Saturday, June 24, 2017

Tropical Storm Cindy

    We had Tropical Storm Cindy roll through here this week. It actually hit the area where Texas meets Louisiana, but we got all the rain and wind.

    Living on the gulf coast of Mississippi there are reminders of Hurricane Katrina everywhere. All of us residents are acutely aware of the potential for a repeat sometime in the future. I have done some hurricane prep in the past, most notably to back up all my photos both digital and physical. I also photographed all my postcard collection as a backup as well. I recommend Dropbox for this. One of the added unexpected benefits of cloud storage is that I can pull up any photo I ever had and show it to someone right then and there. For example our eighth graders that were graduating in May were asking about our own middle school years (I am a teacher at a middle school). I was able to pull up a photo of my own graduation, they went gaga over the awesome 90’s style I sported. Pretty cool!

     While work was cancelled and I had the day to spend with my dog at home, I decided to try one of my favourite things to do, time for a "mental exercise". Only I decided to go one step further and instead of writing it down I actually pulled and packed stuff. The theme, so to speak, was "if we had to evacuate what would I pack to take with me". The rules I set for myself was everything had to fit in my Tom Bihn synapse 25 and my Tom Bihn sidekick (purse). Another rule was if I would buy the item again (i.e. if it was important enough for re-purchase) then I had to pack it. I did not pack any work stuff, work clothes, work bag, work supplies. Only what I personally needed and wanted. There is definitely a difference between my needs and wants, this was discovered real quick as I began packing. Really I only needed 2-3 outfits, but I found myself thinking about the long term practicality. I realised long term I would buy more clothes thus defeating my second rule. So I packed more than I would travel with.

     I suppose the A-type personalities out there would have made a list first, but I wanted this be as authentic as possible, as if I really only had so long to pack before evacuating. I did not set a time limit, but I'd did act as if there wasn't much time. The feeling was helped by the constant tornado warning beeping through my cell phone and having the weather channel on in the background. I tried not to really think, but go with gut instinct and see where I ended up.                         

    The above photo was my first round result. I won't bore you with a list of the items, but as you can see I was unsuccessful in fitting it in my synapse and sidekick. Two of my packing vehicles (laundry stuff sack and travel tray by Tom Bihn) did not even make it inside. Also I realised aftewards that I neglected to pack ANY toiletries. I don't know if you can see it but I couldn't even zip up my bag, it was that overstuffed!

    Round two involved me dumping everything out on the bed and analyzing what I had grabbed and what the motivation behind it must have been. I then began systematically replanning and packing with careful thought and precision. The caveat being I couldn't go back and take things from my room, it had to be a re-pack from round one. I figured if I went in depth with the exercise then should the need arrive where it was no longer a drill, but reality, then I would be better prepared. Having mentally rehearsed ahead of time, the decisions will come easier and with more rationale. I am happy to say that at the end of round two everything did fit in the synapse with room to zip up. The only thing I would be buying would have been toiletries!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Still Learning

Just a quick post. As I am sitting here on this beautiful little outdoor deck area at my college waiting for my first graduate school class to start, I have my Tom Bihn sidekick with a few extras inside, a legal pad and a can of Sunkist (don't ask, I just had a weird craving for one this afternoon). I am laughing at myself and the fact that even after 3 years of minimalism I will overpack without thinking. In fact I have to think hard to remind myself to pack light and for the best case and not the worst. Why is it in our nature to do so? There may be a blessed few of y'all out there whom naturally and instinctively pack light, but I am betting it is not the majority. Once again I shot myself in the foot and packed my beloved Tom Bihn Synapse 25 with everything I could possibly need for school and for work (I am working at a summer camp). Brainiac me, decided it would be very minimalist just to have one EDC (every day carry) bag for all my activities this summer. It was fine wearing it for 2 minutes from parking lot to classroom at camp, but walking around campus this afternoon? No ma'am! No, siree, I tell you what, it's hot! And it ain't light weight! It's not literally sliding-out-of-my-shoes-in-the-middle-of-Hong-Kong-dragging-a-heavy-ass-suitcase heavy, but enough for me to laugh at myself. If nothing else, I do learn from my mistakes. I went back out to my car, added a few things like glasses, a pen, a snack and a pencil to my sidekick and grabbed a notebook on my way again towards growing my future. What better place to learn from a mistake than at a place of higher learning during a return to school 12 years in the making.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Minimalist Jewelry

