Beauty

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I’ve been feeling so good lately. I wanted to share some of my favorite scenes from young to pain my favorite paradisaical views.

I remember having events downtown at the top of the glass buildings, right when the light spreads across them and they shimmer as beautifully as the ocean in the distance. You can see blue as far as the eye, where water meets sky. It didn’t matter if it was for a ball, a meeting, or talking with my mentor over a long-empty table.  It could be atop the mall, and you could get the view in the same cotton, breathing with the wind.  The orange and pink runs across the architecture, wind blowing in hair, wearing sundresses, it looks like magic every time.

My favorite feeling was coming to the beach with the family on a weekday, when everyone was tucked at work. Toes in the hot sand, and the iciest oranges and grapes in the cooler mom packed for us all. Sparkling water that feels so cool to the touch in the heat of the day.  Heat brings the sensation.

Last, the countryside is my favorite. It’s not where a lot of the tourists go. But it’s where the trees and mist are, and the tallest mountains that run into the clouds.  When it rains, waterfalls flow from the heavens.  A rainbow always follows.  The country is where a lot of Jurassic Park was filmed.

A few other good memories are looking at the glittering lights from the hilltop with family, being in the clearing surrounded by trees on Sundays alone to rest, camping once a year, and overlooking the bay where the tourists gather to view the colorful fish too hard to pronounce.

How can we not appreciate every day, every person?

Gentle Minimalist Soap

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I’m really excited to share this recipe with you from the nerdy farm wife.  She has a booklet on how to make soaps. This is a very easy and enjoyable winter project. My grandmother used to make soaps for a long time as a family tradition, soaps with different shapes and colors.  It is a great gift to give since it’s frugal and allows for a lot of creativity.

In the spirit of minimalism, this soap recipe has only 4 ingredients — one of which you already have! Besides being a pleasurable hobby, it is very straightforward and simple.  I like to keep few ingredients in my skincare because it keeps my skin soft and luminous.  You can add an essential oil or even rose water, but I get best results on my skin the more pure my cleaning products are.   These bars of soap are affordable, and something great to look forward to.  You can even use them as hand soap.

Ingredients for 8 bars of soap:

  1. 8.75 oz cold chamomile tea (two tea bags + 10 oz water to start)
  2. 3.7 oz lye
  3. 26 oz chamomile oil (see how to make below)
  4. 3 oz castor oil

Hand blender, scale, 16 oz mason jar, two soap molds, baking spatula, measuring cup, gloves, bucket (should say 5 at the bottom, or PP, meaning it is made out of polypropelyne, better to get a bigger than smaller size)

Prepare oil:

Fill small mason jar half way with tea bags.  Top off with olive oil (from Costco) a couple of inches over tea bags.

Heat a pan with a few inches of water over low heat.  Put mason jar uncovered in the center for 2 hours.

Prepare both chamomile tea and oil.  Set both aside.

Make soap:

Put on gloves.  Take your bucket outside.  You don’t want to get lye anywhere.  Measure slowly. Don’t let your skin contact any of the soap on this day (wear gloves throughout).

Weigh 3.7 oz lye and put it into the 8.75 oz chamomile tea that is already in the bucket.  Work quickly to breathe as little of the fumes as possible (takes less than 30 seconds).  With a baking spatula, mix quickly and leave the mixture in the bucket outside for an hour.

One hour later:

Combine the chamomile oil and 3 oz castor oil, and put it all in the bucket that you’ve brought inside.  Use your hand mixer and turn it on and off intermittently (to avoid air bubbles).  You will develop a thicker cake-like batter called trace, and once it reaches trace, it is perfect.

Pour into your molds and smooth it out so it will have a flat surface when it dries.  Cover it with foil or parchment paper, and put a towel on top.  Leave it in a cool place for 24 hours before you remove the soaps from their mold.

Clean off all things immediately and keep together in the bucket outside.

End result: excellent minimalist soap at a great price!

Identity

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The opposite of control, or perfectionism, is trust.  Trust involves loyalty, embracing the subjective, fluid thought, and submitting, which are difficult concepts for most, much less people that enjoy control.

There are many options available in this world, so many products and dreams.  There are many ties to identity, places to find belonging or unity.  Free speech goes best with free thought, however.  What is the point of freely speaking conspiratorially or standing for a reversal of time?  It is a sure thing that life goes in cycles, but broadly speaking, over the course of 500 years, we move forward, and what is forward is obvious.  What is forward is to consider more than less.  The reason I belong to minimalism is because it is the cause of freedom in all senses.  Any cause that does not encourage free thought, is not a cause or union to be in.

