Getting Rid Of All My Stuff

{ 107 comments }

How to Get Rid of Stuff

I love Stuff.

I know it’s uncool to admit this, but it’s the truth.

Minimalism and simple living may be a refreshing change for a weekend camping trip, but after a few days in the wild, I miss my Stuff. Sometimes I pretend I’m so hardcore that I could happily survive on a deserted island with some flint, a never ending supply of blueberries, and all six seasons of 30 Rock.

However, that is a lie.

Because deep down inside, I love me some Stuff.

Piles of books, tubes of colourful paints, captivating artworks, bizarre trinkets, curiosities found on the shoreline. Wooly carves, stripy socks, brightly coloured Mary Jane flats, that unworn fancy dress that I’ll never throw out. Mohair blankets, majestic wine glasses, fluffy pillows, white towels, candles that smell of precious memories.

This bird likes to nest, and there’s not a single thing I can do about it. Stuff makes my ovaries do a happy-dance.

But I’m getting rid of my Stuff …

Over the last four years, since my partner and I moved to Melbourne, we’ve spent years accumulating all the perfect Things for a cozy home. Every item, chosen with love, was arranged within our beautiful (rented) Melbourne terrace. Beginning with a blank canvas, we designed our interiors with careful consideration. We invested time and money into each high quality item, hoping it would last us a lifetime. Our home became a luxurious retreat from the daily grind.

But after four years at a fixed address, stagnant air began to collect in the corners of our home, twirling wafts of farty boredom from room to room. The world was waiting to be explored, and our house, though beautiful, was not the world. As rampant travel bugs tickled restless skin, our Stuff began to lose its shine.

It was time to hit the road, but our lovely Stuff was keeping us fixed to the spot. Suddenly, our precious Things had become an intolerable burden on our backs.

“What should we do with it?” my partner asked. “Store it? Rent it out? Loan it to family and friends?”

“I have an idea,” I said. “What if we sell it all? It’ll be cleansing. We can head off on a new adventure unburdened by the weight of Things.”

As a lifelong hater of Stuff, Ivan didn’t have to think twice. We immediately began listing it all on ebay, one item after another.

In the last four weeks, as I’ve watched my home being emptied in exchange for fistfuls of strangers’ dollars, a hundred tissues have been soaked with my tears and snot.

Our retreat is gone! What have we done?!

My Stuff!

My precious Things!

My lovely, lady Junk!

I’m pathetic.

There are people in the world who don’t have a home, and yet I’ve taken to rocking in fetal position over mohair rugs and stainless steel kitchenware. It’s hardly a tragedy, but the experience has been like watching my house burn down in slow motion over four horrifying weeks.

Cleansed? Not so much. Traumatized? Possibly.

But then I remembered what Chuck had to say:

You buy furniture. You tell yourself, this is the last sofa I will ever need in my life. Buy the sofa, then for a couple years you’re satisfied that no matter what goes wrong, at least you’ve got your sofa issue handled. Then the right set of dishes. Then the perfect bed. The drapes. The rug. Then you’re trapped in your lovely nest, and the things you used to own, now they own you. – Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

I may be a bird who loves to nest.

But for now, I want to be free to fly.

My mum always says, “The thing about Stuff is: there will always be more Stuff.”

(Where are we going? I’m not 100% sure yet, but a deal is underway right now. Hopefully I’ll have some exciting news for you soon!)

Have you ever had to give everything up to create something new? What was your experience like? What did you create from the rubble?

Leave a Comment

  • Bex February 17, 2012, 4:22 pm

    “Yes yes yes!” I am yelling inside, punching the air…because I can relate – totally.
    I came to Greece in 2008. I had (have) a lovely flat in the UK, filled it lovingly with ‘stuff’ (you know – the cast iron mosaic garden table and chairs in the backyard, that metal giant Lizard on the wall, bought in Cambodia) only to find that after a time, the only thing keeping me rooted to the UK was my adorable flat and ‘stuff.’
    “There’s more to life” I thought “than going to work, only to look forward to 7 hrs later when I can return back to my home and ‘stuff’.”
    So I bit the bullet, rented my place with my stuff, and here I am in Greece, minus a lot of my original stuff, but ironically still accumilating different stuff.
    “What if my original stuff is ruined?” I pondered at my leaving party.
    My old boss, just like your mum, proclaimed: “There’ll always be more stuff in the world, there won’t always be the opportunity to travel and experience the world.”

    Wise words. Thanks once again
    :0)

    Reply
  • Bethany ~ twoOregonians February 17, 2012, 4:28 pm

    Torre, I’m so excited for you!

    I know so well what you mean… When we sold and gave away much of our material world before leaving on our trip, I went through such a range of emotions. So pleased to be making moves toward liberty; so saddened to let go of tangible reminders of life’s best memories.

    This week, though, we find ourselves momentarily at home in a new apartment in Buenos Aires, and the little possessions that aren’t really ours are comforting in the season: the cozy down blanket, the glass vase with fresh basil, the forks and knives…

    We’ll kiss them all goodbye again in four weeks and set off for another new adventure, unhindered by extra weight and responsibility…

    Your mum is so right: there will always be more stuff. There’s only this one life. Enjoy the living!

    Reply
  • Lisa Duran February 17, 2012, 4:41 pm

    I’m also getting rid of a lot of my stuff right now so I can travel (and live) lighter. Fortunately, I love this process! If you’ve never seen George Carlin’s hilarious comedy routine “Stuff,” you might want to check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtX3yZmzfUU. It’s a classic and might help you feel better about letting go of your things. Good luck!

    Reply
  • IPBrian February 17, 2012, 4:42 pm

    Wow…that’s a story alright…I can’t imaging giving up my stuff. I get the whole “The Material World Is a Lie” gig…really, but I like you find some comfort in the things. Plus I always think I will get nothing for my stuff that will eventually cost me tons to replace. That being said, I applaud the adventure! It takes courage to do things that are painful. Congrats!

    Reply
  • 50+ and on the Run February 17, 2012, 4:52 pm

    Oh, man, I am doing this right now…I’m not having any emotional problems with downsizing, but I am having serious laziness problems–wishing I was Samantha Stevens and could twitch my nose and this stuff would be GONE! Sometimes I think what I need is a good burglary!

