Happy Thanksgiving: A Message of Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving: A Message of Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving can be stressful.  There’s holiday traffic, fear of burning the turkey, and of course, praying for the entire day that no two family members end up in a screaming battle.  However, despite all the stress and the negatives that come along with the day, I see it as an opportunity for positivity: in the moments of panic, take a breath and think less of what bad could happen and instead of what good things you had.

I know, sometimes, thinking of the positives isn’t easy but we are all so blessed.  Let’s take one day to think in terms of gratitude instead of anxiety.

I want to share with you all just a few of the things I am so thankful for this Thanksgiving.

 

  • The response to this blog.  I started this blog with no real expectations.  I had no idea if anyone would want to hear my self-care journey, but I felt like I would be an injustice to myself if I didn’t try to tell my story.  The response has been greater than I could have ever imagined. I have been so blessed to have so many of you reach out and tell me how I am impacting your lives and that means the world to me.  I could not be more grateful this Thanksgiving for all you have given me.
  • My support system.  This year has involved making so many hard decisions and just going through the general ups-and-downs of life.  I can say I would not have gotten through those moments without the people I am blessed to call my friends, my family, and my support system.  They pick me up when I’m down. They encourage me to take risks and follow my heart. They are so so special to me.
  • My opportunities. This year may have been a difficult one, at times, but it’s also been my most exciting.  I have gotten to work with two amazing companies in D.C. as an intern, I got to move to Disney World, and I’ve gotten to explore so much by being in leadership for my extracurriculars.  All of my development this year has come from being able to pursue these opportunities and I feel so blessed to have had these chances in my life.
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Disney World, Spring 2018.
  • My homes.  I’ve written on the blog before about feeling like I have multiple places I call home and belong in.  While this can be difficult at times, it is also such a blessing in my life. I close my eyes and I can see three places I truly and distinctly belong: DC, Orlando, and New York.  This is hard, as I always am missing somewhere, but I am so happy to be grounded in these three amazing places.
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There is nothing like coming home to a puppy.
  • My growth.  This one piece of gratitude is probably the most personal of all.  Over the last year, I have grown so much as a person. I have found an inner-strength I did not know I had.  I have grown in my beliefs, my values, and my abilities. I am thankful for all a year can do for a person.

 

I wish in this post I could spend time saying the name of every person I am grateful for, but if I did that, the post would go on for days.  If we stop to think about all the wonderful people in our lives and the little things they do for us, we will be amazed by how much we have to be thankful for.

Today, I will be taking time to sit down and send out some personal messages of gratitude to those whom I am thankful for this season.  I want to give some of the positivity that has been brought into my life back to others.

This Thanksgiving, don’t let the negatives overwhelm you.  Take the time to be grateful and appreciate your life’s blessing.  Let today’s holiday be ruled by positivity.

 

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A Trip into My Kitchen: Sharing My Favorite Recipes

A Trip into My Kitchen: Sharing My Favorite Recipes

My childhood home was always full of the most wonderful smells.  In the morning, I’d often be awoken to the aroma of fresh chocolate-chip pancakes or French Toast.  After school, I’d often walk into my house to the sweet smell of my mom’s special apple cake in the oven.  At night, I cherished catching a whiff of my mom’s homemade tomato sauce bubbling on the stove top.

When I got to college, I missed these familiar smells and the conversations I would have with my mom in the kitchen.  Cooking became a comfort to me– it was my connection to the home I was away from. As it connected me to my home, it also made wherever in the world I was start to feel like a home.  If I could sit down with a home-cooked meal in front of me, it felt like I could belong there.

Today, I’m sharing an altered version of my mom’s chicken parmesan, which I call chicken parm tenders.  

Ingredient List for Chicken:

1 cup of flour

1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce (I use Trader Joe’s three cheese pomodoro sauce)

1 beaten egg

2 chicken tenderloins (not breaded)

1 cup of Panko bread crumbs (I use bread crumbs with Italian seasoning)

½ cup of shredded mozzarella

Cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  2. Place your flour, egg, and bread crumbs in three separate bowls next to each other.  Take each piece of chicken and first put it in flour, then the egg, and finally the bread crumbs.
  3. Once your chicken has been breaded, spray a frying pan with cooking spray and set the pan to medium-high heat.  Fry both your pieces of chicken until golden brown and you can see that they are cooked through.
  4. Place your pan-fried chicken onto a tray and spoon tomato sauce onto the pieces of chicken so you are covering the entire top of the chicken.
  5. Top with shredded mozzarella– you can put on as much or as little as you want.
  6. Bake your chicken for 5-7 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
  7. Serve with your favorite side.

