More Reasons Why I Love the Internet (Lifehacking at 50+)

My husband laughs when I sit down to plan travel. I spend hours at it; he thinks I spend more time on the planning than I do on the trip – and that may be true. I love to pore over the websites and guidebooks, take virtual tours, peek at possible hotel rooms and read reviews. So much so that, usually, I know a lot about the destination even before we get there.

That wasn’t the case on my most recent trip – and I regretted it. A crowded schedule (thanks to some serendipitous events) left me so short on time, I did little more than grab a plane ticket, book a hotel room and register for the writers’ conference I wanted to attend with my sister. So when I got to the city where I was going to spend eight days attending the conference, I knew very little about it.

Item: I called the hotel and asked the best way to get there from the airport. The perky lady on the other end assured me that the train was best. Upon arrival, she assured me, we just get off the train, walk a couple of blocks, cut through the parking lot for the cinemas, walk another block and a half, and we’d be right at the hotel.

Item: My flight took eight hours and when I arrived, it was raining (not to mention, getting dark). No way I am taking that train. Luckily, I know from the Internet that there is a Blue Star Shuttle which will drop us off at the front door of the hotel, costing a little more but saving us in dry cleaning bills and shoe damage and keeping our luggage dry.

Item: Two days later, when we do take the train, it is a mix of unfortunates – homeless and drug addicts. The drug addicts leave us alone. The homeless do not. The heroin addicts pass out. The homeless panhandle us, or scream at us not to touch their stuff. As if we would. The city is very proud of its rapid transit system, but still has an immense traffic problem – probably because no one wants to take the train.

Item: A quick look at Yelp tells us the best burger in town is at the pool hall. It is correct. A great stop and wonderful people. Once again, the Internet steers us correctly. But after the train episode, we take taxis.

Item: TV show had recommended another restaurant, which we tried a few days later. TV show did not say that there are two entrances to the restaurant, and that we should use the side entrance, which enters into the main dining room, where everyone under age 50 eats. Anyone who uses the other entrance, and is over 50, is shunted into a booth in a little dining alcove. When we asked to see the main dining room, we were met with sighs and grudgingly taken back, but quickly ushered back to our booth in Siberia. After the trip, I checked the reviews to see if others had the same problem, and they did. I should have checked online before going here also.

Long story short: when going to an unfamiliar city – or even one where you’ve been before, but want to try some new stuff – check it out online. Thoroughly. It’s not worth your time, your money or your safety to just go and investigate on your own. I believe you’ll have a much better time if you know where you’re going, how to get there and what you’re getting into.

How do you investigate things to see, do and eat in a strange city? Or do you check them out beforehand? Can you share a travel experience that would have been made better (or was made worse) by Internet research?

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New Year’s Reinventions (Lifehacking at 50+)

Reinvention: I’m not an expert, but I play one on TV (Lifehacking at 50+)

Okay, so the start of a new year means a fresh page in the Things I Want To Accomplish book, and that includes quitting bad habits and making new, good ones. Not resolutions – I’m not sure if those work – but more like Reinvention. Looking at life from a different perspective and saying NOT “what do I want to be?” but “WHO do I want to be?”.

Admitting that I need help sometimes (okay, a lot of the time), I’ve been doing a lot of research on reinvention lately. I find that a lot of it applies to retired people, so I’m including the findings here in the hope that it will give us SecondLifers some direction and hope. Now, if I can only follow these steps myself!

Steps to Reinvention

Keep in mind that we constantly reinvent ourselves. It is how we grow and improve over our lifetimes. There are some steps which, if you know them, will make the process easier.

You will probably fall apart first. Feel like nothing is working any more. Health problems, job loss, retirement stripped away your identity. That’s okay, it’s even good and healthy. Breakdown clears the way for change.

Learn the power of letting go (of the past, of bad programming, of futile hopes). Think about the future and who you could be if you let all that go. Who you want to be. Deep down inside. Choose that person over family, over bad upbringing and bad stuff you were taught in school, choose freedom from resentment and the desire for revenge, freedom over people-pleasing. Which means…

Don’t worry about what people think.

Admit fear.

Come right out and say, “I want to reinvent myself.”

Start by being honest with yourself and others. Clean up your life. Keep your word.

Describe your passion. See if you can get it down to ONE WORD.

Do research. Learn from the best, positive, role models. Read stuff about them.

