Saturday Extra ~ A reader would like your advice

I received a message on Facebook over the holiday break from a reader who would like some advice on decluttering journals. Here is her message :-

“Hello I am a follower of your blog which I very much enjoy. I could use some help on one of my final decluttering projects. I have about 20 years worth of old journals which I never look at but can’t seem to part with. I think I am ready to get rid of at least some, but I could use some suggestions as to how. I don’t know if I should save them for my daughter to read (or if I would want her to!) Any suggestions you have would help! Thanks. Steena”

I have never been one for keeping journals so my advice is fairly generic ~ If you think they are clutter than they probably are. However if you could condense them down to a more manageable cross-section of your life – keeping only the pages that give a good insight into the person your were – then perhaps future generations would appreciate this inheritance.

Having dabbled in genealogy in the past I know how important such document can be to future generations. I wish my father’s mother had keep a journal so I would have some insight as to what her internal world was like and way she was the way she was. That being said I would only have needed a sample of the way she thought about life and how she felt about those around her. A little about what her childhood was like and how she felt about marriage and motherhood. I would not so much appreciate piles and piles of journals with years of endless rambling of her everyday life.

Once again this might be different for other people. Any advice in this matter would be helpful. So if any 365ers have had experience with this please chime in.

The Weekend’s Mini Missions

Saturday – Were there any kitchen gadgets or utensils that didn’t get used over the holiday period or the twelve months prior for that matter. Time to embrace the idea that you have no use for them and release them to someone who does.

Sunday – Sunday is reserved for contemplating one particular item, of your choice that is proving difficult for you to declutter. Whether that be for sentimental reasons, practical reasons, because the task is laborious or simply unpleasant, or because the items removal requires the cooperation of another person. That last category may mean that the item belongs to someone else who has to give their approval, it could also mean there is a joint decision to be made or it could mean that the task of removing it requires assistance from someone else. There is no need to act on this contemplation immediately, it is more about formulating a plan to act upon or simply making a decision one way or another.

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast


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  • Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom ~ Count the Mintues Cindy's Weekly Wisdom Last week, I wrote a post praising the wonderful feeling of getting old to-dos done. As I suspected, I was not alone in 1) having pletny of old to-dos that needed […]
  • Venting frustration ~ Please humour me! Last week I found myself worrying too much about other people's clutter. I am not referring to my readers here of course but to people in my own personal scope of friends […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.

Comments

  1. Interesting, I had the same dilemma a couple of years ago regarding journals – I’m 43 years old and have been keeping journals since I was in grade school, so there was a lot of history (a lot of it that I didn’t want to ever dwell on again). I’m also a professional archivist, so I’m aware of the emotions and value of the written word, particularly journals.

    I ended up making a ritual out of letting them go: when my husband was on a business trip, and I had the evening to myself, I built a fire in our fireplace, put on some French cafe music, poured some wine, and burned all of them.

    I haven’t regretted it for a moment, and in fact felt like it released a lot of bad history. I was reminded of Jackie Kennedy, who was also an extremely private person, who did this same ritual when she knew she was nearing the end of her life.

    • I love this. Perhaps I will make a ritual of letting mine go too, although we aren’t allowed fires here and I don’t have a shredder so I will have to put them in the sensitive document recycle bin at work. The ritual part would have to be beforehand! It would be nice to put the past behind me like you did.

  2. I too keep journals. I switched to writing in a Word doc on my computer 10+ years ago, but I still have a few paper journals that I am reluctant to get rid of. I started transcribing one of them into my electronic journal. It’s time-consuming of course, but I’m not in a hurry; I do a little at a time when I feel the urge. If you want to keep only portions of your journal, you could also scan or photograph the pages you wish to keep. If you use any of these methods you could pass on only the portions you wish to your daughter, and if they are electronic then it means no physical clutter for her. Oh, and if I do ever decide to dispose of my old journals I will be destroying those babies via shredder or fire!

