Some Big Life Changes + How I Feel About Turning 25

Madison Capitol Sunset Tree Light

Today is my birthday and, to be honest, I’m starting out 25 in a bit of weird place: I recently left my job after a year and a half and am moving back to Chicago. I’m still in Madison until I find someone to sublet my apartment and am going back and forth in a kind of limbo in the meantime.

I’m pretty nervous about the future right now because to be totally honest I don’t really have a plan. I have a few smaller projects in social media and writing that I’m working on, but I don’t have a full-time job lined up. I’m not positive about what I want to do and want to give myself some time to explore and I really knew that what I was doing wasn’t working

I’m sure some of you are rolling your eyes or think that I’m stupid for leaving a good job for essentially nothing (and trust me, I get you), but despite my misgivings I know that leaving my job was the best decision for me. It was so much more than “I’m not happy” or “I don’t like the work”. I became jumpy and had trouble sleeping. I wound up in therapy. I had my first panic attack. I couldn’t understand how I was so miserable because I was doing “the right thing”, but my anxiety and depression were turning my life upside down.

I think I would have run into some of these challenges no matter what – going from the cushy liberal arts life into the real world is always going to be a rude awakening – but I knew that something was really wrong. The things I loved most about myself were shutting down – my curiosity, my creativity, my love for travel and meeting new people – and I was becoming a numb version of myself. I was coping and pushing through the stress, but I could see myself slipping away.

Eventually I knew I had to get out. Doing what I was “supposed” to do wasn’t worth it anymore because it was obviously not what I was supposed to do. But it was so hard to leave, so much harder than I thought it would be. I felt like an idiot for leaving. I felt like I couldn’t hack it. I felt like a failure. But I eventually I realized that I was more of a failure if I continued to let a stupid job suck the life out of me. It’s just a job. I can start over.

So here I am, turning 25, starting over.

It doesn’t feel good yet, but I know it will. I can feel my muscles starting to relax a little bit. I’ve stopped having dreams about spreadsheets and customer calls. I read a book. I still feel guilty and untethered, but I’m moving forward. I’m learning how to structure my time. I’m channeling my energy into writing and running and cooking. I’m learning how to feel productive on my own terms.

Because, at the end of the day, I love working. And I think that’s what surprised and confused me the most. I’ve always been a bit of a workaholic. Sleeping 5 hours a night in high school, double majoring in college, doing my masters degree in one year. I have always pushed myself and chosen the hardest path. So what made this experience different?

Honestly, I’m not sure and perhaps I’ll never really be sure. I’ve definitely learned a lot about myself and what I’m looking for in a job – I love working with a small team of friends, I need a balance of creative and business work, I want to feel connected to the real world, I want to help empower women – but I think it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what made me feel so helpless and awful during this last year and a half.

I think what matters now is looking ahead. I didn’t really plan to do a whole sob-story post about this, especially for my birthday, but part of looking ahead for me is just being honest about my life. I’ve found it really exhausting hiding this from everyone. The next several months are going to be unpredictable and could end up being even worse than this job – who knows – but I’d rather lean into it than shy away from it.

Long story short: I don’t know what I’m doing with my life and I’m (sort of) okay with that. I think I want to travel. I definitely want to write more. I’ll definitely be writing more on this blog. I’m kicking around the idea of writing a book. I’m taking each day as it comes and am trying to be kind to myself. It’s been a hell of year and I can’t say that I’m sad to see 24 go.

I know 25 will bring its own challenges, but I’m ready.

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The Complexity of Choice in “Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng

Everything I Never Told You Celeste Ng Shoes Brick

Everything I Never Told You Celeste Ng Shoes Brick

I picked up Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng expecting a popular thriller. What I got was a beautiful, dark, intersectional portrait of American womanhood.

The other day, I popped by my favorite local bookstore here in Madison, A Room of One’s Own, for something new. I came in with a few titles in mind, but, alas, nothing was in. As I browsed, I picked up Everything I Never Told you – I’d seen it all over Instagram and knew Ng had another book out that was pretty popular, too. I was looking for something quick, so this thin, self-described page-turner seemed to do the trick.

I don’t often get stuck into books from the beginning, but I was tearing through it from page one. The language is soft and dreamlike for a murder mystery and the narrative floats from one member of the Lee family to the next. The plot turns subtly and folds over itself to create a full picture of the family. Sometimes the events are predictable, but the voice is nuanced and driving so the plot feels rich instead of archetypal. It’s the kind of book that hovers around you like a mist for a few days after you finish it.

It seemed timely that I read the book last week during International Women’s Day because so much of what I loved about it is the way it portrays the complexity of several generations of women (and yeah, I know how cliché it is to call depictions of women ~complex~). It’s not a simple feminist tale of “she was faced with adversity and overcame it” – the women in this novel struggle. They are imperfect people working through their own trauma, their community’s racism, and the pressures of liberation and conformity in nuanced ways that are so recognizable it hurts. I’ve been thirsty for female characters who are flawed and brilliant and difficult and this book delivered.

