Building Your Personal Board of Directors

Happy Sunday, again, friends! I have to tell you, this week has felt like seven weeks. Each day has felt longer than the last, and they’ve all felt like a long Monday, which is just the worst. Long story short, it’s been a tough week, folks, but I’m happy now that I am able to sit down for a minute, take a break, enjoy this cup of tea on my couch, and write.

I’ll spare you of the details, but you know that feeling where you’re just meant for something bigger and better? I’ve been getting that a lot this week, which would also imply I am currently feeling quite stuck in my current position.

BUT, I will say, there have been some amazing people who’ve been there to show me some light at the end of this arduous tunnel. In Student Affairs, we have an activity with students called “Building Your Personal Board of Directors.” The student draws a rectangle in the middle of the page with six circles around it, representing chairs that each of their Board members will sit in. We ask:

  • Who sits at this table in your life?
  • How do you decide who gets a coveted spot at this table?
  • Who influences you?
  • How did you decided who to include? To not include?

And so on. This week, I’ve had to think a lot about who is at my own personal Board of Directors table, and frankly, who is not. And the more I learn, the more I realize that deciding who not to include is just as important as who to include. In the words of Leslie Knope, “If you’re gonna act like an ass, I can’t talk to you. Ever.” [On a side note, I started re-watching Parks & Rec, and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made in this high-stress time.]

But it’s the truth. If someone is acting like a jerk, or sucking out all of your energy, or infusing negativity into your day, it’s just going to have to be a big PASS for me from now on. And almost as if the Universe has heard me loud and clear, I’ve started receiving all of this positive energy into my life since making that decision. In addition to this god-awful week, I’ve had so many positive reminders of who should be sitting on my personal Board of Directors, and I am eternally grateful.

  1. First, foremost, and always, my sister. Because her music taste is impeccable, I texted her early in the week asking if she had any recommendations for “stress-free-vibes” music. And within the hour, she had created a playlist for me, titled Stress Free Vibes, with over 100 songs and more than 7 hours of music!! I just love her. I will always need her on my board.
  2. After messaging a friend on Facebook, sharing the latest drama, she immediately invited me over to share a Blue Box meal with her – a home-cooked meal at her apartment! “Bring the wine!” she said, and I happily agreed. She reminded me that I’m not alone, even when it feels like I am.
  3. After texting a friend who lives many hours away, when I was in the thick of it all, I was able to really process and reflect on what was happening, albeit, via text. She reminded me to take some deep breaths, take a walk, and that the Universe was on my side.
  4. I got drinks with a coworker (and friend) this week. It was towards the end of the week, when I probably had built up so much stress that steam was coming out of my ears. With no preface, she popped in my office, “Are you okay? Wanna grab a drink?” Within 5 minutes, we were at the closest bar. She provided validation and affirmation, and made me feel like I was sane again.
  5. If anyone knows me, sharing a cup of coffee with a friend is like the ultimate way to spend my time. And this week, I went into work late so I could spend time with a friend and share a cup of coffee. This friend reminded me of my purpose, where my truth lies, and that if we are truly living our genuine, authentic selves, there’s nothing to worry about. And if we aren’t, we better start thinking of a plan to start living more authentically, because we owe it to ourselves.

We owe it to ourselves to build ourselves up. And in order to do that, we need to pick the people to be on our personal Board of Directors who are going to help us grow and develop, who are going to support us, love us, and just be there.

So thank you, to my Board of Directors. I really needed you this week!


Clearing Your Mind

I have never been very good at meditation. Ever since moving to New York City, I am constantly surrounded by noises – blaring ambulances, screeching taxi cabs, endless conversations buzzing around my head. By the time I’m finally able to sit down at the end of a long, noisy day, the last thing I can do is “clear my mind.” Although, it’s probably the only thing that I should be doing.

This weekend, I travelled upstate to visit family and spend time away from the city. It was…peaceful. Relaxing. Calm. I barely thought about work. And the new noises that surrounded me were chirping birds, warm “hellos” from strangers, and familiar laughter. Upstate, in comparison with New York City, is a whole different world.

And maybe it was a coincidence, but as if by magic, I was finally able to clear my mind this weekend. All the recent stress from work seemed to melt away. I was reminded of the bigger priorities in my life – family, friends, fun. This weekend reminded me of who I truly am, rather than a tensed-up stress-ball (which is how some co-workers might view me, especially in the most recent weeks).

And maybe most importantly, as I was sitting in my local hometown coffee shop, a feeling came over me: I finally felt ready to start writing again.

