Modesty Is Bullsh*t

We often mistake modesty for humility, and although they have similar definitions, one is authentic, while the other is not.

I was very lucky to have a mother who believed I could do anything — literally anything. Only and if I wanted it bad enough. My father reminded me often of my worth. He lifted me up while also making me tough. I wasn’t really taught modesty, like many of my peers. I wasn’t taught not to brag. I wasn’t taught not to be self-centered, or not to be self-indulgent.

Instead, I was taught to not only notice but also value my accomplishments. I was taught to be self-aware and honest. And, most of all, to cultivate and protect my happiness and well-being. Although indirectly, my parents helped me realize that modesty is by far the most false and unwise attribute you could use to sell yourself.

I never once questioned if I could ever, or would ever, earn the title of “writer”. I didn’t concern myself with the deep implications of this seemingly logical term to describe the practice I do often — write. I write — I am a writer. It’s not rocket science. Modesty is stupid.

It’s not only stupid, it’s manipulative and needy.

It’s a false crutch. It’s a way of saying: I’m insecure! The thing is, it takes great bravery to say, “Yes, I am good at this; I am good at writing” because there will always be someone, who is less secure about themselves, that will say, “Hey! You’re taking up too much space in the room; you’re too big — who do you think you are?” And that stings.

But, what is it you’re supposed to say? That you aren’t sure of yourself? That you are terrible?

That’s silly. The game of modesty is silly. Recognizing your strengths is not bragging. If you wrote an A+ piece, more than likely, you worked hard. Your hard work paid off. You did a good job — that was the entire point, wasn’t it?

But then you realize that you’re simply celebrating your victories — the ones you worked hard to accomplish. You’re doing this because it is more productive than sulking, whining, and marinading in failure.

Insecure people will always want to make you smaller,

and you shouldn’t take that personally. Find and seek comfort in your power, in your strengh, and in the energy that you possess. Celebrate your life force, shine bright, and be colorful.

Humility, on the other hand, is simply living honestly. It is being “real”.

Humility is admitting that no one gets to their destination alone. We all had help.

But, that doesn’t mean we didn’t work hard. That doesn’t mean we didn’t fight tooth and nail. That doesn’t mean that hard work doesn’t pay off — because, at the end of the day, nothing pays off more.

All humility means is that we’ve developed self-awareness. We know what we do well, and we know what it is we could work on. We are honest about our strengths and our weaknesses.

Sometimes you’re good. Sometimes you suck. Sometimes you’re brilliant. Sometimes you’re foolish.

And, you know what, when you start becoming comfortable with your strengths, you also start becoming comfortable with your weaknesses. Eventually, you want others to point them out — you want to improve. Why? Because you believe in yourself and you trust others. You want to be better for yourself and those around you. Don’t be modest. It’s bullsh*t.

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Where Do We Go From Here

Blogging is such an intimate act, isn’t it? Sure, it is hugely public, but there are many eyes that do not engage their keyboards. In no way am I asking you to – if fact, apart from my blog, I really don’t engage with others – especially not bloggers, but perhaps I, and you, should start. What’s interesting is I am fully aware that I am talking directly to people who are reading, but I am still sort of talking to myself, for myself.

I truly can’t say what direction I’m going in with this blog. I haven’t a clue what the future holds for us. In truth, I started this huge project on a whim because I needed something to throw myself at. You’ll soon discover that I throw myself into a creative project whenever I am in a crisis. And, this is, in fact, the result of that. Believe me, I was hardly prepared for the work ahead, but today, even though I am far from reaching my writing, blogging, and publishing goals, I am immensely proud of myself.

I initiated this very firm plan of focusing specifically on minimalist and frugal living, with a focus on urban cities such as New York City, but alas, my life is so much more than that. Yes, I am food-stamp receiving coupon-clipping human. Yes, I get a thrill when sifting through crates of hardcover books at the Salvation Army. But, I am also heavily interested in politics and culture. I spent the last year gaming somewhat competitively in a very popular MMORPG. But most importantly, writing is my life. I live a writer’s life and have lived it since the age of 13. Being confined to a “themed” blog was painful at times. I wanted to write poetry. I wanted to share my life without using nice words. I wanted to write all of the things I am publishing on this blog now.

