The first full month of Summer was busy and relaxing, with many twists and turns. So many gratitudes this month.
Yes, I am getting married! On the 2-year “Adoptversary” of our puppy, Pupperz Buddha, my boyfriend brought me to Malibu Lagoon for a picnic. It was absolutely beautiful, with surfers and pink sky. I remember even thinking it was incredibly romantic for a doggy celebration.
He suggested we play in the water and I agreed and then he said he just wanted to get a snack from the cooler first. As he was down there, he got on one knee and popped the question with a gorgeous ring, and we were hugging and dancing after when our housemates came running up with champagne! What an amazing moment I am so grateful for and so happy. My now-fiancé and I have been through so much and had so many great adventures together. Obviously, I am very excited.
Yes, I’m now a full-time employee at a mid-size company. Many years of running my own company and working on contract were exciting but finally, I decided to opt for some stability in my life. After 2020, it just feels right. I’m happy and grateful to have found a company where I can do some good and have a team to work with every day, while still being remote and having flexibility.
Within this gratitude, I want to also thank the other jobs I’ve had since moving to L.A. While it’s been a tough time for me and everyone, I worked hard and met a lot of great people, and got a chance to show that I’m indeed ready for the next level. In many ways, that’s the big hold-up: not getting a foot in the door to prove what you’re capable of and gain knowledge to take you to new levels.
Yes, in addition to the new job, I got myself a new office space to feel like I’m going somewhere to work. It’s also to make friends and have an office social life. Sure, it’s one mile away, but I actually wake up early and ride my bicycle over (or walk, or scooter) in California business casual every morning. Having a set workspace that’s just… not my house… is so great.
Escaping the crowds and fireworks was so peaceful this 4th of July. The dogs appreciated it too! Being outside during the pandemic has sort of reset my priorities to doing more outdoor activities. Maybe it was because I was working too much or maybe I just felt I had other priorities, but I didn’t do enough outdoors activities when I was living in Portland in the past 8 years. Time to reset.
Visiting my home state and seeing friends and family after 1.5 years (and some friends I hadn’t seen in 2.5 years!) was an absolute treasure this month. Especially my writers’ group, my childhood friends, the Girls, my running team, my mom, and my mama-to-be sister! I guess that’s basically everyone.
I’m also glad to see things bouncing back. Portland especially got a lot of negative media attention and the situation there seemed dire, with so many places closing, an exploding homeless problem, and high levels of unrest. But things looked like they were actually going quite well, with a lot of restaurants bouncing back as food carts and just as many funky little shops and quirky events as ever. And, if I may say, everyone (vaccinated) was excited to participate!
This month was so crazily busy thanks to everyone having gotten the vaccine and L.A. finally opening indoors officially. You could say a year’s worth of peat had been accumulating and the soil was ready for explosive growth. Or some other metaphor.
Remember when we thought we were going to be working from home for 6 weeks and we’d be back to normal by Summer 2020? Me too. So 15 months later, it was almost a surprise to see no-holds-barred openings in L.A.
I didn’t get to see or do a whole lot before lockdown, so re-opening was really exciting. Remembering the ambiance of restaurants and how that adds to the experience, walking into shops, going to yoga classes… Amazing how these normal activities suddenly seem so special.
I am grateful to be able to have these activities come back again safely after so much time. And of course my hope is that people stay vaccinated and safe so we can continue to enjoy businesses and get-togethers.
How honored does feel when your friends choose to spend their vacations visiting you? Very.
After a year and a half, it was awesome and a huge relief to see more friends visiting and being able to go out with them!
For the first time in a long time, I got to find events and classes of interest! And the kicker, I got to meet new people, all on my own. Things are getting busier, and I’m enjoying the chaos while it lasts.
In this case, we have a socially conscious concept being utilized to make a defective, more than worthless product. Similar to the Friendly Cup in many ways, this is a Chinese company with shady business practices. Take a look, and make sure you do not buy from Bake Everything!
After getting through a final bag of plastic zip baggies, I knew the conscientious thing to do was to transition to reusable, non-plastic silicone. In the recent Birchbox, I received one silicone seal-shut bag and it is great. The zero waste store near my house was gone (moved, I later learned), so I turned to an online search to find a set.
