Intentional Living: Hydration

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more. 

When I was younger, I was too busy for water breaks. I would only drink water at lunch and dinner, consumed by my long to-do list of juggling three jobs and school, plus extra-curricular activities. I couldn’t give up a minute of my time to take a sip, because there were more important things to do. But times have changed. You could say I’m still the same person (busy as ever) who has taken a turn with regards to hydration.

Drinking water has become such a high priority for me that it is the first thing I do when I wake up and the last thing I do before bed. My planner and daily agenda notepads have water intake indicators to keep me on track. Despite having an active and busy lifestyle, I make sure to give back to my hard-working body by staying hydrated. I keep a glass with me at all times – whether I’m blogging on the balcony, writing notes in between patients, heading out to run errands, or reading a book in bed. Hydration, after all, is the ultimate form of self-care. Water not only refreshes our bodies and maintains balance, it also provides us with energy.

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The KINTO workout bottle makes sure that I accomplish just that. I am a lover of good design, and the Japanese company KINTO delivers. They embrace minimalist aesthetics without neglecting function. When I was looking for a new bottle to accompany me on my everyday routines, I definitely focused on both practicality AND beauty.

I am always carrying my water bottle with me everywhere, with the running joke between my husband and I that I would likely die of “the thought of thirst” if I left my water at home. Therefore, I was searching for something light and portable. The transparent, sporty BPA-free bottle has an elastic attached to the lid that makes transportation care-free. In all honesty, it’s a product that simply fits “right” in my hands. I can just as easily hold onto it by the tab (if it’s the only thing I’m bringing with me, for example when going on a run) as I can throw it into a bag.

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Additionally, the bottle has two removable lids. The top lid gives way to a narrow spout from which I can glug unabated by the thought of spilling water all over my shirt. The second lid can be removed if I wanted to throw in ice, fruit or garnish to liven up my drinking routine. Sliced cucumber is a luxurious addition and makes for a pretty display. However, it is important to note that dry ice and carbonated drinks should not be housed in the bottle to prevent breakage or damage. Of course, that’s fine by me since I’m not a fan of sparking water or other carbonated drinks.

One of the factors I considered when researching the right bottle was the ease of cleaning. I love that all KINTO products use a removable rubber stop that prevents the growth of mold or residue build-up from occurring. All five pieces (if you include the rubber seals) are dishwasher safe and do not require immediate drying. This, along with the light weight of the bottle, is the reason why I chose the workout bottle over their more famous and popular travel tumblers.

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As silly as it sounds, I also appreciate the measurement marks on the sides of the bottle indicating how much water it contains in ounces and millilitres. The bottle holds up to sixteen ounces of water, twelve if you’re adding ice or fruit. Like the planners, the marks help keep me on track with my water intake goals.

The bottle comes in many colors, but of course, I chose the classic clear . I have gotten many comments on its minimalist style and simple beauty. I definitely think it’s a piece that deserves applause. No wonder it’s featured in MoMa’s well-curated Design Store. KINTO always seems to hit the nail on the head.

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Habits to create around drinking water.

  • Drink a glass of water the minute you awake every morning. Leave a glass by your bedside every night.
  • Drink water after you finish your morning coffee.
  • Order water at a restaurant and drink a full glass before your meal arrives. Not only will this curb your appetite and monitor how much you actually eat, but it will help the digestion process.
  • After a workout, drink an entire bottle.
  • To increase the chances that you’ll drink water, keep it where you can see it.
  • Add sliced fruits or hibiscus leaves to make water more enticiing.
  • Drink water without ice barring exceptionally hot days. It helps with digestion.
  • Drink a glass after every meal.
  • Drink a glass before bed.

This post is sponsored by KINTO, a Japanese company that focuses on bringing tableware, drinkware, and interior items that bring its owners a sense of joy. Each of their items are heavily considered for the ease of integration into one’s lifestyle, without sacrificing the beauty of everyday things. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

For those wondering, the water in my KINTO bottle is not sparkling water. However, we have a filtration system in our home that selectively removes and adds in certain nutrients, in order to optimize our water for coffee. This may explain the slight bubbling that you see in our filtered water. Also, acidic fruits should be avoided, since the bottle is not made of triton and the acidity could damage or mark the bottle. 

