I Drank The Self-Improvement Kool-Aid

Over the past two years, I read both of the Marie Kondo books, I listened to hours of The Dave Ramsey Show, and I followed every spoken/written word of The Minimalists. I even went to a Tiny House show at my local convention center.

The Minimalists

I found myself overwhelmed with “stuff” in 2014 when one of my grandmothers died and the other one left her house permanently to move into a nursing home.

After one garage sale and dozens of trips to the thrift store/Salvation Army to donate my “stuff”, I felt like I had more control over my household. My husband had already been a minimalist and his way had rubbed off on me. But I came from a hoarder mother, a lovely woman who is a packrat to the umpth degree.

I have been dissatisified with my career and place of work since 2014, and no amount of Dave Ramsey books read along with my husband or purging of my closet Kondo-style could spark the joy within me. Hell, even weekly weekend trips to the lake to camp in my parents’ RV was just a Band-Aid to the hurt within. While bawling at an Applebee’s one night into my merlot, my husband suggested I go back to school. I nearly cussed him out until he clarified what kind of school, law school.

I enrolled and was accepted in August of 2016 into my 1L year of law school. Three classes a week at night after work has become quite the balancing act. Lest we forget I have a kindergartener, two stepkids, and a household to run (I take care of all the pets, all the time).

But somehow, I’m surviving! It’s all about time management; carving out time for study, compartmentalizing time with friends & family too. I made the Dean’s List my first semester and was inducted into the law school’s Honor Society. All of my professors have told me they believe I have what it takes to pass the bar exam on the first try.

What law school has really taught me, so far, isn’t just torts, civil procedure, and legal writing. I’ve also learned how to improve my mind and my outlook on life. I’ve been a yogi since 1999, and I gave up teaching nighttime yoga classes at the local gym to start law school.

While I’ve been sitting on my ass studying, it makes me long for the rubbery smell of the yoga mat and the heart-pounding, adrenaline rush of a run on the track. I have not neglected these close friends because time management allows me to schedule it in using the appropriate discipline.

Exercise aside, the self-improvement aspect that law school has manifested within me is the ability to talk to people, to listen better, to have more confidence, and to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I will not always be doomed to walk down the halls of an asbestos-filled (I’m assuming) rickety government building to a career that has betrayed me while I’ve outgrown it.

Aside from studying daily for law school courses, I’ve also taken up reading again for pleasure, which was something I did not have time to do my first semester. I’ve gone through a bunch of John Grisham paperbacks and other books that have been collecting dust in my house. Since I’m a reformed hoarder myself (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree), I have looked at the myriad of books I’ve amassed from the thrift store and asked myself the qualifying question: “Does this book add value to my life?”-The Minimalists. Sometimes I ask it the Marie Kondo question: “Does this spark joy?”

I have purged so many books by leaving them at the RV Park’s revolving library and by trying to resell them at 2nd & Charles. There are some books I just ain’t gonna read. Mostly, I have a lot of reference books and nonfiction too, especially yoga-related ones. I have purged a third of my yoga books, kept my favorites on my nightstand, and the other 3rd are upstairs on the bookshelf still.

I did the unthinkable by befriending a law professor. We got to know each other so well in fact, that he gifted me all of his bar-prep books (a HUGE stack of them) and a bar-prep board game as well. I also inherited all of my husband’s old law books (he’s an attorney too), some of which are very outdated but how much does the law really change? I have just accepted the fact that my house will be overflowing with legal books and bar-prep manuals for the next 4 years. Le sigh!

Despite purging books, I have also accepted the fact that I am a DVD junkie. Heck, ya gotta collect something! We have a closet of DVDs, and we actually still watch 95% of them on rotation. They are not collecting dust or wasting space; my family loves movies. If I ever get a tiny house, I will have a storage shed just for movies (and some of my CDs too). And no, I don’t want to put them in the cloud. My son and I like to read the boxes and prioritize them in the order we are going to watch them. Plus I loan out movies to my family and friends.

Marie Kondo

Next, I have pared down my closet so much in the past two years, it’s like I am finally starting to get a capsule wardrobe. I stick with classic pieces in black, gray, navy, white, and occasionally red. I am loyal to brands that fit well and last for decades like LL Bean, Lululemon (more on them later), and Lilly Pullitzer. My law school classmates and I once discussed how we have culled a “uniform” to one day wear once we practice law. I’m trying to evolve my uniform now to wear to the job that I’m hanging onto as sort of a paid internship (it sounds better in my head). If something is ugly, I purge it. If it’s too boob-tight, it gets tossed too. My household has a rotating purge box designated for charity donation.

