Depression in relationships

Last week was lighter than usual on the blogging front. You know how when life gets to be overwhelming, and then you distract yourself with blogs and social media, and realize those things are (shockingly) hurting rather than helping you deal with it? That was me. So I distanced myself a bit from all that and enjoyed a weekend of hanging with the puppies, visiting D.C., and soaking up the gorgeous weather that has (hopefully?) come to stay.

Moving on, today’s guest blogger is a former “Lucky” Ones interviewee, Sarah Greesonbach, who just launched an ebook on switching careers. It’s geared toward teachers who are second-guessing their path, but it’s packed with advice that I think could be helpful for anyone feeling stuck. Her post today touches on some of the overwhelming effects of a dark period in her own life, and how that affected her relationship with her husband.

witty title here guest post

couple shadow

Have you ever felt sorry for people who are in relationships with depressed people?

I have. Especially because often that depressed person was me.

Josh and I have been married since November 2012, so I thought it was about time to interview him about what I consider the darkest period of my life: a time when I felt trapped in my career as a teacher, stressed by our long-distance relationship, and overwhelmed by health concerns. Here’s Josh’s take on being in a relationship with me during that time.

Hi Josh, I guess it goes without saying that it’s kind of awesome we can talk about this stuff. But some guys seem put off by talking about depression. Why do you think you’re okay with it?

I’ve always considered myself more in touch with my feelings than other guys. It is very helpful when it comes to writing music and being a teacher, but most guys aren’t up for it. I like to think I’m above stereotypes. How humans act and feel has always been more interesting to me than the traditional dude stuff like sports and grilling.

That’s probably why I married you. Now, about that time a few years ago when everything seemed to suck to me. Did you know that I was depressed?

Yes. You would cry a lot and you didn’t want to do things. Things being anything that wasn’t being in bed and crying. I think I thought that us doing distance was very difficult so I didn’t know what to do about it. I thought that was more to blame than the teaching, so I looked for ways that we could be together more.

What made you feel better and what made you feel hopeless about the situation?

I would say being with you was nice, knowing that eventually we would live nearer each other and not do [the] distance anymore. Nothing really made me feel hopeless. I found ways to cope myself, by playing a lot of video games and developing a schedule like going to the movies, getting wings, that sort of thing.

What did you do to try to cheer me up that worked and didn’t work?

I left cute notes and things around the house. I also tried to text and call as often as I could… even though sometimes you would refuse to talk on the phone. We should have talked about that more openly, I think, too, to save some hurt feelings on both sides. It didn’t seem to work when I tried to talk to you about feeling better or to try to make fun, distracting plans. I like to have something to look forward to, but you didn’t want to feel obligated to go out and do stuff in case you were feeling low.

How did you feel when I told you I was considering going on anti-depressants?

I was worried it would change who you were. I grew up thinking that medicine like that makes people act differently and out-of-character. Now I think I understand that it allows people to be more themselves during a rough patch (or long term).

Were you ever depressed during this time?

Yeah, definitely. I was teaching at that time too, and I resented having to show up early and try to be of service to students who were often unappreciative when I wanted to be spending time with you. I would find myself staying up really late to be intentionally out of it for the school day. That way I wouldn’t really be conscious of the day and be in a dream state ’til I got home. I really lived for the weekends.

What advice do you have for dudes (or just people) in relationships with someone who is experiencing depression?

I would say to call them a lot. Even if you don’t feel like talking, making yourself stay in touch with friends and family is really important. You and I would have Skype dates when you didn’t feel like talking, and we would spend a lot of time just being together instead of filling our weekends with things to do. Focus on the fact that the distance won’t last forever, and if it will, consider fixing that. You should also consider seeing a counselor—the person who is depressed and the person in the relationship with them can both use some perspective, tips, and just someone to talk to to make sense of it all. I think it would have helped me a lot to go to church more regularly during that time, too.

 

I’m so grateful that Josh and I were able to get to the place that we could speak candidly about this time in our lives. It certainly wasn’t so easy at first—there were miscommunications, misunderstandings, and just plain arguments all through it! But open dialogue and focusing on our priorities allowed us to grow and blossom together. Especially in the case of long-distance relationships, this kind of rough beginning can make the first year of marriage (and hopefully the rest) seem like a piece of cake!

