There is a plethora of methods to cheat: cheating on your partner, cheating on a test, cheating on a diet. There are so many people you can let down when you cheat.

But what about cheating yourself?

Some people don’t struggle with this at all. I know some such people: they’re confidant in themselves—their choices and their abilities—the way that the rest of us can only envy. Due to some kind of allowance of independence since childhood, these go-getters do what they want and somehow what they want is always what’s right. They read the best books, listen to the best music, eat well, indulge in entertainment, have their dream job, and through it all: never appear to think twice about any of these daily decisions that scare the rest of us into passivity. What should I eat for dinner? It can’t be carbs, it can’t be fats, it must have protein, but I don’t like what I have in the fridge, I shouldn’t spend money, should I waste time cooking? PBJ again and pretend this never happened?

Those hyper-confidant friends are like sharks: they have to move to stay alive. Action is existence.

Conversations with ourselves like the one above can grow to consume our every move. This practice of neurotic forethought can be applied to anything and everything we do—and eventually construct a bubble of uncertainly around us. Then there we are, immobile. We gotta swim, friends!

Too often we get in our own way. Simple as that. There’s no divine or karmic roadblock that is preventing us from being happy—unless you consider yourself divine or karmic. If so, you’re on a whole other level, please leave.

Let’s just give ourselves a chance to be whole. I’ve found a few ways to get to a better place mentally to achieve this.

  1. Imagination. Regularly picture your life the way you want it. If you see yourself as a super-intellectual librarian, awesome! You have visions of yourself running a five-star restaurant in New York, cool! You feel your feet twitch as you picture a world-class ballet stage. Ah yeeuh! If you find yourself looking like a goddess and starring in a superhero scenario, bravo!
  2. Now picture ways to make these visions realities. You can’t develop superpowers. But you can be a tall, strong, beautiful, smart superhero to that neglected kindergartner in your class: you can create projects and activities that make that kid feel like he’s worth saving.

These are two pretty big mental adjustments, and each comes with a lot of baggage to sort through. So a few smaller, easier tips:

  1. Allow yourself the things that you see the people you admire doing:
    1. Manage your money well so you can visit coffee shops. Eventually, you’ll have found your signature drink that you can order with flair and finesse, like some kind of connoisseur.
    2. Manage your time well so you can get on Netflix and watch shows or documentaries; buy a gaming console and plunge into that whole world of virtual reality; make playlists on Spotify or iTunes; try lots of different podcasts until you find one that resonates with you, that you cannot start your morning without.
    3. Manage your weekends well so that you can travel, start a new hobby, volunteer, or host a get-together.

This is all easier said than done. Sitting down to start learning a new instrument, writing a blog, or any other thing you always thought you would like but never tried is the hardest part. There’s so much self-doubt, and adults give up really easily…

So here’s where the imagination comes back in. Grab that guitar, and imagine that you are Future-You: laid-back, confidant, and most of all—capable. Why is it so scary to give yourself things? Give yourself time to learn. Give yourself instruction, whether that’s getting another university degree, getting a tutor or teacher, or making a YouTube playlist of instructional videos. Give yourself grace: sure you can only play one chord, but could you do that yesterday? Give yourself treats–you made a DIY indoor herb garden and kept it alive for a week? Bust out the chocolate covered pretzels.

Just try stepping out of your own way once. It’s a lifelong challenge and an every-day obstacle, but after one time of seeing the path in front of you clearly without a roadblock that’s weirdly shaped just like you, you’ll be addicted to that freedom.

Don’t cheat yourself out of the reward of success.

via Daily Prompt: Cheat



When you were fourteen, you wanted to be sixteen: driving a car, getting a job, and–since you’d thus far been pretty sheltered–maybe finding another human who wanted to put their face on your face??

When you were sixteen you wanted to be eighteen: going off to university; doors to a new, smart, sexy, powerful you opening up around every corner; opportunity in the form of internships, study abroad, awards, applause, fingers tracing someone else’s naked skin danced just out of reach, but visible–seemingly.

When you stumbled out of that graduation ceremony, you glanced back. Just a quick look, checking to make sure that your past as you remembered it was still intact considering the person you are now, emerging from hallowed halls of learning with a diploma stating experience and capability in a field you never dreamed you would pursue. But as you look, quickly, just checking–you can’t turn back towards the future where that crushing press of responsibility and ignorance and wrinkles and loss emanates.

When you were twenty-five you wanted to be eighteen: fresh skin and wide eyes, seeing each new task and chore as a challenge. Still cultivating hope. Looking through a telescope of potential at an imminent career in which you were going to thrive.

When you tried to look back, at eighteen from twenty-five, to see if where you are now is where you had wanted to be, just checking, the telescope broke and shattered glass around your feet.



via Daily Prompt: Youth

Identifying Your Goals


You can be at any stage of life and still feel like you’re struggling to “live the dream.” Everyone around you seems to be fulfilling their destinies, while you’re barely taking steps in the right direction.

Do you even know what direction you’re going?

