being known

photo by Béatrice Lechtanski

I know the mortifying ordeal of being known is real for too many of us, but consider this:

Someone saw you once and loved your hairstyle. Someone loves your laugh, how you scrunch your nose when you find something funny. Your birthday could be an old friend’s password. That one song you recommended to your crush a couple summers back could still be their favorite. You are in other people’s birthday party photos. Someone could have fallen in love with you on public transportation. Our lives intertwine beautifully and you, dear human, are a little piece of other people’s fond, lovely memories. Part of the ordeal of being known implies the ordeal of being loved.

My No-Buy Year Update

I had an update ready and then… life happened.

My boss decided to retired effectively shutting down our company. And then COVID-19 took over all of our lives.

So yes, I’m still on my no-buy but it’s lost it’s sparkle, it’s challenge fun challenge quality and now has become a necessity. Maybe I needed the practice before not buying became a necessity.

With that being said and in light of everyone going on in the world I feel like I have all of the material things I need and that’s a really reassuring feeling. Lately when I think of something I want it’s usually a book I’d like to read or new watercolors. I can live without those. I have books to read and watercolors to paint with.

Stopping shopping was sort of the easy part of the process. What’s been harder and slower is filling my days with more important things. Granted I do have a lot of extra time on my had while I job search. I wouldn’t say it’s quite turned into the spiritual, edifying practice I’d hoped it would be… yet.

Just in the last couple of weeks I have started painting with watercolors. I’m not great at it tbh. I looked up a couple YouTube videos on “how to paint tiny flowers” and I can now paint about 5 flowers over and over again. Every time it feels like a miracle that that little squiggle becomes a flower so I’m not tired of it yet.

I’ve also started reading poetry. Maybe because my poor frazzled brain can’t quite sit still long enough for a whole book but I can commit to a few beautiful poems. It feels like a luxury to read poetry. It feels like when I was in high school and I would memorize my favorite poems so I’d always have them with me.

So… poetry, watercolors and long walks with a dash of frantic job searching.

Hopefully a better update soon!

My No-Buy Year

On January 1,  I will begin a year long project – 2020 will be my no-buy year. The task sounds daunting and exciting, This post is to set forth my reasons and my rules for the year ahead.

I’ll start with the basics – the rules I’ve set for myself for the next 12 months.

I will not be purchasing any products in the following categories outside of replacements for products I completely use up and have no alternatives for that particular category.

The categories:

Clothing (includes shoes and accessories)

Beauty (includes skincare and toiletries)

Homeware  (decor, candles, books, pots, pans, etc)

Drive-thru fast food. This one is just extra embarrassing and I definitely didn’t want to include this for all the world to see but even though I’ve given up eating animal products I could (happily) live on french fries.

The rules:

Am I allowed to buy new makeup, skincare, clothing, or homeware? No.

Am I allowed to replace things that break? Yes but only if I don’t own any other item that will suffice.

Am I allowed to replenish products that get used up? Yes but with the same caveat as above. I have a couple of deodorants and a travel size one. When My favorite deodorant runs out I can’t replace it until every single deodorant is used up. THEN I can repurchase my favorite.

Am I allowed to buy gifts for others? Yes. I love buying gifts.

Am I allowed to receive gifts? Yes.

Am I allowed to receive gift cards? Yes, but they will be treated as money and will have to spent in line with my rules. (or saved until next year I guess.)

Am I allowed to go to Burger King and get Beyond Beef burger with a friend? Yes, but no drive-thru’s. I have to go inside.

The exceptions:

Health. If I moved to Antarctica this year I’m allowed to buy snow gear. If my current sunscreen goes bad before it’s gone I can repurchase a new sunscreen and not use the bad one. If I sit on my glasses I can buy a new pair. If one of my lipsticks goes bad before I use it up I cannot replace and will have to use one of the other lipsticks I already own.

