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so, i’m going to let you in on a little secret: my name is sarah, and i’m a bit of a shitty sleeper. even though i need a LOT of sleep to function (we’re talking like 8 or 9 hours), my sleep in our fair city is disrupted at best, and positively terrible at worst. when i’m home at my parents’ house, i sleep like a baby. no waking up to pee, no sirens shaking me out of my dreams. i can easily spend 10 hours tangled in my sheets, with not a care in the world. now, part of that’s how damn quiet it is in the woods of western massachusetts, and i’m sure an even bigger part of it is the fact that i feel undeniably comfortable and safe in my parents’ home – feelings i’d have to admit i still don’t 100% feel here in new york, even though i’ve called the city home for six years now.

new york has also re-awakened in me an anxiety problem that’s bogged me down in the past. lest you think i’m a total crazy, rest assured: it’s nothing too bad – but because life here moves fast, and my life is a busy one, i inevitably spend nights tossing and turning, my mind like a broken record player, skipping from moment to moment, to-do to must-do. if i’m stressed even just a little bit, i won’t sleep well, or even worse, i’ll barely sleep at all. i find sunday nights particularly tough – something about the impending week ahead takes my anxiety up a notch.

i’m also a terrible sleeper when i travel – so much that my doctor kindly prescribed me ambien, something i take only in the worst of situations – i do much better in my own surroundings, or at least, in places i feel comfortable. see, i have a thing about sheets.

let’s back up. since i was a child, i’ve had sort of an issue with sensory stimulation. ask my parents about dressing me as a little girl, and they’ll tell you i refused to wear anything with buttons, anything too scratchy, anything that came too close to my neck (god forbid you try to put me in a turtleneck). i liked things that were soft, stretchy, and easy to pull on and off. i hated loud sounds (the vacuum cleaner was not my friend), too. and forget trying to get me to eat something with a strange texture (seafood was out). a weird child, right? apparently, this is a real thing. and yes, my doctor parents have “diagnosed” me with it.

as i grew up, i somewhat “grew out of it” – though what that really means is that i learned to adapt. to dress in things i could tolerate, to sleep in my own bed most of the time, to be careful what bedding i brought to camp each summer (shopping for a sleeping bag was NOT my cup of tea, and my grandma’s old army blankets were OUT), and to try new things, food-wise.

story time:

my family loves to tease me about a trip we took to france with my best friend K the summer before our freshman year of high school. during our 2 week of travel, we spent a few nights in a historic hotel built into the rock face of a small, picturesque village in the south of france. the hotel freaked me out. beyond freaked me out. everything was dark and scratchy. the building seemed to shift at night. there were spiders crawling on the walls. the bedding felt damp, dirty. it was quaint, and romantic, and beautiful – but all i could see was how the place was going to eat me alive.

i slept on bath towels for the entirety of our stay. i couldn’t bring myself to let my legs touch the sheets.

because my parents are saints and K loves me despite my quirks, everyone just let me do my thing (albeit with a bit of light teasing).

fast forward to the summer after i graduated college. i’d planned a 2 week eurotrip with my friend alex, who was studying abroad in paris. he was going to take the train down to barcelona; i was set to fly there and meet him. we had an entire itinerary planned out.

on my flight over, i sat in front of 2 tiny children who were totally out of control. they kicked my back the entire way to heathrow. i arrived in london bleary-eyed and ate a shitty airport croissant before hopping on a ryanair flight to barcelona. by the time i arrived in spain, i’d slept not a wink in 24 hours. i was totally crazed, beyond exhausted, and wanted nothing more than to pass out.

we spent the night in an adorable little hostel with the typical set up: our room included a series of bunk beds; alex and i grabbed a pair of bottoms. when night fell, alex promptly fell asleep. i climbed into bed and prayed that sleep would come.

but it didn’t. instead i listened to the man above me smack lips with the woman he’d met not an hour earlier. i listened to the streets of barca whirl by me. and i listened to the whirring of my overtired brain, as it scaled through all the reasons i wouldn’t be able to sleep. the sheets felt like paper against my skin. i felt bugs crawling up and down my legs (not real ones, of course – they were in my head). i listened to alex snoring slightly, his chest rising and falling with each breath. i counted sheep. i counted the tiles on the ceiling. i watched as the bunk above me sagged slightly with the weight of the couple above.

but i did not sleep. around 1am barcelona time, i took my international phone out of my pocket and went out into the street and called my mother.

she answered on the second ring.

“sarah? what’s wrong? what time is it there?”

