Minimalist Living

“We’re so caught up in trying to do everything, experience all the essential things, not miss out on anything important...We can’t read all the good books, watch all the good films, go to all the best cities in the world, try all the best restaurants, meet all the great people...Life is better when we don’t try to do everything. Learn to enjoy the slice of life you experience, and life turns out to be wonderful.” ― Leo Babauta

Minimalism comes in all shapes and sizes. For Colin Wright, that involved selling most of his belongings and travelling around the world. For Courtney Carver, it was embracing a minimalist lifestyle to improve her health (she was diagnosed with MS in 2006). For me, my focus is not so much on eliminating physical clutter - although that’s certainly something I’ve done - but also incorporating a form of mental minimalism into my life. A lifestyle that takes into account all the distractions, interruptions, and needlessly complex processes that I encounter over the course of my day. It’s about simple, deliberate living.

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Of Worth & Money: A Response to Jessica Knoll’s, “I Want to be Rich and I’m Not Sorry.”

I write this as a response and not a critique.

Regardless of whether Jessica Knoll self-labels as feminist, there is an undercurrent of Sisterhood that must be respected across all women, irrespective of divergent views. What ensues is a respectful thought piece that I hope fosters a larger discussion centred around liberation of sexism. Here lies my reflection on Knoll’s recent New York Times op-ed, “I Want to be Rich and I’m Not Sorry.”

First, it must be said that survivors of sexual assault make sense of their experience differently. What Knoll went through is horrific, disgusting, and something I would not wish upon my worst enemies. Although I have not read her book, I believe that her book does a great service to survivors of violence. This post is not about that.

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How to Develop and Sustain Creative Thinking

“But unless we are creators we are not fully alive. What do I mean by creators? Not only artists, whose acts of creation are the obvious ones of working with paint of clay or words. Creativity is a way of living life, no matter our vocation or how we earn our living. Creativity is not limited to the arts, or having some kind of important career.” 
— Madeleine L’Engle

Just as Madeleine described, creativity can be injected in all facets of life. Most of us don’t work, at least on an obvious level, in creative jobs. We’re sitting in cubicles. We’re working from home. We’re out in the field. But no matter how we earn our keep, I’m a firm believer that incorporating creativity into your work will not only generate better results, but also help you become more innovative, resourceful, and intentional as a creator. Here are 6 ways that have helped me stay creative in my daily life.

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How To Maximize Your Time, Improve Productivity, and Reduce Burn-out

I wear many hats: I’m a lawyer, blogger, freelance writer, and newly-minted podcaster. I am no stranger to feelings of anxiety and overwhelm, with burnout quietly knocking on my office door. In order to stave off breakdown, I’ve researched and tested methods to increase the quality and efficiency of all the tasks that demand cognitive exertion. After an extensive period of trial and error, I have narrowed down 8 specific tactics that have enabled me to make the most of my waking hours.

[1] START YOUR DAY OFF RIGHT. I leave this intentionally broad because I am cognizant that not everyone works comfortably in the morning. I am a morning person — or more accurately, I have trained myself to become as such — because it is more conducive to my lifestyle: I have to let the dog out in the morning, I have to leave for work at 8:00 a.m., it’s the most time I am able to work undistracted.

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The Worst Kind of People (That We Can't Blame)

Let’s talk about the worst kind of people.

Okay, I’m being facetious. Who I am about to discuss are technically not the “worst.” Not when we consider people who allow their children to hold pro-life posters outside shopping malls for school credit, or those who take their flavourless gum and stick it underneath the armchairs that you lean on at the movies. I swear though, the demarcation between those people and these people, however, are gray. 

I won't beat around the bush: Financial advisors of brick and mortar banking institutions bother me.

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The (un)American Dream: The Impact of Race on Homeownership

As I began my research into personal finance, one of the most surprising things that I learned involves the nexus between race and homeownership.

The conventional perspective is that homeownership causes wealth.  Unfortunately, the facts demonstrate that it’s reversed: It’s much more likely that wealth causes homeownership.

The first thing that needs to be stated is the disparity in homeownership across racial and ethnic lines: 73% of whites, 45% of Blacks, and 47% of Latinos

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Incorporating Minimalism

A minimalist lifestyle looks different for everyone. For me, it’s helped me pay down $42,000 of student loans in just over 2 years, lend more of my attention to my loved ones, and set me on a path of intentional living. In the past six months, I’ve felt happy, healthy, and at peace.

While I can’t guarantee that what I have incorporated into my life will do the same for you, reflecting on a few of these things may help provide clarity to your life.

(1) Downsize your stuff. Personally, I donated about 70% of my clothes to various non-profit organizations. I realized that I owned several items of clothing that I hadn’t really worn in months. If I didn’t love it, I didn’t keep it. To prevent myself from accumulation creep, I review the contents of my wardrobe once a month to see if I can get rid of anything more.

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The Future (of work) is Here

When you think about it, 2025 is not so far away.

I mean, I’m no futurist, but lately things have been, as a friend affectionately states, “a hot pile of garbage." I've now, on more than one occasion, found myself daydreaming while sitting at my desk about what the state of the world will look like in 10, 20, and 30 years from now. Are we going to fight our way towards closing the wealth gap? Or are we just going to fire shots at each other on the internet? I am a pragmatic optimist disguised as a snarky pessimist, but some days I just don’t know.

I’m afraid.

I’m not afraid to say that I’m afraid.

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I Paid Off $40,000 of Student Loans By Organizing My Finances Like This

When I graduated law school $50,000 in student debt, I did not have a system for my money. It’s embarrassing, and humbling, to admit that all I did was set an arbitrary line as to how much I could spend whenever I got paid and threw the remainder towards my loans. The result? I, obviously, was too lenient with myself and barely made any progress towards conquering my mountain of debt.

Since then, I’ve built a system that’s worked for me. Over the past 2 years, I’ve paid off 80% of my debt all the while eating out, going on vacation, buying several books, and adopting a dog, despite that during that time I left a well-paying job to work somewhere that fulfilled me but came with, at first, a 50% pay cut. If you have solid systems in place, you can take professional risks and not completely deprive yourself, all because you have debt that you’re actively working towards paying off. If you want to know more, feel free to shoot me an email and I’d be happy to talk to you.

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A Writer's Role

"A writer should concern himself with whatever absorbs his fancy, stirs his heart, and unlimbers his typewriter. I feel no obligation to deal with politics. I do feel a responsibility to society because of going into print: a writer has the duty to be good, not lousy; true, not false; lively, not dull; accurate, not full of error. He should tend to lift people up, not lower them down. Writers do not merely reflect and interpret life, they inform and shape life.

The writer’s role is what it has always been: he is a custodian, a secretary. Science and technology have perhaps deepened his responsibility but not changed it. In ‘The Ring of Time,’ I wrote: ‘As a writing man, or secretary, I have always felt charged with the safekeeping of all unexpected items of worldly or unworldly enchantment, as though I might be held personally responsible if even a small one were to be lost. But it is not easy to communicate anything of this nature.’

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