Minimalism has a tendency of finding a way into every aspect of life. Once I started experiencing the incredible freedom that comes from simplification of things like developing a capsule closet, scaling back skincare products, or scanning and recycling heaps of paperwork, I became more aware of when things in other areas of life were unnecessarily complicated and burdensome.
When it came time for a kitchen declutter, the shift first occurred physically, in my pantry and cabinets, removing expired items, excess storage containers, and way more silverware than I could actually utilize. Soon after, my attention morphed towards an observation of how much management and resources my actual food and eating decisions were demanding of me. Once I started analyzing my habits within the realms of grocery shopping, meal planning, prep cooking, recipe development, food waste…it turned out that I was quite inefficient in the kitchen and I was spending a tremendous amount of time, and money, doing something that needs to be done every day, eat! I realized it was probably a good time to optimize my daily menu.
There is intentionality in my minimalism, and when I moved recently, I went tiny, or, I should say, tinier. With each move I’ve made since 2016, I have chosen to live in smaller and smaller quarters. Of course there was also a period of time prior to 2016 that I lived out of a suitcase for my job and stopped having a residence at all, but that’s a story for another day! As far as abodes go though, my latest move in 2021 gave me the smallest kitchen yet. While the overall square footage of my 2020 studio was smaller, the kitchen was much, much larger.
Historically I have always chosen a larger kitchen where I spend more time, and find a smaller cozy living room, or tiny bedroom where I literally only sleep, totally acceptable. I have been known to convert walk in closets into bedrooms on multiple occasions to maximize the rooms I spend my waking hours in. So now my kitchen was the size of closet and had very little counter space. When it comes to prep cooking I usually take up alot of room. I pull everythingggg out and leapfrog between recipes. Toss veggies for roasting over here, multiple cutting boards for chopping veggies for everything from raw consumption to soups, stews, salads, and smoothies.
Speaking of multiple cutting boards, breaking up with kitchen supplies was as hard as it was with my art supplies. These were the 2 areas it took me longest to downsize in my minimalist journey. I had to go into big observation mode and use methods like putting items in a box in the back of the closet for 3 or 6 months just to realize I don’t actually use that thing that I kept holding onto “just in case”. In our consumer culture it is so easy to hold onto things because we spent our hard earned money on it, or it was gifted, or I might host a dinner party with 20 people someday. Finally I decided that if these things weren’t happening on a consistent basis, I was holding onto a fantasy, not reality. Plus, there are solutions for those one offs, borrow items from a friend or neighbor, buy compostable serving dishes, get items from your local buy nothing group and then re-gift them when you’re done.
Refactoring the way I cooked and prepped also meant I needed to consider a few additional factors. For one thing, I didn’t want to sacrifice flavor, but I also didn’t want to own every spice known to humanity. I love simple yet layered flavors, and bringing out the natural flavors from fruits + veggies is better than most over-flavored sauces and dressings in my opinion. I’m a big fan of Samin Nosrat’s basic principle of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. I decided that I’m ok with having a few combo spices such as “Curry” as opposed to owning one of every spice that makes up curry seasoning, or having an Italian Blend, instead of having a separate shaker of oregano, marjoram, thyme, basil, rosemary, and sage. To each their own, but I’ve found that this works for me to have more flavor and less clutter. Plus, I tend to keep live herbs so I can just pluck some of these fresh off my plants.
Finally, there was the health factor. I have definitely gone through stages of eating healthy and eating junk, but I’ve recommitted to my health the past few years. 2016 wasn’t just the year I began moving towards minimalism, it was also the year I was diagnosed with a chronic illness. I’m not one to lie down and take it, so I decided right away that I had to do everything in my power to combat my diagnosis. I am a firm believer that movement and nutrition are the most powerful healers there are so I had to make some serious lifestyle changes in order to remove the disease and the symptoms it was hurling at me from my body. I have been extremely successful with this and will share My Thyroid Diet on another post soon, but the real kicker was the pandemic.
When I was first diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, I got sick ALL the time. I had chronic fatigue, endless joint pain and muscle aches, constant chills, dysfunctional levels of brain fog, and on and on. My body could not regulate any function and had no ability to heal on its own from the slightest assault. If something was going around, I got it. Even when nothing was going around I just kept getting sick and sucking at living. Being healthy my whole life prior, this was devastating. I could barely move, or think, or function. Everything hurt and I was miserable. I was genuinely concerned that I would no longer be able to work and for the first time in my life, felt threatened that I would stay sick enough to no longer be able to support myself, and I have no one else to fall back on. I don’t have family ties and I am single. It was a really, really hard reality I was facing, like looking down the barrel of a gun.
When Covid kicked in, I was fairing pretty well and had pulled myself out of the deep mire, but I was still in a job with no work life balance, working extreme hours to try to keep up with my job duties. When I work alot of overtime I tend to forget to hydrate and make poor nutrition choices. Then my body starts to revolt and I feel the inflammation kick in, which triggers the gut to get disrupted, and a myriad of symptoms start to flare up. I was managing it somewhat because I began to recognize those symptoms earlier and earlier and would make shift changes to try to counteract developments, but I was definitely not at peak health prior to going into quarantine.
In March 2020, like so many others, I did not know what to think of this illness that was suddenly in front of us all. Wash your doorknobs and stay away from each other was not exactly comforting. I was worried that my health was not strong enough to combat whatever this Coronavirus was. So I did the only thing I could do, get back to my personal health commitment. I got back into my daily superfood smoothie habit and started prioritizing exercise again. This was another layer to catapult me further into a sustainable wellness ritual with optimized kitchen efficiencies.
All this and more to finally develop the tastiest, most nutrient dense overnight oats one could only dream of, but dream no more, this vegan, gluten free delight is here in the 3D!