  3. I’m not one of those people who believe that all my precious stuff is going to be set up in a museum in my honour after my death. Not gonna happen. I still have my high school yearbooks but those I will at some point toss (recycle) because no one but me (and those I graduated with – who I am only in contact with on Facebook) care. My kids will have their own yearbooks, pictures, stuff they care about and when you add up all the precious stuff from all previous generations – well, it’s too much clutter to impose on our kids. I care about my kids too much to do that and they deserve to have their own lives and their own memories. It’s not fair to them.

    You can scan your journals for posterity if you’re just not ready to de-clutter them. But try to take a discerning eye to what you leave for your kids. I hope that’s not too harsh. I have a mother who has her own ideas about what I should consider precious and hands them down to me (to get them out of her house). Uh, thanks mom.

    • Please don’t toss your yearbooks without at least offering them to a) a local museum b) your high school for its archives. When I worked as a high school librarian, we were missing many years of yearbooks, and several times a year someone would come along wanting to buy a particular yearbook because theirs was destroyed. I have the yearbooks from my parents, my brothers, and my kids. As for journals, I scanned all of mine and recycled the originals.

  4. I also have a carton full of old journals. I’ve written mostly as a way of processing something I was experiencing or wrestling with in my life — or sometimes documenting dreams. But I also never go back and read these — and I’m not sure I’d like others to read them either. I have often thought of ceremonially burning them as a way of saying goodbye to the past and living more fully in the present.

  5. My only journals have been written while travelling. What I thought were brilliant insights into humanity (or myself) seem trivial thirty years later. I find them of little interest even to me and I can’t imagine anyone else wanting to read them.
    I am transposing them onto a spreadsheet, noting the date, place and a line or two of the happenings of the day and this is what I do when we travel now. The data from old trips will help when I cull my hundreds of travel slides, and helps as a memory jog. The old journals have gone in the recycling.

    • Haha, funny you say that. I find that when I left that annoying pathos behind, my writing got better.
      The interesting thing is that my fictional texts and the mere descriptions are most interesting to me now.
      Everything too much related to myself is just terribly bad.

  6. Scan them! This way you can keep them for posterity, but not take up physical space.

  7. Journals can be quite different, one from another. I dabbled in journalling when I was a teen and even a bit later. All together, I think I filled 4 or 5 journals and over time my way of journalling changed dramatically. I re-read them some time ago. I find, many entries have completely lost their interest and some are embarassing even to me, just because my way of thinking changed over time, I moved on or got a broader knowledge and can’t bear the silly and dumb ramblings of my former self any more. I think that if a part bores me, it will bore any other reader as well.
    There are a couple of interesting parts, though, at least in my opinion, and these are:
    – Descriptions of important events and experiences that were life-changing for me at the time. These are in particular my journals of travels which help bring back the memories and also provide details I might have forgotten, but also things like when I got my first kiss etc. 🙂 They’re mostly fun to read and I think they might also be interesting for other persons to read (or maybe as reference for me when I re-tell them one day, so I can leave the embarassing details out).
    – Rather “philosophical” reflections on life in general, a particular lifetime situation or feelings/behaviours like love, friendship, belief, curiosity, revenge, chivalry etc. They are still good food for thought, these are topics that will stay with me for all my life, sometimes some big questions to which there is no definite answer and they inspire new reflections and a couple of times I found an old idea or thought I had all forgotten that made my day.

    According to that I saved both my travel journals and one journal which is rather what you’d call a “smash book” these days, I started it when I was about 18 or so and it consists mainly of those latter “philosophical” entries and I also glued in all sorts of random scribbles, poems etc. in an attempt to minimize my paper chaos back then ;-). Of the other journals I threw away almost everything apart from very selected entries which I included in the smash book style one.

    Steena, you probably have a much larger and more detailed collection to care of, but maybe this is somehow helpful for you anyway.
    I’d say, re-read your journals and if they bore you, get rid of them. You might highlight interesting parts with post-its or so and see how much you want to keep alltogether and then think about whether your collection can be condensed in any way (maybe some years are more interesting than others, maybe you can scan the interesting parts or condense them to one file binder or scrap book) Maybe, however, you are just too bored or embarassed by them to want to keep them. Just do what feels right to you.

