Charting Your Own Course

Sometimes it’s really tough to get out there and do something different from the people around you! ¬†In my experience, I felt very alone pursuing chemistry in a world of people who really don’t like chemistry. And I also felt isolated from other chemists at graduate school because I wanted to do something with my career that didn’t involve just chemistry, but that also would promote social justice and environmental stewardship. As a young adult, I also needed to find my own way apart from my parents’ values. Finding what I valued involved a lot of soul searching AND Google searching. ūüėÖ (Also the meticulous use of this really cool planner/journal combo!)

I’ve included several YouTubers and other resources in this blog post that I found really helpful when throwing off convention and getting my own footing.

Sarah Nourse

Since the beginning of 2016, Sarah Nourse and her husband Matthias have uprooted their “comfortable American traditional” lifestyle and have transitioned to an international minimalist lifestyle. Over the last year they donated or gave away all of their possessions, quit their jobs, became vegans, and moved to Switzerland. Currently based in Berlin, Germany (as of the time this article was written), Sarah and Matthias are working on starting their own online businesses. Watching Sarah undergo and document this amazing transition helped me realize that I indeed have the power to direct my life in the ways I truly find most inspiring and interesting. If I care about it enough, I will find a way to make it happen!

Exploring Alternatives

Exploring Alternatives is a YouTube channel created by a young nomadic couple who sold all their possessions to live a traveling lifestyle free from materialism and social obligation. This couple shares insights about what it is like to live a minimalist lifestyle and explains various avenues for how to live a more environmentally-friendly and zero-waste lifestyle. I really found Exploring Alternatives to be inspirational because I was disillusioned by the idea of living a “work-all-day-and-all-night-just-to-buy-things” lifestyle for the rest of my life. I also really liked the fact that they find ways to save money and still live comfortably without having to slave away at the old “9-to-5.” Instead they choose to spend the minimum number of hours required to maintain an active and healthy channel and blog and leave plenty of quality time to explore the countryside. I anticipate also being able to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle once this blog gets off the ground.


Living Big in a Tiny House

I was fascinated by the Tiny House Movement happening all over the world. Living Big in a Tiny House is a really great channel for seeing new ways to live your life while prioritizing your health and environmental stewardship. By making choices that prioritize taking care of the planet, we essentially are valuing our own lives and those of our posterity. We are grounding ourselves in the reality that we indeed are citizens of the world, whether we like it or not. Making decisions which value environmental stewardship (e.g., Minimalism, eco-friendly Tiny living, or Veganism) also enable you to save a lot more money in the medium- to long-term. I highly encourage you to check this channel out for some unique, fresh perspectives on the daily grind!

Gigi Gorgeous

Gigi Gorgeous is a style and LGBTQ+ inspiration! She started doing YouTube makeup tutorials before her transgender realization and transition process. While still living life as a man, Gigi pushed boundaries by showing off great makeup looks for gay men! She also was incredibly courageous to continue to make online videos even throughout her transition, updating her followers about her life. Her work has been an inspiration for Trans people of all ages and for other members of the LGBTQ+ community! As a member of the Queer community myself, I find it really amazing and bold that she was willing to go through her “coming out” story online before her peers.

I really hope these channels will help guide you in your journey to be a Total Femme Boss! Liberate and empower yourself to pursue your dreams!

Hannah Stringfellow¬†is a freelance blogger and world traveler. She holds an M.S., Chemistry, from the University of California, Berkeley. Her interests include women’s empowerment,¬†health and wellness, and¬†cross-cultural competency.

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Helpful Rituals in Meditation

In my previous post entitled “How to Use the Law of Attraction To Your Advantage,” I mentioned the importance of meditation in manifesting your goals through the Law of Attraction. This post details sacred items and elements from my own meditation practice that have helped me to really start feeling and acting #likeafemmeboss. You can tweak and make your own to improve your journey towards making your goals and dreams happen!

Candles

I use a candle some days to have a single point to focus my attention on. The flame is always calm yet energetic. I like contemplating the nature of the flame and relating it to how I’d like my conscious attitude to be on a daily basis. I also really like the¬†aromatherapy¬†benefits of some candles. You can find candles that contain essential oils which promote a calm, uplifted mood.

Meditation Cushion

Meditation cushions are great for you to designate a space just to the meditation practice in your home. Some cushions are also ideal for traveling. I really like having access to a cushion because it helps support my spine and it also helps me keep my knees below my hips, which is important to keep from making your legs and feet fall asleep so easily!

