Life is short, keep it simple

If you miss them, should you tell them?

By Jessica Militello

The other day on social media, I saw one of those posts that say something to the effect of “life is short, keep it simple,” followed by a list of things like, “if you miss them, tell them, if you want to talk to them, call them,” etc . And of course, it is the way of social media to prod and poke holes into literally everything a person writes, some of it justified, some of it not. I obviously don’t 100% know the thought or intention behind the original author’s post, but at its core, when it comes to being vulnerable and sharing your feelings, the concept of telling someone you miss them or asking to spend time with them is beautiful. When it comes to healthy, reciprocal relationships in your life, yes this is a great idea. Unfortunately posts like this also fall in front of the eyes of people who are hurting from a loss, struggling to accept what is despite their feelings, and use quotes like this one as a justification to reach out to someone who, deep down they know they shouldn’t but do so because, hey, like the post says, “life is short.”

What I don’t love about this post is the idea it expresses of “keeping it simple” by acting on your emotions just because you feel that way, when feelings are often much more complicated. This is why months after a breakup we wonder, “if they were bad for me, why do I still miss them?” or “they treated me like crap, but I still love them,” and wonder how that could be. The thing is, feelings don’t necessarily reflect reality of the situation, and we end up feeling pathetic, confused, or shame in cases where we still miss and want to talk to someone who we know we are better off staying away from.

Having a feeling about something and reaching out, in many cases, is actually not “keeping it simple.” Sometimes it’s ignoring reality, trying again and again with the same person who already showed us who they are, and not accepting the situation as it is, instead acting based on how we wished it would be. We ignore what is and focus our attention and time in the sunk cost of trying to love someone into magically transforming into the potential of what we see and completely abandon ourselves in the hope that if they keep seeing that we miss them and care for them, then maybe they’ll finally be ready, be the person we need them to be, and we will finally be loved, all while abandoning and not loving ourselves.

In these cases, the fact that life is short is precisely why you should not tell them you miss them or tell them anything. Sometimes keeping it simple means accepting that you miss them and also accepting that it is best to keep them in your past. Sometimes you are actually making it very complicated when you insist on staying in contact with a person that you have already learned staying near is not best for your well-being and peace of mind.

Next time you are struggling and see a post like this, it’s okay to miss someone, but telling someone will not change the circumstance, make them ready, or be able to meet you where you are, and if telling them you miss them is going to cause you to go backwards in your ability to heal and move on, then remember-life is short, keep it simple.

Working out is not your therapy

You still need to do the work

By Jessica Militello

Working out in its many forms has tons of benefits; it boosts your mood, it keeps you in shape, and it keeps your body healthy. Getting moving is a great way to help you cope with anxiety and depression, and it certainly helps to get your mind off of what ever may be troubling you, especially if the workout is intense and fun. It gives you an outlet to relieve stress and so I can see why people believe working out is their therapy.

There’s a saying that the head instructor at my martial arts school likes to say, “come in, train, leave your problems at the door-when you head out, they’ll still be there waiting for you.” And what he has always meant by that is to come to class, have a good time and focus, and enjoy being in the moment so you can train and better yourself.

But the saying actually means a little more in a way he may not have intended. If you work out to forget your problems, then just like my instructor says, they’ll still be waiting at the door for you. Working out is an outlet, and its mental health benefits are proven-but working out is not a substitute for doing the inner work and emotional regulation.

Working out and avoiding the inner work is like having a leaking roof and thinking that because you have a bucket to put under the leak for the water to drip into, that you have everything solved. It may seem like a fix, but it’s a temporary fix.

You can avoid it and pretend you have a solution for as long as you want, but eventually you will need to hire someone to look at your roof and fix what is causing the leak in the first place.

And what always happens when you hire someone to fix a “small” leak or some home repair? The professional looks into it, and not only do you need a whole new roof, but there’s squirrels living in the attic, and there’s a wall that needs to be fixed, too. And after you get a price quote then you wish you never looked into it and just kept the damn bucket for when it rains. What was so bad about a little bucket here and there? You knew there was a problem, but you pretended there wasn’t and you didn’t have to deal with it. But- after you sort through it all, get the repairs, set up a payment plan, and enjoy a nice, safe, home with no leaky roof or pesky squirrels, then you realize it was all worth it.

This is literally what its like to do the inner work, with a therapist, or reading books, learning your patterns, triggers, behaviors, and emotionally regulate. It is hard work, it isn’t always fun- healing is a lifelong journey, and just when you think you’ve reached a mountaintop in your self-journey, you realize it was just a resting spot and get another hurdle to navigate.

Working out is not therapy-punching bags don’t teach you why you got triggered by an off-hand comment someone made, the elliptical won’t help you to learn why you sabotage relationships and push people away, and the weights won’t help you to realize that you internalized the emotional neglect growing up and that’s why you people-please, can’t ask for what you want, say yes to things you hate, or get into codependent relationships. Avoiding this is just putting the bucket under the leak-it works in the meantime, it seems easier, but eventually you have to face what’s really causing your inner turmoil.

What do you think? Are you ready to put away that rusty bucket and really do the work to find yourself and your own peace? What are some books that have helped you? What kind of therapy are you trying or have completed? Leave your thoughts below.

