Categories
conscious living minimalism

A Car-Free Life: Reducing My Own Carbon Footprint

One of the things that deterred me from moving back to Michigan from the East Coast was the need for a car. It seems pretty silly, doesn’t it? Nevertheless, one of the reasons I specifically chose to move to Boston back in 2016 because of its walkability, T system, and ease of a daily commute.

I became extremely attached to the concept of not being attached to my material possessions back in 2016 as well, especially after spending over two years in New York City.

While talking to a friend who worked for an automotive company, he told me something pretty disheartening- that it is “strongly implied” at work that “only poor people” take BATA Transit Official (and they don’t count). 😳

BATA is our public transit system, and I was surprised to learn how helpful and nice it was when I came back to Michigan. The drivers were friendly, the schedules were consistent, and it took you pretty much anywhere you needed to go.

But hold up.

Yes, all walks of life take public transportation. I’ve taken the bus here and I’ve seen all kinds of people- tourists, storytellers, students, and sweet elderly people.

As a person who exclusively took the bus and train while living in San Francisco, NYC, Chicago, and Boston, it’s hard for me to go back to the pain of a car- especially going six years without one. Don’t get me wrong, I adored my Mini Cooper (my mother still has two, depending on the season), but every time something went wrong, I felt sick. With every check engine alert or knick on the door, I felt trapped by my material item.

Since selling Mini and moving to New York City in 2014, I’ve chosen not to drive.

I have walked over five miles a day for as long as I can remember (usually 10 or more on many days!), utilized a bike, and used my time in Uber or public transportation to write. After becoming much more conscious and mindful, I’ve embraced the time I can simply sit still and relax while going from point A to point B.

The “poor people” statement makes me sick to my stomach. Really. Could we please focus more on love and understanding instead of labels and judgment in this new decade?

That said, I don’t have a use for a car at the moment. I may in the future, but not now- and it’s somewhat of a political statement to avoid driving with the current state of our environment. I understand it’s necessary for many people to drive- to get to work, take their kids to school, or to travel on weekends. I’m fortunate to live in town and have the option to walk everywhere I need to go, use the bus, or take Uber if I can’t get there. My cat’s food and litter is delivered. I can even order groceries if I want to.

After six years in the city, it’s not easy to transition to a small town with a very limited view of the world. I can only hope to continue to connect with likeminded individuals who aren’t so quick to judge.

More love in 2020, please. For now, I’m grateful Traverse City has BATA- and good friends who don’t value others based on what they own.

Categories
minimalism

A Stylish Christmas

It’s been fun to dress my new apartment with holiday decor!

For the past three years I haven’t taken the time to decorate- or couldn’t- because I was sharing my home with roommates.  Now that I’m back in Traverse City with a home of my very own, I’ve finally been able to invest in pieces that I can keep (and store!) for years to come.

I always like to opt for a minimalist look, so my “less is more” mentality holds true during the Christmas season.

I found pieces that both fit my personality and style while getting into the holiday spirit- right down to the painting of a blonde girl driving a red car donned with gifts and a wreath.

It’s officially less than a month until Christmas, and I fully intend to enjoy my festive home until January.

I would love to see how you’ve decorated this year!

Categories
minimalism

Start by Simplifying: Align With Your True Self

Something has felt just a little “off” lately.  Apparently this has been obvious to the world around me, too.

For example, earlier today I walked up to a friend and stopped.  She must have noticed I was unlike my usually-energetic self, so she gave me a look of wonder.  Looking up, I said, “I haven’t been feeling myself for the past couple of weeks.”

She looked at me and nodded.  “You do seem a little bit off.”

I’ve been feeling this way for weeks now- but why?

There comes a point in everyone’s life when you recognize all you need to let go of in order to move on.  You may struggle to say goodbye to people, habits, behaviors, or doubts.  I know I have.

If I can talk the talk, why is it so hard to walk the walk?

I’ve thought I’ve let many things go, but apparently some of those things are still bubbling at the surface:  Insecurities.  Doubts.  Fear.  In turn, I also learned that my solar plexus chakra (also known as our “third chakra”) is extremely blocked and unbalanced.

I had never studied the importance of the solar plexus chakra before, but after doing so, it all made much more sense.  Although I have always felt I had a strong intuition, big heart, and solid communication skills, I never had a strong sense of self, identity, or confidence.  I moved city to city, and job to job, all to find a place where I fit, not knowing my true home was within.

After learning a little bit more, I learned that blockages in our third chakra can effect:

  • Will, personal power
  • Taking responsibility for one’s life, taking control
  • Mental abilities, the intellect
  • Forming personal opinions and beliefs
  • Making decisions, setting the direction
  • Clarity of judgments
  • Personal identity, personality
  • Self-assurance, confidence
  • Self-discipline
  • Independence

All of these attributes are obviously important to any human being, but I have found that these can also be challenges for many.  Without a strong sense of self, of course people flounder.  We change relationships, professions, neighborhoods, and even pick up bad habits, such as excessive shopping, addictions, or gambling.

