travel

Confessions of a People Pleaser

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‘You want to know how I did it? This is how I did it, Anton: I never saved anything for the swim back.’
– Vincent (Ethan Hawke’s Character) from Gattaca

Writing about minimalism has been quite an experience for me. It’s like my soul needed to get rid of all the physical crap covering my dreams. There were reasons I buried them. Deep, personal reasons. I didn’t know it until I started digging and purging and writing. The more I pull away the clutter of my life, the more I must deal with those reasons.

In keeping with my commitment to remain transparent in my writing, I have a confession: I have this constant, inner-nagging to start a money-making blog. “Do what you love” they scream from flashing banners and obtrusive adverts, “and you can be rich.” I constantly go back to my own post about Making Money Online to remind myself that it takes time…and money does not pour in from the sky as I write about my personal struggle with releasing boxes of junk from my attic.

Still my little brain continues to buzz with ideas and strategies.

Which brings me to my second confession: I’ve been holding back. I have ideas and topics I want to write about and decide to “save them for my someday blog.” (You know, the one I’ll create and from which I will instantly get millions of viewers and huge commission checks?) And here is where I argue with my teenage self (my self-righteous, know-it-all teenage self who thought I should always have a very “noble” job) and tell her that I want to write about clothes.

Yes, clothes.

Not saving children in third world countries or how to live without plastic. But clothes. And not just any clothes. Adventure clothes. Clothes that can go from home to work to play. Clothes that travel the world or to the grocery store and still look great. I believe that all of life is an adventure.

It’s one of those dreams I found while digging. Letting it lie dormant was an early lesson in impressing people. When I said I wanted a career in fashion, people often nodded and smiled. When I changed my answer to “lawyer” I got a lot more interest and encouragement. So from then on, I dedicated my little soul to making sure my answer impressed people. Even if my heart wasn’t in it…and I intentionally hid my desire to do anything with clothing as a way to make a living.

But here I am, surrounded by people who choose to read what I write. Encouraging, wonderful, beautiful people. People like you who love to write and explore and discover the dreams we left behind. You don’t seem to mind my strange hue of sunshine. It’s a new, beautiful place. I love it. I don’t have to impress you with my words. I just have to be sincere.

Clothes sincerely fascinate me. I love how lines, and fit, and color, and fabric can highlight our best (or worst) features. I love discovering new ways to wear a sarong. I love figuring out how to coordinate five items into twenty different outfits. Versatility. Quality. Comfort. Function. Style. I love all of this about clothes.

I’m tired of letting my old need to impress people keep it buried.

So from here on out, I’m not going to hold back. Clothes are a big part of my simplicity quest and I have much to share on the subject. I read other blogs (about clothes) that I want to share with you. I want to learn more about the science of style and the beautiful differences in our body shapes and tell you what I find. I will continue to praise the Lily Dress but I want to explore other items I might consider essential. I’m so excited. I’m smiling as I type.

I come full circle with another confession (and a bit of surprise to myself): I don’t care if I make a dime writing about it.

It feels so much better when I don’t hold back. And when I don’t apologize for who I am, what I love, and what I want to write about.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read this. It is my heart and soul poured out into words…

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A Dream Deferred…Is Liberating

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What happens to a dream deferred?

– Langston Hughes

I am itching to “make it” as a travel writer. By “make it” I mean make money (even though I know it’s not about the money). I go places. Maybe not across the world with one backpack and a laptop. But I love road trips and I see adventure everywhere. And I want to share it through writing and fun photos. Lately, I’ve been researching travel writers and I even set up a skeleton profile on Matador.com. But every time I went to the page I felt something was “off”. Something inside me just wasn’t flowing into the travel articles I was writing attempting to write – even as practice.

So I unplugged from my life, did a few sun salutations, and searched my soul to find that nagging feeling. In minutes, I found clarity. This is not the time for me to be a travel writer. Oh, I know…”you gotta reach for your dreams while you can” but how can I reach for some of them when I’m bogged down in an attic half full of junk? My biggest dream is to live a minimalist lifestyle so that I can spend more time spreading sunshine. I want to get better at being a loving person (I have so far to go on this one). I want to live my goals and “do my thing” without any nagging voices inside me.

I need minimalism for my soul as well as my surroundings.

I wrote “Travel Writer” on my list of someday projects, closed my browser tabs telling me how to be a better travel writer, and exhaled. It felt so good. Like I had been carrying extra weight in my life’s backpack that I had not noticed. I went through a box of giveaway stuff with new zeal and pleasure.

