I am bad at self care

September 15, 2017

Saying I’m bad at self care might be generous. Absolutely awful is probably much more accurate.

I struggle with nearly all aspects of self care, from taking the time to work out (because I’m lazy) to getting massages.  The one thing I do well is ensure I sleep enough on a nightly basis.  I am really an 8 hours a night sort of girl and while I can get through several days on less, you’d better believe I am taking the time to catch up on those precious zzz’s as soon as I can.

Sometimes I just feel so damn guilty taking the time away from the things I should be doing for what feels like really frivolous and optional activities.  Do I really need to be reading this fun book when I could instead be reading the one from scrum?  2 hours for a massage seems excessive, maybe if I get a foot massage for an hour instead, I can respond to emails and not feel like I’m wasting time.

Every entrepreneur and freelancer I know feels this way, especially when money is tight.  I am in Chiang Mai, Thailand right now and I arrived with a chunk of money set aside specifically for massages.  I know myself well enough to know I won’t go for massages unless I have a separate budget for fun things that has to be spent on fun things (massages, pens, ice cream etc.)

As I lay on the massage bed yesterday, I spent the first 30 minutes fretting about all the other things I could (should?) be doing at that moment and composing emails in my head.  What a waste.  I finally relaxed and enjoyed the massage but the guilt of taking the time to self care led to my staying up late working on some pitches.

And then this morning I was chatting with a friend and reassuring her that she needed to take the time to care for herself, that it’s okay to sleep in sometimes and to take a day off when you’re not feeling well. I know this intellectually but I have a hard time with it myself.  There are so many reasons we need to take the time for self-care, not the least being that we will do better work if we are well rested, well fed and physically healthy.

That’s right.  As a wise man once said…

When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.

So here are the arguments my inner voice likes to hit me with when I try to prioritize self care and how I’m working on shutting it up.

But, you haven’t finished task #53 today!

Is it urgent? Can it wait until tomorrow? Great. I’m going to sleep then and if you try to keep me up fretting, I will sleep in tomorrow.  You know I will. And if you wake me up early, I’ll take a nap!

A 2 hour Thai massage?  Didn’t you just have one the other day?  Why don’t you get a foot massage and respond to some emails instead?

I’d love to. Are you going to give me a pass to spend $200/hour on a Thai massage in a few weeks instead?

……

Yea, that’s what I thought. Think about it this way…these two hour massages are what enable me to sit at my laptop for several hours a day in the hard chairs at coffeeshops.  No massage means a lot less coffee shop time.

Stop reading fun books like “American Gods”.  You should be reading “Tribes” or “Pivot” or that Scrum book instead?

I read “Pivot” yesterday. Today is a fun book.

Ohmygod.  Look at your inbox.  You can’t go have sushi with friends.  You should be trying for inbox 0.

Hahaha.  I have around 500 emails to deal with.  Inbox 0 isn’t happening today. Plus, my friend is going to tell me more about the really cool article she’s working on so maybe I’ll get inspired to write too.  See…productivity.

Why are you writing this blog post?  You owe your client 2 articles in 2 days and you haven’t even started researching one of them!

It’s called warm-up writing.  Chill, inner voice.  Client work is up next and I promise I’ll finish one of those articles today.

And so on.  It’s not perfect and my inner critic is a real bitch.  I find ignoring her impossible but negotiating with her seems to work better.  It’s led to more and more self care time in the last few years, which has lead to a happier and more productive Hobo.

My Secret Inspirations

Happy September.

How are you feeling about how your year has gone so far? Thrilled? Grumpy? Proud? Worried? Don’t worry. Just because the year is two thirds over doesn’t mean there isn’t time for you to change what your 2017 looks like.

I remind myself of this every month. What has passed already does not necessarily define my year or my life. There is always time to make changes and shift direction. As part of that, at the beginning of every month, I carve out an hour or two to listen to some of my favorite people speak about the things that matter to me most.

Yes, I’ve listened to these dozens of times, to the point that I have almost memorized them and yes, I will keep listening to them over and over, until I have genuinely incorporated the messages into the way I think and act on an every day basis.

So what are these talks? I’m so glad you asked. 😀

Most of them are TED talks so feel free to do what I’ve done and download the audio/video onto your phone or tablet via the handy app so you can listen at your leisure.

