Goals For the Season

“By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands—your own.”

MARK VICTOR HANSEN

Four years ago today, I sat overlooking the Rocky Mountains on an afternoon trip to Estes, Colorado, with one of my best friends. We spent the day hiking around the lake, driving through Rocky Mountain National Park, touring the Stanley Hotel, and photographing our journey along the way. I held my mother’s film camera tightly—just like I had in London, Paris, and Italy, right before this trip to Colorado. I still didn’t understand aperture, f-stops, or what to set my lens speed to, but that didn’t stop me from snapping through a film roll. I had always wanted to understand the rawness that film captured, and at the time, I was learning to love the light leaks and imperfections my processed photos held.

Right before this trip, I had let go of my biggest goal of the season and focused on what would come of grad school and writing. Around this time, the idea for my first novel came to me in the parking lot of the Elementary school where the kids I nannied each day attended. That idea later manifested into my fascination with the love that hangs in the words of a handwritten letter and how that interest and prompt would then become the thesis for my master’s degree. When I spoke about grief this time in September four years ago, I had no idea that later I would experience my grief more than ever before.

At the time of this photo, I was in a brand new relationship with its issues. I struggled each day to see the longevity of that love. At the time, my trustfulness gave power to the process of just following what felt right. I knew little of my callowness, but I later would learn that I did know something—I was trying to navigate the same raw and imperfect emotions that I would one day learn to love. I did everything I could to make the view come into focus for photography, but I needed my personal view to focus on what I was experiencing.

What I needed to improve on in 2016 sometimes feels like the same thing that I need to improve on in 2020—allow myself to be imperfect. 

For the first half of 2020, I began setting goals and then painstakingly laid the foundation of who I want to be and where I want to see myself in 2021 and 2025, and 2030. These goals became my benchmarks for recognizing change within my life. This included goals like “make two new friends,” “get a job,” and “start paying down student loan debt.” I have kept track of these goals in my 2020 planner—something many believe was the worst purchase of 2020, but for me, it was one of the best investments because it set into motion the process of becoming the person I most wanted to be.

My planner allows space for me to track my goals and to feel productive with my time. I feel best when my day is full, where I am productive, and I am working towards who I want to be. I hold myself to this standard because I know how good I feel when I get up early and tackle the day. At the end of those days, I feel tired and sleep better than any other day. At the end of those days, I look back at all the little red checkmarks and believe I made something of myself.

But because of that, the biggest challenge I face is allowing myself the space to be imperfect and making room for error. I look at an empty week in August and wonder what happened? Where did the desire to be productive go? Why wasn’t I proactive for my future? 

My negative self-talk can be all-consuming. Sometimes, I get angry at the girl from 2016 who was learning to love raw and imperfect emotions. What happened? Where did your desire to be productive go? Why weren’t you more proactive? Why didn’t you think of me, our future, and how your impulsivity brought me heartache?

I knew I would curse that Hannah for years to come. How disappointed I was in her for just rolling over on one of our goals and forging through the warning signs that she ended up internalizing. But something I am learning to understand is just how important those decisions in 2016 were for a growing me.

What I was learning in September 2016 is the same goal I am setting for myself this autumn. The goals I have set for this season include focusing on how I spend my time and allowing myself the space to learn from the past and what I deem as “imperfect traits.” 

Journaling and tracking my days are just some ways where I feel like I can take control of what I want for my future. I have found that I lose track of time quickly—weather it is scrolling aimlessly, binging the next season of a Netflix series, or cleaning all day while I put off what I really should be doing. A goal is to spend shorter intervals of time on tasks and breaking them up into sprints instead of marathons. And with that goal comes the responsibility to allow room for rest days.

This trip to Estes feels like a lifetime ago, but it was one day that put my future into focus. When you overlook the world’s vast beauty, it changes the way you view how small the imperfections are in your life. At that moment, I didn’t think about what I should be doing to better myself for the future; I was thinking about how beautiful a moment could be. So here’s to finding the beauty in imperfections and setting ourselves up for futures we sit in awe of when we set out dreams in motion.

