Sunshine & Bravado: the Lotus Collection Campaign Update!

If you've been following me or my blog at all, you know that last week, I launched the crowdfunding campaign for my ethical clothing line Sunshine & Bravado via IndieGoGo. This is my first produced collection, it's sewn by women in Kentucky and hand dyed by me using natural, plant based dyes right here in Columbus, Ohio. All of the fabric is sustainably and ethically sourced, mainly organic cotton and hemp, and mostly grown in the USA.

Whee!

And if that wasn't enough, I'm also pairing up with TWO different non-profit organizations so I can donate a portion of clothing sales to their causes. They are:

Survivor's Ink, a Columbus based non-profit which helps survivors of human trafficking reclaim their bodies, by covering up scars and brands with tattoos. [photo via the Guardian]

survivors-ink-columbus-ohio

and Love Yourself Project NYC, an NYC based art therapy nonprofit centering on self love. [photos via their website]

Hell yeah!

Here's a rundown about the campaign:

  • The campaign goal is $3,500.
  • This will cover factory patterns & samples, beautiful fabric, dyes, labor, legal costs, and upgrading the website to support e-commerce.
  • If you donate to the campaign, you can choose your "reward". Rewards include personal thank you postcards, limited edition screenprinted tote bags, and a pre-sale of the full run of the collection. This means that you will be able to own a piece from the collection WAY before everyone else!
  • This collection is carefully designed to flatter and fit a wide range of sizes and body types.
  • This collection is seasonless, which means that it is not particular to a certain season, weather, or time of year, but the styles are meant for layering and wearing all year round, not for being a slave to the fashion system!
  • This collection is made in the USA, which means it is creating jobs and making sure that garment industry workers are working in a safe environment, being paid a living wage, and doing what they love.

Other Ways You Can Help

If you are unable to contribute financially right now, I totally understand (though even one dollar helps!) Here are some other ways to help if you are feeling the vibes of my mission:

  • Get the word out about the campaign. Share photos, share my video, share the link on social media! Tell all your friends! This will not be possible without you, and any tiny contribution or act of sharing counts.
  • Use the Indiegogo Share Tools!

Get in Touch

sunshineandbravado@gmail.com

www.sunshineandbravado.com // @sunshineandbravado on Instagram

#sunshineandbravado #ethicalfashion #fashionrevolution #whomademyclothes

This collection has been my dream for a long time, and I've been working on it for almost a year. All I want is to see this collection come to life, to create jobs and work with nonprofits, and to share it with the world.

XOXO Nikki Dee!

  • what's your biggest dream?
  • are you part of the #fashionrevolution?

 

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Nikki Dee

NYC costume designer, magic maker, flower crown weaver, and tiny geek.

Tarot Diary: Temperance

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Last week, I pulled a Tarot card from the Starchild Tarot deck, asking the cards to send a message for us. The card that I pulled was Temperance, which definitely felt relevant to me.

I actually woke up thinking about this card on Friday for some reason. Temperance is allll about balance. There is a lot of crazy fire energy bouncing around right now, with summer, the New Moon in Leo, and the summer harvest holiday of Lughnasadh quickly approaching. So the idea of balance comes into play - how can we balance ourselves within our crazy lives? How can we make sure that we are being productive and putting good things out into the world, but also taking the time and the space to relax, tune into our emotions, and be present in our relationships?

In the Rider-Waite Tarot deck, Temperance is represented by an angel, with one foot in the water, and one foot on land. They are pouring water between two cups. Cups and water in the Tarot both symbolize love and emotions. Take a moment to meditate on this question: do you feel secure and centered? Try a grounding exercise, or take a ritual bath - I'll post a ritual bath tutorial tomorrow for you to try.

Temperance could also mean that you are flourishing in life right now. You are striking a fantastic balance, feeling present in you relationships, and truly killing it at work. Rock on! You're doing great. Balance is the key.