One of my all-time favorite authors and speakers is Brené Brown. I adore her and her message more than I, as a fairly articulate person, can explain. I found her through her TED talk on vulnerability and am now equally in love with her message on listening to shame. I have read all her books and happily purchased the audible version of her talks on the power of vulnerability. As someone who didn’t grown up with an understanding of shame resilience and the importance of being vulnerable and true to yourself, of being wholehearted and enough, her message has been incredibly powerful for me. I hope one day to live as she inspires me to and also to get to speak with her in person (call me if you want that to happen, Brené. I will legit fly to Texas to have coffee with you.)

Another favorite whose books I have devoured in Malcolm Gladwell. His talk on spaghetti sauce helped me understand decision making and choice and well, his books are fantastic. You can get an idea of his book David & Goliath by watching his TED talk of the same name.

Susan Cain’s TED talk on the power of introverts introduced me to her work and her book Quiet. This book gave me so much insight into who I really am (yes, an introvert, despite what you may think) and that it’s okay to give myself the quiet time I need to be my best self. Whether your’e an introvert or not, this book (or at the very least, the talk) should be something you learn from. There are so many introverts in the world and Western Society is not built for us.

The first time I watched Amy Cuddy’s talk on body language, I learned a lot.  The second time, I noticed the part of her story and thought “Yikes. Recovering from something like that seems nearly impossible.” I can now assure you it’s neither impossible nor easy and I have so much more respect for who is she and what she has accomplished. I listen to this talk at least several times a year to remind myself to open up and be confident, both physically and emotionally.

I wasn’t excited to watch Sarah Kay’s talk the first time and avoided it for months. I hadn’t been a fan of spoken word poetry until I watched her talk, but now I’ve seen it enough times I almost have B memorized.

What changed my mind forever on spoken word poetry wasn’t Sarah Kay though, it was Shane Koyczan’s for the beautiful and the bullied, which brought tears to my eyes, no matter that I’m not a crier. It still does and I’ve seen it dozens, perhaps hundreds, of times. No matter who you are, you’ve had these moments.  You’ve been the bully and the victim, nearly all of us have, and stepping out of that nasty cycle is an every day effort.

Today being the first of the month, I took the time to listen to each of these talks as I wrote about them (so yes, I totally cheated and multitasked the legit way.) .

Do you have any little rituals to motivate and inspire yourself on a regular basis?  I’d love to hear about them and try them out.

You don’t get anywhere without a goal

If you know me, you know I’m a big believer in announcing things once they’re done, or at least mostly done. I don’t usually publish my goals or talk about them, unless you’re someone whose advice I need in order to accomplish them. There is now science behind this strategy, showing that if you talk about your goals, you get the same rush (and social congratulations) as if you actually accomplish them. So shhh.

I’m not doing an about face with regards to telling you my goals. Instead, I’m going to share my strategy for goal planning and how it works. I’ve tried a bunch of different systems but I think I’ve finally stumbled across one that works for me.

I learned at one point that while long-term goals are nice, they don’t really make it easy to break down into actionable, daily steps. So I have year goals, three month goals, weekly goals and daily tasks. Yes, that sounds like a lot but the system is simple once you understand it. Let me explain.

personal goals

from: Nick Youngson -http://nyphotographic.com

Yearly Goals

Just because January 1st has come and gone doesn’t mean you can’t start your yearly goal setting now. I actually do my annual assessment and goal setting on October 1st because it has personal significance.

Yearly goals are where I dream big and plan to conquer the world. For me, these are pie-in-the-sky publications I want to write for and a certain number of clients for my SEO agency, Legal Green Marketing.

For you, it could be finishing that book or having enough of a side hustle to quit your job. It could be getting down to a certain weight or being able to bench x number of kilos/pounds. It could be reading 50 books or visiting 5 new countries. Dream big and write it down somewhere. I emblazon it at the front of every notebook I use, all year long. Find somewhere you’ll see it every day and put it there.

Three Month/Quarterly Goals

This is fun. It’s where I break down my big goals into smaller goals that lead to the big ones. If I want 20 new clients, that means I’ll need 5 new clients each quarter. If I want to be in the New York Times (which I would, if they’d like to let me pitch them), I’ll need to figure out which publications I can get into that are progressively more prestigious over the year and break them down into 4 tiers of difficulty with the New York Times at the top.

If you’re planning to write that book, perhaps the first quarter is research and outlining and the next two are all about writing and the fourth is when you focus on editing. If you’re trying to read 50 books, that’s 12.5 books each quarter (or 13 if you like to round up) and if you’re trying to visit 5 new countries every year, 1-2 new countries per quarter. Breaking goals down like this makes them feel a little more manageable.

