Your Attention is Your Most Valuable Asset: 5 Ways to Keep it Sacred

times-square-image by wallula from pixabay

Image by Wallula from Pixabay

As I walk through grocery stores and shopping malls, I’m overwhelmed with the advertising. Nearly every square inch of display space is trying to get my attention. As I try to need fewer things I’ve begun to notice the way these items attempt to get my attention. It’s hard because I find myself constantly wanting, even if I don’t want. I want useless things, things I don’t care about, things that are pretty. My ride to work, my glance out of the office window… there is advertising everywhere. I can’t even be entertained from a DVD that I purchased without being sold something.

the amount of money, time, and energy spent on advertising, on packaging, on window displays, on creating a phantasmagorical, irresistible retail wonderland—completely blows my mind. — Annamalhouse, Must be the Feeling: The Romance of Stuff

This advertising has become quite absurd. For instance, food companies use bright colors to advertise packaged/processed foods, but all that is inside is nutrient-less, colorless food. Would we really eat the junk if it weren’t advertised it pretty packaging? Take a look at this article I found about What the World Eats. Americans have been fooled into thinking that food comes in cardboard boxes. Tsk Tsk Tsk.

I was watching TV the other day and was determined on counting how many different advertised products I was exposed to. Thinking back on it now, I can hear the sales pitches swimming in the back of my mind. They’re all telling me how much better my life would be with their products. And momentarily, I believe them, but then I laugh and think how foolishly they are wasting their money on me. I know better, now.

The amount of advertising seems to keep us in a constant state of distraction and consumption. You may not buy that Bow-Flex, but you might buy a gym membership or dumbbells.

What about what you want to do with your time? What about what you want to think with your mind.

Don’t get me started on what individual people may want from you.

The first step is to be aware. Know that your life in America is like dealing with one hella persistent, sleazy, used car salesman after another, and you’re just there to look–really. You don’t want to test drive anything.

Be skeptical. Because of where you are, you must arm yourself with the mental fortitude to not get sucked in. Grocery stores and shopping malls: These stores are gold diggers, all they want is your money.  They’ll do anything to get it. Stores gone wild if you ask me… Showing you all their goods–what you want to see. Good prices and pretty colors. That % off sign and BOGO makes you crazy. They got that skinny mirror and soft lighting to make you look good. Nice music to get you in the mood to open up that wallet. They claim they got what you want, something you value. And you are going to give them exactly what they want. Those dolla dolla bills y’all. You wouldn’t entertain a gold digger when you’re looking for real, true love.  Why entertain these capitalists?

gold bars

Image by Steve Bidmead from Pixabay


Don’t hear them out. Politely dismiss adverts background noise. Mute the tv. Turn away from the sale signs. It’s hard though, when they change tactics. Selling to you through influencers and friends. Making you think that upbeat pop ditty is a song on Pandora and not a commercial. Shut them out.

Once you get that 15% off coupon, unsubscribe.

Keep your website sign-ups in a separate email account.

Stick to your mission. This is life and death here. Online, you shouldn’t get sucked into wasting 3 hours and all you needed was a copy of a receipt. You went on Hulu to watch that series finale and you spent another 4 hours afterwards binge-watching some garbage show you never planned to watch. You are now 4 hours closer to death with nothing to show for it. Sure, maybe you laughed, but I guarantee you forgot you were alive for those 4 hours. You forgot your hopes and dreams and goals.

Same thing with shopping. You have a list. Stick to that list. And only go in when you are strong and prepared to say no to the gold diggers. Remember, it’s on sale because they want you to buy it, not because they care about you. Self-discipline my friends.

And close those tabs when you’re done. And FINISH what you’re doing so you can close those tabs. They are a recipe for attention stealers later. (I’m a fiction writer so this is hard enough as it is with constant ongoing research… more on this another time.)

Know your worth. Know the value of your attention. Your attention is life. What you pay attention to signals the universe about what you want more of in your life. Your attention is like a prayer. Thoughts, actions or useless junk.

Netflix begets Netflix. Junk food begets junk food. Sales beget sales. Money out begets more money out of your pocket. Whatever you put your time, attention and energy towards is what you’re going to get more of

How do you keep your attention sacred?  Let me know in the comments below.

Turn the Other Cheek or Fight Back?

turn the other cheek meme

NOTE: I started writing this post back in May. I was too frustrated to think clearly or come up with a solution. Now that the problem has been resolved, I can provide the insight of hindsight.  

I’d like to start a discussion:

When someone wrongs you, how do you resolve the situation peacefully without poisoning yourself with anger or thoughts of revenge?

