Minimalist Maintenance: Nail Polish

For some people minimalism comes naturally. They easily remember to remove what is not needed, used or loved and their space is always organized in a way that thoughtfully showcases only their most precious possessions. They also don’t keep bringing clutter into the house.

*Le sigh*

I wish I was like that!

Last December I did a clean sweep of my entire house, room by room, and posted about it on my blog here. But here I am six months later and I’m beginning to feel that I may need some “Minimalist Maintenance”!

I’ll be posting weekly the different areas that I am pruning down, and this week is a small project: Nail Polish.

To be fair, I think a large part of the reason why I feel I could use some maintenance is not because I’ve brought in a whole bunch of things, but because what I realized when I spent the large part of this Saturday cleaning out my room was that I was ready to part with things that I wasn’t ready to part with six months ago. Suddenly I was ready to throw away, donate or sell jewelry, clothes, makeup and other cosmetics. I had absolutely no plans on doing this; I started with my nail polish and from there it kept going.

FullSizeRender
Twenty-two nail polishes total to start with

I didn’t have a ton of nail polish but the way they were thrown into a big makeup bag made it a pain to see the colors clearly and quickly. Plus, it was obvious that I needed to organize them because I found this:

FullSizeRender(3)
Oops

Two clear polishes from the same company. I remember buying the second one a couple of months ago because I couldn’t find the other one even though I was sure that I still had some left.

After some humming and hawing, I separated what I was going to keep and what I was giving away. All of the ones that didn’t suit me, never used, or didn’t like the formula got the boot:

FullSizeRender(2)
So long!

And now I am left with a small variety of polishes that all fit snugly inside of a small makeup bag that was previously not being used:

FullSizeRender(1)
In the end there were thirteen, including 2 clear polishes 🙂

Now I can see exactly what I have so that I don’t have a repeat of purchasing anything twice and I’m excited to use some colors that I haven’t in a while. I also was able to use the bigger makeup bag for my actual makeup storage, which really needed it more than my nail polish did.

This small project was a great way to motivate me to tackle other areas that would require more thought and care like my clothes and jewelry. Next week, I’ll post my jewelry maintenance. I’m very proud and excited about the new way I’ve organized it all!

signature

Hermès Ulysse Notebook PM & MM Size Comparison

Today I thought I would offer a size comparison of the Hermès Ulysse notebooks in the PM & MM sizes. This notebook is nowhere near as popular as the Filofax, Traveler’s Notebook or Moleskine so it was difficult for my to get a sense of the sizes while I was searching through pictures online. The Ulysse notebook does not follow the usual “personal” or “A5″ standards of most agendas which makes it even more difficult to convert sizes as you’re thinking about what may or may not fit inside of it.

Below are pictures of the notebooks side by side to each other and other more commonly known notebooks. I also made a video of the notebooks, click the link in the post to view it. I’ll finish with some quick thoughts about the notebooks themselves.

MM size: 9.1″ tall x 7.5″ wide, retail $765.00

PM size: 6.3″ tall x 5.3” wide, retail $555.00

IMG_4503
MM size is in Étoupe and PM size is in Bleu Électrique

IMG_4504

IMG_4506
Midori Traveler’s Notebook comparison

IMG_4508

IMG_4505
Standard composition notebook comparison

IMG_4509

The MM size is almost exactly the same size as a standard composition notebook. The composition notebook is around 1/2 inch taller, but the width is the same.

IMG_4507
Standard “Moleskine” style notebook comparison

The sizes are not easy to pin down, but those pictures should give you a better idea. I also made a youtube video of the sizes if you’d like to see them in action:

Hermes Ulysse Notebook Size Comparison & Review

Overall, the notebooks have yummy leather and wonderful colors. However, there are two aspects that you should be aware of:

  1. Flexibility of the leather
  2. Refills prices

If you’ve used any other agenda like a Filofax, Traveler’s Notebook, Leuchtturm or Moleskine, you will know that you can use the agenda itself to write against since the leather or the cover will offer support. The Ulysse notebooks do not share this in common. This was something that I did not even think to consider until I had already purchased it and realized just how floppy the leather was. In the video I give you a good idea of what I’m talking about. This is not a problem if you are at a desk or another hard surface to prop up the notebook.

