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4deeeb7cd680a173601b1846f849ab34a couple of weeks ago, i heard a valuable piece of advice during spin class. inside a dark, candlelit room, surrounded by the whirring of 60 bikes and the distinct smell of lemon-tinted sweat, the following words were spoken:

“treat yourself the way you treat your best friend.”

let’s let that sink in for a moment, shall we? treat yourself the way you treat your best friend. you know how you give your best friend pardons when they do something stupid, or inconsiderate, or how you don’t judge them when they make a mistake, how you tell them, over and over again, that everything will be okay. how you reassure them in moments of fear that they are exactly where they need to be, that it will all work out, that this moment is simply preparing them for something greater. how you listen to them as they reveal their fears and their worries, and how you never, not once, tell them that any of those thoughts are not valid.

what if you treated yourself the same way?

what if, the next time you made a mistake, or did something stupid, or said something inconsiderate, you just let.it.go?

i mean, hot damn, imagine the possibilities, right? such a simple statement, but such an insanely empowering nugget of advice. emily t. (new yorkers, if you like spin, get yourself to soulcycle and take em’s class, she’s the shit) is one of my favorite instructors at soul for this very reason: she dispenses these little magical nuggets of inspiration each and every class. and i tell you, cheesy or not, there’s something incredibly powerful about hearing exactly what you need to hear while you’re drenched in sweat, pushing your body to its limits, and in a blissed out state of zen.

i have a long history with doing the exact opposite of letting it go. i will ruminate for hours, then ruminate some more, over the teeniest, tiniest things – things that the average person would have let go within .5 seconds. i’m quick to blame myself, to feel like i’ve failed (but we all feel that way sometimes, right?), to tell myself that whatever i’ve gone is just plain not good enough.

but what if i didn’t do that? because let’s be real, i’d never, EVER, treat my best friend that way. i’d never tell her what she’d done wasn’t good enough, or that i was disappointed in her because she’d failed, or even that she’d failed at all! NEVER.

so what if i applied the wisdom and the benefit of the doubt that i give my closest friends to my own heart? what if i stopped blaming myself for being single? what if i stopped categorizing every single flaw on my body? what if i stopped degrading myself for not being where i want to be with my career?

what if, even if just for a day, i just let myself be? and instead, i practiced loving myself. being proud of myself. telling myself i’d done a good job when i had. imagine how much more likable we’d all be if we just loved ourselves a little bit more.

some of the people i admire and envy most in the world are those who seem to have been born with this utter sense of self, a knowledge that they are good, if not great, that they will weather the storms life throws at them and come out the other side. they walk with grace, they hold their head high, they command the room not because they like attention but because they possess the confidence that so many of us don’t.

i don’t think i’ll ever be one of those people – i’m too damn sensitive and analytical – but i do think i could practice being just a little bit kinder to myself, and reminding myself that for the most part, i’m doing the best i can.

we all are.

maderas-crew-3-x-noaviso, i don’t know what it is about this time of year, but i’ve been feeling really emo lately. like, dress in all black and listen to dashboard confessional on repeat kind of emo (hi, high school self). the holidays are over, my birthday has come and gone, and suddenly it’s a year until i’m 30 and i’m feeling all sorts of unsatisfied.

and rather than addressing those issues head on like a grown up should, i’m contemplating how to get the hell out of dodge, stat. i’m craving a beach vacation, a place where i can unplug my devices and recharge my mind and maybe, just maybe, write something more creative than the pharmaceutical bullshit i write day in and day out. i want to dig my toes into the sand and look up at the exploding stars come nightfall, and i want to drink lots of rum and cokes in between.

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and by that, i mean i want to go back to nicaragua. my trip to nica in december of 2013 was one of the best weeks of my life, hands down. and certainly, a lot of the pure bliss i felt while in san juan del sur (a beautiful seaside village known for its surf scene) was due to the fact that i was spending my days with two of the most wonderful, enlightening, beautiful human beings i know – but some of it was due to just how far AWAY i felt from my everyday life, and therefore, my everyday brain.

sadly, my dear friend martha no longer lives in SJDS, but that’s alright, because i’ve got my sights set on a new location: maderas village, a “idyllic boutique resort just off the beaten path in the pacific coastal hills” of nica. playa maderas is about 20 minutes from downtown san juan del sur, and martha and i actually spent a day there during my visit, watching the surfers ride the waves, making friends while drinking beers at makeshift tables, and laying in hammocks, watching droplets of salt water dry on our skin.

i stumbled upon maderas village on instagram, of all places, and fell head over heels. just looking at their feed makes my shoulders sit a little lower, makes my teeth clench a little less. you can practically feel the relaxation oozing out of their images.

so, in lieu of an actual getaway (though i truly do hope to make it back to nica, and specifically, to maderas village, soon), let’s enjoy some eye candy.

