the appreciation game.

Less than a year in, Matt and I are hardly experts at this whole marriage thing. I shared some of my newlywed tips recently over at Mrs. K-Fit (I guest posted there again yesterday with one of my favorite recipes!), but really, we are learning every day about being husband and wife — and I like it that way! As of our wedding day, we’d been together for nearly seven years, so it’s refreshing to find that there are still plenty of new things to figure out at this stage of the game.

FullSizeRender (7)

Today, I wanted to share something that we’ve been doing recently at our house that’s been absolutely amazing for our relationship. It’s a small, easy habit that anyone can work into their routine, and I would recommend it a million times over.

Right after the holidays, there was a little tension in the Kosik home. After weeks of travel and generally being out of our normal schedule (in case you haven’t figured it out, we are very much about our schedule over here), Matt and I weren’t doing a great job of listening to each other, and we weren’t prioritizing quality time. I think everyone can probably relate to what I’m talking about — daily life gets in the way, and you can easily find yourself simply going through the motions with the person you love the most. It happens, and it’s totally normal! If you ask me, the important thing is that you know when to say “stop the presses!” and figure out how to get back on track.

During that time, we implemented something that I call The Appreciation Game (honestly, I’m looking for a better name, so I’d welcome your suggestions!). Every night before bed, we each tell the other person something we were grateful to them for that day. If one of us is traveling, we still make this a priority over text or a call. The first rule is that it needs to be something specific. You can’t just say “you were really nice today.” (Let’s be real… if we didn’t think the other person was nice, would we even be married?) The second rule is that you also need to explain why you are appreciative for that specific thing. Putting your gratitude in context  is one tiny little extra step, but it’s really nice to be on the receiving end of it. And that’s it… the only two rules!

This exercise will literally take you two minutes, and it’s totally changed the way Matt and I relate to each other. I find myself paying more attention to all of the wonderful things he does every day (even if I’m annoyed at him which, yes, does still happen), and I’m now more aware of the specific things I can do that will mean something to him because I take the time to ask. I promise — you’ll be totally blown away by the things your partner notices and appreciates. Give it a try!

***Don’t forget to enter the March giveaway so you can win this amazing Lovely Lips lip Balm from India HicksAll you have to do to enter to win is comment on my last post here. I’ll be drawing and announcing the winner on Thursday 4/30! ***

lip color

 

 

march giveaway!

Happy Giveaway Day, everyone! It’s been six months since we started hanging out together in this special place, and I couldn’t be more grateful to each and every one of you. As always, one lucky winner will be getting a token of my thanks in the form of the giveaway prize!

You all know how much I love The Shine Project, and I’ll definitely be featuring jewelry from them again, but this month, we have something new…

My mom (you can find her blogging over here) recently got involved as an ambassador for an awesome lifestyle brand called India Hicks. They make gorgeous bags, accessories, and jewels, and India herself is a pretty cool person, too (with royal ties… love that!). My mom was kind enough to partner with me on this month’s Finding Plan A giveaway, and I’m so excited to be sharing this amazing company with you!

If you know me, you know that I’m super into lip color (it’s one of my major splurge items), so it’s only fitting that the giveaway for March is an India Hicks Lovely Lips Lip BalmIt has shea butter, aloe, and beeswax, so it’s perfect for getting your lips healthy as we finish out these dry winter months — plus it has a soft blush color and a pretty floral smell. What’s not to love?

lip color

All you have to do to enter to win this giveaway is to COMMENT on this post! As always, don’t forget to give your friends a shot at winning by sending them this link — I run a giveaway every month, so there are plenty of opportunities for everyone to win, and I’d love to get more eyes on this contest!

I’ll draw the winner randomly one week from today, Thursday 3/30. The winner will be announced right here on the blog. Good luck!

(Unfortunately, you’re not eligible to win this contest if you live outside of North America, due to shipping concerns.We’re sorry about that!)

gratitude diaries #6

Guys. GUYS. Where did this day go? I feel like I blinked and it was already over. I usually try to get the blog written and posted by early afternoon at the latest, and here I am, typing this out to all of you simultaneously with cooking dinner. I’m trying to replicate the delicious lunch my friend made me when she spent the day working with me at the apartment on last Tuesday’s snow day, and she’s a pretty major boss in the kitchen, so this multitasking effort could easily bite me in the butt before the evening’s over. The recipe involves fancy things like poaching eggs (me? poach an egg?), so we’re just going to have to wait and see how this project goes. Fingers crossed!