    • I started something similar to what you call a “smash book” a few months ago – somewhere I can note down things that are important to me, without it having to be a regular thing. It hasn’t been used in a while but at least in future I can keep those things in one place. It’s a good idea.

  8. I used to keep a journal. When we moved here I had a huge tub of them. Over time I have read through them, culled important things from them and decluttered them. I have kept only one. It is from the year my diseases got so bad that I had to go on disability. There was so much in there that I wanted to keep so I did. I may use it to write a book someday. I now keep a journal on my laptop. I write a sentence or two about the day. I keep these for a while to refer to and then delete them. Before I delete them I go through and see if there is anything of importance. These things I transfer to my file called Journal of Important Things. I have things like dates of deaths, births, surgeries, engagements, weddings, important medical events, etc. I have learned that for me there is no one coming after me who cares.

  9. This is a difficult one for me…I’m a big “sentimentalist” and love the journals I have of my mother, grandmother and great grandmother. I also am very sad at the thought that a beloved aunt had over 50 years of journals that she instructed to be burnt when she died. The stories they could have told! Maybe some she didn’t want to be told, though, so I respect her decision. If they are journals from someone from another generation (parent, grandparent, etc.) you should keep them or pass them on to someone who would appreciate them – unless they are something that would harm or terribly hurt someone else. I think, if they are your personal journals, you have the choice – and it depends on your motive for writing them in the first place. Were they cathartic – clearing your mind, trying to resolve issues you were dealing with? Or were they meant to be shared with others – containing history, family data, way of life, culture, family recipes, etc.? I have gone through my own journals and saved pages that were important (to me). One journal I kept right after 9/11 (even though we live 3,000 miles away) I have turned into a memory type book and have updated it on some 9/11 annivesaries. I will keep it because I feel it has some historical significance and will give it to my granddaughter some day. My grandparents each kept a journal for one year, at the request of my mother as a Christmas gift to her. It started out as a nice idea, but ended up becoming a treasue because my father happened to suddenly pass away during the year. It contains so many of their loving thoughts about my father, his funeral, and a year that was kind of a blur to us. All I ask is that you look ahead and think about what future generations might think of the book. Good luck.

  10. I am probably the last person to give advice and counsel on decluttering…..but journals, I have a different perspective on. To me, journal are invaluable. They leave a personal history of someone’s mortality, their daily struggles and successes, their process. I learn from them and really appreciate the life lessons, gems, I find in another person’s history. I gain wisdom from decisions and choices, and I would be heart-broken to find that one of my ancestors had kept years of journals and then discarded them because they didn’t think anyone would care. I would not, however, be very excited about finding bookshelf space to put them all into my house. So maybe a compromise is what has already been suggested…to scan them into an electronic format, abridging the important parts and discarding what you don’t want to be read.

  11. Grace from Brazil :

    I am right where you are. I spent a lot of time over the holidays looking through old journals. Most of what I have written in those journals has already served its purpose when I wrote it, putting my thoughts into words and releasing it. It was cathartic. Most of it was so pathetic or something I really would not want my children to read. I would encourage you to read them first. You will discern quickly what is significant. There have been journals I have written in later years, however which contain events that I really want my children to remember and know about. If I want to keep a whole journal I will. It really takes up little space. But if there are parts of journals which I want to keep then I am typing those in. I have a file called journal and each folder covers a date. Divide this project into tasks. First read through the journals and see what is even worth keeping. Give yourself time for this. One journal a week, if it takes you that long. Then work on getting that journal inputted if you decide not to keep the whole thing. Just set a short time each day and put it aside until the next day. I worked by months. I could get a months worth put in at a sitting. I weeded some of the non-essential stuff so I was not completely transcibing the whole thing. I am so glad you posted this because I need to get back on this project and there is nothing like giving advice and getting a good dose for oneself.