Since November, I had taken a break from the book that I’ve been trying to write for the past three years. I needed some space from the manuscript. And now, four months later, I feel ready to approach it once more. Call it a coincidence, but I feel like being upstate for the weekend allowed my mind to clear itself, which allowed more room for the things I actually care about. In particular, writing.

Sitting in that coffee shop, I looked up at my boyfriend who was visiting home with me. I said, “I think I’m ready to start writing again…” and for the next hour, I was hunched over my laptop, tapping away eagerly at the keys. New ideas flooded into my mind – breathing life into stale characters and overused plot lines. I suddenly had the motivation to organize the story into a neat outline for myself, which will inherently help me in the future. I am excited to continue this work, but I was also feeling conflicted – why did it take me four months and a trip upstate for me to clear my mind enough to be able to start writing again? And more importantly, when I’m feeling bogged down by the daily life of New York City, how can I make sure that my mind is clear, to make room for bigger and better priorities?

  1. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
    • Reflecting now, I realize that most of the space in my mind on a daily basis is taken by things that don’t matter. Other people may think it’s important, but in reality, it’s not that serious. Perfect example: everything at my job. A student emailed me on Thursday (when I was out of the office), asking for something they needed by Saturday. Nothing in my job is life or death, and that student can wait. So, instead of stressing out about it, I’m just going to respond to her tomorrow, Monday, when I’m back in the office. No big deal.
  2. Focus on the Big Stuff
    • I find that since so much of my daily headspace goes to the small stuff, I barely have time to focus on the big stuff. I’d love to write every day, start working out, eating healthy. But instead, it’s easier to sleep in, go to happy hour, and eat mindlessly staring at a computer. Clear your mind of the smaller, less important things, to make room for the big things you want to focus on.
  3. Stop Talking, Start Doing
    • My friend is enrolled in a course on thanatology, or, the study of death and dying. And she has been teaching me an awful lot lately. One lesson that has resonated with me the most is this: We’re all dying, so we might as well start living. We don’t know how much time we have on this earth. We need to make the most of it, and instead of talking about what we want to do, we should just do it.

I’m also learning that accountability is a big part of my motivation and strategy. Eating healthy on my own is always a bust, but when I was doing Whole30 with my boyfriend, it became fun and easy! I asked my mom to text me when she starts working out after work, as a reminder that I need to leave the office and keep to my own workout plan. And with that said, if any of you are looking for an accountability buddy, in anything, I’m interested! Let’s start clearing our minds, focusing on what’s important to us, and creating positive life change for ourselves. It’s about time!



Folding a Fitted Sheet

When you know a thing, say that you know it; when you do not know a thing, admit that you do not know it. That is knowledge.


This week, as I was endlessly scrolling through my Instagram feed on the train, I came across a picture that actually captured my interest. It wasn’t a random selfie of someone I barely know, or a picture of rooftop drinks, reminding me that I have little to no social life, or even a picture of New York City, reminding me that I should probably get up off my couch.

No, it was a picture of a quote. About a fitted bed sheet.

IMG_5350(photo cred: @mumfordnosonz)

It made me stop my mindless scrolling. Because, well, DAMN! I’ve never seen a more factual statement about being an adult. Or honestly, about a fitted sheet. Honestly, who the hell knows how to fold a fitted sheet, anyway?

I thought about all the stages of my life, of adulthood, that I’ve already lived. When I moved away for college, I thought I was such an adult. And in my defense, it was the most adult I had ever been up until that point. But now, I look back and laugh at that thought, because I was living in a dorm where someone else was paid to take out my trash, I had a full meal plan, and my biggest worry was getting to class on time, which, was maybe a five minute walk from my dorm. I guess I equate “adult” with “independence.” But now, I look at my “adult” life. The older twentysomething adult life. And I see real responsibilities. I see bills, financial debts, stresses at work, expensive living costs…and the list goes on, am I right?

But I wonder, when I’m fifty, will I look back on this time in my twentysomething life and laugh at the thoughts, at the stresses, that I feel now? Will I wish that I was more appreciative of a simpler life?

And although I am still many years away from being a parent, I feel like it’s the same idea. You can read as many parenting books as you’d like, but there’s not one correct way to be a parent. You just have to do the best you can do, and hope that your kid doesn’t turn out to be a melon head. And if they do, I’m sure you’d still love and support them anyway.

