Treading Lightly
Treading Lightly

Instant Inspiration: In the Company of Women

In the Company of Women is everything I want in a book – inspiring, informative, reflective, and eye-opening. This book is the perfect answer to “You can’t be what you can’t see.”

The book features 100 women and their thoughts on their work, lives, mistakes, and inspiration. The gorgeous spreads are loaded with encouragement and the reminder that everyone starts somewhere (not to mention some massive studio/workplace eye candy).

In The Company of Women

Grace Bonney, the founder of Design*Sponge, interviewed so many insightful, diverse, and intelligent women. I loved reading about all of the different jobs these women were drawn to or created for themselves. Their bravery and tenacity shone through. Painters, illustrators, writers, interior designers, musicians, furniture makers – these women do it all.

In The Company of Women

While a few familiar names popped out at me–Hi, Roxane!– there were so many creative women to get to know. I loved hearing so many perspectives and seeing bits of myself in these successful, goal-chasing women.

In the Company of Women Quotes

“You have to be willing to be bad at it to get good at it.” Mary Going

“Throw hesitation and insecurity out the window.” Jasmine Wright

“Success to me is when I am feeling purposeful, authentic, and of service to others.” Christy Turlington Burns

“You can’t sit there and wait for things to fall into your lap. You’re in charge of your life, so go after what you want.” Joy Cho

In The Company of Women

This book is perfect for anyone who wants to work for themselves, start a business, or strike out on their own. I will definitely be borrowing it from the library again when I need a little pick me up or a push forward.

In The Company of Women

In the Company of Women could not have come at a better time for me. I have been freelancing from home for almost a full year now, and it gets incredibly lonely. Without coworkers to bounce ideas off of or brainstorm with, I start to feel stagnant and like a broken record. While it won’t ever replace real live humans and their brilliant ideas, In the Company of Women still gave me some much needed insights and inspiration. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

How to Create Every Day

A lot of people talking about creating more than you consume, but it’s extremely difficult in practice. Actually sitting down to create every day is an impressive feat, especially when you add in the murkiness of whether or not the work you do for money counts as creation.

It’s so easy to get caught up in consuming more than you’re creating. I am incredibly guilty of this. I can spend hours every day reading articles online, scrolling Instagram, and reading books. But those hours end up feeling like lost time when I don’t also spend time every day creating.

How to Create Every Day

Why You Should Create Every Day

I struggle to create outside of my work hours or tasks. At the end of the day, my brain feels drained of all creativity and words. Each day I typically spend hours researching and writing, sometimes for my own enjoyment (like my blog or journaling), but most often for someone else.

When all I do is work with words all day, I start to feel like everything is work and not play. My daily tasks start to feel more like homework than creative activities.

But when I do finally make the time I feel so much more relaxed and energized. Don’t get me wrong, reading books, watching movies, catching up on blogs, and poking around Instagram can all inspire me. But it’s not the same as busying my hands and letting go of expectations.

 

How to Create Every Day

1. Keep it short.

While I would love to create more than I consume on a daily basis, it’s just not always realistic or desirable. This month I’m trying to create for 15 minutes every day. That’s it. And even that may feel like too much.

 

2. Mix it up.

The more I mix up my hobbies and creative outlets, the more inspired and energized I feel overall. I picked up knitting again a couple weeks ago for the first time in a year, and it gave me the perfect amount of space from my writing. I’m able to mull things over or get out of my head completely. Water color painting, baking, and homemade gift making are on my list as well. As someone who can quickly tire of a craft project, I like having multiple creative outlets available.

 

3. Join a community.

There are a lot of groups who do a little something every day, whether that’s an ink drawing or a creative Instagram post. Look for a group that fits your interests or inspires you and jump in.

 

4. Let go of perfection.

This one is the hardest for me, but it makes the biggest difference. I can spend more time obsessing over getting something right than actually sitting down and getting it done. Instead of worrying about whether my cookies are perfectly round or if I messed up a single stitch on my scarf, I try to focus on the process as a whole. Perfection isn’t the point, the time spent on the activity is.

 

5. Creating is what you want it to be

People seem to get caught up in the DIY/crafting aspect of creation, but it can really be whatever you want it to be so long as you are making and not consuming. Coding an app, making a digital collage, writing a letter to your grandma – it all counts.

 

Need more ideas? Most of my tips for how to write every day can easily be translated into how to make or create every day.

3 Months Post Peroneal Tendon Surgery

I’ve finally made it to the point where I forget for hours at a time that I’ve had surgery.

It took me three months to get here.

Yesterday I spent a couple hours on my feet in the kitchen making granola bars and heavenly gluten-free ginger cookies. Right as I was about to put my first batch in the oven I realized my ankle hurt.