The average prices for starter sets is about $50-75. But I saw Bake Everything’s 8-piece starter set for $19.99. Even though I just know that it should ring alarm bells, it’s nearly a compulsion that I just can’t resist a deal. I mean, I have to keep working on this. If you click the linked articles above, you’ll note a recurring issue I have, and I bet a lot of people have this issue.
The order was placed on March 12, weeks before the April Buy Nothing Challenge, and I would be amiss to say that this experience didn’t contribute to why I wanted to complete the challenge.
By April 12, when no other purchases were rolling in anymore, I realized I still didn’t have the bags. I wrote to customer service to cancel the order, but they said the only reason I could cancel was for quality. UGGGGGH not this BS again. All these scammy Chinese companies use the same English translations, I swear.
After some back and forth in which they said it had “shipped” and “orders were taking longer because of COVID” – a flat-out lie at this point – I had to give up and eat the $25 cost. Their return policy was not going to let me send them back at their expense, either, just as with all the other Chinese scams.
As it was Buy Nothing April, I didn’t buy replacements at the store, which is what I absolutely should have done in the first place.
Instead, when I received the silicone bags in May, after over 60 days, I decided they looked pretty good so we tried them. The bottom is flat, a feature I genuinely liked when I picked them because they stand up on their own.
Bake Everything is absolutely worthless.
There are two parts to this story that make the whole Bake Everything scene even worse:
As a person wanting to reduce waste, I often feel I toe the line between hoarding and a genuine desire to re-use or re-purpose things.
Update: I ended up using them around the house for the most part, to stash things. NOT worth purchasing for this, but it was the best of a stupid situation.
This month has been an almost wild level of change and growth. Try to keep up! seems to be my motto. But also, No FOMO!
Like a lot of people, I got into a routine in quarantine, and I love it. I work out on the roof, shower, dress in T-shirts and shorts, saunter over to my desk to start work. Weekends hiking, dog park, boat, bicycle, long runs, camping, etc. If you saw the video of what I packed for Colorado last summer, you will note that there were no purses, jeans, dresses or heels involved.
Meditation has shown me that for myself, being happy is important; more so than over-extending myself because of FOMO. It’s also up to me to decide where I want to spend time and for how long. I even drove over 90 minutes (in a Getaround Prius!) to a meditation, sound healing and movement seminar at a festival. FLOW over FOMO.
And I realized, it gives me joy to go to festivals for the seminars and classes. I love that a lot more than the ‘party’ aspect. Meditation has essentially opened my eyes to realizing that as things open up and opportunities with other people become available, seeking further conscientious and healing activities is what really speaks to me.
By now you probably know I’m a dog-lover. Dogs are amazing!
Challenge makes you grow.
At work, I am stepping into more challenging, requiring a lot of new thought and applying skills in ways I have only learned about or theorized. Blogging, working out, practicing my dulcimer, buying less stuff… They’re all opportunities to grow.
Not that growth is always fun or easy. For me it can be frustrating, annoying, painful. That’s where I am learning to lean into the challenge. Vale la pena, as they say in Spanish.
The other day when I was running, I came to a fork in the road, where one part of the sidewalk went over a steep hill and across a bridge, and one part went on the flat road under the bridge. I saw a runner go under a few seconds before me, but I thought to myself, This is for you. These gains are for you. And I schooled up the hill and down and streaked out in front of the other runner and never looked back.
With the re-rise of Crocs outside of the garden, and jelly bags and sandals making a long-term comeback, I had to wonder: Is there a cuter, and more importantly, environmentally-friendly way to rock the jelly look?
Now, per the Buyerarchy of Needs, using the jelly sandals you saved from 1997 would be the best– but chances are good you neither have nor fit into those anymore. The gently used market also seems notably dry for jellies. So… Recycled is the way.
In addition to the materials, though, when buying new I like to make sure that I’m getting the full socially conscious package for my money. That includes workers’ rights, not just environmental friendliness.
Add in a few Duck Duck Go searches, a 10% off first purchase incentive, and that is how Carmen del Sol was chosen.