Below, I list a few more KINTO favorites.

Simple Things: Ikebana

It’s Mother’s Day and while most of the Western world is showering their moms with love in the form of large bouquets and wreaths, I figure I’d share a personally preferred minimalist and intentional flower arrangement – ikebana.

The art of ikebana is a Japanese way of making bouquets. Translated literally, it means “making flowers alive”, which to me is poetry itself. Rather than focusing on gathering as many flowers as possible, the art requires a curation of sorts. Typically, only five to thirteen stems are used, and a flower frog with pins are employed to arrange the flowers in a romantic way.

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Unlike flower bouquets lining groceries and florist shops, these arrangements use stems and leaves, even blades of grass. Whatever is calling to the artist is included. It’s the ultimate proof that beauty can be found in even the simplest of things.

I like the practice of Ikebana because it adds an element of mindfulness to the process. Not needing to drive to a floral shop or pay for flowers, I pick simple buds or greenery that I find on walks around the neighborhood. What captures my attention depends on the day, and sometimes even twigs will appear wondrous in their own right. I collect a handful of treasures and curate them when I get home. Curating is arguably the most difficult part, but also my favorite. I put to use everything I know about creating an intentional home and apply it to ikebana.

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I’ve chosen these beautiful vessels from Notary Ceramics, a hand-thrown pottery located in Oregon dishing out the most beautifully minimalist pieces. There are two that I like – one with a water bowl in the center and only a few spaces for stems, and a smaller one with more opportunity for fronds and the like, but without a water bowl.

The water is another element of ikebana. It is said that one shouldn’t care whether petals or leaves fall into the water, for there is beauty in the imperfections, too. I love when soft petals float over the water’s surface, or when small buds break off from their stems into the pool.

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As you’ve probably guessed, for Mother’s Day I gifted my mother one of these flower frogs from Notary Ceramics. I hope that she keeps it by her bedside table, or in the center of the kitchen island for the morning light to shine on. I imagine her finding a few whimsical strands of nature when she walks our family dog with my father. I hope she remembers what it was like to be a child, carrying treasures home from her adventures. May she find a creative moment each week that lends beauty to her home as she carefully chooses her pickings. May more people practice a simpler art, daily, and bring joy to mother’s everyday after Mother’s Day.

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Thoughts On: This Surprise

I know it’s hard for people to live in a world that feels so reduced. Trust me, you are not. Trust me, I’ve been there.

It’s quite the sensation feeling like you’ve got nothing left to lose. Like all your decisions led you here. Trust me, I’ve been there.

I know what it’s like feeling enslaved by a system. Despite losing your freedom to move, you still have the freedom to choose
how to continue living when you’re tied to stillness and a snail’s pace. But even snails get somewhere.

You don’t have money, god knows I never did, but you have a brain, your health, love, hope, dreams, a breath. And if it were only one of these things, I’d venture to call THAT a life,
This a phase,
You, a force,
The world, your oyster,
The virus, a lesson.

Because the best thing I ever learned was that nothingness is a gift, and starting from the bottom means there’s an up. Something to look forward to and make life worth living. Nowadays I choose to live with less, knowing ultimately people can’t tell me what I can’t do, and if you dig deep enough into the recesses no one else is willing to touch, you will find that all you need for a good life is with you in the form of a past that no one can take, a future that only you can destroy, and a present which we are always lamenting but the great thing about having nothing is not having anything to lament.

Is it so bad not being able to know what can happen next? I bet it’s the first time in years that you haven’t tried to plan or control your entire life. In a way, I’ve found myself worrying less. Moving with the tide. Sleeping in without guilt. Forgetting the days.

Isn’t this what living is — Letting things unfold in due time?

I don’t know about y’all, but this was a good surprise.

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Intentional Living: S/Os in S.O.S.

I wouldn’t exactly consider myself accredited to talk about relationships or give relationship advice. In fact, I would gander that giving love advice broaches dangerous territory, and in an effort to not sound insensitive of other people’s situations, I acknowledge that in some households, there are bigger things to worry about regarding the stay-at-home mandate’s effects on significant others. I assure you, this post is not meant to belittle that fact. Rather, I only mean to share with the world what I am personally experiencing firsthand. What we are personally experiencing firsthand.

