still getting the hang of Christmas

I’m spending this early December thinking of the role I want the Christmas season to play in my adult life. Cocktail parties with gold-speckled champagne flutes? My home full of lights and pine needles, friends, card games, Christmas music and mulled wine? Holding hands by the big Christmas tree downtown on the way to the theater? Or maybe an understated — and decidedly pagan — Yule observance spent by the hearth: soft, warm, quiet.

Christmas is rarely easy, isn’t that so? It isn’t for me, anyway. Expectations. (I guess, much like the ones I’m setting up right now.) Hallmark movies and glittering childhood memories that were never made to be lived up to. Our parents really set us up for a lifetime of disappointment with that Santa Claus thing, didn’t they? No December 25th could ever come close to the magic of a believer’s Christmas Eve, that transcendent moment before you bound down the stairs on Christmas morning. Every Christmas since feels like pressing on a faded bruise, landing on old injury that never healed right. The site of a child’s first betrayal, first broken faith. (If they’re lucky, anyway.)

And so I sit by the tree and nurse every heartbreak of mine that never quite healed with a glass of eggnog and bourbon. I do my best to smile through the stories and the familiar old movies and the platters of cheese. I watch the children and try to feel their joy. I tell myself I’m happy, and I suppose I am, but I am also so very sad.

What I do know is that I want music. Laughter. Warmth. The warmth of bodies, the warmth of a house to be welcomed home to, warmth of the food we share with the people we love. The people who love us in our party dresses the night before and the people who love us the next morning, undereye circles and coffee by the window. Bright white sky, early winter light.

This year, I don’t want to feel the ache of Christmases gone, but maybe that’s part of the deal. Living with the hole that joy leaves in your heart once it’s gone. Gently place a sprig of holly there, say a quiet thanks.

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lessons from libra

 

 

Go to the theater or the portrait gallery once every six weeks. It’s good for the complexion.

Sleep in past noon. Serve a multi-course breakfast at four. Play Drake and Fleetwood Mac on the stereo.

Find a book that hooks you and dive in, unashamed. Murder mystery, boarding school, highland romance, post-divorce walkabout? Pick your poison, read past bedtime.

Embrace your paradoxes. Embrace nature’s paradoxes. You can be clever and soft, prickly and gentle, warm but still. It’s beautiful. You’re beautiful.

5 Things I’m Not Buying: October Edition

I’ve realized just how well retail therapy works on me. As a college student, it used to be a tube of nail polish at the end of a particularly hard day of classes, or a particularly gray streak of winter days. (By graduation, my nail kit needed two hands to lift.) Three or four dollars and an instant antidepressant was mine. A new shade of the rainbow now in the palm of my hands, I’d turn the tube of glass over and over again in the pocket of my winter coat on the walk home, savoring the feeling of it in my fingers while dopamine surged through my body.

Years later, lifestyle creep has reared its ugly head. First, I treat myself to an expensive lipstick every few months, maybe a pedicure. Then it’s a shiny trinket in the “sale” section of a website that I just have to have. A $40 thrill. A $15 tiki cocktail in a novelty glass on a weekday, and then another.  An expensive sundress that isn’t on sale at all. (But oh, it takes my breath away when I slice open the package on my doorstep. Linen and the promise of a better version of myself.) And still, it’s not enough. There’s always another bad day.

1. I don’t need a new dress for every wedding that I attend. I love buying a new outfit for a wedding. I take it as a style challenge, painstakingly crafting a new aesthetic for each event. A seaside wedding is an excuse for a coral off-shoulder A-line dress and pearl drop earrings, while the hip industrial loft reception means I pretty much have to buy a pair of vintage gold block heels.

I’m 25 – I attend a lot of weddings. Five this year. That’s five $50-$100 dresses, not including the one I had to purchase as a bridesmaid. That is insane. Someone else’s wedding is not a red carpet event. This weekend I attended a lovely, intimate New England wedding. I could have used that as an excuse to go full Moonrise Kingdom on Modcloth, but instead I wore one of the beautiful dresses already hanging in my closet — and I felt great.

2. There is no miracle skincare product to end all skincare products. Reading about the skincare routines of my favorite actresses and bloggers is one of my guilty pleasures. Suddenly, I’m talking myself into a Vitamin C serum, a turmeric scrub and a bee venom face mask that I ‘m convinced will take my glow to the next level. (Can I just say: Whoever started stealth-marketing face masks as a guilt-free purchase in the name of “self care” is a goddamn genius.)

3. Paying $100 for prescription-less glasses.  This is especially hilarious because I am still paying off my LASIK surgery. That’s right. I don’t even need glasses anymore! After years of coke-bottle lenses that warp my facial features and give me headaches, I’m was dying to pick a pair of glasses that are actually cute for autumn. I will not buy $100 frames just as an accessory. I held out for a sale on eyebuydirect.com, and purchased two frames for $40.