After a crazy day, I’m itching for a little gratitude, so let’s go ahead with a new round of Gratitude Diaries, shall we? (You can check out the last one here!) Here are a few (of many) things I’m appreciating today…

17361801_10154515061816676_6147978631802200838_n

  • The mini getaway I took with my mom this weekend. Mom and I both snuck away from our weekends for one night this past Saturday to have a little girls’ night. Originally, we had big plans to fly to Florida or the Carolinas for a late-winter warm weather trip, but this scaled-back version ended up making the most sense logistically for both of us… and it couldn’t have been more perfect. We did some shopping (let me tell you, it feels really good at this point in my freelancing life to finally have some extra spending money to treat myself to new lipstick and a fresh spring coat… and to not have to stress about it!), drank martinis, and saw Beauty and the Beast. It always feel great to have quality time with my fabulous mama.
  • Healthy runs! With all of the crazy changes in temperature we were experiencing here in New York over the last few weeks, I’ve been feeling sort of perpetually under the weather. Now that I’m FINALLY feeling consistently better, I’m feeling such a difference in my half marathon training, and it’s making me endlessly happy. Even though I’ve run a few of these races now, every single year I talk myself into a total state of panic that I somehow won’t be able to pull it off again, and since I wasn’t feeling so physically great over the last few weeks, my nerves were totally getting the best of me. I’ve had some much better runs lately, and I’m finally feeling excited about the race!
  • The Marvelous Mrs. MaiselFriends, you NEED to watch this show. The pilot is up on Amazon, and Matt and I watched it on Sunday night and both loved it. It’s rare in our house to agree on a television show, so don’t take this recommendation lightly! It’s funny and different and interesting and fresh and… well, I’ll just let you check it out and tell me what you think.
  • Springtime. I think I speak for everyone in the Northeast when I say that all of the weird ups and downs with the weather here were getting seriously old. We finally seem to be getting some more predictable temperatures in the last few days, and those temperatures are leaning in the direction of SPRING! I never realize how ready I am for winter to end until it finally ends. Here’s to happy springtime things like bare legs, outdoor meals, and open windows just around the corner!
  • Beauty and the Beast. Growing up, Belle was “my” princess, and the animated Beauty and the Beast movie was always my favorite Disney story (which is saying something, since I grew up as a serious Disney girl). I had a good feeling about the live-action remake that came out last week, but it exceeded my expectations! My mom and I had so much fun going to see it, and we both felt like this version did the original justice. I’m really grateful for that little bit of magic in a world that recently feels sad and scary so much of the time. I can’t wait to take Matt with me to see it again — he just needs to see it… and so do you!

What are you feeling grateful for? Please share in the comments below!

***And come back on Thursday because it will be giveaway time! This month’s prize is super cool and something a little different… you’ll definitely want to check it out : )

six month recap.

Six months ago today, I walked out of my office building for the last time. I remember thinking that I should have been carrying so. much. stuff, but I’d managed to condense the whole of my five years in corporate life into one tote bag. It was the middle of the day, so the subway felt pretty empty compared to my usual commute back to Brooklyn. For once, I wished there were more people with me on the train. Sitting there on my own, none of it felt real. Instead, I sat there on the subway bench, literally not knowing what to do with my hands, smiling like an idiot at no one but myself.

When I got back to Brooklyn, I took myself out for the most Sex and the City-style lunch I could imagine — french fries and rosé at an outdoor café around the corner from our apartment.

To mark the half birthday of this new little life of mine, I made myself a batch of gluten-free brownies at lunchtime today. As I still do so often these days, I had a moment while I was sneaking a taste of the batter where I couldn’t quite believe where I’ve landed: in this weird, amazing place where I get to live in a cross-section of an immensely rewarding and challenging career and a personal life that I never quite imagined.

Instead of one of my usual, more in-depth monthly recaps (you can check out the five-month recap here), I’ve decided to keep my thoughts today a bit simpler. Half a year of going “all in on myself” (as a wise self-employed friend called it last summer when I reached out to her for advice) is worth celebrating.

I’ve sacrificed manicures and free weekends, but I’ve gained the freedom to take a walk in the middle of the day if I need a break.

I’ve learned how intensely personal it feels to have my work rejected, but I’ve also felt the satisfaction of finding success based entirely on my own hustle.

I’ve decided how little it matters for other people to “understand” what I’m doing, because I’ve gained in the past six months a quiet confidence that I’ve never had.

I’ve left behind what feels traditional, but am working hard doing what feels natural and meaningful and difficult to me… which is what (I think) work should be.

I’m humbled, proud, tired, happy, and grateful. I’m excited to see what the second half of this first year will bring, and all the other halves of all the other years ahead : )

Cheers to brownies and bold moves!

 

 

down with snow days. up with mondays.

Back in my corporate life, I didn’t think it could get much weirder than a grown-up snow day.

Here’s the deal: you’re hearing all of these weather reports and you have no idea what to expect from your commute (especially here in New York City, where you never know how the subway system is going to be affected by a big storm), and on top of that, you’re getting mixed messages from your bosses about what you’re supposed to be doing. That whole “use your judgement” line? I never knew what to do with it. I would have been much happier if someone could have just told me how important it actually was for me to drag myself through the snow into the office. Since my colleagues lived all over the city and its suburbs, attendance on a snow day was always a mixed bag. Can you blame me that I always wanted to be part of the group that got to stay home and out of the cold, checking my e-mail periodically but mostly watching old episodes of The Real Housewives? (Spoiler alert: I was rarely part of that group.)

