Posted in Not Today Anxiety

No Filter

Ever since I started becoming more accepting of myself on the inside (thanks Prozac), I have started to look at my outside differently. I have come to the conclusion that I am tired of trying to keep up with society’s standards of how I look.

Image result for hannah gadsby i identify as tired

In elementary school you wear what brings you comfort with sneakers, t-shirts, hoodies, shorts, and pants. You don’t care if you get grass stains on them, you just want to play. A good comb through of the hair and a brush of the teeth and you’re good to go. As you hit your tweens, glasses and braces accompany the acne. Your friends start to shave their legs and you wonder if you should too. Your mom takes you bra shopping and you are mortified. All you really want is to look like Molly Ringwald in Sixteen Candles.

In junior high your hair isn’t straight/curly/long/short/perfect enough and you use way too much hairspray to try and get it right (it never is). You get contacts to replace the glasses but the braces won’t come off for another 2 years. Your chest grows as much as it’s going to and you realize that in the land of big boobs you aren’t even a contestant in the competition.

High school comes and your hair is finally the way you want it but it doesn’t matter because you just don’t look the “right” way. Your twenties is about experimenting and you start coloring your hair, wearing makeup, and getting piercings. Tanning beds, going to the beach, and laying out gives you a glow that makes your unacceptable pale skin acceptable. At least you can still eat what you want.

You get married in your 30s and a month later become pregnant. Two years later you become pregnant again. You bounce back within a month with both kids and go back to working out but that lower stomach fat is here to stay.

Your 43rd birthday brings shorts that are too tight. All your clothes make you hot. You accept that you aren’t going to be as small as you were in your twenties and that going up a size isn’t the end of the world. Pilates, jogging, biking, weight lifting, and yoga give you strength and health. You see yourself being active to the day you die and that will always be the motivation. Big hats, as much as you don’t want to wear them, are a necessity. You bring bangs back to cover up those forehead lines but decide to join the Grombre movement because your hair color no longer defines you. Green and cruelty free is your motto with skincare and makeup. The less chemicals on your person, the better. Fashion will always be fun but you feel yourself moving closer and closer to Julia Louis Dreyfus’s character in Enough Said as your aesthetic:

Natural hair, casual but stylish, minimal makeup-she is a goddess

You’ve always presented yourself the way you want but now you have confidence in your decisions and that is freeing. And even though magazines like Cosmopolitan and Vogue are becoming more inclusive, there is still Facebook and Instagram. Social media is the new magazine with the airbrushed model on the unrealistic cover. It’s a standard that is impossible to live up to. You know that. But your brain still insists on telling you that you are less than. And rather than give up scrolling, you start telling yourself that you are good enough and that you don’t need no stinkin’ filters to present who you are to the world.

Posted in Not Today Anxiety

Sleepover Mania

Since Curls and Red have birthdays five days apart, this year we did back to back sleepovers the first weekend after school started. Our friends told us we were crazy. They weren’t wrong. But we were crazy armed with our medicine. And that made all the difference.

Before Prozac, just one kid sleeping over would make me anxious. A series of questions would run through my brain. How do I tell a kid the rules in our house without upsetting them? Will they tell their parents and then an angry parent will call and yell at me? When is it okay to tell them to go to bed? Should I just let the kids stay up and resign myself to a night of no sleep? Anxiety doesn’t just attack my social skills. It also tells me that I am uptight because I can’t stop cleaning while the party is going on. Just leave the damn food, plates, and anything else alone because people are having a good time. Don’t make them feel bad for enjoying themselves while you pick up.

Now that I am taking my Prozac, I am equipped to handle them. This past weekend’s sleepovers consisted of 4 kids staying each night, not including Curls and Red. But instead of my subconscious bullying me, I was able to enjoy their personalities (funny, polite, and sweet) and let them do their own thing. I let them know when they needed to wash their hands before meals and dessert, throw away their own trash, and keep food and drinks in the kitchen. I also made it clear that if they needed anything at all, to just let us know. They were there to have fun and we wanted to make sure they were comfortable in our home. I also didn’t stress about what time they went to bed as long as they played quietly past 10 pm so the neighbors wouldn’t call the cops (let them save that ruckus for their twenties and college).

