Birthday Recap and Intentions for the Year

It’s been a week since I turned 30, so I figured I should write about it for posterity’s sake!

From Thanksgiving through my birthday in early January, there’s normally a weird, stressful vibe in my life. B and I both tend to work 50+ hour workweeks because of our respective full-time jobs and our shared part-time gig. Plus there’s family fighting and all that junk which always comes up at this time of year. (I honestly can’t remember the last time I didn’t cry on Christmas Eve/Day.) Finally, I really do not like the winter, to the extent of looking into SAD therapy lights to help me make it through. Needless to say, birthdays can be emotionally erratic .

When my 30th arrived, I was surprised at how awesome it was! It was a low-key, fun day: texts from friends; raspberry-and-chocolate chip pancakes; a solid gym visit. B had been worried that my gift wouldn’t arrive in the mail until the USPS truck rolled up outside our house.

What was in the package? Just the prettiest necklace that I’ve wanted for a couple of years now!

(You can find other stunning wax seal pendants from Plum and Posey here.)

We finished the day with a fancy-schmancy dinner with friends downtown, where we feasted for hours! When we came home — stuffed and waddling — B and I took some photos and then he finished my favorite birthday cake. By midnight, I was fat and happy.

A week before my birthday, I had attended a “new year, new you” yoga class. While the title was silly, it was taught by a teacher I love. During the session, he shared his own emotional journey to yoga, even tearing up in front of a class of 30 students. That raw honesty — especially about a lot of the same personal problems I share — moved me and struck a deep cord. The instructor explained the pratfalls of setting New Years’ resolutions, how they’re created out of anger or frustration with oneself. Instead, he offered the alternative, more positive idea of setting intentions, which allow one to return to them in the event of failure.

While I never make New Years resolutions, I have made birthday ones for years, seeing it as a more personal promise to myself. And this year, I’ve decided to rename this endeavor “birthday intentions,” mainly because I’m human and I fail, but this re-titling, hopefully, will allow me to return to these tabula rasa-style.

Already 2016 has been one of major change: I turned 30; have been a home owner for a year; returned to work with a major promotion; and lost my closest, bestest colleague to retirement.

While there’s a lot more suddenly expected of me, my biggest aspiration to care for myself first and foremost. How exactly?

I’ve joke often that I cut myself out of my life first when work needs doing: I’ll commit 60+ hours a week to the museum and theatre and make myself miserable. That’s stopping. I’m taking days off. I’m going home when my time is done. I’m not using “but I have to work” as excuse when friends want to hang out. While I need to work two jobs still, my first priority is me.

With that all said, I really need to start caring for myself on a physical level. This past December, I don’t know how often I would come after a double, sit on the couch and sob because I hurt. I had seven or eight knots up and down my back and constant headaches; I was simply exhausted. It wasn’t pretty. And I put on weight too. This year, I’m intending to lose some weight (10 pounds would be perfect, 20 preferred by my doctor). I’m recommitting to running and yoga and drinking water and sleeping and eating well.

“Eating well? But, Jenn, you don’t cook!”Guess what else I’m endeavoring to do, folks! Those who know me “IRL” know my aversion to cooking food, but I’m realizing how impractical it is to subsist on take-out, both physically and financially. B and I have taken turns cooking this week: Italian wedding soup, Thai-style chicken pumpkin stew, and, last night, salmon and “poor man’s risotto” (yum!). I forget how nice it is to have a built-in lunch plan, as well as how my week’s half of groceries is the equivalent of  eating out two or three times.

Holy cow! Cooking at home saves cash! As does being intentional and decisive when buying stuff. I tried out the KonMari method at the beginning of the new year and I’ll admit that throwing away a lot of stuff really sparked a desire to cut back on spending. Sure, I’ve been online window shopping for pretty dresses, striking work-out clothes and snazzy shoes, but I haven’t committed to anything because I don’t want to waste: cash, space and time (because I regret-return stuff a lot too).

And finally: I want to have friends! (Whaaaaat?!) This sounds weird, right? I’ve admitted that I’m anxiety-ridden and shy. But I’ve had three separate conversations this week with other people about how they feel the exact same way. So I’m really going to attempt to stop letting my flight reflex control my sociability; I know a lot of awesome people liminally and I don’t want to waste time not being friends with them. I got my first taste this past weekend – between a bookclub meeting, birthday dinners and a catch-up lunch — and I loved feeling like a new me.

There you have it, kiddos. My long-winded recap of birthday festivities and my intentions for 30. Are there other things I’m endeavoring? Sure, but I’m thinking they’re really going to grow out of the wellness-plan I’ve already laid out for myself.

Much love, friends!

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All Quiet on the Western Front

After B took photos for me this morning, as I was about to zoom out the door to work, he said how I look like a lady gun-slinger from an old western film. While it’s rainy and dreary and officially autumn in New England, I’ll admit that I put an extra swagger in my step today after that comment.

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Dress: TJ Maxx

Sweater: H&M

Boots: Naturalizer

Belt: Target

Hat: Target

My weekend is far from a rodeo though. I’m about to attend a mini-training session on meditation practices, mainly because, well, I need it. I’m hoping to pull some good life skills out of these next 24 hours because during the next month, I will be pushing myself beyond all my limits: professionally, socially, physically, and intellectually. Am I doing anything glammy or glitzy that’s causing so many boundaries to be pushed? Not really: lots of work, per usual. I’ve just lined up my schedule in such a way that I really need to conquer every hurdle gracefully to win it. I think I’ve nailed down my “fierce” face though.

