Categories
conscious living

How Mindfulness Reconnected Me With Fashion

When I started my personal style blog “K on the Bay” in 2012, I snapped shots of my hometown, sunsets, and my shoes.

If I could tie in a few local brands or thrifty finds, great! As a simple Tumblr site, my vision was to show how classic style and nature go hand-in-hand. As the years went on, I became more conscious of my content. I began taking photos to get the post out quickly, ignoring my initial creative vision and love for the process.

When it was authentic for me to put on an outfit, head into work, and snap shots along Grand Traverse Bay, great! Yet once I moved to New York City, it became a chore. I started to shift my focus from creative endeavors to relationships, which also served a good purpose- for the time.

Not only did I never wear heels unless absolutely necessary, I barely wore color, either.

NYFW 2014 with Dallas and Jacey


Then, I realized I was wearing clothes to make other people happy: not me.

The brands, the designers, the ad agencies- I was leaving behind my own vision to adapt to someone else’s.

I had to take a step back and think- what clothes do I feel good in no matter what?

What do I grab first out of my closet?

Although it wasn’t organic or natural for me to snap daily outfit shots in a busy city like New York- especially when I was single with a self-timer- I still had a lot of thoughts. I started writing for my friend Ashley’s website, Kinda Kind, two months after I mysteriously hit “delete” on my blog New Year’s Eve 2016. Leaving behind four years of photos, collaborations, and memories may have been hard, but I was ready to leave behind my materialistic past and figure out what truly made me happy.

My last few months in NYC were challenging- it was pure survival mode. Trump was running for President, the #MeToo movement was a year and a half away, and my own mental health needed a serious break.

I found peace in the park and spent hours writing by the reservoir. I pondered the meaning of life, wondering if I would ever find any sort of fulfillment.

I spent the next few years writing about my journey, what makes me happy, and learned who I am as a woman- without any distractions. Being conscious of what brings me joy- not what commercials, “influencers,” or Cosmopolitan Magazine tells me- was the first step in finding inner peace.

Instead of spending Saturday morning in bed, I would get up and take a walk across the Charles River Esplanade. I began noticing the patterns in nature, the animals at the park, and the familiar faces at my Cambridge Starbucks.

As I documented my path in Boston, I realized how tied I still was to fashion- at least, the creative process.

I had a different style than the other fashion bloggers- simple photos with little to no written content- no ads or frills, and no promises of a brighter tomorrow if you buy a new lipstick shade. This didn’t make me popular. That wasn’t the point- the point was authenticity.

As I shot a photo of my new bracelet alongside my notes for the day and coffee cup, I realized how fashion, technology, AND mindfulness can merge- but not in the way you may think.

I’ve been creating my own style for some time now, a style that hasn’t changed much since I was a high school junior in a black turtleneck and gray Express mini skirt. It’s always been basic, classic, and chic- with a few added surprises.

Fashion doesn’t have to be complicated to be beautiful, and neither do our lives. My time spent away from working in fashion made me realize how what I’ve learned can add to the industry once again- and never to change the style that is mine.

When I used to work or consult for others, my soul would be crushed when they didn’t like my content. After spending hours coming up with ideas, it could be a challenge to integrate my vision with someone else’s.

As an independent person, this also made me realize- stop working with people who don’t share your vision.

Although some women on the outside may judge me for choosing a bike over a Lexus, renting a townhouse instead of having a mortgage, and choosing a cat over a husband and kids- I chose this lifestyle for a reason.

I’m free.

I am free from obsession with “things,” the need for more, and the warped view that I’m not enough.

Now, I can simply enjoy the creative process- mindfully.

The Mindful in Style inspiration board 💛

Categories
self discovery

Toxic Positivity: Embracing the Lows

As I sipped my morning coffee, I scrolled through my Instagram feed and stories.

Procrastinating, I thought about starting a new routine, what I had to do today, and all of the things I’ve put on the back burner.

To be honest, I haven’t felt like doing any of it.

Highs and lows are a normal part of everyday life- from bustling with energy to feeling like staying in bed until noon.  Perhaps it’s the weather or maybe the moon cycle, but I’ve been on the “low” end of the spectrum this past week.  Apparently, I’m not the only one.

Just when I needed it, a friend of mine shared her feelings for the day, frustrated with people who encourage her to “think positive!” and to “stop complaining.”  No matter what the day, she fearlessly expresses her emotions, pretty or not- and that authenticity is something the world needs to see.

Sharing where we are mentally is not complaining.  It’s exercising our humanness.

When we deny our feelings and our unpleasant emotions, we are simply burying them, only to resurface later.  Our emotions, our stories, and our ups and downs aren’t meant to be hidden- they’re meant to be dealt with.