In a full reading or Tarot spread, some cards that reinforce the Temperance card's ideas of balance, tempering, teamwork, and integration are: The Two or Three of Cups, the Two or Three of Pentacles, and the World. If you are feeling a sense of conflict in your life, and see a card such as the Tower or the Five of Wands within your spread, then Temperance may suggest that compromise and moderation are the answers to your conflict.

nikki-dee-girl-tarot-temperance-starchild-lavender-redliptick-statement-necklace

And because I'm sure you're wondering... my lipstick in these photos is Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Rock Steady, and my nail polish is from Essie.

Stay tuned tomorrow for my ritual bath post. I hope you're having a lovely August! <3

xo Nikki Dee

  • What part of your life feels the least in-balance?
  • How are you celebrating the summer?
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Nikki Dee

NYC costume designer, magic maker, flower crown weaver, and tiny geek.

ethical style: inspired by Leos and Gryffindors!

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On Wednesday, I journeyed out to a bookstore and picked up one of their last copies of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I started reading it yesterday, and, well, I finished it this morning. Any kind of Harry Potter release always gets me super excited. I'm a Gryffindor, of course - full of adventure, fiercely loyal to my friends, and brave - sometimes to the point of recklessness.

But anyway, between my Gryffindor love and the New Moon in Leo, I am SO READY to harness some of this fierce LION energy! I'm already embracing Leo season with my actions - standing up for myself and others, indulging in some self-care rituals, boosting my confidence, and trying to be a more generous babe - but now it's time to throw some of that energy into my style.

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I am definitely trying to infuse my style with some Lion energy here! Leos and Gryffindors both LOVE drama, so I amped up the drama with a combination of jewel-toned, baroque patterned pom pom shorts and a statement necklace. I'm letting my hair do it's big fluffy natural mane thing, and even wearing sparkly flat sandals. Some gold jewelry, red lipstick, and a comfy, casual tank top round off the look.
Here's what I'm wearing:

  • AE Don't Ask Why Ribbed Tank - oops, did I wear this last Friday, too?! I promise, next Friday I'll wear something completely different! It's just soo comfy and goes with everything, it really gets a lot of wear from me! I'm being more eco-concious by wearing the same thing over and over again, right? That's what I'm telling myself...
  • Baroque Pom Pom Shorts - I got these from a local boutique in Columbus, so they're not on the web...but I get tons of compliments every time I wear them, so I tried to find some similar styles to link for you guys. Here's a cute similar pair from ARIZONA brand, and another similar pair from BooHoo. Here are some black and white shorts with a baroque pattern, and I even found a bright red pair of pompom shorts from Bloomingdale's! Or, since it's getting towards the end of summer, you could check out thrift and consignment shops near you. I bet you'd find something great.
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  • Red beaded sandals from Matta New York - they don't seem to have these anymore, but you could try their Koli Flat, which is beautiful and handmade in Italy. I also found these Sam Edelman gladiators, which have a similar flair; this comfy-cool looking pair of sandals from Laidback London, and these Gei Gei sandals which are quite similar.
  • My lipstick is Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in the color Rock Steady - a deep, comfortable red. VERY Gryffindor. As for the necklace - I made it myself, for the Alternative Fashion Week Columbus show in June. It goes really well with the Lotus Collection. If you'd like one, just let me know! Send me an email at sunshineandbravado@gmail.com, and we'll work something out!
starchild-tarot-temperance-esse-nailpolish-lavender-playdate

Surprise! I pulled a Tarot for everyone today. Temperence. I actually woke up thinking about this card. Temperance is all about balance. How can you bring more balance to your life? Are you taking care of yourself, and indulging in self care every day? What are you spending too much time worrying about - and what can you focus more on? Try to shed some light on your emotions. Maybe a salt bath, followed by a mini grounding ritual, like eating bread or rice, meditating holding a stone, and being more aware of the world around you, will help things come into better focus. So this weekend, be sure to take care of yourself and remember: balance.
Oh, and because I know you're wondering - my nail polish is essie brand polish in the color "play date", and you can find it here. Haha!

xo Nikki Dee

  • Did you read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? What did you think of it?
  • What are you wearing today?
  • Are you feeling fantastic lion energy right now?
  • Do you think that your life could use some balance?
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Nikki Dee

NYC costume designer, magic maker, flower crown weaver, and tiny geek.