My mom has gotten better lately and is no longer a hoarder; I’d like to think some of my minimalism has rubbed off on her. My dad has never struck me as a pack-rat, which raises the question, Are men just natural-born minimalists? My son deviates from that mold because his room is a constant wreck, overflowing with plastic toys, books, mismatched socks, and costumes. But I learned from The Minimalists that you cannot convert someone to the lifestyle, nor can you purge his/her possessions because that is just plain immoral.

I am praying my dream comes true soon, which is that my husband gets a better paying attorney job that would enable me to quit my day job. Then I can focus on running my household into minimalist shape while being the mom I want to be, and picking up an extra law class. I realize that I cannot will this dream to happen, but the hope of it is keeping my motivation running. I no longer want to be another faceless cog in the wheel of a machine that has destroyed the very kefi (Greek word for joy) of my soul. I long for a simpler life, a life focused on family, academia, and friends.

LULU-Logo-1

Along my intellectual journey,I heard about one of my favorite brands, Lululemon, and what they do to their employees. My first experience with Lululemon was being in Yoga Teacher Training in 2012 wondering why all the rich students were wearing nice clothes and using pretty yoga mats with the Omega Ω symbol on them. By the time I could actually afford to shop there, I was pleasantly surprised at how nice the staff was and that I got a Yoga-Teacher discount! Even on clearance! Years later, I’m still using their invincible mats and wearing the same pieces of clothing I bought on day 1. My husband last week read me a Facebook article about Lululemon, which explained how the staff is encouraged to “clear” out negative emotions (much like Scientologists are audited). Lululemoners are required to read Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” for the pseudo-libertarian philosophies therein on self-improvement. They have sweat-dates where they get to attend workout classes with their coworkers, and their ambitions are fostered, not shut down (like when you work for the government—me).

Last week alone, two of my good friends moved away; one got a job at a prestigious law firm two hours south, and the other was a coworker who was promoted across the state. This left a hole which I soon healed with detachment. I have moved on using the Lululemon method: I talked about my feelings, I worked out, and I started reading “Atlas Shrugged.” Seriously, I bought it yesterday.

So in tying this article together, the point is that I am constantly in a state of self-improvement. I drank the Kool-Aid and am invested in myself. My dreams aren’t met yet, but I’m working on them as a work in progress. My social life is pretty great, hanging out with like-minded law students/people in the legal profession. I still get to see my sorority sisters from college, and I have a cool role in my church. I’m the greeter at the door, but it feels like I’m a bouncer so it’s fun.

If you need anything from me, I will be memorizing laws, reading Randian philosophies and working on my Warrior 2 out in the woods of the RV park. Who is John Galt?

Ayn Rand lululemon bag

__________________________________________________________________The Minimalists

“I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time…A man thinking or working is always alone, let him be where he will. Solitude is not measured by the miles of space that intervene between a man and his fellows.”—Henry David Thoreau, “Walden”

 

Catch me on Instagram @yogalawgothygram and Tweet me @marissamacabre

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When Hoarding Becomes Dangerous!!

As I type this post, I do so with my thumbs on my smartphone seeing as my right hand took quite a beating today. You see, I was trying to add two new sommelier wine glasses to my stemware cabinet while organizing this morning.

I was trying to balance my cellphone (having a conversation with my mom) and juggling glassware. I slipped, tripped, and broke about four wine goblets & a martini glass.

My pinky finger got gashed by a broken shard of glass. The meat where my index finger connects to my palm also became sliced. I dripped blood all over the kitchen among the broken glass chips. It looked like quite the crime scene!

I frantically called my husband, mom, and mother-in-law in a panic. Neither my primary care physician nor my dermatologist wanted to stitch my finger up today. I had to go to the emergency room at the hospital and wait amongst patients dying of cholera, tuberculosis, Spanish Flu, and Black Plague just to get a stitch. I’m almost 34 and I’m certain that if this were the olden times, my injured GUSHING-BLOOD pinky would have killed me then.

Once order had been restored to my universe, I had my mom help me put the glassware that didn’t  get purged back up in the cupboard. She took some extra glasses, but the rest got packed up in a box headed for the thrift store. No single normal household should have SOOO MANY wine, beer, and liquor glasses! How did I become such a hoarder? I’ve read both of Marie Kondo’s books and I’m a huge fan/follower of The Minimalists.