It’s a lot like being an adult. I can read (or write) as many twentysomething blogs as I want, but there still isn’t one “correct” way on how to live your life, on how to be an adult. And Lord knows I’m just trying to do my best, hoping that I won’t screw over my future self. Like folding a fitted sheet, I’m sure some people really are knowledgeable in that art. As for my own technique, I never have to worry about that, because I only have one set of sheets. So my fitted sheet is either wrapped around my mattress, or it’s in the washer. No folding necessary. 🙂

And although the fitted sheet quote is slightly terrifying – just imagine, all “adults” are just pretend-adults who have no freaking clue what they are doing – it’s also incredibly liberating. As in, I’m not the only one who still feels like a child playing dress up and trying to catch up with the rest of the adult world?! I’m not the only one who gets confused about life sometimes? There are other people who also don’t really know how to be an adult? Awesome! That’s amazing!

But I think as we continue to learn, we can continue to share bits of information and knowledge with other pretend-adults, so we can all learn something from each other. We are all mini-experts at something, but will never know everything. We continue to learn, grow, and develop into who we are.

And maybe, just maybe, one day I will learn how to fold a fitted sheet.

Pura Vida: Lessons from Costa Rica

Mom Text I received this week: “Dad is giggling at the thought of u with a hammer lol”
Translation, Mom Text to English: “Dad is laughing at the idea of you with a hammer because you are probably the least handy person we know! laughing out loud!”
This week, I spent my time in Quepos, Costa Rica, on an alternative spring break trip, volunteering with ten students and a co-staff advisor. It sounds luxurious – soaking up the sun in Costa Rica, maybe with a nice piña colada – but even with the gorgeous views and blue ocean, it was far from a resort.
Every day, we walked 20 minutes to a boat, took the boat across the river, and then walked another 5 minutes just to get the the Community Center where we were volunteering – and that was just one way! The Community Center is the local place where kids from the community come for after-school activities and English lessons. Our jobs for the week revolved around social and community development. In other words, we painted new murals, planted flowers, and built new hut structures so the kids would have shaded areas to play outside…which is necessary, since in Costa Rica, the sun can easily burn through your skin.

And since gender roles are still rampant in Costa Rica, the women on the trip painted and planted, while the men on the trip were required to lift literal tree trunks and dig two-foot holes for each trunk-post.

So, although I’m sure there were women that were stronger than me on this trip, I found myself with a shovel, a machete, and yes dad, even a hammer.
The end result?
Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 6.29.09 AM.png
WE BUILT THIS. And yes, I am proud!
(We built two of these actually, in just two mornings, I might add…)
If anything, Costa Rica has taught me that I am more capable than I would’ve ever imagined. Back in New York, I suppose I live a relatively pampered life: I go to my stable job with the best view of Washington Square Park, I eat at delicious restaurants, I go home to my (relatively) spacious apartment, I see Broadway shows, I get pedicures. Life is good in New York City.
Yet, with that, I’ve realized that I haven’t exactly been challenging myself while I’ve been there. At first, everything was new, everything was a challenge, but then I became comfortable, and everything plateaued. How am I pushing myself to reach beyond my current capabilities?
I’ve thought about taking piano lessons again, or signing up for Italian classes, or joining a book club or a writing group – I’ve thought about all these opportunities, all these ways to challenge myself – but I’ve never taken part in any them. I guess I’d chalk it up to fear. Fear of failure, fear of not fitting in, fear of unhappiness, regardless of trying.
In Costa Rica, I didn’t have the chance to experience fear in the same way. They said, “You’re building this hut!” I said, “Um, are you sure about that?” They said, “Here’s a hammer, a machete, and literal tree trunks. Good luck!” And I walked away from that experience building not only one, but TWO shaded structures that will make a lasting, positive impact on the community. I surprised myself!
I also learned the value of a team. With me, there were three other students who were all working just as hard, and we were all able to figure it out together.
In Costa Rica, they say “Pura Vida.” Literally, it translates into “Pure Life.” It’s an expression that can be used for everything. Similar expressions might be, “It’s all good,” “Don’t worry be happy,” or “No worries.”
For me, it has put everything in perspective. Because in my opinion, I don’t think that everyone in Costa Rica is easily living their best life, constantly throwing out Pura Vidas. But for them, I think it’s a way to focus on the bigger picture. As in, every inch of my body may be sunburnt, I was bitten by a hundred ants, and I’m in a constant state of sweat, but all in all, in the greater picture of the world, all is good.
Pura Vida.

Learning to Breathe

I’m twenty-seven years old, and I’m just learning how to breathe.

This week has been quite chaotic – more than usual. Have you ever had a week where all of a sudden, 1,042 things had to be accomplished by 5:00pm on Friday? Well, that was me this week, although, I didn’t quite make it – I was in the office sending emails until 10:00pm last week. I stopped only when I realized that the people receiving those emails from me on a Friday evening would think that I had nothing better to do with my time, my life. Hello? Loser city.

