Hey guys! It has been a while since I have posted a CL interview, so I thought now would be the perfect time. (Don’t worry more are coming up as well!). This time I sat down with Audrey of Brunch at Audrey’s. Keep reading to learn more about this incredible woman!
LFB: In the blogging world, many bloggers feel the pressure to stay on top of trends, purchase new things for reviews, accept gifts etc. How do you balance the mass consumption and “product selling” side of blogging with living consciously?
Audrey: I remind myself that everything comes at a cost, sometimes at a cost for me, sometimes at a cost for others, though it’s usually straightforward enough to realise the cost for me and go from there. Saving money is enough incentive for me; I’m on a college student budget ;P Do I want to spend money on this super trendy thing that I kinda like but only a little and derive a superficial sense of satisfaction when I post it to social media until it fades from everyone’s feed in the next 24 hours for the next new thing, or do I want to spend money on something that really gives me joy, like bubble tea or a train ticket into the city?
But what if it doesn’t come with a price tag? Still, everything comes at a cost, whether it’s for the money in my wallet or for my time and creative energy. If the project aligns with my values, if they can do something for me, and if I believe I can make a valuable contribution for them, then I’m all in. Otherwise, I’d rather be putting my time and creative energy elsewhere. (Like into my education. Oh god, so much homework.)
Practically speaking, as a college student, I live in a small space, and that also forces me to be more conscious of what I consume. You can’t hide from what you consume, especially when it comes to packing for summer storage. (What a nightmare.)
LFB: In today’s day and age with the rise of social media, it is very easy for us to get swept up in our own lives and careers and forget about our social commitments to both our friends and family as well as those less fortunate than us within our society. What do you do personally to ensure that this does not happen?
Audrey: It’s so easy for college students to get swept up in their own lives and careers; they don’t call it the college bubble for nothing. Especially at this time, everything we’re doing is geared toward building our career and laying a strong foundation for our future. All conversations turn into interrogations about where we want to go after college, what we want to do. It’s easy to lose perspective and forget that anything else matters.
I felt this even more intensely in high school, middle school, and even elementary school, when everything we ever did was geared toward getting into a prestigious college. Now that I’m here, now what? You realise that that Biology quiz in ninth grade wasn’t worth the cry. You realise that that Asian Studies presentation in tenth grade wasn’t worth the all-nighter. You realise that that crayon in Kindergarten wasn’t worth the fight. Reminding myself of these things that, at the time, I thought were the world, but really weren’t, reminds me to step back from where I am now and realise here and now that there is more to this world than my own life and career so that I don’t have to wait to realise this in retrospect.
With a little more perspective, it’s easy for me to remember the value of my social commitments to friends, family, and those less fortunate than us within our society. Human beings are social creatures, even the most introverted of us. If I get swept up in my own little world, I’ll go mad and eventually be forced to take care of myself socially, emotionally, and mentally, but it’s nice to be constantly conscious about balancing my professional and personal life so that I don’t have to wait for myself to fall to the bottom before picking myself back up.
LFB: Doing things in a purposeful way is something very important to you, no matter the topic. A lot of doing things in a purposeful way comes down to being conscious in even the most mundane things we do. Could you explain why this is so important?
Audrey: I’m a big picture kinda person; I need to see things in context, then break it down and build it up. I love lists, and to-do lists are no exception. I could go on and on with them. And subsequently feel overwhelmed by everything I need to do. So I refocus myself and take it a step at a time. There’s no point worrying about later when there are things to be done right now! I believe that when you take care of the little things, the bigger things take care of themselves.
“Today is the the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.” And look, it all worked out!
LFB: What kind of things do you do to make sure that your actions are always purposeful?
Audrey: Every once in awhile I’ll pause and check in with myself to gauge whether or not what I’m doing is purposefully productive. Productivity isn’t exclusive to academic or work productivity; it also counts for taking care of myself, i.e. by resting or filling myself creatively or emotionally.
Why did I say that thing? To fill silence or to create meaningful conversation? Why am I even having this conversation? Because they’re there or because I’m curious about what they think?
How long have I been scrolling on Facebook and what have I been doing? Nothing? Shut it down. In fact, I almost never need to be on Facebook when I am, so I actually don’t have Facebook anymore. How long have I been on Bloglovin’? Am I still feeling inspired or have my eyes started glazing over? I think I’ve gotten my daily dose and it’s time to get back to work.
How long have I been staring at this assignment and how much of it have I actually done? Not much? Take a break and work on something else or just take a break and come back with a fresh mind.
