Slow the eff down

Sound familiar? A lot of us feel like we’re moving at a hundred miles a minute but not accomplishing nearly enough. That’s why Claire is here to tell us how sprinting from one task to the next is killing your productivity and making you feel like crap. (Luckily, there’s a solution.) Listen up!

slow the eff down

As I type this, I am trying to move at 100 miles a minute, in about 20 different directions.

This is not a joke. Since beginning this post, I have:

  • Eaten an after-dinner snack (okay, several after-dinner snacks)
  • Done laundry
  • Answered emails
  • Made tea
  • Scrolled through Instagram roughly 47 times

Honestly, though? None of these tasks were done well, and just as importantly, none of them have made me feel the way I want to feel.

For all of the time I’ve spent trying to keep myself busy, clean and satiated this evening, I’ve accomplished embarrassingly little.

How many of your days look exactly like this?

If you, like me, spend your precious time struggling to complete what really counts toward accomplishing your Big Life Goals, it may be time to:

Slow down. Take a breath. Look more closely at whose agenda you’re following.

When I say “whose agenda,” here, I’m not implying that you’re taking orders from another person; what I actually mean is that you’re allowing a noisy little voice in your head to run the show.

Because believe it or not, we’re all catering to two agendas: our own, and our egos’.

Our own agendas are full of inspiring, life-changing plans, like:

  • Create a work of art that truly moves someone
  • Treat my body with the love and respect it deserves, so that it looks and feels awesome
  • Build a career that’s challenging, fulfilling and makes a difference in the world

Our egos’ agendas are full of self-centered, instant-gratification plans, like:

  • Binge-watch Orange Is the New Black
  • Get some Very Important Email Answering done
  • Take a nap

Neither of these agendas are inherently good or bad; they both simply revolve around a core of desired feelings. The major difference, however, is that our agendas are rooted in bravery and the embracing of challenge, while our egos’ agendas are rooted in comfort and the avoidance of pain.

Creating a work of art—or, in this case, a blog post worth reading—will ultimately bring me satisfaction, pride, and the joy of collaboration with a writer I deeply admire (hi, Cassie!). First, however, it has brought feelings of fear that what I write will be crap, and frustration at the fact that the words aren’t materializing as easily as I’d like.

Only by slowing the fuck down, feeling those scary emotions and moving through them do I have any chance of accomplishing my goal tonight.

Instead, however, I’ve chosen to run from them for the past three hours. And my ego has happily stepped in to help me.

This irritating little ego still wanted to feel proud and productive, but it didn’t want to deal with the tough stuff. So it picked easier options. How about the laundry? it said. Oh, and look, you have new Facebook notifications. Those are probably important. You should check them off the list!

And so I did. And now I have clean underwear and know that three people “liked” a photo I posted yesterday.

But have I really accomplished anything? Have I connected with anyone? Did it matter?

Um, resounding NOPE up in here.

To experience the deep fulfillment and feelings of helpfulness that spring from creating something worthwhile, I’ve first had to:

  • Admit to myself that yes, I’m scared, and yes, I’m frustrated.
  • Actually FEEL those feelings for a minute. Hang around with them. Let them wear themselves out.
  • Put my fingers on the keyboard and do the damn work.

By sloooooowing doooooown and accepting those emotions you’re so used to running from—those flutterings of dread before a workout, the overwhelm of launching a new product, the nervousness that no one will connect with your art—you’ll actually be able to get more done, and you’ll be better at what you’re doing.

Keep trying to numb those feelings, and your ego will gleefully help you overeat, put that new product on hold indefinitely, send lots of tweets, texts and snapchats, then settle in for a nap.

And you. will. be. stuck.

The next time you’re feeling busybusybusy but aren’t actually getting anything done, stop for a second. Put down the phone/laptop/cookie.

Ask yourself: How do I feel right now? And how do I want to feel?

If “how do I feel?” results in a negative answer—afraid, frustrated, hurt, angry—don’t rush to block it out. Let it wash over you. Try to live inside it for a second; what does it feel like, physically? Is your stomach clenched? Are your knuckles white? Do you need a few seconds to punch your pillow, or to cry it out? Do what it takes to get comfortable with that emotion—once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to move through it in peace.