Have you ever dated someone who was depressed or been the depressed one? What would you ask your spouse or partner?

sarah greesonbach

 

Sarah Greesonbach writes and curates the lifestyle and personal finance blog Life [Comma] Etc. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter for commentary and hot links, as well as pictures of her husband and cat (both are super-cute). She releases her first eBook this month, Life After Teaching: The Hands-On Guide for Transitioning Out of Teaching and Into a New Career.

 

 

 

 

Want to be a guest blogger for Witty Title Here? Send your pitches to me at wittycassiehere [at] gmail [dot] com.

Let the words bang out

rainbow

I know that I’m not supposed to bother
you, he said.

you’ve got that right, I
answered.

but, he went on, I want to tell you
that I was up all night
reading your
latest book.
I’ve read all your books.
I work in the
post office.

oh, I said.

and I want to interview you for
our newspaper.

no, I said, no
interview.

why? he asked.

I’m tired of interviews, they have
nothing to do with
anything.

listen, he went on, I’ll make it
easy for you, I’ll come to your
house or I’ll buy you dinner at
Musso’s.

no, thank you, I said.

look, the interview isn’t really for
our paper, it’s for
me, I’m a writer and I want to get
out of the post
office.

listen, I said, just pull up a chair
and sit down at your
typewriter.

no interview? he asked.

no, I answered.

he walked
off.

they were coming out on the track
for the next race.

talking to the young man had
made me feel
bad.

they thought that writing had
something to do with
the politics of the
thing.

they were simply not
crazy enough
in the head
to sit down to a
typer
and let the words bang
out.

they didn’t want to
write

they wanted to
succeed at
writing.

I got up to make
my bet.

no use letting a little
conversation
ruin your
day.

- Charles Bukowski, “between races”

 

What are you writing for? Or what’s keeping you from writing? And where’s your crazy? (On a different note, do you think you’d be a writer if all we had were typewriters like, um, people not that long ago had?)

My goal this week is to focus on the next word – not where it will end up, or who will read it. ‘Cause obviously Charles Bukowski didn’t give a shit. Who am I to do otherwise?

Interweb Finds: loving words, a photo essay on cancer & more

@wittycassiehere on Instagram

This weekend, I ditched the 2008 flip phone and traded it in for an iPhone. I was skeptical at first about joining this “club” but quickly got over that. I’m having way too much fun swiping back and forth between screens and am already improving my texting skills. (Those letters are so tiny!) I’m also now on Instagram, so if you’re there too, let’s be Instagram friends! If you have any suggestions for apps I just MUST have as a blogger/photographer/person who doesn’t know how to change a tire, let me know in the comments.

Here are some of my favorite web finds this week:

For the past three months, I’ve written for the delicately named Pooping Rainbows blog. Here’s my latest piece, “It takes so little.”

We are all writers (and, as Alexandra Franzen points out, we average more than 40,000 words per year in emails alone). So if you’ve ever found yourself saying, “I hate writing,” think about what you really mean, and then use these suggestions to get excited about words again.

These Hong Kong “apartments” are so small, they can only be photographed from above. (And I cannot believe that home prices there average at $1,300 per square foot.)

A beautiful essay by a California writer on being a “California writer.”

The site 99u is one of my favorite new finds. Here are two recent articles: Are you (subconsciously) afraid of success? And two epiphanies on negotiating—and seeing it as a challenge, not a threat.

A heartbreaking and poignant photographic essay: “The Battle We Didn’t Choose: My Wife’s Fight with Breast Cancer.” Warning: You will be moved and cry.

Give me. I love everything about this Apartment Therapy L.A. house tour—pink and green bath tile included.

 

Read or find anything good on the webz lately? Leave a link here, and don’t forget those app recommendations. I’m off to soak up the rest of my long weekend—Happy Easter!

Through the Lens: photos from March

through the lens outtakes

March was an interesting month. I felt like I was in a holding pattern pretty consistently throughout, just waiting for someone to tell me how the rest of the year would pan out. I spent the majority of the month toiling over the site redesign, often getting so frustrated with code that I wouldn’t touch it for a couple days in a row. Did I mention I’m not a designer? There were times when I really wanted to give up. But then, I would figure out something as simple as getting the body text justified (to the left, to the right—see those smooooth edges?) and treat it as one of my life’s greatest victories—and then go back to lamenting over Google fonts and incompatible browser issues.

