On Being Happy

I won’t go into all the details, but I have been struggling on a personal level a lot this year. I realized recently that I haven’t been entirely happy and that has really made me not want to do things that I usually love to do.

The important part of this is that I also realized that my happiness is 100% in my control. I have had some great opportunities and I have amazing, supportive people in my life. I have an amazing job that I really love and I live in a very beautiful place. I thought to myself, how am I unhappy with all these incredible and positive things? What is it that is making me unhappy? The problem is right there. I am way to focused on the outside factors. Happiness is something that can be influenced by outside factors but is ultimately a thing I can control. I can control my own attitudes about my situation and about life in general. This might sound intuitive to some but for me this has been a big realization. I need to take the necessary steps for myself to be happier and have a better outlook on life.

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I want to make a quick note that generally I am a very positive person and don’t usually have a problem making friends and being happy. I have gone through some big changes in the past year and I think I struggled a lot with that. It put me in a state of mind that was not as positive and I started blaming things on other people or outside factors.

A few things I have been doing to change my mindset:

  1. Lots of yoga. This is one that is probably different for everyone but moving your body is a really great way to focus on something else (not thinking too much) while moving your body and getting in touch with your physical self. I overthink things a lot and letting myself let go for an hour or two each day is such a beautiful gift. I want to be clear about this one, it is not at all about losing weight or even being physically fit, its about getting to know myself better and focusing my mind on that.
  2. The 5 minute journal. I only started this about five days ago but I spent a lot of time thinking about it and debating whether or not I should give it a try. I wanted something that puts me in a more positive mindset from the get go every morning. This journal seemed like a great way to influence my initial attitudes about the day while still being true to myself. The journal is just a daily journal with more directed prompts. The prompts are short and quick to make it a very easily attainable habit.
  3. Everyday joys. Incorporation of the things I love and am passionate about into my every day life has been a fun way to remind myself of what I do and who I am, everyday. This sounds vague so I will be more specific about what I am doing. I first made a list of things I love and care about and am trying to dedicate at least 5 minutes a day to thinking about each thing. I am trying to incorporate this into my Instagram stories because it gives me a sense of accountability to those things and it lets me shares those things that I love. One example of this is finding a cool nature video on YouTube or taking the time to explain an interesting biological concept (I think about biology all day but this gives me dedicated time to remind myself of why I love biology). It could also be sharing a trend I am into or a book I am loving. I will say that of all the things on this list, this one is the least developed, meaning I have not made it a habit yet so it might change a little over time.
  4. Intentionality with food. This absolutely does not mean that I am only eating super healthy food, it also does not mean that I previously was not eating healthily. It just means that I am focusing more on what I eat and how it makes me feel. Balance is such an important part of life and it is something I am trying to intentionally bring into my diet. A green smoothie every day has really improved my stomach problems and it has increased my vegetable intake significantly.
  5. Saying yes. In the past I have been that person that always says yes, is always overcommitted and takes every opportunity. This definitely made my life crazy busy but I like being busy, I feel like I work harder, am more productive and am happier when I have lots to do. I realized that I have been making excuses a lot lately which is very unlike me. So, I am trying to say yes to more social things and volunteer for different opportunities at school.

Being happy is a big part of creating the life I want to live. Realizing and recognizing that I have been unhappy has been a big step for me. I definitely hid my feelings and tried to convince myself over and over that everything is okay I am entirely happy with my life right now. It is okay to not be great and happy all the time. Life ebbs and flows and that is just a part of being human. I can’t always control what goes on around me but I can control how I choose to react to things. I may have a gut feeling about something uncontrollable but ultimately I can control how I feel about it in the long run. I choose to be happy with the person I am and to do more of what makes me happy.

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I hope you had a nice, relaxing February. Its already almost March, so crazy!

Erin

New York City for a Day

During the holidays I went into New York City with my boyfriend’s family. It has been over a month since this little trip but I still really wanted to share it since I had such a great time. The last time I was in the city was for several hours during a layover on the way to Iceland and we did not have time to really do or see much. Before that I had not been to NYC since I was eleven. That trip was amazing (we saw the Rockettes) but I no longer remember that much. My boyfriend and his family are not really city people so although they live close ( in New Jersey) they don’t go in that often. I was very excited to explore a little!