I know that excess is not for me.  Stereotypical living has never been.  When I tried stereotypical advice, it never turned out well because those articles or verses weren’t written by people like me.  If all advice can be is subjective, then maybe the best advice comes from you, or the people you’re closest to you by choice.  My friends don’t encourage judgment calls; they think for themselves, and that is the best way that they encourage me to.  So if your family is not minimalist, your only way is to become.  

Perspective:

Variety is not worth it if it involves longer work hours, more cleaning, and more distraction from thought, study, or relaxation.  There are many possibilities to be known for, many careers, causes, features.  Identifying with anything physical is exhausting, and well-suited for those with great energy, whether that is beauty or religion.  Appearance is especially exhausting, and all – possessions and appearance –  is a part of communication.  Everything moves.  The identification with your mind, career, kindness, or knowledge ebbs and flows, but can a person change what they were was born with?  Environment, culture, and personality shapes most of what we feel affinity toward.  You can read many books, yet the books you are drawn to will be largely based on you, so that the amount a person reads reveals little about capacity.  A lot of what you are is in-built.  

Every feature has its cost to another part.  More time on appearance or exploring is less time on thinking or relaxing.  It is a matter of possibilities and preference.

Some things cannot co-exist.   Is one necessarily better than the other?  It is a matter of perspective.  In the nature of reality, the subjective and objective affect each other, but only one loses is essence.

Crystal clear:

Knowing what is not for you becomes clear, the more that you know what is for you.  Perhaps focusing on all that is not for us would take a lifetime, in decluttering and in any other sense.  But focusing on what shines for us, is more obvious, and the rest of it fades away.

On Dreams

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Dreams are influenced by environment and personality, and in the environment: media, close people, institutions.  I know that magazines tell us how to dream and what to dream for, but could we give up on the dreams we’ve had with us all our life?  I saw possessions and places to get by, and beneath movement and what is tangible, I knew what home meant to me.  Dreams are more real than any physical thing.  How could we let others define who we should have been, or who others around us should be.  If we could listen, then we could find who they always were, then there is true energy to find what already is.  Because excellence comes from being true.

Indecision causes lethargy.  To know who you are and cause-and-effect brings a clear self, to be able to guard against what is not wanted.  Lack of focus comes from lack of conclusion, or else lack of identity.  There are many things ready to provide identity.  Causes can envelop anxieties or grudges, articles help to disguise blame, and institutions hide frailty.  But past all of the memes, TV shows, and other cultural influences, articles that add to confusion, books that unravel hope or categorize, there is only you.  You are a whole entity. 

You are fluid.  It is natural that we move, but to move in a way that is true.  We don’t justify what we are anymore when we protect the best parts of our nature.

In my youth, I could not tell what protected who I was versus what I gravitated to because of outside influence.  Over time, I have come to accept the things that make me, me, daily routines, the simplicity and private parts of me.  There is no guilt anymore, because guilt doesn’t lead to the compassionate part of my nature.  Neither does perfectionism: The more perfect you try to be, the more impatient you become.  There is more perfection in presence, and imperfection.

Power and control:

To move by force is the cruelest thing to do to another human, and force is a broad word.  Humans aren’t meant to be moved — that happens naturally — but to be loved.  A person looking for inspiration, inspires.  A person seeking power, empowers, and then is truly powerful.  A lover loves, not guilt trips into emotion or action (taking), or else finds what they can love and respect, based on what they value in themselves.   

“Be the change that you want in the world.  We make a living by what we give, not what we do.”  Being is a difficult word, because to be is to move.  But being is to let go of what you see yourself as, all the things we tie our identity to.  Blame is too costly, and there’s too much projection in it.  We can view ourselves as the minimal one, or the distressed one, or the enlightened one, or the underdog one.   It is not as if, most of the time, we choose these narratives, but that we fall into them and decide to play them out.  But we are all of those things — and none of them, if we see in whole.  They do not affect our future.  We are all underdogs in our own manner; it depends on which playing field you are judging from.  To see things only in part, is to miss what is beautiful: the whole.  Brutality is a part of life, but so is hope.

Presence:

Becoming and being is more than seeking, because we are more unique when we stop trying to be.  The forcing makes us less of everything that we were born for.  If people seek power, then they empower, and that is pure.  Taking to protect pride — whether taking of surety or resources, brings both sides down.   There is a lot of instability in taking and expectation, but not in presence and honesty.  Giving can feel like overexposure, taking like dependence.  In a crisis, it is good to slow down and examine: choose a solution tried, or become the solution.  You are enough to be the solution, if you let go of what you thought you should have been: the narrative you chose and the feedback you’ve received.  Because what you are is best suited for what you need.  

To be light means you get to take it with you in the dark.  The way to be light, is to give it away. 

