Cheers to 2016

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New Year’s Eve – an evening filled with excessive dancing, champagne showers, and of course jello-shots made with “edible” glitter. It was a memorable night to end yet another year with the people that mean the most to me – plus a bunch of randoms who were oddly persistent in recruiting people to play flip-cup. Who are you again?

Whether you’re the type to lay low on a couch silently judging those who proudly sing along to every song that plays or you prefer to dominate the beer pong table, who cares as long as you enjoyed yourself. My friends and I are the ones who obnoxiously danced and sang, like always. Especially when our “fam” song from the summer came on and the guys felt the need to belt it out as we all swayed as if we were back at the ZBB concert together.

We may be aggressive but at least we’re always laughing.

Every year people make new resolutions to try to better themselves and alter some aspect of their lives. If this is the push some people need to initiate change, that’s great. But why does it just have to be this day? Why can’t we all better ourselves everyday as we slowly discover who we are?

I’ve heard of people making resolutions in the form of a single word. The word they choose will act as a reminder every day, something they can strive to embody or pursue. The word can be anything from love or happiness to courage and travel. I love this idea.

Recognizing what you want out of the upcoming year is important for everyone to do, and choosing a word will help you get to where you want to be. Making resolutions has never been a priority of mine. I tend to focus more on my NYE outfit as opposed to one resolution I want to stand by. It’s definitely a personality trait but I prefer to focus on a word or maybe even a phrase that can affect all aspects of my life – a consistent reminder.

Changes are essential in one’s life, as I have written about before, and they are necessary throughout the entire year depending on what occurs in your life. A resolution may be an ideal starting point, but you must continue to adapt and make adjustments as the year goes on. It can even be fun, if you have the right outlook.

“Living vicariously through myself” is a phrase I recently saw that seemed perfectly fitting for what I want to accomplish in 2016. It’s a reminder to continue living my life for myself and doing what excites me – all while embracing who I’m becoming.

No matter what type of resolution you choose to make or what word you pick as a daily reminder, may this year bring you nothing but happiness and more enjoyable memories! And may you have genuine loved ones and friends that feel like family to see you through the good and not so great times that lie ahead.

Cheers to 2016! Remember to live for yourself.

XOXO – Autumn

PS. I hope you surprise yourself too.

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The Magic of Christmas

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Christmas Eve, the day where the magic of Christmas begins and endless amounts of family time commences. It’s supposed to be a day of blissful happiness filled with last minute preparations for tomorrow – right?

Just like you see in the commercials, the festive mom running around the grocery store trying to pick out the perfect holiday honey ham while the dad proudly turns on his Christmas lights in the front yard for all of the neighbors to see. (who also have fully decorated houses with blinking lights that sync to the song Jingle Bells)

A picture perfect lifestyle indeed.

Realistic? As far as my experience goes, definitely not. My mom is a pro at getting all of the Christmas gifts for the family early on, beating the crowds, and perfectly wrapping them to go under our tree. But I don’t wake up to the smell of freshly baked muffins or a spotless house ready to host a party at any given time. My dad doesn’t decorate the outside of our house anymore either, except for a wreath on our front door which I do love. My parents are getting to that point in their life where they say “this is our house and we can live in it the way we want.” I blame old age.

It’s taken me awhile to understand. The “this is our house” line angers me like no other. But as the holidays have approached, and their ways have remained unchanged, it has put the importance of the holidays into greater perspective for me.

I’ve always known that gifts are not the point of Christmas, obviously. Nor is a mess-free house or a surplus of cookies. My favorite part is honestly traveling to my grandparents’ houses and walking in to see everyone smiling, as my dad and brother struggle to carry the laundry baskets overflowing with gifts. We’re all greeted in the doorway until someone yells “shut the door! It’s freezing out there!” I’ll see the tree all decorated and hear my younger cousins talking about some random game they all seem to love. Instant happiness.

It’s loud, it’s messy, and it’s warmed with love – our beautifully chaotic Christmas.

