A Nerd's Guide to Trauma

A man raped me 4 years ago. I approached trauma like a science experiment. My hypothesis: I can heal myself if I study hard enough. My goal was to spend the least amount of time and money for the most efficient result. Books were a great free option, and I rented tons from my New York Public Library. I read “Healing Trauma”, “Girls and Sex”, “The Body Keeps Score”, “Furiously Happy”, “The Gift of Fear”, “Eat. Pray. Love”, “Pussy”, “Slow Sex”, an array of Thich Nhat Hanh, Brene Brown, Tara Brach, Jack Kornfield and more. I took an online Australian Cognitive Behavior Therapy course called MoodGym. I went to a crystal healer in Bali. I did the Landmark Forum, a transformational education course. I tried art therapy, Gestalt therapy, psychotherapy, CBT therapy, Mindfulness Based Therapy, and movement therapy. I discovered the Alexander Technique.  I became a vegetarian. I danced 5Rhythms, salsa, and bachata. I stopped shopping for 30 days. I started swimming and rock climbing. I got my tarot cards read. I went to the south of France to meditate for 2 weeks at the monastery Thich Nhat Hanh started. I became Reiki Level 1 certified. I got rid of 80% of my wardrobe and wear 33 items every season. I live a Zero Waste lifestyle. I left New York and am currently traveling the world as a digital nomad.

My experiment was intense. My friends, family, and partners were incredibly supportive along the way. Through the highs and lows, they surprised me with scavenger hunts, brought me Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, built pillow forts for the winter, helped me become stronger at rock climbing, and ate copious amounts of Thai food.  They made those 4 years filled with so much vibrancy, even when I wanted it to be dull. At times, I wanted to study alone. To push everyone out and quarantine myself in depression. These wonderful humans wouldn’t stand for that, and stood by my side in the journey. I am forever grateful for their continued love in my life.

I valued transparency. I shared with new and old friends what had happened and where I was at in my experiment. There were always new updates. I am a very focused student. I was not only a student of healing, but a co-founder of an after school program for kids to learn how to code and foster critical thinking skills. We grew from 6 kids a week to 500 kids per week. I started an all girls coding program within it, which became a great success. My co-founders supported my science experiment and allowed me to have a flexible schedule. I was able to balance work and prioritize my mental health. I could leave work to take 1pm therapy sessions and 5pm sexual assault support groups. I could take Friday off when I did Landmark. I worked remotely for 3 weeks and traveled to Thailand with my boyfriend of the time. I talked to my coworkers about what I was learning and felt love and support.

I consider my experiment a success. My mixture of methodologies and approximately 4 years time have resulted in living a life free from my rape. My main gripe is that through all this research, I did not find a single book or course that spoke specifically to me. The books I read were titled with words like “healing,” “trauma,” “surviving,” and “overcoming.” If they were more playful and spoke about how I was in control of my story, they didn’t speak about rape. I wanted a course that would tell me I could live a powerful life, regardless of having rape in my past. That this didn’t make me a victim or a survivor. I wanted a course that would tell me my life was just getting started. That my future could be free from my past trauma and that one night wouldn’t haunt me for the rest of my life. But I couldn’t find that course. So I created it.

It’s called A Nerd’s Guide to Trauma. This course is for for my fellow nerds, researchers, and experimenters. Hopefully this can cut down on your experiment time.

I am going to tell you some things that you haven’t read in other books or courses. They might shock you or feel like an attack to your identity as a woman who has been raped or experienced trauma, but they are going to change the way you think about these experiences for the rest of your life. This is not a course on healing. I believe you already are in a state of wellbeing, you just need to rediscover it.

For the first 2 years after a man raped me, I thought it was the worst thing that could ever happen to me. That it would destroy my life forever. That rape breaks women down. That 1 in 4 women are victims. Today, I don’t believe that being raped is life-changing. I don’t condone rape. I am committed to preventing rape from occurring and believe that modeling healthy masculinity is a great place to start shifting that for future generations. That the #MeToo movement is breaking the stigma. But I don’t believe that because you were raped your life has to take a downward spiral in which you need to recover. In fact, I think the opposite is possible. I think that starting today, you can decide that your life is going to be badass. That you can live a life free from your rape and encourage every woman around you to do the same. This course is going to show you what it is like to be anti-fragile. To be someone who become stronger when they are attacked. You have the choice on what your life looks like. The man who raped you does not.

