So I did it! They're gone, gone, GONE! Saturday night I went through my college textbooks and class notes and had a major purge fest. Whew! It felt good. I needed something that I could get done and get done fast. I was in a crummy mood --- the perfect mood for me to do some purging.
Why is a crummy mood good for me? Well, I was frustrated with a few things ... and this project was a way of regaining control. I was completely in control of what to keep and what not to keep. I can SEE progress with a project like this ... where once there were boxes full of indecision, in just a couple of hours, decisions and progress were made. By being in a crummy mood --- I was bit less sentimental and more task oriented. I simply wanted to get it done. Why do I share all of this? Well ... you may find it useful to think about the best mood for the different tasks on your to do list. When your mood is in sync with the task at hand --- major stuff gets done and it's a whole lot of fun!
I started the project at 10:15 PM ... right after taking a shower. (Not the best time to sort through dusty boxes, but I was a woman on a mission.) I grabbed my buddy Sam, a couple of empty boxes, and a trash bag and pulled the boxes of books down from the shelves in my basement. Getting rid of the books, for the most part was easy. I was ready. Goodbye Accounting! Goodbye Finance! Farewell Statistics, Information Systems, and Business, Government and Society! Easy, easy, easy. Marketing ... not so easy. I kept three of those and one on business strategy ... I'll keep them around for a year and if I don't look at them during the year ... they're history (no pun intended.) I also kept two undergraduate books about packaging ... more for posterity sake.
Almost all of my undergrad notebooks and binders are gone. I kept creative writing papers from my senior year (very interesting) and handful (OK a bit more than that) of notebooks, artwork, notes from my mom and other things my mom collected for me through out my school years. I have a milk crate and a half full of this stuff, which I'll go through sometime to make a scrapbook. So really, a lot of this stuff was out of the scope of the project. I feel really good about keeping it and going through it in finer detail someday in the future.
I have to tell you ... I was dreading this project. I tried one other time to let go of this stuff but just couldn't bring myself to do it. All in all it was a pretty fun project. Here are some of the treasures I found ...
I always believed my handwriting had gotten worse with age but come to find out it was pretty crummy when I was younger, until grad school. I can not believe how neat my notes were in grad school ... no wonder people wanted to borrow them!
We had just gotten an AOL account when I was getting my M.B.A. I thought it was so cool to be able to do research at home. Isn't that funny?
Then I came across this:
A brown binder. At first I thought ... huh, I don't remember that. But then I laughed thinking "I was just so far ahead of my time!" So I opened it up only to find ... it wasn't mine! I accidentally pulled down one of Jay's boxes of school books. (Before me, there was only one color for everything in Jay's life --- from furniture to towels to dishes --- and that was brown. Not even I knew this love of brown extended to vinyl three-ring binders!)
Short stories I wrote in high school. In my mind I didn't know I had written anything creatively until senior year in college. That was the first time I remember someone enjoying my writing. Isn't that interesting ... it was there before and I didn't know it.
I came across magazine clippings from when I was in high school. I've always been a huge fan of magazines (OK -- I'm obsessed with them) and it was funny to see the things I cut out. Get this ... there was an article from 1987 on ... organizing closets! That's a keeper for sure.
The other great thing I came across were these pictures and a note from my Mom. It talks about how nicely I cleaned out my closet! I remember loving to clean out (a.k.a. organize) my closet as a little girl. What a treat to find evidence of that via my Mom's sweet note. Another keeper.
After the Saturday night purge fest, the next morning I loaded the notebooks and binders into my car (along with two eager helpers known as my kids) and we headed to the recycle dumpster ... where we proceeded to tear the pages from my notebooks. They thought this was the greatest fun since ... oh ... going to the water park (and I'm not kidding. They were sad when we were done and asked if we could do it again some time. Uh --- not likely.) As I looked into the dumpster I thought "a whole lot of my life is in this dumpster ... no its not, my whole life is out here ... helping me fill this dumpster." And isn't that the truth? The attachment to these things, to the past is so interesting in light of my very full and happy present life. It was time to let go of a little bit of the past ... keeping only those things that provide perspective and comfort. In the process, my kids and I made some wonderful new memories of a Sunday afternoon spent at the recycle dumpster. Go figure ;)
Today ... we donated the text books to the local university library ... this time with one little helper who also stood in as my photographer. It's really quite funny to see a little girl behind a big camera, thus my big grin. (Yes, I'm happy to get rid of the books, but come on, that grin is a bit overboard, don't you think?)
Boy ... this post has been an awful lot about me. You're probably bored to tears. So in an attempt to salvage the post here are some nuggets for you.
Think about your own projects ... what is the ideal mood for you to really dig in and make progress? Next time you're feeling that way ... see if you can't dive in and just get it done.
Go on a treasure hunt in your stash of books, notes, binders and so on. Which things are truly special and deserve a happier home than in a box in your basement? What stories do those treasures tell about you? What dreams did you have as a young person that you're living today? Which dreams need to be resurrected? What beliefs did you have about yourself in the past? Do you still have them today? I hope you'll take this journey ... I think you'll find it to be a lot of fun!
I'm really excited about all of you that have taken the 12 week challenge! I can't wait to hear from you as your projects get wrapped up, too! (Email me if you're getting stuck somewhere ... I'd love to help you get the momentum going again.) Or maybe, like me, all you need is one grumpy evening to get it done!
Now ... I'm on to chores!