Mindfulness and the Importance of Having Fun and Looking Good

Source: Etsy

Source: Etsy

How much do you think you spend on the following categories?

  • Entertainment
  • Clothing
  • Random Expenses like lattes, snacks, etc.

Probably more than you think you do!

Where do you spend your money?

I know that my entertainment and clothing categories were woefully small in the last six months and I’ve been wondering why that is. I think it’s because I’m spending a lot of my money on food expenses, and I’m not taking the time to take care of myself through other means that aren’t food.

Thing is, we need both entertainment and clothing. When I’m not spending money on those categories, it’s usually because I’m eating way too much food that’s bad for me. I’m eating my feelings.

So, although I know my entertainment and clothing categories are gonna go up in the next few months, I totally understand why and I’m actually kind of glad that I’m spending more on those items because it means I’m not spending it on junk food.

Here’s the truth: I’ve been steadily gaining weight over the last year. Kind of like the same way I’ve been steadily gaining more debt. The correlation between the two is not a surprise. When you’re not paying attention to one thing in your life, chances are you’re not paying attention to other similar things in your life. So I was spending (and eating) way too much money (and food). Now that I’m tracking my expenses and logging some of my food, I’m doing a much better job of managing both.

This is where mindfulness comes in

The reason I’m tracking my food is because I’m working with a nurse to lose some of the weight that I’ve put on. Her first recommendation was to start eating breakfast, so I began tracking that. We met after two weeks and talked about adding more vegetables to dinner.

I’m not expecting miracles to happen right away, though. With anything that requires a concentrated effort to do, I know that there will be steps forward and backward. Case in point: I gained two pounds in the last two weeks. I also had to use my credit card last week to pay for laundry.

But I know that these events happened and I can mitigate the damage of both because I’m aware of what’s going on. I really can’t stress enough how important it is to just be aware of what’s going on in your life instead of letting things happen blindly.

This is why I’m a big fan of mindfulness. Mindfulness is just being aware of what’s going on in your life. Living automatically without much concentration leads to the problems I’ve been facing lately. Now that I’m more aware of my actions I can slowly change things so that I’m no longer gaining weight and spending money frivolously. Hopefully I’ll even begin losing weight and saving more of my money!

Have you experienced mindfulness? Has it helped your life?

What I would tell my twenty-year-old self

This year I’m turning twenty-nine. I might be a bit early to start thinking about what I would tell myself as a twenty year-old, but because I had the pleasure of watching a bunch of girls who were just at that age last night (kind of like a fly on the wall) it got me to thinking about what I was like.

Truthfully, I was never the kind of person who had no responsibilities whatsoever. I’ve had a job since I was fourteen. I didn’t live in residence at school, so I didn’t get the sorority experience. When others were hitting the bar, I was getting on a GO bus for the two and a half hour ride back to Hamilton through traffic and congestion. After graduating from university I landed my first full-time job a month out of school.

Still, I had a lot of fun in my early twenties, especially when I moved into my first apartment in the Big Smoke (aka Toronto). I sort of made up for the lost years of living carefree in my first two apartments. While I contributed to an RRSP, I spent my money without much regard, I didn’t think much about “the future”, it being an intangible what-if, I dreamed big, I lived hard and I cultivated bad habits (social smoking and drinking). Hardly the kind of life that would make a nun blush. But I still have a few words of wisdom for my younger self because looking back on that life now I can see where I was spinning my wheels. Maybe I’d be further ahead if I had taken these lessons to heart at an earlier age, but I don’t regret getting to this point now. It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey, right?

These days I’m all about settling down. I live in a great apartment with my boyfriend, I have clear goals for my future income and I’m cultivating a freelance writing and marketing career. I’m also trying to get myself out of the debt I put myself into by not tracking my spending. I don’t have an RRSP any longer because I used it to clear my debt once before (and promptly forgot the lesson such a decision should have taught me.) I’m ready to start saving and clearing my debt-load the right way now.

Party girl's lives revolve around very simple things.

Party girl lives revolve around very simple things.

Here’s what I would tell my 20 year-old-self:

  1. Chill out. Don’t worry so much about not being at a certain point in your life or the development of a skill, talent, career choice, or whatever. Not only does your intensity scare the bejesus out of people, but it’s actually counter-productive. Worrying about what you can be doing better, faster or whatever means you’re just spinning your wheels instead of doing the work that needs to be done to get there.
  2. Keep track of your money. You’re going to lose a lot of it to debt.
  3. Own your goals. You’ve got big dreams, honey, but you don’t even know where to start because you’re lost in the what-ifs of all your dreams. You’re obsessed with doing it all, but you keep forgetting that there’s time for everything. You just need to take it one step at a time. You might not be a musician yet, but keep learning songs and you will! Just look at how you’ve changed over the last ten years. You went from barely being able to stand in front of a mic to jamming with session musicians once a week. You’ll be okay.
  4. Cultivate lots of interests. When one wanes you can always pick up another and you’ll never be bored.
  5. Don’t take other people’s words to heart and don’t get so upset when others don’t agree with you or don’t life you. You don’t have to be liked by everyone.
  6. Don’t be jealous. There’s room for everyone, no matter what.
  7. There’s more to life than what you’re wearing. This is something I still struggle with. I like fashion, but I forget how expensive it can get. And I tend to have expensive tastes, like Kate Spade purses and shoes. That said, I’ve only ever bought one Kate Spade purse and I’ll have it until my dying day.