Never Stop Exploring — Locally!

This post is sponsored by Zappos.

It’s no secret around here that I’ve been feeling stuck in quite a few ways. When I’m feeling this way, literally changing my scenery is one of my favorite ways to change my perspective. Some kind of trip that involves getting on a plane is my preference, but that’s not always in the cards time-wise or financially. (BRB, crappy day, getting on a plane…no?)  The next best? Finding somewhere local that feels like it’s worlds away and going on little day trips.

Coney Island Wonder Wheel

On one of the first nice days in NYC last week, that meant getting to the BEACH. But not just any beach — Coney Island, where we could act like kids for an afternoon and escape the long, gray NYC winter for a sunny day in a veritable outdoor funhouse.

With no real agenda in mind, we hopped on the F train, smiling contentedly as the sun touched our faces when the subway car emerged from the dark tunnel into the light.

Once in Coney Island, we treated it as our playground, going from the boardwalk to the Wonder Wheel to a little adventure to the circus sideshow, because why not? (Sadly no pictures, but my BFF Meg got to pull a sword from the swordswallower’s mouth, NBD. All photos also by Meg, who is multitalented, obviously)

Coney Island

It’s fitting that I worked with The North Face on this post, because their hashtag is #NeverStopExploring. Again, most people equate that with crazy, far-flung adventures (which, don’t get me wrong, I love, too! see: South America), but I’d bet no matter where you live, there’s somewhere you haven’t been yet or somewhere that just feels like you’re on vacation even if you’re close to home.

Find that place nearby that makes your heart race a bit, that makes you feel alive. It could even be as close to home as a street you’ve never driven down or a block you’ve never walked. Find that place, and get yourself there, stat! (If you’re anything like me, somewhere near water is always a good place to start.)

Coney Island Parachute Drop

 

The North Face x Zappos outfitted me for this adventure. I don’t know about you, but The North Face is a brand I’ve been wearing since I was a teenager, starting with the big black fleece that I didn’t take off for most of high school…

But, um, high school was a long time ago for me, and so the brand has changed and evolved since then to not just be for the outdoorsy type (though I did wear my North Face shell hiking Machu Picchu!). The Lucy brand is now a part of The North Face, and so now The North Face has even more clothes for everyday adventures.

Zappos x North Face

Speaking of Zappos, can we just talk about how amazing their shipping is? I was given a gift card to purchase the clothes in this post, and it only took about 36 hours from hitting order to having these clothes in my hands. Basically, I thought about ordering, and the clothes were there. I’m obsessed with ordering from them last-minute before vacation for this reason alone.

The pieces I’m wearing are from their training line:

The North Face Perfect Core High-Rise Tights
No matter what size I am, I always have some level of belly pooch, so I am all about any form of high-rise pant that can suck me in a bit. These have “extra core support” (in the form of a nice little spandexy reinforcement) that actually stays and doesn’t roll down.

The North Face Graphic Short Sleeve Tee
True story, this top is LONG, but paired with the high-rise pants, it works. It’s also incredibly soft and breathable.

The North Face Stow-N-Go Bra
Where can I start on how much I love this bra? IT HAS A POCKET (in the front, which to be honest, is a bit weird…), and it comes sized by cup (this one is C/D). As an FYI, I went for a large. I generally am a medium-ish in most other things, but I’ve finally learned my lesson that 36D = large in sports bras.

The North Face Mountain Sneaker
So…I took these “mountain” sneakers to the boardwalk, not the mountain, but they’d be amazing for hiking. Super cushy, they’re also lightweight and easy to get on and off.

What are your favorite day trips when you want to explore locally?

These Are a Few of My Favorite (Creative) Things

Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash

It’s been a long time since I’ve done any kind of Things I’m Loving post, because, quite honestly, there wasn’t much I was loving. But as my gray clouds seem to be clearing, even if only temporarily, Unsurprisingly for this introspective period of my life (and hanging on to my post-Write Doe Bay high), many of these favorites are related to reading, writing and the creative life.

Denik Octopus Journal

Denik Notebooks

When we got to Write Doe Bay, they opened up a big cardboard box and dumped maybe 40 beautiful journals on a coffee table, and told us each to go pick one. You know it’s a room full of writers when we were each as excited as if someone had told us we won the lottery. The company has an awesome mission — a portion of the sale of each product goes to fund education projects worldwide, and each cover is designed by an artist. I chose the octopus notebook above, which was designed by this artist.

