DJWritingOutLoud

"Elegance is not the prerogative of those who have just escaped from adolescence, but of those who have already taken possession of their future."

Transparency Series: Love

In my journey with minimalism, I’ve seen first hand how empowering it is to bare all of myself;  transparently, honestly, and unapologetically. The ‘less is more’ mindset that I have come to adopt has allowed me to focus on the more important aspects of life and moreover, the importance of being at peace with myself. (See previous blog posts for more)

That being said, I’ve decided to start a “Transparency Series”, where I write openly about differing topics and experiences that have shaped who I am today. Naturally, being the hopeless romantic I am, I wanted to write openly about love first.

For as long as I can remember, I dreamed of marriage and finding the “one” who would sweep me off of my feet. Growing up, it bothered me immensely that my parents weren’t married; I even went to the extent of lying to my peers and teachers regarding my parent’s relationship status in order to not feel.. I don’t know, I guess I didn’t want to feel like something was wrong with me. I saw many of my friend’s parents married, and (seemingly) happy, as a result I wondered why I didn’t deserve that. Don’t get me wrong, my parents were amazing.. separately, but I selfishly wanted them to be that way together. Nonetheless, that never happened. I got older and accepted it.

Que sera, sera.

My first crush was Rupert Grint. Yeah, the red-headed side kick in Harry Potter, Ron-freaking-Weasley. I remember swooning over him in the 4th and 5th grade, writing his name all over my notebooks (of course replacing my last name with his), day dreaming of our life together. I was convinced that he was the “one” and that we’d live happily ever after once he retired from the HP Series. While my childhood crush is now something to laugh over, it’s interesting to consider how easy it was for me to imagine a future with someone I hadn’t even met. Someone that literally didn’t know I existed.

Embarrassing right?

Anyways, flash forward to middle school. The first time I can really recall receiving male attention. Prior to that I was friends with most of the boys in my class, and none of us (to my knowledge) were “crushing” on one another. Or at least not me, I was the only black girl at a predominately white school, so I am pretty sure they weren’t checking for me, but that’s a whole other conversation.. *shrugs*. Ironically, I can remember the first time a guy “complimented” me, on my body. It made me feel…weird, but oddly validated. His remark which came from half way across our Language Arts classroom made everyone turn and look at me..

Attention, woah, that’s new..

It was like over night boys were interested in me. I knew that those Apple Bottom Jeans were a good investment!

Kidding. Kind of.. but as I was saying, after that I just became interesting, I became someone that people (primarily boys) noticed as opposed to someone people just walked by or knew in passing. I went from literally being invisible, nonexistent, a non-freaking-factor to these boys to being someone they were interested in. To my 13 year old self, it was great, now I cringe at the thought of those pubescent punks gawking over me like a piece of meat.. Most of those young men are now married or just older doing the same thing to women..so I guess some of them turned out alright.

Nonetheless, I thought I was hot stuff, and going into high school, I felt more confident than ever. I had the grades, “looks”, and was a cheerleader. Oh yea, high school was going to be a breeze.

Skkkrt. YOU THOUGHT.

High school knocked me back two pegs, because now I was actually considering relationships with these pubescent punks and had to deal with the implications of two very immature people trying to “relationship”. Ultimately it was a recipe for disaster.

Regardless of such, from high school stemmed my longest and ultimately the most unhealthy relationship. For nearly 5 years, I committed myself entirely to a relationship that was toxic, controlling, and abusive. A relationship that made me question everything about myself, and my worth. The downfall of this relationship sent me into a depression that lasted for months. No one really knew (or they knew and didn’t say anything), and most people still don’t know because I worked overtime to keep up the facade that everything was perfect. That Devin was perfect. My relationship was perfect. My life was perfect. 

The more I pretended, the deeper I spiraled into depression. I was drinking frequently and heavily, not eating regularly (therefore I lost a great deal of weight), and isolating myself from my loved ones. I tried a counseling session once, but my partner at the time guilted me out of going to any future appointments. I felt trapped and as a result I started to begin to believe that this was all I deserved. This is what I was worthy of and that this was the closest thing I’d get to the happily ever after I always dreamed of.

I’ll briefly mention, that my partner at the time while verbally and emotionally abusive, often apologized with flashy gifts and bragged about me to others. So, from the outside looking in, most assumed that everything was okay. That I was “lucky to have such a good man”.. *scoffs*. Yet, I’ve learned that’s one of the many ways abusers fool both their victims and the people around them, manipulation.

