What I’m packing for 2.5 months in South America

Awhile back I wrote a post on how to pack like a minimalist. This time, I’m sharing with you the specific things I’m bringing on an extended trip to South America.

My boyfriend and I are heading out from the USA to Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay, for a 10 week adventure. We’re staying in Air Bnbs and hostels, mostly in large coastal towns, with one inland city thrown in half way through.

I plan on spending the majority of my time on the beach, but anticipate lots and lots of walking around the city and some hiking outside the city. We are going in summer so the temperatures will be in the 70s-90s during our stay. We will have access to laundry at some of our apartments. We are each checking one large hiking pack on the flights, and each bringing a daypack as our carry-ons.

Here’s what I’m bringing for 70 days:

Clothes

  • dresses x4
  • short-sleeve tops x6 + long-sleeve top
  • sweatshirt
  • shorts
  • workout shorts + yoga leggings + workout top + sports bra
  • lightweight nightgown + bra + pasties
  • underwear x 20
  • socks x9
  • sunhat + swimsuits x3 + beach towel
  • scarf (functions as headwrap for dreads + beach sarong)
  • baseball cap
  • sneakers + sandals

Toiletries
  • Dailies contact lenses (30 pairs… monthlies would be better if I had any!)
  • sunscreen (spf 50 sport + oil-free x2 for my face — and I’m sure we’ll buy more there)

 

  • makeup bag (2 shades lipstain, under-eye concealer, eyelash curler, mascara, mineral foundation ( + small one in darker shade to mix in as I get more tan), mineral blush, foundation brush, blush brush, tweezers, nail file)

 

 

  • shampoo
  • face wash x2
  • St. Ives exfoliating scrub
  • razor
  • natural deodorant + himalayan salt deodorant bar (both being natural, neither is perfect so I often wear both at the same time)
  • toothbrush + toothpaste + floss
  • bar of soap
  • mineral bath (bit unnecessary but we might want to indulge after the long flights 😉 )
  • bandaids (waterproof and regular)
Gadgets
  • cell phone + charger
  • laptop + charger + case
  • headphones + headphone splitter
  • Spotify playlists + podcasts/audio books downloaded
  • outlet adapters
Documents
  • passport + driver’s license (and photocopies)
  • saved pdfs of hotel/flight confirmations (accessible without wifi)
  • saved Google maps (accessible without wifi)
  • credit card + debit card + cash
Odds and Ends

  • herbal tea (Air Bnb’s often only have caffeinated teas stocked)
  • cbd oil
  • melatonin
  • Dramamine
  • toilet paper
  • handkerchiefs x2
  • sunglasses + case ( + Rx sunglasses + case)
  • crossbody handbag + daypack

And that’s it!

Update: If anyone’s curious, when I checked the hiking bag at the airport check-in, it weighed 17-20 lbs (differed a bit from airport to airport). Not bad! That was with everything listed above inside, minus the daypack which I had taken out to be my carry on, and inside the daypack I had my electronics, crossbody handbag, handkerchiefs, and some snacks we bought for the flight. The daypack weighed 6.5lbs.

Did I forget anything? Let me know if I missed one of your must-haves in the comments!

You only have one neck — How to declutter your scarf collection

How many scarves do you own? Go ahead, count them. Wait, can you find them all first? I know some are in this closet, some in that closet… some in that storage bin…

I grew up in California. I maybe owned one scarf. Then we moved to Iowa, and I suddenly needed new apparel for 6 months out of the year.

I bought a couple scarves, and few mittens, a few hats, and a warm winter coat.

I also learned how to knit. So I knitted myself another scarf, a pair of hand warmers, and a hat. My mother also took up crocheting, and made me a hat and a scarf. The friend who got me into knitting gave me a scarf that year for Christmas.

Within my first few months as a Midwesterner, my scarf collection sextupled.

Some of them were itchy. Some weren’t my color. Some unraveled a bit. But I was 16 and you better believe I kept them all anyway!

