Not another cliche New Year post

A friend of mine, someone I’ve known basically since birth – we used to “perform” very elaborate imagined productions in our neighbor’s backyard, and then we got to actually perform together in high school drama club productions of varying quality, and now we volunteer together and also habitually eat delicious food and drink delicious cocktails while gabbing about anything and everything, and really, how rare is it that someone you’ve known for multiple decades persists into your adult life and you still somehow have shared interests and passions after all this time? Anyway, I digress. The point is, he’s a friend I’ve known forever and whose ideas I respect, and he recently pointed out that years are these totally random things that someone decided on a really long time ago, and so why do we invest so much meaning in them?

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I didn’t tell Brian I was stealing this screencap, so, sorry, Brian. If you like this particular brand of irreverent witticism, you can follow him over on Twitter at @brianmdudley.

I definitely feel where Brian’s coming from with that. I joined everyone else in bemoaning just how truly and completely terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad 2016 turned out to be, and I’m cautiously optimistic that 2017 could be a year of positive growth in my life, but I’m also not jumping into January 2017 declaring all the new resolutions and life-changing decisions I’ll be making to turn this year around.

Two songs have been playing in my brain these past few days: “What a Year for a New Year,” by Dan Wilson (I first heard this when it was included on Maybe This Christmas compilation released in 2002, which apparently does not legally exist anywhere on the internet, and I’m opposed to embedding YouTube videos that are 100% not authorized to be sharing the song, so you guys can go ahead and google this one), and “Lights and Buzz,” by Jack’s Mannequin (thanks for coming in clutch here, Spotify – give it a listen).

Dan Wilson may have had a premonition about what life would feel like, come 2016, when he wrote this song, though I suppose the early ’00s had their fair share of problems. The song opens, “What a year for a new year / We need it like we needed life, I guess / The last one left us lying in a mess / What a year for a new year.” It’s the bridge, however, that really rings true for me this year: “Hope we’ll forget about this place /  Let it go without a trace /  Wipe the teardrops from our faces.” I cried a lot in 2016. I cried too much. I don’t want to cry as much in 2017. Let’s work on that.

The Jack’s Mannequin track is gorgeous, melancholy, honest. Andrew McMahon wrote this song while battling cancer – specifically, it was the first track he wrote after receiving a stem cell transplant from his sister, which saved his life. The song opens, “I’m coming home from my hardest year / I’m making plans not to make plans while I’m here.” 2016 wasn’t my all-time hardest year, but it’s certainly worthy of an honorable mention. If nothing else, this year felt relentless, like I could never quite catch my breath before the next universal bitch slap descended.

That second line of “Lights and Buzz,” though, that’s the attitude I’m taking into 2017. I’m making plans not to make plans. I’m trying to free up space in my life for life to happen to me, in the hopes that perhaps the tides will change. I can’t get into specifics here, but there have been some positive developments that I hope will come to fruition in the next few weeks, and they’d bring about major shifts in my life.

The biggest change is one that I can share – I’m moving next week. While my cousin is in India for the next two years, I’ll be living in her condo, in a great neighborhood. I’m so excited about this change. I’ve been living at home and haven’t put myself first in a really long time – especially over the past year – so it will be really good to have some distance and space for myself. My family will still be only a 20 minute car ride away, but to not come home to that every night will be so freeing. I feel guilty saying things like that, but it’s the truth. I get to prioritize myself first, and I’ll have the room to do so.

So that’s the theme as we enter into this arbitrarily chosen span of time we call a new year – creating space, giving myself time, and not making plans. Letting things come as they may, and I’ll make the most of them. No expectations, either high or low – just openness and willingness to experience life as it happens.

Bring it on.

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I am the liberal elite.

Well. These last 24 hours have been a real shitshow, huh?

I’ve had a lot of discussions today and inevitably I end up making the same confession: I am the liberal elite. I’m exactly what Trump has railed against. I’m the person who disgusts the Republican party (well… I’m one of the many people who disgust them, let’s be real here).

My undergraduate degree is from one of the most liberal colleges in America. At one point while I was a student, Fox News went through a period of referring to us as “The University of Havana North.” (Sidebar: Oh my god, YouTube, I’m so glad you exist and that you’ve retained this clip for a decade. Thank you, interwebs. My grandmother called me after this aired, shrieking “Do you know what Bill says is happening at your school?!” Sure do, Gram. We’re loving it. We had t-shirts made and everything.) In my initial draft of this post, I claimed that we were the MOST liberal, but according to this Washington Post piece, we’re merely in the top ten, with 30 registered Democrat professors to every 1 Republican; Brown is kicking our ass at 60:1. Slipped a bit in the ten years since I graduated, I guess.

