Paper Reduction Project – update

My “Paper Reduction Project” continues as I open box #13 today. More than forty-seven pounds of file documents were shredded this week. Seven boxes, filled with old files, rambling journal pages, and too-old financial reports from past businesses, await pick-up by garbage trucks. Only one re-consolidated box, sorted and recombined from three others, was put in the storage shed. At least it’s out of the garage.

The documents, binders, photos, and files I choose to keep for the moment – until I go through them again page-by-page – are integrated into the house files, bookshelves, and office supply cabinet. The crowding impact of too much stuff in my small office and all around me is definitely a motivating factor to complete this project as quickly as possible.

The additional visual clutter so near to my creative space is also influencing me to become more minimalistic. I look around our home (especially the garage) and am making a mental list of all the other possessions that will be released in the weeks ahead. We’ve been dragging this excess stuff around for far too many years.

What I learned from this experience

As I perused the pages of long-ago journals, it became painfully clear that I do not need to revisit certain memories. I had kept those partially filled booklets and notebooks as a way to measure my growth as a person. I thought some of the stories might eventually show up in my books and serve as examples of how much I’d grown and what I’d learned. Wisdom to share with children and grandchildren. Truth is, they have their own lessons to learn and stories to remember.

I no longer believe it necessary to journal (on paper) every painful or “ah-ha” moment for posterity. The fact is, I don’t need to relive the pain and tears of those unhappy circumstances to appreciate who I am today. The occasional memory that crops up in conversation is enough to serve as a reminder of how hard I’ve worked to overcome childhood and adult traumas and live some semblance of normalcy in today’s world. The happy times are reflected in photos and triggered by family conversations. Those times are forever rooted in my heart.

I can tuck a memory into a document on my computer. I can share thoughts via an occasional blog or social media posting to self-measure my progress. The digital options mean that such expressions will only be around for as long as my website exists. Or I do. No more boxes of paper to sort through. No more dragging around forgotten or outdated information. Not only will my surroundings be less cluttered, but I’m sure my heirs will appreciate this obsessive effort to eliminate all these boxes of paper.

I will continue the self-improvement path to my last breath. Any emotional or psychological progress of healing expresses through me now, as the woman I am. If there is more work to be done, I’m sure I’ll recognize it – or someone else might point it out. How I feel or think about myself, how I am being in the world or interacting with others, keeping my side of the street clean, maintaining a spiritual connection with the Divine . . . those efforts must be the focus and the highest priority for a positive, contented, and fulfilling life.