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

Soggy chicken tenders.

Every time I get a new job, this is usually how conversations go down:

Me: I got a new job!!!!

Friend: Congrats! Is this job #5?

Me: No!!!!! …..number 4. *mumbles*

Friend: You cray.

Basically, I’m always working. Ask anyone.

Continue reading Soggy chicken tenders.

10 Things 21 Year Olds Don’t Want To Hear

I’ve seen lists like this before but I figured I’d make my own because I think I’ve heard the following at least 5 times this week. Begin rant:

1. “Do you ever put your phone down? You’re obsessed with that thing.”
No, I don’t ever put my phone down. I’m too busy completing my photo-shoot for Simon at Muse Magazine in the Kim K game and responding to important text messages about the Bachelorette. My iPhone is a big part of my life. I feel lost without it, and I don’t care how shallow that sounds. So, yes I am obsessed with the “thing” that holds all of my overly edited sunset pics, embarrassing screenshots, and overall connection to the outside world. It’s Apple’s world and we’re just living in it.

2. “The dating culture of your generation is so messed up.”
You don’t think I know it’s f*cked up that many relationships start through snapchat or we consider a “good morning” text the end all be all in determining if a guy is dateable? I do know that, but it’s how it is. No need to remind me.

3. “Ugh you still drink that shit alcohol? Come on grow up you’re 21!”
I am fully aware that rubinoff tastes like shit. But I’m 21. I couldn’t care less about the quality of alcohol. If it’s affordable and does the job than that’s all that matters. If you want to buy me Grey Goose than be my guest, but I won’t value it over shit vodka. Alcohol is alcohol. Vodka will always taste like rubbing alcohol no matter what price tag you put on it. My money can be better spent on other things–like drunk pizza or something.

4. (Continuing with number 3) “You were wasted last night, doesn’t being legal make you want to control yourself a little more?”
No, no it doesn’t. Exact opposite actually.

5. “One more year til the real world!!”
The world is only real when I make it real.

6. “You’re so young! You have the rest of your life to meet your soulmate. You don’t know what real love is, don’t settle now.”
I JUST WANT SOMEONE TO BUY ME FOOD AND CALL ME PRETTY, OK?

7. “When I was your age…”
No. Just stop there. The economy also tanked when you were my age but you don’t see me judging you for that.

8. “Your generation is in for a rude awakening.”
Ohhhhhh so you’re a fortune teller now? Cool! So, could you also tell me how much my future husband is going to make?

9. “What are your plans for after you graduate?”
Idk? Fly to the moon? I have no idea what the future holds. I’d like to ship off to some foreign country and do all this crazy shit but odds are I’ll be stuck in an office cubicle all day wondering how my life got so remedial and boring.

10. “Whatever happened to face to face conversation? You kids and your texting. Jesus.”
I’m perfectly capable of having an intelligent conversation with another human being, I’m not brain dead. However, I can’t use emojis in everyday conversations, so iMessage it is.

We are 21. We drink too much, make stupid decisions, and don’t quite have it all figured out yet. We will spend way too much time on our iPhones; not because we are self absorbed and anti social, but because that’s how we feel connected. You tell us to save money, but then also complain when you see us drink cheap alcohol. We can simply never win. You were 21 once and turned out just fine, didn’t you? Leave us alone.

The insignificant stranger

There are some people in our lives that we are always drawn back to no matter how hard we try to push them away. There’s some sort of unbreakable bond that is out of our control that forces us to hold on. As humans, we control the relationships we have with people and let people come in out of our life as a result. We try to surround ourselves with people who make us feel good, people that bring out a light in us that we sometimes can’t find the strength to do ourselves.

Forming new relationships is a part of our every day life. We are constantly interacting with complete strangers and sometimes that complete stranger can turn into one of the most important people in your life. It’s kind of interesting to think about. At one point, everyone who is in your life now was once a complete and total insignificant stranger.

So what happens when you fall in love with that complete stranger? Someone seemingly so insignificant turns into someone more important than you ever thought imaginable. It started out with a conversation. Two people who know nothing about each other exchange numbers and it goes from there. It turns into the type of relationship that every text, call, and kiss makes you smile. It makes you hate life for not bringing them into your life sooner.

They make you believe in fate. If you hadn’t gone to that certain house party, if you turned down a different street corner, if you were too busy texting your ex boyfriend to notice anyone else. One small alteration in your actions and this insignificant stranger would stay a stranger for the rest of your life. Do I believe in fate? I’m not really sure. But I do believe certain people come in and out of your life just when you need them to, even if you don’t see it at the time.
However, we live in a world where some relationships just don’t last forever. We all want our fairy tale ending with the guy of our dreams. And that’s why we date people. We date people to feel loved and desired. We date people for the hope that they’ll be in your life forever. So, when something doesn’t work out the way we planned, we search for a concrete reason why this guy wasn’t The One. We call him an asshole. Tell our friends he treats us like shit. You promise yourself you’re going to cut ties completely and move on, even though you know you’re going to miss the hell out of him.