2 C Oats
1/4 C Pepitas
1/8 C Chopped Nuts
1 C Coconut Flakes
1/4 C Chia Seeds
1/2 C Hemp Seeds
1/2 C Raisins
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Ginger
1 tsp Almond or Vanilla Extract
1/2 C Pumpkin Puree
2 C Vegan Mylk
Yields ~ 10 Cups
❊ Save Half the Mylk for Topping Off ❊
✷ Mix Ingredients in a Large Mixing Bowl Until Moist
✷ Fill Jars 2/3 with Mixture
✷ Put Lid On and Shake Vigorously
✷ Remove Lid and Top off with Additional Vegan Mylk until jar is Full
✷ Leave in Fridge Overnight
✷ Pour Mixture into a Bowl and top with Fresh or Frozen Fruit
Enjoy for breakfast or a snack then go Slay The Day!
I am planning to read 12 books around financial independence in 2022, 1 per month, and am going to host a book club to discuss the book of the month on the 4th Friday of each month. I am in California, USA, and planning to do this from 7-8:30pm PST. If you can make it, DM me your email address and I’ll add you to the google cal invite! The books I’ve chosen are in the next image. Hope everyone is ready to claim abundance in 2022! 💸
For my 2020 goals – I put something on there I couldn’t completely control. I wanted to hit a specific number on my credit score. If you have ever looked into this topic you know this is mainly in the hands of the 3 major credit score companies, and even they don’t agree. Then there are all the new spinoffs like FICO and Vantage Score, so why would I try to make this a goal?
As my financial IQ has increased, I see ways I could improve this area, even if I didn’t have total control of it. In 2015 I made a commitment to be debt free. In 2018 I discovered the FIRE movement. I started crushing my debts and learning about personal finance. The momentum was building. Why not make this goal? It’s not like anything bad would happen if I didn’t accomplish it. Worst case scenario, it would just plateau or grow more slowly than I’d prefer. No big deal. At least it wouldn’t go down because I was finally making smart financial decisions. No way that could happen with all of the positive forward momentum I had…right?
In December 2019 my credit score had just hit 700. I made a goal to hit 800 by December 2020. It seemed like it was ticking upward pretty quickly in spite of my former delinquent years with my successful course correction. I had all of my payments automated, no more late fees, I was becoming solvent. Let’s do this. I was pumped!
I checked it every month and it increased every month as expected. January 713. March 748. May 764. “Oh!”, I thought, “I’m going to hit this sooner than expected”. June 738. Wait, what? OK. I took out an interest free credit card to transfer the remainder of my car loan balance. Just a snag. We’ll be back in a minute. Yep, back to going up. August 766. October 769. By December it was back down to 762 because I paid of the car loan and the account fell off my history. I also paid off the zero interest credit card that I transferred the balance to. I don’t agree with the math behind these systems because the way it formulates negative points for good behavior like paying off a loan, but whatever. I didn’t hit my 800 but my score went up 62 points in 2020 and that was still fine by me, so I decided to try again for 2021.
Of course now I am starting with 62 more points than the year before with the same goal so I bump it up to 825 for 2021. Seems reasonable, right?
January 789. OH. OK. Nice start. So I get confident and forget to record the next few months. May 753. UGH. What a blow. I bought a new property, and did a cash out refi on my other mortgage. FINE. I decide to ignore it again for a few more months. I’m too busy crushing goals to babysit this thing, and I know it will come eventually. I’m going to break 800.
Once in a while I check in. It’s up. It’s down. Minimal changes are happening in this yoyo period, like 3 or 4 points each time. The annoying part? It’s on that line between good and great or great and excellent. So I have a glimmer of excellent and then it falls back again. You’re excellent! You’re NOT. Don’t look at it. Just put it away and hope for the best.
Finally I gain traction again in September, 763. October 789. “Wow!”, I think, “I may really hit 800 this time!” I look back on my notes. Right. I had 789 in January when I started so I’m just back at square one 10 months later. OK. Come on home stretch, give it to me this time. It’s just 11 little points. Please!
Then I look at my New Years Goals. Oh Yea. I upped the anti to 825. Well. Hmm. I have no idea if I’ll hit 800 or 825 but here’s to mega manifesting. Can you please send some good juju my way?? Girl just wants to get in that 8xx zone already!
There are 2 more updates before the end of the year. Do you think I’ll hit 800? 825? Somewhere in between or not even close? Would love to hear your bets!
ps Prior to taking control of my finances circa 2015, I had a very low credit score (in the 300s for a while), delinquent loans (went through a loan rehabilitation program), and delinquent credit cards (creditors called me on the reg). If you think this isn’t possible, I’m here to tell you it can be done. Keep reading. Keep learning. Keep stashing. You got this!
Want more ideas about New Years Resolutions? Check out: New Years Manifestations
About 5 years ago I changed my phrasing from “New Years Resolutions” to “New Years Goals”. This has served me incredibly well. It took the stigma off of “Resolutions” – popularly perceived as something you say but don’t do. This flip of terminology gave it a different meaning to be something more attainable based on personal goals that I was already working towards. It felt more achievable, and since that flip I tend to accomplish 90-95% of the goals I defined by the end of the calendar year.
I do a quick check in each quarter, and in June I do a full audit to see if I need to recalibrate or re-prioritize anything on the list to make sure each goal is still relevant and attainable. There is nothing wrong with pivoting if something you wished for is no longer serving you. Life is a continuous self-discovery and the only thing that is important is genuinely listening to yourself and overcoming any fear or anxiety that is keeping you from that level of authenticity in your outward life.
I have multiple sections, or categories, that each get their own short list of goals that I want to achieve. I try to keep it “realistic” in terms of quantity and attainability, but I am also a big believer, and proven experiencer, of Manifesting, Alchemy, and Law of Attraction. This has played a huge role in my achievements as I’ve dialed in on that over the past few years.
