Cool Cat Nebula

Living Art on Purpose

Why It’s Okay to Practice “Recreational Consumerism”

I’ll admit it. I’m not perfect. Okay, you already knew that. So consumerism. The subject of so many “simplicity” and “minimalism” blogs’ wrath. I do enjoy reading many of those types of blogs and subscribe to them, I don’t take their words as the gospel. But then again, I don’t take advertisements’ and magazines’ words as the gospel either.

It’s unfortunate that people have to reduce their manner of thinking to black and white about everything, when almost all of it is defined in a shade of gray. Is it bad to like and want to purchase something because you admire its form rather than its function? That can become a very personal question that involves your ideology, or lack thereof.

For me? I’m multilayered. At my core, I know what I really need: my family and close friends. The next layer includes my varied passions. These include math, writing and making art, among others. And then there’s a whole bunch more layers that I won’t get into the nitty gritty with on the internet, but we get to the last few bits that reside on the outside, in society. Just because a part of you is closer to the outside world doesn’t make it any less a part of you. It may even be the best part of you because it is most apt to renew itself. And that is the part that draws on all you know of yourself and applies it to everyday life.

So yesterday I decided that I wanted a pair of red boat shoes. I didn’t have a good reason. I don’t even go on boats. But spring is coming and I hate open toe shoes, so I thought a pair of fun non-sneakers would be a good investment. So I looked online, found a pair of canvas ones that wouldn’t break the bank, and bought them. They’re due to be at my house by the end of the week. I’m actually quite excited to get them. And that’s okay. Because I know my life isn’t all about new shoes. I know my true values, so why shouldn’t I get a pair of new shoes?

So that’s the grand philosophy behind practicing “recreational consumerism.” It’s all about knowing what you are about, and moderation. The moderation is key, which involves self control. Shopping shouldn’t be a default feel good activity. But when you have decided that you would like something and it would improve your life for any reason you like (“It’s just so pretty!” counts here), then who is anyone to tell you that you shouldn’t have it?

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Musically Inclined: The Shins

This week’s musically inclined includes one of my all time favorite songs. When you click play on the video, wait it out for a few seconds because there is a very subtle fade in for the first bit of it.

Tell me what you think in the comments below. Don’t forget to share and subscribe!

To Be Human is to Be a Paradox Sometimes

I don’t think I ever really established what this blog is really about. What you can expect. You can expect to hear about these three things from me:

  1. Fashion and Style
  2. Simplicity and Minimalism
  3. Philosophy and Art

The best surprise is none of these things are mutually exclusive. I have just recently found out that I am interested in all three little groups, and that is okay. There are some people from certain spheres that scoff at the others, but why? Why can’t we live a simple life with great style? Why can’t we look at the runways one minute and philosophy the next? We’re all human. We’re all paradoxes, sometimes. And it’s okay. I’m officially giving you permission to have passions for things that sometimes disagree with each other. And if anyone gives you a tough time about it, just remember that they’re trying to work out their own paradoxes. Winking smile

I hope you enjoyed this short post. Don’t forget to share and subscribe!

How to Change Your Life Without Changing Your Life

“How to change your life” is something a lot of people are interested in. The self-help industry is booming and websites aimed at people trying to change are growing by the day. Why are we all so intent on changing? Because we aren’t happy, or at least not one hundred percent so. But often we put it off, saying we’ll change for the better when one thing or another happens. But there is no reason to wait. There is no time quite like the here and now.

My life could use some change. I am a bit of a workaholic. I get good grades in school, chair several organizations and work at a restaurant about twenty hours a week. I am often physically exhausted, therefore unable to complete my tasks at full capacity. They get done, but not to my perfectionist liking. And besides that, I don’t feel as well as I should.

I don’t recommend quitting your job and traveling to a far away country to become a monk unless you truly believe that is what you were set on this earth to do. There is no one size fits all to becoming happier, and often the size that fits us involves a bit of work on our part. We have to look at our daily lives and look at what can be improved. You probably have plenty to be happy about, you just don’t know it yet.

I recommend looking at your primary occupation (school, work, etc.) to see what you can change because that is how you spend most of your time. I am a student. I cannot quit my job and take the aforementioned plane to some strange country. But I have realized that the worst part about my day is doing a mountain of homework in the afternoon or evening. It is difficult for me to get done because I am so tired from having to sit in school all day. The solution? Wake up earlier to get some work done and try to be more efficient during my free periods. Although that is not a perfect solution, it is an improvement to what I have been doing. Following a similar train of thought will usually work.

Also look at the other components of your life. Do you eat healthy and tasty food? Combining those two things is usually a recipe for improved mood. Do you get enough sleep? An extra hour of sleep on a daily basis can work wonders. Do you spend enough time with people you enjoy? Do you exercise (to some degree) regularly? All these things can contribute to adjusting your current situation into one that is much happier.

The odds are that your life does not need some monumental change. You probably just need to tweak what you do to be more efficient and make what you do more enjoyable. Of course, this is just a short primer on the topic, but it does cover an important issue. Most of us have what we need to be happy, we just have to make whatever it is work for us.

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Why Window Shopping is the Root of All Evil (And What You Can Do About It)

Window Shopping: Harmless or Evil?

Window shopping? The root of all evil? Well, sort of.

Of late I have been trying to more mindful of what I consume. And what have I discovered? Mostly that everything I do involves advertisements or simply browsing things I can buy that I don’t need. Sometimes this is indirectly (reading magazines) or directly (virtual shoe shopping). Both expose me to ridiculous amounts messages that all come down to the same base idea: Buy me. I’ll make you happy.

Pretty evil, huh?

