Intentional Living

Another Birthday

Monday I turned 32, and as my sweet godson pointed out, “wow, that’s old!”

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I actually spent my birthday in NC with my family, mostly my grandma, who recently got some unfortunate health news. Despite that she is still living her life with vitality and joy as always and that was the greatest gift for me to witness for my 32nd rotation on this planet. While there My family put together an epic bbq with so many delicious dishes and enough food to feed an army. I was also there for my grandmother the morning of my birthday when she had to put down her 19 year old dog suddenly after a couple of weeks of rapid decline. And then there were many grocery runs, cooking of meals, watching of HGTV shows, laughing at random things, and discussions of life that took place. All in all wonderful.

being home made me realize what a treasure it is to invest in time with the people you love. I mean we all know that, but this time I really felt that. It became even clearer that all the hard work I do is not for money, but for freedom to be with the people I want, when I want. That is the greatest luxury.

100 Days to Plastic Freedom

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This year for my annual 100 day project I switched things up from my usual mindfulness challenge. I have been looking to reduce my waste and particularly use of single-use plastics, so I decided to use this as an opportunity to do so.

Each weekday I chose one single-use plastic item I but with some regularity and research alternative products that would produce no plastic waste, and minimal waste generally. I documented each of these in my Instagram stories, but for posterity I want to share that research here. I will call this series of posts my journey to “Plastic Freedom.”

Our 14G: a minimalist New York City studio apartment

I recently realized that I can no longer tell people I have been living in Los Angeles for "about 6 months." For some reason 6 months made me feel like I was still new here, fresh off the plane. But it has been 9 months, and pretty soon it will be a year! It's crazy to me how at home I feel here but also how new it all still seems. I still remember my commute to and from my lovely little apartment, the long waits for an elevator, and the casual conversations with our doormen like ti was yesterday. 

Probably needless to say (because if you've followed along for a while you know how neurotic I can be) but I panicked a little about our new home still having so many unfinished projects. This past weekend I decided to start honing in on them which led me down memory lane (aka my camera roll) looking for inspiration. Thats when I decided to put my numerous photos of our old place to use. 

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Our apartment was a ~525 square foot studio on the 14th floor of a high rise in Battery Park City. Despite having only one window in the entire apartment it was very light, and despite being a studio we had little issue with storage space. But that could have been a product of both my partner being pretty minimalist and strategic with our belongings.

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#Our14G on instagram

Bedroom

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I loved our bed "room" and never had an issue with not having a wall or door, even when we had guests for extended stays. I think I just appreciated how minimal it forced us to keep the space, and how open and airy it felt. We had a high bed frame (where suitcases could fit beneath) and a king sized mattress that probably wouldn't fit inside most 1 bedrooms in NYC. We each had matching side tables and side table lamps and a long dresser facing the bed. The dresser was actually 2 ikea pieces we each had before moving in together (thats why his is more yellow-ish than mine!), but we didn't really care and I kind of like the sentimentality of the two coming together in our first home together. Lastly, at some point we added a small armchair and runner to this area to warm it up and give us an extra seat to gave out onto the river from.

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Undoubtedly the best part of this apartment was the view onto the Hudson. It's what sold us on this space and it created our refuge from the business of the city.

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Our mostly white minimalist spot didn't need much more decoration than it's single large window. Just look at how much the view would change from day to day and day to night.

living space

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Our living space was where we worked, relaxed and entertained (yes we entertained!). Along on side of the room was out couch and oversized ottoman, separated from the bedroom by a low bookshelf and plants. On the opposite wall were our desks and desktop computers that also served as netflix players.

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A similar floorplan to ours

Above is a similar floor plan to ours, the kitchen and closets are slightly different, but you get the gist. Adjacent to our entry way and kitchen we kept a small cafe table that was rarely used for eating and more for serving and collecting mail. We mainly ate at the bar or (admittedly) on the couch. I also included a gratutious bathroom pic, I think I took this when we first toured the apartment which is why the sole decorative item which I was obsessed with is missing, a mudcloth print shower curtain from Target. 

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And with that this walk down memory lane comes to an end. So many sweet memories from this home, now off to continue nesting in our new one!

