Silver lining.

I like to think of astrology not as a prophetic mandate on what will be, but as a lens through which to see the things that are.

A peek into starry silver-colored glasses, if you will.

Blouse: Rag & Bone. Pants: Zara. Shoes: Zara (similar here). Sunglasses: Quay.

I’ve always known myself to be a Taurus: headstrong, independent, artistic, materialistic, sensual. I am THE MOST Taurus. Few things speak to me quite like this: “Unlike the Aries love of the game, Taurus loves the rewards of the game. Think physical pleasures and material goods, for those born under this sign revel in delicious excess…the good life in all its guises, whether it’s the arts or art of their own making.”

I learned there was more to the story when a high-vibrating girlfriend read my star chart. It turns out my moon sign, which rules my inner life, is cancer — a water sign, making me intuitive, emotional, and sensitive. My rising sign, or how I appear to others, is Aries, meaning I might come off a little bit aggressive. A little bit intense.

None of this is news to me, but somehow, seeing it all laid out in the stars like that was enormously comforting. It’s not my job to transcend the stars, you know? Taurus sun, Cancer moon, Aries rising: I was born to be this woman. Now, my job is to figure out how to give that woman what she needs.

So I like beautiful things. I like STUFF. I’m driven by rewards moreso than I am, sometimes, by love of the process. That means I can use rewards to motivate myself. It means I can use my artistic nature to share my love of beauty with exuberance.

So I’m emotional. I don’t have to see that as a liability. I can recognize my sensitive nature as something that helps me connect with others. My intuition as something that lets me dream beyond what I can see. 

So I’m intense. I mean yeah, that’s kind of MY THING. I don’t use italics because I prefer the impact of CAPS. CAPS LOCK IS MY BRAND.

These aren’t things I need to judge. They’re things I need to use.

Understanding that is everything.

“I like reading people’s charts, because they always makes so much sense,” my friend said afterward. “It’s like, oh, OK. This is why you are the way you are.”

No judgment. Just a neutral understanding of the good and the rest. Imagine that.

Through that lens, we’re all just silver lining.

No competition.

This weekend will bring the second annual Women’s March. I’ll never pass up a chance to wear pink and carry a punny sign — protesting is symbolic, historic, and FUN. It’s not, of course, a replacement for civic engagement. Real change requires more than putting on a pussy hat.

I’ll admit that I struggle to stay engaged and outraged in an endless stream of repugnant nonsense. I can barely force myself to read the Skimm some days. It is what it is — we all have to find a balance between staying sane and becoming complacent. But I’m realizing that one of the most radical things I can do on a daily basis is to reject competition and empower the women in my life.

Blazer: A New Day (similar here). Turtleneck: Topshop. Pants: Theory (similar here). Boots: ZaraEarrings: J.Crew Factory. Pendant: CAM. Sunglasses: AlwaysUV.

A very smart friend said a very smart thing recently: “I never feel like I’m in competition with anyone, because I’m in competition with everyone.”

As in, I already know there are thousands of people smarter, funnier, hotter, more talented, more WHATEVER than me. This is a known entity that’s almost comforting in its sheer vastness. So why would I then choose to feel threatened by any one person who embodies those qualities, rather than get them on my team and learn everything I can from them?

I’ll tell you why many women operate from a competitive place, and it’s not because they’re biologically wired to be catty. Competition stems from fear of scarcity, a direct result of limited opportunities in a patriarchal system. The zero-sum mentality, while maddening to encounter, is just a sad survival mechanism in a world where it seems to work. And it’s definitely not unique to women — even looking at Trump, I can’t help but pity the fear that leads him to bully anyone different than himself.

Have you ever gotten sucked into comparing your path to someone else’s? Believed the zero-sum lie, if only for a few minutes? I have. It’s a miserable way to live. The world gets infinitely bigger when you decide there’s room for everyone and embrace the concept of Shine Theory — that surrounding yourself with powerful women makes you sparkle more, not less.

So I’m doing my best to radiate strength and support to all the women I meet. To give them a leg up when I can. To tell them when I admire their work, not just when I like their shoes. And also to tell them when I like their shoes, because sometimes that spring in our step means the difference between world domination and crying in the bathroom.

May your protest efforts be filled with punny signs and pussy hats — it’s all part of the fun. But I challenge us all, once the pussy hats are put away, to also commit to the daily work of bringing out the best in those around us.