I have a few blog posts lined up for the rest of the month. The next post will probably be in dedication to my husband. He and I are celebrating our 3 year wedding anniversary this month and I’d like to write a little something about that. This year, I have officially known him for half of my life. Isn’t that just insane? Especially at such a young age? We met 13 years ago, gosh, probably more like 14 years ago. I can’t even begin to tell you how blessed we are to have each other. Life is hard, and it’s nice to have someone to share the burden.  He is much more than a lover or a friend, he is an ally, which is a bigger word than most realize.

In the future, I’m hoping to gain the courage to be real, to be raw, to display the fact that, yeah, there is a real person behind the scenes, with a life equally as terrifying as yours. To those reading quietly from the sidelines, I appreciate you and I hope you stick around. And, please, know that I am always ready to engage. If you choose to connect, I will listen, and be grateful for it.

See you in the next post,

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Technology Sabbat: The Practice of Unplugging

There Is Something Significant At Work Here

The author of Brain Power: From Neurons to Networks, Tiffany Shlain has a lot to say about the impact of technology and social media. She warns us of how constant connectivity can impact our lives, our relationships, and our culture, for both good and bad. As a Millennial, my generation participated in the shift of technology – from Yahoo! chat rooms and AOL instant messaging, to the social media empire we know today, such as Facebook. I have a clear memory of before and after the internet came alive. Today, most of us are always connected. We’re always plugged in. That’s because we carry tiny pocket-sized computers with us everywhere. Shlain doesn’t necessarily believe, like some others, that technology is going to somehow be the downfall of civilization, but I think we all can recognize that there is something significant at work here. We are quite literally existing in such a different way than we did even a decade ago.

The Good & The Bad

When you think of the internet, what do you see? I see an extension of ourselves. The internet is all of our brains talking at once. It’s complicated, yes, but still quite extraordinary, don’t you think? Every time we’re on it, information is being sent to us and processed. Most of the time, unintentionally. This is occurring all of the time – every time you scroll through your Twitter feed you’re being influenced. This can be both a good thing and a bad thing. Why is that? Because humans are both good and bad. You can learn anything – anything at all, on the internet. On the other hand, not all of our ideas are particularly useful or beneficial. Yet, everything we share, we consume. Even more importantly, the internet, and being plugged in constantly, puts us in a state of constant focus and distraction. I think we’re pointing fingers at the wrong entity when blaming the internet. The internet isn’t bad. The issue, as Shlain proposes, is that we don’t know how to turn it off.

Technology Sabbat

I used to think that I was a little more detached than the average technology consumer – simply because I was not particularly entranced by the idea of having the most recent iPhone or using Snapchat. Instead, I spent all of the time at home on the internet. For a few years after college, I found myself in quite a post-grad rut, which is far from uncommon. Job prospects were few and far between, and I had lost sight of my goals. I struggled to find the discipline required to put in work for various creative projects. Frankly, I spent a lot of time not doing the work and a lot of time sitting in front of the computer scrolling through Facebook. Pulling away was harder than I expected it to be, and I noticed real side effects to being constantly plugged in. I felt detached from real life and the world around me, and more often than not, lonely. For years, I knew it would be impossible for me to get my life back without taking a true hiatus from the online world. `

This is where the idea of Technology Sabbat comes into play. If you’re not yet familiar, Sabbat is the seventh day of the Jewish week, also known as the day of rest. The concept of Sabbat is once a week, for a day, our brains, and our souls, are reset. We turn everything off and allow ourselves to truly rest. For us, that would mean for one day, perhaps a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, we turn off our cell phones, our TVs, and our computers, and we tune into the world and people around us.

For the last month and a half, I haven’t had the internet at my home, not particularly by choice, but through this new challenge, I gained insight into what really mattered to me. And, in a lot of ways, I finally gained my life back. I am beginning to notice things – life happening all around me. I am grounded, level-headed, focused, and motivated. As a creative, I believe it may have actually saved my life, or at the very least, my creative life.