More Than a Pet

Today would have been my first pet’s thirteenth birthday. Although it was rare for an English Bulldog to live that long, his passing before his seventh birthday meant I have missed him so much these past seven years. For as long as I could remember, every birthday up until my eleventh, I wished for a dog when I blew out the candles. Until I was eleven, I pet every dog I could, cried after I left pet stores and shelters, and wished for the companionship that a dog could bring.

Then, May 2006 brought Cooper into my life and changed the way I cared for dogs. All the fish I tried so hard to keep alive were pale in comparison to him. He was this wrinkly mess that plopped himself down everywhere his little legs would take him. He loved peanut butter and carrots, although not together. When I had my tonsils removed, together, we ate banana popsicles and lounged around. He didn’t like going for walks, but he loved sunbathing in the Florida heat.

He posed for all my embarrassing photoshoots, dressed up with me for Halloween, dealt with my constant pulls for attention and desire to carry his 60-pound mass around the house and on to my bed. He loved the toys that made honking sounds; his carrot was his favorite, of course. He taught me responsibility, and he taught me loyalty. When I came home from school, he was there. When I propped him up on my wicker chest for training lessons, we stayed still for the treats. As I grew older, he was the best dog. All my friends loved him and his funny nuances.

During my senior year of high school, he became sick. My parents had left the two of us alone, and I found him in his crate seizing. I was scared, eighteen, trying to balance high school and college classes, and watching one of my best friends in pain. For a week, the two of us lived at veterinary offices. I missed classes. I cried in parking lots. I was scared he wouldn’t be okay. For a little time, he was, until he wasn’t. I blamed myself for his passing. I felt responsible for the week we were alone together. We spent nights sleeping together on my parent’s bed. The medicine was helping until it didn’t. My friends left him alone one night, and a seizure left him in an unstable state.

We took him to the doctor I found for him, and they tried to help, but they drugged him to the point he couldn’t move. I blamed myself for what the doctor did because I was the one who took him to the doctor. For a while, I teared up when I saw a bulldog on the street. I couldn’t get past the grief of losing my first little buddy. It took years for me to stop blaming myself, and still some days I get sad that our time was so short.

During those days, I realize he was more than just a pet. He was the best first dog I could have ever had. Cooper loved giving kisses and sneaking treats. He loved ear scratches and to be with his people. I now have this undying love for English Bulldogs because of him. I can’t help but smile when I see them on the street. I can’t help but give them all the love I wish I could have given Cooper these past seven years. Here is to always loving dogs in the same way that they unwaveringly love us.

The Concept of Loneliness

Something that’s crossed my mind a bit this past month is the idea of being alone, being lonely, and feeling lonesome. It isn’t because I feel alone, neglected, or overseen but rather how today’s advances isolate us in ways different than the past. In February, I read The Lonely City by Olivia Lang as well as You’re Not Listening by Kate Murphy. Together, these books examine how loneliness doesn’t discriminate. Together they focused on two thought-provoking topics. On,e is how even in a city as populated as New York City, you can feel incredibly alone. Another being even if we have people who we care about us may do little to make us feel acknowledged instead somewhat ignored. 

Something I felt when I first moved to New York was his it’s sheer size did, in fact, isolate me more than I already felt. I moved to the city of opportunities for a new life in New York. But, I moved here heartbroken

The man I love ended our last conversation by telling me he never wanted to hurt me. What he never understood was, saying a final goodbye to someone I wanted to always say hello to, was a pain that I could not numb.  He propelled me into the loneliness of heartbreak while I was alone, surrounded by strangers. 

I was smuggled by the emptiness each evening. Those who supported me felt the timing of it all was perfect—the only baggage that I would have was the emptied suitcases stored on the top shelf in my closet. I struggled to see how lost love would be a silver lining when I had no desire to find it with the city or the men who filled it. 