All Carmen del Sol bags and shoes are made of sustainably sourced, 100% recyclable jelly material. The material is durable, weatherproof, and water resistant. This makes the bags and shoes ideal for a day at the beach or pool, and taking to your evening hot tub soak. Like all jellies, they’re great for kids, too, because they’re easy to clean and ruggedly resistant to tears or rips.
Everything is cute and fashionable, not just as resort-wear, but for everyday, too. That’s part of the Italian design magic that is infused into the Carmen del Sol line. Plus, the workers’ rights in Italy follow the E.U. standards, so you know you are supporting fair wages and working conditions. That is an important part of shopping consciously: Making sure workers are not working under modern-day slavery conditions.
My first purchase from Carmen del Sol was one of their gold totes to gift to a tween. It went over very well!
Socially conscious items need to not only be consciously made and environmentally friendly, they need to be fashionable and useful, and this brand carries out that promise well. I also appreciate that it fits a specific niche, with easily cleaned, durable shoes and accessories. You could easily pack a picnic in the tote or your beach or yoga items, and show up for happy hour after.
This is the first socially conscious brand I’ve decided to become an affiliate with, and I expect it won’t be the last. Why not help conscious brands gain more of an audience? I think, if this is something I enjoy and feel excited about, chances are good that others will, too.
Buying nothing for a month was in fact tough! It did get easier after a fashion, and I learned a lot about myself.
Plus, I know you’re itching to know: What did I do with the money I didn’t spend?
My friend visited me from Portland! COVID lockdown had been rough, but thanks to the vaccine, we got a long weekend to do fun things in person!
Yes, I was in the middle of Buy Nothing Challenge, and yes, we did a lot of free things: Walks to the beach, window shopping, hiking the Hollywood sign, Venice Electric Light Parade.
Here’s the thing that made a difference: I didn’t get too miserly. We went to an amazing comedy show. We walked to get coffee at a well-known spot. We went out to brunch. I also bought a French Press in the previous week, because I figured if I’m not going out to get coffee daily I should at least make nice coffee at home.
If anything, I realize the lesson here is moderation. It’s to stop buying things I don’t need but not to forgo enriching experiences. No, I don’t need to buy gourmet coffee by the cup daily, but going with a visiting friend (or even occasionally on my own, as a treat) is great.
During this time there were still may purchases resisted, including almost everything from a Japanese beauty store we went to and one of those gorgeous melting torso candles. So yes, I didn’t completely buy nothing for the entire 30 days, but spending on special occasions (like a friend visiting from out of state) and for a specific purpose is how you’re supposed to shop!
That’s right, I paid off credit cards, added to my retirement account, and saved for a car!
As I consciously moved away from buying things unnecessarily, I became re-acquainted with the fact that a lot of people choose to live at or below their means. Even people with plenty of money and/ or fame live very happy lives without dozens of luxury cars and paid club promotions. Think Julia Roberts, Leonardo DiCaprio, Keanu Reeves. You don’t need to overextend yourself financially to feel happy, successful, or confident.
Sure, if you can afford it, drive a sports car or motorcycle that makes you happy and wear stylish, ethically-made clothes that make you feel confident. Just don’t work yourself too hard to afford those things, or buy them if they don’t make you happy.
It’s important to remember that being more eco-friendly, ethical, and socially conscious is not a flex either. The most conscientious thing to do is to not waste your resources on things you don’t need or that won’t bring joy long-term.
I’ve met several people who are very stressed trying to maintain an image and flex lifestyle, which leads to very questionable business and life choices. Almost like an internalized pressure to gain approval at the expense of other people you consider beneath you. I’ve long maintained as a principle of my networking group that treating people as peers is a more conscientious way to do business. There’s a clear connection between social consciousness and living a lifestyle you can truly afford.
I think the reason I was drawn to this challenge in the first place is that instinctively, I knew that all this shopping wasn’t making me happy in the long run but was filling time and the void of experiences during quarantine.
Paradoxically, it also seemed like a conscientious thing to do, to buy ethical and eco-friendly things. But as mentioned so much, it’s still not conscientious if I’m buying something new that I don’t need and won’t often use. Often many of the ‘things’ didn’t give me the joy I sought, which signaled to me that I should stop.