Sometimes we just need to take it easy and give ourselves a hug… and a mental break.

After writing a blog post yesterday morning and relaxing in the park, I watched a June energy update in hope of finding some sort of help or answer to my “off-ness.”  One of the YouTubers I love watching is Lee Harris, who gave some helpful insights for the June energy, and the challenges we faced in May:

MAY WAS AN INTENSE MONTH.

It brought with it a lot of change, a SHIFT IN OUR IDENTITIES and also new levels of CLARITY around any aspects that had been unclear or muddy in your life. Your mind may suddenly have become clear about these areas and allowed you to make changes in patterns of behaviour, relationships or careers. The changes may have been obvious – things that weren’t working and for many, the element of surprise would have accompanied this. What this now ALLOWS you to do is make room on the inside to adjust and calibrate, before taking your next actions or welcoming the next level of energy into your life.

There are two ways we create change on the planet; we try something out externally and it changes who we are internally as a response; or equally, we can sit with ourselves and go within for a while and meditate on who we are and what we want from life. Then after this period of INNER SHIFT, different and new things start to manifest in our outer lives.

Confidence is the next big factor of my life I need to work on; being confident in doing my best.  Confident in my friendships.  Confident in my work.  Being confident in my identity.

I have spent so many years concerned about what my family, friends, or complete strangers have thought of me.  Maybe that is my next step: becoming truly happy no matter what is going on on the outside.  Don’t get me wrong; I’ve taken a lot of steps.  However, there is always work to be done.

So far, I’m off to a good start- over the past couple of days I’ve been busy at the gym, got a new haircut, and have learned to slow down… a little, anyway.  As we move through June, I am optimistic that each day I’ll become a little more grounded, a little more sure of myself, and a little more in-tune with my third chakra; because if I’ve learned one thing by now, it’s “wherever you go, there you are.”

If you still have questions about the June energy, you can check out the rest of Lee’s energy report here.

Categories
conscious living mindfulness minimalism

Simple Glam- Making the Most of a Small Space

Over the weekend I gave my bathroom a makeover.  Despite living minimally, I’ve made an effort to give my humble abode a few little luxuries.

It’s not always easy to make an old room look shiny and new!  Ever since moving into my first San Francisco apartment ten years ago, I’ve grown accustomed to outdated (and overpriced) spaces that need a creative touch.  Although my bathroom wasn’t that bad, it definitely needed a little face lift.

Knowing I had blue tiles and plastic light fixtures to work with, I wanted to go for a clean, simple look.  As I was browsing through Marshalls, I stumbled across a sea-stripe shower curtain by Kate Spade– and although it wasn’t what I had initially been looking for, it was perfect for a New England girl.

Decorating Tip #1~ Find a staple piece and work everything else around it.

Now that I had my theme, I was ready to accessorize.  I had been living bare-bones since moving in; mismatched towels, a broken towel hook, and an old shower curtain had been holding me over these past seven months.  Needless to say, it was time to show the room some love.

I picked up the necessities- matching towels, a towel hook, bathmat, and a couple accessories to warm up the space.  It took me three days and several stores to find the perfect shades of blue, but once I made it to Primark, my search was over.  For just $26, I got two new bath towels, two hand towels and a bath mat- all to perfectly match my shower curtain.

Organization is huge for me.  I no longer keep “extras” in my house, either- if it’s old, broken, or useless, I toss it.  Long are the days of hoarding old nail polish, extra eyeshadow shades, or almost-gone lipstick.

Decorating Tip #2~ When arranging things, be sure they’re in a logical area- separate items such as lotions, beauty tools, perfumes, etc.  Not only will your area be tidy, it will be much easier to find everything!

It’s amazing what a few tiny touches can do!  In addition to this weekend’s purchases, I refurbished and reorganized a few things I already had.  I moved a few pictures on the wall, painted the vanity trim gold, and re-purposed a jewelry stand to hold my lotions.  With rose-gold accents and Tiffany-blue trimming, my chic and simple bathroom was complete.

Decorating Tip #3~ You don’t need to buy new everything- just move things around!

So, when all was said and done, I completed my bathroom makeover for under $70.  How did I do it?  Here’s the breakdown:

Shower Curtain: Marshalls, $20

Hand Towels: Primark, 2 pack, $13

Towels: Primark, 2 pack, $7

Bath Mat: Primark, $6

Over-the-Door Hanger: TJ Maxx, $6

Decorative Tree: Target, $6

Jar: Marshalls, $2

Candle: Marshalls, $6

Total Bathroom Makeover: $66.00

Not bad for a small space, is it?

