Living Between Two Cultures

Culture

After watching The Farewell at the cinema last year, it was an emotional film. It also made me reflect the thoughts that came after watching Crazy Rich Asians, and how powerful films, books, photography and art can really tell these stories that make us reflect on our own personal experiences. There have been many interesting stories growing up in New Zealand, and knowing that often I will first be viewed as an Asian woman. I was reading from Old Asian, New Asian, the words: As the ethnic makeup of New Zealand continues to change, the nature of our race relations will continue to impact the very real everyday experiences of those who live here. We are in a position to build on the rich exchanges that have already taken place, but we need to keep talking.

Being born and raised in New Zealand, I grew up feeling never quite fully Kiwi, and yet when I visit Taiwan, I’m never quite fully Taiwanese. I also didn’t grow up in the city, and lived on a farm which meant that I was often one of the only Asians in most settings. New Zealand is very isolated from the rest of the world. However, I do find that the understanding of Asian culture and knowledge is limited in many ways despite the population of Asians being significant in New Zealand. I hope this will change. In understanding, truly understanding, we create empathy, we have an open mind and we can learn from one another.

There are aspects of values from Asian and Western culture that I can and cannot relate to. In being open, we have to have respect, compassion and be there to listen to stories. I think in sharing experiences, it can allow one another to have a sense of connection and understanding. I can appreciate conversations where you do not feel assumptions, judgments, prejudice, stereotypes and false beliefs, but rather a genuine interest in wanting to understand more about Asian culture. Some things I’d like to mention, is that it’s okay to reach out for help in terms of seeing a counselor, doctor or psychologist for your mental health. There is a stigma in mental health in general, but also in Asian culture it tends to be something that can be kept quiet.

From my personal experience, it helps to see someone who can have the cultural understanding. It’s also important to connect and have conversations with people from all walks of life, because this creates a sense of open mindedness and understanding. I find language is also really important in connecting with people. That’s why it’s so important to treasure and speak your mother tongue. The beauty of living in New Zealand, especially in cities such as Auckland and Wellington, is that there is a diverse mixture of cultures. Living between two cultures is a blessing, as I am grateful for growing up in a household filled with Asian food, language, customs and traditions while growing up being surrounded by nature, lakes, mountains and never ending skies.

Photography by Sun Jun

Standing Still

Daily Thoughts

When I’m standing in the underground train station in Taipei, I can’t help smile when the music comes on to announce the Train is coming. It’s been such an incredible year, and I feel blessed to have met so many beautiful kind people, having thoughtful conversations and making wonderful new friends. There’s been a lot of lessons that have really been more on my mind, such as: the art of truly not giving a f*ck what others think, the importance of focusing on what adds value in your life, surrounding yourself and investing in positive, motivated people, having critical thinking and questioning the information you consume, embracing being your freaking self, that you choose your attitude regardless of the situation, the importance of not settling in a relationship, allow yourself to feel and embrace discomfort, how emotions can distort reality, what you place focus on is how you will feel and what we feed our mind and the thoughts we think is essentially the world we create for ourselves.

I was reflecting back to the start of 2017, listening to the speech This is Water, by David Foster Wallace. I highly recommend having a read or listen to it. There is power in having the ability to choose, which can strengthen our perception of what we are capable of rather than narrowing our abilities. David Foster Wallace highlights that Liberal arts fundamentally teaches us how to think critically as we advance into the adult world. Critical awareness allows us to be less self-centred and reinforces our self-control. In our daily lives, we tend to put ourselves at the centre of the universe. We are the person that feels, observes and experiences the world around us. Wallace says “Learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think.”

Instead of placing ourselves at the centre of the universe, we can choose to see things from different perspectives. When we walk we often let our thoughts take control, rather than consciously taking control of our thoughts. It becomes natural to think about our own problems and prioritise them as the most important. This can cause a confinement that builds an invisible barrier around us if we do not learn to be aware of the world outside of ourselves. Becoming aware builds empathy even when we feel frustration in our own lives, as it creates an understanding that some people are going through hard times. Critical awareness and exercising control of how and what you think, is an incredibly powerful ability to pouring thoughts that have substance and meaning.

