A Long-Awaited Break

Since before I can remember, I’ve wanted a break. When I was in college and took summer classes, and packed my time with jobs, 21-credit semesters, and internships, I’ve wanted a break. When I jumped straight from college into a job, I wanted a break. When I moved to New York, and from company to company, I wanted a break.

By break, I don’t just mean a few weeks off to get married (for those of you who’ve gotten married, you know this isn’t a break), but a real, true, sit on my ass and do nothing but get my mind straight, break.

So in October, I decided to do it. Take off the month of November to just be. I tied my loose ends, checked my bank account, and quit my job. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how I’d feel, or what those around me would think. Would I seem lazy? Careless? Privileged? Or God forbid… Millennial!?

I hate to say that I care what people think, but I do. Especially the people I love, appreciate, and admire. But if I’m really honest with myself, what I care about above all is transparency. I can understand the need for a social highlight reel, for sharing the good, and portraying oneself in the best light. But I don’t understand why that’s it. Why we never reveal any other aspect of ourselves. To me, sharing in each others humanity is far more powerful. Embracing each other during the ups, and cradling each other during the downs.

So I decided to share my news. Admitting that I felt disconnected from myself, my city, my relationships. Confessing that I wasn’t doing the best, or being the best I could. Revealing that even a few days in, I could still feel half of my body in knots, and the other half slowly unraveling. It was terrifying.

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Deep down, I knew, and know others feel the same way. So why don’t we talk about our vulnerabilities? Why don’t we talk about fading friendships, faltering love, and failure when these conversations can liberate us?

When I pressed “post” on Facebook, I braced myself. I knew some people might read my post and see the frailty and naiveté of my character. But I also knew that some people might empathize. I didn’t, however, expect the outpouring of support – from my friends, my parents friends, my family all over the world. The “best decision in world!”s, and the “THIS IS NUTS (in an awesome way!)”s, and the “you deserve it!”s.

It wasn’t just sympathy or empathy. It was people throwing convention to the wayside and standing by me when I was most vulnerable.

In retrospect, I don’t know why I was that surprised. Especially now, when solidarity is pulsing through all of us. When we’re all tapping into the same positive, loving, helpful, encouraging consciousness, whether we live next door to one another, or across the globe.

The world is a scary place, but our community is beautiful.

Thank you for your kindness, understanding, and support. May we all continue to inject one another’s lives with this same sense of friendship, camaraderie, and unity.

Love,

A

(I wish) I Woke Up Like This

We all know those people. The ones that practically skip out of bed in the morning. At 6AM when their internal alarm clock rings from the depths of their subconscious. They have run five miles, done 75 squats and 50 lunges, and had a nutritious high protein, low carb breakfast all before 7:30AM, when most of us trudge from our beds to our bathrooms as if there were hundred pound shackles bound to our feet.

Photo credit to the cool things Colleen Leddy has at her amazing bachelorette party.

After breakfast, this person sits down to spend an hour on their personal project. They are the writers, philosophers, entrepreneurs, makers, creators. The enlightened ones, if you will. They are the masters of their own lives. They had a dream at one point (and yes, MLK would also be considered one of these SSs), and are either on the very well paved path to achieving it, or in the midst of the surreal splendor of it.

For the luckiest, this one morning hour turns into many hours. They spend their day building the landscapes and skylines of their future.

All my life, I’ve tried to be a Self-Starter. I set goals for myself, and I achieve them momentarily. Writing every day for two weeks straight. Opting into initiatives like the 100-day program. Taking classes and feeling the rush of anticipation in the moments before, and the flood of satisfaction in the moments after. Enlivening characters I fall in love with, rooms I want to occupy, and storylines I want to share with everyone I possibly can.

I do it! And I love it! And then comes a moment when I stop. When the path to achieving my dreams becomes so convoluted, like a maze in the dark, in the middle of a large expanse of land, surrounded by nothingness. So even if I were to ever emerge, I’d only find another harrowing obstacle.

The self-starter has this same moment. When they stop and evaluate. But, these f**kers (excuse my French) just happen to be Eagle Scouts who know how to use the crap on the ground and friction to create a bright and fiery torch to light their way. They have to push through and persevere, too. Even though we might feel that by sheer will-power they can light-up the world.

So all you Self-Starters out there. Can you please take some time from being incredible, jealousy-inciting humans to give us all some advice on how in the world you do it?! Also, sorry I called you all f**kers (excuse my French, again). It comes from a place of love and admiration. Promise.

