Money

Let's talk about money.

About our relationship with money.

I don't know about you, but my relationship status with money stands as: It's complicated.

I've gotten super into podcasts lately (thanks Joel!) and a particularly interesting one is called Death, Sex and Money. It's a podcast where the host talks to people about those things that are typically considered taboo in decent conversation, but frankly shouldn't be.

Talking about money is often a no-no. Which is weird. Money affects us all. Those who have a lot, those who have a little, those who want more, need more, or simply have hangups about it.

I'll be the first to admit that I have some money hangups. I suppose it's not all that surprising. I've spent my twenties being pretty darn broke.

While it was somewhat charming at first young, struggling artist living in the big city has a certain daydreamy quality I'm beginning to get a bitter taste about it. I'm a bit tired of not being able to build a reliable savings or even pretend to be able to have enough money available to start planning for retirement. (Because as all financial planners will tell you: start early!) 

Writing this, however, does force me to stop pouting and look at all sides of the equation. This has caused me to notice the many ways in which I have it incredibly good. The truth is that my level of broke is occurring after having a number of comforts and safety measures paid for.

I live alone. It's a studio apartment, I'm not being grandiose about it, but I could save a lot of money if I was living in a place with several roommates. I've made the choice to pay more in rent for the luxury of privacy. I pay for a parking structure because the parking situation in my neighborhood is heinous. I work a lot of late hours and not only could I be driving around for a while looking for parking, but the idea of walking a long distance, late at night and alone, did not feel particularly safe. I think these are logical choices, but they certainly are choices I am fortunate to be able to make. I also value quality food (no surprise there) and spend a much higher percentage of income on food than average Americans. While I hardly ever go shopping (birthdays and Christmas are when I get new clothes), I still manage to go to some fun (cheap) events, attend some fun (cheap) concerts and go for fun (cheap) weekend adventures. All this while making rent, owning a car, paying car insurance, health insurance, and my student loan payment. 

To summarize: I'm okay. I'm actually quite fortunate. But in order to do those things, all the money that I have coming in is immediately going back out.

And that's not okay.

Not really. I'm not 21. I'm 29. I want to build a savings. I want to plan for retirement. I want to take a reasonable vacation or mini trip without it being really stressful as soon as I come back to pay for my basic expenses. And, yes, I would like to occasionally buy things throughout the year. 

On the one hand, I completely recognize how fortunate I am to even have these goals. I am aware that there are plenty of people in dire straights who would love to be in the position that I am currently in. Still, I think I am completely within my right to strive for these things. To now be in a place where I'm not willing to continue settling for less than these things. 

Money does not buy happiness, but up until a certain point, it does make a huge impact on happiness. That number is much lower than a lot of people think, but that number is higher than where I am currently at. Most studies about money and happiness have found that (depending on personal circumstances) something around the $50,000-$70,000 range is where an individual's income reaches the level where money is no longer directly correlated with happiness. Basically, if an individual is making at least $50,000 (or I would guess more towards $70,000 in high cost of living metropolitans like LA) that person is usually able to comfortably feed, clothe and house themselves, build some savings, and pay for enough luxuries like a vacation and social outings to not have real money woes. At this financial level, happiness is almost exclusively related to things like job satisfaction, personal relationships and health. (You know, the things that we all expect to have a huge impact on our happiness.) Yachts and private jets are not involved. 

Now, you can of course become much more wealthy and have a grand ole time on a yacht or private jet, but rich people are not necessarily any happier than basically comfortable people. 

And that is the point. I don't yet feel basically comfortable.

The math supports my feeling. My income is below that $50,000-$70,000 range. 

So here I am declaring that I am actively in pursuit of the magic $70,000 comfort level.

And yet, there is a tinge of guilt that comes up.

After all, society has lots of negative terms for people seeking greater income: greedy, money grubber, gold digger, money hungry etc.  

While I can rationalize my level of desired income as reasonable and responsible based upon the aforementioned logic, I still get that pang.  And I think that is worth discussing. 