I’ve had people in my life who aren’t as fortunate to have such a loving family, despite what their pictures look like. Their houses may be spotless and their outfits may be matching but their happiness isn’t as real as they portray it to be. Knowing the truth behind their pictures is sad but it makes me appreciate my non-photogenic holidays a little more. (although we do clean up real nice)

So yes, I miss my family traditions that have changed over time but I’m realizing now more than ever the blessings that come with accepting those changes. There may not be snow on the ground this year, and our crazy days may not be picture perfect, but at least our smiles are always genuine.

Cheers to another memorable Christmas to come! May your smiles be genuine and your hearts be full, along with your bellies.

I’ll be wishing for a white Christmas,

XOXO – Autumn

Expectations

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Vietnam Memorial, Boston

I was recently working the desk at my college dorm when I overheard a girl talking to her friends, “Just don’t set your expectations high, that’s what I do, and I’m never really disappointed.” She was referring to her finals as she headed off to take them in her baggy sweatpants and a messy bun, searching for a mindset that would make her feel okay no matter what the outcome may be.

I’ve heard this advice before, “don’t have high expectations and you’ll never be disappointed,” but it’s never sat well with me. Why lower your expectations? I understand that disappointment is a feeling we all want to avoid but sometimes it’s inevitable.

In my experience, true disappointment occurs when you fail at getting something you really wanted or tried your best but had little success. Whether it’s excessively studying for a final and then barely passing the exam, losing a relationship that no longer fits into your life, or even failing to get the job you thought you were perfect for, this shouldn’t lower the expectations you set for yourself.

My senior year of high school I was captain of the Varsity Volleyball team and we worked our asses off. This lead to an undefeated season, close-knit friendships, and an unforgettable year. I never thought I’d experience disappointment with this team until we unexpectedly lost the State Championship game. It was heartbreaking. Whether it was because of an unexpected injury or not we still lost and it still hurt, a lot.

This loss didn’t make me want to lower my expectations for achieving goals or winning though. If anything it made me want to do that much better in the future.

Disappointment can be intimidating. Nobody wants to experience it but at some point we all have to, whether we’re ready or not. Your expectations shouldn’t suffer just because you don’t want to feel upset or move on. The higher your expectations the greater the things you’ll be able to achieve.

Why limit yourself?

The girl in the baggy sweatpants may have just been talking about her outlook on finals but this mindset is one that carries over into all aspects of your life. It’s truly important to continue to believe that you deserve the best in anything you take on. This leads to hard work and great accomplishments.

Disappointment is strongly related to the fear of failure and neither of these should have a place in the hearts of those who want greatness in their life. Don’t be afraid to “dream big and keep going,” as my Pepere once said to me (which completely melted my heart).

The expectations you set for yourself are a direct reflection of who you are. What kind of person do you want to be?

XO -Autumn

 

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Finals Week Snowfall

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Fanueil Hall Christmas Tree Lighting, Boston

December may be here but where’s the snow? I miss the feeling that comes with a snowfall. The romantic white snowflakes flow through the sky and coat the worn out ground, temporarily covering the dirt and fallen leaves. Snow creates a peacefulness like no other, even in the busy cities it somehow silences the noise.

I’ve always struggled to find a year round type of snowfall, something that has the power to overcome my mind – or should I say the thoughts constantly racing through it. With finals week here I become even more aware of my inability to stop them. “Should I do one of my papers now or study?”  “Did I reply to that e-mail?” “I need food.” “Submit your internship apps!” 

I may not think I’m stressed, due to the fact that I’m always planning and preparing, but I feel it overcoming me more often than not.

Freshman year I found yoga, thankfully. I rely on those classes every week to escape my thoughts…or at least try to. I’ll be doing great, focusing on my breathing, and then unexpectedly find myself going through my to-do list while I’m sweating in downward dog.

Why can’t I let myself have a break? The constant need for perfection, that must be it. At least that’s what my mom always says, “You need to learn how to unwind, you put too much pressure on yourself.” Thanks mom, I wish, and I’m trying.