I used to say my hardest goodbye was London; a city that propelled me into the best version of myself. When I found love that was reciprocated in a way a city could not, I realized there were goodbyes that would drop me to my knees. I knew I couldn’t love like that again soon, so I took to explore New York. 

The first week here I found my, past intertwined with my future. A chalkboard that leaned against the window of a bar, just a block away from my apartment on 9th Street, caught my attention. It displayed happy hour prices that were grad student reasonable, but it was the bartender of the evening’s information that had my feet moving downstairs into the dimly lit dive bar.

His name, Alex, was the same as my older brother’s. He was born the same year as me, and only eleven days separated our births. We grew up in the same town in Southwest Florida, and somehow our paths crossed in New York. The serendipitous meeting was my first shot at finding a community in a place that associated closely with my lonesomeness. 

He introduced me to everyone he knew. Soon the other bartenders knew my drink order, and the regulars knew my name. The owner learned the story of how I came to be a regular and told it to everyone. Inside the bar, New York shrank in size.

Several times a week, I entered the watering hole for adults. I took notice of the novelty decorations that hung all around and seemed to have no reason to be there. I paid homage to Einstein, who overlooked the entrance and the knight amour who stood tall over the bar. Christmas lights colored the low ceiling, while small amber lights attempted to illuminate the faces who lined the mahogany bar. 

I’d press my fingertips to the cool copper countertop; lean in to greet my friend on the opposite side. Over their head was a wall of confiscated IDs, an underage drinker’s most wanted that filled the empty space above liquor bottles. They’d place a Guinness in front of me and smile. The froth with the first sip gave me a slight ‘stache which made me smile larger in return. I thought I found good company in New York that appreciated my presence. 

Men who frequented the bar took me as a damsel in distress that needed saving. They consumed my evenings with small talk, which lead to questions of nightcaps, numbers, and future dates. Single seemed to objectify me and the wrong men some became possessive—the last thing a woman wants/

One evening, I stood outside with them. The three of them wavered as beer replaced the blood swimming through their veins. In his thick Irish accent, one bartender enclosed me with his love which turned confessional of how much he cared for me and how glad he was that I was apart of the bar. He flicked the butt of his cigarette to the ground and held me tightly in his arms before he faded back into the bar. 

Another checked that I would be okay walking home as he inhaled his final drag. I nodded and he hugged me goodbye before he slipped downstairs. The last one closed the door and turned to me. I uttered goodbye as I turned for home, but my sense of safety slipped from underneath me. 

I was face to face with a man who wanted to hurt me. Aggression filled the words he interchanged for goodbye. His displeasing attitude stemmed from me not falling into bed with him. I caught on to that when I asked him to repeat what he just said. He wanted power over me. I stood in shock, as he listed threats that came one after another. Confused by how this change of events happened, I sought clarity with the bartenders inside and attempted to open the door. 

If his words weren’t painful enough, his hand clutched around my arm as he pulled me out of the entrance. He pushed me further outside and yelled at me to vacate the premises. The men who loved my presence did not get up. The men that just said goodbye ignore the scene which unraveled outside. They heard the yelling, but chose to stay downstairs. 

At that moment, I questioned if I had found a community, or had I found depths of another beast? Observe, but avoid confrontation if possible while here in New York. The community I felt dissipated in a matter of seconds. I spun a web and somehow became tangled in it. Embedded in the pain, I could not forget was feeling alone in a bar that I once felt safe in. I could see that evening was their eyes as they diverted from the conflict I was confronted with. I felt confused as to why they feared to lose me when I mentioned it wouldn’t be ideal for me to keep coming around. As if my final goodbye caused them some sort of discomfort.

Were they just as lonely as I was? I questioned, as their smiles grew each time they served another Guinness to the coaster that sat in front of me. I wasn’t surrounded by strangers, but that made the pain of loneliness feel different.

Since then, I’ve contemplated if there was any benefit of isolation. In the coming months, I went back to see them and share causalities of the day and weeks ahead of us. I used the bar to understand myself and the insecurities that were growing because of the company I felt. I vowed to focus on myself after the issues there piled up. And those weeks in December that I spent in isolation, I found myself. Like Murphy mentions, these men weren’t listening to me. Sure maybe my friendship benefited them in some way, but I gained little to nothing from them past more pain.

