Image used under Creative Commons: Birthday Cake by Will Clayton

It’s the roamantics’ birthday! It’s hard to believe it was two full years ago that I leapt out of bed in the middle of the night and purchased the domain that would turn into this site…but not right away. The best of intentions turned into three short posts the following week to family and friends during a trip to Vietnam, and then…silence. But then one year ago, on July 14, 2010, I started blogging regularly, through what’s been a hugely transformative year in my life and the life of this blog.

So when Mike and Lucy from 1000 Places to Fight Before You Die nominated me to participate in Tripbase’s My 7 Links project, I thought it would be a great way to celebrate the past year and highlight some older posts that new readers may have missed.

Tripbase asks each blogger who participates, to provide a link to a post for each of seven categories they’ve chosen. I’m mixing it up just a little by changing the order I list them in, so that readers will travel through these posts in chronological order, getting little snippets of this year of my life and blog as things happened. Just click on the post titles below to read each.

So since it’s a birthday party, let’s get the party started with a post about my birthday suit shall we?

A post you feel didn’t get the attention it deserved

First Nude Solo Getaway- Conquering a Fear

I had this experience during the one-month separation leading up to my split with my partner of ten years, and I’ll be writing more on this in future posts. I felt this one could have received a little more “exposure” don’t you? ;)


Your most helpful post

How to get a Good, Safe Tattoo Abroad

My ex and I took a trip to Rarotonga in September and it inspired me to write this detailed how-to. I’m proud to call it a must-read for anyone considering ink.


A post whose success surprised you

Out of the Mouths of Babes: Travel Lessons

There’s a saying that goes “No man is a friend, no man is an enemy, every man is a teacher.” I learned a few things from some tiny “men” in my life during my separation, and it was a hit.


Your most beautiful post

Squatting in Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Having just split, this post was a birthday tribute to a happier birthday past. I chose it as most beautiful for the sentiment, the writing, and the photos.


The post that you are most proud of

And Then There Was One

I’m most proud of this post on so many levels. First, I’m proud that I had the courage to change the course of my life after ten years when I was deeply enmeshed but it wasn’t working anymore. Second, I started this blog because I wanted to get over my intense fear of putting my solo creativity on display, as I’d avoided doing so by being a creative collaborator my whole life. With this post, I took my boldest creative leap ever (to me) at the most emotionally difficult time possible. I’m proud of that! Third, I’m proud of the blogging community & readers for demonstrating what incredibly supportive, compassionate, thoughtful, inspirational, and kind people you are through the comments on it. So glad to be among you!

Your most popular post

Cute + Green = Creen! Buying a Creen House on Wheels

Newly single, I cooked up a plan for my first big solo adventure, an epic road trip with an eco-minded, minimalist twist… and the support for my tiny new life was huge!


Your most controversial post

The Vancouver Riot- Thoughts and Photos

I don’t really write extremely controversial posts, but on my first stop on my road trip, I experienced a massive riot that had me reflecting on how negative experiences can color our perceptions of places. For some the riot did that, for me…


It was quite a year. I learned how to tweet, to make a blog, endured a breakup of a long-term marriage, made genuine friends, learned from, got inspired by and processed through this blog, received and offered support, overcame enormous fears through it, sold everything, made a new home on wheels, and now I’ve started sharing my biggest dreams in life- I’ve taken off to travel indefinitely with this blog. I can’t wait to see what roam antics this year holds and I really hope you’ll stick around to find out as I do. We’re just getting started! Now let’s eat some cake while these awesome bloggers I’m nominating put together their 7 links. Cheers and Thanks so much!

Locationless

One Step 4ward

35 Summers

A Cruising Couple

Quirky Travel Guy

I’d wanted to downsize my life for a while. I don’t know what it was about becoming a homeowner. Maybe the knowledge that belongings would more likely accumulate rather than get thinned out every few years during future moves. Or maybe it was all of the eco-friendly renovations and the knowledge that came with them. Whatever the reason, by the time I decided to take my round the world trip, my belongings were starting to nag at me.  And once I’d determined that I was taking that trip solo, I knew that by the time I left, I would have far fewer material possessions.

When I moved out in January, I left most of the furniture without a second thought. The vintage telephone table I’d scoured shops, antique fairs, and Craigslist for months to find. The limited edition art deco coffee table I’d managed to get a screaming deal on. The 100% natural latex mattress with the organic cotton and wool cover that I’d fought to make a priority. I left them all and much of the contents of our 2.5 bedroom house…and I was ready to.

But right then, when I was giving up so much- my house, stuff, partner, and the neighborhood I loved, I wasn’t ready to give up everything. My music collection-the records- many of which I’d had since I was in elementary school, my books- I even had my Judy Blume books- all the material evidence of my life that I’d managed to hold onto in spite of moving at least every three years for my whole life. I couldn’t decide what to keep and what to get rid of while dealing with grief.

So instead, I went through every piece of paperwork in the house, shredded anything I didn’t have to keep, and recycled it. I went to local liquor stores and got a bunch of used beer boxes to pack my things, and moved everything I wanted to deal with later to my friend’s garages. And that was grueling enough.

