"Once we have completely eradicated our delusions it will be utterly impossible for us to experience unpeaceful states of mind." Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Owning less, is more?

My quite nifty friend, Ellie introduced me to the 'tiny house movement' a few years ago, which is basically a group of people making a conscious effort to downsize the space they are living in and subsequently, their possessions. Focusing on a smaller space and simplified living, these people have made this choice due to environmental concerns, financial concerns and seeking more time and freedom. The concept has been re-appearing in various places in my life and something that I am interested in. 
For most Americans 1/3 to 1/2 of their income is dedicated to the roof over their heads; This translates to 15 years of working over your life time just to pay for it and because of it 76% of Americans are living paycheque to paycheque.
Ideally, I will design a career for myself that I thoroughly enjoy and therefore will not see it as taking away time from my "life" and my hobbies but rather adding to, however there are plenty of individuals who will never be afforded this luxury, and have to continue working in whatever job or industry they can, in order to pay off debt or provide for their dependents. So what about them? Do they continue to purchase and expand and buy things, for the sake of keeping up with status quo? Or, would it be a great relief to downsize, and get all of that TIME back? I keep thinking about and trying to dissect the "40 hour work week" especially after reading this really great article; why do people think that they should spend approximately 40 hours a week, working? (and usually at a job that they hate?) Of course again, I realize that you may think I'm naive and am not considering that people have BILLS they need to pay, and usually, the amount of hours per week is set by an employer, not the employees… but what if EVERYONE, all the employees, all of society, took a fresh look at the breakdown of where they are spending their time? Then, employers would have to re-consider, no?

I am making a conscious effort to pay attention to my state of mind and the exact emotions I am feeling at a given time. For example, when I feel happy, I'm really FEELING it and acknowledging it. Thinking to myself, "Emily, you are very happy right now". But more than that, going one step further and paying attention to the "why". Usually, it's not because I've purchased something, or gotten paid, and surely it's not when I fork over my rent money, it's usually when I'm spending plenty of TIME and no money at all! As some examples, it's when I'm going for a run, having an in-depth conversation till the wee hours of the morning, or when I'm sipping delicious tea and reading a really great book or even if I'm out for a stroll and drinking in a beautiful sunset and probably taking a picture of said sunset.
These activities are free, and yet they are worth more to me than most things with a hundred dollar price tag. It is because my time has become precious and sacred. Do I really want to be spending this precious time doing things that bring me zero pleasure, or would I rather get rid of and tone down the expenditures (clothing, products etc.) in order to have to work less, and allow me more time to do things that make me happy?

Have you ever considered living in a camper van, a trailer, a tiny house or, what I would love to do, living in a sailboat? Or did you not even think of this as a possibility?

Please feel free to comment below!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Hair today, gone tomorrow.

"If I want to knock a story off the front page, I just change my hairstyle." Hillary Clinton, 1997

Have you ever wondered why long hair is generally considered more feminine than shorter hair? As I brainstorm various steps I am hoping to take on the route to simplifying my life, my long locks have become a point of issue. When I begin to think about the amount of hours in my life I have spent on the sole purpose of maintaining my mane, quite frankly, it makes me cringe. Between washing, conditioning, masking, blow-drying, waiting for it to air dry when I cannot be bothered to blow-dry, flat-ironing, curling, teasing... talk about a time suck! Ahhg, it's exhausting. And for what?
My hair length is not extremely long by modern standards, though it is the longest it has been in several years and when I look around, it is a similar length to most of the young women I observe on a daily basis. In fact, I have a difficult time recalling friends or acquaintances of mine in their 20's and 30's who rock a true bob or anything shorter. Why? Why is it that young women choose to wear their hair in longer styles? With all the upkeep it takes to maintain these styles, what's the point? Even if you're going for the perfectly placed "I just rolled out of bed" look, which is one of my personal favourites, I can attest to the fact that this look still takes 15-30 minutes to fabricate!