I find it completely moral to attach negative connotations to the idea of seeking ever more power and financial prowess at the expense of others, but does simply seeking moderate comfort fall under that umbrella? Or what about those who do in fact want to be wealthy, but they desire to attain that wealth honorably and with the intention of spending it supporting good companies and good causes? I for one, love to purchase items from companies who practice environmentally conscious methods, pay their people living wages and do good in their communities. And guess what? Those items cost a lot more than the ones from companies who take advantage of inhumane labor overseas and have no concern for environmental impact. I hate to break it to you, but a shirt should not cost $5. Unless it's from Goodwill or a Thrift store, that is not a reasonable market price. Someone is getting screwed. Probably children in Asia. It's disgusting and I don't want to support those companies. I want to support companies that pay fair wages.

I would argue that as a society in America, we don't have a proper understanding of what price points for various items really should be.  We have been confounded by the ridiculously low prices offered by large companies who treat their labor force like crap. Then, we as consumers get all bubbly and excited about the notion of cheap finds without asking the obvious question of WHY?

Why is this so darn cheap?

Is it because it is poor quality? Maybe it just has less features. Maybe it's on sale because the company bet wrong and they have way too much stock left.

There are plenty of acceptable reasons why an item might cost less than a competitor, but most of the price points on common items that we purchase everyday, (food and clothes being big ones), are way too low for some not okay reasons.

While the opposite is certainly also true fashionable brands can charge huge markups simply because of the value attached to their label without actually having any superior practices it doesn't change the fact that our big bargain brands are often guilty of taking advantage of their employees. This is all to say: Do your research. Know who you are buying from.

Know that if you are paying more it is for a good reason and know that if you are paying less it is for an acceptable reason.

I fully recognize that most people have no interest in adding work for themselves and will absolutely choose the 'ignorance is bliss' approach to consumerism. But that is a pretty shameful cop out. It just is.

Especially with the internet, information is so easily available that it doesn't take that much work to learn about companies. Plus, those that are in fact doing good things are pretty in-your-face about it.

This is not to say that it has to be an all or nothing approach. It is quite hard to completely eschew companies with questionable practices, so I'm not about to shame you for ever buying something questionable. But I fully stand by the idea that we need to change our way of thinking. We cannot allow ourselves to be in the dark about company practices.

It is a willful ignorance.

Even if we have been confounded by the saturation of low prices in this country, it is because we have allowed ourselves to be. We are aware of child labor overseas. That story has been told for decades. We have some understanding of costs and value. After all, we get paid. We know minimum wages. It is not as simple as just not knowing any better. We willfully turn a blind eye to this reality when we purchase these unreasonably cheap things with abandon. When we question the higher price points of products by companies that keep their workforce in the USA, pay livable wages, provide health insurance, and purchase their materials from other companies that do the same.

When we imply that $5 clothes are somehow deeply American while the responsibly priced $25 shirt is just 'hipster' or 'elitist' we are perpetuating this negative stereotype. The opposite is usually the truth. If that $5 is caused by American jobs being replaced by child labor overseas and the $25 is representative of paying Americans legal wages, then the $25 shirt is the inherently American option. 

When meat products are priced incredibly low, there is a cost. It usually means that the animals are being kept in Confined-Animal-Feeding-Operations (CAFOs) that are ridiculously inhumane and often incredibly unsanitary. The workers who work in the slaughter houses are often immigrants who are being paid less than minimum wage and have no insurance or rights. Butchers used to be paid well. They made a good living with benefits and there were practices in place to ensure that no one ever worked the particularly upsetting jobs (actually killing the animals for example) too many shifts in a row. There was a recognition and appreciation that repetition of those jobs could be damaging to an individual's mental health. Now, in order to force prices lower and lower, these poor people work incredibly dangerous jobs, are often injured on the job without any recourse, and are often traumatized by their work. When this happens, we as a community all suffer.

The properly raised animals who are humanely killed and processed by people who are paid appropriately will cost more. We should accept this as the necessary price of meat.

Okay so I've moved through a lot of different money-related subjects.

But I really do feel that they are related. Here it is:

I want to make more money because I am living below the magical "comfortable" level (as supported by studies) where I can stop feeling so stressed about paying for things all of the time. Yet, I have some guilt and hangups about desiring more money because negative connotations with money seeking are pervasive in our society. Still, I am able to justify wanting more money not just because I truly believe that everyone is entitled to wanting to reach the "comfortable" level, but also because I want to have enough money to spend it on companies that are operating in ways that I want to support. Whether we are talking about necessities like food and clothes, or unnecessary wants, there are companies out there who make the world go round in a wonderful way. They make quality products and do so by treating their employees well. Which means that they create jobs that people actually want. They contribute to a cycle of money going in and out that allows for everyone (not just the top 1%) to live happy, healthy lives. 