Once that’s finished, you can focus on the good stuff: if you want to feel accomplished, you’re smart enough to know that a nap won’t provide that result. If you want to feel healthy and vibrant, the package of Oreos does not hold the answer.

You know what needs to happen to move closer to your dream life. Rushing from one activity to the next in an effort to avoid discomfort is not it. 

I’d love to know, though—what is?

What plans from your agenda are you going to tackle today, and what plans from your ego’s are you going to happily kiss goodbye?

 

 

Claire Suellentrop

Claire Suellentrop wants to live in a world where her friends pursue their bucket list dreams with reckless abandon, where they give their all to doing what they love, and where their health and well-being aren’t compromised in the process. As the health coach behind Eat Well. Party Hard., she’s passionate about creating opportunities for people to grow and thrive, and fuels her own crazy life with a plant-based diet, black coffee and whiskey. Her ebook, Killer Confidence: Anywhere + At Any Weight is available (for free!) right here.

Interweb Finds: Comedians, cookie butter & more

cookie butter

Happy Sunday! Is it spring where you live yet?

I’ve been seeing a lot of tweets and Facebook statuses about the weather finally warming up in the rest of the U.S. (I’ll resist the urge to comment on my SoCal weather… ahem), and I’m really happy to see everyone’s collective mood improve. Welcome back!

This week, my dad is in town visiting (he lived here for years), so we’re spending a lot of time together with good food and strong drinks, and I’m just a little more than three weeks away from being done with my first year of grad school. Needless to say, things are crazy—in a good way.

Now, the interweb finds you came for!

My latest vlog is all about my obsession with Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter. What is cookie butter, you ask? Prepare to have your life changed.

Why Sarah Silverman, the comedian, and Susan Silverman, the rabbi, are the perfect sisters:

“’I suppose [...] our lives seem at the surface to be so polar opposite,’ Sarah says. ‘But the truth is we both kinda preach; and we both take in our surroundings and try to mirror it.’”

I’m really into plants these days and have been itching to fill our apartment with more of them. This DIY plant stand is perfect for a tiny space.

Breathtaking beach art. So cool.

I recently discovered Amy’s blog and now want to try ALL THE RECIPES. Baked avocado rolls or orange chicken, anyone?

This is beautiful: What Americans will look like in 2050.

While I would’ve loved to see a woman or person of color take over for David Letterman, I’ve gotta say I think Stephen Colbert was a great choice. This essay about how we’re losing a great character in Colbert’s satirical alter ego really nailed what a lot of fans of Colbert Report are thinking. (If you want to see his genuine side, watch this touching tribute to his mother after she died. Tears!)

 

That’s all of the web finds for this week!

Keep an eye out for a fantastic guest post about all the ways you need to slow down right now.

Beer with a Blogger: Angel City Brewery in DTLA

There’s something very special about blog-friends-turned-real-life-friends.

When you’ve been following each other’s blogs for months (or even years!) and finally meet for the first time, it can be so surreal, because even though you’ve exchanged dozens of comments, read about their most personal experiences and seen plenty of pictures of them, it’s still strange at first that they’re actual people with voices and stuff. It’s also bizarre how totally normal it is to meet them and, like with old friends, have a million things to talk about.

Which is exactly what it was like meeting Rachel for the first time last summer.

Rachel of Existation

THE BLOGGER

Rachel Jackson, the photographer, writer and adventurer behind Existation. This Minnesota lady moved to Los Angeles in 2011 to pursue her California dream (something that instantly attracted me to her blog, since I had dreams and plans of doing the very same). Now, she and her boyfriend Toby live in West Hollywood and explore the great state of California whenever they get the chance. (Check out her photos of Joshua Tree and June Lake, and you’ll want to move out here, too.) What I love about Rachel is how warm, inviting and open she is. Must be that Midwestern charm. Follow Rachel on Instagram and Twitter.

Angel City Brewery

THE BAR

Angel City Brewery in the Arts District of downtown Los Angeles. This might just be my new favorite spot. The vibe is very industrial/casual/chic in this bowling alley-sized warehouse, where dogs are welcome and the bartenders are friendly. Angel City opened up almost a year ago exactly and doesn’t serve food, but it regularly welcomes food trucks to its parking lot. Live music, darts and regular run + yoga + beer events make it the perfect neighborhood spot, and quite frankly, I’m a bit jealous of everyone who lives within walking distance of this place. (There are so many other great spots in this part of downtown, too.)

