Thursday, January 7, 2016

A True Throw Back Thursday

Today was a cold and snowy day.  It was a perfect day to stay home and get some things done.  I finally put the final touches on returning the house to its normal state. It always seems a bit dull around here when all of Christmas is put away, so I tried to brighten up the living room by moving a few of my favorite things to the coffee table in front of the couch.  We can call this a study in red.  This should keep things a bit more cheery and colorful during January.

I then pulled out one of my favorite tea cups, one given to me by a teaching friend as a remembrance of the time I went to Caernarfon, Wales, and filled it with the special tea my son had sent me for Christmas last year and headed downstairs.

At the end of December, in the midst of putting away Christmas decorations, I began the task of attempting an organization of storage shelves.  That led to me cleaning out closets.  That led to pulling boxes full of stuff out of closets and peeking inside of them to see what on earth was filling them.  That led to me deciding I needed a new system of storing stuff so I could find the stuff I wanted to find.

This is what I came up with.  Jim and I found a great solution for our storage problems at the Container Store.  It was on sale, so we bought it and had it installed in an empty corner of the family room. I think it will be a great place to store all of the stuff currently living in boxes stored in places we can't remember.

When we moved into this house a little over three years ago, the goal was to get the house as livable as possible as soon as possible.  That meant that many boxes of stuff were pushed into closets, put on shelves, or hauled into the crawl space.  I'll get to them someday, was the promise I made.

Today, I hauled out one box from the closet in the downstairs bedroom.  This box was filled with notebooks, journals, and bits of writing from the past.  I've had quite a day of doing research and discovery by going back and peeking into a few of those notebooks.  It has truly been a throw back Thursday.

 Hopefully, we won't have any guests in the next day or two since I have made a mess of the guest room/downstairs study.

One notebook was mostly empty, but it contained a few gems from 1991.  I was a single mom then.  Amy, and Julie were in high school.  Jonathan was in junior high.  The notebook that I found from that time period lived near the phone in kitchen.  It was supposed to be where we left messages for each other.  Here are a few gems:

  • From Amy:  Mom, Julie needs her shoes out of my car for track.  Can you pick me up at 1:30 on Weber?
  • Mom, I went with Rick to wash his car.  Be home by 3:30.  Amy  
  • Andrea & Julie called.  Barb R called.
  • Mom, Amy and I went to the Citadel to get her earrings.  She will clean the house when she gets home.  Love, Julie
  • My response on that same day at 4:30  "It's a good thing at least this kitchen is cleaned.  I did not make this mess and I won't come home to it.  I went jogging.  Amy - when you finish reading the paper, put it away!  And your backpack does not belong on the table.  
  • Mom, Don't forget to leave me some money so that I can go to the bonfire & football game this weekend.  Have fun this weekend.  Love Julie XOXO
  • My response:  Amy has $ for you all.  She also has the video card for Safeway.  Give Aunt Carol my # 1-395-2477 - Trail West.  Phone # where I will be.  XOXOXO Mom
  • Julie: wire to starter is loose.  
Those were the days before texting!  I wish I had more of those messages.  They are treasures now.  I guess I was a pretty mean mom.  I expected a clean home when I got home from work.  Actually, the kids were very good most of the time about that.  They knew I hated to see a mess when I walked in the door, so at least I was usually greeted with a clear vista.  Their rooms were another story.

I loved this gem.  Julie had written "My hole name Julie Ann Christiansen" in one of my notebooks.  I laughed when I saw it.  Then, I cried.  It broke my heart to see her childhood handwriting, but I was also so grateful to have it.

This little love note was no doubt written in church because it was written on an old notebook filled with my notes from sermons in the 80s.  Julie had surrounded her sweet note with drawings of a rainbow and fish symbols, representing believers in Christ.  I noticed Jon had also written his name and drawn a silly picture.  The memories of those two sitting next to me in church came flooding back.

Another journal contained entries from a journal started whenI made a career change in 2004.  I realized that twelve years ago this week, I left the classroom where I was teaching high school English/Language Arts and went to Colorado State University-Pueblo to become a program coordinator.  My job was to help write the curriculum for and develop the program to train teachers to become endorsed to teach linguistically diverse students.  I cannot believe it has already been twelve years since that milestone in my life.

I wrote in my journal:
 1/9/04 Well, I'm here!  I finally made it!  I've landed a job at the University level and I have an office!  I can hardly believe my good fortune.  I am just getting set up and trying to figure out what the heck I'm doing on my new job.  My title:  Program Coordinator English Language Learners Preparation Program for Teachers of Linguistically Diverse Students.

I have to laugh when I read my job title.  It was quite a long one.  I loved my days in this position so much.  I never would have retired if I would have had my way, but the job was based on grant funding.  Once the funding went away, so did the job.

The photo below was taken in my office not long after I started the new job when a friend and former helper in my classroom at the high school came to visit me when she was in the States visiting from her home in Taiwan.  She was a CSU-P grad.

Colorado State University-Pueblo
Sally with professional friend

I have so many professional notebooks that I still can't seem to throw out.  This one is really special because it contains the portfolio I put together after participating in the Southern Colorado Writing Project.  This was the best professional development experience I ever had.  It was also the best experience I ever had in participating in a writing group.  I leafed through it and found it filled with writings and notes that I want to investigate further.


As I go through old notebooks and journals, I wonder if I should just throw them all out.  I know many of you would do that, or have done that.  Sometimes such books hold a record of great pain, but they also can lead to new understandings of self and why decisions were made a certain way.  I wonder at times why I didn't write more during times of great joy and fulfillment.  I tend to write more when I am sorting out my life decisions.  