  12. I just discovered a box of old journals, pictures I have painted as a kid and other memorabilia I boxed up ten years ago. At that time I apparently found it all worth keeping. I am sure my attitude about some things has changed by now but I will take my time to go through it bit by bit when I feel like it. I will force myself to reread the journals before I decide about tossing or keeping or keeping parts of it. I hope that rereading them will bring the answer to me whether it is worth keeping (either for myself or with my kid some time far in the future in mind) or rather not. Journals, drawings and photos are not the stuff to make quick decisions about – at least for me, because they really are the things that could not be replaced if declutterer’s remorse should set in. Also, I think spacewise they wouldn’t make the biggest impact and it is not that they have any financial value or are of use to anyone that they could lose if I hesitate so I am absolutely fine with postponing decisions here. Colleen, you have pointed out more than once to start with the easy stuff, so I just trust my growth as a declutterer that at one point the decision will come easily to me.

  13. Think long and hard about getting rid of your journals. I personally think they are like little time capsules of our life here. I have a small one from my grandmother and I feel it is priceless. Don’t do anything rash!

  14. I kept a daily journal for years and years, then stopped when blogging came along.

    I have two or three small boxes of old journals which I have kept. I did go through them once a few years ago, tearing out just the pages I wanted to keep, and burning the rest.

    I agree with Ideealistin that journals, photos, and artwork are not to be disposed of without plenty of thought. It’s amazing the amount of detail that one can forget over the years, and having journals is a good way to jog the memory.

    I’ll probably go through the journals again some day, and cull more, but right now they’re not taking up much room, so I don’t give them much thought.

    I wouldn’t “make” myself declutter journals just for the sake of saying I had decluttered something. Again, I agree with Colleen–declutter easier stuff first.

  15. I kept a journal through my teens and early 20s. They helped me sort my thoughts during a most difficult time. Not too long ago I found them and read through them. Honestly it was nice to refresh my memory about the crap I went through, but also really disturbing to my present wellbeing! I decided to destroy them before they were read by someone that may not understand the context (like my children or husband) – not that I am ashamed of my past, but growing up is a unique and difficult time for everyone (and extremely personal). To honour the memories that built me into who I am today, I set up a small bonfire in the backyard and tore out the pages one by one, saying goodbye to the details of the past with reverence and some relief. Journals can be therapeutic, but once the therapy has done it’s work, I think it’s better to live in the moment. If it’s too difficult to let them go permanently, maybe scanning them and saving it all into a password protected PDF document might be a good plan then shredding the originals.

  16. I am going through my journals and making an electronic copy of them for kids, etc. if they want to read them. I am eliminating the personal stuff that I don’t want them to know and also eliminating some of the boring repetitious entries. I want them to know me better, but I want to choose what I share.

  17. Hi Steena
    I have never kept a diary/ journal so I can’t assist in you mission on what to do with them. I can say that the diaries my Mum kept when she was alive, although basic in describing weather, days activities etc , they were nice to read through after she
    died. So perhaps a few could be saved for your daughter .
    I always like the saying ‘to embrace the future you must let go of the past’.
    Count the number of journals , assign one day to each journal, read it, keep or discard, Or discard pages you don’t like. You may enjoy reading them to your daughter. Good luck 🙂

  18. I’ve never read the journals of my ancestors or anyone else, and I can’t imagine anyone wanting to read mine. Maybe a compromise is to write a summary of the journal collection as a single, succinct volume.

    The harsh reality is that our valued possessions are likely to be lightly esteemed by others after we pass away.

  19. Here is a comment I received on this post through my email from Solange…
    “This advice comes from a woman who will celebrate her 75th birthday this year
    and has been a licensed psychotherapist for over 30 years. So, I’m claiming
    both age and professional experience, as you can see!

    Please, do not destroy your own history.
    Your reluctance to part with your journals is a signal from your inner guide,
    that smart self that dwells in your deeper mind. That “voice” is our wisdom;
    some believe it comes from our spiritual core. If we are quiet and listen,
    it will resonate clearly enough to become a reliable and trusted part of yourself.

