Here I go...

Join me on my new adventure - Van Living!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

New Balance WW1069BR

This year, I'm going to try another New Balance Shoe.
It is the New Balance WW1069BR Trail Walking Shoe.
This rugged shoe features a split suede and breathable mesh upper with GORE-TEX protection. The padded footbed lends lasting underfoot support; the combination of C-CAP® and ABZORB® midsole cushioning, along with a long-wear drag tip delivers underfoot support. Rollbar® technology minimizes rear foot movement for an optimal ride. The AT Tread outsole of the New Balance 1069 GTX® hiker combines both trail and running rubber lug designs for on- and off-road performance.

Type: Motion Control

Weight: 336 grams (11.9 oz)

This is an outdoor-ready walking shoe featuring a waterproof GORE-TEX® upper, underfoot cushioning and a supportive fit.

When your walk takes you off road, as most of the Camino Santiago is, shoe is ready. 

For wet Galician conditions, this shoe features a waterproof GORE-TEX® upper. 

For unforgiving ground, such as the stretch into Roncesvalles, the 1069 provides cushioning with C-CAP® and ABZORB® technology. 

And when things get rocky, such as the stretch coming down Alto Perdon, the ROLLBAR® technology helps keep feet stable using a system of TPU posts.

Features also include the following:

· 10 mm drop: due to variances created during the development and manufacturing processes, all references to 10 mm drop are approximate

· Debris-free construction eliminates waste, preserving raw materials and providing an environmentally preferred manufacturing solution· Rich eyerow hardwareT

* * *

I like the looks of this shoe.
It looks sturdy, and I love the WOL-01 Shoe Last it is built upon.
It has a deep toe box and wide front combined with a narrow heel.
This combination works very well for Camino Walking.

Prices I've seen range from $139 to $169.
But don't balk.
You get what you pay for and on the Camino, your shoes are your primary investment.
Take care of your feet, and your Camino will be successful.

Let me know how these work for you!

Buen Camino!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Help Making Tough Decluttering Decisions

On her Blog, LIFE YOUR WAY, Mandi Ehman suggests 10 questions to ask yourself as you evaluate the items in your home and make tough decluttering decisions:

1. Is this item something I use regularly?

A lot of times we keep gadgets, tools, toys, art supplies, et cetera around because they seem useful. However, it’s important to consider how often you actually use each item when deciding whether it’s worth keeping or should be given away. If you haven’t touched it in three to six months (or more), despite your best intentions, it is a good candidate for decluttering.

2. If not, is it something I love?

Of course, there are obviously exceptions to this rule (including seasonal items that you usually regularly in season). One exception I would always encourage you to make is for items you love. Keeping a painting from your grandmother that you love even if it doesn’t have a place in your current home is much different than keeping a snowcone maker that you have been meaning to use for two summers but never seem to have the motivation to actually pull out.

3. Am I keeping this out of obligation or expectation?

Chances are there is at least one thing in your home that you’re keeping not because it’s useful or you love it but because it was a gift from someone and you feel obligated to keep it. While I completely understand the desire not to hurt someone’s feelings, I think it is also important to remember that this is your home and if it is affecting your life, it’s okay to declutter gifts as well as the things that you’ve bought for yourself.

4. Am I holding onto this because I think I should 
love it?

Maybe you have a piece of artwork or a trendy outfit you picked up because they were popular and you felt like you should love them, even though you really don’t. Maybe your craft area is stocked with supplies for a hobby that no longer interests you. In all of these cases, it’s important to consider how you really feel and make your decisions based on those feelings rather than the ones you think you should have!

5. Am I saving this just in case?

One of the most common causes of clutter is a fear of needing something that you’ve given or thrown away. The reality is that if you commit to simplifying and decluttering, chances are that this will happen at some point. But for those of us who take the plunge to get rid of the unnecessary, the benefit of a clutter-free home is almost always worth the tiny bit of regret in these situations.
6. Do I have multiples of the same thing?

How many spoons or spatulas do you really need in your kitchen? Obviously your answer will depend on the type of cook you are, but ask yourself this question whenever you have multiples of any item. There’s a difference between being prepared and more efficient and just creating clutter!

7. Could something else I own do the same job?

I think this is a fun question! As you’re decluttering, look at any specialized tools or items you have and ask yourself if you could do the same job with another item, thereby cutting down on the number of different things you keep. To use another kitchen example, I decided to simplify our entertaining by giving away a bunch of our serving bowls once I bought a set of beautiful stainless steel mixing bowls from Ikea. I use these every day for cooking, but they also make great bowls for chips, dip, ice, et cetera.

8. Am I holding onto a broken item to fix one day?

This is another classic cause of clutter. Perhaps you have a piece of broken furniture or a broken electronic that you’re just sure you will have the time and desire to fix at some point. But ask yourself how long it’s been sitting in storage waiting for that day to come and whether you’re really ever going to get to it as you make the tough decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of.