The mistake in how we often perceive things are that things are just the way they appear from our mind, as it would immediately dismiss the importance of seeing things from different angles. The most obvious things are often right in front of us, regardless of how they may appear. An example that Wallace uses is the story of two young fish, who swim along as an older fish swims past. The older fish says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” and eventually one of them looks at the other and says “What the hell is water?” There is a sense of ignorance and confusion that the fish are not aware of their surroundings, and have developed a limited and narrow view. We see things from the experiences we’ve had and the worldview we possess. Yet, in order to have an open mind, there’s a need to question, understand and see things from different perspectives.

In this case, the two fish were metaphorically in their own space, unaware of the water surrounding them. There is a choice in recognising these things, but we often live through our days blindly looking past them. It becomes a learned ability over time. The water also symbolises the space we move in, such as the air we walk, breathe and live in. We can see these realities when we learn to switch on the ability to see them, which makes us present and conscious beings. Wallace says “Banal Platitudes can have a life or death importance”. The seemingly obvious and boring aspects of our lives are suggested to have a life or death importance because they are the moments that remind us that we can choose how to react, how to feel and what to think. This gives us an inner power that we lack control of when we ignore it. However, we do not often become conscious of this ability, as we swim by like the young fish, without realising that it is there right in front of us. In this instance, it is not about the capacity to think, but about the choice of what to think about.

When we see something as banal, we feel that it is such an ordinary aspect of our days, that it does not deserve the attention as it lacks interest. I believe that ‘banal platitudes’ are important, even if something seems obvious or dull that it is right in front of our eyes, banal platitudes reminds that we can create value and meaning in those obvious statements. We have seconds, minutes, hours of moments that we can give value to by viewing them as meaningful and significant. The deliberate effort to be aware opens our eyes to see things from different perspectives. We have a choice in widening our horizon in what we see, by being conscious of the world around us and becoming curious individuals. Rather than blindly walking through life, we have the choice to address and observe situations, as well as the ability to choose how we perceive things. This can make those seemingly boring moments have significant meaning.

The critical awareness we have causes us to be less self absorbed in our own lives and needs. It almost makes us look through a lens where we see the world as a whole, rather than a lens that restricts our visions to the narrowed reality we imagine. This honestly makes me think of the use of phones. I really want to strive to use my phone less when I don’t need it, in order to embrace being more and more present and to cut out distractions, because as I look around I really think we are becoming slaves to our phones. When we choose to be aware of our surroundings and situations, we become more accepting, patient and tolerant. We place a focus on paying attention to what we deem important, rather than allowing our thoughts to sway towards unnecessary and often negative voices. Becoming aware of our ability to choose and giving time to focus our mind intentionally determines how we want to live our lives.

Art by Kate Pusley

Spending Less Time On Your Phone

Daily Thoughts

One of the best things I saw today was a guy whipping out his big bulky flip phone, and proceed to click away and text someone. I’m definitely someone that still feels it’s nice to not use the phone when I’m with friends or at a dinner table. Although, it has become a norm to have our phones present in many situations, occasions and at almost any time. Checking notifications, taking photos and messaging people. One of the ways I’ve found helpful in using my phone less during the day, is deleting apps on my phone, putting it on silence or leaving the phone at home for a few hours. Out of sight, out of mind. It makes you feel more present and feel more engaged in your day to day moments, without the interruption or distraction of a phone. I love going for bush walks and being in nature, and I find the best moments are the one’s where you’re truly present in the moment.

There is now more of an urgency and ability to receive information instantly, that we lose that sense of patience, waiting and receiving news a little later. The silent moments can be interrupted with digital devices. It’s a wonderful tool, yet everything requires balance and moderation. When I took away that aspect for most of the day, I realised that at the end of the day, I can check everything in one go. My messages, emails, notifications and so on. It took away this sense of needing to check my phone, even when I didn’t need it. It made me more observant, present and just embrace the art of doing nothing and just being. I realised how much my phone can sometimes give me slight anxiety and urgency, take away precious time and that the less I use it, the more I feel focused on tasks and the more I don’t allow it to fill up to much space in my day.

