Reclaiming #selfcare: a happiness project

I’ve been holding off on writing this post for several reasons.

I’ve written drafts, none of which felt right. I wasn’t in the right mindset, and I’m not totally sure I am right now. Tonight, I find myself at a cider bar sipping on ice water. The lighting is dim, Ariana Grande’s Sweetener album is on repeat through my rose gold headphones. Tonight, her music inspires me – basic, you say? It’s fine. This scenario doesn’t seem optimal for a blog post, but I’m not sure there’s ever a ~perfect~ time or place.

I’m here alone — it’s just me and the blinking cursor and bright screen that stares me in the face.

My inner monologue loves creating stories about the strangers that surround me. I’ve been told it’s “writer’s brain,” but I also think it’s a result of having constant thoughts spinning. The vibe in here is quiet — it’s chill. I wonder what people are thinking about me. The lone gal aggressively typing at her laptop in an out-of-season floral jumpsuit.

Who am I to these people?

***

My days of late have been jam packed with anxious thoughts. Will my business make it? Why doesn’t this guy want me? Am I eating the right food? Will I ever be a size zero? When will my debt go away? Am I taking on too much? Can I be better at life?

Can I be better at life?

My head repeats this question. It seems like a simple, yes” but how do I get there? How do I develop a better life with a shit ton of anxiety, limited funds and a busy ass schedule?

It seems like I’m faced with the impossible.

That’s how I justify it. A better life is just…impossible.

I usually rationalize this thinking in my head when I’m having shitty thoughts about my body while scarfing down a cookie. I will never be able to make this negative image about myself go away, not yet anyways. 

I tell myself that I’ll be better tomorrow. Tomorrow WILL be the day I make serious moves to being better at life.

The problem is, I’ve never really thought through it. I go through the motions, wash my face and apply expensive toner. I try to meditate every day but then get stressed about making it so routine and get mad at myself when I don’t make the time. I try to give up alcohol, light candles and apply essential oils and think, is any of this fucking working?

I try to define what self-care means to me and find my responses cliché and simply falling into the mold of what it should look like rather than implementing my own creative practices. The health & wellness world has turned into commodified industry that I simply cant’ keep up with.

Tap water is no longer good enough, spend the extra $2 for water with charcoal in it. Vital proteins are ~life~. Flexible dieting is #cool and you can still easily have six pack and eat cake – it’s easy! 

I’m not knocking these practices, I’m just saying it’s exhausting and overwhelming to keep up with. We’re promised all of these amazing results with an easy fix so we drink Kombucha for a day and expect to wake up looking like Blake Lively.

I’m rambling. I know. Rambling on WordPress is one version of self-care that never lets me down. I hope you’re still reading.

***

A few months ago I read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. Tbh, I usually toss books like this to the side because oftentimes self help books are too preachy for me and don’t speak to me like they do all the five-star reviewers on Amazon.

OMG!!!! THIS BOOK SERIOUSLY CHANGED THE WAY I SEE EVERYTHING IN MY LIFE!!! I AM FOREVER CHANGED!!! Really, Karen? I’m calling bullshit.

I’m not an avid book critic, but I will say Rubin’s book was fucking brilliant. A quick synopsis: a woman (Rubin) who has a perfectly fine life and is generally a happy human wants to make her life better — an no, she doesn’t turn in to a ~yogi~. Her journey isn’t an overnight fix, she makes small, manageable steps to make her life better. She sets a theme every month for a year and follows those guidelines while noting her progress. She has pitfalls and fuckups, but don’t we all?

But you have a great life! How can you make it better? 

*Newsflash* you can alwayyzzz make your life better. I want to take on my own happiness project — and UGH yeah I know that sounds cliché, but bear with me. I want to say with 110% that I’ll stick with all this shit, but the way my current brain works, I usually let it fall the wayside. The 34954357 times a charm, right?

There are aspects of my life that I want to tackle head on. Like, in my ultra nirvana, these are things that wouldn’t exist:

  1. Hating my body
  2. Questioning my self-worth when men screw me over/reject me
  3. Using food to solve my emotional turmoil
  4. Picking at my skin
  5. Having to put in extra EXTRA effort to be clean and organized
  6. Food as the enemy

I’m definitely leaving some out, but this is all I can think of at the moment.

