How Do You Get Rid of 30 Years of Stuff?

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This post about selling all my stuff was originally published in 2007. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content. 

We are sitting amidst makeshift furniture, boxes, piles of “stuff” scattered everywhere; we are moving! Well, not so much moving as liquidating.
Currently we are working towards separating all our belongings into 4 piles:
1) Take with us
2) Store
3) Sell
4) Give Away

Take With Us: Knowing that everything I need to survive and travel for the next undetermined period of time needs to fit into a backpack is a little daunting, especially to a born-&-raised-Toronto-girl who is used to the accessibility, freedom, and creature comforts of Canada. Kelly can cope with this a little better than I, since he has lots of experience in the mountains of Alberta and guiding in the Algonquin for weeks at a time and knows how to keep things simple – for the most part.

Interestingly I read once that when faced with a situation like ours, women will tend to over-pack clothes, and men will over-pack “gear”. That’s a pretty accurate statement too; I absolutely have to have a coordinated outfit for every possible occasion, and Kelly keeps sneaking another piece of “oh-my-gosh-we-won’t-survive-without-this” equipment into the ever-increasing pile of items we’ll be stuffing into our packs.

In order to keep each other in check we are making sure that everything getting packed has at least a dual purpose. All I need now is to find a travel dress that doubles as a cooking stove – then we’ll both be set!

Store: We don’t have any family with basements or other spaces to store our stuff in Ontario, so we had to decide to either pay for storage or sell everything. Since we don’t know when we’re coming back, and if we even want to return to Ontario when we do come back, we couldn’t justify the outrageous cost of storage. Part of this journey is about letting go of some of the materialistic values & conditioning of our society, and there is no better way to do that than to, well, let go!

So anything considered irreplaceable will be stored. Irreplaceable items would include artifacts collected from previous travels, heirlooms, china & crystal, and pictures/scrapbooks. The piano is being kept and well loved by some friends (Nimet & David – thanks again!), along with an heirloom grandmother clock. And Bill (bless your heart) will be storing all the rest in boxes for us. We hope not to exceed 10 boxes of belongings. Yup – we’ve managed to reduce the evidence of our lives until now to 10 boxes. It’s actually quite liberating, and has helped us to identify what’s really important in life.

And anything that doesn’t fit into the first two categories gets sold or donated. This has been going on for a few months already, and it’s very tough watching belongings that represent a lifetime (so far) of accumulation and growth walk out the door. There are memories attached to so many things – and some of it I just plain like too!

I will be heartbroken to leave this loft. It is just the place I dreamed of living in when I was growing up. And we had it so nicely decorated too. As various pieces of furniture are being sold, we are tempted to print out pictures of each item and tape them to the wall in the empty space where that table or desk was. The only reason we don’t is because we already sold our printer too.

It has been incredibly stressful dealing with the process of selling everything and having less and less to exist with. And moving in the simplest of circumstances is counted among life’s top three stressors. However we continue to plug along, knowing that the end is near.

And the end? Well really, it’s just the beginning……

Check out this very entertaining/disturbing movie about The Story of Stuff.

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