Friday, May 01, 2015

Vacation Packing Part One: Figuring Out What to Pack

I've been traveling the world since I was 6 years old so I have some experience with packing. I've been packing my own suitcase since I was 9 and I've learned how to manage packing for all sorts of transportation, trip lengths, and locations.

In my trolling through the internet I've found a lot of people have posts about how and what to pack. I've yet to find one I agree with entirely so I thought I'd add my voice to theirs. I encountered a problem when writing this post however. My voice is a lot longer than most. LOL! So I'm doing a series. Bear with me. I'm a little passionate on this subject. This one is about figuring out what to pack.

Of course, how you pack needs to be appropriate to your personality and to your trip. You are going to pack quite differently depending on whether you're in your 20s or in your 40s. You're also going going to pack differently depending on whether you're back packing or going to a resort, going to Europe or going to Africa.

My first advise is to carefully consider what is appropriate and what is needed for your trip. 

Most people play the "what if" game about what they might need. By considering what is appropriate and what is needed you'll help alleviate that. You can find out what is appropriate by doing some research into what is appropriate apparel for your destination, what kind of transportation you will have, what experiences you have planned, etc.
 • Appropriate apparel for your destination: Look at what people are wearing in those destinations, use travel guides to assist you if needed. Your travel experience will be richer if you respect those norms. If you don't you could attract unwanted attention or be barred from going places you had planned on seeing and experiencing. While this tends to be more true for women, it doesn't exclude men. What we perceive as normal can be disrespectful or even frightening to other cultures. Normal can even be different from place to place in the same country. Believe it or not, what works in New York isn't necessarily going to work in Denver, or Seattle.
Type of Transportation: Think about comfort and health. You might look good in high heels but your feet will rebel if you do too much walking in them. If you're sitting on a bus all day, tight clothes might start to become constraining and claustrophobic. If you're hiking mountains or hanging from zip lines through a jungle, baggy clothes could get in the way.
Types of Experiences: Will it be cold, will you be inside or outside, will it be sunny or overcast, will you be visiting rural areas or holy places, will it be hot during the day and chilly at night...? Make a list and figure out what those experiences will require.

My second advise is to pack as lightly as is reasonable. When I say "lightly" I mean both weight and quantity of the contents.

•  Plan outfits that mix and match so that you can have a new outfit everyday without packing a separate outfit for every day. If you choose a color scheme (like blues and greens) its easier to do.
Choose fabrics that aren't too bulky but do the job. If you need a warm sweater, sheep's wool can be very bulky, but you can get the same amount of warmth in a lighter garment in other fibers such as angora, alpaca, or cashmere.
Plan to do or hire laundry. Yes, it's okay to do laundry on vacation. Some hotels will have laundry service for a price and you can plan that into your budget. If you can't afford the money, take some powdered laundry soap to do it in the sink. If you do that, you might want to also include a camping style clothes line. Pick fabrics that will dry quickly...not cotton, and plan for time in the day to do it.

Finally: Pack everything compactly in the smallest bag possible.

Carefully roll up your clothes. I see a lot of people advocating for packing cubes and I think they're a waste of money and space in your suitcase. The reason people like them is for organizational reasons but you can organize just as well by rolling your clothes. I'll explain in more detail in my second post.
Unless you have back problems I recommend ditching the roller bag. I discovered several years ago that the frame for a roller bag takes up so much space that I could pack more in a lighter bag to be carried. By getting rid of the roller bag I cut down on weight, size, and added an incredible amount of flexibility. There are so many reasons why a roller bag is a bad idea, but I'll talk more about this in my second post. The ultimate bonus is when you amaze people who see you traveling with ease because you have everything you need but it's not weighing you down or getting in the way.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Most Important People In My LIfe: Thankful!

One thing I have learned and begun to think a lot about is who the most important people in my life are.

My family!

I've always known it deep down, but now I'm really focusing on it as a way to move into my future.

My immediate family get a long really well and always have. We've always been there for each other and even our spouses fit in really well. I wouldn't be who and where I am without them. We REALLY love each other. How many people can say that?

Even a lot of my extended family can be included in that family circle of importance. Aunts, uncles, and cousins who have all loved me and allowed me to love them in our unique ways.

My family has never insisted I be anyone but who I am and who I was made to be. They never undervalued who I am or tried to push me into becoming something else.

Something even more wonderful? I see that legacy of love being carried down to the next generation.

For all of that, I'm very, very grateful.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Rediscovering My Style

A part of my "recovery" from a job that took everything from me leaving nothing has been rediscovering and growing my own style in a lot of ways.

One area I've been having fun with can fall into the category of illustration. As a fiber artist who crochets, knits, weaves, spins, and dyes I can't help but appreciate some of the puns in the English language that are direct descendants of those areas of industry.

Soooo...I decided to design some t-shirts. I've been wanting to do it for a long time and having finally found a subject matter (fiber arts) to inspire me, I had to figure out how to express it.

First, I had to take a look back at things I did a long time ago that I still like and feel a kinship to as an artist. What I found were the black and white works of art that were either drawn with pen and ink or cut from a wood or linoleum block and printed.