I do miss the days where phones weren’t such a huge part of our lives, that when we left home it would only often be the keys on us that we need to remember. There was a sense of interaction that is not as common now. I remember talking to strangers more and making friends through the same silence, and simply breaking it. However, now it’s easy for many people to avoid the silence by using their devices. Many of us attend to a notification straight away, a text is replied immediately and there is ongoing online noise. I think to simply minimise one’s use of their phone is to consciously decide to. You could remove apps that you don’t use often, or aren’t hugely important. You could leave the house one day without your phone, and note how you feel during the day. Presence is truly key.

When I am using my phone, I spend most of it reading news online, from politics to arts and culture. We consume and share information, but there is definitely an increasing saturation of information online. When you realise that you don’t need to capture this moment, message someone about something right this very moment and escape the silence, you enjoy the moment. I like to take those moments to just pause, go for a run, read a book, pat the cats or play the piano. Everything is more enjoyable in the long run when it’s in moderation. There is also less desire to share things, as I find the line between what is private and public is becoming increasingly blurred. I really value privacy and in person contact, and engaging in conversation in person. There are endless things to enjoy without the presence of our phones.

Art by Monica Barengo

Five Ways To Live More Sustainably

Environment

Every day we have the ability to make choices in what we consume, and what businesses we support with our money. Every product has an environmental footprint, which is why it’s good to purchase items that have minimal packaging. Every person has an impact and affect on the environment, from what we choose to eat, wear, and the actions we take. It’s important to support businesses that make a conscious effort to be environmentally-friendly and look out for labels when possible. Fashion is one of the biggest polluting industries in the world, which is why it’s increasingly important to become a conscious consumer in how, where and what we buy.

1) Bring your own reusable items. By bringing your own drink bottle, you can minimise the amount of plastic drink bottles that end up in landfills. Other reusable items include metal straw, cutlery, keep cup, tote bags.

2) Use eco-friendly products. Support local brands, and companies that use natural ingredients that are better for the environment. Buy things that are good quality, and will last a long time.

3) Walk or bike whenever possible. By driving less, you can reduce your carbon foot print, plus walking or biking to work can be a healthy way of spending time outdoors and getting more physical activity during the day.

4) Water and electricity consumption. You can conserve water by taking shorter showers, closing the tap when brushing your teeth, collect rainwater. Aim to turn off lights when you’re not present in a room.

5) Consume less meat. Take part in Meatless Mondays, or simply minimize the amount of meat in your diet. A large portion of greenhouse gas emissions are from the Animal agricultural industry.

Art by Renée Gouin

Lack of Privacy

Daily Thoughts

In the digital age, the question of privacy seems to be ever changing, as large corporations have an increasing amount of information on individuals. Reading Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier, was eye opening and makes you ask a lot of questions in regards to privacy, technology and social media. However, Social media is a tool and a platform, and it comes down to how we are using it, and what we are using it for. In a sense, surveillance is not simply the cameras on the street or in the shop, but in our daily spaces.

Direct, personalised and targeted marketing is increasing, as algorithms are able to track what we have viewed, searched, liked, shared and purchased. Someone dear to me mentioned the book 1984, which I am currently reading and find it really interesting. However, at the time it seemed unlikely that it may occur, that Big Brother would be watching a person’s every move, but it seems that it’s the reality today. On one hand, we can decide what we want to share, and on the other hand, whatever information is searched, posted and clicked online is always recorded. The sense of mystery in ones life is not as apparent.