You know the expression, “Wearing your heart on your sleeve?” Yeah, that’s like me, except I tend to wear my stress on my sleeve. This week, I’ve gotten the whole range of “Michael, are you okay?” “Is there anything you want to talk about?” and the more direct, “What’s the matter with you today?” And no, I’m not sad, I’m not upset…I’m stressed! And of course, when you go an entire day without stopping to take a deep breath (literally), of course you are going to seem frazzled and chaotic.

My favorite new look is sporting the twentysomething Einstein hair-do. My pomade seems to come undone when I’m stressed, and I’m just left with a mess of frizzy strands flying into the air. Or, maybe I just need a stronger hold hair product (does anyone have any recommendations…?)

But, all is well. I’ve learned how to breathe again.

And if you really think about it, how many times did you take a deep breath today? And if you have to think about it, you’re not doing it enough. Breath is the sustenance of life, yet, the automatic monotony of it causes us to take it for granted. So, try it with me.

Deep breath.

And again.

I’ve been learning a lot about self-care lately. And no, it’s not always all about candles and tea, although, I’m going to share my own self-care routine (which does involve candles and tea). So, here are my tips for some twentysomething self-care:

  1. Breathe
    • Literally. Every time you feel stressed, stop for 10 seconds and take a deep breath. Scientific studies show that deep breathing will literally calm your brain. So, pause for 10 seconds, take a deep breath, and calm your mind.
  2. Develop a Routine
    • I’m not sure what it is about this week, but I’ve had no choice but to think and develop a self-care routine. For me, that has involved drinking lots of hot peppermint tea and lighting my Stress Relief candle from Bath & Body Works. And then if I have the emotional energy after a long day, I like to journal. And if I don’t, then I’ll rewatch an episode of Parks & Rec. It’s good to develop something that suits you, that you know will calm you down, that you can turn to when you are stressed.
  3. Balance
    • If I’m stressed about work, and I’m staying at work until 10:00pm on a Friday, that’s probably not a good idea. That’s dumb. I guess you could call me a hypocrite – or a masochist – take your pick. If you know something is stressing you out, balance that out with other activities that are more fun and relaxing.
  4. Celebrate the Journey
    • A lot of this week was spent saying, “Once this week is over…once this week is over…” Okay, well guess what? The week is over, and I could still be completely stressed. Self-care and stress don’t have a time limit. Find ways to celebrate the journey, even if it’s a completely stressful one. I am fortunate enough to have a friend at work who loves taking random walks around the park during the work day, which is a fantastic way for me to find some joy during what would otherwise be a completely stressful day.

So, although I feel much more relaxed right now (which may or may not have something to do with the fact that I’m writing this from a spring break trip to Costa Rica), all of this is still a learning process. I am growing as time continues, learning to stop, to enjoy the moment, and take a deep breath. Lots of deep breaths.

Celebrating 100 Posts with 100 Reasons to be Grateful

Hey hey twentysomething friends! Happy Sunday! And happy 100th post of Twentysomething Months! I can’t believe it. Remember the 100th Day in elementary school, where you could come in with 100 cheerios, or 100 pencils, or something like that? I wanted to do something similar here to celebrate this post. Although, sorry friends, I’m not going to mail order any cheerios.

This has been such an interesting week for me. If you caught me in the first half of it, you would’ve thought my life was over. I was miserable, ungrateful, and frustrated in every aspect of my world. Yet later in the week, something changed. After talking to a friend over a Whole30 compliant meal (thank you!), I was reminded that I still have a lot to learn. The reason my book isn’t getting picked up by a publisher is because it isn’t ready. The reason I’m still in this job is because there are moments that I really do love (which I was reminded of this week). I was reminded that everything in the Universe is meant to happen when it’s meant to happen, and that there is always room for growth.

To celebrate this life-altering perspective change in my own world, which coincidentally occurred during the week of my 100th post, I wanted to challenge myself to write 100 reasons to be grateful.

So, here we go.

