Play Pretend: Spring Refresh

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I view Springtime as a marker for starting anew. I rally my energy to refresh our home in preparation for the warm months ahead, and to shed behind the winter blues. Not that California has much of that to begin with. Like a sprightly elf, I tick away at my ultimate cleaning list with renewed fervor, even though the New Year was not too far gone. I lovingly make our home airy and light, which is to say, I declutter, shuffle, and rearrange to my heart’s content, and then some.

When I say Spring refresh, I do not mean shopping for a doozy of new decor, such as pastel wreaths and cheeky doormats. Rather, I perform a list of simple things using what I already have to spruce up the home and make it feel and look revitalized, without actually a fresh load of stuff. I throw away the unwanted things, tidy the clutter into hidden boxes, wipe down every surface, and fluff the cushions. I wash the pillows, flip the mattress, throw open the curtains (and the windows with it) and water all the plants I’ve already collected. I imagine that everything is new, by making them feel new. This is a play pretend series, after all. Of course, all of this with the help of some of my favorite things.

+My favorite cleaning appliance, zooming along.
+An eco-conscious all purpose cleaner, my reusable spray bottle and a pile of white rags.
+Our crisp and buttery duvet set in muted ivory, flipped over from the winter sage green.
+Pillows that take you straight to Dreamland, freshly washed once a year.
+A floral scent to set the mood, lit in the afternoon before meal preps.
+A fruit bowl to decorate the farm table with, piled high with citrus picked from the parent’s neighborhood.
+A natural jute rug for bare feet, and painted toe nails.
+Bringing the outdoors in, on a monthly basis.
+A purifier to clear the air, and allergies.
+A flower vase to accentuate a shelf, or something similar that also happens to hold fruit-infused water.

If you’d like to make your house feel anew, without spending money to do so, I would highly recommend rallying friends and family, or your inner gusto, and completing this ultimate cleaning list that I wrote for neatniks out there. It is seriously the best.

Care to see more play pretends? Right this way.

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Monthly Goals: April 2021

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Sometimes, I get in these moods wherein I question my productiveness. I worry about having done enough, and I focus on the change I have still yet to make. The first three months of the year was spent on tending to my mental health and creating space for all the living I have still yet to do. I spent many hours reconnecting with friends and family, meditating, and spending time outdoors. Now that we’ve come to the end of the first quarter of 2021, I suddenly started to semi-panic about what I have (or haven’t) accomplished in the year thus far.

I look ahead at the upcoming month and think to myself, “Where did March go?”, as well as, “Where will I find the time?”. I start to dwell on my lack of progress and avidly plan for the future. I franticly scribble down notes of things to do, places to be, people to call…. I know that this is a result of my up-bringing and the ingrained notion that in order to succeed, you need to always be in motion. My immediate reaction to sitting still for too long is to itch for change. I know it is reactionary, and also, subconscious, and I have to put in work to bring these thoughts into my conscious mind.

In most cases, my bouts of uncertainty are caused by asking the wrong questions.

The better questions would be:

  • What relationships have I fostered recently?
  • How is my health and mental state?
  • Where is my community?
  • How close am I to my purpose?
  • Am I receiving satisfaction?
  • Are these tasks necessary to my goals?
  • What can I delegate to others?
  • What can be omitted?

I’ve taken the liberty to postpone the posting of my April goals for a few days, because I was undergoing one of those mild, anxiety attacks about how much I’ve done, worrying about “enoughness” rather than reflecting on the being rather than the doing. Since then, I’ve set the compass straight. I feel relaxed again after answering the better questions, which I trust sets me up for productivity in the future. Often times, all it takes is a step back, a calm breath, and a thoughtful guide.


