Posts tagged how
How to be a Practical & Socially Conscious Minimalist
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One of the popular criticisms against minimalism that I actually love is how elitist it is. The common saying minimalists use is "to only buy what you need", but that implies that everyone has the privilege of being able to afford to buy more than they need. I know this was not the intention of the movement, but it does exclude a large portion of the population. 

Since those phrases are geared towards those with privilege it is important to point out that most of the problems that are caused by overconsumption are from people of privilege over-consuming, so yes... they should buy less. The problem is stating that this lifestyle that underprivileged don't get to be apart of will lead to happiness. 

I do see the benefits of a minimalist lifestyle, since I try to adhere to it as well. I follow a different set of rules than the extreme minimalists do... such as only owning 500 items. I can't afford to only own 500 items because I need to keep, for example, extra parts from an old computer in case I need them for my new one or for another project. So... here are some practical rules to follow if you want to basically just stop buying so much crap and get your life organized while also being socially conscious about it. 

1. Donate

The only thing you should be throwing away when you're purging all of your crap is garbage. Like on hoarders when they do not even throw away their trash. Or if your furniture or clothes are beyond the point of being useable. If it is useable, donate it. Like I said... there are many people in underprivileged communities that you can help by giving them what you don't want instead of a landfill. 

2. Remember that Your house doesn't need to look like this 

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This is minimalist decor. There is also minimalist art. You don't need to strive for this. I think this is impractical. I want to see pictures of my family on my wall, I want to be inspired by artwork, and I love lots of pillows and throw blankets and I'm still a minimalist. The main point of minimalism is that you rid of the excess, not that you rid of everything. For me, excess is cable television and bulky exercise equipment because I don't use or love either of those things, but there is still some stuff in my house. 

3. When you buy, make it matter

I honestly hate the "vote with your dollar" mindset... that you can just buy eco-friendly clothes and save the Earth. It's not possible and there needs to absolutely be real and drastic policy reform in order for that to happen. It also excludes those who don't have enough money to chose what they buy, they have to buy the cheapest option available. 

With that said, if you do have privilege and you are buying things and experiences, educate yourself on that company. Even if you have to buy from WalMart, look them up, research them, tell people about them, teach your kid about them, and vote with your actual ballot for people who are pushing for reform. If you do have the privilege of having options, always always always chose the most ethical option you can because unfortunately, money is power so give power to those that really deserve it. 

4. Give Experiences Instead of Gifts

I've wrote a lot about this in my other posts, Minimalizing your Life, Not Just Your Closet and How to Change the World by Changing How You Give. For Christmas this past year I took my boyfriend to see Jay-Z instead of an actual present and we had a blast and made memories and that's better than any gift I could've given him (especially because he already has everything he needs/wants). 

5. Reuse

It is absolutely okay to have a room full of junk if its intention is for it to be reused. There is a reason why folks in the depression never threw anything away. It's better for the environment that you reuse the parts from that old computer (to use my previous example) than it is for you to throw it away. When I came up with the idea that I wanted an aquaponics unit that could fit on my counter I was able to make it that day and only had to buy a water pump and a goldfish to make it because I had all of the materials, which is again better for the environment because I didn't have to throw away the packaging for the new stuff. It was also better for my bank account. 

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How to Let Go of Shame and Bring In Success
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Shame 101

The simple definition of shame is a painful emotion caused by a strong sense of embarrassment, failure, worthlessness, and/or disgrace.

Shame follows people with addiction, hurting families and unhealthy relationships. Others can shame us and we can shame ourselves with some version of "who you are isn't okay, and nothing you do will change that. Shame on you."

Characteristics of shame

Unhealthy shame is the most detrimental human emotion. It is based on the different expectations that are placed on us by ourselves and by others. This results in the want to hide or cover up or escape. On the flip side, healthy shame leads to the blessings of humility and spirituality. 

Defenses against shame: 

addiction, anger, rage, perfectionism, etc

Descriptive shame words:

shy, embarrassed, inferior, stupid, dumb, inadequate, failure, guilty, humiliated, disgusted, worthless, mortified, a monster

Rules that follow shame

  • control
  • no talking
  • denial
  • incompleteness
  • perfectionism
  • blame
  • unreliability
  • disqualification

Symptoms of unhealthy shame

Shame is difficult to diagnose on others because most of the time it is something we're hiding from the outside world. Like when you hear people talk about someone who committed suicide and they say "they showed no signs that they were going to do that". Well yes, they actually probably did show signs, but they might not have been as obvious to observers because the person was TRYING to hide it. We try to hide what we're embarrassed of. I'm going to list out how to self-diagnose yourself though, and honestly I would argue that everyone has some level of unhealthy shame in their life and I would blame it on the cultures we grow up in. And you do not need to check ALL of these to have unhealthy shame as they are all evidence of it on their own. 

- You can't bring yourself to do things, go places, or be around people because you feel intimidated

- You experience recurrent bouts of depression

- You are in self-isolation: physically or emotionally distancing yourself from others; especially those you care about the most

- You pretend to be someone you are not

- You rely on bad habits or substances to medicate inner pain and self-loathing

- You exaggerate and or lie about yourself, your accomplishments, and your lifestyle; you brag or name drop

- Your public identity and your private self are markedly different

- You have had suicidal thoughts

- You assume the blame when someone treats you poorly or hurts you

- You make excuses for people who abuse you or treat you with disrespect

- You are unable to accept yourself as only human; instead you see yourself as subhuman or superhuman. You are unable to accept that there is both good and bad within you; you cling to a view of yourself that is all bad or all good or you alternate between the two

- You keep secrets about yourself, and you feel bound to carry them with you to the grave

- You keep a shameful part of your life separate from the rest of your life, even in your own mind; so that your behavior in one area is markedly different from the rest of your life

- You deny the nature and severity of your addictions

- You lose yourself in the needs of others: busying yourself by taking care of others; rescuing them; trying to control, fix or change them; and trying to solve their problems while neglecting your life (also known as codependency)

- You feel driven to achieve, overachieve, and excel to feel okay about yourself; you try to prove your worth by what you do (my number 1 problem in case you were wondering)

- You focus on the flaws and failings of others; being judgmental and critical draws attention away from you or consoles you that you aren't as bad as the object of your criticism 

Shame, Guilt and Toxic Shame

So now we now what shame is and looks like. Guilt is associated with shame because it is believing what we did is not okay, however, it can be beneficial when it affirms our values and motivates us to change like feeling bad that we hurt someone's feelings so we don't say that again next time. Shame can also be healthy when it causes humility so it's believing that we are limited and make mistakes. Like when we get into a car accident and realize we're not perfect. Toxic shame however is where the danger lurks because it is the belief that who we are is not okay, that we are worthless. 