What hit home for me the most, though, is the way this book beautifully captures the pain of falling into a stereotype. Ng’s character Marilyn is a promising scientist who dreams of becoming a doctor, but after meeting her husband in college and getting pregnant she leaves school to become a mother and wife, just as Marilyn’s traditional housewife of a mother always advised her. Although Marilyn always wishes to pursue her education again, she leaves her dreams behind for her family even if it means becoming a stereotype that she spent her whole life pushing against. Something about her situation panged my heart – the pain of letting your dream of trailblazing go for another life that brings you joy, but isn’t as recognizably “feminist”.

Of course there’s so much going on in Marilyn’s case and it’s pretty clear she never lets it go, but her struggle to become something more than a stereotype really struck me. There have been moments when I have made decisions that were best for me, but were seen as “stereotypically feminine” by others. I studied the arts in school, I moved in with a boyfriend after college, I like to cook and have a clean domestic space. I know myself well enough now to know that these are simply parts of who I am, but I have also faced criticism from others and myself that I am failing by falling into a traditional female role – that I am somehow not really a feminist because I am doing something “stereotypically feminine”. It’s complicated both in my life and in the book, but there was something about Marilyn’s chagrin at feeling like a stereotype that felt too real and has left me reeling since I put the book down.

I definitely recommend picking this one up, if you haven’t already – I just lent it to my mom and plan on sending it to a friend. There’s so much in it, especially for a book that’s under 300 pages: discussions of race and class, generational models of feminism, the rewriting of memory, the passing down of trauma, criticisms of homogenous suburban culture. It’s layered and excellent and difficult. It is not a heartwarming book, but it is gripping and poetic. One of my new favorites for sure.

If you’re in a reading mood, check out some of my other books posts: Year of Yes, Big Little Lies, Modern Lovers, and a list of my all time favorites.

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Some New (And Old) Goals for March: Resolutions 2018

Resolutions from February

Here’s a recap of what I focused on in February, if you’re interested:

Don’t look at my phone first thing in the morning. Success! I thought this one would be harder, but I actually found it pretty peaceful to leave my phone on my nightstand as I went about the rest of my morning. I got out the door faster, too, since I wasn’t getting sucked into the Instagram-vortex first thing.

Scroll through Instagram less. I feel like I half-way did this? To be honest, I’ve just been a lot busier this month, so I haven’t had the same kind of downtime to dick around on my phone. I still feel like I waste a good amount of time on social media, but I think the way to counteract that is to give myself more proactive goals – focusing on doing more of something instead of saying I’ll do less. Going to try a different approach this month.

Stick to my editorial calendar. This is another one I can improve on. It’s hard finding a balance between wanting to consistently post on here, but also making sure I post things that I care about and I really want to talk about! I’ve loved writing the commentary-style posts I did this month (here and here) and want to do more of those in the future. I also have few bigger posts I’ve been working on coming soon, so I’m excited about blog stuff this month and think that’ll help keep me more consistent.

Meditate. I tried the Headspace app this month and I like the actual act of meditating a lot. I just haven’t figured out where it fits into my life. I tried it at various times throughout the day – in my morning routine, on my lunch break at work, right before bed – and nothing really seemed to stick. It’s become a great tool to have in my toolkit, but I’m not sure if I’ll actively keep trying to work it in this coming month. It’s nice to have the option when I can’t sleep or am feeling particularly overwhelmed, though.

Overall: I feel less confident about my resolutions for February than I think I did for January. We’re definitely out of New Years Resolutions season, though, and into normal life, so I’m not super surprised that they slipped a little. Also, I’ve had an insane month with a lot unexpected personal and work stress, so I’m trying to be understanding with myself. Self care, y’all!

 

Resolutions for March

With that said, though, I’m so ready for March! I love March because it’s my birthday month and it sort of feels like a second chance to start fresh. Hopefully that spirit will also kick start my resolutions for the month!

Read more. Bringing this one back from January! I definitely fell back onto watching TV and trolling social media more this month, so bringing back my push to read more seems appropriate. Just picked up this book today and I’m already super into it – fingers crossed it gets me excited to sit down and read again!

Write about what I’m passionate about. This blog has been a lot of things over time – part journal, part travel diary, part soap box – and, although I’m glad to have tried out a bunch of things, I’d like to get a better sense of what I’m most excited to write about. I think it’s really easy to get caught up in seeing what other people are doing and think that that’s what you need to do, but I’ve found the posts I feel the best about and that people respond to the most are the ones that I feel most fired up about. Whether it’s feminism or style or art, I can tell when I’m writing something that feels important. This month I want to lean into that. I want to write about what I’m talking about with my friends and what I’m ranting about to my mom. It makes me feel vulnerable, but I think it will lead me in the right direction with the posts I put up here. I’m excited to see what happens!

Go on walks. It’s that time of year where I just physically can’t stand to be inside anymore. Wisconsin winters are tough and working in a windowless office for so long makes the cabin fever even more intense, so walks seem like a good solution – even if it’s cold out! Whether listening a podcast or at least making myself go get a coffee in the morning, I think being out in the world will make me more present and feel engaged with humanity again, which feels important lol.