I wholeheartedly believe that taking care of yourself is a top priority. If you’re not happy or healthy how do you expect to succeed?

Working out makes me feel good about myself and distracts me from my workload for awhile. Netflix, dare I say it, is the best distraction sometimes to completely forget about what’s racing through my mind. Books are very similar too. They both get me to focus on something else entirely, usually making me laugh which is a plus.

My favorite relief for those stressful weeks? My friends. Take time to see the people who make you smile. They’ll help to lessen your stress without you even realizing it. I even do homework with my friends, knowing we’re all working towards the same goal of crushing our finals. Being surrounded by people who want to thrive just like you is great motivation.

You can try all of these things to wind down but we all know some days we have to continue on through the stress. Most importantly, forgive yourself on those days you feel overwhelmed. Handle one thing at a time and know by the end of the week you’ll be done with it all.

Finals week has the power to break you but you don’t have to let it.

Good luck everyone! The snow should be here soon.

XO – Autumn

 

Flawless

Flawless program

Last night was one of the first times I have stayed in on a Saturday and it was surprisingly refreshing. It wasn’t exactly by choice, as I was working, but before that I had the pleasure of hosting a program for my freshman residents. Yes, I’m an RA. I called the program Flawless and the result was more than I could have hoped for.

The point of the program was to allow students to reflect on themselves. They each wrote down five things that they consider flaws followed by five attributes, either physical or pertaining to personality, that they love and are proud of. The final result was to pick their favorite qualities, write them down on various pieces of colored paper, and hang them by their mirrors as a reminder of their worth everyday.

Many of the girls focused on the physical, as that seems to be the common theme in our society. I loved seeing them proudly hold up their signs that said “Big Booty” “Hair” and of course “Thick Thighs”. It was great to see this type of empowerment already instilled within many of the residents and they had no shame flaunting it. What really struck me was how long it took some of the girls to write down qualities that they love about themselves. Everyone was able to quickly jot down their flaws – maybe to get it over with – or maybe because those qualities are what they typically focus on when they look in the mirror.

I had girls thanking me by the end of the program because it was that eye-opening for them. I had no idea it would make that great of an impact. I have always been raised in a household with a mother who tells me I am beautiful as I roll out of bed, no make-up to cover the blemishes, and hair thrown in a bun. Her consistent compliments in both my physical appearance and personality has given me a confidence that I carry with me everyday. I have learned to be kind to myself, despite the days where I feel a little more insecure because of my skin. You are your biggest critic and it’s so important to realize that early on so you ease up on your own harsh judgement.

Everyone deserves to feel confident. We live in a world that analyzes every aspect of who we are and we are constantly told to better ourselves. Yes, it is important to better yourself and strive for the best but that can only happen if you accept and love who you are. I am thankful for the people in my life who boost my confidence and this program was the perfect reminder that even strangers can have an impact on how you view yourself.

So if you have loved ones or people you admire, let them know. A simple, genuine, “you look great today” may be just the compliment they need to make their day worthwhile. We all have flaws – we may never be completely satisfied with ourselves – but there is no reason to dwell in that mindset when you could instead be strutting across the campus quad with a smile on your face because you know you look real good.

Be kind, especially to yourself.

XO – Autumn

Let’s Call it Brunch

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Marble Head with my favorite brother

“Mimosas!!” My mom excitedly texted me as we discussed the plans for my upcoming birthday brunch. I wanted to host some type of party, like we do every year for my birthday, but I finally felt that turning twenty-one was the cut off for decking the house out in balloons and streamers (even though I will always secretly love that). What could we host so that I could still be graced by my crazy family’s presence but not qualify as a birthday party? A brunch of course.

It was perfect timing really. I had a long weekend to come home from Boston and have an early birthday celebration with my family and friends. My parents were true angels prepping for the brunch and getting everything I had hoped for, especially the croissants – my favorite. I woke up early in the morning on Saturday, well 9:00am, but I surprisingly didn’t struggle to leave the warmth of my bed knowing I’d soon be surrounded by yummy food and all of my family.

