Lou Mora

{photo: lou mora}

the last time i took a vacation, a real vacation, was after i graduated college in 2008. i met my friend alex in barcelona, proceeded to have my first-ever panic attack (classy, sarah) (too many changes at once, i guess), and ended up only spending 3 days abroad before packing up and heading back home to regroup. since then, i’ve taken little trips, here and there – to florida for thanksgiving, home in the summers to see my family and eat too much herrell’s ice cream, to boston or san francisco. but a real, longer than a week vacation…that, i haven’t done in years.

this occurred to me yesterday as i was sitting at work, counting down the minutes until i leave for a long weekend in rhode island, feeling utterly burnt out and like the crevices of my mind were the edges of fraying sweater. for the past year, i’ve been regularly waking up at 6:30am to get to bar method by 7:15. i’ve been leaving work, for the most part, between 6:30 and 7, which means that, if i have no plans, i get home around 730. then i have to unpack my bag, repack for the next day, pick out my outfit, feed penny, make dinner…and by the time i’m sitting on my couch with a bowl of stir fry in hand, it’s somehow 9pm. and so while it’s by choice that i wake up bright and early, and work hard enough to be at the office late, lately, it’s been feeling like a lot. add onto that the fact that i freelance on the side, and that i’ve been promising myself that i’ll keep up this here blog, and that i mentor and i volunteer and i’ve been trying to exercise more and it just feels like life is so.damn.busy. and that’s not even including my somewhat meager social life!

people talk a lot about finding balance. about striking that perfect equilibrium between work and life and all the things in between. and you know what? it’s HARD. i do all the things i do because i like to do them – but when i write it all out, i do a lot. too much, maybe. i go to bar method 5, maybe 6 days a week. now i’m attempting to add 1-2 soul cycle rides to that schedule. i work approximately 9-7 each day, then i go home and do more (freelance) work. through my work with big brothers big sisters, i’m supposed to see my mentee every other weekend (this never happens). i try to volunteer every so often as a “floater” with kitty kind. i’m a part of not one, but two, book clubs.


and i love all these things. i’m obsessed with cats, i love to read, volunteering makes my heart feel bigger, my freelance work inspires me to push harder at my day job, and my blog keeps me sane.

but with all that, sometimes it feels like there’s very little room for me. not just room in terms of hours in the day, but in terms of space inside my brain, inside my heart. space for me to sit on my bed and read the elle that’s somehow been sitting on my dresser for 2 months now. space to eat gummy bears on the couch and watch a marathon of orange is the new black (which, let’s be real, is all i want to do right now). space to spend an evening browsing h&m, or pinning dream homes to pinterest.

my mother called last night on her way home from work. she was in the car, driving home from her office, at 9pm. and when the phone rang, i thought two things:

1) i’m watching pretty little liars and i’d like to screen this phone call

2) it’s 9pm and she’s just leaving work. what has the world come to?

my international friends always joke to me about how hard americans work. how we’re obsessed with being busy. how we don’t know how to relax.

and it’s true, isn’t it? it’s why i keep saying yes to book clubs, to volunteer gigs, to weekend trips and dinner dates and drinks – when all i really want to do is sit outside in the woods somewhere and read a book with a nice glass of white wine and my cat curled up at my feet.

i love this city, but sometimes i long for something simpler. i long for the kind of life where it’s not just accepted, but encouraged, to leave at 5pm each day. to go home and truly unplug, to revel in the making of homemade tomato sauce, bright red fruits bubbling up from the pan.

but then when i have that kind of life, even just a taste of it, i long for new york. for the fast pace, the crazy frenetic energy that makes me feel alive.

i guess what i need is balance. there it is again, that elusive beast.

in the spirit of the end of summer and hopefully soon, the beginning of my favorite season of all, i am going to try and find my balance – by doing the things that make me happy, by learning to say “no” sometimes, by not beating myself up for wanting to stay in and be alone with my thoughts on a saturday night. i need to learn to just be, and to be okay with that being.

i started finding my balance last night with a very simple step. at 5:15, i left the office. and i didn’t allow myself to feel guilty, to scold myself for leaving when others were still there. i just left. and i got on the subway down to chambers street, and stepped out onto the streets of tribeca and took a deep breath. and then i clicked into my bike at soul cycle, and for 45 minutes, i closed my eyes and rode along to the music, and i let my fears, and my worries, and my bad day dissipate into the steamy air around me. and when i was done, i took my sweaty self to whole foods, where i stocked up on good for the soul foods like tofu and fresh strawberries, shrimp and mixed greens. and then i hopped in a cab up the FDR and i stuck my head out the window and admired the view.

when i got home, i cooked myself a nice dinner. and i cuddled up on my couch with penny and watched pretty little liars and i didn’t turn on my phone, or my computer, once. i just let myself be.

and you know what? i slept better last night than i have in ages.

balance…i’m comin’ for you.


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