Try something new. I feel like I got pretty thoroughly stuck into the hibernation routine this winter and now that Spring is on the way (maybe? hopefully?) I think mixing things up a little bit will help me break the wine-and-grey’s-anatomy cycle. I want to try some restaurants that have been on my list forever, change up my workout classes, and generally try to be a little more open to new things this March.

That’s it for this month! I’ll check back in at the beginning of April and let you know how things go. And I’d be interested to hear how anyone else’s New Years Resolutions are going – I feel like it’s the time of year where they’ve either completely fallen away or you’ve gotten into the habit. Let me know!

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Why I Thought Wonder Woman Was a Major Feminist Let Down

I’ve seen more movies this week than I’ve seen in the last several months. Last Saturday I saw Black Panther, I saw Wonder Woman on Thursday, and then went to see Annihilation on Friday. Because I’m me, I end up watching every movie through a feminist lens and I was surprised how these three movies stacked up in terms of strong female characters and feminist storytelling.

I was going to put my reviews of all them into one post, but, per usual, I had a lot of feelings about all of them so I’m splitting them up, so stay tuned for more English-major movie review action, people. I know Wonder Woman is pretty old at this point, but I’m starting here because it was definitely the one I was most disappointed in from a feminist perspective. Let me break it down:

(Warning, spoilers ahead obviously.)

Perhaps my expectations of Wonder Woman’s feminism were too high, but I was shocked at how little progress this movie made for female characters in film. There were definitely some strong moments: Did I cry when Diana stepped onto the battlefield and ricocheted bullets off of her like popcorn kernels? For sure. But did I feel empowered by this movie in general? Definitely not.

The idea of Wonder Woman is great: a female hero saving humanity in a world of violent men. But, for me, the story didn’t add up. Diana is naive about the way the world works, despite having access to presumably endless volumes of knowledge and incredible training as a warrior. At one point in the movie, Chris Pine literally spends three minutes mansplaining the nature of humanity to her while she looks wistful and lost. Diana’s ignorance is laughable for almost the entire movie and, even though she does eventually come to see (and forgive) the evil nature of humanity, it takes so long for her to get there that she comes off as a little dumb!

Even the other main woman in the movie, evil chemist Isabel Moru, came off as weak and full of self-doubt. In order to make a chemical gas that kills millions of people you need the validation and support of a man? Really, Isabel?! You’re an EVIL GENIUS – I believe in you, girl! Call me crazy, but I wanted her to be more evil, to be more crazed and hungry for power. Whenever we see male evil scientists, they’re always have a God-complex and go mad with power, but our female scientist needs some General to tell her she’s good enough to do her own fucking job? I don’t buy it.

Overall, there were fewer women in the movie than I had hoped and the women that did make an appearance fell into the same tropes we see female characters fall into over and over again: passive, emotional, and in need of male validation and help. Diana does indeed save the day and end the war, but it didn’t feel like the triumphant female-centric ending I was hoping for. It’s great to see a female hero defeat the evil male villain, but I guess I was expecting female solidarity to be a bigger part of the movie. I kept waiting for the Amazons to appear or for Moru to join Diana in her quest for peace, but came up empty. To be honest, I probably would have been happy to watch the first 20 minutes of the movie where the Amazons train and there are no men on loop for two hours, instead.

All of this doesn’t even go into the pretty awful racial politics of the movie, either: people of color playing peripheral characters who deceive others for profit, the tired “noble savage” role makes an appearance, and the continued “exoticism” and objectification of Gal Godot (who is Israeli) are all super problematic.

I’m not even going to bother going into the logistical and storytelling problems of the movie because I have so many questions… (Why is there an American in the British CIA? Why is no one speaking German? Why is there a Native American hanging out in the German forest?) I’ve been told this is pretty run of the mill for super hero movies, though, so I’m guessing my suspension of disbelief would have been stronger had I known more about the genre.

Anyway, although I had a lot of hope for this movie, I ultimately had a lot more unfortunate feelings about it. I mean, I’m glad that a movie with a female super hero still made a bunch of money and I’ll probably go see the sequel when it comes out next year, but here’s to hoping it’s success leads to more dimensional female characters in the future.

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Weekend Vibes // The Week of February 9

Happy Friday, everybody! I’m off to watch the opening ceremony of the Olympics tonight and then have a full weekend of sleeping, working out, and doing not much else.We got a pretty big snow here in Madison last night (pictured above) and I’m just getting over a sinus infection this week so I’m pretty excited to lay low and watch a lot of skiing. Any fun plans for the weekend? Would love to hear. Here’s a few things that fascinated/made me laugh/brought me joy this week…

New York Fashion Week has begun! Some of my highlights so far (even though it started on Wednesday):

Been seeing these Allbirds sneakers on everyone. I originally went to take a look at the white pair, but I love the heather color for spring. They’re soft, wool sneakers and from what I hear they’re the perfect sockless shoes, which is always my jam.

Have you read the insane Quincy Jones interview yet? The sheer volume of references they make will make your head spin, not to mention the bonkers things Jones says like “Marlon Brando would fuck a mailbox.” Also, shoutout to my fellow Pisces for making us all look crazy.

