Too Many ClothesI first noticed that I was feeling stressed about attending my first TEDActive conference about a week before I was scheduled to leave. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, TEDActive is the younger, hipper, less-expensive live simulcast version of the full TED conference. This year it was held in La Quinta, CA, just outside of Palm Springs, while TED was happening in Long Beach. If you want to know what the conference was like, read this post, who had an experience very similar to mine. You can win some of the swag I brought home, too.

My stress took several forms: upset stomach, worry about whether I would have enough to eat, and thinking I needed to go shopping. I am not a shopper by nature, as evidenced by the lack of fashion or style tips found on this blog. My work-from-home wardrobe consists mainly of comfortable long-sleeved Prana knit shirts and jeans that fit my skinny flat butt.

So fitting in a shopping trip before a week away at a conference was unusual for me… more unusual was which store I felt I needed to get to: Thrift Trader. This is the store where I found that infamous red dress. I pictured myself going to Thrift Trader and finding all these cool groovy clothes to bring to the conference.


Me, sans Spanks, after my roommate Angela told me to pitch them and be comfortable

Weirder still was finding myself in a dressing room at Thrift Trader trying on a long skirt made up of colored suede circles crocheted together. Super-cool, like nothing else in my closet, definitely a “notice me” piece… and the first piece of leather clothing I have considered buying since going plant-based nearly 3 years ago.

I passed on the groovy suede skirt, and the long silver Indian-style skirt and the embellished jeans and several tops that didn’t fit, and found myself wearing this dress by BCGC/Max Azria. Very cute and Palm Springs-y. But it would require not only the red-dress-Spanx, but also a trip to the underwear store for a white camisole to wear underneath. Did it make sense to buy this dress, which could only be worn with such specific undergarment support, in a hot climate… just to impress… who exactly?

Fifteen years of therapy comes in handy at times like these. While I might not have been able to completely wipe out my social anxiety, I was absolutely aware it was driving this shopping trip. I recognized that my anxiety about fitting in was leading me to clothing outside my normal comfort zone, clothing that also didn’t go with the rest of my life. As the dress was only ten bucks I picked it up, and the camisole, and that was that.

Except that it wasn’t. I was still anxious as it got closer. I fired off yet another email asking whether they remembered I was both vegan and gluten-free. I started worrying about what to pack. I had an enormous to-do list that week: a workshop to prepare for, other work, posts to write, the puppy to get organized. Packing, like shopping, is not something I normally worry about. I travel so much I have a packing routine that takes under an hour. I choose a palette—one color plus black—and arrange each day’s outfit out on the bed. Each top and pant is worn at least twice and I take no more than two pairs of shoes. It’s efficient and stress-free. Except it wasn’t.

I was pacing around the house, pulling out my cutest, hippest, coolest clothes (a very small number of items), none of which went together, all of which required different shoes. I couldn’t decide and it was getting closer and closer to time to leave, so I started jamming it all in the bag. And then I realized it wouldn’t fit.

Finally The Husband took pity on my pacing and asked me what was going on. I blurted out the first thing that popped into my head, “I want to look cool.” Of course… this was first-day-of-middle school all over again. This was packing for food blogger camp in Mexico all over again. I was going to TED! (Well, TED-lite.) I was massively insecure, and taking it out on my suitcase.

In the end, I had to take everything out of my suitcase, edit myself down to teal and black, and start over. I still ended up with 5 pairs of shoes, which is insane.

Too many shoes

I have never in my life brought five pairs of shoes on a trip

And what did I end up wearing? My long-sleeved black t-shirt and the jeans that fit my skinny flat butt.

Have you ever stressed out about packing?

Today’s post is part of our mission to help you rebuild your health through food and lifestyle choices. Look for posts on Mondays featuring gluten-free, sugar-free recipes made with healthy plant-based ingredients, Tuesday reviews, Wednesday essays, Thursday how-to’s, and Friday giveaways (when available).