What if I make the wrong choice?
It’s a paralyzing question so many have faced in our lives.
We ask it when we’re considering new jobs, new houses, new states. The question plagues us when we’re deciding on life partners, on what’s best for our kids, on which puppy to pick. We ask it when deciding what outfit to wear to the Eras Tour, when thinking about what haircut to get, and all sorts of other smaller decisions.
The truth is, most of us are paralyzed by the fear of making the wrong choice. But I think if you switch your perspective just a hair, you realize an earth-shattering realization: there isn’t really a wrong choice.
As long as your choice is made with a pure heart and intention (meaning you aren’t seeking to hurt someone), then there really isn’t a way you can go wrong. Sure, you might make a choice and realize it isn’t for you. That new job might be a “grass is always greener” kind of vibe or that house you bought might have horrific neighbors next door. That school you picked for your kid might not be the best fit, and that dress you wore to the concert might be kind of uncomfortable. The haircut might not be your favorite or the car you bought might end up doing terrible on your winter commute.
Things might not work out like you want them to–but that doesn’t mean you chose wrong or should beat yourself up about it. There is learning to do in every situation. Every choice puts you in front of new people to influence your path. Every choice teaches you a lesson about yourself, about fulfillment, and about who you really are.
And more importantly, even if that choice doesn’t turn out perfectly, so what? The beautiful thing about life that I think we sometimes forget is that you can always change your mind. Always.
You can pop on a T-shirt you bought at the stand mid-concert. You can save up and find a new house in a couple of years or apply for a new job if this one isn’t the one for you. You can let your hair grow and explore new schools. It won’t be easy, sure. But neither was the first choice, was it?
Life isn’t easy. But it also doesn’t have to be as hard as we make it with all the pressure we put on ourselves to “get it just right” the first time around. There are so many paths we can take, but there isn’t a wrong one. Sure, we might get down the road and understand more fully that perhaps the other path would have been better for us. But I think a lot of us need to move beyond the idea that we are “stuck,” that our decisions are a “one and done.” Because even on the “one and done” kind of decisions, we still can adjust down the road. We can’t go back, sure. But we can move forward with more knowledge, clarity, and the ability to make the next decision with more knowledge than we had the first one.
What if you make the wrong choice?
You can’t. Because even if you make the “wrong” choice, you’ll learn, you’ll grow, and you’ll head down a path you wouldn’t have. You’ll understand life in new ways.
After all, I’ve come to believe that the only “wrong” choice is the choice to stand still and stay miserable because you let fear get in the way.
“Even an ordinary secretary or a housewife or a teenager can turn on a small light in a dark room.”
These are the words of Miep Gies, a secretary who worked for the Frank family and then went on to hide eight Jews from the Nazis in the secret Annex. Recently, Gies’ story is the focal point of a Hulu series “A Small Light.” This show does a deep-dive into the figure many have come to call a hero, but there’s something absolutely stunning about the show’s portrayal of Miep: They show that she probably wasn’t the person you think she was.
Miep Gies is portrayed as a bit reckless, a bit lost, and a bit blunt. She takes the job with the Franks out of desperation and takes quite some time to prove herself. The series follows the ups and downs of her relationship and marriage, her friendships, and her own fears. In short, Gies isn’t portrayed as a saint or the most likely woman to be a hero. And that’s what I loved so much about this series.
It really highlights in a way that is emotional and easy to connect with the point that heroes aren’t perfect or made of a different stock. Just like us, they have doubts, fears, impulsivity, love, tears, and everything in between. Miep Gies wasn’t the most likely candidate to do the brave thing she did–but she made the choice to do it. And in a dark world, choosing to be a light is the biggest choice we can make.
This series underscored the risk and the daily struggle Miep went through. Everything from getting food in a society that was rationing to not being able to trust anyone were daily battles Miep faced. Through it all, she fought for two years to protect the Franks. We all know the story didn’t turn out in the way anyone would hope for. Still, Miep’s tale demonstrates her quote in a way we can’t deny–anyone, anyone, anyone can be a light in a dark world.
So often in modern times, we forget this. We think that to have purpose or meaning in our lives, we have to start a nonprofit or donate millions or give up our jobs to devote ourselves selflessly to charity work. Miep shows that everyone has the ability to make choices, although sometimes difficult ones, to use their daily lives to help others. She reminds us that there is always a way to make a difference, even when it feels impossible.
Her story has stuck with me long after the last episode and will stick with me I think forever–because in a world that is complex and fiercely dark sometimes, Miep Gies reminds us that we all have the chance to do the right thing.
You can do it all.
Variants of this inspirational quote adorn throw pillows, Instagram graphics, and T-shirts. At first glance, the sentiment is admirable and even motivational. As a big dreamer, I think it’s healthy to remove mental blocks and limitations. I hope everyone can find the courage to strive for their wildest dreams. Nonetheless, I also think if we do a deep dive, this sentiment can be dangerous to your overall dreams and fulfillment.
I do believe you can do it all…but you shouldn’t.
The problem with this quote is that without us realizing, it seeps into our daily lives and poisons our fulfillment. What’s meant to inspire us to dream big actually chains us down to a life of monotony and lists.
We think we should have a home worthy of a magazine AND be the best mother AND the kind of friend who does weekly brunches AND surprise our husbands with romantic date nights AND climb the social ladder AND master how to make perfect enchiladas everyone will love AND do glam makeup everyday AND have mastered silky, shiny hair AND have a hair free body every single day AND do an hour of pilates five times a week AND make sure all the appointments are made AND be spiritually enlighted.
AND AND AND.
We think we should do it all because we can.
The list is never-ending. We run through a rat race believing there is something wrong with us when we are crying in our imperfect bathroom that isn’t spa-like as we think about how tired we are–and how we are failing. We can do it all. It’s clearly us that’s the problem. We must be too stupid or too clumsy or too disorganized or too lazy. Our lives should look effortlessly perfect like we see on social media and from celebrities and from the moms at school pickup. We can do it all if we want to–and so we convince ourselves we want to. We tell ourselves we have to. We dig deep, wipe away the mascara staining our cheeks, and we throw ourselves at the merciless to-do lists once more.