It’s strange to think I could ever feel alone or isolated in New York City, but as millions of people rush past you, and you know no one, then all you can feel is an amassing weight of being singular.

It’s 2006

and A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out is playing through my headphones as I take on the bunny slope at Steamboat mountain during snowboarding school. I feel unstoppable, on top of the world, and invigorated. I am dressed in an all-pink outfit while my braids flap in the wind. The blonde girl you connected with is screaming the lyrics with you during the lunch break as your teacher, “Goose,” looks on mortified, but you can’t help but laugh.

Being in Steamboat again floods all those memories back, but I actually began to reflect on all of this weeks prior when I hear the songs that I used to burn on every CD I could get my hand on. It started with me buying way too much music on my iPod Nano to discovering the world of Limewire and having everything I could have wanted at my fingertips.

And because of that, there is an etherial period from 2003 to 2009 where all the music I sang along to then stricks a chord with me as an adult. I hear the famous note from MCR, the guitar rift from Sugar We’re Goin’ Down, Alex Gaskarth’s strain, and Brendon Urie belt out lyrics, and I can’t help but feel the same as I did when I was singing along as a teenager.

In the past decade, I have funneled into more acoustic singers, moody folk, indie bands, atmospheric instrumentalist, and orchestral ballads. Still, this music lives within some of the best memories and low times. I remember the first time I heard I Write Sins Not Tragedies on the radio, and having the CD blast in the car when I had my license. I remember feeling an immediate bond with and jealousy of my Freshman Year roommate after we exchanged numbers via Facebook, and she told me she was at Warped Tour.

This music brought me friends, connections, boyfriends, and conversation. I dated the boy that thought he was a rockstar and played in a cover band. He played songs that I played over and over in my bedroom as I dreamt of the punk boys and then realized they were better suited in the dreams. The songs brought me inspiration in the past and are nothing but happy memories now.

All of it felt full circle once Remembering Sunday came on shuffle while winding the curves of Olympic National Park in Washington and I watched the massive lakes glisten under the sunshine, and immediately felt like a teenager riding in my car and looping the song over and over just to feel at ease. 

21 February 2017

Three years ago was a very different day compared to where I am today. Aside from waking up in a different bed in a different city, the 21st of February was quite possibly a new beginning for me, but I had no idea then what would come from it that morning. I woke up after not sleeping and slipped into my black dress and a pair of sneakers. I had nothing to eat or drink before getting into the car with my mother. We were heading to Naples Community Hospital, the hospital I was born in, but this time I waiting for my turn to get my name printed on a bracelet.

I remember how cold it felt to sit in the chair while my mom scrolled on her phone to the left of me. She had my best friends number and boyfriend’s “in case anything happens.” Obviously, the last thing you want to consider is your death, but complications aren’t that rare. I remember the man that called my name and shuffled us into another waiting room dedicated to the family members waiting while their loved ones were in surgery. There were low lit lamps on side tables and magazines that have been flipped through but barely read. There were young children, wives, and husbands scrolling on phones and finding ways to pass the time.

I was only there for a few minutes by my mom’s side before I was called back for surgery. There was a gown waiting for me on a bed and a bag for the rest of my belongings. Nurses and doctors poked my hand, wrist, and the inside of my elbow for a vein suitable for my IV. They searched in my knee, thigh, and calf for the nerves related to the nerve block. The nurse and mother looked on frightened as they watched this anesthesiologist dig with a needle for what he needed. At one point, the nurse grabbed my hand and apologized and confessed her admiration for patience and pain tolerance, but I knew this was only a taste of what was to come.

I had my hair pulled into a hairnet, which of course, my mother snapped a photo of before they wheeled into the operating room where even more bodies stood around me and shuffled past. I remember the OR tech that summoned me on to the operating table. It was the first time I vividly remember moving from the bed to the narrow, uncomfortable surfboard of a table that had movable arms and straps, which felt like I was being secured to an executioner’s table into a death sentence prison.

