Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom ~ Mourning My Dancing Shoes



My daughter, who is 13, is starting to take ballroom dance lessons. I’m happy for her, but this new passion has caused my first case of declutter regret. Yes, after 3 years of decluttering (June 1 was my anniversary), I finally caught the bug. It took someone else to cure me.

You see, my husband and I used to ballroom dance, as well. We took lessons for 4 hours a week for 2 years and went to many dances up until my new dancer was born. I held onto my dance shoes – a pair of black practice shoes and a pair of gold performance shoes – for years. Dance shoes are pampered and get very little actual wear, so they can last for quite a long time, and the basic styles haven’t changed in the past decade. I kept mine and kept mine, even though giving birth to two children changed my foot size, and I could no longer wear them. Finally, during decluttering, I gave them to a charity that holds a large garage sale every year and hoped that a dancer would find them among all the regular shoes.

Now my daughter, although only 13, is almost fully grown, and she could probably wear those shoes. I’ve told three or four people, “Oh if I’d only kept my dance shoes.” I’ve thought to myself “They didn’t take up much room. I could have kept them.”

Yesterday, my friend whom I helped move, said, “Cindy, you just can’t think like that. If you hung onto everything you might ever use, you’d be buried.”  A lightbulb came on! I was indulging in “what if I need it one day” thinking. How could I possibly have know that one day my daughter would ballroom dance? It’s not a part of mine and Dan’s lives anymore (except at the occasional wedding), so how could I anticipate that she would need them? Plus you might have noticed I said they “might” have fit her. I don’t know what size they were! She wears about the size now that I did before she was born. Yes, they might have fit her. But they might not. What if I’d kept everything she might want some day? I’d be surrounded by Barbies and Breyer horses, books, art pads, and on and on.

Better to let all that go, then to surround myself “just in case.”

Today’s Mini Mission

Clean the outside of, and behind your fridge. If you have stuff on your fridge this will all have to come off first in order to do the job properly. If you have an old fashioned fridge with the element visible you should also gently vacuum this element. Once again this task ought to be executed about every three months and the less there is to move each time the easier the job will be.

Eco Tip For The Day

Discover your local food shops. Check out their sustainability ethics. If their standards are good use them, and since you could get there by foot you can also save on transport.

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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  1. Cindy, I think we all have times when we encounter something that makes us wish we hadn’t gotten rid of. In most cases, we can still live without it.

    I was able to get all the old paperwork shredded. lt felt good to get rid of it all.

  2. Good that you realized that it’s not the end of the world, even if you end up needing to replace something you once owned!

  3. I think we regret when we Held onto spmething for a Long Time then decluttered it and relatively soon after (in comparison to the Holding on phase) think we could use it now. But maybe we just should Not have held onto the things for so Long in the beginning. Then the Years of Freedom from that thing would weigh more. Maybe it is mourning for the Years of keeping it?!

  4. I think I’ve been lucky in that so far, 14 months in, I’ve yet to regret getting rid of anything until recently when I donated a large folder around a week or so ago, thinking that as I’m trying to digitalise my notes/paperwork for various things I wouldn’t ever need it and I already hoard enough stationary items … flash forward one week and I decided I would tackle organising all my writing notes in the hope that it would help me get some progress made. I decided that I would prefer to keep all my writing ideas on paper (but digitise everything else) only to find upon organising them that a small folder isn’t big enough for all my ideas! I immediately thought of the larger folder I just donated and kicked myself, but I am making the smaller one do for now. With any luck I will stop thinking of writing ideas and actually get down to writing some of these stories and the folder will thin out!

    As Cindy points out though we can’t keep everything forever ‘just in case’ – because it wouldn’t just be 1 folder I kept but the other 10-15 I’ve decluttered over the past year. We might feel like we are saying ‘just in case’ to only 1 or 2 items but the really is we probably think ‘just in case’ to lots of items and before you know it, we’ve got ourselves lots of clutter. Glad to hear your friend managed to reason you out of your regret! 🙂

    • Hi Janet perhaps a case of Space Allocation or in your case limitation is in order for your writing notes. Being as you admitted yourself you are taking more notes than are actually writing, maybe you should limit the ideas folder to just that small size. Any ideas that have been there for a long time that haven’t been used should be ditched.

      I find notes to be a form of aspiration clutter. I jot down ideas for writing posts in my trusty note book, then months later find the list and usually tear it out and throw it in the recycling bin. Often the enthusiasm for the idea and the inspiration that triggered my to write the note have long passed or been forgotten and the not mean nothing to me anymore.