4. Fancy airport meals. I have started to treat an overpriced airport lunch with two glasses of wine as a necessary expense of traveling, instead of a fun treat for myself on vacation. I travel a lot, both for work and for play, and I want to recommit to my thrifty student travel days — pack snacks, and save the booze for happy hour.

5. Fall candles. Wood and spice scented candles are my kryptonite, and they are everywhere. I am still burning through some from last season! I won’t buy anymore until I’m out of the candles I already own, or unless I pay off all my credit cards in full this month.

october’s gifts

Autumn is truly having its ~moment~. The amount of memes on my timeline about pumpkin/flannel/cider/Hocus Pocus/leaves/anything spooky is at an all-time high. No snark! I love to see people reveling in the season, but I wish I had a little more love for the fall myself. I try to feel it, let the energy infect me — but my heart’s just not in it.

When I try to celebrate pulling my sweaters out of their suitcase, all I feel is creeping dread as I pack my sundresses and sandals away for another winter. Months without feeling the sun warming my shoulders. Never quite being able to warm up.  No more people watching while drinking and dining al fresco, no windows open to let in a warm breeze and music from the street. I’ll take a weekend at the lake for the 4th over Halloween weekend any day of the year.

Autumn, for me, is melancholy. It makes me think of dying, of a retreat from joy and light. I’m working to shift my mindset and find ways to find joy in the months to come, but that’s another post.

Right now, I’m just enjoying this gentle transition that October is offering me. Beautiful, cloudless days for walking in the sun. Night slowly creeping into the daytime. Green trees still lush and living, tinged only around the edges with autumn’s palette. I feel her holding my hand, leading me softly into summer’s conclusion. I’m grateful for that: this patience, this grace.

I’m taking time this month to accept and appreciate these last few light-filled gifts of the year. I’ll spend time walking and soaking up the sun, reading and writing on the porch, partaking in and honoring the harvest. I’ll let myself be charged so that I might be better able to radiate that light from within in the coming months, when I’ll need it most.

meditation on virgo

Virgo is sexy and possessed. Woman-made lingerie while pouring a glass of wine and buttering a croissant with pesto from the garden over the sink.

Self-reflect. Summer winds down into its best, most dog-day iteration. Long, sweaty evenings watching dusk fade with a chill you haven’t felt in months. The perfect time to introspect.

Fall in love again. Not quite the same love as in the heat of summer (sweat making a tight tee a little see-through, a few too many Cuba Libres, a dance floor rendezvous), but the kind of love found in quiet companionship and things unsaid. Fall in love with your partner, fall in love with your sister, fall in love with your cat, fall in love with yourself.

I’ve felt the shift into Virgo so strongly — I feel more focused on work (both in my career and in my personal life), more productive, more able to visualize my goals. I feel a little more grounded, a little more present. I love an earth sign. Not quite on purpose, I had an earthy symbol tattooed on me as we shifted into Virgo. That feels right.

August was incredibly difficult for me, in ways I couldn’t have predicted. At a few points last month, I felt sure that I had been lost. I see now how the work I have been doing on myself steadied me, even when I didn’t realize it. Trust. I am learning to trust the process, trust my guides, trust myself.

big leo mood

 

I had a lot of fun compiling these images! Leo season, for me, represents the pleasure center of summer. Late nights grooving in a Brooklyn basement, body glitter and birthday cake, fluorescent popsicles, caffeine and cocktails flavored with pineapple, strawberry, lime, coconut. Leo season is the time to dance on a table, give someone a piece of your mind and wear your hair like the crown it is, honey. This summertime glow (anyone else feel their best when they’re a little freckled, bronzed and dewy?) and sundress season has me feeling a little vain, but Leos like Madonna, J.Lo, Coco Chanel and Kylie Jenner would all tell you: it ain’t a crime to feel yourself.

PLAYLIST: catching feels in crab season

some moody music i’ve been bumping all july, featuring bubblegum-flavored nostalgia, music for moping in the shower and bopping around during a homey happy hour. (am i the only one who calls a glass of wine or two on the porch happy hour? )

feels.jpg

featuring the king and kween of cancer season: lana del rey and frank ocean. no summer would be complete with their special brand of warm weather drama.

water sign #mood

 

this year, i am reveling in cancer season. this is new for me — stubborn earth sun sign, impatient fire moon sign. maybe it’s my cancer partner (and he is oh so very cancer), but during this cycle, are falling into place through water, through outpourings of emotion, through indulging in nostalgia, through holing up in sacred home spaces.

i write this from the seashore, and it’s amazing how *new* i feel in the space of a few days. i ground in the sand while watching the little ones in the waves, the sound of the surf in my ears. the sun makes me feel alive, tired, radiant. my life in fluorescent offices and in the shades of high rises makes me forget that I feel most myself with a bronzed glow on my cheeks.

(come back  from the shore, take a shower, paint on coral lips and a little black dress for a night out. a live band, a glass or three of white wine and the shrimp and scallop pasta dish.)

am i fulfilled, am i content, am i free of fear and self-doubt and anxiety? no, no, hell no. but i’m feeling a little more present, and that feels like a gift right now. (a present? ha.)