The need to do it all is an inferno we cannot escape once we let it infiltrate our lives. On our relaxation days, we look around and see all the things that aren’t quite right, all the to-dos. Instead of soaking in the sunshine, we look at how the deck chairs need washed. When we’re spending quality time with the kids or the dog, we think about how we really should be taking those perfect photographs to get made into that scrapbook we’ll do someday. We shame ourselves for caving and eating fast food and running out of energy to do our insanely rigid workout schedule. We scorn as we look in the mirror because we didn’t use enough self-tanner and we missed a spot shaving and our eye shadow is lackluster. We are hard on ourselves and see every missed item on our list as a failure.
We critique. We critique some more. We try to do more because we think that’s the problem.
And eventually, all of that “do anything” attitude becomes a life of monotony, a life missing passion, excitement, and happiness. We wake up in our lives that still don’t have everything mastered and feel inadequate, unfulfilled, and like failures, yet we keep trudging along on the hamster wheel that is quickly spinning of its axis.
Thus, the thing I think we need to talk about is this: yes, you might be strong, powerful, and smart enough to do it all. Still, that doesn’t mean you should.
Doing it all leaves you depleted. You have finite energy, and if you try to master everything at once, you just do a little bit of everything half-assed.
More importantly, trying to do it all is a fool’s errand. No one, no one, no one does it all alone and well.
No one has perfect, spotless baseboards and clean sinks while trying to work full-time.
No one has a perfect body while running the kids to seventeen activities, managing a stressful work schedule, and cooking dinner every night.
No one has magazine-worthy hair, makeup, and outfits while being a hands-on mother and making sure the appointments are all made.
No one has celebrity-worthy interior design, meals, bodies, makeup, outfits, bank accounts, careers, vacations, and lives like social media wants you to believe.
In the real world, most of us are hanging by a thread. We have dirt on the baseboards, we fed our families ham sandwiches while forgetting the dentist appointment and trying to get to work on time.
We are cleaning up cat barf while trying to put on a swipe of mascara and blot away some of the grease in our hair as we wolf down a yogurt we hope is healthy.
We are trying to iron the pants for the school play while ignoring the layer of dust on all of the surfaces in the house and hoping the squats we did while brushing our teeth count as a workout.
We are hoping no one knocks on our door as a surprise visitor because it’s Thursday and we barely made it through the work week let alone picked up a single item strewn about the house.
We’re all hanging by a thread. We’re all trying to do everything–and realizing we’re not doing it well.
I think the problem is this, though. I think the problem is we all are keeping up the ruse that it’s possible to do it all. We’re all clinging to that “can do” attitude and smiling through as if we’re not all exhausted. We’re swiping the dust away and hiding the remnants of our life in shambles. We’re getting it together just enough to convince everyone around us that we’re doing it all effortlessly. We’re convincing ourselves and our friends that yes, of course we wash the sheets every few days and manicure the lawn and make sure the kids are eating only organic food. We pretend we’re not all dying inside trying to wear fifty hats instead of just the ones we want.
We convince ourselves that the world is going to fall apart if we prioritize and let some things go. We tell ourselves we’re being lazy when we want to relax instead of tackling the window washing or the tax spreadsheet or the list of phone calls.
We keep up the facade that we’re happy doing all the things because that’s what we’ve been taught. Still, the “can do” attitude is a thief of happiness if you let it be.
So I propose that this week, we all take a deep breath and ignore the gunk from the dog on our kitchen wall or the crayon mark on the table. I propose we resist the urge to wear a full cut-crease eye look every day or iron the slightly wrinkly shirt. I propose we don’t feel guilty if we feed our families bags of chips and peanut butter for dinner or if our hair has been in a bun for a week straight. I propose we all take a breath, take a moment, and ask ourselves:
What really matters most?
Even though I can do all the things, what do I want to do?
What will make me feel successful?
Certainly, we all have to do things we don’t want to do. But that doesn’t mean we have to strive for impossible standards in all areas of our life. There are seasons for everything. Seasons to work on our killer body, and seasons to cut back to maintenance mode where a walk or chores counts. Seasons for killing it at work and letting the spring cleaning slide. Seasons where we serve all homemade meals, and seasons where cereal is a food group.
We have to learn to be okay with not doing it all and instead, doing all the things that feed our soul, that make us feel alive, and that remind us of who we are. We also have to accept that life ebbs and flows, and that it’s okay if our vision of perfect in one area morphs in the next season of our lives.
Furthermore, we need to remember that we can do it all–but we shouldn’t have to do it alone. We need to ask for help when we need it and find support systems. We need to be honest with our friends and co-workers and stop pretending this adult thing is easy. We need to stop showing up in the world as these extreme multi-taskers who are wearing a cracked smile over their dead–inside visage.
We need to be brave enough as a society to say yes, we are kickass, powerful warriors who can do it all–but are smart enough not to. Who are intelligent enough to know that it isn’t sustainable to do all the things, isn’t fulfilling, and isn’t what this life is about.
Thus, we need to change the quote in our minds to: we can do all the things that really matter most–and all the rest can wait.
When I was really young, I would sit in the grass for long periods of time, combing through the stalks for four-leaf clovers. My brown eyes would study inch after inch of grass, searching for the elusive, seemingly mythical magic that could be found in the four-leaf shape.
I don’t think at five or six I really knew why I needed the magic of the lucky clover. I’ve long since lost touch with the wild imagination of that girl, but I’m guessing she probably would have thought the four-leaf clover would allow her to talk to cats or change her Barbies’ hair to pink with one touch or reveal the real Smurf village.
Nonetheless, one day, I eventually found one. My mom laminated it, and it did, in fact, feel like a magic moment. But I still couldn’t talk to cats or pet a unicorn or anything truly exciting. I forgot about four-leaf clovers. I grew up.
And then, one day when I was thirty, I found myself once more looking for four-leaf clovers. Sitting on the edge of our deck, my bare feet planted on the ground as I sought a moment of clarity and peace, I found myself scanning the grass once more for the magic of the plant. It was silly, I knew. Still, after my husband had lost his job, after our first dog had died leaving me in the darkest depression, and after life just didn’t feel magical anymore, I suppose I just wanted to believe that magic could still exist. I told myself that if I found a four-leaf clover in the grass, maybe things would be okay.
Day after day, I’d sit in the grass, a quiet reprieve from the complexities of life. I’d sit in the quiet, searching for the four-leaf clover that I hoped the universe would send my way as a sign that it would get better. That I wouldn’t be heartbroken forever. That I would one day stop crying in the shower over Henry. That my husband after years of searching would sort out his career and identity. That things would stop being so hard.