But, as you see, I figured it out for the most part! I’m scrappy like that. And it wasn’t all torture. As you can tell from the photos above and below, there were some fun parts about (re)branding this here space. All the new photos of me you see around the blog were taken by John, whom I corralled into acting as my professional photographer in an afternoon conveniently scheduled after a fresh haircut. (This had to be done properly.) Of course, there were outtakes. I don’t take myself too seriously.

outtakesAnd even though March was so busy that I almost kinda forgot to actually come up with new content ahead of time—as I’ve grown accustomed to doing—I didn’t forget to take pretty pictures. Due to my obsession with the new Nikon, it had been awhile since I took out the Minolta, so I decided to mix it up and do a little bit of film and digital—the best of which are featured in this month’s photo round-up:

by the water

portrait dramatic lighting

girl and dogThe two photos above are of my youngest sister, Elsbeth (11), who asked me to take some shots that would go in her fifth grade graduation slideshow. I was honored to do so, and Iris was elated to make a guest appearance.

Baltimore Normal's book store

Baltimore Normal's book store Baltimore Normal's book store Baltimore Normal's book storeNormal’s book store, pictured above, is a Baltimore landmark. John traded a bunch of books for a bunch more as I contemplated buying one of those cool dinosaur reads. I was happy to see my girl Patti Smith front and center in the vinyl collection.

Out-of-character (and out of morbid curiosity), we ventured downtown on Saint Patrick’s Day and shared a few drinks with my dad. I say “morbid curiosity” because holy crap, Baltimore gets sloppy. (But what American city doesn’t on such a revered cultural holiday… I mean excuse to get drunk?) Great for people-watching, though. Plus, I made friends with some drunk girls in the bathroom, which is just a thing us girls seem to do.

dog on Saint Patrick's Day Canton Saint Patrick's Day Baltimore rowhome Fells Point facade

Baltimore rowhomeThe door made of plywood on that rowhome doesn’t exactly sum up Baltimore, but it is so very Baltimore. And those crazy building facades, with nothing but sky behind the windows? I guess I missed the memo on that one. But good for Fells Point for preserving the history while they fix things up. Oh, and that’s the Virgin Mary in the background of the last shot, FYI.

Even though it was cold the last couple times we ventured downtown, I so wanted to explore more of the city streets and take tons of photos. The places that I think would make for some of the most interesting compositions are also, coincidentally, often the most dangerous parts of town, so I don’t take my chances. But the architecture, the mural art, the grit, and the faces all around the city are so photogenic. I can never leave my camera at home.

As yet another month races out the door, I readily embrace April. It probably won’t be any less hectic than March, but I’m hoping it will finally bring some warm weather around. In true spring cleaning fashion, I want to get busy paring down on all the crap I own. For such a tiny (and usually tidy) above-the-garage bedroom, I sure have a lot of unnecessary stuff in it. Hopefully a less cluttered home will make for a less cluttered mind, because I’m ready to get some freelancing biz going. What do you have going on in April?

The big reveal

If you’re reading this post via email, RSS, or any other reader that doesn’t give you the full aesthetic experience of Witty Title Here, you might want to click through to the actual site. I’ve made some visual improvements. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

WTH logo

There. A site worth your loving gaze.

It’s been a long time coming, but Witty Title Here got a much-needed makeover, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the results. The old site did its job, but this design? Inspiring.

It took me long enough. I poured over hundreds—nay, thousands—of themes online in search of an attractive and user-friendly premium set-up. The layout is similar to what I had before, but the design is a complete transformation. I wanted something eye-catching—something that incorporated my photography and better captured my personality. I also wanted the satisfaction of designing it myself, and design I did. The new header, background, and sidebar content were created by yours truly. I briefly lamented the fact that I didn’t have access to Photoshop, but you know what? Everything you see was created in Pixlr and Picmonkey. Fo’ free. (I get the same pride in revealing this to you as I do whenever someone compliments my shirt and I say, “Thanks, it’s from Target!”)

I did have help when I got stuck, though, and I couldn’t have done it without the expert tips of Diana and Megan who came to my rescue when I was having coding issues. I’m proud of myself for making it through to the other side and am thankful to have had help along the way. I know a lot more about CSS now than I did just a couple weeks ago. Which is not saying much. But still.

