25 Things I’ve Loved About Being 25

A year ago today, I turned 25.

Truth be told, I didn’t want to be the big 2-5. In fact, the whole idea of being in my mid-twenties really freaked me out. There was something ominous about making the transition from fresh-out-of-college to real-life adulthood. Sure, I have been on my own for years, but when you’re a quarter of a century, it somehow seems way more serious than it did before.

But I really didn’t have a damn thing to worry about – 25 was (by far) my best year yet. So much so, that as I turn 26 today at 2:14 p.m., I’m secretly wishing that I could stay 25 forever.

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5 Reasons Why You NEED To Go On a Date This Week

A few weeks ago, I announced The Dating Pact – an idea my roommate and I had to encourage one another to go on dates. I thought it’d be a great thing for all of you to try too – especially since actually getting off of your phone and out for a drink is really, really hard to do. (Or at least for me!)

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You Can’t Force Magic

This time last year, I was having a minor panic attack in the bathroom of a lounge in Flat Iron.

I was a little tipsy and my friend J was trying to calm me down, but there was no getting around my anxiety.

Do you see what I have to put up with out there? Dating SUCKS. It’s seriously the WORST. I tell you J, if I’m single this time next year, I will leave New York. I will go somewhere where it’s better and the guys are better. Seriously, it can’t be THIS bad everywhere.

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Falling in Love On Fridays: Tomorrow or Ten Years from Now

It’s no secret that I’m a little skeptical about online dating. Though I’ve technically been a participant in the love interwebs for years (off and on), I’ve yet to find what I consider someone I’m into enough to date long term. I know that statistics show that lots of people meet their significant others online (1 in 5!) but I just haven’t found much success and often feel like throwing in the towel. But my friend from college, J, makes me want to give it another try. She’s recently engaged to a man she met online and their story will make you get on Match for an hour tonight. No joke. Oh – and just try not to cry during the proposal video. If you want to write your own Falling in Love on Fridays post, click here.

Tomorrow or Ten Years from Now

After getting dumped by my boyfriend of two years, I had given up on love.  I would go out, flirt with guys at the bar, and then go home disappointed, realizing that there were no good men out there. I felt like a sad imitation of the gals from Sex and the City: Hopelessly romantic and also a little hopeless… After one of my nights with my girl friend Lillian (and way more than my half of the bottle of wine), I decided it would be cathartic to create an online dating profile. That way, my not-completely-sober self rationalized, I could highlight my best qualities, something I don’t often do in my self-critiques and realize how awesome I am.

I created a profile on a religious dating site, mainly because the guys my friends found on regular dating sites turned out to be absolutely horrific. Immediately, I was receiving messages and emoticons from guys, some of whom were too old, a little creepy, and just so, so wrong for me. It made me laugh a little, though, and I felt better about myself, realizing that at least somewhere out there, guys thought I was worth pursuing.

screenshot

I took a break from the site and retreated to the beaches of North Carolina under the pretense of house sitting for a friend. She was visiting her boyfriend over the 4th of July holiday, so I had 4 days by myself, with only her dog and my dog to keep me company. I laid out, got some sun, read, wrote, and just allowed myself to accept where I was in life.  Like most of my trips to the beach, the salt water washed away my worries. Here I was, surrounded by thousands of tourists, with no one sitting next to me. No one talking to me. I was alone among the masses, and I felt more at peace than I had in a long time. I finally accepted that it was okay to be alone, and that refocusing on improving myself was now a priority.

I drove home refreshed, realizing that for the first time in a long time, I was freed from my insecurities, from my unhappiness. I was me once more, made whole by the sand, sun, and surf. It had been a month since I had joined the dating site, and I thought to myself, “Give it one more go.” After all, I was back to myself, the type of girl who could look on something like a dating website as an opportunity and not necessarily a last resort.

I had a few messages from a few different guys, but none of them really caught my eye. So I did what any girl would do: Scroll through the guys in my area until I found a cute one and then stalk him. I wasn’t planning on messaging anyone, since I still just had the “free profile” that wouldn’t let me send messages, but it was fun to “browse” the available men. One page down, then another.It was interesting seeing the men in my demographic and how varied they were. And then, I saw him. Tall. Good looking. Not too old. Not already divorced. Professionally successful. To say I fell in love with a picture and profile is a stretch, but it was close.

guy

My newfound sense of purpose gave me the courage to bite the bullet and send my first message, something I equated to walking up to a guy at a bar. Really, was there any difference between me approaching a stranger at my local watering hole and sending a message through a social forum? No, I told myself, there wasn’t. Plus, if he immediately rejects you or doesn’t respond, you don’t have to slink away in front of his friends and a bunch of random strangers. I typed out my short message and hit “send” before I lost my resolve. Then it was time to sit back and wait…

