Sunday, September 30, 2012


I’m afraid of moving out on my own again.
I’m afraid of accumulating material things.
I’m afraid that I won’t pay attention.
I’m afraid that I’ll spend beyond my means.
I’m afraid of getting stuck in a career that makes me sick from stress.
I’m afraid of being tied down to things I discover aren’t for me.
I’m afraid of missing the things that count.
I’m dead serious about letting go of my fears.

I want you to stop wasting time with things that don’t matter.  I’m dead serious about this for you as well.  That’s the bridge between knowing and doing what you need to do. Minimalism is easy in the beginning, becomes difficult after the first buzz of confidence and excitement wears off, and is much easier over time, so you stick to it. Be patient with yourself and have confidence.

Most people that become minimalists were climbing the corporate ladder to accumulate things, only to realize that they’re no happier than they were before buying that stupid vase, or those skinny jeans.  Do it for the right reasons. What’s the money is for?  What is this paycheck REALLY for? For me, I need to find this out before moving out again.  I don't want to feel stuck, paying for a lifestyle that's not for me.
Small signs of progress.  I’m starting to see areas of simplicity and joy:

I’ve been sleeping a little better since revealing my evening and morning routines.  My daysconsisted of exhaustion, ruminating thoughts, procrastination and stress.  It felt like I was freaking out ALL day and that wasn’t healthy.  Cutting out the TV at night and instead, doing the things I enjoy- such as reading and sitting in silence, stops the desire to stay up till 2AM. Eliminate one major TV watching session has made all the difference. 

The morning routine starts the night before.  What you’re evening look like?
Streamlining of my work day will come next....

Sunday, September 23, 2012


I've been ruthless about the things I've had to discard. 

My Big Baby Taylor guitar has been with me for 8 years and while I learned a few chords, I never got much further in the learning process.  Despite knowing that I didn't want to learn how to play anymore, I kept it hung proudly.  Everytime I paid enough attention, it felt as though the Big Baby was calling me a failure, when that wasn't the case.  It's called acceptance.  So, I began asking myself whether now was the time to scale back my hobbies (none of which have been mastered).  I posted the Big Baby on and sold it to a great musician, but it's not entirely the right time.

 The next round was suppose to be about narrowing down hobbies to the one that counts, but besides cutting physical items, streamlining my cluttered schedule, which also has blocks of unmoveable/regular mandatories, must come first.

How can I streamline my weekday routines, so I can include things I enjoy?  A few days go, I took a snapshot of my workweek by tracking everything I did starting from my arrival home after work (this is where bad habits begin, which adversely affect the next day).  I also listed the REASON for the activity so I can later decide whether it stays or goes.  I'm not naturally organized or disciplined. I'm on autopilot all day, don't plan ahead and take it all as it comes. This is bad for even the most organized person, so something has to change. Before reading about my day, here's an interesting video on how to break a bad habit:
 Here's 24 hours:
  • Get home from work at 9pm (might need to streamline work day)
  • Go straight to the livingroom (want to relax asap)
  • Sit with coat on (too tired to remove)
  • Watch tv (desire to unwind/do something light-hearted)
  • Talk with family (otherwise, I'd only see them on weekends)
  • Continue watching tv after family goes to bed (I want to relax alone)
  • Remove coat (desire to be more comfortable)
  • Turn tv off at 12:35AM (trying to have a life and not go straight to bed)
  • Procrastinate bedtime (worry about to-do list for work tomorrow)
  • Go to my room/remove coat (coats in room so it feels like my own apartment)
  • Turn on computer/read blogs (trying to have a life and not go straight to bed)
  • Strip clothes/no pjs (too sleepy to put on pjs)
  • Go to bed at 2am (trying to have a life and not go straight to bed)
  • 7:10am shower (to feel less shitty)
  • Pick skin (desire for clear skin)
  • Lotion body (so my skin won't get tight)
  • Put on underthings/jeans (it's getting cool outside/nothing else to wear)
  • Try on a couple of shirts - (desire to be taken seriously by the intern, especially because my boss talks down to me in front of her)
  • Settle on a shirt (stripes make me look smart)
  • Braid my ponytail (to hide my dry hair texture and split ends)
  • Apply makeup - (to hide scarring from picking skin)
  • 5 minute meditation - (stop mind from racing/calm myself)
  • Put coat on in my room (so it feels like I'm leaving an apartment)
  • Purse (same reason previously stated)
  • Go downstairs (I need the money from work)
  • Complain about work to uncle- (this is a cry for help)
  • Drink a glass of milk quickly- (I guess it's better than drinking water/don't feel like eating b'fast and chatting)
  • Complain about work again- (another cry for help)
  • Hug my uncle goodbye (to apologize for complaining. It's not his fault)
  • Walk to the bus - (take the longer, scenic route to be around more people and boost mood)
  • Sit in the bus and write this  (me time/sanity)
  • Sit in train and write this (me time/sanity)
  • Write to-do list for work - (for ease of morning)
  • Buy breakfast- (I didn't sleep much, so I better eat so I don't passout or something)
  • Get into the office...