How to stop feeling lonely

How you may be adding to your loneliness

By Jessica Militello

I’ve written about loneliness and coping skills before, but let’s face it; even when we know what to do, sometimes we just struggle with certain feelings when they come around. As humans, we want to feel love, belonging, and comfort and there is nothing wrong with wanting to feel connected to others. But- when you feel lonely it can be difficult to see a situation clearly or notice how we may be making our loneliness worse in the moment.

Here are some ways you may be making your loneliness linger

  1. Counting other people’s “blessings”

When I feel dissatisfied with the state of all my relationships or lack thereof, I have a tendency to start thinking of other people I know and begin comparing whose life may be more magical based on my own assumptions of the perceived quantity of their family, friendships, and love life while conveniently glossing over the fact that I have no idea of the quality of these perceived relationships. The truth is, regardless of how many people we think someone might have in their life, in many instances, we really don’t know what the relationship is truly like or if the relationships they have with these perceived people are even satisfying, meaningful, or if these same relationship dynamics that they have are even what we would want for our life.

2. If you are on your own on Friday or Saturday night and you don’t feel good about it- do yourself a favor and stay off social media

Loneliness has a few different outfits-one of them is FOMO. The “feeling of missing out” or the fear of it happens when we are dissatisfied with our current company, especially when that company is ourselves. Remember, being alone and being lonely are two different things, but I’m sure you know that there are tons of times when you were alone and having the time of your life and basking in the moment, and then there are those times where you feel despair, left out, and wondering why is it that everyone seems to have their social life on max, meanwhile your last text was from CVS reminding you to pick up your prescription. What I know is-anytime I am alone and feeling lonely about it I can promise you what added a sting was watching Instagram stories of friends and acquaintances, looking at what they are up to, and comparing it to my current pity party for one. If you know that watching what others are up to is going to make you feel bad, then do yourself a favor and set your social media aside for the evening. This intertwines with point one and it does nothing but turn what could be a period of loneliness into a night of wallowing in despair and it simply doesn’t have to be so.

3. Wishing for things to be different and feeling helpless

There’s a difference between your hopes and dreams being rooted in your own abilities and musing that if only you had more friends, more invites, a committed relationship, THEN you would feel happy. You may not think this in this exact wording, but its certainly underlying in times of loneliness. It’s normal to want human connection- but you need to make sure you are choosing the right people for your life. This is a game of patience and you need to know what your standards are and only accept quality, reciprocal friendships and relationships. You need to feel good enough with yourself that if these relationships are not meeting the mark, you are able to gracefully walk away. I wish I could keep count of all the times in the past where my loneliness mixed in with low self-worth, and a desperation to belong got me into trouble by choosing unhealthy friendships and relationships. It is now the reason why I would rather choose a season of loneliness than pick the wrong people just to fill voids. If you let this desire make you feel desperate for company you will throw your standards out the window.

4. Isolating yourself and expecting other people to magically know you want connection

This step usually comes about after we’ve spent enough time dwelling on the first three points I just wrote about. You can thank your inner critic for convincing you the reason you are lonely is because you aren’t good enough, amongst other unhelpful, negative thinking. We feel alone and then we feel resentful of the people who aren’t reaching out to us because we spent the time convincing OURSELVES that it is correlated to our worth and then project these feelings onto others. None of us can read another person’s mind and know what it is that they want and need especially if they aren’t asking for anything. Sometimes when someone seems to be going it alone people can assume they want space and this can especially ring true if you are known for being independent. It would be like going to a buffet with your friends and sitting at the table with an empty plate while they are going up and getting their food. Your friends notice you not getting food and ask if everything is okay and you say “sure I’m fine,” while in fact not being fine and at the end of the meal feel upset and offended that your friends didn’t “just know” that you wanted food or that they should of got up and brought you a plate while you sat there being hungry and sad. Do you see how insane that thinking is-yet that is what we do when we want company and say nothing. You cannot make your phone ring no matter how long you sit there and hope for it to. We also have to know the difference between wanting connection and wanting validation from others because of not feeling good enough due to our own thoughts and worries that made us think that way about ourselves in the first place.

What are some things you do to get yourself out of feeling lonely? What has worked really well for you? Share your advice in the comments-

On Valentine’s day

 For those that don’t care about this holiday, but kind of do

By Jessica Militello

On Valentine’s day, if you’re in a loving, happy relationship that consists of the things you want and deserve, then good for you. If you’re single and it bothers you a little bit on Valentine’s day, that doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t love yourself enough or that you’re trying to fill a void.

Wanting a loving, meaningful relationship doesn’t make you broken or needy, it means you are human and have blood pumping through your veins. That feeling only becomes problematic when you believe that you NEED a romantic relationship in order to feel complete, and/or you settle for less through dating people who you know are not good for you, talking to exes who have hurt you, or settling for hookups because of a scarcity mentality when what you truly want is a loving, committed relationship.

