The Kitchen Sink

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Certain scents and fragrances always trigger a special remembrance–of a person, an occasion or a time in our lives. When I smell green Palmolive dish soap, I am always struck by a wave of memories of my Mema’s house. My great-grandmother lived in a little house with a dirt basement and a beautiful rock garden across the street from my great-uncle’s greenhouses. My cousins, my sister and I spent hours together sitting with her and doing puzzles on her board by the window, playing dominoes with the old stone set she only took out sometimes, watching Jeopardy nightly, and playing game after game of cards.

When we weren’t too busy playing, we were eating meals together in a dining room covered from floor to ceiling with ornamental tiles that Mema had received as gifts. They had proverbs or just pretty scenes from places people had visited. After dinner, the kids would always have dish duty, which was really fun (even if we’d never admit it).

We’d use too much soap, look out the window over the sink, and end up sopping wet and giggling after bubble fights or getting a little too aggressive with the rinsing. Now, when I get a whiff of that detergent, it brings me back to those moments playing with my cousins in the kitchen sink.

Image by Tasha Lutek.

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If You Have 2 Minutes…Reorganize Your Apps

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I am the type of person who is always downloading new apps. A friend mentions one they like and I have to have it. There’s an interesting-sounding free download, so I figure why not try it out? But the last time I’ve deleted or reordered apps from the default place they had appeared? It had been a while.

There were several apps I used nearly every morning (Timehop and Yes! Daily I’m looking at you) that were languishing all the way on my fourth page. That’s a lot of left and right swiping to get back and forth between the pages. There were others that I couldn’t even remember what they do.

So if you have a few spare minutes, take some time to move around those little icons so the ones you use are up first. Just get rid of the ones you haven’t opened in a while. And go ahead and move those sometimes ones to the back of the list.

It will make your days easier, and more efficient. Then next time you’re taking a video, you won’t have to be worried about running out of space.

Image by Sean MacEntee.

Notes to a Younger Me

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A while back, some of my favorite bloggers started a series called notes to my younger self, in which their older-wiser-selves gave advice to their younger-I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing-teen. It got me thinking about things I would tell 18 year old me. Probably this:

You’ve always had a pretty solid outline of your life in mind–not the specifics, but the bare bones plan. You’ll go to college either waaaayy out in the country where you can ride horses every day and pledge in a sorority, or in the middle of the hustle bustle – a big city like nowhere you’ve ever lived before. When you’re there, you’ll make all the best friends, teach them a thing or two about how to party, and meet your wonderful future husband, though you’ll wait a bit to actually tie the knot. You even checked to make sure the schools you’re applying to have the types of guys you’re interested in. After you graduate, you’ll find a job in publishing that pays plenty to get by on, since you’re shiny, new and college educated. Who wouldn’t want to hire you? You’ll go on to lead a fabulous life.

Well, sweet pea, I hate to be the one to break this to you, but things aren’t going to turn out just like that. But don’t panic, things won’t work out anything like you planned, but you’ll end up being pretty darn happy most of the time despite it all. And that part about it being a fabulous life? Well, that part was spot on.

Maybe Don’t Sign Up for More Loans

Let’s be real here, you don’t have any idea what amount of money that sum on a paper really means, or how many hundreds of payments that will break out into once you have to start paying it back. Take some time to think about if the benefit you’ll get will balance out the cost in the long run. It might be nice to not be saddled with that debt.

Just Go Ahead and Sign Up for the Peace Corps

Yes, I know, 2 years seems like an almost-eternity right now, but darling, you’re graduating in the beginning of a recession. You’re not going to get a professional job that reflects your educational level for quite some time anyhow, and volunteering to make the world a better place would be time better spent than serving people mimosas at brunch, no? Just do it.

Stop Panicking About Being Poor

You’re actually pretty good at it. You can make lentil soup for days, and truly enjoy all the free things the city has to offer. Trader Joe’s doesn’t make $3 wine for nothing. You also have some generous friends who aren’t poor. Your late 20’s are for feeling rich, having more than $50 in your bank account, and honey, you’ll appreciate the money so much more once you’ve lived without it. And that will make you pretty successful at saving it once you’ve got it.