In 2004, when George W. Bush was reelected, I was safely on campus. I was surrounded by peers, by like-minded individuals who were all equally distressed over the results of the election. For context, Columbia has always scheduled fall break to coincide with election weekend, and many people used that break to travel by bus to New Hampshire or Pennsylvania to campaign in swing states. It was in the early days of social media – we still called it “The Facebook” and the newsfeed was over a year away from its first primitive rollout – so we relied on cable news and T9 texting as we huddled around TVs in dorm lounges. I remember that I had a show opening the following week and valiantly tried to motivate my cast to rehearse through the early poll closures, but that quickly got abandoned. I have crystal clear memories of sitting with my cast that night in John Jay lounge. People cried. Some got angry. We all tried to process it however we could, but we did so from the safe cocoon of our campus in Morningside Heights, where everyone was feeling the same disappointment and frustration. We were just a bunch of sad lions in a sea of blue.

For the past 24 hours, I have found myself liking, commenting, and reacting to posts from college peers, many of whom I have not seen or spoken to in years. I feel a kinship with them because of our common history. In many ways, my Facebook newsfeed has felt like a return to that safe space on 116th Street. I have heard others talking about the hatred and vitriol they’re seeing, but here in my universe, I’m seeing intelligent, thoughtful, insightful reflections on what we’re all going through. People are scared, yes. They’re angry. They’re hurt. People have been expressing their feelings so eloquently, but I’m not seeing hatred. I’m not seeing ignorance. I’m not seeing retribution. Here in our virtual bubble, we are trying to shine a light on what’s happening in America today, and we’re trying to make sense of it and figure out how we proceed from here.

People want to pick up and move forward, but not in a spirit of resignation. They’re embracing the belief that every single one of us can make a stand in any number of ways. We have to live with the results of the election, but we don’t have to go quietly. These friends know that money speaks, so they’re sharing well-vetted organizations who would benefit from donations and who will carry forward our ideals in the face of a conservative onslaught. HRC the candidate may have lost, but HRC the organization – the Human Rights Coalition – could use your support. Women may not have control of the White House, but for now we still have control of our bodies and our wallets, so let’s support Planned Parenthood while it’s still available to us. My fellow members of the Liberal Elite have suggested ways to volunteer and get involved, to donate our time and to make an impact. They’re looking ahead to 2018, to strategy for the midterms, and bringing peers together to mobilize.

So yes, I feel especially proud today to declare myself part of the liberal elite. I recognize my privilege. I am a straight, white, middle class woman with degrees from two Ivy League universities who is gainfully employed with job security and full benefits. I’m going to weather the storm. And if I were the type of person who could look around and say, “Well, I’m good. Carry on,” then we’d be done here.

But I’m not that person. I never have been. I wasn’t raised that way. I was raised to value human life, to show compassion for every person I encounter. Believe it or not, most of my values come from my Christian parents (Catholic dad, Episcopal mom). I come from a family with very strong roots in faith, and while I don’t currently retain any ties to a religious organization, those values don’t go away. That’s right, Trump supporters! You can be liberal AND have faith! I’ve even read the Bible – and I still keep a copy of on my bookshelf! But here’s the thing that sets us apart: my values don’t really look like the conservative Christian values I hear so much about. My values tell me that we are all equal, and that we are all deserving of respect. I was raised to believe that if I have the ability to help someone, then I should help them, whatever form that takes.

And so, through this dumpster fire of an election, this member of the liberal elite is going to use her privilege to speak the fuck up. I will not sit idly by and let people spew hatred and vitriol. I will have the hard conversations. I will call out racism, bigotry, intolerance and hatred when I see it. I will do everything in my power to make this world a safer place for the people who do not share my privilege. Who’s with me?

Is this really the best we can do?

Day three of the #DDdailygratitude challenge and already, I’m inspired to share one of my posts in a longer blog form! Unfortunately, the motivation stems from all of the frustration and anger that ultimately turned into my gratitude for the day.

