The Road Through in Your Thirties

When I was 24 or so, I went to visit my brother in Europe. He was studying abroad in Italy, and we were thrilled to use the weeks I came out there to build a fun Euro Trip together. We excitedly met in Athens, then hit up Amsterdam, Barcelona, back to Florence, and then Palermo, Sicily before I left to go back home. It was a two week trip in total, and it was quite a journey.

I’d gone through a bad break up right before I left for that trip, which included an almost-getting-back-together moment (or a few), and then my ex and I ending things for good, followed by him almost immediately posting photos on social media with a new woman. It was honestly all for the best that it ended, but I was extremely upset when I arrived in Europe, and my brother and I talked a lot of it out. As we climbed the Parthenon, he listened as I told him the complete story. As we breezed by Amsterdam Ferris wheels and laughed through the Heineken Museum, he gave me some advice. And I listened while he told me about how he was feeling homesick in Italy, and how it was difficult that he didn’t speak much of the language. I shared my experiences studying abroad in Italy 4 years prior and any helpful tips I had. We had a lot of catching up to do and the first week we spilled our all of our frustrations to each other, meandering over and around the canals of Amsterdam and visiting the mysterious Oracle of  Delphi (which was closed). It was a time of wandering through lands unfamiliar and magical and funny and strange.

We sat together in the lobby of our hostel while, on a shared communal computer, my brother stood by me as I deleted my ex from all social media. We guided each other through some odd and new territory.

Then something changed about halfway through the trip- there was a lifting. We sat on a beach in Barcelona and sunk our feet into the sand and stared at dripping Gaudi buildings and felt free and alive. The problems started to soar out of our minds as we swam through that Spanish sea, replaced by a feeling of wonder. And the joyful giddiness stayed with us as we slurped spaghetti in Sicily and went bar hopping through ice bars and breweries and laughed and met strangers and felt like both grown ups and children again.

Now I’m on the tail end of a road trip with my family and I feel the same lifting as back then. I started this trip with an angst- nothing to do with the road trip- the trip is what helped. The feeling is the July angst I talked about in my last blogpost What Happens In Summer. Big questions play through my head in July and August and make these months a time of strong re-evaluation. But on this trip, and on many others with my family, I go through a period of release similar to that voyage through Europe. There’s something about being away for fun (and not just for my usual work travel), something about the open road. Something about talking to my family, talking to my brother again, who reminds me that dwelling on anxiety and toxic repetitive thoughts isn’t useful, and brings me back to the simple idea that the most important thing for me is my own happiness.

Whether splashing on a beach in Barcelona, or driving down the open road through some small southern town, occasionally you just need to let all the inside things out to remind yourself of what’s really important.

 

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Baby Fever in Your Thirties

Baby Fever in Your Thirties

I’ve always been a fan of cute things.

I love little animals, especially baby animals, and can watch cute cat videos for quite awhile- sometimes over and over again. When people talk to me about their dog or cat or any cuddly pet really, I always want to see a picture. Or two. Or three.

And I think I’ve always kinda loved really cute babies too. Cute human ones, I mean. But although I’ve always found some human babies cute, I’m quite particular, and I never really liked kids, even when I was one myself.

Lately though, I’ve noticed my love of cute little things increasing even more. I’ve always loved cute animals, but now I’m absolutely obsessed with them. I squee out loud when I see an adorable puppy in a sweater, and photos of baby pigs and pandas can bring happy tears to my eyes.

Today at work I saw an adorable baby with tufts of crazy hair sticking out everywhere. He/she made me really happy. I pointed him/her out to my coworker, a male in his late thirties, and he said ‘awww, so cute’ and then asked, ‘Do you have baby fever?’

I immediately said no, and felt embarrassed and even ashamed, weirded out by that question, especially from a guy. Baby fever seems like such a cliche in your thirties. But then he informed me that he thought HE was having baby fever- not only noticing cute kids way more, but getting obsessed with his nieces and nephews like never before.

So that was shocking. Maybe baby fever isn’t just a cliche woman thing, but can happen to guys too. He’s in his late thirties, so perhaps it happens to guys a bit later? Is baby fever even a real thing? Does being in your thirties cause this for some people?

I don’t know if I have baby fever, really. At least, I won’t admit it just yet. But I love cute things, for sure.

And so I conclude with a video of a cat building an igloo in the snow. And just in time for easter: some of my favorite very cute bunnies. And all of their friends. 🙂

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Are You Still A Good Friend In Your Thirties?

I just got back from visiting Jane in LA and it was fantastic. I’d been working in LA for two weeks, so I took the opportunity to extend my stay for 7 days at Jane’s apartment in Santa Monica. It was the best decision I could’ve made.

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Jane and I managed to spend 7 days with almost every hour together, and we still felt like we could’ve easily used more time. We went to all kinds of delicious restaurants, from brunch cafes to vegetarian taco places to incredible italian (we’re ridiculously happy foodies), while also managing to find a mac and cheese festival (9 different mac and cheeses in 2 hours), and quite a few great drink deals and happy hours.

