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Striving Towards A Simple Life – Just a Bit Further

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Is it even possible?

Is it possible to live a simple life, given the velocity that life careens through the cosmos these days? A life that gives you room to breathe and ultimately to live life on your own terms. Not necessarily life as the result of ditching everything and living off-grid in a self-hewed cabin in the wilderness of northern Ontario, but a life regardless of where you are, that in all intense purposes is simple.”

How many of us are desperately seeking this kind of quiet change? A major hurdle to overcoming this pilgrimage of living “simple” is the concept of “living simpler”. Sadly, this is pretty much polar opposite to the world as we know it.

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This comes as no huge shock, but we live a crazy, and insanely busy time.

What defies logic is; although we bemoan and complain about how insane it all is, when we flip the coin over we find ourselves glorifying busy and all the insaneness.

We extoll with our friends and colleagues on how many hours we can work. All of which goes hand in hand with how little sleep we need to work all those hours. At the expense of friends, family and relationships in general, we glue our noses to computer screens or our smartphones, using each precious second we can find. We become addicted to the “likes” and “comments” hoping they will inject a level of validation into what can be a somewhat superficial and sad commentary of our affairs.

Like sitting around a poker table, we raise the stakes higher and higher. We take on more commitments. Our jobs demand more and more of us, to produce greater outputs, meaning longer hours and even more commitments. We are driven to do more and, yes, buy more. Many people abuse themselves with drugs and/or alcohol in an out of control attempt to get distracted from the insaneness until they are anesthetized into dreamland and stressed beyond human comprehension.

Okay, that might be a stretch for some, but it certainly is the reality for many. But, granted it is tough.

Many of us were raised in environments where achievements and the pursuit of wanting more is hard-wired into our DNA. So, there is never enough and there is always more to be had. We push more and more to get further ahead. To be better than last year, striving for a better and more prestigious title at work. And always lurking out there somewhere, like a northern pike circling the shallow water for his next meal, is the lure of more money. We believe “money” to be the answer to all our troubles and strife. Believing that more money will buy us the peace, happiness and a simpler life we have so longed for.

What might happen though, if we decided to take a bit of side-step?

To strategically work on leaving the craziness and insaneness behind, and to go for a life that was much simpler in its complexity?

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Is it even possible?

Let’s make the assumption that it is. If so, what might a less simple existence even look like?

Again, I’m not suggesting or promoting heading off to a northern Ontario wood-lot deep in the boreal forests anywhere north of Manitouwadge and hand whacking a tiny cabin together with nothing more than an axe, grit and determination. Although, if that’s what you think it takes, more power to you!

Like I do, most of us live in the real world and we have real-world commitments. It is those commitments that require us to live in the real world. The reality we see each day when we open the front door.

How can we be in this world (the crazy and insanely hectic one), but move towards living simpler? How to get out of the “race” and to step away from the busyness, whether self-imposed or not. How can I/we slow things down, while fulfilling our purpose, doing great work and living a wonderful life?

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Breathing

Creating and living a much simpler life is all about breathing.

Establishing space through cutting or scaling back gives you space to breathe.

Doing more and having more doesn’t lead to happiness and fulfillment. In fact, the opposite is true. It’s about finding joy in the simple things, and being content with solitude, quiet, contemplation and savoring the moment.

A few things to keep in mind though.

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We Are Our Own Worst Enemy

All of the stress, the irritations, the dissatisfaction, and disappointments; all the craziness and rushing around; we created all of it. So, whether you like it or not, we are our own worst enemy. Every one of those things we created in our own minds. We made those decisions and we created these with attachments in our heads. By letting go, we can relax and live more simply.

Clutter and Complexity

Get rid of stuff.”

When we can get rid of “stuff” and become less attached, a couple of things can happen. If you sell some of the “tangible stuff”, you’ll have a bit of cash in your hand and most significantly, getting rid of clutter can result in these benefits:

  • sense of confidence – I have only X amount of space, so I need to be bold with what goes and what stays
  • more energy – relates to the first point. Puts you in the get things done mode
  • reduces anxiety – most of us prefer order as compared to chaos. Decluttering creates order and order reduces anxiety
  • creates more time – not overwhelmed now with the time that WAS needed to clean and tidy. Creates time for other things or to do nothingWhen we can do something like getting rid of the clutter around us, our lives start to become simpler.