I nonchalantly told my friend the other day that I was thinking about cutting off my hair and she immediately grabbed the end of her long ponytail and replied "really? Wow, I love my hair! I could never cut it!" Does she really love her hair? Or does she only think she loves her hair because subconsciously, she believes that all MEN love it when her hair is worn long? Is it even true that men prefer women with long hair? Do most men react to short haired women in a certain way simply because they think that is how they're "supposed" to respond? Where does this originate?

Alas; Google! Fundamentally, long hair is a component of sexual selection, as long hair is a sign of health and fertility, and therefore signifies that a woman with long hair has reproductive potential; the normalcy of long hair stems from men wanting women for sexual purposes. Well that is just great if we were living at a time when reproduction was the primary purpose of sexual relationships. But what about now? Do we as a society, not all looking to create offspring demand more than simply a physical desire? Women clearly want to be desired and therefore cater to men’s (if that's what they're into...) desires… by wearing their hair in longer styles. Is that really what women should be basing their look on, whether or not men will find them desirable? Do I really wear my hair long for the purpose that "men" will find me more desirable? I just got a gross taste in my mouth...

I try not to dress for anyone but myself. I like to think that there are two general types of dressing styles that women have. The first group are the women who dress in tight, short, skin-exposing clothing which I label as "dressing for men" simply because these outfits are stereotypically what men enjoy, and leave little to the imagination. The second category of women are those who "dress for women/themselves", who are more creative with their wears (see Man Repeller). With these categories, I also do a bit of stereotyping of men, too. There's men who prefer the women in category one and then the men who prefer the women in category two. Each to their own I always say, however my personal preference is category two, because I enjoy fashion, and like it when men also have their own sense of style but I suppose subconsciously also because I prefer people who have a bit more depth… which I think in general people tend to match who they are as a person on the inside, with the person they are portraying on the outside. If they're sense of style is confusing, then it's probably because they haven't quite figured themselves out yet, or… as a person, they are just an eclectic being!

During Paris Fashion Week last March, an event buzzword was 'boyish', which was reflected in the make-up choices, or rather, lack of make-up. The point of looking your best came into question... because what does that even mean? Beauty blog, Into the Gloss asks "is being closer to nature—not feigned ‘natural,’ but actual natural—the new 'pretty'?" And on the topic of gender, if sexuality is a continuum, which I believe it is, can gender also be a continuum? So being 'boyish' can also mean less womanly, but also less manly? If makeup is to mean womanly, as long hair is considered an archetype of femininity, does going 'au natural' mean looking more masculine? Just a thought..

I think that there is something to be said for minimizing and simplifying all aspects of life, as difficult and baffling as it is turning out to be, yet this includes the mind and spirit as well as the body: read, less makeup! Again, at Paris Fashion Week this past year, hairstylist Eugene Souleiman commented on the state of beauty:
“It’s not about major glamour, ‘cause it’s a bit tacky, and a bit vulgar now. It’s about a return to intelligence, for women to be taken seriously and not look like dolls... I think we’ve moved on from that. I think we’re approaching a time of the individual, and things feeling bespoke and character-based—not this man’s view of what a woman should look like”.
What men consider beautiful is interesting to me, not so much the what, but simply the why? If men used to consider long hair to be more desirable than short hair for procreation purposes, is that still the case? The preconceived notions of women with short hair are there, and so I suppose the question is, are these qualities not desirable? What 'kind' of woman wears their hair short and what does this style represent? Around 1988, Anna Wintour became editor of Vogue, and they published the article On Short Hair:
Hair is time. Women with short hair always look as if they have somewhere else to go. Short hair removes obvious femininity and replaces it with style. You can't hide behind short hair. Your nape is exposed. Men put their hands around your neck instead of stroking your long locks. You can only pray they have friendly intentions. The backs of your ears show, your jaw line is clear to anyone watching, and you realize --perhaps for the first time-- how wide the expanse of skin is between cheekbone and ear. You may look a little androgynous, a little unfinished, a little bare. Short hair makes others think you have good bones, determination, and an agenda. The shape of your skull is commented on, so are its contents. They can pick you out in a crowd, and you can be recognized from behind, which can be good or bad.
If the majority of men do indeed favour women with longer hair, and if you did enjoy the attention of men, it would definitely require plenty of confidence and strength to disregard this preference and in fact cut your hair. Understandably, this confidence and eccentric nature is what I have always admired about short-haired women. The preconceived notions of these women being bold, courageous and confrontational must to some extent be true, since by DEFAULT, women have long hair! The CHOICE to cut it all off, is therefore an actual choice opposed to doing nothing, and have it grow long. Additionally, short hair is more conducive to leading an active lifestyle since it is easier to wash-and-go, which is why plenty of female athletes and women-on-the-go wear their hair in shorter styles. 