Which is, a state of S/Os in S.O.S.

In light of that, here goes.

How many times since the start of this COVID lockdown have I heard the words, “So-and-so is driving me insane.”? You may have even said it yourself. I know I have.

Since the advent of spending much of our time stuck in hobbit holes with our closest and dearest, the act of tending to our relationships has moved to the forefront of our head space (and house space). Unexpectedly, people have found themselves spending a LOT of time with someone they once voluntarily chose to be with, involuntarily. For some, I would hazard a guess that there has come to surface an awareness of disconnect.

With regards to relating with your better half, have you found yourself on edge? Do you find yourself bickering, nagging, or rolling your eyes? Are you praying to return to work just so you can step outside? Are you wondering, “Who this stranger is before me and why they are suddenly at my gym, my work place, AND my house?!”

To be fair, you are also in theirs.

Let’s face it. We aren’t used to being in our relationship twenty-four-seven. Most of us haven’t had the time to get to know our significant others outside of the home. Perhaps some of their at-work habits are foreign and new to us. As awful as it sounds, we also don’t know how to balance the role of being a significant other concurrently with the other roles we play. We are now expected to be the supportive figure at the same time as being the parent, home-school teacher, nurse, and money maker. Hardly a sustainable lifestyle. We are used to having things to do, places to go, ‘I’ll see you when I get back’. I know it isn’t fair, but it isn’t anybody’s fault either. It just is … erm, was.

I’ll be the first to say that this shift has been very hard for me. I’m an introvert, I like my privacy, I’m used to being busy, and I prefer an itinerary. Also read as – I’m withdrawn, controlling, anxious, and rather inflexible. So I’m sure it has been hard for the other party, as well.

Despite the difficulty, there are a few things you can do to combat your frustrations with a significant other. This whole new way of living takes some adjustment, surely. A change of pace, definitely. A new perspective? That’s on you.

When I am struggling, I try to remember this:

We are the gatekeepers of our homes, the guardians of our children, the warriors of our own existence and, also, the builders of our love. 

As with any relationship, it takes work, probably the last thing you want to hear. Below, I wrote a few suggestions that will allow both you and your loved one a chance to successfully survive this period of stay-at-home, hopefully even thrive. I’ve thought long and hard about these, because we’ve had to implement a few in our house, too. In fact, we sat down and made this list together. Hardly romantic, but absolutely necessary. If you’d prefer, instead of reading mine you can make a list that works for you.

So far, here’s what we’ve got.