As the years went by, more scarves were given. As my knitting improved, more scarves were knitted. And the closet shrank and shrank.

Now allow me to really blow your mind: I only have one neck.

How did I ever manage to wear all those scarves? Well, some only got a couple wears before the season was over. Which is the very definition of excess. Especially considering I would typically just throw on the same one I wore the day before.

When you pair having too many choices with also being lazy, you usually end up with the same choice, over and over again. (tweet that)

I’m glad to say that since then I have narrowed my scarf collection down considerably. I have two uber-warm winter scarves, one light-weight trendy scarf, and one mid-weight scarf.

Here’s how I narrowed it down:

1. Divide your collection into cold-weather scarves and mid-temp scarves

There’s no use decluttering your scarves only to discover that you’re left with all spring/autumn scarves and have nothing left for really cold weather. So make sure you divide them into these two categories before narrowing the, down so you’re sure to have at least one left for each temperature range. Note, I also had a few scarves that I would consider “summer-weight”, but as I currently live in a place that’s super hot and humid during the summers, that just seemed impractical for me, so I didn’t keep any from that category. Depending on where you live, that third category might be appropriate.

2. Pair them with the outfits you wear during those seasons

If your thickest scarf only matches your favorite spring outfit, get rid of it. When the weather is appropriate to finally wear it but it doesn’t match with any of your winter items, then it will sit in your closet unworn all season. Items have to coordinate (to your personal standards) or you wont feel right wearing it. Of course if matching doesn’t matter to you or you have a mostly capsule wardrobe already, then you can skip this one.

3. Try it on

Is it itchy? Does it stay in place or slip around and get in your way? Is it too bulky under your current coat? Does it actually keep you warm? Does it make you too warm?

4. Rank them by favorite

If at this point you still have too many perfect scarves that haven’t fallen short in any area mentioned above, lay them out in order from your absolute favorite to your least favorite. Tell yourself you have to get rid of one more. You’ll probably know right away which one you just can’t part with. Any others can probably go.

5. Make sure they’re in your color season

Remember that since scarves are worn right up by your face, they are a key item to make sure is within your color season. A scarf outside your color season can make you look washed out — which is especially unflattering since we lose our summer glow during the cold months as it is. A beautiful scarf that brings out your features and makes your skin look radiant can effortlessly brighten your whole appearance.

With these checkpoints, you can narrow down your scarves to only those which are comfortable, practical, and look great on you. You deserve to be warm while looking your best!

As a final tip, here’s some ideas of what to do with the scarves you don’t keep.

1. Donate them to your local women’s shelter. Women’s shelters take all sorts of items from clothes, to hygiene items (shampoo, etc), to clothes and toys for the children who often accompany the women in need. Check with your local shelter to see what they take. That scarf that was perfect but just not your favorite could be someone else’s new favorite!

2. And for the knitters who keep a constant supply of scarves coming in, create your new pieces with those women in mind. Or, knit them for hospital residents. They will take blankets, too, if you’re looking to go beyond scarves. Keep in mind that some hospitals only take new items, so donating your used pieces is best for shelters.

Good luck, stay warm, and happy knitting!

It’s perfectly fine to break up with friends you’re just not that into

“Breaking up is hard to do”. But so is hanging out with someone who makes you feel awkward af. (tweet that)

Let me rephrase that. It’s not that they make you feel awkward; it’s that you feel awkward around them. They aren’t doing anything wrong, it’s just… them. Or you. Or you with them. But somehow the conversation always dies down, it gets awkward, and you dread it.

On the flip side, you have that other friend, with whom there are never ever awkward silences — but that’s because she never stops talking about herself and her problems. Not only is it an unbalanced relationship you two have, but it’s a depressing one. You walk away feeling drained, feeling like you would have rather not gone out at all.

I’ve had interactions with both of these people. And I’ve separated myself from both of them. The first one was a very kind friend, but something about our vibe together just felt awkward, so when we naturally drifted, I let it happen and made absolutely no effort to maintain the friendship.