Second, I took a look at the tools available to me now. I LOVE drawing on my iPad when it's something that needs to be on my computer later. I use a wonderful app called ProCreate and a stylus to draw whatever I want. It uses layers which are really handy and offers all types of "tools" like markers, paint, pencils. All virtual of course, but they work really well.

Third, I started writing down all the fun fiber puns I could think of. I want to illustrate the fiber meaning while tapping into the mainstream usage. For example: "I spin a good yarn." It's illustrated with a drop spindle and yarn hank but in mainstream language it means that you tell a good story. Doing it this way makes it kind of an inside joke for spinners.

Fourth, I got on my iPad and started drawing the illustrations. It's just as time consuming as drawing with pen and ink, but when I'm done I can just send it over to my computer where I upload it into Illustrator for the typography to be added.

Fifth,....typography. There's something else I haven't done in a long time. For now I think simplicity is the best option.

Sixth, as they're done they'll be posted in my Zazzle store. I'm not advertising it much yet because that brings up a whole new set of things to work on. Like writing descriptions...yuck!
For now, it is what it is and you can check it out even though it's not "ready."

Friday, March 20, 2015

First Painting Epiphany

In my last post I told you about healing, getting my creativity back, and my resolve to reclaim my personal creative voice this year.

In the middle of February I had a lunch meet with an old work friend. She quit not long after I did. As we chatted about where we were both at I told her about how I had struggled to spend time in my studio and that I hadn't made a finished, ready for the wall, work of art in YEARS.

That conversation must have shook something loose because that night, as I was falling asleep, I suddenly had an epiphany. A painting I needed to do. I went to sleep resolved to locate all my painting stuff in the morning.

When I woke the next morning I was fearful. I was afraid that I couldn't do it, that I wouldn't be able to translate what I saw in my mind to the canvas. I had failed so many times before that it was not an unreasonable fear. I sent up an urgent prayer, "Please let me have this one."

I went down to my studio and pulled out my portable easel, a watercolor board I've had for years, gesso from my art journaling tote, the jar of brushes, and went upstairs to the kitchen and sunshine. I opened up the easel, mounted the watercolor board, and gessoed it with a couple of coats.

While that dried, I pulled out the oil paints. I couldn't open any of them with my hands, but they still seemed soft in the tubes, so I visited the garage and used a pliers to tease all but one of them open. The one that wouldn't ended in the trash. It wasn't worth worrying about. I had momentum and needed to maintain it.

I couldn't locate the solvent and so I sat down at my computer and located images in my photo files that would help me with my painting, 2 photos my Dad took in the early 1970s and one I took in 2009. They were images of the valley where we lived from the time I was 6 to when I was 10. Four years that I call home.

As soon as the board was dry I sketched the image I wanted onto the gessoed surface. It's an image of something I spent a lot of time looking at. It's what you see if you stand at the edge of the yard of our old house, looking out into the valley. You can see for hundreds of miles of rolling hills on a clear day. The main road into the valley is on the right. Today it's paved but when we lived there it was just the native red dirt. In the center of the valley is the airstrip and I have put the single prop engine airplane at the far end of it, about to land. The road and the airstrip represent the two main forms of transportation out of the valley.

After I got done sketching I took up the hunt for the solvent again, finding it. So I quickly roughed in the image with color.

So far it seems that I'm going to be allowed to have this painting.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Getting Back to Making Art

Since I quit my job in January of 2013 I've been healing. I was left physically, mentally, and emotionally ill to the point that I sincerely believe that if I had stayed much longer I would have ended up in the hospital.

But, I didn't and I've spent the time since healing in a very deliberate sort of way, trying to listen to what my body, my heart, and my mind needed to become whole again. I've had so much help and support in this from my Honey and I feel like I'm almost there.

I haven't shared much of what I've been dealing with except with those closest to me. I have shared bits and pieces with friends and family, just to let them know how I am because they care. Being too needy is a good way to destroy relationships.

One thing that happened at that old job was that I felt my creativity was prostituted, even stolen, for someone else's agenda leaving nothing left for me. What I offered was also often treated as cheap and only as valuable as they decided it was. I can't tell you how many times I heard the phrase "You're really creative, but..." I hung on to the scraps that were left, but nurturing one's personal creativity back to health is a grieving process as well as kind of like nurturing my body back to health. It can't be rushed. It takes as long as it takes.

• I continued doing my crochet and even found I was again able to do the work to publish the designs last fall. Doing handwork like crochet and yarn spinning was therapeutic and one of the ways I was able hang onto the scraps of my creativity that were left. Getting back to publishing was a sign that my brain could once again handle more complex tasks.

• I took classes to help revive my creative spirit and did a little art journaling. The journaling was helpful although I'm not really that kind of artist. I was able to use it occasionally to assess where I was at. It could be very revealing and I valued that. One thing that kept coming up that I couldn't figure out was that I had clearly "lost my voice." I needed to figure out how to find my own voice again.

• I decided this January that my word for the year is "Reclamation." I'm finally well enough to reclaim ownership of my creative voice, all the way through from design to art. Look out, here I come!!

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Here's a journal page I started in April but couldn't finish until today. It's called "Belonging."

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Thought for the Day

Some artists begin as mission-driven but get tricked into being career-driven.
~ Andrew Simonet