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conscious living minimalism style

Meaning Over Materialism: My Break-Up With A Blog

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I’ve had my share break-ups over the years.  That newly single feeling is strange; while part of you is happy to be free, another feels a bit lost.  What will fill the new emptiness? A couple of years ago I experienced one of my worst break-ups of all:

I ended a long-term relationship with a blog.

It sounds funny, doesn’t it?  It all started as a hobby in 2011, right after my San Francisco years. With a basic layout and Instagram-fed posts, I began sharing photos of bayside scenes, outfits of the day, and what I had for lunch on a Tumblr account.  It was quick and simple- I didn’t bother with links or text, just photos.  After a couple of years it morphed into something completely different- it was a daily documentation of my personal style.

I loved my “photo journal.”  I felt every outfit, color, and scene I chose came together to tell a story, each for the reader to interpret.  Every morning I would use a self-timer app on my phone to capture my outfit of the day, always in front of an interesting backdrop or within nature.  The water was always my favorite place to shoot- hence the blog name, K on the Bay.  From photography and editing to merchandising and marketing, my blog was my baby.  It was also my identity- I could hide behind my signature shades and be whoever I wanted to be.  No one else in Northern Michigan was doing anything like it at the time, so I felt my progress and impact much more than I would have in a big city.  It was fun, and it felt good.

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After a while I started working with small companies and up-and-coming designers (often friends of mine), helping them promote their brands by providing content.  They’d give me clothes, and in return I would wear and style the pieces, provide photos, write-ups, and social media posts.  Once I started to get inquiries about collaborations with bigger or more expensive brands (pieces I probably wouldn’t have bought on my own), I made sure to throw in budget items and thrift store finds as usual.  I wanted my blog to be accessible for a creative, polished smart shopper.

I moved to New York in 2014 and was still blogging in full-force, but my creativity wasn’t up to par.  Taking photos without people in the background was nearly impossible and I hardly strayed away from my beloved all-black ensembles.  As I received more and more items that didn’t feel like “me,” I would whip up a post just to get the content out there, never to wear the pieces again.  I was going against everything I stood for: authenticity and meaning.  I was taking outfit photos for the sake of the photo, not because I felt strongly about the brand or actually wanted to share the pieces with others.  Doesn’t that completely discredit the entire concept of influencer marketing?

It’s crucial for me to do all things with meaning, or else I won’t put in the effort at all.  Blogging seemed more like a chore than a joy, and I could feel my passion rapidly fading.  My intuition continued to tell me it was time to focus on something new, and slowly but surely I started to realize how meaningless all of my “stuff” was.  I began downsizing after abruptly deleting my blog on New Year’s Eve 2015, started a new Tumblr, took more photos of the beautiful world around me and, most importantly, began writing from my heart.  I used to only be comfortable sharing what was on the surface- oh, how freeing it is share from the soul!

Earlier this year I wrote about how a fashion girl went frugal, which was picked up by Thought Catalog.  My transition into minimalism was a natural one that has lead me on a whole new path to spirituality, serenity, and self discovery.  Break-ups are inevitable, but there is one relationship that will always fill the void: the relationship with yourself.

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New Year’s Day 2016
Categories
conscious living minimalism

Purpose Over Possessions

As I was journaling today I thought about a few conversations I’ve had with friends who are on similar self-discovery journeys.  Most recently, we discussed our crumbling culture in the United States and how technology has pushed us away from embracing human connections, gratitude, and simplicity.  Although our society may literally have the world at our fingertips thanks to smartphones, we are now longing for a deeper connection with both our planet and the world around us.  

We are seeking face-to-face interactions, the smell of old books, the beauty of the sunrise, the flavors of our meal.  We are beginning to realize that although it’s great to feel connected with our family and friends online, experiencing the moment is more important than documenting it.  “Things” are beginning to matter less, and meaningful connections to other people and mattering more. 

It’s encouraging to hear stories of the millennial generation breaking away from our society’s importance of material things and making life experiences, nature, and culture a priority over money, consumerism, and power. Money is merely a tool to get things done- once you think of it that way, it doesn’t feel like such a weight on your shoulders.

When our actions and motivations are aligned with love, money begins to flow easier, we feel lighter, and we begin to connect with the right people and places that will guide us.  

What are you doing to align with your purpose?

Categories
conscious living minimalism self discovery style

How A Fashion Blogger Went Minimalist

I used to be one of those people who saw something on sale and bought it in every color. When I found a dress, pair of pants or top I loved, I would do the same- the more, the better!  I would mindlessly shop on a Saturday and search the sale racks for things I didn’t need, but were “too good to pass up.”