Social Media

Might as well blurt it out there – “social media is the scourge of today. Okay, it might not be “the scourge of today,” but it rates right up there.

There is no getting around it, we are addicted to those little electronic devices. Our phone, Ipads, computers and all that they deliver – we can never get enough. We check our FB feeds to see how many likes did that post get. We upload a picture of our dinner on Instagram and then head over and update our life on Twitter. Each time we “just check for a second,” a wee tiny blast of dopamine let’s loose in our brains and we become more and more addicted.

For too many of us, it’s insanely hard to stop.

In search of making our lives simpler, cutting back on social media time is an excellent element in our quest. In checking to see who’s doing what and who said what, we waste time and energy. Sadly, we get stuck in a trap of comparing ourselves with “influencers” and others on social media, which over time can erode our confidence and takes away the power we have within us as individuals.

Less screen time equates to more breathing time and space.

A Few Simple Things

How many feel that their lives and activities need to be complex. In that, complex equates to better. Often, that includes a cycle of “more complex and better” as time moves along. Yesterday’s complex and better doesn’t cut it today.

Striving towards a life that is simpler means looking inside of us, deep inside of us to discover those simple joys and activities in life.

For me, those include writing/blogging, reading and discovering new things; as well as the outdoors; including hiking and walking. Most importantly, spending time with Lynn, while she captures all of this with her photography skills and passion.

When we downsized our home after our daughter left for college, we gave more stuff away than I can remember. And when I say downsize I mean downsize… to a 700 square foot two bedroom home.

When our lives become focused on the simple things you love doing, life suddenly becomes simpler.

Less clutter; less stuff; less worry.

“No” Is Not A Bad Word

Most of us are not very clear about what we want. How many of us see a post on social media of something really neat or exciting and we become obsessed about doing whatever that was. Next thing you know, we find ourselves heading in a new and totally different direction.

When someone invites us out, we instantly say, yes. Why? Because we’re “yes people” or “people pleasers.” We simply cannot say no.

Because we can never say no, our lives and schedules get stretched to the breaking point. There’s never enough time left for the things that are most important to us.

No is not a bad word.

What if we worked really hard on those things in our existence that held the most and dearest value to us? Saying, “yes” to those things and “no” to the other stuff. If we knew what we wanted to create and the direction we want our lives to head in, we could say yes to these things, and no to everything else.

Saying no to more things would simplify our lives. No is not a bad word!

Do Nothing – Practice It Until You Get REAL GOOD at it.

Have you ever just sat back and did nothing for a day? Just hung loose and did NOTHING. No need to feel that the day had been wasted if something had not been accomplished.

We all need idle time. Time built in to sit and watch the clouds drift by on a warm summer’s afternoon. A time that is free to do nothing.

Many people feel the need to have every waking moment filled with activities and the need to accomplish so much, each and every day. The reality is we need that down time to rejuvenate ourselves…..to meditate; to think; to reflect.

Why?

Having that time to do nothing and just “be you” helps to foster and create contentment with life.

Get In Alignment

When working towards achieving a simpler life, at some point along the way it will become clear to you which things in your life are no longer in alignment with your values.

Part of living more simply will help you identify those unnecessary aspects of your daily life. It might be less FB and social media time, or it might be areas in your life that need significant review and thought. This could be your job; friendships; where you live; belongings (getting rid of things) or anything else that just doesn’t line up with your simpler existence.

So, is it even possible?

Yes, it is possible and like much of life, it comes down to a decision. We are the only ones who can decide if we want our lives to be less hectic and more simple in existence.

It doesn’t mean packing up and living in a tiny cabin out in the hinterlands cut off from everything. It’s about making priorities; figuring out what we want our lives to look like and then acting on those things to accomplish it.

