Well, hello there! It’s been 5 months since I last wrote or created anything. It’s been so long that I truly forgot my login details to even gain access to my blog again. That alone can tell you how much of a break I truly took from anything regarding LoDownLiving. But, today I woke up with a feeling I hadn’t felt in a long time. Today I woke up wanting to write again, wanting to create again, wanting to put something out into the world again. It’s a feeling I had been longing for over these last few months & I wasn’t sure it would come back.
I recently had a birthday and turned 31. I have no idea why 31 sounds so much older than 30 but, it does. And last year had a lot of ups and downs - it was definitely a year of change & growth. It was preparing me for whatever is coming my way in the future.
But I wanted to go into this next year with a vision & an intention. I wanted to really have an idea of how I wanted to feel this next year and what types of things I wanted to bring into my life.
When this happens, I turn to creating a vision board. A vision board is a place where you can get creative and put your ideas, dreams, goals, wishes & wants in one place. Then, you place your vision board somewhere that you'll see often so that you're continuously reminded of what you're wanting in life.
What do you think of when you hear the word minimalism? You probably think stark white walls, neutral colors of black, white, gray & nude throughout a home and minimal belongings strewn about.
Just a heads up, that’s not my life. Yet, I’m embracing minimalism completely. Living in a minimalistic way has made so many positive changes in my life physically, mentally and emotionally. And real talk? I’m never going back to my old ways.
Let me tell you how I got to where I was before I decided on minimalism.
The farthest memory I can remember that I had an abundance of things was when I first went off to college. There is nothing like a move to make you open up your eyes and look at all your belongings. It was box after box, trash bag after trash bag, trinket after trinket being stuffed into a super tiny dorm room.
I needed to have all of the coolest things and deck my dorm room out every year, multi-colored lights, mini fridges, microwaves galore and all. But it didn’t just stop when I graduated college.
Once I graduated I stayed in my college town, (Kent State Flashes FOR LIFE!) and got an apartment with my S.O. And so now, it wasn’t just my stuff I was fitting into a small apartment, it was also my partners.
You could barely walk without stepping on something, open a cabinet without a plastic container decking you in the face, or open a closet without something flying at you. There was stuff everywhere. And I felt smothered and claustrophobic too. Something about having that much stuff just made me feel like the walls were closing in. But, I was still young and the world says that you need things to feel good and to show others you’ve got your sh*t together.
Fast-forward 2 years & a break up later, my best friend had just bought a house and asked me to move in with her. Yet again, another move under my belt. This time I filled the room with things I thought I wanted. All the colors, pillows, electronics, pictures, rugs, candles & more.
It wasn’t until I decided to sell all of my stuff & move to New York city did I realize how much of those things didn’t matter. This was a time in my life where I was trying to find myself. I wanted to really learn who I was; stop being scared & do something liberating. Moving to New York City will definitely do that for you.
My room in NYC was so small that it didn’t have a closet. My mattress almost touched 3 walls and I had just enough room for my bed, my laundry hamper, a dresser and a mirror. Everything else was under my lofted bed. When I finally left NYC and moved in with my then boyfriend (yep, another move), I had nothing to really take with me. I sold my mattress, bed frame & dresser. Gave away books I never read for free and packed all of my clothes into two suitcases and a few duffle bags. I was coming back home to so much but with a lot less.
It wasn’t until I got my own apartment did I make the decision to do things differently. At this time, I had gone through a period of depression and had moments of anxiety. My mind was constantly running, I was indecisive about things that should’ve been easily decided and I was more unsure than ever of who I was.
What do I like to do?
What do I like to where?
How do I want to dress my space?
How do I want people to feel when they enter my home?
These were questions I didn’t have the answers to. But what I did know was that who I’d been wasn’t who I wanted to be. I didn’t want to be depressed, anxious, unsure of myself and unhappy on my path. I didn’t want to hide who I truly wanted to be with things that I never used or clothes that I never wore. I wanted to enjoy myself each and every day and stop wasting time on trying to make the best decision that everyone around me agrees with.
It was too much. And so I made a conscious decision to strip it all away.