    • Jane W – once upon a time, I donated a box of old ringbinders to the school and then a couple of months later needed ONE ringbinder. The good news is that it cost me less than $5 to remedy. It is a funny thing but the things that people get the most hung up on with ‘just in case’ can be repurchased for under $10. But yes I can see that the short time difference between decluttering one and requiring would be annoying. If you do decide to buy another folder… one that you think is totally cool and fun looking.

  5. Hi Cindy ! I can certainly empathise as I ‘m sure I would feel a bit sad and regretful too -but a couple of thoughts -as you say its only a case of they “might ” have been the right size -and how annoying if they weren’t ! And secondly -I wonder if your daughter would have felt as excited as you would have felt to be wearing your shoes .The good feeling might have been all one way – she might be secretly relieved to be getting her own new pair ! And finally – I bet someone out there just loves those shoes you gave away – they have had a useful and productive existence instead of sitting in darkness waiting “just in case “. So, well done and I hope you will be feeling fantastic again and not sad at all!

  6. Hi everyone! I think today´s post reminded me of the “might need it someday” syndrome that I sometimes suffer from. I was thinking those thoughts about a large and really old sweater I own. Too old, doesn’t look bad, but it has seen a lot of better days. I decided to let it go, along with lots of other pieces of clothing. And I have been thinking that I might regret it sooner or later. However I accessed what I am keeping and there are plenty sweaters there for the most bitter winter. So if I need a sweater someday I have other and don´t need to keep that one. I did not have the chance to comment on yesterday´s post, but this post has an element parallel to yesterday’s (no pun intended 😀 ) : letting go of some stuff can help us move forward and can be fundamental in changing past behaviours and recognizing we changed and bringing our environment in harmony with ourselves.

    • You have come a long way Andréia. I think you should print that last sentence out in large bold print and hang it on the back of the toilet door where you can read it over and over again in quiet contemplation.

    • Andreia – wow you’ve come a long way. Last weekend we had all of Courtney’s stuff out on her bed as she was having problems fitting everything in. I knew what the problem was, or at least part of the problem that she could fix, when we folded and piled everything in same-item piles ie tshirts in one pile, sweatshirts in another pile etc etc, she had this towering pile of winter pyjamas. Because she got to see it visually she realised that that was the area to deal with.

      Sometimes I do this for myself, although I have a smaller number of clothes, just to make sure that I’m not creating a deficit somewhere else in my wardrobe by having too many of something or too much of a particular colour or style.

      In honour of you getting rid of a sweatshirt, I too will get rid of one that I have been undecided over.

    • Andreia, you have come a long way. I think it is great how you are seeing things. I don’t own a sweater but I will get rid of a blouse in support of you.

  7. Hi Cindy, yet another great post and it has elicited some great responses too.

    I would say that there have been about half a dozen items that have been decluttered from my home over the last three years that we late had a use for. I wouldn’t call it regret though because in most cases we just borrowed or found a way around the situation. I think only one item was replaced and that is because we had two, decluttered one and the other failed. It was only a $3 internet splitter.

    • It was hard for me to give the shoes up in the first place, which is probably why the regret stabbed me in the heart.

      • Cindy in honour of this post, I will get rid of a pair of ballet shoes I have kept from childhood in my ‘keepers’ box. Can safely say I will not be needing them again.

    • I have not regretted anything we have decluttered. Mom has a couple of times but that is because she thinks she has to have the exact item while I find her something to use instead and she calms down.

  8. Right – dancing shoes. This is soooo up my alley. Here is my take on it. Cindy, I feel your pain as I know that dancing shoes are expensive. But some time has past and I’m hoping that you sold the other shoes? And if so the money no doubt was used for something useful that was needed at the time. If you gave them away, I’m sure good things have returned regardless.

    I also understand that there is no guarantee she will stick to dancing. I work in the shoe and uniform store of our dance school a couple of days a week doing shoe fittings and its a common comment from new parents. And yes I feel their pain especially when their child is taking up something like tap shoes which are expensive and a percentage don’t stick at it. There is always ebay if that happens.

    I notice you say they might have fit her. Might. Feet are funny things. Dance shoes are a whole different creature compared to a street shoe, its a shoe that has a specialised job to do and the wrong shoe can result in injury or damage. Feet on girls are such a weird mix of mum and dad’s feet. Just for fun tonight get yourself, your husband and your daughter to compare bare feet.

