Never Be Ashamed for Needing a Moment to Yourself

*five months later* whoops.

That’s really the only statement that I can come up with regarding my blog taking a little hiatus. I’ve thought about opening my laptop over the past few months, but never seemed motivated or inspired to write. I really don’t even know where the time went. I guess I’ve been waiting for something to spark my rediscovery in writing. Apparently, this weekend was it.

This weekend I decided to take a step back from personal and professional responsibilities and just do my own thing. Mind you, it’s been a gloomy two days, so that “own thing” has been Netflix, reading, cleaning and working out.

And let me tell you – I feel fabulous.

For those who don’t know, May is Mental Health Month – and to be honest, I’m surprised that alone wasn’t reason enough for me to break out the blog on May 1. Just because I didn’t write about it, though, doesn’t mean it hasn’t been on my mind.

I technically spent this weekend doing nothing, which may be considered “lazy” to some. But to me, it was a chance to refresh my body and mind — free of a single responsibility, aside from cleaning and laundry because #adulting.

In a life where we cannot let our responsibilities fall to the wayside (#adulting again), I feel like it’s extra important to take advantage of these quiet days when we can. Supporting your mental health does not necessarily mean you have a mental illness, or that you have anything to be ashamed of if you do have a mental illness. Sometimes you just need to check yourself and your priorities to be sure that you aren’t on a path toward burnout, and that you’re able to experience life fully. This is not to say your life should be without stress, fears, or busy schedules; however, you should be able to experience life in a way that is not hindered by negative thoughts or activities that are not your priorities.

My mental health is a priority. My physical health is a priority. Do I always take care of these? No, not necessarily. Wine, cheese and sleepless nights do sometimes occur.

This is why I’m so lucky to have family and friends in my life who understand when I say I just need to take a day or two with no plans. They know that means I need to recharge, even if I didn’t technically have an “exhausting” week. For example, I may not have been overwhelmed with life this past week, but this weekend was more of a proactive mental health weekend.

I am self-aware now to know that when I travel often and make lots of plans, I tend to become overwhelmed. I know this is not the case for everyone. Some people thrive off of being constantly social or always on the go, and that is wonderful; however, I have busied myself up enough in the past to know that I need to take breaks.

Not breaks from life, though.

This is something I’ve really had to alter my perspective on and find a balance with over the past couple years. I used to just “need a break from life,” when in reality that’s not true. I feel like this was and still is such a negative way to look at mental health or personal days. As if there’s a negative connotation, but there’s not. When I have these days now — I’m aware that I have plenty of responsibilities and people around me. I’m not trying to ignore those; rather, I’m just making sure I’m refreshed enough to truly make the most of when I return to those responsibilities (in this case, Monday).

It’s not taking a break from life – it’s taking a moment to yourself to breathe so that you can continue to appreciate life moving forward.

– Rachel

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The Skyline I Know

As my family was passing over the Whitestone Bridge last week, I noticed how beautiful the New York City skyline was. I have seen the skyline quite a bit in my lifetime, yet every time I see the city, I can’t help but be amazed by it.

Whenever New York City is depicted on TV or in a movie, my mom always refers to it as “her city.” After all, she spent her whole life there before getting married and moving Upstate with my dad. Anytime the skyline was featured on screen we’d hear “oh there’s my city!”

And this is the sentiment of every New Yorker. After spending a couple months there this summer, I get it. It’s the sentiment of anyone when they see an image of their home–whether a giant metropolis or small farm town.

It is pride. And New York pride is like no other.

The skyline of my “mom’s city” was a skyline defined by the Twin Towers.


As we were crossing over that Whitestone Bridge, I realized that the skyline I have come to know, however, is with One World Trade Center. The skyline that I may one day refer to as “my city” is not the same one that my mom thinks of when she closes her eyes to remember her home.


And this got me thinking, remembering, reflecting.

With this time passing forward, we cannot forget – and I say this as someone who was just a child in 2001.

With a world that has become the world it is today – one that has seen horrific terror attacks, mass shootings, natural disasters – it’s hard to remember a time when tragedy was not on loop in the 24/7 news cycle, when tragedy wasn’t the norm. As a child in the early 2000’s, this is the norm to us.