We force ourselves to hate our exes because it helps us develop a reason for why it didn’t work. It gives us a peace of mind when we are trying to pick up the pieces of what was once such a beautiful relationship that we thought would last forever. We try to make them into insignificant strangers even though we know it isn’t possible.
It’s one of the hardest things in the world to admit to yourself that you fell out of love. It’s hard to not blame it on his “asshole” tendencies or lack of “I love you” text messages. It took me a while to admit it to myself. I searched for reasons why my past relationship didn’t work but the more I searched the worse I felt. I didn’t want a simple explanation like “I don’t love him anymore” because there didn’t seem to be a real reason for why I didn’t feel that way anymore. I wanted to hate him, and for a while I let myself believe I did. Hating him took a lot of energy out of me. I had to try to hate him which is even worse than simply hating him.

When people break up it’s often expected to cut ties completely and to treat the time they spent together as if it is a distant memory that should be buried 100 ft underground and never talked about again. Why is that? Why do we always try to turn our exes into insignificant strangers? Why is it so hard just accepting the fact that the flame that was once there is gone and leaving it at that?

It’s one of the hardest things in the world. Admitting defeat. Admitting that this certain person won’t give you the fairy tale ending that you thought they would. Admitting that this stranger isn’t The One. Is that a reason to cut them out completely? It’s important to remember that they came into your life for a reason, and it’s OK to keep them there. It’s OK to not have any romantic feelings for them but still text them frequently. It’s OK to walk on the beach with them and not hold hands. It’s OK to maintain a relationship with them, even if it’s a different dynamic. Because, the truth is, they’ll never be the insignificant stranger they once were.

Break ups happen and the hardest part is the feeling of missing them. But, what exactly do you miss about it? If you miss having them in your life than keep them there. Talking to your ex doesn’t make you weak, it makes you human. You can search forever for reasons why it didn’t work or you can just accept it and move forward. You can fall in love with dozens of strangers in your life, but you can also fall out of love with all of them too. Hating someone it’s tiring, so unless you have a really good reason to, don’t.

Falling out of love isn’t a curse, it’s a part of life. Don’t hold onto something that isn’t there anymore because you don’t want to admit defeat. Allow yourself to fall out of love, it’ll do more for yourself than you think.

12 Things All High School Girls Should Realize

2 blog posts in 3 days, what?!

Some of you college grads may hate me for saying this– but I feel so old. High school graduations are in about a month and the fact that mine was 3 years ago is quite terrifying. In two years I’ll be suiting up to go to my 5 year anniversary to see some of my fellow 2011 classmates and attempt to act surprised about pregnancies, weight gain, and engagements even though Facebook has already informed me. There are plenty of things I miss about high school, but if you were to ask me if I could go back, no way in hell. High school were some of the best, but also some of the worst times of my life. Ask me 3 years ago if I would be at the point in my life emotionally and physically that I am today I would say hell-to-the-no.

One of my readers emailed me asking if I could write about things I wish I realized in high school–let me tell you girl, that list is never ending. I’ll try and attempt to narrow it down to the major ones. So, Kayla from Bloomfield, CT, this ones for you!

1. High school boyfriends are fun, but realize you have the rest of your life to find your soulmate.

I myself had a long term boyfriend in high school, and it was certainly a relationship that I will never forget. I’d like to consider him “my first love,”  and “my first heartbreak,” but my idea of true love has changed drastically as I’ve grown older. I’ve realized that you don’t know what true love is until you and your partner are living completely separate lives but still have the power to grow together. You may think that you see the rest of your life with that person, but don’t wish away your life just yet. Allow yourself to live your own life before you promise yourself to someone else’s. There is no love quite like high-school love, so embrace it and have fun with it, but don’t let it control your life. 

2. There are no friends quite like high school friends.

I’ve met some pretty awesome people at UMass and here in South Africa, people that I will be in contact with for the rest of my life. However, my high school friends will always hold a special place in my heart. I have had the privilege of being part of possibly the most amazing friend group since my freshman year of high school. They have gotten me through the toughest times and have helped created memories that I will never forget. So, going along with #1, don’t focus so much on boys. Focus on friendships with people because those are the people who will be there when your boyfriend isn’t.

3. Stacy calling you a slut may seem like the worst thing in the world, but you will get through it.

Girls are mean. They thrive of drama, start rumors for the fun of it, and sometimes pay no mind that they are destroying someone else’s life. I’ve been called things that I’ll never forget. When I would be mixed into the scandal of the week and people talked about me, I let it destroy me. I’d come home and cry, hating everyone and everything. Unfortunately, the bullying never stops. People are going to call you every name in the book if it makes themselves feel better. 6 months back, a girl told people that I had an eating disorder, and rather than confronting me about it, she treated it as a scandal worth talking about with everyone but myself. It was a horrible thing to deal with, and it made me realize that there will ALWAYS be people who are going to challenge your self-worth. Don’t let them. Stacy might call you a slut, but I bet Kara thinks you’re one of the most amazing girls out there. Don’t focus on the negativity people bring into your life, focus on the people who see the good in you, even when you can’t see it yourself.