  • Carve out alone time. We live in a busy, fast-paced world – or at least, we did. We aren’t well practiced in spending every waking moment with our significant others, especially not in isolation. So I can understand why for some, myself included, this sudden requirement to stay within the confines of a home with certain persons can feel unnerving. The air starts to feel edgy, people’s personalities get testy. It’s okay to feel encroached upon at this time. Being isolated in a space with the same person can feel maddening, and that doesn’t make you a bad person. If you think about pre-COVID (because this pandemic has now become a marker of a before and an after), we had a flurry of activities to tend to – work, school, kids, parents, friends, life in general … spaces we had to ourselves without a significant other. Perhaps, the way to transition is to carve out some “alone time”; time where you aren’t nagging each other about chores-to-be-done, asking insidious questions about lifestyle choices, judging each other silently or aloud… you get the gist. Getting used to being around each other 24/7 takes patience. We’ve had many years to train how to live life being apart. We can’t fully expect ourselves to immediately know how to live constantly together. By carving out alone time, you can slowly transition into a life of being in the same space, all the time (still sounds scary, I know). You can start to learn the tiny nuances that make a person tick, or dance. Just make sure to take it slow, lest you overwhelm your significant other with your own quirky “charms”.
  • Schedule dates with other people. By the same token, we are social creatures. We need social stimuli from multiple different people. Therefore, it is important to expose ourselves to people other than our significant other, digitally speaking of course. Schedule Skype dates with friends you would normally have Happy Hour with, make Zoom meetings to keep up with book clubs, or pick up the phone and chat with your mum about whatever is going on in her life. You can choose to include your significant other in these activities or not, but I guarantee you that the time spent with other people can really widen your appreciation for those who are already close at hand.
  • Find something new to learn together. Do you recall the days when your relationship first blossomed? Earlier years when you were both navigating the world together, learning things that you never knew before? How to balance a checking account. How to apply for a mortgage. How to read a cat, survive college, or grieve for a loved one. Along the way, you were learning things about each other, too. The way one laughs or what makes them chortle. The way a person responds to a challenge. The way we show love. Can we go back to that again? Sure, we can’t pretend to be strangers or turn back time. But maybe we can find something new to learn or do. We are creatures of novelty. Maybe the initial embers that burned in the hayday of a relationship have been blown out, but it doesn’t take much to stoke driftwood back to life. A little prodding, a gasp of oxygen, a teensy spark. So it goes with love.
  • Pivot. Every relationship has a different dynamic and we have to respect that. What if you took the previous advice and found yourselves at the last straw, arguing over the best way to learn something new? Perhaps you have different learning strengths, pace, or interests? Or did you read my previous advice and already know from the get-go this would never work. In each case, pivot. Pivoting is the only way you can prevent problems from turning into disasters. It is a most necessary ingredient of love, the sphere wherein to practice compromise. It is the best thing in our arsenal, and also the most freeing.
  • Hash it out. I am not against fighting. In fact, I think tending to a relationship sometimes requires a fight. Because when you’ve tried and pivoted and still feel perturbed, then there is something amiss. Remember when we were children and we got in some really good scuffles between brothers and sis? Shoves in the sand, nails and skin, bite marks and hiss? I do. And it felt GOOD. And we were FINE. We didn’t love each other any less. We were just upset. I’m not saying physical punishment is by any means the way to go (we’re adults now, remember?), but neither is bottled anger. Healthy relationships should have honest conversations, blatant words strung into hard-to-hear sentences, even tears. I’ve heard of couples who never fight, but I also have seen couples who never talk. You can’t fight if you don’t speak up, just as you can’t wholly exist in a relationship if you don’t have a say. Before you pick a fight with your significant other under my advice, do heed the following. Firstly, pick your battles. I wrote this post with intention, and compromise came first (see pivoting above). Second, be direct. None of this behind-the-back spitting and double meaning words. Say what you mean in the most direct way possible. And thirdly, help them fix it. Come up with a suggested solution or a plan. Do your part in identifying what you need. There are no mind readers here, as much as we want there to be.
  • Get a counselor. Sometimes, what we really need in a scuffle is for mom and dad to step in. Well in this case, preferably not mom and dad. But a third party person who can be trusted, who has an even-footing, and who is more level-headed than two very angry lovers. Some feel a dark tinge hanging about the edges of the word ‘counselor’, although I know of a few good professionals, but even a non-licensed friend would do. At least find somebody who can dilute and fizzle out whatever tension there is. A friend, a sibling, a mate, a co-worker … certainly not the parents. A coach or a referee, doesn’t matter to me.

Lastly, it’s a choice. In the end, I’m not saying stay. It’s a choice, after all. Some people will choose them-self, some will choose each other. There isn’t a right, or wrong. But a word of caution for those who’ve reached the end of the road. This situation IS temporary. If it worked out for you during the normal routine, then it won’t be long until we are back at it again. The before and after are very different environments, and not every relationship flourishes in any habitat. Just because isolation isn’t a good environment for you two to be in, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be together at all.

Also, things take time. Getting used to a new situation is always stressful, but we are highly evolved to adapt, and adapt well. In fact, we adjust better working as part of a team. If you’ve made a pact, I have no doubts you’ll survive this. I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine. You can cry today but tomorrow it’s my turn. Watch the kids in the morning and I’ll watch them at night. Hakuna mata, yata yata.

Good luck, stay strong, believe.

Self-Check COVID-19

Hi there! Checking in on the community today. Calling friends and family. Writing a reminder on the calendar to follow up on a few peeps I haven’t seen in some while. I’m bad with this kind of stuff. I don’t do it often, mirroring my wish to be left alone onto others. But it’s been tough. So, how are you doing? (Mirroring, again.)