Minimalist Jewelry

As with clothes you probably wear 20% of your jewelry 80% of the time. In fact unlike clothes it is probably an even smaller percentage. I know I wear the same bracelets every day, I may add one or two more on the weekend. I typically wear the same two necklaces. I have five or six pendants that I just switch out on the same chain.

At work I have a security badge that I wear, it is on the Vera Bradley safety lanyard in a slim ID case. I have had the same one for three years now. I have to say I am super frustrated with Vera Bradley’s quality. While the patterns are pretty the are expensive. They get dirty easily and will fray. I have tried washing them over the years but they never seem to look clean. I have worked for 3 school systems and their rules for wearing an ID badge vary. I started wearing mine full time my second year teaching. Since I am short (5ft) and look young I find it has helped with establishing respect in the classroom. It also helps with substitutes and parents who may not know my face.  


Over the last year I made a concentrated effort to sell the jewelry I seldom wear, to pay attention to the ones I favor (i.e. why do I tend to reach for that necklace almost everyday?), and to invest in versatile higher quality pieces that match the “color theme” of my wardrobe when I do purchase new jewelry (which i seldom did even when I was a hoarder).

For about 3 years I was a big fan of the Alex & Ani bracelets. Trendy, yes, but bracelets are my weakness and I did wear 2-3 everyday. Something I noticed was they seemed to be silver plated and not sterling silver. No matter how carefully I stored them or wore them, they always seemed to tarnish and chip at the 2 year mark. I hated wearing them once them were noticeably damaged. Reluctantly I sold them all on poshmark. Due to the tarnish and wear on them I was no longer wearing them and they just sat sadly in my jewelry roll. Luckily they all found new homes.

Using the money I got for the sales on poshmark, I invested in a pandora sterling silver bangle. I wear it everyday on my right wrist. I have a pandora chain bracelet I wear on my left. I prefer it with no charms at all, it is so pretty on its own. I have a leather bracelet I also wear on my left that I received from a community member while I was working at a local youth club. I have one other Pandora bracelet, it is a pink leather double wrap, I mostly wear that one on weekends. I have 2 necklaces, both with a longer length, I have found that I like the necklaces that rest just above my stomach. One is a LOFT owl necklace I got 6 years ago when I worked there. The other was acquired this past winter after saving up. It is the long beaded Pandora Essence necklace. I switch out the beads to make a “new look” every time I wear it and for it to match my outfit. At $110 it is hands down the most expensive piece of jewelry I have ever owned. I timed the purchase to coincide with a spend $125 get a free bracelet sale, which is how I got the chain bracelet I wear on my left wrist.

Lastly earrings. I have always worn a pair of earrings until I lose one by way of it falling out. Most of the time I wear a pair for 2 years minimum. The set I have in my second holes I have had for 5 years. The primary set were a pair of turquoise ones from Aeropostale from 3 years ago. I just happened to loose one last month while in a changing room. I have very sensitive ears, even nickel free will get them infected the first time I put them in. After deliberation it seemed stainless steel might be the way to go. I love Fossil jewelry for this reason, most of their jewelry is stainless. I like it even a bit more than silver, never tarnishes. I bought a set of silver tone stainless steel love knot earrings from Fossil last month and am in love! That’s it, I don’t have any other earrings.

Last bit of jewelry I is two stainless steel bracelets from Fossil, one silver toned with a heart charm similar to the Tiffany one. The other is a gold tone chain one. I don’t often wear gold toned jewelry, but have increased its use in the last 3 years or so with the advent of mixed tone stacking jewelry. I love that the rules of fashion have changed and one doesn’t need to wear monochrome color.