The Onion always getting it right. And of course Nancy Pelosi did the whole 8-hour speech (the longest in House history) in 4-inch heels.

A friend posted this map of Queer experiences this week – it’s such a mix of significant and everyday moments, joy and heartbreak. I wish I knew the full story for each little snippet.

After living outside of Philly for four years, I’m happy they won the World Series. But mostly I’m happy they won because I think Eagles fans would have destroyed Philly if they hadn’t.

Erotica for feminists: “I meet a scientist on Tinder. They go on and on about their biggest professional achievement — the serum that made Ruth Bader Ginsburg immortal. It drives me wild. I don my naughtiest jabot and my sex gavel.”

Just upgraded my Hulu account to include Live TV for the Olympics! It’s $40 for the month, but that feels totally worth it to me for a continuous stream of ice dancing, curling, speed skating, and biathlon (cross country skiing and rifle shooting, obviously).

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Why Elon Musk Shooting A Car Into Space Really Bugs Me

In case you haven’t heard: Elon Musk sent a pretty powerful rocket up into orbit – but not without decking it out with a Tesla car inside complete with spaceman and accompanying soundtrack. (*Cue me rolling my eyes endlessly forever*) The spaceship itself is really cool and I know Elon Musk will save us all with his Mars colony once the Earth is a fiery mass, but his antic really just rubbed me the wrong way.

I know – it’s stupid, right? It’s a car in a spaceship! But it’s not really Elon Musk that makes me mad, to be honest. I think his whole stunt reminds me of a lot of other conversations I’ve been having with my friends about men, privilege, and what our culture is willing to indulge when it comes to the male ego. Let me catch you up…

PC: The Guardian 

I’ve been thinking a lot about the ways that our culture excuses men for things that suck. Obviously a lot of this has been spawned by the Time’s Up movement, the Aziz Ansari article, and the almost daily revelations of sexual harassment and abuse by one famous man after another. I’ve seen a lot of people make excuses for these men because they make great movies or are very successful businessmen, but that’s the kind of thinking that protects them. The whole idea that someone’s contributions to the world can somehow protect them from the consequences of their own actions is pretty fucked up.

I’ve also been have a lot of discussions with friends about the expectations we have of men in relationships. One friend is taking classes to prepare for her new baby and over and over again she hears the refrain: women are primarily responsible for domestic labor and we should praise men for picking up a dirty dish. Our culture doesn’t expect men to take care of themselves or, God forbid, take care of a family. We laugh it off saying that men are just messier than women or don’t care about that sort of thing instead of setting the bar higher for men. We just don’t expect men to step up in the way that is inherently expected of women, especially in domestic spaces and relationships.

A friend sent me this article recently that talks about “the price of genius” and I think it sums it up pretty well: when men shirk their duties and damage their relationships in the name of their work, it’s considered the price of genius. In fact, we lift up this behavior as being the ultimate sign of dedication to their work – so what does that say about women who aren’t typically afforded the same opportunity to wall themselves up if they so choose? That they aren’t dedicated? That they don’t care as much? But women don’t get to have it the other way, either – when a women shirks her duties, particularly domestic duties, she’s a bad mother and heartless bitch. There’s no way for her to win so work-life balance becomes a daily struggle for women, but weird that men never get asked questions about how to “have it all?”

PC: The Chicago Tribune

Okay, so you’re probably thinking “Maddie, you’re really just going on a rant about how much the patriarchy sucks and this has basically nothing to do with Elon Musk.” And like, you’re not totally wrong lol – I have been especially existentially exhausted by being a woman recently…

BUT I can’t help but see this pattern again and again of how we, as a society, make excuses for men in so many arenas of life. It’s fine that my male partner never does the dishes because he works a lot (as if I don’t?). It’s fine that Woody Allen sexually assaulted a child because Annie Hall is a masterpiece (as if that makes up for it?). It’s fine that Elon Musk shot his own car into space for the hell of it because he’s such an incredible businessman (as if it wasn’t an obnoxious ego trip?). Obviously there’s a huge spectrum here and I’m not trying to conflate any of these things together, but, to me, these are all examples of how society lets men get away with things that women would be criticized for or not allowed to do in the first place.

At the end of the day, it’s not about Elon Musk. It’s the fact that we indulge Musk’s ego trip as a fact of life and don’t question it because he’s a rich white guy. It feels like the same indulgence afforded to so many other men for so many other reasons. They all fall on varying degrees of the same turn-the-other-cheek mentality society has when it comes to men. Women can’t make any mistakes, while men just have to do one thing right.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been thinking about the last couple of days lol. You can take the woman out of the women’s college, right? Cheerier stuff coming to the blog soon, but I really want to use this space as a place to process a lot of the shit that’s going on right now. I’m not always going to get it right – and maybe you think this is a stretch – but I’m just synthesizing a lot of the things I’m noticing about the world. Thoughts welcome!

(P.S. Elon – you wanna put a woman on the BOD of SpaceX? Or more than one person of color? Just sayin’.)