If I started to feel my body hum with nerves, I would throw away used paper plates and napkins. I would wipe down counters, put shoes by the door, pick up stinky socks, and wipe down bathrooms. Cleaning calms my brain and centers me and I need all the tools in my brain arsenal that I can get.

Were back to back sleepovers still tiring and difficult? Hell yes. But hubby and I teamed up, planned well, and tried to have humor and patience. I hope the kids remember the party as a great time and not crabby parents asking at 2 am to keep it down.

If you’re a parent, do you do sleepovers? Do you love or hate them? My BFF does sleepovers pretty much every weekend for my niece and nephews and I would like to nominate her for sainthood.

I hope you find passion and happiness this weekend!

Posted in California Livin', Good Things, Not Today Anxiety, The Happy, The OC, Word Therapy

Summer Recap

On Monday, August 13, 2018, I will have a fourth and sixth grader. Summer will continue to make us sweat buckets, visit Soak City, and eat all the ice cream. But our Summer Bucket List has been completed and there were many lessons learned during #WilsonSummer2018. Curls and Red started summer camp for the first time this year and it is the GREATEST. A side lesson from that is I now know that it is practically impossible to write when the kids are home (for me at least-props to writers that can do that!). And I will never ever regret doing anything and everything with my kids (and be incredibly grateful that I can):

Father of the Bride (1950) in the park

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Red went on his first plane ride this summer and he was a PRO

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His name is Filson and he is just another example of why dogs are the greatest and we will never be good enough for them.  We exchanged addresses in Seattle and will become life long paw pals. 

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Little Lending Libraries remind me of the good in the world

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My crowning achievement as a mother will be that I raised readers (even on vacation)

This was the first summer my anxiety didn’t take over any time Curls and Red were near water.   Two thumbs up.   

I hope you find passion and happiness this weekend!

Posted in Calming the Voices, Not Today Anxiety, Wellness, Word Therapy

Today

Last week marked the one year anniversary since I started taking Prozac. I have changed so much in that time. My brain before Prozac was the house that lay dormant with sheets covering all of the furniture. Prozac has gone around and turned on all the lights, removed the sheets, and aired it out by opening the windows. The more sunshine that comes in, the more I feel myself. I feel as if the parts of me that needed fixing are starting to mend. I have more patience, I am more open, and I am not beating myself up on a daily basis. When anxiety starts to build up I am more often than not able to reign it in.

It’s exhausting being defensive and thinking that when a friend, family member, or even a stranger acts negatively towards you that you automatically think you did something wrong. But I did just that for 42+ years (and honestly don’t know how I’m not taking a nap right now). Having that disappear gives me the opportunity to be empathetic. I’m taking my time back and using it for more positive things. Prozac and mindfulness have done that for me.

Social media is still and probably always will be a struggle. There are days where I want to share my life, good and bad. I want to engage with others, other days I just want to hide from it all so I can’t be judged (which is mostly coming from inside my own head).

I want to be an author first and always. I have focused on getting through my anxiety by writing. When I get overwhelmed with mindfulness, putting thoughts down on paper has helped. But I also have felt selfish and self centered by writing about this. Who am I to play the victim and be sad about life? But ultimately I have realized I needed to go through this to come out on the other side. I sometimes still feel alone in my feelings. Prozac has taught my brain that is not the case but my heart still feels different. I am not pushing for a change of heart as I know that wall will become even stronger the more my brain tries to huff and puff it down. It will change in time and that will have to be enough.

The Should and Shouldn’t Have families are starting to wear out their welcome as I am putting on my pajamas to give them the hint. Just in the last few weeks I have started asking, “Well, why can’t I do that?” or “Why do I have to do that?” It sounds so corny and cheesy but I am starting to like myself. It’s a foreign feeling for someone who is constantly thinking of new ways to improve herself. I definitely should have sought help sooner but strangely I don’t have any regrets. I am just so happy that I finally feel “normal.”

I have learned that my emotions will change day to day. One day I will feel on top of the world, ready to accomplish anything. Others I will be frustrated with life and feel like I will never achieve anything. I know I am not alone in this and that in itself is huge. Now I can focus on finding the strength to keep going. I know I can write a book that will be successful. It’s holding onto that thought day in and day out, that is my goal.

