Tuesday, January 30, 2018

OOTD: Setting Goals After School

Photos by Cassidy Hopkins

As long as I can remember, I've loved my to do list and planner.

It all started with those school-supplied agendas we got in elementary school. Ours always had messages about productivity to inspire us 10-year-olds to make sure we were getting as much done as possible, which, looking back, was a little weird.

I've spent years developing my personal organization system (you can skip down to the bottom if you're just here for the organization tips). I've experimented with all-paper systems (one of which required me to carry around 3 notebooks at all times) all-digital systems, and a mix of both.

As long as I've spent working on this system, I've always worked within the confines of the schedule assigned to me by my school. The benefit of being in school was that my life had built-in structures for my time. I had due dates for assignments and applications, and I always new what my next 5 steps looked like. Next quarter, I had to make sure to take the next stats section, and I needed to apply for internships by the end of the quarter.

Life post-grad is a completely different story. Sure, I receive due dates at work and I'm supposed to go to the dentist once a year, but my life is largely up to me to structure.

It's so easy to lean into this freedom, a freedom I have for the first time in 22 years. It's so easy to address problems only when they come up — to only go to the doctor when there's something wrong, only evaluate my career path when I need a new job, only think about my financial future when my bank account is running on empty.

Going with the flow and addressing problems as they come up is not by any means a wrong or bad way to live life. It simply isn't the way I choose to live. One of the most important things I realized in my 22nd year was that I have control over a number of things in my life. Making attainable long-term goals is an important way for me to exercise control over my own life.

This year, I'm experimenting with a system of setting measurable goals and less-quantifiable intentions, both short-term and long-term. I've broken my goals and intentions into 4 sections: yearly, quarterly, monthly, and weekly/daily.

Before I describe how I utilize this system, I want to explain what I mean when I say "goals" and "intentions," because I am not using these words interchangeably. Good goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. As one of my professors once put it, good goals are SMART. I like to use the word "intentions" when talking about the kind of person I want to be and the kind of daily habits I want to form. "Be healthier" is an intention, then, while "run a marathon" is a goal.

The first list I started on was my yearly list. I talk about my intentions continuously with my social support system and in therapy. This year, I want to work on not shying away from necessary confrontation and finding enjoyment in things without having to be good at them.

Going into this year, I had a couple goals for my future that I think I could realistically achieve this year. Among them are moving ahead in my career, visiting a couple friends, and setting up a health network for myself in New York.

From here, I can break down my goals into bite-size pieces to achieve throughout the year. My quarterly goals to help me on my way to moving ahead at work are to introduce a new kind of content to my platform and analyze our top-performing videos. One of my monthly goals for the month of January was to schedule appointments with a dentist and a dermatologist.

I break these goals down even further in my daily/weekly to do list. Last week, I knew I'd have some free time on Friday, so I gave myself the task of putting together a presentation outlining the kind of content I'm proposing for the reference of my team.

I'm hoping that instituting this system will help me get organized enough to be able to accomplish what I want to do in life. I'm finding it hard to set goals for myself when others aren't setting goals for me (take these classes, find a job, complete this assignment, etc). I'm nervous, but I'm also excited to spend this year and the rest of my life figuring out what I want to do and figuring out how to do it.

This top was provided by Top Tier Style

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

One year in NYC

Welp, a year has come and gone since I moved to New York on January 4, 2017. I've dreamt of moving here since I was 13, and was honestly a little overwhelmed by the opportunity to fulfill a nearly lifelong dream.

One very important lesson I learned when I studied in Spain is that, no matter how picturesque and dreamy a location may be, living anywhere still means a lot of things in life stay the same. Living in New York is amazing, but I still have to pay bills, deal with a (often delayed) commute, walk my dog, go grocery shopping, go to the doctor, and lots of other things that make life so dreary, but that are necessary to be able to keep living.

