Long Weekend Plan

Emerson

My plan is to do as much of this as possible in the last unofficial three days of summer. You?

Image by Joshua Ommen

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What Story Are You Telling Yourself?

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I was listening to a podcast the other morning (As friends of mine know, I start sentences like that a lot.). This particular one was about not, “interviewing your child for pain.” Basically, it was saying if you only ask a loved one questions about what went wrong on Tuesday, or call up your friend to see what terrible thing her ex has done now, you’re putting all of your attention on the bad stuff in life (and that’s not good!).

It struck a chord with me.

I can think of hundreds of times when I’ve been at bitchfests with friends where everyone is trashing a certain thing or event or celebrity. Isn’t that what a lot of work happy hours are all about? Complaining as a unit really brings a group together.

And I’ve noticed that when I’m telling stories about dates gone horribly awry, they garner much more attention than when I am describing the really sweet moment when a date was hopping around imitating my favorite Instagram bunny.

It made me think.

If we’re spending so much more time talking about the bad stuff, does it really impact the way we feel? Michael Thompson and Catherine O’Neill Grace say Yes. “We live the story we tell ourselves – and others – about the life we’re leading.”

If that’s the case, don’t we want it to be a happy story? Shouldn’t we be spending more time noticing and talking about the little moments of brightness and joy we encounter in our days?

Then I read an article in the September issue of Marie Claire about a clinical trial to treat PTSD that is using MDMA (the chemical behind ecstasy and ‘Molly’) as a therapy drug. The piece described how it was having success because it let people access old, traumatic memories and reimagine them, interact with them, and put them back away with a different spin. It allowed them to heal and change a moment that already happened to them by changing the way they remembered it.

Studies show that we are hard wired to remember negative events – insults – for longer, and more intensely than our bodies respond to good events. Researchers say it’s due to the chemicals our bodies produce. Cortisol, the stress hormone, sticks around for longer and has a more dramatic impact than oxytocin, our feel-good hormone, that metabolizes more quickly.

If we’re constantly interviewing our friends and family about their heart ache, their bad days, soon they could begin to believe that’s all there is. Be empathetic, and by all means, be there for people who need you, but in day to day life, if we’re defined by what we focus in on, and our memories are changed by examining them in a different light, don’t you want to make sure you’re telling yourself a happy story?

Image by Mark Wathieu

Links!

links

Here’s what I’ve been reading on the internet lately.

Phew! For everyone freaking out about turning 30 this year, you’re still in the ideal age range to get married.

So true (especially can openers!) Lefty Struggles.

I think this is a pretty genius idea to get food that is normally wasted to people who need it. Let’s follow Spain’s lead!

Summer may be ending, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop listening to the President’s Summer Playlists!

The only thing cuter than a baby panda is a baby panda sleeping in a basket.

Lisa Frank, the early years.

A great way a lot of people haven’t thought of to Stand with Planned Parenthood.

Team Idris.

10 daily habits of exceptionally happy people.

Brooke from One Tree Hill (as she will perpetually be known in my memory) shares her secrets to a happy life.

The Best Pizza in NYC

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Ever since I visited Chicago this summer, I have found myself having many favorite-type-of-pizza conversations. It’s a topic that New Yorker’s never get tired of talking about, and everyone has lots of opinions about where to get the best slice. After careful consideration, when people ask me if I liked Chicago pizza better than NYC (it’s delicious, but no), and what’s my number one place, here’s what I say. With this many yummy options to choose from, you can’t pick just one.

*Warning: If you haven’t eaten lunch yet, you should probably stop reading here.

Favorite Everyday Slice: Muzzarella’s

No one is going to travel very far when they are craving a slice while sitting on their couch watching TV. The best spot in my neighborhood is my number one for a few reasons – 1. They deliver slices 2. Their cheese slices is on point, along with their white and lasagna. The basics are reliably tasty.

Favorite Special Slice: Artichoke

While 99.9% of the time, I get the artichoke slice because it is a small piece of cheesy oozy heaven, their crab and margarita slices are delicious in their own right. If you’ve got the time, and stomach space – sit down and order a fresh pie and have a drink, it’s even better when you’re not standing, scarfing down your slice in the tiny area outside.

Favorite Neopolitan: Motorino

Do yourself a favor and order the Brussels sprout pie with smoked pancetta. Or if that’s too exotic, the cremini mushroom. You won’t be sorry.

Favorite Sicilian: South Brooklyn Pizza

I am still devastated that their East Village location closed. Their pies are expensive, starting at $25 before you even add all your favorite toppings, but they are so, so worth every single dollar. Their dough is outstanding. You won’t leave even the smallest bite of crust behind.

