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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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Featured: Wand'rly Magazine + Vacation Rentals

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Wand'rly Magazine has just launched their 9th issue and my latest feature for the publication, which had me digging into the details behind vacation and room rentals, is now live!

Here's an excerpt:

"After a long day on the road, every traveler needs a place to rest for the night. Some may prefer tents, RVs or tricked-out buses, while others would rather get their shuteye in hostels, motels or high-end hotels. Some wanderers, however, choose an increasingly popular option: the short-term vacation rental.

Since the mid-2000’s, websites such as HomeAway.com, FlipKey.com, Airbnb.com and Roomorama.com have offered easy access to various types of lodging for those seeking unique spaces. With listings ranging from rustic cabins in the woods to grand seaside castles, it’s easy to see why rentals have caught the eye of savvy travelers.

Many of the websites offer the same type of information regarding rental properties, such as number of bedrooms, amenities, rates, reviews and location; but they can differ when it comes to the type of listings found on each site, the payment and reservation process and how owners get feedback from travelers. We’ve rounded up a handful of the most popular vacation rental websites to find out what you need to know before booking your next stay."

You can read the full article here.

If you have yet to check out Wand'rly Magazine, you should stop in and see what the new issue has in store. Those interested in experiencing the Airstream life or living like a local while on the road will find plenty of good information!

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Your turn: What is your take on the vacation and room rental scene? Love it? Hate it? Have any experiences you'd like to share? I'd love to hear your thoughts on it all in the comment section!

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Albert Einstein + Grand Teton National Park + Happy Links

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{"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."  //  Albert Einstein}

Happy Links:

  • Remember Lincoln Logs? I loved them as a youngster. Anthology Magazine posted a little tidbit from their latest issue and I'm thinking it might be time to splurge on an annual subscription.
  • Speaking of our younger years, I just happened to catch a tweet yesterday from Kelly Beall of Design Crush about Camp Grounded. It's like the summer camp I never attended as a child, but for adults. Yes, please!
  • Have you read this post over on Oh Joy? It's such a great note to all of the creative beings out there who are struggling to figure out just where they fit.

Wrap it Up:

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I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

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Featured: Wand'rly Magazine + An Interview with the Team Behind CoolWorks.com

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The latest issue of Wand'rly Magazine is now live and I am thrilled to have contributed an editorial feature about seasonal jobs for travelers.

I had the pleasure of interviewing a few members of the team behind CoolWorks.com, which is an online space dedicated to matching seasonal and full-time work in incredible places with those seeking a very different idea of what "9 to 5" entails.

Here's an excerpt:

"The website, which launched in the early days of the internet back in 1995, has long been a central hub for temporary and seasonal work opportunities in unique, interesting locations across the United States.

[...] The opportunities on CoolWorks.com run the gamut, from jobs in and around national and state parks to opportunities with adventure travel operators and first class lodging establishments. Short-term jobs or volunteer opportunities can last between six weeks to several months and the site often lists full-time, permanent positions, which are snapped up just as quickly as the listings for temporary work."

You can read the full article here.

For those who are new to Wand'rly Magazine, it is a great online resource for travelers looking for tips, travelogues and practical information. While the magazine's focus is on the full-time wanderer, I find much of the information useful in both the fixed and travel sides of life. Whether you're planning a short trip or building up the courage to leave your fixed life behind, be sure to check out the current and past issues for inspiration.

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Your turn: Anyone out there traveling full-time? Part-time? Have you ever taken on a cool, seasonal job? Be sure to share your stories in the comment section! 

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