Mindfulness

6 Ways to Declutter Your Life & Free Up Mental Energy

(This post was also turned into an episode on the Mindful Productivity Podcast. Listen here)

The end of the day hits and you feel drained. Not because you ran a marathon but because you made 1,000 decisions, wrestled over, even more, choices, and had to stay "on" around people that made you want to roll your eyes. You're not alone, you're a member of a pretty typical day for most people.

Life is pretty sweet these days with our iPhones and Netflix binges, but there's one element that drains us faster than we're aware of. That element is choice.

6 Ways to Declutter Your Life and Free Up Mental Energy

Even a decade ago there weren't as many shows at your fingertips, Buzzfeed articles about adorable animals calling your name, or endless flavors of potato chips, seriously.....do we really need a Sunday baked potato and onion chip? What if I bake my potatoes on Thursdays?

The point is that endless choices lead to overwhelming feelings of hesitation and self-doubt. I've experienced this first hand as I stood in front of 20+ jars of jelly and asked myself, "how can I even handle my own life if I can't decide what flavor of jelly to use on my toast?"

You're not having an existential crisis, you're just living in a time when consumerism has become so luxurious that we are flooded with choices. Maybe we shouldn't complain, right? But at the end of the day, couldn't we agree that life would be a lot easier, a lot simpler if choices weren't so vast?

I'm about to share with you 6 powerful ways to declutter your life to free up more mental energy. So you can get home and be present with your family your taco night, or your cat.

1) Make your daily choices ahead of time

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We leave a LOT up to choice and it can eat away at our mental energy in microseconds throughout the day. But these babies can add up. When you already know the basic answers to your baseline choices, it becomes something that you don't have to think about, and doesn't affect your energy levels. I used to make fun of my grandma in high school for this. The woman was 82 and I got to use her 1986 Chevy Cavalier as long as I took her grocery shopping every Tuesday. She knew exactly what she liked and what she wanted. Spearmint lifesavers, never peppermint.

As much as I judged her from my 16-year-old brain, the woman was doing herself some mad favors with her flavor preferences. Now, I'm not saying you should stick to your ways and never broaden your horizons or get all grumpy about it (I don't think she ever forgave me for getting the wrong mints), but consider areas of your life that you know you like doing certain ways and be mindful of that. This allows you to go grocery shopping with ease, know what you're taking for lunch, and stick to what conditioner you use so every trip out doesn't turn into 20 extra minutes of deep contemplation about whether or not you can make the "perfect" choice.

A few ways to make this happen:

  • Make your lunch the night before

  • Stick to a bedtime during the week, how often do you play that game about how much longer you should stay up?

  • Make a dinner meal plan if it helps you avoid the "I dunno what you do YOU want for dinner?" conversation

  • Decide where things go when you get home, so you know where to find them

  • Write down your core staple groceries that you like and always buy more of

  • Decide if you already have plans for the weekend (even if those plans involve yoga pants and This is Us marathons) giving you the liberty to know your answer to many questions ahead of time

  • Set your workout gear out the night before (it's a lot easier to get moving if one decision is already made for you)

Pro tip: Map out your days ahead of time with the Mindful Productivity Planner

2) Stop putting up with things in your home that you hate

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I don't mean to brag but I'm kind of an expert Sims player. I used to spend 6 hours at a time on my Mom's Gateway in the summer building houses and using cheat codes to make ghosts and create endless money (I'm pretty sure rosebud still works). One thing about The Sims is that the characters have little health meters for different areas of their happiness. Have them walk into a room with nice paintings and their mood would go up, turn them around into a messy kitchen and they'd get pretty moody.

We're not much different. We all have that one thing (if not more) in our homes that we've been putting up with for way too long. Maybe it's that weird scrub brush your aunt gave you for the kitchen that stars at you with those weird googly eyes every time you go to wash a pan. Maybe it's a step stool that never folds back up correctly and makes you unbelievably frustrated. Or maybe it's that piece of "art" someone gave you that just isn't doing it for you.