How long have I been lying on the floor? Am I resting? Is energy seeping through the earth into my veins or… wait what am I doing.
Purposeful productivity is not about doing more, but about doing efficiently and intentionally.
LFB: We have also talked about how time is something that is meaningful for you and should not be wasted. Would you like to elaborate on this?
Audrey: Before I fall asleep, I have a habit of recounting what I’ve done in the past day. Sometimes there have been days in which I couldn’t recount a single thing I did, except maybe scroll down Tumblr for three hours and play Tetris for another hour. It’s frightening for me to realise that a whole day has passed and I’m at exactly the same place as I was yesterday, but with a few extra bags under my eyes and an impending case of carpal tunnel. What a shame to have 24 hours to do things, big or small (even just making a friend smile), and not make the most of it. Every moment is a chance to do something that can make a difference in your own life or someone else’s, a chance to do something meaningful.
LFB: How do you ensure that you do not waste time or take it for granted? What tips do you have for others who find it difficult to appreciate time and not waste it?
Audrey: Know what you want and don’t lose sight of it. And when there’s something you need to do but don’t want to, turn your shoulds into wants (I love the method described in this blog post). Remember why you started. This works for me, because I believe that “purpose fuels you in a way that passion can’t.”
LFB: What does “wasting time” mean to you exactly and is there ever a time where it is okay to “waste” time?
Audrey: “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” There’s so much freedom in realising that.
LFB: What does conscious living mean to you both in general and for you personally?
Audrey: Conscious living means realising that everything we do is a choice with a consequence, and it is within our power to make it for the better. It’s up to us to be active in making these choices, and the more conscious we are about them, the more control we have over them–although sometimes we need to be wary of the urge to be in control, so perhaps a better way to put it is to say that we can be more intentional about what we do.
As a student, it’s important to me to live consciously, because otherwise it’s so easy to just zombie my way through college. I zombied my way through my upperclassmen years of high school and I survived, but that won’t fly in college, and it’s not any way to live life anyway. We pay way too much tuition to not be present for every moment of it. I want to have the most fulfilling and happy four years and rest of my life as I can.
LFB: What is the most important aspect of conscious living for you personally?
Audrey: I don’t know if it’s any one aspect or category. I do think it’s important to be purposeful in all aspects of life, whether it’s food or fashion or self-care. In every situation, ask “why?” Don’t fall into a mindless routine. Time should be ceaselessly spent, actively and consciously; we can’t save time and tuck pockets of it away to redistribute for later, so every moment is precious and should be treated as such. It’s in our every day, in the details, not just when we go out on a shopping spree and look out for ethical brands, although that is certainly a time to live consciously and support brands that do!
LFB: How do you practice conscious living?
Audrey: Back in July I made an explicit effort to be more conscious about my mornings. But more generally: Throughout the day, if I find myself sitting in one place for a long time, I’ll ask myself those questions I mentioned earlier to make sure that I’m on track, because it’s so easy to fall into mindless habits. Often, just asking myself “why” is enough. Some more opportunities to check-in with myself are all those in-between moments in life, i.e. walking to class, waiting for the bus, etc. I might rest if that’s what I need, or listen to music, or a podcast, or just think. At the end of the day, I’ll reflect on what I’ve done–just a short mental list of accomplishments because I don’t have the time or energy for an existential crisis right before bed. Having awareness can take you such a long way!
LFB: What websites, books, documentaries, or stores do you support that place a strong emphasis on conscious living?
Audrey: Love from Berlin is the most exhaustive resource I follow that places a strong emphasis on conscious living. Although not as specific, another great resource is JooJoo Azad, an “activist fashion blog by Muslim-Iranian writer and photographer Hoda Katebi.” Two other blogs I follow are Zen Habits and Alexandra Franzen, and they write more about personal growth in general. I think a big part of personal growth is becoming aware of yourself, which is helpful when it comes to conscious living. Another stimulating blog I follow is The Fresh Exchange. Somehow they have something inspiring to say about every little thing, and I think that goes to show how present and purposeful they live their experiences. Moving away from blogs, United by Blue is a coffee shop and clothier that creates “responsible durable goods” and hosts local cleanups to remove trash from oceans and waterways.
LFB: Thank you so much for answering these questions. Is there anything else that you would like to tell the LFB readers?
Audrey: Y’all are such a thoughtful community, so thanks for having me! Feel free to pop by and say hi and/or seduce me with bubble tea and movie soundtracks. If you need someone to go cafe crawling with, I’m your gal!
Thank you to my November sponsor, Dee Shoots!