Before we launch into this, I’d like to say: welcome to my new body copy font, Garamond. If you read The New Yorker, this typeface should look familiar. It’s all part of my grander plan to incept my editorial ethos into your consciousness. Carry on.
I was listening to a Ted Radio Hour podcast the other morning about how everything in nature is connected—that each small piece of the biome, from the lions to the bees, plays a pivotal role in maintaining the equilibrium of the environment.
I bet you think I’m about to launch into a diatribe about teamwork, but plot twist: I really just want to talk about bees.
This nature expert (how do nature experts make money? Who pays their bills? Mother Nature, MBA?) was commenting on how bees truly are busy—they never stop moving. They’re constantly doing. As she’s expounding upon the wonders of bees’ work ethics, I was zoning out a little. This wasn’t exactly news to me given their popularized nickname.
But then she compared them to humans.
“Self-awareness is what holds humans back.”
Wait, what? I turned up the speaker and backed up 15 seconds to make sure I had heard her correctly.
If you’ve ever been in a room or on a car ride with me for longer than, I don’t know, 12 minutes, chances are you’ve probably heard me prattle on about the unmatched benefits of ~self-awareness~. Really understanding yourself, your motivations, and your feelings is the key to true happiness—right? Wrong, apparently, according to Nature Lady.
I had never heard self-awareness characterized as a negative trait before. I always imagined it as the pathway to unlocking boundless potential, success in your interpersonal relationships, and probably a few other things that read like chapters in How to Win Friends and Influence People.
Her ‘hypothesis,’ if you could call it that (which I can’t, because it was more a passing remark in her talk about biome interdependency), was that spending a lot of time thinking about and reflecting on shit without taking any action can make you miserable.
While an initially shocking declaration, it does align pretty closely with another theory that’s been percolating in my drafts for months, unpublished. (In fact, you’re probably reading an adaptation of that very draft right now!)
My original theory was that being overly analytical in romantic situations (and otherwise, really) was largely the byproduct of having too much time on your hands. (Of course, being analytical is also a personality trait—but I think it’s exacerbated in everyone when you have a lot of idle time.)
Think about it: if you’re bored a lot, you’ve got a lot of time to sit around and let your mind wander. This is especially dangerous if you’re prone to catastrophic thinking.
Conversely, I imagine a day much like last Wednesday. I woke up at 5:30 for my 6 a.m. Sculpt class (duh), started work around 8:15 and worked straight through until 5 p.m. due to the chaos of the incident, and then rushed to a different Sculpt class to observe and take notes for my Teacher Training requirements. Afterward, I went home to shower, then back out to the grocery store to buy food so I could cook dinner. You get the picture. I finished up the day’s activities around 8:30 p.m.
I realized as I climbed into bed that night how great of a mood I was in, despite being exhausted. Being busy ironically brought me a ton of joy.
Anyone who played a sport in college or was super involved in extracurricular activities probably knows the feeling I’m talking about. You might be happy once it’s over at the prospect of more free time, but once you’re actually mired in said free time, it might feel a little like you’re drowning in it.
Then I thought instead about nights where I mosey in from work around 5:30, flop down on the couch, and spend time marinating in my (admittedly terrifying) psyche watching New Girl until it’s time to hit the sack.
Maybe being busy really does bring joy, I thought, suddenly grateful for the types of jam-packed days that I once dreaded. Maybe too much time to reflect, think, and analyze just burrows you deeper into obsessing over the past or trying to plan too neurotically for the future. After all, planning is guessing.
It called to mind a conversation Ellie and I had about over-journaling. I typically journal on Sunday nights before I start my week as a sort of status report, but I realized that sometimes there would be this strange threshold I’d cross where it would stop being therapeutic and my anxiety would actually spike. Almost like I had studied myself too long; that my sense of self was anxious because it knew it was being studied (I feel like I’m delving into some really meta shit right now; I’ll try to wrap it up).
Anyway, when I told Ellie about the observation, she agreed that there is such thing as OVER-journaling. There’s a very fine line between checking in with yourself and going down the rabbit hole of self-obsession.
Because, as she so astutely noted, you’re likely either analyzing something that’s already happened or trying to make a prediction about what’s going to happen in the future—both of which mean you aren’t focused on the present moment. You aren’t living in the present.
And I think that’s the crucial difference: I was confusing mindfulness and present-state living with being self-aware and constantly looking inward. But as Nature Lady noted, a constant inward focus will drive you crazy. It’ll hold you back.
Circling back: that’s why people who tend to succeed in the fragile early stages of relationships (as I originally postulated) are those who have a lot going on in their lives (or, I guess, are equally un-busy). But frankly, sometimes it’s less about confidence and well-roundedness, and more about distraction.
You’re not stressing out about why someone isn’t texting you if you’re trying to beat traffic rushing from one activity to the next. Yes, you probably do lead a full life—which in itself likely makes you more attractive to another person—but more importantly, you aren’t overanalyzing every move and self-sabotaging because you literally don’t have time to do so.
There is one monumental, colossal, unavoidable caveat that begs to be made here.
As with all the best things in life (Tiff’s Treats cookies, headstands, and alone time), effective self-awareness requires a delicately practiced balance.
I was over-journaling a few months ago and paying too much attention to myself, but there’s an equal possibility and reality of under-awareness—if you’re flailing around from one thing to the next with absolutely no sense of purpose or awareness of your motivations whatsoever, you’re probably safe from anxiety and analysis, but you’re also probably aimless.
So, KG, what’s the point?
This part is always the hardest for me because I’m hesitant to package up my own realization and serve it to you presuming it’s going to be applicable to your life. Maybe you’re the bumble bee crashing into the walls of the hive because you’re so overcommitted that you’ve never spent 5 minutes reflecting. Maybe you’re the person who’s a little like me and places such a high value on self-understanding that it can cause your undoing sometimes.
So instead, I’ll urge you to find balance. And more than that, find enjoyment in your busy-ness. If you’re scoffing right now at that suggestion, maybe it’s time to find activities that could feasibly provide an experience that's as enjoyable as it is productive (or close to it, at least).
Or, you can ignore me and my psychobabble, and try one of this reading material instead.
What I’m reading right now
Welcome to KG’s Solo Bookclub™. If you’d like to render its current title incorrect, grab these reads and join me in my literary quest for #SelfImprovement.
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance
Technically this is one I just finished reading, but I knocked this baby out in a matter of weeks. It’s one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever read. Elon is a person who simply sees the world and its constructs differently, and sneers in the face of conventional reality. For the unacquainted, he made formerly Prius-level lame electric vehicles as sexy and appealing to the masses as a Maserati (the Model S was designed to evoke the same body style vibe) and, by the way, also runs a multi-billion dollar venture that’s working tirelessly to colonize Mars in case Earth craps out on us. Basically, you need this book in your life. He learned how to make rockets from scratch, and if that’s not enough to make you feel like every excuse you’ve ever proffered is bullshit, I don’t know what is.
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
I just ordered this puppy so standby for the official KG’s Solo Bookclub™ review, but what originally drew me in about this read was the way the synopsis touched on the two brain systems I’ve expounded upon on katiegatti.com many times: the fast, intuitive, ‘animal’ brain and the slower, logical brain. I think cognitive biases are fascinating, and this book promises to delve into how they can impact everything from our relationships to corporate decision-making (i.e., my favorite topics).
