Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Simple Life.

In 2015, I spent a summer interning in Portland, Oregon. It was a completely eye-opening experience to me, not only for the displays of truly 'weird Portland' culture, but also because I was forced to live in a very unique way. Being from the Midwest, I would have had to drive nearly 35 hours to get there. So in an attempt to simplify things, I decided to fly instead. It was far easier and much less time consuming, but posed two major problems: one, I would have to spend the summer sans car, and two, I had to fit everything I needed for three months into my suitcase and carry-on. I was nervous, and my parents were hesitant. But...challenge accepted.

I rolled my clothing, packed one spoon, fork, knife, pan, bowl, and plate into my suitcase, and squeezed in a few other essentials where I could (hairdryer, toiletries, etc.). I decided to buy the rest when I arrived, including an air mattress for the unfurnished apartment I'd be renting. To my misfortune, they increased my rent tremendously due to the short 3-month lease I needed (they only offered 6- and 12-month leases), but it was within walking distance from work so the 'no-car' problem was solved. This was an internship for a great company, and I simply couldn't pass up the opportunity. So when the day came, I flew off to Oregon, navigated public transportation from the airport to my apartment, walked over a mile with my Mapquest directions in one hand and suitcase in the other (purse and carry-on over my shoulder), and settled in. I Ubered to Target for the air mattress, found a grocery store within walking distance, and made the best of the situation. While the air mattress didn't work out (I returned it after 2 weeks: as it turns out, the floor is much more comfortable in the long run), and my 'kitchen table' was a drawer from my kitchen I pulled out and flipped upside-down on the floor, it was the experience of a lifetime. I made incredible friends, spent every free moment outside of work making plans and adventuring in the city, and gained an incredible amount of experience on the job. I couldn't imagine the summer having gone any other way.

After my last few posts, I've had a lot of people asking me what it means when I say I "live simply" or that I "have adopted a minimalist lifestyle". To clarify, it is nowhere near as intense as it was when I lived in Portland (thought I would do that again in a heartbeat!). I thought I lived pretty simply in college (mostly because I was vegan and into stereotypically 'crunchy' things), but that couldn't be farther from the truth. My life was packed and often chaotic in college. I had bins of things I never used shoved into corners of my dorm room and kept the rest "stashed" at my parents' house. I had a ridiculous collection of coffee mugs and boxes of tea piled in one of my dresser drawers. But now, I'm trying to simplify. Everything. And while I'm not confining everything I own to a suitcase and carry-on, I have gone through an enormous overhaul of literally everything I own. The change started as one of my weekly cleaning sessions and evolved into an entire afternoon of de-cluttering. Then I got on Pinterest to search for organization/cleaning advice, which soon snowballed into the discovery of this wonderful concept called minimalism
I wouldn't say I was ever a fully-fledged 'pack rat', but I definitely liked my stuff. After working as a barista and sales associate at Target for so many years, I had amassed a lot of unnecessary items. For example, I had nearly 25 coffee mugs (not counting my collectible 'You Are Here' Starbucks mugs, pictured above). There were blankets and towels and bed sheets (oh my!) stacked floor to ceiling in my closet. I had loads of lotion, makeup, and nail polish bottles I hadn't used in years just taking up space in my bathroom. My pans and kitchenware were old and mismatched and chipped. And my wardrobe...don't even get me started. But with the knowledge that I'm going to be moving in the very near future, I thought there couldn't be a better time to really start de-cluttering. So I started by making piles of things to keep, things to sell, things to donate, and things to throw away. It seemed the 'keep' pile was always biggest (I could need that, I might use that again one day, etc.) and the throw-away pile was nearly nonexistent. So I went back to Pinterest and discovered blogs and Youtube channels dedicated to minimalism. I needed help.

