How I’m Finding Happiness in the Here & Now

How I’m Finding Happiness in the Here & Now

For the past week or so, I’ve been feeling stuck.  My focus has been lacking, my creativity has been nonexistent, and I’ve just not been feeling like myself.  When I’ve been trying to write, I’ve felt a wall go up: I can’t figure out what I’m ready to share about myself and my experiences.  Every time I try to write about my experiences, I lose my words. It’s like a wall goes up within me that stops me from sharing. I haven’t been able to figure out exactly why I’m in this rut right now.

I’ve spent a lot of time recently reflecting and I keep coming back to this point: a year ago, I was preparing to embark on an amazing adventure that would cause huge amounts of growth in me as a person.  For the last year of my life, I have changed locations and routines approximately every four months. I have not settled and now, I’m going back to a routine of sameness and I can’t help but fear that in settling in one spot, I’m not growing enough as a person.  I had a feeling I would go through a struggle this semester, and it’s the very reason I did not study abroad: I need to learn how to be in one place for a while.  

Staying physically in one place and one lifestyle though does not mean my life needs to be boring, mundane, or lack growth.  Today, I realized that staying in one place and having a routine here is giving me the opportunity to do what I haven’t done in a while: pursue things just because they’ll make me happy.  I have been so constantly moving for a year that I haven’t taken time to do things just because. I’ve felt like I had to experience everything all at once because each place I’ve been in, I’ve had a limited time there.  Even over break when I was home in New York, I felt this weird sense of urgency: I had to go to the diner and my favorite coffee shop and to see a Broadway show, because I don’t know when I’ll be back and able to do it all.  Now in DC, I don’t have that urgency and when I push aside my fear of sameness for a moment, it’s almost freeing to be able to prioritize my happiness without feeling like I’m missing out on something.

So, this semester, I’m going to do things for no reason other than that I want to and they will make me happy.  And to be honest, I have no idea what I’m going to do. Maybe, I’ll take that pottery class I’ve always said I was going to take.  Maybe, (when the government opens again), I’ll spend a day reading at the National Portrait Gallery or maybe, I’ll find my way back to an old hobby, like songwriting.  I don’t have to plan it all out perfectly for once. I can just live in the present for a while.

 

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“Everyone has it together except for me” is a myth

“Everyone has it together except for me” is a myth

Sometimes, it feels like everyone has it all together except for you.  Everywhere you look are people who have it all figured out for the next ten years and then, there’s you.  You don’t even know what you’re having for dinner tonight, let alone what’s in your path five years, or even one year down the line.  It feels like the world is spinning too fast and you’re at risk of falling off the planet altogether.

BREATHE. You are not alone in this.  There is nothing wrong with you and I promise you, gravity will not abandon you anytime soon.

Behind the Picture

Often, we assume we know people and their lives better than we actually do.  We forget that we only see what other people want us to see and with that, we miss most of the story.  The girl who has our dream job doesn’t share the tons of interviews she went on before she landed that job.  She doesn’t share her struggle with mental health that affects her daily. She only shares the perfect pictures with the world– the good times, the perfect-fitting suits, and the success.  We assume we know her life, but we don’t see any of it. This is not to say she is not doing well and her successes shouldn’t be celebrated, but rather that it is not all picture perfect. She does not have it all together all the time– she’s just convinced us she does.

Making it Through

Personally, I find there’s something comforting when you take the mask off and see the reality of the world around you: everyone is making it through their own struggles, their own way.  That’s the thing though: everyone is making it through. The Earth hasn’t stopped spinning and people with struggles are not spontaneously combusting. Everyone is fighting through, day-by-day, because that’s life.  Life is not about having the perfect picture, but rather about making it through our struggles, scarred and bruised, and coming out the other side with a smile on our face.

I think life might even want us to embrace our baggage and our wreckage.  It is the moments with no direction that truly determine who we are. It is when nothing is given to us on a silver platter that we find our strength, determination, and path.  We live in a society that so badly wants to stuff our struggles under the carpet, but when we do that, we lose out on showing the world the most beautiful and bright parts of ourselves.  

 

My New Year’s Resolution

My New Year’s Resolution

Every December, I begin to think about New Year’s Resolutions.  I usually find myself at a bit of a cross roads: I never stick to my resolutions, but I want to improve myself and new year’s resolutions seem like a good way to do so.  I tell myself this year will be different than last– this will be the year that I will stick with it. And, sometimes I do well. Last year, I pledged to live healthier and I stuck to it for a large majority of the year.  I aspire to get back to the mindset I had, as it was such a healthy and happy state of being.