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d37ff42e4d64659ae9a6726e427c0777yesterday, i cried during a bar method class. that’s a sentence i never really thought i’d write. at soul, maybe. soulcycle’s all about letting your emotion out, and it’s a dark room lit by candles. crying (at least, quietly), is almost encouraged. but at bar method, poised and pretty, ballerina beautiful is what it’s all about.

before i go any further, let me say: i didn’t cry because i was sad. for once, i wasn’t crying because i felt out of place, or because i felt useless, or incapable, or that dreaded f-word, fat.

no, yesterday, i cried because i was happy. because i was proud. because lara, an instructor who’s been with me through most of my journey (and lord knows i still have a ways to go), said something so moving, so beautiful, so kind and goddamn wonderful that i almost lost it.

every bar method class starts with arms – shoulders, biceps, lats, then straight into pushups. mid pushup, i felt lara next to me. she repositioned my tuck (bar method terms for rolling your hips forward and squeezing your glutes til they feel like buns of steel), and told me to move my arms back a couple of inches. as i got into the correct form, she pushed her microphone to the side, and said, quietly, so only i could hear, “you’re making room for a body that’s no longer there.”

and just like that she was gone, and i was pushing up, and down, and up, and down, squeezing my eyes tightly shut so i didn’t burst into tears in front of 25 other women (many of whom, i should note, have become friends, and who likely would have been perfectly fine if i’d shed a tear or two).

it took a good five minutes for me to regain my composure, lara’s words reverberating in my head. my form was off because i was making room for a body that was no longer there. a body that was no longer mine. a body i’d worked so, so hard to shed – and a body i still felt (and feel) weighed down by.

when you’re on a weight loss journey (and lord, is it a journey), it can be hard to see your progress. it can be discouraging to step on the scale and see that the numbers haven’t changed as much as you’d have liked them to (especially when you know, deep down, that your body IS changing and the scale just isn’t showing it). it can feel like you’re plodding up a mountain that’s never going to end. i’ve been feeling that particular form of discouraged lately, following a recent annual physical where my weight stayed the same, but my blood work – my cholesterol, my numbers, all my internal markers – were off the charts good. look at my chart, and if you ignore the weight, i’m just about as healthy as a person can be. as my doctor likes to say, “you’re skinny on the inside!”

which is great, fine, well and good. health comes first, right? but in a world filled with body shaming and comparison and the never-ending pressure to be thin, not strong, i don’t want to be skinny on the inside, i want to be skinny where it counts.

every so often, i’ll have a moment – i’ll catch myself in the mirror at bar, or i’ll complete a sprint at soul – where i feel like, yes, i can. i can complete this class. i can keep up with everyone else. i can do this. i do deserve to be here. i do fit in. but those moments are few and far in between, because when you’re scrutinizing yourself every single day, it’s hard to step back and see the bigger picture.

but yesterday, lara helped me see it. she helped me remember where i was when i started, and just how FAR i have come. even if the scale doesn’t always reflect it.

after class, i lingered and waited until she was free, then tapped her on the shoulder and said, “i just wanted to say thank you.”

and she wrapped me up in the biggest of hugs and said, “love you.” and what she really meant, i knew, was, “i’m proud of you and i’ll keep pushing you until you get where you want to be.”

people often ask me why i deign to pay a staggering $250 a month to attend bar method classes. that story above? that’s why.