How to Embrace Leo Season

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It's AUGUST, which means that we are well into one of my favorite times of year: LEO SEASON. As a Sagittarius, I have somehow attracted a crowd of Leos into my life, and most of my best friends are Leos, which means that they were born between July 23rd and August 23rd. So of course, August is a month-long PART CELEBRATION every year. Because as we all know, Leos love to be the center of attention. So when that birthday month of fun comes around, the air is full of big, loud, red-hot Leo energy. And we have just passed through the New Moon in Leo, which means that it's time to embrace our collective Leo spirit.

So how can we all embrace Leo season this year? Simple: light up the world, babe.

Leo is a fixed fire sign, so Leos are blazing-hot with passionate energy about the things that light their fire. Leo energy is all about taking what you want, abandoning all doubt or negativity, and bursting with confidence. Leo energy is beyond confidence - so be sure to work on some self-love practices that build your confidence.

Try some of these:

  • This Secret, Saucy Trick to Getting Your Power and Confidence Back that I wrote about last summer.
  • Write down 25 things that you love about yourself.
  • Complete these 5 Self-Confidence rituals from MindBodyGreen.
  • Be a little bit selfish - say HELL YES to things that you want to do, and HELL NO to things that you don't.
  • Leos take pride in their presentation, so why don't you try a new makeup trick, put together an outfit that you wouldn't normally dare to wear, or put on some statement jewelry and bask in the compliments.
photo by slurpiesandstraws on flickr

photo by slurpiesandstraws on flickr

 

  • Give your mane some love. Try a scalp massage, new hair color, or deep conditioner. All of the Leos I know really have great hair!
  • Surround yourself with uplifting scents. Try wild orange oil, summery jasmine, or tangerine.
  • Treat yourself to a self-love talisman, and gift it to yourself in a special ritual. Leos love gifts - especially shiny and sparkly things. Why don't you gift yourself some shiny golden jewelry; a boquet of sunflowers, zinnias, or marigolds; or a gemstone or crystal that represents fire or the sun, such as amber, red carnelian, tiger's eye, or sunstone.
  • Really pay attention to your feelings. Leos do things from the heart, so this is a great time to tap into your emotions and your inner light.
  • Grab some of that SUN energy! Charge your crystals and Tarot cards in the sunshine, and make sure you're getting plenty of Vitamin D.

Now that you're feeling great, remember that Leos are incredibly generous. They show their love in big, flashy ways. Here are some ideas for ways to be generous this month, and show your love:

  • Tell someone you love them. Heartfelt and easy!
  • Take a friend out on the town.
  • Give a gift. Flowers, sparkly jewelry, a bottle of champagne, movie or theatre tickets, a hand-painted scarf, or a home-made manicure are all very Leo-esque gifts.
  • Do a random act of kindness. Check out Uncustomary's list of 103 Random Acts of Kindness for ideas!
sun-card-starchild-tarot-plants-cat-kitty

Now, it's time to party! Blaze on, babe. It's going to be a great month!

  • What's your favorite time of year?
  • How are you going to celebrate Leo Season?
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Nikki Dee

NYC costume designer, magic maker, flower crown weaver, and tiny geek.

Being a Global Citizen: A Master List of Resources for Living a More Sustainable Life

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Have you ever heard the phrase, "leave it better than you found it"? Well, it's definitely obvious that we are not doing that with our own planet. I've been called a "tree-hugger" my entire life, and I take it as a compliment. I went on to study Sustainable Design at University, and I’ve become familiar with an amazing, truly massive group of people invested in the same thing: being global citizens. What does being a global citizen mean to me? It means being an active and aware member of the planet, creating community wherever you can, and making sure you take care of your earth.

