The Year of Balance 2015

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So cue my 2015 goals post….

The past two years have definitely had a tone and character to them.  2013 was the year of stress and getting my CPA license. 2014 was the year of moving to a new house and practicing minimalism.  I’m hoping if I plan it right, 2015 will be the year of balance in all aspects of my life.  Minimalism has definitely been a great tool to start the balancing process, but I’m hoping to bring many more aspects together to bring focus and intentionality to my life.

The areas of my life that have felt the most out of balance are work, friends, hobbies/time management, spirituality, diet, travel and finances. The way I hope to bring balance and consistency is by being intentional and purposeful in the use of my time.

1. Work – I plan to stop letting myself have the impostor syndrome and start realizing my own potential.  I want to stop worrying about what everyone thinks of me.  This is HUGE!  I lay awake most nights thinking what so and so’s going to think because I didn’t respond to that email or similar thoughts on this magnificent level of utter uselessness.

I’m not sure how I’ll get to that point of not caring what everyone thinks of me because I realize that it was a huge part of getting me to where I am today.  I do know though, that if I keep letting these feelings of making everybody happy have a place in my thought processes, my life will still be characterized by stress and lack of sleep.

Action Plan: Do a mindless activity before bed and decide whether reading, television or mind games work best for resetting my brain into sleep mode.  Catch myself at work whenever I’m wasting thoughts and energy on whether someone approves of my actions and reset my brain by focusing on a productive activity such as making a list of skills I would like to improve.

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2. Friends - I want to be more intentional with my friends.  What I mean by this is that I haven’t valued or put in enough effort with my friends over the last year.  The result has been piggy backing on my husbands friends who tend to drain me with sports, sexism, and racism.  I tell myself that it’s still important to try and combat these ideas and my husband is helpful sometimes, but I know that I’m nearing the end of my rope. If I don’t recharge with uplifting and similar minded friends soon, I will get depressed.

Action Plan: Aim to meet up with one of my friends at least once a week.  This is important because I don’t have any close friends at work, and work will take over if I don’t consciously decide to meet my friends. I also want to aim to have at least one feminist friend by the end of the year.  I don’t know how I’m going to do this, but if you know any feminists in the Raleigh/Durham area, help a girl out!

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3. Hobbies/Time Management: In 2013 studying was my hobby. In 2014 our new house and minimalism was my hobby.  Now I’m not sure what I want to move onto next, but I’m starting to see destructive patterns of internet shopping pop up so I’m going to need to figure out a productive use of my time soon.

Action Plan: I’ve joined Makeup Rehab on Reddit and love it.  So part of my hobby is going to be panning my makeup and getting it down to a well curated minimal collection.  This has been fun and definitely healthy as my urge to buy has completely dissipated with the full and powerful realization that my makeup purchases need to be intentional and I need to either use them up within a year or two or throw them out.  Also now that I’ve purged a lot of my wardrobe, I want to slowly add permanent multi-use professional items. The key word here is slowly maybe one purchase allowed a month and that’s pending at least two purged items.

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4. Spirituality – While Makeup Rehab has been healthy,  I do want to find another more meaningful hobby or use of my time.  This will probably be the hardest as I’m at a weird point emotionally right now.  I haven’t had many passions lately and need to find a way to figure out what matters to me.  Obviously feminism, but what/how do I implement that into my life? I also haven’t felt very spiritual lately which has also given way to stress in my life.

Action Plan: I want to try to go to a church once a month even though this is really scary to me as I was forced growing up.  I still want to at least try and get over some of my fears of church. I also want to get back into reading as I have a huge collection of unread books I bought in a passion two years ago.

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5. Diet- While I’m eating kind of healthy, my portions are out of control, and I’m very out of balance in regards to what I eat and how much I eat. I find myself perusing the pantry late at night looking for a carb fix to put me to sleep.  My husband is a huge culprit begging for appetizers and meat/potato heavy meals.  I need balance, energy and steadiness in my diet.  I crave it.

Action Plan: While I’ve given it a valiant effort trying to get my husband to eat healthy and support me, I think it’s time we go our separate ways.  I understand there is compromise in marriage, but I’m not going to compromise my waistline anymore.  After my husband saying the lead singer of Coldplay left Gweneth Paltrow because she wouldn’t let him eat meat, I’m officially done trying to change my husband’s mindset on food. I’m focusing on me, and if I want to order two salads as my entree and no appetizer that’s what I’ll do.  I can make it up to my husband in other more creative ways.  I want to limit my meat intake even further to only one land animal meal a month.  I will limit my carbs and start adding in goji berries, chia seeds, smoothies, veggies and nuts.

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6. Travel- I want to go on at lease one international trip a year and two other USA excursions.  My husband and I are both passionate about travel so this is my easiest goal by far!  Also, I want to travel at least once for work.