Furthermore, I often made statements such as:

“I want to die”

“I hate my life”

“I hate myself”

Interestingly enough, 75% of the tine I said these things in front of others, but no one said anything or took action on those words. Coming from someone who’s been there, don’t do that. Take words of self harm seriously. I tried to remove myself from the relationship on more than one occasion, but being in such a low place and a victim of manipulation, it wasn’t the easiest task.

Flashing forward some time, I finally got out but, I was broken, I didn’t trust anyone, and I was unaware of my value. In my mind I knew what I wanted, but didn’t believe that I deserved it or that I would be able to hold on to it, if I were lucky enough to find it. I closed myself off to people and that was my defense mechanism; it was easier to assume that everyone had negative intentions for me as opposed to waiting to find out if they did or not. Whether men or women, they were bad and would use you in anyway that they could until they became bored of you and moved on to the next. And in my mind I wasn’t just making it up, I saw it first hand. I saw people openly cheating on their significant others, I saw people lie and steal, I saw people use others for their benefit and drop them like a bad habit. So I wasn’t just making this up ya’ll I was validated in my thinking.. right?

Wrong.

I was around bad people, or I should say, broken people. That’s the reason why my outlook on relationships was so negative, because I was around people who didn’t love themselves, who weren’t at peace with themselves and somehow expected them to be upstanding within a relationship.

So when I entered a relationship over a year ago I carried with me some damaging thoughts and outlooks. I really liked and then eventually came to love my partner but I didn’t trust him and sure as hell not anyone he was around. This was problematic, because it left me in the state of high alert; always wondering and always assuming the worst. Nothing worse than losing sleep over someone because you’re worried about their actions.

Ultimately I had to make a decision, either:

a. Trust my partner

b. Not trust my partner.

I knew that I couldn’t remain in a relationship, or genuinely love someone that I did not trust. At the end of the day I went with option a, I decided to trust my partner and said, “Hell, what do I have to lose?”

While the decision making process was relatively quick, the implementation of said decision wasn’t. I didn’t suddenly wake up and start trusting people – ha, I wish! I had to start small and go from there. Whether it was not feeling compelled to check text messages or social media, or not questioning, “Who’s going to be there?“. It took time, patience, and effort on both parts.

Now, that seems so long ago, it seems that we have grow tremendously as a unit in such a short time. Sometimes I have to pinch myself, because it’s weird being treated.. good. It’s like now that I have everything that I wished for, past demons make me question if I am worthy of the love I am receiving..

I suppose didn’t realize how damaging a bad relationship or bad period in your life could be until I went through it myself. I never thought that I would think so lowly of myself and question whether or not I was worthy of love. Yet, despite the low times, heartbreak, let downs, and so forth, the process made me who I am. I’ve never gave up on love, and even when I felt like I didn’t deserve it I gave my best to ensure that I gave it to others.

We are all deserving. We are all enough. We are all worth it.

image

As always,

Devin J.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Romantic Relationships, Made Simple

Cheers to my second post of the night, I’m on a roll people! Nonetheless, I’ve found that in recent months I’ve been sought out for a great deal of relationship advice from friends, friends of friends and otherwise. Now, that very well may be a result of my calm demeanor or level headed approach to troubling scenarios or this odd idea that I actually have a clue as to what it is I am talking about when it comes to maintaining a successful/healthy relationship. Whatever the reason, I do enjoy passing along some tips and tricks that I’ve learned along the way.

I will be the first to admit I am far, far far far far from the perfect partner. I have a short temper some days, overreact on others, and can be a bit clingy on the in between days. Despite the shortcomings that I’ve been able to identify in myself, I do pride myself on my willingness to communicate, and that my friends, brings me to my first bit of advice: Communication. 

I can’t stress how imperative it is to have open communication with your partner. If you are unable to express yourself openly, honestly, candidly, and transparently. That’s a problem and it will present itself over and over in a relationship (often via fighting or disagreements). You’ve got to be able to talk to your partner; whether that’s about something that’s bothering you, how you’re feeling, what you want out of the relationship, something you find to be lacking, a new trick you want to try in bed, or an issue that’s been heavy on your heart. Whatever it may be, you should be able to communicate it to your partner. Now, in the same stride as much as we want our voice to be heard we also have to be open and receptive to do the same for our partner. Sometimes it’s easy to spill all that you have on your mind and heart, but then put your guard up when it’s your partner’s turn. No, no, communication is a two way street, and for it to be successful both parties have to be receptive of one another’s feelings and opinions.

