My little sister. My big sister.

It was April 6, 1991.

You are my first memory. I don't remember the first time I saw you or heard you, but I remember that suddenly you existed. My sister. The one who would become my closest companion growing up and also the one whom I would hate more than anyone, thankfully, only for brief moments. Our father made sure to teach us how to say sorry and perhaps more importantly, how to forgive. And forgive we did, over and over, just as sisters should.

I was two at the time, almost three. It's strange to me that I have a memory of myself at two years old. That I existed as the same person I am today, 26 years later, but in a small body and with a mind I didn't fully understand. I remember dad putting me in the car. I was scared–bewildered, is perhaps a better word–but even though we were leaving the hospital (or were we going there?), dad had a huge grin on his face. Perhaps the biggest grin I have ever seen on him. He was my Trust, and that is what I did, I trusted him The fact that we were at a place where only sick people went to, things were going to be okay because he was smiling.

And of course, he was smiling. For you had just been born.

You are my first memory.

Therefore, my life could not exist without you in it. I didn't know a time before you came into the world. I didn't know anything before you existed. You are my first memory, my first understanding that I, too, existed as a small child.

I remember you getting your ears pierced before me, and finally deciding that I could do it, too. If my little sister could do it, so could I. My little sister, or, perhaps, my big sister. I remember sneaking upstairs from my basement room into your room, climbing into the bunk beds. I was too scared to sleep alone, and so I slept next to you, my little sister. My big sister. I remember when you first came to school and I wasn't so sure how that worked. You were near me, but there you were, down on the playground, far. You had your own set of five year old friends, and I didn't quite understand how that worked. I thought we were one unit up until that point, but now I saw that we were two different bodies existing on our own. How does this work? I thought you were mine.

But we were each other's. I remember laughing in bed with you–was it two twin beds, or was it one double?–in our grandmother's Montana home. We had already moved away from Montana, and so we were back visiting. We wanted to find our thing together. Something only sisters shared, something more than blood, apparently. We were giggling as we came up with nicknames for one another, and somehow, in a way only an eleven and eight-year-old could ever understand, we landed on Wisconsin Cheeseburger. I've still never been to Wisconsin. 

I remember jumping on pillows in our basement, careful to avoid the lava on the carpet. We were each different colored Yoshi characters. I don't remember our colors now. I remember slapping you across your bare chest when you could barely form a full sentence. I wanted you to leave my room but you refused, and now how desperately I wish we could be in the same room together forever. I miss you.

I remember playing solitaire together on dad's computer at church, waiting for him to finish up work. I remember walking our dog together and running through the forest to school. I remember when games like dress up and paper dolls were no longer fun for me, and not being able to understand or explain to you why I no longer wanted to play the games that were once so much fun. We were growing up.

I remember playing in our backyard and riding bikes together. I remember long car rides to California, and back to B.C. I remember painting our faces with makeup and trying to embarrass our parents. I remember you trying to embarrass me. It worked, every time. It still works, just as well as how you still fall for all of the fake stories I tell you. We laugh about them later.

I remember when you were diagnosed with scoliosis. At fifteen, I was enthralled with boys, and I used them to distract myself from the pain I felt from not being able to protect you anymore, like when we were younger, and a girl was bullying you. I told that girl if she messed with you again, I would break her other arm. Now, there was a pain I couldn't fix or take away. I distanced myself from you, and it's one of my biggest regrets. I think you distanced yourself from me, too, though.

But I also remember being at the hospital with you. It was a few years later, and I knew I couldn't keep running, I had to be there for you, however difficult it was, and difficult it was, as the doctors broke your back in half to straighten it with poles. I danced in your hospital room, hoping to get even one smile out of you while you came in and out of consciousness from the drugs. You did smile, you were also annoyed at me at times, but I didn't care, your smiles were worth it. You had changed, though. You had a new sense of empathy that was much greater than I was capable of experiencing. 

It makes me worried that I can't remember as much of our childhood as I would like to. Perhaps if I had some photographs in front of me, I would better be able to relive our moments. Instead, many of these moments have been replaced by our experiences together as adults. 

I remember when I decided I had had enough and abandoning my home and entire life in San Francisco. Thousands of miles away, I crawled into bed with you, yet again. I told you how all of my nightmares had come true and you listened quietly to me. I don't know if you didn't know what to say, or if you were simply in the nightmare with me, but you listened, your gentle and calm self, and stood by my side until I had enough strength to pick myself up again. My little sister. My big sister.

Again, in the bedroom, it was the night before my wedding. You asked if I wanted my own room, my last night as a legally single woman, and I said no, I wanted you next to me. We crawled into bed and listened to the wind whistle. We cracked jokes and made funny faces at each other and talked. When you fell asleep, I woke you up with all of my excitement about what was to come. Or perhaps it's that I didn't want the night to end, you laying next to me. Us, as sisters, one entity splitting further into two. 

Of course, I remember your wedding day. How beautiful and calm you were all morning up until you saw your almost-husband when suddenly your silly side came out again. My favorite side, too. I remember watching you walk away with him, arm in arm, and realizing now that someone else was watching out for you, but that that was okay. You were the prettiest and most elegant bride, but also the most lively and courageous bride. My little sister. My big sister.

Time continues to pass, and I realize 26 years have happened since my very first memory–you–and I wonder how it is possible for time to continue in the way it does when I desperately want to hold onto our moments and make them last forever. Mostly, I am just grateful, that on this day, I get to think about you and celebrate you. You are one of the biggest blessings in my life. You have made my very life exist in the way it does. You are a part of me, and you are a part of whom I wish to be.

And now here we are. You, in one country, and me, in another. I will call you later today to wish you a happy birthday. I will wish so badly that you and I could be sharing a bed together instead, coming up with practical jokes that we could play on our parents or sharing our deepest and darkest secrets. My life revolves around your existence. My memories began at your first breath. My little sister. My big sister.

I remember sitting with you at the top of Glacier National Park knowing that everything was right in the world because I had you. My little sister. My big sister.

I love you. Happy birthday.

For Cottage Hill

Last summer I interned for one of my favorite magazines, Cottage Hill. It was such an incredible experience and I saw my first published piece printed in the Grace issue of their magazine. I also was able to write a few pieces for their blog, this being one of them...

Click here to read the entire article.

What was so exciting for me about this particular piece is that I was able to produce the entire thing. With other pieces, I was given an assignment to write about, and that's all I did (write). With this piece I was able to create the topic, and from there, find the people I wanted to bring this piece to life. These last few years I have let photography take over my entire life which I have loved, but it's caused the majority of my writing dreams to be pushed to the side. It was so refreshing for me to not take the photos for this piece and instead find someone who I felt could represent my vision, and then trust them entirely with the photos. This allowed me to focus on the writing. It was also great because I chose my friend Corina to photograph this piece for me, and she not only provided beautiful photographs, but quite honestly  she took photographs that were better than what I would have taken had I done them myself. There's something about slowing down and focusing on only one thing that allows you to blossom. I like to do everything, but by only doing the writing, this piece turned into more that what I could have ever imaged. Thank you, Cottage Hill, for letting me work with you last summer! And thank you, Corina, for taking such beautiful photographs and being such a great friend :) 

Perhaps church is right here / confessions of a pastor's kid.