    I have worked with hundreds of people and never once has anyone expressed
    a positive feeling about destroying their own photographs or journals–with the
    exception of those filled with self-hate. On the contrary, I have worked with
    many people tearful and deeply regretful over their dumping the evidence of
    how they lived, what they felt, and what they held dear, even if it turned out
    to be temporary.

    I’m not saying there aren’t exceptions among healthy people. I am saying that
    to see the record of your own life as “clutter” is something to seriously
    examine. Please. Because once it’s gone, it’s gone.

    Colleen, thank you for this opportunity to comment. I feel, I admit, very
    uneasy & sad at the prospect of anyone doing such a thing. I personally wish
    that I had kept FAR MORE journals–I didn’t destroy them; instead I didn’t write them!
    Being in what we French call “the third age”, I would love to remember/see
    myself over the years as I grappled with life: its opportunities and its
    obstacles.”

    • Interesting advice there from Solange. However my humble opinion is that we have more than one inner voice and they can be just as misleading as they are helpful. It is one of those inner voices that tells us that acquiring stuff we don’t need will make us happy, to get over sentimental about the stuff we already have and tries to convince us that we will not succeed at things ~ like decluttering ~ and therefore should never begin. It is the inner voice of fear that tells us not to step outside our comfort zone. And to be even more dramatic it is also an inner voice of despair that tells some people that ending their life is the only solution to their woes. If I listened to some of my inner voices I would never achieve anything. Who knows which inner voice is suggesting to Steena that she should think about getting rid of her journals as this could be good or bad advice. I also don’t believe that destroying her journals is destroying her history, to me it is more an erasing of her really personal details of it. I think that some details are best kept to oneself and it is up to her to decide which ones. She may be happy to share them all and in that case I say keep the journals and hand them down to her daughter and so on. But like one of the other readers said, if some details are likely to harm another innocent person then perhaps erase those details and keep the rest.

      There is just no one solution to this and the more opinions on this subject the better. So Solange please don’t be annoyed by my somewhat opposing opinion. I will admit I struggle a lot to ignore my inner voices at time which makes me feel you can’t give them too much freedom to choose for you. Or perhaps I have just my inner voice confused with other naughty voices lingering closer to the surface.

    • Reading Solanges advice, I realize that I would love a few journals as well – only I have never written them – the ones I DID write unfortunately are mostly VERY far from what I wish I had written.
      Those parts that really are enjoyable to read, I wouldn’t declutter. Same goes for letters.
      For me, I hang onto many fictional stories I wrote (even as a child), to pictures and other works of art. They are mostly more to the point than my journals.
      But all these personal items can do with a cull in my opinion. I will keep the first love letter I got, my travel journal of my first adventure abroad on my own, my childhood fairy tales, my baby photos, my heartbroken poems. But I have no problem throwing out letters from former teenage penpals with whom I only chatted about pop singers, photos of random parties on which my face is the only familiar, scribbled notes in a hurry or a journal that includes only boring notes (like the one when I was 8 that consisted of the food I ate and the TV shows I saw) or ramblings that didn’t lead to any conclusion or solution.

  20. Let me first say “Congratulations” because it sounds like you are on the home-stretch with your decluttering projects. That is awesome! I do not journal, although I do wish that I did, but I have never taken the time to do so. I feel it would be very therapeutic. I did keep a diary as a young child and after reading it as an adult, I had a few laughs, and tossed it into the trash. I would like to write my “history” (before I forget all of it) and give it to my children in the hopes that it will help them in their life journey. I want them to know where I came from (my background) because it is a big part of who I am and therefore it is a big part of who they are. I suppose that scanning the portions that you want to share, is certainly an option, but there is something about “written” thoughts that is lost, I think, in a computerized version. Although, for the sake of having less clutter, it is an option. I would share with your daughter, the ones that you are willing to share, certainly not every life detail is necessary or helpful. I wished that my mother had kept a journal. There were many things that I did not know about her until she had already passed on. It was not until later, that I learned from her sister, some very important details concerning my mother’s childhood. Those details helped me make sense of and have acceptance of why she was the way that she was as my mother. The journals, if you decide to give them to her, would mean more than any trinket or dust collector ever could. It would be a priceless treasure.