Anger has always been a problem for me.

I fear conflict. I’m the girl who can’t speak up when someone has done me wrong, disrespected my boundaries, or otherwise put me in the position of the victim. Instead of speaking up, I swallow my anger and turn the other cheek.

This area for growth seems to have a spotlight on it these days because sometimes, the person I need to speak up for is my child, not me.


My husband and I have a bit of a problem. We have marijuana and cigarette smoke coming through the baseboards, light fixtures, electrical outlets, under the sink, behind the dishwasher, and through the pipes since Thanksgiving of last year (Time of writing: May 2019).

Babies and toddlers should not be exposed to smoke of any kind. It’s a health hazard.

Our landlord has exerted a minimal effort of sealing holes, and posting threatening notices they can’t and won’t follow-up on to deal with this problem. Long story short: they know who it is, but they continue to accept the offender’s excuse of “we burn incense.”

The police have been called, reports have been made, doctor’s notes have been written. Our request to break the lease without penalty has been denied. At this point, it costs exactly the same to break the lease as it would to live it out. And if we break it, we can only leave 1.5 months before our lease ends.

So last night when our neighbors started smoking the ganja again, I. Lost. My. Cool.

I had to do push-ups to release some of the energy. I even started writing a review of the neighborhood- as revenge of sorts to prevent them from signing new leases with innocent families like mine. And it got me thinking, what is the right way to deal with conflict?

As a kid, I was never taught to stand-up for myself. In the fifth grade, a girl slapped me in the face for no reason, and I literally did nothing. Not even tell the teacher or my mom.

Whenever someone wronged me, I never had the courage to say, “No, this is not okay,” and then move away from them. I just took the hurt, suffered angrily to myself, and self-medicated with Pizza Hut and Breyers Mint Chocolate Chip. 

I was taught to focus on TRUTH, not on the conflict. At the end of the day, that left me with an anger problem.  I wasn’t spiritually developed enough to recognize the TRUTH –the true governor of the universe- (as is often described in New Age Christianity, for example, A Course in Miracles.)

A shift in my perspective has been impossible for many, very important issues. If I cannot reframe, or shift my perspective, what am I supposed to do?

Am I supposed to turn the other cheek? Lay down for abuse from others?

Am I supposed to defend myself, but never take an offensive stand?

Or am I supposed to fight back? And take decisive action against my oppressors?

Holding onto anger is not the slow-paced way. It’s not healthy, and it physically hurts after a while.

I almost always advocate for walking away whenever you can because often, you can’t change other people. But what about the situation I’m in now. I can’t walk away.

Fast forward to the future:

My husband and I decided to take every possible step to leave that place. We channeled our frustration into action.

We set the intention of leaving.

We prayed.

We supported each other: My husband came up with a (second) very well-worded and emotionally compelling email we sent to the corporate office.

We took intentional action:

We kept a detailed written record of the marijuana (and other) incidents in our neighborhood and sent it to the corporate office.

We got our daughter drug tested. (Came back negative, thank God.)

We reached out to a free lawyer service for advice. And even though the advice from the lawyer seemed to indicate that we couldn’t break our lease, we pushed forward.

And FINALLY, we listened to our intuition (inner voice, God, the universe–whatever you want to call it).

Listening to intuition meant making calls I didn’t feel like making:

Calling the police in the middle of the night to report the smoking. And as a Momma with a toddler under two, sleep was in short supply.

One day in the midst of all this, there was something small that needed a repair and I wanted to mention the expanding crack in the ceiling. The LAST thing I wanted to do was call the office and risk having to talk to the Property Manager who hadn’t solved our problem.

I knew if I called, she would answer.  I knew I had to do it at that moment. I didn’t want to, but I called.

Do you know what she said? “I’ve been meaning to call you.” She offered to let us break the lease without penalty and leave in 30 days.

Less than a week later, my husband accepted an offer for a job in another state.

Never in a million years would I have ever thought this could work out. If I had done nothing more, we might still be responsible for that lease TODAY.

We never yelled or cussed out any of the office staff. We were cordial and professional. We both used our strengths to our advantage. I took action when I was fearful. I persisted, deliberately, intentionally. I listened to my intuition. And we were able to get out.

My advice: Do what you can do. Listen to your intuition. Set the intention for what you want, and be willing to take the steps to make it happen.

Dealing with Difficult Co-Workers, Employees, Supervisors and a Toxic Work Environment

The wildly competitive coworker, the super stressed-out supervisor, and the emotional employee: three, of many types of people, who can make an otherwise great working environment extremely unpleasant.

