The Paths

The Paths


The woods behind my grandparents’ house,

we call them “the paths”

A fairyland well into my adulthood

Exit reality

Entrance to fantasy

 

The fields, corn or soy,

alternate with the years

A large path forks

into wooded alcoves

 

A stranger would get lost

in the ever-changing paths

I know the paths like I know myself

I changed with the ever-changing paths

 

I spent my time

plucking bugs from their wooded homes,

forging through raspberry bushes

always stopping to taste the fruit

Accidentally ending up in the neighbor’s yard

trying to find

a shortcut

 

At the center, the paths connect

Veins pumping to the heart of my childhood

At the center, the paths part clear

A clearing of clouds and wildflowers

A home for the bee’s grandpa keeps

A squeaky bench that swings

but not without giving the sitter a splinter

I’d squeak the bench to my heart’s content

 

The sun setting over my imagination

The dinner bell of mother’s yell

ringing in the distance

I’m not hungry when I’m in the woods

I never want to leave

Until mom’s voice is just over the trees

Exit fantasy

Enter reality

 

-Amanda Maria

Dank Day

The sunshine reminds me of that time we were driving.

Windows down, sweat beads from furrowed brows,

soft lips around stale cigarettes.

Hair hanging long as it brushes stoic shoulders.

 

My memory perceives a movie scene.

My James Dean,

a corduroy jacket rank with tobacco.

Smoke rising as you part pursed lips.

 

There’s this look in your eyes

like you haven’t lived in a while.

Absolute content or ignorance is bliss?

Take your pick.

 

Either way,

if we’d have died that dank day,

I’d be fine with that dank day.

 

Physically ill,

I wish time would stand still.

One more day to chase the harvest sun.

 

Break up again.

Make up again.

Make love again.

Break up again.

 

What we do,

what we did.

Time caught up with us.

Falling out of trust,

extinguishing the occasional spark of lust

just barely holding us

together.

Consumer-Driven Love

Consumer-Driven Love

Show her you love her this Valentine’s Day

Because you can’t show her you love her

any other day.

 

With a wide selection of cheap balloons, bears, bouquets, and candy

Conveniently available everywhere

Because you most likely forgot.

 

Bombarded with last minute pressures,

even at the gas station

Nothing says ‘I love you’,

like a bag of chalky candy

and a pack of cigarettes.

 

Words aren’t enough.

She needs more stuff

to know you love her.

Fill her heart and her house

With cheap gifts

Because a teddy bear, three times the size

of the child who made it,

just might get you laid this Valentine’s Day.

 

 

I wrote this for my writing class as my personal take on a holiday-inspired poem.

Thanks for reading!

-Amanda Maria

Trapped in a Disposable Culture

Trapped in a disposable culture.

Pretending to pass along my problems

in a tied-up trash bag.

Finished with food scraps still fresh enough

to feed families.

 

Videos circulate.

A sea turtle with a plastic straw stuck up his nose.

A sea turtle with a shell misshapen by plastic rings.

People rowing through oceans of trash.

Children wading through the sweet rot of a mountainous landfill.

 

Connected.

Staring at a screen seeing the unseen.

Disconnected.

Staring at a screen seeing the unseen.

Affected virtually,

Unaffected in reality.

 

It’s too often that I’m sitting at my computer reading about the waste generated in not only the United States, but across the planet.  I’m sickened by the videos I’ve seen.  I’m appalled by how disconnected I feel.  I’m troubled by the fact that I watch a video, feel horrible, then go about my life as an average American generating 4.5 pounds of trash a day.

I walk around preaching with an eco-friendly ego, but I am the problem.  The internet allows us access to endless information, but for most of us, it doesn’t encourage action.

The first time I saw Lauren Singer of Trash is for Tossers snuggle three years of trash into a 16oz mason jar, I was conflicted.  The idea inspired me, but I was almost amused at how impossible it seemed; impossible for my specific lifestyle.  When asked how she defines a Zero Waste lifestyle, Lauren says, “I do not produce any garbage. No sending anything to landfill, no throwing anything in a trash can, nothing. However, I do recycle and I do compost” (Trash is For Tossers).

Yes, there are many other types of waste affecting our planet.  For clarification, Zero Waste (in regards to the Zero Waste movement) pertains mainly to plastic waste, food scraps, and other disposables that would normally end up in a landfill.

I continued down the rabbit hole of Zero Waste YouTube only to discover that it’s basically the sister lifestyle to minimalism.  I could even argue that a Zero Waste lifestyle is another level to minimalism.

Trash doesn’t bring me joy or function.

So, if I could so easily pare down my belongings, why couldn’t I pare down my waste?

After several years of thinking a reduced-waste lifestyle wasn’t impossible, I’ve decided to challenge myself.  Like minimalism, this is not something that happens overnight.  Living Zero Waste requires constant conscious attention, education, and dedication.  I encourage everyone reading this to watch the links I’ve provided.  I hope you’re inspired to consider the impact of the trash you produce.  I challenge you to challenge yourself and live a bit differently in hopes of saving our beautiful planet.