It's important to me that I don't get caught up in simply living life. I want to make sure I take advantage of the amazing place I live in. So, I took the same approach to moving to New York as I did to my last quarter in Seattle: I made a bucket list, and tried to do something new every weekend.

Some weekends, I did something new that wasn't on my bucket list. I went to East River State Park, I walked through Union Square and Madison Square Park every day, and I walked the streets of my neighborhood week after week. Some weekends, I didn't do anything new at all, choosing to revisit a favorite spot or simply stay home. But I set a goal for myself and made an effort, and have certainly had a number of positively memorable experiences as a result.

January 16: The Met

One of my first Mondays in New York was a holiday. Tomi, one of my roommates, and I headed to the Met to take advantage of the day off. I've been back twice since then: once when my friend Maddie visited, and once when my parents were here. Every time I go, I make sure to check out a different part of the museum. I keep track of which rooms I've already seen by coloring them in on a map.

February 4: Whitney Museum

A friend from college set me up on an art date at the Whitney with my friend Sydney, with whom I've since visited several other cool landmarks.

March 3: Museum of Natural History

When Evelyn visited, one of the top destinations on her list was the Museum of Natural History. We spent the whole day there and went to every single exhibit. I got to see a neuron under a microscope for the first time here.

April 29: Central Park with Luxe

Luxe and I walked all the way from 81st street to SoHo when my friend Claire came to visit at the end of April. I've gone back at least 5 times since then.

April 29: The High Line

Part of our walk from 81st to SoHo included walking part of the High Line. I went back 6 months later for a photoshoot with my favorite photographer, Cassidy Hopkins

July 15: Coney Island

After adamantly declaring that Coney Island was a "literal garbage fire," Cassidy Hopkins (the eye behind this photo) agreed to take me and Tomi there for a photoshoot. We had so much fun running around the amusement park and the boardwalk, eating cotton candy and pretending to be in "Uptown Girls."

September 16: Prospect Park

I can't believe I lived in Brooklyn for 9 months before visiting Prospect Park, Brooklyn's Central Park, for the first time. I took Luxe the first time I went and walked her around the entire park while listening to one of my favorite childhood books ("Eragon", if you're interested). This particular day was one of my favorite New York memories. I've been back a couple times since, including on a nice fall day as the leaves were changing.

September 24: Brooklyn Botanical Garden

My friend Sydney took me to the Botanical Garden on a surprisingly warm day at the end of September. We saw all sorts of different plants and even some fish in the koi pond. It was a great way to spend one of the last warm days of the year.

October 8: Strand Bookstore

I first heard about the Strand when I was 13, reading the "Gossip Girl" series (books before TV show, always). I never realized it was so close to my office until I was wandering around one rainy day and stumbled into it. As far as bookstores go, it didn't hold a candle to my precious Powell's, but it was still nice.

November 6: Eataly

I've actually been to the Eataly in the Flatiron District twice: Once with Evelyn, and once with my parents. I ate some of the best pasta I've ever eaten here and got to see raclette in person for the first time ever.

November 6: Staten Island Ferry

Here's an embarrassing fact: I've only spent time in 2 of the 5 boroughs in the year I've lived here. Sure, I've technically been to Queens (like when I went to the beach for the 4th of July and when I go to JFK). I technically went to Staten Island on this ferry, but I spent all of 3 minutes on the island before immediately turning around and getting on the ferry back to Manhattan.

November 13: Mood Fabrics

The Monday after my birthday, I took a comp day (perks of working as weekend editor once every 9 weeks) and took Luxe to 3 of the places on my bucket list. First stop: Mood Fabrics, a must-see for any Project Runway fan. I don't mean to brag, but Swatch and Luxe totally hit it off. 

November 13: Bryant Park

In all honesty, I added this location to my bucket list after seeing a particularly cute picture of one of my favorite bloggers in the park. It was a cute little park with a holiday market set up. It's perfectly conveniently located between Mood and the library, so it was easy to do a quick walk through.