I am grateful for:

  1. My family
  2. My health
  3. My family’s health
  4. The fact that I can call my dad about anything, including how long I can keep chicken in the refrigerator without dying
  5. My mom, and her constant love and support
  6. My hilarious sister who has become one of my best friends
  7. The brashness of my grandmother
  8. My boyfriend and the kind of true love that I never thought I would find
  9. The country that I live in where it is safe for me to say “my boyfriend” without fear of losing my job, or worse, because of it
  10. The freedom to actively and adamantly oppose the current government (#RESIST)
  11. The bravery of others in radical political resistance
  12. My high-school friends (small in number now, but mighty in memories and laughs when we do see each other)
  13. My college friends
  14. My grad school cohort
  15. My new friends that I met in New York City
  16. The greatest city in the world: New York
  17. The Hamilton Lottery (which, I won!)
  18. Theatre
  19. Broadway
  20. Music
  21. Musicals, for giving life to situations that go beyond words
  22. Art, in general
  23. Movies
  24. LGBTQ literature
  25. Free museums (thanks, NYU discount!)
  26. The stability of my job
  27. All the people that make my day job better
  28. The students that I work with, who remind me why I do what I do
  29. NYU – for giving me the opportunity to move to and work in my dream city
  30. The view from my office building
  31. The energy of Washington Square Park
  32. The bright lights on Times Square that always bring me up when I’m down
  33. The calm that comes over me when I visit Hudson River Park
  34. My ancestry and knowing who came before me
  35. Water fountains when I am especially thirsty
  36. My hair, and that I still have most of it
  37. The fact that, even if I start to go gray (which I already have), knowing that this is suddenly a fashionable trend
  38. The air I breathe, quite literally. Let’s all take a deep breath right now.
  39. Yellow flowers
  40. A good book that you want to stay up all night reading
  41. Literacy
  42. Writing in a coffee shop
  43. Finding a passion in writing
  44. Coffee shops with seating, outlets, and free wi-fi
  45. Strong, black coffee
  46. Soft pears
  47. Bookstores that smell like new paper
  48. Libraries
  49. Full bookshelves
  50. The smell of spring
  51. Drag, for teaching me that everything is a social construct, especially our own selves
  52. Ru Paul’s Drag Race for giving the gays their Super Bowl equivalent
  53. Social media for allowing me to keep in touch with friends and family
  54. The gay men and women that came before me, fought the prior battles, and positively impacted the world
  55. My education, from the first day of pre-K through my last day of graduate school
  56. The knowledge I gain from life circumstances
  57. Big, comfy sweaters
  58. Hot tea on a cold day
  59. The magic of snow
  60. Christmas!
  61. All-You-Can-Eat Sushi
  62. Going out to eat for a special occaison
  63. Going out to eat on a typical Tuesday
  64. Whole30, for teaching me to love cooking again, and for making me feel healthy again
  65. Having the privilege and ability to travel
  66. Seeing so many different parts of the world
  67. Having a place to sleep at night
  68. This lumpy couch I’m sitting on
  69. Clean water
  70. Penpals
  71. Sunshine as my alarm clock
  72. Being a morning person
  73. Being a first-generation college student
  74. Being a first-generation American
  75. Visiting family in Italy and gaining a deeper understanding of the culture
  76. Cruises
  77. My journal
  78. The habit of journaling
  79. The person that inspired me to start journaling regularly again
  80. Public transportation, for getting me where I need to be
  81. Tall buildings, that remind me that the world is bigger than myself
  82. Mentors who have given me guidance throughout my life
  83. Coffee chats with friends
  84. The twentysomething experience
  85. Sharp cheese
  86. Red wine
  87. The smell of lilacs
  88. Planet Fitness pens (I just love the purple color…)
  89. Self-love
  90. Confidence
  91. New socks
  92. The person that inspired this blog post
  93. Friendship anniversaries
  94. Walks around the park, just to go outside and get some fresh air
  95. Chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream
  96. The beaches on Cape Cod that remind me of home
  97. All the memories of my life that bring me joy
  98. The moments of my history that have made me who I am today
  99. This blog
    And lastly, I am grateful for:
  100. The journey

Friends, what a wild ride life is and continues to be. Recently, I’ve been stuck in a little bit of a rut, mostly due to my own impatience and expectations. But all will happen when it’s meant to be, and in the meantime, I am overjoyed to know that I have 100+ reasons to be grateful for everything else in my life.

So, thank you.

Living in the Limbo: Conquering Self-Doubt

It wasn’t until this year that I considered myself to be a writer. All of those books that I wrote and illustrated in the first grade didn’t count. That was just for fun. All the poetry I wrote throughout middle and high school didn’t matter. It was only for a grade. But when I finished the manuscript of my first book earlier this year, as a twenty six year old, something changed. I suddenly felt (surprisingly) comfortable saying: I am a writer.

Yet, lately, I have been feeling stuck in this limbo, because…I am filled with self-doubt in this potential career change. And what does it really mean to be a writer? Okay, so I’ve written a book, but does that make me a writer? It’s kind of like when people ask you, “Do you sing?” And your response would be, “…in the shower…?” I do write, but does that make me a writer?