Leading me to my next point: Validation. 

This is something that I feel a great deal of people overlook, yet it is something that we all unknowingly seek from our partners and the world around us. We all seek acceptance, want to feel valued, want to know we are loved, want to know that we are important, and so on. Therefore, validation is HUGE in relationships. What words are you using to validate your partner’s feelings? What sort of body language are you using when your partner is being transparent with you? As I always tell people, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. When you’re partner is sharing something with you, are you engaging with them or on your phone? When your partner is seeking your opinion are you being honest or just giving an answer to move forward in the conversation? Those are questions to consider when thinking of if  we are validating our partner. Lastly, this goes back to the Golden Rule we learned in our days of primary school. Treat others how YOU want to be treated. If you were sharing something that’s important to you, how would you want someone else to respond?

Next point: Transparency. 

For me, transparency goes hand in hand with trust. Within relationships, especially in a generation that is so connected via technology it’s easy to choose to not be transparent and only show the world, or our partners, what we want them to see (or what we want them to know). Are you following? Take social media for example – are we highlighting all of our personal highs and lows? Likely not, it’s easier to share the “best” moments of our lives to aid in the development of our desired selves for social approval (likes). Same goes with relationships, choosing not to be transparent involves not sharing the entire truth with your partner, whatever that may be. Now, does that mean you need to have joint social media accounts, give your partner your phone’s password, and go to every function together? Not at all, but it does mean establishing a level of respect for your relationship and ultimately your partner that creates an environment where transparency isn’t a burden but something that you both invest in. 

Leading me to my next point: Investing in One Another

Again, easily overlooked in relationships. We often think of investing as a financial matter, yet we can also invest in our partners! Whether’s that supporting their dreams, using encouraging language, or just being there for them. This investment doesn’t always have to be a grandiose gesture, but the support of your partner often means a great deal and may very well just be the extra “push” you may need.

Next point: Taking Initiative

This looks different for everyone, but again I believe we all want to feel valued, loved, important and so on. Are you waiting for your partner to tell you something before you take action? Are you planning dates, surprises, or finding ways to show your partner that you care? Again, this doesn’t have to be a romantic boat ride down the Riviera, but it can be a hand written note, flowers, a gift, helping them complete a project or task, or even a text message. There’s countless ways to take initiative in a relationship to show that you care.

Now, that we’ve got the cute stuff out the way, let’s get real. I see so many relationships fail over things that were easily preventable, and yes, while things do happen for a reason, we are also in control of our own destiny (and relationships – lol)  Want your relationship to be successful? Ok, cool, then stop doing these things:

Lying: For what? Whether it’s a little white lie, or something that you just f’d up on. Be honest. I can tell you from experience, nothing hurts worse than finding out your partner lied to you. We are human and we make mistakes, some bigger than others, but in most scenarios forgiveness is an option. Own up to it, and move forward as a couple. What’s done in the dark, always comes to light.

Telling Your Friends Everything That Goes On: Who’s in the relationship? You and your partner or you, your partner, and your 6 friends? Ah, okay. Not everything is meant to be shared, and sometimes.. actually most times seeking advice from your peers is detrimental to progress. Not everyone has your best interest  at heart (or the relationships, for that matter) AND we also need to consider that not everyone is in a place where they can offer sound advice. Your homie with umpteen failed relationships is probably not the best person to go to for relationship advice.

Sneaking Around: Again, for what? Assuming that we are all above 18.. we are grown. No one has time to be tip toeing around doing something you ain’t got no business doing. Be transparent (as mentioned above) and taken ownership for your actions.

Stop Staying In Relationships That You Aren’t Happy In: Okay, yes I know I was here to talk about successful relationships, but stop watering fake plants. Not everything is always meant to be and some people, things, and so forth are temporary. You are not obligated to anything or anyone, no matter how much or how long you’ve invested in it. And that’s the truth, Ruth!

Holding on to Dead Weight: Whether that’s an ex from years ago or a argument that happened three months ago. If it isn’t adding value to the relationship, it serves no purpose. *sings* Let it gooo!

Breaking Promises: This may seem juvenile, but being a person of your word is important in many aspects of your life, and that’s no different for relationships. Communicate if you’re unable to make an event you promised you work or if you forgot to do something.