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We also managed to both get quite a bit of work done together- between writing and blogging and marketing and other job-related things. We also got in quite a few physical activities such as biking for quite a few hours and running and walking all over the place. We met up with friends and coworkers and I even got to go to her weekly writers workshop.

In short, it was a successful trip. However, one of the things we talked about and have had quite a few serious discussions about in the past is maintaining our friendship even when we’re in relationships.

We’ve both found that it can be easier to maintain friendships when single. I’ve seen this happen time and time again with acquaintances who fall off the face of the earth when they find a significant other.

I know it has happened to me in the past, especially in my early 20s, where I expected all my friends to understand that I didn’t have as much time to spend hanging out with them. Some of my friends then drifted away- probably angry at me for being so stupidly unaware that I was pushing them away. Luckily, I realized what I’d done and now heavily prioritize spending time with my friends and family.

I feel terrible even thinking about those days, but I think you have to go through the relationship/friendship vortex to understand. At first, when you’re in a relationship, it can just seem like you don’t have nearly as much time to hang out with your friends. However, if you let that feeling lead you, and you stop appreciating and tending to your awesome friendships, you’ll pay a heavy price.

You don’t want your significant other to be your only friend. Even if you’re married, I think it’s a very bad idea to only hang out with your significant other, or only give minor thought to your friends. Worst case scenario, you break up or get divorced, and then you realize your good friends are gone because you’ve been pushing them away for years.

Jane and I always promise each other that we’ll tend to our friendship no matter what, and I think that’s one of the biggest reasons we’ve been friends for so long. During this trip we made a point to talk once again about prioritizing our friendship whether or not we’re in relationships. It’s actually a manual thing- you need to put friends right up there with career and relationships, especially during the busy, hectic years of your thirties. Good friends are strengthening and amazing- never take them for granted.

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The Trouble With Thankfulness In Your Thirties

So Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we’re still here, facing the possible Black Friday carnage, and the insane cyber Monday heading directly our way.

We may have felt sincerely grateful on Thanksgiving for our situations and our families and our friends, but now holiday shopping is upon us, and work is crazier than ever, and it’s hard to remember the peace we may have felt for a second or two last Thursday.

I was talking to a friend about this the other day- how gratefulness slips through our fingers so easily, especially with years of built up stress and to-do-list habits. I can be grateful for a moment for one second, and then suddenly my mind will be racing with worry about something I don’t have or what I have yet to get done.

It’s extremely difficult to let go of the sometimes very painful old-feeling moments in life- those moments where we’re hit with a sad situation, or when we screw something up or feel guilty about something, or someone hurts us, and those same-old-feelings come up once again. It’s very hard to be thankful for all we have, when seemingly large problems are hitting us with 30-plus years of habitual worry once again.

However, I feel like it’s possible and actually quite necessary to feel thankful in my thirties way more than I have before. Every day I try to start again. It’s like brushing your teeth- you have to keep doing it- it doesn’t just last.

There have been some stressful work situations going on in my life lately where I’ve been angry and feeling wronged and hurt. Sometimes I’ve stewed in those emotions and sometimes I’ve expressed them and tried to be clear about what was wrong. All of that action had its place, and I think that it was good to express the problems and my feelings about them. However, after awhile, it became impossible to stew in the negative feelings anymore. I was causing myself unhappiness and grief. There was nothing to do but to concentrate on things that were still good- and there were many things to be thankful for.

I started feeling thankful for people who smiled at me when they walked by. For children who were adorable and quiet and sweet. For the cool breeze I felt as I walked to work. For the beautiful park I was able to run around in the morning. For coworkers who made funny jokes. For hot showers. For beautiful texts from my family and friends. For delicious hummus. For my Spotify playlist.

And I started to feel better.

We have so much and we forget. I think that forgetting is normal and natural. The habit of not thinking about the small stuff has been a survival tool that’s gotten us through more than thirty years of life. We want more and more- which can be great. We’re in our thirties- we have big dreams. We want an amazing career and an amazing marriage and maybe a family and a creative empire and a wonderful home and creative control and financial freedom.

And those big dreams are extremely important. Huge, in fact.

But we’ll never appreciate them if we can’t be thankful for what we have today.

Each moment is a win. Each day is jam packed with small and beautiful things. Don’t be afraid to appreciate them again and again and again- Thanksgiving is every day.

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Beautiful terrace view on Thanksgiving in Los Angeles 

Sometimes the Solution Isn’t to be Nicer

I struggle hard to learn from my mistakes and not repeat them. I strive to do my absolute very best.  I hate regret. I hate it.

I try very hard to word things correctly, and to be aware of what I might have done wrong in the past so I can always do things right in the future. I think hard about people’s feelings. I try to be helpful. I try to be fair. I worry about people’s happiness. I hope I’m being nice enough. I hope that I’m not doing something wrong and upsetting someone. I strive to be the best possible friend. I strive to be the best possible family member.

I used to be slow to return texts and emails– I struggle to be faster.

I used to let friendships lapse a bit when I got into relationships– I’m now very aware of this issue and have sworn my allegiance to my friendships.