. . . . . . .

There are way more money-related subjects on my mind so I am guessing that I will have a future post to hit on some other topics of a financial nature. 

One such teaser topic: Are the super wealthy required to give back financially to society? If they don't are they ethically 'bad' people?

Comment /Source

Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.

Material Things

fire alarm

Last weekend there was a house fire in Echo park. One young man died. Two were hospitalized. Two were unharmed. 

One of the hospitalized men is my brother's best friend. I also consider him a friend.

The whole story is quite long, but it appears to have been an electrical fire that spread very quickly. Ultimately, my friend sustained injuries when after having led his girlfriend and dog safely outside he thought the fire was small enough still that he could quickly grab his laptop computer (with his dissertation on it) and escape unharmed. Instead, when he was mere feet from exiting the house, the ceiling exploded and landed on him, throwing him to floor. His laptop slid several feet away and his back caught on fire. He heard a voice inside his head telling him to "Go! Go!" and he jumped up as quickly as he could and ran outside. That same inner voice recalled "Stop, drop and roll" and he immediately hit the ground rolling until the flames were out.

He made it out alive, but ultimately sustained 2nd and 3rd degree burns.

His housemate, whom my friend credits with saving all of their lives as he was the one who ran around the house, banging on doors, waking everyone up yelling, "The house is on fire!" had apparently run back into the house as well with the intention of retrieving something. This mate became trapped upstairs and ultimately he was unable to be rescued. 

It is an incredibly sad case. I never met the housemate, but by all accounts he was a guy whose last acts involved saving the of lives of the people he lived with. 

The question I have, that I can't help but have, is why did he reenter the house?

Maybe he believed one of his housemates was still inside. The timeline gets a bit fuzzy, but one housemate had to jump out the window, following his brother's voice as he called out to him from the lawn. Maybe that was why the housemate went back in. He knew his friend was still inside. 

But the other possibility, of course, is that he went back in to retrieve something material. 

I won't ever know his reason, so I'll stop speculating about his actions. 

Instead, I'll take this time to remind myself that there is never any material possession worth going back for. I absolutely understand going back for a person or a pet. Even in that case, though, I'm fairly certain that emergency response professionals would say to remain safely outside and inform the firemen that someone is still inside so that they can handle it. 

It's one of those classic questions that people like to ask, some version of: "If your house is on fire and you can only grab one possession..."

But the reality is that while, of course, we all have irreplaceable sentimental items or important objects that are critical parts of our lives, we can ultimately do without all of them. We can. Perhaps our lives would have to change or we will have lost something with deep emotional ties, but we can move on from that. 

And it is amazing how people rally together in times of crisis and loss. Friends and strangers alike will pull together to help out those who have lost possessions. As a community, we can replace everyday essentials and help to create new memories of caring and support.

I am absolutely grateful for my few things. I don't own much, but what I do I'm glad I have. I do not wish to see them destroyed or otherwise taken from me. Certain electronics are quite critical to my livelihood. Certain clothes and books are comforts. And I certainly have a few sentimental items. And yet. And yet.

And yet I could move on. I could eventually replace items. Over time and "with a little help from my friends..."

Comment /Source

Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.

Time and Habits

I distinctly remember writing about having not written in a while at the top of my last post. Back in November of LAST YEAR.

Not to steal from Britney, but...

Oops, I did it again.

I just haven't been writing recently. Which is not great. Writing is good for me.

Granted, I have not been writing for some fairly positive reasons: my job, general busyness. But, I can't help feeling as though I'm allowing something to atrophy. People do tend to speak of creativity as a muscle and by not actively flexing it, am I allowing it wither?


Huh. I wrote those previous words in February.

It's June.

This is now officially a problem. 

Seeing as how this has become a pattern — a pattern of absence what is it? What is it about time and habits that has led to this abandonment of something I love and intended to grow?


