My Journey with Minimalism – The Mindset Change

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Photo by Kirill Zakharov on Unsplash
I’ve always been cheap and haven’t been too materialistic…  or so I thought until my journey with minimalism. 🙂
Back about 4 years ago, I started to really get into reading. (Shocking, I know! Nobody would ever think that about me, but it’s true. I could probably count on two hands the number of books I’d read before then.) Being a lifelong cheapass until then (ha!), the reading material I was drawn to were those about living a great life but not needing to spend a lot of money. I’ve always loved finance and accounting also. I read and read and read. A common theme I started to see was that which cores to minimalism. So, I started reading about minimalism! I got rid of a lot of things (and yes it’s still a journey – always will be) after reading about minimalism. Then, after the things went away…. I realized my mindset was still focused around materialism even though I wasn’t buying many things. This is where things became deep… real deep. Below I share some tips from my journey with minimalism. I hope to inspire you to think beyond ownership of things when comes to your minimalism journey… A mindset of materialism vs. minimalism is pretty huge I think in this journey also.
Tips for the Journey of a Minimalistic life you may not always hear (because some of them are brutally hard to hear but soo true.) –

Even if you are not purchasing physical items…. ask yourself then are you still spending your time fantasizing about physical possessions?

  • My example: I would spend literally hours on the internet looking at clothing sites awing the beautiful clothes there. While I didn’t think this was a materialistic mindset and life, it was. Even if you aren’t physically purchasing items, the mindset of materialism is still there if you’re daydreaming about material things to an excessive amount.
  • Lesson: Be intentional about when you truly NEED something and only do your browsing and looking then. Be focused and intentional about what you need and also what you want. This will help your time management and also help you with your focus and mindset. I didn’t need to spend a significant amount of my time looking at clothes online for fun. There were other ways to spend that time that are so much more meaningful.

Are the activities you do centered around materialism even though you aren’t purchasing things? 

  • My example: Before my journey with minimalism I would spend literally at least a half a day or more every week browsing through thrift stores (Or Big Lots! No joke!) for fun. And I always thought…. I’m not materialistic – I hardly buy anything; I just like to look! 🙂 Ohhhh was I wrong. Mindset, mindset, mindset…. how are you choosing to spend your time and where is your focus?
  • Lesson: You don’t have to buy or have things to be constantly thinking from a materialistic mindset. Where is your mind at and the joys in your life coming from?…. Are you still bubbling and getting excited over a Big Lots store? haha. 🙂 Not saying that’s wrong at all though! We all choose how we want to live our lives and spend our time and what we get excited over is nobody else’s business. (I cannot say what is right or wrong for everyone. That makes no sense to me.) BUT, if you’re wanting to focus your mindset and life around a journey of minimalism then this is one subset of mindset and activities in your life to look at possibly examining.

Are the goals you have in your future wrapped around materialism? 

  • Do you daydream about having a hugeeeeee house with a ton of things in it even though you say you’re not materialistic?… Even if its JUST A DREAM and you’d actually be perfectly happy with way less. How about what you think about what you have in your life materialistically now vs. in the future? Is that centered in your thinking more than it should be? My example: I would dream about a garage or a having a dishwasher and having a washer/dryer when I was living in my apartments that didn’t have these. Ok, so it’s something to look forward to for sure!
  • Lesson: There are certain things that enhance and make our lives better (some we think would, but honestly they don’t!). Those enhanced material possessions shouldn’t be something that kills the simplicity mindset of where you are NOW and what you find of beauty. It’s OK if you don’t have a dishwasher right now. It’s OK if you don’t have a washer or dryer in your apartment right now. Constantly thinking about wanting material possessions and daydreaming about a big huge life filled with things isn’t too minimalist centered. In all honesty, it destroys the simplicity of the life you live now. It’s ok to have some materialistic goals, but don’t allow that to destroy the simplicity and beauty in what you do have now. Don’t let it become something you constantly think about either. Let it be… write it down and say “Yes, that would be nice one day. However, until I get there this is perfectly fine and ok. Life is not a race.”

