105 Ways to Give a Book

What Happens on Wednesdays...

...stays on Wednesdays.

Recently I started a decluttering process for the house. Well, that isn’t completely accurate, because I feel like I’ve been making decluttering attempts for most of my adult life. But now that I’m not working, I actually have the time and energy to deal with things on more than a superficial, get-it-out-of-the-way level.

It hasn’t been easy, and it’s certainly slow going. I’ve always had an attachment to Things that makes it very hard to get organized. Getting rid of things is the hardest, but I’m gaining ground. I’ve donated a bunch of books to a local organization that puts them in the hands of needy children. I’ve also brought them my daughters’ outgrown clothes. I’ve recycled piles of magazines that were pushed “out of the way” but now seem in the way as I want a cleaner space.

Sorting various things is the hardest job so far. It takes me forever, and when I’m done — no matter how much it seems that I’ve thrown out — it doesn’t seem like I’ve made much progress. But at least in this job there is one mini-bonus: It’s like a little archaeological dig.

I tend to keep “important” papers together to deal with them and shuffle through them from time to time to find what I need. In this shuffling, some get tossed or used or filed and so the pile shrinks. It’s like compost. All the leftover papers end up in a plastic filing drawer, pretty much in the order they were as I was kinda sorta dealing with them. So now, as I’m going through these drawers, I’m finding three-year-old school essays, birthday cards, random photos, news articles, report cards, and my daughter’s drawings.

I love this.

It takes a lot of time to shuffle through it again and remove things that are now useless and/or bulky. Old class catalogs, random magazines, school newsletters, junk mail, and reminders for events long past. But I love these little looks into the past all contained in handfuls of paper. What we were doing in 2008 is reflected in this seemingly random collection of paper that includes an editorial about Obama’s election, several drawings of fairies, a presentation about the solar system, a map from Disney World, a photo of our baby tree, and flyers from school plays.

I’ll keep decluttering. I’ll keep culling papers. But I am keeping my piles.


The Pen and Ink Blog said...

It IS amazing what you find in those piles. Every once in a while I conduct my own archeological dig. One of my more interesting ones concerned a frantic search for an unfilled legal pad which I needed for a class that night. I found one with some of my old "morning pages" from five years earlier. In reading through them I discovered that not one problem that I worried about in those pages was still in my life. It was a real eyeopener.

Carey Hagan said...

I love how you illustrate your archeological digs and pile transfers - I thought I was alone in these maneuvers. I think you deserve a new title: you're an archivist with ongoing historical research and preservation projects. :)

Carin S. said...

I do that too - keep a pile of important papers and shuffle through it when I need something. I do though need to file it every 4-6 months or so, and I find inspiration in the TV show Hoarders. It's excellent background noise while I'm filing, and inspires me to keep going!

MotherReader said...

I tried to watch the show Hoarders but it was too scary for me. I've done better with TLC's Clean Sweep in the past and now Enough Already with Peter Walsh from Oprah's network. Enough Already, goes into some of the reasons that people are holding onto stuff, and that psychological aspect appeals to me. And speaks to me.

I'm glad not to be alone in my little paper piles. There is even a word for it in the organizing/hoarding lingo - "churning," - which feels appropriate.