8 Habits I am Committing to In 2018

8 Habits I am Committing to In 2018

Habits have the power to completely transform your life. I have found that little tweaks here and there in my habits makes it easier for me to reach my goals. For instance, last year I wanted to get more sleep and realized I wasn't getting to bed before 11pm (even though I would start winding down for the day at least 2 hours earlier). After having dinner, tidying up, and prepping lunch for the next day, I still had to wash myself up before I could hop into bed. So I decided I would take my shower in the evenings as soon as I got home, before dinner, and then I had less to squeeze in after. That tiny act completely transformed my evenings, and the time where I would then take showers was no longer filled with idling time online "winding down" from the workday.

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2018 Life Resolutions

2018 Life Resolutions

I love goal setting, and I am all for new years resolutions. I think they are a great way to keep moving forward and growing. I also think any day is a great day to set one, and the ringing in of the new year is the perfect inspiration to refresh any goals that may be on the back burner. So I will stop blabbering on and get down to what you're here for, my 2018 resolutions!

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5 Ways I Lived More Intentionally in 2016

So in 2016 I got really into what the interwebs are calling intentional living. Essentially intentional living is living based on your values by making conscious decisions that design a lifestyle around what you believe. Originally, living the kind of life I truly believed in seemed unattainable for me. For me my ideal life would entail consuming less and working toward being zero-waste, eating healthier and higher quailty food, buying from exclusively from sustainable/ethical/local businesses, living slower and being more present in every moment of everyday, committing to and developing my hobbies, and the list goes on and on... For years I was under the impression I couldn't attain all that I just listed either because of finances, time, or a combination of both. Because let's be honest being "green" or buying organic is expensive, and as a twenty-something who largest expense is paying off an education she completed years ago, there isn't a lot of space in the budget for this dream lifestyle. To quote Donald Trump (the only time I ever will btw): WRONG.

There is a way to start easing toward your dream life and living more intentionally. You don't have to buy what society is selling you. Yes, it takes a lot of time self-educating to find alternatives to what is out in the mainstream. And again, yikes!, the money. But if you are like me and are looking for a different way of living, maybe a simpler, slower more conscious one? Then here are 5 ways I have begun building that intentional lifestyle I am truly proud of.

Minimalism

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In 2016 I started calling myself a minimalist out loud for the world to hear. Minimalism was the beginning of a major perspective shift for me a few years ago, but I always kept it quiet for fear of being judged as not "minimal enough". But this year I learned being a minimalist isn't about the absence of things or being able to keep a tally of every item. It is about having only what brings me value and joy and being content with just that. It means trading in things that weigh me down, for experiences that brighten my life and encourage me to grow. Minimalism is about gratitude for what I have earned, not yearning for what I must indebt myself to own.

A lot of people say this but I truly believe it, minimalism looks different for everyone because it is about your values and your choices. No one can ever tell me I am doing it wrong because, although I still have a lot of things compared to some people, I am happy and my "stuff" works for my life. 2016 was the year that I became finally became completely content with being my kind of minimalist. One with more plants that can be counted on two hands and a disorganized collection of craft supplies. And once I accepted that my way of living with less should look different from anyone else's I become more comfortable in my home and with my finances. In the past I have had times where I got the urge to impulse buy and then feel guilty later, but now even my "impulse" purchases are in line with my lifestyle leaving me regret free (if that makes sense?). Honestly I could write a whole post (or many) about my minimalist journey, but I have to say last year was a turning point that has solidified this way of life for me!

Mindfulness

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2016 was also a year where I began to recognize the importance of mindfulness and self care. I have always been the type of person who prides herself on productivity over almost all things. And fortunately up until this year I could work myself non-stop without any repercussions. But this year the stress of working too much began to manifest in physical ailments (nothing too serious) but enough to force me to slow down. I have been Buddhist for 12 years, but I took up meditation to learn about mindfulness in a different way. I wanted to learn how to listen to my mind and body (and hopefully see the warning signs of burnout before it happens!). This mindful meditation has opened my eyes to so many other things that are important to me, like being present with the people I surround myself with and taking out time in the day for myself.  And an added bonus, once I became more mindful of each days moments I took little steps to make the day more enjoyable like walking the longer but more peaceful route to work (talk about intentional changes!)!

