The Incredible Lightness of Simplifying

Friday was my last day at Stanford and they gave me the most wonderful sendoff. Today I am retired!

I have been preparing for this moment for well over a year. Part of that prep has been sorting through and consolidating all my belongings and parting with everything not really needed, with the goal of having my things either with me in my travels (amount is limited of course) or well organized in my storage shed at Park Sierra.

There has also been a sense of direction around having the things I own, as well as the way I spend my time, more fully come into line with whats important to me… clearly support a good balance between  that which I value the most.  Purpose, contribution, health, loved ones, community, deep connections and so on. It feels like when I was young my belongings built safely, stability and a physical foundation under me, but now it feels like a whole new ballgame.

Although I haven’t woken up this morning feeling like an entirely new person, there is a kind of subtle cumulative effect that is with me here today from having done this work of simplifying my possessions. I’m not saying the work is finished. Perhaps it never is. But there is such a lightness, a buoyancy, that comes from having less.

It has been less obvious to notice the cumulative effect of carrying too many possessions through life – of having more stuff than I really need.  It seems to just creep up over the years, but the heaviness most certainly can be felt in hindsight. It feels a bit perhaps like a snake feels when it slides IMG_1315cleanly out of its skin and moves forward full of freshness having a flexible new skin… of having new life.

Possessions, in a way, are a bit like a skin that stands between our being and the “outside world” or the physicality of life. They serve as a safety, a protection (at least we hope so) from our vulnerability to potential need & lack, inadequacy, indignity or discomfort the world presents us with. They seem to reassure us and insulate us at least a little from the unknown. So we accumulate.

Reversing this process so radically this year has taught me this.  With this learning is coming a sense of lightness and freedom.  The weight of my past accumulations is clearly evident now, as is the effect that in having less I am in a way more free, inwardly as well as outwardly.

I pack my car this weekend and vacate my little cottage here in Silicon Valley – a place that has nurtured me and supported my growth over the years in amazing and unexpected ways.  I am ready for a less intense lifestyle now, and one more focused on being in that wonderful flow state more of the time where life can lead me as it finds use for me, and I am unburdened enough, free enough, to respond fully.

I also hope and plan to basically live outdoors, while my Scamp follows behind carrying minimal possessions and all the comforts of home I really need, wherever it goes.  For my first trip I will drive north at the end of April, up the west coast to the Canadian Rockies, a trip with friends and family along the way.  Anything I should not miss?  Send me an email and you never know, I may, in my new freedom, be able to show up along my way.



Nature awakening

By | 2018-02-25T11:52:18+00:00 February 25th, 2018|Living the Realization|2 Comments


  1. Pen February 26, 2018 at 10:55 am - Reply

    Thanks for this. I realized I had too much stuff when we downsized my parents. I made many trips to charities with my truck. Now I am Freecycling more and giving away on Craigslist. Alice what is the best way to reach you that is not a public forum?

  2. Dale Nash February 27, 2018 at 11:52 am - Reply

    Awesome Alice! I am happy that not only are you free of possesions but that you are also fully ready mentally to engage in what comes your way. What an awesome place in life to be!! Enjoy this new found freedom!

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