So this is twenty three

This past week was my golden birthday — I turned twenty-three on the twenty-third. 

I spent the day with my mom because, low and behold, it was her birthday too. We have always spent our birthday together. It’s been that way for the past twenty-two years and, even with a job and a full to-do list, this year was no different.

For our day, we went out to brunch at a local restaurant named Milktooth, which was dubbed one of the top 207 restaurants to eat at around the globe according to Conde Nast. I’d heard about the restaurant so often while I was an intern at Indianapolis Monthly this past spring, so I was so happy to finally try out their menu.

Both my mom, my brother, and I ended up ordering the same thing: Brochedi Donuts with bacon and eggs. Needless to say, it was delicious.

While driving this afternoon, I thought about how twenty-two was a good year. It was a year of learning, of surviving my last year of college, of figuring out what it was I wanted and didn’t want. A year of healing and finding patience in the unknown. Thinking about this next year, I can’t tell you where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing or how I will get to wherever ‘there’ is. I think that’s okay sometimes, not knowing your next step but trusting your gut, where the universe unfolds and leads you.

So far, twenty-three has looked like adding more business professional clothes to my wardrobe, going on a cleanse, and writing. Lots of writing.

Regardless of what I know or don’t know about this upcoming year, there are a few intentions that I know I want to move through. Here are a few:

  • Listen: to myself, to God’s soft whisper, to the voice of my mom and brother, to my friends, and my body. 
  • Read full books, finish them, stick with them, contemplate over them. Not rushing myself, but taking it slow. 
  • Focus on creating vs consuming. Scrolling through Instagram or Facebook, passively streaming a show, getting lost down the rabbit hole of YouTube. I spend way to much time with these consuming activities. It’s time to turn the table and start creating instead of constantly consuming media. 
  • Be mindful: about what I eat, about the quality of my breath, about listening to people, about each moment I find myself in, about what I’m working on and what I’m creating. 
  • Prioritize my health and the food I eat. Cook at home and bring lunches to work. Continuing my yoga practices. Be aware of what I eat and put on my skin. College was a good ride but I focused more on grades while my health was neglected. It’s time to change that. 
  • Have a heart of gratitude. 

No matter where I end up or what I do, I know that this next year is going to be a good one. A one of thriving, learning, seeking… and maybe hitting up Milktooth again.

Here’s to twenty-three. 

August’s Last Note

The last note to August: a collage containing a handful of my favorite photos from the end of summer. August was a full 31 days, brimming with books and soft pretzels at the state fair, warm letters and coffee, a wonderful boyfriend and puppy lovings. August was a month to discover that my closet is half full of clothes from Target and that I have a knack for playing duckpin bowling. August was a month to say yes to taking the scenic route, to devouring pizza after midnight, to meeting up with old friends, and to eating ramen after yoga class. August was a month for remembering the old, and remembering all that we’ve been given while being thankful for it, both in the past and in the now. August was a month that ended with a sigh of relief, followed by a cheer when the Hoosier’s won the first football game of the season.

Autumn and Coffee and Books

When I woke up early this morning, there was something different in the air. Maybe it was the fact that over the past week the temperature has dropped several degrees outside and the crips nature of autumn is starting to caress my windows, or maybe it is the strong pumpkin rum candle, the one that I can smell the heavenly scent of throughout the house, even if it’s not lit. 

No matter what it is, I can definitely tell that summer is coming to a close and fall is slipping around the corner.

The other day when I was heading out to my car, I looked down and there were a few leaves, dried and a brittle yellow. Although the majority of the leaves are still clinging to the branches, a vibrant green, within the next month they will be fading as they shout their last hoorah for the end of this decade.

The tree that is out in my front yard is huge and every year I get excited for its change from green to gold. The first year we spent fall here, I had my mom’s orignial Polaroid Spirit 600 that we found film for. I took it everywhere, including down the street where I catpured a picture of the tree in it’s radiant bloom. This little memory is kept forever in the squared-off corners of a piece of film. Although the same phenomenon is bound to return year after year, I have the picture to look at whenever I want to be reminded of it.

Even though fall is almost here, I’ve been trying to pay respects to the last of summer that’s not quite done yet. I picked seven tomatoes off my overly large tomato plant yesterday. I’m excited to get to try out a recipe where I’ll get to use them. Most of the time I just throw whatever I have in the pantry together–pasta, spinach, the garden tomatoes, cheese, and maybe a tad of salt and paper– and eat it like a smorgasbord of whatever sounds good at the time.

Lately, I’ve been working on an article for a magazine I’m freelancing for about specialty fall coffee in my neighborhood. Just on the Southside of Indianapolis alone, there are over ten local coffee shops. Tuesday, I went to six coffee shops in the Greenwood area. Each had it’s own aesthetic, distinguishing itself with key features, even though they all serve a similar purpose: to proved caffeine, drinks, and a place to cultivate community, even if it’s only a handful of strangers.

I love the spirit of coffee shops for this reason, not because they’re hip and cool nowadays, but because they’re spaces for communal existence, work, and to get to know people you otherwise wouldn’t have met.

I’ve met so many of the people in my life, that I wouldn’t have met in any other way, through coffee shops. Bookstores, too. I’ll have to write a whole essay about that sometime. Neadless to say, I’ve been enjoying my work lately, finding real fulfillment in it.