My closet was full, my dresser drawers were breaking, and I couldn’t even account for most of my shoes.  I forgot about things I owned, left the tags on multiple items and constantly took things to consignment stores- only to buy more.

It was insanity.

I vividly remember packing up my childhood house prior to my mother putting it on the market.  I was on my way to start a new life in New York City, blindly moving into an Upper West Side apartment with one closet.  Obviously, I thought it was necessary to pack everything I owned and send it on over.  Endless boxes and several luggages later, I had an overflowing closet full of everything I could possibly need- yet only stuck to a few pieces.

I had purses in every color, shape and size. I had shoes I never wore.  Don’t even get me started on the “seasonal” items that barely saw the light of day.

During my time in New York, I moved twice and got rid of a lot.  Some of the pieces I sold broke my heart, but I needed the money more than I needed the fashion statement.  I started by selling the old pieces I didn’t feel great in and the navy items that clashed with my everyday blacks.  I started to realize that over the years my style has remained the same: classic, minimal, and grey scale.

Yes, there are many ways to dress up a basic ensemble.  I also learned that the costume jewelry, uncomfortable heels and impractical handbags only took up space and weren’t necessary for me to complete “the look.”

It was time to embrace minimalism.

Now, I’m not one of those people who counts the number of pieces I own or commits to getting rid of two items when I bring in one- no.  I believe life is all about balance.  However, I stick to a look yet have only a few items that are outliers (a green dress, a bright bag, or a chunky necklace).

Thinking about decluttering and discovering your signature look?  Here’s a few questions to ask yourself to get started.

What do I feel best in?

I have a lot of black tank tops and leggings.  They’re versatile and practical, whether dressing up or down.  I believe in quality over quantity, so I find a brand I like and toss them when they start getting old.

Whether going out with friends or running errands, I love a basic black dress.  I have many.  Sundresses, work dresses, everyday dresses.  People often ask me why I get dressed up, and my response is simple: “I’m only throwing on one thing.  It’s easy.”  No effort, yet I feel chic and polished.  It doesn’t get much better than that (oh yes- and my favorite black dress was $8 and from H&M.  No one would ever guess).

What do I really wear?

Going back to leggings, this brings me to jeans.  I can’t stand them.  I stand at a petite 5’3, so it’s a challenge finding jeans that both fit and feel comfortable.  I would much rather wear an oversized shirt or throw a long tank over my leggings instead of feeling restricted in jeans.  I only own two pairs as of today.

Jewelry was a big thing for me, too. Most of my jewelry is simple or sentimental, and all of the other boxes and bags of statement pieces gathered dust.  I stopped buying cheap, and started thinking practical.

What colors do I gravitate toward?

It’s clear I prefer blacks, whites and greys, but I also like pops of color.  My favorites are red and green.  I don’t restrict myself to these colors, but the majority of my wardrobe can be worn interchangeably with all of my pieces.  It’s like a game of mix and match.

I remember how proud of myself I was when I packed for a trip home for the holidays.  Everything I wore worked together.  Boots, flats, leggings, skirts, tops, dresses.  This was when I had my “a-ha” moment- I realized I didn’t really need as much as I owned.

What brands suit my style and budget?

I got on a Henri Bendel handbag and jewelry kick while living in New York.  They always have amazing sales, so I enjoy getting a new handbag or monogrammed tote every season or two.  I also have stayed true to budget brands such as H&M, Old Navy and ASOS, who year after year come out with little black dresses and basic pieces that fit me.  Gap is one of the only brands that consistently has “short” jeans that fit me- I just pick up the number, hit the register and go- I don’t have to waste any time, and I know that they’ll fit.

It’s great to discover new brands, but also important to know your body and your style- whatever your budget may be.

I don’t like to spend a lot of money on clothing items (I’d rather splurge and buy nice shoes or a bag), as I have a tendency to spill coffee or sit on something that may stain- yet another reason I wear a lot of black.  City life can also do a number on your clothing, so I try to avoid getting myself into a situation where I ruin a $200 top that I couldn’t afford in the first place.

As I reflect on my path from excessive spending and hoarding to getting a rush from cleaning out my closet, I am grateful to lose fashion FOMO.  I used to constantly compare myself to fashion magazines, women around me and the latest trends, but now I wouldn’t trade my signature style for any other.