I never did find that four-leaf clover. But I’d argue I did, in fact, find a sense of magic. Because slowly, as time went on, I found myself thinking of Henry with a smile again–mostly because our crazy Great Dane left me little energy for grief. After many jobs and years of being a little lost, my husband found himself again in his career. Things stopped being so hard.
I write this because I know somewhere out there, someone is hoping for that four-leaf clover. They’re desperate to find the magic. We all search for our version of a four-leaf clover at some point in our lives. We’re all desperate to feel that possibility once more, to remember that life will be okay again.
But here’s the thing I’ve learned: the real magic in life doesn’t come in four leaves. It comes when you understand that you are capable of not only surviving hard times but thriving. It comes when you realize that there is always possibility and hope for a better tomorrow. Most of all, it comes when you know deep within that you are capable of figuring it all out and changing what tomorrow looks like.
You don’t need to find a four-leaf clover to find the magic you need–because what my five-year-old self didn’t understand was that the magic was simply in the believing magic existed.
Be the Magic.
You stare at the photograph from ten years ago and realize with frustration you don't look the same.
Your skin is looser, your stomach is bigger, your legs are chunkier. Your arms are thicker now, and you wouldn't dare squeeze into an outfit like that. Maybe the scale says you're heavier. Maybe you can't fit in those jeans anymore. You are not the same, and it irks you to the core.
So you do what the media has taught us to do. You say no to the birthday cake when you want to say yes. You cut calories so you go to bed hungry. You make yourself dizzy, all in the sake of calorie deficit. You deny yourself any joy when it comes to food. Maybe you try a diet where you cut out a certain group of foods altogether. Starvation is your new mantra, even though life feels joyless. You are not the same.
Maybe you start counting your steps obsessively, and even when your body screams for rest, you push it anyway. You lift weights until your shoulders ache. You skip fun dates or time with your dog or dinner with friends because you can't miss the gym. You take up running even though you dread that alarm clock every single morning because of it. If you didn't sweat enough, you're not worthy. You have to earn rest. You are not the same.
You cover your body everywhere you go. You change your outfit twenty times because of the way your shirt clings to your stomach pooch or your leg cellulite shows in those shorts. You are not the same--and that is your deepest, darkest secret you hide at all costs.
You worry about what others think as they peruse your social media. You're terrified of being "that girl" who let herself go, who looks bloated and chunky compared to who she was.
You are not the same.
But you know what? You're damned right you're not the same. Because after all these years, you really shouldn't be. You've lived life. You've had successes and failures. You've fallen in love, dealt with heartbreak, lost, loved, lost again. Maybe you've had babies. Maybe you traveled the world. Maybe you learned new skills or took up new hobbies. You've made new friends and taken new jobs. You've survived. You've failed. You've conquered. You've learned.
You've done that thing you never thought you could do. You showed up when you didn't want to. You made life better for others. You saw that sunset that you can't forget about. You got on the stage, you stood up for what was right. You had surprise after surprise, some good and some bad. You lived through countless days of wonder.
You've grown in so many ways in the past ten years that no, you're not the same. You've outgrown that girl you used to be in all the best ways. You are wiser now, smarter, more mature in some ways. You are more open-minded yet also more grounded in who you are and who you want to be. So of course, you are not the same. Isn't it crazy we would expect you to be?
You are not the same--celebrate that, not just emotionally, but physically, too. Stop seeing the changes in your body as something to hide. Celebrate who you are, right now, today. Celebrate every beautiful inch of yourself. Stop hiding. Stop trying to "get back" to the size or shape you used to be. Stop looking back.
I think the sooner you learn to love yourself, to love the skin you're in right now without comparing yourself to yesterday--that's when life opens up. That's when true joy settles into your bones. That's when you can exhale, live your best life, and be truly, 100% healthy.
I was a few weeks shy of my 35th birthday when, staring into the mirror, my eyes landed on a prominent neck wrinkle and saggy skin that I hadn’t noticed before.
Chest tightening, I ran my hand over the skin to find it droopy, dry, and scaly—the dreaded turkey neck, the epitome of aging signs, had appeared, and much earlier than I ever was prepared for.
Promptly, I studied photos from the past months to see if I had been living in some state of oblivion, blind to the fact my neck had become a blinking sign for my elder millennial status. I squinted and studied, trying to find the exact month it had happened. Then, my Enneagram 3 personality kicked into high-gear as I tried to conquer the situation. I read about neck creams, perused reviews, and ritualistically slathered on potions that seemed to make it worse. I spent so much time staring in the mirror for several weeks that the “You’re So Vain” song seemed to be my mantra. I Googled whether turtlenecks were spring and summer appropriate.
And then, one day last week, I asked myself: Why does this bother you so much? Because let’s face it, I am nowhere near celebrity status or a catwalk. And how many times do you actually notice the status of someone’s neck skin? I’m willing to bet rarely—unless you’ve recently become attuned to your own sagging situation. In the scope of things, a neck wrinkle does not matter. But to me, it did. And I know exactly why.
The neck wrinkle, the aging skin, it was a sign that my denial of the birthday cake candles tell in recent years. I’m getting older. That, in itself, isn’t a terrifying thing. But do you know what is? Realizing you’re getting older and you haven’t really lived the vibrant kind of life you want.
There it is. The truth haunting me—but I suspect it’s plaguing many women my age, too. The realization that you did all the “right” things and kept your head down. You sorted through until you could find a relatively stable life, if you were lucky. You got to a place where you can exhale because the choices have been made and roads have been followed.
This is where you’re supposed to be, that voice inside tells you as you put in the top knot to do laundry on Sunday mornings before your required steps on the treadmill to hit your watch’s demand. And then, you look around at your Live, Laugh, Love plaque and the carefully organized utensils in the kitchen. You study your filled calendar of things that even sound mundane like “Tax appointment” and “Vet check-up.” You stare out the window while you do dishes for the fiftieth time this week, studying the dead grass, the abandoned lawn chair, and the view that never would make it to a postcard. And you ask yourself: Is this it? Is this the epitome of living?
I think for me, the neck wrinkle was a wakeup call that life is going by—and I haven’t gotten around to the exciting stuff yet. Where was the sense of wonder, the sense of adventure? Where were the once-in-a-lifetime moments and exciting new sights and smiles worthy of Instagram? Or the unexpected surprises, the cocktail hours, the big wins, the monthly escapades to new locales? Staring in the mirror at that neck wrinkle, I felt a little shortchanged. At 35, my life wasn’t a bold, fun adventure worthy of a travel blog. It was taking out the trash on Thursdays, showing up to the office with coffee, my lifeblood, in hand to trudge through the workweek. It was figuring out what was for dinner and getting the mail and walking on the treadmill to try not to get too out of shape. It was surviving, in so many ways.