Another new thing: It’s the first of September and I’m taking a detox from social media. Namely, Instagram. September is the start of fall, my favorite season. And in honor of new seasons, I thought that taking a break from the scrolling and liking and constant connection would give me a nice breather. Instead, I’ll take stock of the what this year has so far gifted me. What the rest of this chapter, and the next, will hold. This year is the end of a decade, and next year is the start of a new one.

I deleted the app this morning, and so far I have picked up my phone about ten times and slid past pages of apps until I reached where Instagram used to be. When I don’t find it, it feels refreshing. I can regain control and focus on what I’m dedicating this month too.

While I’m taking this next month off of social media. I hope it’ll give me more time to finish a few books I’ve been flipping through but haven’t finished yet. The first one is When in French, by Lauren Collins and the second one is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver. Fiction is definietly a love of mine, but I’ve been attracted to narrative non-fiction lately, it’s what I’ve been craving to write, too.

How about you? What are you planning for the start of fall? Are you reading anything interesting?

P.S. more thoughts about redefining my relationship with social media.

Redefining My Relationship with Social Media

I hear the term on the daily, especially in terms of social media: comparison

Among the people I follow, questions about social media itself and how to deal with comparison have been circulating a lot. How do you feel about social media? How do you handle comparison on these platforms? Should I take an Instagram hiatus? 

I’d like to think that we’re all just sharing our most intimate selves on this platform, but we’re not. As it has been said before, all the squared off corners and filtered pictures are just a hint at what is the trueness of what our lives are. And that’s all it really can be. Airing too much on social media is considered dirty laundry is another form of sharing that can be too much and not needed. Where is the balance? Is there one? 

When you’re reading this post, I want to make it clear that I don’t think that Instagram, or any other social platform, is bad. I also don’t have all the answers, as a twenty-something, I’m just as much trying to figure it out myself as anyone else it. I’m not advocating that people should give it up altogether, but I am questioning its use and its impact in my life, and invite you to question that for yourself. 

The thing I love about Instagram is the visual storytelling. I love expressing through photos, videos, and words, but I think it might be time for me to reevaluate how I use this social platform. Every time I’m bored or when I feel like running away from the hard stuff, I have an inclination to turn to scroll—submerging myself in other’s lives and pictures.

It’s here were this term, comparison has become prominent to me, it has flooded into my life. While it was once an abstract word, one that had meaning but I didn’t see the effects of, it has now become very real for me. I’m starting to see how social media, Instagram in particular, has come to affect my overall well-being.

When I’m trying to make a decision in my own life, even if it’s as small as what to do for lunch, I end up consulting the ideas that I’ve gotten from what I’ve seen from other people that day. What would so-and-so get for a quick hour pick-me-up? What is the most Instagram worthy sandwich I can order? It also comes with larger life questions. I unconsciously ask myself if this next step in my career, if this job will allow me to be like her/him, will it give me the same opportunities, will I be as successful? This is what they did when they graduated from university, should I do that too? 

When these questions pop into my head, I don’t automatically think, Oh, I’m starting to compare myself to someone else, but it’s more of after the fact—after I’ve made the decision and thought about the effects of it, and if it really was a genuine one. 

Instead of being in the present moment, focusing on my own work—or even on the music that is playing in the cafe I’m sitting in—I am constantly in my own mind, comparing myself to whoever’s Instagram feed I just looked at. 

Inspiration is good, advice is good, guidance is good, but there is a deeper conscious and gut feeling in each individual’s lives that can’t be compared to any other. 

I’ve thought about ditching Instagram for a week, or even a month. Normally, when I set goals that I set for myself they never work. If I say that I’m going to take a week off of Instagram, it will feel too clinical, like I’m giving myself a dose of medicine to prevent the pain and not actually go to the root of it. Or if I fail at the goal I set for myself, I’ll feel worse about it than if I just continued to use Instagram. 

I’ve decided on trying to use Instagram differently. I still like sharing and being connected into people’s lives but perhaps limiting the time I give myself on the platform each day and unfollowing the accounts that don’t add any meaning to my feed. I’ve also considered using this blog more as an outlet than just containing all of my posts on Instagram.

This platform also seems more authentic for me, more genuine, and more approachable. I’ve been blogging since 2014, and although the past few years I haven’t been posting as much, sharing my writing and photos on here is more of a means of expression and rather than comparison.

No matter what I do, redefining my relationship with social media is a task that I’m working on. I’m still trying to figure out this age of social media and how to navigate it as a millennial, but I’d like to open up the conversation to you. What do you think about social media? How does it affect you? What are some things you like and some things you don’t? 

Feel free to leave comments below or contact me via the contact form. Let’s keep this conversation going.

Storytellers and Coffee Shops

I’ve had this little project tucked in its folder for the last month. Today, I pulled it out again—reading through it all and making notes. Being a freelance journalist is my dream and goal, but since I was little, I’ve always wanted to write a novel. Who says I can’t be a writer of both non-fiction and fiction? 

I worked on this story for my last semester of college, it was supposed to be a finished novella by the end of the semester; however, it took so many twists and turns (and I am a way slower writer of fiction than I thought I was) the story changed so much. By the end, I only came out with about 20 good(ish) pages. Today I have determinded that I’m going to keep working on it.

I’m not sure what it’s going to be once it’s finished, maybe that novella, maybe a novel, maybe just a story the little kid I was growing up needed, but, no matter what it turns into, I’m going to show up and write it.