Break On Through (To The Other Side)

Life



This is a post about feeling depressed — and then digging out. Since today marks the first day of spring, I thought I’d honor the gradual return of more light, in a figurative sense.

While it may not always be detectable to others from the outside, because I’m still forced to work, look presentable, and function overall — when a depressive episode does hit, it can feel exhausting to fake a smile or complete simple tasks.

Although everyone’s experience is different, I’ve implemented some new habits that help me feel lighter and more in control.

1) Cleaned my house.

The condition of my house tends to be a pretty good reflection of my mental state. And the embarrassing piles (er, mountains?) of laundry that had accumulated over the winter months are no longer occupying various rooms in my apartment. Clearer space = clearer mind.

2) Cut off toxic friendships.

Trying to make me feel bad about myself? I don’t have the time. Bye.

3) Fighting negative thoughts.

I forced myself to become painfully aware of some of the constant negative thoughts I perpetuate internally. And then I would interrupt myself — “dude, stop” — to replace the bad thought with something more pleasant. Whether it’s repeating the opposite as true, or picturing something that makes me happy. The demons might still return, but they no longer dominate my headspace all day.

4) Minor physical activity.

Maybe someday I’ll make it to a gym, but in the meantime, I started to incorporate some very light exercise — extremely short jogging — during nighttime walks with Saki.  I also added stretching and basic yoga to my daily routine.  Even 15 minutes is enough to feel more relaxed and energized.

5) Self-care!

I’m no stranger to the concept of #treatyoself. But lately, I’ve indulged in various forms of more deliberate self-care. Whether it’s making extra time to relax, like using a face mask with weird ingredients … or giving myself something to look forward to, like planning that aforementioned solo trip. (More on that another time!)

It’s all pretty simple, but these minor changes feel much better. What helps you?

Dress: Target. Booties: TJ Maxx, old.

(Yes. Post title was inspired by this song.)

Fake Valentine

Life, Style




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“Our culture has taken romantic relationships, a good thing, and made them into an ultimate thing.

Put relationships back in their place, and take a look at just how expansive your life is; it might be in flux, but it’s complete — romantic partner or not.”

Wow. This really hit me when I read it.

Whether you’re single, in a relationship, or happily (or unhappily) married, here’s an important reminder: You are enough.

Yes. You. By yourself. Are enough.

I’m telling you this because society does this thing. It fosters this romanticized idea that another person automatically makes you appear more valuable to others; that a relationship immediately attaches more meaning to your life. Suddenly, it’s more “complete.”

This is a fake concept! This is unhealthy! Stop thinking this right now!

Yeah, I am kind of yelling because I believed in that falsity for a long time. I would feel defective or inferior when I was single, or hopped from one relationship to the next, too fearful to be alone.

This lack of self-worth was driven by my own negative thought patterns, but common social interactions casually reinforce unhealthy or irrelevant expectations literally all the time.

Sometimes (oftentimes?) it happens during an innocent conversation with a relative, acquaintance, or stranger:

“Are you dating anyone?”

If the answer is no: “Really? I don’t understand why someone like you would be single, you’re so pretty/successful/(insert adjective here)!”

If the answer is yes: “How long have you been together? Is he/she “the one”? When are you going to get married?”

…Like it’s some rush to complete this perceived, proper life to-do list, and you’ve failed if you haven’t checked all the boxes.

No.

People have been conditioned to think these things matter so much, when they actually don’t. And as for the perceived need to justify the answers… it’s really not anyone else’s business.

Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be a day to justify your current life, either. Whether single or taken, you’re enough on your own.

Dress: Vintage, estate sale (but this tan midi is an option for spring). Jacket: Express. Boots: Steve Madden (similar and 40% off here).

Use Your Illusion

Life, Style


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“I want something else. I’m not even sure what to call it anymore, except I know it feels roomy and it’s drenched in sunlight and it’s weightless and I know it’s not cheap. Probably not even real.”

I read that passage on one of my favorite art/poetry sites last week, and it’s stuck with me ever since. It resonates with this feeling I constantly carry; this unexplained instinct that always feels… kind of unsettled.

Because I do feel like I’m endlessly searching for something else, when “something else” is hard — maybe even impossible — to define.

Whether it’s a sense of excitement, adventure, happiness, love, passion, comfort, depth in another person, deeper meaning. A fleeting emotion, a feeling, a purpose.