AFTER WORK. The cycle continues...
  • Abruptly leave the office at 8pm (again, I might need to streamline my work day)
  • Take the train/nap (desire to relax immediately/accidental)
  • Take the bus/nap (desire to relax immediately/accidental)
  • Get home
  • Sit in the living room with coat on...
Going through the above, I immediately noticed that I must do the following:
  • Write to-do list at my desk before leaving the office
  • When I get home, I need to get real and hang my coat by the door
  • I stay downstairs until everyone goes to bed because, in the end, I want alone time.  I need to go straight upstairs for a shower and pjs.  Reading, writing, and meditation are the real ways for relaxation.
  • I must get up early enough to have breakfast with my family. 
  • I must remember to be thankful
Let's see how these small routine adjustments affect the next few days...


Monday, September 17, 2012


Last week was such a flop.  I really let my nerves get the best of me and I wound up holding on to much more than I anticipated, so this morning I ravaged all the nooks and crannies that hid extra junk, pulled out more pictures and documents and scanned them into my computer.  My family seems to be on my side despite their belief that minimalism won't travel into every aspect of my life. They said I'll still over-pack for vacations and have uselessly fabulous clothing to struggle with. 

They're laughing now, but I envision them joining the party soon because they complained about how much stuff they've accumulated over the years. :)

Sunday, September 16, 2012


I don’t own as many material things as others. I don’t have a livingoom or a kitchen, or guest towels. I am the guest, but on the other hand, I am like a lot of others in the respect that I have things that are difficult to let go of.  Things that I associate with my identity and my past.
This week took so much more effort, I’m surprised I’m writing tonight.  I wanted to give up just like I do with anything and everything else, but I can’t this time.  Every time I felt anxious or my stomach turned, I threw something else away – whether it was an old bunch of notes, a trinket, or keychain, what have you.  I had to keep going (momentum is very important).  I’ve learned that I can do anything if I just stick it out.  If I threw one thing out, I will have accomplished more than I have last week.  
So, I looked through all of my items throughout the work week without actually purging much until the weekend, which caused a lot of anxiety.  Once Saturday morning came along though, I was ready to see how the next round would go. Through the nerves, anxiety and lip-biting, I managed to purge myself of the following:

·         large jewelry dresser

·         workout bench and 8lb. weights

·         costume jewelry

·         last of my school notes

·         Box of assorted photographs

·         Box of momentos (concert tickets, football passes, birthday cards, high school ids)

·         2 jackets

·         2 bags of clothes

·         DVDs and CDs

·         Decorative candles

·         11 scarves
Pictures still mean a lot to me, so scanning them and saving them in my laptop felt great. I took all the CDs and saved the songs into iTunes and listened to them while I sat on the floor.  I got back in touch with Sam Cooke’s beautiful voice, which I loved so much in my early twenties. 

Having several "clothing and shoe drop" nearby helped me let go of the clothing when I convinced myself that I was too tired to travel the hour-long trip to the thrift shop.
I still have a lot to do.  There’s still an entire wall of shoes to examine.  All of the glittery 4-inch heals I imagined wearing in the Meatpacking District have never been worn and I’m still wondering if I should save them for New Year’s Eve and other holiday parties.

This is certainly becoming more difficult, but progress is being made NO MATTER WHAT.
Throw one thing away if you're having trouble moving forward.  Don't try to hide from difficulites. Instead, you should run straight towards it. Search for it! Enjoy it! Karate chop it and search for more of your challengers!  The point of this project is not to reduce the amount of stuff, but to reassess what's important and what your life ACTUALLY requires.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


Minimalism is not about cutting off your hair, living amongst white walls, or creating flavorless and lifeless experiences. Clutter is actually the culprit in making these things- so much stuff and nothing important to do with them. These things collect dust and make it hard to understand and see what's really important to you today.  I’ve been ruminating and worrying about decluttering all week.  I thought about what my family would think and worried about whether I’d miss having a room full of stuff.  Let’s be honest here.  I have dermatillomania (a kind of OCD) and have been fighting to stay present.  I worried without taking action, so I must push today and take the next action steps.
There are articles and blogs out there that say living a life with awareness is better than sitting in meditation.  While I understand and agree that being meditative in everyday life is important, sitting down in formal practice is absolutely imperative.

