being at home in yourself


No, not by: in. The news has brought body dysmorphia into frame because of how much time we spend staring at our own faces on Zoom. I knew this was affecting me personally, so I turned off the function that lets me see myself. But even so, it can be difficult to stay in the present moment and be confident in your own body. That’s why I’ve started a personal practice to be at home in myself.

What Does It Mean?

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “my body is a temple.” My freshman year geometry teacher used to say it, and she added “friends” at the end (because that’s just how she talked). It used to annoy me. What does this have to do with geometry? Spoiler alert — it had nothing to do with geometry. But there is a bit of truth to it.

Of course, I take care of my body and treat it with kindness. I eat whole foods (for the most part) and do yoga and all the things I should be doing. But I’ve been thinking about this idea of what it means to be whole, and to be home. What does home mean to you? Is it a place? Is it a person? What if, instead of any external thing, home is yourself?

Let that marinate for a minute. No matter where you go, you can always find home, because home is you. Home is wherever you are. I don’t know about you, but I find that idea insanely comforting. Even if you’re far away from your physical house, or from the person you feel most comfortable with, you can still be at home.

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Temporary

We don’t treat our bodies as our permanent homes. Our bodies take care of us, remind us of what we need, teach us to listen, to pause, to move… Our bodies are so smart and intuitive that sometimes, we forget we even have bodies. We’re so caught up in the day-to-day movements that we forget to just EXIST. Feel your muscles and bones shifting. Feel your lungs expanding to take in oxygen. Feel your stomach digesting food or your throat swallowing water. Feel your feet on the ground and know that you are home.

It doesn’t matter if people come in and out of your life. And for someone who’s moved around quite a bit lately, it doesn’t matter if your physical space changes all the time. You are home at any given time, with any given person, at any given place. And you should be thanking your body for the privilege to live in it.

Some days, I find it hard to be in my body. But that does not mean I am any less grateful to have it. Because there are so many things I couldn’t experience without the body I have — rollercoasters, the ocean, hiking, a warm cup of coffee, a fluffy cat… Count your blessings today and remember that your body is something to marvel at. Not just because it’s a body, but because you are in it, and you make it beautiful.

Claiming Personal Success


Exciting news, folks — I’m done with my freshman year of college! And I’ve been indulging in the successes that’s brought, including awards and good grades and just time to rest up. That being said, I wanted to talk about something I’ve felt really odd about in the past few weeks.

Society raised me (and probably you, too) to be extremely productive. Why? To contribute to the world in a powerful way, or to leave a mark, or to be successful and live in an expensive house and wear expensive clothes. It wasn’t something I ever decided I wanted. I was just told to do more and be more. I never questioned it.

Today, productivity makes me feel good about myself. I knock out a few hefty assignments or freelance articles and feel a rush of pride for the work I did. I’m not saying that’s entirely unhealthy, and that’s not the focus of the blog post today.

I’ve been feeling weird because when I share my triumphs with other people, I usually get one of the following responses…

  • “I’m so proud of you!”
  • “That’s my [insert relation to me here]!”
  • “We did it!”
  • “I knew you could do it!”

These aren’t necessarily bad responses. Yes, I appreciate pride and celebration of my successes! But notice that in each of these statements, the person congratulating me is including themselves in the sentence. “I,” “my,” “we.” There is something wrong with this, and I’ll tell you why.

I was raised to be high-achieving. While I’m grateful that I’ve grown up to be a hard worker, I have always been the kid or friend or cousin or student who accomplished great things for the image of someone else. I am the good daughter who makes the parent look good. I am the smart friend who makes the friend group look smart. I am the well-rounded student who makes the class look well-rounded.

The people who pushed me to do well, although with good intentions, asked me to go above and beyond in a way that boosted their own image. “You’re such a good parent/friend/teacher, you have such a great child/friend/student.” This is unhealthy. I had a lot of weight on my shoulders to carry someone else’s image and very little time to examine what success meant for me. This is largely from a few sources, one of which was being placed in the “gifted” program as an elementary student.

I never felt that my achievements were satisfactory enough because I was surrounded by other “high-achievers.” I was sold the idea of high performance and being a childhood prodigy and competing for good grades. While there is definitely something to surrounding yourself with people above your skill level, there is something horribly wrong with telling a child they are better than other children and expecting them to excel at everything.