But we have to remember September 11, 2001 – really remember what it means.

Every time I look to see the skyline and see One World, I’m reminded that the city my mom called home was devastated sixteen years ago.

More importantly, I’m reminded of the city’s strength sixteen years ago when faced with this devastation. This entire country was defined by its strength sixteen years ago – by every hero whose life was put on the line that day, and on the days and years following.

And for that I am so proud and grateful to live here.

I love the 2017 skyline because that is the city I know, but the history of New York City is not lost on the beauty of how it stands today.

The skyline I know is one that was rebuilt without fear. It is one that I can look at and know just how resilient New York is.

Sixteen years ago, our country was attacked. And sixteen years ago our country proved how strong and beautiful it is – and still is today.

– Rachel

One Month Anniversary: Funemployment

Today marks exactly one month since coming home from my summer internship in New York. This means it’s been one month of uncertainty. One month of waking up in my childhood bed. One month of seeing hometown friends. One month of spending everyday with my mom and siblings. And of course it’s been one month of sending in job applications–even though I told myself I was going to take a little break from that. As you can imagine, that break from the job search never did quite happen.

This was definitely a result of that feeling of uncertainty I mentioned. I am positive that I am not alone when I say how uncomfortable uncertainty makes me. Not just with careers, but with anything in life. All summer while I was earning a wonderful experience in public relations, I kept reminding myself that I would try and relax when I got home. I needed a break. I needed time to breathe after the past year–the past few years.

Yet when I arrived home, Monday morning rolled around and I couldn’t help but open up my LinkedIn profile and “just peek” at what opportunities are out there. By the end of that Monday, I had already sent in multiple job applications.

Everyday since being home I have found myself scrolling endlessly through job boards, LinkedIn and Indeed. I’ve had plenty of Netflix binges in between these applications; however, for some reason I couldn’t even take just two weeks off after ending my internship.

I constantly go back and forth on my anxieties about the future–one moment I’m anxious that I won’t find a job soon enough, and then on the other hand I’m anxious that I am not enjoying this time off as much as I had planned to.

And why?

Because I’m so uncertain about my future.

I’ve unfairly blamed this on the fact that everyone wants to ask me what my next steps are. Answering this question makes me so nervous. I don’t have any next steps. Sure I’m sending out applications and preparing for interviews, but this is the first time in years I don’t exactly know what I’ll be doing even a month from now. I don’t have a fall semester to begin or an internship lined up.

I’m so eager to enter my career, and because of this I’ve forgotten that there is nothing wrong with taking a month or two off. After all, this is it. My next role starts the “once you work you never stop” stage of my life.

I don’t know if I’ve appreciated this month as much as I should have because I didn’t feel comfortable with uncertainty–not when everyone around me seems to know what their next steps are.

I wish I could be more comfortable with living day to day, and not worrying about finding the perfect job. My life has been career-focused for so long, that I honestly couldn’t shut that part of my brain off, even for a couple weeks.

I think this is okay though. I have loved every second of being home with my mom back in my hometown. And I have relaxed as much as my busy brain has allowed me.

I’m not sure how much time I have left at home before I make the move to my next job, so I’m going to try to take advantage of that. Even if it’s just a couple weeks. It’s okay to breathe. It’s okay to be uncertain about what’s next because I don’t necessarily have to follow the same path as the person beside me.

I’m going to continue being proactive about my career because I want to be able to carve out a life that I am happy with; however, I’m also going to make sure I take time out of each day to focus on the present.

Specifically, these days of waking up on cool summer mornings and having coffee in my childhood home.

-Rachel

 

 

 

Communicating Happiness: Whoops, I Guess I Forgot Again

Remember that cute idea I had back in April where I wanted to document positive moments through a 100 Happy Days series? Shockingly, I was not as diligent about this as I hoped, but here we are at the conclusion of the series! I wouldn’t necessarily say that life got in the way or I became too busy; but rather, I just forgot to tell you the happy things that occurred.

I think I actually forgot to tell myself the happy things that occurred.

For the past seven weeks I have been living with my grandma on Long Island while commuting to my internship in Manhattan.