It’s also helpful for tracking progress and being able to adjust accordingly. If I’ve done better than expected and have landed 6 or 7 or 8 new clients this quarter, do I want to adjust my goals up or do I want to take extra time next quarter to focus on another goal? If the editor I’m pitching at Forbes still hasn’t responded to my pitches, do I keep trying and simultaneously pitch Entrepreneur or do I move on entirely?

The beginning and end of each cycle is a great time for me to make plans and to assess what worked and what didn’t. There are various systems you can use for your quarterly goals and I’ve tried several from a spreadsheets to notebooks to moleskines. I have finally settled on one that I believe works best for me, the Best Self Journal (not an affiliate link.) You do have to use four per year as they’re set up for 13 week sprints, and despite not being cheap, I find they’re worth it to me. If you don’t have the budget for one, I recommend printing out a few pages of the free PDF version. (I’m lazy and just buy them so no recommendations from me about how to use the PDF version.)

Weekly Goals

BestSelf has a weekly goals section and reflection but I use that for habits, like trying to maintain a yoga practice and writing daily. For actual tasks, I am really fancy and get a post-it note I stick on that page with the major goals for the week. It can be revamping my website with a breakdown of what that entails (rewriting the landing page, buying access to the new opt-in, mapping out what I want the layout to look like, finding a theme that works, etc) or planning the logistics of my trip to Cuba (book plane tickets, book housing, confirm I’m eligible for a journalists visa, research and prioritize activities, etc)

For you, this could be researching cities in countries you’re considering visiting and what flight prices are like between where you are now and where you want to go next. It could be reading 1 book or writing 2 chapters of your book.

I often have more than one weekly goal, although they’re all reasonably accomplishable in one week. I do not try to take on things like reading 7 books or getting from pitch to publication with a new publication in just 7 days. Taking on goals that aren’t feasible in a week just sets yourself up for failure. Don’t do that.

Daily Tasks

This is one you’re familiar with conceptually : it’s your daily to-do list. You’re probably jotting this down already, whether it’s on a scrap of paper or on a program like Trello. It’s satisfying to check off a dozen small things you’ve accomplished every day. However, the more effective way to write a to-do list is to choose the three most important things you need to accomplish every day, whether it’s writing that article or finishing that book, and list those. Once you accomplish those, you can move onto all the other little things that need to get done.

Keeping your to do list short will help you focus and limiting it to important tasks that help you move forward towards your goals every day will enable you to make steady progress instead of doing so in awkward, unpredictable sprints.

My strategy with this is to list everything I’d like to accomplish tomorrow and then rank the three most important. When I finish those things, I can think about the rest of the list. The items that don’t get done today but still should stay on the daily list until they get done or aren’t important anymore. Laundry eventually becomes urgent. Unpacking a suitcase eventually doesn’t when it needs to be repacked.  Prioritizing my time and energy is incredibly important to me and it should be for you too.  You only get so much of it, after all.

This isn’t a perfect system as I’m still human and things can fall through the cracks. That said, major goals do get accomplished on this system so if you’re struggling to find a way to break your dreams down into actionable daily or weekly tasks or to see where you’ll be in three months or a year, this system could be a good fit for you too. It might seem like a lot of paperwork but once you get the system in place, it takes only a few minutes a day and about an hour for goal planning each quarter.

Do you have a goal setting strategy that you like?

Be careful where you put your time and energy

You may or may not know that I am a digital marketing consultant for small businesses. Actually, I founded a small agency and my favorite thing in digital marketing is playing with SEO. Normally I’m not a big fan of the numbers involved in running audits or analyzing spreadsheets and tracking the movement of things but when it comes to SEO, I love it. What I don’t love, I can easily tolerate because it’s so little of my time and energy. But that isn’t the point of this post. That is simply relevant background information.

I wrote a post a few months ago about nose rings and cultural appropriation and it got a lot of comments. Like, a lot. Probably double the number most of my posts get and every single one of the additional comments was not just spam but hateful rhetoric. Nasty comments about immigrants and women and one really weird one about sex with Russian women. Most of them linked to the same site, which I won’t validate by posting here.

But why?

Clearly none of those commenters had read the post. What rational human would leave a comment like that on a post like mine? Very few.

