February 27, 2014 11:57am Published by Jules Smith in The Art Philosopher 36 Comments

I’ve been mulling over my life, like you do, for the past few weeks, months, years.  Anyway, I have decided  that I have too much stuff. Stuff accumulated over time; stuff that makes me think “Why did I get this stuff?” and stuff I believed I desperately needed for whatever fanciful reason that popped into my head that day.

Result:  I feel stuffed.  I feel weighed down by things and ownership. 

I don’t know if it’s my desire to experience a zen like tranquility or if it’s to do with a book I once read or a post I saw on material greed but I have decided to get rid of pretty much everything I own.  My plan is to have the bare essentials by the end of this year.  Things that I actually NEED rather than meaningless paraphernalia.

So a few weeks back I got to work on putting stuff on eBay.

I hate eBay.  Just putting that out there. It would be more appropriate to say that I get racked off with some of the idiotic questions I get asked about items I’m selling like:

“Oh… You don’t post to Australia.”

Assuming this was a rhetorical question, I ignored it.

Two days later.

“Well, do you post to Australia? ”  Do I really have to answer this question since it says UK only? 

“ Can if you like, if you’re prepared to pay more in postage than the actual item is worth then I’ll do it just because I find this fascinating if not rather insane.  Each to their own.” 

Suffice it to say, the Aussie stepped out of the game.

Then came another question on a different item.

“ I notice on the tea set you are selling that there appears to be a hair line mark inside one of the cups.  It’s very small, a quarter of an inch if that. Would you take a buy now price and a reduction because of this?”

I went to check the cups.  I couldn’t bloody see it. 

“ Petal, this is a 1920’s vintage tea set.  It’s incredibly rare and we both know how much it’s worth. So to cut to the chase, no.  I’d rather give it to someone who loved it like I did.  I don’t think that’s you.”

I don’t make many friends on eBay.

Week by week things have been disappearing from my home and my pay pal balance has been steadily creeping up.  I have taken over 20 bags of books to the library and even Oxfam are now giving me free £5.00 Marks and Spencers vouchers ( to buy more stuff) because I have given them so many things that they need to open another shop. 

My home is so empty that I’ve now reached a new level of ‘shedding’ and have decided to move house.  I live in a place that is too big and too old.  The bills are colossal because of this and my life is spent on constant upkeep and paying over the odds to live. 

I love old houses and character but I’m now sick and tired of living in a money pit that means I can’t do all the things I want to: like drink wine in Tuscany throughout August.  So it’s going on the market and I’m going to find an energy efficient box. Something I would have turned my nose up at before.  

I’m both dreading the move and looking forward to it at the same time. I will miss overlooking the greenbelt countryside and seeing the sun rise over the connecting fields and farmers crops.  I will miss the colossal space around me.  I will miss the feeling of belonging that this house has given me since I first walked into it.  That scares me.

But, I will not miss the £300 a month electricity and gas bill, the extortionate mortgage and council tax, the constant gardening in summer, the painting and repairing and so on. 

I’ve even become anal and done a spreadsheet on what I will save every month by living in a new, energy efficient residence. It’s incredible and will enable me to fund my creative path as a starving artist, travel more frequently and be free to actually live.  That’s got to be worth it.  And…. I’ll never have to go on eBay again.


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Someone’s been attending meditation classes. Hasn’t she?

This is an exercise in liberation. Left unchecked, you could have easily turned into a hoarder. Perhaps they’d have done a TV program about you, but that’s still no way to live.

I’d like to say, “Yes, of course I have” but I haven’t. I’m way to impatient to meditate. I’ve tried. But I have read about it and read spiritual books in order to try and chanel this way of life into me. I think I’ve always had a sense or need for freedom and get very bogged down with the rat race. Like most people I have been driven in the past to “have” and “own” things because I could and I thought it would make me feel better, when in actual fact it doesn’t. Give me a camera and a destination and I’m much happier. I have finally realised that.

Wow Julietta, I think I shall sell everything too and meet you in Tuscany (what little I have anyway). You know this hits home for me too 😉
How weird is this: up until 3 years ago, we too lived in a huge house over-looking green rolling fields… a kilometer away from a small airport on the left, and another KM away from a Game Farm on the right. Then we decided to move for economical reasons and my Dad converted the house into apartments.