Being a “gifted kid” was something for my parents and friends and teachers to boast about. Everything I did, it wasn’t just for me to be proud of, but for society to applaud. This is why writing (although something I love) can feel less like my art and more like a chore of being. I constantly found ways to be “different” as a kid because I was tired of being placed in the “gifted” box.

People comment all the time about how humble I am. I think I come across as humble because I grew tired of expectations set on me as a child, not because I didn’t appreciate my own achievements.

Today, I have a problem with naming and claiming my own value and success because of this conditioning. People in my life have always wanted to claim my success first. I’m working on doing what I love for me, not for others, and choosing to own my success for myself and myself alone. A mantra I’ve chosen is, “Others do not own my accomplishments and never will. I choose my actions, and I claim the results.”

While it is a journey, it feels good to be empowered by my choices rather than to shy away from any praise. My skills and abilities are my own. I am proud of myself. I don’t need anyone to tell me that I’m awesome.

Much love,

-el ❤

What Do I Need for At-Home Yoga?


Yoga newcomers, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of fitness gear out there. Maybe you’ve never taken a yoga class, or maybe you’ve gone to a few, or you might even be a seasoned professional. Creating a yoga practice at home, though, is different from going to a yoga studio. That being said, you can create your very own home studio with just a few practical things… and maybe a few extras for the atmosphere. Everyone’s practice looks a little different, so pick and choose what works for you. Let’s get into it.

Yoga Mat

This is the first and most obvious item on the list. Finding the perfect yoga mat can be a challenge, so think about what kind of support you need, what materials you’d prefer, and what colors you like. If you need a little more support, you might opt for a more plush yoga mat. If you’re vegan, you may want to stay away from more luxurious suede. Vinyl is the most common, and its eco-friendly cousin is recycled rubber. Consider thickness, portability, and how well you stand on the mat itself. You want it to have some grip. Additionally, some mats are pricier than others. Decide what’s most important to you and go from there.

Popular retailers are Gaiam and Manduka, but there are some newcomers like Popflex, which carries a vegan suede mat (on the pricier side). Weigh the alternatives, or look into other brands. This is where you’ll be doing all your moves, so really take this into consideration!

Props

This is where customization of your practice comes in a bit more. The use of blocks helps fill gaps — if you can’t quite reach the ground, for example — and makes sure you are supported. Blocks can also be used to make other poses more challenging. Most blocks are the same and can be found on the same links as above, but Yoloha Yoga carries a cork block instead of traditional foam ones.

Then there are straps. Straps are used much in the same way blocks are, only to cover longer distances for poses that require a great amount of flexibility, like scorpion pose. It is a length of durable but flexible material that can be used to carry your mat as well. These are fairly uniform and can be found on the links above. They’ll usually have some metal rings that lock together, so the strap doesn’t slip.

Cushions are great for poses and positions where the mat isn’t quite soft enough. They can also provide support for seated meditation or even for yin yoga, a form of yoga that involves lots of blankets and pillows. (Cozy, right?) You can simply use pillows from home, but most yoga cushions are firmer than home pillows and have a sturdier feel. They are round and designed to be sat on. Verywell Mind determined this one from Amazon as the best overall.

Yoga wheels are a little advanced, but they’re great for deepening stretches like the splits or relieving stress in parts of the body. It’s essentially just a round plastic or wooden wheel lined with a more comfortable material like foam or cork. They’ve definitely caught the attention of mainstream media, but keep in mind that most high-quality wheels are upwards of $60, like this one from Yoloha Yoga. If you want a cheaper option, check out the Seigla wheel.

Mat Care

Most mats are easy to clean with a little warm water and dish soap (just stick it in a bathtub), but you may want to invest in a mat cleaner to get extra grossness/odor off your mat. In that case, find an essential oil-based spray and wipe it down with a towel after each session to avoid needing to clean your mat so often (or, in case you have a Popflex mat that really shouldn’t get wet). This mat cleaner on Amazon is perfect for that.

Atmosphere

Let’s face it: there’s nothing quite like the feeling of stepping into the yoga studio. There are a few ways you can curate those peaceful vibrations in your own home, starting with having a designated yoga space. You might want to take your mat outside, bring it to the gym, or take it on a trip with you. But having a designated space at home (if that’s possible) will get your mind in the right place for all those good stretches. Many yoga spaces have plants nearby because the greenery has a calming effect and promotes better air quality. It’s all about what you want in your space.

