How Do I Get Renters Insurance For My Apartment in my Thirties?

Today I stared at a to do list item that has been on my list for many years, but has never before been checked off. That item is: Get Renters Insurance. And believe it or not, you guys, after all these years, I am now the proud owner of a year-long renters insurance policy!

Here’s why this achievement is important to me: this is the first time I’ve had a full apartment to call my own. I now live in a studio in queens. It’s nothing fancy, but I’m super happy with it and I love it very much. If something were to happen to it such as a fire or burglary, I’d be extremely upset. But I’d be even more upset if I then went into crazy bankrupting debt re-buying all my possessions, such as my bed and my couch and my desk and my computer and my clothing. I have more stuff than I think I have- a lesson I always learn again each time I move.

Getting renters insurance was both easier and harder than I thought. The hard part was that I had no idea where to start. I didn’t have a clue what company to go with, or even what companies were out there. I had no idea how much I should be paying per month nor how much I should be insured for nor what my deductible should be.

So I did what I always do when I’m not sure which direction to go: I googled. At first I just googled ‘get renters insurance’ but I just came up with a list of insurance companies touting how great they are, so I moved on to adding my favorite (mostly financial) bloggers to the keywords to see if they had any articles on the best of renters insurance, such as ‘best renters insurance ramit sethi’ or best renters insurance paula pant.’ Finally I tried ‘best renters insurance NYC’ and that brought up some good articles from websites I knew such as The Simple Dollar and Nerdwallet.

From these articles I got an idea of how much renters insurance should cost a month – IT’S USUALLY ONLY $12-$15 DOLLARS A MONTH! Not bad at all 

I also got an idea of about how much I should be insured for – around $25,000. That may sound high, but when you tally everything you own (bed, couch, desk, dresser, other furniture, tv, kitchen items, clothing, electronics, etc) plus possible cost of moving (yep, there’s all types of insurance and some even cover temporary stays if something happens to your permanent home), $25,000 is the recommended amount on average.

Then I got an idea of how high my deducible should be to keep my premiums low- the recommended amount is $500-$1000. I picked $1000.

Then I found a few websites that listed the best companies of 2016 for renters insurance- they all recommended different ones, but I looked up the companies that kept repeating on various websites: Allstate, State Farm, and Nationwide. I also checked Gotham Brokerage, specific to NYC.

Then I went to all four of those companies’ websites, and got quotes from all of them. I ultimately picked State Farm, which gives me the most coverage with the lowest premium, and I paid for it then and there- a grand total of $11 a month for $25,000 worth of coverage. This is not an advertisement for state farm though, or any of the above companies- I think rates and coverage are different for everybody.

But a major item on my to do list that has hung over my head for years was accomplished in about 40 minutes, including all the research and quotes and payment. Now imagine if I’d put renters insurance off longer and something had happened? I would’ve been pretty angry at myself.

So if you’re putting off getting renters insurance, I’d highly recommend going for it! It won’t take long and it’s cheap and will put your mind at ease. Here are some sites to get you started:

http://www.reviews.com/homeowners-insurance/renters/

http://www.thesimpledollar.com/best-renters-insurance/

https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/insurance/find-best-renters-insurance/

http://www.toptenreviews.com/services/insurance/best-renters-insurance/

https://www.creditsesame.com/blog/insurance/best-renters-insurance/

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When Self-Care Doesn’t Work

Last week for about the whole week, I had really, really bad anxiety. Like ‘a bubble bath and bottle of wine’ isn’t gonna help this kind of anxiety. It was strong and I didn’t feel like myself – this icky feeling possessed my brain (not Exorcist style in my body though, thank God!) in what felt like an unshakeable way. I’m not sure exactly what sparked it, but probably lots of little things that kind of exploded into a ball of overwhelm.

I tried everything. Watching my shows on Netflix, eating ridiculous amounts of pizza, drinking wine, reading cheesy magazines and books, taking walks – but nothing worked. My brain kept circling the same thoughts over and over again. Why didn’t I have more plans on Labor Day weekend? Am I going to live in this tiny studio apartment my whole life? Will I get get married and have kids? 

Those thoughts just kept repeating and repeating in my head, and I couldn’t shut them down.

I started getting angry at the idea of ‘self-care’ because it sure didn’t seem to be working for me.

So what do you do in these situations? Obviously, there’s medication, which I believe can be very helpful if you need it. But aside from that, what’s the biggest way to deal with moments like this? Now that I’m a little out of the anxiety fugue state, there’s one thing I know that works.

Riding it out. Accept that your (anxiety/loneliness/depression/fear/anger) may be PART of your life experience, but it’s not ALL of your life experience. It will pass.