This year I am updating my language again, to encapsulate the Manifested life I want to achieve in the upcoming year. Some of the things I put on my list the past 2 years I considered “stretch goals”, and some of the things on my list I had no control over, like a specific credit score number that I wanted to hit. Not only did they come to fruition, they came forth even grander than I could’ve predicted. I know this was a bit of a combination from my manifestation practice, as well as a little naïveté or doubt of what I was capable of accomplishing, or perhaps, simply not dreaming big enough. So it felt more appropriate to upgrade this practice to New Years Manifestations. Huzzah! Let the magic unfold!
I started doing categories in 2018 and this has been a work in progress, but the intent was to simplify so it doesn’t become this endless unattainable list. With categories, I can pick 2-3 things per category and it isn’t overwhelming because they are usually related to the greater good of that category. In 2018 I called it Health, Hearth, Heart. If it didn’t fall under one of those categories then it wasn’t worth recording because those were the areas I wanted to focus my attention in 2018.
In 2019 I think I forgot about my categories in a way or maybe I just got really statistic focused because my list is shown as quarters: Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4. I think this is where I started feeling the call to have regular check ins with myself so not to fall into the well known trap of going all in for January and then throwing it all out the window by February. I wanted to make sure I was holding myself accountable. This strategy is also great for breaking things up into bite sized chunks which can prevent overwhelm if you have a really big goal to hit by the end of the year.
I should mention, I start drafting the resolutions for the upcoming year in November and solidify in mid December. This gives me ample time to consider if it’s something I genuinely want or if it is fleeting. As my practice develops, my goals tend to compound over time so this process has been getting easier each year.
For 2020 I reverted to the category idea but I only had 2 main areas that I wanted to focus heavily on: finance and fitness. I also had a monthly travel plan that was adjunct to my goals, but did not make it onto the actual New Years Goals List because I decided to clump it into the finance section. You need money to travel right? Of course that was all squelched with the pandemic, however, it actually catapulted the financial goals I had on the list. It worked out in unexpected ways, particularly with improving my discipline around budgeting and cash flowing my adventures as opposed to going into debt for them. 2020 was also the year I became consumer debt free and I wouldn’t trade that accomplishment for anything.
In 2021 I really finessed the category concept and I may repeat this for 2022 because it still resonates with what I want to put my attention on: Finance, Wellness, Creative, Travel. I decided to make travel it’s own category because it is much more than a budget line. Travel gives me life. It is a spiritual experience for me in many ways. Immersing in other cultures and interacting with the incredible humans on this planet, especially where “old world values” still thrive and people aren’t inundated with commerce the way we are in the US, is affirming as a global citizen of this planet. To witness humanity at its finest, participate in genuine community, dance, break bread, and share laughter is everything. Simply put, I feel more human when I travel, and this is a huge relief to my sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, among many, many other benefits.
Wellness will always be on my list moving forward. Historically my self care has been the last of my priorities but no longer. You can not fill from an empty well. I will give to myself first in order to better serve the world. This comes in many forms and will focus on all things mind, body, spirit. Run a race every quarter, practice meditation, optimize nutrition, keep a gratitude journal…these types of things are crucial for a life well lived.
On this blog you will see that the Finance section is under the Wellness category. This is by design. Financial wellness is a part of that larger equation. If you are stressed about money or your future, it is harder to care for your body and your mind. Financial stress can deplete everything, above and beyond what a spa day could give you. Sure, with meditation and affirmations you can rise above but that is easier said than done. Coming from the deep, dark poverty that I was raised in I can say first hand it is hard to even consider mediation when you are straining to put food on the table or keep shelter over your head. There is a difference between thriving and surviving, and surviving doesn’t leave room for much else. The pursuit of financial independence is a wellness practice as much as a self preservation practice. Since it is more tactile and nuanced, however, I give it its own category for a New Years reset.
Whether you call it New Years Resolutions, Goals, or Manifestations, it is a great practice for personal growth. If you miss and it’s still important you can try again. In 2015 I was in burnout, I was scatter brained, and I felt lost. I made a resolution for 2016 to “Simplify My Life”. That was it. That was my only resolution that year. I dove all in and you know what I found out? Things had gotten pretty complicated. In order to actually simplify my life, I had alot of things to close out and re-prioritize. I made the same resolution for 2 more years before I felt like I had accomplished my goal. And I have no shame in my time frame. Persistence is the key. It’s not about checking something off a list, it’s about growth. Pure and simple.
I hope seeing my process and structure is helpful and gives renewed hope that New Years Resolutions do not need to be flighty or fantastic. It’s just an aid for designing your life to be exactly as you wish it to be. I’ll be digging into my 2022 Manifestations soon so stay tuned. What are some resolutions, goals, manifestations you want to energize next year?
I was a late starter and have made a complete 180 in the past few years after I had an aha moment. I was struggling and feeling my age and health issues creeping in and started to not be able to keep up.
First I read Rich Dad Poor Dad to get some financial IQ and found it fascinating because while I expected a boring finance 101, it is more a narrative about money mindset and what we initially learn and build our actions around depending on the wealth we are or are not born into.
Richest Man In Babylon is another good read and also available as audiobook, free on YouTube.
Soon after I read these I discovered the FIRE Movement which largely focuses on Index funds and/or real estate, typically. Vanguard is actually member owned so their rates are lowest, and Jack Bogle (vanguard founder and philanthropist) was the one to create the Index fund solution, which holds a broad range of companies. This is best optimized through IRA, 401K, and HSA since they are tax advantaged accounts and lower your tax burden. The trick is to optimize the accounts through indexing after the money is initially added to them. I learned late that if you work for yourself you can contribute to 401K as both the employee and the company owner. When I was freelancing I always thought you needed a jobby-job for 401K, but nope.
