84 Things

Have little and you will gain. Have much and you will be confused. – Tao Teh Ching by Lao Tzu

If anyone knows me, they know I’m a minimalist. I haven’t always been this way, however. Simplifying my life only really begun around 2008, whereby I started selling my used books, college textbooks, DVDs, and CDs on Amazon in order to make some money and to clear out my massive collection of these things. From there, it snowballed. I sold all my furniture, donated almost all my clothes except for a few basics, digitized all files that can be stored electronically versus having a paper copy, and pretty much got rid of anything that was useless and not essential to my needs. What was left is what I currently own now, down to 84 things as of today, May 15, 2010:

1. Netbook, Acer Aspire One 10.1″
2. Backpack, Patagonia
3. Journal, Moleskine
4. Binder (with my drawings/sketches)
5. 2010 Planner
6. Writing utensils (grouped as 1 item, includes
2 mechanical pencils, a few pens, and 1 black
7. Watch, Black, CK
8. Sunglasses, Brown, Fossil
9. Books (grouped as 1 item, 4 books)
10. Redwell Portfolio Organizer
11. Cell phone, Samsung
12. Bicycle
13. Bicycle lock
14. Hanging closet organizer, Green, IKEA
15. Storage containers, The Container Store
(grouped as 1 item, 3 clear, plastic boxes)
16. Karate gear
17. Karate gis
18. Mini karate gi hanging ornament (displayed
inside car)
19. Mouthguard
20. Japanese kimono girl ornament
21. USB Flash Drive
22. Bluetooth
23. Car, Silver, 2007 Honda Fit Sport
24. Black portfolio for the office
25. Gym bag, Pink, Adidas
26. Linen gym bag, Green
27. Suit, Black, Express
28. Earmuffs
29. Gloves, White
30. Gloves, Black
31. Winter Cap, Black, Urban Outfitters
32. Scarf, White, Liz Claiborne
33. Snow/ice scraper for the car
34. Vibram FiveFingers Classic, Black
35. Boots, Black, Aerosoles
36. Sneakers, White, Puma
37. Sandals, Brown, Abercrombie & Fitch
38. Heels, Black, Nine West
39. Canvas Shoes, Blue, Urban Outfitters
40. Panty hose, Nude
41. Underwear (grouped as 1 item)
42. Socks (grouped as 1 item)
43. Bras (grouped as 1 item)
44. Peacoat, Cream
45. Winter coat, The Gap
46. Trench coat, Black, Banana Republic
47. Jeans, Abercrombie & Fitch
48. Sweatpants, Gray, Hollister
49. Chinos, Gray, NY&Co.
50. Khakis, Abercrombie & Fitch
51. Work out pants, Gray, Victoria’s Secret
52. Zip-up hoodie, ISKC
53. Hat, Black, Adidas
54. Track jacket, Black, Adidas
55. Work out capris, Black, Adidas
54. T-shirt, White, NY&Co.
55. T-shirt, Gray, J.Crew
56. Shorts, Blue, Old Navy
57. Shorts, Black
58. Belt, Black, Express
59. Tank top, Black, Victoria’s Secret
60. Tank top, Green, Urban Outfitters
61. Bikini, Purple
62. Polo, Turquoise, Roxy
63. Pencil skirt, Gray, Banana Republic
64. Cardigan, Black, Banana Republic
65. Dress, Black, Charlotte Russe
66. Dress, Teal, Old Navy
67. Dress pants, Black, Banana Republic
68. Dress pants, Tan, The Limited
69. Sweater, Gray, Banana Republic
70. Sweater, White, Express
71. Sweater, Red, Express
72. Sweater, Tan, Banana Republic
73. Sweater, Blue, The Gap
74. Blouse, Black, The Gap
75. Blouse, Blue, NY&Co.
76. Blouse, Black, H&M
77. Blouse, Fuschia, NY&Co.
78. Blouse, White, Banana Republic
79. Blouse, Striped, The Limited
80. Wristlet, NY&Co.
81. Note cards (Thank You and Blank cards)
82. Suitcase, Red, SwissGear
83. Headphones
84. CDs (grouped as 1 item, very few)


It sounds a bit peculiar to actually count each thing a person owns, however, it really is quite fun and helps me to understand the value each thing I own brings. If the item presents no value to me, then I get rid of it. Simple as that. And by “getting rid” of something, I mean I either donate, sell, recycle, give it to someone else, or trash it.

