6.18.24

Life Lately

Life lately posts have inadvertently become a quarterly thing around here this year, but after a whirlwind spring filled with travel to Jackson Hole and 30A, and kicking off summer in Ocean City, Maryland, I am planning to be home most of the summer and trying to better prioritize my creative pursuits. The past couple of years, I’ve had a harder time motivating myself to work on these ventures after work, and then I spend a lot of my weekends catching up with family and friends — as it should be! — so I spend less time on them than I did in a former life. But, I have a lot of ideas of things I want to do or write about or share, so I am trying to carve out more time to dedicate to these passions because they really do help fill my cup!

While I am planning to be home most of the summer, I do have a few weekend trips I am looking forward to — next month, I am going to New York to spend the weekend with one of my best friend’s, Emma, and then the following weekend, will be heading to North Carolina to celebrate my grandma’s 95th birthday (!). And to cap off the summer, my family is doing a week at Ocean Isle Beach in August — I am already thinking about what books I am going to bring. I can’t believe we are nearly halfway through the year — time is flying and I need it to slow down soon.

McKAYS USED BOOKS —

This past weekend, my sister and I went to McKay’s Used Books in Manassas and had the best time! Last Labor Day weekend, I was down in Nashville, Tennessee, and Emma and her mom took me to the McKay’s there and I was so excited to learn it’s a small chain across the southeast with a location less than an hour from me! If you’ve never been, it’s a huge store that sells used books, CDs, DVDs, puzzles, playing cards, and the like. (In addition to buying used items, you can also trade in items for cash or store credit — I’ve never done this since I tend to drop my books off in the Little Free Libraries around my neighborhood, but definitely something I would consider in the future.)

I love decorating with books throughout my apartment — it’s a great way to add in accent colors and textures, while also showcasing your personal interests — for instance, I love having books about history, the coast, the Kennedys, the south, the royal family, home decor, architecture, and travel throughout my home because those are topics I am interested in. (You can find some of my favorite coffee table books, organized by color, in this post!) That said, if you’ve ever bought a coffee table book before, you know they can be pricey. So, one more affordable way I’ve built out my collection is by buying books secondhand. It’s also really fun to do it this way, too, because then you end up with books in your space that are more rare and unique.

I knew my sister would love McKay’s as much as I did, so we made the drive out there and ended up browsing their expansive aisles for over two hours! There were so many gems to be found, and we both came home with 20-25 books and spent less than $85 each — most of the books I purchased were between $1-5! One of my favorite finds of the day was a stack of vintage Nancy Drew books, as seen above. I loved Nancy Drew books as a kid, and while I own all 56, mine are not the original printing — and these were, so I was excited to find them and add them to my collection. Plus, at $2.50 a pop, I thought they were a steal.

GETTING OFF LEXAPRO —

Earlier this spring, I decided to taper off Lexapro and it was so, so hard, but I’m really glad I did it.

I started Lexapro in early 2022. At the time, my daily anxiety was off the charts, and it was manifesting in really physical ways; I always felt like I was on the verge of a panic attack and my heart was constantly racing. When my anxiety started to dramatically impact my sleep, I knew I needed help and worked with my doctor to find the best option for my needs. (They can do a test to see which anti-anxiety / antidepressant drug may work best with your genetics!) Once I was on Lexapro, I felt so much better, and I am so glad I had it as a tool to improve my quality of life, alongside regular meetings with my therapist. I would not wish that type of anxiety on my worst enemy!

Fast forward to March of this year, when, generally speaking, the root cause of my anxiety back was resolved, so I didn’t feel like I needed to be on a daily SSRI. (I also gained some weight while on Lexapro and found it nearly impossible to lose weight while on the drug, which was a tradeoff I was willing to make when I needed the support.) As such, I made the decision with my doctor to begin titrating off slowly. At first, I cut my daily dose in half — and didn’t have any issues. Then I halved it again, still taking it daily, and everything was still going fine. But then, for two weeks, I took that quartered dose every other day, and that’s when I started to feel withdrawal symptoms. I felt really dizzy, had a really hard time concentrating, experienced some brain zaps, and had a much harder time regulating my emotions — I cried at the drop of the hat. It was very tempting to take a higher dose again to eliminate the side effects, but I knew that would just put me back right where I started.

After about two weeks completely off Lexapro, I started feeling like my normal self again. I still definitely have anxiety from time to time, but it’s nothing like it was when I was on Lexapro, so I know I made the right decision for me. I will say, one thing I’ve noticed since being off Lexapro is that my obsessive compulsive tendencies have come back in full force — which makes sense since SSRIs are commonly used to treat OCD — so that’s definitely something I’ve been keeping an eye on!

WORK TRAVEL WOES —

Overall, I’ve been pretty lucky when it comes to travel — knock on wood! But over the last month, I have had two work trips that have involved cancelled flights and extra nights, and let me tell you, when travel plans go awry, it is very stressful!

The week after Memorial Day, I had a work trip where I was scheduled to fly from DC to Dallas, and then onto Denver after a night in Texas. My flight to Dallas was delayed 12+ times because of thunderstorms in Texas — luckily, I hadn’t left for the airport yet when they started delaying my flight, but it was still frustrating nonetheless. We eventually took off, but I arrived six hours late and missed an event I was supposed to be at. The following day, I was supposed to fly to Denver, but about an hour before the flight was supposed to takeoff, it was cancelled. Long story short, I ended up spending another night in Texas after the flight I was rebooked on later that evening was also cancelled. The following morning, I was set to fly home to DC, and right before we were about to board, there was a huge crack of thunder, followed by lightning, so the airport grounded every flight. We eventually made it out, though it was an extremely bumpy flight — the woman sitting behind me had a full on panic attack — so I was very happy when we landed back in good ol’ Virginia.