If you look at the 3rd picture, you will see where I emptied all the excessive alcohol glasses out of the cabinet.

And the 4th picture shows my finished product, complete with labels from my label maker. I donated the glasses that were given to me from people I no longer like and from a snotty brewery club I quit last year.

It took today’s injury to rattle my core (at least my pinky’s bare bone) to force me to get rid of clutter. Y’all be careful in your purging endeavors. My little trip to the ER set me back $150 plus shame and embarrassment. I have the blood spatter in the kitchen to prove that I took one for the team.

Tiny House Road Show- Pictures!

On July 23rd, my family attended the Tiny House Road Show at our local civic center. Not all tiny houses are built as equals. Some were just *presh/gorge*, while others were severely lacking…

Instead of making this an article, I’m going to just post all the pictures of us. Some of them contain *rando humanoids* who happened to photo-bomb us!

I will say this one thing: one day I hope to downsize to a tiny house by a body of water and live as Thoreau did, but of course with WiFi flowing through my devices and Kat Von D makeup on my face. I’ve got a long way to go on purging/paring down the bare necessities…I only buy what I absolutely have to now and donate the rest. With the exception of school textbooks (1,000+ pages), my “biggest” purchase items are DVD’s. Keepin’ it tiny…

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And to end on a note with a compostable toilet, from me to you, enjoy.

Ease On Down the Road…with Detachment and Tranquility

To say I’ve been stressed out lately is an understatement. I know that everyone stresses out some, whether in traffic, or over money, or in social situations. Mine has been work and hobby-related as of late.

This week in particular, I’ve been suffering with anxiety, trying to cope holistically without anything to numb the neuroses. I’ve been implementing yoga, deep breathing, meditation, long walks outside, and adult coloring with markers. It seems we are all faced with demanding minutiae each day that pull at our beings like annoyances, but how we react to the external stimuli determines how much stress we swallow down when it’s all said and done.

I took a break from working this morning to leave my desk. As I let my iPod go on shuffle mode, a long time song popped up to play. It was one I learned in summer theatre camp half my life ago. The song was “Ease On Down The Road” by Michael Jackson and Diana Ross from The Wiz.

ease on down the road

There’s nothing like a little MJ to soothe this very own MJ (my initials too).

I started listening to the lyrics while shaking my booty and it hit me! The song is about detachment from materialism and focusing on mindfulness. It may have been great disco years ago, but there’s a deeper level of advice given by the Prince of Pop and the Queen of Disco.

“Ease on down the road, don’t you carry nothing that might be a load…

Let’s keep moving on the road that you choose don’t you lose no ground…

‘Cause there may be times when you think you’ve lost your mind and the steps you’re taking might be 3 or 4 steps behind but the road you’re walking might be long sometimes. You just keep on stepping and you’ll be just fine…

There may be times when you wish you wasn’t born and you wake one morning just to find that you’re alone. You know that feeling only lasts a while. You just stick with us and we’ll show you how to smile.”

Do we feel entitled to a better life? Being raised in the US, I feel like the American Dream is something we all strive for, like better living, more belongings, fame, fortune, beauty and popularity. But this is all a societal illusion, propagated by the man, big greedy corporations, the media, puppet-masters, and probably the Illuminati. JK

I just realized that I’m not getting any thinner or younger. I recently had a mental meltdown about failures in my career such as the crippling feeling of the glass ceiling. I will never get promoted, never get transferred to a different office, never get a better work vehicle, and never get a better job. Is the grass always greener? I think what the song is telling us is that Dorothy is trying to make her way to Emerald City (greener grass) but she is not focusing on having fun along the journey down the Yellow Brick Road.

The Yellow Brick Road for me has been bumpy these past few years. If I follow the advice of the song, I will implement mindfulness, simplicity, minimalism, and non-hoarding. Does each yellow brick I step on Spark Joy? Am I finding relaxation along the way with the poppy fields of life?

Maybe “Ease On Down The Road” should be my new mantra. It might cure my stress-related IBS-D and help me to lose weight. A laissez faire attitude, a.k.a. sprezzatura helps insulate the anxious ones among us from sweating the small things.

