Posts in lifestyle
Exercises in Writing

Like most habits, writing uses its own distinct muscle. It becomes less straining with regular exercise, can easily be overworked, and brings the same fears of imposter syndrome that working out in public often inspires.

My shelves are filled with notebooks empty of words but full of good intentions — somehow in Target I manage to convince myself that a different page ruling or interesting color is all I need to actually stick to a physical habit. Even as a kid, I remember picking up and discarding those journals with miniature keys and "Secret Diary" scrawled on the cover repeatedly. I think I always wanted to write, but nothing holds me back more than my own expectations.

I read a number of biographies as a child that were reconstructed using journals, so therefore I had to be sure that anything I wrote down would be important enough to one day be included in a posthumous account — that's a lot of pressure for a 10-year-old! As I've aged I've shaken that notion, but the fear of permanence and inadequacy still remains.

While keeping a blog is a joy, I want to continue pushing myself in other ways so I don't get stuck. My first exercise is keeping a bullet-style gratitude journal. I started on my birthday and have been consistent since, and the bullet format allows me to be silly and feel less pressure (i.e. including "pasta" as a bullet point is fun, writing a sentence about why I'm thankful for pasta could quickly feel superfluous). I've yet to have any revelations of thankfulness like many proponents of this exercise will lead you to believe, but I am putting pen to paper every day and I think that's gotta count for something!

Once I get fully in the swing of this, I plan to add other small exercises as well. While I remember disappointingly little from my creative writing classes, I do remember we always started the semester out with small tasks that grew into large portfolios. Like most things in life, writing is fun, fulfilling, and hard — but I no longer want to make it out to be a huge, important task that I could never master. In doing small exercises, I want to break down my own stigmas surrounding the hobby and just do it in a way that feels most authentic to me. 

The Things That Bring Peace

Whether it be sadness, anger, or some other feeling, there are so many influences on how we feel day-to-day. I've been thinking a lot about the things that bring joy and peace to our lives, and how we can hang onto that feeling in times of sadness and chaos.

We went to Muir Beach over the weekend, which was glorious. A weird thing about me is that I hate wind...I blame growing up with horses, as windy days always make them rather temperamental. While living right by the Pacific is lovely, the beaches we have definitely are not what everyone thinks of when they think of the California coast. Between fog, freezing water, and whipping winds, a day at the beach can be downright miserable if the weather isn't right.

However, we picked — no exaggeration — the perfect day to go. Sunny, slightly breezy and wonderfully warm, we couldn't have asked for better weather. I was in heaven, and Rusty was, too! It was one of those moments where life cuts you a break, and you can stop to think to yourself, "gee, this is really, really wonderful." 

As someone who has a hard time being ~chill in everyday life, I'm trying really hard to focus on those moments. I don't know if that will help me be calmer or more collected, but logically, I think it should. If nothing else, I'll be focusing more on life's peaceful moments, which can't be a bad thing anyhow. 

p.s. If you're one of those effortlessly "cool as a cucumber" type people, HOW do you do it plz teach me your ways??

Finding Your Own Guideposts

Many things seem like they should be a black and white issue. If two is added to two, four should occur. However, the saying "life isn't black and white" isn't an exaggeration — there are some things that are objectively right and objectively wrong, and the rest is up to us to decide.

Morality isn't always an easy thing to talk about. Coming from a culture where your morals were deeply ingrained into your religion can be especially confusing, because the same book can give wildly conflicting advice with the turn of a page. When you can find a passage to admonish or support anything out of context, the right/wrong issue becomes even more muddled.

That's not to say that's wrong, and in fact, furthers my point: morality leans heavily on how you interpret the world around you. I believe it's true that humans can justify anything they want to; even if they know they're wrong in the beginning, they can suppress that inner voice and convince themselves they're on the best path possible. Humanities' great atrocities weren't a result of everyone ignoring their better judgment — they were a result of people convincing themselves that they were making the best judgment call possible with the cards in their hand. And when you combine that with someone who is an influential and charismatic public speaker? The whole world can easily start to believe that even the most objectively wrong things are right given the situation.

Because things can get so muddled, finding your own guideposts is crucial to navigating this messy thing we call life. Someone's interpretation of scripture or political speeches or the law can steer you wrong just as easily as it can steer you right, and blindly believing anything is rather dangerous. Being sound in your own conscience allows you the freedom to disagree, regardless of who asks you to go against your better judgment or what justification they give to their decisions. 

There are opinions coming from everywhere — news stations, mentors, respected officials, family, and friends — and sometimes getting outside guidance is good. However, I urge you to find the truth within yourself before you seek the truth in others. Connect with your conscience and let it guide you, and don't let anyone justify to you what you know to be wrong. When you quit listening to explanations, excuses, and out-of-context justifications, you might be surprised at just how black, white, and non-partisan being a good human can be.