To sit in solitude is to watch your fears and hesitations dance before you, so they can be recognized when they manifest in the everyday.  It is where you condition the mind and being.  It’s where skills and reflexes are cultivated for the application into the real world.  Solitude and quiet are keys to winning.  
Here’s an example and possible exercise:
Imagine standing on the edge of sandy beach near the water break. You're waiting for the cold tide to come and wrap around your ankles. As it approaches, you breathe calmly and naturally.  Observe how the body reacts to the brisk temperature as the water surrounds your feet and ankles. It will pass as it always does and is designed to do. Stay focused on the present moment and pay attention to your body's attempts to protect itself. With this awareness, you’re able to tell the body to relax because there is no real danger. The images in your mind and unnecessary adrenaline fade away. Their jobs are to greet you and exit again. Once the wave begins to pull away and let you go, continue to breathe and watch as a new wave comes crashing in at a different height and speed. There is no danger or reason to protect yourself.  Just lean into the discomfort and understand that emotions will come and go just like the waves on a beach.  These fears come from nowhere and don’t exist in the real world or the present moment.
Sitting in meditation is a school.  It is the training ground you use to recognize your doubt, ego, compulsions and perfectionism.  Everyone has them and this is where you condition yourself to stay present when your mind begins to wander away from awareness.
When people tell you to stay cool, it really means “stay present”.  When you’re present and calm, real action steps will be taken to live the life you need.
Round 2 decluttering coming soon!

Thursday, September 13, 2012


 "One major finding is that spending money for an experience—concert tickets, French lessons, sushi-rolling classes, a hotel room in Monaco—produces longer-lasting satisfaction than spending money on plain old stuff. "

I stumbled upon an article called But Will It Make You Happy? back in 2010.  It discussed the recession and the effects people felt after allocating funds they once spent on material things on hobbies and relationship-building activities. There was no mention of the word minimalism, but the research and interviews described it.  It sounded amazing.

Later that day, I had forgotten the life-changing insights and continued to obsess about clothes, furniture, and keeping up appearances. 

This article resurfaced again and I'm glad to see minimalism has manifested itself into my life.  It's meant to happen.

Did you get rid of something recently? How did it feel?

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Knowing that later in the evening I’d fear for the week ahead, I decided to give myself a positive and energizing boost by decluttering.  When tackling your minimalist goals, it’s important to divide and conquer items.  I began with books, college notes, textbooks folders and paper memorabilia that were stored in my bookshelf.

Parting with this first round of books was easier than I thought. Most books, I read. Others were required from college classes and the rest I had acquired somehow and never even opened.  All these books went in a big bag and into a donation pile at New York Library (there may have been a George Michael Dual CD set in there as a bonus).   The text books?  They went into the recycling bin.

The next items were a little more difficult to let go of.  Awards and certificates I had earned in grammar school for excellence in art, reading, attendance, science, and diligence were stored in a wildlife folder at the bottom of my bookshelf.  I only reached down and opened this folder once a year to recall the sweet little childhood moments, which sometimes left me feeling uneasy because the awards later turned into high school suspension letters. 

A little background:  My parents divorced when I was 9 and my mom, soon after, got remarried to a nice fellow that became the dad I always wanted.  He spent time with me and really listened.  It broke my heart when my mother divorced again, especially because we had nowhere to go from there.  We became nomads. We were homeless. 

Family and friends of the family loaned us their sleeper couches or air mattresses for a few years while my mom worked temporary factory jobs. In the meantime, my sister and I started high school and were blossoming into little ladies.  This was a tough transition for me because my parents had prevented me from going to private school (all I knew) or dance school (all I dreamed of) and forced me into a public school with my sister.  My parents never showed that they cared about the awards I won in grammar school, nor did they listen to me and accept the high schools I pursued.  I thought dreams weren’t important.  I felt alone and didn’t understand my purpose in the world. 

Almost all throughout high school, I hung out with the bad kids, cut class, got into fights, and disrespected my teachers and parents.  Suspension letters were in the mailbox where we stayed on a regular basis. 

The grammar school awards and high school suspension reports brought back sad memories no matter how I attempted to angle them, so they all went into the recycling bin.  Those sweet and sour times are in my memories and I don’t need papers to help me remember.

