dreams

Growing Pains

I cannot believe how difficult it is to actually write this. I’ve had a post screaming in my  head for days now. Like a loud, beautiful piece of music that won’t go away until I DO something about it. So here I am and you know what I hear in my head? Nothing. Silence.

Whatever. I’m doing this anyway.

When I started writing and posting on my blog last year, my intention was to build something from which I could eventually figure out a way to monetize. I was in love with the idea of minimalism. I read stories from other minimalists who made money from writing about getting rid of their junk and I thought “Hey, I can do that. I love writing and I love getting rid of stuff.” Instant, easy, awesomness, right?

The more I wrote, the more I wanted people to read (and like and comment on) what I wrote. I needed that daily dopamine fix. I sacrificed sleep and time with “real” people in my life to get that little rush of feel good. My WordPress app on my phone became my lifeline to how many people had actually read and decided to follow my blog. As the readership increased, so did the time I spent on my blog and reading other blogs.

Looking back I see it now: I had become a blog junkie.

Then something happened that I could never have predicted. Ever. In a million fear-filled years of my life.

First, I took this set of pictures for The Closet Countdown project:

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This is where my life ended and began with a rather innocent thought. Something deep inside me bubbled to the surface. Ancient. Powerful. Dangerous. Here goes…I thought that I actually looked pretty in these pictures. I felt pretty. For two whole seconds I tasted that freedom that only comes from self-love and fearless living. I even attempted to write about it here  in a post about the morning after The Closet Countdown ended. Then Nancy (please go check out her awesome blog My Year[s] of Sweat if you haven’t already) posted a comment pointing out how I had grown in confidence since I started my little experiment.

A perfect spiritual storm poured down. It broke me. And inside I began to walk a new road.

It was beautiful and horrible all at the same time. Beautiful because I needed to begin to learn to like myself. Horrible because I was so afraid…

Writing and posting and commenting and responding to comments began to seem distasteful in a way that I could not explain. So I gave myself permission to quit. I used my time to dig deep. To learn to say loving things to myself. To forgive. To dream. To love. I found so many beautiful things hiding under a lifetime of fear and self-loathing.

The result has been nothing short of amazing. I will tell you more about it. But not today. Maybe not even tomorrow. But I will. Not because I feel like I have to. But because I want to.

I make no promises about this blog . I can’t afford to right now. That means I may not even respond to your wonderful comments. I may not read or follow your blog – even if you read or follow mine. However, I do promise to send sunshine your way. I’m not doing this to make money. I’m doing this to increase the light in the world. Simple but true.

If you are still reading, I am most grateful. It is not quite the rush that it once was but it adds joy to my day to know that someone read and enjoyed what I wrote. I’m fascinated by the connection we make as writer to reader…

Here is my sunshine for you today:

I wish you warm, beautiful light. The kind that fills your heart and makes you want to make the world a better place. I wish this for you with my whole heart…

Love and Light,

Ginny

My Barbie Doll Was A Minimalist

The ugly duckling is a misunderstood universal myth. It’s not about turning into a blonde Barbie doll or becoming what you dream of being; it’s about self-revelation, becoming who you are.
Baz Luhrman

Greetings! While on my simplicity quest, I often take tiny detours down memory lane. It’s part of the process for me. It helps slow me down a little because I have a tendency to rush ahead at full speed.

Sometimes, I remember things we lost in the fire. The memories skitter across my mind in random moments of thought. In this case, I was pondering a wardrobe that could go from day to night with only a few, minor changes. (Shocker that I would think about such things, right?).

Then I remembered my favorite Barbie Doll. Day to Night Barbie. Since I’m pretty sure she’s gone on to Barbie heaven, I did a little Google searching. Oh. My. Word. I think it was an early sign from the universe. An unexpected teacher with plastic skin, blond hair, and painted blue eyes…and an outfit that went from work to play in a matter of seconds.

Let me put this out there before I go on. With as much flak as Barbie gets for creating unrealistic physical goals for young girls I stand on the other side. Firmly. It’s just a doll. Just like my cloth baby doll. I learned to dress her and change her diaper. It’s a toy.

I’m in my thirties and have no desire to change from brown hair to blonde or hazel eyes to blue. In fact, I want more muscle tone than my Barbie had :). (I also had an early eighties fitness Barbie – bright blue body suit, legwarmers, and headband. Oh yeah…)

If anything, playing with my Barbie Dolls helped me decide what I liked about me. What colors and styles I preferred. What life I might choose to have. And like the Baz Luhrmann quote states, it’s not about becoming her, it’s about becoming me.