9e7bc83e540281b518053fb6f9e07f26recently, i had dinner with a couple of old friends – women i’d met during study abroad in 2006, back when we were wee babies just testing the waters of the world – and we got to talking about what we’d all been up to the last few years. ashley, who i hadn’t seen since 2008, had finished up her time at yale, gone on to tour the world with her a capella group, and then spent 2 years in the peace corp in malawi. from there, she’d traveled the world some more, and done all together “good for the world” things. martha, who i’ve stayed very close with, went back to boston to finish her nursing degree, went on to work in head trauma, you know, saving lives and shit like that, and just spent the latter part of a year doing an incredible kidney disease research project in nicaragua.

and it got me thinking: what the fuck am i doing with my life? see, as a kid, i thought i’d be doing great things. i went through a phase where i exclusively read lurlene mcdaniel novels, convinced that it was my destiny to be a pediatric oncologist. then there was my foray into songwriting, with a stint at a couple open mics, when i thought i’d be the next fiona apple, a teenage lyrical genius (guess that crown went to lorde). then i got into writing, really into writing, and i thought, i’m going to write stuff that will change the world.

i thought people would read my writing and feel things, that my words would give people goosebumps, that they’d make people laugh and cry and fight and make up again. i thought i’d do something great with this one singular talent i’d been given (especially since i’d failed so miserably at pretty much everything else i’d tried). i thought that if i couldn’t save the world with what i did, i’d save the world with my writing.

and here i am, 28 years old, working in PHARMACEUTICAL ADVERTISING. while my friends are doing things like attempting to cure kidney disease in sugarcane workers and bringing relief and calm to places in crisis.

and i know that we don’t all get to do great things. we don’t all get to change the world. we don’t all grow up to be the sorts of people that little kids look up to, that young people aspire to be.

but i sort of thought i was doing to, you know?

couple that with the fact that the internet and the blogosphere (i’m looking at you, pinterest) is FILLED with mantras like the one above, constantly reminding us that if we don’t do what we love, we’re failing. that if we DO do what we love, we’ll never work a day in our lives. that if we’re not doing chasing our dreams and making our passions a reality, we’re doing it wrong.

it can get overwhelming. it can make a person with a perfectly reasonable career and a great job feel like absolute shit. because here’s the truth: not all of us get to do what we love. the single mom who’s trying to make ends meet? she doesn’t get to do what she loves. she just has to go to work.

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i’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how we got to this place in society – a place that so relishes our ability to say, fuck a career, fuck a stable salary, fuck benefits, i’m just gonna DO WHAT I LOVE. how we got to a place where pinterest-pretty is pervasive, where everything is about showing just how beautiful and perfectly styled and amazing our lives are, each and every day.

here’s the thing: that shit? it isn’t real. as my friend molly said the other day, “not all of us save the world. some of us just wake up and go to work.”

or, as my mother said to me this weekend, when i explained that i was feeling kind of shitty about my job, “some of us save the world on the side. that’s what you do.”

it’s true, isn’t it? that sure, some people do amazing, incredible, life-changing, world-changing things. and i should be proud, thrilled, amazed, to call some of those people my friends. they inspire me to be a better person, to ask more, to learn more, to do more – but i don’t have to do those things in my day job. i don’t have to wake up each morning and say, goddammit, i am so fucking THRILLED to go to work today. sure, i can say that some days (and honestly, some days, i do), but the rest of the days, i can just be satisfied. satisfied to have a great job, to work with great people, to have a job that enables me to live in the greatest city in the world, one that pushes me and teaches me every.single.day. of my life. i can be satisfied to have things that others in the world can’t take for granted. things like a 401k, and health insurance, and the knowledge that i’ve got a paycheck coming in every 2 weeks.

those things aren’t glamorous, and they aren’t pinterest perfect, and they most certainly don’t amount to saving the world. but they are a luxury, and they make me lucky. because someday, my boring job will enable me to give my children the sorts of experiences my parents gave me. they’ll allow me to send my kids to summer camp, to take them on vacation, to show them the world, to give them perspective. and maybe i wouldn’t have those sorts of luxuries if i worked at a tiny non-profit.

so what if i haven’t written my life-changing novel yet? so what if i don’t save lives daily? instead, i get up and go to work, and i get paid to write each day. my 16 year old self – she’d be pretty proud of that, pharma advertising or no pharma advertising. do i feel uninspired sometimes? sure, but that’s why i started this blog. do i feel like i could do more sometimes? sure, but that’s why i volunteer, and donate my time and on

 

 