Something tells me that as time marches on, life will become more and more complex, with greater demands on our time. Perhaps now is your moment to re-evaluate where you are… where you’re headed. To start now and simplify your life to create something that gives you room to breathe and room to live!

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To quote Yvon Chouinard, an early rock climbing pioneer and founder of the outdoor equipment and clothing company Patagonia and environmental activist.

Thanks for reading and stopping by.

How To: Be Resilient Against Your Chronic Society Anxiety – Ariette Hung

About the Guest Author:  
This article is written for The Unsanity Blog by Canadian blogger, Ariette Hung. She is currently working towards a Master’s Degree in Clinical Counseling. She cares deeply about mental health literacy, promoting resilience and growth, and instilling hope in others in times of adversity such as mental health struggles. When she isn’t studying, you can find her at her blog, ariettehung.com, where she blogs about saving money, side hustle ideas, entrepreneurship, and how to run a profitable blog.
Social links: Pinterest | Twitter | Instagram

According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA), the defining feature of social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, is intense anxiety or fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social or performance situation.

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In today’s post, I will be outlining some clinical insight on managing, reversing, and becoming resilient to your socially anxious thoughts, behaviors, and tendencies.

Practice mindfulness meditation and practice breathing techniques.

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When you’re anxious, you might feel physical changes in your body that make you feel pain or discomfort — it can manifest in shortness of breath, heart palpitations, sweaty palms, feverish feelings, tension, dizziness, nausea, or in the sensation of suffocation.

Managing your anxiety through meditation and breathing techniques can be very grounding and can assist you in adjusting misaligned and irrational thoughts to positive, and rational schemas. With proper therapeutic breathing techniques and meditation, you can soothe your nervous system and calm your heart rate.

My Calm-Down-Anxiety-Breathing Technique

  1. Sit up straight and relax your shoulders.
  2. Try to release any tension in your body.
  3. Place your hand above your diaphram (belly) and your heart.
  4. Breathe in slowly for four full seconds. Exhale slowly over 6 seconds.

Slowing your breathing can help you relax and regain your sense of equillibrium.

Resources to help: Headspace, Yoga with Adriene, The Mindful Kind podcast

Try exercises that reduce your anxiety.

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Exercise is closely linked to mental health, because your mind feels better and more “awake” when your body is moving. This is because your body produces endorphins when you exercise, which gives your mood a boost, almost like a natural “high”.

Hate traditional working out or the idea of going to a gym? Try these: Swimming, dance class, yoga, rowing, hiking, going for a walk, running, spinning, biking, skiing, skating

If you incorporate physical exercise into your routine on a regular basis, you will feel much better!

Prepare accordingly for socially anxious situations.

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Give yourself a pep talk and remind yourself that it’s going to be okay. If you know that large crowds overwhelm you, ask a buddy to stick by your side throughout the night.

Truth is, no one is going to pay as much attention to you as you think they will. And I know, your brain tells you otherwise and you feel panicked. Your feelings are valid.

But, your perception of reality might be warped. In order to assist you, have a friend “coach” you through socially difficult situations (whether it’s talking to your crush, talking to your professor, standing up to your parents, or asking for a raise at work), and if you see a counselor for your anxiety, I recommend working on your anxiety with him/her.

Implement self-compassion practices.

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Journal about good days. Forgive yourself for bad days.

Challenge negative thoughts with the talk-back technique. writing

The purpose of this exercise is to identify the ugly, inner critic inside your head, and challenge those negative notions with a rational and positive voice.

Write down all the negative thoughts you have about yourself. Unleash your inner critic.

Your list can look like…

  1. You can’t do anything right.
  2. You are a failure.
  3. You are never going to make it.

Now, think about it, are these facts really true? Embody the most rational voice you have (maybe impersonate the most practical, logical person you know) and talk back.

Your talk-back statements may look like…

  1. You may not have succeeded at everything you’ve tried, but you’ve at least tried and you’re improving every time that you do it. That’s still a win.
  2. You are not a failure. Failure is something that can happen to you but it is not something you are. So, you can fail, and maybe you have, but it doesn’t define you. If anything, again, it means that you tried and that deserves credit.
  3. You may not be where you want to be right now, but you will be if you continue to work at it. After all, anyone who has ever “made it” in life has hustled for it.

