We did it, Class of 2010, we survived the first four years of life post-grad. There were ups, downs… drama and love. I like to think I found myself in those darkest times and, also, in the brightest times. I found courage I didn’t know I had and I found a will to succeed that I didn’t even imagine myself possessing.
I’ve always been stubborn. Always. I’m a Taurus, a child of May… a child who grew into a woman who always knew what she wanted and went after it, fearlessly.
The thing about that is that the fear, eventually, creeps in. It comes at you when you’re down, in the corner, with the towel over your face, trying to recover before the bell dings… you have to summon ONE more breath, get up and beat the hell out of it. You have to use fear to motivate you. “How DARE you make me afraid of chasing my dreams?” That’s what I yell at fear now, but it wasn’t always that easy.
Finding yourself in college is safe. Years ago, I compared my college to a terrarium. It impressed a Professor I truly respected and it made me realize that maybe, just maybe I was good enough to chase the dreams that played on repeat in my head while I lived out a very different life in a sleepy town in Connecticut.
You can try to be any person you want for four years, without very many consequences. You have a roof over your head, (mostly) stable finances, friends around the corner and an endless supply of activities that you “literally cannot” imagine being any busier.
And then it happens. You’re thrown into the world… that’s world with a capital “W.” You have to pay your bills, you have to make sure your laundry is done, you have to try (and often fail) to keep something, anything alive in your little apartment (I’ve killed poinsettias… maybe it’s just me), you have to cook & clean and do all those things that you thought elves did in the night. You have to find a job that pays the bills and satisfies the need we millennials have to “be happy.” WTF does that mean? Does it mean money? In the beginning, for me anyway, it did. It meant getting paid what I was worth, to do a job I was proud of. It meant being trusted to do the job I was born to do.
But a funny thing happens after you hit that mark, you start wondering “what’s next?” As I turn 26 (a week from today!), I find myself without any near-future goals. I had a ton of goals for 25 when I graduated (and, thankfully, accomplished them. #humblebrag) but now I find myself with long term goals, goals that will take patience and time; things I do not often find myself with an abundance of.
You read Things I Learned From, Elite Daily, Levo League, Huffington Post, Cosmo and endless Buzzfeed Listicles about the “next phase.” You see friends get engaged, pregnant, move away, break up and make up. You see all these things and you go along on your own path… to love, fame, success… whatever you’re chasing. At the same time, you’re wondering “maybe I should jump over to that road? They look happy enough.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been satisfied with “good enough.”
So you forge your own path, with literal blood, sweat and tears. With fears, with doubt, with courage, with love. With self-love… lots and lots of self-love.
And then one day, you look up and you realize it’s time to coast. That it’s time to enjoy all these near-successes on the road to the long term goals.
Hold up. Don’t #angrytweet just yet.
Coasting doesn’t mean slacking at work or forgetting to pay your cable bill. It means enjoying the life you’ve created and trying to make the LIFE part of that just a tiny bit better.
I define success as “doing what you want with the people you want to be with.” Take that to mean whatever you want it to mean, but don’t you think part of it is taking the time to truly “smell the roses.”
As I “graduate” into real life, I’m taking the time to celebrate my accomplishments, much like I did four years ago.
We’ve made it out alive, 2010, isn’t that something to be grateful for?
Hair has an expiration date.
The first day of your haircut is usually met with tears, unless you’re really lucky. This is especially true for short hair (like mine)… the first day can either be the best day of your life or the worst, depends on the stylist. I finally have a stylist I really like (Margie at Lovella UES), but even so, the haircut has an expiration date.
Back to the timeline…
The first week is good, second week is the best and the third week is a stretch. By the fourth week you’re literally counting the hours until you can go get it shaped up so that you look like you.
I’m currently rocking #week2 hair and I feel like I can conquer the world — there’s just something about feeling like your look is “on point” that makes you feel invincible.
What’s your week of #hairmagic? Share with me on Twitter!
Ahhh, aglio ed olio. My favorite phrase in all of my “childhood phrases.” When my great- (and in some cases, great-great-great) grandparents came to America, they didn’t want to be “too” Italian, but they did bring along some essential phrases. It kills me that they didn’t teach my grandparents and parents the language, but the recipes (and the love, lots and lots of love) made their way down. Aglio ed olio is one of those phrases… although it sounds like “Aliga Oliga” when we say it. It basically means garlic and oil and is the BEST thing you can marinate/cook with. Here’s my fancy side dish recipe which really takes 2.3 seconds to make.
