Phone Addiction

Here’s a somewhat embarrassing fact: I think I have a mild phone addiction. Okay, maybe it’s not so mild. More like medium. I have a medium-strength phone addiction.

Well, doesn’t everyone? I guess… But that doesn’t make it disrupt my life any less or make me happy. In fact, it almost makes it worse. I hate looking around in public, typically on public transportation or worse, a social engagement, and seeing heads down, eyes glazed over, thumbs (probably with the muscles of the hulk at this point) scrolling through some app. I think I have a sort of guilt because I want to be different. I look upon the phone-obsessed, torn as I partly feel like a crotched-y old woman who thinks the youths don’t know how to communicate anymore but partly jonesing for an Instagram fix.

Thinking back through my life up to this moment, I can easily relate this to my dad waking me up every weekend or summer morning when I was in high school, saying “sweetly” (and judgingly), “Cindy, it’s 10 am, are you going to do something today?” It’s hammered in me that to sleep in is wrong and lazy and you should make the most of your day. I did grow up in Franklin, Massachusetts after all, so it’s good that one thing Ben Franklin said has stuck with me: “Early to bed and early to rise makes a (wo)man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

Trying to get me to wake up early is fine and I’m sure my dad’s intentions were pure. Who wouldn’t want to instill motivation and a strong work ethic in their child? (However I’m still weirdly bitter that my chore was never to mow the lawn, because I grew up thinking it was a thing that only your dad could do, and I feel ruined as a feminist.) But can you not see the inkling of shaming others for doing that? I don’t know, maybe I’m trying too hard to connect the two. But when I see people on their phones I think, “you guys, it’s 10 am, we have to get up! I mean, uh, shouldn’t we put down our phones???”

Unfortunately for me and everyone else suffering from this, it’s a bit difficult to totally get rid of my phone, because oh yeah, technology is actually quite helpful. I have a map at my fingertips, google a click away, and music whenever I want it. It’s great! But do I really need it all the time? No, I guess I actually know the drive to the cape at this point. If I HAVE to search something I probably can wait. And I don’t have to constantly be flooding my brain with music but instead perhaps take the earbud out and talk to my coworkers, ponder human existence, or listen more intently to the world around me.

But believe me, I’ve thought about ditching my smart phone for a flip phone. I don’t even know how you could access the internet on that. There was a button on one of my old phones that could connect you to AOL, but I was too afraid to open it and get scolded for using internet because who knows much that cost. Plus, why would I need it?! Oh, sweet past me, you didn’t even realize all the millions of forms of content you would need at all times.

The trouble is, I get a lot out of all the apps. I love Instagram because it’s pretty, but it’s probably the most dangerous, because I can spend so much time on it and then emerge bleary-eyed and wishing my life were cooler. Facebook I would quit but everyone is on it, so even though it’s the worst, it’s the hub. Twitter is too angsty for me, but can be really funny at times and I like to tweet about the Bachelor. I can’t lose Snapchat because my brother sends videos of my nephew on that. UGH, can’t you see the agony?!

Anyway, today I read through some tips to avoid phone addiction. One tip got me thinking. It said to replace the word “can’t” with “don’t”. So when I’m trying to cut down my phone usage, instead of saying “I can’t go on my phone right now” say “I don’t go on my phone after dinner” or “…at work” or “…more than three times per day”. This intrigued me because it is creating a new identity for our ego to have. If I say, oh I don’t go on social media more than once a day, I will eventually cling to that as a point of pride. That point in my ego will develop until it’s who I truly want to be, and my behavior will change to be that way. When I say that I don’t go on social media more than once a day, I’m saying lots of things about myself. I’m saying “I’m engaged with the world around me, and don’t you want to be too? I am too busy (hair toss), I am active and healthy, physically and mentally, I probably read a lot and my room is definitely clean because think of all the stuff you could get done if you actually value your time like I do.”

Clearly I have some already established ideas about what it would be like to not go on my phone as much, and I have some serious qualms with the ego. I’ve never thought of leveraging this aspect of yourself and putting it to good use. It worries me, because what will happen when this identity is rooted and overgrown with other identifying characteristics? Can I even use my ego in this way if I’m constantly trying to separate myself from it? It’s not like I don’t have an ego or that I’m perfectly separate from it by any means. But it seems counterintuitive to work my ego for one purpose but squander its less useful traits. Then again, the ego is not necessarily wrong. It just is. And let’s be honest, we wouldn’t have it if it weren’t useful biologically and evolutionarily. Ego makes you protect your land, family, food, shelter more fiercely. But it gets in the way of relationships approximately one million times more.