Using mint.com to get real with my spending and expenses was unexpectedly eye opening. I thought I was frugal but I found lots of holes in my spending, so I developed a budget which in itself was liberating, and allowed me to increase my savings rate, even when I thought I had no room to budge. Next I started using Acorns to round up my pennies every time I swiped for purchases. This was extremely helpful when I didn’t have anything to spare for savings. Seeing this account grow was really motivating and eventually I was able to increase it to save $20 / month then $100 etc. Combining this with checking my mint account to keep an eye on mindless spending (even if it was cheap stuff) really helped me re-prioritize.
What I like about the FIRE movement is you don’t have to pay an advisor who typically skims the top and takes so much more than you realize, all for something you can do yourself with some self directed edu. Once you learn the basics it’s not as daunting as it seems and it’s pretty straight forward. If I can learn it, anyone can, as cliche as that phrase is, it’s genuinely valid. I had no clue, came from extreme poverty and was placed in the system at a young age. This journey has been very enlightening. It’s surprisingly accessible to all walks of life, but it is definitely not mainstream knowledge.
Some really helpful podcasts, websites, and IG accounts that have helped me immensely are below. All are BIPOC and/or Women Owned.
HerFirst100K + Financial Feminist
Millennial Revolution (insightful at any age)
A Purple Life
Our Rich Journey
Rich + Regular
The next step in my personal journey is to learn more about sustainable investing. Ellevest is created by women for women and has tons of free resources on their IG FEED, and the ETF “VOTE” is supposedly driving activism through their investment platform.
Even before getting into investments, HYSA, High Yield Savings Account – is a better way to save. Building a 3-6 month emergency fund is an important step to protect your future and keeping it in HYSA will grow your stash. Rates were much higher pre-pandemic and are taking their sweet time getting back up to those rates. but currently CIT, Amplify, and Chime are doing well. You can get an HYSA at many credit unions as well. Here’s Nerdwallet’s Report for 2021 HYSA.
Nerdwallet is a good way to stay informed, and Investopedia is a great learning tool as well.
A few notable Nerdwallet articles:
Learn how to invest in Black-owned businesses and green companies.
LGBTQ Financial Planning Guide.
I know this is a lot of info for a primer but it’s worth the rabbit hole to be able to course correct and give yourself a real safety net. I hated money my whole life until my body started to break down. At the end of the day I have come to believe that money is a tool, or an energy. It isn’t inherently evil or inherently good. I got tired of not having enough to share and felt like I was only hurting myself in the end.
While the system is undoubtedly fckd, there are strategies that allow people to ethically help themselves and help each other. I try to focus on using monetary energy for good, growth, charity, and community.
Everyone deserves prosperity.
Take A Moment.
Speak A Mantra.
Reset Your Mind.
Speak And Repeat.
Say It Now.
I Am Abundance.
I Am Infinite.
I Am Life.
I Am Light.
I Am Love.
Wherever you are on your journey
even if it is day 1
or just starting to take your first step
whatever your journey entails
you are not too late
you are not too far behind
you are not inferior
you are deserving
you are amazing
you are love
you are a force
you can do anything
I planned to do a zero waste and no spend year for 2020. I was moving into my own place near Lake Merritt in Oakland and ready start the year fresh with goals I had been taking baby steps on and was now ready to fully submerge myself into.
Like all well laid plans and new years resolutions that year there was a bit of a disruption to most people’s plans when the pandemic hit and we went into quarantine. I tried to stick to my goals but the first few months was such mental gymnastics that I decided to focus on less lofty goals and just focus on my mental and physical health until I could concentrate on how much waste I was producing with a clear head.
Despite the fact that the media was reporting a few weeks of quarantine, I knew immediately in my gut that it would go much longer than that. While I still knew very little about the nature of the issue at hand, it was just that gut instinct that told me I needed to focus on my mental health and emotional wellness and prepare to be in quarantine until the end of the year.
Of course we ended up with more than my instinct could’ve bargained on by the end of 2020, and here we are about to enter the last quarter of the year of 2021 and I’m just attempting to consider some of these former goals. I’ve been steadily chipping away but I’m ready to go all in again.
In order to organize myself, I wanted to put some focus on the area where I notoriously break my budget. I am still nuancing the numbers between groceries and take out to create a budget that is realistic but still frugal enough that I can put that “extra” money towards savings and investments.
Before you judge me for being too harsh on myself I’d like to point out that this is exactly how I finally became consumer debt free in August 2020. I find frugality challenges to be fun and healthy and I don’t deprive myself. I always make sure to budget for fun and flexibility. A budget isn’t a punishment and.in fact, it gives you way more financial freedom than life without a budget which only results in endless debt. Debt is the real prison. Let that ish go. Becoming debt free is liberating AF and 100% worth the sacrifice, speaking from experience.
In addition to controlling finances, I also want to have zero food waste in my kitchen. Currently I compost and am pretty good at doing “pantry challenges” when things are getting close to expiration, but I still have let some food rot by not being mindful and intentional of all of my purchases.
The other perk to using this staple grocery list as my guide is that I have found that I was getting burnt out on trying new recipes all of the time, and instead have been leaning into creating mouth watering versions of my favorite recipes. For example, I started making overnight oats last year and fell in love with this easy, quick, and healthy recipe. I tweaked and perfected it for a year and a half and now it is so incredibly easy and delicious, and works great for breakfast and for snacks. I want all of my main recipes to be that yummy that I would desire it for any meal any time.
SO for the categories – the ones that are a general category, like “fruit”, can be rotated as long as I have 1 in inventory at any given time, like “strawberries”. If it is shown as a specific food, like avocado, then it means I must have avocado at all times and can not be subbed for any other food in it’s category. Yea, I have a few obsessions, avo being one of them! A slash means “or” at time of purchase, but if I already have one and I am still within my budget for the month, then I can purchase the other on my weekly shopping. For example, Stubbs BBQ lasts me a while since I only make BBQ Tofu occasionally, so that doesn’t prevent me from gettings Salsa on my next shopping trip.