In the beginning of the book, Rubin lays out twelve “commandments,” they aren’t specific rules like “stop dating fuckboys” but more so overarching principles in which she tries to live her life. You can view hers here, but here are mine. They might not make any sense to you, but they make sense to me and it’s all about me at the moment so get over it!! (jk)

  1. Think the way you want to live.
  2. Be kind.
  3. Know your worth.
  4. Eyes on the prize.
  5. You’ll figure it out.
  6. You don’t need him. Or him. So put down the damn phone.
  7. Listen to their story and don’t be afraid to tell yours.
  8. Breathe.
  9. Dig deeper.
  10. Get your shit done.
  11. Own who you are.
  12. Find your tribe.

****

Ok, so next is the tough part. Implementing these commandments into my every day life. In the book, she has a “theme” or focus, if you will, associated with every month. With each focus she has a set foundation of rules. I’m not much of a rule follower, so this will be pretty difficult for me.

How do I hold myself accountable? You guys, duh.

This sounds like a super basic thing to do — a journey to find happiness. But it’s more than that. It’s about claiming what happiness means to you, tossing the cliché self-care shit to the side and honing in on what YOU actually want to do.

Like, for example, I can’t get into yoga. I just can’t. Sure, maybe it’s all in the practice, but it stresses me out to become a ~yogi~ so guess what? I’m not gunna do it!!!!! I just won’t!!! Take THAT!

This blog series is going be uber honest — I already know I’ll have my pitfalls and shitty days. I’ll have more fuck-ups than I’ll probably be able to count, but it’s fine! All is good.

I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to share this happiness journey – a weekly blog post with updates, a daily Insta post maybe? Idk – I’ll figure it out.

***

So what’s up for this month?

Mindfulness.

I was going to start off with “health” but tbh I still need time to figure out exactly how I would tackle that one. Health is too broad of a term for me to personally define at the moment.

Have you ever started eating an ice cream cone, taken a lick or two, then noticed all you had was a sticky napkin in your hand? Or been going somewhere and arrived at your destination only to realize you haven’t noticed anything or anyone you met along the way?

I’m really really bad at focusing on the present. My mind is constantly going a million miles a minute and I know for a fact this impacts my anxiety levels, productivity & overall well-being.

You do too much, Beth. I hear this all the damn time. Between my business, bartending gig, running a women’s networking group, grad school & trying to stay sane, it’s a lot.

The problem isn’t the workload, it’s compartmentalizing the workload.

Breathe. Focus. Breathe. Onto the next.

Instead I’m like:

lethwif’pierh’oprj’wiorhaoire’oprk. Breathe, eat. ‘ih[oi’er’oierba;erione roiajr’ paorae.

Yeah, a whole bunch of shit going on in my head I can’t even put into words.

This goes for eating too. I’ve always been a fast eater. I hardly enjoy food unless I’m at a Michelin Star restaurant where the waiters create a mindful experience for you — explaining the tastes, senses etc. I’d love to do this all the time but I can’t afford a $250 meal every night lolz. 

So, ~being mindful~ how the fuck do I do that? I read a bunch of articles on this, most of them saying relatively the same thing. They offer advice and books to read up on. Like I said, the point of this personal happiness project is to create my own version of self-care. Sure, I’ll take advice from the “experts” or whatever…but I’m STILL NOT DOING YOGA EVERY DAY FOR 30 DAYS!

So mindfulness essentially is “being in the moment.” There’s meditation podcast I love that explains mindfulness as sitting in the middle of a road during rush hour. There are cars passing on each side that you’re very much aware of, but you’re choosing not to move. You don’t eliminate the distractions, but instead embrace them and integrate them into your practice. You can’t stop your brain from thinking, but you can learn how to channel it better.

Our reactions to the stressful events of our lives can become so habituated that they occur essentially out of our awareness, until, because of physical or emotional or psychological dysfunction, we cannot ignore them any longer.

SO – I gotta come up with rules for mindfulness this month. Practices that I’m almost 100% positive will be annoying to partake in, but generally, rules are annoying to me so I’ guess I have to swallow my pride for this project. Wish me luck!

After several articles and a bit of deep thought, here’s what I’ve come up with.

  1. Meditation 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes before you go to sleep. Yeah, IDGAF if you get home at 330am after a 12 hour shift. Do it.
  2. Go for a 30 minutes walk with Kevin every morning – no phone. No music. Just you and the sweet sounds of loud car horns and police sirens.
  3. Ten deep breaths before a snack, meal, etc. Think before you eat. Think while you eat. Slow, long bites. After your done, note how you feel.
  4.  While at work, perform a “body scan” once every two hours.
  5. Practice mindful writing once a day. 15 minutes of uninterrupted journaling.

***

My goal is here to be ~in the moment~ more. Focus on the task at hand without the distractions of everything else going on in my life. I don’t have any immediate plan to slow down my life & goals, nor do I really want to. That’s not the point.

