Kicking Bad Habits – Adopting New Routines

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Throwing it back to NYC 2013 (coffee game strong)
The smallest things can make a world of difference. Using a blue inked pen instead of black can make a page a little brighter and even lift the spirits, an unexpected visit from a friend can make your world less bleak, a handwritten note in the mailbox can restore your faith in humanity. Paying attention to your own body, mind, and routines can induce change.

I’ve been trying to pay more attention to what my body tells me. I try to listen to my anxiety, my aches or fatigue. I try to the see the signs when I’m close to burning out, when I need a break. The body can tell you so much. I’ve had trouble falling asleep for the past few weeks. I toss and turn while I listen to my heart pounding in my chest. For once, this has nothing to do with anxiety and everything to do with the fourth of fifth coffee that I’ve had that day.

I am a coffee addict. I tried my sip of bitter-sweet and creamy coffee when I was about seventeen. I went to Cuba with my aunt, sister and cousin during March break and since that first taste, coffee and I are rarely seen apart. I drink anywhere from 3-5 coffees a day and probably even more when I’m traveling. Coffee is my vice. Some people have cigarettes, others have alcohol, I have coffee.

I’ll admit that some days, coffee leaves me feeling tired, anxious and wired. I cannot tell you how many times I get home from work and my nerves are shot from the coffee I just had to get on the way home. I also noticed that my skin is getting worse. It’s terribly dry, haggard, and the blemishes are so red and inflamed! After reading several blog posts and articles about the effects that coffee (and dairy) can have on your skin I’ve decided to cut down my coffee consumption.

That’s the first routine I’m changing. From Monday March 20th onward, I am only allowing myself one (*2 on special occasions) cup of coffee a day. I used to think that I had to start my day with a coffee, but that’s just habit, one I need to break.

The next routine I’m changing is the time in which I wake up. I normally wake up at 6:00 A.M. so that I can eat, shower, and get to work an hour early. There is absolutely no need for me to be in my desk an hour early. By 3:00 I’m an exhausted mess with zero energy and yearning for another coffee. I’m never asked to get to the office early and my bosses are big supporters of getting enough rest but I created this routune and I can’t get out of it.

I’ve decided that I’m going to set my alarm for 6:45. I’ll still have time to write, read, and eat. I’ll be able to enjoy my downtime in a quiet house. Perhaps that extra 45 minutes will rid of my fatigue and that constant burnt-out feeling. Maybe with that bit of extra sleep I’ll come home from work with enough energy to exercise and do the things I enjoy.

Finally, I’m going to add something to my daily routine.  I will write every single day. I’ll been working on a collection of short stories, narratives, and essays for ages but I haven’t given it my all. There’s even been a bit of interest from a literary agent and for some reason I keep putting it off. I think it’s time to put it back on. You cannot be a writer if you don’t write. Right?

What habits so you want to break?

Are there certain things in your routine that need to be changed? Let me know!

Routinely yours,

Vanessa xo

 

 

 

 

Foodie Friday – Fish & Chips

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The first time I had fish & chips I was eight-years-old. It was our first night at our new house and we ate on the floor in our empty dining room. I don’t remember how the meal was or if I really enjoyed it, but I do remember sitting in an unfamiliar house and still feeling a blanket of safety wash over me.

Fast forward twenty years and I find myself craving fish & chips when I need to feel comfort. I remember having it as my last meal when I interned at Random House and being super emotional afterward. I was so sad that I got Alex to pick me up at the subway and hold my hand all the way home.

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I tend to order it whenever I’m in a pub, diner, or drive-bar. Ideally, the fish should be flaky and well-seasoned. I should be able to tell that I’m eating REAL fish. The batter should be crisp, golden, and not too thick. There should be a balance of fish and batter – a ratio of one to one if you please. The fries should be thick, golden, crispy, and lightly salted. I don’t mind a bit of grease but I cannot stand when you can tell that they were fried in old oil.

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Last week for date night, Alex and I went to Fionn MacCool’s where I immediately ordered their fish & chips (if you go on a Wednesday it’s only $9.99!).   Although the white wine sangria I started off with was the star of the evening, the fish & chips were flaky and tender with batter that was crisped to perfection! I would have liked the fries to be less soggy and more crispy but the overall meal was great.

