Let's talk about microaggressions

So, what’s a microaggression anyway?

In the event you’ve been living under a rock, have no fear, it happens to the best of us and it’s always better to learn late than never at all. According to Psychology Today, microaggressions are the everyday verbal and nonverbal slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile or derogatory comments to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership (i.e. ethnicity, religion, sex).

Can we get some examples?

A familiar example to point out is when people ask the question “What are you?” in relation to one’s heritage rather than their actual birth place. For instance, I have repeatedly been asked, “Where are you from?” to which I’m all Jersey baby, fuck yeah. But then, after my amorous show of affection for the great state of NJ, I am often rebutted with “No, where are you really from¸ though?” as if I’m lying and actually arrived via shipping container from somewhere in southeast China. Pretty much anyone who isn’t obviously white has been asked this question before.

Other examples of microaggressions include but are not limited to: asking a lesbian if she’s ever had “real sex,” assuming a black man is dangerous, telling a black or hispanic person that they’re “like, unusually articulate and well-spoken,” calling a Jewish person “cheap,” etc. And microaggressions aren’t just verbal, either. My best friend sent me this awesome article that discusses how Asians are often confused with one another by fellow coworkers. This has happened to me at literally every job I have ever had and it is absolutely a type of microaggression.

Do only white people commit microaggressions?

In a word: NO. I have a point of contention with some of the current discussion around this topic because it seems that many articles are primarily (or solely) calling attention to white people.

While white men take the metaphorical cake in greeting me with “Konnichiwa” or assuming I can’t speak English, they’re far from being the only race guilty of doing so. I’m just saying, if we are going to have this talk, let’s be real about it. “Microagressors” are pervasive and everyone should become more aware of how they treat others.

How do people feel about microaggressions?

First off, microaggressions are real. They hurt and suppress people in ways that words have always hurt and suppressed people. That said, the prefix “micro” is in there for a reason. The same people who question where I’m “really” from are rarely the same people who call me a chink or go about committing violent hate crimes. Racism, as with all forms of prejudice, has a spectrum. For me, microaggressions fall on the less-serious end of that spectrum.

How do we deal with microaggressions?

Personally, my response to microaggressors varies: sometimes I’ll gently (or not-so-gently) call people out. Other times, I let it go if I don’t have the energy for it. Either way, I don’t feel bad regardless of which route I take. Of course, other people feel and react differently, and who am I to judge? If someone is devastated by a continuous stream of microaggressions (as many are), they have a right to those feelings and to speaking out about it. Regardless of your stance, though, I would encourage you to keep the following points in mind:

1.     People who commit microaggressions are intellectually inferior. It’s the truth. I grew up with the mentality that people who asked me questions like “can you see a full picture with such small eyes?” were either 1. innocent children or two, 2. stupid.

2.     I believe that a good deal of microaggressors are not malicious. Does it mean they get a free pass? Of course not. Let’s not confuse this with sympathizing with aggressors and blaming victims. I simply mention this because some aggressions and aggressors may warrant different responses than others, and that’s perfectly okay. The point is to be open to teaching and open to learning.

What now? You tell me. Leave your comments or questions below.

Here's to making progress, together!

Photo credit: http://www.nparcseattle.org/uploads/1/0/8/3/10830917/9460351_orig.jpg

 

New Year on Tangent Pursuit! 5 things I've been loving lately

It's been a while since I posted. Far too long, in fact. As it happens, I had a whirlwind of a fall with my first semester at The New School and my first busy season at work, so some hobbies were temporarily placed on the back burner, including Tangent Pursuit. And you know how it goes sometimes... a week goes by, two weeks, a month, and then it's "Oh, why even bother now?" Having originally posted 2-3 times a week for a year, it felt daunting to get back into the swing of things after such a hiatus, but in the spirit of a New Year and resolutions, I've decided to commit to posting interesting content... at least once a month. Yes, once a month. Not twelve times, just once.

Back in November, I read an anecdote on Ramit Sethi's blog (which covers an array of topics, including self-improvement) about a woman who wrote in to discuss a goal of hers: she wanted to run 3 times a week, every week, and she just could not seem to stick to it. Ramit responded to her, "why not just aim for once a week?" to which she replied "well once a week just doesn't seem worth it." It's a ridiculous and silly notion, really, to think and live our lives in such a way, and yet with our human egos and anxieties and our busy lives, we are all liable to fall for it. So, here's to blogging once a month this year - you can hold me to it! 

I wanted to kick off the new year with a few backlogged NYC gems I've been dying to share. Here they are:

1. Barley and grain

For good whiskey. I went to UMD, worked at a dive bar and am half Irish. Ipso facto, I enjoy whiskey, specifically bourbon. So it was quite a treat to step into Barley and Grain this fall for the first time. It's a small, rustic whiskey joint located on 81st and Amsterdam with some of the best craft-cocktails around. And with $5 happy hour specials running from 5-7:30 Mon-Sat, I've already made myself a regular. Shoot me a text and I will join you for happy hour any day.

2. Say Yes! Artist Collective

For beautiful performance art. Besides showcasing some of the most talented and entertaining poets, musicians, dancers and comedians NYC has to offer Say Yes! is also simply an intriguing, down-to-earth group of people to share an evening with. They've held events on Brooklyn rooftops, around backyard fire-pits, and most recently, at the Bowery Poetry Club. Follow them on Facebook here for upcoming events and news.

3. Saigon Shack

For the best Vietnamese in Manhattan. Hands down, this place is the tits. Not only is the pho rich and the banh-mi both crisp and succulent, but the price is on point (~$10 for a pho or bahn-mi) AND it's on Macdougal street. Come on. Doesn't get better than that. The ambiance is perfect for a first date, tenth date, or friend date. Just bring cash and be prepared to wait a little. Considering it's location, you shouldn't have trouble grabbing a drink in the meantime.

4. Bloomingdales' Outlet on West 72nd

For the best new deals. I know, we're all broke from Christmas so why would I promote such a thing, right? I'm also supposed to be following a self-imposed spending-freeze on unnecessary shit until, like, March. But once I start buying fairly useless materialistic garments again, you better believe it'll be here. The deals are real, with a tad bit of hunting required. Sign up for the emails and you'll be notified of even bigger in-store sale days. Or, simply ask me since I'm a subscription whore and get 50 emails a day from every website ever invented, including, as they say, bLoOMies!

5. Psychedelic Education

For one of the cooler social experiences you'll have. Coming off the heels of recommending frivolous shopping at Bloomingdales, I may not seem like the most... spiritual person, but just follow me, here.  In early December, I had the chance to attend a Psychedelic Education program at The New School. While I did not trip balls (and nor did anyone else - it's an educational experience, not a rave. (not that there's anything wrong with raves. at all.)) I found the pure conversation and information sharing to be extremely intellectually stimulating. It's a safe space for people to discuss their experiences (or lack thereof), ask questions, and learn from some of the greatest researchers and humans our generation has produced. If you're feeling intrigued, I promise you won't be let down. Check it out here

How to balance a busy life

I'm currently on my fifth week of working full time while also going to grad school full time. I also generally volunteer monthly, exercise daily, and enjoy having a social life on weekends. I may sound like an obnoxious overachiever and maybe it's because I am (screw you, whatever), but personally, I've just always felt eager to experience as much as possible.

Nevertheless, it gets exhausting. This past month has been a huge adjustment, even for me, but I think I'm finally beginning to learn how to balance it all without angrily texting my boyfriend every time something goes wrong (sorryloveyouthanks!). Anyway, here are my five tips to staying sane while busy.