Knowing what I know about SEO and how the web works, my money is on the fact those comments were left by bots programmed to search for keywords that my post contained. I don’t optimize my blog. This site isn’t professional in any way and is merely for my own thoughts, the same way I shout random things at the internet at large on twitter, but with more characters. I could have looked up what keywords the blog post is ranking (probably poorly) for and worked backwards.

I could take my revenge by using Blackhat negative SEO tricks* on that site and punishing them for trying to use my site to build their authority. But I’m not going to. I’m not going to because it’s not worth my time and energy.

I only have so much time and energy to spare and I have to choose every day whether to spend it on something positive that helps me and the things I care about (feminism, my career, nomadism, my family, etc) move forward or on pulling something else down. I try every day to focus on the positive and as tempting as it is sometimes to punish those who offend me, I’m better off spending that time and energy on lifting up the things that matter. So instead of rewarding those commenters with my energy and a link, I’m going to link to my favorite group right now: Recall Aaron Persky.

I’m also going to go message the leader of my favorite feminist group and see if there is anything I can do to help them.  That would be time and energy well spent.

What are you spending your time and energy on?

* Of course I know Blackhat and even greyhat SEO. How do you avoid something if you don’t know what it is and what it entails?

One little word can make a big difference

You know what I love? I love that we’re now using the term cis along with the term trans. Cis-female. Cis-male. Trans-female. Trans-male. Here’s why.

Female and male are the binary genders we have always used to identify people. Then we started to acknowledge that people could be trans-female or trans-male but by not also defining people as cis-female or cis-male, we were subtly describing those who are trans as atypical, as needing an extra defining characteristic. As if being cisgender is the normal, the default, and being transgender is the not normal, as needing extra explanation.

I am a cisgender female so perhaps my stance on this is totally wrong. Please correct me if it is, but I am happy that I should now, in this context, define myself to the same level as people who are transgender. It is pure luck that I was born in the right body and I can only imagine what the process of acknowledging and then undergoing a physical gender transition must be like. I imagine it isn’t easy, partially because society insists on throwing up obstacles in a transpersons life and perhaps this little adjustment in our language, this normalization and acceptance of people who need to make this change to be their true selves, is a sign that society is going to stop putting those obstacles in their way.

Perhaps this is just the optimist in me reading too much into a small language change, but I’d rather be an optimist for progress than do nothing.

Here’s How to Ask Me for Help

January 17, 2017

Here are some of the cool things I know about:

  • International trip planning
  • Nomadism
  • The FEIE
  • Remote Work
  • Wine
  • Yummy restaurants in various cities around the world
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Freelancing
  • SEO & SEO Writing
  • Copywriting
  • Editing
  • Basic WordPress stuff

(I feel pretty badass given that list.)

While I love that people look at my life and wonder “how does she do it? And how can I do it?” it does get super tiring to be expected to be on call for everyone who has questions about any of those topics. I get several messages every single week asking me for help with something. If it’s small and/or we’re close, I’ll do my best to help. If you’re asking me to explain my entire budget/work/travel strategy or how to become a freelance writer and we’ve met once, at a friends birthday party, six months ago, I’m not likely to do it. It’s not that I don’t want to but what you’re asking me to do is to spend several hours typing up information for you.  I don’t know about you, but I simply don’t have the time or energy or inclination to do that.

Despite the glamorous life everyone thinks I lead, sitting on beaches drinking mai tais, I actually work really hard. I’m not only establishing myself as a writer but am also bootstrapping a company. So basically I’m working two full-time jobs right now and trying to keep up some semblance of a social life while I’m gallivanting around the world. After all, what good is country-hopping if all I see is the inside of coffee shops?

If you’re interested in a topic, do what I was taught to do when I was learning to program and Google it. I’d much rather field a question like “Do you think it’s better to have a 5 day error window with the presence test for the FEIE or do you think 3 is enough?” than “What’s the FEIE? Someone said you knew about it.” If you can’t find the information you need, tell me what you found so far. From there, I might be able to guide you to a better source or just give you the information directly. Showing me that you researched it a bit yourself and aren’t just expecting me to do all the heavy lifting proves to me that you value my time and expertise.

And if you really want me to do the heavy lifting, do what I do : pay for it. I pay an assistant who does some legwork for me, from sourcing photos or compiling a list of “must sees” for when I’m on a 48 hour layover in a new city. I also pay a lot of money to a mentor whose advice and expertise I value. If you’d really like me to answer all your questions and walk you through something, I’d be happy to do it for the same price I charge my clients for my time/skills. If you’re offended by this suggestion, I refer you back to suggestion #2: Google it.  Maybe you’ll even come across one of my articles on the subject.