These changes come at an exciting time for me. I’m mapping out the rest of 2013 right now, and Witty Title Here is going to play a big role in my life this year. Aside from the visual changes, there are two major additions in the navigation menu above:

- A hire me page. As many of you know, I’ve written for publications like Urbanite magazine and Bmore Media in the past, and I’m ready to revive my portfolio by pursuing more freelancing opportunities. WTH has been my primary focus since leaving Urbanite, but I’m anxious to get my site working for me by helping me land gigs. More to come.

- An advertise page. Advertising on WTH is easier than ever. This page is a one-stop shop for promoting your blog, small business, ebook, and more. Plus, it’s cheap. Help keep this site running smoothly (and my car Bertha’s gas tank full), and I’ll give you some exposure in my sidebar. If you purchase an ad between now and the end of March, you can use the promo code “REDESIGN” for 15% off the already low price.

outtakes

This has been one hell of an undertaking and well worth the wait to get everything up and running. I learned a lot not only about code, but about patience (or my lack thereof) and letting things go. I could’ve spent another week tweaking. Or I could’ve gotten done it to the best of my abilities and put it out there. Sites should never be static, and I’ll always be improving regardless. Change is inevitable, so it was time for me to make the decision to keep my momentum going. Look, guys, I’m not just talking out of my ass around here! I’m making the improvements I said I would make!

There will be more to come surrounding this launch, but for now, please have a look around and tell me what you think. Now would be a good time to check out the new and improved looks over on Facebook and Twitter, too. If you notice anything that looks funky (even in the archives, if you’re browsing there), please let me know—I may not be aware. (It also helps to know what browser you’re using when reporting bugs.) The site is also mobile responsive, so it should work well on your iPhone or iPad, too.

Thanks for making WTH a place I love and look forward to writing for every week. All the comments, likes, shares, and support mean the world to me, and I hope this site continues to be a place where you find entertainment and friendship. Oh, and don’t forget the poop humor. Always the poop humor.

Wittily yours,

Cassie

StudioPress Theme of the Month

Embracing cultural identity

Guest writer Manda (who is currently in Taiwan for a month!) of Break the Sky shares a post today that I find fascinating—especially because I don’t strongly identify with any one heritage. (I am very much a European mutt.) Read Manda’s story and feel free to share your cultural background and how you identify with it in the comments.

guest post series

cultural identity

The “race” question in the demographics section of any questionnaire always leaves me stumped.

The other questions are straightforward enough. How old are you? What is your marital status? Highest level of completed education? But when I get to the section that asks What is your race/ethnicity?, I usually am faced with the following options:

  • Asian/Pacific Islander
  • Black/African American
  • Caucasian/White
  • Hispanic
  • Indigenous/aboriginal
  • Latino
  • Other

Only occasionally do I have the option of “two or more races,” and even more occasionally do I get to check off more than one box to indicate just what races I claim in my title of “two or more races.” Usually I just end up checking off “other.”

I fall in the category of bi-racial, technically, being half-Chinese and half-American. Sometimes I debate over just checking off “Caucasian/White” or “Asian/Pacific Islander” and leaving it at that. But then that raises the question of consistency on the off-chance someone were ever to audit all the surveys I’ve answered in my life that asked me the race question (“Why were you Caucasian one day and Asian the next?”). When I took the PSATs years ago, I asked my proctor if I could check off more than one box. He said no, I had to pick just one. “What, you mean pick whether or not I relate more to my mother’s side or my father’s side? Like, pit one parent against the other?”

He raised his eyebrows at me and rolled his eyes. I ended up checking off “other.”

It’s not just in menial survey questions that I struggle with how to relate to both sides of my heritage. To my American friends I’m Chinese—to my Chinese friends I’m American. I’m the one my American friends will go to for questions about Chinese food or chopsticks, but my Chinese friends would laugh at the thought of me being an expert on those topics. (For the record, I am the first to admit that I don’t hold chopsticks correctly. You’re not supposed to cross the chopsticks at all, and I sometimes do. Oops.) I’m the one my Chinese friends will ask about American pop culture, but amongst my American friends we joke about how I’m a “pop culture void” because I have zero knowledge about the majority of pop culture references that most Americans grew up with.

