Staying In. Now and Forever.

Yesterday was my last day working as the Audience Engagement and Social Media Intern for Girls’ Night In. I feel like I didn’t take the opportunity to share much about what I worked on with GNI this semester, but here’s a link to my LinkedIn, go catch up.

If you follow me on social media or have even spent a millisecond talking to me in the past three months, you know how much I fell in love with the company, team, and mission of GNI. The self-care themed newsletter and community for millennial women in DC meant more to me than my Ky-lighter (french vanilla shade obvi), spin classes, and Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel Seasoning combined. Okay, maybe an exaggeration, but still… Enamored with it. 

I think one reason that I hold this internship experience so close to my heart is that before it, I didn’t understand the concept of self-indulging. I’m an extremely type-A person; I like control, order, and all the Google Calendar reminders along the way. It’s always been extremely hard for me to take time for myself or admit that I am on the path to burnout. Self-awareness is only so productive when you lack the resources to save yourself from over-work. 

Girls’ Night In’s focus on bringing self-care to women, letting them slow down and face-mask it out, changed my own wellness philosophy. Over the course of the semester, I’ve learned to push what feels urgent to the side for a necessary second and give myself permission to not be productive 24/7. 

And, because sharing is caring: here are three parts of self-care that I now cherish, celebrate, and skip many social events in the name of. 

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1. Always Have A Book By The Bedside

Don’t fret, a full list of this semesters’ reads is coming (and it’s a good one), but I made it a priority to always be in the middle of a book. From celebrity memoirs to mysteries that are impossible to put down (no matter when your accounting homework is due), I let books be an escape from both bad and good days. One of my favorite things to do is kill off a “bad vibes day” by stepping away for an hour and entering a different, fictional world. It brings new light to once overwhelming problems in a way that mindless Netflix binging can’t. #bookwormstatus

2. Diversify How You Digest Wellness 

It’s easy to follow a fitness blogger on Instagram for work-out inspiration and call it a day, but this semester I challenged myself to move deeper into the world of wellness media. I started by connecting with Instagram Influencers that add to my own wellness journey. Some accounts are focused on body positive content or daily affirmations, like Chinae Alexander and Alex Elle, while others serve the purpose of welcoming more art to my feed, like watercolorist extraordinaire, Riley Sheeney, and illustrator, Marian Andrews.
I also unfollowed purposeless accounts and went for more pro-women powerhouses, like the Founder + Chief Creative Officer of Band.o, Jen Gotch (who also happens to be an iconic mental-health advocate + all-around total girl crush of mine). Other ways to explore wellness off social media, podcasts like GirlBoss Radio, Call Your Girlfriend, and That’s So Retrograde.

3. YOU CAN SAY NO TO PLANS- IT’S OK. 

Guys, I don’t know if anyone has ever told you this, BUT LIKE, YOU CAN SAY NO TO MAKING PLANS WITH PEOPLE WITH NO REASON OTHER THAN, “I want time alone, today.” This is my new guiding philosophy, and let me tell you, pre-internship Homebody-ness aside, it has changed me. I am a go-getter and never-let-them-downer, and now I know that turning down plans isn’t the tragic, “you’re going to lose all your friends,” situation I always thought it was.
I can watch Parks and Rec in bed on a Friday night. I can put on a face mask instead of going to a dinner party. And, I really have Alisha Ramos and Girls’ Night In to thank for that newfound, self-love. As long as I’m putting effort into the relationships I want to maintain, saying “no” because you don’t have room on your plate doesn’t mean you’re a failure, it means you’re realistic about your time. 

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Self- care is a hard concept to grasp. To learn more, subscribe to Girls’ Night In’s weekly newsletter (Fridays will never be the same) and check out their content. And while you’re at it, follow them on Instagram. And Twitter. Okay, and Facebook. And buy tickets to the book club.

Thank you to Alisha and the GNI team for all they’ve taught me. Definitely owe them all a tall mug of green tea sometime.



Stuck in my head: Pictures of Girls // Wallows
Snap it: Colada Shop, 14th St, DC

Lessons Learned.

Hi friends, it’s been a while. This semester has been so jam-packed; words can’t describe. A couple months ago I decided to let those words go and focus on other challenges. The year isn’t over, but a creative mind can only take so many textbook readings before it has to create again. So here we are: let’s call it a writer’s revival.

Today I woke up inspired to write something that feels long overdue. If you know me, you know that there are a few things in my life that rise above the rest. One is exercise. Another one is getting the perfect picture of a latte. But, the most important one is, undoubtedly, my friends and family.