We started by walking from Bryant Park to Times Square. You could see the ball all set up and ready for new years. We got a nice view by going up a nearby hotel (the Marriott Marquis, it is a great way to avoid crowds as well). From here we walked to Rockefeller Center to see the tree and ice skating rink. Skating would have been fun but the line was hours long and the rink was pretty crowded (I am clearly not used to being in busy cities, not to mention the time of year in NYC). Our next stop was the New York Public Library. It is such a beautiful building (and its free!) with lots of books and some interesting art exhibits. We ate dinner at Virgil’s near Times Square (very affordable and delicious BBQ). For dessert we got cookie dough from Cookie Dough Confections at the market in Bryant Park and did a little shopping and exploring. For our final adventure of the night we walked to Saks 5th Avenue in attempt to see the windows but it ended up being much more of an adventure then we had anticipated. There were hundreds (probably thousands) of people throughout the street. You literally could not move. It ended up being an amazing light show at Sak’s. It was amazing but the number of people was a little ridiculous (pushing and shoving). Eventually we made it out of the mob and headed back to New Jersey. It was quite the adventure!

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Personally, I would love to go back. I feel like there is so much more to do and see. I think if I actually wanted to do things going back at a time of year when there aren’t so many people would be key.

2019 Goals

I am a little later than I had hoped to be for this but I still really wanted to do a 2019 goals post. I find these kinds of posts so helpful for me, personally, in sticking to my goals for the year.

Before I get into 2019 I want to do a quick recap of last year’s goals. My major categories were fitness, jobs, travel and friendships. I did okay with my fitness goal for the first half of the year but it definitely fell of the map once I started grad school and because of that I am including it in my goals for this year as well. I think I made some big moves in the jobs category and feel great about where I am right now as a PhD student. I really love this job and love taking classes still so I do have specific goals for my job but I am not making a category since I feel really good about it. I think I also very much fulfilled my travel goal for 2018 and while I will definitely continue to travel this year I did not make it a 2019 goal. Finally, friendships which is a little difficult to gauge but I feel like I did okay at this one. I could do better though and my relationships with people are too important not to include as a goal in 2019 (they will probably be something I always include because they are such a priority for me).

And now on to 2019…

Relationships: I looked back at my section on friendships from my 2018 goals and this is going to be very similar. So many of my good friends live all across the country (and the world) so the situation is still pretty similar. I need to make a conscious effort to keep in touch with people and that can be difficult and time consuming so I do feel like I need to think about some more specific ways I can do that. One thing that would be fun is sending letters. I want to send all of my friends one piece of snail mail throughout the year. I also want to try to visit one or two friends who don’t live close in 2019. This definitely includes my family since I am now in a full time job and living away from all of them. I also need to make friends and work on friendships where I am living now more. That has been really hard with graduate school and being in a new environment but making friends has never been a problem for me before so I feel like I really just need to put the time in and make a conscious effort. I am also including my boyfriend in this category and it is going to be similar for the first several months as we are still living apart but he will be moving here in June so my goals there will definitely change. I think the biggest thing for that relationship is just being very conscious of both myself and him and what we both need in our relationship.

Personal: I am not going to go into this a ton but I am in need of some serious personal ‘discovery’. This sounds a little ridiculous but I feel like I have lost myself a little bit over the past year and a half (basically since graduating college) and part of that is probably due to the fact that I have not had a place to really settle down and parts of me have been spread out across the country. I am really hoping to focus on my self a little this year and prioritize figuring out who I want to be, while taking into account who I am right now and where I come from. This sounds like a really vague goal but in all honesty I don’t have a game plan for this goal yet. It just been something I have thought about a ton and am realizing that I have the power to do something about it.

Fitness: This is definitely the epitome of a new years resolution. Even so, it is important for me to set fitness goals every year. It makes it easier for me to hold myself accountable. This year I am really trying to push this one by setting specific goals and rewards for myself. There are two parts for this. First is walking at least 30 minutes every single day. The second part is doing some sort of workout (whether that is yoga, running or strength training) at least five days per week. I am actually starting with six days a week just to help myself get into it. I am pretty good at working out a lot when I am in a grove but if I stop it is so hard to get back into for me so I am trying to minimize breaks.

Nutrition: In general I eat pretty healthy but I think putting this as a goal is important since both my health in the present and my long term health can be affected. I also specifically have been wanting to get into making healthy smoothies and this is definitely the year. So far I have made at least one smoothie almost every day since I have been home this year. Also in this category is eating less meat. I might talk about this later but for now I just want to do my best to not buy much meat and only eat it once or twice a week.