How to address your unhealthy shame 

Unhealthy shame is only going to hold you back from your success, whether that be in your career, your relationships or your happiness. Releasing unhealthy shame takes time, but once you do it you will feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of your shoulders, you're going to be motivated to change your life, and you'll grow so much spiritually. 

1. Switch from shame-based systems to self-love systems

Accepting who you are and that who you are is okay is a HUGE undertaking. And taking baby steps, in my opinion, is the best way to handle this. When you feel the shame creeping in just recognize it, stop, and change the station so the voice in your head now tells you that you are worth it. Remind yourself that this is cultural and not a fact and that you're a badass until you believe it. And again really try to fall in love with who you are. All of my posts are so woven together with this concept because it is the ultimate life lesson in my opinion. 

2. Expose shame and treat it like a feeling

Call that shit out. Go and see a therapist and talk about it. It grows so much stronger when it's hidden. The second you put the spotlight on it you'll be more in control of it. Calling it what it is is almost always the first step when dealing with feelings and emotions as I wrote about in my other post about feelings

3. Track it to its roots

Here is definitely where I would recommend therapy. If you're like me then you bury that shit deep down inside and lock the door so I honestly don't even know where to start when it comes to tracing my roots. Therapist studied how to do this so let them help you. 

4. Change what's needed

Once you start doing all of these things you'll realize what's causing you shame. Is it perfectionism? Change what you need to. If your job is forcing you to be perfect try to find a new one or change the environment. Is it your relationship? Change it. Perfection doesn't exist so if your world is asking you for it... move. 

5. Release the shame

And once you've got what's causing the shame in the palm of your hand, open it and let it go. 

 

And if you need to be reminded that you're a badass... read this post :) 

 

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How To Change Your Life By Starting A Bullet Journal

I know the title of this post seems pretty dramatic, but starting a bullet journal changed my life for the better. I've been talking about bullet journals in my posts and podcasts so I feel like it's really only fair if I explain how to start one, why you need to start one, and give you a peek at mine for an example (examples always help me visualize the point of things).

My bullet journal looks like it's been beaten up pretty badly because it has... I bring it with me everywhere.

My bullet journal looks like it's been beaten up pretty badly because it has... I bring it with me everywhere.

What is a bullet journal?

After I graduated college my dad bought me a journal as a graduation present to write down the next stage of my life. I didn't know I was going to turn it into a bullet journal at the time, I just knew that I had a lot of planning to do so I started to use it for that. I was looking for ideas on pintrest and found out what I was doing was called bullet journaling. I'm not entirely sure what the proper definition of one would be, I would describe it as a customized life planner. The overall purpose of one is to plan your life, your entire life, or at least whatever portions of it you feel you need to write down.

Why start one?

If you're anything like me you have all of these ideas that you want to accomplish, but you're not really sure how to. Bullet journals are the vehicle to help you actually achieve your goals and become more productive. I'll list out my different pages later, but anything you want to learn, or accomplish, or track, you can keep it all in your bullet journal. PLUS if you're a creative, like me, outlining the different pages are my version of those adult coloring books that everyone is obsessing over right now.

A peek at my bullet journal

I think it'll be more clear if I show you pages from mine. You can click through a few of them below. I'm not going to show every page because that would be like taking pictures of a private journal and I'm just not ready for that yet.

I'm working on my 2017 bullet journal now and I decided I wanted grid lines to make charts easier. Here is a list of pages that my 2017 bullet journal will incorporate:

2017 goals, Places I Want To Go, Reading List, Spiritual Goals, Workout Tracker, Yoga Tracker, Meditation Tracker, Packing List, Gratitude Tracker, Savings Tracker, Daily Routine, Weekly Routine, Monthly Routine, Daily Goals, Weekly Goals, Monthly Goals, Blood Type Diet Foods (look into this if you haven't!), Gardening Planner, Trip Planner, Level 10 Life, Monthly Tasks, Budget, Bill Tracker, Non Profit Planner, Brain Dump, Dog Tricks, Self Care Ideas, Spiritual Journal, Podcast Ideas, Blog Post Ideas, Blog Goals, Challenges

Those are what I have so far at least, I'm constantly adding pages whenever I need to plan things.

Explanation of some pages

Level 10 Life: This page is honestly where you should start. You come up with 10 categories (you can see mine listed above) and then you write down your 10 goals for each category. I have at least one daily goal, one weekly goal, one monthly goal, one yearly goal, one 5-year goal and one 10 year goal for each category and the other three are fluid. The reason why this is crucial is because it is going to help you prioritize your goal so when you go to make daily, weekly, monthly, yearly tasks you can refer back to this page. For example, if your goal is to read one book per month then when you're writing your monthly goals you add "read one book" and since you know you're going to have to read every day for your daily goals you write "read 30 minutes". It takes your larger goals and forces you to narrow them down into daily tasks. Another example would be for one of my spiritual goals I have "become a yoga instructor in 5 years" so I will need to construct a timeline that breaks down what I have to do every year, every month, every week and every day to reach this goal in time.

