spring clean up your life, vol 24

My new year now starts in Spring. It’s the best time. Listen to me, OK? Winter was a bummer, but Spring gives me Marie Kondo level joy. (Are we still talking about that show???). I’ve been thinking a lot about the ebbs and flows of my life based on the time of year. I notice routines I’ve put into place as the seasons change that do wonders for my mental health. Spring brings that special something that makes me excited to dig deep. To deep clean my spaces, reorganize, reflect, plan, celebrate, and get the fuck outside.

Here’s what I did this Spring to help me get my shit together!

Deep Cleaning
Your oven is gross and you gotta wash that shower curtain every once in a while. Also, it’s time to take a magic eraser to that six month old curry stain on your white cabinets. Did you know you should own MULTIPLE pairs of sheets? I didn’t even wash the SINGLE pair I had! I think Jennifer Lawrence showed us all that cleaning never has to be boring again.

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Fix or Replace
Everything has a lifespan. I REFUSED to get rid of my quilt I’ve had for ten years. I replaced it, but I’m also having my friend mend it. Writing is a scared tradition, and I’ve been doing it from a shitty wooden chair for the last two years. It’s broken and uncomfortable, but it was free. Guess who is writing from the comfort of a cushy ass chair now? We deserve nice things.

Maintenance Plan
I work in maintenance so I get super nerdy about this. Have you ever thought about how everything you own needs to be MAINTAINED? Take stock of your favorite possessions. How do you care for them? Oil your wooden tools and furniture! Put air in your car tires! Take your typewriter in for a tuneup! Make a plan for caring for things. It’s the responsible adult thing to do.

Simplify
This is not an understatement – I am aware of every single item that I own. If I own something, it has a specific purpose. “Things” and clutter stress me the fuck out. I try and live as minimal as possible, and simplify whenever I can. What haven’t you used all year? What do you have stored away? Goodwill is your friend.

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Make Your Space
I am a firm believer in creating spaces you want to cozy up in. I usually take this time to add a few new decorations or tchotchkes. Something as simple as fresh flowers or a candle. I always take it five steps further and move furniture around or take on a new organizing project. This is the time to get excited over small plastic bins that fit your rice spoon like a dream. WE ONLY HAVE THIS ONE LIFE.

Self-Care
I let my hair get darker in the Fall and Winter so that when Spring rolls around I can get my hair lightened and be PHYSICALLY lighter. I’m a genius, I know. Other than that, I dunno. When is the last time you had a massage? WAIT, or saw your dentist? Sorry, dentist is first! Schedule that shit!

Creative Dates
What are some lingering projects on your dreams list? I had to step away from the Pinterest-ing so that I could start actually DOING. I find I am the most inspired in Spring to catch up on my creative projects. Things like planning my cooking club, writing my pen pals, and developing photos. Or even starting new projects! I call these dates because I do my damnedest to schedule them as so.

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What do you do to refresh in Spring?
xo

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how to survive a breakup clickbait, vol 23

I SURVIVED MY FIRST ADULT BREAKUP! I did whatever I needed to do to support myself and get through that shit show. Which means feeling all the feelings. Breakups fucking suck, period. You’re grieving the loss of a whole person that is no longer in your life in a very specific way. No sense in pretending like it’s not a BFD, y’all.

Are you going through a breakup? Here’s what helped me! Also, never listen to me because I learn everything the hard way!

First, CRY. It’s healthy! And good for your skin…? What better time to watch unrealistic rom-coms and ugly cry about your new single life? I found inner peace hysterically cry-laughing at one of my favorite movies, Silver Linings Playbook, and yelling, “YEAH YA JERK, YOU ARE NOT A STAND UP GUY!!!”.

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Let people support you! Invite your friends over to make food! Then, make them cook while you sit on the floor sobbing and repeat the same story for the hundredth time!!! Eat absolutely NONE of the food they cooked because you’re depressed AF!

Keep talking as much as you want to about your breakup to anyone who will listen. PRO TIP: Ask if they have the mental capacity to listen to you before you treat your friends and family like therapists! You are so being so extra during this breakup and you knowww it!