Blog:  In creating a goal around this blog it is important for me to revisit why I started this blog. I created this and continue to do it for me. It is an outlet that lets me get out of the science world for a little bit and express a side of myself that I don’t usually get to (don’t get me wrong I love science and am basically thinking about biology all day every day). Creativity is an important part of who I am and its something that I don’t feel like I get to really do on a daily basis. I am busy but do want to keep up and try to keep a schedule. I am not going to give exact days but in the next few months I want to get to three times a week. Hopefully I can find the time to give a little more to this project and come into myself on this blog. It has been hard for me to find a good balance between really making this mine and doing what I want vs. what everyone else is doing.

Reading: Kind of along the lines of blogging, I love reading and want to do my best to read a book a week. It is so tough because I have to read so much for grad school so I end up not reading nearly as much as I would like to for fun. I set my Goodreads goal for 30 books, like last year, but I am still trying for a book a week. We shall see how that goes. So far I am almost done with my third book so I am on track, however the two books I finished were both audiobooks (way easier with school).

In comparing my 2019 goals to 2018’s I think its really interesting that a lot of them are very different. I actually really like that because it really feels like I am reflecting on what I need in 2019 and what I did not do as well in 2018.

I hope you are having a great 2019 so far and have set some good goals for yourself!

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Erin

Recent Purchases

So I did an Instagram try on to go with this post (first try on, not sure how I feel about talking to the camera). These are things I have purchased over the past month (at least). I definitely won’t be keeping everything but I still wanted to share!

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Eberjey Hoodie: I have had my eye on this  for several months and finally decided to order it while it was on sale. It is possible the softest top I have ever tried on. The only thing to note is that the sleeves are shorter, so the fit is a little unexpected but I still think it is very comfy and perfect for a lazy weekend.

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Everlane Hoodie: I shared this hoodie mostly because its from the company Everlane which is a sustainable clothing company. I am really trying to shop more sustainably and live out my values more, especially when it comes to clothing.

 

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Chenille Sweater: Seriously, Aerie has some of the comfiest clothing ever. I have several sweaters from them and love them all, plus they are super affordable. This chenille one is so so comfy and very oversized. Also the color is great!

New Balance Running Shoe: I am going to give the credit to Lauren Sims for these shoes. I have been needing something versatile like this that is comfortable but can be worn with slightly nicer things (I also wanted black).

 

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Grey Striped Top: This is slightly more of a tunic, which I didn’t really expect, but I actually really like that because it can be easily worn with leggings. It is very soft and great for everyday (gotta love a striped shirt).

 

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Blush Jacket: This jacket is so so comfortable and very flattering. I ordered it but didn’t really think I would keep it because I do already have a pink jacket (different shade) that is kind of similar. I also was skeptical since I order a slightly bigger size than I usually would. The minute I tried it on I knew I would have a problem because it is so so cute. The color is so perfect and I actually really like the roomier fit.

 

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Lilly Dress: So I saw this in a boutique on Captiva Island and loved it but was not about to pay over $200 (I am a grad student over here). The Lilly After Party Sale was coming up so I checked first thing for the dress and sure enough! I don’t wear Lilly a ton but I love some of their simpler designs (I am not a big pattern person).

 

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Dress: So disclaimer, I am almost positive I am going to send this one back. It is very cute and I love the pattern, but it was pretty tight, especially in the arms. I just don’t think I would choose to wear it very much since its definitely tighter.

Levi’s Denim Jacket: This is definitely the best denim jacket ever. It is so so comfy and the perfect mix of fitted and oversized (sounds contradictory but its really right in the middle, very flattering but also very comfortable).

Straw Crossbody: While in Captiva I also popped in the J. McLaughlin shop and spotted the cutest straw bag (I would use as a crossbody). The price tag is definitely more than I can afford but I really loved and decided to look for something similar. I found this one on Nordstrom’s website but am still not completely sold. I really like the style but I feel like it is a little bulkier than I wanted.

I hope you had a great weekend!

Erin

Holiday Wishlist

I decided not to do gift guides this year because there are so many out there and gifts can be really personal (this year lots of mine are specific to the person). I might do them in the future but for now I decided to make a holiday wish list. This can still give others an idea of what to ask for and what to give. Mine is definitely general and I am not expecting to get everything (or even anything) but these are some things I have been wanting for a while.

