2018 Resolutions

2018

I love New Year’s Eve. Not for going out (always overrated, in my opinion), but because of ย the fresh start it promises. I enjoy looking back on my year, seeing what I accomplished, and setting new goals for myself. It’s a good way to ensure that you never stop growing. Because if you’re not growing, you’re dying.

2017 was a big year for us. We bought a house, became vegetarians, decluttered, and actually did some traveling for pleasure, including Cuba and Nashville. But I also crushed theย professionals goals I set out for myself last year:

  1. Attend more networking events: I attended every single PRSA Charlotte luncheon, helped plan the PRSA Charlotte Communications Symposium, and at the end of this year, I ended up taking over the PRSA Charlotte New Professionals Committee. My mantra for the past couple years has been “bloom where you are planted,” and with every step I take to get more involved, I set deeper, stronger roots here in Charlotte.
  2. Volunteer regularly: This past summer, I joined the Junior League of Charlotte. While I’m still in my provisional year, I’ve already met so many wonderful women and made new friends, all while helping to improve our community.
  3. Make more time for the things that truly make me happy:ย I’ve gotten better and better at saying no to things I just don’t want to do. Life is short, and I want to fill my days with what I enjoy, not obligations.

Now we’re on the eve of 2018, and my resolution is much more broad:

do more things that make you forget to check your phone

Earlier this year, both MPR and I conducted an experiment where we deleted all of the social media apps from our phones. (The only exception for me was Instagram, because I manage accounts for work, and there’s no way to post on Instagram from a computer.) I found that the apps kept sending me irrelevant notifications, and it’s nearly impossible to ignore those red badges on your home screen. I was tired of feeling the urgent need to open those apps, especially when 99% of the time, the notifications were pointless and after scrolling through my feeds, I was left feeling unfulfilled.

So I deleted Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Slack.ย At first it was a little challenging, but I did successfully break the habit of mindlessly pulling out my phone and scrolling. And as a result, I decreased the amount of time I spent on Instagram, even though it was still on my phone.

As a PR girl, I never thought that I could delete social media from my phone. But the truth is that I wasn’t any less informed and I didn’t become a recluse, I simply learned to use the networks more intentionally.

This fall, I ended up re-downloading Twitter because I help manage the PRSA Charlotte social media accounts, and we like to live tweet the luncheons, but I turned off all notifications. (Pro tip, if you try to turn off notifications on any app and it doesn’t seem to work, delete the app, re-download it, and when it prompts you to receive notifications, just hit no/not now.)

So to prevent a backslide in 2018, my resolution is to do more things that make me forget to check my phone. This includes reading more books, discovering and listening to more music, and watching higher quality shows and movies. (Side note: I forgot how overwhelming cable TV is! When we were home for Christmas, the act of trying to find something to watch on the thousands of channels made me just want to shut everything off. Netflix + Hulu for life!)

My resolution also includes getting into yoga, spending more time outside with Rufio, and continuing our quest to clean eating. It’s pretty incredible how much time you realize you have after you cut out mindless apps.

What are you working on in 2018?

Happy Halloween from The Ryans

Family costume: Peter Pan, Rufio, Lost Boy

Peter Pan, Rufio & a Lost Boy ๐ŸŒŸ

Growing up, Halloween was my absolute favorite holiday. Partially because my parents always went all out with decorations, pumpkin carving, and costumes, and partially because there’s nothing more fun than dressing up and getting free candy!

There was a short window of time between college and moving to Troy when I opted out of Halloween because a. I was poor, b. I was living at home, and c. MPR and I were long distance. But this year I made up for lost time by decking out our house in pumpkins and skeletons, wearing a family costume, and throwing a Halloween Housewarming party. It was so much fun and I cannot wait to greet all of the little trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood tonight!

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Thing votive

The Addams Family is my favorite Halloween movie, so I knew I had to have this as soon as I saw it! ๐Ÿ‘ป

Corpse Bride hand towels

I was really into the whole Corpse Bride thing this year ๐Ÿ’€

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Mikey’s favorite! Life’s a witch and then you fly.