HA! So I freely admit to adding those last lines and then proceeding to sit there staring at my computer screen for a couple days, my fingers hovering over my keyboard, without a single thing to say. I was stuck. I intended to blather on for a bit about precisely why I stopped writing, but the words weren't coming. I knew it pretty much had something to do with a promotion at work, busier personal life and the such. But who cares? It's always stuff like that when we stop tending to things that we promised ourselves we would prioritize. 

As I sat there, fingers fluttering, I believe my thought was that I should delve deep into the 'why' of it all and create an abstract theory that poked around concepts of habits and choices, but it all got lost in it's lack of purpose.

Because I realized that wasn't the story. That story was boring. It doesn't provide value to say that at the end of a work day I started choosing unwinding with Netflix over mining my brain for cohesive thoughts about life.

What matters it what comes next. Starting from here.

Declaring that starting now I'm committing to writing one post a week. Which may very well result in some short and/or obscure posts (so dear, kind reader you have been warned), but ultimately should force me into a new habit.

A habit of being accountable to this work.

And that, to me, is way more interesting. Because this serves. It's of value to move forward and make a commitment to writing on the regular. I tried simply acknowledging that I wasn't writing and that succeeded only in continuing my hiatus. Instead, I'm going to take a stab at accountability.

Make this declaration here in writing both for myself and to perhaps inspire a little bit of commitment in anyone who also may have let something slip aside.

photos: source, source

Comment

Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.

Having it All Together

Dang it.

I dropped the ball and haven't written in a little while.

Apologies.

I've been busy with my job and moving into a new apartment. Yet, one day, when I still had one foot in my brother's apartment and one in my new studio, I slipped.

I saw my Facebook Newsfeed.

I don't usually do that.

I avoid my Newsfeed intentionally as I have discovered that I don't enjoy a website telling me what I am supposed to know about other people. If I want to see pictures of my friends I prefer them to be shown to me in person over coffee. Or in the very least, having been sent a particular photo directly because it holds some relevance for me personally.

That's not to say that I am not at times interested in the general shares of people that I know, but I am more than happy to seek that info out rather than just have it laid upon my virtual doorstep.

Perhaps I should go through and alter all of my newsfeed settings, but that is incredibly tedious. It's far easier to just avoid it all together.

Of course, the real reason that I don't want to view everyone's shares is that I find it incredibly unhealthy for myself. You know, the whole, "comparison is the thief of joy" concept.

I like to think that I have matured a whole heck of a lot with regard to that idea, but it's amazing how much I really don't want to know what is up with the vast number of Facebook "friends" I have that I no longer interact with.

This age of technology has seemingly pushed aside the forgotten art of losing touch. 

Really and truly. Losing touch is not a bad thing. It makes room for the people and places that are your present. 

That's not to say that you should lose touch with everyone. Some relationships are worth preserving and technology has made communication and interaction possible at a distance. Lovely. But I'm becoming more and more discerning with regard to whose lives I want to allow into my present day psyche.

I'm still figuring out what I want for my life and I have found that my desires can become tainted by viewing other people's choices if I'm not careful.

Yes, I am older and wiser than I was at 18 when this whole FB thing got going, but I'm not entirely confident that I won't be thrown off my rocker by attempting to keep up with the varied happenings and accomplishments of hundreds of people somewhere on the scale of acquaintance to friend.

I'm firmly in my late twenties now and I can say that my life is rather different from what I imagined as a teenager my circumstances would be at this age. 

There was certainly a time when I thought that I would "have it all together" by my late twenties. If "having it all together" by now was some figurative target, it didn't pan out.

Although, I'm not actually sure what "having it all together" truly means. Society tends to label it as financial success, marriage, kids, homeownership etc. Those kind of things. 

Those sort of things are great for a lot of people, but with the exception of the financial angle, they haven't been priorities for me while in my twenties.

And there it is. Surprisingly, after being sucked into a Facebook spiral that revealed that I can, indeed, still be caught off guard by the different life paths of old friends, I found myself having a bit of a revelation. Despite the many, many challenges, I've concluded that I'm kind of digging not "having it all together" quite yet.

