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Tuesday, January 7, 2014


There's this song by Garth Brooks that I listen to almost every single day during my drive home from carpool called "More Than A Memory" (lyrics by Lee Brice, Kyle Jacobs, and Billy Montana).

Two lines get to me every single time.

"Took a match to everything she ever wrote,
Watched her words go up in smoke."

I'm very picky about music and not particularly a country music fan. ("Very picky about music" is code for completely tone deaf with absolutely no rhythm.) But these particular lines draw me in each morning. They are haunting.

Imagine, if you will, taking a match to all the things you write in your planner. No more archiving. No memories for your descendants. No records for the courts to subpoena.

Half of you just cried (or vomited), right?

(The other half of you probably just either had a blank look or smirked a little. I call those people my family and real life friends. These strange, wonderful people who don't use planners should substitute the word pictures
 throughout this post whenever they see the word planner.)

I'm a writer. I am seriously working on two novels and outlining two others. I write details in my planner constantly. I do archive my planner pages, despite my hints at destruction that presumably just scared you.

But I also see the value in discarding things that are not worth saving.

Today, I discarded last week's household management page. Yes, I did EVERYTHING listed on it first.

You see, while my planner pages are really important for both sentimental and practical reasons, my simple list of household goals for the week is not very useful in the future. By tossing the household stuff, I can find other archived information much easier.

I also sorted through lots of tote bags and got rid of any with holes or that I never, ever use. Purging the bags inadvertently confirmed, when I found Mouse droppings (vomit...vomit...vomit), that I am indeed allergic to our furry house guest enemy.

I saved the turkey broth from yesterday's turkey (and made homemade turkey soup with roasted veggies and pasta), but tossed the carcass (outside, so not as to attract Mouse).

I set up my new desk that my husband got me for Christmas. Yes, I have an actual place to write now.

My desk is a place that closes up to hide the mess. Too bad I didn't hide the unfolded laundry on the couch in this picture. Or, you know, take down the Christmas tree. Just reminding my Loyal Readers that perfection is not the goal. {wink} Still, I purged lots of desk accessories that I haven't used in five years (mostly to give to charity).

I put the printout of my first novel on that desk, and backed it up on a flash drive and via e-mail, since my writing is meant to be saved. 

I trashed lots of old law books and magazines because some things are clearly not worth saving. (Law school is a tortured nightmare that no human should endure.) I did keep the law books that deal directly with my field of juvenile law, have extensive personal notes, or are general legal writing guides, since those are likely going to be used again at some point.

I don't object to hanging on to important or meaningful stuff. It's critical, though, to get rid of the other stuff, so that you can locate the important or meaningful. How do you decide what is important or meaningful?

Personally, I am quite practical and somewhat sentimental. That balance, and knowing that information about my own personality, serves as a clear guideline for me.

I have every card my husband ever gave me and every letter he wrote me during our long, lonely summers apart. I married at 21, but probably should have married earlier. I need him to breathe.

I even keep pictures from high school, even when they are of ex-boyfriends or long lost friends. After all, I want to remember who I was because that girl made me who I am today.

A few years ago, my mom gave me a notebook that she found in her attic. An old friend had written to me when we were flirting during Christmas break of my senior year. In the interest of full disclosure, the guy in this true story eventually became a high school boyfriend; I didn't start dating my husband until college. There is no romantic interest lingering, by my ex-boyfriend or by me, but this notebook was a mesmerizing glimpse at high school angst, passionate beliefs, and the fascinating transformation from child to adult. I kept it. Some things were meant to be saved. 

But old pressed flowers, cards without personal writing, and even my prom glasses got tossed.

The thing about saving stuff is that you need to actually make decisions. This is one area where I don't like a purging list or hard and fast rules. Some people would never save something from an old relationship. That's perfectly fine. Some people would never throw away a photo from childhood. Perfect.

Just make sure that you can 1) justify and explain your decisions regarding what you save and 2) get rid of enough stuff that you can find the important and the meaningful. Your reasons, whatever they are, are good enough.



Christina T. said...

I love that desk. Do you know where your hubby got it from? Also, I think this is my first time commenting. I love your blog and your planner set-up and ideas. My level of stress has significantly reduced as a result of setting up AND using my planner. It's amazing. Now I just need to figure out a good system for organizing my work/projects at work. I'm a legal assistant. :D

Giftie Etcetera said...

He got from Amazon. We have a small house, so it had to be really vertical.

I am a lawyer, but I think legal assistant is a much more demanding job. It helps if you boss(es) actually leave you alone to organize and don't fight your system!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for responding. We have a small house too and not room for a traditional style desk. I've been trying to come up with something clever for years now. This just might work for us. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

For Christina, if not too late.