A day later, as I was checking my email, a notification message from the site popped up. The mysterious “Brad” had responded to my message. Thrilled that my first foray into online dating had resulted in at least a consensual message, I clicked open my email and read his brief message which was punctuated with tons of questions. What did I do? How did I like NC? Where all have I traveled to? I eagerly replied, answering each question in depth, wanting to give him the fullest version of myself. I hit “send” again and felt a sense of hope. Hope in my newfound freedom. Hope in this conversation with a stranger. Hope in myself.

We officially had our first date at a minor league baseball game, way better than the coffee date that was originally planned. He changed it last minute due to my love for the sport. We laughed. We ate hot dogs. We danced and sang to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” We stood next to my car, and he pointed out the stars to me.  Then we went on a second date. Then we had lunch. And then… and then… The days turned into weeks. The weeks turned in to months. He met my friends. I met his. Then he met my family. And then I met his. We started speaking about the future, marriage, kids, family, all the things you plan for in your head when you’re with someone you love. And every time we talked about it, every time he got nervous thinking about the future, I’d tell him the same thing: “I’ll marry you tomorrow, and I’ll marry you 10 years from now.”

dancing

For the first time, I didn’t need a ring to define my relationship. I knew I had found the one, the guy who could make me laugh until I cried and who could cure my tears with laughter. So many people say, “I knew he was the one…” and I finally knew what they meant. It didn’t matter to me how long it would take. Our friends started asking about engagement, proposals, the possible future wedding. And as always, I’d tell him, “I’ll marry you tomorrow, and I’ll marry you 10 years from now.”

We celebrated Christmas. We celebrated New Years. We went dancing and cooked dinners for each other. Each and every day, I woke up feeling happy. He didn’t define me. He still doesn’t. I was finally in a place where I was comfortable with myself, and I found someone who loved me for me. All my faults and failures, he accepted. Through his loving me, showing me how someone else could view me, he allowed me to learn to love myself, and for this, I will be forever grateful to him.

proposal


People get cynical when it comes to online dating. I knew I was. For months after we started dating, people would ask, “So, how did you two meet?” and Brad and I would both exchange a look. I was the only one able to tell the story with a straight face because to both of us, it was still so ridiculous. We’re old-fashioned, and we met through the internet? But somehow, in this crazy mess of life, we found each other. In the end, the means of how we met don’t matter. Boy meets girl. Girl falls for guy. It’s a story as old as time.

Portion Control is a Bitch

For the past three weeks, one of my dearest friends, M, and I have been following the Women’s Health Diet Challenge that’s supposed to shape your eating habits to be healthier.

I’ve been incredibly proud of our dedication: we’ve been recording every little thing we eat, including any late night snacks that we aren’t supposed to have, along with our exercise and how many drinks we consume. We encourage each other to meet our goals, like not eating sweets and running a certain amount of miles every week – and when one of us falls off the wagon… the other one helps them up…

…or you know, falls right down with them into a cave of red wine and brownies. Or tequila and cupcakes.

Though we’re only half-way through the cleanse, we’re both already seeing changes: losing weight, saving money (bringing your lunch and making it at home is so cheap!), running more and faster, and overall, just feeling slimmer. We’ve each had our own struggles but have pretty much kept to the diet, minus some exceptions that make sense with our lifestyle. (Girl’s night out must have some sort of wine! You can’t eat in every single night in New York City!) But the one thing that’s made the past few weeks so hard for me is portion control.

It’s a total bitch.

I never realized how much bigger my serving sizes were than the recommended amount – 1 cup of brown rice looks a lot different than the two cups the Chinese restaurants give you. And 25 almonds for a snack might seem like a lot, but if you grab a handful or two, you’re probably consuming 50 (and 500+ calories!). The first days of the challenge, I basically felt like I was starving to death because I was eating much less – but now, I noticed how much easier I feel full and satisfied compared to before.

N, my friend and the blogger behind Mrs. Healthy Ever After made an amazing transformation last year and lost weight by changing her eating habits. Since she’s my go-to person for making yummy, hearty but healthy meals, I asked her to give some awesome tips on how to manage portion control, make good choices and lose weight:

When I served my brother the same portion of pasta I had just served my then boyfriend (now husband), his eyes grew wide as if to say “Challenge accepted.” But half-way through, he gave up, groaning that I shouldn’t give him “Addison-sized” portions. It wasn’t until that moment did I realize I had inadvertently been trained horrible portion habits because of my garbage disposal man.