I don’t expect to be a super zen monk by the end of these 30 days. Again, my end goal here is to just be better at life. I don’t know how exactly the above rules will change me and my life, but I guess there’s no harm in trying.

The following weeks I’ll be keeping you posted on how things are going – expect a handful of blogs and of course a bunch of Instagrams. Since I’m a thirst monster, follow me on Insta for the day-to-day scoop.

Funnn stuff to come! Thanks for reading.

X,

Beth

Read this if you’re uncertain about what’s next

So, what’s next?
A question as a young-twenty something I get ALL of the time. Usually this is pertaining to jobs, sometimes it’s after I rant about a stupid guy (happens frequently).

I don’t know yet.

A simple answer that usually leaves people with a confused look on their face immediately followed by a cheerful, “Oh, well you’ll figure something out I’m sure!”

Yeah, I know. 

I’m not one to plan. I act on my emotions and intuitions most of the time which can get me into trouble but I also don’t think trusting your gut is entirely as bad as it sounds.

I will figure it out. 

That was the mentality I had when I moved down in here in August, and it’s stuck with me 9 months later. A lot of people have reached out to me asking about the logistics of my move (money, jobs, etc.). They are usually dissatisfied with my answer as I usually reply with something like, “You just kinda figure it out…”

I understand that for some this may be a tough mentality to embrace. If someone were to tell me that a year ago I would probably laugh and then cry after looking at the minuscule number in my checking account.

The F*CK  you mean, “You just kinda figure it out?!”

Well, you do.

I remember the anxiety of graduating all to well. It was a year ago *gasps*, but getting faced with the question of “So, what’s next?” was something I heard more than my first name. If you’re a recent college grad and you don’t know the answer to that yet, it’s ok, because I don’t either. A year later and I don’t have the slightest clue “what’s next.” And that’s totally cool. Well, at least I think it is.

I recently left my 9-5 job. On good terms, but it just wasn’t the right fit for me.

I know that there is a “next step” but it’s just a matter of giving myself enough time to figure out what that next step will be. And for all you job seekers, you could agree that searching for a full time job is a job in itself– why do I have to upload resume AND fill in your online form outlining everything that my resume says? 

While the mantra in pre-graduation was “make connections, have something lined up, check with your career advisor blah blah blah.” The same things pertains to post-grad life except my career advisor is either my mom or an ex-fling who is decent at resume writing. The expectations remain the same, except the bar is set higher after college because you’re supposed to, like, know things or whatever.

I got too drunk on a Tuesday is no longer a viable excuse (but was it really ever?). 

Anyways, if I was “smart” and following the societal career expectations, it would go something like this:

1. Achieve an entry level job.

2. Work hard. Give it your all.

3. Grow within the company or seek other opportunities.

4. Find other opportunity.

5. Put your notice in, leave on good terms.

Here is mine.

1. Achieve an entry level job.

2. Work hard. Give it your all.

3. Grow within the company or seek other opportunities.

4. Accept that I would like to pursue other opportunities.

5. Not be sure about what other opportunities to seek.

6. Put notice in, leave on good terms.

7. Bartend.

Slight difference. But I don’t see why both are not considered honorable.

I was always told to have something lined up before I quit something, but when something doesn’t feel right, I don’t see the point of staying.

Happiness is numero uno, my friends. Remember that.

To the people who don’t know what’s next:

This is exciting sh*t. A bit unnerving at times, but still exciting. People are going to tell you that right now is the time to jumpstart your career. To figure out the best way to get ahead of the next guy. And they’re right-that is important. But don’t settle for something just because you feel like you need to follow the rigid societal structure for the rest of your life.

Because you don’t.

Living in a city so career-focused, my anxiety about figuring out “what’s next” has been heightened at times. Surrounded by successful politicians, consultants, restaurant owners, etc., jobs are always the center of conversation. People are always hustling to get ahead, hustling to make themselves better in a culture full of extremely motivated people. People don’t just live here. They live here because they work here.

I would assume that the number of 23 year olds who live here without a “career plan” set in place is rare. It’s a demographic that I have fallen into, but instead of stressing over it, I embrace the “you’ll figure it out” mentality.

The best is yet to come. And the idea of that excites me. It should excite you too.

You are a marketable human being. Know that. Own it.

Instead of focusing on what you don’t have figured out, focus on what you do have. So what if you have to serve tables to get by? The service industry has introduced me to some of the greatest people and launched my career towards whatever is next. But why does “next” always have to be defined? It shouldn’t.