I will also say that this particular Valentine’s day is probably one where I feel most loved, fulfilled, and good about myself and I’m not in a relationship with anyone. In the past, some of my saddest and most loneliest Valentine’s were the ones where I was settling for some non-committed “situation,” purposely getting ignored completely on v-day because we were just “having fun,” or the valentine’s where I was in a committed relationship with the completely wrong person who had some bullshit excuse about refusing to celebrate a “made-up holiday” because at that time in my life it was more important to me to feel chosen by someone, anyone, even in pieces and crumbs than to wait out a few seasons of loneliness in order to wait for the right person for me. And yes, those shitty relationships were in fact because the relationship I had with myself at that time was also shit, complete with little self-worth and even less boundaries.

And sometimes it takes being in these wrong relationships and getting your heart obliterated to finally learn that the things you are looking for in someone else are within you all along. That is why even when I settled for less, got my heart broken into a million pieces, and went through pain, it was all for a purpose because it finally led me to myself.

So- if you are single on Valentine’s day that’s okay, if you wish you weren’t, that’s okay too. Let yourself be where you are. And when that feeling passes write a list of all the things you feel like you would get from a relationship- can you get any of those things from yourself, from meaningful relationships with others like friends and family? Also remember that feelings come and go and loneliness passes. Don’t let your loneliness make you seek out people who cannot love you, or settle for less than what you truly want.

Start with one corner

Feeling overwhelmed lately? Here’s how to get out of that feeling

By Jessica Militello

There was something about this week; maybe the week starting with a massive snowstorm, the cold, dull winter sky, the never-ending pandemic, and the general sense of not wanting to deal with any of it. By mid-week I started feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, stuck, and hopeless. By the time I allowed this barrage of thoughts to get me feeling stuck in a corner with no way out, I realized I had way too much damn clutter going on. When we start to have one bad feeling, we can tend to let it get the best of us and let it multiply, and we end up with a list of all the things we don’t have, the people who aren’t there, and the things we haven’t accomplished, and start to attach these external things to why we feel unhappy in the moment when it’s ourselves who are doing that for us. No wonder I felt so helpless. I knew this feeling of frustration was definitely not something I wanted to sit with for too long.

So I thought of my conversation the other day with Mary Cornetta from Sort and Sweet and something she mentioned; “Start with one corner.” I decided to take her amazing advice and break things down into smaller steps; mentally I was standing in a proverbial version of the cluttered garage that she mentioned, not even knowing where to start. So instead of thinking of everything at once, I simplified it to one thing at a time so I could start moving. What is one thing I can do today? Make myself breakfast-check. Do my laundry-okay done. Compile a list of article ideas for the guest blogging I’m doing for a martial arts site-complete.; you get the idea here. And gradually, the feeling of frustration lessened. I may not be exactly where I want to be- but I think I need to first make myself something to eat and get my laundry finished so I have something to wear, right? After that, I realized I needed to make a list of what it is that I truly want, because I never want to feel like my happiness is with anyone else or anywhere else but right where I am.

What are simple things you can start doing for yourself to get out of your own clutter? Break it down into smaller steps. Make a list of what you can do, save the rest for later. Have you had any similar feelings lately? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Decluttering your mind

Sort and Sweet’s founder Mary Cornetta tells us how to get organized

By Jessica Militello

Since part of my niche is getting past doubts and unhealthy thought patterns in order to achieve peace within yourself and pursue what truly makes you happy, I knew I wanted to have a chat with Mary Cornetta, the founder of Sort and Sweet, a professional organizing and decluttering brand. While the brand is focused on home and office space, I had a feeling the process of decluttering your mind in order to start out on a dream or new habits would be similar. We talked about clearing out those unnecessary doubts, getting organized, and breaking down goals into smaller steps in order to achieve the life you truly want and deserve.

 JM: Tell me about your brand Sort and Sweet and the art of organizing.

MC: I started Sort and Sweet in 2017 after about a decade of wanting to be a professional organizer. I graduated college in 2007 and I went to a NAPO meeting, (National Association of Professional organizers.), so at 20-something years old, I decided I wanted to be an organizer. I thought that it was something I could make a career out of, and interestingly enough, I talked myself out of it. I had a lot of mental clutter; I decided I was too young, I wasn’t smart enough. I didn’t have the startup funds to start my own business, I wouldn’t know what I was doing, I didn’t go to business school, all of that. So I waited, I worked a ton of other different types of jobs, and then in 2017, finally I decided, I couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted to be an organizer. I had worked for other organizers, I dabbled in it, I did it for myself, for friends, and family, so I finally just ripped the band-aid off and decided I was good enough, I was smart enough, and I can absolutely do this on my own. About a year later, I met my now business partner Margaret, who I met working for another organizer years prior, we lost touch, and long story short, she became co-owner of Sort and Sweet and we’ve evolved since she officially came on board in January 2019. Primarily we work with the physical side of things, I know you and I are going to talk about the mental side a little bit here, but it’s all tied together.

Sort and Sweet founder Mary Cornetta photo credit: instagram.com/maryccornetta

JM: I really like that you mentioned when you first thought of starting your own business, all those initial doubts came up. And for a lot of people, I think that’s kind of like the start and end sometimes, like they’ll get a really great idea and then all of a sudden, get hit with an avalanche of doubts. How can someone sort through that to get started?

