I started a newsletter last month. And I realized that I’ve mentioned it here, but I’ve never straight up talked about it or told you how to subscribe. (Spoiler: you can do so at the bottom of this post.)
Three Things (on Thursday) is a weekly newsletter where I send things that make your life a little better, week after week. This comes in the form of three things to read (usually books or links to articles), two things that you should know, and one thing I’ve learned in recent weeks.
It’s been a blast to write, and I would love if you joined the community and subscribed!
Hannah wrote a post about her gifts of January and I couldn’t help but be inspired to emulate her and write my own.
WORKING OUT AGAIN :: After a weird few weeks where my relationship to fitness + health felt rocky, it was lovely to move my body a whole bunch toward the end of the month. My mottos are ‘baby steps’ and ‘have some fun with it.’ My fitness life since running the marathon last March has certainly had its ups and downs, and I want to be better about caring for myself.
OWNING MY FEELINGS :: I am the queen of downplaying my feelings + emotions for the sake of feeling like I don’t take up too much space. I desperately hate the idea that people may think I’m overshadowing them or that I’m inconveniencing them by sharing my emotions. In January I tried harder to let myself sit in my feelings and let them be what they are. There’s no point in pretending I don’t have big feelings, no matter how hard I try.
A FRESH START FOR FINANCES :: I’ve written before about how using You Need a Budget changed my relationship to money (here and here). For a six/seven week stretch of November through January, it felt like I completely went off the rails and abandoned all semblance of budget categories. I ended up doing a fresh start with the program (super easy) and even in the last week it’s been nice to feel like I’m a bit more in control.
READING DURING LUNCH BREAKS :: I try very hard to take an actual lunch break away from my desk, and lately I’ve been trying to fill that time with reading. Sometimes I’ll eat lunch at my desk while I work and then I’ll have a full half hour to read whatever I want. A mini gift: reading books I want and giving myself the permission to put them down when I’m not interested!
NOT WORKING EVERY WEEKEND :: From Halloween to Christmas, I worked pretty much every weekend between my two jobs. Now that I’m no longer working the seasonal retail job, I’ve had weekends to myself. It’s been lovely to have a bit more time to breathe. I do laundry, I sleep, I see friends, and I grocery shop. I read a lot of books. It’s wonderful.
A DAIRY-FREE LIFE :: I learned a few months ago that I function better without dairy. My skin clears up and I feel much better when I’m not eating it. In Ireland I was able to eat as much as I wanted without issue, but the dairy must be different here because I have totally different results. Ice cream hurts my stomach and cheese makes me break out. Any time I don’t eat dairy is like a gift to myself. It’s a gift I squander some times, but when I don’t eat it, I feel better.
Instead of doing a typical “year in review” post, I’ve decided to instead recap the best of each month of the year. To do this, I went through my monthly highlights on Instagram and wrote down the very best things!
I spent the first day of the year in San Diego. I woke up early and went to visit November Project San Diego, which was my first ‘traverbal’ and so fun, even if my parents were hesitant about dropping me off at 6 am in a park on a foggy morning. The Patriots made it to the playoffs. I ran my fifth half marathon, this time with my friend Mallory.
I saw The Killers in concert on the first of the month and Dua Lipa the following week. I started cycling classes. I had feelings about doing the damn thing, aka making it work in LA. I read a lot of books, saw Black Panther, and started watching Queer Eye.
I turned 25 with a really fun celebration. I went to a lot of movies. I ran a marathon! I tried to go home but my flight was cancelled for a snowstorm on the East Coast. I had extra time in LA as a result. I worked at the Irish Film Festival in Boston, and I got to hug my dog!
I voted in my first California primary. I did two workouts on Global Running Day, one in the morning with November Project and the second with Lululemon. I went to Pride. I ended the month in Santa Barbara visiting my friend Sarah.
I got a fun freelance gig. I saw The Goblet of Fire at the Hollywood Bowl, with an orchestra playing the film score. I saw Harry Styles Live on Tour two nights in a row. I flew to Philadelphia, where I got to hug my friend Sara, and then made my way up the East Coast. My second stop was New York, where I stayed with two different friends and decided that California was still where I wanted to be living for now. My last stop was home, where I saw my dog, hugged my family, and went to the beach.
I saw Niall Horan in concert three times in one week: once in Irvine, CA, and twice at the Greek Theatre (my fave) in LA. I ran a lot. A picture from my bookstagram was featured in a post on Buzzfeed. I went to Disneyland three times in one weekend, since my pass was about to expire. November Project did Hell Week, which involved five straight days of workouts. I saw Panic! at the Disco in concert. I saw my friend Mallory again. I flew to Denver and saw Niall Horan at Red Rocks.
