The Value of Possessions

Things. Valuables. Possessions. 

There’s many that I hold to my name. Some more important than others, but each still worth their own. As I sit here in my room, I can’t help but to look around and count off the little trinkets and elements that mean something to me. A weaving a friend made that hangs next to my door, the vintage map of colorado behind my bed, my favorite necklaces that drape from a hook…

I love these things, and I’m thankful for them. Just like the roof above my head, the friendships I’ve built, and everything else that adds a little sweetness to my life. For as long as I can remember though, I’ve never been the best at putting forth extra care towards the things that need it most.


One instance in particular happened while I was surfing in Puerto Rico. I’m a ring wearer, and I’ve been wearing the same 4 on my right hand for years. They were passed on to me from someone else, and they’re some of the most special pieces in my collection. All are secure enough that they never come off, except with extra force. I got in the habit of never removing them, so they kind of just live life with me as I live it. When I went surfing that day, so did they. I took off on the first wave and as I went to stand up, I felt one of those rings slip off and fall into the water. Lost to the blue abyss. For something that I had worn for so long, it was sad to realize that I’d never be able to again, but all could have been avoided if I would have just taken the extra care and time to remove them beforehand.

Why didn’t I?


I think I can blame this on a lingering thought that forever exists in my head…

“It will be fine.”

No matter what situation I find myself in, this phrase is on repeat in my mind. For the most part, this is a good thing. It’s helped shape my laid-back, optimistic personality and care-free outlook on life.

But sometimes, everything isn’t fine, and I realize it after it’s too late.


I’ve been through multiple cracked screens (laptop and phone), lost jewelry, broken electronics… these things become costly. I’ve lost too much sentimental and monetary value over the years that it’s time I start caring more. I want to know my prized possessions will be fine, rather than just assuming. So, I’m asking you all… how do you put that extra bit of care into the things that are of value to you?


As I move into the new year, this is something I plan to work on, and I love hearing your advice. Please share in the comments!

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  1. I have recently started wearing a silver ring on my left pointer finger, I really don’t feel myself without it, but each night I take it off and sit it in a tiny dish beside me so I cannot risk losing it in my sheets then forever at the dryers. I stick it on my windowsill when I wash my hands and I try to squish it onto my thumb when I’m in a situation that I think it could slip off. Hope I helped a little bit deary!

  2. i recently lost a beautiful pendant that my husband gave me years ago for our anniversary. It was a beautiful turquoise piece. I cried very hard when i discovered that it was gone, missing or perhaps taken. Then I had to let it go, like everything in life, nothing is permanent. I did buy a nice jewelry box and keep my real valuable possessions inside. I dont like to think of myself as materialistic – I like to think I am just sentimental about gifts, moments in time, certain articles of clothing – and their meaning, their value to me and most likely, no one else.

  3. I’m terrible with this sort of thing – I’ve lost an earring of my mom’s that was given to her by her grandfather, and I’m terrible with my clothing. In a way, I think it’s good to be able to let go of material things. It still emotionally hurts me to lose things I’ve developed sentimental attachments to and I think that is something to work on.

    Warm Regards,

  4. It so weird that you posted this because this morning while getting ready I was thinking about a necklace my dad had given me. He went to Antarctica twice via ship while serving in the Coast Guard. On one of the trips they stopped in Australia and I guess at the time the jewelry stores were packed with opal or it was very common. My dad bought me a piece of fire opal in the shape of a heart. He used to show it to me in it’s box when I was little (10-13yrs). Then when I turned 18 he had it mounted at a local jewelry store so that I could wear it as a necklace. I probably only had it for about 2-3 years before I lost it. My dad still asks me about it now that I’m 26 and I can tell it really has hurt him over the years. That necklace is something I will never forget and losing it one of my biggest regrets.

    xoxo Summer

  5. I try to be minimalistic, but some things are just precious. I had a stupid, cheapish jade charm with a Luck symbol that I had bought in Chinatown when I went to visit my Dad (who was all alone for Thanksgiving except for my surprise visit). I loved that thing and wore it everywhere. It reminded of our best holiday together. Then one day, when visiting my mom of all places, it got lost. I turned that house upside down to no avail. I highly suspect she accidentally threw it out since she has a tendency to “put away” anything laying around but I was heartbroken.