The way I live my life is an imperfect balance of uptight and carefree. While the rigid, routine, perfectionist side of my personality is more dominant, some of my key life philosophies come from the carefree side. Aka- my Dad. Today, instead of celebrating his birthday with Duck Donuts or Key Lime Pie, I want to share some lessons I’ve learned from him that have become my guiding principles.

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1. Just Get Through It

Sometimes stress needs to take a backseat, and you just have to endure. This doesn’t mean “don’t give a shit,” as my Dad constantly reminds me when he tells me to take a chill pill over an exam or irrational worry, but sometimes it’s okay to let go of the pressure that comes from the expectations we set for ourselves. High standards are great to a degree, but perspective is key. If you sweat all the small things, the important things, like your health and the relationships you value, will just be harder to manage.

2. Not a Bad Choice

Guilt is a frequent feeling for me. I experience studier’s remorse like no one’s business. I have trouble indulging or taking time for myself. My Dad combats my insecurity in those moments by reminding me that just because that guilt is there, it doesn’t mean I made a mistake or a bad decision. Sure, there was maybe a different course of action, something more effective or proactive I could’ve done, but I shouldn’t let my overthinking make me feel wrong. It’s a “there will always be a next time, here are your options for when it comes,” thought process.

3. Be an Active Listener, but an Even More Active Understander

There have been so many days this semester where I’ve questioned the difference between a bad mood, a bad day, and being in a “bad place.” Stress wears heavily and while I can talk about how it’s affecting me, it can be scary to admit that it’s taking a toll. I am so fortunate that I can turn to my Dad for advice and support, but also as an ear that wants to understand the why behind it all. The level of understanding that has developed in our relationship is something I strive to bring to every other relationship in my life. He’s taught me to go beyond support into the world genuine caring. No thought is too crazy, no conditions to the love you bring to the table. I guide my actions by how I can have that openness with the people I love.

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So, while this is no candle-packed birthday cake or surprise breakfast in bed, I hope this pays homage to you, Mister Dad. Thank you for all the calming phone calls, seafood feasts, and for being such a positive role model in my life. I know that I’m going to get roasted by Mom for the sappiness, but it felt necessary to finally thank you. Nothing says “reunited with my blog” than a post dedicated to the dude who does it all.

One week and four days until our first Sweet Frog run of the Summer. Until then, party hard. Fifty-something looks like thirty on you.


Stuck in my head: Pacific Love // RKS
Snap it: Iceland

Content might be irregular at first, but it’s time to get back into writing. Facing fears. Facing writer’s block. Tbh, it’s been deeply missed. Talk soon!

Pressing Pause.

I was in the middle of writing a post to let you all know that I was taking a break from creating content due to lack of creative flow. But, I realized that my reasoning was a cop out from explaining what I’m actually experiencing right now- true, brutal burnout. Not in respect to everything I’m doing- I still love my internship, exercise, and AOII. But, overall, things have just been a lot harder to get done lately. 

I’m not a stranger to low energy levels. I think it all comes in a cycle with stress and sleep and self-care, but of recent, naps have become the norm and I count the hours until I get to crawl into bed with my book. I miss being engaged by my lectures and excited to do well. For the first time in my life, not even an A is motivation.

Related but unrelated, I’ve also been fighting to find a state of peace in facing certain challenges in life. Recently, I’ve been focusing on mental illness, and how it’s okay not to be okay, and learning to be a strong hand to hold for those struggling. I’m also working past shutting down emotionally during chaotic times and showing vulnerability where I would normally prefer to pretend nothing is wrong. I’ve had to accept broken things as being broken and give up on them- which has been the hardest, most taxing experience for me. It’s been really draining, I’m not going to lie. And where I would normally say I’ve had profound moments of realization in the process, I’m going to say that I haven’t yet. But, I will never stop trying to find comfort in the process.

This post seems sad. It may sound lonely or withdrawn from, but it’s written with determination and self-actualization. My mind needs a break and I want to focus on different things for a little. Like actually doing my accounting homework. And spending time with the amazing women that have built me an enviable support network. And finally facing my fear of writing for myself instead of for others.

Burning out is normal, but it’s about the recovery that comes after. I’m looking for little things that continuously spark happiness in my life. Like loving DC so much I want to cry when I walk the streets. And the memory of hearing Houndmouth for the first time at a music festival and feeling so genuinely in love inside.

I’ll write more soon. I just need to press pause and breathe and drink some tea. Then I’ll be back, avocado toast and all.

Until then, I promise I’ll still be on Instagram. 