I grew up and studied in both the U.S. and China/Hong Kong. I have family in both places. I speak both languages. I try to celebrate the culture of both sides of my heritage: Christmas is as important to me as Chinese New Year, Thanksgiving as Mid-Autumn Festival. I’ll wear my favorite ancient Chinese coin necklace to match my Pandora charm bracelet. My closet has both a qipao and a little black dress. I’m as happy eating a bowl of steaming wonton noodles in soup as I am macaroni and cheese. I love that I have two heritages, two cultures to learn from. I wouldn’t change it for the world, and I’m fortunate that even as a child I never felt insecure about identifying as being Chinese in my American schools, or American in my Chinese school.

Would my life be easier if I decided to pass myself off as either white or Chinese, foregoing one culture for the other? Perhaps. The question of my cultural identity would almost certainly be. But that would be a ridiculous thing to do and honestly, who cares? If people have an issue with me being the product of two cultures and identifying as a part of both, that’s their problem and not mine. I’m going to enjoy being as in touch with my heritage— both sides—as I possibly can. Maybe one day the small things, like survey checkboxes, will catch up to me.

Amanda OsborneManda is a recent college graduate beginning her career in public relations. A world traveler, she’s always dreaming about her next travel destination, although her home city of Hong Kong will always hold a special place in her heart. Other things she’s passionate about include books, cupcakes, makeup and tea. She has a tendency to listen to her favorite songs on repeat and has been known to crave noodles at 2 a.m.

photo credit: Kevin Krejci via photopin cc

Interweb Finds: One plastic beach, mailbox art & more

Happy Amateur Drinking Day! At least, that’s what Saint Patrick’s Day in Baltimore more closely resembles. Thursday was John’s birthday, so it was one long weekend of celebrating with food and drink: steak, salmon, rockfish, tacos, sangria, Guinness, and two cakes—one of which my was my first-ever attempt at a cheesecake (oreo to be precise)—were devoured. And it was delicious.

Too-tight pants aside, I’m still working on my site redesign and hope to reveal it in the next week or so. The only thing holding me up is Google fonts not rendering on Firefox. If any designers/coders know of a quick fix… holler at your (painfully white at the moment) girl. CSS has me cross-eyed.

So the links:

Watch this video and believe in soulmates. Richard and Judith are artists who collect plastic from a beach in Northern California… and create some pretty spectacular art.

The bloggers behind Note to Self and Pugly Pixel have great resource directories for all things design.

I love subscription-style gifts, and I’d like to give this one to myself. Papirmasse sends original art ranging in mediums directly to your mailbox every month. If only I had more wall space.

This Echo Park house tour features a super modern home with a lot of funky and personal touches to make it feel cozy. (Not to mention this chick’s clothes/shoes/jewelry collections are CRAZY.)

I’m in love with the sassy Ash Ambirge’s blog on her site, The Middle Finger Project. Her post about the importance of having heart got me all teary-eyed at work.

Really cool images and video of what sound can do to water. (John made a good point after watching this—imagine what must go on inside our bodies, which consist mostly of water, when we listen to music.)

A Republican senator changes his stance on gay marriage when he finds out his own son is gay. (If only it didn’t take his own son being gay to have empathy, but at least it’s a positive change.)

Hope y’all had a good weekend, and if you’re out celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day, be careful and don’t talk to strange leprechauns.

Life without stuff: choosing a minimalist lifestyle

As someone who loves lots of clothes, books, and art (and regularly paring down those collections), I’m fascinated by today’s guest blogger Ashley Riordan’s minimalist lifestyle. Here, she explains why she made the decision to get rid of her unwanted stuff and how it has helped her live a more fulfilling life. 

guest post series

minimalism

I started my life as a minimalist before I knew anything about minimalism. I was a grad student buried in debt when the economy made an obvious turn in the wrong direction, and for the first time in my life, I felt like I couldn’t count on many things I had never even thought to question before. Some people respond to uncertainty by hoarding stuff. I responded by getting rid of everything.

In the years after I graduated from college and moved to California to start grad school, I developed a strange relationship to money and stuff. I had always worked really hard and had never made any major mistakes, so even though I was struggling to support myself, I had this blind faith that things would work out. I felt entitled to a pretty simple lifestyle where I could buy the books I wanted to read and live in a quiet apartment alone and work only a reasonable number of hours. When I saw my credit card balances, I thought to myself that there were things more important than money. Once I was already in debt, I used shopping as a form of distraction. The way I survived the stress of finishing my thesis and applying to PhD programs was spending the rest of my time in Sephora.