What’s your favourite comfort food? What’s your favourite pub or dive-bar? Let me know!

Hungrily yours,

Vanessa xo

Adventure is calling – his name is Alex

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 My husband and I often take separate cars when we make plans during the week since we meet up right after work. On our way home from whenever we are, Alex calls me as soon as we get in the car. We talk as I follow him home or he follows me. With our work schedules being rather different, it seems that these conversations (brought to you in part by Bluetooth), are the longest and most intense ones that we have. The only thing better would be being in the car with him.

On our way home from date-night last week the traffic was haunting; try turning onto highway 50 during rush hour and you’ll know what I’m talking about. I noticed a few cars turning down a street that I’d never traveled down before. I assumed that they were trying to avoid the traffic so I asked Alex if we should follow them. To that he said “Up to you babe.”

“Fuck it. Let’s try.” I said with a confidence that rarely makes an appearance, especially when it is really needed. On we drove. Paved roads turned into dirt ones, assumed roads lead to un-assumed ones. We came across buildings we didn’t know existed, new suburbs and abandoned farms, and a  deranged patch of land with sheds (or miniature homes) littered about. The entire way I kept asking Alex if we should keep going and to that he said “Fuck it babe, you only live once!”

After a series of steep hills and roads that wound so tightly I could barely stay on them, we ended up at a dead-end, nowhere near our home. I stopped the car and looked over at Alex sitting in his. The smile on his face was from ear to ear as he began to laugh. I immediately began to giggle.

Maybe it was the DELICIOUS white-wine sangria I had with dinner or the excitement in finding secret hidden places among the trees, but I felt sheer and utter joy. Nothing clouded my mind, I felt in control and calm and lost and safe. Life should be filled with these little adventures, where you enter into the unknown and find little pieces of yourself that you may have lost along the way.

You only live once.

Adventurously yours,

Vanessa xo

 

the unbreakable Vanessa schmidt.

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Photo Cred: Amanda DiPasquale

Yesterday Alex and I binge watched The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix. I instantly fell in love with Kimmy’s character. Her happiness, determination, passion and positivity is infectious! She reminds me of a younger version of myself; specifically when I interned at Random House. When I was doing everything and anything I could get my hands on. When I was going to events, networking, and enjoying the city. Kimmy reminds me of that girl Amanda DiPasquale featured on her Everyday Beauty series so many years ago…

“She has an exuberant, uncynical view of life that is extremely rare in young people…”

“There is no FOMO for her; no desire to be at some crowded, fake event or win a popularity contest. She’s honest, and you can see no fear in her lovely almond-shaped golden eyes.

“In a Thought-Catalog world of jaded twenty-somethings, Vanessa is all, hey people, life is great – let’s take it on!”

I remember the first time I read Amanda’s post, I was all ME? That’s ME? That’s how people see me? I was blown away by the positivity and support in this post and it kept me going on the toughest of days. Now, almost four years later, I don’t recognize the girl in the photo. The girl these words were written about is practically a stranger. Was I really that fearless? Passionate? Hardworking?

I’m not sure when I began to take life so personally or why I turned my mid-twenties into a suck-fest but it has to stop. As my husband so eloquently put it “You’re unbreakable too. Stop being broken. Stop letting life get you down!”

Unbreakably yours,

Vanessa xo

My BEST Life

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Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed, when there are too many people at home, or when my anxiety gets to its max, I go for a car wash. The vibrant colour of the soap combined with the sound of the brushes smacking against the car create a womb of comfort. I can move forward without actually doing anything. I don’t have to worry. I can coast and allow my thoughts to hatch without any sort of distraction.

Last week I decided to get a car wash because I don’t think I’m living my best life. There, I said it. Like many people (I’m sure), my weeks blend into one another without a moment of real pause for excitement. I wake up early, head to work, work my 8+ hours, come home, eat, work out (if I find the energy), sleep and begin again. I find little joy in what I do. My job is great and challenging in its own right but most days I feel as though I might be wasting my time. I am reminded quite often that a job is a job. You have to work, you have to make money but that can’t be all there is to life, can it?