Point is, the rational voice is right. It is not there to sugarcoat anything or baby you. But it is there to put things into proper perspective so you can see yourself and your problems with a realistic lens. Using this technique, you take control of your schemas.

To whoever is reading this article today,

I hope that this blog post and its suggestions are helpful to you.

I understand that anxiety looks different for everyone as we are all individual, unique people so please consult a professional consultant as needed. These are suggestions and practices that I have developed to aid me through my own anxiety over the years (it’s considerably managed), and have studied in school as an aspiring psychotherapist.

I may not know you and you may not know me, but know that I am rooting for you.

With love and light,

Ariette

 

 

#FreebieFriday – Planner Pages

Good morning Unsanity readers!

It’s another #FreebieFriday for you finally. I’ve been out of the loop writing here myself (currently featuring a whole BUNCH of guest bloggers instead!) and wanted to share something for your Freebie today.

Click the link below to download your 4 different color scheme daily planner pages! You can also find this here on my page if you lose this post amongst the others.

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You Can’t Stress – Sarah D’Anne

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I’m Sarah D’Anne, a writer of books and blog posts. When I’m not working in the deli at my local convenient store, I’m at home with my six cats and my mother. Besides writing, I like to doodle, do photography, and daydream.
Blog: www.unexploredboundaries.wordpress.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/sarahdanne
IG: www.instagram.com/highlyfaveured
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/aceyroch

“You can’t stress.” These were the words my mother said to me after her encounter with bowel blockage, shingles, and a seizure. They came after her mother passed away. My mother carried a lot on herself, including anger and resentment.

The word “can’t” in this sentence doesn’t imply “not allowed.” It implies that I am “not able to.”

So, what is someone who is not able to stress, doing writing a post about mental health? Well, that’s the question of the day, isn’t it?

I’m here to tell you what it feels like to not be able to stress.

I bet you’re thinking, “It would be so wonderful to not be able to stress. I can actually go on with my life, not caring about anything. I can let things slide right off of me, and let things happen the way that they are supposed to.”

You know what? You’re right. That’s exactly how I feel.

Do you know how hard that is, though? Watching people struggle, stress, be anxious and depressed? It’s not easy.

“It’s so hard to make ends meet. I’m broke before I even get paid,” a coworker might say to me. I stand there, motionless, trying not to blurt out the thoughts that run through my head. “Well, stop spending fifty dollars a week to get your nails done,” I think. But I slowly nod, speak a soft, “Hm,” and walk away.

Does this mean that I can’t relate to people? No. I can, actually. Growing up with a mother who deals with depression and stress, has allowed me to understand what goes through peoples’ minds when they are in these mental states. My mother is very open about how she feels and what she’s thinking. She always has been, even now. So when those that are around me, express these thoughts and feelings, I am able to understand that they feel a certain way, but I am not able to relate with the feeling itself. Which may make me seem cold and unsympathetic. I can come off like that, of course. In fact, I hardly ever have sympathy for anyone. Empathy, sure, but rarely sympathy.

So, what’s my secret for a no stress life? Do I meditate? Exercise? Stay away from any and all stressful situations? The answer is simply, no. Instead of meditating, I close my eyes and take a deep breath and let it out in a long, loud, forceful sigh, so that everyone around me knows exactly how I feel. I do listen to music, but it’s not soft. At all. In fact, it’s mostly heavy rock. I also don’t exercise. I do quite a bit of physical labor at my job, but on my off days, my butt is in my chair.

Do I lack the stress gene 5HTR2C? Are my chemical levels constantly balanced? Do I have the long long genotype called 5-HTTLPR?

Let’s face it, no one really knows what genes they have, do they?  In fact, stress can actually change your genes.

To be honest, I don’t know why I can’t stress. Maybe because I grew up watching a mother stress over everything, every day of my life. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to. Maybe it’s because I walk into every situation I am faced with, with this in mind: if I stress, I am of no help. I won’t have a clear mind to make the right decisions, or say the right things. If I stress, I can’t help. If I can’t help, what good am I?