    Reply
    • Erica February 18, 2012, 7:43 am

      Ha ha, that is exactly how I feel! It is soo much hassle to put everything on eBay, deal with the emails of potential buyers wanting to know more about your Stuff and then just not coming back with a reply if you accept their offer, meaning you have to start all over….. I just want everything to be gone and be free to set off!!

      Reply
  • Jane February 17, 2012, 4:56 pm

    Thirty-two years ago, I got rid of not only everything I own, but all of my children’s possessions. We boarded a jumbo jet that propelled me into one of the most valuable chapters in my life. The purging experience left me with a feeling of such lightness, I think I could have flown to Australia sans jet. You see, my mother was a collector. Her investment in material possessions, collections, momentos, knicknacks, collections of miscellaneous documents, etc., etc., etc., was monumental. It wsn’t that her house could have been feature on “Hoarders.” She was neat and tidy. But she was in love with her possessions in a monsterous way. And routinely, she persistently wanted to “share the love” by sending me home with boxes of her least favorites. I was her human storage unit. So, for me to cast off all of mine (as my brother had 10 years before), was an out right act of rebellion. But, I became addicted to the Kundera’s “unberable lightness of being.” Five years later, I reversed the process and returned to the US. No worries about setting up house again. Mom outfitted me in her best less desireables, a mishmash of colors, styles, and textures. A year later I was smothered. Guess what? I got naked again (with those poor children of mine) and returned to Australia. In another 18 months–well, it was back to the US again. I settled down for a few years for the sake of my teenaged children, who had never attended a school for two consecutive years (but had seen thousands of kangaroos from a train window in Queensland). After my mother passed away, I got all her stuff. Sort of a f-you from the grave. And I’ve lived this way for two decades. I thought I was just getting old and tired. But, alas, my true self has re-emerged–I’m in the process of purging once more (my kids are perfunctorily going home with bags of stuff–ha!). I’m going to buy a small RV, outfitted with one spoon, fork, knife, plate, blanket, pillow, steam kettle, and dog. I am going to drive off into the lightness of being sunset. How long with it last? Well, we’ll have to see.

    Reply
    • Beware of Falling Coconuts February 17, 2012, 10:23 pm

      Jane, your post make me cry! I can certainly see the appeal of the little RV with one fork. I dream of doing a ‘Gramma Lupe’ one day and moving to somewhere tropical, like Bali, and living the simple life. With one fork. One towel. One book (that begin a Kindle).

      Reply
  • Paul February 17, 2012, 5:00 pm

    I can so relate to this post! My wife and I moved from Scotland to Spain in 2008 and got rid of literally trucks of stuff in the months before. Then last year to Chile and we had to pair right down to the minimum which for us meant about 15 cardboard boxes on top of airline luggage. I’m pretty attached to certain bits and pieces that have been in the family for a long time but for me the hardest things (apart from books) were practical items that I knew I’d have to buy again some day. It felt like such a waste and a set back to let them go. In our case we gave everything to charity and friends and once they were gone I had the feeling of elation and freedom. We had the idea that our things were moving to the next chapter in their inanimate lives and that other families would get the benefit of them. Next time we do a major move we’re hoping it’ll be onto a boat and we’re planning to half our stuff again for the third time – in the full knowledge that we’ll only have to buy a whole bunch of boaty gear – but that feels altogether more mobile and (at this point) permanent, in the sense that we can take it on our travels with us.
    I’m interested to know if you have kept many/any of the boaty bits or souveniers from that chapter in your own story Torre? Are there any more boats in your future?

    Reply
  • Kim February 17, 2012, 9:02 pm

    I totally understand. I cried buckets when I gave up my stuff. Now, I don’t miss it. Then again, we’ve still got one round to go and it’s the stuff that we kept when we gave the other 98% of stuff away. This stuff my be harder to get rid of. But then? Sweet freedom.

    Reply
  • Beware of Falling Coconuts February 17, 2012, 10:21 pm

    That made me want to cry – especially seeing the photos of your actual house. I, too, loved all YOUR Stuff! All so beautifully selected and individual, with a subtle sailing/castaway theme and an overall stylish minimalism, which I’ve never been able to create in my eclectic Bollywood-meets-Marrakesh home. But I bow down at your ruthlessness. This is a painful process, but you DID it. And while it stings at first when you rip off a bandaid, the pain goes away almost immediately. You can’t climb Killamangiro with a Karlstad leather sofa. You can’t paddle down the Amazon with an armoire. I so look forward to reading about your next adventure :-)

    Reply
  • Andi of My Beautiful Adventures February 18, 2012, 12:27 am

    I’m in a cleansing mood as well! I can’t wait to see where you end up going.

    Reply
  • Sally February 18, 2012, 1:02 am

    Omigosh, all your stuff is so pretty I almost cried over you getting rid of it, too. That bed! How could you get rid of that bed? It looks so comfy.
    I have also become something of a reluctant minimalist. I love stuff, but I move too often to have stuff. I got rid of pretty much everything I own (aside from some family and trip mementos I can’t replace). I don’t own any furniture or dishes or impractical shoes. I know my life is much more portable this way… but, man, I miss my impractical shoes.

    Reply
  • Chris February 18, 2012, 4:28 am

    Wow. Your house is *amazing*. Beautiful!

    I’m a lot like you. I’m a bit of a habitual hoarder, which is wildly at odds with my habit of up and leaving places when they begin to bore me.

    Reply
  • Sarah Somewhere February 18, 2012, 4:55 am

    Torre, you are not alone, I feel your pain, and yes, you do have some very, very nice stuff!! You. Are. Doing. The. Right. Thing. It doesn’t matter if you believe it right now, but you are. Now go to the mirror, and say it to yourself. Now go live your dreams, you fearful adventurer, you! (You are not called the Fearful Settler are you?!). Can’t wait to hear about your adventures x I wish you all the best x

    Reply
  • Nancy Sathre-Vogel from Family on Bikes February 18, 2012, 7:05 am

    Oh yeah – I can relate. We lived overseas for 12 years and moving internationally is very, very expensive. Each and every time we moved to a new country we purged all the Stuff. Each drinking glass took on a new light when you looked at it through the lens of having to pay $4.28 per pound to ship it.

    In the end, it’s just Stuff. And there will always be more Stuff.