I like the fact that I am a bit of a unwritten book. Everyone's story is still unfolding, but I'm pretty sure mine is still sorting out main characters and nailing down major plot points. I like that this is because I've got a multitude of interests, that I desire to pave uncharted territory and that I prefer a certain amount of unconventionality in my life. I enjoy the fact that I know what it feels like to have absolutely no idea how things are going to work out and to still be actively in the creating phase. I feel as though I have great loves and great adventures coming my way and while the uncertainty of it can be unnerving, I'm learning (ever so slowly) to trust in the process and enjoy the moment. 

Here I am. Creating my own undeniably individual course. One day at a time.

Having it all together

Granted, for all of my lack of "togetherness" I suppose I've managed to meet some expectations of "adulthood" and make progress. I've never missed rent (though there have been close calls), I've spent many years able to afford my own apartment without roommates, earned multiple degrees and grown to like who I am as a person a little more each day.

And I guess that is where the joy in my lack of "togetherness" lays: in feeling as though I'm still growing. Despite my lack of many traditional benchmarks, I look back at how I thought and behaved at 18, 22, 25 and recognize huge positive shifts. Despite my own surprise at being in my late twenties, I'm really enjoying being 28.

I realize, of course, that no one ever stops learning, even after "getting it together." Whatever that even means.

Every day presents new wins and challenges that stem growth and there is no such thing as having it "All Figured Out." Still, I kind of like being in a place where I can freely admit to being unabashedly ambling in the wind for a bit longer.

I see some lights at the ends of tunnels, which is necessarily reassuring, but I'm still learning how to combine separate tunnels into one giant chasm that allows for all my varied passions to be tended. 

I suspect that I am not alone in this. I think that my generation has experienced a large influx of unmet youthful expectations with regard to stability and supposed "American Dream" fulfillment coming at a young age. Those of us born in the 80's and 90's are being met with a different economic climate than those who entered the job market at that time. I'm not about to prattle on about student debt and unemployment as it is already being discussed at length by those with more education on the matter, but the point is that less of us are in our dream jobs, in committed relationships and feeling financially secure in our twenties. The technology boom, which has fostered increased communication, global interaction and entrepreneurialism, has presented us all with the wonderful ability to think outside of the box with regard to our livelihoods. With that, however, (and the aforementioned high debt and high unemployment) has come a shift in timeline for classic benchmarks. I rather like the fact that the checklists are being edited, but it can cause some internal struggle when society at large (especially older generations) still reinforce those guidelines. 

Hence, I write this to tell my peers and fellow comrades leery of Facebook-comparison not to judge ourselves so harshly or feel as though we have come up short. 

This is not an argument in favor of complacency, rather it is a suggestion to inject some kindness into whatever inner monologue is happening in our minds. Take away any previously held assertions and instead focus on our own happiness. Of all of the things to feel frustrated about, not meeting arbitrary benchmarks shouldn't be one of them. Sorting out life will always come with its unique set of complications and confusions so perhaps we can at least remove one unhelpful point of upset.

And even more importantly, for those who may "have it all together" let's be clear: you are allowed to still have crappy days. You are allowed to both love your life and be slightly envious of the freedom that can come with being a mess. You are allowed to one day wake up and decide that your current "all together" needs to change to a different version of togetherness. Just as we amblers are allowed to have the best of days (as well as the worst of days that lead to even better days). Amblers are allowed to both love the journey and sometimes shed salty tears of dismay. We are allowed to wake up one day and decide that our feet are tired and we'd like to hang our boots here for a while. 

 

Photos via Pinterest

My Thoughts on Native Advertising

We live in an interesting world these days with respect to information dissemination. More than ever breaking news is available at our fingertips, whether streamed live into our phones, computers, tablets or televisions. Nearly everyone has a camera at the ready in case they need to document some random happening in their own lives or capture (what used to be unseen) moments in other people's lives. While access to information is largely positive, with respect to important global events and accelerated communication when necessary, we have created a strange new environment of information overload. Suddenly any comment can be presented as legitimate information. As a result, we have forgotten the importance of utilizing only credible sources.

There is a new phenomenon where reporters essentially regurgitate the words of their viewers in the hopes of pandering to them in order to increase ratings. Instead of providing substantial information backed by research, news anchors and pundits spin emotional tales devoid of facts because they believe they are reflective of their viewers current opinions. The idea being that instead of informing the public, "news" programs simply tell people what they want to hear, thus increasing viewership.