Everybody, Always by Bob Goff
This is another one I’ve just recently ordered, but I’m excited to dive in because of the subtitle alone: “Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People.” Put simply, I’m trying to work on being a more loving, empathetic, and understanding person. I want to practice assuming positive intent in others and loving people well in my interpersonal relationships. Also, honesty hour, the sparkly cover really caught my attention on the NYT Bestsellers list. Bob’s premise is that the secret (although anyone that purports to have ‘the secret’ to anything is cringe-y to me, but I’m giving some grace here) to living a ‘big,’ liberated, unfettered existence is to love people—even the admittedly shitty ones (see? See how much work I need?).
Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein
What initially caught my interest about Nudge is that it’s a behavioral economics approach to positive decision-making. I think the economics of choice are so intriguing, and I’m pumped about a book that promises to teach me how to manipulate small decisions optimally—especially in the financial realm. It teaches that no choice is every presented in a neutral way, so our inherent emotional biases impact the way we choose one path over another (and ultimately, this can produce poor results for us fallible creatures down the road).
Lessons from a weekend of intensive yoga Teacher Training.
And of course, some of my favorite shots from my #InstagramYogi Phase:
This past weekend was the first of its kind for me.
Typically, my weekends are a crossover between fruitful productivity and off-the-rails debauchery. Workouts, cleaning, and grocery shopping during the day met promptly with an overpriced meal out, some good old-fashioned imbibing and a few hours of shitty sleep.
And don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of my standard weekend. But life is comprised of yin and yang, and where there’s a benefit, there’s usually a proportionate shortcoming. Have a great night out with your friends? ...Awesome, now you have earned functioning at 50% the entire next day, getting nothing done, and sacrificing all the momentum you likely built the day before.
Stay in to be rested and skip the night out? …Fantastic, now you’ve permanently missed the memory of your friends meeting someone’s pet snake at 2 a.m. in Whataburger (yes, that actually happened to me, and no, I’m not over it).
These two scenarios do have one thing in common, though—neither consequence is all that extreme. Ok, so you have crippling hangover anxiety on Sunday and can’t peel yourself out of bed long enough to stop crying at the first season of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. It happens.
Or, you can’t partake in your friends’ party story they tell strangers about that time they met a domesticated reptile over honey butter chicken biscuits. Again, it’s not the end of the world.
This weekend was different for me in the sense that I didn’t participate in a single social activity—not a dinner, not a lunch, not a single night out—and I can’t remember the last time I completely removed myself from the Dallas weekend ritual of overpaying for drinks and joining 18 of your closest friends for mimosa pitchers at a 2 p.m. "brunch."
The reason? An intensive weekend of Yoga Sculpt Teacher Training.
I know, I know. You’re all rolling your eyes. “You do yoga, Katie, we get it.” While I am, admittedly, a Sculpt evangelist, I have to say—I was a little apprehensive (and not exactly thrilled) about giving up an entire weekend (Friday night, all day Saturday and all day Sunday) for training.
It’s one of those things where you sign up two months in advance with visions of your better self in the future, being solely dedicated to your fitness and wellbeing, and then those eight weeks pass in much the same fashion as the previous 23 years of your life and all of a sudden it’s Friday at 5 p.m. and... time to spend your 20 free waking weekend hours in a yoga studio with strangers.
But for real, I was excited, it’s just that nothing conditions you to cherish days off quite like working full-time. A day where you’re beholden to nothing but the whim of your own fancy is worth its weight in almond butter, and usually I fill that time with as much socializing as possible—because, in my mind, that was the best way to make use of my precious time out of office.
Luckily, my love of Sculpt and watching myself lift weights in a mirror outweighed my pathetic FOMO and I embraced the weekend with the force I usually reserve for enduring six hours of stumbling around Uptown in heels.
And at the risk of sounding preachy, I am so happy I did.
Even the most fun weekends always leave me feeling a little…empty? It’s hard to articulate. Maybe it’s exhaustion after quasi-poisoning your body and neglecting your regular sleep schedule, or maybe it’s the fact that having a bunch of fun provides such a stark contrast to the rest of the week that the thought of going back to work the next day is miserable at best.
For whatever reason, my Sunday nights are almost always a little gloomy and lonely. I'd venture a guess that you likely know the feeling I'm referring to.
The ironic thing about this weekend was that, yes, I spent time with fellow teachers in training during the day, but I didn’t do anything with my friends. I went to sleep at 9 p.m. each night, woke up, got my morning coffee, and headed back to the studio. It was a distinctly inward-focused, solo weekend, and I felt less lonely than I have in months.
I felt so at peace with myself and the commitment I had made—and way more in control of my life. (Traveling with someone I care about is another way I achieve this sense of solace and peace, but it's far more tiring.)
That’s not to say that I’m going to swap out my ‘normal’ weekends for doing 8 hours of exercise daily, getting 10 hours of sleep on a Friday and Saturday night, and being permanently asocial—but hey, it was kinda nice. I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome and how I felt about myself afterward, especially when compared to the way I normally feel on Sunday nights.
Dedicating an absurd amount of time to something you’re passionate about is daunting, for sure, and involves the sacrifice of knowing your friends are out engaging in shenanigans without you—but it’s also insanely empowering and fulfilling. My sense of self-efficacy and confidence shot through the roof following my first successful ‘practice round’ of teaching parts of a class Sunday afternoon.
Everyone needs a recalibration period, but more than that, I think everyone needs something that gives them a sense of purpose. I’m passionate about Sculpt because it’s gotten me through rough times where I felt lost and—literally—taught me how to breathe my way through discomfort, pain, and frustration.
The idea of giving that same 60-minute confidence boost to others is so meaningful.
Because here's the thing: your social life is fun, but it won't fulfill you. It won't remind you who you are (sometimes, it does the complete opposite). It won't give you a sense of purpose. It's entertaining, for sure, and the memories are worth the Sunday morning headaches. But if you sustain yourself for too long on the excitement of others, you'll eventually start running on fumes.
There's a saying in yoga: Meet yourself where you are. I can acknowledge that it sounds semantically null, but it's a beautiful sentiment about self-acceptance and patience.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, dedicating time to self-awareness and self-discovery is so underrated, and when you're bustling from one obligation to the next without taking time to breathe, you start to slip without even realizing it.
Whether it takes 20 hours of yoga training or 20 minutes of daily meditation, nothing compares to the inner quiet that settles over you when the anxiety of daily life falls hush. The clarity is astounding, and suddenly—if briefly—you see things for what they are.
Cheers & namaste, friend!
If you’re anything like me, you have that one thing hanging over your head that you’ve been putting off for months. Maybe it’s because the process for completing the task is unclear so you’re avoiding it, or maybe it’s just annoying and you relish in that temporary relief you feel from pushing it forward another week.
But I’m here to tell you—YOU’RE PLAYING YOURSELF.
And here’s why.
Annoying to-do list items are like the shitty opposite of compound interest. One annoying to-do task may seem manageable to procrastinate, psychologically, but two frustrating or annoying to-do tasks exponentially compound how overwhelmed you’ll feel trying to get both done—even more so if one involves an unexpected expense or super time-consuming process.