Playing in your own zen garden and drawing mandalas are two forms of active meditation. They help you to contemplate nature in the present while engaging your senses of touch and hearing. The delicate sounds of the rake or the sand flowing or a pencil pushing against paper are very relaxing. If you find sitting still for long periods of time to be difficult, try playing with one of these for your next meditation session. I personally find that using one of these methods helps me alleviate my anxieties.

Malas

Malas are great because they help you keep track of where you are in your practice. A mala is a string of round beads shaped into a necklace with one larger bead at the end. The larger bead signifies that you have completed 108 chants of the same mantra. Having a tangible object in your hand to track your recitation of a particular mantra can give you a sense of productivity, and it also engages your sense of touch to keep you in the present moment. Your mind is less likely to drift off with this stimulus.

Mantras

Mantras are great way to stay focused on an idea you’d like to contemplate in the present moment. Something abstract yet calming and inspirational makes for a good mantra. Examples for the Femme Boss include:

  • “You are a Femme Boss.”
  • “You are awesome.”
  • “You are a Boss Babe.”
  • “Simplicity”
  • “Focus”
  • “Let go”
  • “Tranquility”
  • “Serenity”
  • “Productivity”

These are simple ideas that resonate with your core desires and values.

Tibetan Bowls

A Tibetan bowl is a great way to get your mind to center on the act of meditation. Tibetan bowls have been alleged to have healing powers in some spiritual paths. They provide calming, unique sounds that fill the room and naturally resonate with certain parts of your body. I usually use a Tibetan bowl at the start and end of my meditation session.

Meditation Music

I also highly recommend the Omvana app for guided meditations and quiet meditation music tracks. You can also find great meditation music on YouTube. Having a track that plays calm music for a set period of time is a free way to start and end your meditation session. When the track ends, you know you’re finished.

Personal Altar

I place each of the items I mentioned above in a sacred place in my room. I call this my altar. When I am about ready to start a meditation session, I lay them out in an orderly fashion on top of a piece of gold-colored silk. The act of placing sacred items in a dedicated space sets the intention to meditate in my mind’s eye. That way, once I start my session my mind is ready to observe the present moment. And sacred items are not universal. You can designate any images, small idols or figurines, or other objects (basically, anything that inspires you or brings you joy) as your altar pieces.

Remember, you don’t have to believe that using any of these tools is mystical in order to reap the benefits of using them. For some people, there may be a mystical element to this ritualistic practice, and that’s great! For others, using these items and can really help the mind relax and prepare to engage in the meditation task at hand. These items can also help you refocus, and they can also help you become more mindful of your five senses.

Hannah Stringfellow¬†is a freelance blogger and world traveler. She holds an M.S., Chemistry, from the University of California, Berkeley. Her interests include women’s empowerment,¬†health and wellness, and¬†cross-cultural competency.

How to Use the Law of Attraction To Your Advantage

“Law of attraction” is thrown around often, but it’s not just another pop-culture buzzword. This article sheds light on how to use the law of attraction to improve your life.

What is the Law of Attraction (LOA)?

The law of attraction is the idea that you naturally attract certain experiences, things, and attitudes into your life based on what you choose to focus on. The metaphysical explanation is that, regardless of your life circumstance, be it age, religious creed, or nationality, we are all susceptible to Universal laws. This Universal law is said to make use of the power of the mind to manifest your thoughts into your reality over time.

If this explanation sounds a little hokey to you, don’t worry. You don’t have to subscribe to the pseudoscience behind the law of attraction in order for it to still work in your favor.

In my personal experience I started using LOA back in November 2016. I was stressed, frazzled, and not sure what I wanted to start doing with my life. However, I could envision some mental images of what success, happiness and calm looked like to me.

How do you use LOA?

Our subconscious and conscious attitudes reel in the same “energies” (moods, feelings, energy levels, relationships, and experiences) that we put out into the world around us everyday. Without checking ourselves, we can easily send out thoughts and attitudes we don’t actually want to send out, and then we will receive more of these undesirable events and emotions in our lives.

While this may sound scary at first, don’t worry! It’s awareness about how this works that allows you to start using it to your advantage. Start focusing consciously on the kinds of things you want to attract:

  • Success
  • Confidence
  • Self-esteem and Self-agency
  • Wealth
  • Prosperity
  • Abundance
  • Good health
  • Solid, reliable, and happy relationships
  • Adventures
  • Independence
  • Feelings of happiness, contentment, grounding, and gratitude

Basically, you have to “fake it till you make it.”

Psychological basis

What does that mean on a psychological level? Psychological research has shown that making positive, conscious statements throughout the day, such as “I am…,” “I choose…,” “I do [something] well,” keeps you rooted in the present tense of your daily experience and keeps you from focusing too much on the past (which, in excess, can lead to depression) or on the future (which, when fully distended, leads to anxiety disorders).