The other, I never got that close with in the first place (you can only get so close when a relationship is one-sided.) And so I just stopped attending events where this person would be there.

Instead, I have chosen to nurture friendships with people I actually like. (tweet that)

Imagine that! Positive interactions where I come away from it feeling great, and feeling like there’s never enough time to talk about all the great things we want to share with each other. Comparing the social circle I have now to the one I had a few years ago is like night and day. Back then I felt like an outsider; I felt depressed and like I had no really fulfilling interactions in my life. Now I have an abundance of them.

“If you keep what you don’t want, you’ll never have enough room for what you do want.” (tweet that)

Feeling too guilty to end things with somebody?

Trust me, they’ll get over it. Chances are, it hasn’t been that fulfilling for them either. I doubt they’ll be completely blindsided. Plus, just don’t be a jerk about it and you can walk away guilt-free. It’s really okay. And if you still feel guilty, remember that you are not responsible for anyone else’s happiness but your own.

What decisions can you make about who you spend your time with, that will bring you happiness today?

Getting through those winter blues

I was out for a walk the other day, with the little boy I babysit regularly. He’s just starting to talk, so when I’m with him I always talk to him and point out the leaves and the flowers, and mention the colors and the birds we hear and the cows we see (we do live in the Midwest).

This autumn I pointed out how the leaves were changing color and falling from the branches. I stepped on the fallen leaves and pointed to my ear to teach the word “crunchy”.

But now that it’s winter, things are looking a little more dreary than they were just a few months ago.

I looked out at the trail ahead of us and all I saw was brown. And empty, dead-looking branches. Not much to tell him about today, I thought. Luckily I have a repertoire of children’s songs up my sleeve from when I worked in a preschool, so he’s never without entertainment ;).

But I didn’t need to use the songs, because as I looked more closely at what I thought was a brown and boring path, I saw that there was actually still a bit of green in there to be seen. I just had to look more closely.

So I pointed out these little green leaves to him so he could see them, too. And it made me realize, that not only are things not as glum as they seem, but there are small pleasures to be found everywhere. (tweet that)

We saw patches of green, herds of cows, and pairs of birds flying across our path. What started as an unpromising outing had turned into quite a full experience.

I wont kid you and tell you it was as enjoyable as spring. There are still seasons afterall, and it was cold. But I recognized that I had been in a bit of a hopeless mindset because of the temperature. And I had let it make assumptions about my surroundings, and ultimately my outlook on life.

It’s true what they say, to see the world through the eyes of a child brings a whole new outlook. Because it wasn’t until I looked for the interesting things so I could show my little friend, that I saw them for myself.

What might you be missing when you look at your life? I bet there are some interesting things in there that you’ve forgotten about, or have been blinded to by your current outlook. Won’t you please find them? And then share them with the world?

It’s time to digital declutter

Physical clutter manifests as real stress in our lives. But what about digital clutter? You may have Konmari-ed your wardrobe and narrowed down your book collection, but you’re not done if you haven’t looked through all the stuff you keep on your phone and computer.

With essentially unlimited storage space, it might seem silly to monitor how much you’re using. But the problem isn’t limited digital space; it’s that we have limited space in our brains to keep track of it all. Hanging onto things whether they are physical or digital takes up some of your memory and awareness, and depending what exactly it is, it can cause you more stress than you realize.

Here are the areas I suggest looking at, with the intention of drastically reducing what you choose to keep:

Docs and notes

I once created a very in-depth folder system, with subfolders inside subfolders. The system was very logical and I could usually find what I was looking for. It worked passably for a few years, until I ran out of space on my laptop and moved the whole folder system onto an external hard drive.

And I didn’t look at it again for years.

What was in it? Useless documents called things like “24 things to do before age 24” or “Tuesday to-do list” or “Potential jobs to get Sept 2012”.