I’ve been a Madonna fan since early childhood. The old brood isn’t making wonderful new tunes all the time these days, but every once in a while, she will pop out a gem.

madonna superbowl

The 2012 song “I Don’t Give A” featuring Nicki Minaj has become one of my other shake-it-off type angry cheers.

I don’t give a fu-u-u-u
I don’t give a fu-u-u-u
I don’t give a fu-u-u-u
I don’t give a fu-u-u-u

Wake up ex-wife
This is your life
Children on your own
Turning on the telephone
Messengers, manager
No time for a manicure
Working out, shake my ass
I know how to multi-task
Connecting to the Wi-Fi
Went from nerd to superb
Have you seen the new guy
I forgot the password
Gotta call the babysitter
Tweetin’ on the elevator
I could take a helicopter
I don’t even feel the pressure

I’m gonna be OK
I don’t care what the people say
I’m gonna be alright
Gonna live fast and I’m gonna live right

I’m moving fast, can you follow my track
I’m moving fast and I like it like that
I do ten things all at once
And if you have a problem
I don’t give a

You were so mad at me
Who’s got custody
Lawyers suck it up
Didn’t have a pre-nup
Make a film, write a song
Gotta get my stockings on
Meet the press, buy the dress
All of this to impress
Ride my horse, break some bones
Take it down a semitone
I forgot to say my prayers
Baby Jesus on the stairs
Gotta sign a contract
Gotta get my money back
All the biters have to go
Standing in the front row

I’m gonna be OK
I don’t care what the people say
I’m gonna be alright
Gonna live fast and I’m gonna live right

I’m moving fast, can you follow my track
I’m moving fast and I like it like that
I do ten things all at once
And if you have a problem
I don’t give a

I tried to be a good girl
I tried to be your wife
Diminished myself
And I swallowed my light
I tried to become all
That you expect of me
And if it was a failure
I don’t give a

I don’t give a fu-u-u-u
I don’t give a fu-u-u-u
I don’t give a fu-u-u-u
I don’t give a fu-u-u-u

Shots fire
Anything you hear Nicki on: that’s fire
You don’t hear them bums on nothing, that’s fire
Tell ’em catch buyer
In the Bugatti, 10 grand, one tire
Ayo Madonna (Yes, Nicki), maybe I say you original, don dada
In that, yeah Gabbana, and the, yeah Prada
We Material Girls, ain’t nobody hotter
Pops collar!
See I really can’t relate to your Volvo
And you can’t get these shoes at the Aldo
When I let a dude go, that’s his loss
I was cutting them checks, I was his boss!
Yo, I don’t give a f-u
Curse nor bless you, never let them stress you
Yo, I ain’t a businesswoman, I’m a business, woman!
And I’m known for giving bitches the business, woman

I’m gonna be OK
I don’t care what the people say
I’m gonna be alright
Gonna live fast and I’m gonna live right

I’m moving fast, can you follow my track
I’m moving fast and I like it like that
I do ten things all at once
And if you have a problem
I don’t give a

There’s only one queen, and that’s Madonna
Bitch!

I don’t give a fu-u-u-u
I don’t give a fu-u-u-u
I don’t give a fu-u-u-u
I don’t give a fu-u-u-u”

I apologize for profanity but I love the song! I reiterate it to myself when I get snagged on a pesky problem at work or in other areas of my life without an immediate fix. It forces me to live in the present and not to give a f*ck about worries I can’t control.

So let’s take a page out of Madonna and Michael Jackson’s lyric books and practice detachment, tranquility, contentment, mindfulness, sparking joy, and whatever other New Age concept you want to throw at the wall and hope it sticks like al dente spaghetti.

MJ and Madonna

__________________________________________________________________________

“In any weather, at any hour of the day or night, I have been anxious to improve the nick of time, and notch it on my stick too; to stand on the meeting of two eternities, the past and future, which is precisely the present moment; to toe that line.”- Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Next Stop, Greenwich Village!…In My Dreams

I’ve been mildly obsessed with Tiny Houses since December, but today during lunch I stumbled upon…TINY APARTMENTS in NY, NY!

manhattan-greenwich-village_a_540x340_20130424

I was eating lunch and reading my guilty pleasure, The Daily Mail, when I clicked on a story about actress Parker Posey selling her Greenwich Village apartment for 1.45 million. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3608848/An-indie-dream-home-Parker-Posey-lists-Greenwich-Village-apartment-1-45million.html

I further researched the 30 5th Avenue, NY, NY 10011 property on Trulia.com, my best friend for real estate intel online. Of course it didn’t share exactly the square feet of the tiny apartment, but it did spark my interest in looking at similar availabilities in Greenwich Village, Upper East Side Manhattan, Brooklyn, and even Harlem.

