Honest Pictures

Honest Pictures – Intro

While in the midst of my minimalist wardrobe challenge, I started following some capsule wardrobe people on Instagram. They all had it so together. If only I could just take their wardrobe and have it in my size everything would be perfect. Their lives are so perfect Perfect pieces, classy, well chosen outfits and they all went together. I think we all have those thoughts while scrolling through our social media feed. We show the best version of ourselves to people online. No one wants to read about how we feel sad for no reason sometimes or how we are unsure about our careers or our relationships. When we do have these feelings we tell the people closest to us, but we never put it on social media blast – well most of us anyway.

One of the minimalist people I was following had a post one day with a hashtag called #socialmediaisruiningyourlife. It was fascinating. They took an amazing picture of them out in the English countryside. Their outfit on point, hair perfect, scenery beautiful – you know the kind of picture I’m talking about, the one that makes you see green. The caption threw me off though. Check out the tags for yourself. If you go back a bit through the feed of the summer/fall with this hashtag, it’s actually to promote a book. One I’ll be reading with this challenge called, “Why Social Media is Ruining Your Life” by Catherine Ormerod. People were taking old posts and photos of themselves and giving people the honest version of what was actually going on in their lives at the time. Brilliant.

I’ve tried to start doing the same with my Youtube Throwbacks on this site. So for January I’ve be posting old photos every week with my original caption and letting you all in to how my social media presence isn’t 100% reflective of what is/was actually going on in my life. We show our best versions of ourselves to people and I think it’s important that everyone recognizes that.

For instance, if you looked through my Instagram feed, you’d think when I moved to Portland in 2013 I was living my best life. I was actually recently fired from the job I moved here for and depressed. You’d think that when I was showing off my fancy new office at my first real career job in 2015 that I was loving it. I hated that job. You’d think my trip to Europe in February was amazing and perfect. We had a great time, but it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I’ll throw up some old college photos too. My social presence was living my best life in a new big city having all the fun. The truth was I was depressed again, and developing an eating disorder. You saw what I wanted you to see. Happy, happy, happy. Honestly, I am. I was most of the time even through all of my 20s when social media really started ramping up in everyone’s lives. But I never showed my bad days. My really awful days. And they happened. So I think I’ll go back in time and be honest with you about some things. I hope it will at least help someone somewhere feel like maybe what they are consuming online isn’t always the 100% truth. I’ll also give you some tidbits on Ormerod’s book and insight on her thoughts on the subject.

Since this a January challenge too, I’d be in the minority to not throw in some fitness goals as well. So in the spirit of being honest this month….I’m pretty happy with my appearance and body, but I was lying on the floor yesterday and tried to push myself up and found it more difficult than it should have been. Then I had the most startling thought: Can I still do a push up? So I tried and the sad honest answer is no. No I can’t.

Sitting at a desk all day at work and being gym adverse has finally caught up to me. So the challenge will be to do some knee push ups every day with a push up app I got, and work my way into completing 20 push ups with no knees by the end of the month. I have no idea if that’s realistic enough or a good enough time frame, but I thought we could just see how I do and I can update you on my sad weekly progress. Man, I can’t believe I can’t do a single push up. Let’s fix that.

Stay tuned for January’s challenge and thanks for reading!

Minimalist Wardrobe

Minimalist Wardrobe – Week Three and Four

There is a book I used to pour over when I was kid. I’m not sure who got it for me or how it came to be in my possession, but I actually still own it. I found it again while doing my Marie Kondo method on all my books. Surprisingly it still sparked joy so I kept it. It’s called “Sally’s Room” by M.K Brown. My only guess is my Dad bought it for me as a joke as a child…or in the hopes it might bring inspiration. If it was the latter, it worked.

The books is about a girl named Sally who never cleaned her room. Her room hated it so much they finally decided to do something about it. They marched out of her room, down the street and straight into Sally’s school. Sally’s teacher asks who the room belongs to and defiantly Sally stands up and says it’s hers. And she likes it that way. Eventually she goes home to an empty room and realizes how much room there is in there without all her stuff. When the room barges back in, Sally realizes she has to finally face the facts and clean.

I used to take this book out every time I had to clean my room and follow Sally’s cleaning and organizing method. She puts all her games away, finds her favorite sweater, folds her clothes, makes her bed, etc. In the end she finds that it’s a room where anything can happen.

I pulled the book back out and felt like I’d been through Sally’s journey so many times in my life, but it finally feels like it’s going to stick.

I kind of always knew this about me, but I really love throwing things away. I love cleaning and organizing. Even with all this going for me I found it hard to give up a lot of items this month in my minimalist wardrobe challenge. I don’t miss them now though! I had bought so many clothes I never wore before. It seemed wasteful to throw them out. But did they spark joy? No, they just made me feel bad that they didn’t fit or didn’t turn out to be part of my style as much as I wanted them to be.

