Blogging, Just For Fun, Veganiness

You’re Gonna Wanna Sneak this Peek

Go Jules Go Youre Gonna Wanna Sneak This Peek 27FEB2019

In early 2019, I hinted that it was going to be a jaw-dropping year. What I didn’t yet realize at that point was just how far one’s jaw could drop.

And I suspect we’re only just getting started.

Because.

I’M (ALMOST) HOMELESS, JOBLESS, AND ABOUT TO TRAVEL THE WORLD TO WORK ON MY PASSION PROJECT.

The Vegan Dollar website screenshot

By approaching life from a mindset of, “How do I want to spend my life?” instead of, “How do I want to spend my dollars?”, over the past several years, I eschewed convention, made big (tiny) moves and created the runway to chase my dreams.

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THERE ARE SHIRTS AND EVERYTHING.

I’m so excited to share all I’ve learned via The Vegan Dollar’s forthcoming YouTube channel, where I’ll review hacks and practical tips, and talk about the mind-blowing lessons I’ve internalized when it comes to spending, saving and turning the status quo on its ugly little head.

Do I know what I’m doing? Not really. Does it feel “too soon” to take the leap? Absolutely. Am I scared? Um, YES. Do I let those things stop me anymore?

HECK TO THE NO.

At the risk of sounding saccharine, it’s been both a bumpy and beautiful road to get to a place where I feel comfortable honoring my soul’s gentle (and sometimes not-so-gentle) nudging, and through The Vegan Dollar, I hope to empower others to explore and actualize their dream lives.

Starting March 13th, Uncle Jesse and I hit the open road. While there are so many exciting unknowns ahead, I DO know the coming months will include…

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Uncle Jesse stealing the spotlight (…literally).
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Vegan croissants and French lessons.
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Rollerblading in San Diego whilst blowing bubbles.
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Quality time with these hooligans unicorns.
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Nudity. Photo credit
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More woo-woo. So much more woo-woo.
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Sweat.
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Vegan food porn.
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Midnight celery snacks (please see aforementioned “nudity” descriptor).
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So much heart-centered living (…and ALL THE FRESH AIR!!!).

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Anything you want to see me cover on The Vegan Dollar? What does chasing your dreams look like?

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Blogging, tiny living

Tiny Living vs. Living Small

go jules go_tiny living vs living small title graphic 23jan2019

It’s eight steps from my living room loveseat to the bathroom.

Seven steps from the bathroom to my bed.

Twenty-four steps -two flights down- from my kitchenette to the front door.

Over the past fourteen years, since graduating college, I’ve moved five times, had eight jobs, four broken hearts, one marriage, one divorce, run two marathons, lost and gained several hundred pounds, said goodbye to five loved ones (including one dog), written two books and 407 blog posts, gotten two advanced degrees, and traveled to three different continents.

Sometimes when things feel stale or stagnant, I review that list and remember: life is always changing. A notion that used to send me into the fetal position now puts a skip in my step. Thank god things are always changing.

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Otherwise I’d still be dressed like this.

No matter how many things we try to track and count, or how many boxes we tick on the Checklist of Life, we’ll never be able to control that one constant – change. Nor will we ever arrive at some magic moment, proclaiming, “Ah, okay, done now!”

When I moved to my 350-square foot apartment in November 2017, the only thing I was sure of was that one chapter was ending and another was beginning.

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Also, that I’d save a butt-ton of these.

I was terrified, but determined. After all, if I wanted a different sort of life, I was going to need to do things, well, differently. Of course, I still placated myself with thoughts like, “If you hate it, Jules, you can leave whenever you want and go back to living with an actual oven.”

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Totally overrated. Photo credit

I needed to tell myself things like that because I still didn’t trust The Grand Unknown. I still didn’t really believe the old adage, “The path will appear when you take the first step.” I always wanted a Plan B, a back-up, something I could measure and rely on. So often we look for sure things and guarantees, favoring our logical, expensively-educated brains, while missing what I’m starting to believe is the entire reason we’re inhabiting these funny flesh sacks in the first place: to follow our hearts.

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Right, Darren Criss?

Who says our hearts are unreliable, anyway? Have you ever tried tackling a tough question by getting still, taking a few deep breaths, and sinking down into that space within your chest? That space that says: You are enough. You can do anything. Your dreams matter. You are loved.