Surprise! Turns out I can not pick only 5 vegetables and have double that on my rotation. What are rules for other than to be broken! The good news is these never go to waste. I am obsessed with all 10 of these foods. Plus I am just not going to skimp on the most important food group. Fiber, micronutrients, macronutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals – all inclusive, what’s not to love? I’ll take this category in abundance thank you very much!
While most of these are year round staples for me, there are a few wild cards on there that are seasonal so I’ve focused on preparing for the upcoming fall and winter season for those types of warming seasonal foods. Perhaps I’ll update this going into next spring and summer where something like watermelon tends to be a staple for me in the summer season as opposed to root veggies and pumpkin everything.
What do you think? Are there any items on this list that you think are gross, excessive, or downright must haves for your list? What are your die hard staples that you can’t live without?
I am just *crushing* this month already, boyeeee!
It’s worth stopping, acknowledging, and celebrating! I am so pumped at my own success that I wanted to use this energy to share some inspo with you! Manifestation is simply the process of bringing about events and experiences through the energy you put out into the world. We all have the power to do this, it’s all about mindset. Here are 10 quotes to get you stoked to take action and manifest the life of your dreams! 🧚
- “Where attention goes energy flows.” ~ James Redfield
2. “If you can dream it you can achieve it.” ~ Zig Ziglar
3. “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
4. “Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it.” ~ Maya Angelou
5. “Thoughts become things. If you see it in your mind, you will hold it in your hand.” ~ Bob Proctor
6. “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” ~ Albert Einstein
7. “Whether you think you can or can’t, either way, you are right.” ~ Henry Ford
8. “To accomplish great things we must not only act but also dream, not only plan but also believe.” ~ Anatole France
9. “Your life is the manifestation of your dream; it is an art, and you can change your life anytime that you’re not enjoying the dream.” ~ don Miguel Ruiz
10. “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
You have the power!!! I believe in you!
I was turned down for a mortgage for 3 years straight before I bought my first property.
I kept asking questions. What does one need to be approved for a home loan? What do I need to change to be approved? How can I get there? What can I realistically do to achieve this? Can I actually even do this?
I grew up dirt poor and had no role models or financial IQ. All I ever knew was survival mode. I thought I was really financially responsible because I always paid my rent and utilities on time, a result of being evicted and homeless throughout my childhood. I always kept that money saved and never dipped below that balance. However, I was completely financially ignorant. I’d like to say that the worst of it was that I carried large credit card balances but that isn’t even the tip of the iceberg.
I went for years without even paying a DIME to my school loans…and it was intentional. I was mad. I took out so much money for school and living expenses to put myself through college, but I couldn’t even get a job in my industry, and I was at the top of my class. I graduated not long after 9/11 so the economy was junk, and then I gave myself a bigger challenge by moving to Austin which was still a pretty low key town at the time, especially coming from a big city like Philadelphia. So I couldn’t find work, went back to waitressing, and stayed broke. “Why should I pay these loans that did nothing for me? Credit? I don’t need credit because I’m anti-capitalist and anti-consumer so who cares about credit?!”
Very idealistic and naive, yes oh yes, beautiful youth. I’m still anti-consumer but as an entrepreneur minded person I can’t quite call myself anti-capitalist. Growing up in desperate poverty I had always followed the implicit tenants of money is evil and convenience is the enemy, but in truth, money is a tool and it’s just in how you use. It is also an energy, so it doesn’t have a singular essence. Again, it’s how you use it. You can assign it to good or evil. You pick. Further, that is banter created by the patriarch to disempower the masses.
So, how did I turn this ship around? First and foremost, I gave myself an education. I was already in my 30s when I started to hear myself say, “I’m so sick of being broke and constantly struggling financially. I’m smart and able but I literally can’t work any harder to get ahead. There has to be another way.”
It was true, I was working my tush off. I would work months on end on shows that would load in at 6am, work all day setting everything up, then breaking it down after the show and getting to bed at 2 or 3am. I would do it again the next day, and the next, sometimes with no days off for weeks or months, and then sleep for a week. How could I break the negative financial cycle and get some work life balance? What was I doing wrong? The answer, in short, was everything.
I didn’t know how to save. I didn’t know how to invest. I didn’t know how to manage debt. I didn’t know how to negotiate. As far as the banks were concerned, I was crap on paper. So I began by cleaning up my credit score which started in the 300s. I got into a credit rehab program with the school loans that I had neglected. Trust me, that was painful. If you get only one takeaway from this blog, let it be to take the initiative to thoroughly educate yourself about compound interest. It can make you rich or it can ruin your life. In my case, it shoved me down a large, deep, dark financial hole, and it was very hard to climb out.
I made it my mission to find ways to pay down my debt. The interest that had accrued in the 10 years I let my school loans simmer, made what I owed nearly twice as much as what I had started with. The only difference about my anger towards this debt was that it had become self directed. Now I wanted to have a good credit score so I could have access to buying a home, or access to capital to potentially start a business, and I knew that the reason I didn’t was entirely my own fault. What I learned was that I had written myself out of options and had to start from scratch as a middle aged woman to get myself on track.
From then on out it was just consistent laser focus on #GOALS. I stopped eating out so much, and drinking as much, stopped shopping mindlessly, and started to learn how to create a functional budget. I learned (and was shocked) about my actual spending habits by building and studying my budgets in MINT. It took a couple of years to really get it right through alot of trial and error. Not gonna lie, it was a big learning curve. When you think you’re responsible because you pay your rent on time and you don’t buy expensive things, and then you start looking at the actual data and categorization over time which causes your eyes to bulge and your mouth yells, ” I spent how much on what?! HOW!?” To my surprise I found out I wasn’t frugal like I thought I was, I was just cheap. Chump change adds up quick when you start collating. Once I was finally able to lower my spending on useless CRAP and pay off my debt with the #debtavalanche method, I was eventually able to invest.