XX,

A

Living for Tuesdays

Remember that moment, when we were kids, and the final bell rang on the last day of the school year? Remember how your heart fluttered, and a sense of levity settled into your body as you sprang up to gather in the hallways and say “see you soon” to all of your friends?
In adult life, I guess you can feel a wisp of the same. When you finally shut down for a weekend (given it’s work-free), and as you leave the office the air feels fresher, somehow. Filled with potential. You realize that for this little sliver of the week, it’s “me-time.” You can just be you! You can do whatever you want, focusing on fulfilling yourself, and spend time doing things you actually enjoy.
But how rare are these feelings?
Simply put, really rare. All too rare. Like only 30% of your life rare (give or take).
In a fleeting moment of leisure last week (a sliver of the aforementioned “me-time,” between finishing one project, and starting the next, in a centimeter-wide gap in my Google calendar, I was scrolling through Tumblr, looking for something to make me feel motivated, inspired, awakened. And I tumbled upon this.

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It sort of scared me. It’s not that I haven’t found “something worth living for.” That’s not it at all. I have plenty to live for! But that doesn’t mean that I spend every day really living. Maybe I am kind of wasting my life away. I don’t make the most of every day – not even close. In fact, I spend much of the day doing quite the opposite. Wishing it away, watching the minutes tick until I can be home with Mr. P & Kingston, maybe read a book, or watch some mindless TV. But there are so many other things that make me happy. And almost more importantly, make me feel alive. Seeing friends, going to performances around the city (we have been going to The Moth and every time I go I like it more and more), taking classes, exercising, writing, traveling, cooking, being outdoors. And I guess it is sort of my fault that I don’t do any of it.
So even though New Years Resolutions feel premature at the moment (and I generally think they’re bullshit), this is going to be my resolution – to be the kind of person that makes the best out of Tuesday.
xx,
Ambika

The Importance of a P.M.A.

I’ve been having one of those months (…few months?) when I’m having trouble focusing on the positive. When people hear me say this, they consistently think I’m insane. I’m engaged to the love of my life, we’re planning an amazing wedding, we live in the “greatest city on earth,” we have a really cute puppy, we both have families that will love us until the end of time, and friends that think we’re cool enough to occasionally invite us out.

Of course when I list this out, I sit back and think – holy shit *while smiling cheek to cheek*. But it’s not that easy to focus on the good stuff all the time. Wedding planning is also hard, we live in the most intense city in the world, our puppy is a handful (okay, actually I have no downside to this, the handful part doesn’t even matter), we’re far away from our families, and we don’t spend nearly as much time with our friends as we wish we could. Yes, in the grand scheme, these are just blips – I know this – but right now, it’s hard not to get caught up.

Life is not easy.

But there are still plenty, I mean plenty of things to be happy about every day. Even if one thing is falling to the wayside, there are other things that can help lift you right back up.

Yesterday, I was reading my horoscope (you know me, I’m into shit like that), and this is what it told me:

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Okay, thank you for a kick in the ass cosmos. Why am I letting a fly ruin what is one of the best times of my life? Also… I don’t even know what the fly is! Working too much? Flakey wedding vendors? Not being able to decide where to go for our Honeymoon? I’m realizing how crazy I sound.

So… that was my horoscope. And then, a girl I know from college posted about #100happydays. Now I’ve seen this a million times on Instagram, and have of course chosen to ignore it (call me Pessimistic Patrice), but today I clicked. And it sort of caught me off guard. Like in a slap in the face sort of way.

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71% of people don’t have enough time to spend two minutes a day marinating on what makes them happy. SEVENTY ONE PERCENT OF PEOPLE! That is madness – (given that as a strategist I know the data has been slightly fudged because it’s probably that people don’t have time to take an amazing picture and share it – don’t believe everything you hear! But…) the point is a compelling one.

Whether or not you commit to socially sharing what makes you happy for 100 days in a row (it is a big commitment!), we should at least take time each day to reflect on what makes us happy. OR maybe do consider partaking in an exercise like this! It keeps us all accountable.

A P.M.A. (Positive Mental Attitude) can take you far.

Here’s to happiness.

Love,

A

Sorry Not Sorry

Hello from the brinks of K-hell!

K-hell: a state of life in which one cannot eat whatever one pleases. This is what hell is like in my mind. And thanks to whizzie removal (wisdom teeth), I am in the depths of hell.

Anyways, the past few days I have done little aside from lay in bed and watch TV or sleep. So obviously I’ve had a lot of time to think and I hit a huge realization about myself.

I apologize far too often and too much.

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(I like to think that I look that cute while apologizing)

I’m not sure exactly why this is. Maybe it’s my hatred for confrontation. Maybe it’s my desire to not get fired from my internship. Or maybe it’s because I don’t want my professors to hate me. Whatever it is, I’ve come to see how utterly ridiculous is.

