Loading Yourself with Unreasonable Goals

This week I decided that I would get back into writing some posts for my blog. I hadn’t been on the site in a while, and when I logged onto it Monday morning, I found that I hadn’t posted anything since the end of December. I was shocked, and disappointed in myself. Then I took a step back and really thought about why I’ve gotten so behind. It’s not that I don’t have blogs ready to post, because I do even though I haven’t written any in a while. It’s more that I’ve been putting unreasonable goals onto myself.

Probably the best perk about working in publishing is access to books before publication. We get to read them far in advance, which, for someone (me) who has little patience when it comes to waiting for a book to come out (or waiting in general), is amazing. We jump on manuscripts as soon as they come in, compromising our preferred methods of reading (print over digital), and sometimes sleep, just to finally have it in our hands and be able to turn the pages. In the hallowed halls, we read and then rush over to our colleagues to either excitedly or upsetly discuss how much we loved or hated our newest conquest. The main characters’ joy become our joys, their fears our fears, their adventures our own. We are invested in these books: they are our world.

There is a downside to this as well though. For as excited as we get, we can only really talk about them amongst our colleagues: the outside world cannot share in our joy until the publication date. And by the time they are falling head-over-heals, as much as we’re bursting to share our thoughts with them, we’ve also already advanced to multiple favorites (hopefully) beyond them.

A second downside to this is my thinking that I need to blog about every single book that I read. Sometimes I’ll love a book and then try to force myself to write a review only to ditch it part of the way through (or all of the way) because I can’t figure out how to end it, or I don’t feel that it was written well enough. I found myself feeling like it was more of a chore than actually enjoying the process; I had lost the meaning of why I started this blog in the first place – which was because I love to write and share my thoughts. I don’t have to write about every single book I read, because let’s face it, I’m literally always reading. And that’s okay. We all have goals that we want to achieve, and that’s great, but, we have to be willing to admit when they’re unreasonable and need tweaking. For me. That’s this blog. So, with that being said, I’m going to give myself a break, breathe, and just have fun with this again. After all, we can all stand to treat ourselves a bit better at times.

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Approaching Autum With a New State of Mind

Two weeks ago, on the first of September, I met a new friend for a drink after work. We had a great time talking and catching up, but when I went to catch my bus, it wasn’t there. By the time I got home, it was later than I had planned, and I was more than slightly irritated with the MTA. It was putting a damper on my otherwise fun-filled evening, and the minute that I realized what I was doing, I decided to intentionally push the negative thoughts out of my head and only hold on to the positive.

At the time, I was finishing Karine Tuil’s The Age of Reinvention (pubbing in December by Atria Books), which has been described as a modern Gatsby. And, like Gatsby, all of the main protagonists are either living in a lie or unhappy with their current lives…all waiting for the perfect life to just spring up from out of nowhere. It was towards the end of the novel – when one character had gotten his dream come true but was still wallowing in despair over something he didn’t have – that it clicked. Wouldn’t he be in a better place if he could just be happy? Happiness, after all, is just a state of mind. And it’s something that only you, yourself can control.

I started thinking about my own life. My own insecurities. Things that I want to change, people who are now strangers, the fact that my bus didn’t show up that night…just all of the negative things that swarm around in my head. And then I started thinking about the positive things. Working in book publishing, my family and friends, the upcoming trip that I’m taking next year, Shadowbox, etc. I decided that I no longer want to be dragged down by negative thoughts, and that from that day on, I would only dwell on the positive. Only stay in the present. Not that I will never have another negative thought, because that cannot be helped, but that I won’t let those negative thoughts consume me. I’ll let them enter my mind, and then let them go.

The moment that I made this decision, I felt instantly lighter. That, by letting go of the negativity, I could just be myself and really live. I didn’t feel the need to hold back and wait, which is what we do a lot of the time. We wait to fall in love, to get the perfect job, to have enough money in our bank accounts. We wait for everything to work itself out and be perfect, but life doesn’t work that way and we forget. We forget that uncertainty is part of life. That, more often than not, we don’t know what’s going to happen. Sure, it can be scary, but the beauty in life is the unknown. There’s no point dwelling on what could have been or what could be, when life is right in front of you. Right now. Waiting, for you to live it.

Autumn may not be here yet, but it’s coming sooner than you think. So, in the last week of summer, before the change of seasons, take the time to erase the negative thoughts and just enjoy life. Be present in the moment. You won’t regret it.