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What I’m Focusing On This February : Resolutions 2018

Girl Standing in a Doorway Sweater and Jeans

Hey all! As I mentioned in this post, I’m doing my New Years resolutions a little bit differently this year: instead of making one huge (and likely unattainable) goal for the year, I’m breaking down each month into smaller goals. Makes sense, right? January was my first month giving this a go so I’ve got a little recap of how things went and then I’m sharing what made the cut for February. Check it out!

Girl Standing in a Doorway Sweater and Jeans

Sunglasses: Ray Ban , Sweater: Vintage Escada by Margaretha Ley , Jeans: Urban Outfitters (last worn here) , Shoes: Adidas Stan Smith

 

First things first: I need to check in with my January resolutions. A couple went pretty well, while the others I think I’m going to revisit in some form or another for February…

Start journaling regularly again. I did this! I’m not at my full three pages every morning, but I’m at least sitting down to write for a little bit each day. I’m not going to keep it as a resolution for next month because it’s something I’m already in the habit of doing, but I’m happy I got back on the wagon.

Drink more tea. I also did this! I’ve been really intentional about cutting down on my caffeine intake this month by switching to tea, decaf, or half-caf. It’s nice to have an alcohol-free option that still feels like I’m taking time to unwind. I’m not totally seeing the effects on my anxiety and sleep patterns that I was hoping to, but I have noticed how much more jittery I get if I do have regular, so obviously something’s going on. I’ve got a giant tub of half-caf Folger’s in my cupboard, so I don’t think I need to keep reminding myself to do this in February.

Be more consistent with my blog posts. I’m still working on this one. I got a couple of posts out that I feel really good about – particularly my Marie Kondo one – but I think working more on the blog and social media in general is going to be something I keepcoming back to. I like this as a first step, though. It really is about getting into the habit of making content and thinking ahead (that’s the part I’m not so great at). More to come on this front.

Read more instead of watching TV. I had a couple of great days – and even finished a book! – but generally this is another one I can do better on. The last few days I’ve put on some music (Ella Fitzgerald Spotify radio) and read while eating dinner and that’s gone really well! I’m also a really big momentum person when it comes to reading. I finished a book yesterday and started another today, so I’m hoping this will put me in a good spot to get some good reading done in February, too. Carrying this one over into February because I think I can do better.

Overall, I feel pretty good about my first month of smaller resolutions! I like that they’re action-oriented and I can actually do them. Those little wins make a big difference! I’m still feeling pretty motivated, so I’ve laid out a few things to work on next month…

Here are a few things I want to focus on in February:

Don’t look at my phone first thing in the morning. Every morning the first thing I do is reach for my phone and go on Instagram. Honestly, I do it because looking at a screen helps wake me up, but I don’t love how I feel looking at social media first thing in the morning. I like having a quiet, reflective morning routine and reading the news or checking Twitter just sort of bums me out, ya know? I’ve been threatening for ages to get an alarm clock instead, so maybe the time is now.

Scroll through Instagram less. Another social media related one and this one is going to be a hard habit to break. How often have I gone on my phone to check the weather or an email and I end up scrolling through Instagram for five minutes? Spoiler: at least five times a day. If I’m just hanging out watching the Bachelor that’s one thing, but I’d like to cut down on the mindless scrolling I do getting ready in the morning, on my lunch break, and just whenever I have down time. I’m in pretty deep with this one, but it’s worth a try.

Stick to my editorial calendar. Last month I tried to be more consistent with my posts and I did okay, but I’d like to keep improving here. The challenge for me is thinking ahead – I get so into whatever post I’m working on right now that I don’t think about what’s next. Then my momentum sinks and it’s hard to pick it up again. I’ve put together editorial calendars in the past, but this month my goal is to take it seriously. Setting deadlines for myself has been a constant challenge for me, but it’s time to step up and keep the ball rolling on here.

Meditate. I’ve had two or three meditation apps sitting on my phone for almost a year now and have used them… once? Maybe? I always make excuses as to why I don’t meditate (I’m too tired I would just fall asleep, I don’t want to pay for a subscription to the app, I already go to yoga, etc.), but whenever I have tried it consistently I’ve loved it. A blogger I follow has done it for 100 days straight and says its really helped her anxiety, too. Worth a shot!

Reading more consistently. Bringing this one back for another go!

I’ll report back at the end of February with how things have gone! I think a few of these are going to require a little bit of research into techniques that work or apps that can be helpful, so I’ll post all of that come March. If you have any advice for my February resolutions, I’d love to hear!

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Weekend Vibes // The Week of January 26

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve done a Weekend post, but a lot happened this week and I’d like to get back into these! It’s always so fun to look back and see what was on my mind. I’m excited to have a pretty free weekend ahead – I’m going out to dinner for restaurant week tomorrow night (think oysters!), but other than that no particular plans. I’d like to get some blog work done, a bit of reading under my belt, and maybe even an outdoor run on Saturday since it’s supposed to be 45 again! Yaaaasssss!

Here’s a few bits and bobs from this week that caught me eye. Enjoy your weekend, guys!