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Sometimes You Don’t Realize Your Confidence Is Low Until You See Someone With a High Level of Confidence

Today I read an article by the comedian and author Sara Benincasa, who was responding to a very pointed question from a fan. The question was: Why did you gain so much weight?

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It’s a question that would’ve destroyed my confidence if I was already feeling bad about myself- as I think it would have secretly destroyed many women. And I’m not fat by any standards. I’m actually pretty small if you’re going by some kind of American average. But it doesn’t matter- I always knew from society and all the magazines I’ve ever read that I was kind of worthless unless I was losing weight or thin.

What’s crazy about the thought pattern of ‘I’m only worth something if I’m thin’ is how built into my belief system it is- and I know that I’m not the only one. I work in an industry where being thin is prized, but I also live in a society that’s weight loss crazed…and always has been.

The article today shocked me with the confidence and bravado it presented- the woman who wrote it is successful and funny and talented and also bigger than what Hollywood, or society at large (whatever that means), deems ‘acceptable,’ but she’s confident anyway. How is this possible? Are you allowed to be confident if you’re a woman who’s not ‘acceptably’ thin or striving to lose weight? I ask this question as sort of a joke, but it’s not a joke. I truly care about healthy food and about being healthy, but there’s definitely a major part of me that cares only about being thin, so that I can feel good about myself and move on. This weight pressure is not something that only hits women in their teens and twenties and goes away…it continues well into our thirties and likely until the day we die. Weight pressure is built into the fabric of how women live. Every woman is pressured to be ‘acceptably thin’ and can’t feel good about herself unless she is so. Or so I thought.

“…here’s the shocker: in addition to my family and real friends still loving me, I kept getting work! Comedy, acting, and publishing 5 books from February 2012 to July 2016! It’s almost like I still had worth and value beyond the number on the scale…!”

She did? Women can? Especially in entertainment..or fashion…or hell, just being a respected woman? How can you respect yourself if you’re not ‘acceptably thin?’ How can anyone respect you? You should use all your time and energy to get onto a weight loss plan, right? But the successful comedian and author who had ‘gained some weight’ confidently continued:

“Let me tell you about some of the things that I did between when I started gaining weight (2011) and now (2016). I published that first book, “Agorafabulous!: Dispatches From My Bedroom.”I adapted it as a TV pilot. Diablo Cody is the executive producer. Have you heard of her? She’s very talented… Anyway, she wanted to work with me and never brought up the fact that I wasn’t skinny. Can you imagine? It’s so strange. I talked to her yesterday and she still did not say anything about me being so fucking fat. Is she just being nice? She’s from the Midwest and those people are sweet. And Ben Stiller’s company, Red Hour, worked with me too. None of them told me I was fat. Ben Stiller didn’t tell me I was fat!”

And this breathtaking woman didn’t even feel unlovable when she was fat! It’s crazy:

“Now during this time I began to think about weight. Not mine! I saw how women were criticized on the Internet and elsewhere for gaining weight. This intrigued me. I didn’t feel fat or unlovable. Should I? Hmm. I considered this and decided instead to make fantastic art instead, because I’m amazing at it.”

Wow, how dare she make art instead of getting her weight under control?! How could she even do that? Isn’t it better to spend your entire life getting your weight under control before you do anything else? I don’t understand it!

I gained all that weight because I was so busy working and growing as a person, a writer, an actor, a comedian, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a lover, an activist (hi Emily’s List and Humanity for Hillary and Los Angeles LGBT Center!), a thinker, and a cook (ironic, right?!?) that I didn’t have time to pursue what I really, really want to do: spend my precious spare moments making anonymous comments on the blogs of successful, beautiful, hardworking women in a failed attempt to undermine them in order to give me some sense of power as I marinate in my own inadequacy, stuck in the knowledge that no one will ever pay me to write my poorly-crafted thoughts down on paper, to be translated into book or film or television form, and that beyond money (which of course doesn’t lend my thoughts any inherent value) or any degree of fame (which is pointless and wholly unnecessary to a happy and fulfilling existence) no one will ever really want to hear what I have to say at all, because I am essentially worthless and of no value to the world at large. That’s what I really want to do.

Wow. What a response. Read Sara Benincasa’s full, beautiful response here.

I’m truly moved and shaken by Sara’s amazing statement because I feel like I not only wouldn’t have the confidence to respond that way, but I wouldn’t have the confidence to FEEL that way.

Imagine if we could actually, truly feel so confident no matter what?

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All the Best Natural Cold Remedies I’ve learned about by 31- Featuring Apple Cider Vinegar, Raw Garlic, Green Juice, Vitamin C, and More!