But when we’re faced with this revelation, the question becomes: What can we do about it? There are bills to pay, and flights are expensive. We have responsibilities of different varieties and only so many PTO days. And while giving it all up to travel the world or start the bakery or Eat, Pray, Love it sounds wonderful (and some have inarguably pulled it off), for many of us, it just doesn’t feel like the right choice either. I’m all about bold choices, about chasing big dreams. But a girl’s gotta eat, too. And although I love the van turned home in theory, my Great Dane is a bit too big to squeeze in there along with my shoe collection, cats, and bookshelves.
So how do you find the balance? How do you live a life that supports your dreams and excites you without giving everything up? How do you find a way to bring joy and passion back to your life so you don’t have nightmares about the regrets you’ll have in thirty or forty years?
I don’t know that there’s an easy answer to this question, but I do think it’s possible to find a sense of adventure, a sense of living boldly, without whisking away to a private island or disappearing into the wilderness like an explorer. At least, I’d like to believe there is. I’d like to think there’s a way to find a sense of magic, of wonder in a somewhat mundane life without having to do something worthy of turning into a Netflix movie. I’d like to think, in theory, there’s hope for all of us with our rigid morning routines and dinner schedules and budget Excel sheets.
After stepping away from the obsessive studying of the neck wrinkle for a few days, I’ve come to believe that for many of us, we need to sit back and ask ourselves: What really would light us up? Because maybe it’s not even as extreme as converting the van into a travel home or splashing in a waterfall or seeing a rare bird on another continent. Maybe it’s taking a ballroom dancing class we feel silly signing up for or that pole class that makes us turn a little red at the thought. Maybe it’s taking up a new sport, even if we might suck at it. It could be changing up our wardrobe and working in the dreaded crop top or making Sundays a day off from the morning routine we’re obsessed with. It could be joining a new group or going to a new coffee shop to explore. It could be going a town over and wandering around aimlessly on a weeknight, something you never do.
In short, I think part of the answer is just letting ourselves be free from the routine, just for a while. It’s about searching for what makes us excited and being willing to try new things we normally wouldn’t. it’s about getting away from what we should do or have to do … and doing something just for the sake of doing it. Those are the moments that we remember. Those are the times that we understand in our bones what living is all about, big and small.
I don’t think you have to spend a million dollars to live boldly, to live a life you’ll be proud to look back on someday. I think you just have to get out of the routine sometimes. You have to take the Curling Class at your local ice rink or get the tattoo you’ve been putting off. You have to say “yes” to that festival your friend wants to go to that you think might be strange, or sure to that jacket you love but think people might hate. You have to get a little wild in your choices, a little out of the norm. You have to break free of the mold society tries to put on you in order to break free a little bit. I think that’s where life really begins. These small changes, these tiny steps, can help us build the courage to perhaps, if we feel called to, take the bigger, riskier steps toward a life of passion. The job changing kind of steps. The new house or new purpose kind of change. But until then, the tiny swaps in our routine can be enough o bring the spark back and to help us realize that aging isn’t the end of excitement, not by a long shot.
I’ll be honest with you—I still study my neck from time to time in the mirror and in photographs. But lately, I don’t have as much time to peruse it and analyze it like I once did. I’m too busy going to that new bakery a half hour away on Sunday and signing up for a horseriding session. I’m too busy taking my dog to a different park and trying that coffee shop that’s out of the way but seems fun. I’m busy on Pinterest looking for a new outfit I never would’ve dared try out before and painting my nails a color way too loud for the office. I’m busy living my life, in essence, turkey neck and all.
It started with sagging, drooping skin on my neck and a wrinkle I hadn’t seen before. But that’s not where it ends. Not if I have anything to say about it—which I’m learning, I do.
I am so excited to have received an ARC of The Sound of Violet by Allen Wolf. This book is going to be a movie in 2022, so you'll want to check it out now. It's great for anyone who loves young adult reads and romance. Check out more info below, including the first chapter!
About the Book:
Desperate to find a soulmate, Shawn goes on one awkward date after another until he encounters the alluring Violet. He starts dating her, but his autism keeps him from realizing that she’s actually a prostitute.
Shawn thinks he’s found a potential wife while Violet thinks she’s found her ticket to a brand new life. This hilarious and dramatic award-winning story takes all kinds of twists and turns and has been adapted into a major motion picture.
What Reviewers Are Saying:
“Entertaining, well-paced, and highly visual.”
“Wolf, an award-winning filmmaker, has adapted this first novel from his own original screenplay, and its cinematic potential clearly shows. The high-concept narrative is entertaining, well-paced, and highly visual. It’s a charming, humorous, and hopeful tale. A quirky, touching love story that offers insights into autism, religion, and personal tragedy.”
– Kirkus Reviews
“A wonderfully well-written, funny, romantic love story.”
“Unique and inspirational. The Sound of Violet is not your average romance. Rarely do I find myself so captivated by a book that I cannot put it down for nearly two hours. Pick up this book and get lost in the beauty of their relationship. My only complaint would be that the story had an ending, as all stories do, and I did so want to keep reading on. Most highly recommended. The Sound of Violet is simply remarkable.”
– Readers’ Favorite
Read Chapter One Below...
Shawn didn't feel like an adult because adults were married, and he struggled to get through a date. He was twenty-four years old and looked like a man, with his powder-blue eyes, a trim physique, and a handsome face on a well-shaped head crowned with light brown hair. But he had never quite gotten used to his long arms and legs. When he walked, it looked like Shawn was carefully stepping between raindrops, especially when he started noticing all the colors around him.
The bashful sun peeked out from behind a gray curtain of clouds, kissing the Manhattan skyscrapers. Perfect dating weather. Shawn accompanied his latest date along a path through the High Line, a park that snaked above 11th Avenue, formerly abandoned railroad tracks that were transformed into a popular park years ago.
Emily looked pleasant but unremarkable as she trudged along, towering over him. She glanced his way, but Shawn couldn’t peer into her eyes or anyone’s eyes for that matter. When he did, it felt like he was staring into the sun. He’d force himself to do it, though, since people got uneasy when he darted his eyes away. But Shawn couldn’t keep looking for long. The connection felt too electric, like he had jammed his finger into a wall socket.