I was staring up while he prepped my iv with the new tubes. In the distance, I heard a song. A Queen’s song, Another One Bites the Dust played out in the speakers. I remember singing along, well humming along, and having the OR tech call out to turn the radio off—realizing that among the last song you want to listen to before you head into surgery. Then just as the song goes quiet, so does the rest of the world until I wake up in the room with the blue pull curtains and on the bed I was initially on. This time it is just me and the nurse. All I taste is metal. I squint as the lights brighten, and the nurse greats me with a pen and paper. The first thing I tell her is that I feel like I am going to throw up. Its the combination of pain, medicine, and anesthesia, but I knew it was coming.

We talk about my surgery and how my mother is on her way back. She places a bedpan on my chest, and I feel the room spinning. I tell her I have had issues in the past with anesthesia, and shortly after explaining that she’s thanking me for knowing how sick I was going to get ahead of my vomiting all over myself and the bed. I constantly impress her. She’s impressed with the fact that I wore a dress that just slipped over my head, and required no movement on my part. That I knew to wear sneakers and not sandals, given that we were in Florida. She was impressed with how I dealt with everything, but at the same time, I knew this wasn’t my first time being here.

They lowered me into a wheelchair and I saw the monstrosity left on my right leg. Before all, I could do was imagine what it looked like tucked under the blanket. They wheeled me out to the car, and that’s when my life had the chance at the beginning again. I remember getting my phone back and letting my then-boyfriend and best friend know I had made it out of surgery, although it was only my best friend who was texting my mom throughout the procedure. 

At that time I had no idea what was going to come. I had no idea the pain that was ahead of me, the fears, the possible infection, and the months of therapy. I had no idea if the surgery would work. Now, three years later, I am wiser but only marginally in a better place. After being home last week, I saw the way my ankle swelled like it used to. I joked that my ankle must remember what happened in Florida because, for a long time, I was in pain with standing and growing impatient with walking around. But in New York, I walk close to 3-miles a day, if not more, and I am fine.

I wake up most mornings, forgetting all the surgeries and the pain, and other days I can’t help but remember. I can’t help but remember the way the sutures rub against the fiberglass cast. I can’t help but remember the mornings and days spent in my bed, wondering if I can push myself to walk sooner. I remember the day I decided to stop my pain medication and what it felt like to finally lift the fog, but then submerge myself in a new pain of withdrawal. I remember screaming out in the night because I wanted to rip the skin off my body. After all, there was nothing I could do to get comfortable. I see the photos of myself before, during, and after and see the way the light comes back to my eyes, but I remember the night I woke up yelling for help.

I am past all that, but sometimes it is still hard to move forward from it. 

Honest Chat About Love

A while ago, when I was grabbing drinks with a girlfriend, I was posed the question, “what is the point of dating in your twenties?” 

We discussed how these ten years are the formative years of our life. The years we are meant to be growing our careers, exploring without strings attached, and living our best lives, so if no one is looking to get married until their thirties, then why date now?

There were many reasonable answers: maybe you want to date for a while before you jump into a legally binding relationship, maybe you enjoy going out and dating and keeping things casual, perhaps you’ll find someone in your twenties, and together your relationship will continue to grow.

I have heard stories about women shopping for husbands on dating apps, but I have also heard of a woman just going on dating apps for the fun of it and never actually meeting anyone. It’s this weird time that we live in because we have people at our fingertips, but what it is you could be searching for all depends on how you are feeling in the present.

My friend and her boyfriend didn’t work out. As she now deals with the pain of heartbreak, I am confronted about what this concept of love actually is. After a couple months, she was ready to lift her life off its supports and move to be with him, which feels like the opposite of someone preaching about seeing no point of dating while we are young. To me, that is too much too fast, but on paper, their “love” or their relationship looked good. Similar interests, same career industry, a firey flame that ignites. And I want to emphasize that flame because to me, I want a slow burn.