“IT’S 1AM AND I CAN’T SLEEP AND EVERYONE ELSE IS SLEEPING AND I’VE TRIED EVERYTHING AND I’M SO TIRED AND ALL I WANT TO DO IS SLEEP BUT I CAN’T. ALEX IS SLEEPING, THE ENTIRE HOSTEL IS SLEEPING AND I’M AWAKE.”

i lasted about 10 seconds before bursting into tears. i was the crazy american girl sobbing into her cellphone on a random bench, legs curled beneath her under a streetlight that cast washed out yellow light onto the cobblestoned street.

my poor mother, my wonderful mother – she sat on the phone with me for an hour, as i breathed in and out into the phone while she coached me into relaxation.

“deep breath. in, and out. in, and out. in, and out.”

and then i went back inside.

sometime around 4am, i fell into a fitful sleep. i hadn’t slept in over a day.

the next morning, i awoke totally flipped out. i’d had my first ever panic attack, and my entire body was on edge. i felt like i had hives, like i was vibrating negative energy out onto the streets of barcelona. my body was a live wire. i felt certain i’d collapse or explode at any moment.

i made it three days before i booked a flight home to massachusetts. alex and i didn’t speak for two weeks.

i abandoned him on our journey, on a trip we’d been planning for months, because my anxiety (created by my inability to sleep) got the best of me. when i told alex over lunch that i needed to go home, that my mind was out of whack, he put his head down. and told me he understood. and then promptly told me he needed the afternoon to himself. i didn’t blame him, i couldn’t. i only blamed myself.

since then, i’ve been extremely careful about how i travel. i bring my own sheets, because i know if i sleep in bedding i know, i won’t feel spiders crawling up and down my legs. i know that if i bring my eye pillow, i’ll have a little bit of home with me. i know that if i book nice hotels, i’ll have less of a chance of finding a hair in the bed that’ll set my anxiety off like a firecracker.

did i mention that i LOVE to travel? that i wish, more than anything, that i could be that down ass chick who shacks up in a hostel on the beaches of bali without a care in the world? that i could pack everything i needed for a  2 week trip into a backpack and just head out into the sunshine with no worries at all?

my “sleep issues” – or whatever you want to call them – have held me back more than i’d like to admit. there’s places i haven’t been, trips i haven’t enjoyed, because i’ve been too goddamn anxious and tired to enjoy them.

it’s sad, isn’t it?

so you can imagine that even when i’m home, in my own bed, i still don’t sleep all that well. ever since my panic attack on the streets of barcelona, i’ve become a more anxious person. a person whose blood electrifies her veins just a bit more than the average human. that night was like flipping a switch. i’d never really had anxiety. i’d never had a panic attack. and all of a sudden, i was a person who did, who had.

now, if anything is out of whack, i won’t sleep well. i’ll spend the night ruminating over the things i could have done, should have done, wish i’d done.

which is why i’ve developed a serious system for sleeping. a series of 5 things i do, each and every night, to prepare myself for a good night’s sleep (or, as good of a night of sleep as i’m capable of). i’ll be sharing those here tomorrow, with the hopes that they’ll help some other bad sleepers get some shut eye.

if you’ve made it this far in my miniature novel, kudos to you. now, go get some sleep.

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inferiority_eleanorroosevelt

 

on friday afternoon, as i walked home from on a sunshine high (seriously, how good was the weather on friday?), i had one of those, god, i love new york moments. the sky was a crisp, clear blue. the humidity was low. it was 3pm and i’d already finished work, eaten mexican food outside in the sun, done a bit of shopping, and walked home from soho. the rest of the afternoon and evening stretched in front of me, sweet freedom with not a care in the world.

for a moment, i really loved my life. not because anything wonderful had happened, but just because for those few minutes, i was blissfully happy.

until i wasn’t.

see, new york city has a way of never letting you get too close to bliss. the city will let you teeter precariously on the edge of happiness. it’ll let you stand on precipice of perfection, but it’ll never quite let you get there.

and just as i was feeling like the world was my oyster, like someone had poured glitter into my veins, i encountered your garden variety crazy person, screaming on the sidewalk at lord knows who.

“you’re not a real american!” he shouted. “you think you’re a fucking american? i’ll tell you who’s a fucking american. you’re not a REAL AMERICAN.”

now, i’ve lived here long enough to know that the best method in these situations is to keep your head down, continue walking, and not draw any attention to yourself. and most importantly, not to make eye contact. so, i kept pace about a hundred feet back, as he ranted and raved in front of me.

until he stopped directly in front of the CVS i needed to enter, and i had no choice but to walk right by him. at first, i paused, held back a bit. something told me to brace myself, that maybe i should cross the street.

don’t be stupid, i counseled my inner voices. he’s not even talking to you. he doesn’t even see you. he doesn’t even know you’re here.

so i kept walking.

and guess what? he saw me. because as soon as i came into his line of vision, he started shouting.