    Especially around 12-14 as they are growing a lot and haven’t really settled into their final proportions, feet change shape as the body grows – and as a girl gets hips, her feet often broaden as feet are the balance platform. I often sneak a peek at the mother’s feet to compare, especially if they are similar in build. There are a lot of shape feet, different shaped heels, different toe lengths, different toe placements – everyone single person has something quirky about their feet.

    So where I am going with all this: they might have fit, they might not have fit. They might have been the right length, but they may not have been the right width or right foot placement for her. With dancing shoes I always recommend getting them fit properly, I have seen some nasty damage come of ill-fitting shoes.

    Also shoe technology changes constantly, sports science has done amazing things with dancing shoes, even in the eleven years that I have been involved either as a ballet mum or working in the shoe shop. What was considered an elite jazz shoe five years ago is now an entry level shoe.

    OK the good news. Feet are the first things to stop growing. Often girls around 12 and 13 have yet to grow into an adult body but they have these full grown feet. At age 13 if her feet haven’t stopped growing then they will likely be on their last round of growth. Its not the rule, but it is pretty usual.

    Some girls go up half a size later in teens when they naturally put on a bit more weight, but that is usually older teens. It is usually that they need a bit more width in the shoe.

    So Cindy, its ok. You don’t have to keep everything and from a dance shoe perspective I would say there was probably not the greatest of odds that they would have fit perfectly anyway.

    • Moni,
      So true, I always recommend to a mum that if their child is just starting then get a 2nd hand pair of tap shoes and see if they want to stick with it. Kids grow so fast and the shoe hardly gets worn whilst they learn. Really good dancers are spotted and they do more classes so the shoes get a work out. I absolutely agree with ill fitting shoes, especially dance shoes, can cause further problems. I did ballroom and I had my own new shoes and in comparison to other dancers I was ‘light on my feet’ where as others were hard on the toe side or rolled on the outside. Also, shoes have the owners imprint, and as a 2nd hand pair they may not hold the next foot. I do say to mum’s that it’s okay while the kiddies are little, but once you know they want to do it for more than 1-2 months then get them fitted. I talk only of jazz and tap shoes. Ballet shoes, being that most teachers wait till the student has either reached an age or skill level to go on ‘pointe’, an experienced ballet shoe fitter is required. I also let mums know that, even with all the prep for ballet shoes, it isn’t going to be fool proof. We have one student that went through a few designs and makers before finding one that was the ‘right fit’. Although they may feel great in the shop and going up on pointe it felt right. Nothing lets you know quicker than a ballet barre and then a class of pointe, whether your pointe shoes are it!!! It can become a rather expensive affair.
      I bought my son the latest greatest flex tap shoes, only to find with his height and build, flex was not the way to go. same with jazz shoe sneakers. Oh man, he was back in softs before you could utter ‘ Sh-jazz’!!!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 I’m so glad you take the time to ‘fit’ the girls and guys if it so happens that way. Foot health is so important as we still need to walk around even if dancing becomes a thing of the past!!

      • Dizzy – I don’t do pointe shoes, it would be too expensive to stock the range of styles, sizes and widths required to give the girls the variety required to get a good fitting. Plus, I don’t have the level of training that would be required. When I take my girls for pointe shoe fittings – and we have to drive 3 hours (but now that their feet have stopped growing we just re-order) – the shop owner chats away as she fitting them, she especially marvels over the differences between my two girl’s feet even though they are very similar in general physically.

        Yes foot imprint is a major thing too, especially with ballet shoes – flats and pointe shoes. Tap shoes, my two girls have the same size shoe but they can tell straight away if they’ve put on the wrong shoes just by how they feel.

        That’s another thought – my girls have had pretty well the same size feet growing up – there’s only 13 months between them and the younger has always had an ambitious foot length, so I had to buy two pairs of everything each year, (a) because of foot imprint and (b) because the younger keeps her room as a rats nest and constantly loses things in there which wasn’t fair on the OCD neat older sister.

    • Moni, this is such an interesting comment. So much good info about feet and how we need to realize how different we all are. My mother and I could never wear the same shoe. She is very skinny feet and they are 1-1/2 sizes larger than mine. Mine are super small but a little wider then hers. The only way mine match hers is that neither of us have much in the way of a heel.

    • Oh Moni, you’re my best girl today!

  9. I think it is the loss of that feeling of gratitude that you get when you give something to someone, not so much holding on to the items and then having decluttered it before it becomes useful again.

    Imagine how you would feel giving the shoes to your daughter. Imagine retelling the story at dance lessons that they were once your ballroom shoes and how clever you were to keep them all this time. Imagine the relief at not having to spend money on a new pair.