How was my Barbie Doll a minimalist? She could go from a day at the office to a night on the town by removing her jacket and hat and reversing her skirt. Genius. I’m still totally inspired. To help you have a better idea of what I mean, I’ve gathered a couple pictures and commercials I found. I had both the doll and the home and office set. Seriously.

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Did you enjoy those? I know I did! During my search, I found another Barbie from my past that I had quite forgotten. But now that I see her – and the many ways she can wear one dress combination – I’m not surprised that she was mine as well. Dream Date Barbie.

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One skirt, many options. Oh yes! See that sequined tube top thing? I made it into a skirt and added a tank top. Yep, early signs of a versatile wardrobe addiction…

Thank you, dear reader for taking this tiny trip down memory lane with me. I’m a bit of a nutter but if you can stand it, then I’m glad you are here. Cheers to you, wherever you are and to your wardrobe – may it always reflect who you are inside. 🙂

Minimalism and Buried Treasure

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“It’s never too late – never too late to start over, never too late to be happy.”
– Jane Fonda

As I sift and dig through the past, I find that I’ve collected a lot of things I don’t need – physically and mentally. Junk. Weighing me down. Slowing me down. Since my last big epiphany regarding minimalism and mental clutter, I’ve learned to enjoy the process a little more. For the first time ever, I’m living an intentional life. I’m less afraid of what I’ll find because I know that on the other side is freedom.

Recently, I found two bits of treasure in my digging. Little things to a stranger’s eye. But worth so much in my heart. After years of setting them aside, they just got buried beneath my busy life. I don’t know what to do with them yet. I’ve moved on so far that they are dusty and old. I’m older. But I believe that it’s not too late to live your dreams.

Both are from a distant past. But both remind me that my simplicity quest is not about getting rid of everything. That’s actually pretty easy. The hard part is deciding what to keep. Sifting through junk and dreams to find out what matters most to me. Belly dance matters. Love of writing poetry matters. I found the hip scarves in an old, unlabeled box in a cabinet this morning. The love of poetry I found in a coffee shop last week. Unfinished dreams worth keeping…

(Because of this post I decided to go ahead and post the poem I wrote. Lauren’s is the only blog I follow that is about writing. She is sincere, encouraging, and seems to know what she’s talking about. She inspires me to be a better writer. So Lauren, if you read this, thank you…)

Open Mic Night

I’m mesmerized
by this woman’s voice.
Whatever it is that real singers
with real talent have,
she’s got it.

Everyone knows it
in this tiny coffee shop –
a room full of broken souls.

So clear, so rich
her art reaches out.
It’s so pure…

I will never sing like this woman.

After twelve years
of public school choir
and many more years
singing Chain of Fools in the shower
I still don’t have what she has.
Even if I hired a tutor,
reserved an auditorium,
and sang with all my heart,
I could not come close
to what she brings.

Something inside me is angry.

Envious.

Not because she can sing.
But because she doesn’t have to look
to find her magic special something.
She just opens her soul
and there it is.

And me?
I’m still searching.
While I write.
While I run.
While I see the perfect beauty
in the faces of the people around me.

And someday,
when I find it…

I won’t hold back.
I’ll sit on a stool
on life’s little stage
in some remote corner of the world;
room full of strangers.

I will open my soul.
Whatever I’ve found
will shine out
and light up the night.
A reminder to all
to keep searching…

It’s never too late
to find your voice.

A Dream Deferred…Is Liberating

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What happens to a dream deferred?

– Langston Hughes

I am itching to “make it” as a travel writer. By “make it” I mean make money (even though I know it’s not about the money). I go places. Maybe not across the world with one backpack and a laptop. But I love road trips and I see adventure everywhere. And I want to share it through writing and fun photos. Lately, I’ve been researching travel writers and I even set up a skeleton profile on Matador.com. But every time I went to the page I felt something was “off”. Something inside me just wasn’t flowing into the travel articles I was writing attempting to write – even as practice.