Lighting can also be a factor. My personal favorite is this set of warm white curtain lights, which can make a room feel instantly cozier. Perhaps you’d rather practice near a big window as the sun comes up, or you want to light candles on your windowsill. You could even add a salt lamp like this one. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to see what you’re doing, but you should feel at ease when you walk into the room.

Essential oils remind me of a yoga class as soon as I smell them, so a diffuser and oils might be a good investment. Note that some essential oils are not good for pets, so here’s a list of oils you shouldn’t have if you’re a cat or dog owner. The Spruce called this diffuser the best overall and this one the best for a budget. (However, they don’t have much of a price difference.) Some excellent oil brands are Now, Saje, and doTERRA. You’ll be smelling good in no time.

Clothing

The most important thing when choosing clothes for your yoga practice is this: can you move? If the answer is no, whether it be that your outfit is too tight or too heavy or too whatever, don’t buy it for yoga. Your practice is about form, not fashion… but thankfully, there are some lovely combinations of both out there! This pair of leggings from Madewell got a big thumbs up from Refinery 29, while this pair from Lululemon is one of the best for yoga specifically. However, sometimes the best yoga outfit is just a pair of shorts and a tucked t-shirt or a sports bra if you wear them. Choose what makes you feel the most comfortable and free.

There are a lot of things to think about, so let’s recap: mat, props, something to clean your mat, atmospheric additions, and clothing. Remember that a yoga practice is curated to each individual, so you may only need a mat, or you might want to add things not listed here. Whatever you choose, I wish you a happy and healthy home practice.

Much love,

-el ❤

Travel the World, and Make Money Doing It


What is a Digital Nomad?

To put it simply, digital nomads are people who travel while they work online. Online jobs have become more and more prevalent, and people across the globe have found the benefits of seeing the world while doing work they love.

Why Become One? 

Digital nomads have something many say they wish they had — more time. If you are someone who loves to explore new places, or you have big travel goals, this might be the way of life for you. This extra time can also be used for productivity, that is, being productive regarding your own interests. You might find yourself feeling more creative, and you’ll learn to adapt to new situations better over time. 

What Jobs do Digital Nomads Have?

There’s a wide range of jobs you can have online. Some of them involve hobbies or creative skills, like offering your own services on freelance websites. In fact, freelancing is one of the most popular ways digital nomads earn a paycheck. Any digital job counts. Some skills to bring to these types of jobs are writing, technological literacy, consulting, teaching/tutoring, customer service, marketing, or creative thinking. The possibilities are endless, and there may be work opportunities that align with your current career path.

How Do You Become One? 

“Nomadding” requires a healthy amount of planning, but the motivation of freedom should help you get through it. First, you’ll need to create some sort of budget that will keep you in check. This lifestyle can come with uncertainties, so allocating money to food, shelter, and other necessities is vital. Also, it’s important to have a financial safety net in case something goes awry. More often than not, this is in the form of a savings account.

Next, let’s chat about non-necessities. These are the fake emergencies of physical objects, the things infomercials or fancy ads or magazines convinced us we had to have… for what? There are lots of resources that explain how to recognize the difference between the stuff we need and the stuff that takes up space. Some popular sites are The Minimalists and the KonMari method.

After that, you’ll want travel insurance. This step is often overlooked, but it’s important because it gives you a sound mind in case you need to cancel your trip. Maybe it’s because of weather, or a death in the family, or major events in the city you’re headed toward… but things happen, and travel insurance makes sure you’re reimbursed. It’s relatively cheap, and it also protects you in case you have a medical emergency on your trip.

Since you’ll be working remotely, having a dependable internet connection — both your cell service and a Wi-Fi connection — must be a priority. This is how digital nomads make their money while traveling. You might consider investing in some sort of hotspot, but some can get by on public Wi-Fi if that’s what you prefer. In that case, try to use a VPN and practice safe public Wi-Fi habits.

So Now What?

Energized, excited, and eager to embark on a new way of life? Hooray! Just make sure to have a concrete plan: that’s budgeting, prioritizing necessity, finding insurance, getting internet, securing a job (or several), and mapping out your travel plans. The world is yours to explore, so go forth and be amazing.

Much love,

-el ❤

some positivity for your feed.


I just wanted to bring attention to some of my favorite things about the internet lately. Thank you and have a wonderful day.