You love your job. Well, you did. Until your co-workers showed their true colors.


You’re actually thinking about quitting the job of a lifetime because the people you work with are imposing their negative energy on you.

I have two distinct approaches to dealing with them:

The Internal Approach and the External Approach

I avoid conflict. I don’t like being criticized or otherwise “told about myself” (rightfully or wrongfully so). I’m hesitant to address my problems with others by slapping them in the face with critical words. So the internal is my preference.

I believe that people are reluctant to change, and I doubt my little complaints about them will make much of a difference.

My solution to difficult people at work is to examine my part in the relationship and focus on some core truths.

The Internal Approach

I’m not under their control. I believe that I (read: God) is my source for good and no matter what they say or do. They have no true bearing on the outcome of my life.

They might think they can control me with words or threats, but the truth is, they cant. (They’d have to physically detain me or beat me into submission. And even using a violent approach, how much control they actually have is debatable.)

I might think they control me, but the reality is, that isn’t true. Even if they got me fired, or fired me, my future solely relies on the actions I take. I let go of the idea that they have power over me.

I’m in charge of my life. I can choose how I’d like to react and respond to them, and I can choose to respond in a way that does not engage on a low vibrational level.

I choose what I say and do.

I can choose to live in the moment and not carry around the emotional crap they dump all over the place.

 I can let go of my assumptions and expectations I have about my coworkers, company, and superiors because my assumptions and expectations are my own.  My assumptions/expectations about them contribute to my frustration/anxiety. Other people aren’t obligated to meet my expectations, nor fall in line with my assumptions about them.

Do I expect them to be honorable or act how would in a given situation? Have I acknowledged that their point of view (agreeable or disagreeable) is a result of their life experiences and values? Am I hoping they will change or act within my belief system?

This is unreasonable. They are different people who bring a different resume to the table.

I get frustrated and angry when expectations don’t match reality. By letting go of expectations and dismissing assumptions, I can see and respond to reality. My vision of the world is clearer.

I can choose to acknowledge their best self, which may be hidden under layers of pain, grief, disappointment, and other emotional wounds. I recognize that while they may not be presenting their best-self (read: God-like self) to me now (or ever), a best-self exists somewhere deep within them.  If I focus on their positive attributes, more of them may become visible.

I accept that this work environment may not be the best for me, (read: divinely appointed), despite what I (read: my ego) may think. I can stop fighting and forcing something to work when it isn’t. I can relax when I’m not fighting to force things to go my way. I can let it go.

I can hold steadfast to my inner peace. The negativity in my work environment, this person, and this situation do not have to latch onto me.

I do not have to dwell on problematic situations, replaying them over and over in my head. I can focus on existing in the moment, and on my peace. If my inner peace muscles are strong enough to hold me up, I won’t be blown over by what happens externally.

External Approach

The sort of self-reflection detailed above isn’t for everyone. My internal approach to dealing with external stimuli may not resonate with you. Some people, prefer to confront their discomfort with other people directly. I’ve seen or personally found the following approaches to be effective:

Set boundaries. Tell your boss or coworker to talk to you with respect- no more screaming, petty or passive aggressive comments and behavior.  Tell them you aren’t interested in hearing complaining all day. Tell them their hovering isn’t helping you be productive. Demand reasonable deadlines. Make an agreement on how you work best as a team. Respectfully, of course.

My husband won’t allow people to disrespect him in the workplace. If there is something someone did he doesn’t like, they are going to hear about it. Holding on to frustration, anger, and resentment because you’re too paralyzed to act will exhaust you in the long run. Address it.

We hear a lot about setting boundaries with your children, parents, spouse, and friends, but not employers.  Many people approach their jobs from a fear of being fired–a completely justifiable fear.

In this economy–from a capitalism standpoint–you are easily replaceable. Question the status quo, demand respect, your boss might just take advantage of that “at-will” clause in your contract and find someone more amenable to their approach.

But who knows? Your problem coworker or supervisor may respect your request, forever changing the dynamic of the relationship. This has worked countless times for my hubby and may work for you, too.

Transfer. If possible, request to work with another team, on another project or in another office. If you tried settling your differences with your stress inducing co-worker to no avail, and neither of you can see past the past, it’s time to for a clean slate in a new environment.

This doesn’t guarantee that you won’t find your new situation comparable to your old one. Sometimes the company culture fosters a stressful or hostile work environment. But not always. Sometimes you need a fresh start with new people. 

I did this, back when I used to work at a bookstore. Same company, but the team at one store was far more cohesive and friendly than the other. I went back to loving my job when I made the switch.