My admiration of short-haired woman most likely comes from strong and eccentric female characters that I have seen in films, as well as the few that I have had relations with in person. I think of three specific individuals that I have known in my lifetime who have all worn their hair short at one time: one, the quintessential artist, is a remarkable person and such a unique individual. She represents short hair very well. Another, is very into fashion and rocks the pixie 'do with a badass sass which is something that I have never quite mastered although am always intrigued by. The final that comes to mind is another artist, who I looked up to in high school because she was poised and funny and also very unique.

The few movie characters that I recall off hand include Charlize Theron's character in Sweet November. I simply adored her carefree attitude and how she seemed so strong even though she was terminally ill, and that she wanted to spend the last months of her life helping others.
Natalie Portman in Closer was another character whom I adored. Basically, she was another carefree spirit who lived her life in the present and took risks, had adventures and just.. moved on so easily.
Finally, there’s Keira Knightly in Domino, because she was tough.
Of course, these are characters, fictional, made-up… so what about some of the real-life iconic women that were undeniably beauties and were known for their short hair like Audrey Hepburn….
Coco Chanel...
  and of course Marilyn Monroe!

I have decided to cut this mop on my head, for a few reasons: I love a drastic change, I think that my time can be used in several more rewarding ways than washing, especially DRYING (uhg) and styling, plus the ends are quite sad looking and the dry cold of Northern Ontario is giving me major static and finally, because I feel like doing away with the conformity of a stereotypical ideal of beauty.

Haircut on Make A Gif
make animated gifs like this at MakeAGif

Hi, I'm Emily

Thank you for visiting! My name is Emily and I started this blog to document my life and the recent decision to live more simply, by purging unnecessaries from my life, including possessions, thoughts, empty time, people, choices, food etc. 

As for the person behind the rants... here is what I'll tell you:

I am a gemini (Zodiac), an ENTP (MBTI), a number 7 with an 8 wing (Enneagram), orange with a close green (True Colours) and a spirited communicator (HRDQ Communication Styles).

My personal library is vast and contains mostly non-fiction, self-exploration, vegetarian/vegan cooking and nutrition books. My favourite books I've read somewhat lately and enjoyed include Freakonomics, The Tipping Point, The Girl Who Played With Fire (Trilogy), Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. I love making collages, painting and photography. My favourite colours to wear are green, because it matches my eyes, black because it makes me feel like people take me seriously and pattern because it makes me feel artsy. My favourite colours to look at are yellow and purple. I'm a sucker for sunsets, romantic comedies and anything chocolate.

I love travelling and even more so the prospect of travelling, researching places to visit, flights, hotels, nooks and crannies with the possibility of an adventure. Some of my favourite places that I have visited thus far are Cinque Terre, Santorini, Prague, Melbourne, Dalat and Luang Prabang. There are many places that I have yet to see that I would like to, which I will include in my soon to be updated "things to do/see before I die" list, in which I generally associate places I want to see with things I hope to do, to make the places that much more meaningful. I really enjoy making lists. Also, reading and saving inspirational quotes is a favourite pastime of mine. A few of my latest finds include: 

"how to be happy: decide every morning that you are in a good mood" and 

"dreams don't work unless you do" also, 

"the harder I work, the luckier I get" and one more, 

"one day, your life will flash before your eyes. MAKE SURE IT'S WORTH WATCHING". 

