On My Mind

I don’t know what’s going on this week, you guys, but I am in a fantastic mood.

Maybe it’s because I finally got a handle on the bangs situation? Maybe because I’ve kind of been killing at work? Maybe because it’s the season of fun after-work activities and I’m actually taking advantage of the amazing city I live in? Maybe because we’re this close to time off of work?

I really can’t say the reason, but whatever it is, I like it.

The last couple of months, I’ve sort of been in a funk. I think we all go through those times, right? I was adjusting to a new job, a longer commute, and some personal life difficulties. I was feeling out of place and not sure where I wanted to live or what I wanted to do.

But somewhere in the last couple of weeks, things shifted. I’m feeling more confident in what I’m doing, I’ve made a few new friends, and we’re gearing up for an exciting move closer to the city in the spring. Plus, I’ve been picking up a lot more freelance work lately, which has removed a lot of financial stress. (Side note: The company that I thought had forsaken me finally got in touch, and they are sending me checks and more work. And that is why you don’t trash-talk companies online.)

Basically, I’m feeling good.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the topic of resolutions, mostly because the girl who sits next to me at work, Taylor, recently wrote a post for our blog about our editors’ resolutions. I don’t officially make resolutions for New Year’s, but I do like to set goals for myself every month or so. (As the long-time readers of this blog can attest.)

This year, my goal is sort of difficult to describe, but basically, my goal is to be the person I admire.

Like I said, kind of weird to explain. It goes back to two quotes:

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The DVF quote I’ve posted before, but the Oscar Wilde one has just really been resonating with me lately. It all goes back to being a key player in your own life, and your own happiness. Which, as anyone who has read my Happiness Project post knows, I firmly believe is crucial to mental well-being.

Basically, I want to stop looking at other people and bloggers and lives and thinking, ugh, how do they do that? Why can’t I do that?

And, instead, just do it. I want to be a smart, put-together, kind person with a cute, organized apartment, a fun, challenging job, great relationships with the important people in my life, and a positive, content outlook on everything. Oh, and if I was always healthy and always wearing cute clothes, that wouldn’t hurt either.

So…I want to be perfect? It kind of sounds like that. But really, I just want to live more deliberately. Does that make more sense?

Maybe it just makes sense in my brain. But honestly, I’m in too good of a mood to really worry about it.

What are your goals for 2013? Hopefully they’re easier to understand than mine…

So I guess I forgot something in my State of Justine Address from yesterday. Something anyone who has ever taken the plunge would probably admit can be a kind of major thing.

I got bangs.

Just so we’re all on the same page, here’s what that means visually:

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Ok? We see the difference?

Even though I got them cut on Saturday, I held off posting about it because, well, partly because it’s sort of awkward to talk about your looks. I try to tackle that subject from time to time because I feel like this blog is a place of honest self-assessment on all fronts, and I’ve experienced first-hand how our own assessments of our looks can affect every other part of our lives.

I also didn’t post about it earlier because, quite frankly, I wasn’t sure how I felt.

At first, I was a little freaked out when my stylist made the first serious cut.

I mean, I was excited about getting my hair cut. (Just ask the girl who sits next to me at work and who had to hear about my impending trip all week.) and I’ve had bangs for most of my life.

See?

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{Ohh those sexy middle school years. Why yes, that is a flute in my hand. And yes, I am at a solo competition. Thank you for noticing. But sorry, no, that skirt is no longer available. I know, you’re devastated.}

In fact, not having bangs anymore was sort of a spontaneous decision (that took a year to carry out…). And I’ve always sort of felt like my face needs bangs. I mean, I have a big head (thanks, Dad), which, especially in photos, can translate to a big face. It’s a lot of flesh, and a little hair curtain over a quarter of it doesn’t hurt anything.

The point is, bangs should not have been a shocking change.

Except, when the stylist finished blowing out my hair and a took my first look in the mirror, a was a bit taken aback. Because there, staring back at me, was myself in high school.