9. Is this item worth the time I spend cleaning/storing it?

It’s important to remember that both your time and the space in your home have value. Think about how much time you spend cleaning knickknacks that you don’t really love. Or how about the time you spend sorting through the things in storage time and again to either find something you do need or want or to try to declutter once more. Would your life have less stress and busyness without those items?

10. Could I use this space for something else?

Think of the possibilities of what you could do with a closet or storage area in your home if you weren’t holding onto everything that currently fills it. What about a shelf full of knickknacks or books that don’t really interest anyone in your home?Your space has value too, and it’s important to look at the cost of everything you keep in terms of the space it occupies as well.

* * *

I hope these questions will help you make some difficult decisions.
Giving yourself permission to let go, well, THAT is the first thing you must do.
If you haven't yet walked the Camino Santiago, you'll see.
I bet you won't miss ANY of this stuff - not one bit!

Decluttering - Where to Begin

Deciding to live more simply takes courage.
Letting go of things we've kept for so many years "just in case" feels like yanking the rug out from under us, for some. It makes us totter for a moment. And then, like magic, you realize you are still alive and happy WITHOUT that dastardly thing.

But where do you start?
Here is a list to consider:

  • Duplicates.  Do you have two irons? Two sets of measuring cups? Two pairs of flip flops? Two coffee makers "just in case" one breaks? Two rhinestone necklaces?  Get rid of one!
  • Broken things.  Keeping cracked or broken things in your house is just plain bad feng shui! It attracts cracked and broken energy. You know that pair of glasses you've been meaning to fix? Or that coffee cup that you made in 3rd grade with the handle broken off? Or the blender you keep meaning to replace the container on? If there's no motivation to fix it, if you REALLY aren't inspired to fix it today, then let it go.
  • DVD and CD jewel cases. Buy yourself a binder that holds discs and get rid of all that plastic!  Better yet, put all that music on your desktop computer and get rid of the discs!
  • Things that multiply. Pens, cups, chopsticks, plastic giveaways of mustard, mayonnaise, tupperware containers, paper bags. Keep two pens, a cup for each family member, 6 tupperward containers, and shovel the rest.
  • Clothes. Sort through your closet. Take out each item and ask, "Have I worn this in a year?" If no, it goes.  "Do I absolutely ADORE this?" If no, it goes.  "Does it fit?"  If no, it goes.  Keeping clothing because we've gained or lost weight and "may" get back to the point where we can wear the item just causes clutter in our closet. Do you have 3 green shirts? Get rid of 2. Do you have 4 pair of black jeans? Consider giving up two pair. 
  • Shoes. My mother has about 30 pair of shoes. Some are still in the boxes and have never been worn. I think this is because she grew up during the Dustbowl and never had new shoes. But it's crazy. In Oregon, you need 1 pair of sandals, 1 pair of walking or sports shoes, 1 pair of snow boots, 1 pair of rain shoes, 1 pair of house slippers. That's being generous. Let the rest go.
  • Office supplies.  Just how often do you use paperclips these days? When was the last time you reached for a rubber band? Or a bulldog clip? Keep a dozen of each and get rid of the rest.
  • Books. I know, I know… people love their books. But how many books can you read each day? Go through your books. If you have no intention of reading the book this year, let it go.  If it's a favorite, put it aside. Then, look each one up on Amazon Kindle. If it's free, nab it, and donate the paper copy to the library. 
  •  Toys. Go through your child's toys. Choose to keep the ones you have actually seen them play with this month. Put all of the rest into a "limbo" box with the date on it. If they haven't asked for the toy by the end of one month, donate them all.
  • Kitchen drawers. How many potato peelers do you have? How many sharp knives? When was the last time you used that melon baller? Consider letting these unused items go.
These are just ideas.
But you get the picture.

* * *
Have you started the Minimalist Challenge Yet?
It will help you prepare for life on the Camino.
No.. really!
Living for two months out of a backpack can be interesting.

I'm on Day 3, and today I had to weed out 3 items.
Today I let go of a really NICE leather binder, 
a necklace that belonged to my grandmother, 
and an inlaid wooden box. 

Well, that's another day.

Until then, remember...

Thursday, September 11, 2014

St. James Scallop

Last night, I was asked to attend the 
"Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago" Documentary 
which was showing in Portland, Oregon and to do a short Q&A afterwards.
I took Annette along and we watched the movie,
then passed out some cards
and answered a few questions.
I was surprised at the number of people in the audience 
who had already WALKED the Camino!

I'm going again tonight,
taking Joe.
People really didn't have too many questions,
but I was actually stumped by one question,
which I'm embarrassed to say
I did not know the answer to.
That is, "What is the symbolism of the Scallop Shell?"