Art by Kate Pugsley

Less is More

Daily Thoughts

The words we speak to ourselves have power. They are like a seed planted in our heart, and the more we water it with good words, the stronger we grow. There is so much beauty in every day. Even when there’s rain pouring down, and the days are cold, there is always something to be grateful for. It’s often those small, simple things that give us the greatest amusement. A sparrow taking a bath, a little snail slowly making its way on the path and the Tui singing on the Kowhai tree. Yet, we live in a fast paced society that encourages to live with the want of more.

Reading the article from Womankind, it really reflects the importance of living slowly. In one excerpt it reads “Happiness has been associated with the commercial – ads telling us that we will be happier if we have lots of nice things, if we are wealthy and powerful.” It continues saying “After 40 years of studying happiness and its causes, Norberg-Hodge is convinced that true human happiness comes from being part of a small, tight-knit community […] So part of the key to happiness is to feel connected to other people and to nature.”

Observing when technology wasn’t so prevalent in our lives, the sense of focus and attention on our surroundings and environment was much more pronounced. Growing up, there was a connection with nature and being out in the grass, trees, rocks, sand and water. Lying on the deck, and watching the milky way and all the stars in the sky. The only kind of clear night you can see in the countryside. There is so much beauty around us. We miss out on a lot of things, if we draw too much of our attention and time on our screens or on superficial things.

Gratitude There is so much to be thankful for every single day. Food, water, sunshine, rain, clothes, family, shelter, books, nature, health. When we are grateful, truly grateful from our heart, we realise there is so much that we have. The lack of gratitude, ties in with the feeling of always needing to fill ourselves up with something. It can create an empty feeling. It can make us compare in ways that are detrimental, rather than helpful or beneficial. Gratitude makes us more calm, kinder and loving.

Relationships Friendships are quality over quantity. We can know a lot of people, but to have those close friends that we can wholeheartedly trust and be ourselves around are precious. The ones where we can be there for one another in times of need, lift each other up, be honest yet non-judgmental, allow one another to grow and enjoy new experiences with. Nurturing our relationships with ourselves and with others can give our lives more purpose. It connects us with one another.

Materials We live in a consumer society, and are encouraged to constantly purchase something new. There is no amount of materials in the world that can buy true happiness. We are sold a lifestyle and an image of happiness, that is said to be attainable through certain products. However, these are all temporary, instant gratifications that are not a guarantee of long-term satisfaction. Our value as a person is not dictated by the type of car we drive, or how big our house is. Many of us have more than we need.

Words The words we speak to ourselves have power, as I previously mentioned. How we talk to ourselves, is the truth we feed our heart and mind. Speaking words of love and kindness, means that you can also spread the love towards those around you. It means thinking before you speak, being wise in what you express and being considerate and empathetic of people. We can so often fill our minds with endless noise and words that serve no purpose, and lies can creep in that try to pull us down. One simple kind affirmation repeated can really be food for the soul.

Phone The moment I leave my phone at home, or make a conscious effort to not check it for a period of time, it creates a space where interruptions and distractions cannot occur. Productivity rises, and there is a more prolonged focus and flow in the task. Phones have become such a prevalent part of our lives, that virtually anywhere we are, there is bound to be a phone present. However, it’s important to minimise, moderate and maintain a balance in our use of technology in order to enjoy other activities, and be present.

Living slowly The Minimalists always share really thoughtful insights, and the article on More is Less? I love the part where they say “Owning less stuff, focusing on fewer tasks, and having less in the way has given us more time, more freedom, and more meaning in our lives. Working less allows us to contribute more, grow more, and pursue our passions much more. Having more time causes less frustration and less stress, more freedom adds less anxiety and less worry, and more meaning in our lives allows us to focus far less on life’s excess in favor of what’s truly important. So, more is less? Yes, more or less.

Life is enjoyed when we are present and we can take a step back to soak in the moment and enjoy the scenery.