Being Where You Shouldn’t Be: This one is kinda hard to explain and some people may disagree, but hear me out. So there’s thing called temptation and it’s very real, ever heard of cheating? Yeah.. While you may love your partner very much, temptation and human urges exist. Because of this, I choose to be cognizant of where I am at all times, especially when considering social engagements and the conversations I take part in. Are the conversations you engage in appropriate? Are the social settings you’re in appropriate? Not following yet? Ok, better questions.. whatever you are saying or doing, would you feel comfortable doing it in front of your partner? If the answer is no, you probably ain’t got no business doing it. Again, we’re grown. Note: Cheating is a choice, while temptation is real ultimately nothing happens by accident.

And lastly,

Stop Withholding How You Feel: Feelings are important and we are all entitled to the expression of them! At the very end of the day, the most important relationship you have is with yourself. You can’t love anyone, if you don’t love yourself. Right?

Right.

Take care of you and your heart, and the rest will follow accordingly.

Phew! Obviously this isn’t an end all, be all for what it takes to have a successful and most important healthy relationship, but understand Rome wasn’t built in a day.What’s worth having is worth the effort.

tumblr_oa08hg1t1k1vqy2kso1_500

As always,

Devin J

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Financial Freedom and Minimalism

For me, a huge part of my journey with minimalism was to decrease my amount of physical possessions and increase my financial savings; with the end goal of getting closer to financial freedom. When I broke that down in my head, that meant in the next 3-5 years I’d be: in the process of buying my own home, have over $10,000 in savings, no credit card debt, and paid off whatever vehicle I’ve since purchased (I already own my 2012 Ford Focus, but an upgrade is due here soon!)

17155475_10206387880535586_2335257076598115990_n

Snip snip! Good bye credit cards 

Moreover, when I began with my journey of minimalism on January 1, 2017, I had:

  • 10 active credits cards (Wells Fargo Visa, MasterCard, Capital One, David’s Bridal, American Express, The Limited, Kay Jewelers (2), Nebraska Furniture Mart, and PayPal Credit).5 out of the 10 had balances while the rest were paid off and just sitting in my wallet. The balances of the active cards (and my University Bill) totaled to $7,456.20
  • Student loans ( I don’t even want to think about that amount – lol)
  • University Student Bill ($1,263.66 – calculated in the figure above)

Needless to say, while that may be more or less than what others my age may have in credit card debt/debt overall, it was SO overwhelming to think about all the money that I owed. Especially considering all of the things I bought with those cards were things that I didn’t need or didn’t add value to my life. Therefore those credit cards and debt felt like bricks on my ankles, while I could shrink my closet and get rid of possessions that didn’t add value to my life, eliminating credit card debt was a huge factor in being a minimalist for me.

While student loans would take a bit longer to knock down (being that I am still in school and not actively making payments) I knew that I could easily eliminate my dependence on credits cards.

I know there’s an array of opinions on credit cards.. some believe that you should keep them for those “emergency situations”, some believe that you should actively use them and pay them off to increase your credit score, and some believe you should use them as you please… So I was on the fence when I started my journey with minimalism as it pertains to what to do with my credit cards – keep or eliminate?

Long story short, I decided for me the best decision would be to rid myself of all credit cards with the exception of my Wells Fargo Visa (for emergencies and travel). As for the others, I just didn’t want them anymore as they were more of a burden than anything else. If I had them I felt compelled to use them, I’d buy things that I certainly didn’t need, and overall spend too much, given my monthly budget – nah, I’m good.

So in January I made an action plan, I said by my 23rd birthday (June 22, 2017) I want my 5 credit cards with balances paid off, as well as my balance at the University. From there I became more diligent in my budgeting per month so I could double payment amounts and cut up the cards that didn’t have balances.

As of March 14, 2017 I have completely eliminated my balance at the University and am down to 4 credit cards to pay off! Woo hoo! My total debt balance is now $5,692.54. That’s down $1,763.66 since January 1, 2017.

Once I really began to evaluate where my money was going per month (dining out, shopping, groceries, work related expenses, travel, pageantry, gas, etc.) it was easy to determine what was necessary and what was not. While I can easily cut back on shopping and dining out, I had to get creative in saving money with grocery shopping and other necessities. Below are some resources that helped me:12

  1. Save on Groceries – Time Magazine
  2. 12 Smart Ways to Save on Groceries Without Coupons 
  3. Freezer Meals for Under $50 

Those are just a few that helped me out. Also above I mentioned that I evaluate my expenses, I do this by documenting all (no matter how big or small) 0f my spending long hand in my planner that I carry with me (this is easier than holding on to receipts). See photos below – this was purchased at Michael’s.