Now you could blame the cookies for blinding me, but in reality I had finally made it on my feet for an extended period of time without pain. I finally made it past the threshold where that pain is always right around the corner, always on my mind.

3 Months Post Peroneal Tendon Surgery

 

3 Months Post Peroneal Tendon Surgery Progress

These days I’m walking. Big news over here. I can now tolerate walking around a mile and a half before the pain starts to set in. While I’m starting to get sick of the brace, I’m overjoyed to ditch the damn boot. Also, it helps that I only wear the brace when I’m out of the house.

Sleeping has gotten so much easier since I had to sleep in the boot/ the night splint made from my (smelly!) old cast. Unfortunately my side-sleeping habits still put too much tension on my tendon at night. Pro tip, a couple stiff pieces of tape can fix this right up. Tape from the center of your arch up the outside of your foot and ankle so the tape holds your foot in slight eversion and you are good to go (to sleep).

The gym has gotten more exciting. I can finally weight-bear which means not only can I carry my own equipment, but I can also start doing some light deadlifts, air squats to parallel, and standing arm exercises. (Also, another important tip. Do not try to crutch with 20lb dumbbells in each hand. Does not go well. You’re welcome.) It’s to the point where I don’t mind sweating it out on the bike instead of freezing on a winter run. Timing is everything.

I can drive! Okay, technically I can drive, but someone backed into my parked car the week I started being able to drive again. So you know, I can drive when my car is back from the shop.

Post Peroneal Tendon Surgery

I got the okay to try kicking, but it’s way too cold to even think about swimming. So that’s on hold until I get braver, it gets warmer, or I find a comfortable indoor pool.

Up Next

I’m still quite a ways off from running, but I’m working hard to strengthen my feet, ankles, and hips so the rest of me is ready when my tendon is. I’m finally getting into heel raises and balance work, which is both exciting and acutely painful.

Yoga is my next goal. I think I’m about ready to heavily modify my favorite power yoga class. A couple blankets, two blocks, and a ton of tape is all it takes.

3 Months Post Peroneal Tendon Surgery

And hopefully my ankle and foot will stop turning purple soon too.

November Reads

I can’t believe it’s already Christmas time. Where have the months gone? Everything after our trip to Wyoming in August is a complete blur. So much so that I couldn’t have named a single book I read this month off the top of my head.

But after perusing my Goodreads, I can’t see how I could ever forget. My November reads were perfectly eclectic, and I think I’m finally back into the swing of things with fiction again. Well, I might have something to say about that next month given how my reading is going lately, but at least it was true this month.

November Reads

November Reads

 

The Unseen World

Oh man, so good! I really enjoyed the story, so much so that I spent an entire day reading after picking it up at lunch. Oops.

The characters feel real, and the story is rich and engrossing. The book follows Ada’s unravelling of her eccentric father’s past. It was one of those books where I didn’t see the ending coming (and I also wasn’t furious at the end of it like Gone Girl).

If you have an interest in tech or programming, I think you’ll enjoy it even more.

 

The New Better Off

There is something both comforting and off-putting about reading a book that so perfectly aligns with your beliefs. I started to feel weird about it at the end, like maybe I needed to have my views challenged a bit more. Then I realized that’s what every day life is for in Silicon Valley.

Courtney E. Martin believes that while we may not end up wealthier than our parents in the traditional sense, we have the opportunity to be happier and more fulfilled. She argues for discovering what you really want to be doing with your time, and she made me take a hard look at my community and how I could build it.

While I won’t be moving into a co-op anytime soon, it was a nice reminder that I have more control over my life than I often realize. It also made me want to start putting in more effort to my friendships and building new ones.

 

The Curated Closet

I stumbled across Anuschka’s blog a couple years ago when researching capsule wardrobes. To say she takes detailed consideration seriously is an understatement.

After reading the book all the way through, I’ve been slowly working my way through the exercises. My closet is already cut down fairly significantly–I’m still somewhere around my 50 or so pieces in total–but it doesn’t feel cohesive. Before reading this book I couldn’t have told you my ‘style’ or put into comprehendible words what I like to wear.

I can now answer mot of those questions, and I feel like I have a good roadmap to slowly updating my wardrobe, defining my style, and replacing my worn out pieces. If only it involved never having to shop.

 

Today Will Be Different

I loved Where’d You Go, Bernadettebut this one fell flat for me. The narrator does nothing to make you like her, if anything, everything she does makes you dislike her more. This one was just an ‘eh’ for me.