Favorite Wood-Fired Pie: Zero Otto Nove

I visit this standby when I am in the Bronx at my alma mater, Fordham. Don’t even bother reading the menu, just order La Cirilo for the table as an appetizer as soon as you sit down. You’ll be the hero of dinner once everyone tastes the sweet-savory butternut squash and truffle oil combination.

Favorite All-Around Best Pizza: Juliana’s

If this place was more conveniently located to where I live and work, I am pretty sure I would eat it once a week. If you’re looking for the best pizza in NYC, this one gets my vote. I’m generally not a huge fan of waiting  in line for food, but in this case, it’s worth the wait. Just TRY not to eat at least 3 slices (spoiler alert: you won’t be able to do it. It’s so good, you just can’t stop after two).

Image by British Mum

25 Things

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You might not know about me…

1. I am often awake between the hours of 3 and 6 am, and get a lot of random things accomplished…like writing this, and reorganizing my closet.

2. I have a weakness for anything with a cute furry little animal on it.

3. I LOVE to decorate for holidays and make holiday greeting cards, especially Christmas.

4. I am still terrified by the movie Scream, and Scream 2. I CANNOT believe they are making another one.

5. I’m strangely good at crossword and jigsaw puzzles.

6. I’m not going to lie, I still have a lot of trouble picking out my outfit without an opinion (often via a text photo).

7. I’m working on writing a novel.

8. But if I could do anything, I would definitely be a fashion designer.

9. I love doing crafts, and have an entire box full of different colored jelly pens, glitter and googly eyes.

10. I regularly try to win the lottery, and actually think that I might every time I buy a ticket.

11. Pessimists really get on my nerves.

12. I don’t feel like myself without regular doses of my girlfriends from home, who have all been a wonderful part of my life since elementary school, and I don’t know what I would ever do without them.

13. I believe that everyone has multiple people/soulmates they are destined to meet and have in their lives forever.

14. There is nothing better than laughing until your face/abs hurt.

15. I’m slightly addicted to watching music videos and anything on mtv/bravo.

16. My top 5 favorite places I’ve been are: 1.Rome 2. Berlin 3. Costa Rica 4. Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and 5. Paris. Bolivia is up there too. And I feel really lucky to have been able to visit so many places already. Next on my list to visit is Bali and Iceland.

17. I (not-so) secretly dream of designing my own neighborhood called Janny Panny lane that only my friends and family would be allowed to live in.

18. Getting new nail polish color makes me pretty happy.

19. My sister is my best friend.

20. If I wasn’t concerned for my health, I’d cook like an old southern woman, with lots of mayonnaise and butter.

21. If I could only drink one alcoholic beverage for the rest of my life, it would definitely be champagne……or twisted tea-lol. If I could only eat one kind of food it would definitely be mexican.

22. I’m really ridiculously scared of cockroaches to the point that once I strategically baked cupcakes when the exterminator was coming so he would put extra poison in my apartment.

23. I’m still really really bad at driving in reverse, and actually think that some people just lack the ability to do it. (like me)

24. I have big dreams of learning to hula hoop dance.

25. I think that people who have never been swimming in a lake/river/waterfall or gone canoeing are seriously deprived in life.

Image by Yellow Button Studio

Today is Going to Be a Great Day

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I have this awesome calendar that brightens my morning every day. It’s called Today is Going to Be a Great Day, and it’s full of gorgeous artwork like this one by Jill De Haan. Pretty, with an inspirational quote, and the best part is they have the artist’s name and site on the back so you can go to the site and purchase that page that caught your eye. And if you’re not really the tearaway-a-day type, they have the pages in book form: Think Happy, Be Happy.

Image by Jill De Haan

How What We Read/Watch Affects Happiness

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We all spend a lot of time reading and watching things on screens these days. There are health problems from it (you’ve heard of “tech neck,” right?), and marathoning has become a couch sport – not just a long race for athletic types. Now, a new study by Civic Science (that I read about in the September issue of Women’s Health mag) reveals that what we choose to spend time scrolling through can predict whether we’re happy or sad.

On Social Media

People who spent time creating and pinning to boards on Pinterest fared the best, because it’s a platform that encourages creative expression. It’s less about getting validation or approval from others, and more about fulfilling your artistic (or cooking or decorating) impulses, which is more pleasurable.

On the Big Screen

Whether you’re watching oldie-but-goodies on Netflix, or catching the latest blockbuster at the multiplex, those who chose dramas were happier, while people who took in horror movies were the bluest. While the latest slasher can be entertaining, it’s hard to relate to the characters, or picture yourself in the film. People who can commiserate with the actors on screen get more out of watching.

On Television

Sports fans rejoice! People who watch five to 10 hours of their favorite teams a week fare better emotionally than those who don’t log any time cheering (or yelling as the case may be) at the TV screen. Fan girls and boys gain a sense of community with their fellow fans, and feel a part of something bigger. Those who skip the fantasy leagues and read a book on game day miss out.

Image by Craig Sunter