A Simple, Honest Life

If You Don’t Prioritize Your Life, Someone Else Will

Oh Hey, It’s Me
Northern California Coast Line

I remember May. I remember Memorial Day Weekend. I remember the redwoods and the northern California coastal air, how it smells like it’s always going to rain and how the fog blankets the coast every morning. I remember camping early in June and hiking up the butte that tried to kill me, but instead gave me an epiphany about turning this site into a reflection of honesty and simplicity. I remember feeling like summer was just about to start.

And now it’s September.

I had a really great summer planned with restful self care weekends in between some of the bigger ticket items such as visiting my parents, going to Spokane, three camping trips, a walking relay event and one of my best friend’s wedding. But even the best laid plans…

Slowly dying inside at our LA office

Work got in the way if I’m being honest. Not just some hard weeks at work, but work travel on top of that, which is never as fun as it sounds. I was down in LA seven times this summer for work and even pulled a 15 hour turn around trip followed by three more days in a row. One good thing is I got really good at packing a suitcase and bringing only what I knew I’d need and wear. But putting in all that work travel against my carefully laid out summer plans meant I was busy. So busy I have barely had time for myself.

That’s not to say I didn’t have a good time this summer, but since my May revelation I’ve been wanting to focus more on my needs and my time. When I can manage those things first, I become a better person at home and with my friends and family. I can allow myself to be in the moment when I’m with other people and give them my full attention and focus because I’ve taken care of myself first. Which leads to the fact that I have not taken care of myself this summer.

I have felt completely out of control. Like things were happening TO me, and I was just a bystander going through the motions because I felt like I had to. I felt had no control to stop these things from happening and I just had to follow through and do them. I’d like to preach about how we all have control in our lives and I could have canceled things or told my work no, but that is always so much harder than it sounds. I think most people don’t feel in control of their lives. We have bills to pay and people to please and plans to show up for.

The best plan I showed up for: Claire’s wedding with my BFFs

So I’ve been having these thoughts in the background about putting myself first and being in my control of my time and my life and meanwhile I’ve just been going, going, going. And when I’m finally able to stop, I end up sleeping because I’m so exhausted. Going to bed at 7 or 8 and when I can sleep in I’m sleeping until my alarm goes off at 9 am. I have to set an alarm because I will sleep even longer than that if I can. So what is that telling me when I’m so tired my body wants to sleep more than 12 hours? It tells me I’m doing too much.

Luckily work is slowing down a bit. There shouldn’t be any more crazy travel for awhile. That helps. And I’ve tried to be more honest with my personal plans. I’ve been trying to say no more. And instead of saying ‘I can’t’ I’ve been trying to say ‘I don’t want to’. Not to hurt people’s feelings, but to put my time in more perspective with myself. It’s not that I don’t want to hang out this week, it’s that I don’t want to make that a priority this week. I know that I won’t be my best if I schedule something this week, I need more time to put myself first and then when I do make plans with someone – when I am truly up for it – I will be more present than I would have been if I had forced it into my schedule. Into my time. Remember, time is our most precious resource. It is literally all we have.

It is okay to say no. I know that it doesn’t always feel that way and there are truly things that we can’t say no to. Work being the most obvious one. If we want to keep our jobs, keep the people in charge happy enough to keep us around, we more often than not feel forced to say yes. I think a lot of people feel this way and I want to share some pieces of a great book I finally got around to reading this summer called Essentialism by Greg McKeown. There are some great tid bits in there about saying no in a work environment and how nos can sometimes be really well received.

Here’s one of my favorite tips:

For example, if your manager comes to you and asks you to do X, you can respond with “Yes, I’m happy to make this the priority. Which of these other projects should I deprioritize to pay attention to this new project?” Or simply say, “I would want to do a great job, and given my other commitments I wouldn’t be able to do a job I was proud of if I took this on.”