I ended up finishing “The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life is Worth more Than Anything You Can Buy” By Cait Flanders. I don’t think I’ll be going through her exact path of only buying consumables for the year, but I did like her idea of only buying something when an older version of it is broke and needs to be replaced. She also inspired me to clean up my consumer debt. I don’t have a lot compared to the average American, but I have accumulated some from my wedding in October (photographers are expensive!). I’ve made a plan to set aside large chunks of my income each month to wipe out the debt by the end of May and before my zero interest runs out in August.

“One thing debt and clutter have in common is that as soon as you start letting it pile up, it can be harder and harder to see your way around it.”

Cait Flanders, The Year of Less

She also had a great idea of unfollowing all the stores, newsletters, etc. on social media accounts and unsubscribing from all of consumer emails. I started doing this and instead of 25 new emails in morning I’m getting about three. It’s a good start and I love not having the feeling of missing out when I get an email about picture frames on sale from Pier One with free shipping. I don’t need any more picture frames! And if I suddenly do, the Good Will has plenty of great options for $5 or less.

I have a plan for my wardrobe to become more capsule oriented and once I do my research and purchase the two items I’m really feeling I need to supplement in, then I think it will be complete. I’m really pleased with this journey and if you’re feeling like you want to declutter, organize and make getting dressing in the morning simple AF, let me know if I can help in any way! I am NOT an expert, but I’m feeling confident about the process.

Stay tuned for what my January challenge will be! Hint: It’s time to get honest.

Book Reviews

Top 5 Fiction and Non-Fiction Reads of 2018

Happy holidays to you all. I wanted to take a break from my minimalist wardrobe this week to talk about my favorite non-fiction and fiction reads of the year. I’ll wrap up my wardrobe challenge next week and give you all a sneak of what my January challenge will be. Have a wonderful holiday!

Top Five Fiction Books

Girl At War

I just finished this book last week so it’s still fresh in my mind. It was the only book I read that made me cry this year. An emotional roller coaster covering the Yugoslav Wars and a young girl’s experience during them. The main character loses her family and becomes a child solider, and eventually sent to America to adoptive parents. The book covers her incredible journey back to her homeland to see what became of her friends and family as she struggles to define what ‘home’ means.

Hate U Give

This was a popular book this year and I read it early on in the year. It had been on my list for all of 2017 and I never got around to reading it. I could kick myself for not reading it sooner. It pulled me in immediately and made me hold onto it long after I finished. I still haven’t seen the movie yet! It’s on my list though.

Outlander

I am so late to this party, but I am glad I’ve finally arrived. This book can be problematic at times, but I can see what the hype is. I tore through it in just a few weeks (even though it’s ginormous) and am currently starting the first season of the TV show and reading book two at the same time. I can’t get enough of Jamie and every time he says sassenach I literally squeal and kick my feet. I can’t wait to read the entire series.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

You didn’t think as a 11 year nerdfighter veteran that I’d leave out Hank Green’s book did you? I really enjoyed this read. It took me a bit to get into, but once it took off I was ripping through pages. Green leaves the story open for a sequel, which I will gladly rip through when it arrives.

Exit West

This book came at just the right time and it’s another one I’m late to the party of. It’s a fictitious version of a fictitious situation that feels all too real. Themes of refugees and migrants are at the forefront of this wonderful and engrossing read by Mohsin Hamid. I think it will stay an important book as we navigate the waters of this current presidency.

Top Five Non-Fiction Books

Destiny of the Republic

I am doing this weird task and trying to read a biography of each U.S. president. I just year two of with our 21st president, Chester Arthur. I really loved the Ulysses S. Grant bio I read this year, but the book that really stood out to me was Candice Millard’s Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President. The book read so differently from other biographies I had read on presidents. It goes not just into 20th president James Garfield’s life and assassination, but also gives us insight to the man who murdered him, and what medicine was like at the time. Millard also goes into detail on Alexander Graham Bell as well, who at the time was very involved in trying to save the president. A nice surprise.

Eight Years in Power

This book was eye opening. It’s penned by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a writer for The Atlantic during the Obama years. Coates takes us through eight articles he previous published, one for each year of the presidency and gives an eye opening account of America and race as Obama’s two terms progress. He prefaces each article with his reflections on what the article means to him now with a Trump presidency at hand. I recommend this book to everyone I talk politics to.

Billions and Billions

I’ve almost read every Carl Sagan book, but this was my favorite so far. Itwas the last book published before his death in 1996. It contains the reflections and predictions of one of the most brilliant people to ever walk the Earth at the end and beginning of a new millennia. Sagan’s predictions 20 years later are eerily coming to pass and the book is a wonderful reflection of humanity and our place in the cosmos. Only time will tell if the rest of his predictions come to fruition.

Being Mortal

This was another book I’ve been buying for people and in turn they have been buying it for other people. As soon as you finish it you want to discuss it with someone. It’s a fascinating look at death and really is a good book for a reader of any age. Atul Gawande is a doctor who forces us to examine the life we want to live and the death we want to have.