Associate with the right people. Meet with them as often as you can. Join a group if it will help. Network. Find mentors if you can. BE AWARE that some of your current relationships – family, friends and so on – will try to sabotage you, because they are jealous that you will succeed where they haven’t, or they are afraid they will lose you as a buddy. Cut them loose (as much as you can; sometimes you can’t entirely avoid a family member, so ignore them to the extent that you can, or allow their snarky comments to roll off you). Stay with people who lift you up.

Size doesn’t matter. It may be a small change that sets you on a different path.

Put your money where it counts – invest in your happiness, not just in your financial future.

Do stuff that inspires you. If it keeps you moving ahead, keep doing it. If it makes you dwell on the lack in your life – education gaps, personality deficits, bad upbringing, lack of money, lack of relationships, lack of job, etc. – stop it and do something else.

It takes practice. You won’t get it right the first few times. And it takes a long time; especially if you are starting over in a new field, it will take about five to ten years. But those years will pass anyway; wouldn’t you rather spend them pursuing your dream? Begin again. Fail, start over. Begin again. Fail, start over. Begin… But be persistent. Keep at it.

Trust uncertainty. Seek your passion, then set out toward it, being open to possibilities and buoyed by the belief that you have what it takes to get you there. Get out of your comfort zone, but trust that you can do it. Yes, you will fail sometimes (see above), but if you keep at it, you will succeed. You’ve done it many times in the past.

And don’t fall back into your comfort zone by doing stuff you know you can accomplish well. Your day will be eaten up with housecleaning, grocery shopping, dog walking, emailing and making dinner, and before you know it, it will be gone.

The fast track is find your passion and chase it. That will help you focus. Break it into workable tasks and work toward the completion of a task every day. At the very least, once a week.

But! If you’re stuck, change direction.


If you don’t have a passion, or don’t know it, just do SOMETHING POSITIVE. It will get you moving. If nothing else, work on your health and getting into shape. Fill in your education gaps. Learn a language. Volunteer somewhere. However, it must be positive and IT CANNOT BE WITHIN YOUR COMFORT ZONE, BECAUSE THEN IT WILL BE BUSY WORK/PROCRASTINATION.

If you’re still looking for a passion, go back to your past and reflect on what used to float your boat. See if there’s a modern path that can re-ignite that flame. Were you in the middle of something when you got off track?

Then here’s the deal: you are going to rebel. You will do one or more of the following: (a) fall back into procrastination and busy work, and think that because you are accomplishing stuff, you are being positive. It doesn’t work that way; (b) get volatile and yell at people. Yes, reinventing yourself is frustrating and you will do a bad job at first, but you need to keep at it if you are to fulfill your dreams and your potential; (c) become very, very tired. You will want to sleep all the time, but recognize it for what it is – avoiding change, and tell yourself to keep working on your dream; (d) want to go out drinking and partying. Again, please recognize this as avoiding change.

But finally, you will see progress. And then the heavens will open and the angels will sing. And so will you.

Have you reinvented yourself? Will you share your story with us?

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No Noel (Lifehacking at 50+)

Okay, so I promised I would talk a little about holiday decorations, so here it is in a nutshell:

We don’t.

No, that’s right. We don’t put up anything at all. If you came to our house on Christmas Eve, it would look like any other day of the year.
Here’s the backstory on that: the husband has decided, for whatever reason (and believe me, I have tried to wheedle it out of him, and been stonewalled every time) that he does not care to celebrate the holidays. He will, if I tell him what I want, buy me a present. But he insists he does not want anything, and does not want a stocking, and does not want a Christmas dinner, etc. etc. In the past few years, I have coerced him into doing our electronic Christmas cards (since he is better at online publishing than I am), but he will not sign a single hard card. I do not know the reason for all this. It saddens me beyond belief, because I really like Christmas. But I am not going to fight over it any more.
For a few years, I took it upon myself to put up a tree and other decorations. I would spend an entire day decking the halls and hauling out the holly. All I got out of Himself was a shrug and a “huh.” So, as I was the only one enjoying it, it soon paled, and when I had to spend another entire day taking it down and cleaning it up, I decided it wasn’t worth it.
So here’s the deal. Behind his back, I do celebrate. I do secret things that make me feel like I am carrying out the true spirit of the birth of Jesus. I listen to carols, talk to friends and play Santa for folks that need it. It’s sad, but it’s the way I cope. If I could change his mind, I would, and we would celebrate again together, but until then…

We don’t.

Do you?

