Simplify

Ode To My Pants

This is an ode to my one pair of pants. It really is a certain way of thinking about things. I am a woman and I think this way. Guys I’ve upped the ante for you.

I have one pair of pants. You read that correctly. I have shorts for the summer but for most of the year I wear one pair of pants.

It is a pair of black Outlier Slim Dungarees. It was essentially built for cyclists which means it is durable. I have had these pants for about 5 years and they still look brand new. I have even gone weight training in them when I forget my gym shorts. I recently wore them to my daughter’s high school graduation topped with a flowy black maternity top. It was super comfy and no one could tell that I wear these bad boyz almost daily.

I have written about minimalist packing for travel. However I probably practice “one bag” living even while at home.

My wardrobe is quite minimal. I used to buy two sets of clothing. However, since many of my clothes are quick drying, I have been able to wash and wear my clothes on the same day. This is another reason to be anonymous since who really wants to be known for this. But since I am anonymous, I can more honestly share this.

It makes getting dressed very simple. I never have to think about what to wear. I usually wear a yoga tank top, my pants and a flannel shirt. Yes, I am a proud Canadian.

I am absolutely certain that ALL of my clothes would fit into a child’s regular size school backpack with room leftover. And I have lived this way for years now and I never run out of things to wear. I guess I also only keep what I like. I have kept an extra set of clothes but in all these years, I don’t believe that I have had to use them.

I do not have many clothes for special functions. Okay I have clothes for running. I also have winter boots and summer shorts. I wear a pair of fleece leggings inside the pants once it gets super cold. And I only have one pair of those as well.

For truly fancy occasions, I own one black dress and a pair of black patent flats. That’s it. I wear my diamond earrings and my diamond wedding ring. And that’s what I wear everyday as well as for fancy occasions.

And you know it isn’t about the pants. IT IS NOT ABOUT THE PANTS. So I try not to highlight the pair I bought. But those are seriously awesome pants though.

But the point is that my pair of pants is enough. I do not need another pair.

It is about a different way of thinking and living. It is about the ability to question everything and to make your own rules.

Who cares about your life more than you? Try small experiments with your sample of one (ie you). You don’t need to prove anything. It is not a randomized double blind study. And you can change your mind at any time. So no pressure and it may actually reveal things about yourself to yourself. Imagine that.

Allow yourself to think differently and maybe even live differently. It can all start with a pair of pants.

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Simplify

Off Peak Lifestyle

People rarely appreciate the acres of diamonds in their lives. Off peak lifestyle is one such example.

Everyone dreams about international travel. But then there is the endless planning and running around putting out fires at work and at home just to allow yourself that time away. Many mothers I talk to just cringe at all they have to organize for EVERYONE that it really isn’t even vacation for them.

Staycation is a term that has been used a lot recently. But many times I get the sense that it is a step beneath what anyone really wants. It is almost stated as an apology in place of what one would rather be doing.

Then there is the concept of an “off peak” lifestyle. I love this lifestyle and find it works well for my family and I. We already live in a city that many love to visit. During the weekends, the most popular attractions in the city are full of people and not very enjoyable to attend. However, when I go for my runs on weekdays there is almost no one on the beaches. These beaches which are packed with hundreds of people during the weekends have perhaps a dozen people at best. The gorgeous natural surroundings are the same and it is quiet and peaceful. It is almost dreamlike. My weekday runs are a massive score to enjoy these gorgeous beaches.

This concept also applied to the many children’s attractions when my kids were younger. I would take them and their friends to the attractions around 2 PM after the buses loaded the school children back to school after their field trip. I would take my preschool children at this time to avoid the crowds but still have the benefits of all the staff who were available for the day. The staff were very happy to have the smaller crowds and took ample time with my children consistently.

Attending museums and art galleries during the middle of the week day is another wonderfully relaxing activity. A lot of times it feels as if you took a day off school when you were younger. Maybe this staycation thing is a great idea after all.

