WO: Weekly Obsessions

The sun is shining, the birds are singing and I couldn’t be happier today. Confession: That’s all a lie but if I keep telling myself it’s true, then it’ll all be OK, right? Right.

Image Credits Listed Below

  1. Reformer Pilates: I had my first-ever turn at reformer pilates last weekend, thanks to a new friend, who happens to be a super fit instructor. The machines helped me stretch beyond my wildest dreams, and I felt lengthened and strengthened — while also relaxed. I’ll definitely be returning for another class soon. Pro tip: Don’t try this the day after an abs boot camp 😉
  2. Sweetbitter: This novel kept popping up on Goodreads, but I bought it late last year without ever committing. The good news: It’s a very quick read, with lots of characters and a peek into the (fictional) NYC restaurant world. The bad: I didn’t find the main character particularly likeable, and all of the food talk made me so, so hungry! Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think.
  3. Aziz Ansari Hosts SNL: This may be premature praise, but Aziz Ansari will host this week’s SNL and I couldn’t be more excited. Modern Romance was one of the best books I’ve read in recent years, and I thoroughly enjoyed his Treat Yo’self bourgie boy Tom Haverford on “Parks & Recreation,” plus his brainchild on Netflix, “Master of None.” Don’t disappoint me, Aziz. Pleeease.
  4. “Starboy” – The Weeknd: It’s pretty rare that I like a song based on beat alone, without even bothering to hear or understand the lyrics. Well, The Weeknd has me hooked — despite my initial resistance after a fellow Halloween reveler insisted it be played on repeat. I’ve come around and now find myself bopping along mindlessly.

Unrelated, but I’ve recently made my personal Twitter account public, so I’ll be deleting the blog’s Twitter account. No sense managing two, right? Follow wittyburg before I delete wittyburgblog on Feb. 1!

Images courtesy of: The Pad, Goodreads, Business Insider, Wikipedia

30 Before 30

In honor of my upcoming 30th birthday, I’ve researched countless “things to do before 30” lists. And while there are plenty to choose from, I kept coming back to “Thirty Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30.”

The List was originally published in Glamour by columnist Pamela Redmond Satran in 1997. Over the next 30 weeks, I’ll be tackling each item on The List and reflecting about it here… publicly (gulp). I hope you enjoy and we can grow together. After all, turning older is a privilege denied to many.

Image Courtesy of Scottsdale Area Association of REALTORS

By 30, you should have…

  1. The realization that you are actually going to have an old age — and some money set aside to help fund it.

Money, money, money. We all love it. We all use it. But we don’t always love to discuss it.

After moving to Manhattan, and eventually San Francisco, I’ve become more comfortable talking about finances. Part of it is my age. Part of it is living in two of America’s most expensive cities, where you find yourself constantly chatting with friends about rising rent rates, cab fare and what you owe each other on Venmo.

Still, it was a relief to see this week’s passage, written by finance guru Suze Orman. She shares her five essential rules for getting on track financially — and feeling all the more empowered and beautiful for it.

Suze’s rules:

  1. Come clean about money.
    From my perspective, it’s been easy enough to nail this one down. It’s not pretty nor fun, but I’ve come to terms with my debts and set a plan in place last year to get as close to debt-free before 30 as I could. Some speed bumps have come along the way since then, but I’m still acutely aware — and realistic — about my bills and what lifestyle I can afford.
  1. Give to yourself as much as you give of yourself.
    This rule is an especially difficult one for women, as Suze notes, “Women… give, give, give — to their friends, their significant other, their spouse, their kids, their pets, their plants — even to stranger on the street.” And while I do my best to donate to my favorite causes and help others in need, I’ve also been burned countless times from failing to see loans repaid, which only puts me in dire straits. Before giving to others, we must put ourselves (and our future) first by removing debts, paying bills on time and saving for our retirement.
  1. Know how to ask for a raise and get it.
    I was speaking this weekend with a longtime friend about job opportunities and compensation packages. She hadn’t ever really had to negotiate for a higher offer, so I shared some advice: The worst they can say is “No.” I learned — sometimes the hard way — that $10,000 to a company is not often a lot on its bottom line. But to an individual, that’s peace of mind and the motivation to do your very best at a place that supports you. Whether it’s with more equity, a signing bonus or agreed-upon (and written-down) biannual merit reviews, do what you have to do to feel secure.
  1. Live below your means but above your needs.
    Ah, the age-old problem of wanting to keep up with the Joneses. Or as our modern society knows it, Facebook Life. Do I envy friends who’ve traveled to Asia and Africa, who’ve purchased new cars or homes? Of course. But I also know 1) I can’t currently afford that lifestyle, and 2) I’ll go bankrupt if I try to live everyone else’s Facebook life. I’m content with my travels for now; I don’t currently have the bankroll to invest in a home or car — then spend $400/month on parking, let alone a car payment, gas, insurance, maintenance and paid parking for anywhere else but my building. Being realistic about what I can afford, treating myself when I can… those are the things that’ll get me closer to debt-free and financially sound.
  1. Be your own financial advisor.
    This is Suze’s final point, and for good reason. She reminds us, “Nobody is going to care about your money more than you do.” She shares a personal example of how she invested hard-earned cash into an advisor, who turned out to be crooked, and the money vanished in a matter of months. How did she become the Suze Orman we know and love today? She took a job with Merrill Lynch and got herself back on track. It wasn’t easy, but it sure was worth it. Believing in ourselves, educating ourselves and trusting ourselves to take care of our money better than anyone else is the way to go.