I used to let significant others do what they wanted, even when it made me extremely unhappy or suffer– I now attempt to communicate what I need early on. This is very hard for me to do. I sometimes feel awkward communicating what I want without being asked but I know I have to.

I used to be more outspoken– now I struggle to be careful with my wording… to the point that I’d almost rather be silent than say the wrong thing by accident.

I used to believe that being nice (and down to earth and rational) could solve almost any problem– I’m now starting to understand that it cannot.

Sometimes when people surprise me by acting in what I perceive to be a sudden cruel way- possibly by saying something mean to me, or flaking on me, or disappearing on me, or by not accepting me, or telling me that they’re upset with me but hadn’t let me know before, I freak out. I obsess over what I could’ve done differently. I look through my old texts or emails, and think about conversations. I wonder if I worded things incorrectly. I worry that maybe if I could have somehow been even nicer and more thoughtful, things would be better.

But then I think about all the amazing friends and family members who accept me even when I’m busy or don’t return texts immediately or say random things that come to my head without editing them. I think about all the people who I accept and forgive all the time…even when they’re slow to respond to me or jot down brisk silly texts, or seem distracted and don’t act the best they can all the time. I realize that the people in my life are imperfect. The same way I am imperfect. And I’m suddenly starting to realize that the RIGHT people, the amazing ones, will forgive the dumb mistakes or the slow emails or the days between seeing each other when we get busy.

Sometimes being nicer and nicer in an effort to make things work with certain people isn’t going to ever make things work anyway. Perhaps the answer is to have more respect for myself and for the people who forgive my transgressions because they know that I’m doing the best I can. Because they love me for who I am, however imperfect.

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The Happiness Boost in Your Mid-Thirties

This is complete conjecture on my part, but I have a feeling that when you enter your mid-thirties, you start to experience a subtle but profound happiness boost. Yes, maybe this is wishful thinking on my part (I’m 33), but my hunch is that it’s more than just wishful thinking. There must be more than just a biological reason that a woman’s sexual prime is in her mid-30s (in full disclosure: this long-held belief about women’s sexual prime has been debated. Some experts point it at 26, others at the early 30s).

My feeling is that as we gain confidence, security and happiness – our sexual energy levels are boosted. But what is it about the mid-thirties that gives us that happy boost? First, let’s define “mid-thirties.” From what I’ve read online, most folks define mid-thirties as between 33-37. During these four years, a lot of your hard work – be it in your career, relationships or self-growth, begins to pay off. You see the fruits of your labor.

I found this amazing blog post at MakeYourOwnDamnDinner.com that I loved! It’s called 10 Reasons Being In Your Mid-Thirties Is Fabulous. You’ve got it give it a read and hear what she has to say. My favorite reason the mid-thirties are fabulous is “The Cycle of Friendship.” She writes:

Number 8 – The Cycle of Friendship:
By 35 you’ve cycled through most of your major life milestones with your friends. Graduation, college, marriage, having kids, and maybe even a divorce. By now you know which friends are in it for the long haul and which friends are not. You realize you don’t need 294 friends…you only the core few who have stuck with you through thick and thin.

– Marie of MakeYourOwnDamnDinner.com

She also references a great quote by Wally Lamb, “Being in your mid-thirties brought benefits, I reminded myself. You begin to appreciate tidiness, smallness, things in their place. This is the shape your life has taken.”

I disagreed with one reason – that you may be done with having kids. But, as the author said herself, this reason may not be true for everyone. I imagine I’ll have kids around 36 (fingers crossed), so I won’t be done by then.

To add my own reasons to list:

  • You don’t spend as much time (if any!) with toxic people who bring you down.
  • You have a clearer sense of what makes you happy in life and you don’t spend time on things that don’t.
  • You have your own home and sense of family (even if it means a group of friends)

What would you add to the list?

Would You Live In A Cave Far Away From Everyone?

A lot of people have asked me if I would ever leave New York. My answer is usually ‘no’ but that’s a lie.

My family is here. My friends are here. My stories are here. I travel away from the city all the time, and I only truly feel at home once I’m back in NYC. Because New York City is and has always been my home.

And yet…what if…

I feel like I could possibly be happy living somewhere else. Who knows? Perhaps I just don’t know yet because I haven’t experienced it. Not once in my thirty years have I ever moved anywhere but New York permanently. I’ve studied abroad, and travel more than half of the year, but it’s not the same as truly living in another location.

My really good friend is going through a breakup right now. We’ve been talking about it a lot. We’ve also been talking about being single and all types of challenging experiences that have happened recently. Yesterday, he texted me saying: ” The biggest takeaway for me from this week is that we should go live in a cave far away from everyone.”

It’s a humorous thing to say, and somewhat melancholy, but I think the best humor has both truth and melancholy in it.

“A place to call home” has been a recurring conversation topic for me in the past few weeks. Jane, my amazing co-blogger, has been debating leaving LA for months (years?) and only now has decided that she’s likely going to return to New York this summer. Another one of my friends just moved to San Diego, and is quickly moving back to New York again. I wrote an article on this blog a few months back about my coworker who paid off her whole condo by the time she turned 30! And I recently read an article about a woman in China who has lived in a cave for 3 years surviving on rainwater and rice! (That last article is very strange and also quite melancholy- just a warning.)

