Category Archives: Reflection

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. 

What to do about negative feedback.

Are you hungry enough? So I’m at home on a Saturday night, and I’m watching America’s Next Top Model, one of my guilty pleasures and trashy TV shows that I sometimes tune into (it’s that, Project Runway, and Suits that make me curl up with a bowl of popcorn after a long day). While you can holdContinue Reading

Creating your own weekly review: Robert Cooper on finding ways to be exceptional.

Living up to your potential sounds pretty fancy. It’s something we all want, right? Live up to your potential. Maximize your potential. Be all that you can be.  But how, exactly, do you do it? How does an intangible life objective become manifest into your daily routine? For Robert Cooper, author of The Other 90%: HowContinue Reading

Finding the little bliss(es): this is it.

Where is happiness? Where do you find it? The $7 coffee pot we bought the day we moved in together–because we knew that functioning properly as a team might require adequate dosages of caffeine in our morning routines. Stretching my toes against the curb while waiting for the light to change. High-fiving the blinking walkContinue Reading

A little note on letting go…

Clear your plate. Let go of things that don’t serve you. That don’t inspire you. Give up things that aren’t working. Release. Let out a deep sigh. Pause. Inhale. Exhale. Take a shower. Dunk in a waterfall. Wash it clean, letting water drip down around you, pour over your head. Feel the world rinse you off, like aContinue Reading

Project hangovers, self-criticism, and the necessity of making messes.

I have a confession. Sometimes–more nearly like every time–after finishing a project, I hate it. My writing class? Sucks, obviously. Last week’s essay? Good God, that could have been better. All those open and empty drafts waiting to be finished? Seriously, could have worked harder to get those done.  And on and on… My brainContinue 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

What’s in the trunk? A mysterious tunnel inside the house… and some of the things I’m so grateful for.

What’s in the trunk?   My dad just moved to Colorado and I’m here for the week, visiting for the first time. The cold, snowy mountains outside of Denver are filled with deer, elk, and other creatures that wander up to the backyard and say hello. (There’s also a new dog in the family that’sContinue Reading

Winter workshop: cultivating gratitude, opening to grace. Begins December 1. Join us.

Crack. That moment, when your heart swells in open with thanks. When a stranger sends you a smile and a whisper. The unexpected brush of a hand against yours.  The warmth of the subway air after a walk through frozen city streets. A free coffee from the barista. When a taxi driver waves you forward andContinue Reading

The Bali journey: in photographs.

I’m a little bit at a loss for words. I’m back from Bali, landing back in the USA after a flight pulled me 13 hours backwards in time, depositing me into the winter hemisphere. While I was gone, our city decorated the streets of Brooklyn with holiday lights, and folks have pulled out their hatsContinue Reading