To Write or not to Write?

I love to write,

but not when it’s forced

or if I’ve been writing

too much.


I love to write,

but I find myself


without a pen.


I love to write,

but I also love

and favor



I love to write,

but cliches are born

when I try to be



I love to write,

as much as I hate it.


I love to write,

if the paper is nice.


I love to write,

if the pen writes right


the keys type right.


I love to write,

with the right light

when it feels right

to write.


-Amanda Maria



My New Business Venture: Black River Cargo

Long time no type my blogger friends.  I’ve been so busy reading and writing that I’ve had little time to read or write.  Now that is an English major’s paradox.

Truth be told I started yet another venture.  This time I’ve made a business out of it.  I welcome the over-flowing amount of criticism I may receive for this, but I started an Etsy shop.

But Amanda?! That’s not minimalism, that’s not zero waste!  You’re producing things to sell to people and feeding the capitalistic, consumerist, commercialism you so desperately rejected!

In a way… sure. Whatever helps you sleep at night.

In December, I quit my job and decided to focus on school.  Only a few short weeks went by and I nearly died of boredom.  So naturally, I took up a hobby.  I started sewing.  I’ve sewn in the past but sewn nothing well until I took the time to teach myself the basics.  After a few days and the creation of almost ten grocery bags, that little voice that eerily resembles my mother spoke up.

“You should sell this shit” it said.

So I delved into research about Etsy, spent sleepless nights sewing, and decided on the name of my shop:

Black River Cargo



I’m very excited to be sharing this with all of you and I hope you’ll support me in my venture.  As you know, I’m very passionate about living a sustainable lifestyle and I believe, with the help of sewing, that I’ve found my niche.  At Black River Cargo, I craft reusable grocery, produce, and snack bags to encourage consumers to ditch the plastic at the grocery store.  My products are made from thrifted and up-cycled fabric and they promote a sustainable lifestyle.  Because the fabric is thrifted, every item is unique!  My business cards are made from 100% recycled paper and the envelopes your products are shipped in are biodegradable.  Whether you buy my creations or not, I hope your take away is to support small business owners as a sustainable way to be a conscious consumer.  Get to know the people who are crafting your goods.  Shop small, shop hand made, and live sustainably!

Oh, and check out my shop 😉

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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


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.



Staring at a screen seeing the unseen.


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