Where I Am Today
I wanted a life that was simple yet, full of all the things I truly loved. And that meant chipping away at all the things I was holding on to for fear of what it meant if I let it go. Letting these things or people go meant I no longer had something to hide behind. It meant that all that was left was putting the puzzle pieces back together of who I truly was and stand in that boldly.
So I started with my closet and sold or donated everything that I hadn’t worn in the last 6 months. Everything else I tried on & asked myself if I truly felt beautiful in that piece. If it wasn’t a solid yes, then it was a no and was sold or donated. Since then, I’ve only added pieces that I love, can be worn for at least a few years no matter the trends that come and go and currently match an item I already have in my closet.
Next, I was completely intentional about the pieces throughout my home. I bought a bed frame and a mattress that I adore. My couch was a hand-me-down from my sister but it fit my décor perfectly and I really liked it. And my TV stand works great with the other pieces in my apartment and fits great in the space. Everything has a purpose, is functional and gets used frequently.
And lastly, my favorite space in the house, the kitchen. I only keep on hand what I need. I don’t have a lazy Susan full of spices that I never use or a cabinet full of non-perishables sitting and waiting for the perfect recipe. I want to know that I have what I need and nothing more. Sure, I keep a can of coconut milk stocked in the pantry but that’s because I know it will get used. But I don’t buy that spice or ingredient just because it’s on sale and I may need it someday down the road.
Thinking Of Going Minimalist?
If you’re thinking of going minimalist I just want you to consider a few things before throwing out all your clothes, moving into a smaller space & cutting ties with relationships.
Minimalism for me isn't a trend or something cool to try on. It's a mindset and lifestyle that has lifted a weight off my shoulder and mind that I've been carrying for too long. With less "things" I now have a clearer perspective on what certain items mean to me. I also have a clean slate to start finally crafting the type of life I've always wanted. Minimalism has given me the mental freedom so that I no longer spend hours on deciding what to wear and rather more time living in the moment. Minimalism has shown me that what matters is the conversations, relationships, feelings and moments - not the act of buying things out of feeling like that's what I "should do."
Before taking the next step, think of places in your life where you need a bit more space and clarity. Where are you spending a lot of your mental energy? What in your life can be made simpler? What does an abundant life look like to you?
And from these answers, begin chipping away at the pieces and parts of your life that create a roadblock to the type of life you want and the person you want to be.
Over to you! Is minimalism the right fit for your life? Let me know in the comment section below.
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We only have a few weeks left in 2017. It’s usually right around this time of year that people reflect back on the things they wished they had accomplished and begin creating resolutions for next year. I’m sure you can relate, in the past, at least one of my resolutions was around losing weight or being healthier. I’m not sure where the tradition began that at the beginning of the year we need to refocus on our health above all. While it doesn’t usually happen this way, me included, I’d think our health and well-being would be a focus of ours all year long.
And, according to social media, blogs & more, we’re super obsessed with “wellness” and being healthy. So why do we run around like chickens with our heads cut off scrambling to get a gym membership & begin the latest diet? Honestly, I’m asking myself the same question because I’ve done that in the past too. And truth be told, there is only one time that something I did in the new year stuck with me all year long, and that's when I did the Whole30 to help me with my Candida.
Now, I didn’t stay completely Whole30 compliant all year long. But, I took what I learned with me even to this day and I’m so much more conscious about what I buy at the store and when I’m out to breakfast/lunch/dinner. Whether you try the Whole30 or not, if you’re looking for a resolution or goal to start in 2018 (btw you can start now, you don’t have to wait until the ball drops) I hope you choose something that you can take with you for the long haul.
That’s why I’ve created 50 resolutions or goals to make that have nothing to do with dieting or losing weight. I believe our health and well-being should be a priority every day and, for the record, I’m not just talking about our bodies either. Feeling great is all-encompassing and truth be told, when we feel great mentally it usually translates into feeling better in our own skin too. I get it though, it’s a daily practice and the process evolves over time.
But while you’re counting down to midnight on New Year’s Eve, contemplate a few of these ideas below and take them into the new year with you.
