Sunday, July 14, 2019

5 Steps to Last-Minute Packing

I do a lot of traveling. Not necessarily because my family is heavy on the vacationing, but mostly because all my extended family lives 8+ hours away, yet we like to pretend we're close enough to visit as often as possible. This means that, especially in the summer, I'm constantly getting surprised with spontaneous visits to the see the fam.

Over the years, I've worked out a pretty foolproof system of packing that allows me to get it done in about 15 minutes.

Step 1: Divide your packing into three categories

For me, this would be clothes, toiletries, and additive items. Breaking your packing down into smaller sections makes it easier to attack, and working through one section at a time means you're much less likely to forget anything.

Step 2: Clothes

I start by mapping out my entire trip day-by-day, noting what sort of outfit I'll need each day. (e.g. casual, dressy, comfortable, classy, etc.) I roll my clothes to save space and prevent wrinkles. Stuff your socks into your shoes if you're worried about unpacking misshapen footwear!

Step 3: Toiletries

For these I have a couple different travel pouches. I fill up everything I need into their appropriate pouch, and then I leave them on my dresser to be packed in my suitcase the next morning after I've gotten through my morning routine (which usually requires some of the products I would have otherwise packed away.)

Step 4: Additive Items

This is sort of the miscellaneous section. Usually this is anything I need to keep me entertained in the car, any schoolwork I need to get done in my downtime, or any random amenities like food or water bottles. This section varies from trip to trip, so there isn't much of a system to it other than throw it in the bag.

Step 5: Make a "morning of" list

There are always a couple items you can't set aside until you're about to head out the door. To ensure you don't forget anything, make a list to check off the day of your departure. Usually this includes things like my contact case, my retainer, my charger, the book I'm reading-- things like that. If I don't want to pack it away in a toiletry bag or my suitcase ahead of time, it goes on the list.

And that concludes my five-step routine to packing! I'm a big fan of routines, so talking about the ins and outs of packing processes is always a good time for me.

Happy travels!

Monday, January 7, 2019

My Real Plans for the Future

At this point in my life I am constantly being asked what my plans for the future are. Where do I want to study? What do I want to study? What do I want to do with my life? Where do I want to be? And while those are all fine questions, I'd like to share my other, real plans for the future-- just this once.

1. Adopt a kitten; become best friends.

2. Dance in my kitchen to my music as I make dinner every night.

3. Live in an apartment with lots of windows in a city high, high above the ground.

4. Live someplace where the sun doesn't set at 3 in the winter.

5. Live someplace with real beaches (the ones here just don't do it for me.)

6. Attend all the concerts-- all.

7. Thrift my wardrobe.

8. Grow my own herbs.

9. Travel to the places I actually want to visit.

10. Delve into videography-- for the memories. 

11. Road trip with my friends.

12. Let myself make mistakes; let myself grow freely.

13. Be around (good) people more often; spend more time soaking in the sunlight of others.

14. Spend more time doing the things that make me a better person.

15. Eat more plants.

16. Explore.

17. Learn more about the world around me and the people in it.

18. Push myself past my comfort zone in all areas of my life.

19. Spend more time in nature.

20. Run for myself without really worrying about how fast I am.

Thanks for reading, and let me know if you have any plans for the future :)

Friday, December 7, 2018

Feeling Infinite and Other Inexpressibles

A bestseller read and loved by many, the Perks of Being a Wallflower is the novel I most recently completed. It's been almost 20 years since the book's initial publication, but I was still overwhelmed by how impacted I was by the story on a personal level.

This isn't a review, a summary, or a recap of the book. This is simply a compilation of my thoughts upon completion of this novel. I can't promise its coherency or even its significance, but if you want to read my attempt to communicate my thoughts, continue on.

As a junior in high school, I was already able to relate to that theme of the novel. I remember being a freshman and falling in with a crowd of older friends and just learning so much about the world and life and feeling all these emotions I'd never experienced before. And they weren't easy emotions to express.  Happy, sad, angry, stressed. These words no longer communicated what was happening in my brain. In any given moment I was feeling a combination of so many different things, and the result was always some incomprehensible witch's stew of emotions. (I don't know why I'm writing in the past-tense; these things are still true now.)