The trees around them swayed in the wind; their branches collided against each other, clanging like wind chimes on a blustery day. The melodic tones transfixed Shawn.
Emily cocked her head to the side. “Are you even listening?” she asked.
She knocked on an invisible wall between them. “Hello?”
Shawn broke out of his trance. “Sorry. I get distracted sometimes. By all the colors.” He looked up at her height. “You must be good at basketball.”
Her eyes narrowed. This wasn’t Shawn’s first awkward comment of the night. “And you must be great at miniature golf.”
Shawn kicked the ground. “Not really.”
“You’re gonna ask me how the weather is up here? I’ll save you the trouble.” She popped the cap off her bottle and splashed water on his face. “Stormy!”
Shawn stood there, water dripping off his face, his mouth hanging open. His stomach ached as Emily stomped off, shaking her head. What did I do this time? Maybe she doesn’t like basketball. She disappeared into the crowd of people surging around him.
Shawn sat on a park bench and logged into his online dating profile. Time to set up his next date. This was definitely a numbers game.
Later that week, he met Anna at the High Line. She was in her thirties, lean and frail-looking. Friendly, but needy. Pictures of cats covered her rainbow suspenders. Her profile emphasized her love for all things feline, and Shawn hoped there would be more to her. He was getting less picky. Shawn led her down the path.
“Whenever I look at a cat, I try not to think about how lazy it is,” Shawn said.
Anna raised her eyebrows. “They aren’t lazy. They like to sleep.”
“For seventy percent of their lives. Male lions sleep twenty hours a day, so you can tell they’re related.” Shawn had many more cat facts up his sleeve, but this one didn’t land the way he thought it would. He hoped she’d find the rest of them captivating, so all the preparation he did for this date wouldn’t be a waste of time.
“Cats are more intelligent than most people I date,” Anna said.
“Then, you’re dating the wrong people.” Shawn peered at her face. “You know, you look different from your profile picture.”
She slipped her hands into her pockets. “Confession time. That’s actually my sister. I get a lot more interest when I use her pic. We’re pretty similar, though. She’s just more photogenic.”
“No, she’s a lot prettier than you.”
Anna shrank back. “Are you for real?”
“Very,” Shawn said. “She’s the one who got the looks in your family.”
Shawn’s thoughts often raced out of his mouth, unedited. He knew people had to get used to that, or they wouldn’t stick around for long. Anna blinked a few times as if she didn’t know what to say. She scoffed, shrugged her shoulders, then hurried down one of the stairways that led to the street below.
Shawn knew better than to run after her. That had never worked on his previous dates. He peered at the red petals of the snapdragons circling the tree trunk next to him. The petals shivered and hummed, sounding like sustained chords of a violin.
On the following Saturday afternoon, he met Lindsay at the High Line. She looked identical to her picture, and he was relieved. She was in her twenties, with delicate features and dark hair pulled back from the planes of her face.
Their conversation began with how their days were going (fine) and about the state of the world (worrisome). They progressed to how expensive it was to reside in New York City (shockingly so, though technically Shawn didn’t pay anything to live here). Then, the conversation detoured to how people perceive colors. This was Shawn’s opportunity to shine. He fought to keep his thoughts on track as he strolled down the path with her.
“The light receptors in our eyes transmit messages to our brains about what we’re seeing. Newton first observed that the surface of what we see reflects some colors and absorbs the rest. So our eyes only perceive the reflected colors.” He forced himself to stop, a skill that usually led people to talk with him longer.
Lindsay leaned into him. “You’re a walking Wikipedia.”
Shawn beamed. The sunlight sparkled off the brook next to them as it bubbled down the path. He lost himself for a moment in the melodic stream of the water. Lindsay nudged him.
“You there?” she asked.
“Oh. Sorry about that.” He searched for a new topic. “The other day, I read an article about how this place would’ve still been an abandoned railroad track if someone didn’t have the imagination to make it this beautiful.”
Lindsay flicked her hair back. “So true.”
“When it opened, people called it a secret, magic garden in the sky.”
He started walking with a spring in his step. Lindsey reached over and held his hand. Startled, he shook her off. She stepped back with widened eyes. Shawn looked down; his arms hung to his sides.
“I’m sorry.” He paused. “Sometimes touching can be too intense for me.”
Lindsay poked her tongue against her cheek. “Oh.”
“You look like you swallowed a lemon.”
“And your profile didn’t say, ‘don’t touch me.’”
“It used to, but I didn’t get a lot of replies.”
Lindsay bit her upper lip. “Are you on the spectrum?”
Shawn hesitated, then nodded. Whenever he told someone about his autism, their reactions were a mysterious mixed bag. Mysterious because Shawn couldn’t understand what they were thinking. Sometimes those dates didn’t last long after he brought this information to light, even after he explained he was high functioning. His brother, Colin, thought Shawn should keep his autism a secret for as long as possible. Or at least until the second date. But whenever Shawn kept those details in the dark, his dates seemed confused by how he would react to the world around him.
Shawn looked past her at a tall woman with black curly hair and olive skin dressed in a flowing wedding dress, holding a bouquet of purple and pink roses. The bride intertwined her hands with her smiling groom, who kissed the top of her head as a photographer snapped pictures of them holding each other. Shawn took in the moment. This was special.
Lindsay checked her watch. “So…”
“We should grab some coffee,” Shawn said.
“Not a coffee drinker, I’m afraid.”
“I didn’t notice that on your profile.” Shawn swallowed.
“You know what? I should get going. Need to meet someone. Don’t know how I let that slip my mind. Sorry to cut this short.”
“They look like they won the lottery,” Shawn said, pointing to the couple behind her.
“It was so nice meeting you.”
“Should we go out again? I like how you smell like laundry detergent.” He realized he shouldn’t have mentioned her scent. His brother always reminded him to keep olfactory observations to himself.
“I’ll call you, okay?” she said, stepping back from him while keeping up the mask of her smile.
“I’ll wait for your call,” Shawn said, confident that day was just around the corner.
Her plastered grin continued as she made her way down the path. As Shawn watched her leave, the colors around him roared back to life. Tree branches clanged. The water tinkled. Petals hummed. The evening sun dazzled brightly. Shawn shielded his eyes and hurried his way back home.