So I unplugged from my life, did a few sun salutations, and searched my soul to find that nagging feeling. In minutes, I found clarity. This is not the time for me to be a travel writer. Oh, I know…”you gotta reach for your dreams while you can” but how can I reach for some of them when I’m bogged down in an attic half full of junk? My biggest dream is to live a minimalist lifestyle so that I can spend more time spreading sunshine. I want to get better at being a loving person (I have so far to go on this one). I want to live my goals and “do my thing” without any nagging voices inside me.

I need minimalism for my soul as well as my surroundings.

I wrote “Travel Writer” on my list of someday projects, closed my browser tabs telling me how to be a better travel writer, and exhaled. It felt so good. Like I had been carrying extra weight in my life’s backpack that I had not noticed. I went through a box of giveaway stuff with new zeal and pleasure.

I don’t know what happens to a dream deferred. But I’m going to continue on my simplicity quest to find out. This is my dream for now. Thank you for letting me share it with you. Cheers!

How to Make Money Online (psst…it’s not about the money)

20130703-094715.jpgA few weeks ago, I ran a Google search for “how to make money online”. I love writing. LOVE it. I wanted to see if I could find a simple way to make some extra pocket change using my love and my ever-growing skills. I wasn’t searching for way to get rich quick or even get rich by pursuing a career online. Just a project or an idea that would give me some boundaries and help me grow as a writer – and put a little extra in my bank account at the same time. I didn’t find much. But I did find this bit of treasure and I thought I would share it. It’s from Seth Godin’s blog.

How to make money online

  1. The first step is to stop Googling things like, “how to make money online.” Not because you shouldn’t want to make money online, but because the stuff you’re going to find by doing that is going to help you lose money online. Sort of like asking a casino owner how to make money in Vegas…

  2. Don’t pay anyone for simple and proven instructions on how to achieve this goal. In particular, don’t pay anyone to teach you how to write or sell manuals or ebooks about how to make money online.

  3. Get rich slow.

  4. Focus on the scarce resource online: attention. If you try to invent a way to take cheap attention and turn it into cash, you will fail. The attention you want isn’t cheap, it’s difficult to get via SEO and it rarely scales. Instead, figure out how to earn expensive attention.

  5. In addition to attention, focus on trust. Trust is even more scarce than attention.

  6. Don’t worry so much about the ‘online’ part. Instead, figure out how to create value. The online part will take care of itself.

  7. Don’t quit your day job. Start evenings and weekends and figure it out with small failures.

  8. Build a public reputation. A good one, and be sure that you deserve it, and that it will hold up to scrutiny.

  9. Obsessively specialize. No niche is too small if it’s yours.

  10. Connect the disconnected.

  11. Lead.

  12. Build an online legacy that increases in value daily.

  13. Make money offline. If you can figure out how to create value face to face, it’s a lot easier to figure out how to do the same digitally. The web isn’t magic, it’s merely efficient.

  14. Become the best in the world at something that people value. Easier said than done, worth more than you might think.

  15. Hang out with people who aren’t looking for shortcuts. Learn from them.

  16. Fail. Fail often and fail cheaply. This is the very best gift the web has given to people who want to bootstrap their way into a new business.

  17. Make money in the small and then relentlessly scale.

  18. Don’t chase yesterday’s online fad.

  19. Think big, act with intention and don’t get bogged down in personalities. If it’s not on your agenda, why are you wasting time on it?

  20. Learn. Ceaselessly. Learn to code, to write persuasively, to understand new technologies, to bring out the best in your team, to find underused resources and to spot patterns.

  21. This is not a zero sum game. The more you add to your community, the bigger your piece gets.

To read the full article, go here.

It reminded me that I don’t need the extra pocket change as much as I desire to add beauty and light to the world. It’s not about the money. It’s about the big picture and how I can share the strange sunshine I carry with me wherever I go. It’s about who I’ve always wanted to be and deciding that it’s not too late to be that person…and maybe make a living while I do it.

It’s not too late to “make it” as a writer (whatever that may look like). It’s not too late so I must keep writing. Keep searching. Keep my eyes open and my soul free to find just what I want to share with the world. It’s the reason I’m on my quest for simplicity. It’s the reason I get rid of my stuff and focus on minimalism. Simplify. Minimize. For what? To find the beauty that waits inside me.

That’s what I offer you today, dear reader. Don’t give up. Whatever your dream. Whatever your “calling”. Don’t give up on it. And stop Googling “how to make money online”. 😉

Cheers to you and your dreams!