Categories
conscious living minimalism

Traveling Light- Collecting Sentiments, Not Stuff

It just occurred to me that this is one of my first “minimalist” trips.  In the past I used to always check a bag or two, pack enough shoes for three weeks, and prepare for any occasion.

Not anymore.

As I packed for a week in Colorado, I was realistic- I knew I’d be lounging around during the day, working away on my laptop, and bundling up to go out and explore.  This has been a bit of a “working vacation;” while my friend is at his office during the day, I’ve been drinking endless amounts of coffee in his luxury apartment lobby, working away, and catching up on TV shows (since, you know, I normally watch shows from my laptop).

I brought one carry-on- my packable Henri Bendel overnight bag (which comes in Bendel stripe or black), making it easy to store after getting back from a getaway.  Since Henri is my favorite for all the things, I had my plaid purse and monogram cross-body bag along for the trip.  I was glad airport security didn’t have anything to say about me having three personal items, not two- but my cross-body is small enough to get away with.

So, far, so good.  Packing was a success.

Yesterday we took a road trip to Boulder and checked out the lovely Pearl Street shopping area after exploring Flagstaff Mountain.  Shopping used to be one of my favorite activities of all time.  My friend Brett just so happens to be the best shopping partner, too.  Over the years he’s accompanied me on many excursions- from shoe shopping in San Francisco to Macy’s with my mom and me in NYC, he’s a really great sport.  Not this time, though- he didn’t have any bags to help carry and didn’t spend hours waiting for me outside a fitting room.  Since the beginning of our friendship (when my fashion blog was in full-force) my priorities have taken a major shift- what used to be one of my favorite pastimes now gives me a ping of anxiety, with a “where will I put this?” running in the back of my mind.

My colorful wardrobe of items I never wore has since been replaced by classic blacks, staple pieces, and favorites- no duplicates, no “because it was on sale” excuses, no space fillers.  Just things I actually wear and love.

Sure, I’m on a budget and don’t have space in my carry-on- I packed as much as I possibly could into that Bendel bag- but I also realized I don’t need anything new.  Just a couple of weeks ago I did a major deep-cleaning in my apartment, doing two huge loads of laundry and gutting my entire closet to re-organize.  Even though I didn’t think I had much, it was entirely overwhelming.  Step by step, I organized socks, shirts, skirts, leggings, loungewear, etc.  After all was said and done, I felt AMAZING.  I knew where everything was, ditched the things I no longer use or wear, and created a method to the madness.  “Stuff” can get overwhelming even when you’re a minimalist- there’s just less of it!

This trip has inspired me to consign and donate even more of the clothes I have.  It’s made me take a closer look at the things I really need- and things I haven’t missed in my six days in Denver.  So, what did I bring, you ask?

Seven days in Denver: Packing List

  • Hairdryer
  • Straightener
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush
  • Face lotion
  • Nail polish (Essie “Merino Cool”)
  • 2 black tanks (H&M, 2 for $10)
  • 3 black leggings
  • 3 sweatshirts (two black, one grey)
  • 1 black dress (in case it got nice- it hasn’t)
  • 1 pair of tights
  • 1 black cardigan sweater
  • 1 SF Giants t-shirt
  • 1 SF Giants hat
  • Workout clothes- yoga pants, sports bra, running shoes
  • 1 quilted black coat
  • Bras, underwear, socks
  • Suede ankle boots
  • Black ballet flats
  • Laptop

This is all I brought.

My plane wardrobe consisted of a black tank, black wrap sweater, leggings, booties (that were easy to slide on and off at security), black scarf, and my long(er) quilted black coat.  The beauty of each and every item I packed is that everything goes with everything.  That’s the key to packing- having an interchangeable capsule wardrobe.

Although my love for clothes will never die, I’ve learned to prioritize and focus on quality over quantity.  Even though I didn’t do any damage on Pearl Street, I experienced something even better- mindful moments with a good friend, enjoying the beauty of nature, and some relaxing time away from home.  I did get a sticker from Trident Books, an iconic Boulder bookstore.  Coincidentally, the sticker (which came from a machine) is of a woman meditating in the forest with a baby deer on her lap.  We had just seen deer running through the mountain, too!  I put the sticker on my laptop as a reminder of this fabulous trip, and to stay mindful in every moment.

I leave Denver tomorrow afternoon and am so grateful for this re-set.  I start a new job on Thursday and I’m thrilled about the opportunity- and to be able to recharge before I begin a new chapter.

If this trip has taught me anything, it has confirmed the importance of collecting sentiments, not stuff.  There truly is a freedom to living more with less- so get outside, take a deep breath, and remember what really matters- this moment.