A few days ago I opened up some post from one of my besties to find a postcard of Harry & Meghan and on the back a note saying “This is SO you! In fact it is you!” Intrigued, I opened up a folded cut out article from the Sunday Times Style magazine written by Claudia Winkleman entitled “Can we talk about … THE BEACH” “Oh no” I thought – another reference to my previous Claudia-esque dark hair and big fringe. But I was wrong – this was about Claudia’s tendency to over-pack. And mine!
I was at first encouraged – perhaps Claudia was worse than me – surely she had so many clothes (and ridiculously high heels) that her suitcases would be far more stuffed than mine – do celebs even have to worry about the 23KG (and that’s generous) allowance – and how much capacity does a Louis Vuitton actually have?
But as I read on the messages started to resonate far more than I wanted them to. Particularly worrying given our up and coming trip to Porto was:
“You reassure yourself you won’t panic and suddenly throw in two black-tie dresses, a random leather jacket (absolutely not needed in Portugal in July) and some jewellery you’ve had since your gap year and always take with you and never, ever wear (I’m thinking oversized pink crystal bracelet or overly long turquoise necklace)”
Reading this was becoming very uncomfortable – in the part of my wardrobe sectioned off as “Portugal packing” were 2 cocktail dresses and a very “turquoise” necklace – had Claudia actually been in my house? The article gets worse:
“high heels on holiday are suddenly important – but not the ones you have that won’t cope with the cobblestones in xxx (in my case Ferragudo) – you go onto topshop.com and search for wedges”
This was becoming a painful read – my friend was 100% right. This was me. I long to be a “lighter” packer – I have secret envy for those I see flaunting their tiny carry on cases – but alas I am not – My gym kit and toiletries alone wouldn’t fit in one of those tiny cases. I can’t look when scales reveal the weight of my giant bag (and that’s just for a long weekend) and breathe a sigh of relief when it weighs in at 22.75KG. (And secretly wish I’d packed another kaftan).
And so I am reminded of the wonderful “Gretchen Rubin’s” work again on making and breaking habits. In her book “Better than Before” Gretchen gets us to think about our differences – she poses a number of questions to highlight aspects of our nature that are relevant to our habit formation. One of which is “Am I a simplicity lover or an Abundance lover?” When I read the question I so wanted the answer to be “simplicity”. But simplicity lovers are attracted by the idea of “less” (AKA miniature luggage containers). Why is it then that simplicity is SO attractive to me – longing for my house to be de-cluttered of all the crap I’ve accumulated over the past two decades? Yet I can’t let go of my 12-inch records and books I’ve had since school, not to mention cards and letters family and friends have sent me many moons ago. My kitchen cupboards are stacked with gadgets I might need one day (I’ve not flambed one thing in my life but the blow torch remains).
So what do these differences or distinctions tell us about ourselves? Well as Gretchen suggests they can form the basis of our habits (good and bad) and understanding what these differences are can help us make sense of them. If we want to change a habit, then first we must know ourselves. When we shape our habits to suit ourselves, we can find success, even if we failed before. Gretchen says that habits are the invisible architecture of our everyday lives – and I think she is right – the trick is knowing whether it’s a positive habit or a negative one – I’d like to think that over-packing is pretty neutral – I get to travel with the confidence I am wardrobe-ready for every occasion even if I bring half of it back unworn!
And so lovely people, I wish you all happy packing wherever you are off to – rest assured if I meet you on my travels and you invite me to spend a day on your gin palace of a boat, or at a favourite Michelin starred restaurant or hanging out at a beach festival – I will have the perfect outfit for it – or will I? The reality is I would probably feel I’d left the perfect outfit at home!
The Abundance Lover!