I served my chicken parmesan with my favorite simple pasta dish which I call parmesan pasta.  It’s light while still being filling and takes no longer than thirty minutes to make.

Ingredients:

1 cup of your favorite pasta shape (I used linguine)

1 cup of parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon of Olive Oil

¼ teaspoon of garlic powder

¼ teaspoon of ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Boil your pasta.
  2. Set your heat to medium-high and drizzle a frying pan with your olive oil and add your cooked pasta to the pan.  Move the pasta around so all of it is covered by the olive oil.
  3. Add your garlic powder and ground pepper.
  4. Add a touch of your parmesan and stir through.
  5. Gradually, add more parmesan, stirring through each time.  Your goal is to get the pasta slightly crispy.
  6. Once you have the pasta at your desired crispy level, serve.

I hope you enjoy these recipes that have helped me feel at home no matter where I am.  They may not be my mom’s amazing recipes, but they are great quick meals that will be done within forty-five minutes of starting.

Finding Time for “Me Time”

Finding Time for “Me Time”

As we enter the holiday season, the hustle and bustle is exciting, but also can be overwhelming.  It feels like there’s always another task to get done, another person to see, and another place to go.  The constant motion is exhausting. In these days more than ever, it’s important to take time to ourselves.  Call it your designated “me time.”

My designated me time is Friday mornings from 10 AM- 12 PM.  During this time, I have no obligations and am free to do what I want.  Sometimes, I’ll watch a television show I’m behind on. Other times, I’ll read some articles I had saved, but hadn’t had time to read.  Then, there are other mornings, like yesterday, where all I want to do is curl up on my couch with my warm drink and think. And for those two hours, I can do that.

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My me time is not at all extravagant– it’s simple and actually, boring.  But, when I cut those two hours out of my week, everything feels off. I feel more stressed out– like I’m constantly running with no end in sight.  Those two hours a week are what center, calm, and refocus me for the coming week.

It’s time to breathe.

I always repeat that self-care is a journey, with successes and failures.  Finding two hours a week to dedicate just to me has been a huge success. However, I want to emphasize that me time doesn’t look the same for everyone.  For some people, their me time will be a walk around the neighborhood. For others, it might be painting or drawing, while there will also be people who elect for meditation as their me time.  

Me Time is not one size fits all.

It’s a struggle to find what works for you.  I had tried making my me time going to the gym– while I still go to the gym, I didn’t find this was a calming time for me.  I tried making my me time when I journaled, but I still felt crazed. I struggle with meditation and so, it couldn’t be my relaxant.

It was in trying all these different methods though that I realized what I needed from my me time.  I needed no pressure and no obligation. I needed the ability to be quiet and loud, depending on the day.  I just needed free time.

And, when in doubt, I listen to Billy Joel’s Vienna, a song that I mention very often on this blog.

Take the phone off the hook and disappear for a while

 

 

 

Learning to Love the Little Moments

Learning to Love the Little Moments

Life gets so busy sometimes that I think we forget to live.  It feels like we are always jumping from one place to the next and never in the moment itself.  This weekend, I wanted to be different. I wanted to do things without thinking of the next seven-hundred places I had to go.  I wanted to spend time with my friends without feeling stressed. So, when my friend Pippa asked if I would go with her to the Poutinerie by Air Canada on Saturday, you know I said yes immediately.

I will be honest: I really didn’t know what poutine was except that I had seen it on Instagram a couple times.  I had no idea on what I was missing out on. I don’t know how or why I went my life without poutine but I don’t think we’re turning back now.

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While the food was delicious, the most enjoyable part of this spontaneous weekend trip was spending time with my good friend.  We both are obsessed with Christmas and believe it should start as early as possible so, we enjoyed taking winter-photos in this pop-up Canada booth.

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After we had finished with our poutine and our photoshoot, we moved to Philz coffee across the street, where I found my new favorite coffee blend called Philtered Soul, which is a chocolate and hazelnut mix.  We went and spent some time in Dupont Circle, enjoying the crisp air and feeling of Christmas that we both had. It was a wonderful, slow day with a wonderful friend.

