My life, through the shredder

This past weekend, my husband and I purged a ton of stuff from our home. We didn’t set out to do so, but we bought a Wii. Somehow this meant we needed a new tv, only the tv didn’t fit on our entertainment center, so we had to buy a new one which only emphasized the disorganization of the desk sitting next to it.

Performing a lobotomy would be less complicated.

Once we procrastinated long enough rearranged most of the furniture in our home and wore out the Wii, we were faced with the task of trying to organize the mess on our desk.

Along with that came the task of sorting through piles and piles of papers that we have held onto in fear of audits or letters claiming that we had or had not taken care of something.

Perhaps we expected The Paperwork Police to show up at our door and demand to see a receipt from October 23rd 1997. I don’t know. I just live the life. I don’t pretend to understand it.

It was absurd looking over what we had held onto.

A lot of it was items that we weren’t about to just throw away without shredding first, so Monday afternoon, I spent a good chunk of time shredding said documents. (Though, I have to admit, it is rather humorous to consider someone diving through a nasty smelly dumpster and finding our info and using it to try to obtain credit only to find out that our credit STINKS!!! Sweet niblets – that thought cracks me up)

As I sat there shredding (and shredding and shredding and shredding) I was struck by the memories that each of those pieces of paper held.

Mortgage paperwork from our first home.

Loan paperwork for the first car we purchased as a married couple.

Insurance papers from each pregnancy.

Credit card statements reflecting purchases made long ago, each one eliciting a different memory: trips to the bookstore as a family, gas purchased on a family trip.

It was quite a trip, me sitting in the middle of the room reflecting on life and its fleetingness. Shredding it all.

And it was actually rather therapeutic, because before those documents were shredded, there was always a chance that I would come across those papers and romanticize what we once had. But that is not where I need to be. I don’t need to be looking back and thinking that those days were as good as it gets.

Because they weren’t.

While my life doesn’t look anything like it did on paper for all of those years, it is now so much richer and more lush.

Those papers may have been the springboard for where we are now, but they don’t define me.





  1. http://That%20lady%20with%206%20daughters says

    So very true. Your posts always uplift me.

    You know what; my bills don’t define me either.

    Thank you for that today.

  2. http://oh%20amanda says

    Good point! As fun as the past was, I agree, the present is better!

  3. http://Kelly%20@%20Love%20Well says

    We did a house-wide purge last when in preparation for a move into a smaller place. It was a ton of work, but ultimately, it was so freeing.

    Those childhood stuffed animals I’ve been storing ever since we got married? Gone.

    Old yearbooks that I never look at? Gone.

    Clothes I don’t wear, books I don’t read, kitchen appliances I don’t use, decorating items that don’t fit my style anymore? Gone, gone, gone.

    Like you said, those things were important to me at one time. But this is my now. It’s the most important. I want to treasure my past, but sometimes, that means looking forward more than looking back.

  4. http://Tanna%20Clark says

    Beautiful post! This is exactly what my clients go through when we are organizing and sometimes it is so hard to let go of those items, but so true you cannot let the past define who you are going to be in the future. If we all did that many of us would be lost.

  5. http://Sarah says

    I had this exact experience this weekend – only less insightful! We cleaned our attic, one junk desk, and the garage. I tell you, if I never have to clean again it will be too soon.

    Anyway, we purged so much perfectly good stuff that we now have to have a garage sell – or hire a truck to take it to the Salvation Army!

    Thanks for the uplifting post – your words are too true.

  6. http://Kelly%20-%20PTT says

    That’s a great post. I don’t hold onto “stuff”, but I do tend to hold onto papers like that. But you’re right – they don’t define me, they’re just a snapshot of a moment in my life.

    Way to declutter.

    Does this comment show the email?

  7. http://Elizabeth says

    awesome! it’s like detoxing your house!

  8. http://BOTB says

    Do you know how happy it makes me to know I wasn’t the only one stuck in a pile of crap that needed to be sorted through and thrown away this weekend?

  9. http://Breanne%20Vasquez says

    I know – I have a large box full . It is the shred pile. The shredder broke the last time I tried to tackle the shred pile so it just keeps growing.

  10. http://Heidi%20@%20GGIP says

    What a great post. I like how you took a menial job and made it meaningful.

  11. http://Christine says

    Wow, Karla…I could have written that. Except for the purchases…we aren’t there yet.

    But you know my story, and that I too sometimes look back and think of what we once had.

    I need a shredder.

  12. http://Saph says

    Boy do I need to do some purging!!!
    Do you have games for your Wii like Super Smash Bros Brawl?? If you do, let me know and we can play each other!!! :) You can add me to your Wii and vice versa and then we could send messages over the Wii. Isn’t that cool? :) I only have one friend added to my Wii and can always have more!

  13. http://Alyssa says

    I just have to ask were these papers from 1997 still on your desk or just in the office itself?

  14. http://seven says

    Testing, testing…

    (and by the way, I think it’s a good idea to shred old stuff that you’ll never need again. It frees you from so much crap around the house… good stuff)

  15. http://Laurel%20Wreath says

    When I left on vacation I made a bag full of items I need to shred. Now I just have to actually sit down and DO IT! The bag looks so daunting.

  16. http://Tabitha says

    I have a pile of papers that need to be shredded. At least I’m pretty sure I do since I have a pile of papers and most of it is probably junk.

  17. http://Jami says

    Way to go Karla! Doesn’t it feel great to have things more organized. I love that feeling… when it happens!!

    Love the new blog look by the way!


  18. http://Alli%20~Mrs.%20Fussypants says

    {karla} is the new Dooce.

  19. http://singalullaby says

    The new header is awesome :-)

    When I toss the paper pile, I actually feel lighter inside. Hhmmm….maybe this is the diet I should pursue!

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