Plugging Back In

When you do finally plug back in, be mindful. Be mindful of who and what you let into your stream of consciousness. Everything you consume – that tweet, that meme, all of it influences your thoughts and inevitably your behaviors. So, take that as a warning to curate the content in front of you. Choose carefully those you follow. Additionally, be aware of the purpose you’re there, and keep this purpose in mind while using social media. Consider why you’re using it, what your intentions are, and what good (or bad) it is doing for you. It may also prove helpful to set boundaries on how, why, and when to use social media. Some questions you can ask yourself is: Does this content add value to my life or the lives of others? Is it true? Is it helpful, useful, or insightful? Am I looking for validation – is there value or purpose in sharing this experience? Am I bored? Is there something more purposeful I could be spending my time doing? Am I lonely? Have I reached out to loved ones today? Am I using social media compulsively, mindlessly, or consciously?

Our relationship with technology is indeed a complex one, and it affects us all differently. If you’re feeling less in control, consider unplugging for or a day, or a week, or a month. Remember that we can control how social media influences our lives, and it is up to us to determine how we benefit or suffer, from plugging back in.

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Hey! I’m Back!

After spending a few short hours fiddling with my domain – stupidly, I must add (then having to call tech support to prevent the damage I was mindlessly causing) …I’m back!

It has been nearly seven months since I logged into my WordPress blog, and I regret neglecting it for so long. Let’s be honest, running a blog is a lot of work, and let’s just say, the first half of 2017 wasn’t exactly friendly to me – hence why I haven’t been around.

Regardless, I am happy to be back, and I am ready to write. Which is frankly, all that matters anyway!

Surely, over time, bits and pieces of my story will begin seeping out from my blog posts, and the bigger picture will emerge. Doesn’t it always? We always try to control how much of our real life bleeds out into our writing, but it never works.

Believe it or not, I’m actually living more minimally today than at any point while I was contributing to this blog – just not entirely by choice. All of my belongings fit in all but two items of luggage. Can you believe that?

In addition to that, I’m excited to share that I am reading more, and in turn, WRITING more, which is the biggest victory of all.

I truly can not wait to share with you all what I’ve been up to! I’ve sunk my toes into Hub Pages, danced around at Medium, and have had a ball branching out into content writing and journalism. Reading poetry, writing really bad poetry, loving memoirs, and staying up late. I feel kind rebellious, to be honest. 😉

Dear Followers and Subscribers,

Thank you for sticking around. At some point, while I was gone, I broke the 20,000 subscriber mark, and I have to admit, I’m humbled by your loyalty – I just wish I’ve had something to show for it. Your inbox has been empty, I know, and I’m sorry! For those who recently came on board, I hope you stick around as well, and I, of course, hope to not disappoint.

As for the future of MIM, at this point, I am simply creating it. I’m letting MIM create itself.

 

 

Let’s see where we can go. Let’s hold tightly to the magic that dances under our keyboards and at the tip of our pens.

See you in the comments section, friends.

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BLOGMAS Day #2 // Hallmark Holiday

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Christmas, once a sacred holy day, and arguably an ancient pagan tradition, may now seem like nothing more than a Hallmark Holiday. This is nothing short of the hard truth.

Hallmark holiday” is a term used predominantly in the United States to describe a holiday that is perceived to exist primarily for commercial purposes, rather than to commemorate a traditionally or historically significant event. (wikipedia.org)

However, even the commercialized, capitalistic, consumerist nature of my FAVORITE holiday is STILL founded on what I would consider good moral values. Heck, I’ll say it – I’m not even religious!

Trying to steer clear of *controversial topics here* *obviously that ship sailed 3 paragraphs ago* 

Despite this fact, I have humanist values that go hand-in-hand with the meaning of Christmas; which is altruism, humanitarianism, and social consciousness. Yes, we *do* throw mountains of money at big corporations during this time of year, but we often do it for others in the form of gift-giving. Although my goals are minimalist-focused, I recognize that a lot of the money spent by others during the holidays is meant well and often unselfish.

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I’m keeping today’s Blogmas post short and sweet (because I clearly over-wrote yesterday. LOL.) This is more of a conversation opener – an invitation for discussion. I’m genuinely curious about what you folks think! What are your thoughts on the consumerist nature of Christmas and how does that effect (or not even a little bit) how you spend the holidays?

Wanna read another Blogmas post? You can find them all here.