I don’t know what happens to a dream deferred. But I’m going to continue on my simplicity quest to find out. This is my dream for now. Thank you for letting me share it with you. Cheers!

The Closet Countdown: Weekly Update #1

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It’s been a week since I started The Closet Countdown. I decided to revive my running and do some part-time nanny work at the same time. Um. Should have included a few more sport items and probably could live without the “nice” dress I included “just in case” I needed it. Oh well. I’m learning.

I found a top I thought I loved but really I just kinda liked it because it coordinated with my other stuff. Decided to let it go. Now I’m living on 54 items. Figuring out how to “make it” on “just 54 items” feels very much like a first world problem.

My easy-grab and wear-anywhere favorite is my black Merrell Lily dress. By far. Hands down. No question about it. Hell, after this is over, I might just sell the rest of my clothes, buy more Lily dresses, and go from there. I wore it for a Fourth of July event as well as a casual memorial service. Even though I rave about the Lily, I do wish it had one thing: pockets. Perhaps with all the time I’ll make for myself by getting rid of stuff (including other, unfinished craft projects) I’ll make some modifications. Or why not dream big? Design my own line of minimalist travel clothing? First the junk, then we’ll see. 🙂

As I explore minimalism and figure out new ways to simplify my life, I re-learn over and over again that it’s about balance. Too much stuff is a pain to take care of. Too little can create different problems. Like needing to wash laundry more often. I hate running such a small load but I need my clothes to not smell like my morning run. Or the hours on the trampoline playing superhero robots. I don’t mind hand washing stuff in the shower but that’s kind of a pain too when I’m trying to make my shower time quicker. Like I said, first world problems…

It’s been a good week. I’m still glad I’m doing this because I’m learning quite a bit about myself and my choices.

As always, thanks for reading. I appreciate you and your time. Cheers!

P.S. If you want to read previous posts (and see a few pics) please check out The Closet Countdown page.

Minimalism and What We Leave Behind

20130707-140800.jpgOn the road in my treasured Jeep Cherokee. Just me and my Lily. Somewhere between two small Texas towns. The AC is out. Again. (It’s a long story). Warm air rushes around me as I head toward my cousin’s memorial service. It’s my favorite white noise. Sometimes I put my arm out the window and play with the wind. Up. Down. Up. Down.

I can’t hear my phone if I get a call or a text. For about an hour it’s just me, my Jeep, the wind on my skin, and the road ahead. Time to think and process where I’m going and what I’m doing. Not just the memorial service but all of it.

My mind wanders  to conversation with a well-meaning friend about how I should keep my childhood artwork because it might be nice to display some at my funeral someday. My response was self-righteous and inconsiderate. Pssht. I’m a minimalist. I don’t keep anything. But she didn’t mean keep everything from childhood. She actually helped give me some boundaries in my quest for simplicity. My apology was a little late and a lot lame. I should have listened better. Been kinder in my response…

At the little church where we gather to honor and say farewell to my cousin I stare at the photos and things he left behind and my mind wanders again. I said goodbye to my father in the same church more than twenty years ago. I’ve since said goodbye to his three siblings there as well. I inherited things from all of them. Things. Stuff. But they left behind so much more: stories, kindness, an appreciation for hard work, and a deep love for people and Texas. I have no greater inheritance.

It’s a small service. My cousin was a natural minimalist. He lived on a small ranch in a small cabin. He fought illness and social stereotypes while training horses. People take turns standing up and telling stories about him. “He was kind.” “He loved people and animals with all of his heart.” “Even when in pain, he had so much joy.” My favorite words are “If you knew Larry, you loved him.”

And like a flash of sublime light it hits me. In seconds, several moments blend into that tiny church. My conversation with my friend about saving stuff for my funeral. Driving in my Jeep. The pictures of Larry. His saddle. Memories of my dad. My aunts. My uncle. The words. The beautiful, sweet words that people said about my cousin.

For just a few seconds I get it. All of it. Life and what is important is incredibly clear. And I want nothing more than to love on the people around me, shower the world in sunshine, and leave behind more kindness than nicknacks.

The drive home is hotter. I don’t mind. The wind dries my tears and the ice water by my side keeps me cool. I’m going back to my collection of things with a new perspective. My heart is full of what matters more than my Jeep, or the heat, or the road ahead…

Thank you for traveling this path with me, dear reader. The AC doesn’t always work but the road remains a wonderful teacher. Cheers!