Once we got married, we vowed to get our eating habits under control, and thus, Mrs. Healthy Ever After was born. One of the first problems we tackled was portion control, and trust me when I say these really do work. Even my pasta guzzling husband agrees.

Plate size matters
We hear a lot about how half the battle of weight loss and health is psychological. It really is true. Plate sizes have grown exponentially over the years, making us think that we really need all that space for food. The truth is, most plates are more than double the size we need. If you put your food on a smaller plate, your brain will register it as a significant amount of food. However, if you put the same size food on a bigger plate, your brain will tell yourself that you are being deprived and need more. Reach for the smaller plates to help trick yourself into better habits. Half the time, my husband doesn’t even realize I’m using different sized plates.

Plan ahead proper portions
Buying individual sized, portion-controlled snacks can get pricey (and let’s be honest, who eats just one of those, right?). Save money by buying your snacks in bulk and researching portion size yourself. Separate them into little zip lock baggies (you can even get extra small baggies to go hand-in-hand with the psychology of tip #1). If you always have perfectly portioned snacks on hand, you’re not going to be tempted to eat the whole bag of pretzels—especially if you refuse to keep a whole bag in your house.

Do the Half-Plate trick
My husband really struggled with wanting to eat large portions of meat. For myself, as the Italian of the relationship, I was more carb driven and always wanted pasta or breads. When you have a meal that showcases something scrumptious but not necessarily healthy when eaten out of proportion, do the half-plate trick: fill half your plate with veggies. Have a separate bowl for salad when you’re eating pasta? Trying putting it on your plate next to your main course. Eating a steak dinner? Measure out your portions and place it alongside half a plate of grilled vegetables. Remember, you can never O.D. on veggies so take advantage!

Don’t trust restaurant portions
Very rarely do restaurants actually give you a human amount of food—in that, sometimes it’s even three times more than you should ever consume in a setting. If you don’t want to eat a “healthy” item on the menu or focus on a green salad, then opt to split your entrée in half. Most restaurants will even box the other half before serving you your meal if you ask. Two meals for the price of one? Yes please!

Educate yourself
How can you eat proper portions if you don’t actually know what they are? Many people struggle with either eating too much or too little. Both can be detrimental to your weight loss journey. Do your homework. Learn that 4 ounces of meat equals roughly the size of your palm or a deck of cards. Still struggling? Invest in a food scale and literally measure your food until you teach yourself the visual cues you need.

Don’t think you struggle with portion control?
Try the sure fire test that will open your eyes! Pour yourself a bowl of cereal without measuring it, serving yourself your typical portion. Afterward, actually measure it out. Chances are, you will have served yourself between two to four times the amount recommended.

Check out N’s awesome blog here

This Valentine’s Day, write a self-love letter to yourself and it’ll be published (anonymous or not) on Confessions of a Love Addict! And you enter yourself to win a prize pack of beauty products and a Home Goods gift card! Learn more here. Submit here.

I Found Myself a Diamond

My friends know me as the daughter of a fiery, intelligent, mystical, mother.

Though she’s paid the bills with accounting and massage therapy, she spends her free time focusing on those untold ways of the universe. She investigates how the different planets and their position in the skies above us affect our daily decisions, the path we take and the one we choose. She believes  things in nature can mean more than a passing glance and in the perfect, yet incredibly frustrating, timing of everything.

It’s because of the way I was raised to believe in myself and in everything around me that I notice what I consider messages from something higher all the time. When I’m worried or anxious about something – anything – I’ll often find a penny at my feet or on the seat in front of me, and I take it as a reminder to have more trust. On nights I can’t sleep, staring out into the city lights, I remind myself that often when my nerves are high, something really wonderful happens the next day – and I’m almost always right.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise to me that even when I’m not in the most sober of states, I’ll remember my mom’s precious words of advice to keep my eyes (and heart) open to the world and see what it says, but I woke up on January 1, caught off guard.

And yes, terribly hungover.

Much to Lucy’s demands at 11 a.m. to take her for a walk before she barked my head off, I stumbled out of bed, staying far away from the mirror. After the shortest walk ever to retrieve coffee, coconut water and a very-needed, very-greasy, cheese-and-ham croissant, my roommates and I lounged in the living room, all nursing our excruciating post-25-years-old heads that don’t recover how they used to.