Have the kids driven you crazy yet?
Is the home stifling your creativity?
Does the rain and gloomy weather wear you down?
Are you and your hubby still friends?
Can you even look each other in the eye?

Questions no one else is asking. 

I get it. I’ve felt similarly, too.

It’s time for a self-check. Despite a world that tells us otherwise, attending to basic needs is part of a productive checklist, albeit an invisible part. Every little thing that makes this grand thing a tiny bit better is worth its weight in gold.

Today, I list a few things that are keeping me afloat (and surprisingly sane).

  • Morning yoga stretches with Adriene.
  • Mindful mugs of coffee with breakfast. You can take a few notes from Gina Stovall here.
  • Avoiding the news of impending doom.
  • Farmer’s Market finds, and the resulting treats.
  • Frequently picking up books, putting them down, picking up others. Currently.
  • Revamping the home, de-cluttering, re-organizing, and when all else fails, playing pretend.
  • Organizing plans, scheduling posts and jotting schemes, scheduling self-checks, etc.
  • This blog and the words I’ve written. Thank you for being here.

How about thyself? What have you found helpful? Is there anything I can do for you? What would be comforting to see? What would you like to learn? How can we lighten the morbidity? Or at least forget, for a few…

Lastly, a bit of transparency. 

This blog has become not only a haven for my ideas and thoughts, but also, a small business that profits mostly from its partnerships with certain brands. A curation of goods and services are shared in this space, sometimes in the form of affiliate marketing, interviews, features, or reviews. Regardless, all brands that I work with are well-aligned with who I am as a person. I am proud to be in partnership with these brands, and I am proud of the space we have created, hand-in-hand.

As the state of global affairs progress, I am sad to say that many of these small businesses, myself included but more importantly, those of my brand partners, have suffered tremendous loss. In an effort to support as many of my friends as possible, I will be adding a number of banners and reviews here in the coming days. Some may result in a small commission, shall you choose to support these companies or make a purchase.

For those who are interested in helping out, the best ways to support involve spreading the word. Share pages that you find helpful with your friends and family. Share courses that you think can improve the world with people in need. Share the names of brands doing good to create global change. With each other’s support, we can survive this. Or at least, stay afloat.

There are bloggers who have been recently asking for donations to keep their sites going during this slump. Instead, I’d rather request for Hello’s in the comments below. Make suggestions. Ask questions. Get to know one another. Foster a community. That is enough for me.

Once again, it means so much to me to have you here.


Healthy Coping Skills During Times of Stress and Anxiety

To brush over this trying time is to do a disservice to all who are negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. I am not only speaking of those who are impacted physically, which on its own seems to be the global focus of this pandemic and rightfully so considering the number of deaths that we have seen thus far, but I am also referring to those who have suffered financially, mentally, and emotionally.

Many a small business owner is seeing their life’s hard work dwindling before their eyes with hardly a hope of surviving this stay-at-home movement. Many blue collar workers are forced out of a job, having been laid off about a week ago “for the wellness of the community” but at their expense. Many a woman has seen their education and work opportunity wane as they are forced to stay at home to school children who are now being expected to virtually learn. Many children will struggle to find an equal footing in the current educational system, as the ability to have access to the internet or a computer will greatly determine which children learn and which do not. With all of this impact and more, it is safe to say that these are difficult times which may leave people feeling a bit less-than their normal self. 

In an effort to be of help (somehow), I wanted to take the time to share the following words from my sister-in-law and registered therapist, Alexandra, for those who are currently struggling to maintain their mental health or are experiencing more-than-normal levels of stress and anxiety.

Some great tools to aid with anxiety, stress, and loneliness during this time are:

  1. Being active – going for a walk, run, yoga, at-home workout, and getting some sun, if possible.
  2. Create routine – whether that be a work-from-home routine or a morning routine, creating some sort of consistency for your body and mind are important.
  3. Spend time with someone you care about – Don’t isolate. Even if it’s virtual time together, text someone or call someone, at least one person a day.
  4. Take breaks from the media – Take breaks from your phone, the TV, and the news. This helps us not ruminate or over-think, and reduces stress, anxiety, and worry.
  5. Do something for you! – Mindful activities such as baking, cooking, coloring and art, working out, reading a book, taking an online course, or learning something new can really help carry you through tough times. Schedule at least fifteen minutes a day for this.