And the lovely thing about life and being an adult is is that there's almost always something lurking just around the corner. Whether it's a flat tire, a big deck for an upcoming presentation, or a flood in your bathroom—there's always something waiting for you (ominous, I know) that requires you to, more or less, handle it.
Allow me to take you on a journey of the ‘postponement’ nature.
I’ve been meaning to get a passport for a while. And by a while, I mean I printed the application in October and slowly started compiling the stuff I needed (birth certificate, social security card, etc.). Every week, I’d tell myself I’d get it “on Friday at lunch.”
But guess what kept happening?
I kept going to Chick-Fil-A on Friday at lunch instead and saying, “Eh, I’ll do it next week,” effectively prioritizing chicken nuggets over international travel.
Then I found out my taxes got lost in the mail and I have to redo them.
Then I got a speeding ticket in another state and had to pay $200 to do a four-hour online defensive driving class to keep it off my insurance.
And all of a sudden, having to get a passport felt 10x as overwhelming. On their own, none of these tasks are all too unmanageable (just annoying as shit), but taken together on tight timelines (all needed to be accomplished by early April), it suddenly became unnecessarily stressful.
This week I decided I was going to get my adult shit together and just get it done. No more excuses, no more postponing, no more 8-ct. nugget entrées—just sitting down like the grown ass woman I am and knocking out each task one by one.
And you know what? It felt good. The U.S. government now has my passport application and birth certificate (hoping that doesn’t get lost in the mail, too—cue nervous laughter), I completed the four-hour driving course in one afternoon, and now I’m slogging through the 1040 form, cursing the IRS with each and every confusing, federal government jargon-laden step.
The temporary relief you feel when you postpone that one thing another week is just that—temporary—and nowhere near as satisfying as the relief you’ll feel when it’s off your plate for good. I know you all have at least one thing that falls into this category.
Don't be like me and wait until you have two or three more annoying things to do to knock it out.
The best way I've found to keep track of this stuff (aside from the project management app Trello) is by keeping a physical planner. If I were an inanimate object, I would be a planner. I love them. I write shit down that I've already done just to cross it off, and color-code based on category (social is pink, productivity is yellow, and health is orange). Does this paragraph make my OCD look fat?
There's something so satisfying about having an actual agenda that you can open up, page through, and look back on. It almost functions like a journal if you write down the fun stuff, and you can look back on your weeks to get a better sense of how you're doing overall. All in the name of #ContinuousImprovement.
The best planners in the game for busy betches
As a self-proclaimed list obsessor, I’ve tried just about every planner in the Target school supplies aisle and those boujee enough to have their own Instagram accounts. I’ve consolidated them here for you in the hopes that it’ll help you get a little more organized. Nothing like a fancy, beautiful book you can tote around that’ll make you feel more in control of your life, right?
They range in price from $20 to $60 (depending on how much motivation you need to commit), but I’ve used all of them and can speak to my favorite and not-so-favorite parts of each. In my opinion, these are the best in the biz.
A lot of women like those Erin Condren planners—and I don’t blame them, they’re cute and personalized. But I think they’re overpriced and don’t have anything special in the actual planning pages themselves. Humble opinion.
If you click on the names below, you'll find them on Amazon niiiiiiice & cheap.
The Passion Planner, $30
Guys, this one might be my favorite. It's a highlighter-happy queen's dream, and it breaks down the day into 30-min. increments, starting at 6:30 a.m. and ending at 9:00 p.m. (because who only plans stuff from 8-5?).
It's special because it allows you to chart your Personal To-Do List and Work To-Do List at the beginning of each week to keep things straight. It also has a 'focus' for each week (#HUGE) to keep you intentional about how you're approaching your life. Y'all know I'm all about this.
For my personal focus, just for insight, I always write: Stay hydrated, do your squats, love yourself. 2018 motto.
For work, I write: Be a simplifier. Deliver when you get the ball. Work smart.
They're just nice mantras to come back to.
Next up is the Day Designer.
The Day Designer Original, $64
This puppy takes an intensely micro view of your day.
You'll notice from the image above that it calls out a DAILY top 3, what you'll eat for dinner, a full to-do list (I'm sorry if you require all 25 lines each day), and a "Dollars" section in which I used to write my checking account balance in college each day because I was broke as a joke.
The one downside to the Day Designer is that it's harder to see a weekly overview or look ahead quickly. Since each page is its own day, it's good for people who like to get into the nitty gritty of each day but don't have super longterm stuff due.
I'd say the Passion Planner is better for college students and the Day Designer is better for people who work full-time (and the price points reflect that) or are self-employed.
There's a Blue Sky version of the Day Designer that's cheaper, but effectively you're just paying for a lower quality version of the same planner. The Original is solid and big, the Blue Sky version is smaller and not hardback. Here it is:
The Day Designer Blue Sky, $27.99
You'll also notice that the daily pages lack some of the same boxes that the Original has (shown above), but there's a column for notes, which is nice.
I'm also very much into this gold speckled version of the Blue Sky version.
I hope y'all like some of these recommendations—after all, it's only March, so there's still plenty of time to kick 2018's ass. Even if you didn't start the year quite on track, it's never too late to force yourself to sit down for five hours, do your taxes, and take online defensive driving school.
I'm so curious what y'all have been putting off on your 'do it later' lists. Let me know.
Thanks for reading, and happy planning!
So evidently there are a lot of other lady ballers on a budget out there, because I got a fair amount of positive feedback on the post about furnishing a chic bedroom on an entry-level salary that said it was helpful. As promised, here’s the run-down on my favorite stuff from the walls outside my bedroom.
My poor roommate Rob is less than thrilled about our feminine aesthetic (see if you can spot him in some of the pictures below), but I think he generally benefits from the trade-off: he has to live in a girly place, but it’s astoundingly clean and organized 24/7. His future wife will thank me.
I did the living space about three months after my bedroom (because I was, you know, still financially recovering from furnishing an entire bedroom and figuring out what aesthetic I wanted to build in the rest of the place), and I think that lead-time helped me find some solid stuff.
Another fun side effect of waiting three months to furnish your living space is that your place looks like a yoga studio for 12 fun weeks—nothing but wood floors and mirrors! People would walk into my place, confusedly look around, and then awkwardly laugh about my sociopathic minimalism.
Legend has it that Steve Jobs lived in an empty place for months while he was starting Apple because he’s such a perfectionist that he couldn’t settle on what he wanted his place to look like. So yeah. Call me Steve.
Let’s get started, shall we?
I want to start with my favorite part: the rug/coffee table situation.
This coffee table is gorgeous and took about 10 minutes to assemble, and was only $130. I’m very much into the sleek marble look right now because it’s bright and clean.
This was the other one that I liked, but it has black legs and I was really feeling the gold accents. This one is only $114.
I wanted to keep the surface of the table fairly uncluttered, and while I love coffee table books, they’re pretty expensive and—in my experience, at least—I never end up looking at them. (If money were no object, I’d have a stack of Hermes and Chanel coffee table books taller than me.) But for right now, they’re effectively expensive dust collectors.
I will say, though, the coffee table book I probably will get is the Gray Malin “ESCAPE” book. I love his photography, and that book is gorgeous. It’s $30 on Amazon. Here are two of my favorite shots. I like his stuff because it's unusual and quirky—the photo above my bed is my favorite, a KLM airplane landing over Maho Beach.