Luckily for me, there were other tips! Such as putting your phone far away (maybe even locking it in your car!), forgiving yourself when you do go on, and replacing the habit. Just to add my own, I think I might start writing down how I feel after each jaunt through the apps. I think if I note the immediate emotions I will be more motivated to make a change. Additionally, I’m going to look for a club to join or sign up for a weekly yoga or fitness class. I think if I am busier I will be less likely to whittle away my time scrolling. Also, I should load up my library wish list with several books so I always have something to read.

Also, time to congratulate me, because so far, I have succeeded in my goal of posting on my blog twice a month this year! I’m proud of myself for being consistent and following through so far on what I’ve set out to do. Overall I see my writing improving, though I do tend to babble, but I used to just start a topic and then when it got out of hand not really know what to do. Now I try to see it through and keep it simpler. Have you ever noticed how the Simpsons episodes start so far from where they end up? That’s like my blog, except I’m way less funny. Yay for me for following through, and even though using my phone less might be more difficult, it’s reassuring knowing I have the skill set to do it.

Finally, thanks to my dad for making me wake up by 10 am on the weekends or in the summer. It made me value my day and what I can get done in it so much more, and now I love mornings, working on special projects around the house, and exercising while it’s still light out. It’s made me treasure cocktail hour on a summer day, because I know I did lots of awesome stuff that I enjoy that day. Even though the age of smartphones might bring me down at times, I think those wake-ups saved me from thinking that’s ok.



Don’t cry over spilled deodorant

Quick entry about positive changes: today I finally made homemade deodorant! I was using up the rest of my Degree stick into the new year, and the recipe I followed for the natural, homemade deodorant insisted that I detox my body from the lab-created, unnatural stuff. For THREE WEEKS. Ah! So for 24 days – overachiever, aka I didn’t feel like making it on a weeknight – I washed my pits everyday (otherwise I’d be shunned) and my laundry pile grew to new heights. Side note: the first week wasn’t bad at all, I think because it was built up in my system? But from there it went downhill and I repulsed even myself. Also, the commercials are right – stress sweat is a million times worse than physical exertion sweat! And then you get more stressed/anxious that people smell you, and you spiral.

But today, TODAY I rejoiced at the expanse of time I had to clean out my old deodorant tube and make the new stuff. What took time was cleaning out the tube; whipping together the ingredients was actually pretty quick. I poured it into my container, carefully placed it on my shelf in the refrigerator, then went to clean up. A minute or two later I realized I was approaching shaky-hand level hunger, so I went to pull out some leftovers from the fridge, when whoops – I knocked over the deodorant. Not having hardened in the two minutes since I had put it in there, it spilled, dripped down between the two sheets of glass shelving, and got over every Tupperware in sight. Noooooo. I frantically snatched it up. I lost probably 40-50% of it. All my hard work! Those ingredients were kind of hard to find! What a mess! It was everywhere. I cried pathetically, not actually sad enough to heave but just so frustrated! But then I showed myself how much I’ve grown. I gave myself five seconds to think about how sucky the situation was (why is “sucky” the best word I can think of to describe this? #notanenglishmajor), ok then five more seconds because man this is rough, then I cleaned up. I wasn’t chipper after those ten seconds, but what else could I do? It happened. It was a mistake. I filled up the container with a little bit that was leftover and I didn’t really know where to put, and I cleaned. Fifteen minutes later, I was in a fine mood again. A little exasperated, but almost laughing.  I realized that I didn’t want to be unhappy, so I (painstakingly) decided not to be. You know that tiny voice that you shush when you’re angry about something, that says Hey, being unhappy is the worst, how about we skip that part this time? It can be so hard to listen to. But being angry is not vindication. It would not un-spill the deodorant or clean up the sticky mess for me. 

I don’t know when exactly I would have reacted differently, but I distinctly felt like in the past, something like this would have destroyed me and/or my day. Is that just regular growing up and developing more coping mechanisms? It seemed like an almost tangible shift in my brain. I think so much of this change is thanks to my yoga practice. Even though I haven’t practiced for practically five months, yoga has changed how I think about everything. I am so much more loving, honest, level-headed, and humble (lol, might not seem it here) than I was before. I am so grateful for all the teachers I’ve had that have inspired and guided this change within me. I can only hope that getting on my mat again will further this growth. (There’s fear there definitely – something for a future post!)

In any case, I couldn’t help but be so happy with myself and how I handled this literally sticky situation. Regulating my emotions, and most importantly restructuring my thought processes, is so hard (and I am one thousand percent not done), but today listening to that tiny voice was so worth it. 

Before I poured it into the old Degree container, and promptly dumped it in the fridge.

Privilege + Ego + Zero Waste

Can we talk about privilege?

Going zero waste has been a great journey for me so far. It has lead me to refuse things I don’t need: junk food, extra shopping trips, trinkets, and straws. It’s opened my eyes to the insane amount of trash we create on a daily basis. However, it also has become an identity my ego clings to and wants to reinforce and let everyone know about. Enter: the trash jar.