Mummy and Frankenstein cookies

These little mummies and Frankensteins came out so cute and were super easy to make! ๐ŸŽƒ

Witch finger pretzel rods

Witch fingers!

Guacamole pumpkin

Go home pumpkin – you’re drunk! ๐Ÿ‘ป

Happy Halloween! ๐ŸŽƒ

 

25 things you may not know about me

The Oxford Exchange in Tampa

Do you remember back in college when Facebook notes were introduced to share long-form writing? Most people only used them to participate in those viral exercises that asked you to answer questions only with song titles or list 25 random things about yourself. I’m not sure what made me think of them recently, but I dug into my Facebook archives to try to find them because I thought it would be fun to see how much I have changed over the last 10 years. But alas, they are gone forever.ย And then I saw a similar one pop up on my Facebook news feed! So because I’m feeling nostalgic, here are 25 things you may not know about me.

  1. Favorite Smell? Sandalwood & vanilla (also my favorite wallflower ๐ŸŒธ)
  2. Last time you cried? I honestly can’t remember… most likely the last time I had the stomach flu, which I believe was earlier this springย ๐Ÿคข
  3. Favorite pizza? Plain cheese ๐Ÿง€
  4. Favorite flower? Tulips ๐Ÿ’
  5. Did you go to college? SUNY Cortland for undergrad, Quinnipiac University for grad school ๐Ÿค“
  6. Untie your shoes when taking them off? Nope! I’m lazy ๐Ÿ‘Ÿ
  7. Roller coasters? No, thank you ๐Ÿ™…๐Ÿป
  8. Favorite ice cream? It’s a tie between mint chocolate chip and cookie dough ๐Ÿจ
  9. Favorite pastime? Going to concerts ๐ŸŽต
  10. Shorts or jeans? Jeans ๐Ÿ‘–
  11. What are you watching? All of my favorite shows are Netflix originals: The Crown, Master of None, and Stranger Things ๐Ÿ‘ป
  12. Favorite Color? Magenta ๐Ÿ’–
  13. Tattoos? Not one 0๏ธโƒฃ
  14. Piercings? Just one set in my ears ๐Ÿ‘‚๐Ÿป
  15. Color of hair? Dark brown ๐Ÿ’๐Ÿป
  16. Color of eyes? Dark brown ๐Ÿ•ถ
  17. Favorite food to eat? DESSERT! Bring me French macarons or Italian rainbow cookies and we’ll be friends for life ๐Ÿช
  18. Favorite holiday? Halloween ๐ŸŽƒ
  19. Beer or wine? Wine ๐Ÿท
  20. Night owl or morning person? Definitely a morning person since I tweaked my work hours โฐ
  21. Favorite day of the week? Sunday โ˜€๏ธ
  22. Do you have a Nickname? Most commonly Cait or Moons ๐ŸŒ™
  23. Pictures on your wall? Me & MPR in our various homes: Long Island, Troy, and Charlotte ๐Ÿ™
  24. What makes you most proud? That we built a brand new life for ourselves here in the Queen City ๐Ÿ‘‘
  25. Favorite music? Pop-punk! ๐ŸŽถ

Your turn!

 

A moving announcement & moving announcements

We bought a house

Well, it finally happened. I left the city for a 3-bedroom in the suburbs.

And I don’t hate it.

In fact, I kind of love it. Our neighborhood has winding tree-lined sidewalks where I can walk Rufio (and I don’t need to worry about him hurting his little feet on broken beer bottles like when we lived in fratty South End). There’s a neighborhood pool and playground around the corner from us where I can hear kids splashing and laughing, trying to squeeze the most out of these last few nights of summer. I drive down pretty country roads to get here, yet we’re still close to Starbucks (priorities), our favorite South End restaurant (Pinky’s), and a picturesque outdoor mall. Rufio loves to run up and down the stairs (and bark at neighbors from the bay window). I’m still mastering pulling in and out of our 2-car garage, and we’re still getting photos hung on the walls, but this is our home.