This month, I have had the absolute pleasure and joy to try out a new planner by Unbound. It is, by far, the most well-rounded planner I have ever tried. It combines productivity with mindfulness. They sell an undated version and a 2021 planner. Personally, I prefer the 2021 planner and even though it’s now April, I would still recommend the dated planner over the undated version. There are only a few differences between the two, but I think they make all the difference. Plus the 2021 dated planner is currently on sale for a better price. I love the Unbound planner so much. I would go so far as to say that it is the best planner I have ever tried. And I’m a planner addict, so I don’t say this lightly.

The Unbound planners start with self-reflection pages. These are crucial to anyone who wants to succeed with their goals. You need to know who you are first before making plans for the future. Knowing what motivates you, what challenges you, what your core values are, and what your talents and strengths are will help align your goals with where you truly want to go. It will also focus you towards the tasks that you would be good at, and perhaps the tasks that you can delegate to someone with a better suited personality. I like to integrate what I love to do into my work life, limit the things that deplete me, use my talents and strengths to move forward, and delegate the things that I struggle with to other people. The self-reflection pages also has the user rate where they currently are in certain aspects of life. This will give the person an idea on where they should focus their energy. All of this self-discovery should set you up nicely for making a 2021 vision board.

The next section is for writing down your goals for the year ahead – both big and small. You want to first identify your themes, such as family, health, or finance. Based on your themes, create goals and break them down into specific, actionable tasks. For example, “be healthy” is not a good goal. It is not specific enough and doesn’t give any information as to what you actually want to accomplish. Better goals would be “going to the gym 4 times a week” or “running up to a half-marathon by June 1, 2020”. Think SPECIFIC.

Once you have all your goals listed, you want to organize them into a timeline. The Goal Timeline breaks down goals into monthly, weekly, and daily goals. Now if the goal is very specific, such as “Organize digital photos by June 1, 2020”, then you can place it on the yearly goal chart and cross out the month you hope to accomplish that goal by. This section is important when you do your weekly and daily planning. Continually look back and reference this section to verify that you are hitting your goals. It’s also a great way to visualize which goals need to be written down on the weekly and daily pages.

There is also a 2021 overview wherein you can write down reminders for big events that are to happen in the months ahead. Ideas to write down would be doctor appointment reminders, birthdays, parties, weddings, and holidays to name a few. The year at a glance is great for habit tracking or mood tracking, since you have a designated space for each day of the year. I haven’t decided what to use the space for yet myself, but I was thinking of using it as a way to schedule time off for myself, since that seems to be what I need most in life.

Once goals are all set, you can start listing things to do. A pages contain checkable bullet points separated into the four seasons. There is also an entire page to keep a running list of tasks to do. I think this is great when a task pops into your mind without a goal category. Just jot it down in the season you wish to accomplish the task, or on the running to-do list. I would check these pages occasionally, and enter them into the appropriate days or weeks.

Onto my favorite pages: Project Planning and Goal Breakdown. I use project planning to break down my work and any creative endeavors I have. I have a diverse set of jobs. I am trying to grow a blog, trying to grow a bakery, and creating a dental home, all while learning new hobbies and skills. For example, my husband and I are working on building a robotic pour-over machine for fun. I am trying to learn piano while also trying to run farther and faster. These are all projects that I have and the pages in the planner help me to visualize as well as break down each project into steps that I can take to get to the end result. This type of planning is really how I get so much done. I will repeatedly re-assess if the tasks I’ve written are worth doing. Each task is prioritized based on its efficacy and importance.

So how does April look? Busy. With opportunity to practice creating space for rest.

This planner is really good about promoting balance in one’s life. At the beginning of the month, the planner prompts you to write your top 3 priorities. It have a space for monthly goals and tasks, as well as space for gifts and occasions of loved ones. There is space to list ideas that will help you be creative and learn, to be healthy, to take care of yourself, to give and help others, to be connected, and to have fun and relax. These boxes are gentle reminders for me to take care of myself. There is also opportunity to overcome challenges as well as to work on positive change.

