If I had random single photos, I put them in a white envelope and labeled them.
Honestly, it feels like a HUGE feat. But it feels so good to only have the things I want to save and keep forever, all packed in one weatherproof tub.
So you might be thinking, “hey Wynne what did you do with ___” so here we go!
What I did with:
Old t-shirts … I picked about 25 to have made into (yet another) t-shirt quilt. I figured I can have 1 for each of my kids to take with them one day.
Bible studies… I went through and the ones that felt meaningful, or I had a lot of personal notes, I saved. The ones that I never finished, or my notes were all simply on the study, I am going to donate to a missionary friend who doesn’t have much access to Women’s bible studies.
Journals… I kept every single one of them, starting from 1992. I have a clear tub that is on the top of my closet. Everyone I talked to who has lost their mom said they LOVE to go through her old journals. So, I’m keeping em!
Notes… I threw away all my old folded up notes from high school, I went through every card and only kept the ones that were really meaningful or encouraging. I also kept every card my husband has ever written me, sweet handwritten cards from grandparents, letters from my parents + younger sisters while I was at summer camp, and encouraging notes from my oldest friends.
Old CDs… after I tried loading them onto my iTunes on my computer, I chunked them. I didn’t have cases for any of them (they were just in one of those old school CD books).
Let me wrap up with this… I hope this sets the precedent for my own kids, and one day they won’t be going through piles of things they saved over 20+ years. They each have their own tub I’ve already started, and I’ll share more about that in another post!
I hope hope hope this was helpful for you! If you have any more questions, I would love to hear! And I would LOVE to see your life tub!!
Hey, I'm Wynne!
Hi, friend! First, I truly am so giddy that you are here. I want you to know I believe in you and all the ways you are growing towards living a more intentional life. I genuinely hope you are encouraged from our time together here.
A little about me, I’m a type 7 on the enneagram, a total extrovert + people lover, entrepreneur, connector, storyteller, people gatherer, and passionate wife, mama + friend. I feel most alive when I’m exploring new places and surrounded by people I love. Give me a day in the outdoors disconnected from wifi, and I am a happy girl. I run on oat milk lattes, Jesus, gratitude journaling and kitchen dance parties with my four kids.
Welcome, come on in!