Doing Your Best Right Now

Before this whole c*vid-19 mess, a recurring theme that I’d been talking about with my therapist was Brené Brown’s theory that people are generally doing their best. It’s been useful to remember to assume the best in the people in my life, and now sure seems like a good time to try to assume the best in others—that in our communities, and as a national and global society, we’ll care for and be considerate of everyone during such an uncertain and, frankly, scary time. (And by that I mean stay home and wash our hands and help out those in less fortunate situations than ourselves.)

I also think it’s a good time to turn that theory of “people are doing their best” back on yourself, AKA give yourself a break because I’m going to assume you’re doing the best you can. I mean you know if you’re not being kind or safe, but assuming you are, I think it’s more common for us to constantly feel like we’re not doing enough or being enough when we’re really giving all we’ve got to give.

And right now, I think the best thing you can do amidst a literal pandemic is cut the negative self-criticism and listen to your own needs while we spend this time inside.

Stop worrying about productivity. I get it; way easier said than done. You could argue that I’m here, pressuring myself to blog before the month is up, but actually, inspiration and discipline have brought me to this page rather than pressure. I’m still learning the difference, but I guess the easiest determining factor is that I want to be here. I want to feel connected to myself and serve others in any positive way I can. This is what I’ve got (and it’s enough that it’s making me feel better, though I hope it helps you too).

Other things that have brought me back into my own sense of calm and joy are: yoga, reading, journaling, tapping, sleeping, watching TV, and talking to my people.

I’m fortunate to be working from home, but I know my back and neck are extra tense, and Yoga with Adriene is helping that and to calm my mind. I’m admittedly slow at 30-day challenges and only on day four of her Home series, but it feels fitting to find peace on my mat and in my home since we’ve all got some time to get comfy.

I dove back into Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things, a collection of essays she wrote when she was the advice columnist Sugar for The Rumpus. It’s one of my favorite nonfiction collections. I’ve been journaling when I’m pretty fed up with this whole thing and feeling anxious and in disbelief that at this random time, in a year I had already made some cool plans for, we’re somehow in the middle of what will surely be a bad page in a history textbook. It helps to feel my feelings, and then they’re not so loud once I’ve acknowledged them or gained some perspective on how I can move forward.

When I need an extra dose of positivity or a reminder of the best self I’m striving to be, I tap by following along with Gala Darling. EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) involves tapping certain points of your body to basically rebalance your energy. Gala explains it better, and she keeps it real while being very optimistic and a huge believer in manifesting great things for yourself.

I mentioned sleep because I’ve been trying to make sure I’m getting my eight hours as a night owl who’s good at accidentally staying up much later than I mean to. It’s good for my moods and my immune system, so I highly recommend, especially since the stress of this situation is heavy and exhausting.

Of course, I’m watching Netflix, specifically New Girl and That ’70s Show and Tiger King (which is insane, so many more layers than anticipated). I’ve been trying to color or use activity books as well, something for my hands to focus on that isn’t scrolling through all the news or social media updates because I find that I can’t be plugged in all the time for the sake of my own anxiety. I’ve also been brushing up on my French with Duolingo, something I’m having fun with whether I spend five or 30 minutes a day on it.

And I’m calling my people; my family, my friends, my therapist. I’m working to expand my phone network, but I’m off to a good start with a birthday call for my brother’s 30th and a virtual spa night with my friends and other calls to vent and laugh and check in more than maybe we were before things shifted.

Essentially, I’m doing my best by taking the best care of myself that I can. I’m not doing all these things every day. I’m not feeling positive 100% of the time. I don’t know when things will go back to “normal”which will probably look different after all thisbut I’m still hoping for the best and holding onto the knowledge that I’m doing all I can for myself and for others by staying inside and finding joy in it.

Cheers to 2020

In 2019, I worked on creating space for myself. This post is going to be a roundup of things I’m proud of, just to defy the little voice in my head that wants to focus on all the things I didn’t get to or could have done better. I’ll work on it in 2020 (as a therapist once told me, progress isn’t linear—read that again if you have to). I’ll get there, but I’m going to celebrate the small victories along the way. 

So, in 2019, I:

Started with a promotion to copy chief at my collegiate newspaper and celebrated winning a prestigious award with my coworkers.

I graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a bachelor’s in nonfiction (and enjoyed a surreal and fun ceremony).

I wrote a lot. I wrote a thesis with 12 essays and I felt really good about my progress as a writer. I wrote some reviews and opinion articles. I read one review on camera, a cool and weird experience. I read an essay at my department’s undergrad reading (the final of three annual readings I organized). I blogged here. I had an essay published in a friends’ lit mag, and I’m working on putting together more submissions to other opportunities. (See my Projects and Publications page)

Maybe the biggest writing opportunity I had in the latter part of this year sprouted from what felt like a failure. I didn’t get a job I wanted and was devastated—but they asked me if I wanted to freelance. I wrote one article (coming in March 2020, I believe) and we’re in the works of discussing a 2020 freelance plan. I’m really excited. 

I read some good, challenging and thoughtful fiction and nonfiction by Terese Marie Mailhot, Melissa Febos, Brian Blanchfield, Amniatta Forna and Jesmyn Ward, among others. I read (and edited) a lot of news. I found a couple cute bookstores, one I’ve been sharing with friends. I’m currently reading a holiday novel by Jasmine Guillory.

I started working at an advertising agency, where I went from a communications intern to my role as a communications coordinator as part of the same great team. 

I bought a car. I moved to a different city. I moved in with my boyfriend. I made new friends that have become really important to me. I had a great Thanksgiving and Christmas with family. 

And I started seeing a therapist. Therapy is a private practice, but it’s healthy and shouldn’t be a taboo thing to talk about. I find it useful for my anxiety and for creating space for myself to have a dedicated person to talk through things with. I’m proud of my progress with her and am looking forward to doing more of the work to prioritize myself and be present in 2020.

It feels like this will be a year of seeking what really serves me professionally and personally. As I said, I’m hoping to pursue more opportunities, one of which will hopefully be an incredible trip with friends.

Whatever unknown magic it has in store, cheers to the new year!

Show up for YOURSELF

Happy August! Before I get into what’s been on my brain, a few crazy facts for you:

– We’re less than six months from 2020 (what?!)

– Those of us who graduated in May have been out of college for three months (how??)

– I’ve had to live with a boy (*queue Monica’s whining voice) for these past three months, but I think he’d agree that it’s going pretty well (we’re very much Monica and Chandler, what’re ya gonna do?)

– Anndd I’ve successfully completed an internship at an ad agency and had my position extended!

That’s really what I want to get into: getting used to this new 9-5 business. None of the jobs I had during college resembled a Monday-Friday, 9-5 office job, but now that’s my life.

Or is it?

I started writing this to vent about how the past months have flown by as I’ve tried to adjust to this new realm of adulthood. I’ve focused so much on the facets of my post-grad life–mainly getting used to my work routine, but also learning how to live with my significant other, making friends, and navigating/driving again–that I haven’t been writing.

While those things have compounded to make me feel pretty busy all summer, I think the heart of my frustration isn’t the fault of a time-consuming 9-5; it has been me trying to find safety amidst so much change. (For those following along, big surprise, right?)

It’s felt safer to me to avoid the writing I did for my thesis that was really getting somewhere but taking real work to get there. Safer to consume TV than to do the things I know would make me feel better more sustainably, like reading or yoga. Safer to slip into a routine with JT that involves more focus on us together than to carve space for myself because I haven’t had to before; we were hundreds of miles apart and I had all the space I could want.

These examples prove that safer is synonymous with easier. I’m letting myself take the easy way out by avoiding the work or peace-bringing activities I know in my gut I should be doing.

Sometimes I do need Netflix time with JT because my brain is exhausted, but if I don’t start setting aside the time and energy, if I don’t do the damn work, the writing won’t get done. And it’s about more than writing; it’s about personal fulfillment. My whole life can’t be based on logistics and my identity is certainly not my day job.

I have hobbies and passions and creative work that I feel like it’s my responsibility to bring into the world. I don’t want to ignore my impulses to take time doing the things I love and the things that make me feel connected to myself. I have to do better at creating space to pursue the things that enrich my life (or even just make it better for a few minutes) while also pursuing this new profession I’m trying on for size.

