Categories
mental health mindfulness self care

Enjoying a Quiet Life

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As I sipped my morning coffee and watched the rain fall, an article from Elephant Journal appeared in my news feed:

It’s Okay to Want to Live a Slow & Quiet Life.

How often do you question if the life you are currently living is the life that feels most authentic to you?

One of the biggest questions I’ve mulled over the last eight months is, “What kind of life do I really want?”

As I pick through the versions of the lives I’ve lived over the last 15 years, what I keep coming back to is a life founded on simplicity. The life that resonates the most with me was a time I lived on a 50-acre vineyard and farm. My days felt like molasses—a slow, steady, and sweet flow.

It was a life of less in many ways but full of so much more richness because I was away from the busyness of life that is easy to get caught up in. I had time to experience the slow beauty of what was around me, the warm, summer breeze weaving between the apple trees, the distance cries from my flock of sheep, and green grass as it tickled my feet when I walked in it.

Amanda Whitworth

As I read the author’s own experiences and journey to enjoying a life of simplicity, I resonated with each word.  Being present is a beautiful thing, and could never be beat by bright lights or fast-paced glamour.

The reaction I get when people hear I moved back to Michigan from big cities is usually “wow, what a change” or “you must be bored!”

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

To be honest, even in a big city I spent a lot of time to myself and in quiet reflection.  I spent days in the park writing and walked thousands of miles, just snapping photos and listening to music.  My life didn’t have any of the luxuries I was taught would make me feel “complete.”

I embraced what was right in front of me.

Although I used to spend my time going out, dating, and finding chaos, I couldn’t imagine living my life that way anymore.  There’s nothing I enjoy more than going home to a quiet apartment, reading a good book, or finding solace in nature.

Simplicity has become a big part of my life, and taking on the “less is more” mentality has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders.

It doesn’t take much to be happy when you’re happy within.  That’s the best gift of all.

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Categories
mindfulness

Seeing the Light

Spring always makes me excited for new things.

Fresh flowers, warm afternoons, picnics, sailboats, baby animals, and new love.

Springtime is a season of rebirth, blossoming, and getting out of hibernation.  As it finally warms up in New England, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying my summer sundresses and sandals.  I hope you’re enjoying the springtime season as much as I am.

Springtime makes me look forward to new projects, too.  Spring is the perfect season for taking action, moving forward, and taking chances.

As I smell lilacs on warm evening walks or enjoy the cool breeze through my window, it keeps me mindful and “in the now.”  Being able to enjoy the moment and appreciate the little things in life is truly living beautifully at its best.

🌺💐🌸

Keep shining.

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
mindfulness

City Inspiration

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It was an absolutely lovely, refreshing weekend.  With no plans other than to relax, read, and spend Easter Sunday with one of my girl friends, I settled into my cozy apartment and made a cup of black coffee.

As the Saturday sunshine filled my room, I got ready for the day and headed into Boston to run a few errands, enjoy a stroll by the harbor, and snap a some photos.  There’s nothing I love more than exploring the city, coffee in hand, with music in my earbuds as the soundtrack to my solo adventure.

Those are the days I get the most inspiration.

It’s no secret I’m an introvert, but some of my very best weekends are the ones I spend by myself.  I never leave home without a notebook, pens, and a fully charged phone- it’s important to always be prepared!

Sipping my coffee while window shopping, a sketch of the Boston skyline caught my eye.  Although the picture was in black and white, I thought, “why not paint the town gold?”

It’s been nearly a year since I started painting gold canvases, yet Saturday was the very first time I had ever thought to draw scenery.  Now that I am nearly finished with my first skyline piece, I’m wondering, “what next?!”  Whether it’s an uplifting phrase or positive word, it’s helpful to have little reminders throughout your space to symbolize things that make you smile.

Although I don’t have to go far to get inspired, it’s nice to bring a little bit of the city home with me.  Whether in black and white or gold, I’m grateful to live in such a beautiful place.

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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.