But instead of coffee table books, I did this acrylic tray with gold handles, a vase with flowers, and the dankest candle known to the interwebs.
The acrylic tray with gold handles was about $30. Guys, I just love acrylic stuff. I know it’ll go out of style eventually but I love it. I think it’s so pretty. The gold handles tie it to the legs of the table well, too.
This vase felt like the only ‘stretch’ product that I don’t consider especially bargain-priced, but still reasonable compared to the in-store versions I’ve seen. I love the blue oriental vibe and think it adds some timelessness to a room that’s otherwise pretty modern (marble, acrylic, etc.). It was $48, so not a steal, but under $50 nonetheless.
Ok guys, I know fake flowers are tacky as hell, but I’m obsessed with peonies and one peony (yes, one) at Whole Foods when they’re in-season is $15. That means if you want a modest bouquet (about five flowers), you’re on the hook for $75 a flower arrangement. And in the cruelest twist of all, the flowers effing DIE on a weekly basis. So basically, peonies are a money pit of sorrow and disappointment.
…Unless you embrace your inner gaudy queen, suck it up, and go the fake route. You can even make yourself feel better by euphemizing them: faux silk flowers, anyone?
I’ve had several people get close to inspect these and ask if they’re real—I think they’re fairly convincing and I’m just such a fan of having flowers that this was just about the only reasonable way to do so without draining my 401K savings on petals. For the low, low price of $10.99, you too can enjoy pink peonies year-round. I got the “Spring Light Pink” color because I thought it looked most realistic.
This is also a very convincing option, also for only about $10.
Moving on to a more nuanced component of design—the scent of the room. Y’all, if I had to smell one smell for the rest of my life, it would be this. I want everything to smell like Mahogany Teakwood. My apartment, my hair, my laundry, my dog—and I don’t even have a dog! It’s that good. It smells like the hottest man you’ve ever seen but in a musky, fresh way. Just trust me on this. I order several at a time and just disperse them.
And because our living space has wood floors, I wanted to add accent rugs to spice stuff up (but truly, I think rugs on carpet still look nice, as I added in my carpeted bedroom). It serves a focusing function, in my opinion, where it draws the attention to the focal point of the room.
This $90 rug is everything. It’s navy and gold (mostly picked because the couch we had was navy) and I’m obsessed with it. It’s so pretty and the perfect size for between the couch and the TV for the coffee table to sit on. I especially like how the gold legs in the table and the gold in the rug look together. I got the 5’1” by 7’6” option.
The media stand I bought is glass (instead of marble). I didn’t want to do everything marble in case someday I decide I don’t like it, and the glass seemed like a safe bet. This one was easy to put together and looks nice under our mounted TV (but you could definitely just set your TV on top of it, too).
So moving on over to the couch. Sadly, y’all, I can’t recommend a couch in good faith to you because Rob brought this couch from Kentucky. But when I move out and have to buy my own, I will absolutely do the legwork and show y’all. But when it comes to accessories, I can hook y’all UP.
I’m a pretty big fan of this faux fur throw I bought for about $30 because it’s huge and plush and makes for some solid Saturday afternoon nap sessions. It adds a little flair to our otherwise plain navy couch. It gives you that cozy ski-cabin-in-the-mountains vibe when in reality you’re parked on your butt 8 feet from an urban swimming pool in the middle of Dallas, Texas.
Much to Rob’s dismay, I had no other choice but to completely feminize his couch. And how do you make an innocuous navy couch look girly? VELVET BABY BLUE ACCENT PILLOWS! Sorry, Rob. These puppies are $15 for two (nailed it) and the inserts are only $20 for a two-pack. There are several other colors, too, if baby blue ain’t yo vibe—but the quality of the pillows is nice.
I went with the matching end tables for either side of the couch; they’re the same style as the coffee table. They were $60 each, which was slightly more than I was hoping to pay, but I combed Amazon for a couple hours trying to find cheaper alternatives and these were the best value, in my opinion, for something that was cute and reasonably priced.
And if anyone wants to laugh at Katie’s online shopping mishaps, these lamps I bought (and was super excited about) arrived in a suspiciously small box. I opened it reluctantly and, wincing, pulled out the smallest damn Barbie Dreamhouse lamps you’ve ever seen.
But, on principle, I kept them and use them. We must all face our follies, my friends.
I’m also really into the ‘nesting table’ look--I liked these because the spindles are intricate (and gold) and add some visual interest. It’s only $90 for both, and I stuck them in the entryway (only one is pictured below; the other is a little larger).
Speaking of entryways, I’m not sure what got into me when I was buying pieces for our little mirrored entry area, but I was having a teal MOMENT, people. I loved how strong the teal velvet looked and felt interesting and bold. I wanted to add some drama, ya feel?
Turns out finding two teal velvet chairs in my budget was a bit of a challenge, but your girl came through. I love how these turned out in the space. Unfortunately, the exact chairs are no longer available (likely because some other desperate broke gal snagged them), but these are so similar I thought they were the same.
I decided to go with chairs for the entryway because I felt like they were more inviting when positioned next to a literal cart of alcohol, but if your entryway is more hallway-like and less open, I’d suggest going for a bench and putting art or a mirror above it. The bench is nice because you can set your bags on it when you come in or do a tray with books/candies/etc.
I love this one, and it’s only $139. Amazon calls this an 'ottoman,' so just make sure you measure how much room you have in your entryway to make sure it won't be too big. Again, the acrylic legs just get me goin'. Same with the tufted velvet. There are several other more neutral color options available.
And OK, I’m kinda pissed, because I paid way more for this, but my entryway rug is legitimately on sale right now for $29. It’s a 4’ x 6’ and it’s gray (which is reminiscent of the bedroom rug in this post), but felt like an appropriate neutral given my wild ass teal thrones. It comes in about 10 other colors, so go crazy.
My other semi-splurgey item was the bar cart. A bar cart is the #1 best way to say, hey, I drink alcohol, but I’m classy about it! This one was $158. I found a cheaper one at Target, but it was much smaller and nowhere near as cool. That was one of those situations where I thought, OK, having a bigger, cuter bar cart is worth the extra $20 to me.
I like how you can display all your glassware and liquor and add fun accents (like straws and shakers). I didn’t get too wild with my accents because I was buying literally all of this nonsense at once and that stuff adds up, but if you’re looking to spice up a bar cart you already have, I suggest the copper cocktail set for $40. It comes with all the necessities for really wooing your lush friends.
And that's it, y'all! Hit me with any questions. And if you don't like my design style; well, you're not the one who has to live, are you?
Arguably one of the best things about being a #RealPerson is getting to furnish your apartment exactly how you want it. When I faced the thrilling task back in September, visions of tufted headboards and mirrored front furniture danced in my head.
I had been proudly saving a disciplined amount of my generous $12/hour Intern paycheck all summer in preparation for squandering it all on furniture and faux fur throws, and I was PUMPED.
The excitment promptly dissipated after my first visit to a “discount” furniture store. I remember strolling through the aisles and feeling my confidence wane at each “$899” price tag. To make matters worse, most of the pieces were not-heinous at best, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to walk out of there for under $1,300 for my bed, dresser, and nightstands.