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My Sunday started off busier than my Saturday.  I had a midterm on Monday and a list of meetings I had to get to throughout the day.  I craved the ability to just live in the moment like I had the day before, but my best moments came when I took some seconds to breathe.  I spent just fifteen minutes with a friend I don’t see often anymore and even that short time felt like a breath of fresh air in my life.

I studied with a friend and even though we both were stressed, I find that I often never laugh quite as much as I do during a study session.  There’s really no timeline to a study session and in those rough moments of stressful memorization of concepts, there’s a freeness that doesn’t happen all the time.  When I look at the last two years, so many of my happiest moments were while doing homework or studying with friends.

I think we all take these little moments for granted.  We don’t think about how priceless the laughter and smiles are.  We don’t take time to give thanks for having beautiful, wonderful people in our lives.  We are always so busy looking forward to the next event that we miss out on everything. I want to end this weekend round-up with a Chinese proverb.

 

Enjoy yourself.  It’s later than you think.

 

Where I’m Meant to Be

Where I’m Meant to Be

Sometimes, we just feel stuck.  There’s no way around it: we feel like our life has hit a point where nothing is moving.  Maybe, we’ve become complacent and stopped trying or maybe, we keep trying to change things but end up standing in the same place every day anyway.  No matter what, it’s frustrated when you wake up one day, look around, and wonder if this is your life now.

It’s okay to be unsatisfied when you feel stuck, even when you acknowledge that your life is good the way it is.  It’s okay to still be searching for something else. Life is a journey and part of that journey involves accepting that sometimes, we won’t be happy even when we feel we should be.  Listen to yourself and trust your feelings. If you feel you need to travel the world to change your life, then travel. If you are working and feel called to go back to school, do it.  Follow the path you feel you belong on.

This fall, I made one of the hardest decisions I have ever made: I chose not to study abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland, and instead, remain at Georgetown for the spring semester.  Studying abroad has been something I have wanted to do my entire life and I fell in love with the idea of studying European history at the University of Edinburgh. But when I looked at my life, I realized that if I chose to go study abroad, I would, in fact, be stuck.

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It seems that for now, the closest I will get to Scotland is Disney’s UK pavilion.

It sounds crazy: how would going abroad make me more stuck in my life than staying at Georgetown for the semester?  Well, it’s complicated. Last fall, I fell into college stress culture and when the opportunity to go to Disney knocked on my door, I grabbed at it and never looked back.  I will never regret that decision but knowing I was going away for eight months changed the way I looked at things for the rest of my fall semester. Everything felt like it was transient and nothing in my life felt permanent.

When I went to Disney, I often felt like I was living in a dream.  It was all just a break from my own reality. I remember on one of the final days of my program, I said to my roommate that I had loved this program so much but that I needed to get back to my life. I needed to go back to school and back to the organizations I loved.  

I went home to New York for the summer and then back to DC in the fall.  I came back to campus and felt like I had to play catch-up. Everyone’s lives had moved on, while I felt I had hit the pause button on mine.  The first few weeks back were hard– I had missed so much of my friends’ lives and it seemed in some ways, I couldn’t catch back up. Despite my belief that my life had been paused, it hadn’t been.  I had changed and so had my friends. Some of us changed too much to be compatible anymore.

I know: this all sounds like a reason to go abroad.  School was hard and Scotland was another dream of mine.  But, that’s the very reason why I couldn’t go abroad. In six months, I had lived in three different cities, each one being my home now.  Each one felt like I was there, the problems of the others faded away and paused. I could jump from world to world and never feel responsibility in any; in no world did I have real roots set to the ground.  And, not being tied down is nice except for when you long to have one place that when you think of home, you can picture.

If I went to Scotland, it would be four cities in one year.  It would be four different worlds for me to jump between. It would be two years of my life where I never lived in one place for longer than six months.  It would be another pause on my reality. And I knew that if I chose to go abroad, I wouldn’t grow because I would be stuck in my own personal cycle. I needed to try to set down roots for a little while, to make a place I call home.

This story is long, complicated, and hard for me to tell.  Sometimes, we just have to do what we know we need in our life at that moment, even if it’s a hard decision.  We need to think about how we can move our lives forward and keep bettering ourselves. We need to listen to ourselves, no matter how crazy our ideas may be, and follow through with the path we see set forth for us.

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For now, where I’m meant to be is right here in Washington, D.C.
My Fall Favorites

My Fall Favorites

The leaves are falling, the air feels crisp, and the holidays are starting to begin.  It is my favorite season– fall. After having had what feels like an endless summer since January, I am ready for these colder temperatures and cozy vibes.  To celebrate the beginning of fall, I’m sharing my top three fall items and fall activities.