I don’t think I’m the only one learning how to handle showing up at a new job I’m excited about and still showing up for myself. I don’t have a magic answer, just a couple steps I’m trying out, like:

– Setting reminders on my phone. The goal is that these daily reminders become habits that don’t need reminding. And it’s super satisfying to click “completed” or whatever as soon as it pops up because I already put in the time writing or stretching etc. 

– Going to free workout sessions in my town that alternate between cardio, yoga, pilates, and even hip-hop dancing. It’s nice to have one night a week I force myself to get out of the house and just spend time being active and out of my own head.

– Visiting my library! I definitely just checked out too many books, but I want to be sucked into a good book (or three) because I find that so much more fulfilling than wasting time refreshing Instagram.

Whatever you’re struggling to prioritize in your new season is valid, but I hope this serves as reassurance that we’re in this together, and we have to focus on more than just showing up to work. Let’s show up for ourselves, too 🙂 

Reconnect Before the Next Step

A concept I’ve been thinking about a lot lately: reconnecting before the next step in my life. It’s really almost here; I’m six weeks from graduating college.

These next few weeks are a season of lasts; the last weeks of living in a high rise with a view of the Willis Tower in downtown Chicago, with the Rachel to my Monica, and of walking or riding the L to work. The final weeks I’ll be at Columbia, surrounded by a community of writers I so admire who have helped build and challenge my work, and the final weeks I’ll be copy chief at Illinois’ #1 non-daily collegiate newspaper. I’ll miss the chaos of the city and the paper and the best friends I’ve made.

But I’m moving to a different city in my home state, and I’m so excited to explore, immerse myself in it, and join the writing community there. I’ll be living with JT–waking up with my best friend, having regular date nights, making dinner with the guy I love instead of FaceTiming him, all the small things I’m so looking forward to.

And so it’s a lot of sadness muddled with excitement and nerves to process in such a short amount of time, even though it feels like everything is coming together. My solution? Checking back in with what’s important to me right now so I don’t get lost in the time that’s flying by.

In other words, reconnecting with myself; If I don’t carve out time to reflect and process everything I just mentioned, this season may also include a lot of breakdowns. Honestly, it may either way (change is always hard for me), but I think it’s still important to care for myself in the best ways I can. So, I’m going to yoga with a friend on Wednesdays again. I’m making more time to journal and focus on writing. I’m embracing girl’s days with my friends because sometimes you just need a day to binge the “Twilight” movies and check in with each other.

Which brings me to my second priority: reconnecting with friends. Specifically, my female friends who have been evolving the ways I think about the world and myself for the better. They love me and make me feel empowered and remind me how important it is to make sure they feel the same. I’m fortunate to have awesome women in my life every day and to have friends I’ve made in the last year that I also want to spend more time with before I’m a little farther away.

Reconnecting with home; I mean this on several levels. First, home has had three separate meanings for four years, and it’s about to take on a new one. I can’t fully grasp that right now, not before it’s taken shape, but it’s definitely something I’m thinking of and trying to cope ahead about.

Second, being okay with stasis. It’s spring break season right now and all of our social media feeds are full of tropical vacation pics. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t bummed I didn’t go to Southern California or to AWP or just somewhere for an actual vacation. But there is beauty in being stationary, in being grateful for the home you’re comfortable in and lucky to have and people who make it so. Last year, I was so, so fortunate to go to Europe and to California and to Alabama, trips that I needed for different reasons and that taught me to think of home (and a lot of other things) in new perspectives. This spring, I picked up a few extra work shifts and then headed home, out of the city, to spend time with my family, my childhood bff, and JT.

I’ve said it time and again, but sometimes what you need is so understated; walking through HomeGoods with your grandma; eating froyo in the park with the best friend you’ve had since second grade; waking up to see the light perfectly illuminate the periwinkle walls of your childhood room. Sometimes, what you need is rest, and when you can’t get a huge quantity of that, you have to hold tight to the simple things that make you feel better.

That’s the plan for what’s left of Spring 2019 and beyond.

Goodbye 2018, Hello 2019

Happy new year! I know it’s been a little while; the end of 2018 seemed to fly by. I’m in disbelief that it’s actually 2019–this is the year I graduate from college!

To kick off this year, I wanted to follow the trend of compiling some of my favorite things from 2018. I love a good list, so I put together some of the books, movies, and music I read, watched, and listened to this year that I think are worth telling everyone about. I’ll include that below.