Make a Plan Already

One day, all of your friends and coworkers will make fun of you for being their little planner who picks every restaurant, chooses every night out, and organizes group vacations. Can you believe it? Try doing a little of that in your own life. Sometimes all it takes to get what you want is to ask for it. Get clear on what that is, sooner rather than later.

Exercise Isn’t Overrated/Stop Eating So Much Taco Bell

I mean, if we can learn one thing (besides the whole substance abuse thing) from Nicole Richie, it’s this: Lay off the taco bell already, amirite? I know it’s delicious, and it’s the only thing that’s open late in your small town, but those midnight quesadillas aren’t doing any favors for your figure.

The time you spend hiking, on the elliptical, or in boot camp class will cheer you up AND help burn off those 5 frozen margaritas you just housed before they turn into a serious front butt.

Stop Being So Damn Impatient

The timelines we create in our minds for when we should have certain things (jobs, money, apartments, husbands), are usually pretty skewed and unrealistic. When you’re feeling frustrated that you don’t have what you want, just remember it will probably take double the time you thought it would, and that’s just fine. You’re just being impatient anyways.

And now, after all this advice, spoiler alert: You’ll get that job you’ve wanted. You’ll move downtown. It won’t be what you thought it would, but it’ll be pretty darn great.

What I’m Listening To

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I was never really one to listen to podcasts. My friends would talk about how much then enjoyed them, and I just…well, couldn’t really get into them. Then Serial came along, and like the rest of the world, I was hooked after my first episode. In between airings, I suddenly NEEDED something to occupy my listening time besides music. I was also doubling the distance I ran, and wanted a little more engaging entertainment than just workout playlists to get me through the long runs.

Much like when I first got my iPhone and I asked everyone I met which apps they had, I started quizzing friends, strangers, coworkers about what podcasts they listened to. After some trial and error, I had built up a fairly solid lineup for myself. And here are the ones I subscribe to:

If you haven’t start to already, get out there and start listening. I can’t recommend these highly enough.

Would It Make a Good Wedding Toast?

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As any one who has lived in NYC will tell you, dating here is a unique experience. For every million people that live in a place, the weirdo quotient goes up a notch (or 5). There are weird rules for getting together here, that are tricky to navigate, and often tough to understand.

Anywhere else in the country, you meet someone, you like them, you date for a few weeks, and it’s mutually assumed that you’re together (or so I’ve heard). Not so in NYC. When you date here, you’re a free agent until explicitly told otherwise, which can be a delicate balance to manage in new relationships. Do I keep dating other people? When should I inactivate my Tinder profile?

The endless choices available make it easier to write someone off because you know you have a million more options, or act like a total weirdo because you know that if you don’t want to, you actually never have to see them again. It’s not like you’ll be bumping into them at the one grocery store in town.

So, I’ve found myself giving people an extra chance, just to make sure I’m not letting the 5 other guys messaging me online make me think there is always something better. Or, I put up with something I normally wouldn’t because we haven’t really defined things yet.

Then, I was preparing for my best friend’s wedding, and writing my toast to the new husband and wife. It was so easy to put together, it came to me one morning on the treadmill. Their romance was so sweet, it was just narrowing down the moments I wanted to talk about. And I realized – nothing about the guy I was seeing would sound good in a wedding toast.

So next time I found myself wondering, is this the right guy? Should I move on? I use this simple barometer. If things work out, five years down the line. Would our story be easy to tell with a glass of champagne in our hands, and our hearts full of love?

If the answer is no, it’s probably time to move on.

Be Happier, Live Longer

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If you’re reading this blog because you like to look on the bright side of crappy situations too, then you’re about to get some good news. A new study found that people who see the glass as half full just might live longer. How? People who stay calm in bad situations, or see the rainbow after the rain have lower levels of inflammation in their bodies. Higher inflammation is connected with life-threatening diseases including diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

The research evaluated 800 adults with daily interviews about stress and how they reacted, and compared their responses to blood samples that measured inflammation. People who had a negative response to day-to-day pressures had elevated inflammation levels.

This all led the scientists to conclude that a sunny outlook can give health and well being a boost. Just another reason to stay positive next time a gray cloud is headed your way.

Image by Susanne Nilsson.