“FAT AND BLONDE. YOU’RE JUST FAT AND BLONDE. THAT’S ALL YOU ARE. YOU THINK ANYONE CARES ABOUT YOU? FAT AND BLONDE. YOU’RE JUST FAT AND BLONDE.”

for the record, folks, there were no other fat and blonde people in the area. nope, he was talking to me. screaming at me. immediately, my cheeks caught fire, and i ducked into CVS and headed straight for the back corner, where i could take a few deep breaths and regain my calm.

before i knew it, i was willing myself to hold back tears in the snack food aisle. if my life were a movie, this would have been the moment where little scary cartoon devil people had popped up all around me screaming, fat and blonde! fat and blonde! fat and blonde!

i wanted to simultaneously smack myself for letting a mentally ill person get to me and burst into tears right in front of the fruit snacks.

as soon as i checked out, i did what any sane 28 year old person would do (not): i called my mother. who proceeded to tell me, in the most rational voice possible, that i couldn’t let a random homeless person get to me. in the background, my sister called out, “you don’t even know that he was talking to you!”

but i did. i did know he was talking to me. i’m sure of it. but whether he was or he wasn’t is somewhat irrelevant, isn’t it? because the reality of the situation was that he only had power over me, and over my feelings, if i let him. if i allowed those sorts of statements to seep into my bones and vibrate throughout my body, i was sure as hell going to feel like a big fat pile of UGLY.

if, instead, i chose to try and shake it off – to buy myself a bouquet of sunflowers at the bodega and remind myself that it was beautiful outside and i was happy – then he didn’t win.

so i gave myself about 10 minutes to feel sad about it, and then i straightened myself up again, bought myself not one but two bouquets of flowers, and told myself it was okay. and you know what? after about an hour, it was. just like that! just by telling myself i wasn’t going to let that negativity affect the rest of my day, it didn’t.

and that, my friends, is the power of positive thinking.

or maybe the power of sunflowers.

or maybe (most likely), the power of saying to myself, over and over again, i’m not as fat as i used to be, you motherfucker.

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tonight is the first night in far too long that i can remember having absolutely nothing to do. no plans after work, no elaborate meals to cook, no spin classes to take, no freelance work to do. just me, myself and i and a stretch of four or so hours with which to do whatever i please. i’ve gotten in such a rhythm of busy busy go go go that i almost forget what to do with myself when i’ve got all the time in the world. it was an odd sensation, taking the train home at 6pm just like everyone else, crowding onto the L train and smushing myself into someone’s slightly sweaty armpit. it was weird to put my key in the lock and realize that for once, i’d beat my roommate home. i made myself dinner, and watched two episodes of my new favorite obsession, orphan black, before realizing that it was miraculously only 9pm, and i still had two delicious hours to kill, blogging or reading, or just plain laying in bed my hanging with my cat (as crazy cat ladies are wont to do).

it’s amazing what a night in will do for the soul, isn’t it? it’s funny. earlier today, i had a bit of an anxiety attack when i looked at my planner and realized i had no real plans for the week. WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH ALL THOSE EMPTY HOURS?! my brain screamed. and then i promptly made plans for the next 3 nights. and for what? don’t get me wrong, i’m excited to do all the things i plan to do this week, but really, did i need plans? what’s the worst thing that could have happened if i’d been plan-less? i would have sat at home all week watching tv, reading the goldfinch (this month’s book club pick) and baking chocolate chip cookies? those are all things i like, actually, love, to do. and yet, it’s like i have fomo for things that haven’t even happened yet. like i’m terrified that if i stay home for too many nights in a row, the world’s most exciting events will go on in my absence and i will miss them.

it’s rather pathetic, when i think about it. and also, sort of strange. see, if there’s one thing living in new york has taught me, it’s how to be alone. like, really alone. as in, perpetually single alone. okay, hopefully not perpetually single alone, at least not forever, but you get my jist.

before i moved here, i always rolled with a posse of friends. we went to the bathroom together. we went to the grocery store together. we ate dinner together, made cookies together, watched silly girly movies together. it was rare that i’d spend a few hours in solitude, let alone a whole day.

