Forward

9:50am New Year’s Eve. Home alone. Still in bed. Nowhere to be, the day at my complete disposal. You have no idea how happy I am.

Normal me would disapprove of staying in bed past 9am on a weekday, but fuck it. The week between Christmas and New Years is always a period of blurred, ignorant bliss; between traveling to see family, friends coming to town, and endless indulgences too easy to lose track of time. My typically structured days are replaced by spontaneous whims, my often rigid eating habits a bit more lax (Italian, anyone?) I enjoy getting lost in it all, immersed in the abundance of love, gratitude and sugar.

11:00am Its hard for me to stay in one place for long, so I book myself a bike for 12:00pm HIIT in the city and finish my morning lemon water. Anderson Paak sets the tone for the rest of the day.

Cliched as it may be, one of my biggest accomplishments this year was making fitness a priority. I have been involved in sports since I was a kid, but for the first time I’ve really come to enjoy the benefits of a good sweat. In the past, I would work out either in advance of or right after a period of unhealthy eating, as a way to “offset the damage” I was about to do to myself, especially around the holidays. I now truly understand the connection between fitness and nutrition, how my body works, what it responds to, what it likes. I love that feeling of achievement after a particularly challenging burn, especially when I almost opted to go home and watch Game of Thrones instead. I am now one of those sick fucks who actually prefers to go to cycling over happy hour, and I am okay with that, because it has improved not just my physical health but my mental well-being. I want to get even better next year, and I want to inspire people to do the same. Sorry in advance for being annoying about it.

1:00pm Sweaty, happy, hungry. As opposed to going and buying a green juice, I head back home and make myself a salad.

A 2018 goal of mine that didn’t end up manifesting until almost 365 days later: cut out the bullshit. This was the year of my financial awakening in that I realized how much of my money was spent on absolute bullshit non-essentials that were contributing only to my present happiness: $5 daily matchas and bi-monthly mani pedis, pricey nights out followed by Uber rides home, $14 lunches when I have fully-prepared meals in the fridge.

When I was living with less intention, not only I was content with my aimless spending, and I had come to think of it as simply a part of living in New York.  It took almost a year of podcasts, books, and looking at my bank statements to truly understand the gravity of this behavior. It is really fucking hard to break these habits that have been engrained since childhood, but it’s imperative that I do, because unless you have a trust fund or 6-figure salary, things do not just magically work out. Not to say that I am going full-on minimalist by any means – I have festivals to attend, restaurants to try, and French classes to buy – but I am thinking ahead, now more than ever. One day, I want to buy a home. I want to travel. I want to work voluntarily, not to make ends meet. I don’t want to be a slave to the almighty dollar at 55, so leftovers it is – for now. Future me will thank me.

Here’s to a new year of living presently, but also thinking forward. To standing up for myself and saying no more often. To not letting my experiences of the past limit my future potential. To new experiences, more love, and even more growth.

WTF

Dear Universe,

WTF is going on?

I like to think that I give pretty good advice – I derive pleasure from listening to people’s problems and offering my take on things, providing a (typically) unbiased perspective and hopefully offering comfort or serving as a catalyst for some type of resolution. As I see it, all of my friends are incredibly powerful beings deserving of unlimited love, sex, money, success, happiness and fulfillment. The advice I give, sometimes harsh and always honest, supports that theory.

The same things I champion in others – vulnerability, fearlessness, strength, tenacity – have recently been completely lost when it comes time to apply said advice to my own life when I need it most. Despite being surrounded by love and an especially strong support system, I feel this incessant need to do everything on my own – to always be strong, strategically work through my problems, shove any negative feelings to the back of my mind, and actively refrain from burdening those around me with my own needs. I want to be the best that I can be in every role I inhabit, from daughter and friend, to girlfriend or employee. It is important for me to be there for others, but when it comes time to call on support I am suddenly paralyzed, terrified of becoming a “nag” or the “needy girl.” Why the hell is it suddenly so difficult to be there for myself, to be so easily giving but simultaneously unable to receive?

At this moment, my life is somewhat in flux across the board: I am having a minor, unexpected and unwelcome quarter-life crisis as I try to navigate the best next steps for my career, wondering if there is ever a time to choose profit over passion (I shouldn’t have to choose…I want both!) I am dealing with an ailing family member, which will imminently bring a devastating loss in the near future. While uncertainty can undoubtedly be exciting I know I will inevitably persevere, I am admittedly overwhelmed and in need of someone to lean on – to remind me that is okay to not be okay, to feel, to cry, to be girly and imperfect before refocusing and moving forward.

In addition to everything going on, I am falling for someone. Wasn’t necessarily planning to, but as well all know, life rarely (if ever) goes as planned. But that is a topic for another day.

On Quitting

I quit my job two weeks ago. No, I did not have another offer lined up or a trust fund to fall back on. Was it a reckless move? Sure. But it was one of the best I’ve ever made.