On the weekly pages, there are reminders at the top of the page to review the goals and place them into the plan. I keep a running to do list as well as track my habits on the weekly pages. More importantly, I jot down acts of kindness and ways to self-care. I use the blank space to reflect on my previous week. I write down what drained my energy, where I can improve as a person, and what the highlights were.

On the daily pages, there is space to monitor water intake, exercise, and supplements. There’s a box for all the things I cannot afford to forget, as well as a meal prep section. It makes my week way easier when I already have my meals planned ahead of time. Prepping them ahead of time is another story.

At the bottom of the page there is a space for Gratitude Journaling. I write three things I am grateful for each morning. At the top of the page are my top 3 daily priorities. The calendar section is just used to time block my day. I don’t write my tasks in the middle section, but rather, reference my weekly pages and my weekly to-do list.

Now you’ve probably been reading this and thinking to yourself, “Goodness, how overwhelming.” But it actually is not. In fact, this planner takes a lot of stress out of my life. It organizes so well that I reduce the amount of decisions I need to make per day, which then saves my mental strength and avoids decision fatigue. It refocuses my mind on the important things in life, and isn’t only about the daily grind. At the same time, it keeps me productive.

I have tried many planners in my life, but this is the best one yet. I love it so much that I may stick with Unbound for the rest of the year and beyond!

Without further ado, my April Goals.

Personal:

  • Wake up early every morning and utilize the wee hours for my T.I.M.E. ritual: T- Thankfulness Practice by Gratitude Journaling, I- Insight by listening to podcasts, writing, or reading, M- Meditate using the TIDE app, and E – Exercise whether that’s running or hiking.
  • Put phone away one hour before bed and limit Instagram use to 30 minutes per day.
  • Create continuation between days by preparing the night before for the next morning’s most important tasks.
  • Have a digital sabbath one day per week.
  • Learn how to use my new Microsoft surface pen.
  • Let myself take an afternoon nap every weekday that I am off.
  • Start piano lessons and teach Mike what I learn.
  • Set aside time in the schedule to do something relaxing each day.
  • Volunteer once a week.
  • Spend one hour this month doing NOTHING.

Health:

  • Exercise 5 days a week. Go to boxing class 3 times a week, life weights 3 times a week, run 3 times a week, hike a trail once a week.
  • Get 30 minutes of outdoor time 5 days a week.
  • Use Magnesium Spray to boost energy, lift mood, calm the mind, and relax the muscles.
  • Take vitamins and collagen powder daily.
  • Clean eating for 30 days.

Work:

  • Grow the bakery by $3k this month.
  • Create genuine, meaningful relationships with patients by spending an extra five minutes each appointment learning one new thing about their social life.
  • Publish 20 blog posts.
  • Top last month’s 7.4K Pinterest views.
  • Top last month’s blogging income.
  • Learn how to self-publish a book by taking courses online.

Home:

  • Put away things daily.
  • Do a pantry clean out and organization.
  • Declutter paper and digital files and email.
  • Declutter the home and garage.
  • Complete the cleaning list.

Finance:

  • Save $7k next month to ramp up for whenever student loan repayment resumes – invest 20% of it and place 80% in our Marcus High Yield Saving’s Account.
  • Close on a second refinance of our home, hopefully sealing the interest rate at 2.875%.
  • Complete 5 CE courses.

World Water Day with Pact

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World Water Day is an annual day of observance by the UN which highlights the importance of fresh water. The lack of available fresh water has been apparent to me since birth, since I was born in a third world country that depends heavily on plastic bottled water as the main source of clean drinking water. Of course, not many people in the country had access to it at the time. This was in the late 1980’s, but even when I returned as a dental missionary in 2015, I found that the people still largely had limited access to clean water. In fact, soda and juice was cheaper to buy at restaurants and stores, which resulted in a high proportion of dental caries (cavities) in the anterior region (front teeth) -a location of tooth decay that is uncommon in other nations.