MC: That’s a great question. So it obviously took me a decade to get to that point, and I think when it boiled down to it, the situation that I was in, which was-working for somebody else, not being happy, not being paid my worth, feeling like I was just not living my purpose. And my soul was kind of getting crushed a little bit more every day making the same exact commute every day, it really started to kill me. So my fear became smaller than my pain of being in the situation that I was in, and my frustration and all that. So maybe a better way to put it is my desire to get out of my situation and to work for myself and to live my passion overcame my fear of, “what if I’m not good enough, what if I fail?” That was the changing point for me, when I decided that life is too short and that I needed to go after what made me happy. I knew I had a gift to give to people and when you start thinking about the person that you can help with your gift, versus how scared you are, that also shifts the focus too. It helps you to start to get the confidence to move forward because it absolutely is overwhelming.

JM: And one thing I remember that you’ve told me which was really helpful was getting a part-time job in the beginning while you started your business-so how did you transition from corporate life to self-employed?

MC: I didn’t rush into things, I did leave my corporate 9 to 5 job, but instead of just leaving that with no other means of income, I was able to find, fortunately, a part time job that was very flexible, so I worked it around the business as it was growing. And then when the time came, where I had replaced my income with my business, that’s when I left the part time job, and I’ve been doing it full time ever since. I worked in pharmaceuticals, absolutely unrelated to what I was doing, but it didn’t matter because it paid my bills. And as long as I got my numbers in at the end of the week, my manager didn’t care what days or hours I worked. It was something that I manifested, and I have to point that out. I wrote it down, like everything else in my life. I wrote that I wanted a part time job that pays me X amount of money that is flexible. But you have to be organized to do that. Mentally, you have to be able to switch hats, especially if you’re in a completely different field, like pharmaceuticals and organizing. And because this is leading into the time aspect of things, you have less time. So the more organized you are, in order to physically tackle having less time, that’s super important.

JM: What was a useful first step in getting organized and approaching something like starting a business?

MC: When I decided to start the business, I did things very slow and very meticulous. I made a list of everything I needed. I sort of reverse engineered it, where I thought okay, what is my end result? How do I get one paying client? I need to have a bank account set up, so I have to get a DBA or an EIN number, something that I can give to the bank to open up the account. I need to have a website in order to market [the brand], so I just back pedaled and I wrote down every single thing that I needed to do to get this business up and running. I didn’t have any help, I essentially just googled everything and I asked around, I got referrals, so I did have help in that sense. I wrote down the steps so I could see them, which I think helps a lot of people whenever you have mental clutter, to see in black and white exactly what you need.

photo credit: instagram.com/maryccornetta

JM: When we’re thinking of the whole picture, and we’re already six steps ahead of ourselves, writing it out is such a small and easy thing. And I like how before you were mentioning, like breaking it down into simple steps, like getting one paying client, that makes it so much less overwhelming.

MC: Physical organizing and mental organizing are different, in a sense, but it is the same process. So when I walk into a home that has a ton of clutter and I go into the garage and it’s a hot mess, I could very easily be like, hell no, I don’t even know where to start. Back in the day, I used to be like that, and I’ve trained myself and now my clients work on this too, where we start with one corner, and when that’s done, then we move on to the next one. It’s very similar with our brains, rather than looking at, okay, I have zero business to I want a successful booming business, there’s a ton of things that are super overwhelming in between, so let’s just break it down into one thing that we need to focus on. I write a lot down, I also just get rid of things when I’m done with them, like when I’m done with a notebook, unless there’s something in there that I absolutely need to refer back to, I will most likely either take a picture of it, or I will transcribe it into my Google Drive, and get rid of the notebooks. From a mental standpoint, it’s just acknowledging when we have mental clutter. I worked with a life coach before I started the business, because I realized how much mental clutter I had. I needed somebody to help me get rid of it and to put the positive thoughts in my head, because negative thoughts are mental clutter, so I had to acknowledge first that I had a lot of it, and I was lacking confidence to start this business. There are ways that you can do it yourself, by acknowledging that you have the mental clutter to begin with, catching yourself saying things. Once you start recognizing that pattern of negative thoughts and catching yourself, there’s a lot of different ways [to work on it], but once you acknowledge it, it becomes so much easier to get rid of, but you have to admit it first.  

JM: I think even with the act of having clutter in your room or office, that’s like a mental process in itself and that’s why I think it’s similar to the mental clutter and what you were saying about stopping it in its tracks so it doesn’t become a habit.

MC: Yeah- you want to stop it at its source. I’m going to say a couple of things now that hopefully will be big light bulbs. Number one, physical clutter is an external representation of internal clutter. So a lot of times when we have chaos internally, it shows- the sink is filled with dishes, the laundry is piled up, countertops get piled up, because we’ve got a lot going on. And another very important component of clutter; it’s not just physical, it’s not just mental-we clutter up our calendars by over scheduling ourselves. And I think, post-COVID it’s a little bit different. I definitely know for myself, I slowed down despite going back to work full time. Once quarantine was over, it just wasn’t the same as it was before, and that’s not a bad thing. But a lot of times we let clutter pile up because we’re just go-go-go all the time and we overstuff our calendar. The clutter is basically unnecessary shit; the physical is unnecessary stuff in your house that you don’t need, and the mental is unnecessary thoughts and emotions that are taking over your brain and body that you do not need.

photo credit: instagram.com/maryccornetta

JM: Sometimes people will say they don’t have time or it’s too late, but do you think that is just like clutter and what advice could you give to those people?