Deciding to pay off my debt was about fighting through layers of self-delusion. I had to admit that I was someone who could make a huge mistake. I had to admit that for a smart and responsible person, I had been behaving very stupidly and irresponsibly. I had to learn that what you can afford has nothing to do with what other people are doing or what you think you deserve. I had to learn that you can only enjoy the things that are more important than money when you’re not drowning in debt.

The way I lived when I was paying off my debt was not how I wanted to live forever, but the remarkable thing was how little not buying stuff affected my happiness. I was working 15 hours a day, and yet I wrote more than I ever had before and made some of the best friends I’ve ever had. I had plenty of time to think about what I would buy when I could afford to buy things again, but when I finally paid off the last dollar of my credit card debt, the only things I bought were a flight to San Francisco, a new pair of purple Chucks, a couple pairs of jeans, and a tiara.

Spending more than a year not buying anything had cured me of the delusion that I could create the life I wanted out of stuff. Shopping is pretty boring when you know that nothing you buy will make a real difference in your life. I actually had to mourn that loss and then find excitement in more worthy activities. It was on a shopping trip about five months after I had paid off my debt when I first thought that maybe I should write about that thing where I kept getting rid of everything I owned. It had been going on for years by then, and I had barely ever questioned it. For a long time, I quickly replaced what I gave away with new things, so it wasn’t until I stopped buying new stuff that large spaces began opening up in my apartment. My closet looked like a museum of empty hangers.

I started to think consciously about what I was doing for the first time. Minimalism is misunderstood both by people who try to make it too simple and people who try to make it too complex. Minimalists are easy to criticize, because it’s the rare person who lives with so little that she can’t be accused of excess. I have seen people dismiss minimalism completely because the person writing about it uses too many words and is therefore a hypocrite. I have never been involved in anything more susceptible to hypocrisy than minimalism, and I study theology, so that’s saying something. I found my way to minimalism by accident, and I have continued on this path by walking very slowly. I always feel like I’m going in a direction, but I have never arrived, and now I don’t expect to.

You can look at the number of things I own and see my efforts toward minimalism, but the important part for me has to do with how I spend my time. It took me forever to get here, since you can keep yourself busy for years with the work of becoming a minimalist, which mostly involves constantly getting rid of things and figuring out how to live with less. But I am finally at a place where the distractions are so few that I have to figure out what I’m going to do with all of the empty space.

You know how you can spend all day at work thinking about how you wish you just had some time to write, and then you go home and sit in front of a blank page and the intensity of the flashing cursor drives you to find any available distraction? Minimalism is a lot like that. It is pretty terrifying to get exactly what you want. It is easier to always be chasing the next thing. It is much harder to sit with yourself in silence. It starts to make sense that we surround ourselves with stuff and fill our lives with distractions.

Many people take a spiritual approach to minimalism, but my approach is really quite practical. Often when I’m writing about my struggles with it, I expect to be asked, “If it’s so hard, then why are you doing it? It seems like you’re just torturing yourself.” I am a perfectionist who is quite capable of losing sight of what she really wants in pursuit of what instead sounds very impressive, but I am not interested in being the girl with the fewest things, and my pursuit of minimalism is marked by uncharacteristic patience. I started because it would have taken more energy to stop myself from getting rid of everything I own, and I have continued because I am happier this way.

There are so many writers who never write, and I am determined not to be one of them. I also want to spend long hours reading. I want to finish my PhD. I want to have time for my friends. I want to travel. I want to see live music and comedy. I don’t want to spend my life jumping from distraction to distraction. I don’t want to wake up and wonder what happened to my life. I want to be present in moments. I don’t want to push my feelings to the corners of life because I have no time for them. I don’t want to judge my success by how busy I am. I don’t want to be scared of silence.

What I learned from first putting myself into debt and then pulling myself out is that you can’t underestimate the importance of money and stuff. I used to deny the amount of space they took up in my life until the crushing weight of debt was all I could think about and the only way to distract myself was to buy more stuff. Once I was free of debt, then I didn’t need distractions. I took that opportunity to pursue the things that actually matter to me, none of which are found in Sephora.

It is worth it to me to live in a small apartment if it means I don’t have to work more than full time. It’s worth it to me not to buy new stuff if it means I have time to study and write. It’s worth it to me not to own a car if it means I can get on a plane once a month and go somewhere new. It’s worth it to me to own only a couple outfits if it means I can go to a concert or comedy show every weekend. I’ll be the girl always wearing jeans and a blue shirt.