Wake up earlier

And if you're not a morning person, all the better. I have never enjoyed being spoken to within the first hour of waking. I need coffee, breakfast, and most importantly, some me time, before any interaction. When I'm really under a time crunch, these routines hold even more importance. So, while I could take the train to work and sleep in until 30 minutes before I need to be at my desk, I instead choose to wake up around 75-90 minutes ahead of time (clothes and bag laid out the night prior) and walk the two miles to work. By the time I arrive, I feel energized rather than frantic, which is better for both me and anyone who needs to engage with me on a regular basis.

Prioritize correctly

Do you sit down at your desk and immediately start checking email? It's a hard habit to break and seems like the intuitive way to get your day started, but it can also immediately set you in a reactive mindset. Instead, keep a running to-do list with items listed in order of importance (I use the computer-generated sticky notes so I never lose them!). Upon sitting down, check your list, your calendar, and organize your day. 

Take strategic breaks

Speaking of being reactive, it can be difficult to remain cool and collected when you're under a lot of pressure and have tons going on. And let's be real, unless you work in an ER or a place of equal importance, there's no reason to get super worked up over deadlines and workload. When the emails are piling in, phone is ringing off the hook and you're ready to snap, just take a 10-15 minute break to walk around the block, grab a snack or call your mom and say hi - you'll be better off for it!

Be healthy

You don't need to spend a fortune on probiotic quinoa kale mash or whatever, but do try to make smart food choices - it's literally the fuel we run on. You also don't have to dedicate hours and hours to spin class - in fact, physically exhausting yourself is not a good thing. I learned this last week after I threw my neck out CHANGING MY SHIRT a few days after taking a really hardcore bootcamp class. Looking back, such a high-intensity workout was extremely counterproductive and definitely triggered an injury. I needed to be rejuvenated, not beat the fuck up and out of commission for a week.Lesson learned.

Make time for friends

I'm a yes person. Sometimes my boyfriend will ask me outrageous questions (hey we have two hours to kill - want to go kayaking in the Hudson and train to Flushing Chinatown for lunch?) just to get a kick out of me saying "sure!" sans any hesitation. This trait has scored me some really fun times in life, but it gets exhausting and works against me sometimes. I'm learning (slowly) to choose plans thoughtfully without feeling guilty and plan ahead to make sure I get quality time with friends I love to see.

End your day on a positive note. On all days, but especially busy ones, it's important to turn off the lights and ease into bed, rather than crash into it. For even just TEN minutes before going to sleep, turn all electronics off, light a candle, and read a little something, listen to something inspiring, or nom on some chocolate. Whatever it is, enjoy it!

 

3 key notes about finding your passion (or widely-applicable life lessons from my father)

If one year ago you told me that today I would be a) getting ready to begin my Master of Fine Arts in creative writing at The New School, b) a member of Norwood Club and c) working in Thought Leadership at PwC, I would be over the motherf-cking moon.  Today, all three of those things are true. 

Needless to say, passion, happiness and gratitude have been front-of-mind lately. If I'm really being honest, though, they always have been. Ultimately, it's what the Tangent Pursuit is all about: finding pockets of free time to explore and enjoy your world in a positive way, thereby inching that much closer to an ideal existence. 

Growing up, my dad spoke frequently and candidly about life and the pursuit of passion. As an immigrant who genuinely came from nothing, he was always keenly aware of the opportunities that surrounded him and he made a constant point of it to my brother and I. So, in an attempt to dish out the knowledge I've acquired on finding and pursuing one's passion(s) while remaining happy and grateful along the way, it only felt right to pay some sort of homage to my pops at the same time. Dad, this one's for you. 


3 key notes about finding your passion (or widely-applicable life lessons from my father.)

1. To learn what you DO like, you have to first understand what you DON'T like
At various points in my life when I was frustrated with something I was experiencing, my father would remind me that in order to get closer to the things that make you happy, you have to distance yourself from the things that don't - but first you have to be able to discern between the two! 

As a self-admitted "jack of all trades/master of none,"  I have spent a large portion of my life siphoning through one short-lived hobby to the next - of course taking away pros and cons from each experience, but nevertheless finding myself, at times, frustrated by my easy enamorability (not a word, I know. Whatever). I started a farmer's market, ran a marathon, taught English abroad, etc. The list truly goes on. I mean, does anyone remember when I opened an Etsy shop for handmade feather headdresses? ...hopefully not. But really, I was obsessed. I became totally immersed with this idea of feather headdresses and spent a solid amount of time and a little bit of money pursuing it, only to learn that it felt like I had confined myself to my own personal sweatshop and it wasn't really my thing. But that's okay! From that experience, I was able to take away a set of conditions I knew I didn't like about being a small business owner while also becoming semi-fluent in SEO and website building which would later prove handy. Plus, now I can say I made someone's alternative wedding veil (true story!). 

The point, a la Ze Frank's Brain Crack, is that I gave each idea a legitimate shot and saw it to full fruition prior to abandoning it. Then, when I realized it wasn't for me, I was able to move on without all the internal shoulda/coulda/woulda that comes along with emotionally giving up something you've never actually tried.

To know what you DO like, you have to figure out what you DON'T like. Sometimes, that means trying out a whole bunch of random shit.

2. Know your options 
No joke, these three words are actually inscribed on the back of my dad's business card (he's an independent financial advisor). I like piggybacking this piece of advice on top of the first tip above. Because once you start getting a feel for what you do like or what your passion might be, the focus turns to knowing what your options are in regards to pursuing it. 

To put this in context, I'll give you another personal example. Around 4 years ago, I started writing. I always loved literature and oscillated in and out of stages where I kept a journal or jotted down random snippets of creative thought, but I had never exercised my passion for it regularly. When I finally started working writing into my weekly routine and churning out somewhat readable content, I began submitting essay upon essay to the ever-admirable site, Thought Catalog. Eventually, I ended up getting published. For my 22 year-old self, that silly little nod was the best thing that had ever happened to me, period. It gave me a huge confidence boost. It made me realize that just because I majored in business in college didn't mean I was confined to that world. Ultimately, it led to me becoming more involved in a creative lifestyle. Over the next  three years, I would have articles accepted by Elite Daily and poetry published by the Artist Catalogue. Eventually, I would build my own blog (thanks to some help from that Etsy experience!) and even start a small, successful artist collective. One small pat on the back became impetus for all this imaginative energy. 

However, after 4 years, I finally wondered how I could merge my passion for writing with my every day life. My first thought was an obvious one: change careers and go into journalism. I looked into graduate programs for journalism, searched jobs, etc. It just didn't feel quite right. Was that truly what I wanted? After a lot more research and plenty of time spent thinking about how to satiate this creative urge, I took a gander at Creative Writing MFA programs. Now this, I thought to myself, looks like a way in which I can spend my time. See, it took a significant amount of time and trial and error before I was able to understand what all my options were and then move forth intelligently.   

Same goes for Norwood Club. Over a year ago, my dad (again, go faja!) brought up Soho house to me and suggested I apply. That one suggestion opened my eyes to an entire subculture of compelling social clubs throughout New York. After doing plenty of homework and speaking to a few clubs, I found myself cozily at home at Norwood - and mostly thanks to that small artist collective + writing! 

3. Regardless of what's happening, you gotta live your life 
At the end of the day, my dad has always reminded me that regardless of what's going on, "you gotta live your life." There will, no doubt, be difficult obstacles to work through during this journey.  "Finding your passion" does not happen overnight; working it into your life in a meaningful manner takes even longer. When you experience setbacks or hurdles, it's certainly important to persevere. However, sometimes you have to step aside before you can step forward. Basically, don't forget to take in life's small pleasures and remain grateful. Take a moment to enjoy the sunset, share a glass of wine or laugh at a comedy club. Don't neglect exercise, vacation or any of the essential delights, solely in the name of your passion. And think about this: the last time I went on vacation, I got tapped on the shoulder by a PwCer out of the clear blue sky. It's when I was at my most relaxed that I was introduced to the job I now have. 

