What I've Learned During My First Week in Philly

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Followers of my social media platforms probably know that I have relocated from Maryland to Philadelphia. The most commonly asked question I receive about my move thus far has been, “Why? Why Philly? Why now?” Despite assumptions and accusations made regarding my move here, what it comes down to, is this: Why not? Because I can. Because I want to. Because I do not want to reflect on my life wondering, "what if?" I set my mind on moving here. I pursued employment opportunities, and after months of interviews, rejections, and tears, I found success. I'm here.

Although I am clearly still finding my way around the block (and the state) here is a shortlist of things I’ve learned during my first week.

1. This is the closest that I have felt to European Emily. What I mean by that, is who I was when I was abroad in London and Paris. I was more fun-loving, more adventurous, more open, more of a free spirit. It was a side of myself that I never witnessed before, and I hated to leave it behind. So much so, that my parents thought I would purposefully miss my flight back to the States. I've found a more realistic version of that spark here, and I think it's here to stay. 

2. I have a love affair with the Race Street Pier. Over the past week, I've watched multiple sunrises and sunsets with the Ben Franklin Bridge. One day, I even had the urge to run here. While I am fit, I do not consider myself to be a "runner" by any means. Maybe it's the Pisces in me, but I love living near water--even if it is a few blocks away. 

3. I walk anywhere from 12,000-20,000 steps per day and enjoy it. My car is more likely to be found in its new home in the parking garage around the corner, than roaming the streets. And for the first time in my life, I'm okay with that. Who needs cardio when you walk 6-8 miles per day? 

4. I am capable of using all forms of public transportation.  As someone accustomed to driving everywhere, for multiple hours a day, this is a significant personal achievement. One of the first things I knew I had to do when I arrived in Philly was figure out how to get around, especially since I'd be relying on public transportation for work. Embarrassingly enough, I wasn’t even sure where to buy a pass (the obvious answer, the station. Duh, Emily.) I am happy to report that I have survived SEPTA without losing my key card, keys, or way home.  

5.  I’ve spent less on groceries. I’m that girl who buys organic meat. Typically, my grocery expenditure is around $100 per week. I spent only $40 this week by shopping at ReadingTerminal Market--an easy metro ride from my apartment. See ya, Whole Foods. 

6. ...but I have discovered the beauty of Caviar, GrubHub, and UberEats. Delivery cupcakes, anyone? 

7.  Taking a week away from my fitness routine has allowed my body to rest and reset. The chaos of moving and unpacking left me in an anxious haze. I decided to take the week off from my normal lifting, cardio, and yoga routine. I knew that I needed a personal change, but was unaware that my fitness routine needed a remodel, too. Although I am still a part of my yoga training in Maryland, it's not what I expected it to be. I need a break from my floor practice because I do not want to hate it forever. I've joined an aerial yoga studio around the corner from my apartment. I love the challenge of exploring familiar poses from a different perspective. It's an easier way for me to release tension and just let go. Additionally, I joined a barbell club. I am mentally strong, but I want to feel that transition into physical strength, as well. I want to be able to do a pull-up, reach new PR's in my squats, and just carry myself more confidently than I already do. I am always working to be the best version of myself, and I am looking forward to seeing the changes that come with my new fitness endeavors. 

8. There is a significant amount of history here that I neglected. Living in Old City has many benefits, but my inner history nerd is elated walking the streets each day. I feel a need to take part in more touristy activities as I settle in here. Several people have noted that I'm doing activities most Philadelphians have never thought to take part in--and that's why it is important to me. I want to know the city as intimately as I know those whom I love, which is a tall order. I visited Philly once when I was in sixth or seventh grade. All I remember is taking a carriage ride and visiting the Liberty Bell. I stopped by this week, and of course my boots set off the security alarms. After being frisked (let freedom ring..), I stumbled upon Benjamin Franklin's grave on my walk home. History is everywhere if you are open to exploring, and digging a bit deeper into the "normal" sights you see each day.   

9.  I made the right decision leaving my previous job. This was the first time in my life that I negotiated my worth in the workplace. I loved the people I worked with, and was passionate about the work that I was doing, but I do not think I was appreciated or valued in terms of my compensation. I will always be thankful for the platform it provided me, but I am excited for the challenges associated with my new position and the opportunities it may lead to. 

10. I’ve needed this change for longer than I’ve thought. Each day, I seem to find a new reason to love life here. I'm sleeping more, I am much less stressed, I love where I live. My friends and family members can tell that I am happier. So far, Philly looks good on me. 

A Move Toward Happiness

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

I haven’t been committed to a lot of things that I love. Over the last six months, I acted out of necessity and habit, more than desire.  I haven't felt like me. I forced myself to be 'me,' or the idea of me, in hopes of locating that misplaced identity. And it showed. It showed in my over analysis of situations, it showed in my receptiveness and reactions, it showed in my habits, it showed in how I treated those whom I hold close to my heart. But most importantly, it showed within myself.
I have felt misalignment in my writing, and have been unsure as to how to navigate it. I started this blog to share my experience as someone living with herpes. How far I had fallen from myself, how I overcame the stigma, how I learned to love myself again.  I’ve had several of my followers reach out and ask, “What’s going on? We need you. Where is your writing? Why stop now?”  I don’t want to write something just to put media out there; I want it to matter. When I write, it has to come from within. When I truly care about something, or someone, the words will flow. And you know if you’re on the receiving end of them--they’re a direct extension of my heart.
             Something I have needed to accept is that my experience with herpes will always be changing. So will my writing. So will my life. Herpes is a constant force in my body. And yeah, it crosses my mind a couple times a day, but not in the way it once did. It does not overpower my thoughts, nor does it dictate my moods. Given my interests and career goals, herpes will always be a significant part of my identity--but I need to be open to the capacity it chooses to maintain. At present, that piece has taken a backseat. It is not the most important part of my journey. Happiness is.
              Closely associated with my status as a herpes-postive individual, is my journey to self-love. That's the piece I need to focus on. Reflecting over the past few months, love of thyself has been an overwhelming battle. Acknowledging my unhappiness was not an easy thing for me to admit to myself. Mentally, my head was in one location while I was still physically present in another. I was living out of bags. I was not sleeping well. I was not taking pleasure in the activities I once loved and took great pride in. I sincerely think my anxiety encroached into a more depressive state--a side of myself that I had not witnessed before. 
             Relocating to a new city (blog to follow) brought my attention to the people that I love. I have not been the best friend, or the most loving person that I know myself to be, and I'm sorry for that. There are things I wish I could've phrased better, or wish I had been more fully-present for while I was still in MD. Instead of sitting here wallowing in "I wish," I am committing myself to a happier, more balanced me, a journey I look forward to sharing with everyone--but mostly with myself.