Then, last week, I went to Miami for a conference. My flight there was drama free — we took off on time and landed in sunny Miami ahead of schedule. While I was in town, though, South Florida began to experience record-breaking rainfall. It seriously felt like we were in the middle of a hurricane, even though we weren’t — it poured. Like non-stop torrential downpours. I flew to Miami on Monday, it started raining on Tuesday, and I was set to fly home on Wednesday. But as soon as I arrived to MIA on Wednesday morning, the flight delays began. After a few hours of delays and gate changes, I started to have the sinking feeling that I was not going to get home — and I was right, as my flight was cancelled soon thereafter. (The airport was also a madhouse because no flights were taking off, so there were people at every gate and the customer service lines were wrapped around every corridor!)

I tried to get on a flight to DC later the same day, but they were all either sold out or also cancelled, so I found a hotel for the night and rebooked a flight for the following day. While I normally stay in South Beach — I love the Miami Beach Edition! — I decided to mix it up and stay in Coral Gables at the Hotel Colonnade and I am so glad I did! Coral Gables was such a picturesque town — it’s a master-planned community with Spanish architecture and a strip of great shops and restaurants called ‘The Miracle Mile.’ I didn’t get to explore as much as I would have liked because of the aforementioned rain, but I definitely want to go back — and would love to stay at The Biltmore. My hotel was right across from a Hillstone, which is one of my all-time favorite restaurants, so I made lemonade out of lemons and treated myself to their amazing fried chicken sandwich for dinner.

On Thursday morning when I headed back to the Miami airport, I actually had two flights home booked — a rebooked flight from the cancellation and a backup flight on a different airline. I decided to book multiple options because on Wednesday, 10 of 12 flights from MIA to DCA or IAD were cancelled — and it was still raining on Thursday, so I knew my odds weren’t good. I am so glad I had the foresight to do this, because my rebooked flight was cancelled and the airline put me on a flight home on SATURDAY. (Since so many people were impacted by cancellations, this was the earliest option they had!) My flight on the other airline was delayed, but did eventually take off and I was so relieved! A part of me really did think that I was going to have to spend another night in Miami.

Needless to say, I am glad there isn’t any airline travel on my calendar for the near future!

WHAT I’VE BEEN WATCHING LATELY —

I have never been one to keep up with the TV shows everyone is talking about — I still haven’t watched White Lotus and have no interest in watching Succession, but boy, do I love some low brow reality or cheesy television. After rewatching Younger this winter, I was looking for a new show, so ahead of the Netflix docuseries on the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders that comes out later this month, my sister recommended Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team. It’s a CMT reality show that aired for 16 seasons, and I’ve slowly been working my way through the back catalog. Each season takes you through the “making” of the team for that season — from tryouts to training camp to the first game. It’s been a great show for after work because it’s entertaining and allows me to put my brain on a shelf for a bit, plus I love to watch the dancing!

I’ve also been loving a weekend takeout + movie night. We’ve been enjoying some new-to-me movies that are classics that I definitely should have seen sooner, including Jurassic Park, Top Gun, Top Gun MaverickHappy GilmoreWedding Crashers (I know — how had I never seen this?!), and Mrs. Doubtfire. Though TikTok has dramatically decreased my attention span, I generally have stayed off my phone for these movies and forgot how fun a simple movie night can be.

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POSTSCRIPTS —

+ Earlier this year, I was in desperate need of a new vacuum — I had bought a new one when I first moved into my apartment nearly four years ago (!), but it was super cheap and barely working anymore. I knew I wanted a stick vacuum, but did not want to splurge on a Dyson, so after doing some research, I ended up getting the Homeika Cordless Vacuum and have been really impressed! I love that it has a rechargeable battery so I don’t have to mess with cords and the profile is very sleek. Plus, it works great and is under $100 — so wanted to share in case you’re also in the market.

+ Back in April, I decided to get a gel pedicure for the first time and my only regret is not getting them sooner! While I have done dip manicures for years, I had held out on doing my toe polish at home because I knew as soon as I started with regular pedicures, it would be vey hard to cut them from my budget and beauty routine. But y’all, I am sold on gel pedicures because they last so long! My first one lasted nearly eight weeks, and probably would have lasted longer if I hadn’t gone to the beach twice. I also love the process of getting pedicures because you can just relax and zone out on your phone for a bit — when I get manicures, I always say I wish I could drop my hands off and pick them up later; it’s a lot harder to play on your phone when one of your hands is always being worked on. If you’re local, I go to Aura Day Spa in Virginia Square and I see Helen, I would not let anyone else touch my nails. They do take walk-ins, but I’d highly recommend getting an appointment as this place is popular!

+ I am a huge fan of Beaches Media’s podcasts, especially U Up, Diet Starts Tomorrow, and Oversharing, and since the founders are around my age, I’ve always loved keeping up with their career journey. As such, I loved their recent profile in The New York Times: The Beaches Got Rich. So What’s Next? that chronicles the media company’s rise and their recent sale, and shares more economics than were previously known. A great read if you’re also a fan of the brand or interested in new media.

+ Earlier this year, I found Jessica’s account — I love her content because she shares easy, delicious, healthy weeknight recipes. I’ve made several of her recipes and they were all great, but the one I keep coming back to is her Greek sheet pan chicken. OMG! Just trust me and make it — it is so good! It’s definitely my latest food obsession, and I’ve probably made it six or seven times now. I make the Greek yogurt feta sauce she recommends, but have also eaten it with Trader Joe’s garlic spread-dip, which is their version of toum.

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