Quit. This option isn’t for everyone. Most people’s current financial situation doesn’t permit dropping their job like a hot potato. But if you can, do it. If you can’t do it right away, work towards quitting. Save money, look for a new job, start a business, whatever you have to do to regain control of your daily time, space and energy. It’s okay to leave your job.

The economic system in this country isn’t set up to protect its citizens’ mental, emotional and spiritual well-being at work. Life (maybe). Liberty (sure). The pursuit of happiness? (Only if we choose our own way instead of riding the rollercoaster of this economy.)

In capitalism, we are barely considered people– we are “human capital.” Chances are, your coworkers are victims of the system too, and their behavior reflects that.

Ever hear the expression, leave your personal life at the door? Honestly, that’s not realistic. People are people and they bring every ounce of their life experiences, attitudes, values, and emotions to work with them every day. What you see is a direct result of that–either consciously or unconsciously.

At the end of the day, you choose the environment where you show up every day. It’s your choice. Whether you stay or leave is up to you, and how you respond to the stimuli intent on bringing you down, is up to you.

Choose wisely.

How do you handle a stressful work environment? Leave your thoughts in the comments below

Finding Peace in a Hectic Life


Just as at the eye of the hurricane there is stillness, so in the midst of confusion or distress there is an inner place of stillness, the secret place of the Most High.

– Martha Smock


The last year of my life was very hectic.  I went from being unemployed to serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer, more than hour-long drive away from home. Most of the time, I wasn’t mindful.  I spent months walking around tense and uncomfortable. Stressed-out and irritable had become my default way of existing.

We all know people who live this way. And I certainly don’t think I need to lecture you on the fact that many illnesses are preventable because they are stress related.

What I am going to say, though, is that I started this blog so I could exist in this world without succumbing to its torments. Over the last year (or two) I wasn’t blogging and I wasn’t doing anything about my stress levels.

My solution to stress has always been to immediately abandon the operation: My health came first and either I would let go of the goal entirely, or find another way to reach my goal.  Sometimes, this isn’t always feasible. I couldn’t didn’t want to quit my job.

My actual job wasn’t all that stressful, and it was a joy to be around the people I worked with. My commute, however, seemingly sucked all my energy and free time from me. Life started to feel like a never ending wash, rinse and repeat cycle.

I’d squeeze in grocery shopping, cooking, laundry and whatever other chores that were obligatory for me to continue existing as a human and working at my job.

But the problem with wanting a slow-paced life, and having a fast-paced job is that these two life choices are at odds with one another. So how could I find the time and space to just relax, when there seemingly wasn’t any?

queueWell, I’d seen articles that say the average American (with a 78.9 year average life span), spends 6 months to 2 years of their lifetime waiting. (I apologize for the vague statistics, I really couldn’t find any hard data or studies on this and I didn’t want to just make up stuff like other people on the internet.) But Timex did do a survey a number of years ago to determine how much time people spend on a daily basis doing various activities, including waiting.  We wait in line, in traffic, on-hold, for public transit, and for a significant other to get ready. We spend so much time waiting for the “real action.”

While waiting, I always felt impatient, stressed out, frustrated, and in a hurry to get on with my day. I felt my time was too valuable to just be standing around doing nothing while I have to wait to get one menial task completed. Especially when this waiting time, I thought, could be better served, well, not waiting, of course.

But the mindfulness I learned by practicing yoga made me realize that I was missing an opportunity.


Photo by FIPverksted at

I was missing an opportunity to take some deep breaths.

I was missing an opportunity to clear my head.

I was missing an opportunity to center myself.

I was missing an opportunity to calm down, find peace and relax.

I lamented the fact that I had no time to relax, but I ignored all the time I did have to relax.

Those little quiet moments I had between the crazy, busy ones, were moments I decided to reclaim for myself. Every moment that I was “waiting” was a moment to find peace.

Now, I try take those little moments to come back to myself: relax the tension in my neck and shoulders, quiet my mind, and release any lingering worries or thoughts. Maybe even say a prayer.

You may not have long spans of time where you can just relax, but I bet you have plenty little moments in-between the busy ones where you can re-center myself.

Changing Your Relationship with Stuff, through Language?

As a writer, words are very important. As you find out when learning a new language, certain words have nuances and connotations that you can only learn with time, practice and exposure to the new language. But we don’t always pay attention to the words we use in our own language.

Taking a slight detour here, if you are a person engaged in any amount of self-improvement, I’m sure you’ve heard about the importance of eliminating negative self-talk. (You’ve got to stop saying, “I’m fat,” “I’m stupid,” “I’m ugly,” or “I don’t have any good ideas.”) The reason why psychologists, bloggers and anyone with a keyboard in front of them says this is because they know how powerful words are. I think you know, too. We learned when we were little kids the chant, “I think I can,” from The Little Engine that Could storybook/movie.