  1. Someone knitted Bernie Sanders in his mittens and sold it for thousands of dollars and then donated the money to a charity food bank.
  2. Elon Musk is encouraging everyone to short stocks and buy cryptocurrency. Robinhood is furious, but no one cares.
  3. In that vein… DOGE is going TO THE MOON!
  4. You can buy a deed to Mars, and I have one acre of it. So does my brother.
  5. Spoon is probably one of the coolest apps ever — you can livestream audio, and people send you money for it. It’s not much, but still, it’s pretty cool.
  6. There are apps that pay you for listening to music and playing video games. Again, not much, but still awesome.
  7. ColourPop released an Animal Crossing inspired makeup collection (you best believe that I ordered one of the palettes).
  8. Weezer has a new album.
  9. More and more people are getting the vaccine. I got the first dose, and I’ll get my second on Star Wars Day.
  10. Film festivals have been… awfully different. But that means they’re more accessible to people who can’t make it because of x, y, z. I’ve seen some epic films because streaming services are sharing them for a limited time!
  11. I might have plans to start a podcast lately… 😉
  12. JoJo Siwa and Lil Nas X and Demi Lovato and and and… it’s so good to see so many queer people in the media.
  13. Spring is here, and my feed has been filled with flowers!
  14. In Lawrence, KS, legislators are talking about banning conversion therapy. Finally.

I hope this little dose of positivity does you good. I know I’ve been swamped in the massive pile of garbage that is the internet at the moment. Just remember to take time, smile, and remember that the world is beautiful when you look around! Have a wonderful weekend.

-el ❤

commodifying spirituality?


Something I’ve noticed lately on social media is that someone with a sacred spiritual practice or religious belief will share something from their culture/practice for the education of the community. Then, seeing that it’s cool, viewers go out and use that as their own tradition, usually without giving credit where credit is due. Without even truly understanding where the tradition came from in the first place.

This is a unique form of cultural appropriation that has evolved with social media — especially TikTok. There’s a gray area for some, who see that the tradition has been shared online and thus assume it’s okay to replicate. Sometimes, this is true, but I’ve found that it’s only when the person sharing the tradition says it’s okay that viewers can use it in their daily lives. Without this explicit permission, it is undoubtedly appropriation, if a veiled form.

Why do people do this? It may be a lack of culture. In the U.S. especially, people have grown up without anything “sacred.” I know I grew up in a two Christian households that certainly enforced going to church and serving others, but outside of that, we had no practices or rituals that would distinguish ourselves as Christians. We celebrated commercialized Christmas and Easter and everything else.

I can’t speak for those who were raised with other religions or traditions, so this is just speculation… But I can imagine that for people who grew up agnostic or atheist, this idea of sacred anything is quite foreign. So when someone comes across, for example, the idea of wearing a hematite ring to absorb negative energy, it’s enticing. They don’t stop to think whether or not they believe in the negative energy they’re trying to collect or why this tradition even exists (it was used in Egyptian tombs and as mourning jewelry in the Victorian era). They just go and buy a ring to feel a part of a greater tradition.

There are more unfortunate examples, too. The use of unethically harvested white sage by non-native peoples has risen because witches online spread the message that burning white sage is the best way to cleanse the energy of a place. They say this without acknowledging native lands or traditions. And that is just about the most dismissive and appropriative thing ever, but it happens to indigenous people all the time. Indigenous practices do not belong to non-indigenous people! There’s no gray area here!

But this issue is more than just knowingly appropriating culture. It’s seeing a tradition that has been severed from that culture and taking it into one’s own practice because it’s not being linked to any spirituality or culture. This is the danger of sharing cultural experiences on social media. It’s sad that this has to be a fear — in several cultures, sharing experience on socials has become a way of preserving themselves and making themselves known. But with that desire to be recognized comes the risk of someone sharing that experience… without referring back to the original source. This is disheartening and plain wrong.

So, what can be done? First of all: if you come across a practice and think it’s something you might like to incorporate into your own life, do your damn research. Know if it’s a closed practice, as in it’s intended for members of a specific culture that you are not a part of, or if it’s a secular practice and free to anyone.

Next: don’t just copy and paste. Spirituality isn’t a cookie cutter of going through the motions. If people are copying practices they see because they seem cool, or because they don’t have any sacred practices of their own, they’re defeating the entire purpose. By just carrying over the exact practice into your own life, you’re removing the personal influence of having rituals in the first place. Make practices unique to you, your beliefs, and even your surroundings. Say you do want to try burning white sage (which, unless you grow it in your own backyard and/or have explicit permission from a native person, please don’t do this!). Instead, think about what grows around you. Do you have thyme, rosemary, lemon balm in your backyard? Another kind of sage? Mint?

