Minimalist Maintenance: Jewelry

The second part of this series is dedicated to cleaning out my jewelry and keeping only those pieces that I love to wear. I was determined to give away anything that I didn’t wear or had lukewarm feeling about, so I actually ended up donating about 80% of my necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. Now my pieces are displayed in a pleasing manner that lets me truly enjoy and appreciate their beauty.

Take a look at the before and after:

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Not very appealing, is it?

Previously, I kept the bulk of my jewelry in this box. Everything from bracelets, anklets, necklaces, watches and earrings were tangled together which made it a headache to try and find what I wanted to wear. About 90% of everything here ended up being donated.

 

I found a lot of pieces that I hadn’t worn in about two or more years, so those definitely ended up going. The rest of them were no longer my style but were in perfect condition so I knew that someone else would get use out of them.

Now all of my jewelry is in my closet and put on display as if they are in a store. It’s so easy for me to see everything all at once and choosing my pieces for the day are so much more enjoyable!

 

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All of my jewelry in one spot and one glance!

 

This might have been the one of the more gratifying reorganizations that I completed. I just love how everything is easy to access, beautifully placed and of course, including the Hermes orange boxes and bags are a fun way to make use of them. One of these days I would like to upgrade the metal shelves to white wooden ones, but for the most part, I’m happy with my work. Now, getting ready in the morning is like going on a trip to the jewelry store and the best part is everything is already mine!

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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

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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

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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

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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?

 

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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.

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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.

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3 Ways Elegant Women Remain Collected

We all want to feel more in control when things go awry. I’ve never met anyone who enjoyed feeling nervous and helpless and I’ve also met some women who seem to defy all characteristics of normal human reactions when it hits the fan. It made me wonder what this quality was and if I could learn it too. After some study of their behavior, I realized that this quality was “elegance”.

Now, elegance is not snobbery and high tea with lace fans and finger sandwiches.

Elegance is a state of mind and therefore anyone can be elegant — strands of pearls and diamond rings are not compulsory. What elegant women share in common is their mind. They are focused, clear, and decisive in their thoughts which leaves very little room for them to feel “off”, worried or hysterical. After much study, I’ve reduced their behavior down to these three ways to that use to stay calm, cool and collected.

1. They know their priorities

If you ask most women what is important in their lives, you’ll be inundated with an avalanche of things which is no wonder most women feel like their running on steam much of time.

Elegant women are not super-human. They have the same amount of time and energy as anyone else, but they know where to focus it and not give it away to unimportant people and things.

To feel in control, you need to be able to constantly decide what is truly, deeply important to you and be at peace with your decisions. There is this phenomenon called “FOMO” today. That stands for the “fear of missing out” and that has no place in an elegant woman’s life. If you find yourself at the mercy of FOMO and afraid to cut off things and people, just remember that if everything is important to you, then nothing really is.

2. They abhor drama

In a world where vulgar, outrageous personalities are gossiped about, emulated and celebrated, elegant women take a step away from these people and prefer to acquaint themselves with those who uplift and inspire others to our highest ideals. Choose the high road all the time and soon you’ll find yourself among others who have done the same.

There’s also the drama that women create within themselves by giving away their feelings self-worth to other people. How many women do you know always think about what someone else is thinking about them and base their decisions on what someone else thinks? These women torture themselves which shows up as social anxiety by trying to know the unknowable — and frankly, the not worth knowing. Elegant women are truly confident in themselves, not confident in what others think of them. There’s a distinction there that makes all the difference.

Lastly, an elegant woman does not create negative thoughts in less than ideal situations. She understands that things will happen that are beyond her control and all she can do is remain level-headed and make the best decision with the knowledge she has. These last couple of weeks have not been the best: my husband got in a car accident (thankfully he’s fine even though the car is totaled!), my car has some sort of electrical issue that even the car shop can’t figure out so that car can’t be driven until they bring in an electrician, my husband’s job interview did not go as he wanted and they chose another candidate, and due to all of the car issues there are going to be some hefty, unexpected bills coming our way soon. With all of these events, it is very tempting to succumb to the stress and anxiety and begin to weave negative thoughts into my days, but an elegant women sees the facts for what they are.

Have these last two weeks been an anomaly? Yes.

Does that mean my life is falling apart and that nothing good will ever happen to me ever again? No.

Can I handle this with grace and not let it affect my overall happiness? Yes.

Life happens and there’s nothing that can stop that. Sometimes what seems like a bad thing can actually end up being good for you. It was time for a car upgrade anyway.

3. They are disciplined and intentional

Like I mentioned before, elegance is a state of mind and the mind is an incredible thing. It takes a lot of discipline to control your thoughts and actions, most people just let the first feeling that comes into their brain decide their actions. An elegant woman knows that life is just a series of decisions between what is right and what is easy.

On the same line, if something is important then you have to truly intend to do it. An elegant women does this by putting it down in a calendar. This can come in many different varieties and can be electronic or old-fashioned pen to paper (my preference). For example, if you decide that writing that novel is truly important to you (this is key) then you will write in your calendar the steps required to accomplish that:

  1. Write the novel
  2. Research the best publisher for you
  3. Find an illustrator

All that’s left to do is to tap into your discipline to believe in yourself and do those steps.

