27 Things I’m No Longer Worrying About

A few days ago, after a walk with Lucy, I ate my lunch under a tree near my apartment. It was one of those perfect almost-Autumn days, and as I have for the past five-and-a-half years in New York, I watched life unfold around me. There was an old man who brought out a lawn chair and was sunbathing, some girls around my age talking up a storm (likely about the night before), a couple with their small baby and a snuggling two-some sneaking in kisses between the breeze.

And here I was, sitting awkwardly on my backpack, guilting myself for skipping an exercise class because I was tired, wondering when this guy that I met would text me back. As much as things have changed – and so have I – in all of this time, I still have to battle those same insecurities, regardless of how far I’ve come in my self-love journey. The park embodied so many of the things that I dream of having, and often times, I can count up the things I don’t have instead of taking stock in what I do. And though I can dream of the beautiful things I hope are before me, it’s hard to get past what’s in sight to believe in what you can’t see until it’s yours.

I turned over my iPhone and took a sip of water, rubbing my shoulders as the temperature started to drop, and I turned my attention on a kid’s birthday party. There was a grandfather with a toddler, laughing and chasing around each other until the babe accidentally let go of the red balloon she was holding. She started to cry, but her grandfather scooped her up and pointed to the sky.

I couldn’t hear what he said – I was too far away – but I imagine it was a distraction technique that somehow, piqued her interest away from a tantrum. The only thing was, all of the kids watched this happened and looked up…

…and they all let go of their balloons. Continue reading

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13 Truths About Loving An Eternal Optimist (As Written By One)

If there’s one single characteristic that’s carried me through every terrible date, bitter break-up, sleeping with my ex and trying my damnedest to not give up on this elusive thing called love, it’s my optimism.

Know that emjoi that’s smiling and has hearts for eyes? That’s me.

More than anything else I value in a future partner — and in myself — is a person’s ability to see the bright side of things and to put others before himself to bring a bit more happiness into the world. I’ve been called a little naive before and that I look through rose-colored glasses, but what can I say? I like the view from here! It’s positive, encouraging, and keeps me keepin’ on.

So if you’re planning to be with me, here’s a few things you should know in advance:

1. I don’t understand  or tolerate  constant negativity. Continue reading

6 Reasons You’re More Badass Than You Think

Quick: When you woke up this morning and looked in the mirror, did you say something nice or start criticizing flaws? In that work meeting you led a few weeks ago, did you pat yourself on the back, or nitpick every little detail?

When you’re always trying to improve, it’s easy to get caught up in a self-confidence spiral. But here’s the thing: According to several studies, the stories we tell ourselves directly contribute to our happiness level and day-to-day satisfaction.

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7 Things I Do Everyday to Be Happier

I went on a date on Sunday… with my literary agent.

If you could see me right now, you would see a grin ear-to-ear, and if you could get inside my heart, you’d feel it beating frantically out of its chest. There are very few words to describe just how happy – and excited and thankful! – I feel to have someone actively trying to turn this little ‘ole blog of mine into a book. (When it happens, you will all be the first to know, I promise!)

Even so, I was nervous to meet him (and afraid he wouldn’t like me) – but my gut was right: it was two hours of constant rapport, brainstorming and storytelling. And then he said something that just about made me cry:

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La Donna E L’ombrello

Even though I booked a trip to Paris and to Rome, in all honesty – I was far more excited about visiting Italy than I was to see France. Not only because mostly everyone warned me that Parisians were rude to Americans, but my ever-growing love affair with everything-Italian (it’s food, it’s colors, it’s language, it’s men) made me more enticed with Roma than ole’ Parie.

So you could imagine my surprise when after a flight from Paris to Milan and then Milan to Rome, a train ride from Fiumicino – Leonardo da Vinci airport to our hotel – I tried to hide the fact that I missed Paris.

Our hotel in Paris had been pristine and easily accessible, while our Roman pad was off the beaten path and due to the train traffic, we couldn’t keep our beautiful Italian doors open at night. The metro had been seamless in Paris – much nicer and easier than NYC’s subways – but with only two paths to take in Rome, we navigated mostly everything by foot (which wouldn’t have been a big deal, if we weren’t 6 days into our trip and covered in blisters). The streets of Paris were clean and every turn we took, we saw a new beautiful building, while in Rome, trash was scattered about everywhere and peddlers sold anything they could get their hands on.

But after settling in to our hotel in Rome, I vowed to give it a chance and my mother did the same, we had come all this way to Italy and we had both always wanted to go, and so onward we went. The sweet clerk gave us short-cut directions to pass by shopping and end up at a gorgeous church before eating locally. We happily went on our way, and though we had mostly encountered kind, helpful people in Paris (who wanted to hear all about New York City), the Romans we met were unfortunately (and astonishingly)…

…very rude.