Jewelry

Double wrap pink leather Pandora bracelet

Pandora bangle

Pandora heart chain bracelet

    Brown leather braided bracelet

    Loft owl necklace

    Pandora essence beaded necklace

    Assorted Pandora and Hallmark stainless steel chams ~15

    Pandora pink ring

    College class ring

    High school class ring

    Fossil steel bracelet

    Fossil gold tone bracelet

    Assorted pendants ~5

Friday, May 5, 2017

Pensacola Pack List April

Pensacola Pack List

We spent the weekend in Pensacola, FL so my bf could run in the Fiesta Five Flags 5k/10 run. When I stayed in Pensacola in January swimming was not possible. While it is much warmer along the gulf coast in winter then much of the rest of the US, we can usually get away with shorts at best. There are those intrepid few that swim, but as I grew up in New England and have had more than my fair share of cold in my life, I am not one of them. I loathe cold weather. Actually, cold weather is not the problem, it is slushy snow, black ice, cutting winds and months of zero sunshine that I despise. Funnily enough I believe it is mostly out-of-town visitors, tired of cold themselves, that actually swim here in the colder months.

    April, however, is a great time to be at the beach. Warm to hot days with little to no humidity, longer days with the time change, off-season pricing and almost no tourists. You can find whole stretches with not a soul for solo time. The water is warm enough to swim in. I could go on and on. Therefore my packing list changed from our trip in January to this last weekend of April. I almost forgot, there is one caveat to spring visits. The rain. You could find 10 days of nothing or 3 days of thunderstorms. I packed keeping this in mind. One more nugget, I have a 5 year-old chihuahua named Indiana Jones “Indy” for short. He always goes on vacation with us unless we are flying somewhere. I am including my packing list for him too (yes, he is a bit of a diva, and yes I am a first time dog mom, so I overpack).

Clothes

1 swimsuit

1 coverup

1 pair jeggings

1 linen shirt

1 pair capri yoga pants

1 tee

1 tank top

1 pair athletic shorts

1 long sleeve tech shirt

1 dress

1 denim jacket (my go-to when I wear a dress)

1 pair flip flops

I was wearing work clothes when we drove over, since we left straight after work. Work clothes were 1 pair of khakis, 1 work tee and I wore my tennis shoes.

Toiletries

Hairbrush

Deodorant

Toothbrush/paste

Travel size baby powder

Sunscreen

Travel size shampoo/conditioner combo ( I don’t like hotel shampoo, dries my hair out)

Hair clip

Misc.

Ipad/charger (could've left it behind, didn’t end up using it, I usually don’t so I am actually not sure why I did pack it)

Headphones (my nice bose ones, again, didn’t need, not sure why I packed them)

Camp/sport towel

notebook/pen

Sarong (yeah I finally got one!!!! And as in the past, it is super useful for everything)

Sarong clip

Spork

Passport

Wool buff

Headlamp

Combo lock

Face mask

Beach chair

Swim noodle

Beach umbrella

Tom Bihn  Synapse 25

Tom Bihn Sidekick

Ultrasil sea-to summit backpack

2 Lewis and Clark featherlight packing cubes

1 Lewis and Clark featherlight packing cube

Things I would do differently next time

I definitely should have left the Ipad and headphones at home. When it is only a weekend trip they are really not necessary.

I forgot my earplugs! Of course the air conditioner was extremely loud.

I usually put a couple unused dryer sheets in my bag to make it smell nice, I didn’t this time. They really make a big difference.

Laundry bag, I really haven’t found a good one yet, but every damn time I travel I wish I had one.

I have also been toying with the idea of using shoe bags. I just toss them in now, but they can smell and in this case were covered in sand. A good set of shoe bags is most certainly on my radar now.

I also recently ordered the Matador Mini Pocket Blanket. There are several end of the year school events happening where it would be useful. In addition I used my sarong as a beach blanket this weekend because red flags were out and swimming in the ocean was banned so I did not need it as a cover-up. Normally I don’t need a beach blanket because of the chair, but our dog does need one as the sand gets hot. On our next trip I will use the Matador for him and my sarong as my cover-up/towel The sports/camp towel was for him, he likes to swim (He is a Chihuahua and gets cold easily if not dried).

