Slower

This is a rehashed topic across blogs, but I want to emphasize the importance of it, and particularly where it fits into my life.  I prize efficiency over most things.  I understand expendiency. However, it has really benefited to move more slowly in three activities.

1. Opening Mail

Why rush and get paper cuts?

2. Eating/Preparing Food

I enjoy savoring food and sipping smoothies.  I try to pay more attention to texture and taste.  For me, chewing thoroughly helps with digestion, enjoying company, and sleep.

3. Walking

Who needs bruises, stubbed toes, and dropped items?  The quicker you walk, the more room for error.  When I get out of bed or the shower or when I’m carrying something, especially I move slowly.  Also, Pat likes to lay around in the middle of the floor often.  Nothing makes me more nervous than a clumsy person moving at a brisk pace haha Another thing to keep in mind, as we get older, our bodies heal more slowly.   So it is good to get in the habit of being careful while moving now.

If I drove more, perhaps I would also include driving, as objectively it hardly makes a difference how fast you drive, in terms of when you arrive.  A saved five minutes is not worth the required attention to detail, worry of tickets, or missing of the scenery/music.  Mathematically, the faster you drive after 60 mph, your odds go down drastically of survival in the event of a crash.

I think moving more slowly is great, although I like that I can move quickly in stenography, in editing videos, and in making decisions.  I just find that for these three areas, my life has improved tremendously when I take my time with them.  Give it a try!

International Travel Ideas

I thought I’d write a summary of the countries I’ve been to, just in case you’re planning a vacation for next year.  This is not meant to be a comprehensive review of any country, as I don’t think any tourist could do that, but more or less to give you an idea of each country so you can travel where you’d most enjoy.

Americans do travel a lot; we just usually stay within the United States. Therefore, in the interest of saving money, I thought I’d go over the pros of each country I’ve seen, and I will continue to add to this list.  I am mainly giving my view for tourists, not for those looking to relocate.

Reasons to travel:

*relax
*try new food/get cooking inspiration
*get fresh inspiration/perspective for art/writing
*see architecture/learn history
*find humans are similar everywhere, cultures are different

Banff, Canada

Canada is a beautiful land, beautiful in the way that the upper United States is: pristine. Residents are polite and laid-back. It is a great place to visit if you like the outdoors. I chose Banff particularly for the turquoise waters. The woods/mountains remind me a lot of Colorado and parts of Tennessee.

Oslo, Norway

It was unfortunate that I did not get to see the fjords while living in Norway. The outdoors is stunning, and walking along the piers is a treat. There is beautiful architecture to the apartments (a lot of character from the outside), as what you would see throughout Europe.  Quiet, reserved people, unless it’s the weekend. Very safe, like Canada. I really liked the supermarket fruit here. Everything tasted like it was from a farm. So if you do come to Norway, I would recommend making your own food, as eating out is very expensive — and the food inside in the supermarket can’t be beat.  It is the ingredients, after all.

Budapest, Hungary

My favorite place so far, as the diversity is incredible. Great night life, decent food, the most beautiful castle, exotic people/music.  I watched multiple weddings and bachelor parties.  The best restaurant I’ve had abroad was here (Trattoria Pomo D’Oro), and it was very affordable. The services, like massage, are very affordable, and the masseuse even came to my hotel room. Your dollar will go extremely far here. Overall, the country I’m most likely to revisit.

Tuscany/Rome/Pisa, Italy

You absolutely cannot beat the views in Italy. If you are going for Instagram-worthy shots, memories that will stay with visually, then Italy is the place for you. If you do not like seafood, it is harder to eat in Italy, even inland. Many restaurants/pharmacies close mid-day, so waking up early is a must. The people are casual and touchy-feely like they are in Hawaii, very effusive. The meals are long, multiple courses, and an event to be savored, not a means to an end. The views in Tuscany and the people remind me so much of Hawaii.

Prague, Czech Republic

Easily the best food experience of any country I’ve been to. The best Michelin restaurant I’ve dined at is here (Alcron Restaurant). There was not a single restaurant I ate at that did not taste amazing, that I stopped reading reviews of restaurants halfway through the trip. If you are a foodie, this is the place for you. A very touristy area, keep in mind, and the architecture in my opinion is secondary to the food, which is saying a lot. The people are very friendly. The castle has stairs, not an elevator like Budapest, so you’ll get great exercise. I didn’t need to rent a car here.