Isn’t that the voice who should always dictate our next steps?

There are still many days where I straddle the line between my heart and my head. Not sure if that’s you, too? In my experience, it feels a little something like this: Hope vs. desperation. Giddiness vs. dread. Authenticity vs. fraud. Ease vs. restlessness. A life of seeming forward momentum and social media-worthy accomplishment vs. that huge part of you that just wants to scream:

“STOP!”

Do you ever imagine standing up in the middle of a busy day and doing just that?

Then you could walk five steps to the fridge, fill three water bottles, and take your one dog two flights of stairs down to your one car. You could drive hundreds of miles until you reached the infinite woods.

There, you could hike countless miles and relish innumerable sights and sounds. You could consider your endless blessings, remember your boundless spirit, and realize your limitless potential.

Because counting only matters when you’re living small.

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On second thought, the hike might have to wait.

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How do you deal with The Grand Unknown? (Hey, come out of that corner, you. It’s safe over here. I have bean dip!)

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humor

Dear Life: Now What?

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Now that I’m essentially done with my Masters degree, that dreaded question has reared its ugly head.

You know the one.

NOW WHAT?

I recently listened to a book by Mike Dooley, Leveraging the Universe: 7 Steps to Engaging Life’s Magic, and he repeated this phrase often: Don’t get caught up on the “cursed hows.” (<—Totally worth the 5-minute read.) What he meant by that was: figure out what you want and visualize the end goal, then let the universe decide how it’ll deliver.

If you want to be a published author, for example, spend a few minutes each day picturing your books already on the shelves and, most importantly, feel how it’ll feel when you achieve that goal. Yes, also put some pen to paper today (“do what you can with what you have”), but don’t spin your wheels wondering about how to get a publisher or whether your idea has already been “done before.”

If you want a romantic partner, don’t get hung up on a specific person, just picture the kinds of things you’ll do with your dream mate and how you’ll feel when you’re together. Yes, you can add specific details like what you’re wearing -and please do!- but if you decide it’s got to be Gary from accounting, you might wind up butting heads with the universe, who’s working overtime to get you stuck in an elevator with Pete from payroll, the perfect guy for you.

When I picture where I want to be in a year, I see an active, fit, social butterfly who’s swimming in creative projects and opportunities, brave enough to say “YES!” when it counts – and “NO!” too.

While I’m trying not to get hung up on too many hows, I know it’s important to work with what I’ve got at my disposal today. For starters, I signed up for a half marathon in May, despite it having been two years since my last run. I even recruited two of the most inspiring “accountability partners” I could dream up, spanning New Jersey to Oregon, to help me get in gear:

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Meet East Coast A.P.: Remember Janeen? The one who says yes to everything? I may have used that little fact to my advantage…
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Meet West Coast A.P.: Vegan Retreat Unicorn #2, Dakota, a.k.a. Superhuman Freakazoid and author of the blog that will make you either hide in a corner or decide to start CRUSHING IT!!!!

To show them how compliant I am, I joined a gym…

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“Y” U NO LIKE 2 RUN, JULEZ?

…made Google docs outlining every aspect of my ideal life, started logging daily exercise, water and caloric intake…

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…and shed immediate poundage via purging more joyless belongings from the tiny apartment

I’ve even acquired new confidence-boosting crystals and signed up for a week-long “past life therapy training” with She’s a Maineiac at Omega Institute in July.

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Because I’m crazy now, in case you’ve forgotten.

I’m trying to up the ante in every area I can think of, breathing life into “November 2019 Jules” in ways that feel tangible yet exciting.

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2016 Jules, breathing life into another exciting vision.

As for creative projects, I’ve been keeping a list of fun blog post ideas and researching marketing courses and products. So far I’ve narrowed it down to a couple of top choices:

  1. Campaign Monitor  / My Emma – I think they can help me get my newsletter game straight with their sleek designs and impressive customer roster, plus a really reasonable Basic membership fee ($9/month)

    “Email acquisition best practices”? I’m definitely going to need some help… Photo credit
  2. Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing – this one comes recommended by a financial independence blogger I really like, Millennial Boss, but with a $197 price tag, I’ve been hesitant to take the plunge

(If anyone has any recommendations or experience with either, please leave a comment!)