Newsflash. This is YOUR home and unless removing said object affects the wellbeing of someone else in your home, there's no reason you need to keep it. Find a replacement, donate things that no longer bring good vibes to the space. Ugly crap in our homes drains our mental energy. You aren't shallow for wanting to see nice things when you sit down.

3) Turn off your automatic "yes" response

My husband is so guilty of this (sorry, love). But I can be just as bad about it. Someone invites us to something, asks us for a favor, or even offers to give us something and we say, "sure! no problem! I'd love to! I'll totes be there. Yeah, I can do that." Until the moment it actually hits us later that we agreed to something.

Saying "yes" right away can feel like a good friend thing to do. We're being agreeable, helpful, positive. But when we always say yes to other people without honoring our ability and straight up right to say no, we end up saying no to ourselves and other things that matter.

Or even worse, we end up flaking on a commitment later because we never fully assessed our initial yes in the first place. By taking time to assess your yes (quite possibly a future book title right there) you are able to bring forth your authentic self and only give as much energy as you have so you can conserve the energy you need to take care of yourself. Plus, saying yes to everything always can make us really resentful of others in the long term and makes it confusing for them to know where our own boundaries are. Say no more, it's good for everyone.

4) Give that shit a home

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The minute I walk in the door my keys goes on a key hook right by the door. No excuses. My wallet also always stays in my purse. That means if I grab it to make an online purchase, it doesn't take a nap on my desk, it goes straight back to where it belongs. Keeping a strict place for everyday items boosts your mental energy and keeps your sanity in check.

There's no need to run around the house searching for your keys when you're already running late. Been there. Done that. And I can tell you from firsthand experience, that when I leave the house frazzled, I drive frazzled, and I get really impatient with regular traffic that never changes anyway.

A few tips to get you started:

  • Make a list of things you use or take with you every day

  • Decide on a strict place for those things to live, this is their home space (aww you're so nice)

  • Keep the coffee and the filters in the same place

  • Put the remote back on the coffee table (I get why people use velcro sometimes)

  • Have a safe place for your daily water bottle

  • Put important items or paperwork in an inbox and outbox near the front door so you always know what to take with you

  • Stick a dry erase board to a place you always look at before you leave to remind yourself of anything specific for a particular day

5) Give yourself 30 minutes in the morning before you check anything on your phone

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I'm still working on this one but it's one of my favorite ways to declutter and ease my mind. Rise and shine! Time to shine a bright light into your corneas and see what everyone is angry about on Facebook. Gross. Try mixing up your morning routine by abstaining from your phone first thing (it might just open up room to not abstain from something else.....oh, I went there).

A few things that happen when I do this:

  • Mornings become 180% less stressful (social media can really get a girl wound up, amirite?

  • I'm way less likely to be late - because nothing is distracting me

  • I read pages from real life books

  • I have time to sit out on my deck with my cup of black coffee (truly one of life's greatest moments)

  • I'm more present and mindful of the intentions I want to set for the day

6) Keep an ongoing list of things you want to do when you have free time

Wrapping this all back up with my initial theme of choice, if you have a list of ideas for things to do when you have some downtime, you'll avoid the overwhelm of making a decision. Because I don't know about you, but if my decision window of "what to do with my hour of free time" is longer than 45 seconds, it can often lead to feelings of guilt for not being more productive or that dumb voice that tries to talk you out of your you time.

Ditch all of that garbage and keep a fun list in your journal so you always have ideas. Need inspiration? Here are some things on my list:

Decluttering your life is so much more than how much you own. And sometimes it starts with how cluttered your mental space feels. Try out these tips and let me know how it goes. Enjoy this post? Please share it and spread the love <3

Love these tips? Find these strategies and more inside the Mindful Productivity Planner!

Mindful Productivity Planner


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40 Truths to Nourish Your Mind

40 Truths to Nourish Your Mind

Sometimes it's important to remind yourself of what you're really capable of, what your personal boundaries are, and what's most important to you. These 40 truths are powerful statements you can come back to when you need to be reminded of your worth, power, and your ability to make decisions that fuel your life and existence. Being mindful and living in the moment allows you to always come back to yourself and take the action you need.