Off course, you don’t have to do all of these, especially if you are working from home or are out working and helping others. But these are some healthy coping skills that can reduce depression, anxiety, and feelings of loneliness.

Alexandra Tillapaugh is a Registered Associate Marriage Family Therapist specialized in counseling adults and children with a variety of challenges, including but not limited to, anxiety, behavioral issues, depression, self-esteem, and relationship problems. She is also my wonderful sister-in-law.

During this time, she is offering lower cost online counseling sessions to people in need in our community – especially those who are displaced, anxious, and stressed.

“I know many people are anxious right now and stressed. They may need someone to talk to or need help with learning a few coping skills.” 

She is offering a free consultation on the phone so that people of the community may seek help without the pressure of money. It’s a great way to find out if her services work for your particular situation or lifestyle.

“I want to get an understanding of why they want to talk to a counselor prior to any sessions. It’s the best practice.”

To learn more about her services, schedule an introductory call, or simply chat with someone over any hardships you may be experiencing, you can view her website here. To offer helpful tips for those who are suffering, feel free to comment below.

When The World Stands Still

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

I don’t know what to say that hasn’t already been saidsung, preached from rooftops and social platforms. Everyone’s vying for their voice to be heard amidst all this noise, it seems, but if you’ve got the space (or mental capacity) for just a few more words, here are mine.

It may feel like we don’t have much choice right now – on who gets sick, on who is allowed to work and make money, on what we can cook for dinner – but still there are choices that we can make.

We can choose to:

spread panic or hope
spread fear or support
close our doors or open them
create isolation or community
choose to do what’s personally advantageous or morally right.

I know that times are hard. During times like these, it’s difficult to think clearly, to predict the best course of action, let alone to keep it together. Actionable tips are more useful now than ever.

After much reflection, this is all I’ve got.

First, let go of the anxieties which aren’t serving you. Stop watching videos of hoarding and stop posting pictures of empty shelves, which doesn’t serve anyone either. All this causes is panic. There is enough anxieties to go around and we don’t need it. There is enough food to go around, if we share. This isn’t to say I don’t have anxieties of my own. This isn’t ill-advice coming from the privileged. This is general advice coming from a person whose job is considered at highest risk for exposure during this epidemic, who works with limited medical supplies caused by a global hoarding of masks that won’t prevent disease acquisition, whose office just closed in order to protect others (staff and patients alike), and who doesn’t get paid time off but whose staff thankfully does. Despite going into half a million dollars in student debt in order to help heal the world, despite risking my health in order to take care of people in pain, despite having only one mask a day because of a shortage of medical supplies, and despite stopping work to protect those around me, I still call myself one of the lucky ones. The power of positivity has to be prioritized here. Which brings me to my second point…

Approach everything from a place of gratitude. I know it’s hard to do, especially for those who are just trying to get by, but trust me, the gratitude will be the thing that helps get you by. If you are working from home, at least you still get paid. If you aren’t getting paid, at least you still have your health. If you don’t have your health, at least you still have family to support you. If you don’t have family to support you, you have a world of people who wants to help. When you feel alone, just reach out a hand, and someone will grab it.

This is the time to reawaken relationships. If you are at home, lamenting your joblessness, pull out your phone and CALL someone. Don’t text, but CALL. Talk to them in ways that you couldn’t when life had you running in circles. This time is a gift, and it is temporary. Ask how people are. Talk about what’s going on in their life rather than what’s going on in your grocery store. And once you’ve finally rekindled connection with others…

Take the time to BE WITH YOURSELF. As uncomfortable as that is, sit in introspection. It may be painful if you think of what you have and don’t have at the moment.