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Pop me a Coronita, Senorita (Lifehacking at 50+)

When I was young, and beautiful, and rich, I drank whisky. (And I spell it that way because what I drank was Scotch, which is spelled whisky, while only Irish and American whiskeys have the “e” in them.) Anyway I drank Scotch, and a lot of it, which I thought made me look very sophisticated while I staggered out of the bar, drooling on my blouse and wiping the cocktail-nut grease on my slacks.

When I wised up and realized that I didn’t look all that worldly, much less together, I switched to wine. Became a real connoisseur, in fact. Spent hours poring over the Parker ratings, took a class, visited the wineries and caves in France and northern California, bought in bulk and enjoyed a glass of wine every day when I came home from work. Until one day – ONE DAY – I got home, dropped my purse and tote bag, shucked my coat, grabbed a glass, poured some red, took a gulp and immediately got SLAMMED with a migraine that would last a week.

When the pain was finally gone, I tried again. Another glass of red, another devastating migraine.

I mentioned this to friends and co-workers, who informed me that red wine is, indeed, a migraine trigger, and all I needed to do was switch to white. Maybe only for a while, maybe for good, but white – they assured me – would do the trick.

So I went home and poured a glass of white, took a tentative sip and guess what? Was bushwhacked by the migraine and spent the following week doing a different kind of staggering, the kind one does when one has had a migraine for three weeks and it shows no sign of abating.

These are not mild headaches, my friends. These are not the simple dizziness that comes with a good wine buzz. No, no. This is full-blown, gut-wearing pain that takes space out of one’s day and keeps sleep away at night.

I railed at the friends and co-workers, who were baffled, until one of them said, “No, it isn’t the color of wine. It’s the sulfites.” So I raced to the wine warehouse, bought up all the wine with No Added Sulfites and tried that.

Chalk up week four of the migraine pain.

Well, I don’t know about you, but four weeks of grinding, blinding pain is enough for me. I swore off wine and used the bottles I had on hand as hostess gifts for the next three years. During which time I found I could drink only sparingly. Even one cocktail with gin or vodka would give me a hangover. The only thing I could enjoy was a margarita – and even then, only one per occasion. Which was difficult; try going to a Christmas party and asking for a margarita when the selection is red wine…or white.

So I switched to beer. Which is a fine line to walk for me. I can’t do dark beers, or wheat beers. I love the taste of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. But lately, I’ve found that I really just don’t care to drink a whole 12-ounce beer. I’ll open it, take enough sips over an evening to consume slightly more than half, and toss the rest. It seemed like a fantastic waste to me, so I bought some of those little things that cap the bottle, but they really don’t keep the beer from going flat overnight, so the bottom half of the beer is, truly, down the drain.

Then I found Coronitas.

The Mexican brewer of Corona has, miraculously, done all the work for me, in bottling 7 ounces of Corona in a smaller bottle. It’s enough for me to enjoy while I fix and eat dinner, or for one half of a football game, and I don’t have any left over. It’s a nice, pale beer, so I like the taste. I don’t get buzzed – not even a little bit – but I like the taste (there are some nasty blogs out there about Corona and Coronita; I don’t care – this is about me, not about them). Right now it’s perfect for me – about twice a week. Because in my dotage, when I am not so good-looking and can’t afford a huge liquor budget, to have a 7-ounce beer twice a week is, really, all I need. And – best of all during this holiday season – I can tuck a bottle in my purse for those Christmas parties where they serve only red or white.

Do you have a personal favorite drink that is your signature ask at the bar? Or is alcohol a thing of the past for you? For me, for a while, anyway, pop me a Coronita, Senorita. If the headaches come someday, I’ll move on to something else. YOLO.

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Holiday Hypocrisy (Lifehacking at 50+)

We weren’t much help to the neighbors when they asked for a hand putting up the Hallowe’en decorations. We’re not big on decorations anyway (more about that at Christmas) but we were really more of a hindrance in the black-cat-and-ghost department.
They wanted to put up one of those “Witch hitting a telephone pole” vignettes. With the four of us adults working on it, however, the end product looked more like the lead character from Wicked doing a pole dance. In the end, we posed the witch on her broom alongside the pole, sort of riding sidesaddle. But she still had the pole-dance smile.
I remember years ago, when I worked for a television station in another city, getting a phone call from a viewer who wanted us to remove our “Happy Hallowe’en” greeting from the air.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because it celebrates death,” she replied.
“It’s a 10-second message that says ‘Happy Hallowe’en,’” I explained.
“Hallowe’en is pagan,” she went on. “I’m a Christian and I demand—“
“The Church co-opted Hallowe’en from the pagans,” I began. “So, I hope you don’t have a Christmas tree at Christmas, because that’s a pagan symbol. And I guess you don’t celebrate Easter. The very name, Easter, comes from a pagan goddess. Easter eggs? Pagan. Holly and ivy? Pagan. Hallowe’en? Short for ‘All Hallows Even’, a church holiday.”
She hung up on me. Can’t imagine why.
I’m pleased to be in New Mexico now, where Hallowe’en is celebrated openly and without abandon.
Celebrate it, or don’t. But don’t be a flippin’ hypocrite.