Life, lately, has been oh so busy. At the end of a long work day, I find myself exhausted, with barely enough energy to get myself home, say hello to my husband and dogs and hop into bed. By the weekend, I hermit myself away, utilizing my two days as productively as I can, which for an introvert means quietness, alone time, time to be creative, to dissect through a week’s worth of interactions and thoughts that didn’t get properly sorted and stored. Time to recharge.

I miss sitting in my office. This room sits at the very edge of our home and was possibly built as an extension years after this house was first built. The sunlight glistens through the lace curtains, and when the heat is turned on, I melt in warm bliss. My thoughts can melt out of me, and my clothes begin to peel off, layers which I often find restricting. Layers which disallow me to jump as high as I want or move my body effortlessly as if it were in a pool of water. This space has become a sanctuary for me and my thoughts.

Sunday, the day of rest, the day of detox. The day some gather in buildings to pray and meditate and others hide under covers, recovering from last night. 

So many Sundays were spent at church when I was a kid. From 8 am, when my mom would begin worship practice, to 1 or 2 pm, when my dedicated father would finally be done greeting every last request of people seeking guidance from their pastor. I would find myself getting lost in pews, usually in the balcony, hiding away wherever I could. I’d listen to the music or try to make my dad laugh while he was speaking on stage. One day I snuck into the crawl space that runs underneath of the stage and up past the pews. Eventually, I learned that a homeless person had been living there. I’m not sure where he moved to next. 

I remember a lot of people knowing my name but rarely knowing (or often forgetting) their names. They knew my parents, and so they somehow knew me, thus feeling they shared something with me. As soon as the Sunday service was over, I’d run into my mom’s tiny office and lock the door. It was a little section behind the stage that had a washroom, my mom’s office, a music room and a props room. There was also a door I could go through that would lead to the baptismal tank–but you never wanted to go through that door when you were sneaking out of the service, trying to find something to do. If you did, you’d find yourself staring at the faces of hundreds who would be wondering why the pastor’s daughter was standing alone in an empty baptismal tank. Usually, I’d stay in my mom’s office, and sometimes I’d sneak into the props room and get lost amongst the colors, flags, fabrics and costumes. It is here I felt free. Free to just be me. To let my imagination create something out of nothing. And I think it is often here where I felt closest to God. Just Him and I doing our own thing together, where no one had to be of witness. Where we could be ourselves and be honest with one another and make jokes together and sometimes cry together but mostly, understand one another. 

Nowadays, in a different country from where I went to church as a kid, I don't always know if I fit in while standing in the pews. Maybe we all feel this way? I feel stuck, watched and slightly terrified of someone knowing my name. I hear the pastor speak and I watch his young children and wonder if they are listening to the words or waiting for their dad to finish work. I see them dance to the music and I see my sister and me at three and six years old dancing. I remember lifting my hands into the air. I remember playing guitar on stage. I remember playing Solitaire on my dad’s computer. I remember eating the leftover communion bread and drinking the tiny cups of grape juice after the service was over. I remember making borscht soup in the kitchen for church potlucks. I remember the fireplace in my dad’s office. I remember dunking my head into a tub of oatmeal, trying to retrieve some object, during a youth event, where later I’d get a prize. I remember drawing or writing poems on the tithing envelopes that didn't get used. I remember holding my mom’s soft hand while listening to dad talk, her presence making me slightly more comfortable about sitting in the front row. I remember she’d get up at the end of the service to play the piano, and I would try my hardest to make her laugh, anything to break the ordinary. And it would work. I’d make a face or a silly smile, and once we’d make eye contact, she’d lift her head away from the microphone and look up into the sky laughing. And it is here I’d feel God again. Here, looking up into the sky together, laughing. Sometimes I’d get my dad so tongue tied with his words that he’d finally have to stop during the middle of the service and say, I’m sorry, my daughter is making funny faces at me, and I can’t stop laughing. People in the audience would laugh and I would be mortified that I had been made known, but mostly, I'd be proud that I had created laughter amongst still bodies. Again, anything to break the ordinary. Anything that said, hey, it's okay to be weird here

I’ve never understood people who don’t think God has a sense of humor. That’s the only God I’ve ever known. Someone filled with abundant love but who also doesn’t take life too seriously when the hymns are sung out of tune and the people show up wearing flip-flops and shorts. Oh, and of course, someone who really likes to laugh. I suppose that is the man I married. I suppose that man is also my father. 

But it is here in my tiny office, with white walls and terrible peach trimming around the windows, that I find my solitude again. My Sunday. My day of rest. My day where I can detangle thoughts and empty myself enough to make space for God. 

I suppose it’s just like those Sunday’s when I’d lock myself in my mom’s office. Hidden and safe. Alone and free to be me. Without judgment. Left to my imagination and with stacks and stacks of books.  A place quiet enough to hear what the air is saying and feel how the dust particles are dancing amongst the sun.

you are not my president.

yesterday the air was sad
not even the shower could wash away my tears
the faces at work were of shock
white bodies expressing anger
black bodies staring down at the floor
silent.
and i knew, 
this is something different. this is something i cannot fully feel in my
white skin and my white privilege
but this is something i know is wrong.
yesterday we hid in our cubicles
but the tears were not hidden there
because when i’d pass you in hall our eyes were bloodshot red.
yesterday the air was sad.
the feeling in the pit of your stomach when you’ve regretfully had to say goodbye to someone you love.

today the air feels heavy
i open my eyes trying to escape the nightmares i’ve had for the past two nights since you were elected.
i open my eyes hoping to escape into reality
but the air, oh it feels so heavy.
this is not a dream we can wake up from.
oxygen floats down my throat and into my lungs but it feels like sludge.
my stomach won’t stop hurting
i have not lost hope
but i wasn’t quite ready to fight,
and i’m realizing now that for these next four years i’m going to have to fight
and not even in my sleep will i be able to rest.
today the air feels heavy.
but i know it’s not new. 
the color of my skin allowed me to fight when i felt like it, a privilege, many have not had.
it’s a wake up call
and i’m sorry it took so long
but now there’s no denying how heavy this air feels.

i still haven’t called you my president. 
it wasn’t a protest or a hashtag it was simply that the moment they announced you as president-elect i thought,
that’s strange, because he is not my president
nor will you ever be.
i will call you by first and last name, but that’s it.
and really, you should feel honored,
because it’s more than you can call my friends and i.
you call us by the color of our skin or by whom we love or worship.
black. gay. muslim. mexican. pig. slob. rapist. criminal.
you use those words interchangeably, 
as if they are the same thing.
they are not the same thing they will never be the same thing! and now,

now the air feels angry.
you are not my president. 
you are not my leader.
you’re going to wake up in the white house for four years but that doesn’t change who you are.
you can waltz in your glory and try and make america great again
but then you are going to leave.
and the people who represent you, us,
we are going to keep fighting and we aren’t ever going to leave or stop or give up.
as feminist jane flax says,
“political action and change require and call upon many human capacities including empathy, anger, and disgust.”
i share with you, donald, disgust, but what we do not share together is anger or empathy.
it is love and empathy and anger and disgust that will fuel us
to stop your crooked heart. 
you will not change us. we will change you.