071f1eff1e6704c21a729ddd41fc8400yesterday was one of those days that made me think a lot about what i have, and how easy it is to lose everything in a single moment. i purposefully held off on posting; i think in the case of september 11th, for the most part, silence speaks louder than any words i could write. i didn’t live here when the planes hit the towers, but having been here for the better part of 6 years, i feel like i can at least call myself somewhat of a new yorker, and every year on 9/11, i feel a little pang in my chest, like a tiny piece of my heart has chipped off and swirled down the drain. the world is kind of a scary place these days, you know? i don’t remember the last time i saw something truly happy on the news, and conflict seems to be around every.single.corner. yesterday, i woke up to clouds obstructing the sun, and i thought, good. it simply wouldn’t seem right for the sun to shine on a day like today. 

like millions of other new yorkers, i got up, and went about my day. i took the subway, i walked to work, i got a coffee at my regular spot – but i did so with a heaviness in my heart that isn’t there on other days. then, when i got to work, i found out that a friend’s father had passed away the evening before. and while i’d never met him, and while this friend and i aren’t that close, i felt this dark cloud settle over me, one little prick of sadness after another.

the world just isn’t fair, you know? i know, that’s a silly and childish thing to say. of course the world isn’t fair. but sometimes i want it to be, so that bad things, hard things, things that break our hearts – so that those things don’t happen to the people i care about.

i’m not really the god-fearing type, but i do ascribe to the belief that there’s something greater than us out there, something that has a sense of our purpose, and our plan. that’s not to say there is a reason for everything, but i like to think that sometimes, there’s someone up there (oprah, is that you?) pulling just a few strings.

all that heaviness yesterday got me thinking about just how lucky i am. sure, i put up a post two days ago about my wounded heart, and sure, i’m SAF (single as fuck, a term i recently coined to describe myself), but if that’s the worst thing in my life right now, god damn am i grateful.

grateful. it’s a good word, isn’t it? it makes you think of the things, the moments, the people and places you’re thankful for. it reminds you to take a step back, and see everything as relative, and remember the good instead of focusing on the bad. on days when it seems like the world is a terrible, horrible, scary place, and like no one’s up there minding the store, i like to remind myself of what’s important: all the things i do have, not all the things i don’t. thinking about all those people who lost their lives on 9/11, thinking about my friend who will never get to call his father again – those are terrible, horrible things. and when i stop and truly think about them, they make me realize: my problems? not so bad.

so, as a short exercise, a few things i am grateful for.

1) my health, and the health of my loved ones. almost immediately after hearing about my friend’s father’s death, i texted my entire family. had my parents not been at a medical conference, i would have called. i just needed to hear that they were okay, that they were there. and then i said, i am so thankful that we’re all still here, and we’re all still healthy. my family isn’t perfect (who’s is?) but we love each other dearly, and i wouldn’t be where i am today without them.

2) my job. sometimes i hate it, but i quite like it, and i feel happy to go into work each day. doing something you enjoy is an absolute privilege, and i try not to forget that.

3) my city. i live in one of the most vibrant, exciting, interesting, diverse cities in the entire world. sometimes, new york uses me as its punching bag, but most of the time, the city is pretty damn nice to me, and i’ll be damned if i don’t feel lucky to live here.

4) my body. slightly connected to my health, but also its own thing. anyone who reads this blog regularly knows i struggle greatly with my body image (and i probably always will), but over the past few years, i’ve been working towards a place of acceptance. while i’m not there yet, i have gotten to the point where i have moments in which i feel strong, and capable, and oh so thankful for two working arms and two working legs, and the ability to get just about anywhere on my own two feet. there are many people (my own cousin included) who do not have this luxury; i try not to take it lightly.

5) my friends. i have never been the girl to have a huge group of friends, and slowly but surely, i’m learning to be okay with that. what i do have, however, is a good handful of people i can count on rain or shine, and then a whole other bucket of folks who are just plain wonderful, even if i can’t count them as my inner circle. this morning, one of my old coworkers reached out to send me a little ray of sunshine, and i can’t tell you just how much it made my day. people like that – ones who do things to make others happy purely out of the kindness of their own hearts – they make my time on this world worth it.

i’d love to know: what are you grateful for? 