I’m scheduled for a resting metabolic rate test (also known as an oxygen uptake exam, or an indirect calorimetry test) next Friday, but I need to get pre-authorization because many health plans won’t cover the exam. I have been at a weight plateau since April despite working out regularly and monitoring my diet, and so my doctor wants to do this test so that we can better calibrate my nutrition. Basically, we’re checking to see the rate at which my body burns calories while I’m completely at rest, to make sure that my metabolism is behaving the way it should be. The results of this test will help me to make sure that I’m eating enough to support my energy output in my workouts, while still maintaining an appropriate calorie deficit to get my weight down.

The pre-authorization turned into a circus. Aetna couldn’t authorize the test without the appropriate CPT code. The doctor’s office didn’t know it, and billing had to transfer me four times before they could answer my question. Spoiler alert: the Google result for the code was correct and I could have saved myself a whole lot of hold time. When I called Aetna a second time, they gave me a benefit policy code to look up, but basically told me “We won’t cover this, unless your doctor says it’s medically necessary.” However, they couldn’t tell me what “medically necessary” means. Last I checked, the very act of referring me for the test could be considered my doctor deciding this was medically necessary… but I digress.

I looked up the benefit policy to better understand what was going on, and that turned out to be a very, very bad idea. You can find it here in full, if you’re interested. Basically, I would qualify for weight loss medication, no questions asked, but they won’t cover this test because it’s still considered “experimental” or “investigational” for weight loss. Mind you, the benefit goes on to acknowledge that medication works in conjunction with calorie restriction and exercise, and also that weight loss from medication is usually temporary…. but it has the studies to back it up, so it’s all good in their book. However, this test apparently isn’t considered sound science, so Aetna’s having none of it.

A quick PubMed search turned up an article titled “Indirect Calorimetry: A practical guide for clinicians,” which

“Measurement of energy expenditure is the most accurate method to assess energy needs. Indirect calorimetry remains a gold standard in measuring energy expenditure in the clinical settings… To achieve the highest quality of patient care, we should strive for patient-specific nutrition support regiments. Indirect calorimetry offers a scientifically-based approach to customize a patient’s energy needs and nutrient delivery to maximize the benefits of nutrition therapy.” [Nutr Clin Pract. 2007 Aug;22(4):377-88]

Meanwhile, a systematic review of energy expenditure studies, published in Obesity Reviews in 2012, turned up this endorsement of using indirect calorimetry to get more accurate information for patients:

“Today, many health professionals including dietitians typically use prediction equations because of ease of use, low cost and decreased participant burden, but emerging evidence is reflecting great disparities between predicted and measured energy values… The level of inaccuracies of prediction equations that are commonly used in clinical practice may potentially impact patient outcomes… As health professionals seek to improve their quality of service and provide appropriate nutrition care to prevent clinical morbidity and mortality, measuring energy requirements through IC [indirect calorimetry] may be the direction of the future.” [Obesity Reviews, 13: 753–765. doi:10.1111/j.1467-789X.2012.01000.x]

(In case you’re wondering, this is what happens when you’re someone who is naturally curious, who enjoys learning about interesting topics, who believes in doing the research on her own health, AND who also happens to work in academic publishing. Doctors either love me or hate me. There’s no in between.)

So, basically, I was in a really bad place when I called my doctor’s office for the third time today. I had a phone number from Aetna, and I needed my physician to call and make the case for medical necessity, so I’m not on the hook for $200. And that’s when today’s moment of gratitude stepped in.

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The woman I spoke to this third and final time was so kind. She took down all of my information, and she reassured me when she let me know that she processes requests like this all the time. My doctor is at a conference through Monday, so she told me she’d share the message then, and she also promised to follow up with me herself Monday afternoon, even if she didn’t yet have an answer, just so I’d know where things stood at that point. She listened. She cared. It was so unlike every other conversation I had experienced so far today, and I was so grateful to her, I burst into tears. (What can I say? It’s been a long week.)

It’s a sad commentary on the state of our health care in this country that I had to jump through so many hoops today, and an even sadder commentary on human behavior in general that I felt so surprised and relieved to finally experience a little kindness.

We’ll see how this all plays out. I’m probably going to move forward with the test either way, just to know exactly where my metabolism stands, but I’d feel a hell of a lot better if it didn’t set me back $200. More to come!

In the meantime, it’s not too late to jump on this Daily Gratitude plan. Thanks to @thedaydesigner for pulling this together, and for making awesome planners – check out their website here. I love that they offer free printables so you can see how the layout works for you before ordering the full planner. I’ve been using their Daily Planner printable for almost a month and I love it, and I can’t wait to order my 2017 Planner!

Create your own joy

The world happens around us, every day. It happens around us and sometimes, it happens to us. There are any number of things that are totally outside of our control, and sometimes, those things are pretty terrible.

