food for thought

Routine, Routine, Routine

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I used to detest routines. Just the idea of it made me cringe. How boring, right? Well, they say people do not change. I disagree. People do change, but it has to be of their own accord. I know that I have changed, grown, eliminated a few flaws, and collected some new traits along the way. The most impactful "new" trait to me is definitely routine.

Imagine a cupboard full of spice bottles in a clutter. Just for the sake of this analogy, my mind was that cupboard, my thoughts and actions those spice bottles. With the cupboard in its chaotic state, it definitely took me longer to process and achieve many goals because I had to shuffle through all those bottles to get what I needed. For many years, it did not matter to me that my mind was chaotic to a certain level. It felt "special," "artsy," sometimes "radical," and "liberating" in a way. Maybe I just did not suffer any real consequences. 

Two years ago, I got into law school where the real adverse impacts began to manifest. It might sound silly but I got bad grades in my first semester, which snapped me out of my former mindset. Comes to think of it, a mindset is really just another mental routine. Being in law school practically overflowed my "cupboard," and without being methodical about it, I failed to succeed. I decided to get organized and find my "routine" to stay organized. Instead of passively receiving any and every "spice bottles" that came my way, I took my time to filter them out, prioritize, compartmentalize, and throw out unnecessary clutter. Soon enough, learning has become a routine, that I can easily zone into, retain, and recall.

The downsize to being methodical, of course, was not being able to fully enjoy life. My life routine, compared to my work routine, is in its nascent state. Finding balance is hard, but definitely achievable. Now that I have fallen into the rut of study-eat-sleep-repeat, I have also grown too complacent to take care of my body. "How much does a person have to do?," I typically complain to myself. It is way easier to order food in than to cook, especially when I have no time/ do not have the desire to stand in line at the store. Then of course, forget the  gym because that's way too much effort. Eventually, the overeating and drinking gets old. It makes me sluggish and foggy, which makes everything feels more cumbersome while it is not. 

Small changes are slowly taking shape and simple routines honestly give me something to look forward to -- taking a bath is such a routine for me. After coming home from school, I take a bath instead of drowning my stress in food(delivery) and wine. There is something so profoundly simple and fulfilling about sitting quietly in a body of warm water. It was hard to slow down and sit still at first. I needed to bring my audiobook, or my phone to help me stay focus. Now, I can sit still for about 20 minutes (yea, I know). Slowly but surely, I stop craving "guilty pleasure," and just indulge in a bath -- true pleasure. 

These days, I'm building more healthy routine step-by-step: drinking water + 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar first thing in the morning, cut down on food delivery (even though I have already paid Postmate for their annual delivery, oh well), and designate Friday to be my "read + write for pleasure" day (including this blog and Instagram of course). Three simple things. Nothing drastic. I do not believe that "shocking" yourself into stuff works in the long term. The small details matters and impactful changes take root by building upon small habits. 

So yes, I have changed. Not really for better or for worse, just because it is necessary. Now. For myself.

The "Made in" struggle: Why does it matter?

I have been following some discussions on the "Made in" debate. Check them out here.  For what it's worth, let's just focus on luxury brands right now. Why does it matter and what actually is the main source of concern? A product that is labeled "Made in France" or "Made in Italy" can merely mean that it was packaged and finalized in these respective countries. It does not mean that the production was done strictly in France or Italy. If you don't think that there are Chinese sweatshops in any of these countries, you are incorrect. "The Chinese — the largest nation of luxury consumers in the world — want their watches to be Swiss, their perfumes and cosmetics to be French, their cars to be German and their bags and shoes to be either Italian or French." What a curious paradox! The whole world is made in China! (excuse my use of hyperbole).

Does the idea of underage workers laboring over your handbags in a Chinese sweatshop bother you? As much as the fact that we're spending $1000 for a pair of shoes? The truth of the matter is, your choice as a consumer has little to do with a manufacturer's ethics (I welcome comments on this). The same thing goes for brand owners, sometimes, you just need to get things done. Nobody is paying the bills but you.

Speaking about Toulula specifically, we depend a lot on our vendors and the best that we can do is to choose them wisely. In all honesty, when faced with the question "Where does your merchandise come from?", I can only say that some are from China, some are from South America, and sometimes your guess is as good as mine. We focus first, and foremost, on product quality and customer excellence. The rest is subjected to change.

The system is in motion. You gotta pay to play.