Savings: To track my savings I make a rectangle with what I'm saving for written above it. I then calculate how much I am going to need and divide that amount by how many months are between now and the due date. I make a box for each month with the accumulated amount written in each box and when I go to do my budget for the month I know how much to extract. For example, If I need $500 in 5 months for a trip I'm planning, I make a rectangle with 5 boxes and "$100, $200, $300, etc" marked in each box. When I've saved the amount in the box I color it in.

Brain Dump: This page I use for all of the ideas that run through my head no matter how crazy. They go here if I'm not sure if I want to dedicate a whole planning page to them, but I don't want to forget about them either. A lot of the time they're just notes to myself like "do a photoshoot with grandma soon and write a post about her"... stuff like that.

Trackers: These pages are what keep me motivated. You can see my workout tracker in the slideshow above. In each square I marked A, B, C, or D and these correspond with a youtube playlist of workout videos (because for those of you who don't know I hate gyms and the commute to one and back is a waste of precious time). I like to work out at home or run, hike, etc. I just go to my tracker and look at the day I'm on, go to the corresponding youtube playlist, and click shuffle so I get a random workout. After I complete the workout I color in the square. When all the squares are colored in I get a massage. Easy peasy and I'm motivated to do it.

Trip Planner: I use this page to calculate every single detail of a trip I'm planning. I mostly do this so I know EXACTLY how much to save for. I plan for gas by mileage, hotel, meals, everything. It also helps the other people I'm traveling with so they know how much to save for as well and what we're doing, etc.

Index: It is super important to keep an index because you're going to have a lot of different pages and looking for each page is going to be a waste of time.

These are just a few of my pages... if you have any questions or want any explanation of the other pages comment below or message me on Snapchat, whatever works! I'd be happy to explain or send you a snap of my page.  I will also be writing future posts about bullet journaling because I really believe it is what ambitious, but overwhelmed people need to be successful.

 

10 Resolutions That Aren't Resolutions

These resolutions aren't resolutions at all... but rather they're steps we can all take to be the best version of ourselves. They're realistic, easy, and take little motivation to accomplish.

10. Eat Out Less

I actually feel like this is a pretty common resolution and we all know why. 2017 has to be the year we all get our shit together and stop spending money on useless stuff... including eating out. Limit yourself to twice a week and every time you feel like going out to eat take that $15 you would've spent and put it in your travel fund.

9. No Spend Month

Speaking of saving money... as a minimalist this is easier for me... but limit yourself to only buying groceries and absolute necessities just for one month. Once you realize how easy the minimalism lifestyle is you'll be ready to at the very least spend less than you currently are.

8. Purge

All. The. Time. Keep a box in your hallway and whenever you come across an item that hasn't been used in 6 months, put it in the donate box. When the box is full donate it and put out another box. Easy peasy. For clothes... turn all your hangers backwards and when you wear an item put it back the right way. In 6 months anything hanging backwards gets donated. It's time to rid of the excess. 2017 will not be the year we spend organizing all our crap.

7. Read

Duh... I know I'm a broken record always telling people to read... but that's because I want to live in a society where small talk no longer exists because everyone actually has something interesting to say. Reading will make you more interesting, strengthen your vocabulary, open your mind to new experiences, and make you a better version of yourself. This doesn't mean you need to only read business books, or non-fiction books, by all means read as much fiction as you want, but just freakin read.

6. Focus on self-awareness

This is something I'm ALWAYS doing. I want to know myself better than anyone else and I want to know everything there is to know. How do I feel about different circumstances, what are my strengths, weaknesses, how do I feel about the people in my life, what are my goals, etc. Take personality tests, get readings done (palm, future, whatever), spend time alone, and analyze yourself. This doesn't make you self-centered... it makes you smart. I know what I bring to the table when I know my strengths and I know what I need in someone else to fill my weaknesses. Again I'm not totally there yet, but it's something I'm always working on.

5. PLAN

It doesn't matter what resolution you choose for next year, if you don't plan it won't happen. Plan HOW you're going to travel. Plan WHEN you're going to exercise. Plan how you're going to achieve every goal down to how you're going to work on it each day. If you don't you're not going to reach it. I wrote a post on how to plan a productive day here.

4. Find inspiration

Instead of beating a dead horse I'm just going to link the posts I've already written about why you need inspiration and how to find it.

6 Reasons Why We Need To Be Inspired

7 Ways to Become Inspired and Find Your Passion

3. Let's get healthy

This one is huge for me this year. I spent so much of last year sick because of various health problems... but I'm feeling better and I can finally whip my butt back into shape. I'm not going to a gym on Monday to buy a membership that I'm only going to use once a week... but I am planning (again down to the day) how I'm going to get back in shape. The thing about getting healthy is that everyone is different and this is where self-awareness really comes into play. My recommendation is not to start a fad diet (paleo, weight-watchers, etc), but just really be mindful of what you're eating and how it makes you feel. Your body will tell you everything you need to know if you just take the time to listen to it.

I'm also a healer so if you're feeling overwhelmed and would like a reading you can learn more about how I heal here.

2. Focus on trimming your relationships

If there are people in your life bringing unnecessary negativity trim them out. Focus on the people who bring a positive light to your life. Use the precious time you have to build relationships and network with people. Again.. 2017 needs to be about ridding yourself of excess... including excess people... to only leave room for the absolute best (because we deserve the best and only the best). 

1. Stop trying to be happy

It's sickening how focused our culture is on finding happiness. It's the most depressing journey tbh. If you're not content with your life you probably have too much excess, not enough inspiration, or are surrounded by negativity. Stop trying to buy things you think are going to make you happy, stop trying to compare yourself to others because you only see the most polished versions of everyone else (ESPECIALLY on social media), and stop telling yourself "you're not happy but one day you will be". If you're not happy right now you're trying too hard. Just relax dude... be mindful and enjoy the moment.