Perhaps the greatest gift of minimalism is that it makes me think about the choices I’m making. This isn’t just what has happened to me. I choose what I don’t spend my time and money on, and that makes it possible to choose what I do spend my time and money on.

 

Ashley RiordanAshley is a grad student who lives in a very small apartment in California. She is working on a PhD in theology, travels whenever she can, and blogs about writing, creativity, minimalism, debt, travel, introversion, and feelings at ashleyriordan.com. It probably took her longer to write these 61 words about herself than it did to write this 1422 word post.

 

Print in image above for sale here.

StudioPress Theme of the Month

Interweb Finds: Returning from space, March horoscopes & more

God, I love weekends. Am I the only one who goes to bed earlier on Fridays than any weeknight? I guess I shouldn’t use only the weekends to catch up on my sleep, but whatever keeps me going. Aside from snoozin’, John and I had a spontaneous date night on Friday with excellent burgers and beer. We also checked out a cool bookstore—I got a book on undertaking!—and snooped through one of Baltimore’s fanciest neighborhoods. I took out the ol’ Minolta for the first time in awhile. I’d missed the satisfying sound of the shutter release.

And now for this week’s web findz:

In case you ever take the beauty of this world for granted, here’s a video of astronauts talking about what it’s like to return from space (with some gorgeous footage of the Earth). I teared up a little.

Another not-so-natural wonder: photos of the first nuclear bomb detonated underwater.

Gala Darling has been doing a 10-part series on taking your blog to the next level. Not only has she reinforced a lot of what I believe, but she’s given me new perspective on where I should be headed with my blog. She also wrote an interesting piece of the effects of Mercury in retrograde. I’m officially blaming all my troubles on the planets.

For more starry reads: Famed astrologer Susan Miller writes incredibly detailed horoscopes. Check out your sign’s horoscope for March. (Fellow Libras, it’s going to be a month of highs and lows. Buckle in.) Also read this fascinating article about the woman behind Astrology Zone.

Why we think Jennifer Lawrence is our best friend. I totally do.

I’m loving this quote – “You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.” Taping this one to my wall.

I wouldn’t mind a stay in this pop-up luxury hotel.

 

Feel free to share some of your favorite finds in the comments. Have a great start to your week!

Through the Lens: photos from February

monthinphotos_pinkFor such a short month, February was pretty darn busy. The overarching theme? Planning. Life planning, new project planning, and blog planning took up a large chunk of time, and it will easily spill into the next several weeks.

I’ve already mentioned it over on Twitter, but at the moment, I’m working on a super-secret, SUPER-exciting blog redesign, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to reveal it in the next couple of weeks. It’s been a fun and painful process, but I think the payoff will be rewarding not only for me, but for you guys as well!

But right now is about the official kickoff of my newest monthly feature. Here’s a recap of the past month in photos:

DSC_0775 DSC_0776 DSC_0788John and I got our culture on at the Baltimore Museum of Art and tried a new-to-us restaurant with some delicious vegetarian food. (So basically, we were hipsters for the day.)

DSC_0800 DSC_0805 DSC_0828 DSC_0820I took advantage of an unseasonably warm day to go on a photo walk. And trespass on private property.

DSC_0860 DSC_0864 DSC_0866 DSC_0869I visited McKenzie and Rachel for some girly fun time. We played with our new cameras, did midnight yoga, and ate post-yoga pizza, potato salad, and donut holes. Obviously.

DSC_0924 DSC_0906I played with some of the awesome camera filters my grandpa gave me for a fun kaleidoscope effect. And then bought that expensive Lamborghini at the Baltimore Auto Show.

DSC_0890And who could forget the Baltimore Ravens’ victory in the Super Bowl earlier this month? Okay, maybe some of you have. But Baltimore sure hasn’t. (John’s comment on the above photo: “I have never smiled that much.” Which is a little sad and possibly accurate.)

DSC_0842Onward March! Things I’m looking forward to next month?

- The new blog design
- Answers regarding life plans
- Daylight Savings Time ENDS (thank God, sunlight!) and spring BEGINS (finally)
- John’s birthday… for drinking
- Saint Patrick’s Day… also for drinking

What do you have coming up in March?