If I can’t carry it, I can’t have it – a guest post by JillAnne


JillAnne, with her cat, Frisbee, lounging in the sun behind her.

Editor’s note: Prompted by the wild popularity of Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” I asked friends to share their perspectives on managing clutter. Our friend JillAnne shares how her minimalist lifestyle allows her to travel unfettered and made it easy to cast off possessions when Hurricane Sandy flooded her apartment building.

I’m a free spirit. I’ve moved and traveled a lot, because I could and I appreciate the adventure.

I’m also aware that I do better in life without a lot of ‘stuff’ clouding my brain and space.

To make matters a bit complicated, I am a self-employed greeting card designer which means that I need “stuff” to make a living. Even in that realm, I feel that less is more. I’ve developed my business model of 17 years around this concept. I only print orders that people place rather than having a gazillion cards printed overseas and stored somewhere.

I am a very prolific painter and writer but technology has saved me from having to save every single painting and notebook. I do horde a few originals, but for the most part, I tear up the works I’ve done after I’ve scanned them. Now before you gasp and think that they would be worth so much money when I die, I’m not worried about that. My niece and nephew may be disappointed in this but they’ll just have to get rich on their own wings.


JillAnne does need to make room in her minimalist life for her cat, Frisbee

Early on, I adopted a philosophy for traveling and shopping that seems to work for my lifestyle: “If I could carry it, I could have it.” It emerged when I was just starting my business and was pretty strapped for cash. I had a Costco membership where I purchased my ink for printing my cards. Costco is a candy store for bargains with way too many goodies in the vast isles. “No carts allowed” saved my wallet.

Same for travel. If I can carry it, I can take it. I do have a tradition of buying one small keepsake from each country/place that I’ve gone to as a memento, but a 2-inch statue of Buddha won’t cramp my style and maybe even brings a bit of Zen to my little space.

The next very important variable that keeps my stuff at bay is that I hate to schlep, whether it’s for travel, moving or shopping. I can fit my life into a 5x5x10 storage locker. Yes, you read right: my entire life, including old tax records, clothes, work supplies, pot, pans, everything.

Those times I’ve not been thrilled with my apartment and wanted to go for six weeks to Asia have proved this. It’s also always been the perfect time to purge, because despite my best efforts, stuff seems to multiply and expand.


JillAnne keeps a minimalist approach to her greeting card business by printing cards herself only when they’re ordered, not keeping a huge inventory on hand.

Of course, there have been the times in a fit of mumbling, “Junk, junk, junk. This is all flippin’ junk!” when I have thrown out something I wish I had kept. That $200 espresso maker is a prime example.

Other things I haven’t missed. The $1,200 mattress I gave away on Craigslist after having to vacate my uninhabitable 22nd-floor lower Manhattan apartment when Hurricane Sandy claimed the lobby as a murky seawater swimming hole didn’t faze me one bit. I’ve put more bookcases and tables out on the sidewalk for some happy person to claim.

The very tiny vile of ashes that I gathered after the Burning Man Temple burn, where my lover’s memorial was, I will never leave behind. I have all the handmade Valentine cards that a gal pal of mine has sent me for the last five years.

I think what it boils down to for me, is it’s not about the money. It’s really about what is important to my heart. Apparently espresso and handmade gifts top the list.




A few examples of JillAnne’s NYC-themed holiday cards

Related posts:

Would you like to write a guest post about your relationship with stuff? Leave a comment below!


Categories: home and family, lifestyle

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