While trying on shoes or clothes, the Roman women would look us up and down before rolling their eyes and saying something we couldn’t translate. When waiting in line to gain admission, a hustler who received a “No grazie” with a smile from me, responded with, “Stupid American.” And after we walked around in circles, trying to find the said short-cut that we shortly forgot, we tried to stop by a restaurant, but were shoved into a windowless (and rather smelly) basement dining room. When we asked if we could sit outside instead, the owner turned his nose to us and walked away.

It had only been a few hours in Rome, and already, with sore feet and weakened spirits, we felt like ordering room service and buying a bottle of vino instead of going about town…

until we stumbled across a hidden, dark bar on the corner or a street we didn’t recognize. Exhausted, I suggested we go in to get some dinner (it was nearly 10 p.m. and we hadn’t eaten since 1 p.m.) and some wine (obviously) before calling a cab.

We were prepared to be greeted with bitterness from the bartender, but instead, we met Davide. (For the rest of our trip, we would reference him as the “Archangel Davide” who rescued Rome for us.)

As we sat down and ordered the special (a panini and a glass of wine for 6 euro), Davide came over to explain the map that we couldn’t read to get back to our place (probably because our hotel wasn’t actually on it!). And then, after we expressed our difficult day (after such ease in Paris), he mapped out our three days for us, giving tips on places to go away from tourists and how to avoid being scammed because we were American.

And then we started talking about New York – a city that he’s always wanted to live in. I told him about my life and this blog, how I was able to gain a solid footing and make friends, what parts of towns I like and don’t, and encouraged him to reach out to me if he needed any help whatsoever.

(By the way, 30-year-old Archangel Davide was one of the most attractive men I’ve ever laid eyes on.)

He went to tend to other customers here and there, but always came back and sat with my mom and I, talking about Rome and New York, and with every sip, I found him just a bit more irresistible.

I really like the paintings you have here, I told him, gesturing to the one above my head.

My friends and I used to have another bar called ‘La Donna E L’ombrello,’ named after a local artist who uses that as his signature, Archangel Davide said, pointing to each of the paintings in the bar.

What does that translate to? I asked, only able to pick up ‘La donna’ (woman) from my Italian classes.

‘The woman with the umbrella’, he places a woman in each of his paintings holding an umbrella, you always have to look to find it, he said.

My mom and I beamed, laughing of the irony of my own nickname as the girl with the umbrella before I released myself from underneath it and re-designed this blog. There was no doubt in either of our minds’ that we were meant to get lost and find this establishment.

Because of Archangel Davide’s advice, the rest of our trip was truly incredible: gorgeous views and gardens, churches that are literally awe-inspiring, incredible food and paths that didn’t confuse us. By our last day, we both had fallen in love with Rome, and promised to return to Italy again to see other parts like Venice, Florence, Pisa, and of course Tuscany – where Archangel Davide has a home.

As we walked home that first night from Davide’s bar, we stumbled across an entrance covered in wisteria – a flower you see all over Rome. The scent was intoxicating and we both stopped to take it in, feeling tipsy and mesmerized by the beauty. I hopped up on a ledge (thank you red wine courage) and picked two pieces that we kept in our hotel room to fill it with fragrance. And as one of my gifts to myself, I bought a print from a local artist of a door frame in Piazza Navona, covered in wisteria. It reminded me of my mother and I’s experience in Italy: the door to the home is closed, but window above it is open.

Sometimes you have to stumble around and have opportunities taken away before you find what you were supposed to find all along. And of course, it’s never quite about the destination or crossing things off your list, instead it’s about the experience, and the adventures, the people, the lessons you meet and learn along the way. Rome wasn’t at all what I expected it to be – but I’m so glad I took the chance and followed my heart (and passport) to explore it.

And by the way, Archangel Davide added me on Facebook. And is hoping to visit New York this year.

 

My Year of Happy

On pennies thrown into fountains, birthday candles, Chinese lanterns, first stars and shooting ones, at 11:11, when my necklace clasp gets turned around, while holding my breath going through a tunnel and just about anything else I consider lucky, I’m always making wishes.

Or at least — one wish.

It’s always been to find love. To have that relationship that I’ve wanted since I knew what a relationship was. My wish used to be broad and simple, until my mom suggested being specific with my desires. “The universe needs some guidelines, dear,” she said. So I started getting detailed: this height, that laugh, those eyes, that job, this move in bed, those preferences, this amount of children one day, delivered to me within three months. Or next week. Or ya know, now.

I know you’re not supposed to reveal what you wish for, but I can’t imagine it’ll affect my outcome too terribly much, considering how often I’ve wished almost the same wish, with little – or rather – no result. For my birthday this year, I blew out two sets if candles, one with my family on a cake and the other on top of a mini margarita with the family I’ve found in New York.

And though I thought about it, considered it greatly, I didn’t wish for love.

I just wished for happiness.