I don’t know about you, but I’m still feeling antsy. Maybe I should stop with the hows and go tinker with my Google doc some more.

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Actual screenshot from my “ideal life” Google doc. …DON’T JUDGE. Okay you can judge. I still love you. …Do you know anyone single?

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Do you believe in the power of creative visualization? Do you get hung up on the “hows”?

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DISCLAIMER: This post contains sponsored links.

humor, tiny living

11 BIG LESSONS from tiny living

11 Big Lessons from tiny living Go Jules Go v2It’s been a little over six months since I downsized from a 1,200 square foot duplex to a 350 square foot apartment. Before that, I lived in a 4-bedroom house on over two acres. I even had a barn, for crying out loud. While I was so excited to walk the talk in living more minimally (shout out to Mother Earth, ya’ll!), not to mention saving a boatload of money, I was also, um, er, what’s the word(s)? Oh, right.

Scared sh*tless.

Third floor walk-up? No yard? No parking? No laundry? No oven?? What was I thinking???

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Was this going to be like the time I put ketchup in my hair?

From my summer-long search I learned that studio apartments in this area, close to a major train line bringing well-dressed commuters into New York City, were in high demand. When I stumbled upon this one after two months of scouring the internet, I knew I had to pounce.

Within an hour of seeing the ad on Craigslist, I met with the landlord, beating out over thirty other interested callers in that first day. (It may have helped that I came equipped with my credit report, five references, my three most recent pay stubs, my dog’s vet records, an irresistible photo of said dog, and my current Masters degree transcript. This project manager don’t play.)

When the landlord confessed she was a dog lover, Uncle Jesse and I had no choice but to sign the deposit check right then and there.

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Finding a pet friendly rental in New Jersey is like finding a full bottle of champagne in my fridge.

Make no mistake about it, this decision wasn’t easy. The down-sizing itself was a down-right pain in the chipmunk tail. I got it in my head that the best way to sell my stuff was to turn my entire apartment into an Amazon warehouse and hold an “estate” sale.

I also thought it made sense to spend hours of time, and $14.00 on glass knobs I just had to have, to makeover old furniture that I’d inherited for free before trying to sell it on Craigslist.

We won’t even talk about the box spring that somehow got into my old apartment, but met an untimely demise trying to come out of the very same apartment.

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Here lies Box Spring. 2006-2017. Rest in peace. (Get it? “Lies”? “Rest” in peace?)

To make things even more exciting, the move coincided with the week I was supposed to cycle up a mountain in Arizona with, um, inadequate training.

And it was no small (heh) feat to turn 350 square feet of this:

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Into this:

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So by now you must be thinking:

Was it worth it?”

Let’s find out, shall we?

11 Big Lessons from tiny living Go Jules Go v2

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you purchase the linked product, at no additional cost to you. I only ever link to products that I truly love. Like this.

1. I Don’t Miss Any of the Stuff I Got Rid Of

To be fair, there’s still a mountain molehill of boxes and pieces of my dining room table in my parents’ basement, but those 87,000 picture frames? GOOD RIDDANCE.

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Don’t worry. I kept the important things.

2. Now I Wish I Had Even Less Stuff

Do I really need two giant Tupperware containers of gift wrapping supplies? I don’t even give gifts. I just show up and take things from people.

Like the good old days when I took all of your photos of your pets wearing slap bracelets.

3. I Feel (Almost) As Free as a Bird Flying Chipmunk

Whenever I move again, I’m excited to see how fast I can pack up. Could I ever live out of a duffle bag?

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This guy does it. Photo credit

4. Climbing Two Flights Only Sucks if You’re Carrying a Case of Wine #worthit

I wound up finding an old laptop backpack as I went through all of my crap before moving, and have devised a nearly hands-free strategy for getting my work supplies, coffee, water bottle, lunch and dog down the stairs and around the corner holding only a leash. I can park in a reserved spot right by my door on nights and weekends, so I plan my grocery trips around that.

Not paying for that parking spot during the day? = $1,200/year extra to spend on wine. (I’m not making this up. Twelve. Hundred. Dollars!)

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YAAAS.