I spent my whole childhood living in the same house with my parents and three siblings who are all my very best friends and I love them to pieces. After high school, the longest I ever lived in the same place was eight months, which only happened twice in five years. I like change. 

I am a pop culture geek and love all genres of films... old, new, action, musical, dramas, I love them all! Some of my favourites include: Pulp Fiction, American Beauty, Braveheart, When Harry Met Sally, Gladiator and Girl, Interrupted. I also love some genres of music, which do not include country, electronic or metal. I spend most mornings listening to Motown and blues varieties, in my car I usually listen to either songs from film soundtracks or rock/alternative music still from CD's I burnt when I was in high school, or the radio. When I'm winding down in my apartment, it's more oldies, indie and rock and when I'm winding up, it's usually top 40. Here is a list of my "favourites" on 8 Tracks as of RIGHT NOW: 

Give Me Love Ed Sheeran 
Blue Lips Regina Spektor

Everyday Buddy Holly

Brandy (You're a Fine Girl) Looking Glass

The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh) The Tokens

This Magic Moment The Drifters

Eyes On Fire Blue Foundation

Bird Song Florence + The Machine

Rockin' Robin Bobby Day

Stay Maurice Williams and The Zodiacs

Build Me Up Buttercup The Foundations

A Drop In the Ocean Ron Pope

Shiny Happy People R.E.M.

Flightless Bird, American Mouth Iron & Wine

Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop Landon Pigg

I Will Follow You Into the Dark Death Cab for Cutie

Challengers The New Pornographers

The Fear Lily Allen

Fidelity Regina Spektor

Your Song Ellie Goulding

Us Regina Spektor

Twenty Years Augustana

Samson Regina Spektor

Pumped Up Kicks Foster The People

Samson Regina Spektor

Where I Stood Missy Higgins

Learning to Breathe Switchfoot

Almost Lover A Fine Frenzy

Hear You Me Jimmy Eat World

The Beacon A Fine Frenzy

Heal the World Michael Jackson

Lollipop The Chordettes

Rockin' Robin Bobby Day

Little Bitty Pretty One Clyde McPhatter

Stay Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs

If You Wanna Be Happy Jimmy Soul

Hey Baby Bruce Channel

Turning Page Sleeping at Last

Faster Matt Nathanson

Wishing you sunshine, smiles, laughter and love, 

Monday, November 25, 2013

(every season, but especially winter) makes me think about travelling.

I have the travel bug. I admit it, and I just love quenching it!! You can often catch me hitting up Google with questions like "cheapest flights in ___ (insert current month)" and "places you must travel to before age ___ (insert next year's age)" and oh the list goes on and on…

I like to plan trips, just for the sake of planning them, regardless of whether I will physically be going on them or not. I love mapping things out as if I were to be driving that route the following week or taking the bus between point A and point B. Pretending that I will be at those places eventually, I think helps me with remembering names and the proximity of different cities.

For my current travel obsession, I'm focusing on the Americas, you know, keeping it close to home. I have yet to treat myself to a trip to NYC and have been longing to go for years and years! I've planned my trip out so many times, not to mention the amount of films and TV shows I've seen with New York as the setting, that it feels like I have indeed been, several times over! My fixation however, is currently not just on NYC but on a backpacking adventure with New York as the jumping off point! Yippeee! How about NYC-Washington, DC (which will only take ~2.5 hrs by train!! I was quite surprised by this short distance too!) - Nashville - Memphis - New Orleans - and a charming two day road trip down to Miami for the win?!  Now, if that doesn't sound like a blast, I don't know what does! Here's a visual for y'all:

So, that would be fun. Who wants to join me??

