love people. use things.

"Love people, use things. The opposite never works." That's something the guys behind theminimalists.com said that really struck me as truth. 

The documentary Minimalism (on Netflix) caught my eye because I've always loved the freedom and ideology behind living minimally. I've gotten lost on Pinterest scrolling through images of gorgeously spacious and minimally filled homes. I've never been the most minimal of people though I've wanted to be, and that's one reason that way of life attracts me. 

The past few months, it's become overly apparent that I have too much stuff. Stuff that I don't need or want. Even stuff that I don't like. So why do I even have it all? I think that may have to do with the way most of society tends to think about the nostalgia or frugality of holding onto stuff. Plus, there's status that comes with owning certain things.

I was raised that even if you don't truly like something, you may need it––now or in the future. So don't get rid of it, because then you may have to spend more money buying it again later. Of course, you can understand the practicality behind that way of thinking: Just because you don't love it doesn't mean you don't need it or won't need it years down the road. That ideology comes from my family's need to live well below their means and responsibly on a small budget when my siblings and I were growing up––a respectable and sacrificial way of life, still.

And yet, as weird as it seems, living with even less stuff––but quality stuff that you love and use––extinguishes the feeling that you need more stuff or that you will never have exactly what you want. 

Just how often have you regretted getting rid of specific things? Or, how many times have you thought 'Oh, I could use that [insert item that you gave away already] right now'? Speaking from my personal experiences, I really can't think of one time or item. 

Living more intentionally in regards to the items you purchase and own will likely increase your contentment and satisfaction. Think about it this way: I have several pairs of jeans that I'm just OK with. I could sell them or give them away and replace all of them with one or two pairs of jeans that I absolutely love and even look forward to wearing. I would never look at my jeans with any degree of hesitation or spite again. Think about how amazing it would feel to have not only an emptier closet, but one that's filled with only your favorite clothes. 

That's such a small example. Expand that idea to your entire home and way of living. Think about what you're spending your money on with each purchase, and consider the life you're living––is it for you or for stuff? The Minimalism documentary presented a way to essentially take your life back and to only allow those material things into your life that serve you. Ask yourself: What quality do my belongings present to me and my life? 

In the documentary, several different people (singles, couples and families) were interviewed who lived minimally but at differing levels. It doesn't have to be an extreme way of life. It can just help provide clarity, intention and purpose where needed. Anyone can adopt more responsible consumption habits. And, according to the documentary, that's something this world really needs––habits that can improve things from sustainability to human kindness. 

create for the sake.

A few months ago, I stumbled across a blog post by Positive Writer that piqued my interest. It was talking about the tendency to create for fame or success. Working on your first book or your fifth that no one seems to know about (if only it had made the New York Times Bestseller list)? Painting gorgeous nature scenes or sketching moody characters that aren't selling? Maybe you're a film maker, but you can't quite get your short off the ground. Or you're an aspiring chef, but the road there looks rough.

Just because someone 'makes it' and you don't doesn't mean that you're not working hard enough or that your work isn't good. Who knows how long it took them to get there. The point of doing what you love shouldn't be for success or fame. It should be simply because you love it.

Create just because you want to, for the way it makes you feel. Take the pressure off yourself, and let your projects be what you want them to be—not what you think others want them to be. Forget thinking that your work isn't as good as someone else's. Or that your imagination isn't as wild. Who cares if it is or isn't? And who could actually know that for a fact anyway? 

Celebrate your work and the work of others. There's room for everyone in this wide world, and appreciation builds relationships and expands horizons. It's hard, but once you can let go of others' opinions and just make what you want to make, you'll feed your inner creative even more. You'll love your work more, too, and feel like it's part of you. 

Isn't that the point? To get what's inside your unique self out through your favorite skill set? Self expression is good for the soul. You can't keep it all in. Use what's inside to make something beautiful. 

image.jpg

get your zzz's. please.

This weekend, John and I were craving our bed like our hungry puppy Midas craves his dinner every night––it's like we don't feed him, even though we do twice a day. Last week was one of the busiest weeks we've had in a long time, at work and after work. Each day. 

By Friday, we felt that weekend sense of freedom, though we really shouldn't have. The weekend was about to be just as busy as our week had been. On top of that, we were so ready to hang with our friends and be in that weekend state of mind that we stayed out with them until 3am on Friday night. Most Fridays, this would be fine, but Saturday we had to start our packed day at 6am. Everything we had planned for Saturday was fun. We just didn't prepare, as usual. 

At the end of the day, I was done with my obligations and fell asleep at 9pm. John was out working on his brother's car until 1:30am––another late night for him. I had felt sick to my stomach and super parched all day Saturday from only three hours of sleep the night before, and John was practically running on a sleepless high that day, he said. 

I woke up knowing I'd had enough sleep Sunday morning but still wanted to sleep all day. John woke up groggy but only got more energetic as the day went on. He literally said he couldn't believe how energetic he was after two nights of less-than-needed sleep. He's no short sleeper by any means, but he definitely doesn't require the eight hours I do to function.

People, sleep is basically a requirement for life. One biologist and human genetics professor told Business Insider, "Other than water and air, nothing is more important [than sleep]."

Emotional stability is immediately affected by a lack of sleep, and the Wall Street Journal reported that sleep deprived people have difficulty discerning and reading other people's facial expressions. The sleep deprived are less emotionally expressive and tend to overreact to small things. One study also found that being sleep deprived increases stress, anger and anxiety levels. 

Besides that, there are so many effects of not getting enough sleep––from hypertension and weight gain to negative impacts on brain activity and memory. Though not everyone requires the same amount of sleep, we all need sleep. The CDC recommends adults get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, though about 30 percent of us sleep less than 6 hours a night. 