I went to the Getty Museum with Bri. I ran a 5k race, my first official race since the Marathon in March. I hiked a mountain, and thought I would maybe die in the process. I had my first Adventure Day, which involved seeing Needtobreathe in concert. I went to a book swap, and came away with a bunch of books. I saw Bastille in concert. I started marathon training.
I went to Malibu Wines with friends. The Red Sox made the playoffs and then won the World Series against the Dodgers (while in LA!) so that was very fun for this Boston transplant. I got a new job at Athleta and made good use of the generous discount right from the start.
I voted in the midterm elections and got a long overdue haircut the same day. I got a massage due to some back issues, and contemplated making it a regular monthly thing (still haven’t bit the bullet, but hopefully!). I ran a turkey trot and got to see my friend Mallory again. Had a surprise welcome home party for my friend Molly.
I started the month with a new job at the LA Marathon and put my LA marathon dreams on hold as a result, since I now have to work that weekend. I saw Picture This in concert the same day I started the job. I caught up with friends over coffee dates and dinners. I started a newsletter, Three Things on Thursday. I went to Ireland for Christmas and New Years, my first time in the country since July 2016.
My idea of myself as a person who would never, ever get a tattoo changed in the spring of 2014. I was a few weeks away from the end of my study abroad semester in Paris, and a couple of my friends decided that they wanted to get tattoos. For the first time, I didn’t meet the idea with “no way, never ever” but instead a feeling of “I’d like one, but I don’t know what I would get.”
That feeling stayed with me for a few years – until last summer, when I started to think more seriously about the idea of getting one. I knew at some point I wanted to get a flower, likely a peony or a rose, but I didn’t know where I wanted it to go. So I set that one aside and kept thinking. I don’t remember when I got the idea, but it seemed like it came to me, fully formed: an arrow tattoo on my forearm.
(I should mention that after I got the tattoo, I remembered that Kristin of Taz and Belly had gotten an arrow tattoo on her wrist the year before, and I loved it. I must have shelved it in the back of my mind!)
So what does it mean? I’m gonna be honest: I partially got this just because I liked it. Not every tattoo has to be meaningful! I have friends with lots of tattoos, some they got just because they wanted it in the moment. To some it may seem like a careless way to treat your body, but to others it’s art.
That said, there were a couple of reasons I got this:
Arrows represent forward movement, and I wanted something to represent moving across the country and starting a new life.
There’s a line in one of my favorite songs by the band The Maine: “Stay soft but don’t be gentle.” I loved that an arrow is delicate but also capable of making a big impact – or doing some damage!
I liked it!
I definitely intend to get a flower at some point, but I still haven’t figured out where I want it, So while this is my only tattoo for now, it probably won’t be my only tattoo forever.
Do you have any tattoos? Do they mean anything special?
It’s been a few weeks since I wrote anything! Life is crazy busy and lots has happened: a trip to the East Coast, a trip to Denver, the end of summer. But for now, Labor Day.
Friday evening after work I celebrated getting paid and took myself to a cafe whose sandwiches I love to get a bit of freelance work done. Then I went to bed very early.
Saturday, I went to the beach with my coworker (and inevitably got a sunburn to show for it) before going to my friend Blake’s house for a little party with some friends from my workout group. She lives really close to where I used to live, and after I left her house that night I drove past my old apartment for some nostalgia. That was a sweet apartment.
Sunday I went with my roommate Bri to get a tattoo. I thought about getting one but I don’t have the money for it right now. Then we went to the Getty Museum to look for snake rings (we’ve been inspired ever since we saw Taylor Swift in May) since we heard their Egyptian exhibit had some for sale. That turned out to not be the case (either they don’t sell them anymore or they were sold out) but we still had a great time at the museum. It’s gorgeous up there. I can’t wait to go back and then write a proper post about it. After the museum we went directly to our friend Hannah’s house for her birthday party. She did a DIY outdoor movie night and we all watched Now and Then, because it has nostalgic value for her. I’d never seen it before but it was cute.
Yesterday I ended up going to a yoga class at the new gym I joined (that makes two Mondays in a row I’ve gone to yoga now) and then camped out in Starbucks for a few hours to get some work done. My computer’s been acting up and gets frustrated if you don’t pay it attention every day, so it took a while to warm up, but I did manage to get some stuff done! I always find that at least starting things in a new location makes me more inspired to finish them later at home. From there I went to Trader Joe’s and then home to cook, do laundry, and get ready for the week!
I wrote a sappy instagram caption last September about how Harry Styles’ solo career has influenced my life here in Los Angeles more than anything else. This is what I wrote:
If there’s one person who’s affected my strange, random move to Los Angeles more than any other, it would be Harry Styles. Not just because he actually started doing stuff when I got to the West Coast (his first song came out my third morning here) but also because he’s out in the world telling people to be brave and kind to others, and love whoever they love, and that it’s okay to be scared of trying new things, and it’s alright to stay home and watch rom-coms, and that not everyone’s going to like you so you should just do what you want to do instead of caring what they think. So to watch him on stage last night when I’m just shy of six months here was deeply emotional and I’ll never forget it. Thanks for the show, @harrystyles, and also for being a really great life inspiration.