Excerpt from Essentialism by Greg Mckeown

Saying no isn’t easy for fun, but you can definitely take a moment to feel awkward about saying no and live with that moment of awkwardness for a short time or you can say yes and live with a day, a week or even a month of regret for saying yes.

“Only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.”

Honey Badger Champs

What do I feel deeply inspired by?” and “What am I particularly talented at?” and “What can I do that meets a significant need in the world? I don’t know yet.

I have to keep working because I have bills to pay and honestly I like the people I work with. We are dodge ball champs after all – another thing I signed up for this summer thinking I’d have more time in my life. Is my work my passion though? No. I’m not there yet. And in the meantime I don’t need to be killing myself and sleeping in 15 hours increments when I can to make up for working so hard. Now that things are a bit calmer at work I’m hoping I can re-prioritize my time and my hobbies and really start to think about what I want to do with my life and how I want to make a difference in the world with the time that I have.

Mary Oliver wrote: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?” I’m still figuring it out, but while I’m working through it I’m trying to make sure I’m giving myself the time and space to do so.

A Simple Life · A Simple, Honest Life

Email Subscriptions

I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately. Mostly about ways in which I can take back my time from other things and people and make it my own again. Sometimes I come up with really big ideas for this and other times I just think small.

Here’s a small idea that took up more time while I was doing it, but has really shown to have a great payoff.

I was trying to track my phone usage last month and have really clear ‘No Phone Time’ sessions blocked out. Like most people, I start checking my phone within a half hour of waking up. I like to keep my mail app clear of those little red notifications that tell me I have email. That means every time I pick up my phone and see a mail notification I feel compelled to check the email, sort it and in turn remove the notification.

The problem with this is that I was getting a lot of junk mail. Subscriptions I didn’t remember signing up for, discounts for stores I shopped at one time, reminders about sales or points expiring, etc. So when I’d get a text on my phone or even use it to check the time I would end up spending 5-10 minutes more than I wanted to on it going through all the new email subscription junk I would get. Over the course of the day this could end up sucking up an average 30 minutes of my time. Our most precious resource.

So I started unsubscribing. Which at first took up even more time. Some places make it so easy to unsubscribe and others make it a bit of a puzzle. My favorite ones are the ones the iPhone flags and they have just a simple unsubscribe button at the top.

Then there’s the unsubscribe links you have to click, usually found hidden away at the bottom of the email.

That will take you to a website where sometimes you just have to click a button saying ‘opt out of emails’ or you have to reenter your email, or (the worst) individually select which emails you’d like to opt out of.

These are the worst and most time consuming.

Here is the good news. I did this for a solid two weeks and it took up more time than I wanted, but now I’ve started to notice a huge decrease in my emails (and the time I spend checking them. Instead of 25 notifications in the morning and five more every half hour I’m getting three in the morning and about 10 total throughout the day. A major improvement in my time, wallet and well being.

A great way to practice digital minimalism as well. Less distractions on our phones means less phone time over all. I’ve still got a few more companies emailing, but I’ve been practicing the unsubscribe method and I wanted to encourage you all to do the same if you’re feeling like too much of your time is spent on email.

A Simple, Honest Life · Simple Life

Phone Apps

Image result for amazon ruining workers
South Park did a great bit on Amazon’s vicious cycle of consumers and workers.

It was AMAZON PRIME DAY this week! Which extended into not one day, but two days (they should probably rename it), and a CONCERT (which I watched, because Taylor Swift). All aimed at getting you to CONSUME, CONSUME, CONSUME. They even have PRE-SALE events! Come on! Buy something you didn’t even think about as something you WANTED (never mind NEED) until you saw it on your super convenient app that you open several times a day. As if Black Friday wasn’t bad enough.