I want to be happy more than I want to depend on finding some man, somewhere to make me happy. I want it to come from me. I want that peaceful, easy feeling that comes when you’ve really figured out what you want, who you are, where you want to go and how you like to spend your days, without having to factor another person into the equation. The simplest of wishes, sure, but one that I think is more important than bumping into someone at a bar, the train, a dating event, online – wherever – the boys may be hiding these days.

Though I had so many blessings last year, I spent the majority of 24 thinking about the fact I was turning 25. And all of those things that I wanted this past year to bring me, it didn’t really. It wasn’t a bad span of time and nothing truly terrible happened, it just felt like a year that was totally full of work. I got a puppy, which is equal parts stress and joy. My dad found out be had cancer and then was declared cancer free post-surgery. I’m finally up to running 10 solid miles, but it came with lots of training and pushing myself, my bones, my body. I went on Accutane for 7 of the months to clear my skin, and though it worked, it wasn’t without very dry patches and many nights in, alcohol free. Mr. P moved overseas for the whole year, which made the process of letting go a little easier, but I didn’t meet anyone who I felt even a little bit of luster with. I lost weight and feel much more beautiful than before, but it was not a simple change. Friendships have blossomed and some have fizzled, many of my friends have jumped the single boat for a sweet sail for two, and much of the rough waters, I’ve navigated alone.

And through it all, I did come out better and stronger, more myself than I’ve ever been, bolder and flirtier, hopeful and intrigued. But I haven’t exactly been happy. Healthy, fine, successful and fiery, sure. But happy? Not quite.

And so, I declare this my happy year.

No matter what comes or doesn’t come, who I meet or don’t, what mountains I climb or planes I board, what things that happen or don’t, I will remind myself to see the happy. To seek it. To really, honestly feel it. Because there will always be another wish to make or hope to have, but without the happy, I won’t appreciate any of it. Without the happy, there’s no use in trying anything at all. Without the happy, I won’t know what another kind of happy feels like when it arrives.

My Third Birthday

My Third Birthday

My Sixth Birthday

My Sixth Birthday

My 18th Birthday

My 18th Birthday

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My 19th Birthday

My 22nd Birthday (First in NYC!)

My 22nd Birthday (First in NYC!)

My 23rd Birthday

My 23rd Birthday

My 25th Birthday

My 25th Birthday

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rough Around the Edges

A few weeks ago, I was out for happy hour drinks with the clan when my attention turned to an attractive brunette entering the bar. Wearing an off-white Diane von Furstenberg dress and peep-toe Jimmys, she gracefully found her table and tossed her locks as she sat down. The little makeup she wore highlighted her natural rosy-tint and her group of friends matched her easy elegance. She carried a Balenciaga clutch that she carefully sat on the table, reaching in to find her lipstick and apply it subtly without anyone noticing.

But I noticed. And I was surprised my friends didn’t see me turn green in envy as I watched her from across the room, wondering when I’d finally feel how I imagined that woman feeling. She seemed completely together, confident and assured, stable financially and otherwise, and beauty radiated around her.

Me, on the other hand? On the other side of the bar, away from the reserved tables she was welcome to join with sparkling wine and towers of expensive liquor, sipping on my signature pineapple and vodka (with a cherry) or house Merlot, I’m not like that woman. I’m not refined and utterly comfortable in my own shoes, though I often lust to walk a mile in someone else’s designer ones. I’m not a polished Manhattanite with a high-paying job, trust fund, or the ability to save every penny.

I’m rough around the edges. And sometimes, as much as I attempt to hide it, I know it shows.

I don’t always think ahead and I sometimes see each decision as the end-all-be-all to my future and definitely to my present. I freak myself out more than I calm myself down, and when it comes to thinking about the big picture instead of letting the little one weigh me down, I’m guilty as charged. I don’t keep my purse organized and clean, my clothes are not sorted by color, and my dishes are hardly washed before bed.

And while I’d like to think I’m quite poised, I don’t sit calmly and laugh in a not-too-high, not-too-soft tone, and I don’t (or at least I don’t think) I exude a sense of maturity and elegance. I don’t think about how I’m perceived or if I’m stomping in my heels instead of cascading, and if I’m greeting friends, I almost always insist on a hug. I’m even starting to get used to this Northern kiss-on-the-cheek salutation that’s not customary in the South.

I can’t decide if I like the way I am or if I’d rather be a smoothed out. Could I chisel away those pieces that keep me feeling like the woman I know I am, just don’t always show? Or is it that like a good wine, I’m really just going to get better with age? With more experiences and more trials that give me the skills and know-how I need to find my own footing. To find grace?

Is it better to be a little rough or finely polished? Or is there ever a happy medium between the two? Between maturity and immaturity? Between taking note of the little characteristics that go into making a person, and learning which of those qualities to tuck away until appropriate, or if appropriate at all? Between not feeling like you have to have the right thing to say, the right thing to do, and just saying what you want and doing as you please?

Am I a diamond in the rough….or just jagged?