and yet, here i am, six years into my time in new york, and it’s not uncommon for me to spend a whole weekend by myself. i mean, i go out and interact with society, but i do the things i want to do on my own. i’ll go to bar method and walk around soho, try on shoes i don’t need at j.crew and peruse the wares at the farmer’s market all by my lonesome. often, it’s just me and my headphones, my crazy thoughts and my sometimes sane ones. and for the most part, i’ve grown to enjoy it. crave it, even. when you work in a career that requires you to be “on” and witty at all times, it’s nice to disconnect sometimes. stet that. it’s more than nice. it’s necessary.

so why did i get in a tizzy about the possibility of three straight nights with no plans? i mean, really, who am i? what are these miraculous events and opportunities i think i’m missing out on? and why do i need to compete with those whose lives are a bit more exciting than mine?

i don’t. that’s the reality. i don’t need to compete, not even a little bit. not even with my imaginary cooler, more exciting self. because it’s a ridiculous, petty, silly thing to do, and a losing game. and more importantly, because, as tonight reminded me, i like my alone time. and i need not apologize, not to anyone else, and most of all, not to myself, for taking it every once and a while.

so, here’s to all of us brave enough to tell fomo to fuck off. here’s to staying in and watching TV and eating stale twizzlers and listening to nick drake (what? that’s just me? no stale twizzlers for you? okay then). revel in your staying-in-ness, in your decision to skip the bars and the restaurants and the socializing for some good ol’ one on one time with your brain. it’s a good thing, i promise.

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yesterday, i read this incredible, moving, maddening, saddening piece of work on xojane. it made me feel a giant complex ball o’ feelings, an amalgamation of hurt and shame and pride and anger that reminded me of my favorite quote from jeffrey eugenides. in particular, one section stood out:

Before I got on the plane, my best friend offered me a bag of potato chips to eat on the plane, but I denied myself that. I said, “People like me don’t get to eat food like that in public,” and it was one of the truest things I’ve ever said.

how often have i uttered that same exact sentence in my head? how often have i not eaten something i wanted because i was afraid of what people would think? or, on the contrary, how often have i tried to squelch my feelings of shame and eat exactly what i wanted, only to feel overwhelmed by thoughts of, am i being judged for eating this?

i’ve written on here before about my struggles with my weight. i’ve talked about my new year’s resolutions, which include learning to love my body. i’ve written about the f word. i’ve written about finding acceptance on a hike in nicaragua. i’ll probably continue to write about my struggles for the rest of my life, because lord knows i’m never going to be a size 2, or probably, even a size 6. but i’d like to someday get past the shame of that fact, to feel as though i can consume a bag of potato chips, or a bar of chocolate, or a plate of fries, without imagining that i’m being judged for doing so.

i know the feeling the author speaks of above. i understand what it’s like to not sit down on the subway because you’re worried you’ll take up too many seats. to not opt for certain outfits, or bright colors, or tight clothes, because you feel you haven’t earned the right to do so. i know what it’s like to want more than anything for your body to be invisible, to be whisper thin, to disappear inside itself, to just, for one single moment in your life, live without being conscious of how your body takes up space in the world.

i’ve been going to bar method for over three years now; this summer, i’ll mark a year of thrice-weekly soulcycle classes. i know, somewhere in my heart, that the bar method soho community loves me for who i am and doesn’t think, “fat girl” when i walk through the door. but i do. deep down, i still think it almost every class i take. i look at my legs and my waist and my chest in the mirror, and i look at my arms when we raise them above for balance, and i survey those body parts next to the rest of the pin thin women in class and i judge myself, and the little voice in my head tells me that all those women around me are doing just the same. they’re looking at me, up on my tiptoes, and thinking, what is she doing here? she’s been coming for 3 years and she still looks like this? she must eat like a pig. she clearly has no self-control. you’d think she’d have lost more weight given that she’s here 5 days a week.

you would think that, wouldn’t you? i would. i wish i had. but i haven’t, mostly because i refuse to deny myself the things i truly love. contrary to popular belief, most overweight people DON’T sit on their couches stuffing their faces 24/7. many of us actually eat quite a healthy diet, one filled with fresh fruits and vegetables and peppered with quite a bit of exercise. some of us are genetically pre-disposed to have a larger ribcage. some of us won’t ever have a thigh gap, no matter how much we want it.

when i was younger, i used to wish i had the self control to starve myself. i would scold myself for my lack of discipline, my inability to do what it took to be thin.

