conquering the sads

New York is a hard place to thrive. It's emotionally taxing, financially exhausting and oh so over-stimulating.

I love the beautiful people here and the exposed hearts from which their fears and desires overflow. I love the abundance of quality cuisines, the deluge of taste I just recently came to appreciate. I love my small, but mighty community my fiance and I have cultivated, for without them I don't think I could make it up here. But with its apparent charm and bountiful flavor New York also bares fruit to a more somber side: cold winters, expensive rent and that nagging feeling of loneliness big cities are often wrapped in.

I find it much easier to flourish in the Fall and Spring when the weather is mild, when itt is almost welcoming. But Winters are rough, especially for this southern somebody.

Since moving up here I've found that my psyche cycles with the seasons. I notice a discernible change when it starts to get cold outside. The days get shorter, dusk comes sooner and my mind wanders deeper. The winter blues, seasonal affective disorder, depression; the feelings do not lack names; but for the last three years it lacked a solution.

This year I made it my mission to conquer winter, maybe not with a smile on my face, but fiercely nonetheless. I didn’t make it without a few rounds of tears and nights kept up late tossing and turning away from the blues, but today is the first day of Spring and I feel a little bit better than yesterday.

Here’s a few things I did this Winter to help cope with the SADs. I use the same devices when coping with the lowercase sads as well.

Make plans. Keep a planner and plan out your week. Fill in the blank spaces when you mind tends to wander deepest into the dark with coffee dates and movie nights, poetry readings and art classes. Be in the presence of others even if you don’t have quite the energy to interact with them.

Reach out. I’ve always been known for being “blunt.” I think that might be code word for bitchy or obnoxious, but it has served me well in this season of life. Tell your friends and close acquaintances you’re struggling. Be honest. I’ve been invited to many more seemingly random gatherings and dinner groups because of it. So far I haven’t weirded too many people out, which is why I’m sharing this on my blog. People need people.

Spruce up. Decorate your space with cozy earthy elements. My collection of plants, pots, candles and crystals have brought me joy and comfort when the dark side overcomes the light. Make a little nook of your favorite things. Mine is on my bedside table. It’s nice to look at pretty things before settling into bed.

Dive in. Dive into to something you love. For me that was blogging and my Faith. I didn’t feel like doing either, but I put them in my planner and made them a priority. They were both things bigger than myself that seemed to have bigger meaning than the thoughts in my head. So I guess this is a time to say thanks for following along. Your comments of encouragement has meant more to me than you know. Thanks for reading. Knowing I’m not the only one out there has helped sweep away the SADs.

*If you need help, get help. These little tips were also used in conjunction with professional doctors, meds, etc.

These photos are of me genuinely happy after a full (spontaneous sads vacation) weekend spent with a good friend I can reach out to. Thanks, girl.

5 Little Things

Weekends, for me, are a time to reset and refuel. I find myself worked into a rigid weekday routine that provides little time for sunshine, relaxation and little happy things that make me smile.

It sounds kitschy and trite, but I consider my little happy things a form of self care. It’s usually something like perusing a bookstore, buying myself fresh flowers, people watching at the farmer's market, a new white T-shirt and going to a neighborhood bar with a friend. It’s the things that pull you out of your schedule and make you notice your senses.

I’m starting a series every Friday called “Five Little Things.” These “things” will be snippets from my week that I’ve bookmarked, bought or discovered that might inspire a few happy things for your weekend.

Read: The most read story on wsj.com ever. The followup to the viral BBC interview. The little girl reminds me of toddler me, glasses and all.

Wear: These dusty pink wide-leg jeans. My half birthday is coming up so..

Smell: I just bought this handmade incense burner on my trip to Nashville. It has been a welcoming fragrance after a long work day.

Eat: Nothing cheers me up like a solid charcuterie plate. I can’t wait to start registering for things like these

Discover: I don’t plan on going back to school anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean I won’t stop learning. I’m planning on taking art classes here this spring.

36 Hours: Nashville

This weekend I met up with my best babe in Nashville for some much needed quality time. We spent our time exploring and catching up, but mostly eating and slumber partying.. We are by no means Nashville experts, (While searching for the Flea Market, we ended up at Repticon, a reptile convention, instead.) but maybe you’ll be inspired by our escapades. We highly recommend checking out Airbnb, as the boutique hotels are very expensive. We absolutely loved our stay at The Pierce.