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{Actual me in high school. I’m using a picture of me and my high school (and middle school, really) friend Joe because he is kind enough to read my blog fairly regularly and I know this type of post really doesn’t interest him that much. So, in return, I give you pseudo fame on the blog. (I know, not much, but admit it: You’re a little more interested in this post now.)}

In the weirdest way, I suddenly felt seventeen and wracked with a 17-year-old’s insecurities. Did this hairstyle make my face look fat? Did it make me look like a baby? Did it remove any sex appeal I had managed to garner (by the skin of my teeth, folks) in the last eight years, replacing it instead with that (at times) back-handed adjective “cute”?

It was a moment wracked with emotions.

So, I did what any other insecurity-ridden girl would do and posted a photo to Instagram to get everyone’s assessment of me.

As predicted, I was cute. And the next day, someone else pronounced how young I looked. And therein lies the crux of my concern.

My mind flitted back longingly to the inches of blonde hair wafting to the salon floor. I swallowed hair and fiddled with my hair some more, hoping that simply shifting its position could somehow make it look like it had before I’d cut it.

I know this sounds like the ultimate #humblebrag to whine about being described as “cute”, but I swear, I’m being serious. Not everyone will get it, but any girl who has been “cute” for most of her life (and I say “most” because we all saw that flute picture) has grown weary of the term at some point. I mean, we’d rather be cute than nothing at all, but sometimes you just want a more grown-up descriptor. We want to be sexy. We want to be hot. We want to be stunning. Just once. (Which isn’t to say I don’t appreciate those of you who called my haircut cute. I know you had good intentions!)

Anyway, I wasn’t completely decided that I didn’t like the bangs. For the most part, everyone was being complimentary in their commentary. My parents (while, admittedly, not the most objective source) loved them. My husband has always liked me with bangs. (He has a theory that they give a girl a sense if mystery.)(He’s weird.) And, honestly, I never had that much sex appeal anyway, so I was willing to embrace the mantle of “cute” for the rest of my life if necessary. (Poor me, right?)

But yesterday at work, something was different. I don’t know if my hair just fell in a different way or I just got better at styling it or I just decided to embrace my face and my hair no matter what they looked like, but my bangs started to look a little less school-girl, a bit more, I don’t know, intentional. I felt a bit more grown-up. And while, sure, a few people called them cute, one of my coworkers stopped me in the hall and said, “Your hair is looking foxy today; did you do something different with it?”

Side note: “foxy” is now my new favorite adjective from now until the end if time. We’re bringing it back, folks.

The point is, I think I finally got to the point where I’m wearing the hair instead of vice-versa. I’ve said a million times that your hair has an emotional effect on your outlook, and I like to think it’s a sign of self-assuredness that I’m slowly getting over that. (Slowly. Ever so slowly.)

So when my friend Madison asked me for a post about the new hair over Twitter yesterday, I finally felt ready to talk about it.

And you know what? I feel good about this. I feel like I actually look like I have a hairstyle instead of the hair just sitting there in my head, and I think once the bangs grow out a bit, I’ll feel even less like my high school self.

And just because Madison also requested lots of photos, here’s one more for ya. I mean, at the very least we can say I’ve improved from the flute days, right?

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Happy Monday, you gorgeous people.

Side note: I’m chalking it up as a success that I even know it’s Monday because last Friday as I was leaving the office, I turned to one of our editors and said, “See you tomorrow! …oh wait, I mean Monday.” And then I walked away and suddenly started to doubt what day it was. Would I see her tomorrow, and now she thought I was a total moron? I literally almost turned back three times to correct myself until it finally dawned on me that it was, in fact, Friday. I have no idea, you guys.

In other news and my mental lapse aside, things seem to be on the up-and-up for me. The LIRR is back to its normal schedule as of today. (I know, I never thought we’d see it either.) And the nagging pain in my left heel that has kept me from running the last couple of weeks finally seems to be subsiding. (Plus, I’ve been reminded of the butt-kicking abilities of the Stairmaster. Seriously, guys, there’s a reason why hardly anyone is ever on the thing. It’s hard.)

Plus, last night I booked my ticket to Vegas for a weekend with some of my oldest friends, meaning I will get to escape winter this February and hide in the desert.