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I send an e-mail to a professor or my boss saying I won’t be in class or in the office because I’m sick, and then I sign it “Sorry for the inconvenience!” Uhm, what? If I’m saying sorry to anyone it should be myself because being sick sucks and it’s a huge inconvenience to me. This past week one of my professors sent out an e-mail saying that he had made a mistake on the syllabus and our paper that was due later in the week was actually on Chapter 4, not 3. Of course, with my luck, I get this e-mail as I’m writing the conclusion of the seven page paper. I e-mailed the professor letting him know that I had already finished the paper and asking him if he’d accept it or not. And then I signed it sorry! What the hell was I sorry for!? He’s the one who messed up! Seriously, I’m ridiculous.

I’m the first to apologize to the important people in my life just because I rather not have any negativity between us. But I’m pretty sure most of the time it’s not even my fault and I’m stretching to even find a reason to apologize. And yet I still do it. I apologize when I don’t respond to text messages within a couple hours. I say “Sorry, I was in class!” if I miss a phone call. But really, I’m not sorry. There’s nothing for me to be sorry for. I’m not sorry that I’m being responsible and sitting in class or at work and not answering my phone.

I know you all do this too, because you do it to me. And you know what? Don’t. Why do we need to constantly be apologizing for things like falling ill or being busy?! For speaking our minds or not agreeing with something? There are definitely times in life when you should apologize, but being yourself or being busy or sick are not on that list.

Why should we apologize for things that are completely out of our control? Why should we apologize for being ourselves? Answer: we shouldn’t.

I think, at least for me, a lot of this has to do with how sure I am of myself. Especially if I’m talking to people above me (professors, superiors at work) I will always apologize or allow them to pile more work on me and take it with a smile. But why? My dad always taught A and I to put our feet down and not let people take advantage of our kindness, and somewhere in the scary adult world, I lost hold of that lesson.

So I’m not sorry. And you shouldn’t be either.

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With love,

K

How To Deal: When You Become an Unintentional Workaholic

I would have never considered myself a workaholic. Work-life balance is gospel to me. GOSPEL. I need to have a healthy bit of life in my life, in order to feel normal. God only knows why I chose to go into advertising (I blame 21-year-old Ambika), but alas here I am. And I love what I do. I really truly love it. But strategizing, and then noodling your strategy, and then re-wording your words, and re-visualizing your visuals can get gnarly.

And considering that even on a normal 9-7pm schedule, my brain turns to mush by EOD, I’ve been living a nightmarish, brain-dead, extreme.

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I know people out there can do it. I have friends who have done it and continue to do it and more power to them because Lord, it is hard (although I guess if you’re making bank it’s probably easier to stomach, i.e. why investment banking still exists).

But regardless of my trials and tribulations, I’ve been doing my damndest to stay positive and on top of my life game. Because with a wedding to plan, a guy to love, and a family that will never stop calling (please don’t, I love you!), no one’s going to let me off easy.

Here are some ways I’ve been staying afloat:

1. Retreating to my work besties. Often.

There is nothing better than a work BFF break during a long work day. They’re like a pool of cold water in the Sahara. A lone umbrella in the rain. A pair of mittens during a blizzard. Those peeps are important peeps, and they will save your sanity time and time again.

2. Planning what I’ll do on my day off when the crazy ends.

This is what I’m thinking right now. Take a day off. Go to Brooklyn. Find this new creepy cool new age store that I’m intrigued by. Purchase a book. Purchase a fancy lunch. Sit and read. With my phone in my purse on DO NOT DISTURB MODE (which if you haven’t discovered I literally don’t know how you live).

3. Getting something really tasty for lunch everyday & keeping treats at my desk.

I had enchiladas FOUR times this week. This is not an exaggeration. And each time, for some reason, my meal got the slightest bit bigger. Oh Guac? Of course! I need chips with that! Oh an ELOTE appetizer? Please. Game over.

4. Sending my fiancé work-selfies.

K can attest to this. I have ONE documented full-face selfie. That shit’s just not my thing. But when it comes to making weird faces at my fiancé – I just can’t resist. And even if he doesn’t respond (which he doesn’t), at least I can have a little (or huge…) laugh at myself and realize that life just isn’t that serious.

5. Not making any plans after work.

For some people, this isn’t a thing. In fact, they need to go to a fancy dinner and then drink cocktails until 4 am to feel better. Not this gurl. I need a cup of chai with fresh ginger, and my bed. Enter apartment. Change into PJS. Wash up as fast as possible. And in.to.bed. NETFLIX.

6. Journaling moments in my crazy as F days that give me a sense of fulfillment.

There are some really good moments in my bad days. Moments when I finally crack a tough question, or figure out the perfect chart (1. you know you’re a strategist when…) to fit the campaign architecture in my head, or help a brudda/sistah out. I can’t lose sight of the things I love about my job. They make the crazy hours feel less crazy.

7. Using whatever downtime I have to write blog posts like this that will make light of my situation.

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Even if it is just plain crazy.

Hope you’re all staying afloat!

Love,

A