How to begin culling your stuff?
I just got sent this email asking these questions on how to begin culling your stuff – and below are my answers in bold.
I wondered if you could perhaps offer some guidance as to where to begin culling stuff. I am actually a minimalist anyway, so everything I have that doesn’t belong in the kitchen or the bathroom fits into 1/3 of a WIR and one cabinet (aside from bulky things like massage table, bike and sportsgear).
Basically you begin culling with everything that is not essential.
Firstly, if can be digitized, scanned, ripped, do it. I did that to all my books, CDs and DVDs. I copied everything. Then got rid of it all.
Then, anything that I just “liked” or was sentimental, I took a photo of it. Then, with my photo, I got rid of it.
I had a few parties and invited all my friends over to take whatever they wanted – then I took what was remaining to the second shops.
Over the years I have repeatedly culled from my collection any clothes, toiletries and jewellery I don’t wear or use… being a girl it tends to be the fallback present idea at Christmases and birthdays to give makeup, jewellery, body creams etc etc and they pile up unless donated to someone who may actually use them!! So I totally relate to your message about what we get for Christmases!! 😀 I have learnt now to ask early for something I especially need, like a replacement summer dress or my skincare products. I have taken to giving people presents like sponsoring an endangered animal, and once I have caught up with what I need for myself, that’s what I will be asking for come birthdays and Christmases.
Awesome ideas!! Also see my post on the craziness of Christmas.
I digress! My point is that I have not much to begin with, as I have progressively narrowed down possessions to what is most important for comfort and practicality. In the past I had a strong thirst for knowledge and studied many things – hence collected notes and workbooks and manuals and CDs and DVDs full of learning materials. The amount of stuff I had downloaded to my computer was literally filling a 256GB drive and I hadn’t even read/listened-to over 85% of it!! You’ll be proud to hear I have since deleted or donated much of that content and am still in the process of releasing what’s left.
Any documents that you have, workbooks, notes, etc – scan them.
Or, rather photograph them.
That’s what I did, snap, snap, snap!
Then toss, toss, toss – or give away.
Letting go of the notes and studies and research and wisdom and personal development manuals etc etc was the hardest part for me. I worked in natural medicines for so many years that I had literally FOLDERS full of information on health and wellbeing. Then I was developing course content for seminars and workshops on the seven areas of life, so you can imagine, right?… health being only one area of life, that I had almost seven times as much info collated for teaching!! OMG that has me confused!! I was trying to digitise everything but in the end it was just never going to be enough… there was always something more to learn, to know, to share, to teach. The course kept growing and expanding and I doubt I would ever have gotten started.
That does sound intense! a LOT of information!
I’ve been reading the books by Jed McKenna on un-learning 😉
So my information that had been gathered over almost 20 years became irrelevant. I handed a lot of it on to various friends who would either enjoy the research or be able to utilise it in their own business ventures, coaching practices and workshops/seminars.Which leaves me with just the core stuff I don’t quite know how to let go of now. Not because of any real attachment to it but because it still seems valuable information and it would be a shame to let that go to waste.
Take photos of each page, digitize it all. That’s what I did. Then you can give it away, or do whatever you want with it. But most importantly, you can throw away all the physical stuff.
I have digitised any old photos, all my CDs and some of the audio discs containing content that may still be valuable. I have been entering the contact details from business cards collected over the years into my computer’s address book. I am in the process of transitioning from business cards to an e-card for the spiritual teaching that evolved post-awakening (and to be honest, I never would have believed anyone who said I’d be a spiritual teacher, after being an environmental scientist, neuroscientist, naturopath and nutritionist and finally a professional speaker!… but somehow this is the ONE thing that feels more right than anything in my entire life. Go figure!! 😀 )
You’ve done a lot of the digitizing already!
So I guess that was a very long way of saying that I’m not too sure where to begin with culling the rest of my stuff. I recognise those things that are just “convenience” things that wouldn’t be necessary if I were living the lifestyle you live – such as kitchen utensils, crockery and cutlery, given that where you stay has all of those. Cupboards full of food – in fact, everything in the kitchen becomes utterly unnecessary! Furniture of course, gardening tools and all outdoor things… towels, linen etc etc. These are simply day-to-day practical things that are not necessary if where one travels has all of these (or doesn’t need them).
None of that stuff is needed. Everyone else has that. When I stay with people I use their stuff, they have it all. When I stay at an apartment at AirBnB – they have all of that. All the “stuff” to look after a home is not needed.