1. Put your phone down more
This has consistently been a goal of mine every day. I'm never too far away from my phone and never mind if it annoys you because it annoys the hell out of me. So yes, phone down, head up. Which leads me to my next point...
2. Try a digital detox
3. See a financial advisor about your debt &/or retirement
4. Practice more yoga
5. Try a meditation challenge
6. Start a blog
7. Learn a new language
8. Join a MeetUp group
9. Actually call a friend once a week
Isn't it strange that it's now uncomfortable to talk to someone on the phone? I remember days when my mom would yell up the stairs "Laura get off the phone and go to bed!" and I'd be like "mhm, okay!" and keep yapping away for hours. Texting is fine but a phone call here & there would really be special.
10. Say ‘no’ to one commitment a week
11. Say ‘yes’ to one commitment a week
12. Get outdoors by hiking, rollerblading, throwing snowballs, making snow angels, etc.
13. Join a roller derby team
14. Turn your TV off by 8 pm
I'm notorious for laying in bed & watching Netflix until I fall asleep. Lately, I've been bringing a book to bed with me. This not only helps me read more but for reason reading always makes me sleepy. So, it's always great for those nights when my mind is running a bit too fast right before bedtime.
15. Put your phone in a separate room at night
16. Turn on ‘Do Not Disturb’ at 7 pm each night
17. Pick up journaling
I've been journaling 3-4 times a week lately and it's been really great. While I am an advocate for therapy (see #18), journaling is a great stress reliever for those times in between sessions when you can't talk to your therapist.
18. Go to therapy
19. Tell your friends to set you up on a date
20. Go on a date
21. Begin a book club
22. Begin a dinner club
23. Go on a retreat
24. Book a quick trip last minute
25. Go on a weekend road trip 3 times in a year
26. Book the big international ticket
27. Pay off your credit card each month
Credit cards give me anxiety. I have one but I literally never use it. One time I got too deep into credit card debt and it weighed on me really heavily. Now, if I use it, it's to build up the points and savings for either a plane ticket or something else. But I always, always, always make sure I already have the money in my account so that I can pay it off asap.
28. Marie Kondo your home & get rid of what you no longer need
29. Donate your clothes
30. Try ThredUp and get extra cash for your clothes
31. Start a Poshmark account for extra cash
I once sold a pair of Hunter boots on Poshmark for $50! It also helps to send your buyer a little thank you note for their purchase.
32. Cook your way through a cookbook
33. Propose a new idea or project at work and ask to be the lead
34. Start a podcast or YouTube channel
35. Reach out to an admired friend and give them gratitude
36. Say ‘no’ to one workout a week
37. Cancel all plans one weekend a month
I've had the luxury of doing this once in November and once in December. IT WAS AMAZING. I beg you to do this for your sanity. It's a glorious thing to only do what YOU want to do for one weekend a month.
38. Listen to new podcasts
39. Start a savings account
40. Increase your 401k contribution
I don't know much about 401k's or finance altogether, really. But I know that when I'm 50 I'll had wished I looked into it more. If nothing else, go to your HR Manager and let them know you want to increase your contribution. It's a great starting point.
41. Become an instructor (fitness or hobby)
42. Volunteer around town
43. Apply for a local TED talk
44. Read 1-2 books a month
50. Unfollow people online that create negative thoughts & feelings
I recently unfollowed a lot of people on social media. With all the new algorithms, I was barely seeing anyone's posts anyways. To my point in #1, if my phone is my hand I want it to create inspiration, positivity, a few laughs & a smile. So I'm intentional about the 'Follow' button.
The list could go on and on. The world is full of things you can do that will create abundance and fulfillment outside of changing the way your body looks, depriving yourself of foods your body actually wants & over-exercising for feeling like you must burn it off. Whether you have body focused goals isn’t the question here. It’s more so if that’s the ONLY thing you want to focus on in 2018? I sure don’t. I’m hoping that my body, the way it is right now, will get me through a handful of the listed items above. If it happens to become bigger or smaller for some reason, my biggest want is that I’m still capable of booking the big international ticket, to join a roller derby team and increase my 401k contribution.