Saturday, October 29, 2016

simplicity 2016: a hundred bucks a week

Oh simplicity, bless your little heart. It is almost November and you have taught me so much.

I feel like I still have a lot to learn, but man, it's been so great. Exploring what it looks like to do more with less, to not complicate things, and to just enjoy what I have.

About a month and a half ago, when summer started to wind down and fall was beginning to be upon us, I started thinking about how I wanted to end the year.

Last year I ended with Dressember, and while I will be doing that again this year, I wanted to take it one step further.

I mentioned often in my blog posts that this year, I'm trying to focus on three specific areas of simplicity: stuff, money, technology.

And while I have a tendency to be hard on myself, and think that I am totally failing at life and this simplicity thing, I have to admit that it has gone pretty well.

I mean, I got rid of SO much stuff, I am saving more money than I was back in January and at times, I am on my phone less. Except when one of my interns turns me onto a new iPhone game.

Then it's bad.

Thanks a lot SarahJ...

But, this idea of spending less continues to intrigue me.

I look at my grandparents, I look at my friends in other countries, I read WAY to many articles on BuzzFeed... and I notice how happy and content people can be when they use what they have and spend less money.

I notice it the most in my own life when I am on vacation, or when I am traveling. I notice I am much more mindful of what things costs. I pay attention to what I do or don't buy. And I tend to use more cash than I do card.

It never fails, I am always surprised by how much money I have left over and how reduced my spending habits become.

So... how to translate all of that to the last month or two of 2016?

Cue "No Spend November." 

(If you don't know what it is, then just get on Pinterest, and you will wish you had never asked)

Originally, I was going to cut out all extra expenses for 30 days.

And while that might be a good idea in the future, we are coming up on the holiday season and I still would really like to go out with friends and immerse myself in some of the local festivities.

So, instead of a total spending freeze, I broke down my monthly expenses to see what the average weekly spending should be.

And then I lowered it 20%. Not an exact science by any means, but 10% felt to minor to feel the difference and 50% seemed unrealistic. So I found something in the middle.

For the next month, I am giving myself $120/week in cash to spend on groceries, gas, spending money, etc.

Once it's gone, it's gone. So I have to be strategic. Innovative. Scrappy.

The only exceptions for using a card are:

  • if it's a purchase already in my budget (i.e. cell phone bill)
  • if it's an emergency (i.e. stranded on the road, medical, etc)
  • if for some reason I cannot pay with cash. (And if that is the case, I take the cash amount and reimburse my account)

My goal for the month is two fold.

I want to be a little more disciplined in my spending and see how I do with less.

And, I want to identify the areas in which I can be more generous with my finances.

I am realizing more and more that so many people have  far less than I do.

So, if I can be more frugal and give back, I think that's a good thing.

Especially since Jesus said a little something about that in Luke 11:5

Wish me luck and I'll keep you posted on my #nospendnovember


Thursday, October 27, 2016

simplicity 2016: what is dressember?

Two years ago I attended an event at Seattle Pacific University that was raising awareness about human trafficking. It was a documentary showing and it was super intense. At least for me.

I'll be honest, it left me feeling very uncomfortable and at a loss for what my next step was supposed to be.

I now realize that was such a good place to be in. 

Because it launched me towards knowledge, understanding, and a desire to see change in the world.

Currently there are over 27 million people in slavery worldwide. That's just not okay, and I want to bring awareness and shed light so that we can change that statistic.


Last year, in order to find a way to get involved, I participated in a campaign called Dressember

In a nutshell, women use something inherently feminine (a dress) and use it to start conversations about the issue that is human trafficking; as well as try to raise funds that go towards rescuing people out of this terrible way of life.

For the entire month of December, I wore a dress everyday, took a picture, and posted on social media to spread the message. 

It was a truly powerful experience and I am doing it again this year. The only difference is that due to my theme of #simplicity, I will be wearing the same dress everyday for the entire month!

I think it is overall going to be such a good experience for me to simplify my everyday in order to give more thought to this serious issue. And how we can be apart of the change.


I would absolutely LOVE, is if you guys would consider joining me for the Dressember campaign.

However, I realize that not everyone is able to participate in the same way that I did. 

But, if you are interested in learning more about this and how you can make a difference, here are some ways to get involved:)

1) Consider giving up ONE specialty coffee and donating that money to my Dressember campaign

*One rescue mission costs approximately $100,000 start to finish, so every little bit helps!