So I’m sick. This annoys me because my sickness broke a record I’d been holding for the last year and a half of not getting sick. And before that, I hadn’t been sick in 5 years!

Last time I was sick (a year and a half ago), I was sick for an entire month! This was extremely annoying and excruciating because I was away working in 5 different cities in a row the entire time I was ill. And I didn’t have many of my natural remedies. So I’d be presenting to some customers in San Francisco, and my throat would burn in pain every time I swallowed, but I had to continue working for a few days and then immediately jump on a plane (still sick) to Chicago while sniffling the entire way. When I landed I’d get to work, talk to customers, then immediately have to run into a supply closet and blow my nose for the entire next show! I kept thinking the cold would stop but it continued through all 5 work cities, with symptoms changing the entire time, for over 26 days!

So without further ado, I’m going to tell you the best natural ways to prevent and fight a cold EARLY ON, because I caught that other one too late and never want that length of symptoms to happen to me again! Also, one of the reasons I think my sickness went on for so long last time and my first natural preventative tool is:

1. You have to get enough sleep!

I definitely wasn’t getting enough sleep last time I was sick, and I was traveling and working like crazy, so that didn’t help at all. Sleep goes a long way towards strengthening your immune system.

But in my 31 years, I’ve collected an arsenal of other natural remedies to try, especially when a cold or illness is just getting started- these cures work best to nip illnesses in the bud. I’ve been doing these now that I’ve been sick and I just kicked a fever and body aches within a day..and the latest cold is starting to subside, hopefully. Here are some of the best natural remedies I know:

1. Raw garlic

For many people this is a miracle cure. Eat raw garlic for health – anywhere from 2+ cloves a day (not the whole bulbs, just cloves..it’s not so bad). I’ve eaten anywhere from 3 to 8 cloves a day to try to kick the cold but I’m not being social right now. Brush your teeth really well and gargle Listerine if you’re gonna go meet anyone after this cure- especially your significant other.

Oh, and here are two brilliant ways to eat raw garlic without just chewing on a clove: 1. I like to make garlic toast- just heat any bread, add butter (or vegan earth balance), and top with raw garlic. 2. Alternatively, you can try simple guacamole: a bit of mashed avocado, raw garlic, salt, maybe some lime juice, and I add a drop of stevia. Or just add it to mashed avocado and call it a day.

2. Vitamin C Supplementation

I had a roommate once who never got sick. She swore by taking 5 vitamin C pills every 6 hours. I take anywhere from 2-5 every 6 hours..it won’t hurt- you’ll just pee out extra vitamin C anyway. Your body can’t retain it.

3. Ginger

Once I had a boyfriend who would get so sick a couple of times a year that I was sure he was on death’s door every time. A friend of his recommended making him ginger tea, and it truly worked miracles. In fact, for some people, this is the most effective cure of all. Buy fresh ginger and peel it, then chop it up into 1/2 inch size pieces or so, and boil it. Drink the boiled water. When I’m getting sick, I drink a ton of this. Sometimes I add honey, a bit of almond milk, cinnamon, and turmeric for a yummy powerhouse drink.

4. Raw honey

I’ve lost my voice many a time because of both dairy sensitivities and loud shows where I’m talking a lot. Raw honey really helps with scratchy and sore throats and it seems to have some medicinal properties for colds as well. If you don’t have raw honey, any honey will do for its soothing quality.

5. Warm lemon water

I just started with this because I’m sick, but it’s hugely trendy right now. Lemons have a lot of vitamin C and are extremely alkalizing (a very good thing for your body). A lot of people I know swear by warm lemon water. If you want to try, it’s really easy: just squeeze half a a fresh lemon (not bottled lemon juice) into some room temperature or warm water and drink it first thing in the AM. Easy peasy.

6. Apple Cider Vinegar

Is there anything apple cider vinegar doesn’t do? It’s known to cure everything from stomach aches to digestive issues to high cholesterol to hiccups. Totally worth giving this magical cure a try. Just add a tablespoon or two of ACV to some water and drink it. You can even add some raw honey to this for extra effect and tastiness. I know people who drink this every morning.

7. Probiotics

Since I attempt to avoid dairy, I don’t eat yogurt often. However, the main nutrients in yogurt come from probiotics. So I take a probiotic supplement every morning instead. Probiotics help gut bacteria, promote good digestion, and I have a few friends who say they don’t get sick because of all the probiotics in their diet. You can get probiotics from food and drinks such as Kombucha tea and quality sauerkraut as well.