This year, I decided I would make a go at a “trash jar” like the stars of the zero waste community and collect any trash I incur in a mason jar in my pantry. When I told people my plan, they largely said “what?” at first because they couldn’t conceive that someone’s trash in a year, let alone a day, could fit in a jar (or not be disgusting). But, with some explaining, and reinforcement over the last couple months as I’ve talked about my zero waste life more, everyone knows.

I felt unsure about keeping a jar at first. For starters, I had read this post from (my first introduction to ZW) that explains that the trash jar is essentially bullshit. I thought, “then why do you keep it?” But I understand now. Besides ego, it is a great way to pique people’s interest. It is like when you are writing your resume and you want to have a nice stat on there to draw a potential employer to the hard facts of your performance. It is measurable and awe-inspiring and shocking. I wanted to keep a jar of my own for these reasons, but also for the reasons people don’t talk about as much: ego. I wanted to prove that I was part of the zero waste community too, because look, I can fit it in one jar!!!!!!! Aren’t I cool?!?!!? The jar showed how different I was, how *good* I am, and how hard I must work.

Even though I kind of knew that ego was the driving force, I still started the jar. But recently, it’s become hard to ignore. I’m starting to like the jar less and less. Not only does it make me maniacal about avoiding trash at all costs, but it feels like a lie. Think of all the trash I make at restaurants and don’t see for myself. What about the straws that came in my sister’s and my coffees at breakfast last week that we wouldn’t have thought to ask to skip, because it was hot coffee? What about the receipts I refuse, but that print out automatically and the cashier throws away? I could go on. It feels wrong to brag about only making a little trash, when in reality it is only the tip of the iceberg.

The jar in question.

The other big part of what I don’t like about the trash jar, and having such high expectations for oneself, is the privilege that goes unmentioned. If you live low or zero waste in this non-zero waste world, there is a level of privilege that feels icky to ignore. I can’t brag about this when others don’t get to. I am able to live low waste because of so many reasons:

  • I have a job that pays me money
    • I got this job because of my education and work experience, which I wouldn’t have without my parents paying for it, or my high school grades which I was able to focus on because I didn’t have to be working all the time to support my family; in short, our socioeconomic status because of our racial privilege… etc. times infinity
  • This job pays me enough money in 40 hours of my week that I have time to spend doing things I enjoy rather than working more hours
  • I do not have children that I must care for or support
  • I do not have family members I have to support
  • Essentially everything boils down to the uncomfortable truth that my and my family’s whiteness and socioeconomic status (obviously interconnected) has gained me this privilege! (And heteronormativity and so many things omg)

So I am able to feel superior to everyone else because I was able to spend my time making tortillas from scratch, instead of buying them at the store because I had to go to my second or third job or take care of family or because I don’t have the space in my kitchen for all these ingredients or because I don’t have a kitchen at all.

I am so lucky.

At work, I am part of a group called the White Accountability Space. In that space, with those people, we talk about and confront our white privilege. In a meeting at the beginning of January, that meeting’s facilitator asked us how we want to work towards racial justice this year, and how we can be more involved and better. I told the group, wow, I feel bad, because all of my New Year’s resolutions have been about zero waste rather than about racial justice, which is something I also sincerely care about. Another group member responded, what if by going zero waste, you are actually working towards racial justice? Those most impacted by poor environmental living conditions are most often people of color. I will probably always be able to access clean water in my life, and when the effects of climate change really increase, I will be safe from the increased precipitation and extreme temperatures because I will have shelter, and will be able to repair my roof if it leaks, and so many other things. I also don’t have to live near a landfill or area that has hazardous air quality because of garbage. Zero wasters work toward a cleaner earth for everyone, but those largely impacted by the changes will be lower-income people, which are more often people of color. (Not to say only heterosexual, white, middle class women can reduce their trash. At all! But hopefully you understand what I’m saying.)

When she said that, I felt a sense of relief! I also felt responsibility that reinforced why I’m doing this. But thinking about that now, in regard to the trash jar, I also feel gross. I feel weird bragging about my little trash when there might be someone who wants to create less trash but doesn’t have the resources to. While I think there are some overarching things almost everyone could do (refuse a bag! straw! flyers!), I don’t think it’s right to flaunt my ability to spend an hour making tortillas like everyone should be praising me. I am lucky I get to spend my time this way, and I don’t want to forget it.

Just to add to things, I don’t really like the message the trash jar sends about ZW expectations. Or veganism totally. Like my sister says, outraged, “if I’m not going vegan I shouldn’t try at all?!” No one is perfect, and expecting everything out of people who show even a little desire to reduce their trash is SO harmful. I don’t want to scare someone off because they are making the changes that they are ready for now. I hope I haven’t made someone afraid to reach out to me about all things trashy. That would make me sad, because no matter how much of my own trash I’m reducing, by scaring someone out of living a zero- or low- or medium- or just-a-little-less- waste life negates all my hard work!