To put a little fun back into decluttering, I walked over to my closet and pulled dresses I had worn for New Year’s Eve parties, weddings, and dates out of the closet and into my arms.  I remembered dancing in them.  These were all donated to a thrift store in the East Village, NYC.

Although these items sat in my room for many years, getting rid of them helped me understand that they weighed heavy on my emotions.  There seems to be more room to breathe.


It’s important to do what you love, but what if you don’t know what your passions are, or your mission? 

These have always been daunting to look for amongst mental and physical clutter of false goals and impulses.  For now, I won’t look for a sign.  I’ll start in this moment by sitting still and watching my thoughts, feeling my discomforts, and sensing what my life requires.  Using minimalism and mindfulness meditation as tools to achieve the happiness and fulfillment necessary in my life, I will:

  • enjoy my life everyday
  • be grateful and thankful everyday
  • write everyday
  • read everyday
  • meditate everyday
  • live in the present moment
  • eat healthy and simply everyday
  • build loving and lasting relationships with good people
  • workout 3xs per week
  • show compassion and give to others everyday

Clearing all of the clutter will help me focus on the above, which will later lead me to finding my passions and mission.


This is the first time I feel such an uncontrollable desire to make changes in my life.  I’m not a good writer.  I worked hard to get my Bachelor’s degree and land my first full-time job in advertising.  Due to lower-class income and desperation, I sought after a sign, any damn sign that would lead me to a place of stability and financial security.  I didn’t care where I ended up. I just kept following the signs until I reached the finish line. The place I found: the Advertising Industry.  I’ve been here for roughly 7 months (not including the year-long internship to prove I belonged) and I don’t make enough to move out of my aunt and uncle’s attic.  I didn't anticipate such tight deadlines, so many presentations and ongoing projects.  In this struggling economy, work is still available, but teams are small and stretched thin. The hours are long, so I’m usually too tired to enjoy hobbies and friends the way I want.  Every Sunday night, I spent half the night worrying how I’m going to make it through the next week. 
I knew I’d feel proud about telling friends and family my ‘Ad Executive’ title.  What I didn't know was that taking the time to stop and listen to what my head and heart were telling me would take me to where I belonged.  I thought I didn't have time to think.  I saw a light and went for it!

This first week is BIG. 

Deciding to make a significant change is the first step.

Clearing my life of all needless distractions. The clothes. Books. Childhood memorabilia.  These are the first on the sorting list where I’ll “Trash, Treasure, or Transfer” just like Francine Jay recommends in her book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist living Guide. I will declutter, organize and simplify my life.  Less stuff. Less stress. More freedom. 
Sounds like a good place to start!

Saturday, September 8, 2012


Hi everyone and welcome to my blog!
On a weekly basis, I will share with you my progress as I shed years of unwanted material things/thought processes, and make room for my truest passions. 
Throughout the last two years, I’ve discovered and cultivated tools that have brought me to this point. I’ve spent enough time acquiring knowledge without putting it to good use, until now.  These tools, I believe, will also help break past the barrier between accumulated knowledge and action steps to live a happy, stable and fulfilling life. 

The REAL turning point was this past Labor Day weekend, where I found myself reading through blogs, articles, and books, desperately searching for an answer – useful tools for freedom.  Here are the ones that really resonate with me:
Minimalism – After reading Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus' book, Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life, I felt enlightened. No.  I felt thrilled and motivated to finally get rid of all the excess things in my life that I used to cover up my anxiety and sadness.  I will keep only what’s important and document it all here.  Whether it’s material things, hobbies, email subscriptions, friends, habits- they will be grouped together, analyzed, and then donated, trashed, or treasured.  Minimalism is subjective and everyone will approach it differently based on their needs.  It will always be a “right minimalism” no matter how it’s done. 
Mindfulness Meditation – I stumbled upon this online while searching for a way to calm anxiety.  This particular type of meditation essentially involves focusing the mind on the present moment. To be mindful is to be aware of thoughts and actions in the present, without judgment. I’ve been doing this for some time now and will continue to do so a few times a week, 20 minutes per session.  This will help to quiet my bouncing mind and hear desires speak softly. This moment of solitude has been an amazing discovery in hearing my desires - the most difficult sound to hear in the bustle of New York City.  The right thoughts are there.  If you stop moving, focus on the present, and look past your fears, you will inch towards your truest life.  Here’s an inspirational blog entry by  Leo Babauta on solitude and creativity–
Wish me luck!