8. Green Juice/green smoothies

If you have access to a juicer or blender to make a green juice or a green smoothie first thing in the morning, either one is a great way to start your day. Green juices are mainly juiced vegetables, sometimes with an apple and lemon thrown in for taste and good measure. A green smoothie adds a handful or two of spinach, kale, or many other green leafy veggies to a fruit smoothie- and you can’t even taste the greens. These are great ways to sneak extra healing greens into your diet besides salads.

9. Fruit

I eat so much fruit in the morning- a lot of times, fruit is my main breakfast. Fruit is packed with healing vitamin C to help ward off illness, plus many other vitamins to support your immune system. Simple bananas work well in the morning, and I’m into oranges or mangoes lately as well. If you don’t want to make a smoothie, plain fruit is a great (and easy) substitute.

Okay, well there you have it- a plethora of natural cold remedies to help you kick any illness that starts to rear it’s ugly head. Try one or try a few..or try them all. Let me know what you think! And stay well!

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When Things Feel Uncomfortable or A Shock of Cold Water in Your Thirties

Yesterday I was at the beach for the first time this year. It was a beautiful day and the sun and sand were both feeling glorious on my skin.

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My friend Zach and I went to Brighton Beach in Brooklyn for the day. Zach loves both swimming and cold water so one of the first things he wanted to do was go into the ocean. At first I didn’t want to follow him- I’ve been to this beach before but hate cold water and am not a big city ocean swimmer. And the New York City waters are not known for their tropical climates.

But I decided to at least put my feet in and followed Zach into the surf. Right away, the frigid cold stung my feet, and I didn’t go any further. “It’s freezing!!!” I screamed, but he assured me that I’d get used to it. I didn’t believe him, but I wanted to continue our previous conversation, so I stayed with my feet in the water. Before long, the water felt body temperature and then downright warm on my feet. I was sure I had teleported to Miami. Soon I was stomach deep in the water and happily frolicking around.

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Now, I’m convinced the water was two different temperatures from the start to the finish. How did something so unbearable transform into something so great? And I’m thinking this happens in life all the time.. when you’re at the beginning of something new, even a new feeling, it can sting and feel completely uncomfortable, even intolerable. So you leave before you experience a change.

But sometimes the gentle reassurance of a friend or a family member invites us to stick with something that at first feels unwelcome or too hard. Occasionally the distraction of good company can take us away from our old habits enough to welcome change. How many times have we instinctually run from something that might have turned out to be lovely?

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The Worthiness of Sleep

Lately I’ve been averaging around 8.5 hours of sleep a night and it’s been pretty glorious. This much sleep mainly happens because things slow down for me in the summer and I’m able to adapt my schedule to the way my natural rhythms are- I love to go to sleep around 1:30am and wake up around 10. I actually enjoy having a more leisurely morning and then really getting going on work later in the day and into the night. That works great for me. However, this schedule doesn’t go well with the structure of society today.

Not only is our society not for night owls, it’s also not for sleeping ‘extra’ hours. Today, you’re considered a ‘hero’ for sleeping less and working more. You can brag to all your ‘lazier’ friends about being so busy you had no time to sleep. Workaholism is an esteemed trait nowadays. Yet, I wonder if we might be able to do better work and bring better creations to the world if we’re better rested.

Lately, more and more awareness about the value of sleep seems to be coming to light. Arianna Huffington recently wrote about our sleep deprivation culture in her book The Sleep Revolution. I have not yet read it but I really want to. Just the other day, a blogger and thought leader that I really like, Marie Forleo, sent an email newsletter about the book including an interview with Arianna Huffington. Then, a bit later, a friend of mine forwarded me that same newsletter- so the importance of sleep has been a recurring theme lately.

Here’s a quote from the summary of the book on Amazon:

“In The Sleep Revolution, Arianna shows how our cultural dismissal of sleep as time wasted compromises our health and our decision-making and undermines our work lives, our personal lives — and even our sex lives. She explores all the latest science on what exactly is going on while we sleep and dream.  She takes on the dangerous sleeping pill industry, and all the ways our addiction to technology disrupts our sleep. She also offers a range of recommendations and tips from leading scientists on how we can get better and more restorative sleep, and harness its incredible power.”

I’ll write more reminders on the importance of sleep in future blogposts because I know that our busy world can get in the way of us ever prioritizing  having a long, restful night. When you can, try to congratulate yourself when you get more sleep and not yell at yourself for it. You’re benefitting everything else you do by sleeping more! And of course, don’t beat yourself up if you’re at a time in your life when you can’t get the amount of sleep you desire. After all, it’s not worth losing sleep over!