Living an eco-friendly lifestyle can seem daunting, difficult, or even uncool, but once you get started, it becomes impossible to stop thinking about your footprint on the planet. Luckily, there are lots of people who want to share their knowledge about how you can living a more sustainable life. So I’ve compiled a master list of my favorite resources on sustainability, eco-lifestyles, and sustainable fashion. It includes films, books, and awesome blogs to gain inspiration and knowledge from. Whether you are an eco-lifestyle guru or a true beginner in learning about the environment, there is something on this list for you.

Books:

My list of books is going to be a series of links which will take you to the Amazon page for each book, but of course if you can get these books from a library or from a friend, that's a good way to go. You can grab an e-book from Amazon, too, if that's more your style.

cradle-to-cradle-book

I definitely recommend starting with this book. It is one of the first really informative resources that I found on sustainable design. It was assigned to me as required reading in design school, and it taught me a lot about product lifecycles and the planet. And, the book is made out of recycled plastic, so it’s a sustainable resources in itself – and you can read it in the bath.

story-of-stuff-green-jobs-si-se-puede

this book is actually on sale for $11.56 right now on Amazon, and there is a really cool YouTube animation video that goes along with it, which you can watch here.

No Impact Man, aka Colin Beavan, also has a fantastic documentary and blog documenting his journey to a no-impact, sustainable lifestyle. Definitely one of the must-reads/must-watch/must-subscribes on this list, and a triple threat at that!

naked-fashion-sustainable-book-launch

Blogs:

No Impact Man and No Impact Project.  No Impact Man is Colin Beavan's personal blog, where it all started, documenting his journey on the road to living a "no-impact" lifestyle on the planet. The No Impact Project is his organization which came from the movie, No Impact Man. I recommend starting with the link "change yourself", and moving on to tips on how to, "change the world".

Ecotextile News. Ecotextile news is great for fashion designers, textile artists, and people interested in fashion. It shares news about fashion tech, sustainable textiles, and the changing scene of ethical fashion. They also post jobs opportunities in the ethical textile industry, and are a great source of information for anyone working in the fashion industry.

beth-ditto-plus-size-fashion-line-ecouterre

Ecouterre, is a website that serves the future of fashion design and promotes ethical and sustainable practices in the fashion industry. They also say they are, "dedicated to showcasing and supporting designers who not only contemplate cut, form, and drape, but also a garment’s social and environmental impact, from the cultivation of its fibers to its use and disposal. Our ethos: To follow the evolution of the apparel industry toward a more environmentally sound future, as well as facilitate a conversation about why sustainable fashion matters."

Trash is for Tossers is the blog of Lauren Singer, founder of The Simply Co. I actually went to college with Lauren at The New School, where she studied Environmental Studies while I was studying Sustainable Fashion Design. She lives a "Zero Waste Life" in Brooklyn, New York, and her blog is a great, down-to-earth resources on making your lifestyle a more sustainable and waste-free life. Come here for DIYs, videos, and a great comments section.

Moral Fibres: a British website started by a woman who wants, "to show that sustainable living can be a part of everyone's daily life, whether you wear sandals or prefer a more substantial footwear, without compromising on style."

Eco Chick: "Because Mother Earth is a Woman". Eco-chick is an online magazine that covers all aspect of ethical fashion, beauty, and even travel, specifically for women.

Groovy Green Livin: Lori is a, "recovering attorney" and mom who shares her advice on how to live a more earth-friendly lifestyle.

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Eco Warrior Princess: is a website created by Jennifer Nini, an Audtralian writer who "raises awareness of the social and environmental impacts of the fashion industry, promotes responsibly-made fashion, advocates policy that is beneficial to our environment and inspires the masses to “go green.”" She also has an incredibly gorgeous Instagram feed...