Bag of frozen string beans
Garlic (or garlic powder/garlic salt actually works really well with this)
Onion (or onion powder)
Cheese (or vegan cheese)
To Make It:
Heat up a skillet with olive oil. Toss in garlic and onion (or the powders). Brown the ingredients. Add pepper, if you like pepper.
Defrost string beans in the microwave — punch holes in the bag with a knife or fork and put on high for about 2 minutes.
Throw the entire bag into the oil.
Toss with tongs. Cook for about 10 minutes, or when they are tender (which means, stick a fork in it and see if it slides through).
Add cheese, let cook down a little. If you want to make it a little crunchy, add bread crumbs at this point.
Cook until cheese is melted (and bread crumbs should be a little brown, if added).
My grandmother’s last – and favorite – meal was macaroni and peas. Everyone has their own special recipe and this one helps me think about her. She passed away when I was 9, so I always make this meal when I need a little extra courage as I truly believe she’s my guardian angel and is really there for me whenever I need her. I feel like this meal tells her I need a little extra courage that day or that week and usually, she gets it.
1 can of peas, drained (option: frozen peas work well too if you don’t have cabinet space)
2 tablespoons olive oil (I tend to swirl this around the bottom of the pan, but I’d estimate that’s how much I use)
Salt, pepper and red pepper to taste
1 lb of gluten free pasta… or a bag from Trader Joe’s, it’s not a true lb, but it does the trick!
To Make It:
Put water on for the pasta. Add salt and olive oil, especially if you’re making gluten-free pasta.
Put olive oil in a pan with onion and garlic. I use garlic powder when I’m being lazy, but it tastes better with a whole head of elephant garlic (which I used because I hate peeling garlic). Let the garlic and onion brown. Add a little red pepper or Trader Joe’s rainbow pepper mill pepper, about two “spins.”
Add peas to the oil. Let them cook until they’re soft. If you can pick them up with a fork, you’re good. Usually about 10 minutes.
Drain pasta and then put the oil mixture into the pasta. Add cheese.
Serve with a glass of red wine, light a candle and melt the bad day away.
My favorite winter dinner is chili. I love making it because it’s easy ( you literally put everything in the pot and just make sure it doesn’t burn) and I love eating it. It’s also really easy to transport with my newest #toriaism space saver idea, mason jars. Living in an apartment is wonderful but it also requires a LOT of creativity. My fridge is small and everything really needs to fit exactly in to place in order for me to be able to cook for the week, something I like to do when I’m trying to stay on a healthy track.
#Toriaism: Make this recipe on Sunday and put at least four portions into mason jars. Freeze two of the portions so you aren’t tired of it by the end of the week. It can be frozen for several months and eaten for a week if left in the fridge.
1 container ground turkey (or beef, tofu, chicken)
1 small can of crushed tomatoes, chunky (I really like the San Marzano cartons; use half of this)
1 can of beans (drained)
1 can of olives (drained)
Cayenne, hot sauce, paprika, chili powder and red pepper to taste
To Make It:
Add a little oil to a saucepan (something with a cover… or something that you can put a plate over to cover) and add onion, garlic to the oil. Brown slightly then add the meat.
Let the meat brown slightly and then add all the other ingredients and spices.
Bring it to a boil then let simmer for 1-2 hours. Boil should take 15-20 minutes.
AT THE SAME TIME:
Cook brown rice or quinoa (or miracle noodles (no calorie noodles that are made from a magical calorie-free plant. Don’t ask, just eat)). I like to use frozen brown rice because it cooks really fast, in the microwave, and it’s easy to store in the freezer. You can also use microwavable rice, basically, whatever you’d like to put under the chili. If it’s the summer, I tend to put salad under it.
Put single size servings into mason jars while the chili is cooking. Once the chili is done, add a serving to each mason jar. Let cool for 10-15 minutes. Then, cover and store. When transporting, put in a plastic bag to protect your purse!
Monday, October 28, 2013. 10 weeks left to the start of 2014.
Where does the time go?
This year has been one of dramatic change — I accomplished several life goals, turned 25 and made a life for myself in one of the toughest places around — the Concrete Jungle.
I’ve also learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned that I need to watch for signs of burnout and create a list of “negotiable” to make sure that, no matter what stress I encounter, I stay positive and happy. I’ve learned to avoid BS as much as possible and, to trust my gut no matter what.