And the best moments-- the heights of existence-- changed. They stopped being those giddy moments of pure joy and excitement-- like running down the stairs on Christmas morning or getting an unplanned sleepover two nights in a row. Instead, the best memories became those flashes of life-- like clips in a montage. Just moments where you feel more alive than usual. A gorgeous sunset paired with the right music, driving down a country road with the right person. The antsy anticipation that comes from the warm air on a summer night, when you're dancing under the stars. Curling up under a blanket during a rainstorm, your breathing in time with the rhythm of existence.

Charlie says it best. "And in that moment, I swear we were infinite." 

He uses infinite to describe that larger-than-life feeling so difficult to express with our vocabulary. And while Chbosky was just as unable to truly translate that feeling into words as everyone else, his interpretation struck a chord with me on a deeper level. I understood exactly what Charlie meant when he said he felt infinite, and it was the first time that I realized maybe my over-romanticization of life wasn't something only in my brain. Maybe other people are like that, too.

Charlie's relationship with music was something else I related to personally. Friends of mine often tell me I hear music differently than other people. Maybe that's true, maybe that's not, but I will say that music is something I feel in my bones-- not hear in my ears. It frames the way I see life-- it frames the way I live my life-- and I think it does for Charlie as well.

Reading from the perspective of a character who placed so much emotion into those abstract, inexpressible parts of existence normalized my own life for me. And while, in reality, my life is nothing like Charlie's, I fell into old memories from my own past countless times while reading about Charlie's.

Maybe I'm just in that time of my life where life is changing faster than the seasons, where emotions and thought processes and outlooks on life are becoming more complex every day, and where everyone-- including myself- makes less sense than quantum mechanics. Maybe my love and connection with this book was just a projection of my own thinking into someone else's story. Or maybe the Perks of Being a Wallflower is just the type of book that tells an infinite number of stories-- whichever one you need to read the most at the time.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

healthy goals for the cluttered mind!

Happy fall! As a busy gal, I made a point this school year to establish some self-care related goals to keep my life in perspective as I got swept away by the mountain of work I seem to accumulate this time of year. Whether this serves as a friendly reminder or inspiration for those looking for small but mighty ways to improve your life, here are those goals.

1. Get more sleep 

I'd fallen into a bad habit of getting very minimal sleep (I'm talking 3-4 hours) on a regular basis and then trying to catch up over the weekend. This year I've started prioritizing my sleep, choosing to sleep over do more homework or study longer. It may have seemed counterintuitive in the beginning, but I feel like I'm performing much better in school, and I feel a lot happier overall. Sleep's my miracle pill-- I'm telling you!!

2. Eat real food 

I've really started focusing on keeping my processed foods consumption down to a minimum as much as possible and eating real, whole foods. My breakfast now is typically a smoothie-- making it a completely processed foods-free breakfast! I've also been doing a much better job of packing a better lunch-- switching it up as much as possible.

3. Read more books (watch less TV)

Reading and I go way back, and while I find time to read a lot over the summer, I typically fall of the wagon during the school year. A huge goal of mine this year was to make time for reading, and I feel I've done a decent job of that. I try to keep Netflix off during the weekdays and reach for my current novel before bed.

4. Be more social

Okay, going to be completely honest, this one's hard for me. I'm the type of person who really likes zoning out to music and spending my free time squeezing in another assignment while I'm at school, but I've really made an effort to connect more with the people around me and spend time with all my friends (not just one or two). I've gotta say-- it's crazy who'll you end up closer with if you just put in a little more effort and smile just a tad bit more often!

5. Obsess about grades less 

This one really depends on your situation, but for me, I really need to take a chill pill when it comes to school sometimes. I personally have been putting in a lot of work when it comes to school, but I also think it's important to relax and not beat yourself up over imperfections. You should never let a grade ruin your love for a subject.

And that completes my list of healthy habits I've started introducing into my life! Let me know what-- if any-- changes you've been introducing to your own life lately!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

how to set yourself up for a good school year

Hello all! For me, my last full week of summer is next week, so I'm really getting into gear for the school year. As someone who's overall quality of life decreases significantly during the school year, I figured I'd share all the things I personally do to make sure i'm setting myself up for the best school year I can- academically and outside of school as well.

As I said, these are all things I actually do or believe in doing, so what works for me may not be helpful for you at all. I'm personally in the camp that supports trying everything at least once before you knock it.

So here we go!