View from the pier after an afternoon of sunning with my uncle, August 2015
View from the pier after an afternoon of sunning with my uncle, August 2015

Box-it-out

For the past few months – or really, since its opening week back in May – I have been obsessed with Shadowbox.  For those of you who haven’t heard of it, it’s a gym grouped with the likes of Soul Cycle, Swerve, and Barry’s Bootcamp, where people flock to get a hardcore workout, which, at Shadowbox, includes hitting the heavy bag.  Boxing as a workout for non-athletes, dare I say? Yes!

First, let me let you in on a little secret.  In another life, I was a trained boxer.  Ok, that’s not entirely accurate, although wouldn’t it be cool if that was in fact true?  The short version is that, about ten years ago, my then boyfriend had connections to a martial arts school.  I, who had never taken a martial arts class in my life, signed up immediately for both kickboxing and Thai boxing classes.  I may not have been the best in the class, but it was an amazing workout, and, as a person who frequently gets bored at the gym, always something that I wanted to get back into.  So, when I found an article about its opening on Vogue.com, I naturally went to check it out.  Fell instantly in love.  Then persuaded my friend to join.

A far cry from the gyms that I have recently belonged to, when you walk into the dimly lit studio at Shadowbox, you feel as if time has stopped.  There are 40 numbered heavy bags hanging from the ceiling.  The music, which varies with each instructor, is full of energy and intensity.  The classes, only 45 minutes long, are a combination of interval training, shadow boxing, and heavy bag work, that will leave you drenched in sweat, gasping for breath, and so exhausted that you are barely able to pick yourself off of the floor.  But, it’s the best.  Workout.  Ever.

With boxing taking to the forefront recently (and a second Shadowbox location opening in Dumbo early next year), this is not something that you want to miss out on.  Checkout their website!  Shadowboxnyc.com

August 2015 @ Shadowbox
August 2015 @ Shadowbox

The Summer is Fleeting

Every year around this time, I start to get bored of the summer and wish for the return of autumn.  My favorite season.  Longing for the slightly cooler days and crisp evenings, the crunching of leaves beneath my feet, the calming brown and orange hues produced by nature, and of course, the leather jacket and boots that I can finally take out of my closet again.  The tranquility of the summer is still there, but there’s a hint of something more, something hurried.

I’m not sure when I first realized my love for autumn.  There was a time when I would have said that summer was my favorite season, but I don’t think that was ever really true.  There are great things about the summer, but all of those things carry through into autumn.

Interestingly, I’m not in such a hurry to see summer go this year.  Maybe I’ll revert to my old way of thinking after the temperature spikes this weekend, but I think it’s more a state-of-mind than anything else.  This has been a summer of beginning new friendships and ending old ones, of exciting possibilities and a few disappointments, but most importantly, it has been a summer of growing and learning new facets about myself.  And I wouldn’t change any of that.

As the summer draws to a close, it reminds me to take life’s paths a bit more slowly, to not be in such a rush.  That the choices we make constantly have the ability to bring us somewhere we’ve never been, with people we never knew that we’d meet.

While the days are still hot, take that opportunity to visit the beach again.  Take a walk on the sand.  Dip your toes in the surf.  Plunge into the ocean.  Live life in the present, because nothing in this world is a guarantee except this moment, right now.

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Montauk, NY – summer 2015

No Regrets

Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine about the difficulties people have opening up and letting others in, in the context of saying what’s on your mind, making your feelings known…expressing yourself.  It’s a conversation that I seem to be having a lot lately, and it got me thinking about how we often let our fears and insecurities dictate our lives.  In what felt like a scene out of a movie, John Mayer’s “Say” started playing in the background as we were talking.

Say what you need to say

Say what you need to say

Say what you need to say

Say what you need to say

In my tight-knit circle, it is known that I have no problem saying exactly how I’m feeling about a situation.  It’s a trait that is often admired, although I don’t know if it deserves the praise.  It sort of goes hand-in-hand with my penchant for the truth.  Ever since I was sixteen, honesty has been extremely important to me.  As such, I have vowed to always be honest with the people that I care about, no matter what.  If I feel that I would regret not saying something – no matter how hard that something might be – I say it, because there are so few things in life that we can actually control, and I don’t want to live my life thinking what if I had done this…because I know myself, and that’s exactly what I would do.