Lisbon, Portugal

A beautiful land with very friendly and vivacious people, like that of Italy. The best stories in cabs I heard here. I really enjoyed the mentality of the women I got to meet in Portugal; the women I met were professional and assertive. If you are going for the beach, Italy and Portugal are great destinations. I always felt safe. I like Portugal also because it’s close to the United States, so very convenient to get to.  A very relaxing vacation destination with incredible fruit.  I highly recommend the Corinthia Hotel, as the view at breakfast and room service/spa were top-notch.

United States

Having visited most of the states, I would say that my favorite locations are Hawaii, Gatlinburg (Tennessee), Big Sur (California), San Antonio (Texas), and Sedona (Arizona).  I mainly go for the views, then the food.

If there are other countries/states you highly recommend, please leave in the comments along with the highlights, the reasons why it’s your favorite so that others can decide if they would also enjoy it. Of course, there are many beautiful cities in the US as well, if you like to see culture more than sand.

I will be heading to the United Kingdom, Germany/Denmark, Australia, Aruba, and the Big Island/Florida very soon. I would also like to see Switzerland, Japan, China, Russia, and France before I turn 30. I have family in Germany, so Germany is coming up next.  My grandpa visited Germany once a year and could speak the language.

Hope this post helps someone, and I will continue to update.

Also, I am working on a blog re-design so it will be easier to navigate and so that posts can be delivered straight to your inbox.

Resilience: Beauty in Suffering

I was diagnosed with PTSD, and I haven’t mentioned it before because it wasn’t relevant until this post.  More kids are diagnosed with PTSD than soldiers, but soldiers suffer from it in its most extreme forms and also bring attention to the condition.

Some might say that is not being real if I don’t relay bad days or events, but for my personality, I try to keep it moving forward.  Everybody is different.  Some find it therapeutic to share more. I share what I can, especially if I think it can help.

The warmth and affection that I receive from the people I love and from everyone on social media is comforting.  I know loneliness well, and I think most humans do. I think that outside of religion, solid, consistent community is hard to come by.  Depression, self-absorption, or comparison can easily result, but no one picks these by choice.  If you are a lonely person, I hope you will have the courage to reach out continually, until you find people that encourage you to grow and believe in yourself.  Studying psychology has definitely helped, for me to understand others better and myself, and for me to find the people I can learn the best from.

Perhaps you are not lonely and you can find a college student or elderly person and bring them to dinner every once in a while.  I think that could make someone’s month.

If I can understand people, then I can love them.  Not everything we have to live out to gather, but most lessons we can pay a lower cost and read about.

The lessons that stick out to me from Christianity and perhaps the most moving part of the Bible’s thousand pages, was to forgive.  They don’t understand.  All of Jesus’ life was dedicated to the people resorting to violence on that day — religious leaders, his people, and two disciples.  So in this way, we are our own worst enemy; it’s not the Romans or the governments that come and go, but ourselves.

Maybe the greatest love in the world is to forgive others because they don’t understand and to seek understanding ourselves, to do our own part.  We act how we are, not based on others.  We can set the tone and refuse to be the victim, and have compassion for those who succumb to their trials.  I’d rather things rest on me, because I can change me.  Many things can affect our external state, but what’s inside is more resilient.

It is obvious the war of good and evil is inside.  The moment the battle becomes physical, it becomes antagonistic.  If I attack an ex or attack someone politically, then I have added to the chaos and pain in the world, even if my message were compassionate.  Methods speak too.  If I try to understand, if I show love in the way that you guys have shown love to me, then I can heal what has been broken.  What’s inside that is good doesn’t help if it can only manifest in pain.  We can turn our loss into art or stubbornness into fight for the underdog or for motivation — but we don’t fight against people.  The most important battles aren’t over ideas.  The most important battle is inside.

Fear Leads to Anger, Anger to Suffering:

A young boy saw his mother being punched after another of his father’s drunken nights. This son had it hard all of his life.  He couldn’t read well, and his parents disciplined him for this in unorthodox ways.  He and his youngest sister were constantly teased and picked on by their siblings.  For once though, this youngest son couldn’t take it. At 16, he did the most difficult thing he ever did:  He punched his father.