 

3 Affordable Ways to Rejuvenate in NYC

Okay, I know it's been a while. I don't have any excuse other than I've been extremely busy ramping up with my new job, traveling for work/pleasure, and getting up to speed with the social calendar of summer. In the midst of all of this, I have (shockingly) found myself physically tired, emotionally stressed and battling a month-long summer cold. However, I'm happy to say that I'm FINALLY feeling back to normal and looking forward to this glorious holiday weekend that is almost upon us. And since I'm getting back into the swing of things, it felt right to post about it! Here are my top 3 suggestions for how to rejuvenate on the cheap in NYC:

1. Get a Chinese Massage $20-$45

Also known as a Qi Gong parlor or hey-that's-a-sketchy-looking-place, these massage joints literally hit all the right spots. You probably pass by them regularly, thinking to yourself, "no way would I dare walk down this strange, dark alleyway." Next time, you should dare and you just may be rewarded with a glorious massage by an authentic Chinese Qi Gong masseuse that actually knows what they're doing. And have no fear, they cover the cleanliness basics by changing the cotton sheets and paper face thingies in between each session. Sure, the walls are more like soft dividers and there's no steam room to lounge in afterward, but at $37 for a 45 minute massage, you still can't beat the bang for your buck.  I mean, that's like a brunch bill. Come on.

2. Treat yo'self at Juice Generation $4-$10

As mentioned, I had been battling an epic summer cold for about a month, during which time I ingested somewhere around half of aisle 5 at the pharmacy. While medication certainly has its place, I'm also a big proponent of natural remedies. Enter: Juice Generation. For $5.45, you can get a 12-ounce fresh-pressed Cold Warrior, which includes: green tea, fresh orange, ginger root, echinacea, zinc and Vitamin C. It's a pleasant indulgence AND extremely good for you. Even if you're not sick, a trip to Juice Generation for a drink and some of their delicious meals will leave you feeling like you just experienced a mini health retreat. And all for $15-$20. Next girls night adventure? I think so. 

3. Get. Out. Side. FREE 99

I've said it before: never have I interacted with nature on such a daily basis as I do living in New York City. It sounds strange to most people, but it makes plenty of sense when you think about it. First off, I live a stone's throw away from Riverside Park and three blocks from Central Park. Because of the layout of the city, I walk nearly everywhere, including the 2+ miles to work. If you live uptown, this is a no-brainer. However, even if you're downtown, I bet you're not too far from The Highline, Madison Park, Washington Square or an accessible rooftop - so make use of it! You don't necessarily need to kayak in the Hudson or take a day trip to the botanical gardens (though, kudos if you can swing it!), you just need to get outside for a little bit each and every day. We've all heard the factoids about the positive benefits of even just 15 minutes of Vitamin D and they're all true. Even if you're super crunched for time, take 10 minutes to stroll outside in the sun on your next lunch break while counting your blessings or calling a loved one and then try telling me you didn't have a good day.

Getaway: Pacific Beach, California

My friend Erica and I met in first grade and have been #bf4ls ever since. In fact, we were so close growing up, there was even an online thread posted about us once in middle school that claimed we were lesbians. (We ain’t mad ‘bout it.) We went on to graduate college together after she finally transferred to UMD her sophomore year.  Then, that pesky “real world” attacked and I ended up in Virginia > New York and she in Arizona > San Diego. It’s been a little tough and very odd not living side by side these past four years. But once she moved to Pacific Beach last year and I finally felt settled in New York, I knew it was time for a visit.  So, I finally got out there! Below are a few of my favorite things about the trip:

1.      Seeing my BFF, DUH.

There’s only so many people that you can crack up laughing with after only minutes of being together. For me, Erica is one of those people. There’s also only so many people that wont second-guess spending Sunday afternoon of MDW with you at the CVS minute clinic when you come down with a killer sinus headache (#FTL!). Thanks, bae.

2.      Breakfast at The Fig Tree

Situated around the corner from Erica and Drew’s apartment is the most adorable and delicious breakfast place of all time. It looks like a big tree house and the food is phenomenal. (the rosemary potatoes and fresh-squeezed OJ were especially d-lish.)

3.      Riding bikes through La Jolla

After a hearty breakfast, we rode bikes through the streets of La Jolla and played pretend House Hunters. Even with all the mansions and over-the-top residences, though, it was these cute little surf huts that stole my heart.

4.      Lounging at Wind and Sea

Known for being a famous surf break and a hotspot for photo-shoots, Wind and Sea is also a pretty divine location to simply lay out and kick back. Which we managed perfectly, just like the professionals we are.

5.      Acai / Pitaya Bowls

Acai / Pitaya bowls are all the craze these days and they’re seemingly sold on every corner in San Diego. The bowls are made of frozen acai berry or dragon fruit mixed with a small amount of liquid (coconut water, almond milk, soy, etc.) into a sherbet-like texture. They’re then topped with healthy pickings like berries, granola, peanut butter and coconut. #omnomnom is right.

6.      Strolling the Pacific Beach boardwalk at Crystal Pier 

Lined with old-school cottages that have a 2-year waiting list, there’s plenty of history at Crystal Pier. As for the rest of the boardwalk, people-watching alone can be a full day’s activity. We strolled the boardwalk one day and then met my cousins (!) for lunch at World Famous, yet another great foodie find.

7.      Oscar’s Fish Tacos 

Also around the corner from Erica and Drew’s place is Oscar’s. About the size of a small food truck, this North Pacific Beach taco haven crushes it with fresh seafood and ridiculously low prices.

8.      An outdoor BBQ

On Sunday night, I managed to come halfway-back to life after a healthy dose of Sudafed. We barbecued and played corn hole in the front yard.

9.      Experiencing Club Pilates 

I love exercising, so while I wasn’t feeling up to a crazy workout thanks to my sinuses, I wanted to get a little something in during my trip. Enter: Club Pilates. I tried out my first class on the reformer machines for a meager ten bucks. It was actually a ton of fun to maneuver the reformer and definitely the perfect workout to settle on.

10.  Massages & kickin’ back 

I’m a massage fiend and a total diva when it comes to pampering myself. Unfortunately, I’m not made of money. So, it’s always a beautiful thing when I can score a solid massage at a low price. At Health & Wellness Arts Healing Center, I was able to do just that. Located in Pacific Beach amongst a strand of restaurants and shopping, the Healing Center offers a $50 massage for a full hour. It’s clean, relaxing, and best of all, the massage was absolutely top-notch. On my last day, I enjoyed a massage and then kicked back with Erica to crack up over Broad City and Best in Show.

Can’t think of a better way to spend, or end, a vacation!

New Yorkers: How to Weekday Staycation

There are myriad ways to spend a free day in New York, not one of which are "wrong" per se. Between five boroughs, 800+ languages and enough cuisines and cultural events to match, excitement lies every day in every pocket of this great, vast grid we call home. That being said, allow me to now share with you how I decided to spend the past few glorious days off. 

I am currently transitioning jobs and decided to take a little time off in between. At first, I was apprehensive to take more than a long weekend, but after some thinking, I changed my mind. And let me tell ya, I'm glad I did. This break has been a truly wonderful period of reflection, enjoyment and relaxation. At a time when spring is finally coming out of it's half-frozen shell, 10 days off couldn't have been more aptly received. 

