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Dress yourself in story

My fingers found their way to the earrings in my earlobes and began the subconscious ritual of twisting them around and around while we waited.

I’ve been twisting my earrings in moments of stress since I was in the 3rd grade, standing next to mean old Mrs. Boyd’s desk reciting my multiplication tables. I would sway back and forth, sweating in my sneakers, twisting away on those earring studs while I stammered out three times one is three, three times two is six, three times three is three …

And so there I was three months ago, sweating in a hospital bed in the OR prep room, having found out only hours earlier that our twin baby boys were to be born that day, and naturally, I resorted to that familiar comfort of twisting my earrings.

I was just a few twists of the diamond studs in when I felt a small burst of panic. Ugh, I groaned. I was supposed to leave these at home. I can’t go into surgery with them in my ears.

It’s no surprise at all that I forgot to take them out. With very few exceptions, those diamond studs are in my earlobes around the clock. I’m not a fancy jewelry person. In fact, those earrings and my wedding ring are the only pieces of jewelry I own that have any worth to them at all. I don’t wear those earrings to be fancy. I wear them because in a very tangible way, they remind me of who I am.

My husband bought me those earrings for Christmas one year when we received an unexpected windfall of cash. He is ever the responsible one, the logical one, but he is also lavish and ridiculous in the ways he shows love to me, and though we were barely hobbling along financially at the time, he chose to take a bonus given to him and present to me a box of sparkly delight.

To this day, my mother wears a pair of diamond stud earrings in her ears, and when I was growing up, that always seemed like the most grown-up thing a woman could wear. And so when I put those earrings in, I had a little moment with myself. We married young and lived as poor college students for so long that even when we moved hours away from home, I still felt like a little girl pretending.

But then, the earrings. The earrings signaled a subtle shift in adulthood for me. They made me feel grown-up, that I was more than some imposter who shouldn’t be allowed to make choices about health insurance and 401ks. I was a real live grown-up woman.

dress yourself in storyPhoto by Steve A. Johnson

The things we keep in our jewelry boxes and in the back of our closets and in dusty boxes under our beds, the things that have a Story, these are the tangible evidences of where we have come from and who we are becoming.

Whether our daily style is runway chic or kitchen comfy, we find there are certain things that will never be hauled off to Goodwill, things that we rarely allow little hands to touch, things whose worth can never be measured with mere dollars.

It’s why we wrap ourselves in our father’s old cabled cardigan when the phone call from the doctor is not the answer we had been praying for. It speaks to us of comfort and support in our most vulnerable moments.

It’s why we slip on the simple gold band that was once our grandmother’s wedding ring, the one that saw her through the Depression and the Dust Bowl and the death of our grandfather. We slip it on and find courage and inspiration in her strength as we sit down to tackle the project that will make or break our career.

It’s why we keep the boots that never left our feet that summer we spent backpacking after college. We wear them to drop off our children on the first day of school, knowing that no mountain hike could possibly be as hard as this is.

They are just things, sure. But they are also the illustrations and mile markers and memory stones that we gather up along the way, as our Story plays out year after year. They are more meaningful than mere fashion and they long outlive any trend.

And when we need them most, they are there to steady our trembling hands as they remind us of who we are.

What are the things that you keep because they speak a Story for you?

Reading Time:

3 minutes





  1. Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm

    I am also an earring-fidgeter!

    But for me, jewelry or clothes don’t hold many stories. Unsurprisingly, for me it’s books. (And yes, they tell a literal story, but that’s not what I mean.)

    Books also have so many memories for me: where I bought them, when I first read them, the friend I convinced to try a book out of their comfort zone, the books I got for my 10th birthday/Christmas. (My bday is in Dec, and the year I was ten I got 37 books between bday & Christmas. I was SO excited.) 🙂

  2. Nicole Robinson @TheBookWormMama

    There are certain books that I own that I will never be able to let go of. Even though I have a Kindle, and even if I haven’t touched a certain title in years, I can’t let them go. They are little time capsules that remind me of old hobbies and present dreams.

  3. Workimg Mom

    My dads flannel shirt. Always perfect for those bummed, lazy days.

  4. Kim @ Extra Organised

    Like the other commenters so far, books and magazines help me recall distinct periods in my life and they are probably the only thing I keep too many of because they take me back instantly to thoughts and feelings of those times.

    I think overall this idea of story can still fit with a way of life like minimalism, because if we keep only we use and love, then it will all be meaningful to us and not swamped by clutter (thus swamping the stories).

    Thank you for the post!