The abuse witnessed and discord in the home caused a decade or more of extreme hypervigilance and anxiety.  When the time came for this youngest son to have his own family, he asked people along his delivery route in the wealthiest neighborhoods to tell him their one regret they had on child raising, to be sure he could do as much as he could do the right way.  They advised, “I wish I had spent more time with them.  Now that they’re gone, I’ll never get that time back.  They rarely visit; they’re too busy for me now.”

My grandpa was genuinely the nicest man you could meet. I never knew him as a drunken man because by the time I was born, he was a laid-back and sweet man, well-loved by everyone.

My dad’s hyperawareness became a part of my personality, and I didn’t realize how much this affected me until much older.  I stayed inside and I expected the worst from people. Lines between what my parents valued and what I valued blurred together.  No one spent more time with their children than my dad.  Not putting in quality time was a mistake he would never make.

If I thought my dad didn’t try to do what was right for me, I could still love him.  But that is for each individual to decide, what they can forgive.

Over the years, in intense, literal interpretations of Proverbs, there was a lot of violence.  I said everything to make it go away; my more stubborn and aggressive younger siblings got the greater end of this, as they were more honest about their feelings.  There are many other court cases that cover this same ground, the same literal interpretation.

I think that what we dwell on, we can become.  If we dwell on abuse, which is why I generally choose not to discuss it, we can fixate on what was taken away.  This is why I don’t mind reading history once or twice, but most of it is aggressive, chaotic, and an example of what not to do.  So there is no point for me personally to dwell there.  People in the past were doing the best they could probably, and I give them the benefit of the doubt.

The people within the circles I was raised exacerbated my parent’s behavior; there was very little compassion. Platitudes don’t mean anything to the hurting or hungry, and pressing down on behavior without understanding what drives people to it does no one any favors.

Love is the weapon that breaks hearts, and also the antidote that puts them back together.  I have been loved in my 20s by the people like I was raised around and also  by the people that I was warned about.  People have always been trying.

Violence, Good Action > Good Intention:

My dad focused on his fear of losing us, and he became the hurt he was trying to defend us from.  This is a common theme, even in myself.  Gandhi remarked once, how can I hate the British for what is in all of us?  We all fight noble causes, in our mind, but somehow mostly it is outside of ourselves.

The man who wrote Proverbs, his son also became violent.  I Kings 12:11:  “My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.”  Solomon had violent proclivities as David did (Uriah and the hundreds that died that day, over Uriah’s wife).  Solomon also struggled with his father’s lust.  But patterns have to die with us. We cannot settle for a life of repetition, by accidentally taking habits into our adulthood.  Intentionality and mindfulness are essential.  We have to prove and vet all things.

Though Jesus saw all the problems within religion, he never stopped showing up and being patient, trying to soften the edges, dealing with the leaders. So if you are within religion, you can be the warmth, the voice of reason, encouraging good action over good intention.  You should not get out if you feel called to what you are called to, because that’s where you are passionate.  Whatever is good, think on those things.  You too can direct the topics of conversation from gossip or politics, to what makes people whole, in or out of religion.

Things are objectively bad and good.  What is objectively bad is for all of us to press down on others, in the way that Westboro has done and said: “If I don’t tell them the truth, then I do not love them.” Confronting others is never interpreted as love, and I have to continually learn that myself.  Being aggressive, even passively, to manipulate behavior is what we would not want done toward us.  We’re all trying. We all want understanding, not implied consequences.

Methods override message, because actions override word.

Softer, More Beautiful:

What I hope to accomplish by writing this is to ask you to love your children more, to physically hold them because it means a lot for children to feel safe and warm.  To compliment, not to only convey information as many Thinkers may – but to use compliments to convey love and attention often.

To break a mind or a spirit, that is such a tragic thing, and to avoid this, we have to be free from fear. We have to encourage those in our families to grow into themselves, not into what would best serve our personality.

Inspire and encourage.  Channel your own hurt in the past to be better for your children by breaking habits, having compassion for the underdog, or producing art or other content; turn suffering into something beautiful. Mercy for others allows us to be merciful to ourselves.  How can we encourage honesty in society if we reproach what comes out, instead of try to understand it?

