Five Years: An Ode to New York

Five years seems like a major milestone for us –

this raucous, seductive city and me.

As one who loves new adventures, endless options, and would prefer to always be on the move, half a decade is a big deal. In my younger days, imagining five years with someone seemed like an eternity. I assumed I would get bored, restless and need a new object for my affections. But it seems that New York and I have found ourselves officially in a long-term relationship.

Like most of my romances, I dove headlong into my love affair with New York. I was enticed by her flashing lights, rich cultural experiences, and most importantly, the promise of fulfilling career dreams. I came for the love of a good man, and for the dream of living in an incredible place that held endless opportunities.

We have been through a lot these last five years. At first I tried to prove my love and devotion to her with first with doe-eyed enthusiasm and grand gestures. At times it seemed she was ignoring me, taunting me, and demanding that I try harder.

I was sure that I had to put on my best face to impress her – to be different, be more. Desperate to prove myself and earn my keep, I shape-shifted and squeezed myself into the mold of whatever I thought she was asking me to be. Sometimes I sent her desperate pleas, and other days entirely giving up and acting as if I did not care.

New York and I have shared both milestone moments and the bitterest of fights. She has pointed out my weakness and flaws. She reminds me that I have failed. But she has also invited me to try again, and to evolve. New York is not content to let me be the same person who came here five years ago. Somehow she knows I will be a better person for it.

Even now I find myself walking through her streets, listening to her sweet songs, and out of nowhere I am overcome with a rush of love and gratitude to still be here. I know her shortcuts, the parts that are tried-and-true, the spaces that speak to my soul. Every day, week, month, and year is an invitation to come and explore, go deeper. I want to consume every part of her, and yet I know it is impossible – there will always be more to discover.

While I remain infatuated with New York, I find things are more balanced now – there is a place for me here, but I know I may never mean to her what she means to me. I can let her be the beautiful, wild thing she is and be thankful for the small parts she allows me to play in her grand history.

When I look back on my time spent here in the years to come, I know now that I will think of her fondly, despite our differences. After five years I can finally love New York for who she is, and all the incredible things she has to offer without making her presence the pinnacle of my existence. To know her is to love her, and I do.

Have you ever struggled to find your place in your city? What has made a place feel like home?

Embracing the Meantime: Making the Most of It

Enjoying a book and leisurely afternoon in the afternoon light of Central Park
Enjoying a book and leisurely afternoon in Central Park

For much of the last year and a half, I have lingered in a strange space of utter heartbreak and stubborn joy.

The job descriptions I have wanted more than any other in life have been to be a wife and a mother, but things have not gone according to my carefully laid plans. With that, I have had to reconsider everything I assumed for how I would live my life in my late twenties into my thirties. Piece by piece, I have been slowly letting go and burying the things I held onto so tightly.

Grief is a cycle – it comes in seasons and waves and is not always predictable. In order to not let my disappointment consume me, I have had to actively choose to sit down each day and list the blessings in my life. What is present in my life today that makes me smile? What do I get to do that I could not (or not as easily) if I woke up today as a mom?

Taking the time to spend with my friends who are moms and their precious children, listening to their joys and challenges helps me to shift my perspective. I have a dear friend (a Mama herself) who encouraged me to embrace my current, non-pregnant, pre-children season of life with as much gusto as possible. Not pregnant this month? Feel free to walk on the wild side. Not pregnant? Have a glass of red wine. Not pregnant? Sleep in. Not pregnant? Write and pursue your dreams now as much as you can.

I know these days, though they seem long, may be gone before I know it. We will have a family somehow, someday. I do not want to waste my current days longing for the ones filled with children. For I know that when I have them, sometimes I will find myself wistfully thinking about the freedom I had before they ever arrived.

Do you know what surprises me? This gratitude practice actually works. It makes more space in my heart to hold other things beside sadness. So I savor my slow, quiet mornings. I drink a cup of coffee. I sit in the park and I read books that spark my mind and soul. I do my best to not just be alive, but be intentionally present in my days. I say thank you for daily blessings and mean it.