Stuck in my head: Sun Veins // Hippo Campus
Snap it: The Coffee Bar, DC

 

Reading Revival.

Last night was the Girls’ Night In book club meet up in DC (shameless plug for GNI- follow their Instagram and subscribe to their newsletter) and let me just tell you it took me back to high school English class in the best way possible. Not only did we discuss a book that was interesting (Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong) but it gave me the creative inertia to write something again. So like, also, hi. It’s been a while. 

I started reading again at the beginning of this year because I was having trouble sleeping at night. I could give you scientific facts about how technology inhibits the secretion of melatonin in the brain or whatever, but instead, I’m just gonna go with the fact that you’ve probably suffered from technology-induced insomnia, too. And the worst part of not being able to fall asleep is the stress of knowing you can’t fall asleep. It’s honestly just a downward spiral to panic-ville. Not cute. 

But, aside from upping my nighttime routine, reading re-sparked my love for being creative and telling stories. I found myself analyzing storytelling techniques, mimicking character development, and more generally, being mindful of the way I reveal plot points in my own stories. Reflecting on the differences in the characters I was reading about lead me to develop an understanding of narratives from different perspectives. A kind of empathy I could bring to the real world.

The book club didn’t make me realize this- I was already conscious of my reading revival. But, the book club helped me realize that there are other women out there that want to grow from the books they’re reading, too. They want to understand the relationships between characters and relate it to their own personal development.

Goodbye, Vitamin was not the easiest book for me to relate to. The characters are much older, the subject touches on illness in the family and divorce, and the main character is extremely immature and underdeveloped. Yet, through the writing style of the book, I was able to fall for the positive spin on the plot’s most tragic moments. It was my type of thinking, my type of approach to challenges in life. In a time of stress and self-inflicted isolation due to exam week overload, it was nice to come home and share my perspective with someone- even if all else was completely unrelatable to me. 

So to conclude, read a book. It’s unfortunate how we don’t appreciate words on a page as much as subtitles on a screen. I think it’s time to trade Netflix for novels. Not optional. Please and thank you.


Stuck in my head: Tuesday // Hippo Campus
Snap it: my beeeeed!

P.S. The March book club book is Text Me When You Get Home. Check it out. 

Going Home After This.

Life works in crazy ways- but for some reason, it always works. I’ve been #blessed with some kick-ass internships and I’ve been lucky to learn so much. This semester is definitely no different.

I’m excited to share my spring internship with Girls’ Night In. Their goal is to “help ambitious millennial women take a break, recharge, and connect with other like-minded women.” Translation: it’s a place to shamelessly put yourself and your health first, and connect with other women that are doing the same. Think the Skimm newsletter meets Refinery29’s girl power meets your best friend.

My role on the team is to manage audience engagement on social media and plan influencer takeovers for Instagram Stories. Two weeks in and I’ve already learned so much it’s incredible. But even better than the experience is the team. I’ve yet to meet a bunch of them, but the CEO/founder, Alisha Ramos, is so smart, talented, and forward-thinking it’s almost absurd. A little background: Alisha left her position at a tech startup to start and focus on Girls’ Night In after she realized her own self-care was slipping. There’s a ton more to the story, and she made sure to share it in this article. After just the first four collaboration sessions, I’m already thinking more about creating purposeful content, staying on brand, and prioritizing work-life balance.

Besides being an amazing opportunity, GNI’s mission hits home for me. By now you’ve probably realized that I’m a bonified psycho when it comes to staying busy, productive, and breathless. Between lectures, internships, sorority, and clubs, sometimes the *pause* moments slip away. This semester I want to internalize the message I’m sharing with GNI and make more time for the calm before the storm that is my life.

For me, self-care looks like 6:30am workout sessions, reading before bed, trying to remember to moisturize, and writing about the challenges and celebrations in my life. I want to learn how to treat myself to doing nothing and indulging in things that innately make me feel guilty- like cake and sleeping in. Self-care isn’t selfish and it’s time for me to accept it.

So, by now you should all be busting out of your seats to follow Girls’ Night In on Instagram. And I feel like I definitely undermentioned their killer newsletter that gives me a reason to get going every Friday. Think weekly must-haves, must-reads, and must-see gifs. And watch their #SelfCareSaturday takeover series every week to see all my hard work in action.

Oh, and get ready for a whole lot of self-love. Because it’s here to stay.