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  1. Align leggings: I don’t need to say much about these but I love Lululemon leggings and I wear leggings almost every day so I am really wanting to try the align tight. This photo is of Zella leggings which are amazing too!
  2. Superga sneakers: These have been in my Nordstrom cart several times but I have just yet to pull the trigger. I know I would wear them a ton and have been on the lookout for some good, comfortable sneakers for a while.
  3. Kitchen Aid mixer: I did not actually ask for a kitchen aid this year but it is on my long term wish list so I wanted to include it.
  4. Cozy hoodie: There are a couple of hoodies that I have had my eye on and this Eberjey one looks especially comfy!
  5. 2019 planner: I didn’t specify exactly which one but I definitely like to have a paper planner to organize my days. It helps especially with the longer term things.
  6. Smoothie blender: An easy way to make healthy breakfasts is becoming necessary for grad school!

Happy Holidays!

Erin

Winter Wonder

Although I love fall, I am just as psyched about winter this year! I absolutely love the snow and everything that comes with it. Wintery days by the fire, holiday cheer and the new year! There are also so many fun things to do in the winter. It is strange because technically winter does not start for another week but we have had snow in Utah for several months now!

Snowflakes
Pine Trees
Sledding
Winter White
Snow Boots
New Years
Wood Fires
Fairy Lights
Christmas Trees
Puffy Jackets
Skiing
Evergreen
Baking cookies
Ice Skating

There are so many things to do this winter. I have so much planned for the holidays and then a busy spring semester starting in January!

Erin

Favorite Closet Additions of 2018

I am trying to spend money as little as possible right now because I am in graduate school and on a very tight budget, however I have made a few purchases this year that I am very excited about and have been wearing on repeat. Here are my favorite items of clothing that I purchased in 2018. I am not including any accessories but am including one pair of shoes that I absolutely love.

Patagonia hoodie: This is hands down my favorite item from 2018. I wear it everywhere! It is so comfortable and the quality is amazing. I also love supporting Patagonia because they have an amazing mission and story!

Leather hooded jacket: This is probably my second favorite purchase from the whole year. It is so comfortable and easy to pair with just about anything (I wore it in my Living in Utah post for an outfit idea). I have never owned a leather jacket and was not sure how I felt about them but this one is absolutely perfect. The gold hardware and hood really drew me in!

Houndstooth skirt: This has been a very popular item with a lot of bloggers and I could not resist those perfect fall colors. I love how people had been styling it and was so pleasantly surprised by how comfortable and flattering it is!

Leopard booties: This were more of a fall thing since it is pretty snowy in Utah right not so I have been sticking to snow boots. But these from Sezane were they perfect way to bring that leopard trend to a classic I wear all the time (heeled booties).

Wunder leggings: I actually ended up getting two pairs one black and one grey and they are so amazing for everyday wear. My black ones are also great for yoga and lighter work outs.

Zella joggers: I got some grey Zella joggers at the Nordstrom sale this year and they have become my go to for loungewear/sweatpants. I will also go ahead and give a shout out to Zella leggings because they are just as good as some Lululemon pairs and way cheaper.

Cashmere white pearl sweater: White sweaters are great because they can be worn pretty much year round. This one is so soft and was definitely a splurge but worth it. I am also a big fan of this Free People sweater, I wore it basically all August and September!

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Erin

Living in Utah

The past four months have been an intense introduction to graduate school, not to mention the fact that I moved to an entirely new state. I chose my graduate program for my lab/advisor (I might talk about this more in a later post) however the location is definitely a bonus! I am a mountain girl through and through and am thrilled to be back in the rockies. Talk about 360 mountain views!

Here are my five favorite things about living in Utah:

Mountains galore. I can’t even explain how beautiful it is! The valley I live in is surrounded my mountains and I love it. There are such amazing hiking trails and plenty of rock climbing.

Salt Lake City. I don’t actually live in Salt Lake but I have gone a couple times and I really like it. There is so much good music, food and drink! I am actually going down there tomorrow with some friends to go to the German Christmas Market.

The location. This sounds kind of strange but I really love being back in the west. I was born and raised in Colorado and I am so psyched to be back in the area. It is way closer to family which is nice as well. There are also so many great national parks and ski areas!

Skiing. Speaking of ski areas! I haven’t skied yet but I have heard great things about the skiing here and am beyond excited.

The people. Everyone has been so nice and I am loving all the outdoor vibes. Moving is so tough especially when you don’t really know anyone so having good people around has been so helpful.

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I also quick wanted to mention that Utah is incredible and so is graduate school but it has been so busy so I am hoping to get on a more regular posting schedule soon!