 

 

 

 

  • I’ve been putting Slow TV on at work this week and it’s oddly soothing. The train ones especially are great – it’s white noise punctuated with laughter and the voice of a kindly train conductor. Plus, it’s a great conversation starter if someone walks into your office unexpectedly lol.

 

 

 

 

  • Music pick of the week: The Good Side by Troye Sivan. It’s a little bit Sufjan Stevens, a little Years & Years, but still very Troye. I loved his Blue Neighbourhood album that came out a few years ago and I’m so glad he’s back doing some more acoustic stuff.

 

And in case you missed some of my recent posts: read all about my Marie Kondo cleaning expedition, help me decide what I should buy with the Free People gift card I found in said Marie Kondo cleaning expedition, and check in with my January resolutions. That’s all from me – have a great weekend, folks!

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What Do I Buy with My Free People Gift Card? + A Major Anthro Sale

You know what’s even more satisfying than doing a big Marie Kondo clean out? Finding a $128 Free People gift card in the process, especially after you’ve just given away 75% of my clothing. I’ve been scoping out some pieces online and thought I’d share what I’m thinking about getting.

You’ll notice quite a few pairs of shoes on my list and that’s because I love Free People for statement shoes that are still good quality. I got a pair of Jeffrey Campbell boots from FP a few years ago that I honestly wore to death – I’ve never gotten more compliments or had a more comfortable pair of going out shoes. Here’s to hoping I find another pair of winners (plus, a few other things)…

 

Vegan Joplin Ankle Boot ; Gloria Pullover

I love that these boots totally make a statement, but are neutral enough to go with everything. Plus, I think they’d transition really nicely from winter into Spring.

This is an obvious choice for me and I’m really digging the orange and baby blue combo. But to be honest, I would rather spend that kind of money on a Rachel Antonoff Reproductive System Sweater, which is my dream wardrobe item.

 

Mary Louise Set ; Sydney Hiker Boot

This set is on the pricier side and might be too flowy for me, but I have to say I’m obsessed with the idea of a chunky, plaid jumpsuit. And the frills at the waistband are the best little touch!

I really like these boots – they’re a contender. I love white for winter and I think they’d look so cute with denim or a flippy mini skirt. My only concern is that the reviews mentioned they get dirty really quickly, which I totally believe. It’s a predicament.

 

Tatum Over the Knee Boot ; Tennessee Lace Up Boot

These boots are really just a pipe dream, but I thought I’d throw them on here. They’re so badass, but even with my giftcard, there’s no way I can justify buying them. But how cute would they look with a chunky knit and jeans? Or a turtleneck sweater??

I’ve always been a sucker for lace up boots like this – they hit that sexy victorian note that I like a lot. These don’t come in my size, but I’m going to keep my eye on them in case they come back in. I think they’d be a really good choice.

 

Color Blocked Jacket ; Pixie Pearl Slide Sandal

I seriously don’t need a coat but how easy and cool is this one?! I love a piece that you can just throw on and instantly feel amazing in – even if you’re just wearing jeans and a white T on underneath. This would totally elevate any weekend wear.

I feel like sandals are wishful thinking right now, but I love these pearl slides in a sunny yellow. They make me want to move to LA, eat avocado toast, and getting really accidentally sunburned.

 

High Road Hiker Boot ; Seeking Heart Mini Dress

These boots are cool… right?? I think with ankle length jeans and a denim jacket they would be so cool! I’m really into simple outfits with super extra accessories right now and these certainly fall into that category.

This dress looks so comfortable, while also giving off major casual workplace vibes. I could definitely see myself wearing something like this to the office with my stan smiths or too brunch when I’m hungover and need something easy to throw on.

 

Come Back For Me Cashmere V-Neck Sweater ; Renegade Platform Loafer

I am a slouchy, cashmere v-neck addict and I’m not afraid to admit it. I think they’re practical, versatile, and sexy. This would be a great investment piece – plus, it comes in pink!

Guys, I think I’m crazy because I weirdly really love these loafers. I feel like they’re way too Petra Collins’ Instagram for me, but I’m sort of obsessed with the blush color and super chunky sole. What’s happening to me?

 

Wrenlette Slipper ; Business In The Front Top

I originally saw these slippers on Design Love Fest’s Bri Emery and totally fell in love. They would be perfect for one of those crisp spring mornings where you still need a sweatshirt and a little something on your feet. Once again, getting my hopes up…

I have not been a fan of the off the shoulder trend (how do you put your arms ups???), but this top might make me reconsider. The billowy sleeves and menswear-inspired pinstripes are a really excellent combo.

I also poked around the Anthropologie Sale section a bit since my friend, Kristin, texted me that they’re doing 40% off their sale prices. These are some of my online picks, but I always recommend going in store, too – I’ve found some really incredible things that way.

 

Fiona Corset Belt ; Tied Pocket Jacket

Are we still doing corset belts? This one feels more architectural than bodice ripper, which is actually kind of refreshing.

The bows on this coat kill me and I’m not typically a bows kind of girl. This would be such a sweet coat for a rainy spring day with light wash denim and a statement T underneath.

