1. The Best/Worst Summer Ever
Forget the pandemic, police brutality, school shutdowns, and the wild fires raging in the west for just a second. This summer was weirdly wonderful (for me) and one of the best summer’s to date. Why? Well for one thing I have a lot of privilege working in my favor. I’m not blind to it, in fact I’m hyper aware. The fact that I was able to “thrive” during a time so many were just trying to survive says a lot about the systems we have in place and who they benefit. This year has been full of duality — feeling both fulfilled and guilty, energized and drained, hopeful and completely discouraged. Sitting with that duality and being ok with it are two different things. Still working on that. But this summer, in my little bubble, on my ship even amidst all of the storms was kinda wonderful.
To start it was the first summer in about 6 years that I wasn’t working a second or third job or completing graduate classes for my Master’s Degree. Hallelujah and hello FREE TIME. Such a strange but welcomed concept in my world. Secondly, the quarantine afforded me the gift of a new groove. While in quarantine and teleworking I found a new routine for myself that I really loved. I FINALLY learned to workout from home (something I’ve been struggling with since I was of working-out age) and I really tapped into what made ME happy on a day to day basis. Simple stuff like going for a long walk with my pup somewhere beautiful and visually grammable while listening to a new podcast or cheesy romance novel. Or re-watching The West Wing by myself because it felt like a familiar hug.
We kicked off summer with a trip to the Outer Banks. A week at the beach with friends who are more like family was just what the doctor ordered. As most people with summer vacations, we debated on even going but eventually decided that we would all make the conscious decision to essentially quarantine together for the week and then quarantine / get tested when we arrived home. *Traveling in the time of Covid* Every couple took a night to cook amazing meals, we shared parental duties with the kiddos, sipped frozen cocktails, and watched our pups frolic in the waves at sunset. It was our second annual trip with this crew and I can wholeheartedly say I am already looking forward to next year!
This summer we also discovered the joy of kayaking. Friends nudged us gently into it by getting us tag-a-long and rent on their yakin’ outings. Two times and we were hooked. Getting outside and on the water was a major highlight of a summer where I got to know every nook and cob-webbed cranny of my teeny tiny row home. Being on the water (or just near it really) immediately brings such a sense of calm — those negative ions are no joke.
Finally, this was one of the best summer’s to date because (drumrollllll) we went on an epic coast-to-coast (socially distanced and heavily sanitized) camping road trip. Yep! Over the course of 18 days, 7,248 miles were traveled and too many states to count were visited and/or driven through. It was an adventure in every sense of the word. It was a gift and brought me more joy than I anticipated. Turns out, we live in a really beautiful country. Who knew?! It also brought me a new appreciation for my patient, ready for whatever is around the next turn, quick-thinking, gas-station snack purchasing, never-gonna-run-out-of-something-to-talk-about boyfriend. Not to worry, I plan on doing a more in depth post about this trip including our route, stops, Covid-safe travel tips (number one DRIVE), and our must-see-spots.
The worst parts of the summer are pretty obvious. I’m heartbroken with the state of the country I live in. The negligence, the hatred, the racism, the ignorance, the fear. For the past four years I’ve felt pretty desensitized to the absurdity of it all since you know who took office. Like many Americans, this summer shifted something for me. The passion and rage I once had as protesting politically involved 20-something has returned. I am a distraught, often embarrassed, and a consistently devastated American. But I am no longer looking away. I am cautiously optimistic. I can’t help it, I am programmed to always see things for their half-full potential. And I think there’s a collective momentum pulling away from a passive mindset. And I’m here for it. I’m doing my best to be an ally, speak up, organize, and engage. I’m leaning hard into my educator roots because information is power. Filtering through alllllll of the information is the key. More on this later…for now I’ll just say BLACK LIVES MATTER & VOTE like your life depends on it.
2. NO SPEND SEPTEMBER
I don’t know about you but I comforted my quarantine by online shopping — A LOT. I am aware just how privileged that statement is and quite honestly I feel a bit gross even admitting it. That being said, it’s time to reign it in! I usually do a #NOSPENDJANUARY to recover after the annual holiday money bleed. But I’m thinking a bi-annual spending freeze is a reset this over-spender could use. How does it work? Well basically you just freeze any “extra” spending. Obviously you pay your bills, credit cards, groceries, gas etc. However that extra Dunkin Donut’s coffee you get 2-3x per week is a no-go. Yep this includes no eating out! Which is the hardest for me — that and the ‘drinks with friends’ (now that patios are open). I use my app settings on my phone to turn off or hide shopping apps like Amazon, Etsy, Ebay, Wayfair, and LIKEtoKNOW.it — I do still looove to ‘window shop’ because wellll I like pretty things and I grew up in America? Capitalism and consumerism is kind of in my DNA. However, instead of adding items to a cart I save them to a Pinterest Board or on Instagram I save them to a ‘Collection.’ This greatly cuts down on impulsive buying (which is 99% of online shopping if we’re being honest with ourselves) and helps to curate similar things for future conscious purchasing. I’m not usually a grand spender – twenty bucks here, five dollar coffee there — but you’d be amazed at how much those things add up. I’m still having to unlearn so many awful spending habits and just financial mistakes in general. These spending freezes help me to reset and realign my habits with my belief system. Like most things that are healthy or good for us, it’s hard sometimes but it really feels good when it’s all said and done.
Speaking of spending…I’m an Amazon Influencer ya’ll! For as much as I spend and send other’s to this tech giant I figured I might as well join in on the profit margins. This is a way for me to curate all of my top Amazon purchases that I’ve loved in one place for all to see. Like me , my Amazon storefront is a random mix of things. Everything from fashionable and affordable finds, kitchen staples, home improvement items, nutritional supplements, and more! Check it out, tell your friends. Please and thank you thank you thank you!
4. Deelightful Clickbait
- How Has Hyper-stimulation Changed Us? A thought provoking article about what all this over-stimulation is doing to our brains.
- Vote Save America A super helpful resource for the upcoming election, including what’s going on in YOUR state specifically.
- Mindful Meal Planning Sessions Struggling to keep yourself or your family fed well during this insane time? Kicking yourself because you know a good meal will help with just about everything? Click here.
- Lady Gaga Inspired Dance Break/Work-Out Enough said.
- Guess the Popular TV Show Theme Spice up your next Zoom call with a little trivia — good for professional team building or that awkward family call.
5. For Your Earbuds
Audio books and podcasts are usually what are flooding my ears throughout the day. Here are some of my latest favorites.
- Radio Rental — This podcast got us through our road trip! So many crazy stories!! And it’s hosted by DWIGHT (iykyk)
- The Dissenters — INSPIRATION STATION — this podcast was way more inspiring than I anticipated. Loved learning about all of these incredible people and hearing their stories.
- The Daily Zeitgeist — a progressive daily “news” podcast that uses intellect and satire to breakdown the ridiculousness of our current world. Listen to it just about everyday.
- The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl — If you’re an Issa Rae fan or Insecure curious…this audio book is for you.
- 28 Summers — if I’m reading or rather listening to fiction I usually lean towards something light and fun. Rom-com-y. This fit the bill! And takes place in DC, Baltimore, and Nantucket. Really anything by Elin Hilderbrand is a nice escape novel when everything feels a bit too heavy.