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Five tubs, three boxes and two bags. These carry the documented memories of our “early years.” Our marriage, the baby years, school plays, sporting events, vacations, holiday gatherings, proms, first cars, first loves, graduations, and more. We’ve packed and unpacked and hauled and hauled these heavy treasures as they accumulated over nearly thirty years. And while we may have built some muscles in the process, they take a lot of space, physically and mentally.

Clearly, we want the pictures. We treasure the memories. In their current form though, we rarely enjoy them. Our quest for minimalism, simplicity and flexibility requires us to face this mound of mementos. So we decided to digitize them.Ā  My husband was instantly ready for this. I agonized over it.

I’d assembled the albums with love and care, you see. Much money and time was invested. I worried that the order I’d achieved (albeit far from ideal) would be destroyed altogether, stifling me from action for years. About a month ago we hauled every last tub, box and bag into our living room. This was strategic. I needed to SEE them every day. TRIP over them in fact. STARE at the mass of space they consumed. It took weeks of absorbing this truth before I was ready to start.

I spent a Saturday scanning in about 20 photos. I then looked at the thousands left to scan and realized even with the patience of Mother Teresa this was an impossible task. So I took yet another deep breath and realized I’d need to employ a scanning service (meaning I’d trust the shipping process for a safe return).

This weekend we spent hours pulling out, sorting and organizing photos. We have many, many more hours ahead to the finish. In the end, all our photos will be neatly stored on CDs and ready to share with our kids. We can view any combination of slide shows, easily find any photo for any purpose. They’ll be preserved and protected from damage. And most of all, they’ll be portable without lifting and storing heavy tubs.

Like muscles, sometimes we must tear apart to rebuild. And like they say, “no pain, no gain.”