Memory Box


16″ x 11.5″ x 8″ of happiness

What does a minimalist put in her memory box? Only items that make me happy to look at and handle.


The box unpacked

Starting at the left bottom and spiraling in clockwise: photo of my dad running in the Senior Olympics the day before he started his radiation treatments, a day book of meaningful quotes I have collected and decorated, a few copies of my book, a few copies of a literary magazine that published some of my poetry, photos that are too big to fit in the photo box, a laminated copy of a newspaper article on hospice care that featured yours truly, the stocking my mom knit for me, a box of photos, greeting cards-both handmade and purchased, and poetry contest award.

Each of these objects represents a happy memory, or uplifts me in someway to review it.

Objects that are not in my memory box: photos of my weddings, a snapshot of my brother being mean to me, a copy of Jonathan Franzen’s memoir that he had the publisher send to me.

It took me a little time to unpack the emotions of the things that I let go. There was such hope at the beginning of the marriages, and love. But the dark and twisty thing that those became does not need a memorial. I have happier photos of my brother and me and no longer need to keep the evidence of his abuse. The pride in having had a friend who went on to be an acclaimed writer, was undone by his lack of courage in explaining to me why he ended our friendship. His explanation is in the book, which he had sent to me twenty years after the fact.

I have said before that I will never be the family historian. It just isn’t something that interests me.  That frees me to keep only the objects that make me happy. Learning to live lightly and freely, that interests me very much.


11 thoughts on “Memory Box

    • Fawn says:

      Thanks. It is a favorite of mine too. I’m thinking that my new place has a nice wall to display some of these photos. I may get around to that soon.


    • Fawn says:

      It is a big task. When in doubt, save it. You can always part with it later. As I mentioned, it took me awhile (several years) to tease out all the feelings I had about Franzen’s book, to know it was time to let it go. And check in with other people who might have an interest: family, friends, groups affiliated with the object or photo.


  1. Angela says:

    Oh Fawn. Thank you for showing us what’s inside your memory box! I too, have one memory box. It has a few photographs, a small bundle of special cards and letters tied with a ribbon, a lock of my daughter’s baby hair, and a few very small miscellaneous items. I did not know you you have written a book. I will check that out. I have followed your blog for some time now and I wanted to tell you I have gleaned a lot of wisdom and inspiration from who you are and how you live your life. I hope you know how special you are!


    • Fawn says:

      Thank you for those very kind words. I think I am pretty ordinary, but living as close to my authentic self as I can figure out how to get. I think it gives me a bit of clarity. It sounds as if you know what belongs in your memory box. That is a kind of clarity too.


  2. Béatrice says:

    Thank you so much for sharing such personnal things with us. This is very inspiring and helpful. It comes very naturally to me to be a minimalist in most areas of my life except for memories and documents (both online and in prints). If you would ever feel inspired to organize/lead a course with daily assignements for documents decluttering or memory box building I would take it right away. I would totally be ready to pay for it. I don’t know if anybody else from your readers would be interested….I would dream of sharing the struggles and challenges of the process with a little group of people. Maybe you would be interested to launch a pilot course on the blog with daily assignements?…. or am I the only one who struggles with that type of clutter?
    Kitchen tools, make-up, clothes, all of that is easypeasy for me but books, articles, memorablia, these are just hard! Because they feel like part of me, my past self or my fantasy future self.


    • Fawn says:

      What an interesting idea! No, you are not the only one who struggles with this type of clutter. I had a full four drawer filing cabinet in my younger years. But I find the Konmarie method too extreme (Chuck it all out!?!) Let’s see if anyone else expresses interest and then I can put something together.


      • Béatrice says:

        Thank you for considering this. Yes, let’s see if there are others interested. I assume that different people have different struggles, depending on which stage of life they are in what challenges they face. I just hope that many people read this comment. I was a bit slow to comment…


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