The words you choose may end up dictating (pun intended) the outcome of the situation. Yet, have you ever thought about how you talk about stuff/merchandise/products and the objects that surround you in everyday life? For instance, it seems as if I’m always donating stuff, but I still have a ton of it. Why is this?

The words I choose to talk about “stuff” ends up guiding my actions. If I’m not careful, I walk around saying “I need this,” or  “I have to have that.” If I say and believe I absolutely need something, I’m going to end up buying it. That’s a problem right there. I say things like, “I need a new hair scarf.”  I don’t absolutely require a new scarf for survival, I just want one to match an outfit I have. I’ve been saying lately “I need a new laptop.” Do I really need a new one if I can go to the library and type for free, or use my netbook at home? No. I want one for my comfort and convenience. Yet somehow, whenever I think about something to buy, it’s always phrased as “I need.” Do you do the same thing?

I’ve been thinking about where we learned this curious behavior. I always like to blame my parents and other older relatives for my ingrained faults– like modeling the “I need” behavior when I was a kid. But I remember my Mom always saying “Do you really need that?” whenever we’d ask for a toy or candy.  As much as I’d like to, I really can’t blame them for this.

Advertisements and the media could certainly shoulder most of the blame for brainwashing the public into believing we need specific merchandise to have a great life. Example: I need razors to shave my legs. Why? I’m a woman and the rule of society says I have to shave my legs. If I don’t shave my legs people will think I’m weird and possibly ostracize me. If I want to fit in, I have to shave. Yes, shaving one’s legs is best done with a razor. But I don’t actually need to do it. I want to and I choose to and that’s why I buy the razor.

We actually need very little. We have a ton of wants that help us fit into society better: like those uncomfortable work clothes that let us keep the job that pays for our giant shelter. But we probably don’t need those work clothes, or that job to pay for that shelter. We could find a smaller shelter that costs less, that we could pay for with a job that didn’t require those work clothes. See what I’m suggesting? Most of the things we think we need, are actually choices we’re making to indulge our wants. When there is a choice, and not a need, there is always another option. I try to remember that when I speak about my wants and my choices. That way I’ll be more deliberate with my actions.

At the end of the day, though, this is how our American society works. It’s how the human society has advanced. Humans have actual needs, kind-of-needs, mild wants and extreme desires. We invent things to make life easier, fun and more comfortable. And that’s okay. The key is to know what is really a need or a want (or a choice), why it is so, and speak about it appropriately. Words dictate actions.

We have to change the narrative regarding our wants and needs. If you think about it, most of the stuff we “need” is something we want very badly for comfort and convenience. Call it the modern conveniences of society, or first world problems.  The first step to changing the narrative is to THINK about the words we are choosing. Then, if we’re trying to save money, buy less stuff or whatever, knowing and speaking accordingly makes it easier to resist buying when necessary.

I can blame the media, our society or whoever. I can even blame myself for being easily manipulated by the system of our society.  But that doesn’t solve the problem either.   I have to be honest. I’m not really sure how to banish my desire for things. I don’t know if it’s possible, even if I’ve become a Nirvana seeking Buddhist who has denied all earthly attachments.  But I can stop saying that I need things that aren’t required for the survival of my earthly life. I can change the way I talk and think about stuff. And thus I can change my actions henceforth.

POSTSCRIPT: After writing all of this, and going to review it before posting, I remembered something in a book I read that I wanted to share.  In The Mastery of Love,  Don Miguel Ruiz (I’m so obsessed with this book right now) differentiates between needs of the body (what I call actual, legitimate needs) and needs of the mind (which I’m calling wants). The needs of the mind, he says, can’t actually fulfill the mind, because all the mind needs is love (I’m talking about you chocolate craving). If you’re interested, check out the book. His discussion on needs of the mind on pages 126-129. It’s a very good read/re-read.

Three Ways to Live the Life you Want when You’re Broke & Unemployed

Aging GuitarOne potential problem of the long-term unemployed is that we face this dilemma: Everyday we have so much time that we truly could do anything we wanted, but at the same time, we are burdened with our “shoulds.” We should be working, we should be looking for jobs, should be updating the resume, should be networking, should be XYZ. I’ve been “unemployed” for almost a year now and I certainly haven’t done enough of the shoulds and I haven’t nearly gotten close enough to doing all of the things I want to be doing. What have I been doing with my time? I’m embarrassed to say, but I’ve been worrying too much. I could have been creating my my “perfect” life. I could have been working on tasks that would set me up for where I wanted to be today. BUT there is no point in harping on what could have been done. I can only move forward.