The Closet Countdown: Day 2

20130702-220937.jpgAs I reflect on the day, Slush in hand, I feel…peaceful, content, happy…

A rare cool front made a welcomed appearance in what is shaping up to be another brutal summer. Went for another walk/run. Spent a peaceful morning with my favorite man on the planet and a strong cup of coffee. I wore the same tank top from yesterday and thanks to the cool weather, I think it will make it another day. I ditched the leggings from yesterday and added an athletic skort for my slow run.

My black top (polyester/spandex blend) from yesterday went well with the skort and to prevent snags while doing various projects, I wore an old Starbucks apron. It’s a great, sturdy canvas and I choose it over my grandmother’s more delicate, pretty aprons almost every day. What a great way to preserve clothes.

On a podcast about minimalism, I heard a seasoned minimalist traveler say he would put his clothes on the shower floor to keep them fresh between washings. “Just stomp on them a bit while using soap/shampoo, give them a rinse, and hang them to dry.” I tried it about a year ago and found that my clothes did not dry very quickly. Earlier this year, I read a travel blog about how to hand wash. They said to roll the clothes in a towel and squish it. Then hang it to dry. That seemed to do the trick when I tried it and my clothes dried much faster. (please forgive me for not including links, I do not remember the sources at all)

So today, after a lot of hard work and sweat, I let my clothes take a shower with me. I’m trying to keep it simple so I just stomped, rinsed, rolled, and hung them to dry.

It’s only the second day of The Closet Countdown. The adventure in minimalism is still new and beautiful. I won’t promise that will post every day but I promise to try.

Thank you. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my words. May you find something useful for your journey.  Cheers!

Quest Recipe: Easy Adult Slush

My Simplicity Quest is about enjoying the journey. Some of my experiments in minimalism take place in the kitchen. I prefer easy recipes that require few ingredients. My Easy Adult Slush has two ingredients, tastes amazing, and takes up very little space in a cooler. A girl has got to stay hydrated while moving in the direction of her dreams…

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Quest Recipe: Easy Adult Slush
Ingredients:

  • 1 plastic resealable container of frozen juice concentrate. Any flavor. (I use Welch’s brand.)
  • Alcohol of your choice. (I use tequila)

Instructions:

  1. Make the juice in a separate pitcher according to the instructions on the container. Save the plastic container (no need to rinse it out).
  2. Fill the plastic container two thirds full with the now-made juice.
  3. Fill the rest of the container with alcohol. I love tequila so that’s an automatic choice for me but vodka would work too (or rum or whatever you like).
  4. Reseal the container with the lid and place in the freezer for at least six hours (overnight is best).
  5. When you are in the mood for a cold slushy beverage, just pull out the container and mush it with your hands or spoon. Pour into a cute glass or just drink straight out of the container.
  6. (make sure to recycle the container when it’s time to get rid of it)

Notes:

I’m not usually a huge fan of plastic but in the summer, this recipe is my favorite way to have lake-appropriate beverages on hand. I’m not a huge fan of juice either, actually. But I am a huge fan of tequila and winding down on the weekends. I share the juice and keep the containers. I love how the alcohol keeps the juice from getting rock solid and easy to slush up. Super easy and delicious!

Cheers!

 

Minimalist Closet Essentials: Merrell Emery Dress

“Look for the woman in the dress. If there is no woman, there is no dress.” – Coco Chanel

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This past Spring, Merrell introduced my second favorite dress: the Emery. I snapped one up as soon as soon as I saw it. While my Lily Sleeveless Dress is not as suitable for work, the Emery dress is. My old commute was almost two hours long and I spent a large part of my day indoors. That job actually gave me many opportunities to experiment with my wardrobe. I wanted to see if I could come up with something that would be suitable for both a meeting and a walk in the park. The Emery does that with understated sophistication and comfort.

It looks great with simple, black pumps or flats or another one of my favorites: my Merrell Tetra Launch Boots (keep an eye out for a post about those babies). When the stress of my job started to creep in on me, I would go to my car, grab my casual shoes, and head out to the surrounding area to just walk and clear my head. The Emery is made of a moisture-wicking material so I stayed cool and dry.