 

Mara Hoffman Knotted Gingham Shirt ; Jacquard Peplum Top

This top feels very Orseund Iris to me with the boob wrap going on and I don’t hate it. This actually the second Mara Hoffman piece on my list after the plaid set from FP – perhaps I should be keeping a better eye on her stuff!

This is a little more traditional for me, but I love a beautiful top in a peplum fit. This is a silhouette that always looks good on me (if I do say so myself). I’d love to wear it with white jeans and pearly sandals for day and dark wash denim for night.

 

Woven Twist-Front Jumpsuit ; Charlotte Stone Fara Feathered Mules

Nooooo so this jumpsuit sold out before I even got to put this post up – but it was around $40, not including the additional 40% off so it’s not a wonder it went so fast. And you know me, I can’t resist a print mixing jumpsuit. 

And last but not least, how fun are these feathery mules? I know they’re completely impractical, but how nice would they be with wide leg, ankle length jeans and a billowy white top? They’re showstoppers.

So, that’s it for my shopping expeditions. But I need help! I’m not sure if I’m overthinking the whole thing or I’m just not ready to use my gift card yet, but I need help choosing something! Luckily, we also have a Free People store here in Madison because I’m such a brick and mortar kind of girl! Let me know if you guys find anything else on there that I may have missed – Free People is such an abyss these days. Happy shopping!

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All of my Feelings About Marie Kondo’s Famous Cleaning Method

Over New Years weekend I embarked on a cleaning mission: to clear out my entire apartment using Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method. If you don’t keep up with the latest in Japanese tidying trends, the KonMari method is a quirky style of cleaning that touts the benefits of discarding anything that doesn’t bring you joy. It made waves a few years ago when Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up hit the New York Times Best Seller List and Marie Kondo was propelled into domestic goddess status. To be honest, the whole concept felt a little new agey for me (it’s like one step down from believing in healing crystals), but one of my best friends recommended it and I desperately needed to clean out my apartment, so I gave it a go.

I’ll be real: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a weird book. Part memoir describing Marie Kondo’s strange childhood obsession with cleaning, part practical guide to cleaning out your home, and part spiritual guide. It’s sort of Thich Nhat Hanh meets Martha Stewart. It’s very specific, sort of repetitive, and all around self promotional. But Marie Kondo is a good saleswoman and I’m buying it.

I shared a lot of my #KonMariWeekend on Instagram Stories a few weeks back, but wanted to write up some thoughts now that I’m a few weeks out. In this post I’m breaking down the basics principles of the method, what I did each day, and my overall results, if you’re interested.

The Fundamentals

I won’t go into the specifics (you’ll just have to take the book out of the library like I did for those), but there are a few main principles that you’re supposed to follow pretty closely:

  • Keep only what sparks joy. This is basically the main takeaway of the book – while sorting through everything, notice what objects make you light up with joy. Keep those. Get rid of everything else.
  • Sort by category, not by location. Another KonMari fundamental is to avoid the mistake of sorting room-by-room. Instead gather every item of a certain genre together (clothes, books, papers, etc.) and then sort through them all at once.
  • Finish discarding first then put everything away. Once you start thinking about where to keep things, you’re no longer listening to that voice that’s telling you what brings you joy. Focus on one stage of the process at a time.
  • Make tidying a special event, not a daily chore. Do as much as you can as quickly as you can – don’t lose momentum. Once you know everything you own and you know you love it, cleaning becomes easier and less time-consuming.

The Game Plan

I did my #KonMariWeekend over four days. I gave myself 1 day to prep, 2 days to sort, and 1 day to get rid of everything. I’ve slowly been putting things back into place ever since, which you’re not supposed to do, but I had to go back to work eventually. Here’s how each day went…

Day One: Prep

Day one was pretty easy, to be honest. I was actually kind of nervous about committing to the process and wanted to ease into it. Sort of a cop out, but I’m still glad I took a day to mentally and logistically prepare.

On prep day I:

  • Finished reading the book. Obvi this was important. Plus, I took a few notes about things like what order I’m supposed to sort my clothes in because she’s really specific about stuff like that.
  • Got all my supplies together. I used: lots of garbage bags, paper bags, moving boxes, tape, and scissors.
  • Did all my laundry. This is the first thing that Marie Kondo suggests you sort through so this way I would be ready to go (and wouldn’t have an excuse to keep anything).

I also worked out, made some food for the next few days, and went to bed early. Guys, I treated this event like the Olympics. Prep day ruled because it was easy and still useful.

 Days Two and Three: Sort

Have you ever exhausted yourself by thinking too much? Does this only happen to me? Because that’s a great way to sum the next two days of #KonMariWeekend. Going through literally every item you own and making a decision about it is really mentally taxing, let me tell ya.

But I also think this is the most meaningful part of the process. In the book, Marie Kondo references (many times) that her method changes people’s lives. Through the process of cleaning their homes people discover long lost passions, change careers, realize the unhappiness of their marriage, things like that. Although this didn’t happen to me (spoiler alert), I do understand how it could happen to someone. Bear with me.