The Fire this time

This book is a direct response to The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin. Baldwin’s book came out in 1963 and consists of two articles and is considered one of the best books on race relations ever. In The Fire This Time, Jesmyn Ward compiles essays from prominent African American authors and takes a hard look at race relations in our society today.


YouTube Throwbacks

How to Handle Rejection

Behind the video: I was so intentionally vague in this video about what I was actually rejected for. Here is the gist: I had two degrees at the time: one undergrad, one grad. I was making $9/hr and getting yelled at every day by customers. I was 21 and living at home in my childhood bedroom.

The interesting thing looking back on this video is that this was one of the most carefree and fun times of my life. Yes, I was getting yelled at by customers every day, but I was also working with my friends, going out every night and I had zero responsibility. Yes, I was only making $400 a month (if I was lucky), but with expenses only being my phone and putting gas in my car, I was living the good life. I was just stuck with this impression, like most millennials I think (thanks to our parents!), that you go to college and when you get out you magically get a job. I had two degrees and I had nothing.

So I did the only thing I knew how to do, which is try to go back to school – again. I applied for an online program at my alma mater. I was going to get an Master in Library Science and move to Washington D.C. to work for the library of congress. The school rejected me and I was back to square one though. It was a good thing though. I’d probably be archive Donald Trump’s tweets if I had gone that route.  I realize now as much as I love books I’d probably spend most of my days injecting Narcan into people and kicking out public masturbators. I mean…that’s been my experience with libraries anyway…

So the biggest take away looking back is that every rejection I’ve faced since then (there been a lot more than my 22 year old self in this video), has been FOR THE BETTER. Each rejection that I thought was the end of the world was actually the best thing for me. Without those rejections I wouldn’t have gotten other opportunities that popped up that suited me better.

Minimalist Wardrobe

Minimalist Wardrobe – Week Two

It has been a true joy to get dressed for work this week. Why? Because I’ve barely had to think about it! I have ten items of clothing that I can mix and match tops and bottoms with and all of them make me feel comfortable. The only thing I’ve had to check is if it’s raining that day and if I should bring my waterproof coat. That’s it! 

So I started the week off going over my shoes, which wasn’t difficult seeing as I didn’t have many to begin with. I knew that I did have few pairs in there that I liked, but never wore so those went first. In the end I went from 14 pairs to 10. Not that interesting, but it felt good to toss some I’d been hanging on to. I’ve got a pair of navy blue heels for weddings and formal occasions, which go great with my one formal dress that is also a navy color. I’m pleased. 

Once this task was completed I dug back into Marie Kondo’s book feeling really smug about how my closet and drawers were less full now and only filled with things that spark joy. I was really feeling like an expert at this point. Then we got to her section on folding and I found out I’ve been folding clothes wrong my entire life. So that was a nice way to deflate my head.

Watch Marie fold!

Here were the two big takeaways:
“The goal is to fold each piece of clothing into a small smooth rectangle that can stand on its own.”
“Never tie up stockings or ball up socks.”

With those two things in mind, and after countless hours of watching people fold clothes (something I never thought I’d do), I once again dumped all my clothes out of my drawers and began my refold. 

I was slightly miffed, but the end result speaks for itself:

The last bits of Kondo’s book had some of the best bits because it expanded beyond the wardrobe. Her blunt advice about how to organize and tidy papers? THROW THEM ALL AWAY. Papers don’t spark joy. Sounds good to me! I spent a good day after work this week happily freeing myself from electrical appliance manuals and pay stubs from many jobs ago. 

She even gave me permission to throw away – gulp – GIFTS.
“The true purpose of a gift is to be received, not kept always. Presents are not things, but a means for conveying someone’s feelings.”
Consider the feelings conveyed, singing birthday cards I received for my 22nd birthday…in the trash you go! 

Kondo goes through how we should tidy books, photos, papers, kitchen appliances, and the one everyone dreads: personal mementos and keepsakes. That was the hardest for me, which is why she suggests to do it last.

“Possessions: Face them now, face them sometime or avoid them until the day we die. Life becomes far easier once you know that things will still work out even if you are lacking something.”

Maire Kondo

So wardrobe is done. It only took me half the month and that’s because I’ve been slowly donating clothes over a period of months now. This was really just the final push to let go of some of those things I was holding onto for no reason. So if that wardrobe is done, what do I do for the next two weeks?

Well, I’m trying to shove one more book in on this subject and I want to see what comes of it. It’s called “The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life is Worth more Than Anything You Can Buy” By Cait Flanders. It’s a long title that really spoke to me. So I’ll be letting you know all the fun tidbits that come of that read. 

I’m also planning my January challenge and getting ready to really start promoting this website! Thanks to anyone who is reading early. I will be posting a new YouTube Throwback this week and on my Book Reviews tab I’ll be posting my favorite fiction and non-fiction reads of 2018!