1. Head to the Museum

One of the greatest aspects of this city is its rich collections of art and history. But, what New Yorker wants to spend their free Saturday afternoon being suffocated by throngs of crowds just to get a short-lived peek into some of even the most wonderful exhibits? This past Monday, I grabbed a cappuccino from my favorite cafe, Cafe Lalo, and strolled over to the American Museum of Natural History. I most enjoyed the Butterfly Conservatory (duh), the Hayden Big Bang theater, and the Countdown to Zero (Disease Eradication) exhibit. My entire experience was easy, swift, and relatively quiet. I spent a solid 20-25 minutes in the tiny conservatory with 500+ butterflies and maybe 10 other people, tops. I waited less than 4 minutes for the Big Bang theater, and was virtually the only person in the Disease Eradication exhibit. 

If you have only one thing to do on a free weekday in New York, this is it. 

2. SPA (affordably!)

Yes, I know. I adore spas. But, who doesn't? With some nifty research and calculated planning, I've been able to score hour-long massages for as little as $30 in the city. That, however, did not come without its fair share of work. I've used deal sites like Groupon or memberships like CandleSpas and then literally had to plan 4-8 weeks ahead of time for a weekend pampering session. Why? Because you don't get massages that cheap without it coming at a price -- the price being convenience due to mass competition for weekend appointments by other "savvy" New Yorkers who are doing the same exact thing.

However, if you've ever tried to schedule a spa appointment Monday-Friday, the tides radically shift. Spas are virtually empty during the week and you can schedule one as little as 24 hours ahead of time usually. So, when I received a nice little text from Red & White spa in Soho advertising their 50-minute massage & 50-minute facial for $99 total, viable during the dates I was conveniently on staycation, I jumped at the chance. What ensued was a luxurious friday afternoon at one of my favorite spas, feeling like a total princess.

3. Shop

Whether we're talking clothes shopping, food shopping or simply window shopping, shopping in New York on the weekend can be stressful. Like most other activities, everybody's doing it. On an easy Tuesday, however, it's so peaceful it's almost, dare I say, therapeutic. I took the liberty to skim thrift-store racks for some new spring clothes (sans the dressing room wait) before navigating empty aisles of full shelves at Trader Joes. On the way home, I slowly enjoyed the magnificence that is Columbus Avenue in the sunshine, without being shouldered by pedestrian traffic. Though, it's admittedly always a little calmer on the Upper West, this was even surprisingly enjoyable for me. In the evening, I dressed up in my new spring finds and crafted a delicious spread of charcuterie and wine for dinner... on my own couch, in my own little apartment.

4 Easy Ways to Spruce up Your Apartment

This is the time of year where I start getting the itch to emerge from hibernation and spend more time outside. Then I inevitably realize it's still a cool 30 degrees outside. Le sigh. But besides an enormous spring clean (which we'll get to eventually on here) there are some SUPER simple and affordable ways to bring a little more light and life into your apartment. Here are my four favorites:

Buy  Some Flowers

I can distinctly remember being a little girl and telling myself “when I get older, I’m going to buy myself fresh flowers every week.” For whatever reason, that signified some sort of mature indulgence to me at the time.  To be truthful, though, I only recently started fulfilling that promise. And you know what? It makes a really big difference. As humans, we’re biophiliacs by nature – we gravitate toward other living things. So, with a winter this cold, in a city this devoid of much plant life, fresh flowers can make all the difference.  Trader Joes/any bodega sells bouquets for as low as $2.99 (5 sunflowers pictured were $3.99). Trim the stems and add a squeeze of lemon and a packet of sugar and you’ll have lively flowers for a week +.

Light a Candle

Our sense of smell is the strongest one when it comes to recalling memories. So, it only makes sense that a specific scent can translate to a specific kind of happiness. Some people love the smell of vanilla or brown sugar, while others prefer citrusy scents or various flowers and spices. Personally, the food-themed candles are a little too much for me, but I’m a sucker for beachy/woodsy scents. This Woodwick candle “at the beach” has been so comforting and refreshing lately. Plus, it actually crackles as it burns, making me almost feel like I’m at a firepit on the beach.

Stock the Fridge

Few things are as rejuvenating as a recently cleaned, fully restocked fridge. As a foodie, this is, like, duh. Think about it: food is our nourishment. It should appeal to us aesthetically as well as nutritionally. I love opening my refrigerator and seeing a bunch of multicolored fruits alongside a variation of fresh veggies, delicious cheeses and a bundle of prosciutto or fresh shrimp. To give it a shot, simply try 1) cleaning out your fridge and then 2) making a homemade pitcher of sangria and a fresh batch of guac. Just imagine… colorful flowers, the scent of the beach, and you, kicked back with a glass of sangria and some Mexican food. You startin’ to feel me, here?

Re-organize Your Closet

In my old apartment I had a tiny hallway closet, so most of my clothes were hung on a free-standing garment rack in my room. This meant that I had to look at my clothes all the time, which isn’t necessarily exciting when you have a bunch of business suits staring back at you. To compensate, I put all of my work clothes and the majority of my darker clothes in the tiny hallway closet. Then, I used the garment rack to display my most colorful clothes in an appealing manner. When neatly organized, it was fun seeing my favorite red dress hanging next to my Peruzzi white leather jacket and my cobalt blue jeans. Moral of the story? Don’t underestimate the power of color.

Top NYC Speakeasies

Last week, I brought you to PDT down in the East Village, aka my favorite speakeasy to date. While it is easily the most well-hidden speakeasy with the best drinks, it's also the most well-known and so, not surprisingly, the toughest to get into. So, that being said, there are a few other hot contenders I'd like to share.

Back Room: Back Room is an actual operating speakeasy from the 1920s where the likes of Lucky Luciano hung out for "business meetings." I've never experienced a wait here and it's great for groups. The velvety-fireplace-gentleman's-living-room vibe has a low-key allure to it. And the novelty of having your drink served in a tea cup/paper bag doesn't wear off. Located somewhere on Norfolk St., this is one place that I've been to three times and each time I have trouble finding it. Look for the guy in a long black jacket posted up by an alleyway down a set of stairs. Oh, and keep an eye out for celebs, they love it here.

Blind Barber: Located on East 11th, the Blind Barber is a little easier to find than most speakeasies since there's always a line outside of it. Blind Barber actually operates as a barber shop during the day. Guests walk through a barely-lit barbershop and a secret door opens to boisterous party area. You'll get in eventually - you just have to wait (or throw the bouncer a $20). Once inside, the DJ plays awesome throwback hip-hop and there's a small room in the very back that's been converted to a library for those of a more quaint persuasion. 

Employees Only: Tucked behind a Psychic's curtain, Employees Only lies in my beloved West Village on Hudson Street. Matt took me here three long years ago and I was totally smitten - you know, with the bar ;). This place is best for dates - it's small with lots of sit-down tables and the food is just as delicious as the very well-touted cocktails. However, the bar area definitely gets brimming, too, so I wouldn't rule that out. Plus, it's in the West Village, so #win.

Know any speakeasies we missed!? Comment below!

Shh... Please Don't Tell (my favorite nyc speakeasy)

Two things New Yorkers love: a good cocktail and a great secret.

These days, the former can absolutely still be promised - and the latter can be, too, albeit a little less seriously. While modern-day speakeasies don't boast the secretive nature they once lived and died by (what with the internet and no more prohibition), reservations and even the actual location of some of these places can still elude even the most savviest of New Yorkers. Luckily, I've made my way around a drink or two these past three years, so I have some first-hand experiences to share. I'll start with my favorite (and most recent) one:

My birthday was this past Sunday and, for it, my boyfriend told me he had a little surprise planned out. The one catch? He'd have to make a call at 3PM and wasn't positive it would all work out. Lo and behold, 3PM came and 'a' call turned into about 40 straight calls. My second-hand anxiety kicked into gear. I didn't want him worrying about a reservation - there were a million places we could go.