Moments of our Lives, Glimpses of the Past

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Photo by Jiyeon Park on Unsplash
Lately, I’ve been finding it so odd and yet almost refreshing how we can have such vivid moments in our lives… Then, roll forward 3, 5, 10, 25, 50, 60 years and have other vivid moments and present-times, but if we think back to the past we often are left with only just short glimpses of those old realities we thought so highly of and were living with so much emotion in the past.
Everything in the present is so lively and of immense focus. Yet our past is often short memories that may seem to fade with time. Though it does seem we can allow some parts of our past to remain vivid if we choose to replay those times over and over in our head. I’m sure there’s plenty of debate if that’s good to do or not!
It’s shocking and interesting to me how the mind and memory work over the years. Life progresses despite our past no matter whether our past is good or bad.
Been reading a lot lately on how we can shape and transform our memories. Maybe that’s why I’ve been noticing this lately? Funny how what we read can allow us to create meaning and contemplate life.

3 Tips for Grant Managers

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Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash
Over the years of my grant management career, I have found the following to be most useful to do my job the best possible. Hope these prove to be 3 tips you can take back to your office and/or share with those you know involved in Grants Management.
1. Anything and Everything you need to do or others need to do for effective grants management…Put it on a calendar.

 

In grants management, there are multiple deadlines. Those deadlines which are externally created AND those of which you should create yourself in order to keep yourself and others focused and on-task for completing the many duties you and others have to effectively manage grants.
If you do NOT have a calendar of some sort, you more than likely will be disorganized, miss deadlines, be rushing and in turn create stress for yourself and others, make errors, and you might stand a chance of ruining your reputation as a reliable grants manager.
I personally recommend Google Calendar as opposed to paper calendars or other types of electronic calendars. You can easily share the calendar(s) you create with others and if you use Gmail, of course, it integrates EVERY well with it to make your life as a grants manager so much easier and cleaner.
Look at your calendar every day and use it as a strategic planning tool for understanding what it is you should be focusing on due to many time-constraints. You want to be in the know of upcoming deadlines and plan your work accordingly.
Multiple articles could be written about strategic planning for grant management professionals, so I’ll leave it at this for now… Look at your calendar and plan accordingly.

 

2. Create structure and deadlines for all involved in effective grants management.

 

In grants management, you will often have to work with many stakeholders to achieve multiple objectives. DO NOT just sit back and think everyone knows what they should be doing, what they need to do, or when they need to do it. Of course, that statement depends on a lot of factors, but ultimately as the grants manager, things fall onto YOU to manage grants.
Thus, you want to be CLEAR AND CONCISE about what everyone should be doing and by when. This might include verbal communication as necessary, but one thing I’ve found over the years is that people forget if you stick only to verbal communication for grants management.
Therefore, write an email noting a list of things for each person to do (if there are more than one) and when they need to be done by. Give specific deadlines. If they miss a deadline or are nearing a deadline but you haven’t heard anything from them, FOLLOW-UP.
All of this creates structure and clear communication for all stakeholders involved in the grant management process.
3. When someone asks a question about grant policy and guidelines, PLEASE DO YOUR HOMEWORK AND RESEARCH. It’s also helpful to send a follow-up email with a link and/or picture of the direct source of where you found the information.
Grant managers WILL get many questions from multiple people regarding grant policies and guidelines. It’s important to always do a double-check of the answer before providing it to others. This is because in the grants management world…. things can change. You may THINK you know the exact policy and guidelines word for word and you’re a top grant manager in your field so why look, but don’t make this mistake. RESEARCH.
FIND the exact policy and guideline and send this to the person who asked you a policy and/or guideline question. You show that you know what you’re doing, you aren’t just making things up all on your own, and it can be used as a great means to teach others.
It’s important in grant management to always stay on top of the newest policies and guidelines and it’s important as well to ensure that others know that you do your job by the books. Grants Management is a very policy and guideline-driven career.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you know everything without doing your homework first.

Discovering Dance – A Student’s Discovery of the Beautiful Art

Originally written on 12/06/2007 for an Experiencing Dance class at Western Michigan University

Personal Aesthetic Statement – 

I believe what I like about dance is it can be about anything and doesn’t always have to make sense to everyone. It can be something very personal.

