Monday, April 18, 2011


Monday, April 18, 2011
I made a big decision . . . one that's been haunting me for a very long time. I destroyed a HUGE collection of journals I've kept. 15 YEARS WORTH!

You see, over the years, I've moved several times and have been toting around taped up/booby trapped boxes full! I NEVER EVER read my old journals, so why was I continuing to carry this "psychic baggage"? It had all become so "heavy". With my 50th birthday quickly approaching, I felt the increasing need to let go. Time to shed the past, make room for the new.

I toyed with the idea of a birthday beach bonfire of diaries! Does seem a proper way to dispose of the old books. I discussed it with friends . . . I droned endlessly with my husband. I tossed. I turned.

Then, on Thursday, I received a timely piece of mail . . . a postcard advertising a "neighborhood shredding event" at a local real estate office. (A real estate office I'd once been employed by while deciding my future work. Ha! That's a whole other Oprah!)

Snap. The decision was made. A shredder would neatly dispose of my journals. Friday morning was spent ripping pages from past diaries. I tried not to look. If I stopped . . . if I read any of it, I'd surely abandon the whole project. And I couldn't. My decision was firm. I was releasing the past.

It took just over an hour to tear apart my books. Snippets of my life passed quickly before my eyes. The good, the bad and the ugly. I relived fun days spent with friends and family. I saw days spent yearning for love - the day I found it - the day I married him. I smiled through entries of successes - like when I quit smoking many years ago. I cried through sadnesses - like the day I lost a dear animal companion. I noticed various repetitive bitchings and whinings. On I went, ripping . . . tearing . . . while vowing not to repeat these same bitchings/whinings in future tomes.

Saturday morning, I drove the block to the shredding event. All my diary's pages now reduced to two boxes. I opened my trunk. I was instructed to unceremoniously pour it into a waiting bin. I could then watch as it was shredded and be sure that it was gone for good.

As the beige bin was tipped into the shredder, a friendly past real estate co-worker approached, arms open wide. She hugged me, excitedly asking, "So what are you doing now?". I told her of my new life as an artist and author. I told her as I watched my old life disappear into the giant metal jaws of a commercial shredder. And it was done. Gone.

I don't regret my decision, but I suppose it has taken me these couple of days to process. Perhaps I'm still processing, for I now want to change how I chronicle my life. Shall I continue my habit of keeping a written journal? If so, will I then repeat the same writing, collecting and disposing of journals? Does that really work for me any more?

Will I give myself over solely to art journaling - an art form that I don't feel a need to hide away or dispose of? But one that requires more time and commitment than keeping a regular written journal. And I do like to write daily.

Or shall I now combine my sketching with writing - this kind of "art journaling" is certainly quicker/cleaner to create. More writing could be easily incorporated into the sketchbooks. I find I'm leaning in this direction - we'll see what my fifth decade brings!


Tracy Carlton said...

oooooohhhhhh, this is inspiring! what a perfect ritual to start a brand new decade :o)

Margie said...

OH WOW! A BIG CLEANSING! Good for you Tracie. You are on a different path and are a different person. Embrace where life takes you from this point forward. XO

Marghie said...

OH WOW, BIG CLEANSING! Good for your Tracie. You are a different person on a different journey. Moving on...XO

Anonymous said...

Well, lots I could say about this post. All of it good.
But what I can not avoid saying is "FIFTY?!" You expect us to believe that? Look at you girl, in body and spirit. That's a clever trick.

Marilyn Girling said...

You are so brave! Your story reminded me of my own. When I turned 35 and remarried I found a huge cache of journals I had logged in through 12 years of a disastrous marriage. The decision I came to, after much thought, was to destroy them. It bothered me for a few days. I felt as though I had lost or forgotten something. I realized that the journals had a strange hold on me as if letting them go would cause my world to fall apart somehow. My new husband, who is stoic and sensible, reminded me of the power of words to "weigh down" or "lift up". The light went on I had been so dragged down by the feeling in those journals. I needed to be free of them. I art journal now and love it! The paint can cover over the words I need to get out but don't need to see again ever. Melancholy by nature, I try to use my art journal as a "lifter of spirit", self-therapy I guess. Happy 50, go gettum!

Lisa said...

I've had this post up for almost a week now - how did I not comment?! I am just in awe - seriously. I don't think I could do this, but how ABSOLUTELY refreshing that must be!!

Michelle LaPoint Rydell said...

Oh wow I can totally relate to your struggle! I have been in a very similar position and ended up shredding my journals too - 31 of them. I've never regretted it! Love your style! I just discovered your work through 21 Secrets!