    Perhaps it is like the gambler who shouts from the rooftops when he wins, but sulks in the corner when he loses. We all like to feel good about ourselves, maybe holding on to items for that ‘winning moment’ is not really that good for us.

    Maybe we should look at the other person involved in the story. The recipient , imagine how some of us would feel if we mentioned we like something and the next thing we have got twenty of them on our doorstep? Imagine your daughter getting married , looking forward to getting a wedding dress of her own and you drag out your ‘1982 Bonnie Tyler lace and satin, long sleeved creation’. Proudly saying you kept it for her to wear!
    This comment is aimed at myself. I hope I read it 😉

    • Wendy F – LOL you made me laugh with the Bonnie Tyler creation. Yes, the recipient isn’t always thrilled to actually be on the receiving item of such items.

    • Oh Wendy F, you hurt my heart!!! 😀 😀 😀 I would never, ever want to impose my dress upon a daughter, but as I don´t have a daughter (nor the dress), I can´t really tell… My wedding dress was rented from a very nice shop and the best part about it, is that it was returned right after the wedding so there was no chance whatsoever of keeping it, which was wonderful, to my now uncluttered self! 😀 😀 😀 I have dwelled , from time to time, in keeping stuff for my children´s future use. I was asking around and was told that good man´s suits should definitively be a keeper. My husband has two of those that don´t fit anymore. I would like to know everyone´s thoughts. As for my own clothing, I am not keeping it, because, let´s face it, man´s suits are all the same, but dresses are so unique that I want an eventual daughter to have the pleasure to choose her own!!! 😀 😀 😀

      • You are so lucky not to have a wedding dress lurking in the cupboard, haunting you Andrea. 🙂
        My advice on the suits is; don’t keep them.
        My wedding dress and my husbands suit that he wore to our wedding fitted our son and daughter when they were 12 and 14! I was 22 and my husband 28 when we got married. So you could keep those suits for years, pull them out for that special occasion and ??? they don’t fit.
        The suit I purchased for our eldest son when he was 16 has served him and his younger brother for their 4 school formals , assorted job interviews and sadly a couple of funerals. There was no way he would have appreciated me dragging a suit out of the cupboard for him to wear. (Actually , I think I tried, but it didn’t fit him:)) .
        I hope your heart gets better soon:). 💝💝💝💚❤💚💙💛

        • Apologies Andre’ia, I misspelt your name . ❤

        • Thanks Wendy F, it is great advice and yes my heart is not hurt anymore! 😀 😀 😀
          As Cindy has put it in her post I am putting off decluttering those suits because they might fit my children one day. But as I just written to Moni, I have been dressing my children up since they were born and I am not going to dress them down when they are older just for the sake of old suits.

      • Andreia, Andreia, Andreia…… you already KNOW what I’m going to say. 🙂 My friend your gorgeous son is only 5, and it will be at the least 10-15 years before he will fit them, and that is IF isn’t shorter, taller, broader or ???

        Just for fun I googled 1998 Mens fashions ie 15 years ago. Granted the 90’s are in a league of their own for fashion tragedy, but that should give you an idea of how much out of fashion they will be. I got carried away and kept going back in 15 year blocks…… It was surprising how much suits have changed thru the years.

        Adrian has a suit that is 5 years old and it looks a bit dated and now lacks the ‘wow you look great’ factor when he puts it on. Hmmm, there’s another idea for Fathers Day.

        Also you will need to have them drycleaned every couple of years to keep them in good condition, even if it is stored.

        I vote to let them go. Make room for something new in your life.

        You could either sell them OR I have heard of charities which take old suits and put them in the hands of men trying to get back into the work force and can’t afford a suit.

        I have just asked my son, he’s 18, if he wants his dad’s old suit, even if just for funerals, functions etc. He was very quick with a no thanks, he said he’d rather buy one that looks good. Ouch! And he’s someone who is a fan of a freebie!

        • You so burst my bubble Moni!!! 😀 😀 😀 Here I was anticipating keeping those suits in my closet for the next 8-10 years and you tell me they will not want it??? Oh craps…I will have a talk to my husband about the future of the suits. He said that one is a classic and looks really good, although he has to lose 25kg to fit into it again. He said he wants to keep it to encourage him to lose weight (go figure…), but the other one and a couple of long dresses will go. You are right, I would never, ever let my children walk of the house looking less than great. I don’t accept it now I will not accept it in 8-12 years. When the time comes I will dress them up as I have done until now.