The 4 key elements of a self-healing day

Holding space for yourself to heal mentally, physically, and emotionally, mind, body, and soul creates a wave of nourishment that will continue to propel you forward.

The four key elements of a self-healing day

Problem is that it's hard to make time for that space, awareness, and acknowledgment when to-do lists and other priorities seem so much more important.

Speaking from someone who has experienced major burnout more than once, I can tell you just how important self-care truly is and today I want to share four powerful ways to bring yourself out of a stressful space.

If you can do all four of these in one day you'll notice some amazing changes in your energy levels both mentally and physically and will be amazed at the emotional weight you'll release from your body. 

Sweat

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What it involves:

  • Moving your bodaaay
  • Physically challenging yourself enough to break a sweat
  • Yoga, walking, running, weightlifting, sports, HIIT, you name it

Moving your body gets endorphins flowing through your brain and can help your serotonin uptake receptors work more efficiently, meaning you'll get that boost of a good feeling that will last well beyond your booty hustle. 

You don't have to move fast or push yourself to the max to benefit or sweat, either. Slow mindful movements like yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and other forms of stretching increase vagal tone which then increases blood flow, reduces blood pressure and helps us stay in tune with our parasympathetic nervous system - the part that helps us calm down. 

Sweating and moving your body also helps you relieve stress, anger, and other emotions that may be hard to shake. 

Stream

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What it involves:

  • Journaling
  • Free Writing
  • Crying
  • Exhaling
  • Letting emotions flow

I remember the first time I watched the movie Fight Club and I was instantly drawn into the scene where a man admits going to support groups every night simply to cry and how cleansing it was. Truth is we don't always give ourselves permission to cry, there's a lot of judgment and stigma around it but allowing yourself to let it out and the process of crying can be so healing. 

If emotional waves aren't hitting you enough to cry or it's just not your jam at the moment, journaling can be just as powerful. Free writing (or writing from a place free of self-judgment and for no particular audience but yourself) allows you to release a lot of mental energy and declutter your mind. 

Slow down

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What it involves:

  • Meditation
  • Deep breathing
  • Stillness

Find a relaxing space outside, on your living room floor, or on your couch to be still for at least 5 minutes. Doing nothing and just being can feel awkward and uncomfortable these days as we're used to so many distractions and instant forms of entertainment.

Sitting still with our thoughts allows us to hold space for release, to let go of what isn't serving us, and to avoid the subconscious escapism that can be easy to run toward when we don't want to feel a certain feel or address a certain emotion. 

Soak

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What it involves:

  • A warm bath
  • Dim lights
  • Tranquil music
  • Relaxing bath salts, essential oils, or bath bombs

A cleansing warm bath with Epsom salts not only detoxes your body but it can also be a relaxing ritual to ground yourself and recenter your mind. Imagining your body releasing stress and soaking in love, energy, happiness, and peace can instantly shift your mood and current outlook.


27 things it's time to say now that I'm 30...

I'm not holding back in the following statements.

Some may offend you.

Some may "shatter" a comfortable mindset you've been clinging to.

Some you may blatantly disagree with (and for good reason) because YOUR life expeirence is again, different than mine, which is different from everyone else's. 

Some may have you saying "fuck yes!"

And quite frankly, I hope all of those make your list of reactions, observations, and mental remarks as you read this list of mine. Because it's crucially important throughout your life that you use the power of discernment. Which leads me right into #1....

27 things it's time to say now that I'm 30

1. The things that feel right to you are right for a reason (unless you're a serial killer)

The more you can trust in your gut, your intuition, and the voice that speak through your body in ways that can be hard to interpret at first, the more you'll find the callings of your soul. And the more you'll be able to say "no" to bullshit that doesn't serve you or your goals.

2. Friendship is about so much more than loyalty and history

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Don't stay with friends only because of time. People change. People shift and grow. Hell, you are going to change a LOT during a crazy transformational, possibly tragic, part of your life and it might shake you up a bit how many people you want to walk away from. There's a reason. You're changing. I have spent way too long clinging to old friendships (and even not so long ones) because I felt like they were the only people who truly "knew" me yet they had no idea who I was becoming which put me in a really weird dynamic of misunderstanding all around. 

