November 28, 2016

The Gift Guide for Those Who'd Rather Not

It's officially that time of year again. The season we love, the season we sorta hate, the season we spend between childlike giddiness and all-out panic.

Oh, the holidays.

For those with large families, it may mean trying to bargain off creepy uncle Sal as your Secret Santa recipient. For those with small families, it may mean you and your husband getting your stories straight for your Annual Christmas Dinner Interrogation. For the festive ones, it means cookie swaps and ABC Family marathons and hidden pickles. For the not-so-festive ones, it means wine and Netflix and all your condiments in plain sight. 

And for bloggers?

It means gift guide on gift guide on gift guide.

Now, I've been a "blogger" for several years but I've always felt like I—a girl who hasn't owned lip gloss since fourth grade—had no business participating in this trend. After all, one search through Pinterest and you'll see most gift guides have the same things: makeup palettes, bath bombs, those weird antler things that belong on your gallery wall.

In other words, things I know nothing about.

Now, don't get me wrong. I think those things are cute, just like everyone else. But I also feel like I'm not quite Susie McBlogger enough to actually put them on my site. I mean, sure, I could try to be a little more trendy, maybe use some makeup other than Maybelline mascara... but I'd rather not.

This year, though, I've done it. I've found the perfect solution. This year, I've put together one of those coveted gift guides—filled with coffee mugs and throw pillows and silver bangles—but I've mixed it together with a dash of "nope." The trendiest of trendy guides, for those who'd rather not.

Susie McBlogger will be so proud.

"Owner is shady. Dogs are cool." mat. For the person who doesn't like people-people, but can tolerate dog-people. Sometimes.

Milkshake anxiety tank. It's a rare occasion when the word "milkshake" and "anxiety" can be used in the same sentence. This is one of them.

"I Hate Everyone" bracelet. It looks so sweet, but that's just because people can't see what's going on inside. Sort of like you.

Fox mug. The pun is only the second best part of this mug.

"Nope" sweatshirt. For the one who doesn't necessarily wear her heart on her sleeve, but doesn't mind it on her chest.

"Because cats" pillow. Some days, you don't need anyone else in your life. Because, cats.

The face blanket. For the one who just can't on an entirely different level.

Happy Holidays everyone!
Let the madness begin.

November 10, 2016

Happiness Is a State of Mind

Since graduating from college, I've called "home" to a respectable variety of places. My favorite by far, though, has been the cities.

First, there was Chicago, where every Sunday I'd pick up quarters to use in the community washing machine and walk two city blocks to get groceries from Trader Joe's. And then there was Washington, DC, where I'd get lunch from the food trucks in Farragut Square and eat it across the street from the picketers at the White House.

Now, I live in southwest Florida, where no one pickets and I have my own washing machine.

But while you'd think these things would've made this move easy, the transition to southwest Florida may have been the hardest one yet.

You see, since college, I've decided that I'm a "city person." As in, I like living in downtown apartments with four bars within half a mile. I like taking the subway to work and watching St. Patrick's Day parades from my apartment window. I like having brunch joints and used bookstores and yoga studios all on my street.

I loved Chicago and DC because they were rarely ever predictable and definitely never boring.

But a city is the exact opposite of where I live now. Where I live now, there's a 6 PM rush at Carrabba's before everyone heads home to turn in. Public transportation consists of two Uber drivers and their minivans, and the only thing I can see from my window is hole 9 of the community golf course. My neighbors are retirees from up north, who come down every winter to congregate in driveways and gossip at the community pool. Every day is predictable because that's the way people here want it.

It's a much, much slower, quieter way of life in southwest Florida, one that I still don't think I'm used to.

But to be honest, I've never given southwest Florida much of a chance. Instead, I've spent most of my mental energy comparing it to Chicago and DC, a match-up I had determined Florida would lose from the start. I mean, I am a city person in a very un-city place. How could I possibly be happy with my living situation when I'm a zebra squished in a fish tank?

And the answer to that question is that I couldn't—it was just not possible for me to be happy.

But it's not because of what was around me—it's because of what was in my own head.

You see, it's like Dale Carnegie (and every fortune cookie writer ever) has said: It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.

Basically, I can decide my situation is great or it is horrible, that I am happy or I am not. Either way, I'll be right.

So recently, I've been working on changing my state of mind. I've been focusing on noticing—and enjoying—the great things about southwest Florida instead of what it lacks. I'm focusing on the fact that I live in a place that is warm and colorful, even in November.

And sure, there are a lot of old people here—but where there are old people, farmer's markets are sure to follow. And where there are farmer's markets, there are fresh vegetables, homemade sweet tea, and pineapples just waiting to be photographed.

And if a blogger can't appreciate a place like that, well, is she really even a blogger at all?