You know what’s totally within your control? The ability to create your own joy. You can give yourself permission to seek out joy. That’s allowed. It should even be encouraged.

picmonkey-collageI spent the weekend on the Cape, borrowing my cousins’ incredible home for a much-needed break. I took Friday and Monday as work-from-home days so that I could have some time to myself, to get some much-needed mental clarity and peace. For the weekend itself, friends came up from New York and drove down from Boston to spend Halloween in Provincetown. We got to be very stereotypical New England tourists for the day on Saturday, and when night fell, we dressed up in costumes, broke out the booze, and celebrated the holiday in truly ridiculous fashion. It was something of a social experiment, throwing together two separate sets of friends who had never met, but it turned out great and the weekend was a success.

Leaving the Cape yesterday for the long drive back to Boston, I found myself reflecting on how grateful I felt for the past few days – grateful to the family who let me use the house, to the friends who made the journey to the Cape, to the job that gave me the flexibility to work remotely, to the universe for giving us amazing weather. The key, though, is that I didn’t sit around and wait for these things to fall into my lap. I asked whether the house would be free at any point this fall; I asked my friends if they wanted to spend a weekend away. I created space for this weekend to happen.

If I don’t make a conscious effort to create space for joy, then yes, it’s really easy to let everything else overwhelm me. That’s the thing about stress, about exhaustion, about bad news and difficult experiences: they creep, they spread, they entangle you. You can let it happen, or you can do something about it. I’m choosing the latter; I’m choosing to invite in the light.

To that end, I’ve decided to participate in a Daily Gratitude challenge for the month of November. I’ve been using (and loving!) the Day Designer planner printables, and the company sent an email out this morning with a link to their free daily gratitude journal printable. They shared a blog about how to make gratitude a daily habit, and they’re encouraging followers to share their daily reflections on social media with the tag #DDdailygratitude.

joy-gratitude-quoteI’ll be sharing my daily gratitude posts on Instagram at @beingyourchange, and where appropriate I may expand them into a longer post. I’m hoping this will help to keep all of the dark-and-nasties at bay, while keeping me focused on the sources of joy and light in my life.

Learn to receive

I went on a podcast subscribing spree over the weekend. Lately my podcast habits have heavily skewed toward political content, but the closer we get to the elections, the less I want to listen to media interpretations of the absolute shitstorm that is the country right now. (For the record, I’m With Her.) (If you needed me to tell you that, you haven’t been paying attention.)

I poked around a bit trying to find some podcasts on health and wellness, skewing more toward mental health and wellbeing. I haven’t had much time to settle in with the stack of books sitting on my nightstand, so in the meantime, podcasts on my commute will have to be enough to help me along.

I stumbled across one this morning that felt like it was targeted right at me. The podcast is titled Women Wanting More, and I admittedly haven’t listened to enough to judge whether it will be a permanent addition to my list, but today’s felt perfect. Episode #183 is titled “I Receive This (and Why YOU Should, Too)” and it’s all about how many women struggle to accept, to receive.

When others pay us compliments, we brush them off or respond with a self-deprecating comment. When colleagues ask us if we need help at work, we decline – we’ve got this, even in reality we’re drowning. Friends tell us to reach out if we need anything and we nod, knowing that things would have to be dire indeed before we take them up on the offer, because we will have things under control even if it kills us.

In the podcast, the host, Karen Osburn, encourages us to learn to receive. Have you ever tried to just receive when others want to give? Whether it’s a compliment, an offer of help, a kind word, a gift – what if you just received it and allowed yourself time to enjoy how it feels not to be the one giving?

I’m working on it, and this podcast was a good reminder to be more intentional in how I react when I’m given the opportunity to receive. Give it a listen.

The Halloween Dilemma

People are usually surprised when I say I’m not a huge fan of Halloween. I’m a theater kid, we’re supposed to love any opportunity to embrace a costume, particularly if a theme is involved. Setting aside the fact that I haven’t been onstage since 2003 – almost half a lifetime ago! – the truth of the matter is that Halloween becomes a lot more work and a lot less fun when you’re a larger lady.

I’m 5’9″ so those flirtatiously short costumes that you see on other girls put me in danger of an indecent exposure arrest. It’s also just too damn hard to try to buy a costume off-the-rack; most costumes run small and the cheap fabrics do absolutely nothing for my body. So if I want to do a costume, I have to make it myself – and since I can’t sew, that usually means trying to think of something I can build around existing wardrobe pieces.