I knew it was a symbol for St. James
but I didn't know why.
I knew you can pick up those scallops 
on many of the beaches.
I also know they're VERY good eating!

But there's much, much more to the story.

(I did know the scallop was a metaphor for the Camino,
but just had a brain-fart when the lady asked the question
and felt pretty stupid 5 minutes later.
You know… 
the moment when you slap your forehead and say,
"Oh, DUH!"
The grooves in the shell all represent the various roads to Santiago,
arriving at the Tomb of St. James. )

There are two versions of story about the origin of the shell. 
According to Spanish legends, 
St. James had spent time preaching the gospel in Spain, 
but returned to Judaea upon seeing a vision 
of the Virgin Mary on the bank of the Ebro River. 

Version 1:
 After James's death, 
his disciples shipped his body to the Iberian Peninsula
 to be buried in what is now Santiago. 
Off the coast of Spain, a heavy storm hit the ship, 
and the body was lost to the ocean. 
After some time, however, 
it washed ashore undamaged, 
covered in scallops.

Version 2: 
After James's death 
his body was mysteriously transported by a crewless ship
 back to the Iberian Peninsula to be buried in what is now Santiago. 
As the ship approached land, 
a wedding was taking place on shore. 
The young groom was on horseback, 
and on seeing the ship approaching,
 his horse got spooked, 
and horse and rider plunged into the sea. 
Through miraculous intervention, 
the horse and rider emerged from the water alive, 
covered in seashells.

I don't know where I've been for the past 8 years 
or why I never heard this story. 
Perhaps I've heard it and just didn't pay attention.

My friend Joe, who has a Jesuit eduction,
says these are fairly recent legends.
He says the scallop is a symbol of having walked the Camino Santiago,
just as the key is the symbol of having walked to Rome
or a bottle of water is a symbol of having been at Lourdes.
He says each pilgrimage has its own symbol.

But there you have it!
And now I know!

The Minimalist Game

There's a great game going around the internet right now called the Minimalist Game.
I've decided I'm going to play!

The rules are simple.
Day 1:  Get rid of 1 item that is you are hoarding "just in case."
Day 2: Get rid of 2 items.
Day 3: Get rid of 3 items.

Etc., etc., all the way up to Day 30.

I'm looking around my bedroom and office, wondering "What will it be?"

Ok.. I know this is silly, but I love chenille bathrobes.
And I have THREE!
And… I love each one.
And I ESPECIALLY love this pink one.

The short-sleeved, short length pink is nice for summer.
The green is long-sleeved and goes to the floor.
And then there's the turquoise, which has 3/4 sleeves and hits just below my knees.

Oh, I love them both!
One is for summer, one for winter, and one "just in case" one wears out.

So, I've made a decision.
The pink is going to go outside and get hung on my giveaway tree.
I bet someone will love it and take it home today.

About the giveaway tree.
It is a maple tree out in front of my house, on the streetside of the sidewalk.
I (and other neighbors) hang or place items there we do not need, free for the taking.
It works - things disappear - and go to people who like or need them.

Ok.. OUT goes the pink chenille bathrobe.
Day 1 of the game is complete!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Camino Lessons in Minimalism

One lesson I learned from the Camino was just how few possessions it takes to make a person happy.

Walking for 6 weeks
with nothing but what you can carry on your back 
makes you aware of the difference between "wants" and "needs." 

 Wearing the same skirt every day for 6 weeks 
reminds you that appearances are deceiving
 - that instead of looking at what a person is wearing, 
we should be looking into their eyes and into their hearts.

I read on a minimalist website today that anything we get rid of, 
we can replace for less than $20 in less than 20 minutes 
from our current location. 

That is pretty eye-opening. 
Think about it. 
Look around the room and make a list of all the things you are keeping "just in case." 
 How much space do those things take up? 
How much energy to maintain them?
 If they were gone, would you really miss them? 

If you had to replace each item because you TRULY needed it, 
what would it cost you? 
 Almost always it's under $20. 
Almost always it would take less than 20 minutes.
 This theory likely works 99% of the time for 99% of all items and 99% of all people. 

The advantages have begun to outweigh the fear for me.

I live in a house that was built in the 1940s. 
I have a VERY small closet, by modern standards. 
I was having difficulty seeing my clothes 
and getting them in and out of the closet, 
they were jammed in so tightly. 
 So one day last week, in frustration, 
I did the deed.

I took out each and every item. 

First I asked, "Have I worn this in the past year?" 
 If not, it went away.

I asked, "Does this still fit me?" 
 Many items were too small, and I've been waiting "just in case" I lose weight. 
 I faced the fact that I've gone through menopause, t
hat genetically, women in my family tend to put on a few extra pounds after menopause, 
and I wasn't ever going to be 18 again. 
 Those items went away also.

I asked, "Do I NEED three pair of black jeans?" 
 Extra items went away.