Do you keep journals?  If so, do you think you will destroy them before you leave this earth?  If so, why or why not.  For now, my journals are going in a locked file cabinet.  Only I know where the key is.  I hope I don't forget where it is!  Actually, I know I have two hidden keys, but I only know where one key is at the moment.

I've have so enjoyed this throwback Thursday.  As a bonus, I got one box emptied.  Now, on to all those others.  


Kay said...

I love your new organization. This will be so perfect and you'll have everything at your fingertips. I love to get things organized in our house too. You have so many memories stored in those journals. I do have quite a few of them also. I also have letters from my first grade students every year and can't throw them away. They are very precious to me also. I love that photo of you with your former helper. i wish you could have had that job much longer.

Margaret Adamson said...

Loved all the notes in the notebook. Marvellous memories for you. Love your new storage system.

Jean said...

I love your old journals! What treasured memories of times gone by. It took me several years before I could toss out my lesson plan books and attendance books after I retired from 36 years in the classroom. I'd forgotten you, too, participated in one of the National Writing Projects. That experience changed my teaching, for the better, in many, many ways.

Jean said...

P.S. I meant to mention how much I've enjoyed the Humans of New York books. Noticed yours on your coffee table.

The Furry Gnome said...

Oh, you're making me think of all the boxes here that i should go through!

Olga Hebert said...

I saw your Vocational Radar on Facebook and noticed that we are almost complete opposites. Having unpacked boxes would sap my energy and make me very scattered and depressed. One of my recurring dreams is about having to deal with boxes of stuff, a nightmare. My two closest friends (more like you) think I am damaged because I throw things out. But they love me anyway so I make a concerted effort not to sort and organize when I go to their houses. Gee, now I sound damaged even to myself!

Jackie said...

Sally....I wouldn't throw a thing out that I had written. Not a thing.
I love the fact that you have these journals... They are treasures beyond measure.
Yes. I keep one journal: a prayer journal.
Love to you,

dkzody said...

All of my high school stuff--gone. Now I'm accumulating elementary school stuff. Sigh. It doesn't end.

As for journals, I have 20 years of them stored in the storage unit. I'm not going to destroy them, I'll let my daughter and grandchildren do that. Maybe, just maybe, one of them will want to read all those years of my writing.

Arkansas Patti said...

Those notes were delightful and I am sure put you right back in that moment. Future moms will not have that pleasure with deleted text messages. It is so their loss.

DJan said...

I have dozens of journals from the 1980s and early 1990s. When I go through them now (not often), I remember places and events that otherwise would be gone. I would not get rid of those journals, Sally, even if keeping them is poignant. :-)

Barb said...

Olga and I are damaged in the same way. I don't know if you remember, but a couple years ago, I went through all my years of journals and shredded them. When the shredder got overheated, I started scissoring them! I probably looked demented. However, notes/cards/handmade gifts from our children/grandchildren are a different story. I save and cherish them. (I smiled at Julie writing her "hole" name.) Those journals that I shredded were not for other's to read. They helped me through some rough patches, but they were nothing I want to share 30-40-50 years later (especially with a grandchild)!

I've been on a use it or lose it mission the last few years. I got rid of so many books - just cartons of them that I donated to the library. Now, I only have 2 small bookcases, and they're filled with books I absolutely can't part with even if I never reread them again. Clothing, too - if I don't wear it in a season, out it goes.

LC said...

My sporadic journaling results are scattered among the detritus of decades, clutter that I need to sort through. It is urgent now that the downsized house we are building is within weeks of completion.

Linda Reeder said...

I have never journaled, except when traveling. I do have those trip journals. I have a career scrap book, with school photos and notes from people, and I have a file of things I have written, like letters to the editor, that sort of thing.
I know I have "those boxes" in the attic. I have sorted through things a time or two. Each time I sort, I cull out a bit more.
I really like your new storage. Great idea!

Lin Floyd said...

I find it's very valuable to go through old journals but I keep thinking I'll abridge them or make a summary to leave for my family of what I've learned through the years as I have kept journals since my divorce in 1975 and that's a lot of writing...good luck getting organized-come up for air now and then so you don't try to eat the elephant at one time. lol!

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

I usually don't look back at what I've written, but I suspect I won't toss my journals and notebooks without at least reading them. And they'll be one of the last things I attack, partly because they don't take up much room.

Jeanie said...

What a glorious find, Sally. I don't think I could have thrown those out either -- then or now. Many of my journals were destroyed when my basement flooded and I confess, I was relieved. Too much youthful angst. But there are things that aren't tossed and won't be. Maybe I'm more circumspect when I write now and more careful of what goes down! I've told Rick never to put any journals or photos in an estate sale -- if he can't find someone who would care about them, destroy them. Always makes me sad to see that.

All that said, Marmelade Gypsy is, in its way, a wonderful journal that obviously I wouldn't care who found!

Your shelving is great. I'm trying to get a better organization system, too. I can't have company till I do!

Vagabonde said...

I like your empty shelves and the neat new boxes. I think it is hard to decide what to keep and what to let go – but I’m going to have to do that too. I never had a journal – I have little calendar diaries where I write appointments, restaurants we go to, movies or trips. I try to keep the rest in my memory – usually I forget the sad memories. I hope you will have a great 2016 filled with happiness, fun and good health.

Barbara said...

I have kept a dozen calendars with diary notes on them. It is fun to look back. My collection is small but I did have to let go of all those cute drawings and notes my kids made over the years. Once in a while I think about that and I am sad but I can't keep everything. Its a fact and I have to accept that.