In this course, I will be speaking from my experience. I am not saying that everything I have done will work perfectly for your world, but these strategies, frameworks, and techniques have allowed me to feel a sense of freedom, purpose, and security in my daily life.

For this course I am going to speaking mainly to the female voice and primarily about my experience with rape. However, the concepts written in here are universal and inclusive. A lot of the content applies to much more than rape. If you have encountered childhood abuse, sexual harassment, or any sort of physical or mental trauma in your lifetime, there is plenty which I hope will resonate for you in here. If you have friends who have experienced these things, this course will coach you on how to empathize, understand and support your friends. If none of those things are true and you somehow still ended up in it, that’s great as well! Feel free to sub out the word rape with work, or relationship, or whatever you want to put in your past. The techniques are universal and can help you become a master creative alchemist out of any situation that is weighing you down.

It was not in your control that you were raped. It happened and it is not your fault. It is in your control if you decide to be a victim for the rest of your life. That doesn’t have to happen. Through years of practice, I learned how to not live as a victim. My goal is to save you those years, so you can get started today. I have been able to put my rape in the past, and create a future I love. I hope with all my heart this course helps you do the same. I love you.

To get notified when the course is launching, fill out the form below:

Zero Waste Nomad

I thought a lot had changed when I wrote my last post. But I had no idea what was about to unfold in the month after I wrote it. My plans have shifted pretty dramatically since then. I don’t want to go into detail here, but Ethan and I’s trip got cancelled. We are no longer in a romantic relationship, but we are still best friends. This is extremely difficult, but I am beyond grateful for the time we shared as partners over the past 2 years. We have both grown in ways we could not have imagined. I also am seeing how much our stigma our society puts on what a breakup is supposed to look like. The day we broke up, I told Ethan I wanted it to be the first day of a new chapter in our relationship called Friendship. We spent the whole day reflecting on how much love we have for each other, favorite memories during our relationship, eating delicious food, and expressing gratitude for having met one another. As I travel, I miss him in so many ways, especially in the places that I expected to be with him in. When I get really sad, I try to not push away these feelings, but instead accept and acknowledge them. Then I let them go and decide what I want to create for myself today. I also found grounding techniques extremely helpful when I was saying goodbye to him and the flight out. It’s so simple, but noticing and naming the colors and shapes of objects in the room helped bring me back to the present moment.

In this present moment, I’m spending 2 weeks in Lisbon, then 1 week in Malta, then 2 weeks at Plum Village (a monastery Thich Nhat Hanh started in France). I’m flying back to NY for my best friend Abi’s annual murder mystery party and Halloween. Because I love Halloween. And my main intention right now is listen to my intuition, slow down, and do things I love each day. I don’t have any plans after October 28. I am thinking about going to Chiang Mai and taking a Dressmaking course for 3 months. My main focus is on learning about sustainability and design thinking.

In an immersive effort to do that, I just got back from a retreat on a farm called CoProject, a brain spa for creative optimists. I took a Circular Economy workshop for 3 days and it blew my mind.


The farm was entirely Zero Waste and all the food we ate was grown 5 feet away from the dining table. One of the activities was a cooking challenge, where I learned how to make fresh pasta. It turned out amaazing.


I am still processing everything I learned, but my biggest takeaway is that I’m going to pick back up with my Zero Waste philosophy while I travel. I started 2 days ago, and it feels so good. I did research on local bulk shops, farmers markets, flea markets, and second hand stores. I already visited 3 different places and there is something so beautiful about seeing how and what other cultures eat. Grocery stores fascinate me. Today I found yogurt in a glass jar! I was beyond excited, because I have never seen this in America.

I’m looking forward to writing here more frequently and sharing about my new adventure as a Zero Waste Nomad.


I have been quite quiet here for a while now. But that doesn’t mean things have been quiet in my world. So much has been changing in my physical and mental world, that it’s been hard for me to take the time to reflect here. Some big changes that are occurring:

  • I’m leaving New York in September to travel with my partner Ethan. We have no plans, just a one way ticket to Budapest!

