Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What I will say "no" to in 2016?

"Focus is about saying No"-Steve Jobs

I could take a note or two from my 5 year old son. He has no problem saying no.

Do you want to eat dinner-No
Do you want to go to sleep-No
Do you want to share your candy with Mommy-No
Can I have a kiss-No

The list goes on! But do you know what does not go on? My son feeling any quilt about his no. If I tell someone no the "nice" side of me sends me on a nice one way trip to guilt town.

No is a very important, but very unappreciated word. No one likes to say it and definitely no one likes to hear it. My inability to say "no" though has caused me to keep people in my life longer than needed, has caused me to incur a lot of debt, and has caused me to spreed my attention on too many activities which doesn't create good momentum or success.

So while most people's New Years resolutions are about saying "Yes" more, mine are about saying "No" more. Here are 10 things that I will say no to in 2016.

1. No to negative self talk
2. No to accepting that debt is a part of life
3. No to thinking that I have to retire at 65
4. No to feeling guilty of thinking about myself first 
5. No to writing for free (fuck you pay me)
6. No to living how everyone thinks I should live
7. No to continuing my position at The Vegan Woman (good times, but time to focus on my brand)
8. No to playing the victim
9. No to closing my heart to love
10. No to bad relationships. Whether they be romantic, friendship, working, or family.

Saying no makes rooms in your life for your "yeses".

Leave a comment below and let me know what you will say no to in 2016.


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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

$63K in loans for a BS in Psych?!? WTF is that about?

Pre-digital photo! Memories

If you watched my YouTube video "Intro into my debt free journey"  then you know that I currently have a little over $60,000 in school loans. Yes you read the right! I know what you are thinking, "She must have a Masters or at least a Bachelors in a high paying field like Business!", but no my friends that is just from a Bachelors in Psychology...and few other fields of education. Let me start from the beginning.

I attended the University of Illinois in Campaign-Urbana with the intention of getting a degree in pre-veterinarian (I soon found out that that was not a real degree. I would have to get a degree in something like Biology to be a viable candidate in the Veterinarian School, but I digress). Unfortunately I was not a focused freshman. During my first Chemistry class, I decided that this was going to be too hard and I did not want my dream that much so I decided to get a degree in Psychology instead. My brother was in college as well getting the same degree (I look up to my brother a lot) and I figured that I could use my degree in so many areas, so why not?

So like I said I was not a a focused student so I took 5 years to get a 4 year degree.  4 out of those 5 years, I took out the maximum about of loans that I received. I worked a full time job my last 3 years of college, but I did not live on a budget, I did not like to say "no" to myself and others, and I saved nothing.

After I graduated college, I settled for a job that I thought was going to give me quick riches instead of going to Graduate School. I placed my loans on forbearance (I didn't have to pay back my loans, but they were still accumulating interest) and proceeded to work.  Several years and several jobs later, I got married and was working as a Substance Abuse Councilor, which I HATED so I quit. My husband was making enough money and we were able to "pay our bills" so I decided that I would go back to school to get a 2nd degree in Biology. I figured that I could able to veterinarian school or even get a degree as a dietitian. Mostly though I was bored and lost and since I am a nerd at heart that meant that I should go back to school. Both were fields that I was still interested in and both would required a Biology degree. At this time I still believed that the only way to go to school was with school loans so I took out the max that I was given again.

One year later I got pregnant and was too tired to even think straight. With someone new to focus my attention on, I decided that I was done with school. Being a stay at home wife and mom was going to be my new focus. Fast forward again several years and I am now divorced and unemployed and I find out about this awesome program where I could get a Masters in Humane Education. I was so excited because this program would allow me to combine my passion of animal rights and environmentalism and I would finally be able to get a Masters! Once again going into my old habits I took out the maximum amount of school loans that they gave me and used it to not only pay for school, but to continue to live outside my means.

During my 2nd semester of my first year is when I began my bankruptcy process and it is also when I began to lift the veil of "debt is okay" from over my eyes. I realized that if I continued to finance this degree that I would finish with over $80,000 in debt!! Although I loved this program and what I was learning, the ROI was unknown. I didn't even know what I was going to do with this degree and everything that I would be interested in doing, I could do without the degree. After my first year I made the decision to quit school and only return if I was able to pay for it with cash. That was at the end of Spring 2015 and it was also when I began to listen religiously to Dave Ramsey. His "debt is dumb cash is king" motto and lifestyle was rubbing off on me and I decided to get real focused and intentional with paying off all of my debt.

It has been a year since I left my Masters program and I as a right now I have not felt the need to go back. School has always been something that I was good at. I enjoy learning, the structure, and the reward of an "A" for good work. What school shouldn't be is a high brow pacifier. Something that you do because you are too scared and too unfocused to live your life. What it shouldn't also be, is a reason to go into debt.


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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Why I broke up with "the one"

He was the boyfriend who I thought was "the one". He was a great companion and I could take him anywhere. He was always there for me so I would never have to be alone. He taught me so many things and introduced me to so many people. We were compatible from the start and we had many of the same interests. He listened to all of my stories and loved looking at all of my pictures. He even became friends with a lot of my friends. He was so intelligent and he knew so much. If I had any questions, he would be the one to ask. If I needed to know about a new restaurant or book, wanted to find out about being a better parent or the next place that I should travel, he would hold all the answers.

I knew that I had to end it because he and I started to become obsessive. I couldn't go anywhere or do anything without checking in with him first. I couldn't keep anything a secret from him. He knew everything about me. I couldn't try new foods without sending him a picture. I couldn't see a new movie without telling him how great it was. I couldn't enjoy a moment of peace without thinking about the next time that I would check in. He also started telling all of my secrets to my friends. People who only knew me from thin ties would know so much about me.

I also would spend so much time with him that I would end up losing track of time and other priorities that were important to me. A 10 minute conversation would turn into an hour. I would look up and would have missed out of something better. Something more.

The last straw came when I found out that he was cheating on me. That he wasn't just my special joy. He was with everyone. Everyone was telling him their secrets. Everyone spoke to him as though he was the most important thing. They even ignored everyone else so that they could be with him. I couldn't get away from him.

It took a awhile to end it. I thought that I would miss out on something big. Some connection or some peace of information that would change my world. I made the decision none the less because he was bringing me no value. He was a space filler who added no sustenance. He was like the ultimate empty calorie. He tasted so good, but gave me no nutrition.

The good (or bad) thing is that since he is everywhere, he will always be there if I ever want to return.

So that is why I broke up with Facebook.


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Thursday, December 17, 2015

What I pray for.......

When I was younger, I used to pray for things.
For more money, to be skinnier, A's in class, a hot boyfriend.
I use to pray for things to be handed to me. That I would just wake up and what I wanted to be there.

Now I pray for character, strength and patience.

I pray that I can have the integrity to do what is right, all the time. Even when no one is looking. Even when other's say that it is okay to do wrong.

I pray that I have the strength to live my life to the fullest. To swim against the stream of mediocrity. To keep my head down and go to work, even if other's think that I am not strong or smart enough. Even when I doubt myself.

I pray for the patience to see the results of the fruit of my labor.
Getting out of debt, building wealth, building a brand, getting in shape, being a great parent/friend/wife/daughter takes time and I need patience for the long haul. I pray that I am able to give up what I want "NOW" for what I want most.

I pray that I am able to show up to my greatness. Fully, present, and ready :-)

What do you pray for?


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Saturday, November 14, 2015

35 lessons I have learned in my 35 years of life!

Selfie game on fleek (only took 30 shots)

Today is my 35th birthday!! Yes I am telling you my age. A feminine faux pas, but this blog is all about living authentically and I don't really care if you know my age :-) I am proud of these 35 years. Proud of the things that I have accomplished and feeling great about my continued growth.

They say that with age comes wisdom so I wanted to pass on some wisdom from my 35 years of life. Some are my own words and some are pearls of wisdom that I have picked up from other people. There is no order of importance. Read 30 here and then watch my video at the end for the top 5.

Raise your glass to 35 years and 35+ more! Salud!!

35. Every relative isn't family and every buddy isn't a friend.
34. You only have you.
32. You don't need all of that stuff.
31. Upgrade your squad.
30. Eat great food!
29. Travel and see the world.
28. Follow your passions.
27. Debt is the DEVIL.
26. Everyone has an opinion. Yours is the only one that matters.
25. Marriage is one of the most important decisions EVER!!
24. So is divorce.
23. Listen to your gut.
22. You don't need to dress half (or totally) naked to get a man's attention. Mystery is sexy.
21. Take responsibility for your happiness and mistakes.
20. Do as much good as possible.
19. The things that you did not like about your body at 15, you'll love about your body at 35 (ie big eyes, big lips, big hair, and my CURVES).
18. If he really likes you, he will wait.
17. No means No.
16. Sometimes all you can do is put one foot in front of another and that is OKAY.
15. Party less and study more in college.
14. If someone wants to spend time with you they will find a way. If not they will find an excuse.
13. Actions speak louder than words.
12. Love is conditional so never stop working to earn it and keep it.
11.Pay yourself first.
10. You are not Cinderella. Stop waiting to be saved and save yourself.
9. Ask yourself daily how do you want to feel. Then create your day to feel that way.
8. Failure is a part of life. Embrace it as it means that you are growing.
7.He is watching. Give him something great to look up to.
6. Life goes on......

Head on over to my Youtube Channel to check out the Top 5!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

What are boundaires and why you need to get some

If you checked out my last video then you know that I just finished reading a book called Boundaries. Boundaries are the line that lets you know what you are responsible for and what others are responsible for. My basic responsibilities are my body, emotions, health, and finances.

What I am not responsible for are other people's emotions, other people's finances, and other people's comfort with what I decide for myself.

When you start to put up boundaries you will probably feel some resistance from others and even to yourself!! If you have never said no or if you have never said what you wanted, then people will probably feel uncomfortable with the fact that you are finally doing so. Be strong! Living outside of the box takes some growth and pushing. It is a tightly tapped that that you have around you and getting out of it may requires some scissors and pulling at the tabs.

If you follow me on Instagram, than you know that I recently had some push back when I decided to clear my life of anyone who didn't add value. Their reaction showed me that I made the right decision.

Watch my latest video and let me know what boundaries issues that you are currently dealing with.


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Friday, October 16, 2015

There is a chance....

There is a chance that you may think I'm a bitch.
That you may think to yourself "How dare she!"
"How dare she say no!"
"How dare she stand up for herself!"
"How dare she not do want I want her to!"

There is a chance that I may offend you.
That I may force you to question what you think is true.
That my veganism, my confidence, my debt free journey, my trials, my voice, my resistance, my strength, my stubbornness may rub you the wrong way because it goes against what you believe to be true about me, about women, about the world.

There is a chance that you may not want me around.
That you wish that I would just shut up, go along, not make waves.
And because I don't, the next easiest thing for you to do it dismiss me.
Instead of you looking in the mirror it is easier for you to build a wall between us so you don't have to see me or examine yourself.

There is a chance that I may anger you.
That you may feel that I push too much and that it is your duty to push back.
You may judge me because you feel as though I am judging you.
You don't know that I too am just a person trying to find their path in this world and that if I push too hard it because I long for connection that comes from sharing and being vulnerable with another person.

There is a chance that you may feel all of these negative things......but......
There is chance that you might lean into the awkwardness. That you might actually listen, then share, then listen, then share.
There is a chance that you may examine your truths to find out which ones are truly yours and which ones you have just been carrying around for others.

There is a chance that my joy can spread and that you too may feel the courage and strength to break out of the box that surrounds you. That you can see me dancing in the sun and know that there is enough light for us all.

There is a chance that we can continue to make small steps towards a more fulfilled life. That we may challenge each other and also give each other room to grow. That you may see the good and bad in me and it be okay. That you may hold on when I need your strength and let go when I have my own.

There is a chance...and it is a chance that I am willing to take.

Written by Leolin Bowen

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