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BLOGMAS DAY #1 // Holiday Bucket List

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I was following the pack
All swaddled in their coats
With scarves of red tied ’round their throats
To keep their little heads
From fallin’ in the snow
And I turned ’round and there you go
And, Michael, you would fall
And turn the white snow red as strawberries
In the summertime
— White Winter Hymnal, Fleet Foxes

OK, so, it’s pretty damn obvious I am OBSESSED with Christmas. I don’t know when or why or how or what the heck happened (obviously my Mother sprinkled Christmas fairy dust in my crib when no one was looking…) but I’m GOSH DARN JOLLY at this time of year.

The fact that I am now living in NYC makes it so much more exciting because there really is no place better to spend the holidays than in NYC. The city of lights turns into the city of Christmas lights and asdfghjkl, it’s magical. There is so much about Christmas that I love, but I won’t write 17 million paragraphs about it right now or I won’t have any content left for the rest of Blogmas…so let’s just start with Day #1, shall we?

For today’s post, I will be writing down my holiday bucket list for 2016. There really is so much I want to do this year – I’d like to do some things I’ve put off year after year, while I’d also like to revisit some traditions. Of course, I went on PINTEREST (Jesus Christ, why?) and basically further elongated my list. However, I want this bucket list to be more like a list of goals – attainable and practical goals.

// Bucket List //

1. COMPLETE BLOGMAS
Ugh, I’m so bad with monthly challenges. I’m usually fine for the first week (I’m lying, I don’t get past day #4), then like the pleb I am, I completely fall off the bandwagon. Routine isn’t my friend. Legit, I WILL set an alarm if I need to. We’re getting these posts done! To make it easier for everyone to follow my Blogmas posts, I will add a link at the end of each post.

And, seriously, to the ones who already completed Blogmas in November, or August because you’re nuts (because you’re responsible)…HOW ARE YOU LIKE THIS?

2. ATTEND A HOLIDAY MARKET
So far, I have 3 pop-up markets in mind: Jingle @ Chelsea Market, Union Square Holiday Market, and Bryant Park’s Winter Village. I have never been to any of these events, but have been wanting to go to them for quite some time. From what I know, the Chelsea Market pop-up includes live music, Union Square’s Holiday Market offers tons of homemade gifts, and the Bryant Park market showcases new decor each year, as well as FREE ice skating and a tree-lighting event! All of these markets are very easy to travel to via public transportation which is a big plus.

3. SEND A WRITTEN LETTER TO LOVED ONES + HOLIDAY TEA BAG
Because I am so far away from family and friends, I don’t usually purchase and wrap gifts. In the occasion that I do buy gifts, I will order something online and ship it directly (because I’m lazy). This year, however, I want to take the time to actually write a letter to loved ones (my best friend, parents, and grandparents) and include these holiday tea bag(s) with my letters – a tradition I’d like to adopt from my Grandparents.

4. DIY CHRISTMAS CARDS, TREES, AND SNOWFLAKES
In addition to writing letters, I’d also like to dabble in DIY printables, including Christmas cards (for the letters), trees, and snowflakes to tape on the walls around the apartment because it’s cheaper and frankly, a lot cuter than buying any kind of decor!

5. BUY A SMALL HOLIDAY POTTED PLANT
When I lived at home, one of my favorite parts of Christmas was picking up a tree from Lowes with my parents and decorating it. Unfortunately, now I like in a 750 square box in Manhattan! We just don’t have space for a tree. *sobs* Not to mention, I have a cat who is absolutely fascinated with Christmas trees and would probably knock it over hundreds of times! I noticed the flower shop down the street just brought out these tiny potted ferns that are just too cute to pass up!! Not to mention, the money we’ll save! A little plant I can take care of that costs $5 beats a gigantic tree that costs $60 (don’t forget the tree skirt, ornaments and cat repellent!) Fact of the matter is, a Christmas tree is an expensive investment.

6. HOST A CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY
This is something I knew I wanted to do since Halloween. It’s just a matter of figuring out what I’m going to send! I want to include an extra-special written letter, and “stocking stuffer” type goodies – candies, holiday stickers, and maybe a few holiday-inspired beauty, body or home products! I have tons of ideas including mittens, fuzzy Christmas socks, lipstick, nail polish, candles, and candy canes. I’m not going to pretend this isn’t self-advertisement and exposure for my blog, because YES MARY, is it.