Plus, having too much ‘stuff’ was actually bumming me out, and now I’m using and benefiting from what I have instead of buying new, I notice a big difference.
There are a couple of things I will buy now that I resisted previously, including recycled material running pants second-hand from Poshmark to replace the ones that died a month ago, and the under-desk treadmill. I also need running shorts; I have been running/ working out a lot and needed to donate several extremely old and worn pieces so it’s justified.
I also have tickets to an upcoming show and have tried delivery from a local Thai restaurant. I am almost definitely going to get a professional mani/pedi again after 2 months of doing it myself. (Previously I went 8 months doing my own nails and got to be OK at it!) I love the relaxation of pampering and the salon I go to is Asian-owned, which is a bonus.
The main thing is that I will be mindful to avoid slipping back into the habit of shopping for no reason, impulse buying things on special, or inventing things to buy out of boredom.
This month is full of lessons, about life, habits, and letting go.
Yes, I got vaccinated this month! In another life, I did scientific research at the academic level, and I only scratched the surface of how precise, focused and painstaking the work is to research medical treatments. We are so lucky that we have vaccines available so quickly to end this pandemic pain.
I got the Johnson & Johnson “one and done”, right before it was briefly taken off the market and then put back on. As a sub-Gratitude, I am glad I got the shot on a Friday so I could recover over the weekend. I had fever, chills, migraine, muscle weakness, pain in the shot area. Generally unpleasant. But now I feel great, no side effects whatsoever and yes, I’ve already dined indoors, and it was fabulous!
As I lay in pain after receiving the vaccine, I gratefully took a dose of Veritas Farms fully legal CBD tincture and felt a huge sense of relief. I can order soup with my phone, listen to a calming app, and enjoy the rainbow flag I have hanging in my room. After relaxing a bit, I streamed shows about nature and ancient civilizations because I couldn’t focus on reading or writing. It all got me thinking, even though there is a long way to go, as a society we have come a long way, and I am grateful for that.
Even more, I’m grateful for progress because it means we will make it through these difficult times. Food, clothing, and shelter are all getting more expensive while small businesses struggle hard and storefronts are empty. Where I live, homeless tents line the streets and crowd the beach. It’s easy to feel alarmed, sad, and overwhelmed. But I think we’ll make it, as painful as things are now. As a society we’ve already gone through a lot just in my lifetime!
The Buy Nothing Challenge this month taught me that buying things is not nearly as rewarding as adventures and experiences for me.
‘Adventures’ often signals something grandiose to many people, like international travel to a multi-day backpacking trek. Most of us haven’t been able to do that for a long time, myself included. (Not that I’m not itching to do so.) It’s made me realize how grateful I am for all of life’s adventures. Enjoying local and mini-adventures is so rewarding too!
Adventures can be anything new that takes you out of the comfort zone and into a new vibe. Now that I’m vaccinated, it means meeting new people “IRL” even. It’s all a gift that’s available to everyone and so rewarding.
Besides dining out and checking out shops again, the first thing I did post-vaccination was go to a comedy show! (Check out Nate Adamsky on Instagram to see this crew.)
Most people reading probably already know I quote comedy bits all the time and watch/ listen to comedy to get through dark days. I even love comedy while driving. One of the last things I did pre-COVID was attend a comedy show with my friends in Portland, and one in Hollywood.
Laughter is great medicine, and now I have a troupe of amazing comedians to support and I plan to go to many more shows. Comedy is so important to me that I am giving it a bonus gratitude!
The biggest thing that makes this ‘challenge’ mentally challenging for me? The perception that I would be missing out on the joy of buying things.
Eleven days in, I’m convinced that’s not entirely the case.
Several items on this past week’s list are things I might have purchased without thinking about it: New blue blockers, Color Story filters, truffle oil, watch band, book I’ve been wanting to read.
This experiment has really made me think not twice but once about all these things – not all of which are super cheap by the way. How did I get so unconscious about where and why I was spending money?