"When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God." —Leviticus 19:33-34

In The Wake Of Sadness

What a devastating week of news. I know there have been so many resources posted and anecdotes about the importance of mental health shared, but I couldn't avoid addressing it with a clear conscience. 

There have been many shares of the suicide prevention hotline, which is wonderful (1-800-273-825), but I do think it's important to note that calling a hotline is NOT for everyone. As someone who gets nervous to talk on the phone, I could never imagine calling a random number to ask for help. Additionally, oftentimes the suicide hotline will immediately refer someone to a local crisis center — something that can be terrifying if you're already in a place of fear. So while sharing any and every resource is good and should absolutely continue, remember there are things we can do every day to help those who are struggling.

Remember to check on your friends. Anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and other mental health ailments are so hard to battle because of the way they change your thinking. If you've convinced yourself that no one wants to hear from you, that you're not worthy of friendship, and/or that no one cares, of course you're going to have a hard time reaching out to someone — even your family or the closest of friends — if you're struggling. For many people, it's difficult to understand this way of thinking because it's so foreign if you've never experienced it. However, if you have been trapped in this mindset, you know just how powerful it can be.

And reaching out doesn't have to be a huge, scary conversation, either! You may not feel qualified to talk to a friend about mental health in depth, and that's ok! I can only speak for myself, but I know that when I've been in unhealthy mental places it's been hard to confront the issue head-on. However, I will always remember the friends who invited me to tag along to a party, randomly said hey after a long lull in communication, or drew me out even a little as I was feeling my lowest. These sweet, seemingly random little touchpoints can mean so much to someone who is struggling...especially when an inherent part of their struggle is feeling that no one cares.

I can't recall a time in my life where I haven't struggled with anxiety. From being terrified to leave my mom to having a constant fear the rapture would leave me “left behind” (that's southern baptists for ya), that feeling has always seemed inherent to my personality. As I got older, it manifested itself more in social anxiety and totally irrational fears about my pets’ health, but it’s still something that affects every thought I have. Even at 22, I’m still learning about all the things that are a result of it, and doing what I can to be better. And having people in my life along the way who are understanding and receptive to this has made all the difference.

While tragedies are something we cannot control, we can control how we behave in their wake. It's so essential that those who can share do, and those who listen to show empathy. While this is a multi-faceted, societal problem, people feeling comfortable sharing is the first step in changing the status quo. Storytelling is the basis of human connection; if those who are brave enough to share their stories can do so without being labeled selfish, attention seeking or crazy, maybe more people will be brave enough to speak up. And when some speak up and others listen with the intent to understand, beautiful things can happen. So to paraphrase my one of my favorite quotes, let us not listen with the intent to reply, and instead listen with the intent to hear.

Finally, I urge you that if you’re in a good mental space, check on your friends and family today. Being a generally good, compassionate, empathetic human could quite literally save a life.

6 Moving Musts

Considering how many times I've moved in my life (and that I used to work at a moving company!) it's kind of ironic how much I hate it.

Having a sense of home is something that's so important to me, and every time I move, my first priority is re-establishing that. Getting my plants settled, hanging things on the walls, and getting all of Bird's things placed around make a big difference about how I feel about a place.

That being said, I do love our new rental—lots of natural light and giant windows!—but there are still empty walls and nooks that still need filling to make it look like home. While things like that will have to come in time, I did want to list out some "musts" I've come up with for the moving process. 

After a cross-country and a cross-town move in the past year, there are quite a few things I'm happy I did and several things I wish I would have done differently. I know spring/summer is the biggest time for moving, so hopefully this will help if you're coming up on a lease change!

1. Start Sourcing Supplies Early. This is such a weird thing, but I've been shocked at how difficult boxes and packing paper is to come by. I started watching Craigslist and Nextdoor 2-3 weeks before the move, and I still barely got the boxes in time. You can always buy them from Home Depot or a box truck store, but scoring them for free is SO much better. I also started saving those random junk fliers that come in the mail about a month before our move, and that plus some packing paper we got for free was more than enough for our glassware.

2. Pack Smart, But Efficiently. My packing system might not make much sense to the untrained eye, but it allows you the least amount of stuff to move so I'd consider it efficient. I always try to group things by areas of the house (i.e. kitchen, bathroom, etc.), but I also make sure no box goes unfilled! Don't get so committed to having an organized system that you're leaving lots of empty space in each box. More boxes = more trips, and I'm not on board with that.

