BS. It’s all BS.

“Corona virus is making us all connect with each other again as humans” is basically a bunch of BS.

I am sick of Zoom meetings, Zoom birthday parties, Zoom dating apps. Zoom, facetime, Skype, zoom, IG video. My eyes hurt.

I miss high fiving strangers on the street. I walked by someone last night and said hi. They got visibly afraid.

I miss hugging my parents and my friends.
Every politician has a different story. Every expert has a different opinion. It’s confusing and stressful and anxiety is high.

Then there is all this added pressure to be “productive” during this time. I am so sick of Facebook ads for “read a book a week” or start your dream business. I am on technology and screen stimulation OVERLOAD.

Ok, rant over.

Because I do think there is something really beautiful happening here, at least for me.

I am calling it voluntary simplicity: the ability to strip away everything but the bare essentials and see what life is like living this way.

And it is the 3rd time I’ve felt it in my life, so I thought I’d share what I’m learning.

VOLUNTARY SIMPLICITY MOMENT ONE: SAN FRANCISCO, CA, 2006:

I was 22 years old and making $12,000 a year in San Francisco, CA. I slept in a laundry room for $350 a month. I covered the washer and dryer with Peruvian ponchos. I taught for Americorps. I had no romantic life. I was on public assistance. I had 6 roommates. I didn’t travel.

It was the best year of my life.

I spent Saturday afternoons making flautas and pupusas thanks to kind invites by the parents of my students in their homes.

I learned how to dance salsa with my friend Stephanie.

I cooked my own meals.

I bought local produce for the first time in my life.

I walked around the Mission district and practiced basic Spanish phrases with the local business and market owners.

I didn’t buy clothes.

I taught my students Italian.

I spent a lot of time at the school where I taught.

I wrote songs on my guitar.

VOLUNTARY SIMPLICITY MOMENT TWO: SAN FRANCISCO, CA 2012:

8 years ago, I started my own business. I am proud of how far we’ve come. I am proud that I’ve employed more than a dozen people. I am proud that I travel the world speaking and consulting. I am grateful for my team and ideas. But it was hard at the beginning.

For the first 18 months, I almost never went out for lunch or dinner with any of my friends.

I counted every dollar I spent. I still have the spreadsheet of my budgets for the first 2 years. A LOT of 3 dollar trader joe’s salads.

No happy hours, no fancy meals, no travel.

Some months, I had to rent my own apartment on Airbnb, and go stay with friends to come up with the cash I needed to pay the rent, cover business expenses, and buy food.

I spent most of the money in my bank account on a new camera and microphones so I could make videos. I shot and edited them myself, in my studio apartment, for almost 4 years.

A lot of weekends in my apartment, dreaming. Me, myself and I.

VOLUNTARY SIMPLICITY MOMENT THREE: MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY, PRESENT:

I arrived in Montevideo on February 23. My return flight to New York City was on March 26. They cancelled my flights.

It’s now mid-May, and I am writing you this letter from Montevideo. Every night, I write down things I am grateful for. It helps me stay grounded and positive and calm. But today, I am challenging myself to go a little deeper about these reflections.

They look something like this:

I can’t go hear live music, so I’m learning the piano.

I can’t travel, so I am meditating.

I can’t go to the gym, so I built my own with multi-gallon water bottles of sand.

I can’t speak my thoughts at conferences, so I am writing them down here.

I can’t see my parents, so I think of ideas to send them.

I can’t go out to eat so I cook a new dish every night.

I do puppet shows for my niece.

I support people that mean a lot to me with the things that mean a lot to them.

I pet the sweet dog I live with.

I get pet from the 3 cats I live with.

I walk on the beach and look at the sky.

I don’t order unnecessary items on Amazon.

I basically wear the same clothes every day.

Because even though I don’t go outside for the external world to see me.

I am going inside and seeing myself.

More than ever before.

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