Work. I’m in the process of looking for a new job and if that new job requires black pants I’m allowed to buy a pair of black pants. I am not allowed to buy a whole new wardrobe.

My Scentsy auto-ship. This one is tricky but for now this is staying. I have an auto shipment that comes every 3 months and that will be allowed to continue. I cannot add to what I already have in my order.

What is NOT included in the no-buy:

Food. I can eat in 2020! I can buy my favorite pickles and fancy blueberry preserves. I can treat myself to a diet coke.

Experiences. I can go out to eat, I can go to movies or concerts or plays, I can fly home to California and I can get facials and manicures.

All of these exceptions will stay within reason- I don’t want to buy stuff and I’m not looking for loopholes.

Why am I doing this?

The first and biggest reason is to change old habits that no longer serve me and the life I want. Aside from actual shopping I don’t love the amount of time I spend engaging in “shopping behavior” – browsing, scrolling, adding things to my cart then taking them out again, looking for things to want to buy. I want to stop using shopping as a distraction. It’s been an easy and convenient distraction from dealing with my mental health, family situations and future unknowns. I’ve lost touch with what I can afford, what I want, what makes me happy and what I’ll actually get use out of. These habits are something I’m no longer comfortable with. Not just the amount of money but the amount of time, brain power and energy I spend on these behaviorsis something I want to change.

I didn’t use to be a shopper but like I’ve mentioned above somewhere over the last few years I started shopping when I’m procrastinating, when I’m bored, when I’m lonely, when I want to cheer myself up. Things really took a turn after the 2016 election. And it’s so easy. I live alone, There’s no one to comment or judge when a package arrives or when I come home with another candle. There’s no one to say anything when I spent too much time reading product reviews on Sephora. It’s hard to admit this but shopping has become a hobby and almost like a nervous tick…. and I’m very uncomfortable with that.

An obvious response at this point would be to just shop less and my answer is I’ve TRIED. I need drastic measures, clear cut rules and going cold turkey. THis is what has worked best for me in the past and what I feel is best for me now. Couldn’t I just do a no-buy month? Yes, but my aim is lasting change and a month doesn’t seem like enough. I feel like I”ll get through the month and then treat myself for getting through. I do think short term no-buys or even low-buys can be helpful and effective for a lot of people but it doesn’t feel right for me.

The second why is money.

It feels sort of weird and wrong to talk about money on the internet but the whole reason for this project is already a little bit vulnerable so I’m just going to be really honest. I work full time and make enough to sustain myself. But sustaining myself and having extra money for things I don’t need aren’t the same and I’ve been spending more than I’m comfortable with. I have have future goals that keep getting pushed aside little by little by a lipstick here, and a throw pillow there. I will say that I’ve never let myself go into to debt with shopping (thank goodness) but I’m also not getting where I want to be. The feeling of not being comfortably prepared for the future will never be overcome by the excitement of a new eye shadow palette. I want to flip the joy of acquiring beautiful, new things for the peace and comfort of being more financially secure.

One of the things I’ve always told myself as I’ve justified my shopping habit is that shopping is my right. I work hard and it’s my money, so why shouldn’t I have the things I want? But (and I say this with a big sigh) it’s just not worth it any more. I’ve felt this way for awhile but I haven’t had the strength or will power to do anything about it. I’m tired of the little tinge of guilt that follows every unnecessary purchase. I’m tired of the feeling of knowing that I really can’t afford the thing I just bought. I’m tired of being afraid to check my bank account and be reminded of my unnecessary spending. I’m tired of realizing that I don’t have enough money for the things I really do want. And the dumb thing is I’m working enough and making enough that I should feel like I’m solvent… as long as I’m not spending all my money on things I don’t need.

What it all comes down to:

The other reason why I’m doing this is that I want to enjoy what I already have. And I have so much. Shopping as a hobby has created the habit of always looking for something new, something more and so I overlook what I already own. It devalues what I already have. One of my greatest hopes for this year is that it will help me look inward and find joy is what is already around me and to truly feel like I have enough. I know that my possessions do not reflect my value as a person but sometimes I forget. I don’t want to always need to find something new or different to feel happy.