    Anyway, my real point is that I now carry a little makeup bag that dwells in my backpack when traveling. All jewelry that gets removed INSTANTLY goes into that bag and into my backpack. That’s how I keep things safe.

  6. We understand the value of “things”. When an item has a past, has a story it embodies much more than just being a personal possession. “Things” bring life and meaning to museums and human history. We like use purses that have small zip pockets within them to store our jewelry when we are in a situation that we can’t wear them!

    xo Binky and Lulu

  7. Yesterday I had to say goodbye to my car. I rear-ended a big SUV before Christmas, and my car was a tiny little hatchback, so I took the brunt of it and it turns out my car is totaled. I’ll never drive it again. Needless to say I cried a LOT when I saw it again all crumpled up.

    It was my very first new car, my first grown-up purchase, my baby. Everyone who saw it would squeal about how cute it was and tell me how it fit my personality to a T – someone even said that to me hours before the crash. It truly felt like an extension of my personality, complete with my “love is the answer” bumper sticker on the back.

    Things are precious, yes, but in the end they are just things. I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the Buddhist practice of non-attachment and it’s something I’d like to work on. I don’t want to feel like I’m defined by the objects in my life. The only constant is change and it seems silly to cling onto a static way of being.

  8. I could relate to this post SO much! I feel like that is my life…breaking and losing so many things! and while I normally like to live simplistically, there are things I really care about because of the memories that go with them.

  9. Oh do I ever feel this! I try to make sure I get the warranties on any electronic devices, otherwise I just take the extra time to put things in a safe place before I do anything really physical. A few years ago I got thrown off a horse and somehow, during the tumble, I lost the pendant on the necklace that my father got me for my high school graduation. I still cringe just thinking about how foolish I was – I wish I could somehow get it back, but hours of searching turned up nothing.

    northern rustication

  10. When I purchase large ticket items, such as my iPad, I pay extra close attention to how I handle it. For instance, when I first bought The iPad i kept the box, and when I wasn’t using it I would put it back in the box. I have a full cover on it now so it is fully protected. And if I take it anywhere it stays in the cover and then goes into a knitted sleeve for extra protection. My thinking is, I saved up for this large purchase and I worked hard for the money so I better take care of it. The same thing goes for my rings that I wear everyday. When I wash my hands, do the dishes or any house chores, I take them off. And when I get home at the end of the day I take them off and put them in a little broken tea cup. My mom told me once that I’ve always been good at taking care of things. Even when I was little. so I guess it’s just 2nd nature to me. (Sorry this is so long, lol)

  11. There may be days when you get up in the morning and things aren’t the way you had hoped they would be.

    That’s when you have to tell yourself that things will get better. There are times when people disappoint you and let you down.

    But those are the times when you must remind yourself to trust your own judgments and opinions, to keep your life focused on believing in yourself.

    There will be challenges to face and changes to make in your life, and it is up to you to accept them.

    Constantly keep yourself headed in the right direction for you. It may not be easy at times, but in those times of struggle you will find a stronger sense of who you are.

    So when the days come that are filled with frustration and unexpected responsibilities, remember to believe in yourself and all you want your life to be.

    Because the challenges and changes will only help you to find the goals that you know are meant to come true for you.

    Keep Believing in Yourself!

  12. Sounds like your rings ended up being a gift to the sea. I prevented a similar loss last week when I took my rings off to go snow skiing. I knew that one pinkie ring likes to hide in gloves on cold days, so I decided not to risk losing it and others by removing them and leaving them on the altar on my dresser. Maybe your loss will work as a reminder going forward, as a lesson learned.

    I’m reading a Japanese organizing book right now called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. One of the author’s pieces of advice is to make a home for everything, and to be disciplined about putting things back in their homes. With my acoustic guitar, I always put it back in it’s case. Even though it’s pretty to look at, it’s so much better for the guitar to be put back in it’s safe place. Or as the Shaker saying goes “A place for everything, and everything in it’s place”.

    Year’s ago my husband (then boyfriend) gave me a pair of Vuarnet sunglasses with the words “Protect these with your life”. Wow! I thought of those words every time I pulled them out to wear or took them off, so it was years before I broke them. That could be a helpful idea for your expensive technology items.

    Happy new year!

  13. I believe you should keep your carefree atitude, I bet it is what allows all those marvelous things in your life, material and spiritual. Sometimes €&€”@/ happens, just keep living your wonderful life with your wonderful soul!