    • Since I’m leaving NY, that means I’m shifting away from my full time role with Coding Space. 

  • I went to Blue Cliff Monastery- a Buddhist monastery in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh.

  • I started swimming on Roosevelt Island 2-3 times a week. There’s this amazing pool there called Sportspark that has $5 day passes. It’s by far the cleanest pool I’ve swam at in NYC. I love swimming and have found this addition of aerobic to be incredibly helpful for my mental health.

  • I started a Sex and Intimacy course at Landmark. It’s been amazing and exactly what I wanted to examine how I’ve been showing up in my relationship.

    • My biggest takeaway so far has been that I’ve been seeing my life in two parts- before being raped and after being raped. Because of this, I had a clear view of the person I was before- fun, flirty, alive and adventurous. After- I am fragile, carrying trauma with me in every scenario, and struggling to heal constantly. I am letting go of this Before/After mental model that has been weighing me down for so long and deciding that I can show up each day as whoever I want to be. This has been so liberating and beautiful.

    • I have also been saying that my body has been carrying trauma. I read part of The Body Keeps Score, and really latched on to that idea. Because of this, I have been making my body wrong every single day. I am letting go of that idea, and embracing that my body is wonderful and filled with love.

With all these changes swirling around, I have found meditation so helpful. I am on a 31 day streak, which is the longest I’ve ever done. Being able to notice when I am feeling a certain way and not get attached that I will always feel this way is a gift. Things I’ve started doing daily to help with my practice:

  • Changed my phone background to a Thich Nhat Hanh quote that says “Smile, Breath.”

Screen Shot 2018-08-06 at 10.32.22 AM.png

  • Installed a Chrome Extension called Bell of Mindfulness that rings every 30 minutes. When it rings, I have to stop what I’m doing and breathe in and out three times. At Blue Cliff, they have a bell ringing every 15 minutes and whatever you’re doing you have to pause and breathe. This means you could be in the middle of a conversation with a group of people, and everyone will freeze. It is magical.
  • Use Insight Timer to meditate first thing when I wake up. If I’m feeling in a hurry, I will do it for just 2 minutes so I maintain the routine. I typically am meditating for 15-20 minutes these days.

I am planning to start writing more frequently and sharing photos along our travels. My intention is to slow down and be present as much as possible. I have no idea what this next chapter in my life is going to be titled, but I am excited to start writing it. 


April was a month of chaos for me. I left my second job, moved apartments to a new neighborhood, and got a concussion from falling outdoor rock climbing. Needless to say, I didn’t have much energy for writing.

I found myself overwhelmed with anxiety with the change and struggling with my mental health after the concussion. Fortunately, I’m feeling much better and my life is entering some more stability.

Things I did to pause from my anxiety

  • Finding a new therapist. I was having more negative than positive experiences with my previous therapist and stopped seeing her about 4 months ago. One thing that is so hard about finding a new therapist is when you need one the most, you have the least energy to do so. I just found a new one that practices CBT- cognitive behavior therapy and am excited to have researched a therapy that is more mission aligned with my values (I was previously seeing a psychotherapist).

  • Meditate first thing in the morning using Insight Timer.  I start my day using Insight Timer to meditate for 12-20 minutes. My favorite guided meditation is a Basic Vipassana with Tara Branch and anything by Sarah Blondin. They’re magic.

  • Doing Alexander Technique everyday, usually in the evening

  • Taking off one afternoon of work to relax, go to an art fair in Chelsea and walk around a new area of Manhattan with Ethan. We both have been so busy, I was feeling like we were squeezing in 1 hour blocks of time to see each other. Adventure and exploring is a core value in our relationship and I feel like we were unable to make time for it these past few weeks. This afternoon was rejuvenating and so peaceful.

  • Listen to an audiobook by Thich Nhat Hanh. Buddhist philosophy always helps calm my “monkey mind”

I have a new home that’s lovely and free time that I am deciding how to spend. I previously was working 10-15 hours a week on top of my full time job. With this new space and time, I am slowing down and listening to what I need each day. My favorite mantra from Sarah Blondin is putting my hands on my heart and my belly and saying to myself “I love you, I am listening.” Sometimes in the blur of life I lose track of myself. I forget about my priorities, what I want to focus my energy on, and how I want to live my life.

