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little things i get excited about

I’m the type of person who always needs something to look forward to, whether it’s an exotic vacation or a brunch reservation. In part of my ongoing journey to happiness/self-love/daily joy etc etc, I’ve taken some time to reflect about the ordinary things in life that make me happy.

restaurants that give you a postcard with the bill

really good nail polish colors (currently obsessed with this one.)

clean sheets after a long day and a hot shower

making someone laugh

wearing new shoes for the first time

leftover foam at the bottom of your cappuccino

holding hands

picking out a perfect candle at Home Goods

popcorn at the movies (with a borderline disgusting amount of butter)

getting mail that isn’t spam or a bill

drinks that come with maraschino cherries

featured gif by Libby VanderPloeg
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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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anxious allison

When I get anxious, I write. I always have, and I probably always will. I don’t know whether it’s the act of writing itself or the public sharing that makes me feel better. But there’s something about leaving it all on a page somewhere whether in a journal or on here, my corner of the world wide web.

I’ve been anxious for as long as I can remember. Not butterflies before a recital or first date jitters, but nail-biting, vomit-inducing, near-crippling anxiety. Go to bed at 8pm and sleep for 14 hours anxiety. Watch a movie that I know will make me cry so I can feel like I’m releasing something anxiety. Laying in bed unable to sleep, heart beating three times as fast as it should anxiety.

Anxiety over everything and anything. It goes up and down, of course. Stable relationships help. So does regular income. Reassurance from loved ones. Regular exercise. A routine. Basically, anything that makes me feel like I have some control over my life.

But often after I get a mixed signal, whether from someone in my personal or professional life, I start to spiral. I think about how little I really do have control over. I start to question every little thing I’ve ever done and fixate on all of my mistakes. I ask why I’ve done so little (traveling, socializing, corporate ladder climbing) compared to my peers.

I take a deep breath. Or four.

Close my eyes. Imagine all of the possibilities of what my life could be like this time next year. In five years. In ten years.

I fight through the bad. Unemployment. Aloneness. Loss.

I imagine the good things. Another stamp in my passport. Another degree. A healthy body. A home. A walk-in closet. A baby. Two babies. Happiness.

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boyfriend, the latest

things that are ruined for me because i shared them with boys

The best and worst part of dating someone is sharing your favorite things and places with them, thus building memories. But when the relationship ends, these moments aren’t so happy anymore and going to your favorite pizza place or watching something on Netflix just reminds you of them and makes you sad. Well, it makes ME sad.

“Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison

Used to be my favorite song to play while I was driving in the summer in convertible mode (all the windows down, sunroof open) in my high school car. Not anymore. Sigh.

My favorite restaurant (Lil’ Frankie’s)

My favorite place in the world. My late-night spot, my hangover helper, my joie de vivre. Carbohydrate Capital of NYC. I love you. I don’t love that I shared you with someone who didn’t love me.

My favorite TV show (The Office)

I’ve loved you for so long…why did I watch you with boys who didn’t text me back? I hate that we compared our favorite characters (Dwight, Meredith & Creed), preferred episodes (all the Christmas ones), and the cutest Jim & Pam moments.

My favorite tacos (Tacombi)

Yeah, there’s a lot of food on this list. But what can I say? I know how to eat.

 

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24 years later

Another year older, another year (I feel a little) wiser. Birthdays are bittersweet for me, but when I think about where I am on today, this year, versus where I was on this day last year (job-hunting, dating two jerks, unhappy), I feel so, so, so, so, so grateful.

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I made a lot of hard decisions at the end of my 23rd year…I chose to take a break from New York, to leap for a job outside of my comfort zone, to re-evaluate my priorities in life, and to really set goals for myself. I’m really happy with these decisions so far, and I’m so goddamn excited for my 24th year.

My birthday always makes me think about the future. Will I feel different next year, when I turn 25? What about 28? Or 30? Will I be married? Have kids? A mortgage? Stop coloring my hair?  It’s a mystery, but there is definitely some stuff I want to accomplish in the next few years. So, true to form, I’ve made a list. And I’ve given myself a pretty big window. Anything I should add?

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places

travel vignettes: HAWAII

coconut oil
mahalo
pineapple
palm trees
aqua
surf boys and surfboards
roadside stands
luau
fire dance
macadamia nuts
sunshowers

Where to go & what to do in Hawaii, from a frequent visitor.

i traveled to hawaii in third grade and eighth grade and wrote this list in march 2012.

follow new york is my boyfriend on tumblr.

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