Mostly these notes were useful to me at the time, as a “brain dump” exercise where I just wrote down a bunch of ideas to help better sort them in my mind.

Before the age of everything-digital, people used to brainstorm on real paper. And then crumple it up and throw it in the trash when they were done. But with digital files, we always CTRL + S just in case we might need to refer to it again later. And thus, what was once disposable brain clutter becomes immortalized digital clutter.

These days, I still constantly write digital notes, but I have only a few at a time. Instead of multiple to-do lists, I have one, which I keep adding to and checking off as I complete things. Any separate notes I try and take care of asap so I can delete the whole thing and move on. I hang on to work-related documents only until that project is over. And anything uploaded online to a blog or shared workspace doesn’t need a second copy on my hard drive.

Photos

Photos are something we tend to have literally hundreds if not thousands of. First, figure out where you’re going to store them, and keep them contained to that place. Are you going to keep them on your computer’s hard drive such as in iPhoto, or online in something like Google Photos? In your phone’s photo gallery or on Instagram? You only need to store one copy of any given photo. (Do keep the original version of the few photos you care most about, so that you have the highest resolution if you ever want to print them out to be framed.)

Next, get rid of any obvious ones like exact duplicates or ones that are blurry or where someone’s eyes are closed. These will be easy to delete and will give you a feeling of momentum.

Now you’re left with all pretty good photos, but you only need one from each set. I’ve found that when a photo set is recent, I can’t decide which photo is the best one. In one the lighting is better, but I prefer my smile in the other one. When this happens I have to just give up and come back later. It’s amazing how looking at a photo with fresh eyes gives you such a better perspective.

Specifically, vacation photos

This is another beast entirely. You might have a bunch of photos of buildings you saw, fountains, lakes, beaches…

I hate to break it to you but there are already hundreds of photos of that exact landmark, and dozens of them are way better than yours. If you really want a photo to remember how beautiful Lake Tahoe was, find one off Google taken by a professional landscape photographer and look at that when you feel like reminiscing. You don’t need your own photo collection to prove you were there.

Instead, keep the photos of people. The selfie you and your partner took in front of the beach or with the crazy cab driver photobombing you will likely illicit much fonder memories than a photo of the place itself. The people are what make a photo rare or special, not the place.

Emails + email labels

There are easy ways to bulk-delete email, so have no fear! You’re likely subscribed to a ton of mailing lists you no longer care about. Go to your inbox and open one. In Gmail there’s a little “Unsubscribe” link you can click so you don’t have to find the option inside the email content itself.

This only works for certain automated email lists however, so this option wont be there for all of them and you will have to manually delete the rest. Thankfully, you can delete multiple emails at once so the process goes pretty quickly.

Email is another one of those places where we tend to organize subfolders into subfolders, often called Labels. I used to have a label called “Shopping” where I kept all my automated promotion emails from various stores. (There are so many embarrassing aspects of that sentence, but this was years ago.) If you’re in that boat now, delete the label and delete everything inside it.

Apps

You downloaded that app and still haven’t opened it? Uninstall. You find that you only waste time using that app and it doesn’t bring anything constructive to your life? Uninstall. You already have another app that has the same function? You don’t need more than one.

I like to have only two screens of apps on my phone. On the home screen I have my daily used apps, like email, Spotify, text messages, and Google Keep. Swipe to the second screen and you’ll find my photo gallery, some social media apps, and a language learning app. I intentionally don’t put any “distracting” apps (Facebook, Instagram) on my home screen, because I don’t want to find myself opening them by default or because I saw a notification bubble.

All my other random apps aren’t used even close to daily, so they don’t need to take up space on my home screens. I can still access them in the Apps folder when I need them.

Texts

I dislike seeing texts that no longer serve me. Whenever I get a text with a confirmation code or automated alert (such as when resetting a password or opening a new account) I promptly delete the text conversation when I’m done. If someone random texts me with the wrong number, etc, I’ll delete it. I’ll also delete group text conversations if it’s not a group of people who talk on an ongoing basis.

