When I was getting divorced in 2015 I went through every drawer, cabinet and closet in my marital home and purged a significant amount of stuff including a lot of t-shirts and sweatshirts that truly had seen their better days…or so I thought.
Somehow they ended up inside what was a gym bag that made its way from Florida to Colorado when I decided to move here the next year and I just discovered the bag a few months ago. That’s really not like me, especially since I have moved 3 times around the Boulder area in the past 5+ years and have done yet more purging.
But there was the old gym bag that I had apparently not used in 6 years, probably because my “gym” has primarily been hiking trails and other outdoor Colorado activities or taking random classes at various places pre-COVID and didn’t have a need to bring a bag with me. Trust me, though, my car is filled with gear for all seasons so I am definitely prepared for whatever I might decide to do on the fly.
Anyway, as I looked through the t-shirts that day they brought back some sigificant memories of the past 25 years…
…a family vacation “Up North” aka Northern Michigan in 1999. I spent every summer of my childhood going to camp between Traverse City and Charlevoix and always love visiting that part of my home state. For this particular trip, I had t-shirts made that said “It’s All About The ‘Q’ Time Right?”, a somewhat snarky reference to how nerve-racking it can be to take a family vacation with your parents, adult siblings, and your own children and still feel like it’s about having quality time together without wanting to kill one another.
Did I mention I can be snarky? 😏
…my son’s 3rd birthday which he wanted to be a “green theme”. It was his favorite color at the time and I made tie-dyed t-shirts for myself, my husband and both kids that said “Put A Little Green In Your Day”.
At the party, the kids decorated small clay pots and each got a plant to put in it as a party favor along with bags of all green candy. As we were leaving the party, my son had put a gummy worm in his mouth and started running around, only for it to get lodged in his throat. Next thing I knew my husband was turning him upside down and reaching down his throat to get it out. While that may not be the best part of the day to remember, seeing that t-shirt for the first time in many years made me smile.
…both of my kids' artistic endeavors from elementary school, forever immortalized on t-shirts that I had made for my mom and she had until the day she died. I remember finding them when I was clearing out her closet in Michigan and took them back to Florida with me. She liked oversized t-shirts so these were actually ones she used to sleep in and I decided if I wore them to bed she would always be with me in that comforting way we want to believe our loved ones are still present in our lives after they die.
…my love for live theater that included a “Guaranteed To Blow Your Mind” t-shirt from the London production of “We Will Rock You” which I saw in 2005 right before a Baltic cruise with my second husband. While many people try to block memories of former relationships, I have chosen to remember them for what they were at the time. We were very much in love and very happy and why should I forget that? What happened 10 years later that ended our marriage was sad and disappointing but I can’t let that be how I remember our entire relationship. Trust me, we had a lot of fun and I will never regret what we did have for so many years.
…a reminder of my last dog, Gavin, an adorable Beagle-Basset Hound that I wrote about often and is the “face” of the petsitting tab on this website.
A friend bought me the “I just want to drink wine & pet my beagle” t-shirt for no particular reason other than, well, it really was how I felt sometimes. I’m not sure why I had ever decided to give it away when he was still alive but I think it might have ended up in the giveaway pile by mistake. Finding it in the gym bag, though, really made me laugh thinking about what a pain in the ass that dog was but I loved him like none other.
…my slightly bedazzled branded t-shirt from my former baked goods company, tcP Sweets, a name that I never really liked but stuck with for whatever reason. tcP stood for “taking care packages” because I originally started out thinking I was going to set up a meal delivery service for people that were sick. I’ve learned a lot since then about branding and being an entrepreneur but that was definitely a memory that I know ultimately brought me to Colorado, a story I’ve told many times and for me, it will never get old. Like so many of the other t-shirts, it made me smile thinking how much everything really does happen for a reason.
So what does any of this have to do with being a professional organizer?
Well, I spend my days telling clients to let things go physically as much as possible but if the memory of a particular item is important to maintain then we figure out ways to preserve it.