One last item, not really an item, but act. I will change into my loungy clothes next time before leaving on a trip. The three hour car ride would have been way more comfortable in yogas and a tee.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Minimalism Sundays

Minimalism Sundays

About a year ago I started watching minimalism YouTube videos on Sundays as I folded laundry. From there it grew to include reading minimalist blog posts. Eventually I started listening to Theminimalists.com podcasts on my iPad. Now I call it Minimalism Sundays and I devote a good chunk of the day to it. I find it refreshes me for the week ahead. It gets my head back in the game so to speak.

    Having this set aside time also allows for reflection on any mistakes I have made during the week and to formulate a game plan for better decision making in the future. I still slip up and shop without a purpose on occasion. Sometimes I don't even realize I have done so until I am listening to the podcast and mull over their words. I have learned to forgive myself, move on and definitely to return it!

  All this came about when I read Marie Kondo's book The Japanese Art of Tidying Up. I typically do laundry on Sundays. I wanted to try out the Konmari folding method but I couldn't quite understand how it was done in the book. Naturally I turned to online sources and there was a YouTube video (there is a YouTube video for EVERYTHING). That led to more videos on how other people did the Konmari clean out. Which in turn led to videos on minimalism, then one-bag-living, then travel, nomadic living, digital nomad, build your own tiny house, capsule wardrobes, and oh my! I just loved it.

   I never noticed how bombarded we are with advertisements until I started to pay attention. We are hit with the message to shop constantly. Even while watching Tiny House Nation, a show specifically​ on downsizing and culling “stuff" on the first commercial break there are handsome people dancing around buying things on wayfarer with free shipping. They show them clicking the purchase then bam! It is in their living room perfectly set. During my YouTube videos on minimalism and nomadic lifestyles the commercials were on Carmax Superstore and Macy's one day sale. Ever notice Macy's has a one day sale every weekend? And they always have a “preview day” the day before. Anyhow between the side adverts on your work email, the radio ads on the way to work and the cute outfits your coworkers are sporting it is easy to be sucked into the consumerism vortex. And if you do, forgive yourself and move on, we are only human, with each new mistake we add a new lesson to our menagerie of experiences. Have a most wonderful day 😀

Thursday, April 6, 2017

My "Always Pack" list

My “Always Pack” List

    There are a few things that get packed up every time; no matter where, when, or how long a trip may be. There is a small black mesh bag that normally stores my electronics, it does double duty as my “always pack” container on trips. Items that are always packed are: wool buff, spork, headlamp, eye mask, ear plugs, sarong clip (sarong too, but I do not currently have one and have been on the look-out), notebook/pen and passport. You may or may not be surprised to know that only one of those things actually gets used in my day-to-day life.

    Each of my “always pack” items is invaluable when needed, serves multiple purposes and has saved my bacon on previous trips. My wool buff was a hat, a face mask, glove and pot holder on a camping trip in the Smokies. It was a scarf, headband and hat on my trip to Europe. It was a scarf again during the snowpocalypse in Jackson, MS this past January. In the year I have owned it, it has time and time again proved to be one of most useful clothing articles.

                 <wool buff in action!

    The spork, once scoffed at in the cafeteria in high school is now used with triumphant gusto. I also newly acquired it last year at REI in Knoxville, TN when I got the wool buff and Dr Bronner’s soap (2 oz.). In the year I have had it, it has not been used too often. My best guesstimate is 20 times or so, but when you need a utensil, you need a utensil! It got the most use on my camping trip of course. I used it in the airport a dozen times or so. In Europe it was mostly used in Germany and the Negev desert. I cannot stress the point enough tho, that when you need a utensil, you need a utensil! Then when you pull out the spork with glorious relish it may as well be gold.

       

    Next item is the headlamp. Not too much to say about it other then I love the hands free feeling of having an adjustable flashlight. It almost never gets used, except for camping or the rare moments down south when we lose electricity. I walk my dog every night using my boyfriend’s regular flashlight and it is only just now dawning on me that I should use the headlamp (I can be a dunce at times). Again it is one of those items that while not in use too often it proves itself worth a million dollars when you need one.