I found the best advice from Muchelle B, Pick Up Limes, and Rachel Aust. In their videos, they talk about necessity, joy, and simplicity: the pursuit of a simpler life with fewer material things and more meaning. Their content ranges from determining wants and needs to decluttering your mind, your time, and your habits in addition to your possessions. I watched a documentary on Netflix (Minimalism, go figure) and gained some insight on the controversy of it and why it's so hard for people to just let go of the junk. "The Minimalists" (aka Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus) talked about our consumerist culture, 'fast fashion', and the harm its all inflicting on the environment. They shared their stories behind going minimal and as I watched, things just started to click. Before I knew it, I was going through not just my closet, but also my memory box, throwing out old birthday cards (from when I turned 5!). I took pictures out of picture frames, gutted my wardrobe, and even did a massive overhaul of my DVD collection. Not even my books were safe. My giant pink penguin stuffed animal (named Edwin) that I had bought one day on my lunch break for no particular reason was given away, along with a giant Rubbermaid bin full of Beanie Babies I'd been hanging onto since childhood. All in all, I finished with 12 bags of trash, 5 carloads to the donation center, and one very large box of gently used movies and books for the library. I sold quite a few of my other books, DVDs (mostly TV series), and old electronics, using services such as Decluttr and local garage sale pages on Facebook. My apartment emptied out quickly, and I was surprised at the relief I felt seeing everything I never used going to a better cause. Rather than feeling regret for giving away/throwing out/selling my old things, I felt somehow lighter. I followed these Youtubers' advice and focused on what I was keeping rather than what was going out the door. Out of nowhere, I started to have an incredible amount of gratitude for the things I did want to hang on to, realizing their worth and value. I kept a few precious memories but got rid of the rest. I can't (yet) part with my Starbucks mug collection (a shelf full of 38 unused coffee mugs from around the world....not very functional). But everything feels so much more open and clear, and I'm realizing how little 'things' actually mean. I was even able to part with my 12-cup Mr. Coffee pot that I've had since college, swapping it out for a much smaller, simpler French press. (Side note: if you want your coffee to taste good I would highly recommend you do the same.)
The Memory Box, pictured above. Once overflowing, now 'tidied up'.
 Bathroom took the longest...down to just two bins!
 Christmas tree tucked away on the left, and those are all of my books, movies, and Christmas decorations in the bins - packed up for when I move. The empty one is reserved for my Starbucks mugs!
Half of the gray and purple cubes are now empty, once full of clothes I never wore.
I'm still working on fully adapting the minimalist lifestyle. I don't think I'll ever get down to the point of living in a 'tiny house' or sleeping on the floor again (I love my comfy bed!), but I'm learning to live with a lot less and focus more on the important things. Even when I go shopping, I have a new mindset: I appreciate things for what they are, but if I don't need them, I don't buy them! (That adorable coffee mug at TJ Maxx with a French bulldog on it saying 'Oui oui'? And it's only $3.99? STOP, SAM. Self control here.) 

Another benefit of de-cluttering everything in my apartment is that I am now aware of everything I have. It sounds pathetic, but think of it: how many times have you bought something because you weren't sure you already had it, or you bought it 'just in case'? These purchases are a waste of money and just add to the clutter. It's amazing how much I forgot I had. Going through each and every item in my apartment was eye-opening. I found a few old shirts I used to love, re-discovered my books to study German, and started wearing some of the jewelry I forgot I owned. I created an "important documents" file case and tucked away the papers that I actually need to keep rather than having a drawer full of random packets and records. The concept of need vs. want has become so much clearer to me, and I've learned to let go of a lot of things I never thought I could. It's liberating.

My family doesn't quite understand, and neither do many of my friends, but then again neither did I until I actually started going through it myself. It's one of those things that you read about, watch a documentary on, and think 'that might be nice, for the right person', and never fully understand. It's like yoga, veganism, or golfing: you either get it or you don't. I'm not going to try and convince everyone to adopt a minimalist lifestyle - you do you. But this is me, doing me, and I'm loving it. There really is beauty in simplicity.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Creative Clarity. Vol. 1

When I blogged in college, I didn't follow any kind of posting schedule. Instead, I had certain types of posts that I would put up periodically because they were fun to do as alternatives to the usual "paragraphs and pictures" posts. One of these was called, "Tuesday Tops" and it was a weekly recap of everything I'd been enjoying that week; small joys that let me reflect on the good things in life. Now, I don't plan on starting "Tuesday Tops" again because honestly I couldn't always think of enough things to share to make it worth an entire post. In fact, one time I remember having such an awful week that I actually called it "Tuesday Bottoms" instead (cue tiny violin). So I've decided that in rekindling the blog, I'll follow in the footsteps of one of my very favorite bloggers, Oh Dear Drea. She posts what she calls, "Pictures of Recently Enjoyed Things," or collections of photos she takes over time of things she finds beautiful, thoroughly enjoys, and wants to share. It's a fantastic concept.