I don’t know if I will change anybody’s mind about mental health, but getting the help I needed has been life changing for me. Thank you for reading.

Posted in California Livin', Not Today Anxiety

Summer Bucket List 2018: A Survival Guide

Raise your hand if you are a parent who misses the lazy days of summer *all hands and one foot up in the air* I love summer. I love wearing flip flops, outdoor activities become even more fun, and hello, WATERPARKS. But over the years as my kids have gotten older, the fighting and attitude is nonstop and exhausting. Red said something the other day (that I will not repeat for fear of looking like a terrible parent) that prompted me to tell him, “You are phasing out of the stage where saying something like that is cute and is venturing into getting your ass kicked territory.” I love my kids with all my heart. But it is possible to love your kids and still be terrified of being at home with them over the summer. So to try and keep my anxiety to a minimum, I am stockpiling my arsenal.  This includes a preparedness kit for myself, a summer bucket list for the kids, and sticking to a schedule that will benefit us all.

I have three hearts tattooed on the inside of my right wrist. The hearts represent my family as a reminder of why I get up in the morning and to have patience with all that I do. Reminding myself this summer to have patience and to take deep breaths will be a daily occurrence. It is easy to forget this when you have one child who won’t clean up their room even though you have asked 1,542,639,587 times and the other one other repeats everything you say. And when that doesn’t work, dark chocolate Ghiradelli squares hidden throughout the house for emergencies. I also pledge to get up one hour before the kids each weekday to enjoy peace, quiet, and get some writing done. I will go out one night a week by myself to see a movie, walk around Target with a Chai tea, or browse my favorite bookstore. While at Target I will pick up a journal to write down all the curse words I will need to write down when both kids either say, “I didn’t do it!” or “So and so just did this to me!” and also a whistle to get their attention (sorry my dear neighbors). And my last saving grace will be an “I’m Bored” jar filled with tasks (the thought of making a list of these tasks fills me with such glee).

As for the kids, I know the key to keeping the attitude and fighting level low is to keep them busy. There will be bike rides, park play time, (outdoor) arts and crafts, running in the sprinklers, the local pool, and library trips. There will be lots of reading (my goal is for the three of us to read Artemis Fowl together and to introduce Red to Roald Dahl), prep work for the upcoming grade, and writing exercises.

We are continuing our summer bucket list tradition for the sixth year in a row (this will definitely be one of my crowning achievements as a mother). Our plans for the summer include:

  • Vacation to Seattle, WA and Portland, OR with family
  • VidCon
  • Knotts Berry Farm (DUH)
  • Cousin visit
  • LA days
    • LACMA
    • California Science Center
  • OC Fair
  • Wish List: Disneyland’s California Adventure 

The biggest challenge I will face this summer will be limiting screen time, be it video games and YouTube. I know I will fail some days. I hope to show the kids that I will also be holding myself accountable for screen time and not just them. I always feel so much better when I walk away from my phone for an extended period of time (and I get so much done!).

Are you counting down the days until summer? What do you have planned?

I hope you find passion and happiness this weekend!

Posted in Not Today Anxiety, Word Therapy

7.8 Miles

While her brother and dad were up in the mountains snowboarding, Curls and I kicked off weekend one of our back to back girls’ weekends. We had planned a day in LA so when we found out that the March for Our Lives was going to be the same day, we knew we had to be there.

With our posters made and snacks in a backpack, we rode the train from Fullerton to Union Station. We met fellow marchers and even had other train passengers tell us good luck and thank you. The other marchers we met were high school students and a teacher. My anxiety did try to take over (I was almost hysterical and my voice hit window breaking pitch) when I realized I had bought Metro Link tickets and I tried to ask an Amtrak employee what to do. In a not very nice tone she told me to just get on the train and somebody would help me. They did but I was still beating myself up over the mistake the next day (but seriously, am I the only person who gets confused when it comes to Amtrak/Metro link?).