And I’m not a radical person in most respects. I don’t hate capitalism, the free market, or advertisers. But it is our responsibility as consumers to be aware of what we consume. No one is forcing us to take in constant messages telling us to buy, buy, buy to become fulfilled. But it is pretty difficult to get away from. I can’t say what will work for you exactly, but the method I have used thus far has worked pretty well for me.

  1. Cultivate awareness: Spend a few days of taking mental note every time you see or do anything that compels you to buy something. Even better, write it down. Browsing the racks at Forever21? Note it. Get an email about a sale? Note it. See a commercial or magazine editorial? Note it. Over the course of a day or two, you will see how many messages you get assaulted with on a regular basis, whether they are internal or external.
  2. Remove excess stimuli: Now that you realize where all this advertising is coming from, get rid of it. Unsubscribe from store emails. Rip the ads out of your magazines. Set up an adblocker on your computer (and no, a basic pop up blocker doesn’t count). I am just finishing this stage as I try to eliminate the excess advertisements from my life.
  3. Remove yourself from “high exposure” situations: This last step is more optional and maybe not even necessary for the very mindful among us. But I recommend it. I am going to try to do it to the best of my ability. It involves not letting yourself get into situations where you would feel pressure from advertisements. Cut out going to the mall for fun, watching television that you didn’t record (and can’t fast-forward) through, stop browsing online because you’re bored, and stop reading fashion magazines.

The funny thing is that doing the steps in order has really made me aware of what I am consuming and losing desire to do things that would fall into the “high exposure” category. I never was a big television watcher. My biggest things were all fashion related (magazines, the mall, fashion blogs, watching runway shoes, etc.) I am trying to have a healthier relationship with the idea of fashion. After a bit of a fashion fast that involved looking at no fashion or style related things for five days, I realized I really loved two things about fashion: a challenging craft and the art aspect of the runway shows. I am glad I discovered that my passion was not for collecting things season after season.

How do you guys feel about exposure to advertisements? How difficult is it for you to remove the excess of them from your life? Let me know in the comments.

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SICOW: Hand Written Letters

 

Hand written letters. The epitome of my romanticism for an era gone by. There is just something completely wonderful about writing out what you mean to say with a real pen on a piece of carefully selected stationary. For personal letters, email will never come close to the sentimentality of receiving a handwritten note (or novel).

I do admit, there are some drawbacks to the handwritten letter. I like to make mine look quite nice. I use special stationary, fancy envelopes, scratch and sniff stickers, and sealing wax. The cost of all those things plus postage probably comes out to around two dollars a letter. I currently have quite a few pen pals, meaning that I send a lot of letters. So in this respect, email would be much more cost effective.

But we live for connections, not cost free convenience. I know that when I receive a letter, I get so excited and pleased that someone put the effort into making me something that I can hold on to and cherish. I save all my received letters in a drawer in my desk. I frequently review them, letting the pleasant emotions resurface as I trace the letters my comrades so lovingly wrote.

Musically Inclined: DeVotchka

Ever since seeing the movie Little Miss Sunshine, my extreme love for DeVotchka has exploded and continually grown.

“How It Ends” is absolutely one of my favorite songs. There is just something about it that gets part of me. If someone ever wrote me a love song, I hope this would be it!

I hope you enjoy!

Writer’s Block? No Problem!

Writer's Block: Remember to Recycle!

Right now it could be said that I have writer’s block. I don’t really have any good post ideas, and the mediocre ideas I do have, I can’t figure out a way to word them. So I am going to employ my secret (or maybe not so secret) method of dealing with it. Whether you’ve heard it before or not, it is guaranteed to work.

I am using it right now. I will be honest, I didn’t get a lot accomplished today. After school, I kind of bummed around on the internet a bit, reading various articles and beefing up my useless trivia knowledge. I had an excellent workout, a realization that I look a bit chubby, and now I am sitting at my computer in my cozy pajamas. And I have close to no desire to really write an  article. But I’m doing it, aren’t I?

Everyone says that when you have writer’s block, the best method is to try to write through it. I have tried, and I usually get frustrated. So when all else fails, I simply do this: I write about writer’s block. It’s the only thing that is on my mind currently, making it the perfect fodder for writing. Even I decide not to publish something, I still got the writing blockage out of my system, hopefully making room for some productive work.

So that’s my big secret. And now it’s on the internet. Good, bad, otherwise? Let me know in the comments!

Why I Hate Zen (A Concise Rant)

First of all, I don’t actually hate the idea of Zen in itself. It seems perfectly peachy if that’s what you’re into. But what I’m raving about right now is the fact that it is convoluted into all sorts of different things. Like workshops and memberships and expensive retreats.

I hate that Zen is a selling point.

I don’t mind that most stuff is sold. But Zen is about spirituality and simplicity, at least to my knowledge it is. So it just gives me a bit of a creepy feeling that it is often used to get you to buy something from someone who is “better” than you. It’s downright hypocritical.

Okay. Rant over. Here’s a picture of a cat:

Okay. I feel slightly better now. What are your thoughts on the matter?

Etymology of Rapper Names

At the Pop Chart Lab, they have created a “Magnificent Map of Rapper Names.” I definitely appreciate this for its humorous value, I don’t exactly have seven square feet of wall to devote to what seems like a one liner. But I suppose if you genuinely like rap, then it might be worth the $36 investment.

I’m honestly not a big fan of rap. The best part of it is the names, which I find infinitely amusing in their similarity. The truth would have to be that the most appreciation I can muster for rap is embodied in these photos:

Source: http://imsosorryforthis.blogspot.com/2007/02/rap-cat-controversy.html

Source: http://www.mobilmusic.ru/eng/file.php?id=681903

Source: http://www.thinkgeek.com/homeoffice/pets/ebb8/

Peace. Love. Cats.

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