Self-care is survival but self-love is sacred.

There are no wrong decisions.

Somehow I’ve managed to get to my 22nd year in this life and no one ever told me this.

There are no wrong decisions after your tears have blended with the water in the shower as your head is flooded with thoughts between the alternatives, your knees are as raw as your eyelids from falling on the floor and begging God – or the universe, whoever responds first – for an answer, when you’ve typed and printed and dated your resignation letter and hung it on your fridge so you can see it everyday.

When you’ve reached that point, there are no wrong decisions.

Of all the things my mother taught me how to do, taking care of myself was never one of them.  I never realized how important it was to actually love the body where your soul resides. And now, as I tilt my head and listen to the muscle knots crunch over each other, I wonder how long it would take for the neglect to catch up with me if I hadn’t noticed the decay when I did.  The bags under my eyelids are not designer, my friends. But I can remember the last time I felt well-rested!

Tuesday. Two short days ago when I had a day off work.  It was the first morning I can remember when I told my husband good morning before coffee.

I’ve never done that before.

I also notice the pain in my fingertips as a type from nails whittled down to nibs, ripped cuticles wearing drops of blood like ruby necklaces, and the flaking, onion-like layers of the nail itself floating across the keys.

If it were anyone else, I’d scoop them up and wrap like a burrito in a blanket, hand them a cup of homemade hot chocolate (made using my tiramisu truffles from Italy – what else?) and stroke their hair as I convinced them to quit their job – or anything else that made them so dreadfully unhappy.

And knowing that, I have to ask:

Why can’t I do that for myself?

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I live in a world created by Elizabeth Bishop.

Now that I’ve finished my undergraduate degree, I suppose I need something else to occupy my time – as if a wedding, new city living, and new job wasn’t enough!

My new goal is to find happiness.

I’m not sure what this looks like for me.  To be honest, this is the first time where I’ll actually be able to do and have what I want…I just wish I knew what I wanted.

I think I’ll be spending more time here, indulging in my creative outlet.  Drinking more tea and clacking on these keys.  I’m in the process of trying to get some poetry published. Turns out, I’m not too bad at it — according to the magazines that I’ve submitted to, anyway.  I’ve made it past the couple rounds of rejections and I’m awaiting the final verdict in a couple more places.

One thing that I plan to experiment with this summer is the writing process of sestinas. It’s a rather complicated fixed verse form consisting of six stanzas of six lines each, normally followed by a three-line envoi. The words that end each line of the first stanza are used as line endings in each of the following stanzas, rotated in a set pattern (see image).
I have one in the works currently – I even have a little literary nibble to share with you.  This piece is called “Graduation” (which makes terrible sense since writers nearly always write about what they know).

Like ants swarming a hill, I marched mechanically next to you
as the teeming crowd lumped us into boxes, our bright futures
fated as our cardboard crowns perched precariously on our heads –
further evidence that our participation trophy childhoods hadn’t lost
its steeled grip on the helm that directed our prescribed paths
while we gulped anti-anxiety pills down like the rest of our choices.

I’m also practicing my editing process.  It helps when I hate everything that appears on the screen because I’m then so motivated to change it.

New goal: Write a sestina a week.

 

The story of man runs in a dreary circle.

It was 2013 and I was sweating nervously thinking about the amount of perspiration that I would shed during the many hours that I would invest to play soccer at my college – as if the schoolwork enough wasn’t intimidating enough.

It was 2014 and I was moaning at the thought of going to nanny for 4 boys all summer and not getting paid nearly enough to run around and chase “noise with dirt on it” for eight hours.

It was 2015 and I could feel the half-eaten oatmeal churning in my stomach thinking about returning to my internship at SBMF and having just another one of many crappy days as I extracted protein from stool samples.

It’s 2016 and now I’m dreading driving my hour commute tomorrow to arrive at my official first job where I begin to learn how to detest corporate America and the healthcare regulations.

Year after year after year and I realize that history repeats itself every summer. Somehow, all I want to do is take a breath and be satisfied with where I am in life. Maybe that’s why the 20s are so hard.

Truly no matter how close you are currently to where you want to be for the rest of your life, and no matter how your fingers itch for the next step, and no matter how little space remains between this time and the next – satisfaction and happiness are dangerously illusive.

You’d think I would’ve learned by now.

But I haven’t.

In fact, I’m stuck in the same place I was before, wondering how I’m going to get through this summer just like the others.

I’m thankful for/to:
1) have a job in the first place
2) to be able to live at home with wonderful people that I don’t get to see nearly as much as I wish I could during the rest of the year
3) to have a best friend who can encourage me and wipe the tears away and remain close despite the miles between us.

I’m trying something that I didn’t do before. The goal is to wake up early, appreciate my time, actually eat breakfast, pray for peace and rest for my weary soul, and remember the things that I should be, and am, grateful for. If history repeats itself and I haven’t found a way that works in the past, maybe I should try something new.

Switch my mindset.

Alter my own reality.

Find a new identity.