“Good vibes only!” and “be happy!” are cute and all, but what are we supposed to do with the bad vibes?  The depression?  The anger?  The fear?  Are we supposed to cover it up with pastel prints and add some sparkle?  Do we continue to mask the discomfort to please someone else?

Of course not.

Toxic positivity usually isn’t about the person who is going through the emotion- but it does has everything to do with the people who encourage them to “smile!” or to “be grateful!”  Why?  It makes them more comfortable.

We can be grateful and still be sad.

We can have a bad day and be excited for tomorrow.

How we feel at the moment doesn’t determine how we will feel the next.

Perhaps there are people who are naturally sunshine and rainbows, but my guess is most of us aren’t.  I embrace my moods.  I can see light through the dark.  I don’t have to package up my pain into a smile and a facade; because there is something powerful we can do with discomfort.

Although I do believe it’s a waste of time to tell someone to “just be positive,” I don’t think being in a slump is a negative thing.  Our moods help us to determine what is going right and what is going wrong in our lives.  When things change, they make room for something different.  If we no longer are going in a certain direction, we are given a choice to alter our path.

If we can use our problems and turn them into potential, whether it’s a learning opportunity or a new idea, the world may start embracing the negative- because that is when true change happens.

 

Categories
conscious living mindful at work

More Meditation, Less Medication

0In this day and age, there seems to be a pill for everything.  Not only are people running to their doctors for relief, the providers themselves are over-prescribing, patients are misusing their prescriptions, and often times, they become addicted to their medication.

Depression and anxiety are two of the most common disorders, which are treated by a variety of medications- some addictive, some not.  Although antidepressants and anti-anxiety pills can be helpful, they don’t solve the biggest problem- the root cause of the discomfort.

Researchers and a growing number health care professionals are encouraging patients to practice meditation in addition to their medical treatment and therapy.  Although many disorders are a chemical imbalance, most don’t consider how meditation can help re-wire their brain.

What if treatment facilities and doctors prescribed more meditation, and less medication?

I’ve had anxiety throughout my life, which is something I’ve never been treated for.  My social anxiety was so terrible growing up that it caused me to eat lunch in the library when I didn’t know who to sit with, skip classes or school events, and, as soon as I began college, I started drinking heavily to self medicate.  I may not have taken pills to relieve my discomfort, but I drank my worries away so I wasn’t aware of my surroundings.

I eventually went to therapy and tried antidepressants to keep my depression in check.  I didn’t take the medicine long enough to know whether or not it helped me- life situations had improved and I was abstinent from alcohol- but I also added something else to my life:

Mindfulness and meditation.

Between therapy, group support, and meditation, my anxiety and depression have been alleviated. I learned that spending more time inward was the solution to my issues.  If you break down depression and anxiety, it’s quite simple:

Depression is living in the past, and anxiety is living in the future.

Living in the present is being happy.

Whether you choose to medicate or not, consider adding meditation to your daily routine.  There are many apps that can get you started if you’re a newbie to the practice, such as Calm and Headspace, and even a variety of YouTube videos to guide you along your way.  Meditation has changed my life, and I know it can change yours, too.

photo-46

Categories
conscious living mindful at work

Sunday Self Care: The Importance of Taking a Mental Health Day

We are a society always on the move.

We go to work, fill our schedules, and tend to the everyday tasks required to be productive and responsible people. More often than not, “self care” isn’t on those to-do lists.

Today, self care is #1 on my list.

It’s Sunday, and my alarm went off at 7AM. As I heard rain falling outside my window, I began resenting the things I had planned for the morning. I couldn’t remember the last day I got to spend simply caring for myself. I looked around my room and spotted the book I was reading and thought, “wouldn’t it be nice to just stay home to read and journal all day?”

So that’s what I’m going to do.

It’s important to stop and pause when we begin to feel restless or irritable. The two questions you need to ask yourself are:

Why am I feeling this way?

What have I done to care for myself?

You’ll probably find a correlation between the two answers; and it’s likely you’re caring for others better than you’re caring for yourself, whether it’s your family, your job, or other responsibilities. When your intuition tells you it’s okay to just stay home, say no, or relax, listen to your inner voice. It’s a gentle tap on the shoulder to remind yourself that it’s okay to sit still and take a break.

Self care Sunday is a perfect way to reset for the new week and to recharge your batteries. Whether you choose to do some yoga, enjoy a long meditation, enjoy a sea salt bath, or go for a walk in the park, these moments to yourself are crucial to living a happy, balanced life.

You’re the only one who truly knows what you need, so I hope you can take some time out for self care today, too.

Categories
self discovery

Strong and Secure- Setting Intentions

Each moon cycle I set an intention. On occasion I hope for something tangible, such as securing a new job or accomplishment, and other times I aim to let something go.