6 Reasons Why We Need To Be Inspired

One of the most tragic things to hear, in my opinion, is when I ask someone "what do you do for fun" and their response is something along the lines of "oh I don't really know, whatever". It makes me want to shake them, but then I have to take a step back and remember that most people not only don't spend time working on what they're passionate about, but that they don't even know what lights the fire in their soul. Again, the only word I can use to describe this is tragic.

The first step towards finding your passion is finding inspiration. Here are 6 reasons why we need to stay inspired.

 

1. It will give your life purpose

We all know that feeling when we don't have a purpose. The best way I can describe it is depression (not clinical obv.), although that could just be because of my ambitious personality, so without purpose I feel utterly useless. It's easy to tell when I'm lost, I stop caring about everything and sleep even more than I already do (which is a lot).

When I'm inspired, however, it's the exact opposite. I can cross 50 things off of my to-do list, go for a run, and come home and write an inspiring post because my life blood is back. When I feel like I have a purpose then there's a reason to get out of bed before the sun (my least favorite thing to do ever btw). There's a reason to run 3 miles before dinner. There's a reason to stop binge watching Netflix and read 200 pages a day. There's a purpose for me to be alive.

2. Your relationships will be healthier

Again, when I'm on a date and I ask someone what they do for fun and they respond with "whatever" I scream internally. That means they have no passions of their own and they're probably going to focus on me in all of their free time and that's the perfect breeding ground for a toxic relationship. If you're free time is filled with your projects and passions then you won't have time to sit around and think of all the negative stuff about your partner. PLUS there's the added bonus that if you both have your own passions and projects then at the end of the day you get to come home and talk about them, and be excited about them. Personally, the most attractive thing on someone is watching them talk about what they're passionate about.

3. Your attitude will be better

Which means your life will be better. You'll start to realize people will want to hang out with you more because you have so much more to talk about and what you do talk about is all positive. When you see hope in your future it affects your attitude and when you have a positive attitude you manifest positive things. I mean think about it. You know when you meet someone and they just have so much light in their eyes? And when they talk you actually want to listen, you're not forcing yourself to? These are inspired people. Contrast them with the ones with empty eyes, who spend the whole conversations complaining because they have nothing of their own to talk about. It's brutal to listen to them right? Be the inspired person.

4. You'll grow your network

The more projects you do and the more experiences you try the more people you meet, simple as that. You have to go out into the world (even the internet world) and do things and talk to people. The benefit is that you're going to meet people with similar interests. The larger your network the more successful you will be and the less hard you will have to work to be successful. You never know who you're going to meet and when you meet them doing what you're passionate about you already have something in common.

5. You'll be emotionally stable

The best part about having my own projects, my own passions, and finding my own inspiration is that none of those things have to be given to me by someone else. That is giving someone else way too much power. My happiness needs to be controlled by ME. I mean other people can come into my life and bring added joy, but my purpose for waking up in the morning cannot and will not be decided by any body other than me. And again, if I'm immersed in my projects then there are other thoughts to fill my time. And this is especially helpful after a breakup, if you're main purpose in life isn't your partner, then if they leave they didn't leave with your passion. Your ego won't be hurt because you're in charge of it. If someone tries to take away the light in your eyes they won't be able to because you control the flame.

6. You can make a difference

The best part about having your own projects is that you can likely make a difference through them. Love sewing? Donate blankets and clothes. Love painting? Donate artwork for charity auctions and such. Love working out? Train others and motivate them to get healthy. Love gardening? Teach children in your community, or even your own children, how to (this is what my non-profit is going to do btw ;)) All of these things bring communities together. Your passion, while it may be exactly what you need, is not about you because your life is not about you. When you're using it to make a difference you're going to have your sense of purpose filled, you're going to feel great about yourself, and people are going to admire you.

The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire - Ferdinand Foch

I'm going to write a post shortly about how to stay inspired so stay tuned!

Update 12/19/2016

The follow up post can be found here: 7 Ways To Become Inspired and Find Your Passion

How Badass Bitches Plan Their Super Productive Days in 3 Steps

After reading multiple articles such as "the morning routine of 10 successful women" and the like, I realized that the key to a super productive day is PLANNING. Also this is sort of a part 2 to a previous post I wrote "How to Be a Badass Bitch Who Gets Shit Done" so read that post too!

Step 1: Write Down Your Goals

I highly recommend starting a bullet journal. I wrote a post about how starting a bullet journal can change your life because of how much I believe in it. They are basically just super flexible planners that allow you to organize your thoughts.

But until then just grab a sheet of lined paper and write down all of your goals. I suggest using three pages, have the first page be this month, the next page be this year, and the next page be the next 5-10 years. This is going to help you prioritize how you spend your day.

To give you some examples... written down for my goals for this month are to pay off debt, read 4 books, and exercise every single day. My goals for this year (which will now be 2017) are to write a book, start graduate school and my non profit, and to become fluent in Spanish (I'm already proficient, but I want to be totally FLUENT). And my 5-10 year goals are to flip a house, start 2 more businesses, and run for office.

Everyone is obviously going to have much different goals, but I always find examples to be super helpful when trying something for the first time. So once you have all of your goals written down, you move to step 2.

Step 2: Plan Your Day

Plan your day DOWN TO THE HOUR. Do this however you have to, again I use a bullet journal. I literally list out 12am, 1am, 2am, etc. I mark exactly what I will be doing each hour of the day. Obviously for 12am-5:30am I write that I'm sleeping, but even my morning routine is planned out (although it only takes me an hour so I just write "morning routine").

Scheduling out every hour is where your list of goals comes into play. Do you really think my non-profit is going to build itself? No. I dedicate an hour to it every day. I want to read 4 books a month so I calculate how much time that will take (about 2 hours per day) so I read during my lunch break at work and an hour before I go to sleep. I want to be fluent in Spanish so I dedicate 30 minutes of my day to Duolingo and an hour each weekend to watching Telenovelas.

