As I open my new notebook and begin to write, Bernice (AKA Bernie Sanders) jumps up next to me on the couch and begins to chew my headphones. After she tires of this activity, she proceeds to walk on the blank white pages in front of me.
Even though I’m not sure if my company for the weekend understands that I would like her to stop disrupting my writing, her company is much more welcomed- and much less of a headache- than most people during holidays.
It’s a Cat Lady Christmas.
It’s usually easier for me to tackle life on my own than to worry about other people. Through the years I have had many short-lived relationships, a handful of longtime friendships, and grew up in a small family. Since I was never surrounded by groups of people, I valued quality over quantity.
Christmas Day looks a lot like my minimalistic holiday– simple and stress-free. While I would love to be home in Michigan with my family, this year I’m staying in Boston, enjoying my first (solo) New England Christmas.
Yesterday I ventured out to go shopping, binged on Netflix and Hulu, hung out with Bernice and ordered enough delivery to last me two days.
Ah, Bachelorette life.
I decided to spend Christmas Day relaxing, exploring the city, eating and writing. If that’s how I want to celebrate this holiday (which has nothing to do with hype or stress), then that is what I intend to do.
Family and friends told me they feel bad that I am spending Christmas alone with Bernice. My take on it? I have the best company around- myself, a four-legged friend, and my empty notebook.
2016 has been a wild ride. Each year we go into January with new resolutions to better ourselves, yet December rolls around with us asking, “what happened?”
Despite my grand plans to minimalize my life in 2016, I found myself trying way too hard to “make things work,” further complicating matters and adding on to my stress. Minimalism isn’t just about material things; it’s about quality over quantity in all aspects of life. Control has always been an issue for me, leading to anxiety.
After several bumps along the road, a couple of moves and a few mistakes later, I’ve finally taken a deep breath and learned that I can’t control everything. All I can do is the next right thing, try my best, do the work and the rest will follow.
Easier said than done, right? Honestly, it can be.
Stop chasing people
I used to always try and fix situations, apologized when it wasn’t necessary and worried when someone didn’t respond to my texts or calls. Guess what? I’ve learned to let it go. They’ll come around if they’re meant to; if not, you’re just fine. Keep going.
This also is applicable with employment; I spent a good part of my year looking for jobs or consulting projects, but was often disappointed when it didn’t go my way. Did I come off as desperate? Was I chasing something that wasn’t even meant for me?
What’s for you will not pass you
I found an Alex and Ani bracelet with this saying, which brought life and its challenging into perspective.
“Your life is destined for greatness. Obstacles will inevitably come your way. Greet them with patience and hard work. Allow the light of fated opportunities to spill through, live in fearlessness, and remember that what’s meant for you will not pass you.”
Instead of overanalyzing every situation and trying to control things that are out of my hands, I remember the phrase and know that what is meant for me will fall into place. Although I can have hopes and dreams, some of the best gifts are ones that you least expect. That’s the beauty of life.
So what if you’re five minutes late? Living in NYC completely me through a loop; as a naturally anxious person who is always thinking ten steps ahead, that city did me no favors. I took my aggression out daily on people walking down the street, whether it was pushing through a Fifth Avenue crowd or snapping at someone who cut me in line.
Do these things really matter? No. I’m not the center of the universe, and neither are you. I clearly could have handled those stressful situations better, learned how to think differently
Watch for signs and listen to your gut
“Wise mind” is a DBT skill that, in simple terms, is the balance between logic and emotion. This could also be considered intuition. My gut told me that Boston was the right city for me; and with a bit of emotion and rationality, a voice in my mind told me to head east. I did my research, wrote out my goals, made a plan and just two weeks later, I was here.
Do you ever see the clock hit your lucky number or birthday? Maybe you find playing cards on the ground (I never fail to see 12:22– my birthday- or find “2” cards). Whatever the case, I am a firm believer that the universe is sending out signs to keep you paying attention, and on the right track.
Learning to be more mindful and to let go of stress, control and what others around you are doing can be difficult, but in the end, this is your journey. Never let anyone steal your happiness; especially if that person is you.
If I could wear a little black dress every day of the week I would. In fact, I usually do. Give me some bright lipstick, a great bag and my signature Karen Walker frames and I’m good to go. My wardrobe has primarily consisted of shades of black, white and grey for years; it’s not only classic, it’s easy.
I always feel polished when I slip on a little black dress, which is also an amazing choice for a minimalistic lifestyle. My go-to stores are H&M, Zara and ASOS for basics, Henri Bendel for accessories and Ulta for cosmetics (I love the variety of brands- both drug store and high-end).
There are many reasons I love black other than it being sophisticated and chic… it doesn’t give much thought, either!
Unless we’re talking about two shades of black that don’t blend together, you can’t go wrong with black-on-black. Black dress, black trench, black tote, black flats. An all-black outfit is also great when adding statement pieces; my personal favorites are pops of red or bright pink.
It’s easy to accessorize
I love accessorizing. An arm full of bangles, pearls, statement necklaces, bright bags or hats; all of my favorite outfit additions complement my simple wardrobe perfectly.
I always plan out my outfits for the week on Sundays, and surprise, surprise- they’re usually variations of black, white and red.
Black goes with any makeup💄
My favorite lip shades vary between shades of red, pink and coral. Here are a few of my favorites to complete my daily look:
Anyone that knows me rarely will find me without a coffee cup in my hand. I can caffeinate morning, noon and night, so you can imagine that I spill from time to time (more regularly than I would like to admit). I carry a Tide stick with me at all times, but with black, no need for instant stain removal! Have to love it.