Fears Are Challenges

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I don’t think anyone can change who they are for very long, before they go back to their core self.  Challenging yourself is a part of life, but the core self can be sustained.  Inside the core, there is good and evil, and like anything else in life, whatever you feed, augments.  To hate yourself is to hate what you’ve been feeding yourself; nothing is static.  You have your ancestors, your environment and culture, and what you do with it depends on what you are attentive to in your own personality and nature.  Man is not what he thinks, but what he entertains, and even then, that is only for a time.

“Don’t stare too long into the abyss, or the abyss will stare back into you.”  What you focus on, comes to life in a meaningful way, so then I want to focus on meaning and hope.

Honesty:

When you meet someone well for the first time, they are giving to you what is true to them, who they recognize as themselves.  This is usually based on what society wants or who they want to be, not generally based on action or sustainability.  But honesty is dependent on introspective capacity and protocol under pressure; therefore, all honesty cannot be equal.   There is a lot of nuance in behavior – for instance, pride can resemble confidence.  But if you want to know what lies behind what you see, what you accept of yourself, then you just have to look at your actions and the things you are drawn to.  Actions do not define you — habits can be moved somewhat — but these are reflections.

Home Is the Heart:

Your values are your True North.  Even if you are not to blame for what has fallen down, placing the blame anywhere else is pointless.  How can you ask a tree to shed its leaves for you?  People have their temperaments, and they are either agreeable with yours or not.  Maybe a tree will lose its leaves in the winter for a time, if you are patient.  There are many sides to a person and to life.  But you can’t ask a tree to lose its essence.  Only water nature, appreciate its comfort, or walk past.

Up or Down:

Most people do not lie to others, but lie to themselves, then it will called being mistaken.  For some, going deeper inside is not necessary, as they’ve already unraveled a lot of what belief and hope are built on, but mostly for me, protocol was easier than finding what I did not want to.  A lot of deeper things are inconvenient.  What there is no point in believing, is still worth seeing, because it gives you humility and depth.  If pride is the side effect of introspection, then the depths have not been penetrated; introspection is not necessary to have humility, it could lead to self-absorption.  But I go the long way, so I don’t have to come back again.

It was because of what I wanted of me, that blocked me from seeing. I did not want to let myself down.  How could I be ambitious, or rigid like my father?  I threw myself against the things I wanted to be to prove it to myself.  But extremes can’t be sustained. It’s not problems that cause suffering, but denial or lack of acceptance of what is.  The denial meant that it would be hard to ebb and to flow.  In the end, flaws are forgivable, but pride, absorption, and denial are the parts of nature that cause suffering.

Nature:

Fear is nothing to fret over.  Anger and sadness are a part of being human; why fight them?  If you know that everything that is meant for you, is going in a similar direction as you, with similar concerns, how could you worry?  Structure is important to preserve your essence and your health, to not stare too long into the abyss.  With structure — to preserve values — humility, and optimism, you will always have a place to be.

My values are clear: endurance, consideration, and knowledge.  Anything that left had to.  I always look to the future.  People with different priorities have to follow who they are.  They found the places and people, the ideas suited to who they were.

Like goes with like to survive and to thrive.   A droplet joins a bigger stream.

Fire purifies.  Purification and thought burns and burns slowly, and that means a lot to me.  Some will not see the point of your values, but they are not for them.

You are everything you need — you are all parts of nature, the good and the bad — everything that matters and that can be sustained is internal.  What is similar finds its way home.

The Top Place to Declutter

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The best place to declutter is a tough call, but I always recommend to start with the small categories. These really pay off. In that way, progress builds momentum, which makes the rest a lot more effortless. There are a few areas to declutter that show the biggest results immediately: wallet, glove box, medicine cabinet, condiments, and cleaners. But the best place to start is the medicine cabinet.

The reason for this is because it is the one place you will use every day, no matter what. Lazy days and sick days, you will still come to this place. Opening the door to your most useful possessions can cause dread, confusion, or it can look like a spa and produce a relaxed feeling.

Medicine cabinet tips:

1. Prime real estate goes to the essentials. Store everything that isn’t used on a weekly basis somewhere else. In a clear box under the sink, in the closet – anywhere but crowding your daily used items. The spa look is an elegant and spacious look.

2. Go label-lite. Take off labels on anything that is not medication. This is possible because you will use it all the time. Minimalism is a highly pragmatic and elegant lifestyle. Bottles look so much better when the polished glass is gleaming back at you.

My essentials:

bamboo eco-friendly toothbrush – decomposes in the trash faster than plastic, bamboo is prolific and affordable
reusable glass jar floss – very compact for storage and travel, very beautiful
unscented bar of soap – rose water has a scent, but I prefer it if my cleaners do not
sensitive deodorant – lavender and orange

If it is the summer, you can also prepare your own deodorant with Everclear alcohol (3 oz) and about 30 drops of an essential oil like orange and grapefruit (both or only one). Shake it and spray it on to your skin. You can put this under your regular deodorant.