Shawn shared a large condo with his grandmother on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where the kitchen, dining room, and living room all enjoyed inspiring views of Central Park. Black and white oil paintings of scenes from the city—wet seals basking in the sun at the Central Park Zoo, the triangular Flatiron building dominating its street corner, a couple caught in intimate conversation in front of a boxy florist shop in SoHo—hung on the silver-gray walls. All these were proud creations of Shawn’s grandmother, Ruth, whose spotless home could be easily confused with a museum if the furniture went missing.
A golden birdcage hung in the corner of the room near the window. Inside, the yellow and green lovebirds, Sunny and Cloudy, nestled against each other. Shawn dropped a large spoonful of cooked lentils into their feeding trough. His grandmother liked to stick her fingers into the cage to caress their feathers., But Shawn only dared to feed them. Nothing more.
Shawn kicked his feet up onto the walnut coffee table and tried to sink into the red velvet couch, but it never let him. It was too much like his grandmother, stiff and proper. He turned on the TV and flipped through the channels until he settled on a black and white movie, where a woman gritted her teeth while a seamstress worked on zipping up the back of her wedding dress. The woman turned toward a mirror, and her face lit up. The seamstress dabbed a tear from her cheek.
Ruth’s voice echoed from her bedroom down to the hall. “Shawn, I can hear your feet on the table.”
Shawn quickly moved his legs off the table. “You can’t hear feet.”
Ruth glided into the room in a vintage robe. She was in her seventies with curly auburn hair and a slim body, a gift from her years of swimming. Her stateliness masked her artistic side. She never traveled without putting her face on, as she called it.
“Bore me with the details,” she said.
Shawn looked away from her inquisitive eyes at the darkening clouds outside. It felt like the sun was forever setting on his dating life.
Ruth tapped her foot. “I’m waiting.”
“Same as always…”
Ruth frowned. “You didn’t look into her eyes, did you?”
Shawn looked at the floor. “No one’s going to marry me.”
“Marry? We need to get you a second date.” She straightened one of the paintings on the wall.
“If I don’t get married, I won’t have anyone after you die.”
“I’m still ticking. And when I’m not, you’ll have your brother, whatever that’s worth.”
“Sometimes, to keep myself going, I picture you lying in a casket.”
Ruth gasped. “How dare you say that. You know I want to be cremated. So no one can screw up my makeup.”
“Maybe I should start picturing you as an urn.”
Ruth shrugged. “Whatever works.”
Shawn glanced out the window. A breeze rustled through the trees in Central Park. A drizzle fell in sheets from the sky. “I miss Grandpa.”
“Yeah? Me too.” Ruth filled a silver teapot with water from the sink and set it on the stove. “He’d love to ask me about my day and then turn off his hearing aid.” Ruth snickered. “Once, he told me the best part of growing up was getting less and less peer pressure since all his peers were dying.”
“He died so suddenly. I don’t want that to happen to you.”
“That’s sweet, Shawn,” she said, walking toward him. She took an unsteady step and grabbed a nearby chair to get her balance.
“Who’ll buy my cereal? Or help me pay bills? Or…”
“Glad I’ll be missed,” she said with a wry smile. “Just promise me you’ll keep the urn polished.”
Shawn returned his attention to the TV. The woman was dolled up for her wedding day, gliding down a sweeping staircase. The groom’s smile stretched from one ear to the other. Shawn imagined himself in that white suit, waiting for the love of his life.
“Tell me about your wedding day again, Grandma.”
Ruth didn’t answer.
Shawn looked over and saw her slumped in her rocking chair, looking like a marionette without its strings. “Grandma?” His mouth went dry. He rushed over and shook her, but she only flopped around in his hands.
How to Live Your Best Life Ever
Live the life you want.
Don’t worry about what others think.
Live your best life every single day.
We’ve all seen the myriad articles, posters, quotes, and social media posts encouraging us to do just that. Hell, I’m even guilty of writing a few inspirational posts about how we all need to strive to chase our passions and just live the life we want. But here’s the thing I’ve been thinking about lately: Living your best life is freaking exhausting, scary, and sometimes, quite frankly, feels impossible.
None of us want to live a life of misery and fake feelings or a life that is superficial. We all want the inner peace that comes from living a life that is true to who you are. We all want that monk-like serenity and a confidence in our belief systems that comes with it. And I think I speak for most of us when I say we do our best to try to find all of that.
We read books and take online courses. We binge-watch motivational speakers who tell us how to live our life without caring what others think. We turn to meditation, yoga, nature walks, journaling, or whatever else we can get our hands on in order to find some centering and live the life that speaks to us. Still, so many of us seem to be struggling. So many of us seem to be unhappy and unsure of the life we’re living. However, few of us talk about that. We want to think that if we just put in the work or sift through our emotions, we can be smiling lakeside and taking deep breaths of air in a fresh, perfect life we’ve uncovered within. If we just keep smiling, all will be perfect eventually.
But the thing is: Many of us ARE struggling to find this best life. Many of us feel like we’re failing, which can create its own set of stresses. When you feel like not only are you failing at living your best life but you’re also missing the mark in even trying to find it, it’s easy to discount everything you’ve done. I think that’s perfectly understandable, and I think it makes sense why so many of us are having a hard time figuring out our best selves.
Foremost, there’s something hardwired in our society, especially as women, that creates deep-rooted conflict when we try to chase our best life. A major tenant of this aspiration is that in order to live the life you want, sometimes you have to ignore what everyone else thinks. Here arises conflict one: Most of us have been indoctrinated with the belief that to think of yourself and not others is morally wrong. Women especially are taught from a young age to put others first, to be charitable and considerate of everyone’s feelings. We are taught how to be gracious hosts, how to be sweet, how kindness matters above all else, and how to care for our families. We are taught to avoid conflict like the plague and to turn the other cheek. Often, this leads to all sorts of inner turmoil when we do the unthinkable and examine our own wants, needs, and feelings instead. Even when we know it’s happening, it can be really hard to nullify those worries, even at a subconscious level. Thus, even when we try to examine what we want, we almost always look at it through a lens of what others want from us as well. This means our views of what truly will bring us peace are always contorted by social mores.
In addition, self-doubt is a roadblock in our quest for the best version of our lives. Many of us are guided by fear and reality. When we think about what we really want in life, it can be a complete outlier to the life we are supposed to want. Society has a very defined view of what “living your best life” looks like, and if what you want doesn’t fit that mold, it can be easy to talk yourself out of it. Moreover, many of us let critical self-talk override our dreams. We’re afraid we’re not smart enough, brave enough, worthy enough to pursue whatever life it is we want.