That’s my favorite part about hosting parties at my house, hearing the voices get louder and feeling the rooms get cozier as everyone arrives. I love the way my cousins’ faces light up as they walk in the door and are greeted and hugged by all. Or the way my aunts and memeres instantly ask if they can help with anything while my uncle’s greet one another with a friendly handshake, beer in hand. All the grandparents tend to congregate in the living room making it easy to tell them about my college adventures only once. They always lean in closer to hear each other better but it makes me chuckle cause they’re still unknowingly yelling as they swap stories.

Family parties can definitely be stressful, especially if you have a daughter like me who likes everything a certain way. I always have expectations of how I want things to go and I am lucky that my parents have learned to tolerate me over the years. That’s not to say we didn’t have a couple of tiffs setting up for the brunch that morning. “I’ve done way more than you!” seems to be our go-to line as we debate who should do the last few things on the to-do list. I have to admit that my brother helps out the most, when asked, and bitches the least. It takes all four of us to get the house party ready but somehow we always manage to smile and laugh together before everyone arrives. I know I have my brother’s music selection to thank for drawing the smiles out and lightening the mood.

The planning and tension beforehand is totally worth the joy of seeing everyone enjoying themselves. I love the closeness of my family and I cherish the times when we can all take breaks from our busy lives to get together. I love the genuine hugs, the guessing game of who gets to eat the last deviled-egg, and all of the stories that are told, both new and old. So thank you mom, dad, and Garrett for making my last “birthday-party” a memorable one, you’re truly the best.

Cheers to the official countdown until my 21st birthday…Oct 16th I’m ready for ya!

XOXO – Autumn

“This is my Best Friend”

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The concept of best friend is one that is foreign to most people.  I hear girls introducing their newly found friend of two months as their best friend, without hesitation, and it baffles me.  I strongly believe that the title of best friend is one that should be earned and not given out to the people who happen to be the most relevant in your life at the time.

A best friend is not someone you have known for only a few weeks and have the same taste in music and favorite drink as.  No.  A best friend is somebody who knows what you’re thinking when you aren’t saying anything.  They know your heart, your passions, and of course your taste in clothing. If you are blessed to have life-long friends than they most definitely know your order at your favorite local food places too.  It’s little things like this that give somebody the right to be called your genuine best friend.

I have grown to learn that finding those few close friends does happen faster in your college years.  This is probably due to the timing of our lives. We’re all striving to attain our dreams while simultaneously letting loose together on the days when life becomes overwhelming. We are sharing very similar experiences and are more confident in who we are, naturally gravitating towards people who seek that same thrill in life – in whatever that may be.

This is not to say that new friends who identify as best friends do not share an authentic friendship (although you’ll probably have a new “best friend” next month) but rather to recognize the difference in these types of friends compared to life long friends. Until you have cried together, eaten unnecessary amounts of food together, and answered their phone calls at 3:00am you do not understand the true meaning of genuine friendship.

Friendships need love and attention just like any other valuable relationship. Being a best friend never feels like work however, because involving yourselves in each other’s lives is nothing short of a gift.

So please, don’t taint the meaning behind best friend by continuing to throw it around as if it holds no depth. Cheers to the people who know the true meaning behind these words and here’s hoping others will soon find those friends whom make this relevant to their lives.

XO – Autumn

Fading into Fall

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I saw one of the last country concerts of the summer this past weekend and I think it’s safe to say fall is right around the corner.  This season of apple cider and pumpkin everything tends to bring up all kinds of feelings for people, especially when it comes to the heart.  The cooler weather and trendy activities (hellooo apple picking) can definitely make the idea of being in a couple more appealing.  Single vibes will be fading as quickly as the summer weather.

In the midst of all the changes it is important to hold onto the confidence that makes you who you are.  It may be easy to question yourself when you feel like your crush isn’t exactly into you, but you must not spend too much time wondering “why”.  This question will only drive you crazy and cause you to lose sight of yourself and that’s just no good.  Figuring out who you want to be with, or if you even want to be with anyone, is supposed to be fun.  Going on dates and getting to know new people is part of finding what makes you happy.  Traditional dates are less common these days due to our technologically driven generation, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to wait for one.