Switching to a minimalist lifestyle has definitely made me appreciate the small, beautiful things even more. The few books and coffee mugs I kept are special. The things I make space for or buy all have a function and a place. There's less clutter to get in the way of what's important, so small moments and things stick out to me much more than they used to. So...naturally I've started taking pictures as I go.  And because this change has so far brought me a great deal of focus, creativity, and clarity, I thought why not incorporate these things into a post? So here it is, the first of many: Creative Clarity. My 'recently enjoyed things':
 This quote in that book.
 Discovering smoothie bowls.
 Coffee from friends <3
Cheers with friends
Obsessed with these chips and this salsa (Meijer)
Visiting St. Julian tasting room with family
 This quote. Where all my overthinkers at?

And there we have it: short, sweet, and creative clarity. Some lovely things from the past few weeks that I have truly appreciated and that have made my heart happy. Let me know what you have been enjoying lately - books, snacks, places, people, etc. - down below. Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Hi there.

Hi there.

My name is Sam and I currently live and work in the lovely state of Michigan.

I love coffee, yoga, writing (naturally), and traveling. I've been fortunate enough to spend a summer in Dublin, Ireland, where I made amazing friends from all over Europe. I love to visit them and have so far been to France, Austria, Greece, Spain, and Germany (several times). I speak English and French fluently and study Spanish and German in my free time. And recently began studying Portuguese, too (why not?) If I'm not traveling or planning a trip, you can bet I'm writing about one. Or doing some heavy Pinteresting for whatever trip is next.

If you'd like to say hello or contact me for any reason, feel free to reach me at shegoessimply@gmail.com or find me on social media:

Instagram: @She_Goes_Simply
Twitter: @She_Goes_Simply

I published my first book in December 2019, which you can find here: The Flavor of Wine

Welcome to my blog! 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Clean Slate.

Here we go: clean slate.

Blogging round 2.

It was about a year ago today that I published my last blog post on Samsamcherie. It was something about hormones (I think). I'd posted a few times last summer, trying to revive the blog I started back in college. Needless to say, it was unsuccessful. There were a lot of things that happened in the last year that were unsuccessful. But that's how you learn in life, right? You try, and you fail, and you try again, and maybe you fail. Again. But every time it goes around, you learn something new about yourself, about the world, and about the people you've surrounded yourself with. That's just how it goes. And so here I am, deciding to try again. If I fail, I fail. But if not, then...that's something.
I loved blogging in college. I shared my decision to spend a summer interning in Dublin, posted about saving up for it, wrote the entire time I was there, covering everything from the culture to the friends I made to my decision to go vegan. Then I wrote about coming home, being a college student, being a vegan college student, and traveling back to Europe to visit friends I'd made in Dublin. Over the following months, I continued to share my life: a job I loved as a barista, companies I worked with as a plant-based individual, and my journey into fitness. I traveled more, visiting Germany, Austria, Greece, France, and Germany (again...twice). I moved. I started a new job. At one point I even got a dog. I blogged for nearly three years, sharing bits and pieces of my life. And then I moved to a new town, for a new opportunity, and that's it.

The blog was done.

It's been a year, guys. I don't even know where to begin. In April (last year), I left my well-paying corporate job to move to a very small town in the northern part of Michigan. I would be helping family friends open a mission church/coffee shop, which seemed like such a great idea at the time. As I had been a barista for 3+ years in college, it was a perfect fit: harbor town, management role, coffee shop life, a gym in walking distance. I couldn’t wait.

And so I gave my two weeks’ notice, packed up, and moved.