I am still moving slowly and not putting pressure on myself to do a challenge this month. I will continue to write and share about my minimalist + mental health journey, but each month may be less structured. I was finding myself feeling pressure from my own blog and realized that I create the rules here, so I can change them. A reminder that echoes into all areas of my life.

Zero Waste Month Recap

Zero Waste Month was a wonderful experiment in becoming aware of the materials that surround me. I decreased my waste to nearly nothing for an entire month. This means I prevented an estimated 129 pounds of trash from being put in landfill. As this month ends, I am filled with so many emotions and questions on how I want to live my life.

I reflected on how restricting Zero Waste is. The things I missed the most by the end of the month were Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, frozen fruits, (processed) almond milk with granola, fast-casual food, and delivery food. As I transition out of this challenge, my plan is to live a low waste life. I invested in a few products last month, which have reduced my waste for the rest of my life (mini bamboo spork, crystal deodorant, menstrual cup, reusable bag). For example, I got in the habit of always carrying my spork with me and now I will continue to do that so I never need to use plastic utensils again.

This month I transitioned from Zero Waste, but had a few major personal transitions. For the last two years, I had been working 2 jobs (1 full time, 1 part time). I gave my notice to quit the part time job almost two weeks ago. My apartment was connected to the role, so I then needed to find a new apartment quickly. Apartment hunting in NYC is quite a stressful experience, but luckily I’ve found a great new place in Long Island City, Queens that I’ll be moving into next weekend! I also am taking on a whole new world of responsibility at my full time role, which is extremely exciting and pushing me to learn & grow constantly.

I have decided to make April a month of Minimal Stress. This means each day I am going to meditate for at least 10 minutes + some type of physical activity. Zero Waste took a lot of energy, which I was overjoyed to expend. But I want this to be a month of self care and self love as the world around me is swirling with change.

Natural Response

I only have 10 days left in the challenge! This week felt pretty easy. I made the carrot ginger lentil soup again and have been feasting off that. I made pasta later last week as well. My favorite thing I made this week was a replica of a dish at The Smile, which is a baked egg dish. I fried 2 eggs and cooked them in tomato sauce with some thyme. Then I topped it with avocado and ate it with a slice of sourdough bread. Pure heaven. I usually pay $14 to eat that same dish, and this tasted just as great (if not better since I was so proud of myself for making it!).  

I feel very confident in my ability to cook tasty food and feed myself easily during this Zero Waste challenge. I never had this sense of security in my home or kitchen, so feels rewarding. Knowing that I have simple ingredients in my cabinet feels wonderful, and I just need to pick up 2 vegetables on Sundays to start my week.


I also made a mistake and ordered tea from a regular cup at Argo Tea. I never order coffee or tea and I totally blanked that I can't have the disposable coffee cup. Yay for learning! 

I switched to a natural deodorant this week as well.  I've always thought of natural products as for hippy-dippy people, but I now feel that I just want to live simply, and natural is the word for that. I'm testing a deodorant crystal and it's working great! I smell like nothing (even after rock climbing). It's not an anti-perspirant, so I still sweat, but honestly it feels kind of nice to let my body have this natural response. 


I have felt myself slipping further from calm quite a lot the past 2 weeks though. I want to be checking my phone or computer constantly, an impulse I was working quite hard to not indulge while I was in Asia. As a result, I decided next months challenge will be Less Stress. This means I will be meditating for 30 minutes each day, something I have never done. I’ve only meditated for 30 minutes about twice in my life, so I am really looking forward to this!


I’m officially halfway through the challenge! I like doing these weekly updates, they make running this a lot more manageable (and I have a lot to report each time)! So let’s go:

  • I made fresh almond milk

  • I got Johnny Rockets zero waste. I was having a tough day and really needed a peanut butter chocolate milkshake.