Black is slimming
Whenever I’m having an off day I throw on a black top, black leggings and boots. Forgiving, chic and sassy; can’t beat that. You’ll leave the house looking like you tried much harder than you did.
For those who are with me on the all-black train, I stumbled on this article about women who wear black. Accurate, if you ask me!
Last week I packed my luggage, got on a plane and headed to yet another city I had to learn. Challenged accepted.
Unlike other moves in the past, I had this one laid out to a tee. I listed my objectives, dates and goals leading up to the move, reviewed them daily and most important of all- took action.
Since graduating college in 2007 I’ve lived in Metro Detroit, San Francisco, Austin, New York, and even did a stint in Charlotte. Smaller towns were never on my radar, and living in a rut was never an option.
If you don’t like something, change it.
Easier said than done, right? Perhaps. Since arriving last Thursday I spent the weekend in Amesbury, explored the coast, tried beach pizza, went on several interviews, learned how to manuever the T and bus lines (every city is essentially the same, except Boston subway tracks are CLEAN), decorated my little Airbnb for Christmas, and even purchased some Red Sox gear (sorry to my Giants- I’m still loyal to you).
It’s been wonderful.
I’m not sure what feels different about this move. There are the obvious reasons- I have a clear head, a plan, support, experience and above all, fearlessness. When I first moved to San Francisco at age 23 I lived on blind optimism and nativity. I suppose the same holds true for every other life-changing event… all except this one.
I’ve grown up and I’ve learned to take action. I’ve worked many types of jobs in several industries, experienced a variety of living situations, weathered different climates and began to learn the importance of staying in the moment. It has always been easy for me to get ahead of myself in life, but staying mindful is imperative in this journey.
Life isn’t always glamourous and the grind is never easy, but this time I intend to live one day at a time, keep a positive attitude and find beauty in each day.
I am starting to love you, Boston. Without getting ahead of myself, I hope we stay together for a very long time.
“If misery loves company, misery has company enough.” -Henry David Thoreau
I grew up an only child, spending my days reading, writing, and using my own imagination to entertain myself. As I grew up, I quickly began to understand that what seemed so normal to me was quite unordinary.
I never surrounded myself with groups of people, joined teams or relied on siblings or neighbor friends- I relied on myself. I was happy in my own company, my own solitude. As a shy little girl I was quickly misunderstood, which only got worse as I became a teenager. Kids are mean… especially girls.
Sadly, this doesn’t change as an adult. I spent the better part of this fall taking a break from reality, working on myself and learning new skills, all while being surrounded by dozens of different people and personalities. This was one of the most rewarding yet challenging experiences of my life. I was in an environment where feelings were prevalent and people verbally worked through their problems, yet also tried to fix mine. I’ve never been a “touchy-feely” type of person, nor have I been codependent on others- this includes helping and being helped. I take the bull by the horns and try to do things alone.
I finally learned that it’s okay to ask for help- the right help.
Once again, I found myself being misunderstood. After a rollercoaster of a year, I began journaling daily, speaking to therapists and even asked a select few for advice. My month of introspection lead me to question myself, whether I was a good person or if I was doomed to be selfish my entire life. Only child syndrome, anxiety, and a touch of OCD didn’t help matters, but upon researching personality types and environmental factors, I gained a piece of mind (and even a little bit of sanity).
I’m still misunderstood and have been called every name in the book- but these days I don’t listen to the noise. Those who critique others are simply deflecting and avoiding their own shortcomings- and today I can accept that.
Instead of trying to surround myself with groups of people and masking my anxiety with alcohol and a seemingly “together” facade, I’m growing comfortable with being brutally honest, putting my thoughts on paper and spending time with the person I am most at home with- me.
Whether I’m by the water, nestled in my room or enjoying a coffee with friends, I choose to live my life in the moment, love who I am and enjoy the simple things, one day at a time.
With a new city and a new perspective, I decided it was also time to start a new blog.
Two months ago I never would have dreamed I would be here today. October began with feelings of hope, optimism and a chance for a fresh start, but ended with a much different “new beginning” than I had anticipated.
Life is funny like that.
Instead of pushing my way through a lifelong battle with anxiety and making the same mistakes I had been repeating for years, I took a break. I was fortunate to be able to spend some time to work on myself, live simply, and reassess my life- but more importantly, figure out my purpose.
During my “reset” I wrote out my short-term goals to share with family and friends, but most importantly to hold myself accountable. Something about seeing my plan on paper made it much more tangible; much more real. Once I decided on Boston, I wrote out a Pros and Cons list:
With the exception of a handful of people, I didn’t share where I was going. I kept it quiet, but with a four page plan on paper to prove I was serious. In the past I used to declare my plans to anyone who would listen, later to change my mind, have something fall through, or to simply share for the sake of validation.
Living for others is no way to live your life.
Although I do value the opinion of others, I’m beginning this new journey for me- this time, I won’t let someone else’s thoughts sway me. Perhaps that is where I have failed in the past- allowing myself to be pulled in so many different directions that I wasn’t confident in my own choices.
So far, I’m right on track with the goals I documented, and have even exceeded them. With prayer, meditation and a plan, I’m confident that anything is possible. Everything happens for a reason, and life is much more manageable when you live it one day at a time.