My dad is the biggest part of who I am today, for good and bad.  I want peace for what he had to experience in his childhood.  We’re all a work in progress, and everyone knows this.  So for all those that encourage and share their feelings regularly, maybe your house isn’t as organized as you had wanted or maybe you don’t look the way you want today.  But you matter the most in a world that is broken, reminding us that there is beauty and depth, healing what has been broken and restoring what has been lost.

 

One Life

I think what is it that a man can want in this life?  What are the core desires? An enjoyable home, a lover, health.  Perhaps travel, a legacy, children, or retirement.  There’s not much else, from person to person.

For some reason, few people have a grasp on just the five things that they truly want.  I focus a lot on love, home, and health, trying to dissect the parts and figure where we fail.  The subject of love is at the root of our relations to children as well.  Then love is the original value.

Most of our life is made up of social, self-preserving, and sexual concerns.  We are strongest at one of these more than all the others, and the others usually suffer for our primary strength.

I’m not satisfied with being imbalanced or inept at a core component.  I want to share what I’m working on or what has worked for me.

SOCIAL REALM:

For introverts, a robust online life can be like a morphine drip.  Great interactions, conversations, friends on boards of interest, is somewhat of an illusion.  Getting to know someone online takes a great deal of effort.  Also, nothing beats fresh air and doing something with, rather than conversation.  Relationships in real-life are three-dimensional, interactive.

You may roll your eyes at this point if you are a social person, but your strength is not other’s.  These things have to be emphasized and sold, for those who look down on socializing as a waste of time.  We hate small talk, we hate trends — but socializing gives balance.  Not everything is about what we like.  It helps society for us to concern ourselves with what matters to others to at least some degree.  There is great joy and efficiency in a social life:  Experiences that round us out, joy that lights up our dullest days, and efficiency in developing relationships and a sense of style.

Social standard: Leaving the house to socialize.  Travel at least once a year. Dress nicely.  Navigate the topics of religion, politics, and trends without condescension or disruption – being a part of the whole, and making an effort.  Balance tact with truth, instead of clinging to serving everything straight.

SELF-PRESERVING REALM:

This is our domain.  Saving money, purging, cooking and cleaning.  However, it is easy to go overboard in this realm, in overpurging, overcouponing, or eating too much/dieting all the time.  Everyone knows someone who is counting every penny or is perpetually dieting.  They will say it is because they have to, but is it really, or have we made self-preserving our whole life, our saving and calculating a virtue, instead of as a means to a more meaningful life. 

For me, bare minimal self-preserving is keeping the home clean: Focusing on the kitchen and bathroom every once in a while.  The rest is easy enough with floating minimalism, lint-free towels, and a cordless vacuum.  The second is to make sure I’m eating well for my body type – to figure it out and abide to some degree.  The third is to make sure I get enough sleep no matter what, even if I have to rely on melatonin.  

Self-preserving standard:  Clean home, hygiene, food, enough sleep, and adequate focus on career.  Nothing overboard or underboard.  Budgeting could be another category.

SEXUAL REALM:

The last realm has to do with our closest friendships, our lover, and ourselves.  This is not the same as the social realm because these are the closest ones to us, not acquaintances.

Speaking for introverts, I don’t think there’s much space to have more than five close friends.  So be choosy.  You have heard me wax about forgiveness and understanding and withholding judgment – and I stand by these.  However, when you’re dealing with what you allow to affect you constantly, you have to carefully curate what enters your home.  Unhealthy people and mindsets should be kept with some distance.  You only have five slots or so, so socialize until you can fill those slots with five quality people.

The people I choose are people that are ideally kind and intelligent, as that encourages me where I want to go. So if you have a parent or friend who is filling a spot as one of your top most-called people and they have not cared much for you or themselves, ask yourself why.  Is it because you lack a social life or they’re the closest in proximity?  It doesn’t mean to not help others, but it means to respect yourself.  The more stressed you are, the less you can offer to others in the social realm and your career/family in the self-preserving realm.