At the end of the day, all I know is I don’t have a worry bone in my body. Do I get sad? Yes, at least I still get sad. Do I wonder about the future? Of course, who doesn’t? But I don’t necessarily worry about anything.

The beautiful part about this is, people still confide in me. People still tell me about their worries and fears and struggles. Even though I have a difficult time relating to the physical feelings, and the thoughts, I still listen and learn. I am self aware to the point that I am able to put aside my cold, unsympathetic aura, and replace it with an empathetic one.

For those of you who are prone to stress, depression, anxiety, and others, please be patient with us non-worrying types. If we could worry about how we come off to people, we would. And please don’t think that if someone doesn’t worry, that they don’t understand. Because I do.

My mother almost died because of stress. She had a seizure because of stress. Every time she feels under the weather, she gets depressed. She was very angry when I was little and would cry to me almost every night and tell me how she was feeling. They say that one out of three people will get shingles in their lifetime. Mom has had it more than once. Mom had to have open heart surgery because, when she got so sick from stress that she weighed ninety pounds, her heart grew weak and she developed a prolapsed heart valve.

To those of you who endure the pain, I see you. I feel you. I will cry with you. I don’t care if I don’t understand what you’re feeling, but what you feel is real. That’s what I understand, and to me, that’s all that matters.

Your feelings matter.

YOU MATTER.

7 AMAZING WAYS TO BEAT DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY – Keep It Simple

Hello everyone, you know the deal by now – here is my next guest blogger as promised. I do hope you are enjoying these as much as everyone who is submitting posts for me seems to be having! Our next one comes from Sharleen Fenn and you can check out her blog here.

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Keep It Simple

Launched in 2018 as a resource for discovering a simpler (more country) way of doing things. An expat Kiwi living in the SF Bay Area, growing vegetables in the back yard, finding local resources and ways to eat healthy(er), a passion for all things camping and outdoors. A love of made from scratch meals, diy, and card making, and overcoming challenges in day-to-day life. Sign up, join in, collaborate… Keep it simple!

7 AMAZING WAYS TO BEAT DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY

Depression and anxiety are roadblocks to engagement in life. Everything is overwhelming, and often the sheer will to live recedes. Every single aspect of your life is impacted. There are several strategies to counteract the effects of depression and anxiety. Understanding your diagnosis, the medications you are on, where to find support, and how to incorporate coping skills into your daily routine puts control firmly back in your hands. You can bring your life back into focus.

ACCEPTANCE

You feel as if you have lost control over your life. You feel like things are happening to you, instead of because of you. Not being able to fully engage in daily tasks, or take care of your responsibilities, contributes to the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. The roller coaster of depression and anxiety is exhausting. Give yourself permission to accept each day, hour, moment, or second as being exactly the way it is supposed to be. Accept that developing coping skills is going to take time.

STAY IN THE MOMENT

Stop trying to predict the future or ruminate on the past. Focus on the now. Ask yourself what you need for this moment. What will make you feel better? Focus on what you CAN do and not on what you can’t do. Start with small tasks that give you a sense of accomplishment. Stop beating yourself up for not meeting the expectations of your well self. Each day is a new day, stop worrying about things that you cannot control.

CHEMISTRY GONE AWRY

Body chemistry changes over time. It can be episodic or longer term. If your body is not producing or absorbing certain neuro transmitter chemicals, symptoms can emerge. When chemistry changes enough, medication may be necessary. After a diagnosis, ask questions, do research, and keep an open mind. If medication is necessary, give it the prescribed time interval to work. Let your doctor know if you have any symptoms that you cannot live with. Keep trying; there will be a solution for you.

SUPPORT SYSTEM

Build a support system. Talk to other people who suffer from the same ailment. Hearing how they cope will boost your spirits. Identify someone who has what you want, has a great attitude, has a great story to share, and buddy up with them. Share your hopes and fears. Let the support system be your sounding board and sanity check. These people will hold you up when you cannot quite get there. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Others started right where you are.