Perhaps it’s a side effect of daydreams, when overt curiosity collides with too much introspection. Searching for the meaning of life, some would say.

I would love to know exactly what I’m looking for, and if or when I’ll know that I’ve found it.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s like chasing a mirage.

There are times when it feels like it’s just out of reach. But maybe what I’m reaching for… just isn’t real.

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Dress: Cato, kinda similar here. Hat: Cato. Boots: Kohl’s. Velvet choker: for $6 here!

Trial By Fire

Life, Style, Travel

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There’s this universal piece of advice when it comes to personal growth. Do something that scares you.

Well, I find this to be absolutely terrifying: traveling alone.

I consider myself pretty independent. But as much as I enjoy my alone time, I’m sometimes too intimidated to be in public by myself. It’s something that’s kind of embarrassing to openly admit, but I typically need someone to motivate me to get ready and get out of the house.

Call it anxiety. Call it depression. Call it laziness. But I’ll shrink away from experiencing something cool if it means doing it solo. I’ve skipped out on meals, concerts, events, certain hikes — and vacations.

News alert: Fuck. That.

So I’m putting myself up to a massive personal challenge this year (and no, it is not joining a gym).

I will travel alone in 2018.

Because I am done with feeling like I’m missing out. And I’m especially done waiting on other people.

This applies to family members, partners, or friends. Reality check: Of course we all operate on limited time, money, and vacation days. (A perk of modern American living, isn’t it? Ugh.) But in some cases, I’ve suggested various excursions for years — only to be consistently shut down. So I guess I just won’t go.

But hold up. Why should someone else’s bullshit excuses suddenly become mine? What’s the point of sacrificing hurt feelings when I can just… do it myself?

As a woman, traveling alone can seem vulnerable, and scary, or maybe not so smart. But it can also be an exhilarating life experience that stretches one’s perceived capabilities. I’ll go with the latter.

So whether it’s a weekend or a week. Domestic or international. This year, I will travel somewhere alone. And it will likely scare me. But I will document it on this blog. Hopefully, you’ll hold me to it… but I’m already researching destinations.

Here’s to girls doing whatever the fuck they want in 2018. Either join or be left behind.

PS — To my adventurous friends, where do you want to travel this year? (Let’s plan something?!) To the solo travelers, shoot me a line with your advice!

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Sweater: Gifted (Thanks, Mom!), but this one looks super comfy. Jeans: Kohl’s. Boots: Kohl’s (major bonus: ortholite comfort insoles), similar here. Hat: Target. Bag: Thrifted, Goodwill.

2017: A Metamorphosis

Life, Style

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Welcome to the end of another year.

As if we’ve wandered through time and space — blissfully, or maybe miserably — unaware of the past 364 days, it’s suddenly society’s time to reflect.

Our accomplishments. The difficulties we endured. Famous people we loved and lost. (Still mourning Tom Petty and Chris Cornell.) The unhealthy habits we developed… or never dropped.

Much like we drift through space, oblivious that we’re actually moving 67,000 miles per hour, it seems like society meanders through time on autopilot — incognizant of the passing days — and collectively, what they meant.

What happened? What did I do? Shit, time to assign some meaning to my life!

However, I’ve thought this many times throughout 2017: What a transformative year.

I moved to a new city, started a new job, and channeled enough courage to create this blog. But when reflecting, I can’t help but incorporate the past several years to get a better picture of personal growth.

In 2014, some traumatic experiences changed me forever, followed by a very dark period of depression in 2015. I was encouraged to seek help in 2016, and made strategic moves to get back on track. Finally, 2017 felt like hitting a stride towards a happier and more fulfilling existence.

That seems like something to celebrate. But full disclosure, I plan to quietly ring in the new year at home with Saki. (In case you didn’t know, she’s my little sidekick in the pictures!)

It’s been years since I partied into oblivion and greeted January 1st with a lack of conscious awareness. But I do spend more time than I’d like to admit outside of the present moment. And that brings me to the point I want to make about the year ahead.

I want 2018 to be more mindful. Intentional. Less escapism through apps and technology. More deliberate, and less apologetic.

At 12:01, nothing will be strikingly different, except maybe our attitudes.

Happy New Year!

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Dress: Asos. (Intergalactic and extra AF! But you could wear this one anywhere.) Boots: Asos. Ring: Flea market. Dog: Shelter. #adoptdontshop