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June’s Wisdom Gathering Morsels

Cover of "My Side of the Mountain Trilogy...

Cover via Amazon

Fun Thing Of The Month: Reading, running, yoga. Nice relaxing month full of goodness. Trying to achieve balance is quite a task but it’s fun so  long as nothing else gets in the way.

Lessons I Learned: Running the 5K went really well. I surprised myself simply by finishing. Baby steps add up to a whole lot after some time goes by…

Books I Read:

  1. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
  2. The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner
  3. Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck
  4. Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo
  5. My Side of the Mountain trilogy by Jean Craighead George
  6. Robopocalypse by Daniel Wilson
  7. 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America by Albert Brooks

Movies I Watched:

  1. Dreamcatcher
  2. Powder Blue
  3. Black Death
  4. Red Riding Hood

Goals for June:

  1. Plan vacation for July. All ready to go!
  2. Do 5K walk or run for cancer. Finished the race in under 45 minutes! Major for me!
  3. Go swimming at least once. (Gotta find time to play in the pool!)
  4. Get haircut.
  5. Prepare for True Blood season return. YAYYYY!! So happy to have my own guilty addiction back in order.
Goals for July:
  1. Go to Yosemite with my brother
  2. Go swimming
  3. Get a haircut
  4. Make a plan for the rest of summer.
  5. Move everything into one storage unit.
*new* Health:
  • 7 hours spent exercising
  • 18 miles running
  • And I completed my first ever 5K run (and any race at all for that matter)!! It was exciting.

Thanks for stopping by this month!

Value Pack Your Vacation: Tips For Keeping Your Memories Clutter Free

A scrapbook page featuring a photograph taken ...
Image via Wikipedia

While being here in the Seattle area I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about sentimentality and memories.

I love to document. That is one of the few unwavering qualities I have kept throughout my entire lifespan.

I photograph, write, hoard keepsakes, record, draw, compile, etc!

However this can cause several clutter related issues, mentally and physically.

  1. Every scrap of paper becomes important and it takes up space.
  2. You constantly worry about losing these “things” from your trip.
  3. Over-spending seems rational at the time.
  4. You become wrapped up in the past moments (of time/significance/value).
  5. Being mindful, alert, awake, and conscience becomes an uphill battle.

For example, I’ve been keeping my ferry ride receipts thinking, “Hey now I’ll have all the exact times and dates that I rode the ferry each day!” For some reason “late afternoon” is no where near as valuable as the “3:36 pm” stamped on my reciept. What? Why?

Analyzing the logic behind this reveals the mistake in my thoughts. Do dates, times, accuracy, amounts, digits (or anything that can be quantified) really have more value than being ready for whatever the current moment is holding for you? Is it worth missing out on all the great unexpected things that happen in strange places?  This logic leaves regret and clutter waiting for you the moment you set down your bags at home. You’ll accumulate useless items, forget how you were feeling/thinking/sensing and you’ll waste time and money.

I still have a shopping bag full of unused postcards, books, brochures and receipts from a trip I took several years ago to San Francisco. It’s taking up space and making me feel guilty for not “doing something” with it. Sometimes we rationalize “Hey, this will be great for that scrapbook I’m going to make someday!” Yet, I’ve never made a scrapbook in my life, and I’m much more fond of digital organizing anyways.

1. Unless you are a die-hard scrapbooker, the paper is just junk.

Take a photograph of it, or better yet, find the spot on the front of that postcard and photograph yourself right there! Taking pictures is simple, easy, affordable and accessible to everyone these days; why do we still buy postcards with other people’s photos on them? However, there may still be things you need to keep for records or have an actual use for back home, if this is the case…

2. Dedicate a finite amount of space for travel trinkets and papers to bring home.

Be diligent amount what goes in and what doesn’t! Consider it a sacred space (folder, box, envelope, whatever) for only the most irreplaceable items and documents. Some people are collectors, so take that into consideration BEFORE you go on your trip. If you collect sand/dirt samples from around the world bring the jars with you and only take what you can. If you like sea shells bring a small jewelry box or trinket box for these. Press leaves from trees. For all of you sensual people (meaning the 5 senses!) Take a paper rubbing of Lenin’s headstone, or Micheal Jackson’s Hollywood Star. Rub a flower on a postcard you’re sending home (like a scratch-n-sniff). And of course, copy down that recipe for traditional sourdough bread to replicate at home. Then…

3. Store as much digitally as you can.

Easier to retrieve later. Less delicate. Longer lasting (keep backups regularly). Takes up almost no space at all! Really, digitize as much as possible. The zoo map you think you need to reference at some point can be scanned or usually something similar could be found online. But I’ll save the best tip for last…

4. Document as you go, and then forget about it!

Take a picture and then REALLY take it in. Use all of your senses here. Be present. You are in a brand new place and you can define your experience there any way you want. You can get in and out rushing to take all the snapshots to prove you were there and convince everyone how awesome it was OR you could actually just be there and feel amazing the whole time. These days, when you send an email you have a copy archived for a lifetime if you need to reference it. Your photos practically organize themselves by date or location. And with GPS and geo-tagging you can lookup the name of that awesome beach you surfed at later. Enjoy now; your friends will be jealous no matter how well or poorly documented your trip was. (They’ll be dying for your tan/shoes/massage/haircut/whatever long after you stop talking about the trip.)