So, he finally opened up: he wanted to take me to the famed speakeasy "Please Don't Tell" down in the East Village. Once he finally got through to the other end of the line, though, the reservations were all booked and our only chance was to go early and get in line (PDT opens daily at 6PM). We thought about it over a couple glasses of wine and decided to go for it. 

We arrived at 5PM at Crif Dogs on St. Marks and 1st Ave. The small hot dog joint only had a few customers, 4 of who were already posted up near at the telephone booth (i.e. the secret passageway entrance to PDT!). Luckily, they bailed after a few minutes, which made us first in line.

We took up two stools, ordered some cheese fries, and made ourselves right at home. As we waited, we watched Bruce Lee's "Enter The Dragon" on one of Crif Dog's super-old mini TVs while DMX's "Slippin" played in the background. I swear, the music went perfectly with the "boards, don't hit back" scene. Easily one of the highlights of the evening.

nyway, by the time 6PM neared, a line of 15 or so people had formed behind us. The light blinked on in the phone booth and I stepped inside to dial 1. 

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We made it! We were the first two people in and were placed in the best seats in the house, right at the bar. Sitting at the bar at a mixology lounge like PDT is like sitting at the Sushi bar of a great chef - it's a real treat! We skimmed through the menu and decided that the more ingredients we had never heard of, the better. Then, we watched our bartender "Long" work his magic crafting up the two most delicious cocktails either of us had ever tasted, period.

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A fun part about PDT is that you get to sip on the most perfectly crafted cocktail you've ever had and then order cheese fries and a hot dog! And even the food comes through a secret trap door from the kitchen. Even though we had ordered cheese fries already, we obviously went ahead and got another round + 2 dogs. 

After two fantastic hours, we decided to head home to catch SNL 40 (how good!?). But before that, I had a birthday beer back out in Crif Dogs, Matt tried on a new friend's hat and we ordered 1 last round of cheese fries. Naturally.

While PDT has been my favorite speakeasy to date, there are a few other standbys that I've come to love (and aren't quite as much of a hassle to get into!) Tune in next week to find out more of my favorite NYC secrets :

5 Healthy, Affordable & Easy-to-Make Breakfasts for Work

I’m an all-out breakfast person. I have no lunch routine and can honestly do without it some days. As for dinner, it comes in a close second to breakfast, but oftentimes some wine and a little fruit & cheese platter will do the trick. Breakfast, on the other hand, I have no exceptions for. If I don’t eat a filling breakfast, I turn into a monster and I am not to be f-cked with under any circumstances.

In a perfect world where time and money flow freely, I would wake up every day the way I do when I’m on vacation - over the course of a drawn out, 2-3 hour breakfast. I’d kick things off with tall, cold glass of water with lemon, followed by a freshly-brewed cup of Rook coffee with a little heavy cream (swoon) all while enjoying some form of impressive literature, a.k.a the Saturday Comics. Then, about an hour later, I’d break out some fresh berries to nom on while my poached eggs with bacon-avocado toast was being magically made over a bed of fingerling potato-kale hash. Naturally, I’d be soaking all of this up on a porch somewhere overlooking the ocean with the sun rising and happy birds softly chirping along the horizon.

Unfortunately, the normal Monday-Friday does not allow for such a magnificent breakfast routine. And as someone who clearly has a strong affection for eating during A.M. hours, I’ve had a difficult time adjusting. To compensate, I used to order my breakfast daily from a midtown bodega near my office. Regularly, I would have two eggs over easy, a side of bacon, hash browns with cheese, onions and peppers, rye toast lightly buttered and some fruit. After a while, though, I knew I had to change things up. For one, I was in need of a nap or a long walk after eating every morning - neither of which is plausible at my place of work. More importantly though, I was spending close to $50 a week on breakfast (thank you, New York prices). That’s $200 a month on breakfast. Not necessary. So, I changed things up and crafted a new morning menu.

The criteria? Each breakfast has to be satisfying, healthy, and CHEAP. Of course, it was also important that each meal be easy to make and heat up, whether at home or at work. (NOTE: I’m all for the whole “don’t eat at your desk” thing, but when you don’t have a cafeteria, you don’t have a choice.)

1.     ‘Topped off’ rice & beans + an apple

Do you know how little it costs to cook a plate of rice & beans? And furthermore how delicious and nutritious it is? Brown rice costs pennies (even if you get the microwaveable kind) and it holds very well over time. Same goes for beans. Make a batch of each on Sunday and bring them to work in separate containers. For added deliciousness, slice up an avocado, pack a baggie of diced scallions & shredded cheese, and stash hot sauce at your desk. Hello, Latin-American vacation.

2.     Frittata & berries

A frittata is basically a quiche without the crust. It’s surprisingly easy to make as well. All you need is leftovers and eggs, really. I always have spinach and mushrooms in my fridge, in addition to some kind of cheese and I’m never short of potatoes. Here’s how to make it: sautee some potatoes with onions, adding in whatever veggies you have left over. In a separate bowl, scramble eggs with cheese (I recommend pepper jack for a kick and a good melt) and pour over top evenly. Do not stir. After a minute or two on the stove, pop the pan in a 375-degree oven for about 10 minutes. Now, just slice it equally into 4-6 large slices and you have a satisfying, hot breakfast for an entire week! Note: A mix of mozzarella and prosciutto is also delicious for this.

3.     Cereal + hardboiled egg + clementine

This is perfect if you, like I, have a work refrigerator with endless cartons of milk in it. Milk that’s always fresh + always free = deal. Trader Joe’s has healthy cereals for as low as $2.69, clementines come in packs of 16 or so for $4 and organic eggs cost $4-5 a carton. Basically, you’re getting 12 days of breakfast for less than $1 a day. Boom.

4.     Fresh Banana-nut / Apple-Pie Oatmeal

Sure, you can buy the steel-cut oats that will pretty much feed you for a year, but you can also “splurge” on the $3 boxes of 8 packets in the fun flavors of apple cinnamon, maple syrup, etc.. It’s still healthy, okay? Seriously. It is. To freshen it up, chop up apples (for the apple cinnamon pack) or slice a fresh banana (for the maple-syrup pack). Top it off with some crushed walnuts & a drizzle of honey (also stashed at your desk). For some protein, make the oatmeal with that free office-milk. Or, just boil an egg!

5.     Avocado-Bacon Toast

Okay, so you may or may not have a toaster at your office, but regardless, this toast is doable. Cook the bacon ahead of time and store it in the fridge. Mash up 1-2 ripe avocados and add a little lemon and sea salt. Toast up some version of a nutty, whole-grain bread, smear the goodness and top it off with a slice or two of bacon. It’s honestly as easy as that and should last you 2-3 days (a squeeze of fresh lemon does wonders). If you don’t have a toaster in your office, you can always swap the bread for a bodega-bagel OR, better yet, eat this breakfast at home

 Do you have a favorite breakfast that you audible to in the morning? Share below!