claim what you want but
my god is not your god. 
my god tears down walls and invites people in.
in fact, he moves a mountain if he has to, simply so we can be together.
he does not divide
he does not shut out.
my god believes love is love.
my god was never white.
and as much as my god has called me to pray,
he has also called me to act.
and so i will pray at night through my nightmares. 
i will pray when the sky is dark and i cannot sleep.
i will pray out loud even when it’s hard to breathe,
and you can be sure that in the morning,
i will act.

to jupiter and back.

you’re just my husband, and i don’t mean that you’re just my husband, but that to me, 
it doesn’t matter so much if you sing nostalgic songs or take mystical photos or fold steel upon itself to make knives (i mean yes, i love these things about you, of course, i do), but to me i love you because

you’re just my husband.
and being just my husband also means
you’re my weird human, silly human, playful human, serious human, diligent human, my do life on a day to day basis human. 
my normal human.

you’re the human whose strange spots matched my strange spots and whose lows met my lows and highs met my highs.

you’re not some on again off again, you’re my forever human. but on the off days, being with you is better than anything i have ever known before. and on the on days, being with you is like,
okay, is this even real?

i don’t know all the lyrics and i don’t all the songs and you never told me you were in a band when we first met and thank you for not telling me you were in a band when we first met because to me, you became,

just my best friend. just this (yes, obviously dreamy) guy whom i could have conversations with that went as deep as the lowest ocean floor and when i found out about our nerdy jupiter obsession, well, next our conversations went as high as there and back (and again and again).

to me, 
i don’t so much care about what they see because,
to me,
i see the very core of you.

the center of the earth is where you and i meet. 
my center. your center. the shared center we have found within each other because before things felt a little lopsided,
and not that things can’t be lopsided and maybe we’re still a little lopsided together, but
we can roll to the other side if we need to, together,

because to me,
you’re just my husband.

you’re more than the just and more than the my and more than the husband.

but to me, 
i get the just and my and husband 

and to me, 
that’s just perfect.
that’s just more than enough, you know.

I made it!

I did it; I made it! I made it out of the 27 Club, you know, the infamous age 27 when a lot of people die, and a lot of us superstitious people (read: me) try not to let it consume us.

Twenty-seven, though, has always been one of my favorite numbers, and so I was super excited to turn twenty-seven last year, but today, today on my last day of being twenty-seven, I was afraid I might die. And though I cut someone off pretty badly in traffic tonight (he cut me off first), here I am, 10:44 pm and I'm still alive. I’m not entirely surprised, although as a child I never imagined myself getting to this age (only because it was too far away to comprehend). I didn’t think of myself as dead but rather non-existent, and dead and non-existent are not the same things. I’m glad I’m neither of those, frankly. 

Honestly, I learned a lot this year. Of course, it was also the best year. Ofmyentirelife. Seriously. The most exciting being that I married the man of my dreams, and tonight as I was looking at him in the movie theater, I couldn’t stop thinking to myself how lucky I am. I also graduated from university, a ten-years-in-the-making-degree. It was wonderful and life changing and hard and eye opening and I am so grateful for all of my profs and peers at school (now this sounds like an acceptance speech). I also moved to my dream city, Seattle, and I can truthfully say that this is the first place I have ever lived that instantly feels like home (city number 8).

I always write these super long blog posts whenever I turn a new age, but these past few days have been so busy and tomorrow I’ll be busy, too. Normally I get a bit upset if I don’t have time to write on my actual day of birth, but right now, it doesn’t matter so much because I am just… happy. 

For so long, life was a struggle. I don’t entirely know why. I had a great childhood and my teenage years were, well, typical rebellious teenage years. My early twenties were fun but also very dramatic and suddenly, during this age of twenty-seven, I finally felt like me. It’s like I was dropped into my own skin and had an “ah-hah!” moment, here I am, world!

Largely, I think getting married help. Marriage is not the answer to your life’s problems, but as a complete introvert, and someone who has dreamed of getting married my entire life, I had learned to be a chameleon. In my awkward and shy and quiet self, the best way I have found to relate to people is to be a mirror of them. If they are quiet, I am quiet. If they are loud and outgoing, I will be loud(er) and (more) outgoing. I find it’s the best way to get them to feel comfortable, thus making me feel comfortable, too. My theory is that if they see the parts they like of themselves reflected back to them through me, they’ll find familiarity and comfort and then we’ll get along with little confrontation. I suppose I have always been a people pleaser, and good lord, this was always the case when I was dating. I was a chameleon with all of my exes, being who they wanted me to be, and it was beyond exhausting, even when I didn’t realize I was doing it. I suppressed myself for so long to try and make them happy that it quite literally made me sick and sent me to the hospital. But none of that matters anymore because now I just feel like me. I’ve found my human, the one who makes me the best version of myself. The one who I don’t have to be a chameleon with, but the one who is also similar to me. Ying and yang. Peanut butter and jelly, you know. That’s who we are.

But mostly, not having to be a chameleon to anyone anymore has allowed me to focus on me again. I know that sounds selfish, but helping me has helped me help others. By figuring out myself and who my core identity is, it has allowed me to be a full version of myself, and when I’m full, I am more open and available to others, to those who need me the most. It’s a win-win, for everyone.

And so while there are most definitely twenty-seven things I learned about myself this past year (and usually this is the format of my “birthday posts”), I guess the only real important one to discuss is that I simply learned how to be me, and be okay with me. 

I have so many thoughts on aging, so many thoughts I want to write about more. Tomorrow I will be twenty-eight, and I know that is still young, but it is not young-young, ya know. For so long I thought I was going to be this prodigy child that forever changed the world, and I couldn’t imagine myself ever getting old, no. I was going to remain this child superstar, but I don’t suppose I did anything monumental. I mean yes, I think I did a lot of amazing small things, and small things add to big things. I am beyond grateful for every opportunity I’ve had and where my life has brought me, but I think as a prodigy child I also thought I could somehow skip getting old and simply be a child forever. So it’s weird to me, that I am as old as I am now. And it’s weird to me, that I still exist in my own skin and I’m still the same me as I was when I was only ten. It’s weird to me that eventually, I’ll be in my thirties, forties, fifties and gosh, sixties, and I'll be laughing at my twenty-seven/eight-year-old self. Eventually, I’ll be 101 because I am determined to live to be at least 101. 

The past few months I’ve been doing a lot of self-help identity work, and it is this next birthday approaching (uh oh, only 59 minutes left) where I’ve realized that a lot of my identity went into being young. Once again, the child prodigy. You can do anything you put your heart to! You can change the world! It is YOU and YOUR generation that will do xyz! And I hope it’s still true, but I am learning that I defined myself by that, by being young. And so I’ve had to do a lot of “de-younging” my identity to realize that I am still a valuable and worthy human being just because I’m not as young as I use to be. And I can turn thirty and have a new career if I want. I can turn forty and have a new hobby. I can turn fifty and climb a mountain for the first time. And so on and so on and so on. My age, and aging, will not define who I am.

I have no idea what this next year will bring, but I’m relieved I don’t have to think about the 27 Club anymore. I spend a lot of time thinking, so maybe for year 28, I’ll spend more time doing. Yes, that is precisely what I will do. 

Twenty-eight, here’s to doing you.

Just a little snap so I always remember what I looked like at 27 and what my writing setup was like, and proof I made it past the 27 Club. It's July 30th, 2016 at 11:31pm, so only 29 minutes left now.

