Thursday, December 17, 2020

Birthday Trip

 Every year at this time I begin planning my birthday trip.  It is the perfect time for a getaway and a special way for me to celebrate the occasion.  The tradition began many, many years ago when I decided to go to Mexico for my birthday.

It was the first trip I had ever taken out of the country and what a grand adventure that was.  I spoke very little Spanish, I did not know or understand customs, foreign currency exchange or very much about getting around in a strange place.  I was terrified and exhilarated all at the same time.

I began by purchasing a holiday package that included most of my arrangements and that helped a great deal.  I found when I arrived that although most of the basics were covered, I still had to manage quite a bit on my own.  What I discovered was that it was so much fun and easier than I expected.  

I met so many wonderful people both locals and other tourists, ate incredible food, had fantastic excursions and even had a little holiday romance, it was truly enchanting.  

Ever since then it has been an annual event and even though this year may be a bit different, I can't wait to see what fantastic journey awaits!
 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Suitcase Closet Clearing - How to Organize Your Closet

No matter how often I clean out my closet, I always seem to accumulate more clothes than I ever need.  Some old, some new and most that I know I will never wear again.

I have tried so many different techniques – trash or treasure, what I haven’t worn in 6 months and even turning the hangers in the opposite direction, all with no luck. 

There have been several times when I have moved out of state and even out of the country for up to a year at a time.  During these trips I stay in hotels, B&Bs, holiday homes etc., all with very little to no storage.  What I discovered is that, even for my longest trips, I didn’t need much more than what my largest suitcase would hold.

When I pack to go away, I usually take the same basic items and only what is absolutely necessary.  I do like to be comfortable and flexible for the conditions so I always take that into account. 

If I think about clearing out my closet in the same way as I think about packing for a trip, it should help with some of those iffy items that I always end up keeping instead of getting rid of.

Part of this will require severing the emotional attachment I have to so many items.  I love the pattern or how I looked or what I was doing when I last wore it, are my typical excuses for keeping something that no longer suits me.  

I used to try to pack away seasonal items as the weather changed, but I live in Colorado and we can have 90-degree temperatures one day and snow the next, so it’s not practical.  I need a year-round wardrobe that I can keep ready anytime for home or away.

Aside from actual clothing items, I have amassed a tremendous collection of shoes and undergarments that rarely if ever get used.  Packing is a great way to minimize those things as well.  I wouldn’t think of taking 15 camisoles when I need one or two.

I always begin my packing process by planning my itinerary – where will I be going, what are the weather conditions and what activities will I be doing.  For me, that usually involves a variety of situations – wet, dry, hot, cold, work, dinners, dances, dates, casual loungewear and outdoor activities. 

Next, I pull out the main items that I think I will want to wear for each of the scenarios.  Then I begin grouping by color and separate the tops from the bottoms, making sure all items in a color group match each other.  I usually stick to solid colors for bottoms (black, blue, brown) and add 3 - 4 print tops that go with each color bottom.

Then I add the shoes, sweaters, scarves, jackets and accessories for each group of outfits.  Looking at this all laid out really helps me to see what I have and how they go together. 

The last step is to pack it in my suitcase.  Depending on how far you want to take this, you might decide to use several suitcases or containers for what you are keeping.  I'm now using packing cubes as additional easy storage for those items I don't use very often but want to keep.

So, there it is, my new suitcase closet organizing system.  I’m getting started on it right away and see just how low I can go and free up my time and space from all of this physical and emotional clutter. 

Is decluttering and organizing a pleasure or a pain for you?  What methods have you used that work well for you?  I would love to hear your comments and whatever tips and tricks you may have to share with others.

Published on SixtyandMe.com


Monday, November 9, 2020

Amazing Journey

 Now that travel has been suspended for the time being, it gives me time to reflect on all of the trips that I've taken, or perhaps, all the trips that have taken me.

It began when I was just a girl, taking the train or bus to see my family in another state.  I was mesmerized by the simplest things along the way.  It was all so new and interesting and more than a little terrifying.  I suppose those were the feelings that sparked my intense love of travel.

Growing up, my brother and I would explore abandoned buildings and old rail yards.  Playing make believe games and pretending we were living some extraordinary lives.  I particularly loved the trains and imagined the wonderful places they would go.

Later, I spent time visiting beautiful locations near my home.  My world was beginning to expand.  I realized that even a short distance could make me feel as though I was very far away.

My first time out of the country was during a family trip to California.  We drove across the border into Mexico.  It was the most incredible experience of my life.  I was captivated by every sight, smell and sound.  I knew then that I wanted to see more. 

Now, 50 years later I think of all of the countries, cities, towns and villages that I have had the great fortune to see.  All of the wonderful adventures I’ve had and how each and every one has touched my heart and changed the way I look at the world.

So for me, this isn’t a time of no travel but a fantastic opportunity to relive this amazing journey.


Friday, May 1, 2020

What I Learn from Travel

It is so amazing to me that no matter where I go, near or far, I learn something new every time I step outside of my door.  I used to think that I had to go far away to have a great experience and now I realize that it can happen in my own neighborhood as easily as on the other side of the world.

What is important for me is to stay open to my surroundings.  When I'm out and about, I make a point of not burying myself in a book or my phone.  I like to look around and notice the little things that are going on and always love to chat with people I meet along the way.

In many ways I feel like a child, full of wonder and awe and I am so grateful for each and every lesson on this incredible journey.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Precious Pennies From Heaven

This week was my mother's birthday.   She would have been 97 years old and I'm sure she would have been incredible at that age.

When I was growing up she always taught me to trust in the universe. She would say "you will get pennies from heaven, just when you need them".

After she passed away, I started seeing pennies everywhere. There were always 2, even when something cost 99 cents, I would receive 2 pennies change.