  • I made fresh squeezed orange juice to use up oranges that weren’t being eaten

  • I gave away a ton of non-perishable (including my trailmix I previously posted) + freezer food and feminine hygiene products on Craigslist that had been sitting in my cabinets. This was probably the biggest highlight of my week. I tried using this food sharing app called Olio that you post free food on and people can pick it up, but it's such a small user base that no one did. So I figured I could try Craigslist! I got a response from about 15 people in an hour. I gave it to a woman who said that she had just paid rent and they are broke for this week until her next paycheck. This was her response afterward:

Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 9.23.14 AM.png
  • I meal prepped for the week

  • I ate my trash bread that I put in the freezer and it was delicious! Update from Zaro's: I went back last night and asked if they would be throwing away anything tonight and the manager said they actually donate it to For Harvest which will give it to homeless people. I told him about his other location throwing away food last week and he said that he is going to speak with them and make sure it doesn't happen again!

  • I’ve been loving doing the dishes as a morning meditation practice. It makes me slow down and breathe.

This has been a really nice week. Zero Waste is getting easier and making me realize how simple it can be. A few small changes have made a dramatic difference. Carrying around my bamboo sport, handkerchiefs, 1 small produce bag, and a mason jar pretty much allow me to do whatever I want. I have also started to learn how to do things I would never imagined, like making my own almond milk! After I run out of this batch, I am going to try to go without almond milk until the rest of the month to see if I truly need it. I definitely plan to continue carrying these things after this month!

Quest Mindset

So I just returned from Fairway, the Union Square Farmer's Market, and EONS Greek Food. Here are all the delicious goodies I picked up. I think my grand total was around $45 (not pictured is $6 goat cheese and 1 pound of red lentils). I stocked up on chickpeas, lentils, and rice so that I won't need to go back next week for a refill. 

The biggest win of today was getting hummus, baba ganoush, and pita chips in bulk from EONS! And I got it all for $5.17.  They have the best smoky baba ganoush and I've been out of hummus for almost a week, so going through some chickpea withdrawal over here.


I also realized I can start sharing photos of my food on my desk rather than my kitchen because there is much better lighting. While laying these out, I realized that I want to just keep all my fresh produce on the desk because it looks so beautiful and colorful. I hadn't known what to put up there for a while, so I am very excited to start seeing my food as art.


Overall, this week I am feeling a lot more confident in my Zero Waste shopping capabilities. I switched to ziplock bags (that my mom brought me filled with nuts when she visited) instead of mason jars which made the process so much easier. That way I didn't need to fill a produce bag and then dump it into my mason jar precariously like I did last week. 

On my walk to the grocery store I was reflecting on how much my perception of grocery shopping has shifted since starting this experiment. I can't express to you how much I used to dread going to Trader Joes or Fairway because of my anxiety there. Now, I was looking forward to my grocery trip all week.

I realized that what I love so much about this year long challenge (and especially this month), is that it puts me in a Quest Mindset. I came up with this term earlier this week and it embodies the idea that I am always learning, questing for new information, and on the hunt for adventure. When I travel, I am in a Quest Mindset. When I learn a new language and am immersed in it (like when I studied in France), I am in a Quest Mindset. Now, I have a Quest Mindset while living in New York. 

Learning + Unlearning

I had a crazy week (in a fun way) so I haven’t made it a priority to blog. However, I’m very excited for this update post! It’s been 9 days since I’ve gone Zero Waste. Here are a list of things I’ve learned so far and experiences I had:

  • I went dumpster diving in the Plant District with my mom (a great sentence I never thought I would say). We scored free Eucalyptus before they kicked us out because the dumpster kept rolling.
  • I LOVE my mini bamboo spork. It’s so easy to carry in my fanny pack everywhere and comes in handy pretty much everyday.
  • Mason Jars > Tupperware. They never leak and can be used as a bowl on the go or take home container for leftovers. I went to a bodega with a hot bar and got some Pesto Pasta while running to an event. They were very confused, but made it work!
  • How to use an Instant Pot.
  • How to make the most delicious Red Lentil, Carrot, Ginger, Tumeric soup in 10 minutes.
  • Getting a free loaf of bread and delicious croissant from Zaro’s bakery after asking them if they had anything they were going to throw away. They had just filled 2 massive trash bags with fresh baked goods that they were going to throw away. I plan to go back this weekend or next week and speak to a manager to see if there is a way I can help them donate these.
  • I found goat’s milk greek yogurt in a glass jar!
  • I am working towards getting a community garden started in my building and applying for compost pickup.
  • It feels like I’m on a diet against my will and I have started craving foods! Because I am eating pretty much only healthy, whole foods, I find myself missing certain flavors, sugars, and processed foods (AKA: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups).
  • Handkerchiefs are way better than tissues. I’m the kind of person who has the sniffles even if I’m not sick, so using handkerchiefs are so much softer than normal tissues and I can just throw them in the wash or hand wash super easy.
  • I can freeze bread in a kitchen towel instead of a plastic bag