    Have fun on your adventure! When are you headed out?

    Reply
  • Heather February 18, 2012, 9:37 am

    Lovely piece.

    I just went through MOST of this process last October/ November. Yes, it was freeing. And yet today, thinking about going “home” in July to finish the task, and the need to yet again purge until the “stuff” fits in several plastic tubs that can discreetly be tucked into storage, I had a twinge of regret. There is some “stuff” that I will never completely purge, but most of it? Well, it’s just “stuff.”

    Most people in the world don’t have the luxury of “stuff”, much less a stable home with well-appointed furniture and a stocked fridge. I know you count those blessings as well.

    My live-in partner’s “stuff” – which he refuses to put in our TINY cupboard/ closet (it sits in a small pile on the floor of the TINY bedroom) could fit in one carry-on bag, with space to spare (for my stuff!). He bought another t-shirt yesterday and I thought, “Why? He can only wear one at a time, and there are three clean ones right there… in that pile…”

    Stuff can be replaced. Life, freedom, and experiences that force growth can’t.

    Good on you!!!

    Reply
  • elsie February 18, 2012, 10:00 am

    Getting rid of things that have been in my life for decades is scary but also liberating. Each item I sell I feel that much closer to being free of what ties me to one place. It is sad to see old things go, but those are the same old things that make me unhappy as well by binding me to one spot. I want more in life…..I want to own my life, not STUFF owning my life. The Craigslist sale has begun……I’m letting go of my perfect Jon Van Zyle print of the captivating yellow, piercing eyes of a grey wolf. Goodbye my captivating wolf eyes, I shall see for real out there in the real world .

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 2, 2012, 5:28 am

      Very inspiring, Elsie. Good luck with it all!

      Reply
  • Meg | One Love Meg February 18, 2012, 2:06 pm

    I just sold all my stuff so I could travel the world with my boyfriend. It was very hard to say goodbye to some of my precious belongings. But now it’s gone, and I feel just fine. Now I have something to look forward to when I am done traveling. New more hip stuff. I have learned that I don’t need anywhere near what I had, but when coming back I will only pick stuff that I really love. I think you will find your new (less stuffed) place will feel better and probably much more clean. :)

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 2, 2012, 5:27 am

      My problem is that I’ve already done this. I got rid of everything to travel, then came back and carefully selected each piece. My house was our beautiful creation, and everything was simple and organised. So to get rid of it again was tough. But you can’t have it all, so c’est la vie. Good luck on your world travels!

      Reply
  • Denise February 18, 2012, 2:26 pm

    What a beautiful flat! I am looking forward to creating my own nest. I don’t think there’s anything wrong in having a nest if that’s what you want. In fact, I’d love to settle down some place, and then just travel for a couple of months per year. Travelling is wonderful, but it’s not everything.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 2, 2012, 5:24 am

      Thanks, Denise. That’s my ideal scenario too: having a permanent nest that I own, and the option to come home to it after traveling.

      Reply
  • Ansie February 18, 2012, 6:13 pm

    We’ve done it once before when we went ‘walkabout’. Then we came back and settled and had children and gathered stuff. Now we are at that point again. Time to move on… I would easily get rid of everything, but we have 3 kiddos – we need some stability… What would they regard as ‘home’? Stuff? Us? Us with stuff? I don’t know… We’ve been expats for 10 years now, but comfortably expats – the best of both worlds: travel and home. Now we have to choose..
    I envy you – it so easy when you are only 2. Go and enjoy your journey!

    Reply
    • Victoria February 18, 2012, 10:12 pm

      Anise, our family (2 kids, ages 4 and 7.5) has figured out how to combine kids and home and travel! It’s possible, but truly not as easy as it would have been pre-kids. We’re on a sailboat but others have done well in RVs too. We all get to sleep in our own beds every night but we can have a new backyard as often as we like.

      Reply
      • Ansie February 19, 2012, 5:42 am

        Hi Victoria. Thanks for the reply. We are thinking about doing for 6 months to see how it goes. Our children are already teenagers and about to go into their senior years in school. I am not sure if it is a good idea to change to home-school/unschool at this point.
        How do you finance your life? Do you earn while you travel?

        Reply
        • Victoria February 19, 2012, 3:31 pm

          My husband mostly answered your question in a guest post on this site. http://www.fearfuladventurer.com/archives/4110. Since then he was able to secure a six month consulting gig from his old employer as well as a couple of small projects. Hopefully that’ll keep working out!

          Reply
  • Jaime February 18, 2012, 7:38 pm

    The one word that stands out in this whole post is “CLEANSING” that is what it is… you think about that while you are doing it but then when everything is gone you realize it really was a “CLEANSING”. You realize your stuff did own you and now you have a fresh start at whatever it is you want to do. I remember when I sold everything I kept asking myself “what are you doing Jaime… are you doing the right thing?” In reality its a scary feeling, but once it’s said & done… it’s one of the best feelings in the world. Congrats for getting rid of all your stuff and good luck with whatever comes next in your life!

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 2, 2012, 5:22 am

      Thanks so much, Jaime. Cleansing is a wonderful way to put it. And a fresh start is always a good thing, so there’s really nothing to fear.

      Reply
  • Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot February 18, 2012, 9:58 pm

    Hi Torre, you did have a gorgeous place there. I have been camping out now for six years after selling our gorgeous place in NZ. I’m getting used to it now and I think having a crappy kitchen, ugly curtains, sallly army chairs etc is actually not a bad trade for freedom:)

    I know you did the right thing! Exciting adventures lie ahead:)

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 2, 2012, 5:21 am

      Thanks, Annabel. You can’t have it all, hey? :)

      Reply
  • Victoria February 18, 2012, 10:21 pm

    Torre- I can totally relate to the quote about the sofa. We have known forever that we wanted to travel, more or less permanently, so when we bought stuff for our land based life we would always say to ourselves things like, “if I’m going to have the couch for 4 years is it worth the money?” What a relief it was to finally sell the couch though! The process was of selling stuff was very hard, particularly for my ultra-sentimental husband. For me it was just a lot of work in the way of me getting to where I wanted to be. For the most part we did okay. I’m regretting selling the kids LEGOs and some popsicle molds and I did have to buy a signed book back from the used book store for a fortune, but otherwise it’s been a-ok. We have very little of what we used to have but it is all the most important things. It’ll be okay. It’ll be okay. It’ll be okay!

