To get organized and preserve your memories, create a shrine!

To get organized and preserve your memories, create a shrine!

If you struggle with organizing your mementoes and treasures, there's a perfect and easy solution - create a shrine! Shrines don’t live at either end of the org spectrum meaning you don’t have to either toss all your keepsakes or provide them their own ADU 🙂 Creating a memory shrine will get you organized, reduce your stress and create an accessible space where you can visit your memories easily and at any time!

What is a shrine?

A shrine is a way to preserve mementoes in a distilled version, think of it as a snowglobe: a small magical object capturing an entire experience or set of memories within.

We usually think of a shrine as a sacred space dedicated to a specific, revered entity. By design, most shrines are dedicated to those who are no longer with us and as such can be somewhat somber.

But you can create a shrine of joyful memories! And do so while reducing your excess memorabilia - WIN WIN!

Why do I need a shrine?

You probably have many cherished tokens of important people, places and events. However, most of us have the dual problem of having waaaaay too many of these keepsakes as well as inadequate space to preserve or display them. This creates mental stress and prevents us from actually enjoying these personal gems 🙁

What should I put in my shrine?

* Note: these should be items of sentimental value that aren’t in active use or currently displayed elsewhere.

Example of what would go in a shrine:

  • A piece of child’s artwork from years past
  • Framed photos - smallish
  • Special books (first picture book you or your child read) 
  • Travel souvenirs (room key from honeymoon, entry tix to the Louvre)
  • Jewelry or personal items that belonged to someone special (cufflinks, locket, etc)

Example of what would not go in a shrine:

  • Macaroni art that your kindergartner brought home yesterday and expects to see on the fridge forever (reality: until it slides low enough that the dog gets ahold of it.)
  • Framed family portrait that currently resides over the fireplace mantel (that’s too much denim and khaki for any single shrine to contain.)
  • Copy of War and Peace (uh huh, sure you read it, you are only lying to your shrine)
  • Odd number of steins you managed to smuggle out of beer tent in Munich.
  • Earrings that your sister gave you for your birthday (wait, you actually hate them, shrine is perfect place to stash them) 

Some shrine guidelines

The following are some guidelines meant to assist you when considering your shrine creation. 

However, the most important guidelines is: You are the boss of it!

A shrine is meant to serve you by giving you a space to honor your memories, not to cause you anxiety by trying to conform to whatever you think it should look like. Therefore, as you consider each contender for this precious space, run a thought audit, i.e., observe your thoughts about each and the feelings those thoughts create.

  • Why am I including this object or memento? Is it because I think Grandma somehow will know from beyond the grave if I don't, which makes me feel guilty? 
  • How about working to transform that thought to something more freeing such as “Grandma was practical and wouldn’t want me to waste space displaying her old poodle shaped candy dish”
  • Shrines can be public, private, or semi-private 
  • If you want to share your shrine with the world - or at least the subset of the population that comes into your home - perhaps dedicate one shelf on your living room bookcase. Of course, if you have your shrine on public display, be prepared to answer questions and talk about the various elements you’ve included, visitors will be interested!

    If your shrine is something you only feel comfortable sharing with family and close friends who might be in the non-public spaces of your home (bedrooms, guest rooms) then consider a small table in an upstairs hallway.

    If your shrine is for your eyes only then a shelf in your personal closet is ideal. If space is an issue - which it is for many - a shrine can be fixed in a shadow box to hang on a wall or kept in a jewelry box with divided segments.

  • Shrines can be any size
  • …but to prevent scope creep, you want to keep your shrine small, usually no more than a shelf’s worth of space. Remember, a shrine is representative of the greater collection, not meant to showcase the full works (that’s called a museum 🙂).

  • Shrines can rotate and update
  • They aren’t set in stone, feel free to add and remove mementoes as you see fit. 

  • Shrines can be any theme 
  • They don’t  have to be exclusively dedicated to people or heavy concepts, you could have a shrine to summer that you change up every year. 🌞

    Okay, I get the idea - now how do I make my shrine?

    1. Start by gathering all of the mementoes that you’ve been hanging onto.
    2. Divide them into general groups (children’s art, photos, physical objects such as jewelry, books, etc.).
    3. Select one item that is the best representative of the larger group (if you’re having trouble deciding, consider which item gives you the biggest positive emotional vibe when you look at it - after all, your shrine is a visual space).
    4. Put the one symbolic item aside and pack the rest of the items into segregated backup boxes - purging these is a whole separate undertaking, do NOT - I repeat, do NOT - get drawn into dealing with them during the shrine creation project.
    5. Have a joyful time arranging and displaying your items in a way that is uniquely yours! It’s your shrine and should be arranged in whatever way pleases you most.

    The wrap up

    A shrine is fantastic way to create two solutions at once -

    1. It lightens your load and enhances your organizational state by paring down your memorabilia. 
    2. It creates a unique space to honor your unique life events and memories.

    Result - less stuff + happy place to reflect = win win!

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