Here are some things I haven’t figured out yet that I’m struggling with

  • How to get Almond Milk. I said I was going to make Oat milk, but I just haven’t had the time. I just ran out of Almond milk yesterday and might go on a hunt today to buy some in a glass jar
  • What can be recycled? Can I just buy a normal Almond Milk container and recycle the carton? Or is that not Zero Waste…
  • How to have a regular composting schedule for my office. I missed this week's drop off time near my office and just took home the bin and will compost it at Union Square today or tomorrow.
  • How much groceries I should buy at once (this was a question I had before going Zero Waste too).

Something I have really enjoyed is the conversations that going Zero Waste has sparked each day. Whether it is a friend or stranger, I find that asking for a real plate instead of a plastic one or if I can get my receipt emailed immediately sparks a meaningful discussion. I am unlearning so much that I thought to be true. 

Present and Grateful

I went to the farmers market yesterday! I got 4 apples, a type of kale I’ve never seen before (that had much thinner stems), and eggs. Later, I went to a small health store that had a nice little bulk section in the back. I got red lentils, brown rice, hemp seeds and chia seeds all for $9.  They even have a machine that makes fresh peanut butter and almond butter instantly. I will be coming back very shortly to experiment with that!


In the evening, I played board games with my friends at the Google office. Snacking there was fun because they have a few bulk options (nuts, veggie chips, grapes, etc) in their micro-kitchen and they compost! It has been so much fun so far becoming incredibly aware of each piece of food or product I consume, the mindfulness that has been brought to each action makes me feel very present and grateful.  


Day 2 has gone swimmingly! Before 8:30am I steamed broccoli and sweet potatoes and meal prepped for this weekend. I made a hodgepodge of a lunch which included leftover quinoa and lentils mixed with sweet potatoes, a side of refried beans and a side of broccoli. It was shockingly good when I mixed the refried beans into the quinoa (because I still don’t really like quinoa). I also made a green smoothie with kale, frozen banana, leftover apple bits, ginger, and lemon.

Last night I soaked my newly purchased bulk beans in a bunch of water and tonight I cooked them with garlic (for 1.5 hours!). I also ordered an Instant Pot (used on ebay) because I’m realizing that cooking beans can’t consume 2 hours of my life and be sustainable. I also did some research and am prepping to make oat milk, which is different than my norm of almond milk but seems to be a lot more cost effective and higher in fiber and protein. I’m planning to to the 4th street Co-op tomorrow, but it’s currently very rainy, windy and snowy so I’m hoping the weather will clear up.


Key takeaways from today are that cooking can be simple and fun! I have always thought of cooking as needing a complex recipe and tons of ingredients. I realizing that deconstructing the recipe down to the whole, fresh foods can be super tasty and easy. I also cleaned out a bunch of unused snacks from my pantry and made this insane trail mix featuring popcorn, pumpkin seeds, the bits of tortilla chips that I usually throw away, chocolate chips, and broken up pretzels. It tastes amazing. I am very excited to have a space for creativity in the kitchen, a room that usually brought dread and fear to my life before this year!

March: Zero Waste Month

I feel like it’s my first day of school today! It was Day 1 of my Zero Waste Challenge and I have been looking forward to it for 2 months. After hours of research, crafting, and carefully shopping for supplies, I kicked off this month long adventure.

Today went great. It is exactly what I thought:  a challenge. I accidentally blew my nose in a tissue while teaching today (instead of in my handkerchief), which made me realize how much of a reflex that has become. I also fight the urge to use a paper towel in the bathroom every single time, even though I can easily wipe my hands off on my sweater or air dry. I feel like New York is suddenly a friendlier place. I talk to each human I interact with before rather than following the normal conveyer belt style shopping experience. 

