Lately, I’ve been feeling guilty. I’ve had my first summer break in about eight years and it’s delightful. Naturally, I’ve been wanting to make the most of it. Instead, I find myself sleeping more than I mean to and spending much of my time prepping for school, making annual appointments and check-ups, or up-keeping things that have been neglected during my busy school year. If not doing that, I’ve mostly been laying around reading, watching TV, and browsing things in Pinterest.
After a few weeks of feeling guilty, I ordered a new planner and made a few lists. I made a list of things I needed to accomplish, things I wanted to do for fun, and things I was needing to purchase prior to starting school in the fall. I filled in my planner so that I would have an approximate timeline to accomplish things. However, I also left time to rest.
Rest is essential to our well-being. It allows our bodies and minds to recharge. It helps us to be more resilient and ward off illness. It can even make us more creative and productive. Currently, I’m resting in three different ways: I’m sleeping more, I’m laying around doing “nothing” more, and I’m organizing my affairs in preparation for the fall. I hope to start school feeling very well-rested and having a clear mind.
So, the next time you find yourself feeling guilty for resting, remember that you are investing in your own health, your mental wellness, and your future creativity and productivity. Resting isn’t an escape from productivity; it’s an essential part of productivity.
Welcome to my new series on investment! In this series, I want to expand the meaning of the term investment beyond just finances and look into the power of making life choices that encourage growth. Looking at my life choices in the framework of this word for the past year-and-a-half has really changed my perspective and helped me to grow as a person.
I have lately been suffering from some major decision fatigue. I think it has been a combination of a lot of life changes in a short time and a job that requires minute-by-minute decision changes. One thing I have learned from working in the mental health field is that when we are very stressed, we tend to make the choices that seem the easiest in the moment. Our brains struggle to put in the extra effort and energy to find the best overall long-term solution. And it can feel like a relief to have made the decision, even if that decision is an unhealthy or maladaptive one.
So, one thing I have been doing lately is investing a little more time on the upfront on many of my decisions in order to consider what will be easiest and/or best for me long-term. For instance, I put in some extra research when considering buying new make-up because I couldn’t find a make-up company that really worked for me and that I was passionate about. I have now found Elate Cosmetics* and am super excited to be building an eco-friendly capsule make-up collection that I hope to use as my go-to for years to come.
I’ve also invested in many reusable products lately. While the cost is sometimes bigger upfront, it has saved me time and money to only purchase a product once, rather than purchasing the same things repeatedly. This gives me more mental energy to prioritize my other life purchases.
Another example would be going back to school. This was a big choice, and one that I had been considering, but putting off, for years. In part, my hesitancy was due to the expense and not wanting to have debt. Last June, I buckled down and really did my research. Little did I know that, for the program I had interest in, the city where I lived had the cheapest in the country and was also well-ranked nationally.
Obviously, if we took this kind of consideration with every single decision our lives, our brains would be exhausted. But maybe pick an area to start. I started with purchasing products because I was exploring using less waste, but you may wish to start with relationships or big life decisions. Ask yourself:
1. Does this decision align with my values? Will I feel good about the decision in the long-term? Does it make me happy to make this decision? Does it feel right? Is it healthy?
2. Does this decision help to curb future decision-making? Is it a re-usable or long-lasting choice? Does it have an aspect of versatility to it? Will I continue to love this decision long-term? Am I only making the decision “for now” only to confront it later or is it a choice that is “settled” and clears my mind to focus on other things?
3. Is this decision an investment? Did I make the choice that will help me to grow as a person? Will it make my life easier long-term? Will this decision bring more wealth into my life, whether that be a wealth of good relationships, morals, materials, or happiness? Will this decision blossom?
You might find other questions to be helpful in your life as well, but these three were a good place for me to start. I would also add to not be afraid to think outside the box. You may find the decision that best fits you and your life is an unconventional one- I certainly have from time to time. So, I wish you a happy decision-making process, and may your choices bring you joy and help you to thrive!
*This post was not sponsored by Elate Cosmetics; I’m just excited to share a new product I am passionate about!
My current buzzword is investment. Is there a word or phrase that you like to use that has brought a bit of “charm” into your life? If so, I would love to hear it!
It’s time for more Little Life Charms! After taking a bit of a hiatus, I recently went back to my method of purchasing only one item a week. This includes everything from soap to car parts to clothing and makeup, but not food or medication (I see those two as absolute needs and don’t find value in restricting them, personally.) It also does not include gifts. While I am glad that I took time to try other means of budgeting and loosening the reins a bit, re-starting this method really reminded me how much I love- and truly enjoy, only purchasing one item a week.
It saves me money. I had no idea how many small, thoughtless items I purchased on a regular basis before changing to this method. If you haven’t ever counted or made a list of your day-to-day purchases, I’d encourage you to do so at least once. It’s enlightening! I generally find that, barring some kind of last-minute unexpected emergency, purchasing one item a week still gives me all my needs and then some. In purchasing only one item a week, I can put additional income from items I would have purchased, but didn’t need, into savings. It also allows me to invest more in experiences, which research has shown leads to greater happiness.