7. BUY A PLANNER AND JOURNAL FOR 2017
If I’m going to take 2017 by storm, I’m going to need to be prepared. If there is one thing I’ve learned about myself over recent years it’s that I am most productive when I write things down…and by things, I mean EVERYTHING! When it comes to daily writing, tackling goals, making appointments, or lists – I’m telling you, planners and journals are a must-have. If you did not utilize a planner or journal this year, I highly recommend checking it out for next year.

8. MAKE A DONATION TO TOYS FOR TOTS, NEW YORK CARES COAT DRIVE, TEACHERS WITHOUT BORDERS, AND DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS
Like I mentioned above, I will probably not do any in-store shopping this year, but I am considering making product donation purchases online (toys and a coat – if I can budget it in), if not, I will make a $1-5 donation to all of the above organizations. I’m unsure if I’ve mentioned this on my blog yet, but I’m actually a member of Teachers Without Borders! If you’re an educator, consider joining! It’s free!

9. PURGE CLOSET AND MAKE A BIG SALVATION ARMY DONATION
Gosh, there is always more purging to do! Because I live in a tiny apartment with virtually no closet or storage space at all, my stuff is basically all out in the open and visible. It’s easy to feel cluttered, and I want to declutter as much as possible. I think this is a great way to kick off the New Year – with less crap. At the very VERY least, I’ll need a dedicated junk drawer…

10. PICK UP A NEW HOLIDAY MUG + MAKE ABUELITA Chocolate W/ MARSHMELLOW AND CANDYCANES
One of my fondest memories as a newly New Yorker was going on 3am trips to Rite Aid with my husband on a Friday or Saturday night. It usually started with, “I’m hungry, is there any take-out spots still open? Nope? Wanna go to Rite Aid?” And, there you have it – a tradition was born. Frozen pizza and hot pockets galore. During the holidays, we’d often be the first to check out new merchandise. So, we’d always get dibs on brand-new gift sets, including the hot chocolate with mugs set, which you guessed it, we bought, every year. Lol. Each time we moved, there’s always been a Rite Aid nearby (which isn’t really that much of a coincidence when there are more Rite Aids than Starbucks OR McDonalds. Yeah, that many! Last year, I discovered the phenomenon that is ABUELITA Chocolate. This year? The candy canes melted in. Every year before that and every day of my life? Marshmallows.

Wanna read another Blogmas post? You can find them all here.

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There was no cake.

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I just turned 25. Growing older is rough – I’d like to think it is for everybody. As morbid pathetic dramatic as it sounds, that’s just another year closer to death. That’s my life slipping through my fingers. That’s time running out.

I’m not bitter. I’m not resentful. I’m just a little bit sad.

Sure, I should be focusing on the growing of wisdom and self, but that’s not where I am right now. If or when I do get there, it’ll be a miracle.

But, never mind that for now. Let me tell you what happened on my 25th birthday.

It started with french toast.

I woke up to the smell of cinnamon. Sticky fingers — maple syrup all over my keyboard — this was the ideal way to start the day. I brushed my teeth, slipped on a skater dress, popped over a cardigan and headed out to Time Square. We were 2 and a half hours early before the first showing of Ant-Man. I’m always early to everything.

There was food. As it should be.

We walked into B.B. Kings. There wasn’t a single soul in this dim lit bar scene. I ordered crawfish. We sat there for an hour oohing and aahing over the food. Thomas proceeded to teach me how to eat pasta properly. “From the edge inwards,” he said. I just sort of stabbed my fork into the bowl and twisted. The food was amazing.

(Which reminds me, I still need to yelp them.)

I just wanted to have fun, you know? Forget for a moment that time was running out. Why the hell am I so dramatic? 

We went to Walgreens and bought 4 king size snickers, a mini-can of pringles, and a turkey sandwich. Of course, I’m always prepared to sneak food into the theater.

Still, we had 45 minutes to kill. We rode escalators. I beat Thomas at a game of Pacman.

We saw the Ant-Man in 3D.

The day ended with an open seat on the train and no incredibly annoying leg-spreader sitting next to me.

So what if there was no cake? It’s not like I ever wait until someone’s birthday to eat cake anyway.

I wrote this on my 25th birthday last year, on a crowded train coming home from Time Square, with Thomas hovering above me holding on to the railing, as he always does. Ironically enough, today is his 29th birthday. I was searching through #tags, looking for anything I wrote that included the word”birthday”, which is a kind of ritual for me – something I do each year. 