  21. My suggestion is similar to most others: Scan them. If they are still important enough for you to POSSIBLY want them, they shouldn’t be gotten rid of forever (since they are irreplaceable). However, what I would suggest is scanning all of them, then picking your favorite journal out of them (one you are most likely to want to physically re-read). Use a cheap flash drive/SD card (I have a plethora of 512 MB and 1GB SD cards from the group I volunteer with holding backups of things I don’t want to lose), and store a copy of all the scanned journals with the single hard copy (I would scan the hard copy you keep too).

    I find that I like storing a digital copy of everything with my physical copies of similar things. I have a LOT of digital textbooks from over the years, and I keep an SD card with the most important of them with my physical reference textbooks. (I plan on being a high school science teacher, so I am keeping most of my science textbooks at least for now). If I had a multitude of journals (I have like 5 journal pages ripped out and stored in a box somewhere) I would do the same thing with those.

    Of course, if you don’t have a favorite physical one, you don’t need to keep one. You just mentioned posterity, and IMO, if there was one “favorite” journal (or perhaps a folder of favorite pages), they would be more likely to be looked at, and the files would be less likely to become digital clutter (don’t buy a flash drive to add clutter, there are plenty of free ones).

  22. To the reader who requested the advice in the first place – I think it is important to remember that all of us who are giving our opinions have our own unique picture of what “journal” means, and our advice is based on that. A journal can be something we write to cope with problems and try to find solutions, it can be a place to share all our inner feelings, it can be a place for dreams, it can be a monotonous recitation of facts, it can be a commentary on political, economic, sociological, religious, environmental, etc etc etc aspects of our times, it can be all of the above or something else altogether. It can be so many different things! I don’t believe it is inherently right – or wrong – to keep or destroy or abridge or censor or publish a journal. It depends on many things.

    My journals as a child were about what I wore each day and little else – I loved the idea of a diary but I led a very quiet childhood. As a young adult, my journals were full of problems and trying to find answers. I have done that, and to read about them years later brought back negative feelings, so I destroyed them and felt free.

    Take what advice feels right to you, and you won’t go wrong.

  23. I kept daily journals throughout my entire teens. They are in a box somewhere but I’d be absolutely mortified if anybody else ever read them. It’s all fight-with-parents/gossip about friends/boy drama in excruciating detail. They need to go!!

    I do love the covers (collages based on what interested me at the time) but a photograph or scan of each cover might suffice. The contents don’t even need to be scanned.

    If you wouldn’t want your partner/parents/children/boss/religious leader reading the contents of your journals then I say get rid of them.

  24. Hi Steena – I agree with Jo H that we all have our own unique picture of what ” journal” means and our comments are based on that and cosequently will vary a lot. I kept journals as a teenager and a few years ago, not long after starting my de cluttering journey, I re read them , found it all embarrassing and irrelevant and happily discarded them with great relief and no regrets..However I have six large ‘dream diaries ‘ – highly detailed dreams scribbled down in the middle of the night or early morning from a fairly introspective time of my life ( as an adult) and they are the only things that I’m unsure about . I’ve tried moving them about (sort of half way out the door) but that didn’t feel right so for now have put them back in my bedroom – they don’t take up much room and since I can’t decide if I will feel better or worse if I get rid of them I still have them . They are the only things that I have doubts about so for the time being I’m keeping them. I sympathise with your dilemma!

  25. I like this topic and as well I enjoyed reading the comments. I tried from time to time writing journals. But I failed. Possibly missing perseverance?
    So I am one of those people wishing they had some journals to store 😉
    This year I started with new idea. Excel-Journal!
    I made the cells big and into each cell I write just 2 or 3 sentences about what was important on that day.
    The idea is to have one column per one year.
    Accordingly I will see in future what happened on exactly the same day one, two, three and more year ago at a glance!
    (ok.. once again question of perseverance)
    In addition: It’s only one single file on my computer 🙂
    But back to Steena: I agree to Solange. There is apparently a difference between letting go useless emtional stuff and your journals.
    And it leads as well to a very philosophical question: Is it really the right way to declutter the past and the own history? Are people happier that only focus on today? Or shall wallowing in the past -including sad memories- as well be part of us and our lives?
    Honestly I don’t know.
    But maybe practical advise: Is there nothing else left in your home for decluttering?