That felt unacceptable to me, especially since I didn’t necessarily like any of it all that much.
(Call it champagne taste on a beer budget, but the only bedframe I liked was $999).
This was a wake-up call, of sorts. My fantasies of beautiful, chic furniture devolved into nightmares of me sleeping on a wire bedframe with Target dormroom plastic tubs as dresser drawers. And to a high-maintenance, bourgeois Millennial, this was 50 shades of not-going-to-fly.
Enter Amazon, Bezos’ magical online marketplace.
My hope in this post is to inspire some of you who are likely going through a similar transition, and help you find beautiful pieces online for a small fraction of the price you see in brick-and-mortar stores.
I had a very distinct vibe I was trying to achieve with my bedroom, and I do feel strongly that your environment impacts your mood significantly and shouldn’t be ignored. In other words, I wasn’t about to fold and purchase cheap stuff I hated just to stay under-budget.
My vision was a space that was open, clean, bright, and timeless, but with a few trendy elements that made it feel just a little sassy.
I’ve linked the exact products I purchased (all from Amazon) that were mostly Prime and shipped for free (or close to it). I put together this entire bedroom (minus the mattress) for around $1,000, and I’m so happy with the result.
Let’s launch into the focal piece: the bed.
I wanted a “sheltered” headboard because I like how it makes the bed feel cozy. I also wanted light colors, but didn’t want wood or oak. I grew up with a white bedroom set, and feel that sometimes it looks a little juvenile to go with straight-up white, so I felt that a tan linen would be perfect.
This is the bed I purchased, and it was only $300 for the entire frame (one thing I noticed is that most ‘beds’ that cost $300 are only the headboard—watch out for this). I built this bed by myself with an Allen wrench (please hold your applause) and was surprised at how easy the assembly was.
This is what it looks like after it’s put together but before you put your mattress on it.
…And this is how I styled it:
It also comes in this gorgeous dark gray, which, looking back on it, I probably would’ve opted for if I were going for a moodier overall aesthetic.
Now, for the more fun stuff: the bedding. I really wanted bedding that, more or less, looked like it belonged in a hotel. Maybe I’m weird, but I think sleeping in hotel beds is the best—they’re white and fluffy and envelop you in don’t-think-about-the-fact-that-a-million-other-strangers-have-also-slept-here warmth. Charming.
A lot of people ask me if I regret buying white bedding, and the answer is no. White bedding forces you to be a better person. Nobody eats pizza in bed with white bedding.
This comforter set is beautiful. I bought the comforter, two Euro shams, two regular pillows, and plain white sheets—all from Target. The comforter and two regular pillows were $90, and I got the white with the thin blue double-stripe because I felt like it added a nice subtle accent.
I went with the comforter because I literally cannot be bothered to mess with a duvet cover. If you have time to wrangle a massive lumpy sack into a slippery tortilla-like sheet encasement, be my guest, but I'd rather not.
I wanted to add some pink—because, you know, trying to stay on-brand here—and I opted for the velvet to add some texture.
These pink velvet pillowcases were a steal—$12 for a set of two. I bought three individuals. They come in different colors, if you hate fun and pink isn’t your vibe. You’ll need the inserts, too, which are only $9 each.
Having a really extraneous amount of pillows is the fastest way to make your bed look luxe. And if you're opposed because it seems unnecessary and you're like, I could get by on two, then I ask you: why are you rejecting comfort AND style? Just do it.
I have the two standard pillows with the 'sheets' pillowcases in the back, then two Euro shams, then two standard pillows with the comforter-style pillow cases (that come with the comforter) and topped off by the three pink ones.
The staff in my sorority house used to fluff our living spaces and they'd karate chop the accent pillows, and since that house was a mansion and those people seemed to know their way around a pillow, I now do so, too. Feel free to chop your pillows accordingly.
Moving right along.
I think one easy way to immediately class up your bedroom is throwing a bench at the end of your bed. I don’t know why, but it ties everything together so beautifully. I am obsessed with this one, and it’s the perfect length for the end of a queen. I went with the rose quartz color because I thought it was classic and timeless, but there are darker options available (the gray is really nice, too).
The best part? It’s only $150. Most other pieces like this I’ve seen are well over $300 or $400, and this thing is STURDY.
I put a tray for books on my bench to keep my journal (nerdy, I know) and favorite reads at close reach. If I may impose my literary taste on you, definitely check out:
Megyn Kelly’s Settle for More
This book will make you want to kick ass in the workplace and inspire you to go full-out in everything you do.
Anna Kendrick’s Scrappy Little Nobody
This book will crack you up and make you feel OK about being a little weird.
Mark Manson’s A Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***
This book will show you a ‘counterintuitive approach’ to living a good life, by showing you how to direct your f***s appropriately. It’s #8 on Amazon right now.
And now that we’ve covered the bed and the bench, I might as well tell you what the bed is sitting on, right?
I wanted a gray/silver rug because I felt it was a cool neutral that wasn’t too distracting. But guess what? Most rugs are expensive as hell. I was so annoyed trying to find one at rug stores, and I finally found this beaut online. I believe I only paid $180 for it, but the price fluctuates as stock changes. It comes in a bunch of colors.
The reason I loved this one (the 8 x 10 size) is because it felt so plush and luxurious to have a huge rug in the middle of the room that made the bed the focal piece. Much like the bench, it ties things together and elevates the entire look of the space.
(Do I sound like I know what I’m talking about? I have to be honest, I’m impressing myself with the amount of hokey jargon I’m loading this shit with.)
So, onto the piece that I hands-down get the most questions about: my mirror-front vanity. This is the aforementioned ‘trendy’ piece that will likely be out of style in a few years (since mirrored furniture is such a trend right now), but I think it’s beautiful and—frankly—just really wanted one.
The one I ended up purchasing is gorgeous. The drawers are velvet-lined, it’s super sturdy, and it’s the perfect place to get ready. I put mine up against the window because I love doing my makeup with natural light, but at night, I use this super cool little ring light makeup mirror. Most solid ring light mirrors are $50, but the one shown in the pictures and linked above is only $20.
You guys—it’s literally $160. I paid more for a single bottle of the perfumes pictured on my jewelry box than I did for this vanity. If you want a chic space to get ready, I’m telling you, this is it.
And of course, if you’re sitting at a chic vanity, you need a chic place to sit. I wanted to involve the velvet texture here again, so I went for another small bench/ottoman that slides under the vanity when I’m not using it (by some miracle of God and absolutely not because of my strategic forethought, this one fits RIGHT underneath it).
The bench isn’t as much of a steal at $100, but it’s still reasonable based on the other options I explored.
And so you know I’m not just trying to tote all my decisions as fantastic, I will tell you:
Don’t buy dressers or nightstands on Amazon unless you want to literally rip your hair out trying to put them together (and then be super pissed off when they’re wobbly as shit).
My dresser is as good as useless (one of the drawers completely broke) and my nightstands are fine but took SO much time to put together that I would’ve rather just paid a little more for preassembled ones.
These are the two things I would just bite the bullet and splurge on to save yourself the headache.
But the bench, the bed, and the vanity? There’s literally no reason to pay more. The assembly is so straightforward and the result is stunning. Why overpay for the brand name or the preassembly if you don’t have to?