Birthdays are hard for both of us. It leaves us with a heavy heart. It makes us cranky. As I wrote above, growing older is rough. It’s like that one Adele song, “We were sad of getting old, it made us restless.” 

Thomas and I have known each other for nearly half of our lives. We’ve seen each other struggle and flourish. Much of which was thanks to each other. At times it was very hard. From all directions, we faced a lot of resistance since the early part of our relationship – when we were literally just kids. For over a decade, we have been a solace to each other. My husband is a sanctuary. I often think if our bond was not as strong as it is today, the last few years would have been very taxing on our relationship because it was very taxing on our individual selves. Life was (is) hard. No one wants a life of struggle where the finish line only gets repeatedly pushed back, until, well, it’s your time to go.

Beyond under-employment and financial struggles, I had experienced a late-term miscarriage followed by many fertility and reproductive health concerns that were not only wearing on my physical health but also my emotional and mental health. It was not an easy recovery, and an on-going one it still is.

The thing is, there won’t always be cake. But life isn’t necessarily about the cake, or the reward, or the finish line. It’s often about the journey. When you reflect back, it may make you a little bit sad, like it does for me. You can feel that. When the memory tugs at your heart, feel it, validate it, embrace it. 

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The Terrifying Process of Turning Dreams into Goals

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// Be goal-oriented. //

Personal development is very important to me – I am a seeker of knowledge, peace, and growth. Therefore, you can imagine, I am a very goal oriented. I think the process of completing a goal not only gives us a sense of accomplishment, but it’s also a way for us to stay motivated and driven in our day-to-day lives. Remember, the act of setting and completing goals it is very good for your personal wellness and self-esteem. For many years, I have built a habit of setting daily, short term, and long term goals. (For example, today, my goal was simply to make time to write this blog post!)

I also reflect, update, and adjust goals accordingly. I highly recommend we all do this! Also, it’s important to understand that the purpose of setting a goal isn’t simply…to complete a goal… but to work towards and achieve personal happiness. You are doing this for you, so if this is no longer something you desire, you are NOT obligated to follow through. However, giving up when things get hard is not an option.

// Take calculated risks. //

Imagine I’m that highly irresponsible voice in your head, “Do it, you coward!” Are you trembling in fear yet? *shudder* That voice right there is literally me, talking to myself – probably getting my ass in trouble. Having an excessively driven personality can be both a blessing and a curse! For some, and I’m sure for many of you, taking risks is downright terrifying. But, taking risks is necessary for getting you from where you are right now to where you want to be. It’s essential for obtaining the quality of life you seek. For growth – in order for you to make any progress in your life, you must take risks.

But to do so without sufficient preparation? You’re only asking for trouble! In truth, there is no guideline or blueprint on how to correctly prepare yourself for what’s ahead, simply because we cannot predict every detail of what’s to come. However, we can actively put in the time and effort in learning all there is to learn about the decision we’re about to make. We can seek advice from experts and have discussions with those who have experience in what we seek. We can prepare ourselves for the many problems that may arise, and we can establish a plan B and safety set. In short? Think long and hard (critically) before you act!

// Pride often stunts your success. //

Both my husband and I are ridiculously prideful. I can’t speak for him, but it’s literally in my bloodstream. I don’t know what it is, but people just love to struggle – they’re in love with it – and it’s very common for others to even romanticize the act of it. Don’t get me wrong, celebrate what you have overcome – we do. My husband and I have seen and faced a variety of adversity to homelessness to mental illness, but to purposely wage war? Don’t do that to yourself.

You may want to do everything yourself, you may hate asking others for help, but let me tell you, knowing how to ask for help is a sign of strength. Additionally, a smart man (or woman) asks for help. There is nothing to be ashamed of. When someone offers you praise, always respond with, “I had help.” In truth, and I’ve said this time and time again – all we have is each other. We’re here, on earth, to live, to love, and to lessen the suffering of others. That’s it. So, let others lessen your suffering.

// 99% of the time, things don’t turn out how you imagined it would. //

I like to say that my life is always eventful. I take the good with the bad every day. Sometimes the train you’re on gets thrown off track and you end up going where you didn’t intend to go. And, that’s OK. We can make a decision at that point to get off and turn around, or stay on.

