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what to do if you have the winter blues

I’m not a doctor, but I get especially gloomy as soon as the days get shorter, colder, and darker. I’ve never been diagnosed with SAD, but WebMD says I probably have it. Here’s what I do on particularly blue days.

go somewhere warm.

Tanning bed, sauna, bath tub, hot yoga (currently very into Sculpt at CorePower), or a tropical escape if you can spring for it. Find somewhere you can sweat out all those feelings and forget about your chapped knuckles.

laugh a little.

Yeah, I’ve seen every episode of The Office at least seven times, but I’m not stopping anytime soon. Watch a rom-com, favorite TV show, or stand-up special from the comfort of your cozy bed.

leave the house.

Though I definitely consider myself a homebody, I quickly start to feel cooped up during the winter months. Whether you bundle up and head to the nail salon, a pottery class, the book store, or a restaurant, it always feels great to get dressed and be a person.

make something good.

Winter is the perfect season to spend in the kitchen. From soups to sweets, the oven will warm your kitchen and the food will warm your heart.

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what it feels like when someone unfollows me

As a millennial, I’ve been engaged in most forms of popular social media since they entered the scene. I remember when Instagram was just a way to add filters to photos, not an engagement tool. I got a notification from Facebook last weekend that I joined the site ELEVEN years ago. (Chilling.) I remember when you could see other people’s top friends on Snapchat.

As a blogger and creative professional, I know how social media platforms are used to generate clicks which become monetized whether via advertisements (editorial) or direct sales (retail). I’ve used tools to track engagement and followers at work, and consequently applied the same practices to this blog and my personal pages.

For a while, I used a tool that notified me whenever someone unfollowed me on Instagram or Twitter. Instantly, my heart would sink.

Even as I checked out who the culprit was, I wondered why I cared so much. I tracked engagement for the Instagram page I run for this blog, which is less personal and more business-y to me, but getting the updates for my personal accounts was gut-wrenching. I wondered which tweet caused them to press that “unfollow” button, which photo on Instagram was so offensive that they couldn’t bear to see any more updates from me.

If it was someone I considered a “friend” or a mutual follower, this unfollow notice would hit me like a ton of bricks. To me, it was a statement that they were so disinterested in my life that I was no longer worth following. They deemed the very minimal engagement of seeing several posts a week from me as not worthwhile. I would quickly unfollow back. Why should I continue keeping up with them?

I think this bothered me so much because my social media platforms, especially Instagram, are carefully curated. While Twitter has turned into a different beast (mostly an outlet for me to complain and make observations about daily life), I work really hard to make sure my Instagram page consists of quality photos with witty captions. The selfies are rare. There are no #MCM posts. I don’t share something every day. I have never gone “Live.” All of the photos are in focus and well-filtered.

What was I doing wrong? Absolutely nothing.

When I got a new phone about a year ago, I decided not to re-download my follower tracking apps. I haven’t changed my Instagram practices. I love sharing photos not only to interact with my followers, but to keep a record of my life. I love being able to go back and see what I was up to a year ago. Or check out the name of the restaurant I went to on my second date.

My Instagram page captures the best parts of my everyday life…and even when I see my follower count go up and down, I remind myself that the people who really care about me will stick around through even the worst selfies. As long as you’re living your best life, who really gives a damn?!

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how to get out of a slump

I don’t know about you, but every once in a while I hit a slump. Sometimes it’s a productive one, where I can’t focus on anything and feel brain-dead. Sometimes it’s emotional, when my anxiety is at an all-time high and I’m psychoanalyzing things that don’t need to be psychoanalyzed. Here’s how I bring myself back to earth.

Scroll through Tumblr.

I freaking loved Tumblr in high school and my early years of college, but now I mostly use it when I need to relax and regroup. Something about scrolling past photos that appear in no order but still speak to me is very cathartic.

Exercise.

Can’t get a text back from the guy I like? Head to spin class. Feeling stressed or unfocused? Let’s pedal it out. Endorphins are real, you guys.

Shop.

Not online shop, but in-person. Like at Target or Whole Foods, preferably when they’re not crowded. Push a cart through the aisles and breathe in the organized-ness.

Have a snack.

Not an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s or a whole pizza (trust me, I know it’s hard), but something nourishing that your mom would approve of. Like an apple with peanut butter, or a grilled cheese sandwich. You know – one of the classics.

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my mental happy place

I’ve written before about my sleep struggles and frequent anxiety. These are two of my least favorite things about myself, and when they join forces at midnight, I know I’m in for a night of laying flat on my back trying to slow a racing heart, or scrolling through the “Discover” section of Instagram wondering why everyone else has a better life than I do.