Different stages in your life will warrant different things you need to subsist on. For instance, working in an office job requires me to have a certain set of workplace-appropriate professional business clothes and heels. If I wasn’t working in a corporate office, trust me, I would not have those items around. Same applies if you’re a painter or photographer. You need those tools in order to do work. Therefore, your list of things will change invariably as your life deems it necessary. As I continually evolve and shape my minimalist approach to life, my list will also change and evolve.

Having such few belongings makes moving so much easier. Especially since I’ve just moved closer to work now, saving around 60 miles a day of commute. Three hours a day commuting can really wear a person down. Not to mention cause a seemingly relaxed and happy-go-lucky person to mutter obscenities under her breath and finally curse the world around her, loudly and with lots of anger. This does not bode well with the state of flow I was trying to have.

Traveling? No problem. One little backpack of my essentials and I’m good to go. It was very apparent how minimalist traveling was definitely not the norm when I was trying to get through customs at the London Heathrow Airport last March 2009. The customs security officer stopped me and asked how long I will be staying in the UK.

“10 days,” I replied. He looked at my small Patagonia backpack and looked back at me.

“Is that all you’re bringing?” he asked incredulously.

“Yes. I don’t need anything else,” was my confident response.

“Wow … okay, you’re free to go. Have a nice stay,” responded the officer.

I was free to walk around, not physically and mentally weighed down by my baggage, while the rest of my graduate school classmates had larger-than-me suitcases which weighed 60+ lbs. each. Seeing them drag those around town, I can hear their exasperated complaints of how heavy and cumbersome the luggage was. When I asked what they brought, their responses were more along the lines with what they didn’t bring. Ah, the fruits of this labor is not exactly beneficial.

It’s all about paring down the non-essentials which will leave you with what you actually do need on a daily basis. Now you’re free to simply live and enjoy your life.

  • http://geenbeen7.wordpress.com geenbeen7

    wow nina! i’m impressed! I might have to do some cleaning for myself. i probably have thousands of things…hehe. i have to come visit!

  • bill

    that is amazing…you are wise girl, indeed, less things to carry in life = less things to worry about. And using the extra time and resource to fulfill your dreams and enjoy life. :D

  • Soroth Ann

    this is great. thank you Nina!

  • http://castlesita.wordpress.com Castles in the Air

    Glad to hear you’ve enjoyed this post, Soroth!

  • http://castlesita.wordpress.com Castles in the Air

    As I once read somewhere, “simple living frees you to simply live.” It is something I have never forgotten.

  • http://castlesita.wordpress.com Castles in the Air

    Yes, most definitely!

  • Jonathan

    “Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.”

    - Charles Mingus

  • Nichole Swafford

    Wow, Nina. I have to admit that I was impressed in England. I have always been a lighter packer than anyone I’ve ever know until I met you. I felt like my dufflebag was an insane amount of clothing compared to what you brought. Definitely fun times though! PS- I would like to propose an amendment to #61… it should be “purple bikini that makes my body look SICK!” hahahaha!

  • http://castlesita.wordpress.com Castles in the Air

    YES! That was the same one you helped solidify my shopping decision! I had to get it after your unwavering approval of how SICK it made me look, LOL! Great times, girl. And believe me, you’re still considered a “light” packer compared to most others. Keep it up and rock on!

  • jean

    Hi Nina,

    Great job on the packing!

    Do you have any furniture? Or is it not including in the inventory? Is that a single futon or mattress topper (in the 3rd photo)? I also prefer sleeping as close to the ground as possible. My back appreciates it too! :-)

    I’m enjoying your blog,


  • http://castlesita.wordpress.com Castles in the Air

    Hi Jean! Good question about the furniture. Answer: I don’t own any. :D And I don’t mind at all. So much easier nowadays!

    As for the bed, it’s technically a mattress topper I got from IKEA. It works, it’s easy, and I still have a good night’s sleep. Not to mention really easy to pick up and move, should I ever want to change things up, which I tend to do often. :P

    Have a great day and thanks for reading!