Life is too short for ultimatums and high stake expectations of what you should do for other people. If you're feeling pressured from a friendship to constantly "prove" how much you care, it's not a good sign.

Bottom line, if a friendship doesn't feel good anymore, it's went through it's season. And it's your call whether or not you want to try to ignite it again or move on. Just make sure you're not expecting a new candle flame by trying to burn a candle that's run out of wax.

3. Family relationships are bound to change

When I was 13/14 I wasn't the best human being. I snuck out of the house at night to make out with my older boyfriend across the street, lied to my Mom, and chugged bottles of wine in my Dad's cabin trying to get drunk. I didn't have the best relationship with my parents and I didn't care at that time, either.

But beyond the rebellious nature of youth and varying "priorities" we're all bound to grow and shift as we enter into adulthood and with that comes new boundaries, new ways of seeing our parents and our family members, and sometimes new lights are shown on them, situations, and historic events that make us reconsider a LOT.

You may not always be as close to one member of your family as you once were, you may find that certain boundaries have to be put in place to keep them at a peaceful place. Know that just as much as life changes, so do relationships, opinions, and ways of being. 

4. Doing what you want is so much more important than doing what you think you should do

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Story time. When I moved across the country with my husband back in 2014, I spent so much time trying to find the next job that other people would be proud of me for. And I landed one, rather quickly. Within a month of moving, I was at a new job at a prestigious University - but I was miserable, I didn't have ANY paid time off, and I hated everything about it. 

5. Some of the decisions you make that bring you the most happiness will be followed by the least amount of support by your peers

Do. them. anyway. 

6. There's a power in stillness that you cannot find in any action you could take

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I've driven myself into burnout more than once and I've lived in a constant state of perfectionism that I still struggle with. My go-go-go attitude has gotten me results, sure, but it's also cost me aspects of my health and mental wellbeing along the way. We grow up thinking that "success" means working hard, never quitting, and always looking ahead to what's next, but taking time to slow down, to rest, to meditate, to do absolutely nothing can be some of the most powerful healing moments of your life. Make time for them, often.

7. I don't regret it (and you shouldn't, either)

I have made a lot of mistakes. I haven't always been the best person. I've been flakey, I've ditched situations I didn't want to be a part of, I've straight up messed up in my life. But if I hadn't I wouldn't have learned those lessons for myself. I wouldn't now own my mistakes and wouldn't have been able to truly improve upon them. 

8. Public "failure" is a ritual worth partaking in

Let's make it clear that there's a big distinction between failure and humiliation. I'm not speaking to the latter. We're all terrified of "failing" in public, of having others know that we didn't reach a goal, fell off the wagon, didn't stick with a commitment, or made a promise that we couldn't keep. It's rooted deeply in the praise of stoicism and the lack of awareness of the growth that happens when we fail. 

But the truth is that "failing" can make you vulnerable, but it can also help break the mindset that the only thing worth valuing is a perfect linear path forward.

Here are a few things I've failed at that have shown me that my worse case scenarios have never been true and have shown me truths of others I hadn't seen before:

  • I gained back 40lbs after losing 60 
  • I fell into a deep depression and was barely able to get out of bed for 6 months 
  • I had what some might call a "quarter life crisis" and in the span of 9 months I started and quit 4 jobs

And guess what? I'm still existing, thriving, and moving forward.

9. You're not special, none of us are

Put down the torch, this is actually a good thing. There's something within you that you crave to do, try, or desire, but you think you're not worth, or that you can't. Truth is all those people you look up to aren't any different in their ability to create change. Sure we all come from different backgrounds, cultures, and yes privilege plays a part in our society, but in terms of the mindsets that others have cultivated, you don't get to to pull yourself out of the race that quickly. You have more power within you than you have ever given yourself credit for, no matter how advanced you think you are, there's always more.

10. There's nothing you can do that will make you "less of a _______"

Do you know how many people have told me I wasn't a lady because I swear? 24. Actually I have no idea, it's probably way more. My point is that I'm not any less of a lady because I swear just like my husband isn't any less of a man because he doesn't eat meat. Anyone who makes statements about what it means to be a _______ that involves being a condescending $#%& , is plain and simple, incorrect.