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Expensive Things Can Be Bought Cheaply in Your Thirties

I was laying on a loungechair at an Onsen in Japan the other day- an Onsen is a Japanese hotspring. It was a beautiful day out and I’d just come out of the Himalayan salt sauna next to me. I could feel the salt between my toes and the sun on my skin. My breathing came easily and deeply. I was about to jump into the open air hotspring in front of me. And I felt rich. And I thought “this is an amazingly expensive experience.” It was a funny thought to have because this particular beautiful onsen experience had cost me a grand total of 7 whole dollars.

Yep, the Onsen entry fee was a paltry 700 yen, which actually equates to a little less than 7 US dollars. And as I was laying there in the sun and basking in the spa-like experience, I kept thinking about how people want to have tons of money so that they could have experiences such as this, but this had cost me nearly nothing.

And this happens all the time. I sometimes have an amazing, brilliant meal somewhere that blows me away, and the whole thing has cost me a grand total of 10 dollars.

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Or I’m at a beautiful lake somewhere and the whole experience costs me a grand total of zero dollars plus $2.50 train fare.

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This isn’t just a Japan thing. Sometimes in America I’ll have a great super filling brunch for less than $15 complete with Bloody Mary and coffee.

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Sometimes I’ll be at an amazing five dollar yoga class in Bryant Park, or I’ll get a cheap massage in Queens that’s less than forty dollars for a whole hour- not hundreds.

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I’m not saying that having money isn’t important and that you don’t need a comfortable degree of money to live a happy life. Being worried about money is terrible- I know firsthand what that feels like and the stress that causes.

However, I don’t think you need to have tons of money to live the rich life you’d live if you did have tons of money. You can live it anyway at any income level- don’t equate expensive with value. Many things you’re waiting for the money to do aren’t as expensive as you think. The saying isn’t true- lots of things in life are free! Or at least pretty cheap. And they’re all around- just look for them.

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Unwinding During the Busiest Times In Your Thirties

I’m just coming off of the busiest and most hectic time of year in my line of work. The auto show season has come to a close and many tradeshows I work with are popping up and winding down. Yet my mind still whirls. It’s hard to come down from both the highs and the lows of being extremely busy and mildly crazed.

I remember one tactic I used to have to handle work stress when I felt like I had no time to calm down was to try to find a small amount of time in the middle of the day- sometimes just 10 minutes- and let my mind go completely blank and peaceful. This wasn’t part of the standard meditations I do- it was a separate time or two during the day sometimes during a quick work break. I’d just take a “vacation” in the midst of the busyness. My mind would let go.

This practice has been too long forgotten from my days, but I thought of it again when I was having an anxious moment at the airport yesterday. I was thinking about all the tasks I had yet to do, even though there were less than usual. I hadn’t gotten enough sleep, and an annoying negative loop was playing in my head. And then I suddenly remembered my 10 minute “vacation” practice of thinking about nothing in the midst of stressful times. So I stared around the airport and said ‘screw all these tasks i’m thinking about. Screw them all.’ And I simply smiled and observed the terminal.

Nothing happened. The world didn’t end. I slept on the flight. The tasks happened later and it was no big deal. When you find yourself needing to feel tense and busy out of habit, try taking a ‘vacation’ from wherever you are. Say ‘screw it’ to all the tasks and worries in your mind for at least a few minutes and try to smile and simply go blank. Just observe.

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Don’t let the habit of feeling busy become a need. You never need to feel tense. Just let go.  It’ll get easier every time.

What Are You Waiting For In Your Thirties?

Sorry for the long post delay. I feel like I’ve waited way too long- which is the theme of this post.

Do you ever feel like you’re waiting around for that day when your life will get much better? For that moment you are finally in the shape of your life? For the year you can quit your job and retire? For that future time period when you can travel the world? And then you can be happy?

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Sometimes I catch myself waiting in this way. But what I’ve learned this year is that it’s almost impossible to be happy later if you can’t be happy now. I feel like I’ve spent a lot of my life worrying- it’s my go to habit. I can feel myself clenching up sometimes, preparing for the worst. I guess I’ve always felt like somehow my anxiety helps me to get things done.

However, lately, when I focus on manually taking down my anxiety levels and allowing myself to be happy now, I still get things done. I don’t fall into a valley of hedonism like I’ve been afraid of doing. Nothing falls apart because- god forbid- I haven’t worried about it today. My anxiety hasn’t seemed to be necessary to have a productive day.

This lack-of-waiting-to- be-happy mentality brought up thoughts of another trip with Jane. We haven’t taken a trip together just for fun in over seven years. Last time we went to Austin, so this time we picked the equally bizarre city of Portland, and it was wonderful.

At first it felt weird planning a trip purely for fun, but why wait?And why not? We just got back yesterday night, and we were so happy we’d made the leap, took the trip, and didn’t wait for some ‘better time’ in the future.