The top part fits like a cute, capped sleeved shirt and then the hem falls down almost to my knees in a flowy-ish A-line. Flattering without being too huggy and easy to move in. I would hike mountains in this dress. Might have to try that someday. 🙂

It’s another go-to item for work, play, and travel for the following reasons:

  • Flattering cut/style
  • Comfortable
  • Coordinates well with other articles of clothing
  • Easy to accessorize
  • Moisture-wicking material
  • Wrinkle resistant
  • Easy to spot clean
  • Dries quickly
  • Looks great alone or with leggings
  • Opaque material (no need to wear a slip)
  • Versatile style
  • Wearable in all seasons
  • Durable
  • Excellent for travel

As always, thanks for your time. I promise to post more pictures of this dress and the different ways to wear it. While I’m a little conflicted about other items, the Emery is definitely one of the “chosen” for The Closet Countdown. Cheers!

If you’d like to see other pictures, you can check out the Merrell website and Zappos. I think Zappos has better pictures and better reviews.

Please read my Merrell disclaimer here.

Mini Minimalism Experiment: Three Days. One Dress.

“The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize.” – Clariee Belcher in Steel Magnolias

I’m an amateur minimalist. Budding. Growing. By no sense of the word have I achieved “minimalism”. Like most things in my life, I tinker. I experiment. I learn. I play. And I choose to love every single second of it (I’ve inherited my mother’s unfailing sense of optimistic adventure and I refuse to change that about myself). I cannot tell you how to clean out your garage or what you should keep on (or remove from) your kitchen counter. But I do know clothes…

When I say “I know clothes” I do not mean in a Carrie Bradshaw kind of way. I know clothes that are perfect for everyday adventures. Most of my clothing coordinates with almost everything else in my closet and can easily go from work to play. I know because I’ve tested them.  As you may have guessed from my previous posts, my favorite brand is Merrell (yes, they make hiking shoes but they make oh so much more). I’m sure you won’t see my favorite little black dresses on the runway…um…ever. But you might see them on travel-savvy folks who can appreciate the utility and versatility of what they offer.

My closet is my favorite place to “play minimalist”. I’m proud to say I have given away trash bags full of clothes. I still have a long way to go but I’m happy with where I am for now on my simplicity quest. On a recent trip to a convention, I decided to see if I could wear the same dress three days in a row. The main reason for this is because I wanted to prove to myself that I really can pack lighter. I struggle with over-packing so this felt like a bit of a risk for me.

Here’s my experiment in a nutshell: In my attempts to pack light, my goal is to wear my Merell Lily Sleeveless Dress every day. I packed my swimsuit and lounge clothes but the center stage of my wardrobe will be my Lily.

Mini Minimalism Experiment: Three Days. One Dress.

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Basic Breakdown:
Who: Me (Ginny)
What: Mini Minimalist Experiment: Three Days. One Dress
When: Friday – Sunday
Where: on the road, in a hotel, on the road again
Why: To experiment with packing lighter and figure out new, creative ways to wear one of my favorite dresses.
How: Wear one dress for three days.
My Hypothesis: I won’t like it that much but I’ll be glad I tried it.
I know I like challenging myself so that part will be fun. I will have to fight that part of me that wonders what people think about me and what I wear (“Um…wasn’t she wearing that dress yesterday?”). It is a small voice but it’s there. Shallow, I know. But if I’m going to do this minimalism thing and really embrace a life of simplicity, I must be honest with myself. If I can’t do that, this is a waste of time and I should just pack my suitcase to the gills and then go shopping. 🙂

Of course, I chose my Merrell Lily Sleeveless Dress for this fun, summer project.

Other items in my bag:
Black Leggings
Black tank top with shelf bra
Socks and underwear
(and a few toiletries)

First day:
Lily Dress
Blue overdress (can also be worn as a lounge/sleep dress/top with leggings)
Light, striped accent scarf
Second Day:
Lily Dress
Sarong worn as a long vest.
Third Day:
Lily Dress
Brown Shrug.

What I Learned: The main thing I discovered was that I loved it. Loved wearing one of my favorite dresses every day. By the third day, I felt slightly grungy but it could have been worse. I survived. No one gave me strange looks nor made any rude comments. Good thing I’m not the center of the universe. Otherwise they might have noticed… ;). I learned that I love my little blue overdress even more because I was able to wear it as a swimsuit cover up. Such a versatile little piece. Oh how I love versatility. I find such freedom in that word alone.

Well, there you have it folks! I encourage anyone on the road to minimalism to play with little experiments like this. Challenge yourself. Figure out what you can live with and what you can’t live without. The point is that the process should be fun and make you feel better about life, not deprived. Good journey, my friends. Cheers!