I still stand by everything I wrote back then. I got to see him perform another show in Phoenix, AZ a few weeks later, and then I didn’t see him again until this past weekend. I bought the tickets last June, before I even saw him that first time. It happened this weekend, and it was the best, best time. I think people sometimes wonder why you’d go see the same artist multiple times in a year, but to me it’s a different show every time. The basic truth is that I feel like my best, most empowered, happiest self at a concert like Harry’s, and I want to capture that feeling as much as I can.
The opening artist was Kacey Musgraves. I really liked her! My seats both nights were alone, but my roommates and some of my other friends were in the audience too, so it didn’t quite feel like I was alone. I lucked out and had a great seat both nights – I didn’t have to look at the screen and I could see his actual face! That’s never happened to me before. Weirdly, my seat was in the same exact spot both times. Not weirdly, both nights were incredible. After the first night, a bunch of us went to Mel’s Diner to essentially process our feelings. It’s one of the only central 24-hour places around, so the restaurant was filled with people who’d been to the concert. Some of them were wearing merch and some of them I could just tell.
The next day, I had to bring my car in for a new tire, my roommates Liz and Bri hosted a picnic for their friends by our pool, and then we got ready and did it again!
The last show was a blast. He played the last song three times, like he didn’t want the show to end as much as we didn’t want it to. Notes to self: if you can go to the same show multiple nights in a row, do it, and if you can get to the last show of a tour, absolutely do it.
I walked away with a hoodie, a new water bottle, and no voice. We went out to a late-night dinner somewhere else, and I sat around and looked at the people I was with, super grateful for the whole weekend. I had the best time, and I can’t wait to save up money so I can do it again.
I downloaded the HUJI app a few weeks ago. It’s the one that everyone’s been using to make their photos look like they came from digital cameras. It’s really cool. I like how artsy it feels; it’s no different than taking a bunch of photos with your regular camera app and then filtering them, but it feels cool and imperfect. I thought it’d be fun to start sharing my week through photos from the app every so often.
I just finished the book Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. I read all of it in one day on Sunday, between coffee on the couch and sitting by the pool in my new apartment complex and reading before bed. It’s about a 16 year old named Aza who tries to solve the mystery of the disappearance of a childhood friend’s dad with her best friend Daisy.
But it’s not really about the mystery. It’s more about her mental illness: her constant fears that she’s getting sick, that bacteria is invading her body, that she’s going to wake up one day deathly ill. There’s a constant loop in her head: you’re getting sick NO I’M NOT you are you are you are SHUT UP you’re sick sick sick BE QUIET what if you’re dying what if this is the end.
That’s a paraphrase since I don’t have the book with me, but it’s a pretty realistic depiction of her thoughts. And let me tell you: they stressed me out because they were meant to, and because I identify with them.
I’ve had depression before, and back then it manifested as wanting to cry every day, feeling like I needed to sleep all the time, and walking around with the overwhelming sense that nothing I was doing had any real purpose. I was finished with college, living with my parents, and I didn’t have any real goals. It felt like there were weighted bricks around my ankles, keeping me stuck where I was, and I couldn’t figure out how to move. I saw a therapist who diagnosed me with anxiety and mild depression, and it was a relief to hear those words, like someone was saying there’s a name for this. You are not alone. With my therapist’s guidance, I started to feel better: there was value in things again, I moved to LA, I made a new life for myself.
And lately I’ve started to feel like the depression might be coming back.
At first I didn’t. It didn’t feel like before. On one hand, everything in my life is fine: I’m healthy, going to work every day, and I have people in my life to talk to. I recently moved in with two close friends, I ran a marathon, I’m fairly accomplished in ways I couldn’t identify two years ago when things felt really bad.
This time it’s different. I’ve been feeling down lately, the kind where I just want to go home every afternoon, curl up into a ball under some warm blankets, and take a nap. I want to be hugged, but I don’t really want anyone to touch me. I feel like I go to work every day and it’s like… pointless, almost. I’m not working out as much as I was before, which I know is a factor, but it’s a weird kind of spiral: I know exercising would make me feel better, but I don’t want to do it. I’ve been feeling more anxious than usual, checking doors a handful of times even though I know I’ve locked them, feeling a need to make sure I have things in order, the list goes on. I’d just been thinking of things as a weird sort of dissatisfaction.