It might horrify you to learn that the cleanest water they hope to drink is fresh rainwater from the sky collected in buckets during rainy season. It might surprise you to hear that toilet paper is not used in public bathrooms, but rather, a murky tub of communal water is splashed onto dirty bottoms. Nearly 5 million people in my home country, The Philippines, rely on unsafe and un-sanitized water. Additionally, over 9 million people live in places of unimproved sanitation which increases the risk of water-borne illnesses and disease. The few that do have access to clean water are contributing to the massive pollution of the islands’ surrounding ocean with plastic bottles while also littering the land. So when Pact reached out to me to be an advocate for World Water Day, I decided to take on the challenge.

Pact produces clothing and home textiles using organic cotton. Organic cotton uses 91% less water than traditional cotton. Globally, only .93% of cotton grown is organic, and farms can save 58 billion liters of water in a single year from growing with these standards versus conventional cotton. Not only is water saved, but the water is then reusable and not polluted. Cotton farming consumes 16% of the world’s pesticides and only utilizes 2.5% of cultivated land. Lastly, the fashion industry currently uses 4% of all fresh water. Those are percentages that should make anyone stop in their tracts.

I have been an advocate for Pact for a long time and have talked about their undergarments as well as their towels on this blog and social media. My husband loves his Pact boxers and I absolutely love their sports bras. Additionally, Pact’s beautiful waffle towels are the only ones we use. I am excited to share that in 2020, Pact consumers saved 35+ million gallons of water by choosing to shop Pact over other companies that use traditional cotton. Pact believes whole-heartedly in water conservation. In fact, they share their company’s conservation efforts on product pages, at checkout, within brand content, and through emails. So next time you need to buy clothing, underwear, bedsheets, and towels, consider Pact.

In an effort to promote Pact, TheDebtist readers can use the following code at checkout to receive 25% OFF of any order from March 19 to 25: thedebtist20. Of course, the best solution and practice is to buy less and use more. But shall you choose to buy, choose wisely what companies you support. I am an advocate for mitigating environmental damage by creating the smallest carbon footprint in living a minimalist life.

In case you’d like to make a difference through action, here are a few easy ways to reduce water waste in general.

  1. Take shorter showers. When I was young, my mom grilled into our heads to take only five minute showers so as not to waste water and time. She also had us turn on the shower to get wet, then turn off the shower to shampoo our hair and soap our bodies. Then we turn on the water to rinse and that is it. Whenever we took too long in the shower, she would start timing it and come in to tell us when shower time was over.
  2. Turn off water whenever possible. My mom was also very adamant about turning off the water when we washed dishes. We would rinse dishes on one side of the sink, then turn off the water while we scrubbed and soaped the dishes in another part of the sink. Only after we’ve scrubbed and soaped ALL the dishes did we rinse them in one go. It was not only water efficient, it was efficient overall. This doesn’t only apply to washing dishes, however. We turned off water to brush our teeth as well. You can also do the same when washing your hands.
  3. Wear clothes more than once. My mom disliked it when we wore our clothes only once and then threw them in the hamper. She wanted us to wear shirts, pajamas, and pants multiple times. Of course, if we ever wore clothes to school or out, we would wash them. But clothes worn at home should be worn a full week. I know that seems dramatic, but she was obviously very water conscious.
  4. Use a dishwasher. Studies have shown that green dishwashers waste less water when they are filled with dirty dishes than handwashing does. I first learned this volunteering at a regenerative farm in South Orange County. Treehugger posted a very good post explaining what it would take to make hand-washing more efficient than dishwashing here. What you want to avoid is running a dishwasher that isn’t full of dirty dishes. In a two-three person household, this may mean not running the dishwasher every night. Of course, using less utensils overall will help as well.
  5. Consider xeriscaping. Xeriscaping is a way of landscaping your backyards and front yards with plants that require very little water. Green lawns are pretty to look at but they use a lot of water to maintain. Desert plants such as cacti are more water efficient and look good, too.

There you have it! Ways to celebrate World Water Day every day.