THE BEER

An Angeleno IPA for me and a Mexican Cola Beer for Rachel—this one seemed to be a hit among the other patrons, too. All imbibed beverages brewed in-house, of course.

Angel City Brewery Angel City Brewerygerman shepherd puppy

Every time Rachel and I get together, the conversation flows naturally, and we end up chatting about so many different things. Namely, all the adventures we want to take, our anxieties and excitement about the future, creative outlets and inspiration, and the paths that have led us to where we are now. It always makes for good, much-needed girl talk.

Oh, and the brewery is just around the corner from the building where Jess and the boys from New Girl live, so of course we had to get a picture.

New Girl building

Real-life friend status even further solidified and a love for Angel City Brewery established. Good times.

Cassie and Rachel

Are you a blogger living in (or visiting!) L.A.? Do you like beer? Shoot me an email at wittycassiehere (at) gmail (dot) com, and let’s go to happy hour!

A guide to Silver Lake

Silver Lake teepee

It’s no secret I’m in love with my neighborhood here in L.A.

Last month, I wrote a guest post for I’m Moving to LA that serves as a guide to Silver Lake and all the wonderful conveniences, attractions and beauty it has to offer. (I’ll toot my own horn and say it’s a super helpful resource for anyone considering moving here.)

I was particularly excited for this week’s LXL vlog topic—our cities and neighborhoods! Check out my video below to see some of my favorite things about Silver Lake. While hardly exhaustive (I now want to go out and shoot way more footage), it’ll give you a pretty good idea about what makes this city so special.

As always, feel free to use our vlogging topics as a jumping off point for your own vlog or blog post. What do you love most about your city or town?

How you know you’re becoming an Angeleno

how you know you're becoming an Angeleno

When does a person who’s moved to L.A. officially become an Angeleno, anyway?

Now that I’ve lived in L.A. for eight months (how did that happen?!), I feel fairly established in the city and know my way around pretty well. While some locals would say you’ve not a true Angeleno until you’ve lived here for some arbitrary number of years, I’m of the belief that you’re a member of your community as soon as you start actively participating in it. I might’ve only scraped the surface of what L.A. has to offer, but already I’ve already noticed some telltale signs that I’m assimilating.

Here are just a few of the signs that you’re becoming an Angeleno:

Smoothies, tacos and avocados are all a regular part of your diet, thanks to their abundance. (The avocado tree in front of my apartment is arguably the best part about living here.)

You dress up to go out… to Trader Joe’s.

You ask everyone you meet where they’re from, because so many people here aren’t L.A. natives. And despite your best efforts to talk about something more interesting, you inevitably end up commiserating about traffic and talking about the beautiful weather.

You follow stalk food trucks on Twitter. (Grilled Cheese Truck or Let’s Be Frank, anyone?)

You’ve driven or walked to the grocery store only to turn right back around… because you realized you forgot to bring reusable bags and are too cheap to pay 10 cents for a paper bag.

You constantly face FOMO (fear of missing out) because there are so many events, restaurants and neighborhoods to check out, and you can’t possibly visit them all.

You’re more familiar with the map of Los Angeles than you are your own hometown’s because you’ve spent so much time taking alternate routes to avoid traffic.

If there’s one thing you want police to give out more tickets for, it’s all of the fake placeholder license plates half the population seems to be driving around with.

Unless you live on the west side, you’re constantly explaining to friends and relatives back home that the beach is not just steps away from your front door.

You’re excited to have visitors come and stay with you so you have an excuse to do all the touristy things like see the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

You complain about sub-60 degree weather. Seriously.

You never want to leave.

 

Now make a list about your town/city!

When has someone officially become a Portlander, Austinite, Nashvillian etc.? Angelenos—do you have anything else to add?

Through the lens: photos from March

DTLA

March was a lot like the photos below—busy, colorful and all over the place.

Anybody else feel the same? This month certainly had its highlights (a trip to San Diego, gorgeous weather as usual, etc.), but I never did feel like I had time to breathe. Every time I accomplished one small task, five more would pile on top of me. And because I expect more of the same from April as my second semester of grad school begins wrapping up, I’m trying to adjust my mindset and power on through. I can do this.