47f4faffa2e429a05251506d444ac64fi had another post scheduled for today – a recipe for a delicious wild rice salad – but i woke up this morning and felt like i had to get something off my chest. for just about as long as i can remember, i’ve turned to writing to release my feelings. i was the girl that wrote diligently in her diary, who joined deadjournal (wow, throwback) in high school to write down all her emo musings. i’ve always needed an outlet for my feelings (because let’s be real: i have a fuckload of feelings, about pretty much everything, pretty much all the time), and sometimes, it just doesn’t feel right to burden my friends or family with them. so in those situations, i write them down. somehow, getting my thoughts out on paper (or virtual paper, in this case), makes things seem more manageable.

so, here i go again with the confessional style posts – something i haven’t done in quite some time actually.

i’d like to tell you a story. it’s called, “sarah might be single forever, but at least she tried” – lovely, right?

as many of you may recall, i started a new job a few months ago. actually, i suppose it was about 6 months ago, at this point. time flies! this is going to sound disgustingly superficial, but when i got the job, one of the first things i thought to myself was, well, maybe i’ll meet someone at my new job. there were absolutely zero eligible bachelors at my last job, and while i adored my coworkers, i wasn’t about to be baby-makin’ with any of them. now, before you go on and tell me that i shouldn’t be going into a job looking for a boyfriend (i know, thanks), let me explain.

it is really hard to meet people in new york. or at least, it is for an introvert like me. see, i “do” lots of things here in our fine city. i work. i volunteer. i exercise at studios, where, presumably, one might meet someone. and yet, i rarely do. meet people, that is. sure, i make friends, because i’m a girl’s girl through and through. but even that scares me (making new girl friends). try and put me in a situation where i’m supposed to meet a guy, and i clam up. i’m either awkward and aloof (not on purpose), or i try too hard. i can’t seem to straddle the line of the happy medium.

add to that a stint on just about every dating site there is (all of which have been beyond depressing, who wants to ONLINE SHOP FOR A BOYFRIEND? NO THANKS.), and i feel like i’ve tried it all. tell me: if a girl no longer enjoys pounding cranberry vodkas on friday and saturday nights, and she spends a good 9 hours a day in an office 5 days a week, where oh where is she supposed to meet someone? let’s say she’s already exhausted her friend circles, and she’s given up on stupid dating fads like tinder and okcupid.

i’ll tell you where. at her office. because it’s the place where she spends over 50% of her time each week, if not more.

that’s right, folks. i spend more time with my coworkers than i do with just about anyone else. it’s a good thing i like them.

so anyway, i went into this new job thinking that maybe, just maybe, there would be someone special here for me. and then, surprise of all surprises, i sort of thought i’d found him.

about a month into my new job, i realized i had a crush. one of those stupid, middle school style, blush when he’s around crushes. and for a little while, i had a sense that maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t a one-sided thing. that maybe i was about to get lucky. that maybe soon he’d be standing in my kitchen eating homemade cookie dough off a spatula with me late on a tuesday night.

and i let myself, stupidly, get excited. i let myself go all crazy in my head, and imagine all the things that could be. i started over-interpreting simple actions like a crazy person, because remember what i said about having SO MANY FEELINGS?! i got totally ahead of myself, and read into things that didn’t deserve reading into. and maybe a few things that did.

but either way, the end result was that i learned that i’d read wrong, and that my crush was totally, unequivocally, unrequited. and somehow, i feel like i kind of got my heart broken, even though i know that for all intents and purposes, that’s not at all what happened here. what happened here is that i let myself get my hopes up, and i dove in headfirst because i don’t know how to do things any other way, and then i got disappointed by something that should have been obvious in the first place.

and now, i just feel sad. like i wasted a few months on something that was never there, that was only in my head, and like i might just be single forever if i can’t learn to figure this shit out. last week, i had two girlfriends over for dinner, and i talked to them about my quandary, and i started going into this headspace where it was all, “and then i did this wrong, and then i assumed that incorrectly, and it’s clearly all in my head, and i should have never let it get to this point.”

and my friend kara turned to me and said, “no, that’s BULLSHIT. YOU DID NOTHING WRONG.”

and as hard as it was to believe, there was this tiny little spark in the bottom of my heart that said, “you know what? she’s right. all i did was believe myself and believe in someone else and hope a little bit. all i did was put myself out there.”

and while i do feel sad, i also feel like i need to not beat myself up over this. it’s not good for my heart to be thinking about all the reasons it didn’t work, all the reasons it was in my head, all the reasons he wouldn’t have wanted me. because that’s just going to make me feel like shit, plain and simple. and while it was me, obviously, it wasn’t really about me, you know?

so, here i go again, back out into the world, to try and feel my way into something that’s right. i feel like i could use a little white snake behind me, no?