Action Plan: Book a trip by the end of January to make sure these trips happen, and I don’t have unused PDO at the end of the year.  Plan work trips and look up conference schedules.

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7. Finances- I really want to buckle down and meet a few financial goals that I set for myself.  The first being to pay off our house to 80% so we can get rid of the PMI Insurance we pay each month which is around $130. The second goal is to simultaneously be able to pay for travel.  Lastly, I want to stop buying unnecessary makeup, clothes, food or material goods.

Action Plan: Stick with makeup rehab and not buy any makeup purchases until May 2015 and then, only make intentional well researched purchases. No purses, none, I got my Holy Grail purse for Christmas and if I buy a purse in 2015 I will really let myself down.  Any clothes purchase have to be high caliber (survive laundry, pets, heavy usage) and fit to a T.  As I would like to lose a few pounds, this should be easy to put off for a few months since I don’t have a problem buying clothes. I want to save money by not buying appetizers at restaurants.  Lastly, I feel that my house is complete so I hope to not purchase any items for the house, decor wise, in 2015.  All of this combined will hopefully make a balanced budget with equal amounts of fun/memories and planning for the future.

Balance is so important to me this year as I want to retrain my brain to avoid obsessive thought patterns including work stress, internet shopping and late night anxiety.  I know these are weaknesses in my life, and they stem from not being intentional and compassionate in my thought processes. I will work diligently to promote balance in my life by being intentional and fair with my time.

At the Intersecton of Minimalism and Ethics

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I’ve had to make a lot of really hard ethical decisions lately at work and it has got me thinking about how ethics and minimalism intertwine. Working at trying to create an ethical work environment is daunting and intimidating. You can be going up against such strong forces of the status quo and severe unaccountability for how the decisions of a few impact real lives in such a dramatic way.

While brainstorming the shared themes between minimalism and ethics, I came up with the following points and after-school-special notes for myself. Minimalism and ethics both involve on some scale:

1. Only taking what you need and leaving the excess behind for others that need.

2. Trying to see the bigger long term picture of community and experience being more meaningful in contrast with consumerism and selfish motives.

3. Giving better than getting (This is huge around Christmas time, bonus points!)

4. Inner creativity and richness building as opposed to building up of material items

5. Relationships, autonomy and courage to make the right ethical decisions in the face of real and imagined fear centered around losing material security blankets.

That last one is huge for me. Fear is a huge enemy of ethics in my life. It hinders me from making truly ethical courageous decisions as I’m scared of inciting the big monster of the status quo and letting insecurities take over my personal ethics.

Minimalism is one of the tools that helps me combat destructive fear patterns in my life. It helps me face and eliminate fear by helping me realize these truths:

– Material items and money while deceptively claiming to add security will never keep you immune to harm, devastation, rough times and mean people.

-Inner security can’t come from other people and money

– In a direct way, fear and dependency can be averted by minimalism in how you buy less, want less and create financial independence from the things that make you reliant on systems of consumerism and insecurity.

– Minimalism reduces what you need so that you can be freed up to focus on things that add real memories and ethical value to your life instead of staying in a cycle of fear.

Dear Women Who Don’t Need Feminism – An Open Letter

Originally posted on Project Soapbox:

Dear Women Who Don’t Need Feminism,

I wonder if we could have a little heart-to-heart. I hope that you will take the time to read this post, and perhaps even respond – because I think it’s important that you are not written off by those looking in as simply ‘unreachable’. I also hope that you will not approach this letter with a closed, defensive mind or, far worse, immediately switch off and disengage because it is written by a self-declared feminist. It isn’t going to be an easy read – nor was it easy to write. 

Since the phenomenon began on Tumblr, #WomenAgainstFeminism has gone viral and has been gaining increasing media attention. It has also caused quite a stir within feminist circles. We have sat back, collectively scratching our heads, wondering where we could have gone so wrong that young women like yourselves are so happily and publicly turning their backs on the very thing…

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Sexism Makes Me Grumpy

It makes me grumpy when my friends say girls only go to college to meet a husband.

It makes me grumpy when my friends call the only female comedian they’ve heard of fat as if that’s all that matters.

It makes me grumpy when my friends belittle women and pull it all through the punch line of a joke. I’m not allowed to dislike it cause it’s just a “joke”.

Minimalism and Surviving Black Friday

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After deleting over 50 Black Friday emails and fighting my own inner urges to take up offers for coupon codes and free gifts, I can’t honestly say that I haven’t bought anything today, but I can say that I am serious about my commitment to having a minimal Christmas.

Here are some of the cornerstone elements that I hope to make the focus of my Christmas this season:

1. More reflection and less stress

2. Take lots of pictures and really think about what’s important in my life as seen through the focus of the camera to give me a different perspective.

3. Listen more to my family and friends about their hopes and fears.

4. Do/make things involving all my senses of taste, feel, smell, hear and vision.

5. Don’t listen to what the season says we have to do and listen more to what creates memories and meaning.