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First night in Portland!

You are allowed to enjoy life right now. Choose happiness right this moment. Of course you will feel sad and anxious sometimes, and that’s absolutely okay and actually good and normal. But anxiety doesn’t need to be the status quo. You can feel all the feels. But you don’t have to stay miserable..or anxiously await a better time.The future is uncertain. Choose to be happy now. What are you waiting for?

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Blue Star Donuts!

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Voodoo!

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Portland Love!

Can You Get More Introverted As You Get Older?

I just got back from my theater company’s writers workshop and I feel seriously drained. To be fair, I’m already running on less than adequate sleep, but my energy is super low when it’s usually super high after an awesome and creative theater meeting.

Part of me feels like I haven’t fully recovered from working a major auto show in Chicago- I returned from the show a full week ago- last Monday- but it kind of seems like yesterday. My days back in New York have flown by. I spent a good amount of my time back home working on taxes and projects that needed to get done, and other days catching up with people I really wanted to see.

For whatever reason, I just want to crawl up and be alone and do nothing all day for the next few days (don’t we all, sometimes, especially us introverts?) but I have to travel out of town again tomorrow for another show. And the sensation of wanting to be alone and do nothing for days and days in order to recharge is stronger than ever.

So I just googled ‘does introversion increase with age?’ and found mixed opinions. I know that it’s my introverted nature that makes me need alone time to recharge, but I usually love socializing, especially one on one, and don’t feel as drained as I do now by not getting enough time alone. The google search results were a mixed bag, generally not stating that introversion increases with age, but a ton of people had also asked this question, making me think that it’s common even if undiagnosed.

If introversion doesn’t actually increase with age, perhaps we’re just more aware of it as we get into our thirties- we’re more aware of what we want and who we really are. I know that I’m less willing to push myself to the point of burnout, and am much more conscious of my feelings and opinions. So this newfound awareness of how I feel and where my limits are may make me feel like I’m getting more introverted  as I get older when in fact I’m just more aware of what I need.

Actually, writing this is making me feel better. I’m playing classical music and I just made tea and am gonna take a hot shower and I’m writing to you guys and you guys are great. And I’m blissfully, blissfully alone. Le sigh…

But a good le sigh.

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The Bowling Ball Leaning Dilemma, or Trying to Control the Uncontrollable

It’s been awhile since I’ve last gone bowling, but it’s been barely any time since I’ve worried about something. Both of these things are connected by a bad habit.

You see, I have a ridiculously useless habit when I go bowling. I throw the ball down the lane (and I seriously mean throw, as I have no technique. I only go bowling for fun or birthday parties). Once I’ve thrown the ball, I watch its trajectory down the lane, and then, very predictably, I lean my entire body in the direction I want the ball to go.

This crazy-looking full body lean is sometimes accompanied by arm waving, pushing an imaginary force that connects me to the ball and will accomplish a strike by telepathy. Astonishingly, my leaning telepathy has zero effectiveness in getting the ball to change course. All the leaning does is scratch my itch to DO something.

Lately, I’ve decided to pay attention to the hum of worry that naturally clouds my mind from the moment I wake up. I vaguely worry that I’ll do something wrong and wind up with people mad at me, or lose friends. I worry that I’ll forget all of the tasks I must do later that day or “some day soon.” I worry that when I’m happy for no reason I’m not being ‘reasonable’ or ‘down to earth enough.’ I worry about being happy in general, because if I’m happy now, then I must have settled.

Take a look at your own life- is there a sheen of mild to medium worry coursing through your moments? Worry might have become so habitual in your life that you barely notice it anymore. Maybe you feel like worry  helps you accomplish something by keeping tasks in the forefront of your mind. On the contrary, think of worry as the equivalent of that bowling lean, where your best effort will always be completely useless. Sometimes when you feel like something is helping, your instincts are actually fooling you.

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Do I Need An Estate Plan in My Thirties?

I read an article earlier on LearnVest about Estate Planning. It was only vaguely interesting to me, because I figured that I was too young to do any kind of estate planning- also, isn’t that for really wealthy people who’ve built some kind of empire? Right now, my student loans negate my empire, don’t they?

After all, don’t you need an estate to do estate planning?

Apparently, you don’t need much of anything to begin estate planning, you just need to be over 18. Randy Gardner and Leslie Daff of Estate Plan Inc- the husband and wife team of attorneys consulted in the Learnvest article, say that it’s never too early to start planning- once you turn 18, your parents can’t make legal decisions for you anymore. They also say that you don’t need to have an empire of wealth for your ‘estate’ to go through probate (an un-fun court process needed to settle your affairs if you die without an estate plan in place)- an ‘estate’ of more than $20,000 can end up going through probate.

