Category Archives: Life Thoughts

The Best of 2018

January 5, 2019

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!

(Here’s my 2017 recap.)

the best of january.

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.

On the blog, I talked about my 2018 goals and word of the year, as well as my reading goals.

the best of february.

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.

On the blog, I wrote about my February reads and recapped my favorite books of 2017.

the best of march.

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!

On the blog, I wrote about what I was currently loving and about planting roots.

the best of april.

I celebrated one year in Los Angeles! I saw Victoria Beckham while I was getting ice cream. I went to Disneyland. I decided to move in with my now-roommates.

On the blog, I wrote about finding adventure where I am right now and what I was loving.

the best of may.

I saw Taylor Swift in concert with Bri and stayed up all night after the fact to watch the Royal Wedding. I saw Bleachers in concert. I read a lot of books and watched a lot of movies.

On the blog, I answered questions for bookworms and talked about my struggles with anxiety.

the best of june.

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.

On the blog, I only wrote about the books I read in May. Slow blogging month!

the best of July.

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.

On the blog, I started my weekend update series (would love to bring it back!) and wrote about what I was currently loving.

the best of august.

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.

On the blog, I wrote about Playing With Matches.

the best of september.

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.

On the blog, I shared a weekend update and then another one.

the best of october.

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.

On the blog, I wrote about the story behind my arrow tattoo, shared my November Project story, and wrote about attending a screening of the movie First Man.

the best of november.

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.

On the blog, I tried something new for the format of book posts.

the best of december.

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.

On the blog, I shared my November reads.

I’m excited for what 2019 will bring!

The Story Behind My Arrow Tattoo

October 11, 2018

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?

Weekend Update 03 || Labor Day

September 4, 2018

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!

It was a good weekend.

Weekend Update 02 || Harry Styles Live on Tour

July 19, 2018

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.

Weekend Update 01

July 9, 2018

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.

Have you used this app before?

On Sadness + Anxiety

May 16, 2018

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.

Further reading:

I started going back to therapy in the first place because of Rachel Dawson’s posts about it.

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. 

Adventure Fund

April 14, 2018

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.

One Year.

April 4, 2018

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.


March 29, 2018

I think a lot about running. Not just in the literal, both-feet-on-the-ground running (though I do think about that a lot – and just ran a marathon to prove it) but also in the sense of running away from things, and running toward others.

One of my favorite phrases is ‘wild and free,’ because of the feeling it evokes for me: light, airy, someone who does things without giving a care in the world. I think I like the idea of being the girl who’s got a plane ticket in her back pocket and just picks up and goes on a whim. I’m 25. It feels like I shouldn’t need to have things settled by now. I like the idea of being transient and not pinned down, a whole wide world full of options laid out in front of me.

I actually talked to my therapist about how the idea of being pinned down to one option. I can commit to writing 1500 words a day and running a marathon and not spending more money than I’m taking in, but committing to other people is hard for me. And I think that’s why running is so captivating – running means you don’t have to commit. It means you don’t have to be vulnerable. It means you don’t have to be rooted.

Some of my peers are getting married and buying houses and having babies, not necessarily in that order. It feels like I’m at a point where all of that terrifies me, those kind of lifelong commitments that find you attached to another person or situation or place. Sure, you can change those things, but it feels so permanent. I feel way too young for all that, and for a while there I wondered if I meant I’m just too immature. But I don’t think that’s the case – I think I just picked a different path, and I took a little while to figure out what that would be. And the comparison is dumb anyway: I’m happy in LA, with my too-expensive apartment and my independence and my work of figuring myself out.

Running is tempting. When things get hard, I want to do nothing more than get up and leave the situation, no matter what it is. I think running feels really good for a while. It lets you feel like you’re making a change. I think running has a time and a place, and sometimes we don’t know what that is until we’ve done it, but it can’t be a permanent solution.

Sometimes I wonder if when I moved to LA, I was running away from something. Someone accused me of it once. I don’t have an answer, I just know that it felt like the right thing to do in the moment – the only option, really –  and so I did it. Maybe I was running for something: from the cold, from depression, from an environment of my own making that wasn’t serving me anymore. In that case, running was the best course of action.

But it’s not always. My whole life, I’ve dreamed of a close knit community: people who know you, who love you, who call you out on your shit. And I don’t think you get that from running. In fact, I know you don’t. Running doesn’t allow us to build connections, to meet people, to sit with them in the hard times and say “hey, this hurts and I need you to help me get though it, and in return I will do the same for you.” If you’re constantly running, you don’t have those people. You can have friends, sure, but that sense of deep connection isn’t there. That only comes from being rooted.

For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m starting to put down roots. College felt like a temporary thing, where anything could change on a dime, and very frequently did. I was drifting for two years after I finished college, and now I’m in a place that’s starting to feel like home. I have people here who know me and love me, and I don’t feel like I need to have everything together. It feels good.

When I first moved here, I didn’t have a job or or a place to live. I said that I was going to stay for a year, and if I didn’t like it, I could always move back. In a few days, it will have been a year and I’m not planning on going anywhere. The one year plan has stretched into a tentative three years, but not really. I don’t really have a plan to go anywhere else at all. Maybe I’ll move somewhere else one day, but I’m building a community here, one that feels good and supportive and who I can’t imagine leaving.

Anything can happen, but for now I’m planning to stay where I am, to stay rooted. It’s a little scary, but it also feels freeing in a way that I couldn’t have imagined two years ago.

A Quarter Century

March 9, 2018

I turned 25 on Sunday. I think I’m supposed to feel all existential and “oh my God I’m getting SO OLD” about it, and I did for a bit leading up to it, but mainly I’m just incredibly grateful. I’m so grateful that I have this life, with friends who will plan me a big fancy brunch and bring number balloons (my secret dream that I have literally never expressed to anyone on the planet for fear of it being so basic) and take me to the beach and to bookstores and for tacos and take a thousand photos of me laughing in front of different murals. The weather was good, the laughs were plentiful, and I feel lucky.

Things I don’t want to forget: being told I needed to stay in the car because I got there early (which never happens), the fact that the man who took our big group photo turned out to be the author of Call Me By Your Name, which Bri and I had gone to see the night before, it being Oscar Sunday which hasn’t ever happened before and will likely never happen again, eating tacos for dinner, being too full to eat my free birthday milkshake after breakfast + mimosas + cake, the fact that there was cake at all, sitting on the beach and listening to the ocean and going to two bookstores.

I am 25, and I am thankful.