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Minimalism

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On Living Out of the Trunk of My Car for Six Weeks

On Living Out of the Trunk of My Car for Six Weeks

It's funny the things that keep popping into my mind about being on the road.

I've been listening to favorite playlists while I work and when a certain song comes on, I find myself smiling as I recall that stretch of I-95 lined with trees that weren't quite ready to change. There were a lot of songs belted out at the tippy top of my range that day, you guys. It may or may not have been pretty, but I suppose that's just one of the perks of traveling solo, right? 

I've also been digging through business cards, postcards and pamphlets I picked up along the way to remind myself of cool people, shops, art galleries and towns. As you might guess, I've been smiling a lot at those as well.

The one thing that I can't stop thinking about, however, is just how little I needed while I was traveling. My trunk was full, but I really lived out of a carry-on bag for much of the trip. I basically rotated the same items of clothing and washed them along the way. It was simple, no-fuss and—quite frankly—easier than having an abundance of options.

So, when I got home and was presented with an opportunity to team up with my friends at Clementine Daily and Glad's Glad to Give campaign, I couldn't wait to start going through my closet, to let go of my "maybe I'll wear it someday" clothes and to give certain items a new home.

You can read the full post here, my friends, and I hope you'll join me in paring things down a bit this fall. I must admit, it feels pretty darn great. 



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The American River + Michael Caine + Happy Links

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"Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but alwayspaddling like the dickens underneath." // Michael Caine

Happy Links:

  • I haven't stopped dreaming of an Airstream life after finding the Riveted blog. So. Much. Chrome. {sigh}
  • As I mentioned several months ago, we're in the midst of planning our trip to Glacier National Park. I've been following the park's Flickr stream to keep up with their work as they get the park ready for the spring/summer season. There's still so much snow!
  • Have you all heard of Dear Photograph? The site is based completely on the idea of matching an old printed photograph to the same location in its present form. It's brilliant.

Wrap it Up:

  • I finally wrote about the process my mom and I are going through to get rid of excess and simplify our lives. Spoiler alert: it feels pretty great.
  • A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of taking thesecret tunnel tours at the Cal Neva Resort on Lake Tahoe. If you're at all interested in history, retro decor and conspiracy, I highly recommend you take a tour.

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I hope you all have a lovely weekend. I'll be spending a few days in the Denver area, so be sure to follow my Instagram feed {@JenSnyder} for updates!

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An Exercise in Downsizing, Minimalism and Mindfulness

So here's the thing: I love things.Pretty things, useful things, things that hold sentimental value... I have always been a bit of a collector, staging my little treasures on shelves in rooms since I was a wee one.

Here's the other thing: sometimes the sheer number of things in life can start to weigh one down.

And that, my friends, is where the journey to be a bit more mindful begins.

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You see, my family has always placed a lot of value on things -- not in a greedy way -- but in a 'these are the things you need to live a full life, so you should probably have them' sort of way. Much of my family (myself included) also places an incredible amount of value on sentiment.

I'm a huge sap when it comes to the belongings of relatives. While this has always been the case, it was never more evident than when we were going through the events of a few years ago. That X-acto knife belonged to Papa? I'll take it. Nana's Pyrex bakeware? Sure. They're total duplicates of what I already have, but you can never have too much Pyrex, right? While the X-acto knife is of use to me, it turns out you can, in fact, have too much Pyrex.

And that's just one example. Throughout my 30 (okay, okay... 30 1/2) years on this planet, I have gone though so many stages of accumulation and simplification: going off to college, moving into my first apartment, inheriting things from relatives, buying a house, getting married, etc. The list goes on and on. I also know that those stages only continue as we move through life.

How do I know this? Well, my mom and I are going through this exercise together. That's right: my mom, who has been living in her childhood home amongst many of her childhood things, is downsizing her life. She, too, is attempting to remember the sentiment while letting go of the things.

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We've already begun the process. My mom has started selling things that no longer bring her joy on sites like ebay and craigslist. We've been cleaning out closets and cupboards in both of our houses and donating items to worthy causes, we've been prepping for a pretty substantial yard sale next month and I've even started selling items from my closet on Poshmark (you can sign up with the invite code HMJJH and earn a $5 credit, if you're interested).