Also, have you seen this super great list of world heritage sites:


When I see photos like this:

and this:

… I swear my dopamine receptors go through the roof! The first photo is of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, which I had the pleasure of visiting almost two years ago. The second, is in Petra, Jordan, in which my introduction to the historical "Rose City" was through the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Unfortunately, I have only visited in my dreams but hopefully I'll get there in more than spirit, someday!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

American Music Awards >ReCap>

This is an Emily ramble:

How you doin'? Did you watch the American Music Awards (AMAs) tonight? Do you even care about the awards? Even one slightest bit? If not, I'm suggesting you move on from this post…

I did, and do. Actually... I'm watching them right now. Firstly, I really like Taylor Swift's new haircut and style. It's a lot more edgy with more layers than it has been in the past. Here's a re-cap of TS at the AMAs from 2010-2013 just for fun… I wonder what colour she's going to wear to the 2014 AMAs :P

I couldn't help but notice the fun-loving relationship it appears that JT and TS have.. which is interesting because I distinctly remember them meeting on The Ellen Show in 2008 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlOIDOmPZQI), when Taylor admitted that he was her musical crush! Speaking of Ellen… I'm a huge fan to the extent that when I first discovered her show when I was in high school, I faked sick for a week straight, just so that I could watch it! Here's a funny few clips from her show that, if you're a fan too, you'll probably get a kick out of: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mattbellassai/the-35-greatest-moments-ever-on-the-ellen-show-6z51

I loved Imagine Dragons, and One Direction were pretty great too. It shows that they're still rookies, even with all of this new fame. 

Lady Gaga was pretty badass; I was worrying that she was going to fall off of the presidential desk! It's nice to see some humour and more of a "story" from the performance, instead of simply relying on skin-baring and eccentric outfits. Also, nice, umm, man-horse entrance? (http://www.justjared.com/2013/11/24/lady-gaga-rides-horse-on-amas-2013-red-carpet/)

It's a big uproar as to who will be most shocking tonight, and of course the competition is between Gaga and Miley! I can't help it… but I'm pretty tuned in to how Miley's career is unfolding and her fashion choices, which I've actually been into lately. Here's what InStyle deems as her "best": http://www.instyle.com/instyle/package/general/photos/0,,20696519_20759200_30057609,00.html

I was disappointed with Katy Perry's kickoff performance. Usually her vocals are spot on, however tonight, her Geisha inspired outfit completely outshines her voice and she fell flat. This was one of my favourite stripped down performances of hers at the 2011 AMAs. Amaze-balls…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6wutZEvpNY

TLC... pretty cool, sounds exactly like the studio recording from 1994? 1995? I think the song was on one of the "NOW" albums. Next. 

I was a bit, mm, confused with the delivery of Rihanna's Icon award, more specifically, with the fact that it was her mother who presented it to her. I caught the highlights of the CMAs a  week or two ago, and there was TS receiving the Pinnacle award, with like 10 presenters on stage, including Faith and husband, Keith Urban, George Strait etc… and here's poor Rihanna with one official presenter, Jay-Z, and he just "phones it in", in all aspects of that expression! My thought process was like, so Jay couldn't actually make it in body, he sends his best and the AMA team thought, well, next best - Rihanna's mom?? Like, I'm sure she's a wonderful lady and everything, but I sort of feel bad for Rihanna, seeming that nobody else wanted to step up to the plate to hand her this supposedly prestigious award. You'd think if she was so important, SOMEONE else would want to do it, no? Anyways...

Ooooh so Miley is on now... she's switching up the pitch/ of Wrecking Ball a tad I notice… kitty cat background, leopard, nope, kitty print umm, outfit. Coo. 

Dun dun dun, TSwiz wins Artist of the Year. What else is new? Her acceptance speech(es) was quite great, she's such a pro, and yet she has such a beautiful way of appearing genuine. Aweeee. 