So that’s it. I don’t think I’ve left anything out. I’m not trying to make myself miserable. I want to get to know myself better without always defaulting to unhealthy behavior. I want to stop using browsing and shopping as a way to distract myself from anxiety and depression. And I want to focus my time and energy on appreciating getting use out of the beautiful things I already have.

This is what it all comes down to: I still want to fill my life with beauty. But I want to focus on cherishing beauty that isn’t about “things” – relationships, spiritual practices, experiences and even myself.

Why am I sharing this project? Because even though I’m doing this to myself it’s still a little daunting. It will be a challenge and I want to be accountable. I’m excited but also a little freaked and I could use some cheerleaders. I know I’ll be so much less likely to fail if I’m accountable to even one person that’s following along.

the love of my life

IMG_9814Today I’m sending lots of care and heart eye emojis to the love of my life: me.

It feels a little awkward, a little unsure still but here it goes…. Vanessa, I love you. I love you for sticking around. I love you for trusting yourself. I love you for learning to be honest about all of it. I love you for celebrating the small stuff. I love you for being a warrior. I love you for failing big time and trying again. I love you for knowing when to call it quits. I love you for learning to take better care of yourself. I love you for knowing when to treat yourself. I love you for all of the growth you’ve experienced in the last year and a half. I love you for doing the hard, scary things that don’t get credit on social media. I love you for learning to breathe deeply. I love you for finding what you love again. I love you for having to the grace to let things and people go. For all of it. I love you.




just be here with me

Just be here with me.
Signed: the moon. The stars. Summer. Your still-hot-cup-of-coffee. Your daughter. Your son. Your lover. Your heart. The green grass. The wild flowers. The waters you long to swim in. The color yellow. The color blue. Your favorite poem. Your favorite blanket. The wind in your hair. The waves on the ocean. The mountain air. Your dad. Your mom. The rain. The ice-cream cone. The butter sizzling with garlic in the frying pan. The grocery clerk with sad, kind eyes. Postcards waiting to be sent. The city squirrel. The country squirrel. Jupiter. The photo album. Your grandmother’s rosary. Your favorite song. Ink and paper. Your best friend. The money in your wallet. The fork in your hand. Brushes and paint. Downward facing dog. The color turquoise. The almost invisible shade of pink. God. The skyline. The earth beneath your feet. Your passion project. The shade of a giant tree. This moment, right here, now. Your bones. Your belly laugh. Your breath. Your breath. Your breath.

101 in 1,001 {update}


for the new year i decided to check in on my 101 in 1001 list. i’m not going to lie… i haven’t looked at the list much since i made it but didn’t do as bad as i thought. going to europe was a big one that i was happy to cross off and paying off my car… but there’s still a lot more to work on. so far it’s a lot of friends, flowers, travel and perfume…

a little bit about the the 101 in 1001 project:

“the criteria for the 101 things is that the must be specific with a result that is measurable or clearly defined. they should also be things that require a some effort or work on my part. some of the things my list may seem super simple but hopefully they’ll kick off good habits that will stay with me longer than the 1001 days.”

is anyone else participating in the challenge? i’d love to see your list (i’m nosy like that).

i still like the idea of resolutions and i do love making lists so i’ll probably have another post up with more ideas but i like the start i’ve made.