Despite the insanity, there were a lot of bright moments of I’m so glad I’m here. School might make me crazy sometimes, but I’ve never once doubted that this is the place for me right now. The following photos capture those bright moments perfectly.

fire escape

DTLA

DTLA art

phone booth

heart Los Angeles

The above photos were all taken in DTLA, which I’ve explored a fair amount lately for writing assignments. Ask an Angeleno about the area, and you’re likely to get mixed reviews. (If you’re not familiar with L.A., downtown is NOT Hollywood—they’re a few miles apart.) The other day I Instagrammed a photo of a corner downtown, explaining how I’d fallen a little in love with that part of the city. Rachel commented on the photo and summed up my feelings exactly: “DTLA either creeps me out, bores me, or makes me fall in love with it, depending on the area/day.” But in this particular area on this particular day, I was smitten.

Below, a walking tour of the antique shops and street art in Silver Lake:

Sunset Blvd. Silver Lake

Sunset Blvd. signs

Living Room furniture

antique shopping in Silver Lake

Micheltorena Flea Market

street art

Silver Lake street art

Silver Lake home

A dog chilling on his Silver Lake balcony above and a long hike in Griffith Park below.

Griffith Park hike

Dan's Burgers San Diego

San Diego sunset

And a couple more memories from San Diego above.

The days, weeks and months might be feeling overwhelming lately, but if the photos above can teach me anything, it’s to live for the little bright moments. And when I stop and look back, I realize that there are a whole lot of them.

What were your favorite moments from March? What are you looking forward to in April?

wittycassiehere Instagram

What your dreams reveal about your reality

what are your dreams telling you

I had a nightmare the other night. The kind that sticks with you for a while.

I dreamed my classmates and I had to give presentations—singing presentations in which every single person basically stood up on a stage and sang karaoke. (Your typical journalism school assignment, clearly.) I watched the others stand up one by one and sing their hearts out on the fluorescently lit stage, and with each final note, the group would applaud.

Then it was my turn.

I’d forgotten all about presentation day. I hadn’t practiced my song in weeks. (Isn’t that always how school anxiety dreams go?) But the music started and I began mumbling along with what was supposed to be a Kelly Clarkson song. (Not exactly my go-to karaoke singer in real life, but again, we’re dreaming here.) I’d forgotten some of the words, but I belted out the notes as best I could. I even started to get into it, though I couldn’t hear myself very well—for all I knew, I was out of tune. But the worst part was when the song ended and no one clapped. No one even looked up from their computers. It was dead silent.

My stomach quivered with the kind of humiliation I hadn’t felt in years. Several painful seconds went by as I placed the microphone back on the stand. Part of me felt shamefully invisible while the other part of me couldn’t be invisible enough. I almost let it go and walked off stage without acknowledging the awkward moment, but instead, I delivered a little hostile sarcasm to the crowd: “Really? Not even a courtesy clap? Real nice.” Some people offered a couple of half-hearted claps. It only made me feel worse.

This dream haunted me all the next day. I’ve had plenty of awful school-related dreams, but this one felt particularly significant. Why? Because the only thing unrealistic about it was that I was singing Kelly Clarkson karaoke for a grade. Everything else—the nerves, the fumbling over words, the vulnerability of exposing my heart to an audience and the feeling that no one cares? That’s all within the scope of reality.

It doesn’t take a professional dream analyst to decipher that my dream-self’s inability to confidently sing a power anthem might be linked to real-life feelings of uncertainty and self-doubt.

Most of the time, I feel like I have my shit together and know that I’m more than capable of achieving anything I take on. But sometimes, it can feel a bit like I’m Kermit-flailing behind a microphone wondering if I’m coherent or just plain crazy.

You could say grad school has instilled a proper sense of urgency with an unfortunate side effect of second-guessing everything, including my own abilities and whether I’m on the right path. If you are, ever have been or intend to be a grad student, this article about imposter syndrome—the feeling that there must’ve been some sort of mistake when you were accepted into school and that everyone will find out you’re a fraud any day now—is a worthy read.

But these feelings are hardly limited to school anxieties. Anyone brave enough to put their work out there for people to see, read respond and react to has likely been there—it’s how they deal with the criticism, the negative thoughts and the bad dreams that makes them a success or a could’ve-been. 