November 13: New York Public Library

I've always loved libraries, and this was one of the most exquisite libraries I've ever had the pleasure of visiting. I walked around for an hour listening to one of the "Series of Unfortunate Events" prequel books. I was even able to get a library card!

December 30: New Museum

This was the last destination on my bucket list in 2017. My friend Kyle told me about this museum after she'd had a particularly uncomfortable experience visiting with her parents. It hadn't been on my radar before, but the exhibit I saw about gender definitely made it worth the trip.

It's now 2018, and I've already visited 2 more destinations on my bucket list (MoMA and the love sculpture). I can't wait to continue exploring my city as I become more comfortable being a New Yorker.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

OOTD: What I'm Not Thankful For

I am thankful for so much. I am also pointedly not thankful for some of the things in my life.
Whenever I'm confronted with something inconvenient or difficult for me, my initial reaction is to be bitter and/or feel sorry for myself. Unfortunately, neither of those emotions help me or the situation.
It's important to acknowledge and validate my initial emotional reactions, but I don't need to give them any more power than they deserve. This is easier said than done, but it's true nonetheless.

My parents always told me that if I don't like something, instead of moping or whining about it, I should change it. Problem-solving is a useful tool to use when confronted with something that makes life more difficult, but it's not the only tool. Accepting that which you do not like is important both in situations when you can make a change and when you can't. 

When you can change what you don't like in your life, acceptance is the first step to acknowledging something is off in your life. From there, you can truly address the problem head-on.
When you can't change what you don't like in your life or the changes you can make are slow to take effect, acceptance can help you go through life without being bogged down.

When my therapist first started talking to me about acceptance, I had a hard time accepting (lol) this as a method for dealing with things that make my life harder. For one, it sounds like it means you have to invalidate your emotions. For another, it sounds a lot like giving up.
True acceptance is neither invalidating nor giving up. Society often preaches ignorance disguised as acceptance, but that is not true acceptance. True acceptance does not mean ignoring your feelings or the problem. It means openly acknowledging and validating your feelings, being honest about the problem, and accepting the reality of the situation. From there, you can start to live without being weighed down by the misery of a problem you can neither solve nor, in your mind, live with.

This was supposed to be my Thanksgiving week post. The Monday before Thanksgiving, however, I was put into a really difficult situation with the lease on my apartment. What it boiled down to was that I would need to move out the week of December 1st, a full month before I was expecting to have to move out. I'd been leisurely looking for roommates and apartments under the impression that I had until the end of my lease at the end of December, but I hadn't even so much as arranged to meet anyone or see anything yet. I felt scared, angry, and hopeless at the prospect of having to move out in 12 days without anywhere to go.

Luckily, this was a difficult situation I could change. I could (and did) look at a number of apartments before the real estate offices closed for Thanksgiving. I could (and did) arrange a fall-back option if I couldn't find a place to sign a lease. But before I could do any of those things, I had to stop wasting all my energy by thinking about how I didn't want to leave my apartment, how I wasn't ready to look for places, that I was scared I wouldn't have enough time to find the right place or the right roommates, that I was angry I had to do any of this in the first place. I had to accept the situation I was in so I had the energy and mindset to be able to find myself (and Luxe) a place to live. Even though I didn't want to, I had to move, and I had to move soon. Accepting that made it so much easier for me to look for a place in a time crunch and start packing up to move with so little time.

Acceptance is a tool I'm still working on. However, it's something I feel content to put the energy into, because it's a tool that really helps me so often.

This belt was provided by Top Tier Style. If you would like to purchase your own, use the coupon code BLOG15 for 15% OFF everything on their store!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

OOTD: 23

Photography by Cassidy Hopkins

I celebrated my 23rd birthday last Friday. Another year of my life marked, another sappy post contemplating the meaning of life and my time on Earth.
*Trigger warning: suicide, depression, and themes of mental illness*

This was the year I realized how long life is. A strange side effect of being suicidal, for however long, is that you develop tunnel vision when it comes to thinking about the future. Except there's no light at the end of the tunnel, so you're left unable to see, fumbling around in the darkness, only able to perceive the immediate steps you're about to take.