It turns out that experiencing a snow day when you work from home may be even weirder — mostly because life basically just goes on as normal. For the past 48 hours, the entire east coast has been bracing itself for Winter Storm Stella. Everyone’s stocked up on groceries, and my friends have excitedly chatted about how they would spend their work-from-home day day off. Matt and I debated the status of the subway system extensively at 5:30 AM this morning as he tried to predict whether or not he’d be able to make it back to Brooklyn once he’d made the trip to Manhattan. And in all of the chaos — I just went to work. I got out of bed, showered, and dug into my schedule like it was any other Tuesday.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 preset

Don’t get me wrong — I’m super grateful for the fact that I don’t need to venture out in the ice and snow on days like today. I know how miserable it can be to battle the elements on a day that you just. don’t. think. you. should. have to. go. to work. Still, the sort of business-as-usual nature of something like a “snow day” for someone like me who works from home is funny: on most other days, it can seem like this arrangement has tons of perks, but on days like today, you miss out on a pretty fun benefit.

My special snow day treat is that my friend who travels to NYC every week as a consultant is spending the day working out of my apartment with me! I couldn’t possibly let her sit alone in a hotel room all day, and since she lives in DC most of the time, we don’t get to see each other nearly enough. She cooked us a delicious lunch and I’m hoping to deliver the same for dinner. It’s been really nice having a little extra company.

While snow days have become weird, something I decided that I could use a little more of in my work-from-home life is Mondays. I know, I know… I’m full of unpopular opinions today. I just had such an epiphany yesterday about how wonderful a real Monday can be.

For the last two weeks, I’ve been traveling on Monday, and while I’ve been able to get work done here and there while on the road, I’ve started my Tuesdays feeling exhausted and more than a few steps behind. I think it’s been contributing to my slightly blue moods over the last few weeks (you can read more about that here), and it was amazing how much better I felt yesterday starting the week off on the right foot. Even though my schedule is flexible and fluid now, I still have a powerful emotional connection to MONDAY as the start to a fresh week, and there’s nothing better than a productive, positive one. Tuesdays, on the other hand? They’ve always been my least favorite day of the week. Cheers to more good Mondays, everyone!

Stay safe in the snow, friends, and enjoy this (hopefully) last round of winter frolicking : )

for all my ladies.

maya 4

Yesterday was a pretty incredible day to be a woman. Every time I checked my social media feeds, it seemed there were a hundred more amazing testaments to International Women’s Day — tributes to family members, inspirational quotes, photos of powerful female friendships, and articles (by women and men!) featuring amazing stories and reflections about ladies in our society. In the midst of so much political disagreement and tension, it was pretty amazing to see people in my life from all opinions and backgrounds agreeing on one fact: women are worth celebrating.

It was also a relief to see that the fundamental message of International Women’s Day wasn’t overshadowed by the controversy about this year’s Day Without A Woman protest, because I think if it had, the tone of the whole day may have turned more fundamentally negative. I run with a pretty outspoken crew of liberal lady bosses, and still, almost everyone I knew went about their usual business and went to work like it was any other Wednesday. It made me fall in love with these women all over again to see them making a statement with their presence instead of their absence. We all have so much to contribute to our workplaces and communities, and while I respect anyone who took part in the protest, it was inspiring the way so many people took the opportunity to lean in (cliche, I know).

I’ve been thinking a lot about all of the wonderful things I saw and read yesterday, and it fills me with so much hope in these weird times. I love seeing people come together for something positive — to celebrate all that’s already good and to speak constructively about how we can keep moving forward. I have my own serious concerns about how our current political administration is (or, really, isn’t) going to support women. It was hard to watch the first potential female presidency slip away, and it’s been even harder for many of us to wrestle with what comes next. But on days like yesterday, I remember that it doesn’t have to be so uncertain. When I see the grace, confidence, creativity, and intelligence that the women who surround me possess, I actually feel pretty certain that politics isn’t what’s important. We are what’s important.

I’m grateful for the confidence that’s been instilled in me by the incredible women in my family. A girl couldn’t ask for a stronger female tribe — my mom, stepmom, and grandmothers, in particular, push me to always do my best and (even more) to be myself. My four younger sisters inspire me every day — to set a good example, and also to be imperfect. And when it comes to friendship? I hit the jackpot. I wouldn’t want to figure out this life with anyone other than my incredible girlfriends.

My hope for all of you as we wind down from the excitement of International Women’s Day is that you can find grounding in your own support systems. When we have each other, we have it all, and we can do amazing things. Let’s get ’em, ladies!

i want to hear from you (again)!

It’s been a few months since I last asked for input from all of YOU wonderful people, and with Finding Plan A’s half birthday just around the corner (six months, what?), it seems like the perfect time to check in! You have all been so supportive of my writing and my journey so far, and I want to make sure that I’m keeping things fun and interesting so we can have many more months years together : )

I would love if you would take a few minutes to answer some of the questions below. Some of them may be familiar from my last survey. Please, be honest! I promise I can handle the truth.