So how to start planning? The article is already helpful, but here are some of the top easiest tips I took away:

  1. If you have money stashed somewhere (an IRA, 401k, etc) make sure your beneficiaries are up to date. In my research, I read about a recently married couple where the husband died and never updated his beneficiaries to include his wife. His parents got the money and for reasons beyond me didn’t give the wife anything at all.)
  2. Perhaps setting up a Durable Power of Attorney is a good idea- though it seems slightly complicated. This is basically someone who is appointed (your spouse, a family member, a friend) to make healthcare and/or financial decisions for you if you are incapacitated or otherwise can’t handle your affairs.  This article explains it a bit– as well as how to set one up.
  3.  If you have children, setting up estate plans becomes even more necessary. You don’t want to have no plans in place if something unexpectedly happens to you. Look into setting up a Living Revocable Trust and make sure you have a will in place.

This stuff isn’t at all fun to think about, and we’re still young. But it’s kind of like having car insurance or rental insurance- you should always have a plan in place, especially when you have something to lose. Then you’ll be free to continue happily building your empire in peace.

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Less FOMO in Your 30s

Perhaps I’m stating the obvious here, but I’ve found that I have much less FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) now that I’m in my 30s. I distinctly remember feeling very unsettled on Friday and Saturday nights in my 20s when I didn’t have plans. I’d wonder what everyone else was doing and feared that I was missing out on establishing key bonds and friend/romantic opportunities because I wasn’t out on the town.

But now, I spend at least one Friday or Saturday night per weekend at home, vegging out. Usually that involves wine and good TV/movies (now it’s Showtime’s Billions, Hulu’s The Mindy Project, HBO’s Getting On, and the list goes on…). I also love reading, and books give me lots of warm fuzzies during my downtime.

I used to have guilt about using this time to be by myself and enjoy my own company on a  weekend, but not anymore.

Maybe one of the reasons is that I don’t really go on Facebook a lot – I’m more an Instagram type of girl, and my favorite posts are usually inspirational posts from Elizabeth Gilbert and my celeb girl crushes. So, my social media usage doesn’t bring me down, but instead serves to lift me up (most of the time).

Psychological studies have proven that most FOMO is derived from social media. In fact, there’s a quiz you can take called “Rate my FOMO” that seems to gage your level of FOMO based on your social media usage. You can check it out here, Rate my FOMO.

Studies have shown that FOMO seems to happen when your social/psychological needs aren’t being met, and thus you turn to social media for connection. Then, the vicious cycle begins – you see your ‘friends’ doing fun activities without you, and you wonder why you’re not doing these cool activities.

So, maybe in our 30s, we know how to take care of ourselves better. We know how to meet our psychological and social needs, and we know the basics of self-care.

What do you think? Do you have less FOMO than you used to?

Are Your Problems Caused By Being Tired and Sleep Deprived?

For the past few months, I’ve been getting glorious sleep. Like, incredible, way more than just adequate sleep. I’ve been getting indulgent, 9-13 hour a night sleep. I’ve been prioritizing sleep heavily. More than socializing and partying and exercising and work.  And it’s been amazing.

With over 8.5 hours of sleep a night, my mind is clearer, my thoughts flow easier, I remember people’s names, facts stick with me, and I have much more positive energy and a way calmer outlook. Sleeping more is like eating 5 pounds of broccoli and exercising for 3 hours and working for 4 extra hours and going to a spa and getting a massage and a facial and a PhD all rolled up in one. Well, maybe not the PhD part exactly. But close.

I never realized that I needed more than nine hours of sleep before, because most people never get that, and it’s not known as ‘normal.’ And most of my life I’m pretty sure I’ve been walking around in a sleep deprived haze. Everything can seem a little harder to process when you’re sleep deprived- my feelings always felt a bit ‘gray.’ My thoughts always felt a bit duller when lacking sleep, and it was much harder hard to remember things or be infused with any kind of positive energy when running on less than eight sleep-filled hours.

My friend and fellow thirty-something coworker, Natasha, who I wrote all about in Playing Dress Up In Your Thirties, is one of my sleep inspirations. She sometimes races back to our hotel after work in order to get to sleep even faster- she claims she needs ‘instant sleep’ in order to get her necessary ten plus hours of sleep in before the next early workday and has no shame about grabbing the hours she needs. It’s pretty amazing to watch someone brag about making sure they get lots of sleep as opposed to bragging about being soooo busy all the time. It’s extremely refreshing to see someone prioritize such an important but seldom-respected part of a healthy lifestyle.