5. It’s Totally Cool to Wear Those Pants Twice in a Row

I fear this strategy has only worked well because it’s been winter.

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I’m sorry if I’m oversharing. Just kidding. That’s what I do here.

6. You Can Cook an Entire (Vegan) Thanksgiving Dinner with Two Electric Burners, an InstaPot and a Toaster Oven

This might be my proudest accomplishment since running that marathon peeing on that cottage in Maine.

7. People Honk…A LOT

I live on a busy street now, near the center of town, and I can’t believe how often people lay on their horns with the determination of a gaggle of hipsters waiting in line for boozy brunch. I have to shut the windows if I want to ensure I hear every word of John Mulaney’s new Netflix special (OMG WATCH IT).

On the flip side, it means the train, great restaurants, coffee, and Trader Joe’s are all just a few steps away.

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Half of my remaining possessions: Trader Joe’s bags.

8. Living Next Door to a Catholic Church Will Not Make You More Godly

Speaking of unexpected noises, my nearby nuns are still messing with me at all hours, despite the anonymous letter I may or may not have sent a month ago.

Church-bells

9. “Need” and “Want” Are Two Very Different Things

When you don’t have any space to put anything, you’ve gotta decide pretty quickly if it’s a “need” or a “want.” For example, I need to bathe once a month, but I probably just want those pug slippers.

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Photo credit

10. If I Can Do This, I Can Do Anything…Like Cut My Own Hair

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I mean, how hard can it be?

I recently found out that watching six minutes of a YouTube instructional video and then cutting your hair in a mirror using scissors meant for a righty that you found in the back of your dresser was more bold than wise. But if there’s anything I’ve learned from my ‘stache, it’s that hair grows back. Often more quickly than you’d like.

11. If I Can Do This, I Can Do Anything…No, Really

Much like those who are bringing water to impoverished communities and winning Olympic gold medals, I too have learned that anything is possible if you just put your mind to it. Hang on. That came out wrong. I know this move wasn’t a missionary trip or a heroic act of strength, but taking this leap into the unknown has really galvanized my belief that most of our limitations are set only by our thoughts. So what if you don’t know what path will appear when you take that first next step? You’ve just got to have faith that the universe has your back.

Huh. Maybe that church is rubbing off.

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I always knew this photo would get a lot of mileage.

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What lifestyle changes have you made that surprised you (for better or worse)?

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humor, PSAs

PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWERS…itty bitty living space.

You’re envisioning your new dream home. Images begin to spring to mind…

A small, cozy nook, under a flight of stairs, with plenty of space for your wand and pet owl.

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No? Okay. How about this: a tiny house with a loft bed and ceiling hooks for your fixed-gear bicycle and kombucha tea jars.

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Photo credit.

Still no?

All right. Perhaps this: a 300-square foot, 3rd floor walk-up with no oven, coin laundry, and street parking.

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Really? Not even if I told you you’d get to add an extra 10 minutes to your commute?

God, you’re difficult.

Starting November 1st, I’ll call the latter home.

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Who needs homemade cookies and clean sheets, anyway?

“A third floor walk-up? Are you that desperate to win the company Fitbit challenge?” you might be asking. Excellent guess. The truth is, about a year and a half ago, I started making some pretty big changes in the name of Mother Earth.

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The only mother as badass as Babs.

I even started composting, for crying out loud. And let’s not forget those recycled Christmas presents.

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Obviously I have become an environmental hero and goddess to Portlandia fans everywhere.

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I’m just waiting for my proposal. From 2007 Leo, that is.

The Next Big Thing in my journey towards braided armpit hair is downsizing. Right now I live in a 1,200 square foot, 2-bedroom duplex, complete with a yard, sunroom, and plush carpeting thick enough to hide Trump’s tax returns.

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Also there are ghost cows.

When I moved to my current apartment from a 4-bedroom house, it offered plenty of space for my furniture and featured all of my must-haves.

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I mean just look at that flask nook.

As time passed, I realized I needed less room to feel content. I also needed less stuff.

Speaking of, the real reason I’m posting is because I’m trying to get rid of this. Any takers?

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I meant the curtains. Geesh.

Do you have any moving / downsizing advice?

P.S. – Don’t even think about it. I’m keeping that Aladdin VHS tape.

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