Trash is for Tossers

TedX:Lauren Singer

CGTN: Bea Johnson 

Thanks for visiting!

-Amanda Maria

It’s been too long…

After a lengthy summer hiatus, it may appear as though I’ve deserted my blog.  This is, in part, true as I’ve been busy making an adult of myself.  However, I intend to resurrect my part-time hobby in hopes of finding the glimpse of inspiration for which I’ve recently been searching.  I feel slightly cliché in saying that I’ve changed over the summer, but it’s true.  I’d argue it’s been one of the most eye-opening summers I’ve yet to experience.  Dustin and I moved into our 500sqft loft apartment in late July.  My mom and dad helped us transport four car loads of shit to our new homestead.  Let me remind you this is after I minimized 85% of my belongings.  We still had stuff, as many of us do.

Behind closed doors we still carry useless items weighted with irrational meanings. 

IMGP2129Even after a year of consciously decluttering, consciously consuming, and consciously living, Dustin and I still wound up with an apartment full of stuff.  There was only one little difference.  It was now OUR stuff; a commingled mess of miscellany.  Two minimalists combining their belongings only doubles the amount of stuff and prolongs the downsizing process.  In a way, I hoped this would happen.  I was feeling stuck with my things.  I didn’t know how to move past things I labeled as “necessity”.  Of course, these things had no actual function.  Moving gave me a fresh start, a new environment, and a new lens to view my lifestyle through.

IMGP2131The significant downsizing in our environment was excellent motivation for sparking another round of “let’s get rid of shit we don’t’ need”.  As two people now living under one roof, we could identify which items were unnecessary for our day to day lives.  We donated things like un-used kitchen gadgets, clothes, and multiple sets of bed sheets.  We decided to grow up and get rid of our tapestries which cluttered our walls and prolonged the college hippie phase we’d much rather leave behind us.  Our artwork now consists of our own framed photography or simply a bare, white wall.  We donated bulky furniture items like living room chairs and ill-shaped coffee tables that only the cat used to sit on or hide beneath.  Finally, I got rid of meaningless trinkets and books I’d never read.  I’m not exaggerating when I say I got rid of 90% of my belongings AGAIN.  Yes, this is after I had decluttered everything in my last apartment, or so I thought.  Dustin and I joke that we’ve finally entered the realm of extreme minimalism (whatever that means) and I guarantee you, we still have progress to make.  We still have THINGS! We still have sentimental items, meaningful trinkets, and lots of plants.  However, we’ve achieved a new level of simplicity that has sparked immense happiness and creativity in both of us.

IMGP2154To a visitor, our home appears compulsive but cozy; sparse but cohesive.  This level of simplicity is the only way I feel sane balancing the work load of six classes worth sixteen credits, a part time job, and practicum hours for my teaching intent.  Opening my home has opened my schedule and my relationships with both Dustin and myself.  I’m anxious to share my journey as I make big-girl decisions while continuously simplifying my life.  My hope is to freshen up my blog, stay up to date with postings, and share more photos and maybe even videos about the changes I’m making in my life to better myself, my personal environment, and our natural environment.  Stay tuned, thanks for reading!

-Amanda Maria

An Evening with “The Minimalists”

It’s a Friday night in Madison.  My dad and I are sitting at a Culver’s chatting over a veggie burger and chicken tenders.  Like usual, I’m barely eating because I can’t stop talking about life, liberty, and the pursuit of minimalism.  My dad has definitely endured an earful of my minimalist preachings, but only because I know he can benefit from the idea.  Two months ago, I sent my dad a link to The Minimalists “Less Is Now” tour when I saw that they were coming to Madison. Two months later, the night has finally arrived.

About a year ago, Dustin introduced me to the “The Minimalists.” If you’re familiar with the minimalist movement, odds are you’ve heard of Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, who are two of the sexiest men at the forefront of simple living.  If you’re unfamiliar with their message, read their books, follow them on social media, listen to their podcasts, buy a ticket to their show, and check out their site. Joshua and Ryan are not only inspirational and relatable, but they’re excellent showmen. (Make sure you minimize their books afterward).

Madison is a diverse and progressive city that provided the perfect audience and atmosphere for The Minimalists to spread their message.  In a quaint but eccentric venue like the Barrymore Theater, Josh and Ryan told their stories and recorded their live podcast for a laid back Madisonian crowd.  Josh, having injured himself hours before the show, sat with his leg elevated in a wheel chair, but the pain didn’t damage his confidence.

After sharing their individual spiels, a live recording of The Minimalists podcast took place. Brave audience members lined up before a microphone and asked both practical and personal questions about their own minimalist journeys.  I had lots of well thought out questions to ask them, but preferring the safety of my computer screen, I remained seated.