And finally, I think the reason living your best life is so much harder than reading a few self-help books or meditating a few minutes a day is that if we’re honest, so few of us actually really know exactly what we want. Even if we can assuage those deep-seated teachings about selfishness and can overcome the self-doubt monster, many of us are left feeling lost in a forest of different paths when we really get down to it. We dig deep inside of ourselves and wade through the darkness only to find when we get to the center that there’s a big blank space. What the hell do I want? It’s a question I’ve tried to answer over and over and over again in my thirties. Oftentimes, I come up blank.
I don’t know if many of us can be 100% certain about what our best life looks like. If we did, we wouldn’t really need to struggle and to evolve in order to figure things out. We’d all come with an instructions manual and just follow the steps to achieve maximum self-actualization. Life isn’t made that way, though. So much of it, as cheesy as it sounds, really is about the journey.
So, what’s the answer, then, to this mucky ball of confusion surrounding self-fulfillment?
I think it’s that we keep trying to find that elusive pile of gold that is happiness. We try new things to see what sparks joy in us--I’m looking at you, Mari Kondo. We take time to self-reflect. We use the quotes and speakers and meditation and whatever else helps us stay grounded, but we also realize that these aren’t magic fixes. We assess our feelings. We change directions. We change directions again because we understand that our version of our best life might change as we grow, too.
We might get our “best life” wrong at first. We might think we know what it is only to get there and realize that wasn’t what we wanted at all. Sometimes, we might feel within an arm’s reach of our best life. Other times, it might feel like we have to trek through the Grand Canyon to get there and we’re all out of energy.
I hope, though, that no matter where you are in your journey to happiness, you remember this.
You are worthy of happiness, even if it takes a lifetime for you to really sort it out.
It isn’t easy for anyone, no matter what the cheesy posters and inspiring posts tell you.
And most of all, I hope you know that whatever life you’re living, whether it’s your best or not, there are beautiful things about you and your present. Don’t let the gorgeous mountain views pass you by because you’re so focused on reaching the top.
Whether you're newly married, just bought a house of your own, are in college, or are in the middle of your career, many of us struggle so much with our finances. In normal times, figuring out a budget and how to make your money work for you can be tough. During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, many found themselves in new, challenging situations; the long-term effects of the pandemic on finances are quite frightening as well. Thus, for many of us, 2021 is a time to reflect on our financial situation and plan for the future.
When my husband lost his job in 2019, we were sent into a scary financial whirlwind. Then the pandemic hit, and things got worse before they got better. We quickly realized that in our eight years of marriage, we really had never made a financial plan or budget to stick to. Thus, out of the wreckage of those hard years came some benefits--we learned how to create a financial plan and stick to it.
Here are three top tips if you're new to budgeting or if you just need a refresher.
1. Know where you are starting
The first key to a successful budgeting plan is to know exactly what position you are in. This means you need to get real about how much you are spending and where. You need to take a hard look at your debts and what money is going out. Some key questions to ask and to communicate with your partner about:
Facing your actual financial position can be scary. So many of us prefer to stick our heads in the sand and just go with the flow. However, this can lead to issues down the road, especially when the unexpected happens (like a loss of hours at work or a layoff). Know your position and what your goals are.
2. Use Cash
Many budgeting experts, including Dave Ramsey, note that using cash can help you stick to a budget. I implemented an envelope system for our family and have seen great results. Having the physical cash in hand allows you to better assess how you are doing with your targets each month and gives you a visual for what the impact of each purchase will be. I am much less apt to hand over cash on a wasteful purchase knowing how little I will have left in my spending envelope for the month.
Create envelopes for the categories that make sense for you. I have one for spending, one for vet bills, one for entertainment and dates, and one for my hair expenses (which is my splurge). I also have a cash reserve for emergencies.
3. Reflect and Reassess Often
The most important thing to do in order to adhere to your budget is to constantly reflect on how you are doing. Each month, I assess how well I stuck to budget categories and how unexpected expenses tripped me up. My husband and I now have frequent conversations about our money and our future goals so we are on the same page.
A big part of financial planning is simply being honest and realistic about how you are doing. It's easy to ignore budget categories and just swipe the card. However, I have found that the peace of mind that comes from financial peace of mind is worth the extra effort.
Has there ever been a moment, no matter how brief, where you fantasize about disappearing from your own life?
I’m not talking about suicide or kidnapping. I’m not talking about living a life on the run. I’m talking about getting lost in the fantasy of getting in the car and just driving away. Maybe it’s just for a day where no one can text you, the dog can’t ask to go out fifty times, and the dishes aren’t piled up in the sink staring at you. Or maybe it’s longer. Maybe in your fantasy, you drive until you hit a secluded beach town. You trade your corporate office for a job shaking drinks at a Tiki Bar and singing karaoke at night.
From what I’ve gathered, I think so many women have moments (or even many moments) where they fantasize about leaving their life, where they dream that they live a different life entirely. And I think a lot of women are afraid to admit that because it makes us sound ungrateful, selfish, and like bad mothers, partners, and workers.
But here’s the thing, ladies. I think it’s completely understandable why so many of us sometimes get caught up in wishing life was different, simpler, quieter. I think it’s completely reasonable that in modern times, women crave the freedom of being who they want and shedding some of the responsibilities. Because for the modern woman, life is exhausting.
That’s not to say men don’t have their struggles, too. To be human is to struggle. To be human is to be frustrated, to take on too many responsibilities sometimes, and to wonder if you’re doing it right. Today, though, we’re talking about the plight of modern women mostly because, to be honest, that’s what I’m familiar with. As a 33-year-old woman, I feel that’s what I can speak the most accurately to.
We are living in beautiful times as women in so many ways. This is not to say life is perfect or that equality is 100%. I know we still have our inequities, injustices, and major hurdles to overcome. Still, living in 2021 as a woman, I feel like I really do have endless possibilities. Want to be a doctor? Go do it. Want to go to the moon? Sure thing. Want to be a stay-at-home mom? Yes, yes, yes. You really do get to choose what you want to do in your career path, and although we could talk about equal pay controversies, let’s just agree that we do have more freedom of choice than our grandmothers and great-grandmothers. That’s a beautiful thing.