Let’s make this topic a fun one — or at least one we don’t feel the need to whisper about? What are your best tips for saving money? What’s a money mistake you’ve made (and learned from)?

Image Courtesy of Huffington Post

WO: Weekly Obsessions

I’ve heard this is San Francisco’s rainiest month, but we got exactly 0.0” of rain last January — so imagine my surprise with seemingly nonstop showers! Aside from giving me an excuse to use my umbrella, trench coats and wellies, I’m kind of over it. Today’s brief relief is a tease… we’re set to receive another round of rain tonight. All this to say: It’s a good thing my dad wasn’t actually a meteorologist.

Image Credits Listed Below

  1. A Sun Basket Soup: Is there any better rainy-day meal than soup? I submit there is not. A co-worker brought this soup in yesterday, so I decided to recreate it at home. (I modified by using frozen meatless meatballs instead of ground turkey, and kale instead of escarole.) I’ve got at least three servings of leftovers and it was the perfect comfort food during last night’s torrential downpour. Ps, I still love Blue Apron! Can’t we all just get along?
  2. theSkimm: I’m suuuper late to the game here, but I’ve enjoyed this for the past few months and am finally ready to share. In a world full of fake news, plus more information than ever to digest, theSkimm makes it so easy to stay informed. Get bite-size hits of news in an easy-to-digest weekday email. Food analogies aside, use my referral link to sign up yourself. I promise, it’ll make your mornings simply smarter.
  3. Jawbone Jambox: Shameless plug alert! I know it’s hard to reach a point in Netflix bingeing where you have to step away, but cabin fever will do that to you. Enter the Jawbone Jambox, a cute lil’ wireless speaker that connects to Bluetooth and more. I’ve found myself turning off the TV and working seamlessly through endless playlists, coming in crystal clear. Bonus: The black and gold design is oh so chic.
  4. “Call on Me” – Starley: Currently blasting from said Jambox is this incredibly catchy tune — the video for which is just as uplifting. I don’t know if it’s her beautiful voice, bright smile, brag-worthy hair or the hypnotic beat, but I can’t seem to stop putting it on repeat. I have no doubt this debut is set to go far, and be the start of Starley’s illustrious music career.

Images courtesy of: Sun Basket, theSkimm Blog, Polyvore, SoundCloud

30 Before 30

In honor of my upcoming 30th birthday, I’ve researched countless “things to do before 30” lists. And while there are plenty to choose from, I kept coming back to “Thirty Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30.”

The List was originally published in Glamour by columnist Pamela Redmond Satran in 1997. Over the next 30 weeks, I’ll be tackling each item on The List and reflecting about it here… publicly (gulp). I hope you enjoy and we can grow together. After all, turning older is a privilege denied to many.

By 30, you should have…

6. A past juicy enough that you’re looking forward to retelling it in your old age.

Ayana Byrd began this week’s chapter describing her affinity for staying safe in the middle, never veering too far from the center to make waves.

I didn’t immediately relate. I’ve often considered myself somewhat of a rebel — or at least the black sheep — of my family. After all, I’m the only one who has a facial piercing (my nose, but it counts)! I’m the only one of my generation (until very recently) to get a tattoo — and at that, I have multiple. The horror! I’m the only one who left Florida to pursue a life beyond the Sunshine State.

