Well It Goes Like This, I Shredded My Past. Hallelujah!

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Bifocal glasses, not mine, left on a picnic table in the park. Someone is not reading the fine print today.

• • •

SO LAST WEEK while stuck at home because of this, I decided to go through all the writing ditherage I’ve kept over the years.

Much of it was in boxes in the basement.

Lots of it was spiral notebooks from the late 90s to mid-2003 filled with my handwritten Morning Pages a la The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

I was diligent about my daily 3 page writing practice for a while there.

Just about all the notebooks contained a repetitive selection of whiny, self-absorbed, humdrum scribblings that suggest to me now I was stuck and unhappy during those years.

My inner muse had not caught my attention yet.  

• • •

AFTER SAVING THE few good or funny thoughts I’d captured years ago in these notebooks, I had an epiphany.  I thanked the writing practice for guiding me to today, then as a way of making my life lighter I shredded these notebooks.

Every last one of them gone.

Thus I’ve freed myself, literally and spiritually, from a bunch of heavy negativity that I’d been saving in boxes in the basement for over a decade.

I tell ‘ya, if you’re feeling burdened by life I recommend shredding outdated thoughts.  It may sound corny, but doing so has lifted a weight from me.  And I feel free to get on with that which needs to be written now.

Muse, lead the way.

• • •

Published by

Ally Bean

Observant. Creative. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Looking for the crumb of truth in the cookie of life.

43 thoughts on “Well It Goes Like This, I Shredded My Past. Hallelujah!”

  1. De- cluttering, no matter what the stuff–always makes me feel so much better. Sometimes it’s a tough call initially, but I’m always happier on the other side. Hooray for you!

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  2. Ha ha shredding the dreads! I’ve got diaries from a v e r y l o n g time ago I kid you not, all safely kept in a drawer. I think I’ve got rid of school reports from when Moses was a boy – but my notebooks I’ll keep for ever. My sister knows that those are the first things she must destroy by FIRE 💥 in the event of – Well done for getting rid of dead weight!

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    1. Susan, I know other women who have diaries from way back. Maybe that’s why I kept these notebooks for so long thinking I was supposed to do that. But as I read through what I wrote I thought thank goodness I did this writing practice, but now ’tis time to let it go.

      Your sister sounds like a good woman to agree to destroy all the evidence when the time comes!

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      1. There is a part of me that feels that I should save bits and pieces for future generations, but also a paranoid part that feels that there should be no evidence… Starting to pass through the transition from young and immortal to middle-aged and creaky and am a lot more ruthless about notes these days. There is no one I trust enough to torch the paperwork for whom it would not also be an enormous burden, so far better that I clear up after myself!

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        1. breakerofthings, I think along those same lines, too. I’ve had so many well-meaning [now deceased] relatives dump their stuff on me, that I’d never do that to someone else. I’ll clean up after myself just like they taught us in kindergarten. 😉

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  3. So freeing to rid the mind (and basement) of the past. Well done. I believe I need to follow suit – a big, old mental shred to drop all of the baggage and begin again renewed and refreshed. Thanks for showing me the way.

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    1. Zen-Den, I know you like how I got those boxes out of the basement. But to do so and find myself uplifted about it, was a surprise. We hold on too tightly to too many outdated ideas sometimes, don’t we?

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  4. There was a time I thought I was an artist. I did water colors mostly but also photography and oils. Compared to a good artist I sucked. I had a few good things but boxes of both supplies and finished pieces that I didn’t think were good enough to hang in my own home. A few years back I got rid of almost all of it. Boxes of paints. Film developing equipment. I saved 3 pieces that I really like (but still don’t hang in the house). The following year I got rid of all but 5 tubes of paint (and I have no idea why I felt compelled to save 5). I haven’t missed anything. I had already moved on physically but there was some emotional attachment that I didn’t understand. Out with it all.

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    1. Kate, I get what you’re saying. I love your thought: Out with it all. Last week I was in the same mental place that you were in years ago. From the notebooks and assorted other scribbles, I saved a few ideas, some serious, most silly– in case I want to write about them. But overall I decided I’d had the experience of recording my daily life, so why keep it around, taking up space. I feel saner for having shred it all.

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  5. I remember doing that back in the 90s. Mostly high school journals with angsty teenage poetry. It was kind of relaxing to let go of that very bad writing – sort of symbolically letting go of that part of my life. I have some Live Journal years still saved and I keep thinking about deleting them (kind of a shame I can’t shred them) but then I appreciate the timeline a couple of them provide. Perhaps I will one day cull out the posts I’d like to keep and delete the rest.

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    1. Zazzy, it dawned on me that at a certain point saving these morning pages becomes narcissistic. Who would want to read this stuff? Not even me, and I wrote it.

      Better to shred it all as a symbolical way of saying I’m sane & content now. Moving forward in life. Not whining about this stuff anymore.

      [I’ve deleted a couple of blogs and can say I found it to be every bit as enjoyable as manually shredding my past. A lot less messy, too.]

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    1. LOL! I imagine you’re right. Those thumb drives are dandy little things. Initially I didn’t want to save any of my writing ditherage, but will admit that a few good thoughts were worth keeping around so I saved them. But overall, it was buh-bye!