2) Join our team and get in on the epicness that is Dressember:)

*If you can't wear a dress everyday, that's okay! You can still participate! And guys can get involved too! Wear a bow tie! That counts!

3) Share on social media this link to help bring awareness to the issue of human trafficking

*Awareness is a huge part of changing this narrative! How can we change what we do not know.

4) Be curious and willing to learn

*Books, documentaries, non-profit websites - the resources to learn are out there. Curiosity, even towards that which is uncomfortable, is a good thing.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this and consider getting involved. 

Human beings are not commodities, and our world will be a much more beautiful place when we value the worth of someone for who they are, and not what they can be exploited for.

Feel feel to share and ask me more questions!!! Let's be world changers!

Friday, October 14, 2016

simplicity 2016: flat on my aster

Once upon a time, I took a class on Meyer's Briggs. For those who don't know anything about MB, check out this article, super helpful.

However, in a nutshell, it is a personality assessment designed to help you better understand why you do what you do, and how to do what you are best suited for.

One of the character traits is referred to as being a "J" - which stands for Judging.

Not an accurate word at all, because "J" basically means you are highly organized, appreciate things done in a sequential order and strive for order in your life.

And if any of you know me, you will know that my "J" is off the crazy charts.

If you give me a label maker and a day planner, I will conquer the whole frigging planet. In an hour.

Cause ain't nobody got time to waste time.

I often wonder though, why I am this way?

If it's wrong to be so organized and thorough.

If I need to cool it and just "go with the flow."


Two weeks ago I was in NY, celebrating my great grandmother's 99th birthday.

And while it was absolutely wonderful to be there, I left feeling unsettled.

And to be truthful, I also didn't really want to leave.

I didn't want to leave her.

I didn't want to leave how at home I felt there.

I didn't want to leave the deep sense of belonging that almost overtook me when I drive onto her property.


As I was walking through her garden taking pictures one afternoon, I stopped and held my breath as I watched bees pollinating the flowers.

I quickly snapped a few photos, and then I just stood there in complete envy.

Yes. You read that correctly.

I was envious. Of some bees.

And here is why....

They have ONE job.
They do their job.
They aren't running around trying to do everyone else's job.

They have a schedule.
They know when to work and when to rest.
There is only one leader they follow.

They don't have emails.
They don't have cellphones.
They don't have calendar invites, bills, or anything else weighing them down.

Their life seems...simple.


I've been home for two weeks now, and I still can't shake this unsettled feeling.

A little out of place. Not sure what direction I am headed in.

Which is crazy, because I have so much going on right now. And it's all really really good.

But, as I was sitting in the Meyer's Briggs training today, I FINALLY felt like I had a break through.

Two nights ago I was reading Martha Steward Living - don't you dare judge me, she is BRILLIANT!

And as I read through her calendar for October, where she tells you what to start planting and what she is harvesting for winter, that's when it hit me.

Why I feel so at home at my great grandmother's house. And why I have the same feeling on my uncle and gramma's farm.

I'll try to explain it like this:

  • Farms and gardens run on a seasonal calendar. 

  • You have to plant and harvest your crops at a certain time, or you won't have any bounty.
  • I mean, weather is always a factor. But you can't control that. You have to prepare and then just wait.

  • There is predictability and structure.

  • A specific role and a specific desired outcome.

  • A farmer plants crops, a bee pollinates the plants, the earth changes seasons and new life comes into the world.
It's this cyclical calendar of events, that while it has the potential for being mind numbingly boring, it's not.

Because it's always a little bit different.
A chance for new beginnings and a fresh start.
And I think that's what I am craving a little bit.

Schedule, predictability, a need for things to be done in a certain way in order to obtain a certain outcome.

While I often judge myself harshly for this desire for order and schedule, I think I'm beginning to realize it's something rooted so deeply within me, I don't think I could shut it down even if I wanted to.

There is something inexplicably beautiful about the natural order of the earth. And I really, really love it.

That realization? Leaves me feeling like I have had the wind knocked out of me and then knocked flat on my aster.

Get it? Aster? A flower? #dadjoke


Don't get me wrong, I love my job and I love my life.

It's just.... when I am with these amazing women, on the properties where they have and are building their lives, things make more sense.

Stuff isn't so urgent. We just are.  We get up early, enjoy the day quietly, share a nice meal, and then go to sleep.

If this was my routine, day in and day out, I might get a little bored. Maybe not though.

But, if I could find a way to incorporate this spirit of just being into my daily schedule, I have a feeling I might feel a little more settled.

Or maybe, I just need to go plant some asters.