29 Truths … As I turn 29

Today is my 29th birthday. My last year in my 20s!

It’s interesting. Someone recently asked me if I was dreading entering my 30s next year, and the answer is no! I think it is a privilege to age, and with our little one coming in February, and more babes to come (hopefully), my 30s will be my most challenging and rewarding years yet.

So, as I ring in another trip around the sun, here are 29 truths that I’d like to share:

  1. Make your bed every day — even if it’s right before you get in it.
  2. Set boundaries. Get comfortable saying “no.” If the person you are setting boundaries with does not respect you, tell them.
  3. Your family doesn’t get a free pass for toxic behavior.
  4. That being said, you choose your own family and circle. Sometimes your friends are more loyal to you than your own family. Embrace that. Welcome them in.
  5. If you can’t find something, clean up the clutter.
  6. Be proud of your body. It protects you, nourishes you, and keeps you safe. Love yourself.
  7. Your health comes first. It comes before any job, any person, family or friend. Take care of yourself and put yourself first.
  8. It is more than OK to watch the same movies and TV shows over and over again if it brings you joy.
  9. The book is, in many cases, always better than the movie.
  10. Write down what you are grateful for each day.
  11. Read lots of books. You’ll love it. And start that book blog and bookstagram! You’ll make some lifelong friends there.
  12. Know your worth.
  13. If you recognize that someone needs help, reach out to them. Don’t put it off until the next day.
  14. Travel when you can — even if it’s within your own state.
  15. Success is not measured by material things.
  16. Fight for the things you believe in.
  17. Don’t compare yourself to others.
  18. If you are with loved ones, put the damn phone away and be present.
  19. Try new foods!
  20. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. And, remember, failing isn’t always a negative thing.
  21. Don’t Google things when you are pregnant. Just call your doctor.
  22. Basic human rights is not something you can, or should, “agree to disagree” on.
  23. Eat that slice of cake.
  24. Trust your doctors — not a random man on YouTube or articles you find on Facebook.
  25. Recognize your triumphs. Never be afraid to toot your own horn.
  26. Have those tough conversations. They are uncomfortable, but you will feel free.
  27. Everyone has a story.
  28. Light a few candles when you are down … it really helps!
  29. Never forget your truths.


What are some of your truths? I want to hear them!

Practicing Gratitude

In a previous post, I shared that November is one of my favorite months. Now that autumn has arrived in New England, the leaves are fully peaked and the air is chilled. It’s the perfect weather to get lost in a bundle of blankets and curl up with a good book and a hot mug of tea.

November is also the perfect month to practice gratitude. For those who live in the U.S., Thanksgiving is just around the corner. And for those who went to public school, the notion of “being thankful” was drilled into our heads every November for years. I should ask my mom how many art projects I brought home every year that consisted of my hand looking like a turkey, each finger listing what I was grateful for. She probably still has them!

As an adult, I laugh at the turkey hand memory but appreciate that my teachers attempted to instill a sense of gratitude in us during this important season. I have been a bit “gratitude” obsessed for a few years now (see these blog posts from 2015 and 2016), and for good reason: keeping and cultivating a sense of gratitude is a key component to your happiness. It helps center you in the present moment as you reflect on what brings you joy in life.

Since I started therapy in 2013, I have been keeping regular gratitude journals. Before bed each night, I silently think of three things I am grateful for — whether it is a certain moment that happened in the day, a person, or a general part of my life that sparks gratitude. It helps keep me focused, and works to eliminate the negative thoughts that tend to plague me as I try to fall asleep at night.

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, it felt like there wasn’t a lot to be grateful for. This pandemic has impacted the lives of so many; to think of anything positive during this time made me feel guilty. But, I had to do it. Despite the guilt, I continued to reflect on my own gratitude, listing my three items each night before I closed my eyes. I won’t say that it always kept the nightmares away; it didn’t always chase away the fear and negative thoughts. But it did help ground me in the present; it helped me be thankful for my health and the health of my loved ones.

Over the years, I have also followed Dani on Positively Present. Dani is an incredibly talented digital artist and creator, whose original blog idea turned into a brand focused on positivity and mental health. Her work is truly inspiring and I enjoy seeing her content daily on Instagram. Dani has also released books, calendars, workbooks, and other products that I have on my birthday and Christmas list this year.

Dani has also hosted a #Gratitude30 Challenge for 11 years. Through #Gratitude30, Dani posts 30 prompts and challenges you to write down what you are grateful for each day. A few examples are words, nature, health, friendship, growth, family, and kindness. I have been participating in her challenge for a few years now, and I love sitting down each morning with my special colored pens and reflecting on what brings me gratitude. It’s a wonderful practice and way to get you in the swing of practicing gratitude each day.

No matter how you practice gratitude, remember that there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Even saying “thank you” to someone is a grateful act! Do you have pictures of loved ones at your desk at work or in your home office? That’s a great start, too! Take time throughout the day to reflect on what you are thankful for, and you will start to feel the difference.

How do you practice gratitude? Share some more ideas in the comments below.

Book Review: Anxious People

“They say that a person’s personality is the sum of their experiences. But that isn’t true, at least not entirely, because if our past was all that defined us, we’d never be able to put up with ourselves. We need to be allowed to convince ourselves that we’re more than the mistakes we made yesterday. That we are all of our next choices, too, all of our tomorrows.”

“You don’t have to prove anything to anyone anymore. You’re good enough.”

“But when you get home this evening, when this day is over and the night takes us, allow yourself a deep breath. Because we made it through this day as well.

There’ll be another one along tomorrow.”

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

I wanted to highlight these quotes from Fredrik Backman’s latest book Anxious People because they made me feel the most. Like, the hand-over-your-mouth-with-tears-in-your-eyes feels after a long day of work during a global pandemic and divisive political election. Just … lots of feelings.

