One of the lessons I’ve learned through my life has been brought home as I’ve walked my Caminos: Simplify. While I think it’s a great lesson to learn and practice any time of year, this holiday season seems particularly appropriate to put it into play.

Simplify is a good practice while traveling so you can travel light and fast, avoid checked baggage with its fees and potential for lost luggage, and have less to keep track of. My first solo trip as a young adult was a train trip to San Francisco. My week’s worth of clothes fit into a small backpack, the one I used for my books. It was a great trip and I loved not having a big bag to wrestle with at my seat or on and off the train. Mixing and matching my clothes was fun and easy — and effectively gave me a different outfit each day of my trip.

Ten years later, as I was preparing for my first 2-week-long international trip, I remembered how efficient my mix-and-match wardrobe had been. I took a 3-piece navy, wool suit (skirt, pants, jacket), gray wool pants, and two blouses that went with the color scheme. Add to that a second pair of shoes and raincoat with liner, and I was set! It fit well into a small backpack and I was appropriately dressed for every activity I planned. What a happy traveler I was!

That’s been my mode for travel ever since, though I have to laugh that when I go by car I can overpack. Oh well. Being human can be entertaining.

Simplify applies to more than clothes and travel, though. Every so often I see a challenge that I take up, like Five in Five. That’s a challenge to get rid of five things a day for five days. My competitive nature kicks in and I’ll do Ten in Ten, or get rid of ten things in ten days. My closets, the kitchen entertainment cupboards, and even furniture have all been subjected to these challenges through the years.

The breath of fresh air that filled the house after such challenges was palpable. And then I moved my folks from their 3100 square foot home into their new 1200 square foot retirement apartment. They’d been in that house for 41 years, and Mom was a packrat. It was looking a lot like that at my home, so I culled even more furniture and clothes to put in their estate sale. Whew! Now my rule, one I mostly follow, is that I don’t buy an item until I get rid of another. For example, I won’t buy a new pair of shoes without getting rid of some old shoes. Occasionally I might fudge — or modify my rule — and get rid of a coat or purse instead, but for everything that comes in something goes out.

I was grateful for that simple way of packing, traveling, and living as I prepared for my first Camino. But you know, stuff isn’t the only place simplifying is valuable, though that’s an obvious application. Your time commitments and your work schedule are other areas of your life that benefit from simplifying. Yes, I see time commitments as separate from work schedules.

Let me summarize the concept this way: plan to spend time with the people who matter, doing the things that matter. Have enough open time in your day that you can “stop to smell the roses” and to enjoy sunrises or sunsets. Oh, go wild! Enjoy both sunrises and sunsets!!

In our culture of “More”, we put too much on our proverbial plates (we’ll talk about our dining plates and how they get piled high, too, another time). Don’t you think it’s time to take back your life? Focus your attention on what’s really important — both at home and at work.

Focus on your goal and priorities is a great technique to help you simplify.

2 thoughts on “Simplify”

  1. I have so tired of snapping photos of everything! I have stopped. Mostly. I wonder about the treasure troves of photos we are passing down to our children. I am certain they are destined to become another burden. I’m the type of person who rarely goes back and looks at what I have snapped. I like to look forward, not back. My children are grown so I’m not trying to capture every nuance of their growing up. I remind myself to stay present and in the moment and skip the photo. I would love to hear your take on the ever present camera, resulting photos and the peace that comes from simplifying.

    • Linda Jean, you just touched on one of my buttons. Good work! 😀

      My ex-husband was a photographer who lived behind his lens. His view of our experiences was “tunnel vision”. I learned from his experience that too much photography is limiting.

      Like you, I don’t go back and look at photos — at least not much. My photo research is for the purpose of coming up with “eye candy” for talks I give. You never have to worry about me showing you all of my photos from a trip. 😉 Because I don’t go back and look, most of the photos I take are to document specific moments along the way and to try to capture that elusive mountain shot or sunrise/sunset. And most of this documentation is for my Transformation Travel business — so clients on the trips get extra photo memories and so future clients can start to get excited about their trip with me.

      I *love* your attitude of staying present when you are with your kids — or doing anything. The memory may not be perfect, but it sure captures the essence of the moment in ways cameras can’t.

      That ever-present-selfie? Hahahahaha! I am not good at those at all. Maybe it takes practice. It’s not that interesting to me, though.

      Your bent on simplifying your life without burdening yourself with photos is my style. Yes, it is more peaceful for me too.

      Thanks for connecting on this.


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