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Stop nagging me about calcium (Lifehacking at 50+)

Get off my back about the calcium, already.
I am sick and tired of hearing from all my health care professionals, friends, foes, media and ads that I need more calcium.
I don’t. What I need is someone WHO IS AN EXPERT IN CALCIUM to tell me how to take it without f*cking up my entire life.
Here’s the deal: When I take calcium—
1. I get immediate, intense, crushing heartburn. The first time it happened, I thought I was having a heart attack. The pain goes all the way through to my back. It was unbearable. The people at the emergency room said, “Yeah, that happens when some people take calcium. Talk to your doctor.” The doctor, by the way, said, “Hm. That’s odd. But you need calcium, you know.” THAT WAS IT.
2. When I get past the chest pains, I start having leg cramps. Crippling. My feet curl underneath me and I can’t walk. Calf muscles (either the soleus or the fibularus longus, for those of you who care) begin to ache and then hamstrings tighten. If someone can carry me to the medicine cabinet, I can take some magnesium to help, but nothing else works (don’t bother telling me I’m dehydrated; I drink water till my head aches, which people tell me is also dangerous).
3. Then, I’m exhausted. I fall into a deep sleep from which it is hard to waken me. My blood pressure at this point is 80 over something (and no, I am not exaggerating, I have had it taken at that point and the taker panicked).
4. Blood pressure stays low for 2-3 days. During which time I can’t get up off the couch. I cry all the time, have no appetite (which is a good thing, because I am constipated) and am in the two-to-three-nap-a-day category. Trust me on this one, people: if I took all the calcium that “they” say I’m supposed to take, I would be a vegetable. A crying, sleepy vegetable.
Now I have told all of my health care people about this, and to the man (and woman) they all look at me like I am high on crack, and tell me how much I need calcium. None of them – NOT ONE – has given me alternatives, advice or solutions. But I’ll be damned if I am going to “live” like items 1-4 above, because that is no life at all.
I have tried calcium citrate, maleate, carbonate, and every other “ate” that calcium exists in. I have tried coral calcium, calcium blended with magnesium (worse than taking them separately), and green leafy vegetables. Someone told me that I need “chelated” minerals; I tried that and overnight developed a body odor of strong ammonia, like I had just wet my pants for the fifth time that day.
I went to a nutritionist, who came highly recommended. TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS LATER they did help me with several issues, but they seemed baffled at my reaction to calcium, and repeated the mantra, “well, you need calcium.” And when it became clear that I had no more money to throw at them, they hung up on me. Seriously.
So what do I do? In the mornings, I drink orange juice with calcium, and at night I have a glass of almond milk before bed. According to the labels, that gives me most of my RDA of calcium. But who knows? Who knows how much I am actually getting from that?
Has anyone out there had a reaction like this to calcium? What do you do?

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Remembering Robin Williams (Lifehacking at 50+)

Okay so I was all set to post some lame-o August blog entry on Living In Small Spaces or How Much a Dog Actually Costs or something all helpful when Robin Williams died.
Set me back a good ten days.
Yeah I’d heard that he had bouts with depression, but with his huge heart and his sense of humor and all that he had to live for – if he couldn’t do it, what hope do I have?
Stars die all the time (the old saw that these deaths come in threes is a bunch of crap; they occur on an ongoing basis and you can divide them up into threes if you want, but more will happen the next day, and the next). But this time, I actually sat down and cried.
Because right now the world needs Robin Williamses. There’s so much sadness and hate and brutality and downright meanness that we really need people like him. These are caring people, people who have good enough heads on their shoulders that they raise good kids, people who can look at the foibles of the human race and find the humor (or at least the irony) in them instead of using them as wedge issues to foment hate.
I always hoped I’d have the opportunity to thank him in person for the hours and hours of laughter and happiness, and the reflections on humanity that inevitably followed. Instead I am left with going all nihilistic and this “why bother to do anything, the world is crap” feeling.
The world let him down. He must have felt so alone.
What hope do I, who have a normal brain, and have to work for a day and a half to write a joke and then it’s not even particularly funny, and have to remind myself each morning to not be so stingy because everyone’s struggling, and have to deal with two unruly dogs because kids weren’t in my game plan – what hope do I have for leading any kind of life of hope and love and peace, and beauty and laughter?
Who will be our Robin Williams now?