Don’t run for the train.

“You seem good. Calm.”

“You seem different. Chill.”

“You mellowed out a lot.”

“I can tell how zen you are now.”

“Wow, you’re like…really calm.”

Blouse: Equipment. Pants: Current/Elliott, similar here. Shoes: Chloe. Earrings: Madewell. Choker: Catbird. Lariat necklace: Catbird.

Since returning to NYC two months ago, I’ve heard different strains of the same comment over and over. The change is uncanny and hard to explain: I still drink about five cups of coffee a day, I still think yoga is the fucking worst, and while I did my fair share of legal-in-Oregon substances, it’s not a habit that’s stayed with me since. 

But sure, I’m doing a few things differently. I’ve signed up for tennis and painting classes, joined a women’s networking club, found a therapist and started volunteering. I’ve got a better understanding of what it means to take care of my body, and I’m doing so in sane, sustainable ways. I’m spending less time cooking and more time connecting, creating, and taking baths which honestly are a GAME CHANGER.

Perhaps the most important change is this: I do not run for the train.

Anyone who uses public transportation knows the unique stress of arriving at the stop to find a train already waiting. In that moment, as I see it, I have two choices:

I can jam my MetroCard frantically into the slot, perhaps causing it to snag and scream in protest. (God forbid I get the dreaded “INSUFFICIENT FARE.”) Or maybe it slides right through, at which point I hurl myself against the gate, arms waving and eyes wild in a sprint to the sliding doors. Maybe I still don’t make it. Maybe I do, but the hit of unnecessary cortisol ruins my mood and, in turn, my morning.

All this for a train that will come again in five minutes.

Or I can calmly swipe, walk to the train, probably miss it, and take the next one. I still get where I need to go, and I’m calmer and happier when I get there. Delay, schmelay — clearly I wasn’t meant for that train. I use that time to plan my day, smile at a stranger, and listen to “King of my Heart” for the 146th time.

Do I sound like I’m still packing legal-in-Oregon substances? I maintain that the subway stress is a real thing that will ruin you if you let it. But also, “the train” is not just a train. It’s a job that’s not the right fit or won’t pay what you deserve. It’s a person who’s flaky or negative, or maybe going through something that renders them unable to give you what you need. Or maybe they just don’t like you! That’s OK, too. It’s normal. We are not for everyone, and we don’t need to be.

Don’t run for it. Let it go. There will be another one soon, and you’ll feel calmer and happier when it comes. I’m trying to enact this philosophy on every area of my life, and much like baths, it is a GAME CHANGER.

Also, you try running for anything in these shoes.

Spruced up.

Some people wear their hearts on their sleeves. I wear mine on my back. I carry stress and sadness between my shoulders, which tighten long before my brow so much as registers a crease. Coy as I may try to be with my emotions, I’m forever betrayed by the space (or lack thereof) between my clavicles and my earlobes.

As I move toward new goals, new opportunities, and a new life in my old city, there are things I’m determined to cling to — an air of calm (and the posture that came with it) among them. In an effort to replace the knots in my back with something lovelier, I went in for tat two: a symbol of strength, calm, and clarity, and of the beautiful part of the country where I found them.

Etched in the branches are 18 lessons of 18 months in Portland — things I’d tattoo on my body if I wanted evidence of my long-windedness tattooed on my body (nope). While explaining them all would require some vagueblogging/shade-throwing/unpacking I’m not prepared to do just yet, I think they’re worth sharing on their own.

1. Choose people who choose you.

2. A pimple is just an adorable sign of youth and fertility.

3. If it walks like a bro and talks like a bro…JUST STOP IT ALREADY. Even if it has a manbun. (Especially if it has a manbun.)

4. You’ll always be glad you showed up, even if you only stay for an hour.

5. Use a little more salt than you think.

6. Self-deprecation is a cheap trick to pander to insecurity. The kind of people you want around won’t need you to do it.

7. You’re better off cleaning less hard, more often.

8. It is not your job to decide whether you’re attractive enough for someone else.

9. People who preach about “balance” are usually people who don’t have it. Don’t let someone else’s “balance” make you second-guess your own.

10. Filter for the photo, not the grid. (Surprisingly deep if you think about it.)

11. If you’re worried what others are thinking of you, remember that others aren’t really thinking of you.

12. On the flip side, if you’re fixated on what someone else is doing, consider what you’re not doing that’s making you care.