The internship has not been easy.

Living with my grandma, however, has been a gift.

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For anyone who has made the comment to themselves about how they need to go visit their grandparents, give them a call, or send them a letter–I highly suggest doing so. And doing so now.

I have always been close to my family, but this summer I am able to have daily conversations with my grandma–rather than seeing her just a couple times a year.

She’ll share stories or make comments about her life as a child, as a mother, and then there are my favorite stories: the one’s about her and my grandpa.

My grandpa passed away the same year I was born, so I never had the opportunity to know him beyond the stories.

This evening, my grandma brought up how today was a near-perfect day. And that it was nice to enjoy it with someone (hi, that someone was me).

She recalled how we leisurely woke up on the Saturday morning. We went to the beach on a beautiful day–my favorite beach day of the summer. We went out for a nice meal, a glass of wine and good conversation. And of course we ended our evening at Carvel because Grandma could never go to bed without ice cream. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from her, it is that you never, ever go to sleep without dessert.

On our way home, she told a story about a day she remembers with my grandpa. It was her idea of a perfect day.

She said they began the day playing a round of golf, and then went to their beach on the south shore of Long Island for a couple hours spent in the ocean. Finally, their day ended at a small restaurant on the water, nothing fancy at all.

This story reminded me of all the days I forget about. The ones that go so seemingly perfect, yet are not the ones I dwell on.

It’s the traumatic days that we can recall minute for minute, but we rarely recall the days we spent smiling.

Those are the ones I want held tight within my memory.

Not the days where I was on edge, upset, stressed, exhausted or sad.

The days full of bliss.

The days like today.

-Rachel

Communicating Happiness: So Sorry for the Delayed Response!

~sorry I’m late, but…~

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I write when I’m happy. I write when I’m sad, and also when I’m stressed. The point is that I write when I feel. This is why it is a little disheartening that it’s been almost a month since my last post–especially for someone who thrives on communicating. It’s not upsetting because I feel the need to document every part of my life via the internet–even though my social accounts may lead you to believe otherwise. However, it is disheartening because I think I may have forgotten how writing is a form of healing.

I feel better when I write.

For my loyal readers (hey mom), you know that I left off my posts with a happiness challenge–one that I had planned to document on a weekly basis. Well, those friends who know me, are well aware that the likelihood I’d actually follow a structured series calendar was slim.

Alas, I’m here to resume the challenge–on day 67 to be exact–because I’ve realized the challenge holds me accountable to look for the positives as I encounter the ups and downs of life.

The past few weeks have left little time to rest–hence the blogging delay.

With a college graduation behind me, I headed for a short vacation to Florida then flew back to New York with less than 24 hours to spare before beginning my first post-grad chapter–an internship in the city.

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As an elementary school student, I wanted to live in New York City. For some reason, I just couldn’t wait to experience life beyond the small town I grew up in. This is obviously what led to my first college decision of attending BU and gaining a bit of the city life in Boston. I fell in love with that city, and although I returned to a smaller school environment at Ithaca–I never lost that feeling of wanting to explore and give a new city a shot, even if I do love my small hometown.

So I thought to myself, hey let’s try for the big one–the big internship in the big company in the big apple (sorry, couldn’t help myself).

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Which is where I am now.

Part of me wanted to hate working in New York because well, you know my track record with making decisions. If I love multiple places, how am I going to ever figure out where I’m going to live?

As you can guess, I currently adore working in New York. Although I could handle an easier commute than my grandma’s home on Long Island–I love the summer I am living so far. I love the anonymity of walking down the streets. I love that I have to learn my way around and make plenty of wrong turns. I love that everyone is so different. I love the city culture–the one that brings together so many different cultures. And of course, I love the knowledge I am receiving at my internship. I’m learning the craft of PR from the best in the business and trying absorb as much as I can with the short six weeks I have remaining.

My first couple weeks in this new little chapter have been exciting, terrifying, humbling, and fun. I’m able to meet new people, see college friends, spend time with family, and of course enjoy dinner with my grandma every single weeknight. Even though it’s not ideal to spend time away from my immediate family, I know that I’m throwing myself into this summer, and trying not to hold back from opportunities because of any apprehension.