Apart from feeling unfulfilled at work I noticed that I haven’t been taking care of myself. I used to work out 5-7 days a week and now I’ll be lucky if I get 2 or 3 days in. I used to write and read like crazy and now I don’t. I used to go for a manicure or pedicure and really enjoy pampering myself, now I don’t. I used to stay away from sweets and junk food and now I can’t.

There are many things I am proud of and so many people in my life that fill me with warmth and happiness, but there is a large piece of me that knows I am not living my best life. I keep thinking that if it all disappeared tomorrow, what would I regret not doing? What would I wish I had made more time for? Which routines would I regret not breaking?

Questioningly yours,

Vanessa xo

Anxiety Update – Back with a Vengeance

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I don’t want to write about this but I should because sometimes a step back means taking a leap forward. I hoped that my previous post about anxiety would be my last. I truly believed that I had gained control over it, that I would never have to deal with the severe heart palpitations, nausea, aches and pains, headaches, and panic attacks again. I didn’t have the slightest inkling that it would come back, that I would need to take my medication again. I believed with every ounce of my being that I wouldn’t sit at my desk and have to feel like I was drowning, gasping for air.

Oh, how wrong I was.

A few weeks ago my mom noticed a change in my attitude and I noticed the small signs of my anxiety coming back. It happened slowly, a few sleepless night, the dread of looming Mondays, and a shorter temper. Then suddenly I was over the edge. I became filled with fear and worries. My anxiety wrapping its arms around me like an old friend. I tried my breathing exercises, repeating my mantras, and working out more but to no avail. After yet another panic attack and a conversation with my husband and mom, I decided it would be best if I went back on my anxiety medication.

What I am now trying to figure out is what my trigger is. Why did it come back?  How come I could keep it at bay for months and then it returns with a vengeance?

Helplessly yours,

Vanessa xo

How’s Married Life?

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When family and friends ask me how married life is going, I stand there with a blank look on my face  or stare at my phone with a million thoughts running through my head. Most of these thoughts are works of fiction filled with lust, drama, and romance.

How’s married life? they ask

Oh it’s wonderful! He’s more kind and caring than he’s ever been. He literally cannot keep his hands off me and sends me dirty text messages and brings home bouquets of roses. Only a few months into our marriage and we’ve filled our days with adventure, wine, and music that inspires us to dance.  He spins me around and leaves me breathless.

How’s married life? they ask

Well, it’s nothing like I imagined. It’s like the magician has disappeared and I’m left standing in a reality that I don’t recognize. We’ve let ourselves go and all bets are off. We’re far more gross and weird than we’ve let on and it’s beginning to wear us thin. We don’t go more than a few hours without seeing each other and are constantly getting on each other’s  nerves.

How’s married life? they ask

It’s like having a second full-time job. It’s a lot of work and the work has only just begun. We’re learning how to live together and still stay sane. Some days we want to strangle one another while other days we don’t want to be around anyone else. The hardest part in mixing our two lives into one.

Of course I don’t say any of this out loud. I allow these little stories to flutter around in my head because they seem far more interesting than the current status of my reality. How’s married life? The truth is it’s comfortable. Not much has changed from us dating to us being husband and wife. We have the same arguments, enjoy the same moments, and as much as I wish he was suddenly more weird and gross so I would have something to write about, he isn’t.

How’s married life? It’s wonderful and silly and fun and infuriating and a work-in-progress. What’s married life? It’s different for every couple so it’s difficult to explain.  For us, it’s sweat and farts and morning-breath and smiles and laughter. It’s planning for the future and figuring things out together. It’s comfort and boredom and rare moments  where I still find butterflies in fluttering around in my stomach. 

How’s married life? It’s great!

Happily yours,

Vanessa xo

 

Tell your ‘Boring’ Stories

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Lena Dunham ❤

In spite of writer’s block and simply not making time to write as often as I should, I still call myself a writer. I believe in stories; that a life is made up of so many chapters, narratives, and essays that it’s difficult to keep track of which part of the book you’re living in.