The next is to do with love.  Be selective. Vulnerability is a must, and if you can’t feel that way with a lover because you fear them using it against you or thinking less of you, then ask yourself why you don’t value who you are.  An intelligent person should see through to you, and value you for who you are and where you’re headed.  What area of your life have you neglected – your mind, your social life, your appearance – that makes you feel invaluable?  For court reporters, some firms cannot afford the price we have to charge to value the amount of effort we’ve put into our skill.  When this happens, we don’t lower our prices.  We let them walk away because to be a professional is to know your value.

The final is to love yourself.  Why do you overthink some things?  What patterns are you repeating? Recognize behavior, especially daily behavior, and if you’re heading where you want to be going.  Most of what we do every day has little to do with what we want, not toward us being more kind, relaxed, or valuable.  So then why do we do it?   

I accept others for who they are.  Greed or cruelty doesn’t make me think less of a person.  I just know what is not for me.  It has nothing to do with the other person.  They have a right to be the way the are and prioritize whatever they do, and you have a right to not encourage or enjoy that.

Sexual standard:  Balance being yourself with making the closest people feel loved and safe.  Understand their personality as well as you can, as there are only five or so people here, to help and please and to be patient in signs of stress.

Put whatever you want to offer the closest people in your life, and live by it.

In this way of making sure we are doing the bare minimal for a balanced life, we can’t help but end up where we should be.  Change your daily routine, then balance comes.

Most action in life is haphazard.  Intelligent action, as minimalists, is our goal because efficiency is more important than productivity.  So lay it out today, and let us elevate to our ideals.

Honesty

People have opinions on many things, especially on eco-friendliness, politics, religion, diet, parenting, and mating.  We have a social and homebody self, and it’s a shame to me that people are afraid of who they are.  Whatever is normal is familiar, and so it is esteemed the most because we all want to feel like we’re coming home, even if what is normal is not healthy.  We were taught love and virtue by many things and people, but rarely did these definitions come from us. Any opinion that is not normal, we will either hide that opinion, attempt to deliver it with tact, or suffer implied consequences.

I don’t think there is a person who doesn’t have some odd opinion for the society or company in which they find themselves.  Therefore, I think that if honesty is a virtue, then compassion should be esteemed highly.  Mindfulness and minimalism go together well, and so do lovingkindness and honesty.

I find it hard to put myself in the shoes of many people, but the virtue would be in the trying.  Understanding is hard.  Loving people the way they are is not encouraging others to do wrong, but encouraging them to be honest and to feel safe.  Healthy minds would make the best choices.

Gossip, judgment, and condescension are mainstays in society.  But is this the world we want to find ourselves?  We can’t tell a motive or a heart very easily.  People feel afraid — provoked or overly cautious — in speech.

So if a citizen or lover has a hurtful opinion, I want to know it.  My job is to work on letting the truth not affect me in any way that won’t encourage it.

So maybe some things I cannot live with or handle in love, and it is up to me to be vulnerable enough to pour out my fears on the reasons why, even if the vulnerability isn’t received with the same level of compassion.

In an ideal world, being ourselves would be the pleasing — and in a lot of ways it is.  But certain behavior plays on our own fears, our own shortcomings.  There is no perfect human.  To love is to understand fear and to allay it, not just to please by being.

Understanding and vulnerability are my only two roles.  I want to give people the benefit of the doubt.

No friend is independent of each other completely. That’s the beauty of life:  We change the world by changing ourselves.  The best chance we have at being a positive influence is through accepting people as they are, with no expectation.  People can only change so much, so fast, ourselves included.

How can we love others when we can’t love ourselves?  So then what we do at work and how we see ourselves — day to day the majority of us don’t live by our ideals.  We putter around the house and we try to survive —  this comes to be who we are.  When we look in the mirror, do we like what we see?  Are we happy or always looking forward to another day, a better version of ourself?  If we can see past our eyes, to our soul and our motivations, then we can be honest, and not just opinionated.  We move ground when we move ourselves.

Value: Decision-Making

Decisiveness and assertiveness go hand-in-hand. I have not seen a person with just one.  Businesses prize and pay well for both.  Being decisive cuts down time and adds to efficiency and confidence, and confidence is needed for every facet of life.  Skill can only do so much, as what we know only accounts for a part of our happiness and successes in life.  Confidence is a great asset for the rest.