That’s what I want to talk about a bit in this post. I’ve been floating around for YEARS trying to live to the fullest, make an impact on those around me, create something unforgettable, basically: become a legend. Aaaand sometimes I feel like I’m in the exact same place as I was years ago.

As a youngling, it feels like you’re headed for greatness when you attend that bazillionth piano lesson, win first at the gymnastics tournament, or get all As again. There’s this vision that graduation from school will result in an automatic launch into a new life: a smart, put-together, attractive, successful you.

But—surprise—you have to construct your own future. Already in my 20s, I finally (finally!) realized that the world doesn’t know or care about you. It’s your responsibility to convince the world that it should invest in you and your goals.

Great, that all sounds good.

But what if you don’t even know what your goals are? Those piano lessons really led you to believe you’d be on a concert stage by now. So where the lights at, hm?

That’s kind of what happened to me. I grew up playing and performing music. I was making money playing music three years before I was legally allowed to get a “real” job. I started teaching music two years before I graduated highschool.

So heading off to university, obviously, I should play music, right? But for whom? What would be my job? It’s amazing to look back and realize how those things just didn’t concern me. I had always played music and always would.

But as reality set in and the inescapable truth that music school is ridiculously expensive and that music jobs that actually pay are ridiculously scarce, I began shifting my focus without even intending to.

It’s unbelievably difficult to look friends and family in the face and tell them that you’re transferring schools and doing a different degree from music. You can see them thinking “Ah, she’s giving up on her dreams….”


Music can now be a part of my life every day without becoming a chore. I can play the music I want when I want. If music were my job, I would have so many limitations and demands on my daily approach to music. If one’s goal is to play in a symphony, then those demands are welcome challenges, but my goals with music—when it really and truly came down to it—were to play music for small, casual audiences. I can do that with a different day job. In fact, I can do that even more effectively with a different day job than with a music day job.

Thus and finally, we arrive at the point of this post. How do you identify your goals? Some of the best advice I’ve been given along the way was “Don’t think about what you’re willing to do every day, think about what you’re willing to do to get to a place where you can do that thing every day.” In other words, don’t think: ‘I’m willing to be a freelance musician—working weird hours, performing and dealing with nerves.’ Instead, think, ‘I’m willing to learn to be an entrepreneur—computer skills, business management, customer service—I’m willing to spend hours practicing to record, compete, attend festivals, collaborate, and take lessons; play what’s listed on repertoire lists for auditions; and spend time and money building a studio of students, supplying them with music, theory books, maybe even instruments, and designing individual curricula for each of them.’ If you’re not willing to do those things, you need to think about what you ARE willing to do.

Something that took me a solid twenty-five years to understand is that, yeah, you want to be passionate about what you do for your day-job, but things like daily, weekly, and yearly schedule; pay; and benefits really do matter. If you are able to work 7:30-3:30 and have weekends off, make decent money with healthcare benefits, you have more time and money to follow your hobbies and passions in those off-hours. Hello, music.

In the end, structure your goals around your lifestyle rather than your passion. You WILL choose something to do every day that you are passionate about. You might not be particularly passionate about financing, but you’re passionate about people: so there you go, day-job in a bank—who would have thought? This lifestyle also allows you to pursue your vast amount of hobbies and interests in off-hours and on the weekends. There’s security in salary and benefits. You feel comfortable and excited to use your spare time to try new things, build on old skills, meet new people, travel. Whatever takes your fancy.

Make a list of the Dream You:

  1. Dream day job: something that fits my lifestyle in terms of hours, salary, benefits, preparation work, environment (office, classroom, lab, etc).
  2. Passions: hobbies that you used to love, new things you want to try, things that will benefit your Day Job, things that will make you feel powerful and invigorated.
  3. Daily goals that you want to make into habits: “Drink water, exercise,” “Make a schedule for cleaning and organizing the house regularly,” “Practice the Adobe Creative Cloud suite every day,” etc.

The little stories I told today are just a few vignettes, I realize, and this list is pretty sparse. There’s no step-by-step guide to YOUR life. Only you can fill in the blanks.

“Introduction,” as they say

Introductions are strange. You’ve already had your first impression of me—site name, header picture, title, blog post title. Usually introductions are for the bullet points: name, rank, serial number; or in terms of a virtual meeting, content, vibe, aesthetic. You’ve got all that already, just from laying your eyeballs on this site.

So, here, first ever Everyday Essentialism blogpost. Me in a nutshell? Goals and intent for this blog?

Can the sum of a person’s character and worldview, history and experience be expressed in a 200 word “Introduction”?

This blog will be about Essentialism: a term I recently discovered and am practicing with varied success every day. In my own way, I’m a sentimentalist and a hoarder: this journey will be lifelong and full of hilarious failure, I’m sure.

But as I go, this blog will be the place that houses my discoveries about how to make daily life more orderly; how to care for your body, but watch that budget; how to be creative and experiment every step of the way—with cooking, make-up, whatever—and how to find your voice and things you’re passionate about.

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited. Let’s see what happens??