I brought in extra ceramic plates, utensils, and bowls to my office to share with my coworkers and bought an extra composting bin for my work that I will keep up with. It already is getting plenty of love (aka trash)!


I went grocery shopping and got all the delicious food pictured above for $21 at Fairway. I am currently soaking 1 cup of beans (something I’ve never cooked from scratch), which I plan to make tomorrow. I’ll be heading to the farmers market and food co-op this weekend to get some more fresh goodies!

It feels so simple. I feel like with the less waste I produce, the lighter I feel. 1 year ago, I used to have major anxiety any time I went to a grocery store. It was a trigger for me to be in crowded spaces, so I would try to rush through the store as fast as possible wanting to escape the claustrophobia. Fast forward to the present moment and I've been looking forward to grocery shopping all week. I went slowly, examined each item I put in my bag, had a carefully thought out shopping list, and left with a smile.

Zero Waste Prep

I have also begun preparing for my Zero Waste Month and am getting very excited. I think I might start a fundraiser to raise awareness and donate funds along the way. Potentially donating menstrual cups to local women shelters. I am sewing my own produce bags today from old fabric I used for my handbag business in college. I am also going to a Package Free store in Williamsburg to get a compostable sponge. Here has been my prep list:

  • Compost bucket

  • Reusable shopping bag

  • Bamboo mini Spork

  • Handkerchief (aka cut up a piece of fabric)

  • Airtight stainless steel lunchbox (to carry everywhere for leftovers/lunch)

  • Beeswax wrap

  • Aluminum straw

  • Aluminum water bottle

  • DIY produce bags

  • Compostable sponge

  • Lush tooth powder

  • Recycled toilet paper

I got a few of these items while in KL so they were so much less expensive than in America, which was awesome. I might do a trial grocery shop today to see how my bags work and do a prep before stating officially March 1.

The past 2 months I have started to become very aware of my trash. I have noticed that I am given so much trash without my consent, and starting to think ahead of where I can prevent this. For example, I have started practicing a few new phrases “no straw please,” “I have my own bag,” and “ I don’t use plastic” have become very helpful. I am the most excited for this month and cannot wait to get started!

Secret Playground

I am feeling so grateful. It’s currently 5:49am and I am wide awake. Mind-you I have been jetlagged all week, but I have been loving waking up before sunrise. My first day back, I went for a meditative walk at 5am-6am, read a book from 6am-7am outside, watched the sunrise, then went grocery shopping at 8am. Finding this extra space in the morning feels so satisfying. Like I have this secret New York playground that only I have the invitation to enter.

The Hypothesis Update

New York has never felt more like home than this past week. Nesting back in my apartment, eating my favorite healthy foods, and seeing my wonderful coworkers and friends made me so grateful for the life I have created here. Our trip was such a great time for reflection and for me to delve into Buddhist philosophy in relation to minimalism. The two concepts tie together so well and are helping me see the beauty in every object, piece of food, person and moment.

My hypothesis that minimalism can positively impact mental health is being proven true by the nonstop childlike smiling that wouldn’t leave my face at work on Wednesday. Something big has shifted within me and I am feeling so content. I am not looking for happiness in an object or future event, I am feeling it with each breath.  

Minimal Travel Recap

As I pack my belongings for the 40 hours of travel we are about to embark on to return home, I am thinking back on these past few weeks. It has been an incredibly journey for both Ethan and I. We have grown so much, so quickly. My minimal travel mindset was so enjoyable. I purchased only 2 items on this trip (1 pair of elastic sandals and 1 pair of Ssian style overalls).

I noticed 2 major difference in myself and my actions on this trip because of minimalism.

  1. I practiced shopping meditation. When I went to Asia last time, I was obsessed with the night markets. This time, rather than feeling the impulse to purchase any floral or elephant printed pattern I spotted, meditated as I walked the markets or malls. I would start breathing slowly and thinking about how these items were made, how long they would last, and how often I would use it if I purchased it.

