Changing Your Life - Packing and Unpacking - Carla Coulson
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Changing Your Life – Packing and Unpacking

vintage suitcases, changing lives, carla coulson, travel,

As I pack my suitcases for Australia and I am thinking about some unpacking I will soon tackle not suitcases but boxes. A lot of boxes…

For 13 years I have pushed a project to the back of my mind, my life that I put in storage when I left for Italy in 2000. An entire storage shed of things that the rent could have bought me a couture gown, a new car or a deposit on a small Parisian apartment. OUCH……That hurts..

But I have also chosen not to think about that either.

Because what that storage shed did was buy me a whole lot of freedom. And I am talking about just-two-suitcase kind of freedom, turn back the clock to when you were sixteen years old kind of freedom!

For 13 years I didn’t have to think about a couch, a plate, a chair, a vase, a rug or a desk.. .Nulla, zippo, zilch.

I didn’t want to own anything, I didn’t want to be tied down to a place, a city or a vase! I not only wanted to be physically free to restart a life and a career but I wanted to be mentally free, nothing to weigh me down. I wanted to be able to get on a plane, train or automobile when I felt like it.

Image via The Alternative Consumer

Well, that storage shed awaits me and I have to tell you after 13 years of living like a student with other peoples furniture I am little bit curious and excited to see what is in that shed. I can remember bits like an old faded film but I am sure there will be some big surprises! And I am sure half of it will go in a garage sale.

But hey I am ready. I have finally come to terms with the fact that I do live in Europe, Paris for 8 years and Italy for 5 years and I wouldn’t mind sitting on my lovely white couch and have my 60’s glass vases full of tulips, sweet peas and peonies.

Carla’s student phase has been AMAZING, beyond rewarding, liberating and sooooooo fulfilling but I am ready for the next step whatever that will be.

So to any of you out there who are packing or unpacking I wish you much happiness on whichever part of the journey you are at.

“Don’t forget to pack your courage for your journey to greatness”. David Weinbaum




  • Julie Allan

    I find your articles truly inspiring and wish you success and happiness in all you do. Look forward to hearing the next chapter of your travels.

    November 22, 2012 at 11:08 am
  • Wow, 13 years! I thought I was pushing the envelope with my ‘packed to the brim’ storage garage for the past 6 years – I left so much behind when I moved to Paris. I’m sure you will find some new treasures and lots of memories! Bonne chance and safe travels,

    November 22, 2012 at 12:33 pm
  • Gabriella

    As you describe your life, you make sense of mine. I left Australia for Paris on a one-way ticket in 2009. I sold my car and apartment so that I too would not be tied down and could move freely (in Europe). In a few days time, I’ll be making my very first trip back to Australia. It will be a short visit. I’m curious – will I feel like a foreigner in my own country? I guess I’ll know soon. Now, must get back to packing. Courage going in first.

    November 22, 2012 at 2:06 pm
  • Louise

    Hi Carla. I live in Canada and Australia..(I’m Trudy Florence’s mum).After 5 years of this way of living I now only have some boxes stored in a friend’s abandoned dairy. All the furniture, that I loved, has gone..all the big stuff had to go.I can imagine how exciting it will be for you to open that storage unit up and forage through it all..I have that feeling each time I go back and go through my few possessions..Love your blog and writing. I gave Trudy her first book of yours back when she was a teenager..:).

    November 22, 2012 at 2:20 pm
  • The big reveal sound like fun Carla, who knows what you will find that you need. Maybe even a couture gown is hiding in there-ha!
    Have a wonderful time back home Carla.

    November 22, 2012 at 2:40 pm
  • Possessions are fun & comforting, but they’ve got that evil flip side of tying you down, and then you’ve got to clean them all, and organize them all!!! (I’m trying to get rid of everything that I don’t absolutely ADORE!) But since you’ve lived so long with other people’s stuff, you’ll have a field day rediscovering your own. Buon viaggio, Carla!

    November 22, 2012 at 3:49 pm
  • As we have one foot in Normandy and a house to empty and sell in the Languedoc, I enjoyed reading this post! Each move I make means I can, and want to, get rid of more stuff.
    I hope you enjoy going through your storage space and I’m sure you’ll find some treasures there that you had completely forgotten about!

    November 22, 2012 at 7:46 pm
  • Oh how funny the first time I went overseas I planned to stay 10 weeks which turned into two years. I left all my things in my Step Dad’s old garage and the funniest thing I found in the boxes when I finally returned was an onion.

    Tomorrow someone is coming to pick up my treasured hall stand, we are selling everything this time and only a few boxes to Melbourne of treasures.

    We are planning to live a very simple life in Italy, a whole new adventure. I hope you find some treasures and have fun unpacking all those memories,
    love lisa x

    November 22, 2012 at 8:16 pm
  • Kym

    I kept all my furniture and bits and pieces in storage for 5 years after I moved in with my partner…in case we broke up. Well, we broke up, I moved in with a friend or 12 months before I left to Australia to travel and didn’t need it, so I removed all the sentimental items and called the Salvation Army to pick up the rest. Five years of storage fees wasted? It wasn’t about the storage. I needed the peace of mind to know I would be okay and I could start again if we broke up.

    I hope you have some wonderful surprises and finds when you go back through yours.

    November 23, 2012 at 12:05 am
  • Sabrina

    I can totally relate to your story Carla…my new mantra “I will win. Why? Because I have faith, courage & enthusiasm!” Yes to new beginnings!!!

    November 23, 2012 at 2:37 am
  • Shall be very rewarding I think!Enjoy it!

    November 23, 2012 at 2:51 am
  • DeniseAngela

    That is a long time & it must be a litte exciting to see what you may have left in the past!

    November 23, 2012 at 6:17 am
  • I love this post, a lot.
    Maybe, because I’m kind of packing period.
    Thanks for lovely words.

    November 23, 2012 at 7:32 am
  • Carla, I admire you for your journey in the past 13 years! How truly inspirational! My beau and I started decluttering, simplifying, letting go of things recently so that we can travel more and not be tied down to our things. It’s so scary at first but so refreshing! I can’t wait to hear all about it after you’ve unpack.
    Also, I am visiting Sydney next month. Do you have any top three things on your must do list while there?
    Thank you!

    November 23, 2012 at 9:15 pm
  • Carla, I don’t envy you the unpacking at all. it’s funny. I just wouldn’t even want to know anymore what those boxes held! But because your journey, your student years have been lived so fruitfully and because you seem so content now I am sure the nostalgia will be easy to bear. I hope it’s wonderful for you. And the start of another wonderful phase that I know you’ll want to share with us. jxx

    November 24, 2012 at 5:31 am
  • Another lovely post Carla…sheds are wonderful things aren’t they? A bientot….and one day I do hope I get a chance to do a workshop with you. Praps back in Australia!!!!

    November 24, 2012 at 9:53 am
  • I love this post! I am at the opposite end of this transition. I have just put everything into storage and I am moving to Paris in January. I am excited to be entering a ‘student’ phase but I’m sure I will one day love to come back to that storage unit.

    November 26, 2012 at 4:35 am
  • It will be fascinating to discover how your taste has changed if at all and if you hold the same sentimental value to things you did 13 years ago.
    Enjoy all of your re-discovering. Regards Heather

    November 30, 2012 at 12:31 pm