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Celebrating (Lifehacking at 50+)

Last week was the birthday marathon, a seven-day fest of eating and drinking and doing things I’ve always wanted to do. Every once in a while I must indulge myself just to remind my mind what (and who) is important in my life, and what’s not.

Back in 2000, it was London. Great restaurants, trips to Greenwich and Bath, and my birthday watching Shakespeare at the Globe Theater. Could not have asked for anything better.

This year it was Seattle. I’ve always wanted to see the Space Needle, ride the monorail, go to Pike Place Market and just stand on the waterfront. So I did. My sis and I took in a Mariners game (they won), the Dale Chihuly Museum and Gardens, and some meals that were an insult to the poor and an affront to the gods.

And we celebrated. I personally celebrated three things. First, of course, was the birthday (the Mariners game). Second was leaving my previous life behind, throwing nostalgia out the window, selling my parents’ furniture and moving on (a fabulous meal at Queen City Grill on 1st Ave).

Third was the fact that I Did It. At a tapas bar I celebrated the fact that I made back every penny I lost in the crash of 2008. It took me five years, but now I am whole again, and in much better shape than I was back then because in those intervening five years, I have learned:

1. How the market works and that you cannot trust a broker to look out for you.

2. How to buy investments with your IRA (more about this in a future blog).

3. And most important – YOU CANNOT RETIRE ON YOUR SAVINGS. YOU MUST HAVE AN INCOME STREAM THAT WILL PAY FOR THE LIFE YOU WANT TO LEAD. I cannot stress this enough. Once you start spending principal, you are screwed. And you cannot leave that principal where it can be depleted in a day or two by criminal Wall Streeters.

So in that five years, the husband and I fired our broker and got out of the market, bought some great investment vehicles which create a nice income for us, and bought still more with my IRA. Now, not only do I have an okay retirement income (not rolling in dough, but pays for the groceries and health insurance), I am building my IRA back up again. And I am not spending principal. Principal, as a matter of fact, is appreciating nicely.

Uncle Sam still gets quite a chunk. Money is never free, and frankly, I enjoy the things taxes pay for (roads, schools and such). But the paltry sum left over is enough to live on and enjoy the occasional celebration.

It’s a great feeling and I’m still smiling to myself because I Did It.

Have you Done It? Have you recovered from the crash? If so, how did you do that? Or were you smart enough not to lose anything back then?

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My own personal archaeology (Lifehacking at 50+)

When we moved to our new (smaller) house, we tossed a lot of stuff in an effort to downsize. Much of it was redundant junk – stuff we didn’t use in the first place but then got duplicates of, like cheese boards and boot stretchers. Then there was the stuff we don’t use often, but had multiple versions: I don’t, for example, iron clothes a lot, but somehow I ended up with three steam irons. Two of them had to go. (I did insist we keep a backup coffee maker, and it has come in handy twice now when the whiz-bang, rocket-engineered version we bought with the house crapped out on us and had to be repaired. You gotta have coffee, thus, you gotta have a backup coffee maker.)

It’s an odd thing, this going-through-and-disposing project. I find myself re-living parts of my life, remembering things I’d forgotten and things I’d rather not have remembered. Each artifact I dig up out of some old footlocker or filing cabinet tells a little part of my life. Do I really want to scrap that? If my memory starts to devolve in the next few years, would these little things help me to piece together who I am and what I’ve been through?

Well, a coffee maker probably wouldn’t. But a photograph might.

Which brings me to the heart(break) of the problem. About three weeks ago I scavenged the house (combed the archaeological dig site) for all of the photographs, so that I could determine what to keep and what to scrap. I ended up with three big cartons. Then I went through said photos, one at a time, to see if I wanted to keep them – if they recalled a moment for me that I wanted to savor in years to come.

Note. The husband does not collect, or look at, or want, old photographs. Has absolutely no interest in them. So he did not have to take part in this excavation, nor did I have to run any of the proposed disposal by him. He Just. Doesn’t. Care. So please don’t think I am railroading this past him. If you’re skeptical, just ask his older brother, or better yet, the brother’s wife, who is now the Unofficial Keeper of the Golden Family photos. In a very large trunk. That she can’t get rid of.

