The Perfect Purse

I admit, I’m a little obsessed with purse-packing.

It’s a weird little hobby of mine that involves putting together key essentials into one perfectly packed, easily accessible purse (or utility belt… or backpack). My friends know that I always pack with care, and the habit has even worn off on my less-organized ladyfriends.

Other than your keys, smartphone, and wallet, I’ve listed 5 other items you absolutely MUST have with you at all times in New York City.

1. Kindle or other e-book reader

Pair with nice Bose headphones for the ultimate out-of-subway experience! New York can be a stressful place, but with chill tunes and an immersive book, you can escape into your own world easily. Also great to combat the long lines you will have to wait in pretty much everywhere you go. 30 minute wait to check out at Trader Joe’s? I think I’ll dive back into Westeros and fight a battle for the Iron Throne instead.

2. Compact folding canvas bag (from Container Store)

Because you really never know when you’ll go shopping. Be sure to find one that fits over your shoulder to make it easier to carry heavy objects or lots of groceries! You can stuff multiple jackets in one of these to avoid paying for multiple coat check tickets on a date or with a group. Or avoid coat check all together: stuff your winter layers in one when you go out, tie the handles together in a double knot, and stick it under a chair or in a dark corner. It’s much harder to find and shuffle through a tightly knotted canvas bag than to accidentally make off with the wrong black peacoat in a sea of black peacoats.

3. Folding fan

Shoo away nasty street stenches, keep cool in the summer, and air out your coat in the winter. I mean really, you’ve just walked 1 mile at a jogger’s pace and are now crammed onto a subway with 50 other people wearing heavy winter jackets. You’re going to be sweating profusely. Winter or summer, having a small, durable folding fan in your purse is crucial.

4. Business Cards

You never know who you’ll meet, and having a simple, informal business card can make all the difference between future business contact or love interest… and another missed connection on Craigslist.

5. Tissues

I use tissues for a lot of things. I use them to mop my sweaty face off when the humidity monster comes to town. I roll up balls of it to put in my ears when I’m at a show or anywhere excessively loud. I use them as toilet paper when the bathroom I’m in is out. I even blow my nose sometimes. Having tissues on your person can be a lifesaver, and they are one of those essential things that you absolutely must have at all times, just in case.

A Friday Yoga Mantra

My friday evening yoga instructor sat cross legged and walked us through some breathing exercises. As per usual, Renée asked us all to think of a prayer or intention to keep in mind while we went through our yoga practice. I usually take this opportunity to zone out entirely, allowing myself to focus on nothing instead of the instructed something. It’s usually the only excuse I can ever find to not think about anything except my body, and it’s generally a breath of fresh air. This time, however, a bubble of solace floated up to the top of my head and popped into the phrase “There is only now.”

“The power of now” is such a common cliché in today’s self-help universe that it’s easy to dismiss it entirely. This moment, however, it made a lot of sense.

I had been wallowing, regretting, and generally freaking out about the fact that I have nothing in my portfolio that I can truly be proud of. This is a big deal when you’re a designer. I mean I quite literally ONLY have my portfolio to show for almost 5 years of post-graduate work. I felt totally and completely envious of my college-age self, who spent far more time obsessing over boys and drugs than actually getting real design work done that might count toward a future in the industry. How did I go from a total be-it-all in high school to wasting 4 years of otherwise fine education? Yeah, I got straight A’s… but only  because I was great at school, not necessarily great at design. I look back on my early attempts at graphic design and gag… I am not a natural. Sure, perhaps I took that time to harness my inner creativity and explore what it meant to be an artist… or perhaps I was just a space cadet discovering psychedelics for the first time.

So I brooded through the month of January, sitting at my sewing machine and teaching myself another hobby that is totally unrelated to my chosen career path. I thought about all the amazing design projects I could have finished and all the incredible, innovative companies I could have worked for. But the sewing was fun, meditative, and had driven me to focus on something real and tangible outside the computer screen… so I persisted.

Three outfits and four weeks later, I found myself at yoga, in downward-facing dog, contemplating the silliness of it all. I realized that “there is only now” means that there are no alternate past where I worked my ass off in college and created the portfolio of my dreams at age 24. There is no version of myself other than the one currently sweating my ass off at the 23rd street NYSC. Whatever I did or failed to do in my early twenties got me here, didn’t it? It somehow was enough to stay in New York, to pursue the man of my dreams, and to maintain a happy, healthy life.

My mantra means taking each day one step at a time and working toward my goals with enthusiasm and optimism. It means realizing the potential that every single hour brings to the table. It means forgiving myself for slacking off for a few years, and acknowledging the personal and social growth that my time in college afforded me.

This is it

I am only me

and there is only now.

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5 Uplifting Winter Icebreakers

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Wintertime sadness has invaded New York with vengeance and I couldn’t be more depressed about it. It’s hard to be a productive person when a cozy warm bed is your other option. There aren’t many things that can cure wintertime sadness (other than Spring) but so far I’ve discovered 5 essential remedies to help with the symptoms.

1 • A quality slow cooker

In the winter, I am all about heavy & hearty stews, soups, and roasts. There’s nothing better than lazily tossing some ingredients into a pot around lunchtime and enjoying an afternoon filled with savory stew smells wafting through the apartment. In addition to feeding you (when your motivation to cook reaches an all-time low), slow cooker meals warm you from the inside out, making you full and cozy and ready to snuggle up into a pile of warm blankets.

2 • Moisturizing bath bubbles

Dry skin follows cold weather like a crusty band of hippies follow the Grateful Dead. Why not cure both flaky skin AND chilly bones in one fell swoop by splashing into a hot bubbly bath full of essential oils? Electric Kool Aid Acid not included.

3 • Scented pine candles

If you grew up in a Christian household, these smells might trigger happy childhood memories of decorating Christmas trees and opening presents. If not, your house will just transform into a beautifully scented pine forest. You will have visions of crackling fires and log cabins and playing in the snow. I suggest one in every room for the full effect.

4 • String lights

The warm soft glow of string lights helps to combat seasonal affective disorder. At least for me it does (I know many people who suffer from S.A.D. use super bright, super concentrated lights). I have 4 sets of white string lights set up around my kitchen and living room, and another 2 multicolored strands in my bathroom and bedroom. I leave them up all year round because they provide such happy, warm, ambient light around the apartment. I also use push pins to draw designs on big areas of wall.

5 • Colorful outerwear

Especially if you live in a big city, the wintertime streets are chock full of stiffs wearing nothing but black. Black leather boots, black hats, black gloves, black peacoat, black everything. Why all the black? Our moods are already dark and foul! Why feed into that? Granted I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a nice black peacoat that goes with absolutely everything, but I also rock this gorgeous Desigual coat just to spice things up. This thing is magnificent and improves my mood every time I put it on. I feel like a peacock. I stand up straighter. People look at me and smile because they haven’t seen actual colors in weeks. I get so many compliments walking down Wall Street from people who seem relieved to see someone who actually stands out. So get yourself something colorful! It doesn’t have to be anything as whacky as mine (my pink hair lets me get away with a lot of fashion choices like this), but it does have to represent you in some way. So you like baby blue? How about purple? How about lime green? Go find something other than brown or black to wear and add a little spring to every step you take.

Yours in warm slippers,

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