This is how you accomplish your goals. If you're anything like me, you have all of these ideas of things you want to do, but it makes your brain want to explode when you think about actually accomplishing them. That's because "starting a non-profit" is a HUGE task, but researching similar organizations for an hour as one of the steps to building it is totally doable. By planning out each hour of your day you're making your goals achievable. PLUS you know you have time during your day to it because you have a schedule you can stick to. If you hate routine, then switch up the routine and make a new daily hour schedule every month or so, or make daily variations, whatever you have to do to stay motivated!

Step 3: Make Trackers for your Goals

So you've written down your goals and made a detailed schedule of when you're going to do all of these things, but let's face it... you need actual motivation to do it. This is where trackers come in! There are lots of apps you can use to do this for you, but I'm a creative and I need to write things down for my brain to process what is happening, so again I use my bullet journal.

There are thousands of ideas for trackers on pintrest or with a quick web search. I do my trackers by month. So, for example, I make a tracker that looks like a board game with 30/31 squares for the month to keep me motivated to exercise. Every day that I work out I color in one of the squares. When I reach the end of the month I get a massage or some sort of reward if all of the squares are colored. This actually really works! Especially because there is nobody telling me to work out like if I joined a program or something... I HATE when people tell me what to do. It's just me and my tracker to keep me motivated.

I have trackers for all of my goals, for reading, for learning Spanish, for teaching tricks to my dog, etc. So during my day I'm never just sitting doing something unproductive (and R&R time is productive so don't think I don't relax). I just always know that if I have energy then I have a project that needs my attention.

People always tell me "I love how you just want to do something and you do it". THIS is how I do it. I plan out exactly how I'm going to do it into doable steps, and I plan out my day, and I just freaking do it (insert Nike symbol here).

How to Win an Argument and Stay Friends

I would like to first make the disclaimer that I learned most of these the hard way. I have been in numerous arguments with family members and friends who disagreed with my fundamental values and therefore fell victim to many of the heated screaming fights we all wish to avoid. After the results of the election came in however, it was disheartening to see that I could probably count on one hand how many people were having effective debates about policy. To help the flow of ideas travel throughout society I'm going to break down how to argue effectively and stay friends afterward.

Stop having value arguments

One of the things I learned in Speech and Debate was that there are two kinds of debates, value and policy. Value debates revolve around a persons fundamental belief system. An example of a value debate would consist of things like protecting human life is more important than protecting individual freedom or pizza the best food on the planet. These are dangerous debates to have and you need to stay away from them because there is never a "winner". You are never ever going to convince me that pizza is the best food on the planet so do not even try. You can talk to me about how the combination of sauce, cheese, crust, and customizable toppings make pizza untouchable by other dishes and I will scream at you that actually sushi is the best food on the planet and we will go around and around. Obviously this applies to more serious value debates. A Christian and an Atheist will never convince the other that they're right, but that does not mean they can't discuss policy or maintain a friendship.

Start having policy arguments

Policy debates are arguments over what approach to use to solve a problem. THESE are the types of arguments TO have. A Christian and an Atheist may not agree on why the human race exists, but they can come to an agreement or at least have an educated discussion on if prisons should or should not be privatized. These aren't arguments over the "best" type of prison system, the two would never agree. But by picking one type of prison system and discussing the pros and cons a healthy, effective debate about not only if they're effective, but what could done to decrease the amount of items on the cons list, is actually possible. Plus the two can likely stay friends afterward.

Etiquette

Keep in mind though, you cannot be a close minded, uneducated advocate of your side of the debate and expect to win and stay friends. If you haven't read up on the policy you're debating about, it's probably best to just listen because you'll have no choice except to resort to a value debate since your opinion is all you will be able to go off of. And if you are educated you are not an all knowing, all seeing, higher being that can solve all of the world's problems. You need to listen and engage even if you do not agree. Listening does not mean you agree with them, it means you have respect for the discussion.

Also remember to never yell (the first one who does loses), and to never interrupt. Keep in mind the more the other person says, the more fuel you have to cut down and oppose. I'll get into how keeping the other person talking is an effective strategy later. You have a duty as a productive and decent member of society to talk about the issues that are plaguing society with a polite and inclusive tone. If you alienate your "opponent" by calling them names, making them feel belittled, and turning against your cause then YOU JUST LOST. Remember why you're having these debates. It's not simply to spew off how knowledgeable and woke you are to the world so they bow down and do whatever you say. And it definitely is not to divide the country between us vs. them. If you sincerely want change to happen and a discourse to be open, you ALSO need to be open minded, educated, and a decent human being.

P.S. remember that this is much easier to accomplish when you have policy debates because value debates get really heated really fast because someone's fundamental identity is being attacked.

Tips for when you know you're right

This takes some maturity. Remember, with great power comes great responsibility. I for one will not ever try to debate anything sports related because I know virtually nothing about sports despite having been a cheerleader for 14 years. If I ever find myself in a discussion about sports I politely listen to it without offering my analysis because quite frankly I would sound stupid if I spoke up. Keep this in mind when you're debating. If you know virtually nothing about the crisis in Syria then when you find yourself in the midst of an argument you need to turn it into an educational, expository learning experience instead because without having first been educated on a topic you cannot then offer your opinion of it. And you will sound stupid to the other person because uneducated opinions are super easy to identify to a person who is educated on the issue.

With that being said, if you are educated on a topic and believe yourself fit to offer your opinion of it then that's awesome, but you're not entitled to have your opinions listened to and let alone adopted by anyone. Therefore it is MUCH more effective, at least in my experience, to have other people think your opinions are their opinions. The best way to do this is to ask questions as responses. Yes.. I'm telling you to use the Socratic Method to manipulate the person you're talking to into disproving their own argument, but there's a reason why this is so effective... it is non-threatening. "The Socratic method can be used to show someone that they are wrong, or at least imprecise, by getting them to agree with statements that contradict their original assertion". You will likely need to practice this to really get it down, but I promise once you do you will slay. It would take me a whole entire post to explain how to use this to you, and since there are plenty out there that have already done so I'm going to skip over it. A quick guide can be found here.