Back to the cartons. Now, in my youth, I was The One With the Camera. I didn’t always know how to use it, and I didn’t always use it right, but I took a LOT of photos. And now, 45-plus years later, I have no idea what they are photos OF. Many are just landscapes – random mountains that I shot on some family vacation; a waterfall; a field with horses in it. I am clueless as to where they were taken, or why. I’m sure I just thought they were bucolic (a word I didn’t even know back then) and worth saving on film.

Note 2. This was back in the days of negatives. Which I also kept. Which also take up room in these three cartons.

Some of them were photos of people I seldom saw and can’t for the life of me recall who they are now. People with whom I have had no contact for decades.

And some are memories I’d rather forget. I’ll just leave it at that. You may have a few of those of your own.

So I can toss all of those with no regrets. But then there’s the others…photos of the husband and me on early camping trips, when we didn’t have a dime but life was still good. Pictures of my mom as a girl; my dad as a soldier. Their honeymoon photos. Do I want to save those, to think that my mom and dad actually had some tender moments early on before the bad times? And photos even before that – of my grandmother as a girl, in a long dress, high-button shoes and a cameo at her neck, in the photographer’s parlor. Before that, HER father’s civil war regiment. And so on. Are those worth saving?

In the end, I made an initial culling. Saved the potsherds of a few lives and tossed those that have no meaning. I got it down to one carton and stuck that box back into the corner of a closet that is already over-full, like the archives of a natural history museum that has too many kangaroo rat carcasses and will need to get rid of some. I know that I’ll need to do it again in a few years, and hope I will have the mental and emotional strength to do it then. And for right now, I feel like I’ve accomplished something.

But deep down, I know it’s not nearly enough. If anything happens to me – as it eventually will – these photos will mean nothing to those who come after. Which is the saddest part of all.

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What Now? Lifehacking at 50+

The Dread Shred Project

For years I dreaded April 15 – tax time. Not because I have to do the taxes; the husband does that, with his uber-geek powers and the arcane secrets of TurboTax. No, I dreaded the Ides of April because it was a clear, yearly reminder to purge the household of all the old records.

(Laws vary from state to state about keeping some records, but the basic rule is that you can (and should) get rid of records more than seven years old. Of course, there are exceptions; some stuff needs to be kept in perpetuity, and some can be tossed right away. You should check with your accountant for clear instructions on what to keep and what to divest.)

So each April 15, until last year, I would scour the house for stuff eight years old or older. Then I would sit on the office floor with my little shredder and feed the files, page by page, into the shredder’s toothy maw and watch as the papers were cut into little ribbons.

Sometimes it took an entire evening. Sometimes it took two evenings, or three. I’d stand up with an aching back, a mess of shredding to bag and take to the curb, and an overheated shredder. That’s when I started to resent the whole effort, and titled it the Dread Shred Project.

Last year, because we had just moved into this house, I didn’t do it. Partly because I couldn’t find the old records I needed to shred, and partly because I was just too exhausted from moving and unpacking to gather everything, separate out the pages that needed obliterating, and shove them one by one into the machine.

You guessed it. This year, I very responsibly went through the whole place and gleaned everything that wanted destroying. In addition to the (now two years’ worth) old records, there was extra stuff we had identified for disposal during the move.

I looked at the stack.

It was huge. Two cartons, full.

The thought of shredding that mass – and the hours it would take – sent me to the (yes, hard-copy, low-tech) phone book to let my fingers do the walking. The yellow pages aren’t really intuitive; the listing I needed wasn’t under Shredding, it was under Office Document Destruction. The company I chose is NAID AAA Certified, and has stringent security measures.

Took the cartons to the facility. Once I found it (these places aren’t in the nice, commercial retail neighborhoods) I was let into a fenced parking lot and instructed where to park. Went inside, told the person at the desk what I needed and she called for a Team. It turns out, they have to have more than one person pick up your material so that no one person is alone with your stuff at any given time.

The team took the stuff from my car, hauled it inside, and with me watching dumped it into their industrial shredder, which atomized the records in just a few seconds. They gave me a Certificate of Destruction, and I paid the person at the desk.

This cost less than twenty-five bucks.

Worth it? You bet. No aching back, no overheated shredder, and two more cartons of unneeded old records out of my house. Plus, the peace of mind of knowing that all those pages with valuable identity stuff are powder now.

Do you get rid of your old paper? How often? And how do you do it?

Would you consider using a commercial operation to shred your stuff?

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