    Reply
    • Tucker Bradford February 19, 2012, 3:41 pm

      but… I just noticed your table. We had one that was almost exactly like that. I couldn’t stand to let it go (yes, I’m sentimental) so I gave it to my sister on a long term loan. It makes me happy to see it when I Skype her, and to know that one day it may be my dinner table again. You don’t have to get rid of EVERYTHING, but most of the stuff really is just a burden.

      Reply
      • Torre DeRoche March 2, 2012, 5:20 am

        Thanks Victoria. And Tucker – incidentally, I sold my table to my dear friend Moira, who wanted it for the memories. So we can always visit the table when we see our beautiful friends. x

        Reply
  • Linda ~ Journey Jottings February 18, 2012, 11:59 pm

    I’ve tried it various ways -
    First time storing all my stuff in my parent’s attic when travelling off around the world, only to come ‘home’ to sort through things that then had no relevance to me nor my lifestyle so were cleared out and culled, after the event!

    Second time I tried taking it with me and shipping it all, only to find this ‘stuff’ had no relevance in a different country, so was ditched after the expense!

    ‘Stuff’ really is a ball and chain, but I confess there are still some ‘things’ that are mighty hard to turf –

    Look forward to reading about new found freedom :)

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 2, 2012, 1:40 am

      Storing it is sometimes just easier than dealing with the emotional pain of letting go of a time or memory that is gone.

      Reply
  • Sam February 19, 2012, 3:04 am

    Wow, well done for listing and cleansing. I bet the feeling of freedom will be worth it.

    I like stuff to. I’ve currently got too much of it. Even when I was backpacking I’d find myself holding onto books I’d already read, sometimes carrying 5 or 6 books – way too much for a backpack.

    My best solution for stuff has been to buy stuff second hand. I find it a lot easier to let go if I don’t see myself losing heaps of money because I can’t sell it for anywhere near what I bought it for. When you buy second hand you don’t lose as much money. Plus it gets you over the mental issue of worrying that you may not be able to get it again (You already bought it second hand once, you can buy it again…).

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 2, 2012, 1:38 am

      I love that idea: buying second hand. When you buy things new, they cost 50% more and they’re much, much harder to get rid of. I had a few second hand items that I sold, like a retro chair that I bought at a garage sale for $5. I sold it for $150! However, we lost $$$$$ on all the stuff we bought brand new.

      Reply
  • Anwar February 20, 2012, 1:10 am

    I recall when I was moving from one location to another. i was in a smaller place for a while and I had to get rid of a lot of stuff. Now I can’t honestly recall the stuff I have given up! I don’t remember it, obviously it wasn’t that important. Well certainly I have too much stuff still and while its not easy for me to part w/ what I have left, I do know that I have more than I need.

    I commend you in your ability to release yourself from the stuff you have. It’s nice to have to live simpler if you can, even if it is not easy.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 2, 2012, 1:36 am

      Ultimately, yes, you’re right. Simplicity is hard to obtain, but more rewarding in the end.

      Reply
  • Anne-Sophie February 20, 2012, 8:49 am

    I can absolutely relate with you. I LOVE my stuff as well. You are brave, very brave by giving it up! :)

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 2, 2012, 1:35 am

      Aw, thanks. x Brave, or stupid. I don’t know.

      Reply
  • Dyanne@TravelnLass February 20, 2012, 2:01 pm

    Yes, what IS it with this insidious S.T.U.F.F.? But I too dumped verily every blessed thing I owned 4 months ago, and moved here to Vietnam. My beloved car was the toughest (a 19 year old Toyota, but still…). It was a seriously sobering moment as I watched the new owner blithely drive it away (WAIT, but th-th-that’s MY car!) Yup, that and the sheer drudgery of the garage sale, the Craigslist ads, ad nauseam.

    Ah but it was ever so FREEING!

    The only “stuff” (other than the usual backpacker essentials – yup, incl. the Kindle and the netbook) that I smuggled here to Asia: my childhood Christmas stocking (which I tenderly hung up on Christmas Eve in my thatched shack on an isle off the northern tip of Sumatra), and a 12″ square art quilt that I stitched myself from antique Japanese kimono silks (it hangs here now above my laptop in my wee apartment in Saigon – right next to the “Twinkle, twinkle, little star coloring page one of my little EFL “Jumpster” students colored.)

    I guess what I’m saying is – your “stuff” is surely lovely. But just choose 2 small bits of your favorites to tote with you on your next great adventure. Can’t wait to see where you land!

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 2, 2012, 1:34 am

      The bits and pieces that you keep are so cute! A Christmas stocking! My biggest weakness is books. I have about 25kgs of unread books to take with me (even though I also have a Kindle). I’m haunted by nightmares of arriving in a beautiful, isolated paradise, only to discover that I’ve forgotten to pack books! The nightmare then involves me running from place to place, looking for reading material and finding only a few horrible romance novels, and a mass market thriller with the first 30 pages missing. GAHHHH!

      Reply
  • Ayngelina February 20, 2012, 8:57 pm

    I sold all of my things to travel, I kept 5 rubbermaid containers of mementos and my cooking stuff.

    The most traumatic thing to see was my book collection so I did it first. But then I wondered why I needed to keep them, was it that I wanted to show people that came to my place that I was well read? Smart? Worthy?

    After I sold them I felt a tremendous sense of relief and everything else was so much easier to sell.

    Now I have a Kindle.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 2, 2012, 1:29 am

      Kindle! A dream device for those of us who want to cleanse. I have about 40 paper books that I’ve bought and never read. I can’t bear to throw the away, so they’re coming with me … just as soon as I work out where the FK we’re going.

      Kindle is so great, but that first time you pick it up all ready to chill with your latest read, and you see the message “OUT OF BATTERY”, it feels like a violation. “NO!! HOW CAN THIS BE?!!” That’s when I want to hurt my Kindle with a hammer. To combat this, I still carry emergency paperbacks.

      Reply
  • Davis February 20, 2012, 11:54 pm

    After thirty years in one house in California I had a two-day sale. Beforehand I gave things away. I gave a lady from church the dining room table and chairs. I can’t accept this, she said. Every week we pray for Grace, I said; this is what Grace looks like. I still had a storage locker full.