1. write a letter to yourself

Remind yourself of the things that you love and that make you happy so that when you're stressed and busy with school, you have something tugging on your sleeve to make time for the things that will add something positive to your life. It's easy to forget to do things like read or journal or draw when you're buried under homework, but that little reminder can move it to the forefront of your brain. Personally, it's good to read something I wrote when I was in a really good place to remind me that whatever stress or anxiety I'm feeling is temporary.

2. create an hour-by-hour schedule

This is something I only recently started doing this summer, but I found it tremendously helpful in boosting my productivity. Look at your day and map out what you're doing each hour so you can realize how much free time you actually have in your day. For me, I realized that, when in season, I really only have three hours in between getting home from practice and getting into bed for homework when you factor in eating and showering. That realization has made me hyper aware of how much time I wasted in the past Netflixing or scrolling through instagram on my phone instead of getting stuff done.

3. set healthy goals 

Figure out what things were holding you back last school year and make it a goal to improve upon them. For me, I decided I needed to establish a better sleep schedule and restrict my Netflix usage to weekends. I'm also trying to decrease my phone usage to less than an hour and half every day.

4. plan out meals 

Figuring out and grocery shopping for the things I want to eat for breakfast and lunch in advance is extremely helpful. Nutrition is something I really started cracking down these past couple years, and planning my meals helps tremendously. That way you know for sure where you'll stand calorically by the time your done with the school day, and you have a healthy breakfast ready to go for the school day.

5. do your homework 

This one I feel should go without saying, but I know too many people who ignore their summer assignments or try and do them all on the last day. If you actually do your homework, you'll start the year off much stronger than trying to fake your way through the first chapter of the class :)

Anyway, that covers all my advice for pre-school year preparation. Let me know what things you do before the school year kicks off to set yourself up!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

july review

Happy August! Today I bring to you my month of July in review. July for me was a wild month-- I ended up all over the country and had a lot of firsts in the span of 31 days. On top of that I fell in love with quite a few new purchases.

e x p e r i e n c e s 

I started off the month getting to see lovelytheband open for the Neighbourhood at a music festival. The whole experience was absolutely incredible. I was familiar with a couple of lovelthetheband's songs, but seeing them live really made me fall in love with their sound, and I've since memorized pretty much every line they've written. The Neighbourhood did not fail to impress me as well.

I then went to Boston for a few days, which has been by far the highlight of my summer. I'm quite homesick for the East Coast now and can't wait to be back. We had a bit of flight trouble getting there though, and ended up roadtripping from Baltimore to Boston, which was actually really fun because we were able to see a bit of New York City on the way.

I also went to a couple of bookshops in Boston, including this super cool one that had an outdoor section!

I also made trips to Milwaukee and Columbus throughout the month. Between my traveling and other activities, I made a point to see the lake as much as possible as well. I started a rock collection in a mason jar where I'm keeping nice rocks I find (usually at the lake). I write the date, location, and the initials of who I was with on the rock when I get home with gold sharpie and drop it in the jar.

m u s i c 

I mentioned it already, but I fell in love with lovelytheband's music this month. I have a five hour-long playlist devoted to indie pop now. I'd also highly recommend the album Seven + Mary by Rainbow Kitten Surprise. I discovered that album this month, and I honestly have to say it's one of my all-time favorite albums. If you're into some darker accoustic sounding music with full harmonies and deep chords, you'll love them.

r e a d i n g

I had the pleasure of binge-reading Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. As the third and final installment in the Illuminae trilogy, I was very pleased. It was powerful and paralyzing as ever.

p r o d u c t s 

I burnt the Aloha Kiwi Passionfruit candle from Bath and Bodyworks this month and absolutely loved it. It was summery without being too cheap or tacky and wasn't too harsh or irritating. It never gave me a headache.

I also bought a couple pairs of shorts from J. Crew this month, my favorite being these high-waisted, reddish denim shorts. They're surprisingly versatile and throw in a very nice variety to my wardrobe. I love pairing them with a light button down, tucked into the waist.

My final product worth mentioning is the Crest Noticeably White Whitestrips. This product strikes a nice balance between reasonability and result. It only requires a half hour with the strips on, and they're super thin, so you can easily talk while using them. At about $20.00, they're some of Crest's more inexpensive options, which is exactly what I was looking for. I was very pleased with them, and only used about 10 of the 14 before I felt pretty good about where I was at.

