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What do YOU value the most?

I’ve had a pretty busy summer so far and it’s been one of my best ones yet. As a result, I haven’t taken much time to keep up with blog posts but I know it’s important for me to continually keep you in the loop with regards to my thoughts on decluttering and living simply. Let’s begin with the Fort McMurray Fire, also know as the Horse River Fire.

After evacuees left Fort McMurray from the raging fires, it was evident there was going to be a lot of families affected by the loss of their home and possessions. Many lost everything and it was so tragic to watch the events unfold, especially because Fort McMurray is pretty close to where I live in Edmonton, Alberta, so this was felt province-wide and worldwide, really. Now that residents had been displaced for some time, I started wondering what they missed the most. What did they really care about? What lost items truly, legitimately affected them the most? I was watching the news one day and the newscaster was asking people that exact question. “What are the most valued possessions that you’ve lost in the fire?” What you value most varied person to person but the majority of their responses blew my mind. Photographs – makes sense. And jewelry! A lot of the jewelry that was taken by the flames were family heirlooms that had been passed down for generations. Everything lost was related to family memories. Nobody said they missed all the stuff in their junk drawer or missed that old sweater that’s been hanging in the basement for years because it no longer fits. It was memories.

How does this story affect you, you may wonder? I believe that in these times, it’s a good opportunity to re-evaluate what all your possessions are and what they really mean to you – whether directly affected by this fire or not. It’s a good opportunity to look deep inside and find things that are no longer necessary for you but can be valuable for someone else (such as victims of fires who need to rebuild homes, lives and memories). And while this may sound contradictory, to say that the most valuable things were photos and jewelry, but that you should consider donating stuff, people still appreciate gesture. This isn’t to say you should get rid of absolutely everything except jewelry and photos but I hope to help you understand that in the end, “things” don’t really matter that much in our lives. We own some useful items and some not-so-useful items so we just need to look deep inside and re-evaluate sometimes.

This is also a good time to discuss photo preservation and storage. What I would recommend is people get their old photos scanned and stored online such as within Google Drive or Dropbox for example.  For jewelry, I would recommend keeping your most important pieces in a fire-proof safe along with your passport and other things that are mega-valuable to you. Alternatively, there are also safety deposit boxes that are off-site from your property. Something like this SentrySafe. It doesn’t have to be huge if it’s just for jewelry, unless you have a lot in which case, you can look at something bigger such as this Best Choice Safe or this larger SentrySafe box.

I just wanted to write this post to show people that possessions do not define YOU. You are your memories and experiences! It’s ok to own stuff but it’s important to be mindful of what those things are, how they make you feel, and what matters to you most in the end.

Please note: I’m still on summer vacation for a bit but I will be back in full swing July 18th! More blog posts will come later but for now, please take time to enjoy the simple things in life, take it easy and think about what you value most.

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