And then there’s the just as bizarre tiny home… Have you heard of these? Lately they’ve come up a lot in conversations I’ve had. And I recently read an article about Dee Williams, who lives in a tiny gingerbread house on wheels  (really!) and pays only $8 a month for a single propane heater. She only paid $10,000 for the initial construction of the place. Her mini home is 84 square feet and no larger than a parking spot!

Are you guys happy with where you live? Have you lived in the same city/state/country your whole life or have you moved a lot? Do you feel like the thirties are more of a time to settle down …or is this perhaps a time to spice it up and try somewhere new?

Strangely enough, both Dee Williams with her tiny house and the cave dwelling woman in China say that even with their bizarre living situations, they actually rely on their communities more than ever. Finding a home that’s not in a big city truly doesn’t necessarily equate to being isolated. The cave dweller’s neighbors from local villages frequently bring her offerings to help her out- such as rice to eat, as well as their used coats. Dee Williams said about her tiny home, “”I thought I would be so contained in this little house with no running water. The big surprise, of course, is the smaller you go, the more you absolutely have to lean into your community. It gets smaller and bigger. It gets to be this big, tiny thing, you know?”

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I’m Easily Distant…Even Now

Now that I’m thirty, I feel more comfortable with myself than I’ve ever felt in the past.

I’m eerily familiar with that weird vocal quirk in my voice I’ve had since third grade that people occasionally remind me I still have.

I know exactly what I should eat for breakfast in the morning to keep me going for at least 3 hours and not make me groggy (right now it’s bananas and peanuts butter, and/or a green smoothie plus coffee. It used to be oatmeal). Boring, but necessary for me to know.

Vegetarianism is part of my soul. I can’t imagine eating meat ever again. For now, anyway.

I’ve gone almost platinum blonde kinda by accident since the summer (I suddenly decided to dye my hair myself for the first time, and after much trial error and purple hair it just kinda happened). And I love it. Right now, anyway 😉

When I feel good, I feel really, really good. Overall my life seems to get better and better as I get older- I’ve always felt that way. I’m very much still working at feeling my best more often (I know it’s all waves), and tracking down major life goals that can help me move forward. I really want to master the subtle art of Not Giving A Fuck about unimportant things, which we’ve talked about a lot on this blog….more than once.  However, one of the things I’m really always working on, especially now that I know myself better, is being able to tell others what I need and want…after figuring out what I need and want.

It’s very easy for me to let friends, family, and significant others take the lead and pull me down their path without much resistance from me. I’m very good at going with the flow (something I really know about myself)- and that combined with a dislike of confrontation, an intense empathy for other people’s feelings, and a deep curiosity for other people’s habits and points of view can occasionally leave me feeling swept up in lives that are not my own. I can let others sweep me so far into their lives that I don’t even realize how distant I suddenly feel from myself.

I don’t know if that makes sense exactly or if it feels familiar to any of you. Or if you’ve outgrown this now that you’re in your thirties. But sometimes I’m the polar opposite of the ideal cool and collected thirty-something who doesn’t give a fuck. I used to give so many fucks about what other people thought that my life became a guessing game and I thought I was the ultimate winner of knowing what people wanted. All I cared about was making my favorite people happy and figuring out how to play their game correctly.

I doing so, I would sometimes lose what exactly I wanted and who I wanted to be. With my best friends, this didn’t really happen. But with acquaintances and romantic relationships, I would become distant from myself which would also lead to a certain distance from others. I couldn’t honestly communicate who I was and what I wanted because I myself wasn’t aware of what exactly I wanted. And once I figured it out, it felt scary to tell.

Sometimes that distance returns, even in my thirties. I find myself getting swept up in other people’s lives and dispositions once again, and I lose what I want and start to forget who I am. If I don’t stay in touch with myself by meditating, re-centering, talking to good friends, and expressing what I need, this old habit from the past seems to return.

It’s interesting that even though we can come so far by the time we’re in our thirties, those old traits from our younger days can still seem to be lurking around the corner, waiting for a time to reappear and scare the crap out of us. For now, anyway.

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Those Brief Moments of Brevity In Your Thirties

Today my uncle and little cousin came to visit me at work. I’m working an auto show in Fort Lauderdale for a few days, and they live nearby.

My cousin is 16 and thinking about the colleges he’s going to apply to next year. I know that his parents are kind of freaking out about it. The college application process is a scary thing. My uncle and aunt asked me about my memories of applying to college- specifically about writing the dreaded college essay.

Even though I’m now 30 and the college application process was more than 13 years ago, it all came back to me like a dream…sort of screwy and very vivid. My college applications were nuts- I applied to 12 different colleges and visited all of the campuses. I also wrote over 7 different essays, and took dozens of hours to complete them.

