Travel Happy: Minimalist Packing for Chamonix, France

The countdown to our French winter adventure has begun! A good friend is turning 40 and him and his wife wanted to celebrate in style…in France! Did I mention this good friend makes delicious wine, lived and studied in the Rhone Valley and has a mentor that will be throwing us a decadent wine dinner? Yeah, sign me up for that!

So the question of what to pack has arose. This is a trip where we will combine wine tasting in the Northern Rhone region of France, near Malleval, and skiing Mont Blanc in Chamonix. Two very different vibes – both equally amazing!

Having checked the luggage policy for Lufthansa, I found out we were allowed one carry on and one checked bag (we are flying economy class – got almost free tickets using our WellsFargo business CC points!). Because we will have our skis (putting them in one bag so it’s considered one checked!) Mike and I will have to share a bag. This is really not a problem, as I’m used to packing minimalistically for long trips. I didn’t even check a bag for our ten day trip to Portugal!  The weather will be a bit on the warmer side in Malleval (50’s) where we will spend the first 4 days,  and colder in Chamonix (20’s-40’s) where we’ll spend 5 days, with snow in the forecast, yay! But, dang, what to pack! Plus, it’s France, so I have to be presentable…..

With all of that considered, I put together a simple, classic, yet practical wardrobe that checks all the boxes. The first thing to consider: outerwear. I’m hoping we’ll do some hiking/walking in both Malleval & Chamoix, so needed warm, yet functional footwear. On the opposite end, we’ll be walking around historical sites, tasting wine, being very French, so need an easy (but cute) walking shoe. And with the chance of snow, have to bring the cute hats! I choose the below, and planned my color scheme around these colors: tan, navy blue, black, grey.

I’m bringing three hats – one beret, one ski cap, one furry flap hat – and mittens that will match it all. The sporty, yet cute Cole Haan boot will be worn on the trails and the slip ons pack beautifully – and are comfy!

I then thought about our time in Malleval, France…..touring the quaint villages, dining in French cafes, sipping French wine, hiking in Pilat National Park, getting wined and dined with Pierre Gaillard. And the weather would be mild – so I opted for skirts and dresses, all having layering options.

Next, I picked pants – one pair of jeans and two yoga pants – that I could dress up or down and all could be worn with interchangeable tops. And layering with a shawl or poncho – of which I was bringing three  (a grey, creme and a olive green one) – would keep me warm.

And the rest was easy – ski clothes (that I’d wear multiple days, sorry crew!) a bathing suite (hoping to hit some hot springs!) and toiletries, undergarments and pjs.

I’m beyond excited to explore the Rhone Valley, French Alps, and everywhere in between. And I’ll have packed for any and all adventures we encounter!

Bon Voyage!

My Aunt Chris, The Dragon Lady

Chrissy wanted to be where the wild things were….

Something mystical surrounded her…..a magic covering of sorts, that would envelop you when close to her.

And she always pulled you in close…

The concrete world held little for her – she sought relief in the sun, took solace near the everglades, letting the palms hug her near. Though she melted into this tropical paradise, she was never reclusive….

She took those she loved into the jungle…..where beasts howled for her, were tamed by her presence, and followed her home.

She invited us into her adventure…..unlocking her treasure trove, so we could drip with her jewels, playing in the shadows of the foreign lands she had visited. These borrowed treasures never felt as such – it was as if they were our own.

This vine enveloped world she created extended far, reaching all the way to the north, and we craved to be in her world. A world where mermaids swam above her, where Dragons circled round her, drawn to her fiery being, snuggling their scaly bodies close to her warmth.

Her magic traveled near and far, captured with brush strokes, woven into fabric her loved ones would wrap around themselves when the cold crept in. The sun and Florida moon could be felt in these gifts. Her well of mystique ran deep, rooted in histories uncovered by her curiosity. She must have heard whale songs and train whistles, for she told the history of those who came before us clear as day.

Her credo was clear: Are you spending each day in a way that makes you happy? If not, make a new plan and change your life.

She embodied this, lived her way, loved and gave with every color in her soul. And now, she gets to swim among the creatures she brought to life for the rest of us. Gets to roam  and be Where the Wild things are.

 

To my aunt Chris, who gave with all of herself to those she loved. May you rest in peace and be forever happy.

5 Things to do instead of Complaining

There’s been a lot on my plate lately – professional changes, things not going exactly as planned, needing to pivot and scrap plans without much notice, hard decisions having to be made with which direction to head in.  But even as I type this out, the voice inside my head says very calmly, “that’s life, that’s work.” And isn’t it true? Whether you horribly love your current situation or currently despise it, there will always be ups and downs, things to complain about, obsess over, stress about. If you let things build up and don’t take action.

Hear me out….this isn’t a unicorn and rainbows rant about loving wherever you are in the journey and seeing the good in every situation. Ok, maybe it is, but here’s what I would suggest instead of festering over it, complaining incessantly about it or worse, letting it take over your life. Take action on it. Make a plan to conquer the complaints with concrete steps forward. And be honest with yourself about these things. Often times I’ll think, well I’m just venting…only to catch myself talking about the same thing over and over in my head, to a friend or Mike (who will call me on it every time). I’ve come to the realization over the past few years that being honest with yourself about the items you’re mulling over is really the first step – and once you’re there you can take action. Sounds so easy in theory…I’m saying this mostly to myself, who has felt lost a bit lately, overwhelmed and anxious in some of my current situations. Here’s what I’d suggest you do (and what I am in the process of doing):

  1. Write them down. Think about all of the concrete things in your current situation that are getting on your last nerve. List them out on a notepad, in a column or spreadsheet. Getting them out of your head, in black and white will often stop the swirl and allow you to see them as actual things to be dealt with, as opposed to concepts that you keep brushing aside.
  2. Solution brainstorming. Once you have your list of complaints, think about solutions; real, tactical things you can do to improve the situation. Example: Problem: It’s so loud in my workspace, I can’t get any work done! Solutions to Try: Bring in headphones to listen to music, move your space (if possible), have an actual conversation with your co-workers about the noise. MIND BLOWN!
  3. Begin each day with gratitude. Last year I read the book The Power of Less by Leo Babauta that spoke about bringing a gratitude practice into your day. When I sit down in the morning and write out three things I’m grateful for, my thoughts are now pointed on a positive trajectory. It’s such a simple exercise that has immediate and lasting impact.
  4. Get outside. When I’m in a yuck mood, or just spinning in the same direction over the same problem, I literally need to get outside as soon as possible to be in the open. Movement allows stagnant energy to get shaken up. While this may not solve any problems, it puts my headspace in the right place to handle the situation calmly and often will give me a new perspective.
  5. Remove yourself from the situation. Let’s be honest, sometimes the one thing you can do to improve a situation is to leave it. Knowing when this point has been reached can be tricky.  A few signs I’ve come to recognize include losing sleep, self-doubt, and arriving at the same unpleasant outcome, despite different approaches. This step can seem like giving up, especially if you don’t have a post-situation plan. I’d caution that getting to this step should be work; you have given a valiant effort towards making things work, they haven’t, so you have made steadfast steps to improve your situation by moving on.

 

Hope these steps are useful – I have to remind myself of them every now and then!

Happy Action to You!