There are SO MANY ACTIONS you can take to reduce your trash by a ton (literally, because Americans create over 250 million tons of trash annually!). And more people taking these steps feels way more important to me than what is in my trash jar individually. I see the amount of change required in going zero waste as an exponential graph:

Where work or lifestyle changes required is the y axis and how close you are to zero waste is the x axis. You can make like 5-10 simple changes that might alter some things in your life, but not as much as you think, and your trash will be nearly eliminated. Going that final step to “zero” (whispers: it’s a lie) requires more effort: avoid those receipts like the plague, don’t you dare eat a bag of chips, and if it has a sticker on it you’re out of the club!!!

With all these reasons to ditch the trash jar, it’s still hard to give up. Despite all of this, my ego still wants to have this way to measure how amazing I am. And I don’t want to tell people I’ve stopped using the jar and have them think I couldn’t handle it because it was too hard! My sister is very against the jar because of its negative nature of pointing out your failures in a way. While I see that, I don’t think it will be the impetus that makes me get rid of it. When she said that, my ego defended the trash jar in my head, thinking that she probably is so against it because she wishes she made less trash! How cruel. All of me apologizes on behalf of my ego, sister!

I don’t mean to say that taking that large step in my efforts has been all negative. It’s been challenging, and made me realize that I don’t need as much as I thought. What I do like to point out is that I am just like anyone who likes to have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. I just did something about it when I was ready to, and it was pretty easy. Until businesses and lawmakers catch on, there will always be trash. And it’s very unrealistic for me to think otherwise. I’ll keep voting with my dollars and buying chickpeas in bulk. And if you aren’t sure where to start in protecting the earth, I hope I’m someone you turn to. I’m no expert, but I’ll cheer you on the whole way.

Time Hoppin’

Each day, the app Timehop notifies me that I have a whole store of memories to relive. What happened on all my previous January 24s?! I wonder, and swipe open the app. Not all January 24s though, just the ones in the last 8-9 years or so (since I’ve been active on social media). I scroll through my old photos – mostly taken in the last two years since I’ve had this phone, tweets, Facebook statuses or wall posts, and Instagrams. It has gotten me thinking about the past more than usual. When it comes down to it, so much of what we think about is about the past. All our memories and knowledge comes from what we have previously learned. All the imagery in our head is from memories, even if we are constructing something we haven’t seen yet – it’s based on what we know already. This is more scientific than I’m intending, but what I’m saying is that all we have to think about is things that have already happened. Barring insanely energetic people that only think of the future, I think everyone dwells at times.

When I tap through my memories on my phone, it’s easy for me to get sucked into thinking about a certain era and long for it. Mostly it’s memories from last year, when I was in California, but anything can get me – pictures from senior year of college make me ache for the freedom and excitement of nearing graduation and living near my brother and his wife in such a cool city; clear sadness I felt at this time of year during my earlier years of college make me want to reach through my screen and hug past me and tell me things will get better. Silly Facebook posts from when it was new to me and my friends in high school make me miss seeing my best friends and everyone I knew everyday, and seeing posts about my long-distance high school boyfriend make me eye-roll and wish I had had some foresight (we started dating AFTER high school ended and we wouldn’t be in the same city. No regrets, but come on me).

But at the end of the day, these moments are in the past, and they aren’t tangible, though I can see some of them so clearly. I still feel as though I just left Santa Barbara – like earlier today I could have been walking down State Street or getting out of a yoga class at one of my favorite studios there (ugh, the yoga!). But they don’t exist anymore, and all we have is the future. What do I do with these memories? It can be nice to relive them, and I go on Timehop for a reason… But are they doing more harm than good? As I aim for minimalism in the physical items around me, should I be just as ruthless with how I treat the past? Holding onto memories isn’t healthy, but severing my grip on them seems just as harsh. Although I wish I could Eternal-Sunshine-of-a-Spotless-Mind some things, I have to address the constant need I have for myself to be living everything at once. My biggest conflict in my life now is my desire to be a free spirit and explore the world versus my desire to be stable and make a difference. I want it all and I know that’s my ego speaking on behalf of all of me, but its voice is loud and not to be reckoned with at times. If I constantly want more than one thing, I don’t think I’ll ever be content. For moments, sure, but long-term? Consistently? I’m not sure. Maybe that’s why I get so wrapped up in memories of a different time – of my Santa Barbara days, I very much miss the freedom. I was delaying life in a sense, and now life is here, and all the responsibilities that come with it. Overall, the main theme is how difficult it is to grow up and take ownership of your life.