Without much to say – or energy to say it – we all aimlessly searched online and scrolled through our phones, laughing at drunken photos and half-hazy memories of ringing in 2014. After a photo of hundreds of balloons lining the ceiling of a West Village bar (I was trying to be artsy, apparently), I saw this photo:

aceAt some point in between toasting the New Year and falling asleep in my party dress, I must have found these two cards, recalled my mom’s instructions, snapped this shot and put them back where they were. Nope, didn’t even bring the cards home. Nope, my roommates had no idea either. Nope, don’t remember seeing them – or where I saw them. Nope, don’t know why I deemed them important, but that’s my painted New Year’s nails and hand, recording my first message from the universe for 2014.

So of course, my first call was to my mom:

“Hey mom! Happy New Year! Love you. Something strange happened.”

“Oh no honey. Are you okay? What happened? Where are you?” She calmly freaked out.

“I’m fine, mom. I found two cards last night, I think. And I took a photo of them. And I think it must mean something, right?” I asked.

“That is really strange. Text me what they are and I’ll email you the meaning as soon as I can. Just have to dig out the Tarot cards. JIM!!! Have you seen my Tarot cards? Where did I put them? Getting old sucks, you are always forgetting things, Lindsay…” she trailed off.

Two hours later, when said Tarot cards were located, here’s what she said:

Ten of Spades (black card): Conflict. Destruction. Loss. Breakdown of relationships. Slander. Hurt. Misfortune. Plans that seemed promising end in failure. Disillusion. Grief. Temporary alliances. Being forsaken. A sacrifice. Withdrawing from the world due to trauma. The apex and end of a matter. Does not represent violent death.

Ten of Diamonds (red card): Freedom from financial concerns. Prosperity. Strong, established family setting. Protection and stability within a clan. Family traditions and gatherings. Having the time to enjoy the fruits of one’s labour. Achieving of worldly dreams. Benefiting from the work of one’s predecessors. Gifts. Inheritance, archives. Celebrations and reunions.

Turns out, I was holding 2013 and 2014 in my hands. Or at least, what I hope 2014 will be (and frankly is so far).

Last year was full of so much hardship, change, struggle and endings. And honestly, I let it get me down for a while: I stopped working out as much, put on some weight, became severely negative (and probably not a great date), felt uninspired by everything, wrote really sad posts and ultimately, thought nothing good was ever, ever going to happen again.

But as the close of the year crept closer, I decided I had two choices: I could either let the baggage and pain of 2013 follow me into 2014 or I could change my life instead of waiting for my life to change.

I picked the latter – and already, 2014 is bringing much more happiness than 2013 ever offered. Instead of counting the things I don’t have, I started valuing the things I do. Instead of thinking a man is going to waltz in and take away all of the hurt from my past relationships and make me believe there’s someone magical out there, I started focusing on myself and doing things that I like to do, the arrival of a man, be damned! Instead of taking seconds and always agreeing to chocolate, I started picking my health, not my cravings. Instead of seeing the bad, I started looking for the good.

It’s always there.

Though I can’t say if the planets came together to bring those cards to me somewhere in this city as the clock struck midnight, I will say that it sure feels that way. Then again – signs can only mean something to us if we believe in them.

And this time, maybe I do. I do believe that 2014 will bring happiness and adventure and security and love and strength. Why?

Because this year, I’m not waiting around for it. I’m creating it.

This Valentine’s Day, write a self-love letter to yourself and it’ll be published (anonymous or not) on Confessions of a Love Addict! And you enter yourself to win a prize pack of beauty products and a Home Goods gift card! Learn more here. Submit here

When You Suddenly Feel Lonely…

This weekend was one of those perfect ones in New York: full of celebrating, wine and laughter. I bounced between birthday dinners and themed parties, had long walks with Lucy and long talks with my closest friends. After two full days on-the-go, I was excited about a relaxing Sunday to check off my to-do list for the week.

I started with a light brunch with my friend A, catching up about her European travels and then grocery shopped for my new diet, weaving in between the crowded aisles at the (cheap and totally worth the hassle) Fairway on the Upper West Side. I even held true to my unspoken New Year’s resolution to make more eye-contact and small talk with attractive men, casually asking for help reaching the salad dressing and where to find the frozen chicken. Neither conversations resulted in anything, but did boost my ego for .05 seconds. After trekking on the train and cuddling with Lucy, I looked out the window by my bed at the blue, wet city below and I…

…suddenly felt very lonely. 

Instead of giving into the random sadness, I took a deep breath and analyzed the situation: I’ve had a full weekend of fun and excitement and even relaxation, I have nothing to be upset about, so why do I feel this way? I took another deep breath (they truly help with everything) and counted just a few things I’m thankful for (this apartment, this puppy, my family, my amazing friends, this banging booty that helped me pull off a Beyonce costume on Saturday night) and got myself up out of bed with determination: I was going to distract myself and not let myself fall into a funk like I did in 2013. Not this year, not this time.