At times, I think about where I have encountered love—the way it drove me crazy in the most magical means but hurt me as it has hurt others in my life. I know you need to experience the heat of a fire to know how how to keep yourself safe, but maybe everyone needs to feel a flame like that so you know how to move forward to grow from it.

Something I have learned is the most beautiful smoke comes from slow-burning charcoal—a growing fire that warms you for nights full of infinite memories. They burn with the most delicate oranges when they begin, the translucent smoke snakes, and dances in a steady fluid nature—however, some men, like my first love, lite bonfires with kerosene to engulf the breathable air around you. It’s like an explosion, hot, powerful, but short-lived.

My last love, and men thereafter, suffocated me. His love, our love, altered the way I breathed, thought, and felt. That kind of love, whether it be your first, third, or twentieth, burns you brightly because of how quick it is to ignite. But, when it’s put out, it leaves nothing but ash in its wake. My first love burned so many holes in my skin; it made it impossible to feel whole when he went. It paved way for heartbreak to leave me doubled over in pain.

My boyfriend today has similarities with my previous boyfriend, showing that I clearly have a type, but on paper, the two of them vs myself have little in common. However, we work. the core things that I need in life and love is time, support, care, and communication. Love to me isn’t compliments every day that are spoonfed to me. It isn’t phone calls during lunch breaks or lavish dates. Its someone who takes time for me, but also is mindful of my time. Its someone who supports me, my dreams, and my ventures, and its someone who has dreams I can support. It’s having someone there to hold you and know they will come home with a hug when you need — and when times are tough, they are there to talk it through with you.

All of that takes time. It isn’t found in a fire but rather felt like the warmth of a glowing fireplace that you need to fuel with more wood, kindling, and oxygen to make sure it survives. Tomorrow is our two year anniversary. It is the third Valentine’s Day we will be spending together, and I am very happy and lucky to be with someone who mirrors and is what I need within a relationship.

Finding Balance

A lot of my life for the past two years has been about finding the balance between two or more essential aspects of my life. Like balancing exploring and school, school and work, work and social life, social life and alone time, alone time and friends, friends and relationship, relationship and myself until the neverending balancing act weighs too heavily to one side. When that happens, I put a lot of effort and time into one side of the teeter-totter, and that leaves me neglecting other fundamental entities in my life that feels far away and out of reach. It sometimes feels impossible to do so, but recently I have tried to find the balance between devoting time to them all—as equally as possible.  

I think a lot about how the city I live in balances various landscapes, people, and activities. I joke that sometimes when I walk in Central Park, I can forget that I am in New York City. Where less than a mile from where I stand are miles of concrete, brick, and steel, but when you are amongst the trees and the lakes, sometimes its difficult to see the towering buildings overhead. But, eventually, in my walks, you reach a rolling field or a serene lake, and see the way the skyscrapers brush against the low hanging clouds and remember exactly where you are. That is how I can visualize balance. 

New York, or shall I say the “concrete jungle” is the strange place that has always tried to balance nature and urban life. Obviously being that Central Park is the most abundant green space on the island of Manhattan isn’t saying too much. There are 14,600 acres of land that makes up Manhattan, that’s roughly 22 miles of land. Only 840 acres of those 14,600 is Central Park. 14,000 compared to 840 seems unbalanced, so how can I sit and feel as if it is balanced? Well, even though Central Park is only 5% of the land, it feels massive compared to what actually surrounds it.

One of the largest urban parks in the world is the English Gardens in Munich, Germany. It is 900 acres and often compared to Central Park, and being that it is bigger, by 60 acres, it seems like a great feat. Except, Munich is 119 square miles, roughly 76,700 acres. That is just 1% of the acres in the city. Sure, the Gardens are more prominent, but balancing is all about how one entity is relative to another and how you devote your space to each and every one.