Take into account the place where you live instead of blindly making a copy of someone else’s spiritual practices. Honestly, doing that is just plain lazy, and when you’re being spiritually lazy, you’re not cultivating practices you care about, and you’re hurting other traditions that just want to be heard.

My final point: give credit where credit is due! If someone who shares a practice says it’s okay to use what they’ve shared, honor their experience and tell people you share it with that it belongs to someone else. This is one of the best ways to mitigate online appropriation. You learn it in middle school: always cite your sources. Only this time, it’s not a zero on an assignment that’s at risk, but the harm of groups of people.

So, that’s my soapbox for today. Please take these things into account the next time you see a trendy evil-eye bracelet on TikTok.

-ellynn ❤

2021 planning tools (gasp! bujo drama!)


DISCLAIMER: Any links I provide aren’t sponsored links — I just want those who are interested to be able to find exactly what I’m talking about. 🙂

If you’ve been here for a while, you might know that I’m something of a bullet journal fanatic. You also might know that I recently started college. Naturally, as I expected, my planning habits needed to change to accomodate the sudden lifestyle change. A college student’s agenda is often filled to the brim with countless tasks, but those tasks are established months before they actually happen. It should be a comforting thing, but the sheer weight of daily to-dos felt so overwhelming at first that I didn’t know how to even start. Eventually, I had no choice but to just figure it out. (That’s kinda how college works.)

I needed some way to transfer my syllabus materials into my planning system at the beginning of the year so there were no surprises in the middle. I thought my bullet journal was completely out, and I was already mourning the loss of my favorite notebook because I had no use for it. But wait, there’s more!

At my college bookstore, I found countless planners. None of them seemed right. I couldn’t see myself using a traditional planner like I did in middle school. It just didn’t ever work for me, it felt clunky, and I didn’t like how it was already decorated. I’m the kind of person who covers my notebooks and laptop and water bottle and… everything… with stickers and other stuff. What’s a gal to do?

Then, I saw it. The Moleskine Weekly Notebook. It was a slim, black number with the personality of wet cardboard and the comfortable features of my bullet journal. The pages felt nice and homey, and it had — not one, but two — timetables for my semester schedules! It wasn’t quite a planner because on the opposite side of the weekly page, it had a lined page for notes. This was perfect, and I snatched it up.

Here are all the features I loved: year at a glance, monthly pages with spaces for notes at the bottom, 2 timetables, dated weekly pages that start on mondays (I like to see my work week and my weekend separately), weekly notes section, extra notes space in the back, a built-in pocket, bookmark, sturdy elastic band, and a 13 cm width (for reference, my typical notebooks are 14 1/2 cm).

So, I had that planning part squared away. But what about days when everything felt way to overwhelming? What about days when I had no direction and could see all of the directions I could go? Enter the Bloom Daily Planner. (Note, they don’t sell the version I have anymore, but the linked version has almost the same features and is the same size.) Desk pads are almost always too clunky to use, but this one doesn’t feel that way at all. It’s pretty, and it fulfills a big task: get my life together on days where everything feels like a mess!

It has a lot of goodies: top three to-dos, important times (great for Zoom meetings) a massive to-do section, random notes area, gratitude section, meals tracker, water tracker, and exercise/self care slot.

Alright, so that’s good. Got that done. But does this mean I don’t need *sniffs* my precious bullet journal baby anymore? Nope. I still need my bujo. It carries my hopes and dreams. It holds all my lists, poems, song lyrics, calligraphy practice, collages, journaling exercises, brain dumps, doodles, musings, and literally everything I could possibly need to write down. Lately, my “bullet journal” hasn’t been much of a planning system. I had to let go of the original system I fought so hard to keep. It served my needs for a while, but now, it’s not anything but an idea catch-all, which is what Ryder Carroll intended it to be.

I always heard people say that getting a journal is the most important thing a creative person can do, but I never understood it because I was trying to adhere to what the internet told me to do. I didn’t like habit trackers or massive monthly calendars or anything like that. I realized that I hate structure. Me! Crazy, right? My whole school life has been nothing but structure. But it took a massive lifestyle change to realize that I love freedom, and a no-rules notebook allows me that.