I always felt like she was close to me in those moments and that it was her way of saying hello.  

Today, as I was moving out of my apartment, I was checking to make sure I didn't leave anything behind and what did I find but 2 pennies.  They were at the very back of an unused shelf and instantly I knew mom was with me.

What a beautiful and loving reminder of a lesson so long ago.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Little Things Make a Big Difference

Years ago, I had a wonderful conversation with a man on a flight to Europe.  We started talking about where we were going and of course as you talk with fellow travelers the discussion almost always turns to where you have been and what you have encountered along the way.

The experience doesn't have to be extreme for you to develop an overall impression of the place you are visiting.  It reminds me of the old adage - you only get one chance to make a good first impression.  That is certainly true for the international travel and hospitality industry. 

This man had traveled from Germany to the US to give a lecture at a medical conference that was being held at the hotel where he was staying.  After arriving very late at night from his international flight he called room service to have a beer delivered to his room and was told he would have to wait over an hour. 

After almost 2 hours and still no drink he went downstairs and collected it himself.  Just that one small request was all it took for this to be an unpleasant experience for him, so much so that he does not stay with that particular hotel brand when he travels and always shares that experience with other people he talks to. 

Anyone who travels on a regular basis knows that it is the little things that can really make a difference - for me it is having food and drink available at off hours.  There isn't anything better than arriving after a long flight and checking into my room to find 2 bottles of water with a lovely assortment of candy, nuts and sometimes even cheese and fruit.  If there is a mini bar or drinks available that is fantastic.  It really sets the tone for my trip be it business or pleasure.

While I understand and truly appreciate getting "special" treatment for being a member of loyalty programs it is even more important to see what effort you make when I am just the average paying customer.  If I can get something to drink and a snack before I go to sleep chances are I'll stay with you again and again. 

Luxurious Langoustine

Last night I watched a cooking program where the chef prepared a lovely langoustine dish.  I have only had this delicate crustacean once and it was on my trip to New Zealand.

I had taken the Coastal Pacific rail from Picton to Christchurch, the journey through the countryside and along the coast was so beautiful.  It was late when I checked into my hotel and I went downstairs for a bite to eat.  There were 2 restaurants, one casual and bustling with people.  The other, elegant with a peaceful atmosphere, that was the one for me.

As I looked over the menu, I realized that this would be beyond my meager budget but I wanted to stay so I ordered a starter and thought that would be sufficient.  I ordered the langoustine with cream sauce and a nice glass of local red wine.  I'm not sure if it was the food, the atmosphere or just the entire experience but it felt so luxurious and tasted like the best thing I had ever eaten.   

For me, that is one of the great joys of traveling.  I can savor those precious moments and relive them again and again, just like they were yesterday.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Finding the Path with a Heart

As we age, it becomes apparent that we must create new lives.  Will we change careers, begin retirement, travel, downsize or stay where we are?  What often comes with that are the fears associated with making those choices.  We begin to worry about money, our family, our health, where we should live, should we settle down or roam the world.   

When we were raising our families, those decisions seemed to be made for us - we must keep a job, take care of the children with all of the responsibility that entails.  There was very little free time and what there was usually consisted of weekends or once a year family vacation and then back to the routine.

Now, in our 60s we have to make a conscious choice about what we want in our lives.

Our work is not to make something happen but to learn how to let it reveal itself.  It is that time in our lives when we have the opportunity to allow the soft flowing of events to become clear to us and then follow the path that has the most meaning in our lives.

It can be very easy to remain in our old patterns, letting familiar circumstances drive our daily lives.  If we look more closely, we realize that we are entering a brand-new chapter and are being given a tremendous gift.  The possibility, maybe for the first time, to do something just for ourselves. 

For many of us, as this realization sinks in, we employ the same principles of how to get things done – we take action.  What is really ironic about this concept, is that the harder we try to make anything happen the less likely it is to turn out in a way that is pleasing to us.

If we can learn to let go we will discover things that we never thought possible.

Letting go is much easier said than done.  We are taught our entire lives that we must work and struggle in order to get things accomplished.  That hard work is the only way to achieve the results we desire.  Always trying to control external circumstances is exhausting and in the end never really possible.  We cannot control anything outside of our own self so that is where the work must be done.

That is why so many spiritual teachers advocate practices like Meditation, Mindfulness, Yoga, Prayer and Journaling.  Anything that allows our conscious mind to relax and release resistance will provide benefits in all areas of our lives.  Just like any other skill, we must learn to develop techniques that work for us.  This is not a one-size fits all solution so we must do what feels right for us personally.

It doesn’t matter where you start, you just have to begin.

Like everything else, it is very easy to approach this as something else to manage or control.  Trying to unlearn that is the most difficult thing I will ever do in my life.  Even now, after many years of practicing many aspects of letting go or allowing, I find myself slipping back into my old habits.  It is important for me to do something each day, even for just a few minutes, to reclaim my balance and continue forward. 

What works best for me is to keep it simple and find those things that bring me joy.  Sometimes it is writing in my journal or going for a walk.  Other days it is playing with my grandchildren or planning a trip to some faraway place.  It really doesn’t matter what it is, all that matters is that you find ways to release the anxiety and tension so that you can learn to experience the peace that comes from just being in the world.

With that peace comes an unfolding of events that we never could have planned.  Bringing to us those very things we thought we had to chase after.  It is ultimately more satisfying to have everything we desire come to us in the perfect way and at the perfect time than to try to manipulate or coerce it.

For me, appreciation is a key factor in everything I do.  I am grateful for what I already have in my life and look forward to whatever new surprise is on the horizon.  I always trust that something wonderful is about to happen and my only job is to relax and enjoy it.