Plus plus, in a freelance miracle, I received the check for the project I just finished less than a week after I turned it in (still waiting on the one that I’ve been owed for a couple of months…grumph), so I was able to pay off all but the last bit of my credit card debt. It’s kind of crazy to think it will all be paid off most likely before the Vegas trip. Yay!

So, en general, things are going well. We’re also starting to think about our move to Brooklyn this spring, which has me excited partly because it will mean the end of the LIRR and partly because it will mean a new apartment to decorate. (I am who I am, you guys.)

Plus, we will only be looking at dog-friendly apartments. So there’s that.

Some how this post turned into a State of Justine address, but I guess I just want you to know I’m doing all right.

How are you doing?

I’ve been thinking about money a lot lately.

And, no, not in the “what should I buy” kind of way.

As the end if the year creeps closer and closer (side note: It’s almost mid-December, you guys. Mind. Blown.), I’ve been thinking a lot about my financial goals for the year.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that one of my biggest goals this year was to pay of all of my credit card debt. Well, it’s time for me to admit that I’m not quite going to make it.

However.

I recently sold some stock I’ve had since college that made me a pretty decent amount if money, which helped me pay off almost a quarter of the debt amount. And I’m currently working on a freelance project that, once I get my check, will pay off all but a few hundred dollars of the leftover amount. And then, within no more than two months, I’ll be able to pay off the rest.

What I’m saying is, by no later than March I’ll be debt-free once again.

I’m quite giddy at the prospect, which makes waiting for that day to arrive even harder. My giddiness even (almost) makes up for the disappointment if falling just short of my goal. (For the record, I would have made it, but a pretty significant freelance gig fell through. In that the company I was working for just stopped responding to my emails as still owes me a check for the last round of blog posts I sent them. I’d put them on blast, but I can’t shake the glimmer or hope that they’ve jut been really busy…for the last two months…grumble.)

Anyway, it’s going to happen, and soon, and it’s one of the most satisfying feelings ever.

Then I can finally start really saving, hopefully for a down payment on a house (someday). Geez, you guys, when did we get so grown-up?

So I’m curious: Did anyone else have any goals, financial or otherwise, that they set this year? Did you make them? Or fall somewhat short like I did? What’s your next goal?

You guys. I’m really excited.

So you know how I talk about my love of Etsy all the time? Like, all the time?

Well, I have recently stumbled into an Etsy GIFT CARD. (Whaaaat? You didn’t know these exist? Educate yo’self.) Which is awesome. It’s $25 of pure, unadulterated awesomeness.

The only “problem”? I have no idea what to spend it on. I could literally spend hours scouring all the options, and, well, always find a million things I wouldn’t be sad if I owned.

So…I need advice. Do you have a favorite Etsy shop I should check out? Or did you recently get something you can’t stop grinning at whenever you see it?

I pulled together a few things that I’ve had my eye on for a while below…which one should I pull the trigger on? (Some of them are more than $25, but would be a whole-heck-of-a-lot-more affordable with a gift card.)

Basically, I’m an indecisive spaz. Help me.

What Should I Buy from Etsy?

So what do you think? WHAT SHOULD I GET?

It is officially really, really cold out. Bitterly cold, you might say.

It’s around this time of year, when the morning train platform starts to feel like its own form of torture, that I usually find myself thinking about the same kinds of things:

Is it going to get colder? Am I going to start hating my commute again? Is this the year I finally crack and buy a puffy winter coat?

I’m dangerously close to conceding on the last one. Sure, I would prefer not to look like a marshmallow, but these freezing temperatures aren’t messing around.

From there, I start making a list of all the cold-weather items I should probably add to my list. And since it has been a while since I blogged, I’m sharing it with you. I’m also hoping to hear your recommendations if you’ve purchased one if these items (or something similar) with great success. Most of my readers are in the Midwest or on the East Coast, so I know y’all have some winter wardrobe advice.

Must-Haves for a New York Winter

H m
$13 – hm.com

180s glove
kohls.com

Faux fur hat
$26 – oliverbonas.com