It’s been a rough year for all, and when I first heard of Anxious People, I was admittedly … anxious about it. A book about mental health? Would it be too triggering for me? Would I have trouble reading it? Will I like it?

The answer to all of these questions is yes. It was hard to read. Some moments, I needed to put the book down and read something else for a few days. The story, however, was so intricate and powerful that I needed to learn what happened to these likeable, sometimes unbearable characters. I needed to work through that pain and discomfort, for in the end it was worth it. The ending was so beautiful! It was restorative.

I laughed out loud the first 5 pages of this book (something I never do). I cried during this book (something I usually do not do). I just really enjoyed reading it. I heard the audio is fantastic, and consider listening to it down the road as a reread.

Backman has a gift for writing about the intense, raw moments of being a human. (A Man Called Ove? I still get choked up) In this book, like all of the others, of the characters were flawed and are written in such a unique way. He really has a gift. I am grateful I had the chance to read it with a group of insanely sweet bookstagram friends. Have you read this one?

Synopsis (pulled from Goodreads):

This is a poignant comedy about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined.

Viewing an apartment normally doesn’t turn into a life-or-death situation, but this particular open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes everyone in the apartment hostage. As the pressure mounts, the eight strangers slowly begin opening up to one another and reveal long-hidden truths.

As police surround the premises and television channels broadcast the hostage situation live, the tension mounts and even deeper secrets are slowly revealed. Before long, the robber must decide which is the more terrifying prospect: going out to face the police, or staying in the apartment with this group of impossible people. 

How to control the unknown: Journaling during the pandemic

Recently, I rediscovered my love for journaling. I currently have two journals: a bullet journal where I track my bookish creative needs, and another journal where I focus on mental check-ins before bed and other writing.

With the recent pandemic sweeping the globe, I noticed my journaling habits dwindling. I have been glued to my phone, scrolling through Twitter and Facebook to try to make sense of it all. I couldn’t believe what I read, but seeing that everyone was facing the same issues somehow made me feel less alone. The issue with this, of course, is that people don’t always post the most encouraging or factual things on social media, so those notions of connectivity also brought panic, uncertainty, and a lot of anxiety that I could not curb.

I decided to unplug — to only focus on the positive things — and pay more attention to books (more than I already do). I am working to exercise daily, eat healthily, and be mindful of what I can control. I slowly started journaling again, readying myself to write down what I was feeling. I realized that I was avoiding journaling because it was easier to harbor anxiety and fear rather than see it on paper. It’s been a few days now, and I am enjoying the process and act of journaling. It has helped to record my thoughts and activities during this time and work through them rather than avoid them.

I found myself this Sunday morning scribbling in my journal, feeling much like Jo March when she has a moment of inspiration and needs to get it down. I wrote six pages of free prose, mostly detailing what is happening, how I feel, and how my husband and I are coping during these troubling times. I wanted to share some of it with my readers, for I feel like this is how we might all feel. I also want to start sharing more of my writing with others, which takes a lot of courage.

Here are my favorite snippets:

As a homebody, this is certainly a lifestyle that I am used to, but I find myself gripping to my humanity more and more as we encounter outside individuals on our walks or in the grocery stores. As someone who is so introverted, I find myself craving extroversion. Technology is keeping “us” connected through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat…Google Hangout, FaceTime and Zoom and “we” are having virtual Happy Hours and game nights. Families are joining each other for dinner in their respective living rooms. Why haven’t we done this before? Last week, my friends and I got together for a virtual chat. We laughed and caught up. One friend said: “We should have been doing this all the time anyway!” It’s true. Why wouldn’t my friends and I schedule regular time to do this? When we can’t get together physically, why don’t “we” embrace technology and still be together socially?

I hope that we all appreciate the simplicities of greetings: a smile, a handshake, or a “hello, how are you?” as we pass each other on the street. Why did we lose that in the first place? Ian and I went for a walk the other day, and every person looked at us and said “hi,” as if they were also craving that social interaction. Before, we wouldn’t get a glance from half of the people we crossed paths with. Where did humanity go? Does it take us to all be locked in our homes to strive for politeness when someone passes by?

I hope we learn to appreciate each other more — that we continue to take better care of one another and of ourselves. What about our planet? What about appreciating those on the front lines all of the time? Or asking those “what about them?” questions when things go wrong? I hope we don’t lose sight of that — taking care of each other.

After this is over, I hope that we continue to pick up more books, appreciate the small things like getting an iced coffee or an ice cream cone. I hope more people browse bookstores or work to support small businesses. I hope that we call our friends more, FaceTime with our grandparents regularly. I hope that we exercise and crave to go outdoors and take care of it. These things were always options, but now it’s something that we want to do and share.

I hope that we rediscover hobbies during this time- our love of books, favorite movies, playing or creating music. I hope that we are creative – that we paint, write, draw. I hope we are OK if we do none of those things but take time to look within ourselves and know that we are resilient … that we are strong and we can regain control and maintain that control when the world seems to have lost it. I hope we can just “be” and know that if we do anything, it is good enough. Enough with comparing ourselves on social media, thinking that we are not good enough. Enough with the drive for money and the greed to be successful. Can we continue to check in with one another? Can celebrities and musicians continue to share their talents?

I hope we act silly; that we dance. That we come out of this stronger than ever.

I am so excited to see all the creative work that comes from this. I can’t wait to see all the art, read all of the prose, and listen to new music. I hope to create my own work, academic and personal, during this time. I hope to learn how to be OK with my work, breathe slowly and be patient with my craft — to continue being diligent as a writer. I want to be loud; I want to praise others for their talents and help others feel safe and not alone. It’s time to be there for each other.