It’s not about being stronger versus weaker, and I think a lot of people don’t realize that.  They think that they are weak because they have a hard time sharing their feelings and feel that people like me are fearless.  But they’re wrong.  I’m just as scared, only I choose to live through the fear as opposed to living in it.  More often than not, I’m terrified to share my innermost thoughts, to give someone else the power to break me, but I don’t allow that fear to get in the way of something that I know needs to be said.  You can live in fear every day, but that will only do more harm than good, and it certainly won’t help you to move on or grow.

Have no fear for giving in

Have no fear for giving over

You’d better know that in the end

It’s better to say too much

Then never say what you need to say again

Follow Your Dreams

Life has a funny way of working out when you least expect it. Someone just told me that the other day, but it’s something that I’ve heard my entire life. And, were it not for the fact that one of my dreams came true a few months ago, I wouldn’t believe it.

Yesterday morning, I was on my way to work, reading an advanced copy of Jill Alexander Essbaum’s debut novel Hausfrau (German for housewife), and I came across a passage that stuck out. “What is the purpose of pain?…It’s instructive. It warns of impending events. Pain precedes change. It is a tool.” There are clichés that we always tell ourselves during difficult periods in our lives, but I’d never seen it written in such a way before. It was as if a veil had been lifted and I could really see the truth in the words. After reading that passage a second time, I took a moment to reflect upon my life, the recent devastations as well as recent achievements. Pain really does precede change. It doesn’t always happen right away – because, let’s face it, the greatest changes come along gradually – but it happens. And it’s always positive.

Three months ago, after yet another difficult period in my life, a dream of mine came true. Not just any dream, a HUGE dream. One that I had longed years for. When I was a child, my first love was reading. I simply loved books and all that they entailed, but it wasn’t until I was in college that I realized I could actually have a career in the book-world without being a writer. It took over seven years, but not only did I get a job in book publishing, I’m working in the imprint that I fell in love with two years ago.

Dreams do come true, but sometimes, in order for that to happen, you need to make an effort. In the seven-plus-years that it took for me, I tried and failed more times than I want to count. There were times where I felt that my goal was impossible and wanted to give up…but I didn’t. And I’m glad I didn’t.

NEVER give up on your dreams. Because, one day they will come true, and the reality of that will make you happier than anything else ever could.

Finding Beauty in Our Scars

While looking at pictures from this past weekend, I finally figured out what was different about myself, what I no longer recognized. Throughout my life, one of my favorite parts of my body – despite having scoliosis – was my back. I loved the beauty marks that adorned it, especially one in particular. There’s a photograph of me taken at a charity event three years ago. In it, I’m wearing a backless Chanel dress, my head turned over my shoulder so you can see the dress in all its resplendent. My skin is glowing from a recent trip to the beach, and I’m confident, happy and carefree. That night didn’t turn out the way I had expected. I remember being stood up and leaving the event later (earlier?) than I had intended, but at that moment I felt beautiful.

Early last year, after a trip to the dermatologist office where they removed my beloved beauty mark for a biopsy, the results were not good. Not only had it been a necessity to get the biopsy, but it became a life and death matter to have the rest of it removed completely. The beauty mark that I had had all of my life had turned on me. Not only was it cancer, but it was the most dangerous kind. Me, the girl who, at twenty-eight (nearly twenty-nine) had never broken a bone, never had stitches, never had a cavity, was about to experience one of those three (more than once), immediately scheduling surgery for the following day. After excruciating pain, a frustratingly slow recovery and many trips to the dermatologist office since, my body has never been the same.

In place of my beauty mark is a two-plus-inch long scar, and this past weekend was the first time that I had a picture taken of me showing off my back since the surgery. It’s not that it was hard to look at the scar, as I’ve been acquainted with it for over a year now, but it was more that the absence of the beauty mark made my back look foreign, as if it belonged to a different person entirely.

In some ways, my scar does belong to someone else. I’m not the same person that I was three years ago or even fifteen months ago. Things have happened in my life that have changed me, as it does all of us. Some scars – like the one on my back – we can see, while others are less visible but can still cause us the same amount of pain or greater. It is the culmination of all of those scars that make us who we are today. Without them, we would be lost in a sea. So, the next time you think that your scars are ugly, remember the opposite. Our scars are beautiful because they remind us that we are alive and show us our hidden strengths, that if we can overcome that, we can get through anything.

Our scars are beautiful; they are unique, as we all are.