There are two ways to get better at making decisions.

Eliminate.

No matter what way you look at it, decision-making is tedious and takes precious energy.  Eliminate possessions, cleaners, errands, and chores as much as possible.  Especially focus on the small, regular things during elimination.  Being mindful will lead to efficiency and a harmony while getting ready or tidying a house. Necessary activities will remain familiar.  Unfamiliarity leads to a lack of productivity because anything unfamiliar or complex takes the most energy.

Practice.

In court reporting school, we trained our fingers to sustain 3-4 strokes a second accurately.  There were big dreams that hinged on our ability to force our strokes from choppy hesitancy to fluid competency.  It seems impossible to learn a language and speak it fluently in as little as a year, but perhaps we don’t give our brain enough credit.  I pushed myself sometimes to the verge of tears, and there were many things sacrificed for dreams.   Holidays and health, there was almost no price that I would not pay, to be able to practice. Some weeks, there was no progress to show for the intensity.  Some days, I could see a step back.  But I knew that with consistency and attention, the desired result would come around for me.  Intensity in practice will lead you to where you want to go.  Where you think you are pushing yourself hard enough, you will find that the mind can still go on, where the body gives out.   This is not to say to kill yourself to make a quick decision, but that pushing yourself on tasks you’d like to improve eventually leads to effortlessness.

Intuition.

When deciding on what to buy big and small, who to hang out with, where your passion lies, trust intuition more.  We overthink too much.  We calculate, as if everything can be quantified in dollars or joy.  Value goes beyond obvious price.  We can’t calculate accurately, no matter how sharp our minds are, as there are too many arenas to consider: effort, compatibility, price, quality.  So then be pragmatic and trust intuition more:  These thoughts and feelings, all your experiences up to now, can produce a quick and favorable result.  Good enough is more than what we call it; where energy and time is saved, good enough can elevate to the best decision, even after extensive consideration.  For the 10% more in possible improvement in a chore, maybe we exert an expensive 30% extra in effort and time.  To settle for the 90% good enough then is not settling, but it is being smart, finding balance.  We have to trust ourselves and others more.

The next time you shop or declutter, take those moments as the opportunities they are: to sharpen the ability and speed with which to identify importance.  Being in touch with feelings (values) and intuition makes the world we all love.

Though the business world primarily rewards analysis, feelings give us a world to work for.  Feelings sustain relationships, health, and make us come alive.

Feelings, thought, and experience combine to give us intuition, which if we are attentive to, can act instantaneously and accurately, appearing almost magical.  Intuition is simply a heightened awareness of everything we’ve gathered up to this point and and a habitual consideration of the future in decision-making.  Intuition is forward-thinking and valuable, so it is something worth the effort to trust and to find.

 

Minimalism and Organization: An Oxymoron?

Some say that if you minimize enough, then organization is not necessary.  I think that organization products become less necessary, but that organization makes sense for all that value efficiency.  Organization is really layout, where to place things.

Though not all personalities value efficiency, efficiency can help all.  How efficient you want or require depends on you.

I often think about how to efficiently organize.  Over the years, I’ve decided that it is indeed more efficient in almost all cases to make things easier to put back than to take out (because the putting back is the part we slack off on more than the taking out).  If we downsize enough, nothing should be too hard to get out anyway.  With a lot of bakeware or pens, for instance, finding or pulling something out can be cumbersome.  So that brought me to my first rule of organization:

1. Downsize, so that things are easy to pull out and so that you need few organizers.

 

Beyond that, keeping things all together in one area makes cleaning very simple because you can pile things in your hand and head to one area to disperse.  If storage locations are spread out, putting things away and taking things out is cumbersome.

2. Keep things in one area, whenever possible.  Putting things away easily is the goal.  Two to three drawers per room is the ideal.

 

Keeping things in one area is easier if you’re a minimalist, because one drawer can hold a lot greater percentage of your possessions.

I have followed these two rules for the past few years, and I question, especially where the kitchen is concerned, where I can improve.  Minimalism for me serves efficiency because I’m an INTJ:  So function above all else. Eco-friendliness has to serve efficiency, which in many cases, it does.

