Category Archives: Life

Why is moving so hard? The struggle to lighten up, give up, and let go.

Moving out — moving on

“Have nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” — William Morris.

Everything changes.

I just emptied an apartment full of furniture, things, stories, and stuff. I carried couches, desks, and pieces of furniture up and down (and up and down) many flights of stairs across hilly San Francisco. I donated 600 books and gifted them to friends across the city.

Moving is so freeing and yet so hard.

And I wrapped up a life living in this beautiful home, this beautiful city, with so many good friends.

"We're making space for new adventures," my husband reminded me. "Don't keep anything you don't remember you had in the first place."

But it's so hard. The labor of moving everything. The memories.

Moving is exhausting. The energy of lifting, analyzing, purging, and letting go — it's no small task. When I got overwhelmed recently in the pile of stuff that somehow accumulates around one's home, I went online in a desperate plea to my minimalist friends — "Help!" I said, "How do I do this?"

Joshua wrote back a simple truth — and it made me laugh:

"You are not your dishtowel." — Joshua Fields Millburn

Right. Right!

I am not my things.

I get to keep the stories, the memories, the transformation. My life is not a couch. My memories are not held inside of a sofa.

When I got back to New York this weekend, I decided to continue the cleansing: we piled up four more bags of books and clothes and cleaned out our home. More and more, I'm inspired by lightness, ease, minimalism, and letting go -- letting go of past stories, details, habits, and junk.

Why do we each need to keep our own personal bookshelves? If I need a book in the future, I'll borrow it or get a digital copy. I trust that the world will have this information, regardless of whether or not I house the words within my own tiny square-foot home. I do not need to own hundreds of books to continue to thirst for knowledge.

“There are two ways to be rich: One is by acquiring much, and the other is by desiring little.” — Jackie French Koller.

“Simplicity involves unburdening your life, and living more lightly with fewer distractions that interfere with a high quality life, as defined uniquely by each individual.” — Linda Breen Pierce

What is the weight of holding on to all these "things"?

Plus: what is the weight of carrying around a hundred books I haven't read yet? The oppressive weight of "should" on my shelf must hold substantial weight in my mind, pinning me down to past wishes, thoughts, and dreams.

What if I free up that shelf space -- mental, physical, karmic? Send those books to places they will be loved and cherished, rather than collecting dust in my own life? Root to rise, my yoga mantra. My roots come from my community, my connections, my spirit. My rise comes from weightlessness, expansiveness, ease. If I hold on to unread books, I hold on to unfinished committments. A bookcase full of shoulds and one-days and look at what you haven't done staring down at me in my morning meditation.

“Any half-awake materialist well knows – that which you hold holds you.” — Tom Robbins.

The sadness of leaving + the freedom of space.

As I prepared to leave San Francisco, my home — my only permanent residence for most of my waking life — I kept tearing up about the friends and the people I would miss. Would giving up my home and apartment mean I could never come back? And then my friend Leah reminded me that I'll always be back. The cool whispers of San Francisco's foggy oceans will also be one of my homes.

"You're family here. We'll have space for you whenever you return. It's not about the couch. Just come, whenever you want. It can be easy." 

And I remember that I get to keep all the stories, all the memories. I so grateful to this beautiful coastal city and to the rich community of people I have met over the years. I love it here.

And I love what's next, even if I have no idea what it is.

Let go of what's not serving you, even if it's as innocuous as books. Make space for your future self. 

To adventure, creative living, the sharing economy, and change.

And as Carol Pearson writes, to a new story, to a new narrative:

"Most of us are slaves of the stories we unconsciously tell ourselves about our lives. Freedom begins the moment we become conscious of the plot line we are living and, with this insight, recognize that we can step into another story altogether." —Carol S. Pearson, The Hero Within

To an adventure. To freedom.

For more quotes on simplicity and minimalism, check out Joshua Becker's list of inspiring quotes on minimalism — many of which I used as part of this essay. 

a love story.

I was making a book; he was a book designer. We talked on the phone — me, in San Francisco, him in Brooklyn. We chatted for nearly an hour before I convinced him to let me hire him as a consultant for a project. I paid the standard rate, typical deliverables — and yet I wantedContinue Reading

Are you living? Because sometimes, I can forget.

“It’s not that we’re afraid of death—we’re only afraid of death because we want to make sure we’ve lived enough.” —Chris Guillebeau, @AliveinBerlin Remains of the Berlin Wall (left), and Templehofer Feld, an abandoned airport (photographs by Alex). Three and a half years ago, I booked a plane ticket to Portland, Oregon. I went by myself—all alone,Continue Reading

When you’re tired, worn out, beleaguered, scared, underfed, miserable, alone: a reminder. #dosomething

I don’t care who you pretend you are. I don’t care so much who you pretend you are when you’re well fed, well dressed, well slept, put together, prepared, And so called ready… When the polish is fresh and the face newly painted, airbrushed layers covering freckles, pock-marked skin with storied layers hidden; the script lockedContinue Reading

How do you combat loneliness? A brand new talk at ALIVE in Berlin + an epic scholarship opportunity worth $400.

How do you deal with loneliness? The problem with my first job wasn’t the job itself—it was how few people I knew at the company. In most structures throughout my life—family, school, college, sports—we bonded as teammates and community members because of shared goals, ideas, and dreams. Yet at work, I barely had friends. PerhapsContinue Reading

When your ego starts yelling at you… remember this:

Ever have those voices in your head, while you’re working or trying something new? That ego. The voice that tells you, whispers softly, cruelly inside of your mind: “You aren’t good enough. This wasn’t very good. Why did you bother? You’re not in shape enough. You should go to yoga class, but it’s not goingContinue Reading

Darkness and light: why writing is an act of bravery.

“Only when we’re brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our life.” — Brene Brown Writing is an act of bravery. Each year, when I teach our writing workshops, I get to work with a small group of twenty-some writers, thinkers, and creatives. Inevitably, the process gets difficult in weeksContinue Reading

Are you itching and ready for change? So many beautiful ways to start the new year. Here are a few programs and classes I love.

I have a confession to make. I signed up for three courses this January, and I’ve got so many notebooks and pens and pencils out that I’m doing geeky little dances around my apartment, although my apartment keeps getting messier and messier. Magazines, scissors, glue, crafts? Check. Class on financial awareness and making money as aContinue Reading


When did someone sit down and promise you that it was supposed to be easy? Or better yet, fair? It’s not guaranteed to be easy or fair, and the people who get what they want go after it–in spite of and because of–each and every advantage or disadvantage they are thrown.Continue Reading

Your job is to create.

Your job is to create something in this world. With your human hands, your brain, your vision, your dreams, your desires. Make something. Make something with your mind, with your hands, with your heart. Put ingredients together and craft a batch of bread. Fold paper origami cranes. Make ideas come to life through words andContinue Reading