But while I was reflecting, I realized that even though I thought most of my experiences this year had been kinda tough and not worth revisiting, the opposite was true. My list of experiences that I’m grateful for this year is my longest (and I’m sure I’m missing a few things, too).

For starters, I began my year in Germany and then really kicked it off in Paris. Even though I was feeling lost in translation–in many ways–it was still Paris. And it gave me friends and memories I don’t think I’ll ever lose.

I spent another lovely spring break in San Diego and Palm Springs.

Fast forward to my 21st birthday (finally!) in June, and I celebrated it with my queen Taylor Swift and my person, a boy who I’ve been sharing my favorite music with since 2014.

In the midst of a messy summer, I took a trip with my mom that grounded both of us.

I went on a sunset boat cruise on Lake Michigan. Aside from being absolutely beautiful, it felt like the perfect symbol of things falling together. I started a new job, I was pursuing another, and I was making peace with the time it had taken to get to that point.

I finally brought my roommate and college bestie home to meet my childhood bestie and see my small town. It was a quick but restful weekend.

The job that I mentioned pursuing is going really well; I loved my first semester of working at a newspaper. It’s equal parts challenging and rewarding and watching the daily collaboration is kind of mind-blowing, in the best way.

I spent Christmas in Alabama with JT’s family. I was really nervous to do something different for Christmas (I’m used to MI christmases with my family), but it was a really great week. We watched the sunset on the beach in Gulf Shores on Christmas Eve, went for a boat ride on Christmas Day, and even saw dolphins.

Finally, I ended the year with JT and his friends dancing, a very fun NYE for the most part.

Now, it’s the first day of 2019 and JT and I are exploring the area that we plan to move to after graduation. It’s a scary and exciting glimpse into the future–this coming year in a nutshell.

So here’s to 2019; thank you, Universe, for the people and amazing experiences I got to have with them in 2018. I’m open to all the opportunities, connections, and memories you can bring me in this new year.

And I wish the same for you ✨

From 2018…

Book recs:

1 – The Crown Ain’t Worth Much, Hanif Abdurraqib

2 – Mean, Myriam Gurba

3 – Refuse, Julian Randall

4 – Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado

Movie recs:

1 – A Star is Born

2 – The Favourite


1 – Golden Hour, Kacey Musgraves

2 – Dan + Shay (self-titled)

3 – Shawn Mendes (self-titled)

You are Most Important

This past Wednesday, October 10th, was World Mental Health Day. It happened to coincide nicely (so much sarcasm here) with the worst anxiety I’ve had in months, and so I’ve been thinking a lot about my mental health this week.

Some people may remember, but my freshman year of college was a really, really difficult transition period for me. I know that sounds dramatic on the surface, and that not everyone can relate, but the displacement and anxiety I felt about everything (e v e r y t h i n g) was new and seemed extreme. I learned what panic attacks felt like for me and how to recognize when my body is responding anxiously and what habits or patterns of thinking contributed to it. I am not here to say it was magically cured because I figured out how to pay attention to it or that it has just resurfaced suddenly; I’m constantly learning more about what makes me anxious and, lately, constantly feeling anxious.

But that’s not what I’ve wanted to share all week. What I want to share is something I realized after a particularly bad day of panic earlier this week:

I have to stick with decisions that I’ve already made with my best interests in mind.

For example, if I’ve decided that I’m going to do an assignment for a class a certain way because it’s my best stab at meeting the requirements in respect to what I can physically and mentally handle, even if it means ignoring a certain guideline, that’s just how that assignment is going to get done. Second-guessing myself and trying to change everything at the last minute to avoid a lesser grade or an annoyed professor cannot be my gut reaction before I turn things init’s just not that big of a deal.

I wrestle with that concept a lot because I am a rule follower. Unless I think a rule is really ridiculous, I’ll comply. Even then, I’ll sometimes follow it because that’s just the ideology I’ve been ingrained with. Following rules has gotten me good grades which led to being high school Valedictorian and receiving an academic scholarship to the college I really wanted to go to and all sorts of praise from teachers along the way. It’s obviously rewarded me, and sometimes even pushed me to do my best work. And so, old habits and all that.