I don't really like giving things to Goodwill. 
I feel they get items free, 
then charge way too much money for those items. 
Goodwill is supposed to be for poor people
 - but even I can hardly afford to shop there anymore. 
So I just put all my give-away items on clothes hangers 
and hung them out on the tree in my front yard. 
 They quickly disappeared, taken by people who needed them.

Children's rooms today can be absolutely overwhelming! 
 When I was a kid, I had a small collection of toys.
 One of my granddaughters can't even walk into her bedroom. 
It makes me sad to see. 
What must her MIND look like if her environment is so cluttered? 
How can she sleep well?
How can she even know what the hell is IN there?

About once each year, I go over and help her shovel it out,
but good habits take practice 
and I'm not there every day to enforce de-cluttering.

I'm planning on continuing the purge in my own house.
 I did it a few years back when I first was diagnosed with MCS 
and had to live in my car for a time. 
But over the years, I've accumulated more and more 'stuff."

Getting rid of these items cleared my mind, freed up space, 
and took a lot of weight off my shoulders. It's feeling better and better.

Have you walked the Camino? 
If so, you know what I'm talking about. 
You know how to live with only enough possessions to make up 10% of your body weight. 
Maybe it's time to ask yourself, 
"What are you holding on to just in case?"

Buen Camino!

Monday, September 08, 2014

"The Weight of Your Pack is the Sum of Your Fears!"

I just read this awesome quote on Melinda Harrigan's Facebook page 
and it really hit home
 because it is TRUE!

Think about it.
What do you put into your pack?
Things you "might need just in case!"

And often "just in case" never happens,
and you're left lugging around
many pounds more than needed.

How about just tossing your fears to the wind and packing light?
Anything you discover you need on the trail, you can buy on the trail.
I promise!

Here's a sample packing list for someone who isn't too afraid:

Pack in your Backpack:
  1. Sleeping bag. Yes, unless you're sleeping in private rooms, you will need a sleeping bag, especially if you're going in Spring or Autumn. In summer, you can get away with nothing but a sleep sack (silk is lightweight and tiny).
  2. Travel Towel. You can buy expensive towels, but I love terrycloth and so I use an old threadbare terrycloth dish towel that really soaks up water. It's so think it easily dries in a couple of hours.
  3. A half or quarter shampoo bar. Use this for hair and body.
  4. A half or quarter bar of Fels Naptha or other cold-water-handwashing-clothes soap.
  5. Toothbrush and travel toothpaste
  6. One pair of leggings
  7. One short sleeved teeshirt (preferably merino wool)
  8. One long-sleeved merino wool or silk tee
  9. One longjohn bottom, merino wool or silk
  10. Two pairs of hiking socks - I like SmartWool
  11. One pair flip-flops or Croc knockoffs
  12. One ALTUS poncho or other featherweight rain gear
  13. One wide brimmed hat, or if you prefer, a stick umbrella (buy a sturdy one there for under 10 euros) The umbrella is awesome for both rain and sun.
  14. One merino wool beanie
  15. Two pair of underpants
  16. One extra bra 
  17. Tiny Journal and pen
  18. Two bandaids
  19. Two alcohol wipes
  20. Sharp knife - buy one in Spain
  21. Lightweight windbreaker
  22. Featherweight fleece shirt
  23. A 1-gallon ziplock bag to carry passport/money to shower
Wear on Your Body
  1. Macabi Skirt or Hiking Pants
  2. Underpants
  3. Bra
  4. Short sleeved teeshirt
  5. Socks
  6. Shoes - whatever is comfortable. Do NOT buy new boots, your feet will be like hamburger. ONLY wear boots if you are used to wearing boots and if they are well-broken-in.  I wear New Balance Running shoes and have every year for many years. I take buy them 1.5 sizes too large, take out the inserts, and add Motion Control Inserts for extra cushion and support.
  7. Moneybelt or money pouch. NEVER NEVER NEVER leave your passport and/or cash in your backpack. Carry it on your person at ALL times, even to the toilet or shower
  8. Small changepurse for "today's" cash
  9. One 8 ounce water bottle to be refilled at fountains along the route… easy peasy if you're walking the Camino Frances.
  10. Women: A hankerchief in a ziplock bag to be used for urinating and to be washed each night with your clothing,.
* * * 

That's it.
Anything else you need, literally, can be purchased when you need it.
Everyone on the Camino will have first aid supplies.
Everyone on the Camino will have a phone.
Everyone on the Camino will have an iPad or electronic tablet
Think about disconnecting for 6 weeks and really enjoying the freedom.
You can call your folks at locatorios in the large cities
like Burgos, Leon, Pamplona.
Or borrow someone's tablet to send an email.

What do you think? 
Am I missing anything?
Can you do this?

Or are your fears adding pounds?

Buen Camino!