But the hardest part for me was always the editing. The essays were so hard for me to shorten- 650 words tops, and I went over every time. Once I had my essays edited down to total brevity, they were almost unrecognizable- little moments in time that never captured everything I wanted to say.

Thank god I got into NYU and the application torture ended.

But as I was walking over a drawbridge in Florida tonight, I thought about how life is like the editing process. You feel like the years go on and on, but really, in the end, you get to keep only a small collection of memories capturing the briefest essence of what came before. And then your small fragments of memory meander and cut off, vivid and dreamlike, and not exactly what you wanted to say at all.

Every moment is special. Every feeling matters. Live in the now and hold it close before it’s edited down to nothing. Because one day what feels like forever will actually fade and cut off. And our beautiful path will come to an end.

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Would You Volunteer to Die on Mars?

Feeling bored of Earth after more than 30 years here?

Can you live without sex?

If your answer to both of the above questions is yes, perhaps you’d consider going on the trip of a lifetime.

A not-for-profit company called Mars One is currently raising money to send 4 people on a trip to Mars.

Below is a fascinating 10 minute video about some of the selected finalists and why they want to go to Mars.  The interviewed applicants all seem slightly jaded by time so far here on Earth. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons they want off this planet.

Anyone can apply to be a part of the Mars mission- you don’t need any special qualifications other than robust physical health.

There’s only one catch: you can never return. Not ever.

Mars One received over 200,000 applications for their one-way Mars mission and have just narrowed it down to around 700 finalists.

The chosen spacefarers will train for 10 years on Earth before heading to Mars in 2025. Mars One is currently in the process of raising 6 billion dollars for the project- tens if not hundreds of billions less than any manned mission to Mars proposed by NASA.

Here’s what the space-travelers won’t have:

  • Sex! (Intercourse will discouraged because there won’t be supplies to support the arrival of a baby in space.)
  • Connection to friends and family (you think internet is slow here, imagine it 35 million miles away)!
  • Delicious Mac and Cheese (Spacefood will be limited …and cheese, if it exists, will likely be Kraft- making any mac and cheese concoction a lot less delicious.)
  • The ability to travel (once on Mars, you’ve already taken the absolute grand slam of a trip…and you’ve traded in all smaller trips for that one.)
  • Everything else we take for granted here on Earth!

Who knows if the Mars mission will actually happen? But it’s a serious undertaking, a potential reality show, and it’s getting a whole lot of press right now.

It’s funny to think about how we’ll feel if this ever becomes reality. We’ll be like ‘remember when we thought the whole going to Mars thing was never going to happen..or was even impossible?’

But we also have to remember that we’re the generation that grew up without laptops. We used card catalogues. We had land line phones. We lived in a world of no internet! A lot of technological magic was suddenly thrust upon us in our early lives. We understand the reality of really quick changes.

Just imagine all the potential ahead.

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Would you volunteer to die on Mars?

What If I Lived Nowhere?

The Detroit Auto Show is going well…I’m more than halfway through working it. When I return from the show, I’ll have 2 days off in New York and then will leave again for a 10 day show in Philadelphia. When I return from that, I’ll leave again for a 10+ day show in Chicago…and so on and so forth.

I travel a lot for work. I work as a professional speaker and product specialist at tradeshows, conventions and auto shows. I used to think I’d simply book work in New York, and then that expanded to simply booking work in the Northeast, then the East coast, then the entirety of America, and then I even began to occasionally book international work.

The blog I used to write before this one was a blog about travel. I enjoyed traveling for work and sharing tips and tricks about how to travel easier, smoother, and cheaper. Travel is so innately built into my life- I can’t really do my job without it- that it has also accidentally become a major part of my identity.

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So after my ex-boyfriend and I broke up last summer, I thought about living nowhere. It seemed like the absolute right thing for me to do at the absolute right time. It seemed to fit perfectly with who I am. I’m away from home so much anyway that it seemed pointless to pay rent every month. And I even considered blogging about my future nomadic living experience. I actually see a lot of travel bloggers of all ages living nowhere- they put their stuff in storage and just travel for a year or more. Sometimes it’s simply cheaper for them to travel the world than to stay in their city and pay the exorbitant rent prices (cough NYC cough SF cough).

Since I’m thirty, it seemed a bit late to start such a major lifestyle change (complete nomad seemed more of a twenties thing to do), but I was ready for some major changes. It seemed like the right time to live nowhere if I was going to live nowhere.

A few of my coworkers at tradeshows/auto shows were already living the nomadic lifestyle and just traveled from show to show without having any kind of home base. They would occasionally crash on friends’ couches and/or with their parents between shows. Or they’d use their numerous hotel points to practically live at the Hilton or the Marriott. It sounded like a fascinating, yet exhausting, life.

Yet after careful consideration, the exhausting part of it led me in search of a nice, peaceful apartment in New York to call home. Some soul searching lead me to the realization that the glamour of living nowhere didn’t hold a candle to a space that’s all mine.

And I thought about something one of my friends said as I had been weighing my options: “you call living nowhere the ‘nomadic lifestyle’ but some just call it ‘homeless.”

Touché.