    All my life I have bought interesting things. Not particularly expensive things, but things that are different. You can always buy expensive things if you have the money; I like things that you can’t buy even if you have the money, because you have to find them and recognize what they are. And I like to keep them at hand, on shelves or bookcases or in wooden boxes where I can play with them. Some of them probably have curses on them. I do not plan to grow up.

    Home becomes a slippery notion when we move around so much in the normal course of a career. My things help define where my home is.

    If I need to be at large for an extended time, I have a friend nearby with a nice barn.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 2, 2012, 1:23 am

      You sound like a wise person, Davis. I believe there’s a difference between expensive Stuff and meaningful Stuff. One is having possessions for the illusion of comfort and security that they bring, the other is a form of self-expression. If your Stuff inspires you, then it’s not really just Stuff, it’s art.

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      • Davis April 4, 2012, 2:02 pm

        The getting and shedding of things is a cyclical process, not something done once and for all. I would urge a traveler to accumulate things on their trip. Not native crafts, unless you were planning to use them while you were on the road, as native crafts will frequently find their way to an ethnic arts store in a city near your home. Pick up stuff that you can only get there: I favor their second-hand shops and less-pricey antiquaria. That will be the stuff authentic to their culture that will be almost impossible to find anywhere but there. Some of the things I like are old snapshots and picture postcards, labels with distinctive artwork and old commercial & political ephemera. If it gets to be a burden, ship it home.

        Once you get back, fondle and gloat over it for a while, then eventually give it away to someone who appreciates it. I have now reached that pleasant point in life where, when I visit my grandson, I can pull out of a packing crate a skull or blowgun or dried piranha or some other wonder to tweak his imagination and keep him aloof from the video-addled culture that surrounds him.

        Reply
  • Scott - Quirky Travel Guy February 23, 2012, 2:26 am

    Thank you for this post – I’ll be bookmarking it. I love being a minimalist, and my boyfriend hoards everything. This is one of the best arguments I’ve seen yet to perhaps change his mind.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 2, 2012, 1:19 am

      It can be seriously hard to get a hoarder to release their tightened claws from their precious Stuff. Good luck with that! Let me know how it goes and if you manage to persuade him to let go.

      Reply
  • Susan @ Travel Junkette February 24, 2012, 10:38 am

    I love your mom’s quote “The thing about Stuff is: there will always be more Stuff.” Unfortunately, my (beloved) mom is about as big of a hoarder as I am, so I’ve never gotten that advice from her! Haha. I am going to remember that quote like a mantra the next time I move. Which, I guess, is two days from now!

    Reply
  • Ian [EagerExistence] February 25, 2012, 2:56 am

    I loaned my stuff to friends, and I just got home after a year away. I visited the friends. The stuff is still there, but it doesn’t feel like my stuff anymore. I don’t really want it back. I should have sold it.

    PS. If that’s your house, it looks so lovely and cosey. I guess not anymore. Now its just an empty shell :-p

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 2, 2012, 1:15 am

      That’s what I always tell myself: once you gain that distance from the Stuff, it doesn’t feel like it’s yours anymore. In which case, why pay $2000+ per year to store it?

      That said, my house WAS cozy. I miss it.

      Reply
      • Ian [EagerExistence] March 2, 2012, 4:38 am

        But who has the thing for wood?

        Reply
        • Torre DeRoche March 2, 2012, 4:43 am

          Both of us. Are you saying we had too much wood?

          Reply
          • Ian [EagerExistence] March 2, 2012, 4:54 am

            No, no. We just have similar tastes in interior decoration. Nothing smart-arse about it, but now you’ve said it :-p

  • Ryan-Neal Mes April 18, 2012, 12:10 pm

    Such a nice article! Truly inspiring :)

    Reply
  • Peter May 25, 2012, 1:30 pm

    I had no problems getting rid of my stuff I actually hate the encumberance of it all. I took off for a year and lived in a tent while travelling via motorcycle around Europe and North Africa. It changed me in the way that such experiences are apt to do. Ever since I have endeavored to avoid accumulating stuff in the first place. I am quite successful in this approach to life and living alone makes it easy as well. Now I am organised so I can simply lock up the house and go onward seeking adventure and when I tire of that (as one eventually does) I return home and recharge for the next one.

    Reply
  • clare S Danes June 9, 2012, 11:41 am

    Hi there

    I stumbled across your great travel blog site and hope you and your family are dong well abroad ;D
    I’m planning on doing the same after years of slaving on endless jobs. I have a rather trivial question but it would
    really help to get some advice as I’m not doing this right.
    Other than ebay and car boot sales “didn’t work for me” where else could I sale my stuff.
    I’m talking about things like Microwave, fridge, blender,radiator,TV,radio, the difficult things to sale :)
    I’m running out of time as I’m travelling from July so I have nobody else who could do it for me or where
    I could leave all of my things. Would appreciate some advice if you have the time and any links would be a plus
    to on line sites that buy these sort of items and maybe a pick up service, as I sold my car (should have thought
    of selling that last haha)

    thank you for your time

    safe travels
    clare

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche June 9, 2012, 12:40 pm

      Hi Clare. I sold most of my Stuff via ebay. Also, in Australia, we have a website called Gumtree and I used that too. In the US, I always use Craigslist. Perhaps you have something similar in the UK … I’m not sure. As for the smaller items (blender, etc), we didn’t get much money or any at all. They’re not really worth the effort it takes to sell them. Best of luck!

      Reply
  • Katherine - Kapcha The World June 21, 2012, 1:55 am

    I am exactly the same as you. I LOVE MY STUFF!! But am about to embark on the same journey of ridding myself of it all in order to head off into the great blue yonder. I’m glad I’m not the only one who has a hard time letting of things. It is a very daunting prospect though – and one I have been putting off for a while. You’ve inspired me to feel like it will be ok – it’s just stuff – and at the end of the day, as your mum said, I can always get more! lol

    Reply
  • Joan August 1, 2012, 12:54 pm

    I am in this dilemma, I so want to spread my wings and fly but I can’t part with the handmade dish ware, the paintings, the special artwork, the treasured souvenirs, etc. etc…..
    In college, I remember being able to fit everything I owned into my small car, now I look at myself and say “What happened to me? I am a slave to my possessions!”
    Love your blog!!