Being happy within yourself, and your outfit, is one of the greatest gifts of all- minimalist or not. ❤️

Categories
conscious living mindfulness minimalism self care

Living Beautifully

 

I used to get tied up in day to day monotony and focused on all of the things I “had” to do or “should” do.  This was especially prevalent in New York.  I didn’t always stop to enjoy the beauty around me or the small details that bring each day joy.

My life was so chaotic that I didn’t enjoy the little things, such as sitting to enjoy a smoothie at Starbucks, journaling, listening to the birds, painting my nails to coordinate with my outfit, or taking pictures of the sunrise.  I just rushed through life to get to the next moment.  That’s no way to live.

After leaving NYC last summer, I lived with family by the lake in a small Michigan town, away from the modern conveniences of city living.  It was the perfect “reset.”  I enjoyed coffee in the backyard each morning, relaxed by the water, and actually enjoyed my meals- I stopped rushing and began to enjoy the moment.

That was when my true passion for mindfulness began.

When I started this blog in the beginning of December 2016, I wanted to combine my mindfulness lessons with my love for style and living beautifully.  People have continually told me to relax and stop worrying about my makeup, outfit or hair- but those are things I enjoy.  It’s a part of “living beautifully.”

I believe there’s a fine balance between relaxing and simply feeling good for you.  Some days I want to run around in a baseball cap and flip flops, and others I want to wear my staple- the little black dress.  It all depends on the day.

Living beautifully is about balance.

Life in Boston has provided a perfect mix of city life and mindful living, as this historic city is so diverse with beauty, culture, nature and sophistication.  Mindful in Style came naturally to me after just six short days, and I’ve enjoyed writing about my life of mindfulness, minimalism, style and spirituality ever since.

What does living beautifully mean to you?

Categories
conscious living mindfulness minimalism

Living on a Minimalist’s Budget

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Every January I tell myself, “this is the year I will stick to a budget.” While my intentions are good, my track record has been less than superb.

To illustrate, I looked at my calendar and realized that 2017 marks ten years since I graduated college. Ten years. Boy, do I wish someone would have taught me then what I know now.

In an effort to live as minimally and stress free as possible, I have begun focusing on quality over quantity, purging what I don’t need and only buying things when I need them, yet I still have failed sticking to a budget.

My Expenses

Since I have minimal bills, there is little to no reason I should go over my budget every month. First, I listed all of the expenses I know I will have and came up with a rough estimate.

  • Rent
  • Food
  • Cell phone
  • CharlieCard (train / bus)
  • Student loan

That’s right- no car payment, no credit cards, no mortgage or gas costs. Yes, this is called city life for a single woman who has little to no attachment to things. Sometimes I wonder what my life would look like today had I settled in one place, lived minimally and invested in things like a home, but the good news is that I still have time. Although I may have spent my money a bit carelessly, I’m beginning to make an effort to spend less, save more and avoid excess clutter in my life.

Need vs. Want

I could definitely use a new Henri Bendel bag for my laptop. However, this purchase can wait considering I don’t even carry my laptop to work. In fact, it barely leaves the house these days. My point is, there are many things I can trick myself into “needing,” but then I ask myself:

1) Could I get this for less?

2) Do I need this immediately?

3) Do I need this at all?

Usually my purchase can wait (also giving me time to think it over), or I can find an alternative if there’s something I can’t wait to buy- for example, buying a drugstore brand instead of splurging at Sephora. I also trick myself into thinking I have more money than I do, so a $20 lipstick doesn’t seem like a big deal at the time- but it adds up quick.

Trading Things for Freedom

I like to think of my purchases this way: “would I rather have this item or the freedom to do what I want?” Time is money, and it takes time to work for a paycheck, so I’ve been much more conscious of each dollar I spend. Sure, marketers do an amazing job fooling me into thinking my life will ultimately be better with their products, but on those days I’m waiting for my paycheck I think, “I wish I wouldn’t have gotten takeout so many times last week.” Living paycheck to paycheck is never fun, so it’s rewarding to finally have the freedom to be able to do what you want when you’re more mindful of your budget.

More Experiences

Instead of relying on money to have fun, I’ve gotten creative. One of my favorite things to do is explore the city… I love to look at architecture, go out in nature, find free days at museums, take photos and window shop. Practicing mindfulness, enjoying each moment and taking in your surroundings is far more gratifying than having a bunch of “stuff” to sort through.

I’m a firm believer that everyone needs to live in moderation; it’s important to keep a balance and not to go too extreme with your saving or spending- after all, no matter how tight the budget, I’ll never give up my coffee.

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