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On the sidewalk

My parents still live in the house I grew up in. I’ve found this is not the norm. Most people grieve the loss of their childhood homes in early adulthood (if they’re sentimental like me).

Even in my teen years, I never thought of living in my childhood home as a rarity. It was just life. Another fact of life: My paternal grandparents lived three houses down. In the same house my dad grew up in.

I’ve got nostalgic pavements
I’ve got familiar faces
I’ve got a mixed-up memory
And I’ve got favorite places

Kate Nash, ‘Mouthwash’

In many ways, it was a charmed existence. I could lazily stroll down the street to visit with my grandparents and maybe even sneak in an episode of Lizzie McGuire if I timed it right. My world stretched from the cherry laurel tree in our front yard all the way to the old motorboat in my grandparents’ backyard. We rode circles in the driveway and back to our house on bikes that were too big. We built forts out of twigs and scoured photo albums, making up stories about all the black and white photos.

And every time I got ready to leave, my grandpa would say the same refrain. “Stay on the sidewalk,” he’d call from his chair, a throne that doubled as a recliner. It was a sweet reminder to be safe despite the short distance between our homes. When I think about my Papa, that memory sticks the most and has stayed with me well into adulthood.

One lesson I learned from my grandpa is to stay on the sidewalk.

It’s a lesson worth remembering. Not just to be careful and stay safe, but also to stick to the path that’s in front of you. Perseverance is a useful quality to have in your tool belt, especially when life gets tough. As an adult, I see “stay on the sidewalk” as an encouragement to be steady and true. To not just give up when it gets hard, but push forward despite the difficult things.

I’m not denying that some situations require a change in direction. It’s okay to take a u-turn or even forge an entirely new path for yourself. I think that with endurance and resolve at your disposal, you can make the decision to turn left or keep going with much more confidence.

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Lobbying for hobbies

Not long ago, a now-private Kashia Dunner tweeted a rallying cry to fellow Millennials. The tweet argues that “my generation lost hobbies,” and judging by the retweets and screenshots uploaded to Instagram, it seems many agree.

The last five words are a simple yet effective call to action, especially considering this tweet was published on New Year’s Eve.

i feel like my generation lost hobbies.

everything doesn’t have to be a hustle, side hustle, or money making enterprise. sometimes it’s just fun to do something because it brings you joy, peace, relaxation, or allows you to be creative.

let’s rediscover hobbies in 2020.

Kashia (@kashia) December 31, 2019

I wholeheartedly agree with the notion that everything doesn’t have to be a hustle. In fact, I think the emphasis on Millennial hustle in a ‘gig economy’ is a sign of just how broken the corporate workplace is.

Even so, did our generation truly lose hobbies? I’m not sure. So many of my peers have little projects that are just for them. Like those coloring books for adults or making miniature houses (as a CSI: Crime Scene Investigation fan, I find these creepy). I know people who bake to relieve stress, who sketch with Procreate® to pass the time, and people who DIY home decor – not because they need it necessarily, but because they enjoy it.

Personally, I consider reading my top hobby, but I have dozens of others. I embroider, I write self-indulgent pop culture reviews, I attempt to craft, I sing (often in the shower), I sew, I dabble with fashion, I play the same three video games, I design interiors for a home I don’t have. And there’s the graveyard of hobbies that didn’t stick, like playing the Ukulele or using a bullet journal.

In reality, it’s not that I’ve lost hobbies. It’s that my attention is focused elsewhere, interest lost and distracted by what’s directly in front of me. Instead of taking time for myself, I spend hours consuming content on my phone. I wonder which Succession character I am and BuzzFeed happily answers. I binge-watch Netflix. I Google to find out if I’m dying because my eye’s been twitching for two days. I deny myself the joy and personal reward of hobbies for a quick fix like the instant dopamine rush of Likes and comments. And on and on.

In the end, whether hobbies are forgotten or merely ignored, I suppose the final thoughts are still the same. Let 2020 be the year we pivot from solely consuming to creating, too. Start indulging the weird creative side of yourself, just for you. Whether you’re making a loaf of banana bread, working up a sweat from dancing, or typing out a grand manifesto, I hope you make it yours.

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Do you care too much, or not enough?

On the surface, self-care is a trendy wellness practice. When you cut a little deeper, it’s clear that true self-care involves an active, deliberate decision to preserve your health, whether mental or physical.

There’s a difference between self-care and self-indulgence.

https://twitter.com/ThirdEyeShawty/status/914293068689543169

Buying a face mask at Target isn’t self-care. Neither is lighting a candle and using a Lush bath bomb. Sure, some days are tough, and it seems like your best bet is to crawl into bed and have a pint of ice cream for dinner. But all of these activities act more like a band-aid instead of addressing the actual issues.

Caring isn’t a cure, but it is a start.

In my unprofessional opinion, real self-care is a lot simpler (and yet, a lot harder). “True self-care,” says Brianna Weist at ThoughtCatalog, “is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from. And that often takes doing the thing you least want to do.”

Most people seek out distractions when our reality is too much to deal with, too unpleasant, too dark. Tumblr culture self-care is a crucial example of avoiding real life to #TreatYoSelf and temporarily ‘feel better.’

If you want to move beyond the temporary fix and simply better yourself, you have to get back to the basics. I’m not talking about a sensible white t-shirt or a nice denim jacket here. No, you have to take care of basic human needs like drinking water or going for a walk and soaking in some actual sunlight.