Category: Travel  Tags: , , ,  2 Comments

All That I Have – Or, My Version Of Decluttered "Suitcase" Living

I’m still miles away from the lists of these simple travel gurus, but I’m chugging along.

This is my own list of items I’m currently living with. This is everything! The rest is in storage and only appropriate for someone with an apartment to furnish. It may look like a lot to you, but simplicity is different for everyone. Example: my 9 nail polishes is WAY simple for me; I usually have 40+ to choose from whenever I feel like it. That being said, I packed my clothing last minute and didn’t pay much attention, so things got a bit out of proportion in that department. I’m proud of where I am and feel I am getting more use out of each object because of the simplicity and lack of choice-paralysis I usually encounter.


  • toothbrush/toothpaste
  • hairbrush
  • lotion
  • OTC medicine kit
  • prescription medications
  • Q-Tips
  • shaving cream/razor
  • hair ties & accessories
  • Kleenex
  • 3 types of perfume
  • Chi hair oil
  • BioSilk
  • hair straightener
  • deodorant
  • basic kit (tweezers, scissors, mirror, chapstick, nail file, Rx lotions, nail clippers, cuticle butter, calming mask, spare nail file)
  • bag of cotton balls
  • nail polish remover
  • 9 nail polishes
  • makeup remover

= 29 items


  • Watercolor kit
  • 2 journals
  • a gazillion books (oops, not counted)
  • sketching kit
  • guide books & maps
  • GPS
  • cellphone
  • 1 teddy bear (yeah!)
  • MacBook Pro
  • Panasonic digital camera
  • water bottle
  • fleece blanket
  • external hard drive
  • projection clock (love it!)
  • noise cancelling headphones
  • 3 spot surge protector
  • computer mouse
  • 2 Netflix movies
  • 2 tripods (one is for irregular surfaces)
  • 1 small jewelry case
  • 1 backpack

= 23 (plus chargers and books left uncounted) items


  • 1 pair flats
  • 1 pair sandals
  • 1 pair boots
  • 1 pair sneakers
  • 1 pair of Keen sandal/walking shoes
  • 1 pair cargo pants
  • 1 wind/rain jacket
  • 1 pink skirt
  • 2 hip-Ts (genius BTW)
  • 4 pairs of jeans
  • 1 hoodie
  • 6 sweater/cardigans
  • underthings
  • 2 belts
  • 3 purses
  • 1 pair of lounge pants
  • 12 shirts
  • 1 dress/coverup
  • 1 swimsuit
  • 1 pair of leggings

= 42 items (underthings not included)

In my day bag/purse

  • 2 lip products
  • sunglasses
  • wallet
  • cases for GPS and camera
  • keys
  • tampons
  • 1 granola bar
  • gum
  • 1 chupa chup lollipop
  • 1 pen
  • card holder

= 13 items

Daisy Stuff

  • 1 food bowl/ 1 water bowl
  • container for food
  • box of training pads
  • brush
  • bags of treats
  • harness & leash
  • spare poo bags
  • special car blanket
  • monthly Heartguard supply
  • sweater she will never wear
  • toys she never plays with
  • moist wipes to keep her clean
  • carrying bag (just in case)
  • extra leash (the extendo kind the rolls up on its own)

= 16 items

Mistakes (not counted, as if I could!)

  • the amount of cosmetics I brought. I cannot even list to you the magnitude of what I own (2 train cases plus 2 bags of brushes plus 1 smaller bag)
  • should have tried on ALL the pairs of jeans I brought… (one pair does not even fit, what a waste of space!)
  • memory card reader/storage hard drive – turns out it’s not compatible with my Eye-Fi memory card
  • travel sheets (turns out they’re not comfy or smooth) – I will try to wash them a few times to increase softness

Misc. (not counted)

  • I brought granola bars with me and bought food along the way
  • dog gate I never used (nowhere to set it up)
  • my shampoo exploded in transit so I’m just using the stuff this B&B has provided
  • SHOULD HAVE BROUGHT: sticky roller, small amount of allergen free detergent & new bottle of Nasacort (my allergies are driving me crazy!)
  • considering buying an air purifier because I cannot pinpoint my allergies here


That’s an estimated 123 items, not including the junk to tedious to count.