But maybe, if history truly repeats itself, then maybe I’m not becoming a new person at all. Maybe I’m finding the person that I was before, who resurfaces whenever I need her to.

Just breathing can be such a luxury sometimes.

Today felt like a Monday. It’s a Wednesday.

But it doesn’t matter. Everyone at work thought it was a Monday too — or at least they were acting like it. On days like this, after interactions with people like that, upon parking in front of an apartment that I barely call home, I always feel an incredibly motivation to make myself happy.

It’s an interesting concept, the elusive happiness that slips through our fingers like water. I thought this internship would make me happy because it would get me closer to my goal. I forgot that even though the top of the staircase can give you a view, that the individual steps can be a hassle.

So I’m doing my best to find my happy place. I tried gorging on gummy worms before I decided that healthy food would be better so I should eat apples and natural peanut butter. I tried blog binging — but this online society soon overwhelmed me and restrained myself from touching the keys for a little while (sorry about that). I tried reading one of my favorite books but I was so disappointed by the fact that I knew what was going to happen that I even ventured into a bookstore to get new literature. But my hopes were quickly dashed when all the books were boring or had the same plotlines or had me wondering how in the world they had gotten published in the first place. I buried myself in Netflix episodes and breathed in the musty smell of my unwashed teddy bear until I remembered that it’s July and my apartment is poorly air-conditioned — they say it is, but I sometimes doubt it.

So here I am, sitting on a couch with a overheating computer on my sweaty legs, halfway through the journey to happiness and wondering where I took that wrong turn.

And this was my conclusion:

I just want to breathe in a place with no expectations.

Isn’t it beautiful? I borrowed the image from another blog that I follow: Make Life Easier. Oh, the irony. Isn’t it funny how a single place can totally change your mindset? As a person who is thoroughly impacted my the location of certain events, my entire mood can change depending on where I am.

Someday, I will have a balcony like this. Or maybe not. Maybe I’ll just have a small coffee cup and a few herb plants on my back porch. Either way, it doesn’t matter so long as I can sit and breathe for a few minutes without worrying what my schedule has for the next hour.

And right now, I want to be there.

Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.

Once again, I find myself lacking the words to say what I’m thinking — only to discover that someone else has had the same thought! So here’s are ThoughtCatalog’s imput on happiness. Plus a little pep talk because life is hard.

I’m in that awkward stage of life where I don’t know which Taylor Swift song to blast. 22 or Never Grow Up? Both lyrics seem to apply. I’m both “happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time” while realizing that this whole world is “so much colder than I thought it would be.”

Adulting is a difficult thing, especially in a new city that you don’t love, with roommates/strangers who you barely know/understand. It’s important to remember the motivation behind the whole ordeal and I’ve been repeating it like a mantra. It’s all for the resume, baby.

And that’s the most difficult part of all. When people ask how it’s been, I’m flooded with dread and despair at the fact that I’m only halfway done. But in the moment, I don’t remember it being that bad. For the most part, I enjoy what I do.

I mean, I wake up not wanting to go to work. While I’m there though, it’s not terrible — I’m just filling in hours until I can go home again. Isn’t that what work is? That’s what I’ve always seen and what I’ve always been taught.

Maybe I should listen to Shake it Off instead…

Treat your makeup like jewelry for your face.

10 Reasons Why I Wear Red Lipstick:
1) Because I will never deny myself the chance to look as fierce as Tyra Banks while channeling the exact same shade as Taylor Swift (Dragon Girl by NARS…you’re welcome).
2) Because the bright color makes my cheeks look perfectly flushed, draws attention away from the dark circles under my eyes, and makes my teeth appear whiter
3) Because I believe in dynamic first impressions
4) Because everyone needs a little color in their life
5) Because it’s the little things in life that mean the most, especially when it’s a 2-second swipe of confidence in the middle of a bad day
6) Because you need to leave your mark on the world — even if it’s only pressed on the rim of a coffee cup
7) Because it reminds me that I can do what makes me happy without depending on the opinions of others
8) Because it adds the finishing touch to an outfit
9) Because it helps me create a unique look all my own that sticks in people’s minds
10) Because I can happily look in the mirror, smile at myself, and remind myself that there should be a drop of fun in every day

“All this time, and you speak to me as though I were a flighty pinprick of a girl. I am a magician! Did you ever think, even once, that I loved lipstick and rouge for more than their color alone? I am a student of their lore, and it is arcane and hermetic beyond the dreams of alchemists. Did you ever wonder why I gave you so many pots, so many creams, so much perfume? …
Cosmetics are an extension of the will. Why do you think all men paint themselves when they go to fight? When I paint my eyes to match my soup, it is not because I have nothing better to do than worry over trifles. It says, I belong here, and you will not deny me. When I streak my lips red as foxgloves, I say, Come here, male. I am your mate, and you will not deny me. When I pinch my cheeks and dust them with mother-of-pearl, I say, Death, keep off, I am your enemy and you will not deny me. I say these things, and the world listens. Because my magic is as strong as an arm. I am never denied.”

― Catherynne M. Valente, Deathless