As silly as it might sound, remembering to check in with yourself and breathe more. Do you ever find yourself holding your breath without realizing it? And then put your lungs to work, with a renewed appreciation for the effortless act of breathing in and breathing out? A simple activity like this does wonders! I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure breathing has a proven, lasting positive effect on humans (historically and scientifically speaking).

Outside of the basic stuff, you also have to work on yourself and take intentional steps to get better for the long-term. Like the Times says, self-care is for anyone who wants it. Shifting away from the instant-gratification mindset and making decisions based on whether or not something will make you feel better right now doesn’t happen overnight. You have to constantly work at it, but it’s gratifying work. In the same way you might care for a garden (or in my case, proudly mother two houseplants), the more you maintain your own well-being, the more you’ll grow and flourish.

So, adopt an attitude of self-improvement instead of self-indulgence. Your future self will thank you.

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March, Revisited.

I’m forcing myself to write this now, while the subject remains semi-relevant. This past month was so full and chaotic, but in a nice “my life needs a little more balance, but it’s kinda great” sort of way. So. March. I challenged myself to write more blogs, drove to NC for a weekend visit with the twinster, and acquired a new job. These are all things I’ve blogged about, however briefly. Here’s a few things I haven’t:

ENTERTAINMENT
Can you believe the broad nature of that title… entertainment? My packed days didn’t really afford much time for new cinematic or literary discoveries. I did peruse Rookie Yearbook Three in a Barnes and Noble for a few hours, aka time well spent. I feel an overwhelming sense of pride and also despair when I think about how successful Tavi Gevinson is. One of the highlights of this edition for me was definitely the Kanye West essay, found here.

CAk-R0lVIAEETvi
Rose McIver, killing it.

I was pleasantly surprised by Rob Thomas’ iZombie- a loose adaption of the comic series by the same name. I’m a huge Veronica Mars fan (check out my blog about the VMars movie here), but I’ve never found the zombie narrative very compelling, and I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started the iZombie pilot. Any and all doubts I had were quickly abandoned. Among others, Thomas brought in former co-producer and co-series writer Diane Ruggerio to bring iZombie to life. It’s impossible (for me, anyway) not to compare this show to VMars, but all of the little comparisons I see in each episode truly just make me love it more. Mars was killed far too soon, and I find it so refreshing to witness such a familiar writing structure on my TV screen. Some might say the similarities are tired, unoriginal. But I’d argue it’s fairly difficult for a zombie show to have originality these days, regardless.

l5ymoviecoverartThis may be technically a February experience, but a huge part of March was dedicated to my continued The Last Five Years appreciation. I’d known about Anna Kendrick’s involvement with the production for months, and downloaded the soundtrack immediately after its release in February. I was totally unfamiliar with the musical itself, and became slightly obsessed once I finally viewed it. I legitimately listened to that soundtrack more than any other album throughout March. Listen to Kendrick perform A Summer in Ohio and you’ll know why. The film is a bit unsure of itself in moments, if anything it just made me wish I could see a live production of the musical.

I also binge-watched all episodes posted (to date) for the webseries The March Family Letters, a Canadian production based on Little Women and affiliated with Pemberley Digital. I’d rate it probably like three grinning cat face emojis.

FOOD
IMG_3833IMG_3832Early on in 2015, I resolved to be more ambitious with my dining out experiences. I’m fortunate enough to live in a fairly metro area, yet I always seem to eat at the same four places when I do go out. I received guests in the form of my sister Beth (newly 29) and her husband Bob this past weekend, and was happy to try out some different restaurants with them. Cafe Reveille was the perfect Sunday brunch spot, and despite the crowds of people we managed to enjoy our meals (as well as each others’ company) without any real discomfort. I don’t think I’m being too dramatic when I say the Gouda Grits were life changing, and the strawberry and cream crêpe I ordered wasn’t crêppy at all. I can’t wait to return with friends and breakfast aficionados in tow.

Miscellaneous other foods/drinks I tried this month: the restaurant PDQ, meaning People Dedicated to Quality. I didn’t really find the entree items anything worth talking about, but the apple slices and toffee dip were truly to die for. Like, it’s worth the cold fries and strange sauces just for that. I also optimistically ordered Starbucks’ Tiramisu latte and felt something similar to what Michael Bluth felt when he opened the bag in his freezer labelled “DEAD DOVE DO NOT EAT”.

STYLE

BaeIMG_3834Taylor Swift’s Style begins to play. I don’t know, except I got a nifty hair cut/colordone and I wanted to share that with you. My coworker’s mom does hair and she was very patient with me as I scrolled through multiple photos and offered vague half-descriptions of what I wanted. I couldn’t be happier with the end result! On the subject of ‘style’, this month I thrifted a vintage top with a decorative collar that I have worn constantly and with no abandon. I also was inspired by the sleek simplicity of Daniel Wellington watches and managed to snag a slightly ‘bling-ier’ version at Kohls for a very affordable price. Confession: the cheapness of the watch definitely has translated in certain wear and tear. I’d suggest to any potential watch buyers that this is definitely a purchase you want to splurge on! Find the watch you love and buy it– just trust that a slightly more expensive purchase is worth it in the end.

This turned out to be a wordier blog than I intended, sorry! That’s my March in a pretty big nutshell. APRIL IS SURE TO IMPRESS!