Regardless, there are instanceslike in your senior year of college where you’re feeling tremendous stress to figure out the next steps of your life and you have a job you love that demands a lot of time, and so much homework, the thought of your to-do list physically knots your stomachwhen you have to prioritize.

Put yourself first. You are most important.

Ironically, I’m doing that now as I type this, taking a break from that stupid to-do list because this is what I feel like I need to be doing. Also ironically, I found myself sharing this advice with one of my closest friends just this morning. And I will keep telling myself:

Stick with decisions you’ve already made with your best interests in mind because folding to the expectations of others is not worth your wellbeing.

This doesn’t mean I’m just gonna b.s. my homework for the next semester and a half; frankly, I care too much for that. But it’s about knowing when I’m caring more about an A than how many hours of sleep I’m getting or whether or not I’ve done yoga in the last two weeks or any self-care that helps me manage my anxiety. Because so much more harm is done when I ignore it and pretend that everything is fine because I feel like it has to be, like I don’t have time to acknowledge the actual state of my mental health.

I have to make time. I hope you make time, too.


Summer Reflection

I begin my senior year of college tomorrow, and I’ve been reflecting a lot on how I want to answer friends, classmates, and professors who ask about my summer. I’ve had a hard time putting it into words because it feels like a long story, so I thought I’d tell it here.

I wrote a few posts already about figuring out what you can control and when you maybe need to step back from a situation. That’s because my summer was, well, kind of a mess.

It wasn’t bad; it feels messy simply because I can’t easily organize the events that unfolded or all the emotions I felt along the way. Looking back from this point, I am now able to see how things worked out for the best, even though the process felt like a roller coaster I didn’t choose to ride–though, technically, I did.

I decided to sublease an apartment because I really wanted to experience a Chicago summer. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to test out living in a new neighborhood and gaining professional experience without the obligation of school. I got a jumpstart applying to internships and jobs during Spring Break last semester and then went through a long process with a competitive internship. The process ended with my being asked to apply again next year. I was bummed, but I began applying again.

When I moved into my sublease in June without a job, I figured that it was only a matter of time before I heard good news from someone. I went to another internship interview and was actually offered the position, but it ended up being very, very different than what I thought I was signing on for. So I declined and applied for an open position at a place where one of my friends works.

It made all the difference to my summer that I was hired, however, I started working a lot later than I expected to. It’s frustrating when you’re completely available to dedicate your summer to work, and you’re trying your hardest to do so, and the circumstances are simply out of your control. What’s more, is that when things don’t go according to your plan, you start kicking yourself for not sticking to a safer plan. My plan was to enjoy a beautiful, city summer on nights and weekends while I worked hard during the day to save for the future. It wasn’t that simple.

But like I said, I got that job. I love it, I still have it, and now, I have another that I’m even more excited about. Being in Chicago actually allowed me to interview for it, and my summer of adjusting to going with the flow prepared me to figure out last-minute logistics. I somehow navigated moving out of my sublease, then into my dorm early, and going on a brief trip with my family to drop my brother off at college in between. Plus, during the weeks I spent earlier in the summer trying to figure things out, waiting for responses, I did make good memories with my friends, here in Chicago and at home. I actually spent a lot more time in my hometown than I had planned, which worked out well so that I saw JT  and my family a lot more than I thought I would.

I don’t have one big lesson I can chalk this summer up to, only a lot of little ones, mostly about myself. I think I’ll be unpacking my somewhat-erratic, but altogether positive experiences for months to come. Right now, what feels important is that I had the experiences at all and that they left me feeling open to whatever opportunities this school year is going to bring, whether or not they present themselves as neatly as I would like.

So, I think I’ll just say that my summer had a rocky start, but left me in a really, really good place.

Speak Up, Speak Now

There’s something that’s been weighing a lot heavier on my head and heart recently than I think it needs to, and I think that’s because I’m not talking about it. In a lot of ways, it feels trivial, or like talking about it will paint me as hopeless or victimizing myself, which is not what I want to do.

But I’ve gotta speak up, and speak now: I freaking love Taylor Alison Swift.

This isn’t news to most people. Everyone who knows me knows that. In high school, I was that “Taylor Swift girl.” I had the twitter fan account–in fact, I had two because I couldn’t keep her off my personal (or FB or insta). From the age of 10, I was not embarrassed to do things like write lyrics on my arms and upload photos to Facebook. There was an entire summer that I drew a heart on my foot every single day. I went years wearing my Speak Now bracelet every day, and I really believed Taylor was the best thing that had ever been mine (though of course she has always been shared).