Well, I deleted my Amazon Prime app for prime day and haven’t downloaded it again since. I’m a big Amazon shopper for household items. Toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent. The stuff I don’t want to get at the store a haul up three slights of stairs. I figure I can get on a desktop compute from now on to buy those things though. I buy too much stuff on Amazon as it is just for the convenience of having the app at my fingertips and all my payment information saved on there.

When I talk about a simple life in regards to a minimalist mindset I think people tend to think about their physical space. Cleaning closets, downsizing kitchen utensils, donating items etc. I want to share about the last eight months or so where I started minimizing my phone apps and let me tell you – it feels great! I think digital minimalism is super underrated and not talked about as much as our physical spaces.

How many shopping apps do you have on your phone? If you had asked me a year ago I would have had over five, at least. Amazon, Target, Modcloth, Vinted, you name it! And how many apps do you have in general? Don’t count the ones you can’t delete. Go ahead, count. I have 43.

Social and entertainment apps take up the most of my space and those include Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, Goodreads, Twitter, Unfold, Podcast Preview and Messenger. Then I’ve got an entertainment section and a music section.

And that’s kind of it. The second page over has some financial apps – my bank, credit card and venmo – but I look at those more as necessities than wants.

Cutting down apps isn’t just about the look and feel of your phone though. Yes, it’s true that my phone is now simpler and easier to navigate, but overall it does one really important thing for me that I hope can give you an alternative to your current situation. Not only does having an excess of shopping and game apps on your phone make you waste more money, but it also wastes our most valuable resource: time. At the end of the day time is our ONLY commodity. Can’t shop, play games, or browse cat pics if you’re dead. And (morbid moment) that could happen at any moment. Do we want to spend hours of our day scrolling our feeds, or engaging in conversation with friends? Do we want to half watch a movie while online shopping at our fingertips, or do we want to be fully engaged?

I used to wake up in the mornings and just sit on my phone for two hours before work. Now that my apps are hidden away I tend to just spend about 15-20 minutes looking at my social and entertainment apps when I get home. There’s a glorious time when I get home from work where I’m alone for about 30 minutes. I take that time to do my phone thing. I’ll do a bit of Duolingo, check my Insta, say hi to the family on Facebook and look up recipes on Pintrest. It’s my phone time. That’s not to say I’m not looking at my phone a few times a day at work, in the morning or after dinner. I’m just being more conscious about phone time. I’m not perfect and I’m still learning. But I think the first step of that is to be CONCISION of our phone time.

I even deleted *deep breath* Wizards Unite this week. I was so looking forward to this game. I wanted it to be good. I wanted it to have the same connotations that Pokemon Go had a first. Kids and adults in the parks, running after a freshly spawned Snorlax. The truth is it’s kind of boring, doesn’t make much sense and has started to feel like a chore rather than something I wanted to spend my time on. I deleted it and I have zero regrets about it. In fact it feels like a huge weight off my shoulders.

This is just a small post about the benefits I’ve seen from minimizing my phone apps. I would like to go more in depth into this in the future, but for now here is just a few ideas for your own mental health. I’ve got a whole post in mind for no phone zones: bedroom, bathroom, dinners out, etc. I think I just want to put the idea in your brain for now about considering the minimization of phone apps. Really analyzing what the apps are doing for you and if they’re bringing value to your life or if you just find yourself opening them at random and hoping for some distraction.

Something to considering going into the weekend.

A Simple, Honest Life

A Simple, Honest Life: The Beginning

June has been hard. There I typed it. I feel that I’ve been in a daze since it started. There’s a reason I did A Photo A Day twice. I honestly couldn’t think of anything else to do. That’s a bit unlike me. I feel like sometimes I have so many ideas in my head that the only issue is not having enough time to see them through. For some reason the last month or so those ideas have stopped.

I wasn’t really sure what was wrong with me until I spent some time with myself out in nature this weekend. There was no cell service. Minimal husband distraction. I got to really spend some time with myself. The main chunk of this was climbing a vertical incline for two solid hours. During this hike to hell I started to think more about this ‘June Gloom’ and I started piecing through what was at the heart of it. So bare with me and I’ll take you through that journey of self realization.