This sounds really harsh, I know, but it’s gotten to the point where I’m getting multiple requests every week. While I would really love to help everyone, I simply can’t. I don’t have a trust fund that will pay for my life or a business that runs without my heavy lifting. Like you, I only have so many hours and so much energy and can only do so much, and most of what I need to do right now is work.

Thank you for understanding.

Happy Birthday to Me, Happy Birthday to Me (& Many More….)

December 15, 2016

Last week was my birthday and it was fantastic.  It was nearly everything I wanted and I’m at an age now where “nearly” really is enough when it comes to this sort of thing.  I spent my birthday in Buenos Aires, in a sundress.  I received lots of love from people I adore (and some from randoms on Facebook.)  I ate delicious food.  I did a little work. I had a nap and I read a good book.  I realize I sound 86 but that really is a good time to me now.  I wanted my birthday to be selfish, to be all about what I wanted to do – whether it’s eating or sleeping or working or reading.  It was a fairly isolated birthday but as an exhausted introvert, it was ideal.

So thank you, if you made this birthday incredible by sending love any time within the last two weeks.  It all counts.  Love always counts.

But this isn’t just about bragging and thanking people. On my birthday, someone wished me well and asked “What did you learn this year?”

What did I learn this year? 

A lot actually.

I learned…

To take the first steps in what my hero Bréne Brown calls “wholehearted” living. I remind myself daily that I am just human and that is okay.  That I have faults but I am still enough.  That I am lovable and loved.

To appreciate my intelligence.  This sounds silly but I grew up in a family of great intellects.  There is nothing quite like feeling like the dumbest person in every room growing up and then been threatened to lose what small brainpower you have.  I am not my brother with his incredibly high emotional intelligence or my cousin who is a literal genius, but I am intelligent and that is nice.

To acknowledge that I am terrified and do it anyway.  This year I really went all in with a new career, not just writing but founding Legal Green Marketing. It’s terrifying to pursue your dreams this aggressively, to declare to the world “I care about this” and know that there are going to be those who reject you, who put you down, who diminish your dreams and to be willing to do it anyway.  I started pitching publications I wasn’t sure would ever accept me, and while there have certainly been rejections, there have also been some incredible acceptances.  I need to keep this in mind as I’m growing Legal Green Marketing.

To ask for help. I used to think you had to do it all on your own.  I don’t know why I thought that because it certainly isn’t the way my family operates, but I did.  Last year I learned that I can ask for help and more often than not, my family and friends and even strangers are likely to give it.  Which, of course, makes me want to go out and help others as well.  It’s such a virtuous cycle.

Things sometimes don’t work out and that’s okay. In the last year, I’ve experienced work and personal relationships go sour, sometimes actually go badly and sometimes things just drifted off.  I was involved in a start-up that isn’t going to make it, for various reasons.  And I’m learning to accept those moments.

People think I’m an expert. This was a shocking revelation for me because: see above regarding intelligence.  Everything I can do, I assume everyone else can too, but that’s simply not how it works.  I think a lot of us have this level of self-doubt and I’ve been making a habit of pointing out to myself when I can do things that not everyone else can, whether it’s as simple as a fantastic puttanesca sauce or as complicated as a website SEO audit. I can do those things and not everyone else can so go me.

 

And that’s what I’ve learned.  It was a year full of growth, much of it painful, and learning.  I hope this upcoming  year is as good.

Hey You! With the Nose Ring!

“Cultural appropriation is the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of another culture.”
wikipedia

Within groups of Western Cultures, this is a non-issue because they are the dominant culture and set the norms for what is acceptable.

To wear a dirndl during Oktoberfest is okay because a) Germany is part of the dominant culture and b) you’d participating in a cultural event.

To wear a sari walking around North Carolina will mark you as an outsider. It’s not appropriation if you’re walking to an Indian wedding but you might not love the stares and the overall way people will treat you. Those stares and feelings are why it’s significant. If the people whose culture that symbol belongs to can’t wear it without discomfort, you don’t get to use your white privilege to enjoy it.

