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Debunking the Top 3 Myths About Our 'Stuff'

Heather Nickerson, Artifcts
August 17, 2022

As we approach the end of Artifcts’ first year in business, Ellen and I can’t help but get a little nostalgic about all the people whose paths we’ve crossed as we launched Artifcts into the world. Our collaborators have ranged from world travelers to authors to experts in home organization and downsizing. It’s an ever-growing group of people with one thing in common: ‘stuff.’ Lots and lots of stuff, and all the history, memories, and stories that go along with it.

Most of the time, our conversations evolve at a breakneck pace with one comment or observation very quickly leading to another and like magic, new Artifcts are born. Sometimes, however, we must first overcome skepticism related to our relationships with stuff or just sheer inertia. If you know anything about us, you know those hurdles don’t last long.

We have observed over the past year that most skepticism is directly related to three main myths about all our stuff. (And yes, even as Artifcts’ founders, we’re sometimes guilty of these too.)

Myth #1: No one wants my stuff.

Yes, it's been written about ad-nauseum in major print and digital publications, but we think based on our experience over the year, they’re missing the mark. True, your children may not want random pieces of furniture with no history, story, or memory associated with them, but, that dining room table, the one they grew up with, that’s probably a keeper. Love letters that Grandpa sent to Grandma during WWII? A family treasure.

Taking a moment to document and share the story, history, and memory behind the item makes it much more valuable and not just in the financial sense. We’re talking about heart value here, the emotional connection that binds one generation to the next. We often hear from Arti members that once they share the story, memory, or meaning behind the item, it suddenly goes from “No one wants it,” to “It’s been rehomed!” Sometimes even the most insignificant object can take on new meaning once the story is discovered. Click here to view the story behind co-founder Ellen Goodwin’s recently rehomed and repurposed treasure.


Myth #2: Photos are worth 1,000 words.

Sorry, Dear Reader, we beg to differ with you here. I spent an entire weekend at a genealogy conference listening to people talk about how they wished their ancestors had written more than just the date and, if they were lucky, who was in the photo. What was the story behind that pose? That trip? That house? Photos are only worth the words that are somehow (safely) attached to them.

Trust me, I know first-hand. I’m still trying to track down details of photos my mother saved from high school. Who, what, when, where, and most of all (to me at least), why? Why that photo? We can almost always guarantee winning over the most skeptical of skeptics when we share the photo example. Still curious? Take a look at one of @Grandmom’s public Artifcts to learn the story behind her photo.


Myth #3: I don’t have anything old, valuable, or otherwise “Artifct-able.”

Good try, but we’re not buying it. We’re redefining Artifcts together. Your Artifcts don’t have to be old, historically significant, or valuable. An Artifct is anything that has meaning to you. It’s that simple.

That drawer of birthday cards, love notes, and letters from my family and friends. Yep, all Artifcts. No monetary value whatsoever, but I’d be sad to lose them. Same thing with all my daughter’s artistic creations. Chances are she’s not going to be the next Picasso, but I cherish her paintings, drawings, and ceramics all the same. And if she happens to be the next Picasso? I’ll have the history and stories securely documented! Hello provenance.

We'd love to hear from you! What do you think? Convinced? Not convinced? Have another Artifcts myth you’d like us to bust? We’re game! And if you need only another little nudge or two, stay tuned. We have a lot more coming, including habit change tips, handy checklists, and even our first Arti Evening series!

Happy Artifcting!


© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

What's New at Artifcts
Gift Your Loved Ones a “Why”

Do not dismiss the power of answering the “Why?” Here are four of its superpowers: 


If you are going to make your niece cart around a sitting Buddha sculpture for her remaining days as part of your last will and testament, you could at least tell her why! 

That Artifct preserves the why!

Wills and estate plans by nature focus on the what and often neglect the why. And that’s if the will even references an itemized list of tangible assets! The reality then is loved ones may act out of obligation to respect your wishes and hang onto the items you give them but with a tinge of disgruntled acceptance. 


Imagine two people who feel equally attached to an object that once belonged to a deceased loved one. In the will, the object goes to one of those people. To squash any potential disappointment or misdirected anger at the recipient, the owner could share the why and explain the bond between the person and/or object and recipient. Closure, in this case, is another great gift of the why. 


Your loved ones truly do want to remember you. But memory is fickle. And sometimes, that's your own doing. Did you make up three different versions of events as to how that painting came into your collection? Did you ever tell the story? Set the record straight with any combination of photos, video, audio, and a brief (or long!) story as you Artifct the truth of that object. 

Your loved ones truly do want to remember you. But memory is fickle.