I started with ACORNS which was perfect for someone in my shoes because I had VERY little to invest, not nearly enough to meet the minimum requirements of investment platforms like Vanguard, Schwab, or TD Ameritrade. I also still had a TON to learn about investing as I had only gotten as far as teaching myself about crushing debt and following a budget. I was still in the theory stage of investing and not really clear how to get into that. In fact before I even invested formally, I let Acorns take round ups from my daily purchase swipes. I am not exaggerating when I say I did not notice this at all. It made zero impact on how much money was in my bank account. It was so seemingly miniscule that I didn’t even look at my Acorns account for the first 6 months. When I did I was amazed to see that I had saved several hundred dollars. This feature is brilliant and was definitely a turning point for my progress. I kept taking one baby step after another. This is attainable. It takes educating yourself, but dang that internet sure is generous with sharing information.
Women were not legally allowed to have a bank account until the 1960s. They didn’t get the right to have a credit card in their own name until 1974. That is only one year before I was born. And that was white women. Black Women and all People of Color didn’t have it handed over as easily, just look at what happened to Black Wall Street in Tulsa, OK. Still today, systemic racism is so bred into our institutions that black homeowners have to have a white person stand-in and pretend they are the owner just to have their home appraised for what is actually worth. The disparities have been 10s of thousands and even millions of dollars. So, if you want to call someone a sellout for wanting to achieve financial control for themselves, I’m here to tell you that no one is getting one over on “the man” by staying broke and hating money. That sentiment is just part of the plot.
I decided I wanted to have enough to share because being opinionated and preaching to the choir wasn’t really gaining traction. I started to imagine what my childhood would have been like if I had been born into financial security, not rich per se, just secure. Where would I be now? Would I have followed my ambitions with direction and certainty instead of spinning my wheels like I had for so long? I went into deep contemplation over several years to battle some very deep seeded ideologies I had built around money. Along that journey I also had to learn that you must fill your own cup to be able to give fully. So now I am working on setting myself up for my future while simultaneously increasing donations to organizations that make a real difference with ACLU and NAACP, as well as contributions to IndieGoGo / GoFundMe campaigns for as many people and causes as I can. I also love supporting local businesses that pay a living wage and use sustainable products. That kind of money isn’t evil at all. It is a force for good.
10 years ago I would never have believed how quickly you can turn your finances around with a few simple tweaks and awareness, or that I would even be debt free in my lifetime. I hadn’t even started thinking about that 10 years ago. It has only been 5 years since I purchased my first property and I still had quite a hill of debt when I did so. Now I am consumer debt free, own 2 properties, have 2 retirement funds growing (401K, IRA), and a 6 month emergency fund. More importantly, I know I’m on a secure path, and my morals are very much still in tact, enhanced actually. I want you to know there is hope. There are methods. There are programs. It is never too late to start. I believe in you.
*I am not a financial advisor. This is my personal story. I believe in hope through education and relentless determination.
Every morning I do a priming exercise that allows me to energetically connect to loved ones that could benefit from some healing energy. Energy is always moving, always recycling, always shifting. It’s such a great opportunity to share what we have on a cellular level.
Just like depression spirals downward, positivity spins upward, lifting us in its path. It’s easier said than done, but with concentration and focus, if you can keep your mindset healthy, the rest of your energy will flow in that direction and clear the path of mental, emotional, and physical stressors, which all lead to disease. The mind body connection is very real, scientifically proven, and extremely crucial for our wellbeing.
You can heal from anything in this regard. There are countless studies of people visualizing themselves into wellness, so many incredibly miraculous stories, even dissolving tumors through this practice. It is still hard when you are in pain, or are dealing with a dire situation. So that’s where the old adage comes in, I get by with a little help from my friends.
For friends and strangers, this morning practice allows me to tap into shared energy and use it for good. Not only do I send this energy into the world around me, but I benefit from it as well. It is much more pleasant starting the day this way when compared to how I used to wake up, running late and having to rush out the door, cursing my way to work, scrambling to get my act together. This new improved routine took a lot of practice, but it’s all about priorities. I wanted to prioritize having a healthy morning routine before the day goes wild. I wanted to design a beautiful life and not feel stressed and discombobulated all the time. Giving energetically in this way allows me to feel accomplished and connected before I’ve even walked out the door.
In addition, when we give, it can take so much of our own struggle away. This is a tried and true method. If you are struggling, consider sitting in a meditation that focuses on sending healing energy to others. The priming exercise I like to do that keeps me focused on healing for myself and others is this Priming Exercise.
You are strong, resilient, and unstoppable. I love you so much!
Nothing cements your #GOALS like making a commitment.
I officially signed up for my first race since moving to the #BayArea and falling off the race wagon. My last race was Cloudcroft, NM 9.5 miler in 2019. My first and ONLY half marathon was the Austin Half in 2017. My longest race to date is Sky Island 25K in West Texas. I did not race in 2020 for obvious reasons, but I also fell off my training pretty much completely. So it’s time to get back at it!
I will sign up for a few smaller runs leading up to this, and hoping to find a solid trail community in the East Bay. I’m not really into road running, but the Golden Gate Half seemed like a good entry to being an official Bay Area runner. I love a good iconic event, plus it’s the 20th anniversary of the race so it should be a fun one.
What goals are you setting out to crush in 2021?
Manifesting this life to be the life of my dreams! Everyday you have the opportunity to begin anew. What are your dreams, your goals, deepest desires?
I never accepted my chronic illness. I’m not a proponent of prescription medicine, but more than that, I missed myself. The energy and clarity I had before this shift. I decided to do whatever I needed to do to regain my health.