Other years, my resolutions have sent me down paths of disaster.  My freshman fall at Georgetown, I struggled and it showed in my grades.  I had always worked hard and had my hard work pay off, but it seemed things would be different in college.  I would need to work harder. Ever the planner, I resolved to improve my life in all areas and I made a literal life plan for myself, with goals for each day, each week, each month, each semester, and each year for the next three and a half years planned out.  These goals included health, academics, extracurriculars, professional development, and social. This life plan did not work out too great, as life did not want to stick to my plan and soon, everything was out of place. I was devastated and after a few tearful meltdowns, I gave up the life plan.

This year, as I think about what my resolution should be or if I should even make any, I keep coming back to one thought.  My 2018 was incredible because nothing went as I planned. Everything was jumbled and out of place, but that mess included some of the happiest times in my life.  So many of those moments almost didn’t happen because they didn’t fit in with what I had imagined for the year and that would have been a true shame.

So, this year, I’m setting one resolution: I’m going to try to plan less.  This doesn’t mean I will abandon my perfectly color coated google calendars or stop scheduling out how I plan to study for classes.  But, it does mean I will get less bogged down in the details.  I will not let my perfect plans rule my life.  Rather, when opportunity knocks, I will greet it, instead of cowering away in the corner because I had not booked it into my calendar.  And if opportunity happens to offer to change my life, I will gladly shake his hand and throw away the schedules and calendars, happily pursuing the adventure life has given me.

Over my bed, I have a canvas that reads, “Anything can happen if you let it,” a favorite quote of mine from Mary Poppins.  Like usual, she’s quite right. She is practically perfect, after all.

 

Where are you, Christmas?

Where are you, Christmas?

Where are you Christmas?  Why can’t I find you?

Lately, I’ve been in a bit of slump and I’ve been trying to cover it up with excitement, but the truth is: this year is missing some Christmas spirit for me.  I’m not sure exactly why– maybe, it’s the aftermath of a stressful finals period and now the waiting for final grades to be released or maybe, it’s the rushed feeling that has been in my home as we struggle to get everything done in time for the holiday or maybe, it’s even the distress that comes along with following politics this season.  Whatever it is, something just feels off to me.

I think admitting that we can’t feel the holiday cheer is something hard for a lot of us to do.  What is wrong with us that we don’t just feel overjoyed this season? In almost every Christmas movie, the people who don’t feel Christmas cheer are often villains or mean people. They live quite unhappy and grouchy lives until someone opens their eyes to how great Christmas can be (often by going to some small, adorable town where they find love and community). But, sometimes, not feeling the holiday spirit doesn’t mean you’re a grinch or have let the season go.  In fact, sometimes, it’s exactly the opposite: you want more than anything to be able to feel the Christmas cheer that everyone else seems to feel.

Right now, I’m at a personal struggle.  Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year and I told myself that finals were just a blip in my Christmas spirit radar.  I would spend a week unhappy, but then I could get back to happiness and excitement. I came home though and found that was not the case– no matter how many Christmas songs I listen to or movies I watch, something just feels off.  

A hard part of self-care is checking in with where you’re at emotionally and not beating yourself up if you aren’t where you want to be.  It is okay to not feel overwhelmed with excitement during Christmas, even if you wish you were. It is okay to feel sad or alone or confused.  I’ve said it before, but I think we, myself included, could all do to hear it again: it is okay to still be human during the holidays.

Despite this all, I’m still holding out hope that I can find my perfect Christmas cheer again.   Maybe, I’ve been looking in the wrong places.  Maybe, Christmas spirit doesn’t live in hundreds of cookies or fancy wrapped boxes with ribbon or pretty decorations around the house.  Maybe, every Christmas movie does have it right: it’s in the love that’s all around us every day.

 

Ranking my favorite Christmas movies!

Ranking my favorite Christmas movies!

From the time I was a child, the holidays have been the absolute most magical time of year to me.  One of the most magical parts of Christmas to me is the movies– there’s just no way not to feel Christmas joy when you watch ABC Family (now Freeform)’s 25 days of Christmas movie marathons. In college now, I don’t get to watch the 25 days of Christmas but during finals season when I get overwhelmed, I often take a break to watch a Christmas movie and afterwards, I always feel a bit more clarity and peace of mind.  Watching Christmas movies is my favorite holiday self-care activity.

In honor of us being exactly 20 days away from Christmas, I’m giving my ranking of my top five Christmas movies.  