// Know how to be proactive AND reactive. //

When it comes to goals… (and I guess life in general), it really is all about learning how to be proactive when appropriate and reactive when appropriate. Before you make a big decision or investment, regardless if it’s time or money or both, you’ll want to be proactive by identifying potential problems and taking the necessary steps to avoid them. At the same time, we know that, well, shit happens! And, that’s when being reactive becomes just as important.

How will you adjust your sails?

Will you get off the train, in a place you’ve never been? I would.

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Why are so many Millennials choosing Minimalism?

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“Millennials” has become quite a buzzword over recent years. I’m sure you’ve heard the term thrown around often – accompanied with several misjudgments including, (but surely not limited to) entitlement, self-absorption, and laziness. As a millennial (also known as Generation Y), I find this generalization absolutely disheartening. Some of the best people in my life are millennials. They’re beautifully selfless, giving, and hard-working individuals. These are the same people working long hours for low wages – who work 2-3 jobs just to feed themselves. Some cannot even afford a roof. Consider the fact that I have more friends who have been homeless than have not. Most of my peers have been or are undereducated, underemployed, or living below the poverty line. Most of which is simply a direct consequence of the Great Recession of 2008 – which is, in fact, the year I, and my graduating class, turned 18 and became adults.

Luckily for me, I was able to get a quality education from a top-rated university in New York City. It opened doors for me that eventually lead to me publishing my first novel, along with many new and exciting experiences that followed. However, even with receiving college funding from loved ones, as well as through government financial assistance, I found myself in debt, underemployed, and living far under the poverty line shortly after graduation. The job market seems to become more and more rigorous each day as the cost of living continued to skyrocket. I found myself clipping coupons and washing clothes in the tub (because going to a laundromat was just too far out of our budget).

I remember being in college and not being able to afford textbooks. Today, I can gladly say that I know how to order international edition textbooks for a 1/10 of the price (now legal in the U.S.) – that’s after digging for a PDF copy online.

Perhaps it started earlier than that – when I accompanied my Grandpa – we sorted through public trash cans, picking up recyclables to trade in for cash. Because that’s $10.

In truth, it was my economic reality that truly drove me towards a minimalist lifestyle. And, sure, you could say it was not a choice. In fact, last time I checked, you needed money to participate in materialism and that we did not have.

Does the principle of minimalism bring me joy? Very much so. Not contributing thoughtlessly towards capitalism does bring me joy. Giving, borrowing, and sharing with peers gives me joy. Supporting ethical and sustainable businesses give me joy. Investing in experiences give me joy. And, I think this is also what gives many other Millenials joy.

The worst recession since the Great Depression

Well, we all know the economy is shit. I know. You know. Your Mom knows. How many times have I had a friend reach out to me, discouraged over the job market, at their wit’s end, and I, without a doubt, respond with, “I know it sucks – the economy is shit.” Well, it is. We don’t make enough to live – no one does. My best friend, a single Mom living alone with her daughter, lives in one of the most “affordable” states in the U.S. (Alabama) and she barely makes enough to survive. She is probably experiencing the best case scenario, and even the best case is kind of terrible. Why is that? Well, that’s because we’re still recovering from the worst recession since the Great Depression. 

Mental Illness

Mental illness is incredibly common among Millenials with nearly 20% of them living with clinical depression and 12% with anxiety disorder. The cause? Stress. More specifically, financial stress and economic instability. After experiencing a late-term miscarriage in 2013, I found myself struggling with depression for several years. Thankfully, I was able to obtain the resources and healthcare I needed to take care of myself. Unfortunately, many millennials find themselves working for employers that do not provide healthcare and often end up going uninsured.

Capitalist Opposition

Many millennials feel strongly against corporate businesses and their capitalistic nature. They spend a lot less buying cheap and poorly made products from big box companies, and instead, opt in for local businesses. This leaves many retail businesses in worry as more and more millennials are not invested and severely uninterested in the experience of shopping.

Experience Investment

One of the core principles of minimalism is the investment in experiences instead of possessions. Millenials are also postponing marriage and growing their family in exchange for experiences with travel. They’re also uninterested in settling down (in one spot), which directly affects their interest in home ownership.