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Film:

Some of these fims are on Netflix, some on Hulu, and some you might just have to download or grab from Amazon or your local library. So I'm not going to link them, just list them.

  • The True Cost: A Documentary Film
  • The Age of Stupid: A Documentary Film
  • Thread: A Documentary About the Ethics of Fashion
  • The Future of Food
  • FLOW: For Love of Water
  • No Impact Man

There are tons of great resources out there, but these are some of my favorites to start with. I'm sure this list will grow over time, and I'll probably eventually permanently link it somewhere in the site's navigation. For now, though, I hope you enjoy taking some time to learn a few new things about the planet and the way people are living and taking care of it in new ways. And if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for things to add to the list, please let me know in the comments!

xo Nikki Dee

  • What are your favorite resources for sustainable food, design, fashion, travel, and knowledge?
  • Did you discover any new favorite facts, resources, or writers from this list?
  • Did this inspire you to learn more about eco-friendly living?
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Nikki Dee

NYC costume designer, magic maker, flower crown weaver, and tiny geek.

ethical style: The Secret Garden

It's been a while since I've written an outfit post! To be honest, my lack of outfit posts has been due to a combination two different things: my lack of inspiration and confidence with my style lately; and feeling like posting photos of my outfits isn't serious enough, in today's political and social climate. But then, I remembered this week, that adornment has always been a sacred ritual. It is empowering, and reflects my own choices and beliefs. I've been trying to support more ethical clothing and jewelry brands, and to play and experiment more with the way that I present myself. So what better way to share my journey, my thoughts, and my product discoveries, than through the blog?

With my clothing brand, Sunshine & Bravado Clothing's IndieGoGo campaign launch date looming close, I've been putting some extra thought into the way that I want to run my blog and my business. I want this website to be a safe haven for rebels-with-a-cause, bohemians, and punk-rock tree-huggers all over the world. I want to share insights on my self-love journey, craft therapy techniques, and knowledge of living a more ethical, sustainable, and bad-ass life. I want my clothing line, my Tarot readings, my blog, to all reflect each other and come from an honest, exploratory, adventurous, and brave place inside my heart. I'm truly super-excited to begin this new chapter of my life, blog, and brand. Are you with me?

nature-tree-stump-mushroom-fairy-garden

Moving forward, there might be some experimentation or change on the blog, but you can expect to see a general formula of posts three times a week. There will most likely be a post on Monday with themes of adventure, sustainable living, and self-love. On Wednesday, there will be posts about craft therapy, magic, and Tarot. And on Friday, there will be an outfit post, a link love roundup, or a review of a product that I love and recommend. Of course, there will be some sprinklings of crowdfunding updates and little mini-posts here and there, as well. I even made myself my first real Editorial Calendar, using Google Docs. I feel soooo #girlboss! Hooray for organization!

Now, onto the outfit post!

My new home in Columbus feels like something out of a Sophia-Coppola soaked dream for this native New Yorker. I'm renting a little town-house, which was built in the twenties and sits halfway in between a busy city street and a rugged, woodsy hiking path. There is all manner of flora and fauna in my charming little neighborhood, including a tiny garden hidden between my building and the next one. I never really looked too closely at it until today, and decided that it was the perfect spot to take some photos.