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Are you angry? Be nice enough so that you can get your shit back before you unleash the kraken. There is never a need for a favorite sweater casualty!

Impulsive Amazon purchases are totally fine for the next 48 hours! You NEED that fancy personal smoothie blender for this new chapter of your life gurl!!!

Consider the “NO CONTACT” breakup rule. Try to follow this rule. Download a countdown app to track thirty days of no contact. Keep resetting the clock because you HAVE to send that shitty email. Make it to day twelve until something stupid happens. Break the chain because you reallllly need to send that “Bye, Felicia” gif. THAT WILL SHOW THEM.

Some breakups are amicable. Some are…not. Do you need revenge? OK! Get revenge if you need it, but, have some dignity! Only do things you’re willing to tell your therapist or the authorities about! If you go this route, you MUST be willing to field messages from acquaintances who saw that fake tinder profile you posted of your ex! And don’t actually slash their tires, fools! Just tell them you did for effect and to laugh at the thought of them running outside to check! It will make them so mad they will call you, “a damn fruitcake!“.

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Get rid of everything sentimental, or things that remind you of them. I gave my friend a box that included a magnet, slippers, sushi rice, and one polaroid photo. This made me laugh because I realized I had NOTHING sentimental to get rid of. I am the most sentimental person ever so why did I even date this person ???

OK, you can think about cutting your hair, BUT DO NOT CUT YOUR OWN HAIR. This is one thing I have finally learned my lesson on. Every DIY haircut has always left me looking like Lloyd Fucking Christmas.

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If you need change, try throwing away all your old underwear and going to Victoria’s Secret for the first time since high school! Walk through the mall being absolutely mortified at what you are doing!

Take some time for yourself to rediscover who you are without this person. Get the hell outta dodge if you can! Cry on the phone to your mom until she buys you a ticket to Florida. That always works for me!

…and finally, when you are ready, whatever the fuck that means, start dating again! Revamp your old online dating profile and immediately start crying because you remember how awful it was. Try anyways!

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Whew, I am beyond grateful to be on the other side of that breakup. I always say this, but life is weird. I’ve only met the sweetest dudes from online dating since then, and one of them is actually my boyfriend! How did that happen? I guess I just had to wait for that “nice Jewish boy” everyone talks about.

If you’re going through a breakup, you’re gonna get through this. Give yourself time. Sometimes things don’t work out and that’s OK. Soon it will all be a distant memory. As the wise philosopher Gotye once said…”Now you’re just somebody that I used to know“.

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xo

a winter breakup, vol 22

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” – Anne Lamott

I was in a relationship for eight months that ended over the holidays, but officially…a week ago. With the support of my dear friends, family, and therapy, I’ve been able to see it for what it was. I share the following because that’s the promise I made to myself when I started this blog. I also share because I know how many people out there suffer from this same sort of relationship dynamic. You are not alone.

Here is what I know. I dated the person they told me they were. Someone who had ended an almost decade long relationship two years ago. Someone who processed and healed from that relationship. Someone unemployed, but in school. Someone without addiction problems. Someone ready for a serious relationship.

None of this turned out to be true. I made exceptions and rationalized many situations, but when I realized this…it was too late for me. I had attached myself to him. His behaviors early on created the belief we would have a healthy relationship. It makes sense why there was lying – I wouldn’t have dated him if I knew the truth. Or, would I have? He is a good person. I just wanted the choice.

Being lied to and deceived by someone you think you love is a situation no one prepares for. I never expected to be here. The biggest conflict with deceit is between the head and the heart – what we know and what we feel. They often don’t match up and can cause a lot of stress, confusion, and frustration.

If I have confirmed anything about myself, it’s that I am anxious. My anxious attachment was less concerned that something was wrong, and more concerned I fix the problem to stay together. It should have been a red flag that my anxiety was acting up. That I constantly felt compared to an old relationship(s) and I wasn’t allowed to be my own person with feelings. I was experiencing a build up of hurt, frustration, blame, shame, and more too early on in the relationship. I stopped trusting myself.