It hasn’t always been the easiest, and its been a lot of “touch and go,” but so far, I feel I have recently broken out of focusing on one side and found a way to reach the apex of the triangle—what I feel I am balancing on. Being that I am the triangle, I have had to learn how time can be shared amongst various tasks and how they are relative. Something I do a lot now is set 20-minute timers. Meaning, if I need to clean the living room, I set a timer for 20 minutes and clean as much as I can during that time. It leaves me wasting less time and has me working faster and harder to beat the clock.

A considerable hurdle was trying to balance my work and fun times. The twenty min timers help when I need to take a break from something that is frustrating or trying to cram a lot of little tasks into a busy day. It helps sanction off my writing, reading, and journaling into manageable tasks when I know I would want to spend all day doing that to avoid anything else I need to actually get done. The 20 min timers make sure I don’t spend all day organizing and leaves time for me to learn new skills, talk to loved ones, and still have personal time later.

Another one of my goals was to try and balance my friends and my partner. I love him dearly, and I live him, so I see him the most often out of family and friends. However, I know I need to make time to see him outside of nights on the couch before bed, just as I am making time for meaningful time with my friends and family. Recently, I have learned to see my friends on weekends or nights when he works, so I feel as if I can balance friendships and the dating world. Obviously, there are times I see my friends when he is home, and there are times we gather all of our friends together and spend time with everyone, but it’s about finding a balance between all of those relationships, so your do neglect one over the other.

But the one thing I have really overlooked while trying to balance everything else is myself. I have been standing, doing everything I can to balance my social-life, work-life, and school-life that I lost what it was I needed to make sure I have enough attention. Earlier this week, I wrote a post about self-love and care, and I feel as if I have tried to focus on that recently. When I am upset or down, I can’t find time to devote to anyone else because I am mentally not there. So, I take to spending days like Friday really focussing on me and activities I love to find a balance inside me.

How is it that you feel you find balance in your life to do everything you could possibly want to do, and spend time with everyone you want to spend time with? Do you find that it is difficult to find time for yourself during those times, or are you spending too much time on yourself that you are letting other important tasks fall out of reach?

Film from a Rainy Day on the UWS

Today, I took the morning to focus on learning new skills, and before I head on some trips, I wanted to learn more about analog photography and my camera. Last time I shot, there was clearly an issue with light leaks, the back door coming open accidentally, or a problem with the camera. The photography man suggested I take a cheap roll out and shoot it to see if its the seal that has an issue or something else. This is the product of the test, and I think they all turned out great regardless of the little imperfections that come with shooting analog. Enjoy!

 

Self-Love

Although most stores have had their Valentine’s Day decor, candy, and cards up since December, we just barely into the month of February. And as the shelves dwindle as loved ones buy gifts for their significant others, it leaves some of the world happy with the love they are feeling and others longing or sad over the same emotions. This time of year always reminds me of these underlying feelings of wanting to be loved and not lonely and February is an interesting month to dive into the topic.

Ever since we were children, this has been a holiday to show love towards our classmates by filling out cartoon character cards and fastening a candy to the small note. But then as you got older, the holiday became polarizing because there was no longer a day in a class dedicated to decorating a shoebox for your mailbox. Still, instead, it was “whose your valentine?” It no longer was this holiday centered around others but centered around yourself and one other person. And that can be a bit isolating, especially if someone was single, be it for an extended period or after a fresh break-up.

Ever since the holiday has changed for our adult selves, you learn about spin-off holidays like Galentine’s Day or forget about the day altogether. I recently read an article on Zoella’s website that listed 20 Things to Do in February. If you don’t know what Zoella is, or rather who, Zoe Sugg is a British Youtuber who is well known for her beauty videos, style, and lifestyle. She has excellent articles about delicious recipes and mental health, and she’s a blogger that I have looked up to.

I thought all of her suggestions were both comical, like “2. Treat yourself for getting through the longest month of the year. Huzzah!” or inspiring like “14. Do something for Random Acts of Kindness Day” but overall relateable “17. Restart your failed NY resolutions. We go again – new month, new me…” and focused on relationships. This goes along with the message I wanted to get across in this post—there’s more to Valentine’s Day and February than just romance and relationships. And really it should be about caring for ourselves as well.

