Pre-Road Trip Chaos

I made the declaration to myself and others that I was leaving for my road trip (my journey, my walkabout, my adventure) on December 8th.

And since I’ve decide thus, I haven’t had enough time to think through every possible thing I need to do before I leave.

I’ve ordered a second pair of glasses because I just don’t think it’s wise to travel so far without backup glasses. They aren’t in yet and there are 4 full days till I leave. Trust.

I haven’t begun to pack yet.

On Saturday last, I organized a Celebration of Life for a beloved teacher who passed away a few months ago. Not that I had time to throw that into the mix but it was something I really wanted to do. I loved the man and he was influential to so many, I knew it was important for more than just me. Many people stepped up to help make the day a reality and it was successful and uplifting. Being so close to my departure date made it a little hectic, but so it goes, eh?

On Monday last I was pressed into speaking at the New Haven MoMondays event by my friend Rich DiGirolamo who runs the event. I’d told him my plans and he said – “How perfect! You must come speak! What you are doing is inspiring!” So I threw that into the mix too.

Tonight was the last meeting of my local Toastmasters group before I leave so I signed up to give a speech there too. It was important to me to let everyone know what I’m doing since I’m one of the officers and they’ll be without me for a few months.

There are dinners with friends I want to have. Some I’ve fit in already and some I can’t imagine how I’ll fit in in the remaining four dinners I have left in CT.

Tonight after the meeting I dropped my car at the shop to get the tires rotated, the oil and transmission fluid changed, the spark plugs and various air cleaners and filters replaced. I feel grateful that I have the money to do this before my excursion, but I barely have the time. I won’t have a car tomorrow, yet somehow I need to get to work for a few hours as I’m training my replacement.

Yesterday I trained said replacement all day then had to run off to another client’s house to help with the finalizing of a grant proposal that was due yesterday. That was a last minute call for help, but I could not say no. There is more official work that needs doing before I leave. When will I pack?

What goes where in the car? What will I have to admit at the last minute that I cannot fit?

My digital life is a mess and I’ve yet to download all the appropriate clients to all the necessary devices so that I can access what I need and have everything talk to each other. Hell, I haven’t yet decided exactly which cloud storage company to go with, let alone started uploading what I might need from my desktop computer. I’m gonna have to spend some time with lifehacker.com to make that decision.

The people who will be living in my house while I’m away will need to be told every little detail and quirk about winter in this house. We’ve yet to set up an exact time to do that. Four days left.

And if this post seems a little chaotic, imagine the reality…

I have a sign in my office that reads – “Start Before You Are Ready”

Start-Before

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What Not To Wear

What’s in your closet? Do you even know?

I’m trying to get a handle on the process I went through – after the fact.

Having determined that I was weighed down by entirely too much of everything I set about to remedy this. I took the first step with books. At around the same time I took steps in the clothing department – an area I believe most of us Americans (especially women) experience extreme excess.

I decided that the best way to get a handle on what clothes I owned vs. what clothes I wear was to stop doing laundry. Seriously.

The goal was to wear everything in my closet and drawers. Obviously when one stops doing laundry the favorite clothes are gone in 10 days or two weeks. Then we move into the second level of clothes one likes. After 5 weeks or so it begins to get a little desperate (and I must point out that there IS a need to do a little load here and there of essentials – read: bras and towels in my case.) After a couple more days (or weeks) one gets down to only the clothes one wouldn’t be caught dead actually wearing. Best just to let those go – face it, you’re REALLY not going to wear any of it. That was kind of easy – this stuff was garbage.

It’s hard for me to find clothes I actually like, ergo it’s hard for me to get rid of clothes once I own them. After the no-laundry experiment, once I’d washed everything and put it all back in an impressively organized manner, I looked at it all again. There’s some stuff I might be able to do without. So I took some things and I removed them – at least temporarily; put them in a big plastic crate and hid them away. I figured that if I don’t go looking for them, don’t miss them, then I don’t REALLY need them. It was late winter, so I focused on spring and summer clothes. I filled a crate and stashed it in the back of my closet.

There was a time or two when I wanted a particular shirt or pair of pants, couldn’t find them, and went into the crate. There they were, so they went back into rotation. While I might paw through the crate looking for a particular something, I made great efforts to pay no attention to what else was in there.