    The eye mask was a freebie given out by Delta on our flight to Europe. I didn’t think I needed it but the packet came with earplugs which I had forgotten and knew I would use those. Since I hate throwing away items I kept the eyemask in my bag during the trip. It became a wonderful tool for sleeping. It usually takes me a day or two to get accustomed to a new environment to sleep well. With the sleep mask I sleep like a baby every time.

    I am currently without a sarong. Usually the one I have operates as a throw blanket, beach blanket, dressy skirt, swim cover-up, loungey dress and serves a multitude of other various uses. During a clean-up over a year ago I donated it thinking it wasn’t truly adding value at the time. Since then I have not found a good replacement and since I have been making due without it for so long now I hesitate to buy another. I guess I am waiting now for one that was ethically made, in superb colors that match everything in my wardrobe and at a good price. Basically the shangri-la of sarongs. It could be awhile.

With the ever expanding assortment of electronics available out there I am still old school when it come to taking notes. My notebook and pen are invaluable to me. All the information will typically be transferred to an electronic system, but I still like the feel of writing and the freedom of spacing it gives me on the page. I tried using a moleskine as most digital nomads raved about them, I found a cheap spiral bound small notebook was more conducive to my style. I also use either a purple pentel pen or a bic 4 color multi-click pen.  

Lastly, my passport is always by my side because you never know! I would never want to miss out on an opportunity just because I didn’t have the most important tool in a travelers kit with me. Also, if your wallet get stolen or lost, how happy will you be getting to the airport with a backup? ‘Hey, let’s jet down to the Bahamas!” will probably never happen when I am in Orlando, but you can’t blame a girl for dreaming!

    What do you “always pack?” I am curious to compare notes! Oh and by the way, it’s earplugs that get used everyday!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Let go of the Guilt

Let Go of the Guilt

Upon re-reading my previous post on the Sentimental Items I Kept, there was a realization, nay an epiphany, there were still belongings that I didn’t actually care about. After some self analysis, the reasons they were kept was out of a sense that “they should mean something to me”. I was building a sense of obligation to these items. In part because after ridding myself of 90% of all I owned the few tchotchkes that remained intimated they must be the most quintessential to my “collection” of knick knacks. Obligation is a heavy word. It weighs you down. Just pondering on the word obligation, a feeling of stress settles on one’s mind. The crazy thing is, I was the only person expecting myself to keep these items.

    Please, do not feel bad if you do not care about some sentimental items and heirlooms. A valuable lesson I learned from Courtney Carver (bemorewithless.com) was to let go of the guilt. Not just guilt from spending all that money when the initial purchase was made, but the guilt from not using it. There is guilt in money spent to store stuff, organize stuff and move stuff. Hanging on to the stuff will just cost even more resources and money. Forgive yourself and move on.

A large part of my hoarding issue was knowing the money I spent was wasted if I never used it. I never saw that holding onto it was costing me even more, not just money, it was taking away happiness, causing stress and alienating me from people. How refreshing to come home every day to be surrounded by only possessions that truly spark joy! “Use things love people, because the opposite never works” (theminimalists.com).

The following is a list of things I got rid of just this weekend.

1.Stormtrooper action figure

2.Han/Chewy action figure

3.Luke/Leia grappling hook action figure

4.Lego Millennium Falcon

5.Lego Ti fighter

6.Lego AT-AT

7.Lego x-wing fighter

8.Lego cloud city car

9.Red sox Fenway Park dirt

10.Red Sox ticket stub

11.Stainless steel funnel and cup

12. 2 comic books

13.NYC name sign

14.A few extra postcards (mostly if I got more than 1 or 2 per trip)

15.Pledge book

16.Hogwarts run medal

17.Convention patch

18.High school patch

19.3 graphic novels

20.Chopsticks wedding favor

21.Columbia black fleece jacket

22.Gray Loft leggings

23.Spandex shorts

24.Linen tank top

25. Canvas field jacket

26. 2 fossil necklaces

27. Duster Sweater

I am thinking next week of putting everything I own on the floor of my living room and taking a picture so y'all can see what I do have.