  5. Cynthia

    My story is about jewelry, too. The ladies in my Southern family always had big diamond rings. My mother, aunts, and grandmother; and I would remember the event when they received them. But I never had one. I didn’t think it mattered, I would tell people “we aren’t that kind of people”, and “we don’t spend money on things like that”. We are cattle farmers and landlords. If there is a little money we buy a cow, or a house, maybe. When we were married about 20 years, the diamond fell out of my original engagement ring. I caught it in my hand. But I didn’t have it fixed because I was afraid it would cost too much. My original set was a small ring and band, we paid $200 for them both. So I stopped wearing a wedding ring. I always thought growing up, that it was tacky and cheap for women to wear a simple thin band. My husband didn’t wear a ring, because of his dangerous job (he had two wedding rings cut off) so I didn’t think it mattered after so long a time of marriage. One day I got a new job in a construction site office as an office manager. My husband looked down at my hand and said, “you’re not going there without a ring.”. I was really shocked. So I started “piecing” together a set of rings. It changed many times over the years. Whether I gained weight or lost weight, whether I found a cheap ring that I would wear a while from a discount store. Finally for a while I wore a ring of my grandmother’s (not real, she shopped QVC!) and a band of my mothers. Then I looked down and within a two mile drive one day I lost my grandmother’s ring, never to be found. So back to piecing rings I went. In 2012, we were married 30 years. On that occasion, I opened a small box, and there was a gaudy, beautiful ring just like my family of women had worn for years! My husband told me to throw away all that “junk” I had been wearing. At first, I was embarrassed. I didn’t think it “fit” me. But the more I wore it, the more I liked it. Now I don’t go anywhere without it. That and my “bible verse bracelets”, I wear everyday. It make my husband proud for me to wear it, and I guess it makes me feel loved. Such a selfish story, I guess. But that is what I think of from this article. Recently a friend commented on my rings, and said for her next anniversary she told her husband she was getting a big ring. I thought to myself, “oh, no. You’ve only been married 5 years. That’s not nearly long enough for a ring like this!”

    • Brenda

      Wow, I can totally relate to this post. I have 2 rings that I alternate, my college ring and my grandmother’s high school ring. My college ring is my bridge from childhood to adulthood, it reminds me of the place where I truly grew up.

      My grandmother died 20 years ago, wearing her ring makes me feel close to her. It also brings me close to my family, although we don’t have the closest relationship.

  6. Victoria

    I keep 2 hand knitted blankets one made by the hands of my grandfather the other by the hands of my mother. Both have left this earth and when I miss them I wrap myself up in their blankets and it feels comforting. I also have a few of my mother’s necklace that I remember fondling with my own hands as I snuggled in her lap, and the tea and sugar tins that sat on the kitchen counter when I was growing up which remind me of morning chats in the kitchen.

  7. Melody Ann

    visiting here from SImple Mom today. I must say that just this week my fingers traced the handquilted stitches of the quilt on my bed that my Grandmother made over two decades ago for me because I was getting married. I had such a moment of revelation and comfort of the prayers and thoughts she undoubtedly had as she stitched by the quilt frame for hours. This connection to my Grandmother was such a gift and such a comfort to me in a moment of difficult pain.

  8. Jenn @ A Simple Haven

    I like how you elevate simple things to the status of “memory stones.” So true.

    Mine are turquoise and silver earrings of my mother’s from the 60’s, a scarf my dad brought me from Scotland, and, oddly, a wide-toothed comb I’ve had since I was 13. I know, weird.

    What a sweet Hubby you have :).

  9. Anne

    I have an old “grandpa” style sweater that hangs in my closet year after year. It has a ridiculous collar, horizontal stripes of 1950’s seafoam green, kelly green and orange. I actually refer to it as my, “It’s-so-ugly-it’s-cute-sweater.”

    I acquired it when I was a junior in high school. My sister-in-law let me borrow it for a talent show I was performing in. My performance was a skit based on Bob Ross’s, Joy of Painting series (PLEASE tell me you know who that man is!) After the skit I just held onto it and could not let it go. I think it holds special meaning to me because it was in that talent show that I decided to no longer worry about what everybody thought about me and start just being me. I came out of my shell that year, I blossomed and my classmates respected me for my goofy sense of humor. It was the moment I accepted who I was as a person. So, in a sense, that silly sweater is a visual reminder for me to NEVER lose sight of who I am.

  10. Taylor-Made Ranch

    Wow, what an intense outpouring of your heart. Thank you so much for sharing. It makes me want to dig out the diamond studs my Honey gave me our first Valentine’s Day together – it brings the same feelings as it did with you. Thanks for the reminder.

    ~Taylor-Made Ranch~
    Wolfe City, Texas

  11. Dawn

    For me, it is definitely cards or notes from my parents and others who have loved me deeply that hold words that will always encourage my heart no matter how long ago they were written. Not only the words, but what each writer of them means to me (along with the back-story of each relationship) are some of the most precious “things” in my life.

  12. Caroline Starr Rose

    Last summer, at my twentieth reunion, several people pointed out I was wearing the same necklace I’d worn from middle school on. (It’s my name in Arabic and because of its fragile chain was something I was only allowed to wear for special occasions when I was before-middle-school young.)

    I sleep in it, swim in it, only remove if I’m putting something else on. Even though that fragile chain has broken several times, and jewelers have recommended I take it off daily, I continue to wear it always as a part of who I am.

  13. Harmony Moore

    These words warmed me to the tips of my toes. Beautiful, and such a true, lovely perspective. Thank you. A smile stretched and tears trickled at the bit about the boots. YES. So that’s why I still have them.