Let me get this straight for you. I live in the Deep South and have no foreseeable future of myself and my family moving to the Big Apple, although I have spent a few days there and much prefer NY to CA any day of the week. I’m just incredibly nosy!

Do you know how much you can ascertain about how a class of people from a certain area live? Most of the real estate postings featured pictures of seller’s apartments, as they were. Not many had staged furniture and art décor. While surfing, you can see how the NY bunch lives. I must give them a hand….many of them survive in tiny spaces with highly organized lifestyles and utilitarian furniture.

Tim-Seggerman-NYC-Apartment_1Just playing pretend here, I closed my eyes and tried to imagine my current furnishings and possessions from my 5 & 3 crammed into a chic NY apartment. Saying it would be a challenge is definitely an understatement. I would have to PURGE, PURGE, PURGE, to DOWNSIZE, DOWNSIZE, DOWNSIZE. A majority of suburbanite Americans from the middle class would share the difficulties in this feat. If we all packed up and moved to the city that never sleeps, a massive group of people would have to adopt a minimalist lifestyle to survive.

Most descriptions of these Tiny Apartments come with laundry, gym, terrace, basement storage (with a waiting list), and a bike room in each building structure. That means, adios to all of our cars! This is the land where he who owns a bike/a subway pass is king.

Just about any New Yorker you talk to would rather give up unnecessary clutter and space in exchange to live in their fair city in the Empire State. Opportunity trumps possessions. What if we lived like this no matter where we reside? Big city, or big farm, could Americans pare down their material objects enough to where they could pack up and move in small living quarters at any time?

The more I purge unwanted possessions at home (one in, two out rule), I begin to see myself packing it all up one day and downsizing. Most ladies (and some fellas) get their jollies from buying a bunch of new clothes and trendy cars. I like to buy organizational equipment to hang up on the walls, to declutter my closets with the KonMari Method, and to square off my drawers of trinkets. The less I have, the richer I feel. Frankly, this translates into the less junk you buy regularly, the more money you have in the bank. Frugaling and minimalism go hand in hand.

In this new day in age, I’m going to be more mindful of not being wasteful of my space. Wouldn’t it be neat if we all lived like these compact New Yorkers?! [Cue Taylor Swift’s “Welcome to New York, It’s been waiting for you…” playing in the background]

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Me in NYC 2014 (Midtown, Manhattan)_______________________________________________________________

“My dwelling was small, and I could hardly entertain an echo in it; but it seemed larger for being a single apartment and remote from neighbors.”–Henry David Thoreau, Walden

 

Detachment Can Hurt, But Hanging On Smarts Worse

imageI love my baby toe’s toenail. But I believe we are going to have to depart from each other soon. Parting is such sweet sorrow. AND IT HURTS LIKE A MOTHERCLUCKER.

Last night while teaching yoga, my toenail got caught on the edge of my yoga mat during an intense pose. The snagging pulled off most of my toenail except for where it’s still attached at the quick. I slapped a bandage on there and prayed I won’t get an infection. The gel nail polish craze has really toughed up the nail bed by drying it out, which also makes it easier to detach from the tiny toe.

For the past few months, I have been going through some spiritual turmoil in a few areas of my life. Not with my marriage or health, but another aspect. After trying hard and throwing everything at the wall, hoping it sticks like al dente spaghetti, my efforts were failing me. I have had to GIVE. UP. ON. MY. GOAL. I did so kicking and screaming, especially coming to a head around my 33rd birthday last week.

I’ve detached, knowing that the change I sought after wasn’t meant to be. (My body accepted the resignation of what I failed to achieve, and I caught strep throat.)

This notion isn’t defeatist or depressing, just realistic. If you make a good effort to change something in your life and you could not achieve, hang up your hat. Tuck your boots under the bed. You gave it your best effort. Detach from the pain and suffering of change, even if it was all in your head. Just let it go. Make the best of the current situation. Be consciously mindful living in the moment without worry.

One of my clients has tried very hard to keep her marriage afloat, after months of counseling and negotiating with her agrieved husband. She has finally decided to throw in the towel and file for divorce. Honey, I’ve been there. Sometimes that’s all you can do. We have to detach from the romantic idealist hope to being in a marriage that is not working. It’s best to just end it, get closure, and form a new dream.