Fall Items

  • A good infinity scarf.  I got my infinity scarf ordering off of Amazon Prime and I am absolutely in love with it.  I love scarves that are pretty but are really cozy and this is one of those.

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  • A chunky chenille blanket.  I love wrapping myself up into what I call a blanket burrito when I come home from class in the fall and this type of blanket is so perfect for that.  This type of blanket is so warm and comfortable and is perfect for staying home and cuddling up with a book (or netflix) and a cup of hot chocolate. My blanket is actually handmade by a wonderful family friend, but I’m linking to a similar blanket that you can find on sale at Pottery Barn right now.

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  • An adorable mug. I have a bit of a problem and it’s that I am absolutely obsessed with mugs.  I can never have too many, but I end up using the same one or two over and over again for my tea, coffee, and hot chocolate.  I’m currently using my Anthropologie Homegrown Monogram Mug from a few years ago, but I am eyeing this home state mug on their website right now.

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Fall Activities

 

  • Exploring the local area.  I think fall weather is the best weather to be outside in and I love going to places I haven’t visited before in the fall.  When I went home to New York a few weeks ago, I went apple picking with my mom and sister and then explored a local fall festival.  This past weekend, my family visited me and we went out to Mount Vernon to visit George Washington’s estate. Everything is prettier in the fall with the leaves falling so I think there is no better time to get to know where you are.

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  • Netflix Binges.  I might be jumping the gun a bit, but I believe Christmas season starts on November 1 so I’m already binging all the best Hallmark Christmas movies.  If you are more traditional in your take on when Christmas begins, then I suggest watching The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. It is such an addicting show and is only ten hours long, so you can easily do that in on a rainy weekend where you don’t quite feel like going out.
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My Friday afternoon Netflix binge feat. my La Croix

 

  • Drinking hot chocolate and tea.  I love iced lattes more than anyone, but in fall, I switch away from my classic drink and move towards hot chocolate and tea.  Recently, I’ve gotten really into grabbing a hot chocolate somewhere on campus and just walking around and enjoying the scenery.  It’s such a nice way to relax and find my center.
Home is Wherever I’m with You

Home is Wherever I’m with You

Have you ever felt alone in a crowded room?  There was just something in you that told you that you didn’t belong here but everyone else did.  If you’ve ever felt that way, you know that it is the most heartbreaking and isolating feeling. You just feel like you don’t belong anywhere.

 

This feeling of belonging is something we constantly are all searching for.  It’s a feeling of love and appreciation and acceptance. It’s feeling like in that moment in time, you are exactly where you need to be.  

 

Sometimes, having multiple friend groups from different parts of our lives can complicate this.  If I belong somewhere, can I still belong where I have been before? Can I belong with my high school friends if I truly belong at Georgetown?

 

Yes.  Each community may love and appreciate us in different ways, but this is so essential for us to be a whole person and to love ourselves.  You can be loved in different ways.

 

Where do I belong?

 

I belong at Georgetown.  The people here are so influential for shaping exactly who I am.  At the newspaper, they push me to grow professionally and to stand strong for what I believe in.  My sorority sisters are a huge aspect of my support system: they cheer and root for me. I belong with people who help and support me to grow.

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Women of The Hoya, Georgetown’s student newspaper.

I belong with my Disney community.  They saw me not for my plans and achievements, but for the love I was willing to give the world.  I belong with people who remind me to show love to the world and remain empathetic, even when I’m scared of being open.  

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Magic Kingdom, April 2018

I belong with my friends from high school debate. These friends have watched me grow from a young and confused teenager to a slightly less confused young adult and have stood by for every phase.  I belong with people who watch me grow and love me anyway.

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Yale Debate tournament, September 2015

I belong with my childhood best friends. They know me for my best and my worst.  They’ve seen my weird phases and even joined in.  I belong with people who don’t judge me, no matter what.

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My 13th birthday, July 2011.

There is not one way to love.  Different people in life will love us in different ways, but each time it is just as valuable and just as important.  That love is a sign that we belong.

 

If you’re reading this and are struggling with feeling like you don’t have a place in this world, please know that isn’t true.  You have so many people who love you and appreciate you and with you belong with. They may not all be located in the same place, but they love and care about you.

 

If you ever feel alone and need someone to talk to you, reach out to me.