I allowed myself to become my WORST self in many situations. I exhibited a lot of unhealthy behaviors that I take full responsibility for. I am never entitled to invade someone else’s privacy. I cannot control other people’s actions. How someone chooses to prioritize their time is their right. You cannot change people, no matter how good your intentions may be.

But hey, I forgive myself. I forgive him. No one is evil here. The cycle of shame will destroy you if you let it.

That still doesn’t mean that lying is ever OK. That doesn’t mean you can’t challenge people’s behavior. Lies are never told for your benefit. Lying in relationships deprives a person of freedom of choice and informed action. Lying violates your partner’s right to make their own decision about whether this behavior is acceptable or not.

Healthy relationships are possible. They exist. Healthy means you recognize you are building something together. You are two different people. You have two different life experiences. You are entering something with two different sets of wants and needs. If you can understand and respect that – you are so ahead of the game.

I’ll end this with a reminder to YOU (and me, of course). You deserve a partner who cares about and respects your feelings. One who considers their choices and how they’ll affect you. One who takes responsibility when they hurt you. It never feels good to hear you’ve hurt someone! We are human and make mistakes. That discomfort NEVER gives anyone the right to refuse to acknowledge their behavior. We have to take responsibility for the decisions we make in this life.

I am. I hope you can too. Never let someone steal your light or take advantage of how much you have to give. You are more powerful and magical than you’ll ever fucking believe!

xo

you have something to offer, vol 21

*This post is part of a project for Trade School Coop, a co-op I organized from 2012-2017 that will have a book published June 2019!

Many years ago as a nineteen year old bored to death in Indiana, I signed up for a food swap. The idea intrigued me. You make food and trade it for other homemade food, what’s not to love? The day quickly came, and I hadn’t made anything. What do I have to offer? Nothing came to mind. My skills in the kitchen were lackluster. I had no business attending a food swap other than I loved food. I was mixing lavender buds and crushed pineapple for some sort of drink an hour before the swap.

I showed up, ashamed of my creation, setting out mason jars of this sad “juice”. I had walked into a community of makers and I felt very out of place. These were people who knew what they had to offer. Fresh produce they grew from their garden. A family pie recipe. Preservation and canning masters showing off their pickling skills. The packaging, the details, the intricacy of it all…I was intimidated. I was excited.

At the end of the event, swappers made quick announcements. Someone mentioned a project they were starting called Trade School Indy. This idea also intrigued me. You attend classes and trade goods and services with your teacher rather than pay money? What? I went home with most of my “juice” that day, but also a promise to myself that I would follow this newfound curiosity.

The idea of bartering for knowledge stayed with me. I connected with Blaire, the organizer, and asked if I could volunteer for Trade School. She said she needed people to teach a class. Anyone could teach a class. What do I have to offer? Nothing came to mind. She said I could help organize classes instead.

On my twentieth birthday, I celebrated at Trade School. Blaire had organized a class on making natural cordage. We learned how to make rope with hair by a survivalist expert that now has a show called “Fat Guys in the Woods”. People brought him large yucca plant stalks in exchange for his knowledge. It was one of the best birthdays I’ve had.

I spent the next five years organizing Trade School and asking myself that same question…“What do I have to offer?”. When we take money away, what’s left? Barter allowed me to explore that question in a unique way because it focused on what I already had. It also allowed me room to grow. “What do I have to offer?”, turned into, “What do I WANT to offer?”.

Thinking about our offerings, what we have and what we want to be able to give, sets us on a path of generosity. I wanted to be able to offer others knowledge, good food, hospitality, and a helping handy hand. What I never realized was I already had enough to offer. That we all have so much more to offer one another than we realize. That our most important offerings exist outside of the traditional economy. Time, skills, knowledge, connections, resources, friendship, support.

I have attended over 200 Trade School classes on topics from cheese making to jazz music, creative writing to building computers, constitutional law to cuddling. A lot of teachers asked for nothing more than a hug or a joke. While they often left with more – food, beer, small gifts – the desire to connect was what brought many of us in a room to learn from one another.

So…what do I have to offer? Too much comes to mind now. I can teach you how to unclog your sink, change a bike tire, or hang just about anything. I can make you a home-cooked meal or bake you a three layer cake. I can help you organize an event or declutter a room. I can share my passion of letter writing and homesteading. If none of that appeals, I can always offer you friendship, a hug, or a listening ear.