When you unwillingly spend your time and energy desperately wishing for your life to be over, it becomes impossible to truly conceptualize your future. You may not realize it, but you don't think you have a future. Your brain simply can't comprehend how to think about something so impossible.

I've always thought I'm good at planning for my future. So far, I've completed some pretty significant parts of my life plan: I've studied in Spain, attended a private university, and moved to New York. Without my realizing it, though, I'd slipped into accepting that my life would be cut short.

I'd think a couple months, maybe a couple years into the future, but the best I could do was have kinda fuzzy ideas about what my long-term future looked like (I like to write, right? People retire, right? Dogs?).

In all honesty, the experience of being unable to think into the future isn't uncommon in people my age. In the process of developing a sense of self, many teens and young adults unconsciously come to perceive themselves as invincible. They simply cannot conceptualize their future, because their concept of self has not evolved past the present.

My fuzzy concept of the future was a combo of both depressive symptoms and age. Since being hospitalized 2 years ago and subsequently attending intensive therapy, I've turned the corner and committed myself to not acting on my suicidal urges. That, as well as simply growing older, has left me struck with just how LONG life is. 

I could own several dogs! I could live in so many cities! I could have several different career paths! I could go back to school! I could reach a point in my life where I want to work out! Suddenly, 23 doesn't feel so weighty. 

I've also started taking care of myself little by little. I've been adding veggies to my diet and cutting back on meals consisting simply of candy. I've started saving money not because that's what my parents have always told me to do, but because I'd like to have money to travel and to retire. I go to the doctor for preventative care instead of just to take care of immediate ailments.

Without even realizing it, I've committed to sticking around. I didn't even realize I wasn't committed until my treatment regimen pushed me to truly conceptualize a future. I'm another year older, and truly thrilled to live out my future and continue to work towards it.

On the note of living out my future, I'm already planning all the ways I can wear this floral romper soon — it's definitely coming down to Arizona with me next month. The piece was provided by Top Tier Style. If you would like to purchase your own, use the coupon code BLOG15 for 15% OFF everything on their store!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween 2017: Coraline and The Cat

Another Halloween, another hair color to take advantage of when deciding upon a costume. I started crowdsourcing blue-haired characters and costume ideas in August. I had 2 requirements in addition to the incorporation of the blue hair color: it had to have a position for my pup and it had to be DIY-able.

People gave me all sorts of ideas: Joy from "Inside Out" (one of my favorite movies), Hades from "Hercules", outer space, the ocean, etc. I thought about going as Helena St. Tessero from "Neo Yokio" because, not only do we both have blue hair, but we're both fashion bloggers who've lost interest and faith in the fashion industry. But I chose Coraline because the costume was the easiest to make for both me and my dog.

I've been DIY-ing my costumes since I was little (well, my mom was doing all the work before my fine motor movements fully developed, but everything was still homemade). I'm on a fixed budget and never want to ruin it by spending money on something I'm only going to wear once for a photo. Plus, I don't ever go out on Halloween, so the costume would literally only be purchased for the photo.

This costume was super easy because I already owned the pointy-toed blue boots and dark-wash jeans. All I needed was a star-print sweater and a dragonfly clip. I thought about buying them, but I knew I wouldn't ever wear the sweater or the clip again, and decided I'd rather spend the money on new books.

I made the sweater by cutting out stars from a huge swath of white fabric I have that I use for embroidery and tacking them onto a fuzzy sweater I already owned. I made the clip by painting a dragonfly onto the same fabric and gluing it on a bobby pin.

And voilá! A "Coraline" Halloween! I think my pup was the happiest with this costume because it didn't require her to wear socks or a jacket like she's had to wear in previous years' costumes.