Last week while speaking with Amanda DiPasquale and Sociphoria we discussed the real truth (not alternative fact) that blogs are dying. When it comes to social media, blogs are secondary to Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (Facebook is dead to me).  No one wants to read thousand word essays or posts. People want photos, videos, and 200 words or less. I know it’s true but I wish it wasn’t so for  few reasons.

  1. People don’t seek out what I write about
  2. People don’t write what I like to read

Maybe I write too personally. Maybe more things should kept private. Even my fiction is utterly revealing. I understand the desire for privacy. There is so much pressure to share everything that there comes a point where you don’t even feel like you own your life. There also comes a point where you realize that no one cares.

Well, I care.

I care about your stories as much as your outfit; okay I care way more about your stories than what you’re wearing. I care about whatever you have to say in a thousand words or less because while I’m reading them I feel less alone. For those 10 or 15 minutes I have someone to relate to. I am understood. I feel connected to the universe even though I’m staring at a screen. Stories connect us, that’s why I care.

I care because we’re all just stories; good, bad, and boring.

Care-fully yours,

Vanessa xo

Name Change

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What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet.

Before Alex placed a ring on my finger I hadn’t given much thought to assuming my his last name.  Alex and I aren’t the most traditional couple so those around me assumed I would keep my maiden name (or they didn’t want to ask me another wedding question that might make me hostile). It wasn’t until a few days after we’d been married that I was 100% certain I wanted to be a Buccella.

I decided to assume my husband’s last name rather than legally change it (so I’m still a Grillone). Why? Well the long and short of it is simple: I wanted to.  Alex and I are starting our own family with just the two of us and I want to share a last name with him. Some women have told me that that’s old-fashioned while others think that taking his name means that I’ve “lost” myself. Either way, their challenging opinions or support don’t faze me.

my body = my choice

my name = my choice

my pen = my voice (sorry, had to do it!)

The only complication is the whole I’m a writer thing, so what happens to my social media links, my website, my future novels? I will publish my novels under my maiden name Grillone because that is how the writing world knows me. My social media channels will have a little bit of both. I am Vanessa Grillone and Vanessa Buccella, so why not have both? For me it’s all about respecting the chapters that came before November 11, as well as, all of the chapters that will come after.

Does taking my husband’s last name make me less of a feminist? No. My husband and I are equal. We believe in equal rights, we both contribute financially to the household, we both clean and take care of one another, and we encourage each other to have dreams and pursure them. We are a team not a hierarchy.

That’s the best part of being a twenty-something Canadian woman in the year 2017 is that I can make these kinds of choices. I can do what is right for me and if need be I have the opportunity to fight for what isn’t.

Forever yours (regardless of my surname),

Vanessa xo

Saying Yes!

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I can see the CN Tower in the distance on my drive to work. For a split second it’s as though I’m headed in the direction of my dreams. I’m headed to a place that is big enough to fit my aspirations. A place where it’s okay to still be figuring it out. A place where my bubble can burst and I will be flooded with new experiences, people, and places.

In the spirit of soaking up new experiences and driving toward my dreams, this week was dubbed “the week in which Vanessa does not cancel on plans made and also does not decline any invitation”. It’s not that I’m a flake per say, but plans always sound so exciting until I actually have to put on a bra and leave the house. This week I did not say no, I did not say maybe, I did not concoct and intense diversion or pray for a snow storm. I simply said yes, got dressed, and went out.

I went out almost every week night. I stayed out late and woke up early. I enjoyed dinner with my new aunts and cousins, watched episodes of Impractical Jokers (which is highly addicting!), went to a new restaurant with my old love/new husband (who put on cologne for the first time in YEARS since it was our first date night in months), hung out with my cousin Ashley, AND even traveled south of Steeles to join in on a podcast with Sociphoria and Amanda DiPasquale (from Be The Next Her). It was amazing to chat with Amanda, Amanda, and Patrick about social media, writing, creativity, the impact of full-time jobs on creative endeavors and much more! I don’t want to say anymore about it but I’ll post a link to Instagram and Twitter once it drops.

After a full week of saying yes I am anything but tired. I’m hopped up on the energy and positivity from the conversations I had with some pretty incredible people. Is this feeling available through intravenous?

Most Assuredly yours,

Vanessa xo