So I meal-prepped for the entire week. Then I swept and mopped all of the floors. I gave Lucy a new chew bone. I made myself some hot tea. I emptied out my inbox. I wrote down ideas for blog posts. I hung a fun sign on our front door that encourages happiness. I responded to some messages on OkCupid. I took out the trash. I tidied my room and made my bed. (And I would have gone running if it wasn’t raining and very cold.)

And at the end of all that, I came out to the lemon-y smelling living room with my chamomile tea while Lucy slept on the dog-hair-covered futon, and I still felt a little sad. I took yet another deep breath and admitted what was bothering me: I wanted was someone to cook dinner with, watch something on TV, snuggle in bed, maybe have some lazy sex, perhaps split some wine and fall asleep. I’ve gone on many dates, but I haven’t had that level of comfortability in quite some time — nearly two and a half years, to be exact. I do long for that, I do want that, I won’t settle for less than that, but on rainy Sunday nights, it’s easy to feel cold and alone.

What helps (for me) is remembering that I’m always exactly where I’m supposed to be, that I’m always the person I’m supposed to be at this point in my life. I remember that I’m so very lucky and most of the time, so happy with the life I have. I remember to write down my dreams and to remind those I love just how much they mean to me. I try to do a good deed (even if it’s just letting Lucy run in the rain). I try to remember that most everything is temporary, and that this feeling will pass and another one — splendid or terrible — will come. I change something small or I make sure my living area feels homey with a candle or some tea. I take a long bath or close my eyes and think of things that make me smile without hesitation.

So as I write this blog on Sunday night, texting my friends for their advice, I do feel a bit lonely. Somewhat sad. But I’m riding the wave of lonely – and so can you. Here are how my dearest do it:

“I try to do something nice for someone else… write a surprise card, send an encouraging text message, or just call someone I haven’t talked to in awhile. I go for a long run. I write it all down for me — not to share. I mindlessly surf Pinterest. I succumb to the glory that is retail therapy. And sometimes, I watch a documentary about people who have it worse than I do.” -M

“I do a lot of self-care. I clean everything – up and out. I throw away a lot of things. I do yoga, take long deep breaths, and  long walks where I just pay attention to every detail. I guess my big thing I do (thanks therapy) is trying to identify the source of the problem, and then I try and cut myself some slack and decide how and what I’m going to work on. It’s all about the process.” – A

“I have a music playlist or have a mental pep talk with myself in a quiet (but public) spot… like in a park, on the river, outside on my stoop. Or I go to this bar where I’m a regular, it’s my happy place. But… going to a bar is not the most constructive…” -E

“I exercise. I read uplifting material. I remind myself that this is just one day and that everything works out in the great divine order. I also go to bed. I look at nature. I think about how big God really is and how much we are loved and taken care of. Also count my blessings for all of the good in my life. Just takes practice.” -Mama Tigar

“I try to do something productive, something that gets at the cause of that loneliness, which is really just fear that I’ll never have a full life unless I meet someone. Putting extra money into my IRA or finally comparing my health insurance options isn’t exactly a feel-good experience, but it reminds me that I’m a capable adult who is going to be fine no matter what. Not to mention, my white knight’s arrival is a lot less urgent if I have medical coverage and enough money to pay for my own retirement.” -K

“I pray and I read the Bible.” -N

“I think about how lucky I am for the things and people in my life.” -J

“I kinda just let it ride out until the mood or the thought passes, like what the little girl says in The Tree Grows in Brooklyn: ‘Let the hurt waves pass through.” Also, I take a hot shower, ride out the thoughts and listen to some happy pop music.” -K

“I get my nails or hair done, buy a new dress or something pretty to make me feel good. I also change something as simple as the curtains or the pillows or do something that I’ve been meaning to do. You never want to over-analyze. If I feel down, I do something that brings a little joy. I think the key is getting your mind off of it.” -M

“I have a photo album on my phone that I call my ‘Be Happy’ file. They’re pictures of quotes. Quotes I found on Pinterest or see on Instagram or statues I like on Facebook.  Quotes about uncertainty and fear and bravery and being vulnerable or other things I’m lacking or I’m afraid of or that inspire me.” -R

This Valentine’s Day, write a self-love letter to yourself and it’ll be published (anonymous or not) on Confessions of a Love Addict! And you enter yourself to win a prize! Learn more here. Submit here