i’ve done enough work on myself (the inside, at least) to know that’s not a healthy attitude. but i’d be lying if i told you i don’t feel shame every time i step into a soulcycle studio. i’d be kidding myself if i said i haven’t tried many of the fitness classes i’d like to try for fear that i’m too fat to try them.

most of the women (and men) who ride at soulcycle have bodies that amaze me. they have not an ounce of fat on them, their muscles are carved into their skin like ancient stone statues. their sweat trickles down the cuts in their abs, the rock solid dips in their shoulders practically vibrate with strength. they appear to be the sorts of people who’ve never once had to worry about their weight. they flaunt their thinness in sports bras and tight yoga pants (not that i blame them; i’d do the same if i could). and i look at them, and all i can think is, are they looking at me and wondering what the hell i’m doing here? when i check in at the front desk, i wonder if they think i won’t make it through class. when i clip into my bike, i wonder if the person behind me sighs and thinks, ugh, great, the fat girl is in front of me.

i try hard, so hard, not to think like this. but it’s been ingrained in my mind that because i am greater than, i am lesser than. my weight isn’t just the ball and chain i wear around my ankles, dragging behind me with every step i take, it’s a scarlet letter on my ample chest, telling the world i’m no good. i’m lazy. i eat too much. i don’t exercise. i don’t deserve that bag of potato chips. i don’t deserve to ride in a class of athletes when i’m not one myself.

when i catch myself feeling pretty, feeling good, that feeling is often quickly squashed by my inner hatred, my inner shame. i can’t possibly look pretty, can’t possibly feel good – not if i’m still fat.

the only thing greater than my shame over my weight is my shame that i AM so ashamed of myself. i don’t want to live like this. i don’t want to think like this. i don’t want to be like this. i am far from perfect, but i am also far from a failure, inside and out. sometimes, when my favorite soulcycle instructor isabel says things like, “be proud of where you are right now, how strong you are,” i have a brief moment where i truly feel strong, and truly feel proud of my body and what it can do. but all too quickly, i let myself get bogged down by my insecurities, and my shame, and that feeling of pride dissipates before i can catch it and bottle it up for future use.

i want, so badly, to accept myself for who i am. i know, deep down, that no one will accept me until i can accept myself. i’m making progress, showing up to class each day even though i feel so decidedly out of place, and working through my feelings by writing about them. i’m making progress by buying clothes at lululemon even though their founder says fat women shouldn’t shop there. i’m making progress by trying new things, and meeting new people, and for the most part, wearing the things i want. i’m making progress by having small moments where i allow myself to feel pretty, to feel wanted, to feel worthy of someone’s attention.

because at the end of the day, i won’t be young forever, and even if i’m pretty now, lord knows i won’t be when i’m old and crotchety and bitching at my cats on my front porch at the ripe old age of 85. it’s not just my body that counts. it’s that i can love with all of my heart, and take care of the people who mean the world to me; that i can bake a mean chocolate chip cookie and can sing karaoke with the best of ’em.

and you know what? when i let that side of myself take center stage, and i push that judgmental little voice out of my head, things are okay. and if i want the potato chips, i’m going to eat the damn potato chips. IN PUBLIC.

closetcleanout

 

when i first moved to new york, i shopped at goodwill and salvation army quite a bit. i was on budget, and there was many a vintage gem to be found within those racks. i was happy to find blazers for $7, an insane sequin minidress for $14. i shopped there for the thrill of the hunt, for the fun of it.

that being said, every time i stepped foot into a salvation army or a goodwill shop, i did so with the knowledge that what was for me a “budget fashion” adventure was for others a necessity. shopping at a discount store was something i could choose to do. i had the means to shop elsewhere.

for many, there is no elsewhere. someone else’s used belongings are the only option, they’re all they can afford.

i’ve grown up fortunate; rarely in my life have i had to worry about money. of course, i budget, and i think about my finances, but i’ve never had to worry about whether i can eat, or afford a nice outfit for an upcoming interview, or pay my rent (okay, maybe i’ve worried about that last one a few times, dammit new york). i have a safety cushion, a family that will support me if i were to truly need the help, and a career that helps me afford not just the things i need, but the things i love and enjoy. i am damn lucky to be in that position, but i know quite well that many people are not that fortunate.

since i was young, my parents have instilled in me the importance of giving back to those less fortunate. i grew up volunteering at the local soup kitchen, working as a candy striper at the local hospital, and doing a family-wide closet cleanout multiple times a year (toys and all). we regularly donated our lightly used belongings to the local homeless shelters, our televisions and books went to the library, or to whatever school i attended at the time. for all of their bounty, my parents believe deeply in taking care of those around them, especially when those people have less than they do.