start: 06 january 2016
end: 10 october 2018

for my heart

1. reconnect with my favorite high school teacher. does instagram count? i’m counting it.
2. reconnect with a friend from cardiff/london ysa. i was lucky enough to visit marielle and natalie when i was in england a few months ago. i love them both!
3. journal every day for 2 months
4. create a vision board
5. work/collab/do SOMETHING with chloe
6. attend the ballet. i was lucky enough to see ballet west with the utah symphony.
7. finish drawing of denham green garden
8. have a painting done of harlow

for my soul

9. attend the temple every week for 8 weeks
10. complete 10 days of truth
11. commit 50 scriptures to memory
12. subscribe to ensign magazine
13. read reread all general conference talks from the last three years
14. read scriptures every day for at least 30 days

for my mind

15. learn to play one song on the piano
16. read 50 new books
17. answer the 50 questions that will free your mind
18. complete the 52 lists
19. take a photography class
20. take an online class. i took chelsea’s foral arranging 101. it was so fun to have more flowers in my life. i still need to post pics!
21. take some kind of art class
22. use duolingo every day for at least one month

for those i love

23. mail a care package to my mom, brother and sister
24. send my grandmother flowers for no reason
25. make chat books for my nanny kids
26. bake a birthday cake for someone. i made the magnolia bakery’s red velvet cake for a coworker.
27. get harlow’s shots each year (2016, 2017, 2018)
28. make macarons for someone
29. get harlow’s teeth cleaned
30. make a music playlist for someone

for my blog

31. design (or have designed) a blog logo
23. reach 100k followers on pinterest
33. create a weekly blog series and stick to it for at least 4 months
34. meet 10 blogger friends (that i haven’t already met)
35. interview 6 people for a blog series
36. get business cards for my blog
37. complete a 30 day photo challenge
38. hit 2k followers on twitter
39. combine fb accounts and delete old one. i’m so glad it did!
40. take a blogger/social media workshop or conference. i took bri’s social media workshop and it was so fun & insightful.
41. participate in 6 ‘Roid Weeks
42. blog four recipes

for fun

43. pay for the person behind me in a drive-thru. i did it twice. (once because i accidently cut the guy off and didn’t want to ruin anyone’s day.)
44. visit the party house
45. attend high school reunion. so i didn’t acutally go but i did reconnect with a bunch of friends on fb. there’s not another one before the list ends so i’m crossing it off.
46. attend or organize some type of mission reunion.
47. make a flower crown
48. build a sandcastle
49. go on a blind date
50. use up a roll of film and get photos printed
51. go to a sporting event
52. go to an outdoor movie
53. start and fill up a sketch book

for a simpler life

54. go one month without eating out
55. produce zero waste for two weeks
56. do 8 zero waste shopping trips
57. go two months without buying any beauty products
58. create a capsule wardrobe
59. unsubscribe from all junk emails
60. clear out and get rid of storage unit
61. go through/clear out items stored at my mom’s house
62. go one month without shopping

for my wandering heart

63. visit a state i’ve never been to
64. visit england and wales. i went back to england and it was so, so good for my heart.
65. visit portugal
66. visit new york
67. take a road trip with a friend.
68. attend paris fashion week
69. spend a day at butterfly beach

for my health

70. get new health insurance
71. compile my own cookbook
72. do a raw diet for one month
73. go to the eye doctor. i did it and got cute new specs.
74. find (and go to) a doctor for a physical
75. run a mile without walking
76. lose (xx) pounds
77. do 20 push-ups every day for one month
78. give up soda for at least two weeks
79. floss every day for at least 30 days
80. go to the dentist
81. take a class at dash fitness
82. find a workout i love and stick to it for at least 3 months

for my wallet

83. pay off my car. huzzah!
84. reach (xxx) credit score

for my tastebuds

85. eat a lobster roll
86. go to magnolia bakery
87. make the perfect lavender mint tea latte
88. make perfect (to me) hummus

for my practical side

89. repair/replace laptop
90. buy a nice bed
91. find a place to rent that I love
92. switch car insurance
93. wake up at 6 am for at least two weeks

for a splurge

94. buy a nice watch. i found a cute daniel wellington watch that i loved.
95. get my car detailed
96. get my eyebrows threaded
97. save up for a new handbag
98. get a pedicure
99. go to Disneyland
100. buy a pair of tieks. i got the taupe pair for my birthday and treated myself to the champagne pair for christmas.
101. find my “signature scent”. i fell hard for jo malone’s orange blossom cologne. i can’t get enough of it. i could go on and on… but i won’t.

one week

by gregg segal



Americans generate more waste than any other national population in the world.

