Why Keep The Stories?

by Aug 2, 20213 comments

Keep the Stories: Lose the Stuff

Cheshire cat statue

I started Keep the Stories to share resources and ideas about how to let go of things that no longer serve by capturing the associated stories that people don’t want to lose.

Keep the Stories offers a 4 part challenge

  1. Identify / find / uncover/ rediscover / remember the story that you want to tell
  2. Capture the story in whatever way works best for you.  You might choose to write, scrap, photograph, dance, sing, record, make a quilt, paint a picture or another form of expression
  3. Decide what you want to do with the object that no longer is consistent with who you want to be and release it to its next chapter
  4. Minimize / Simplify / Declutter by letting go of things that no longer are consistent with what you want to be or do, or by  keeping the objects in your life with a new purposes

I have materials and exercises to support through all stages of this challenge, sometimes concurrently and other times with a focused approach on one step, depending on your current priorities and environment.  This blog is a place for sharing resources and, eventually hopefully building an active community.


Some Background

I have been on a quest for greater simplicity in my life for some years.   I rarely shop, definitely don’t buy new but still, I had accumulated things from various moves and stages of life, from combining homes, from kids moving out and leaving stuff stored, things from my parents’ home and various other collections.

I used to have a hard time letting go of stuff for emotional reasons or because it was too good to throw out or might come in handy or could be used someday or I was holding it for someone else or might want it.  there are times when I still have to fight that tendency.  However, I knew that I wanted to reduce and make space.

Through research, interviews and informal conversation, I found that one of the most common reasons that people have trouble letting go is the fear of loosing not just the things but the memories and history associated with the objects.  I discovered that there was a lack of resources that addressed both the  minimizing AND the storytelling side of this dilemma and started offering tips and classes.

I have started the blog in the past but put it aside because of other projects and commitments.  Early in 2020, I started to rebuild, updated or archived previous content and added content fairly regularly since.  I have decided to participate in a daily blog writing challenge to kick-start growth to help me support more people.


Related Projects

As a long-time adult educator, my go-to delivery approach is teaching so naturally, I  started this venture with in-person workshops. and still love doing those and will resume them as things continue to open.  I have recently developed a 5-week Keep the Stories, Lose the Stuff online program with weekly challenges and a private support community, planned to launch as a pilot in early September.  I have also been working on curriculum materials and worksheets for self-directed learning, along with a short, on-demand class, a new monthly newsletter (sign up coming soon) and more.

I am passionate about empowering people to find the confidence and tools to tell their stories.  As an educator, I taught people how to capture their personal histories and I remember seeing the relief and satisfaction when they could tell the stories then be able to let go of the things without fearing losing the associated memories.  That is when I realized that I was on to something.  Now I help people eliminate the stress of clutter and untold stories by helping them capture memories and release the stuff to its next chapter.

If you know someone who wants to keep their stories but reduce their stuff, please invite them to visit my community.



Featured Image by tookapic from Pixabay
Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

Educator, Artist, Storyteller


  1. Daryl

    This resonates very strongly with me. I recently ended my marriage. My wedding ring sat in a jewelry box for more than 2 years. I didn’t want to throw it off a bridge or bury it or do anything super dramatic, but it also wasn’t appropriate to wear it. I contacted a couple of jewelers, and come to find out that it would cost more to melt it down and have it repurposed into something else then it would have to buy myself something new. My marriage taught me a lot, and I didn’t want to just throw it away like it had never happened. So, I took it to a local jeweler who suggested that I solder the wedding and engagement rings together, and put it on a chain. I loved the idea. It both acknowledged my past and the stories that it contained, some hopeful and some painful, and it isn’t super creepy. 🙂 I can’t wait to see what the rest of your blog Journey brings you 🙂

    • Mary Elizabeth

      Thanks for sharing your story. That sounds like a difficult transition but I love the solution for something that serves as a reminder of your stories and learning. And absolutely not creepy, which is always a bonus. 🙂 Best of luck in your next chapter.

  2. zitzak


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