Also, do not be afraid to stop an argument that turns into one of value. For example, I am a hardcore environmentalist (not a purist though) and I believe that protecting the environment and ecosystems needs to be in the top 3 priories of every single person on the planet. So whenever someone tries to say "Global warming isn't real" or "there are more pressing issues than water pollution" I just politely say "I'm not interesting in discussing if these problems are problems, I believe that they are, I am interested in discussing their solutions so if you're not here to offer your input on policy solutions we can talk about the puppy bowl or Joe Biden memes instead". Nobody will ever convince me that pizza is better than sushi or that we do not have an obligation to protect the environment so why would I let them try and risk losing a friendship over it?

P.S. The deciding factor of if you stay friends or not after an argument is going to depend on your attitude during the argument.

If you want to change values you need to stay friends

Just because I value the environment and my family member doesn't does not mean I need to cut them out of my life. That's immature and irresponsible because then that's one less person in their life who does care. If you really want to change the way society behaves (I listed my 7 sins of society in this post) then you need to show them that they themselves are not society, they are a member in society. When your community and your circle cares a lot about an issue you begin to care a lot about it. If you cut yourself out of their world you have just cut out possibly the only advocate for your values in their community.

With that being said you need to make sure that if you're going to be the advocate for a cause you're doing so in an inclusive way. If you go on a hateful rant that separates you from those who disagree with you you've just now left no opening for them to come over to your side or to adopt your values. Change is really hard and you cannot change someone by trying to first hurt their ego, you need to be inclusive about it. To put it in perspective, it's really difficult to want to join a club when all of the members of the club are giving you dirty looks, calling you names, and think they're better than you. Keep this in mind.

Why I care

The reason why I care so much about how you're arguing is because I really, truly want solutions to start being discussed and dissected. I don't believe the solutions have been thought of yet and with the way I've been seeing people talk to each other after the election results, it doesn't look like any are in the near future. I do have faith though that if we shift the conversation to what we're going to do about the problems that are facing each and every community instead of who to blame for the problems then we will see real and positive change.

 

 

How to Change the World by Changing How You Give

With the holidays rapidly approaching, I found this topic inspiring. In this post I am going to address not only what you can give people that will make you feel good about yourself, but also why you need to first change your mindset and view of how you're currently giving.

Giving shouldn't be about you

We've all seen the Grinch, right? Well I'm not going to rant about the meaning of Christmas to you, but this is the season for gift giving, although these methods should be applied to birthdays and anniversaries as well. If we really get down to the bottom of it the 2 main reasons you are giving gifts is out of social obligation and guilt. Society has told you giving is just what you do on these holidays so you must. Or you give to make yourself feel better about the lack of time you spend with someone, or to feel like a good person, or even because you would feel guilty not giving after receiving a gift. This is all wrong and I'm asking you to open your mind to the idea that gift giving should not be about you, it is always about the receiver.

The problems

Giving to make yourself feel better is like therapy shopping. It's super unhealthy, expensive, wasteful, and to be quite frank, it's pointless. Do you really think all of those hot pink (when anyone who really knows me knows I hate pink) socks I got for Christmas from extended family that I always ended up donating were given with me in mind? No. They wanted to feel better about the fact that they don't spend time with me, while also checking me off of their list of people society said they had to buy a gift for. Don't be this person. Don't buy into materialistic happiness, it's false and empty and there are much better things to spend your money on that I'll get to at the end.

I would also like to point out that I am a minimalist (you can read why here). Therefore I fundamentally believe that buying stuff is one of the quickest ways to make this world a worse place. If you want to make this world a better place you need to be mindful of every purchase because with your dollar you're voting for a cause you believe in.

Also, consumerism is just so bad for the environment that you're destroying the world by buying, and especially by buying new. Every single thing you buy had to be made with materials that were likely made in a way that hurts the environment, then are probably put together with slave labor, then shipped to the U.S. which uses fossil fuels and adds to the already immense pollution problem. Plus it has to be packaged, most likely with plastic, which adds even more pollution. Plus it all ends up in a landfill eventually. The point of me telling you this isn't to depress you, but rather to help put it in perspective that if you want to spend money to buy happiness for another person there are much more long lasting, more fulfilling ways to do so that can also help to change the world.

What to give instead of stuff

Experiences

I always try to give experiences instead of stuff for any gift-giving occasion. For example, for my sister's 16th birthday I got her concert tickets to see our favorite band together. Not only was this not a gift out of guilt for not spending time with her, I instead used it as an opportunity TO spend time with her. Another example would be a few years ago I got my family tickets to ride The Polar Express. We were living in Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon Railway turns into the Polar Express for the holidays. It was so much fun and memories are really the gifts that keep on giving.

Donations

This one is huge if you actually want to make the world a better place instead of just not making it worse like the examples above did. You can give donations to charities in the name of someone else. Personally, if for Christmas my family decided to donate to any of these charities that are helping Syrian refugees instead of giving me a present I would be so thrilled. I have more than I need to survive and there are so many in this world who don't. Also, another tip would be to make donations for your super-stubborn hateful family members and they'll get a thank you card in the mail from the charity. I for one am planning to donate to the Natural Resources Defense Council for my extended family that doesn't believe climate change is real.

Charity Navigation is a great site to help you decide which one you chose to donate to. They have lists for every charity on how they spend their donations and which ones are in the most financial need. They're also trying to start #DonationTuesday as the counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Your time

I can already feel a lot of you thinking "well I give socks because I don't have a lot of money and they're inexpensive so you should be grateful I gave you anything". I understand this concept, I really do. If money is tight, or heck even if it's not but you're so busy out there making money that you're never really present with your loved ones, then give your time. Just spend time with the people who love you. If they're expecting a gift then remind them it's time to watch the Grinch and It's A Wonderful Life and probably a documentary about the current crisis in Syria. You also can and should volunteer to make the world a better place. Have a soup-kitchen Christmas where you all donate your time and serve meals to those who need it most. For everyone who is so scared for the future of this country right now, this is how you'll change what course it's on. Again this goes for other holidays, too. I'm trying to plan for my birthday next year for my circle and I to participate in Habitat for Humanity.