In 2014 Gregg Segal asked friends and neighbors to save their garbage for a week then photographed them lying in it. “We’re victims of comfort and convenience. It’s hard to change your habits when it’s so much easier to use and throw away.” Segal tells Quartz. I don’t believe it’s only up to manufacturers though. One of the biggest things I took away from Trash is for Tossers is that with a little effort we can significantly reduce our impact on the planet.

You can view all of the photos here…. They’re beautiful and eye-opening.

Photo by Gregg Segal

happy birthday, dad

Processed with VSCOcam with a4 preset“you be the sun and i’ll be the moon.
just let your light come shining through
and when the night comes, just like the moon
i’ll shine that light right back to you.”

these words always make me think of my dad. he was loving and good and selfless and was always happy to let the people he loved shine – especially his children.
today is my dad’s birthday and while i’m focusing on being positive and thinking about how much i loved (love) him and how much he loved me i can’t help but miss him. no matter what was going on in my life or in his life i never once doubted or questioned his love for me. it was constant.

i was trying to think of a story to share about my dad and this is the first one that came to mind:

when i was younger i made a dumb choice – it was thoughtless and selfish and just so dumb. but i hurt and embarrassed myself and my family. i remember at the time thinking that my parents would never forgive me. they were hurt and disappointed. we had a huge field behind my house where we gardened and raised animals. one afternoon i was working in the garden with my dad and he said he wanted to talk to me about what had happened and the choices i had made. he was so serious and i was petrified.

he told me about a time when he was younger when he’d really messed up and how disappointed his dad had been at him. he told me how his father (my dear grandfather) didn’t speak to him for almost 7 years. i was so shocked and terrified that he was in some roundabout way getting ready to tell him that that was why he wasn’t going to talk to me anymore or something crazy. i stopped what i was doing and just stood, leaning against a rake, staring at my dad with a knot in my stomach waiting for the horrible conclusion to this story. and he stopped working too and looked me in the eye and very softly said, “the reason i’m telling you this is because need to know now that that could never happen to us. no matter what happens.”

he always let me know how important i was to him. even when my brother and sister chose to distance themselves from him we remained close. i’ll always be grateful i was there holding his hand as he quietly left this life. later, as i was going through his belongings i realized he’d saved every card, photo, letter and post card i’d ever sent him, along with things from my siblings and cousins and friends.

i’ve said, “i love you, dad” at least a million times in my life and many more inside my heart. the night he passed away as i was falling asleep at my cousin’s house i could still feel his hand in mine as it had been constantly for the previous weeks. and sometimes i still feel it. i know that death is the only thing that could keep him away and i’m so grateful for the knowledge that death is not the end.

i was trying to think of something to do on his birthday to honor his life and everything i thought of seemed so… not enough. so today i’m making and sending care packages to my siblings and trying to send some of his love back out into the world.

happy birthday, dad. i love you.

American Ballet Dancers and their Dogs

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Two of my favorite things – ballet & dogs! I came across these photos by Noe Dewitt and had to share them. I love bringing Harlow to work (and I think my coworkers like her too) because she lightens the mood and is good for a quick distraction if you need a little break. These dogs are precious too.

From top to bottom are Lauren Post & Pickles, Riley (in a tutu!), Sarah Lane with Hudson, Maya and Cora, The American Ballet Theatre Studio, Thomas Forster with Benson & Maisie, Devon Tuescher with Riley, and Sarah Smith with Hudson.

Also if you’re a dog lover I think you’ll love Noe’s blog: Mrs Sizzle.

Also I think Harlow needs a tutu.

All photos: Noe Dewitt