  2. I didn’t collect anything. Issued to collect tons of paper items for keepsakes when I traveled. This trip, that desire vanished. I wanted to appreciate the present moment more than I wanted to collect it for a future past memory. This meant I barely took any photos as well. My filter for taking a photo would be, “Can I find a photo of this on the internet?” If the answer was yes, I don’t need to take my own photo. I found this to be very liberating as well.

These shifts feel liberating mentally and physically. I am feeling more centered and blissful than before leaving America, and very excited to return home.

Speaking of home, I learned a new meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh, “Your body is your first home. Breathing in, I arrive in my body. Breathing out, I am home." The idea is to feel cozy, and centered at any time. I find this very helpful while traveling. I am present in this moment, and looking forward to starting my Zero Waste March shortly!

This is a happy moment

I realized this trip became an “Intro to Buddhism” course for myself. I have tumbled into the philosophy and become smitten. My brain has an endless thirst for more knowledge and practice. I have been meditating, going to monasteries, and reading as many books by Thich Nhat Hanh that I can get on my Kindle from the New York Public Library. I am excited to start meditating in some local communities (sanghas) when I return to NY.

I feel like I have been searching for a spiritual connection this year, and suddenly this clicked for me so quickly. I can meditate while I practice Alexander Technique, and my mind and body feels connected for the first time in my life. Buddhist philosophy works seamlessly with a minimalist mindset. The idea of not being attached to objects and that everything is impermanent helps me stay more in the present moment. My favorite new mantra has become, “This is a happy moment.”  

Daily Digital Detox

I am feeling so much better than the last time I wrote. Yesterday, I made my own digital detox. I had Ethan set an alarm for a mystery time on my phone for when I should check my phone (so we could coordinate meeting). Then I didn’t use any technology until that time (turned out to be 3pm). I sat by the pool, I read an entire book, I journaled, I meditated, I sang. My favorite thing I did was made 7 lists:

  1. Things I need to donate when I get home (jeans, slow cooker, unused art supplies)

  2. Things I need to make or purchase in prep for Zero Waste March (compost bucket, bamboo utensils)

  3. Things in NYC I want to experience (botany classes, meditation retreat in the Rockaways)

  4. Things in my capsule wardrobe (15 total)

  5. Rules for a daily digital detox (before 9am, after 7pm)

  6. What home time is for during digital detox (writing, meditation, reiki, reading)

  7. Things I need to take care of for work

I decided on a new daily digital detox practice where I must have at least 3 hours without internet. I am going to unplug my router when I return home and remove my desk from my room as well. This will force me to stop watching TV and actually have the mental space to become refreshed. I have a community room 1 floor above me with wifi that I can easily go to do work in case of emergency.

I also decided that I am going to only check my email twice per day at 10am and 3pm. I started this immediately by turning off my email notifications to my phone. I have a hypothesis I will develop a state of flow during Inbox Hour and be much more productive. For example, yesterday when I finally got on my computer, I got to Inbox 0 for the first time in my life.

The mental space that is being freed up with this daily detox feel like a weight lifted off my hunched over shoulders. 

Emotional Sick Day

I was struggling with my minimalist mindset today. We just arrived in Bangkok, and I am not particularly happy to be here (strong air pollution, extremely massive city, having to take expensive taxis to get around).

Rather than facing the wild cityscape today, I found myself Googling for new desks. My desk is already very small, but I found myself wanting one that could fold up and be stowed away. I spent at least 1 hour researching vintage ironing boards as an option (which seemed very viable, but I don’t think it would be sturdy enough to hold my sewing machine). After that failed, I was on Amazon looking for ways to create a sliding drawer for my keyboard. After that, an extendable tray for a mouse. Then, I caught myself. But I didn’t want to stop. It was very hard to.

There is a strong correlation between feeling like I am not enough and feeling like I don’t have a enough. I have been struggling with body image recently. I find myself dissociating and not feeling embodied. I feel like I am not a strong enough woman or not healed enough or not *insert negative word here* enough. Then try to look up new things (haircuts, items, etc) I could get, so that I could feel “more myself.”

I find that holding space for days like these and trying to not judge myself for needing these is the best thing I can do. This blog is my way of tracking this vicious cycle and breaking it. Stay tuned.