The off peak lifestyle also applies to appointments and running errands. There would be minimal wait time for appointments. There is minimal line ups during shopping. The produce was rarely picked over. The shopkeepers were more rested and seemed a lot happier. Everything seems easier. Commuting across town is even easier during mid morning when kids are at school and most people are working.

My version of a good life is to design a life that I don’t need to take a vacation from. I believe if more people designed their normal lives this way, the travel industry would have a difficult time marketing international vacations to you. Your life would feel simple and easy. There would be less need to have to vacate.

Know Your Own Peak Times

I have realized my optimal times during the day occur early in the mornings. I love waking up early and going for a run. The air is crisp and the neighbourhood is just beginning to stir. I make sure to get my most important things done when I am most fresh. When I was working full time, I often worked mornings since by the afternoon I was usually not firing on all cylinders.

Lately, my husband has been taking a day off during the week to simply relax at home. He would use this time to join me for an early morning run, be available to see the kids off to school and we would be able to sit at a cafe in the middle of the day. Simple daily activities outside his normal weekday routine are enough to recharge him. It is such a simple change but very effective.

We rarely use the weekends to do any shopping. The shops are often packed during this time. We learned our lesson when the kids were younger through visiting Ikea and Costco during the weekends. I am embarrassed to admit that our weekends are pretty quiet. While many families are running around, we tend to go on hikes and visit friends instead.

In fact, my off peak lifestyle allows me to say that I am usually “not busy”. I lead a fairly relaxing life. I rarely rush around. It helps that we tend to keep things simple by grouping most of our activities close to home. Aside from my Costco trips, I can buy the majority of my groceries within walking distance from my home. I believe living in an urban neighbourhood is good for the environment. As long as it is close to good public schools and great transportation systems, it helps one to avoid dependence on the car.

Apparently, the top two things that people dislike the most on a day-to-day basis are housework and the daily commute in their cars. This is according to Dan Buettner who writes about Blue Zones. I am not sure how accurate that statement is but it seems plausible.

Nothing works for everyone, but maybe designing some semblance of an off peak lifestyle may simplify your life a bit. Now go and enjoy a slow weekend!

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Simplify

Minimalist Packing List

This is my curated minimalist packing list. I love packing lists since like a shopping list it keeps one in check. But the best part of a packing list is that it seems to get better after each trip.

The goal is to strive for traveling light with one small bag.

The Bag(s)

  1. Any backpack between 16L – 20L- I use the Fjallraven 16L backpack
  2. Baggu- for shopping, I keep one with me everyday
  3. Collapsible backpack- 20L Sea-to-Summit
  4. Drawstring bag- I use this to keep my hands free while I am touring a new city

Essentials

  1. Passport in ziplock bag
  2. Financial- Credit Card, Debit Card, Cash
  3. Tickets- plane, etc
  4. ID- Driver’s License
  5. Medications- Rx

Toiletries

  1. Toothbrush
  2. Toothpaste
  3. Dental floss
  4. Tweezer
  5. Nail clipper
  6. Comb
  7. Go Tube filled with shampoo or Lush shampoo bars- I use these for shampoo, soap, shaving, laundry- that means for almost everything!
  8. Moisturizer
  9. Shaver
  10. Sunscreen
  11. Mosquito repellant
  12. Towel
  13. Medical Kit
    1. Bandaids
    2. Face masks

EDC (Everyday Carry)

  1. Phone with charger
  2. Headphone
  3. Extra battery pack for my phone
  4. Travel adaptor
  5. Buff headwear- this is versatile as a scarf, headband, face mask, towel, etc
  6. Carabiner
  7. Hat
  8. Sunglasses
  9. Pen
  10. Umbrella
  11. Eye mask
  12. Ear plugs
  13. Hand sanitizer

Food Supplies

  1. Water bottle- Klean Kanteen insulated 473mL
  2. Chopsticks- collapsible
  3. Titanium spork
  4. Metal container for packing food