Photo by mrjn Photography on Unsplash

Monthly Goals: March 2021

February always feels like a month gone by. I ended up working more days in February, covering for doctors who went on vacation, so I did not reach as many blogging goals as I had anticipated. Despite that, the blog saw an increase in income, as well as an increase in traffic. I was able to keep up with my personal goals, focusing on building meaningful relationships with my patients, family and friends.

A lot of things has happened in our life career-wise as well! Mike received three offers for a full-time job and he accepted one! It has been one year since he worked full-time, but we are very happy with the offers he received. This means we will no longer need to pay for our own health insurance, he will get a 401K match, and we have all the other fun benefits that come with steady work.

I also took on a new role as the wholesale director for Rye Goods Co., the same bakery that I used to work midnight shifts at two years ago. We now have a storefront on Lido Island in Newport Beach, so do come say hi when you have the chance! Now, I am a part-time dentist, part-time blogger, and part-time bakery wholesale director. I decide my hours and schedule, and am contracted for all three positions. I am very excited for my new way of working and grateful for all the people I get to interact with. Additionally, with the exception of the two days I work as a dentist, I get to work from home with my husband and enjoy afternoon sunshine in the living room with my cat. My entire life has changed for the better after I saved up enough money to financially independent and quit a job I disliked. I told myself that I will never take this for granted and not waste this opportunity. With that, here are my goals for March.

Personal:

  • Wake up early every morning and utilize the wee hours for my T.I.M.E. ritual: T- Thankfulness Practice by Gratitude Journaling, I- Insight by listening to podcasts, writing, or reading, M- Meditate using the TIDE app, and E – Exercise whether that’s running or hiking.
  • Put phone away one hour before bed and limit Instagram use to 30 minutes per day.
  • Use the Monk Manual every day to guide my intentional living.
  • Create continuation between days by preparing the night before for the next morning’s most important tasks.
  • Meditate with the TIDE app every morning.
  • Stay offline one day per week.

Health:

  • Exercise 5 days a week.
  • Immerse in the outdoors 3 days a week.
  • Use Magnesium Spray to boost energy, lift mood, calm the mind, and relax the muscles.
  • Clean eating with whole foods and regenerative foods.
  • Try food journaling.

Work:

  • Create systems for my new role at Rye Goods Co. in order to improve the organization of all wholesale clients.
  • Familiarize myself with the billing and invoice platform for Rye Goods Co.
  • Begin to onboard new clients by the end of March.
  • Create genuine, meaningful relationships with patients by spending an extra five minutes each appointment learning one new thing about their social life.
  • Publish 20 blog posts.
  • Top last month’s 7.4K Pinterest views.
  • Top last month’s $600 blogging income.

Home:

  • Put away things daily.
  • Do a pantry clean out and organization.
  • Declutter paper and digital files and email.

Finance:

  • Save $7k next month to ramp up for whenever student loan repayment resumes – invest 20% of it and place 80% in our Marcus High Yield Saving’s Account.
  • Close on a second refinance of our home, hopefully sealing the interest rate at 2.875%.
  • Cancel our health insurance now that Mike got a full-time job!
  • Get our taxes filed.

Photo by STIL on Unsplash

Gift Guide: Valentine’s Day

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February 14 is an upcoming excuse for me to celebrate love in all definitions of the word and I’m jumping on said opportunity like a runaway train. This past year has brought to my attention the importance of meaningful relationships and I thank my lucky stars everyday for the makings of my post-COVID world, namely family and a toothless cat. Add to the mix my recent infatuation with signs of self-love and you’ve got Cupid herself. Valentine’s Day presents a solid excuse for me to go BIG- and stay home.