I find solace in prayer, talking to friends, throwing myself into work, yoga and exercise. I am finally okay to move on now. Because when God closes a door, He opens a window. I’m sick of keeping that window latch locked! It’s time to cut my losses and to move on. Let’s do this. PEACE.

_________________________________________________________________

“Pursue some path, however narrow or crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.”-Henry David Thoreau

Dystopian Society Dictates No Clothing Changes, KonMari Method In Place

Two nights ago, I had this deeply lucid dream about living in a dystopian society where each person was only allowed to wear one outfit a day. Huh?

That’s right. Perhaps Hunger Games, The Giver, 1984, and similar literary works have gotten too much in our culture’s subconscious. When I start conversations with, “Big Brother is watching us…” my friends threaten me with a proverbial tin foil hat.

Back to the dream…imagine if laws were put in place about not changing clothes. If you were only allowed to wear one set of clothing all day long, no matter what, or there would be consequences to face. In my dream, I specifically remember attending a Christmas parade in the snow where there was a Marilyn Monroe impersonator in “Santa baby” type flirty winter wear. My thoughts were, “Oh, I guess she’s stuck being dressed like that all day long, despite the frigid weather.”

If this dream was activated in the waking world, nurses, cops, firemen, and all uniformed employees would be forced to wear work attire all day long. Even to sleep in. Maybe Freud would say my recent research into minimalism was the driving force behind such dream sequences. Enter Marie Kondo.

Who hasn’t heard of “Spark Joy” or the KonMari method at this point? Marie Kondo and her “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” have been all over the international news by now. Kondo has appeared on numerous talk shows with her translator at hand. I’m in the middle of reading her first book now, having accidentally read the sequel, “Spark Joy” first.

In my obsessive quest for perfection at age 33, I’ve recently spent a lot of time researching minimalism methods, zero waste lifestyles, living off the grid, tiny houses, etc. to lower my carbon footprint and to GET JUNK OUTTA MY LIFE!!!

I call it purging. If someone hasn’t been a good friend, ppppppppurge them out of your life! When you become aware of toxic people and their psychic vampire effects on your life, you tend to avoid them. The same can be said of clutter. Trash. Junk. I despise hoarding overall. It’s one thing always making sure I have an extra black eyeliner or chapstick in stock. It’s another to have 25 backups cluttering my space.

Don’t you know a hoarder who has accumulated years of crapola in his/her living space? My husband described someone he knew who had old newspapers piled to the sky in her living space…because she might want to reread an old article. Really? Ten bucks says she never did.

Obviously, the KonMari method has sunk in for me. Every time I buy a new LL Bean shirt, for example, I purge two older shirts from my closet. 1 in, 2 out. It’s a good method. A few special people have even gone so far as to create capsule wardrobes for themselves. I personally cannot do this because I have about three types of clothing styles I rotate when the personality that comes with it suits me.

Let’s go back to the dream I had. Pretend you can only wear one outfit a day without changing clothes or else you would get arrested or fined because Big Brother was constantly watching your small town, utilizing ubiquitous surveillance techniques. What would you wear all day long? I would eliminate jeans because they are constrictive. No more blazers like I’m wearing today at work. Most tight, short skirts could be eliminated. I guess our “uniform” would be utilitarian colors like black, white, and navy in cotton. Pants would be loose and breathable but easy to bend in like yoga pants. Tops would have to look dressy but still be comfortable to sleep in and do physical fitness activities in or just cut the grass while wearing.

Think about it. If you only had one type of outfit all day long encasing your body, you would want to be comfortable but easy to blend in at places of business (not looking like you rolled into Wal-Mart with pj’s on). What if you could pare down your wardrobe so much this actually became your way of life? Whenever I go camping, this is essentially what I do. I’ll wear a pair of loose but dressy leggings all day long and sleep in them to reduce luggage. Same with trips that involve flying.

If the day ever comes where some big eye in the sky dictates for whatever reason we need to incorporate the KonMari method of minimalism and purge all excess clothing, I will have my utilitarian wardrobe at ready-gun. This type of lifestyle has to been cheaper, too. My savings accounts would always be padded because I wouldn’t be doing excessive tog shopping. Here’s to the future!

It’s s’more like playing with Fire than cooking a delicacy

Who doesn’t like to play with fire?