When we got to the March and we were surrounded by everyone who believed in the cause, it was inspiring, powerful, and emotional. Curls didn’t really understand the significance of the March while we were waiting for it to begin and I could feel myself getting frustrated. I then took a deep breath, reminded myself that she is a kid, and tried to clear out the negative to focus on the positive. Seeing all the March volunteers in their “We Can End Gun Violence” t-shirts and florescent netted vests, an abundance of police officers, and helicopters hovering overhead, I was reminded once again why I love California. From the “Hollywood Liberal Elite”, to sanctuary cities, to organized marches where 99% of the people are on their best behavior, there is a feeling of everyone looking out for each other as opposed to every man for himself. I left the March believing there is good in the world and it will survive all the hate that is thrown at it.

After the March Curls and I walked to one of our favorite spots, The Last Bookstore. The intoxicating smell of books, the kind employees, the second floor where small businesses sell art, and the young adult and comic book section are all parts of the sum of why we love this fantastic seller of books.

Our next stop was Little Tokyo. When Curls was much smaller we were able to attend Hello Kitty Con and we were both in heaven. So our main stop was the Sanrio store. She squealed over Gudetama the Lazy Egg and all of Hello Kitty’s friends. And since she won’t go anywhere near the Easter Bunny in the mall (I can’t blame her-have you seen them these days??), I was thrilled that she wanted to take a picture with My Little Melody:

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Way cuter than the Easter Bunny, don’t you think?

We left with a bag of stuff we didn’t need but Curls and my inner 8 year old were giddy.

Our last stop of the day was The Broad. We admired the artwork of Takashi Murakami and others before we finally realized we were starving and tired (the smell of the street corner carts cooking sausages followed us throughout the day).

After Google Maps led us on a wild goose chase back to Union Station (my sense of direction is for crap), Curls not believing me that all the tents on the streets were homeless camps (still working on her acknowledging her privilege), and we almost missed our train, we breathed a sigh of relief when the train started moving back home.

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I hope you find passion and happiness this weekend!

Posted in Not Today Anxiety

Panic Prevention Program

Do you have anxiety? Panic attacks? Feel like you need to put your head between your legs 15 minutes into your day? There is help. That help is the Panic Prevention Program. Do this as follows and your life will get better, you will walk around smiling at perfect strangers, and focusing on the day ahead of you won’t feel like an insurmountable task.

Morning:

Snooze or don’t snooze your alarm an hour before your kids have to get up (depending on if you fell asleep on the couch during Brian Williams because you were too tired to stay up for Rachel or you binge watched three episodes of your new Netflix obsession and went to bed after 11).

Have an uninterrupted conversation with your significant other which entails asking how you slept, discussing various aches and pains, and expressing outrage over the state of the country.

Let your dogs out before they pee right at the door and feed them before their barking wakes up the kids.

Make your bed so at least one room in the house looks semi clean and gives you a sense of accomplishment.

Pour Cheerios in a bowl even though you really want Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch. Put all the ingredients for your smoothie (frozen fruit, spinach, almond milk, almond milk yogurt, tumeric for inflammation, and chia seeds because you read it was good for you but can’t remember why) into your Ninja single serving container. Wait to blend until after you have given the wake up call to your precious angels and hit power when they won’t listen.

This first step of the program gives you time to handle all parents’ weekday favorites: Temper tantrums, sleepiness (see smoothie blending), excuses, and most of all-the FIGHTING.

If this proves successful for you and you are left with time to spare, throw a rager because who am I kidding there will be no time to spare

Mid Morning to Afternoon:

Get a jump start on that traffic if you have to drive to work. Play some music on the radio, Spotify, Pandora, Sirius, or Apple (what a time to be alive!). Try not to bang your head on the steering wheel more than three times to prevent a concussion because Bob, Amanda, Taylor, and Carol don’t know how to effing merge or use a turn signal. Take deep breaths when you start to think about how it takes 45 minutes to go 13 miles in rush hour traffic. Roll down the window for some air when you fast forward to the afternoon when you get to do this again.

Work from home? Go out for a walk before you get down to business. Soak up that weather, admire simple things like the old trees that line the neighborhood streets, and run past the house that looks like Rebecca Romijn’s character from Friends lives there and you want to pull a Monica and ask if you can clean it up “just a little bit”.

Have time for a workout? You better. Endorphins and being physically fit can keep those demon thoughts away. We aren’t getting any younger and taking care of ourselves only extends our life expectancy, even in a country where Trump is president (gotta be ready for that impeachment party, AM I RIGHT?).

