Finding Yourself When You Clean Out

Storage Room Clean Out

With two of my three boys off away at college, I promised myself that I would do some cleaning out.  So, over the weekend I began in our storage room in the lower level of our home. We have steel shelves lining two of the four walls of this relatively large room, with plastic storage totes stacked on them in an array of colors, some labeled and many not. I cannot say there ever has been any order to this room, other than some of the totes have fall decorations, some Christmas and holiday decorations, and some springtime home decor.  Usually, by the time a holiday season has passed, I am in a rush to take things down and store them away, so inside the totes is a mis-mosh of objects. Still, most of the decor pieces end up in totes with similar seasonal pieces. So, it’s not THAT bad.

But, within this same room are also boxes that have not been opened in at least twenty years! It is these boxes which I felt the need to get into and clean out first, and then progress to  organizing the totes of decorations.

By opening only a couple of boxes, I opened a multitude of wonderful memories!  I took out carefully wrapped depression glass tea cups and saucers given to me by my mom from her own humongous collection. There was an Avon Easter Egg from the days I sold Avon products as a teenager. I remember it had a candle in it and then was used to hold trinkets or jewelry.  There was my Hobby Holly Doll that my mom had embroidered, one for each me and my sister. We were allowed to take these to church because they had no noisy parts. There was a ceramic duck that I made using chalks and embellished with paint stamping during a post-college evening ceramics class with my mom and her friend.  The duck is really quite ugly, despite exhibiting a fairly decent painting technique. And, then, there was my collection of nurse dolls! Five dolls of various size and quality, all of which were presents during my early days of being a nurse. Those have brought both disgust and hysterical laughter from my husband when he saw them sitting on a table where I was working. He said he’s never seen them. I begged to differ. But, I might be wrong. There’s a chance they might have been packed away since I moved to Buffalo to be with him after our engagement in 1986.


Another box revealed our high school diplomas, our college diplomas (undergraduate school only), a couple of early scrapbooks, many old photographs including our senior pictures from high school, and class pictures from elementary school.  Also, nicely tucked into the box was my old nurses cap from student nursing (Yes, I am of an age when we did have to wear caps and had capping ceremonies.) It has yellowed and is quite misshapen now, but it brought back a flood of memories, including traipsing across our rural campus in full uniform at 4:30 in the morning to have breakfast at the dining hall before catching the bus to our first clinical as sophomore nursing students. Those were the days!


I kept running up and down the stairs in our house to show my 17-year-old signs from his parent’s past. I was having a grand time! He was less impressed and never has seemed more involved in completing his homework during those two hours than he ever has before!

But, what was most interesting to me, was that there were objects in those boxes from my younger self that could have foreshadowed who I was to become, and now the person I identify with being.  There were signs of:

An artist

At the age of seven, I entered a contest held by our local city newspaper and won an honorable mention to the winner who was four years older at the time. The ceramic duck, as ugly as it is, showed my interest in pursuing art as a hobby, which I currently often do.  I am regularly engaged in artist pursuits and cannot imagine my life without this facet.

A Musician

There is another newspaper clipping of myself with two of my friends from our freshman year in high school presenting our principal with the annual Band Album for the year. It was aptly titled Peace, Love, and Friends.  Although I no longer consider myself a musician, I was one for many of my formative years and still have a great appreciation for many forms of music and those who have musical talent.  Music is an integral part of my life for many reasons.  The photo/article was a sweet reminder of the camaraderie that exists with band students and friends I had not thought of in ages.



An Activist – Author – Advocate

A third clipping was an editorial I had published as the secretary of my 5th grade class about drunk driving laws! Really?! I do not even remember doing this, but my name is there in black and white! Surely, this was a sign of several things: my love for writing, my strong sense of justice, and the need to advocate for causes that I deem important! These are all things I still do today; and to think I might have started on this path in 5th grade, blows my mind!

An Entrepreneur

The Avon egg was a reminder that I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I remember begging my mom to let me “sell” Avon products. I was never great at it but did have some loyal customers. I loved putting the order in and sorting it out when it came before I delivered it to my “customers” (who were mainly friends, family, and neighbors). Still, it makes me wonder if that’s why I like my beading/jewelry hobby. I still get to place orders, make and deliver items to customers, and keep track of it all.


In any case, opening the old boxes took me on a wild ride down memory lane. I laughed a lot! Now comes the hard part, I have to decide what to keep and what to throw out. In any case, no matter what I decide, I’ll have the memories forever!







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