11. Stop trying so hard to "be positive" all the time and just feel your emotions

Long rant I could write aside, being "positive" and shelling out cliche happiness quotes is not going to solve any of your problems when shit hits the fan. And side note, it's not helping anyone else, either. The key to true mental homeostasis is a consistent method of living your life, feeling your feels, releasing them in healthy ways, and finding down time to do what you need to do to rest and recover. 

Read: Why I no longer focus on gratitude lists and being more "positive" 

12. True gratitude comes from holding space for the shitty things

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Just like my last point, if you try to cover up negative emotions with gratitude lists, you're only "solving" part of the problem. It would be like seeing mold on your wall and giving it a fresh coat of paint. Doesn't matter what new shade the Home Depot HGTV Summer Pastel Beach Edition paint has... it's muted tones and surprisingly versatile texture won't keep new spores from growing. I'm ALL about being grateful and keeping notes about it in my journal, but I can tell you that when I acknowledge what's tough in my life as well, it makes those lists even MORE powerful.

13. Burning bridges can be vitally necessary to your health, happiness, and career

"Don't burn bridges, you never know when you might need xyz..."

Let me tell you something about the above statement because I'm sure you've heard it, too. Whether it's work-related, or a relationship, or a networking thing, if you live your life fearful of "burning bridges" you're going to keep a steady stream of people, situations, and outcomes heading your way that you NEVER EVER WANTED. And chances are, if you need to burn a bridge, quit a job on the spot, tell something to go eat a dick (#sorrynotsorry, that statement is always hilarious), or walk away from a toxic situation, there is a reason and it's valid. 

Sure, I shouldn't have stormed out of a dishwashing job in college and then laughed as they called me every 45 minutes because I didn't show up at my next shift, but I also knew I couldn't stay at a job that paid buttons and required me to work during finals week. That "burned bridge" resulted in absolutely NOTHING down the road. Why? Because my future wasn't in the restaurant industry and I knew that. 

Let's be tactical and not Office Space every job that gets frustrating, but let's also acknowledge that not only do we need to burn bridges sometimes but we also need to light those mofos on FIRE and make sure no one can ever reach us again. 

14. People will often do the opposite of what you need when you go through something tragic

When horrible things happen, people often clam up and don't know what to do or say. It's why we hear and say things like "I'm so sorry for your loss" or "tell me if you need anything" or "I can't even imagine." Nothing really wrong with these statement but they shine a light on how its natural to distance ourselves from grief and the grief of others. 

When I lost my Dad when I was 23, people got quiet around me, people didn't know what to say, people stopped talking about their own Dad's, and there was a huge assumption that because something awful had happened I wasn't allowed to laugh or smile anymore....until....some sort of grieving period had passed.

The same thing happens when people go through traumas, we distance ourselves, we let our egos take hold and get hyper critical if they don't respond a certain way to our gestures of help and comfort. But when you are the one suffering, grieving, mourning, no matter what kind of loss or circumstance, it can be incredibly humbling to know (or find out) that no one will truly understand what you are going through. I wasn't alone in the loss of my Father, but once I realized that no one else would be able to fully understand my grief the way I was experiencing it, it gave me permission to stop trying to explain it. 

15. If you find something you like doing, do it, make time for it, revel in it

I hit my late 20s and found myself enthralled with a few things all over again that I hadn't enjoyed since my teens. Things like journaling, stickers, collecting crystals and rocks, Tarot cards, and the Golden Girls. For months I told myself I was "too old" for many of those things (WHAT?!) and didn't let myself do them. Fully embrace hobbies that make you feel silly, those are the best kinds of joy.

16. You are so much more than what your family has told you you can be

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This applies in all directions. Whether your family was supportive, whether they had a clear path they wanted you to follow, whether they weren't present or supportive at all, you are always much more than anyone else has led you to believe. Good intentions aside, take this to heart. You are only just discovering your full power.