Just a little snap so I always remember what I looked like at 27 and what my writing setup was like, and proof I made it past the 27 Club. It's July 30th, 2016 at 11:31pm, so only 29 minutes left now.

"If so-and-so becomes president, I'm moving to Canada."

As someone with dual citizenship (Canadian & American), I find it disrespectful when someone says, "If so-and-so becomes president, I'm moving to Canada." I've said this myself, mostly joking, although as we get closer to the election, I've began thinking about whether there is truth in this statement, but I don't think it's right of me, or anyone, to say this phrase.

Having lived the majority of my life in Canada, Canada will always be my home over the US; however, having lived in the US for 5-ish years, I have grown to love this country in a way I couldn't understand before. I see what makes American so beautiful, and for now, I have chosen to live in the States over Canada. The political situation and possibility of Trump getting in scares me, and I'm fortunate that if something beyond horrible did happen because of Trump, I could relocate myself and husband to Canada. (Yes, Clinton could do something horrible, too, but my point is not about who the candidate is, although now you know my bias). I'm not going to move back to Canada just because a certain candidate gets into office. To "move to Canada if so-and-so becomes president" feels disloyal to not only a country, but to friends I now consider family. It would be me abandoning the people here in the US, and abandoning the fight for what is right and for what this country deserves. "Moving to Canada" is an easy way out, and this world is nothing but easy (although the reality is that moving to Canada wouldn't actually be easy).

Also, to say "I'm moving to Canada if so and so gets in" erases the problems Canada has. Politically, Canada may be more stable right now, but Canada doesn't come without its faults. There have been mass genocides that have occurred to the Indigenous Peoples of Canada; the university I graduated from sits upon land that was stolen from the Indigenous; there are missing and murdered Aboriginal women; there has been eugenics done to people deemed "less than;" the conditions of the Japanese Canadian internment Camps were atrocious and are examples of the racism in Canada... the list goes on.

Neither country is perfect. There are things about the health care system in Canada I prefer, and there are things about the health care system in the US I prefer (and so forth). But I am not going to abandon a people group and a country simply because I'm afraid of Trump. I'm going to stand up to his policies and help those who will be most negatively affected by them.

It's an easy thing to say, "I'll move to Canada if so-and-so becomes president," but it's a much more complicated issue than that.

Why I stopped trying to change the world.

When I was five or six years old, I vowed to myself that I would change the world. I had just finished reading a book with my family that explained the political situation in North Korea. As young as I was, I knew the situation wasn’t good, and it was then and there that I knew my life’s mission: I was going to change the world. 

Fast forward to high school where I was wearing a sneaker with a high heel shoe, a jump rope as a belt and a tutu over my jeans. I looked like a complete weirdo but it was the activist in me standing against conformity and what the cool kids did. I organized social justice meet ups during school lunch hour and as soon as I had my own job, I began sponsoring a child overseas. A few years after high school I went to university and began a degree in Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia. At the same time, I was working as a photographer and turned many of my school essays into photo projects that focused on everything from eating disorders, to abortion, to stolen Indigenous land. As a young, privileged, white female, I even sent myself to work in the DRC in Africa (which later I would learn is not necessarily the best solution). I vowed to myself that I wouldn’t ever stop the fight for justice and human rights consumed me.

Like any fire that isn’t properly stoked, I, too, burnt out. I was doing everything I could possibly do to change the entire world but I wasn’t seeing any immediate change. I would open up Twitter and once again, my timeline would be filled with countless more stories of pain and injustice. I’d see friends on Facebook arguing over the presidential campaign and whether or not we should have gender neutral bathrooms. It was overwhelming, exhausting, and made me feel hopeless. I became angry.

The thing is, anger can actually be a good thing because anger can motivate and inspire change. The problem with the anger I had was that I only allowed it to focus on the negativity, fear, and hopelessness I was feeling, instead of actually doing something to create change. One can be angry, but one must also live with hope. Filled with fear and hopelessness, I realized I needed to change my approach, and this is when I quit trying to change the world. 

Instead, I focused on creating change locally. By focusing on local issues, suddenly I was no longer only promoting change, but I could act on it, too. Issues that once seemed big, daunting and impossible to fix suddenly became small, relatable and achievable issues to fix. I didn’t need to argue with people on Facebook anymore, I could get a group together locally and act on the change. I didn’t have to save the entire world, something I will never be able to do, but I could create change in my neighborhood. This is where hope began to blossom. 

Hope starts small, but like anger, it spreads like wildfire. I’m reminded of all the times I’ve had a bad day, and how someone’s simple act of kindness has completely changed my day around. Now, whenever I’m out and about and feeling blue, I tell myself to change my attitude, because if I can smile and represent hope to one person, that person can smile and represent hope to another person.

Changing the world starts locally. It starts in your relationships, in your homes, in your neighborhoods, and in your cities. There are so many things you can be doing locally that, while they might seem small, will influence the rest of the world. Read the newspapers. Volunteer. Help a stranger out. Join a local community garden. Listen to people. Ask people how you can help. Join your friends at their meetups for topics surrounding LGBTQ+ issues, racial issues, religious issues or class issues. Dream big, but start small and start with something tangible, promoting change one step at a time. If we all create change locally, together we will be changing the world. 

How Project 333 has made me comfortable in my own skin.

It has been almost two months since I started Project 333, which means I have one month left! When I first started this project, I thought it would be impossible to stick to only wearing 33 items, but it has actually gone by fast. The biggest positive to this project has been how much I have learned about myself and my attitude (along with society’s attitude) towards clothing. 

I had to cheat a bit. I chose my 33 items based on Seattle’s generally moderate climate, but I forgot that it does get hot enough for shorts in the summer, and I also went on some trips I wasn't planning for at the time. I ended up pulling two pairs of shorts out and a pair of flip-flops and sneakers; however, it worked out well as I was able to put away two pairs of pants and a pair of boots I haven't needed during these hot months. I have switched a few items around, but I think I still only have 33 items in my wardrobe. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1. I still don’t wear half of my 33 items. I pretty much rotate around the same few items.

2. I don’t miss my old clothes AT ALL. One day when I went to cheat, I put on an outfit that wasn't a part of my 33 items, looked in the mirror and thought, meh, I like my 33 items better. I changed my outfit back into something apart of Project 333 and packed the old outfit back away.

3. My self-esteem has gone up for a few reasons:

- I have curated my closet so much that now whenever I get dressed, I am putting on an outfit I absolutely love and feel great about myself in. I no longer feel obligated to wear something I only sort of like or feel good in. My next step is to donate a ton of stuff (or have a come-raid-my-closet-sale here in Seattle).

- I was holding onto a lot of items out of guilt. One day I’ll fit this again, or, this shirt isn’t my style anymore but it’s so nice, and maybe one day I will feel like this person again. Turns out I’ve grown out of that person, completely. By curating my closet down to only 33 items, I feel like I’ve freed myself from a lot of expectations and false identities I put on myself. I feel much more comfortable in my skin and how my body looks, and I also feel like I know who I am, and what makes me me. I don’t have to change who I am and how I feel to pull off a certain outfit. Instead, all of my outfits represent who I am and how I feel, allowing me to continue being me. 