The practice of staying present with yourself in a positive, nurturing way takes time and deliberate effort to become a habit. It may take you months before you are doing this correctly.

Another key feature of “faking it till you make it” is using visualization, affirmations, and meditation to your advantage.

Visualize your goals

To combat my worries about my future as a “pathetic, unemployed, anxiety-ridden, depressed chemist,” I chose to make a vision board made solely out of pins I had found on Pinterest. I chose pins that showed the following images:

  • a woman dressed in beautiful, savvy business attire
  • a girl with long, blond, curly hair in blue jeans enjoying a view of the mountains
  • a happy girl pouring coffee with the caption “11 morning habits that will transform your life”
  • hundreds of dollar bills in rolls
  • two people kissing

What did these images mean to me? I positively imagined my best self doing great things like securing a paid position in a respectable field, traveling out to see the mountains on the US East Coast, adopting a new morning routine that promoted both efficiency and sufficient self-care, starting an online business that would be profitable, and finding a new significant other after my recent breakup.

It’s now April 2017. While I was overwhelmed and fearful about my uncertain future in November 2016, I started to work consciously towards the goals on my vision board. I am already happily doing the following:

  • I have an interview for a teaching position next week!
  • I’m making strides in a certificate program that will certify me to teach even though I didn’t originally pursue an education degree at university or grad school
  • While I had no income, my friends in Virginia offered to buy me a ticket to fly out to see them and go camping. I didn’t even have to ask. And I didn’t even have to ask about going camping either! These opportunities were just offered to me.
  • I am now writing this blog and have set up an affiliate marketing business
  • I now have a significant other who is incredibly sweet!

(Can’t wait to update you further on these developments as they unfold!)

This kind of vision board didn’t really require any artistic ability, just conscious effort to find images of things and ideas that inspired me! I had to know the reasons why I wanted those images too, so that I could regularly process how I was doing on those ventures.

Example of travel vision board I found online
Example of a female artist’s vision board I found online

I also made to sure write down my goals in my Law Of Attraction Planner, and to write down my daily agenda in the form of actionable steps towards those large goals. Seriously! For the last three years, this planner has been a LIFESAVER! I’ve totally reworked and rewired my habits from self-destructive to incredibly productive, positive, and efficient. Writing these things down also lowered my floating feelings of generalized and social anxiety, giving me a sense of control over the obligations and people I had to meet that day.

Spend time with affirmations podcasts

YouTube has some really great podcasts that direct you to start thinking about, focusing on, and changing your unhealthy subconscious associations with things such as the following:

Meditate

Creating a ritual of regularly monitoring your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations (a practice known as mindfulness meditation) will enable you to process how you’re doing while working toward the goals, experiences, and feelings you actually want to have in your life. It’s so simple, yet it takes effort to just “allow what is”! Sit calmly and focus on the space between your two nostrils. Observe the breath as it comes in and out. Observe your other bodily sensations as well. Your mind will wander, and that’s okay, because that’s just your brain doing what it’s so good at doing naturally – finding patterns and trying to rationalize and interpret stimuli. Each time it wanders, calmly and kindly (not critically!) direct it back to the task at hand – observing the breath.

I’ve actually really loved using the Omvana app for mindfulness meditation (it’s a free app!), and there are also free meditation resources offered by the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. If you’ve managed to read this far in the article and are still skeptical about what I’m saying, UCLA is a highly-renowned Tier 1 research university. I would trust that they know what works.

The bottom line: LOA gives you the control to shape your own life and make it how you truly desire. This article has given you three techniques you can use to begin working with LOA. Don’t be afraid to dream big – and then take the right steps to make those dreams happen!


Hannah Stringfellow¬†is a freelance blogger and world traveler. She holds an M.S., Chemistry, from the University of California, Berkeley. Her interests include women’s empowerment,¬†health and wellness, and¬†cross-cultural competency.

10 Life Lessons You Should Unlearn

10 Life Lessons You Should Unlearn By Martha Beck, Huffington Post.

Martha Beck sagely pointed out something I’m beginning to see now that I’m away from the chronic American influence: In the past 10 years, I‚Äôve realized that our culture is rife with ideas that actually inhibit joy.

This is a really interesting way of reframing our lives. Honestly, this morning I had a bit of a reality check while cramming for my Chinese exam via one more sorry all-nighter pulled this week. It’s funny how just sifting through random old Huff Post articles can retrieve a real gem or two!

Hannah Stringfellow is a freelance blogger and world traveler. She holds an M.S., Chemistry, from the University of California, Berkeley. Her interests include women’s empowerment, health and wellness, and cross-cultural competency.