This is where Ayana and I connect. She detailed her many adventures abroad, feeling limitless as she ventured far beyond the comfort zone of the middle.

It’s always surprised me when someone compliments me on my own big moves. I haven’t given them all that much thought, until now.

New York and San Francisco are largely made up of transplants. Sure, you have your lifers, the people who are quick to remind you they were born and raised there, and will call you out for any embarrassing transplant behavior. But by and large, there are tons of people in both places who’ve moved into these cities for the pursuit of something more. And probably because of that, I haven’t felt like my leaving Florida was all that big a deal. Plenty of people do it. Heck, lots of my colleagues have traveled much further — and risked much more — to come here.

But I shouldn’t lessen its importance, or how much those moves have changed me. Compared to my colleagues and friends, and yes, Ayana Byrd, I’ve done a paltry amount of traveling abroad. But aside from family who served in the Armed Forces, I’ve got the most stamps on my passport.

And without even leaving my zip code, I can see the world in a much more diverse way — challenging the status quo constantly — because I live and breathe in a city that pushes for progress and change.

I’ve had the privilege of learning about more cultures and backgrounds in four years away than I had in the 25 years prior. I’ve experimented with foreign (to me) ingredients, entertainment, customs and traditions. I’ve broadened my perspective on what an impact a life well-traveled can mean. I even spent seven weeks of the last year traveling — albeit, all domestic — because I can always find a reason to say “Yes” to a new experience.

Ayana’s story reminds me there’s so much to say “Yes” to, beyond the 50 states and how it’s OK to be a little scared the first (or every) time you venture somewhere new. Of all my wild and crazy antics, I’ll happily share a full passport and broader understanding of our world for years to come.

WO: Weekly Obsessions

WO: Weekly Obsessions 288

2017 is kicking my butt so far, and not in a good way. I’ve been down for the count for most of it, thanks to a gnarly sinus infection I should have seen coming. I wouldn’t dare list Benadryl, nasal spray and countless naps in this week’s obsessions, so here’s about all I can muster:

wo_288

  1. Mariah Carey: The diva to end all divas certainly rung in the New Year with a memorable performance on live TV. While countless performances are backed with audio tracks — especially in a place as raucous as Times Square on NYE — I just loved Mariah’s “f— it” attitude and her closing remark: “It just doesn’t get any better.” Considering she carries a tune better than most of the world, I gotta give it to her for embracing the disaster with a sense of humor.
  2. Being Cinderella on NYE: OK, so I didn’t realize it was a full-blown sinus infection that had me barely keeping my eyes open at midnight. All I knew was, I didn’t want to be stuck paying $60 to get the 2 miles home to my apartment from a friend’s party. And you know what? Being Cinderella paid off. I requested an Uber at 12:01am, was home by 12:25am and paid just $12. No glass slippers required.
  3. “Moana”: My mom, sister-in-law and I took my toddler niece to see this latest Disney hit (for her second showing), and it was great fun for the kids and adults alike. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the perfectly modest Maui — ha!— and newcomer Auli’i Cravalho makes a shining debut as the titular princess. The soundtrack isn’t half bad either, thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s continued creative genius.
  4. “How Far I’ll Go” – Moana: Speaking of, this song has been stuck in my head since we saw the movie almost two weeks ago. If that doesn’t scream “earworm,” I don’t know what does. I promise it’s not the cold medicine that makes it so catchy. Go on, have a listen. Then, listen to Alessia Cara’s full version. And as Maui would humbly say, “You’re welcome.”

Images courtesy of: Business Insider, LJR Paideia, Disney, Just Jared

30 Before 30

In honor of my upcoming 30th birthday, I’ve researched countless “things to do before 30” lists. And while there are plenty to choose from, I kept coming back to “Thirty Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30.”

The List was originally published in Glamour by columnist Pamela Redmond Satran in 1997. Over the next 30 weeks, I’ll be tackling each item on The List and reflecting about it here… publicly (gulp). I hope you enjoy and we can grow together. After all, turning older is a privilege denied to many.

By 30, you should have…

5. A youth you’re content to move beyond.

This week’s essay, written by ZZ Packer, particularly resonated with me at the onset of this New Year. Packer writes about a boyfriend she loved in her youth — and his tragic death years later, when they’d each married other partners and had children and lived a million new truths since.

Packer writes, “Most of us fear that in growing old, we’ll become a shell of ourselves. But, of course, it’s the youthful versions of ourselves that are our shells; we must leave them behind like a snakeskin.”