How nuts is it that ratings drives content in the reporting of national and international news?! 

The problem is that that news is a business. Ratings matter because journalists, and all of the people whose jobs are involved with researching what is happening in the world and then informing us about it, need to be paid for their time and effort, and increasingly, we (the public) don't want to do that anymore. If we aren't going to pay for our news in the classical sense of purchasing the medium news comes in (i.e. newspapers), then advertisers are going to become news outlets' main source of income. 

The truth is that as print media loses out to the internet, news organizations have moved online. Most major newspapers have web versions of their papers with the same content. The difference is that because we are used to websites being viewable for free (outside of paying for internet access), readers don't like the idea of paying to view newspaper articles online.

As a result, our "news" must debase itself into being nothing more than fodder for viewers in order to serve as filler for advertisements. Even worse, sometimes the "news" itself has become actual advertisements.

Think HBO's business model versus that of basic cable. HBO doesn't have commercials because its viewers pay directly for access to its content. On basic cable, however, networks make money by selling advertisements. They utilize popular content to draw viewers in to each time slot.

Print news used to operate on a more HBO-like model where the public simply paid for the papers themselves. The papers contained some advertisements, but ads were easily identified as being paid advertisements unaffiliated with content.

As the trend has moved more and more towards ad-generated revenue, media are experimenting with new ways of injecting advertisements into their products. Instead of simply cramming in more obvious ads, advertisements are becoming integrated directly into content.

It's called Native Advertising.

Native Advertising is when actual posts, segments and articles are directly sponsored by a company.

These ads are made to look like independent reporting, but are paid for by outside companies.

It's the difference between an independent tester evaluating toothpastes and declaring a winner and Colgate sponsoring an article that (surprise!) names Colgate toothpaste as the best.

While these sponsored posts, segments and articles will technically be labeled as sponsored content, they are purposefully designed to appear as regular content. There is a range of native advertising to be sure, with some being relatively innocuous. Unfortunately, there is the darker side where sponsored opinion posts work incredibly hard to appear as independent, investigative journalism. 

John Oliver did a fantastic segment on Native Advertising, covering many of the topics I have mentioned above. Check it out below.

Given this new reality of sponsored content invading our journalism, how can we fight back? Well, for one, we might want to try being cool with directly paying for quality content. 

I know. Clearly we have a problem with this or we wouldn't be having this conversation, but come on people! Most of us can afford to pay a few dollars for news. After all, many of us pay for Netflix.

Look into actually paying for a newspaper or online subscription. If cost is a huge concern, be on the lookout for the many deals and sales going on that further slash their prices.

The second thing you can do is teach yourself about Native Advertising and be wary of any content with a mention of a sponsor. Some of it is harmless, but if an article is attempting to make a persuasive argument about an important national or global issue, be sure to make note of any sponsorships. Would the sponsor have a particular stake in the conclusion? While I am sure that an article could be written independently and then receive sponsorship after the fact, the whole notion of sponsorship makes me suspicious of manipulation of facts and tone.

  There are many books written about marketing and the art of persuasion, such as the one above. If you are interested in learning about how our figurative buttons are being pushed, check them out.

There are many books written about marketing and the art of persuasion, such as the one above. If you are interested in learning about how our figurative buttons are being pushed, check them out.

And that brings me to number three. If you agree with me and will never fully trust information sponsorship, then by all means, let your news outlets know this. Tell them that they are compromising their integrity. 

It's one thing to slap a name on a thing for mere product placement (hello every sports event ever "Brought to you by ______!") and something entirely different to sponsor content that reflects positively on your company under the guise of independent journalism. I think we need to tell our media where the line is drawn. 

Obviously, news outlets are entitled to make money, but we should tell them that we view their content for reliable news. We tolerate their advertisements as a necessary part of the equation as long as their news remains untarnished. Once they lose credibility, we will no longer be buying.

Then take our business elsewhere. (Or take our viewing eyes elsewhere.)

While I would argue that many news outlets have long since lost their credibility, many more may be compromised due to this trend. If we find our current resource is becoming inundated with troublesome native advertising, we should switch to sources that aren't.

Creative Genius

I relish the words of author Elizabeth Gilbert and Eat, Pray, Love has been my favorite book for the last 6 years.

