Memory-Keeper Artifacts

by Apr 1, 20220 comments

Post updated May 8, 2022 to add link to free new workbook

On Treasures that Prompt Memories

Capture the Stories to Break the Hold of Things

Keep the Stories is about capturing your memories, deciding what stories you want to tell and how you want to tell them.

Often we associate our stuff with the memories that they trigger with the inevitable result that we attach strong emotion to items that that otherwise would likely have little meaning. I call these things memory-keeper artifacts because they are act as holders of our memories.


An object made or shaped by human hands, typically one of cultural or historical interest. 


 A keepsake; an object kept as a reminder of a place or event.

I suppose that a more accurate term would be memory-keeper mementos since sometimes we keep natural tokens – like a seashell found on a special beach – but I prefer ‘artifact’ because:
a) MOST things that we keep for sentimental reasons are human made or human shaped and
b) I prefer to see these tokens as having cultural or historical interest, at least on a personal level. The reason they are so hard to let go seems to require a stronger nomenclature than ‘keepsake’.

Things Are Not Memories

It is undeniable that things bring up memories of people, places and times that are part of our personal histories.  However, it is worth remembering that the things themselves are not the memories – AND they can not share the stories that they hold. That part is up to you.

Why You Should Capture Your Stories

Your memory-keeper artifacts probably contain many details that are important only to you.  Of course, in some cases, they will hold memories for others with whom you have shared experiences.  Even with a shared experience, you will typically have your own view and unique perspective.  If you do have items with shared memories and have the opportunity to connect with other people, ask them about their memories of specific details.  That can often help you build an even better story – or recall things you had forgotten.

Recording the details of the stories held in your memory-keeper artifacts:

  • Provides an essential step towards letting go of things that no longer serve you by helping you conquer the fear of losing associated memories.
  • Helps you break emotional attachments by recognizing that things are not memories.
  • Frees you to release the stuff, and pass it on to a new chapter, hopefully, one where it will be used and appreciated.  And, with the details you’ve captured, you might even decide to share the story that goes with the object when you pass it along to a ne home.
  • Prepares you to elaborate and tell your stories in a way that that resonates, whether you chose to keep it to yourself ,or share with your friends and family, or even by publishing it for a wider audience.  For some ideas on how to tell the story, see 75 Ways to Share Your Stories.
  • Reminds and encourages you to simplify your life by making intentional choices about what you want – and don’t want – in your home and your life.
Memory Maker Artifacts: hy you should capture the stories of your stuff

Start Today

Do you have things that you keep around because you are afraid of losing associated memories?

Maybe it is time to start to change that.  Look around and see if there are items that,  in all honesty, you would probably give away or throw away if not for that connection.

Here’s a process that might help you decide whether to keep the object or let it go: Is There a Story Here?

What stories are your memory-keep artifacts holding for you?  It is time to get them recorded! 

And please leave a comment to share your story or any suggestions for capturing the memories.

Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

Educator, Artist, Storyteller


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