It’s what’s left that I’m not sure about. The nice clothes, the lovely toiletries, the special things handed down from parents or grandparents like ornaments or jewellery… the delightful things like singing bowls, crystals, candles and aromatherapy oils. Musical instruments, dance shoes (I dance up to four days a week, so it’s not a sort of social outing that other shoes would suffice for).
These are attachments. They reveal our clinging to our past.
Nothing wrong with. Just I have no interest in that. What little interest I had, I took a photo of, then got rid of it 2 years ago. I haven’t looked at any of those photos since ;)
You will need to decide what to do with them. If you want to “keep” them, “lend” them to a friend or family member, so that you could one day “take” them back.
I guess what astounds me most is how you manage from just two tiny backpacks! Yes if I were travelling for a living I could fit into such a small pack-space but to fit my entire LIFE into that, with nothing left behind to return to? I’m not sure! 🙁 It means letting go of the gorgeous evening gowns, the musical instruments, the beautiful hats, the singing bowls, whatever books I have left that are not available on kindle or ibooks/ebooks. And things like full-sized toiletries!!! 😀 How do you manage travelling with carry-on luggage only, given that you can’t have full-sized skincare products, toothpaste, shampoo/conditioner etc?!? Sure you can replace the shampoo and toothpaste wherever you go but as a girl – things like perfumes and body lotions?!? My skincare is expensive and I wouldn’t leave behind unfinished bottles! But couldn’t take anything over 100mls on the plane and not being available in stores, ordering online is fine but can it be delivered everywhere in the world?
This lifestyle might not be for you! 🙂
I have not had any troubles with toiletries. I don’t always just go “carry on” even though my 2 bags fit physically “carry on” style.
They are in fact too heavy. But sometimes I get away with it 😉
But mostly, I check one back in, and therefore the 100mls limit does not apply for checked in bags.
Therefore I don’t have to throw things away. I just buy them and take them with me.
I guess you have carefully considered all of these things and manage to get the products you use as your favourites wherever you go. Perhaps I’m just not seeing how it’s possible to maintain any semblance of my current comfort whilst travelling 😀 And of course, as you’ve said in many emails, in many ways you are more comfortable for a fraction of the price!
I am much more comfortable for a fraction of the price!!
This is a much cheaper way to live, and much more fun.
And I have not missed any items at all.
You’ll have to try to experience just how good it is.
In a snapshot, my current lifestyle, all expenses and mortgage included, cost me around $1250 per month. That gives me a 3bdrm+study house, 95% of which would be empty if my partner weren’t a hoarder!! 😀 😀 😀 I literally have one cabinet full of stuff, a bathroom cupboard, 1/3 of the WIR, and what’s in the kitchen. He has 3 sheds, the attic, 2/3 of the WIR, the office and the living room 😀 I have a friend staying permanently in one back room and my neighbour works from the other one. A very communal space hahaha! And my spiritual gatherings happen in the big empty living room.
Wow! You’ve got lots of stuff around you!
Point being, we have a large garden full of fruit and nut trees and herbs. We eat fresh from the garden as often as possible. We have space to spread out, he has space to store his hoards of stuff, I have the remainder of stuff from my healing business (massage table, aromatherapy oils, flower essences, candles, singing bowls etc) and room for my dresses, dance stuff, skincare and makeup. If you are suggesting that it’s possible to enjoy the same kind of comforts for less, and not miss the stuff you live without, I’m SO open to suggestion 🙂 🙂 🙂
Wow… what you’ve got going sounds perfect for so many people.
What I’ve got is so radically radically different. I don’t want to own anything. I don’t gardens, things, animals, beautiful objects, anything.
I want to be free. I like being free.
This means the freedom to move at a whim with very little needed.
But there is a trade off – one I’m very happy to make.
You don’t have any objects that are yours – the way you are describing them.
However, you could keep your place, rent it out, keep everything there, and go travelling for a few months a year, and return to it. You could even pick 3 favourite spots on the planet and move between them with all your favourite things.
I just like to have very little which gives me maximum flexibility.
My immediate goal would be to manage to fit everything dear to me into a car, allowing me to go anywhere in the country without needing to return for anything. Next would be a large suitcase perhaps. And maybe… one day… two tiny backpacks! 😀Bummer about the cats… 🙁
Have a listen to my new interview on this podcast where I talk about all of this for about 50 mins. I think you’ll learn a bunch more.
I’m not sure if this lifestyle is for you, but I think you would find out if you tested it!
I always knew it was for me, and I let it all go 2 years ago, and there is no going back for me now. I love this new life.