10 Ways to Spend Valentine's Day (that DON'T involve a fancy dinner out)

Valentine’s day is an extra ridiculous holiday and it’s silly to give it more credit than it deserves. (That being said, if my boyfriend is reading this: I will take flowers. But also, feel free to get the $5 bouquets. I can’t tell the difference anyway.) While the holiday shouldn’t hold an ounce of the emotional weight that Hollywood and Hallmark would credit it with, it does happen to fall on a Saturday this year. This means it will be even more in-your-face than usual. So, what can you do (besides going out to a fancy restaurant for dinner) to enjoy the day? Whether you're single OR coupled up, here are my top 10 suggestions

1.       Indulge yourself at the spa – get a massage, some reflexology or maybe a facial. While you're in the sauna, practice that whole gratitude thing we talked about. You'll leave feeling spectacular.

2.       Organize a boozy brunch – since most V-day activities take place in the evening, grab all your friends (single or not), and make a boozy brunch of it. Then, you’ll be home in time to…

3.       Cue the Netflix! Get nestled under the covers and put in an order for your ultimate seamless trifecta. Like maybe soup dumplings from one place, and then a ginormous order of assorted sushi and spicy salmon rolls with extra spicy mayo from another.  And then, like, a cheese calzone if you happen to get high at some point during the evening and need more food. Just a suggestion.

4.       Make a homemade dinner for once. Filet mignon, creamed spinach, and a fine red wine will cost you a fraction of the price that you’d be paying if you went out to a restaurant.

5.       Watch The Vagina Monologues – and learn what V-Day is really all about.

6.       Have a tequila party and play Cards Against Humanity. See how inappropriate things can get.

7.       Call your parents! Better yet, visit them. You know, because really “they’re your first valentines” and also because free food.

8.       Go to the restaurants no one is going to on Valentine’s day (but are always packed otherwise) like, I don’t know, SHAKE SHACK anyone!? After all, it can be argued that there are few things more romantic than a double cheeseburger.

9.        Have a potluck with friends (couples and singles alike!). Everyone brings a shareable food item and a bottle of wine and the whole team goes HAM together. 

and finally...

10. Go to a comedy club! Again, whether single or coupled up, you'll find plenty of reasons to laugh and loosen up a bit. What more could you ask for?

The Single Best Way to Start Your Day

Some people prefer a nice, long stretch while others swear by things like cuddling with a loved one, taking a shot of apple cider vinegar, or even using the circadian rhythm alarm clock. Regardless of preference, though, one thing is for certain: people’s morning routines have long been a point of discussion. And it makes sense that we would care. After all, how we wake up is usually pretty indicative of how the rest of our day unfolds. If you’ve ever woken up late, spilled something on yourself first thing, or had a really bad dream the night before, you know that an interrupted morning routine can really throw you off.

But what if I told you that adding one thing to your morning routine could have a genuine, positive impact on the rest of your day every single time? Furthermore, what if I told you that it took 2-3 minutes tops, you could do it ANYWHERE, and it cost virtually nothing? Would you believe me? Probably not, but it's true.

Enter: the art of practicing gratitude. 

Think about the very first thing you do when you wake up. It involves your phone, doesn't it? Checking our phones first thing is a tough habit to break - after all, what else wakes us up easier than the dopamine-fueled activity of scrolling through a social media feed? Unfortunately, this means that we are already outside of our own heads within our first waking moment - it means we have immediately relinquished any sense of control over our environment and have handed the wheel over to whatever external factors jump in our path. That's kind of terrifying isn't it? Next time, try turning off your alarm and putting the phone back onto your nightstand. Sit up straight. Take a few deep breaths. And, well, count your blessings.

This doesn't have to be a religious thing  (though, it's alright if it is). It's really much more of a spiritual practice; a way of stepping back and taking stock; a method for starting your day off with a clean slate. Sure, the first few times you are groggy-eyed and foggy-brained it may be difficult to think of 3 things. But the more you practice it, the easier it will come.

A tip: if you really have trouble "thinking" first thing in the morning, count your 3 things before you go to bed the night prior. Write them down. Then, when you wake up, read them back to yourself. 

I've been practicing this for about 7 months now and I can genuinely say it has changed my life for the better. By practicing gratitude, I am forced to wake up and immediately acknowledge the positive circumstances of my life. Here's what this morning's list looked like:

I am grateful for...

1) cozy Friday evenings cooking dinner and drinking wine in a warm apartment

2) the freedom of being young

3) the power of natural sunlight

By taking pulse of my physical environment, current events happening in the world and my own internal feelings, I'm able to kick my day off to a much more positive start. I tend to come back to the things I counted in the morning later in the day when walking to get lunch or spacing out for a moment at my desk. If you keep at it, this practice really weaves a wavelength of good vibes through your day. Lately, I've been writing it down as often as possible which I also find helps. 

In our western society, we often forget how much power we truly have internally. For the slightest of health concerns, we quickly turn to pills, procedures and the like. For relationship issues, we vent outwardly to others. For happiness, we aim to acquire material possessions. But, at the end of the day, we still go to sleep with only our own peace of mind (or lack thereof) and wake up just the same. Perhaps, it is time to focus within, even if it is only for a few brief moments...

 

5 Ways to Cure the Winter Blues

I love living in the Northeast. I would never give up the changing of the seasons. However, I’ve always had a strange romance with winter – I think the cold builds character, encourages introspectiveness and fosters a sense of anticipation and appreciation for what’s to come with warmer days. But it also… well, it also can kinda suck. As someone who is often strongly influenced by her surroundings, the weather plays a big role in my life. I may not fully suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) but too many consecutive gray days and I definitely start getting weird. And I don’t think I’m alone, here.

Luckily, this whole “shitty weather = shitty mood” phenomenon is a known thing and there’s a lot of research on it. Below, I’ve taken a few tried and true methodologies and turned them into specific tips on how to legitimately cure those winter blues!

Have some tricks of your own? Share them in the comments below! 

1.       Get Silly

I was recently walking down the street and saw this little kid jamming the f-ck out.  I mean, his mother had him by one hand, sure – but the rest of his body was like an out-of-tune-yet-somehow-rhythmic machine. Best of all, you could tell he was nothing short of ecstatic about it. Do you remember what that was like? Just being totally PSYCHED over the smallest thing and immediately expressing it? It was awesome. Weird, yes. But also awesome. So while I obviously can’t recommend you go full-child in public, I do recommend you do a little dancing every day. Doing the dishes? Why not work in a little ‘robot’? Can’t get out of bed in the morning? Audible to the worm. Just lighten up, work a little silliness into your everyday, and get movin’! 

2.       Let there be light!

You know what’s a bummer? Darkness. And in the winter, we tend to get a surplus of it. Unfortunately, many of us spend most of our waking, daylight hours behind a computer screen, away from any semblance of the sun. However, simply rolling up your bedroom blinds can be an easy way to bring a little happiness into your day, first thing. Allowing as much natural light into our space as possible has also proven to help us sleep more in tune with our circadian rhythms, thus maximizing our energy. If you’re still down in the dumps, look into light box therapy, which the NIH recommends for those affected by SAD. 

3.       Take a break, go for a stroll…

Countless studies have shown that intermittent exercise breaks from work improve mood. Personally, I would advise everyone workout in some capacity at least 3-4 times a week. But even if you don’t hit the gym daily, just going for a simple 10-15 minute walk during your lunch break can improve your mood. Now, I KNOW you’ve seen this tip on other “how to not be miserable” lists, but have you actually tried it? Or, more likely, do you just sit at your computer and google something innocuous to pass the time in between doing actual work? That’s what I thought. If you genuinely try giving this a shot, I guarantee you’ll reap some benefits.

4.       CALL YA MOTHA

This woman gifted you with LIFE… so you should probably give her a ring every now and then. But really, talking with anyone who is a close family member or friend is a natural way to raise dopamine and serotonin levels. Hearing the voice of a loved one, if only briefly, can pull us out of our own heads for just enough time to provide some much needed perspective.