I often wonder how many lives would be changed if more people were told they had something to offer. That they mattered. That they had something valuable to contribute to their community and relationships.

I know it changed mine.

slow & mindful holidays, vol 20

I finished reading a book called SLOW. Basically, it’s a book for crazy people who keep hearing the term “mindfulness” and are curious because mindfulness is something that people say makes you feel less…crazy. I know there is truth to this. Mindfulness, in its simplest form, is PAYING ATTENTION. I’ve done a lot of things under the mindfulness category that I attribute to living a healthier life. Things like…

  • decluttering
  • buying less bullshit
  • taking regular social media and technology breaks
  • practicing solitude
  • being creative
  • doing nature things
  • exercising
  • putting away the damn phone around other people

…yet true mindfulness still seems out of grasp. I am still a deadly combination of anxiety and depression. I am still overwhelmed and trying to love myself. I still react and live in my own head. I still avoid responsibilities and fear confrontation. All this shows itself in my relationships with myself, my partner, my friends, my family. I spend a lot of time ugly crying and it’s not pretty, ya feel?

I’m ready for the moment I don’t dread the sound of another day and can engage with the world in the way I want to. How do I get there? I have to pay attention. Reading books like SLOW remind me that growth is good, but contentment might be better. Trying to be better…all the damn time? Exhausting. The perfect person? We all know they just don’t fucking exist.

I am learning. Learning that not everything has to be so rigid. Will the world end if I don’t change my toothbrush every three months? Sometimes it feels that way. I could get an infection! But, bacteria! And that’s just how rigid I am about a toothbrush…

lost-in-translation

It’s the holidays. I want to go slow. I deleted all my reminders on my phone. My to-do lists. This is akin to what I imagine abandoning a religion is like. I don’t know who I am without a list of things governing my life and days. Not every day is going to be my perfect ideal day. I’ll have to learn that balance must be fluid and flexible. That I can’t do everything and be everywhere. That being organized is great, but rigidity is problematic. I want to experiment on giving up on the unrealistic scrolls of to-dos, and just…BE.

Contentment feels like peace. Dear lawd, I need some inner peace these days. No competition, no constant striving to be better, no unrealistic expectations. Of course, I still desire improvement and crave change. But, I want to learn to appreciate the beauty of those changes happening slowly, gradually.

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Who knows, you might see me practicing deep breathing and meditation soon. For now, though, I’m going to focus on paying attention. I’m gonna enjoy the holidays with my cute AF boyfriend and do lots of cheesy couple things. MAY YOU GO SLOW & PAY ATTENTION, friends. Happy holidays!

heartbreak, vol 19

There are no GIFS in this post. I just needed to write words. I hope you forgive me…

What I often forget is that a lot of us are tragic, complicated, messy human beings. It’s a miracle if we can keep it all together. I have never been someone who pretends that I can.

I know that I will not find the answers to life in a book or under the covers or googling HELP ME on my phone. Sometimes I convince myself I can. Sometimes that seems easier than putting yourself out there and living. Living hurts. Like a motherfucker. But then I remind myself that I can make the choice to feel everything…or feel nothing at all. I choose everything.

My last post about my summer of love reminded me how I was struggling to understand myself in a relationship. I was in a new world. One where I realized I had learned how to manage my demons as a single person…but now I had this other person in my life.

Where am I now? Heartbroken yet hopeful. Hopeful for what? I’m not sure. But these words meant a lot to me…

“Heartbreak is unpreventable; the natural outcome of caring for people and things over which we have no control…

Heartbreak begins the moment we are asked to let go but cannot, in other words, it colors and inhabits and magnifies each and every day; heartbreak is not a visitation, but a path that human beings follow through even the most average life.

Heartbreak is an indication of our sincerity: in a love relationship, in a life’s work, in trying to learn a musical instrument, in the attempt to shape a better more generous self. Heartbreak is the beautifully helpless side of love and affection and is an essence and emblem of care…

Heartbreak has its own way of inhabiting time and its own beautiful and trying patience in coming and going.