However, with choice and freedom comes responsibility. Because even though we are living in an era where women can chase careers and be who they want to be, there still is so much social pressure on us to carry our traditional roles. No matter how awesome your partner is, so many women I know carry the weight of running the household, dinner, laundry, carting the kids around, and all of the traditional domestic roles our grandmothers carried--except now, many of us are working full-time jobs or chasing careers. Or, even if you are a stay-at-home mother, there’s still so much more on our plates than those who went before us. Times have changed. Schedules are hectic. Gone are the days of quiet dinners at home and peaceful nights by the radio. We live our lives at 100 miles an hour plus, and it can be exhausting keeping up.
Add to that financial stresses, career stresses, social stresses of being a friend worthy of a romcom movie, and no wonder so many of us are walking around feeling like zombies. The to-do lists are never ending at work--and then we come home to a never-ending domestic to-do list. And even with the most helpful husband who carries half the weight, it just still feels like housekeeping and decorating and hosting seems to belong to the female side of the relationship. If my house were cruddy for a family get-together, I know--or at least I’ve been trained to believe--that everyone would be looking at me with disdain, not my husband. The “boys will be boys” attitude seems to carry over into adulthood and into domestic life.
There’s also the fact that for so many women I know, a sense of deep-rooted responsibility causes us to want to do all the things. From the time we are little girls, most of us are taught the worst thing you can be in the world is selfish. Our definitions of selfish morph and twist as we observe social mores, community beliefs, and standards. To be a “good” woman--and, henceforth, daughter, wife, mother, etc--one must be selflessly giving and nice. We must seek to make others smile. We must ask what they need and try to give it to them. We must do all the things for those around us so we can be cherished as a successful female.
Many of us grow up to realize that “selflessness” often treads into the dangerous doormat territory. At some point, most women realize that to give to all means to be empty. We recognize we must say “no,” sometimes and we must put our needs first if we are ever to survive. Still, I would argue that this deep-rooted notion of being selfless is so ingrained in most of us, we still abide by it even when we aren’t trying to.
It’s why we say sure to running all the errands while our husbands take some time to relax.
It’s why we push through and go to the game or the social event even when we feel like we have the flu.
It’s why we take on that extra committee at work even though it will mean we don’t have any time to ourselves during the week.
It’s why we do the dishes at midnight and wash that extra load of laundry and change the sheets on Sunday morning instead of sipping coffee.
It’s why we feel the need to be the best at work and at home. It’s why we feel like we need to do all the things--and with a smile worthy of a magazine, to boot.
It’s why so many women are running around bleary-eyed, passionless, and empty.
We put pressure on ourselves to be perfect at our careers, at our passions, as moms, as pet owners, as wives, as girlfriends, as friends, as mothers, as sisters, as daughters, and every other role we take on. We feel guilty for taking a break or saying “no.” Certainly we can do just one more thing or be just one more thing for someone. If we just do that one last thing, maybe we will be worthy.
But my question is: Worthy of what? Why are we feeling the need to do all the things all the time?
That brings me back to my point. Yes, we are blessed to have more choices than our ancestors did. Yes, the women who have gone before us fought for our right to have freedoms they could only dream of. Yes, I am grateful I can be a teacher or a doctor or a singer or a psychiatrist or whatever I want to be.
But here’s the thing, ladies. Just because you CAN be everything doesn’t mean you have to.
I think sometimes we get so caught up in being all the things that we forget to ask what we really want. What really matters? What fills us up with passion and excitement?
I think that’s where the fantasy of disappearing comes from. It is such a foreign concept for so many of us to get out of bed and be who we want to be and do what we want to do that we fantasize about it. We fantasize about just living for ourselves, about not having to wear a million different hats. I think that’s why so many of us wake up in our 30s or 40s and feel trapped, passionless, and used up.
And I think that’s a shame.
Now listen, I know we can’t all just throw down the laundry baskets and corporate reports and head to the tropics to start a commune where we have no chores. I know we can’t just live a life guided by our whims and our joys. Adult life is a downer in that way. There are some necessary evils of growing up. We can’t all pull a Chris McCandless and disappear from our lives, even if living in the quiet solitude on a bus in Alaska sounds joyous--although it didn’t end well for him.
We can, however, learn from people like Chris McCandless. I think we can realize that to live well is to live peacefully and to chase your dreams. That means you will have to say no to some aspects of your life sometimes. This means you will have to make some changes and that we, as women, must make some promises to each other.
Let’s stop fantasizing about escaping and find escapism in our own lives.
Let’s have those tough conversations with our partners about how burnt-out we are and how we need help.
Let’s stop cleaning baseboards and climbing on chairs to clean a speck of dust off fans when we’re hosting. Let’s be realistic about how busy women are and how we can’t be held to ridiculous domestic standards--nor should we be.
Let’s say “no” at work if taking on a new responsibility isn’t something we want right now. Let’s be honest about the fact that just because we can do it all doesn’t mean we have to.
Let’s stop worrying so much about dishes in the sink or baskets of laundry that need folded. Let’s say screw it sometimes and take the morning off to sip coffee.
Let’s team up with other moms to set up carpool systems so we can get some time to ourselves.
Let’s not feel like every single moment of our lives has to be scheduled or planned. Let’s aim for quality over quantity when it comes to activities. Boredom breeds creativity sometimes.
Most of all, let’s be honest in our struggles. Let’s stop wearing the damn fake perfect white teeth smiles of magazines. Let’s stop stressing about our hair and our weight and our outfits. Let’s be real that sometimes, sweatpants and a frizzy ponytail is the best we can do. Let’s put on that looser shirt when we gain a few pounds instead of starving ourselves to the point of passing out just so we have a flatter stomach.
Let’s stop pretending we are superwomen who can do it all with a smile on our face and high heels. Let’s stop thinking that asking for help is defeat. Let’s stop celebrating fakeness online where celebrity women accomplish millions of things on their own (newsflash: many of them have teams that help them).
Let’s stop idolizing exhaustion and start celebrating mindful rest. Let’s stop writing articles only about superwomen who achieve gargantuan lists of successes. Let’s start celebrating all women because every life is hard, and surviving a regular day is an achievement in itself.
I think if we can start working on these truths and being real about where we are as women, then maybe the fantasies will become more reality-like. And who knows, maybe we’ll find that when we pause and reflect, when we take a breath, that Tiki Bar by the beach is actually what we wanted all along. Or maybe we’ll find that we just needed a minute to make our own Tiki Bar retreat in our space in the world--and some honest reflection to go with it.
Lindsay Detwiler is a high school English teacher and the USA Today Bestselling author of numerous novels including The Widow Next Door and Inked Hearts. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, their six rescue cats, and Great Dane, Edmund. To learn more, follow her on Instagram.
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