Movement has helped more than anything. I’m not naturally motivated but I know my “Why”. I want to enjoy my body while I have it, while I can. I think about what would happen if I lost a limb, or my sight, or something worse than I’ve already lost? Experiencing brain fog and crippling fatigue was already uncomfortable enough; I don’t want it to go any further. I was sick of feeling pain and discomfort all day every single day.
Not only was it not getting better, it was getting worse, and it could be far more drastic if I were in an accident or just allowed myself to continue to age in a lazy pattern.
So I decided movement is the only way out. I can eat healthy all day but without pairing movement the benefits were limiting. So now I run for my life. I spin for my life. I dance for my life.
I’ve added a run or bike ride everyday after my kinrgy workout. My brain fog is gone. I have more energy than I’ve had in 5 years. I always feel better after sweating, guaranteed.
Let me assure you I am an amateur! I run slow. I take my time. I stop and take pics or when my dog has to pee. I gave up on my stats. I run or bike for 30 minutes a day right after Kinrgy workout. That’s what my schedule allows and following my schedule has made it more accessible. You don’t have to be a pro athlete to get the benefits of moving your body. You just need to do something everyday.
I started with 5 minutes. When I was super unmotivated I said ok just go for 5 minutes then you can go home. 95% of the time I felt good after 5 minutes, better than when I started. So I’d say ok another 5 minutes, and then another, just going with what felt good. It’s a natural progression. I’m not racing. I’m enjoying the wonders of my body’s progression. The body can do more than the mind allows. So you have to trick your mind until it learns the rewards.
This is your life and you deserve to feel good. You deserve to feel great. The choice is yours.
I love you. I believe in you. You got this!
HAPPY 2 MONTH ANNIVERSARY
Exactly 2 months ago – once and for all – I found MY WHY and transformed, literally overnight, into a morning person. ☀️
To be fair, this personal development has taken years and countless failures and rebounds, but as I described in this post, I did have an immediate transformation that sealed the deal for this morning routine once and for all. Find your why and you can develop a morning routine like this too!
~~~ Here’s The Breakdown ~~~
5:30am Wake Up Walk Pup
I used to shuffle out of bed and whine, or more realistically, hit the snooze button 82 times, but now I usually jump up a minute or 2 before my alarm goes off. This is how my energetic rockstar pup @VenusVegaDlux wakes up too so we go right for a quick squat after heading down 4 flights of stairs from our condo in the sky.
5:45am Brush Teeth
After Venus relieves herself, I brush my teeth. Not in the street, silly! We went back upstairs already. I use a Philips Sonicare electric toothbrush. Sorry I’m not on that obvious minimalist #bambootoothbrush tip, but I have crappy teeth and I need a workhorse to keep these dudes happy. I need to figure out how to recycle the heads like they do in Russian supermarkets, but at the moment I extend the life of the used heads by using them for cleaning or painting projects. I change them quarterly so I’m only a bad person 4 times a year. I’ve had this toothbrush for about 6 years now so at least the body is lasting a long time. I also love it because I can travel without the charger and the battery lasts over a week. The charger is tiny so I’ll bring it if I’m travelling longer than a week.
5:50am Rose Water Amethyst Facial
I never gave myself facials even when I was sleeping in, not even at night. Truth is I was notoriously bad at self care. I just figured if I’m going to be awake this early I should give myself something to look forward to and I came up with this little gem. It’s so easy I do it with my eyes closed, literally.
The first step actually starts with clearing my nasal passages. I’ve been doing this ever since the Pandemic started as a way to cleanse so it’s a vital part of my daily routine now. I use Now Activated Nasal Spray and it really is a game changer. Since I do breathing exercises in my morning routine (priming and meditation), this gets all that gunk out of the way ahead of time. Inflammation seems to be worse in the morning for me so it helps to start off with this cleansing routine. When I sought this product out, I was not even sure it existed. Years ago, 2004 to be exact, I was traveling in Brasil and started to feel a nasty cold coming on. I was at Copacabana Beach with a gal I met from Italy, and she literally told me to snort the ocean. As much as I was dumbfounded by what she was suggesting, she was dumbfounded that I didn’t know about this. Her grandmother showed her when she was a little girl and they’ve been warding off colds for generations this way. I did it. It was awkward, and totally worked. I got a head rush, felt the salt water drip down the back of my nasal passages, and the cold symptoms completely vanished. This spray is the next best thing if you can’t snort the ocean every morning.
Next I do a quick cold water rinse on my face and pat dry. Then I take a cotton ball and clean my face with TN Dickinson’s Witch Hazel. (I compost the cotton ball). Next I spritz my face with Rose Water. Did you know that food grade products undergo far greater regulations than topical products? Your skin is your biggest organ so anything you put on your skin should be no worse than anything you eat, but the industry doesn’t work that way. Rose water products are on trend and you have the price tag to prove it. Topical beauty products not only cost more, but they have other ingredients that are hard to pronounce (aka bad for your health). I’ve always had a 100% natural skin care routine and I’ve had nearly flawless skin as a result so I don’t buy into that beauty market ish. Save your dollars and your skin and get some classic food grade Rose Water and put it in your own spritzer bottle. Cortas was my go-to but I think they are onto me because the unit price has gone up so I’m trying this one by Sadaf next. I bought these bottles from Amazon for my DIY products.
Finally, I use this Amethyst Roller. I know Jade and Rose Quartz are all the rage but I’m a diehard rebel and an amethyst gal. I’m still moving everything around that needs to be awakened so I love this thing even if I’m not trending. I keep it in the freezer so it feels incredible to roll over my fresh dewy morning skin. I also roll over my thyroid to help keep her functioning well. Cold therapy has been one of my #1 tools in fighting inflammation, and inflammation is the source of all disease so if you can keep that at bay, you’re winning.