MC: When it comes to not having enough time, or someone feeling like it’s too late for them to go ahead and to start living their dream life, I’m going to be blunt, it’s just an excuse. Everybody has the same exact 24 hours and it really only means that you don’t want it bad enough. But some people don’t necessarily realize how badly they want something because they’re so crowded with the clutter of their day to day lives and they don’t know their “why.” It’s hard for them to get out of their every day, clutter and stressful schedules to actually sit back and picture what their lives would be like on the other side. And there’s nothing wrong with admitting that you don’t want something bad enough. But you have to stop saying you want something and not do anything about it because that means you don’t want it. So by writing down your “why” and really scheduling time out to picture what you want and why you want it, it’ll help you realize how badly you want it.

photo credit: instagram.com/maryccornetta

To find out more about Sort and Sweet go to- sortandsweetny.com  or find them on Instagram- Instagram.com/sortandsweet 

Instagram.com/maryccornetta

Follow your passion

artwork credit: MENYU

“There’s always going to be a reason to create [..] Just because the world stopped in the way it has for now, it doesn’t mean that our creativity has to stop as well.”- Rick Quintana

By Jessica Militello

Ricky Quintana who fittingly goes by the artist name MENYU is an English teacher, father, and husband by day, while at night, he delves into his creative mind to form another piece of expression through his mediums as DJ, singer, songwriter, producer, poet, and beatboxer. He is constantly creating and putting out new projects and I was interested in learning more about his mindset in how he comes up with ideas and what keeps him inspired. He recently released the Dali Moon, which he considers some of his most honest and vulnerable songs yet. I spoke to Quintana about the inspiration behind his work as well as what inspires him and what keeps him creating no matter what.

JM: What is the Dali Moon?

RQ: So normally, when I do any facet of art, I go by MENYU, but Dali Moon is a totally different representation of another side of me. It’s the vulnerable side that deals with my personal issues stemming from my childhood, to present day life, to my worry of the future. So it’s kind of my true other personality that I have never shown to anyone else outside of my own personal realm, which is the reason why it’s called Dali Moon. It consists of two characters known as Salvador soul and Moon Sin.

JM: And were other musicians also involved for this project?

RQ: It’s originally just me; I composed and created everything, the vocals, I wrote all the songs, the original song lyrics are mine. But when I create the music, it is no longer me, it’s these two, different personalities that have existed inside of me that were created by trauma, disorder, anxiety, hurt, betrayal, depression, and anger. These characters that we create subconsciously, are the ones who are coming out through my music. As a poet we have a tendency to write how we feel, some people have a diary. This is, in a sense, my diary, but it’s hard for me to talk about it so these personas that exist inside of me are the ones who are speaking my past, present and my reality.

JM: Do you feel with the pandemic creating more time to sit with ourselves, that it inspired this kind of really honest writing?

RQ: Yes, it was definitely a huge inspiration for me. I can’t function unless I am artistically productive. But being in this pandemic, it’s hard for us to really function the way we normally have, and the nighttime has always been the worst for me, ever since I was a little kid. So because of that, I was always in my thoughts and my anxiety kicks in. And there were times where I would write poetry, or come up with music, I’d produce a song here and there. Some of my best songs that I’ve produced throughout the years have been done at 2, 3 in the morning. But this is an entirely different mindset for me where I’m thinking about my future, relationships of the past, my present relationship, insecurities, my age, and health. I started thinking about my past with my family, I lost both my parents and I had a really tough childhood. That sounds cliche, I think everybody has suffered a severe childhood in one way or another. And with all of that, I started feeling like an overpoured glass of milk, you don’t know when to stop, and it just overflows and now it’s just this huge ass mess all over the table. So I knew I wanted to create music, I wanted to do something different. Instead of writing about my problems and my vulnerabilities, I’d rather just do it in a different way that expresses who I really am.

JM: Do you think when people hear these songs it could be cathartic for them to hear someone else being really honest about what they’re going through?

RQ: That’s a very good question, so the album doesn’t have a title. The title is just two eyes, like when we used to type emojis on a Blackberry back in the day, and the reason why I named it that is because I want the music to be a reflection of whatever way you take it. The title can say so much, but sometimes symbols say so much more. Even with the logo, it’s a crescent moon and Salvador Dali’s mustache. I’m a huge Dali fan and he’s so out there, but his stuff is so surreal. So that’s my music, it may sound confusing, it may seem a little uncomfortable with some parts, especially with the first song, “OCD,” but it’s open to interpretation. People can ask me what the song was about, or they can just take it in and interpret it in their own way and absorb it in a way that might relate to them. Which is the reason why it’s titled the way it is, so it’s your perception of the album.

artwork for the Dali Moon-artwork credit: MENYU

JM: For artists who may be newer or unsure of what to do with the stuff they are creating or how to even begin to get some sort of following of their work, what advice can you give?