I love my new little Queens apartment and cannot be happier. Even though I have to pay rent for it every month. Even though I’m not there right now. Just knowing I have a place to call home lends weight to my otherwise very up in the air lifestyle.

Sometimes something may seem like the absolute right thing to do at the absolute right time. But it may not actually be the right thing at all.

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How To Be a Good Houseguest

Having houseguests can be both fun and stressful. You have to clean the living room and possibly even the toilet (eek)! You have to blow up the air mattress or pull out the fold out bed or put away all that random clothing you’ve stored in the guest room. You possibly have to entertain and cook extra food. It can be a big ordeal even if the person you have coming over is the coolest person ever.

I understand this, and this is why I strive to be The Best Houseguest Ever. I’ve stayed with people A LOT. I’ve also had people stay with me A LOT. Since I’ve traveled for work for the past 8+ years, and am not put up in a hotel every single time, there’s a lot of back and forth going on with me and coworkers/friends/relatives in other cities.

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So here’s my list of top things you can do to be The Best Houseguest Ever as well. I’m sure you’re a very good houseguest already, but in your thirties you might as well be amazing at it 🙂

Best Houseguest Ever Practices:

  1. Thank your host(s) for letting you stay. They’re going out of their way. The very least you can do is genuinely say thank you. They’re being pretty awesome!
  2. Thank them again. I thank them a lot. It’s amazing how important this is and how many people may not do it. (My friends do, so if you’ve stayed with me, it’s all good). 🙂
  3. Be especially nice if there is a husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend/roommate that you don’t know very well or at all. This is HUGE. That person can sometimes feel very left out or weird about the whole thing. Go the extra mile and make sure to thank that person too. Go the extra EXTRA mile and ask that person a question..it could be as simple as ‘how was your day?’ or ‘how was work?’ or as much as a full conversation if they want to chat.
  4. If they make you food, offer to help cook or set the table.
  5. If they make you food, offer to wash dishes. They may decline, but at least you tried.
  6. Be neat and don’t leave stuff everywhere.
  7. Put items back where you found them (such as pots or pans if you cooked).
  8. Keep noise levels down if the hosts are asleep (TV, phone calls, etc).
  9. When you leave, fold the bedsheets if you’re on a pullout or an air mattress.
  10. Give them something back. In order to figure out what to give, lets get very honest:

Are the people you’re staying with not making a ton of money? Are they struggling artists or unemployed? These are important questions because they influence whether the person/people you’re staying with will be happy or insulted if you offer certain repayments. Repayments I’ve used have included:

  • Taking your host(s) out to dinner one night
  • Giving your hosts some grocery money if they’ve cooked for you every day (some people may be insulted by this, but you can feel it out based on the above.)
  • Getting your hosts a bottle of wine or champagne
  • Getting your hosts some other small gift, such as a fancy candle or whatever they seem to like.

Hope this helps you enjoy house-guesting a bit more! Have any more Best Houseguest Ever ideas for this post? I’d love to learn them. Happy travels!

Am I Liable if I Marry Into Debt?

The other day a friend of mine and I were having dinner and she was discussing buying a house with her boyfriend. They’d been together for some time and were hoping to get married within the next few years.

“I’m wondering though,” she said, “if I’ll take on his debt when I marry him. ”

For the last two or three years, the number of people I know who are engaged, about to be engaged, or married has skyrocketed. This definitely corresponds with the thirties- many people hitting their thirties are (possibly) beginning to settle down and find others they want to be with for the rest of their lives. Not everyone, of course, but it’s definitely been a trend.

Which is why I was surprised that I didn’t know the answer- I felt like I’d researched this before, and the answer was no, but I couldn’t be positive. I actually forgot to look up the answer that night and then today Suze Orman just happened to bring it up on her podcast.

For anyone about to be married and wondering about it, the answer is:  NO, YOU WILL NOT LEGALLY INCUR ANY OF YOUR SPOUSE’S DEBT FROM BEFORE YOU WERE MARRIED. (Big sigh of relief!!) If your spouse incurred debt BEFORE you got married, it’s his or her debt ALONE. Of course, you can help with the debt, and some would say that once you’re married you share everything, including debt. But LEGALLY, debt incurred by one spouse before a marriage doesn’t touch the other one. No one is going to come after you for your spouse’s debt, and if they do they are JUST TRYING TO SCARE YOU. 

To avoid all the clarification questions Suze Orman (and all the finance websites I’ve been to) get all the time, I will clarify up front: the debt you’re NOT liable for includes EVERYTHING before marriage. It includes student loan debt, credit card debt, auto loan debt, tax debt, bank loans, EVERYTHING. You’re legally liable for NONE OF IT.

HOWEVER, debt incurred AFTER you get married is totally different. If you get married and your spouse suddenly gets into a lot of debt, that debt will be legally yours too IF you live in what are known as “Community Property States.”

Community-property states include Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin and the territory of Puerto Rico. Alaska also allows married couples to opt in to community-property status. Most people do not :p

If you’re NOT in any of these states, you’re in what’s known as a Common Law state. This means that in general if your spouse gets into debt, you’re not legally responsible. There are exceptions here such as if you open a joint account together and that account goes into collections (obviously, because now BOTH your names are on the account.)