    Reply
  • Roving Jay November 11, 2012, 4:27 am

    Stuff actually stresses me out! I just dumped off 3 bags of accumulated stuff at the charity shop, and it felt so good. I feel cleansed!

    I’ve got rid of my life’s belongings twice in my life. Once when I moved to the US, and once when I left to backpack around SE Asia. But as soon as I settled back in LA, I put down roots, and those roots are belongings that are weighing me down.

    Reply
  • Stuart December 29, 2012, 2:48 pm

    I know exactly how you feel. I like stuff, mainly books and cds, and I’ve ended up with thousands. I want to do things with my life but worry about what to do with my stuff. Moving home would be a nightmare packing it all up. I want to have an adventure but what would I do with all my stuff. I’ve contemplated selling everything like you and think it would give me the freedom to move around and have one last adventure. I need a sign to make me finally free of all my stuff otherwise I will die with lots of lovely stuff but will never have had an adventure.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche December 30, 2012, 7:45 am

      Stuart—your CDs can be transferred onto your laptop, and then onto an iPod. This is what I did with all my CDs, then I took the hardcopies to the thrift store and donated them.

      Buy yourself a Kindle or iPad Mini and start buying ebooks to save space. Perhaps somebody you know can hold your book collection while you go away? If not, keep the ones you really want in a box somewhere, and sell/donate the rest. Think of it this way: you’re holding a bunch of nice stuff hostage. Let it go free into the world! Let other people appreciate it!

      Getting rid of everything was painful for me, but now I live out of a small backpack and I never think of what I had before. You can always get more stuff, you know. Do it!

      Reply
  • Adam January 12, 2013, 12:58 pm

    Was it easy to sell your furniture?

    Did you sell through Gumtree, eBay…?

    im considering selling all my STUFF and travelling:)

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche January 14, 2013, 12:20 pm

      It was pretty easy to sell because we sold it cheap. Emotionally, it was horrible. I still haven’t fully recovered! I kind of wish we’d stored it instead because most of it was brand new. If you have good furniture and you’re not 100% sure about travel, consider keeping it for now. I used Gumtree and eBay.

      Reply
  • Keressa January 25, 2013, 3:57 pm

    Hi Torre, my husband and I just went through the same thing. It’s been our dream to move to Mexico for years now, and we’ve finally done it. I’m NOT saying it was easy, it most certainly was not. I’m the ‘emotional touchy feely’ kinda girl, he’s the more ‘analytical type’. We had our differences in ‘what to take, and what to leave’. Ouch. This was the tough part, as I too ‘Love My Stuff’!
    On one hand I say; ‘I’m not as bad as my mom, she saved every Mayo jar she ever bought!’ but I have my own way of ‘hoarding’ ;) Mine is on the more sentimental side, it’s my ‘kids stuff’. I home schooled both of my children, my daughter since 3rd grade, now 25, and son, since the beginning, now 21, and have accumulated MUCH!
    There is so much to share, but I’ll stop here saying YES, it is possible to let go of your STUFF! (Even if that means putting some in storage!) God is good and was able to prepare my <3 in many areas of this move. We lived in our wonderful home in San Diego for 28 years, believe me, we had STUFF! Thank you for sharing this wonderful article, it blessed me, as I'm sure it wall bless many others! K

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche January 27, 2013, 12:48 pm

      Thanks for sharing your story, Keressa. Congratulations on getting rid of your stuff! It’s such a tough thing to do, especially with kids (I can imagine), but hopefully it’ll bring you liberation.

      Reply
  • Rachel @ Reality Chick February 18, 2013, 12:03 am

    I am currently decluttering NOW – well, through the entire month of February (#FebClutterBust on Twitter if you’re interested!), along with a few other bloggers who have gotten on board. I love beautiful things but I have too many of them. When I started, I also had too many books. And notebooks I haven’t written in for 10 years. And CDs and baskets full of dried out nail polish and appliances I never use and … well. You know. It goes on forever.
    Clearing it isn’t just cleansing on a physical, asthetic level but seems to open up space in my mind. There is nothing more calming and meditative than being surrounded by clear spaces. For me anyway! :)

    Reply
  • hannah marshall March 13, 2013, 11:01 pm

    This is my daughters e-mail address. She is a senior in college about to graduate. She has traveled a lot for a 21 year old. She is wise beyond her years. I just spoke with her and she informed me she wants to sell all her possessions and travel. Hannah favorite movie is “Into the Wild”. That pretty much says it all. I was just thinking maybe you could e-mail her sometime and give her a glimpse into your life. She is my only child and the love of my life, however I don’t really get it!

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche May 1, 2013, 7:42 am

      Oh Hannah, I’m sorry. It’s not really something I can advise on, unfortunately. Some people are wild spirits and there’s only so much you can do to influence your daughter now that she’s 21. Let her go. She will most likely have her experiences, and then fly back home when she’s ready. Just tell her this: DO NOT EAT THE BERRIES!

      Reply
  • zara March 23, 2013, 6:36 pm

    i got rid of mostly every thing in my room my mom got me this bunk bed but it only had pone bed on top the bottom part had a desk computer and chair also i put a lot of stuff in the cabins next to my study table. this website helped me a lot thanks for every thing TORRE thanks so much..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    :D

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche May 1, 2013, 7:41 am

      My pleasure, Zara. Your room sounds delightfully minimal now.

      Reply
  • linda April 26, 2013, 11:27 pm

    It’s been more than a year since your post, Torre, and I’m wondering how it all turned out for you with giving up your stuff. I am in dire need of advice. This post helped me a lot….yesterday. But this morning I find myself in the same frame of mind which is “can I really do it?” I have 25 years’ worth of stuff from living in Japan. I want to move back to the States to be with my mother and brother. I decided to make the move a few months ago and then it seemed the right thing to do, but as the time draws near to make the move I find myself frozen with fear. I look around at my little nest and I want to take everything with me and set up a little Japan in TN. I can’t though. I can’t even take my dear cat who I’ve slept with for 11 years. I’m so sad. If possible, I’d love to know how it turned out for you.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche April 27, 2013, 2:29 am

      Oh gosh, Linda. I’m so sorry. I know the heartbreak of that, and I don’t think my situation was anywhere close to what yours must be. To be honest, I still can’t think about this time of my life without feeling great sadness. Regret too, but I don’t know how I could’ve done it differently. It was time. I didn’t have much of a choice—my partner didn’t want to work in his job anymore. And I had to accept that and deal with it. Towards the end of the packing, the only way I could cope was to put on headphones and listen to chirpy, upbeat music while I cried my way through the last of the clean-out. It had to be done and I did it. It was sad and it will never stop being sad, but this is life. We have to keep moving, which means sometimes we have to leave things we love behind.

