Unsettled and at the very bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, things that once brought me joy eventually felt like a heavy load.
It was, too- literally. I had dozens of boxes and car loads, furniture and donations. It was organized chaos (most of the time, anyway).
Thankfully, throughout my moves and transitions, my family and friends were extremely helpful. I was running from one thing to the next looking to find peace, not knowing I had to stand still for a while to find happiness within.
That said, I’m starting to acquire things. I own some furniture. I bought an extra pair of sunglasses I don’t even need. I feel settled, content, and at peace- at last.
Even if it were all to go away, I would still be okay- for now I know true home is within.
I wish this for everyone- as well as a life of purpose, not chasing. Of living, not waiting. A life meant to be enjoyed, not numbed out or run away from.
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:
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.
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.
It’s hard to believe that this time last year I was getting ready to move to Boston!
Last Thanksgiving I flew into Michigan to plan, pack, and purge. As I mentioned in my second blog post, I packed extremely light before my move and was well on my way to becoming a full-blown minimalist. People always laugh and think I am joking when I tell them I consider myself a minimalist, but I don’t know many others who have lived a full year on just one small closet of clothes and no TV, car, or computer (my laptop died a while back, so I’ve been writing on my WordPress app or at the library). Less has certainly been more… much more.
I used to think “things” made people happy. In today’s society, how could I not have? As our nation seems to become greedier, I am more and more turned off by money and excess “stuff.” After living with what I actually need and nothing more, I’ve become more responsible with my money, time, and space. I’ve learned to truly appreciate what I do have and treat everything with care. Minimalism has taught me to be happy with myself- not stuff.
Not only do I treat my things with care, I’ve learned to treat myself with more love and compassion, too. It has been a fulfilling year of being my own best friend, but also a bit uncomfortable and lonely. As we go through a spiritual awakening and become the people we are meant to be, we shed old habits, views, and relationships. It’s been a year of ups and downs, but it’s also been a year of strength.
I have better learned who I am, what I actually need, and what matters in life.
Before moving nearly one year ago, I spent much of my life listening to outside influences- not my heart. My intuition always had an answer for me, but I was too nervous to follow its guidance in fear I wouldn’t fit in. It’s true that I have always felt a little “different,” but now I consider my differences gifts, not flaws. TodayI wouldn’t want to be anyone else.
I used to spend my energy concerned about what other people thought of me- instead of using my creative talents, I hid them. Instead of continuing projects, I stopped in fear of failure. Conflicting views and opinions left me confused, anxious, and depressed- so when I moved last year, I decided it was time to stop. Nobody knew me in Boston, so what did I have to lose?
I can’t control what others say, think, or do- so I might as well stay true to myself.
Although I am staying in Massachusetts this year, I will have my “family of intent” to share Thanksgiving with. We all have the family we are born into, but we also have special people who are in alignment with our souls. I consider this my “tribe;” the friends who have encouraged me to write, to be myself, and to follow my heart. Once I learned to value myself, compatible people and opportunities began appearing in my life. While much of my past has been shed this past year- old pain, fears, insecurities, and habits, I am so grateful for the new relationships that have helped strengthen and guide me along the way.