Good things come to those who work their asses off and I’ve spent the year doing just that.
Now, it’s time to open another chapter of my book. A chapter in which I thought — in my 26th year — I’d be starting a family. I’m nowhere near ready for that and, unlike I thought I’d feel, I am grateful. I’m grateful I’m still finding myself and creating the life I want to bring someone (and, hopefully, little someones) into. Success is often a lonely road, but at the end should be the happiness you’re working so hard for. I have learned to take the time to smell the roses and enjoy the joys that working so hard allows me to have.
My goals for the next ten weeks are:
Get back to a workout routine that actually works for me.
I miss my daily yoga in Long Island but I love SoulCycle. Unfortunately, I can’t afford SoulCycle five days a week right now, so I need to find something else that gives me that high and peace.
Get back to blogging/vlogging.
Sharing my experiences with others makes my life better, so I’m going to focus on that.
Positivity above all else.
Cut the BS. Trim the people who bring you down. I’m working on surrounding myself with the positivity I need to succeed and cutting all drama out.
Go with my gut.
In the words of the great Olivia Pope, I will always trust my gut because it is ALWAYS right.
Enjoy these last 10 weeks. Take in the holidays with a grain of salt (and a lot of wine). Enjoy the time with your family, friends. Enjoy the stresses — they will push you beyond your wildest dreams.
Ahhh yes. This one. I have such a Love/Hate relationship with this one. G says this one often…and I’ve told her that, sometimes, it makes me want to bite her (we’ll get to the ones about when to bite and when to not; we’ve both acknowledged our inner “bear.”) but, at the end of the day, it’s always right…as much as I hate to admit it.
Think about it — ever waited on a job interview, or a call back from a guy? This applies (well, with guys, it only applies sometimes). Ever waited to get into a school or be accepted into a program? This applies.
Any waiting you’ve ever done in your life will, somehow, be answered by this question.
So, keep your chin up, it takes longer to say yes than it does to say no.
Today’s Move In Day at Quinnipiac University — my alma mater. QU is so much more than some school I attended, it’s home. It’s where I learned to run, it’s where I learned to be independent, it’s where I became “V.”
The summer I graduated, I read “Commencement,” which broke down the four years after college into freshman, sophomore, junior and senior years. I definitely tweeted about junior year, but I’ve been busy, so I haven’t written a post about this in a while. Here it goes:
Freshman Year: May 2010 – May 2011
Graduated, moved to Long Island, got a job, got another job, moved again. Found love, lost love. Fell in love with myself and figured out who I wanted to be.
Sophomore Year: June 2011 – May 2012
Went on a national morning show as an expert about college, picked up freelance jobs, left freelance jobs, moved twice and got a brand new job — the dream job. Moved (again) (yes, if you’re counting that’s three apartments in two years).
Junior Year: June 2012 – May 2013
Found Hot Yoga, lost hot yoga. Moved back to Staten Island, moved into Manhattan. Worked the Dream Job and fell in love with me again. Dated, hated it, moved on. Found SoulCycle. Spoke at EIJ about Social Media and how YOU can manage your brand. Blogged. Found my inner “Carrie.”
Senior Year: June 2013 – May 2014
And this year? This year has already been full of surprises. Found that I do, in fact, love living in Manhattan. Saw my first friend get married. Lost a workout routine, found a workout routine. Learned when to run and when to fight. And now? Now, it’s time to keep pushing…keep moving. Taking that lazy river path to the rapids and seeing just how good I am at keeping my balance on the life raft we call life.
After this year? After this year, I’m officially a life graduate…whatever that means. This year, I will have been out of school as long as I was in (I graduated in 3.5 years, so it’s technically true earlier, but who’s counting?) and I’m ok with that. I wrote a list when I graduated with all the things I wanted to accomplish by 25 and, #humblebrag, I accomplished every single one of them. That’s scary. It’s scary to set out to do something and to actually accomplish it because now I feel “what’s next?” I’m a planner without a plan. And I think I like it that way, for now. Of course, I have a list — By 30, I want a French Bulldog and a Terrace — but I think that’s quite a small list in terms of the goals I set for myself, don’t you?
The rest? I’m leaving that up to fate…although I may give the river a few extra shoves, I’m definitely letting life take me where it will and hope you’re doing the same.