I was quick to defend her, to serve people facts and educate them on her philanthropy. I gave several school presentations on her. I attended the Speak Now and Red tours with my mom while in high school, and had floor seats to 1989, the first show I planned to share with my boyfriend. We ended up being unable to attend, which I talked a bit about in my Rep tour post. It meant so much to me to spend my 21st birthday with her this year, especially with the guy I love–he makes the lyrics make sense in a way they didn’t before, but anyway..

A lot has happened in the last 11 years of looking up to Taylor. Her albums have gotten me through tough experiences and helped me celebrate the best moments of my life. I appreciate who she is as a person and who she is as a songwriter. I’ve gotten to watch her grow as an artist and individual while the art she’s created has affected my own growth. Her writing makes me think and inspires me to work on my own. I’ve gone from that small town girl who wanted to write to studying writing in my favorite city, filling the pages of a notebook with her face on it with my own words while working on cool, professional projects I’m really proud of.

That’s a connection that can’t be broken, and I’m one of the millions of lucky people who get to identify Taylor as a lifelong role model and friend–with or without meeting her.

However, meeting her is an especially huge thing right now, as she’s trying very hard to meet fans she hasn’t before. The process isn’t really explained, but the gist is that Taylor and her team try to find deserving fans based on their social media accounts and how hard they show up for her at her concerts. They get invited to secret events where they finally get to hug her, take a photo, and tell her how much she means to them.

This era has been full of thousands of people shouting their love and subsequently getting to meet her. And though my love for her feels very clear to me, I haven’t shouted it as loudly as I could have in the last several years.

I’ve made heartfelt posts when I was feeling it, but I’ve been quieter on social media. I can cite two reasons for this: the first is because I was afraid of annoying or upsetting others, and the second is because I was trying to allow myself to feel okay in knowing that my love for her was there whether or not I tweeted about it constantly.

I still think the second reason is a big mood. The internet fandom culture has always been bizarre to me, though I used to be a lot more involved/obsessed with being involved. Like real life, it can be so cliquey and based a lot on socioeconomic status and what I’m going to call extrovertedness (I just mean willingness to put yourself/your thoughts out there). Those parts of being a fan don’t come easily to me; I think friendships are hard to create and I can’t fathom being able to buy every single version of an album the minute it comes out. And posting every single Taylor-related thought that occurs to me just feels like too much. These aren’t excuses; I love the community around Taylor and everyone who seems to create content effortlessly. I just didn’t want stanning her to feel like my whole life. But there’s a difference between balancing your love for something and holding it inside.

Which brings me to the first reason–16 year old me should not have been bothered that I lost followers after tweeting with abandon during music award shows or album releases. Nineteen year-old me should’ve been okay with having a discussion with the girls in one of my science labs that were concerned about Taylor and appropriation. Because the biggest thing I can take away from my time of holding back, and maybe not feeling as connected with her, is that it’s okay to criticize the artists we love.

In real long-term relationships, you have discussions about things that bother you and it doesn’t diminish your feelings one bit. You acknowledge that people aren’t perfect. One of my pet peeves about fandoms is that it can seem like the artist can do no wrong, and that isn’t true. Artists are people, too. For example, I wish Taylor would be more outspoken politically, but I know where her heart is (and it just so happens to be the anniversary of her sexual assault trial).

Anyway, I’ve been overthinking my relationship with Taylor because of the current stress on meeting her. Recently, everyone (literally everyone!) I know IRL who also loves her has met her. Met her!! I don’t know the exact details of their experiences, but somehow they’re all shooting their shots and it’s paying off. That’s so beautiful for them, and instead of feeling bitter about that, I want to admit that I think I’ve been too timid to.

That stops today. I love Taylor Alison Swift, and I want everyone who knows me to know that because I want her to know that someday too.