it’s not that i think donating my used clothes to goodwill is equivalent to doing some big mitzvah. it’s not like i believe my worn blazer will help someone afford their rent next month. but here’s what i do know: feeling good in your clothing is a luxury that should be available to ALL. feeling good in what you wear isn’t about how much you spend, or the name stitched into your sweater. it’s about putting something on and feeling like yourself. feeling like you can take on the world. it’s about feeling smart, feeling strong, feeling confident, feeling beautiful, or pretty, or badass, or whatever you want to feel on a given day. there is power in a good outfit.

and a good outfit is something everyone deserves – no matter what their budget.

perhaps its naive to think that my closet cleanout each season helps someone feel powerful, or strong, or beautiful. but why not give the clothes that once brought me joy a second chance at happiness? why not donate them to someone who might need them? who might love them? who might put them on and think, damn, i look good today?

even the smallest little acts of kindness matter. i’ve been raised to believe that when you have, you give. and so when i find that i have a surplus of anything – be it clothing, or shoes, or sheets, or food – i do my best to find a way to give it to someone who doesn’t. i don’t kid myself into thinking i’m changing the world, here, but i do like to think that maybe, just maybe, the things i do, and the items i donate, make someone, somewhere, smile. that has to count for something, right?

if you’re looking to donate your clothing, this list from elle should help.

MY TOP TIPS FOR CLEANING OUT YOUR CLOSET

1. if you haven’t worn it in 6 months, give it away. it’s a fact: no one wears everything in their closet. most of us wear about 1/3 of what we own. if you haven’t worn it in a while, it’s time to let someone else have a turn. it’s okay to hold on to pieces that have sentimental value, but if you don’t wear it often, chances are, that’s not going to change anytime soon. 

2. try things on, especially if you haven’t worn them in a while. weights fluctuate, trends change, things that used to look amazing no longer look so great. just because it no longer looks incredible on you doesn’t mean it won’t look amazing on someone else. try things on to ensure they still fit, and even more importantly, that you still like them. things that look good on the hanger can look positively ridiculous on.

3. if it’s disgusting, don’t give it to someone else. as stated above, i’m ALL for donating your lightly worn clothes/shoes/etc. but no one wants your raggedy gym t-shirt with pit stains. if it’s gross, don’t donate it. no one will want it, and it’ll just go to waste. instead, tear up your old tshirts/sweatshirts, and use them as cleaning rags. used towels and sheets can be donated to local animal shelters. here in new york, kittykind (where i volunteer every so often) repurposes old sheets and towels as padding for beds for the cats we rescue. 

4. you don’t need that many coats. new york cares does a coat drive each season, and i’m sure your city/town does as well. for those that live outside, especially on the east coast, winters are brutal, and a nice warm coat can help the homeless survive in the frigid temperatures. consider keeping a coat or two for your own purposes, and donating all the others (you know you’ve got a few old coats sitting in your closet) to those that need them.

5. be honest with yourself. that shirt you bought on sale that you’ve literally NEVER worn? you’re never going to wear it. that gift you never returned because maybe someday you’d like it? time to let it go. keep the items you truly love, wear often, and make you feel your best. donate the pieces that don’t make you feel like a million bucks (again, apply the “be honest” rule here). 

remember:

be sure to wash and fold all of your items for donation. when you can, donate to a local homeless shelter or, if applicable, animal shelter, instead of a giant like goodwill or salvation army. happy cleaning!

 

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guys, i’m totally having a champagne problem. as in, a problem that’s so ridiculous, and so unworthy of attention, that i can’t believe i’m even writing a blog post about it. except that’s sort of my thing: i write about my problems. and my heartache, and my joy, and just about anything else i can think to write about. writing about my life has always been how i process it (ALL THE FEELINGS, ALL OF THE TIME), and lately, i need to process this issue: i am too damn busy. does anyone else feel like the quote above? my brain is just constantly churning with ‘to do’s’ and ‘don’t forget’s’ and all these other silly tiny little things that swim around in my imagination like tiny little amoebas.

i am a creature of habit to a fault, and ever so slightly OCD, which means that once i get in my head that i’m going to do something, i have.to.do.it. as in, if i wake up on a monday morning and tell myself that i’ll get two workouts in, and stay late at work, and wash my sheets and make myself a healthy dinner and catch up on at least one hour of TV, i have to do it all. even when there aren’t really enough hours in the day to do it all. and that’s just the things i do for myself, unrelated to any sort of social life.