The whole dating cycle can be both frustrating and confusing at times.  This is exactly why you need to find happiness within yourself before you let someone else in.  What do you desire? What dreams are you currently striving towards?  Is he/she really worth it?

You should be too busy creating your own vibrant life to care what your crush thinks of it.  If someone is supposed to fit into your life, you will know soon enough based on their effort and interest in you.  You may not need a cuddle buddy for these upcoming seasons, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be nice to enjoy another person’s company.  It is never a bad thing to follow your heart if you continue to love and respect yourself while doing so.

Find yourself, embrace all of your qualities, be happy, and let things unfold.  Also, definitely go apple picking.

XO – Autumn

“You know who the person is who is going to give you everything? Yourself.” – DVF

Never Settle

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Biddo Pool summer ’15

Deleted my twitter app and queued in summer. After all, it is the season designated to refreshing ourselves is it not? It is said that every summer has a story but it is not entirely understood what defines these unique stories. Is it how many crazy parties you went to? How tan you were able to get from your countless beach days? Or maybe it’s something more productive; like how much money you earned or what type of impression you made at your internship? Either way, I believe that a combination of many moments are what make for a memorable summer, but most importantly it comes down to who you spend your summer with.

Growing up in a smaller town has allowed for close-knit friendships with the same people year after year. Some may dislike the lack of options when it comes to choosing friends, and in most cases I can see why. It is crucial to surround yourself with people who allow you to grow and explore who you are. These types of friends can typically be difficult to find, especially in small towns.

I am blessed to say that I have a solid group of friends who not only make my days more memorable but unknowingly give me continuous strength to be who I am. My friends and I all possess very different personalities but what brings us together is the likeness of our hearts. This group dynamic of diverse mindsets and interests is why I never get tired of being with the same people. We continue to challenge one another through our difference in opinions while always managing to make each other laugh. There is a comfort in knowing that the people I invest my time and love into genuinely care about me as much as I do them.

This is mostly a shout out to my hometown friends who help shape my adventurous summers and are always looking out for my happiness; but I feel that it is important to share the message of never settling when it comes to choosing the people you allow into your life. It is natural to feed off of other people’s energies and this is why it is necessary to associate with people who have your best interest at heart. These should be the friends that make you feel comfortable in your own skin. They should support you and your crazy dreams and be as genuine as your own heart.

I believe that it is better to be alone than to invest your time and love into people who would not do the same for you. Choose wisely and be patient because finding friends that feel like family is worth the wait, I promise.

Never settle.

XO – Autumn

Happiness

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Biddeford Pool, Maine

There are many questions we ask ourselves on a daily basis as an attempt to understand, or sometimes justify, our thoughts and actions. Some questions utilize the tough love approach such as “what were you thinking?”, while others are more simplistic yet hold great depth, “why?”.  I have recently found a question that I ask myself many times a day, “what would make you happy?”.

I have found that this simple question has the ability to make a positive difference in one’s life. We are typically taught to share and to look out for others, which can lead to putting other people first in many situations.  I agree that the happiness of loved ones is truly important, but part of appreciating someone else’s happiness is first being stable within your own.

Happiness is a state of being. A person can live an overall happy and blessed life, but the actual feeling of being happy is fleeting.  That is why it is so important to recognize the moments of true happiness in your life and dwell in them while they are happening. Everyone is seeking happiness, and asking yourself this simple question will help to establish what would enhance yours. We will not always be able to do exactly what makes us happy, but being aware of one’s happiness and the reasoning behind it is the first step to increasing it day by day.

Selfishness is a trait that is frowned upon, as it should be – but I believe that being selfish for your happiness is the one exception. So when you are trying to figure out your plans for the day or wondering what your next move should be, just ask yourself “would that make me happy?” and if the answer is yes, what’s stopping you?

XOXO – Autumn