  14. Aubrey

    My grandma wore six sterling silver bangles every single day of her life. I keep them in my jewelry box and when I really miss her I pick them up and shake them, and it sounds like she is just about to walk in from the next room. Usually I put them back in the box, but day before yesterday I wore them all day long, shaking my wrist.

  15. Starla R.

    My would be pictures, I have old pictures of family members, some that I have met and some that I have only spoken to on the phone, who have since passed away. I like to sit and look at old pictures of my children and see how they have grown, and all the trials we have been through and made it out of. It reminds me that God is present through all of lifes journeys and how he has brought us through so many. How the future will have its days and we will get through those also. Thank you, this was a great article.

  16. Liisa R

    I have a some special jewelry — a ruby ring from my aunt that has been in the family for years, and my grandmother’s pearl earrings that were a gift from her husband many years ago that I wore on my wedding day, but I don’t take these out very often.
    I do have a small china cabinet that I see daily, though, with old pictures of my grandmas and my great-grandmas. It holds the little tea set my mom bought me piece by piece when I was a little girl, and a plate of my grandmother’s from Finland (where she came from), her china that we used for special occasions when I was young, the bread plate my other grandma gave me when I got married, and a hand-carved wooden box with my maiden name carved into it from my great-aunt. These remind me of the amazing women in my family who lived through many extremely difficult things but leaned on God and came out the other side stronger. They give me courage to face my own battles and continue on my own journey with Him. 🙂

  17. Maia

    I have my mom’s copy of Little House on the Prairie. It is well loved, but I will not replace it until I pass it on to one of my kids. I also framed the outfits my kids came home from the hospital in, because I wasn’t going to get rid of them, but I didn’t want them languishing in a box in the basement.

  18. Kate Davis

    I’m not a big jewellery wearer either, but there are three rings I feel lost not wearing. My engagement ring that demonstrates the relationship I have with my husband, I paid for half of it. I said I’d rather not have a ring than one I didn’t love and I loved this one when I saw it a few years before we got engaged. My husband remembered and travelled back to the shop to buy the ring, proposed and then asked me for the money! My wedding ring which was made to fit my engagement ring. My mum’s eternity ring; she died almost a year ago and when I’m thinking that is the item I twiddle, maybe I’m asking for input!

    I’ve kept one outfit for each child; what they wore for their first Christmas when they were just over 1 month old.

    My son is 1.5 years old and his comforter is a blanket knitted by his great granny. I can already recognise the importance that will have in his life when he is older.

  19. Alicia Miles

    Yeah, so many things around us like rings, earrings and charms can have stories like you have. Its a very unique in listening but it happens in realty so many times.

  20. Rachel

    I have so enjoyed reading about everyone’s treasured items. I know what this means for so many. At first, I scoffed at the idea that I had any treasures because I have worked so hard to detach myself from things due to being raised by a mother with hoarding tendencies.
    As I thought about it, I realized I did have certain things that were very precious to me. The heavy mirror made from a piece of a larger mirror that had a family story attached to it. It is framed beautifully in wood carved by my grandpa. The pearl ring my mother gave me when I turned sixteen which had been promised to me as a small girl. The dress sewn for me by a sweet lady from our church who had heard I had never had a new dress.
    These things are rarely used, but I hope to never part with them because of the sweetness of the memories. Thank you for your post. It was a great reminder to appreciate those things that allow us to steady our hearts and minds in difficult moments.

  21. @tanya toncheva

    What a lovely story! Thank you for sharing, Megan.
    I can’t let go from a lot of things that speak not only Story, they speak Life for me. And that would be our family photos, little notes from the time in high school ( some of them make me laugh, others make me blush every time I read them), cards- especially the ones that are
    handcrafted and painted from my daughter( her big, green crocodile from the time she was 3 is my favorite). I keep some letters from people who love me, care for me, and believe in me. My treasure chest contains clothes from different stages of my daughter growing up and some books that have traveled the world with me and I reread them every so often to recharge my batteries.

  22. Marnie

    Thank you for this post Megan. I have since been wearing my diamond earrings that my husband gave me on our wedding day constantly. It gave me a chance to reflect and realise that they were wasted in my drawer. I have really enjoyed having them on and touching them which reminds me of his love.

  23. Briana

    I love my story pieces. I don’t wear much jewelry, but I always wear my wedding/engagement rings and the ring we bought in Turkey on our honeymoon. I have a necklace that holds a cross my mother bought me for Easter, and a silver luckenbooth that all of the ladies in my family have. My grandma was buried with hers this past fall. I have a pashmina that I always turn to that we also bought in Turkey on our honeymoon.

  24. Olive

    I had my wedding band and a diamond anniversary ring remade into one ring after an unexpected divorce. The three diamonds honor my three children. Several sweet Christian sisters showed their love & support for me by helping to pay for this. It gives me comfort and courage to wear this ring on my right hand every day! 🙂

  25. Megan Wynne

    My Chaco Sandals. I got them in high school, then went with me to work with widows in Afghanistan…because of the places they have traveled, I was very attached to them! They represent alot of hard times and travels overseas–they just finally fell apart 15 years later!!!

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