I’m going to do another post about furnishing a living space and entryway soon, but wanted to test the waters with this one.
Let me know if y’all like any of the options!
I hate the red badge notification on my apps.
I hate it. I hate how it makes me feel like there are little soundbites of information waiting for me, piling up in my virtual phone world waiting to be glanced at.
Similarly, I can’t stand having the steady litany of news alerts, spam emails, and the occasional unanswered text on my lock screen. I keep my little phone world very tidy (much like the rest of my life).
But when my phone sits next to me at attention in my cube while I work, every time the screen lights up, I can’t help but look over at it. And as a result, I found myself incredibly distracted throughout the day—breaking focus and feeling increasingly stressed by the amount of notifications competing for my attention (many of which were the ‘false alarm’ type of notification where it’s just, say, an email from Lulus telling me I haven’t spent enough money with them this month or the 342nd news alert about the damn Grammy’s).
There was a point early last week where work was so chaotic that I felt like I legitimately needed to put my phone on Do Not Disturb so I wouldn’t be distracted or feel that strange, visceral compulsion to glance at the phone every single time the screen lit up. So I did.
It. Was. Awesome.
I felt so incredibly untethered from the constant ping-ping-ping of the useless cyber minutia. Weirdly enough, I felt calmer. It seemed shockingly simple—why did I have to subject myself to the endless stream of bullshit? It’s not that news alerts and emails are unnecessary or useless, but they don’t need to be attended to immediately. They don’t have to take immediate mental priority over whatever task is at hand simply due to timing and proximity.
The Atlantic highlighted research a few years ago that suggests any sort of notification, whether you click on it or not, is enough of a micro-distraction to derail your focus.
But the most amazing, serendipitous consequence was unrelated to productivity. Not only was I less distracted, but I started looking at my phone only when I felt the energy to engage with the people who were living in my little phone world.
Do you ever get stressed out when you have text messages you haven’t responded to? Even if there are just a few, sometimes I feel like I literally have to psych myself up to virtually socialize—especially at the end of the day after a full day’s work and intense workout. Sometimes I just don’t have the mental energy to be funny, interested, and interesting. Sometimes I’d rather just hang out completely alone and decompress.
(Although I have this theory that nobody actually knows what it really means to be alone anymore because the smartphone is such immediate and gratifying access to everyone you’ve ever met that you’re never truly by yourself, but I digress).
Truly, I don’t think it’s natural to be connected all the time. Sure, we’ve rapidly evolved toward that state of existence in the last decade or so, but I think it’s important to remember that things have not always been this way and they don’t have to be that way. There’s nothing wrong with opting out and unplugging when your constant Internet access and communicative device becomes more of a stressor than a resource.
“Do Not Disturb” mode has flipped the script on my relationship with my phone. Rather than the phone buzzing and flashing, interrupting my life, it sits asleep silently until I decide to summon it to life. I can wait in blissful ignorance until I have the time and mental energy to give my full attention to the people who have contacted me.
I feel like I’m more thoughtful in my messages with friends, rather than just firing off the first thing that comes to mind so the conversation is un-bolded in my Messages app. Communicating with a purpose—with true intention—is so much more enjoyable and worthwhile than merely playing verbal ping pong with empty conversation. Truly, I’d rather just not text if I have nothing to say.
I never want to feel like personal relationships are a burden. I want to be present with the people I care about and give those relationships the love and attention they deserve.
The other night I felt super drained by 8 p.m. so I gave myself the permission to just plug the phone into the charger, set the alarm for the next day, and not look at it again. I slept better and answered people at 6 a.m. with fresh energy and a renewed f*** to give about what they were trying to communicate.
Quality > speed. Try Do Not Disturb for a day and see if you feel better about your relationships, calmer, less reactionary, or less existential dread about impending nuclear warfare (or whatever the hell else CNN is pushing to your screen that day).
Thanks for reading!
I’ve never really been one for resolutions. The concept of making some life-altering change because of an arbitrarily structured date on a calendar (sorry, Pope Gregory XIII) seems hokey, and I’ve always been a proponent of the #ContinuousImprovement grind.
Besides, dubbing Jan. 1 your official ‘new you’ start date after the holiday blackhole of spiked egg nog and Christmas cookies is a failed strategy if I’ve ever heard one. As if you already didn't have enough motivation to change your ways: add a sugar coma and a week-long hangover!
For these reasons, I’m refusing to classify the following as ‘resolutions.’ In a more Millennial fashion, I’m just casually dubbing them ‘2018 vibes.’ Get onboard! The basic train is leaving the station!
Something about this year made me feel really inspired to just surrender all my excuses for not living the life I wanted to be living, and instead just do it without formulating a bunch of reasons why I can't or couldn't. There are so many things that I've considered (like becoming a yoga teacher) for so long, and I decided this was the year of ditching the hesitations and just doing what I wanted. Unapologetically.
Here’s what’s been on my mind lately—and just so happens to coincide with the beginning of a new year.
Being #HydratedAF will disproportionately improve your life. Seriously.
I say ‘disproportionately’ because it’s SUCH an easy adaptation to make that has an extensive and dramatic effect. I drink more Starbucks than Meryl Streep in Devil Wears Prada, so I understand those of you whose vice of choice is 6-8 small Diet Cokes throughout the day (Ashley, I'm looking at you)—but trust me on this.
My (somewhat modest) goal was to hit 64 oz. of water per day. In other words, 8 cups—the standard we learned about in 2nd grade. I, at most, would drink 1-2 cups per day, and realized I was probably chronically dehydrated. After investing week after week in 32-packs of Kroger water bottles, I realized I was downing 5-6 per day. That’s a whopping 101 oz. of water.
And let me tell you—my skin has never been clearer or glowier (is that a word?). I can go out on Friday nights and house nothing but Jello shots and Bourbon sours (wouldn’t recommend) and don’t wake up with a headache or a hangover.
At the risk of sounding overdramatic, I treat water like my answer for everything.
Hungry? Water. Angry? Drink more! Bored? Chug! Catching feelings for that random dude you barely know? Drown them!!! I honestly think it’s turned psychological at this point but I stress-drink water now and I’m pretty sure this is the healthiest coping mechanism I’ve ever developed.
Work out hard and make it a habit. In other words, do your squats.
Due to some stressful life events, I got back into Corepower (if we’re friends on Snapchat, you already know this, thanks to the daily workout Snaps—sorry). I have to say, though, making my fitness a serious priority again and committing to classes that are incredibly challenging (#YogaSculpt) has given me this unexpected external sense of purpose that transcends what I derive from my day job. It gives me something to look forward to outside of work that depends on nobody and nothing but my own willingness to show up to my mat and attempt to do real push-ups.
Making health a priority (in other words, making the time even when I work a 9- or 10-hour day) makes me feel like I have control over my wellness. It made me want to cook healthier meals, too, since I was sacrificing sleep and/or time with friends to fit the workout in.
I tried my first 6 a.m. class this morning and (shockingly) loved it. I forgot how much I enjoyed getting my ass kicked every day. And here’s the thing that’s great about working out: my confidence level has shot through the roof. I make it a priority to go to at least four classes a week, but aim for five. Speaking of confidence…
Love yourself, and most everything else will fall into place.
