I remember clearly the first time I read the Holstee Manifesto. It was a fall evening, around 11 p.m., and I had just come home from a long and draining day at work. As I prepared dinner, I scrolled through my Facebook feed aimlessly, a bad habit I turn to when I’m particularly restless. One friend had posted about a cool new travel film festival (oh hey, Mikey K.) and as I clicked to his page to learn more, it hit me. Boom. Words that I had been desperately needing to read, coming at me one right after the other. “This is your life.” — YES. Why did I just spend 13 hours of it at the office? “Do what you love and do it often.” – Travel. Reading. Yoga. All hobbies that had somehow been replaced with weekend work days and whiskey. “If you don’t like something, change it.” — But how? “If you don’t like your job, quit.” – Ahhhh, that might be one way. “If you don’t have enough time, stop watching TV.” — …or Facebooking. “If you are looking for the love of your life, stop. They will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love.” I was sold. Things didn’t really click, though, until a few months later, on a long journey from New York back home for the holidays, where I finally had time to unplug and reflect. By the time I disembarked, two things were clear: (1) I was miserable and (2) something had to change.  That New Year’s, I made a vow to start pursuing more of my passions, and I also made a resolution to be more conscious in my consumption and decision-making. Springtime was spent taking classes on sustainability, voraciously reading about social enterprise models, blogging about ethical fashion, and planning coffee dates with people I thought could teach me something about this exciting new world of social responsibility I had just discovered. One of those coffee dates led me to the Holstee family, and I have felt humbled, honored, and inspired from the moment I met them. Whether it’s chatting over tea, dining potluck with free-flowing wine, or dancing the night away at Burning Man, their genuine goodness and zest for life are infectious, and it’s clear that they embody the words of the Manifesto in the best way possible. In the next month, I’ll celebrate my 26th birthday and the one-year anniversary of the day I made the difficult decision to leave my job. In the past year, I have rediscovered myself, traveling to nine countries, reading loads and loads of books, and revitalizing my yoga practice. I also spent several months in Cambodia researching artisan social enterprises, started a small ethical fashion business that will launch this summer, and established myself as a freelance writer specializing in subjects that I’m passionate about.  Without a doubt, my exposure to the Manifesto and my time spent with the incredible people behind it have contributed to a whirlwind adventure that is just getting started. My gratitude is too great for words.

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