When it's okay to give stuff instead

If a person has what they need to survive, they don't qualify in needing materialistic things. However, there are lots of people who do need things. If you, for example, love extreme couponing for the holidays and door buster sales, etc, then great! Donate what you're buying to a shelter, or ship it to disaster relief programs, or to our soldiers over seas. Where I work there is a very large homeless population so I keep goody bags in my car to give out with items like protein bars or whatever snacks I can get super cheap, tampons, thermal blankets (you can buy these in bulk for less than $1 each), and a printed card with the number and information for NAMI, a charity that offers mental illness treatment to vulnerable communities.

And if you simply MUST give, like say for a White Elephant or something similar then give something they can use. Get some coffee from a local roaster, or a bottle of wine, or something similar. Give them something they need or something they can use that would replace something they would buy themselves. If I got a bottle of Pino Nior for Christmas in a White Elephant I'd be stoked, but if I got a reindeer gag gift that poops chocolate sprinkles... not so much.

Make traditions more important than the gifts

So my family is a good example of this I think. We still gave more presents than I would have liked, we were fortunate in that way, but when I look back on all of the Christmas holidays I've spent with them it's the traditions that stand out the most. These are how you build your community. Every year we dedicate a whole entire day just to baking Christmas cookies (my fav desserts in the world). We invite our friends over and everyone makes triple batches of their favorite cookie and everyone leaves with a sampler of all of the different cookies, with usually enough to bring to neighbors, coworkers, etc. This brings the most cheer to a community because if there's one thing we all have in common, it's a love for food. Other traditions my family participates in is driving through neighborhoods on Christmas Eve looking at the Christmas lights, there's a community that has a contest every year for best display and they offer hayrides through it so we do that, and we binge watch Christmas movies and decorate the tree the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I'm sure you have your own traditions you do with your family, but these are what Christmas is about. These are my favorite memories and the only things I look forward to during the holidays.

Santa PSA

I rant about this every single year during the holidays. I understand that Santa is an important tradition for many families and I'm not asking you to give that up. I AM however asking you to ONLY give ONE present to each child from Santa. There are so many children who do not live in a family as privileged as yours. It is not fair and not right for a child to think they were a bad kid because they got one sweater for Christmas while their friend at school got an XBox and 30 other toys. GIVING ISN'T ABOUT JUST YOU AND YOUR FAMILY. If you want to give a bunch of gifts, even though I've explained that they'd rather have an experience, then make them from you and just one from Santa. Okay, rant over.

How to break the news

So if this post has been at all convincing then you're going to need to tell those in your circle why they're not getting a physical, material gift this year. There are a few ways you can break it to them. First, you could simply send them this post so they, too understand what you now know. Second, you calmly explain to them that they already have everything they need and your love for them cannot possibly be explained in a gift, but rather your experiences, your time, and your gratitude. This is also a good time to bring up that love and support is not synonymous with consumption. Thirdly, if they're kicking and screaming you can still buy them an experience. As a child I would have loved to go on the Polar Express instead of getting the presents much like the socks I mentioned earlier. If my circle would have decided that they were all going to pitch in for tickets instead of buying socks, that would have been much more meaningful because quite frankly I could not tell you more than maybe 5 Christmas presents I received as a kid, but I can explain to you all of the experiences I got instead.

I know traditions are hard to break and I'm not saying throw all of your traditions away. I'm simply saying that if you replace some of your traditions with new ones that make memories you'll notice an improvement in your family dynamic. I'm constantly hearing how this country "just doesn't have any good, old-fashioned family values" and how that's what's wrong with it. If you truly believe that, or at least believe it's important, then changing how you give really could change the world.

 

How to be a Badass Bitch Who Gets Shit Done

Pardon my french... but actually don't because I'm not sorry for it. I suppose the weaker version of this post would be "how to be a well functioning adult who has their life together", but it doesn't have the same punch. So anyways... I'm not an expert on this topic, yet, but I do spend a lot of time on self development and have always just had a knack for getting my life together. So here are my tips that if you follow somewhat religiously, I promise you that you will be the most badass version of yourself.

Exercise!

If there was only one tip that I could give you to be successful, this is the one. I don't care what excuse you have, badass bitches are not lazy. If you do not want to get off of your butt and exercise then you do not want to be the best version of yourself and you can stop reading this post right now. And I am not telling you to exercise to lose weight, that is just a pleasant side effect of working out, I am telling you to because you will feel strong, motivated, and ALIVE. You will gain the confidence held by all badasses because you're going to feel good about yourself and you're going to prove to yourself that you are disciplined enough to get your freaking life together.

TIP: Running is the most efficient form of exercise and it's free, end it with some cool down yoga and a protein shake and then move onto the other steps.

Stop eating garbage!

Seriously, I'm not going to tell you that you need to throw out your chocolate and eat kale, but stop treating your body like a garbage pit. Badass bitches hold themselves to a very high standard and they not only take responsibility for their actions, they OWN it. Yes for breakfast I have an organic boiled egg and green smoothie because I'm fucking worth it. I'm worth so much more than cereal or McGag-me sandwiches. And don't you dare try to tell me a McGriddle just "tastes so good". No, actually, it really doesn't. You want to know what's better than a processed piece of trash? Knowing that you're going to be able to succeed and make something of yourself because you're giving your brain actual food that it can use to think of clever ways to get ahead. Stop allowing yourself to eat mediocre food, badass bitches are not mediocre.

Stop apologizing!

