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things i buy to make myself feel better

The winter blues are R E A L. This time of year, when it’s cold and frosty and icy and snowy and dark and horrible, I turn to retail therapy more than ever to warm my chilly heart. I don’t need an excuse to shop, but if you know me, you know I’ll take one – especially in the name of self-care.

Skincare.

Though I’m pretty loyal to Better Skin Mirakle Cream, I like to dabble in other products. Currently I’ve been rotating through a bunch of moisturizing sheet masks and slathering on Farmacy’s Honeymoon Glow in an attempt to look alive.

Candles.

Want your apartment to smell like Anthropologie without having to go outside? All it takes is one of these candles, I swear. Something about the combined coziness and superb scent makes winter hurt a little less.

Summer clothes.

Or sandals, swimsuits, sunglasses…you get the idea. Just picture how great everything will look with sunkissed/burned skin and salty hair.

Overpriced coffee.

This isn’t an exclusively winter activity, but whenever I need to take break, I usually treat myself to some sort of flavored nut-milk latte that ends up being $7.

Flowers.

I spent a lot of time being single, and never had a problem buying myself flowers. still don’t.

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25 (not-so) ordinary things i’m grateful for

Today I am 25.

This year went by so fast, and a lot of it was incredible. Last year at this time, I was filled with hope. I was a month into a new job. Two months into a fresh relationship. I’d recently moved back to my childhood home. A year later, I transitioned to a new job that I love. My relationship has gotten stronger. I moved to an apartment in a new-to-me city. So, yeah, a lot of highlights for sure.

I feel like 25 is a monumental birthday. I’m 5 years closer to being thirty, flirty, and thriving. I’m halfway to 50. I’m 1/4 of the way through my life. Instead of spiraling into an existential crisis, I’m choosing to think about everything that makes me happy and everything I’m thankful for. Because isn’t it about the little things? Here are 25.

coffee shops that don’t charge extra for soy milk

snow that sticks to tree branches but not to streets

crossword puzzles

dogs

the people who love me

sunflowers

No Pudge! brownies

libraries

film photography

the fact that coffee has no calories

my passport

long weekends

wine

antique stores

my health

tinder (hi, boyfriend!)

melatonin

free shipping

The New York Times’s Modern Love column

used book stores

IKEA

student discounts

fake eyelashes

compression leggings

ice cream

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kim kardashian sleep gif funny
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how to fall asleep at night

You may or may not know that I’ve had a decade-long struggle with falling asleep at night. From racing thoughts to crushing anxiety, being a chronic worrier can have a pretty negative effect on your REM cycle. My New Year’s resolution a few years ago was to put more effort into getting better quality sleep…and lately, I’ve been feeling pretty well-rested. Here’s what I’m doing at bedtime these days.

sticking to a routine.

Soooo lame, but so helpful. Every night I do the boring stuff like take my vitamins and brush my teeth, but I also massage on my face cream, light a candle, and do the daily mini New York Times crossword. I think having a very specific set of tasks helps create a ritual that now lulls me to sleep each night.

physical exhaustion.

I’ve been exercising more than usual the past few months…partly because I want to look good on my upcoming vacation and partly because I’m still hunting for the perfect gym near my apartment. Even though going to spin or barre after work gives me a rush of endorphins, by the time I get home, shower, and eat dinner, I can barely keep my eyes open.

a little lavender.

I was pretty sure there was no scientific backing to the calming effects lavender boasts, but I recently read an NYTimes article that says otherwise! Anyway, I’ve been spritzing lavender pillow spray for years because it’s my all-time favorite scent.

melatonin, baby.

I’m still a sucker for this stuff. If I got a not-so-great sleep the night before, I’ll pop one of these to knock me out.

some tricky breathing.

I heard about the 4-7-8 method from one of my favorite writers – check our her guide to it here. I usually use this method when I’m feeling stressed or anxious (not just sleepless) since it’s very meditative.

Do you have any tricks for falling asleep?

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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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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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