I’ve been getting a lot less sleep in the past few days because of my crazy work schedule in an exciting new city (St Louis), where I’ve really enjoyed spending every waking moment (pun intended) exploring. I haven’t been able to always race back to my hotel and get my much-needed sleep. And I can feel an extreme difference in my thought patterns. It’s been worth it to explore the city, but it’s still not a great feeling.

I intend to prioritize sleep once again, and stop staying up so late. Starting now. And soon I will get back to my amazing nine to thirteen hours in bed. Goodnight!

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Love and Delight on the Holidays

We want to send so much love to you, our amazing readers, always and especially during the holiday season. We’re truly grateful that you’re reading, and for your thoughtful comments and stories and feedback.

We love you, are honored that you’re here, and hope you continue to grow with us.

I just started reading the book “Big Magic,” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Jane lent it to me saying that it was a must read, so I’m excited to keep going with it. In the first few pages, the author quotes a favorite poet of hers, Jack Gilbert, who says “We must risk delight. We must have the courage to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.”

Those sentences moved me greatly. I want to have courage to risk my own delight, despite what may happen around me. Who knew it could be such a worthwhile risk?

I hope that you too get to risk your own delight this holiday season.

Have some fantastic holidays with your loved ones, and Merry Christmas!

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My living Christmas tree, Seneca, and I

 

What Happens When You Start Feeling Empty?

I guess it can happen when you least expect it.

At the end of a very productive week, after sweeping through almost everything on my to do list and checking it all off, and getting a crazy amount accomplished and even feeling quite together and on top of things, I started to feel empty inside.

I wouldn’t usually write about things like this, because I don’t know if hearing about emptiness is helpful to people. Also, I’m usually an extremely positive and driven person, so it’s kind of hard to talk about feeling suddenly empty in the middle of an upswing for no determinable reason.

However, I was thinking that if I’m feeling this way now, I’m sure there are others who are feeling this way too, and maybe it’ll help to talk about it.

Emptiness is a weird feeling, and completely annoying, because when you try to shake it, it only clings on harder. It came upon me this week after meditating almost every day, and feeling pretty good about things, so it was pretty random seeming. I guess it can come from anywhere at any time. It just felt hard to feel, if that makes any sense. It was hard to feel grateful and hard to feel peaceful for sure.

I woke up in the middle of the night last night with the empty feeling slathered all over me, like an unsettling grey cloud. It led to almost immediate fear thoughts about how even when I’m on top of things and feeling quite good, I can still feel this horrible lack. Just writing about this now kind of brings the fear thoughts back. Since I don’t exactly know the answer to how to proceed with feelings like this, I will only state some theories I have:

  • Feelings of emptiness come and go. There’s probably something I should pay attention to, instead of just pushing the feelings away.
  • Although I’m afraid of the feeling of emptiness, or not being able to feel peace and gratefulness, I think I’m afraid because I feel like no matter how hard I work, my feelings might not always be peaceful, and I can’t accept that.
  • I need to accept that my feelings won’t always be peaceful, and that sometimes I will feel empty and afraid. I won’t always feel this way, but it doesn’t help to pretend that I never feel this way.
  • The empty feelings and fear feelings that pass through me don’t define who I am.
  • Those same “bad” feelings (which I’m going to take the “bad” label away from now) can be present even while I forge ahead with my life. Their presence doesn’t need to set me back, though I always feel that if I feel empty and fearful, it must mean I’ve backtracked.

This has a lot to do with what I wrote about in the post It Hurts, So What? Sometimes I’m afraid to do something because I know it will hurt. For example, in that post I talked about being afraid to speak up because I knew the outcome probably would be painful anyway…but I needed to speak up. And I did, and it was very painful..but that was okay. Because so what? Sometimes things will be painful. It’s uncomfortable but it’s alright.

So perhaps I’m relearning the lesson of ‘It hurts. So what?” again and again. It’s okay to be afraid of the empty feeling, at the same time that it’s okay to be afraid of being afraid. It’s not a about being ‘beyond’ those feelings. It’s about letting them happen..because so what? Those feelings aren’t who I am.

Here are some articles I read about the empty feeling that made me feel a bit better and a bit less alone:

The Real Cause of Inner Emptiness (And What to Do About It- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/margaret-paul-phd/inner-emptiness_b_869421.html

‘I Feel Empty’: How to Overcome Feelings of Emptiness- http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/i-feel-empty-how-to-overcome-feelings-of-emptiness-1112145

Allowing things to

arise: http://www.buddhanet.net/4noble19.htm

Hope this helps someone out there. Remember, feel free to reach out to us if you feel sad or empty. You’re not alone!

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