Having fewer texts makes it easier to scroll through and find the conversations that actually matter to me, with people and groups I plan on talking with again in the future.

Accounts you follow

You have been using social media for years and have years worth of people you’ve followed on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and all the rest. You likely don’t care about a lot of the same things you cared about five years ago, so why are you still following so many of those accounts?

It is okay to unfollow people that no longer interest you, whether that’s hiding people from your Facebook news feed, unfriending them altogether, or unsubscribing to Youtube channels. If you feel badly about yourself when you look at a certain account, do your self-esteem a major favor and unfollow it. Clear your Instagram feed from the boring photos you quickly scroll through, so everything you have to see is better.

Enjoying your newfound brain space

Clearing out the digital clutter can give you a surprising amount of peace. When you look back through the things you have chosen to keep, you will find that you have only stored joy and happiness. What wonderful things to hang on to.

What area have you digitally decluttered that has made the biggest impact on your happiness?

I wore the same pants for 3 months and no one noticed

As you may know from some of my other posts, I work as a barista in a coffee shop. For as long as I’ve worked there (about two years now), I’ve kept a separate wardrobe just for barista days. This is because the clothes I wear there always end up 1. smelling like coffee, and 2. getting espresso, chocolate powder, or milk splattered on them (I’m not clumsy, I swear).

I have the perfect pair of pants for this job. They are comfy, strechy skinny jeans, and they are a mix of dark purple and black, in an almost watercolor design. I’m telling you, I can get all the espresso on them I want and you can hardly tell.

I used to also wear another pair or two of pants, usually black or brown skinny jeans, but because of their solid color, stains were still pretty noticeable.

So when it came time to do another quarterly wardrobe clearout, I asked myself if I really needed more than one pair of pants for my then once-a-week barista job. And the answer was no.

A few months ago though, I picked up two additional shifts there, so now I work and wear the same purple-black pants three days a week.

And so far, no one has noticed.

Now, I’ve wondered if maybe it’s just that I stand behind the counter a lot, so most people don’t even see my pants. But, the thing about being a barista is that you’re watched a lot. People are interested in how their drink is made, and I catch people watching me quite often. They see me steam the milk and ring them up while my lower half is hidden behind the counter; but they also watch me walk to the fridge to get a new jug of milk, or walk across the room to refill the cream and sugar. They see me try and carry one-too-many stacks of cups up from the storage room.

And I know people have seen these pants because I have gotten a number of comments on their unique color pattern.

Now you’d think that one of our regular customers would have noticed my “uniform” by now and said something. Especially because I do get comments on my appearance a lot. People ask how long it took me to get my hair into dreads. They comment on my “never-ending collection of cool tshirts” (which is also hilarious because I literally wear the same 4 shirts over and over. And if it’s cold, I wear the same green hoodie overtop — open, so you can see my tshirt underneath — and sometimes the same scarf.)

When I got the “never-ending collection of cool tshirts” comment, I actually said to him, “Really? Cause I feel like I have like three and just wear them over and over again!” To which he said, “Oh! I guess I never noticed!”

I couldn’t believe it.

But it just goes to show that people don’t noticed things nearly as much as we think they will. And, when they do notice something about you, it’s usually something positive.

What items in your wardrobe can you declutter? What are you hanging on to out of some idea that we need to “mix things up” or “keep things interesting” for other people? If you knew they wouldn’t notice, is there a favorite outfit you would wear more often? Why not every day?

No grocery store January

Last year at this time, I had two realizations.

1, I was spending a lot of money on food each week, and 2, I already had a ton of food in my house.

Living alone and shopping for one is not the most economical way to live. Buying in bulk is always cheaper, and cooking larger meals whether to share with more people or to save for leftovers makes way more sense than dirtying dishes for one measly portion.