It seems silly to switch paths now, I’ve caught myself thinking. I already have my masters degree in higher education, I’ve  already worked professionally for 5 years…who do I think I am? Just suddenly wanting to be a writer?! And besides, it’s much too late!

Friends, let me just say – it’s not too late to do whatever the hell you want to do with your life.

The average person will change careers 5-7 times during their working life! Not just jobs, careers. And based on a 2017 statistic, approximately 30% of the total workforce now changes jobs every 12 months.

So, I guess I don’t feel so bad anymore.

Yesterday, I walked into Barnes & Noble to do some writing. I felt that instantaneous combination of overwhelmed and inspired. As a writer, book stores bring out these emotions. It creates a sense of self-doubt (there’s no way that could ever publish a book and have it sold here) and also inspiration (maybe one day could publish a book that could be sold here). 

Walking through the front doors, I saw stacks of André Aciman’s highly acclaimed 2007 novel, Call Me By Your Name. And I thought to myself – I wonder what his journey has been like as an author?

And after doing some basic research and then mathematical calculations, I realized that by the time Call Me By Your Name was published, André Aciman was already 56 years old. Fifty six! And there I was, sulking about not being a New York Time’s Best Seller by the time I’m 25.

And just for some more perspective:

  • J.K. Rowling, beloved author of the Harry Potter series, published the first book in the series when she was 32.
  • Julia Child, well-known cookbook author and celebrity chef, published her first cookbook when she was 39. She made her television debut in The French Chef at age 51.
  • Jonathan Larson, the writer and creative mastermind of RENT, was 35 when he died. RENT was produced posthumously. Before RENT, he had worked in a diner in Soho.
  • Although Amy Poehler was in her late twenties when she began working with Upright Citizen’s Brigade, it wasn’t until she was 31 where she made her first hilarious appearance in Saturday Night Live.

All of this re-inspired me to keep writing, and to work through the self-doubt.

And whenever I find myself in this kind of place, I always think of these pieces of wisdom. It’s a journey, overcoming this self-doubt, one that I am still learning (especially in my writing). But alas, here we are:

  1. Life Timelines are a Social Construct
    • Who says you have to have your career figured out by the time you’re 25? Or married by 28? Or kids by 30? Who makes up these timelines, anyway? It’s all just a social construct. Or, in other words, society makes it up, and we don’t have to listen. We can be like André Aciman – write the next Call Me By Your Name when you are 56! For me, he’s given me new #goals.
  2. A Bad Day Doesn’t Mean a Bad You
    • I’ve had some bad writing days this week. Or, even worse, I’ve had days where I haven’t written at all. But I need to remember that a bad writing day doesn’t mean that I’m a bad writer. A bad _____ day doesn’t make you a bad _____. We are so much more than one or two bad days. Think of the big picture on this one.
  3. It’s Never Too Late To Start Something New
    • I’m only 27. Maybe I’m having a random life crisis because my birthday was just a few weeks ago. But whether it’s 27 or 57, it’s never too late to start something new. But I’ve also had to ask myself, is this a new hobby? A new interest? A new fun thing? Or does it go deeper than that? A new career? A new lifestyle? Either way, it’s all okay, as long as you reflect on what it means for you.

And to end this all on a positive note, two quotes from my favorite creative souls:

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
-Sylvia Plath
“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”
-Vincent van Gogh
Stay well, friends, and have a good week!

Whole30 or Bust: Getting Back on Track

Hello fam! And Happy Twentysomething Sunday!

As I was thinking about what to write for this week, I was overcome with ideas. I went to the gym on Monday (which, believe me, is worthy of writing about), Tuesday I did some after-work writing, Wednesday was Valentine’s Day, and on Thursday, I met one of my biggest literary inspirations, André Aciman. Yeah, it was a good week.

Yet, the one thing that kept pulsating in my mind, that I continuously felt the need to share with everyone, is that I’m currently doing Whole30.
#Whole30 #fitfam #cleaneating

Okay, I’m done with hashtags for now.

The reason why I feel like it’s so relevant is because doing Whole30 has literally changed every aspect of my life (and it’s only been 7 days)! Although, I will say, Day 7 is known as “Eat All the Things” day, and now I know why. I’ve come to know a new understanding of the word “hangry.”

It’s also relevant, because as you may have seen in last week’s post, I’ve gained some weight in my closer-to-30 age. And although the point of Whole30 isn’t to lose weight, it is certainly a perk.