 

Most of my money saving and purposeful allocation of my money came with answering one question before purchasing anything: Does it add value to my life? If I was unable to confidently answer that question, I don’t buy it. Period. I had to get out of the habit of buying things just to buy them, buying things to fill a void, buying things because I had the funds, or buying things to make a statement to those around me. I work hard for my money, just like many others do, but I don’t work hard to feed into a cycle that perpetuates debt and overspending.

I mean think about it, we live in a culture that encourages spending to look like a certain figure or lifestyle, promising this happy and glamorous life, soon discovering that’s not the case at all. You will never be able to keep up because there is always going to be something new, something better, and something that is overly advertised to make you feel like you need it.

That being said, like many minimalists, I was tired of feeling pressured to buy things to define success. I never needed 10 credits cards, and will argue that no one does. I never needed to go shopping every weekend, or have over 20 pairs of shoes and handbags. Those thing, are just things and things that only have value if I decide to give it to them. I decided to be purposeful and place value in people, experiences, memories.. not things. Understand, there’s nothing wrong with owning things or like things, they just shouldn’t own you.

As always,

Devin J.

The Minimalist

 

Minimalism + Self Love

I can recall a not-so-distant time ago, when I wouldn’t leave the house without makeup. I remember that sense of panic that would overcome me when someone would surprise me with plans and I knew that it would take me at least an hour to get ready. I remember not feeling pretty or put together if I wasn’t wearing makeup.

Minimalism, has changed that for me.

As I’ve began to strip away the excess things in my life, I’ve come to learn how often we use things as a way to mask insecurities or make up for something that we think we are lacking. The less and less I own, the more and more I feel in touch with myself, naturally.I don’t feel obligated to look or be a certain way for others; what I do now is for myself and myself only. Additionally, the more I begin to focus on myself and the things that I value, the less I feel bombarded by societal pressure to be a certain way.

This post wasn’t meant to be long, but just a subtle reminder that in ourselves alone we are enough. We don’t need to add or buy or have things to make us better, that’s just extra.

As always,

Devin J.

 

Why Representation Matters

By definition, representation means the action of speaking or acting on behalf of someone. While there may or may not be measurable data to attest to the impact of seeing “yourself” (someone of the same race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, body type, religion, so on and so forth), I can say from personal experience that it makes a difference, a big one.

As a child, I didn’t see myself in the way that the world saw me, and like most I didn’t become aware of my racial identity until it was pointed out to me by someone else or a social structure/institution.It never occurred to me that I was different than my friends. Sure, we may have looked different, for example, my childhood best friend had long light brown hair, bright blue eyes and freckles, while I had curly black hair that “shrunk” when we got in the swimming pool and brown eyes, but we weren’t really different, right?

Due to the injustices, bias, and prejudice that exists in our world, our experiences throughout our lives would be different; as the world sees us differently. Identifying this was pivotal in my development as a woman of color, because it made me aware of the messages I was subconsciously sending and the messages that were being sent about me.

That’s where representation comes in.

Representation in mass media, systems of government, our communities, and beyond are vital in the validation of self and making sure that everyone has a voice. When subgroups of people are absent from the hypothetical “table”, those who are present are left to fill in the blanks. Historically speaking, those who have been at the table often do not represent the racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, religious, sexual/gender diversity that exists in our world. This for obvious reasons has been problematic.

Throughout most of my adult life I have been aware of how lacking diversity is in the spaces I inhabit almost everyday. Whether it’s at work, where I am the only woman of color in an office building of 200+, at school where I help make up the University’s small minority population, or in pageants, where women of color are at times scarcely represented. It’s hard not to notice, when you’re so aware of yourself and how you “fit” within your surroundings or in my circumstance rather, fit out. I frequently find myself thinking the way I present myself to make sure I fit in the realm of what others would deem, “safe”, “appropriate”, and “approachable” – all in effort to avoid the stereotypes about black women, in particular.

Much like the #BlackLivesMatter movement, me choosing to recognize the importance of diversity doesn’t mean that I am “anti anything” or only want to see minorities at the forefront. While I shouldn’t have to say this, it’s something that needs to be said. I advocate for everyone to be equally, accurately, and fairly represented. Our world is too diverse and therefore too beautiful to have certain groups of people left our or not accurately represented.

Quick story, that reaffirms why I do what I do..