Now, it is necessary to mention that I had told the owners (very close friends of our family - I even babysat their grandchildren when I was in high school!) that I would be going to Berlin in November long before I started the new position. They thought it was a wonderful idea and told me repeatedly that they admired my passion for travel. And so I moved into a little apartment in the middle of the woods and worked throughout the summer, assisting the construction crews with everything from the counter tops and paint colors to the equipment and partner brands. Eventually, in August, the coffee shop opened. It was beyond exciting, and I felt ‘in my element’ again after working as a barista for so many years throughout college. Except this time was different: this place was my baby. People sat at the tables and chairs I had picked out and built myself. They relaxed on couches I had signed for. They chose items off the menu that I had created from scratch and the baristas that made them were employees I had hired and trained. I had so much pride in that coffee shop, and the fact that it doubled as a church made me feel like I was doing something right. I made some great friends in the small town, got to know our “regulars”, and even started dating. Things seemed pretty great. 

And then I went to Berlin.
Another story for another post, but Berlin was incredible. I flew off to Germany to spend some time with family and friends. I was there for nearly 10 days, during which time I tried to keep in touch with the second-in-command at the coffee shop. The owners had instructed me to “show her the ropes” before I left so that ordering and management duties could be properly performed in my absence, which I did. And I told them all that they could contact me at any time through Facebook if need be (we often communicated in group chats). But communication was lost on my trip. I messaged them from time to time to see how business was going, and every message went unanswered. And finally I received a very stiff, very frank response, “There’s a lot going on. Message me when you’re back in the States.”

So I did. 

Orders had been lost. Schedules I’d previously created had been changed: my schedule, as a matter of fact, had been extended so that I was working 50+ hours when other employees’ hours were being cut, even though I had previously planned everything to work out correctly. I didn’t understand. The owners stopped responding to me. Responsibilities were taken away. The second-in-command and the owners didn’t even make eye contact with me at church anymore. I was beyond confused at what was happening at my beloved coffee shop. And then one day, the axe fell, and with it - excuses.

"We just don’t feel like your heart is in the mission anymore."
"You have such a passion for travel, you should pursue that."
"There’s just no room in the budget for you anymore."

And that was it: I wasn’t even permitted to work the remainder of the week. I was done. I was so confused because yes - originally we had discussed that the position would be temporary and would come to an end as the coffee shop/church switched from paid employees to volunteer-based. I had helped them get everything up and running over the summer (as planned) and thought at least they would give me a few weeks' notice before that change came. So I returned home, to my little apartment in the middle of the woods, absolutely devastated. I called my mom in tears and tried to reason out what had just happened. The weeks leading up to my trip everyone was so excited for me and so supportive: they even gave me money to buy souvenirs and one who spoke German practiced speaking with me. Everything had changed in the blink of an eye. And then, I was out. I tried to continue my blog, wanting to share the amazing trip I'd just had in Germany, but I couldn't. My spark was out. My passion was gone.

Since then, I've pursued other goals. Some I've reached, some are at a standstill, and some I just can't share here (maybe eventually). But the truth is, I'm ready for a clean slate. I'm ready to start over, to start new, to get back to this hobby that I once loved. So I invite you to follow along while I figure out this next chapter of my life. I spent quite some time trying to decide the best time to restart my blog. When I was in the midst of packing? When certain decisions were made in my career? When I finally had an answer from a long-pursued endeavor? I finally decided that if I waited until the perfect moment, it would never happen.
So here I am, starting fresh. I'm definitely looking forward to being a blogger again and meeting all of you who blog or decide to follow along. I've missed sharing things with you and hearing your thoughts and ideas, and am optimistic about the future of this space. You'll notice that it's no longer Samsamcherie, but rather SheGoesSimply. The title change is a reflection of the person I've become in the past year: the more sophisticated, minimalist style and simple lifestyle I've adapted. We are constantly growing and evolving, learning from our past and maturing with time. In the past year, I've moved, I've loved, I've lost, I've had great triumphs, and I've had great regrets. I've traveled, I've written a novel, and I've met individuals that had huge influences on me. There's definitely been growth, and I'm a very different person than I was back then. And I can't wait to see where life takes me next.

Welcome to my blog.

Home Sweet Home

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