I sympathize strongly with my peers, and at the same time, I praise their positive, selfless and hard-working nature. They’re dangerously smart, incredibly clever, so very loving, and they are paving the way towards our future. They’re engaged in social and political affairs with the largest voter turnout in history. They’re some of my best friends, and I root for them each and every day.

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Morning Routines

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Good Morning Readers! 🙂

It is 7am in New York City, and I just finished eating a HUGE bowl of chicken pot pie soup (which is simply chicken pot pie without the pie). Now, I’m enjoying a cup of tea in my oversized camping mug. I’ve been up for an hour, and within that hour, I have filled out my planner for the day, cleared out my inbox, written this blog post, put hot water on, and prepared breakfast (and ate it!).

Over the last few years or so, I’ve been working a lot from home. I know that the statement”working from home” has a lot of negative connotations of scams and basically, it not being a “real” thing, and that in a way is true. Stay-at-home moms looking for ways to supplement their household income, can’t do that by…filling out of surveys or becoming a mystery shopper. However, it’s 2k16 guys. A lot of what can be done in an office, in front of a computer, could be done at home, in front of a computer. Not to mention, there is A LOT of money that can be made online. Problem is – doing any kind of work (or study) from home is incredibly hard without UNWAVERING/STRONG self-discipline!

Anywho, before I get off topic, as usual, let’s get back to the idea of morning routines. So, why do we need them? Well, let me just jump the gun already and say it simply makes you more successful. And, I believe that 100%. Self-discipline, as I mentioned above, is a big part of this. You need to self-motivate and make a conscious effort to reach for and receive the reality in which you seek. That may sound like a bunch of mumbo-jumbo but stay with me here. Put yourself in a position to succeed immediately when you wake up. Take control of your day before anything negative, like stress, can intervene.

So, with that being said, here are 5 things I think you should do within the first hour of waking up:

  1. Physical health // Move your body! This isn’t necessarily about burning calories, as much as it is about waking your body up – oiling those joints and loosening those muscles. This will actually motivate you to hit the gym later on as well.
  2. Mental health // Meditate, yoga, or write it out! As you may already know, mental illness can serve as a huge roadblock against common day-to-day activities. Firstly, if you or a friend is suffering from depression, suicidal thoughts, or any kind of life-threatening mental illness, please seek professional help. For many, journaling, as well as meditation and yoga, can really put your mind at ease and in a good place to take on the day. If your mind is already severely cluttered, or stressed at the beginning of the day, I highly recommend these suggestions.
  3. Personal Vision // Go after your dreams! If you don’t dedicate even 5 minutes towards your personal goals in the morning, you may as well forget about it. Heck, you may as well file it under “never ever EVERRR gonna get done”.  This is why I urge you to take even a few minutes to work on your personal goals first thing in the morning. You’re a lot more likely to dedicate some more time for it later in the day and actually make progress on it if it’s already on your mind.
  4. Productivity // Plan the day ahead! Bottom line, if it’s not in my planner, it’s not gonna happen. For me, if I don’t organize my thoughts, my tasks, and goals for the day, I’m either not going to get them done, or I’ll just be all over the place, disorganized, and probably wasting a sh*t ton of time. I might tackle the tasks, but it won’t be as efficiently as it could have been if I wrote it all down in my planner at the beginning of the day. Don’t make yourself try to remember what needs to be done. Don’t allow yourself to worry or wonder. In that time, you can easily become distracted, thrown off course, and that point, your day’s productivity has gone completely out the window.
  5. Self-care //  Take care of your needs! Last but not least. #5 is, in my opinion, the most important task of your morning routine. When we take care of ourselves first and foremost, are self-aware of our needs, and take full responsibility for them, we can ultimately do a much better job in other parts of our lives, and do much better at serving others along the way. What exactly *is* self-care? Well, it’s completely subjective. It depends on YOU and what your needs are; where you’re lacking. Self-care is not really about the task itself, as much as it is self-reflection, self-possession, and self-nourishment. So, take a moment, every morning, and ask yourself what your needs are. Then go take care of them.

Well, that’s it, guys! I hope you found this post helpful, inspiring, or insightful. What does your morning routine consist of? Do you not have one yet? If so, what do you hope to establish in one? Thanks for reading and I hope to hear from you in the comments! 

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