New neighborhood

I would like to give a shoutout to my walking commute (RIP). For the last four years (two in Troy, two in South End) I had been able to walk to work, and I had become incredibly spoiled. I now drive 25-30 minutes each way (which I know isn’t terrible) and tweaked my schedule for Charlotte traffic. So these days the Ryan household wakes up at 5 am and is out cold by 9 pm. It’s an adjustment for sure, but I just pretend I’m one of those people in the new Delta commercial (hi-ho!)

If you know about my love of stationery, you can imagine that one of my favorite parts about buying a house was picking out new address labels and moving announcements. I searched for a long time (like before we even scooped up this house over the fourth of July holiday), but I had trouble finding one I loved because they all seemed a little too ostentatious versus informational. The Christmas/moving announcement cards were some of the worst offenders โ€“ “We’re celebrating Christmas in our new house” โ€“ and they don’t even wish the receiver a happy holiday! So I lucked out when I found these moving announcement postcards from Rifle Paper Co. Simple and to-the-point. And I picked up a 10-pack on sale for $5. Can’t beat that!

Moving Announcement Postcard

Rifle Paper Co. Moving Announcement

I’ve been sharing some sneak peeks of the house on Instagram stories as rooms start to come together, but I’ll start posting more here. The first room we completely finished was our guest room. We affectionately call it “the blue room,” and you’ll see why soon.

So there you have it. The Ryans are officially homeowners, and we are totally rocking this whole suburbs thing. I hung a Fall wreath on the door yesterday, and MPR just ordered an Islanders flag for the front flower bed. We got this ๐Ÿ‘ซ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿก

I tossed 496 things in 1 month. Here’s how.

The Minimalism Game

Ever since I was a kid I felt overwhelmed by my own clutter. I held onto everything at risk of needing it again. But at 28 years old, I watched Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things and something finally clicked. It kind of gave me permission to let go of the things I didn’t need or want, but kept out of guilt. Ever since watching the documentary on Netflix, MPR and I have been regularly cleaning out, making trips to Goodwill, and buying more consciously.

But in prep for our move, I wanted to kick it up a notch and really force myself to go through every drawer and cabinet. Enter The Minimalism Game, or #MinsGame for short. The way it works is on the first day you get rid of one thing, on the second day you get rid of two things, and so on for an entire month. You’re technically supposed to compete with a friend or significant other, but I posed it as a challenge to myself.

In the end, I got rid of 496 items this past month. Here are some things I learned about myself in the process, and the full list of items I got rid of.

  1. A lot of my clutter is just things I forgot to throw away.
    In my list you’ll see a lot of old toiletries, makeup, receipts, and packaging. I tend to use items until there’s only one or two squirts left, start a new bottle, and just leave the old one there. Why? I have no idea, but I’m making a conscious effort to stop that going forward. I also tend to hold onto receipts and packaging in case I want to return something. Good plan, but then months and years go by and I still have them, taking up space. I need to set up a system where I clear out these items at the end of every month.
  2. Another chunk of my clutter is things I’m holding onto “just in case.”
    One example is five pairs of prescription glasses (in varying prescriptions). FIVE. I wear contact lenses 95% of my days, but my mother always told me to keep extra glasses pairs around in case something happens to my current pair. But they’re not doing me any good and I’ve never touched them, so I sent them off to Goodwill where they’ll be donated to people who need them. Another example is stacks of extra envelopes from my wedding stationery and Christmas cards over the years. Guess what? A normal letter doesn’t fit in those size envelopes, so I’ve never found another use for them. In the trash they went. And the worst offender? Beauty samples and hotel room toiletries. I take them, but I don’t use them.
  3. I don’t reread books.
    I just don’t. So I got rid of all physical books, either by making trips to my local Little Free Library, bringing them to the lending library in my office, or donating them to Goodwill. I’ve also stopped buying new books and instead borrow them from the library to cut down on clutter and spending.
  4. I really need to channel Marie Kondo and clean out my purse.
    Days 11-13 were completed just by cleaning out my purse. I don’t think I need to go to Kondo’s extreme of completely emptying my purse every night, but I could aim for cleaning it out once a week. After all, why carry around stuff I don’t need?
  5. I held onto things because I didn’t know how to get rid of them properly.
    For example, old checkbooks from an account I don’t have anymore. That graphing calculator from high school math class. Bras that never fit right. The hard drive from my college computer. While it may seem overwhelming at first, I promise you all of your answers are just one Google search away. In the process, I stumbled upon this great article,ย 9 things you didn’t know you could donate to Goodwill.