On this blog, I once wrote about how I value all emotions I have, because they are part of the human experience and I am lucky to have them. (That emo post is here.) I still feel this way – even though sometimes I feel a little more lost than the people around me, I know that I am definitely not alone. There are countless movies and books and songs written about coming of age and dealing with growing up. It is literally the most tired topic because it is so universally felt. At least I’m unoriginal? Even in times of turmoil and discomfort and unsure-ness, I feel endlessly lucky. Because when I can’t pick a direction for my life, it’s not for lack of options. The world is my oyster… Or whatever I want it to be. And this time is precious, and I appreciate living with my roommates and in the same state as most of my family every day. I try not to use those things to keep me from considering other dreams of mine, but for now they are wonderful and I am so grateful. I guess for the time being, Timehop is ok. I can pick up my phone tomorrow morning and see what I did those other January 25s, just as long as I close my phone, look up, and don’t forget to live this one.


Even after almost three weeks, I still get a bad taste in my mouth when I think about Christmas. Well, aspects of it – of course I enjoy spending time with my family, eating delicious food and going on a walk (and now that my parents live on the Cape, the walk is on the beach). The part I still feel room for change and growth in is the gift giving. 

Even before my foray into the world of zero waste, the idea of minimalism was always appealing to me. I frequently daydream about getting rid of all of my stuff and having an empty room to just sit in. Thoughts could come to my head so much more easily, I imagined, and I wouldn’t feel clouded or clogged or anxious. Despite this idealization, I have never really done anything about it – sure, I’ve definitely bought fewer clothes over the years, and I don’t have many knick knacks lying around, but that’s about it. When I was cleaning out my childhood bedroom, I intended to cleanse ruthlessly, but instead I found myself getting teary-eyed reading old report cards and finding old artwork tucked away in bins under my bed. Then, after a day or two of that, I rushed through the rest of it and threw away about a million figurines, did a pretty good job compiling a yard sale collection, but was pretty tired emotionally and just decided to tote the memory-lane-inducing items to the next destination. They are now sitting in my parents’ attic… not being useful. 

In any case, as my lifestyle yields less and less waste, I don’t want to make more. I don’t want more items – I want to fulfill those daydreams of having only what I need. Christmas, however, did not get me closer to that goal. While I did get some items I am excited about, and I value my family’s thoughtfulness in many of the gifts I received, I noticed that I need to change my plan for next year with other relatives. The concept of giving stuff just to fill space grosses me out. Knowing the unnecessary stress that goes into it baffles me. Just this year I realized that people go into debt because of the holidays. That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. I can’t believe someone would think I need a present more than they need financial security! 

Communicating that I do not want anything does not seem to be a simple task. I think, despite the fact that many people feel a burden and stress around the holidays, they still like it. Well, duh, but they must get some sort of reward out of it – it’s something to do, think about, complain about, and then complete. Even though I am touting minimalism here, I myself feel that way a little, at least with certain people. For example, I love trying to think of a good present for my sister. Even though it is a challenge, especially because she is such a good gift giver, it’s a fun mission. This year I went into it very casually, with my principles of giving small gifts, but when the day came I found myself worrying that it wouldn’t be enough. It is hard to want to be minimalist when others around you aren’t on the same page, and when I’m not exactly there yet either.

And how am I supposed to communicate that I do not want to receive gifts? That they can feel rewarded from getting others gifts but not me? It reminds me of “love languages” – it is like telling someone that I don’t want them to express their love for me, because they feel like giving me gifts is showing their love. Which it is, in a way, but only to an extent. Gifting a family member something you know they need, or can be consumed, or improves their life in another way shows thoughtfulness, which I appreciate more than anything. But giving meaningless gifts out of obligation to reach a certain requirement you think you have to attain makes me sad and takes away from the whole thing. I think I will have to tell my family that even though they might feel they are expressing their love through gifts, I have everything I need, and what I want are not items. Donations to charities, their time, and ok fine, maybe a gift card I would use, is more than enough. 

In the morning I will get started on the giant pile I have created of things I do not need or want (unfortunately, a few Christmas presents are in the pile – agh, am I a bad person?!). This time around, I won’t be throwing away a million figurines… it’s all about sustainably re-homing them. Wish me luck! 

Thank you, 2017

Happy End-of-2017! 2017 was a very exciting year for me. On New Year’s Day I woke up in New Orleans while on my road trip. That sentence is misleading… I was supposed to be there! New Orleans was one of my favorite stops. I remember driving from Nashville and seeing the scenery change from rolling hills to flat southern fields to lush and steamy swamps. It was my first destination on my own (besides staying over in D.C. with my brother and his wife, but that doesn’t count!) and it was the first place that I felt was very different from my origin. I loved it. I had so much fun on New Year’s Eve – I was baffled by the lack of any open container ban on alcohol, I danced with people that were totally new to me and felt immediately like friends, and I reveled in the warmth of the city. New Year’s Day, I wore my favorite outfit and felt so much like myself. I ate chicken tenders (this was just before my vegetarianism began) to revive myself from perhaps one too many G&Ts the night before, and I walked endlessly around the French Quarter. I listened to live music in the streets and stumbled into a beautiful store that felt so me – the NOLA Rock Company. I got a bracelet that I treasure to this day because it makes me feel independent, fearless and open-hearted. As it started to pour I ran into a bar and had a mudslide! Life really can be wonderful sometimes.