For a complete list of tonight's winners:

Thursday, November 21, 2013

"20 Things I Should Have Known at 20"

Lists are fun. Here's one:

1. The world is trying to keep you stupid. From bank fees to interest rates to miracle diets, people who are not educated are easier to get money from and easier to lead. Educate yourself as much as possible for wealth, independence, and happiness.
2. Do not have faith in institutions to educate you. By the time they build the curriculum, it’s likely that the system is outdated– sometimes utterly broken. You both learn and get respect from people worth getting it from by leading and doing, not by following.
3. Read as much as you can. Learn to speed read with high retention. Emerson Spartz taught me this while I was at a Summit Series event. If he reads 2-3 books a week, you can read one.
4. Connect with everyone, all the time. Be genuine about it. Learn to find something you like in each person, and then speak to that thing.
5. Don’t waste time being shy. Shyness is the belief that your emotions should be the arbitrators of your decision making process when the opposite is actually true.
6. If you feel weird about something during a relationship, that’s usually what you end up breaking up over.
7. Have as much contact as possible with older people. Personally, I met people at Podcamps. My friend Greg, at the age of 13, met his first future employer sitting next to him on a plane. The reason this is so valuable is because people your age don’t usually have the decision-making ability to help you very much. Also they know almost everything you will learn later, so ask them.
8. Find people that are cooler than you and hang out with them too. This and the corollary are both important: “don’t attempt to be average inside your group. Continuously attempt to be cooler than them (by doing cooler things, being more laid back, accepting, ambitious, etc.).”
9. You will become more conservative over time. This is just a fact. Those you surround yourself with create a kind of “bubble” that pushes you to support the status quo. For this reason, you need to do your craziest stuff NOW. Later on, you’ll become too afraid. Trust me.
10. Reduce all expenses as much as possible. I mean it. This creates a safety net that will allow you to do the crazier shit I mentioned above.
11. Instead of getting status through objects (which provide only temporary boosts), do it through experiences. In other words, a trip to Paris is a better choice than a new wardrobe. Studies show this also boosts happiness.
12. While you are living on the cheap, solve the money problem. Use the internet, because it’s like a cool little machine that helps you do your bidding. If you are currently living paycheck to paycheck, extend that to three weeks instead of two. Then, as you get better, you can think a month ahead, then three months, then six, and finally a year ahead. (The goal is to get to a point where you are thinking 5 years ahead.)
14. Get a six-pack (or get thin, whatever your goal is) while you are young. Your hormones are in a better place to help you do this at a younger age. Don’t waste this opportunity, trust me.
15. Learn to cook. This will make everything much easier and it turns food from a chore + expensive habit into a pleasant + frugal one. I’m a big Jamie Oliver fan, but whatever you like is fine.
16. Sleep well. This and cooking will help with the six pack. If you think “I can sleep when I’m dead” or “I have too much to do to sleep,” I have news for you: you are INEFFICIENT, and sleep deprivation isn’t helping.
17. Get a reminder app for everything. Do not trust your own brain for your memory. Do not trust it for what you “feel like” you should be doing. Trust only the reminder app. I use RE.minder and Action Method.
18. Choose something huge to do, as well as allowing the waves of opportunity to help you along. If you don’t set goals, some stuff may happen, but if you do choose, lots more will.
19. Get known for one thing. Spend like 5 years doing it instead of flopping around all over the place. If you want to shift afterwards, go ahead. Like I said, choose something.
20. Don’t try to “fix” anyone. Instead, look for someone who isn’t broken.

I didn't write this... I stumbled ( stumbleupon.com) upon this list which I believe has plenty of merit. It was written by New York Times bestselling author, Julien Smith, who titles it "20 Things I Should Have Known at 20", however I think that people of all ages can strive to be cognizant of these ideas claimed as necessary.