I really try to get enough sleep, and, when I only got three hours on Friday night, I definitely felt it. Sure, John may not require as much sleep as I do, but he felt it, too. We all know that sleep is important. It's just making it a priority that matters. 

Sleep well, health nuts. ;)

jump right in.

Think of a time when you said no to everything. It could be how you feel presently or at some point in the past. You feel so busy or maybe you've just become closed off to the world without even realizing it? It's interesting when you find yourself in the reverse situation where you're more open toward new experiences, people and circumstances. Eventually, you start doing more and more things (remember Yes Man?). Then, you realize that new opportunities keep coming around. With each one, you're broadening your horizon, honing skills and stretching yourself. 

I've noticed this happening a bit for me lately, not just in my personal life but at work, too. It's not an exhausting thing. It's actually fueling. And each time a new opportunity presents itself, I get excited to take it on. That's generally followed by a bit of stress and research--depending on what it entails--but, in the end, I feel a sense of accomplishment. I've learned something new and am able to take on even more in the future. 

It's not just about being more open to opportunities at work or doing more for/with people in your life--you need to do more for yourself, too. The whole purpose of letting yourself try new things and be open to what life brings isn't to pack your schedule or overwhelm you. It's about growing. And you need to do certain things for yourself to grow.. 

If unwinding to a good book each night relieves stress, make it a priority. If meditating, yoga or writing in a journal clears your head in the morning, then by all means make time for it. Would a night with friends once a month give you the camaraderie you need? Even taking a short walk around your neighborhood could give you just the right amount of space.

Small indulgences don't have to take a long time. Fit them in where you can--no need to set a routine unless that works well for you. A 15-minute break in the middle of the day can be the perfect time to take a walk, listen to music, practice deep breathing, sketch, jot down a few ideas or call a friend. 

It's these small things that will give you a pep in your step and a smile on your face, instead of feeling defeated from constantly denying yourself the things you need. So jump right in. Be open to new and different things for yourself and others. You'll be healthier as a result. :)

do nothing sometime.

Ever feel over-worked, too busy or just plain overwhelmed? I'm sure we all have our moments. Mine are typically from over-packing my schedule because planners and I are still getting acquainted. Some day, I feel that being too busy will be inevitable though. Like when my husband and I have kids. (Two dogs really might be enough.)

I think about how our society is set up sometimes and how both parents in many households need to work full-time to make ends meet. I don't agree with it. I think it stinks for those who have to be that busy, not that it matters or that it can be helped. We all have one life to live––should we really be busting our butts trying to fit everything in and get everything done all the time? Just stress levels prove that's a big, fat no. But in many cases it can't be helped.

At this point both my husband and I love working, and we don't have kids to take care of yet. Even now though, we're (well, mostly me) constantly filling our calendars with new responsibilities, activities, opportunities. We love it all, but sometimes it catches up with us. 

It's our own fault. Most of the time, when we hear about someone's busy life it can seem like they're successful or impressive (obviously, that's not the case for many families who have to be busy). But maybe it just means they're too busy and need a breather. 

It's definitely not a bad thing to say yes to people and experiences, but it's healthy to let things go sometimes, too. Eliminating even one thing from your week can help. If stress is the killer we know it to be, this is just one small step in the right direction. :)

pick a hobby. any hobby.

Before the brave new world of smartphones, I had things to do. Fun things. I always loved to read, journal, do anything outdoors, play sports and games, hang out with my friends, watch movies, listen to music, work out and on and on. Seriously, life before technology was good––like, we really didn’t know what we were missing. Just texting on my pink flip phone was super cool.

I’m not going to sit here and rant about how much better the world was before smartphones and technology. Shoot, I love technology and my rose gold iPhone. But I am going to tell you that hobbies are still important––maybe even more important now, since constantly scrolling through social media feeds (or reading my blog?) could be your nightly pastime. Hey, no judgement here.

Hobbies broaden your horizons, keep you active and engaged with life, hone new skills and literally enrich you as a person. We all need them to stay happy and healthy. Not that I’m a poster child for anything except fumbling through life, I do have several hobbies––even in high school when I didn't consider myself to have hobbies because I thought a hobby meant, like, knitting or making friendship bracelets. Psh. 

The fact is: I did have hobbies; I just didn’t know that’s what they were. (I’m still not a huge fan of labeling in general. Putting something or someone in a box by labeling it/them sounds terrible.)

In contrast to the day job and all other must-dos in life, hobbies are an escape. They're something done to refresh your mind, body or spirit. I look forward to my hobbies. They make me excited to be alive at times and give me small things to look forward to. It’s all about the small things, isn’t it?

Think for a moment about what interests you. Those interests are hobbies, or could at least lead you to hobbies. For instance, I absolutely love stories (and obviously writing) so just imagine how much I love a good book. I also love the outdoors and feeling fit. So, jogging, weights, walking or swimming usually does the trick--not to mention my two crazy dogs who end up pulling me and making me jog even more on their walks. 

My hobby tonight involves sitting at my dining room table writing about something I believe in and sipping on a cup of pomegranate green tea. I'm home from yoga and a quick Publix run––yes, jammies on. Oh, and there’s a show on in the background. Not bad, eh? Hobbies are sort of these small happy moments spent doing something you love. 

Another thing: taking time here and there for yourself is not selfish. In fact, it’s more selfish to not take occasional time for yourself. Without some ‘me time,’ I’m not my most refreshed or best self. Life is too much most of the time. Mini breaks from the pressure, stress and hectic schedules of life are necessary to keep you at your best for your job, spouse, family, responsibilities and even friends. 

Don’t think you have 30 spare minutes this week? Make it a priority, and you’ll find the time. Trust me. ;)