After an angry and frustrated emotional breakdown where I thought to myself, “What’s the point of living if I’m not going to do anything with my life?” I decided to just start doing the things I enjoy. I wasted a year NOT doing things I enjoy, why should I continue down that road? My time of extended unemployment will probably  be coming to an end soon so I might as well make the most of it.  I’m literally only  two weeks into “living the life I want” (of course with some financial restraints- but money isn’t everything and there are ways to do what I enjoy for free- thank you, internet), and I’ve been feeling better.  I’ve been pushing through lazy, and showing up when I don’t feel like it, and I feel like I’m accomplishing something.

My advice for the broke & unemployed:

Let go of who you think you SHOULD be. It’s a waste of time to live there. You’ll never live up to your expectations. For example: I want to get back in shape. Well in my mind, to do that, I would have to get up and workout at 6 or 7am (5 days a week, mind you), even if I have nowhere to be that day. WHY? I don’t know… that just seemed like what I SHOULD do. Now, I just work out when I feel like it. I pick whatever time is good for me that day and I go. Sometimes it’s in the morning and sometimes it’s in the evening. And you know what I found out? That the gym isn’t as packed as I thought at 6:30PM.

Find what it is you love, and find a way to do it for free. And don’t give me that crap about not being able to do it for free. You have plenty of time, dang it! Figure it out. Or maybe you can find a way to make a little investment in your “passion” by selling some junk around the house to save money. Free courses and materials at MIT anyone? CLICK HERE. (Obviously some are more “Free” than others, but still…) I bet you have a local library with books you can borrow for free (or already paid local taxes). Who knows? What you learn may turn into a useful skill set that you can use to generate income.

Stop giving a crap about what other people think about you. People have a lot of opinions to offer the long-term unemployed. Frequently, they add to the “should be” narrative. But they don’t have to wake up everyday and BE you. I’m not saying be reckless or ignore the people who care about you when they tell you you’re being reckless. What I am saying is you are not under a microscope and projected on a billboard for public display. We long-term unemployed people have a ton of time to examine, judge and sometimes envy what other people are doing. Just because we’re surveying everyone else’s actions, doesn’t mean they’re surveying ours. Besides, you don’t have to advertise to everyone what you’re doing. That’s just wasting energy, anyway.

Here are some motivating articles to kick you in the butt. Read them!

The African Way- Just Do It

The Myth of Passion and Motivation: How to Stay Focused When You Get Bored Working Towards Your Goals

Living with a Packrat: How I Make it Work

We just moved from a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom apartment to a 400 square foot studio on a college campus. Nonetheless, for an aspiring minimalist who wishes to live simply, without the burden of stuff (or rent), this is an absolute dream come true. That’s not to say it’s not without its challenges. My adorable little puppy is now on a year (or two-year) long vacation in North Carolina.

Chalk it up to my recent fascination with tiny houses, but I was so excited for this experience. However, at some point during the packing process, I realized that I (and my husband especially) had too much stuff for that tiny space. Even if we sold all of our furniture, I had visions of the new space overflowing with crap. I didn’t realize this at the time, but part of the reason we have so much extra stuff is because we both are working on side gigs. This aside, days before the actual move, my mind set into panic mode. This is not the minimalist life I envisioned. I thought, “He’s not getting rid of enough stuff.” Still, I stayed fairly silent as my mother-in-law packed the rest of his stuff. I’m thankful that she was there to help, because I probably wouldn’t be able to handle packing items that hadn’t seen the light of day in the last two years.

That afternoon, after the 14ft Uhaul was loaded and unloaded, I stared at a room that looked like the most recent episode of Hoarders. Boxes, bags, suitcases and stuff were stacked atop dorm furniture, six and a half feet up the wall. There was a narrow walkway leading to the bed and the  kitchen area. I was drowning in my worst nightmare.

Flash forward a week later, and I was calling myself the “box murderer.” I emptied and struck boxes dead, one at a time. And after putting away what could be up away, I pondered how I was going to get my husband to get rid of the stuff he doesn’t use. I already separated the things I was going to sell or donate, even items I would use in this tiny space if there was enough room.