Stuck in my head: Issues // Julia Michaels
Snap it: Shamelessly drove to the closest mural to take this… Hyattsville, MD

10 Tips to Stay On Top Of Your Fitness Goals

New Year’s Eve has long since come and gone, but those little things called resolutions are technically still hanging around. If you were inspired to up your fitness level this winter, the original motivation of your goal might be starting to waver. It’s cold outside. It’s hard to get in shape. It’s not easy to change old habits. 

Here are my top 10 tips for staying active, even when everything inside you screams “give it up already!”

1. Put each workout on your calendar
Make yourself a plan and stick to it. It’ll be hard in the beginning, but by making trips to the gym part of your day, like a work meeting or class, it becomes more routine. And inevitably, less painful. You should see my Google Calendar- I’ve got it down to the leg day.

2. Carry healthy power snacks with you
It’s easy to make an excuse for skipping the gym. My number one: I didn’t have the power to workout because I was too hungry. By carrying foods that fuel a workout, like almonds and protein bars, you’ll always have the pick-me-up you need.

3. Don’t be afraid to try new workouts
Treadmills get stale quick, as do 7 spin classes or 7 lifts or 7 Zumbas a week. Don’t be afraid to mix it up. It’ll challenge your body more and give you the ability to find what really gets you excited to be active. You never know what you might love until you lace up your sneakers and go.

4. Have an idea of what your workout is… before you get to the gym
You’ll waste less time and be able to accomplish more in a shorter period of time. If you’re unsure of your workout, you might default to less effective, more generic moves, rather than things that could really challenge and change you. Or even worse, resort to walking around trying to figure out what to do. Which leads me to my next suggestion…

5. Keep a log of workouts on your phone
Instagram, Pinterest, and Youtube are amazing resources to help plan workouts. There are more things out there than pushups and situps and ellipticals. Explore different circuits that hit muscles you didn’t think of before. Honestly, it can be even easier than Insta- a simple Google search can yield millions of options. My personal favorites are this ab killer and this youtube video that’s going to turn me into Gigi Hadid.

6. Ease your way into fitness & take your recovery days
No one said you have to be John Cena on day one. Give your body time to build up strength and work towards higher weights, rather than grabbing them from the start. Along with that, make sure to give your body time to heal post workout. This means stretching and rolling your muscles but also taking a day or two off a week to relax and heal.

7. Not every workout has to be the best
Sometimes half the battle is getting to the gym. Give yourself a break if you’re lifting lighter or sprinting slower some days. Fitness is a cumulative process. Somedays will be stronger than others. And when you are having an off day, take it a little easier. If you push too hard now, you’ll keep suffering later.

8. Find a workout buddy
What really changed my workout game was finding a partner to lift with (Hi, Sam). While we don’t hype and push each other like some fitness friends, we work towards our goals together and make our time at the gym enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong, we work hard as hell between the hours of 7 to 9am, but if Sam’s in the gym, you know I have to be there, too. Sometimes, it’s all about accountability, baby.

9. Ask when you don’t know
Part one: instead of skipping weird moves or leaving hard classes, ask for modifications to exercises to match them to your fitness level. And part two: I’ve found the fitness community to be excited to show someone the ropes, don’t be afraid to ask how a machine works if you don’t know. There’s no reason you have to figure it out all on your own.

10. Remember: You’ll never regret it once it’s over
The most concrete, absolute, real thing about exercising is that you will NEVER regret a workout once it’s over. When that elbow sweat drops after squats or you hit that flat road at the end of a spin class, being proud is inevitable. It’s why I get to the gym. It’s why the guy next to you gets to the gym. It’s why you get to the gym. No pain, no gain. And definitely no regrets.

So keep running, box jumping, and mountain climbing your way through 2018, friends. Your fitness progress awaits. 


Stuck in my head: Go F*ck Yourself // Two Feet
Snap it: A gym near you

Little Girl, Big Trip: Phuket, Thailand

Well, here’s the finale. One last stop on my Southeast Asia world tour. 

I have to say, two days on this little island in the sun just wasn’t enough. The views are unforgettable and the memories are definitely keepers. The end of this trip was focused on three things: sun, scuba, and sea caves. And believe me, add this destination to your bucket list asap.

Passports ready? This last one is Phuket, Thailand. 

 

Gotta say, it’s good to be home. Here come a whole lot of egg whites, spin classes, and pre-semester shopping trips.


Stuck in my head: Dead Sea // Lumineers
Snap it: Phuket, Thailand

Little Girl, Big Trip: Singapore, Singapore

So close to the finish line. Aka, my next spin class. But until then…

Singapore brought rain, but it also brought this little thing called education. Our stay was packed full of company HQ visits that top the charts of the coolness scale. My inner workaholic was going wild. I’m talking pure fangirl at some stops.