As the moon phases pass, I try to release what no longer serves, focus on improving myself, and live by the intentions I set.

This past New Moon, my intention was strength.

Strength means a lot of things to me. It can mean being assertive and confident, resilient through life’s challenges, or living with grace and grit. Strength has helped me pick up and move across the country, walk into interviews with ease, and hold my head high when life tried to pull me down.

I used to try and be a chameleon in life, seeking to fit in so I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable. Not anymore. I have learned how standing in my truth has helped me get into alignment with the right people, opportunities, but most importantly, my own self.

It’s okay to stand out in the crowd… and it’s a beautiful thing to be different. Instead of lowering my head or watering myself down, my intention is to be strong and secure- no matter what life brings my way.

Read about Friday’s Full Moon here.

Categories
empowerment mindful at work

Encouraging Young People To Be Authentic and Mentally Strong

Mental strength is not something we are taught in school. We’re advised to get good grades, earn accolades, attend a good college, and find a suitable career upon graduation. Most graduates don’t even have the opportunity to work in the field they studied, let alone pursue a degree in a subject they’re passionate about.

Students listen to their parents, societal expectations, and those who came before them. “Go into finance,” “work your way to the top,” and “lean in” are the messages we hear as we try our best to make a living for ourselves. Our best doesn’t seem good enough, leaving many anxious, depressed, and doubtful.

Who is actually encouraged to be authentic? At what point in our lives are we advised to be mentally strong?

Success comes in many forms, but to me, true success is learning to embody being true to ourselves, not what society tells us we “should” be.

We’re given hearts, souls, and dreams for a reason; why would we sell them to corporate America?

I’m currently 33 years old and have lived in Metro Detroit, San Francisco, Austin, New York City, and Boston as a young professional. I searched near and far to find happiness and success, yet I kept running from myself because I could never seem to find my place.

I didn’t stop to explore the big question of “what is fulfillment?” until I left New York in July of 2016. I purged my fashion blogger / PR girl wardrobe, abandoned my Astoria apartment, and sent boxes home to Michigan. I spent that summer living simply at a family lake house, finally learning the real meaning of “mindfulness.”

Instead of racing to the top, I began to dig deep.

Although each profession has a purpose, it’s the ego and greed attached to certain people or positions that irks me. Earning a big paycheck doesn’t make a person strong; what would they do without it? What type of person are they without the title attached to their name?

It’s easy to hide behind a career, wealth, or a facade; but the true accomplishment is knowing who you are on the inside. It takes mental strength to believe in one’s self; yet when you realize you are already enough, the world becomes much brighter, and much more hopeful.

Categories
empowerment mindful at work

Happy People: Looking Inward

“The happiest people I know are evaluating and improving themselves. The unhappy people are usually evaluating and judging others.”

This quote appeared today in my Instagram feed from Wild Woman Sisterhood, a powerful page that empowers and unites women.

This quote made me reflect on the people in my life, the doubts I’ve had about myself, and my own inner journey.

Some people around me have viewed me as closed off lately. It’s quite the opposite. As I protect my own energy and try to bring light to the darkness, I welcome meaningful conversations and support, but avoid the low vibe energy, gossip, and drama.

It’s easy to point the finger at others when you’re feeling worried or insecure, but remember: the most fulfilling journey is inward. You may be surprised at all of the wonderful things you discover. 💫

Categories
conscious living mindful at home

The Spiritual Benefits of Not Eating Meat

So, I’ve made a major change in my life:

I quit eating meat.

It’s been one full week going completely meatless, and I’ve felt better than ever. I’ve been sleeping well, am full of energy, and my skin looks healthy with a glow.

I went vegan for a period of time in the past, but this effort has been different than when I did it for weight loss and something new to do: this time, it’s for spiritual and ethical reasons.

Throughout my entire life I’ve had a strange relationship with meat. Feeling both slightly disgusted and skeptical about where it was from, what exactly I was eating, and what types of chemicals or treatment the animal endured, it has been difficult for me to eat meat without thinking too much. I’m no PETA member, but I do have a difficult time imagining my meal having a life of its own.

Over the past year I’ve been toying with the idea of completely giving up meat; I’ve read numerous articles and watched videos about the spiritual benefits of eliminating meat. I’ve learned how consuming meat products is essentially consuming energy from the animal, as well as all of the chemicals. What a frightening thought. I’m extremely sensitive to energies around me, and what I put into my body is no exception.

As I make strides in assuring I keep my frequency high, cutting meat from my diet is one of the many ways I can raise my vibration.

You know the old saying, “you are what you eat-” and although I’ll miss a good burger or a filet mignon, I have more confidence in my health, mind, and spiritual condition.

Read more about spirituality and diet here.