That said, this isn't necessarily about having the fewest items possible either. I will probably never be the girl who can fit all of her belongings into one suitcase. I enjoy having a carefully curated place to live and work and my mom likes being surrounded by pretty and useful things that make her feel good.

No, this is about letting go of material things that we've been holding onto for the wrong reasons with the hope that they will end up in the hands of people who will use and cherish them.

Let me be clear: some of the items my mom is letting go of will end up with me because I find joy in them. Grandma and grandpa's wedding cake topper? So sweet! I'm sure I have room for that. My great grandmother's vintage salt and pepper shaker collection? Of course I want those!

What can I say? I may not be the best at living a truly minimalistic life, but I'm trying really hard to be mindful about what I keep. As more family heirlooms end up in my possession, I'll be letting go of items I no longer have use for or accumulated unnecessarily. I will also say "no, thank you" to items I may have said "yes, please" to in the past.

The goal is to let go of more than we hold onto. I'll keep you posted on how that all turns out, my friends.

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What has made this exercise easier (and even enjoyable) is knowing we're not alone. I have been completely inspired by people like Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus (aka: The Minimalists), people who live in Airstream trailers full-time (and spend more time experiencing than consuming) and local gal Ashlee Gadd of Where My Heart Resides who has documented some of her journey here, here and here. They have all made a conscious decision to let go of the excess, separate the memories of loved ones from material things and put more emphasis on living than collecting.

I hope you'll find their stories to be as motivating as I do!

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Your turn: Have any of you been down this road before? Maybe on more than one occasion? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.

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My Mighty {fine} Life List

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So, here's the deal: I make lists regularly. I love ticking boxes and putting lines through items I've accomplished. For some reason, however, I found it difficult to finish my Mighty {fine} Life List. Created by the amazing Maggie Mason of Mighty Girl, the lists (and the movement that surrounds them) are meant to capture 100 things you'd like to do before you go.

The premise behind the popular life lists is pretty great. You simply list out your goals - both big and small - and act upon them. The lists can change as we grow, which is key. Maybe an opportunity comes up that you could have never imagined... put it on the list and cross it off! Maybe you decide one of your goals is no longer as important as you once thought... remove it!

I started my own list years ago - long before I started blogging - and just let it sit unfinished. Well, not anymore! I finally took the time to write it all out and get it ready for public consumption. I feel like putting this out to the universe (well, at least to you lovely people who read this blog!) will help motivate me to really seek out new experiences and make sure they come to fruition.

Without further ado, I'd like to present:

My Mighty {fine} Life List

(Note: Accomplished items are in bold.)