First, I’m going to be upfront about the rules:

  1. Do not consume added sugar of any kind, real or artificial
  2. Do not consume alcohol in any form
  3. Do not eat grains
  4. Do not eat legumes
  5. Do not eat dairy
  6. Do not consume carrageenan, MSG, or added sulfites
  7. Do not recreate baked goods, treats, or junk food with approved ingredients
  8. Do not step on the scale or take measurements

I know what you’re thinking…who in the hell would ever want to do something like this?! It sounds awful! Well, to be honest, it kind of is. But it’s also kind of awesome.

But really, why would I choose to live my life without wine and cheese for 30 whole days? Well, here’s why:

  1. I needed to say goodbye to the food baby
    • For as long as I can remember, I’ve been carrying around a food baby. And no, not just after I eat a large meal. But randomly, 4pm, haven’t eaten in 4 hours: food baby. Just woke up, haven’t eaten anything yet: food baby. I needed a way to get rid of it.
  2. Free food became the only food
    • How lucky am I that my work always has free food?! Right? Wrong. I’m not exaggerating when I say: one week, I had workshops at 12pm and 5pm every day. Pizza was served at each workshop. And that week, I had pizza every day for lunch and dinner. And I couldn’t stop. I needed help.
  3. I didn’t think something like Butylated Hydroxyanisole should be an ingredient in my food
    • What is food, anyway? It’s hard to tell nowadays, with everything being so overly processed. I’ll never understand how flakes of cardboard can now be turned into “mashed potatoes” just by adding hot water. But, that’s our food today. I wanted to see what it would be like to only consume real foods, for what will probably be the healthiest month of my life.

And even though it’s only been 7 days, I’ve noticed so much change already:

  • My food baby is diminishing
  • I feel lighter
  • My jeans fit more comfortably
  • Cooking has actually become fun
  • I’m more thoughtful and more aware about the foods I’m eating
  • My social plans have been more creative (not just “let’s get drinks!”)
  • I just feel healthier

So, cheers to the next 21 days!

It’s been a fun journey so far, and I’ve learned a lot. I’ve been more thoughtful about my own life and my own behaviors around food and drink (i.e. why do I feel the need to drink every time I’m at a bar? Is it because everyone else is? Or do I truly want an alcoholic beverage?). I’ve also learned to be more aware of the ingredients in my food (i.e. I had no idea that sugar was added to so many meats, like bacon, or that carrageenan (a chemical additive known for chronic inflammation) is almost always found in deli meats). Seriously people, read your labels! And overall, I’ve learned that I am in control of my own health.

Also, P.S. this post isn’t meant to be an everyone-should-do-this type of post. It’s simply what’s working for me right now, as an older twentysomething, who seriously needed some changes in my lifestyle to positively impact my health.

What have you all found to be successful for you and your health in the older twentysomething time period?

Turning 27 & Gaining 27 Pounds

This picture of me was taken in November 2017. The caption read: Pretty Hurts. AKA my pants don’t fit and I can hardly breathe.

Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 10.37.05 PM

It was true, too. In my defense, I was on a cruise around the Mediterranean, eating my heart’s content of fresh Italian pasta, homemade mozzarella, and drinking endless glasses of wine. In the picture, I am wearing my “formal suit,” meaning I only bring it out on special occasions. I thought it was funny that my pants didn’t fit, since I had only worn the suit once or twice before, over a year ago (HA-HA).

It stopped being funny when I went to the doctor for my annual physical, the day before my 27th birthday, and realized that I had gained 27 pounds since the last time that I wore this suit, when it actually fit me. And I’m only slightly exaggerating.

A March 2000 study by the New England Journal of Medicine reported that the average adult between 25 and 44 years old gains 5 to 8 pounds per year. PER YEAR. That means, at this rate, I’ll be twice my current weight by the time I’m 60. Or, in the short-term, it means that I’ll be 15 to 20 pounds heavier by the time I’m 30, in just three short years.

[Cue to me crying in my bed, eating ice cream, and flipping through old college photos – a time where I could eat literally whatever the hell I wanted and still not gain a pound].

Please see exhibit A, from (believe it or not) my senior year of college, five years ago:

As I was leading up to my 27th birthday, and reflecting on getting older, two quotes came to mind:

  1. “When I was your age, I could eat anything I wanted and wouldn’t gain an ounce. Now, I have a chocolate shake and my ass jiggles for like a week.” -Adam Sandler, Big Daddy
  2. “They’re singing Happy Birthday / You just wanna lay down and cry / Why can’t you stay 29? / Friends are getting fatter / Hairs on you head are getting thinner.” -Jonathan Larson, 30/90, Tick Tick Boom

From these “Getting Old & Fat” quotes, and from my most recent doctor’s appointment, I realized I needed to make some serious changes:

No More Milkshakes*
*Unless I want my ass to jiggle for, like, a week. Seriously though, and maybe this is just a thing for people who work in Higher Education, but I could guarantee free lunch every single day (read: free pizza And although it’s great for my budget to just eat free pizza, we all know it’s not good for the waistline (apparently). What makes it worse is that I try to the adult thing of meal prepping a healthy lunch, which, usually just ends up sitting in the fridge all week until it turns into an unrecognizable slime. Eat the healthy meal. The pizza really does add up.