 

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl

After walking the aisles of Powell’s for well over an hour in a frenzied daze, I finally settled on Hunger and got out of there. I had seen Carrie Brownstein around here and there, but I knew nothing of her band Sleater-Kinney. Turns out it’s probably important that you know about the band. The book was alright, but I think it would have been way better if I had listened to the music and been a fan before opening it.

 

Little Victories

Please excuse me while I pat myself on the back for (accidentally) perfectly timing this one with Thanksgiving.

This short book is full of stories from Jason Gay’s life and quick tips for modern life. Nothing life-changing, but enjoyable for a lazy Thanksgiving weekend.

 

PS. You can see all of my book reviews here.

Minimalist Gift Ideas

You can have a joyous, fulfilling, heart-warming Christmas without piles of gifts pilling out from under the tree. There is also nothing inherently wrong with giving someone a physical gift, but most of us have more than we would ever need.

These minimalist gift ideas will help you give a meaningful, clutter-free gift to anyone on your list. They are also great ideas of what to ask for if you would like to avoid receiving physical gifts.

Minimalist Gift Ideas for Everyone

Minimalist Gift Ideas

 

Exercise classes

Give a voucher to their favorite class or a gift card for somewhere new that you think they will love. If they love a bunch of different workouts/studios, you may want to look into something like ClassPass.

 

Hobby gift cards

It can be incredibly difficult to purchase an item that will fit in with your recipient’s hobby and what they already have. Gift cards are a great way to recognize what they love to do and allow them to get something they will really value and use. Great places to consider are art supply stores, yarn shops, cooking stores, local running shop, tech centers, local golf course, or anywhere else that supports a specific hobby. I personally love getting a gift card to my local running store and it supports their small business too.

 

Museum tickets

Take your friend on a museum trip or just purchase a gift card and let them buy tickets for the day that’s best for them. Even your local museum/aquarium/theater should offer a gift certificate.

 

Event tickets

Concerts, sports, movies, shows, the list goes on. You can buy specific tickets, offer a self-made voucher, or give a gift certificate for the location or ticketing company.

 

Babysitting

Or dog sitting as it may be.

 

Favorite food

Cookies just for me? Yes, please. You can also make their favorite meal and freeze it or give a coupon for a fresh batch in the future.

 

Other edibles

A bottle of wine, an assortment of local beers, coffee beans – the list goes on. Bonus, these are easy to tailor to your recipient’s taste and they are easy to buy in bulk.

 

Subscription

Many years ago (before it was cool), my mom gave my grandparents a Netflix subscription. My tech-savvy grandpa loved it. There are so many subscription services today – although I would encourage you to avoid any that send stuff unless it’s quickly consumable like wine. Subscription boxes can quickly add clutter and feel overwhelming.

 

Homemade consumables

Soaps, candles, beauty products, and other homemade consumables are a great way to cover multiple people on your list without adding a ton of clutter. Once they are used up they are gone.

 

Your time

It sounds so cheesy that my face is getting hot just writing it, but some of the best gifts really are spending time with your friend or family member. Take them on a picnic or a hike. Invite them over for tea and snacks. Offer to help with a big task like painting the room that’s driving them crazy or decluttering an overwhelming closet. If you can’t think of anything great, make an open-ended voucher for an afternoon of your time and let your recipient cash it in on whatever they want.

 

No gifts please

When someone specifically asks for no gifts, it’s best to respect their wishes and not get them a gift. But that doesn’t mean you can’t clarify and see if something on this list (like spending the day together or a bottle of their favorite beverage) would still be alright.

You can also ask to not receive gifts without causing a kerfuffle. The best way is to explain why you don’t want any physical gifts this year and offer alternatives (like the list above) to people who are adamant about getting you or your family something. (This article or this forum may help you broach the subject.)

 

Looking for more ideas? Check out these great posts.

Minimalist Gift-Giving from The Minimalists

90 Clutter-free Gifts and 18 Non-Toy Gifts for Children from The Minimalist Mom

21 Minimalist Gift Ideas Under $100 from The Minimalist Vegan

You can read more about my previous minimalist Christmases here.

20 Things to do on Black Friday Instead of Shopping

Black Friday shopping isn’t the only thing happening today. It turns out the day after Thanksgiving was not invented as a shopping melee.

Take back the day and use it for something that you will really enjoy and that will actually add value to your life. After all, it’s the season of joy, not the season of stressing about deals running out, fighting for the last gadget, or crippling debt.

On that lovely note, I’ve made a list of 20 things I’d rather be doing today.

20 Things to do on Black Friday Instead of Shopping

Fun things to do instead of Black Friday shopping.