Hope this solves things for any of you newly marrieds or almost-newlyweds! If any of our Canadian, UK, and other international readers would like to weigh in on the policy in your country, I’d love to learn about that (and I’m sure others would too!)

Sorry if this wasn’t the most fun topic ever, but it’s an important one as we head through the thirties. Here’s some funny photos of a flash mob I did once to lighten the mood, haha:

There were 50 of us dressed as brides and we stormed Times Square and took a lot of people by surprise.

There were 50 of us dressed as brides and we stormed Times Square and took a lot of people by surprise.

We were promoting a pretty terrible movie called "The Big Wedding." ;)

We were promoting a pretty terrible movie called “The Big Wedding.” 😉

 

Below are some links for even more details about marriage and debt:

The Simple Dollar: http://www.thesimpledollar.com/financial-infidelity-4-steps-for-healing-marriages-torn-by-finances/

Bankrate- http://www.bankrate.com/finance/debt/wife-not-married-to-spouse-s-old-debts-1.aspx#ixzz3Nzez1PNj

Nolo- http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/debt-marriage-owe-spouse-debts-29572.html

Lifehacker- http://twocents.lifehacker.com/how-to-protect-your-credit-when-you-marry-into-debt-1576458795

 

 

 

Have You Found Yourself Not Going Out Much After You Turned 30?

It’s a funny thing- a day or two before New Years Eve, my roommates asked me if I was going to any kind of party or bar or would watch the ball drop on the big day and I was immediately just like ‘no.’

I didn’t feel at all bad about it. In fact, I didn’t feel one teeny weeny eentsy weentsy bit bad. I was actually relieved. I liked the idea of doing nothing on New Years Eve.

And both of them agreed. ‘No one seems to be doing anything for New Years,’ they said happily. They both had no particular plans- one of them was going to a friends house where they’d have some wine, but that was it. It was almost a gleeful realization- we don’t necessarily have to do anything for New Years and we’re still happy.

I actually ended up working a small but well-paying event on New Years Eve and then spending the rest of the night (the last 15 minutes of 2014) with my mom. We stayed in and watched the ball drop on tv. It was peaceful.

At first I thought it was a ‘being single on New Years Eve’ thing but that didn’t seem to be it at all. Many of my other friends who were in relationships or even married had a similar experience. ‘I stayed in. It was nice.’ was the most popular answer to the New Years Eve question.

And I wondered, ‘does this come with the territory of the 30s?’

For me, it doesn’t really have anything to do with the 30s. It started in my 20s. I’ve never been a huge clubber. I love house parties and chill bars, and can definitely throw back a few drinks, but even when I was 21, I was never a major partier. But perhaps it’s easier to admit that in the 30s.

Our awesome blogger friend Karen over at Confetti and Curves (she’s a sweetheart and has an incredible beauty blog) interviews other bloggers all the time with multiple questions- but my favorite is always: Describe your ideal Saturday night. The answers are just about always in favor of staying in, or going out but keeping things chill:

“At the ripe old age of 32, I’d rather spend the night in then go out. My Husband and I may just go to the bookstore and hang out, play video games, and order take out. I like to keep it low key since my weeks between school and work are so hectic.” -Jamie, http://www.sincerelymissdesign.com

Casual dinner and a movie out (with a GIANT bucket of buttered popcorn), followed by relaxing on the couch with more TV. (I love TV, what can I say?)” –Amber, https://amberunglamor.wordpress.com/ (I love this answer!)

“Pyjamas + Duvet + My Boyfriend + Chinese takeaway = Perfect Night in.” -Amy, www.blondeamy.wordpress.com

“Takeaway, a great film & a bottle of Prosecco.” -Laura, www.littlelauras.com

“On an ideal Saturday night, the kids are getting along with each other and agree to help me clean up our messes before we all sit down and watch a movie together.” -Ashley, www.phytopretty.com

“A night in with food, comfort and a good conversation.” -Hajara, https://chocolatefrosst.wordpress.com

And the list goes on. It’s fascinating.

Sometimes I wonder- Is it just more acceptable now to stay in more often than go out? Are people just more comfortable admitting it when they’re older? Or does it just seem like a trend to me but actually isn’t one at all?

Are you guys going out less in your 30s? And are you happy about it? Or do you feel like you’re missing out?

Or are you out partying right this second and way too drunk to even read this post? It is Friday night, after all.

2013-12-31 23.49.25

Last year I actually did go to a party on New Years Eve with some coworkers in Indianapolis (we traveled there for work). After working all day, it ended up being lot of fun after all. For sure, staying in isn’t always the best answer 😉

Giving Advice In Your Thirties

Hope you’ve all had a restful Boxing day! Boxing Day doesn’t exist in the US, but is officially a day after Christmas bank holiday in the UK, Hong Kong, Canada, South Africa, and many other places around the world- and I know we have some awesome readers from these places who know all about this 🙂 Random trivia- the name ‘boxing day’ comes from when servants and tradesman would get their boxed Christmas gifts from their employers and managers the day after Christmas.