Part of it is that I spent a lot longer as a graduate student than most people do: 10 years in total. I worked full or part time for about 5 years of that and paid mostly out of pocket, and for the other 5 I had my tuition paid for with a small annual stipend of about $25,000. Despite the details, I had a much, much lower income than someone who got a job after college and/or stopped at one graduate degree in one field.
I wouldn’t change any of that for the world, by the way. In my heart it was worth every penny. The point of the story is, I used to be pretty intense about money and what I wanted to spend it on.
Then, when I landed my first good job after my MBA, things started to slide:
There was so much excitement in buying things because I could that I didn’t entirely think it through. Did I need a personal trainer really? How often would I ever wear those shoes? Most of this subscription box ended up being gifted.
This mindless buying definitely contributed to the demise of my relationship at the time. And instead of listening, I dug in my heels: Why should I not buy things if I can afford them and they make me happy?
Like everyone, I have been forced to be more mindful at times, like when I moved across two states or went all-in on my businesses (SoCon Networking and Among the Stars Consulting). I think that’s why I’m so attracted to a deal: It’s easier to justify an unnecessary purchase if you are getting a price break on it.
Conscious consumerism doesn’t just mean buying ethical, environmentally-friendly or organic. It means thinking through whether a purchase is necessary and the impacts of making that purchase.
Using my examples from above, I’m glad I thought things through:
The joy I might get from something shiny and new in these cases would be overshadowed by the realization that I didn’t need to make the purchase.
As a marketer myself, I am acutely aware of how easy companies make it for you to buy. One of the keys is to get through the point of sale as quickly as possible so you don’t second-guess, and another is to stay in your mind so you give into temptation. The top 3 things on this week’s list were from text, email, and social media ads.
Systematically, I’ve been unsubscribing and unfollowing brands that are not following me back. I probably subscribed for a discount, or because I was interested in the company potentially down the road. When I need them, I’ll be able to find them. But there’s no reason to let them dictate when I need something they offer.
I’ve gone back more to the mentality I used to have as a student: Focus on work and hobbies, and stay away from temptation. Enjoy being active and creative, and take joy in the fact that I have everything I need!
I survived the weekend still buying nothing!
I’ve been making a list of purchases that have really, really tempted me. Like, I was justifying in my head why I “need” to purchase said thing.
When I looked at the list, I realized there are two purchase categories that tempt me really greatly.
Literally as I am writing this, I received a text offer from Rowhouse Santa Monica for a monthly membership special. I just had to talk myself out of it– I mean, I’ve been running and doing HIIT/ yoga/ barre using the Aaptiv app for 3 months now and it’s been working out great. But it’s a deal…
The deals from NextDoor also didn’t pan out before April, but they had been in the works so I wanted to convince myself they were grandfathered in. Let’s be honest, though: I don’t need an under-desk treadmill. I really want one, but I just started using my standing desk about a month ago and am getting used to that. So it’s premature at best. And I don’t need a PlayStation, I just haven’t played since I lived in Portland and genuinely miss video games.
A big source of temptation is the Sale. Before when I talked about sport shopping online and window shopping, a lot of that is waiting for a sale or deal on something I like. Often a price reduction, even 10-15%, is enough for me to buy when I don’t need to. Yes, I’ve progressed beyond scammy, ultra cheap stuff, but I still can’t resist a deal. Especially for a socially conscious product.
The key to remember now and every day is that buying nothing is better than buying something socially conscious that you don’t need.
Going to get coffee and see a movie fall into this category. Technically Rowhouse and Macrame fall into this one too. Macrame because it’s actually a locally-taught class at a shop we love and at the end I’d end up with a nicer office/ room divider than the current tapestry I’m using.
Typically I am not in any way conscientious about activities I spend money for, since it’s been over a year since I was able to do most things, including movies and classes.
The point with these is both mindful spending and not getting COVID. As of yet, I’m not vaccinated, and I’ve made it this far without getting it. Plus since things are opening again the instance of COVID infections is on the rise again, too.
But either way, it’s getting difficult to talk myself out of the FOMO. Especially when the only people I’ve been able to hang out with locally are my housemates and almost all other socializing is via Zoom. Every few weeks I start feeling despair about taking my dog on the same walks day in and day out. I need groups and activities, aaaaagh!