Six months later I looked in the crate, this time to SEE what was there. Any of those spring and summer clothes I’d not needed or gone hunting for should be considered unnecessary. But I was realistic too. If there was something in there that I’d buy right this minute if I saw it on a rack at the consignment store, I let that slip back into the closet. Everything else went to the consignment store if they’d take it and to Goodwill if they didn’t.

I refilled the crate with things I might not miss and that currently sits in the back of my closet again. The whole thing is a process – anyone who tells you it can be done in a weekend or a month is full of it.

After the great no-laundry experiment and after ditching at least 2 plastic bags full of clothes, in February this is what was in my closet –

3 scarves

2 fringe jackets (when was the last time I even wanted to wear these?)

17 skirts

28 button down shirts

1 long sleeve shirt

2 turtlenecks

2 cat suits

19 sleeveless shirts on hangers

2 winter coats

2 fall/spring coats

4 costume dresses

4 dressy dresses – mid-length

5 dressy jackets

13 casual dresses (7 long, 6 short)

2 robes

36 pairs of pants – hanging

9 pairs of pants – folded

11 bath sized towels

39 tank tops – folded

7 sleeping shorts

13 sleeping shirts

14 leggings

12 tights

32 pairs of socks

42 pair of underwear

17 bras

2 lounge pants

3 swimsuits

11 tee shirts – historical personal value – not for wearing

That’s still an awful lot of clothes. Perhaps you can see how easy it was for me to go something like 10 weeks without doing laundry. Aren’t I lucky to be American? I do not say this facetiously. How many women in this world get by on 2 ratty bras and 10 old pair of underwear? Or less? How many women in the world own 2 or 3 dresses only?

I’ve heard of women who have in their closets something like – 3 skirts, 2 dresses, 4 or 5 pair of pants, 8 shirts and 3 jackets. And they live fine with this! They don’t feel a lack of clothes. They mix and match and appear well dressed! I’m not there yet. I still have too many clothes – many more clothes than I ought to need.

Every week I try to whittle it down somewhat, somehow. The process is not glamorous.

When I take off my underwear at the end of the day – if it’s a pair that was loose, or tight, or uncomfortable in any way – I throw them in the trash – not the laundry basket. Same with bras. I’m trying now with the theory – Do Not Keep Anything That Isn’t Top Quality.

I am certain I have not gotten rid of nearly enough clothing yet, still, but when it’s so hard to find what I like it is truly hard to let it go.

I’m gonna do a quick experiment – I’m gonna copy off that list above (from 8 months ago) and compare it to what’s in my closets and drawers right now… (Wish me luck.)

Same – 3 scarves

Gone – 2 fringe jackets

13 skirts – 17 skirts

25 now – 28 button down shirts

Same – 1 long sleeve shirt

Gone – 2 turtlenecks

Gone – 2 cat suits

Same (I wear them all – I made sure of it!) – 19 sleeveless shirts on hangers

Same – 2 winter coats

Same – 2 fall/spring coats

Same – 4 costume dresses

Same – 4 dressy dresses – mid-length

2 now – 5 dressy jackets

16 now (crap! I went shopping!) – 13 casual dresses (7 long, 6 short)

Same – 2 robes

29 now (this includes some inadvertent shopping.) – 36 pairs of pants – hanging

7 now – 9 pairs of pants – folded

Same – 11 bath sized towels

Same (there was some shopping and change-out. I love tank tops.) – 39 tank tops – folded

Same – 7 sleeping shorts

8 now – 13 sleeping shirts

Same – 14 leggings

9 now – 12 tights

34 now??? – 32 pairs of socks

35 now  – 42 pair of underwear

Same (there has been some change-out, call it upgrading.) – 17 bras

Same – 2 lounge pants

2 now – 3 swimsuits

Same – 11 tee shirts – historical personal value – not for wearing

Tally = Minus 40 things, plus 5.

I suppose that’s better than plus 10 or 20 over 8 months time – right?

Obviously I could do more here, though I have made a good system for rotation and making sure I wear everything I own – for if I won’t/don’t wear it, what’s the point of keeping it? The list would have more impressive cutbacks if I’d counted before the great no-laundry experiment but I didn’t and so it goes.

Now – I ask again – do you really know what’s in your closet?

I dare you to make a list…