A few weeks ago I was speaking to an after school program that focuses on leadership development for young women in elementary school. Due to the location of this school, the majority of participants were either minority students or of a lower socioeconomic class. I was there speaking as Miss Western Nebraska 2017 and presenting information from my program, Project Poise. We were discussing self love at large and using words of affirmation to build ourselves up. Kids being kids, they are always fascinated by my crown and ask a great deal of questions regarding pageantry when I make appearances. I of course, gladly answer, but one question in particular on this day had me stumped.

A little girl raised her hand and asked me, “Can you wear curly hair and win a pageant?” Perplexed, I asked her, “What do you mean?” She continued, “Well, my hair is really curly and krinkly, and I’ve never seen anyone with hair like mine win a pageant. Everyone always has straight, long hair.”

Heart stops.

My goodness. This little girl has pinpointed the lack of representation of black women with natural hair in pageantry. This is why representation matters. Our young people aren’t oblivious, when they don’t see people that look like them on the screen, they internalize and begin to limit themselves based off what they do or don’t see. How can you aspire to be something you don’t see? How can you envision yourself being somewhere that you aren’t encouraged to go? How can you dream bigger, when you feel limited by your surroundings?

That’s why I do what I do. My entire being is representative,  whether that’s in pageants, whether that’s in my professional career, whether that’s in the community service work, or the things I say on social media. Someone is always watching, and that’s a responsibility I am humbled to have.

635907447507736385917519176_11045424_10153337843977176_2359364474259227549_n-1200x680

On March 27, 2015 DreamWorks released their first 3D animated film starring a black protagonist. The movie, titled Home, will co-star singer Rihanna and The Big Bang Theory star, Jim Parsons respectively playing a young girl name Tip and an alien named Oh. 

We’ve got work to do.

As always,

Devin J

 

 

 

 

30 Day Minimalism Challenge

It’s the start of new month, which means that I’ve officially been minimizing the things in my life for 60 days (Started on January 1, 2017)! I’ve proudly removed over 200 items from my home that no longer have value, most of which I sold to second hand stores, some I donated to the Women’s Shelter, and some I just had to throw away. I’ve been much more conscious of my spending, really evaluating needs v. wants, and focusing more on relationships, the present and having fun! While I am still a ways away from my end goal.. wait, did I ever even share what my “end goal” was?

Forgive me. 

When I close my eyes and imagine a more minimal way of living for myself, I want:

  1. To own 100 or less clothing items for all seasons (this includes shoes, belts, handbags, etc.)
  2. To own only one television (and am debating if I want one at all)
  3. To own the appropriate amount of dishes/pots/pans/kitchenware for one person
  4. To eliminate waste to one small garbage bag per week and recycle most of my “waste” – overall find more ways to reuse
  5. Only get what I need when shopping for groceries and buying local when I can
  6. To get rid of any items in my household that do not add value to my life
  7. To be more purposeful in each day – goal setting, words of affirmation, etc.
  8. To focus on relationships building
  9. To spend less time on social media
  10. To continue leading a healthy, active lifestyle

So here we go – here are the “rules” for the 30 Day Minimalism Challenge. (Each number correlates with the day! Therefore, 1. is March 1st)

1. Meditate for fifteen minutes

Meditation reduces stress and anxiety and gives you a ton of extra energy and mental clarity. Use an app like Headspace to give it a try today.

2. Stay offline for one day

Social media, endless news streams and articles all drain our energy and keep us in a constant distracted state. So today: Log off and enjoy the calmness of staying disconnected.

3. Declutter your digital life

Take care of your digital clutter today: Spring-clean your desktop, delete any files you don’t need anymore and set up a simple, no-fuss folder structure.

4. No-complaint day

Complaining is never productive and a catalyst for negative thought patterns. Challenge yourself to not complain about small stuff today. Either accept the situation and move on, or find a solution.

5. Identify your 3-6 main priorities

Above all, minimalism is about figuring out what matters most to you in life and how to add more of that to your day-to-day routine. Today: Dig deep and make a list of your 3-6 top priorities in life.

6. Follow a morning ritual

Start your day with a relaxing and energising morning ritual, instead of immediately checking your email or social media feeds. Meditate, write, do yoga or read a book.

7. Streamline your reading list

Today: Downsize your reading list, unsubscribe and remove bookmarks. Keep only sources that are meaningful to you and that add something to your day.

8. Learn to enjoy solitude

Spend at least 3 hours (ideally more) alone, without social media or background chatter from the TV. Pay attention to what it feels like to be in complete solitude and, if you like, write down your thoughts.

9. Downsize your beauty collection

Tackle your beauty products today! Write a list of everything you use on a regular basis from the top of your head (without checking your beauty cabinets). Throw out or give away everything else.