Just put me out of my misery.

I posted a lot of great photos of this hike on my Instagram of the views and the trees, but I never posted this one of me half way through a hike wanting to just end it all and jump off the nearest cliff (there were many to choose from and was sorely tempted).

I love hiking and being in nature so much, but I’ve been so out of shape since last fall that every single hike is a struggle now. That’s something I’d never admit, until now. So anyway, I’m telling husband to go up ahead because he’s barely breaking a sweat with a ‘isn’t this fun!’ grin and I am red in the face, sweating profusely and pretty sure I’m gonna vom.

I’m like the big bad wolf just huffing and puffing my way up this incline with no one else in sight and I start thinking about how a few hours ago in the air conditioning of my car I was really excited to get into nature and start to reflect on what has been wrong in my head lately. Why have all my ideas stopped? I’ve been so busy at work lately I come home, make dinner and by the time I’m done eating at 7:30 I am ready for a shower and the hope that I’m awake enough to read in bed until 9. Lately I’ve been falling asleep with a book in my hand around 8:30.

As I’m dragging my fat ass up what feels like a goddamn mountain I’m wondering how I’d feel if I had a heart attack. A heart attack that suddenly feels very imminent as I can feel my heart trying to escape my body. I mean obviously I’d feel pain and panic, but how would I feel about my life? I started out this site hoping to have a place to be creative, but I remember my first challenge, the Minimalist Wardrobe. I had been thinking about minimalism for years. It felt so good to finally give my wardrobe a shot at downsizing and it felt so good to knock that out. Then I went into Honest Pictures. I had the most fun with this challenge. It was so refreshing to be open about my online presence and help people see that all the content we digest is curated to fit a certain idea. It’s so rare we get the full story from one photo or video clip.

When I started to think of my other challenges. I thought they were fun and taught me things, but nothing felt as good and right as my challenges helping to simplify my life and be honest.

Back to me dying on a butte. Honesty and Simplicity. I’m repeating this over and over to myself as I wipe sweat from my burning hot face, trying to ignore the stench I’m starting to take on. Left step is honesty, right step is simplicity. Honesty, Simplicity. Goddamn how am I not at the top yet? How come I can’t think of a new monthly challenge? Why have I stopped writing? How come June has left me feeling like I’m drowning? How do I escape my Monday-Friday rut that I can’t seem to see a way out of? How come the only time I’ve felt content lately is when I’m sleeping? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?

Pause for a moment more to let a family pass on their way back down. Their little kid is wearing a Spiderman shirt and I’m trying to not hyperventilate in his face, but I think he sees the struggle in my dead eyes. I might die on this hill.

“You’re almost there!” He beams at me as he passes.

“Cool.” I manage to gasp out.

A woman passes with her two dogs.

“It’s beautiful up there. You’re gonna love the view. There’s only about five more switch backs.”

“Five?”

She must see the panic in my eyes.

“They’re easy. You’ll be fine.”

This woman looks like she climbs mountains for a living. She might be fine, but I am definitely going to die. The group passes and I snag some water out of my bag. I’m thinking of the view at the top and how if it really is a great view as the woman says it’ll make for a great picture to post on Instagram. I’m half way through my drink and I stop.

Am I doing this hike and killing myself to take a picture so I can share it with people? No, that’s not completely true. I really do love hiking and nature. How would I feel if I had left my phone at the campsite though? Nothing to document. That would suck. I realize that I want that picture of the view at the time. I want to post it and have people think what I already know about myself: Holly is someone that likes to hike. Well, that’s true I do. People wont know how hard hiking has been for me lately though if I just post a picture of the view with a #pnw caption. Maybe my picture will say to people: Holly is an adventurer. I wish I could be in nature like Holly.