4. Trends matter less to me. By owning fewer items, it has forced me to be okay with what I wear, despite trends. I may not have all the newest trends anymore, but suddenly I don’t need those trends to feel good about myself. I think a lot of my identity came from staying up to date with the current trends, even if I didn’t like the current trend. Now, I feel like how I dress is so much more of a personal expression as to who I am, as opposed to looking cool. I wear what I feel. I don’t wear what society tries to make me feel. When I see other people wearing a really cool trend, I think, that looks great, but it won’t change who I am, and I’m happy with who I am.

5. I have so much more time! Seriously, so much more time. I didn’t realize how much time I spent getting dressed each morning, but when you have fewer options, getting dressed is much easier. You have no choice but to just put something on, even if it doesn’t seem like what you want to wear that day. That being said, because my 33 items have been so curated, once I put on an outfit, I remember how much I love it and I feel great in it anyway.

6. I kind of like having a uniform... And while I still have lots of variety in my wardrobe, I like that I have my “thing.” This is what I wear, over and over and over again, because this is what I like and this is who I am. The end.

7. It’s made me realize what I actually need, as opposed to what I want. For example, I chose three cardigans that are all the same style except for the print. I only wear one of them (because the others don’t match with anything). Instead, I could get rid of the extra two cardigans and buy a neutral sweater that I could wear with literally everything in my closet, allowing my outfits to go way further. 

8. Basic is best. I’ve always been into colorful clothes and have avoided wearing black as much as I can, but having a basic black dress has changed my life (seriously). I can wear this dress to any outing and always feel great in it. This dress looks amazing with a pair of sneakers, or I can dress it up. No matter how I wear it, I always feel good in it because it’s so classic. It feels timeless, which I’m into more than trends. 

9. Lastly, I don’t feel like I’m trying. So often I’d go to some event and I felt like I had to try so hard to dress right and fit into whatever scene it was. Now, I just wear what I feel like wearing, and what represents me. 

Overall, this project has allowed me to feel comfortable in my own skin and be free to be me.

6 things 6 months of marriage has taught me.

It's a day shy of our six month wedding anniversary and oh my, does time ever fly. We're getting way better at this marriage thing, and each day I can honestly say I wake up more in love with him and more excited for a lifetime together. But, I will say, there have been difficult moments. Here are six things I've learned through six months of marriage.

1. Marriage shows you your selfishness. 

    I never thought of myself as a selfish person, in fact, pardon me for saying this but I always thought I was a very selfLESS person. But no, marriage has shown me how selfish I am, which is actually a really great thing, because selfishness is a horrible trait to have. Marriage is not about you, it’s about the person you’re married to.

2. Marriage is really fun.

    Obviously, duh, but I had some fears about the whole marriage thing, and the stats aren’t great. So far, every one of my fears has been proven wrong. Marriage is fun for a million and a half reasons, and more. So much of marriage is how you react to one another. You can choose to respond in frustration when you are really tired, or you can choose to respond in laughter and silliness when you’re really tired. 

3. Find your “thing” together.

    Life happens really quickly, and it’s been so healthy for us to find our “thing” together. Now we have certain days where we do certain things, and they are something that, each week, we look forward to. For example, Sunday afternoon sushi dates, or evening walks in the park. Being able to share our traditions together, and make new ones, allows us to reconnect, no matter how busy the week has been. 

4. Protect your marriage.

    If you don’t protect your marriage, it’s easy to let things come in the way of it, and I’m not talking about the big things (like cheating or affairs), I’m talking about the little things. The little things where you don’t realize at first how detrimental something may be. Whether it’s comparing your marriage to other people’s marriages in a negative way, or keeping white lies from one another, or showing contempt to one another, these are all things that can cause great damage over time. So protect your marriage. Get rid of anything toxic, including toxic thoughts.

5. Marriage is like surfing.

    I’ve only ever surfed once and it was really, really hard, so perhaps this is a bad analogy, but marriage is like surfing in that marriage comes in waves. There are hard times, there are happy times, there are boring times, there are exciting times, there are all of the times that are going to happen in life and that therefore happen in your marriage. You just have to ride it out. Ride out the hard times, whether it’s something you’re dealing with, your spouse is dealing with, or you’re dealing with together. Ride the waves. Things get better. 

6. Marriage is about embracing one another’s differences. 

    I remember one day telling my husband that I wanted him to make the bed a certain way. It was probably after I had told him that I liked the kitchen a certain way, the living room a certain way, the bathroom a certain way, and the car parked a certain way. Instead of being annoyed at me, he replied, in all of his gentleness, “ya know, I think you’re more type A, but I’m more type LMNOP.” Recognizing our differences as a good thing, and embracing the other person’s differences, has only strengthened our marriage (and allowed me to have a lot more fun, too). 

Every Color of the Rainbow

Death, it haunts us.
We cannot fully understand it, we may not ever be able to understand it, but we do know Life.
 
Life is where You and I exist.
Life is where You and I intertwine.
Life is where You and I and Us and Them float through moments, good and bad, painful and joyful.
Life is where each day we have the choice to live a life of legacy.
 
Sometimes, though.
Oh, no. Sometimes, though, the choice is taken from us.
Death comes too soon. Life is robbed. Life is taken. Life is
no more.
 
It doesn't make sense to me.
The colors of the rainbow form after the storm and are celebrated.
But why not before the storm?
Why is it only in sadness we stand up for what we believe in?
Why are we too afraid to make change and stand up for Love when Love is hard.
Or challenging.
Or complex.
Or different.
Or beautiful.
 
Because Love is Love is Love is Love and
Love Is Beautiful.
The colors of the rainbow are beautiful.
Each one of us are beautiful.
 
I don't want to waste a second of my life when in a second my life could be gone.
I don't want to waste a second of my life hating or judging or being too scared to stand up for someone because of my own self-gaining pride.
I don't want to waste a second of my life only hoping things will change.
I want things to change.
Now.
I want to change things.
Now.
I want to live change.
Now. This day and every day.
 
Because life is too short.
Life is too short to turn a blind eye or ignore injustice.
 
Death, it haunts us.
It haunts the ones still living,
mourning for those no longer with us.
Wondering what their next day could have been like,
had they just been given another day.
 
You and I and Us and Them,
we're all different.
But we're all the same in that we all deserve love.
Each one of us.
Love that surpasses all hate, all condemnation, all judgements, all contempt, all ignorance.
 
I don't entirely know how we achieve this Love.
Except that,
I can start in my own heart.
And you can start in your own heart.
And we can start, and they can start and here is where change will live.
 
We can erase the hatred in ourselves.
We can be humble and love ourselves.
We can allow ourselves to be vulnerable, even when it hurts.
We can drown our egos and see another Human Being as Ourself.
We can love those hardest to love.
 
Somewhere in this universe of particles floating around,
there is a Pure Love.
Somewhere in this universe of particles floating around,
there is no hatred.
 
There is You and I and Us and Them and every color of the rainbow.
And on this Pure Love planet, colors exist to be celebrated.
Colors exist to be loved.

To slow down.

Life lately has been… sweet. 