17. Find what you're passionate about and give with as much of your heart as you can

The world of social media gives us an amazing view and perspective of the issues of the world, how we can help, and what we can do to change. But it can also feel incredibly overwhelming and be a huge source of guilt that we're never doing enough. The best and most powerful way to give back is when you can find a cause deeply rooted in your ethical beliefs, something so strong your soul feels called to help and make that change no matter what. And hey, maybe that thing isn't ringing a bell yet, but keep searching. You're way better off making an impact for the cause that churns a fire in your belly than trying to support 5 and spreading yourself thin.

18. Putting yourself first is NOT selfish

When I got married I remember people telling me "well now you have a new priority and in many ways your marriage and your husband will come first." Every time someone said this to me I starred at them blankly for a moment before saying "No, I still come first, always."

I know many may disagree with me here but I stand firm. When you are expected to put others first, you take away a huge part of your soul and a deep love for yourself. You put the ownership of your health, happiness, and wellbeing in someone else's hands whether it's a spouse, a child, a partner, or a family member. It's a hard but beautiful truth to learn that no one else can make you happy or truly take care of you the way YOU can. 

I remember after getting married my husband's grandmother threw us a small party as we were driving cross country. She had bought us a unity candle from a party store and as soon as we each took our individual candles and lit the unity candle, everyone said "now blow out the others." What?! My husband and I have had so many conversations since then and have always vowed to never blow out our own candles (figuratively of course). 

What I like better is knowing that when I put myself first I have more energy, room, and fuel to help ignite other people's individual candles.

17. Let go of the desire to be "right" all the time

If there's anything I learned from taking debate in college it's that it's amazing how much can change when you open your mind to new perspectives and possibilities. And when you let go of the desire to be "right" you find the ability to become enlightened with truth and empowerment.

18. Give yourself full permission to not give a F*ck

We only have so much energy in our daily lives and in our monthly "bank" of mental energy. Get clear on what you want to care about and what you don't and stick to it! When we spend lots of time "caring" about people and things we think we "should" we only end up feeling resentful and unhappy over time.

19. Everything has a beginning, a middle, and an end

Sometimes the middle is a long son of a bitch.

20. Nothing escapes time

We are all growing older. Things constantly change. Accepting these truths will rid you of a lot of suffering and confusion.

21. Take time to ask yourself if "it" will matter a year from now...

Too often I get caught up in silly things, the story I tell myself is a little ridiculous, or I get wound up over something I have little control over. When I stop and ask myself how much it will truly matter tomorrow, in a week, in a year.... I quickly calm down.

21. Sink your teeth into the present moment, it's delicious

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Some of my happiest and most blissful moments have been in stillness, in the focus of the task at hand, in the heightening of my senses to my surroundings. 

22. Learn how to listen to the way your body speaks

Headaches usually tell me I need to drink more water. A stiff neck alerts me that I've worked way too long in one day. Heavy eyes remind me of how draining processed sugar is in my body. A weight in my gut lets me know something is off. There's a language your physical body speaks and it's different for everyone, learn it and listen. It's very wise.

23. Learn to enjoy the process more than the desire for the outcome

Goals are amazing. Structure and strategy often important. But if you don't enjoy the day-to-day minutia, you're missing out on something huge.

24. Forgive yourself

Stop creating more misery in your life because you insist on beating yourself up every time you relive a moment of the past. You cannot change it. We all make mistakes. Use that energy to bring good into the world before you. You will not bring more peace to yourself or others by trying to torment or punish yourself.

25. Laugh often and uncontrollably

Find whatever it is that makes you laugh so hard your stomach aches and your cheeks sting. If there's a person that does this, let them know how much joy they bring to this planet.

26. Cheer others on

Especially when you feel the comparisonitis coming on. If you are worried that their success means your failure, you're in a scarcity mindset, because truthfully, their success and everyone else's means whatever they are doing is JUST as possible for you.

27. DO. YOU.

If you want it, go get it.

If it brings you pure joy but scares the shit out of you, go for it.

If you love staying home on Friday nights knitting and watching The Office for the 4th time, own it.

If it feels different and you can't relate it to anyone else, show the world that you exist and others will find you.



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