RQ: So there’s always a following and that’s one thing that artists should understand, not to feel hopeless, because there’s always going to be a group of people who are looking for your exact expression. Nowadays, we’re so drowned by this ocean of simplicity and repetition, but if you put a hashtag that is representative and reflective of your craft, that’s who is going to appreciate your artistry. Tik Tok obviously is one of the top three most popular social media platforms now. Also, if you really want to boost your platform, look up artists that are in the same category. I consider myself to be like new wave or new wave experimental, electro, so what I’ll do is, I will look for people who follow that hashtag, who might have a large following and believe it or not, with little comments, you know, people pay attention. And last is the consistency, we have to be consistent.

JM: When it comes to releasing new work, how do you make decisions of what you put out and the order in which you release new projects?

RQ: I’m very goal oriented and it’s also the experience that I have, so I start off wherever I’m starting, you know. Even when I wrote my second book of poetry, it was not an intention. My goal was not to write a second book, but I started posting poems. And without even realizing it, I had about 25 poems, so I decided to write another book. But while I was creating the album, I was writing some other songs that I really enjoyed, but I didn’t want to rush to post them because they didn’t sound good just as instrumentals, they needed the vocals. And I think with real artists, and I’m writing ‘real’ in bold letters, real artists don’t rush anything. That’s why there’s no relevance to Soulja Boy or [Tekashi] 69, because everything is rushed. That’s why you haven’t heard Kendrick Lamar drop anything recently because artists take their time, because they’re going for greatness. So once I started recording the songs, and they were longer, and I needed vocals, I already had a plan to release an album.

JM: What about those who feel frustrated or hindered by the pandemic and its restrictions?

RQ: My advice is that there’s always a way to create and there’s always going to be a reason to create. This pandemic should not be a reason why you have to stop. Just because the world stopped in the way it has for now, it doesn’t mean that our creativity has to stop as well. We’re still going to be thinking about the obstacles in our lives and inspirations, and just because we might not be playing shows the way we used to, it doesn’t mean that we can’t still cater to our audience. So the pandemic is, you know, obviously, everybody’s struggling; I lost a lot of gigs. I was supposed to DJ a gig in the Dominican Republic, and the week we were shut down was the week I was supposed to leave, so I lost thousands of dollars from DJing alone. It’s a struggle, but it shouldn’t stop us from creating and finding a new platform.

JM: Where is Dali Moon available to listen to?

RQ: It’s on Spotify, Amazon music, YouTube, SoundCloud, iTunes, Apple Music, Tik Tok, and Instagram.

JM: Is there anything else that you want to mention that I didn’t ask?

RQ: I will say one more thing; I think that it’s important to be original. Just because you want to get some sort of notoriety or fan base, you follow what you think is poppin’ right now, but that’s not going to last and I guarantee you’re not going to last. It’s just artificially flavored fake sugar as art, so you always have to be sugar in the raw.

Follow MENYU at Instagram.com/DJMENYU and find more of his work at Instagram.com/thedalimoon and DJMENYU.com

His new album Dali Moon is available on all listening platforms

Presenting The Dali Moon artwork credit-MENYU

How do you start a lash company and make it successful?

photo credit: instagram.com/ashlashofficial

Q&A with Ashlyn Coco, the owner and creator of AshLash

By Jessica Militello

AshLash is an online lash company based in California that was started in 2017 by entrepreneur, model, creative, and ultimate Hollywood glamour queen, Ashlyn Coco. I first discovered her lashes via Instagram at some point in 2018. I remember scrolling through the feed and seeing images of the golden era of Hollywood and its glamorous women, the color pink, Lana Del Rey quotes scattered throughout many of the captions, and lashes that seemed to perfectly compliment its wearers each and every time. I was always fascinated and inspired by how someone would even go about starting their own line. Ashlyn was kind enough to take the time to answer my questions via email on what inspired her and how she used her dreams, passion, hard work, and tons of research in order to create her dream lash brand.

JM: Where did you first get the inspiration to start a lash brand?

AC: I got the inspiration to develop a lash brand based on the fact that what I truly wanted in a lash was not available on the current market. In the many years of wearing lashes I felt that they were either too heavy, too itchy, or not quite cut how I would want them – or a combination of all! I also felt packaging was really lacking. Like most, I’m a sucker for presentation, and thought how wonderful it would be to create a box that evoked my style, and something I could carry my lashes in. I was always losing my lashes, forcing me to buy them more often. Any of the ones I was using, I usually wore about three times, then discarded. This was another thing that made me wonder if I could create a brand with all the things I really wanted for myself, and probably many others!

JM: Do you own AshLash by yourself?

AC: I began as a sole proprietor. To my surprise, there was interest from a few people to invest in my idea. I was fortunate to get to work with others who I still think of as my close friends, and mentors, who helped me really bring my brand into the public eye! I currently own AshLash.

JM: I love how your aesthetic combines old Hollywood glamour, pin-up girls, movie stars, and current singers who’ve subscribed to that vibe like Lana Del Rey- what inspired you to market your brand this way?

AC: I had no idea that there were so many people like me, and that there was such a community based on a certain “aesthetic.” I noticed this style was gaining traction on Instagram throughout different subcultures/fandoms. I just sort of created my brand based on an amalgam of all things I loved personally, and it seemed to capture so many different people, coming from different interests! 

JM: When did you first become interested in the old films, movie stars, etc.-and how has it shaped your opinions on beauty?