I didn’t really catalogue any of this as depression until my friend asked me if it was “the weird sad unsettled dissatisfaction when you have clinical depression but aren’t having an #episode” and it hit me like a slap in the face, like Oh. So maybe that’s what that is. Obviously friends can’t diagnose you with anything, but we talked about my feelings further and I started to think, yeah, maybe. So I don’t know what’s really happening, and I don’t know if this post has a point, but I just wanted to say that it’s okay not to be okay, even if the not-being-okay is something I really struggle with.
I’ve been seeing a therapist for a couple months and I haven’t talked about this with any of her, in part because I think I’m really, really good at pretending things are fine when they’re not. In my head, of course things are fine, because why wouldn’t they be?
I’m not sure if this post has a point, really, other than to say: things feel hard sometimes, I’m going to keep going to therapy and moving my body and eating better foods and journaling. I wish that there was more openness in the world about mental health and going to therapy, and I’m here to say that doing that before genuinely changed my life, so there’s no reason it can’t again.
I know Hannah Brencher has written a lot on this topic, and everything she’s written is incredible.
I just read this piece by Vivian Nunez, who has written a bunch of posts since on the topic; everything I’ve written by her inspires me to love people more deeply and to be a better writer + human.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and this post was honestly pretty scary to write and will likely be 10x scarier to share, but I think it’s really, really important to talk about it. Please reach out to someone if you need help; it’s okay not to be okay.
When I was home, I spent some time cleaning things from the attic. My parents’ attic is furnished and has, over time, served as a guest room, a storage area, (very briefly) my sister’s bedroom, and now it’s back to being a bit of a catchall area. I moved without really organizing any of my things, so I took a couple hours to go through them and consolidate a bit, mostly because my mom gave me a few not-so-subtle hints that she wants the space back. When I was cleaning, I found the above jar in a box of things from senior year of college.
I remember writing the words ‘adventure fund’ in pink Sharpie in my single dorm senior year, sticking the label carefully onto the jar from IKEA. I’m sure I thought it was going to go to pay for great things: plane tickets abroad or a hotel on the beach, maybe drinks at a busy pub in Europe. As I picked through the coins, searching for quarters to take back to Los Angeles so that I could do my laundry, I thought about how 21 year old me might have found that fact a little bit sad.
And then I stopped myself. Those quarters from three years ago are funding the adventure I’m living now, even if it’s not in the way I expected. They paid for my laundry when I got back home, which made it possible for me to wear clothes to work. It seems an overly dramatic way to talk about a little jar of coins, but it really did get me thinking about how life doesn’t always work out the way we expect, but sometimes it’s still really, really good.
A year ago today, I slipped off my shoes at security, placed my laptop in a tray, and walked through the metal detector. I waved goodbye to my dad and my sister, tried to keep it together until I could get my things back in order, and rounded the corner to the gate, trying not to cry.
I was moving to Los Angeles, a place I’d only been once before, with two suitcases and a vaguely hope-shaped thing in my heart. Forget getting to LAX with a dream and a cardigan; I had an address to give a cab driver and a tiny plan of what I was doing after that, but no job and no place to live. It was this crazy idea that felt right, and I was following it.
I passed through that same metal detector last week, and waved goodbye to my dad cheerfully. There was no instagram picture of a smiling Harry Styles to stop me from breaking into tears this time, but I didn’t need one. I was going back home, leaving one home for another, and I was looking forward to it.
It’s been a year of big, big changes. The girl I was last April 4th has nothing on the girl I am this April 4th. I’ve had to learn how to show up for myself. I’ve had to become my own best friend in a very real sense. I’ve gone places alone and stretched my comfort zone. I’ve been let down by people and had my heart broken and cried myself to sleep a whole bunch of times. I’ve spent way more money than I wanted to and then developed the painful-but-necessary budgeting habits that prevent me from doing that again.
Moving somewhere where I only vaguely knew a handful of people has been forced me to be really ballsy. When my landlord was uncertain about approving me for the apartment, I had to stand up for myself. When I didn’t have anyone to hang out with, I went places alone. When potential new friends got busy and didn’t answer my texts, I learned not to take it personally and chose to reach out again. When I heard the girl in front of me at an event talking about how she lived in my neighborhood, I got brave and talked to her. In a very real sense, that act ended up changing my life here in Los Angeles: it led me to join November Project and led me to signing up for the marathon, two things that have been hugely important to me.
I’m a person who doesn’t tend to take enough credit for the things she’s accomplished, but I can say this: I moved across the country without a job or friends, and I’ve made a life for myself that I like more than the one I left behind. It’s not revolutionary and I’m not the first or last to do it, but I am really f***ing proud that I’ve done it.
Last year on this date, I borrowed my friend Kelly’s car and took a drive to the beach to watch the sunset and eat pizza. It’s a monthly tradition I’ve tried to keep up as much as I can, and this month is no exception. But this time I’m bringing friends, and I’m going to toast to year two.