New York City may be my next home. Boston may be my next home. Rochester may continue to be my home. Who knows what the fall season will bring; however, for now I’m going to push myself to learn exactly where I will want to live next. I’m going to say yes to things I’m worried I may fail at, agree to go out on adventures with friends when I know the “safe” choice would be to stay home, and most importantly, I’m not going to let any mistakes or insecurities hinder the chance at fulfilling my dreams and goals–both professionally and personally.

That little girl had dreams to be working in New York City. And here I am today. My dreams are going to continue evolving, so all I have to do is follow them–whatever city they may take me to next.

-Rachel

P.S. shout out to Deanna for reminding me I couldn’t let today pass without getting back into blogging.

Communicating Happiness: A Work in Progress

They can’t all be ideal weeks, but that’s not to say I can’t find the positives in Week Four of the Happiness Challenge. First and foremost, I was reminded of my support system. I strongly believe that for any chance of happiness, you need your support system close, and you need to be honest with those who are in that circle. This does not mean you have to share every detail of what’s going on in your head and in your life with every single one of your friends; however, I have found that when I share what I’m able to, the true friends show up and do not leave.

Those in my support system have reminded me that as I make my way through life, I am a work in progress. As someone who tends to be pretty critical of herself, it’s important to have people who bring me back to the reality of how mistakes are meant to learn from–not to dwell on.

This is exactly what I needed to be reminded of during the past week of my Happiness Challenge. It’s not always going to be easy. Just because I continue to try and focus on all the positive aspects of my life, it doesn’t mean there aren’t moments, days, even weeks that are too hard to handle alone. Hence, the support system–the people that keep me happy when I’m not too good at it by myself.

I’m lucky I found my people. I’m lucky I have the family that I do. I wish nothing more than for every person who needs happiness reminders to have the same support.

This week’s Happiness Challenge post is basically a big thank you. It’s a thank you to anyone who has witnessed my not-so-happy moments, but stick with me through them until the happy moments come back around.

Thanks Fam.

-Rachel

 

 

 

Communicating Happiness: The Moments I Won’t Get Back

It’s week two and my hope to post a blog each week on the same day has already failed. Not without some effort though! Last night, I opened up my laptop to write, and couldn’t find any words. Apparently after a packed day, I just wasn’t too inspired. Instead of throwing something together just to keep to my “schedule,” I decided I might have better luck waking up and writing alongside a nice cup of (iced) coffee.

Which is where I am at right now. Two weeks into my Happiness Challenge, two weeks into my social media cleanse, and two weeks left of undergrad. It’s quite an eventful time! Over the past week, again no life-changing lessons or moments occurred. However, I had a pretty solid week. Mainly because I was back at home with my family–my entire family! For the first time in four months I saw my sister who was visiting for the weekend from Boston. It was a weekend filled with birthday celebrations, wedding planning, and of course good food and good wine.

With this in mind, I’d consider it a pretty happy week–give or take some super busy days at school. The next couple weeks though? These are going to be good. My school work looks to be pretty manageable, and I’m down to my final weeks in Ithaca. My goal is to hit every hiking trail I can while I still have the chance, and spend as much time as I can with my friends before we head off to our new cities.

It’s hard when everyone likes to ask what we are doing after graduation, when really all I want to do is savor the moments I have while still a student. I don’t want to focus on my internship (which is coming up super fast), but rather on the day-to-day moments that I won’t ever get back.

These are the moments I pass my friends on campus and it’s a nice surprise to my day. They are the moments I finish a stressful project and feel accomplished with the hours spent in front of my computer. The moments I’m laughing too hard around a kitchen table with my best friends. The 70 degree days where I can really appreciate how beautiful this campus is. The moments I remember that I’m graduating from a wonderful college and have earned an education that many people may not even have access to. These are the moments I remember I’m only a college senior, and I have every opportunity still in front of me.

I’m not worried quite yet about my summer internship because I know it’s going to be a huge learning experience, one where I’m going to have to work hard and learn as I go. For now, I’m going to try not to worry. I’m going to have fun. A lot of fun. Because I graduate in 24 days. And I’m not going to get these days back.

-Rachel