AC: I love this because the memories are so vivid. I spent a lot of time growing up in upstate New York, around my traditional Italian family. All of the houses I spent time in were built in the early 20th century, and the old music was always playing. My uncles had old Playboys, pin-up magazines, and just about any vintage memorabilia in the basements. I loved that nostalgic feeling, even before I really knew what that was.  I think my family just kept it “old school” automatically, as if nothing had changed, so it was all I knew!

AshLash founder Ashlyn Coco-photo credit: instagram.com/ashlashofficial

JM: What is your background before AshLash?

AC: Anything artistic! I went to cosmetology school as a teen, but realized I wanted to do a little bit more. I also loved fashion, creating, and designing new ideas/products. I began my own swimwear line with my Dad many moons ago!

JM: How do you choose the names and styles of your lashes?

AC: For some, I thought of people who inspired me, and tried to tie it to a modern take on a lash that they would wear today. For others, I thought of “looks” I would want to create and based the names on vibes/ matching aesthetics I wanted the lash to imbue.

photo credit: instagram.com/ashlashofficial

JM: Why was it important for your lashes to be vegan faux mink?

AC: When I began all my research and sampling process, I really learned a lot about the materials and where things come from, if not synthetic. Personally, the mink lashes on the market were beautiful yes, but very heavy and not so comfortable, which went against what I had originally set out to create – a comfortable lash. I had done more research on the confusing “cruelty-free, mink lashes,” and realized that there was indeed cruelty behind it. Of course, I didn’t think it was ethical to use animal products for vanity.  I understood why people wanted mink based on the natural curl, and appearance, but it inspired me to find that with a synthetic lash.

JM: How much research and networking are involved in starting a beauty brand?

AC: SO much. The process is very hard, but if you learn from the ground up on your own, through trial and error, nothing is more valuable! Being self-taught is very important, and things will continue to happen if you find the right people and mentors.

JM: How did you know where to get started or what the first step was to begin a lash company?

AC: I did have a little experience from creating brands before. Dreaming up the branding is the fun part but taking it to paper is another thing. Sourcing was an important first step, because moving forward with a superior product is first and foremost!

JM: What are your memories of when you first started promoting the brand and trying to build a client base?

AC: I think that because I already had a little Instagram community of people with similar interests, it was definitely a head start on targeting my client base. I remember being nervous, but also very excited that I could finally give someone a new glamorous option for their beauty routine. I knew our packaging was unique, and I remember having fun photographing the little powder boxes (we have patented!) 

AshLash’s patented boxes! photo credit: instagram.com/ashlashofficial

JM: How did you know which lash manufacturer was best for you and what was that process in finding one like?

AC: This was extremely hard. The US currently does not have any infrastructure or factories to create lashes, making all false lashes imported. I began by testing, testing, testing. A lot of lashes are very bad quality. They may look beautiful, but the durability and feel in real life is crucial for quality. My manufacturer is wonderful because they have really taken my sketches to life and created what I had hoped for in not only the lash itself, but also the packaging. I went through hundreds of samples, different materials, making methods, and sketches back and forth, with many different companies.

JM: Did you have any doubts or worries about starting a brand and having success-what inspiration did you go to in order to overcome it?

AC: Always! I worry constantly, haha. Mainly because I get overwhelmed with ideas, and have a hard time figuring out what to move forward with, and failing. There is never a crystal ball, so you have to take the chance and see how it goes. Starting small is a good thing, and if it’s a small investment with your time or money – then start! Ensconce yourself in learning on your own, every single day. In this case, I would definitely say my Dad inspired me to overcome any obstacle, or excuse not to start. 

JM:  Do you think social media has been your most effective method for spreading the word and building a client base?

AC: Yes! This was how the brand probably captured most of its fanbase, over anything else.

JM: Has the pandemic had an effect on your business in any way, if yes-what ideas have you come up with in adaptation to it?

AC: In a way, but not how you would think. People might want to be more frugal in these uncertain times, or some may want to create from home, and want to splurge on beauty products. My idea might seem very odd in response, but with the state of the world, I have felt it a little difficult to promote products as often. We are always around and running though! 

JM: For 2021, are there already some new lash styles and other accessories in the works to come out? 

AC: So glad you asked, as we’re quietly working on a collaboration due in time for V-day. Can’t wait for you to see what it is! ❤

photo credit: instagram.com/ashlashofficial

Check out AshLash on Instagram at @Ashlashofficial or go to the website to add some glamour in your life at www.ash-lash.com

Inspiring and fun interviews coming soon!

By Jessica Militello

When I first started extraeclectic, I wasn’t exactly sure if the site would only include self-improvement editorial types of articles, or if I would also include feature articles and Q&A’s, similar to my published work. Mostly the reason that I was unsure of doing this was because I was afraid that if I was reaching out to different people, business owners, etc. to interview them that because it was going on my own website and not a publication that perhaps it wouldn’t be worth their time.

As a freelance writer of around two years, I was also afraid that by doing feature articles to publish on my own site, that somehow, because my site is fairly new, does not have a ton of traffic (yet), and I’m still in the progress phase of growing my site through traffic and eventually advertisers, that I was a failure to be doing the same work for free that I am used to getting paid for. But if you notice, many of the things that I just mentioned all involve worries, doubts, and negative self-talk which are normal to have and that is okay. What is not okay is allowing those fears to be a reason to not do something that I believe in. With continued dedication, consistency, and research, I do believe my dream of creating a supportive community on my site and helping to inspire others to pursue their dreams can gain traction-but it will not be an overnight thing.