It must have been the day I started unpacking the kitchen when I had my epiphany. We have a full kitchen worth of cooking supplies that we use!! And this awesome new deep fryer and Kitchen Aid on the way. (Okay, we probably have too many appliances, but we like them, and we use them.) So I just had to make do. I had to make it work. I spent a good portion of the day organizing and reorganizing that tiny space until I got most of our dishes and appliances to fit behind six cabinet doors and four drawers. At this point, none of our dry goods or spices had been put away. I kept telling myself: “I just have to make do with what I have.”  I felt to proud of being able to even find a place for some of those items too.

Originally I had only seen two options in this situation: suffer in the clutter, or force my husband, packrat, grad student, and Grad Assistant (coach) to declutter. After having no choice in dealing with the itty bitty kitchen, my brain was primed for finding a creative solution to my problem. A third option appeared before me: Find a way to make it work. Find a place for his stuff, organize it. Make it work.

So my advice to someone living with a packrat, is to just accept the situation for what it is. If you love them, and want them in your life, you have to start with acceptance.  Once you get into the “making it work” state of mind, things change. That’s what the slow-paced lifestyle is all about.

Happy Herbivore had an idea that worked for me as well. The idea is that you have a clutter free areas. And the other person has their “do whatever” space. I can keep my workstation and wardrobe area however and he keeps his his way. If you have a bigger house, you may be able to have a whole minimalist room to yourself.

What I’m going to end up doing is using an ikea kallax shelf (old expedit) with the 16 square-shaped shelves, and storage bins and baskets to get everything in order. I can store the remaining kitchen items, electronics, books, and my husband’s fifty-thousand shoes (ok I’m exaggerating, but I never counted), and other miscellaneous homeless items on that organizer. In the place of acceptance, I was able to find a vision that would make it all work.  For me, as long as everything has a proper place, and can be put away, I’m comfortable. No, it’s not an ultra-modern tiny house, and it’s not ultra-minimalist, but it works for me.

New Beginnings: How to follow through on resolutions 12 days into the New Year

take nothing leave nothingIt’s been a long time since I’ve written. I experienced a number of extremely difficult challenges in the early to mid-part of last year. And while none of those challenges actually precluded me from writing, by way of time consumption, I didn’t write here. I didn’t focus on creating the deliberate slow-paced, self-designed lifestyle that I wanted for myself. And I’ve fallen into some consumerist and stressful habits.

Yet with the soul searching, and reading, and studying, and praying, I have been put in a situation that allows me to start building something for myself and my new husband. This past October, my then-fiance was awarded a graduate assistantship which gave us housing at virtually no cost. So at the start of this year, we downsized from a two bedroom/two bathroom apartment to a 400 square foot studio (more thoughts on this next time).

I have the opportunity, time and space now to get my career together, without the pressure of a huge onslaught of bills. I do have some serious financial obligations, but nothing is so pressing that I’ll lose any sleep. Anyway, with all of this available time, and unlimited potential before me, I see how I could easily become a freeloading slacker. Being slow-paced isn’t necessarily being lazy. It’s just living a productive, meaningful life, without the chains of societal expectations holding you back.

So last year, while struggling through the consequences a job termination, totaled car (no injuries), and death in the family, (all of which occurred within a calendar week) I filled my mind with positive and productive ideas to keep me moving. At times, my state of physical and emotional burnout overtook me. And then there was the craziness of planning our November wedding in an extraordinary short period of time.  Outside of those moments, I was flying high off of everything that I was reading and a few ideas stuck with me. I wanted to share those ideas that I came across/figured out for living a meaningful, deliberate and productive life:

  1. Talking about an action depletes the energy needed for that action.  This basically means if you need/want to do something, don’t say you have to do it. Just do it.  Don’t share your excitement of this great idea you have, because if you do, you won’t have the energy to do it. For me, this is a big one: I’m all talk and no action sometimes.  I’ve probably heard this statement a thousand times from my husband, but it wasn’t until I read it in The Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity by Edwene Gaines that the idea actually stick with me.
  2. Find a way to keep yourself accountable. This seems to contradict number uno, but this just means have a system in place to make sure you’re doing what you’ve set out to do. I don’t mean telling other people your goals and having them check up on you. Keeping myself accountable to other people, ie telling them “I’m going to work out 5 days a week,” doesn’t work for me. Either they annoy the heck out of me or make me feel guilty for not reaching my goals. What I’m talking about could be as simple as putting quarters in a swear jar or marking off items on a check-list.  For me, writing this blog reminds me to stay focused on the life I want to live. It is a way to chronicle my journey.  I think detailing your day in a journal, after you complete whatever it was you set out to do, is very effective and is a positive way to track your progress.
  3. Lower your standards, especially if there is something you are just getting started with. This is one I keep seeing from different bloggers, the first was Kazumoto from AJAAT (click the links in his article, they’re good further reading on the subject.) If you say, “I’m going to write a thousand words on my novel today,” and you haven’t written anything in a month or two, chances are it’s not going to happen. But if your goal is to just write something in your novel today, you’ll reach your goal if you write five words, fifty, or five thousand. (I’m totally, obviously not talking about myself, here). Now I don’t mean to produce poor quality on purpose.  I just mean, just do something, or do more than nothing. Let me tell you something: it is easy as heck to just do a little better than nothing, and as many of the others have said, you may find you do a quite a bit more than nothing (no pressure though).
  4. Be mindful of the process, and don’t fixate on the end goal. I seriously want write a whole post on this, but in brief, the idea is to immerse yourself in the task at hand. Don’t do something just to have it finished. If you focus on the process, before you know it, you’ll actually finish instead of lamenting how much time it is going to take.  So many of the things we love can be tedious. We plateau, get stuck, have to back-up and redo. A task you thought you liked might become tedious if you’re having trouble.  I am very much guilty of fixating on the end goal. But I noticed when I focus on the process of the task I’m completing, I enjoy myself more, and the task actually gets completed. Less stress in the end.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope these four thoughts can help you stay motivated with your New Year’s resolutions, life goals, or whatever ticks your clock. I’m signing off for the night.

Thanks for reading.

Peace and Blessings.

Get Rid of Stress/Anger/Frustration, and Find Inner Peace

I’ve been going about this slow-paced lifestyle all wrong: trying to ease the stressors of everyday life by trying to organize the outside factors in my life. I’m not saying that doesn’t help, but it certainly doesn’t solve everything. 

I’ve had an epiphany just now and realized that it doesn’t matter how empty my house is, (minimalism) or how stress-free my work environment is, if I’m not contained in a bubble of inner peace. I need an aura around me that neutralizes any energy that conflicts with stress-free, slow-paced life I’m trying to establish here. Because even if my world is chaotic, I won’t even notice if I’ve surrounded myself in 360 degrees of inner peace.

Yesterday was a pretty horrid day at work. Things did not go my way. And I took to the Internet looking for a way to assuage my anger and frustration. It’s funny how all articles geared towards calming you down are really there to shake their finger and say you shouldn’t have gotten angry in the first place… helpful, right? Well it didn’t help me. So I after watching too much anime (call me a nerd, I don’t care), I realized that I needed a bubble of protection. So, no matter what the goofballs swing at me, their thoughts/actions/energy wouldn’t touch me. Imagine a sword having no effect as it nears your body; the sword melts into oblivion while you stand there protected by your bubble/positive aura/whatever.

Where might I get this bubble you might ask? Well I’m going to pull it out of the roots of my being and surround myself with it. And what the heck am I going to pull out of I’m feeling horrid? I’m going to pull out the wonder of the universe. I’m going to connect with nature, and use the full force of the Universe to support me. I’m starting to think that reconnecting with nature will help me establish a strong, stress-shielding bubble.

Ah, but what about the anger, you say?  All this thinking and I hadn’t figured out how to get rid of it. Until I found a couple YouTube videos on guided meditation. I watched this one video…. focused my attention on these naturalistic images, pushed my thoughts away, and the anger began to subside.

After a second and third video, I started to feel a little better. But what I realized is that you have to be ready to let it all go. If you aren’t truly ready to let the anger and frustration go, it will stay… and I’m not 100 percent now, but I’m way better than I was. I mean, I was holding back panic attacks while I was meditating.  I’m not there yet. I honestly think a few weeks of this will do me justice.

I’m not saying quit minimalism, spend money recklessly, and fill your life to the brim with obligations and responsibilities. I’m saying that even in the midst of chaos, you can find a peace so still and calm. that it won’t matter how quickly the wind blows.  Am I there yet? No.  I still get angry at a lot of things before I even have the chance to “ACT,” instead of instantly “REacting.”  Nonetheless, I’m going to to work on changing all of this, and I’d like to share this journey with you.

8 Methods of Grounding and Connecting to the Earth’s Frequencies

8 Methods of Grounding and Connecting to the Earth’s Frequencies

Quite an interesting tidbit from the article:

The economic system is set up to keep people inside generating information, in large buildings of stone and metal that disconnect us from the Earth. We surround ourselves with machines and technology that constantly bombard us with electromagnetic radiation, i.e. telephones, computers, televisions, etc. We are sold pieces of insulating plastic or rubber to put onto our feet when we are out in nature, hindering the flow of energy from the Earth up into our physical vessel. Pollution and invasive procedures within the Earth distort the electromagnetic field.