A Bit of a Catch Up

Uncategorized

It’s been a while. I haven’t been able to do much traveling and I have struggled with finishing the things I’ve started, but in honor of a new year coming around, I figured I’d do a bit of a catch up to remind myself what’s been going on.

So, number one: since we last talked, I moved. I decided with work from home being in my future for at least the next few months, being in a tiny cramped (expensive) apartment wasn’t something I wanted to continue to do. Fortunately, my parents live close by and were kind enough to let me move back into my old room. Rather than one big moving day, we spread it out over a few weeks. I don’t know whether this erased the stress of one big day of moving or spread it out over multiple months, but yesterday, I finally tucked everything away and can confidently call myself moved in.

Number two: I’ve been reading. A lot. I keep my Goodreads up to date if you’re interested, but since reading 28 books in 28 days in February, I’ve finished 12 more books. I’ve been very into romance books recently, which are fun and easy to read when I’m feeling kinda stressed. I also spent some of the time in my move reorganizing my bookshelf, which was surprisingly fun. I was reminded of childhood favorites and school reads that I despised – always gotta have balance.

Number three: we’ve been watching lots. My parents and I have a bit of a schedule going with the TV: during the week, there’s pretty minimal watching until 9 p.m. when Rachel Maddow comes on. She’s been a regular on the TV for a few years and the habit remains. Sometimes it’s a great show, other times not so much… But the weekends are when it gets interesting. We’ve been working our way through the new Disney Plus shows, including The Mandalorian, WandaVision, and our current show The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. We’ve also watched a few of the 2021 Oscar nominees and some film adaptations of Fredrik Backman books. (I also convinced my mother to watch Bridgerton with me, which we watch when my dad goes to bed early). We often spend a good half hour after each show or movie explaining to each other what happened and discussing the plots or guessing the next episode.

Number four: I’ve been making quilts. Last year, I started getting into making scrap quilts and have finished two quilts completely, have three quilt tops to be quilted and am currently working on my sixth quilt which will look like a bookcase. I like making quilts as a relaxing hobby and enjoy going away for a day or two before returning with fresh eyes and more energy. Despite trading off the sewing machine with my mom, it’s been nice to make things with little to no pressure and no timeline to rush me. As with most crafting hobbies, I have more ideas than time to complete any of them, so I’ve already got ideas lined up for three or four more quilts once I complete the ones I’m working on.

Lastly, I got older! I turned 26 on the 14th and two days later found my first gray hair. A few years ago, a friend asked me what my goals were for the next year – I promptly forgot them and had to come up with new ones later, but I like to continue that tradition and set some intentions for the year. This year, my goals include going to law school (and the inevitable move that will come with that), visiting old friends and making new friends, continuing to create, stay healthy, save up some money, and, finally, prioritize joy.

So, that’s what you’ve missed. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to do some traveling or adventuring of some kind soon and then I can write about those. Or maybe I’ll just start recording the conversations I have with my mother about the different kinds of birds that visit our kitchen bird feeder – the suburbs can change you…

Halfway Through

Uncategorized

This year, I didn’t really set any resolutions for the new year or for my birthday. Instead, I’m focusing on little mindset changes like reading more and finding joy daily. (I also need to take the LSAT, but that’s a longterm struggle …) The year is flying by and it just occurred to me that we’re (more than) halfway through 2020. This year was kind of lacking in firm plans – I didn’t have any big travel planned, I didn’t have any massive goals that I wanted to hit, I had no plans to move or start a new job. Instead, I was (and am) treating 2020 as a breather before starting to adult more. And by adult more, I am referring to going to law school, saving money, living by myself confidently, etc. So being in the middle of a total mess of a year really hasn’t stopped me from hitting any big goals.

Well, I’ve caught my breath and now I need to set some expectations for myself for the second half of the year:

One: take the LSAT and apply to law school. It’s time; no more procrastinating.

Two: continue reading at the same pace as the beginning of this year. A book or two a month is a baseline goal, but I’ve gotten to the point where four or five books each month is not only appealing, but sustainable for my current routine. (I’ve already smashed my Goodreads challenge out of the park this year, so now it’s time to see if I can double or triple it!)