Now my mind is running through my honest pictures challenge. Didn’t I do a whole fucking month of breaking down this toxic thinking and trying to burn it to the ground? Didn’t I set out to try to be more honest myself? With other people? To help people digest their social content in a healthier way? To show my love for minimalism and how it can help others? How much of that passion, that message have I actually lived lately?

Bag of clothes I don’t wear that I bought in the last five months and have nowhere to put them other than this Trader Joes bag.

I think guiltily of the bag of thrift shop clothes I have in my closet. The clothes I bought but can’t fit on hangers because I threw all my hangers out with my new ‘light’ lifestyle. I think of the social posts I’ve made lately. Have they been to share an honest experience or to show I’m having a good time? What is the value in my life to just show people I’m having a good time?

I put my water back in my pack and pull out my phone. I snap a pic of my red sweaty face and let my exasperation and exhaustion show through. It’s not the prettiest picture of me I’ve ever taken (not by a long shot), but it’s real.

Honestly, Simplicity. That’s where I’ve strayed off the path. That’s what I really set out to do with this site. That’s what I’ve been lacking online and in my personal life.

I’d like to say that with this realization I suddenly made my body lighter and more free. I was able to bound up the next thousand feet and the Butte that I cursed earlier, I suddenly had a fondness for. These would be lies. After all there were five more switch backs to get to. Fuck this butte.

I ended up taking so long to get to the top that the clear amazing view of Mt. Hood that people on the way down were telling me about was now covered in clouds.

Normally this would have left me frustrated, but I was just glad to be alive. There were a zillion mosquitoes up there too so as much as I’d like to say I spread my arms wide and breathed in the fresh mountain air and took in the millions of trees and breathtaking views, I just ended up snapping this photo and then grumpily asking my husband if we could go now because I was being eaten alive.

I bounded down the way I came up in much less time, with a spring in my step. Despite the view turning out shit, despite globs of sweat under my boobs and the bites on my arms, my creative block seemed clear. Even though I’m a bit more out of shape than I’m used to at the moment I was marveling at how my body manged to take me up that hill. Despite the heavy breathing and straining muscles it was able to do its job and take me where my mind willed it to go. My body is kind of amazing. I’m going to spend less time hating it and more time celebrating it. I’m going to be more honest about it. I’m going to keep simplifying my life. I’m going to Kondo out my closet (again), because it’s okay if it takes a few tries to get it right. I’m not going to solve all my problems in one monthly challenge. I’m going to buy less, save more. I’m going to tell you all about it. I’m going to tell you when I mess up and buy too much. I’m going to share the truth about my trips, the good and the bad. I’m going to share my struggles with simplifying and my triumphs. I want you to share all yours with me too.

So that’s what this new tab on the site will be. A Honest, Simple Life. I think you readers will like it better when I’m honest with you and I realize now that my subconscious likes it too. It punishes me (as experienced by June Gloom) when I fall behind on my passion. Because that’s what it is: a passion. I am passionate about sharing my life with you all. I’m passionate about hearing about your lives and your struggles. Your Photo A Day posts with the #PictureTheLittleThings hashtag inspired me. Your desire to minimize your own closets and kitchens put a smile on my face. You truths about your own travels and vacations made me feel less alone when I struggle away from home.

I do have a new monthly challenge for July that I’m really excited about, but I will be making posts here too to share with you all and have you share with me your simple and honest lives.

Thx, Nature. I owe you one.
April 2019 - Fruit · April 2019 - Fruit

Fruit – Week Three

I was desperate to try Guava again this week, and I found a tiny version for a reasonable price at a local market. It was way less expensive than the one I bought at the Japanese market, but I was wary because it was so small and soft. It was definitely ripe though, and was the first thing I tried this week.