How many of you reading this have an up-to-date will or estate plan? Odds are you do not, at least according to a report from, which said that two out of three US adults and half of UK adults do not have a will.  

Introducing items you cherish into your plan and/or at least into the discussion if you're working with a real live estate planning attorney helps to ensure that your assets will be directed to the correct people, your wishes carried out. It also helps the professionals you rely on to guide you to better understand you and support the full scope of your financial, insurance, tax, and estate plans. 

Join us tomorrow as we discuss these themes and more during Evenings with Artifcts, with guest speaker Dutch Miller. RSVP now > 

Happy Artifcting! 


Did we miss a superpower of “why?” Let us know at and we may feature your addition! 

© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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The Evenings with Artifcts Series, Fall 2022

Throughout fall 2022, we're hosting Evenings with Artifcts on Thursday evenings. Our guests in this nine-part series dive into the world of 'stuff' and stories. Below we've provided a week by week feature for each speaker in the series and direct links to the speaker's Artifcts, other related ARTIcles by Artifcts, and the Evenings with Artifcts event recordings. 

Want to suggest a speaker for future live events? We'd love to hear from you! Please contact us at


Matt Paxton joins Evenings with Artifcts

Week 1: Matt Paxton (@IAMMATTPAXTON)

Host of the TV show Legacy List with Matt Paxton



Related content: 

- 15 Decluttering Targets for Artifcters

- Event replay on YouTube

Jeff Greenwald joins Evenings with Artifcts

Week 2: Jeff Greenwald (@Jeffji)

Acclaimed author, artist, photographer, and speaker



Related content:

Is That a Toy Camera?

- Not Sure What to Write? Tips from Jeff Greenwald

- Event replay on YouTube

Dutch Miller joins Evenings with Artifcts

Week 3: Dutch Miller (@Gardenboy)

Estate planner, hobby family historian, Smithsonian volunteer



Related content:

- Gift Your Loved Ones a "Why" (Coming soon!)

- Visit Event replay on YouTube > (Coming soon!)

Read more
Not Sure What to Write? Tips from Guest Jeff Greenwald

He's authored 1000s of articles, several books, and what's maybe the first known travel blog. And on Thursday night during Evenings with Artifcts Jeff Greenwald shared with us simple but powerful tips, and a healthy dose of perspective, to help us craft our own stories behind the objects of our lives.  

Watch the full Evenings with Artifcts event here.

  • It is hard to write about an object with no personal meaning but even harder when it has tremendous personal meaning. Bear that in mind and go easy on yourself. 

  • Start with something true. This is the trick to writing anything nonfiction. For example, start with a little line about where you got the object: “I bought this in a street market in Istanbul.” And from there go on to describe the scene a little bit and what happened there that connects you with the object.  

Start with something true.

  • Other starters for your Artifcts:  

        • Where were you when you acquired the object? 
        • Was it a gift? Who gave it to you? Tell a bit about them. What was your relationship with them that they felt they should give you a gift like that? “The moon Rocket was a gift for my friend Dave Mccutcheon, and he and I have been friends for many years and share a love of robots and spaceships and dinosaurs... all those things we loved when we were kids.” 
        • Why is it important to you?
        • What feelings does it evoke in you?
  • If a story comes to mind, you can just start jotting it down anywhere. Let your thoughts go where they will. It can be a collection of random thoughts that you can look at later and put together into some sort of a story structure. 

  • We all have stories. Writers block comes from our internal critic. It challenges you with, “Why would anybody want to read it? What could you have to say? What makes you think you're so great that anyone should listen to anything you're telling them?” You have to tell yourself, “I have a right to do this because I’m a human being with a story, and the story deserves to be told whether or not you, my internal critic, thinks that it does.” Push the internal critic aside. 
I’m a human being with a story, and the story deserves to be told.
  • If you value the stories and need motivation to begin capturing and preserving those stories with Artifcts, make a deal with yourself like Jeff did. Jeff made a pact to give away the objects once their stories were told. Maybe you’ll choose to Artifct twice per week. Or perhaps you’ll start with those items that are most meaningful to you.  

  • A bit of advice Jeff shared from esteemed author Kurt Vonnegut: Write your stories as though you are writing them for one person, as if you are telling this person each of the stories. It gives all the stories a similar tone, a singular voice. 

  • Always include when and where the object was acquired. These are important details.

  • Struggling with a title? Write out 10 of them. It will help you to start to shape your story, too.

Our stuff, the objects that we collect, that inspire us, they are really not what's important. We do not need to keep them. The only thing that is important are the stories, and the only way to keep the stories is to tell them.


© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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