3. Plan For Your New Place In Advance. I haven't done this the past 2 times I've moved, and I so wish I had. Now that we're in our place, it feels like there's SO much we need to buy to settle in. Random things like rugs and end tables can still add up in price, especially if you're looking for quality pieces. I wish I would have measured better and started sourcing these things beforehand, so I could get settled faster (and break it up over multiple credit card statements 😅).

4. Take Your Time. Another thing I haven't done the past 2 times we've moved. When we moved to California, I think we had 3 days between our last day of work and the day we moved—NOT enough time. Because of the nature of my job now I don't really take "time off", but I was literally sending emails as boxes were going out the door this time around. In hindsight, I would've at least thrown up an OOO message for the actual moving day instead of thinking I could do everything at once.

5. Shop Around For Trucks. Don't just assume UHAUL is the cheapest! We shopped around and found a Budget Truck coupon and bought our own tie-downs instead of renting them, meaning our entire move only cost us $50. If we hadn't done the legwork, it would have been almost twice that!

6. Keep Track of What You Need To Change. I didn't do this super well this time, and now I'm definitely playing catchup for small things like billing addresses and big things like dentists. Thankfully we're in the same county so there isn't a ton that's different, but it's still good to plan everything out. (p.s. Don't forget to update your voter registration—midterm elections are coming up! In California you do it online when you change your license, but every state is different.)

This isn't an exhaustive list, but I do think it's good to come up with the little things you might not necesarrily think of! Do you have any moving musts I left off?

What I'm Loving | 8/27/2017

It's been such a great week! The perfect blend of activities and HGTV, lots of tasty, home cooked meals, and my birthday. I really couldn't have asked for more. Speaking of HGTV, the best thing I ever did is get Harley hooked on House Hunters - it's my favorite and now he loves it too! It's so fun to see people pick out their homes, and we're also big fans of Fixer Upper with Chip & Joanna. Basically anything on HGTV is a conversation starter, so it's not just sitting side by side with the TV on which I love. It's a great way to spend time together and unwind at the end of the day.

Books :: I'm about halfway through Middlesex, and I'm enjoying it tremendously. The author has a supremely engaging tone, but it's still light enough to read in little snippets on the train.

Listening :: Honestly not a ton. I've been extremely indecisive about music for some reason, so I've just opted to put my saved music on shuffle while I read on the train.

Spare Time :: Birthday stuff! My birthday was Wednesday, and we went out for dinner and drinks yesterday to celebrate. Aside from that I've just been taking it easy - my energy threshold is already lower now that I'm 22.

Style :: This bag. It was one of my birthday presents and I am in loooove. It's the perfect size for commuting, but isn't too business-like where I wouldn't want to carry it on the weekend. It's the perfect tote!

The weather this week is supposed to be mid-seventies every day, so hopefully there's another great week to come!

What I'm Loving | 8/5/2017

It's my birthday month! Traditionally I wasn't a fan of August overall, because the Tennessee heat was too sweltering to enjoy doing anything that didn't involve air conditioning. It's actually been a chilly start to August here in SF so I'm learning to love it again! There's so many outdoor activities to enjoy and the weather has been near-perfect every day. Here's what I'm loving lately:


Books :: I SWEAR I'll finish it soon, ok? I've just been back into podcasts again and haven't made time :(

Listening :: Lany by Lany is extremely catchy and lighthearted, so perfect for some every day listening.

Spare Time :: Playing with my camera! I finally found a D3400 on a great deal, so I've been learning the ropes of that every chance I've gotten. It's so fun to experiment with, and way better than taking pictures on my iPhone.

Style :: Faux leather jackets. I had a one from Express ages ago (like, high school) that ended up getting too tight in the shoulders. We didn't have a lot of "in between" weather days in TN, but here light jackets like this are exactly what you need basically every day. Nordstrom has a few on their anniversary sale I have my eye on!

---------- So thankful it's the weekend!

What I'm Loving | 7/30/2017

This has been a great, crazy week! It seems like I've had something going on every day and I've barely had time to think. I headed to San Jose on Friday to work at our office down there, then met up with Harley and some friends for drinks. Saturday morning was surfing lessons in Santa Cruz and Saturday evening was John Mayer (two bucket list items in one day!). I definitely thrive on being busy, but I'm so excited to just chill out for the rest of the day to recouperate. 

Here's what I'm loving lately:


Books :: Ugh, STILL reading the Unbearable Lightness of's a great read, I've just had a packed schedule this week. I'm about three fourths of the way through though, so I should be finishing it up soon.