    • I like that last point Chrissie. If the rest of the house is spacious, organised, tidy and free of clutter what does it matter if there are a few journals on a shelf somewhere.

  26. I once saw a documentary about William Flinders Petrie (1853 – 1942, archaeologist). His father, a historically insignificant man, drew a brightly coloured sun in his journal to celebrate William’s birth – the only picture in any of his journals. We only know this beautiful story because his descendents saved his journals.

    I have my father’s journals. They are generally brief descriptions of the weather and his day, but he was an engineer and those brief entries are just what he was like. Sometimes he wrote more intimately and this is where I begin to understand him as a person independent of me. One day I will offer them to our State Library, with some of his other papers, in the hope that in a century or so they may help some historical scholar understand the context of our lives today – consider what we know about the pioneers from their journals.

    I also write every day and my content varies depending on what I am thinking, feeling and doing. I also glue in show tickets, dog photos, postcards, pretty leaves and other detritus from the day. I reread them periodically and find it encouraging that I survived this crisis, or achieved that goal. I like rereading about the end of things; it reminds me to live each moment as it passes. Sometimes I worry about their frankness, but perhaps in two centuries, I will be the Michel de Montaigne or Samuel Pepys of our times. Or maybe I will demonstrate that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Such a shame that my child and teen journals are lost – what did we do before computers?

    • Hi Alex and welcome to 365 Less Things. A very good comment indeed and that is why I don’t like to advise people to throw this sort of thing away. Although in this day and age with all the methods of preserving history we probably have more evidence than future generations will need in order to understand how we lived. So personal journals will probably not even get much of a look-in unless they are from famous people. Unlike our ancestors for who having a photo taken was a privilege. When I think of my relatives past I find it is only the ones I knew and didn’t understand well that I really would like to know more personal details about. Personal details coming from their own thoughts that is. Getting information from the people involved in their lives never gives the full picture of who they were and how they saw life. I am sure my fathers view of his mother is very different to the way she saw herself and experienced the world around her. Aside from that I really have no great desire to now more about anyone else in my family line.

  27. This conversation has reminded me about my own journals which are hidden in my garage somewhere. When I get to that box in my current whirl of decluttering, I’m thinking of reading through them and sharing some of the teenage funny stuff with some of my still close girlfriends who were there at the time. A comedian did this recently as a show and it was hilarious.

    The other boyfriend/parents/miserable stuff I think I”ll skip. I haven’t read them in 10 years, and stopped writing when I entered a really happy stage in my life. In fact, I find I wrote only when I was depressed or sad so these adult ones are not going to be kept. I’m just going to rip them up.

    The State Library (and perhaps National Library) takes journals, perhaps they could be donated with instructions to not be released for another 50 years?

  28. I thought I’d always keep my journals, but every time I have a baby, I easily toss them. I have saves 2 small ones from a season I traveled a lot, and I believe the reason they’re so good is I wrote only a sentence about the day. That one sentence is enough to take me back to that day, and it is so funny what I chose to write. I wrote what meant most to me that day-a lot of it is funny now. I also did some great journals. So those 2 I keep. Maybe I can journal like that now, just a line to remember each day or the special days.

    Perhaps get rid of the negative, the dull, and save the pages you want others to read or that you want to save for yourself to read.

    The only thing I mildly regret getting rid of are the pages of emails my siblings wrote in college. Before I tossed them, I read them one last time and laughed.

  29. I’d scan them, too! This way they dont take up space but you or your children could still read them if wanted. Plus I’d probably get rid of the unpleasant memories – so that they are no longer occupying physical and mental space.