Art by Yelena Bryksenkova

The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck

Books

Reading is one of those activities that builds empathy, expands your imagination, allows you to see things from a different perspective and gives you space to learn and go on adventures all in your mind. Some of the greatest ideas that pop up are when I’m reading or engaging in a DMC with friends. As I was conversing with my lovely friend, we talked about how everyone cares about something. We all do it, but it’s also easy to hide it. The truth is, everyone is so concerned with themselves and their lives, that most people don’t care about you as much as you think. It’s a harsh truth, but it’s also incredibly refreshing. The Subtle Art of not giving a F*ck by Mark Manson was fun to read. It was one of those books I couldn’t put down, and binged read in two days. No matter what, people will judge regardless of if you’re happy in your life.

One of the things I loved that Manson mentions is The Backwards Law. Manson says in his book “’The backwards law’ [is] the idea that the more you pursue feeling better all the time, the less satisfied you become, as pursuing something only reinforces the fact that you lack it in the first place. The more you desperately want to be rich, the more poor and unworthy you feel, regardless of how much money you actually make. The more you desperately want to be sexy and desired, the uglier you come to see yourself, regardless of your actual physical appearance. The more you desperately want to be happy and loved, the lonelier and more afraid you become, regardless of those who surround you. The more you want to be spiritually enlightened, the more self-centered and shallow you become in trying to get there.”

He suggests that by accepting that you’re not doing well, it can be more rewarding then chasing a false sense of happiness. It makes me think about the stigma of mental health, and how so many of us pretend to be fine, which can actually cause those emotions to sink deeper. It also makes me think of how growing up being constantly called nice, there are times where I can care too much in being nice to others. We have to think about the values we have. Those are what we should give a f*ck about and spend time caring about in our lives. Spend your time doing things that matter to you. We can waste a lot of time worrying about things that we might not have any control over, thinking about something in the past or future or caring too much about what others think in certain areas of our lives.

One reality hit is to remind myself that I could die any day. Then it puts things into perspective. It’s that combination of humour and reality that reminds us that there are so many things that we don’t need to take too seriously. There is so much dissatisfaction when we are constantly chasing happiness, because then there is always this feeling that we’re lacking something in our lives. Happiness isn’t a destination. It also takes us away from being in the present, accepting what is and truly living in the moment. The people we give our time to, our personal values and the things we do during our time are what we give our f*cks to. One of the most freeing feelings is letting go of caring what others think, even if it’s just a little.

Reading the book also made me think about the book The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. It’s one of my all-time favourite book. When we stop caring so much about what happened in the past or what will happen in the future, we can be content and enjoy the present moment. We all experience failures, set backs and disappointments. Manson is emphasising in the book how caring less can actually lead to more happiness. I’m someone that can care too much about others. I consider myself an empath, and I feel really deeply for others, but sometimes we have to find a healthy balance. True happiness is like a slow burning fire. “Most people chase highs,” Manson explains. “Highs make you feel good. They sound fun. They impress people. Happiness is harder. Happiness requires struggle and boredom and sacrifice. Real happiness comes from discovering a sense of importance in one’s actions and in one’s life.”

Photography by Sun Jun

What I Love About Taiwan

Culture

Taiwan was once known as Formosa, which means beautiful island. If you ever have the chance to travel and explore the island, you will see its beauty in nature, culture, and people. It is really somewhere you need to come to see and experience for yourself. When I was younger, when I said my family is from Taiwan, there was often a response of you’re from Thailand? When I was in Taiwan as a child, some people weren’t sure where NZ was on the map or would think New Zealand is a place in Australia or part of Australia.

New Zealand is definitely far more well known now among tourists. I really really hope Taiwan can be more and more well known among tourist destinations in Asia. There is definitely a significant lack of knowledge about the country, compared to say Korea or Japan. It is a hidden treasure for many, as I really feel that it’s not quite so well known globally as it could be. This has been the longest period of time I’ve stayed in Taiwan, and I would definitely love to live here someday.

1.Friendly people. Taiwanese are some of the most friendliest, helpful and polite people in the world.

2. Convenience. It is one of the most convenient places to live, especially if you are living in one of the cities.

3. Transport. Similarly, the transport is incredibly convenient and efficient. For example, in Taipei, you can use the MRT, Bus, Bike, Taxi or Drive.