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secret-garden-blue-skirt-ootd-reverse-skirt

What I'm wearing:

clothes

  • Don't Ask Why ribbed crop tank in natural, the softest, comfiest ribbed tank and it's a crop, which is my favorite silhouette with a long skirt. I like Don't Ask Why/AE because they are a fairly transparent company, and they don't Photoshop their models.
  • Reversible wrap skirt, that I bought from a vendor at a street fair in NYC a few years ago.
  • Necklace from baya designs in Franklin, Tennessee. Handmade, sustainably sourced materials. They make truly gorgeous, badass, bohemian, Southern style jewelry. I might be a little bit biased because I know them ;] but they really are the real deal in awesome handmade jewelry.
  • Sandals from Matta New York, ethically hand-crafted and hand-beaded in Italy. They are pretty flat, I am thinking about having a rubber bottom put on them. I definitely recommend this for any new pair of shoes to help them last longer.

makeup

FACE:

  • CoverFX Blemish Treatment Primer. It's a light gel primer, and this, along with the derma-e Purifying Charcoal Mask, and Jurlique Balancing Day Care Cream, have totally and completely transformed and saved my skin.
  • I picked up the charcoal mask at my local health food store and it had INSTANT effects. My skin was immediately smoother and clearer. Seriously amazing. As for the Jurlique cream, I recieved it in the mail as a sample from Sephora when I bought my new Clinique Mascara, and decided to give it a try, because I love samples. It is a dry oil, which means it sinks right into your skin and doesn't feel oily AT ALL. It makes my skin feel really soft and even. I can be a bit skeptical about face products, but since my skin has been changing lately I've decided to give some new things a try. I definitely recommend these three products for combination or oily skin.

EYES:

  • Clinique Lash Power Longwear Mascara - I am a total brat when it comes to mascara. I hate the feeling of having something on my eyelashes, and my eyelashes are naturally stick-straight, AND I have oily eyelids, so I had basically given up on wearing mascara. Actually, I hadn't worn mascara at all in over a year, even at my friend's wedding. But I recently saw a review online for this Clinique Lash Power mascara, and I decided to give it a try. This is a tubing mascara, and I can't feel it on my eyes at all. It comes off pretty easily in little flakes with warm water and a microfiber washcloth - no smudgy raccoon eyes. It sat in my Sephora.com basket for WEEKS, and I'm glad that I finally decided to buy it.

LIPS:

  • Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in ZZ Cream - When I bought my mascara, I really cashed in all my chips to get a ton of samples to try. Luckily, I placed my order with a coupon that landed me with a sample palette of 24 different shades of the new Vice lipstick line by Urban Decay. Since I'm coming out of a beauty slump, I'm challenging myself to try a new shade of the Vice lipstick every day. (You can follow along on my Instagram if you want to see!) Today I'm wearing ZZ, which is a soft lavender color that I bet would be flattering on anyone.
nikki-girl-and-cute-cat-vice-lipstick-urban-decay-zz

Bombay kitty was enjoying some sunshine in the garden, too. :]

So that's my comfy and bohemian, ethical style for today. I wore this outfit to work from home, run errands, make homemade vegan cream cheese, and drink a beer while doing laundry. And, of course, to frolic in the secret garden next to my apartment. I hope you are having a beautiful day!

And if you're in New York, go see my friend Anna to get a free Tarot reading from Precious Metal Bar in Brooklyn tonight! She's there every Friday!

And everyone should join me tomorrow for Mary England's FREE webinar, How to Avoid Burnouts and Breakdown while Achieving Your Dreams. Yes, please, I need this. And I bet you do, too! See you there!

  • What does ethical style mean to you?
  • What are you doing this weekend?
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Nikki Dee

NYC costume designer, magic maker, flower crown weaver, and tiny geek.

Guest Post: Clayton Gerard - 5 Things I Learned from Traveling in Vietnam

Hi there, sunshine! This week we are continuing the guest blogger series with a great peek into the mind of Clayton Gerard, a writer and graphic designer from Kalamazoo, Michigan. Earlier this year, Clayton had the chance of a lifetime to stay with a family in Vietnam, and having never traveled to Southeast Asia before, he jumped at the chance. This week, he shares with Sunshine & Bravado readers a list of 5 things he learned traveleing in Southeast Asia for the first time. For a more in-depth look at his travels and experiences, check out his blog at www.claytongerard.com.


ho-chi-minh-city-vietnam

I have a secret.