Secondly, the refills are very high-quality but also high priced. Here are some prices from the website:

MM plain notebook refill, $65.00

PM lined notebook refill, $75.00

PM Annual agenda refill, $90.00

If you use these agendas as much as I do, this will start to add up. A lot of Ulysse notebook users refill using an alternative that will fit in the same plastic strip. In the video and at the moment for my MM size I am using the Minimalist JournalBook but as I explain the video, the width is not exactly ideal. After I’m finished with the current refill I plan to use the TOPS Sophisticated Business Notebooks since the width is just a bit shorter than the other one. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find an alternative refill for the PM size, so I’ve been purchasing the Hermes ones from the website.

I hope that this helped if you are considering purchasing these notebooks. There are a couple of drawbacks, but overall the leather quality is unparalleled and the colors are stunning so I would recommend purchasing these if you can overlook the refill price.

signature

 

My 3 Summer Self-Honoring Rituals

In a couple of weeks summer will be here, and while it may or may not feel like it where I live (you never know until you know in the Pacific NW!) I’m looking forward to partake in some of my favorite self-honoring rituals for summer.

If I could encapsulate the feeling of summer in one word it would be joy. The days get longer, blooms are exploding into their prime, and the radiant sunshine gives everyone reason to be outside and be active. Fittingly, play and work become equally important as we plan our summer vacations and find ourselves thinking of any excuse to leave work early. These rituals are designed to enliven and soothe the body so that I can continue enjoying the fair weather as long as it lasts.

Here are three of my summer rituals that I do to make the most of it:

Peppermint Tea Bath

Image result for tea bath

I enjoy this concoction when I’m feeling drained from the excessive heat. Especially during Ramadan when I’m fasting, I love taking this peppermint tea bath to help restore balance and energy. Peppermint is naturally cooling, chamomile is calming, and lavender is perfect for summer. Here is what you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup of peppermint tea or leaves
  • 1/2 cup of chamomile tea
  • 1 circular piece of cheesecloth
  • string
  • 4 drops of lavender essential oil

Tie up the tea leaves into a giant tea bag, taking care to leave enough room to allow the leaves to circulate within. As you fill your bath with hot water, drop in the bag and the lavender oil. Let your tea bag “steep” as the water cools down to a comfortable temperature. You may get tempted to stay in until the water gets cold, but dry off to a comfortable temperature and feel relaxed yet energized– not cold.

Take a Hike

Image result for seaside seattle

I am definitely not the outdoorsy type, but I still take time to release the expansionary energy that flows out of me during summer. Hiking doesn’t always need to be deep in nature; beautiful landscapes can be found in urban environments. My favorite spot is to walk down to the pier in Seattle during my lunch break and find a spot where I can enjoy a wide and far-reaching view. I’m fortunate to work in such a beautiful city so I love finding ways to make the most of it during the summer months. I focus on breathing deeply, feeling the cool breeze from the water, and feeling the warm sun from the sky. If you don’t already, find time to do some relaxing yet physical activity this summer in the big outdoors. It’s invigorating and balancing!

Fragrant Pillows & Handkerchiefs

Image result for citrus

This one is so simple: apply 4 drops of lavender essential oils to cotton cloths and slip them in your pillowcases. The lavender is cooling and calming, which is perfect for those warm summer nights. For a daily afternoon wake-up call when I find my mood slumping, I love inhaling into my white, embroidered handkerchief that has been infused with a few drops of orange oil. Any sort of citrus essential oil will perk you right up, so I invite you to find the one or combination of oils you prefer!

These are the a few of my musts during the summer because of how alive and happy they make me!

What are some of your favorite rituals?

 

signature

Book Review: May Cause Miracles

I am truly grateful for having found this life-changing book. Gabrielle Bernstein created a 42 day program comprised of morning and evening meditations and journaling sessions that are designed to address the fear that is stopping us from receiving more abundance, peace and happiness in our health, wealth and self.