Other ways to smell clean:
wipe before applying deodorant
eat more green vegetables, drink more water

How to Store Fruit/Vegetables to Make Them Last

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Here are the fruits to keep separate from others, because they give off ethylene gas, which cause other fruit to ripen:

avocado
banana
papaya
pear
tomato (fridge)

cantaloupe
honeydew

kiwi
mango
nectarine
plum
apricot

In the fridge, I store these with a paper towel to help them last longer:

cucumber
greens
carrots/celery (same container)

Julia

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When I was 17, I took a clerical job and received my own office and autonomy.  I had hoped for a job like this for a long time.

I had a hard time considering others or hierarchy at the time.  I was eager to prove myself, coming from the bottom.  I remember the first day.  The woman I was replacing was retiring.  I had so many improvements and enthusiasm, and I loved showing them to management.  They were well-received, but the woman leaving, this was her life’s work, and I could not appreciate her institutions or be cognizant of how she was feeling about fear of being invaluable.  It was ironic because I was feeling the same, but I couldn’t see past myself.  

A Cell in a Bigger Body:

We’re in something bigger than ourselves, and it can take a lifetime to see it’s not about us.  It’s a work in progress for everyone I think.  She passed away about a year ago, and I never got to say goodbye or thank her.  

I had to learn to consider, to put people over causes and ideals.  Everybody appreciates appreciation.  Many things should be analyzed, but people should be respected and loved.

Authenticity:

Even though authenticity varies from person to person, unfiltered authenticity after the past has refined, often looks ordinary.  There is minimal drama and self-gain to it.  There’s nothing praiseworthy of failure.  Reality is brutal and sometimes hard to come to terms with.  But know that the brutality is part of the beauty and part of the whole.  Integrity remains under pressure.  Integrity requires us to see what is involved, in whole.

We honor our past by recognizing our part in it, and improving where we feared.  The fire refines and burns away impurity, and fire is pain.  So much time is spent on what makes a good person, but there is less need for deliberation with humility.  By being present, it may engulf, but we can’t help but want to avoid hurting others because they become more valued when we give dignity to ourselves.  Belief is halfway to realization:  You have compassion and value.   You can develop protocol to not let yourself down, and you can find an environment in which fosters the values that you do.  

It becomes clear when we come to, that we mattered just as much as everyone else.  We impact each other’s lives, so let our impact be pure.  

5 Boards: Use Pinterest To Organize Your Life

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Pinterest has helped me to greatly reduce the amount I keep in my notebooks.  You can also use Google Drive, but if you are visual, then Pinterest works excellently.  I’m about 50/50.  Some lists are just so much better on Pinterest.  Although I do use Pinterest for pleasure as well, I try to utilize it practically first.

There are five boards I keep separate on Instagram.  I label these boards in capital letters with an asterisk in front of them, so that they cannot be confused with random boards.  Each asterisked board has roughly 10 pins.

The way I add information to these boards is very deliberate, and that’s the only way to make these practical.  If you pin whatever pops into view, your Pinterest boards will soon become cluttered and functionality will decline.  Rather, I gather pins for these boards from around the internet on my own time, usually not from Pinterest.  It works a lot better like this, if I curate what I add carefully and if I focus on quality over quantity.

My 5 Boards:

 

IMPLEMENT: ideas to implement immediately – articles of green living tips or things I will buy/create

RESEARCH: practical articles to summarize in my notebook, on topics very important to me

STYLE: specifically for my home or wardrobe, an aesthetic that inspires

WISH LIST: since this list is small now, I’ve combined it with the Implement board

WORDS: if I’m drawn to a word, I look it up on Google and pin it

 

Other Board Ideas:

Business Ideas

Working On – whether woodworking or personality typing, specific boards, again carefully curated

Movies – favorite movies, to look for patterns or so you don’t forget one

Food – favorite places to eat or recipes to try

Beauty Ideas – YouTube videos (you can pin videos)

Funny Reddit memes

Dream board – although the Implement board serves this function, perhaps if you have big dreams or are still a teenager or in college, could be useful, especially to look for patterns in what you are drawn to

 

 

 

Best App of All Time

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Probably the three things that have changed my life have been my cordless vacuum, my clear notebook, and the Daylio app.  I have never found such a perfect app, and I’ve tried hundreds.  It is not only completely customizable, but every feature you could think to want has already been implemented.  It even backs up all your data to Google Drive, so you have it on all computers and never lose it.  It can functional as a journal as well, and you can lock the app if you’d like.

Most of the categories are self-explanatory, but for the ones that are not:

ww (woodworking)

dot (period)

E4 (moody)

notes (writing in notebook/planning)

sm (social media)

practice (15 minutes of steno practice)

water (65 fl oz of water)

flowers (new flowers)