          • Andreia – Dayna had the School Formal last year which is sort of an entry level School Ball (Prom) though not quite such a formal event, just held in the school hall not a formal event centre. Anyway it was the first time she’d seen her male classmates in suits and she came home gushing about how great they’d looked. This year was her School Ball and once again, the guys in suits got just as much comment as what the girls were wearing. I think the guys were surprised at how putting in a bit of effort for their appearance made such an impact with the ladies!

            When Jordy went to his School Ball, we rented a suit. It took nearly two hours (I’d allowed for 30 mins) while they showed him the options and got him to try on different options and sizes and combinations of shirts and ties and waistcoats etc. And WOW he looked great because it fit him perfectly. It probably would have been better value to buy him a suit but guys grow so fast at that age and he really didn’t know what to ask for, so the lady in the suit hire shop was great and had a lot of knowledge about what suited (pardon the pun) what body types. It was almost as much work as a wedding dress! Its the way I would go again.

            So yes when your son goes to his Prom you’ll want him to look a million bucks!

            25kgs. OK, I haven’t let go of that much weight but am on the home run. I want new, modern, suits the body I have now type clothes and age appropriate. And just because we lose that amount doesn’t mean that we return to proportions we were the last time we were that weight. Trust me on that one. Trust me, if he loses 25kgs he’ll want something new and smart as a reward.

      • Andreia – I still have my wedding dress, only because I don’t know what else to do with it! My girls are about six inches taller than me but it was a 1992 poofy creation – not even what I wanted! LOL I bought the fabric and a pattern, and my mum sewed a different pattern that she prefered. I could ditch it, but there is space for it, so I’m leaving it be for now.

        • Moni – declutter that 90’s creation right at this moment! 😀 😀 😀 At least my husband´s suits was bought in 2002 and it is outdated, but not ANCIENT and I will consider (with him) decluttering it. You could always give it away to be made a custom out of it. You are not ready to let the dress go? Don’t keep something just because you have space to do it. As you just told me:
          “I vote to let it go. Make room for something new in your life.”
          Think about it.

          • Andreia – you are a laugh – yes I probably will probably ditch it, did you read my comment yesterday about the old tradition my friend’s family brought with them from Denmark? A bonfire and everyone hiffs on objects that represent a block in their life on the fire or something they need to let go of? A friend of a friend of a friend went thru a messy divorce and she hiffed hers on the fire. We all got the message. Anyway, I thought since it was soooo symbolic to our circle of friends that I’d better hang onto mine for now, Adrian might take it the wrong way. I definately think hiring a wedding dress would be a lot easier.

        • I kept my wedding dress for 20+ years because I thought that was what you were supposed to do. When I started decluttering I let it go, but of course it was ridiculously out of fashion and could only be used for a silly costume, unless someone was talented at reusing the fabric. I never had a daughter, but if I did I’m sure she wouldn’t want the poof and lace 80s wedding dress…and what are the chances of a daughter being the same size anyway? I think I should have given it up right away after my wedding, so maybe someone else could have used it at the time.
          On the other hand, my mom kept her dress and just took some lovely photos at her 50th anniversary…yes, it still fit! (I was tiny when I got married, and not tiny after I had children, so there was no way I would ever get into my dress again!)

          • I got rid of my first wedding dress fairly soon after I got married (the first time). A family friend asked if they could borrow it for a young relative in Poland. Back in the 80’s, a fancy wedding dress was way too expensive in Poland and this family could not afford the money for fabric to make one. I happily donated my big, poufy, lace dress, and trimmings. I later heard that the dress was used by several other brides in Poland.

            I loved Moni’s comments about the bonfire. I had a bonfire with my wedding pictures – very therapeutic I must say. The other thing that works is shredding.

            I don’t have any old dancing shoes, but I know I have all my old ballroom dancing medals from when I was a kid. You all just reminded me that I obviously don’t need them. I am sure they are in a plastic storage bin somewhere in the garage along with the jewelry I no longer wear. Now I have another project to work on:)

    • Wendy F – you made me laugh ! 🙂

  10. I can say that I only miss one thing that I have gotten rid of, and I have gotten rid of a lot. It was not anything useful and along with everything that has left my home, it was not anything that my boys would ever want. Yes, tis better to let it go!

  11. Although the just in case syndrome is one we work hard to eradicate, it still lingers and rears its ugly head now and then. I am so glad your friend helped you to see through your relapse.

    p.s. I too love ballroom dancing, and have spent many hours in lessons and on the floor, and am now enjoying teaching my fiancé all that I remember. It is such a lovely pastime. I hope your daughter enjoys herself.