One of the things I am most grateful for is my incredible support system. My parents taught me the value of working hard, but also of maintaining integrity and involving myself only in things and people that make me truly happy. While they may not always understand my choices (not going to grad school), my jobs (a career in the arts/music industry), or my path in general, their support never wavers. My friends have always been there to listen to the rants that inevitably come with a less-than-traditional career path. After weeks of bitching about my job, I told them I quit and was met with nothing but unending support. Yes, things may be uncertain I will undoubtedly have to hustle my ass off, but they never failed to remind me I will land on my feet. That right there is worth more than gold.

While positive thinking and pursuing happiness is important to our overall wellbeing, so is getting to the root of our problems and taking action. Issues at work, in life or love don’t just go away and sometimes you need to sit in your shit and find a solution. Some things – including jobs, people and relationships – are simply not for you and cannot be forced into being otherwise, despite your best efforts. Maybe something that was once working for you and brought you joy, such as a dream job, partner or environment, no longer does. Mental shifts and change are all inevitable parts of life, and being honest with yourself (though scary as hell) is integral to individual growth. We are conditioned to believe that outright suffering is a part of the process, and while not everything is perfect or glamorous in the pursuit of success, it is important to recognize when something just doesn’t feel right anymore and to be able to walk away.

Quitting is not always the answer, but can serve as a catalyst for change – and it should only be done when your problems in a current situation are no longer fixable. We are too often and too easily tempted to give up on things before we have truly assessed if our problems are solvable. If you’re feeling unmotivated at work, can you change your mindset to become more productive? If you’re feeling an emotional distance between you and your partner, have you thought of new ways to reconnect? One bad week at work is no reason to throw in the towel and one bad argument with your significant other isn’t reason to break up. Knowing when to walk away is a valuable skill that should only be applied when absolutely necessary.

There is a shame around the concept of quitting, but I urge you to change your perspective. No, you shouldn’t abandon things before putting in the necessary work, but if after all of your effort is exhausted things are still not progressing, know that walking is an option. Despite what society has told you for your entire life, you do not always need to wait for good things happen. Taking agency is one of the most rewarding things in this world, and while things may never be perfect, we have full control over making our time on earth as happy as possible. If you are at a college you hate, transfer to find a better environment. If you aren’t getting fulfilled by your friendships, make new ones. If you aren’t fulfilled at work and there is no change is sight, leave and take a temporary position to keep the bills paid till you land the next gig. Do what the hell you need to do. If that makes you a quitter, then so be it.

The Practice of Self-Care

New Yorkers are always on the go, seamlessly moving from the office to after-work events, endlessly searching for the next best restaurant, apartment or gallery opening. The opportunities are endless, leading us to fill our calendars with as many concerts, trips and dates as we can manage. Surrounded by ambition, we never cease to find inspiration from our co-workers, partners and friends who keep us on our toes. In a city where we are always moving to create the absolute best version of ourselves, it can be easy to get lost in the midst of it all – particularly when it comes to practicing presence, gratitude and self-care. The concept of self-care is simple: find something you love and make time to practice it when needed, consciously working it into your daily  life in order to restore and recharge. As a generation that expends an incredible amount of energy interacting, sharing and comparing with others, it is critical for us to take a moment for ourselves.

One of the best parts of self-care is that there is no right way to practice it, and how its carried out depends solely on the desires of the individual doing it. Extroverted people may find that being around people in a social setting is soothing for them, and therefore they seek out opportunities to be in groups, be it volunteering or taking a language or dance class. For others, rest is an important component of self-care, and they ensure to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. I typically find myself most at peace when I am solo, writing in a journal, reading or tuned into an amazing playlist and therefore I carve out at least an hour daily to do so – I can sense a negative change in mood when I go a day without music. I also find joy in working out and pushing myself physically, especially in small group settings led by women – which explains my obsessions with Pop PhysiqueY7 and DanceBody. Whether you value silence and solitude (solo meditation, sleep), group settings (concerts, fitness classes, book clubs), creative forms (music, writing, cooking, learning a language) or a physical expression of yourself (running, dancing, yoga, etc.) make it a priority until it becomes habitual.

Self-care also relates to protecting your mental state by developing and strengthening your boundaries, which includes learning to say yes or no and standing firmly in your decisions. This is particularly relevant in dating where we can get so wrapped up in another individual that we forget to take a step back and look at the situation objectively, asking ourselves the important question: Is this person adding to my life (and vice versa?) Is this dynamic (casual or otherwise) working for me? Do I feel good with this person? Self-care demands that you scan your relationships and make sure you are feeling fulfilled and secure within them. It also means abandoning fear of perception, trusting your instincts, and walking away if you have articulated your needs and they are still not being met. Possessing a strong sense of self and wants/desires is extremely powerful and pretty sexy, too.

It is more important than ever to focus on what drives us as we make our way through this world so we can take our newfound energy and use it to bring selves forward every single day. Know that is is perfectly fine to unplug and allow yourself let yourself go. Be good to yourself and know that you are allowed to change your mind, to run the emotional gamut from ecstatic to depressed and back again. As with all practices, self-care is not about achieving perfection. Find what fuels you, embrace it and trust the process.

Click here for the basics on the self-care movement and how to get started.