I’m shelling out on June Shine and wine, and staying in to dine. My ideas frolic around remaking a favorite wedge salad and sprawling on cement floors with puzzle pieces between my toes, wearing my Levi’s, a sweatshirt and my finest jewelry. I’m hoping for California gloom, which may be too much to ask for in February, but I am a hopeless romantic after all. I’ll stick tortoiseshell barrettes in my hair, walk with bare-feet, and relentlessly lounge around hoping my candles don’t light my plants on fire. And if that doesn’t paint a picture of modern age glam, muted and minimalist, then perhaps these Valentine’s Day gift ideas will do – a collection of small gestures and grandiose offerings.

Of course, there’ll be kisses and cat cuddles, couches, Netflix, and a sink full of dirty dishes mixed in there too. It’s gonna be purrfect.

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Monthly Goals: February 2021

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

This post is written in partnership with Monk Manual. I have had the privilege of trying their 90-day planner and can truly say that it functions well as a guide for balancing being and doing. Sometimes the latter outweighs the former and we lose sight of who we are and what our purpose is. In order to glean as much as I could from this experience, I spent January reading Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty. I have found that the Monk Manual really helps me live my dharma, find gratitude in my waking moments, listen to my thoughts and emotions without judgement, and learn from my experiences. Whereas other planners have been efficient in creating a productive work flow, the Monk Manual supersedes the others by leaving room for spiritual growth – our most beneficial but oft neglected kind of work. The modern world could use a planner such as this, not to find what’s been missing, but to uncover what’s been with us all along.

A Review of Productive January

January was an effective month for me. I kept up with most of my habits, including meditating five days a week, exercising almost daily, giving up alcohol, getting plenty of rest, docking the phone one hour before bed, and limiting my caffeine intake while increasing my exposure to sunshine and open air. I completed two books (Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty), saw my family every week, completed SEO courses and dental CE courses, and grew my blog multiple ways. Still, there are some improvements to be made. I can limit my social media use further, as well as give myself more time to create. Rather than focusing on what did not work in January and viewing them as failures, I have reframed my thinking to what improvements I have to look forward to in the future. It’s amazing how the words we use can change our energies from negative to positive. For February, I want to focus on having an intentional month, and will go into how the Monk Manual 90 day planner guides meaning into our daily lives.

An Intentional February – Aligning Doing with Being

Before we get into the nitty gritty of the doing, I wanted to share a few thoughts about being. I have spent the last few months since quitting my job delving deep into why I was dissatisfied with my work. I read the book Joy at Work by Marie Kondo and Kinfolk Entrepreneur by the Kinfolk team. I took personality tests such as this DISC assessment and studied my enneagram results for the umpteenth time. I had conversations with my friends, siblings, and husband about what my personality results tell me, and how I can maneuver around my shortcomings better while setting myself up for personal success. I journaled about my goals, motivations, inspirations and wildest dreams, analyzing what my driving force is. Most importantly, I expressed on paper everything that gave me sadness and despair about my old way of life.

I have come to the conclusion that among other factors such as an unideal work environment and an office culture that was unaligned with my personality, part of the reason why my old job was painful to me was because it didn’t align with my dharma. And that was entirely my fault. I had never spent time trying to figure out my true purpose in life, aside from making money and a living. I never honed in on what brought me joy, and what kept me going. The reason I wasn’t happy was because what I was doing wasn’t the same as my being. I was surprised by the results of my assessments and also at the opportunities that suddenly presented themselves during my hiatus. It turns out that life will naturally present what you attract, if you leave enough space for it.

How to Use the Monk Manual to Live An Intentional Life

In an effort to coincide what I do with who I am, February is focused on intentional planning, which is where Monk Manual comes in. Like my previous planner Mal Paper (read my review of Mal Paper Planner here), the Monk Manual 90 day planner focuses on prioritizing the tasks ahead to increase productivity. Writing down a to-do list is not intentional enough, if it is filled with activities that do not move us toward our goals. The Monk Manual has a weekly prioritization list but also a daily one. And just like the Mal Paper planner, Monk Manual leaves room for gratitude journaling at the beginning of the day as well as a space to write down what went well. Whereas both of those practices sets one up for a good work day, neither helps with spiritual growth.

