Not all physical belongings are the same. Some, such as plastic boxes, require little to no maintenance, remaining largely unchanged for months or years. In contrast, others are a bit more “needy.” In fact, there are many items that require time, money, energy, special storage, enhanced maintenance, and other forms of extra attention. Typically, we either fail to consider or largely underestimate the amount of care that a possession might actually require. We can easily envision the benefits of ownership, but rarely accurately assess the costs. In the long run, “needy” belongings have the potential to leave us feeling overwhelmed.
What kinds of things fit this definition? Quite a few! There are at least six categories of items that demand greater than average time and attention.
Plants, pets and other living things require ongoing attention—everything from feeding to pruning to trips to the veterinarian.
Pieces that need to be repaired are unfinished projects that weigh on our minds. They will require funds, expertise, energy and/or time to be restored and enjoyed.
Pieces that are large, such as a giant teddy bear, a surfboard, a car carrier, a drum set, and hand-me-down furniture can be a challenge to accommodate. Often, we don’t realize the measure of the storage challenge until we see them in our space. If you’ve ever cut down your own Christmas tree, you know that most things loom larger in a home than they do in the “grand scale” environment like a mountainside, showroom, or warehouse.
Items of high value, such as jewelry and electronics, should be securely stored and properly insured. Options include lockboxes, offsite safety deposit boxes, and out-of-sight storage. Additionally, valuable items should be separately insured, as many of these pieces are not sufficiently covered by traditional homeowner’s policies.
Pieces we hope will increase in value over time, like artwork, collections, antiques, furs, wine, books, designer clothing, and classic cars warrant specific and protected storage. Always consider the ideal temperature and light conditions recommended by experts and be careful to use storage containers that are made of suggested materials. Like valuables, they should be properly insured.
HIGH CARE ITEMS
Some belongings require frequent care and maintenance. Pools need to be cleaned, copper and silver need to be polished, delicate garments need to be dry cleaned, etc. When it comes to these pieces, the question is a simple one of cost vs. benefit. Be sure the payoff warrants the upkeep.
Of course, the mere fact that an object requires enhanced care doesn’t mean we shouldn’t own it, only that we should only do so mindfully.
BEFORE acquiring an object, carefully think through the ramifications to ensure that you are willing to do whatever might be needed.
Once an object is ALREADY IN YOUR POSSESSION, give yourself permission to assess whether or not you honestly want to keep the object and all it requires.
Admittedly, there may be some objects we cannot simply toss, as much as we might want to. For example, if we have inherited boxes of paperwork from a deceased relative, we can’t just throw them unopened into the recycle bin. The boxes must be reviewed, one page at a time, because there may be something important inside.
However, for many “needy” items, it is perfectly appropriate to ask ourselves (and honestly answer!) a series of questions to help us decide if it is time to go, such as:
-> Do I have the time needed to care for this?
-> Do I have the desire to care for this?
-> Do I have the funds needed to properly store this?
-> Do I have the knowledge I need to repair this item and keep it in working order?
-> Does having this item feel like a burden I no longer wish to carry?
We should never feel guilty about letting go.
- We own possessions, not the other way around.
- We are not responsible for maintaining an archive of our lives.
- We should not feel pressure to hold onto family pieces that we do not like or use.
- We are entitled to have changing interests and adjust our belongings accordingly.
- We have a right to set priorities and keep what matters most.
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Do you have any “needy” objects in your space? Are there any you would rather not own?