I think that’s a cracking idea!
Yeah, big houses are lovely until you have to pay for them and repair them. You have to have rather a lot of disposable income and I haven’t! Your Dad is wise.
To be honest the ‘getting rid’ of stuff has been very cathartic. Sometimes a bit painful but isn’t that all part of the cleansing? Now I can’t stop, as usual I have become extreme!

Oh Jules: I knew it was only a matter of time before you discovered your inner gorilla and yearned for the freedom of the void. I have very few possessions – just my old circus pantaloons and a few bananarands hidden in a secure place. I think the time has come to invite you to my jungle retreat for some tree-climbing and ape yoga!

Roll out my hammock Mr. GB! Yoga pants are donned!

how others have defined freedom:

* Kurt Cobain: punk rock.

* me: post-computer-life life.

* zen: you are your only possession, sell it on ebay to the highest bidder…or something like that, that’s not quite right, but, y’know…

Yeah.. I’m the woman who sold the world!
Do you know what, I might just sell myself and see what I’m worth!

How radical and sensible.

I used to live in a top-floor flat, and one winter I came home to find the roof had blown off and the fire brigade had cordoned off the corridor, declaring the area unsafe. I had to quickly decide what to save / what was important to me. So I grabbed my cello and a four-pack of beer and I was out of there.

Hope your move all goes smoothly.

Walking Aimlessly

See, I like that. My cello and a four pack. What a fine choice. Did the dog mind? 😛
Thank you.

Don’t sell yourself, Jules. I sold myself once. It was a disappointment for all involved and I had to give the money back.
And: Three hundred quid a month on gas and electric?! Crikey, I thought mine was bad!

You should have held out on a “NO returns” policy Masher!
Yeah, it’s outrageous! It’s gone up from £200 because I was using too much. I’m convinced I have a leak or i’m paying for the street!

Material items can be taken away from you without your consent in so many ways. I think you are doing the right thing by letting these things go. When I got divorced my earthly belongings were reduced to a 10′ x 10′ storage space. It was very liberating to get rid of all that clutter.

That’s very true. I’m also finding it somewhat cathartic.

I NEED to do what you’re doing, but I know that I won’t. I have so much stuff that our staircase is half-covered with books. It’s a bookshelf/staircase now. Yes, slightly dangerous. One saving grace this large house has, which was a selling point for me when I bought it, is a super energy efficient roof, complete with NASA foil-backing to massively reduce the amount of heat/cool air leaking through the roof upstairs. Plus a ridgevent. Plus energy efficient windows. It’s twice the size of the house we used to live in, exactly twice the square footage. But the energy bill each month is the same or even less most months. Considering the cost of moving, assuming you don’t literally get rid of everything and don’t really have much to move, perhaps a new energy efficient roof and windows might be something to look into? Or out of. Or something. Then again, if you’ve already begun this path and prefer to continue down it, clearing out your things and moving, then none of this matters. You may need a change just now and perhaps its more beneficial to you to clear out the stuff and find a newer home than to simply improve where you’re at. We all need a change now and then.

That could be a new design feature. People could just stop on the stairs and read. How novel…
It could be an option but everything’s so expensive here it would cost me a fortune to do it. I need to move on to smaller pastures and become more Ruby Tuesday!

I have known people who lived in mansions who couldn’t afford to heat or cool them, yet rather than sell their mansions, they simply froze in the winter and boiled in the summer. I’ll take comfort over appearance any day, although sometimes people are in the unenviable situation of being able to afford neither. I’ve thought about going on eBay myself to get rid of clutter, but my fiancee has decided to go the old-fashioned route of simply sticking all the things that we no longer wish to possess on our front lawn and selling them to passers-by. We call it a “yard sale” in Alabama – I’m sure you Brits have a similar convention, although the name would undoubtedly puzzle me, much like “knocking someone up” I think has a VERY different meaning “across the pond.” Good luck with the move!

We have a thing called a car boot sale. You drive to a field, set up a table and wait for everyone to offer you 10 p for everything. I don’t think my personality could cope with face to face – worse than eBay- connections. This is why I need to ZEN out!
Well, knocking someone up here means – getting them up the duff or putting a bun in the oven or more politely, getting a lovely little lass, pregnant. Same there?