Writing is a key part of the panic prevention program. Putting the weight of your thoughts onto paper releases their power and locks the door on the demons. You will be lighter, happier, and an overall nicer person.

Afternoon to dinner:

You tell yourself you can edit a post, do some research, or maybe just sneak in a Duolingo lesson while the kids are doing homework. 95% of the time those good intentions are drop kicked outside the field goal post. But if your work gets done in the morning, that’s okay. You can keep your kids on task (preferably in separate rooms because again, FIGHTING), prepare for dinner, possibly start laundry, and maybe that Spanish lesson will happen.

Evening to Bedtime:

Want some family time before the kids go to bed? Try yoga. It will calm your body and mind to help you sleep better. And even though the kids will giggle and complain at first, you are doing something together that will help each of you in its own way.

Once the kids are asleep (or at least in bed), you can now look forward to watching a show or movie with your partner. Five minutes later you will be passed out on the couch in a position that will be sure to make your neck hurt tomorrow. The anxiety will be there tomorrow but all that matters now is SLEEP.

Posted in Not Today Anxiety, Wellness, Word Therapy

Reading About Anxiety is Giving Me Anxiety and I Can’t Stop Looking at My Jaw

Last week was the fourth week. What that means is that in addition to managing my anxiety, I also have to deal with emotions that are already on high alert the rest of the month. I feel like a teenager who is having her first bout with PMS. Barbecue chips and dark chocolate better be in the cabinet. Tears flow during the training of the rescue dogs for the Puppy Bowl. A loud sob forces me to take a seat when the Puppy Bowl referee canoodles with Shirley the Sloth, the other referee.

I am on birth control. Not because I am trying to prevent a pregnancy but because I am prone to ovarian cysts. With the birth control pills comes the wave of hormones. The first week comes with heightened sensitivity and nausea. The second week is definitely the best week. I feel lots of joy and am grateful for feelings that I know are fleeting. This is how the medicine works and it can be frustrating. Having the knowledge that I will have one week in the month where I will feel pure happiness can be kind of a bummer (the irony I tell ya). The third week is a mini version of the fourth where I know I am going to be bitchy so analyzing every emotion and movement is key.

The fourth is my anxiety going into overdrive. I can’t make myself sit down and write because I am convinced it’s going to be garbage. I make myself exercise but I don’t get the same joy out of it and the endorphins don’t help as much. Motivation is almost non-existent, procrastination wreaks havoc and prevents me from accomplishing anything. I also whine a lot more and try not to look at the effect age and gravity is having on my face (remember two weeks ago when I didn’t care??).

Times like this I think about successful people and how they got there. Hard work and talent, sure. But confidence and strength are key. Nobody forces me to sit down, eat all of the tortilla chips and salsa, and go down the rabbit hole of Instagram stories. Getting distracted the fourth week is much easier as my defenses are down and I would rather pine for somebody else’s life than propel myself to better mine. I then feel pathetic for doing that and keep the cycle going.

Doing online research about anxiety and the different kinds can feel triggering but I push forward, knowing how important it is. I wish that I could not be as hard on myself but all that energy I normally have has checked out. Even being aware, which normally keeps my chin up, seems to fade into the background.

I know this has been a post of self pity. I try to allow myself that in order to move past it. And even though I am not writing all of the thoughts down, my brain doesn’t shut off (clearly). As the days keep coming a lot of what I am thinking will find it’s way out so I can continue to move forward as a writer and speak my truth, for better or worse.

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This picture was from the fourth week when it was too early for dinner but I was really needing (okay, wanting) an In-N-Out grilled cheese and fries. So Curls, Red, and I had first dinner by splitting one of each. I suspect in the future this is what I will remember and not all those negative feelings that want to rule my world. They will not succeed if only because of these smiling faces.

Posted in Health, Not Today Anxiety, Word Therapy

I’m Still Not Eating the Kale

As I approached my 40s, articles would preach that I was going to stop caring what others thought and start to live my life the way I wanted to as soon as I had that momentous 40th birthday. Buzzfeed wanted me to know that I would be living my best life once I hit the big four O. But what they don’t tell you is that as soon as that birthday has come and gone, mortality shows up at your front door like that annoying solar panel sales guy.