I enjoy what I purchase to the same extent. Happiness research shows that part of the reason we enjoy making purchases is because we get a burst of dopamine when we make a purchase. I don’t like buying a bunch of things at once because I have realized that I have the same “zing” in my brain whether I purchase one thing or one hundred. Better to space them out, I feel. I also feel more gratitude towards being able to purchase some of my needs, and have realized that some things I had considered “needs” are actually “wants.”
It keeps my space tidier. Not only do I bring less items into my life, but I am more likely to use up things that I already have. I recently was running low on foundation. I decided to use up one I wasn’t too keen on, but that worked just fine, before purchasing the new one.
It helps me to be more eco-friendly. Purchasing one item a week allows me to really prioritize what I need and not buy things in excess. If I only want a new tshirt but I need a new shampoo, I will only purchase the shampoo that week and save the tshirt for later. And you know what- I find that I really look forward to using the shampoo in a way that I maybe wouldn’t have before. It also helps me to think about how long the product I am purchasing will really last, and I find that I lean more towards reusable products and towards quality products that will last a long time.
It is easier to make better, more ethical purchases. Because I purchase less, I tend to think through every purchase more. I will think about where the pants I purchased were made, or if it might be better to try to find them secondhand. Slowing down my purchases allows me to really think about quality and to use that mental energy I might have been focusing on multiple items I wanted to buy and hone it towards that one item.
It saves me time. Despite spending a little more time considering each item up-front, I still don’t spend as much time shopping as I used to. I turn that part of my brain off after deciding what my purchase will be for the week and I focus on other things. And again, an emphasis on re-usable, more durable, or bulk products means that I have less decision fatigue.
It allows me to be creative. I was recently going to purchase some re-usable cleaning cloths, but then I realized that I could make some instead out of some used fabric. I’ve also made my own cleaning products and found new uses for old pieces of furniture. In short, I find a lot more joy and gratitude in what I already have, rather than focusing on what I don’t have.
What about you? Do you have little spending “charms” or rules that help you to feel happier or to better meet your goals? Or, do you find those types of things restrictive? Are you a hard-liner when it comes to the rules, or do you allow yourself a little wiggle room?
I have lately been trying to do four things every single day. These are things that I want to prioritize in my life. They can be big or small; sometimes each thing takes less than five minutes, while other times one item can take a large chunk of my day.
Something to invest in my future: This is something that will allow me to live a better life later. It could be career research, putting money into savings, or learning something new that will be helpful to me down the road. It could be as simple as sending someone an email to ask a career question or as complicated as redoing my entire home filing system.
Something that is laundry: By “laundry,” I mean something that needs to be done in the now and that I will likely have to do again later. This could be something like cleaning out my car, activating that card that’s been sitting on my desk for forever, or, well, laundry. It’s the stuff that tends to pile up of we ignore it to long.
Something to look forward to: I’ve been trying to make every day memorable. Even if it is something simple, like a nice bubble bath, my favorite cookie, or a show on Netflix, I have been trying to be very intentional about making every day count.
Something for someone else: For me, I am usually able to knock this one off the list at work or around the house so I don’t think about it much. However, I thought I would mention it because it is so rewarding to take a little time out of our day to do something for someone else. It can make our day so much more meaningful.
Well, there you have it. Those are my four things. Are there certain things that you aspire to do every day?
I am very pleased to unveil a new series, Enchanted Spaces, which is all about perceiving space in a more magical way. I’m in the middle of tidying and revamping my house, and will focus on a concept from a different fantasy novel for each room. Bear with me here: I’m not a designer or a photographer, just a girl with a passion for re-imagining space. First up: the living room.
I have also been changing up the rooms of my home to reflect different climates. The feel for my living room is desert. I had considered doing a before and after picture, but the problem with this was that I am a firm advocate in slow decorating and wabi sabi.
Slow Decorating is a concept I got from a lovely book called Simple Matters, although I am not sure that she uses the term by name. The idea is to buy simple, quality pieces that will stand the test of time and not to rush one’s decorating or to follow a trend. Think of a simple, quality, shaker-style wood dresser found at a thrift store that will never go out of style.
Wabi Sabi is a Japanese concept based on three principals:
So, needless to say, there was no “drastic makeover” to show. The room is tidier and cleaner, things are in slightly different places, and I swapped a few things from my bedroom and this room. Most of the belongings I have I accumulated slowly over a long period of time; some actually belonged to my mother and grandmother and even my great-grandmother (for more on my “stuff story” read this post). The only new items I acquired for this reveal were a tapestry of my mom’s that my sister gave me as it didn’t match her stuff and a beautiful tree branch that I found on a walk.
