Day 33: Seeing the City Anew

Do you ever feel like home seems a little lackluster after being away? Mind you, I’m grateful for the warm California sunshine as opposed to the gray skies that followed me across Europe, but after my vacation I missed that feeling of waking up every day and thinking, what new things will I discover?

It can be difficult to see past the everyday thrum of daily life and routines. Yet, there are always new things to be discovered in seemingly old, familiar places. When I visited home over the holidays, my aunt and uncle took me antiquing in a downtown area I’d never frequented before. We shopped in immaculately curated stores, grabbed cocoa in a cafe with the locals, and found a shabby-chic thrift store in the basement of an old brick building. I’d lived in NH for twenty-some-odd years before then, and yet there were so many nooks and crannies I had yet to see.

Luckily for me, Los Angeles is still a mystery in many ways. An enormous mystery, filled with historical sights, museums, art, music – you name it. It’s a metropolis brimming with scenic gardens and urban sprawl and beaches – or so I’ve heard.

Coming home to LA made me more determined to be as open-minded and wide-eyed as I can. In this instance, I say the more touristy you are, the better! When I lived in Boston, I thought I’d seen it all. Then, on a whim, I took a Segway tour (yes, dorky helmet and all) of the city and suddenly there was the spot where the Great Molasses Flood happened! I don’t want to live in LA and never see more than one or two neighborhoods.

The other night I pulled out my LA tour-book that I first bought before moving out here, and generated a list of everything I want to see. Then, I randomly assigned each place to a weekend. My first stop was to The Last Bookstore, a brick-and-mortar privately owned local bookstore in Downtown LA renowned for being incredibly cool.

My theme this year was to be more adventurous, in every sense of the word. The byline of that theme, though, was that I would really really make these adventures come to fruition, rather than dreaming the days away. Putting them on my calendar seemed like the logical next step in seeing my visits accomplished.
Until next time, stay touristy my friends!

 

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Yes, You Need a Selfie Stick

P.S. If you’re curious as to how I chose Copenhagen, this article will explain all. Beware, it’s addicting.

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Where did 2015 go?

Planning sucks.

Rather, planning can be life sucking. 2015 is coming to a close, and as I finally strung those glistening dollar store Christmas lights up around my living room window, I realized I was totally drained. And slightly miserable, à la Scrooge. All I could think about was everything I had not accomplished. My laundry pile was overflowing, we still didn’t have our Christmas tree, I’d missed going to the gym, why wasn’t my first draft written, why wasn’t I fluent in Spanish yet?? Wave after wave after wave of negative, downtrodden had me throwing a pity party for one.

I made a decision then and there, as I cursed that one tiny light bulb that refused to work, that I was going to just let it go. The year has come and gone. I did what I could when I could. It’s as simple as that; I gave 2015 a very hearty try, and didn’t end up accomplishing everything I wanted to. But it’s okay! Thinking badly of myself and my choices doesn’t change the past or help me get anywhere new.

It’s been a hard lesson to swallow, but these days I’m trying to just be. I’m not pressuring myself to work on any projects, or even blogging (as I’m sure you’ve noticed). When I want to go to spin class, I go to spin class. When I want to come home and go straight to bed, I do that.

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Our Christmas twig, up and decorated at last!

There’s something absolutely delicious about not having that voice nagging at you constantly, wondering when you’ll stop doing X,Y, and Z and when you’ll start doing the things you’re “supposed to”. The voice isn’t easy to quiet, but when it’s at least muted I’m able to enjoy what I’m currently doing much more.

That being said, I believe wholeheartedly in the freshness of a new year. I’ve decided to theme 2016 as “Here’s to an Interesting Life”, and I’m kicking it off with a bang, starting with a trip to Denmark and Germany in January. After some quality time at home with the folks, I’m looking forward to plotting anew for the year. By then, I hope that naggy voice in my head will have transformed into one of encouragement and inspiration.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season! See you in January 🙂

 

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Half-Assing All the Way

Last week at work, I had a revelation of sorts. That afternoon, we had just wrapped up feeding forty or so people Indian food and were in the process of cleaning it all up. In a nutshell, it’s a super sloppy job to do. I kept bouncing back between wrapping up leftovers, wiping down the table, organizing the dishwasher, etc. Eventually I noticed how frustrated I was getting with my lack of progress. The place had remained messy, despite my efforts.

That’s when the eureka moment hit.