Pilot G2 Pens

This is the dorkiest thing in the world, but I knew I was among my people when I saw a massive basket of G2 pens on the coffee table for us to use. (I also can’t help but think of this song when I hear or say G2.)

Deer Hazel Jewelry

I swear this isn’t going to be a total Write Doe Bay lovefest, BUT Kerry, one of the organizers, also has a jewelry business, and she had her jewelry out on a table all weekend. I’ve been really into crystals since last summer (and amethyst is my birthstone) …so these amethyst necklaces were beckoning me all weekend. I finally forked over my cash to Kerry, who also so graciously captured on video Lara and I dominating the lip syncing battle…

Tiny Beautiful Things

I recognize I’m super late to this party, but after a few recommendations, I’m reading Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. Based on her advice column, Dear Sugar, this book cuts to the core of the human condition — love, loss, happiness, sadness — and breaks down even the most complicated problems into simple advice. She often reminds the letter-writer that they answered their own question in the asking, but they weren’t ready to claim it, reminding me of one of my favorite mantras lately: everything you need is within you.

Am I There Yet?

Do you follow Mari Andrew on Instagram? You should, because all of her beautiful illustrations are so damn spot-on if you’re in your 20s or 30s. I’m not even going to paraphrase, I’m just going to quote her website:

“I wrote AM I THERE YET? toward the end of my 20s to share what I learned through heartbreak, love, loss, rejection, career confusion, adventures, and the gnawing question in the back of my mind: Where exactly am I going, or am I already there? I wrote and illustrated a book I wish I’d had in my 20s—to know that I wasn’t alone.”

Her book is a compilation of many of these beautiful illustrations and more.

Operationalizing Creativity

My friend Kat wrote an excellent essay about operationalizing her creative process so that things actually get done. I’ll admit, transitioning to working for myself (while also dealing with some pretty severe depression), I’ve had a really hard time with this and taking myself seriously. But if I don’t, how will anyone else? (Sorry, shit just got deep.)

Edibles

Yup, just gonna sneak this one in here. They’re legal in Washington State, so I tried one, and, yup. I hadn’t touched the stuff since college, but man, do I understand now how it’s prescribed for anxiety.

Creative To-Do Lists

I LOVE the advice Felicia gives here about how she breaks down her tasks both weekly and daily and between pay the bills/self improvement/rest of her life. Since the writing and strategy part of what I do is so much based on pitching, or, in some cases, creating content for submission, it’s sometimes hard to remember that some of my creative work might not pay the bills immediately (or some of it, ever, honestly), but that it’s an investment and part of my professional work all the same.

What It’s Like to Know You’ll Be on Anti-Depressants for Life

The NYT originally wrote an article with the headline “Many People Taking Antidepressants Discover They Cannot Quit,” and it’s spurred a ton of reaction articles. I’ve been on antidepressants for about 2.5 years now (and some other psychiatric meds as of late, too), and I credit them with helping to keep me alive over the past few months, truly, not hyperbolically. I would love to not be on them forever, but I would also love to be able to not have long periods when I’m too depressed to get out of bed and can’t imagine going on, so if that’s what it takes, then that’s what it takes.

I could go on about this for a long time, but my two most salient opinions: 1. We don’t talk about medicines for other health issues this way. Would we talk about medicines for heart disease this way? At the end of the day, the brain is also a part of the body — why don’t we treat it as such? 2. I personally believe (and also studies have shown) that meds in isolation are not the answer — they are a tool to go along with therapy. When I’ve had med changes that have worked, they’ve always helped me make breakthroughs in the things I’ve been talking about in therapy that had been hard to internalize despite intellectually understanding they’re true.

Unplugging

Do it. We had nearly no reception last weekend on Orcas Island, and it was beautiful. I have friends who turn their phones off for an entire weekend or longer. While, honestly, I’m not sure if I could do that, even carving out small periods of time without it next to me (like right now!) are helpful to controlling my own time. I’ve been trying to keep my email, Facebook and phone off when I’m trying to be productive so I can actually focus, and it’s been amazing for some peace of mind, which can otherwise be fleeting (see above.)

rothy's cherry stripe

Rothy’s

I gotta say, as much as I loved Tieks for years, I started to get unhappy with how they wore out…and then I started hearing lots of buzz about Rothy’s. I wasn’t sure I was ready to shell out $100+ on an unknown brand to my delicate feet (I get blisters way too easily from new shoes), but I got a coupon code at a Junior League event they sponsored, and decided to give them a try. Full disclosure, they did rub my feet a bit but not too bad, and I love them now.