So there you have it. After one month I am 496 items lighter, and I’ve never felt more organized. I’m getting to the point where I truly believe everything I own is something I love and use regularly. And when you think about it, if it doesn’t fit into one of those categories, why let it take up precious space โ€“ physically or mentally?

The Minimalism Game:
Day 1: necklace from 8th grade graduation
Day 2: two shauna niequist books
Day 3: one cookbook, one YA novel, one coffee table book
Day 4: two magazines, two empty toiletry bottles
Day 5: one well-loved bra, extra spatula, extra potholder, spiralizer, wine stopper
Day 6: 6 DVDs
Day 7: 2 calculators, 3 post-It pads, Hollywood boot straps, Rufio’s old name tag
Day 8: stack of old business cards, old postcard, left over envelopes from Christmas cards, stack of old receipts, junk mail, post-it notes, old notes about a doctors appt, Vera Bradley iPad case
Day 9: old mouth guard, 3 post-it pads, 5 old makeup samples
Day 10: 10 envelopes from old Christmas cards/wedding stationery
Day 11: 6 gum wrappers and 5 old light rail tickets
Day 12: 6 expired coupons, shopping list, Charlotte hounds ticket, old movie tickets, regal crown club receipt, parking pass, petco grooming receipt
Day 13: 11 receipts, appointment reminder card, twist tie
Day 14: One Lesportsac duffle bag, one lesportsac tote bag, one Victoria’s Secret tote bag, that curling wand I never quite got the hang of, a body wash that makes my skin itchy, 2 pieces of junk mail, 2 old lip glosses, 1 sample mascara, 1 old blush, 2 expired nasal sprays, 1 old prescription information sheet
Day 15: 8 skincare samples I never used, 1 shampoo and 1 heat protectant spray with only a tiny bit left, 1 hotel body lotion, 1 nail polish color I don’t like, 2 face moisturizers i don’t like, 1 almost empty perfume bottle
Day 16: Sock bun I ever use, 1 body lotion with only a squirt left, 1 face serum with only a squirt left, 1 makeup brush shampoo, 1 electric razor, 8 empty boxes/packages of stuff, 3 zip lock gallon bags I used for travel for my toiletries
Day 17: 17 old CD cases
Day 18: 18 old CD cases
Day 19: 3 old CD cases, 1 DVD, 15 old sauce/dressing packets
Day 20: 5 wet naps, 2 old cookie icing packs, 1 broken hanger, 1 hat, 1 pair of gloves, 7 text books from college/grad school, 2 license plate covers, my epic wedding planning binder
Day 21: 2 picture frames, 1 card game, 3 coasters, 2 champagne flutes, 6 mugs, 7 bras
Day 22: 5 pairs of shoes, 4 skirts, 1 bathing suit coverup, 7 shirts, 1 pair of jeans, 4 pairs of socks
Day 23: 15 pairs of underwear, 7 pairs of socks, 1 pair of tights
Day 24: 7 shirts, 3 expired antiseptic wipes, 2 tote bags, 1 wristlet, 1 pair of gloves, 4 belts, 1 pair of sweatpants, 3 sweaters, 1 Islander jersey, 1 bracelet
Day 25: 1 lap top case, 7 receipts, 1 map of Detroit, 3 lip glosses, 1 box plastic cutlery, 1 puppy blanket, 3 puppy poop bags, 1 runner, 1 set of sheets, 2 pillowcases, 3 hoodies, 1 wallet
Day 26: 2 purses, 1 wallet, 2 pairs of pants, 1 piggybank, 17 coins of foreign currency, 1 pair of shoes, 1 pair of glasses, 1 hair comb
Day 27: 19 necklaces, 6 rings, 2 watches
Day 28: 24 pairs of earrings, 4 bracelets
Day 29: 15 pendants, 14 pins
Day 30: 1 locket, 8 bracelets, 5 old CCs/IDs, 2 packs of old envelopes, 1 embosser with old address and maiden name, 1 pack of photo thank you cards, 4 pairs of glasses, 8 receipts from old prescriptions
Day 31: 3 receipts from our wedding, 2 shopping receipts, 4 old check books, 1 bag of extra buttons, 2 business cards, 1 old perfume bottle, 1 old compact mirror, 2 old lip glosses, 2 old foundations, 3 old eye shadows, 1 old eyeliner, 1 bronzer, 1 old mascara, 1 makeup brush, 1 old cuticle softener, 1 old pair of tanning goggles, 4 nail polishes