13. Size up.

14. People are usually doing the best they can, which can help you have empathy when they suck. But if they consistently suck, it’s OK to (nicely) ask for more.

15. You pretty much look the same whether you’re restricting or not. Might as well eat and be happy.

16. On that note, put the damn cream in your coffee. If anything, drink less coffee — don’t use less cream.

17. There is no replacement for good old-fashioned chemistry.

18. Even when things don’t go your way, participating in real life is infinitely better than living in the story in your head.

The other kitchen.

There is no such thing as New York City. Knowing that, we can safely assume that there is also no such thing as Portland, Oregon.

There is, of course, my Portland — a unique microcosm containing a kitchen. Unlike the kitchen I had in New York, though, this one’s walls wouldn’t mark the city limits.

Visually, the Portland kitchen was an upgrade. I loved the black-and-white porcelain, a retro, refreshingly un-hip change from stainless steel. It had significantly more counter space than I’d had in other apartments, which I filled with pretty accents: rose gold fruit bowl, rose gold tea kettle, rose gold paper towel holder. I was so proud to have resisted the slapdash Target run — to have let it build over time like an IRL Pinterest board. To buy myself flowers like a real goddamn adult.

Functionally, there were issues. The oven was perpetually 15 degrees cooler than I needed, until I adjusted it, at which point things would burn within minutes. I never did figure out how to bake a cake that wasn’t gooey in the middle. The refrigerator would spontaneously defrost, leaving me with sour milk and half-frozen baguettes the consistency of sponges. The sink was always full of dishes, because some things never change.

But you know what? I didn’t care all that much. Because in Portland, my kitchen was not my world.

I had a vision of moving out here: a blurry, half-developed snapshot of myself curled up in my aesthetic apartment, wearing an expensive sweater, writing furiously while some elaborate meal (cassoulet?) bubbled against the sound of falling rain.

What I’ve learned in this kitchen — to both my frustration and relief — is that a) that snapshot, while lovely, is not a full or satisfying life, and b) cooking is not a passion of mine. It’s a hobby, for sure, and a skill I’m glad I have. I love being able to bring dessert to a potluck, or spend an evening unwinding at the stove when the mood strikes.

But these days, in my healthy body, that mood strikes with increasing rarity. Even when it does, I have little to add to the conversation surrounding food. And while I love the idea of having a blog themed around pairing stories with recipes, I find that the recipes (or lack thereof) keep the stories from getting out.

I don’t need a recipe to tell you about the day I spent driving the length of the Oregon coast, feeling very small and very free at the same time.

That day was fueled by trail mix, gas station coffee, and chili I’d packed in an old spaghetti sauce jar. (Because I buy spaghetti sauce sometimes.)

I don’t need a charcuterie spread to illustrate the humanizing experience of forcing yourself out for a hike…only to realize that nobody actually feels like hiking, just thought everyone else did, and diverting for a picnic and a heart-to-heart instead.

I don’t need a kale salad to tell you about the bonds that can form over a trip to the farmers market.

I’d rather you didn’t eat on my couch, which beats out the kitchen for my favorite spot in the home. (Wine OK.)

[Sofa: West Elm. Throw: West Elm. Pillow: World Market. Cinema box light: Urban Outfitters. Bar cart: Yamazaki. Copper vase: Williams-Sonoma. Copper mugs: Williams-Sonoma. Some of these are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission if you click and purchase.]

And I don’t need a bacon, egg and cheese bagel to tell you that I’m moving back to New York City.

Because there’s so much I didn’t do while I was stuck in the kitchen. Because I better understand my priorities now. Because I have more energy to give to work and relationships and less desire to go to bed at 9pm. Because in order to feel creative and motivated, I need to do more than wear expensive sweaters around my aesthetic apartment. (Even if it means buying fewer sweaters so I can pay rent on my undoubtedly shittier apartment.)

Because I can’t quite articulate the way, every time I visit, I still feel like my most alive and powerful self there.

So I’m saying goodbye to Portland next week. And I’m saying goodbye to the recipe schtick, though I hope to be writing more often about everything else. I took none of this lightly, and I don’t expect everyone to get it. But I feel, beyond any doubt, that it’s what’s right for me right now.

I’m still figuring how the next phase will look. I know it will be fun. I know it will be hard. Most of all, I know it will be different.

After all, there is no such thing as New York City.

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