A few weeks ago, or maybe it has been a month, I’m not entirely sure as I’ve lost track of time, which has been a really wonderful thing. But a few weeks ago I dyed my hair for the first time in seven or eight years and I cannot even describe to you the joy I’ve felt not sharing about it online. It’s so trivial of me to admit this, but I cannot deny the fact that social media takes over so much of our lives that to not post something online seems more absurd or peculiar than to post something. Not that my hair matters at all, because it doesn’t, but it’s a representation of something greater, perhaps. The fact is, every single dot detail of our lives is posted online and it’s been drowning me, quite literally. It’s been a few weeks since I stopped using social media, and life just feels… sweet again. 

I don’t know if it’s that I’m a romantic, because I think not, or if it’s that I’m more nostalgic, which I know to be true to a fault, but I get giddy imagining the days before cell phones existed. Remember when we’d go to the park and lay in the grass and be blinded by the sun and run away from bees? We’d roll down the hills and interlock arms and I’d write about you in my diary, all day long. I like to imagine conversations where google doesn’t exist but instead, encyclopedias and old, dusty books and running through library stacks trying to find you. The thought of two souls connecting over words–real, spoken words–with quizzical looks, shyness but clarity. And sometimes I’d end the conversation when I realized who you really were. It would be years later when I’d block you, when before, I only needed to change the coffee shops I frequented, and oh how magical it feels to discover a new, quiet spot to get lost in. 

Still, I cannot hate what has brought so many together. Like the first time we facetimed and I was so damn nervous and none of this would exist if it weren’t for phones being able to solve long distance woes. I don’t particularly find it romantic, thinking back 60 plus years ago, writing letter after letter, only to receive one months later, and a call costing a weeks worth of pay, oh no, I find it exhausting. But I do find letters romantic now, because letters are difficult. Letters take time, thought, effort and diligence. Letters mean I was thinking of you enough to stop my busy day, sit down at my desk, get lost in memories for a few moments, and even buy a postage stamp. Letters mean you walked to the post office and licked the envelope shut. Letters mean you’re really still thinking of me in that slow, sweet way, in a world that demands rapidness. 

Time floats on. I have twenty thousand photos sitting in my dropbox that I’ll never look at again because excess, excess, excess. So the other day I printed seven photos and taped them in my journal so I would never forget those moments. And if a fire were to happen and those pages were to burn, I suppose I’d scroll through those twenty thousand memories, angry at some for resurfacing and remembering ones long forgotten. Or maybe, maybe I’d simply take your hand and tell us to live new memories, and to not worry about the ones burned, for whether they physically exist or not, they exist because time exists and the past, though we cannot access it, is somewhere in those swaying trees. Our voices running through their roots, waiting for the universe to make sense of itself. Trees telling stories, whispering secrets to one another. They quiet themselves when I enter the forest, for they know that noise isn’t good.  They know that in silence there is breath. 

Project 333

Alright, so here it is, Project 333. Like my last blog post said, I’m posting all of this as a way to keep myself accountable. I went on a self-help “kim intervention” writing spree last night and this morning I woke up and suddenly realized that today was the day to follow through. 

Project 333 is basically where you choose 33 items that you wear for the next 3 months (this includes clothing, accessories and shoes). It does not include things like work out clothes, lounge gear, underwear, etc. Once you choose your 33 items, you put everything else in a box and you hide it away for three months. Sounds crazy, right? It is crazy, but I think there are a lot of perks to all this craziness. You can read about the full project here:
bemorewithless.com/project-333 

I’m doing this project for a few reasons. First of all, I need to declutter my life. This means decluttering my mind, but also my closet. I’m not just trying to jump on the minimalist trend, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. For me, my own personal minimalism project isn’t a trend but a lifestyle I want make permanent. I have so much stuff and it’s honestly amazing how little of my possessions I actually need or even use. Allowing myself only 33 items means that I will be saving money, saving closet space, saving time getting ready in the morning and saving myself from asking that god awful question every morning of “how is it I have so many clothes but nothing to wear?” I don’t want to spend my mornings deciding what I want to wear. I want to simply get dressed, feel comfortable and put together, and move on with my day. I want to declutter my life, and it starts with my closet. After 3 months, who knows, maybe I’ll keep going and rotate to a new set of 33 items (or maybe I’ll just donate everything else). 

Another big part of doing this project is that I believe there are simply too many clothes in Western society. Advertising trains us to think that we need much more than we do, and that we’re only going to look cool if we buy each and every trend. I haven't fact checked this, but I read something on the Internet that said in the 1930s, women only had 9 outfits. That is crazy to me because I think I probably have 100 outfits. I’m not proud of this. The majority of my closet is poor quality clothing that probably comes from a sweatshop by laborers who are severely underpaid and working in horrible conditions. I’m not proud of this at all, and so what I can do to take a stand against this industry is to simply stop buying.

Three months, that’s it. It can’t be that bad.

Here are my 33 items I've chosen:

- 5 pairs of shoes
- 3 dresses
- 2 long sleeve shirts
- 6 sweaters
- 6 tees
- 2 skirts
- 5 pairs of pants
- 2 neckerchief scarves
- 1 belt
- 1 watch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things I did not include in my 33 items but I'm keeping out:

- my wedding ring and jewelry (I hardly wear any jewelry. If I do, I rotate between two necklaces). 
- I'm keeping out a pair of shorts in case it gets hot enough in Seattle to wear shorts, but otherwise I won't need them.
- I'm keeping out running shoes, hiking boots, rain boots and flip flops (I consider all of these to be activity shoes, which I don't wear often, but need every now and then).
- I also kept out coats (again, they are activity coats that I may need through the summer, but not necessarily).
- like the Project rules say, I also kept out PJs, work out clothes and lounge wear (like hoodies and leggings).

So maybe I improvised a little, but for the most part I think I kept pretty bang on with the rules.

Here are some before and after photos.

I went from 15 dresses to 3:

10 long sleeve shirts down to 2:

13 sweaters down to 6:

23 t-shirts (notice I didn't even have room to hang them all, and some are doubled up) to 6:

14 pants down to 5:

5 skirts down to 2:

And here are the rest of my clothes, piled on top of one another, so it actually looks like a smaller pile than it is, that are all going into a bin and into the basement closet:

Here is a before and after of my entire closet (keep in mind that loungewear (etc) isn't included in this photo, so I still have a lot more items, and I also didn't include any before shoes because that would be a nightmare to look at): 

It's only Day 1, but I already feel like I've learned so much! Here are some things I've learned:

1. I thought that choosing 33 items would be really difficult because I wouldn't feel like I had enough clothing. Turns out, I had a hard time finding 33 items that I truly wanted to wear for the next 3 months. Here's the catch: before I even looked in my closet to begin the sorting, I made a mental list of 33 items I love. By doing this, I figured that I would only really choose things that I TRULY loved, as opposed to things I only loved after I remember they existed. I was able to come up with 33 items in my mental checklist, but then when I went to purge, I actually swapped a few items out (they were too impractical) and then traded a few more things in (like basic tees). I think the hardest part is mental: thinking 33 items won't be enough. Here's my challenge to you if this project sounds freaky: don't do the challenge, but instead make a mental list of 33 clothing items you cannot live without. I'm guessing you most likely can't remember 33 items, so maybe it won't be as hard of a project for you to try after-all :)

2. I don't like the majority of my clothing. I actually felt a huge sigh of relief when I realized I wouldn't have to stare at certain items in my closet anymore. There are a lot of items I've kept because they are nice even though I don't like them. I've felt guilty for not liking all of these items and so I've kept them. The reality of it is, just because you get rid of something doesn't mean it wasn't nice or that it was worthless. These items served a purpose, and now it's time for them (and me) to move on. I'm starting to realize that maybe these items would be better donated and adored in someone else's closet, rather than sitting in my closet making me feel uncomfortable. 