I have never before known Indian food to be a stand in for my life, but there it was. In cleaning as in life, I had been putting myself into too many tasks and not been seeing results. I had been half-assing everything from my DIY projects to my coupon cutting to my writing and fitness goals. The intentions were there, but my many and varied plans had fallen by the wayside.

My word for 2015 was ‘follow-through’, as I’ve been known to flit from idea to idea without ever finishing it. My closet at home is full of dead craft projects and unfinished story ideas; when the going got tough, I quit and started something new.

Thanks to my goal setting workbook that I completed last month, I have narrowed down my official goal “categories” to writing, getting in shape, being financially responsible, expanding my resume, and traveling. Having this list taped to the inside of my planner has been instrumental in keeping my ambitions focused, but now is the time to revisit them and re-plan for them afresh.

Words to live by!

Words to live by!

It can be overwhelming to take on such a task – especially if you are revisiting your goals only because you were getting overwhelmed by them in the first place. I recommend that you:

1) Take a deep breath, grab a refreshment (may I suggest a giant cup of caffeine) and find a quiet place to settle in for a while.

2) If you haven’t already, I recommend you figure out your top five goals like I did using this workbook. Once you have them, take the goals and break them into smaller chunks by category.

3) One by one, focus on each chunk and come up with a plan to see it actualize into something that’s achievable. Under my category of “getting in shape”, I wrote that I wanted to be able to run two miles without stopping. To achieve this, I’ve created a workout calendar that’s devoted solely to my exercise routines.

4) Implement those plans, but one at a time! Instead of trying to run two miles and learn how to dead squat, I’m going to focus on them one at a time, at least until I feel comfortable enough to move on or add more to my goal.

This slower pace can seem incredibly frustrating. After all, we live in a world where the McDonald’s drive thru can have a delicious McFlurry awaiting you in a second’s notice (I don’t recommend those if your goals include fitness…or living past 25). We – myself included – want things and we want them now!

But taking it one goal at a time can ensure a success that half-assing everything can never do for you. The wisdom you can find in Indian food!

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Hostess with the Mostest


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Tonight, my apartment is a little too quiet. Maybe that’s because for the first time in about four weeks, it’s just my roommate and I again. We’ve – or rather, I’ve – had a constant stream of friends and family alike crashing anywhere they could find a spot and basking in the miracle that is Southern California weather.

Playing hostess can be a tough gig, especially if you find yourself doing it fairly frequently. That’s why I’ve compiled a quick guide of to opening your home (or teeny apartment) to others!

BEFORE THEY ARRIVE

  • Clear your guests’ stay with your housemates ahead of time if applicable, and be sure to ask, not tell them that you’re having someone over. It’s a courtesy that should always be extended, especially because this is their home too.
  • If your guests are vacationing with you, make sure you’ve taken the appropriate time off from work. Nothing will ruin a trip quicker than having to go in on your planned day off.
  • Determine whether you are picking them up from their chosen port of travel, or if your guests have alternative means of getting around.
  • Ready some clean sheets and towels ahead of time, or at least have your guests’ sleeping arrangements in order. Nobody likes to touch down after six hours of flying to be greeted by dirty linens, or worse – nowhere to crash.
  • Make sure you have an extra set of keys, just in case you need to split up at any time.
  • Throw a few snacks in the fridge. People often end up at your home hungry. You don’t need to go overboard, and don’t feel bad about asking them to pitch in for more groceries as the vacation goes on.

WHILE THEY’RE THERE

  • Establish house rules. Don’t be afraid to bring up topics like whether or not you like shoes left at the door, how you split dishes,

    Mom & I in Santa Monica on her recent visit!

    or whether drinking/smoking are OK in your home. Your guests will appreciate not having to guess and getting in trouble later.

  • Lay out your schedule, if your guests are just staying with you as opposed to vacationing with you. Talk about when you go to work, when you’ll be home, etc. That way, they know not to call you at 3AM for a ride home from the club.
  • Help your friends out by giving them a rough guide to your area. What public transit is available? Are there any local restaurants you like to eat at? What kinds of activities are there to do?
  • Don’t forget to enjoy some quality time together! Even if you can only do one meal, it’s better than nothing, and it pulls you out of your regular routine.

AFTER THEY’RE GONE

  • Be sure to thank your roommate for their support. I plan on treating mine with a gift basket full of his favorite goodies 🙂

 

Your apartment doesn’t need to be the Ritz for everyone to have a good time! For now, though, I’m going to enjoy having my room to myself again.