So what am I using? Well, in the past, I’ve had two Leuchtturm1917 journals and a Rhodia Webnotebook. Leuchtturms were a great starting point, just to figure out the baseline and to get used to that kind of notebook. I loved my Rhodia Webbie, and I’ll definitely keep using it until the pages fill up (which won’t be long at the rate I’ve been journaling). But I complain a lot about the dots. I wanted my pages to feel more structured for calendars, maybe some trackers, and other more bullet journal-y things.

I won’t sugarcoat it — I bought a hardcover Moleskine with squared pages. I know! The bullet journal community is quaking! For reasons I cannot comprehend, the bujo community has shunned Moleskines. I don’t get it. I feel no difference in paper quality from the Leuchtturm, and in fact, I think Moleskines hold up better from wear than Leuchtturms do! My last Leuchtturm, Charlie, looks so awful and beat up from a year of use. My Moleskine planner still looks like new, and I bought it 6 months ago.

The paper does ghost, but so does Leuchtturm paper. Frankly, so does the Rhodia paper I’m using now. I’m stepping out into the shunned world of Moleskine with no regrets.

Okay, that was a little dramatic, but I know that bullet journal users are super particular about their planning choices (coming from me!) and would appreciate a little extra pizzazz. Anyway, if you’d like to read 10 ways you can use a bullet journal that you’ve probably never thought of, you can become a subscriber to my blog. I’d like to know how you plan to, erm, well, plan for 2021. Are you a premade calendar person? Digital? Bullet journal fanatic like me? Do tell!

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holidays for one (ways to make the season merry and bright alone)


Due to COVID-19 restrictions across the globe, many people will be spending the holidays alone this year. Whether you’re celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas, Yule, Kwanzaa, Festivus (for the rest of us), or some other wintry holiday, here are some ways you can make it feel festive inside to celebrate the wintertime.

  1. Warm beverages: I try to make this a daily ritual for myself and myself alone. A nice warm cup of coffee, tea, hot chocolate, cider, chai, or any other deliciousness can make you feel cozied up and festive. It’s cold outside, so warm up inside with something hot. It’s a lovely bit of self care that I think everyone should indulge in daily, but it’s up to you.
  2. Fire: One of the best ways to feel cozy during winter is to bring fire into your home (safely). A fireplace isn’t practical for everyone, but if you’ve got one, start it up! Otherwise, maybe you can have a bonfire outside with some blankets. Or, the easiest way to get fire (and my favorite way) is to light a candle or seven! Always make sure to monitor your candles and put them in safe places, but a hot cocoa and cream or peppermint bark scented candle makes me feel instantly more holiday.
  3. Scented things: Soap. Room sprays. Wallflowers. Potpourri. Incense. Anything that smells like those traditional wintertime scents, bring it on! Here are the best ones in my opinion: cinnamon, teakwood, clove, apple, peppermint, and cedar. You can pick what’s right for you (and be careful if you’re sensitive to certain fragrances).
  4. Lighting: Those harsh white lights that are almost blue? They hurt my eyes. It’s great for focus during the day, but at night, not so much. Switching your bedroom and living room lights to those warm yellow bulbs can make a big difference in the cozy feeling of your home. Adding lamps and a heavy dose of string lights to your space can also change the vibes instantly, along with candles (of course). Something about being surrounded by warm lighting makes me super joyful.
  5. Music: Just about any kind of music can be holiday-ed up. If you’re trying to get work done, YouTube has some 24/7 live feeds of lo-fi music in any scenario, be it lo-fi christmas, lo-fi coffee shop, lo-fi study… I bet you can find something. Not a lo-fi fan? Warm, festive classical music like cello or piano gives me a classy and cozy vibe. Some people like christmas rap, holiday blues, or even traditional celtic carols (my favorite). I even made a playlist of anti-Christmas songs. If you’d like to see that, follow me on my moodboard Instagram so you don’t miss when that post goes live. I’ve already posted some anti-Christmas* films.
  6. Movies: What’s the holiday season without holiday films? Maybe you’re super traditional with movies like Miracle on 34th Street or A Christmas Carol. Or, maybe you go for National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and The Grinch. You might even be one of those “Die Hard is a Christmas movie” people — I’ve only just recently been convinced, so I still feel a little resistance to the idea, but knock yourself out. And again, go to my moodboard Instagram for some anti-Christmas films.
  7. Decorations: Don’t get me wrong, I know this is obvious. But the decoration process can be daunting, especially if you’re used to trimming the tree and the mantelpiece and lighting the candles with your family and friends. Turn on some jams, light a candle or two, or put on a movie, and get decorating! Whatever decorations you like. You could even craft some of your own with a family member or friend on Zoom! My sister and I made some sweet crafts out of socks, glue dots, buttons, ribbons, and all the fun crafty stuff. Try a DIY snowman or decorate a yule log.
  8. Reminisce: My mom suggested this one — look over old holiday photos! You can use Google Photos to piece together a memory book that you can mail out to loved ones later. Or, you can pull out the old photo books, scan images, and post them on Facebook for a good time in the comments. Even if you can’t have a gathering now, you can remember the old times. Maybe call some family and ask them for their favorite holiday memories… write them all down and share the document.
  9. Get festive in the kitchen: Who doesn’t love a warm soup and hearty homemade bread? Ask your great aunt if she’d be willing to part with a recipe or two. As with Thanksgiving, you might not be able to enjoy the recipes your relatives always bring, but you can recreate the same flavors at home! Hop on a live and ask for instructions in real time (just make sure you do your shopping beforehand). Maybe try something new. Plus, making some festive dishes and putting them in Tupperware for later is a great way to meal prep without feeling like it’s too much work!
  10. Cozy up: Invest in nice sweats, thick blankets, a heavy coat and boots for winter walks, knit socks/hats/scarves/gloves, and maybe a rug or some wool sweaters. Flannel is also an excellent choice. You’re going to be home anyway, so why not make yourself as comfortable as possible?
  11. Try handmade gifts: This year, your gifts might not be so traditional. I read on the news that hand sanitizer and masks are popular presents! If you’re going to order gifts online, try to get them from Etsy shops or your favorite small businesses. Or, pick up tins for homemade candies, wrap handmade ornaments in craft paper and twine, and get painting on cardstock to send to loved ones. Become a subscriber to get a list of 10 gift ideas for a pandemic.