Three: see the sunshine. Like many folks right now, I’ve spent a lot of time indoors. Without baseball to give me a weekly sunburn and without my daily walks to and from work, I’ve been missing that natural vitamin D. I’m trying to absorb some sunshine so I’m pale as a ghost – lunch breaks include a thirty minute wander outdoors (with sunscreen) and that post-work, pre-LSAT study time includes a nice loop around my building.

Four: stretch everyday. I’ve recently had some tightness in my back that’s probably directly related to me spending all my time on my couch for the last four months, but I’m trying to build the habit of stretching beyond my twice weekly Zoom yoga classes.

Five: write. When life gets a little hectic, the time I used to reflect and write goes down the drain, thoughts linger in my head. To combat this, I’m carrying around a little notebook to write in (even if no one will ever read it) and I’m convincing myself that posting blog posts once a week (ish) will make me feel better. We shall see how that goes…

Basically, what I’m saying is that 2020 has been a bizarre year so far and it’s not looking like it will resolve itself in the next six months. So, I’m asking for the internet’s accountability as I spend the second half of the year taking a breather and pushing myself to do little things that will hopefully be good for me longterm.

That First Blank Page

Uncategorized

I’ve recently started a new journal – the most exciting and daunting step. There’s something terrifying about a blank page. What if I misspell something on the first line? What if I start with pens that bleed through? Do I want to do the same things I need in my last journal? Do I want to try something new?

I use my journals for a variety of things. This wave of journaling started in college when I wanted a place to put all my cards and notes and photobooth pictures. I bought a cheap journal and taped in each piece so that they weren’t floating around my dorm room. I repeated this habit my sophomore year. I bought a notebook and started to do the same process when I studied abroad in Australia (those bits and bobs are still in a bag somewhere waiting for me to tape and glue them in). I was more successful with the journal I used in Sweden – I organized it in order, placing all of the ticket stubs and plane tickets from each weekend trip together. My senior year of college it was a nice memento from school and I happily taped everything in.

It wasn’t until I moved to London for grad school that I expanded my use of journals from travel mementos to an actual journal. (This was around the time of the bullet journal fad so it’s not surprising I wanted to get in on that.) This journal was filled with cards and ticket stubs, grocery lists and rants. Taped and glued and highlighted together, this journal went beyond that experience, blending that year with the one following it.

I recently filled the last page and started a new one. I’ve used it less frequently because it’s still so fresh. There’s no mistakes so far, no bend in the spine. It sits closed nicely and doesn’t have pieces of paper sticking out in weird directions. This new notebook doesn’t hold the same memories as the last. At least not yet.

And like the beginning of anything new and exciting, I find myself overthinking. But with a new decade, maybe it’s time to dive in.

So I wrote a to do list on the first page, copied over from the end of my last journal. I taped in a ticket from a show I saw. I marked a page with a highlighter.

And suddenly, it’s a lot less daunting…

Who Are You Reading?

Uncategorized

At the beginning of 2019, I started a Goodreads challenge to read a book for every month of the year. Thanks to my local library’s rentable e-books, I just found myself completing that challenge – which is crazy because last year I read half as many books. (All 12 books will be listed at the very end if you’re interested.)

I, like many others I’m sure, used to read constantly, but with an increase in reading for school, a busier extracurricular schedule, and the introduction of YouTube and Netflix, my reading time was down to next to nothing for a while there. I also felt pressure to only read books that were popular or cool, or to only read Classics, or to listen to audiobooks and podcasts.

But this year I found time to read and started to make the tiniest of tiny dents in the list of books I’ve been meaning to read when I get the chance. Some books took months to finally find the time to finish; other books were completed in a day. Some books had been on my list for years; other books were read immediately after my Goodreads account recommended them.

Many of them were not physical copies – instead, read on my phone in between appointments or on the metro to work. As a serious binge reader, this new approach to reading changed what stories I could follow and what books I had to set aside for reading on that vacation I might never take. I also gave myself permission to not finish a book if it wasn’t fulfilling my curiousity or if I just didn’t like the style.

Though my to-read pile is still rather large and LSAT prep could probably have taken some of those minutes spent reading, I’m really pleased with how much time I spent this year with my nose in a book (/on a phone).

And as I start to work on another set of books that might be read or might be delayed, I realized that every book I read this year was written by a woman.