I have found that Monk Manual works really well at fostering spiritual growth. On the daily pages, it leaves space to list the one thing we most look forward to, as well as the ways in which we can give. At the end of the day, Monk Manual promotes reflection by asking the user to list three highlights, and the three times they were at their best. The latter shows the moments in daily living that really align with their natural purpose in life. Then it asks for times when we feel unrest, which highlights the part of our lives that probably goes against what we want for ourselves. Lastly, it asks for one way we can all improve tomorrow, because our work is never done.

On the weekly pages, it prepares for personal growth, relationship growth and the good things ahead. This way of planning is new to me. I have always been focused on business growth, never realizing that personal growth is perhaps the more important metric.

Here are examples of personal growth goals that I look forward to in February.

February Goals for Personal Growth

  • Speak less, listen more.
  • Pause before every response.
  • Practice saying, “Let me get back to you.”
  • Every time I speak ill of someone, write down 10 positive affirmations for them to see the good they bring.
  • Be a humble worker so as to inspire respect, never demand it.
  • Grow my relationships by giving self-less service, sharing words of gratitude, and gifting more frequently.

At the end of the week, the reflection prompts ask for the biggest accomplishments, habit insights, and meaningful moments. The habit insights are useful to me because sometimes a habit that I wanted to adopt isn’t exactly the right habit for the goal I want to reach. The section for meaningful moments is also good because it highlights that our biggest accomplishments aren’t always our most meaningful milestones. We are more than what we do. Lastly, it has an area titled “God Is Teaching Me” although I would prefer for it to actually say “Life is Teaching Me”. Regardless, it provides an opportunity to look at our shortcomings and learn something from it so that we can move forward with our improvements.

Both the daily pages and the weekly pages make the monthly section easy to fill out. At the beginning of the month, you check in on your status around relationships, physicality, spirituality, work, personal growth, and playfulness. It also asks for one change you wish to make in the next month that will create the biggest impact, and one questions to answer this month. At the end of the month, the reflections section can use what you’ve written weekly and daily to remember the biggest accomplishments of the month. It also asks for the four relationships you are most grateful for, and the greatest insight you gained, creating space for gratitude and growth.

Embracing the Monk Mentality

The Monk Manual opens with a letter to its user in which it details a monk’s habits.

Where the world says focus on more, the monk says focus on less.

Where the world seeks to master outcomes, the monk seeks to master self.

Where the world fills our lives with noise and distraction, the monk fills his or her life with quiet and focus.

Where the world pursues a life of independence, the monk pursues a life of trust, walking the path of life with God and others.

Where the world medicates, the monk meditates.”

For a more intentional February, I am embracing the monk mentality and implementing what I have learned in reading Think Like A Monk. I will use the Monk Manual all month to adopt a more reflective way of planning, thereby increasing my self-awareness. Also, instead of only worrying about my goals, I want to focus more on service.

The question I want to answer this month is “How can I give more?”

To myself, and to others. It’s a question you guys can help me answer. Meanwhile, I give you my February goals. I already listed my personal ones above.

WORK:

  • Invest my time into learning more about SEO, website development, marketing, and dentistry.
  • Grow my blog connections through collaborations and partnerships.
  • Foster my relationships with my patients by dedicating five extra minutes per patient trying to learn one thing about their personal life that I never knew before.
  • Act from a place of service, as a humble worker. Answer the question: “How can I use my talents to serve others and make a difference?”

HOME:

  • Location has energy, and we must always choose the right location for our dharma. Dedicate to maintaining a clean, minimalist home to facilitate my creative personality.
  • Dedicate each space in the home to a single, clear purpose.
  • Create the ideal workspace in order to facilitate my best work. Find a desk, imagine what I want it to look like and how I want it to function.