5 Tips for a Better Night Sleep

so, yesterday, i talked about my overall sleep issues – from the little ones that plague me in my own bedroom to the bigger ones that hold me back when traveling – and today, i’m offering up 5 tried and true tips i use to help get me on my way to dreamland. these tips work best for me at home (of course), but they’re also easily adapted to travel. little things such as bringing a pillow spray that reminds you of home, toting your eye pillow from place to place (i’m that girl), and making sure you hunker down with a good book before bedtime can make a huge difference in the quality of your sleep. so, without further adieu, sleep tips!

5 tips for a better night's sleep

number one: invest in nice sheets. my personal favorites are these from pottery barn (and i have this duvet). they’re soft as can be (and only get softer over time), they come in crisp white (my favorite for creating a calming space upon which to snooze), and bonus: they’re pretty darn cheap! which means you don’t have to feel guilty about replacing them when the sun yellows them or you accidentally spill food that stains in your bed (what? that’s just me?). if you invest in anything, make it your sheets. there’s nothing like getting into a bed with scratchy sheets (my legs are tingling just thinking about it). your bed should be your oasis, the place where you escape from the world. so make it nice. bonus points for a big fluffy comforter, lots and lots of pillows, and a good mattress (which can make all the difference).

number two: power down. this is probably one of the most important ones. i know we’re all glued to our iphones, and i personally am guilty of checking my instagram feed right before bed, but it’s best for all of us if we just SHUT THAT SHIT OFF. an hour before bedtime, power down. shut off your computer, your phone, your ipad, your nook, your kindle, your TV. anything with a glowing screen should go bye-bye. except the old school kindle, which doesn’t glow at all (!!). hop into bed, or your favorite armchair, or your couch, and grab a book. research shows that the artificial light exposure created by our devices suppresses the release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, enhancing alertness and shifting our circadian rhythms to a later hour. AKA, making it way more difficult to fall asleep.

number three: make it smell good. i’m a huge fan of linen spray, and pretty much anything that makes my life/room/body smell good. so when i stumbled across this pillow spray during a trip to space.NK while in LA earlier this year, i pounced on it. and never turned back. scented with lavender and chamomile, this spray lulls you into dreamland with its calming aromatherapy.

number four: make it dark. really dark. natural light is great for waking up in the morning, but not so great for going to sleep. if you, like me, live in a city, you know that it never REALLY gets dark, what with all the lights of the concrete jungle glowing around you. i’ve been using an eye pillow since middle school, and i kid you not when i say i CANNOT sleep without it. something about the light pressure of the flaxseed, the calming scent of lavender, the cool silk…eye pillows are a godsend. they’re also great for headaches and stress, and can be popped in the microwave/fridge depending on how you’re feeling. i get mine here, in my hometown beauty shop (they’re locally made), but any silk/lavender/flaxseed version will do.

number five: embrace the cold. people sleep better in cold, dark rooms. we’ve already tackled the “dark” part above, so now, we’ve got to tackle the temperature. set your thermostat to 65 or lower, turn on your AC in the summer, open your windows in the winter, invest in a good fan – do whatever you have to do to cool it down. this is a really interesting read from the nytimes on how cooling down your bedroom won’t just help you sleep better, it might even help you lose weight! SCORE. personally, i love the feel of sleeping under a heavy comforter, so i ALWAYS keep it cold (this means i keep my windows open in the dead of winter). there is nothing i love more than the nip of chilly winter air coming through my window at night.

and there you have it: my five tips for falling asleep. other ideas include: exercising daily (this works wonders for me), no coffee after 3pm, and writing down tomorrow’s to-do list before you shut off the light (alleviating all the “omg i have to do this and this and this tomorrow” worries).

now, go on and get some shut eye!