My all-time laziest costume was “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” – I dressed in all black, wore a pair of dark sunglasses and lots of pearl jewelry, and I carried a Tiffany’s bag filled with donut holes. I loved this costume, but very few people understood it, so I spent most of the night explaining myself to increasingly drunk party-goers. On the plus side, drunk people love snacks, so the donuts were a win. I don’t have any pictures of this costume, because in every picture from that Halloween, I just look like the lame friend who showed up in normal clothes – although my hair does look fantastic.

miss-piggyI knew I had to step it up the following year, so I went as Miss Piggy. I wore a strapless black dress I already had in my wardrobe, and I made a purple and silver sequined belt to wear with it. I bought purple velvet gloves and a purple feather boa (which molted all over my friend Steph’s apartment – sorry, Steph!) and recycled the mountains of fake pearls left over from the previous year’s Tiffany’s get up. I made pink pig’s ears from craft foam and glued them to a headband, and I put a Kermit the frog picture on a stick and carried it around to make it completely clear who I was meant to be. (In other news, check out that REALLY AWESOME photo quality – this dates back to 2009, and I grabbed it off of Facebook. Those pictures were 100% taken with someone’s crappy Canon point-and-shoot digital camera. Thank you internet for making these things so easily accessible. Also, can we show a little love for my commitment to the Snookie poof?)

I really outdid myself with Miss Piggy, and I have absolutely no recollection of my costumes for the next few years. The internet is also no help here – 2010 through 2013 were apparently dark years. I’m going to go ahead and blame that on the fact that it is just so damn hard to figure out a costume when you aren’t a size 6.

2014 minion.jpg2014 marked my return to costume life, and I scaled back a bit from Miss Piggy. I went as a minion, based purely on the fact that I had a denim dress that would work as a substitute for the minion’s overalls. Yellow tights, a yellow long sleeved tee, and black boots completed the look. I kept the crafting to a minimum, making a belt with the Gru logo on it and crafting together a pair of goggles. The goggles fell apart at the first party I wore this costume to, but luckily it was hosted by a world-class DIY-er who had spray glue on hand to help me fix things. We got a little overzealous (I blame the tequila and not her skills with spray glue, for the record) and my beer bottle was stuck to my hand the rest of the night, but otherwise it was a success. This was also the comfiest costume I’ve worn in ages.

cruella.jpgI went from that – pretty simple, minimal effort – to the most involved costume I’ve ever made. In 2015, I decided I could not live another day without channeling Cruella DeVille. I wore a simple black dress, and made a red sequined belt to go over it. I bought the wig and teased it within an inch of its life, and I carried around a stuffed dalmatian with a noose tied around its neck (sidebar: there are two types of people in the world – the type who finds that hilarious, and the type who thinks it’s horrifying and that I’m a bad person for finding it hilarious. Excellent way to help me weed out the people who lacked a sense of humor at the party.) I also decided to sew my own cape, with a dalmatian-print exterior and a red sequined lining. Only one problem: I can’t sew. At all. And the printed fabric was super thick, so getting a needle through it was a challenge. I worked on that damn cape every night for hours in the week leading up to Halloween, but in the end it was totally worth it. This costume was SO expensive to make, and while it wasn’t uncomfortable, it wasn’t exactly easy to wear – the cape was super warm, and the wig didn’t really fit properly on my gigantic head. I held onto the whole thing and will definitely reuse it at some point in the future, but it’s retired for the time being.

I’m in the process of making this year’s costume – the Queen of Hearts. I originally considered Alice to take advantage of my straight blonde hair, but 1) I don’t own a blue dress to serve as the foundation of the costume and 2) Alice is boring. as. fuck. I love a villain and I love a diva, and the Queen of Hearts is both of those things. I’m recycling the red sequin belt from last year, and I’m making most of the other costume elements – a headpiece (I LOVE a headpiece), a royal scepter, and a tutu. I’m crafting some flowers from playing cards using this tutorial, and I got rose beads to serve as the center. The head piece will be made from silk flowers and glitter craft foam for the crown, and the scepter will be made from playing cards and more craft foam. The tutu is a work in progress – it’s incredibly easy and involves NO SEWING (I learned my lesson last year), but when I tried it on halfway through the process today, I realized it extended a full two feet in front of my body. Not. Good. So I’m restarting and hoping it’s a little less full if I use a single layer of tulle instead of double up.

