the latest

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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places

my no-fail packing list

One of my resolutions for 2018 was to travel more, so I’m super excited to already have two trips planned. Both are long weekend adventures, so I’ll be squeezing everything into my carry-on suitcase. In addition to the basics like passports and tickets, I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks for making traveling as comfortable as possible.

Since you can’t bring liquids through airport security, I definitely suggest bringing an empty water bottle with you. Fill it up in the bathroom before you board, and keep track of it during the whole trip – paying for water is my biggest pet peeve, and unless you’re going somewhere where the tap water is undrinkable, keeping that bottle in your purse will save you lots of $$$.

Sunglasses are the #1 thing I ALWAYS forget, so those are usually the first thing on my packing list. Painkillers, like Advil, are another thing that is super annoying to spend money on when you’re supposed to be on vacation. Bring a small bottle with you along with your prescription meds.

What are some things that are always on your packing lists? Comment below!

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P.S. Pin this handy graphic to your travel-inspired Pinterest board for quick reference!

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true life: my 9-5 is killing me

I have always craved stability. When I graduated from college, all I wanted in the world was a standard 9-5 job. Though I didn’t land my dream job, I made enough money to pay rent, ball out a little, and still had time to work on my side hustle. I’ve since upgraded to a new position, but still feel like something is missing from my life.

Totally opposite to my craving for stability is my desire for a life worth living–and a fear of “settling.” One full of adventure, envy-inducing Instagram posts, and stories that will shock my grandchildren in 50 years. While I feel so incredibly fortunate to even be employed, I still feel like something is missing. I wish so badly that I would be content working at a desk job and living the suburbs. Life would be so much easier, but I know that it would kill me a little bit.

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When I was still in school, I remember looking at people like Yoga Girl and Chelsie Antos, waiting for it to be my turn to teach yoga in Aruba or go RVing around America with my hot husband. While neither of those things specifically will probably ever happen to me, you get the idea. I wanted to be mildly responsible, get my degree, make some money, and then start exploring the world. Now, I want my life to have a little more purpose: for myself (selfishly), and for others (also kind of selfish).

Until I can start making big moves (i.e. waiting for my lease to run out), I would love to hear your ideas for keeping life exciting in the space between M-F, 9-5.

Follow new york is my boyfriend on Instagram.

**Check out my updated (and very professional) portfolio. 

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i found my voice…again

The only truly bad¬†thing about getting paid to write is that something I have always enjoyed has turned into something I¬†have¬†to do. Budgeting time to turn everything in on time, following style rules of different publications, and being as professional as possible via email to make sure I get paid. I started tackling assignments with a mentality of “getting it over with,” a significant switch in mindset since I used to savor the time I spent working on this blog.

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My¬†blog has always been a creative¬†outlet. I can use as many Oxford commas and semi-colons as I want. And it’s gif galore up in here! The only opinion on this website is my own–though that sounds a lot more egotistic than I mean.¬†For the second half of my American educational experience, my teachers consistently complimented my voice as a writer. I didn’t fully grasp what they meant at the time, but as I started peer-editing my classmates’ work and copy editing for the school paper, I started to understand. I want my writing to feel like a conversation. It is unpretentious, it should hopefully make you crack a smile. I like to think that if we met in person, my voice IRL would sound like the one that comes through here.

In churning out as much work as possible to make that $$$, I realized that I started cutting corners on¬†authenticity, and my voice wasn’t as bright as it used to be. Thanks to some recent job changes on my part, I’ve had time to think about the kind of writer I want to be. And I sure as hell better be one with her own voice.

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5 things i learned after 5 months of freelancing

Even though I have a regular 9-5 job working at a magazine I’ve always admired, my side hustle has been especially lucrative lately. I’ve been doing a lot of freelance writing, simultaneously bulking up my portfolio as a writer and making some extra spending money. There’s something wonderfully appealing about freelancing…you can work from home (or anywhere in the world with an Internet connection), have flexibility with deadlines, and get to write about things that interest you.

I know some people do this full time–I’m not sure I ever could, since the money varies month to month, but so far it’s been a great way for me to profit from something I’m passionate about–and something I’d literally be doing¬†for free, anyway (cue: this blog). Here are five things I’ve learned since stepping up my freelance game in June.

1. It will take forever to get paid.

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Between waiting for invoices to be approved and checks to go in the mail, expect to wait a month until you see payment for your story.

2. Keep track of EVERYTHING.

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I write for multiple sites, and it quickly became difficult to keep track of who had paid me and who I still needed to send invoices to. I use Google Sheets to keep track of every story I sell, and note within this document which pieces have been invoiced and paid.

3. Follow up.

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Editors are busy–you’re probably one of many writers they deal with, so if you don’t hear back for a few days, don’t take it personally. Don’t be afraid to follow up…especially if they owe you money.

4. Use a dedicated workspace.

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Some people are good at working from home, and while I like the idea very much, I’m not one of them–though that may change once it gets colder and I don’t want to leave my apartment. If I have an overwhelming amount of work to do, I take my laptop to a local coffee shop and stay there until the battery dies.

5. Pitch as many ideas as you have.

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I send dozens of pitches a week, knowing that only a handful will get picked up. I’ve learned that I have a better chance of getting more stories picked up if I pitch more in the first place!

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can’t stop, won’t stop (thinking)

One of my earliest and most meaningful memories is from a school assembly I went to as a kindergarten student. I have no idea what the premise was for gathering a group of 5-12 year olds in the school’s gymnasium, but I clearly remember one woman introducing another–I couldn’t tell you whether they were firefighters giving a safety presentation or teachers being presented with awards, but the way this woman was introduced *literally* impacted my life. She was presented to myself and my fidgety, cross-legged sitting classmates as someone whose brain never shuts off, someone who is constantly thinking.

For some reason, this struck a chord with five-year-old me. I wanted to be the kind of person who was always thinking, the kind of person who woke up in the middle of the night with a great idea and kept a notepad on their¬†nightstand to record those inconvenient moments of brilliance. Whether or not my brain works this way because of this assembly, I’ll never know, but it¬†literally never shuts off. I’m not saying I’m a genius because I’m definitely not, but I am constantly thinking, and it’s actually super annoying.

Most of the ideas I have for posts on this blog come from random thoughts I have while binge-watching Family Guy at 2am or staring at my ceiling, sleeplessness c/o caffeine overdoses and insomnia. When I have new ideas for posts, I have to write a note to myself on my phone–plenty of times, I told myself I’d remember the next morning, but sure enough, those thoughts were lost to the void. Of course, quite often when I later look at the notes I typed when I was half-asleep, they’re incoherent and a little amusing.

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I like to tell prospective employers that I’m the kind of person who’s never not working–and it’s true. I may work 9-5 in an office everyday, but when I’m not freezing to death at my desk I’m pitching and writing¬†freelance pieces or pouring my heart into this blog. My brain is also never not working, though not always productively. I’m constantly thinking about the future, overthinking the past, and under-thinking how much sleep I need.

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