5.       Go ahead, have a drink…

But with someone. Even though hibernating for 48 hours every weekend in the winter seems like the right thing to do, being (selectively) social is still important. So, go out for a drink with friends! And newsflash: said drink doesn’t have to be alcohol-based. I'll defer to Tasting Table's divine list of Dryuary Mocktails to steer you in the right direction. Mocktails like the carefully crafted French Lemonade from Narcissa or Grace Street's sweet-potato take on the traditional Hot Toddy will have you sipping and satisfied, sans any of the booze. Of course, there's always hot chocolate as well!

Source: http://wallpaperswide.com/winter_morning_l...

CrossFit: What It's Really Like

Oh, CrossFit. Who doesn't have an opinion about it? By now, we've all seen enough 'personal best' Facebook statuses to know that the acronym "WOD" stands for "Workout Of the Day." We've also all likely seen at least one status lambasting the program followed by a string of comments so vitriol-fueled it makes us think "this is definitely not a thread I'm getting involved in." After all, the good people of Facebook do not play when it comes to their fitness talk. 

Moral of the story? CrossFit is popular, regardless of which way you view it. And it's not going anywhere any time soon. So, in order to provide a fuller picture, naturally I had to go check it out myself. 

While home for Christmas break recently, I decided to visit our local CrossFit gym with my friend Erica for a trial (again, this is my previously-introduced friend, better known as "Quik Chek Chick." I shouldn't have to tell you this.) After a wild, Asian-driver-induced detour, Erica and I made it Ocean CrossFit with a few minutes to spare before class. We strolled in, lattes in tow, looking super hard. Time to get swoll.

Since we were newcomers, Ryan (one of the owners) stuck with us the entire class, helping us with various technique modifications and assuring us that if we were to actually sign-on full time, there would be an "on-ramp" program that helped us learn every move and feel comfortable according to our own strengths, injuries etc. Um, really? To me, this indicated a high sense of quality.

I mean, I've taken yoga, pilates, boot-camp, spin classes - you name it - and never have I been individually walked through an entire class let alone a full program in the interest of safety and precision. And if you think that's because those classes are less injury-prone, you're kidding yourself. You know how the saying goes: big tree-pose fall hard.

Anyway.

The class was broken into three parts: a warm-up, a technique/skill, and then the WOD. For the warm-up we did a few sets of burpees and thrusters. For the technique, we did this thing called a "power snatch" which admittedly sounds like the name of a demon vagina, but don't worry. It's not. Then, for the WOD, we did "Fran" which consists of 3 sets of 21-15-9 reps of thrusters and pull ups. Since it's difficult to explain, I'll just show you the video of me crushing it at the last CrossFit games in '12. My hair was shorter at the time.

It's important to note that Fran does NOT have to look like that in real life. Erica, myself (and many other folks at the gym) took a series of breaks during the first set of 21 thrusters. As for the pull-ups, we both did different modified versions.

The verdict? CrossFit was a challenging, full-body workout that, if anything, parallels a bootcamp class, only with some more weightlifting and an emphasis on athletic precision. The people are NOT exclusive meatheads, as often rumored. In fact, they were super friendly and welcoming (we even did a mini icebreaker at the beginning - how fun is that?!). And as someone who has been exercising regularly since middle school, this is something I am psyched to get more into.

So, basically, look out for WOD Facebook statuses coming to a feed near you...

For the full lowdown, take a quick look at my Q&A with Ocean Crossfit owner Ryan Sherman below!

1.      People have a lot of opinions when it comes to CrossFit. What would you say the biggest misconception people have is? 

The biggest misconception about CrossFit is that people get hurt doing it. The problem is that there’s definitely poor coaching going on at some CrossFit gyms – but that isn’t the norm. I like to describe CrossFit gyms like restaurants. While there are many out there, some are of much higher quality than others. Our gym is a higher quality gym. We have experienced coaches who know what they’re doing and we pride ourselves on putting our athletes through an intensive program. This ensures every member properly learns the movements and techniques and can address any pre-existing injuries. That’s what you need in any gym, but especially a CrossFit one.

2. On that note... what are the top 3 most important things a newcomer should look for in a CrossFit Gym?

1. Coaching. 2. Facility (equipment, cleanliness, space) 3. Community. 

 3. So, can you do a crossfit workout from home? 

The reason you need a gym is because you have expertscoaching you. Coaches, similar to other trainers, can help scale workouts, and teach strategy, technique, etc. Another reason would be the top-notch equipment.  For instance, our gym is outfitted with the same type of equipment that you would find in Ohio State’s Football Facility. You can’t get that at home or even at your standard gym facility.

4.      I’ve been hearing about this “CrossFit Lite” thing – can you explain? 

CrossFit Lite is a high energy 45-minute class, similar to boot camp. It's perfect if you're looking for a non-stop, action-packed workout, without the heavy weightlifting. Each class is different and can include activities like running, body weight movements, kettlebells, wall balls, or box jumps. Each class is coached by one of top notch coaches. 

5.      And just for fun, what’s your favorite CrossFit Workout? 

“KELLY”. 

5 Rounds for Time:                                             

400m Run

30 box Jumps (24”)

30 Wall Ball Shots (#20)

Source: www.crossfit19north.com

New Year's Resolutions!

The Top 3 Resolutions & How To Keep 'em

New Year’s Resolutions. Even if they aren’t publicly broadcasted over social media, most of us have them. In fact, a whopping 40% of Americans make a resolution around this time of year (for comparison, only 30% watch the Super Bowl). But, how many of us actually end up staying true to our word? According to Forbes, the answer is only 8% of us. In a society geared toward extremist tendencies with an affinity for instant results, it’s not difficult to see why we have so much trouble sticking to our goals.

Below, I’ve taken up 3 of the most common New Year’s Resolutions with traditional advice on how to keep them, versus what really works. Do you have a resolution? Weigh in below!

1. Lose Weight and Get Fit

Traditional Advice: Enroll in a gym membership or hire a personal trainer and go on a serious diet.

What really works: The New Year should be a time we look forward to and embrace. It shouldn't be something we approach with dread and fear of failure. So, instead of aiming so high (and spending so much money) that you end up psyching yourself out within the first month of the New Year, try a different approach.

Working out with a partner is proven to be one of the best motivators for exercise. If you have a roommate or live with a family member, enlist them to join you for just 30 minutes, 3-4 times a week. Whether that time is spent in the gym with exercise equipment, in your living room with a DVD, or around the block for a jog doesn't really matter. It's just about getting into a healthy and positive routine. Plus, with a partner, you can hold one another accountable and enjoy the perks of social time together. If you don't have anyone to exercise with, just figure out what it is you love to do and do it. Don't worry about what all the fitness magazines tell you. 

As for eating healthfully, let go of the restrictive aspect of dieting and focus, instead, on the fulfilling aspect of being alive. We need nourishment to survive. So focus on what you want to fill yourself with. For instance, instead of telling yourself you're going to stay under 1200 measly calories and avoid carbs like the plague, aim to eat a vegetable at every meal and two servings of fruit a day. You'll be shocked at how much a change in mindset can alter the food choices you make as well.

2. Save Money

Traditional Advice: Don’t spend any! Obliterate any and all unnecessary costs.

What really works: Instead of focusing on not spending money, try focusing on spending it wisely. Carve out the time to sit down, look at your spending habits honestly, identify your triggers and craft a budget. Just like working out, have a friend or significant other get in on the plan with you! Positive reinforcement is huge when it comes to sticking with our goals. When the urge to spend arises, ask yourself if you would rather spend the money on item X (new pair of shoes, a round of $10 drinks) or put the cash aside toward whatever it is you’re saving for (a vacation 6 months from now, the security to leave your job, a new apartment, etc.).