3. I have way too many clothes, and I actually feel like I have the least amount of clothing compared to most of my friends. Again, doing this project made me realize that there are a lot of items I don't wear anymore. Why am I holding onto a dress that I wore two years ago? Sure, it's a nice dress, but I have other dresses that I'll always choose over those dresses I haven't worn in years.

4. The project isn't as scary as it sounds because you aren't actually getting rid of anything. So for those with big attachment issues, don't worry, you're only putting things in a box and out of sight. You still have them if you really need them, but you may as well try this experiment once. What's the harm in it?

4. My style has changed. I think I've struggled with accepting this because I've wanted to hold onto a certain image of myself, but truthfully, that image of myself is no longer me. I'm starting to realize that (for example) Forever 21 just isn't my style anymore. There are a handful of items in my closet that have been worn to death, which is great, but it's okay to let go of them now because my style has changed. They worked for me when I was 13-25, and now it's been years since they stopped working for me. I've been scared to let my style evolve because I've been afraid of it becoming boring, but by letting go of my old style, I've suddenly realized there is an entire new world of "grown up" clothing out there that I actually really do love, and it's not boring! Suddenly I'm not craving the latest $10 trend, I'm craving a coveted and well made $200 jacket that is much more simple and will last me years. It's design is classic and the quality means it won't fall apart next year. In fact, if I stop buying cheaply made trend clothing, I can instead use that money to save for something that I am obsessed with and will be lasting. Saving money for certain things is a great learning lesson, and an exercise in patience (which my slightly OCD and impulsive self could really use). 

5. I thought that by choosing only 33 items, I'd look boring for the next 3 months, but this isn't true. This morning I did my typical "I have nothing to weaaaarrrrrrrr ughhhhh #$@(*!." Feeling overwhelmed by the amount of stuff in my closet, I opted for jeans and a t-shirt. I then looked in the mirror and said to myself, "boring." There were simply too many options in my closet that at only 8am in the morning, I was exhausted by having to make a decision and instead of choosing something that would inspire me, I chose the simplest no-brainer option. Some people look amazing in jeans and a t-shirt. Some people just are jeans and a t-shirt kind of people. I'm not, though. So instead, I decided to start Project 333 this morning and went through my items. Once I had my 33 items, I put together an outfit I would have never thought to put together and I honestly felt great in it. It didn't take any more work, it was just having less options in front of me, where I could quickly say, okay this will go with this and this. There, done. BOOM. New outfit. Not boring. 

And so, I accept this Project 333 challenge. Wish me luck. 

 

How to be a better Me.

Lately I’ve been feeling…off. I guess that’s the word. I haven’t felt at all like myself, and it’s simply too embarrassing to document my behavior other than saying that I’ve been acting like a crazy person. I finally decided it was time to kick this funk in the ass, and get my act together. I call this, the Kim Intervention, or, steps I’m taking to be a better me. These interventions happen often (though sometimes not often enough), take some serious soul searching, often end with me in a puddle of tears and page after page of handwritten notes, but they also leave me feeling refreshed and like a whole new person. It’s amazing what happens when we simply stop and listen to our hearts on a daily basis. Unfortunately, I don’t do this on a daily basis. Until now (I hope).

 

So, here’s my guide to being a better me. I’m documenting this, publicly, well, sort of, for those who read my blog at least, because I want to hold myself accountable. I’m almost twenty-eight (oofda) and I’m tired of making excuses.

 

1. No more social media.

    “Okay, what? This is crazy! You are a photographer! You can’t be a photographer and not be on social media! Your career practically depends on social media.” I had this epiphany the other day where suddenly I realized that I was a PHOTOGRAPHER not a social-media-tographer. Lately, I can’t stand photography. That’s the honest truth. But after some deep soul searching I realized that I really do love photography, it’s social media I don’t do well with. I love photography because I love to create and I love personal expression. I love photography as an outlet. I’m an emotional person and I spend a lot of time in my head. I used to dance to get my thoughts out, I’ve always written to get my thoughts out, and in my early twenties, I began to take photos in order to get my thoughts out. That’s what it’s always been for me. Personal expression. Personal freedom. Social media, unfortunately, for me, is detrimental to my creativity. I want to say one thing: I don’t hate social media and I think it’s a really beautiful and powerful tool. But for me, and my personal life, I can no longer do social media. I read my journal from two years ago (and then the one from two years before that) and my goal is constant and clearly written on far too many pages: spend less time on social media. 

    Social media eats at my soul and my heart. I don’t know why. I don’t know why some people are fine on social media but I am not. I’ve always considered myself a fairly confident and happy person, but somehow, social media has turned me into someone I do not like. Social media has caused me to compare myself to others. I hate to even admit this, but social media has also robbed my bank account. I see so many photos on Instagram every day of women wearing these cool outfits and the next day, I go buy them. How gross of me. Why have I become so insecure that I absolutely have to have what everyone else is wearing? Who cares! Why do I care about what other people think of me? Why can’t I just be me? I’m so tired of thinking about how I look all of the time because of social media. You know what else is weird? Before social media, when I just took photos (and also selfies), I didn’t really care about what I was wearing or how I was presenting myself to the world. After social media, suddenly each and every morning I think about what I should wear and how I should present myself to the world, just in case someone snaps a photo of me and posts it on social media. That’s so messed up of me. It’s so vain and selfish and gross of me. So I can’t do it. I can’t compare myself to others, and I also can’t care about what other people think about me. It’s been eating at my soul: one that is generally care-free and very invested in the present world. Social media is also addicting to me. I can’t control my habit or put time limits on myself. I’ve tried, but I’m an addict, so, I have to cut it off for now. It causes me to think unhealthy thoughts and quite frankly, it’s now wasted brain space for me. 

    Yes, it’s going to effect my work. If I’m not posting on social media, that also means that not really anyone is reading this blog post of mine. But that’s okay with me. As much as I love to share what I create, I am ten times more happy and ten times more creative when I’m just creating for me and not for others. I feel free to be me. I feel free to express myself how I need to. I just am, ME. As for client work, thankfully, I can disconnect client social media work from my own social media work. I’ve started writing for this company in the UK (which is amazing!) and they post what I write to social media. But that doesn’t mean I have to post on social media. That’s the beauty of work. I get paid for it, so I do my job, I work really hard at it, I give them the best possible piece I can, and then I move on. There’s something about creating stuff for companies verses creating stuff for my own account. I don’t struggle in that area. I can create stuff for other people’s social media because it’s contributing to something and someone else, ya know, but when it comes to my own personal stuff, I don’t need to post about it. I’m fine with it. Right now, I want to work with companies I truly believe in and help them become the best company they can be. I don’t need any recognition for the work. If I’m passionate about it and believe in it, that is more than enough for me. 