5:55 am Lemon Water
Right before my workout, I drink 20 ounces of water with a tablespoon of lemon juice. First thing in the belly and great for the gut! It’s hydrating, starts you off with a burst of Vitamin C, balances your PH, produces collagen, stimulates the digestive system, is renowned in Ayurvedic medicine, and so much more. Check out this Mind Body Green Article for more info on the health benefits. I was making my own fresh squeezed for a while but peeling lemons was not my jam and a bottle of pure, organic, lemon juice is actually not very expensive. I decided to pay myself first and free myself from this particular chore. I’ve been using Sprouts Organic Lemon Juice for a few months and it’s perfect. There are ZERO additional ingredients other than organic lemon juice and currently retails at 25 cents per ounce. I’ve also enjoyed Lakewood and Santa Cruz Organic Lemon Juice. All 3 are high quality, affordable, and last a long time in the fridge.
By far the highlight of my morning! I love waking up to dance and elemental connection. The Kinrgy method uses movement, breathwork, and the 4 elements of Earth, Fire, Water, and Air to center you and give birth to your own distinct expression. This was another gift I gained from UPW and it brings me incredible joy and energy to start my day. The guides are incredible and weave poetry, activism, and soliloquies into the workout which is an incredible bonus. I’m so so grateful for this daily practice.
Next I do TR’s Priming Exercise, which helps bring focus and intentionality to my day. I also use this time to send healing energy to people that need it, and visualize my future vision of and for myself.
I do a 10 or 15 minute morning meditation. I can not express what a huge impact this has been on day. To start feeling this grounded and centered is something I haven’t experienced regularly since my career took off. I’m so happy to feel back in my body this way. I’m OBSESSED with @RoxyTalks. I have been wanting to do a video series of my spoken word poetry and some mantras that I’ve written and her style is almost exactly what I envisioned for that project. Roxy is A VIBE. Right now for the morning sesh I’m mostly toggling between Self Love Affirmations and Positive Morning Affirmations, but really all of her meditations and affirmations rock so just pick whatever jives with you.
7:15am Walk Pup
Venus just had a quick pee when we woke up at 5:30am so now we go do the real business.
7:25am Cold Shower
YES. I am actually doing this. I listened to Melissa Urban‘s podcast Do The Thing Ep 34: Cold Showers with Ed Sheeran and a YEAR later still had the anything but that mentality. After visualizing the worst case scenario of how my body would continue to decline, continue become harder to heal, continue to become stiffer and more painful, if I continued to not DO THE WORK to cure myself, I finally got smacked in the face that time was moving on without me. I refuse to live the rest of my life in a sick or suffering manner. I’ve come too far for that. So I started with baby steps, 2mm at a time, 2º at a time. By some standards my cold shower is still a baby step but it is serving me and I’ll do it in my own time. You should too. You make the rules. You design your life.
My method is I take a warm shower for 3 minutes and just enjoy it, then I use my 1 minute timer on my watch and shift the water temperature just past the middle where it’s just below luke warm and a little colder. For the second minute I move it another 2 degrees colder. That’s it. 2 minutes of cold water. I jump around and sing and howl and I’m SO ALIVE afterwards. It has flushed my inflammation and brain fog down the toilet! I don’t want to be sick ever again, so I put my full mind and intention into this 2 minutes. I am here to thrive. I am here to live a beautiful life.
7:30am Celery Juice
I drink 8 ounces of celery juice while I air dry. I’m currently doing an experiment to figure out how much celery I need to prep to juice 3-4 days in advance. Remove the barriers preventing you from your good habits. I don’t squeeze lemons and celery at 6am. I do it ahead of time, usually at night. I just bought Suja Celery Juice for the first time so I’m going to try that out this week and compare it to my fresh squeezed Celery Juice. I upcycle my Synergy Kombucha bottles to prep my celery juice in advance, so I’m currently measuring this all out and calculating in order to honor my time if I can. I know Suja isn’t JUST celery so I’m thinking on that, but I’m not totally against it either. Again, I’m still in the research stage. I’ll probably land somewhere in a combo style.
7:35am Coffee Time
The big reward! My morning really flows. Although it sounds like a lot, I’ve removed barriers and made these steps as easy and seamless as possible so I wouldn’t get discouraged and give up. I feel so accomplished at this point that a warm cup of joe with creamy nutpods is the perfect gift to soak it all in. I am taking a break from my superfood coffee recipe. I was using Laird’s for a while but they all have sugar in them and I’m not about that life. Sugar will ruin you inside and out. If there is only one change you make in your whole life, quit sugar.
*Stay tuned for Superfood Coffee recipes, although it may just have to live on in my smoothies if I don’t come up with a good solution.
* Check out Ritual De Cafe
7:35am Read Morning Brew
I’ve been reading Morning Brew as my daily news burst for about a month now and it’s absolutely perfect. I love how succinct and witty it is and I can get a quick daily digest before I get whisked away into my day. I get briefed on the latest 24 hour activity of the stonks, world news, politics, vaccine updates, and even surprises like bypassing the waiting list for @Masterworks. Check out my post on my recent purchase of Yayoi Kusama’s Pumpkin, 1990 and my Masterworks membership.
HMU if you want a link to Morning Brew. It rad.
8am Slay The Day
YOU KNOW WHAT I DO. GO SLAY!
Setting intentions for the month of May. Also how is it already May?
What are you getting after this month?
Setting intentions for the month of May. Also how is it already May?
What are you getting after this month?
Setting intentions for the month of May. Also how is it already May?
What are you getting after this month?
Remember, you are the designer of your life, not the manager.
You, and only you, have the power to make a change.
What is more frightening, venturing into the unknown, or living the rest of your entire life unhappy and unsatisfied, always wondering “what if”?
Satisfaction is alive and well on the other side of fear.
Be brave. I believe in you.