Mini Guava from Mexico

I cut open the little guava and found that it’s white inside. I was a little bummed because I’m looking for that pink inside guava, the one the internet says taste like a combination between a pear and a strawberry. The two guavas I’ve had so far (the mini pictured here, and the green giant from last week) taste like grass. I can’t think of another way to describe it besides maybe mushy grass. I know the big one wasn’t ripe yet, but this one was and it tasted the same. Also this mini is packed with seeds that I’m told you can eat, but will probably break your teeth if you try. Not a fan, but not giving up on guava until I get my pink guava. Any tips on where to find this pink variety would be helpful.

Sweet Lime from USA

Next I had a sweet lime. It looked like a mini lemon, but was very lime like when cut open. The inside was a white yellow. I expected it to be sweet because of the name, but it honestly just tasted like water. Meh.

I was excited about the citrus though so I left my sweet lime in the garbage where it belongs and went right into a citrus kick the rest of the week. I was so bummed about the guava and mini lemon water (can that be its new name?) that I was desperate for something good to eat. I had always wanted to try blood orange and never had (I know, why not Holly?) and it did not disappoint. The inside was just as dark red as I imagined, and I loved that the outside had bits of burnt red on it too. The inside was delicious. Super juicy and good, but stained everything. So clean up real quick and try not to get it everywhere if you’re enjoying one in your home.

I tried a Cara Cara orange next. I might have had this variety before at some point, but I’m honestly not sure and I was super curious about the inside because the sticker said ‘I’m pink’ on it, which it was. I enjoyed this one a lot, but the flavor didn’t differ to me too much from a standard orange. I’d get it again though.

The last citrus of the week was a Honeygold Grapefruit. So this one was labeled as Honeygold, but when I Googled Honeygold grapefruit Google informed me that it’s just another name for a Melogold grapefruit. Melogold, on the outside, looks just like the Honeygold I grabbed at the store. Yellow skin, freckled a bit. However, I was expecting yellow flesh, as the internet had informed me that the inside of a Melogold is yellow, and instead got a light pink – just like with a standard ruby red grapefruit. So in the end I’m not sure what I ate. It also tasted like a ruby red, but smaller and it had more sections which made it harder to eat, but I feel like it was a little sweeter. Overall I liked it, but not sure it differed much from a ruby red to deserve the extra price tag.

Here are some other grapefruit varieties I’ll have to try someday. Let me know if you’ve had any of these:

  1. Flame Grapefruit
  2. Lavender Gem Grapefruit
  3. Duncan Grapefruit
  4. Marsh Seedless Grapefruit
  5. Oro Blanco Grapefruit
  6. Melogold Grapefruit
  7. Pomelos
  8. Star Ruby Grapefruit
  9. Pink Grapefruit
  10. Red Grapefruit
  11. Thompson Grapefruit
  12. Sweeties Grapefruit
  13. White Grapefruit
Juicy Apple

Finally after our hike this morning I enjoyed a ‘Juicy’ apple. I told you last week that there were more than 20,000 named varieties of apples. This one was just labeled a Juicy Apple. I thought maybe it was a type I’d never heard of before so I bought it. Then when I tried to do research on it I found it nearly impossible because if I google a form of ‘juicy apple’ or ‘juicy apple variety’ the internet just wants to tell me all about what types of apples are the juiciest. So I’m not sure if I ate a new type of apple or not honestly. It didn’t taste like one I’ve had before. It was like a mix between a Fuji and a Honeycrisp. Not sure, but if you know, please let ME know. I rather enjoyed it.

Overall, an interesting fruit week.

I’m wrapping up my book on the banana and the fruit hunter people. I’m going to watch the fruit hunter documentary next week and I’ll let you all know what fun facts come out of that one.

I’ll leave you with this picture from our hike today out at Cape Lookout in Tillamook, Oregon.

It was beautiful and we saw whales. It was also very muddy, we forgot water and I got a sunburn on my extremely susceptible to sunburn cheeks. Best to tell the truth. Pictures are just snapshots of someone’s day after all, they don’t represent the entire day.