And although those who are coupled up tend to forget about loving ourselves and focus solely on our partners, I think there is a lot we can do for ourselves to makes sure we too feel the love regardless of our relationship status. I decided to list my own “20 Things” to hopefully inspire you to get out there and find time for yourself.

 

 

20 Things To Do for Yourself in February 

  1. Reward yourself for a small victory, be it a promotion or getting out of bed before 10:00 am on the weekend.
  2. Buy a bouquet of flowers for yourself at the grocery store and put it on your coffee table, so you are always reminded of them.
  3. Have a night where you put on a face mask and watch a movie that has been on your Netflix Watch List for years now.
  4. Write yourself a letter and talk about what you are currently excited for and proud of, keep it safe, and date it for you to open shortly.
  5. Take the time to read for 20 minutes, go on a walk around your neighborhood, or practice something creative that you enjoy.
  6. Treat yourself to a movie, and get a large popcorn and Slurpee all for yourself.
  7. Visit a store that you live and peruse the shelves or displays and find a new book, clothing item, or be it anything you like.
  8. Learn a new recipe, and take the time to enjoy a nice dinner that you made for yourself to enjoy.
  9. Put the phone down before bed and actually try to get 8 hours of sleep one night.
  10. Get up and make time for breakfast!
  11. Pick out an outfit the night before that makes you feel confident and beautiful.
  12.  Learn something new.
  13. Take time out of your day to meditate or just reflect on the day and what is to come.
  14. Tidy your space and light a few candles.
  15. If you have a busy schedule, make sure to set aside an hour dedicated to “me time.”
  16. Listen to a podcast, find some new music, or pick a new audiobook for the month.
  17. Make your bed in the morning, so you already start the day by completing a simple task.
  18. Allow yourself to take a pause and reflect on your feelings.
  19. Define three daily goals for yourself and set to it that you complete each one/
  20. Get yourself a treat or grab a bite from your favorite restaurant.

 

Highs & Lows

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”
Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Before heading into 2020, I had high expectations for myself and what is to come this year. I laid out exactly what I wanted to accomplish this year, and during what month I felt I would be capable of completing it by. I spoke a little bit about this in New Year, New York, but as we near the last week of January, I am entering the reflection stage of how my new resolutions are panning out. I know I want to write something monthly that showcases the highs and lows of each month, but at this point, I am not sure how I can measure it all independently of any extraneous details. Details such as how my income and financial insecurities this month impacts my social life, and travels, whereas how a job and a regulated schedule impacts the exact same entities in different ways (one I don’t have enough money, the other is I don’t have enough time)

In a few months, would I say this month was the best or worst so far? I don’t think it is possible to really measure these highs and lows except for recognizing my input and what the output was of the year. While I think about this, I can’t stop thinking about high and low tides and how they can affect a sailing ship, just as much as a weathering storm. And while I crave another vacation, enjoy a photo from one this summer during low tide.

This month has been a month of learning for me. I am learning how to conduct professional relationships with freelance projects. I am learning new skills, and I am learning how to construct a routine that works for me — and that is simultaneously a  high and low. As I continue to work out the kinks, I find myself still searching for the means to get myself into a routine. I think not having a steady job limits the opportunities I have when it comes to feeling regulated. This week, the last week, I sat and outlined everything I want to do before the end, so we will see how well I can manifest a routine without a job.

This month, I celebrated my birthday, surrounded by friends and loved ones. I traveled upstate with my partner and explored a new city as well as explore more of New York City. I looked back on relationship anniversaries and reflected on personal growth and favorite trips from the past. These were all incredible highs for this month, but it was coupled with some real feelings of insecurity and worry.

Some other memories from this month, I finished Little Women and went to see the film (reviews to come!). I watched an excellent dog for two months and learned the great and not so great parts of having a dog in New York City. And while I learn how to sail this ship into 2020, I am excited to continue to grow this blog until I can input exactly what I can to gain an output of what I always wanted. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll see this linked with my Instagram page.