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Chasing Summer

As you can see here, I’m not giving into fall pinings just yet! While I may or may not have bought some autumnal clothing recently, those daydreams of tights and booties just aren’t cutting it for the continual 90 degree weather in New England. That’s ok, I’m soaking up every ounce of the summer heat while I can!

I bought these fabulously bright jeans from a local shoppe recently. I was walking past to grab a coffee when I saw that they were on the $20 sale rack. I loved the color, so I figured I’d stop and look at the size at least. Well, they were (roughly) my size, so I thought, “hell, let me try them on then!” Tried them and they fit perfectly — minus the eight inches of additional leg length! But I eyed the original price tag: $128! No way could I pass up awesomely bright jeans that were marked down $108; even after getting them hemmed, I still saved $100 off the original tag!

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Blouse: Old Navy (old)

Tank: Old Navy (old)

Pants: Yoga Jeans by Second Clothing at a local shoppe

Shoes: Toms

Like the jeans story, sometimes the world works in other ways exactly when need it.

On Friday night, B and I went to a gong bath, which is an alternative healing music therapy session. A gong master plays finely crafted gongs for a group of people with the intention that the music and resonance will penetrate your core and — essentially — shake away the bad stuff. We’ve done them a few times and, I’ll say, I always feel great afterward: I sleep deeply and peacefully; my body feels looser; I end up with a better outlook. They’re simply restorative sessions.

What really struck me was the narrative given by the two leaders afterward. One instructed the room that over the next few days, don’t be surprised if the world turns up messages for you in unexpected ways. And the other said, plainly, “You’re all adults: you’re responsible for yourselves, and that included your own happiness. Everyday you’re given the option to be the person you want to be — so do it.” And, well, that’s what the world told me in such large, varied ways.

B and I saw a stunning theatrical rendition of Jane Eyre Saturday night: a woman who goes against social norms and adversity, ultimately finding strength and confidence to be herself, as well finding herself on equal footing with her partner. As an almost-30-year-old, that story line rang pretty true.

Then I attended a long training session for the theatre on customer service skill development. In the crazy way the world works, the session touched upon (at least in how I read it): work/life balance; personal trigger warnings of stress and distress; honoring others’ dignities; reading and communicating with stressed/distressed people effectively; and visualizing your own personal and professional success. Phew!

Finally, I received an email about a meditation seminar happening in October: a two day event for those who have little or no experience with meditation on how to start a practice and use it effectively. I signed up within a day of seeing it!

I know that I complained about some really hard days lately, but I guess the larger universe heard that and answered pretty significantly. I can’t say every problem has been answered, but I’m certainly learning to come at a lot of those dilemmas from a different angle instead.

PSA: Wear Sunscreen.

Yesterday, I spent the day with a friend walking around a touristy vacation spot. We got lost and walked for a few hours in the blaring sunlight. I’m now bright red.

When I got home, I thought about this song: how much I loved it at 13-14 years old, and how much wisdom I remembered was packed in this. I just watched it and, well, it didn’t hit me then as much as it does now. As I mentioned in my last post, over the next few months, before I turn 30, I’m planning on addressing some major life problems/goals/dreams that I’d like to change or aspire to. Let’s casually say that this video is a preface to all of those endeavors.

I’ll see you when I’m less lobster-red, folks.

Balancing Act

IMG_2563IMG_2534Dress: Old Navy

Cardigan: Loft

Belt: Target

Shoes: TOMS

Earrings: Old Navy

I was rereading some old posts and noticed how often I mention that my work days are hard or tough or trying in some way. There are few people in the world who can say that their occupations are stressless, worry-free, ideal. While I’m not one obviously, I also don’t want to imply that my professional life is somehow abysmal: in my full-time gig, I’m lucky to work in my favorite little city, learning its ins and outs, and talking to people everyday about it; in my side job, I engage with people at a theatre — a place where they are actively partaking in hours of social make-believe. Considering I’m not-yet-30, I would say those are pretty sweet deals.

That said, here’s the rehearsed line: “yesterday was a hard day.” We had a huge work event in the high heat of August. There were unclear expectations, a lot of problems to resolve on the spot, and some unkind actions. I came home — hot, sticky, tired, achy — took a bath, drank a glass of wine and cried. It was one of the hardest work days I’ve ever experienced.

As I’m about to turn 30, I’ve been thinking of the changes my life should take. (In some weird, macabre way, when I was a child, I never thought I would live to 20, let alone 30, imagining I would die young, tragically, romantically. Too much Poe and Shakespeare for me, I suppose.) I’ve considered the professional, the financial, the familial, the physical; yesterday’s event, though, veered me to the hardest needs and wants, goals and dreams to consider — the emotional, the personal, the intellectual. “What type of person do I want to be?” “What lessons have gone unlearned thusfar?” “How will I be remembered when I’m gone?”

I have an unhealthy work-life balance, as in, there is no balance. I work a lot — for ten months a year, I average 50-60 hour work weeks — and I let everything else slide. Friendships have withered, my exercise routine is null, and I’m left tired and dull feeling so often. That’s not who I want to be, nor is that how I want others to think or remember me, the workhorse with no life. Yesterday truly made me think: is this it? Is this all I have to hold on to — this beat, extinguished feeling? I reflected back to this window when I was 25 when life was perfect: I worked a full-time and a part-time job; ran several times a week; took poetry writing classes; organized a high school reunion with old friends; and courted B by walking around the city. There was hope and happy exhaustion. And that’s want I want again.

While this is mainly a fashion blog, over the next few months, I’me endeavoring to share my “30th birthday resolutions:” the aspirations I’m hoping to incorporate as I close one chapter to open another.