Heartbreak is how we mature; yet we use the word heartbreak as if it only occurs when things have gone wrong: an unrequited love, a shattered dream…but heartbreak may be the very essence of being human, of being on the journey from here to there, and of coming to care deeply for what we find along the way.

There is almost no path a human being can follow that does not lead to heartbreak.”

David Whyte on the True Meaning of Friendship, Love, and Heartbreak

In times where everything feels like shit, one of the only things that makes me feel better is to know where I’m going. What I’m working towards, how I am growing as a person, what I have to get excited about.

…and friends, this IS a time where everything does feel like shit. If you’re reading this, please reach out and say hello. I could use some support and stupid yet witty, relevant GIFS about being a sad, struggling twenty something WHO HAS NO IDEA WHAT SHE IS DOING.

I said I would never give up on love and dating. I was finally in my first adult relationship after almost a year of failed online dating. I fell in love. I made mistakes. I listened to my feelings. I tried to ask for what I needed.I also became self-aware about behaviors I never considered. It is true that you can only know certain things about yourself by being in a relationship. That is something to always be grateful for, no matter how things turn out.

My relationship has taught me a lot. I’ve taken the first steps in starting therapy for my anxiety and general WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING feeling I carry around with me most days. Wish me luck.

Thank you for being here. Writing gives me a sense of community. I feel loved, seen, understood, and appreciated. That means everything to me.

to put in the work, vol 18

I often feel defeated, tired, worried, and…sore. Not from anything in particular, but from the mere act of living. You have to wake up, and move, and breathe, and think, and talk to people. It’s exhausting. All this to say it’s too easy for me to give up on life and throw my hands in the air whilst screaming, “NOTHING MATTERS SO WHAT IS THE POINT???“.

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But, I have this other side of me. The side that can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my dumb little life. One that understands everything matters. That waking up is a beautiful goddamn gift from the universe. That having a body that moves is not something to take for granted. That breathing and thinking are intrinsic and fascinating things human beings do. And people? They’re not so bad. Sometimes they say nice things to you and feed you snacks.

Grateful for life Brittany shows up more than existential Brittany. But existential Brittany is very much real and needs reminders about the beauty of life.

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I am reading Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World by Brooke McAlary. She writes about the concept of putting in the work for yourself. About uncovering your “Why” and establishing your personal philosophy, values, and priorities. I enjoy books that ask questions of you. I like to think about what inspires me and what I stand for. The things that move me deep in my core. These are the reminders I need to remember what matters to me.

Someone asked me the other day how I got to a point where I could share about myself online. I didn’t have a good answer. Now I know. I can share online because I DID put in the work and it changed my life. I put in a shit ton of work on things that I struggled with. All that work allows me to be here, now, sharing what I’ve learned in hopes that it can help other people.

And holy shit, I’ve struggled and still do struggle. With body positivity, my relationship with food, eating disorders, loving myself. Communicating my needs and understanding my needs are valid. Managing anxiety and depression. Understanding how codependency, guilt, shame, and conflict avoidance show up in my life. Being a good partner with healthy mindsets around intimacy and trust. I mean, everything is totally fine…

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But I can deal with this (now) because of the work I did and the things that inspired me. Everyone’s work will look different. Mine was A LOT of writing and reading and answering tough questions about myself. Moving to a new state and changing careers. Showing up in the kitchen to cook and bake. Creating this personal blog. Rebuilding my relationships with friends and family. Finding an exercise, like boxing, that excited me. Learning to apologize and communicate. Simplifying my life by decluttering and minimizing. Accepting that routines, order, and cleanliness bring me peace. Building a personal environment that feels sacred and comfortable and brings me joy.

A lot of this work started with reading. I read everything I could that I thought would help or give me new perspectives to work with. Here are some of my favorites. It’s a mix of self-help, psychology, and memoirs. Maybe they will speak to you the same way they did to me.

There is so much work left to do. There might always be work to do. That miiiiiiight just be the point to life? To work and grow and learn and love? I dunno, but we’re in this together, and I’m super stoked to be here with you!