Friday

4PM We spent the majority of our time in East Nashville. It was the perfect respite away from the bustle of downtown, plus we heard it was the ~hip~ part of town. Start at Southern Grist brewery for some local craft brews. Sit outside if the weather's nice. 

7PM Dinner at 5th and Taylor for superb cocktails, an atmosphere to kill and modern American fare. The place is bathed in candlelight creating an intimate vibe within the open space.

9PM Be sure to catch a show at The Ryman, the historic church turned music venue. Sarah is our resident Ryman expert, having seen plenty of shows there. We didn’t make it out for a night on the town this trip, but rest assure we still had a blast.

Saturday

9AM Pregame brunch with a coffee to-go at Barista Parlor. We heard so many good things (saw so many great Instagram posts) about this coffee garage and it did not disappoint. We had drip iced coffee and enjoyed the open air atmosphere complete with motorcycles and vintage speakers.

11AM Brunch at Le Sel. I think this was my and Sarah’s favorite meal, mostly due to the en point decor. Neon lights, pink velour booths and graphic black and white decor made for a visually stimulating meal. Not to mention, the food was amazing.

1PM Take a tour down 12th Street and pass through the local boutiques.  Try Imogene + Willie and Draper James for clothes and White’s Mercantile and Cadeau for gifts, to name a few. Don’t forget to snap a pic in front of the wonderful murals along the way.

4PM Stop for a snack at Five Daughters Bakery and try their famous 144 layer croissant donut.

5PM On your way back to East Nashville, stop by Two Son. This shop, owned by Nashville blogger, James McCoy, is beautifully curated. I snagged a handmade incense burner and one of their buttery soft vintage T-shirts.

7PM Try hot chicken. I hear it’s pretty up in the air depending who you talk to about what’s the best place. But we tried Bolton’s and it did not disappoint in flavor or in heat. The white bread on your plate is not for a garnish.

8PM Go out for a night on the town. We never made it to Broadway (we’d both been before), but join the Bachelorette parties and dance 'til your feet hurt.

Sunday

9AM Go for another round of Nashville coffee at Crema, another Instagrammable cup.

11AM Explore the Nashville Flea Market. Unfortunately we were confused about the date and didn’t make it, but from the looks of the setup it’s worth it.

Photos by the lovely Sarah Weichman.

lady love

This weekend I took a trip to Nashville with my best lady friend Sarah. It was a sweet soulful experience with one woman who continues to inspire me to be a better human. I was reminded of how important female friendship is, how it shouldn’t be taken for granted, and how it has come to mean more to me now even as I walk toward marriage.

I used to be one of those girls who said she was a guy’s girl. A girl that responded to her lack of girlfriends with the classic “I just get along with guys better; less drama.” I wish I could go back to that girl and show her what I know now. I'd show her how beautiful true woman friendship can be when your emotions are validated.

Through bits of high school and college I sought solace in the attention of men. Their carefree cool attracted my desire to go with the flow. But I quickly learned I would never be carefree, always careful. I would never go with the flow, but swim against the stream. And that was ok. It was the women in my life that told me so.

Lady love and the connectedness of our gender,  has been the most influential source of support in my life. And without it, I certainly wouldn’t be who I am today, someone I like pretty damn well.

My first experience with lady love comes from my mother. I don’t think I appreciated her nurturing spirit until later on in life, but I certainly benefited from it since I was a child. I knew her embrace, warm and filled with truth, was a place of respite from school or any other socially taxing environment. My sisters too have shown me what it feels like to possess feminine power. Though we fought as kids, I always felt fiercely protective of them, willing to go to great lengths to keep them safe and happy.

My middle school girlfriends showed me the definition of non-familial lady love, defending me from the hurtful remarks about my boyish looks and quirky interests. Today they still love and defend me, for that I am thankful.

In college I gravitated to Sarah for her unabashed self awareness and unprecedented caring soul. Sarah was the first person to encourage me to dive head first into my mental health. She has been a champion of my well-being, gently coaxing me to care for myself as much as others cared about me. She is a gold star of a woman, my Pietà.