Being a Taurus, nature has dictated that I’m an Earth sign, an Earth-mama if you will. But we need ALL of the elements in our lives! Obviously, I live for Water…such as boating, swimming, floating, and being by the lake. Whenever my honey and I take trips, we enjoy the Air element by flying…usually via Southwest; you get the picture. Anyone can attest that the Fire element is what keeps us, um…burning with a passion for life. Let me introduce to you the daughter of Fire and Sweets: her name is S’more.

S'mores a la carte

S’mores a la carte

Here we have the marriage of chocolate, graham crackers, fluffy marshmallows on their date with destiny, aka Fire.

Whenever I’m out in nature, I behold the firepit! We have one at home in our front yard and one at the RV resort. For my son’s fifth birthday party a few weeks ago, I built a firepit using a simple article on http://www.wikihow.com and some connected stones from Home Depot.

Check out the handsome camper in green, my son at our home firepit as he roasts wieners.

We made magic again this past weekend at the lakeside firepit beneath the country stars.

Bonfire

That goober lying on the ground is me. I like to be close to the Earth and Fire elements, obviously. My stepson, son, and husband are also around the fire.

There’s no simpler way to enjoy nature melding gastropleasures with the Fire element than by making s’mores. All that sugar makes a gal a bit crazy…

Bonfire yowza

Pinecones, rocks, logs, pine straw and a lighter are all you need to make memories around a campfire.

It all seems so simple. And it is. Not to mention cheap. Frugality meets ingenuity which begets s’mores.

And bears.

Bear rock firepit


“Our village life would stagnate if it were not for the unexplored forests and meadows which surround it. We need the tonic of the wilderness–“-Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Bookworms Trump Boobtubes

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I have a sneaky habit of not paying for books much.

I’m not saying I steal them; heavens, no! Using frugality as my friend, I have learned creative tricks into being able to read a looooooooot.

Just this very day, I removed the flat-screen TV and DVD player from my office. I only had it on my desk taking up space and collecting dust for no reason. Over Christmas holidays, it’s pretty dead around my office. The courts are closed and I have a propensity to bring some DVD’s with me to work to play as, er….background noise.

But that’s exactly what TV has become for my generation. Background noise. I’d rather listen to my iPod while working profusely at my work desk. This is one of those minimalism examples you’ve been hearing about. For me, it’s been cutting out TV a good bit. I’m not plagued by the constant barrage of advertisements making me feel guilty for not having said products.

On the other hand, I have nerdishly been hoarding books. The state’s biggest library is just 3 miles from my office. One of my clients frequents there among all the other urban hobos who like the clean facility and cool air condition in the Deep South. I’ll use the excuse that I’m looking for my client and duck out to the library.

Currently, my husband and I have been reading some of the Dave Ramsey saga, if you will. We started with Financial Peace and now we are on  Total Money Makeover. We sit at the dining room table at night with an adult refreshment while he reads aloud and I take notes. We stop and discuss each chapter, in the hopes that Ramsey’s wisdom sinks in. Next in that set for our family to read is the book Ramsey wrote with his daughter called Smart Money, Smart Kids. Since the library check out of that one was about to expire, I made copies of the bulk of it and put it in a binder. We are going to share the insight with my son and stepsons before it’s too late!!!

I feel like with Non-Fiction, I can read about 10 books at a time and not get them confused. This used to baffle my grandmother. Out of respect for her and her demented mind in the nursing home, I only ready one fiction book at a time. I just finished The Revenant and for a western (not my favorite genre) it was pretty good! It was also a library book in which I had my local branch place a hold.

Then, when I open up my Kindle, I have an Amazon Prime Member’s Lending Library free book checked out right now. The one I’m about to start is Leah Remini’s scathing anti-Scientology autobiography My Escape From Scientology. I’m rather obsessed on the subject, especially since I just finished reading Going Clear, which was made into an HBO film.

Also on my Kindle, I have an e-book checked out from my library which expires in 14 days. I’m reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed, the follow-up to Eat, Pray, Love. I own my second copy of that book, having given my first copy to a divorcing sorority sister a few years ago. I have the movie too, but as the old adage goes, “The book is better than the movie.” Even Julia Roberts couldn’t completely redeem the written page. Liz also wrote Big Magic, which I bought and read during football season. My lucky ex-sister-in-law met Liz at a book signing in TN. #jealous

On my lunch break this week, I dropped off a bucket of hardback books and old movies to sell to 2nd & Charles. While I was waiting on my store credit to accumulate, I browsed all the books. I found a new author who intrigued me named Wilkie Collins. Instead of buying his book in the store, I searched iTunes Store on my smart phone and the Amazon e-book collection. Both had his works for free, so I downloaded The Moonstone and The Haunted House for gratis.