From going to suitcase living straight from a large two-bedroom apartment I’d say I did pretty well. And I’m always keeping more than I need to for Daisy because I never want her to be without something she needs at a moments notice. For the next reduction I will work on clothing (mainly tops), books, and my toiletries.

In counting up my posessions I was a bit nervous about how it would turn out. However, I feel really good about the amount of stuff I left back home. As far as technology goes this is the simplest system I’ve ever had, one cellphone, one computer for everything, and one camera (with no accessories either)! I’ve always kept a ton of gadgets around me but this is working out really well. I still feel very connected and I don’t feel like I’m missing a single thing.

The whole point is to find the place of enough.

And I’m much closer to enough than I ever have been in my entire life. It’s more rewarding than it is difficult, but I do struggle with the urge to shop often.

If you had to itemize an area of your life, which would you least want to do? … Purge!

6 Best Travel Gear Posts Around

Travel gear
Image by Kenn Wilson via Flickr

I’m not 100% sure why I find “gear lists” so fascinating, but it probably has something to do with the similar “whats in your bag ” phenomenon on Flickr. Here are some of my favorites…

Go Backpacking: Packing List

Never Ending Voyage: What Do You Pack When You Are Leaving Forever

Ridiculously Extraordinary: How To Pack Ultra Light

Matador Goods: Packing and the Mantra of Minimalism

Live Uncomfortably: Travel Through Life Light

Chrissyfer: Packing List 12 Day Trip

Plus Two Bonus Before-You-Leave Posts!

Airtreks: 101 Things To Do Before Your Trip

One Bag: To-Do List

Oh boy I have a lot of paring down I need to do before I can get away with TWO suitcases!

Category: NiToBloMo, Travel  Tags: ,  3 Comments

My Happy Life Toolkit – 7 Online Tools

Various office equipment
Image via Wikipedia

This is a list of 7 online tools I use every week (if not more often) to maintain my happiness and sanity. Some keep me organized- allowing a clear, focused mindset; others serve as reminders- prodding me to continue with what’s working and be mindful along the way.

www.optimismonline.com – This is a straightforward application for anyone looking to track their mood, sleep quality, exercise, and stress/unhappy triggers in life. There is also a great tool where you get to check off which “coping techniques” I made use of on that day. It always serves to remind me that happiness is within my reach and the resources are always there, I just need to make better use of them. I pay for the online app but there is also a desktop and iPhone app available.

www.joesgoals.com – A brilliant tool I found to keep track of goals. I use mine for daily goals (or things I would really like to achieve daily) as well as a one sentence daily gratitude journal. You can also add weekly goals, or however often you need. It keeps a record of your consistency and reminds you of what you’re trying to achieve. I highly recommend it for it’s complete simplicity!

www.mypassiontestonline.com – First I read the book. Then I signed up for the online tool. I created my profile, updated my passions, elaborated on them all and followed through on several fun exercises. Once discovering my top 5 passions I feel more focused every day. If I can only achieve one thing in a day I strive for it to be aligned with one of my passions. Leading a passion filled life is a happy life.

www.goodreads.com – An online community based around books. I get to record, review, and track my progress with my books. It creates a feeling of order to my sometimes wild stacks of books surrounding my nightstand. It’s also great to keep track of how far along you are and how many books you’ve already read.

www.mint.com – Just a few days ago Quicken decided they were giving up on their online financial monitoring service in favor of Mint. They did not support a smooth transition and I had to re-enter all of my login data, in addition losing all of my 2010 financial history/trends. A bummer indeed. But I find a financial organizer is completely vital to my peace of mind. I hate balancing check books and rarely make undocumented purchases, so it’s easy to keep track of all my pennies. I’m in control, I can set budgets, get alerts, plan goals… it’s great and I actually like Mint more than Quicken now.

www.evernote.com – This one provides me with organization, less clutter and thus a peaceful state of mind. Any stray pieces of informational paper clutter get organized here, as well as any blog posts I don’t have the energy to read right away. Business cards and numbers are in a central location and I always have a backup to rely on if I’m away from home. Compatible with my phone I can take a snapshot of anything I want to remember. Keeping my mental RAM free for use on more important things.

www.happinessprojecttoolbox.com – How could I not add this?! It’s a bunch of happiness producing tools all wrapped up into one great community toolbox. I mostly like to get inspiration from this website, but it does provide a great arsenal for any aspiring happy person. Journals, goals, etc… it’s all there. Check it out!

Note: None of these links are promoted or affiliated links. I do not make any money by suggesting these tools. This is just my unbiased list of great resources! And I’m sure I’ve missed a few so feel free to add them in the comments.

So what do you find yourself returning to time and time again to keep your sanity and happiness in tact? What simple tools help you stay focused?