  • http://castlesita.wordpress.com Castles in the Air

    Love the quote, Jonathan!

  • Todd

    Great post. Makes me want to start getting rid of more things (but it's almost midnight and I should sleep). What about kitchen gear? I know I could cut some more out, but I really simplified my kitchen a few weeks ago. My friends thought I was crazy at first, but then were impressed at how it usually always looks clean. Less dishes, means less mess.
    Keep up the great work! I'm subscribing to your RSS feed right now.

  • Todd

    Oh, and I forgot to mention, I just discovered you via Joel Runyon. Thought you may like to know that. :)

  • https://castlesintheair.org Nina | Castles in the Air

    Hey Todd, thanks for stopping by! As for kitchen stuff, I am the chef's worst nightmare because I hardly have anything in the kitchen! I eat out of 1 bowl and have 2 plates (1 big, 1 small), 1 medium pot, and 1 small pot. I could still pare these items down but I'm already at the bare minimum! I think it helps that I also don't like to cook. Yep. Chef's worst nightmare. =P

  • https://castlesintheair.org Nina | Castles in the Air

    That's great! Joel's so energetic and his blog totally feels like it!

  • http://frugalbabe.com Frugal Babe

    I love the picture of all your stuff… so compact and tidy! I've been decluttering for the last few months, and it feels great. No need to clear a bunch of junk off the bathroom counter to wipe it down, no rooting through piles in the kitchen cupboards, no digging through a bunch of clothes I never wear… I even got rid of my dresser and share one with my husband now for things like underwear and socks.

  • https://castlesintheair.org Nina | Castles in the Air

    That is great to hear! Downsizing, decluttering, and minimizing really helps in so many aspects. Cleaning is drastically reduced and/or made simpler, like you said. No need to move things around to clean when you don't have anything there to begin with!

  • Drummer

    Towels, sheets, blankets, lamp, toiletries, cleaning products, broom, mop? Do you own these items? How do you get by without them? Interesting bog.

  • https://castlesintheair.org Nina | Castles in the Air

    In this list, I did not count toilettries, bathroom items, kitchenware, or furniture things (I should have made that more clear). THOUGH, I don't have a lot of the aforementioned items …. my only “furniture” pieces include 1 reading lamp and 1 mattress thing that acts as my bed. I have 1 towel, very few make up applications, and very few cleaning products (only the basics).

  • Layla

    Hey I'm trying to do the 100 things challenge too… it's taking me a while, and I just realized on tuesday that I forgot to count my laptop because it wasn't on any of my shelves as I was typing up my list…
    I haven't hit the magic number yet, but I still feel like my things are more deliberate.

  • https://castlesintheair.org Nina | Castles in the Air

    That's a great start, Layla! The fact that you're beginning to contemplate what your stuff means to you, and then taking action to start a list and set goals for yourself, is worthy of mention.

    Whatever your ideal number is, be it under 100, 100, 150, or 200 things, make it yours. You can do it!

  • Natalie

    I just found your blog last week and it is so inspiring! This post led me to go through my stuff this past weekend and I gathered up around 1/3 of my clothing and some books to donate. I still have a ways to go, but it was a great start. I have been looking into simplifying and minimizing my stuff for ages and this gave me the push to actually do something. It’s amazing how much stuff I accumulated throughout the years. Thank you and I look forward to reading more!

  • https://castlesintheair.org Nina | Castles in the Air

    Woo Hoo, great job Natalie!! nnOnce we consciously start to uncover the clutter in our lives, we start to realize how much we held onto, forgot about, ignored, or just didn’t bother to go through the piles of stuff. It’s quite the liberating feeling. I will be posting next week an updated list of my things, down to 70 things as of this writing!

  • Natalie

    70 things…wow that’s amazing! I can’t wait to see the updated list!

  • http://www.carvaletingproducts.net/ Car Valeting

    I bought an fantastic cleaning tool for cars the other day at the mall. I’m sure you might have seen the buckets you put on your car and it has a check valve with a brush on the end. Works wonders.

  • http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/7PHWQGX Patria Gieger

    Cheers for this interesting article. I am keen to see more on this topic in the not too distant future. Thanks again

  • http://moite-recepti.com recepti

    Keep working ,great job!

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