10. No email or social media until lunch

Use your most productive hours of the day to get shit done and resist checking your feeds until lunch time. Then celebrate how much more you accomplished!

11. Evaluate your commitments

Write down all of your regular commitments, i.e. memberships, side projects and other responsibilities. Then be honest: Which of these do you only keep up out of obligation and which do you truly enjoy or are meaningful to you?

12. Define your goals for this year

Setting goals keeps you from living in a reactive, passive way and helps you align your daily actions with your true priorities. Today, set aside at least thirty minutes to select 1-3 big, exciting goals for this year.

13. Clean out your closet

Reserve a full afternoon to go through your wardrobe piece-by-piece and get rid of anything that doesn’t make you feel confident and inspired. Check out this workbook if you feel like your wardrobe could use a revamp.

14. Take a step towards learning a new skill

Learning expands your horizon and can be so much fun! Today, pick a skill you have always been curious about, gather whatever you need and get started!

15. Examine your daily habits

Today, take a closer look at your everyday habits, from your morning routine to the way you work to your evening activities. Which habits could you improve, which should you drop, which new ones could you pick up?

16. Don’t buy anything for 24 hours

Break through an unhealthy cycle of emotional spending by going on a one-day shopping fast. Don’t buy anything, not even food or essentials, for 24 hours (make sure you prep in advance). Then see how you feel!

17. Practice single-tasking

Nothing drains energy faster than constantly switching between multiple tasks. Practice truly focusing on one thing at a time using a timer like this one. Stick to short bursts of concentrated work with regular breaks in-between.

18. Unfollow and unfriend

De-stress your social media experience by being a little more selective about who you follow. Do you really need to stay Facebook friends with people you haven’t spoken to in years? Go through your list and downsize.

19. Go for a walk and practice mindfulness

Walks are a great opportunity to practice mindfulness. Pick a familiar route and pay full attention to your surroundings with all senses. You’ll be surprised how many new things you’ll notice and how refreshed you’ll feel after.

20. No TV all day, read instead

All electronic devices emit a blue light that disturbs our melatonin production and reduces sleep quality. So, instead of ending your night with a couple of episodes of your favourite show, cuddle up on the couch with a good book today!

21. Journal for twenty minutes

Writing helps you organize your thoughts and de-stresses. Sit down for twenty minutes today to write about anything that comes to mind. If you like it, consider incorporating a quick daily writing session into your regular routine.

22. Create a relaxing bedtime routine

Improve your sleep quality and energy levels by taking the time to properly wind down at the end of each day. Do some writing, read a good book, have a cup of tea, get everything ready for the next day, etc. Try it today!

23. Go bare-faced

Re-set what you consider essential by following a bare-bones beauty routine just for today (no make up and minimal skin care). You may well discover that many of the products you thought you need are really optional and can then streamline your regular routine a little.

24. Practice gratitude

Becoming a minimalist is above all about being mindful and appreciating the little (and big) things that are already a part of your life. Assignment for today: Write a long list of everything (and everyone) you are grateful for in life.

25. Leave a whole day unplanned

In our culture, we are so used to making the most out of every free minute of the day, it can be almost scary to not have any plans for once. Be brave today and see where it takes you.

26. Identify your stress triggers

The first step towards reducing everyday stress is to pinpoint your personal triggers. Try this: Take notes of your stress levels and your activities at regular intervals throughout a weekday. Once you have identified your stress triggers, figure out how you could prevent or counteract them in the future.

27. Clear out your junk drawer

Getting rid of clutter can have an almost therapeutic effect, because it helps you deal with all of the different emotions that are attached to your stuff. Complete your own therapy session today by cleaning out the most cluttered drawer/box/corner of your house.

28. Let go of a goal

The key to achieving goals as a minimalist is to set the right ones in the first place! Instead of chasing things you think you should want, figure out what would truly make you happy. Let go of any goals that aren’t meaningful to you for good today.

29. Turn off notifications

Email and social media notifications make for a very reactive workflow. Just for today: Turn off all notifications and check your feeds only at designated times.

30. Evaluate your last five purchases

Developing more ethical and less consumerist spending habits is key to living a simpler life. Today, assess your last five non-essential purchases. How useful did they turn out to be and how could you improve your purchasing decisions in the future?