see, that ridiculous list up there? that was my yesterday. and the average person would say to themself, self, i don’t think you have time for all those things. so maybe just one workout, or perhaps you order sushi instead of cooking red thai curry from scratch. or, self, the laundry can wait till another night. and all of those responses would be totally normal, and totally practical. but my brain doesn’t work like that. instead, it opens tab after tab after tab, trying to keep track of all the things it wants to do in any given day, and when those things don’t happen, or even seem to appear as though they might not happen, my stress levels go into overdrive.

would the world end if i didn’t make it to bar method? of course not. but in my head, not making it to bar method means destroying all the progress i’ve made in the past 3 years. would it matter if i didn’t get to wash my sheets after a somewhat debaucherous weekend? probably not. but in my head, the sheets are dirty, and contaminated, and stinky and must be washed immediately.

these thoughts are, i know, not the thoughts of a rational person. but a rational person i am not, especially to those who know me well. actually, scratch that: when it comes to advising others, i’m actually quite rational. but in my own head? shit is cray up in there!

riding a few times a week at soulcycle has worked wonders to help me clear the tabs in my brain. it’s as though with every sprint i complete, or every hill i climb, i’m closing a tab. single and never getting married? not going to worry about it today. x that one out. didn’t get to clean the apartment and OMG there’s no time and OMG it’s so dirty? CLICK. that can be done tomorrow. am i doing okay at my new job? do they regret hiring me? tab begone. there’s no way to know what they’re thinking, so it’s a waste of my time to hypothesize.

i’m sure if you’ve read this far down, you’re thinking, geez, sarah is a really crazy person. and i kind of am. thankfully, i’m a few other things besides crazy, and i’m not as crazy as the guy who called me a bitch in the subway yesterday for not donating a dollar to his “get more alcohol” fund.

here’s what i’ve learned about closing the tabs: it’s important to know what helps me shut that shit down. i have a tendency to get really wrapped up in my mind, in my worries, in my anxiety of what comes next, or what i haven’t done well enough or fast enough. and over the past few years (and even moreso over the past few months since i’ve started riding at soul), i’ve learned to be cognizant of when i’ve got too many tabs open. of when my brain is on overdrive. and most importantly, of how to close some tabs when things are getting a little like a mosh pit in the region above my eyebrows.

here’s how i calm myself down:

1) make a list. check things off. even things that you’ve done already. it will make you feel accomplished. (type A folks, can i get a hell yeah?) putting everything on paper means taking it out of my head. once it’s written down, i can close those tabs, and move on with my life.

2) take a bath. i used to HATE baths. i thought they were for old ladies, and more importantly, people who didn’t appreciate the importance of truly being clean (who wants to sit in their own dirty water?). as it turns out, they’re for people who want to close some tabs and let it go. (note: as an aforementioned slightly OCD person, i always do my actual showering after my soak)

3) sweat it out. again, i’m going to give a big shoutout to soulcycle here, for helping me get grounded and #leavethedramaonthebike. last night, instead of going to get a drink with coworkers, i went to bar method. and i debated literally until the very last second which thing i should do: be social, and friendly, and a good coworker, or get the workout i knew i’d feel unfulfilled without in. i went with the latter, and by the time i’d left the studio, i felt lighter.

4) make something. for me, it’s usually a baked good – something about turning on my kitchen aid really gets me in zen mode (weird, i know). it’s not even about eating the sweets. it’s about the methodical measuring and mixing; it takes my mind off everything else.

5) when all else fails, call mom. oh my god, do i dread the day when i’m officially too old to call my mother and vent. seriously, when is that cut off? have i passed it already? does it happen when i become a mom myself? my mother is the only person who will listen to my ridiculous ranting and still love me at the end of the day. god bless her.

there you have it. 5 ways i close the tabs and calm myself down. i’d love to know: what do you do when life feels overwhelming and your brain is on overdrive?