When creating a bucket-list back in 2014 of all of the places I wanted to travel to in my lifetime, Asia never made it anywhere near the top of this list. I had just returned from a two-week excursion to Europe and being filled with European culture, I wanted more and listed almost every country in Europe proclaiming that I would return one day.

Fast-forward to January of 2016, I was contacted by my friend Tiffany whose family lives in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. She travels with her immediate family from The States every couple years to visit during the summer and she informed me that she was allowed to take a friend on this trip. Us both being infused with Wanderlust, I was the first person she contacted.

Since we would be staying with her family for the month of May, I only had to worry about purchasing my flight, visa into the country, and food for myself. I couldn’t pass up such a financial opportunity to travel. Little did I know, I would find so many more benefits after returning home from Southeast Asia. I could write all day about the things that I have learned visiting Asia, but here is a compiled list of the 10 biggest things I have learned…

1.   I Learned To Appreciate a Slow-Paced Lifestyle

Being from the United States, most Americans are aware that our culture is very fast-paced and puts hugely stresses making the most out of your time in terms of efficiency. We are used to waking up early for work, eating lunch at our desks, going home late, and then sleeping early so we can do it all again the next day. Things are not so much the same in Southeast Asia. It’s very normal to have a shorter work day, taking a break for lunch and going out with family and spending much of the afternoon relaxing. I have incorporated some of these elements in my life since I’ve been back.

vietnamese-tea-food

2.   I Learned To Enjoy Raw Ingredients

I grew up in a family that loves their sweets. I would consider myself an avid sugar addict. My sweet-tooth has been long rooted in chocolates from my grandmother, a mother who loved to bake, and a child who loved to eat. Spending a month out in Asia trained my body to step away from the sweets and enjoy meals prepared without heaps of sugar.

3.   I Learned To Endure and Actually Enjoy Heat

My favorite season has always been autumn. I’ve never been such a big fan of the heat, which really left me questioning what in the right mind was I doing deciding to tag along to Vietnam during its hottest month of the year. I arrived in Ho Chi Minh at 3:00AM and the moment I left the airport, I was hit with a wave of humidity that only intensified when the Sun came up. Most days neared a temperature of one-hundred degrees Fahrenheit. For a sweater-season boy, this was an intense adjustment. After a month of limited air conditioning, I came back to Michigan Summer feeling like the heat was nothing. I have spent this Summer outdoors more than any Summer I’ve lived through. I can thank Asia for this.

asia-travel-backpack

4.   I Learned That I Want To Minimize My Possessions

Americans are all about the “bigger is better” complex. We have big houses, big meal portions, and big everything. Being in Asia taught me that none of that stuff is important. One day we celebrated Tiffany’s grandmother’s birthday in their District 10 apartment. The small two-bedroom apartment, inhabited by Tiffany’s grandmother and two aunts was now packed with all aunts, uncles, and cousins crowded around a poker table in the living room filled with Vietnamese cuisine. I had never felt so much family warmth before. I realized in that moment it was not about having a fancy home with a fancy dining room. It is about your relationships with people and the memories shared.

5.   I Learned That I Will Return to Asia

I find humor in the fact that I never had any propulsion to visit Asia in my lifetime. The reality was that I just didn’t know enough about the culture. After spending so much time experiencing the day-to-day lives of those in Vietnam, it has been my favorite place that I have ever visited. I felt an emotional high the entire month and honestly felt quite displaced after returning to America. The travel-bug in me is making it a top priority to get back to Asia as soon as possible to explore what I still have left to see.

 

clayon-gerard-bio

Clayton Gerard is agraphic designer, feel-good engineer,  and marketing assistant currently operating out of Kalamazoo, Michigan.  Yes, there is a place called Kalamazoo.  You can find him writing about travel, design, dressing up, New York City, and bold business tips at claytongerard.com

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Nikki Dee

NYC costume designer, magic maker, flower crown weaver, and tiny geek.