After New Orleans, I continued on to Houston (driving through a tornado watch, which was terrifying and has since inspired several stress dreams) where I stayed with one of my teammates from GWU Club Cross Country and her lovely family. I woke up the next morning and continued on to Big Bend National Park, at the bend in the Rio Grande between the United States and Mexico. I camped by myself, hiked by myself, feared running out of gas by myself – good times. I used a pocket rocket camp stove for the first time (this felt huge). I continued on to Las Cruces, NM, Scottsdale, AZ, and finally, Santa Barbara, CA. After three months in Santa Barbara, I left for home, taking 26 days to return. This summer I waitressed on Cape Cod again and then in September I moved to Boston and got my first full-time job! I live with roommates that are amazing, so nice and funny, and I feel completely at home.

Sometimes when I think about this past year and the fact that I left a year ago today for California, I get nostalgic and weirdly jealous of myself. I guess I miss the freedom. I really enjoy being near my family in Boston, living with truly the best roommates, and having “financial freedom” because of my job, but I won’t pretend that it is perfect. I often feel like I’m not doing the right thing for myself – I feel like a free spirit that is confined and whose creativity is stunted. The responsibility of not living with my parents anymore (outside of college days) is a tough adjustment for me, and I feel like I’m dragging my feet, but I can’t tell if that’s wrong or not. The balance of wanting to pursue total happiness and knowing that I need to have financial security in the long run is frustrating because I don’t want them to be mutually exclusive, and I am navigating how to avoid that.

My hope for 2018 is that I still feel the excitement and freedom I did in 2017. I want to make decisions based on excitement and an open heart rather than from a place of fear or “should-y” happiness. I want to make sure the 128 hours of the week that I am not working are as fulfilling as possible, and continue working towards improving those other 40 hours as well.

Who knows where 2018 will take me? I think it will be one of the best yet.

Want want want

Recently I have seen such a shift in my values. By recently, I mean over several years – growth and change can take time, man! There are many ways I’ve seen these changes manifest. A big one is how I value items. I do a lot less wanting than I used to. I think I want in bigger ways, like I want to be more proactive. I want growth for myself; growth into values that have earned a spot in my brain as being worth wanting. (That might seem eloquent, but it is not. It is me talking in circles.)

My sister and I have committed to making a large lifestyle change: we are going zero waste. Now, I don’t think someone is ever entirely zero waste, ESPECIALLY considering upstream waste and waste we create without even knowing it. Plus, I’m still going to drive a car (for now ūüėČ ). But there is a lot to open your eyes to – and once you see it it cannot be unseen. But more on zero waste another time. I recently (this time, actually recently, like last week) went through my closet and pulled out two piles of clothing and shoes I do not need or wear or want anymore. When I was younger I used to want want want, especially clothes. Maybe that’s because my parents were footing the bill, but anyway, I find myself really not enjoying trying on clothes or browsing a clothing store or having anything more than I need. There are some things I need in my closet currently, but none are too pressing that I can’t wait until I find a good second-hand deal.

I admire this in myself. Maybe I am just maturing and have finally made the connection in my brain that a cluttered room/house/life makes me unhappy and stopped wanting it in the first place. That’s awesome too. Now just waiting to stop wanting sweets all the time because sugar gives me a headache!

Like I said though, I still want, but in bigger ways. I am enjoying this shift in short-term itches to scratch to long-term, lasting reform and growth I want to make into the person I know I am. The things that make me happy are changing and I am excited to follow them!


Lately I’ve been having trouble writing. ¬†I start with an idea in my mind and then after a few sentences, I don’t think I’ve done the idea justice and I stop. ¬†Or I can’t think of anymore to say. ¬†Or the idea doesn’t even seem substantial enough or “good enough” to make me start writing. ¬†Delete delete delete. ¬†Does everything have to be perfect in order for me to post it? ¬†My ego clings to an ideal of perfection so much so that I experience discomfort when it holds me back from presenting the truth, which is imperfect. ¬†I know that the ego is not wrong, it just is. ¬†I know that consciously but I still try to fight it and set it aside. ¬†Why do we have the ego if it stands in the way? ¬†Biologically and evolutionarily it must benefit us but personally I see more strength in surrender. ¬†Surrender to my truth, imperfections in my writing and imperfections in myself.