July was quite a hectic month for me, but I did my best to wrap it up in a nice little review. I'm looking forward to August. As my last month before school, so far it's been about getting my life together in preparation for the upcoming academic year, and I anticipate many good things. My goals include finishing my two summer reading books as well as my summer homework and registering for the September ACT.

Happy August!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

running essentials

As I've mentioned in many a social media bio and about me page, I am an avid runner. I run both high school cross country and track, and I consistently follow training plans during my off-seasons. I've been running year round for about five years now, and I've picked up on some things that, while perhaps not essential to running, sure make it a lot nicer. This post is a compilation of all those things.

n e w r o u t e

Okay pay attention-- this one's a lifesaver. NewRoute is a free app that allows you to map out running routes in advance. It's simple, practical, and has all the features you need without being confusing. You can save routes into different folders, which is nice if you consistently have different starting points. (For example, I have a folder dedicated to routes for when I'm running after school at practice and a folder dedicated to when I'm running from home.) You can make folders based on mileage, surface, location, or whatever else you come up with. Also the app marks where you're going to hit each mile. Basically, NewRoute is amazing. (Just wish they'd come out with an apple watch edition so I could avoid getting lost while on runs.)

a p p l e  w a t c h

A GPS watch is definitely not necessary for anyone who wants to run, however I've been running with a GPS watch for the majority of my running career, and I couldn't live without one. I started with the Garmin Forerunner 10, which was... okay. It's very basic and inexpensive, which is nice, but I ended up wanting something with more features and less sync time. I opted to get an Apple Watch over another Garmin mostly because I wanted something a little more versatile and fashionable. I've been very satisfied with my Apple Watch, and I'm glad I chose it over another Garmin. (That's a whole other blog post right there...) For anyone not willing to invest in a watch, plenty of free apps exist to turn your phone into a GPS tracker. (Strava, MapMyRun, etc.)

m y f i t n e s s p a l

Another app for you here, MyFitnessPal is how I track my nutrition. I would venture as far as to say that most people don't track their food, but I really like to know what I'm consuming. Whenever I've gotten into the habit of tracking my food, I find that I just automatically choose healthier options, not even because I feel like I have to, I just genuinely want to. I also get peace of mind knowing that I'm staying up on my caloric needs-- especially when I'm in season. I've tried plenty of food trackers, and I've found that MyFitnessPal is the best one when it comes to functionality and accuracy in predicting your caloric goal. It also has a very extensive database of foods and is free in the app store.

s u p p l e m e n t s

This is something that definitely varies from person to person. Personally, I take a iron supplement and a daily multivitamin. Iron deficiency is not fun, and I sleep better at night knowing that I get around 300% of my daily iron. Multivites, whether you run or not, are generally a good idea. Our foods are cleaned and altered to the point that we are unable to get all our nutrients from foods alone. Taking a multivite ensures that you're getting everything you need!

s h o e s

For me, finding the right pair of shoes has been quite a journey with much trial and error. However, I did finally land on a model that is exactly what I need in a shoe. They have a lightweight quality without sacrificing stability and support, and as someone who is rather narrow-footed, they fit very nicely. I'm loyal to the Brooks Ravennas. While everyone has different needs when it comes to running shoes, if you like a lighter distance shoe, I'd highly recommend checking them out.

s o c k s 

Another "essential" is running socks. I just love having thick, cushion-y socks to run in. I've been buying Features since I started running, and I'd highly recommend them to anyone looking for a specialized sock.

f o a m  r o l l e r 

Foam rolling and I are pretty tight, not gonna lie. In season, I roll out two to three times a day. Out of season I still go for a quick roll-out session on the daily. There are tons of rollers out there, but my favorites have ridges or bumps to really massage your muscles. Also in this department is this awesome plastic ball that you can use to roll out the soles of your feet. (People also use golf balls for this, and I've heard that works just as well). Doing this is great if you have shin problems or muscle spasms in your feet.

a  p o s i t i v e  a t t i t u d e

Yeah, yeah, sometimes it's not the easiest, but I truly believe that the thing that makes running the easiest is a positive mindset. The runs where I genuinely want to run instead of doing it because I feel it's obligatory are the best runs. Obviously there are going to be days that you just don't want to run, but the more you think happy thoughts about running, the more you'll enjoy it.

And that concludes this collection of odd-ends I use to make running a little easier on the day-to-day. Let me know if you have any essentials when it comes to running or working out in general!

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