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  6. Oh Ally, I think this was a wonderful way of ‘letting go’. Some of our writings are meant just for our eyes only. I did regret one time when I was going through a lot of anger and heartbreak that I threw out some of my writing on my faith beliefs. Maybe that was necessary for me at that time because I’ve evolved from there. The pic of the bifocals and your note underneath was great, as well as that song at the end. 🙂
    https://meinthemiddlewrites.com/

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    1. Mary Lou, I think you’re right. These morning pages were just for me to read. But the practice of writing every day trained me to show up to my blog, so I think there was great value in doing the morning pages. Glad you liked the poor lost bifocal pic. They looked so lonely laying on the table. Had to snap a photo of them. And well, “Hallelujah” by Bon Jovi, what’s not to love?!

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    1. Sarah, trust me, there was a lot of incoherence in these pages. 0.o But the writing was all so whiny, over and over again, that I felt like I’d be doing myself a favor by destroying them. However, that’s just me. I mean, if you enjoy reading what you wrote then by all means don’t shred the stuff. Always keep the gems.

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  7. hmmm – I too have a filing cabinet downstairs in the basement full of my mental meanderings from the late 90s to the around 2011.
    Sounds like a great idea!! I’m almost afraid of what mental fluff it contains 😉

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    1. Joanne, I was completely underwhelmed by what I found in these notebooks! At the time I wrote them they seemed soooo important to me, but I’m a much different [mature?] person now and what I wrote back then seems insipid now. Will look forward to reading about what you find in your old mental fluff if you decide to go through it.

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        1. The only reason I got into shredding mode was because I was stuck here at home waiting for the windows to be installed– and it seemed like a way to pass the time. So a cold winter day would be perfect!

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  8. I have a few journals I’ve written in over the years but they are more like diaries and I didn’t write every day so there are only two or three. I’m keeping them for now. My problem is pictures, not written words. I REALLY need to get to organizing them and making them safe. I just found some last night that are almost ruined and I wanted to use them in my 30 Days of Cherished Memories. I scanned them and am going to try to fix them. Interesting that you picked Bon Jovi to share…I just got tickets for the hubs and I to see him in March next year! Have a marvy day!

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    1. Janet, the morning page idea is sort of like a diary, but with more emphasis on just dumping whatever thoughts you have onto the page. I eventually stopped doing them, having found out about blogging, I guess. I have lots of old photos, too. I’ve just left them alone not quite sure what to do with them. One mess at a time! 🙂

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  9. I did that before The Mister and I moved in together. I also cut my hair. It was a strange time. I have saved, maybe, 5 pieces of writing, which may contain tidbits of revelation. We both kept an angry journal from a specific time in our life together. I can’t even open it without feeling angry again. I sometimes think I should destroy mine, but I still think one day I’ll look back with a different feeling.
    We both have saved the other’s letters spanning 95-2008, and why we save them, I’m not certain, but they sure are something.
    Editorial movements are important, but you have to be ready 🙂

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    1. joey, I think you’re right about trusting yourself to know when to destroy wordy things that you’ve written. I didn’t march down into the basement last week determined to get rid of my past, but as I went through these notebooks I realized it was time. I’ve got lots of letters from all sorts of people; I come from articulate people who saved all forms of communication. Some are too personal to share but others are glimpses back in time which might have universal appeal if I figured out how/where to share them. Maybe after the beginning of the year I’ll tackle the letters.

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    1. nancy, I didn’t keep a journal during high school and college, but I got rid of my yearbooks years ago. This latest paper purge has been just a delightful. Now onward to the pics…

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  10. It’s amazing how freeing it is to shred/delete/get rid of “stuff”. I really need to do this with my clothes. I have WAY too many!! I could clothe a small town!! Good for you. I bet you feel a lot better now:)

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    1. Beth, I want to have fewer clothes, too. But I figure time and wear will take care of that issue. I still have tons of letters and photos and family memorabilia to go through, so this is just the beginning. But a good one!

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  11. There are definitely some letters and copies that I need to shred. (mostly from other people) When I want to make myself outraged, I drag them out and look at them. Thankfully, those times are becoming less and less frequent. *sigh*

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  12. Once I lost a notebook that held most of my poems (pre-computer days). I was sure a Pulitzer or Nobel was lost. It forced me to start anew. A couple of years later, the notebook turned up, and I was amazed how my writing had changed and grown. Clinging to the past prohibits growth, doesn’t it?

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    1. Alice, interesting how you came to know that your writing was better. I think you’re right about clinging to the past. I have to believe that it’s by letting go of the past that we move toward something better. And I like that idea.

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  13. I just threw mine in the trash.

    I’ve been going through my early blog posts, from when I thought I wanted to be a published author, only to discover that no, I didn’t want to be a published author and the reason I was blogging was for shits and giggles. Oddly enough, I’m probably closer to being a published author than I was when I started blogging…

    You have to get the whiny stuff out of the way before you can be a writer.

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    1. John, I agree. My morning pages were tedious and whiny. Reading them now after years of blogging, I laughed about how serious I was back then. Today I write whatever to entertain + inform, back then I wrote to be a serious CREATIVE person. Glad to see those pages go.

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