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?

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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

In my 28th year

I turned 28 on Saturday.

Apparently, that is supposed to mean something. Some metaphorical turning of the page.

Our society is rather preoccupied with youth, aging, not-appearing-to-be-aging, and physical decay.  

It's bizarre, actually.

Besides stemming from a fear of death, why would aging be seen as such an awful thing?

If we are able to remove the deep-seated fear of death that most people carry, can we stop viewing birthdays as worrisome passage of time? What if we count our lives in lessons learned or experiences had? I want to keep track of fears overcome and the degree to which I have learned how to love. Those take time to accumulate, thus living (and aging) is beautiful progress.

We seem to assign certain expectations and common benchmarks to different ages, as if we are bound by these rules on a cellular level. Your choices are your own. You do not have to subscribe to the notion that you are ever too old to try new things, have adventures or make big life changes. 

I find it exceptionally funny, if somewhat strange and even a bit disheartening, that we seem to do this to ourselves at such remarkably (and increasingly) young ages. I remember having a bit of a crisis at turning 22.

22!

At the time, I felt as though I had surpassed all of the birthdays where I had new allowances to look forward to. 16 and a driver's license, 18 and a legal adult, 21 and legal to drink alcohol...they were all behind me. On top of it, with every passing 20-something year I was feeling stressed about meeting expectations that I had set out for myself.  

I was not yet working a job I loved. I wasn't where I wanted to be financially. And since I am attempting to do artistic and entrepreneurial things, there have been very few ways to measure my strides towards those goals. I felt frustrated and lost. 

Which is exactly why each birthday was vexing. It brought up the disconnect between my previous expectations and my reality.

It was all in my mind.

I invented the problem and I could just as easily allow for the solution. 

Let go.

Once I let go of my associations between a number and my story about what that represented, everything shifted. 

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This is a relatively recent realization. 26 is probably when I started to recognize that I was being rather unkind to myself and perhaps I should cut it out. Granted, this isn't like switching on a light; where once it's on it's on. I still ponder about my age and my life each April, but these days I am able to (mostly) be an observer of the moment.  

Okay, so I do wonder if I'm starting to look older. I am firmly in my LATE twenties now. I still get carded at bars, but I have been curious about how my appearance has changed over the 8 years that I have been in my twenties. Luckily for me, Photo Booth exists.

If you were to look at Photo Booth on my computer (the made-for-selfie's application on Mac laptops) I would look incredibly narcissistic. And that makes me laugh. The good news about having yearly selfie sessions (that normally stay for-my-eyes only) is that it is a wonderful exercise in aging. 

Below, for your viewing pleasure (and perhaps just for a good laugh at my expense) is a collage of various computer selfie's from the past 8 years all mixed up. Besides the hilarious observation that I clearly prefer one side of my face to the other, and that I like to either prop up my chin or my hair with my hand, I think that it is remarkably hard to arrange the correct chronological order. 

Despite the overly self-involved nature of selfies, I think I will continue to have a solo Photo Booth session annually. I think it will be an interesting way to track myself over time and have some fun with the aging process.

Even making this collage has been surprisingly self-affirming. A welcome reminder that the passage of time is both compelling and rather unworthy of our apprehension.

Yes, I recognize that this is a collage of my twenties, not a collage spanning over multiple decades into middle age, but since I had already begun to agonize over possible unwanted changes, it is good to remember that the voices in my head that like to self-criticize are dumb.

When I'm 50, I hope to enjoy looking at my appearance from over the ages and see the beauty in each passing year. Hopefully, I will think back to the moments in my twenties when I thought unkind things about my appearance, remember how ridiculous that was, have a good laugh, and admire my wonderful laughter lines; appreciating that I had a marvelous time creating those creases.

And then I hope that when I'm 90, I look back on my appearance into my senior years, still seeing the beauty, and think back to when I was 50 and thought that I had laughter lines. But no, oh no, little did I know how much more laughter I still had ahead of me to really make them stick.

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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.

Owning My Fear

Fear. The most cutting of all four letter words. I've talked a bit about fear and consciously choosing to surround myself with supportive folks. (For example, this blog post here.) I am talking about it again because it's a common theme in my life, and as I have discovered, a common theme in many people's lives.

I am a strong believer that for anyone who is attempting to suss out a life by way of uncharted territory, it is extra important to choose the company you keep carefully. 

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There are people that throw around the word "can't" too freely. They wield it like a sword ready to cut down those that seek to stray from the acceptable path.

The strange truth is that despite how it may seem, these people are probably not out to hurt us. People who inject such negativity into other people's lives are far too consumed by their own experiences for it to truly be about us. It is about them. Their attitudes are a reflection upon their own inhibitions or life circumstances.  

This awareness lends me some compassion towards people that say unsupportive things, but it does not mean that I need to choose to prolong interaction with them. And nor do you if you find yourself in a room full of naysayers. You can leave that room. 

I'm also learning that fear is not a bad thing. It is how we respond to our fears that matters.

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These days my level of inner calm is a pendulum.  

I started to panic about moving back to LA because I had, somewhat arbitrarily, set the end of April as my departure date. This having to do mainly with the fact that my birthday is at the end of April and therefore it felt like a good time to high-tail it out of here. Seeing as how it is already mid-April, that date was clearly overly ambitious. Time flew and I felt completely unprepared.  I was supposed to fit in multiple trips before leaving! Not to mention actually getting packed and ready.  

The pendulum had swung too far to the right; I was feeling rushed, completely caught off guard by the swift passage of time.

Then my mother calmly reminded me through an episode of hysterics on the phone that I set this date for myself and I didn't actually have to be out by a certain time.

Oh, right.

As it turns out, delaying making concrete departure plans was a good thing, as there are new developments in the works causing some shifting in dates. 

After this release of my timetable, I had a few days of genuine calm. I felt at ease for the first time in a while.

And then the pendulum started to swing back the other way. Now there were too many questions! When AM I getting out of here? Seriously, what AM I doing? Is LA the right move? GAH!

Hello, my name is Katie Anxiety Habib.

I am a bit ridiculous and I suppose the only redeeming quality is that I know it and can ultimately laugh about it; you know, when I'm not in the midst of a frenzy.  Wait, I take it back. I have been known to do a laugh-cry.

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The take away here is that it is all going to be okay.

(Did that feel like a leap? Stay with me.)

And since that is really all that I ever need to hear, I am saying it to you. 

It is all going to be okay.

If you have genuine dreams and are in active pursuit of those dreams, keep trucking! Living with uncertainty is a rather uncomfortable place to be, but I am a big believer in pushing ourselves, striving for new horizons and embracing change. Even in my only 27 (nearly 28 now!) years, I can already see the truth in Mark Twain's words, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than the things you did do."  

Foraging ahead is scary. It is. If we are the one clearing the path then we don't know for certain what the future looks like. 

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Living in the questions is not how we are taught to function. If you find yourself in a state of anxiety over your life, make the question smaller until it feels manageable.  If your entire life feels like one big question mark, and at the moment that feels terrifying instead of freeing and it can absolutely be the latter! That's my ultimate goal. If you are already there, Bravo! But if you are like me and that level of trust is still a burgeoning practice, give this a whirl stop asking that large of a question. Don't ask yourself how your life will look five years from now. Focus on just this year, or this month, this day, or even just this very moment. What is it that you want to do right now? What would make you feel calm and centered right now?

And trust me, we want to feel calm and centered. From that place we can conquer the world.   

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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.

Compare Much?

I got published in Flux!

Thanks Flux!

In their own words: Flux is a space for those of us who are trying to navigate the beginnings of adulthood to safely express our views and experiences on topics that affect our daily lives. Personal stories, reflections, political views—they all have a place here. This is a judgment-free zone for those of us working to figure out what it means to be a “grownup.”

Here is an excerpt of my article titled Maybe Other People's Lives Don't Matter.

As it turns out, turning twenty didn’t actually make me much less like a teenager.

At 18, I really did think of myself as discerning and astute. I had it in my head that I was now a real-life adult and that I was in control of my own life. In actuality, I was often affected by my surroundings and fairly insecure about a lot of things. I suppose being easily influenced is a rather common trait among teenagers. Unfortunately, that unpleasant state of confusion and that search for exterior validation didn’t magically go away when I turned twenty.

I’ve come to realize that classic “peer pressure,” which is often depicted as an exclusive product of childhood, sticks around well into adulthood. In fact, there is a solid possibility that I will one day be 70 and will face manipulation by my fellow 70 year olds. (I’ve worked in a country club and witnessed this happening first-hand.) But, it is definitely an epidemic when we’re in our twenties. I mean seriously, why do you think the most coveted key demographic for advertisers is 18-34? Because we are impressionable! And on top of that, we tend to buy shit. Because we actually believe that we need it!

Granted, besides the already often-discussed consequences of consumerism-gone-wild, I don’t actually think that wanting to wear fashionable clothes or have the latest iPhone is super terrible or indicative of a personal crisis. We are allowed to like shiny things. No, I’m more concerned about being so affected about others’ opinions of how we live our lives.

Click here to read the rest of Maybe Other People's Lives Don't Matter

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.

Getting Yelped

During my early twenties, I held one of those rites of passage, character-building jobs known as being a waitress.  Or for you fancy restaurant industry types: a server.  Yes, I was a server for a couple of years and in general I think I was pretty good at my job. Which, by the way, is actually not a super easy job.  I know it looks like it would be really easy, but the truth is that being a server is only easy when everything goes smoothly and all of your customers are nice.  This never happens.  Instead, you inevitably get some really difficult tables, the kitchen gets backed up, people keep changing their order after you’ve already put it in the computer and you inexplicably get caught trying to take the order of a party of 10 for over 20 minutes.

via blogs.sap.com

via blogs.sap.com

            Most of the time I was pretty good at keeping my cool.  Well, not actually, just in appearance with my tables.  Trust me, all servers are bitching up a storm about how crazed they are to one another in the back.  But every now and again, my horror would show up on my face.  I honestly don’t think it’s my fault; my face is overly expressive.  Can’t be helped.  Still, one day, when I was not stoked to be at work, I served a lady who apparently liked to write reviews on Yelp. 

Remember Naomi from the movie  Waiting.   Every waitress can relate to her.

Remember Naomi from the movie Waiting.  Every waitress can relate to her.

            Okay, so I really would like to talk some trash here because I personally think that it is incredibly shitty to call out a broke waitress by name in an online review unless this person was a straight up jerk.  In all honesty, the write up wasn’t that bad and did not get me fired or anything.  It did get me called out by my manager in a shift meeting, though.  But here’s the thing: I wasn’t great that day.  It started off just fine, but I was feeling grumpy and when she started complaining that the food came out in the wrong order when I didn’t realize that she wanted the food in a particular order my patience was thin.  Normally, I would have put on my standard overly apologetic server speak and been uber nice to make up for it, but that day I wasn’t having it.  It just seemed absolutely ridiculous to me that she required the food in a certain order when this was an average Chinese food restaurant where it’s all pretty interchangeable and most of our clientele doesn’t care.  Or if they do, they specify.  Then when I thought she was completely stiffing me on a tip I made a point not to say my usual “Thank you so much” spiel when she left.  It turned out that she did leave me an okay tip... and a blast on yelp.  Ouch.  Lesson learned. 

            So back to my original point, I still think it’s shitty of her to use someone’s name when it’s not like I called her names or something.  In general, I’m a fan of supporting what you like and not bashing what you don’t.  I think the internet has made it far too easy for people to insult others.  I have never in my life done that and I would never complain about food order or just about anything that seems kind of beside the point.  I’m a super chill customer so it always blows my mind when other people are not.  And yet, I would have been far better off sucking it up and being a gracious server in spite of it.  So here’s the lesson twenty somethings: sometimes you are going to be moody and not like your current “not your dream job” job.  Do a good job anyway.  I mean, don’t kill yourself trying to make the world’s greatest latte or something, but put it this way: you’re never going to regret doing any job well.  You may regret screwing up a job, even one that you didn’t think you cared about.  Being professional does not come back to bite you in the ass.  Being unprofessional might.  Why risk it?

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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.

We Are Whole And Complete

I have a tendency to try to fix things.  On some level this is a positive quality.  For one, I give pretty spot on advice to my friends and family.  I am incredibly adept at being objective with other people’s dilemmas and when something really does need to be done, I’ve got ideas, suggestions, and different ways of looking at an issue.  (Of course, my own life is a different story.)  On the other hand, viewing us as beings that require fixing really isn’t conducive to creating a safe space for people to heal and feel loved.  A situation can be fixed.  A table can be fixed.  We do not need to be fixed.

via wallpapersfor.me

via wallpapersfor.me

The words that we choose when describing a situation are important.  They shape the conversation.  The word "fixed" can sometimes carry too much negative connotation.

The truth is that no one needs to be fixed, because we are not broken.  Even if we want to alter something about how we are living our lives, we are not inherently a broken product. 

We are whole and complete, AND there is room for transformation, movement and change.

I love this idea.  It was completely novel to me when one of my teachers taught this concept.  The idea that these two possibilities could coexist blew my mind. 

How do we live this truth?  How do we remember that we are whole and complete while we are attempting to transform in some way?

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via pinterest

1.  Remove judgment words

The way that we shape the conversation about whatever we want to change is incredibly important.  When we talk about ourselves (or others) we shouldn’t use words like “right” and “wrong,” “good” and “bad.”  You are not a bad person.  Even if you feel as though you have made mistakes, you have the ability to make new choices going forward.  The way you have been living your life isn’t wrong, it just may not be serving you.   This approach is much kinder and more likely to help you achieve the shift that you aspire to.

2.  View bumps in the road as necessary lessons

So what if it took years to realize that a relationship, career path, daily habit etc. wasn’t working for us.  We know now.  Let’s chalk it up to a meaningful life lesson and be grateful to be on the other side.  Regret is unhelpful and paralyzing.  In grade school, we used to get gold stars for learning new things.  Instead of lamenting that we didn’t miraculously know everything from the beginning, let’s celebrate our new education.  We figured it out!  Now we can move on.

3. Love ourselves

I tend to harp on this one a lot, but if underneath the stumbles and frustrations we can still look at ourselves with love and compassion we are going to be able to move forward.  No matter what it is that needs to shift in our lives, a small detail or a considerable overhaul, we are whole and complete with the innate power to transform.  I’m quite confident that this mentality results in much more action and success. 

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via pinterest

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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 Been a Long Day

When I graduated high school, we made tri-fold poster boards.  I honestly don't remember what the purpose of these boards was, but essentially they were supposed to capture and highlight our high school experiences.  

Everyone picked a title or theme for their board.

I picked this cartoon from Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson.  

Calvin and Hobbes

The title of my board was "It's been a long day."

I own multiple Calvin and Hobbes printed books.  I absolutely love them.  For some light reading the other night, I was flipping through my Calvin and Hobbes The Sunday Pages 1985-1995 and came across that cartoon.  

I ended up reading the entire book (it's not that hard to do, it is full of comics after all) and the very last strip in the book is the final Calvin and Hobbes strip of the series.

It's beautifully minimalist.  And personally, that's the strip I want to inhabit.  Let's go exploring.

Calvin and Hobbes last strip
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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.

Gorgeous, everyday luxuries

Sometimes I struggle with being in the present.  I forget to appreciate the beauty of everyday pleasures.  I don't just mean a divine cup of coffee or the birds melodically chirping outside, although those count.  I find that I am actually better at noticing and appreciating tiny indulgences and nature's backdrop than I am at the bigger security net of my life. 

Coffee

I woke up today in a bed with a mattress, pillow, clean warm sheets, multiple fleecy blankets and a comforter.  This bed is located inside of a house that has electricity, running water, an interior heating/cooling system and advanced fiber-optic technology courtesy of Verizon.  Let's add to the picture the fact that I woke up in a place of safety, without fear of where my next meal would come from or if a militant mob would bust down the door guns blazing.  That's not to say that there isn't plenty of propaganda out there assaulting my eyes and ears on a daily basis, warning me of larger than life dangers that threaten to collapse all that I have previously mentioned as complete anarchy envelopes this country, in what has become truly epic fear mongering brought to us through the relatively recent development of news as a commercial product streamed live into our set top boxes and mobile devices.

Alas, it seems quite logical then why I tend to forget from time to time just how good I've really got it.  I'm constantly being shown images of those who supposedly have more than I do (and told that I should want it) while simultaneously being threatened with potential loss of all my "less than" current holdings.  It's absurd.

I suppose I am having this mental dialogue 1. because it's something other than studying for my exam and 2. because I am thinking about traveling in the future where many of my current conveniences may not be available.  I'm taking a moment and appreciating that on the road it is going to be different.  Depending on where I'm at, life could be very different.   Granted, I do not plan on venturing into the Congo- but seeing as how I plan on continuing this website throughout my adventures, I've been thinking about internet access.  It may not be so easy to come by in some places. 

And what about stuff?  For anyone who has not seen George Carlin's hilarious bit about "Stuff" go watch it now.

George Carlin

As for Carlin's all-too-accurate description of our stuff versus other people's shit, we really do own a colossal amount of crap.  In that vein, I actually am a big fan of living more simply, and am looking forward to forcibly owning less.  That said, making sure to have everything I need, especially safety and health-wise will be a big deal.  I also will truly not want to lose/have stolen anything important.  I do believe that people are remarkably overzealous with their concern and fear about what can happen somewhere else, but it pays to be smart.

Of course, at this stage in the game, I don't even know where I will be going and under what circumstances.  Will I be going into a country after already having procured employment?  Will I just pack up and go and figure out income on the road?   

All of these thoughts are dancing around my brain when I really should be studying.  So very much on my mind these days.  The joy of a quiet mind.  What's that like?

 

photo credits: Pinterest and simpleijustdo.com
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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.

Holy Crap, this site is LIVE!

Today is this site's birthday. 

Candle

I officially jumped in.  The Hungry Gypsy is live.  No longer just a trial site for my eyes only, these words can be accessed on the world wide web.  Yikes. 

You see, I actually wrote the previous posts while designing this site before it was truly viewable online.  Now shit gets real.

 

My original plan was to start this post with a disclaimer. I'd talk about how this site is a work in progress, and how my tendency to get caught up in minutiae inspired me to avoid being trapped by my own detail-oriented self-spiral and just make the damn thing live already.  (That and the web hosting site may or may not have forced my hand by expiring my trial and requiring me to woman-up to the real thing.)

Instead I'm gonna move past it and just make those changes as I go.

Tina Fey

The latest with me is that I am still studying for my board exam, feeling all kinds of unprepared.  It is NOT super fun to feel like after drowning in "learning" for the past two years, my actual retention of such classically favorite subjects as organic chemistry, biochemistry and physiology is less than stellar.  The woes of overly-compressed learning and taxed adrenals. 

This exam is going to be one of those fun "memorization-based" tests.  In "real life" we do not need to have micronutrient fact sheets memorized.  You just need to know where to look that information up.  Real life has books.  Exams do not.  Granted, I'm not discounting the education portion- a layman may not only not know where to look this information up, but may not know what it meant even if he did.  Owning a book and having truly studied a subject are not the same thing.  I'm just saying that it is a pain in the tukkis to memorize so much information for such a comprehensive test.  Basically I'm just bitching. 

But on to happier things:  The plan seems to be that after (hopefully) passing this exam in November, I will stay through the holidays and then start a year of adventure in the New Year.  I'm so excited!  Where should I go first??

Adventure is out there
photo credits: Pinterest

Welcome to The Hungry Gypsy

I have been putting off starting this site for a little while now.  You see the grand plan for this site is to document my hungry travel adventures.  Hunger both for food, yes, and the deeper soul hunger.  I want to talk about healing, happiness and connection.  A big part of that will be about food, but not all of it.  Sounds great! (I say to myself) So what’s the problem?

The issue is that at the moment, I’m not actually traveling.  I had it in my mind that I couldn’t possibly start this site until I was literally on the road, with travel stories to share and wondrous photos to post.  And then I decided that was bullshit.  That it was an excuse to not be doing what I want to be doing, which is kind of reminiscent of my life right now where I am not traveling instead of traveling. 

So technically I am a wannabe, which even though I don’t honestly believe this, feels kind of like being a fraud.  But that, once again, is the little critic in my head telling me lies.  The truth (I imagine) is that the story of how I will get from here (not yet traveling) to there (actually traveling) is going to be an adventure all its own, and hopefully will make for a damn good story (or an introduction to my even larger story).  After all, I am hardly the only twenty-something gal who wants to be traveling, but isn’t, so I figure maybe I can be a tad helpful to those of you out there who will be able to learn from my (sure to happen) trials and tribulations. 

Hiking photo of Katie

So here’s the run down on why I want to do this.  I had the wonderful, amazing, fabulous, fantastic, stellar (insert additional positive adjectives here) experience of studying abroad in New Zealand during my undergrad.  I spent approximately 6 months back packing around The Way Down Under, with a couple of short jaunts to Australia and Fiji thrown in for good measure.  Ever since then I’ve had the travel bug and I’ve had it bad.  And that was in….2007.

….Yea.  So what on Earth happened between 2007 and now?  Well, I returned to Los Angeles and completed my bachelor’s at USC.  Then, I moved into my first big girl apartment in LA where I was actually responsible for rent and bills.  (Although to be fair, my parents did help me out a couple of times with some fast cash when my rent check would have bounced….yikes.  Those were bad times.  I literally gave myself a stress rash two months in a row when rent was due.  I’m not proud of those times.) 

Then I managed to stabilize my income slightly and moved into my own 1 bedroom apartment, still in LA, and learned how much I crave and appreciate some alone time.  GOOD LORD was it glorious to come home and have space all to myself!  Unfortunately, I was also a highly unsatisfied waitress at the time.  It was then that I discovered that I was a NERD for food documentaries, food/nutrition books, cooking, and EATING of course.  I love how food connects all people and is the centerpiece of culture.  I’ve always been an outdoorsy environmentalist, so I easily became entranced with knowing where our food comes from and the impact of various farming practices.  So, this whole obsession with “food as medicine” and the idea of really wanting to help people and be of service resulted in me going back to school to get my Master’s Degree in Nutrition and Integrative Health.  The catch?  The program was back in Maryland, where I’m originally from, and I would be moving out of my solo haven back in with my parents…into my old high school room.  Of course the original plan was to crash at my parents only for a few months until I got a full time job and moved into my own place.

HA. HA.  Cut to nearly two years later and I am still living at my parents’ because grad school is hard (dammit!) and there are only 24 hours in a day, which means that being a full time student and working full time was crazy talk.  Instead, I got a part time job that paid (sadly) far less than what I was making as a waitress in LA.  Although, at least I’m no longer a fucking waitress.  (Or “server” for you restaurant types.  You restaurant types will also understand why I said the previous statement and why the language was 100% necessary.)

I will travel the world

So here I am.  Finishing up my M.S. and completing my clinical internship, while working part time in a wellness center and sleeping in my old twin-sized bed (I shit you not).  I am staring down graduation in (hopefully) a month or so, assuming I can complete all of my clinical requirements that quickly, and I really don’t know what is next.  I do know that I want to travel.  Now I’ve got to figure out how to make that happen.

So I decided to take the plunge.  If my dream is to one day (quite soon, hopefully) be on the road with a travel-food-community-wellness-soul centered website, then maybe I should start the damn website.  So here it is, my new site dedicated to trying to live a life of adventure and following my bliss all starting while I’m still finishing up my Master’s Degree and crashing at my parents’ house.  Let’s do this.

 

Photo credits: Pinterest
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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.