I’m in a time warp. Easter was over 2 weeks ago but I’m still finishing up my Lenten resolve to prune my file cabinets. By Easter I had pruned 2 drawers of my first cabinet. (See here ) Once started, I was motivated to keep going. I have now finished the final 2 drawers of file cabinet #1 and continue to have insights about life and myself.

I had planned to spend most of Saturday at the local Climate March but it was cancelled because of heavy rains. This meant that I had a free day plus it was too wet to work in the garden.


  1. Will I ever need this paper again? My default position was – Maybe. Therefore, I would keep the paper. BUT, I was in full pruning mode and committed to being realistic and making room for only important stuff and letting go of “just-in-case” papers. Practically speaking this meant wistfully remembering past temporary jobs and saving only documentation for tax, resume, or likely reference purposes.
  2. Is it obsolete or redundant? This is a sub-category of #1 since some documentation (like manuals or talk outlines) were important at the time but if it was over 5-10 years old, even if I was doing similar work, the information would need updating. Besides most recent work I’ve done is on my computer or available online.
    Similarly, I asked myself, “How many prayer services do I really need to save?” I had a humongous file of past prayers that were beautiful but I had multiple copies and others I had on my computer. Besides there were just too many to even find one that was appropriate for a given situation. It took a while, but I categorized the remaining ones. What good is an inspiring prayer if it’s buried with so many that I couldn’t find it?
  3. Technology trumps paper. As an author of 5 books and too many articles to count I found files of background material. Hey, this is not scientific research. The books are written. I don’t need to save the back-up surveys and early drafts. This prompted a reflection on the change that computers have brought. I had 2” of background material for an early book but only ¼” for my latest book. Computers save paper.
  4. Who cares? I found a copy of a letter I had sent Oprah Winfrey, offering to be a guest on her TV show to talk about one of my first books. Later publishers clued me in that it was naïve to presume that an unknown author would have a chance at a big name show. Letting go of pride is sometimes harder than paper.
  5. Become less picky. As I neared the end of a 4 hour stretch of categorizing and pruning, I became much freer to discard papers. Perhaps I hit a learning curve about what was worth saving, or perhaps it was just fatigue. After a while, stuff didn’t seem so important anymore.

Does anyone remember “transparencies”? They were helpful visuals for the days before PowerPoint. I realized that even if the information was still valid, I doubt that any institution still had the equipment to project these plastic sheets. It wasn’t paper, but it was filed like paper.

The result of my weekend’s work was a 15” stack of paper to discard. This, combined with my Holy Week binge brings my total to 36” of paper to recycle.

On my way to recycling my paper, I found a box full of packing peanuts. Of course Styrofoam packing peanuts are rarely accepted  in curbside recycling but Click Here  to find out how to tell the difference between Styrofoam and biodegradable packing peanuts. Short answer: Just add water. If it dissolves, it’s biodegradable and can be composted.