Recently I’ve grown to love every emotion I have and every feeling I feel, because they make me human. Even things like embarrassment, flaws, feeling ashamed… I don’t mind. I don’t feel embarrassed often because like I said, we are all human and every feeling or action is rooted in some part of my experience. If an emotion I feel comes from a place of jealousy or negativity, I recognize that my ego and I are not one and the same. People forget that they have egos and that they need to be checked, or they pretend to forget because of social rules… I’m not sure exactly. There’s no shame in having an ego, but I do accidentally pass judgment when people don’t manage theirs.

However, one feeling that I can’t seem to appreciate because it is so cruel is grief. It comes from a place of hurt, deep hurt that weighs on your chest like someone sitting there or a blanket that is much too warm for the season.

Recently, I learned that a girl just a few years younger than I am, from the town my parents live and where I am returning to this month, died of cancer. She had gone through treatment for almost a year, gotten clean scans and started returning to her normal life at college, when she got sick again and this time the disease was untreatable. I can’t stop thinking about it. This poor poor girl, who won’t get to live past 20 years old. Reading about her, she sounded like the girl you want to be your best friend. It is so wrong, so unnatural that her parents had to say goodbye to her so soon. I feel their pain in my whole heart, but I know I can only feel a tiny fraction of it, and I feel so sorry that they have to feel more than this. 

I feel like I know her younger sister, who looked up to her so much. I am a younger sister, and I always want to be. In my grief for her is fear for myself, which is selfish but I can’t help it. I wish I could hug her so hard she forgets for a second, and we could run so fast that she couldn’t think. I wish we could swim in the ocean together and the steady waves would lull her into feeling content, maybe not happy, but a sense of feeling at ease, and she wouldn’t feel bad for feeling it. 

I am so sad for this family. What I hope more than anything is that they communicate with each other even though they will grieve differently. That they will love harder instead of become harder. That they will be honest with every feeling they have, about everyone in their lives, and make sure everyone knows it. That they will tell each other what they need. I hope they can find the strength within themselves to accept something that has no reason and just is. That sounds so hard to me, and I admire them for even trying. I admire them for living, for breathing, for crying, for hugging, for every moment they have together. I am so sorry.

Returning to the ego, one difficult part of this is that there is nothing I can do. I don’t know this family and even if I did, there is nothing that could ever fix it. No returning to normal, just creating a new normal. I keep telling myself to move on and live my life, but then I get angry because they can’t, she can’t, and it seems so unfair. I know my being miserable won’t lessen their burden, but I wish it could. I would take some of it for them. I wish I could take an hour or a day of their grief so they could do things like eat or go shopping. I wish I could go to school for her younger sister and pay attention and somehow she would learn it all. But needing to be involved is my ego, our ego, needing to be tended to.  Can you believe that through all of this, our ego has the nerve to say “uh hey, that’s really awful, but how can I be involved?” I know I said I’m not embarrassed of my ego, but man, this is almost too bad to post on my blog. 

I guess all we can do is constantly remind ourselves how lucky we are: for our health, for each other, for the sky above us and earth below us, for laughing, for crying, for feeling embarrassed, for community, for strangers, for everything. Maybe one day we’ll feel grateful for grief too. 

How to Drive Across the Country and Not Go Broke or Crazy

DISCLAIMER: This blog post does not serve as any hours of driving lessons, no matter how long it takes you to read. ¬†Please head to your local drivers’ ed for actual driving lessons. ¬†If you can’t drive a car, maybe you should¬†find a friend who can or plan something else, like a bike riding trip.

Having driven from Massachusetts to California earlier this year (I’ll write about the actual trip sometime, I promise!), I realized I learned a lot about how to save money, be safe, and just overall not fall victim to any disasters along the way. ¬†Nomadic Matt has a great blog post specifically about saving money, and I might have some overlapping advice. ¬†Plus, considering I have the longer drive ahead of me, I could find out that I actually know nothing and this is all terrible advice. ¬†Fingers crossed that isn’t the case!


  1. Use the Couchsurfing app to save money. ¬†If you haven’t heard of it, this app connects you to people who will open their home to you and let you sleep on their couch, air mattress, or if you luck out, a bed! ¬†Fo free! ¬†Beware that if you are just looking for a place to crash and keep to yourself, this is not where to find it. ¬†People on CS are sociable and love to hear about your travels, talk about their own, and just meet new people and bond in general.
    • It might sound creepy at first, but every surfer has to leave a review about the host, so you can read all of them to calm yourself.
  2. Reach out to people you know, or people they know, around the country. ¬†You’d be surprised how many of your friends and acquaintances will be happy to hear from you.
  3. Don’t be afraid to use different Airbnbs in the same city. ¬†I didn’t learn this on purpose, but I stand by it. ¬†When I was in Nashville, my friend Alora (aka freewheelinalora) and I stayed in a nice spot pretty close to downtown. ¬†However, I was planning on continuing my road trip the morning after her flight, so I found a cheaper option about 20 minutes outside of the city that was aimed at travelers looking to break up their drive. ¬†Not only was it cheaper, but it also got me away from the city and potential traffic the next morning. ¬†If you don’t mind shuttling your belongings around a little, I recommend finding a no-frills room for your last night (or even couchsurfing!).
  4. Outside of cities, try to camp when possible, because it’s fun, and Couchsurfing options in rural areas ARE creepy.