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Inspiration From Your Adolescence

I don’t know what possessed me to do this, but recently, I paid homage to my youth by re-watching all six season of Dawson’s Creek. It was one of my favorite shows back in the day, and to be frank, still kind of is. One of the things that I really love about this show, is how profound it is. There will be scenes with all of this amazing dialogue that you can really take with you and use in your own life, dialogue that can change your whole way of thinking about a situation. I realize that this is also a reason why people criticized the show, that the dialogue is not how anyone speaks in real life and that it took away from the genuinity about it. In some ways, they are half true. The speech that is used, especially in the earlier seasons is a bit unrealistic, and I could see how that could confuse some people, or send others running for the dictionary, but why does that have to be a bad thing and take away the meaning of the show? If the words have the ability to change your life, I think that is a good thing.

I remember watching this show as a teenager and feeling comforted but not completely understanding why. Growing up, my home-life was not great, and I used the show as an escape, imagining myself being there, kind of like what I always did (and still do) with books. After re-watching the series, I realized that Dawson’s Creek was so much more than a get-a-way: if you let it, it actually has the power to enlighten and inspire you…as an adolescent and as an adult. It touches deep into your core, saying the things that you’re either too afraid to hear, or too afraid to say. And, although I couldn’t quite appreciate its greatness back then, I have no doubt in my mind that, on some level, I knew it was special. Dawson always said that he believed that you could find the answers to all of life’s questions in a movie. I’m not sure if that is really true, but, I think that this show succeeds in doing that in some ways.

As I was watching, I joked to Melissa that in some ways it felt like a therapy session; full of advice that (seemed) catered towards me. And, I think that, if given a chance, it can do the same thing for anyone regardless of your age. It’s one of those shows that can transcend the generation gap. The quote below is truly amazing.

“There are people in my life who are gone now. People I miss very much, and people who I am haunted by in different ways. But whether we’re separated by death or merely distance, I know that they’re still with me because I keep them in my heart. The truth is, in time, that’s all we’re going to be to each other anyway, this population of memories…some wonderful and endearing, some less so. But taken together, these memories help make us who we are and who we will be.”

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Pieces of Ourselves

I was talking with Melissa this morning and she told me about a dream that she had last night, a vision, of a specific moment with an old love, one who she has never been able to fully forget. Her description was so vivid that I could imagine myself being there, so vivid that, in the moment, she felt as though she was there again. When she opened her eyes, she felt an intense ache in her heart, a longing that she hadn’t felt in a while. I told her that I knew exactly what she was talking about and how she felt because the same thing happened to me a few days earlier. She asked me, “How does it feel so real?? How come we can’t remember happy moments like that…”

I thought about her question for a moment, then answered with this: It feels so real because it was, because we still love/miss that person so much. Because the memories that bring us to tears have a more profound effect on us than ones that make us smile.

As much as we live for those moments of happiness, they don’t affect us nearly as much as the devastating ones when remembered. Happiness is what we strive for; it’s the ideal, yet, it is pain, we are told, that gives us strength and makes us grow. But really, why is this? Could it just be that we can remember loss more than love because that is what we’ve grown up hearing? Couldn’t we grow just as much through love as through loss? Honestly, I think it is more a matter of changing your perspective, because of course we can and we do. But those memories that Melissa had, that I’ve had, that we all have had, they will always haunt us not only because of the people that we were with then, but even more so because of the person that we were at that moment…a piece of ourselves that we can never get back.

To Friendship, Old & New – Your Anchors

There’s something about being around friends who have known you since your adolescent days, even if you only see each other every month or so. These lifelong friends understand you like no other because they’ve experienced more with you than most would ever be able to fully understand. They’ve talked you off a ledge more times than you can count, stayed up nights in endless phone conversations and know when you do and don’t want to talk about whatever is bothering you. They might not know your day-to-day activities, but they know your core, and that’s something that will never change.

Then, there are your new friends, those that know your past only from what you’ve told them, but that experience your present with you. Even if it’s something as silly as walking in the opposite direction of where you’re headed to get late-afternoon lattes, or stopping by just to hand you a plate of food because you didn’t end up making it over for dinner the night before. Someone who texts you good morning and goodnight, and every minute in-between, because you can’t bear not speaking.

This weekend, I had the pleasure of hanging out with a good cross section of these such friends, from some of the oldest bonding over music (New Beard, look them up seriously, my friends are awesome), grilled cheese and memories, to the newest, late afternoon shopping/dinner, to others equally as important. I may not see everyone that I care about due to busy schedules or the mere fact that they have slipped away for the time being, but, if I’ve learned anything, it’s that these things are often temporary, and your true friends, the ones who can look into your eyes and see your sole, will always come back to you. They are your anchors.

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