That means if you’re a blogger who, like me, has poured your heart and time into a blog post and obsessively refreshed the stats and comments and worried no one gives a shit—I get it. I’ve been there. I’m still there sometimes (see above dream). But as long as you love doing it, keep doing it. And if your dreams give you any indication that something’s not right, analyze the hell out of those dreams and write a blog post/diary entry/song about it. Then get back to work. Because the only thing worse than creating something that’s a failure is failing to create.

And the next time I have to give a karaoke presentation? I’ll be prepared with a flawless rendition of “Stronger.”

 

Interweb Finds: Traveling with mannequins, a bird’s-eye view & more

old Griffith Park Zoo

If you could sum up your week with one word, what word would that be? Mine would be smoothies.

John and I have gotten into a bit of a smoothie craze this week, making everything from breakfast smoothies to post-run smoothies to adult smoothies. You could say my spring break from grad school has been one of the very best.

Other highlights from this week? Spending some time in San Diego, visiting the old abandoned Griffith Park Zoo (pictured above), and making good use of my Groupon at the local yoga studio. Tomorrow, it’s back to school (and back to reality!) for the last month-and-a-half of the semester.

Here are some of this week’s top web finds for your reading pleasure:

An artist was tired of always being asked why she wasn’t married, so she made up a mannequin family, traveled the world & documented it… for 14 years.

I don’t know which I love more—this San Francisco house tour or this Portland house tour.

An incredible video of a flying eagle’s point of view. It doesn’t hurt that this eagle’s home is stunningly beautiful.

Hannah Brencher’s words give me chills with every. Single. Post. Her take on bravery—and how it’s defined differently for each and every one of us—truly moved me.

One dog takes great joy in misbehaving when his owner isn’t home, and his owner captured it on video—which is predictably hilarious and adorable.

And if you’re not into dog videos, too bad. One magician does a disappearing act for dogs, and their reactions are priceless.

This list of 84 things to do in L.A. makes me realize I have a LOT of exploring to do!

When I visited the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado, I was mesmerized by how far sound traveled. (You could hear other people’s quiet conversations from a hundred yards away.) Which is why I think these acoustic wonders of the world are fascinating.

That’s all for this week’s interweb finds! I’ll see you Tuesday with some thoughts on the meanings behind dreams.

Things you wouldn’t know just by looking at me

We’ve all been on the receiving end of annoying snap judgments based on our appearances.

And we’ve all been guilty of making the same kinds of judgments about strangers, even though we know better. Have you ever caught yourself doing that? Did you feel a little ashamed about it? I have. It happens.

This week’s theme for the League of Extraordinary Ladies is things you wouldn’t know about me just by looking at me. In my vlog below, I share a few things—both trivial and slightly more serious—about myself you might not have known. And I invite you to share any surprising/fun/interesting things people might not know about you below in the comments! Make sure you check out the other extraordinary ladies’ videos from this week, too.

Have a great weekend!

Hanging in Pacific Beach, San Diego

Pacific Beach

One of the biggest benefits of going back to school is having breaks again.

And I kicked off my spring break by driving two hours south to sunny San Diego with John this past weekend. (It was his birthday!) We’d stayed in the city before, and we each had spent some time on Coronado Island, but this time, we opted for Pacific Beach, which was beautiful, laid-back and very bike-able. I was so glad we brought our bikes along—we hardly drove anywhere all weekend.

bike Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach pier cottageslifeguard standTurns out a lot of other people were traveling to San Diego for spring break, too. While there was some debauchery, nothing ever interfered with our visit. It helped that we were only half a block away from the beach.

Pacific Beach

My favorite part? Watching the sun set over the Pacific two days in a row. On Friday, we watched it from a rooftop bar. On Saturday, we watched it from the beach. Both times, the crowds that had gathered to watch applauded when the last sliver of sun disappeared.

Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach

Pacific BeachPacific BeachPacific Beachocean-beach

Other trip highlights include stargazing by the shore. People watching. Dog watching. Making rum-infused smoothies in the hotel room. (We brought our own blender.) Spending a weekend away from the computer. And simply relaxing. A shout-out to Woody’s, Beaumont’s and Dirty Birds, which were some of the food & drink highlights of the weekend. Not to mention all our servers and bartenders. Is it just me, or is everyone nicer on the West Coast?

Now, I plan on using the rest of my spring break wisely by getting some reading, writing and cleaning done.

Do you have any upcoming travel plans you’re looking forward to?