I’ve generally stayed out of the conversation about cultural appropriation because among my friends, up until recently, it has revolved around celebrities and cornrows, bantu knots, etc. Those are not symbols of my culture and to be honest with you, I don’t fully understand their cultural significance even now. When those conversations have happened, my job has been to listen and learn what I can. While I couldn’t explain cornrows and bantu knots to you, I do know that it is 100% unacceptable for me to wear them so I don’t. I don’t think I have ever attempted either of those styles but now I certainly never will.

Recently, within the same group of friends, the topic of nose and septum rings came up. Despite apparently being the only person with ties to the brown community involved in the conversation, it’s not a topic I can weigh in on easily, especially given my mixed heritage. I dislike it when someone deems themselves an authority for an entire multi-billion person group, so I’m not going to attempt to do that. I acknowledge that to someone born and raised in Bombay or Bangalore or Lahore, the nose or septum ring might have different significance. Someone of South-Asian heritage who was born and raised in the West might have a different feelings about it as well. All our feelings are valid but since I can only speak for my own, here goes:

I don’t have any thoughts on septum rings. I can’t think of a single person in my family who has one so I’m not going to voice an uninformed stance and mislead anyone.

As for the nose ring, I wanted one my entire childhood. I loved the way my aunts nose stud sparkled in the light and how beautiful all the brides looked with their elaborate nose rings. I remember hearing stories from my father about his close cousin going to get her nose pierced before her wedding. In college, I loved my friends from India’s pretty nose rings, whether they were simple metal hoops or sparkly studs. I wanted one so badly but was afraid my white mother would see it as ignoring the sacrifices she had made to raise us in the USA where we had more opportunities and as embracing the culture that is, at least in my family, less liberal for women. I was jealous of all the white women who pierced their noses, knowing no one would care because it was trendy and they could just take it out when they ultimately got a job where it wouldn’t be appropriate, including my blond-haired, blue-eyed cousin.

Can we pause here for a second? I want to reflect on the fact most of the women whose nose rings I was jealous of brushed it off saying they liked it because it was “cool”. When I would ask about what their family thought or if they planned to keep it forever, they would laugh and say things like “they don’t care as long as I take it out when I get into the real world” or “it’s no big deal. I can always take it out if I need to for a job or whatever.” Considering it mere fashion and something to be so easily dismissed is white privilege. I say “white privilege” but, to be honest with you, I know women of other races who have done this too. You can culturally appropriate something even if you are another minority group.

After college and after much debate (and maybe a few drinks), I finally pierced my nose. I was so nervous about how my mother would react. I went home to visit and shyly showed her. She looked at me for a moment and then said “you pierced the wrong side” before picking up her book and heading to the living room to read. Years of apprehension for that response.

She was right. I had pierced the wrong side. According to my family and most of Indian culture, you pierce the left side. I had pierced the right, which is traditional to a group in South India. I forget which one, but I did run across someone who also had her right side pierced at an airport once. I caught her staring at me, probably trying to figure out if I was stealing from her culture or if I was from her part of the world.

I ended up taking my nose ring out, not because of shame for piercing the wrong side or because I decided to follow the traditions regarding it. It was because it got irritated by the dirt in the air (I assume) while on a trip to Pakistan. I can’t decide if that’s ironic or terribly appropriate. I intend to pierce the correct side at some point. I still have the beautiful stud I bought myself and the sparkly one my father gifted me in his excitement. I don’t know whether he had decided I was connecting with my heritage or I was declaring myself ready to get married by piercing my nose, but he was thrilled.

It was an interesting experiment even if it wasn’t intended as one. I am racially ambiguous. People in Europe are sure I am either from Spain or Italy. In most of North America, they assume I’m from South America. In Asia and in the Middle East, they assume I’m Middle Eastern. Except when I had my nose pierced. While my nose was pierced, I was 100% South Asian. Interesting, isn’t it? How quickly one piece of jewelry can alter the way people see you.

To loop back, do I consider nose rings cultural appropriation? I do, a little bit. I think, as with most things, it depends on your intentions. If you take it as an opportunity to educate yourself about another culture, because you spent time there and connected with the people or because you work in the community, then it’s different. If you want a nose ring because it looks cool, please at least take the time to learn a bit about a culture where it holds traditional significance. I can’t stop you from getting a piercing or make you take out one you already have, but if you admire one thing from a culture and want to borrow it, please at least take the time to learn the history and meaning of that thing.

Also, please stick with what we would wear on a daily basis. A big, elaborate gold hoop will just make us hate you as we would any oppressor, especially Western ones. Take a little time to learn the history and culture and you’ll understand why.