I’m a big believer in listening to your gut and this process is a great way to tune into that. You learn what it feels like to hold something you love versus something you resent. You’re asking yourself over and over again “what brings me joy?”. It’s this process of tuning into your feelings that can easily be applied beyond the cleaning process. During my sorting days I found myself wondering if other things in my life were really bringing me joy. The food I eat? The friends that I have? The work I do? I’m pretty in tune with that stuff at a high-level, but it was really interesting to feel that same ultra-specific discernment happening in other aspects of my life. I can definitely see how someone who has never listened to their gut could be deeply transformed by this method.

Overall, the sorting process wasn’t as difficult as I thought it was going to be. In past major clean outs, I often felt a pang of regret about giving something away, but anything that I loved that much I just kept even if I never use it. And that’s what I like about this method: it takes into account how emotionally invested we are in the objects we have. It doesn’t set arbitrary numbers or daily goals – you’re empowered to decide what is worthy of staying in your life, which I think makes people a lot more likely to stay tidy, too. It was a lot of work and I really had to be in the right mindset for it, but this was by far the most effective clean out I’ve ever done and I haven’t regretted getting rid of a single thing.

Day Four: Get rid of Everything

This is oddly the day that is completely unmentioned in Marie Kondo’s book. I don’t know if all the posh Japanese people who hire her just get other people to haul away all their junk, but this was definitely the longest and hardest day of them all. I got rid of 3 car loads of stuff – which is amazing if I do say so myself –  but wow did it suck to move all of it by myself!

Everything basically got brought to Goodwill, which is my go-to for donations. They have a great mission, they’re everywhere, and they take donations at really convenient hours. I would have loved to give more to local charities, but honestly, I was really just itching to get all of this stuff out of my apartment so I didn’t do the research I could have. If you end up doing this, do consider donating to lesser known local charities – they need our help, too!

There’s not much to say about this day other than I was physically exhausted by the end of it. There aren’t many days in my life where I do this kind of manual labor and I certainly have a knew found respect for those who do. After dropping off my last car load (I saved books for last, which was such a rookie mistake), I came home, cracked open a beer, and made myself a steak. And it was great.

Afterwards: Putting Everything Back

So, this is the part of the Marie Kondo method where I sort of fell off the wagon: once you discard everything you’re supposed to organize your home and give everything a place. I didn’t do this right away – I had to go back to work believe it or not – but it did get done over the next week.

I honestly didn’t change where I put that many things, despite Marie Kondo having lots of theories about this, but I was amazed at how much easier it is to clean my apartment now that it’s empty. Putting clothes away no longer involves a strategic method of figuring out what hangers I have available and then pushing my mountain of clothes one way or the other just to hang something up. My dishes actually fit in my drying rack. My coat closet closes entirely for the first time since I moved in. They’re small victories, but it’s nice.

And I think that’s what Marie Kondo is all about: improving our lives through a series of small, joyful, and intentional decisions. Objects are a necessary part of life – sometimes you just need stuff – so why not try to make our objects a source of joy?

General Thoughts

When I first moved into my apartment, I literally took anything I could get my hands on. I was starting my first job, I had no money (I literally outfitted my kitchen using gift cards), and I had a bunch of family members moving at once, so I just vultured what I could from people. I ended up with a hodgepodge of things that totally weren’t me. For that time in my life, though, that was totally okay. Maybe they weren’t intentional, but those things brought me joy – the joy of having my first apartment to call my own, the joy of making dinner in my own kitchen, the joy of figuring out how I wanted to live alone.

But as I’ve figured those things out, it became time to change. Over the last year and a half, I’ve become someone I hardly recognize – confident in my career, excited about the future, discerning about who I spend my time with – and now I need a space that reflects that. Cleaning has always had profound meaning to people as the chance to start over and I think that’s why I wanted to do this in the first place. I felt new.

Does this method have issues? Absolutely. For one, it wreaks of wealth and privilege – the ability to own whatever makes you happy just isn’t attainable for everyone. I ended up keeping things that don’t bring me joy because I need them and I can’t afford to buy a new one. Sure, an entire kitchen filled with Anthropologie dishware would certainly make me happy, but that’s not going to happen right now.

I also thought it was interesting that Marie Kondo never mentions the process of getting rid of all your stuff because this was another part of the method that felt privileged, too. Either you are able to move all of it out yourself, you have friends who can take time off to help you, or you can afford to hire someone to move everything for you and those aren’t always options for people.

So, it isn’t perfect and I completely understand if this method isn’t for you for those reasons or because the whole thing just doesn’t resonate with you. I approached this at a particular time in my life with a good deal of resources and I really liked it, but I was definitely a skeptic, too. Will I be folding my socks like sushi so they can rest at night? No. But did I feel like this was an effective cleaning method? For me, yes.

My biggest takeaway out of the whole experience is that it’s made me more aware of the effect objects have on my emotions. I was shocked by how many things I resented (ill fitting tops, broken kitchen utensils, grimy bathroom products) so it felt really good to get rid of them. I’ve also noticed a change in my buying habits – I’m much intentional about buying things and don’t feel as attached to things I purchase, either. Although I don’t think I had as profound a reaction as some of Kondo’s clients, the whole process has made my whole life feel a little bit lighter and that counts as a win in my book.

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