Making time and nature a priority

My family and I have recently returned from a glorious 2-week camping vacation in Glacier National Park (http://www.nps.gov/glac/index.htm). If you have not visited, it is one to add to your bucket list.

I am desperately clinging to the feeling of hiking in the park, with no worries beyond what we had in our daypacks for lunch. But why do I need this feeling of space, of release, so badly in my daily life? How is it that I have allowed my life to become so cluttered up with activities and stress that I must constantly seek relief from it all?

Courtney Carver of Be More With Less has this to say on the subject: http://bemorewithless.com/7-ways-to-prevent-the-need-to-unwind/.

So I am asking myself: what can I let go of? How can I simplify my life further in order to allow for the spaciousness I am craving?

This will be a work in progress.

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My purchases so far this year

Since I pledged not to buy anything new this year unless it was absolutely essential, I have been keeping track of all of the stuff that made the cut here: https://livetobe100.wordpress.com/2014-purchases/. On the one hand, I look at the list and feel very proud that I have severely limited the amount of “stuff” coming into my life this year. In particular, the things that I have purchased are either replacement items or they are quality items that have added value to my home and life. But on the other hand (yes, there is always that “other” hand!), I still think I could buy so much less.

Through living with less and only purchasing items that are truly necessary, I am learning to set high standards for the stuff I choose to own. I feel like I am getting to a place where I choose my stuff, rather than my stuff choosing me. For example, I have pared down most of the ill-fitting or ill-suited clothes that used to cram my closet. These days, no matter what I wear or how quickly I get dressed, I am happy with my appearance. Gone are the pants with the saggy fanny, the shirts that gap at the chest, and the skirts that bind!

I have also noticed that I am spending much less time shopping. Which is fantastic because, honestly, I hate shopping. I have always hated shopping, which I used to feel guilty about admitting. I mean, what American woman does not like to shop, after all? Well, THIS one! I am learning to identify “needs” from “wants.” Even I used to hear the siren song of the sale rack of cute dresses at the mall and the lure of the “25% off” online sale. I can’t tell you how freeing it is to walk into my favorite big-box store and purchase only the 2 items that were on my list – no more losing track of time wandering the aisles gazing at all of the stuff I just don’t need! Likewise with the time I spend online (how refreshing to not waste time browsing online retailers and instead work on high-priority tasks on my list).

One more bonus in my “win” column: I am throwing away or donating my unwanted stuff like crazy! For each new item I bring into my life, I am getting rid of 3-4 things on average. Plus, it is getting much, much easier to get rid of the old stuff. I can’t believe I have been filling my life with so much junk all of these years. I guess it’s never too late to learn how to embrace simplicity.

Minimalist wardrobe revisited

Aahhh, the beginning of April! Time for spring and time to refresh my closet with my April-June “capsule” wardrobe (go to http://theproject333.com/ for more information).

What I learned in my first round of The Project 333 is that I actually need two capsule wardrobes – one suitable for a professional office and one for home. My clothes for these two purposes are vastly different, and I’ve found there is no way to mash all of them into one 33-item list. For example, I have 2 ball caps which I wear all the time around home (why two? one is for yard work – blech – and the other one is for everything else), and there is no way these ball caps could be re-purposed for work. This is not to say that my clothes for home are sloppy or not presentable; on the contrary, most of them are perfectly fine for buzzing around town doing errands. Yet they are not appropriate for work, so there can be very little overlap between the two wardrobes.

boy in hat crop

Living with far fewer clothes has been a wonderful change in my life, helping me to simplify my daily routines and consistently wear clothes that are more flattering. But almost every day, I need to get dressed twice: once when I leave for work in the morning and again when I change my clothes after work. While I would dearly love to have the kind of job where I can wear jeans and a t-shirt every day, I can’t see that happening any time in the near future. For the time being, I am going to continue to allow myself to have two separate wardrobes.

On my journey to Live to Be 100, I’m going to be realistic about my life and as kind as possible to myself. What about you?

Vending machines – a necessary evil

I travel a lot, and no matter how well I plan (making room for fresh, healthy snacks in an airplane-sized carry-on is just not always feasible), all too often I find myself facing this for my lunch:

vending

Ugh! What’s a traveler to do? I have found that the two healthiest options available from most vending machines are a bag of nuts (not sweetened) and – yes I am going to say this! – non-flavored potato chips. Seriously. The nuts are a given, even salted and roasted (as long as you are not allergic, naturally). But the chips? My explanation for this choice is that they are often the least-processed selection and only use three ingredients: potatoes, oil and salt. They wash the potatoes, peel them, slice them, fry them, put on some salt and then package them. You can argue that the oil is not good for you, but at least I know what it is. You can even argue that the sodium is too high, but I’ve done several comparisons to the other available choices, and the chips are always one of the lowest-sodium options. Surprising yet true!

Talk to me: when life hands you a vending machine, what do you choose to eat?

Feeling crummy in a hotel room

Traveling for work, feeling mildly ill, sitting in hotel room in Georgia. Ugh. Things could be worse – at least I’m not stuck at the airport in a snowstorm in the Midwest – still, being sick in a hotel room makes me feel lonely.

I had been feeling blue for the past couple of days, which I attributed to getting back on the road after several weeks of being home every night with my family. While I’m sure this transition back to traveling was part of my problem, it seems that I was feeling blue most likely because I was getting sick. I have been battling a mild case of something which feels like the flu on and off for a couple of weeks now, not quite completely recovering or feeling like myself, really.

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be able to read the signals my body is sending me properly. I knew the headache I had was more than a regular headache, but did I treat it like that? No way! I was too busy in class, working, studying, and prepping for my trip. Actually, maybe my problem is that I know what is going on, I just don’t listen or heed my own instincts.

To tell the truth, since I gave up dairy 18 months ago, I don’t get sick much any more. I used to get migraines on a fairly regular basis, but those have stopped completely, thank goodness! I don’t get many colds now, and I rarely get the many and varied illnesses my kids bring home from school. I am still subject to regular old stress headaches and my tender stomach bothers me yet, but even those have become much more moderate. Overall, my health has improved noticeably since I gave up dairy!

I’d like to hear from you! What do you do when you get sick when you travel? What lifestyle changes have you made that have improved your overall health and well-being? Leave a comment and let me know how you are working to improve the quality of YOUR life!