&

For those who are really looking to declutter this month, let’s play a game shall we! (Via The Minimalists)

Find a friend or family member: someone who’s willing to get rid of their excess stuff. This month, each of you must get rid of one thing on the first day. On the second, two things. Three items on the third. So forth, and so on. Anything can go! Clothes, furniture, electronics, tools, decorations, etc. Donate, sell, or trash. Whatever you do, each material possession must be out of your house—and out of your life—by midnight each day.

It’s an easy game at first. However, it starts getting challenging by week two when you’re both jettisoning more than a dozen items each day. Whoever can keep it going the longest wins; you both win if you can make it all month. Bonus points if you play with more than two people.

march-calendar

After 30 days, let’s check in and see where we are! Best of luck to you. 

 

As always,

Devin J

The Minimalist 

Yes, I Love Luxury Goods and Want to be a Minimalist

I believe that it would be a fair assumption to presume that most do not associate luxury goods with minimalism. Often when we think of minimalism we envision small, monochromatic wardrobes, houses that aren’t filled to the brim with decor and an overall standard of living that’s, simple (and sometimes frugal).

And that’s absolutely right, yet as I’ve said since the beginning, it’s important to realize that there is no one way to “do” minimalism. It’s up to the interpretation of the individual to determine what makes them feel less cluttered in their life.

Prior to my personal journey with minimalism, I had a great interest in luxury items, Louis Vuitton, in particular was a weak spot for me. At 22, I worked hard to build up a collection that I was proud of and that made me happy (these items had value to me). When I made the decision to strive towards minimalism for my life, I was conflicted on whether not luxury goods would still have a place. I owned several handbags, clothes and so forth that would be considered luxury and I wasn’t sure if they would need to go or not. I asked myself, did minimalism mean that I needed to shy away from brands that held such a “status” in our society?

For every action that we take, there’s a message intentionally or unintentionally being sent to the world around us. Especially when considering shopping; the brands we buy, and the stores we chose to shop at (for all of our needs) ALL say something about us, as a consumer. A great example of this would be those who only get coffee from Starbucks. While Starbucks is on the more expensive end and you could more than likely get a comparable coffee at your local Quick-Trip, there are some who will pay a higher cost for a drink due to their own personal reasoning – which is fine!

As a consumer, have you ever wondered what drew you to Starbucks (for example) over other coffee chains – was it the branding, was it location, was it that they finally spelled your name right on the cup, was it the customer service, was it taste, was it the feeling you got when you hold the branded cup in your hand, was it that you could artfully post a photo of your Starbucks cup and connect with others who too enjoy Starbucks..?

Much like choosing Starbucks over other coffee chains, our wardrobe is often a way that we outwardly express ourselves. For as long as I can remember, I cared about the clothes that I wore and what they meant in relation to my peers and the world around me. I wanted to be “cool” or “in style” and this is something that we all (or a great deal of us) want. That’s what consumerism and marketing do, they make you want to look like the images that are flashed on the screen/billboards/magazines and so forth that that subtly say, Buy me, so you can live this lifestyle.. 

So I had to check myself and ask a few honest questions before I proceeded with minimalism and considered keeping nay luxury items.

  1. Was I keeping the items because I like them?
  2. Do these items add value to my life?
  3. How often do I buy these items?
  4. Do I really need these items?
  5. How often do I use these items?
  6. Are these items worth the money I’ve spent?
  7. Do I need more than one of these items?
  8. What are you willing to part with?

Long story short, I did say goodbye to some items. I’ve only kept one “style” of each handbag, and have let go of a great deal of shoes and clothes, It wasn’t a difficult decision to part with so many items as they were collecting dust in my closet and will hopefully add value to another person’s life. At the end of the day it’s just stuff.. It’s really silly how much value we place in things, as opposed to just valuing them for what they are and the purposes they serve. Yet, that’s just the world we live in, eh?

While I am still far from my end goal with minimalism, I have to remind myself that I am not even a month in. In just 27 days I’ve seen a vast change in my life, so I am remaining encouraged and diligent. I eventually want to be the minimalist who is down to 100 items or less, but I’ve got a ways to go..

Below I will provide some fun resources on more about minimalism! 

Click here to learn more about the “Minimalist Luxury Lifestyle”.

Click here to watch “The Art of Letting Go” TedTalk.

Click here to watch a 30 Day Minimalism Challenge

Click here to watch, “Can a Luxury Lover be a Minimalist?”

Click here to watch “Minimalist Lifestyle: Can Luxury Co-exist?”

16806637_10206287645069762_7578443845035537522_n

My new Christian Louboutin heels – my only pair of black heels. #LuxuryMinimalist 

 

As Always,

Devin J