      Are you sure you can’t take your stuff with you? Your cat? My friend is moving from Vietnam to Australia and she’s shipping everything she owns. She has beautiful furnishings, and she’s moved them from China, to Thailand, to Vietnam, and now to Australia.

      Reply
  • Ed June 2, 2013, 3:46 am

    I used to do this every five years or so when I was younger in order to avoid stagnating. I’m 48 now and it’s harder to do but I’m going to do this again. Life needs to move on! Material things are not important. I plan to give away or donate almost all of my ‘stuff’ with the exception of musical instruments and pictures of my kids.

    Reply
  • Megan DaGata July 29, 2013, 5:31 pm

    I just want to know how many of us are out there that would sell everything and take off. I have done this twice before, once to move to New York, another to move “back home.” However, I find that I will do this once again, so that my sons and I can travel endlessly. No real destination, just following the gypsy within and the summer. I am not ready to leave just yet, but I find that making the plans is making me want to leave tomorrow. I’ve still got some fear to work through, but I can’t wait to see where we are lead.

    Reply
    • Margo August 11, 2013, 2:38 pm

      Megan ; i’m 59 and i am there! we are moving in 8 weeks -come hell or highwater!of course, no one knows this yet but one gf and my hubby! and my future landlady!working out a few more details before i sit my adult kids down to tell them mommy is moving-AGAIN- and this time to Hawaii!
      Torre’s wonderful blog is helping me as i am thinking of all that i have to get rid of-by choice! antiques and books OMG books….funny how so many of us keep books! many of mine are quite old- not worth anything but to me!we have craigslist here and i will have a rummage sale-gosh i hate them –but going into a furnished renatl really don’t need much…i keep telling myself that!!!!

      i have started over from scratch so many times in life that i shoul dbe good at it-this move will be the biggest purging event ever!

      we will be taking our dog but i am going to rehome the two cats…hard but…
      well- didn’t mean to write a book- this is cathartic to read eveyone’s replies and thoughts!

      Reply
  • gwen September 16, 2013, 6:39 pm

    I have moved across the country, back and forth, twice in the last 3 years. What ever it is you feel easy to let go, let go 3 times that. When you get there and look at it all- It is All Just Stuff. What a waste.

    Reply
  • Todd September 26, 2013, 7:07 pm

    Yep, I’ve had to give everything up a few times in my life. And loved every minute of it.

    The only problem is, I didn’t get any money for it. Most of my stuff I bought used and cheap to begin with. The second-hand stores took it though.

    Reply
  • Kate Dana October 18, 2013, 7:52 pm

    Your home was wonderful (it must have been hard to leave!), but reading your blog, it sounds like you found more ahead in life than things to pack, store or give away. I am moving to Colombia in 2014 to volunteer for a year then possibly travel thereafter. I am selling everything now. It’s an arduous process, but with a blog post like this, I am inspired. Thanks so much! ¡Viva la aventura!

    Reply
  • Bastiaan November 21, 2013, 7:41 pm

    Hello Torre, such a good article to read. It is so easy to collect a lot of things when you are settling in one place. This is one thing I like about traveling, it forces you to live a minimalistic lifestyle!

    I am from the Netherlands and I lived in Australia for one year, in Perth to be precise. I didn’t plan on staying here that long, but I fell in love…. haha. It felt a bit like settling down again. I came with one backpack filled with stuff and when I wanted to leave I could fill more then 5 backpacks…. It goes so fast to collect a bunch of things.

    Luckily I’m traveling again now. Me and my gf went to New Zealand for 5 months. We are working on a holiday park for a few months and living in a van now and have a tent as our living room :-). I love this lifestyle.

    Thank you for this article. Very well written and easy to relate to. I will keep following your blog and connect on Facebook! If you want you can also check out my travel / lifestyle blog I recently started!

    Cheers Bastiaan

    Reply
  • Jessica Ann December 14, 2013, 4:44 pm

    Oh my how I loved this post! I am at the point now where I am trying to purge almost everything I have. Well except for my books because I will have a library at some point in my life and a bin of things that are too precious to give away. Each item I do give away though I thought would make me feel lighter rather than induce a mini melt down. The truth is I am tired of being owned by my stuff. Your mom is right there will always be more of it. No matter where I have travelled to I have always accumulated more only to think why? Why do I have this stuff now, stuff that doesn’t even fit in my suitcase? I think the cleansing affect comes after the fear settles. When we finally fly free like you want to. Our stuff, our safety net. I am excited to see where you go next!

    Reply
  • Anne January 18, 2014, 11:51 pm

    This is great! Hilarious – and I totally get it! I haven’t sold EVERYTHING quite yet, but I’ve sold a lot of it to set out on an adventure as well…. and it’s so hard! I’ve cried too – ha! Glad to hear I’m not the only one. ;)

    Reply
  • DeBora March 16, 2014, 8:55 pm

    I love Stuff too. Though I never quite bought all the items I dreamed I’d buy for this house I bought four years ago, my leather sectional and mirrored cabinet hold a dear place in my heart. But now I am ready to be free. I want freedom more than ever, more than any sort of Stuff. I have found a new home for my sofa, cabinets and books. They’ll move in with my daughter, who at 19 in getting her first apartment this fall. How blessed I feel that I get to help my daughter while easy the pain of letting go of my Stuff. At least it’ll remain in the family.

    Reply
  • R. Simmons April 7, 2014, 10:44 pm

    OH, how I can relate! We bought a 5th wheel in 2010 and we are still living in our spacious land yacht of 400sqft!