This is so damn cliché it hurt to type. I know this is lame, but seriously: When you feel good about who you are, what you look like, how you spend your time, etc., you can love others so much better. It sounds obvious, but you simply have more to give.
For me lately, this has evolved into a conscious mindset decision. I basically decided I was tired of questioning my worth and worrying about people who seemed indifferent about me, and just…decided to be confident instead. It was that simple. Not that easy, but that simple. I made a Spotify playlist called Sassy Lady Tunes that’s guaranteed to boost your estrogen levels by at least 50%.
Most notably, this bleeds into my romantic life and my work/life balance. I truly enjoy work and care a lot about my career, so in a way, the 'love yourself' mantra can calibrate that balance. I allow myself the time in the morning to exercise, make my green smoothie, get a coffee, do my makeup, pick an outfit that makes me feel good, etc., so I feel my best at work and can do the best job possible. It gives me confidence to stand by my creative ideas for our website (and also to accept constructive criticism gracefully without taking it personally or getting down on myself).
It also helps me remember that, at the end of the day, it's just a job. I'm just a writer. We aren't performing brain surgery or curing cancer and there have been countless copy writers before me and there will be countless after me. I want to be incredible at it, don't get me wrong: but my worth isn't defined by my title, salary, or how many impressions my copy drives on .com.
Professional life aside, feeling confident and loving who I am—with or without male interest accompanying—is sometimes difficult, but incredibly empowering. One of my favorite yoga instructors, Jenni, said, "There's so much more to life than finding someone who will want you, or being sad over someone who doesn't. There's a lot of wonderful time to be spent discovering yourself without hoping someone will fall in love you along the way—and it doesn't need to be painful or empty." Amen, sister.
Basically, decide you're giving up on that bullshit, and decide instead to put yourself first. What you give power to has power over you. It really does start in your head.
Let me know what your unapologetic "resolutions" are this year!
7 Fun, Cheap Activities to Give Your Netflix Account a Break this Weekend that are Sneakily Productive
When I moved to Dallas, my life changed a lot. Living in a sorority house provided me 24/7 friends and distraction. It was easy to piggyback on others' plans pretty constantly. When I started working and living in the city, I wanted to find a few new hobbies that could help enhance my free time.
So if you're ready to give up Netflix for an afternoon or spend your time doing something other than overpaying for alcohol at bars with people you barely know, check out some of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday and Sunday.
1. Listen to a Podcast.
I have a few tried and true favorites, as well as some I’ve been delving into lately: If you’ve never listened to S-Town or Serial, do yourself a favor: exit this browser, pick up your phone, and download them right now. These really grab your attention and suck you in, so if you’ve got an annoying task (like cleaning your entire apartment, or running mundane errands), start Episode 1 and feel your time fly by.
If you’re in the mood to get inspired or learn something new (always, right?), I recommend How I Built This, Startup, and Ted Radio Hour. They’re all incredibly enlightening. I can’t even tell you how my perspective has changed since I started regularly listening to these podcasts. Just the least cliché, most fascinating topics and outlooks you’ve ever heard.
And for my ladies—lately I’ve been enjoying The Skinny Confidential podcast hosted by blogger Lauryn Evarts and her entrepreneur husband, Michael Bosstick. They talk a lot about business, relationships, and their dynamic as a couple, which is hilarious. She also injects a lot of beauty talk, which the skincare junkie in me loves.
2. Go rollerblading or ride one of those tech-y app bikes around your city.
I feel moderately hypocritical suggesting this since I still haven’t bought my own rollerblades (they’re on my Christmas list, don’t worry), but every time I see people rollerblading down the Katy Trail I get super jealous (probably because I’m usually dying on a long run). If you live in a city with those eBikes (Dallas is littered with them, and now there are several different brands to choose from), go pay a $1 and ride one around.
It’s actually super fun—a few weeks ago, Jake went on a 5-mile run and I biked beside him like the sadist I am. It was a nice way to get outside but without committing to a full-on workout. I realize some of you may be reading in cold climates where this isn’t a realistic suggestion, so if so, move to Texas.
3. See how far you can run.
Typing that felt satirical, but I mean it. This weekend I’ll be running the BMW Dallas Half Marathon (prayers accepted, please). But I have to admit, training for this event has been shockingly fun and exciting for me. It’s cool to challenge yourself and see how far you can push yourself before you faint on the side of the road. (Only half-kidding.)
It requires a good bit of self-discipline, too (fun, right?), which sounds lame as actual sh*t, but has served a gratifying role in my life over the past 6 weeks. It’s weird how committing to something and then actually forcing yourself to follow through gives you a sense of confidence and individuality. There were days where I knew I’d have to run 6 miles before or after work, so I’d wake up at 5:15 a.m. to run 6 miles on the treadmill before work so I didn’t have to run it in the dark after working a long day. So yeah, go for a run.
4. Make your own boozy brunch.
If you’re like me, spending $25 on Sunday’s noon brunch is a necessary evil of your boujee lifestyle. But you know what’s better? Rounding up your pal(s), heading to the store, buying your own cheap champagne, OJ, ingredients, and making the brunch yourself in your kitchen. Bonus: you don’t have to dress up or wait for a server or kitchen staff. #bonding
Plus, it’s just so much cheaper. Like, unbelievably so.
Tangent: Did y’all know brunch restaurants have the highest margins? The ingredients are so stupid cheap and the markups are so high. Anyone want to start a brunch restaurant with me?
Here's a quick brunch grocery list for you that costs no more than $25 total to feed at least three people:
...and whatever else you want to use to get creative. You can buy tortillas and make breakfast tacos if you're a Nazi who doesn't like crescent rolls!
5. Go to Trader Joe’s, the farmer’s market, or Home Depot and get plants or flowers.
Am I the only one who makes excuses to go to trendy grocers and buy flowers? I seriously love it. You can usually get some dope foliage for under $10 and then you can arrange and plan them yourselves. Granted, most of mine are dead within 48 hours, but it’s still an enjoyable, creative experience.
I've been on the lookout for some quality succulents to start building my own succulent garden, so if you're an experienced succulent connoisseur, hit me with your recommendations.
6. Explore a new coffee shop.
This is my go-to day-off activity. I’m #blessed to live in a caffeine-obsessed city that has a zillion different coffee shops with different vibes and specialties, so I like to Google “coffee near me” and then go on mini adventures to each coffee shop. Bonus points: hit up Half Price Books first, get a new (used) book, and post up in a new coffee shop and get some solid reading in.
Dallas friends, my favorites are Magnolia’s Sous Le Pont, Ascension (the location in the Crescent Hotel in Uptown), and Oaklawn Coffee.
7. Do a closet cleanse.
This is probably just for the #gurliez, but I was getting SUPER sick of my fall wardrobe a few weeks ago. I felt like I was just throwing a jacket on over my summer clothes and calling it a day. I didn’t feel #flirty or #fun. So I purchased a couple new pieces (leather leggings, a leather skirt, a wool, plaid skirt, a long-sleeve white turtleneck, a long-sleeved gray dress, and a new pair of black over-the-knee boots—ok, I guess it was a lot of new pieces), and then pulled all the sh*t out of my closet and “built” out a bunch of new outfits. By the way, I dropped all this ca$h at Lulus because I honestly feel like their stuff is SUPER affordable and trendy.