For those reasons, I always bought in bulk and ended up with a ton of food at home, and I always cooked larger portions than I needed. This resulted in my fridge, freezer, and pantry being packed. Yet I still went grocery shopping every week.

I would often buy a few more of something I already had “just in case” I didn’t have as much as I thought I did. Then I’d get home and realize I now have more than I need.

An obvious solution would have been to make my shopping list while looking through what I already have and seeing what I’m truly lacking. And then sticking to that list once in the store.

But I wasn’t organized enough to do that. And I knew I’d eat it all eventually, so what was the harm in having the pantry a little overstocked?

But with the start of the new year last year, I decided I would do No Grocery Store January, something I made up entirely to suit my needs. Pro tip: you are allowed to make up your own goals and challenges to suit your own needs. (tweet that)

The rules were simple: I wasn’t allowed to go to the grocery store to buy food until I had eaten everything already in my house. I had a bunch of frozen vegetables (not as tasty as fresh, but definitely usable) and an assortment of rice and pasta, etc. I wasn’t eating much meat back then so I didn’t need to buy that to supplement my meals. And heaven knows I didn’t need more snacks or desserts.

I was surprised how long the food I had lasted. I made big casseroles that lasted a few days, and used things I had bought “to try something new” that I had been putting off for months. Although I set out to last all of January, part of me wondered if all my food would only last a week or two. But I had way more than I thought, and it lasted all month.

It felt so good by the end to have an empty fridge and freezer, and a mostly empty pantry. And it felt great to go grocery shopping in February and fill my kitchen with new things, starting from a clean slate.

The experience taught me just how far food goes, that my fear of running out of some “crucial” ingredient was unfounded, and that there is no need to overstock “just in case”.

I still have tendencies to buy in bulk to save money, but I try and buy less overall quantity each visit, and instead make more frequent trips to the store. That way I can buy only a few fresh vegetables and fruits, and then buy more once those are gone.

Stock up on rice this week, and stock up on pasta a few weeks after that. I don’t need a mountain of both in my pantry. Buy apples one week, pears the next. Buy only one kind of juice at a time.

The fear of not having enough options can be surprisingly strong. It’s why we buy the same sweater in three different colors, or why we are hesitant to commit to a job or a relationship. I didn’t realize that it extends to food as well.

These days I have fewer food options at home now, and I am surviving just fine. What areas of your life could benefit from minimizing your options?

You’ve done well. Now enjoy.

With the new year quickly approaching, I want to remind you of a few things:

1. You’ve done well. You’ve done well this year. You’ve pushed through things, overcome some and are still working on others. But you’ve done well so give yourself some credit.

2. You’ve done a lot more than you think you have. Looking back at the year as a whole, it can feel like only a few things stand out. We easily forget all the little things we have done, which often add up the most.

3. You deserve to relax and enjoy yourself. And don’t tell yourself otherwise. Relaxation and happiness are not things we need to earn. You don’t need to reach some quota before you’re allowed to have fun. Waiting to reward yourself after you complete a goal is great, but too often we hold out until the big goal is accomplished, before letting ourselves enjoy even the tiniest rewards. Reward yourself for the small steps you’ve taken. Or just reward yourself because you’re wonderful and you deserve it, no matter what you’ve accomplished today. (See points 1 and 2.)

Relaxing and enjoying are different from splurging. Enjoy freely. Splurge occasionally. (tweet that)

4. You have the power to decide how you feel next year. How did you feel this year? What were your predominant emotions? Were you mostly stressed, happy, bored? Of course we experience a range but if one feeling stands out to you, is that feeling something you want to feel again this next year? If not, what needs to change?

5. Everything is a choice. This is something that really hit hard for me this year. I found myself committing to things because “I had to”, only to realize that I actually could have said no. “But I didn’t have a choice,” I found myself thinking. It was when I had that exact thought that I realized, “No. I completely, 100% had a choice. And I always have a choice.” And so do you.

