free bird

Here I had spent the better part of a decade collecting treasures from thrift stores, craigslist, and yard sales and the only thing I had to show for it was a house full of thingamabobs and whatchamacallits. The true essence of collecting has always felt safe, secure, and familiar to me. That is until recently. 

When I moved from LA to Tucson, I spent $600 on a U-Haul that I just filled with crappy thrift store furniture and Target linens. Looking back, it probably would have made more sense to sell what little I had and use it to start over. But, no. That felt too scary, too real. I did it again when I moved from LA to Phoenix. That time, my stuff was a little bit nicer but not nice enough to justify spending almost a grand to haul it 400 miles. 

Excited that Arizona rent was considerably cheaper than in California, a year ago my boyfriend and I moved in to a big house. In LA, we were accustomed to living in a one bedroom with a dog, cat and snake so when we were able to find a three bedroom house for under $1000 a month in Phoenix, we felt like we had hit the lottery. Fast forward to a year later and I now have a deeper understanding of what having a bigger house means, it's just a place to accumulate MORE STUFF. And boy did we.

About a month ago, I had an epiphany, stuff no longer made me happy. Instead, I was craving adventure, wide open spaces, and friendships. I wanted to laugh more, dance more, and feel more. I realized that the stuff I had accumulated was numbing my wanderlust, preventing me from stepping out into my un-comfort zone. It was then that I decided that I needed to break my unhealthy obsession with stuff before it got any further out of hand. I was going to sell everything I own and go on an epic road trip across the U S of A, staying with friends along the way. 

At first, I doubted myself. I didn't know if I could really go through with it. The thought of having a yard sale, watching strangers pick through your life seemed depressing. I was dreading it so much it was keeping me awake at night. But guess what, it was actually the most therapeutic thing I have ever done. Watching people fall in love with items that I had fallen in love with years past was invigorating. The stuff that had been slowly suffocating me, was lighting someone else's face up. This was cool-and it made me want to get rid of more stuff! 

I don't know what I was so afraid of. These items I had collected over the years didn't define me. That ET painting, that steer head, and that mid-century tanker chair were pretty badass, but they didn't make any better of a person. I feel so much lighter now, I feel as though the burden has finally been lifted. I can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone. The options are truly endless. 

And if I decide that somewhere down the figurative road that I'd like to accumulate stuff again, I know exactly where to look. 

Nicole Paulus, Nico New Media

Photo Credit: AJ Feducia, Flickr