While this skyline’s no New York, it’s definitely new to me.

Passports ready? This one’s Singapore. 


Stuck in my head: Downtown // Lilla Vargen
Snap it: Singapore, Singapore

Businesses visited: FusionWorld, Yahoo, Facebook, AJ Hackett, Tiger Brewery, Marina Bay Sans, Google, LinkedIn, Singapore Airlines, Accenture

Little Girl, Big Trip: Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Good morning, Vietnam! Watched the first 20 minutes of that movie so the reference feels justified.

Well, friends, we’ve reached the part of my trip where I have to start re-wearing clothes and all I can think about is a salad. But have no fear, I’m in the land of Pho and I’ve never thrived more. 

This part of our trip has been the most educational. We’ve explored the Vietnam War from the other side of the world, floated down the Mekong River, and stocked up on fresh mango. From the Chu Chi Tunnels (where I got hit in the face with a live bat) to business visits with Nike and Intel, it’s been a lot to take in. Not to mention there are more scooters in this city than pictures of brunch on my camera roll. 

Passports ready? This one’s Ho Chi Minh city. 


Stuck in my head: Obsession // Vice, Jon Bellion
Snap it: Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Little Girl, Big Trip: Siem Reap, Cambodia

Why stop at Bangkok? Next, my travels have led me to one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Watching the sunrise over Angkor Wat, touring temples, meeting locals. I’ll never forget you, Cambodia.

Passports ready? This one’s Siem Reap.


Stuck in my head: Best Friend // Sofi Tukker
Snap it: Cambodia

Little Girl, Big Trip: Bangkok, Thailand

This winter break, I packed my 40-pound suitcase and hit the air. 23 hours later it’s all Pad Thai and Buddhas and I’m living an Instagrammer’s dream. Welcome to my Southeast Asia Study Abroad series: Little Girl, Big Trip. Prepare for a whole lot of munching, temple lovin’, and travel vibes.

Passports ready? This one’s Bangkok, Thailand.


Stuck in my head: Hate That You Know Me // Bleachers
Snap it: Bangkok, Thailand

Fork & Knife, Yes Please.

I’ve been putting a lot of thought into what industry I want to work in. Where do my passions lie, what do I believe in, what do I want to promote? Pivoting is hard, especially when your portfolio screams “pass her a fork and take her to brunch, this girl looks like a foodie.” But in all honesty, I’m not a foodie, I’m an eater. I’m not going to swoon over a hint of truffle, but I’ll swallow and smile if it tastes as good as it sounds.

To me, the food industry isn’t at all about the product. I could do without the fancy prime rib or secret sauce. Raid my fridge and all you’ll find is day old sushi and egg whites. But when I see food, I think about the connection that’s forged when a meal is shared. It’s the storytelling capabilities of a bowl of pasta that’s got me pretty hooked. It’s what’s revealed when a person asks you to “pass the pepper, not the salt,” that makes me lean in and listen.

Let me lay it out for you: take a birthday cake. You’ll rarely find two people completely satisfied by the same piece cake. He’s a chocolate fan, I’m strictly vanilla. She loves cream cheese frosting, I think that if you want cream cheese, go get a bagel. Yet, when we slice it up and hand it out, we’re all celebrating together. It’s not about the bite, it’s about the moment shared, the seconds celebrated, the cheers to the next couple years. The cake is simply the physical manifestation of all that love and happiness.

Or take your beloved Christmas dinner. It doesn’t matter if Aunt Lucy royally screwed it up this year and it tastes like something straight from the garbage, it’s your Christmas dinner. It holds the tradition and sentimentality of your family. It might be that one moment when you all come together and share something for the first time all year. It’s special.

When I look at it like this, marketing food products is storytelling. Pizza isn’t just pizza. It’s a tale of the dough-makers, the sauce-spreaders, the hostess, the diners. “Pass the parmesan” is someone opening up and welcoming a new memory.

Who knows if food is where I belong. It’s one of the only areas I’ve ever worked in. And while I explore and experiment, I’ve learned to always pause and appreciate moments with fork and knife in hand. 

So, celebrate to the fullest and take a second to hold dear those breaths between bites. Happy holidays!


Stuck in my head: Take Me // Aly & AJ
Snap it: Pizzeria Beddia (classic VSCO pic revival)

When I say pizza, I’m not talking Papa Johns. We’re talking artisan goodness. Never say no to GOOD pizza. That’s how I’ll be celebrating this year.