I see grad school in my future. I also see a really handsome and nice guy who appreciates all things involving pizza and dogs. Definitely see a plane ticket to a random spot on the map. Perhaps a bionic pancreas will get thrown into the mix too.

Those things will come. Maybe not “next,” but someday.

I’m about to experience my first “resume gap” but I’m as concerned with that as I am with thigh gaps (which is very minimal). Some may read this as irresponsible, but I’d have to disagree. It’s not a matter of lacking motivation, it’s a matter of navigating towards where I want to be the best way I know how.

You can’t focus on getting ahead if your current situation is holding you back.

If you just graduated this past weekend, you’re probably wondering what your 100k slip of paper really stands for besides a lifetime of loans.

It stands for a lifetime of blank pages and unexpected outcomes. New cities, new flings, new chapters, new “WTF was I thinking”s. You’re going to piss yourself off a lot along the way, but there will also be countless days where you think, “I’m the shit,” and truly mean it. Hold onto those days.

If I were to give one spiel of advice to newly graduated seniors, it would be this:

Choose new beginnings. Don’t get trapped into the rigid societal structure- that’s what 22 years of school was for. Do what you love, but know that you might have to do something you don’t love as much to get there. Work hard. Make connections- but not just the career oriented kind. Talk to people. Good people. You’re going to fuck up…a lot. You’re going to choose shitty guys, you’re going to piss off your boss. It’s ok. Just be good people. Character trumps bullet points any day if you’re searching for non-monetary fulfillment.

And that is the most important type of fulfillment if you’re looking to mentally survive the real world…trust me.

You’re not always going to know what’s next, and that’s ok. You’ll figure it out.

…at least that’s the mentality I’m going with so I’ll let you know how I turn out. Fingers crossed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pain is inevitable, but so is happiness.

Too often we define our lives by our disappointments. Our failed attempts to control things that simply can’t be controlled. Our emotions, our heartbreaks, our “you’re not good enough” stories. Too often we place the world on our shoulders, attempting to solve problems that simply can’t be solved in the moment, or ever. We feel, and we feel deeply.

Our emotions are both a blessing and a curse. We love with every ounce of our fragile hearts, expecting the best outcomes, only to have our expectations fall short.  We want to change people. We want to change how they feel, how they act. We want to feel like we are worth it. We want to feel wanted.

To my readers: I have felt the way you feel, I have cried the tears you cry. I have defined myself based on the thoughts of others, based on the people who have seemed to take more than they give. I lose a little bit of myself each time. Each time I take that leap of faith, each time I allow my heart and my mind to fall vulnerable to the glimmer of hope I see in others. I tell myself, “Never again.”  I promise myself that this will be the last time I define myself based on how you see me. I promise myself that I’m worth it, even if I’m not worth it to you.

I came to a point in my life where I started asking “Why is the world out to get me?” Bad luck seemed to be embedded into the shadows I crossed, and I was slowly loosening grip on the things that I held onto so firmly. It was like my sensitivity was something to be ashamed of, it was something that only led to tears and let downs.

The world wasn’t out to get me, I was out to get myself.

People are always going to disappoint you. Life is always going to tell you that “you’re not good enough.” Don’t lose hope. Don’t stop taking that leap of faith. Some people say that feeling so deeply is simply a curse, but I’d have to disagree. I feel deeper than most, and maybe I have more failed relationships than you do, but I’ve come to realize that my life is so much more than that.Whit’s Wisdom: He’s Just Not That Into You

My life is more than drunk texts and missed connections. It’s more than shitty people and failed expectations.I’ve learned how to feel with every ounce of my body. With every inch of my skin. And it’s led me to perhaps some of the most rewarding experiences and friendships that wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t put myself out there.

My sensitivity is something that I’ve always tried to hide. I have constantly tried to hide my emotions so far down in the basement of my heart, but I realized doing that only makes me forget who I am. It sends me into an abyss of nothingness, with no set destination. I may allow myself to get hurt, but I’d rather get hurt than feel absolutely nothing. I’d rather cry a thousand times than miss out on a single day true happiness.

Feel deeply, keep taking that leap of faith. Keep putting yourself out there and accept that you will probably get hurt a few more times. You can store your emotions in a black box in the basement of your heart, or you can let yourself be vulnerable. It’s how you fall in love. It’s how you feel. It’s how you understand yourself.  It’s how you’re supposed to live.

You’re not “stupid” for expecting the best out of people. You’re not “naive” for having a hopeless romantic heart.  You’re not “pathetic” for expecting something to come out of what was nothing to him. You feel, and that is perhaps the greatest and most powerful gift life could give you. Embrace it.

Pain is inevitable, but so is happiness.