Purposful Purchases

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A big change for me, and one I thought most unattainable, was how I spend my money. I have always wanted to be able to buy sustainable, support great brands that are doing things right but I have always though that would be out of my reach because of my budget. But with the help of minimalism and needing less I found my budget started to loosen up and I could focus on buying a good quality coat made in the US versus having several from my former favorite fast fashion chains. Same goes for household and beauty products. I began carving out time to research natural alternatives in my beauty routine and around the house. And now when shopping for groceries we cut back on meats and focus on great quality produce. To stay on budget I prepare a lot more from scratch (which again takes time), but somehow I have found the time as this became a greater priority for me. By focusing on the power of my dollar and buying things I truly love, from clothes to food, I have gained an even greater respect for what money can do. Everyday better products are becoming more accessible and that is the inertia I want to support.

Hygge Moments

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Hygge (aka hooga). I totally hitched my cart to this bandwagon and have fully committed to the lifestyle. If you have yet to hear, hygge is the Danish philosophy of coziness. Discovering hygge and prioritizing comfort has validated my inner introvert in the most beautiful ways. Last year I made it a point to embrace my moments at home to make them restorative and peaceful. And when hosting I was constantly on the look out for what would make for the most hyygelig experience! 

Hometown Exploration

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The last way that I found I lived more intentionally in 2016 was by not taking my city for granted! As a New Yorker I tend to overlook the fact that I have access to so many amazing things: culture, public spaces, food, other people! But I took notice last year and took conscious efforts to see new places and get out of my usual routine. In part I was motivated to scratch my chronic travel itch, which I realized from my meditations I shouldn't push aside. It's like they say, YOLO - you only live once so you really have to prioritize the living part! My heart has grown even wider for my city and I have so many new favorite places because of it! So to sum up this post of how I live more intentionally, I will leave you with three of my favorite places I intentionally visited in NYC during 2016!

I look forward to what 2017 brings. Tell me, what do you think of living intentionally? Are you into this concept or do you practice it in your life? I would really like to know!

2017 Travel Resolutions

I am a goal setter. That's why I love the process of looking back on the year and setting new years resolutions. Resolutions are firm determinations that I view as essential to living an intentional life. 2016 was the first year I made goals specifically geared toward travel and I found it really useful when preparing for my trips so I decided to do it again this year!

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So here goes, 3 resolutions I am making to myself in my quest for even more enjoyable travel in the years ahead...

Self Care

I set big themes in addition to my specific resolutions to hone in on characteristics I want to develop in myself. Last year's theme was hustle, a few years before that it was compassion... this year it is self care. I want to make a habit of practicing self care everyday, including when I travel. Whether it is 10 minutes of meditation, or spending more time on my cleansing my face, I want to take better care of me (I talked a bit about this in my birthday post too). This theme may be a direct consequence of my year of hustle which allowed me to see a need for it in every aspect of my life. Practicing self care when traveling is something else I have noticed I skimp on. Sometimes I trade off packing light for bringing leaving behind some of my favorite products in exchange for multi-use ones. Or I rush through meals or sleep less to fit in more activities. Or even book inconvinient flights to squeeze in the most daylight hours at my destination. I want to make sure I don't sacrifice to much comfort when I travel so that when I return home I am not craving a post-vacation vacation!

Weekend Trips

This year I did a lot of local exploration (which is another new habit I've adopted!) and I plan on expanding this in the new year to short trips around the US! Last year I made the resolution to see more of this vast country, which I did. But I realized late in the game that I could see even more by taking advantage of long weekends and holidays. These types of 2-3 day visits to nearby cities may be just the thing to stave off the lull leading up to a vacation and the post-vacation blues!

Human Component

My final travel resolution has to do with connecting with people. I am an introvert, and while not rude I generally don't go out of my way to meet new people when I travel. But that is something I want to change. On a recent trip to California I had the opportunity to meet up with a couple of instagram friends, @brownkids (Roe and Erin), and it was truly a life expanding experience (and there aren't many times you get to say that about brunch!). This showed me that although museums and architecture are fine ways to spend your time there is nothing like a conversation amongst people with a variety of perspectives on life.

That pretty much wraps up my travel resolutions (so far)! I would love to know if you have any resolutions for 2017, or if you believe in resolutions at all. And either way, how do you try to travel deeper and improve your experiences overall? Please let me know!

I hope you have a safe and fabulous time ringing in the New Year. Heres to an incredible 2017!!!