After the show, I stayed to meet my idols.  Understandably, Josh was unable to do the meet and greet due to his sustained injury.  I waited in line to meet an enthusiastic and humble Ryan Nicodemus.  I gave him a big hug and was very pleased when he commented on our matching all black attire.  I also was filmed by their tour staff for a testimonial where I briefly explained what the Less Is Now tour meant to me.

MeandRyanNic

 

I had asked my dad to think of one “take away” from the show.  What was one thing that resonated with you?  What was one thing that inspired you? What was your “a-ha” moment?  Although I’m no stranger to The Minimalists or minimalism, I also took on this task.  It’s important to not become closed-minded once you think you’ve “mastered” something.  I’m very familiar with Josh and Ryan’s message, but I challenged myself to stay engaged as well as find an answer for my biggest question about minimalism.

What the hell do I do now?

After impulsively quitting my job, deciding to go back to college, and purging my life of material possessions, I find myself wondering what’s next?  Is there a second level to minimalism?  How do I maintain the simplicity?  How do I stay motivated?

My take-away was to stop setting goals.  After an audience member shared that he set lots of goals but had difficulty achieving them, I instantly related.  I often find myself getting too excited about new things.  I want to do everything at once from making my own cosmetics and cleaning products to planning elaborate camping trips and growing herbs.  I wish and waste away time by starting things, but never finishing them.  Although I may not hoard material things, I hoard goals.

Josh answered the man by confidently saying “stop setting goals for yourself.”  Josh and Ryan approach their goals by having one concept per year that they’d like to focus on.  This year, it’s their Less Is Now tour.  I’ve never been more motivated to stop setting goals and to stop making lists of excessive tasks I deemed “necessary”.  It’s really a very simple idea.

Focus on one thing at a time. Be present.

As for my father’s take-away,  I asked him to type up his response.

“Simplify, follow your path, and pursue what ultimately makes you feel happy and content.  Ignore society’s preconceived views of value and financial worth.  Take a direction that brings YOU bliss in your limited time on earth.  You can’t contribute to the world in a positive way unless you are truly happy yourself.”

No less than 24 hours after the show, my phone blew up with photos of my dad purging the cluttered depths of his basement storage room.  Three days later, I’m still receiving photos of miscellany that he’s removing from his life.  I’m so lucky to have shared this experience with my papa!  I hope you all can get something out of this too!  Josh and Ryan have just released the second round of their Less Is Now tour so get tickets for a show near you.  I promise you, it’s an experience worth your time.

#LessIsNow

Thanks for listening,

-Amanda Maria

 

 

An Interview with Another Minimalist

Today I’d like you to see where my motivation for becoming a minimalist came from.  If you’ve read through my other posts, Minimalism: How I came to be a Minimalist, you know that my own experience with minimalism sprouted when I fell in love with Dustin, my boyfriend and best friend.  He’s a handsome, intelligent and encouraging individual with an abundance of knowledge and advice about minimalism and other worldly things.   I decided to ask him a few questions about himself and his minimalist journey so I could share them with all of you!  Please enjoy this casual interview, (conducted over face-time) and some recent and some not-so-recent photos.  Without further ado, I give you an interview with another minimalist.

IMGP1748

What is your name?

Dustin.

Describe yourself in three words:

Curious, passionate, and self-driven.

Describe me (Amanda) in three words:

Neurotic, lovable, and empathetic.

What do you do in your spare time?

I read religious philosophy.  I listen to the Philosophize This podcasts, and I play The Witcher 3.

What are you studying?

Soil and waste management.

IMGP2292

How did you discover minimalism?

I discovered minimalism through Zen Buddhism and Zen Habits.

How long have you considered yourself a minimalist?

3 years.

How has minimalism changed your life?

I’m actually (genuinely) happy.  I started to achieve my goals and became the person I wanted to be.  I’ve become more connected with who I am as an individual.  My anxiety has been eliminated.  Minimalism helped me with finding a meaningful relationship with someone who shares my values.

What was the hardest thing for you to get rid of?

Sentimental items, book collection.

What’s something you no longer purchase?

I no longer purchase books, well, physical books.  I don’t keep up with buying the newest electronics.

What are your goals with minimalism?

I would like to have a more uniform wardrobe.  Financially I’d like to pay off my college loans.  I’d also like to continue reconnecting with my spirituality.

One piece of advice?

Start with your shopping habit, you’ve got to get rid of your shopping habit.  Create a budget/plan and stick to it!  For me, telling myself I can’t afford something helped, but in order for that to be effective, you have to define what “affording” means to you.  Will it be beneficial to you in the long run?  When downsizing, save the things that you like for last.  Those things are habits and habits take a long time to change.

 Anything you want to add?

I love you and I’m happy to start our new minimalist life together in a 500 sqft apartment with your cat who doesn’t love me back.

Thanks for listening!

-Amanda and Dustin