Erin

 

 

 

Life Update

Wow I have no idea where to even start with this post! Life has not stopped being crazy which has been incredible in many ways but also overwhelming. There have been a ton of amazing opportunities and adventures but I have had almost no time to process anything! Here is my best crack at an update on my life lately:

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Grad School

In August I started my first year of graduate school at Utah State University and I have been so so busy. I enjoy being busy and I think having more to do helps me be more productive but right now it is so tough to get everything done. I am teaching a class, doing research and taking my own classes, on top of moving to a brand new place and trying to figure out my life here. I barely have had time to think which is kind of crazy! The biggest thing I have come to realize is how much time professors spend on single classes. At least three days out of my week have been fully dedicated to preparing for and teaching a class that meets once a week (although we do have three sections). I spend one day focusing on my own research which comprises mostly of reading lots of scientific papers right now. The rest of my days in the week are spent in classes, doing homework and helping around our lab. I have had fairly little time for myself and do not feel like I have been utilizing that time all that well. Also if you don’t know I am starting my PhD in biology!

Summer

I am not even sure where to start with the past few months. So much has happened. My sister and I got back from Europe at the end of July, just in time for the wedding of a family friend (which was very beautiful). My mom and I left the next day to move a bunch of my stuff out to Utah. I had a few meetings with my lab but the trip was mostly filling out paperwork, moving in and getting some things set up. We only stayed three days before driving back to Boulder so I could pick up my friend who came to visit. I absolutely loved having her visit! We hiked every single day, visited the national park and did a short backpacking trip (which I did do a post about). She visited for about a week and then I left for New England because my boyfriend’s family was on vacation. I will do a post on this trip in the coming weeks because it was so beautiful and such a great place to visit (we were mostly in New Hampshire)! I flew home a week later and had one day to get any last minute things, pack the car head out to Utah.

As a side note, I was driving by myself for eight hours so I listened to the book Educated by Tara Westover and I highly recommend it! I spent my first week in Utah doing lots of safety related trainings and getting things in order. Classes started the second week and that Friday I left for Bahamas for 10 days of field work in the Exumas. My trip to the Bahamas was pretty crazy as well! I got sick (for two whole days!), visited pigs, went snorkeling and collected tons of data. I also met some great people and had lots of productive conversations about research!

Fall Outdoor Adventures

I having been really trying to get outside for a little bit every day and do something a little bigger once a week. This has definitely been way harder than I expected! Last weekend though I went camping up in the canyon with some friends which was so fun and very needed. The leaves were bright yellow and the air was cool and crisp. I have had fall camping on my seasonal goals for the past few years and it finally happened! A friend and I also went to the harvest festival to get pumpkins which as so fun and really put me in the mood for fall.

Apple picking has also given me some hard core fall feels. The house I am renting has two beautiful apple trees so I have been trying to bake when I can and freeze as many more as I can. I made an apple pie for our camping trip and am now psyched to get creative with some other apple recipes (we seriously have so many apples)!

Meditating

One of the best things for me lately has been meditating. I took a hiatus for a while and am so so glad to be back at it. I went ahead and bought the student yearly plan on Headspace and it is so worth it. It has been about a week since I started and I am feeling so much better already! Taking a few minutes every morning really helps clear my head and puts me in a better place to start the day.

Reading

One last update! While I definitely have not had as much time for reading, I did finish Circe while in the Bahamas and loved it. If you at all like greek mythology you will love it. The whole thing is about Circe (commonly known for her role in The Odyssey) and her struggles as the not so beloved daughter of Helios. Right now I am listening to In a Dark Dark Wood on Overdrive and I am hooked. If you haven’t heard of Overdrive it is a great way to get audiobooks on loan from your local library!

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Have a great weekend!

Erin

Fall Feels

Autumn is here once again and I couldn’t be more excited about the change in weather. I love love love the cool crisp days and the winds that require warm drinks and thick layers. I love every season but fall is definitely my favorite. The colors are beautiful, the food is fantastic (gotta love anything pumpkin) and I love the holiday season. I am changing up the format of my seasonal goals posts to more of a ‘fall favorites’ type list. I would consider the start of fall to be right around now… I can feel it in cool mornings and the leaves are starting to change!

Crunchy leaves
Pumpkins
Apple picking
Shades of orange
Bean Boots
Halloween
Bonfires
Plaids
Cups of tea
Sweaters
Hiking in the clear cool air
Burgundy
Spooky movies
Long walks

 

Also, check out my 10 Halloween Movies for some more fall/Halloween inspiration. Cozying up with a good book or movie is another great way to get excited for this time of year.

Erin