Junk Drawer Memoirs–What Does Your Collected Stuff Say about You?

National Geographic magazine printed a story a few years ago that popped up again recently. A French man named Mantin died in 1905 and decreed in his will that his house was to be left untouched for 100 years. The article states that the 54-year-old childless bachelor was afraid of being forgotten. Wow, shades of Miss Havisham in Dickens’s 1861 novel, Great Expectations. I wonder of Mantin had read it.


All of us want to feel as if we’ve made a difference, we want to be remembered. There are a myriad of wonderful ways to do this besides enshrining yourself or your home for over 100 years. That is just sad and a bit creepily fascinating.


Years ago I read about someone who did an experiment like this with people on the streets of a large city. It was fascinating what people carried around and why. Folks used to say that a good woman could survive for a week on the contents of her purse. This idea usually brings a laugh, then a sheepish admission that this evaluation is not too far off the mark.


However, what would happen if someone took your purse, your backpack, or one drawer in your house, and tried to learn about you just from the contents?

What story would your accumulated objects tell about you?


I tried this experiment a few years ago on myself with my “treasure box” drawer. Here’s what I found, described as an observer:

The Keepsake Drawer—-a box of gaudy plastic beads strung on a thick cord, gifts from her children.  Precious! The antique ring, elegant gold setting with just a piece of amethyst colored glass set in.  Given to her husband by the eccentric elderly lady whose lawn he mowed as a boy.  He had worked while she entertained the old man who was her gardener with iced tea and conversation.  But– when he found the chunk of purple glass she had it set in an elaborate vintage gold ring and returned it to him as a keepsake.  He had kept it for years then gave it to the girl he married.

Silk scarf woven in  gold and ivory that once belonged to her grandmother, a Swarovski crystal necklace and earring set left over from that same grandmother’s dinner party days; cheap tourist scarves collected from around the world, from places other people went.  A tiny swimsuit, an antique lace collar and three yards of handmade white lace, an enameled antique gold-rimmed plate, and a rustic looking pottery goblet and cup set that somehow made her think of the Holy Grail.  Assorted Mother’s Day cards and a blood pressure cuff.

A silver plated art deco tea set she’d kept through one husband, four moves and three children.  It was the first antique she’d ever bought at a garage sale when she was thirteen.  Somehow, it symbolized the elegance and travel she dreamed of.  Tarnished and pitted in a couple places but her dream nonetheless.  She couldn’t part with it, even all these years later.  Inspiring, maybe.


Look for symbols in the things around you.  Why does she/he keep that?  What is in your jewelry box, kitchen cabinets, closet, fishing tackle box, desk drawer?


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Life Legacy Guided Memoir Workshop

Winston Churchill once said, “History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it.” No, you don’t need to be on the Who’s Who list to write your memoir. Each life is unique and there are stories in the amazing ordinary that can be drawn out to give insight not only to the writer but future readers as well.

Imagine doing something most people only wish and dream about. In six weeks you can make it happen and experience the joy of an intensely meaningful accomplishment that you can share with family and friends.

I will be conducting a 6-week Life Legacy Guided Memoir Workshop that will provide a practical, creative framework for gathering material and building a memoir for yourself or someone else. Participants will set weekly writing goals, share their progress and receive constructive feedback. By the end of this focused six-week class you will have made significant progress on your story and have a body of work that you can explore further options for developing.

The Workshop will be held from 2:00 – 3:00 pm on Thursdays, June 8th, 15th, 22nd & 29th and July 13th & 20th in the Community Room at the Mountain View Market Coop. The cost is $160, with a 20% discount for members of the Doña Ana County Genealogical Society and the Mountain View Market Coop ($128). Class size is limited to 15 people. Sign-ups for additional classes at a later date/time are being accepted.


Contact Karen Ray at 575-323-1048 or at Karen@rememberingthetime.net for more information.

Registration and Class fees are payable to Remembering the Time by check or money order due by June 5th     

Mail to Remembering the Time at 2877 Willow Creek Ln., Las Cruces, NM 88007.

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Mom Advice from a Master Humorist

Happy Mothers Day, enjoy your family time this weekend. I’m keeping this short and sweet as I’m celebrating too. Thankful for  my own amazing and wonderful grown children —I’m delighted to call you “friends” –love you and my own great mom!

Share the humor and forward this post to someone you love.

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Mother’s Day Customs and Neat Ideas

Mother's Day, Moms, KidsYes, Mother’s Day has become commercialized, but I’ve rounded up  some creative ideas to help you honor your mom in other ways. I thought the day was pretty much just a western invention, possibly funded by Hallmark. I was wrong, kiddos  of all ages all over the planet want to make sure their moms know they’re loved. Plus, who doesn’t like to get together with family, eat good food, laugh a bit and just appreciate each other?

Take a look at these customs, are there any you’d like to try?


Most of these involve food, flowers and pampering but a few—Mother's Day Customs

Serbia, not so sure about that one, their customs involve rope and kind of sound like extortion. But you make up your own mind.

Some of my favorite ideas, which favor experiences over “stuff” are found below…

Create a Usable Keepsake

Spread out a solid sheet or tablecloth outside or in the garage. Make sure to put a protective layer of plastic underneath. Have 3-4 tubs of colorful,non-toxic, tempura type paint available and encourage the kids (it won’t take much) to put their hands and feet into the paint. Then, help them “stamp” their hand and foot prints onto the sheet, leaving a permanent keepsake of their prints behind. Next, have everyone label their prints and maybe write a note for Mom if they want. Let dry, use and enjoy. These make great picnic table covers and can be enjoyed many times over the years.  (Grandma’s love this one too)

From Parents.com:
Take an exotic “vacation.”

Even if you can’t afford to go to Paris for the weekend, you can still enjoy a little taste of France (or any other destination that intrigues you). Get some croissants for breakfast, pack a picnic lunch of French bread, cheese, and fruit, or order a meal from your favorite deli or restaurant (quiche, anyone?), and get into the flavor of the country. For an added touch, adorn your kitchen or dining room table with a red-and-white-checkered tablecloth and fresh flowers, put on some French music, and teach your kids a few basic words in French, such as “bonjour” (good morning) and “merci” (thank you).


These ideas are for those a bit more adventurous…

From Beauteeful Living.com



Day Trip to Somewhere New

One of my favorite activities is venturing off to new places and walking through towns. Dining and shopping seem to go hand-in-hand when visiting new towns, so you know I’m all over this “day trip” idea!…


Bucket List Check Off

Give yourself another reason to complete another one of your life’s goals by setting Mother’s Day to be a day where you finally complete that activity off your bucket list. Since Mother’s Day is a “family” day, how wonderful would it be to have others in your family join you on completing that task on your bucket list?

Perhaps this can be an annual tradition where you bring your mom or mother figure in your life to do something that she’s wanted to do but hasn’t yet had the opportunity. You get to be the rock star who helps check that off her bucket list. Sweet!


Take a Trip to Beauty and Bedlam’s Great round-up of ideas and inspiration:


Mother's DayCheck out these fun ideas, and take a minute to grab her fantastic, and free, printable Mother’s Day coupon book here:



Remember, simple is good, make it fun and just enjoy each other.

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Contact Me

Please contact me for more information or to to schedule a free consultation. I look forward to visiting with you.

    Karen Ray Photo

    Karen Ray

    Address: 331 Bristol Avenue, Las Cruces, NM, 88001

    Phone: 575-323-1048