Of course, elegant women have their days when they feel stressed out, get angry, make some drama and commit themselves to something that they don’t truly feel is important to them. No one is perfect. But they don’t stay in that space for long, certainly not long enough to ever make a real impact on their lives, but if you are ever feeling that like, just remember these 3 methods and get back to being and living your fabulous elegant self.

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Getting Clean: Be Honest About Your Motivations

Let’s be honest.

I’d wager that more often than you think, the interactions you have with people in your life have a secret agenda behind them. Without us really being conscious of them, we make decisions based on motivations that are impure.

So what’s the big deal?

Keeping secrets has actually been proven to be harmful to our brain. Neuroscientists believe that it is better for us to either confess our secrets or not participate in keeping them at all. The reason for this involves a lot of complicated medical terminology but basically, it stresses your brain out. It puts your brain in a limbo because a part of the brain that is in charge of our emotional responses is also wired to tell the truth. Whenever you become privy to something secret, this part of the brain starts telling all the other parts of the brain to tell it and get it out so that it can do more important things like learning. When you don’t tell the secret and keep it locked in because you don’t want to hurt someone you prevent this part of the brain from working regularly and it becomes stressed. This can lead to some pretty unpleasant effects such as a low immune system, high blood pressure, memory loss, increase in the stress hormone coritsol and gastrointestinal and metabolic issues.

With that said, let’s get clean by following the steps below:

Step One

Pick something coming up in your schedule that you’ve committed to doing. Maybe you don’t have anything planned for this weekend, but you have to go to work on Monday morning. That’s fine — any commitment will do.

Step Two

Keeping this commitment in your mind, think about why you are doing it. I want you to ignore that first reason that pops up in your head — “because I have to” — and really go deep with this. Maybe you go to work because you need the money, because you want the recognition from your boss, but its mostly because you want the approval of your family. Who knows? Only you do, so think hard and find the reason that feels the most true.

Step Three

Now that you have the real motivation, think about what you let others think about why you are doing what you are doing. Using the example for going to work, if the real motivation is the paycheck, you may make your boss think that you love working for him or the company or it’s such a great opportunity to learn and grow and blah blah blah. If there is a disconnect between the reason in step two and this step, then you’re keeping a secret.

Step Four

Now that you have found a hidden disconnect — a secret — in your life, it won’t do to just sweep it under the rug. You’ve only just begun to clean up your motivations so to keep on going you have to be truthful to yourself. You can tell your boss that you love your job, but remember that you’re here for the paycheck. You can tell your friend that “No, that dress doesn’t make you look fat, but perhaps this dress will accentuate your body better”, but understand the reasons why you tell her that — because you value her friendship and companionship more than your opinions on her wardrobe choices.

Once you continue following the steps above as often as you can in your life, you will more easily live your truth and begin to attract people and interactions that bring out your pure motivations instead of people and situations that make you perpetuate a web of deception. In fact, this is the reason why therapy, whether it’s journaling or speaking with a professional doctor, is so helpful. By staying attuned to the real motivations in your own interactions,  you can quickly identify the motivations of others and their hidden agendas and intelligently make decisions to avoid involving yourself in situations that may compromise your truth. You’ll start to feel freer and lighter as you unravel the web of manipulation that tangled your brain and you’ll be able to use that boost of energy to focus on living your life the way you truly love surrounded with people who truly love you.

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5 Ways to Feel Better About Life

Sometimes we need a good pick me up to make us right again and I’m sharing with you some of my favorites that always work for me.

  1. Get up and get out

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If you’re feeling down it’s so tempting to stay in bed all day watching Netflix and vegging out. But do you ever notice how doing what you want isn’t what you need? The first thing I must do to feel better is to get up, put my make up on and a nice outfit and get out of the house. Once you take a look at your reflection and see how great you look, you’ll instantly feel your mood start to lift.

2. Get a manicure and pedicure

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While you’re sitting and relaxing you can start to unwind from whatever is on your mind. A manicure is so relaxing and afterwards you’re left with clean and pretty nails! It’s just another way to look good and therefore feel good and it never fails to lift my spirits. If you don’t like manicures you could also get a massage or a facial or maybe even a hair cut.

3. Do something for someone else

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Sometimes what you need to do is just get out of your own head. A good way to do this is to stop thinking about your own issues and help someone else with something. This weekend my grandmother was busy making kimchi and I offered to help her since it is a very arduous and time-consuming process. She was glad to have me help and it felt good to be useful for someone. I bet you have some family or friends who can use a helping hand and I bet you’ll feel better for helping them.

4. Sit in a cafe

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Sitting down and enjoying a coffee while watching people in the city walk by can really help you think through your issue. Bring along a book and the change in scenery and fresh air will do you some good.

5. Write about it and make some movement

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Whatever is bothering you — write it down. Sometimes if its something that someone did that is bothering me I will write a letter to that person, describing exactly how I feel and exactly what they did. I won’t actually send the letter because the language will probably be quite strong and hurtful, but it does help to get it out so that when I do face the person I can face them more composed and clear- headed since I’ve removed my emotions from the situation. Once the writing is done I encourage you to take the next step to righting what’s wrong. Whether it concerns another person, your work, or a personal issue, make a positive move towards the direction you want to go. It’s so easy to get complacent about a situation, so if you recognize that something isn’t how you want it to be, then take the necessary steps to make it so.

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