HEALTH:

  • Exercise five days a week by either running or doing yoga.
  • Meditate with TIDE app five days a week.
  • Sleep early, wake early. My goal is to wake up by 5:45 am every morning so that I can dedicate the time for meditation, gratitude, exercise, and insight.

FINANCES:

  • Limit spending on myself to practice letting go of materialism. Dedicate only $30 of fun money spending for myself.
  • If I am able to forgo shopping this month, place the fun money in a brokerage account and invest it instead.
  • Spend less on groceries ($250 for the household) and dining out ($100 for the household).

OTHER:

  • Create my own bath salts.
  • Bake a new cake recipe.
  • Cook 2 donabe recipes.
  • Read 2 books.
  • Try Kintsugi for the first time.
  • Finish one drawing.
  • Do 10 minutes of Duolingo French every day.
  • Spend 30 minutes outdoors three times a week.

Gift Guide: For Coffee Lovers

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We are coffee geeks. Well, to put more accurately, Mr. Debtist is a coffee geek and I happen to benefit tremendously from his random tidbits of coffee knowledge. We have traveled the world, he in search of the best coffee, me in search of the best bread. It’s a good marriage, coffee and bread.

We have visited to a coffee farm in Hawaii, attended coffee cupping classes, and visited cafes in Mexico City, MX, Melbourne, AU, and San Francisco, CA to name a few. Over the course of our time together (it has already been ten years!), we have owned all sorts of gadgets and have experimented with everything from uniquely processed coffee beans to cupping vessels.

Coffee, to me, is more than energy fuel. It is a symbol of slow living. Ironic, isn’t it? I don’t drink coffee to get stuff done. I don’t even drink coffee to wake myself up. I drink it because I like the preparation process. I like the nuances in taste, which is dependent on everything from type of bean, location of the coffee farm, roasting process, roasting date, water temperature, and of course, how you pour. There are very few activities that keep me in the present moment but making coffee is one of them. It is the part of my life that keeps my day-to-day united. Whereas some people consider their days in terms of new beginnings and an end, I am trying to view them as connected to each other; a continuous cycle, if I may. Coffee is one of the things that ground me in that cycle. Every evening, I look forward to the next morning’s cup. Every morning’s cup creates space to slow down and think about all the things that happened to me the day before. And so it goes, connecting my days into one full life.

Of course coffee symbolizes different things for different people. Whereas I view it as my reminder to live slowly, others may view it as the giver of life. Even if coffee isn’t your thing, there is likely someone you know who loves coffee. In which case, here a coffee gift guide, for whoever needs it. These are our favorite products (all of which we have either owned at some point or personally tried).

Play Pretend: Sleep

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On the heels of my previous post regarding the power of sleep as a method of self-care, I decided to play pretend and create the ideal space for a good night’s rest. Good sleep isn’t fashioned out of thin air for most. Many factors play a role. Some of these factors include the avoidance of blue-light from screens up to two hours prior to bedtime. Light in general should be avoided. Heavy duty curtains can prevent outdoor light from shining into the bedroom of a downtown loft. A cheaper option would be an individual sleep mask for the eyes. On top of sleeping in a darkened room, an ergonomic mattress has been shown to greatly improve quality of sleep. An added priority should be sheets that are friendly to the skin and worth sinking into. Lastly, humidity control and replenishing masks allow skin to recuperate overnight from the harshness of sunlight.

In an effort to create the ideal micro-environment for decent shut-eye, here are a list of home favorites that set me up for sleep success.

In an effort to stray from the indication that good sleep requires spending, here are a list of free actionable tips to improve your sleep.

  • Maintain consistency in following your natural circadian rhythms.
  • Avoid screens up to two hours prior to bedtime.
  • Drink a glass of water prior to sleeping and upon awakening.
  • Quiet the mind in the form of meditation.
  • Include physical activity in your daily routine.
  • Consider when you eat. Go to bed satiated, not hungry or full.

Of course, a combination of both creating the right environment and doing the right actions creates the best results. You may also find relevance in the following posts.

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