If I hear one more girl say "I'm sorry" when a man walks into her I'm going to lose it! Stop apologizing for things we all know you're not sorry for! You gave someone room-temperature coffee? Do not apologize they can get their own damn coffee. Someone wants to go to a club and you want to stay home and be introverted? Sick, just tell them that and don't apologize for it. Apologizing is basically the same thing as lying to avoid hurting someone's feelings and it WILL lead to codependency. If you are not genuinely sorry for something you have done or said do not apologize. And then when you say your sorry it'll actually mean something.

Side hustle!

Badass bitches do not have only one goal in life, unless that goal is to be badass. You need to have multiple projects going on because the world needs help and most of all it needs you to work on it, whatever that means. For example, I work full time, maintain this blog, just started a podcast, I'm completing a 2 year graduate program in 1 year and starting a non-profit... and I plan on writing books, and probably 70 other projects because I'm ambitious. A common theme here amongst powerful women is they do not settle. If the only thing in my life was my full time job I would be so depressed and would probably also be addicted to TLC shows about morbidly obese people because I would be looking for inspiration. Don't be that person, be a badass bitch who has projects going and is constantly trying to be even more successful. Badass bitches are financially independent and that means it's a clever idea to have back up incomes just in case you lose one.

Be a feminist!

Personally, I don't even believe this is really a thing, you're either a feminist or your sexist. With that said... be an assertive female who acts just as a badass man would and stop allowing people to treat you differently based on your gender. Stop letting men (or anyone for that matter) interrupt you, bump into you, yell at you, or do anything that treats you as lesser of a human being. Example: you do not need to "smile" and look friendly at all times, RBF is not a thing, men do not walk around smiling either.

Discover yourself!

Over and over and over and over again. You know what is the best superpower? Having complete control over your self esteem. If you know that you're a strong, independent woman who is beautiful, takes care of herself, is healthy, and is a productive member of society, nobody can hurt your ego. Nobody can make you feel like any less of a person than you do now because you know exactly who you are and what you're worth and nobody can take that from you. To get to this stage you need to be in love with yourself. Obviously this does not mean you need to be a narcissistic asshole, but you do need to love who you are and who you're trying to be. That positive self image will be your superpower. So get to know yourself and work on the parts you don't like so you can be the best version of yourself.

Go for it!

If you want to do something then find a way to do it. If you want to travel then find a way. Make a budget and stick to it and live your dream. Literally anything is possible if you take the time and effort to make it possible. For example, I wanted to start a non profit so guess what? I researched how to and I'm in the process of starting it with a whole support system behind me ready to help when I need them. Just do it.

Ask for help!

You're not an island. Life is so much easier when work is divided. People are going to surprise you with how willing they are to help you with whatever you need. I needed someone to take photos for this blog because I don't have a lot of time for that particular task, so I asked my sister and she's been an amazing site model. And the more successful you become the more people you'll have volunteering to help you. If you need a work out buddy, or advice on something, reach out to someone who seems to have it together. Build your community. Badass bitches are badass because we stick together and lift each other up.

Read!

AT LEAST 30 minutes per day. Read self help books, business books, fiction, non fiction, whatever! Your vocabulary will improve. You're going to be more interesting because you're going to have more to talk about. Your thought process is going to become more well rounded. You can tell the difference between a person who reads and a person who watches E! News for current events. It makes a difference. Also, listen to podcasts on your commute instead of always listening to the radio. They are a much more productive use of your time (not that I don't also love music...)

Stop settling!

Stop having shitty food, shitty coffee, shitty sex, shitty relationships, shitty friends, shitty drinks, and a shitty life. You are an amazing person who deserves to be surrounded with amazing experiences. (This does not mean blow your cash on expensive tequila btw). What I mean is... do not drink if you cannot afford to drink the good stuff. You need to be at home working on your side hustles if you're in that situation. Do not have a relationship if it is not going to make you the best version of yourself. Stop allowing mediocre things into your life or that's what you're going to be.

Be proactive!

When your alarm goes off in the morning GTFO of your bed. Get your morning routine down so you are at your most productive state throughout the day. Get your evening routine down so you can go to bed and sleep efficiently as well as have an easier morning routine. Organize your thoughts and plan out your time (I like bullet journals, but do whatever works for you). Do you really think Beyonce is hitting her snooze alarm in the morning? No. Do you think she's having a caramel frappacino and a McGriddle for breakfast? No. She's eating like the Queen she is because she knows that's how you are at your most productive state. Stop making excuses for yourself and get your life together.

PSA: A great app is the sleep cycle app if you don't have an apple watch or fitbit. It will track your REM cycles and wake you up at the end of a cycle so you're not jolted awake in deep sleep. I'm not a morning person so this app is the only reason I can get out of bed without hitting snooze.

Use self care!

And although face masks and pedicures are versions of self care, they are not really what I mean. I mean take care of yourself. Go to the dentist, the doctor, get your oil changed, and do the adult things in your life that aren't super fun, but WILL make you feel better. I feel so relaxed after I've given my car an oil change, bath, and good vacuum. I feel like I can take on the world after that. Self care means taking time to do things that will take stress out of your life. 

Say no!

If you're overworked then tell your boss no. If you do not have enough free time for the things you want to do then tell your friends and your family no. This is critical. You need to make sure your pitcher is full before you can pour into other cups. It does not make you a bad person, it makes you an aware, assertive person and people will respect you for it. 

Be a good fucking person!

Badass bitches are NOT stuck up snobs who think they're better than everyone else. You have an obligation to be a productive and decent member of society. Badass bitches recognize this and they fight for this and they're a beacon of light in a very dark world filled with shitty relationships, shitty alcohol and shitty people. Your success is not about just you, it's what you can do with your success. I want power so I can help people with it, not because I'm a power hungry egomaniac. Educate yourself before you have opinions on political issues, or really any issues, and be that breath of fresh air everyone is craving.

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