Minimalism

I am a terrible minimalist.

I like stuff.  I have always liked stuff, not everything, mind you but things give me pleasure.  Things make me happy.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having the things that make you happy as long as they aren’t your only source of happiness.  I love my iPad, which allows me to read books and highlight the grammar errors or take notes.  I love my Jimmy Choo winter boots.  I love my Ted Baker tea dress and my Balenciaga silver-grey town handbag.  I love the Tiffany ring my siblings bought me for my 30th birthday and my stuffed alligator, Kevin.  I could list all the things I own that I love but I don’t need to (also, neither of us has the patience for that.)  I get pleasure out of owning and using certain objects, some of which are very expensive and some of which aren’t.  I’m willing to cart many of these items quite literally around the world with me as I country hop roughly every month and visit 3-4 continents each year.

not minimalism

Me & Kevin hanging out at the Abu Dhabi airport

I travel with a backpack and carry-on sized suitcase, which I check because I also love all my skincare products.  I do not travel light.  My suitcase consistently weighs between 17 and 20 kilos thanks to those skincare products and my love of notebooks and pens and art supplies.  I think it’s worth the money to pay to check a bag in order to have the things that make me happy with me at all times, in order to have a certain standard of living whether I’m in London or Ubud or Tulum.

You can tell me I’m doing minimalism wrong and I will ignore you.  You can travel with 3 shirts and 2 shorts and do shower laundry every other night and I will stick with dropping my off at a laundromat weekly.  You can have your whole life in a backpack and laugh at me waiting for my luggage.  I’m fine with that.  Nearly my whole world exists in that suitcase or backpack.  I don’t have a home.  I will shortly be emptying out my storage space.  I will keep a coat and a pair of boots and perhaps a few sweaters at my sisters, because she is generous and London’s always cold, but I don’t have an apartment full of objects I don’t care about.  I don’t have objects that burden me because I feel I should, because society tells me I need to keep consuming in order to be happy.

I purchase the things I do because they make me happy.  I will confess that most of my purchases nowadays are experiential (food and travel) instead of physical, but there is that new lovely purse I just bought.  And I have my eye on a new backpack for next summer in Europe.  And, eventually, on a brand-spanking new capsule wardrobe.  Eventually, as in, whenever it happens that all the clothes I currently own and love either die or cease to bring me joy and end up being donated to Goodwill.

Oh, but before the clothes or the backpack, I will buy: a new laptop, a new phone, some markers for coloring.

I’m not doing minimalism your way; I’m doing it mine.  Which just about sums out my outlook on life.

Late July Update and Apology

I’m sorry.  I have a bunch of half-written posts that have fallen by the wayside this summer.  It’s been hard to find an hour or two to sit down and put together something interesting and helpful due to the number of things I’ve been juggling.  I’m aware of what that sentence is – an excuse- and this is the apology.  I acknowledge that I have dropped the ball and will do my best to pick it back up again in the near future.

On the upside, the reasons I have dropped said ball have been really wonderful ones:

  • My work with SparkWrite (my favorite client currently) has picked up.
  • I have been volunteering with FuckRapeCulture and although I am incredibly sad to miss their August 1 fundraising event, I am really excited to attend the ones coming in the next few months.
  • I had another piece come out with Waddle.
  • My first piece has been published at Huffington Post (!!!!)
  • I completed a SEO internship.
  • I have been taking a course on advanced SEO tactics so I can better serve my SEO clients
  • I am in the process of negotiating with a brand new SEO client (!!)
  • I have been helping out the Tennessee Cannabis Coalition, revamping their website and figuring out their SEO strategy going forward.
  • I have finally been sold on the concept of the “early bird” and am enforcing a bedtime, which right now means lots of laying in bed waiting to go to sleep.
  • I spent May in London and June/July in NYC, so of course I had to see friends/family and enjoy two of my favorite cities in the world – the food, the shows, the museums, the shopping…
  • I will be traveling again in August/September and have had to plan all of those details.

So it’s been a busy few months.  Not that these things justify the lack of updates and funny blog posts but perhaps it can help you understand why I’ve been behind.

Whenever you’re busy, it’s always the things you do for yourself that fall by the wayside first.  I’m trying to get better at focusing on the things that are important to me but, honestly, when there are so many wonderful things happening, it’s hard to keep on top of them all.  I will try harder.  🙂

1 2 3 8