  14. Hi Jana,
    My mum is from Japan and she tells me regularly a saying from her home:
    It says that things that get lost or broken do this in order to protect us and get lost and broken instead of ourselves.
    I find this a very nice way of thinking and it definitely comforts me when I loose valued possessions! :)
    So maybe the ring you lost in the ocean protected you from any harm while surfing!

  15. I lost everything I owned in a tragic house fire six months ago.
    I learned to get over it real quickly, and I realized that all those things:: those one of a kind world travel tokens, photographs of special memories, love letters, unique vintage clothes, passed on books & what we hoard around us to express our identity and experience are just that — THINGS. What counts is your mind, health, spirit & will to transcend what all those objects symbolize— you can access that gratitude, wisdom & freedom without the help of material objects.
    It is wonderful to recognize all your beautiful little trinkets, and are mindful to keep them precious. I suppose this is a marketing blog after all, however you losing a special ring in the water is much easier to deal with than losing a friend to drowning, or a fire.

  16. Very strange, that I have basically an identical experience to the comment above me. I lost my entire apartment and all my belongings to a fire in August. It is crazy that things you used to put so much sentimental value on become much easier to part with when you’re faced with the severity of total loss. My beloved pet and adorable sidekick unfortunately did not make it out of the fire and that has been the toughest part. Otherwise, I really agree with Jillian – they do become just ‘things.’

    But my practical advice for anyone looking to take better care of their things is simple. Get insurance!! I cannot stress how important renters insurance or home insurance can be. I was able to replace certain items (yes the heirlooms, vintage pieces, and carefully curated favorite items were gone) but at least you have the means to restart. Insurance can also help protect items outside the home depending on your policy.

    I know insurance isn’t the most glamorous concept to speak about, but I really believe that renter’s insurance should be spoken about more often. Especially to this demographic of new home owners and first time renters.

  17. I have a friend who takes really really good care of her things… I wanted to pick up on it because i was messy and all her things looked so nice and organized. So i realized that she 1. Payed attention to details. She knows exactly where everything is because she organized things that way. Bought specific covers for her gadgets. Takes preventative steps. 2.Lived in the present moment and slows down. She takes her time and manages her time well…when you think you have more time then you actually do you will rush and be unprepared leading to broken or lost items. Living in the moment allows you to pay attention.

    Of course no one is perfect and mistakes happen. Lost jewelry because its tiny and broken phones because of clumsy hands. It happens ! hope this helps peace!

  18. My family has never been very well off in terms of money. We actually became homeless for a while when I was in high school. Despite that, my parents never made me do without anything. Knowing how hard they worked for me to be able to have things like a phone, new clothes, and a lot of other things I didn’t necessarily need helped me find value in them. That has carried over in other situations, either receiving things as gifts or buying them for myself, because I know the value and how much work had to happen for me to have the things I do. I have always been very careful with important items because of this: my phone has a sturdy case to prevent cracks and scratches; everything I own has a specific place when I’m not using it. I am very careful to put things back in place, hold on tightly when carrying anything fragile, and keep easily damaged items away from my pets. Organization and appreciation for what I have are how I keep important items protected and in good condition. Hope this helps. :)

  19. I love reading all of this heartfelt advice, and I feel for you. In my second book, Organizing for the Spirit, I talk about the importance of being Who you are, Where you are, Enjoying your life and Giving back. I’d say that you have your priorities right; you just have to institute some better systems for safekeeping. Good luck!

  20. it’s so hard to detach yourself from the sentimental value of things, which i think is really what it is all about…the memories behind your possessions. I have the hardest time with that (probably the reason i still have clothes in my closet from 7th grade) but i’ve lately been trying so hard to realize that even if something becomes lost, or i get rid of it..i can still have the memory of it.

  21. i know how you feel! i’ve lost three iphones and many valuable things, also my father tends to be very disappointed when i lose things he gave me. It’s awful and I’d love to hear more from you on this matter :)

  22. Take a picture of the item, then if you loose it you can still look at the picture and the memories will come back to you:) Another piece of advice (may not pertain to you but does pertain to the blog)…try not to attach yourself to things (it is hard when someone has passed or no longer in your life but you have to keep in mind it is not the item but what the item represents). If you find happiness inside yourself you won’t need to acquire things for fulfillment and/or happiness. Life is not about what you have it is about the time you have and how you share it with others.

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