    I was cleaning out our house and I was by myself and about the second day in and after “the Italian leather sofa set” that was going to be mine for the rest of our lives had just been delivered to a dear friend who bought it from me for a fraction of what it cost us…I just stood and cried and the tears would not stop. Thank goodness for good friends because one of them just happened to stop by on a whim to see how I was doing and she gave me the biggest hug and listened to my grips and groans and then we moved on and she helped me pack up some stuff and we went out for a great lunch!

    It has been trying at times to live in 400 sqft and it is a constant movement of stuff… We haven’t bought a house because we are not sure where we are going to be permanently and we still have one in Maine. Our dream is to be on an island somewhere and my dream is an actual yacht/boat vs a land yacht. But, living in an RV for 3.5 yrs (oh, my gosh seeing that many yrs written down is a shock) shows us that we definitely can do tight spaces. So.. we are in the same boat working full time for someone else at the moment & getting back to owning our own business is the main goal and who knows maybe it will mesh with our dream…

    Reply
  • Jessica April 23, 2014, 1:14 am

    I gave away all of my stuff when I started travelling at the beginning 2013. Originally I only wanted to go to Japan, but because I gave everything away I had the flexibility to prolong my travels. Getting rid of all the stuff saved me a lot of headaches and I will always find new stuff if I ever need it (which I doubt).

    Reply
    • Ruth May 6, 2014, 2:52 am

      It’s funny to think I’m where I am in life right now. I’ve changed, morphed almost into the person I am over the years. My life has always been moving – as a child my father was in the military and I was born in Germany, then it was back to Canada, then as I grew up at 18 I left home with $200 in my pocket and a one way ticket across the country to start my own journey. I lived and moved, I remember saying ” I have lived in 10 different places in 3 years” and I said it so casually. Then I married, moved, divorced, moved and married again and of coarse moved – that time was to another country. It got so my kids would say “it’s been 2 years, it must be time for a move”. Instead of being sad I would enjoy the chance to decorate a new place. Create a new home.

      Now, I’m at another great cross road after staying still for 4 years this time….. My husband and I are full time ministers and we are making ourselves available to be used. He joked “3 suitcases and a backpack is all we each are allowed and you’re allowed 4 boxes of old lady nicknacks to look at when I die”.

      I’ve started selling things on craigslist and on Facebook. It’s so exciting when the sale is done and I cross it off the list. But I get it, it is hard too.

      Funny thing is I’m looking at a coffee table exactly like yours and I like it. I really like my books and my furniture but I’ve learned I can find these things again wherever I live and my nesting skills will kick in and I will be happy. It just may be in Ecuador this time.

      Thank you for your inspiration and your honesty.

      Reply
  • Rosie July 12, 2014, 1:59 am

    This is refreshing to read because I’m also giving away all of my shtuff and I’m not even moving. I just want to live in a house with more space.

    Reply
  • Lucy August 25, 2014, 5:04 am

    I’m leaving the UK this week after 6 years here to return home to Ireland. My planned declutter was prompted by the worry of having no money to pay movers. I sold all the furniture I could on Gumtree, and got a charity to collect the rest. My bath is full of the bits I can give away to a charity shop later this week. At first I packed consciously. Will it make me happy to have this? The first barrier was the knowledge that without a job I’d have to replace stuff anyway which I couldn’t afford. Also much of my stuff is artwork which is irreplaceable. But the biggest barrier has been the thought of losing value. This really upsets me because part of the point of moving was a life change. So I calculated that if I made back more than I paid for some bits of antique furniture and a good price on new stuff, I effectively had it all for free usage for the last 6 years. Ikea stuff held its value well because ikea is 70 miles away from the town I live in so buyers calculated the cost of fuel! The rest I’ve tried to give to charity. That’s been easier than giving to friends. Now I figure that the move is a valuable thing in itself, and I’m paying for shippers for the rest. At £7 a box. Books have been the worst because I need them for my job! I did put 100 on amazon 3 months ago, and sold half at good prices. I’m happy with that proportion. The rest of the 100 were easier to give away then. The last barrier is finding out that I have a new house and job, which means I’m already imagining filling the house! But I’ve only kept a bookshelf, sofa bed, antique cabinet and washing machine! My friends have been brilliant at helping me see what was worth keeping when I declared that everything must go! Now I’m planning to review my boxes tomorrow before the movers come on Wed to see if I can get rid of anything else! The kitchen was definitely the hardest as I’m planning lots of dinner parties to catch up with old friends after I’ve moved home, to cut the cost of eating out all the time!

    Reply
  • Mike August 29, 2014, 5:19 am

    :-o

    Reply
  • Bobbi September 10, 2014, 9:48 pm

    We are about to do the same cleanse, in preparation to move across the world to Sydney. I should be sorting through everything into store/sell/take piles, but instead I’m searching for Australian blogs to read! I don’t want to give up my stuff, yet at the same time I, too, want to be shed of the weight of it all.

    Reply
  • Nicole September 28, 2014, 9:03 pm

    I thought I was doing the right thing, selling or giving away 2/3s of my stuff because everyone assured me I would feel better, did it to move to France, de-clutter, etc. I cry every single day. I feel a panic in my heart that forces me to run through the streets in order to flee from this feeling that never goes away. I haven’t slept in months. No amount of Bordeaux can fix this. If I could turn back time I would keep every single thing I had. They were my life, my memories. I had kept everything from childhood, touted around with me from RI to California and I could have taken them to Paris too. Now I am filled with regret, my dreams punched full of holes of an anguishing loss that I will never be able to overcome.

    Reply
  • Keshia October 6, 2014, 4:49 am

    As I read this, I was sitting in the middle of heaps of my ‘stuff.’ I have to hop on a bus in 6 hours and bring only what I can carry, as I’m leaving for a solo round the world trip. It’s literally down to the bare minimum and I still have to let go of at least half. Straight into the dumpster because I’m a terrible planner! My parents will hold on to a few of my most treasured items as I cram what I can into a backpack. I’ve done everything humanly possible to make this trip a reality, because I want to know what it feels like to be free and without attachment. Your post reminded me of all the reasons I am currently crying into sweaters that I’ve had for for too long. Because I want to own myself as the most bare essential. Ahhhh!

    Reply
  • Miles of Happiness December 20, 2014, 10:20 am

    It’s hard to get rid of our stuff. I spend months decorating my apartment in Paris, then once it was all perfect, I sold everything and left to New Zealand. Hard but it’s SO worthing it!

    Reply