I think a person can look at the movements of a dancer and see their emotions. These emotions might be that portrayed by the dancer, but also could be their own emotions because everyone can interpret something different about a dance.
I like Dance as a whole because I believe every part of a dance (the dancer, the music, the choreography, etc.) has something to do with what the whole idea of the dance is.
The thoughts on the dance of that of Martha Graham closely match my ideas of dance because it was her idea that dance begins with your idea and the movement makes you feel the emotion. She made dances about inner movements and what you did.
I feel like emotions can have certain movements to them that can be quickly realized.
Also, I feel that my personal aesthetic of dance has changed throughout the course because I was unaware of how in depth you can interpret dance and how dance can be sought of so differently by each individual.
I guess I never paid that much attention that one dance can spark many different thoughts. I remember at the beginning of class I said I liked dances with a lot going on. I have a better understanding of why I like dances such as this; it is because when I see a dance filled with a lot of variety I can think of many different emotions and thoughts of the dance.
I like dances that can have a lot to discuss or compare. I like to analyze things in my life. I have known this for a long time about myself, but I never really thought that would be why I like certain kinds of dance as well. I’m a very analytical person, and I like to find the key factors of why some things happened or happen. It is said as well that Accountants are very analytical, and like to find things like a detective. My major is Accounting.

I feel like I might interpret dance like a detective in a very analytical way; I always wonder what the key source or emotion of the dance is about.

 

More on Martha Graham: https://www.biography.com/people/martha-graham-9317723

Please note: Martha Graham is a true artist and not to be limited by the short, novice description noted in this piece of writing from a previous student’s perspective. I share the above link so that you can learn more about this artist’s great work.

Below is a choreography by Martha Graham – 

Audio Clip I recorded 10 Years Ago on My College Leadership Experiences, Goals, and Life Lessons from Humble Beginnings

Dear Readers,

I found this audio clip from years ago (probably recorded around 10 years ago) where I recorded about my college leadership experiences, career goals, and shared some of my life-story and lessons learned. I thought this might be inspirational for some even though not a typical post. I hope you enjoy.

Sincerely,
Aleesa

Focus and You Shall Succeed… Summer I Shall Return.

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Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash
I’ve been trying to do too much lately. It’s tough to start a blog, put it on social media and other public outlets, and think of myself as worthy enough to continue this hobby in the public light that I’ve been doing lately. I wanted this to be easy and simply me sharing my heart and creativity, but in all honesty, it hasn’t been that easy for me ever since I started my blog website and have been posting my articles to social media, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, I love writing and creating! What’s hard is starting my blog’s Facebook page and only having 14 people (Thank you so much to my 14 followers!!) like my page. 14 likes, and I have over 175 Facebook friends… I personally invited every one of my friends but 14 is what I get so far! I guess I shouldn’t feel bad about this, but I do. Asking my social media friends and family, who I like to think are some of my biggest fans in life, only to get 14 people after personally inviting seems like a smooth kick in the behind! It really does. Makes me wonder who is honestly caring? Or perhaps it’s because I have the word “beautiful” in my blog title and hence that keeps some people away because maybe it’s too flouncy and bouncy!?!? Boy, the mind can surely go everywhere, can’t it? 🙂
And that’s just it… my mind literally has gone everywhere. 🙂 It’s time to focus. Right now, I have a personal goal that I’m working on that is a mountain of a goal (I’m sorry, I cannot share what that goal is.). I need focus. I need clarity. And I need the discipline to reach this goal.
I’ve given a lot of thought, and what I would like to do for the time being while I work on my goal is to let my blog have a break. I already have as I haven’t posted since the new year, but I wanted to officially share my plans. I will be back with more articles this Summer. I may write on my own, non-publically during my hiatus, and then share these pieces with you in the Summer. We will see!
Thank you for all of your support again. Good luck to all of you in your goals as well. Focus and you shall succeed.
Sincerely,
Aleesa

A year ago?… beauty and acceptance

Someone asked me the question recently, “Think back to last year at this time, and tell me what you see?”

A year ago was the end of 2016, and I was one semester away from graduating with my Masters of Business Administration (MBA). I was so excited to be done and ready to begin a new chapter of my life. I felt proud, excited, and relieved to be done with school soon. However, at the same time, my mind was filled with worry. What was this new chapter of my life without formal classes going to be like and what would I do? At that time, I really wanted change… I felt ready to move on and anxious.

Beyond school, at the end of 2016, I was dating the first man after my last long-term relationship who I thought I had great potential with. I was excited and felt so happy. I was very hopeful. A few months forward and it ended, but I am still thankful to have shared those few months of my life with him.

Of course, there is much more I could say… so many emotions and thoughts at this time last year. I’m smiling as I reminisce for a few minutes back to this time.

I don’t want to further analyze, dwell, or live here though for this is the past. I would rather look back and just simply see the beauty. Accept what was in my past without further analyzing.

Life is now, it is not the past. Though, it is beautiful for a few minutes to look back on, isn’t it?

Photo by Tom Ezzatkhah on Unsplash