POOR ME

Stop feeling sorry for yourself. You are better than that. Continue to act wounded and people will begin to treat you differently, not in a good way. You matter. You are a bright, wonderful, contributing human being who suffers from a condition that makes it difficult to get through the day. Stop acting how you feel, and start acting how you WANT to feel. After a while, your positive attitude will shine.

CHANGE HABITS

Living on junk food and reruns on Netflix is not a solution. Sunshine, fresh air, exercise…you need it. You have to keep moving. Your body needs certain vitamins and minerals to be well. Sunshine has vitamin D, which helps with calcium absorption, contributing to bone health. Minimize foods full of sugar, salt, additives, colorants, and preservatives. Incorporate more plant based foods into your diet. If you are not sleeping or sleeping too much, take action.

SELF CARE

You need to take care of you. What are your favorite things? Pamper yourself. Meditate, listen to encouraging, uplifting podcasts, or watch TED talks. Shower, brush your hair and change your clothes. Continue to do the things you love. Instead of attempting a big project, break it down into small tasks, and tackle one of those. Personal accomplishment is encouraging.

THINK POSITIVE THOUGHTS

Did you know that the way you think, affects the way you feel, which affects the way you act? That is part of CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). Practice thinking positive outcomes. Think solutions, not problems. Think empathy, not anger. Think success, not failure. Don’t fall down the rabbit hole. Be aware that negative self-talk is defeating. Be the winner you are.

DON’T BE DISCOURAGED

Bottom line is you have a mental health condition that is treatable. Be patient. It takes time to learn new coping skills. Accepting your condition, your capabilities, staying in the now, taking care of yourself, developing a support system, and changing a few habits will have you on the mend. If you don’t take action, nothing will change. Take charge now. YOU are so worth it.

Note:All opinions expressed in this article are personal opinions of the author. This does not denote professional advice.

National (US) Helplines and mental health resources:

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Bullet Journaling

So awhile back in probably February, after I got a little more comfortable with working in the PNW and my commute to work, I started a bullet journal for my tasks. I use this for both home and work tasks and split it up as evenly as I can.

In here, you’ll see some photos of my original ones, to the middle to now, and to see my progress. (Some items are blurred out due solely for the fact that it’s me venting about BS.) I’ve brought my layout around full circle focusing on the minimal vs expanding it all, and now for July, I’m focusing more on design and flow as well as minimal content. I don’t think the days need to take up one page, but I’m also not sure how I feel that the entire week is only on two pages, with notes and goals. I think maybe 2 days per page and notes for each day or something similar to that. I don’t really use it on the weekends much, it’s more for mapping out the things that need to get done that weekend to keep track. It’s easier since I split up Saturday and Sunday into smaller areas for July, so it makes is neater but I just don’t know how I feel about it just yet until I start using it. Then I’ll know for August and moving forward.

It’s always fun to play around with new layouts each month. When you find things that work or don’t work, that’s always an exciting time. For example: my habit tracker and mood tracker for June that I made. It’s combined into one page this time and I actually used Washi tape for the cupcakes to color in for the moods. It works and it’s pretty creative if I do say so myself. Michaels has TONS of Washi tape now at 3/$1 in the everyday pricing. I must have bought about … 75 already from them. Shhhhh. No one needs to know … Haha.

As I steadily continue my spread over the month, the first week is gone and done already and you can see my updates below as well. Not much went on and not much will go on until the end of the month and August. I also don’t plan on bringing it with me when I go to San Fransisco for work in August so that will be a little bare sadly. It’s not a necessity for then and I’ll be at a conference anyway. #ihateflying

FYI, I’ve started this blog back in July because I thought I’d be posting it sooner, turns out I wasn’t. I’m back from San Fran now and can show you what I’ve done for August! I’m excited. It’s a simple smooth layout that I came up with to keep everything plain and to the point.

The photos are a bit out of order but it’s okay, I’m sure you get the idea of them!

Hope you enjoyed them, and sorry for not catching up with blogging recently. I’ve been overwhelmed with other life things (another blog coming soon) and living out here in the PNW.

Much love,

Koral