4. Make decisions that you’ll be proud of later down the road.

I make stupid choices on the reg. I find myself thinking, “What the fuck are you doing?” more times than I’d like to admit and I certainly made plenty of stupid decisions in high school. It’s impossible to be perfect, but it’s important to always be conscious of how the decisions you make will affect you later down the road. Alcohol and partying will always be there, don’t let those things get in the way of the captainship of your sports team that you worked so hard to get.

5. Don’t be a bitch.

It’s such an obvious statement but my GOD girls can be such bitches. Seriously, keep your goddamn mouth shut and if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Don’t call Miranda fat behind her back, don’t make fun of Hannah’s wardrobe, and simply put: don’t be a bitch. Being a bitch isn’t in style, and it never will be. “People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” It’s not cool to have everyone raise their hand when asked if they’ve been personally victimized by you (~~*hApPy 10 yEaR AnNivErsAry Mean Girlzz*~~). But, yeah, just be nice, please? 

6. 98% of your classmates will have second hand embarrassment for you when you engage in social media drama.

Ahhh, social media. Our best and worst friend all at the same time. Subtweets-we’ve all done at least one. Facebook fights-are those still a thing? Engaging in a fight over the internet or posting a status about someone is so ridiculous I can’t even fathom why people do it in the first place. “Fuckin’ ratchet hoe!!!!! Lmao!!! No wonder why no one likes you, stupid slut!! lol!! :p :p” Like, no, you’re a ratchet hoe for posting that. What was the point in posting that? Please, enlighten me. “Thank you for making my life a living hell, fuck you and your stupid unibrow. #sad #depressed #someonepleaseretweetandfavoritethissomyexboyfriendwillseethisandgetbacktogetherwithme” #Youlookstupid. Social media isn’t a place to hate on your parents or to slut shame, so don’t do it. Text your BFF about it, because that’s what she’s there for.

7. Make out with multiple dudes (or gals) at a concert while it’s still socially acceptable.

Comcast center lawn seats and Cossack in Poland Spring water bottles fo’ lyfe!

8. Realize you can’t be everyone’s best friend.

You can spend your life wondering why she doesn’t like you, or you can accept your differences and move past it. There will always be people who don’t agree with the decisions you make, and will find any reason not to like you. “She bought the same prom dress as me, she deff did it to piss me off.” People are always going to find a reason to criticize you no matter what you do. You don’t need people like that in your life. Don’t hate on her, but don’t waste your energy on her either. Spend time with people who enjoy your company.

9. Strive to be popular.

No, I’m not talking about the “popular” crowd who drinks and parties every weekend. Although I partied on occasion in high school, I also made a conscious effort to get to know other people in my grade as well. I didn’t restrict myself to one group of friends. Get involved and talk to people that you’d never thought you’d get along with. You’d be surprised about how many awesome people are in your grade that you just don’t know too much about. Alcohol and partying doesn’t make you popular, so don’t let yourself believe it does. Go outside your comfort zone and see who else is out there.

10. High school doesn’t last forever.

Sometimes it probably feels like you’ll be trapped in the same school forever, surrounded by the same people, dealing with the same drama. I felt like that sometimes. By the second half of my senior year, I was ready to get the hell out. I was ready for new faces and most certainly ready for a fresh start. Some of the things you deal with in high school may feel like the worst thing in the entire world, but don’t worry, there is still a whole new chapter in your life that you have yet to explore. Don’t wish your life away, but also realize high school is just a small part of life that is over before you know it.

11. Be yourself.

I get that this is easier said than done. But, if you think about, we are actually all huge losers, we just don’t show it. I’m not asking you to dance in your underwear to Taylor Swift down the hallway because it’s what you do in private (Am I the only one?), but don’t sacrifice who you are to fit in. Cliques will always be there, and the challenge to feel like you belong is always a struggle. We all want to feel like we are keeping up with the societal norms in fear that people may reject us if we don’t. You may not have yourself figured out by the time you graduate, but people will certainly respect you more if you are true to who you are.

12. The love you have for yourself is more important than any love that anyone can provide.

Love yourself. Love every inch about yourself because it’s the best kind of love that life can provide. When you love yourself you won’t need a boy to tell you how beautiful you are because you’ll already know it. One of the most important things I learned in these 3 years is that happiness starts from within. Don’t blame other people for the black cloud that follows you. You’re the one who is letting that black cloud follow you, so do something about it. You’re ex-boyfriend isn’t the one that is making you cry, neither is that bitch Stacy, you are letting yourself cry. I understand things happen that you can’t control, but two things that you can control in life are the love you have for yourself and your inner happiness. Learn to control those two things and you’ll live an amazing life.

The list could go on and on, but I those are the major ones for me.

Enjoy high school while you can and make memories with the people that matter most (but college is so much better).

I hope this helps Kayla! 🙂