4. Recycling. The sorting of rubbish here is taken seriously, as the rubbish is sorted into food, plastic, paper, etc.

5. Food. You haven’t had the full experience in Taiwan if you haven’t tasted the food.

6. Busy but also not. Taiwan is pretty slow paced in many places, and even in the larger cities such as Taipei and Kaohsiung, it is more slow-paced compared to cities like Shanghai and Beijing.

7. Biking. It is a wonderful place to bike, and you can actually travel the whole island by bike!

8. Efficiency. Food is usually delivered quickly to your table and even when I got my wisdom teeth removed, I made a last minute booking on the day and got it pulled out.

9. Safety. I never feel unsafe in Taipei if I ever happen to walk on the streets after 11pm.

10. Nightlife. From night markets, cafes, bars, parties, arcade, movies, events, exhibitions and so on, there’s always something happening.

11. Mountains. It doesn’t take too long to travel to beautiful mountains and go hiking. The nature in Taiwan is breathtaking.

12. Fruits and Vegetables. It is one of the best places to be vegetarian or vegan. There is a plethora of options.

13. Cafes. Most cafes have their own personality and vibe. There is usually a certain feeling or theme.

14. Cute things. There is definitely a lot of Japanese influence. But, if you love cute things, Taiwan has a lot of cute things!

15. Cinemas. If you love watching movies, there are different kinds of cinemas in Taiwan. You can also go to ones where you can watch several films in one day.

16. Tea Culture. If you love tea, there is no shortage of tea in Taiwan.

17. Bookstores. I feel like you can spend hours sitting in a bookstore in Taiwan, just reading.

18. Random things. I was biking to the grocery store today and biked past a park where an owner was walking her cat on a leash.

19. Insects. I love creepy crawlies, and when I go hiking up the mountains, if I look around there are caterpillars, butterflies, dragonflies, and other beautiful insects.

20. Chinese Culture and Taiwanese Culture. The Aboriginal Taiwanese culture and Chinese culture.

21. Hotsprings. Winter is my favourite season, and it’s the perfect time to go to the hot springs.

22. Walking. As someone who walks most of the time in Auckland, for me, anywhere that’s walking distance within 30 minutes is very close.

23. Creativity and arts. There are so many activities in Taiwan to do from crafts and workshops.

24. Natural beauty. It’s truly one of the most beautiful places. I think it’s always good to go out of a city to really see a countries natural beauty.

25. Internet. There are many areas with Free wifi and the internet is fast.

26. Umbrella. This is something I really like because I like to use an umbrella in NZ when it’s sunny which still gets a few stares, but in Taiwan, it is a norm.

27. 7/11.You can do so much at 7/11 from buying food, paying your bills, ATM machine or sending parcels. Plus It’s opened 24/7.

There is definitely more than 100 things I love about Taiwan, but there are also areas I hope that will improve. Every country has its pros and cons. Some areas I hope will improve include the economy, politics, architecture, traffic, driving, pollution, education system, tourism, the number of scooters, low paid jobs and the number of stray dogs.

How To Live With Less In A Consumer Culture

Daily Thoughts

We are all consumers in one way or another. Whether that may be in materials, books, films, art, food, electricity, water, social media, news, internet, advertisements and so on. However, how much and how often we consume things over another varies depending on our behaviour, habits, lifestyle, interests and so forth. The power of marketing and advertising is immense. When I browse thrift stores in an ocean of clothes, the reality sinks in that there are always clothes being bought and then being given to thrift stores.

I strive to live by the philosophy and mentality that less is more. As we live in a consumer culture, we are encouraged to buy more, even when we have more than enough. Advertising sells us a lifestyle, status, and identity. In terms of clothing, it is one of the top polluters in the world. If we consume less, we also lessen our carbon footprint, and we contribute less waste towards the earth. However, the power of advertising covers it with the glamour of a certain lifestyle. But, the truth is, we don’t need a lot to be happy.