  1. Cook your own food as much as possible. ¬†This I cannot stress enough. ¬†So much of your road trip budget will be on food, and there is so much room to save. ¬†Whenever I book an Airbnb, I make sure the host allows kitchen access! ¬†If you are with a friend and on a more “vacation vibe”, remember that you can still go out without eating dinner out. ¬†Even if you just have a light meal at home, you won’t be as hungry when you’re out and won’t need to order as much food. ¬†Or buy oatmeal or bagels and eat breakfast there before you head out!
    • If your friend is a bigger spender and you feel weird about talking about money, suggest wanting to cook a meal in because you miss your typical meals or are getting sick of the heaviness of restaurant food.
    • If you have a copilot, make a plan to cook your food a certain number of times per week or per destination. ¬†(However,¬†you should definitely have a conversation about budgeting and finances with your road trip partner, and communicate about it openly to avoid tension.)
    • This point supports my advice to use Couchsurfing, because often hosts will love a home-cooked meal as a thank you for letting you stay. ¬†Hotels don’t have that!
  2. Along that same vein, order inexpensive meals/drinks when you go out.  Cocktails are pretty much the same wherever you go, but trying local beers can be exciting while also saving you a few dollars.
  3. Don’t eat fast food. ¬†Actually, you can really only learn this for yourself. ¬†Every once in a while, especially at the beginning, you’ll be really excited about all the junk food at your fingertips. ¬†However, after eating comes more sitting in the car, and you will feel gross. ¬†Get it out of your system when you feel you need to, or reserve it for emergencies (low food supply). ¬†I recommend buying pre-made salads at grocery stores, but be careful to not OD on chicken caesar like I did. ¬†Since I’ll be on the road for longer this time, I hope to come away with more of a strategy on how to keep produce around while on the road.
  4. My advice sounds like I’m telling you to be miserable and not have fun, but it’s mostly out of concern for your budget and stomach. ¬†Obviously try local favorites and live it up!
  5. Bring a gallon of water (or a few) so you don’t die.


  1. Before you leave home, go to your¬†auto repair place and get your car looked at. ¬†Get an understanding of how much different services cost. ¬†It’s important to get this information from someone you trust, like the place you go back¬†home or a family member or friend, so you¬†know if someone is trying to take advantage of you if you have to get something fixed on the road.
  2. That being said, remember that your mechanic’s job is to sell jobs and make business, so he/she will likely suggest a few different jobs to do. ¬†However, if you aren’t sure, keep in mind that if something happens on the road, you will NEED to get it fixed, i.e.¬†once it’s broken, you will not have the opportunity to say no the price (within bargaining¬†reason). ¬†Plus, if you don’t do what your mechanic¬†suggests, any time you hear a weird sound or smell something, you will be haunted by the job you didn’t get done to your car and convince yourself that your car is going to break down right there in the middle of nowhere.
  3. Don’t make every day a long driving day. ¬†It can be miserable to feel like you’re running behind schedule (for check-in times at campsites or Airbnbs) and you can’t stop spontaneously to look around or move your body.
  4. Download a bunch of audiobooks. ¬†If your library at home has a way for you to do it online, like through Overdrive, it’s the best! ¬†Just make sure you test out the narrator’s voice beforehand, because a voice you don’t like can make you not want to listen to the book (my sister’s advice). ¬†That happened to me twice.
  5. You will think this is a great opportunity to finally listen¬†to Radiohead’s entire discography, but you will not do that, so make sure you download music you will be able to scream-sing every word to, because you will do that for hours. ¬†And hours.


  1. When going out, I follow my brother’s rule of always walking or taking public transport to the destination, no matter how annoying it is. ¬†Then on the way home, get a Lyft, but not an Uber because remember they have some sort of connection with Trump. ¬†(I need to look into that more.)
    • This is also a general life tip.
  2. Talk to the people around you. ¬†Literally everyone will think it’s cool that you’re doing a cross country road trip (and if you’re a girl going solo, like I am, then people will think you’re insanely brave, which I can’t tell if I like or not). ¬†Lean into it and talk about yourself, because YOLO, but also listen to their stories, because you can learn a lot, meeting new people is fun, and you’ve probably been thinking about nothing other than this road trip for a while now and you’d like to think¬†about something else.
    • This is also a general life tip.
  3. Every once in a while, just… clean the car.