Bernstein uses “A Course In Miracles” as the foundation for this program. I’ve never read the Course before, I’ve only ever flipped through it enough to know that it was inspired from Christian doctrines. Even though she uses the Course heavily in her program, you wouldn’t know it. The diction is spiritual and not religious so people of all backgrounds can understand the message and participate in it.

What I loved about the program was that it challenges you to write out and observe the fears your ego creates, with love and forgiveness. There were some very deep fears that came out of me that I did not know had such a hold on me. While completion of the program will not transform you into Gandhi or Buddha, it gives you the awareness of the choice we all have between falling into our ego’s illusion or choosing the loving perspective that is real. I was surprised at some of the actual miracles that happened in my life during the course even though the program teaches that miracles should be a normal part of a life centered on love, gratitude and forgiveness. I feel more conscious of when my ego starts to creep back in along with all of the fears, doubts and other limiting emotions, but now I have the knowledge to calm all of this. Unfortunately, there is never going to be a time when the ego will be completely conquered, but I know that I can greatly limit its power over my beliefs.

I recommend this book for anyone who is feeling blocked or scared or is in need of a shift. The program works through different aspects of ourselves that are critical to happiness such as our self-image, wealth, relationships and physical well-being, so if there’s something that’s bothering you, it will come up in due time. There is morning and evening work along with simple daily affirmations to adhere to, but the exercises are quick (no more than 10 minutes, most of the time shorter) and the payoff is big. Of course, as with any spiritual exploration, it only works if you work it, so only those who are open to taking a candid look at themselves will benefit.

signature

 

Book Review: Laughing All the Way to the Mosque

This was a first for me; I’ve never read an autobiographical book of a modern-day Muslimah.

Frankly, it’s not a topic that interests me because I feel like I would already know what would be written; que the stereotypical struggles of overcoming racism, oppression of a patriarchal society, religion vs. the modern world, etc. Perhaps that’s dismissive and presumptive of me, but in all honestly, that’s completely how I see it. But this book was given to me as an Easter gift by my aunt (ironic!) who wasn’t sure if it would be offensive or not, but thought it would at least be humorous. I figured it would be a waste not to read it.

The author, Zarqa Nawaz, is a Canadian of Pakistani origin who starts the book with her grade school self wanting to fit in with the other Canadian girls in her class. The only thing standing in her way are her pungent curried chicken drumsticks that her mom packs for lunch. Although after some whining she successfully convinces her mother to pack her PB&J like the other girls, after a short trial period she comes to the conclusion that fitting in is overrated and leaves you more hungry.

As you continue reading, you will see that that is the theme of Nawaz’ life. Although I was doubtful about the impact this book would have on me, surprisingly, Nawaz has gumption which is something more Muslim women should have. At first, due to parental pressure she started going down the traditional and boring path of pre-med undergraduate studies, medical school and then marriage, but she knew she was better than that. Luckily, she did not get accepted to medical school which triggered two desperate quests in her and her mother: Nawaz wanted to get into journalism school and her mother wanted her to get married. Of course, Nawaz finishes her quest first and from there her talent at writing takes her from the newsroom, to producing a couple of short independent films, to the first sitcom of its kind on Canadian television, “Little Mosque on the Prairie”. Oh yes, and she does find the time to get married and have four children in the midst of all of this.

She takes us through all of these milestones in her life and the hilarious events that punctuate them. Her writing is funny in a way that is well-suited to a medium such as film or TV. There were a few times when I felt that she was stretching the humor in a situation (bathroom scene with the contractor, jinn outhouse by the gas station) but for the most part I chuckled along to her foibles. At times she shocked me with her cheeky inattention to social rules (her comments at the dead body washing committee were too much!) but I suppose it’s that same boldness that compelled her to forge the career she did.