For some reason this can elicit jeers from supposedly highbrow, nose-in-the-air sorts of people. (Such a fun sort, these people.) And it irks me.

Actually to be fair, the reason I eluded to is not just SOME unknown reason; I know the exact reason: Eat, Pray, Love garnered mainstream bestseller popularity in recent times. Thus, "boo, hiss!") 

It bothers me that people so often belittle artistry the minute it becomes popular. This is most commonly recognized in the realm of music, but it also happens in every other creative atmosphere. It is silly, and above all, such rash and illogical judgement only prevents an audience from beholding a possible moment of genius.

Perhaps a work will not change or resonate with you, but if you pass it up for reasons as irrelevant as commercial success, you've only robbed yourself of an opportunity. And worse, your prejudice may infect others and prevent them from either openly expressing their experience or from even experiencing it at all.

Even more to the point: who the heck cares with what someone else feels a connection?

The attachment that we have to the art we like and the art we create (not to mention the art we don't like and the art that others create) is too pervasive.

At some point we need to detach from the result. From the way that something is received. And simply allow it to be. 

Elizabeth Gilbert has a beautiful TED Talk about creative genius and I've included it below. 

Elizabeth talks about the prevailing assumption that artistry is connected to suffering. That our contemporary creative artists are somehow being killed by their art.

Then she asks the audience a most brilliant question: "Are we all cool with that?"

Must artistry and creativity be the death of their vessels? 

Gilbert gives this speech at a very apt time. Between what she refers to as the "freakish success" of Eat, Pray, Love and the publishing of her wildly anticipated follow up to that behemoth, which will ultimately be judged as the work that came after her "freakish success" and potentially doomed to never reach such great heights. 

That kind of pressure and conceivably depressing notion is exactly the sort of misery that, as Gilbert mentions, "could lead one to start drinking gin at 9:00 in the morning."

Alcoholism and other unhealthy vices have a history of running rampant in the artistic community. Why is that? Is it inherent in the type of people who wish to share aspects of themselves with an audience or has our modern understanding of genius placed a false and considerable burden on our artists?

"False" in that perhaps the human involved shouldn't be seen as one with their genius. It seems to me that by doing so we strip people of all of their humanity and value that is unrelated to making art. By defining artists exclusively by their art we have inadvertently created a hole in which artists can lose themselves.

Gilbert makes this point in her speech: that prior to the humanist movement, the ancients believed that genius was something external to each artist. An artist was seen as a person who had a connection to a special spiritual being. This spiritual being was referred to as a Genius. It was this separate Genius who was credited with bestowing brilliance and allowing creativity to be expressed through the artist.  People were seen has having a genius rather than being a genius. What this difference in perception allowed was a degree of separation between an artist and his/her work. Thus, no artists could claim complete credit for successes or complete responsibility for failures. Essentially, this protected artists from overwhelming narcissism, which is so common today.

Ronen

Some modern artists internalize this notion, even without having been raised in the culture of the ancients. They just intuitively allow for their work to be a collaborative project. Sometimes this is merely in pointing to all of the other humans who were involved in the process. Sometimes it is by crediting God. Other times still, it is by simply allowing creativity to flow through oneself whenever it does and detach from the outcome. 

I guess my posit to all of you is that we need to make this shift. We need to allow our artists to be human beings with value outside of their creative contributions and permit their identities to exist independent of their successes and failures. If we grant artists this freedom hopefully more of them can thrive and live to bear us all many more gems without buying into such crap ideas as, "You are only as good as your last project." That is an absolutely absurd concept conceived with the thought that perhaps fear of failure and/or fear of becoming irrelevant will wring one more commercial success out of someone else. A "someone else" for whom the person proselytizing this inane concept does not value on a human level and has a financial stake in the outcome.

I would like to point out that I actually wrote the vast majority of this post many days before actor/comedienne Robin William's passing. There have been many headlines on the subject, most of which reference society's great loss. One which was simply titled: Genius Gone.

Comment /Source

Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.

It's All Things

Not all that surprisingly, many people have asked me, "What's it like to be back in LA?"

I've been trying to figure out how to answer that question and what I have discovered is rather simple: it is all things.

All of the things.

It is strange. It is also normal, which feels kind of strange. It is scary, exciting, daunting, brimming with possibility. Both familiar and different.