Post college I’ve met my fair share of strong, motherly figures with whom I can align and realign my heart.  It is something I have come to value as an intrinsic part of my relationships.

I told myself I would never be the one to have a parade of bridesmaids in front of me when I got married.  I was the cool girl who nonchalantly pushed away my best friends in times of hurt and realignment. But here I am, shopping for gowns for nine women who have been there for me in more ways I can count since I was in elementary school.

So cheers to the girls, the ladies, the womyn, the chicks, the female identifying folks. You have value. 

For Mama, Lily, Anna, Emily, Julie, Jenny, Meghan, Grace, Kayla, Katelyn, Berkley, Anna, Emmie, Mallory, Sarah, Abby, Sarah, Lena, Macy, Mazie, Katherine, Lauren, Olivia, Kathy, Beth, Rita, Rose, Michelle, Tricia, Jami, Mary, Sharon, Rachel, Angie, Mary Kate, Criston, Marlena and all the other beautiful, strong, invaluable women in my life.











 

lip service

abbey crain

Most people say my voice does not lend itself to my southern roots. My “Alabama” only comes out after drink number two or after talking to my parents on the phone. But I like to think I carry my roots with me in other ways, only sometimes is it visible. I always say “thank you” and “yes sir” to cab drivers. I never turn down a Coors Light. And I (almost) always wear lipstick. My bright red makes me feel powerful at work; my dark burgundy sexy on a night out; and my orangey-red untouchable, even in jeans and a T-shirt.

I believe my association of power and confidence with lipstick comes from watching powerful women in my life look closely at themselves in the mirror while they apply their favorite color, stand back, and admire their work. With that swathe of pigment, their coat of arms, they can conquer their day, their date, or whatever comes their way. Watching that intimate moment is seeing a woman love herself, wholly satisfied.

My earliest lipstick memory is watching my mom swipe on a pink-ish brown tube of Clinique lipstick in her bathroom. While she dabbed foundation across the planes of her face, I would dot lotion mimicking her design. She’d then add a touch of color from the iconic green tube to my exaggerated pout. It made me feel untouchable, giddy with confidence. I also remember playing with a bright pink chewed-up nubbin of  Lancome lipstick at my grandmother’s house. She reserved the freebie just for us in the “play” makeup drawer. It would end up streaked across my forehead, splotching across the bathroom towels and tissue boxes. I remember looking at my work and feeling beautiful, like a movie star.

Today my roots showed up in a burgundy lip so blood red it would scare away menopause. I suppose I've got my Mama to thank for it.

abbeycrain

Today my favorites wax and wane, but a deep red always seems to compliment my skin. Here’s a few products in constant rotation.

Dark Red-Sephora Cream Lip Stain in Crimson Crush (because duh)

Nude-Too-Faced Melte Matte in Sell Out

Medium Red-MAC Chili

Orange Red- MAC So Chaud

abbeycrain

plant mom

abbeycrain

Alternate title: Plants to keep in your apartment when all of your fingers are black and the thought of your touch sends even the sturdiest succulents shriveling into themselves

I am an aspiring plant lady. I am absolutely not a plant expert. I love to keep potted plants in every corner and hang ivy in all windows, but my combination of black thumbs and lack of natural light usually sends my greenery to the grave in a matter of months. I do commend them for the time they spend with me, at least I know they tried. 

Here’s a list of a few plants I’ve found can survive even the most hostile apartment environments (cats, lighting, reruns of Greys Anatomy)

abbeycrain

ZZ plant. I’ve had my zamioculcas for more than two years in various nooks in my apartment and he doesn’t seem to prefer any location. No matter how long I forget to water him he still stands strong. Bless you little guy.

Pothos. I have a couple of pothos vines hanging in my windows and I think they are here to stay. I bought them already pretty full, but with weekly pruning and watering I’ve managed to keep them pretty perky.

Haworthia. This little succulent has survived on my desk for one year; half of it not being watered. I sweat I think he likes it better without what. Maybe that’s the point of succulents? However I have killed, rather quickly, every single other succulent I’ve ever owned. They look good for approximately one month before shriveling. 

Air Plants. Because all they need is air.

NOT PALMS. I just put my palm out to the curb, having slowly killed over the span of two and a half years. Palms need lots and lots of light and will not survive a trip home for Christmas. RIP