Needless to say, so far 2021 isn’t exactly much different from 2020. And no one really knows exactly when life will go back to “normal,” as we keep talking about since last March. I decided that perhaps now is as good a time as any to put into practice the same thing that I try to inspire people to do when I write articles on whoever I find is pursuing their dream.

And so, most recently I have been speaking different individuals, artists, business owners, anyone that I think has a really interesting story to inspire, help, entertain, and share great information and advice for readers to be informed and inspired to pursue their passion. I can’t wait to share these with you!

What is something you want to do, but feel afraid to try? How did it feel when there was something that you kept putting to the side and when you finally gave it a try? Tell me your experiences in the comments!

Do people treat you how they feel about you?

Do others really show you how much they value you?

By Jessica Militello

I see a lot of quotes floating around social media like, “how they treat you is how they feel about you,” “how much effort they put in is how valuable you are to them,” “you teach people how valuable you are,” and another one that floats around to the effect of, “I’ve seen people who can’t communicate/commit/ whatever for one and do it for another” and once again corelate it to how “valuable” they find you or how “serious” they are about you, and I am here to tell you that this one-dimensional, black and white thinking could not be further from the truth.

Additionally, what is all of this focus on what other people think of you or how much they value you and why do you give a fuck? What do you think of you? How much do you value yourself, because when you think highly of yourself and know your worth and intrinsic value, and when you carefully curate your own thoughts and the people who you allow in your life you will be more focused on whether how they are treating you is meeting your standards, and if they don’t-no sweat, because you know what you want and deserve for your life, and you treat yourself so well that when someone doesn’t measure up there is no wondering of why and how much they really value you. There are no questions period because you value yourself so much that you will not accept behavior that is less than the way you treat and talk to yourself.

Pay more attention to how you feel about you because when you look to others and whether they value you to determine how you should feel about yourself, your cup will always be empty. You will always be waiting for someone, anyone to give you just a drop to roll around in your cup-it will always be empty. Know your value, know your worth-because when you feel good about you, I can guarantee-the people that add to that feeling will be in your life, and the people who drain you and make you question yourself will not even be allowed in your life to begin with. Even if that means being lonely for a while until you find your people, it will be worth it because you know what you deserve.

And as a second point to the whole theory of how others treat you and what it means-change happens on a scale of 5 steps-I actually wrote about it in another article. A person, job, popularity, whatever, can not magically make a person go through the five steps of change especially if it involves undoing a behavior or thought pattern that they have been carrying with them for most of their life.

People don’t wake up one day and magically change-change is fucking hard and is a constant commitment. An individual must first observe patterns and behaviors in themselves that are problematic and constantly work on improvement. Another person’s kindness, beauty, success is not a magic wand to create a complete personality transplant in another. People treat you how they feel about themselves. Another person cannot value you if they don’t even value themselves.

Have you ever been that relative/friend/girlfriend/spouse, who was super loyal, loving, and kind to another and no matter how much you gave it was never enough? Yes? Have you also ever in your life had a relative/friend/spouse, whatever at a time in your life when you did not have a good relationship with yourself and no matter what they did or how much they cared it was never enough? And was it ever because THEY were the ones that didn’t have value? No-of course not-maybe you were too guarded, too immature, or were just not introspective enough with yourself to appreciate it or value it. Maybe someone was so good to you but because you felt so badly about yourself you just couldn’t believe it and you questioned every kind word and gesture and pushed them away only to later regret it.

Let’s face it-we’ve all been on both sides of it, but if you think about it objectively it was never because you or they did not have value or because you were not worth the effort-what did it all have to do with? Your thoughts and your relationship with yourself.

Trust me, I have lived in the prison of gauging my value with how others have treated me-it was draining. I held on to unhealthy friendships and relationships that weren’t even meeting my needs but I put them over myself because I did not have any self-worth. If I dated someone and they treated me like gold in the beginning only for the effort and kindness to diminish, I blamed myself or worried that they somehow discovered the “big secret” that I was not worthy of love. Instead of folding, I only tried harder. It makes me sad to think of how hard I would try because I could not see myself clearly. But I am also grateful for it all because had I not gotten to the point of getting hurt over and over because of my lack of self-worth, I would have never learned that there was a different way that involves healing myself and giving myself all of the things that I have spent my life looking outwardly for the answers.

It sounds corny and a little cliché, but everything you’re looking for is already within you. You just have to clear out the bullshit you’ve been taught your whole life about your worthiness and stop looking to others to how valuable you are or why you supposedly weren’t “worth” their time.

You are worthy, you are valuable-but the only person you need to prove that to is yourself, otherwise you wouldn’t be looking at others to tell you what you’re worth; no one can do that for you, only you can.

What are some beliefs that you are holding onto about yourself? How are these ideas serving you, how are they holding you back? What would it look like if you always had your back? How can you give yourself some of the things that you are looking for in others? Share some of your thoughts in the comments.