There’s something powerful in visiting stories that don’t simplify the female characters to love interests or swift side mentions. Many of the stories I read had female main characters, but not all did. They explored dynamics from sisterhood to friendship and delved into mysteries and murder and high school drama. In each story, I could connect to characters who had stories to tell and whose stories were being told.

I don’t feel like I missed out on any superbly amazing reads this year because of my chosen list and if anything it’s expanded the number of authors I want to spend more time exploring. There’s definitely room in my pile for more stories by writers who are people of color or who aren’t American-born English speakers.

But that’s a challenge for next year. (The year isn’t over yet… maybe I’ll get another book or two complete before December 31…)

Who did you read this year? Or better yet, who are you excited to read next year?

 

Lily’s List of Books: (** designates my favorites of the year)

Starting Fresh

Uncategorized

It’s almost the new year and it’s almost a new decade. So it’s time to leave some baggage behind. I know everyone loves spring cleaning, but I find the end of the year to be an incredibly satisfying time of the year to kick anything that isn’t sparking joy to the curb.

First things first: emails. I hate having notifications for emails. So I’m clearing my inbox. Anything that needs responding to, gets a response. Any ads or coupon codes are get marked as read – if I need them, I can always search for the brand or store later. Anything that sends me hourly emails, unsubscribe. I will not start the year with a little red bubble next to my email app.

Then on to social media. Almost yearly, I go through my social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) and clear out the people I just don’t care about. Maybe it’s someone who I was friendly with years and years ago or a comedian I followed and have regretted following ever since or a friend’s ex. Whoever it is, if I don’t love seeing their posts, they’re gone. If they aren’t sparking joy with their content, unfollowed. No more hate-liking or skipping through three hours worth of concert video posted to their stories. If I don’t know them, they’re gone. (And anyone I can’t avoid – i.e. coworkers, family members – gets muted. They don’t have to know.)

Next up, moving on to more physical things. My car becomes a dumping ground for bits and bobs. I’ll be starting the year off with no receipts waded up in my cup holders. Nothing in my trunk. And a full tank of gas. Because I’ll be moving in January, I’ll also be stealing my parents’ shop vac to clean up the evidence of many a fast food stop.

My apartment stays relatively uncluttered and will end up being cleaned and organized when I start packing, but I’ve got a couple of things that need sorting.

It’s so easy to fill a kitchen with half-eaten bits and bobs and then still have nothing to eat. So the last few meals of 2019 will be sourced from what I already have. That bag of chips from that party two months ago will be eaten (or tossed once I realize they’re stale). Anything in the fridge that’s past expiration date will be dealt with. The freezer will be explored and it will reveal whatever I’ve stuffed in there. Basically, I’ll have to come to terms with all my impulse Safeway purchases.

Like most proper adults, I receive mail. This mail usually relates to bills, information about my work benefits, catalogs I’ll never read, and cards from my mother that I never dealt with. Fortunately, I’ve only been adulting for about a year, so it hasn’t accumulated to an unreasonable pile. Yet. So I will be sitting down to sort through what can be recycled, what can be shredded, and what should be nicely filed. Because most of this paper lives on my bedside table, once it’s clear, I’ll actually be able to keep important things next to my bedside like my phone, my glasses, and a candle (or three!).

Speaking of candles, I’ve been burning candles for about a year now and I’ve gone through quite a few. At some point, I considered dealing with the empty candles, getting all the wax out, and reusing the containers. But I’m lazy and they’re in the way. So I will instead just be recycling the containers and moving on. Once those have been cleared of my shelf, I can justify my purchases of more candles!

If you’re like me, you went a little crazy during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales and you bought new clothes. Unfortunately, my closet isn’t big enough (and currently has a hole in the ceiling from my upstairs neighbors’ water leak! Yay adulting!). So I’ll be downsizing. I’ve done this many times before but I’m excited to clear out the things that don’t fit or that I haven’t worn in a year or that just aren’t my faves anymore. Don’t worry – they’ll be donated (first to friends and then to a local charity shop).

Lastly, I’ll be clearing my head. (Yes, I went there.) It’s one thing to get rid of physical clutter (the piles of unread mail) or the electronic clutter (the unfriendly “friends”), but emotional clutter is draining too. Especially in the middle of the most exhausting time of the year. An hour or two of journaling. A yoga class or a run in nature. A mediation session surrounded by candles. A hike in the wilderness. A mental reminder to let it go.