Fill your spaces with love and purpose. Living with less means only having what you will use for many years. Advertising tells us that we are lacking this or that in our lives and that we need to fill spaces with materials that will make us feel better. However, many of us have more than we need.

Buy good quality materials. If you buy good quality clothing, then you give it longevity. Many things can last a long time. As I was mentioning about thrift shopping above, there are many clothes I try on and I feel that they are still very good quality. But, the fast fashion industry is constantly moving in and out with trends that are having a heavy impact on the environment.

Money and materials cannot buy true happiness. I had a conversation with my father a few months ago, and he said 外表不是重點. It means that our outer appearances are not the main part of who we are. Consumer culture means that we spend so much money on appearances.

Borrow more books. I must say that if I had my own house, I’d love to be able to fill it up with shelves of books. However, as someone who is always moving suitcases to somewhere every year or so, the library has been a blessing. I remember having to donate dozens of books over the years as they can take up a significant amount of space.

Thoughts on gifts. In all honesty, I’m the sort of person that prefers not being given a gift, unless it’s something I will really use. Vice versa, I prefer giving a gift that I feel the person is likely to use. I was joking with my sister the other day, that if over the years people just gave me money for the cost of the gift they gave me, I could have bought a new computer. Which sounds bad, but many gifts end up sitting there.

Saving money. If you are saving up for something, whether that be a car or a house, you can save money from the smallest things. For example, if you like to drink a cup of coffee everyday. You could start making your own at home everyday, and perhaps in one year you could save 365 x $3.50 = $1,277.50.

Do it for yourself and for the planet. Consumerism really costs the Earth. The more we buy, the more that is disposed of, and the more rubbish we create in the world. An example would be consuming less meat and dairy. Where we spend our money, is essentially who we are supporting.

Living with less is not only in materials. In a consumer culture, we are told we need more friends, more money, more travel and so on. The focus is on having a better future, but it’s important to embrace the present and be grateful for everything you have. Often, money and materials in advertising focus too much on ourselves. Someone could be wealthy but spends their time and money to help with people, education or the environment. Living with less reminds us of what’s important.

What is my intention for buying this? I used to have handbags that end up only getting worn a few times during the year, whereas my black handbag would be worn every day. My trainers and school backpack are worn almost every single day. I know that minimalism may not be for everyone, but it’s really helped in having a clearer mind and appreciate what I already have.

What are some of your tips for buying less?

I highly recommend reading the article A Helpful Guide to Overcoming Consumerism

Art by Yelena Bryksenkova

What You Focus On Is How You Will Feel

Daily Thoughts

I was reading a book by Dr. Libby, and I feel like she always has so much wisdom to share. It really resonated with me, when she wrote “What we focus on is what we feel.” There is so much truth to this, and it makes me think about how powerful our thoughts are. We manifest our reality through our thoughts, energy, and actions. A Beautiful and powerful article by Dr. Libby here on self love. In the article, Dr. Libby writes:

Remember that what we focus on is what we feel. Which is simply to say that if we constantly focus on our perceived flaws, of course it’s going to stir up feelings of lousiness because we will never measure up to our own expectations. It will also likely drive us to continue patterns of behaviour, such as unresourceful eating, that continue to confirm how we feel about ourselves. 

The excerpt above made me think of when I had such a strong focus on how I didn’t feel good enough in my body. At the time, I felt physically weak and tired as I wasn’t eating enough, and from not getting enough energy from healthy wholesome foods, my thoughts would spiral into a tunnel of negative thoughts about my body image. However, once the focus was on being healthy and enjoying life, I ate healthier and had a positive attitude and a feeling of gratitude towards my body.

Comparison is the thief of joy. We are all beautifully made in our own way. Everyone is walking on their own journey. No one is supposed to be like the person beside them. Social Media is not real in the sense that no one is smiling all the time, and truly no one is perfect no matter what it looks like. We all ride through the roller-coaster of ups and downs in this thing called life. You are truly beautiful, intelligent, smart and kind in your own way. You don’t need anyone to tell you that, because you just are. You are enough.

Art by Rachael Dean