And what makes it worse? The fact that I used the, “I can make it to the next one,” a couple of times in winter 2020, and then there was no “next one” for over a year. Really adds to the urgency.
BUT… I’ve made it so far…
I’ve made it through Day 2!
Yes, this isn’t a revolutionary amount of time, but I have already faced some temptation and made some realizations.
Yesterday I went to Walmart over my lunch break. Never again.
My boyfriend convinced me they have a good organic produce department and a wide local selection. My first thought was, “Not good for the farmers!” This is material for a separate post, but essentially Walmart has the money to become the largest buyer for a smaller supplier, making the supplier (farmer) dependent on their account; and then Walmart wields its power to squeeze farmers’ profits. They’ve done this to suppliers at various levels over the years.
Walmart also has a poor reputation for labor ethics among suppliers.
Still, I went along to check it out.
When we arrived at the Torrance Walmart, it was the exact scene you would expect: Jam-packed, tons of unruly children and crying babies, and the kinds of crazy you would literally see on a People of Walmart website.
Basically, if you want to see what institutional classism and racism looks like, I highly recommend walking around this store. You can also gain a healthy realization of how Walmart truly destroys communities. A very high percentage of obesity, lots of people with overt health problems like limping, home-made bandages, missing teeth. We are truly failing as a society. But of everything we saw and experienced, the fact that there was no fresh produce was the most frightening to me.
Anyway, early on my boyfriend did find a popcorn maker I’d been wanting, but I was able to resist.
Package delivery trucks have stopped at my house 4 times today: USPS, UPS, Amazon, and one DHL. Granted we have quite a few people here in this co-living situation, but it still seems pretty environmentally unfriendly.
Turns out, during the pandemic many environmentalist groups looked at the impact of online shopping and found that it was often much worse for the environment than driving a car to a store. You drive to the store in a car, park, shop, buy (or window shop) and have an experience, then go home. The delivery vans are out driving for hours and hours every day to get your product to you. And unlike a shopping trip where you might pick up several things you need, you often only get one item delivered.
Plus, not everyone does (or should!) go by car. There’s even less impact if you’re traveling to the store by bicycle, on foot, on scooter, or via public transportation.
On the front end, Amazon has forced more sellers to eat 2-day/ expedited shipping costs. The cost of shipping by boat or plane for just one or a few items is often related to the fuel and energy costs. If you don’t pay that cost, though, it can be easy to forget that environmental impact.
The last thing about shopping online that is worse for the environment? The packaging. I realized this yesterday as I was taking several boxes to the recycling (from an item I ordered weeks ago— it was grandfathered in): If I bought that at the store, it would only have its one box, and I could take it home in a re-usable bag. But instead, it had packing plastic, several packing slips and inserts, and a larger outer box. And I had no re-usability for any of those boxes, unfortunately.
When I peered into the recycling bin, we as a household had already accumulated several such boxes over the past 3 days.
During the pandemic, and for people in rural/ remote areas, online shopping has been a saving grace for getting necessary supplies. But as things open up here in Los Angeles, I have to wonder about the impact of all the things I buy online just for entertainment.
Yes, part of the realizations leading up to Buy Nothing April are that I scroll Google Shopping, Etsy, Poshmark, Thredup, and all kinds of online shops just out of boredom or as a time filler. I add to cart and save to favorites list. My Instagram is full of highly-targeted socially conscious products. I sign up for newsletters and discount text and often do come back and buy.
In the marketing business we call that a conversion, and it means the shops’ marketing efforts are working. The problem on my end is that I end up purchasing all kinds of things I don’t need, don’t like very much when I actually receive them in the mail, or, the worst, they don’t fit.
After my foray with scammy companies and commitment to get my wardrobe grade to a B by the end of 2021, I can at least say the quality of these purchases is high. But a year ago, that wasn’t the case, and a lot of these purchases were crap, in addition to not fitting, not being needed, not being the right product, not being as exciting as in the ad, and having a major environmental impact.
Buy Nothing April is forcing me to do something else constructive with my time, like reading business books or blogging!