Minimizing more, especially where furniture is concerned, helps to minimize cleaning time and allows you to fit eventually more comfortably in a smaller space.  Minimizing more where oddball thing are concerned — papers, light bulbs, batteries, stamps, gift wrap, art supplies — allows us to fit everything in 2-3 drawers, instead of seven.

3. Minimize furniture and rarely used items.

 

Recently, I’ve stopped using stamps and letters.  I mailed out one or two letters this year, out of necessity.   Though we may not be able to cut some things out altogether, where we can cut back on using materials should always be considered. I also stopped gift wrapping.  This is not practical for more social families or for families with children, but I’d rather buy bags for items or, if they’re for an adult, just give items straight.   Buying bags is more expensive to do, but it eliminates a good portion of my oddball drawer — a portion that I was reaching for only three times a year — so it made sense for me and my priorities.

I am on the lookout for new ways to be more efficient or on the lookout for quality because I enjoy this, but minimalism does not have to be this way for you.  In the same way of credit cards, we are to use minimalism, but if we become indebted or go too far with it, we can begin to serve it.

Finding balance and being mindful are tied to minimalism very closely, and there is a balance to our possessions.  Only you know the personalities that live in your house and what balance and joy is.  Use this inside information to craft the life of your dreams.

Easy Eco

There are many reasons to go eco-friendly.

Here my favorites:

1. Reduces costs long-term

2. Reduces shopping trips

3. Reduces putting away items when coming back from the store

4. Makes shopping trips efficient

5. Reduces waste from boxes through disposables coming through the mail

6. Reduces having to write disposables on a list every time they run out

7. Saves the planet

Truly, getting disposables down is one of the biggest things you can do, other than streamlining food, for maximum efficiency and effortless living.

Disposables Remaining:

toilet paper 
Note: I love mega rolls!  Less cardboard waste, less time spent stacking rolls and less changing out.
paper towels 
Q-tips
Note: I always stick with name brand for cotton swabs.
light bulbs – Target
Note: I never buy LED because LED is less restful to the eyes.
organic pads
pink earplugs (for small ears)
tan earplugs (for normal ears)
Note: I use the pink earplugs.
————————————–

Eco-friendly Items:

reusable paper towels
reusable cotton rounds (Etsy)
Note: They discolor.

glass straws
Note: Recommended to rinse straw out after drinking smoothies.
water pitcher (small, the one I use)
water pitcher (family)
Amazon mini snack bags (that don’t leak)
Blue Avocado reusable clear bags

Envirosax reusable blue shopping bags
Planet Wise makeup bags 
titanium spork

Amazon battery charger
Amazon AA eight batteries
Amazon AAA four batteries
AA to C adapters (for Luminara candles)
AA to D adapters
Note: I don’t own any D batteries.

Anything You Can Imagine

Anything we can imagine, that is a worthy dream, we should try to build it from the ground up.  Press your imagination on especially the small things.  I know what it’s like to come from nothing.  On welfare from the day I was born, living off food banks, and never a vacation until 23, I know what it’s like to struggle.  I see it in the homeless – people with dreams and felonies and mental illness – utilizing all they can to survive, especially in the winter.  It is part of the reason I put off having children, to live with a little breathing room.  I have found happiness in plenty and in lack, I have found emptiness in scarcity and self-indulgence.  Life is what you make it, what we focus on.  Don’t underestimate yourself.  If I have to make decisions, I will make them using intuition, imagination, and objectivity.  Advice is welcomed, but we have to prove out all advice, that it fits with us.  The proving comes before the believing.

We elevate our thoughts when we think beyond all that has been written by authors before us.  Tap into intuition – your greatest gift – because no author and no speaker knows you better than you.  You live with yourself every day.  The ideas for how you can make each motion more efficient can become apparent with imagination and mindfulness.  Our mission in life is to find what is true for us.

Small Improvements Are Life:

I remember the feeling of getting down to two pencils in college — granted, no kids are walking off with my pencils.  Ever since that day, I’ve had the same two pencils.  It’s hard to lose even the small things with few things.  I’m not an extreme minimalist, but even a moderate minimalist can clean a house in 30 minutes or less, no matter the kitchen mess.