Well, there are 11 holiday hacks for one! I hope you have a wonderful holiday, and remember, you’re never alone. ❤

*Note, I don’t have anything against Christmas. I just know that it’s not the only holiday people celebrate this time of year, and it’s nice to include those people in festive posts!

—ellynn ❤

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10 new year journal prompts.


2021 is almost upon us. Egads! The goal-setting fever I usually have has decided to be extra quiet this year, and I think it’s because I feel lost in a sea of pandemic-y election-y first-year-of-college-y mess. I decided to come up with some deep journal prompts to open up a dialogue for how I want the new year to go. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself if you don’t feel like going crazy in 2021, but feel free to use these prompts if you are so inclined. Happy journaling.

  1. What do you need more of? What about the things you don’t need? Most of the time, we use the new year to think about what we want to add to our lives. It’s a great idea, and it’s definitely important. But what about things we need to get rid of? Maybe you’ve let someone treat you like a doormat this year, or you’ve blamed yourself for something you shouldn’t have. Do some deep thinking about what you want to get rid of and what you want to add.
  2. How are you going to take control in the new year? Lately, life has felt entirely out of our control. However, there are still so many things we can control. We can control when we wake up, our routines, the foods we eat, the way we treat people, the enthusiasm we put into our projects, the media we consume… Make a list of things you can control, and claim the things you feel most confident in. Stick to those when the going gets tough.
  3. What have you accomplished this year? No, really! You have done so much this year, and you probably haven’t even glanced at it. What goals did you set last year? Did you accomplish those things? I bet you at least made progress. I bet you absolutely crushed some projects. Before you even think about setting new goals, think about what you’ve already done, and celebrate that! Find a way to reward yourself for all your successes.
  4. What did you learn about the world and yourself? What do you still need to learn? We’ve spent more time with ourselves than usual, and we’ve definitely paid more attention to the world around us (if you’ve been on social media at all). You’ve probably gained a lot of new insights about yourself and the world. What did you learn? And do you still have questions about yourself? About society? Make a commitment to find out the answers.
  5. What are your top priorities for the next year? Prioritizing can be really difficult. Everyone’s coming at you with requests and distractions and needs. What do you care about? What are your life goals? Don’t think about what everyone else needs or wants from you. Don’t let your life become a pizza that you were gonna eat, but you gave a slice to everyone who asked for one, and now you don’t get any pizza. Decide the slices you want first, and then figure out how much you can give to others. It’s not selfish — it’s self care. Your life is yours. What do you want to do with your time?
  6. Who do you want to be? How will you be that person? I love this one because it means I create a whole persona for 2021 me. 2021 me will be generous and kind to others. 2021 me feels passionate and motivated every day. 2021 me wakes up at 8 a.m. with a smile on my face. 2021 does skin care and drinks enough water. Who is 2021 you? And the important part…. How are you gonna become 2021 you? Give yourself definitive actions you can take to get from this version of you to the “new” you. It’s like a creative project, but it helps you improve your life and get closer to your goals.
  7. How can you create something to look forward to in the new year? I know we’ve all lost things this year. We had trips planned, events to attend, and people to see. We had stuff to do! But there are still ways you can add excitement and anticipation to your year, so think about what those things might be. Pencil them in your 2021 calendar and get excited NOW.