The Clothes

Tops

  1. Yoga tank with built in bra
  2. T-shirt x 2
  3. Long sleeve shirt

Bottoms

  1. Shorts
  2. Pants
  3. Leggings

Sleepwear

  1. Bed clothes

Underwear

  1. Underwear x 3 pairs
  2. Socks x 2 pairs
  3. Extra Bra- must have a sports bra x 1
  4. Swimsuit

Outerwear

  1. Small rain jacket- Patagonia Houdini
  2. Midlayer jacket- Patagonia R3 Hoody

Footwear

  1. Sneakers- NB Minimus
  2. Flip flops

Cold Weather

  1. Fleece tops
  2. Fleece pants
  3. Patagonia Nanopuff Hoodie
  4. Gloves

Fancy

  1. LBD (little black dress)
  2. Black flats
  3. Lipstick

Travel Food

  1. Instant coffee/ tea bags
  2. Dried fruit
  3. Nuts
  4. Oatmeal packets

I love traveling light. There is such a joy with being able to leave all the encumbrances of daily life. It is wonderful to see how little anyone really needs.

Do laundry while traveling. You can definitely pack less if you can wash your clothes and allow them to dry in your hotel. Many people swear by wool clothing. Nowadays I simply bring what I have in my closet. I only bring my iPhone since I am not running an online business. That decreases pack weight a lot.

I am not a seasoned traveller. However I did spend two weeks each in Thailand and Russia with the same packing list during the past year. I was not lacking anything.

In fact, I had to delete certain items since I simply did not use them. I enjoy seeing new places but more than anything it gives me a chance to trial my packing list. I realize it should be the other way around but I am slightly obsessed with minimalist packing. I see this as representative of my overall approach to life. The question of how little do I really need is something I challenge myself with. Over the years I can say with conviction that it really is not as much as one would believe.

Being able to travel lightly is a simple gateway to experimenting with the concept of minimalist living. Many folks could probably be interested in doing this during their weeks on vacation. Few would want to lug heavy baggage during their travels.

We live in a society with too much. There is too much stuff, too much information, too many choices, too many activities. People are bombarded with too many distractions. Being able to carve out a small arena of your life that you can start to simplify ever so slightly would be a welcome reprieve. Minimalism may help one gain some clarity to what is important to you and your family. There is much information gleaned from what you choose to delete from your life.

Sometimes just with the lessening of possessions and obligations allows one to focus more on one’s health and dreams. Many state the process of decluttering more enlightening than therapy! It is a small victory to express free will in a society which prizes the construct that more is better. I firmly believe in the minimal effective dose for many areas in my life. There is often a point of diminishing returns when it comes to work, possessions, exercise, finances, etc. It is more meaningful to be able to come to terms with that level for yourself. Much healthier than having it imposed upon us by someone else.

May you give minimalist travel packing a try. Setting limits for yourself is a healthy approach to living. It just might inspire you to declutter other areas of your life as well.

I would provide links to various purchases but the aim of this site is for you NOT to buy more of things you do not need. There is freedom in NOT buying the best in everything and researching all items before buying. I read reviews simply to narrow my options down to a few choices and then I use my gut sense to make the final decision. I also do not bother to buy things at the cheapest price since I tend to buy so few items that it really is not worth the energy. If something is worth buying I wait for any sale and then I pull the trigger. I am the penultimate satisficer. I am NOT a maximizer when it comes to material goods since they are simply not as valuable to me.

This comes back to “know thyself” since some people must have the “best” in all things. That is fine as long as you are willing to put in the effort in terms of time, energy and money to fulfilling that end. Otherwise, welcome to regular frustration and a prison of your own design.

I believe the entire weight of my travel backpack was less than 10 lbs. It was a cinch to carry around with my all day. During plane rides I was able to board later as I did not need to worry about overhead storage for my backpack since it fit easily in the airplane seat in front of me. Now that was freeing since there was no line up for me before the flight.

I will include photos of my travel pack after my next trip. Until then curate your own minimalist travel list.

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