I want to look cute on Halloween just like any girl, but for that to happen, I have to put in a hell of a lot more work (and time, and money) than most people. It’s just not possible for me to walk into a party store and leave with a flattering costume. Luckily, I consider myself to be pretty crafty and creative, and I don’t really mind the time it takes to make these costumes happen — but I just felt like I needed to acknowledge that it is a process, and sometimes it is kind of a pain in the ass. And if I woke up tomorrow and had magically shrunk to a size 6, you bet your ass I wouldn’t be spending my time in line at Joann’s waiting for the fabric cutting counter. I’d be at Party City picking up something premade and enjoying my newfound free time leading up to October 31.

Another mimosa, please.

I spent the long weekend in my favorite place on earth with my favorite people, and I. Am. Exhausted.

Things I learned this weekend:

  1. When you’re out with a friend you don’t get to see very often and you’re ordering wine by the glass, it’s really easy to lose track of how much you’ve had, especially when the bartender has a heavy pour. Then you get the bill and you realize you’ve had a bottle and a half of wine. Each. Whoops.
  2. It has been four and a half years since my last marathon bottomless brunch (an especially memorable visit to Lasagna’s the day of our 5-year college reunion, when they finally kicked us out because the restaurant was flipping over to dinner and apparently that’s when the mimosas stop being bottomless). Turns out 31 is officially too old for bottomless brunch, especially when you approach it as a challenge. “Oh? You’re cutting us off after two hours? I ACCEPT THIS QUEST.” Again. Whoops.
  3. I know a lot of people get into trouble because when they’re drunk they start craving junk food and end up overeating. I am the exact opposite. I completely forgot to feed myself during Saturday’s marathon outing. There were the token breakfast foods consumed alongside the bottomless mimosas, but let’s be honest, those are only there to add an air of legitimacy to the quite frankly inhuman quantities of champagne you’re consuming. And then I forgot to eat anything else. For twelve hours. When we made it to Crif Dogs at 1am I greeted that hot dog like I had never seen food before. Honestly, I’m astounded I didn’t black out in a corner around 4pm. And once again. Whoops.
  4. I decided to stick around the city and drive home on Monday, officially giving “We’re going to watch the debate!” and “Who wants to drive in a hurricane?” as my rationale. The unofficial but very real reason: I fell asleep sitting up at a bar during the Patriots game at 2pm (luckily I remained upright and spared myself the indignity of face-planting into a plate of buffalo wings) and subsequently napped straight through the 4pm games. Driving four hours back to Massachusetts was a non-starter. The drive wasn’t much better on Monday, culminating with me getting pulled over at a toll booth on the Mass Pike (….and getting off with a warning because my last speeding violation was five years ago, almost exactly to the day, also received while on the Mass Pike on a Monday morning driving home from a weekend of NYC ridiculousness – noticing a trend here?) It turns out things that came easily at 24 are just painful at 31. Who knew?

I am in full on recovery mode. I fell asleep at 7pm Monday night after working from home for the afternoon, and I have slept like the dead the past few nights. I’m still dragging myself through my workouts, but I’m definitely not at 100%. And you know what? I don’t regret a single thing. I needed this weekend more than I even realized.

These past few days have really driven home how much your mental state impacts your physical well-being. I’ve been in a pretty dark place for the past month or so; the world has been throwing a lot my way, both at work and at home, and I wasn’t doing a great job of coping and finding balance. It showed up in my attitude, in my energy levels, in my mental health and in my physical well-being. I had no motivation to drag myself to the gym, I wasn’t eating right, I wasn’t treating my body well. I was going through the motions, but I wasn’t happy.

img_3237This weekend, I got to spend time with the types of friends who make you remember who you are and where you belong. Living in another city makes me appreciate these friends so much more when I do get to see them, and every time we get together I’m reminded of how lucky I am to have these people in my life. They’re my human reset buttons. And it’s not like we all sat down to have deep, soul-searching conversations about our lives – quite the opposite. We did multiple rounds of pickle back shots, we sang early 2000s pop-punk karaoke, and we sent ridiculous snap chat stories to the friends who couldn’t be there. But that’s what I need. I need to be reminded that I don’t have to be the responsible one all the time.

My life is so much more than my job and my parents and the myriad things that make me feel stressed and pressured and pushed to go, go, go, 24/7. My life is my stories and my experiences. My life should be filled with ridiculousness and irresponsible decisions and silliness and laughter and hugs and joy. It’s about finding balance and this weekend, with these friends, they helped me to tip the scales back in my favor.