An ounce of prevention…

Atlanta Traffic during Winter Storm Leo, Photo: BEN GRAY, AP

If you’ve watched any news lately, either on TV or online, you’re aware of the weather disaster known as Winter Storm Leon and its devastation of Atlanta roads and the ensuing traffic nightmare. I’m not here to point fingers or be negative in any way. Actually, I’d like to focus on the opposite, which is what can we learn from living through such a disaster to improve our lives. I was extremely fortunate to have gotten home by 1:00 pm so I didn’t suffer like thousands did on the road in cars running out of gas. I have, however, lived through a similar experience about 10 years ago where it took me 9 hours to drive from Washington, DC to Richmond. VA. But I digress….

I know it’s impossible to think that you can be prepared for every type of disaster but here are some things we can all do to make life a little easier. As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

      1. Stock your pantry and freezer. I don’t mean get all “doomsday prep-per” and build an underground shelter full of MREs but get & keep some staples on hand such as canned tomatoes, dried or canned beans, rice, pasta, frozen vegetables, ground beef/ chicken/ pork, and even frozen fruit. Just have a few things so that you can live out of your pantry or freezer for a day or so and don’t fight the lines at the grocery store. You can also freeze bread so that you’ve got a least 1 loaf on hand. Thankfully, we have having chili tonight because I had the essentials on hand and it’s perfect for this weather!
      2. Fill up your car with gas before you need it. I know I’ve certainly pushed it when the empty light has come on and I’ve never thought “that was a great feeling!” When you hit that ¼ tank it’s a good idea to start thinking about filling up.
      3. Keep a phone charger in your car. I probably don’t need to offer an explanation here but just do it. Also, those of you that travel, make sure you take one with you, even if it’s a one-day trip. Another experience I had was driving out of D.C. on 9/11, where I was supposed to be for a day trip, and that charger certainly came in handy.
      4. Wear a coat or at least take it with you in the car. I know I sound like a cranky old lady here but take your coat if it’s cold, just in case. Wear shoes, too. Is it really that hard? You just never know when your car is going to break down and there’s nothing worse than needing to walk to a gas station with no shoes or jacket.
      5. Just do it. Whatever errand you need to do that you don’t feel like doing, just do it. Waiting until it’s too late and the roads are covered in ice makes it that much harder and the task more Herculean. Procrastination is a vicious killer of productivity and I truly hate that feeling of “oh, I should have done that yesterday/ last week/ a month ago when I had more time.” My butt is sore from all of the times I’ve kicked myself so now I make lists and try to manage my time better.
      6. Go ahead and work out. You may be surrounded by an inch of ice tomorrow and not be able to leave home. This goes with #6 but just go ahead and do it. You’ll be glad you did.

Maybe I was a boy scout in another life but I love the idea of being prepared, as much as I can without becoming obsessed or fearful. Like I said before, there is no way you can be prepared for every possible event in life and if you were there would be no growth, creativity, or innovation. We can all try to learn from these experiences and do what we can to improve ourselves. You can’t control everything in your life and that’s ok.

Just do your best; it’s all anyone can expect. And help your neighbor.

Happy organizing!

Summer Vacation Packing Tips for Maximum Relaxation

beach photoI just got back from a trip and learned some lessons for making life easier while on vacation. These are more unconventional summer travel tips than you’ve probably seen before but I know so many people come back from vacation, especially with their families,  needing to take another vacation to relax. Use these tips to lighten your load and make life easier so you get a chance to really enjoy yourself.

    1. Pack fewer clothes but take an extra pair of underwear. I can’t remember the last time I wore everything that I packed and having less stuff to keep up with lets you relax more. You can buy something to wear if absolutely necessary but extra undies are a great insurance policy.
    2. Use sample sizes and product ends for your toiletries. Personally, I love my Birchbox subscription and use their samples all the time on various trips. It’s fun to try new products and what better time than vacay to experiment with something new? I also love knowing that there is one (or more) less thing to bring back. Ditto for tubes of toothpaste or small lotion bottles that are almost empty. Take them on your trip and leave them because you’re done with them.
    3. Take a smaller purse. A lot of us use large purses on a regular basis because there is so much that we need access to on a daily basis. But you’re on vacation, remember? You still have responsibilities but you probably don’t need to have coupons, checkbook, 5 different pens, 3 different lipsticks, and all of the extra stuff in your bag for this trip. Go through and pull your essentials and put them in a smaller bag. Less stuff = more freedom. 
    4. Use a smaller wallet. Similar to #3, you also probably don’t need all of those store cards and extra credit cards on your trip. Go through your wallet and think seriously about how many cards you need to take with you. Take your insurance card, however, in case of a medical issue. Do take business cards, if you have them; you never know who you may meet!
    5. Take a small tube of sunscreen. You will probably be outside more, even if it’s just sightseeing, since it’s summer so you’ll need to add more sunscreen throughout the day. Nothing ruins a day like sunburn but you don’t have to lug around the family sized bottle all day. Shop the small sizes at Target or WalMart or put some in a travel sized bottle before you leave home.
    6. Use zippy bags to pack small items. A suitcase quickly turns into a mess when you are tossing everything around trying to find what you need. Put small items like socks, bathing suits, underwear, and T-shirts in gallon sized zippy bags to keep your like items together. It’s easier to unpack or keep items together if you are literally living out of your suitcase. This will also keep your clean clothes separate from the dirty ones for your return trip. Plus you never know when you’ll need a sealable bag for a wet bathing suit or seashells.
    7. Pack a few snacks. Take some apples, small bag of nuts, some dried fruit, and a couple of granola bars for travel days or for emergencies. If you are traveling by air, you never know if you’ll have a delay or less than desirable food options so it’s good to take that worry out of your day. If you’re traveling by car, you’ll want to pack more but think healthful and natural for feeling your best. A little advanced planning here helps you proactively deal with potential crankiness due to low blood sugar. Nobody loves the stress associated with travel but a snack will help you to think clearly and not be subjected to bad food that can upset your tummy en route to relaxation.

The key to reducing your stress during vacation is to have fewer things to keep track of and thinking ahead to deal with possible pitfalls. You won’t be prepared for everything but you’ll exercise excellent self care which allows you to be your best self. Don’t burden yourself with more but take pleasure in having less to manage and more time to savor the experience. Oh, and take lots of pictures. 🙂

Happy organizing!