Downsizing kitchenware was the most rewarding.  It’s great because you can keep your pots and pans in one area, your utensils in one other area.  If you are putting things away or preparing for a meal, only 3-4 cabinets/drawers ever need to be opened.  Putting my meal napkins next to my utensils was my most recent improvement, and perhaps I will find a way to keep the plates nearby my place mats as well, for ultimate efficiency.  I’m sure we’ll find more ways together.

Getting furniture down to the basics and elevating as much as possible made cleaning so much easier.  Armed with only one cleaner, even dreamy intuitive me could keep up with the weekly tasks.

Perhaps the biggest benefits of buying less are having to put almost nothing away after shopping, no more returns, and no more regular donations.  Most things now can be purchased online, and even more will be added to Amazon in the next 10 years.  Getting groceries delivered to our door is not that far off.  Great efficiency through the use of drones is on its way.  Perhaps wages will continue to stall because of this, but we will get by, because we are minimalists and we have overcome everything that has come our way.  Whatever needs to be done, we will rise to the occasion as it comes, as our ancestors did before us.  Minimalism builds optimism, courage, and resourcefulness.  We will make it.

Letting Go:

Here are some other things I’ve learned to let go of over the years, in keeping with the minimalist mindset.  The physical realm is very small compared to the mental state and energy/errands saved:
1. Selling so many things.  I stopped trying to recover money from anything that can’t sell for $50.  Your limit can be $20, but at least set a limit.  Don’t try to sell everything, unless you are passionate about selling things online.  Follow passion, where you will shine.

2. Signing up for cards for money, whether at a store or from a major credit card company.  One card, 2% cashback.  You can add a few more cards if you need for business or if you travel enough to justify the 5% gas or air rewards, but it is a nice load off not to have to keep track of rotating categories.

3. Using checks to pay for taxes.  I’ve used two checks this past year — a great savings in stamps, letters, and checks themselves. You can pay quarterlies online and make money back using your 2% card.  The 1.89% fee is a write-off, and you can make .10% cashback on thousands of tax dollars.

4.  Using physical coupons.  I only use emailed ones, because they take up no space and require minimal energy.  I am particular on what I purchase and do not want to be dissuaded or strategic.

5. Trying to take advantage of sales, going to multiple stores or buying sizes or quantities larger than I would normally.  Not having to keep track of sales is nice, and because I’m a minimalist, I don’t lose money for this.

I do not spend more than the average family, no matter clothes or vacations, and this is because I put my money where it matters for me.  So long as we buy quality and put money in our retirement, at the end of the day, all is better than well.

 

Love is Essence

You are told in life that love is actions, not words.  Love is more than actions.  There are many unhappy wealthy housewives that do not feel love at all, though there are enough actions to justify their spouse’s love, and vice-versa.

Words can be manipulated, and we see politicians do this all the time.  Actions can be postured, as we see with companies that have poor practices: They will donate to a green cause or donate to the community for PR.

But love is not formulaic, and there are no excuses for not being able to feel love.  Love is an essence.

Online, when someone says, “I do not hate ____, but I need to say this,”  the words that they are about to line up cannot say more than their tone.  Their essence tells the group or person they are discussing what they need to know.  The essence is all intuitives want to see.  It is the soul of a person.

We cannot know intentions; we don’t understand most actions.  But we can feel the energy of a person, their personality and what is true to them.  For Peter, in the Bible, he resorted to violence after years of listening to a peacemaker, and he did this for a good cause.  He had every right to be angry and to defend, but good intentions are not good enough.  Actions and spirit matter far more.  We can still give people the benefit of the doubt, that they had good intent — this is all I can do — but what we need more from ourselves and those closet to us is a loving essence.

Love is not just a feeling, of course, but when the essence is right, actions line up naturally.

Love is something that you feel on the dark days, on days where you disappoint yourself.  Love takes many forms: a warm touch, a sacrifice, a personalized surprise.  It warms the heart, protects, and lights up children’s eyes. In the presence of a loving essence, truth and health make sense because there is no fear.  There is no condition.  Even in silence, true love can be felt, and it makes up for shortcomings and comforts during the setbacks that are a part of life.

Be the loving essence that makes people feel like they’ve come home.  Like water, flow to the lowest points and restore.