  1. Visit all 50 states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
  2. Take photos of iconic bridges in all 50 states
  3. Really understand the settings on my digital camera
  4. Run (and finish) a marathon
  5. Visit all 59 National Parks in the US: Acadia, American Samoa, Arches, Badlands, Big Bend, Biscayne, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Carlsbad Caverns, Channel Islands, Congaree, Crater Lake, Cuyahoga Valley, Death Valley, Denali, Dry Tortugas, Everglades, Gates of the Arctic, Glacier, Glacier Bay, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Great Basin, Great Sand Dunes, Great Smokey Mountains, Guadalupe Mountains, Haleakala, Hawaii Volcanoes, Hot Springs, Isle Royale, Joshua Tree, Katmai, Kenai Fjords, Kings Canyon, Kobuk Valley, Lake Clark, Lassen Volcanic, Mammoth Cave, Mesa Verde, Mount Rainier, North Cascades, Olympic, Petrified Forest, Pinnacles, Redwood, Rocky Mountain, Saguaro, Sequoia, Shenandoah, Theodore Roosevelt, Virgin Islands, Voyageurs, Wind Cave, Wrangell Saint Elias, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion
  6. Take singing lessons
  7. Get on stage and sing again (even if it’s just karaoke)
  8. Take snowboarding lessons
  9. Live in a state other than California
  10. Start practicing yoga
  11. Teach a class on any subject (or be a mentor)
  12. Meet the President of the United States (it doesn’t matter who it is at the time)
  13. Go to a concert and hang out with the band backstage
  14. Go ice fishing in Alaska
  15. Let go of the material things cluttering up my life
  16. Go snowshoeing
  17. Figure out what it takes to do voice-over work and do it
  18. Take an extended (months-long) trip to anywhere
  19. Go back to England to visit family and re-visit places important to my family history
  20. Write a book
  21. See a moose (in the wild)
  22. See a grizzly bear (also in the wild, preferably from far away!)
  23. Road trip through Canada
  24. Sing at a wedding
  25. Become a tour guide
  26. Create a photo book of all of my favorite bridges
  27. Make my health a priority
  28. Foster a puppy dog
  29. Hire a stylist to tell me – once and for all – what not to wear
  30. Join a book group
  31. Be an extra in a show/movie
  32. Attend a Beastie Boys concert (Keeping it on the list. You never know. RIP Adam Yauch)
  33. Go to a grown-up summer camp like this one
  34. Travel somewhere beautiful by train
  35. Spend an entire day reading a good book on a tropical beach (without feeling guilty…like I should be doing something)
  36. “Pay it forward” at the coffee shop by paying for a stranger’s morning fix
  37. Experience the Aurora Borealis
  38. Go back to D.C. to re-visit the monuments/museums/etc.
  39. Write an article/story for a large print publication
  40. Learn more about creating and editing beautiful videos
  41. Visit Greece
  42. Visit Croatia
  43. Go glamping in the Swiss Alps
  44. Create a road trip around the world's largest everything (see unfinished Pinterest board here). Take said road trip.
  45. Eat baklava in Turkey
  46. Spend a week in a rental house with my best friends in Cape Cod
  47. Own an Airstream (and maybe live out of it for a bit)
  48. Join a CSA
  49. Take a backpacking trip
  50. Start painting again
  51. Skinny dip
  52. Travel through the Amazon rain forest
  53. Attend an awards show (preferably the Grammys)
  54. Go to Australia
  55. Visit New York City
  56. Learn another language
  57. Take a European road trip
  58. Take a Northern California road trip to experience the super cool things I usually just drive right past
  59. Sleep in a tree house or lookout station
  60. Spend hours wandering the High Line
  61. Take a Chicago girls trip
  62. Remove all of the grass from our property and replace it with a more sustainable ground cover
  63. Go geoducking
  64. Cook through an entire cookbook
  65. Find a reason to go to Antarctica
  66. Be present when my nephews experience something incredible in nature
  67. Re-vamp my print shop business model to better showcase my photography work
  68. Star gaze in the middle of nowhere with my husband
  69. Tour the White House
  70. Take a soak in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland
  71. Go hot air ballooning
  72. See Machu Picchu
  73. Change out all of the boring doorknobs in my house and replace them with beautiful ones
  74. Travel on a private plane
  75. Experience Germany’s Oktoberfest at least once
  76. Take a bicycle trip through Holland (tulip fields + windmills, please!)
  77. Attend Camp Mighty
  78. Cook lobster at home
  79. Take a road trip to see the fall colors
  80. Attend Sundance Film Festival
  81. Go sailing
  82. Be brave enough to cut my hair super short
  83. Take a helicopter ride
  84. Visit the San Juan Islands
  85. Go canoeing/kayaking somewhere beautiful
  86. Be an artist in residence in a national park (like this)
  87. Successfully grow fruit trees in our backyard
  88. Live outside of the U.S., at least for a short while
  89. Renew our wedding vows
  90. Travel to Easter Island
  91. Have dinner (and dessert, of course) with Nigella Lawson
  92. Visit Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore
  93. Learn to can fruits and vegetables
  94. Go hunting with my husband
  95. Visit the Bonneville Salt Flats during Speed Week
  96. Photograph a ghost town at sunset
  97. Make pasta from scratch
  98. Feel the mist from Niagara Falls on my face
  99. Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower
  100. Take a photo trip to the Galápagos Islands

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Anyone else have a life list they want to share? Feel free to link up in the comment section. I'd love to see how your lists are shaping up!

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