What Really Matters

About three years ago, I decided I needed a new purse. My old one had become nearly insufferable. I buy my purses at Wilson’s Leather Outlet, so they’re very reasonably priced, very high quality purses. They don’t break or wear out, but the stitching becomes frayed, the fabric liners come apart from the leather after a while, etc…I had been carrying my old one for at least a year. Every day. I’m not the chick who changes purses with outfits. So it was started to really show it’s age.

I stopped at Wilson’s Leather on the way home from work one day and bought a fabulous new purse that was nearly identical to the one I was replacing. When I got home, I did a quick swap and moved everything that was essential to my new purse.

The old purse was roomier, and I carried around a lot of “stuff.” Notes from meetings, receipts, notepads, bills, business cards, articles torn out of magazines, and the other miscellany paper stuff that businesswomen have in their purses. I didn’t have time to sort through all of it that evening, so I just shook my head and said “I’ll deal with you later” and stuck the purse in my closet. With easy access to it. Because I knew I’d need something out of it.


When cleaning out my closet a few weeks ago, I saw and it and thought (not for the first time) “I really need to go through that purse and file the stuff that’s in it.” So out it came, and I put it here on my desk. After it nagged me for three weeks, I tackled it one evening when my brain was tired from working all day.

Stacked up all together, the paper items in that purse would have been about five inches tall. As I was going through it, I quickly realized how unimportant most of it was. What you see in the photo above is 99% of what I kept from that stack of paper. The 1% was a couple of old bill receipts that probably could have been trashed but alas, I filed them.

What went into the trash:

  • Scribbled phone numbers and notes on post-its
  • Notes from work meetings
  • Long forgotten to-do lists for work and household projects (some of it has been done, some not)
  • Shopping lists
  • Wow, so many receipts
  • Meeting agendas
  • Handouts from events and conferences that I had saved just KNOWING I’d want to read the info again
  • Coupons (ugh)
  • Business cards from people I don’t know

What I kept (the items in the photo):

  • A couple of cards, letters, and notes from my children
  • A piece of paper full of illegible writing from when my little guy was first learning to write
  • An article about being a better mom
  • An article about how to have more energy
  • An info sheet that lists vitamins that women need to be taking, based on age
  • And….that’s all
It took me about 30 minutes to go through all of it. It occurred to me that the things that I kept were all that mattered. All of the rest of that stuff meant nothing three years later. 
And in my usual philosophical way, I applied this to life. My life specifically, but it could apply to most people’s lives. When it comes right down to sorting things out and keeping only what matters, that small group of items that I didn’t trash is where my priorities lie. 
Judging from the group of items in the photo, here is what matters to me:
  • Memories of my children’s journeys
  • Being loved and appreciated (two of my daughter’s letters were letters of love and encouragement to me)
  • Trying to live healthily (carrying the list of vitamins at least demonstrates my efforts!
  • Being a good mom
  • Finding ways to be more productive (all day energy article)

That’s it. All of the stuff that clutters my day to day life doesn’t matter one bit. 

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