For a few oldies but goodies, check out my posts on how budgeting is just like exercise, and how money CAN buy happiness.

3. Drink Less

Traditional Advice: Don't go out!

What really works: Find your passion! When we find what it is that we love to do, drinking and wasting money on going out takes a natural back-seat to things. For those engaged in the 9-5 grind, few times are as full of ease, inspiration and energy like a glorious, hangover-free Saturday morning is. Whether that free time is spent hiking, painting, going to the local farmer’s market or working on your blog from bed (ahem) is really beside the point. It is simply a matter of granting yourself the time you deserve to enjoy life on your own terms and grow as an individual. The more of this free, easy time that you allow yourself, the more fulfilled you will become. You’ll also weed out the people in your life who add no value while making more room for the ones who do.  So instead of concentrating on not drinking, concentrate on the person you want to become and the life you want to lead. Then, participate in the activities and lifestyle choices that align with your vision. C’mon. You got dis.

 

What are your New Year's Resolutions? Agree or Disagree with above? Feel free to comment below!

Ariel Peche & What to Wear for New Year's Eve

I met Ariel Ginsburg (from arielpeche.com) just over a year ago in downtown Manhattan amongst mutual friends. At the time, I didn't know she was a fashion blogger. Interestingly enough, though, her style was the first thing I noticed about her. And while this story may be borderline creepy since I've never actually told her it, I'm going to run with it anyway. We live on the edge here at Tangent Pursuit. So, Ariel had a black, spaghetti strap tank-top on - not all that wild, I know. She also had her bra straps showing. Again, not all that wild. The thing is: it looked SO well put-together and stylish! I just remember thinking "how does she make what would otherwise appear as a fashion faux-pas look so effortlessly chic!?" 

As someone who often wears sneakers (like, I'm talking Nikes) to work, I don't feel that I have the proper fashion badge to be doling out advice to anybody. As a little girl, cowgirl boots and a ballerina tutu were my go-to, diva outfit for things like school and church. Clearly, I walk to the curve of my own catwalk and it doesn't always pan out so beautifully. But that's why I adore Ariel and her entire blog. See, she has this vibrant way of playing with different looks and making each one exciting and accessible to read, even if you are someone who wears cross-trainers to work. Posts aren't about the latest handbag or the most expensive, high-fashion shoes (though they do appear in spurts), but rather, each post details a unique look and how to wear it in your own way. There are plenty of fashion bloggers out there, but few have the style that Ariel does.     

But alas, I've talked too much again. Let's take a look at my Q&A with Ariel below. Then, check out her Facebook page to get frequent updates and don't forget to visit her blog for the latest post on NYE styles!

You live in Chicago now but have resided in NYC before, right? How has each city influenced your style?

Yes! I have lived in both cities. New York definitely inspired me to dress a bit more eccentric. And of course to wear mostly black. In New York I was always more dressed up as well. Moving to Chicago I definitely began dressing more casually... and more androgynous. I used to love wearing over the top/sexy dresses. Now i prefer distressed jeans and and a t-shirt. 

Favorite NYE and what did you wear?

My favorite New Year's Eve was last year in Miami. I spend it with my family every year. I wore a patchwork Free People bustier and black and white silk flowy pants. They totally clashed and I loved it. 

What do you think the big deal is with New Year's Eve and how does that translate to fashion?

I think New Year's Eve is kind of like a hallmark holiday in terms of how hyped up it is. But at the same time it does have a lot of significance. People love to bid farewell to the current year and ring in the new year with a bang. And that's how I'd say it translates into fashion... you want to wear something exciting and memorable as part of the celebration.

What's your suggested outfit for a New Year's Eve Dinner Party?

For a NYE dinner party I would go with a pair of dark skinny jeans, heels and either a really festive top, or some serious statement jewelry. You'll definitely want to have one accessory that's flashy. 

What's your suggested outfit for a New Year's Eve Dance Party?

For a NYE dance party I would definitely go with a fun short dress. Think sequins, fringe or feathers. NYE is the one time of year when sequins are always acceptable. I'm also really into two piece co-ords right now... a cropped top with a matching tight high- waisted skirt.

Anything else we should know about you?

I have a few new things that I'm currently working on. I'm starting to test the waters with a youtube channel, which is definitely an interesting platform. Teaching myself how to edit videos is also interesting. My new years resolution is to learn how to sew. I'm hoping to combine the Youtube channel and sewing skills into something really cool.


How to Have an NYC Housewarming

I moved into my micro-studio this past June and finally decided to have a housewarming last week. Little late in the game, I know. However, there are a reasons for the delay. As mentioned, my apartment is pretty small. It also did not come with an A.C. Unit and I never installed one. So, considering I moved in the summer, you can understand how an immediate housewarming was out of the picture. More importantly, one of my dearest friends, Taylor, just moved into the apartment above me and her birthday was last Friday.

Ipso Facto, 6-month late housewarming/birthday party/whatever.

“400 square feet of combined space? We can totally do this,” we thought.

 As the event drew nearer, we both questioned our intelligence. Not the first time. Certainly won’t be the last. With so little space, so many other plans, and –EEEK- more costs, we were feeling a little overwhelmed.  Thankfully, it all went over smoothly and affordably.

Here are my recommendations:

1)      Set a Time & Expectations:

Setting a time may sound like an obvious requirement for a party, but most invites (particularly those on Facebook) either don’t have an end time or put one around 4AM. UM, no thank you. We were looking to have a few casual cocktails in our new space, not get evicted. As for the start time, make it an hour earlier than you plan on. We asked people to show up around 8PM and didn't get a single guest until 9, which was yet another reminder of our social ineptitude. When I say "set expectations," it goes hand-in-hand with setting a time. As mentioned, we were not interested in hosting one hundred people and raging until the wee hours of the morning. We made it fairly clear to our guests that we'd be having some cocktails and apps and then heading out! 

2)      Keep it Simple

I love playing host and never want to skimp on my guests. However, it’s also important to keep costs at a reasonable level so you don’t end up stressing out over money. That’s the last thing anyone ever wants to be doing. That being said, Trader Joes is an actual Godsend. It allowed me to prep party appetizers, as well as spiked & spiced cider, in a very affordable manner. And if I’ve learned one thing from cooking over the years, it’s to not overdo it. Save yourself the stress! Not every item you serve needs to have a list of steps and rare ingredients. That equates to more money and stress. I focused on homemade cider and whipped up some gingerbread. As for the rest, I let Trader Joe's take care of it. All food & drink pictured above!

                Cheese Platter - $15 for four cheeses + cracker variety. 

                Swedish Meatballs - $4.99 for 40 mini meatballs

                Spinach Artichoke Dip - $2.99 for two frozen dips

                Gingerbread - $2.99

Spiked Cider: 1 bottle of Sailor Jerry's, 2 64 oz. Spiced Apple Cider, Ground All Spice, Sliced Green Apple, Clementine pieces

2 bottles of red, 2 bottles of white (beer was brought by friends and in Taylor's apartment)

3)      Have an After Party Location

We live in a small 4-story town home, so leaving the apartment at a reasonable time served as a nod of respect to our neighbors.While we were firm on getting out of our apartments by 11, we wanted to make sure we all had the option of continuing the party elsewhere together.  We chose to head down the block to the downstairs lounge at Café Tallulah. Café Tallulah has amazing cocktails (I wrote about them here) which are much easier to *sip* on after having indulged in a few drinks already. They also have live jazz occasionally, which we were lucky to catch.