The concepts of slow decorating and wabi sabi reminded me a of the book (and film)Tuck Everlasting, which is precious if you haven’t read/seen it. It is about a family that doesn’t age, and about the importance of growth, change, and the juxtaposition of life and death. In particular, I thought of this quote:
“Everything’s a wheel, turning and turning, never stopping. The frogs is part of it, and the bugs, and the fish, and the wood thrush, too. And people. But never the same ones. Always coming in new, always growing and changing, and always moving on. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. That’s the way it is.” ― Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting
My husband recently asked me why I read the same books over and over again. I explained to him that it wasn’t the books that changed; it was me. Therefore, I perceived the books differently and picked up different things about them. Similarly, I don’t look for drastic changes in my spaces, but as I change, I pick up different nuances, swap a coat of paint, add a new pitcher from a trip, take out that shelf that no longer speaks to me.
So you see, to me a space is something that is never remaining the same, but always evolving, moving, changing, and being re-imagined and perceived differently. It is a sense of growth that really makes a place interesting, but slow growth. I want my spaces to grow with me, neither faster nor slower than my own personal journey, because they are a part of me and a reflection of my own life story.
Any thoughts about your relationship to space? What does your space say about you, or what would you like it to say?
I am re-sharing this post from my old blog because I will be referencing it frequently for an upcoming new series, Enchanted Spaces, that is all about re-imagining home. This post explains a bit about my unorthodox “stuff story.” Enjoy!
Let’s talk about baggage. No, not emotional baggage. Physical baggage. When my grandmother died, all of her belongings and her mother’s belongings, including several rooms’ worth of large pieces of furniture and boxes and boxes of glass and china, went to my mother. A few years after my mother died (when my father moved), all of that stuff, along with many of my mother’s belongings, were divvied out between my sister and me, which meant that I ended up with half of four generations of furniture, china, photos, quilts, clothing, and more at the bright young age of 23.
What I’ve discovered is that I am the master of manipulating myself into keeping things that I don’t want or need, much of which have no emotional or monetary value for me (insert dramatic Hoarders soundtrack here). Here is my logic: “Oh, but there is a label on this handkerchief that says it came from my grandmother’s friend’s mother; I can’t get rid of that!” Or “Well, I don’t actually like this sweater, but my mom wore it at some point in time so I should keep it,” or “This doesn’t hold any fond memories for me, but I feel like I need to keep it anyway.”
I have gotten rid of things here and there, so it never felt like this was a serious emotional problem deeply affecting my quality of life, but at some point I looked around my home and realized that almost none of my belongings were actually things that I picked out or purchased myself. Truthfully, I have accumulated the type of belongings that many people don’t have until their late fifties, and even then have had much more time and emotional space to cull through them. Most of my furniture was willed to me. Most of my clothes to this day are hand-me-downs from someone.
On the one hand, my gratefulness for having been given these items far overpowers any frustration that I have with it, and truly, there are many things that I have that I absolutely love. Still, the strange thing is that at it has taken me until my late twenties to stop and ask what my personal style truly is, and what I want my belongings to look like, or even what kinds of belongings I want and need in my life. I used to believe that having these items was saving me money as well, and I’m sure some of the smaller, more useful items were, but the thing is, items that take up physical space mean more cost in moving and storing those items, especially for someone who has moved several times like I have.
1. Only keep things in your life if they “spark joy” in you.
2. When you get rid of belongings, thank them for the place they have had in your life and the things they have taught you. Sometimes an item’s purpose is to teach you what you don’t like.
3. A gift’s purpose is to show the gratitude and love of the giver. Once the gift has been given, it’s purpose has been filled.
4. If you are keeping something purely for sentimental reasons, consider taking a picture of the item instead.
I am now immersed in a deep process of tidying up. And here is where I have created a method that Marie Kondo may possibly hate: the guilt box. It’s label literally says “Stuff I Feel Guilty Getting Rid Of.” Everything in that box are things I am keeping not because I love them, or because I find them to be useful, or because they have great sentimental value, but simply because I feel guilty getting rid of them.
What’s the point, you say? Well, the point is that everything outside of that 2x3x1 box in my life brings me joy. I’m allowing myself that much baggage, that much guilt, that much “but what if I need thing X?” or “but so-and-so really loved thing Y.” In allowing just a little bit, I can quell any anxiety, guilt, or fear I have about getting rid of other belongings; if I can fit it in the guilt box, I can keep it. And, I’m hoping that by being brutally honest about the reason I’m keeping things, I can become more discerning about what I keep and what I discard.
What I have found through this is that I have a true love for many of the things I have in my life that were given to me, like my grandma’s beautiful quilts, much of my mom’s jewelry, and some absolutely beautiful dresses and cardigans that I was given by my in-laws. I hadn’t noticed how much I appreciated those things before because I hadn’t had the physical and emotional space to savor their beautiful history and fine craftsmanship. Now that I am starting to identify the types of things that bring me joy in life, I am hoping to truly savor my home, and to discerningly bring only things into my space that truly enchant me.