  8. Name one habit you’ll change, one new thing you’ll learn, and one way you’ll bring joy into your life. These sort of feed into all the previous ones, but if you can boil it down to three main things for the entire year, you’re in the clear. Too often, we set ten million different goals, and it’s so overwhelming that we don’t devote time to any of them. Choose three. For example: This year, I will do yoga before I watch Netflix, I will learn how to crochet, and I will bring joy to my life by having a dance party during my mid-afternoon Zoom break. See?
  9. How can you eliminate stress from work, school, your home, or your technology? The fun part! Scrub your inbox. Delegate tasks. Clear your desk. Deep clean your house. Invest in a better planning system. Join a study group. Ask for help. Quit things. Unfollow people. Curate your life to be stressless!
  10. In what ways will you practice self care? How? Asking “how” might seem a little redundant, but I promise, it’s necessary. Someone might answer, “I’ll take more baths.” Okay… sure. But how? How are you going to physically carve out time to take a relaxing bath more often? Will you take on one less project, one less meeting, one less volunteer hour? Will you take the time to make your bathroom feel like a spa room? Will you purchase some yummy rose bubble bath and a lifetime supply of face masks? Seriously define your self care. That is the only way you will actually do it.

Remember, these prompts are just to help you start thinking about any resolutions you might make. Your final goals are up to you. The best goals come from honest reflection and deep thought. Happy goal-setting!

—ellynn ❤

i am a vegetable and college is stew


College soup. I’m in it, my friends are in it, my enemies are in it, and my professors, to some extent, are also in it. We are flavoring some kind of knowledge stew. Marinating.

You’d be lying if you said college didn’t change you. Sure, maybe it made your already-perfect self better. But I don’t think so. College takes you, whatever kind of vegetable you are, and throws you into a pot.

You are a broccoli. In the stew are broccoli like you. In the stew are also carrots, cauliflower, green beans, potatoes, tomatoes, and I don’t know, maybe some beef or pasta. You’re tossed in the same water and stock. You’re all coated with the same herbs as your neighbor, but you are a broccoli, for chrissakes.

You got up and left your little broccoli family, your broccoli school, your broccoli neighborhood. You left your broccoli friends and broccoli job. Now you’re just a part of the stew.

Stewing. Stewing can be a lot of things. Stewing is:

  1. Floating in the stew, trying to figure out what you’re floating in
  2. Trying to bump next to other broccoli
  3. Getting caught on a carrot or a potato and deciding that maybe you’d like to be a carrot or a potato
  4. Constantly forgetting that you were a vegetable before you got stuck in the stew
  5. Tossing in other flavors — maybe if you just added enough rosemary or sage, it would taste more like the kind of stew you like

You might decide that you don’t like the flavors you’re absorbing. Maybe, you hate them so much that you jump into freezing cold water and try to get uncooked. Maybe, you just completely leave the stew and come back to your broccoli home, pretending it never happened.

Or you decide you like the stew very much. The stew wouldn’t be the same without you and all the other vegetables and other foods that swim with you. The flavors are all unique and perfect just the way they are, and you’re so excited to be marinating in it.

Finally, you break free from the stew for a while. You meet your broccoli family and friends again. They greet you, because you look great! You look cooked! But they hug you, and they realize… ew. You smell like a green bean. And is that… ew! Tomato! And they push you back out because you’re just another one of the stewies now. You don’t belong with the broccoli anymore.

But hey, even though your broccoli family doesn’t support you, there are other broccoli in the stew going through the same thing. And besides, you have cauliflower and carrots and pasta to help you through it! They’re great, too.

You’re not gonna forget that you were a broccoli, but you’re not gonna become a green bean. You’re just part of the stew now, and you will create more and more stew as you grow.

-ellynn ❤