It’s all too easy to be wistful about getting older — there are so many things we haven’t done or seen or accomplished in this past trip around the sun. We don’t always see aging as an opportunity to continue to grow, and to be OK with leaving some of our past behind. It doesn’t mean we’re losing who we are; it means we’re gaining who we’ve become.

I look at the mistakes and memories of my life up until now, and hindsight will forever remain 20/20. There are choices I’d maybe make differently, or not, because then those lessons might not have been learned. I’d love to have avoided the heartbreak or hurt, but again, those fractures have helped make me who I am today, scars and all.

I certainly never wanted high school or college to be “the best time of my life,” because that would mean I wasn’t living in the best time; I’d have already peaked, so to speak. I know not every day (or week, month or even year) will be my best ever, but I hope each chapter of life brings new excitement and positivity I haven’t yet experienced.

And while I’m fully ready to move beyond the zits and drama my younger self endured, I hope my future self is shaping up to be a woman who can look back at 30, 60, 90 (please?), and be content with all she’s done and seen and accomplished.

Like Packer believes, I too aim to “grow old gratefully, not gracefully.” She continues, “… youth is not the blossom, but the bud; and though one cannot always be young and wild, if you are willing to learn, to grow, to outrun the mileposts of your own wildest dreams, you can always be winsome and lucky, lovely and free.”

Give me a good theme and watch me work.

Resolving 2016

2016 was a garbage dumpster year, start to finish. It began with my (now ex-) boyfriend being sick last-minute and unable to celebrate with me. He insisted I carry through our plans to attend a couples’ party. On New Year’s Eve. Alone.

He then dumped me 3 days before my birthday, but I still went on my scheduled 4th of July in Tahoe couples’ trip. For my 29th birthday. Alone.

I returned to SF and was spit on by a homeless man that day. And lost my 80-day meditation streak. Namaste.

All of this pales — of course — in comparison to the traumas and tragedies that shook our world this year. Terrorist attacks, hate crimes, unfathomable violence, ignorant and misinformed movements, Brexit and Trump’s election, more celebrity deaths than I can even recall.

I lost a friend to brain cancer. I lost another to kidney failure. But friends lost their spouses and siblings and parents and children. They experienced pain I can only imagine, pain I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

I also gained a niece. I gained more vacation time than ever. I gained friends through various volunteer and social efforts. I gained understanding beyond the SF bubble about just how marginalized so many feel.

So in an effort to resolve the shitty-shit-shit of a year this was, I’m turning what I can into positive can-dos:

  • Understand the world: I traveled more than ever this year, but it was all domestic and I’m itching for stamps on my passport in 2017. If I can make it to Asia, South America or parts of Europe I haven’t been, I hope to gain a broader view of how millions of people live. What experiences are part of their everyday lives? What can I do to understand my privilege more, both at home and abroad?
  • Spend smarter: All of that travel left me in some tight financial spots, as I sometimes neglect to budget for living in the most expensive U.S. city. Rather than “Say Yes” to everything (which went full-force after my breakup), I need to be thoughtful about what each Yes costs me. I don’t ever want to be in a position where I can’t donate to my favorite causes or help those in need, so a finance fine-tooth comb is in order. First up: I’ll be the last person in SF to stop paying for cable!
  • Use my voice: I tend to shut down during heated discussion and debates, often because I feel most are set in their ways and not willing to listen — only shout their perspectives. I see, though, how damaging silence can be. I choose to approach 2017 thoughtfully: speaking up when I feel compelled, understanding I may be the only one listening in a dialogue, and removing myself when necessary. I don’t have to be vocal on every single thing I care about, but I can use my voice with conviction, knowing I’ve done my research and will remain respectful.
  • Take care of myself: The quintessential resolution is getting a makeover of its own from me at midnight. Yes, I’d love to finally hit my goal weight. But more important, I’d like to feel as good about myself as I do after a Toastmasters speech or a volunteer event. From continuing meditation streaks and therapy sessions, eating foods that nourish my body, challenging myself with new fitness goals and being cognizant of my needs in a relationship, I can take on any garbage dumpster 2017 throws at me.

What are your resolutions for 2017? As always, you’ll inspire me to be the best Wittyburg I can be.

And however you’re celebrating the New Year, please be safe out there. Here’s an actual rendering from the future, of me at midnight:

Image Courtesy of Bitmoji

Cheers!