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over the past few years, i’ve become somewhat of a workout nut. i’ve talked a bunch about my love for bar method, and more recently, my obsession with soulcycle (the only thing that’s helped me lose weight pretty much ever), but i haven’t given an update on my workout sitch in quite some time. during my first few years in new york, i was an evening gym-goer, but once i got into the ad industry, i quickly realized that the nights of leaving at 5pm were O-V-E-R, and that if i wanted to ensure i got a workout in, i had to do so before i went into the office.

three plus years later, i’m totally an early morning convert. on the days i wake up groggy and cancel bar method, i regret it. the mornings i don’t work out turn into days in which i simply don’t feel as good. i’m less awake, less motivated, less happy…there’s something about starting the day with your endorphins pumping (something i experienced today with an 8am soulcycle class) that just makes life easier. i’ve learned that i don’t have as good of an experience at bar method if i go to an evening class. getting zen before work, and letting the day’s worries evaporate before i even walk out of the studio, makes a huge difference in my day to day stress level.

with soul, i love a good morning class to get pumped up for the day, but i also love riding out my stress in the evenings. soulcycle is so high energy that you can’t help but leave invigorated, even if you walk into the studio tired. i’ve fallen into a bit of a rhythm with soul and bar (something i was struggling with when i first started riding): mondays, i do AM bar and PM soul. this means i start out off my week zen and end my mondays (which are always rough, in my opinion) feeling relaxed and ready to take on the week ahead. tuesdays, i’m AM bar (no soul). wednesdays, i’m AM soul (no bar). thursdays, i’m AM bar (no soul), and fridays, i’m AM bar and evening soul. that equals out to four days of bar method and 3 soul classes a week – then i sometimes add an extra bar or soul class in on the weekends.

i’ve been lucky to make friends at bar method, and to bring friends to soulcycle, which means that i’m often able to turn my workouts into a social excursion as well. at this point, i’m past enjoying working out (something that was a BIG hurdle for me when i initially started classes at bar method) – i seriously look forward to my classes, especially because half the time i know i’ll be burning calories alongside friends. last saturday, my friend lisa and i (who i met at bar method) took a 10:30 AM class, grabbed some breakfast, then spent the afternoon shopping in soho. i literally couldn’t have asked for a more perfect saturday. again, there’s something about starting your day with a workout that just feels amazing – as the quote above says, it makes me feel alive. i especially feel this way at soulcycle, when i’m mid sprint and want to give up, and–thanks to instructor motivation–manage to push through, taking my body to places i thought i couldn’t go. there’s really no better way to feel alive than to challenge yourself and come out on the other side.

in short, i feel more alive than i’ve felt in a while, and perhaps more importantly, more balanced and connected with my body than i’ve been in a long time, maybe ever. and that makes the above worth every penny, and every minute of my time.

the one downside of all those morning classes? it means i carry my life around with me pretty much 24/7. my ‘work bag’ is enormous, and also carries either my outfit for the day or my workout clothes, plus my makeup, hairbrush, clarisonic, facewash, bar method socks, spin shoes…the list goes on and on. this generally means there’s no room for my lunch (which i try to make myself the night before), so i carry that in a mini lululemon bag (why hasn’t someone designed a cute yet adult lunchbox yet?). Image

WHAT’S IN MY GYM BAG

for shits and giggles, i thought it might be fun to put together my workout essentials: the things i can’t get through bar method/soulcycle without. my standard outfit includes lululemon wunderunder leggings (my absolute fave, they’re worth every penny because they last forever), a lulu racerback tank, an old navy sports bra (inexpensive at just 16.50 a pop, and they’re often on sale!), and bar method grippy socks. if i’m at soul, i swap the bar socks for regular socks, and add my shimano spin shoes (also an investment, but again worth every penny, they paid for themselves after a few months of spin classes – soul charges you $3/class to rent shoes that someone else’s sweaty feet have been in). i also carry around all natural spray deodorant, blotting papers for the times i can’t shower, and of course, my water bottle, which i legitimately could not live without. it’s pretty much an extension of my arm – which is why i’m contemplating splurging on this adorable heart BKR bottle (glass, BPA free!) that i actually gave my friend kim for christmas (but really want for myself!).

my one other must-have is something i actually haven’t tried yet – no sweat detergent. it was recommended to me by someone at soul this morning; she swears by it to get that sweaty smell out of your workout clothing. i hate to admit it, but even with regular washing, my soul clothes are beginning to smell a bit musty. i don’t think it’s anything anyone else would notice, but i certainly notice them when i put them on. i’ve tried adding a cup of vinegar to my wash (something i read online), but that didn’t quite kill it. my new soul source tells me the no sweat detergent is the real deal, and makes a big difference in how her clothes smell – especially when you can’t wash them right away (which, let’s be honest, is pretty much always the case…my sweaty clothes sit in my hamper for a few days before they make it into the washing machine. gross, i know). i have high hopes that no sweat is going to be a real lifesaver when it arrives on my doorstep!

and that, folks, is my healthy living roundup. what i’m doing, when i’m doing it, and what i’m wearing when i do so. end scene.