But it seemed that minimalism took on a life of it’s own. Like if I wasn’t going to deal with my stuff, it was going to deal with me. During one rainstorm, my friend Josh’s garage ceiling collapsed and while none of my stuff was destroyed, it did need cleaning up, and couldn’t be put back. Less than two weeks later, in a separate storm, Leslie’s garage flooded and boxes of my books and some clothes were ruined. I got the message. I couldn’t just park this stuff, take off, and come back to deal with it later like I’d started to think I might. Hmm…

So when Leslie suggested the yard sale date of April 30th, what would have been my 5-year wedding/10-years together anniversary, I was ready…ish. In an attempt to do better than yard sale prices, I listed items on Craigslist with photos the week leading up to the sale. I took my books to a used bookstore called Moe’s in Berkeley. I sold my vintage/used clothes and shoes to resellers Mercy Vintage in Piedmont, Crossroads Trading Co., and Buffalo Exchange. I may have made more money selling on Ebay, but I wanted to avoid items being shipped (not as green, although you can buy carbon off-sets). Fortunately, I’d already made a pretty penny while knowing my stuff would have more local life, before yard sale day even came.

It took three yard sales on a busy street (Leslie’s) in Oakland, individual item Craigslist ads linking to yard sale posts, and amazing friends, neighbors, and strangers, for nearly all my stuff to sell. In the end I donated all of my leftover books to the Longfellow Community Association (a neighborhood group I co-founded with Leslie) for their White Elephant Sale this summer. I sold all my leftover CDs and cassettes to a music store, Rasputin in Berkeley, and donated leftover clothing and miscellaneous items to Goodwill. I used a drop box and donated all my underwear, socks, things that can’t be re-worn by others and usually get thrown out to USAgain- a for-profit business that sells them to textile recyclers for use as filling. All of my empty, already recycled boxes were put in the recycle bin or given to a friend for her move.

With everything out of both my friend’s garages, I spent the last week before my June 8th departure going through every single thing I had left and vetting it for importance. Most of what I now own is important paperwork, things from my Grandmother, and printed photos, and a few things I just didn’t have time to recycle properly as my conference deadline loomed. Knowing I had too much to ship and store at my Mom’s, I hunted for the smallest, most eco-friendly storage unit I could find. I was so excited to find that Point Richmond Self-Storage, in Richmond, CA., not only had the smallest, most affordable units – 4’w x 3’d x 4’h lockers- but that they are also powered by solar electricity. The owners also are partners in other facilities in other parts of the U.S.

Me, in front of my locker, in my Together for Japan t-shirt

I feel pretty happy with the approach I took and the voraciousness with which I downsized. I feel lighter and am happy knowing that others are enjoying the things I was ready to let go of, and very little, if anything, ended up in the landfill. My one regret is that I couldn’t find a more eco-friendly, waterproof (I’ve learned my lesson!) alternative to the two 22-gallon plastic tubs I’m using to store my most treasured items. My goal is to return to the Bay Area between my road trip and international trip and scan all my photos and paperwork to further reduce my footprint, and then move that extremely tiny footprint to my Mom’s place while I travel the world…lightly. :)

me, with everything I own that's not along for the road trip

Have suggestions for living and traveling lighter? More eco-friendly? Waterproof alternatives to plastic tubs? Love your comments as always! :)

I can’t tell you how many times while traveling, I’m surprised by the inability to find tampons.  I’m there, in some fantastic tropical locale, trying to enjoy some beach time and “Aunt Flo(w) pays a visit”.  I stop into the local convenience, grocery, market, pharmacy, peruse the isles and finally hit the area where such things live, only to find that in this place, “such things” are pads…and they just aren’t for me.

You’re right, I could probably plan ahead a little better, but when you like to pack as light as I do, you’re bound to make a few assumptions about what you can leave “here” in favor of buying “there.”  The problem is that what gear is available to take care of your monthly visitor can be culture-bound and influenced by a broad range of things such as local religion, customs, and access.

So what’s a girl to do when you’ve sufficiently embarrassed enough local women on the road with questions and gestures to learn your lesson, but you still want to pack light?  You can do yourself and the earth a favor and eco your Aunt Flo(w)!

I’m talking about a little gem called the menstrual cup.  These little numbers are made of medical-grade silicone or organic natural gum rubber, and there’s a good argument for switching to them no matter what type of product you currently use, and whether you’re abroad or at home.

Longer use- up to 12 hours
Less in the landfill- Billions of tons of pads and tampons are dumped into landfills each year, while menstrual cups are reusable
Save money- women in the U.S. spend approx. $150-200 annually on pads & tampons, while a reusable menstrual cup is $35 or less and can last up to 10 years
Eco & woman friendly- most models are phthalate-free, plastic-free and BPA-free, and if you’re allergic to latex, you can choose a latex-free model

Check out the literature and see if one’s right for you. You may be able to reduce, reuse, recycle and pack a little something that will ensure you’re always good to go and prepared for Aunt Flo(w).

Learn more-

DivaCup
The Keeper & Keeper Mooncup
Lunette
Miacup

© 2011 the roamantics. header photos by alegre rivas Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha