Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The joy of doing nothing


My To Do list is always at least 10 items long. Some of the items are short term ("make a grocery list") and some are more long term ("pay off two student loans by the end of the year"). No matter how many times I cross something off there is always another duty, choice, or goal to replace it. Isn't that what we are told life is? One endless to do list. Being busy is the goal and doing nothing is a deadly sin (sloth anyone?).

Every. Single. Day. Work, look busy, strive for more, don't just sit there, achieve, earn, move, faster, more, sleep when you're dead. We are supposed to do that every day of our lives until we retire and we are too old, tired and sick to do all of the things that we thought we wanted to do.

Here's a thought. Why do I always have to be doing? Why do I always have to have my day planned from sunrise to sunset? Why can't I do nothing? I tried it once. Doing nothing. The guilt I felt was palpable. Wasn't there something better that I could be doing? Why was I just wasting a day when I "should" be being productive with my time. Instead of actually getting the sleep that I need I should be out finding another job to pay off my debt. Instead of joyfully receiving the affection of a very handsome man, I should be writing my next great novel. I am sure that I could squeeze in 30 minutes of working out, while cooking dinner, helping my son with his homework, reading another great book, watching a move, and curing cancer. Isn't being a multitasker a good thing?

When do we get to just enjoy time as it is now? When do we get to just enjoy being in the present? When do we get to live how children live in such a current state a bliss that they don't even have time to think  of trivial things like eating.

We are sold the idea that we should always being something and when I am not I feel guilty. So much so that I have to remind myself of the productive things that I did that day so it wasn't a complete waste of time ("At least I shot and published a video").

I plan to send more time enjoying doing nothing. I want to spend more time being in the present and living some of my time less structured.  I want to be so blissfully happy that I want to forget to eat and then come home and take a nap.

Do you ever feel the joy of doing nothing?

Leolin

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Dating while in debt


This world would be a much better place if more married couples were as deeply in love as they are in debt- Earl Wilson
One of the most interesting experiences that I have to negotiate as a single woman is dating while in debt. I am always mindful of the places that I go on dates because although I am an old fashion lady (meaning that I believe that guys should pay for the first dates(s)) I wouldn't expect or want to be taken to a place where I couldn't at least pay for myself. That got me to thinking about how difficult it can be to date while in debt. Where do you take someone and what do you do if your entertainment budget in slim? 

In order to prevent you from another Netflix and chill night, I wanted to give you some great ideas for dates that are fun and budget friendly.*

1. Free days at your local museum #proudnerd
2. A good old fashioned picnic
3. Why don't you Dabble in something new? 
4. Free concerts in the park
5. Try a coffee "date" before a dinner date. It cost less and gives you time to feel out if you actually have a spark with a person. If all goes well you could invite them to dinner afterwards. Because let's be honest. We can usually tell if we have a connection with someone within the first 20 minutes right? 
6. Take a walk along the beach. It's romantic and good exercise.
7. Free dance lessons
8. Go to the theater earlier in the day as the movie price is usually cheaper. 
9. Check out your local library to see if there are any interesting speakers visiting.
10. Organize a game night with friends. Bring along my favorite game Taboo and get ready for a fun night!
11. Or maybe you might make the decision to not date while you are getting out of debt.

Tell me what are your favorite places to go on a date that are fun, engaging, and budget friendly? Then check out on Youtube video on "Dating while in debt".

-Leolin

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*I know that most of my links are for Chicago locations, but that is why Google is our friend. 


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.

-Leolin

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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.

-Leolin

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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.

-Leolin

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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?

-Leolin

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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.
33. BREATH
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!