Hit the Gym
I think I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to the gym since the new year began. Back when that college photo was taken, I remember going to the gym on Saturday and Sunday mornings only, as a way to counteract the excess amount of alcohol I consumed, and the inevitable 2am pizza that followed. I could smell the vodka sweating out of my pores. And now, I have to go to the gym because, as stated above, I eat ONE little slice of pizza, or a chocolate milkshake, and my ass jiggles for a week. The problem is, for all the bad food I’ve been eating, no amount of gym time could make any difference. So, it’s all about the balance.

Age Gracefully
I say this as if I turned 67 last week, rather than 27. But I’m serious. Appreciate what you do have left, and that will make the other things seem less important. For example, I may have gained some weight in my “older age,” but I still have hair (thank God)! I’m still in good health. I still have an amazing support system of family and friends. Having an attitude of gratitude puts everything into perspective. Instead of feeling like the world is crumbling because I gained 20 pounds since college (which, believe me, it initially felt like that), I can now take a step back and realize that I have other aspects of my life that I’m thankful for, and that are more important.

For me, the idea of growing older has never been scary. I’ve always been a responsible and mature person, probably too much for my own good. So the idea of growing older just seemed natural to me. In my head, everything would be glorious. And now just one week after my 27th birthday, physically, it is not glorious. It’s not too late, but I do really have to be more conscientious of how I’m growing older.

And above all else, I feel like every year I’ve grown more into myself. This year is no exception. Growing older is more than saying no to a milkshake. It’s about learning how to love yourself, discovering and rediscovering your best self, and learning how to live in your truest, most authentic self. And for those lessons, I am eternally grateful to be turning another year older.


Recreating Home

My heart feels full full full, it feels so full.

I am back in Buffalo, NY and I have given more hugs in these past two days than I have in my entire time since leaving it. I’ve had more coffee chats these past two days than I have during my entire two years there. I have missed these people so, so much. And I didn’t even realize it until I found myself back in the All America City (no, not All American, All America).

My question is this – and maybe this isn’t the case for everyone – but why is it that, no matter what, every single time, you never realize how great something is until it’s gone? Buffalo, NY was never the place for me. It was okay, I’d say, maybe a 6 out of 10. And some days it was a 10, some days it was a 2. It really depended on the situation, on my mood. But something that always remained constant is that I knew I wanted to leave. I wanted to go to Europe, I wanted to go to New York City, I wanted to go to literally anywhere else other than Buffalo, NY.

And now, here I am, living in NYC, but longing for what I felt in Buffalo, when I didn’t even realize it. It’s like a warm cup of apple cider on a chilly fall afternoon, filling your entire soul from the top of your head to the tips of your toes, in and out, and all in just one sip.

Even right now, being out of the city, I feel the mark that New York City has imprinted upon me. This morning, when I was on my way to a coffee shop to meet a friend, I cut off an elderly man with a suitcase and a cane, walking right out in front of him. It wasn’t until I was minutes away that I realized that, maybe, I should’ve offered to help.

My time in New York City has been adventurous and flat. It’s been fulfilling in ways, empty in others. And now, I’m back in Buffalo, NY…where everything feels fulfilling…

Yesterday, I hugged one of my friends, one of my favorites from Buffalo, and I wanted to bottle that moment up forever into a little, tiny glass jar. Last night, I was holding hands with another friend across the table, and with just one look, we made each other cry amazing, happy, fulfilled tears. I’m getting emotional thinking about it now.

I suppose my point for the sake of this blog isn’t really a point, but a question. How do we get there? How do we create home? Because I know when I was in Buffalo, figuring out the same exact question, it felt like a never-ending misery. In fact, that’s why I started writing this blog! …to make myself feel better about the state of my life at that not-so-great transitional time.

And now, here I am, in another transitional time, where there is no warm-apple-cider-souls, no lifelong hugs, and no looks-that-make-you-cry friends. Although, I do have to say, I do have a couple really incredible friends in NYC, and they have made things infinitely better.

So, friends, how do you recreate all of these feelings? How do you carry them with you to a new place? How do you recreate home?