Because my closet was color-coordinated before, the seasons were all jumbled. I basically took an hour to spend some time with my clothes and devote some time to putting together some new, cuter outfits with old and new pieces so I didn’t want to rip my hair out the next time I’m getting ready to go out.
And if you have any of your own suggestions, please let me know!
I’m always looking for fun new ways to spend my time out of work and new hobbies to start investing time in. While I do feel my job is super gratifying since I get to see my work on southwest.com every day (shameless plug), there’s just something special about hobbies like these that keep you interested and interesting in things that you aren't required to do every day from 8-5.
At the end of last week, the water in my apartment was turned off for over 36 hours.
Waking up for work on a chilly Friday morning (after attending a smoky, fairly seedy Indie show the previous night) and realizing I was still unable to take a hot shower or properly clean myself didn’t exactly put me in the best mood for my day.
My hygiene is almost obsessively maintained, so washing my face by dumping a freezing cold water bottle into my hand and rubbing it on my sudsy skin before it escaped down the drain was beyond unsatisfying.
But it was Friday morning, and even unresponsive faucets cannot permanently dry out the enthusiasm that a Friday morning brings.
The inability to shower (and therefore the inability to do my hair or put on makeup, the steps that follow in the high-maintenance female cleansing ritual) ironically saves you a lot of time. I pulled into the parking lot at work around 7:10 a.m., greeted by giant, heart-shaped wreaths frosted in red, blue, and yellow ornaments and Christmas lights. The entrance featured a massive Christmas tree and a garland-wrapped staircase.
Maybe I’m just a sucker for Christmas decorations, but it reminded me of an interview I read earlier in the week with Jeff Bezos. In it, he explained how the quality of your life can be enhanced by your willingness to actively engage.
Participating enthusiastically in the little things—the birthdays, the holidays, the meeting that you dread weekly—can make or break your spirit on any given day.
The mood that permeated the beginning of my day with frustration, irritation, and dry shampoo quickly turned around in the presence of Christmas lights and Holiday Blend in the Starbucks on the fifth floor.
While I’m never one to slack on putting together a presentation deck for a meeting, when it comes to the stuff where it’s easier to slack (the so-called “fun” stuff), sometimes I take the easy way out.
I’m going to pay a little extra attention to the ‘little things’ and make more of an effort to adopt a ‘go the extra mile’ mentality in the areas of my life where it seemingly doesn’t matter. Sometimes putting in a little extra effort can make things a lot more fun for everyone.
I’ll quote one of the Managers on the data team who told this to one of his data scientists who felt a little reluctant to join in on some of the festivities around the holidays in lieu of working: “The fun should be mandatory.”
Thanks for reading.
I paid my first full rent payment and celebrated my first full month in my big girl job at Southwest a few days ago.
And then it hit me: this is permanent. This is my life now.
Most of my friends here grew up in Dallas, Houston, or some other Texan city within reasonable driving distance of where we live now.
Their whole lives (and all their loved ones) exist in a radius you could drive in a day.
My family is 14 hours away where most of my high school friends still live, and my college friends are strewn throughout the country.
I guess that’s the deal I signed up for when I moved 500 miles south for college and another 600 miles west to start a career, but sometimes it makes me nostalgic for the days when all my friends were under one roof at Notre Dame Academy 5 days a week and my biggest concerns were what time the Edgewood Police would crash Nina Rokvic’s party on Saturday or if I got 100% on my AP Physics WebAssign.
In a sense, "starting over" has been a theme that has woven itself into the last 10 years of my life.
There’s a level of social and professional effort required when you’re relatively new to a city. The ease and comfort that characterizes your hometown feels a little like climbing into your bed after a long day, by comparison.
Likewise, the effort can sometimes feel misdirected. You’re no longer following a four-year plan as outlined by DegreeWorks. Your life can’t be diced into semester-long chunks with definitive beginning and endpoints. It’s just one long, indefinite path. As my coworker Claire so aptly put it, “Holy sh*t, this is it now.”
The concept of starting over has been on my mind a lot lately, as I sometimes find myself yearning for familiarity in a life that’s all mine and all new.
Moreover, I’ve been trying to reconcile my idea of forging a meaningful life with the average 40-hour work week.
I recently saw a video that visually represented the human lifespan, chunked into decades. It started with 0 and ended with 80.
It marks a dash at the age of 16 and another at the age of 65. “This is about how much of your life you spend working,” it explained, harshly coloring in the majority of the timeline with a dark brown marker.
As I sat there staring at this unappealing brown horizon bookended by two tiny lines jutting out from either side to denote the measly portions of your life not mired in work, I felt a pit in my stomach.
“If you’re living and working for the weekends, you’re wishing your life away. You’re wasting your life.”
I immediately envisioned myself sitting in my cubicle, staring at the clock around 2:30 p.m., willing it to tick faster to 5 o’clock so I could rush home and…lay in bed? Eat sweet potato chips and watch reruns of Real Housewives of Orange County?
I can’t believe I spend nearly half my waking time wishing it was either nighttime or the weekend, I thought, nervously. And that’s saying a lot—because I really love my job. (There’s a saying at Southwest: “Your worst day here is still better than your best day somewhere else.”) I can’t imagine what the grind is like for folks who hate what they do.
Yet still—I found this knowledge disturbing. I can see why life seems to pass so quickly for adults. You work all week, cherish your 48 hours of freedom, and repeat. It’s not like school where explicit signposts divide your life into notable, predictable milestones. Each week follows the last with about as much excitement as a Microsoft Outlook bug fix update.
And while there are definite upsides to the postgrad abyss (read: $), it’s too easy to fall into the cycle of fashionable corporate complaining in which we frame our jobs as these miserable obligations that punctuate our daily lives.
I don’t know about y’all, but I don’t really want to spend 45 hours a week wishing I was somewhere else. Besides, most work nights are spent doing nothing but relaxing and resting for—you guessed it—work the next day.
We structure our lives around work, and sometimes, to the detriment of other equally (or more) important components of our well-being.
Sometimes when I’m feeling especially antsy to go home in the middle of the day, I pretend that I’m choosing to hang out there. I pretend it’s just me and a bunch of my friends in our cubes, casually working and collaborating.
Sometimes I block a small conference room, play music, brainstorm on the white board, and do my work in there—just for the change of scenery.
When I think of work as something I’m choosing to do rather than something I have to do, it somehow makes it more enjoyable.
I've been slowly developing my Dallas routines now that I'm "official," trying to find a cadence that makes me happy. Do I exercise before work or after? What do my Saturday mornings consist of? When do I wash my towels and pillowcases? How much money is too much money to spend on weekly Starbucks?
For a planner who finds a sense of comfort and control in routine like me, establishing these habits and "best practices" of life is important for my happiness. I'm really big on optimization and efficiency (you should see my "Life" spreadsheet), so I put a lot of forethought into the way I spend my time.
I guess we’re all just trying to figure it out. We’re all trying to inject a little excitement and sweetness into the monotony of every day, while still building the foundations for lives that we're proud of and satisfied with.
And unlike my physics assignments on WebAssign, the smart girl at the desk next to me doesn’t have the answers.
At the very least, I don't live in constant fear of the Edgewood P.D. anymore—so I guess I'm doing something right.