Sometimes You Gotta “Gilmore Girls” It

Last week, I posted about being a funk and the 3 key things to focus on to try to get out of it. At the end of the post, I said that even after focusing on what you can control, sometimes you still have to just leave things to good, old-fashioned patience. You have to realize that if you’ve already done all you can do, you are still making things happen; you’ve set things in motion and now you gotta wait for the universe to put everything into place as it should be. I learned that for me anyway, to really step back and take that time, I have to be completely distracted. Like spontaneous mother-daughter road trip, completely “Gilmore Girls”-style-avoiding-responsibilities distracted.

So that’s what my mom and I did. Well, first, I spent a week at home helping with preparation for my little brother’s grad party, seeing family and friends, and just grounding myself. But then I made a forgetful mistake and missed the bus that was supposed to take me back to reality. My mom and I brainstormed solutions to get me back on track, except instead of simply getting me where I had planned to be, we spit-balled about making a quick weekend trip to see family we hadn’t seen in almost two years. It was something we’d been talking about doing, and luckily enough, my mistake gave us the perfect opportunity to move on this impulse. So we regrouped, packed, made arrangments for things to be okay in our absence, and we hit the road.

The hours spent in the car with my mom (and absolute best friend) and the hours spent sitting in living rooms, happily catching up with relatives while relaxing or eating (delicious) family meals have me reflecting on several things.

The first thing shouldn’t come as a surprise; sometimes you need to escape to for a clear head, but make it something you’ve been meaning to do. I’m so glad we took the time to see loved ones because there are few things that make your heart fuller than talking and laughing with people that want the best for you.

The second is closely related; it’s okay to let your family take care of you when you’re struggling to take the best care of yourself. Revel in the support you’re lucky to receive and remember to return the support when you can!

The third is how important it is to stay. To relax, to find peace, to nest. It’s ironic that I learned this on our Lorelai-esque trip, but while allowing myself to sit still instead of fretting over what I could be doing or what I was afraid of, I felt so much better. I remembered how to just be (and that’s important when you’re at the point in your process where that’s all you can do).

Fourth–arguably most important–is a reminder that there are very few things in life that can’t be solved by hours of heart-to-heart talking with your momma.

Fifth and final reflection today: once you’re rested, good things will come, and you’ll be ready to meet them. On the last night of our trip, I found out that I got the job I’ve been waiting to hear about. Now, I am back to reality, and feeling much better than when I was trying to force myself to face things I wasn’t quite ready to (and that weren’t quite ready for me yet).

Things You Can Control

We all face times when life isn’t going as planned. I’ve recently felt stuck, and let me tell you, I am not one who enjoys waiting or the unknown. When things aren’t going my way, my first instincts are impatience and over-analyzation. I’ve had to acknowledge that these negative emotions don’t help anything. Instead, they put you even further into a funk, making it hard to see that your situation is only temporary. And more importantly, there are still things you can control, even when it feels like everything else is out of your control.

The three key things you can still control:

1. Yourself (physically)

I’m not about to tell you to diet or hit the gym every day–unless that’s what you do to clear your head and heart. For me, that does include yoga and my own version of meditation. What I’m trying to say is that I think the first thing to realize when you feel unsure of everything is that you can feel sure about yourself. You can connect your body and your breath through yoga (or cardio or strength training or running, whatever happens to be your thing), reminding yourself that you’re physically and mentally strong. You can be confident that you look great by wearing your favorite outfit and taking a bunch of photos. You can wear a full face of makeup, or wear no makeup and do a face mask–just do what you’ve got to do to smile at the mirror and acknowledge that you’re still taking care of yourself.

2. Your Space

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Whether you’re consciously frustrated from clutter or emptiness, or it’s something that’s always been further down your to-do list, take charge of your space. Tidy. Decorate. And if it still feels off, maybe it has more to do with the place itself. Evaluate where you really need to be, physically or geographically, while you’re going through your funk. If you need time alone, go to your favorite solitary spot, like your local cafe or library. If you need comfort and support, go to a place filled with friends or family. I recently decided to spend some time in my hometown to feel grounded and give my current situation some time.

3. Your Time

Your most valuable resource to give–your time–is still completely under your control! And if you’re in a place in life you don’t want to be, choose to use your time for yourself. Make priorities. Is there something you feel you need to do to reach a goal and get out of your funk? Do it. Seize opportunities. Be purposeful in working towards making the changes you need to get out of your rut and turn your dreams into reality.

And that may just mean repeating these steps until all that’s left to do is step back and exercise some patience–or so I’m learning.