At any given moment, I’m on a list at my local library branch for whatever book that suits my fancy. Books typically don’t take up much space, especially if you use an e-reader. My Kindle Paperwhite fits nicely in my purse and I can read outside without eyestrain.

Basically, people come into my office and notice how sparsely decorated it is. That I have a tiny desk. That I have a Lilly Pulitzer for Target lounge chair. <—It’s for reading on breaks! But I always have at least two books with me. They are universally the best entertainment.

I can literally be working on a document while on the clock and as I wait for it to download, etc., I can steal glances at whatever book I’m reading that moment.

Here is my challenge for you, reader: substitute reading a book in lieu of your next boobtube opportunity. You may be delighted at the lack of mental distraction you face with an open book instead of incessant noise and rambling of the TV.

If you’re like me and you’re hungry for books, always go to the thrift store first for the best deals. Or have a book trading party. I did that once at my house and it was very successful.

Next, check out free downloads on Amazon Kindle, iTunes for iBooks, and Nook. Check with your local library branch about available e-books too.

Finally, go to your favorite physical bookstore with a hot beverage in hand. Carefully browse the sections that speak to you. Fantasy. Erotica. History. Young Adult. Health. New Age. Whatever… then, take pictures or type a list on your smartphone of books you want to read next.

Take that list with you to the library to request titles. Ask friends if they have those books to borrow. And always check if they’re free online. If they cost money, download a sample. Usually, you can get a taste of how the author is going to navigate said-book to see if it’s worth your while to buy. I have dozens of samples on my Kindle!! Sometimes the first chapter is ENOUGH.

Happy reading!


“Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations.”-Henry David Thoreau, Walden

 

 

Achieve Inner Peace By Simplifying Your [Yoga] Routine

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I am no stranger to yoga. I teach yoga every Monday night after my day job ends once I commute across town to my local gym. Lately, I’ve really been complicating things, feeling as though I’ve been serving two masters. Those ambivalent forces are both ego and inner peace.

In Yoga Teacher Training back in 2012, I basically learned how to teach the Primary Series of staunch Ashtanga Yoga inside and out. As militant as it can be, it’s an easy fall back pattern in which to teach a class, especially if you begin with a Sun Salutations warm-up.

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However, with my aging body, Ashtanga just pisses me off. I want to complete the majority of the poses (and teach them) when my ego is in control of my mind, body, and spirit. People, this is not a good way to be! One of the main goals of the eight-limbed yoga path is to escape one’s detrimental ego.

Instead, I have found solace in Kundalini yoga. I achieve my workouts through bicycling, hiking, running, power walking with my family, and jumping on our mini trampoline. Hell, some days at the office I run around so much I know I achieve my cardio workout. So, do I still need to come home after clocking in a 10 hour day at the office only to beat myself up on the yoga mat with Ashtanga? No!

Kundalini is more spiritual and definitely more relaxing. Some of the kriyas (mini-workout sets) can involve hard breathing and strenuous working out causing cardio to occur. But overall, Kundalini feels like a date with a spa, albeit on my yoga mat. I even have a white fur rug I put onto of my lululemon mat to stimulate that pure white energy from the great beyond. I practice my Kundalini workout in my Zen room, which is painted white and sparsely decorated.

Tonight, I was pretty tired after a long day of work training and I did not want a hard workout. I turned on my smart phone’s YouTube app and loaded my usual Tibetan Singing Bowls 9 hour “song” video. But then I realized that there was a fresh storm outside, complete with night thunder and rain pelting my window. Talk about an electrical charge from Mother Nature!

The minimalist in me turned off the electronic device and cracked the window. I soaked in the natural sound of the storm while doing my Kundalini yoga “workout” tonight. Thunder and lightning can really give the conscious yogi a natural high!

If something is not bringing you joy, simplify until you find your inner peace. For me, that comes in the form of Kundalini yoga instead of Ashtanga, Bikram, or other forms of Hatha yoga. And why play artificial sounds when I can just tune into the natural music of nature?!

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“Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself.” -Henry David Thoreau, Walden

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