First off, people now in their 50s are not old. Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves are both over 50 and hell, Ellen Degeneres just turned 60. They are still young so in turn so am I. I started to become grateful for weird ass things like not being born a beauty queen. Sure, I’m cute and that’s nice. But I didn’t have to rely on my good looks in my 20s and 30s and I don’t have to literally save face with surgery or Botox now that middle age has arrived. A good haircut with bangs will cover up those pesky wrinkles.

I had to wave bye-bye to going to the doctor once a year. I now have to go to the dermatologist to have stuff removed and mammograms to have the girls swished into what feels like a meat grinder. I had to get tested for the BRCA (also known as the Angelina Jolie test). These are all preventative and are really important. And when they come back that I’m fine, that is fabulous. But it also means my anxiety makes room on the couch for new worries:

When I workout, my body whines more than it used to. There are nights where I can’t sleep on the right side because my worn out hip throws a temper tantrum. Other nights it’s the carpal tunnel syndrome I was able to keep at bay in my 30s with yoga. Now numbness in my right hand says hi at 3 am because I gripped the bike handle too hard during a ride. If I go out for a run instead of a bike ride, the shins set off fireworks for my troubles.

Ailments that run in the family come front and center in your forties. Since there is high blood pressure, I keep an eye on mine. Heart disease is also prevalent, so I keep exercising and watch what I eat (most of the time). Eating well now means greens, fruits, chia and flax seeds, and maybe considering a vegetarian diet. Soda now leaves a nasty taste in my mouth and I always regret those 9 pm cookies.

With all things that come with being middle aged, acceptance is standing in the back of the classroom. It waits for me to freak out, take control of the situation, and learn my lesson. But no matter how healthy I want to be and how long I want to live, I will not eat the kale. I just won’t.

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Even if you put sweet in front of it. NOPE.

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Posted in Not Today Anxiety

Breathe, Smile, Repeat

Focusing on the positive and what lays ahead is an exercise I use to keep out the negativity and dark voices. In the Spring my daughter Curls and I are taking a jet plane to New York City. Back in October I scored two tickets to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Broadway at the Lyric Theater. This will be both of ours first trip to the Big Apple. I am feeling grateful, happy, and terrified. Because with all things in my life, anxiety looks for a loophole into my psyche to trash the place. It imagines worst case scenarios:

What if you lose Curls in the crowds?

What if you get lost together?

What if we get mugged (A big thank you to the Different Strokes episode that has lingered in my brain since childhood)

What if you get to will call and your show tickets aren’t there?

What if you miss your flight home?

This is where my Type A personality kicks in. I start to plan, plan, plan (translation=control, control, control). My best friend Google and I start searching for what we shouldn’t miss, what is overrated, budget friendly food, accommodations, and what’s fun and free (Central Park and New York Public Library are already at the top of the list). I checked out City Pass to see if it is worth it (Not for this three day trip). But researching even for a short amount of time leaves me feeling overwhelmed. Am I planning too much? Is the show going to be good? Will Curls get grumpy when she gets tired (most definitely)?

Eventually the Prozac brings his Dr. Feelgood vibes and I start to take deep breaths. I tell myself prepping three months before the trip is the first step to making it great (Thank you Type A). I remind myself that I am skilled at finding deals on ANYTHING ($130 round trip total for Curls and I with the help of credit card points and travel savvy friend livyourlifeyourway). Social media is a great tool at finding places for us to go and eat (Instagram has introduced my family and I to a number of delish restaurants). And I am leaving time for us to explore and find things to do that we normally wouldn’t think of (like ice skating at Rockefeller Center in April).

Come this summer my family of four will be flying up to the Pacific Northwest. We plan on enjoying Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver. I will employ the same tactics I am using for NYC but I have an ace in the whole: my husband. No matter what happens with our trip, he is the human version of Prozac for me. He keeps me calm and ready to face anything.

Do you have any exciting trips planned for 2018? How do you plan your vacations? What do you look for in a new place? I love finding restaurants where people rave so much about it online that I just HAVE to go there-like Gourdough’s in Austin, Texas. For New York that place will be Serendipity (frozen hot chocolate, anyone?).

And because Curls and I are going to a city that is revered as much as New York, friends and family have been generous with tips and recommendations. How could this mini vacation be anything but a blast?

Knickerbocker Hotel