Anyway, this post started out as a short note about socks.

I was remembering when I was a child and would get upset about getting socks as a gift. Then adults would say to me: “when you’re older, you’ll appreciate getting socks!

Of course, I was positive they were wrong. But on my 30th Christmas, I received not one, but 6 pairs of socks. And I was overjoyed! I needed them! And I appreciated the pajamas I got too! And the scarf! Which I definitely could have cared less about earlier in life.

Which I guess means I’m a real adult now. 😉

image (5)

But anyway, as you may know, sometimes even though you’re officially an adult, you may not feel like an adult- especially when it comes to giving advice.

In the past, I’ve shied away from giving advice about money, even while I’ve been in the thick of paying off my student loans. I’m quite good at paying down debt (as evidenced by my major decline in student loan money owed, thank god) and I’ve spent hours and hours researching best ways to pay them down. However I’ve felt like there were people better qualified than me to give financial assistance.

And there are. But that doesn’t mean that people are going to find them. And that doesn’t mean I’m not at all qualified to give any advice- after all, I’m an adult. So I’ve tried my best to help people when they ask.

During Christmas, my younger brother Scott and my little cousin Justin were sitting together at one point, both playing on their phones and Nintendo 3DS’. My cousin (a junior in high school) suddenly started opening up about how he felt slightly pressured into choosing a certain major and how he wasn’t sure where he really wanted to go to college.

My brother, who’s 26, put down his game and gave Justin some advice. First, he asked Justin a bunch of questions. He inquired where Justin really wanted to go to school and what he was actually interested in studying. Then he told Justin to follow his heart but also to research everything. He said to be conscious of the money involved (my brother also knows all about student loans), but not to base the decision solely on money. It was a sweet moment.

I have no idea if my brother’s advice will have any influence on my cousin’s decision. But it made me think about how advice in general doesn’t have to come from an expert. And it doesn’t have to come at special scheduled times. Sometimes you’ll be asked for advice during holidays or at totally random moments. Feel confident that you’re adult enough to share whatever you’ve learned so far in life. You never know how much you’ll help someone.

How to Be Away From Home For The Holidays

I was away from my family this Thanksgiving…and the last one too.

Then last Christmas was spent at an airport, watching people with large wrapped gifts excitedly take the cheapest flight to see their families, while I headed away from mine. And last Valentines Day night consisted of 2000 miles between me and my boyfriend at the time- he spent the night with cocktails in New York, I spent it with a rather large plate of Mexican food in Spokane, Washington. New Years Eve went down working a tradeshow in Indianapolis.

Valentines Day with some Spokane Washington style Mexican rice

Valentines Day with some Spokane Washington style Mexican rice

My brother’s birthday, my dad’s birthday, my own birthday, my best friend’s birthday- I was away for them all. I had to turn down work a year in advance in order to make it to a friend’s wedding.

My job takes me all over the United States, and I love it. But more and more, the work falls on holidays. It can be isolating to be away from family during Thanksgiving or Christmas or both….these are holidays all about family and it’s sad to shake the tradition. Holidays break up the year into familiar pieces… Christmas spent at grandma’s, Thanksgiving spent with parents, New Years Eve with friends. It’s jarring to realize that I can’t rely on that anymore.

Last year, I cried when I realized I’d be working away from home on Christmas and Thanksgiving. My family was really upset. My friends and boyfriend at the time were disappointed. I felt like I’d let all my favorite people down.

But I couldn’t let myself down. I needed to work. So I got through the holidays as best I could. I had a mock Thanksgiving with friends days before I left for Phoenix, Arizona. I took the latest flight out on Christmas day in order to have Christmas ‘brunch’ at my parents house before having to run. I celebrated New Years Eve back in New York weeks after the actual day. There was a lot of rescheduling, shifting of holiday dates, and apologies…a lot of celebrations with coworkers in cities far away from home.

Does it get easier to be away from home for the holidays? Yes and no. I feel more comfortable with it this year, but it’s still trying. If you end up being away from family for the holidays due to work, financial obligations, scheduling, or otherwise, here are some strategies I’ve used to help get through it:

  • Reschedule the holiday for when you can be with your family, don’t skip it if you can- you’d be surprised how Thanksgiving can still be fun in December.
  • Celebrate the holiday twice- if you’re away from home with friends, roommates, or coworkers, celebrate with them as best you can the day of. Try not to be alone on the holiday- it can be depressing. Ask around- there are lots of other people who can’t make it home and celebrate the holidays with friends and/or coworkers
  • Know you’re not alone- even though it seems like everyone’s with family for the holidays, lots of people can’t make it home.

The holidays can become even more important to you when you don’t take them for granted. Being away from home for the holidays really makes me appreciate the time I have with my family, and makes me love the holiday season even more.

New Years Eve in Indianapolis with my coworkers ended up being pretty awesome.

New Years Eve in Indianapolis with my coworkers ended up being pretty fun after all.

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