The answer to the question, "Is it ______?" is yes.

 every emotion

My emotions and sensory perceptions are very changeable. 

It's not that I am feeling every emotion all at once, rather I feel each emotion in quick succession. One moment I'm focused on the possibilities and then I have a momentary freak out.

It's similar to the latest studies that have come out on multitasking, stating that we never really multitask, but instead simply switch back and forth between different actions very quickly.  

It helps to be doing. Idleness for me is the enemy of positive thought. Do not confuse relaxation with idleness; sometimes all I want to do is sit with a cup of tea and watch a favorite show. But that usually comes after having accomplished things and then my mind is happy to chill out. Meditation is not idleness either. Idleness stems from confusion. The "huh, what should I do now?" that can happen when I don't really have anywhere I need to be, my mind is too worn out to write any more job applications, but not quite so tired as to merit just chilling out.  Basically, it is when I create the story within my own head that I should be doing something and I don't really have anything on the docket.

Once again, it is just me. Being crazy. Creating my own upset.

I'm working on it.

Overall, things are quite good.

I'm anxious about employment and income and all of those grownup things, but I'm working towards a happy result, I can tell. It is coming. I'm having interviews, I'm reacquainting with old friends, and I'm remembering/learning my way around this silly city again. I went to Disneyland.

Things are working out and looking up and all other positive turns of phrase. I'm just in a constant state of flux. Which, clearly, most of me really loves. It must, or I wouldn't constantly find myself in these transition phases. Most of me loves change. Is comforted by discomfort. I suppose it makes me feel as if I'm growing, which I am. One of these days, (soon, pretty please) the other part of me is going to learn to trust it and stop spinning stories born of fear and anxiety.

That will be a beautiful day.

 beautiful day

photo: 1. source 2. source

Comment /Source

Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.

On Being a Badass

I hope you like feminist rants ‘cause that’s kinda my thing.
— Jess from New Girl

Allow me to pat myself on the back for a moment.

I recognize that society doesn't tend to appreciate people who congratulate themselves, especially women who congratulate themselves, but today I'm going to do just that. Because, dammit, I deserve it.

I just upended my life. I moved across the country with my life in my car. And there waiting for me on the other side in Los Angeles: a giant question mark.

I don't have a job (yet. I'm intending that it will sort itself out shortly). And because of that I don't yet know where exactly I am going to end up.

I drove halfway across the country solo. The other half I had the company of my best friend and we turned it into a travel adventure.

I planned out the entire thing myself.

This is no small feat. Yes, I am hardly the only person to do this; I personally know multiple people who have journeyed cross-country, but this in no way takes away from what I have done.

I am a badass. And anyone who has ever done the same thing is also a badass.

 badass woman

It is of constant frustration for me how often women (many men too I'm sure, but women in particular) downgrade their own accomplishments and deny compliments. It is seen as the socially appropriate thing to do, it would seem. 

You know, the whole, "No, no I am not" response to someone calling her smart, pretty or talented. (Dammit, Woman! Just say, "Thank you!")

But even more than that, let's celebrate strength. Let's celebrate bravery. These are qualities of the women that I admire and hopefully I embody them myself. I'm not saying that there isn't room for growth. There will always be growth. Hopefully, today is the least enlightened I will be from this day forward. But, I'm not about to downplay my accomplishments because modesty is supposed to be synonymous with femininity. 

Which is stupid.

Being humble is wonderful, but being humble isn't about thinking that your accomplishments are mediocre or worse. It's about recognizing that your attainments do not in some way make you a superior being to your fellow humans.

Women should not be afraid to be proud of themselves. I mean honestly, what kind of role models are we to young girls if we constantly devalue our achievements? 

Today, I am proud of myself. 

What I did was intimidating and challenging. And I did it.

My desire and ability to up and go to far away places is one of the things that I like best about myself. Not everyone does this. It doesn't make me a better person than anyone else, but it does make me a badass. 

And since I would not be able to be the badass that I am today without all of the amazing badass women who have come before me, here's to them. Thank you women who fought for women's rights, who broke glass ceilings and who raised young girls into confident, intelligent, courageous women.

 suffragettes

photo credit: source

4 Comments /Source

Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.