This is a mostly light-hearted but meaningful read that explains the common cultural and religious issues that Muslim women encounter at some point in their lives. I was expecting the lamenting of a disenfranchised woman but was surprised to find the smart and ballsy woman for me to admire. Overall, I highly recommend this book to someone interested in seeing a different type of Muslimah than the ones you see on the news — endearingly irreverent though she may be.

signature

A Beautiful Life Starts With a Beautiful Day

A lot of times we catch ourselves thinking about how our lives could be different and about all of the ways we are trying to improve it to reflect our own self-expression. We can sometimes get carried away with all of the potentiality that we may cause ourselves to be unhappy with our current lives. It can be easy to fall into the mindset of asking ourselves, “When will it be my turn?” or “Am I there yet?”.

I’ll tell you a secret: You’re never there. There will always be something to yearn for, to keep you reaching. There’s no end point, until it all ends. It’s human nature.

To prevent this reality from burning me out, it’s crucial to take experience your beautiful life day by day. It’s certainly exciting to see your beautiful life unfold before you in big, dramatic ways, but most days aren’t filled with highly compelling events (despite what social media may depict). But this doesn’t mean that each day doesn’t bring its own little opportunities for joy and excitement.

For example, I can’t wait for the day when I can finally work from home without commuting to work for three hours a day. But until that day comes I use this time to listen to my favorite podcasts and audio books and boost my mood by singing in the car. I would also love to go back to living in France one day so I find ways to bring France to me. I listen to French songs, read French books, watch French movies, drink my morning café just like how I remember it was and enjoy French treats from a local shop that imports them. Doing these actions makes me feel as if I am living the life I truly want which puts me in a mindset of gratitude and positivity.

The life you envision for yourself will certainly be different, but it’s all about moving closer to the sensations that we wish to experience by finding ways to experience the same delight within the lives we have now. Doing so not only makes our lives shift faster in the direction we want, but makes the process feel easy and fun.

If you find that thinking about your dream life is making you feel overwhelmed and discouraged, then try to incorporate one new action into your day that will make you feel as if you’re already there. Like I said, there’s no destination so you may as well find a way to enjoy the ride one day at a time.

signature

 

 

 

Motivational Monday: Have Low Expectations

You might have heard that one key to finding happiness is to keep your expectations low. But on the other hand you are also told to keep goals and grind, hustle and work towards the life of your dreams.. How can these two attitudes exist at the same time in our heads and why is it important to do so?

Let’s start with the more obvious one which is the purpose of having goals and a vision for your life. If you don’t have a plan, you are almost certainly planing to fail. Goals allow us to focus our energy in a certain direction and know when we are progressing so that we can appreciate all that we have accomplished. A vision motivates us to continue trying when it is tempting to stop, which builds character and resilience.

With all of the benefits that are gained from keeping a lofty vision, what is meant when we are told to have low expectations or to let go of resistance? Isn’t this contradictory to the “never give up”, “keep on hustling” mindset? No. This attitude is not talking about lowering our standards for our life, it’s talking about not becoming emotionally attached to an outcome that is beyond our control. Visions are a combination of controllable efforts on our part and trust and faith that the other parts will fall into place. For example, if your goal is to get promoted to a certain position there are many controllable aspects that you will put effort into such as: discussing a career plan with your immediate manager, networking with people in that department, developing skills that will be pertinent in that position, and beefing up your resume with applicable experience and achievements.  However, there are so many pieces of this goal that are uncontrollable such as: the merits of the other candidates, whether or not the position actually comes available, or even if your interviewer actually likes you or not. Both the controllable and uncontrollable aspects combined bring you an outcome but the only expectations you should have about the process is what is within your control. It is a meaningless expense of emotional energy to attach yourself to an outcome that is ultimately not up to you. Another reason to keep yourself unattached to a result is because you never know what other, better opportunities may be given to you in the future as a result of something not going the way you envisioned. Life is unpredictable, and that includes being unpredictable in a good way!

Aiming high but having low expectations should be rephrased as aiming high but leaving options open because that’s really what it is. This sort of attitude keeps your motivation focused and attracts better opportunities even in the face of less than ideal outcomes. A healthy attitude toward life is to remain open and optimistic because you never know what’s waiting around the corner. Release yourself from unreasonable expectations and focus on your efforts and before you know it, life will be running towards you instead of you chasing after it.

signature