  1. Love, Actually.  Recently, this movie has become the subject of much debate and unfortunately, hate, but I absolutely love it.  It has a million and one plot holes, the characters are ridiculous most of the time, but I can’t help but fall in love with this movie when Sam runs across the airport to declare his love to Joanna or the Prime Minister knocks on every door on a street in London to find the woman he loves.  It’s these truly outrageously cheesy moments that have me watching this movie at least five times every Christmas season, without fail.4099872673_2375d80dcf.jpg

 

Christmas Shoes.  This movie, I believe, is the most underappreciated Christmas movie ever.  It’s a made-for-TV movie that aired on CBS and starred Rob Lowe. It’s also based upon one of my favorite Christmas songs.  This movie makes me cry my eyes out, but reminds me of the true meaning of Christmas: love and giving. It is a movie that should not be missed.879319287_257fb71233_b.jpg

3. The Polar Express.  I remember going to see this movie in 3D in theaters when it came out and feeling so absolutely immersed– my dad can tell you, I kept reaching my hand out to try to grab the ticket.  I walked out feeling like I had just been at the North Pole and seen Santa himself. I even put one of the reindeer’s bells on my Christmas list the next year, desperately wanting to live the Polar Express.  Even today when I’m older, I feel that same type of magic for the Polar Express– it’s like I’m there at the North Pole each time I watch it.The_polar_express_logo.png

2. The Santa Clause.  In my house, this movie is the ULTIMATE classic.  It’s one of few movies that can get us to all gather up together in the living room to watch, without anyone complaining that they wanted to watch a different movie.  Tim Allen will forever be my favorite Santa Clause– he’s hysterical in his original denial of the Christmas spirit and eventual complete embrace.

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DRUM ROLL, PLEASE!
1. The Year Without a Santa Clause. They call me Heat Miser, whatever I touch starts to melt in my clutch.  Heat Miser and Snow Miser are two of my favorite Christmas characters ever and the Miser song is so great– I lowkey quote it all year.  It also features another classic Christmas song, Blue Christmas. This movie just leaves me feeling so happy at the end and I just feel like it has the warm-fuzzy feeling you expect of Christmas.  

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A Letter to My Mom on Her Birthday

A Letter to My Mom on Her Birthday

There is no one like mom.  My mom is my world: she’s the first person I want to share my successes with and the person who I know I can call when life falls apart.  She’s the one who has been silently cheering me on since I was small. I don’t say these things to her enough, even at all. I should.

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With self-care, we often look at it as a tool to make the hard parts of life easier but it should also be a tool to recognize the great parts of our lives.  One part of self-care is recognizing those who love us and we’re most grateful to. That’s what this post is about today: recognizing the crazy amount of love and care my mother has given to be.  I felt the best way to do this is a letter.

 

Dear Mom,

I wish I could tell you how much I want to be with you today.  It breaks my heart to hear you say that today is just an ordinary day when it is far from ordinary– it is your birthday, and that is very special to me.  I don’t tell you often enough how special you are to me. It’s hard for me to exactly describe what you mean to me, but I want to try.

In elementary school, you had to come countless times to pick me up from the school nurse’s office because I had gotten myself injured somehow.  You didn’t yell about my clumsiness. You didn’t tell me to stop my tears. You held my hand through it all.

In middle school, when I came home from school crying, you were there.  You sat and listened to me cry about how girls could so cruel. You comforted me as I felt alone and confused in my friendships.  You stayed through it all.

In high school, you dealt with all my mood swings.  You supported me when I achieved success and listened when I failed.  You sometimes yelled, but you never judged. You listened to it all.

In college, things have been different.  I don’t get to go home everyday and sit with you and tell you about my day.  Still, you care. You read this blog every day, you follow up on everything I tell you, even the silly, nonsensical things. You care for it all.

Our relationship isn’t without its flaws.  At times, I feel I am too similar to you to bear, with us both getting irritated at seeing our own faults front and center. Sometimes, I envy the ease of your relationship with my sister, where you don’t have to overcome this similarity.  But these negatives mean nothing when compared to all the love within our relationship. These faults do not stop us from loving or caring for each other. They make our relationship human– it is perfectly imperfect and true.

I hope you know how much you mean to me.  I would not be the person I am today without your unfaltering love and support.  You are my greatest influence and you make me a stronger, better person. If I can live my life giving out to the world just half the love you have given me, I will have lived a great life.

Thank you.  I love you.

 

Today, I challenge us to all to recognize those who give us unconditional love and the effect it has had on our lives.  There are so many people who love us, with no terms or conditions, and they make us better. They pull us through our rough times and into the light.  We cannot achieve self-care or self-love without recognizing these amazing people in our lives who make everything possible.

 

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.