Listening :: Lots of John Mayer from the archives! In preparation for his concert I made sure to brush up on his discography. It's amazing how you can love songs and completely forget they exist, so that was a great refresher and a total throwback.  Spare time :: Socializing, and lots of it. I had an event I organized for work, some friends in from out of town during the week, and the trip to San Jose for work and Santa Cruz for surfing. It's been busy, but I'm happy to be building my network! Style :: Colored jeans. This have been trendy for a bit now, but I'm always so late to the game on those things. I started with a pair of black jeans which quickly became my most-worn pair. I also got a hunter green pair recently, and have been eyeing some burgundy ones as well. It's such a fun way to make a statement!

---------- Keep an eye out for a post detailing my surfing adventure soon!

What I'm Loving

IMG_1726Happy Sunday! I don't know who decided that Friday and Monday should be so close together, but I think they made a grave mistake. Weekends are the best, and I think if every weekend was a three day weekend we'd all be a lot happier. Here's a quick roundup of what I've been loving lately!

Books :: I'm in between books right now, but the last one I finished was Yes Please. I'm a big Amy Poehler fan so getting to hear about her life was great. I also loved the portions where she talked about working on SNL back in the day! I think my next read will be The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I have not seen the movie but I've heard it's great, so I'm excited to read the book first!

Listening :: I've always enjoyed podcasts, and lately I've been incorporating them into my commute. I'm obsessed with Let's Not Panic. I actively look forward to them releasing new episodes, and their relationship dynamic is so entertaining! I also think if we met, we could be best friends. Additionally I quite enjoy the Modern Love podcast (by the New York Times) and try to keep up as they release new episodes of it.

Spare time :: Family time! My parents have been visiting this week and it's been great. It's their first time in SF and they are loving it! Unfortunately they leave tomorrow, but it's been so fun getting to show them around this past week.

Style :: I love these new shoes called Allbirds. I hadn't heard of them until last week, and since then I've seen them all over! They're made here in San Francisco and people swear they're the most comfortable shoes. I've needed a new pair of runners for a looong time so these are definitely on my list.

May your weeks be long and your weekends be short!

Saving Money in the Most Expensive City

IMG_1762Money management is one of the most difficult things about being on your own. I think this would resonate anywhere, but after moving somewhere so expensive it has especially sunk in. Although housing is definitely more expensive, the inflation on things like groceries and household items isn't so bad. Fruit and vegetables are actually a lot cheaper here, and overall it seems like we're able to get higher-quality foods for comparable prices. On the flip side, eating out and any kind of event is far more expensive so it's a balance for sure. Below you'll find my tips for how I budget to ensure I still get to go have fun!

  1. Walk everywhere! When it comes to getting into the city I absolutely take the subway, but once I get there I walk the majority of places I go. I'll take a bus if I'm headed somewhere super far, but it's extremely rare for me to use a taxi or Lyft. Granted, I would love to be able to get carted around the city. The cost just adds up so quickly (and the exercise is a great excuse for eating more ice cream!).
  2. Cook at home. Between all the wonderful restaurants and all the food delivery services, this sometimes takes the most self control. Thankfully I do like cooking, which makes it easier! I try to make sure if I'm getting food out, it's an experience (i.e. going out to lunch with coworkers vs. picking up a sandwich and eating at my desk). I honestly don't think I could just not eat out, but making sure I'm frugal when I do helps a ton! Another tip for this is checking local deals around town! When we're deciding where to eat on the weekends, we always try to find a place that has bar snacks for happy hour and go during that time.
  3. Live in the suburbs. I have this wonderful vision of myself living in central San Francisco, opening the curtains of my floor to ceiling bay window, and looking out on the popular-but-not-too-crowded street below. Unfortunately, that isn't in the budget and I'm not sure it ever will be. What is in the budget is a nice apartment in a safe neighborhood, in walking distance to some fun stuff and the subway station. I dread my commute every day, but that's not nearly as bad as dreading overdrafting my bank account to pay rent!
  4. Space out purchases. When the paycheck hits your bank account, it can be so easy to rush out and get everything on your To Buy list. Don't do this! I've had to make several big purchases because of the move (and because of wanting things, of course!) and I've done my best to make them as far apart as possible. Having a good sense of priority is key. I want another dresser for the bedroom, but I need cat food, so the dresser can wait until the next paycheck rolls around.
  5. Take advantage of coupons and deals. We have sites here that offer free tickets to comedy nights, apps that give you a percentage off if you order through them, and mailing lists that will let you know when ticket prices for events are dropping. I utilize all of them. It can be a little overwhelming to keep track of what deals are where and when, but it's a great way to go have all the fun for a portion of the price!

Compromising on getting things you want sucks, and budgeting sucks too. What doesn't suck is the feeling of knowing you're in control of your finances and are planning for the future! Yes, I really do want to brunch, but I want an emergency fund even more (and I make some dang good french toast anyway!).