I feel hopeful, even though my timelines are erased and five-year plans ripped to shreds. There is a new kind of freedom in having a blank slate to write the next chapter of my life without the pressure of following my self-imposed rules. I do not have the slightest clue about what the future holds, but I am giving myself permission to dream again and move forward anticipating whatever lies ahead.

Are you savoring this stage of life or are you just biding time until reaching the next? What little things are you able to be grateful for? What is present in this season that may never be again?

KonMari: A Simple Way to Organize with Shoeboxes

Organizing my home is not often my strong suit.

I can organize thoughts and information like a boss, but I’d rather spend my energy writing or spending time with my husband and friends than reconfiguring my small space. Like most creatives, I work most efficiently under deadline, so that means my home is at its cleanest when the pressure is on: my weekly Dinner Group is coming over or company is coming to stay.

After a recent social media onslaught of praise for the book, I started reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. At first, I was skeptical. I have read plenty of articles about how to pare down my wardrobe and create systems to clean my apartment. But even though I have consumed a ton of information on the subject, I just have not found a way to consistently keep my apartment clean for more than a few days. I have tried to embrace the idea that creative life is just messy. But then I find myself procrastinating the thing I want to do most (write) in favor of putting my space back in order.

The KonMari method developed by Kondo operates under the assumption that you have to start with eliminating excess first. While this is common sense, it can be a significant challenge for more sentimental people (like me) to do. What counts as excess? Kondo tells us to make our decision by trusting our gut. Pick up each object and ask the question, “Does this spark joy?” If the answer is no, it is to be discarded or donated. Kondo has a specific order in which you should walk through the process: least sentimental (clothes) to most sentimental (notes and photographs). For a more detailed explanation, watch this video.

As a creative who can be often scatterbrained, I LOVE that Kondo provides a specific step-by-step process to follow in order to tidy your entire home. However, I also recognize as an ENFP personality type, I can usually be most effective and focused when following a wave of inspiration. So I am embracing my quirks and starting the process the wrong way… with shoeboxes.

Recently I read this tip: “Shoeboxes have infinite uses. I commonly use them to store socks and stockings in drawers. Shoebox height is perfect for standing up rolled stockings. In the washroom, they can be used to store bottles of shampoo, conditioner, etc., and they’re also perfect for holding detergents and other household cleaning items. In the kitchen, they can be used to stock foodstuffs as well as garbage bags, cloths, and so on.”

I knew for sure I had at least two empty shoeboxes in my closet as well as a few ideal-sized Amazon prime boxes and I promptly went to find them. In a short period of time, I had cleared out the jumble of stuff from underneath my bathroom and kitchen sinks, deep-cleaned each space, used up cleaning products on their last legs and categorized the products in each box by type and frequency of use:

Kitchen Sink cabinet contents – Top left: detergent stock and rarely used cleaning supplies. Top right: regular cleaning supplies. Bottom left: Sponges, dishwasher detergent. Bottom right: Trash bags and floor cleaning wipes.
Kitchen sink cabinet organized. Back left: rarely used cleaning supplies. Right side: Frequent and every day cleaning supplies. Middle: Dishwasher detergent and sponges. Not pictured: Trash can that sits in the left front, daily dish detergent in the front right.
Bathroom sink cabinet contents – Top left: occasional use and personal care. Top right: rarely used jewelry and leather cleaner. Middle: Febreze. Bottom left: Frequently used personal care items. Bottom Left: Frequently used cleaning supplies and handsoap.
Bathroom sink cabinet organized – Back left: occasional use and personal care. Back right: rarely used jewelry and leather cleaner. Middle: Febreze. Front left: Frequently used personal care items. Front right: Frequently used cleaning supplies and handsoap.

As silly and simple as it seems, over the past month this shoebox trick has already been a huge time-saver when looking for a specific item because I can simply pull each box out without knocking things over. I am also delighted all over again when I open my cabinet door and I see everything perfectly organized. Now I just have to start ruthlessly tackling my closet – eek!

What tips and tricks do you have for getting and staying organized?