    Yes, I will miss out on stuff. Yes, my exposure will go down which may mean I even miss out on job opportunities. But maybe it just means that my beliefs aren’t in line with those types of companies anyway. I don’t want to do anything half heartedly. I’m either in, or I’m out. The moral compass inside of me is just too strong. 

 

2. Drink water.

    This seems like a no brainer and also like a new years resolution, but for me, it really is a matter of life or death. I’m not exaggerating here either. A few months ago I had one cup of water in two days and by the time I realized it, I was surprised I was still functioning. I don’t know if this is a “thing” or not, but I strongly disliking the act of drinking…anything. I’ve heard it all, too–“drink lemon water, or put strawberries in it, crystal light, drink tea…” Trust me, I do, I do all of this. I even have water bottles I rotate through (some with straws, some with sippy lids, some that you unscrew) so that drinking doesn’t become tedious and I surprise myself and for a few minutes I go, “oh, this feels nice! Maybe drinking isn’t so bad after-all!” But then after a few hours I forget and I won’t drink again until the next day. It’s weird. It’s also very first-world of me, very privileged of me. Water is not something I take for granted. I know how lucky I am to have clean water, hot water and free access to water at all times. I just wish I could get water in me without having to drink. I also don’t drink juices, coffee, alcohol, you name it. I just don’t like drinking. Eating, on the other hand, I love eating. But for now, I really need to focus on drinking water. It makes my body happy and my mind happy and my body and my mind will always thank me for this. 

 

3. Walk your dogs.

    I don’t actually walk my dogs. My dogs walk me, and for this reason, I think everyone should own a dog. I am happy to sit my lazy ass in front of the TV for five hours but I could never cause such boredom to my dogs, so I take my dogs for walks, or rather, they take me for walks. And for that, I am forever grateful for Clementine and Scout. Walking is also good for my body and mind, and again, my body and my mind will always thank me for this. Oh, and I need to keep taking my vitamins, but I’m already pretty good at that, I just don’t want to forget.

 

4. Declutter your life, specifically, your closet.

    For months now I’ve been reading about Project 333 (which I’m going to try). I’ve also read countless articles (both online and offline) about this minimal trend and about how cool neutrals are. I’ve always fought against neutrals, simply because I *love* color, but you know what? I *hate* clutter. A cluttered house means a cluttered life means a cluttered mind means chaos. I can’t work if my house isn’t clean. I also can’t think about my really important to-do lists for the day when I’m staring at a closet full of things, over half of which I never wear (but keep telling myself I’ll wear on the right occasion). Welp, no surprise there, the occasions never happen, in fact, never in my life have I been invited to a garden tea party and I’ve only ever been on a sailboat once. Minimalism isn’t a trend, or at least it shouldn’t be. Minimalism is practical for so many reasons: you save money; you save brain power from making superfluous decisions about what to wear instead of the really important decisions later on in the day; you save closet space; you save time, and my time is oh so precious to me; and therefore, you save yourself from frustration and become happier. I’ve read a lot about how the human brain can only make so many decisions throughout the day, whether big or small, and so things like choosing what to wear are actually interfering with the really important decisions you have to make later on in the day. Whether it’s true or not, I whole-heartedly believe it for myself, so I need a uniform. Yes, maybe this means sacrificing some of my love for color. After-all, neutrals are so much more versatile. Neutrals are also less busy and therefore less cluttered, so I think I just need to accept it. And hey, I can keep a few pops of color here in there throughs things like shoes and bags. Decluttering my wardrobe (and slowly my whole home), is simplying my life. I like to think of it like this: the less I have, the more space I have to breathe and feel and live and dream. 

 

5. Pray and mediate, every morning.

    I’m hoping this will be an easy habit to jump into, considering I won’t be spending the morning in bed on my phone looking at social media. I’m a feeler, and I need a lot of introspective time, and I know praying and meditating do wonders for me. They keep me grounded, they keep me focused, they remind me of what’s truly important in life, they humble me, they put my focus towards others, they allow me to have more faith, they allow me to let go of control, they really are wonderful things. The allow me to be a much better person throughout the rest of the day.

 

6. Write, daily.

    You know, I really do write, a lot, like, a lot a lot. But I don’t write daily. I tweet daily, but that doesn’t count. I really want to write every single freaking day. I started writing a book last month, a novel. An actual real novel. But it sure isn’t going to write itself unless I keep writing even when I don’t feel like writing. I also love writing because it means I get to spend time alone, and I’m a bit of a hermit, just me and my thoughts, we tend to do well with one another when we’re both nurturing one another. Writing also is a brain detox for me. And while I’m not trying to belittle my spoken voice, I truly can express myself better through writing than speaking, so I know it’s important for my heart and soul to keep writing. In fact, if I can write all of my thoughts out, I am able to speak better throughout the day. I am less distracted and more direct. It’s a win win for everyone.

 

7. Eat from the earth.

    Food is something I’m really passionate about but I also don’t talk too much about because I don’t like to be preachy. Food is something I categorize into the same topics as politics and religion, both of which I like, and both of which I do not generally discuss unless I feel safe with you, because again, I often am tongue-twisted and things are taken the wrong way. I’d much rather just write you a letter. But anyway, food. A few years ago I developed chronic idiopathic urticaria (aka: the worst full body hives you can ever experience that happen to you for no explained reason at any given time (often, the worst times)). But I’ve discovered that, Hippocrates said it right, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine by the food,” and I’m not just talking about allergies here. When I eat well, my body (and my mind) are on top of the world. This means eating whole foods, not processed foods. I’m not vegetarian, nor am I vegan, and honestly, this is something I really struggle with on a daily basis because I am not into the meat industry (for various reasons). The truth is, I have tested my body, and my health deteriorates so quickly when I don’t get protein from animal products. I hate to even say that because in my heart, I am vegan, but I haven’t been able to find the vegan cure that keeps me healthy (and I try really, really hard). I have so much guilt about this that I’ve never really discussed this with anyone. I feel bad about not being a vegan, and I will always continue to try and be one, but for now, I just have to give myself grace, try my best, and know that I am not perfect. The point is, eat from the earth. Eat naturally. Eat whole foods. Let food be thy medicine, let food by thy life. 

 

8. Work on your identity.

    This is my last thing, to define myself and to ask God who he defines me as. For a long time I have defined myself by what others think of me. I’m a people pleaser, so I end up sacrificing a lot of my core in order to meet the expectations of others, but it’s simply not healthy. It causes me to create a person I am not. Lately, I can’t even remember why I like taking photos or what it is about photography I like, and so I want to spend some time working on this identity of mine, and re-falling in love with my passions, and being okay to not like certain things (and not feel bad about it either).

 

So, that is me in a nutshell, at least in terms of where I am at. This might be my longest blog post ever. I’m not going to tweet about this or Instagram or Facebook or anything. I’m just going to leave it here in my quiet spot. My happy spot. My quiet, little blog spot. I’m going to leave it here and use it as a way of keeping myself accountable. 

 

I am so thankful for this life I have been given. Today as I was reading through my old journals I thought to myself just how blessed I have been, especially these last few years, including now. It’s humbling to know that someone out in this universe is taking care of me and giving me things I don’t deserve. I want to serve God better. And I really want to be me better. There’s only one of me. There’s only one of you. Let’s be the very best version of our own selves because our own selves are the best we can give to the world, and the world needs that.