Hmm… I’m going to have to consult my American-to-British dictionary. It DOES mean the same thing here!

I laughed when I read “I don’t make many friends on eBay.” And again at “I’ll never go on eBay again.” It was the way you brought the statements around. Very clever.

About stuff…my oldest brother whom I dearly loved had what he called a “ten year plan.” He never carried anything to the dump. Instead he would carry it to an out building, store it for ten years and then throw it away. This was of course before eBay existed. I’m sure he never threw away any antique tea sets…

I don’t know what I think about the house. My nephew and his partner have what I think is a similar residence they’ve lived in for twenty years at least. They are planning on selling it for the same reason you are – high electricity bills and even with that it’s still cold in Winter.

Why thank you David!
I bet that was like Aladdins cave! Ten years! gosh…
Yep – it’s just too much bloody hassle and I’ve had enough. How can I possibly be a creative genius with that kind of oppression? Exactly.

We have a facility called “craigs list” whereby one can get rid of stuff for money. I have rid myself of much accumulation through this exit.
A 20 gallon aquarium was the latest offer. $40 for the whole rig. Turns out I cannot keep the fishes alive over the long term. . . Anybody want a slide projector?

Believe it or believe it not, Goatman, one of the many items I am selling is a 2″ x 2″ projector and screen which I took from my grandfather so I could view his slides. Guess what? Nobody wants it. It’s going to charity. Unless… you’d like mine?

I told Angie when I’m dead you need to stuff me. Now I know why she got upset. She obviously doesn’t want any more stuff. Blue paraphernalia is the worst kind. I tried to sell myself on Ebay. The potential buyer asked me why I was so expense. The nerve. So, yeah, I’m not making friends on eBay either…. apparently.

That’s funny Blue. My best friend and I have always said, “When one of us dies we must be stuffed” Why not? Make a very interesting coat stand if placed in the hallway.
You don’t want friends from eBay, they are self important wankers.

Yeah, why not? I mean, I would be decorative, right? Um… 😉

And it would be so mental that it would become famous and you could charge people to come and view it (people like the macabre, don’t they) and then there’d be loads of money for a Bora Bora rocket ship. One snag – If I’m stuffed I wouldn’t be going..damn.

You could market me and buy that ticket to the tropics. It would be, you know, on me. Don’t you just love the idea of a Bora Bora rocket ship thingie?

Tuscany? What is it about women and Tuscany? Yes, I’ve been there and it’s nice, but it is one of those lode stone locations for women that somehow draws them. Yes, I like Florence as well as the next person, but why there when you have Cuomo and across the border into Lugano? WHY? I have never received an answer. There is no Alpine backdrop in Tuscany and the lakes on the Italian border are just so much more of the sort of place that you’d think that women would flock to.

As to dumping all that you don’t want/need, I’m on board and couldn’t agree more.

There are no hearses with luggage racks.

Well, I suppose Tuscany has a dreamy romance about it but I like all of Italy. It’s just the sort of place that I can imagine being on a go slow, supping fine wines and just zoning out of the madness. I particularly like the lakes so that would be just as idyllic.

But there could be . Get buried with your shit!

very nice all for downsizing – are you going to live in a yurt. Still I tend to like big rambling places full of shit and bills I can’t pay

Oh no – I couldn’t do a yurt.
Yeah, me too but now I’ve had enough of all that romantic malarkey!

Wow that is very brave of you! Good luck with that, I fully support you!

When I moved a few months ago, I felt overwhelmed by all the stuff I had accumulated in 3 years! I threw out half of them, and I want to get rid of even more! I don’t have the patience to list them on ebay, though. Maybe I should donate to charity or something.

Well, a spiritual friend of mine ( I have a few of these witchy type people as friends for some reason.) told me that if I give to charity then i make room for good stuff to come back to me. Obviously I don’t really WANT anymore stuff but I won’t turn my nose up if a macbook air were to arrive with a pair of tickets to Bora Bora. Less and quality ids my future! Whilst eBay is a colossal pain in the arse, I’m liking my paypal balance. Now I’m running out of things to sell – it’s mostly ALL gone and I feel renewed.

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