It’s a new year, a new decade. Why carry shit with you that you can leave behind?

A Yearly Tradition

Travel

It was recently my 24th birthday (I do accept gifts in the form of job offers and free flights across the Atlantic…) and I remembered a conversation I had with a group of friends a few years ago on my birthday.

We were drinking margaritas and eating endless chips and salsa on a sunny spring day in Indianapolis when one of my good friends asked me to name five goals for my next year of life. I came up with goals relatively easy then: graduate in just a few weeks, move to a different country, travel to a few more countries, read some books, etc. (If we’re honest, the next day another friend asked what my goals were and we could blame the margs or the stress of exams or what have you, but we honestly couldn’t come up with what five goals I had named the day before… start each year with a fresh start?)

So I went through the year trying to hit these goals. I graduated, moved to London, started a Master’s degree, traveled the country and Europe. Who knows if I managed to meet my five goals? But by my birthday celebrations in Montenegro, I was ready to challenge myself to another set of goals.Screen Shot 2019-04-16 at 3.17.06 PM

I made the rookie mistake both years of not writing my goals down. So this year I am rectifying that by leaving my five goals here for all to see.

Goal #1: Get a Job

Goal #2: Run a Mile

Goal #3: Take the LSAT

Goal #4: Visit Friends Living in New Cities

Goal #5: Repierce Lost Piercings

Here’s to hoping I have better luck remembering these in a year’s time than my past attempts.

New Year, Injured Me

Uncategorized

Due to some technical difficulties, this blog post will be going up a week later than anticipated. Apologies for that.

2019 is already shaping up to be a bit rough. And no I’m not affected by the government furlough. I’m talking about my personal inability to demonstrate adult-like qualities.

Late last year I moved into an apartment (financially supported by my parents, thank you very much, as the result of the whole unpaid intern life) and was ready to be a proper adult. I was full on gonna spend 2019 adulting. And then my first day back to work after the holiday, I went grocery shopping after work, like an adult. I checked my mailbox, like an adult. And I made my way towards the four steps in the lobby to get to the elevator. Due to slippery tiles, slightly too long pants, hands full of grocery bags, and general inability to walk, I hit the ground. Hard.

Nothing broken in the grocery bags or my body, fortunately. After a moment on the ground of self-wallowing, I got up and brushed myself off. I had a joke or two ready to go in case someone nearby might have witnessed my flailing body hit the ground, but the only people around were hidden behind the mailboxes chit-chatting. (I’m sure the security guards had a laugh watching the security footage, but I have to bring joy into people’s lives somehow, right?)

I made it to my apartment, out of my work clothes, and onto the couch with no further incidents. By the next day, however, my knee had an extra bump, I’d scrapped up my knuckles, and somehow I’d managed to bruise my bum? Still not quite sure what was my downfall, but I figured I can make it through the year without wearing pants again, or grocery shopping again, or walking up stairs again, or checking my mail again. I’ve gotta avoid possible injury.

Everyone I told the story to was kind (and laughed at me behind my back instead of to my face) and told me “Hey! At least you got it out of the way! It’s all uphill from here, right?

Wrong.

Thanks to a new Costco membership shared by my new roommate, I somehow ended up with a toaster oven and 12 bagels. Because I cannot possibly eat 12 bagels before they go stale, I threw them in the freezer. I had the brilliant plan that I would pull one out and defrost it each night, giving myself a yummy and filling breakfast each morning. Genius, right?

Ha. Well, I decided I wanted to test the toaster oven out before my 7:30 a.m. breakfast. I pulled a bagel out and, while waiting patiently for the bagel to defrost, learned how to use my toaster oven. After what I assumed was an adequate amount of time, I grabbed a knife and started cutting.

To save you the gory details, I should have followed (received too late) advice that suggested I carve up my bagels before freezing them.

So, with my finger wrapped in gauze (no stitches!), my knee a beautiful shade of purple, and everyone in my office passing around the flu, I’ve started the year off grandly.

I don’t like year long resolutions, but I do like goal setting. Usually they’re either really lofty (love yourself) or really simple (eat a vegetable every day). This month, my resolution is relatively basic: don’t die.

Here’s to 2019. I’m glad I’m here. I’m glad you’re here.