Next year is filled with so many possibilities. Whatever limitations are coming to your mind right now, challenge them. Ask yourself if they must be so, or if you have a choice. You can make next year whatever you want it to be. For that matter, you can make the remaining days of this year whatever you want them to be.

You can.

Now enjoy.

You don’t need 15 candles

With the holidays in our midst, I know many of our homes are looking extra clutter— I mean festive.

You have stockings hung, garlands draped, and trees skirted. Presents everywhere, and wrapping paper everywhere else. Food. All the food.

And maybe a candle or two. Or three, on the mantle. And one in the kitchen. It smells like sugar cookies, yum. Then there’s the cranberry-pine scented one by the tree, just to give it that little extra zoosh.

After the holidays are over you’ll put away the snowman candle collection and bring back out your basic floral and perfumy, year-round candles. The linen scented one for the bathroom. The sexy one on your nightstand. The expensive one that was a gift, which you reserve only for when the girls are over for wine night.

Yeah. Girl, same. I’ve got one that smells exactly like lemon bars and it’s the yummiest thing ever. That one’s in my kitchen.

But let me tell you. You do not need 15 candles. Dare I say it, you do not even need 10 candles. Maybe five. Maybe. (How big is your house?) (tweet that)

Candles have definitely been a weakness of mine for years now, but it’s something I’ve really tried to stop in the last year or so. Once I finish the ones I have now, I can buy more. But until then, I do not need any more candles. And most likely, neither do you. I’m here to support you, ladies (and gentlemen). Be strong. We can do this.

When Christmas Perfection leads to overwhelm

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, and also the most everything time of the year.

It’s the time to eat the most cookies and desserts you’ve had all year.

It’s the time to cook the most elaborate meal you’ve made all year.

It’s the time to get out all the fancy china, with way too many pieces of silverware and all the special serving spoons and butter knives and gravy boats and snowman spatulas, and on and on and on.

(When really your normal set of dishes and cutlery would do.)

You don’t need all those things and all those desserts and all those Christmas cards to write— but yet we write them.

And we stress because we waited too long and now they might not make it in time for Christmas. And the presents still aren’t wrapped and…

You might feel overwhelmed. Honestly I’m not partaking in any of the above (except the eating desserts) but I got overwhelmed just now typing it all out.

It’s not your normal. It’s no one’s normal. So it’s completely okay to feel overwhelmed this time of year. Don’t feel guilty or like you’re just not able to handle it like everyone else is.

They can’t handle it either. Everyone is pushing extra hard this month to get everything done and to make things just perfect.

But I think that’s one of the big flaws. This idea of Christmas Perfection. Maybe it’s how we saw our own parents handle the holidays, where everything seemed so effortless because we were kids and didn’t know the half of it. Or maybe it’s to live up to some Instagram expectation that’s now become our standard.

Whatever it is, this idea isn’t sustainable, and it’s hardly attainable. (tweet that)

We exhaust ourselves by making sure the appetizers are perfectly spaced on the tray, while looking over our shoulder to make sure the right wines are being paired with the right cheeses.

It’s too much.

What if we did Christmas a different way this year? What if we minimized all the plates and little spoons. What if we only made our favorite few dishes and really savored them. What if we only bought half the Christmas gifts and didn’t send out any cards.

What would that Christmas look like? Would it look like a Pinterest fail, or would it actually look a lot closer to how we remember Christmases feeling when we were kids? Carefree, fun, and memorable.

Would we have more time to sit down, and admire our favorite few Christmas decorations we put out this year? Would we engage more directly with those around us, instead of worrying about a half-hearted card in the mail? Maybe we would pick up the phone and call the few people we actually think about on Christmas. Or, maybe we’d have more time to think of more people.

What is your idea of Christmas Perfection? Is it something you can post on Instagram? Or is it something you have to be there to feel? Something only those around you can experience together?

Whatever it is, I wish you a lovely Christmas. And I wish you peace. Peace of mind and peace within yourself. I wish you a slow pace and a happy heart. And lots and lots of dessert.