I’m not particularly proud that the gym bag was not used for so many years and yet I had kept it. But as I just said I really do believe everything happens for a reason. In this case, I’m sure somewhere in the recesses of my brain I subconsciously put the t-shirts in the bag rather than giving them away in 2015 because I must have told myself that I did want to preserve those memories but hadn’t quite figured out how at the time. So into the duffle bag they went with the intention of doing something with them “down the road” when I was settled into my new home. Never did I ever think it would be Colorado but here I am.
Right before I re-discovered the bag this past December, a client had a lot of t-shirts that she was struggling to donate and it took all of 5 seconds for me to recommend making a t-shirt quilt. She was so excited when it finally arrived a month later and sent me a photo thanking me profusely for the idea.
I have recommended this to so many clients through the years and they are always so happy with the results. My go-to company is Project Repat, a company with a great mission that resonates with my desire to recycle and repurpose as much as possible.
Shortly after ordering the quilt for my client, I got an email from Project Repat asking if I wanted to become a referral partner for them. I actually get asked by a lot of companies to be an ambassador but rarely accept the offers. Part of the reason is I just don’t have the time or bandwidth but more importantly I don’t like the idea of being paid to promote products. I understand a lot of people make a living doing it but it has always seemed so disingenuous to me. That said, for a company like Project Repat I decided to make an exception and, therefore, am being completely transparent here and now.
If you want to order a quilt by clicking HERE, you will receive 15% off and I will receive a $15 referral fee. I don’t plan on retiring off any fees I may earn and, in fact, I will donate them between now and the end of May to one of the many Marshall Fire victims funds I am currently partnering with. And in case you don’t know about the Marshall Fire, it occurred on December 30, 2021 and destroyed nearly 1100 homes and displaced close to 40,000 residents (including myself for a few weeks) in my community right outside of Boulder. For more details and ways you can contribute if you so desire, you can check out my blog from last month.
Meanwhile, my re-discovered t-shirt collection?
Obviously, I transformed them into a quilt that I just received this past week and I literally stared at it for what may have been an hour thinking about all of the memories yet again, memories that fortunately did not go up in flames during the Marshall Fire.
My apartment only had minimal smoke damage and I didn’t lose any memories like so many others within a few blocks from where I live. When I originally came across the gym bag with my t-shirts in mid-December and placed the order online for the quilt, I was advised that I couldn’t actually send them until after January 15th. They were trying to get through the holiday season orders first and I guess they didn’t want a bunch of new orders stored at their facility. If my apartment had more significant damage or been completely destroyed, those t-shirts would not have ever made their way to their factory in January and I would not have the new memory I was able to create.
When I returned to my apartment after being displaced for two weeks, the gym bag was sitting in the corner of my living room right where I had left it on December 28th, the night before I left for a quick getaway to Glenwood Springs and where I was when the fire happened. I pulled the t-shirts out and counted them to make sure there would be enough for the size quilt I was ordering. I was short just one and went to my t-shirt drawer to find one that I had no issues with the idea of repurposing.
The choice was immediately obvious when I discovered I had two of the same staff t-shirts from my summer working at Camp Inc. Business Academy.
It’s what brought me to Colorado in 2016 for what was supposed to just be the summer and ultimately changed the trajectory of my life. Seeing it now surrounded by so many of the memories of what I refer to as B.C. aka “Before Colorado” is as comforting as wrapping myself up in the quilt itself.
And on that note, I am off to make some more memories with my brother and sister-in-law who are in town for their son’s regional college hockey tournament. Unfortunately, they lost their second game which means they don’t advance to the nationals in St. Louis in a few weeks but they do get to claim that this is the first time UCLA has made it this far in any hockey tournament. I captured what is now a memory that even my nephew said was a great photo.
I will take any compliments I can get from anyone under the age of 30 because normally I just get an eye roll.
Be well...be kind,