Everything in transit

Something Corporate North

I vividly remember riding in my family’s mini van to Coconuts to pick up Something Corporate’s “North” on release day. It was a typical October evening in upstate New York โ€“ dark, damp, and chilly. As soon as I got home I ran up to my room, put it in my Walkman, sank down to my pink carpeted floor, and devoured it from start to finish while following along in the lyric book.

That album was a constant companion during my early morning bus rides that fall.ย I remember scrawling on ripped loose leaf corners and passing notes in Spanish class that read, “give me just one inch I swear that’s all I need.” On Friday nights I talked to my friends about my big plans, places I was going, places that they hadn’t been.ย It was 2003, and no one understood me like Andrew McMahon.

And that’s why it was so hard to get rid of all of my CD cases and inserts while playing the Minimalism Game. Do I need them anymore? No. To be honest I hadn’t touched them in years, but it made me long for that ritual of picking up a new album and instantly sitting down to memorize every word and riff. Streaming music on Spotify just isn’t the same. But after a fun night of nostalgia (complete with a Fall Out Boy DVD), I went through each book, thanked them for the memories, and tossed them in the trash.

I saved just one lyric book that I couldn’t bear to part with: “Everything in Transit” by Jack’s Mannequin. The artwork alone evokes memories of high school heartbreak, turning 18, and my last summer at home. It was what my friends and I scream-sang in the car when we felt alone in a crowded room. It’s the lyrics I still recite every time I need caffeine in the bloodstream (AKA Starbucks).ย It was the soundtrack to my own personal coming of age story, and it was the perfect closure when I met my future husband on the first night of college, almost one year to its release date.

You can breathe now. We were made for each other.

Jack's Mannequin Everything in Transit

2 Years in Charlotte

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A better place, indeed ๐Ÿ’•

This past weekend I binge-watched the first three episodes of the new Freeform show, The Bold Type. I had been anticipating it for months and it completely delivered, tugging at my heartstrings a bit. When I dreamed about my future in high school and college, I saw exactly what the show’s three main characters were living out: writing for a women’s magazine, attending rooftop parties, and living in swanky apartment buildings. It was everything I worked for from the time I was 15 (well, as much as a girl in upstate New York could).

But then a funny thing happened.

The recession hit and the economy tanked in 2008. Print newspapers and magazines were declared a dying field. When I graduated in 2010, the job market was bleak, to say the least. And I didn’t exactly have the type of parents who would float me in NYC until I found a job. So I dragged my sorry ass back home and developed a Plan B.

Fast forward to now, having just hit my two-year anniversary of living in Charlotte, North Carolina as a PR girl, a provisional member of The Junior League, and someone who, when in doubt, puts a monogram on it. If future-me had tried to tell college-me that I would end up living in the South, I’d have said, “Betch, go home. You’re drunk.” (Remember, this was 2007.)

But if you allow yourself to let go of previous versions of how your life was supposed to be, you’re able to become your best self. Say yes to new opportunities, even if they weren’t in your original 5-year plan. Give yourself room to grow. While I never saw the southeastern United States in my future (other than for vacation), I recently told a friend, “I feel like this is who I was always meant to be.” And I truly believe that.

I created my own Park Avenue.

I look out my office window at skyscrapers (that are reaching towards a much bluer sky) and I’m genuinely happy, perhaps for the first time. When I walk Rufio at night I glance through the windows of the row homes here in South End and wonder who lives there, much like I once yearned for a Brooklyn brownstone where I could raise city kids of my own. I know that in reality you can’t even compare the two, but in my heart, it feels pretty darn close.