“The more time you spend thinking about yourself, the more suffering you will experience” – The Book of Joy

Rather, think about yourself in terms of your role in society. Instead of fretting about what is uncontrollable outside those walls, heed attention to what is within. You have to care for yourself before you can care for others. All that is neglected in the home and in yourself, organize and take care of them. Putting things in order indoors will be reflected in bigger things. Once you’ve got yourself in order, you are finally ready to create community amidst this isolation.

If you’ve got a skill that you can share, if you’ve got extra toilet paper that a family needs, if you can cook meals for those living paycheck to paycheck, if you can provide emotional support, financial guidance, mental health advice, a foster home for pets that are being euthanized, if you can support small businesses who can’t stay afloat, if you can volunteer time … go ahead and do it. This is it. The time when the world stops and stands still. This is the time for us to stop with it, lest we all continue spinning out of control.

If you need help putting everything into perspective, a few of my favorite reads:

  • The Book of Joy – Dali Lama and Desmond Tutu
  • Slow Living in a Frantic World – Brooke McAlary
  • Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Measure of a Man – Sydney Poitier
  • Simple Matters – Erin Boyle
  • Chasing Slow – Erin Loechner

 

A Period of Essentialism

Doesn’t it seem sometimes that finding yourself requires rejecting everything that defines you? Like a snake shedding skin. Or a butterfly coming out of its cocoon. The less we have, the more we are whole. I’ve found that after rejecting associations, all that is left behind is the rawness of “me, myself, and I”, and the beauty of what that has to offer.

This entire journey started with getting rid of external associations, such as physical clutter. Then it continued with societal expectations, financial burden, and more recently, digital stimuli. Now, a more difficult task. What I’ve struggled with the most in the past year is ridding myself of aspirational clutter, but I am refocusing to address that struggle.

My aspirations, titles, roles, and expectations dictate my day-to-day actions. This much I know to be true. Most of these things are self-imposed. I choose to identify with these things, and therefore, I can choose to un-identify, as well. I’ve come to this awakening that a lot of my stresses result from these impositions on the self. These are also the sources of the majority of my time-suck. And since my ultimate dream is to achieve waking up each day and doing whatever calls to me, without being tied to money, possession, job, title or expectation, I must face the fact that none of these self-impositions get me closer to that point. In fact, I am being drowned by their current.

In order to get to ultimate freedom, I have to free everything else.

Awakenings are the hardest part,
But also the BEST.


I’ve been thinking a lot lately and I’ve decided to close the bakery. Cancel the course. Stop Rover. Write for myself again.

What brought this on was the husband’s current situation.

This is a really special time for my husband and I. He recently stopped working, having quit a job that he had grown impassionate about, and is going through a growing phase that entails a bit of self-discovery. I’ve found that with all of my titles and roles, I have not had the time to be there for this period of rebirth. The last few weeks, I’ve been telling him to stay out of my way because I have “things to do”. I didn’t want to talk to him because I had to “focus” on creating content for the blog. I couldn’t spend much time with him because I had to bake bread. I hated that the first thing I cut from my life whenever I needed space or time was my relationship, which is arguably most important. And it’s safe to say that over time, perhaps I myself have grown to become impassionate about my own work, too. There is always that line between hobby and work and when we cross it, other things shift with it, too.

So we are re-structuring,

My husband and I haven’t had this freedom since… college? We have an opportunity to come home and be idle. To have nothing due. This is the first time in our lives where we are both at a place where we can create the opportunity to just be. To reject most obligations. To do as little as possible. Or rather, to do only that which is essential.

I decided to commit to only one professional title (dentistry) as I fulfill more important roles of being a wife and friend. Where I was prompting him to find himself, I figure I should listen to my own advice and do much the same.

If I am being completely honest, perhaps taking on these jobs was my way of filling a void, rather than understanding why I felt partial instead of whole … arguably deeper work. I took on the title “baker” with Rye Goods one year ago, and I remember saying to Sara that I was looking for something more. The bakery was my saving grace from a dissatisfaction with where my life was at.

It was also my distraction.

Now it’s time to face fears, and start a new age.

A period of essentialism.


They say it takes courage to hold on when everything around you is falling apart,

When you are falling apart.

But usually we hold on for the sole reason that we are too afraid to let go.

Therefore, it takes equal courage to move on.

Either way,

You are brave,

Whatever you choose to do.