Looking back: my first year in L.A.

one year in L.A.

We woke up in the canyons of Utah, braved 115-degree dry heat in Vegas, and paid nearly five dollars a gallon for the last leg of the trip. It was a Thursday, and it was L.A. or bust.

John and I arrived in Los Angeles one year ago Friday. We’d been on the road for 10 days, driving through small towns, big cities and vast deserts. We saw a lot of incredible things, but the most vivid memory of all was when we crossed into L.A. County. The highway was wide, the mountains were high and the setting sun gave it all a dreamy, hazy glow. We had made it. This was “home.”

driving into L.A.

Adjusting to our new surroundings wasn’t easy. Within the first day, we had a stinky iPhone full of air freshener juice and a ticket for talking on said phone as welcoming souvenirs. Thankfully, we had a place to stay, but finding an apartment was frustrating and difficult. Our bank accounts took major blows, jobs were scarce and grad school was looming. It was a lot to deal with at once.

Santa Monica beachcity-smog-2 trails-2

The first year certainly hasn’t been easy, but it has been amazing. I’ve had the chance to meet some extraordinary people working as a journalist and have taken the time to explore the Golden State with short road trips and camping adventures. I’ve woken up in a tent on the beach to see seals frolicking in the ocean, I’ve interviewed rock stars and activists and politicians, I’ve made a ton of new friends at school and through the blogging community, and I’ve had my best friend and partner next to me every step of the way. Being on this adventure with John has made the difficult times easier to deal with and the celebratory times even sweeter.

kisses-2 venice-canals-2 hills

And what’s not to love about L.A.? You could look at the negatives, and a lot of people choose to. I’ve encountered many of them myself, but the good has far outweighed the bad. Los Angeles is such a diverse city, both culturally and geologically, and that has made for so many new-to-me experiences. I needed a culture shock. I needed to step out of my comfort zone. And I needed to live in a city full of opportunities to make me realize just how many are open to me if I go after them.

cassie-walking

So thanks, Los Angeles, for giving me the biggest thrill of my life. Thanks for making me work for it and for letting me reap the rewards. Whether I stay another year, five years or a lifetime, I’ll always look back on the first 12 months as a game-changer.

Happy anniversary, Los Angeles.

 

On Valentine’s Day, show some self-love

self love

I’m going to make a political statement here: I like Valentine’s Day.

Big surprise—I have a built-in date with my boyfriend, with whom I also happen to be celebrating my five-year anniversary today. (Our first date was the week before V-Day, so we conveniently made it an official, easy-to-remember anniversary date.)

But honestly, even when I was single, I always enjoyed Valentine’s Day. It’s an excuse to wear bright red lipstick, eat cupcakes and tell someone you like—either romantically or not—that you think they’re pretty cool.

And whether you’re single, taken, or too busy dominating the world for labels, Valentine’s Day is also the perfect excuse to show a little self-love. That goes for all of you who would rather skip over this holiday entirely, too.

How can you show some self-love today?

Get some exercise. Today, I plan on either going for a nice hilly run or trying out the yoga studio up the street. (I bought a Groupon for 16 yoga classes for $55!) Get a little sweat going, and you’ll feel happy for the rest of the day.

Try something new. Take the scenic route home. Check out the coffee place that just opened down the street. Cook a new recipe you’ve been meaning to try. Spark your adventurous side.

Give yourself permission to veg. Hey, it’s Friday. It’s been a long week, amiright? Put on the sweatpants. Eat the Valentine’s Day candy. Binge-watch your favorite show on Netflix. Even if you have a dinner date planned, I recommend following it with this.

Treat yourself. To a book. A fresh basil plant. A new shade of nail polish. A bottle of wine (or two).

Stay off Facebook. Or don’t. But if you do log on, “like” a few mushy statuses like the generous person you are. Otherwise, no complaints when you come across those “best boyfriend everrrrr, no wait, I mean FIANCE! WE’RE ENGAGED!!! LOVE YOU POOKIE” statuses. Either stay offline completely or be happy for someone else’s (slightly obnoxious) love.

I’m taking a poll: Do you love or hate Valentine’s Day? What do you have planned? Finally—how are you gonna show some self-love today?