I was at a Girl Scout sleep-away camp once, years ago, and felt ill-at-ease among the overly assertive counselors and cliquey girls. One of said counselors, who had nicknamed herself “Willow,” did her best to help me sleep, asking me to close my eyes and picture lovely things like waterfalls and open meadows. It helped.

Later, in high school, I occasionally went to a stress reducing/teen-focused yoga class after school. After going through the motions, we’d end class by laying flat on our backs, palms upward, lavender pillows over our eyes (still my favorite smell). Our instructor, Alison, would narrate some lovely meditation that pretty instantly made me fall asleep.

This can’t be a coincidence. Though I prefer to ease my anxiety during the daytime hours with more realistic, rational solutions, bedtime is for dreaming. Over the last decade, I’ve really honed in on my happy place – the dream world I create in my head, a life I fantasize about. It’s not exotic or anything special, really, but it’s something I continue to come back to, and for whatever reason, it makes drifting off to sleep so much easier.

I live in a small house by myself, in the woods, but walking distance from town. I bake a lot of bread and go to the farmer’s market often. I don’t have a computer. I read and paint a lot. I mainly wear dresses and silk nightgowns. I have a garden filled with plants I’ve managed not to kill. Sometimes it’s raining and I plop myself in front of a fireplace or in the giant clawfoot bathtub. (As I’m writing this, I feel kind of pathetic because most of these things are totally doable. We’ll see.)

Every once in a while I’ll scroll through Tumblr or Pinterest and see a photo that instantly transports me to my constructed happy place. Here are a few of those.

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five summer footwear staples

It shouldn’t be a secret that I love shoes. Especially of the open-toe variety. So, I pretty much live for warm-weather footwear. I really think women’s shoes have been having a renaissance, and these are some styles I’m lusting after this season.

White Leather

Something about smooth white sandals is just so appealing this time of year. These would look just as great with a t-shirt dress as a pair of cut-off denim shorts.

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hot, hot, heat. SCAMP in white patent. ☁️

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Feminine Flair

Brother Vellies makes a similar shoe (the Burkina sandals) and I love the understated femininity of gathered fabric in a pastel color.

Block Heel

Ah, a style I will NEVER tire of. I own so many sandals and shoes with a block heel, and I adore them all. It’s the chicest and most comfortable way to add an inch or two to your height.

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Pink Jardin Heels

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Woven Elements

If you’re over espadrilles, take a gander at summer shoes that incorporate raffia/straw or something else that looks like a picnic basket for your feet.

Something See-Through

Channel your inner Kardashian and find a sandal with some kind of plastic-y element. Tip: these Who What Wear shoes are literally $30 at Target. They have a higher-heeled version, too.

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places

travel vignettes: stockholm

licorice
blonde
skansen
kanelbullar (cinnamon buns!)
reindeer
krona
monteliusvägen
fries
smørrebrød
IKEA

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picture by Anna Berger

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calories worth consuming

It’s no secret that I love to eat. I appreciate all kinds of food, whether it’s a super fancy pizza or an old standby, like a vanilla cone from Dairy Queen. A lot of times, I’d rather skip a snack or wait for something better instead of “wasting” calories on a food item not worth its value in flavor.

I gave up “sweets” for Lent, and though I’ve had a few pieces of banana bread (technically a breakfast food!!) and some dark chocolate (to scare off starvation in Iceland!), it’s been a challenge. I usually end each day with something sweet – often a scoop of frozen yogurt (Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food is a go-to) or something dipped in chocolate hummus. It’s gotten me thinking about the foods that are worth eating, no matter how much fat or sugar it contains. Here’s my definitive list.

Ice cream.

I only buy frozen yogurt or low-fat ice cream to keep at home, so when I go “out” for ice cream, I want the good stuff. Full fat. Maybe a waffle cone. Maybe a sundae if I’m feeling famished.

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the best things in life are pistachio-flavored 🍦

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Wine.

Especially rosé. Especially in warm weather.

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Necessary. #humpday #rosé #repost @quaintrellebyab

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Pizza.

Again…the good stuff. Stringy mozz. Not-too-sweet tomato sauce. Lots of fresh basil. Maybe some kind of spicy pork product. Mike’s Hot Honey if you have it.

Doughnuts.

I probably have four doughnuts a year, so they need to be good to be worth eating. One of this allotment is reserved for an apple cider doughnut each fall. In January, I had a doughnut from Kane’s, a Boston icon that lived up to the hype.

Brunch.

Belgian waffles, pancakes, and allll the whipped cream. Plus maple syrup. And fresh berries. Nothing like a midday sugar high.

Good bread.

I told you I’m obsessed with carbs. Not sandwich bread, or pita bread, but real, crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside bread. Preferably with lots of Kate’s butter and a little salt on top.

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