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Hello sunshine

J

the-beach

Winter. A time where cold dwellers, like myself, dream of warm sands, sun, and longer days. For years, my other half has been trying to steal me away to Hawaii to escape the Polar Vortex or any other storm that keeps us bundled up. Finally we have a reason to escape aside from the cold- a wedding! Destination weddings are by far the smartest way to have a wedding. I mean, why else would someone plan a weekend trip to Puerto Rico mid holiday season and with the looming threat of a surprise Nor’easter?

Traveling is a very welcomed and fortunately a frequent experience for me. Equal to the feeling of coming home, the anticipation of planning and leaving for a trip can match the memories made during it. Aubrey and I are very similar in our love of travel. From backpacking to the monotonous work trips around the US, I love the freedom that comes with going somewhere new. Zero expectations and complete autonomy of my schedule are just a few things that make traveling so great!

However, there is one part of traveling I hate the most: packing. I often wish I was the type of person that could pick up and go with only my dreams and a toothbrush.  Sadly it takes a village to keep this girl satisfied on a trip. I am always trying to plan for the unknown which does not help in the packing process.  My strategy is to think like a New England-er. I pack for all weather, all terrain, and all moods. Now, how do I fit this into a carry on?

Safe Travels!

Jess (2)

Ven Conmigo

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I absolutely LOVE to travel. The red eye flights, the accumulation of tags your baggage accumulates, the excitement about going somewhere new. I’m even getting excited about “traveling” back to the east coast for Christmas! Which is why I was surprised that I haven’t really gone gone anywhere in a while. Since I graduated high school, my goal was to go somewhere new at least once every year.

And I’ve upheld that promise. Sort of. I have been somewhere new every year, for sure – this year, it was Los Angeles. What I miss, though, is picking a destination and then working towards getting myself there. One year, it was Disneyworld. Then El Paso as a volunteer. And Italy, with my best friend from college. New Orleans, to present a paper I’d written. Then this year, LA. I was surprised when I sat down to blog today that I didn’t have a new destination in mind. Where did I want to go?

Fun in Rome!

Fun in Rome!

Being a new college grad isn’t easy – student loans need to be paid back, and sometimes your income barely covers your expenses. It can be easy to dismiss ideas of travel as luxuries that can only be afforded after all the bills are paid off. But, looking back at my spending, I can see a lot of things that aren’t necessities that I’ve been spending my money on instead. A movie with friends. A dinner out with my roommate. A little pick me up treat at Starbucks. If I really wanted to nitpick, I could start by taking a look at these expenses first.

I truly believe that anything is possible with planning. Anything. Travel, business dreams, saving money in general, achieving a goal – as long as you budget and plan, you can do it. Too often, we can be deterred by the looming obstacles in our paths. One of my dreams is to hike the Appalachian Trail, but a lot of “what about’s” pop into my head. What about money? What about my job? What about my writing? What about my health? What about a hiking partner? It can get overwhelming.

The key is to take those what-about’s seriously, but break them down into manageable goals. What about money? Well, if I plan the trip for, say, three years down the road, then I will have three years to put money aside for it. What about my job? In three years, I could be planning on making a career move, or I could be at my same job. Either way, I have three years to inform my employers I’ll be taking a sabbatical for however long. And so on and so forth.

The hardest part now is where to travel to! For that, I made a quick list of cities and countries I’m dying to visit, and plugged them into a randomizer. The list needs a few tweaks, but here she is in all her glory:

2015 – Maui

2016 – The UK

2017 – Colorado Rockies

2018 – Alaska

2019 – Yosemite

2020 – Yellowstone

2021 – Brazil

2022 – Puerto Rico

2023 – Dude ranch in Michigan

2024 – Nashville

2025 – Vancouver

2026 – Bali

2027 – Iceland

2028 – Savannah

2029 – Alabama

2030 – Albuquerque

2031 – Greece

2032 – Australia

2033 – Seattle

2034 – Las Vegas

2035 – San Diego

2036 – Austin

2037 – Grand Canyon

2038 – Portland

2039 – Japan

2040 – France

2041 – Mach Picchu

2042 – Appalachian Trail

2043 – China

2044 – Chicago

 

This list has me covered until I’m 52! I can’t wait to start turning my travel dreams into reality. Anybody feel like going somewhere?

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