1. Spend time with friends and family.

2. Settle in with a good book or newspaper.

3. Cook a healthy meal or enjoy leftovers.

4. Volunteer for a local charity or nonprofit.

5. Start planning or making homemade holiday gifts.

6. Decorate for December holidays.

7.  Call a family member you haven’t seen in a while.

8. Pull out your arts and crafts supplies and get your hands dirty.

9. Clean out your closet. (Just me?)

10. Plan your next vacation.

11. Visit a museum. Many will have discounts today.

20 Things to do on Black Friday Instead of Shopping
12. Get outside! Go for a walk, visit your local park, or explore your local State and National Parks. Many parks are offering free entrance (but often only to a limited number of people so get your pass soon!).

13. Do your favorite type of exercise. Swim, run, go to a class, dance around your living room – do what makes you happy.

20 Things to do on Black Friday Instead of Shopping
14. Indulge in a holiday movie (or you know, start and finish that new season you’ve been looking forward to… like Gilmore Girls.)

15. Journal. Don’t let Thanksgiving’s success go to waste. Get going on that gratitude journal.

16. Learn something new. Online classes, local stores, your best friend – there are lots of places to pick up a new skill.

17. Build a fort. What, you think you have to be a kid to do that?

18. Pamper yourself. Paint your toes, put on the album your family hates, spend the day in bed – you know what to do.

19. Take your winter gear to fixed or waxed.

20. Go ice skating. But please, I beg you, don’t forget the hot chocolate.

Why You Shouldn’t Shop on Black Friday

Shopping on Black Friday not only fills your house with things you and your loved ones likely don’t need, but it also tells companies that it’s alright to make their employees work miserable hours on a holiday that is supposed to be about giving thanks for what you have.

Black Friday

 

And it’s not just going into the store. Last year Americans spent $4.45 billion on Thanksgiving and Black Friday alone. That’s a frightening amount of shopping and spending.

These purchases have real impacts, and shopping for the sake of shopping hurts us long after we hand over our card.

9 Reasons Not to Shop on Black Friday or Cyber Monday

1. Shopping, especially in excess, is resource and energy intensive. What you buy (and how) has a very real environmental impact. It’s not just your wallet that will feel the impact of your spending.

2. The deals aren’t real. Many retailers raise prices in advance of Black Friday or they don’t actually intend to ever sell the item at the list price.

3. “But it’s the best deals of the entire year!” False. Many stores will have better prices on the same items throughout the year. Prices are likely to be even lower in early December.

4. The crowds. Does anyone actually like waiting in line and being over-run by the people around them in the store?

5. Stress! We seriously don’t need any more stress in our lives.

6. Workers shouldn’t have to protest for their right to spend Thanksgiving with their families.

7. You’re more likely to make rash decisions and impulse purchases when something is on sale.

8. Many retailers manufacture cheaper, lower quality items to sell on Black Friday according to an article in CNN.

9. Black Friday isn’t about giving consumer’s good deals and taking care of loyal customers. It’s about pushing their year-end profits. Black Friday started as a way for stores to grow their profits. It’s all about getting them more money, not saving you any.

 

There’s a reason books on decluttering are hitting the top of charts across the world. We are so conditioned to buy without thinking it through first. We fill our homes with so.much.stuff. Let’s take a break this Black Friday and be happy with what we already have.

 

Stay tuned for Friday’s post on what you should do instead of shop on Black Friday.

Homemade Beauty Gifts

I’m a huge fan of homemade gifts and luxurious DIY beauty treatments. Combine them, and you have the perfect holiday present.

These homemade beauty gifts are easy to make and are made with easy-to-find, natural, sustainable, safe ingredients. No mysterious ingredients or harmful chemicals here.

Another reason I love making little gifts like these is because they are easy to scale up or down and make as many as you need. I’m also a sucker for anything in a cute jar.

Easy Homemade Beauty Gifts

Homemade beauty gifts - homemade shea butter and coconut oil body butter-homemade-shea-butter-and-coconut-oil-body-butter

Coconut oil and shea butter body butter

Infused bath salts

Homemade Beauty Gifts - DIY Tinted Raspberry Lip Balm from Hello Glow

Photo courtesy of Hello Glow

Naturally-tinted raspberry lip balm

Face mist

Conditioning anti-frizz spray 

Grapefruit rosemary bath salts 

Homemade Beauty Gifts - Herbal Sleep Balm from JJ Begonia

Photo courtesy of JJ Begonia

Calming sleep balm

Solid perfume

Peppermint + lavender headache balm

Homemade Beauty Gifts - Four holiday body scrubs from Hello Glow

Photo courtesy of Hello Glow

Four holiday-scented body scrubs 

Dry shampoo spray

Vanilla body spray

Sore muscle salve

 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go make some of these for myself.